August 5, Wednesday

REPOST Today’s AMI QT Devotional, provided by Pastor Charles Choe who leads Tapestry Church in Los Angeles, was first posted on June 18, 2014.  Charles is a graduate of University of California, Riverside (BA) and Fuller Theological Seminary (M.Div.).

Devotional Thought for This Morning

“What Training for the World Cup and Godliness Has in Common”

1 Timothy 4:7-11

Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives’ tales; rather, train yourself to be godly. 8 For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come. 9 This is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance. 10 That is why we labor and strive, because we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all people, and especially of those who believe. 11 Command and teach these things. 

angele-kamp-_D7sZ_4B1dI-unsplashThe World Cup in Brazil is in full swing now. For an athlete to get to this stage, there must be years of sacrifice marked by the most rigorous training possible. Only when all potentials are realized, and even then, to only a few, World Cup glory is a minute possibility.

Here in our passage today, the apostle Paul uses the example of physical exercise to illustrate a great spiritual truth. Although there is tremendous value in physical exercise, we are told that we must put as much effort into the exercise unto godliness as these athletes do into the exercise of their bodies. Paul tells Timothy to train himself, not for physical fitness, but for godliness. Do you desire to be godly? If so, are you willing to train yourself with the commitment and rigor of a world-class athlete to become a godly person?

Godliness is not about being perfect in character, for none of us will ever attain that on this side of eternity. Godliness on this side of heaven is attained when our disposition is lined up with the pursuit of God’s glory. Godliness is not one of the many Christian traits we are supposed to aspire to; it is the basic, foundational character upon which the other characters rest. In other words, it’s what holds the Fruit of the Spirit together. Nothing is excluded, and all are tied together.

So what does this look like? It’s like when you do your ordinary duties with an eye to God’s glory.  God is at the center of your thoughts. He is the reason why you do what you do and why you choose not to do what you don’t do. In making Him the end, and not just the means, you are training yourself to become a godly person.

So again, I ask, Are you focusing on what is important to the Lord? Are you avoiding compromise because you cherish God’s glory more? Are you making a conscious effort to adhere to the teachings of Scripture, demonstrating a pattern of godly transformation? Let the Holy Spirit empower you to make the changes necessary to be more like Christ.

Prayer: Lord, may my greatest ambition in life be to pursue godliness. Help me to go after godliness more than I do my career or academic success. Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Galatians 2


Lunch Break Study

Read Titus 2:11-14 (ESV): For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, [12] training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, [13] waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, [14] who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.

Questions

  1. What kind of lives are we called to live according to v.12?
  2. What blocks godliness from being exhibited in me?
  3. How can I make godliness practical throughout the day?

Notes

  1. Life of godliness.
  2. Ungodliness and worldly passions; such as sin, “lukewarmness,” pride, greed, unforgiving heart, etc.
  3. Often godliness is the result of making routine decisions that honor God because you sense the presence of His Spirit in your life; you are motivated and led by the Holy Spirit throughout the day.

Evening Reflection

Did your day reflect your ambition for God’s presence today? Could you honestly say that you pursued godliness today?

August 4, Tuesday

REPOST Today’s AMI QT Devotional, provided by Pastor David Kwon who heads Journey Community Church in Raleigh, North Carolina, was first posted on November 19, 2013.  He is a graduate of Drexel University (BS) and Columbia International University (M.Div.).

Devotional Thought for This Morning

“It Matters Most When We Are Not Feeling It”

Psalm 108:1-13 (NIV)

My heart, O God, is steadfast; I will sing and make music with all my soul. 2 Awake, harp and lyre! I will awaken the dawn. 3 I will praise you, Lord, among the nations; I will sing of you among the peoples. 4 For great is your love, higher than the heavens; your faithfulness reaches to the skies. 5 Be exalted, O God, above the heavens; let your glory be over all the earth. 6 Save us and help us with your right hand, that those you love may be delivered. 7 God has spoken from his sanctuary: “In triumph I will parcel out Shechem and measure off the Valley of Sukkoth. 8 Gilead is mine, Manasseh is mine; Ephraim is my helmet, Judah is my scepter. 9 Moab is my washbasin, on Edom I toss my sandal; over Philistia I shout in triumph.” 10 Who will bring me to the fortified city? Who will lead me to Edom? 11 Is it not you, God, you who have rejected us and no longer go out with our armies? 12 Give us aid against the enemy, for human help is worthless. 13 With God we will gain the victory, and he will trample down our enemies.

lee-campbell-QVnw_3l_n0Y-unsplashThere are times in our lives when we naturally sing and make music in our hearts to the Lord: when things are going well; when we return from a mission trip or retreat; when we finally get that promotion.  When we find ourselves in seasons of abundance, such as these moments, we give God the praise out of the natural outpouring of our feelings.

But other times, we have to stir our hearts to praise God. It is during these times that we need to be reminded that God is still worthy, even when we’re not feeling it. It’s easy for us to just run off our lists of requests when we come to God in prayer, but it’s important for us to start, as David did in this psalm, with praise and declaration of God’s majesty and worth (especially in those times when we’re not feeling it—that’s when it matters most). And as we praise him, often our feelings will follow.

Let’s stir our hearts to praise the Lord this morning!

Prayer: Heavenly Father, I shall praise You whatever the circumstances.  I shall exalt Your holy name whether I am “well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want,” for I am eternally grateful for Your Son who died for my sin.   Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Galatians 1


Lunch Break Study

Read 2 Corinthians 9:6-11:  Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. 7 Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 8 And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. 9 As it is written: “They have freely scattered their gifts to the poor; their righteousness endures forever.” 10 Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. 11 You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.

Romans 12:1-2: “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. 2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

Questions to Consider

  1. What promises are we given in this passage?
  2. How are we able to “abound in every work”?
  3. What do you think Romans 12:1-2 mean?

Notes

  1. If we sow, we will reap. This is not merely a principle to live by (“you reap what you sow”) but it’s a promise from God. God will give us great increase, not only in material things, but spiritually as well.
  2. God gives us an abundance of blessing. He makes sure that we have exactly what we need all the time and in everything we do. Psalm 23:1 says that God’s people “lack nothing” because He provides for us. This not only enables us to do good works, but should also excite us to do them. And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:19) For it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose. (Philippians 2:13).
  3. Romans 12:1-2 calls us to give ourselves to God as an offering. While God calls us to give of our possessions, He also calls us to give our whole selves to Him. Yet sometimes our devotion to God is reluctant and under compulsion. Knowing that God provides for us and abundantly blesses our gifts, let us offer ourselves to Him cheerfully and abundantly (not grudgingly and sparingly).

Evening Reflection

A pastor said, “We hear a great deal about the Lord loving cheerful givers; we wonder where He finds them.”

Are you a cheerful giver? Do you give freely to those around you? Do you joyfully give yourself over to God daily? Pray and ask God to help you become a more joyful in your giving, trusting that He will abundantly bless you.

August 3, Monday

REPOST Today’s AMI Devotional Thought—first posted on December 22, 2013—is provided by Pastor Yohan Lee, a friend of AMI, who in the past has served as a staff at several AMI churches.  He is a graduate of University of Pennsylvania (BA) and Cairn University (MA).

Devotional Thought for This Morning

“A Husband’s Tone-Deaf Response that Led to Gaining Insight on God’s Knowledge of Us”

Psalm 139:1-6

You have searched me, Lord, and you know me. 2 You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. 3 You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. 4 Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely. 5 You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me. 6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.

milad-b-fakurian-UnzOXaCEHck-unsplashWhen it comes to gift giving, I am pretty bad.  Earlier on in our marriage, having been told by my wife, a nurse, how her feet got tired and soar at night, I got her a foot soaker and massage tubs, for Christmas no less.  Upon opening it, her effort to hide the disappointment was matched only by her wondering whether she’d really have to endure a lifetime of “stupid” gifts like these.   

What was the problem with the foot soaker?  Fundamentally, while I demonstrated some knowledge of my wife, the gift showed that I did not really know her.  Sure, the foot bath was practical and probably would have been awesome had she ever taken it out of the box, but what my wife really wanted was something pretty or exciting that tickled her heart, not something practical that you have to plug in.  I did not know this at the time.

In Psalm 139, we get a picture of just how deeply the Lord knows us.  Not only does He know our names, family members, favorite foods, hobbies, etc., He also knows our inmost thoughts, hopes, dreams, fears, and passions, even before we realize them ourselves.  Matthew 10:30 says that, “even the very hairs on your head are all numbered,” meaning that not only does the Lord know how many hairs you have, He cares for you to the level that He knows which one was first and which one was 1,673rd.  Hopefully, this level of detailed care blesses you.

So, do you truly believe that the Lord knows you better than you know yourself?  Do you live in the freedom of being truly known (which can be a scary proposition), yet truly loved?  Doesn’t it seem silly that we still hesitate to trust God at times, considering how much He knows and cares for us?  How else does the Lord’s knowledge and care for you impact your life?

Prayer: Dear Lord, I don’t know what to say, but You know me so well. You continue to love me. So I thank You. It is an absolute privilege that You honor me like that.  You are the King who rules over my soul. Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: 2 Corinthians 13


Lunch Break Study

Read Matt. 14:22-31: Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. 23 After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. Later that night, he was there alone, 24 and the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it. 25 Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. 26 When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear. 27 But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” 28 “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.” 29 “Come,” he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!” 31 Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?” 32 And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. 33 Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”

Questions to Consider

  1. What did Peter do well here?  What caused him to falter?
  2. Do you think that Jesus knew Peter was going to sink?  Why did he then call him out to the water?
  3. Imagine yourself in a boat in the middle of this very lake experiencing the same level of fear and anxiety the disciples encountered at the wee hours of the night.   What is it that Jesus is calling you out of, in faith, so that you can be near to the Lord?

Notes

  1. Peter did demonstrate, however brief, great faith.  Upon hearing the Lord’s call, he immediately stepped out on the water and even took a few steps, thus making him the only person other than Christ to have walked on water.  Of course, his downfall is that he looked around at the circumstances and took his eyes off of Christ.
  2. Of course, Christ knew that Peter would eventually sink since he knew him.  But the exercise gave Peter insight into what is possible and how much his faith needed to grow.  Sometimes, we learn just as much in failure as we do in success.  In the end, Christ was there to rescue Peter.  He is trustworthy, despite our imperfect faith.  We do not need to have perfect faith to walk on water.
  3. Personal response.

Evening Reflection

If you haven’t done so, consider how God’s knowledge and love for you should fuel your faith to trust him?  Is there something that you have been wrestling with, perhaps something you feel God wants you to do?  Can you trust God?  Do you struggle with fear of rejection or feelings of inadequacy?  Do you believe you are “fearfully and wonderfully made”?

August 2, Sunday

REPOST Today’s Spiritual Food for Thought, provided by Pastor Matt Ro who formerly pastored Journey Church in Atlanta, was first posted on May 19, 2013.  Matt is a graduate of University of Pennsylvania (BS) and Biblical Theological Seminary (M.Div.).

Spiritual Food for Thought for the Weekend

“A Very Needed Insight on Growing in Christ”

Ephesians 4:13-16 (ESV) 

“. . . until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, 14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. 15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.”

sean-brown-EOQWxAK9aNk-unsplashGrowth is God’s method.  Maturity is not something that happens easily or overnight.  We often get frustrated when we don’t see growth instantaneously, especially when we deal with sin and our dual natures as Paul talks about in Romans 7 (17 “As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me”). We are Christians if we have placed our faith in Christ and rest upon Him, but there is a process of growth that must follow, and it takes time for this to occur.

Remember what the writer of Hebrews says in Hebrews 5:12: “Though we ought to be teachers by this time, some are still in need of elementary truths.”  Sadly, this is what often happens in our Christian life.  We come into it as a newborn Christians, and for a long time we resist the great principles that make for Christian development.  It takes a while for us to realize that God’s intention with us is something quite different than what we had thought while growing up as natural men and women; thus, initially we resist these changes.  Then, the Lord orchestrates our lives in such a way that we give in, after which, we accept and understand the principles; shortly thereafter, we learn that it takes time to practice these principles even after we have grasped them.  But this is how spiritual growth happens in real life.

Oftentimes, we may discover that growth seems to be so slow.  Right when we think we have matured, seemingly out of nowhere, something happens—perhaps we run into a wrong person—and out it all (i.e., immaturity) comes again.  Then we are discouraged.  We go to the Lord and say, “Lord, what’s wrong with me?”, or we say, “Why don’t you hurry up this process?”  There are times when we feel tired of being immature.  But God has His own time, and sometimes it takes almost a lifetime to mature up fully. After all, it takes God years to grow an oak tree.

Nevertheless, I am eager for growth and love seeing growth.  We must always be in pursuit of spiritual growth, yet not being discouraged when we find we have a long way to go from being like Christ.  Take a moment and ask, “Which direction are you going?

Prayer:  Father, thank You for this reminder of my need to be patient in this process of growth. Help me to accept this fully and to trust that You will complete the good work that You began in me.  Amen.

Bible Reading for Today:  2 Corinthians 12

August 1, Saturday

REPOST Today’s Spiritual Food for Thought, written by Pastor Mark Chun of Radiance Christian Church in S.F., was originally posted on March 22, 2014.  Mark is a graduate of University of California, San Diego (BS) and Talbot School of Theology (M.Div.).

Spiritual Food for Thought for the Weekend

“Taking Responsibility”

Proverbs 16:1-3

“The plans of the heart belong to man, but the answer of the tongue is from the Lord.  All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the spirit.  Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established.”

joshua-kantarges-d0i6NMxY9SQ-unsplashProverbs 16 affirms the wisdom of taking responsibility for every decision we make, based on the fact that the plans of the heart belong to man.  When making life decisions, people make two mistakes:  First, they don’t take full responsibility for their choices; and second, they don’t factor in God’s providence into the outcome of their lives.  I’ve realized that it can be very difficult to work with Christians regarding career choices, relationships, and other life decisions because they are always looking for some sign from God.

In some ways, the modern believer is still looking for some power of divination to help find the will of God.  I think we all recognize that life would be so much easier if we just had a holy version of the eight ball to tell us what to do with our lives. We laugh at something like that, but is that any different than the person who flips open the Bible to a random spot and decides that whatever he reads is God’s answer?  A funny but true story: I had a friend from college who wondered if she would ever get married and decided to go to the Bible for some answers. She just happened to flip to Psalm 56:1 in her NIV and took great encouragement from the text because it told her, “For men hotly pursue me.”  Good thing she didn’t have the ESV because it would have said, “Men trample on me.”

The real question that we need to ask ourselves is, “Why do we want a fail proof method of making life decisions?”  And if we are honest, part of the answer is that we simply don’t want to be completely accountable for our decisions, especially if things go bad.  We need to have someone to blame, even if that someone is God.  I don’t know how many times I have heard people complain about a decision that they had made, and then blamed God for things not going the way they had planned.  This is a very dangerous road to go down in terms of our faith, because it replaces genuine trust in God with our selfish desire to control our lives.   For this reason, Proverbs 16:2 rightfully reminds us that “All the ways of man are pure in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the spirit.”   We know that the will of God is pure and good, but we find ways to screw it up.  In those times when life takes an unexpected turn, we must believe that only God can redeem all our choices and establish our plans!

Prayer:  Dear God, help me to stop blaming my circumstances or people in my life to explain away my failures.  Remind and empower me to take responsibility for my own life.  Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: 2 Corinthians 10-11

July 31, Friday

REPOST Today’s AMI QT Devotional, written by the then (2013) staff of Kairos Christian Church in San Diego, is an updated version of their blog first posted on July 12, 2013.

Devotional Thought for This Morning

“Fear of the Lord”

Psalm 76:4-10

You are radiant with light, more majestic than mountains rich with game. 5 The valiant lie plundered, they sleep their last sleep; not one of the warriors can lift his hands. 6 At your rebuke, God of Jacob, both horse and chariot lie still. 7 It is you alone who are to be feared. Who can stand before you when you are angry? 8 From heaven you pronounced judgment, and the land feared and was quiet—9 when you, God, rose up to judge, to save all the afflicted of the land.10 Surely your wrath against mankind brings you praise, and the survivors of your wrath are restrained.

jonathan-borba-KJVN5H_F2vY-unsplashPerhaps we have grown accustomed to portraits of Jesus with gentle features, cute animals or children, and an abundance of pastels.  Jesus is tender and loving but the radiance and majesty of God are also displayed in His might.

He defeats warriors and armies.  He conquers the enemies of His people, and no man, power or authority will thwart His purposes.  In a world with a great deal to fear, God is to be feared above all things.  Before this Warrior God, the earth itself is silent.

Proverbs tells us that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.  Does the fear of the Lord play a prominent role in your faith?  Reflect upon the majesty of God and ask Him to give you reverence before Him and courage before the world.

Prayer: Lord, I thank You that you are a mighty God.  My heart and my life bow down before You.  I am amazed that the One so great would take notice of me and would use His might to meet my needs.  I thank You that You are humble in Your majesty and loving in Your almighty power.  May my life bring You honor today.  Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: 2 Corinthians 9


Lunch Break Study

James 2:10-13 (NIV): For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it. 11 For he who said, “You shall not commit adultery,” also said, “You shall not murder.” If you do not commit adultery but do commit murder, you have become a lawbreaker. 12 Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, 13 because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment.

Questions to Consider

  1. How does James’ explanation of the lawbreaker apply to showing favoritism?
  2. What is due to those who have not been merciful?
  3. Consider the statement: mercy triumphs over judgment. How does mercy accomplish that?

Notes

  1. James was warning his readers about the danger of selective obedience. This was the great failing of the Pharisees. They would be very scrupulous and meticulous about certain laws while ignoring all the rest. Selective obedience fails to see the fundamental unity of the law. If we refrain from committing adultery but commit murder, we are guilty of breaking the law. To break one link in a chain is to break the chain.
  2. The two proverbs, “Judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful” and “Mercy triumphs over judgment,” perhaps coming from Jesus himself, close the section and make a bridge to the next. The OT clearly teaches that God is a God of mercy (Dt. 4:31) and that he commands his people to act in the same way (Mic. 6:8; Zech. 7:9). Jesus said, “Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy” (Mt. 5:7). He also said, “In the same way as you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you” (Mt. 7:2). Therefore, in not being merciful to the poor, they are heaping up strict judgment for themselves. If they are not showing mercy in the worldly sphere, they will not receive mercy in the eternal sphere.
  3. That mercy triumphs over judgment is also the teaching of Jesus (Mt. 6:14–15; 18:21–35). By showing mercy to others now (which means exhibiting the character of God), they will discover that their own judgment has been reduced.

Evening Reflection

Is God speaking to you through your circumstances these days? Spend some time discerning what God is saying? Is it consistent to His Word?

Prayer: Heavenly Father, I ask for Your mercies which are new every morning. Please help me to extend your mercies to others. Amen.

July 30, Thursday

REPOST Today’s AMI QT Devotional, provided by Pastor Charles Choe who leads Tapestry Church in Los Angeles, was first posted on June 19, 2014.  Charles is a graduate of University of California, Riverside (BA) and Fuller Theological Seminary (M.Div.).

Devotional Thought for This Morning

“Timely Words for Young Leaders”

1 Timothy 4:11-12 (ESV)

Command and teach these things. 12 Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity. 

jonathan-borba-TB6bxZiMhpI-unsplashIf you’ve ever done ministry in an Asian church, you know that there’s often a tacit agreement that older men lead and younger men follow. While wisdom and experience can come with age, it’s not always true that the older men are always more fit to lead. Paul had a similar challenge in the Ephesian church. Timothy, a young leader in his mid-thirties, had the task of leading older men who had been elders for a number of years. Paul had taught these men himself, and yet Timothy was expected to correct some of the things that were going on in the church. That was a tough assignment for the young leader. Timothy needed wisdom and guidance to maneuver through this treacherous path.

So Paul tells Timothy to do two things: Don’t let anyone despise you because you are young, and set an example for the believers. Age should not deter anyone from leading. With humility, a young man can gain the respect of his elders by setting a good example in two areas: speech and conduct. When speech and conduct are marked by love, faithfulness, and purity, Paul says that we earn the right to lead anyone.

So if you want to serve in some leadership capacity at your church, regardless of your age, but especially if you are younger, you must see to it that you guard yourself from being arrogant, rude, critical or sharp in either word or deed. You must learn to be faithful with the small things, showing that you are responsible, reliable and not a promise breaker. And you must remain pure in a world full of vulgarity and sexual misconduct; you must strive to maintain the highest standard of holiness. This is where effective ministry flows from, where people will learn to gladly follow you.

What are some areas you need to work on today? Do you need to clean up your language a bit? Perhaps you need to guard your eyes and your heart from lust? Whatever it may be, consider how the Holy Spirit is convicting you right now through these words. Take some time to repent and pray for God to cleanse you. May others see Christ in your word and deed this day.

Prayer: Lord, in both my speech and my conduct teach me to be loving, faithful, and pure. Amen

Bible Reading for Today: 2 Corinthians 8


Lunch Break Study

Read Titus 1:7-14: For an overseer, as God’s steward, must be above reproach. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain, [8] but hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined. [9] He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it. [10] For there are many who are insubordinate, empty talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision party. [11] They must be silenced, since they are upsetting whole families by teaching for shameful gain what they ought not to teach. [12] One of the Cretans, a prophet of their own, said, “Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.” [13] This testimony is true. Therefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith, [14] not devoting themselves to Jewish myths and the commands of people who turn away from the truth.

Questions

  1. What is Paul’s description of God’s steward?
  2. What is one of the main responsibilities of a church leader?
  3. In contrasting Titus to the Cretans, what is Paul calling Christian leaders to be? How are you doing in this area?

Notes

  1. Someone who is above reproach, which is manifested in not being arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain; but hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined; someone who holds firm to the trustworthy word of God.
  2. To guard the church against false teaching.
  3. Paul calls young leaders like Titus and Timothy to always speak the truth and to be industrious in ministry.

Evening Reflection

Persons who exemplify purity in speech and action are truly an endangered species. The need for such men and women are critical. Are you seriously aiming to be this kind of a person?

July 29, Wednesday

REPOST Today’s AMI QT Devotional, provided by Pastor Barry Kang who heads Symphony Church in Boston, is an updated version of his blog first posted on April 1, 2013.  He is a graduate of Stanford University (BA), Fuller Theological Seminary (M.Div.) and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary (D.Min.).

Devotional Thought for This Morning

“The Path to Happiness”

Psalm 32:1-2 (NIV)

Blessed is he whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. 2 Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord does not count against him and in whose spirit is no deceit.

allison-wopata-4qt6g8Aabcw-unsplashOur culture suggests many paths to happiness:  accomplishments, career, “bucket-list” experiences, and romance.  We seek these things to anaesthetize the pain or boredom that many of us feel.  However, the authors of scripture are clear: the true path toward happiness is to live a life approved by God (Phil 4:11-13).

Both forgiveness and a right relationship with God are the only way we can attain true happiness.  This is why Jesus came—why this past weekend, we celebrated the cross and resurrection of Jesus—so that we could be forgiven and come into a right relationship with God.  We are indeed blessed to have a God who loves us so! God’s mercies are new with every morning (Lamentations 3:23-23).

Let’s begin our day right.  As you prepare for the day, reflect upon your need for forgiveness and thank God for the repentance, cleansing and love that He offers you.

Prayer: Father, I thank You that You forgive my sins anew every morning.  I thank You that the blood of Jesus covers every one of my sins.  Help me to live this day in the freedom that comes from being forgiven and in a right relationship with you. Amen.

Bible Reading for Today:  2 Corinthians 7


Lunch Break Study 

Read 2 Corinthians 5:16-21 (NIV): So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! 18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 20 We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. 21 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

Questions to Consider

  1. How can we be reconciled with God?
  2. Focusing on this passage, what are three consequences of our reconciliation with God?
  3. What does it mean to regard no one from a worldly point of view (cf. Matt 5:43-48)?

Notes

  1. In verse 19, it is clear that reconciliation with God happens through the forgiveness of sins, which is by the work of Jesus Christ.  True reconciliation is not possible without forgiveness.
  2. Some consequences of being forgiven:
    1. “We no longer regard anyone from a worldly point of view”;
    2. We are new creations;
    3. We are given the “ministry of reconciliation”.
  3.  The way of the world is to seek revenge:  “You hurt me. I will hurt you back.”  The way of the Kingdom is to forgive.  As one pastor put it, “forgiven people forgive people.”  If we are unable to extend forgiveness, it may mean that we have not fully comprehended the forgiveness that God has extended to us through Christ Jesus.

When God forgives us, we receive not just peace and happiness, but a new ministry!  As children who are reconciled with their father, we are new creations; we have completely new paradigms of treating others.  We are also given a ministry to help others to be reconciled with God.  When we reach out to others, we are extending the forgiveness that we have received from God.


Evening Reflection

Is there anyone who needs your forgiveness today?  Just as importantly, do you know God’s forgiveness?  Write down a prayer and a plan for anyone who needs your ministry of reconciliation.

July 28, Tuesday

REPOST Today’s AMI QT Devotional, written by Pastor Mark Chun of Radiance Christian Church in S.F., is an updated version of his blog originally posted on March 26, 2013.  Mark is a graduate of University of California, San Diego (BS) and Talbot School of Theology (M.Div.).

Devotional Thought for This Morning

“Praying with Expectation”

Psalm: 28:1-2; 6-7

To you, O LORD, I call; my rock, be not deaf to me, lest, if you be silent to me, I become like those who go down to the pit. 2 Hear the voice of my pleas for mercy, when I cry to you for help, when I lift up my hands toward your most holy sanctuary. 6 Blessed be the LORD! For he has heard the voice of my pleas for mercy. 7 The LORD is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts, and I am helped; my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to him.

alexander-possingham-RIQ96s3Uzso-unsplashOne key mark of spiritual growth is the amount of time that a Christian devotes to prayer as well as what he actually prays (substance).  That is to say, there needs to be both quantitative as well as qualitative growth in our prayer lives.  Of course, this is not something that is easily accomplished, for it would take years of concerted efforts to build the spiritual discipline of prayer. And to develop a healthy prayer life, embodying consistency, perseverance, and faith is necessary.  One key lesson gleaned from David’s life is his unwillingness to accept the silence of God.    

Undoubtedly, every one of us will go through periods when it seems that our prayers are unheard, and thus, there is no response to our cries.   Refusing to accept those conditions, David confesses that only those who have rejected Him deserve such a fate.

Too often we accept the silence of God as normative when it should be a rarity.  While we are completely dependent on God for answered prayers, we have the privilege of approaching the throne of grace with confidence.  As we experience answered prayers in greater frequency, the more our trust will grow and the more our trust grows, the more effective our prayer lives will be.

When is the last time you received an answer to prayer?  Pray with the expectation that God hears your every prayer.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, teach me how to pray as you prayed to the Father.  Even as I go through periods of silence, teach me to persevere and to wait upon you in expectation.  May my faith be strengthened and my trust increase as I pray for your will to be done in my life.

Bible Reading for Today: 2 Corinthians 6


Lunch Break Study

Read Luke 18:7 (NIV): Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. 2 He said: “In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared what people thought. 3 And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, ‘Grant me justice against my adversary.’ 4 “For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, ‘Even though I don’t fear God or care what people think, 5 yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually come and attack me!’” 6 And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. 7 And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? 8 I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?”

Questions to Consider

  1. What is the lesson that is to be learned from this parable?  (Luke 18:1)
  2. Why is God compared to a lazy and indifferent judge?
  3. What is the basis of God’s answer to our prayers?  (Luke 18:7)

Notes

  1. The lesson is to always pray and not lose heart as we wait for God to answer. When we ask God to right the wrongs committed against us—that is seeking justice.  When we take justice into our own hands—that is seeking revenge.   One of the great benefits of prayer is asking for God’s justice to prevail when we have been sinned against.  In this way, prayer keeps us from being consumed by the poison of bitterness, unforgiveness, and anger.   
  2. Sometimes the comparison of God to this wicked judge can be confusing.   This is a literary device used in the Scriptures called a fortiori reasoning.  Essentially, the questions Jesus is asking is the following:   “If the unjust judge yielded to the continuous cries of the widow, who was a stranger, and granted her the vindication she sought, how much more will God, who is just and their loving Father, hear the cries of his chosen ones who cry out to him day and night.”
  3. The basis of God’s answer to our prayers is two-fold: God’s covenant agreement with his people (i.e., the church consisting of those who believe Jesus as their Lord and Savior) and our unceasing prayer, which is a sign of our faith.             

Evening Reflection

How has your prayer life been?  Have you been mindful of answered prayers or things that God has spoken to you during the day?  Write down any words or impressions that might be from God.   

July 27, Monday

NEW Today’s AMI QT Devotional is written by Esther Chailim. Esther, a graduate of University of California, San Diego, is currently serving as the director of ministries at Kairos Christian Church (San Diego) and pursuing a Masters in Christian Ministry and Leadership at Talbot Theological Seminary.

Devotional Thought for This Morning

“Blind Spots”

Matthew 7:3-5

“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 4 How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”

alessandro-sacchi-qEslGOcI_Kk-unsplashAbout two months ago, news broke about Mr. George Floyd’s murder.  This brought many into an awakening of realizing the grave injustices that still exist in our world today.  Of course, this isn’t anything new, but this one felt different.  I, along with many people in the world, realized that something had to change.  I realized that I needed to change. And so, I have not only been on this journey of learning, listening and lamenting, but I have also had to take a really honest look at my own life and the ways in which I have personally played a part in contributing to the racism that exists in our world.  It has been a very humbling and tiring season, but I believe that this work must be done in order for changes to happen.

For me, growing up as an Asian American, I witnessed overt racism within my own family, mainly through racial jokes, slurs, and comments.  If you were to ask me if my family were racist, I would unquestionable, without hesitation, say, “Yes! Absolutely.”  I, however, never thought that in my mind, I could be a racist too.  Rather, it was easy for me to point my finger at others and judge others for being that way, while not really looking at my own blind spots.  The hardest revelation during this journey has been that I, too, have racial biases that have been formed in me and have impacted the way I see or interact with others.

One of the most eye-opening moments for me was actually a few years back during a conversation I had with a friend who speaks the same native dialect as my family.  We were discussing how growing up Asian American, we had always been raised to think of Black and Brown people as less than.  I had realized that through different interactions and comments made by my family, I had formed this idea that associating with Black and Brown people was not acceptable in my family and that it would bring shame and dishonor to them.  But I think the most shocking thing of all for me was when I realized that the term we used for “Black person” was in fact a very derogatory term.  Its literal translation is “black ghost.”  I was dumbfounded because, all my life, I had thought that the way I was referring to Black people was the proper way to say it, never really thinking twice about the translation, or even that there could be other ways to say it.  It wasn’t until my friend pointed out that there was another way to say “Black person” in my language that I realized I had been using the derogatory term all my life.  This shook me to my core because I realized that even without me knowing it, I was contributing to this racism that I knew in my head was not okay.  And for the first time, I had finally understood how deeply embedded and wrong some of these things I learned as a child were.  I have realized that these seemingly subtle comments against the black and brown community have had a very long-lasting impact in me.  Things that are still in me to this day and things that I am still trying to unlearn.

The word of God says in Matthew 7:5 that we need to take the plank out of our own eye before we can see clearly to remove the speck from our brothers’ eyes.  I believe the killing of Mr. George Floyd was different for all of us because, this time around, it made us realize that there was a deeply embedded problem in our nation.  And I think for the first time in a long time, many people, like myself, were realizing that it wasn’t just about THOSE racist people out there, but rather a call to look at ourselves and acknowledge that we might have been or continue to contribute to the problem.

Prayer:  Forgive us, Lord, for the ways in which we have been complicit in the racial and social injustices that exist around the world.  Reveal to us where our own biases and blind spots are so that we can work towards change.  Humble and refine us, Jesus, to be more like You.  May we continue to do the work of justice and be a body of peace in this world.

Bible Reading for Today: 2 Corinthians 5


Lunch Break Study

Read Amos 4:4-6: “Go to Bethel and sin; go to Gilgal and sin yet more. Bring your sacrifices every morning, your tithes every three years. Burn leavened bread as a thank offering and brag about your freewill offerings—boast about them, you Israelites, for this is what you love to do,” declares the Sovereign Lord. “I gave you empty stomachs in every city and lack of bread in every town, yet you have not returned to me,”
declares the Lord.”

Questions to Consider

  • Describe how the people in these verses were portrayed?
  • What does the “ruin of Joseph” mean?
  • What does this passage reveal about God’s heart for justice?

Notes

  1. This is in reference to Jeroboam II and his royal court.  They had won many battles and acquired much wealth in doing so.  They were powerful and had lots of money, living on ivory beds, investing music and eating lambs.  Simply put, they were privileged.
  2. The ruin of Joseph refers to the devastation of the “ordinary” Israelites (the poor city dwellers and peasants)
  3. God was protesting against the leadership of Israel. It’s clear that the Lord is against those with power and privilege to live in self-indulgence and only live as if they were the only ones that mattered. Rather, he wants those with much to grieve and care for those with little (the poor, oppressed and marginalized).

Evening Reflection

Spend some time reflecting on how your thoughts have been formed in respect to race.  Ask God to reveal some of your biases and how that might be affecting the ways you see or interact with others that are different from you.  Are there things that need to be unlearned?   Are these thoughts consistent with biblical truths?  Allow the Holy Spirit to speak and bring revelation to you in this time.