November 23, Wednesday

REPOSTToday’s AMI QT Devotional, provided by Cami King—now a friend of AMI— was first posted on November 9, 2016.  Cami served faithfully as a staff at several AMI churches in the past

Devotional Thought for This Morning

“Against All Odds”

Hebrews 7:23-28

The former priests, on the one hand, existed in greater numbers because they were prevented by death from continuing, 24 but Jesus, on the other hand, because He continues forever, holds His priesthood permanently. 25 Therefore He is able also to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them. 26 For it was fitting for us to have such a high priest, holy, innocent, undefiled, separated from sinners and exalted above the heavens; 27 who does not need daily, like those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins and then for the sins of the people, because this He did once for all when He offered up Himself. 28 For the Law appoints men as high priests who are weak, but the word of the oath, which came after the Law, appoints a Son, made perfect forever.

Can you guess the odds of winning the lottery? Although the exact numbers change based on various factors, the odds of winning are close to 1 in almost 14 million (if you’re picking six numbers to win the Jackpot). If you play to the Mega Millions lottery, your chances are 1 in almost 176 million. The National Weather service reports that you’re over 20,000 times more likely to be struck by lightening than to win the lottery. And with these odds, people still play the lottery to an alarming degree. Don’t believe me? How much money do you think Americans spent last year trying to win the jackpot? According to the records of the North American Association of State and Provincial Lotteries, Americans spent $70.15 billion on lottery tickets last year. SEVENTY-BILLION-DOLLARS! 

Yet against all the odds, people do actually win the lottery. They take home millions and watch all their dreams come true as they live happily ever after, right? Well, not exactly. While some lottery winners do have positive experiences, more often than not, those who’ve won the lottery point to it as the beginning of great struggle in their lives. Groups that follow past lottery winners connect winning the lottery to subsequent divorce, familial estrangement, suicide, reckless and criminal behavior, drug use, gambling, and even murder. But more so than these dramatic stories, most lottery winners express profound disappointment – that winning the lottery did not do for them what they anticipated.  Actor and comedian Jim Carey once said, “I think everybody should get rich and famous and do everything they ever dreamed of so they can see that it’s not the answer.” 

We bet on a lot of things. Maybe not the lottery, but we leverage our precious resources (the most precious, being our lives) in pursuit of success, comfort, recognition, acceptance, and sometimes, just plain old stuff… all of which will eventually perish. But we have a sure thing in Jesus, salvation that lasts forever and the promise of His Kingdom. May we bet our lives on that sure thing today and leverage our resources for riches that never fade. 

Prayer: Lord, help me to leverage my life for You today. May I use the resources you have so graciously given me – my time, talents, and treasure – in pursuit of Your Kingdom. May the assurance of my salvation provide the foundation for all that I do. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

Bible Reading for Today:Hosea 10


Lunch Break Study

Read John 10:7-10: So Jesus said to them again, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. 8 All who came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them. 9 I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.

Questions to Consider

  1. What does Jesus call all the things (other than Himself) that offer us life? What are those things in your life? 
  2. What is Jesus’ promise to those who enter through Him (put their faith in Him)? Spend some time reflecting on this promise. How does His promise encourage you today? 
  3. In the New Testament, the terms “abundant life” and “eternal life” are closely connected. What is abundant life? 

Notes

  1. He calls them thieves and robbers because nothing and no one apart from Jesus gives life – they only take it away. God Himself is the source of all life. 
  2. In v. 9, Jesus promises that they will be saved and will find pasture (protection, security, and provision). 
  3. Eternal life and abundant life are connected, because when God promises us eternal life, He doesn’t just mean we’ll live forever. He means we will live forever abundantly – in other words, He is speaking to the quality of our lives. Jesus desires that we have the best quality of life possible. We aren’t truly living, until we’re living with Jesus! 

Evening Reflection

But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you (Mt. 6:33).

“This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent (John 17:3).

Spend time tonight meditating on the verses above. What are the tings you’re seeking that you believe will give you abundant (the highest quality of) life? Jesus says that eternal and abundant life is to know God. How do Jesus’ words speak to you tonight? Spend time talking to God about these things.  

November 22, Tuesday

REPOST Today’s AMI QT Devotional, first posted on November 22, 2016, is provided by Pastor Yohan Lee—now 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

“Attraction to Loyalty”

Hebrews 10:19-25

Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, 20 by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

I never understood the fascination with gangster movies.  Sure, movies like The Godfather or Goodfellas are entertaining, but I know people who think these are two of the greatest films ever made and just flock to the genre in general—maybe you are one of them or have friends who are. But I have a theory that explains some of the appeal of gangster movies: it has to do with this concept of loyalty.  In every gangster movie there is a collection, group, or family to which all must pledge their loyalties.  The expectation is that everyone must be willing to do or sacrifice any price for the “family,” and betraying it is the unpardonable sin.  Of course, in the context of these movies, these loyalties are stretched to criminal levels; yet people are attracted to outrageous displays of loyalty—even if it is exhibited in a twisted manner.  Deep down we all want to be a part of a group that is utterly loyal to one another; we want to be around people who would do anything for us; and we want to have friends for whom we would do anything.  We are both fascinated and attracted to great loyalty.  

When I read today’s passage, I am reminded that loyalty is a huge aspect to the Christian faith.  Our God is loyal to us, and He also expects our loyalty in return (people don’t say this very often because it feels legalistic).  This passage details how in loyalty (or grace), Christ acted as our great High Priest, which allows us to enter into communion with God; no longer would a curtain separate us from the Most Holy Place.  And there’s no need to fear: God’s loyalty demands for “the family” will not push us into the dark underworld; rather, it’s just the opposite. His demands bring us closer to Him and His people.  From verses 22-25, we see three exhortations for us in response to God’s great loyalty, all starting with the phrase “Let us”: let us draw near to God (v. 22); let us hold fast to our faith (v. 23); and let us encourage each other for good and continue to meet together (vv. 24-25).  

This morning, reflect on what a joy it is to be in “the family,” as well as God’s loyalty, grace, and love for you.  Then ask yourself: How loyal am I to the family? Am I willing to draw near to God, hold on to the faith, and encourage my brothers and sisters?  1 John 5:3 reminds us that “his commands are not burdensome.”  

Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank You that You were loyal to me first.  No matter what I’ve done in the past, or the sins I continually fall into, You are always ready to forgive me.  Help me this day to draw near to You, stand for You, and love the family of God.  Amen.

Bible Reading for Today:  Hosea 9 


Lunch Break Study

1 John 4:7-21

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9 In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. 10 In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.13 By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. 14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15 Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. 16 So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. 17 By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. 18 There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. 19 We love because he first loved us. 20 If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot[a] love God whom he has not seen. 21 And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.

Questions to Consider

1.  What does this passage teach about those who love and those who do not love? 

2.  What else can we learn about love through this passage?  

3.  Are there some people you are struggling to love? 

Notes

1.  In verses 7-8, John states that those who love know God and have been born of Him.  And conversely, those who say they know God, but do not love are liars (v. 20).  

2.  Some other truths about love: We love because God loved us first by sending Christ (v. 10, 19); loving one another is our appropriate response to God’s love (v. 11); those who abide in love abide in God (v. 16); love casts out fear (v. 18); and if we love, we cannot hate (v. 20).  

3.  Personal application question.


Evening Reflection

Today’s theme was responding to God’s love by loving others.  This is a requirement for the believer.  Are there people in your life who you need to love and forgive?  What does it mean to embody God’s love to your neighbors, co-workers, and family?  

November 21, Monday

REPOSTToday’s AMI QT Devotional, provided by Pastor Ryun Chang (AMI Teaching Pastor), was first posted on July 20, 2015.

Devotional Thought for This Morning

“The Cure for Sin”?

1 King 19:1-9

Now Ahab told Jezebel everything Elijah had done and how he had killed all the prophets with the sword. 2 So Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah to say, “May the gods deal with me, be it ever so severely, if by this time tomorrow I do not make your life like that of one of them.” 3 Elijah was afraid and ran for his life. When he came to Beersheba in Judah, he left his servant there, 4 while he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness. He came to a broom bush, sat down under it and prayed that he might die. “I have had enough, Lord,” he said. “Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.” 5 Then he lay down under the bush and fell asleep.  All at once an angel touched him and said, “Get up and eat.” 6 He looked around, and there by his head was some bread baked over hot coals, and a jar of water. He ate and drank and then lay down again.  7 The angel of the Lord came back a second time and touched him and said, “Get up and eat, for the journey is too much for you.” 8 So he got up and ate and drank. Strengthened by that food, he traveled forty days and forty nights until he reached Horeb, the mountain of God. 9 There he went into a cave and spent the night.

Some think that a right theology can cure them of the sin problem.  For certain Reformed believers, the imputation of Christ’s righteousness is the cure for all sin.  According to some Wesleyans who adhere to the doctrine of “Sanctification Entire,” we can reach a permanent spiritual state in which we no longer struggle with sin but have only love for God and others.  But what a mega-church pastor in Singapore said tops them all: “Your sins were imputed to Jesus so that they would never be imputed to you. . . . [So] stop examining yourself and searching your heart for sin.”  What?

What is most telling about today’s text is this: we are WEAK!  Remember, Elijah was a powerful man of God, for he singlehandedly took on 850 false prophets and “won” the battle of whose God was greater.  While the shouting and slashing by nearly thousand men did nothing, when Elijah prayed, “the fire of the LORD fell and burned up the sacrifice” (1 Kings 18:38).  The stunned crowd, after shouting, “The LORD—he is God” (v.39), seized the false prophets and slaughtered them (v.40).    

But by next day, this brave man lost all will to live, praying that “he might die.”  Why?  Because Elijah, who did not bat an eye when threatened by 850 men, flinched when a lone woman—Queen Jezebel—threatened his life (19:2): “Elijah was afraid and ran for his life” (v.3).  

Certainly, good theologies and programs can make us better, but don’t be fooled into thinking that our fallen nature is eradicated—the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit has diminished its potency but when allowed, it can come back with vengeance. That is why we often fumble and trip over temptations and trials.

But the fact that God didn’t condemn Elijah for being weak and failing should comfort us.  Instead, God allowed him to rest, providing warm food and refreshing drinks to strengthen the prophet.  And that’s what will get us through: daily reliance on a good and gracious God who gives us a way out when we are tempted (1 Cor. 10:13), forgives us when we sin, and strengthens us when we are weak.    

Prayer: God, You are my Rock and Fortress in whom I trust.  I possess nothing that would help me to overcome the temptations and trials of life.  Please deliver me from my sinful and weak nature.  I’m grateful that I have a real hope in Christ whose Spirit empowers me to prevail. Amen. 

Bible Reading for Today: Hosea 8


Lunch Break Study 

Read Mark 14:66-72: And as Peter was below in the courtyard, one of the servant girls of the high priest came, 67 and seeing Peter warming himself, she looked at him and said, “You also were with the Nazarene, Jesus.” 68 But he denied it, saying, “I neither know nor understand what you mean.” And he went out into the gateway and the rooster crowed. 69 And the servant girl saw him and began again to say to the bystanders, “This man is one of them.” 70 But again he denied it. And after a little while the bystanders again said to Peter, “Certainly you are one of them, for you are a Galilean.” 71 But he began to invoke a curse on himself and to swear, “I do not know this man of whom you speak.”

Gal. 2:11-13: But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. For before certain men came from James, he was eating with the Gentiles; but when they came he drew back and separated himself, fearing the circumcision party. 13 And the rest of the Jews acted hypocritically along with him, so that even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy.

1 Cor. 6:18: Flee from sexual immorality; 10:14: Flee from sexual immorality; 2 Tim. 2:22: So flee youthful passions.  

Question to Consider

1. Seeing human nature through Peter’s antics, what can we learn about it?

2. To a Christian who was disappointed at his wavering faith, I said, “Look, don’t get too down on yourself; remember that Peter had denied Jesus three times.”  This person, then, responded, “That’s before he was baptized with the Holy Spirit.”  What do you think I said to him?

3. Of course, we should not play dead as if we cannot overcome sin whatsoever.  If we had a healthy respect for sin, what would we do?

Notes

1. First, it indicates that we are capable of caving in to sin when our faith in Christ may result in a significant personal loss; and second, we are liable to compromise our faith in order to be accepted by the right crowd (for Peter, it was the Jews).

2. Both Peter and Barnabas committed a blatant hypocrisy (pretending that they weren’t eating non-kosher food with Gentiles) even after they had been baptized and filled with the Holy Spirit. You don’t just transcend your fallen nature by some theology or experience—even if it is good and wonderful.  

3. We don’t play with sin!  Yes, we should pray and read the Bible, but also, we should not  allow our nature to get its way by fleeing from any and every thing that is lurking to tempt us.


Evening Reflection

It would be a lie to say that we weren’t tempted today.  What temptations did you face?  How did do you handle them?  I hope you haven’t become so numbed to sin that you don’t feel any struggle when you are actually being tempted.  Ask God what areas in your life need to be awakened in order to, at least, struggle with sin.  Then, pray for strength to overcome it instead of always giving into lies, gossips, pornography, greed, anger, etc. 

November 20, Sunday

REPOST Today’s Spiritual Food for Thought, first posted on March 14, 2015, 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).

Spiritual Food for Thought for the Weekend

“Feelings of Jealousy”

1 Samuel 18:6-9

 As they were coming home, when David returned from striking down the Philistine, the women came out of all the cities of Israel, singing and dancing, to meet King Saul, with tambourines, with songs of joy, and with musical instruments. 7 And the women sang to one another as they celebrated, “Saul has struck down his thousands, and David his ten thousands.” 8 And Saul was very angry, and this saying displeased him. He said, “They have ascribed to David ten thousands, and to me they have ascribed thousands, and what more can he have but the kingdom?” 9 And Saul eyed David from that day on.

Have you ever had a friend or knew somebody who was always good at everything? Smarter, funnier, better looking, more social, more successful, etc. When I was growing up, I had a friend who fit this description, and as much as I cherished our friendship, I couldn’t help but feel jealous. I grew up in a culture where comparing yourself to others was something innate within us. Mothers would always compare their children to other children like trophies to be bragged about at their next hangout.

This culture doesn’t stop there, but I see it as I walk through San Francisco today where you can feel the co petition. It’s almost as if no one can actually be genuinely happy for someone’s success without a part of them feeling, “Where’s mine?”  Charles Spurgeon describes this reality as “the depravity of our nature that we do not readily rejoice in the progress of others if they leave us behind; but we must school ourselves to this.” Everything we do is relative to what the person next to us does, and as we compare ourselves to each other, jealousy is inevitable. We’ve all seen it, been a part of it, guilty of it, and we all know the dangers of it.

Here in this passage, we see that jealousy takes root in the heart of Saul. Any victory that Saul took pride in, David accomplished more. Saul was king by title, but it seemed like David was king in the hearts of the people.  Saul compares his worth to that of David’s achievements and forgets that it was God who had ordained Saul as king.  Jealousy leads to Saul’s unexplainable feelings of anger, discontentment, and threat as he is now crippled with fear and insecurity. It not only destroys Saul’s calling over his life and his heart, but also the work that God is doing through David.

It’s easy to dismiss such an account because maybe we have not let our jealousy lead to murder. However, how many times has jealousy robbed us of our own calling and anointing over our lives? Rather than understanding and living in the identity that God has called us in, we see others and can’t help but feel less competent, and it’s hard to feel genuinely happy for them. Thus, we strive to be more like them, to be better than them, and create expectations that only leave us emptier. Essentially, when we are being jealous, we discredit the unique gift and calling God has over our lives. As D.L Moody said, “My friend, if you are jealous, the only man you can hurt is yourself.”

Take some time to reflect on areas in your life where you find feelings of jealousy that have led to feelings of bitterness and insecurity. Maybe you feel like you’re not good enough and you’re asking, “Where’s mine?” Remember God the Father, His name is Jealous and unlike people, His jealousy is rooted in an unexplainable love for you. He loves you for who you are and not for what you can offer or for your achievements but simply as His child. Remind yourself and believe that He has a special calling over your life tailored to who you are. Remember all the things He has done and thank Him. Let us strive to not be like others, but to be more like Christ.  

Prayer: Heavenly Father, it is so easy to feel jealous of those who seem to have everything.  Remind me that as long as Jesus is my life—and he is indeed in my life—I have all that I will ever need in this age and the age to come. Thank you.  Amen. 

Bible Reading for Today:  Hosea 7

November 19, Saturday

REPOST Today’s Spiritual Food for Thought, provided by Pastor David Kwon who heads Journey Community Church in Raleigh, North Carolina, was first posted on November 28, 2015.  He is a graduate of Drexel University (BS) and Columbia International University (M.Div.).

Spiritual Food for Thought for the Weekend

“I Hate Waiting”

 Esther 5:1-8

On the third day Esther put on her royal robes and stood in the inner court of the king’s palace, in front of the king’s quarters, while the king was sitting on his royal throne inside the throne room opposite the entrance to the palace. [2] And when the king saw Queen Esther standing in the court, she won favor in his sight, and he held out to Esther the golden scepter that was in his hand. Then Esther approached and touched the tip of the scepter. [3] And the king said to her, “What is it, Queen Esther? What is your request? It shall be given you, even to the half of my kingdom.” [4] And Esther said, “If it please the king, let the king and Haman come today to a feast that I have prepared for the king.” [5] Then the king said, “Bring Haman quickly, so that we may do as Esther has asked.” So the king and Haman came to the feast that Esther had prepared. [6] And as they were drinking wine after the feast, the king said to Esther, “What is your wish? It shall be granted you. And what is your request? Even to the half of my kingdom, it shall be fulfilled.” [7] Then Esther answered, “My wish and my request is: [8] If I have found favor in the sight of the king, and if it please the king to grant my wish and fulfill my request, let the king and Haman come to the feast that I will prepare for them, and tomorrow I will do as the king has said.”

We live in a culture where we do not like to wait.  Everything is instant. You no longer have to wait until you get home to know if someone called or wait to find information on a certain subject because of the Internet. You can watch entire episodes of television shows in one sitting.  One newspaper said it best:

“The demand for instant results is seeping into every corner of our lives, and not just virtually. Retailers are jumping into same-day delivery services. Smartphone apps eliminate the wait for a cab, a date, or a table at a hot restaurant. Movies and TV shows begin streaming in seconds. But experts caution that instant gratification comes at a price: It’s making us less patient.”  – Boston Globe

When Esther hears about the evil plot of Haman to annihilate the Jewish people, with help of Mordecai, she comes up with her own plan.  She decides to talk to the king, which was risky because she knew that if she approached the king uninvited, he could have ended her life.  Determined, she tells the king that she has prepared a feast for him, and she wishes that Haman would come join them (v.4).  In her planning, Esther demonstrated wisdom and did not hurry the process but rather waited on the Lord’s timing.  She was not rash or impatient.  She did not rush to the king or sell out Haman right away.  Her self-control and boldness once again demonstrates her confidence in the Lord.  Here are a few lessons for us today:

  1. As we plan our lives, we should wait upon the Lord to guide us.  There is nothing wrong with planning out our own lives but as we do, we need to trust and wait on the Lord to discern His will.  As we face decisions, wait for Him, and ask for clarity and wisdom.  As we wait, spend time in prayer and the Word.  Ask other people for wise counsel.  Proverbs 19:21, “Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the LORD that will stand.”
  2. When working through an unpleasant situation, trust the Lord for enduring patience.  Think of the patience Esther must have had to refrain from telling the king about Haman when she had him in the very palm of her hand.  In situations that are unpleasant, timing is as important as action, sometime more so.  Have patience.  Wait for the Lord to show you the way.  

Prayer:  Lord, as I face various decisions and plans in my future, help me to wait upon You.  Help me to have patience and self-control, as I desire to hear Your voice.  Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Hosea 5-6

November 18, Friday

REPOST Today’s AMI QT Devotional, provided by Pastor Doug Tritton, was first posted on November 18, 2016.  A graduate of University of Pennsylvania (BA) and Gordon Conwell Seminary (M.Div.), Doug is the Lead Pastor of Grace Covenant Church Philadelphia. 

Devotional Thought for This Morning

“Forgiveness”

Hebrews 9:24-28

For Christ has entered, not into holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true things, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf. 25 Nor was it to offer himself repeatedly, as the high priest enters the holy places every year with blood not his own, 26 for then he would have had to suffer repeatedly since the foundation of the world. But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. 27 And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, 28 so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.

When I first became a Christian in college, I had a faulty understanding of forgiveness. I thought it was conditional—meaning, I thought if I missed a sin to repent of, I would not be forgiven of that sin. So I lived in fear, thinking I had to repent from each sin I committed. This was quite a burden I carried! But then, God showed me just how deep His grace is. It took two years, but eventually I understood that I was eternally forgiven and justified before God; and even more, I was now called righteous! If only I had grasped that earlier.

This passage shows us this reality through this powerful verse: “he has appeared once for all.” Once for all. And that is why Jesus said on the cross, “It is finished.” He really meant this. It is finished—not partially finished, not just His part finished and now it’s our part; no, it is fully finished. Even though I am sinful, I am eternally forgiven in Christ. What a relief; what a freeing reality! Still, we should repent from our sins, as the Bible commands, but let us remember that our repentance doesn’t save us– it is Christ who saves, once for all.

Now that we are forgiven, we are called to wait eagerly for Him, the One who saves us once for all. Let our hearts be crying out for Him—crying out to meet the One who freely gave it all for us: “So Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.” Let us wait with joy, for our Savior is coming!

Prayer: Lord, thank You that You offered Yourself once for all. You took the full burden of our salvation; You took it all upon Yourself. Thank You for Your eternal saving power. Let me not ever feel like there is any burden on me, because You said, “It is finished.” Though the world oftentimes feels heavy to me, help me to know that You carry my burdens. And help me to have hope, because You are coming!

Bible Reading for Today: Hosea 4


Lunch Break Study  

Read 1 John 1:5-10: This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. 6 If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. 8 If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

Questions to Consider

  1. What do you think it means to walk in the light?
  2. What happens if we confess our sins?
  3. What is the consequence of denying or ignoring our sin?

Notes

  1. It can be easy to think that walking in the light means we have to live without sin. But this passage also says, “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves….” So walking in the light is more about walking in relationship with God, knowing that He is the One who forgives us.
  2. God shows us His faithfulness by forgiving us. And more than that, He cleanses us from ALL unrighteousness. Remember, repentance is not only about receiving forgiveness for each sin, but about receiving forgiveness for all sins, and acknowledging that God alone can save.
  3. We make ourselves liars and the word of God is not in us. We are all sinners – this passage is clear about that. God is now calling us to bring our sin to Him, knowing that He alone is the source of forgiveness and new life.

Evening Reflection

Tonight, let’s spend some time in repentance. But let this repentance bring freedom and joy, because Christ saves, once for all. From repentance, let’s go to sleep in the relief that Christ is the One who carried, still carries, and will always carry our burdens.

November 17, Thursday

REPOST Today’s AMI QT Devotional, provided by Pastor Charles Choe who leads Tapestry Church in Los Angeles, was first posted on November 3, 2016.  Charles is a graduate of University of California, Riverside (BA) and Fuller Theological Seminary (M.Div.).

Devotional Thought for This Morning

“Don’t Trust Your Dad, Kids. Trust the Father Above”

Hebrews 6:1-3 (NASB)

Therefore leaving the elementary teaching about the Christ, let us press on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, of instruction about washings and laying on of hands, and the resurrection of the dead and eternal judgment. And this we will do, if God permits.

It’s amazing how my young children will trust me with just about anything. They are still young enough to think that their daddy knows everything and is stronger than just about anyone. I intend to milk it until they discover on some sad day in the future, that their father is a mere mortal. While the truth eventually catches up with every earthly father, our heavenly Father truly knows all and is able to accomplish His purposes by the strength of His word. 

We learned yesterday the writer of Hebrews urging his listeners to press on to maturity in the faith. This was something that they sorely lacked—especially since they had been believers for a long time. It’s expected of the followers of Christ that there would be a natural process of growing and maturing, so that we are not laying again the foundation of our faith—that is, the basic and elementary doctrines that begins our new birth in Christ (6:1). 

Among these elementary doctrines, the author includes in verse 2, “washings, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment.” These references are a bit obscure, but it is generally understood that these are practices and beliefs that include baptism and the basic understanding of the end times. We are to go beyond such basics and press into greater knowledge and greater depth when it comes to the doctrines of our faith. 

The author speaks a note of strong affirmation of God’s sovereignty in verse 3. He desires to move the audience forward into maturity, but he acknowledges that only “if God permits,” implying that he will only be able to do so if God is willing. This is a great reminder that all of life is lived under the comprehensive sovereignty of God. Whatever happens in life, let us trust that our heavenly Father is sovereign and knows what is best for His children. And unlike all earthly fathers, He is capable of bringing to pass His sovereign plans, because He is truly the Mighty One! 

Prayer: God, thank You for Your sovereignty. I will trust You to lead me and guide me through every step of my life. May Your will be done in my life and in my world. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.   

Bible Reading for Today: Hosea 3


Lunch Break Study  

Read Romans 10:9-10: . . . because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. [10] For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.

Questions to Consider 

1. What is the most basic thing we must do to be saved according to Romans 10:9?   

2. What does the heart do? What does the mouth do? 

3. So to grow more mature, what must you start to believe in and confess your mouth with?     

Notes

1. We must confess with our mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in our heart that God raised Him from the dead.  

2. The hearts helps us believe, while the mouth helps us make our confession.  

3. Personal application. 


Evening Reflection

Were you able to think deeply about God today? Or can you identify something pertaining to your spiritual life where you can use more clarity and more certainty? Ask the Lord in prayer to guide you now. 

November 16, Wednesday

UPDATED  Today’s AMI QT Devotional, first posted on November 16, 2016, is provided by Emerson Lin.  Emerson, who serves in E. Asia as a missionary, along with his family, was recently ordained.  Congratulation. He is a graduate of University of California, San Diego and Talbot School of Theology (M.Div.).  

Devotional Thought for This Morning

“‘Got to Serve Better.’ Are You Talking Tennis?” 

Hebrews 9:12-14

He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, thus obtaining[b] eternal redemption. 13 The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkled on those who are ceremonially unclean sanctify them so that they are outwardly clean. 14 How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!

I grew up always loving the game of tennis that I probably spent more time on the tennis court than I did anywhere else. Every day I would train with my coach three to four hours—hitting ball after ball. If there were any issues with my strokes, footwork or serve, my coach would correct me, and we would work on one motion for an hour straight. The goal for all of this training, conditioning, and lifting wasn’t so that I could be healthy, but so I could optimally perform (like serving well) in my tennis tournaments. Today, I want to talk about a different kind of serve.

In this passage, the author describes how the blood of goats and calves can only ceremonially clean a person on the outside. But it is only through the blood of Jesus that we may truly be clean on the inside. However, the author shares that Christ did not come to simply redeem us so we could enjoy this just for ourselves; but he inserts the word “so” (v. 14) to indicate that there is a greater purpose to our redemption—“so that we may serve the living God!”

Many of us—including myself—struggle with a consumer mentality when it comes to our faith. While we may not actively want to become consumers, we naturally default to that state because of our consumer culture: For example, “If I don’t get anything out of small group, it is a waste of time,” or “If the preacher is not intellectual stimulating, then I’m looking for a different one.”

Please understand that it is good to receive from the church and the Lord and grow in our personal faith. But the author of Hebrews states that Christ cleared our conscience so that we may serve the living God! Our goal is not to just build ourselves up but ultimately to make sure that God’s kingdom is being built up.

I encourage you to examine yourself: Are there areas in your Christian walk where you consume more than contribute? Do you feel that you’ve been too focused on growing inwardly? When was the last time you contributed to your small group, large group, prayer meeting, and to the growth of the church? Ask the Lord to help you become a better contributor to His Kingdom.

Prayer: Lord, thank You for redeeming me and washing my sins away. Your love for me wasn’t so that I just stand on the sidelines to enjoy this wonderful gift myself. I want to serve You and contribute more to the growth of Your Kingdom. Help me to be less inward focused and more outward focused. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Hosea 2


Lunch Break Study

What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good[a] is that? 17 So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.

18 But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. 19 You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder! 20 Do you want to be shown, you foolish person, that faith apart from works is useless? 21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar? 22 You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works; 23 and the Scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”—and he was called a friend of God. 24 You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone. 25 And in the same way was not also Rahab the prostitute justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way? 26 For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead.

Questions to Consider

  1. Why does James encourage his readers to have works with their faith?
  2. How does James’ example of Abraham reveal the importance of works and faith working together? 

Notes

  1. Because faith alone without works is dead. The word for dead, in this context, means “fruitless” or “useless.” God is calling us to be effective ministers in different areas of our lives. 
  2. The Bible says that Abraham believed in God, but it wasn’t just through belief. God tested Abraham’s loyalties through the sacrifice of his most precious thing – Isaac. Faith alone is dead, but when coupled with works, it is obedience. 

Evening Reflection


In view of the theme of being a contributor rather than a consumer, how has this spurred you on to serve the Lord more? Are there areas in church or even in your community that you feel God is calling you to serve? Small group? Worship? Boys and Girls club? Ask the Lord the open doors for you. 

November 15, Tuesday

REPOST Today’s AMI QT Devotional, provided by Pastor Ryun Chang (AMI Teaching Pastor), was first posted on September 29, 2015.

Devotional Thought for this Morning

“‘The LORD was Not Willing to Forgive.’ What?”

2 King 24:3-4 (ESV)

Surely this came upon Judah at the command of the Lord, to remove them out of his sight, for the sins of Manasseh, according to all that he had done, and also for the innocent blood that he had shed. For he filled Jerusalem with innocent blood, and the Lord would not pardon.

Joseph Prince, pastor of a megachurch in Singapore, who writes, “We don’t have to keep on asking the Lord . . . for forgiveness because He has already forgiven us,” would probably warn us to stay clear of this verse: “The LORD was not willing to forgive” (NIV).  However, be rest assured that even during the Old Testament time, God was all too willing to forgive the wayward Israelites with whom He had covenanted unconditionally (i.e., an unbreakable contract).  Though indignant God had declared, “I will no longer show love to the house of Israel, that I should forgive them” (Hos. 1:6), in the next breath, He added, “Yet I will show love to the house of Judah” (1:7).   God assured the Jews being punished in Babylonia as captives, “I will restore [your] fortunes and have compassion” (Jer. 33:26).  

Then why does God make statements that seem to contradict His very nature?  How can an omniscient God, upon seeing man’s wickedness during Noah’s days, “repent[] . . . that he had made man on the earth” (Gn. 6:6 KJV).  Surely, the term “anthropomorphic” is too heavy for a morning devotion, but we cannot understand why God would say, “I’m not willing to forgive,” apart from grasping its meaning.  Anthropomorphism is attributing human qualities to God, so that we may gain an adequate understanding of this infinite being whose nature and qualities would otherwise be unknowable to finite humans.  The essence of anthropomorphic expressions isn’t doctrinal exactitude—but emotional candidness, to draw us closer so as to hear His heartbeat.  And as we wait in stillness, we would hear Him say, “You matter to me.”  Think about that for a second: the God of this vast universe, instead of being indifferent, actually cares about me; so much so that He would respond emotionally—rather than doctrinally—when we err to our own detriment!    

God has already forgiven all our sins in Christ, but we must first acknowledge our sins and then confess them for His forgiveness to be effectual (1 Jn. 1:9).  So today, examine your heart in light of the Scriptures; and under the guidance of the Spirit, confess your sins to the Lord in order that your relationship with Him would be truly restored.

Prayer: Dear Lord, I praise You this morning for your loving kindness.  While I’m easily dismissed and ignored by those who are more powerful than me, I’m heartened to realize that You, who is above everyone and everything, considers me so important that You would open Your heart towards me.   While I don’t understand why I would matter to You, I’m awed and grateful that You do. Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Hosea 1


Lunch Break Study 

Pastor Prince comments that since “[God] . . . forgave all—past, present, and future—of our trespasses” (p. 44) . . ., we don’t have to confess our sins in order to be forgiven.  We confess our sins because we are already forgiven” (p. 104).  

Read Matt. 6:14-5: For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, 15 but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

1 John 1:9-10: If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

Matt. 18:34-5: And in anger his master delivered him to the jailers,until he should pay all his debt. 35 So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.”

Question to Consider

1. How would appraise Prince’s theology or teaching in light of these verses?

2. If you consider this matter similar to Christ’s atonement for the world (1 Jn. 2:2: “He is the atoning sacrifices for our sins, and not only for ours but for the sins of the whole world”) and our need to actually believe what he did to be saved, then, what would you say to those who insist that we don’t need to confess ours sin because they are already forgiven?  

3. Are you in need of asking forgiveness from God?  We learned today that we must first ask forgiveness from the one whom we wronged.  Pray about making that call to reconcile today. 

Notes

1. The main problem is that his teaching doesn’t address these verses that say that we won’t be forgiven unless we forgive those who wronged us and unless we confess our sins.   Having read his book (2007), he either ignores these verses or does a very poor job of explaining them.  For instance, he insists that 1 John 1:9 addresses the unbelieving Gnostics, which is incorrect, since John wrote 1 John to the believers to “make [their] joy complete” (1:4).

2. The fact that Jesus is the “atoning sacrifices for the sins of the whole world” doesn’t mean that everyone in the world for which Jesus died is already saved.  They need to first hear the gospel, and then believe.  Likewise, those who are in Christ are already forgiven in Him (future sins included), but they must first recognize and then confess them in order for God’s forgiveness to “kick in.”  That doesn’t mean that unforgiving Christians who, therefore, are unforgiven of a particular sin are  no longer saved; while the relationship is still intact, there cannot be a true fellowship with God as long as we linger in our unconfessed sins. 

3. Personal response.


Evening Reflection

One undeniable fact is that we are full of self-righteousness.  As a result, we see “the speck of sawdust in [our] brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in [our] own eye (Matt. 7:2).  In looking back, were you upset at someone today for what that person said or did to you?  Stay still and ask the Holy Spirit to bring clarity to that situation.  What really happened?  Does that person still owe you an apology, or is it you?  Even if that person did wrong, were you overly righteous in your response (Eccles. 7:16)?  Did you forgive or ask for forgiveness?   It is never too late. 

November 14, Monday

REPOST Today’s AMI QT Devotional, first posted on Novem 14, 2016, is provided by Pastor Jason Sato who, along with his wife Jessica and three young children, serves in Japan as an AMI missionary.  Jason, a graduate of UC San Diego (BS) and Westminster Theological Seminary (M.Div.), just moved to Tokyo where he plans to, the Lord willing, plant a church. 

Devotional Thought for This Morning

Hebrews 9:1-5 (ESV)

Now even the first covenant had regulations for worship and an earthly place of holiness. [2] For a tent was prepared, the first section, in which were the lampstand and the table and the bread of the Presence. It is called the Holy Place. [3] Behind the second curtain was a second section called the Most Holy Place, [4] having the golden altar of incense and the ark of the covenant covered on all sides with gold, in which was a golden urn holding the manna, and Aaron’s staff that budded, and the tablets of the covenant. [5] Above it were the cherubim of glory overshadowing the mercy seat. Of these things we cannot now speak in detail.

In modern times, art is often seen as a form of self-expression.  The most important thing is to be “authentic” and to express oneself earnestly.  Worship is often seen the same way.  As long as we sing or serve with good intentions and genuine emotion, God should accept it happily.  How we feel and what we desire to do for God becomes the primary focus.  

The biblical witness regarding worship is shockingly different.  God gives Moses incredibly detailed instructions for where and how the people are to worship.  When Nadab and Abihu offer God “unauthorized fire” to the Lord in Leviticus 10, He consumes them!  When a well-meaning Uzzah reaches out to steady the ark of God that was in the midst of worship, God strikes him down for his error. (In truth, it was due to the error of King David who should’ve known better than to use a cart to carry the ark; he ignored “the prescribed way”—1 Chron. 15:12-16)!

In these moments, God appears to be a petty, controlling deity.  Doesn’t He know that it’s the thought that counts? According to our passage, for as long as there have been a people of God, there have been regulations for worship.  God cannot be worshiped just any old way and this does not restrict us, it frees us.  Worship has always been greater than anything the whims of man could conceive. 

When God designs the worship, we are reminded that God is light itself and His very body is given for us.  When God designs the worship, we are amazed that the Holy One of Israel would allow us to worship Him at all.  When God designs the worship, we are more aware of God’s presence, provision, authority, and justice than our own.  When God designs the worship, we are awed by the One who sits on a throne of mercy and is worshiped day and night by the saints and angels.

So, when we worship, instead of focusing on our feelings, or using smoke and lights to conjure up strange ambiance, let us wonder at the One who is set apart from us (holy) and who is beyond us (infinite, glorious).  Let’s worship for the audience of One.

Prayer: Oh God, teach me how to worship You rightly.  I want to join with the saints and angels of all ages and places to give You the glory You deserve.  Give me ears to hear that I may honor You with what You ask, and that You might be lifted up. Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: 2 Chronicles 36


Lunch Break Study

Read Revelation 7:9-12 (ESV): After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, [10] and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” [11] And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, [12] saying, “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.”

Question to Consider

1. Who will worship the Lord in the Kingdom of God?

2. What will they say in their worship?

3. What will they do in their worship?

Notes

1. A great multitude from every nation, tribe, and people.  Also the angels, elders and four living creatures. 

2. They will declare God’s salvation (what He has done), His greatness (who He is), and what He deserves.

3. They will stand with palm branches in their hands, they will cry out with a loud voice, and they will fall on their faces before the throne.


Evening Reflection

Reflect on your day.  Were you able to take time to ask God how He wanted you to honor Him today?  What makes it hard to hear the Lord?  What makes it hard to obey when you hear?  Take a moment to ask for the Holy Spirit’s help to honor God by hearing and obeying.