November 13, Sunday

REPOST Today’s Spiritual Food for Thought, provided by Christine Li, was first posted on November 14, 2015.  Christine, a graduate of University of Pennsylvania, serves as a deaconess at Remnant Church in Manhattan, New York.  

Spiritual Food for Thought for the Weekend

“Self-Control”

Galatians 5:13 

You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love.”

When my parents entrusted me and my brother with personal computers for our schoolwork, they gave us very strict admonitions about being responsible and disciplined with schoolwork. We were supposed to do all of our work first, then play. Despite all their warning, I still spent a great amount of concentration and efforts in multitasking with Facebook, TV miniseries, and college admission essays. 

Maybe because I did not experience great repercussions then, I still have some poor habits – staying up late, forgoing exercise, frittering away my time on a smartphone, etc. The consequences are immediate: I cannot perform well during the workweek and I am exhausted on the weekend before engaging in community. Chasing trivial joys in my life comes at a great cost to the more important and meaningful aspects of my life.

If we believe and remember that God’s spirit resides within us and that He has called us in advance for good work, then we should reflect on whether our lifestyles are glorifying to God: do I live in a way that prioritizes serving God and others firstly? We must remember that the call to be self-controlled is not just a friendly suggestion from Paul; it is a command. Because our lives are not our own – we were purchased at a great price – we must aim to lay down our lives and our desires in order to glorify God. 

Let’s assess our lives and whether our indulgence weakens our ability to serve others. Are there things we need to let go of so our energy and focus can be better placed? Let us ask Him to renew our hearts with joy, self-control, and the desire to live our lives in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.

Prayer: Father, I admit that I am not a great steward of this life that you have purchased and redeemed. Open my eyes to the ways in which I am being selfish with my living and how it hinders my ability to worship You and serve You. Thank You for Your gentle grace that can help me change the way I live. Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: 2 Chronicles 34

November 12, Saturday

REPOST Today’s Spiritual Food for Thought, provided by Pastor Ryun Chang (AMI Teaching Pastor), was first posted on February 21, 2015.

Spiritual Food for Thought for the Weekend

“Takeaways from the Driscoll Fiasco”

Lk. 14:7-11

Now he told a parable to those who were invited, when he noticed how they chose the places of honor, saying to them, [8] “When you are invited by someone to a wedding feast, do not sit down in a place of honor, lest someone more distinguished than you be invited by him, [9] and he who invited you both will come and say to you, ‘Give your place to this person,’ and then you will begin with shame to take the lowest place. [10] But when you are invited, go and sit in the lowest place, so that when your host comes he may say to you, ‘Friend, move up higher.’ Then you will be honored in the presence of all who sit at table with you. [11] For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

I was stunned to hear that the leaders of Mars Hill Church—a mega congregation founded by Mark Driscoll—decided to cease its operation in response to highly publicized revelations about Driscoll’s questionable conduct.  Among other things, Driscoll had the church pay a large sum of money to a marketing firm, so that it can make a bulk order of his book on marriage, to make it appear that thousands of purchases were made in a given week.   The strategy worked as the book reached the top of the New York Times Best Seller List in “hardcover, advice, and misc” rankings.   But in the following week, his book disappeared from the top 15 list; evidently the hype didn’t translate to more book sales.  And, it turns out that this manipulative ploy has been used by other well-known pastors— they probably feel embarrassed seeing their name next to Driscoll, who, since, has admitted to the wrongfulness of this practice. 

In light of this, the above parable can be changed to, “Now Jesus told those who wanted to a publish book, when he noticed how they paid money to a marketing firm to make it appear to be a best-seller, ‘JUST WRITE A BETTER BOOK!’  If your book is inspiring or is useful to the readers, then more people will buy it; maybe it will even become a best-seller, but don’t focus on that!  Remember, ‘there is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known’” (Matt. 10:26).

Inflating our worth, whether it be financial, scholastic, or for some pastors, ecclesiastical (based on how many show up on Sundays), goes on every day.  This isn’t primarily a psychological problem (“the empty self”) but profoundly spiritual: Is Jesus truly sufficient for me?  Can I walk down a streetful of impressive looking people with my head held up high because “Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so”?  

I experienced this in a weird manner.  I don’t own a fancy phone because I don’t need it since I work mostly at home (when not travelling).  But I do own a $10 cell phone which I use when I really need it.  But once, when I was calling my wife to pick me up at the airport, I felt sort of self-conscious about using this low-tech phone, since everyone around me was using a Smartphone; but, I said to myself, “I need to be real; besides, Jesus thinks I am okay.”

Don’t let anything you buy or try to accomplish replace that which can come only from God.  In Christ, we have absolute, unconditional acceptance, regardless of whether we write a bestseller or not, or own a fancy phone or not, because “there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 8:1).  

Prayer: Dear Jesus, I am CONTENT in YOU ALONE!  Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: 2 Chronicles 32-33

November 11, Friday

REPOSTToday’s AMI QT Devotional, provided by Cami King, a friend of AMI, was first posted on November 11, 2016.  Cami served faithfully as a staff at several AMI churches in the past

Devotional Thought for This Morning

“Why Can I See It?”

Hebrews 8:7-8

For if that first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no occasion sought for a second. 8 For finding fault with them, He says, “Behold, days are coming, says the Lord,
When I will effect a new covenant With the house of Israel and with the house of Judah.”

This week, a friend asked me: “If God is at work, why can’t I see it? What is He doing in my life and in the lives of those around me, beyond the easily explainable and the seemingly mundane? If the Gospel is such good new and the Kingdom of God so glorious, why is it so hard to experience in unmistakable and undeniable ways?” As I reflected on my own struggles with similar concerns, I was reminded of a story I heard once. It went something like this: 

A man and his son on a walk in the woods came to a bridge and crossed. The father went first. When he came to the other side he turned to his son and said sternly, “Drop down and shimmy on your belly.” The son did exactly what his father told him and crawled his way to the other side. When he made it across he asked his father why he’d told him to do such strange things. His father pointed at a huge snake that had dropped down from a tree branch extending above the bridge and explained that he’d spoken calmly so as to not unnecessarily alarm the child. The boy realized that if he had stopped to ask, “Why?” he would have been fatally bitten. But his trust in his father brought him safely to their destination.  

God starts His message in the verses above by saying, “Look!” (vs. 8) God often clues us in on what He’s doing and where we’re headed (into a new covenant – which we’ll talk more about this weekend). But many of us miss out on experiencing in our personal lives the excitement and the goodness of the His plans because we don’t trust our Father enough to obey. We stop for too long demanding explanations, wander off the bridge all together doing our own thing, or follow faithfully for a while but realize how strange it all is and give up midway. 

Obedience to the commands of God – even if we can’t yet connect all the dots –is what will enable us to experience the goodness of His promises. 

Prayer: God, I know where I am going because You’ve left enough hints in scripture for me to know what to expect. In the times when I can’t see how it’s all coming together, help me obey You simply because I trust You and not just because I understand. In Jesus’ name. Amen. 

Bible Reading for Today: 2 Chronicles 31


Lunch Break Study

Psalm 34:8-14: Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him! 9 Oh, fear the Lord, you his saints, for those who fear him have no lack!
10 The young lions suffer want and hunger; but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.
11 Come, O children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the Lord. 12 What man is there who desires life and loves many days, that he may see good? 13 Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking deceit. 14 Turn away from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.

Questions to Consider

  1. According to the psalmist, how can we come to know the goodness of God and His plans? 
  2. What are some of the promises given to us in this passage? 
  3. What do vv. 12-14 teach us about how we should live? 

Notes

  1. As is the case with food, we have to actually try things to see that they are good. As we obey God, as we try doing life His way, we’ll come to experience the goodness of His ways and see Him more in our lives. 
  2. Those who take refuge in the Lord will be blessed. Those who fear the Lord have no lack (Ps. 23:1). Those who seek the Lord will not only be provided for, but they won’t be without any good thing. Those are pretty grand promises! 
  3. To experience full and abundant life (that those who follow Christ are promised throughout the New Testament), we need to be obedient to the commands of God – both in what we say and what we do.  

Evening Reflection

What are some ways that obedience to God has led you to a fuller experience of Him and His Kingdom? What, if any, are some areas in your life where you have failed to be obedient? Are you willing to make a commitment to obedience today? Spend sometime discussing these things with the Lord. 

November 10, Thursday

REPOST Today’s AMI Devotional QT, first posted on November 24, 2016, 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

“Teaching My Son About Tithing”

Hebrews 11:4

By faith Abel brought God a better offering than Cain did. By faith he was commended as righteous, when God spoke well of his offerings. And by faith Abel still speaks, even though he is dead.

My wife and I are trying a new thing with our seven-year-old son (Simon): chores with cash rewards.  So, we give him a quarter for things like throwing out the trash, recycling or setting the table for dinner, etc.  In a huge week, he can make about three to five bucks (that’s big money for the little guy).  We are doing this for several reasons, but my primary motivation is that I want him to learn the value of a dollar and earn his next Lego set.  My hope is that my son will look at his new set and realize that it took him three to four months of “hard work” and savings to get it; then, he’ll appreciate it more, and hopefully I won’t have to see Legos all over the floor.

Another lesson that is coming out of his chores is tithing.  Now that he’s making his own money, I get to teach him about the joy of giving to the Lord.  To be honest, I was not looking forward to telling Simon that as soon as he makes his tenth dollar, we are going to set one of them apart for offering.  I was expecting him to complain, fuss, boycott church, or turn agnostic, but to my surprise he didn’t.  In fact, just the opposite; he was kind of excited at the prospects of giving his own offering.  I always knew Simon liked going to church, but I realized in that moment how much he appreciated the teachers, his friendships, and hopefully growing in his relationship with Jesus.  So, when the time came for him to give toward that cause, dare I say he was thankful?  

If you’ve read the account of Cain and Abel in Genesis 4, then you would realize that the Bible is a little nebulous when describing why Abel’s offering was pleasing to God, while Cain’s was not. (I don’t think it’s because God loves meat.)  Might I suggest that Abel’s offering came with a thankful heart and was not given begrudgingly?  Hebrews offers a little more insight by stating that Abel’s faith made the difference.  The connection, which I learned in church this week, is that genuine thankfulness can only come from faith.  If you are truly thankful for the cross, church, jobs, family, etc., and sincerely believe that these are all gifts of grace from a generous Father, then giving is easier and comes with more joy and thanksgiving.  If, on the other hand, you have taken for granted all that you have is the product of your own labor, then you would run the risk of becoming a begrudging giver, possibly like Cain. 

Today is Thanksgiving, which means you will undoubtedly be asked, “For what are you thankful?”  Before you shoot out the typical answers like God, family, health, jobs, homes, etc., take a moment this morning and ask yourself, “Am I truly thankful for these or have I taken them for granted?”  

Prayer: Heavenly Father.  Thank you truly for Jesus who died so that a sinner like me could become a child.  Thank you for… (you fill in the rest). Amen. 

Bible Reading for Today: 2 Chronicles 30


Lunch Break Study

Read Psalm 100: 1-5: Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.2 Worship the Lord with gladness

come before him with joyful songs.3 Know that the Lord is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name.5 For the Lord is good and his love endures forever;his faithfulness continues through all generations.

Questions to Consider

1.  According to verse 1, 2, 5, what attitudes should we bring into praise and worship?

2.  What reasons does the Psalmist give to support the idea that the Lord is praiseworthy?

3.  Are you thankful for these things?

Notes

1.  We are told to shout with joy, to worship with gladness, and sing joyful songs.  We are also told to give thanksgiving and praise.  Surely, our worship was meant to done with joy and enthusiasm. 

2.  In verse 3, the Psalmist reminds us that God created us and we belong to him and are under his care.  In verse 5, the Lord is praised for his ever-enduring love.  These were true for Israel, and they are true for us today.  

3.  Personal application question. 


Evening Reflection

This was literally a day of Thanksgiving.  So, this evening, take some time to reflect on things for which you are thankful.  Try to list 50 things that bring you joy.  Thank God for all of them.  

November 9, Wednesday

UPDATEDToday’s AMI QT Devotional, provided by Pastor Ryun Chang (AMI Teaching Pastor), was first posted on September 4, 2015.

Devotional Thought for this Morning

“The Foundation Is Being Destroyed”

2 King 15:8-28

In the 38th year of Azariah king of Judah, Zechariah the son of Jeroboam reigned over Israel in Samaria six months. 9 And he did what was evil in the sight of he Lord, as his fathers had done. He did not depart from the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, which he made Israel to sin. 10 Shallum the son of Jabesh conspired against him and struck him down at Ibleam and put him to death and reigned in his place. . . . 13 Shallum the son of Jabesh began to reign in the 39th year of Uzziah king of Judah, and he reigned one month in Samaria. . . . 18 And he did what was evil in the sight of the Lord. He did not depart all his days from all the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, which he made Israel to sin. 14 Then Menahem the son of Gadi came up from Tirzah and came to Samaria, and he struck down Shallum the son of Jabesh in Samaria and put him to death and reigned in his place. . . . 18 And he did what was evil in the sight of the Lord. He did not depart all his days from all the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, which he made Israel to sin. 23 In the 50th year of Azariah king of Judah, Pekahiah the son of Menahem began to reign over Israel in Samaria, and he reigned two years. 24 And he did what was evil in the sight of the Lord. He did not turn away from the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, which he made Israel to sin. 27 In the 52nd year of Azariah king of Judah, Pekah the son of Remaliah began to reign over Israel in Samaria, and he reigned twenty years. 28 And he did what was evil in the sight of the Lord. He did not depart from the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, which he made Israel to sin. 

At my college graduation speech in 1984, an African-American pastor E. V. Hill repeatedly cried out Psalm 11:3: “The foundations [of America] are being destroyed, what can the righteous do?”  Some 30 years after that speech, the late-pastor would have been shocked to see the secular foundation—with little or no regard for God’s word—supplanting the old.  America, at least at its inception, was led by deistic and Christian founders, thus had a chance; but the Northern Kingdom of Israel never did. 

This was the dog days of Israel when unprincipled men, hungry for power, played a deadly game of musical chairs in which each violent succession to the throne hastened its fast-approaching extinction.  After King Pekah, came one more king—Hoshea, and then Israel would be no more at the hands of Assyria in 722 B.C.  During Israel’s 150 years of miserable existence, it’s hard to miss the lasting effect of the “George Washington” of Israel, Jeroboam.  Every king mentioned above failed to “turn away from the sins of Jeroboam . . . which he made Israel to sin.”  What one single leader sowed—a counterfeit religion that rejected God—the entire nation reaped its consequences, generation after generation.  

But remember what motivated Jeroboam, an army officer (1 Ki. 11:26) whose sudden rise to the throne introduced him to power and glory that he began to covet: insecurity and greed for power.  It all began with this thought: “The kingdom will likely revert back to the house of David.  If these people go up to offer sacrifices at the temple of the LORD in Jerusalem, they will again give their allegiance to . . . Rehoboam king of Judah” (1 Ki. 12:26-7).  It was then that he conjured up the golden calves, fake holy places and priests.  

But before worrying about our nation’s foundation, let’s examine our own.  Perhaps you’re a young parent or small group leader—even if you aren’t right now, maybe you will become one in the future.   Work on your foundation— it starts with Jesus (1 Cor. 3:11) and continues with putting His Words “into practice” (Matt. 7:24).  Give up your insecurity through intimacy with Christ and die to your greed by practicing generosity with your valuables.  Then pray for America.

Prayer: Father, constantly remind me that what I do matters to others in life.  Instill in me a healthy fear of You so that I do not depart from my spiritual mooring.  O, my Lord, fill me with your Spirit so that I may have the power to choose You and Your path over my selfish desires. Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: 2 Chronicles 29


Lunch Break Study 

Read 1 Cor. 3:10-15: According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building upon it. Let each one take care how he builds upon it. 11 For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw— 13 each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. 14 If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. 15 If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.

Luke 14:27-30:Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple. For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? 29 Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, 30 saying, “This man began to build and was not able to finish.”

Matt. 7:24-27: Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. 26 And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. 27 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.

Question to Consider

1. If I declare that Jesus is my foundation, what does that really imply?

2. What does it mean to build on the foundation of Christ?

3. Spiritually, what would constitute combustible materials such as “wood, hay and straw”?  Evaluate the way you live your life in light of your answer.

Notes

1. It implies that not only do I say I believe in Christ (the foundation), but I will also do what He taught (building on that foundation; that is, living rightly for Christ).

2. First, to think soberly about my life from the standpoint of eternity; then second, commit to a life of self-denial to follow Christ and to serve Him. 

3. These materials refer to things that we do for ourselves so that we get our glory here and now.  Thus, Jesus said, regarding the showy Pharisees who did their “’acts of righteousness’ before men”: “They have received their reward in full” (Matt. 6:1-2).  In other words, there will be no rewards waiting for them in heaven (that is, if they made it there at all).


Evening Reflection

What sort of spiritual foundation have you developed in life?  For instance, how consistently and seriously do you engage with AMI’s daily devotional?  Do you have a prayer life?  Do you consistently dig into God’s word? How are you dealing with your insecurities?  Are you overtly greedy for material things and/or power?  Too many questions?  Then, just get on your knees and cry out to God: “Lord, help me to build a house that will not burn down on the judgment day!”

November 8, Tuesday

REPOST  Today’s AMI QT Devotional, first posted on November 15, 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

“Clearing the Conscience”

Hebrews 9:8-10

The Holy Spirit was showing by this that the way into the Most Holy Place had not yet been disclosed as long as the first tabernacle was still functioning. 9 This is an illustration for the present time, indicating that the gifts and sacrifices being offered were not able to clear the conscience of the worshiper. 10 They are only a matter of food and drink and various ceremonial washings—external regulations applying until the time of the new order.

When I was little, my mother would ask me to wash the dishes after dinner. I remember dreading the number of plates I would have to wash each time. So, out of laziness, I would take a sponge without dish soap and just wipe the excess food off the plate—as long as it looked clean, no one would know that it was dirty. My mother soon found out, and she made me wash the dishes for an entire month– with soap.

In this passage, the author of Hebrews is comparing the differences between the Old and the New Covenant. More specifically, he’s revealing what the Old Covenant could not do to sin. In verses 9 and 10, he writes, “This is an illustration for the present time, indicating that the gifts and sacrifices being offered were not able to clear the conscience of the worshiper. They are only a matter of food and drink and various ceremonial washings – external regulations applying until the time of the new order.” 

When we hear the phrase “clear the conscience,” it is often associated with not feeling guilty. However, in the Greek, “clear the conscience” is translated into “perfect”—meaning, the Old Testament rituals only made the Israelites “perfect” on the outside. However, it did nothing to them on the inside—until the New Covenant came through Jesus.

As believers, we are now in the New Covenant! We believe that it is only through the blood of Jesus that we are perfected (cleansed). However, there are moments when we fall into a trap of living under the Old Testament rituals. While we are not living in an age where animal sacrifices are condoned, we think that serving, giving extra offering, and participating in more church activities will make us cleaner and help with our guilt. However, these things only make us seem clean on the outside. When people see us doing more church, they assume we’re doing well. While these things should be part of our daily rhythm, we must remind ourselves that we are not perfected by what we do, but it is through the precious blood of Jesus Christ. 

I want to encourage you to examine your motives and thoughts: What are some things that you may use to make yourself look or feel clean? This morning, ask God to reveal anything that might hinder you from trusting in the blood of Jesus.

Prayer: Lord, thank You that I am saved by Your blood and not by my works. Please protect me against the lies that tell me that I need to do more things so that I can feel more “saved.” I declare that all I need is the blood of Jesus Christ to be saved! Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: 2 Chronicles 28


Lunch Break Study

Read Ephesians 2:1-10: As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, 2 in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. 3 All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh[a] and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. 4 But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. 6 And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 7 in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. 8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

Questions to Consider

  1. Why does Paul describe our salvation as a gift from God?
  2. Why are we are not saved by our own works?
  3. Now that we are saved, what does Christ Jesus call us to do?

Notes

  1. Our salvation is a gift because we did not earn it by our own strength. In verse 3, Paul describes our spiritual state as, “dead in our transgressions” and hopeless. However, God, in all His mercy, came to take us out of death and into righteousness—this is the gift of God.
  2. Because we are saved by God’s mercy and not by our own works, we cannot boast in ourselves. Often, we’re tempted to believe that we are loved because of how much we’ve done for Him. We are saved and loved through His mercy and grace.
  3. Christ Jesus calls us to do good works. We are not to keep this good news for ourselves but to go into our communities to share the gospel, as well as to feed the poor, the orphans, etc. These good works can only be done because we have received the gift of God. We must not be tempted to think that we earn the love of Christ through these works, but that we do these works because Christ first loved us.

Evening Reflection


In view of today’s theme of salvation by God’s grace discussed this morning, how did this impact you? Were you reminded of a moment when you felt that you were trying to earn God’s love? Review your day here.

November 7, Monday

REPOSTToday’s AMI QT Devotional, provided by Cami King, a friend of AMI, was first posted on November 11, 2016.  Cami served faithfully as a staff at several AMI churches in the past

Devotional Thought for This Morning

“How Amazing Is the Bible!”

Hebrews 7:1-10

For this Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of the Most High God, who met Abraham as he was returning from the slaughter of the kings and blessed him, 2 to whom also Abraham apportioned a tenth part of all the spoils, was first of all, by the translation of his name, king of righteousness, and then also king of Salem, which is king of peace. 3 Without father, without mother, without genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but made like the Son of God, he remains a priest perpetually. 4 Now observe how great this man was to whom Abraham, the patriarch, gave a tenth of the choicest spoils. 5 And those indeed of the sons of Levi who receive the priest’s office have commandment in the Law to collect a tenth from the people, that is, from their brethren, although these are descended from Abraham.6 But the one whose genealogy is not traced from them collected a tenth from Abraham and blessed the one who had the promises. 7 But without any dispute the lesser is blessed by the greater. 8 In this case mortal men receive tithes, but in that case one receives them, of whom it is witnessed that he lives on. 9 And, so to speak, through Abraham even Levi, who received tithes, paid tithes, 10 for he was still in the loins of his father when Melchizedek met him.

The Bible is an amazing text! We understand Scripture to be a revelation of God to the world – something precious that He made and preserved so that we may know Him. He revealed Himself (who He is and what He’s like) in the lives of His people, so that those within the community of faith would come to know Him as they did life together with Him and one another. Then He preserved that revelation in the Scriptures (which tell the many stories of God and His people) for those who would come later on (that’s us!), so that we too might glean from what was revealed to and through them—all to the end of a greater knowledge of who God is. 

And this was not done haphazardly. Our passage today, drawing from the life of a man who lived during Old Testament, reminds us that God is carefully, intentionally, and creatively writing a Grand Narrative through the lives of His people. It reminds us that He has great plans for the world and has been (and continues to be) at work through the generations to bring them about. It reminds us that God loves us so much that He reveals to us Himself and His plans so that we may know who He is and partner with Him in what He’s doing. 

Through Melchizedek, a prototype for Jesus, we are clued in to what Jesus is like. Melchizedek means “righteous king.” And that is what he was – not only a king, virtuous and good in his rule, but also a priest, blessing the people, most notably Abraham, with peace. His lineage was not recorded, neither was the day of the end of his reign (v. 3). Why? Because the one of whom he was a mere shadow, Jesus, would be the eternal God Himself and have a Kingdom that would never end. Today, may we thank God for the Scriptures and the revelation of Himself found in them. And may we thank God our Priest and King Jesus – whose eternal reign is one of righteousness and whose priesthood affords us the blessing of wholeness and peace. 

Prayer: Sovereign Lord, I do not take it for granted that I get to know You. Thank You for revealing Yourself to me through Your word and through the lives of those who’ve gone before me. May that revelation affect the way I do life today. Thank You for Jesus and His coming Kingdom. In His name, Amen.     

Bible Reading for Today: 2 Chronicles 27


Lunch Break Study

Read Psalm 110:1-7: The Lord says to my Lord: “Sit at My right hand until I make Your enemies a footstool for Your feet.” 2 The Lord will stretch forth Your strong scepter from Zion, saying, “Rule in the midst of Your enemies.” 3 Your people will volunteer freely in the day of Your power; In holy array, from the womb of the dawn, your youth are to You as the dew. 4 The Lord has sworn and will not change His mind, “You are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.” 5 The Lord is at Your right hand; He will shatter kings in the day of His wrath.6 He will judge among the nations, He will fill them with corpses, He will shatter the chief men over a broad country. 7 He will drink from the brook by the wayside; therefore He will lift up His head.

Questions to Consider

1. In this Psalm, David is overhearing a conversation within the Godhead, between the Father and Jesus. What do we learn from God’s words in vv. 1-3?

2. What does God promise in verse 4? How is that an encouragement to us today? 

3. The LORDS words in vv. 5-7 show us that victory promised will be a great victory. Jesus has defeated sin and death, and we will one day live forever with Him in His Kingdom, in a perfect world, in wholeness and peace. In what areas of your life does this truth offer hope?   

Notes

1. Jesus is told to sit at the right hand of the Father, until He brings forth a full victory over His enemies. And many (faithful believers) will willingly join in the fight (Eph. 6:12) – those who believe in the Lord and long for His reign.

2. God promises that Jesus will be our priest forever in the order (or manner) of Melchizedek. This is an encouragement to us because just as Melchizedek was a righteous King who blessed his people, Jesus will be the Righteous King and bless all creation. And His victory will have complete victory and His reign will last forever. 

3. Spend some time in personal reflection. 


Evening Reflection

Take a moment to read the passage (Rom. 8:31-39) below meditatively (aloud and slowly). Reflect on God’s great love for you, His finished work to save you, and the complete victory you have in Him. Spend some time responding in worship. 

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? 32 He who did not 

spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things? 33 Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies; 34 who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us. 35 Who will separate us from the love ofChrist? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36 Just as it is written, “For Your sake we are being put to death all day long; We were considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”37 But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us.38 For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. 

November 6, Sunday

REPOSTToday’s Spiritual Food for Thought, provided by Pastor Ryun Chang (AMI Teaching Pastor), was first posted on May 3, 2015

Spiritual Food for Thought for the Weekend

“Women in the Bible”

Jn. 8:32 (NIV)

“Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

2 Sam. 11:4-5 (NIV)

“Then David sent messengers to get her. She came to him, and he slept with her. (Now she was purifying herself from her monthly uncleanness.) Then she went back home. [5] The woman conceived and sent word to David, saying, ‘I am pregnant.’”

Is Bathsheba getting a free ride here?  Isn’t this the reversal of situation in John 8 in which the Pharisees condemned only the woman caught in the act of adultery?  Well, not really, since, while Bathsheba certainly participated in the adulterous affair, women in those days didn’t possess the power to stand up to men, much less a king. 

For feminists, Queen Vashti, not Esther, would be their hero.   When her husband Xerxes, King of Persia, called upon Vashti to stand before the nobles to “display her beauty” (Est. 1:11), she “refused to come.”  For that, Vashti was banished for life.  Not much had changed five hundred years later in the Roman Empire where women remained a disposable property of men.   The Jews weren’t all that better: the House of Hillel, a leading school of Jewish thought, even allowed divorce over burnt meal.

Some who don’t care for the Christian faith see the Bible as endorsing anti-woman culture of the past and present.  A pamphlet by Atheist United reads, “As long as women regard the Bible as the charter of their rights, they will be the slaves of man.”  But, Rodney Stark, Distinguished Professor of the Social Sciences at Baylor University, in his 1996 book entitled, The Rise of Christianity, declared, “They are all wrong.”  Noting that most Christians in the Roman Empire were women, he commented that it had a lot to do church “promot[ing] liberating social relations between the sexes and within the family, giving women more status than they enjoyed in Roman society.” 

But in the antiquity, women weren’t treated with the kind of respect that God would later tell the husbands to bestow on their wives (1 Pet. 3:7).   So, on that fateful night, King David, blatantly disregarding Bathsheba’s marital vow, was the aggressor and “guilty of a greater sin” (Jn. 19:11; Lk. 12:47-8).  

Many things in Western society have changed for the better, including the treatment of women, thanks in large part to the liberating influences that were set in motion by the Gospel in the 1st century.  Now women, mindful of their intrinsic value before their Creator and under protective laws, can tell a powerful individual like David to stop and fully expect his compliance.  

Of course, our world is far from being perfect and many terrible things still happen to women; nonetheless, they don’t always have to fight for opportunity; they just need to seize it.  This is especially true in God’s work because women are needed now than ever before to serve on the mission field, teach Scripture and even pastor churches (welcome to Latin America)!  Look no further than Miriam, Esther, Deborah, Aquila (Acts 18:26), Huldah (2 Chron. 34:22) and the four daughters of Philip (Acts 21:8-9) for inspiration.  Reflect on how you can be useful for God’s purpose—consider encouraging a wearied soul today with timely words from God’s word.   

Prayer (of Miriam in Ex. 15):  “I will sing to the LORD, for he is highly exalted.   The Lord is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation.  He is my God, and I will praise him, my father’s God, and I will exalt him.  The LORD is a warrior; the LORD is his name.  The LORD will reign for ever and ever.”

Amen.

Bible Reading for Today:  2 Chronicles 26

November 5, Saturday

REPOST Today’s Spiritual Food for Thought, first posted on November 5, 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

“Cutting Through the Baloney”

Nehemiah 6:1-8

Now when Sanballat and Tobiah and Geshem the Arab and the rest of our enemies heard that I had built the wall and that there was no breach left in it (although up to that time I had not set up the doors in the gates), 2 Sanballat and Geshem sent to me, saying, “Come and let us meet together at Hakkephirim in the plain of Ono.” But they intended to do me harm. 3 And I sent messengers to them, saying, “I am doing a great work and I cannot come down. Why should the work stop while I leave it and come down to you?”4 And they sent to me four times in this way, and I answered them in the same manner.5 In the same way Sanballat for the fifth time sent his servant to me with an open letter in his hand. 6 In it was written, “It is reported among the nations, and Geshem also says it, that you and the Jews intend to rebel; that is why you are building the wall. And according to these reports you wish to become their king. 7 And you have also set up prophets to proclaim concerning you in Jerusalem, ‘There is a king in Judah.’ And now the king will hear of these reports. So now come and let us take counsel together.” 8 Then I sent to him, saying, “No such things as you say have been done, for you are inventing them out of your own mind.”

Recently, my two-year-old son has been getting out of bed at night looking for any and every excuse to not sleep—this habit is killing my wife and me!  The other night we had this interaction: 

My wife:  “Jonny, why aren’t you in bed?”

Jon: “I can’t sleep. There’s a (hard to distinguish) in my bed.” 

My wife: “There’s a lion in your bed?”

Jon:  (contemplating if this is believable) “Yes.”

My wife:  “Well, I’ll go see and chase the lion away.”  

My wife then proceeded to “look for” and “chase” the lion away so that my son could go back to sleep. Great parenting, right?  Wrong. Within five minutes, my son got up again—this time claiming thirst; then five minutes after that, he was afraid of the dark.  Finally, after a few of these incidents, we had to talk straight to our son:  “Jon, if you get out of bed again, you are going to get spanked.  And that is going to hurt.”  The message was sent—he did not come out again.  

Sometimes, in order to cut through the baloney and the silly excuses, we need to talk straight and make some difficult call outs.  Look at today’s passage: When Sanballat and Tobiah hear that the wall of Jerusalem is almost done, they invite Nehemiah for a visit with the hopes of harming him and halting its completion (v. 2).  At first, Nehemiah tries to redirect them by saying that he is “too busy” (v. 3), but after four more similar attempts, Sanballat comes back with this fictitious treason accusation (vv. 6-7).  Finally, Nehemiah is forced to shoot straight and calls out Sanballat’s baloney: “No such things as you say have been done, for you are inventing them out of your own mind” (v.8).  

Now how does this apply to us today?  Let me share something: Whether they are two, thirty-two, and presumably seventy-two years old, people will still come up with elaborate excuses as to why they are not doing what they should be doing (or doing what they shouldn’t be doing).  Of course, as they grow older, the excuses become more reasonable than having a “lion in the bed,” but they are nevertheless excuses.  So you may have heard of the following: “Everyone else does it”; “I’m just trying to be real or true to myself”; “I’m not hurting anyone”; or “I have unresolved daddy issues,” etc.  As a community in Christ, it is probably most loving to start subtly in helping another get past the elaborate excuses.  However, there may come a time when we must be willing to cut through the baloney and shoot straight with our friends and call out sinful behavior, misguided thinking, or selfish hearts. 

Prayer: Father, thank You for the community I have.  Help me to be wise and bold to share the truth in love.  Also, let me see what excuses or stories I am using to disobey You.  Amen.

Bible Reading for Today2 Chronicles 24-25

November 4, Friday

UPDATED Today’s AMI QT Devotional, provided by Pastor Ryun Chang (AMI Teaching Pastor), was first posted on May 1, 2015.

Devotional Thought for This Morning

“Remember, Sin Wants to Eat You for Lunch”

2 Sam. 11:1-6 (ESV)

In the spring of the year, the time when kings go out to battle, David sent Joab, and his servants with him, and all Israel. And they ravaged the Ammonites and besieged Rabbah. But David remained at Jerusalem. [2] It happened, late one afternoon, when David arose from his couch and was walking on the roof of the king’s house, that he saw from the roof a woman bathing; and the woman was very beautiful. [3] And David sent and inquired about the woman. And one said, “Is not this Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite?” [4] So David sent messengers and took her, and she came to him, and he lay with her. (Now she had been purifying herself from her uncleanness.) Then she returned to her house. [5] And the woman conceived, and she sent and told David, “I am pregnant.”

Jimmy Swaggart, the Billy Graham among the Pentecostals, fell from grace because of a sex scandal. Pastor David, a radio preacher with a national following, left his church after committing adultery.  Ted Haggard, a mega-church pastor and president of National Association of Evangelicals, was ousted after a graphic scandal involving a male prostitute. 

Shocked . . . but why? Why do we keep getting shocked by “holy” men misbehaving when we see that David, a man whom God described as “a man after my heart” (Acts 13:22), takes another man’s wife for his pleasure?  He must have walked around the roof of the palace before; he, therefore, knew about the view from the top.  While David may not have anticipated seeing a woman bathing, he wasn’t surprised to see something; he probably thought, “It’s my lucky day.”

Once, when I, as a Teaching Assistant at UCLA, said to my students, “Perhaps, social science got it backwards: racism, sexism, and classism may be symptoms of the human heart that’s causing them,”  one student disagreed, saying, “l believe that humans are really good at heart.”  But such an optimistic view wasn’t shared by Jeremiah who said, in the 6th century B.C., “The heart is more deceitful above all things and beyond cure” (17:9).  Seven hundred years later, the apostle Paul declared, “Nothing good lives in me, that is in my sinful nature” (Rom. 7:18).  No wonder “Jesus would not entrust himself to them, for he knew . . . what was in a man” (Jn. 2:24-5). 

How, then, can we be liberated from the power of sin?  The regeneration by the Holy Spirit (Tit. 3:5-6) is necessary but not sufficient; praying and reading the Word is necessary but not sufficient either. Folks, don’t ever underestimate the power of sin!  Don’t go to places where you know temptations await (e.g., rooftop); don’t hang around with people who will take you there (1 Cor. 15:33); don’t look at graphic images that will have you come for more (1 Jn. 2:16).   Have a healthy of fear of what sin can do to destroy our lives.  Today, think about the changes that need to be made in order that sin won’t eat you for lunch, again.  Make those changes when you are not actually being tempted. 

Prayer: Lord God, how scary it is to realize that there is no cure for the human heart that is bent on evil.  Our hope is in You and the Holy Spirit from within who constantly guides us to the right place, right people, and right view.  O my soul, listen to the Spirit; obey him, for it is for my own good.  Help me, God.  Amen.   

Bible Reading for Today: 2 Chronicles 23


Lunch Break Study

Read 1 Cor. 15:33 (NASB): Do not be deceived: “Bad company corrupts good morals.”

Matt. 6:22-3 (ESV): The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, [23] but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!

1 Jn. 2:16 (NIV): For everything in the world—the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes . . .—comes not from God but from the world.

Question to Consider

1. Why is it important to make sure that we are surrounded by the right people?

2. How important is it to guard what goes through our eyes?  Why is that important?

3. Re-read 2 Sam. 11:1.  Was David in the right place when his sexual scandal occurred?  This is to ask, where should you be at 11 AM on Sundays, or 7 PM on Thursdays or whenever your dinner time is at home.

Notes

1. Humans are social beings; peer pressure doesn’t just affect the youth; people are affected by those with whom they shared most of their time.  You can pray and read the Bible all you want, but if you still run with bad company, not much will change—I  guarantee it.   

2. Lust enters through the eyes; once entered, it darkens the whole body— that is, it affects the mind that controls what the body does.  We must take great care what our eyes are allowed to see.

3. Like in other springs, David should have been out, conducting military campaign to fortify national defense; instead, he put himself in a wrong place.  On Sunday mornings, you are supposed to be at church.  On a weekday, you are supposed to be at your family group or cell group.  At dinner time,   you should be at home and then stay there.  


Evening Reflection

Without even trying, did you find yourself fibbing (even a little), having lustful and/or hateful thoughts today?   We shouldn’t be too surprised; rather, we need to repent and ask God for a renewed effort and power to live better tomorrow by being constantly aware of God’s presence within us.   Reflect and pray.