February 14, Sunday

REPOST Today’s AMI Devotional Quiet Time, provided by Christine Li, was first posted on October 11, 2014.  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

“In Secrecy, before the Lord”

Matthew 6:2-4

So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”

We live in a world where we are taught to be seen and heard, and put ourselves “out there” if we want to succeed. I’ve never heard of a self-help book that teaches its readers to keep their head down, stay quiet, and just hope for the best. 

So why does God reward the prayers, the deeds, and the fasting done in secret? Why is it so imperative that we do these things in secret? I believe there are two reasons: first, God knows that our hearts hunger for earthly rewards; and second, God wants to give us greater joy when we serve. Christ is so stern here in Matthew 6 about how we should give and love because He knows the guidelines will test our heart of love; and by readjusting our motives, He will be able to give us the things from Heaven, more than the things of Earth. 

Do we truly desire only the reward that comes from Him? That means that the reward will come fully in Heaven and perhaps not in the present moment. Do we truly desire only the praise that comes from Him? Then that means we must forgo the praise and accolades from the people around us.

Many people have prayed along the lines of what John the Baptist said: “He must increase, but I must decrease,” but how we often fall short from that. It is much more than trying to avoid receiving compliments or thanks, but it is a reflection of our hearts and our attitudes when we begin to pray and serve His people. Let’s ask God for help in examining our hearts in this area. 

Are we willing to lay low in our devotion so that only God knows our heart? And are we willing to be so invisible in our service so that we don’t receive the praise from men, but only praise from God?  

Prayer: Father, thank You that You not only want to correct us, but also desire to give us the greatest treasure of all – more of Christ. Help us to live our lives as invisibly as possible, that Christ may shine through us, unobstructed by our egos and our desires. Be the treasure that we desire more than anything we can get from this earth, and may You receive all the glory and all the honor from the way we live our lives. Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Philemon 1

February 13, Saturday

REPOST Today’s AMI QT Devotional, provided by Pastor Yohan Lee, a friend of AMI, was first posted on April 12, 2014.  A graduate of University of Pennsylvania (BA) and Cairn University (MA), Yohan served as a staff at several AMI churches in the past. 

Spiritual Food for Thought for the Weekend

“Being a Blessing to Others”

Galatians 3:7-9

Understand, then, that those who believe are children of Abraham. 8 The Scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, and announced the gospel in advance to Abraham: “All nations will be blessed through you.” 9 So those who have faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.

I once worked with a guy who was a pretty accomplished repair man whose forte was the combustible engine; cars, yes, but more often lawnmowers.  Every so often when George (that was his name) would see a lawnmower left on the curb for disposal, he’d take it to fix it up and sell it for some small profit.  I used to admire George’s skill set, mostly because I knew his handiness translated into automobile repair, a talent I envied.  

Once I asked George how he became so proficient at fixing engines.  He replied that when he was younger, he had always had an interest in fixing cars (so he had a lot of experience), but in the end, he attributed most of his abilities to a lot of trial and error.  George would always tell me, “You might as well try; you can’t break it any more, can you?” I cannot tell you how profoundly this pithy thought has impacted me as a handyman.  Now when things break around the home or in the car, I first look to Youtube, with the intention of fixing the problem myself.  Believe me, I am no expert, but I know that over the years, I have saved hundreds, probably thousands of dollars, just because I was willing to try.  (Of course, my wife will complain that it takes me too much time to actually start a project, but that is another matter.)  

As spiritual descendants of Abraham, the idea that “all nations will be blessed through you” is just slightly more intimidating than repairing an engine block.  But if you let intimidation get the better of you, you will never be a blessing.  You don’t have to go to China or the Middle East, but today, just start with the people around you: your friends, co-workers, neighbors, church members, etc. You may not even have to share the full-blown Gospel, but just start by giving them godly truths, or asking if they have prayer requests.  

In church, you can bless others by helping them to grow in their faith.  Are you willing to serve, even in mundane ways such as helping someone move?  There are many ways to be a blessing, and chances are, you already have a large enough “spiritual tool belt” to bless those around you.  So ask yourself, “Am I using what I already have to be a blessing?”  

Prayer: Lord, help me to be a blessing to the nations, to those around me, and to you this day.  Give me eyes to see someone’s need, and a heart that is willing to serve.  Lord, also give me boldness to share about Christ or to speak the truth in love today.  Let me be a blessing.  Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Genesis 49-50

February 12, Friday

UPDATED  Today’s AMI QT Devotional, provided by Pastor David Kwon who heads Journey Community Church in Raleigh, North Carolina, was first posted on June 5, 2014.  He is a graduate of Drexel University (BS) and Columbia International University (M.Div.).

Devotional Thought for This Morning

“Fighting!”

1 Timothy 1:18-20

[18] This charge I entrust to you, Timothy, my child, in accordance with the prophecies previously made about you, that by them you may wage the good warfare, [19] holding faith and a good conscience. By rejecting this, some have made shipwreck of their faith, [20] among whom are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme.

One of the greatest scenes in a sporting event is when the home crowd is cheering for their team to win, as was the case last Sunday when the fans of Tampa Bay Buccaneers were able to cheer for their team to a Superbowl victory. The roar of the crowd along with shouts of motivation can uplift a team that might have been struggling earlier in the game.  This kind of support and encouragement can often be the greatest difference between winning and losing.  

In these few verses, Paul is giving his son in the faith an encouraging cheer to continue to fight the good fight of faith.  If you remember from a few days ago, Timothy is facing opposition from people who are preaching a different kind of doctrine, apart from the true Gospel.  For Timothy, it must have been discouraging and burdensome to the point where he might have felt like giving up in the ministry. 

We must remember that the fundamental nature of Christianity is that it is a warfare in which we are all involved; and there is no exit until the end. The moment you began your Christian life by faith in Jesus Christ, you have entered a lifelong battle.  There may be times where we want to give up because of the fierceness of the battle.  Living in an unbelieving world with many who are opposed to the Christian faith makes it very difficult.  Paul reminds Timothy that he possesses two valuable things which he must carefully guard: faith and a good conscience.  Paul is exhorting Timothy that in the midst of the battle, he is to guard his personal integrity and doctrine.

Do you need to be reminded of the the fight we are in, this morning?  The battle for our faith can be fierce, especially in the world we live in today.  I want to encourage you to fight the good fight of faith.  Hold on to the truths about God and his doctrines.  Seek encouragement from your community and spiritual mentors.  Let’s fight the good fight together.  

Prayer: Lord, remind us of the spiritual battle we face each and every day.  Help us to hold on to the words of Paul that we also would hold on to our faith and good conscience as we strive to live for You.  Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Genesis 48


Lunch Break Study 

Read 1 Timothy 6:12: Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.  

Questions to Consider 

  1. “The reason why many fail in battle is because they wait until the hour of battle. The reason why others succeed is because they have gained the victory on their knees long before the battle came.”  – R.A. Torrey What are your thoughts about it when it comes to spiritual battle?
  2. How can we continually fight the good fight each day?
  3. What are some personal commitments you can make to continue to fight the battle of faith?

Notes

  1. The key to fighting the spiritual battle in your life is to be protected with the full armor of God (Ephesians 6) and to be prayerful. 
  2. We need to fight the good fight by reading and living out the Word.  Prayer is also vital in our lives to maintain spiritual vibrancy and holding on to a good conscience.  
  3. Personal response

Evening Reflection

Be encouraged that all of our AMI churches are fighting the good fight together.  Let’s continue to do our part in building his church, lifting up prayers and encouraging one another to fight the good fight.  

February 11, Thursday

REPOST Today’s AMI QT Devotional, provided by Pastor David Kwon who heads Journey Community Church in Raleigh, North Carolina, was first posted on June 13, 2014.  He is a graduate of Drexel University (BS) and Columbia International University (M.Div.).

Devotional Thought for This Morning

“Foundational ‘Skills’”

1 Timothy 3:14-16

I hope to come to you soon, but I am writing these things to you so that, [15] if I delay, you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, a pillar and buttress of the truth. [16] Great indeed, we confess, is the mystery of godliness: He was manifested in the flesh, vindicated by the Spirit, seen by angels, proclaimed among the nations, believed on in the world, taken up in glory.

Learning the foundations or the basics of a sport or a skill often determines one’s future success.  For example, my oldest daughter is now learning how to read, learning the basics of what each letter sounds like.  These foundational skills will be important for her to be a successful reader.   In the sport of basketball, if you do not learn how to shoot or dribble, most likely you will not succeed in that sport.  

Paul calls the church “the pillar and buttress of the truth” (v. 15). Other translations use the word “foundation” in place of buttress, which means that as the church faithfully obeys the Scripture, it lives out the truth and supports its claim that the gospel brings real change. The church is responsible to hold the truth steady against the storms of heresy and unbelief.  It is the pillar and the foundation, the support, the defense, and the buttress of truth.  As its foundation, it is to hold the truth firmly so that it does not collapse under the weight of false teachings.  Furthermore, as a pillar it is to hold the truth up high so that it is not hidden from the world.  In other words, we are to boldly proclaim the truth of the gospel message to the world.   These are such challenging words that Paul gives to young Timothy.  

As you reflect on these verses this morning, take time to pray for the preaching and teaching ministries in your church so that they would be effective in gospel transformation in the lives of people.  Also pray that in our own individual lives, we would hold on to the gospel truth with integrity, along with boldness to proclaim it to the people around us.    

Prayer: Lord, thank you that we see Paul’s heart for the gospel message.  Our prayer is that we would hold on to the foundational truths and at the same time that we would declare the message of Christ unashamedly.  Amen.  

Bible Reading for Today: Genesis 47


Lunch Break Study 

Romans 1:16-17: For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. [17] For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”

Questions to Consider 

  1. Where does Paul’s confidence come from when it comes to the gospel?
  2. Do we see this type of boldness and assurance in lives?    
  3. How is the Lord challenging you through these verses?

Notes

  1. Having confessed his fervent desire to preach the gospel at Rome, Paul goes on to give a reason for his zeal. He has no reservations about his mission. 
  2. The gospel is not a message to be ashamed of even if the world finds it foolish.   The Greek word for “power” (dunamis) is where we get the word “dynamite.” Paul is saying the gospel has power like  dynamite! Do we have this kind of boldness for the gospel?  
  3. Pray for greater boldness and urgency.  

Evening Reflection

We have been reflecting on the importance of biblical truth and boldness in the gospel.  Let’s ask the Lord that we would  live out these truths.  

February 10, Wednesday

REPOST Today’s AMI QT Devotional, written by the then (2013) staff of Kairos Christian Church in San Diego, is an updated version of their blog first posted on July 27, 2013.

Devotional Thought for This Morning

“Love the Giver Then Thank Him for His Gift”

Psalm 78:23-31

Yet he gave a command to the skies above and opened the doors of the heavens; 24 he rained down manna for the people to eat, he gave them the grain of heaven.  25 Men ate the bread of angels; he sent them all the food they could eat.  26 He let loose the east wind from the heavens and led forth the south wind by his power.  27 He rained meat down on them like dust, flying birds like sand on the seashore. 28 He made them come down inside their camp, all around their tents. 29 They ate till they had more than enough, for he had given them what they craved. 30 But before they turned from the food they craved, even while it was still in their mouths, 31 God’s anger rose against them; he put to death the sturdiest among them, cutting down the young men of Israel.

When we think of God, we often think of a loving Father who is gracious and patient, quick to forgive, desiring to bless His children.  But how often do we think about God’s wrath?  God is not only loving and gracious, but He’s also holy and just.  As a good father, our Heavenly Father loves us enough to be upset when we’re not grateful for his provisions, when we live in continual disobedience, and rebellious to His ways.  

The Israelites incurred the wrath of God because all they cared about was satisfying their earthly cravings.  All they cared about was the gift and not the giver.  And this is why God’s anger arose against them.

Today, let’s begin by worshipping God for who He is.  Meditate on God’s goodness with a heart filled with thanksgiving.  Let’s not be like the Israelites, but fear God and continue to confess our sins and our need for Him.  What blessings has God showered you with?  What has been your attitude toward these blessings?

Prayer: Father, I declare that You are completely holy and just.  I praise and thank You for not only the blessings in my life but also Your discipline, for I know that both come from Your love and grace.  I confess that I need You more today than ever.  Teach me to live in gratitude and thanksgiving.  Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Genesis 46


Lunch Break Study

Read James 4:7-10 (NIV): Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9 Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up. 

Questions to Consider

  1. What happens when you resist the devil? 
  2. What results when you come near to God?
  3. Place yourself in a setting where you are able to draw nearer to God with all of your mind and your heart.  

Notes

  1. When we resist the devil along with his enticing temptations while submitting to God, the devil will flee from us. Rebellion against God is a serious matter. The devil is the greatest rebel of all time, and he is in the business of persuading God’s people to join him in rebellion. If we rebel against God, we are submitting to the devil.  
  2. As you draw near to God, He will draw near to you. The most urgent and important business for each of us is to draw near to God each day, each week, each season of our lives. In His presence, we draw strength to face our circumstances in life. 
  3. Instead of being angry with others, submit to what God is doing in your life, accept that things will be difficult for a while, and don’t sit in judgment on others (4:7-12). Don’t demand that things be done to suit you, either in your personal life or in the church. Accept that your circumstances may be sorrowful for the time being. Submit to how God has fashioned things, and he will eventually lift you up (4:7-10).

Evening Reflection

How did the Spirit of God help you in resisting the devil and his schemes to bring about severe damage to your life?

Prayer: Heavenly Father, I believe in Your love and affection for me as Your child. Help me to see the beauty of Jesus Christ so that I would draw closer to Him. Amen.  

February 9, Tuesday

REPOST Today’s AMI QT blog, written by Pastor Mark Chun of Radiance Christian Church in S.F., was originally posted on September 12, 2014.  Mark is a graduate of University of California, San Diego (BS) and Talbot School of Theology (M.Div.). 

Devotional Thought for This Morning

“Redeeming Capitalism”

Ecclesiastes 5:10-20 (ESV)

He who loves money will not be satisfied with money, nor he who loves wealth with his income; this also is vanity. 11 When goods increase, they increase who eat them, and what advantage has their owner but to see them with his eyes? 12 Sweet is the sleep of a laborer, whether he eats little or much, but the full stomach of the rich will not let him sleep. 13 There is a grievous evil that I have seen under the sun: riches were kept by their owner to his hurt, 14 and those riches were lost in a bad venture. And he is father of a son, but he has nothing in his hand. 15 As he came from his mother’s womb he shall go again, naked as he came, and shall take nothing for his toil that he may carry away in his hand. 16 This also is a grievous evil: just as he came, so shall he go, and what gain is there to him who toils for the wind? 17 Moreover, all his days he eats in darkness in much vexation and sickness and anger. 18 Behold, what I have seen to be good and fitting is to eat and drink and find enjoyment in all the toil with which one toils under the sun the few days of his life that God has given him, for this is his lot. 19 Everyone also to whom God has given wealth and possessions and power to enjoy them, and to accept his lot and rejoice in his toil—this is the gift of God. 20 For he will not much remember the days of his life because God keeps him occupied with joy in his heart. 

In an interesting essay on the topic of greed by Julian Edney, a Yale economics professor who is not a Christian, he noted that Americans don’t see greed as an immoral practice and don’t recognize the social problems that arise as a result.  He went on to cite some startling facts about life in America.   The Department of Agriculture in its survey of the population has found out that nearly 4% of our population or 4.4 million American households sometimes go hungry for lack of money.  An estimated 2 million children are homeless at some time during the year.  The most alarming trend is the fact that there are whole families who have full and part time jobs who are unable to afford the cost of living in many of our cities and find themselves out on the streets.  These people, for the most part, are trying to make a living, but they cannot keep up with the escalating cost of living caused by the unequal distribution of wealth in our society.  Edney makes the point that while the rich are getting richer, the poor are getting poorer.  Unfortunately, an economy that is based on competition and survival of the fittest will have its winners and its losers.  It is designed in the long run to produce inequality.

Although I see the value of capitalism, unless it is tempered by the Christian virtues of generosity and charity, it can produce many social evils.  In this passage of Ecclesiastes, we are also reminded of the personal consequence of greed. Our hunger for money and material wealth can never be satiated.  John D. Rockefeller, the late 19th century tycoon, was once asked, “How much money is enough?” to which he replied, “Just a little bit more.”  Solomon saw this as a grievous evil because all of our wealth can be taken in a moment’s notice.  The underlying lesson is to see everything as a gift from God, which we can use and enjoy while we have it.  When we see our material blessings as simply a product of our hard work, we will naturally become anxious and worry over our finances, which left unchecked can lead to greed.  It is far better to rejoice in the fruit of our labor and to give God the glory for whatever comes from his hand.  

And one more thing: be generous today.  

Prayer: Father, we confess that it is easy to worry about our finances and even to become selfish with our money.  We ask that you would make us better stewards of all that you give us.  Help us to see that you have blessed us so that ultimately we can be a blessing to others.  Amen.  

Bible Reading for Today:Genesis 45


Lunch Break Study  

Read Matthew 6:24-34 (ESV): “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money. 25 “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? 28 And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, 29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. 34 “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. 

Phil. 4:19 (NIV): And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.

Questions to Consider 

  1. What does Jesus teach as our proper attitude towards money in comparison to our love for God?
  2. Why can we trust God more than the security that money provides?
  3. Where can we productively channel our efforts to overcome our anxiety? 

Notes

  1. 1Jesus uses some very strong terms in regards to our attitude towards money.  In light of our love for God, it should be as if we despise and hate money.  The pursuit of riches should never get in the way of our relationship with God, and where there is a choice, God should be the priority without a second thought.   
  2. God can be trusted because just as he feeds the birds and clothes the lilies, he will not leave us destitute.  Though we may go through difficult times, we should never think that God doesn’t care.  If we know that he cares for every bird and flower, how much more does he care about those who are made in his own image (James 3:9)?  
  3. Instead of simply working harder to make more money in order to cover our worries, Jesus commands us to seek first the kingdom of God.  This verse comes with the amazing promise that if we do this, all that we need in life will be provided for (Phil. 4:19).   

Evening Reflection

What are you anxious about?  Why are you worried?  Spend some time reflecting on all the good things that God has given you.  Take a moment to confess your anxieties to the Lord and pray, asking God to reveal his care and compassion for you.  

February 8, Monday

UPDATED Today’s AMI QT Devotional, provided by Pastor Ryun Chang (AMI Teaching Pastor), was first posted on January 10, 2014.

Devotional Thought for This Morning

“Sharing the Good News”

Philem. 1:6

“I pray that you may be active in sharing your faith, so that you will have a full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ.”

Probably, sharing the gospel in Mexico (culturally Catholic) is easier than in the State (culturally secular and postmodern).  Only one or two persons refused the gospel tract that I frequently handed out while doing my daily run.  But once at a park in California, a mother sought me out to return a rather benign tract that I gave to her son.  That is probably why many don’t share their faith: afraid of being embarrassed when rejected like that.  Yet, by not sharing and never experiencing leading someone to the Lord, we miss out on the kind of joy (a good thing indeed) that materializes only when that happens.  It’s like men who cannot experience the ultimate joy of childbirth from the mother’s standpoint. 

While I was studying at a university in the 1980s, I met a graduate student from China who was having a difficult time putting her ideas into proper English.  After befriending her, I spoke to her about many things, including my faith in Christ.  She was quite sad, however, when she did poorly on her take-home mid-term.  So, I helped her with the final exam; as a result (I think), she received an A.  And on the final day of the quarter, I popped the question (no, not that one): “Do you want to believe in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior.”  She said, “Yes.”  Frankly, I don’t know who was more joyous, her or me.  

On that day, I once again realized that one of the good things we have in Christ is the ability (i.e., knowledge of the gospel and being able to communicate) and opportunities to change someone’s eternal destiny.  Now, that is significant.  So, get going; don’t miss out.  What about fear?  It partly stems from not really knowing what we truly believe; therefore, study and learn.  Ultimately, this fear must be replaced with love for the lost soul (1 Jn. 4:18a: “There is no fear in love.  But perfect love drives out fear. . . .”) and boldness through prayer. (Eph. 6:20b: “Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.”)

Prayer: Heavenly Father, sharing the gospel is not something I have done much in the past and isn’t exactly something I look forward to doing.  Nevertheless, I’m your child because someone took the time to tell me about your Son.  So Lord, open my eyes to see the person whom I need to share your love, and give me the boldness and articulation to share the gospel in a gentle and respectable manner.   Amen. 

Bible Reading for Today: Genesis 44


Lunch Break Study

Read Daniel 2:45-47: “This is the meaning of the vision of the rock cut out of a mountain, but not by human hands—a rock that broke the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver and the gold to pieces.  ‘The great God has shown the king what will take place in the future. The dream is true and its interpretation is trustworthy.”  46 Then King Nebuchadnezzar fell prostrate before Daniel and paid him honor and ordered that an offering and incense be presented to him. 47 The king said to Daniel, ‘Surely your God is the God of gods and the Lord of kings and a revealer of mysteries, for you were able to reveal this mystery.’”

Questions to Consider

  1. What happened as a result of Daniel’s successful interpretation of a mysterious vision that this pagan king had?
  2. What did Daniel do here as well as in his later dealing with another pagan king Darius who declared, “The God of Daniel . . . is the living God ad he endures forever” (Dan. 6”26b)?  Implications?
  3. How do you think Daniel felt after seeing that his presence in the nation that exiled him led to converting these kings, who then proclaimed the God of Daniel throughout their empires?

Notes

  1. Nebuchadnezzar, who was furious that none of his advisers could resolve this vision (Dan. 2:10-2)  became a believer of Daniel’s God.
  2. In both occasions, Daniel shared his faith despite of the great risk in doing so.  One implication: Daniel knew that the main purpose behind being placed in a high governmental position was to have access to mighty people and to share his faith at an opportune time.
  3. Humanly speaking, Daniel’s life was sad but in times like that, he, no doubt, realized that his pain and disappointment in life had a real purpose—to reveal God’s greatness among the pagans.

Evening Reflection

In reviewing this day, did you see anyone who seemed to need God’s love more urgently than others? What made you feel that way?  Write out a prayer on his (her) behalf; plan to share the gospel as you build a relationship with that person.  

February 7, Sunday

UPDATED Today’s Spiritual Food for Thought is an updated version of AMI QT Devotional first posted on August 5, 2013.

Spiritual Food for Thought for the Weekend

“What God’s Sovereignty Should Mean in Our Lives”

Luke 2:1-7

“In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. 2 This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. 3 And all went to be registered, each to his own town. 4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, 5 to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. 6 And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. 7 And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.”

Who is ruling the world?  If our answer is anything other than “God,” then, I know this about us:  When facing temptations or trials, we will look to everything else other than God for help.  We may be fearful because of the economy or the possibility of contracting COVID but let us place our trust in God’s sovereign hand to watch over you. 

Throughout the history, we see that God is sovereign over the highest authority of nations.  In order to fulfill the prophecy where Christ was to be born, God’s hand had to be upon Caesar Augustus (v. 4).  It is comforting to know God is sovereign.  

So, to those who are disappointed by the result of the recent election, take heart, for God is in control.  And to those who are overjoyed by the same election that brought in a new administration, don’t put your faith in men but in God. 

Prayer: Heavenly Father, remind me and help me to place my trust in You.  May Your unfailing love rest upon me as I trust in Your holy name.  Amen. 

Bible Reading for Today: Genesis 43

February 6, Saturday

REPOST Today’s AMI QT Devotional, prepared by Pastor Jason Sato, was first posted on April 26, 2014.  Jason, along with his wife Jessica, is currently serving in Japan as a missionary.  Jason is a graduate of University of California, San Diego (BS) and Westminster Theological Seminary (M.Div.). 

Spiritual Food for Thought for the Weekend

“Are You Impressed with Jesus?”

Matthew 13:31-33

He put another parable before them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven is like a grain of mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his field. [32] It is the smallest of all seeds, but when it has grown it is larger than all the garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.” [33] He told them another parable. “The kingdom of heaven is like leaven that a woman took and hid in three measures of flour, till it was all leavened.”

It seems that as we get older, we become less and less surprised, having less amazement and wonder. Instead, we tend to become more skeptical. With these parables, Jesus surprises His hearers by declaring that the Kingdom of God may appear to be unimpressive, but it is, in fact, amazingly glorious: The Kingdom of God “is like a grain of mustard seed” (v. 31); “It is the smallest of all seeds” (v. 32); and it is also like leaven, hidden in an enormous bag of flour, nearly invisible to the naked eye (v. 33).

This is not the kingdom the Israelites were expecting. They anticipated a kingdom of military power like that of David’s, and longed for a kingdom of unimaginable peace and prosperity like Solomon’s. Instead, they encountered an uneducated, carpenter’s son from Nazareth; and he wasn’t even good looking.

Perhaps the appearance of Jesus was not impressive, but we might think that the miracles of Jesus would practically compel a sense of awe and wonder. While many were brought to a place of worship, some saw the miracles and remained unimpressed. In fact, though Judas saw more miracles in three years than most of us will witness in our entire lives, he was completely disappointed with Jesus and His Kingdom.

We need to understand that Judas was not an evil villain from a Disney cartoon. He lived with the disciples, and he fit in. And that’s why others were surprised at his betrayal. But Judas’ heart was very hard. He may have thought to himself, “Sure, seeking and saving the lost is nice, but what does that have to do with destroying the Roman army?” Or perhaps, “It’s neat that you can walk on water, but that doesn’t help my family that is being oppressed at all!”

We, too, are tempted to be bored or disappointed with Jesus and His Kingdom. Though we hate to admit it, we ask, “What good is the love of God if I can’t get a [job, girlfriend, etc.]?” We wonder, “How impressive can this Kingdom be if I still have the same hardships and struggles?”

Jesus does not answer all of our prayers or fulfill all of our desires. More than giving us a better version of our current lives, He makes us new people – people who can know and love Him. Jesus does not offer us circumstances or possessions: He offers us Himself.

Prayer: Lord, I need to be satisfied only with you, but the sad truth is that I am not.  Change that for me, please. Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Genesis 41-42

February 5, Friday

REPOST Today’s AMI QT Devotional, provided by Pastor Ryun Chang (AMI Teaching Pastor), was first posted on January 7, 2014.

Devotional Thought for This Morning

“What Sound Do We Hear?”

Philem. 1:3

“Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” 

One sound that I don’t like is the ringing phone.  It all started in Mexico when most of the calls for me meant another invitation to teach and preach and all I wanted to do on Sundays was rest after a week of constant talking and writing.  That tendency continued as I began living in the States but for a different reason.  As a family, we are not phone users; when calls are made, it is usually because something happened, like a car accident, stolen wallet or not feeling well.  Today, I received a call from my mechanic who informed me that an additional $200 is needed to buy another part; without it the gear will not shift properly.  Just another bad news! 

Now, when we open the Scripture, what “sound” do we hear?  Is it bearing good or bad news?  “Grace to you” (plural in Gk), says Paul to all who believe.  To those worn out from trying to accrue enough merits to earn God’s approval, this is indeed good news for, “it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—not work by works” (Eph. 2:8-9a).   Yes, we’ve freely received a wonderful gift of salvation because Christ did all the “heavy lifting” (i.e. paying the penalty of sin by dying on our behalf). 

Then Paul adds, “Peace to you,” which implies hostility existed between God and man prior to this declaration.   Doesn’t God love us?  Yes, but something got in the way; it’s called sin and it always stirs up the wrath of God whose nature demands that all who violate His Law must be punished; thus, “we were by nature objects of wrath” (Eph. 2:3b).   But Paul could declare, “Peace” only because “we [have been] saved from God’s wrath through [Christ]” (Rom. 5:9b), who became sin for us in order to undertake God’s wrath on our behalf. 

I know of no other news that ought to get us out of depression or discouragement than what God did through Christ, to be able to offer his grace and peace to the undeserved.  We are truly loved!  Now, have a great day in the peace and the grace of God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ!

Prayer: Lord, during the course of a hectic day at the office, school or home, I often forget what I have in you.  And after hearing bad news and anticipating more of the same, I become discouraged and fearful.  But I am reminded today that your love for me came at a cost so that my life can be lived in your grace and peace.  Thank you.  Help me to be always mindful of what you did for me in Christ. Amen. 

Bible Reading for Today: Genesis 40


Lunch Break Study

Read John 14:27: “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give you.  I do not give it to you as the world does.”

Eph. 2:14: “For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility; Luke 12:51: “Do you think I came to bring peace on earth?  No, I tell you, but division”; Matt. 10:34: “I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.”

Questions to Consider

  1. When comparing Jn. 14:27 and Eph. 2:14 with Matt. 10:34 and Lk. 12:51, what can you conclude?
  2. Obviously, these passages are addressing different human situations or conditions.  So, in what sense does Christ gives us peace?
  3. In what sense does Christ take away our peace, instead, giving us division and sword (conflict)?

Notes

  1. It appears to be a total contradiction.  The way to solve this dilemma is to understand each within its proper context without synthesizing the two apparently contradicting meanings; in other words they mean different things.  
  2. As alluded in the morning QT, Christ broke the barrier of hostility between God and man by suffering the consequence of sins that we committed on our behalf.  In this way, God reconciled us to himself through Christ (2 Cor. 5:18-9).
  3. The peace alluded in Lk. 12:51 and Matt. 10:34 is the type of peace that the world gives based on a false sense of security rooted in wealth, power and useful relationships.  Christ is willing to break down that façade so that we yearn for the peace that he gives. 

Evening Reflection

How peaceful was your day?  Were you being gracious to others?  Summarize your day around those two themes.   We can always improve but only through the strength that God provides; and that comes from earnestly praying in humility.  So pray!