November 15, Sunday

REPOST Today’s Spiritual Food for Thought, provided by Pastor Charles Choe who leads Tapestry Church in Los Angeles, was first posted on June 22, 2014.  Charles is a graduate of University of California, Riverside (BA) and Fuller Theological Seminary (M.Div.).

Spiritual Food for Thought for the Weekend

“Helping the Widows”

1 Timothy 5:3-16

Give proper recognition to those widows who are really in need. 4 But if a widow has children or grandchildren, these should learn first of all to put their religion into practice by caring for their own family and so repaying their parents and grandparents, for this is pleasing to God. 5 The widow who is really in need and left all alone puts her hope in God and continues night and day to pray and to ask God for help. 6 But the widow who lives for pleasure is dead even while she lives. 7 Give the people these instructions, so that no one may be open to blame. 8 Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever. 9 No widow may be put on the list of widows unless she is over sixty, has been faithful to her husband, 10 and is well known for her good deeds, such as bringing up children, showing hospitality, washing the feet of the Lord’s people, helping those in trouble and devoting herself to all kinds of good deeds. 11 As for younger widows, do not put them on such a list. For when their sensual desires overcome their dedication to Christ, they want to marry. 12 Thus they bring judgment on themselves, because they have broken their first pledge. 13 Besides, they get into the habit of being idle and going about from house to house. And not only do they become idlers, but also busybodies who talk nonsense, saying things they ought not to. 14 So I counsel younger widows to marry, to have children, to manage their homes and to give the enemy no opportunity for slander. 15 Some have in fact already turned away to follow Satan. 16 If any woman who is a believer has widows in her care, she should continue to help them and not let the church be burdened with them, so that the church can help those widows who are really in need.

Paul now turns to the problem of widows. In Paul’s time, widows were in an especially difficult position because employment for women was not readily available, nor was there some type of government assistance for the elderly. Perhaps some could receive help through family or friends, but many lived in poverty, never having received an inheritance. Since the outlook for many was dire, it was important for the church to support them. In fact, soon after the birth of the church, not too long after the Pentecost, the book of Acts records that the caring of widows was the first internal problem the church had to address (Acts 6). 

This problem was also found in the Ephesian church, and Paul addresses this issue to Timothy in today’s passage. The primary concern in today’s passage is to identify which widows the church should provide for. There are two key indicators: not having other family members and general godliness of the widow. But the point that should not escape us today is precisely the church’s mandate to care for the widows. Why? Because the church is to reflect the heart of God on earth. When we love those who have nothing to offer in return, and we care for those who can’t help themselves, then we reflect the very love that God has demonstrated to us through His Son Jesus Christ.  

So Paul gives Timothy admonitions as to how to deal with this matter in v.3: Honor widows who are real widows. Paul is saying, “Don’t be taken advantage of, but if there are real needs, real widows, honor them by providing for them.” And herein lies the principle the church is commended to live out: When there are people with genuine needs, the church should do all they can to help them. In fact, the apostle James says this is the sign of true religion (James 1:27). When we help widows and orphans, this is a certain way to demonstrate the genuineness of our faith. 

So consider how helpful you are when it comes to those who are helpless and can offer nothing in return. When is the last you helped someone without expecting anything back? Challenge yourself to look for someone who needs help so that you can serve them without being paid back. 

Prayer: Lord, thank You that You have put us in a position to help the needy, including the widows. May we be generous in reflection of Your generosity toward us.  Amen. 

Bible Reading for Today: Song of Songs 8

November 14, Saturday

UPDATED Today’s Spiritual Food for Thought is an updated version of AMI QT Devotional first posted on August 16, 2013.

Spiritual Food for Thought for the Weekend

“Which Comes First: Healing or Forgiveness?” 

Luke 5:17-26

One day Jesus was teaching, and Pharisees and teachers of the law were sitting there. They had come from every village of Galilee and from Judea and Jerusalem. And the power of the Lord was with Jesus to heal the sick. 18 Some men came carrying a paralyzed man on a mat and tried to take him into the house to lay him before Jesus. 19 When they could not find a way to do this because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and lowered him on his mat through the tiles into the middle of the crowd, right in front of Jesus. 20 When Jesus saw their faith, he said, “Friend, your sins are forgiven.” 21 The Pharisees and the teachers of the law began thinking to themselves, “Who is this fellow who speaks blasphemy? Who can forgive sins but God alone?” 22 Jesus knew what they were thinking and asked, “Why are you thinking these things in your hearts? 23 Which is easier: to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’? 24 But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” So he said to the paralyzed man, “I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.” 25 Immediately he stood up in front of them, took what he had been lying on and went home praising God. 26 Everyone was amazed and gave praise to God. They were filled with awe and said, “We have seen remarkable things today.”

Maybe the paralytic, having long given up on himself, was also paralyzed in his spirit.

Perhaps he just simply went along with what his well-meaning friends were trying to do for him.  Or could it be that the paralytic’s faith was included in “their faith”?  Living in America where individualism has become more important than the community, it may be extremely hard for us to understand “their faith.”  

But one thing is certain: everyone was somewhat disappointed or angry when Jesus said, “Friend, your sins are forgiven” (v. 20).  Some of the religious leaders were upset since Jesus declared only what God has the authority to do, which is to forgive.  Initially, the rest of the crowd was probably disappointed, since they really expected to see something spectacular, such as a miraculous healing.  Of course, the paralytic and his four friends were beyond feeling disappointed—actually, devastation is more like it. 

So then, why did forgiveness come first?  I need not add anything to Jesus’ response to that question: “But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins” (Lk. 5:24).  We all want to see something more spectacular in life, like miraculous healings, but foremost, Jesus wants us to see and experience His authority to forgive so that we can be reconciled to God.  Have you been forgiven?

Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank You for forgiving my sin in Christ.  Thank You for the previous gift of being forgiven forever in Your Son.  In Jesus’ name, amen.  

Bible Reading for Today: Song of Song 6-7

November 13, Friday

REPOST Today’s AMI QT Devotional, provided by Pastor David Kwon who heads Journey Community Church in Raleigh, North Carolina, was first posted on November 22, 2013.  He is a graduate of Drexel University (BS) and Columbia International University (M.Div.).

Devotional Thought for This Morning

“Remembering the Great Works of God in Our Lives”

Psalm 111:1-10

Praise the LORD! I will give thanks to the LORD with my whole heart, in the company of the upright, in the congregation. [2] Great are the works of the LORD, studied by all who delight in them. [3] Full of splendor and majesty is his work, and his righteousness endures forever. [4] He has caused his wondrous works to be remembered; the LORD is gracious and merciful. [5] He provides food for those who fear him; he remembers his covenant forever. [6] He has shown his people the power of his works, in giving them the inheritance of the nations. [7] The works of his hands are faithful and just; all his precepts are trustworthy; [8] they are established forever and ever, to be performed with faithfulness and uprightness. [9] He sent redemption to his people; he has commanded his covenant forever. Holy and awesome is his name! [10] The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; all those who practice it have a good understanding. His praise endures forever!

Do you remember the last time something completely captivated you?  Maybe it was the beauty of a painting or the sound of an orchestra, but whatever it was, everyone has experienced the excitement of something amazing in their life.  

Here in Psalm 111, as the psalmist is reflecting back and remembering the greatness of the Lord, he is amazed at all that God has done (Psalm 111:2).  The psalmist is “praising the Lord” because:

  1. V.3 – He is full of splendor and majesty; His righteousness endures forever;
  2. V.4 – He is gracious and merciful;
  3. V.5 – He remembers his covenants;
  4. V.7 – He is faithful, just, and trustworthy.

This is an acrostic psalm, where each line of poetry follows the letters of the Hebrew alphabet from beginning to end. And this form is quite appropriate since the theme of the psalm is remembering the great works of God, and His faithfulness to His people throughout history. 

Given all that God’s people have been through and will continue to endure, it’s important that we remember that God keeps His covenant, and He will continue to look out for those who love Him.  

Spend some time this morning reflecting on the “great works of the Lord.”  As the writer of the Psalm did, thank him for his faithfulness, mercy, his righteousness, and love that endures forever.  

Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank you for Your great works done in my life.  I am so grateful that You continue to do amazing things for me in spite of me.  Praise the Lord!  Amen. 

Bible Reading for Today: Song of Songs 5


Lunch Break Study

Read Matthew 7:7-11: “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. [8] For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. [9] Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? [10] Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? [11] If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!

Questions to Consider

  1. According to this passage, what should we expect when we “ask” Jesus in our prayers?
  2. What is the model for prayer taught by Jesus?
  3. How does Jesus compare our earthly fathers to the heavenly Father?

Notes

  1. Prayer is one of the ways we can experience the “great works of Jesus” in our lives.  It is amazing to think that our heavenly Father listens and answers our prayers.  
  2. The model for prayer that Jesus gives to His people reveals the incredible truth: that His disciples are privileged to call God Father.  No matter how minor our worries and needs may seem, they are never trifling matters to Him; he is genuinely concerned about us and wants us to present them to Him.
  3. Jesus compares earthly fathers to our heavenly Father to demonstrate God’s love and trustworthiness. In the midst of affirming that we give our children good things when they ask, Jesus points out what should be obvious—that we are evil.  Yet the emphasis is not on how sinful we are but on the goodness of God, which should move us to pray. If we, who possess no inherent goodness, give only good things to our sons and daughters, how could we believe that God the Father, who is the supreme standard of goodness, do less?  Take time to meditate and pray to our God who knows our needs and desires to give to us!

Evening Reflection

We have been meditating on the goodness of our God throughout this day.  Remember the “great works” he has done in your own life and give thanks to Him.   It could be answered prayers, God’s provision, a significant event like marriage or a birth of a child, people you know coming to know the Lord, etc.  There are many works that we can praise Him for.  Thank Jesus for all that he has done.

November 12, Thursday

REPOST Today’s AMI QT Devotional, provided by then (2013) staff of Remnant Westside Church in Manhattan, was first posted on September 19, 2013.  

Devotional Thought for This Morning

“Lord, All I Want is You”

Psalm 89:15-18

Blessed are the people who know the festal shout, who walk, O Lord, in the light of your face, 16 who exult in your name all the day and in your righteousness are exalted. 17 For you are the glory of their strength; by your favor our horn is exalted. 18 For our shield belongs to the Lord, our king to the Holy One of Israel.

This morning’s Psalm focuses in on the people who have experienced the presence of the Lord that overflows into praise and exaltation of God. The phrase, “the light of your face,” points to the favor of the Lord and also His presence. The imagery of the horn being exalted refers to the rising of strength and power. With this in mind, what we understand is that the outward manifestation of walking in His presence is visible worship that glorifies the name of God, His joy, strength, and power.

In this text, the psalmist is revealing the secret of living a life of victory, strength, worship, and security; it is to walk in the presence of the Lord. He properly sets the order for our lives. First and foremost, it is walking in the light of His face, which means

constantly being aware of who God is and what His words command even in the midst of a hectic week.  The overflow of this, then, is the exuberance of worship, when we praise and adore God on Sundays, followed by a life of offering our bodies as living sacrifices (Rom. 12:1).  That’s when we can truly experience the strength, the power and the security of God. 

This morning, this Psalm is reminding us that our highest priority and the way to live the blessed life, must be to walk in His presence. He is drawing us into intimacy and His presence. Let us respond this morning by saying, “Lord, all I want is you.”

Prayer: Thank God that, by the grace of God in Jesus Christ, we are able to worship by the Spirit of God! Lord, help us not to take pride in or make me feel like I am a better Christian than others.  Help me to repent of taking pride in the flesh.  Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Song of Songs 4


Lunch Break Study

Read Philippians 3:2-6: Watch out for those dogs, those evildoers, those mutilators of the flesh. For we are the circumcision, who worship by the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh— 4 though I myself have reason for confidence in the flesh also. If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more: 5 circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; 6 as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless.

Questions to Consider

  1. What do you know about the rite of circumcision (Gn. 17:10ff)?  What was it for?
  2. Who were the so-called “mutilators of flesh” and how did they manipulate the rite of circumcision?
  3. What is the apostle Paul’s response to those who wanted to add circumcision to the salvific “formula”?

Notes

  1. The rite of circumcision, first induced in Genesis 17 with respect to Abraham, was the sign of God’s covenant with Israel that elevated her as the people of God.
  2. The “mutilators of the flesh” were presumably false teachers using circumcision for ulterior motives, perhaps as a sign of setting themselves above people who weren’t circumcised, as if God loved them more for this “work.”
  3. Paul debunks this kind of thinking by saying there is nothing in the flesh that merits favor with God. If there were, he has a resume filled with such “works,” but unlike others, he wouldn’t use his accomplishments to lift himself up above others.

Evening Reflection

John 15:5: I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.”

“Heavenly Father, I seek to grow in true knowledge of You and to know who I am as Your child and disciple, in order to know my purpose in this life.  You never disappoint me and You are always near me. I know that You are always counseling and teaching me in the most wonderful ways, leading me in the perfect way to go, giving me the authority and power to be victorious. You are the ultimate One and I choose to anchor my soul in beauty of who You are!   Your mercies are new every morning, and Your goodness follows me every day of my life. What have I to fear? The truth of who You are permeates my heart.  You are calling me forth, rallying my heart to gaze upon You.” Amen. 

November 11, Wednesday

REPOST Today’s AMI QT Devotional, provided by Pastor Matt Ro who formerly pastored Journey Church in Atlanta, was originally posted on May 15, 2013.  Matt is a graduate of University of Pennsylvania (BS) and Biblical Theological Seminary (M.Div.). 

Devotional Thought for This Morning  

“‘Breathing Exercises’ When We Pray”

Psalm 58:6-11 (ESV)

O God, break the teeth in their mouths; tear out the fangs of the young lions, O Lord! 7 Let them vanish like water that runs away; when he aims his arrows, let them be blunted. 8 Let them be like the snail that dissolves into slime, like the stillborn child who never sees the sun. 9 Sooner than your pots can feel the heat of thorns, whether green or ablaze, may he sweep them away! 10 The righteous will rejoice when he sees the vengeance; he will bathe his feet in the blood of the wicked. 11 Mankind will say, “Surely there is a reward for the righteous; surely there is a God who judges on earth.”

Prayer is one of the most remarkable privileges that we have.  It can be compared to how we breath physically.  Through prayer, we breathe with the breath of God’s Spirit.  We exhale impure air — such as our complaints, our honest confessions, and our disturbing thoughts.  In prayer, we inhale the fresh breath of God — His revelations, assurance, and promises.  We may respond by breathing out and exploding in praise to God.

One form of breathing prayer is the complaint psalm in Scripture, sometimes called the “cursing” or imprecatory psalm.  We rarely hear messages in church about these prayers, especially words like, “O God, break the teeth in their mouths” (Psalm 58:6a).  It can be disturbing to us, sounding self-righteous, paranoid, or even vengeful; but actually, what the psalmists are doing is breathing with God.  These prayers are samplings of their private struggles.  We can see that even though everything is going badly, the psalmists keep on talking with God.  They do not turn their backs on God.

The “cursing” psalms teach us an important lesson about prayer: when things get unbearable or injustices assail us, when life is more than we can bear, we can still face our heavenly Father.  He can handle our rants.  We can vent our pain and process our thoughts in His presence.   By the end of Psalm 58, we see that the psalmist has settled down.  He says, “Surely there is a reward for the righteous; surely there is a God who judges on earth.” (v. 11).  The psalmist comes through with a sense of hope and assurance.

These psalms in Scripture teach us to wrestle through with God (Col. 4:12).  We, too, can breathe out all our disturbing and chaotic thoughts whether it be through journaling, poetry, or art; or we can let Scriptures express for us what we can’t.  This process, as disordered as it may be, is essential for our well-being.  Give it a try today.

Prayer:  Father, You invite us to breathe with Your Spirit and to freely express our burdens and our joys in prayer.  Give us the courage to pray with such consistent honesty before You.  Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Song of Songs 3


Lunch Break Study

Read Ephesians 4:4-6 (ESV): There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.

Questions to Consider

  1. Paul uses the word “one” a total of seven times in these three verses.  What are some lessons that can we learn about unity from this passage?  
  2. If you had the same unity with the Father as Jesus had, how would that affect your human relationships?  
  3. Upon what basis is our unity based?
  4. What are some areas that God has revealed to you in which you have been focusing on yourself instead of on Him and His glory?

Notes

  1. Beginning with Eph. 4:3, we see that unity is not something that needs to be produced but is something that already exists.  It is not only based on truth but also the experiences and identities that we share.  These are things that lay hold of us, not we who lay hold of them. We are united in these ways the moment we become a Christian.  Therefore, the way to create unity is simply to bring people to Christ, and the unity of the Spirit will be produced in them by the Spirit.  Another principle for unity is that we are “one body.”  I think back to Galatians 3:28 where there is “neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”  What does this all mean?  You and I lose our “human” identity in Christ.  I shouldn’t be known anymore for my social, physical status in life. I now should be known as a Christian (i.e., a follower of Christ) first and above all else.  Rather than being known as pro-this or anti-that, I should be known as a Christian who seeks to emulate Christ.
  2. It is important that Christians not be quarreling, bickering, and struggling against one another.  Such a church is totally ineffective in its life and ministry.  It is important that when Christians meet together, they recognize that they are called to understand one another, to forbear one another, to pray for one another, to forgive one another, not holding grudges, not being bitter or resentful toward each other. We must fulfill what God tells us to do through the apostle Paul: to maintain the unity of the Spirit.
  3. This unity is based on truth: There is one Spirit—one Holy Spirit—who is the third person of the Trinity.  He calls us to life, convicts us of sin, draws us to Christ, and enables us to walk worthy of this calling.  There is one hope in this calling—the hope that we have in Jesus Christ. Hope that will not be disappointed (Is. 49:23b).  There is one Lord—one Jesus, one Mediator between God and men, one Savior, one Redeemer.   There is only one way to heaven.  There is one faith—one true belief.  Whatever is not of faith is sin.  There is one baptism—one immersion into Christ by the Spirit of God, symbolized by our water baptism.  There is one God—this is in reality the most foundational truth, echoed throughout the Old and New Testament, that the Lord our God is One.  There is none other.
  4. Personal response

Evening Reflection

Have we realized that it is not our job to produce unity, but to discover the unity produced by the Spirit?  Have others noticed the peace, love, and life of Christ in us?

Prayer:  Father, may Your Spirit search my heart about my attitude toward others.  Thank you that it is not my calling to produce a union of Christians but rather to discover that unity produced only by the Holy Spirit.  Amen

November 10, Tuesday

REPOST Today’s Spiritual Food for Thought, written by Pastor Sam Lee who leads Catalyst Agape Church in Northern New Jersey, was first posted on July 23, 2014.  He is a graduate of University of Wisconsin (BA) and Biblical Theological Seminary (M.Div.).

Devotional Thought for This Morning

“Trusting God When We Are Wronged”

1 Peter 2:23

When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly. 

Parent’s natural instinct is to shield their child from harm. But in a fallen world, this is an impossible task. No one can be shielded from every possible disappointment, rejection, lie, spiritual attack, and sin in general. We do not live in a bubble, but in a fallen world where we sin against others, and others sin against us. 

Jesus, the Son of God, though perfect and sinless, faced disappointments and the sins of others. The Bible says, “He came to that which was His own, but His own did not receive Him.” (Jn.1:11).  The Father God did not shield His only Son from sin; but instead, the sin of the world was on Jesus, and He overcame sin: “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weakness, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just a we are – yet He did not sin” (Heb.4:15). 

How do you respond when others sin against you? The Bible says that Jesus “did not retaliate… He made no threats.  Instead, He entrusted Himself to Him who judges justly.” Jesus taught His disciples to forgive those who hurt them instead of holding on to their sins against them. We, as well, are to let those offenses go instead of holding on to them. Does that mean that we are to forget what they did to us? No, not forget; but rather, trust. Instead of trusting in ourselves to be the judge, jury, and executioner, we trust the Lord who is the perfect Judge.

Prayer: Lord, minister to my heart, bringing healing and freedom. I choose to forgive those who have hurt me, and I release them into your hands. You vindicate me, Lord.  You redeem and restore relationships. Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Song of Songs 2


Lunch Break Study

Read Hebrews 12:15: See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.

Gal. 5:15: If you keep on biting and devouring each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.

Questions to Consider

  1. What is a typical outcome of being bitter and judging those who have hurt us?
  2. What does it mean when you cease to be the judge and have the Lord be the judge over those who hurt you?

Notes

  1. Hebrews 12:15 uses the word “trouble,” while the Galatian passage says “destruction,” referring to broken relationships.  As a result of being a bitter and critical person, loneliness may ensue since no one really likes to be around people with these characteristics. 
  2. In short, you allow God to handle the situation and the people who are hurting you.  One way to implement this is to “love your enemies” by “pray[ing] for those who persecute you” (Matt. 5:44).

Evening Reflection

How can God use difficult relationships to work out His purpose in your life? 

November 9, Monday

REPOST Today’s AMI QT Devotional, provided by Pastor Yohan Lee, a friend of AMI, was first posted on April 14, 2014.  A graduate of University of Pennsylvania (BA) and Cairn University (MA), Yohan served as a staff at several AMI churches in the past. 

Devotional Thought for This Morning

“We are Sons, not Slaves”

Galatians 4:4-7

But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, 5 to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons.  6 Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.”  7 So you are no longer a slave, but a son; and since you are a son, God has made you also an heir.  

Yesterday, we touched on the issue of identity, stressing the importance of being a follower of Christ over all others we may have.  Today, we will continue on in this theme, highlighting the importance of understanding our primary identities as children of God over any other we may have as believers, but first a quick story.

When I was growing up, my father franchised a Dunkin Donuts shop.  Besides being somewhat lucrative, there were many perks to owning such a business, as you can imagine.  Of course, there were some responsibilities as well: if an employee got sick or didn’t show up for work, guess who had to fill in?  As a high-schooler, when such incidents happened, I generally wasn’t mature enough to see my responsibilities to my father’s store as a privilege and a blessing, I basically felt like a slave responding to the beckon call of my master.  Of course, nothing was further from the truth.  As the owner’s son, I could walk in at any time; make myself a coffee, get a doughnut, leave, and no one would say a thing.  The windfall from this business also helped put me through college.  What slave enjoys these privileges?  

In the Bible, there a several metaphors describing the believer: disciple, farmer, soldier, body part, etc. In this passage, Paul juxtaposes two that can at times be functionally similar, but completely different in essence, the slave and the son.  As believers, we are called to serve God and others, but sometimes our perspectives get a little out of balance if we feel like servant is our primary identity as a Christian.  

What this passage points out is that our identity as children of God supersedes our identities as servants, and really all others.  Remember, we serve because Christ asked us to, and he served as an example; therefore, serving is a key aspect to knowing and following Christ, but it never defines us.  What defines us is that we are God’s children, heirs to his promises, his presence, and eternal life.    

Prayer: Father, thank You that first and foremost I am your child.  Although I know there are times when I have to be a servant, or a soldier, or harvester, let me always comeback to remembering I am Yours. Amen  

Bible Reading for Today:  Song of Songs 1


Lunch Break Study

Read Matt 4:1-11: Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted[a] by the devil. 2 After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. 3 The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.” 4 Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” 5 Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. 6 “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written: “‘He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’” 7 Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’” 8 Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. 9 “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.” 10 Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’” 11 Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him.

Questions to Consider

  1. How does Satan attempt to appeal to Christ?
  2. How does the Lord respond?
  3. What are some ways you can avoid temptation?

Notes

  1. In the first two temptations, it is interesting that Satan prefaces his challenges with the statement, “If you are the Son of God…”  In other words, he challenges Christ’s identity.  After fasting for 40 days, I am sure that Jesus felt weak and hungry; was there ever a time before this that Jesus was weak or hungry?  He probably didn’t feel like the Almighty Son, but he was.  
  2. Both the Lord and Satan quoted Scripture to each other, but Satan twisted God’s word.  Sometimes knowing the Bible isn’t enough; we have to correctly handle the word of truth (2 Tim 2:15).  
  3. First, be secure in your identity in Christ.  Second, know and understand Scripture.  Three, depend on the Spirit.  Four, just say no.  Five, run away (not depicted in this text). 

Evening Reflection

If you haven’t already, take some time to bask in your relationship with the Heavenly Father.  Be his child; receive his love.  Ask yourself if you prioritize all your Christian identities of child, servant, body member, student, teacher, etc. correctly.  

November 8, Sunday

REPOST Today’s AMI QT blog, written by Pastor Mark Chun of Radiance Christian Church in S.F., was originally posted on March 29, 2013; it has been updated. Mark is a graduate of University of California, San Diego (BS) and Talbot School of Theology (M.Div.). 

Spiritual Food for Thought for the Weekend

“A Heart that is Wounded”

Proverbs 14:10-14 (ESV)

The heart knows its own bitterness, and no stranger shares its joy.  11 The house of the wicked will be destroyed, but the tent of the upright will flourish. 12 There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death.  13 Even in laughter the heart may ache, and the end of joy may be grief. 14 The backslider in heart will be filled with the fruit of his ways, and a good man will be filled with the fruit of his ways. 

One common experience that all people share, no matter your racial, cultural, or economic background, is the fact that we will all go through seasons of heartache and emotional angst.  Obviously, there are some who suffer more than others but no one is exempt.  COVID-19 is a great reminder of that.  People may process and handle their pain differently (we hide it, laugh about it, or simply ignore it) but it doesn’t negate the fact that all of us have wounded hearts.  

I’m sure that we can all go back to a time in our lives where we had to deal with loss, disappointment, anxiety, loneliness, and even depression.   Some of it might seem trivial like being dumped by your high school girlfriend or being mocked on the school playground but the accumulation of these things can leave lasting scars on our hearts.  The book of Proverbs recognizes the connection between the wholeness of our hearts and our ability to live fruitful lives.

We can talk at length about the symptoms of a heart that is wounded.  If you put your ultimate hope in your career and achievements, it’s natural for you to struggle with anxiety and worry.  If your life is built around reputation and recognition, then you will constantly struggle with insecurity and feelings of inferiority.  But even when everything seems to be going well, it’s hard to escape the background noise caused by sorrow.  Proverbs 14:13 teaches us that “even in laughter, the heart may ache and joy may end in grief.”  Some of the funniest comedians that we have ever known couldn’t reconcile their ability to make people laugh with the depth of pain they felt in the heart.  Commentaries on Proverbs point out that this isn’t just true for some people, it’s actually true for all people.  All of our laughter has subtle tinges of sorrow especially as we get older and face the reality of life.  

We can try to laugh away the inevitable pain of life but there is just one remedy.  In order for a heart to be whole, its desires have to be fulfilled.  As Augustine put so eloquently, “You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they can find rest in you.”  The journey of faith is about getting to that point where the deepest longings of our heart finds its satisfaction in Christ.   This weekend, I pray that you would allow the Lord to do some heart surgery and bring about the healing of your heart.  

Prayer: Holy Spirit, we invite You to heal our wounds and our lives.  Help us to discern Your voice daily and to obey You without delay.  We pray that You would silence the voice of the enemy that often hurts us, so that we can follow Your leading with an undivided heart.   Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Ecclesiastes 12

November 7, Saturday

REPOST Today’s AMI QT Devotional, provided by Pastor Barry Kang who heads Symphony Church in Boston, is an updated version of his blog first posted on April 27, 2013.  He is a graduate of Stanford University (BA), Fuller Theological Seminary (M.Div.) and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary (D.Min.). 

Spiritual Food for Thought for the Weekend

Philippians 2:3-8 (NIV)

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. 4 Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. 5 Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: 6 Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, 7 but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death—even death on a cross! 

Amid looking at the concept of training to become more like Jesus rather than trying to become more like Jesus,  today, I’d like to focus on an essential characteristic of Jesus: his humility.

In Philippians 2, Paul exhorts us to have the same attitude of Christ, “who being in very nature God did not consider equality with God something to be grasped.”  While the NIV translates this verse accurately, other translations (e.g. ESV, NASB and the NRSV) add a “though” or “although” to verse 6 which does not exist in the Greek text, such as for example, “though he was in the form of God” (ESV).  We add an “although” or “though” instinctively into this verse because it seems to make more sense.  Even though he was God, he was humble.  “How remarkable!” we exclaim.  And it is!  But what if we’re missing the point?  What if Jesus was humble not in spite of being God, but because he was in nature God?  Could it be that our God is in fact the most humble being on this universe?  And the answer is YES!  God’s humility is on display for all to see in the person of Jesus.  

And from Jesus we learn that a humble person is a self-secure person, while in contrast, a prideful person is generally insecure.  A humble Christian serves knowing that he is loved by God, while a prideful Christian serves in order to receive love.  It is only when we know who we are in Christ that we are truly able to be humble.  

So training ourselves in humility is not actually about beating ourselves down to become lowly, but focusing our hearts on God as revealed by the truth of the scripture.  When we can see God more clearly, then we are able to see ourselves more clearly, and humility will naturally follow. 

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

Bible Reading for Today: Ecclesiastes 10-11

November 6, Friday

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 6, 2014.  He is a graduate of Drexel University (BS) and Columbia International University (M.Div.).

Devotional Thought for This Morning

“Why Pray?”

1 Timothy 2:1-2

First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, [2] for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.

When I was taking a missions class during seminary, I remember my professor each day, before class started, would pray and lift up nations and various world leaders.  I was challenged by his heart to intercede for people, especially those in high leadership positions who can influence people.  It helped me in my own prayers to be mindful of nations and leaders and to be interceding for them.   

In these verses, Paul emphasizes the importance of prayer. First, he lists intercessory prayer–the people of God encountering God Himself on behalf of their fellow Christians and people around the world.  He also says that prayer involves praying for “all people.”  This is especially true when it comes to leaders (kings), even when these rulers are wicked men and women who hate the church — the very kind of leaders for whom Timothy and Paul had to pray for in the first century. We may not yet live under severe persecution, but for most of us, it is difficult to pray for authorities that might not profess Christ as their Lord and Savior and oppose the church. 

As we meditate on these verses this morning, spend some time lifting up nations, world leaders, and persecuted countries, where the Gospel cannot be freely preached.  Pray that the Lord would comfort his people in the midst of persecution, and also lift up the leaders that they would come to know the Lord as their Savior.  

Prayer: Lord, as Paul encouraged Timothy to pray for kings who are in high positions, I want to lift up leaders and rulers who may not know Jesus, and may even be persecuting the church today.  I pray that they would come to know you as the true and eternal King.

Bible Reading for Today: Ecclesiastes 9


Lunch Break Study  

Read Luke 18:1-8: And he told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart. [2] He said, “In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor respected man. [3] And there was a widow in that city who kept coming to him and saying, ‘Give me justice against my adversary.’ [4] For a while he refused, but afterward he said to himself, ‘Though I neither fear God nor respect man, [5] yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will give her justice, so that she will not beat me down by her continual coming.’” [6] And the Lord said, “Hear what the unrighteous judge says. [7] And will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them? [8] I tell you, he will give justice to them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”

Questions to Consider 

  1. Why do you think Jesus in this parable says “always pray and not to lose heart”?
  2. What do you observe in the widow’s attitude when it comes to prayer?
  3. What are some things God is asking you to be persistent in prayer?

Notes

  1. Jesus understood that when we pray, we often lose heart.  Whether it is unanswered prayers or having greater faith, it can often be discouraging.  That is why Jesus says not to lose heart. He reminds us through this parable that we ought to be persistent in our prayers and to believe that God will answer us in his time.  
  2. We see that the widow did not give up, but kept on bothering the judge until she got justice.  Is that how we approach prayer?  
  3. Let’s continue to be persistent in prayer.

Evening Reflection

We’ve been meditating on prayer this day, so spend this time in prayer – personal and intercessory.  Let’s continue to be persistent in our prayers.