November 25, Monday

Today’s blog, written by Pastor Sam Lee of Catalyst Agape Church in New Jersey, was first posted on October 4, 2013.

 

Devotional Thought for Today

“Counterfeit Humility”

Exodus 3:11-12a

“But Moses said to God, ‘Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?’ And God said, ‘I will be with you.’”

Moses was focused on what he couldn’t do, rather than on what HE could do.  This unhealthy focus on self causes insecurity, which often is mistaken for humility (a.k.a., counterfeit humility). The distinction is that insecurity is fed by fear, doubt, and faithlessness, whereas, humility doesn’t negate faith, but makes you cling onto it. Humility allows us to take our eyes away from self and put our dependence on God. Jesus is our model of humility. In humility, He risked everything and became a man and faced the cross to save others. 

The Lord wants to take you on a journey from insecurity to genuine humility, as God took Moses on this same journey. In the beginning, Moses compared himself to others, saw his own inadequacy and his past mistakes, and so when God told him, “I will be with you,” it didn’t bring him much personal comfort. Moses responded, “Please send someone else.”  

Moses was not humble in the beginning, because he was not dependent on God. God told him, “I will be with you,” but this assurance didn’t bring much security to him. Instead of seeing God being with him, he chose to see just himself, which made him insecure. But over time, the Bible says, “Now Moses was a very humble man, more humble than anyone else on the face of the earth.” Moses learned to wholeheartedly depend on the Lord, where God being with him became the most important thing in his life. 

Spend some time in prayer, taking your eyes off yourself and turning your eyes to the Lord.

Prayer: Dear God, forgive me of my pride and arrogance; instead, help me to be humble so that God’s glory may shine through my life.  Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Isaiah 41


Lunch Break Study

Read 1 John 4:7-10: “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. 10 In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

Romans 5:8: “but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

  1. What is the condition for God’s love for us?
  2. Do you think God requires you to be worthy of love or feel worthy of love before He loves you? Explain.
  3. In looking at your relationship with God, do you operate out of firmly believing in God’s unconditional love for you?  Prayerfully consider this question.

Note

  1. Based on these two passages, there are two conditions under which God will love us: first, we are sinners; second, we do not love God.  This is another way of saying that there is NO condition for God’s love.
  2. Piggybacking on the first answer, God does not require anything from us for Him to love and accept us because His Son Jesus, through his death and resurrection, removed the barrier that hindered God’s love from fully manifesting in our lives: SIN.  Of course, God, through His common grace, also loves the world that still has not embraced Jesus (Jn. 3:16); but the fullest measure of His love cannot be had until and unless we embrace (believe) Jesus Christ and his work on the cross.
  3. Personal response

Evening Reflection

We began the day reading about Moses and his need to depend on God. Did anything happen today that reminded you of that?  Review your day in light of that.

November 24, Sunday

Today’s blog, written by Pastor Young Kim of Grace Covenant Church in Philadelphia, was originally posted on June 4, 2013.

 

Spiritual Food for Thought for the Weekend

“Guard Your Heart”

Proverbs 4:23-25, 27 (NIV84)

“Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life. Put away perversity from your mouth; keep corrupt talk far from your lips. Let your eyes look straight ahead, fix your gaze directly before you. Do not swerve to the right or the left; keep your foot from evil.”

We have all seen properties guarded by a secure fence; that’s how we ought to guard our hearts.   Once the heart is breached, all moral and spiritual pollutants from the world will enter our thoughts to our demise.  

So, with what should we guard the heart?  Guard it with God’s word (Eph. 6:17); guard it with prayer (Eph. 6:18); guard it from bitterness (Heb. 12:15); guard it from selfishness (Phil. 2:3). Above all, keep it away from hopelessness (Prov. 13:12). 

But remember this—even if you failed to guard it and the heart is wounded, you can find forgiveness and healing in Jesus!!! 

Prayer: Jesus, I am weak, so I give you my heart.  Let the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you today. Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Isaiah 40

November 23, Saturday

Today’s blog, written by Pastor Young Kim of Grace Covenant Church in Philadelphia, was originally posted on June 3, 2013.

 

Spiritual Food for Thought for the Weekend

“Who Do You Trust?”

Proverbs 3:26

“For the Lord will be your confidence and will keep your foot from being snared.”

This is a great chapter on wisdom.  I could have easily posted the whole chapter. But here is the verse my son Isaiah liked as we talked about this chapter. 

Where do you put your confidence on? What makes you feel secure? The world tells us to put our confidence in money and accomplishments but remember Jesus is our true confidence.  Wake up!!! Lord is our confidence and He will keep our foot from being snared. The apostle Paul declares, “On him (God) we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us” (2 Cor. 1:10b).

This morning, pray for someone who struggles with the matter of whether to put trust in God or something else.  If you don’t have anyone to pray for you can always pray for AMI pastors and missionaries.  

Prayer:  Lord, give me wisdom to put my confidence only on Jesus Christ!!! 

Bible Reading for Today: Isaiah 38-39

November 22, Friday

Today’s AMI QT Devotional, written by Pastor Barry Kang of Symphony Church in Boston, was originally posted on March 5, 2014.

 

Devotional Thought for Today

‘A Lenient Judge God is Not”

1 John 1:8-10 (ESV)

If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

I have actually met Christians who claim to have no sin in their lives.  I haven’t come across very many, but they do exist. Most of us, however, do not claim to be sinless, and these verses indeed may come as a relief to us who are very much aware of our sins.  Indeed, it is an astonishingly good news that God is “faithful and just” to forgive our sins, which means we don’t need to deny or be defensive about sins in our lives.  

But in what way is it “just” for God to forgive our sins?  Isn’t it true that when the court deals leniently with a murderer or thief, we are aggrieved at the lack of justice?  However, for God, it is just to forgive our sins because on the cross Jesus has already taken those sins upon himself.  I can imagine Jesus interceding for us in heaven saying, “Father, it would be unjust for you to punish Barry, because I already took that sin upon myself on the cross.  Since I already took the punishment for Barry, in accordance to your faithfulness and just-ness, you should forgive Barry!”    

This day let us do the opposite of saying that we have no sin.  Let us come before God, and perhaps even before others, and confess our sins while declaring God’s faithfulness and justice in forgiving us over and over. 

Prayer: Father, I thank you that I don’t need to hide my sins from You.  I confess my sins and ask that You would, according to Your faithfulness and justice, forgive and cover my sins again.  Help me to declare Your grace and mercies this day. In the name of Jesus, I pray, Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Isaiah 37


Lunch Break Study  

Read Hebrews 7:23-28: Now there have been many of those priests, since death prevented them from continuing in office; 24 but because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. 25 Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them. 26 Such a high priest meets our need—one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens. 27 Unlike the other high priests, he does not need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins, and then for the sins of the people. He sacrificed for their sins once for all when he offered himself. 28 For the law appoints as high priests men who are weak; but the oath, which came after the law, appointed the Son, who has been made perfect forever. 

Questions to Consider

  1. Who are “those priests” that the author refers to in verse 23 (c.f. Hebrews 5:1-3)?
  2. How is Jesus different from those other priests?  How does this difference impact his ministry?
  3. How is this high priest able to meet our need?

Notes

  1. “Those priests” refer to human priests in the Levitical tradition, whose intercessory ministry on behalf of the people of Israel was constantly interrupted by their mortality.   
  2. In contrast, Jesus lives forever and is always interceding, and so is able to save completely [emphasis mine].
  3. This high priest meets our daily needs because we are always in need of his intercession, which is based on his once-and-for-all sacrifice on the cross.  Your sins today are covered!  Your sins tomorrow will be covered also!  If we confess, he is faithful and just to forgive our sins!

Evening Reflection

Consider the effects of the sins in your life.  Do the sins in your life fill you with hope in Christ or to shame and a sense of unworthiness?  Let’s surrender our sins once again and ask for greater faith in our great intercessor.

November 21, Thursday

Today’s AMI QT Devotional, written by Pastor Mark Chun (Radiance Christian Church, S. F.), was originally posted on March 17, 2014.

 

Devotional Thought for Today

“So Much Talk on Love, So Little the Evidence in the Church”

1 John 3:11-15 (ESV)

For this is the message that you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another. 12 We should not be like Cain, who was of the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own deeds were evil and his brother’s righteous. 13 Do not be surprised, brothers, that the world hates you. 14 We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love abides in death. 15 Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him. 

Many Christians will testify to the importance of love.  If you were to ask one hundred people in church how important love is, it is unlikely that a single person would deny its importance.  Everybody knows, at least mentally, that love is the single most important virtue, and this is possibly the only thing that all of Christendom agrees on.  It doesn’t matter if you come from a conservative or a charismatic church, whether you are Presbyterian or Baptist, all Christians agree that love is of the highest priority.  

But even though there is this universal agreement on the importance of love, why is there so little of it in the church?  This lack of love is something that we have seen in our church, and I am assuming that it’s a problem for many churches. There may be occasional moments of love, but most Christians would admit that there is still a longing in our hearts for more love in every area of our lives, including our relationships with other believers.  

Sometimes, the most basic thing is the hardest thing to perfect.  From the very outset of our faith, we are exhorted to love one another, but somehow envy, anger, and even division enters our fellowship.  Perhaps the best way to overcome this lack of love is to understand the serious nature of the sins that are a natural outcome of not walking in love.  John Stott once wrote, “Jealousy-hatred-murder is a natural and terrible sequence.” I have seen this sequence played out far too many times, because we forget how easy it is to fall naturally into the sin of Cain.  No one is exempt. No one is free from these temptations, and this is why it is so vital to be reminded constantly of our call to love.

So today, make a concerted effort to love another. 

Prayer: Father, help us to love one another, just as You have loved us through your Son.  Forgive us for our lack of love and failure to carry one another’s burdens. If we struggle with negative emotions like anger, bitterness, or resentment, help us to work toward love and reconciliation.  Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Isaiah 36


Lunch Break Study  

While you read this passage, briefly reflect on the context in which Jesus is speaking. 

Read Matthew 5:21-25:  You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ 22 But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire. 23 So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24 leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. 25 Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are going with him to court, lest your accuser hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you be put in prison. 

Questions to Consider

  1. According to Jesus, what is the punishment for the physical act of murder as compared to anger and contemptuous words?
  2. To what length should we go to reconcile a relationship with an offended Christian brother or sister? 
  3. How should we handle disputes with our adversaries?  Is there anyone you need to forgive or reconcile with?  

Notes

  1. The shocking conclusion in verse 22 is that all three sins are equally in danger of the fire of hell.  Words that we throw around commonly such as “stupid fool” reveal a deep contempt for human life that is equally as dangerous as murder.
  2.   Since Jesus gave this sermon in Galilee, he is telling someone who has traveled close to eighty miles to bring his sacrifice to the temple in Jerusalem, to now go back and reconcile before giving his offering.  This would equate to a round trip of 160 miles at a time when most people made the trip on foot or donkey!
  3. We should look to resolve conflicts as quickly as possible before it gets to serious.  

Evening Reflection

In light of our theme, did you get angry or short with anyone today?  Maybe someone who cut you off? Or you had an incident with a coworker, roommate, or family member?  Review your day here and lift up a prayer, asking for forgiveness and reconciliation where possible.

November 20, Wednesday

Today’s AMI QT Devotional (new) is provided by Tina Hsu of Church of Southland in Anaheim, California.

 

Devotional Thought for Today

“The Power of Love”

1 Peter 4:8 

“Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.” 

In my early attempts to understand and apply 1 Peter 4:8 into my life, I asked God how my acts and attempts to love—or any person’s love—could possibly cover a multitude of sins. We know that only Christ by His blood and righteousness could cover sin, and furthermore, a multitude of sins, right? Also, as much as I seek to love others, isn’t my love limited and always a work in progress? How could it wipe away or stop sin from happening?

It wasn’t until I served with my team in Asia for my one year AMI internship that this verse began to become real and clear to me. I can testify now that love amongst brothers and sisters through the thick and thin of teamwork really does cover, and prevent, the multitude of possible sins that could dishonor God and hurt one another. 

As our team was formed to work towards one mission, all of our insecurities surfaced to the forefront, and we also brought out each other’s insecurities and fears: these would manifest itself through sinful behaviors, such as judging, holding grudges, and comparing.  We would be busy protecting ourselves, and not supporting each other because covering our own insecurities was a greater priority. No one liked feeling inadequate. This is where I learned that sin is rooted in insecurity; and on the contrary, security comes from an intimate relationship with God. When we are secure, we sin less. Therefore, we learned and had to work at trying to reflect God’s love towards one another so that our security would increase and give us strength to sin less. 

By providing a safe place in our team to be weak and make mistakes, we were tempted less to put each other down and empowered to love. I learned that we were “winning” at teamwork when we learned of each others’ insecurities (particularly in speaking and leading) and found ways to “love” one another’s insecurities away through words of encouragement and support. By doing so, the energy used towards comparing, blaming, being jealous, disputing over ideas, and judging lessened. Loving one another became above being right and seeing our ideas being executed.  

Our growth began because one person in my life prayed this verse over our team regularly. Through prayer and waiting, we individually grew insight and understanding to live this out. Let me ask you this: What is the temperature of brotherly love in the team you are working with today? Pray 1 Peter 4:8 over your team and seek the Lord for power to love above all.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank You for the teammates, co-workers, and leaders You have placed in my life in this season. Give me wisdom in all of these relationships so that I could serve my co-workers well and choose to love them deeply. May our workplace be a place where grace is extended, and time is generously given to grow in understanding of how to love one another.  In Jesus’ Name. Amen. 

Bible Reading for Today: Isaiah 35


Lunch Break Study

Read Romans 12:9-13: “Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good. 10 Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor; 11 not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; 12 rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer, 13 contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality.”

Questions to Consider

  1. What does v. 9 imply about love? 
  2. How does Apostle Paul instruct the church at Rome regarding love in vv. 10-11? 
  3. Verse 10b says, “give preference to one another in honor; not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord,”  implying that “giving preference to others in honor” is actually a way of serving the Lord. Who is someone God is leading you to love out of reverence for Christ and for the purpose of serving God?

Notes

  1. To love well requires searching the intention of the heart (discerning if there are evil or good motives), and being sincere, instead of hypocritical. 
  2. Love is an action that involves choosing to be devoted to one another and choosing to honor and consider others above ourselves. 
  3. Personal Response.

Evening Reflection

Reflect on Matthew 5:46-47 tonight: If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that?” Ask yourself this: Who are the people in your life right now that the Holy Spirit is convicting you to “go the extra mile” to express a love that reflects the love that Jesus defines.

November 19, Tuesday

Today’s AMI QT, written by Tina Hsu of Church of Southland in Anaheim, California, was first posted on September 25, 2015.  

 

Devotional Thought for Today

“Cleaning Out Your Life”

2 Kings 23:3, 24-26 (NASB)

The king stood by the pillar and made a covenant before the LORD, to walk after the LORD, and to keep His commandments and His testimonies and His statutes with all his heart and all his soul, to carry out the words of this covenant that were written in this book. And all the people entered into the covenant.

24 Moreover, Josiah removed the mediums and the spiritists and the teraphim and the idols and all the abominations that were seen in the land of Judah and in Jerusalem, that he might confirm the words of the law which were written in the book that Hilkiah the priest found in the house of the LORD. 25 Before him there was no king like him who turned to the LORD with all his heart and with all his soul and with all his might, according to all the law of Moses; nor did any like him arise after him.

Some of us who follow a reading plan to  read the Bible in one year, have had times when we had absolutely no idea what we had just read; nonetheless, we were  content to mark off another 5 chapters from the reading chart. But King Josiah wasn’t like that. Upon discovering the Book of God’s Law that had been lost for a long time, he devoted himself to purify the land of Judah of its idolatry so that Judah’s ways would conform to what was written in God’s book. He read God’s Word to the people of Judah and led them to renew their commitment to walk in the way of the Lord. The majority of this chapter (vv. 4-20) records how Josiah removed idolatrous priests from the house of the LORD, removed altars that previous kings of Judah had built, burned vessels that were for Baal and Asherah worship, and more. Josiah truly turned to the Lord with all his heart, all his soul, and certainly, with all his might. 

Though Josiah knew that God was going to “remove Judah and cast off Jerusalem” (23:27) because the generations of his forefathers had forsaken God, the Book of the Law (God’s Word) led Josiah to lead the nation back to God in his lifetime. He let God’s Word, which Judah had neglected for many years, define his course of action and his leadership. Though the outcome for Judah was sealed, Josiah was instrumental in preserving covenant faithfulness for Judah in his lifetime. In this way, Josiah was successful and Scripture records, “there was no king like him…nor did any like him arise after him” (23:25). Though he had no control over Judah’s future, he glorified God by faithfully keeping a covenant relationship with God. 

The Word of God provides power for endurance and faithfulness. Nothing can nourish our souls and strengthen us to do the work of the Lord than the very words of God. If reading or listening to the Word of God is lacking in your daily spiritual life, ask the Lord today to renew your thirst and devotion for His Word. 

Prayer

Dear Jesus, I desire for your commands and your Words to be near and dear to me. As your Word is able to equip me to do every good work, help me to spend time in your Word daily. In Jesus’ name, Amen. 

Bible Reading for Today: Isaiah 34


Lunch Break Study

Read Matthew 4:1-4 (NASB): Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 2 And after He had fasted forty days and forty nights, He then became hungry. 3 And the tempter came and said to Him, “If you are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.” 4 But He answered and said, “It is written, man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.”

Questions to consider

  1. What is happening during this time in Jesus’ life and ministry?
  2. What is the nature of Satan’s temptation?
  3. How does Jesus’ answer minister and encourage you today?

Notes

  1. This takes place at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry. John the Baptist baptized Jesus at the Jordan River, where Jesus revealed that He came to “fulfill all righteousness” (Mt. 3:15). He came to fulfill and complete what man, tainted by sin, could not do. The world fell under the power of sin because man was overcome by temptation, but Jesus has now come to face temptation and to overcome it by the Word of God.  
  2. Satan’s temptations begin with “If you are the Son of God” (v. 3). Satan desires to drive a wedge between Jesus’ love relationship with the Father. He wants to deceive Jesus into using His own power and role for His own personal gain. He wants to hinder Jesus from trusting and obeying the Father’s will. 
  3. Personal response

Evening Reflection

Before going to bed, meditate on Psalm 119:103-104: How sweet are Your words to my taste! Yes, sweeter than honey to my mouth! From Your precepts I get understanding; therefore I hate every false way.