July 26, Sunday

REPOST Today’s Spiritual Food for Thought, provide by a former staff at an AMI church, was originally posted on July 6, 2014.

Spiritual Food for Thought for the Weekend

“Intimacy with God”

Genesis 3:8-9

And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. 9 But the Lord God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?”

myeongdo-ahn-VKYB1JkZaOQ-unsplashIn today’s text, we find the crucial turning point for humanity. This was the moment where we went from a God planned state of hosting His presence to being separated from Him.

Even though Adam and Eve had already eaten from the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil at this point, verse 8 shows us what God intended for mankind in the Garden of Eden.  One commentator wrote, “The description of Eden with its trees, rivers, gold, and so on emphasized God’s presence there. Therefore it seems likely that it was not unusual for him to be heard walking in the garden ‘in the breeze of the day,’ i.e., in the afternoon when cool breezes spring up and the sun is not so scorching. Maybe a daily chat between the Almighty and his creatures was customary. The term ‘walking’ is subsequently used of God’s presence in the Israelite tent sanctuary again emphasizing the relationship between the garden and the later shrines.” The created condition was one of hosting where God would walk among us and we would fully engage with Him.

When Adam and Eve sinned, that intimate relationship was broken. Even though God was in the garden among them, the reality was that there was an uncrossable gulf between them. Isaiah 59:2 says, “But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear.”

If we take this Genesis context into our understanding of Jesus’ sacrifice, what it shows us is that His death was for more than our sins that needed atoning: It was to ultimately bring back true intimacy with God.

When we think about the purpose of Jesus’ sacrifice, we need to look at more than just forgiveness of sins and a ticket to heaven. His broken body is the bridge that we walk through to regain intimacy with God. Today, ask the Lord for deeper sensitivity to His presence and intimacy with Him. Be confident in asking this because this is why Jesus laid down His life for us.

Prayer: Dear God, help me to draw closer to You so that I may walk in a deeper sensitivity to Your presence.  Father, I seek a palpable experience with You, not only to sense Your love but Your holiness as well so that I may have a proper fear of God to walk away from sins. Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: 2 Corinthians 4

July 25, Saturday

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 December 3, 2013.  He is a graduate of University of Wisconsin (BA) and Biblical Theological Seminary (M.Div.).

Spiritual Food for Thought for the Weekend

“How to Be Filled with the Holy Spirit?”

Ephesians 4:30

And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.

person-holding-white-flower-bouquet-4499866People are hungry for the anointing of the Holy Spirit; therefore, some seek out famous speakers to lay hands on them, hoping for their anointing to rub off on them. This sounds like a good plan, but it is not as easy as it may seem. Last summer, I went to a conference where several internationally famous anointed men and women of God came to speak. The problem was that since thousands of people wanted to receive prayers from these speakers during the ministry time, I couldn’t even get near most of them; it was like trying to get to a flat screen TV on a Black Friday.

We all want the anointing of the Holy Spirit, but do we have to wait for a major conference, that is, do we need to travel hundreds of mile to get that anointing? Does the anointing come just because a famous speaker lays their hand on us for a split second?

Today’s passage is the key to being filled with the Holy Spirit; the Bible says, “Do not grieve the Holy Spirit.” We don’t have to wait for a retreat, a revival meeting, or a conference. Nor do we need to seek an “anointed’ man or woman of God to get prayed over. We can do something today to be more filled with the Holy Spirit. We need to honestly ask the Holy Spirit what grieves him. You may be surprised by what you are told.

If He points out bitterness, let’s take time to forgive.  This is to say, the way we relate to one another often grieves the Holy Spirit.  If He points out pride, let’s take time to humble ourselves. If He points out anxiety, let’s take time to pray until we have peace. If He points out wrong beliefs and thoughts, let’s take time to seek out biblical truths to replace it.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, help me to empty out the root of bitterness and pride from my heart so that the Holy Spirit can fill and saturate me. In fact, fill me with the Holy Spirit so that the grip of bitterness and pride on my heart may be loosened so that I can walk in the Spirit, not in my flesh.  Amen.   

Bible Reading for Today: 2 Corinthians 2-3

July 24, 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 December 12, 2014.  He is a graduate of Drexel University (BS) and Columbia International University (M.Div.).

Devotional Thought for This Morning

“Missing Cookies and a Breached Wall”

Proverbs 25:28

A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls.

foodism360-z3vyi0zn8UQ-unsplashMy children love all kinds of dessert: ice cream, cookies, cakes, etc.  A few months ago, my wife made a batch of cookies, so I told my kids that they were not allowed to have any until after dinner.  But right before dinner, I saw that several cookies were missing, along with a mess of crumbs all over the table.  I realized that the gratification of cookies was too much to handle and as a result my kids gave into temptation.

Solomon, the writer of this proverb, compares a person without self-control to a breached wall.  The city walls protect the people from all sorts of attacks from surrounding enemies.   So the picture the writer gives is that of a city whose walls have been so nearly destroyed as to be without defense against the enemy;  likewise, the man who has no restraint over his spirit is also defenseless and exposed to temptations, which eventually leads to sin.  He has no defense against anger, lust, and the other unrestrained emotions that are harmful for the soul, as well as to others. Solomon reminds us that we should see self-control as a wall for defense and protection from the appetites of our flesh.

What area in your life do you need to ask for greater self-control?  It could be lust, anger, shopping, your speech or something else.   Only the power of the Holy Spirit can change us and give us the self-control we need to live a godly lifestyle.  Spend some time this morning asking the Lord to search your heart and surrender the areas you need more self-control in.   

Prayer: Dear God, only You can change my heart that lacks self-control at times in various areas of my life.  Through the power of the Spirit, change me and fill me with more of You.  Amen.

Bible Reading for Today:  2 Corinthians 1


Lunch Study Break

Read 2 Timothy 1:6-8: For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline. So do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord or of me his prisoner. Rather, join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God.

Questions to Consider

  1. What is Paul telling Timothy concerning the Holy Spirit?
  2. Why do you think Paul is reminding him of this truth?
  3. How is this applicable in our daily lives?

Notes

  1. The effective Christian worker must have the power of the Holy Spirit, but that power must be expressed in a loving spirit. The Spirit also gives us self-discipline to flee from temptations and to live a God-centered lifestyle.
  2. We tend to forget the power that is available to us in our everyday lives.  The Holy Spirit gives us the power to change as we abide in Christ (John 15) and is not an act of self-will.
  3. We need to be filled with more of Jesus so that we can experience His power and love, and to better minister to others.

Evening Reflection:

What are some areas you need to surrender to the Lord so that you would be “protected” by self-control?   We need to allow the Spirit to continue to work in our lives so that we would experience his transforming power and grace.  Spend some time in prayer.   

July 23, Thursday

REPOST Today’s AMI QT Devotional, provided by Jabez Yeo who formerly served at Remnant Church in Manhattan, was first posted on August 11, 2014.  Jabez is a graduate of University of Pennsylvania (BS) and Columbia International University (M.A., Muslim Studies).

Devotional Thought for This Morning

“Who Are We Trying to Please?”

Hebrews 11:1, 6

“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen…and without faith it is impossible to please Him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who seek Him.”

allec-gomes-on-feed-6vZj9izS0G0-unsplashDuring my internship on Wall Street, I remember quite vividly that my only goal at work was to do whatever it took to please my boss. As he would be the one deciding whether I would be employed or not, I would do all that I could to ensure that I not only met, but exceeded, his expectations.  While my experience is indicative of our performance-oriented culture, it is truly comforting to know that our Heavenly Father does not operate under the same guidelines. For if He did, we would all miss His standard: “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).

Rather, it is faith that is required to please God; specifically, a faith that believes in a) God’s existence, and b) His reward for those who earnestly seek Him.  Assuming that most of us reading this devotional are believers, we will most likely not struggle with believing that God exists. However, how many of us sincerely believe that God will reward those who earnestly seek Him? We may think that we do, but many of us take matters into our own hands instead of seeking God and ascribing to His ways.

Take a clear example: God’s gift of sexual intimacy. When we do not have faith that God will reward us for seeking Him in this area, we may misuse this gift in several ways, such as using it a) at the wrong time (e.g. premarital sex) b) in ways that God did not design (e.g. pornography, homosexuality, adultery, etc.) c) in unhealthy quantities (e.g. scarcity or overindulgence).

A lack of faith in God’s willingness to reward can occur for several reasons. One reason could be an unhealthy image of God that portrays Him as a Father who is unwilling to bless His children. Another reason could be an over-dependence on our own abilities to reward ourselves; forgetting that it was God who gave us those abilities in the first place. Whatever our issue may be, let’s ask that God would help us develop a faith that is truly pleasing to Him.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, I am sorry for placing matters into my own hands instead of trusting You. I believe that You are there but for some reason, I do not believe that You will give me what I need as I follow You. Help me discern the reason for my lack of faith and correct my thoughts according to Your truth. Help me to truly surrender to You and ascribe to Your ways no matter the circumstance. In Your Name I pray, Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: 1 Corinthians 16


Lunch Break Study

Read Philippians 1:6: “And I am sure of this, that He {God} who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.”

Questions to Consider

  1. What is the good work that God began in us?
  2. What are the implications of the fact that God is bringing our faith to completion?
  3. Are you allowing God to bring your faith to completion? Take some time to assess whether this is the case or not.

Notes

  1. God, not ourselves or our human reasoning, was the one who brought us to a saving knowledge of who He is. As Christ said; “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent” (John 6:29).
  2. This statement implies that our faith is not complete but still lacking in some way.  As described above, our tendency to ascribe to our own ways and thinking instead of God’s ways is one way that our faith could be lacking
  3. Personal response.

Evening Reflection

In light of today’s discussion of faith, how did you place your trust in God? Were you able to grow your faith and surrender your wants and desires to Him in your daily circumstances? Let’s continue to go to Him and as our Lord Jesus commanded, to pray for our “daily bread,” among other things.

July 22, Wednesday

REPOST Today’s AMI QT Devotional is a reprint of Kate Moon’s blog originally posted on May 9, 2014.  Kate continues to serve the Lord in E. Asia.

Devotional Thought for This Morning

“Respect”

Titus 2:1-2

“You, however, must teach what is appropriate to sound doctrine. 2 Teach the older men to be temperate, worthy of respect, self-controlled, and sound in faith, in love and in endurance.”

stephanie-harvey-i8-e3LG0Z70-unsplashWhen I think of older men I’ve come to really respect, two retired professors I’ve had the privilege of working with on-and-off over the years are among the first that come to mind.  Over 60 years old and though not believers, when I spend time with them, I often find myself thinking, “When I get to be that age, I hope I can be like that.”

There is a level of respect that one automatically grants any other person because they are a fellow human being, and then there is a respect that is something more, granted to certain people because of a quality they have.  Sometimes a person can be respected for their achievement, ability, the power they wield, or the position they hold.  But when one person respects another from the heart, it often has more to do with who that other person is; their character, the way they treat people.  When Paul instructs Titus to teach the older men to be “worthy” of respect, I think he is talking about this last kind.

I first started according these two professors this kind of respect upon discovering their unexpectedly humble and even teachable attitudes.  Though they were experts in their fields and I was almost a generation their junior, they treated me as a colleague, asking for my input and deferring as often to my suggestions as I did to theirs.  I also came to notice how, while they always pursued the highest standards of excellence, they also maintained a sense of humor and were able to take neither the work nor themselves over-seriously.  They had a sense of perspective which could be called true wisdom.

Sometimes, as we get older, younger people around us will automatically give us a level of respect, just because of our age or the greater achievements of our longer lifetimes.  While this is not a bad thing, if it were the only kind of respect people had for me, I would feel unsatisfied.  Today, let’s pursue in becoming the kind of person with the character worthy of others’ respect.

Prayer: Lord, as I grow older, help me not to take the respect of others for granted.  I do not live for their approval, but I know that if I have the respect of others that is given from the heart, somehow, I am doing something right.  Help me to be a decent human being today.  In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: 1 Corinthians 15


Lunch Break Study

Read Philippians 2:1-9:  “ Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, [2] then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. [3] Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves . . . [5] In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: [6] Who, being in very nature God . . .  [7] made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant . . .[and] humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross! [9] Therefore God exalted him to the highest place . . .”

1 John 2:6: “Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did.”

Questions to Consider

  1. What do we receive out of our being united with Christ (v. 1)?
  2. What should the consequent effect be (v. 2-3)?
  3. When Jesus humbled himself, what did God do (v. 9)?  How is this related to what our attitudes towards receiving the respect of others should be?

Notes

  1. Encouragement, comfort, sharing in the Spirit, tenderness and compassion.  We need first to meditate on what we have received from Christ, because this is our motivation for obeying all that the Spirit exhorts us to do through Paul, in the following verses.
  2. Our trying to be like Christ, having his same attitude of love for and humility before others. As we get older, this takes more intentional effort on our part, because theoretically, we become wiser and more experienced than an increasing number of people around us.
  3. When Jesus did not seek to exalt himself, God exalted him.  Trying to become people “worthy of respect” is different from trying to do things to “make” others respect us (i.e., boasting about our accomplishments, treating others as inferiors in position, etc.).

Evening Reflection

How respectful was I of others today?  Remembering and thinking about Jesus, did I try to have an attitude of humility before others?  Were there moments I had to swallow my pride?  If you were successful in these areas today, be encouraged, because God has seen it; and whether you may know it or not, you may also have won the respect of others around you who were watching you today as well.

July 21, Tuesday

REPOST Today’s AMI QT Devotional provided by Pastor Yohan Lee, a friend of AMI who in the past has served as a staff at several AMI churches, was first posted on November 11, 2014.  He is a graduate of University of Pennsylvania (BA) and Cairn University (MA).

Devotional Thought for this Morning

“Knowing Your Limits”

Prov. 5:7-8

“And now, O sons, listen to me, and do not depart from the words of my mouth. Keep your way far from her, and do not go near the door of her house,”

micheile-henderson-FkfA8dNaVoE-unsplashCall it childish machismo, but I am fond of saying, “Every boy needs to get into a fight with an older kid he cannot overcome, at least once in his life.”  Many in this reading audience are probably horrified right now, but I believe that taking a beating humbles young boys and teaches them to keep quiet (once in a while).  Over the years, I’ve expanded my defense of said statement to include, “Boys need to learn how to fight losing battles”; and “Boys need to test their limits, and you can only test your limits by losing once in a while.”  By the way, fighting losing battles (for good causes) and testing limits is not exclusive to boys.

All that being said, there are just some battles that you should not try to fight; there are some limits that need not be tested.  I love how, in this book full of overtly wise and pithy statements, we get the subtle but equally wise message to “run away!”  Although the idea of running away does not appeal to the childish machismo in me, there is nothing cowardice about running from sin and situations that cause you to sin.  The truth is that knowing your limits is a part of maturing (not just spiritual maturation); those who never learn what they can and cannot handle will repeatedly find themselves in poor situations and living in regret.

For the writer of Proverbs, sexual purity is obviously one of those areas, but it is not the only one.  For those who struggle with alcohol, going to a bar on a Friday night may be something that needs to be avoided.  The person with an addictive personality may need to stay far away from a casino.  The shopaholic may need to stay away from the mall or get rid of credit cards.  Obviously, I don’t know what you need to run away from, but I want to encourage you with a wise proverb of my own: “Better to run on your feet than to fall on your face.”

Prayer: Lord, show me areas in my life that I need to totally avoid. Help me to see that Your means of grace for me in these areas is to run, and that You are growing in me the fruit of self-control in the process.  Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: 1 Corinthians 14


Lunch Break Study

Read Gen. 39:1-23 (only 11-21 is provided below): But one day, when he went into the house to do his work and none of the men of the house was there in the house, 12 she caught him by his garment, saying, “Lie with me.” But he left his garment in her hand and fled and got out of the house. 13 And as soon as she saw that he had left his garment in her hand and had fled out of the house, 14 she called to the men of her household and said to them, “See, he has brought among us a Hebrew to laugh at us. He came in to me to lie with me, and I cried out with a loud voice. 15 And as soon as he heard that I lifted up my voice and cried out, he left his garment beside me and fled and got out of the house.” 16 Then she laid up his garment by her until his master came home, 17 and she told him the same story, saying, “The Hebrew servant, whom you have brought among us, came in to me to laugh at me. 18 But as soon as I lifted up my voice and cried, he left his garment beside me and fled out of the house.” 19 As soon as his master heard the words that his wife spoke to him, “This is the way your servant treated me,” his anger was kindled. 20 And Joseph’s master took him and put him into the prison, the place where the king’s prisoners were confined, and he was there in prison. 21 But the Lord was with Joseph and showed him steadfast love and gave him favor in the sight of the keeper of the prison.

Questions to Consider

  1. How was Joseph able to avoid from falling?
  2. How did things work out for Joseph?
  3. Look carefully at this chapter.  What is the real message of Joseph’s life?

Notes

  1. The obvious answer is that Joseph ran away from Potiphar’s wife (39:12).  But if you look at 39:8-9, Joseph was also mindful of God and feared sinning against Him, for Joseph knew that God always sees.  Likewise, we need to live with the realization that God always sees.   
  2. Outwardly, not so good: He was falsely accused and thrown in prison.  But here is the point: sometimes doing the right thing may not immediately end in good results, and we shouldn’t be surprised if this happens.
  3. Ultimately, the point of Joseph’s life story is found in 39:2 and 39:1: “The Lord was with Joseph.”  The Lord orchestrated the highs and lows of Joseph’s life, and He was with him.  God is always in charge and He does not leave his children.

Evening Reflection

Did something come up today that you needed to avoid?  Did you run?  Did you conduct yourself today as if God were watching you?  Do you know that He is with you?

Very recently, one of my pastoral friends lamented what he perceived to be an issue with younger people.  Basically, he felt that it is getting harder to lead, teach, and shepherd people because they feel like they’d rather make their own decisions and learn from their mistakes rather than listening to a leader’s advice.  This friend further commented that to many it doesn’t matter if something is wise, right, true, good, etc. as long as they make the decision.

July 20, Monday

UPDATED Today’s AMI QT Devotional, prepared by Pastor Jason Sato who is currently serving in Japan as a missionary, is an updated version of his blog first posted on December 11, 2013. Jason is a graduate of University of California, San Diego (BS) and Westminster Theological Seminary (M.Div.).

Devotional Thought for This Morning

“Our Posture During Uncertain Times”

Psalm 125:1-5

Those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion, which cannot be moved, but abides forever. 2 As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the Lord surrounds his people, from this time forth and forevermore. 3 For the scepter of wickedness shall not rest on the land allotted to the righteous, lest the righteous stretch out their hands to do wrong. 4 Do good, O Lord, to those who are good, and to those who are upright in their hearts! 5 But those who turn aside to their crooked ways the Lord will lead away with evildoers! Peace be upon Israel!

markus-spiske-AVrAu4ZyA4o-unsplashWe have known all too well that we live in a rapidly changing world where technology, culture, and even values are changing at a dizzying pace.  What none of us really knew is how invisible virus can greatly disrupt our personal lives just as swiftly: our finances, relationships, and health, to name a few.  In the midst of such uncertainty, who cannot be “moved,” that is, ready to give up on God?  But those who trust in the Lord will not be moved!

We often try to find stability in money, power, and acceptance by others, but these things are shaky ground.  Now, that is a gross understatement in view of all that has happened just in the past few months.  Entrusting ourselves to them will only lead to disappointment and even despair, day to day, hour to hour.  Only God and our faith in His goodness are a firm foundation, even if we don’t always understand what He is doing in our lives.

Why should we trust this God?  Because He is the One who is near, who is faithful, who protects His people; He is holy and just who shuns evil.

Take a moment to meditate on the One who remains constant.  Reflect on His character and His promises that remain the same even though everything else is continually changing.

Prayer: Father, You are my rock.  You alone are ever faithful, unchanging in Your power, goodness, and love.  Thank You for being my firm foundation in the midst of a world that is so unstable.  Enable me to entrust myself to You today.  May my joy, freedom, purpose, and life be firmly fixed regardless of my circumstances because of Your Son.  In Jesus’s name I pray.  Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: 1 Corinthians 13


Lunch Break Study

Read Psalm 1:1-4: Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; 2 but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. 3 He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither.

In all that he does, he prospers. 4 The wicked are not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away.

Questions to Consider

  1. What is the path to blessings?
  2. Who is like a planted tree?
  3. What are the signs of a tree planted by the streams of water?

Notes

  1. Avoiding the counsel of the wicked, the way of sinners, and the seat of scoffers.  This may include advices given by experts that may sound humanly acceptable but are antithetical to God’s truth.
  2. The one who delights in the law of the Lord and meditates on it day and night, and then puts it to practice (Matt. 7:24-7).
  3. It certainly would include bearing good fruits and not withering.  In the same way, those who dwell in Christ would be just as fruitful in their lives, bearing fruits such as love, peace, kindness, etc.  (Gal. 5:22-3).

Evening Reflection

Reflect on your day in light of the signs of a tree planted by the streams of water.  Does your life reflect these kinds of fruit?  As your read Acts 20, ask the Lord to help you to delight in His Word.

July 19, Sunday

REPOST Today’s Spiritual Food for Thought, provided by Christine Li, was first posted on August 2, 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

“Why Is Our Prayer So Weak and Ineffective?”

James 5:16b-17

“The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective. Elijah was a man just like us. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops.”

sincerely-media-uoV8VwLbCxU-unsplashWhat is prayer to you? Is it a chore? Is it fruitless whispering? James reminds us that there is great power in prayer, such great power that an ordinary man could pray earnestly to God and it would stop raining for three and a half years.

Do you consider yourself to be a man “just like” Elijah? I know that I don’t, and I also give a lot of complicated excuses for why my prayer life is not like Elijah’s: “He was a chosen prophet and what he prayed was probably more in line with what God’s will was. He probably had more faith than I do, too. Also, it sounds a little prideful to consider myself ‘righteous.’” It is very easy to look at all these reasons and attribute the inefficacy of my prayer life to these reasons. But what ends up happening is that I also dull the desire to engage God in prayer.

In making prayer about ourselves or our abilities, we fail to see that it is a powerful activity that shows us more of God and His power. First, we know that in Christ, every believer is counted as righteous in standing with God. If that is true (and as believers, we do believe it to be true), then our prayers are powerful and effective!  Second, let’s not neglect the idea that Elijah was “just like us,” and let’s really trust that Elijah’s life could seem not too far off a reality from each Christian’s life because the power that filled him is the same power that we have access to. In fact, we have more than just “access” to it: this Spirit resides in us (Romans 8:11)!

Do you think yourself unworthy to pray for your church, your pastor, or others? I hope that here, with James’ reminder, we will not only readjust our attitude towards prayer, but that we will act on it and begin to seek God in prayer even more actively. As He answers our prayers, He will show us even more of His power!

Prayer: Dear LORD, thank You not just for new life but for also making us righteous. We don’t always understand what implications it has for our life, but for now, please change our attitudes about prayer. Every day, LORD, teach us how to pray with faith, really trusting in the new nature You gave us and the free access we have to approach Your throne.  Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: 1 Corinthians 12

July 18, Saturday

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 October 18, 2013.  He is a graduate of University of Wisconsin (BA) and Biblical Theological Seminary (M.Div.).

Spiritual Food for Thought for the Weekend

“Standing Up Against a Spiritually Bully”

Romans 8:1

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

tim-mossholder-M2qpFgm0OiY-unsplashThere is a bully in the spiritual realm that works hard to bring condemnation. He is very good at using intimidation, shame, guilt, fear, or whatever else is at his disposal to beat us down. This bully knows that once we allow condemnation to come into our heart, he can influence and control our life.  Therefore, being aware of his strategy, let’s make up our mind not to allow this to happen. Especially during times of weakness, failures, and spiritual attacks, don’t let this spiritual bully have his way.

But I need to remind you that the battle against condemnation is a spiritual battle, and not fought through conventional means. That is, we cannot fight this battle with human weapons. We may think we can overcome condemnation through good works, but it is not good enough.

Good works is our calling, but it does not save us from our sin. If it cannot save us from sin, it cannot free us from condemnation. Sin has brought physical, spiritual, and eternal death, bringing into the world every disease and sickness. From the beginning of human history, sin has broken relationships. It has perverted everything that is good, and has opened the door to every demonic activity. Ultimately, sin has separated us from God, bringing condemnation to every human being on earth. And the truth is, no amount of human good works combined can make even a dent to bring freedom from condemnation.

Freedom doesn’t come through regulations but through a relationship. The focus cannot be on what we can do or what we have done. The focus is on what Christ has done for us; Jesus was condemned so that we would be free from all condemnation: Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

Prayer: In Jesus’ name, I reject condemnation and embrace the freedom in Christ Jesus. Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: 1 Corinthians 10-11

July 17, Friday

REPOST Today’s AMI QT Devotional, provided by then (2013) staff of Remnant Westside Church in Manhattan, was first posted on September 4, 2013.

Devotional Thought for This Morning

“A Highway to Where?”  Your Heart

Psalm 84:5-8

Blessed are those whose strength is in you, in whose heart are the highways to Zion. 6 As they go through the Valley of Baca they make it a place of springs; the early rain also covers it with pools. 7 They go from strength to strength; each one appears before God in Zion. 8 O Lord God of hosts, hear my prayer; give ear, O God of Jacob! Selah

max-anderson-KV59JjJOkHk-unsplashWhat does it mean for the heart to be a highway to Zion? In the Bible, Zion is synonymous with Jerusalem, the city where the temple of God rests. As the psalm focuses on the desire for the presence of God that is found in the temple, the highway imagery paints a picture of the psalmist’s heart angled and directed to meet with Him.

The writer also alludes to the pilgrimage that people make to enter Zion through the Valley of Baca. The scholars debate as to where the Valley of Baca is and its significance, but the emphasis of the text is not on the location of the valley but on the blessings the people receive as they journey through this valley, longing for the presence of God. When God’s people long for Him and go through the valley, letting God be the strength in their journey, that valley becomes a place of spring, of rain, and of pools.

The imagery of the desire for God’s presence, resulting in blessing for the land, is vivid in this text. What this shows is that our desire and pursuit to host God not only brings individual or personal blessing, but the blessings will spill over to those around us. Our prayers of desiring to host God will even impact our classmates, co-workers, friends, or family. When we fully desire to “appear before God,” God will send His rain into that valley.  Today, direct your prayers solely focused on an encounter with God.

Prayer: Lord, help me to be Your sanctuary in which Your presence is abundantly clear to those around me.  Fill me with the Holy Spirit so that I can commit myself to a life of holiness, for without it “no one will see the Lord” (Heb. 12:14) in me. Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: 1 Corinthians 9


Lunch Break Study

Read Philippians* 1:6-8: “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. It is right for me to feel this way about you all, because I hold you in my heart, for you are all partakers with me of grace, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel. For God is my witness, how I yearn for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus.”

*Paul first came to Philippi in AD 50 as part of the Macedonian call (Acts 16:6ff).

Questions to Consider

  1. Do you wrestle with the question, “Am I really a Christian?” How does verse 6 encourage you as you try to honestly answer the question?
  2. What’s one danger of the belief that once saved, always saved?
  3. How should the knowledge of God’s sovereignty affect us?
  4. Are there people you “hold in your heart” that genuinely bring you joy when you think of them? How can you encourage them? How can you pray for them?

Notes

  1. Verse 6 highlights the theological concept of the “Perseverance of the Saints.” This is just a fancy term stating that once a person is born again (i.e., regenerated), they will continue to live out the Christian life until the Lord brings them into heaven. Sometimes, this is referenced as “once saved, always saved.”
  2. This doesn’t mean that all who have ever professed to be Christians will be saved no matter how they live their lives. This is to say, “by their fruit you will recognize them” (Matt. 7:20).  No matter what some people may profess, for “even demons believe that . . . there is one God and shudder” (Jam. 2:19), only the truly regenerate believers will persevere in their walk with God, who sustains them, while those who are not saved, despite their alleged profession of faith, will not endure in their “walk” with God.
  3. The knowledge of God’s sovereignty should lead us to deeper love and devotion to the One who is sovereign.
  4. Personal response

Evening Reflection

“The righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe” (Rom. 3:22).

Jesus, I thank you that through Your triumphant sacrifice, I can enter the Most Holy Place in heaven and receive strength to overcome worldliness, fleshly desires, and self-will. I declare Your righteousness in my mind and heart, for it is in and through You that I now live.                                                                                                                           

Take time to ask God, “In what ways have I been seeking my own way?”  God wants to bring forth renewal in these areas.  Repent and decree God’s righteousness over an area in which you are presently struggling in, and thank Him.