August 30, Sunday

UPDATED Today’s Spiritual Food for Thought is an updated version of AMI QT Devotional first posted on August 30, 2013.

Spiritual Food for Thought for the Weekend

“The Significance of the Baptism of Jesus”

Luke 3:21-22

Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heavens were opened, 22 and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form, like a dove; and a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”

natalia-rudisuli-8u44iVUvdno-unsplashPeter, astounded that his master Jesus was about to wash his dirty feet, said to him, “No, you shall never wash my feet” (Jn. 13:8a).  John the Baptist reacted similarly when Jesus came to be baptized by him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” (Matt. 3:14).  John responded that way because he understood the implications of what Jesus was allowing to happen, saying, “Let it be so now.”

First, John knew that it was he who needed to be baptized by Jesus who had a greater baptism to offer.  This is to say, while John was sent to baptize with water, Jesus came to “baptize with the Holy Spirit” (John 1:33b).

Second, John knew that only sinners need to be baptized as a sign of repentance. Thus, “People went out to him from Jerusalem and all Judea and the whole region of the Jordan. Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River” (Matt. 3:5-6).  But Jesus Christ the Son of God was sinless.  Yet from the very beginning of Jesus’ ministry, he identified himself with sinners, after which he demonstrated that he is truly the Son of Son by way to fasting for 40 days in the wilderness and then thwarting the temptations of the devil.

Who would do that for us except our God who “demonstrate[d] his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8). Take a moment to thank Jesus for identifying with us so that He could take the burden of our sins upon Himself.

Prayer: Dear Jesus, I really did not see the significance of your baptism until today.  That is really awesome and also humbling.  You absolutely love us!  Help me to constantly live in gratitude of your sacrifice for me.  Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: 1 Chronicles 24

August 29, Saturday

REPOST Today’s Spiritual Food for Thought, written by Pastor Young Kim of Grace Covenant Church in Philadelphia, was originally posted on June 8/9, 2013.  Young is a graduate of University of Illinois (BS), Biblical Theological Seminary (M.Div.) and Westminster Theological Seminary (MA).

Spiritual Food for Thought for the Weekend

“The Wisdom of God for Our Life”

Proverbs 8:17, 35, 36

“I love those who love me, and those who seek me find me. For whoever finds me finds life and receives favor from the Lord. But whoever fails to find me harms himself; all who hate me love death.”

sincerely-media-c1YrcFYW66s-unsplashHunger and desire Biblical wisdom.  Seek wisdom throughout the day.  Wisdom can be sought after and found. The world believes that comfort and success are the most important things in life.  But the proverbs writer declares that he who finds wisdom finds life. Don’t do what you feel like doing. Don’t seek selfish ambition. Don’t seek worldly pleasures.  Seek God’s wisdom and you will have true life!

Proverbs 9:8, 9

“Do not rebuke a mocker or he will hate you; rebuke a wise man and he will love you. Instruct a wise man and he will be wiser still; teach a righteous man and he will add to his learning.”

Are you a mocker or a wise man?  Can you handle correction?  Do you ask for correction?  I want to be wise in the Lord and so I try to surround myself with people who can speak into my life. I am thankful to God for AMI because it is a place that helps me to be corrected and challenged.  Pray that you will be a person who “will add to his learning.”

Proverbs 9:17-18

“Stolen water is sweet; food eaten in secret is delicious!”18 But little do they know that the dead are there, that her guests are deep in the realm of the dead.

Secrets have a way of trapping us into the dungeon of sin.  The enemy wants us to keep secret sins and hide things.  When we hide things we cannot get the help of the Biblical community. What are you holding unto that you need to confess? Pray about sharing with someone who can give you wise guidance.  Remember these passages as you pray and ask God to bring the secrets into light.

1 Corinthians 10:13: No temptation[a] has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted[b] beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.

1 John 1:9: If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

Prayer: Jesus you are wisdom.  Jesus let me seek you today in Your Word. Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: 1 Chronicles 22-23

August 28, Friday

NEW Today’s AMI QT Devotional is written by “NP”, a local staff serving at an AMI church in E. Asia.  A recent graduate of Columbia International University (M.Div.), he was just licensed by AMI. Congratulations!

Devotional Thought for This Morning

“A Little Yeast Works Through the Whole Batch of Dough”

Judges 1:27-35

But Manasseh did not drive out the people of Beth Shan or Taanach or Dor or Ibleam or Megiddo and their surrounding settlements, for the Canaanites were determined to live in that land.28When Israel became strong, they pressed the Canaanites into forced labor but never drove them out completely.29Nor did Ephraim drive out the Canaanites living in Gezer, but the Canaanites continued to live there among them.30Neither did Zebulun drive out the Canaanites living in Kitron or Nahalol, who remained among them; but they did subject them to forced labor.31Nor did Asher drive out those living in Acco or Sidon or Ahlab or Aczib or Helbah or Aphek or Rehob,32and because of this the people of Asher lived among the Canaanite inhabitants of the land.33Neither did Naphtali drive out those living in Beth Shemesh or Beth Anath; but the Naphtalites too lived among the Canaanite inhabitants of the land, and those living in Beth Shemesh and Beth Anath became forced laborers for them.34The Amorites confined the Danites to the hill country, not allowing them to come down into the plain.35And the Amorites were determined also to hold out in Mount Heres, Aijalon and Shaalbim, but when the power of the house of Joseph increased, they too were pressed into forced labor.

jason-leung-ZQ5YP_rdZ74-unsplashRecently, my mother was cheated out of some money. She signed up for a tour group, which was very cheap and provided good hotel accommodations and food. In the process of traveling, the guide took her to a shopping mall which sold some luxury goods at a discounted price, so she quickly bought the luxury goods. However, when she got home, she found out that she bought fake goods. When I heard my mother complain to me, I realized how easy it was for us to be deceived when we relax our awareness.

Before the Israelites entered the land of Canaan, God clearly told them to kill all the Canaanites. The message behind this command is this: “You will be easily seduced. If you live with the Canaanites, you will soon be lured away by foreign idols.” Yet it is recorded in this passage that the Israelites did not drive out the Canaanite natives, not because they were too powerful, but because the Israelites felt it was more “convenient” to keep them. We see that the Canaanites who were left behind became slaves of the Israelites. Maybe these Israelites thought, why drive them out? It’s better to keep them so we can enjoy their servitude.

But we know that with the death of Joshua’s generation, the Israelites began to be influenced by the Canaanites, leading them to deviate from the Lord. As a result, this led to the whole nation of Israel to become slaves. How ironic it was that these Israelites felt that they had enslaved the Canaanites, but they themselves were enslaved by the Canaanites.

So how far are we from being enslaved by sin? Do we sometimes feel that we are smarter than God, feeling like God puts too many restrictions upon us? Why should we drive these “Canaanites” away? And why do we have to be restricted in our behavior? Can’t we be more tactful? Why can’t Christians do this or that? Isn’t it the case in the world? Should we make good use of something “convenient”? Or does it leave us in the lurch? These are the problems that we need to think about, and we need to take them seriously.

Let’s spend some time in prayer today, asking God to give us a humble and obedient heart and wisdom to let us know how to behave.

Prayer: Dear heavenly Father, help me keep a humble heart in front of you, and let me understand Your mind. I know that Your intention is to bless me, not to restrain me. I thank You for giving me the wisdom to know how to act in front of You so that my life can be full of your blessing. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen!

Bible Reading for Today: 1 Chronicles 21


Lunch Break Study 

Read 1 Corinthians 5:1-8: 1It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that does not occur even among pagans: A man has his father’s wife.2And you are proud! Shouldn’t you rather have been filled with grief and have put out of your fellowship the man who did this?3Even though I am not physically present, I am with you in spirit. And I have already passed judgment on the one who did this, just as if I were present.4 When you are assembled in the name of our Lord Jesus and I am with you in spirit, and the power of our Lord Jesus is present,5hand this man over to Satan, so that the sinful nature may be destroyed and his spirit saved on the day of the Lord.6Your boasting is not good. Don’t you know that a little yeast works through the whole batch of dough?7Get rid of the old yeast that you may be a new batch without yeast–as you really are. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed.8Therefore let us keep the Festival, not with the old yeast, the yeast of malice and wickedness, but with bread without yeast, the bread of sincerity and truth.

Questions to Consider 

  1. What happened in the Corinthian church? What is Paul’s advice on this matter?
  2. Why does Paul suggest that? What is the meaning of the analogy between yeast and dough?
  3. Paul called us to get rid of the old yeast and become a new batch. Is there anything in your life that needs to be removed to make you a new batch? Take some time to think and pray.

Notes

  1. There was a person in the church who had intimate relations with his stepmother, and Paul suggested that such a person should be expelled from the church.
  2. Paul is saying that when sin is not dealt with in the church, it will start to affect the whole church, just as yeast makes itself through the dough.
  3. Personal response.

Evening Reflection

Sometimes we overestimate our own ability, thinking that doing something once or twice will not affect us, and that we will not cross the boundary. God reminds us not to underestimate the influence of sin, but to humble ourselves in front of God, to examine our hearts, so that we can have a pure and flawless heart in God’s sight.

August 27, Thursday

NEW Today’s AMI QT Devotional is provided by Emerson Lin.  Emerson and his wife Annie (and their son) are serving as AMI missionaries in E. Asia.  A graduate of University of California, San Diego, he will soon finish his M.Div. program at Bethel Seminary in San Diego.

Devotional Thought for This Morning

“Proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes”

1 Corinthians 11:23-26

For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body, which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” 25 In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” 26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.

tom-crew-S2WN_iXhAEQ-unsplashThe COVID-19 pandemic has been a difficult period of time for Providence Church. While no one became sick, it was difficult for many people because they were not able to go home to see family or go out to make friends. Many people were completely isolated at home with no physical support system.

Switching to online service was also difficult for many members because many of them enjoyed fellowship at church. Our members went from worshipping with a crowd to worshipping by themselves in front of a computer. Many people complained about the lack of feeling and we could not wait for the pandemic to pass.

However, despite our complaining, God worked mightily in his environment. Because our services were online, people started to ask if they could invite their family members, who lived in other provinces, to attend the online service. For many of these people, it was their first time hearing the gospel and attending church. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, three people were saved through our online services, and we were able to baptize 10 people post-pandemic. As John 5:17 says, “…”My Father is always at his work to this very day…”

In yesterday’s quiet time, we learned that communion is not single-dimensioned, but it is a multi-dimensioned sacrament that reminds us of the death of our lord, the hope that is to come, and the need for reconciliation with our brothers and sisters. In continuation with the same theme, I would like to focus on the outward dimension.

In verse 26, Paul says, “For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.” According to Webster’s Dictionary, “proclaim” means to announce officially or publicly. Taking of the bread and the cup is an outward proclamation to the world that we are joining in God’s work. What work are we joining?

Philippians 2:6-8 reminds us, “Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross!”

Since beginning His ministry at age 30 to His death on the cross, Jesus constantly sacrificed himself for the needs of others. He boldly proclaimed the good news of the Kingdom. He healed the sick, loved sinners and tax collectors, and cast out demons. As a follower of Jesus, we are proclaiming that reality in our own lives. We are called by God to sacrifice ourselves for the needs of others just like Jesus on the cross.

Therefore, when we take communion, we are reminded to proclaim the gospel, through word and action, to our non-believing family members, coworkers, friends, employees, classmates, neighbors, and strangers.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank You for showing us a life of sacrifice in the Gospels. You showed us how to love those who are different than us, and You performed Your ultimate act of sacrifice on the cross. May we be reminded daily, as followers of Jesus, to live out the same sacrificial life. In Your name I pray. Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: 1 Chronicles 20


Lunch Break Study

Read Matthew 5:43-48: “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? 48 You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

Questions to Consider

  1. What does he call us to do for those we consider our enemies?
  2. Why does he call us to do that? (v. 44-45)
  3. Self-Reflection: Who is your enemy?

Notes

  1. Jesus says to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us.
  2. We do this because, just like us, they are God’s beloved creation made in His image.
  3. Your enemy may be someone who has hurt you, who disagrees with your politically, or who is different from you. Take time to invite the Holy Spirit to bring to mind someone who you may consider your enemy and pray for them.

Evening Reflection

In light of today’s devotion, take a moment to pray for someone who does not know Jesus. Afterwards, think of some way to begin cultivating a relationship with them.

August 26, Wednesday

NEW Today’s AMI QT Devotional is provided by Emerson Lin.  Emerson and his wife Annie (and their son) are serving as AMI missionaries in E. Asia.  A graduate of University of California, San Diego, he will soon finish his M.Div. program at Bethel Seminary in San Diego.

Devotional Thought for This Morning

“Reconciliation”

1 Corinthians 11:27-32

Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty concerning the body and blood of the Lord. 28 Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. 29 For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself. 30 That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died. 31 But if we judged ourselves truly, we would not be judged. 32 But when we are judged by the Lord, we are disciplined so that we may not be condemned along with the world.

james-coleman-50p5AYPNxY8-unsplashIn this passage, Paul reminds the Corinthian church several dimensions to communion. He begins by recalling the words of Christ who, after breaking the bread, said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.” This signifies the fact that Jesus died on the cross in our place, so that we do not have to bear God’s punishment. The apostle follows that up with a dimension of hope by recalling the rest of Jesus’ words: “For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.” As Christians, we do not only remember his death, but also anticipate his return when he will restore all things new.

The dimension I want to focus on today is the dimension of community reconciliation. “For those who eat and drink without discerning the body of Christ eat and drink judgment on themselves.” While some may interpret this passage as focusing on the holiness of this meal, many scholars believe that Paul had in mind disunity within the church.

In Roman culture, your status determined where you ate your meal in the house. Those of high status ate in an area called the triclinium, where the choice foods and wine were saved for them. Those of poor status ate in an area called the atrium, where they were served the leftovers. This food culture brought division into the church, and it infuriated Paul. As such, Paul warned the church that they must examine themselves in this area of community reconciliation.

Like the Corinthians, while we may not struggle with status related to food, we do struggle with division. This disunity may manifest in the form of refusing to forgive someone who has wronged you, or refusing to repent for hurting someone, or not willing to help those in need.  All these forms of division within the church we must restore before taking the bread and the cup.

Jesus laid down his life so that we can be reconciled with God. In the same way, for Paul, communion is a visceral reminder that we are to extend the same type of grace to those around us.

A few weeks ago, during communion, Providence church experienced a powerful work of the Holy Spirit in the form of reconciliation. There was a relationship conflict between a couple and a sister. A brother used to date sister A, but soon after they broke up, he started to date sister B. This created a division within the church that led to slander, gossip, anger, and tribalism. People within the church were choosing sides without knowing the full story. This conflict lasted for a year and it was a sensitive topic within the church.

During the communion service, the Holy Spirit started to convict sister A about forgiveness and blessing. She ignored it, but the speaker kept emphasizing “discerning the body of Christ”. She knew it was the Holy Spirit, but she felt awkward approaching the couple during service. During the time of examining oneself, another sister “randomly” asked sister B if she would want to reconcile with the couple. She knew she had to do it, so during communion she invited the couple to the back of the room and blessed their relationship. Afterwards, she said, “I felt a huge burden lifted from my shoulder, and I felt free.”

This act of reconciliation and forgiveness did not only begin to heal the relationship of the people involved, it also began the process of healing the whole church.

This morning, invite the Holy Spirit to bring to mind anyone whom you need forgive or from whom you need to be forgiven. It is not something you need to wait until your next communion service. It can happen now! Through this passage, we are reminded that Jesus, through His death and resurrection, reconciled us with the Father. Therefore, we must extend that same grace to our brothers and sisters.

Prayer: Dear Lord, thank you for your work of reconciliation on the cross. You knew that this was the only way that we could have our relationship with God restored. Through Matthew 26:39, we see that it was not easy, but you willingly laid down your life for us. “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.” Like Jesus, help us do the same for our brothers and sisters. In your name I pray, Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: 1 Chronicles 19


Lunch Break Study

Read Matthew 5:21-24: “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ 22 But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell. 23 “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, 24 leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.

Questions to Consider

  1. What violates the spirit of God’s law against anger? (v. 21-22)
  2. What does Jesus emphasize over sacrifice? (v. 23-24)
  3. Is there someone that you need to reconcile with at home, work, or church? Take a moment to ask the Holy Spirit to bring someone to mind.

Notes

  1. In the 1st century Israel, rabbis often categorized the physical act of harming someone as a violation against God’s law. However, Jesus reveals that “anyone who is angry with a brother or sister” has already violated the spirit of God’s law against anger.
  2. Jesus prioritizes forgiveness and reconciliation over sacrifice. This was not a small task because some Israelites would travel great distances to offer sacrifices in Jerusalem. Reconciliation required effort and time.
  3. Please reflect.

Evening Reflection


Romans 5:10 says, “For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!”

In light of today’s devotion, let’s wind down our day with praise and adoration. Through Jesus’ death and resurrection, we have been reconciled with our Father.

August 25, Tuesday

UPDATED Today’s AMI QT Devotional, provided by then (2013) staff of Remnant Westside Church in Manhattan, was first posted on September 3, 2013.  It has been updated.

Devotional Thought for This Morning

“What We Really Desire”

Psalm 84:1-4

How lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord of hosts! 2 My soul longs, yes, faints for the courts of the Lord; my heart and flesh sing for joy to the living God. 3 Even the sparrow finds a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, at your altars, O Lord of hosts, my King and my God. 4 Blessed are those who dwell in your house, ever singing your praise! Selah

carolyn-v-J0PKhyNBD3M-unsplashDuring the pandemic, as we have spent much of our time at home to socially distance ourselves from others, what have you been doing (besides having to stare at a computer screen all day)? What have you been clamoring or desiring?  Can you honestly say that you have drawn yourself closer to the Lord (James 4:8)?

In this Psalm, the writer expresses his overwhelming emotions concerning the temple and his desire to be in God’s presence. This intense yearning permeates his whole being: mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical, which leads to worship. The Psalmist knows that the best place to be—the most blessed place—is in the presence of God.  In the Old Testament times, this meant a pilgrimage to the temple in Jerusalem, but in light of Christ’s work on the cross, we are now the temple of God, where the Holy Spirit dwells in us.  Every day and every moment is an opportunity to be in God’s presence, and we are invited to freely enter into His presence.

The Psalmist declares that the presence of God is the most blessed place to be and we should yearn for that, yet we find ourselves time and time again distracted or falling into temptation. This Psalm is an invitation and encouragement to desire the blessing of being in the presence of God.

What are you yearning for this day? Are there any other desires that overpower that desire for more of God? This morning, God is asking us to lay down our desires for the lesser things and grow in our desire for His presence. He is asking us to remember that His presence far outshines everything else.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, help me to hunger and thirst for You.  Lord, give me the strength and urgency to reprioritize my life so that seeking You becomes the first thing in my life.  Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: 1 Chronicles 18


Lunch Break Study

Read Philippians 1:3-5: “I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now.”

Questions to Consider

  1. Do you know where Paul was when he penned his letter to the church in Philippi?
  2. Based on this passage, how would you characterize Paul’s relationship with the Philippian believers?
  3. The word partnership is the Greek word koinonia, which is more commonly translated as fellowship. How does Paul’s use of koinonia affect your perspective on what Christian fellowship should be? How is God convicting you regarding the manner in which you fellowship with other Christians?

Notes

  1. In addition to the book of Philippians, the apostle Paul also wrote Ephesians, Colossians and Philemon while on house arrest in Rome (59-61AD).
  2. Remember that the apostle Paul is writing a personal letter to the people of Philippi, showing his love and affection for the people and the church; he’s downright gushing!
  3. Personal response.

Evening Reflection

“Whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked”            (1 John 2:6).

Dear God, what part of my life do You need to address?  If I claim to live in You, how do I need to change so that I would walk as Jesus did?  When You say that everyone who has this hope in You purifies himself, what do I need to change in order share in your holiness?

August 24, Monday

NEW Today’s AMI QT Devotional is written by “NP”, a local staff serving at an AMI church in E. Asia.  A recent graduate of Columbia International University (M.Div.), he was just licensed by AMI. Congratulations.

Devotional Thought for This Morning

“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise…”

1 Corinthians 1:18-25

For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written: “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.” 20 Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21 For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. 22 Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, 23 but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, 24 but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength.

charles-deluvio-5p8atF3oyzA-unsplashIf you have ever tried to share the gospel, you must have experienced some degree of inner struggle. While you certainly feel excited to share the gospel with your family and friends, you start to get a little nervous, wondering if you will be mocked for your faith. If you think about it, it is a bit ridiculous to share with others the story of a man who was crucified more than 2,000 years ago and that he can redeem you.

Like many of us, Paul understood the “foolishness” of the cross, for he says, “But we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles.” This suggests that Paul also experienced the same mockery when he shared the gospel with the Gentiles (a.k.a., Greeks).

Since the Greeks were famous for their philosophy, it is no surprise that Athens was full of people who “spent their time doing nothing but talking about and listening to the latest ideas” (Acts 17:21). Imagine how they would have laughed at Paul when they heard the gospel.  In fact, that is exactly what happened when Paul visited that city for the first time.  In reference to the apostle, they said, “What is the babbler trying to say” (Acts 17:18).

But, as Paul shares in today’s passage, the truth of the cross is to shame those who think they are wise. Today’s world is full of all kinds of wisdom: the secret to happiness, the secret to success, the secret to happy marriage and so on. This is to say, in today’s world we are not short of worldly wisdom.

Even in the church, there are all kinds of wisdom shared in Sunday schools, marriage counseling, and discipleship training.  It is, therefore, important that all this wisdom or knowledge has the same foundation—the cross. The truth of the cross appears foolish to this world, which means that it seems unreasonable to believe in and rely on the cross. Therefore, we need to be completely humble and realize our own weaknesses in order to embrace the truth of the cross.

The premise of worldly wisdom is that we are good but misinformed or not informed at all; the truth of the cross is to let us know that we are totally corrupt. The wisdom of the world provides methods, while the truth of the cross provides a Savior. We cannot be saved by human methods or wisdom. We need to rely on the Savior.

Let us spend some time today praying and thinking about the cross, as Paul said, “For the truth of the cross is foolishness to those who perish. But to us who are saved is the power of God.”

Prayer: Dear Savior, we thank you for letting us know the truth of the cross. Although it seems foolish, the cross is full of God’s wisdom. Please help us learn to rely on our Savior, not a method. In the name of Jesus Christ, we pray, Amen!

Bible Reading for Today: 1 Chronicles 17


Lunch Break Study 

Read Romans 16:25-27: Now to him who is able to establish you by my gospel and the proclamation of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery hidden for long ages past, 26 but now revealed and made known through the prophetic writings by the command of the eternal God, so that all nations might believe and obey him—27 to the only wise God be glory forever through Jesus Christ! Amen.

Questions to Consider 

  1. The passage above is found at the very end of Romans.  Accordingly, who is able to establish us and through what?
  2. Through what means has “the mystery hidden for long ages past” been revealed? What is its purpose?
  3. Can the gospel establish you in any and every situation? What will help us to be established?

Notes

  1. Only God alone can establish us, and He establish us through the gospel and the proclamation of Jesus Christ.
  2. Through the prophetic writings, “the mystery hidden for long ages past” is revealed so that all nations might believe and obey him. And the gospel has this power because it is the mystery that is revealed.
  3. Meditation and prayer.  Take some time to meditate and pray for God to establish you through the gospel.

Evening Reflection

The gospel contains great mysteries that the world cannot understand. We have the privilege of allowing the power of the gospel to govern every aspect of our lives, so that God’s Gospel can be revealed through us. We have to rely on Jesus to wait for his timing, to endure while undergoing adversity, and to trust in his faithfulness. We can do this through deeper experience of the power of the gospel! Mediate on that before going to bed tonight.

August 23, Sunday

UPDATED Today’s AMI QT Devotional, provided by Pastor Ryun Chang (AMI Teaching Pastor), was first posted on March 31, 2013.

Spiritual Food for Thought for the Weekend

“Visiting Those in Prison”

Hebrews 13:2

“Remember those in prison as if you were their fellow prisoners.”

chad-tetzlaff-qs9g0Cz9oZU-unsplashIn the late 1980s, my wife and I used to visit a local prison every Monday to lead a Bible study (with Korean snacks).  Once, a perplexed prisoner, after receiving Korean gimbap (Korean sushi) for snacks, asked, “Do I remove the seed weed before eating this?”  I don’t remember how we started visiting this prison, but I would guess that it was because Jesus lauded those who visited him when he was in prison.  Surprised, they asked, “When did we see you . . . in prison and go to visit you,” after which Jesus answered, “Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me” (Mat. 25:39).

In the mid-1990s, our church regularly visited Fred C. Nelles Youth Correctional Facility in Whittier, California, a prisoner for young criminals. During one visit, I explained to a prisoner involved in the chaplain’s ministry the difficulty of encouraging our congregation, who knew nothing about the prison life, to participate in this ministry. Obligingly, he wrote in a letter:

“Hello, my brothers and sisters, I’m writing to let you know that we would like to meet you so that we can exchange prayers and fellowship in the Lord.  The brothers whom you meet are all living soldiers of God who are trying to spread the love of God in this DARK AND LONELY institution.  I was very encouraged and inspired the last time you guys came: a nice, delicious dinner, group prayer, the drama group, and an important message from your pastor. You guys make me smile when you are here. I may be down that Sunday and your church just picks me up along with the strength of the Lord.  While you are here there is no need to worry about your safety because you will be around brothers who have a serious love for God and by no means will have any type of negativity towards you. We are all in Christ and we love you in the Lord.  We’d love to hear from you.”

In the mid to late 2000s, I had an opportunity to teach and preach regularly at a Mexican prison and I must say that they were the most captive audience (no pun intended) I have ever had.  And I will never forget one funny episode involving a prisoner named Javier.  On one Sunday, as we were about to enter the prison facility, Javier, who had just been released after serving 12 years, greeted us.  Wanting to worship with us, Javier wanted to reenter the prison but, of course, the prison guards would not allow that.

So pray about being involved in mercy ministries such as visiting prisoners, sick and lonely people that you might know or even the hospice and convalescence homes.  During this COVID season, finding people in need shouldn’t be too hard.  Remember the words of Jesus in Matthew 25:36: “I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.”  It not only benefits them but it will keep our hearts close to the Lord.

Prayer:  Heavenly Father, help me to be the person You can use to help people in need.  Help me to remember those in prison and figure out ways to help them to be restored back to society and to You.  Remind me to live no longer for myself.  In Jesus’ name, amen.

Bible Reading for Today: 1 Chronicles 16

August 22, Saturday

REPOST Today’s Spiritual Food for Thought, written by Pastor Young Kim of Grace Covenant Church in Philadelphia, was originally posted on June 6/7, 2013.  Young is a graduate of University of Illinois (BS), Biblical Theological Seminary (M.Div.) and Westminster Theological Seminary (MA).

Spiritual Food for Thought for the Weekend

“The Wisdom from God for Our Daily Lives”

Proverbs 6:24-27

“Keeping you from the immoral woman, from the smooth tongue of the wayward wife. Do not lust in your heart after her beauty or let her captivate you with her eyes, for the prostitute reduces you to a loaf of bread, and the adulteress preys upon your very life. Can a man scoop fire into his lap without his clothes being burned?”

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There are too many great verses in Proverbs 6.  I love the example about the ants.  But I did notice that there is much warning about immoral sexual activities. Stay away from it! It will destroy you. You will get burned. You don’t want to be reduced to a loaf of bread.

Proverbs 6:6-11

“Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise! 7 It has no commander, no overseer or ruler, 8 yet it stores its provisions in summer and gathers its food at harvest. 9 How long will you lie there, you sluggard? When will you get up from your sleep? 10 A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest—11 and poverty will come on you like a thief and scarcity like an armed man.”

Is there an area in your life that you are being lazy about?  What is it? Bring it before the Lord. Ask God for strength to get it done.  Remember God did not give us a spirit of timidity but of love, power and self-discipline.  Laziness can destroy your relationship with Jesus. Ask God for His love, His power, and His spirit of self-discipline.

Proverbs 7:21-23, 27

“With persuasive words she led him astray; she seduced him with her smooth talk. All at once he followed her like an ox going to the slaughter, like a deer stepping into a noose till an arrow pierces his liver, like a bird darting into a snare, little knowing it will cost him his life. Her house is a highway to the grave, leading down to the chambers of death.”

Sex was God’s idea. He intended it as a gift to be used inside marriage. It was to be a beautiful act of love shared between husband and wife.  But the enemy has hijacked this gift of sex and uses it to tempt us. It is one of the biggest battles of our times. Please read this chapter and gain wisdom in this area!!!

Prayer: Jesus I want to keep my eyes on you.  Jesus, fill me with your love so my heart will not have room for lust.  Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: 1 Chronicles 14-15

August 21, Friday

Today’s AMI QT Devotional, provided by Pastor Shan Gian who is the Fenway Site pastor at Symphony Church in Boston, was originally posted on September 26, 2014.  Shan is a graduate of University of Pennsylvania (BA) and Gordon Conwell Seminary (M.Div.).

Devotional Thought for This Morning

“No More Putting My Foot in My Mouth”

Ecclesiastes 10:8-11 (ESV)

Words from a wise man’s mouth are gracious, but a fool is consumed by his own lips. 13 At the beginning his words are folly; at the end they are wicked madness–14 and the fool multiplies words. No one knows what is coming– who can tell him what will happen after him.

ap-x-90-bmM_IdLd1SA-unsplashWhen I was in college, I knew one brave sister who decided to give up sarcasm for Lent.  I thought that this was a great idea, so I considered giving it a shot myself.  But as I thought more about it, I realized how impossible this would be.  To endeavor for 40+ days not to mock nor make any witty disparaging comments to anyone was too great a task for me, so I concluded that it would be easier not to speak for 40 days (but I didn’t do either one).

Solomon would likely have called someone like me a “fool,” but I don’t think I’m the only one, for James 3:8 says, “No human being can tame the tongue.”  Maybe you don’t have a problem with sarcasm, but we all have said things that we regret; words that have offended or stumbled others.  And what do we typically do when we’ve said something that we know we shouldn’t have said?  We “multiply our words” and try to justify ourselves, digging our graves a little deeper.  We are all fools when it comes to controlling our words.   

James tells us, “Be quick to listen, slow to speak” (James 1:19).  This is a path to wisdom.  The wise person listens first, learning and understanding what others are saying; and slow to speak, meaning they take time to process their thoughts and speak well.  Also, he doesn’t speak with many words but with a few thoughtful words.  Solomon tells us, “Words from a wise man’s mouth are gracious” (v. 12). While we will all struggle with the foolishness of our words, let us strive to be like the wise man and speak words of grace.

Prayer: Father, may the words of our mouths and the meditations of our hearts will be pleasing to You.  We pray that You will set us free from the folly of our own lips.   Give us the wisdom to speak words of grace and love towards others.  In Jesus’ name, amen.

Bible Reading for Today: 1 Chronicles 13


Lunch Break Study 

Read Philippians 2:14-16: Do all things without grumbling or disputing, 15 that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, 16 holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain.

Questions to Consider

  1. What is it about grumbling or disputing that prevents us from being blameless and innocent?
  2. Why do we shine as lights in the world when we refrain from grumbling?
  3. How can you use your words to shine like lights in a dark world this day?

Notes

  1. Grumbling or complaining ultimately reveals a heart of discontentment towards God and his rule over our lives.  It’s a declaration that we know better than God, and that is, of course, a sin of pride.
  2. If we “do all things without grumbling or disputing,” then we would shine brightly in the world since most people are constantly grumbling and complaining, dissatisfied with everything. (Just browse through some reviews on Yelp to see how dissatisfied and entitled people feel.)  But if we as Christians can refrain from a heart and mouth of grumbling, we will stand out as people of joy, content with what we have and who we are in Jesus Christ.
  3. Consider how you can encourage someone today with your words.

Evening Reflection

Think about how you used your words today.  Were you encouraging people with words of grace?  Or did words of grumbling and complaining come from you?  Take some time to reflect on your words and what it shows about your heart and relationship with God.  Pray for wisdom and joy to overflow to the words you speak.