January 7, Tuesday

Today’s AMI QT blog, written by Pastor Mark Chun of Radiance Christian Church in S.F., was originally posted on March 12, 2013.

 

Devotional Thought for This Morning

“What the Raiders of the Lost Ark Forgot to their Detriment”

Psalms 24:7-10

Lift up your heads, O gates! And be lifted up, O ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in. 8 Who is this King of glory? The Lord, strong and mighty, the Lord, mighty in battle!  9 Lift up your heads, O gates! And lift them up, O ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in.  10 Who is this King of glory? The Lord of hosts, He is the King of glory! Selah 

In ancient Israel, the Ark of the Covenant represented the glory of God and was taken with the army into battle.  After each victory, the ark was brought back to Jerusalem with great celebration and a triumphant procession.  

This psalm describes the entrance of the ark into the city as it made its way back to the sacred place in the temple.  More than just being a symbolic relic, the ark represented a real manifestation of God’s presence and power. This is why the treasure hunters in the old movie, Raiders of the Lost Ark, died as they tried to open the long lost ark.  They didn’t take into account that this was no ordinary artifact but that the actual glory of God rested within. 

For the nation of Israel, the ark was meant to serve as a constant reminder that God is their ultimate king who goes before them in battle and whose presence is the source of their strength.  Today, the same principle applies to us. We can only achieve victory in our lives as we depend on the presence of God to go before us.  

How are you depending on the presence of God in your daily life?  Are you living in the power of God? Meditate on the God’s glory.    

Prayer: Lord, we confess that we don’t always seek Your presence in our lives. We often depend upon our own strength and wisdom instead of seeking your power.  We want to be desperate for Your presence in all that we do and learn how to celebrate and honor You in both our private and corporate times of worship.  May You show us Your glory and bring about times of refreshing and revival.  

Bible Reading for Today: John 8 (Luke 21)


Lunch Break Study

Read 1 Samuel 4:19-22 (ESV): Now his daughter-in-law, the wife of Phinehas, was pregnant, about to give birth. And when she heard the news that the ark of God was captured, and that her father-in-law and her husband were dead, she bowed and gave birth, for her pains came upon her. 20 And about the time of her death the women attending her said to her, “Do not be afraid, for you have borne a son.” But she did not answer or pay attention. 21 And she named the child Ichabod, saying, “The glory has departed[b] from Israel!” because the ark of God had been captured and because of her father-in-law and her husband. 22 And she said, “The glory has departed from Israel, for the ark of God has been captured.”

Questions to Consider

  1. Who spoke these words and why?  (1 Samuel 4:19)
  2. Why was the ark of God captured?  (1 Samuel 2:22)
  3. Is it possible for the New Testament believer to lose the presence of God?  

Note

  1. The prophet Eli’s daughter-in-law spoke these words as she heard news that the ark of God had been captured by the Philistines and both her husband and father-in-law had died in the battle.  She proceeded to name her newborn son, Ichabod or the glory has departed.  
  2. The ark was captured in large part to Eli’s unwillingness to deal with the sins of his two sons, Phineas and Hophni, who stole from the temple and committed indecent acts with the women who were serving at the entrance of the tent of meeting.   
  3. Although, the New Testament believers have the promise that God will always be with us, we still are capable of grieving and quenching the Holy Spirit, thereby separating ourselves from the glory of God.  (Ephesians 4:10; 1 Thessalonians 5:19).

Evening Reflection

Peter Wagner, former professor at Fuller Theological Seminary, is famous for stating that the Holy Spirit could leave many churches in America and they would never know the difference.  Today, God’s glory is made evident through the work of the Holy Spirit. To lose the Holy Spirit is to lose the very glory of God in our churches. That is a sad and frightening thought and one that should bring us to our knees in prayer.  

How have you glorified God today?  Write down any thoughts of praise and thanksgiving for who God is and what he has done in your life.

January 6, Monday

Today’s AMI QT blog, written by Pastor Barry Kang of Symphony Church in Boston, was originally posted on March 7, 2014.

 

Devotional Thoughts for This Morning

“The Supremacy of Love”

1 John 2:1-6 (ESV)

Beloved, I am writing you no new commandment, but an old commandment that you had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word that you have heard. 8 At the same time, it is a new commandment that I am writing to you, which is true in him and in you, because the darkness is passing away and the true light is already shining. 9 Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness. 10 Whoever loves his brother abides in the light, and in him there is no cause for stumbling. 11 But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes. 12 I am writing to you, little children, because your sins are forgiven for his name’s sake. 13 I am writing to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning. I am writing to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one. I write to you, children, because you know the Father. 14 I write to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning. I write to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one. 

In what manner is the commandment to love our brother (and sister) both old and new?  

It is old in the sense that the Law has always been about love.  Jesus taught that the Law and the Prophets were all summed up in the law to love God and one’s neighbor [the Great Commandment (cf. Matt. 22:37-40)].  Paul echoes this in Galatians 5:14: “The entire law is summed up in a single command, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” God’s commandments have always been about love.

At the same time, the commandment to love is new in the sense that Jesus perfectly fulfilled the Law to love, and now we too are able to love because of what Jesus has done [“the commandment . . . is true in him and in us” ( vs. 8)].  In Jesus, we are forgiven (v. 12); able to know God as our Father (v. 13); have overcome the evil one (v. 13), and have the word of God abiding in us (14).  Undoubtedly, our capacity to love our brothers and sisters is based on recognizing and appreciating the labor of love that Jesus has done on our behalf, beginning with his forgiveness.  Most likely, that’s what Jesus meant when he said of the woman who wiped his feet with tears, “I tell you her many sins have been forgiven—for she loved much. But he who has been forgiven little loves little” (Lk. 7:47).  As long as we hold onto our righteousness, it is will lessen our indebtedness to him.     

Is there a brother or sister in your life that you are having trouble loving?  Let us remind ourselves of the love we have received from Jesus. This will be the basis and strength from which we can begin to love.

Prayer: Father, thank You for the ways that You have loved me.  You have always loved me, but now am I reminded that Your love has forgiven me and set me free.  I am more than a conqueror because of Your love. I want to love in a new way, not based on my capacity to love, but on Your capacity to love. In the name of Jesus I pray, Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: John 7 (Luke 20)


Lunch Break Study  

Read John 13:1-15; 34-35: Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. 2 During supper, when the devil had already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray him, 3 Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, 4 rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. 5 Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him. 6 He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, do you wash my feet?” 7 Jesus answered him, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but afterward you will understand.” 8 Peter said to him, “You shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no share with me.” 9 Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!” 10 Jesus said to him, “The one who has bathed does not need to wash, except for his feet, but is completely clean. And you are clean, but not every one of you.” 11 For he knew who was to betray him; that was why he said, “Not all of you are clean.” 12 When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments and resumed his place, he said to them, “Do you understand what I have done to you? 13 You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. 14 If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. 15 For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you. 34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. 35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.

Questions to Consider

  1. What is the significance of the setting of this passage (v.1)?
  2. What does Jesus do and to whom does he do this?
  3. What do we learn about the new commandment that we see in verse 34?
  4. Whose feet can you wash today (metaphorically speaking)?

Notes

  1. John tells us in verse 1 that Jesus knew that his hour to depart from the world to go to the Father had come.  In other words, this is Jesus’ last teaching and commandment to his followers whom he loved. Last words are always significant.
  2. Foot washing was one of the lowest of tasks for a servant, often reserved for gentile slaves (as Jewish slaves thought that foot washing was beneath them).  The sight of Jesus stripping off his outer clothes to wash the disciples’ feet certainly startled Peter who would have never considered doing it himself. Even more amazing, Jesus also washed the feet of Judas whom he knew (we are told in v.11) would betray him later. 
  3. Jesus’ example in humbly serving his followers by washing their feet gives us a very practical and dramatic demonstration of what it is to love.  Loving one another does not mean that we feel warm and fuzzy things about each other, but that we humbly and sacrificially choose to serve.  
  4. Personal response

Evening Reflection

Are you showing love to others in the way that Jesus showed love to you?  Is there someone that God is asking you to love in a more sacrificial way?  Let us journal and pray about how we can do so.

January 5, Sunday

Today’s Spiritual Food for Thought (new) is written by an anonymous believer who attends an AMI church in E. Asia. 

 

Spiritual Food for Thought for the Weekend

“The Journey”

John 9:1-9

As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. 2 His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” 3 “Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him. 4 As long as it is day, we must do the works of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work. 5 While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” 6 After saying this, he spit on the ground, made some mud with the saliva, and put it on the man’s eyes. 7 “Go,” he told him, “wash in the Pool of Siloam” (this word means “Sent”) So the man went and washed and came home seeing. 8 His neighbors and those who had formerly seen him begging asked, “Isn’t this the same man who used to sit and beg?” 9 Some claimed that he was. Others said, “No, he only looks like him.” But he himself insisted, “I am the man.”  

A year ago, on a cold rainy day, I sat in the doctor’s office and I watched him scold my mom, over the phone, about why she didn’t get a health check before delivering me many years ago. He hung up the phone and wrote these few words that forever changed my life: “Diagnosed with Hepatitis B”.

In this story, Jesus healed this blind man in an unusual way. “He spit on the ground, made some mud with the saliva and put it on the man’s eyes and asked him to wash in the Pool of Siloam, which means sent” (John 9:6-7). Why did Jesus use such a troublesome way to heal this man? 

If we look at Jesus’s words, he declared three things. First was this man’s identity. He was not blind because he had a cursed life. Second was his life’s purpose. This happened so that God’s work could be displayed. Third was to declare that Jesus was the light of the world. After declaring these things, Jesus commanded this blind man to go and wash his eyes. If we read the text carefully, Jesus did not mention anything about giving him sight. Rather, he wanted the blind man to “see” something greater: his real identity and that Jesus was the true light. 

For a blind man, covered with mud and saliva, the trek to the Pool of Siloam was not an easy journey. In addition to not being able to see, he likely encountered many mocking him and he himself probably faced doubts. Every step he took was a choice to continue to believe in Jesus. However, every step forward brought him closer to the heart of Jesus. As we read in verse 8 and 9, his healing journey became a testimony to many: He himself insisted, “I AM the (blind) man”. His story of being blind was no longer an unbearable shame but a reflection of God’s glory.

This story resonates with my testimony.  Carrying this dreadful virus from birth made me wonder if my life was destined for disaster. As I write this, I’m still dealing with this sickness, but I am on my journey to the Pool of Siloam.  Like anyone struggling with a disease, I long to be healed right away. But if this journey is what takes to reveal God’s great work, isn’t totally worth it? After all, at the end of the day, everything will fade away, but Jesus is the only light that remains. 

Prayer: Father, tough times can be unbearable, but we have a reason to rejoice. It’s all because we in Christ are Your children and You love us. Thank You for using something bad in me and turning it into an exciting journey to get closer to Your heart. We pray that the Holy Spirit will open our hearts and eyes to discover Your good plan in times of trouble and learn to count your goodness along with each high and low. We know we are always safe in your hands. Thank you, Father!

Bible Reading for Today: John 6 (Luke 19)

January 4, Saturday

Today’s Spiritual Food for Thought (new) is written by Napa, a local staff serving at an AMI church in E. Asia. 

 

Spiritual Food for Thought for the Weekend

“Who am I?”

Deuteronomy. 4:32-35

Ask now about the former days, long before your time, from the day God created human beings on the earth; ask from one end of the heavens to the other. Has anything so great as this ever happened, or has anything like it ever been heard of? 33 Has any other people heard the voice of God[a] speaking out of fire, as you have, and lived? 34 Has any god ever tried to take for himself one nation out of another nation, by testings, by signs and wonders, by war, by a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, or by great and awesome deeds, like all the things the Lord your God did for you in Egypt before your very eyes? 35 You were shown these things so that you might know that the Lord is God; besides him there is no other.

When I was in high school, the NBA held a summer camp in the biggest city of our country. They invited NBA stars to host this camp to teach high school students how to play basketball. One of my classmates was selected to attend the summer camp. Since the camp was only for a couple of days, he skipped school because this was his chance to meet Kobe Bryant! Since then, he became a star at school. Many people would ask him all kinds of questions. For example, “What did Kobe teach you? What kind of person is Kobe? Did you have dinner together? What else did you do together?” All this to say—Playing basketball with Kobe Bryant made my classmate extremely special.

In today’s passage, Moses reminded the Israelites about their identity. Moses said that, out of all the nations in the world, Israel was the most special group because God was with them. Moses asked them to think about what other nation had ever heard God speaking to them in the fire. Who else has experienced such a great event? No one else! Only the Israelites are special because only they have experienced God.

There are times we may feel that being a Christian has its downsides. We may feel that being a Christian has its restrictions. However, this passage is reminding us that as Christians, we have experienced God. We should be proud of our identity!

Today, let’s spend some time thanking God for our identity in Him. Also, let’s spend some time meditating on this question, “Are you proud of who you are in Christ?” If not, ask the Holy Spirit to secure your identity in Him.

Prayer: Dear heavenly Father, I thank You for reminding me of my special identity. Let me know that my relationship with You is special. I am so honored to know You, to walk with You, and to be in You. In the name of Jesus Christ, I pray, Amen!

Bible Reading for Today: John 4-5 (Luke 18)

January 3, Friday

Devotional Thought for This Morning

“Putting a Stop to the Cycle of Busyness”

Psalm 62:5-8

For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from him. He only is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be shaken. On God rests my salvation and my glory; my mighty rock, my refuge is God. Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us.

During our VBS summer camp, we setup a relay race with a sponge and two buckets, one with water and one without. The objective of the game was quite simple: use a sponge to soak up water from one bucket and then run over to squeeze the water in the empty one. Whichever team filled their empty buckets first won. 

What we witnessed next was quite telling of how we often behave in life. Naturally, the kids thought the faster they get to the other bucket would be the quickest way to fill it. As a result, they would dip the sponge quickly into the water and race to the other bucket making as many trips as possible. Here’s the thing: because they were so quick to run to the other bucket, they barely dipped their sponges in the water. By the time they got to the empty bucket, there was little to no water to squeeze out. It sounds silly because we know what they should’ve done was to actually wait and allow the sponge to soak up more water, and then go to the empty bucket. 

Much like these kids, we think that the more we do, the more we are productive, and the more we have to offer. In a world where we are disillusioned by busyness, we hurry from one thing to another without realizing just how little we have to give. Whether it’s for the next breakthrough, season, or even a relationship, waiting is difficult because it’s counterintuitive to what we think is productive. 

Yet in our passage, the Psalmist makes it clear that his priority was to wait on God. For him, it was far better to wait in His presence than to react to the troubles surrounding him. In His presence, the Psalmist found his true source of strength, his salvation, and his glory—God Himself. 

As we think about this new year and all that it has for us, may we develop the discipline of waiting on Him. Before we start this year, take some time waiting in His presence and soaking up whatever He has for you. Know that nothing is ever wasted in His presence, or as Henri Nouwen puts it, “Time given to inner renewal is never wasted. God is not in a hurry.” As we spend time with Him, may our hurried hearts find both peace and rest in Him. 

Prayer: Father, I confess even as I’m reading this my heart and mind can be so distracted with what needs to be done. Thank You that I can approach Your throne of grace with confidence. Thank You that in your presence I can find peace in You. Help me to be still. 

Bible Reading for Today: John 3 (Luke 17) 


Lunch Break Study 

Read Philippians 4:6-9: Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.

Questions to Consider

  1. How can we overcome anxiety?  
  2. How does the peace of God change us? 
  3. Do you struggle with anxiety? If so, ask that the Lord will lead you into His peace. 

Notes

  1. Prayer. What Warren Wiersbe writes as the prayer that Paul outlined here, is one of adoration, supplication, and thanksgiving. Adoration in the sense of enjoying His presence; supplication, knowing that God listens to even the simplest of prayers of our hearts; thanksgiving, faith to thank Him even when our circumstances may not permit. This type of prayer invites His peace into our hearts, a peace not of this world, but that which comes from Him alone. 
  2. The peace of God not only changes our prayers, but it demands that we change the way we think. Instead of focusing on the things that bring anxiety, Paul says to focus our thoughts on things that are worthy of praise. Paul then reminds us to put such things into practice and that these things ultimately mark a life of peace. 
  3. Personal Response. 

Evening Reflection

Exodus 33:15-17 says, “And he said to him, ‘If your presence will not go with me, do not bring us up from here. 16 For how shall it be known that I have found favor in your sight, I and your people? Is it not in your going with us, so that we are distinct, I and your people, from every other people on the face of the earth?’ 17 And the Lord said to Moses, ‘This very thing that you have spoken I will do, for you have found favor in my sight, and I know you by name.’”

After spending 40 years wandering the desert with people constantly complaining and questioning his leadership, Moses finally has the opportunity to enter the Promised Land. However, notice that Moses is willing to give all that up; in fact, he refuses to go unless God’s presence would go with Him. In other words, Moses looked to His presence more than the promise. 

Spend a few moments reflecting on this. May the promises that we look forward to in 2020 be dim in comparison to being in His presence.

January 2, Thursday

Devotional Thought for This Morning

“In Search of Contentment in Life”

Philippians 4:11-13

I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. 12 I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. 13 I can do all things through him who strengthens me.

Every year I fall into the trap of making new year’s resolutions. Even though I have yet to accomplish most of them, I continue to tell myself: “I can do it; this year will be different; I’m going to do it.” I may even tell myself, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” When taken out of context, we place a greater emphasis on the “I can do all things” because it fuels our desire to be self-sufficient. It creates the illusion that Paul is talking about what we can do when he’s actually pointing us to a greater truth—the very secret to life of how we can be.

And that secret is how we can be content. Paul writes that in any and every circumstance, whether it be a season of need or a season of abundance, he is content. Oftentimes we think about being content only in times of need but notice how Paul writes he knows what it means to be content even in times of abundance. Even when things are going well, he still understands how to be content only in Christ. For Paul, knowing Christ and being in Christ (Phil 3:8-12) was far more worthy than anything else. Nothing compared to this. His contentment in Christ made him invincible to all of life’s ups and downs. Therefore, Paul could confidently say that no matter the season of need or abundance, Paul could endure all things because he found his strength in Christ alone.

In a world where we take pride in our ability to be self-sufficient, Paul always boasted about his dependence on God alone (2 Cor. 12). As one commentator said, he understood that the secret to life was not to be self-sufficient, but to be God-sufficient. Regardless of what 2020 may or may not bring, may we begin this year with this heart of contentment. As Paul learned this secret to life, may we also learn this amazing truth. May we be content in Christ alone. 

Prayer: Father, teach me how to be content in You alone. Help me not to trust in myself, but in all circumstances find my satisfaction in You. I begin this year knowing that You are more than enough for me. May my weaknesses be ever so transparent so that Your power will shine all the more in my life. 

Bible Reading for Today:  John 2 (Luke 16) 


Lunch Break Study 

Read 1 Peter 1:3-5: Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, 5 who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 

Questions to Consider

  1. What is the living hope that Paul writes about? 
  2. How is this hope different from our common definition of hope?
  3. In what do we put our hope?  

Notes

  1. Paul, writing to a church facing constant persecution, reminds the believers that their ultimate hope is in the salvation that comes through Jesus Christ. It is a hope given by God’s mercy, meaning there is nothing we can do to earn it, or have it taken away. This hope is not just for our time here on earth, but it is a hope that leads us to an inheritance that awaits us in heaven.  
  2. Living hope is not sheer optimism. Optimism leaves very little assurance that what we hope for will actually amount to something. Proverbs 10:28 says, “The hope of the righteous brings joy, but the expectation of the wicked will perish.” The hopes of this world will lead to nothing, but our hope in Christ will be eternal. 
  3. Personal Response. 

Evening Reflection

In describing how hope drives us, CS Lewis wrote “We are all born with desires. If I find myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world. If none of my earthly pleasures satisfy it, that does not prove that the universe is a fraud. Probably earthly pleasures were never meant to satisfy it, but only to arouse it, to suggest the real thing.” 

Spend a few moments reflecting on what brings us pleasure. May they only point us to the true satisfaction that can only be found in Christ.

January 1, Wednesday

The AMI QT blogs from January 1-3 (new) are written by Andy Kim.  Andy, a graduate of Northwestern University and Fuller Theological Seminary (M.Div.), currently serves the associate pastor at Radiance Christian Church in San Francisco.  Andy and his wife Jane had a baby boy in 2018 whom they named Caleb.  

 

Devotional Thought for This Morning

A New Year Resolution?  How About This . . .

Haggai 1:7-11

“Thus says the Lord of hosts: Consider your ways. Go up to the hills and bring wood and build the house, that I may take pleasure in it and that I may be glorified, says the LordYou looked for much, and behold, it came to little. And when you brought it home, I blew it away. Why? declares the Lord of hosts. Because of my house that lies in ruins, while each of you busies himself with his own house. 10 Therefore the heavens above you have withheld the dew, and the earth has withheld its produce. 11 And I have called for a drought on the land and the hills, on the grain, the new wine, the oil, on what the ground brings forth, on man and beast, and on all their labors.”

Happy New Year! 

The beginning of a new year always has a sense of excitement as we think about what lies ahead of us. More importantly, it’s a time for us to reconsider our priorities and, as the Lord tells the people of Israel in our passage this morning to consider your ways, we too must consider our ways. To start this year well, we ought to ask ourselves, what are we working towards and what are we really building in our lives? 

Haggai speaks to the people of God during a time very much similar to ours where there is political turmoil and economic instability. Even though they have returned to their homeland, instead of comfort and joy, they seem to be just as frustrated. And to this, the Lord clearly says it’s because they have busied themselves with their own houses while neglecting to rebuild the temple of God. For the Israelites, they understood that the temple was the centerpiece of worship. In fact, if you trace the movements of the Israelites after they were freed from Egypt, God made it clear that each time they settled, they were to first build the tabernacle. When Joshua finally entered the promised land, he first builds an altar before the Lord. In other words, every new move, new season, or even transition was to begin with worship. 

Worship resets our priorities by reminding us who God is and who we are in Him. Often, a lack of worship leads to misplaced priorities. I love how the Psalmist puts it: “I will not enter my house or get into my bed, I  will not give sleep to my eyes or slumber to my eyelids, until I find a place for the Lord, a dwelling place for the Mighty One of Jacob.” 

As we begin this new year, may we have the same heart—that we will not begin this year, until we found ourselves in a posture of worship. This is what it means to start the new year well! As the Lord says, spend a few moments considering your ways. As we prioritize building His kingdom over our own this year, may we experience the blessings He has in store for us. 

Prayer: Father, as we begin this new year, may we have a heart of worship. May we submit ourselves and all our plans for 2020 before you. Help us to always focus ourselves on eternal things rather than the temporary. We bless your name! 

Bible Reading for Today:  John 1 (to read the remaining chapters of Luke, today’s portion is 15)


Lunch Break Study 

Read Romans 12:1-2: I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.; 

Questions to Consider

  1. How does Paul define worship?
  2. Why is worship so important? How does it change us?
  3. What does worship mean to you? How can we worship him in all of our lives? 

Notes

  1. Paul begins with by the mercies of God to show that worship is first and foremost a response to God’s grace. When we understand how a perfect and loving God accepts sinners, our response is worship. Paul uses an OT concept very familiar to the Israelites on the idea of sacrifice. For worship to be a sacrifice meant that it was both costly and intentional. Worship was never meant to be passive or consumeristic. 
  2. Worship gives the lens through which we ought to see the world. Worship transforms our thoughts in order that we may submit to His will. Worship opens our eyes to see that His will is both good and perfect for our lives. 
  3. Personal Response. 

John Piper says: “Worship is: showing God’s value, supreme value over all other things. So if you have a job, do your job in a way that shows that Christ is supremely valuable…when your life becomes worship, God begins to look valuable to other people. God looks infinitely worthy when others look at you.” 


Evening Reflection

As mentioned, Haggai was written in a time very similar to ours where there was much political turmoil and economic instability. Without having to dive into politics, we are facing some difficult times both in the US and across the world. And yet, God reminds us how much more urgent it is for us to build his temple during such uncertainty so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to rulers and authorities in the heavenly places (Eph 3:10). 

When we as a church humble ourselves, turn from our ways, and seek His face; then He will heal our lands. Worship not only as personal implications, but communal blessings. As we think about 2020 and all the things it has in store for us personally, may we also think and pray for all the things it has for us as believers. More than ever, the church must reflect His love and glory to the world. 

Spend a few moments praying for your church. How is God calling you to build His church this year?