September 21, Tuesday

REPOSTToday’s AMI QT Devotional, first posted on September 21, 2015, is written by Pastor David Son who pastors the Thrive Church in Taipei.  He is a graduate of University of California, Berkeley (BA) and Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary (M.Div.). Stay up to date with the church plant by following them here: https://www.instagram.com/thrivechurchtaipei/

Devotional Thought for This Morning

The Humblest Person Who Actually Wasn’t”

2 Samuel 7:18-21

Then King David went in and sat before the Lord and said, “Who am I, O Lord God, and what is my house, that you have brought me thus far? And yet this was a small thing in your eyes, O Lord God. You have spoken also of your servant’s house for a great while to come, and this is instruction for mankind, O Lord God! And what more can David say to you? For you know your servant, O Lord God! Because of your promise, and according to your own heart, you have brought about all this greatness, to make your servant know it.”

There once was a church that realized the importance of humility, so it formed a committee to find the most humble person in the church. Many names were submitted and numerous candidates evaluated. Finally, the committee came to a unanimous decision. They selected a quiet, little man who always lived in the background and had never taken credit for anything he had done. They awarded him the “Most Humble” button for his faithful service. However, the next day they had to take it away from him because he pinned it on.

Humility is a bit tricky, because once you know you have it, it’s hard to keep! Has anyone ever come up and told you, “Wow, you are so humble!” How are you supposed to respond to that? Today’s passage sheds some light on what genuine humility can look like.God had just promised to make David’s kingdom an everlasting one, an amazing covenant that would likely prompt many to boast. But David comes before the Lord in an amazing confession of humility, declaring, “Who am I, O Lord God… that you have brought me thus far?” What this passage tells me is that true humility comes from reflecting on our past and recognizing that God is the one who has brought us to where we are.

Where would you be today if it weren’t for God working in your life? Today, let us spend some time sitting before the Lord and making that confession: “Who am I, O Lord God… that you have brought me thus far?”

Prayer: Lord, who are we that you pour out your love, mercy, and grace ceaselessly upon us? Thank you for your faithfulness, from the time of Abraham to David, and even to the present—you have always been faithful. We cannot thank you enough.  Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Galatians 1


Lunch Break Study

Read 1 Peter 5:5-6: Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you.

Questions to Consider

  1. Who is Peter writing to?
  2. Why do you think Peter uses the analogy of clothing in his exhortation to be humble? 
  3. What is God’s stance towards “the proud”?

Notes

  1. In the context of the letter, Peter is writing to Christians in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia. But in application, we can say he is writing to all Christians.
  2. Clothing comes up in many places in the Bible. Here, Peter is using it to say that humility is not a status that you achieve, but like clothing, we need to put it on every day.
  3. “God opposes the proud” (v. 5b).  If you think about it, this is scary, because one place you definitely don’t want to be is in opposition to God. Pride is something we need to deal with seriously.

Evening Reflection

In Deuteronomy 8, Moses repeatedly urges the Israelites to remember the Lord and not forget what He has done for them lest they become proud. Today, spend some time remembering what He has done for you—how He first encountered you, and how He saved you! Reflect on how He has sustained you through difficult times, blessed you with every good thing, and that He is still faithful to you. 

September 20, Monday 

REPOSTToday’s AMI QT Devotional, first posted on March 31, 2015, is provided by Pastor Shan Gian who leads Remnant Westside Church in Manhattan.  Shan is a graduate of University of Pennsylvania (BA) and Gordon Conwell Seminary (M.Div.).

Devotional Thought for This Morning

“When Facing Hopeless Situations”

1 Samuel 17:41-47

And the Philistine moved forward and came near to David, with his shield-bearer in front of him. 42 And when the Philistine looked and saw David, he disdained him, for he was but a youth, ruddy and handsome in appearance.43 And the Philistine said to David, “Am I a dog, that you come to me with sticks?” And the Philistine cursed David by his gods. 44 The Philistine said to David, “Come to me, and I will give your flesh to the birds of the air and to the beasts of the field.” 45 Then David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with a sword and with a spear and with a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied.46 This day the Lord will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you down and cut off your head. And I will give the dead bodies of the host of the Philistines this day to the birds of the air and to the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel, 47 and that all this assembly may know that the Lord saves not with sword and spear. For the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give you into our hand.”

On this battlefield, the Israelites were cowering because of this giant, the mighty warrior Goliath, and the army of Philistines behind him.  And as the Israelites looked at the battle in front of them, they were fearful and hopeless because they had no chance against such a great foe.  

We face battles in our lives all the time, and often these situations look hopeless: How can we deal with family problems?  How can we possibly get out debt?  How can we possibly manage all of the different things going on in our lives?  What do we do about the burdens in our lives?  And how can we overcome the sin and darkness in our hearts?  What hope do we have?  

David’s hope in this situation (and our hope) is that . . . the battle is the Lord’s.  Like us, David went into this battle with absolutely no chance on his own.  Goliath scoffed at him because he was just a little kid with a wooden stick and some rocks, coming at a mighty warrior armed with sword, spear and javelin.  But as David approached the giant, he did not fear because he knew this was not his battle to fight, but that God himself would win the day and that it is the Lord who saves.  Our salvation comes from God, who makes our battles His battles.  

During this week let’s remember and celebrate what our Lord Jesus did for us.  He himself walked the road to Calvary, took the cross, bore our sins on it, shedding His blood for us.  Why?  Because the battle is the Lord’s—our God made our battles his battles. 

Prayer: Lord Jesus, I thank you for taking my burdens on the cross.  On my own, I have no hope to face all of the battles and burdens in my life, but I can walk forward in confidence and faith because I know that my battles belong to You, for you are the God of my salvation.  Thank you, Jesus.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Lamentation 5


Lunch Bible Study

Read Matthew 11:28-30: Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

Questions to Consider

  1. What kind of rest does Jesus offer us?  How does the cross of Jesus Christ give us rest?
  2. Why do we as Christians still feel burdened and heavy laden at times?  
  3. Reflect on burdens that you are you holding on to.  How does the rest of Jesus help you?

Notes

  1. The rest that Jesus offers us is a rest for our souls.  He’s not talking about a physical rest but a spiritual one.  Because Jesus took the cross for our sins, he did the work that we could not do in atoning for our sins, thereby taking the burden of our sins off of us.  Jesus offers us rest because when we depend upon him, we no longer have any burden to earn our own righteousness or salvation.  
  2. We get weary and heavy laden as Christians when we stop depending on Jesus and put this burden back on our own shoulders.
  3. Personal application question

Evening Reflection

As you have been reflecting on what Jesus has done for us, how do you feel about the burdens and struggles that you are facing in your life?  Are you experiencing the rest that Jesus offers us?  Take some time to journal and remind yourself that the battle is the Lord’s.

September 19, Sunday

REPOST Today’s Spiritual Food for Thought, provided by Pastor Ryun Chang (AMI Teaching Pastor), was first posted on January 5, 2014.

Spiritual Food for Thought for the Weekend

“No, It Isn’t for You, Donkey.”

James 4:6b

“God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” 

As Jesus rode on a donkey to enter Jerusalem just before his crucifixion, the crowd wildly cheered for him, shouting, “Hosanna!”  Imagine if the donkey assumed that they were doing it for him, how silly that would be.  While we need not worry about that, the same cannot be said about us since humans have an unlimited capacity for self-grandeur.  Once, a gentile woman with a troublesome daughter shouted to Jesus, “Lord, Son of David. . . have mercy on me!”  Perhaps, bothered by the fact that she was not a Jew, “his disciples . . . urged him, ‘Send her away, for she keeps crying after us’” (Matt. 15:23).  Us?  If I were Jesus, I would have quipped, “Me, not you.  Check your hearing; better yet, your heart.”

That Jesus’ disciples were plagued with pride may come as a surprise to some but their favorite pastime was discussing who was the greatest among them.  Once when Jesus asked, “What were you arguing about on the road,” they said nothing because “they had argued about who was the greatest” (Mk. 9:33-4).  The repeated admonitions by Jesus hardly made any dent; they continued this discussion all the way to the very night of Jesus’ betrayal (Lk. 22:24). 

God, who “opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble,” will not tolerate such attitude.  So then, how did Jesus handle the situation in which his disciples thought that the woman was crying after them?  Perhaps looking straight into their faces, Jesus declared, “Woman, you have great faith” (Matt. 15:28a).  Such lofty appraisal was what they wanted to hear from their master but never did.  That’s called, “Facing the music.”

How about us?  I cannot begin to tell you how many different ways God had to humble me because I thought people were cheering for me instead of the One who gave me the strength to be effective and whom I was representing.  Once, I thought I was pretty a good speaker, but after my partner in ministry had left, all I heard from the congregation was how much they missed his preaching!  That stung but, looking back, it was necessary.

Are you staying humble, or is too much success gets in the way?  Change your thinking; it’s not really you— it’s HIM!  One way to show that is through “offer[ing] to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving” (Ps. 50:14).  Take a moment to consider what sacrifice may be acceptable to the Lord, today.

Prayer: Dear God, keep me humble!  Help me to see what I am really like without all the additives and adornments in order that I clearly see how I am nothing apart from Your abiding grace. Amen. 

Bible Reading for Today: Lamentation 4

September 18, Saturday

UPDATED Today’s Spiritual Food for Thought was first posted on August 12, 2013.

Spiritual Food for Thought for the Weekend

“About Demons”

Luke 4:31-37

And he went down to Capernaum, a city of Galilee. And he was teaching them on the Sabbath, 32 and they were astonished at his teaching, for his word possessed authority. 33 And in the synagogue there was a man who had the spirit of an unclean demon, and he cried out with a loud voice, 34 “Ha! What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God.” 35 But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be silent and come out of him!” And when the demon had thrown him down in their midst, he came out of him, having done him no harm. 36 And they were all amazed and said to one another, “What is this word? For with authority and power he commands the unclean spirits, and they come out!” 37 And reports about him went out into every place in the surrounding region.

I want to talk about demons today. (Well, it’s in today’s text.)

First, there is a fine line between a demonized person and one who is captive to sin.  We often want to avoid using words like “demons” or “evil spirits” even in our typical evangelical churches.  We just want to label everything as “sin” without having to recognize the ever presence of the power of darkness in our culture.  Biblically speaking however, we are in a spiritual warzone.  It is ironic that a demon manifested, out of all the places, in a synagogue—perhaps one of the most respectable places at that time.  “The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness” (John 1:5) was not able to handle or overcome Jesus’ presence; that is to say, it was exposed.  Perhaps you need to pray that God’s presence would be strong in your both private and public life. 

Second, why do you think Jesus did not allow the demon to talk about His identity?  After all, the demon correctly stated who Jesus really was (vv. 34-35).  Well, the demonic manifestations around Jesus must have happened before; otherwise, the demons would not have accused Jesus of using his power to destroy them (1 Jn. 3:8).  It is one thing to acknowledge the truth (James 2:19: “You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder!”), but it is another to commit oneself to that truth.  Reflect on your commitment to the lordship of Christ. 

Bible Reading for Today: Lamentation 2-3

Prayer: Dear Lord, fill me with the Holy Spirit in order that demons may fear the Spirit who resides in me.  May God’s word come to me in power and conviction through faith (1 Thess. 1:5).  Amen. 

September 17, Friday

REPOSTToday’s AMI QT Devotional, provided by Pastor Charles Choe who leads Tapestry Church in Los Angeles, was first posted on April 17, 2015.  Charles is a graduate of University of California, Riverside (BA) and Fuller Theological Seminary (M.Div.).

Devotional Thought for This Morning

“When All Seems Lost . . .”

1 Samuel 30:6 (ESV)

And David was greatly distressed, for the people spoke of stoning him, because all the people were bitter in soul, each for his sons and daughters. But David strengthened himself in the LORD his God.

The showdown between Israel and the Philistines would have to take place without David fighting alongside the Philistines. The Philistine lords sent David and his men back to Ziklag, where upon their return, they discover a terrible tragedy. We’re told the Amalekites had invaded Ziklag while the men were gone; the city was burned to the ground, and everything of value was taken, including the women and children who would likely be sold as slaves. 

Consider the utter dismay David and his men must have felt when they came over the hill, expecting their families to come out to greet them, but instead, seeing smoldering ashes with nobody left. We never know when misfortune will come home to us. It can come in the shape of a stray bullet, an incurable disease, or some tragic accident that we just can’t plan for. Since we live in a broken world, there will always be some pain and suffering. 

David and his men cried until they could cry no more. But in the midst of that pain and anger, “David encouraged himself in the Lord his God.”David did not always do what was right, but when push came to shove, David knew where to turn to: he turned to the Lord. He encouraged himself in the Lord his God! 

I am reminded of two things: First, when all seems lost, all is not necessarily lost; and second, when all seems lost and I don’t know where to turn to, I need to inquire of God. David sought the wisdom of God, and after receiving his counsel from the High Priest, David pursued the Amalekites, and the Lord provided the victory. 

In life, there will be pain and suffering—some being bigger tragedies than others. The right way of handling tragedy will not only offer us comfort, but also the guidance that we need. Handling tragedy without God leads to bitterness, failure, and perhaps, more tragedy. We find that as David handled this tragedy wisely, he experienced one of his great tragedies turn to triumph.

Prayer: Dear God, help me never to be too discouraged to seek You out, for You are able to comfort and guide me in the midst of my pain. May I grow through all aspects of life, but especially when pain and suffering come for me. May I confess, along with the apostle Paul, “your grace is sufficient for me, for your power is made perfect in my weakness” (2 Cor. 12:9).  Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Lamentations 1


Lunch Break Study

Read Psalm 3:1-6: O LORD, how many are my foes! Many are rising against me; [2] Many are saying of my soul, there is no salvation for him in God. [3] But you, O LORD, are a shield about me, my glory, and the lifter of my head. [4] I cried aloud to the LORD, and he answered me from his holy hill.[5] I lay down and slept; I woke again, for the LORD sustained me. [6] I will not be afraid of many thousands of people who have set themselves against me all around.

Questions to Consider 

  1. David writes this Psalm in reflection to the grief that his son Absalom is causing him. How can we tell that David is desperate in this Psalm? 
  2. In spite of his pain, what enables David to sleep peacefully at night? 
  3. What serves to give you confidence in the Lord today? 

Notes 

  1. We see in the opening lines David’s desperate situation with its repetition of the word many.
  2. David calls to mind the many ways in which God has cared for him in the past, and how he was able in faith to sleep peacefully in the face of danger. These past experiences build his confidence for the present, enabling him to walk by faith and not by sight.
  3. Personal response

Evening Reflection

Before going to bed, reflect on this: “The greatest good suffering can do for me is to increase my capacity for God.” –Joni Eareckson TadaSo, how was your day?

September 16, Thursday

UPDATED Today’s AMI QT Devotional, provided by Pastor Ryun Chang (AMI Teaching Pastor), was first posted on January 22, 2013.

Devotional Thought for This Morning

“What Meaneth This, That We Are Love by the God of the Galaxies”

Psalm 8:35

When I consider your heavens the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, 4 what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him? 5 You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor.

The universe is much bigger than what David had imagined; in fact, still “it is expanding the same in all directions” (Craig). But one thing has remained constant despite the presence of more than 170 billion galaxies in the observable universe: the earth is still the only place where God created life, men who are most dear to Him. While humans may have been ranked lower than the angels in the OT, now they “serve [us] who will inherit salvation” (Heb. 1:14).  Although life can be disappointing at times, considering such a privileged status we enjoy before God, how can we not bounce back!  For this reason (among others), “for though the righteous fall seven times, they rise again” (Prov. 24:16). Be encouraged!

As a new day dawns, see your problems in light of our God who thinks you are more important than the vast universe!  Therefore, “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7).

Prayer: Heavenly Father, it is so easy to get down on myself because of my many inadequacies and mistakes. Yet, it is amazing that You would consider me that important because I am created in Your likeness, and because I am a child of God in Christ.  Thank You! Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Matthew 28


Lunch Break Study

Read Romans 1:22-23: Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles.

Questions to Consider

  1. Who said it and to whom (Rom. 1:1-7)?
  2. Why was this said (Rom. 1:18-21; 1 Cor. 8:5)?
  3. Why do men prefer to worship created things over the Creator (Rom. 1:25; Acts 19:24-7)?

Notes

  1. The apostle Paul said this about the Romans during the time when the decadent Nero was the emperor.
  2. Paul, being aware of the many gods worshiped in the Empire (e.g., Mithras, Cybele, Isis, Bacchus, etc.), wanted to clarify that they were doing so despite clear evidence for the existence of the Creator God. 
  3. The Marxist analysis of religion is not entirely wrong: men can manipulate religion for their own benefit and pleasure. In Ephesus, many promoted the worship of Artemis (which promoted sensuality) because the sale of her image was very profitable.  By keeping the masses uninformed and ignorant of the truth, this brutal cycle could last a long time.  While the Christian church, at times, behaved shamefully, there was always a remnant who worshiped the Creator, upheld His moral and ethical laws, and loved their neighbors; 4 Because we are greedy for more things (e.g., wealth, fame, power), we dedicate the best of our thinking, energy, and time to get more wealth and power instead of serving God’s interest. 

Evening Reflection

Earlier today we talked about idolatry.  In what ways do we commit the sin of idolatry, worshiping “things” instead of our Creator? First, what does it mean that we worship “things”(last part of Col. 3:5)? Second, review how you spend your money and time.  In view of that, who are you truly worshiping?  Is it time to make some changes in your life?

Now, before going to sleep, step outside for a moment and see the countless stars that adorn our universe. What thoughts come to your mind as your day is ending?

September 15, Wednesday

REPOST Today’s AMI QT Devotional, first posted on April 24, 2015, is provided by Pastor Jason Sato who, along with his wife Jessica and three young children, serves in Japan as an AMI missionary.  He and his wife just planted an English-speaking church in Tokyo. 

Devotional Thought for This Morning

“What is Behind Our Concern for Justice?”

2 Samuel 4:8b-11 (ESV)

And they said to the king, “Here is the head of Ish-bosheth, the son of Saul, your enemy, who sought your life. The LORD has avenged my lord the king this day on Saul and on his offspring.” [9] But David answered Rechab and Baanah his brother, the sons of Rimmon the Beerothite, “As the LORD lives, who has redeemed my life out of every adversity, [10] when one told me, ‘Behold, Saul is dead,’ and thought he was bringing good news, I seized him and killed him at Ziklag, which was the reward I gave him for his news. [11] How much more, when wicked men have killed a righteous man in his own house on his bed, shall I not now require his blood at your hand and destroy you from the earth?”

A couple years ago, my motionless car was hit by another car in a parking lot.  The other driver apologized profusely, and it was clear to all involved that she was at fault.  Later, I was shocked to find out through my insurance agent that she claimed I hit her—I was outraged.  How dare she lie so blatantly!  Her teenage son was in the car, too:  What kind of morals was she teaching him?  Oh the injustice!  Avenge me, oh God!

Now, I definitely got worked up about the whole situation, but was my passion for justice or for myself?  To be honest, I was mostly worried about what this might do to my insurance payments, and how much hassle it would be to lose my car for a couple weeks.  The righteous justice of God was not really the fuel to my indignation.

David, on the other hand, had a genuine appreciation for justice.  Rechab and Baanah essentially tell him, “You are now the king of Israel!” but David is far more concerned about justice.  His personal situation calls for joy and thanksgiving, but David zeroes in on the fact that “wicked men have killed a righteous man.”  David must have known that Ish-bosheth’s death or exile was the only way he could become king.  Yet he would rather stand on the side of justice than ascend to the throne through injustice.

Are we concerned with justice, whether it benefits us or not?  What if justice actually runs counter to our comforts and concerns?  As we consider building up our bank accounts, advancing in our careers, or succeeding academically, are we concerned more about justice and fairness, or whether we come out on top?

Prayer: Father, I thank You that You love justice and hate evil.  I am often tempted to bend the rules or ignore injustice when it will benefit me; so help me to delight in righteousness and justice.  Even if it is costly, my reward is to reflect You well. Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Matthew 27


Lunch Break Study

Read Luke 19:5-10 (ESV): And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today.” [6] So he hurried and came down and received him joyfully. [7] And when they saw it, they all grumbled, “He has gone in to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.” [8] And Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, “Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor. And if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold.” [9] And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham. [10] For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”

Question to Consider

  1. Why does Jesus stop to speak to Zacchaeus, even though he is a sinner?
  2. As one who defrauded others, what did Zacchaeus formerly care most about? 
  3. When Christ seeks out Zacchaeus, what change of heart takes place in him?

Notes

  1. Jesus singles out Zacchaeus because He has come to seek and save the lost.
  2. Zacchaeus cared more about his personal wealth than about justice, his social standing, and even God.
  3. Zacchaeus becomes radically concerned for the poor and for justice.

Evening Reflection

Reflect on your day.  Were there any times when moral issues were gray?  If so, how did you come to a decision?  Pray that God would grant you wisdom to know and do what is right rather than what is expedient.

September 14, Tuesday

REPOST Today’s AMI QT Devotional, provided by Pastor Ryun Chang (AMI Teaching Pastor), was first posted on August 21, 2014.

Devotional Thought for This Morning

“How I Stopped Speaking ‘French’ which I Spoke with Fluency”

Mark 16:17

“And these signs will accompany those who believe:  In my name they will . . . speak in new tongues.”

Eph. 4:30

“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths . . .”

“You speak fluent French,” I said to the man whom I met at a bookstore, and I added, “I used to speak French myself.”  I glanced at my wife who gave me the look of “You did?”  Of course, I wasn’t referring to the French I took in high school, but the propensity to lace every conversation with profanity.  In fact, the first sin that I confessed at the moment of my conversion was for my “dirty mouth.”  Thereafter, despite occasional slipups, especially as a young Christian, God helped me to overcome that problem.  

Some theologians distinguish between Christ as our Savior as opposed to Christ as our Lord to teach that the only requirement for salvation is to believe Jesus as the Savior; and later on, one can decide whether to make Christ his Lord.  In the meantime, the “saved person” is under no obligation to change his life.   What’s missing in such a short-sighted thinking is the role of the Holy Spirit in salvation.   Upon reading Titus 3:5-6 that says, “He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior,” a good question to raise is, “What does the Spirit do as he renews us?”  Apostle John would answer, “When he comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin . . .” (Jn. 16:8).   And when the Spirit was poured out upon me even as the Lord was saving me, I felt so guilty for letting unwholesome talk to come out of my mouth “to curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness” (James 3:9). 

For some, “speaking in new tongues” literally means to have the gift of tongues.  While that gift is still alive and well today, we can also understand that verse to mean that as a new creation in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17), we “put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor,” to “build others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen” (Eph. 5:29).

So I told the man at the bookstore that I no longer had to cuss to express my discontentment and bitterness because I found peace in Jesus Christ.  How do you use your words?  Instead of hurting someone’s feeling with our insensitive comments, use them to encourage somebody today.   

Prayer: Dear Christ, I magnify and glorify your name that is above all names.  There are no apt words to describe your majesty, love and grace.  But I confess that I have spoken many words that have brought dishonor and disgrace to your holy name.  Forgive me.  Through the Holy Spirit, constantly remind me of the need to use my mouth, first, to exalt you, and second, to edify those around me.  Thank you.

Bible Reading for Today: Matthew 26


Lunch Break Study

Read 1 Tim. 5:13 (ESV): “Besides that, [younger widows] learn to be idlers, going about from house to house, and not only idlers, but also gossips and busybodies, saying what they should not.”

Proverbs 11:13: “A gossip betrays a confidence, but a trustworthy person keeps a secret”: 20:19: “A gossip betrays a confidence; so avoid anyone who talks too much”; 25:9-10: “If you take your neighbor to court, do not betray another’s confidence, or the one who hears it may shame you and the charge against you will stand.”

1 Kings 21:13: “And the two worthless men (hired by Jezebel) came in and sat opposite him. And the worthless men brought a charge against Naboth in the presence of the people, saying, ‘Naboth cursed God and the king.’ So they took him outside the city and stoned him to death with stones.” 

Proverbs 10:19: When words are many, sin is not absent, but he who holds his tongues is wise”; 

17:28: “Even fools are thought wise if they keep silent, and discerning if they hold their tongues.”

Questions to Consider

  1. What are some typical ways in which our tongues end up hurting people around us?  Can this happen even at a prayer meeting?
  2. Among several factors behind why people gossip, what is a prominent one? What can we do about it?
  3. What are some ways to keep us from putting our foot in our mouth?  What has been your experience?

Notes

  1. The book of Proverbs prominently mentions gossiping.   Sometimes, there is a fine line between sharing a prayer request and gossiping.  Since the Lord knows the person whom we are thinking of, perhaps we do not need to be too specific when discussing someone’s problem in order for others to pray.  The more malicious way is creating a lie to hurt our rival, competition, or a disliked person. 
  2. The 1 Timothy passage implies that boredom is a factor behind gossip; thus, people do what comes naturally—talk.  And when words are many, imprudent words are bound to be said.   So, we should know when to wrap up our conversation, especially avoiding all-night meaningless talks. 
  3. Thinking beforehand what we are going to say, even writing down our thoughts can be helpful.  If we have nothing good to say, then it might be better to say nothing.   I found that having something good to say is the best time to offer constructive criticism.  When writing an e-mail, which can prevent harsh words spoken in haste, we ought to read it once or twice before clicking the send button.  We should tone down the harsh sounding words to ensure that the message will be heard.  

Evening Reflection

Only the Lord knows how many words came out of our mouth today.  What are some words that you would like to take back?  What are some words that you ought to repeat tomorrow?  Evaluate your day and pray for wisdom in this area. 

September 13, Monday

REPOST Today’s QT Devotional—first posted on March 11, 2015—is provided by Pastor Yohan Lee, a friend of AMI, who in the past has served as a staff at several AMI churches.  He is a graduate of University of Pennsylvania (BA) and Cairn University (MA).

Devotional Thought for this Morning

“What Wrong with You?”

1 Sam. 15:12

And Samuel rose early to meet Saul in the morning. And it was told Samuel, “Saul came to Carmel, and behold, he set up a monument for himself and turned and passed on and went down to Gilgal.

Every time I read this passage I think, “What is wrong with Saul?  He totally fell off the wagon and is setting up idolatrous images of himself,” similar to Nebuchadnezzar’s statue (Dan. 3) or the golden calf (Ex. 33).  In other words, I start to self-righteously judge Saul, thinking, “I could never do such an idolatrous thing like that.”  But as I read this passage more carefully, I realize that the Bible never says that this monument was supposed to function as a center of idolatry, worshiping Saul.  It simply says a “monument for himself.” It could have simply been a pile of rocks celebrating his victory over the Amalekites.  In that light, I realized that not only do I set up monuments for myself, but our society is preoccupied with self-monuments.  Think about it:  Why do people write their names in wet concrete?  Why do teenagers who are “in love” carve their names together in trees?  Why are Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, etc. so popular?  Why does every architect dream of designing a New York skyscraper?  I could go on and on.  

Maybe I am being too philosophical, but I think our fascination with building monuments has something to do with man’s inner desire to last forever.  We know we are mortal, but we don’t want to be forgotten after we leave this world.  This is not all bad either.  I believe that our desire to last forever stems from the fact that we are made in the image of God who is, among many other things, eternal.  But in the end, I see two shortcomings in Saul in 1 Sam. 15:  First, Saul’s desire to build a monument for himself was based on vanity.  You see this by the way Samuel rebukes him in 15:17: “Though you were once little in your own eyes…”—implication being that Saul was once humble but became self-centered.  Second, Saul wasn’t building an eternal monument.  I challenge anyone to find this monument that Saul set up; you won’t, because it’s long been destroyed.  Of course, we know that there is a place where we can build up treasures or monuments, if you will, that will last forever (Matt. 6), but in order to set up a storehouse there, we cannot think vainly of ourselves.   

This morning ask yourself, am I building up monuments for myself?  If so, how long do you want or think these monuments will last?  Are there monuments that you could be building that will last forever?  Are you willing to give up vain glory to build up these eternal monuments?  

Prayer: Lord, please give me humility of mind and heart, so that I would think of others over myself.  Also, please guard my heart and help me to invest in things that will last forever, namely your kingdom and the souls of men.  Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Matthew 25


Lunch Break Study

Read Phil. 2:3-11: Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. 4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. 5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. 9 Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Questions to Consider

  1. Based on this passage, how would you define humility?
  2. How did Christ model humility for us?
  3. How did God respond?

Notes

  1. We see that humility includes thinking of others more significantly than ourselves and considering other’s needs above our own.  
  2. Christ demonstrated humility by taking the form of man and then letting mankind put him on a cross.  
  3. God lifted Christ up.  Now, every knee will bow and every tongue will confess the Lord.  

Evening Reflection

How much did you think of yourself today?  Did you put the interests and desires of others above yourself?  Did you think about God and did you try to invest in heavenly monuments today?  

September 12, Sunday

UPDATEDToday’s Spiritual Food for Thought, provided by then (2013) staff of Remnant Westside Church in Manhattan, was first posted on September 21, 2013.  

Spiritual Food for Thought for the Weekend

“Being One with the Triune God”

Psalm 89:26-28

He shall cry to me, ‘You are my Father, my God, and the Rock of my salvation.’ 27 And I will make him the firstborn, the highest of the kings of the earth. 28 My steadfast love I will keep for him forever, and my covenant will stand firm for him.

Jesus didn’t just show up into the New Testament out of nowhere; his appearing had long been foretold through messianic prophecies found throughout the Old Testament, like today’s text.  This is a “messianic” text where, in one sense, it depicts a description of David, yet it also points to Jesus as the firstborn of God and the highest of the kings of earth. This is called a Christological understanding of the Old Testament. 

Within these verses, we are given a glimpse of the dynamics between God the Father and Jesus the Son: Jesus declares who the Father is, and the Father exalts the Son. It is humbling and awesome that God would use His relationship with David, an imperfect human, to foreshadow the relationship between the perfect Son and perfect Father. On a side note, that gives us hope that we don’t need to be perfect for God to use us.

The beauty and wonder of the relationship between the Father and the Son is that we are invited to join into that relationship. In John 17, we read Jesus’ high priestly prayer that just as He and the Father are one, that we would be one with them. 

Today, God is reminding us through His Son, that we are invited into that deep, steadfast love relationship with the Father.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, help me to covet constantly my time with You.  May that consist not of isolated events but a tapestry of precious and continuous moments in the presence of the Triune God.  Amen. 

Bible Reading for Today: Matthew 24