April 15, Thursday

REPOST Today’s AMI QT Devotional, provided by Pastor David Kwon who heads Journey Community Church in Raleigh, North Carolina, was first posted on November 25, 2013.  He is a graduate of Drexel University (BS) and Columbia International University (M.Div.).

Devotional Thought for This Morning

“All the Praise, Honor and Glory to Him”

Psalm 114:1-8 (NIV)

When Israel came out of Egypt, Jacob from a people of foreign tongue, 2 Judah became God’s sanctuary, Israel his dominion. 3 The sea looked and fled, the Jordan turned back; 4 the mountains leaped like rams, the hills like lambs. 5 Why was it, sea, that you fled? Why, Jordan, did you turn back? 6 Why, mountains, did you leap like rams, you hills, like lambs? 7 Tremble, earth, at the presence of the Lord, at the presence of the God of Jacob, 8 who turned the rock into a pool, the hard rock into springs of water.

This is a psalm that God’s people would sing at Passover. It tells of God’s deliverance of His people from slavery in Egypt and of his sparing them from the plagues of judgment (particularly the death of the firstborn). As we now know, God’s deliverance of Israel from Egyptian slavery and the Passover celebration (to remember that time) all pointed to Christ’s coming – when God would not only deliver the Israelites, but all of humanity from not mere physical bondage, but spiritual slavery to sin and death. 

The notable element of this praise is that it highlights an appropriate response to the salvific work of God. All of nature yields to the work of God. The sea, river, mountains, and hills all tremble before the Lord and move according to His will. We see this literally displayed when the Red Sea parted before the people of God during the exodus. Likewise the psalmist calls for all of humanity to follow suit and appropriately respond to God’s salvific work in the world. We should tremble before the Lord – in awe of His power and in full submission to the amazing things He’s doing.  

Spend some time in awe of God’s power and salvific work in the world and in your life. Declare His awesome power and mighty deeds!

Prayer: Heavenly Father, we thank You for having done EVERYTHING for us!  Praise You. You are the only One worthy of praise, honor, and glory. Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Jeremiah 36


Lunch Break Study

Read 1 Peter 1:13-21: Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 14 As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, 15 but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, 16 since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” 17 And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one’s deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile, 18 knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. 20 He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for the sake of you 21 who through him are believers in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God. 

Questions to Consider

  1. What does Christ perfect sacrifice give us?
  2. What are the three commands given to us? 
  3. What is your hope set on?

Notes

  1. Christ was the perfect sacrifice giving us freedom from our old ways of sin. Because of Jesus, we are able to live life to the fullest. Peter ends this section by explaining that Jesus came for us. Christ was made known to us so that we may have faith and hope in God. Therefore, we do all these things because of what Christ did for us – not because we’re obligated, but because Jesus makes it possible. Christ died so we could have life to the full! 
  2. (a) Set our hope fully on the grace we receive through Christ: Not merely grace in this life but in the life to come. We have to live with eternal perspective of what God is doing for us through Christ – giving us eternal (b) No longer be conformed to our passions: We should no longer give ourselves over to the desires of our flesh because we are called to be like Jesus (holy). We do this through our obedience to the word of God by the power of the Holy Spirit within us.(c) Conduct ourselves with fear: Instead of living whatever way we want during our time on earth, we live our lives with reverence for God. We do this by being mindful of what He’s done for us through Christ. He sacrificed His own son so that we may have a life free from sin. Our proper response to this is complete devotion (Romans 12:1-2).
  3. Personal response

Evening Reflection

Romans 6:3-4

“Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.

Jesus died as the perfect sacrifice for our sin. For those of us who’ve put our trust in Him, we have died with Christ so that sin no longer has control over us. And we’ve been raised with him, so that we can (through the power of the Spirit within us) live a new life. Take time to reflect on God’s perfect sacrifice. Ask God to help you take full advantage of the new life offered in Christ. 

April 14, Wednesday

REPOST Today’s AMI QT Devotional, provided by Pastor Barry Kang who heads Symphony Church in Boston, was first posted on April 18, 2013.  He is a graduate of Stanford University (BA), Fuller Theological Seminary (M.Div.) and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary (D.Min.). 

Devotional Thought for This Morning

“Don’t Need to Pretend; He Already Knows”

Psalm 38:1-4

All my longings lie open before you, O Lord; my sighing is not hidden from you.

Psalm 38 was written in a time when David was physically ill.  David believed that his suffering was a result of his own sinful choices.   In desperation, he prays in faith to a God who he believes despite the circumstances is loving and merciful.

As an expression of this faith, David cries out to God, “All my longings lie open before you, O Lord; my sighing is not hidden from you.”  In other words, David has laid himself bare before God.  He has opened his heart, sharing every desire and every discouragement.  He has hidden nothing from the Lord, aware that God sees all, anyway.

God knows every longing of our hearts, even our evil desires, and He loves us still!  We don’t have to pretend when we pray.  Rather, we can confidently and freely pray to God, knowing that His acceptance of us is not based upon our goodness but on his grace!

Do you ever try to hide from God?  Why?  What encourages you to open your heart freely and fully to him?   Today, let us go before God in confidence knowing that He knows every longing of our hearts and still invites us to come.

Prayer: Father, I thank You for Your incredible grace.  You know all the longings of my heart.  The ones that give You glory and the ones that are wicked and self-centered.  Yet, in Your grace, You have accepted me and invited me into your presence.  I am now part of Your flock, not because I am worthy, but because You have chosen me in love.  Help me to live in the reassurance that You know every longing of my heart.  Help me to learn to live with You in every moment, seeking to give You more and more glory.  In Jesus’s name, I pray.  Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Jeremiah 35


Lunch Break Study

Read Matthew 6:6-8 (NIV): But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. 7 And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. 8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. 

Questions to Consider

  1. Why does Jesus command us to pray in our rooms?  Is Jesus instituting a rule against public prayer?
  2. Why does Jesus tell us not to “babble like pagans”?
  3. If God knows what we need before we ask him, why do we need to pray at all?
  4. What is the purpose of prayer?

Notes

  1. Jesus is not instituting a rule against public prayer, but rather warning against hypocrisy.  Indeed, every recorded prayer of Jesus in the gospels is a public prayer!  But Jesus knew that when we pray in public, we are in danger of formulating our prayers not for the ears of God but for the ears of other listeners.  Instead, the main purpose of prayer is to communicate with God.  
  2. When we babble like pagans, we speak words without meaning, our lips move but our hearts are empty.  The form and style of our prayers become more important than the content.  Christian prayer is a meaningful communication with God, rather than a meaningless loquacity.  Since God knows what we need even before we ask, we can ask with confidence without trying to impress him or persuade him.  As John Stott writes, “He is neither ignorant, so that we need to instruct him, nor hesitant, so that we need to persuade him. He is our Father—a Father who loves his children and knows all about their needs.”
  3. The first reason to pray is simply that God commands us to pray.  Second, Calvin writes, “‘Believers do not pray with the view of informing God about things unknown to him, or of exciting him to do his duty, or of urging him as though he were reluctant. On the contrary, they pray in order that they may arouse themselves to seek him, that they may exercise their faith in meditating on his promises, that they may relieve themselves from their anxieties by pouring them into his bosom; in a word, that they may declare that from him alone they hope and expect, both for themselves and for others, all good things.”  More succinctly, through prayer we draw nearer to God.  God commands us to do this for our sake, but also because he delights in hearing and answering his children’s requests.  
  4. The purpose of prayer is for us to communicate with God (remember communication goes both ways).  We are not praying primarily to inform God of what is going on in our lives, we pray so that our hearts would become connected to his heart.   We don’t have to impress him with our prayers.  Rather, when we pray, God impresses his will and love on our hearts.

Evening Reflection

How is your prayer life?  What goes through your mind when you pray?  Has God been working on your heart today?  What has he been saying to you?  

April 13, Tuesday

REPOST Today’s Spiritual Food for Thought, written by Pastor Sam Lee who leads Catalyst Agape Church in Northern New Jersey, was first posted on July 30, 2014.  He is a graduate of University of Wisconsin (BA) and Biblical Theological Seminary (M.Div.).

Devotional Thought for This Morning

“When Suffering Comes Our Way . . .”

1 Peter 4:12-13

Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 13 But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. 14 If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. 15 If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler. 16 However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name.

What does it mean here, the “Spirit of glory and of God rest on you”? From the context, it clearly means that the glory of God is revealed when we know how to suffer for righteousness. If suffering comes as a result of leading a sinful life, than this person is receiving what he deserves. There are people living and embracing unrighteousness, yet they get upset at God for their suffering.  Instead of getting upset, they need to humble themselves and repent. But on the other hand, there is a special glory that comes upon a believer when suffering for the sake of Christ and His Kingdom.                                                                                                                                                                 

In oppressive countries today, thousands and thousands are suffering because they will not deny Christ. They are being persecuted for the simple reason of wanting to worship the Lord. People are being disowned for their faith. The Bible says that those who are suffering for Christ, the glory of God is upon them: There is no shame or condemnation, but a badge of honor, and there is rejoicing instead of disgrace.  

This indeed is a sobering thought to many of us in the West who complain to God at the slightest inconvenience.   So, let us be thankful while praying for those who are being persecuted right now for the sake of upholding the honorable name of Jesus Christ.

Prayer: Merciful Lord, I lift up my heart to you in my suffering. No matter what happens, I will put my trust in you. Remember me, my Lord and Savior!  Amen.

Bible Reading for Today:Jeremiah 34


Lunch Break Study

Read Romans 8:28: And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

Questions to Consider

  1. Romans 8:28 says that God will work for the good for those who love him. How can you practically show that you love God in the crisis you are facing currently?
  2. How can God use the crisis in your life to prepare you for your calling and purpose? 

Notes

  1. Instead of complaining, we can thank God for allowing trials in our lives for our own good, as well as not allowing something worse.
  2. There is nothing like crisis and trials to build character in us without which we aren’t likely to finish well.

Evening Reflection

Let’s stop listening to what the crisis in your life is “saying” to you.  But spend some time listening to what God is saying to you.

April 12, Monday

REPOST Today’s AMI QT Devotional, provided by Pastor David Kwon who heads Journey Community Church in Raleigh, North Carolina, was first posted on November 20, 2013.  He is a graduate of Drexel University (BS) and Columbia International University (M.Div.).

Devotional Thought for This Morning 

“A Brutally Honest Psalm of David”

Psalm 109:1-31

[1] Be not silent, O God of my praise!

[2] For wicked and deceitful mouths are opened against me, speaking against me with lying tongues.

[3] They encircle me with words of hate, and attack me without cause.

[4] In return for my love they accuse me, but I give myself to prayer.

[5] So they reward me evil for good, and hatred for my love.

[6] Appoint a wicked man against him; let an accuser stand at his right hand.

[7] When he is tried, let him come forth guilty; let his prayer be counted as sin!

[8] May his days be few; may another take his office!

[9] May his children be fatherless and his wife a widow!

[10] May his children wander about and beg, seeking food far from the ruins they inhabit!

[11] May the creditor seize all that he has; may strangers plunder the fruits of his toil!

[12] Let there be none to extend kindness to him, nor any to pity his fatherless children!

[13] May his posterity be cut off; may his name be blotted out in the second generation!

[14] May the iniquity of his fathers be remembered before the LORD, and let not the sin of his mother be blotted out!

[15] Let them be before the LORD continually, that he may cut off the memory of them from the earth!

[16] For he did not remember to show kindness, but pursued the poor and needy and the brokenhearted, to put them to death.

[17] He loved to curse; let curses come upon him! He did not delight in blessing; may it be far from him!

[18] He clothed himself with cursing as his coat; may it soak into his body like water, like oil into his bones!

[19] May it be like a garment that he wraps around him, like a belt that he puts on every day!

[20] May this be the reward of my accusers from the LORD, of those who speak evil against my life!

[21] But you, O GOD my Lord, deal on my behalf for your name’s sake; because your steadfast love is good, deliver me!

[22] For I am poor and needy, and my heart is stricken within me.

[23] I am gone like a shadow at evening; I am shaken off like a locust.

[24] My knees are weak through fasting; my body has become gaunt, with no fat.

[25] I am an object of scorn to my accusers; when they see me, they wag their heads.

[26] Help me, O LORD my God! Save me according to your steadfast love!

[27] Let them know that this is your hand; you, O LORD, have done it!

[28] Let them curse, but you will bless! They arise and are put to shame, but your servant will be glad!

[29] May my accusers be clothed with dishonor; may they be wrapped in their own shame as in a cloak!

[30] With my mouth I will give great thanks to the LORD; I will praise him in the midst of the throng.

[31] For he stands at the right hand of the needy one, to save him from those who condemn his soul to death.

Some psalms are soothing, such as Psalm 23 and others, like Psalm 91, are comforting. And then there are soul-stirring psalms, which inspire us to worship and praise, such as Psalm 103.  But Psalm 109, composed by David, is very troubling to most because it is perhaps the strongest imprecatory psalm in the psalter. (Imprecatory is praying for or calling down curse on one’s enemies.)   Here, David calls upon God to destroy his enemies in the most horrible ways; he not only seeks the punishment of his enemy but also the painful consequences brought on his family (9-10): “May his children be fatherless and his wife a widow! May his children wander about and beg, seeking food far from the ruins they inhabit!”

Suffice it to say, this is a brutally honest psalm composed by a very upset David. 

The problem we face in Psalm 109 is not restricted to this psalm, however.  Other Psalms contain similar prayers for the punishment of evildoers (27-28): “Add to them punishment upon punishment; may they have no acquittal from you. Let them be blotted out of the book of the living; let them not be enrolled among the righteous” (Psalm 69:27-28).

So what can we learn from this Psalm?   Here are a few lessons that we can meditate on this morning:

  • God is the one who deals on our behalf (v.21) – David is saying, “Save me so that you may be known as a God who is on the side of the righteous and against evildoers.”  Remember that for all the wrongs and evil in this world (and those who have wronged you), it is up to the Lord to deal with them, not us.
  • We are weak but God is strong (v.22) – In appealing to God for help, we are confessing our utterly weak and helpless condition.
  • God’s steadfast love (vv.26-29) –The final grounds for appeal is God’s love; that He is both willing and able to do to help the psalmist.  David’s enemies may curse, but God who loves to bless His people, will surely bless them and put their accusers to shame (vv.28-29).

Prayer: Heavenly Father, help me to love my enemies.  In the meantime, let Your justice be meted out against the wicked according to Your righteousness.  Amen.   

Bible Reading for Today: Jeremiah 33


Lunch Break Study

Read Ephesians 4:25-32: Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another. [26] Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, [27] and give no opportunity to the devil. [28] Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need. [29] Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. [30] And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. [31] Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. [32] Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

Questions for Thought

  1. What does Paul say about anger?
  2. What should make us angry?  
  3. How does anger play in your daily life?  Does it cause you not to forgive others?  If so, why?

Notes

  1. Jesus’ perfect example proves that being angry, in and of itself, is not sinful (John 2:13–17). Even though it may be difficult for fallen people to remain righteous in our anger, it is possible to be angry without transgressing God’s law. In fact, the New Testament tells us not only that it is possible to be angry without sinning, but that we must get angry at times. 
  2. The exploitation of the weak and helpless should arouse our outrage, for the Lord’s anger is directed at the oppressors (Ex. 22:21–24). Since Jesus’ wrath was directed at hypocrites, we must also be angry with ourselves and with others when it is clear that our words do not match our deeds. This is Paul’s point in Ephesians 4:25–32.
  3. Due to our fallenness, we are prone to sin when we are angry, so we must always check our hearts to make sure our anger is an expression of righteousness. If we are angry without a just cause, we give Satan an opportunity to destroy lives and reputations (v. 27). Human beings can abuse any legitimate emotion, especially anger, so we must also set it aside as soon as we can (v. 31). Our anger may be godly and righteous at the start, but it can be easily warped into a grudge and malicious designs instead of hoping for the offender to repent. 

How are you doing with anger these days?  Is there any unrighteous anger in your life?  Ask the Lord that anger would be put away and you would be able to freely forgive others in your life.  


Evening Reflection

Joshua 19: The meditation for today focuses on our horizontal relationship with others.  As you think about the relationships in your life, ask yourself:

  • Are there people I need to forgive?
  • Am I harboring anger or bitterness toward others?
  • Have I not been as loving as I ought to a particular person?

Take some time and lift up those people in your circle of relationships.  Ask the Lord for forgiveness or greater love for the people in your life.  

April 11, Sunday

REPOST Today’s AMI QT Devotional, provided by Pastor Yohan Lee, a friend of AMI, was first posted on September 14, 2014.  A graduate of University of Pennsylvania (BA) and Cairn University (MA), Yohan served as a staff at several AMI churches in the past. 

Spiritual Food for Thought for the Weekend

“Silence”

Eccles. 6:11

“The more the words, the less the meaning, and how does that profit anyone?” (NIV)

The other day, my wife and I were out to dinner at one of those restaurants that puts a premium on space; in other words, we were about 14 inches away from the table next to us.  Although we do not particularly like being that close to random strangers, the seating arrangement did allow us to play a game of “Guess their Relationship”- trying to guess a pair’s status, based on the results of eavesdropping on conversations and observing things like dress and body language.  The couple next to us seemed to be trying too hard; and then there was another couple who were clearly out for the first time with their new baby girl. (Mom and dad seemed totally uneasy and unfocused.)

If the couple next to us were to have played “Guess their Relationship” on us, they probably would have thought we were going through marriage difficulties.  First of all, I wasn’t wearing my wedding ring (I might have misplaced it); second, we both kept checking our phones (we were waiting for important emails); and third and most incriminating, there were frequent periods of silence (no excuses here).  

Our society is uncomfortable with silence.  Think about where you would go if you wanted silence: probably a church or a library, but that’s about it.  Even the coffee shop, where I am writing this devotional, constantly needs to play background music.  The truth is that minimizing words and disciplining the tongue is a virtue that very few of us have cultivated (not even shy introverts), but the Bible does have much to say on the virtue of silence: “…but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God” (James 3:8-9); “When words are many, transgression is not lacking” (Prov. 10:19); and, of course, today’s devotional verse.  

Richard Foster’s chapter on solitude (silence’s first cousin) in his classic work, The Celebration of Discipline, makes the point that if we are too busy talking, then we might miss out on hearing God.  Hearing God feels like the best reason to keep silent to me.  This day, do your best to say only what needs to be said.  Then try to take time, five minutes, ten minutes, or even an hour, to sit in silence and listen to God; you know that he doesn’t speak unless he has something important to say.  

Prayer: Dear Lord, help me to measure my words.  Teach me to be silent before You, that I might sense what You are speaking to my heart.  Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Jeremiah 32

April 10, Saturday

REPOST Today’s AMI QT Devotional is a reprint of Kate Moon’s blog originally posted on December 27, 2014.  Kate continues to serve the Lord in E. Asia. 

Spiritual Food for Thought for the Weekend

“Justice for the Poor”

Proverbs 29:7

“The righteous care about justice for the poor, but the wicked have no such concern.”

When was the last time you thought about justice for the poor?  What would it mean to have this kind of concern?  If this kind of concern is a quality of the righteous, is it something we need to be more intentional about cultivating?

One of the great things about the holiday season is that there is often a heightened awareness regarding helping those less fortunate.  At Thanksgiving, there are concerted efforts to provide food for the hungry.  As the weather gets colder, we donate coats and blankets.  At Christmas, we especially remember the children. I remember one year participating in sending gifts to children of incarcerated parents; I had never thought there could be this kind of need, but on hearing about the program, I realized, of course it would be difficult for a parent in jail to send a gift to his or her child, though they may very much wish they could.

In addition to physical or material needs, today we are reminded of another need that the poor have – the need for justice.  The poor are more easily taken advantage of as they have fewer resources to defend themselves or even fight for the same chances.  I once heard about wealthy parents who arranged for their child to spend time helping out at an orphanage they supported financially.  I was impressed that they were teaching their child such values until I later heard that these same parents were considering bribing the child into the college of their choice, never thinking about the inconsistency of how this meant that their child may be unfairly taking the spot of the more qualified orphans from the very institution they supported who were applying to the same college. 

In light of such things happening in our society, how can we, the righteous in Christ Jesus, be more concerned about the injustices that the poor can suffer?  It is a challenge for the majority of us who are far removed from such circumstances, whether physically by the neighborhoods in which we live, or socio-economically by the circles in which we move.  Because we don’t see the poor literally, it is harder for us to see them metaphorically, to see their needs and to care.

Though it is a challenge, as the Bible tells us that this is a quality that the righteous have, let’s consider today what we can do to cultivate this kind of concern.  Let’s consider what we can do.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, give me a heart for the poor.  Help me to have compassion for the lowly and the downtrodden.  Amen. 

Bible Reading for Today: Jeremiah 30-31

April 9, Friday

REPOST Today’s AMI QT Devotional, provided by Pastor Ryun Chang (AMI Teaching Pastor), was first posted on February 3, 2014.

Devotional Thought for This Morning 

“When Things Go from Bad to Worse”

Malachi 1:1-2

“The oracle of the word of the Lord to Israel by Malachi.‘I have loved you,’ says the Lord.  But you say, ‘How have you loved us?’” 

The truth is, when things go from bad to worse, the mature people as well as the immature wonder, “If God really loves me, how could he stay aloof?”  But while the immature may complain aloud for the whole world to hear, the mature would say it when no one is around, or if they are married, only to their spouse.  As a young pastor, I remember wondering aloud, while standing alone by the church’s porch, whether God was still with me after another discouraging service that was poorly attended.  

Here, when the Israelites were told how God loves them, they retorted, “How have you loved us?”  Some parents know how stinging that comment can be, having been told that by their children.  Of course, kids are known to question their parents’ love whenever they aren’t allowed to do this or eat that, while forgetting all that they have received.  Frustrated parents typically resort to reminding them of all the things they have done for them, which leaves a sour taste in their mouth. 

Sadly, we do the same to God by focusing on what we don’t have rather than what we have received from Him.  We should be better than that since we have known the Lord for a long time, right?  Maybe not.  After all, these Israelites should have known better since they were the only people in the world to whom God personally spoke through the prophets for 1,400 years.  There wasn’t going to be any more revelation from God after Malachi’s passing, yet they still acted like pouting children who demand proof of their parents’ love for them.   And that sums up what humans—mature or immature—are truly like: wholly ungrateful fuelled by selective memories. 

Ultimately, God, unlike the annoyed parents who rattle off their good deeds to justify themselves before the ungrateful children, will simply point to the Cross wherein is expressed His greatest love for us.  It is there that all our complaint, pouting, and grumbling come to a stop because we see clearly that none deserves such love.   Should this day turn out to be really bad, it can never be that bad because of the Cross.  As you start this day, isn’t it great that you already have a good day in Christ.   So, share that good news with someone.

Prayer: Lord, I know I complain whenever things do not go my way; sometimes, I even blame you.  I suppose you won’t believe me if I vow that I will never do that again, right?  But God, it’s never about my resolution but your persistent love for me that will change me little by little.  Thank you.  How I praise you and enjoy your amazing grace.  Amen. 

Bible Reading for Today:  Jeremiah 29


Lunch Break Study

Read Malachi 1:2b-4: “Is not Esau Jacob’s brother?” declares the Lord. “Yet I have loved Jacob 3 but Esau I have hated.  I have laid waste his hill country and left his heritage to jackals of the desert.” 4 If Edom says, “We are shattered but we will rebuild the ruins,” the Lord of hosts says, “They may build, but I will tear down, and they will be called ‘the wicked country,’ and ‘the people with whom the Lord is angry forever.’” 5 

Obadiah 1:11-2: “ On the day that [Edomites] stood aloof, on the day that strangers carried off his wealth and foreigners entered his gates and cast lots for Jerusalem, you were like one of them. 12 But do not gloat over the day of your brother in the day of his misfortune; do not rejoice over the people of Judah in the day of their ruin; do not boast in the day of distress.”

Rom. 9:10b-3: . . . when Rebekah had conceived children by one man, our forefather Isaac, 11 though they were not yet born and had done nothing either good or bad—in order that God’s purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of him who calls— 12 she was told, “The older will serve the younger.” 13 As it is written, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.”

Questions to Consider

  1. How does God respond to the pouting Israelites?  (Remember, since they lived long before the appearance of Christ, God couldn’t simply point to the Cross as alluded in the morning.)
  2. What was so “wicked” about the sin of Edomites committed against their brother-tribe Israel?
  3. What is one practical lesson we can learn from what made God indignant against Edom (1 Thess. 5:15; Prov. 24:17-8)?

Notes

  1. God reminds the Israelites (from Jacob) that they had been chosen over the Edomites (from Esau), not because they deserved it but simply because God, in His grace, elected to do so.  He also reminds them how the Edomites were punished because of their sin against Israel. 
  2. When Israel was being attacked by her enemies, Edom refused to help out; in fact, they gloated over what was happening to their close kin; they even joined in. (“You were like one of them.”)
  3. We should “not rejoice when your enemy falls, and let not your heart be glad when he stumbles, lest the Lord see it and be displeased, and turn away his anger from him” (Prov. 24:17-8). Rather, “make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always try to be kind to each other and to everyone else” (1 Thess. 5:15), even those whom we dislike or who are our competitions. 

Evening Reflection

A day goes by so fast, with so many things happening, including things that make us lose our peace, often leading to complaining.  What happened today?   Regardless, end it with a prayer of thanksgiving. 

April 8, Thursday

REPOST Today’s AMI QT Devotional, provided by Pastor Ryun Chang (AMI Teaching Pastor), was first posted on January 27, 2014.

Devotional Thought for This Morning

“Let’s Pretend that He Stole $20 from Me as Well”

Philem. 1:18-9

“If he has done you any wrong or owes you anything, charge it to me. 19 I, Paul, am writing this with my own hand. I will pay it back—not to mention that you owe me your very self.”

Tony was livid; someone had stolen $40 from his locker.  Though this young Christian saw it as a very bad day, I saw an opportunity to teach him two valuable lessons.  So I said to him, “I will give you $20, and let’s pretend that this guy stole $20 from you and me each.  Then, I’ll have the same reason to be upset at the thief as you do, right?”  Somewhat following my logic, he responded, “Yeah,” at which point I said, “But I forgive him.  And I will pray that this guy, feeling bad about his misdeed, seeks God’s forgiveness.”  After some 25 years, I still think that $20 was worth the investment to impress a valuable lesson on this young believer’s heart.

Now, the difference between my story and Paul’s is that the apostle is covering for the thief. In Les Misērable, Valjean steals the Bishop’s silverware; Onesimus, I am sure, pilfered things just as valuable.   In the novel, this Bishop covers for Valjean, now under police custody, by pretending that the valuables were given to him.  Perhaps, the author Victor Hugo was inspired by what Paul does here for Onesimus: “Whatever he stole, ‘charge it to me . . ., I will pay it back.”  In so doing, the apostle “covers over a multitude of sins” (1 Pet. 4:8) of a runaway slave, who “became [his] son while [he] was in chains” (Philem. 1:10).  

That realization, then, leads to the second lesson: seeing a glimpse of the substitionary death of Christ who, having no sin, took on ours to pay for its penalty, instead of us.  I partially took the loss of the young man and paid for it with my money; Paul was willing to take the entire blame for what Onesimus did and pay for it with his own money as well.  That’s as closest as we can get to what Christ actually did for us, “so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Cor. 5:21).  

Cover for someone today; afterwards, tell that person how Jesus has done the same for all of us. 

Prayer: Father, while I’m thankful for what You have done for me, I often find that I am not living the life that I should be living.  I hoard rather than share; hold grudges than forgive; condemn than accept.  Forgive me, but at the same, jolt me to action so that I would share, forgive, and accept, just as Christ did for me.    Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Jeremiah 28


Lunch Break Study

Read 1 Samuel 20:30-4: “Saul’s anger flared up at Jonathan and he said to him, ‘You son of a perverse and rebellious woman! Don’t I know that you have sided with the son of Jesse to your own shame and to the shame of the mother who bore you? 31 As long as the son of Jesse lives on this earth, neither you nor your kingdom will be established. Now send someone to bring him to me, for he must die!’ 32 ‘Why should he be put to death? What has he done?’ Jonathan asked his father. 33 But Saul hurled his spear at him to kill him. Then Jonathan knew that his father intended to kill David. 34 Jonathan got up from the table in fierce anger; on that second day of the feast he did not eat, because he was grieved at his father’s shameful treatment of David.”

Questions to Consider

  1. Actually, what Jonathan did for his friend David, an outlaw to his father, is similar to what Paul did for Onesimus.  What binds these men together?
  2. What’s involved when a friend tries to cover for an innocent person (David) or someone who needs an opportunity for redemption (Onesimus)?
  3. How would David and Onesimus have felt being on the recipient end of this kind of love?  Have you ever experienced it?  

Notes

  1. Both were covering for the people whom they loved.  Instead of being indifferent or uncaring, they went out of their ways to ensure that they were not harmed. 
  2. Such kind of friendship or relationship does not materialize without the willingness to pay the cost on behalf of the other person.  Paul was willing to lose a significant amount of money; Jonathan was willing to lose his life.  Thus, Jesus said in John 15:13, “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”  After saying that, Christ would soon put that into practice. 
  3. They would have felt a sense of gratitude and also determination to prove to their benefactors that they did not make a mistake by vouching for them.  It would be an added incentive to do right. 

Evening Reflection

Did you have a blessed day?  Maybe it wasn’t so great.  At least, you can go to sleep knowing that nothing really changed: God still loves you, Jesus’ death still forgives you, and tomorrow, the Lord willing, you will have another opportunity to make a difference for God’s kingdom.  Journal it before turning in. 

April 7, Wednesday

REPOST Today’s AMI QT Devotional, provided by then (2013) staff of Remnant Westside Church in Manhattan, was first posted on September 23, 2013.  

Devotional Thought for This Morning 

“Remember This When You Question God’s Faithfulness”

Psalm 89:38-52

But now you have cast off and rejected; you are full of wrath against your anointed. 39 You have renounced the covenant with your servant; you have defiled his crown in the dust. 40 You have breached all his walls; you have laid his strongholds in ruins. 41 All who pass by plunder him; he has become the scorn of his neighbors. 42 You have exalted the right hand of his foes;    you have made all his enemies rejoice. 43 You have also turned back the edge of his sword,   and you have not made him stand in battle. 44 You have made his splendor to cease and cast his throne to the ground. 45 You have cut short the days of his youth; you have covered him with shame. Selah 46 How long, O Lord? Will you hide yourself forever? How long will your wrath burn like fire? 47 Remember how short my time is! For what vanity you have created all the children of man! 48 What man can live and never see death? Who can deliver his soul from the power of Sheol? Selah 49 Lord, where is your steadfast love of old, which by your faithfulness you swore to David? 50 Remember, O Lord, how your servants are mocked, and how I bear in my heart the insults of all the many nations, 51 with which your enemies mock, O Lord, with which they mock the footsteps of your anointed. 52 Blessed be the Lord forever! Amen and Amen.

Psalm 89 concludes on a note of anguish and despair. The psalmist mentions rejection, desolation, and defeat. His surety of God’s covenant with the line of David now seems dubious. While he previously proclaimed that God would not violate His covenant, yet here we see him declare that God has renounced the covenant. But even in the midst of despair and anguish, the psalmist is not hopeless; he calls on God to remember His servants. The psalmist even ends with a note of praise.

While it may seem audacious for us to ask God to remember us, we find the psalmist crying out to God in this manner. What do we make of this?  Certainly we are not asking  God to remember because He forgets, but rather, it is akin to declaring to God to take action according to the truth of who He is; it is a faith declaration that God will show himself to be who He said He is. 

There are times when our situations and circumstances make us question the heart, will, and desire of God in our lives. In those moments, call out to God to remember who He is and what He said He will do. Hold onto the promises of God as seen in His Word.


Lunch Break Study

Read Philippians 3:17-4:1: Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us. 18 For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. 19 Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things. 20 But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.4:1 Therefore, my brothers, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm thus in the Lord, my beloved.

Questions to Consider

  1. Nobody is perfect; we all know that. So, if someone asks the question, “How can I know how to live for God?”, how would you answer? 
  2. Do you have a spiritual mentor? Are there brothers or sisters whose examples you can follow as you seek to live for the Lord?
  3. Are there “earthly things” that have laid hold of your heart? How can you set your eyes on things above?

Notes

  1. It would seem somewhat arrogant to say, “Well, just imitate me.” That’s what Paul does here, but not in a prideful boastful way. He is just stating explicitly what we implicitly know: that what we see is what we do. It’s not a question of whether or not we should follow an example, but rather, we should ask ourselves, whose example are we following?
  2. If you don’t have one, you really should find someone who is mature in faith who can encourage your walk with God.
  3. Paul’s simple suggestion: “Flee the evil desires of youth” (2 Tim. 2:2).

Prayer: Heavenly Father, You have been my comforter even when I didn’t recognize You. Continue to be my comforter now and always, Almighty God, for You delight in being compassionate and bringing comfort to Your children.  Thank You. Amen.                                                                                  

Bible Reading for Today: Jeremiah 27


Evening Reflection

Isaiah 49:13: Sing for joy, O heavens, and exult, O earth; break forth, O mountains, into singing!   For the Lord has comforted his people and will have compassion on his afflicted.”

Tell the Lord of your desire to always be open and to be aware of the Holy Spirit’s comforting love.  It brings much pleasure to the Lord when we perceive Him rightly, knowing that He will fight and give everything for your future in accordance to His will.

April 6, Tuesday

REPOST Today’s AMI QT Devotional, written by the then (2013) staff of Kairos Christian Church in San Diego, was first posted on July 27, 2013.

Devotional Thought for This Morning

“What Do You Find Security In?  

Psalm 79:1-13

O God, the nations have invaded your inheritance; they have defiled your holy temple, they have reduced Jerusalem to rubble. 2 They have given the dead bodies of your servants as food to the birds of the air, the flesh of your saints to the beasts of the earth. 3 They have poured out blood like water all around Jerusalem, and there is no one to bury the dead. 4 We are objects of reproach to our neighbors, of scorn and derision to those around us. 5 How long, O Lord? Will you be angry forever? How long will your jealousy burn like fire? 6 Pour out your wrath on the nations that do not acknowledge you, on the kingdoms that do not call on your name; 7 for they have devoured Jacob and destroyed his homeland. 8 Do not hold against us the sins of the fathers; may your mercy come quickly to meet us, for we are in desperate need. 9 Help us, O God our Savior, for the glory of your name; deliver us and forgive our sins for your name’s sake. 10 Why should the nations say, “Where is their God?” Before our eyes, make known among the nations that you avenge the outpoured blood of your servants. 11 May the groans of the prisoners come before you; by the strength of your arm preserve those condemned to die. 12 Pay back into the laps of our neighbors seven times the reproach they have hurled at you, O Lord. 13 Then we your people, the sheep of your pasture, will praise you forever; from generation to generation we will recount your praise.

What do you find security in?  Maybe you find security in your job, your position at work; maybe you find security in your spouse, friendship, or some other relationship; maybe you find security in your wealth, or the wealth of your family.  Whatever it may be, most of us have something that brings us security, satisfaction, and identity.  

Of course, for many of us, our security is in God.  It was God for the Jews too.  But the place where God dwelled, where God manifested his love and grace, where they worshipped God- which was the temple- was destroyed.  Can you imagine how the Jews must have felt?  It was devastating.  The place where they found security was destroyed.  They must have felt afraid, alone, and betrayed.  

How could God allow this?  It’s interesting how the psalmist responds to this.  In the midst of all this, he still calls on God to show up, to get revenge.  Also, he still has the heart to worship God in the midst of losing the temple.  That is faith; that is having a deep connection with God. 

Maybe right now you’re struggling with the same thing that this psalmist and the other Jews were facing.  Maybe you’ve lost something that you had security in, something that brought you a lot of satisfaction.  If that’s you, I encourage you to call on your Father to show up, to reveal His power so that you and the Body can worship God.

Prayer: Father, I confess that sometimes I find myself angry toward You because of the condition of life.  I call and ask You to show up and help me.  Fill my heart with the assurance that Your will for my life is better than what I had planned.  I praise You in advance for what You will do in my life.  Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Jeremiah 26


Lunch Break Study

Read James 5:7-9 (NIV): Be patient, then, brothers and sisters, until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop, patiently waiting for the autumn and spring rains. 8 You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near. 9 Don’t grumble against one another, brothers and sisters, or you will be judged. The Judge is standing at the door!

Questions to Consider

  1. How are the believers to respond to the oppressions by those in power and influence? 
  2. What is the character of God that is revealed in these passages?
  3. Ask God for patience to persevere in the face of oppression, injustice, and unfairness. Rather than grumble and complain, fix your gaze on Jesus who is the Judge over such matters. 

Notes

  1. Believers are to respond with godly patience even as a farmer waits for the harvest that is surely coming in due time. They are to not fall into grumbling and complaining to others; rather they are to stand firm, waiting for the Lord’s judgment over oppression. 
  2. In these passages, God is again revealed as the Judge, particularly over oppression and injustice. As James had written in 4:12, God is the one who establishes what is right in life as well as punishing the wrong and evildoers of this world. 
  3. Personal response

Evening Reflection

Reflect on the blood of Jesus Christ which allows us to meet God’s presence and worship Him.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, I ask that You generously give me patience and wisdom in the face of my oppressions. Help me to stop complaining and rather look to You and wait upon You as the Judge over these matters. Amen.