October 27, Thursday

REPOST Today’s AMI QT Devotional, first posted on October 27, 2016, is provided by Andy Kim who is an associate pastor at Radiance Christian Church in San Francisco.  Andy is a graduate of Northwestern University (B.S.) and Fuller Theological Seminary (M.Div.).

Devotional Thought for This Morning

“Life in the Present”

Hebrews 4:7

God again set a certain day, calling it “Today.” This he did when a long time later he spoke through David, as in the passage already quoted: “Today, if you hear his voice do not harden your hearts.”

Growing up with a sister, I was always jealous of her being the older one. So I remember how I couldn’t wait to become a teenager like her, so I could hang out later and drive around with my friends. Then when I became a teenager, I couldn’t wait for college and be out of the house. In college, I couldn’t wait to start working and making my own money. Even in the small tasks in life, whether it was racing to the shortest line at the store or the fastest lane in traffic, I lacked the ability to be in the present. Sadly, this mentality began to manifest itself in my spiritual journey as well. For many of us, we can become so focused on tomorrow, that we struggle to be in the present. More importantly, we miss out on how God is speaking to us— today.

But the writer in this passage speaks about “Today.”  In fact, the writer uses the word “Today”five times as he emphasizes the future promises that are in store for those who believe. C.S. Lewis reconciles how we are to properly understand being in the present while looking toward the future: “God would therefore have them continually concerned either with eternity or with the Present–either meditating on their eternal union with, or separation from, Himself, or else obeying the present voice of conscience, bearing the present cross, receiving the present grace, giving thanks for the present pleasure.” 

As C.S. Lewis states, the only future that we focus on is what awaits us in eternity. Until then, we are to seek to experience His presence in our lives—today. The future tempts us with its worries and even dreams, but may we be anchored in God’s faithfulness today. As He taught the Israelites through the gathering of manna, to experience God’s provision daily, may we be thankful for what God has in store for us today. For the present blessings are only the guarantees and glimpses of what’s to come in eternity. 

Prayer: Father, give us this day, our daily bread. Soften our hearts so that we may be able to hear You speaking to us today. Help us to be faithful with what is given to us today.  Thank You for Your mercies that are new every morning for us.  Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: 2 Chronicles 14


Lunch Break Study

Read Exodus 33:15-18: Then Moses said to him, “If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here. 16 How will anyone know that you are pleased with me and with your people unless you go with us? What else will distinguish me and your people from all the other people on the face of the earth?” 17 And the Lord said to Moses, “I will do the very thing you have asked, because I am pleased with you and I know you by name.”18 Then Moses said, “Now show me your glory.”

Questions to Consider

  1. What is Moses’ contention with God in this passage?
  2. What is the significance of God’s presence to Moses?
  3. How can we apply this in our lives?

Notes

  1. The context of the passage is that Moses is wondering if the Israelites would face the judgment of their disobedience. God responds by saying that they would indeed enter the Promised Land. However, Moses in his conviction says he would rather not go unless God’s presence went with them, even after 40 years of wandering in the dessert. Moses found God’s presence more valuable.  
  2. In v.16, we see that God’s presence is the affirmation that God is pleased with us. God’s presence is also what separates the Israelites from all other nations. God’s presence becomes the prerequisite for God’s glory to be revealed to Moses. 
  3. Many times, we will focus our eyes and thoughts on what’s ahead of us. However, waiting for God’s presence is more important than any other next ‘thing’ in life.

Evening Reflection

Spend some time reflecting on where you are right now. Is there something that you are waiting for—a new season, a new promotion, or a new relationship? Whatever it may be, may we have the same heart as Moses had, to value and wait for His presence more than what is next. Spend some time seeking His presence right here in this moment. 

October 26, Wednesday

REPOST Today’s AMI Devotional Thought, first posted on  October 5, 2016, is provided by Pastor Yohan Lee, now 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

“Recognizing God’s Voice in Our lives”

John 20:14-16

Having said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing, but she did not know that it was Jesus. 15 Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” 16 Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned and said to him in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means Teacher). 

Just about every day, my wife and I lament at the rate our children are growing.  Truthfully, I wouldn’t want to keep them at seven, five, and three years of age forever, but I would like to freeze them like this for another five years or so.  One of the things I find most cute about them is their voices—little kids have really high pitched voices.  But what’s interesting is that even after countless conversations and spending almost every day of their lives with them, I often find it difficult to distinguish their voices.  So when I am away, and I call home, I generally have to ask who I’m speaking with (don’t tell my 7-year old son this; he’d be crushed to know that his voice is just as high and girly sounding as his 5-year old sister’s).  

In the complete opposite vein, I am touched by Mary’s ability to recognize the Lord once He called her name.  Sure, it took her a moment, but when Jesus said, “Mary,” something in her heart was triggered to the Lord’s presence, for this was probably not the first time Mary had heard Jesus call her name or listened to the sound of His voice.  Undoubtedly, Mary had heard Jesus speak many times; she had spent many hours listening to him and had come to love the sound of His calling.  So when Jesus called her name, she was immediately able to distinguish His voice from all the others she had heard that day.  

Many times people will ask me how they can distinguish God’s voice from all the other voices they might hear (mainly their own minds telling them this or that).  Well, part of that involves getting familiar with God’s voice; spending time in His presence and obeying when you think it might be Him.  And yes, sometimes it’s trial and error; but after a few weeks, months, years, of learning to listen and walking in faith, I have no doubt that when Christ calls your name, you too will be able to recognize His voice.  

Prayer: Heavenly Father, I know that You speak, so please do so in my life.  Help me to love Your presence and the sound of Your voice.  Help me distinguish Your voice and promptings, from the voices of the world, friends, or even my own mind and desires. Amen. 

Bible Reading for Today:  2 Chronicles 13


Lunch Break Study

Read Matt. 7:7-11: “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. 9 Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? 11 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!

Questions to Consider

1. What does Christ say about the one who asks or knocks on the door?  What has preventedyou from asking in the past?

2.  What was Jesus’ point with the bread-stone and fish-serpent illustrations?  Do you view your Heavenly Father as good and generous?

3. What are some things for which you should pray and ask?

Notes

1.  Sometimes we lack because we have not asked (see also James 1:5).  Christ indicates thatGod’s nature is more generous than stingy.  So if it is guidance, provision, help, etc., we should be more willing to ask.  

2. Jesus’ point is made clear in v. 11 that even evil people know how to give good gifts to their children.  So how much more is God, who is good, willing to give to His children?  The question is: Do you truly believe God is good, or, do you kind of think He is out to get you?  

3. Obviously, it’s a personal question, but think of some things you were too afraid or embarrassed to ask in the past.   


Evening Reflection

This morning we touched on learning to hear God’s voice (or leadings).  In the afternoon, we talked about our generous God.  As we link these ideas together this evening, try asking for God’s guidance or direction on a matter with which you’ve been struggling.  Remember, when Jesus tells us to ask and knock, He is also talking about guidance for His children.  

October 25, Tuesday

REPOST Today’s AMI QT Devotional, provided by Pastor Ryun Chang (AMI Teaching Pastor), was first posted on February 26, 2015

Devotional Thought for This Morning

“‘Do You Really Want God to be Fair?’ Careful What You Wish For”

Matt. 20:1-16 (NIV) 

“For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire workers for his vineyard. [2] He agreed to pay them a denarius for the day and sent them into his vineyard. [3] About nine in the morning he went out and saw others standing in the marketplace doing nothing. [4] He told them, ‘You also go and work in my vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.’ [5] So they went.  He went out again about noon and about three in the afternoon and did the same thing. [6] About five in the afternoon he went out and found still others standing around. He asked them, ‘Why have you been standing here all day long doing nothing?’ [7] ‘Because no one has hired us,’ they answered.  He said to them, ‘You also go and work in my vineyard.’ [8] When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, ‘Call the workers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last ones hired and going on to the first.’ [9] The workers who were hired about five in the afternoon came and each received a denarius. [10] So when those came who were hired first, they expected to receive more. But each one of them also received a denarius. [11] When they received it, they began to grumble against the landowner. [12] ‘These who were hired last worked only one hour,’ they said, ‘and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the work and the heat of the day.’ [13] But he answered one of them, ‘I am not being unfair to you, friend. Didn’t you agree to work for a denarius? [14] Take your pay and go. I want to give the one who was hired last the same as I gave you. [15] Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?’ [16] So the last will be first, and the first will be last.”

A large freshmen class was told by the professor to submit their monthly assignments on the last day of month—from September to November.  The fifty students who missed the first deadline were given a failing grade, but the professor showed them mercy when they pleaded for leniency on account of not yet being acclimated to college life.   Later, hundred students missed the second deadline, but the professor again showed them mercy on account that midterm exams were too much for them.   Once the word got around about the professor’s leniency, almost everyone missed the final deadline.   When told that they will all get an “F,” they yelled “Unjust!” to which the professor asked, “Do you want me to be just?”  When they said “Yes,” he declared, “Everyone who missed the deadline for previous assignments all get an ‘F’.”  

This story and the parable above are very similar except for the people involved.  The landlord goes out to the market place on several occasions to hire men for his vineyard.  Like the day laborers of today, these are desperate men in need of work.  The earliest hired laborers probably worked for twelve hours; the last hired, only one.  Those who worked the longest, after seeing that the last hired received a denarius (a day’s wage), expected more; they were disappointed.   Then the landlord, like the professor, was accused of being unjust.  In response, he pointedly said to his accusers, “I’m not being unfair; I can do whatever I want with my money.  You received the agreed amount; with others I’m being generous.”

One of the toughest questions, usually raised by Christians, is, “Would God send those who never heard the gospel to hell?”  This may seem unfair, but it’s not for those who are already saved to say since God was never obligated to save anyone; the fact that He saved us from our misery certainly doesn’t give us the right to accuse him on account that not everyone receives an equal chance of being saved.  People are going to hell because of their sins, not because they haven’t heard the gospel.  Now that we’re saved by grace, we should be active in sharing the good news.  

Prayer: O God, how I see the reality from my perspective and then accuse you of being unfair.  Amend my viewpoint; transform my worldview; change my opinion according to how it really is from your standpoint so that I may remain grateful and thankful to You for saving me from the pit of hell.  Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: 2 Chronicles 12


Lunch Break Study

Read Ps. 103:9-10 (NIV): He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever;
[10]
he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities.”

Lam. 3:22-3 (ESV): “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. [23] They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

Ez. 18:23 (NASB): “Do I have any pleasure in the death of the wicked,” declares the Lord God, rather than that he should turn from his ways and live?”

2 Pet. 3:9 (NASB): “The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.”

Question to Consider

1. The New Atheists, such as Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris, love to portray God in the worst possible light, calling Him all kinds of terrible names.  What do these passages reveal about the true nature of God?

2. Do Ps. 103:9-10 and Lam. 3:22-3 suggest that God doesn’t punish sin?  What is that called?

3. If someone says that God is eager to send people to hell, how would you personally respond?

Notes

1. Contrary to the assertions of the New Atheists, God is gracious towards us by giving gifts that we don’t deserve and merciful by not punishing us in proportion to what we have done against Him.  

2. It does suggest that the God of justice will punish us when we sin and remain unrepentant, but not to its fullest measure or extent: this is called God’s mercy.

3. On the contrary, God doesn’t take any pleasure in anyone perishing in hell; instead, He wants everyone to turn from their wicked ways and find God.  In fact, hell was created with the devil in mind, not us (Matt. 25:42: “The eternal fire prepared for the devil”).


Evening Reflection

As you reflect on this day, was there a moment in which you encountered God’s amazing grace poured out for you?  This past Sunday, I went to help my daughter whose car had veered off the icy road.  I was thinking of God’s grace because neither she was hurt nor her car was damaged.  I thanked Him. 

October 24, Monday

Today’s AMI QT Devotional, first posted on October 24, 2016, is provided by Andy Kim who is an associate pastor at Radiance Christian Church in San Francisco.  Andy is a graduate of Northwestern University (B.S.) and Fuller Theological Seminary (M.Div.).

Devotional Thought for This Morning

“No One Else Comes Close”

Hebrews 3:1-6 

Therefore, holy brothers and sisters, who share in the heavenly calling, fix your thoughts on Jesus, whom we acknowledge as our apostle and high priest. He was faithful to the one who appointed him, just as Moses was faithful in all God’s house. Jesus has been found worthy of greater honor than Moses, just as the builder of a house has greater honor than the house itself. For every house is built by someone, but God is the builder of everything. “Moses was faithful as a servant in all God’s house,” bearing witness to what would be spoken by God in the future. But Christ is faithful as the Son over God’s house. And we are his house, if indeed we hold firmly to our confidence and the hope in which we glory.

I remember a popular lesson in Sunday school was to choose our favorite Bible hero. We all chose the major hitters like David fighting Goliath, or Esther saving the Israelites as queen, or Samson having supernatural strength. Many of us have probably even prayed to be like David or even to have the faith of Moses that split the Red Sea. Maybe it’s not these Bible characters, but how often have we looked towards very spiritual people and wished we could be like them. For the Jews, Moses was— if not the most influential figure—a hero they looked to, who received the laws in which they prided themselves in. 

But the writer of this passage states that even these spiritual heroes like Moses fall short in comparison to Jesus. The writer highlights two reasons for the superiority of Jesus. First, Jesus is both our Apostle and our High Priest. Holman describes that as an Apostle, Jesus serves as God’s representative to human beings, while as a High Priest, He is our representative before God. In essence, Jesus is the perfect Mediator. Secondly, the writer identifies Moses as a servant of the house, in contrast to Jesus being the very Son of the house; and Scriptures teach us that we are the house. Moses is described as in the house, while Jesus is over the house; Moses was called by God, while Jesus was sent by God; and Moses invited the Israelites to God through the law, while Jesus invites us to God through His love.

Yes, it is great that we try to follow in the footsteps of people of great faith. In fact, Paul calls us to imitate his faith and follow in his footsteps (1 Cor. 11:1); but even then, he clearly says as I follow Christ. All these great forefathers pointed to Christ. And so, may we always remember that we look towards not men, but Jesus. No one else comes close to him. So, as the writer states, let us actively fix our thoughts on Jesus alone.  For in Jesus, we are not invited merely into a servanthood as Moses was, but we are invited into sonship, the very adoption into His glory and family.

Prayer: Father, we proclaim that You are greater than all. Forgive us that our eyes stray towards men, when You are the only one who can truly save us. Help us to fix our thoughts on You as You stand as the perfect mediator between us and the Almighty Father. Thank You for the sacrifice You paid so that we may experience Your glory.  Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: 2 Chronicles 11


Lunch Break Study

Read Romans 8:12-17: So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. 

Questions to Consider

  1. How does Paul differentiate between living by the flesh vs. living by the Spirit?
  2. How can we live by the Spirit?

Notes

  1. Paul states that those who live by the flesh are slaves to fear from the condemnation that comes through the law of sin and death (v. 2). In doing so, they are constantly enslaved by what their flesh desires, which ultimately leads them to death. However, those who live by the Spirit are freed from the law through the fulfillment of Jesus Christ. They are not slaves; but rather sons and daughters who have been adopted into the family of Christ. Historically, adoption was a relatively new concept that meant a complete severing of all previous relationships. “Abba,” translated in Aramaic as “father” or in our current context “daddy,” is a word used only for those who had an intimate relationship. 
  2. Paul states that we are to put to death the misdeeds of the body. Because our flesh is still alive, there must be an active denial of our fleshly desires. Mounce argues even in this we fall short, for our old nature does not automatically fade away; rather the fight is something that is ongoing. Thus, we must constantly rely on the power of the Spirit. In this constant struggle against the flesh, we can share in the sufferings of Christ, so that ultimately we may also share in the glory that comes in Him.

Evening Reflection

What are the areas in your life today that you see your flesh more alive? Spend some time asking that His Spirit would help you to overcome these areas.                                                        

Prayer: Heavenly father, we confess that there are still many areas in our lives in which we struggle against our flesh. However, we remind ourselves that we do not live by the law, but by the grace through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. May we set our thoughts upon the desires of Your Spirit. Amen.

October 23, Sunday

REPOSTToday’s AMI Devotional QT, provided by Cami King, now a friend of AMI,  was first posted on August 15, 2015.  Cami served faithfully as a staff at several AMI churches in the past.  

Spiritual Food for Thought for the Weekend

“The Promise Fulfilled”

2 Kings 7:15-20

They went after them to the Jordan, and behold, all the way was full of clothes and equipment which the Arameans had thrown away in their haste. Then the messengers returned and told the king. 16 So the people went out and plundered the camp of the Arameans. Then a measure of fine flour was sold for a shekel and two measures of barley for a shekel, according to the word of the Lord. 17 Now the king appointed the royal officer on whose hand he leaned to have charge of the gate; but the people trampled on him at the gate, and he died just as the man of God had said, who spoke when the king came down to him. 18 It happened just as the man of God had spoken to the king, saying, “Two measures of barley for a shekel and a measure of fine flour for a shekel, will be sold tomorrow about this time at the gate of Samaria.” 19 Then the royal officer answered the man of God and said, “Now behold, if the Lord should make windows in heaven, could such a thing be?” And he said, “Behold, you will see it with your own eyes, but you will not eat of it.” 20 And so it happened to him, for the people trampled on him at the gate and he died.

The title heading chosen by translators for the section of the text above is “The Promised Fulfilled.” Those are some of the sweetest words in scripture. How glorious is the day when we see God’s promises come to fruition right before our eyes. One of the most difficult aspects of keeping the faith and continuing to hope when the going gets tough is how heavily it requires us to depend on God’s promises and believe in things not yet seen. And the longer the difficulty and opposition persists, the more room we have to doubt that God’s promises will ever come to pass. And sometime after a while we forget what His promises are all together. 

God had promised deliverance for His people through the prophet Elisha – but not everyone believed him. How could God do this impossible thing of which Elisha spoke? But He did the very thing He promised – He fed His people in the midst of a famine, through the four lepers we read about yesterday. God had done exactly what he said He would do and it was a day of rejoicing for His people. Well – for some of them. For the doubters, God allowed them to see His promises fulfilled, although not to partake in them personally. That’s a tragedy we’ll have to save to discuss another day.  

For today, let’s be reminded that God always makes good on what He has promised. Whether He has promised things about His character (“The LORD’S loving-kindnesses indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness.” Lamentations 3:22-23), or made promises to us as the Church (“…He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 1:6) or to you as His child (“…for He Himself has said, ‘I will never desert you, now will I ever forsake you,” Hebrews 13:5) – through scripture or through the mouths of brothers and sisters in Christ – God will do what He says.

Our Daily Bread wrote the following story: “An elderly Christian was in much distress as he lay dying. ‘Oh, Pastor,’ he said, ‘for years I have relied upon the promises of God, but now in the hour of death I can’t remember a single one to comfort me.’ Knowing that Satan was disturbing him, the preacher said, ‘My brother, do you think that GOD will forget any of His promises?’ A smile came over the face of the dying believer as he exclaimed joyfully. ‘No, no! He won’t! Praise the Lord, now I can fall asleep in Jesus and trust Him to remember them all and bring me safely to Heaven.’ Peace flooded his soul, and a short time later he was ushered by the angels into the light of God’s eternal day.

God’s promises never fail. And even when we grow tired of believing or forget what He has promised in the face of difficult situations, we can rest assured that God will never forget. And when it’s all said and done we will be able to affirm the truth of Joshua’s words, “You know with all your heart and soul that not one of all the good promises the LORD your God gave you has failed. Every promise has been fulfilled; not one has failed.” (Joshua 23:14). 

Prayer: “Teach me Your way, O LORD, and lead me in a level path… I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living.” (Psalm 27: 11, 13) Help me to wait for You God, to be strong and take heart and wait for You to fulfill Your good promises to me. In Jesus’ name.

Bible Reading for Today: 2 Chronicles 10

October 22, Saturday 

REPOST Today’s Spiritual Food for Thought, provided by Pastor Ryun Chang (AMI Teaching Pastor), was first posted on February 14, 2015.

Spiritual Food for Thought for the Weekend

“Stay Awake, My Friend” 

Acts 19:24-7 (ESV)

For a man named Demetrius, a silversmith, who made silver shrines of Artemis, brought no little business to the craftsmen. [25] These he gathered together, with the workmen in similar trades, and said, ‘Men, you know that from this business we have our wealth. [26] And you see and hear that not only in Ephesus but in almost all of Asia this Paul has persuaded and turned away a great many people, saying that gods made with hands are not gods. [27] And there is danger not only that this trade of ours may come into disrepute but also that the temple of the great goddess Artemis may be counted as nothing, and that she may even be deposed from her magnificence, she whom all Asia and the world worship.’  [28]When they heard this they were enraged and were crying out, ‘Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!’” 

When I was in college (before my Christian days), St. Patrick’s Day was a day when my friends and I would don something green, and then guzzle green beer at a party held in honor of a man whom I assumed was a wild party animal from antiquity.  So, I was genuinely shocked when I found out, while studying church history at a seminary, that nothing could be further from the truth.  

At age 16, Patrick, living in England, was captured by marauding pirates who took him to Ireland as a slave.  During six long years of captivity, Patrick found God.  Fortunately, he escaped and returned home where he eventually became a clergy of the Celtic Church (not Catholic).  But one day, an Irish man appeared in Patrick’s dream, saying, “We beseech you to come and walk among us once more.”  Despite whatever bitterness he might’ve had, Patrick returned in 432 and spent the next 30 years ministering among the Celtics.  As a result, not only was Ireland won to Christ, but Western Europe was also evangelized by Celtic missionaries who came out of his ministry.  Thus, I am still puzzled by how a day honoring a zealous missionary like Patrick has become a day of drunkenness and lewd behavior.

Valentine of the 3rd century, in whose honor Valentine’s Day is celebrated, was just as committed to God as Patrick.  Because not much is known about him, several versions of his life exist but they all agree on one thing: Valentine was martyred for trying to convince people to believe in Christ and ultimately refusing to deny Christ.  So, how did we end up with flowers, chocolates and cupids to celebrate a day named after a martyr for Jesus?

Businessmen, like Demetrius, have long figured out that the best way to reach into people’s pockets is to appeal to their devotion to God by associating it with slogans they promote (“Great is Artemis of the Ephesians”) to sell things they produce (religious figurines).  Before long, people, having forgotten the true reason for celebration, just celebrate with such things as green beer, chocolates and flowers!

Spoiling your next Valentine’s Day celebration isn’t the purpose of this blog, but it is to remind you that you stay awake, that is, “don’t conform any longer to the pattern of this world” (Rom. 12:1) that shifts with time and always empties your pocket.  Instead, hold onto what men like Patrick and Valentine truly stood for: their love for Jesus and their desire to serve Him.  

Prayer: Heavenly Father, help us to discern how the world is trying to undermine our faith in Your Son Christ. Remind us of the true heroes of faith of the past and imitate their costly walk to follow Jesus. Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: 2 Chronicles 8-9

October 21, Friday

REPOST Today’s AMI QT Devotional, provided by Pastor Peter Yoon of Kairos Christian Church in San Diego, was first posted on October 14, 2016.  Peter is a graduate of University of California, Riverside (BA) and Talbot School of Theology (M.Div.). 

Devotional Thought for This Morning

“Do You Love Me?”

John 21:15-17

When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” “Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.”  Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.” 16 Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.” 17 The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my sheep. 

During the course of our marriage, my wife would randomly ask me, “Do you love me?” To that question, there were a vast array of replies from me. Anything from, “Of course I do” or “Why do you ask?” to “Maybe” to “Not today.” (Of course, the latter two were playful responses.) It seemed that a nice firm, “I love you” was the best answer to that question, reassuring my wife that I am all in when it comes to our marriage. 

Here, Jesus asks Peter, “Do you love me more than these?” (By “these,” Jesus probably means “these other disciples.” According to the other Gospels, Peter had boasted that though all the others fall away, he would not [Mt 26:33 par. Mk 14:29; cf. Lk 22:33; Jn. 13:37], but we all remember how that went.) Peter answers quickly, “You know that I love you.” Then again, Jesus asks Peter the same question. Then a third time, Jesus asks if Simon loved Him. Commentators explain that this third time hurt Peter because it was a painful reminder that he had just a short while ago denied His Lord three times. 

There seems to be a connection, though, between loving Jesus and the command that He gives immediately afterwards: “Feed my sheep.” Jesus is shaping Peter’s idea of pastoral ministry that he would be entering into starting on the Day of Pentecost, until Peter’s own tragic death on a cross, according to traditions. That idea is that feeding Jesus’ sheep cannot be divorced from loving Jesus deeply. The effectiveness of the ministry flows from the loving relationship one has with Jesus. 

Perhaps you have many ministry items to check off on your list today or this weekend, and you might be feeling overwhelmed. Or perhaps you have become quite skilled at leading your small group or ministry team or conversing with unchurched friends, and so you feel quite confident. Before diving into your ministry setting, how about pausing to reflect on the question, “Do you love Me?” and being able to say to Him, “You know that I love you.” 

Prayer: Dear Jesus, I do love You, or at least I really want to. Help me in this area of loving You. Reveal Your love for me today so that I can engage in Your ministry with Your love. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.  

Bible Reading for Today: 2 Chronicles 8


Lunch Break Study  

Read John 14:15-18: “If you love me, keep my commands. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever—17 the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. 18 I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.


Questions to Consider

  1. What is a clear indicator that you love Jesus? 
  2. What do you discover about the Holy Spirit from Jesus’ promise in verse 16-17? 
  3. How do these verses comfort you in the challenges you face today? 

Notes

  1. This statement is not so much a promise that the one who loves Him will keep His commands, as it is a definition of love itself. 
  2. Here is the first reference to the Paraclete (parakletos), translated as Advocate. This word is a verbal adjective meaning “called alongside,” related to the verb parakaleo, “call to one, summon.” Outside the New Testament it is used in legal contexts to mean “a legal assistant, advocate” (Liddell, Scott and Jones).
  3. Personal response

Evening Reflection

Spend some time expressing your affection and love to Jesus. If you’d like, play several meaningful songs that expresses love to Him, and as you sing the words, worship Him. 

October 20, Thursday

REPOST Today’s AMI QT Devotional, provided by Jabez Yeo, now a friend of AMI, was first posted on May 29, 2015.  He is a graduate of University of Pennsylvania (B.S.) and Columbia International University where he studied Islam (M.A.). 

Devotional Thought for This Morning

“Getting Rid of the Ring or Keeping It, That’s the Question”

Deut. 30:19-20

This day I (Moses) call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live 20 and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the Lord is your life, and he will give you many years in the land he swore to give to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

In J.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, the protagonist, Frodo Baggins, is given the unenviable task of destroying the One Ring.  At first, Frodo is intrigued by the Ring, as it gives him much power. But as his journey progresses, Frodo feels the burden of the Ring grow heavier and longs to get rid of it. In the climactic scene, Frodo is faced with the obvious choice: throwing the Ring into Mount Doom. But instead, he chooses to keep the Ring and the Ring is only destroyed because of intervention from his friend, Samwise Gamgee. 

Like Frodo, we, too, can refuse to make even the most obvious of choices. In this passage, the Israelites had just experienced God’s awesome power through the Exodus and the parting of the Red Sea. With their own eyes, they had personally seen Him overcome humanly impossible barriers. So why does Moses implore them to choose life over death (v.19)? Doesn’t choosing the Lord make sense in light of the promises He gives (v.20)? Sadly, the Israelites later rebelled many times, choosing death and facing several calamities as a result. 

As Christians today, our own faithlessness and inner rebellion hinder us from also choosing life. As Paul clearly wrote, “Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death?” (Romans 7:21-24)

Because of our brokenness, we need to cry out to God for strength to make the most obvious of choices: choosing Him. We know through experience that Jesus is “the way, the truth and the life,” but we cannot turn to Him without His help. God can’t make the decision for us, but He will give us the strength if we ask. Let’s pray for that today.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, help me remember Your goodness and Your mercy that You have shown towards me. Even though You promised and have given me life to the full, I often find myself choosing death and destruction through sin. Please give me the strength to make the obvious choice of choosing You. In Your Name I pray, Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: 2 Chronicles 7


Lunch Break Study

Read Psalm 16:11: You make known to me the path of life, in Your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

Questions to Consider

  1. How has God made known to You the path of life?
  2. What does the path of life imply?
  3. How have you experienced His presence and His joy? Be sure to write it down.

Notes

  1. He has given us His Word, which declares how life can be found through His Son, Jesus Christ. He has also give us His Holy Spirit, who is our Counselor, and our respective communities to sharpen and encourage us
  2. Our lives are a journey! We may stumble and fall several times but we can continually fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfector of our faith (Hebrews 12:2).
  3. Personal response

Evening Reflection

How did you choose to follow God in the several decisions you made today? No matter how things may have gone wrong today, let’s thank God that His love and mercy never end (Lamentations 3:22-23). Let’s remember that so that we can make the obvious choices tomorrow.

October 19, Wednesday

Today’s AMI QT Devotional, first posted on October 26, 2016, is provided by Andy Kim who is an associate pastor at Radiance Christian Church in San Francisco.  Andy is a graduate of Northwestern University (B.S.) and Fuller Theological Seminary (M.Div.).

Devotional Thought for This Morning

“The Meaning of Sabbath”

Hebrews 4:4-11

For somewhere he has spoken about the seventh day in these words: “On the seventh day God rested from all his works.” 5 And again in the passage above he says, “They shall never enter my rest.”6 Therefore since it still remains for some to enter that rest, and since those who formerly had the good news proclaimed to them did not go in because of their disobedience, 7 God again set a certain day, calling it “Today.” This he did when a long time later he spoke through David, as in the passage already quoted: “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.”8 For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken later about another day. 9 There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; 10 for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works, just as God did from his. 11 Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will perish by following their example of disobedience.

Imagine a day without your phone or hot water, and you cease from any type of activity, such as cooking. Many of us are probably thinking of some mission trip far away, but in the Jewish tradition, this is a weekly ordeal when observing the day of rest—the Sabbath. For a Christian’s Sabbath, it begins with a groggy morning, pressing the snooze button several times, a busy Sunday of serving and fellowship, an inevitable afternoon nap, and catching up on last minute chores. And before you know it, it’s time to sleep and you’re thinking of how quickly the weekend had passed, or how crazy the week ahead will be. If I were to consider a proper Sabbath, I would argue that the Jews have done a better job of grasping this. Lauren Winner writes: “But there is something in the Jewish Sabbath that is absent from most Christian Sundays: a true cessation from the rhythms of work and world, a time wholly set apart, and perhaps above all, a sense that the point of Shabbat, is toward God.” 

In this passage, the writer teaches that our rest originates from God’s rest after creation was completed. Warren Wiersbe explains God’s rest as a “rest of satisfaction, not a rest after exhaustion” from the completion of His work. And as believers, we look to the finished work of Christ who made us complete in Him. In Christ, we are able to trust in His works and not our own to be holy and pleasing to God. This is why rest is so vital to our lives, for we live in a world where we are constantly asked to do more and to be defined by our work. It is more than a day of inactivity or even an extra day to catch-up; it is a day we remind ourselves that our identity and worth comes from Christ’s perfect work. 

The Sabbath was created for man so that we may depend on the work of Christ and not our own. It is the total acceptance and complete surrender to Him, for apart from God, there can only be restlessness. As the writer says, rest is made available for us today to experience as mere glimpses of the eternal rest that waits in eternity. Let us be diligent to enter that rest both here and in eternity. 

Prayer: Father, thank You for creating the Sabbath for us. We confess that many times we do not make it holy because of our lack of complete trust in You. Help us not to find our value and identity in the work that we do, but only in the completed work of Jesus Christ. Teach us to Sabbath well as your people.  Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: 2 Chronicles 6


Lunch Break Study

Read Luke 10:38-42: As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. 39 She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. 40 But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”41 “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, 42 but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

Questions to Consider

  1. What is Jesus trying to highlight here?
  2. What is the danger of having the mentality of Martha?
  3. How does Mary have the confidence to just sit at Jesus’ feet?

Notes

  1. A common mistake is to think that Mary did something good and Martha did something bad. However, notice that Jesus says that Mary chose to do the better, which does not discount Martha’s act of service toward Jesus.  Martha was more worried about what she could do for Jesus, while Mary focused on being with Jesus. He is saying that there is a time and place to serve, but more importantly, we must set our time to spend with Him. 
  2. Ironically, it was her serving that prevented her from listening and spending time with the Lord. This gave Martha anxiety and even perhaps a sense of bitterness toward Mary. The temptation of being too service-orientated is to compare ourselves to others and judge their dedication in service, or in this case, the lack of service.  
  3. Mary breaks a lot of social rules here, because as a woman, she was expected to serve the guests to even be acknowledged. However, Jesus makes it clear that His relationship with Mary is something that cannot be taken away. Our value and identity comes not from our actions, but from Christ alone. 

Evening Reflection

Spend some time reflecting on the idea of rest in your life. Is it a foreign word that you’re too busy for?  Are you burned out? In a world that demands our attention every minute, spend a few moments away from everything. May there be a constant rhythm of rest in our lives so that we may focus on being with Him more than doing things for Him. Let us look to the eternal promise of rest that awaits all of us. 

October 18, Tuesday

REPOS TToday’s AMI QT Devotional, provided by Pastor Ryun Chang (AMI Teaching Pastor), was first posted on February 24, 2015

Devotional Thought for This Morning

“What a Dead Faith Won’t Do for Us” 

Matt. 25:1-13 (NIV)

“At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. [2] Five of them were foolish and five were wise. [3] The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them. [4] The wise ones, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps. [5] The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep. [6] At midnight the cry rang out: ‘Here’s the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’ [7] Then all the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps. [8] The foolish ones said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil; our lamps are going out.’ [9] ‘No,’ they replied, ‘there may not be enough for both us and you. Instead, go to those who sell oil and buy some for yourselves.’ [10] But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet.  And the door was shut. [11] Later the others also came. ‘Lord, Lord,’ they said, ‘open the door for us!’ [12] But he replied, ‘Truly I tell you, I don’t know you.’ [13] Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.”

I’m embarrassed to admit it, but in college, I once opened the class syllabus for the first time the day before the final exam to see what I needed to study.  So the one change I made after becoming a Christian was getting things done early, that is, not procrastinating.    

This parable, about the ancient Jewish wedding day, has the bridegroom arrive at the house of his bride’s father at midnight for the ceremony.   Upon his sudden arrival, the door is closed and the late comers aren’t admitted.   Afterwards, the husband would take his wife home in a wedding procession, and then celebrate the banquet that lasts for a week.  Since the procession typically occurs in darkness, the guests would bring lamps to light the way; and those without it are prohibited to be on the street. 

Now, the wedding represents “the wedding of the Lamb” in which Christ will officially unite with “his bride,” that is, the church (Rev. 19:7); this occurs just prior to the ushering in of eternity.  Not being “invited to the wedding . . . of the Lamb” (9), therefore, would mean you’re neither a believer nor going to heaven.  In the parable, the virgins who show up to the wedding unprepared end up missing the entire ceremony.  What’s worse, the bride’s father claims not to know them.

So, who are these foolish virgins?  They’re the great pretenders, like Judas, Demas (2 Tim. 4:10) and many who ate the loaves (Jn. 6:11, 64-6), “whose going showed that none of them belonged to [church]” (1 Jn. 2:19).  They’re the weeds that are allowed to grow together with wheat until the harvest (Matt. 13:30).  They’re the possessors of “faith” that even “demons [have] . . . and shudder” (James 2:19), but ultimately doesn’t save because “faith without deeds” is “dead” (v.25).  It goes without saying that a dead faith is helpless to keep us from entering hell. 

In view of this, the best sign indicating one’s true Christian faith is a life lived out in anticipation of Christ’s coming (or our going).  Does your lifestyle suggest that this world is your destination or a place to prepare for your eternity?  Give it a thought; make adjustments if feel convicted.   

Prayer: O Lord, I lift Your name on high!  I love to sing your praises, and I’m so glad You are in my life.  Cause me  not to forget that I’ll soon see You.  Perhaps You’ll return during my time, or I will pass from this earthly existence into heaven, but help me always to be ready.  Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: 2 Chronicles 5


Lunch Break Study

Read Rev. 19:6-8 (NASB): “Then I heard something like the voice of a great multitude and like the sound of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, saying, “Hallelujah! For the Lord our God, the Almighty, reigns. [7] Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready.” [8] It was given to her to clothe herself in fine linen, bright and clean; for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints.

Rev. 2:9-10 (NIV): “I know your afflictions (Philadelphia Church) and your poverty—yet you are rich! I know about the slander of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. [10] Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days. Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you life as your victor’s crown.”

2 Pet. 3:3-4 (NIV): Above all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. [4] They will say, “Where is this ‘coming’ he promised? Ever since our ancestors died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.”

Question to Consider

1. How does the bride look on the wedding day?  What does that mean for the church?

2. What is one of the ways through which God prepares the bride?  What’s its purpose?

3. In the parable of the virgins, they all fell asleep.  What does that mean spiritually?  Are you awake or asleep spiritually?

Notes

1. She is ready in her splendid outfit of fine linen.  That means that the church is not only righteous because the righteousness of Christ has been imputed on her, but she is also righteous inside (ontologically) which produces “the righteous acts of the saints.”

2. There is nothing like tribulation and persecution that remove the pretenders from the true church of Christ.   The “foolish virgins” will be the first ones to bail out of the church when it becomes inconvenient and not cost-effective to stay. 

3. If we talk too much about the second coming of Christ without also focusing on the church’s current responsibility, then the talk of his imminent return can get redundant and passé if he doesn’t come as expected.   That gives the scoffers more ammunition to criticize our hope in Christ’s return.  Thus, our hope for his return and our responsibility to the world should be held in a fine balance.  


Evening Reflection

We are always getting ready for something—a meeting, gathering, or trip.  How are you getting ready for that day when you will meet the Lord?  Reflect on how you lived today; does it look like you were getting ready?  What needs to change so that when your time to depart comes, you will be ready?