August 9, Sunday

UPDATED Today’s Spiritual Food for Thought is an updated version of AMI QT Devotional first posted on August 13, 2013.

Spiritual Food for Thought for the Weekend

“From the Prayer of Mary”

Luke 1:46-55

And Mary said, “My soul magnifies the Lord, 47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, 48 for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant. For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed; 49 for he who is mighty has done great things for me,
and holy is his name. 50 And his mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation. 51 He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts; 52 he has brought down the mighty from their thrones and exalted those of humble estate; 53 he has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent away empty. 54 He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy,55 as he spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his offspring forever.”

Several things jump out from this beautiful prayer of Mary.

elijah-beaton-37X5UW-erR0-unsplashFirst, note that Mary sang this praise to God upon hearing the testimony by her relative Elizabeth, also the mother of John the Baptizer, about the child Jesus in her womb.  This is to suggest that a testimony about Jesus from the mouth of believers should be enough for us to glorify the Lord.  However, Mary was not the first one who sang this song.  Although each song was unique, Hannah, the prophet Samuel’s mother, and King David sang this genre of song first (1 Sam. 2:1-10; Ps. 62). May we also praise the Lord like Mary, Hannah and David.

Second, note also that their songs are about God and His attention to details of our lives.  As such, the way God is and what He does are so contrary to the worldly standards and how our culture operates (Matt. 19:30; 20:16).  In sum, there is no area too small for God not to intervene, that is, God’s sovereignty reaches out to every aspect of our lives.  What a relief to all us!

Third, be reminded that, in contrast to how Roman Catholicism views Mary—a sinless person—she was a sinner just as we all are.  In other words, Romans 3:23, which states that for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”, applies to her as well as to us. Mary, therefore, was in desperate need of a Savior.  For this reason, she said, “My spirit rejoices in God my Savior” (v. 47); only a sinner needs a Savior.  With a doubt, true praises come forth from our hearts at the moment when we truly recognize our need for the Savior, Jesus Christ.  May we also encounter the Lord in the same way.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, my soul magnifies and glories Your precious name. Be exalted on high, my Lord, for You are like none other and there is no one like You in the universe. Thank You for giving us Your Son Jesus as our Lord and Savior. Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Philemon 1

August 8, Saturday

REPOST Today’s Spiritual Food for Thought, written by Pastor Young Kim of Grace Covenant Church in Philadelphia, was originally posted on June 4/5, 2013.  Young is a graduate of University of Illinois (BS), Biblical Theological Seminary (M.Div.) and Westminster Theological Seminary (MA).

Spiritual Food for Thought for the Weekend

“Guard Your Heart . . . in Your Marriage”

Proverbs 4:23-25, 27 (NIV84)

“Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life. Put away perversity from your mouth; keep corrupt talk far from your lips. Let your eyes look straight ahead, fix your gaze directly before you. Do not swerve to the right or the left; keep your foot from evil.”

carolyn-v-Xh_iVIo-u-8-unsplashGuard your heart! Guard it with God’s word.  Guard it with prayer.  Guard it from bitterness. Guard it from selfishness. Keep it away from hopelessness. But remember this: even if you failed to guard it and it is wounded, you can find forgiveness and healing in Jesus!!!

Prayer:  Jesus I am weak, so I give you my heart.  Let the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you today.  Amen.

Proverbs 5:18, 19

“May your fountain be blessed, and may you rejoice in the wife of your youth. A loving doe, a graceful deer— may her breasts satisfy you always, may you ever be captivated by her love.”

Having a great marriage is a gift of God; but it also takes effort.  Marriage takes much prayer and work.  We need to understand that marriage is under attack by the enemy.  Pray for your spouse and ask the Lord to protect our marriage.  If you are not married, then pray that God would prepare you for marriage by molding you to be like Jesus.

Prayer: Dear Jesus, may the husbands of AMI love their wives like Jesus loved the church.  Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Galatians 5-6

August 7, Friday

REPOST Today’s AMI QT Devotional, provided by Pastor Peter Yoon of Kairos Christian Church in San Diego, is an updated version of his blog first posted on May 16, 2014.  Peter is a graduate of University of California, Riverside (BA) and Talbot School of Theology (M.Div.).

Devotional Thought for This Morning

“I Don’t Remember a Thing”

Titus 3:1-2

“Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, 2 to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and always to be gentle toward everyone.”

analia-baggiano-gqPs0ChvwRw-unsplashA pastor once commented that we suffer from a 30-second memory ability when it comes to following good instructions. A professor often repeated that “a good memory is not as good as a ragged pen.” All of us tend to forget, whether it be returning a book to the library, paying the bills, or friends’ birthdays. And so we set up Google calendars or hang up calendars on our refrigerators to “remind” ourselves.

Apparently, the congregation that Titus oversaw also overlooked matters. However, these matters were of utmost importance for the Christian community, that is, if it was going to an effective witness for the Lord. Paul, therefore, instructs Titus to “remind” the people of God.

Today, we live in an age of information. Thanks to technology, we have immediate access to information in just about any language at any given moment. And so we download all sorts of information to our brains. By the time you arrive at work or your morning class, you’ve already read through pages of news, blogs, articles, Facebook posts, etc.; but how is it that you can’t remember a thing! Do you remember a time when you actually used to remember a person’s phone number? Do you remember the sermon from this past Sunday?

Apparently, the 1st century congregation also forgot the pastor’s sermon by Monday, and that is why Paul tells Titus to remind the people.

Has God recently “reminded” you of something that you needed to follow through? Perhaps God used your small group, a friend, or your spouse to send out His reminder. God is giving you another opportunity for obedience. Take the opportunity to follow through today.    

Prayer: Dear God, I admit that I can easily forget the things that You have taught me and revealed to me. Thank You for sending me reminders of the ways in which You desire for me to live. Grant me Your grace this day to follow through on the things You are reminding me to obey. Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Galatians 4


Lunch Break Study 

Read Joshua 4:1-9 (NIV): When the whole nation had finished crossing the Jordan, the Lord said to Joshua, 2 “Choose twelve men from among the people, one from each tribe, 3 and tell them to take up twelve stones from the middle of the Jordan, from right where the priests are standing, and carry them over with you and put them down at the place where you stay tonight.” 4 So Joshua called together the twelve men he had appointed from the Israelites, one from each tribe,5 and said to them, “Go over before the ark of the Lord your God into the middle of the Jordan. Each of you is to take up a stone on his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the Israelites, 6 to serve as a sign among you. In the future, when your children ask you, ‘What do these stones mean?’7 tell them that the flow of the Jordan was cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord. When it crossed the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. These stones are to be a memorial to the people of Israel forever.” 8 So the Israelites did as Joshua commanded them. They took twelve stones from the middle of the Jordan, according to the number of the tribes of the Israelites, as the Lord had told Joshua; and they carried them over with them to their camp, where they put them down. 9 Joshua set up the twelve stones that had been in the middle of the Jordan at the spot where the priests who carried the ark of the covenant had stood. And they are there to this day.

Questions to Consider

  1. Why does God command the Israelites to gather twelve stones after crossing the Jordan River?
  2. For whom was the stone memorial erected?
  3. What memorials can you intentionally build around your life or in your family so that even after some time has passed, God’s greatness and goodness will be remembered?

Notes

  1. The twelve stones were to serve forever as a sign and as a memorial (cf. Ex. 12:26–27; Dt. 6:20–25). Memory plays an important role in any society. Without memory a person loses identity, and without a history to sustain it, a society and the world around it become virtually like a phantom. Any society that hopes to endure must become, as sociologists put it, “a community of memory and hope.”
  2. In the future, the children of the Israelites would ask, “What do these stones mean?” As the Israelites were crossing into unchartered and dangerous territories, they would have been reminded and comforted to know that their future children would inhabit the land.
  3. Personal response

Evening Reflection

Spend some time reflecting on some critical moments or season in your life where the Lord revealed Himself to you. As you reflect, give God thanks for His sovereign foundations that He’s established thus far in your life.

August 6, Thursday

REPOST Today’s AMI Devotional QT, provided by Kate Moon, was first posted on May 12, 2014.  Kate continues to serve the Lord in E. Asia.

Devotional Thought for This Morning

“Snoop Dogg Got Nothing on God’s Word”

Titus 2:6-8

“Similarly, encourage the young men to be self-controlled. [7] In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness [8] and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned, so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us.”

“So what we get drunk?

So what we smoke weed?

We’re just having fun

We don’t care who sees

So what we go out?

That’s how it’s supposed to be

Living young and wild and free”

from “Young, Wild & Free” by Snoop Dogg and Wiz Khalifa, feat. Bruno Mars

blake-carpenter-Cd7IHBtqKl0-unsplashBefore exploring this theme further, I feel the need to start with a disclaimer.  I do not regularly listen to Snoop Dogg – I don’t pretend to be cool enough (actually, is he still cool?  I’m not sure).  I’d never heard of this song before I googled the phrase “young wild free” a few minutes ago.  Taking a quick look at the lyrics, I had my doubts: is this something appropriate to be meditating on first thing in the morning?  And yet it seemed to capture perfectly the point: that popular culture often sends the message that youth is a time to throw off all restraint, in direct opposition to the Bible’s “be self-controlled.”

The beat is catchy, the tune sticks in your mind.  The opening scene of the video is pretty funny – I didn’t watch the rest.  The song sold 159,000 digital copies its first week out and was nominated for Best Rap Song at the February 2013 Grammy Awards (Source: Wikipedia).  How can the unpopular message of the Bible compete?  Yet when the lyrics of a popular song get tested against the timeless truths of the Bible, there is no contest – truth wins out, hands down.

The truth is, isn’t getting drunk and other rebellious behavior often because people care too much about “who sees” rather than the other way around?  The truth is, doesn’t all this going out stop being fun after a while, just leaving one feeling empty inside in the end?  The truth is, there are alternative ways to live, and as believers, we get our “how it’s supposed to be,” not from the lyrics of a crowd-pleasing tune but from the ultimate source, the God who gave us this life and something so much more fulfilling to spend our youth on.

King Solomon, after having led a hedonistic life that Snoop Dogg can only dream about, summed up his realization this way: “Remember your Creator in the days of your youth” (Eccle. 12:1).   So, whether you are young or old, or somewhere in between, remember the Lord today; enjoy his grace.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, I have to confess, the idea of being young, wild and free is so appealing to me.  But help me to find the adventure and freedom I am looking for in You. Would You help me to experience the true freedom there is in living wisely and well?  Help me to be self-controlled today.  In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Galatians 3


Lunch Break Study

Read Galatians 5:1, 13-23: “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free . . . [13] You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh . . . [16] So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. [17] For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want . . . [19] The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; [20] idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions [21] and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like . . . [22] But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, [23] gentleness and self-control. . .”

Questions to Consider

  1. What is the calling of a believer? (vv. 1, 13, 16)
  2. How is self-control related to freedom? (vv. 17, 23)   Why is self-control critical to ascertaining the true freedom? (1 Cor. 10:23-4)
  3. Is there anything from vv. 19-21 that you need to refrain from?  Anything from vv. 22-23 to pursue?

Notes

  1. Being a Christian is about living in freedom.  The believer’s freedom is about being set free from the slavery of sin.  In the Holy Spirit, we have the power not to be ruled by our fleshly desires.
  2. Exercising self-control is exercising our freedom.  This connection is critical because while “‘everything is permissible’—but not everything is beneficial.  ‘Everything is permissible’—but not everything is constructive.’”
  3. It is important to remember that self-control is not will-power.  Will-power has our own strength as its source.  Self-control is a fruit that people who have the Holy Spirit living in them will naturally bear – so be encouraged and make your best efforts, knowing that the Holy Spirit empowers you.

Evening Reflection

How did I do today in terms of yielding to the leading of the Holy Spirit, allowing him to help me exercise self-control in my life?

August 5, Wednesday

REPOST Today’s AMI QT Devotional, provided by Pastor Charles Choe who leads Tapestry Church in Los Angeles, was first posted on June 18, 2014.  Charles is a graduate of University of California, Riverside (BA) and Fuller Theological Seminary (M.Div.).

Devotional Thought for This Morning

“What Training for the World Cup and Godliness Has in Common”

1 Timothy 4:7-11

Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives’ tales; rather, train yourself to be godly. 8 For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come. 9 This is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance. 10 That is why we labor and strive, because we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all people, and especially of those who believe. 11 Command and teach these things. 

angele-kamp-_D7sZ_4B1dI-unsplashThe World Cup in Brazil is in full swing now. For an athlete to get to this stage, there must be years of sacrifice marked by the most rigorous training possible. Only when all potentials are realized, and even then, to only a few, World Cup glory is a minute possibility.

Here in our passage today, the apostle Paul uses the example of physical exercise to illustrate a great spiritual truth. Although there is tremendous value in physical exercise, we are told that we must put as much effort into the exercise unto godliness as these athletes do into the exercise of their bodies. Paul tells Timothy to train himself, not for physical fitness, but for godliness. Do you desire to be godly? If so, are you willing to train yourself with the commitment and rigor of a world-class athlete to become a godly person?

Godliness is not about being perfect in character, for none of us will ever attain that on this side of eternity. Godliness on this side of heaven is attained when our disposition is lined up with the pursuit of God’s glory. Godliness is not one of the many Christian traits we are supposed to aspire to; it is the basic, foundational character upon which the other characters rest. In other words, it’s what holds the Fruit of the Spirit together. Nothing is excluded, and all are tied together.

So what does this look like? It’s like when you do your ordinary duties with an eye to God’s glory.  God is at the center of your thoughts. He is the reason why you do what you do and why you choose not to do what you don’t do. In making Him the end, and not just the means, you are training yourself to become a godly person.

So again, I ask, Are you focusing on what is important to the Lord? Are you avoiding compromise because you cherish God’s glory more? Are you making a conscious effort to adhere to the teachings of Scripture, demonstrating a pattern of godly transformation? Let the Holy Spirit empower you to make the changes necessary to be more like Christ.

Prayer: Lord, may my greatest ambition in life be to pursue godliness. Help me to go after godliness more than I do my career or academic success. Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Galatians 2


Lunch Break Study

Read Titus 2:11-14 (ESV): For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, [12] training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, [13] waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, [14] who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.

Questions

  1. What kind of lives are we called to live according to v.12?
  2. What blocks godliness from being exhibited in me?
  3. How can I make godliness practical throughout the day?

Notes

  1. Life of godliness.
  2. Ungodliness and worldly passions; such as sin, “lukewarmness,” pride, greed, unforgiving heart, etc.
  3. Often godliness is the result of making routine decisions that honor God because you sense the presence of His Spirit in your life; you are motivated and led by the Holy Spirit throughout the day.

Evening Reflection

Did your day reflect your ambition for God’s presence today? Could you honestly say that you pursued godliness today?

August 4, Tuesday

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 19, 2013.  He is a graduate of Drexel University (BS) and Columbia International University (M.Div.).

Devotional Thought for This Morning

“It Matters Most When We Are Not Feeling It”

Psalm 108:1-13 (NIV)

My heart, O God, is steadfast; I will sing and make music with all my soul. 2 Awake, harp and lyre! I will awaken the dawn. 3 I will praise you, Lord, among the nations; I will sing of you among the peoples. 4 For great is your love, higher than the heavens; your faithfulness reaches to the skies. 5 Be exalted, O God, above the heavens; let your glory be over all the earth. 6 Save us and help us with your right hand, that those you love may be delivered. 7 God has spoken from his sanctuary: “In triumph I will parcel out Shechem and measure off the Valley of Sukkoth. 8 Gilead is mine, Manasseh is mine; Ephraim is my helmet, Judah is my scepter. 9 Moab is my washbasin, on Edom I toss my sandal; over Philistia I shout in triumph.” 10 Who will bring me to the fortified city? Who will lead me to Edom? 11 Is it not you, God, you who have rejected us and no longer go out with our armies? 12 Give us aid against the enemy, for human help is worthless. 13 With God we will gain the victory, and he will trample down our enemies.

lee-campbell-QVnw_3l_n0Y-unsplashThere are times in our lives when we naturally sing and make music in our hearts to the Lord: when things are going well; when we return from a mission trip or retreat; when we finally get that promotion.  When we find ourselves in seasons of abundance, such as these moments, we give God the praise out of the natural outpouring of our feelings.

But other times, we have to stir our hearts to praise God. It is during these times that we need to be reminded that God is still worthy, even when we’re not feeling it. It’s easy for us to just run off our lists of requests when we come to God in prayer, but it’s important for us to start, as David did in this psalm, with praise and declaration of God’s majesty and worth (especially in those times when we’re not feeling it—that’s when it matters most). And as we praise him, often our feelings will follow.

Let’s stir our hearts to praise the Lord this morning!

Prayer: Heavenly Father, I shall praise You whatever the circumstances.  I shall exalt Your holy name whether I am “well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want,” for I am eternally grateful for Your Son who died for my sin.   Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Galatians 1


Lunch Break Study

Read 2 Corinthians 9:6-11:  Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. 7 Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 8 And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. 9 As it is written: “They have freely scattered their gifts to the poor; their righteousness endures forever.” 10 Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. 11 You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.

Romans 12:1-2: “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. 2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

Questions to Consider

  1. What promises are we given in this passage?
  2. How are we able to “abound in every work”?
  3. What do you think Romans 12:1-2 mean?

Notes

  1. If we sow, we will reap. This is not merely a principle to live by (“you reap what you sow”) but it’s a promise from God. God will give us great increase, not only in material things, but spiritually as well.
  2. God gives us an abundance of blessing. He makes sure that we have exactly what we need all the time and in everything we do. Psalm 23:1 says that God’s people “lack nothing” because He provides for us. This not only enables us to do good works, but should also excite us to do them. And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:19) For it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose. (Philippians 2:13).
  3. Romans 12:1-2 calls us to give ourselves to God as an offering. While God calls us to give of our possessions, He also calls us to give our whole selves to Him. Yet sometimes our devotion to God is reluctant and under compulsion. Knowing that God provides for us and abundantly blesses our gifts, let us offer ourselves to Him cheerfully and abundantly (not grudgingly and sparingly).

Evening Reflection

A pastor said, “We hear a great deal about the Lord loving cheerful givers; we wonder where He finds them.”

Are you a cheerful giver? Do you give freely to those around you? Do you joyfully give yourself over to God daily? Pray and ask God to help you become a more joyful in your giving, trusting that He will abundantly bless you.

August 3, Monday

REPOST Today’s AMI Devotional Thought—first posted on December 22, 2013—is provided by Pastor Yohan Lee, a friend of AMI, who in the past has served as a staff at several AMI churches.  He is a graduate of University of Pennsylvania (BA) and Cairn University (MA).

Devotional Thought for This Morning

“A Husband’s Tone-Deaf Response that Led to Gaining Insight on God’s Knowledge of Us”

Psalm 139:1-6

You have searched me, Lord, and you know me. 2 You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. 3 You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. 4 Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely. 5 You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me. 6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.

milad-b-fakurian-UnzOXaCEHck-unsplashWhen it comes to gift giving, I am pretty bad.  Earlier on in our marriage, having been told by my wife, a nurse, how her feet got tired and soar at night, I got her a foot soaker and massage tubs, for Christmas no less.  Upon opening it, her effort to hide the disappointment was matched only by her wondering whether she’d really have to endure a lifetime of “stupid” gifts like these.   

What was the problem with the foot soaker?  Fundamentally, while I demonstrated some knowledge of my wife, the gift showed that I did not really know her.  Sure, the foot bath was practical and probably would have been awesome had she ever taken it out of the box, but what my wife really wanted was something pretty or exciting that tickled her heart, not something practical that you have to plug in.  I did not know this at the time.

In Psalm 139, we get a picture of just how deeply the Lord knows us.  Not only does He know our names, family members, favorite foods, hobbies, etc., He also knows our inmost thoughts, hopes, dreams, fears, and passions, even before we realize them ourselves.  Matthew 10:30 says that, “even the very hairs on your head are all numbered,” meaning that not only does the Lord know how many hairs you have, He cares for you to the level that He knows which one was first and which one was 1,673rd.  Hopefully, this level of detailed care blesses you.

So, do you truly believe that the Lord knows you better than you know yourself?  Do you live in the freedom of being truly known (which can be a scary proposition), yet truly loved?  Doesn’t it seem silly that we still hesitate to trust God at times, considering how much He knows and cares for us?  How else does the Lord’s knowledge and care for you impact your life?

Prayer: Dear Lord, I don’t know what to say, but You know me so well. You continue to love me. So I thank You. It is an absolute privilege that You honor me like that.  You are the King who rules over my soul. Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: 2 Corinthians 13


Lunch Break Study

Read Matt. 14:22-31: Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. 23 After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. Later that night, he was there alone, 24 and the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it. 25 Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. 26 When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear. 27 But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” 28 “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.” 29 “Come,” he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!” 31 Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?” 32 And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. 33 Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”

Questions to Consider

  1. What did Peter do well here?  What caused him to falter?
  2. Do you think that Jesus knew Peter was going to sink?  Why did he then call him out to the water?
  3. Imagine yourself in a boat in the middle of this very lake experiencing the same level of fear and anxiety the disciples encountered at the wee hours of the night.   What is it that Jesus is calling you out of, in faith, so that you can be near to the Lord?

Notes

  1. Peter did demonstrate, however brief, great faith.  Upon hearing the Lord’s call, he immediately stepped out on the water and even took a few steps, thus making him the only person other than Christ to have walked on water.  Of course, his downfall is that he looked around at the circumstances and took his eyes off of Christ.
  2. Of course, Christ knew that Peter would eventually sink since he knew him.  But the exercise gave Peter insight into what is possible and how much his faith needed to grow.  Sometimes, we learn just as much in failure as we do in success.  In the end, Christ was there to rescue Peter.  He is trustworthy, despite our imperfect faith.  We do not need to have perfect faith to walk on water.
  3. Personal response.

Evening Reflection

If you haven’t done so, consider how God’s knowledge and love for you should fuel your faith to trust him?  Is there something that you have been wrestling with, perhaps something you feel God wants you to do?  Can you trust God?  Do you struggle with fear of rejection or feelings of inadequacy?  Do you believe you are “fearfully and wonderfully made”?

August 2, Sunday

REPOST Today’s Spiritual Food for Thought, provided by Pastor Matt Ro who formerly pastored Journey Church in Atlanta, was first posted on May 19, 2013.  Matt is a graduate of University of Pennsylvania (BS) and Biblical Theological Seminary (M.Div.).

Spiritual Food for Thought for the Weekend

“A Very Needed Insight on Growing in Christ”

Ephesians 4:13-16 (ESV) 

“. . . until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, 14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. 15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.”

sean-brown-EOQWxAK9aNk-unsplashGrowth is God’s method.  Maturity is not something that happens easily or overnight.  We often get frustrated when we don’t see growth instantaneously, especially when we deal with sin and our dual natures as Paul talks about in Romans 7 (17 “As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me”). We are Christians if we have placed our faith in Christ and rest upon Him, but there is a process of growth that must follow, and it takes time for this to occur.

Remember what the writer of Hebrews says in Hebrews 5:12: “Though we ought to be teachers by this time, some are still in need of elementary truths.”  Sadly, this is what often happens in our Christian life.  We come into it as a newborn Christians, and for a long time we resist the great principles that make for Christian development.  It takes a while for us to realize that God’s intention with us is something quite different than what we had thought while growing up as natural men and women; thus, initially we resist these changes.  Then, the Lord orchestrates our lives in such a way that we give in, after which, we accept and understand the principles; shortly thereafter, we learn that it takes time to practice these principles even after we have grasped them.  But this is how spiritual growth happens in real life.

Oftentimes, we may discover that growth seems to be so slow.  Right when we think we have matured, seemingly out of nowhere, something happens—perhaps we run into a wrong person—and out it all (i.e., immaturity) comes again.  Then we are discouraged.  We go to the Lord and say, “Lord, what’s wrong with me?”, or we say, “Why don’t you hurry up this process?”  There are times when we feel tired of being immature.  But God has His own time, and sometimes it takes almost a lifetime to mature up fully. After all, it takes God years to grow an oak tree.

Nevertheless, I am eager for growth and love seeing growth.  We must always be in pursuit of spiritual growth, yet not being discouraged when we find we have a long way to go from being like Christ.  Take a moment and ask, “Which direction are you going?

Prayer:  Father, thank You for this reminder of my need to be patient in this process of growth. Help me to accept this fully and to trust that You will complete the good work that You began in me.  Amen.

Bible Reading for Today:  2 Corinthians 12

August 1, Saturday

REPOST Today’s Spiritual Food for Thought, written by Pastor Mark Chun of Radiance Christian Church in S.F., was originally posted on March 22, 2014.  Mark is a graduate of University of California, San Diego (BS) and Talbot School of Theology (M.Div.).

Spiritual Food for Thought for the Weekend

“Taking Responsibility”

Proverbs 16:1-3

“The plans of the heart belong to man, but the answer of the tongue is from the Lord.  All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the spirit.  Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established.”

joshua-kantarges-d0i6NMxY9SQ-unsplashProverbs 16 affirms the wisdom of taking responsibility for every decision we make, based on the fact that the plans of the heart belong to man.  When making life decisions, people make two mistakes:  First, they don’t take full responsibility for their choices; and second, they don’t factor in God’s providence into the outcome of their lives.  I’ve realized that it can be very difficult to work with Christians regarding career choices, relationships, and other life decisions because they are always looking for some sign from God.

In some ways, the modern believer is still looking for some power of divination to help find the will of God.  I think we all recognize that life would be so much easier if we just had a holy version of the eight ball to tell us what to do with our lives. We laugh at something like that, but is that any different than the person who flips open the Bible to a random spot and decides that whatever he reads is God’s answer?  A funny but true story: I had a friend from college who wondered if she would ever get married and decided to go to the Bible for some answers. She just happened to flip to Psalm 56:1 in her NIV and took great encouragement from the text because it told her, “For men hotly pursue me.”  Good thing she didn’t have the ESV because it would have said, “Men trample on me.”

The real question that we need to ask ourselves is, “Why do we want a fail proof method of making life decisions?”  And if we are honest, part of the answer is that we simply don’t want to be completely accountable for our decisions, especially if things go bad.  We need to have someone to blame, even if that someone is God.  I don’t know how many times I have heard people complain about a decision that they had made, and then blamed God for things not going the way they had planned.  This is a very dangerous road to go down in terms of our faith, because it replaces genuine trust in God with our selfish desire to control our lives.   For this reason, Proverbs 16:2 rightfully reminds us that “All the ways of man are pure in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the spirit.”   We know that the will of God is pure and good, but we find ways to screw it up.  In those times when life takes an unexpected turn, we must believe that only God can redeem all our choices and establish our plans!

Prayer:  Dear God, help me to stop blaming my circumstances or people in my life to explain away my failures.  Remind and empower me to take responsibility for my own life.  Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: 2 Corinthians 10-11

July 31, Friday

REPOST Today’s AMI QT Devotional, written by the then (2013) staff of Kairos Christian Church in San Diego, is an updated version of their blog first posted on July 12, 2013.

Devotional Thought for This Morning

“Fear of the Lord”

Psalm 76:4-10

You are radiant with light, more majestic than mountains rich with game. 5 The valiant lie plundered, they sleep their last sleep; not one of the warriors can lift his hands. 6 At your rebuke, God of Jacob, both horse and chariot lie still. 7 It is you alone who are to be feared. Who can stand before you when you are angry? 8 From heaven you pronounced judgment, and the land feared and was quiet—9 when you, God, rose up to judge, to save all the afflicted of the land.10 Surely your wrath against mankind brings you praise, and the survivors of your wrath are restrained.

jonathan-borba-KJVN5H_F2vY-unsplashPerhaps we have grown accustomed to portraits of Jesus with gentle features, cute animals or children, and an abundance of pastels.  Jesus is tender and loving but the radiance and majesty of God are also displayed in His might.

He defeats warriors and armies.  He conquers the enemies of His people, and no man, power or authority will thwart His purposes.  In a world with a great deal to fear, God is to be feared above all things.  Before this Warrior God, the earth itself is silent.

Proverbs tells us that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.  Does the fear of the Lord play a prominent role in your faith?  Reflect upon the majesty of God and ask Him to give you reverence before Him and courage before the world.

Prayer: Lord, I thank You that you are a mighty God.  My heart and my life bow down before You.  I am amazed that the One so great would take notice of me and would use His might to meet my needs.  I thank You that You are humble in Your majesty and loving in Your almighty power.  May my life bring You honor today.  Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: 2 Corinthians 9


Lunch Break Study

James 2:10-13 (NIV): For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it. 11 For he who said, “You shall not commit adultery,” also said, “You shall not murder.” If you do not commit adultery but do commit murder, you have become a lawbreaker. 12 Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, 13 because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment.

Questions to Consider

  1. How does James’ explanation of the lawbreaker apply to showing favoritism?
  2. What is due to those who have not been merciful?
  3. Consider the statement: mercy triumphs over judgment. How does mercy accomplish that?

Notes

  1. James was warning his readers about the danger of selective obedience. This was the great failing of the Pharisees. They would be very scrupulous and meticulous about certain laws while ignoring all the rest. Selective obedience fails to see the fundamental unity of the law. If we refrain from committing adultery but commit murder, we are guilty of breaking the law. To break one link in a chain is to break the chain.
  2. The two proverbs, “Judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful” and “Mercy triumphs over judgment,” perhaps coming from Jesus himself, close the section and make a bridge to the next. The OT clearly teaches that God is a God of mercy (Dt. 4:31) and that he commands his people to act in the same way (Mic. 6:8; Zech. 7:9). Jesus said, “Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy” (Mt. 5:7). He also said, “In the same way as you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you” (Mt. 7:2). Therefore, in not being merciful to the poor, they are heaping up strict judgment for themselves. If they are not showing mercy in the worldly sphere, they will not receive mercy in the eternal sphere.
  3. That mercy triumphs over judgment is also the teaching of Jesus (Mt. 6:14–15; 18:21–35). By showing mercy to others now (which means exhibiting the character of God), they will discover that their own judgment has been reduced.

Evening Reflection

Is God speaking to you through your circumstances these days? Spend some time discerning what God is saying? Is it consistent to His Word?

Prayer: Heavenly Father, I ask for Your mercies which are new every morning. Please help me to extend your mercies to others. Amen.