January 18, Monday

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 22, 2013.

Devotional Thought for This Morning 

“What Will It Take for Us to Truly Trust in God?”

Psalm 78:17-22

“But they continued to sin against him, rebelling in the desert against the Most High. 18 They willfully put God to the test by demanding the food they craved.  19 They spoke against God, saying, “Can God spread a table in the desert?  20 When he struck the rock, water gushed out, and streams flowed abundantly. But can he also give us food?  Can he supply meat for his people?”  21 When the Lord heard them, he was very angry; his fire broke out against Jacob, and his wrath rose against Israel, 22 for they did not believe in God or trust in his deliverance. 

Can you believe how faithless the Israelites were in this passage?  After all the miraculous things that God had done for them, such as helping them cross the Red Sea, guiding them in the wilderness by fire and clouds, providing them with water from rocks, they were still plagued with unbelief.  What did God have to do for them to believe?  They wondered, “Can God spread a table in the desert?  Can God supply meat for his people?”  It’s hard to believe, after all the things that God had done for them, how the Israelites could still doubt God.  

Yet at the same time, this is something that we know all too well.  How often have we taken matters into our own hands instead of trusting in God?  God has done so much for us but how easily we forget or we limit what He can do.  When we stop trusting in God and start trusting ourselves, we become like the Israelites in this passage who were disobedient and faithless, incurring God’s wrath upon themselves.

There are natural consequences to our sins.  Also, God disciplines us for our lack of faith and disobedience.  But keep in mind that God disciplines those He loves, hoping that through it, we would repent, trust in Him, and bear much fruit.  

Prayer: Father, I confess that many times I forget the amazing things that You have done in my life.  Forgive me for trying to control my circumstances and not trusting in You.  Help me to rely on You alone when hardships come.  Forgive my restless and rebellious heart and help me to remember Your faithfulness.  Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Genesis 21


Lunch Break Study 

Read James 4:5-6 (NIV): “Or do you think Scripture says without reason that he jealously longs for the spirit he has caused to dwell in us? But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: ‘God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.’”

Questions to Consider

  1. What does God jealously long for? (cf., Ex. 20:5) 
  2. What does God provide to those who reject friendship with the world? 
  3. Take an inventory of your life and allow the Holy Spirit to reveal to you what He longs to take hold of.   

Notes

  1. God jealously longs for our spirit to stay with him and break our friendship with the world. Since He created us and also purchased us through the blood of His precious Son, He jealously longs for us.
  2. God provides His grace and His favor for those who humble themselves. His grace is also given to those who have been humiliated. And the grace that God provides is not only “more” but extraordinary.  
  3. Personal response

Evening Reflection

As you begin another week, what “distractions” or “noise” could you place aside this week so that you can better hear His voice? 

Prayer: Heavenly Father, help me to always recognize that I belong to You and You alone. You are deserving of my worship, my life, my service, my spirit. Amen.

January 17, Sunday

REPOST Today’s AMI QT Devotional, provided by Pastor Yohan Lee, a friend of AMI, who in the past has served as a staff at several AMI churches, is an updated version of his blog first posted on April 13, 2014.  He is a graduate of University of Pennsylvania (BA) and Cairn University (MA).

Spiritual Food for Thought for the Weekend

“When Do You ‘Wear’ Christ?”

Galatians 3:25-29

But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, 26 for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. 27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.

I am generally not a soccer fan, except for about two weeks to a month, three times every four years, men’s World Cup, women’s World Cup, and the Summer Olympics.  During these events, I just can’t turn the television off; I can’t get enough soccer, and of course, I will stay up to ungodly hours to watch my team play live.  I can admit this, because I know that at least 50% of the people reading this post have done the same.  

Question, who do you root for in the World Cup or they Olympics?  I root for the red, white, and blue baby because I am an American!  However, I know that a lot of my friends and family members as well as many of you reading this post probably root for a small peninsulaic nation renown for making smartphones, tablets, and televisions.  

In sports, it’s harmless to root for one country while being a citizen of another, but in the Christian life, you will not function properly if you do not have your identity straight.  The Galatian Christians wanted to be Jews and Christians or Gentiles and Christians, but the problem was that their ethnic and cultural identity superseded their spiritual identity as followers of Christ.  Instead of relying and living by the blood of Christ, they fell back into living by the law.  

How do you identify yourself, are you a doctor, lawyer, investor, programmer, father, mother, wife, husband, son, daughter, etc.?  Practically speaking, do all of these come secondary to being a child of God?  Here is a litmus test, how do you treat people, especially those “beneath” you at work?  Do you play to the corporate games and politics even if it is a little dishonest?  Have come to terms with what it means to be a Christian in your profession?  Obviously, in your life being faithful to what God has given you and where He has placed you entails wearing several different “outfits,” but beneath it all, do you “cloth yourself in Christ” or is He just someone you wear on Sunday?  

Prayer: Dear Father, help me to remember that I am first a follower of You and everything else comes at a distant second.  Give me wisdom and boldness to discern that that means for me.  Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Genesis 20

January 16, Saturday

REPOST Today’s Spiritual Food for Thought, written by Pastor Sam Lee who leads Catalyst Agape Church in Northern New Jersey, was first posted on December 5, 2013.  He is a graduate of University of Wisconsin (BA) and Biblical Theological Seminary (M.Div.).

Spiritual Food for Thought for the Weekend

“Combatting the Religious Spirit”

Matthew 12:1-13

At that time Jesus went through the grainfields on the Sabbath. And His disciples were hungry, and began to pluck heads of grain and to eat. 2 And when the Pharisees saw it, they said to Him, “Look, Your disciples are doing what is not lawful to do on the Sabbath!” 3 But He said to them, “Have you not read what David did when he was hungry, he and those who were with him: 4 how he entered the house of God and ate the showbread which was not lawful for him to eat, nor for those who were with him, but only for the priests? 5 Or have you not read in the law that on the Sabbath the priests in the temple profane the Sabbath, and are blameless? 6 Yet I say to you that in this place there is One greater than the temple. 7 But if you had known what this means, ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice, you would not have condemned the guiltless. 8 For the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.” 9 Now when He had departed from there, He went into their synagogue. 10 And behold, there was a man who had a withered hand. And they asked Him, saying, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?”—that they might accuse Him. 11 Then He said to them, “What man is there among you who has one sheep, and if it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will not lay hold of it and lift it out? 12 Of how much more value then is a man than a sheep? Therefore it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.” 13 Then He said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” And he stretched it out, and it was restored as whole as the other. 14 Then the Pharisees went out and plotted against Him, how they might destroy Him.

Religious spirit is a demonic spirit that wages war against our identity in Christ, Christ work on the cross, and freedom and love in the body of Christ. It is a demonic spirit that influences us to do the work of ministry without intimate relationship with Christ. It operates so we function in the church without loving relationship with one another. It is a spirit that plagues us to either fill you with guilt and condemnation, so you never feel good enough, or it plagues you to look down on others because you think you are better than others. 

Religious spirit influences the people in the church to do the work of God out of self righteousness and self effort. It has the ability to make someone believe they are holy when they are in bondage. Religious spirit will make you become stuck in sin, shame, guilt, and pride. 

This evil spirit comes clothed in human righteousness but not God’s righteousness. Throughout history people wrongly admire people operating under this spirit’s influence; instead of rebuking it, we lift it up as a model to emulate. 

Let’s come together today and break its power. Let’s spend some time in confession and repentance. Let’s come together representing the church and ask God for forgiveness. Ask the Lord to cleanse His church from this evil spirit. Spend some time humbling ourselves before God. Break down the foundation of self and ask God to replace it with foundation of grace, love, and His righteousness. 

Prayer:  Dear Father, we know that one positive way to war against religious spirit is to proclaim the work of Jesus Christ in our live and in our churches. So now, I proclaim my love for the Lord, for His church, and for my community! Thank You, Lord. Amen. 

Bible Reading for Today: Genesis 18-19

January 15, Friday

REPOST Today’s AMI QT Devotional is a reprint of Kate Moon’s blog originally posted on December 26, 2013.  Kate continues to serve the Lord in E. Asia. 

Devotional Thought for This Morning 

“For as Long as I Shall Live, I Will Testify to Love”

Psalm 145:1-2, 9, 21

“I will exalt you, my God the King; I will praise your name forever and ever. 2 Every day I will praise you and extol your name forever and ever . . . 9 The Lord is good to all; he has compassion on all he has made . . . 21 My mouth will speak in praise of the Lord. Let every creature praise his holy name forever and ever.”

“For as long as I shall live, I will testify to love . . .” ~Avalon (Dec. 1997)

A few days ago, a daughter of some friends celebrated her sweet 16.  This winter break she’ll be traveling abroad on her first short-term missions trip to share God’s love with a people living in poverty.  As a daughter of missionaries, she has been on the field for much of her life because of her parents’ choices, but this is the first time she has made a decision on her own to dedicate a portion of her life to the Lord in this way.  Needless to say, her parents feel proud and gratified. 

It’s interesting to think of how she is living her life in tune with this song (by Avalon) that was in the air around the time she was born.  A song that sings of all the ways in which God has shown his love and how our response is to want to tell the world, both in words and actions.  It certainly is not a new theme; the identical thought runs throughout many of David’s psalms, including our scripture for this morning.

Meditate on the Lord’s goodness to all this morning.  Isn’t he worthy to be praised?  As my heart is filled with the wonders of his love, can I keep it in?  Will I have chances to testify to his love today?  Who can I share with?  Who can I tell?  Ultimately, the realization of God’s greatest love ever displayed, in Christ, compels us to be missional (i.e., reaching out to the world). 

Prayer: Lord Jesus, as I think upon your goodness, let the knowledge of your love fill my heart that it bursts with overflowing.  Let it be that my testimonies of your goodness cannot be contained but that I have to speak forth, share with friends, family, and all those around me this day. Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Genesis 17


Lunch Break Study

Read Psalm 145:14-20:The Lord upholds all who fall and lifts up all who are bowed down. 15 The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food at the proper time. 16 You open your hand and satisfy the desires of every living thing. 17 The Lord is righteous in all his ways and faithful in all he does. 18 The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth. 19 He fulfills the desires of those who fear him; he hears their cry and saves them. 20 The Lord watches over all who love him, but all the wicked he will destroy.”

Questions to Consider

  1. Psalm 145 is an acrostic, which means that the writer took the letters of the alphabet and tried to begin each line of his song with one of the letters, in order.  Something like:

Almighty God

Beautiful beyond all measure

Can anything compare with you?

Don’t think so…

Imagine trying to do something like this: would it be easier or harder to do it on a very specific topic?  Would it give more freedom if the topic were a general one, something that there is so much to say about?

  1. Look through Psalm 145 and list all the different things the writer is praising God for.
  2. Now, take a moment to make your own list.  If you are having hard time coming up with a long list, try getting specific, or think of what he has done in the lives of others as well as your own.

Notes

  1. The psalmist chooses the topic of “God is good” for this acrostic psalm because there is so much to say about this topic.  
  2. Verses 14-20 are where he lists some specifically.
  3.  When we meditate on God’s goodness, what we will find is that the list is endless, so long that there is enough there to praise him all our lives.

Evening Reflection

 How was it when I testified of his love today?  Was there any new experience of God’s goodness today that will be my testimony for tomorrow?

January 14, Thursday

REPOST Today’s AMI QT Devotional, provided by Cami King who serves as associate pastor at Remnant Church in Manhattan, was first posted on April 10, 2014.  Cami is a graduate of University of Pennsylvania (BA) and Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary (M.Div.).  

Devotional Thought for This Morning

“‘Usefulness’ of Religion That Leads to Blindness”

Galatians 2:15-21 

We ourselves are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners; 16 yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified. 17 But if, in our endeavor to be justified in Christ, we too were found to be sinners, is Christ then a servant of sin? Certainly not! 18 For if I rebuild what I tore down, I prove myself to be a transgressor. 19 For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God. 20 I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.21 I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose.

God gave His chosen people various commandments to follow and guidelines to live by so that they would be able to enjoy a relationship with Him, living lives of love of God and others. Yet over the years, that relationship (from their end) became mere religion – a system of rules and boundary-driven identity markers. It was this religiosity that eventually blinded them to God, so much so that they were not able to recognize Him when He was standing right in front of them (literally). 

Justification by faith in Christ should have been an easy jump for the Jews. After all, it was by no merit of their own that they were chosen as God’s people. It was a grace. And it was that same grace upon which they relied for generations as they failed to meet God’s standards. Over and over again God rescued them, not because of their works, but because of His faithfulness. But religion gives the illusion that it is something we’re doing (or not doing) that earns God’s favor. 

It is very easy for faith-based people to get wrapped up in religion. Our lives need order and the faith-based life is messy. We aren’t always able to see in the natural what we believe in the spiritual and we don’t have all the answers. So we create these systems to help us organize it all and get a handle on things. And, in this regard, religion serves us well. 

But while religion is important, it is not ultimate. It’s our way of systematizing what we’ve learned from God, but we don’t have it all figured out. So, we have to be careful not to let our religion blind us to what God is doing. God’s people didn’t intentionally misunderstand justification by faith (nor were they intentionally racist toward Gentiles). But they’d clung so tightly to their system (as opposed to their God) that they were blind and dumb to both. Whether it’s denominational standards or conservative/liberal values, we have to remember the God behind our systems (and the people He loves) is ultimate, but not the system. 

Prayer: Father, I thank you for the religious system(s) I’ve grown to adopt over the years. I know these are a help to me, but help me keep them in their place. Help me not to cling more tightly to my religion than to You. Jesus’ name, amen. 

Bible Reading for Today: Genesis 16


Lunch Break Study 

Read Isaiah 58:5-8: Is such the fast that I choose, a day for a person to humble himself? Is it to bow down his head like a reed, and to spread sackcloth and ashes under him? Will you call this a fast, and a day acceptable to the Lord?6 “Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the straps of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke?
7 Is it not to share your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover him, and not to hide yourself from your own flesh? 8 Then shall your light break forth like the dawn, and your healing shall spring up speedily; your righteousness shall go before you; the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard.

Questions to Consider

  1. What were God’s people doing wrong? 
  2. What did God want instead? 
  3. What is the result of proper fasting? 

Notes

  1. They were going through the religious motions of fasting without a heart of fasting. Their bodies seemed to be doing Godly things, but their hearts were not concerned with the things of God.   
  2. He wants their religious actions to lead their hearts to love of God and care for others. Otherwise, it is of no use. 
  3. God’s people experience His glory! Religion alone cannot do this, but relationship (in our hearts) with God guarantees it. 

Evening Reflection

Are there areas in your life where you’ve settled for religion as opposed to a living relationship with God? Pray and ask God to identify these areas and to exchange stale religious ritual for a fresh relationship with Him.  

January 13, Wednesday

Devotional Thought for This Morning

“An Army of Brothers and Sisters” 

Philemon 1:1-2a

“Paul . . . and Timothy our brother, to Philemon our dear friend and fellow worker— 2 also to Apphia our sister and Archippus our fellow soldier . . .” 

I know a pastor in his mid-50s, who still keeps in touch with his college buddies, who all happen to be in the ministry, through an annual retreat just among themselves.  Not only do they reminisce about the past, but also share insights for life and ministry; and they pray for one another.  One cannot help but feel somewhat envious, especially seeing their photos.

From the inception of this country, Americans have always valued individualists, who did it “My Way” without needing anyone’s help.  Nothing can be further from the biblical truth than this misguided notion that we can do it alone.  That certainly wasn’t the apostle Paul’s way: young Timothy was his brother; Philemon, a convert under his ministry, was now his dear friend and co-laborer; Apphia was his sister and Archippus, a fellow solder.  That’s what you call an army!

As a missionary in Mexico for eleven years, I served alone.  Since the brunt of my time was spent writing courses, perhaps, it was necessary.  And it was not as if I had no friends: several Mexican pastors whom I taught became really good friends and my wife will always be my best friend.  However, at the latter end of my stay there, I began to long to serve the Lord with others.  No doubt, that is one main reason I joined the family of AMI in which I no longer stand alone.  After close to ten years of serving, I can truly say I have gained new brothers, fellow workers and soldiers who serve with me; even better, they care about me.  Paul put it like this: “Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it . . . that its parts should have equal concern for each other” (1 Cor. 12:27, 25b). 

How about you?  Are you a proud Island outwardly but lonely inside?  How about visiting your church’s family or cell group this week and begin to really connect with others?  The first step is always unnerving but in no time you will feel at home.  Hopefully, as you interact with others in earnestness, you will gain an army of brothers, sisters, and friends who will walk and serve with you.  Do it His way.  

Prayer: Dear Jesus, I thank you that you are not only my Savior and Lord but also my friend (Lk. 5:20).  I thank you that as a believer, I am part of your body with many parts.  Help me to be a better friend and brother (sister) to those who feel lonely and alone.  And when I feel like that, send someone who will care for me as well.  Amen. 

Bible Reading for Today: Genesis 15


Lunch Break Study

Read 1 Cor. 12:20-5b:As it is, there are many parts, but one body. 21 The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I don’t need you!’ And the head cannot say to the feet, ‘I don’t need you!’ 22 On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, 24 while our presentable parts need no special treatment.  But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body . . .” 

Questions to Consider

  1. What are some attitudes that cause someone to dismiss others as if they are not that important? 
  2. What is God’s response to someone who acts that way toward others?
  3. Can you recall a time when someone whom you didn’t think much of ended up teaching you an important lesson?  What lesson did you learn from it?

Notes

  1. One factor is a superiority complex, which really is an inverted inferiority complex.  Anyone who has to disrespect or dismiss others to demonstrate his importance to others is an extremely insecure person.  
  2. God is saying that each person, no matter how pathetic an individual may appear, has value, particularly in the body of Christ; therefore, we shouldn’t easily discard him.  One is this: God prefers to use lowly and weak persons for His work to shame those who think they are mighty and strong, in order that the world may know that God is the one who did it  (1 Cor. 1:27-9).  In this way, people will put their trust in God, not in people.
  3. I learned from this wheelchair bound Mexican pastor, who always was joyful despite his condition that led to over sixty operations to fix his fractured bones, that I complain too much over little things.  

Evening Reflection

Of course, we cannot expect to make a life-long friend over night, right? But were you at least friendly toward others today?  What kept you from being friendly or nice to others?  Perhaps, in light of Romans 12:16—“live in harmony with one another”—we can do better tomorrow.

January 12, Tuesday

REPOST Today’s AMI QT Devotional, provided by Pastor Barry Kang who heads Symphony Church in Boston, is an updated version of his blog first posted on April 9, 2013.  He is a graduate of Stanford University (BA), Fuller Theological Seminary (M.Div.) and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary (D.Min.). 

Devotional Thought for This Morning

“The God Who Feels Our Pain”

Psalm 34:17-18

The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles. 18 The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.

There are times in our lives when our hearts are broken, when our spirits are crushed with defeat, discouragement or fear.  In those times, God can seem very far away.  Our prayers seem to bounce off the ceiling.  We don’t see evidence of God’s blessing or grace.  But the Psalmist reminds us that even in those times (and perhaps especially in those times), God is close.  God promises his presence and care.

God is not just near-by from a spatial perspective.  He is emotionally close to those who are hurting.  God is compassionate and caring, and is moved by our suffering.  The God who was revealed in Jesus is a God who feels our pain even as he brings peace and comfort.  There was no pain that God in Jesus did not endure.  On the cross, Jesus experienced all of our pain and wounded-ness.

Furthermore, as the body of Christ, we are reminded to draw near to the broken-hearted.  With our hands, God can feed the hungry and heal the sick.  With our arms, God can embrace the suffering.

Have you experienced the nearness of God in the midst of broken-heartedness?  Let’s ask God to open our eyes to sense his nearness and compassion today.

Prayer: Father, thank You for being near to the broken-hearted.  Open the eyes of my heart, that I may see the reality of Your nearness.  Help me to be Your hands and feet today so that others may sense Your nearness also.  In Jesus’s name, I pray.  Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Genesis 14


Lunch Break Study

Read Matthew 25:31-40 (NIV): When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. 34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ 37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ 40 “The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’”

Questions to Consider

  1. Who are the ones that Jesus will choose for his inheritance?
  2. Who are the “least of these brothers of mine”?  What does this tell us about Jesus? (c.f.  Acts 9:4)
  3. How will true followers of Jesus act toward fellow members of the church? (c.f. Genesis 12:3)

Notes

  1. It is amazing to consider that Jesus personally identifies with every single member of the church.  When Saul persecuted the church in Acts 9, Jesus asked Saul why he was persecuting him.  We too then must view one another as Jesus’s representatives on this earth.  Could it be that when we bless one another, we are blessed?  When we curse one another, we are cursed?
  2. Those who are troubled and in great need 
  3. Of course, our compassion must extend outside of the church as well.  But we must begin by loving our brothers and sisters in Christ.

Evening Reflection

Did you experience the nearness of God today?  Did you receive love or give love to another member of the body?  Write of ways that you experienced love today and ask God to help you consider ways to draw near to brothers and sisters who are broken-hearted.

January 11, Monday

UPDATED Today’s AMI QT Devotional, provided by Pastor Matt Ro who formerly pastored Journey Church in Atlanta, was originally posted on May 28, 2013.  Matt is a graduate of University of Pennsylvania (BS) and Biblical Theological Seminary (M.Div.). 

Devotional Thought for This Morning

“The God Who Hears”

Psalm 59:1-5 (ESV)

Deliver me from my enemies, O my God; protect me from those who rise up against me; 2 deliver me from those who work evil, and save me from bloodthirsty men. 3 For behold, they lie in wait for my life; fierce men stir up strife against me. For no transgression or sin of mine, O Lord, 4 for no fault of mine, they run and make ready. Awake, come to meet me, and see! 5You, Lord God of hosts, are God of Israel. Rouse yourself to punish all the nations; spare none of those who treacherously plot evil. 

Has the New Year gotten off to a disappointing start?  In fact, has it been nothing short of disaster with situations in your life quickly turning sour and people around you acting very badly? Welcome to real life—something King David, who penned today’s psalm, knew all too well.

Psalm 59 is another psalm that has a historical setting from David’s life as it looks back to his first troubles with King Saul.  Now, because some psalms seem like quaint poetry containing noble thoughts, we may lose a feel for their urgency.  But in this psalm David’s urgency is vividly seen in vv. 1-2 with the use of words such as deliver, protect, and save.   It is in prayer that we present our urgency and reason to God.  David gives three 3 reasons why God should hear his prayer:

The first reason is that David was facing danger (v.3).  God is omniscient yet wants us to call things to his attention.  

The second reason has to do with David’s innocence (vv. 3-4).  In David’s blamelessness (“no transgression or sin of mine,” “for no fault of mine”), he protests his innocence before Saul as an appeal to God with confidence.  If we are innocent of wrong-doing, then we can have a similar confidence as we pray.  

The third and the most important reason: The character of God (v. 5).  “LORD God of hosts, God of Israel” contains a mouthful of names.  Yahweh, the great personal name of God revealed to Moses on Sinai means, “I am who I am.”  Elohim Sabaoth, “the God of hosts,” refers to both the armies of Israel and to the heavenly hosts.  Elohi Israel, “the God of Israel,” refers to the God who has entered into a covenant relationship with Israel.  All in all, we learn from David that we can remember God’s power by employing the various names of God.  

Prayer:  Father, I will hold on to Your name and character at all times.  Thank You that You hear my prayers.  I call upon Your name this morning with great urgency for You know my every need.  It is in You that I will trust.  Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Genesis 13


Lunch Break Study

Read Ephesians 4:7-10 (ESV): But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift. 8 Therefore it says, “When he ascended on high he led a host of captives, and he gave gifts to men.”  9 (In saying, “He ascended,” what does it mean but that he had also descended into the lower regions, the earth? 10 He who descended is the one who also ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things.)

Questions to Consider

  1. How is the church expected to demonstrate the power of God and thus influence society? 
  2. What happens to the physical body when cells revolt?
  3. Application:  Do you know what your gift is?  Have you asked yourself: “What is the gift(s) that God has given to me since I am a Christian?  What is the general area of ministry that he wants me to serve in?  The impact on the church and the joy you experience is directly tied to those questions.

Note

  1. Paul says that the power of the church lies in all Christians discovering and exercising their spiritual gifts.  These gifts are given to us when we become a member of the body of Christ.  We need to recover the strength God intended the church to exert in society.  This happens as each individual exercises one’s spiritual gifts. That is also how a physical body functions: Cells do what they were designed to do.  And the functioning of each cell helps the body to operate effectively.
  2. The body does not operate when the cells revolt. Did you ever experience a rebellion of the muscle cells of your stomach? We call it indigestion!  It means that the body is sick, and it is not operating the way it was intended to. This also is a problem in the churches today.  Many churches, having forgotten that it is a body, have tried to operate as another human organization; therefore, it has no more power than any other human organization at work in the world. But Paul reminds us that the secret of the operation of the church is that each Christian has a gift working together as a body.
  3. Personal response

Evening Reflection

How do you see your role and responsibility within your local church?  Are there ways that you can use your gifts to better the body Christ?  Take some time to journal what passions/gifts you have and how they could be utilized within the church.

Prayer:  Father, thank You for the spiritual gifts You have given me. Let me not only discover them but to use them to better Your body and glorify Your Son in the power of the Spirit. Amen.

January 10, Sunday

REPOST Today’s AMI QT Devotional, provided by Pastor Charles Choe who leads Tapestry Church in Los Angeles, was first posted on June 28, 2014.  Charles is a graduate of University of California, Riverside (BA) and Fuller Theological Seminary (M.Div.).

Devotional Thought for This Morning

“Eyes on the Prize”

1 Timothy 6:12

“Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.”

I’m not much of a runner, but I’m willing to do anything for a good cause. So I decided to run 10 miles to raise money for a clinic for prenatal babies. But I must admit that about halfway through the run, I was dying. Yes, I wanted to quit; in fact, every muscle in my body was telling me to quit.  Nevertheless, since each mile meant more money, I ran and ran and ran some more, until I finally made it back to that clinic with ten miles under my belt. How could I have finished what I thought I had no ability for? I kept my eyes on the prize, on the finish line. This finish line meant more money for the clinic, and of course, not being a quitter to my sponsors. Keeping my eyes on my goal certainly made all the difference in the world.  

This is what Paul did with Timothy. Paul wanted to steel his protégé for the good fight. He did so by reminding him of the vision of God. Notice how Paul tells Timothy that God is the giver of life. We might feel beaten and disappointed, unable to handle the pressures of life at times, but it is God who renews us with vigor and vivacity. 

God in His grace will give us these moments of refreshment so we will not lose heart when the times of discouragement come. But there’s more: God gives us this renewal or vitality for an even greater purpose, which is to make “the good confession.” To make the good confession is to make God known through Christ to everyone, everywhere. This is the ultimate purpose for our lives. We are to give ourselves to this cause with every ounce of life God gives us; this is what makes life worth living. 

Are you in the good fight? Does the ultimate purpose of your life reflect the purpose to which God has called you? Are you aware that God, the giver of life, has breathed life into you so that you can confess Christ to others? Take some time to acknowledge your need for God, and how your life only makes sense in the light the good confession He has called you to make. 

Prayer: Father, teach me to fight, knowing that You are the author and sustainer of life. Through Your Spirit who lives in me, allow me the same resolution to be a faithful witness that Jesus demonstrated. Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Genesis 12

January 9, Saturday

REPOST Today’s Spiritual Food for Thought, written by Pastor Sam Lee who leads Catalyst Agape Church in Northern New Jersey, was first posted on December 4, 2013.  He is a graduate of University of Wisconsin (BA) and Biblical Theological Seminary (M.Div.).

Spiritual Food for Thought for the Weekend

“What Should I Do When I Am Inundated with Emotional Pain?”

Hebrews 12:15

See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many. 

Emotional pain is not evil but serves a vital purpose. Emotional pain is similar to physical pain in a sense that it signals a warning that something is wrong. If you have a splinter in your hand, you will get a pain signal to let you know there is something in your hand that should not be there. The pain is telling you that you need healing and that you should seek healing. That pain is not a signal to hurt others. It wouldn’t make any sense if the pain of the splinter makes you attack others with sharp splinters.

Emotional pain is also a signal for you to seek healing. It is not a signal for you to be bitter. The emotional pain is not to be used to judge, lash out, or hurt others. Jesus was rejected and felt pain, yet He was without sin. Jesus did not respond to the emotional pain with bitterness. As Jesus was hanging on the cross, Jesus said “forgive them for they do not know what they are doing.” 

The Bible says the bitter root, if it starts to grow in our heart, will grow “to cause trouble and defile many,” meaning the bitter root will bear bad fruits in your life. You will not be able to overcome spiritual attacks. There will be pattern of dysfunction in different areas of your life; God’s blessing is hidden. And other relationships, might be good now, but later will even break the good relationships. 

We need to forgive when we have bitter root in our heart. Forgiveness allows the ministry of healing to touch the emotional pain. Unforgiveness says, “Because you unjustly hurt me, you owe me a debt; I will make you pay.” Forgiveness says, “Even though you hurt me and owe me a debt, I am writing it off. You owe me nothing. It is not my place to make you pay, and I release you to the judgment of God. He is the just judge, and He will rightly decide the case. If there is any penalty, He will collect it.”  So, let it go; forgive! 

Prayer: Dear Father, I praise and glorify Your name.  Lord, please help me to identify bitter root in my heart so that I can forgive those who wronged me.  Help me also to identify what I have done to others so that I can ask for their forgiveness as well.  Amen. 

Bible Reading for Today: Genesis 10-11