October 12, Tuesday

REPOST Today’s AMI QT Devotional, provided by Pastor Ryun Chang (AMI Teaching Pastor), was first posted on October 7, 2014.  

Devotional Thought for This Morning

“Making Good on God’s Investment”

Luke 12:48b (NIV)

“From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.”

The place where the AMI Institute 2012 was held, Wilshire Boulevard close to Korean town in Los Angeles, was familiar to me since I lived there in the 1980s.  Jogging around the streets early in the morning, I saw another familiar sight: Hispanic men waiting for someone to give them work.  Some 30 years ago, I could have justified ignoring them since I couldn’t communicate in Spanish; but now, after living in Mexico for a decade, language isn’t a problem.  So, I should get involved but do I want to, on the street, no less? 

In the parable of the talents, the master, before leaving on a journey, apportions different amount of money to his servants.  Upon returning, he is pleased that those who had received five and two talents, respectively, put them to work and multiplied them by two-fold.  But the servant with one talent hid it in the ground, choosing to do nothing.  Not too pleased, the master orders that the lone talent be taken away and given to the one who now has ten talents, saying, “Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him” (Matt. 25:29).

Evidently, God doesn’t want his investment wasted, although many do just that.  The master minces no words when calling the irresponsible servant “wicked” and “lazy.”  Lazy, yes, but wicked?   You may say that too if you are called “a hard man,” as did this servant, whose gains came from exploiting people (v.24).   The passive-aggressiveness of this servant, miffed at having received less than others, likely was his way of getting back at his boss; meanwhile, he refused to see that a talent was still worth more than a thousand dollars. 

So the next two mornings, armed with fresh coffee and donuts, I went to minister to the men with God’s word and prayer.  It was a good return for God’s investment in enabling me to speak Spanish and to have a few bucks in my wallet.  Today, look around to see whether God’s investment in you can bring some hope and smile to those caught in a difficult moment.  

Prayer: Glorious Father, how awesome it is to encounter You every day, and to have access to You at any moment and any place.  Thank You for everything that you have given me, but forgive me for often assuming that they are all for me.  Remind me every day that I MUST use your investment in my life to expand your kingdom.   Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Nehemiah 9


Lunch Break Study

Read 1 Timothy 6:17-9 (NIV): Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. 18 Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. 19 In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.

Eccle. 5:19:Moreover, when God gives someone wealth and possessions, and the ability to enjoy them, to accept their lot and be happy in their toil—this is a gift of God

Questions to Consider

  1. What are the two things that God wants us to do with the riches that have been given to us?
  2. What should motivate us to share what God has given us?
  3. What are some talents that you feel God has given you?  Honestly appraise how you are using them.

Notes

  1. First, it is for us to enjoy, but we shouldn’t take this for granted:  God must give us the ability to enjoy in order to really take pleasure in our riches. Second, it is using them to do good works and share with those in need.  I think the ability to enjoy our wealth is tied to whether it is making a difference in the lives of others.
  2. The ultimate motivation is the hope of heaven; and our reward is based on how we have lived on earth, which includes having used our wealth to do good works.  
  3. The basic things that everyone has are time and money.  Also, everyone is slightly better than others in something: that can be considered talent.   It can be used to help those who aren’t as good as you are in that area. 

Evening Reflection

When you see someone who has so much more than you, how do you feel?  Don’t fixate on how little you have; instead, focus on what you do have and use it to do positive things.  Ask God for strength. 

October 11, Monday

REPOST Today’s QT Devotional—first posted on June 3, 2015—is provided by Pastor Yohan Lee, a friend of AMI, who in the past has served as a staff at several AMI churches.  He is a graduate of University of Pennsylvania (BA) and Cairn University (MA).

Devotional Thought for This Morning

“Valuing Friendship”

2 Samuel 23:13-17

During harvest time, three of the thirty chief warriors came down to David at the cave of Adullam, while a band of Philistines was encamped in the Valley of Rephaim. 14 At that time David was in the stronghold, and the Philistine garrison was at Bethlehem. 15 David longed for water and said, “Oh, that someone would get me a drink of water from the well near the gate of Bethlehem!” 16 So the three mighty warriors broke through the Philistine lines, drew water from the well near the gate of Bethlehem and carried it back to David. But he refused to drink it; instead, he poured it out before the Lord. 17 “Far be it from me, Lord, to do this!” he said. “Is it not the blood of men who went at the risk of their lives?” And David would not drink it.

 The state of California has this thing called “transitional kindergarten,” which is basically an extra year of kindergarten for kids who are months too young for regular kindergarten.  What is interesting is that in San Francisco, transitional kindergarten is not done at the elementary school where the kids will eventually matriculate—meaning, just because kids are in the same school for TK doesn’t mean they will be in the same elementary school.  As a result, my son will be separated from his “bff” (as they call each other) next year.  My wife and I are heartbroken over this, but I think we are taking this worse my son is. 

One of the unique attributes of King David that we see in the Bible was his ability to draw people to himself—to make friends if you will.  Although we do not often think about David’s mighty men as his friends, these men were drawn to serve David out of a love that resembled friendship more than a sense of duty that soldiers have for their king—why else would these three men risk their necks to make this incredible water break? (As an aside, husbands, if your pregnant wife asks you to make a “craving run” and you don’t want to do it, think of this story.)  David also is to be admired, for he understood and respected their commitment and service and did the best thing he could do with such a humbling gift—he devoted it to the Lord.  

While at GCC, Pastor Young probably spoke on or mentioned the value of Christian friendships at least every month or so.  Sheepishly, I must admit that it has taken me almost 20 years to start to take to heart what he was talking about.  I’ve always had friends, but I think in my younger years, I relied on them less and trusted in myself more.  As I am getting older, and the stakes in my life get bigger and bigger (marriage, kids, ministry, etc.), I realize how important it is to have friends who can help me think through things, share prayer requests with—and yes, even laugh with.  

What kind of friendships do you have?  Do you truly value these relationships?  What kind of friend are you?  Do you share and speak with your closest friends about things that truly matter?  Do you push each other on to love and serve Christ more?  If not, let’s make it a goal today to deepen some of the relationships we have.  

Prayer: Thank you, Lord, for the friendships I have.  Help me to be someone who sharpens my friends, and grant me the humility to allow them to speak into my life as well.  Ultimately, help me to love others.  Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Nehemiah 8


Lunch Break Study

Read Acts 2:42-47: And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. 43 And awecame upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. 44 And all who believed were together and had all things in common. 45 And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. 46 And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts,47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.

Questions to Consider

  1. What was the community devoted to?
  2. How did the early church take care of one another?
  3. What happened in this community?

Notes

  1. The early church was devoted to the apostle’s teaching (consider it the Bible), fellowship (being together), breaking of bread (communion or remembering Christ), and prayer.  
  2. They shared their possessions, continually met together, ate together, and won the favor of people.  It is also important to note there was power in this community.  
  3. God added to their number those who were being saved.  

Evening Reflection

How do your views of or commitment to community/church need to change?  Do you have friends who help you love Christ more?  Do you help your friends love Christ more?  Is there giving and sacrifice, as well as genuine love for one another in your church or cell group? 

October 10, Sunday

REPOST Today’s AMI QT Devotional is a reprint of Kate Moon’s blog originally posted on October 25, 2015.  Kate continues to serve the Lord in E. Asia. 

Spiritual Food for Thought for the Weekend

“What to Do on Rainy Days”

Ezra 10:9-13

“Within the three days, all the men of Judah and Benjamin had gathered in Jerusalem. And on the twentieth day of the ninth month, all the people were sitting in the square before the house of God, greatly distressed by the occasion and because of the rain. 10 Then Ezra the priest stood up and said to them, ‘You have been unfaithful; you have married foreign women, adding to Israel’s guilt. 11 Now honor the Lord, the God of your ancestors, and do his will. Separate yourselves from the peoples around you and from your foreign wives.’ 12 The whole assembly responded with a loud voice: ‘You are right! We must do as you say. 13 But there are many people here and it is the rainy season . . .’”

In church growing up, I often found it strange when a pastor or whoever was making announcements would thank or praise the people for coming out on a Sunday even though it was a rainy day.  To me, church was like school or work or even plans to go watch a movie – if it was a pre-planned indoor activity, it would never cross my mind to cancel just because it was raining.  Not being willing to go through rain seemed kind of silly to me.  And then I moved to Asia.

Of the many things that clicked for me after moving here, all the things that I’d never quite understood (like why do Asian older people always seem to be so concerned about whether I’ve eaten or not?) but have since moving here figured out were cultural (“Have you eaten, yet?” is a greeting not meant to be taken literally), rainy days was one of them.  At first surprised by how easily people cancelled plans on a rainy day, now I, too, take it in as a factor for whether or not I want to go out (or still ask someone to come out to meet me) on a given day.

On first reading about how the gathered Israelites were “distressed by the occasion and because of the rain,” as if the two of were equal importance, it seems almost comical.  But on further reflection, it is a touching detail that the historian chose to record, an acknowledgment of human frailty and vulnerability to the inclemencies of weather.  That the leaders took the people’s emotional state, affected by their physical discomfort and threat of illness, into account is touching as well.  

The way the leaders and people interacted showed a healthy mutual respect.  The leaders had come up with the “what” they needed to do, the people responded with the “how” with suggestions for adjustments to the original plan, and the leaders listened.  The leaders could have taken the people’s suggestions the wrong way, misinterpreting their not wanting to deal with the problem right there and then as their not taking the matter seriously; it is to the leaders’ credit that they were able to see the people’s heart was to do the right thing.  A good example to take to heart today.  

Prayer: Lord, when interacting with others today, help me to put the person first, trusting their intentions, taking into consideration their concerns.  Help me to be loving.  In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Nehemiah 7

October 9, Saturday

REPOST Today’s Spiritual Food for Thought, provided by Pastor Ryun Chang (AMI Teaching Pastor), was first posted on January 18, 2014.  

Spiritual Food for Thought for This Morning 

“Yes I can, in Him”

1 Cor. 1:28

God chose . . . the things that are not—to nullify the things that are.”

Many years ago, AMI planted a church in Iasi, Romania; but there was a time when planting a new church in this country was impossible because of the dictator Nicolae Ceausescu.  As the leader of this communist state for 30 years, he treated the people with cruelty and harshness, while he himself was living in luxury.  

Who, then, was responsible for toppling this dictator in 1989?  According to the secular magazine Time, it was none other than Laszlo Tokes, an ordinary pastor who served the Hungarian Reformed Church in Romania.  No, he didn’t secretly train a militia to topple the government; rather, he stood upon a biblical mandate that exhorts the believers to cry out against injustice: “Learn to do right!  Seek justice, encourage the oppressed.  Defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow” (Isa. 1:17). Tokes spoke against the Ceausescu government, especially its effort to dissolve Hungarian communities by forcefully relocating them against their wishes and confiscating their lands.  

Singled out by the government, Tokes was denied of a ration book needed to buy food or fuel; the police barred him from meeting relatives and shut off his phone; he was beaten and stabbed by thugs; finally, the Court evicted him out of his house.  However, as Time reported, “Hundreds of supporters formed a human chain around Toke’s building to protect him, thus triggering the crackdown that helped inspire the nationwide demonstrations that toppled Nicolae Ceausescu.”

So, this morning, be encouraged that God, who used an ordinary pastor to set in motion forces that led to getting rid of an unjust government, can use you as well.  Remember, God “chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong . . . to nullify the things that are so that no one may boast before him” (1 Cor. 1:27, 29).  

So, are you feeling the blues, perhaps feeling useless?  Don’t give up hope; stay in God’s word.  Do something today that will cheer up someone and do it in Jesus’ name.  

Prayer: Lord, constantly remind me to look up and see that in Christ I can do all things through him who strengthens me (Phil. 4:13).  Amen.  

Bible Reading for Today: Nehemiah 5-6

October 8, Friday

UPDATEDToday’s AMI QT Devotional, first posted on September 25, 2015, is written by Tina Hsu who serves as AMI missions coordinator.  Tina, a graduate of Biola University (BA) and Talbot School of Theology (M.Div.) and is married to Anthony.  

Devotional Thought for This Morning

“Is It Just a Matter of Formality?”

2 Kings 23:3, 24-26 (NASB)

The king stood by the pillar and made a covenant before the LORD, to walk after the LORD, and to keep His commandments and His testimonies and His statutes with all his heart and all his soul, to carry out the words of this covenant that were written in this book. And all the people entered into the covenant. 24Moreover, Josiah removed the mediums and the spiritists and the teraphim and the idols and all the abominations that were seen in the land of Judah and in Jerusalem, that he might confirm the words of the law which were written in the book that Hilkiah the priest found in the house of the LORD. 25 Before him there was no king like him who turned to the LORD with all his heart and with all his soul and with all his might, according to all the law of Moses; nor did any like him arise after him.

Some of us who follow a reading plan to read the Bible in one year, have had times when we had absolutely no idea what we had just read; nonetheless, we were content to mark off another 5 chapters from the reading chart. In this way the reading of God’s Word becomes a matter of daily formality. 

But King Josiah wasn’t like that.  Upon discovering the Book of God’s Law that had been lost for a long time, he devoted himself to purify the land of Judah of its idolatry so that Judah’s ways would conform to what was written in God’s book. He read God’s Word to the people of Judah and led them to renew their commitment to walk in the way of the Lord. The majority of this chapter (vv. 4-20) records how Josiah removed idolatrous priests from the house of the LORD, removed altars that previous kings of Judah had built, burned vessels that were for Baal and Asherah worship, and more. Josiah truly turned to the Lord with all his heart, all his soul, and certainly, with all his might. 

Though Josiah knew that God was going to “remove Judah and cast off Jerusalem” (23:27) because the generations of his forefathers had forsaken God, the Book of the Law (God’s Word) led Josiah to lead the nation back to God in his lifetime. He let God’s Word, which Judah had neglected for many years, define his course of action and his leadership. Though the outcome for Judah was sealed, Josiah was instrumental in preserving covenant faithfulness for Judah in his lifetime. In this way, Josiah was successful and Scripture records, “there was no king like him…nor did any like him arise after him” (23:25). Though he had no control over Judah’s future, he glorified God by faithfully keeping a covenant relationship with God. 

The Word of God provides power for endurance and faithfulness. Nothing can nourish our souls and strengthen us to do the work of the Lord than the very words of God. If reading or listening to the Word of God is lacking in your daily spiritual life, ask the Lord today to renew your thirst and devotion for His Word. 

Prayer: Dear Jesus, I desire for your commands and your Words to be near and dear to me. As your Word is able to equip me to do every good work, help me to spend time in your Word daily. In Jesus’ name, Amen. 

Bible Reading for Today: Nehemiah 4


Lunch Break Study

Read Matthew 4:1-4 (NASB): Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 2 And after He had fasted forty days and forty nights, He then became hungry. 3 And the tempter came and said to Him, “If you are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.” 4 But He answered and said, “It is written, man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.”

Questions to Consider

  1. What is happening during this time in Jesus’ life and ministry?
  2. What is the nature of Satan’s temptation?
  3. How does Jesus’ answer minister and encourage you today?

Notes

  1. This takes place at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry. John the Baptist baptized Jesus at the Jordan River, where Jesus revealed that He came to “fulfill all righteousness” (Mt. 3:15). He came to fulfill and complete what man, tainted by sin, could not do. The world fell under the power of sin because man was overcome by temptation, but Jesus has now come to face temptation and to overcome it by the Word of God.  
  2. Satan’s temptations begin with “If you are the Son of God” (v. 3). Satan desires to drive a wedge between Jesus’ love relationship with the Father. He wants to deceive Jesus into using His own power and role for His own personal gain. He wants to hinder Jesus from trusting and obeying the Father’s will. 
  3. Personal response

Evening Reflection

Meditate on Psalm 119:103-104

How sweet are Your words to my taste! Yes, sweeter than honey to my mouth! From Your precepts I get understanding; therefore I hate every false way.

October 7, Thursday

REPOSTToday’s AMI QT Devotional, first posted on June 11, 2015, is provided by Phillip Chen who is associate pastor at Kairos Christian Church in San Diego.  Phil is a graduate of University of California, San Diego (BS) and Talbot School of Theology (M.Div.).

Devotional Thought for This Morning

“Making Difficult Decisions”

1 Kings 3:7-12 (ESV)

And now, O Lord my God, you have made your servant king in place of David my father, although I am but a little child. I do not know how to go out or come in. And your servant is in the midst of your people whom you have chosen, a great people, too many to be numbered or counted for multitude. Give your servant therefore an understanding mind to govern your people, that I may discern between good and evil, for who is able to govern this your great people?” It pleased the Lord that Solomon had asked this. And God said to him, “Because you have asked this, and have not asked for yourself long life or riches or the life of your enemies, but have asked for yourself understanding to discern what is right, behold, I now do according to your word. Behold, I give you a wise and discerning mind, so that none like you has been before you and none like you shall arise after you.

As I was watching the movie Selma, I was struck by what a difficult position Martin Luther King Jr. must have been in as he pioneered the Civil Rights Movement. In the movie, many important decisions needed to be made, including the march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama. In one scene during a peaceful march, he kneels down and prays, then makes a decision to turn back, despite pressure to move forward. What a difficult decision to make! 

Solomon recognized the difficulty of governing a multitude of people and leading them to follow the ways of the Lord. He rightly asks God for supernatural wisdom in leading the people of God, understanding the complexity behind leadership. He understands his limitations and appeals to God for greater wisdom and discernment. He does this because he sees how precious these people are and understands that they are entrusted into his stewardship, which causes him to take his reign over Israel seriously rather than nonchalantly. 

There are two things that we can glean from this passage. First, we must understand the gravity of decisions that our leaders must make, therefore, we should constantly pray for God to give them wisdom in discerning what is right and wrong. We must trust that the leaders that God appoints over us desire our good and must answer to God for what was entrusted to them in a position of leadership. In that, we need to continually pray for God to give them an understanding mind to lead His people.

Secondly, we must also see whom God has entrusted into our hands and ask God for wisdom and understanding for ourselves in leading them to Him. We need to see the people whom God has placed in our lives as precious in His sight and desire to see them enter a maturing relationship with Jesus. Understand that in your lifetime, there will be those you answer to and those that answer to you. We are constantly in a cycle of being led and leading others, so let us submit to those leading us and faithfully care for those we are leading. 

Prayer: Father, we pray for our leaders who need so much wisdom in leading us. Help us to trust in them as they lead and watch over us, and give them the wisdom to do what is pleasing to You. We also pray that You would reveal to us those that You have placed in our lives for us to influence. May we see each and every person You place in our lives as a precious one that You desire to love and may we be faithful in leading them in Your ways as well. Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Nehemiah 3


Lunch Break Study

Read Hebrews 13:17-18 (ESV): Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you. Pray for us, for we are sure that we have a clear conscience, desiring to act honorably in all things. I urge you the more earnestly to do this in order that I may be restored to you the sooner.

Question to Consider

  1. Why does the author encourage us to obey and submit to our leaders?
  2. How can we bless our leaders?
  3. How can we pray for our leaders?

Notes

  1. Those who are leading us are accountable for us. When they stand before Jesus, they will have to answer for the way they cared for us and led us, and so we should not grieve them by trying to question their every move (assuming they are faithfully following God).
  2. When we submit to them and trust that they really care about our well-being, we can see their joy in leading rather than groaning because of the opposition of those that they are leading. A leader cannot lead well if those they are leading constantly oppose them. 
  3. We not only pray for wisdom for our leaders, but that they have a clear conscience in their leadership. Leaders are not superhuman and are prone to sin as well, so we should pray all the more that they hear God clearly and have the character to obey God and lead His people.

Evening Reflection

Do you pray for your leaders? Do you take the people you are leading seriously? Begin to get in the habit of praying for God to release a spirit of wisdom over your leaders as well as asking God for wisdom so that you might be faithful in leading others in the ways of the Lord.

October 6, Wednesday

REPOSTToday’s AMI QT Devotional, provided by Pastor Barry Kang who heads Symphony Church in Boston, was first posted on October 5, 2015.  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

“God’s Promise: Can He Forget About It?”

Ezra 1:1-4

In the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled, the Lord stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, so that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom and also put it in writing: 2 “Thus says Cyrus king of Persia: The Lord, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth, and he has charged me to build him a house at Jerusalem, which is in Judah. 3 Whoever is among you of all his people, may his God be with him, and let him go up to Jerusalem, which is in Judah, and rebuild the house of the Lord, the God of Israel—he is the God who is in Jerusalem. 4 And let each survivor, in whatever place he sojourns, be assisted by the men of his place with silver and gold, with goods and with beasts, besides freewill offerings for the house of God that is in Jerusalem.”

Can God forget His promises?  It must have seemed that way to the people of Judah.

In 587 BC, the Babylonians conquered Jerusalem: They killed the leaders of Judah, plundered the temple before burning it to the ground, destroyed most of the city and its walls, and took the cream of the crop (people-wise) to Babylon.  In one swoop, the Jewish people had lost their homes and the landmarks of their identity—they were displaced, exiled, and broken.  But where was God?  What was He doing?  Surely, this wasn’t how things were supposed to be!

It turns out that God was doing what He said He’d be doing all along.  The prophet Jeremiah had warned that a judgment was coming, but that in seventy years, God would bring his people back to Jerusalem and the temple would be restored (cf. Jer. 25:11; 29:10).  God was doing what He had promised all along!  

Our God keeps His promises.  We can easily forget this truth when we are going through our own personal exile or dark night, and the situation seems bleak.  The enemy will often seek to direct our attention to the circumstances rather than to God, whispering, “God has forgotten,” but it is in these times, especially, that we need to hold on to the promises of God.

God is faithful—that’s just who He is.  As Paul reminds us, “if we are faithless, he remains faithful – for he cannot deny himself!” (2 Tim 2:13).

Prayer: Father, help me to remember that You are the God who keeps Your promises.  You will not leave us in exile but will continue to draw us back to You.  Thank you that Your faithfulness isn’t dependent upon my remembering Your promises—You remember them well enough!  In Jesus name, I pray.  Amen.

Today’s Bible Reading: Nehemiah 2


Lunch Break Study

Read 1 Corinthians 10:6-13: Now these things took place as examples for us, that we might not desire evil as they did. Do not be idolaters as some of them were; as it is written, “The people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play.” We must not indulge in sexual immorality as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in a single day. We must not put Christ to the test, as some of them did and were destroyed by serpents, 10 nor grumble, as some of them did and were destroyed by the Destroyer. 11 Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come. 12 Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall. 13 No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.

Questions to Consider

  1. Who does “they” refer to in verse 6?  
  2. Why does Paul list these examples?  What are the four examples that Paul cites (verse 7-10)?  Do you recall how God responded to each of these?
  3. How does Paul encourage us?  If you are tempted in any of the specific examples of question 2, let us seek God’s way of escape!

Notes

  1. “They” refers to the people of Israel during the Exodus.
  2. Paul gives us these examples so that we would not “desire evil as they did.”  He lists four specific examples of evil: (1) idolatry (v.7); (2) sexual immorality; (3) putting Christ to the test; and (4) grumbling.  In each case, God disciplined His people, but He also provided a way of mercy so that they could continue to journey with Him.
  3. Paul encourages us by reminding us that there is no temptation that we face that others have not faced before us, and most especially, by reminding us that God is faithful!  While we can be tempted, God will provide a way of escape for us.  God may discipline us when we succumb to temptation, but He also provides a way of mercy and restoration.

Evening Reflection

Jesus is God’s ultimate promised answer to the problem of exile, brokenness and displacement.  On the cross, Jesus took all of our brokenness and restored our relationship with Jesus.  He is faithful, and this faithfulness does not cease just because we can still be tempted today!  Spend some time journaling about examples of God’s faithfulness in your life.

October 5, Tuesday

REPOST Today’s AMI QT Devotional, provided by Pastor Ryun Chang (AMI Teaching Pastor), was first posted on August 18, 2014.  

Devotional Thought for This Morning

“It is More Blessed to Give Than to Receive” (Acts 20:35)

Matthew 10:8

Freely you have received, freely give.

In 2003, when my sister-in-law gave us a 1995 Camry, we were thrilled since we were still driving our 1989 Accord while living in Mexico. But since our old car was still running well, we gave it to a Mexican pastor who lived in another city, an acquaintance of a fellow missionary who told us about his need.  Several years later, this pastor and others were at my house for a meeting.  As we spoke, he told me with a beaming smile how he made a handsome profit by selling my old car to someone desperate enough to buy a 20+ year old car! Perhaps, he either forgot or decided to ignore what Jesus taught:  “Freely you have received, freely give.”  While this man didn’t sin by opting to do this, he certainly wasn’t blessed by selling that which he received freely.  

Of course, we should not do good with the hope of getting more in return.  Rather, we do good, among other reasons, to bring glory to God, particularly in a world hostile to Him.   Apostle Peter, living in such a world, wrote, “Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us” (1 Pet. 2:12).  Nevertheless, we should neither ignore what Christ said about how giving affects the extent of God’s blessings: “Give, and it will be given to you.  A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap.  For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you” (Lk. 6:38).   

One day, while I was teaching in Mexico, the stand that held by my laptop fell over and totally destroyed my computer.   Later, a man from that church, who heard about the accident, gifted me with a brand new laptop.  God was being very generous with me!  And having realized how much God had blessed me through other people’s generosity, naturally, as we were leaving Mexico to move to the states, we gave away the Camry and the tent-trailer, which was so useful to me.   I sure hope those who received them for free didn’t sell them; for their own good.  Folks, let’s be generous!

Prayer: Heavenly Father, we once again recognize the magnitude of your generosity towards us in every sphere of our lives.  Thank you for giving us so much things that we don’t deserve.  Remind us and empower us always to be generous so that others may be blessed as we have been.  Amen. 

Bible Reading for Today: Nehemiah 1


Lunch Break Study

Read Luke 12:11-21: And when they bring you before the synagogues and the rulers and the authorities, do not be anxious about how you should defend yourself or what you should say, 12 for the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say.”Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.” 14 But he said to him, “Man, who made me a judge or arbitrator over you?” 15 And he said to them, “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” 16 And he told them a parable, saying, “The land of a rich man produced plentifully, 17 and he thought to himself, ‘What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?’ 18 And he said, ‘I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. 19 And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.”’ 20 But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ 21 So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.”

Questions to Consider

  1. Why did Jesus tell this parable in the first place?
  2. What caused the rich man in this passage to be greedy instead of being generous?
  3. How is your generosity?  What is keeping you from freely giving what you have freely received?

Notes

  1. Jesus was talking about something very serious (being persecuted for faith), but the only thing on the mind of this person in the crowd was getting his share of the family inheritance.  His sole interest was, somehow, using Christ’s power and authority to make sure he got his share of the pie.
  2. The reason for this man’s wealth, according to Jesus, was the fertile land that produced an abundant crop.  God was directly responsible for his prosperity, which meant that it wasn’t his to keep, at least, not entirely.  But this man planned to keep it all to himself.  
  3. Our default position is always wanting more, and on top of that, we are always insecure about our future.  A toxic mixture of those and other sin-related factors causes us to be ungrateful and be narcissistic misers. Knowing our weakness, we need to intentionally plan to be generous.  

Evening Reflection

As you look back, did you have an opportunity to be generous today with your money, time, or even talent?  How did you fare?  Instead of focusing on our failure, look to God who loves us unconditionally. 

October 4, Monday

REPOSTToday’s AMI QT Devotional, provided by Cami King, now a friend of AMI, was first posted on March 24, 2015.  We thank her for many years of faithful service in several AMI churches.  May the Lord richly bless Cami in her future endeavors. 

Devotional Thoughts for This Morning

“The Anxiety of Silence”

1 Samuel 28:3-7

Now Samuel had died, and all Israel had mourned for him and buried him in Ramah, his own city. And Saul had put the mediums and the necromancers out of the land. 4 The Philistines assembled and came and encamped at Shunem. And Saul gathered all Israel, and they encamped at Gilboa. 5 When Saul saw the army of the Philistines, he was afraid, and his heart trembled greatly. 6 And when Saul inquired of the LORD, the LORD did not answer him, either by dreams, or by Urim, or by prophets. 7 Then Saul said to his servants,“ Seek out for me a woman who is a medium, that I may go to her and inquire of her.” And his servants said to him, “Behold, there is a medium at En-dor.”

One pastor tells of a time, just after the planes crashed into the World Trade Center in NYC, when he was unable to contact his son who lived in the city. He describes the anxiety he felt for the few days after the incident when he so desperately needed to hear his son’s voice but couldn’t reach him. Thankfully, his son was OK.

There is a definite anxiety when we can’t get in touch with those we love and depend on. This anxiety is heightened in moments of desperation. Have you ever felt the anxiety of silence when you sought God’s help in a desperate situation? There are countless reasons we may find ourselves asking and not hearing, most of which we won’t discuss today. But from Saul we see the workings of one very dangerous reason. 

In today’s episode, the posture of the Lord toward Saul (silence) was in direct response to Saul’s posture toward God (rebellion). God spoke clearly to Saul throughout 1 Samuel and Saul repeatedly went his own way. What we learn of Saul is that he really only sought God for his own ends. And when God said something Saul didn’t want to hear, he ignored God (1 Samuel 15). Saul was not actually seeking the will of God. He was seeking God’s help in accomplishing his own will. And when God refused, Saul tried to get what he wanted through other means (v. 7). Truth be told, God had spoken on this issue through Samuel (who told Saul that his rebellion would lead to his demise). But it wasn’t what Saul wanted to hear, so he chose not to receive it. 

Discerning the voice and leading of God is not an easy thing. But we can learn from King Saul what not to do. May we seek God for the purpose of following His will (not using Him to accomplish our own) and may we walk faithfully in accordance with God’s Word when He does speak (and not choose to ignore Him because we don’t like what we hear). 

Prayer: Prayer: Eternal God, you alone can satisfy. Sometimes, during the moment of silence, I find myself thinking, “If only [fill in the blank with what is relevant for you], then I’d be satisfied.” But that is a lie. You have promised to meet all my needs and I trust that you’ll do it. In Jesus’ name.

Bible Reading for Today: Philippians 4


Lunch Break Study

Read John 6:60-69: When many of his disciples heard it, they said, “This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?” 61 But Jesus, knowing in himself that his disciples were grumbling about this, said to them, “Do you take offense at this? 62 Then what if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? 63 It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. 64 But there are some of you who do not believe.” (For Jesus knew from the beginning who those were who did not believe, and who it was who would betray him.) 65 And he said, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father.”

66 After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him. 67 So Jesus said to the Twelve, “Do you want to go away as well?” 68 Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, 69 and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.” 

Questions to Consider

  1. Why did many of Jesus’ followers turn back? (v. 66)
  2. Why did Simon Peter stay with Jesus even after the difficult teaching? (v. 68)
  3. What are some “hard sayings” you’ve received from the Lord (commands to follow, teachings from Scripture, etc.)? Have you accepted or rejected them, obeyed or disobeyed? How do these verses challenge and/or encourage you to follow Christ even when it’s tough? 


Notes

  1. Many of Jesus’ disciples turned back and no longer followed him because they felt His teachings were too hard to follow. His commands seemed too hard to obey. 
  2. Peter (who spoke for himself and some of the others) knew that even if the teachings and commands Jesus gave were difficult, they were true. He realized that the road Jesus offered them, as narrow as it was, was the only one that would lead to eternal life. 
  3. If we’ve rejected God’s words that are difficult, we should feel challenged to receive them because they are true and life-giving. If we’ve accepted difficult teachings of the Lord, we should feel encouraged because God’s way, even though sometimes tough, will lead us to eternal life. That’s a promise. 

Evening Reflection

Are you seeking direction from the Lord? Spend some time reflecting on your motives for doing so. Do you truly desire to do the will of God (whatever it may be) or are you just seeking God’s help and power in accomplishing your own will? When God does speak to you, are you willing to follow even if it’s not what you want to hear?  Reflect on your time in the Word, in prayer and in the community. Has God already spoken to you previously on the matter through one of these means, maybe in ways you didn’t wish to receive? Pray and ask God to help you to hear His voice and to respond with a receptive heart of obedience.  

October 3, Sunday

UPDATEDToday’s Spiritual Food for Thought was first posted on August 13, 2013.

Spiritual Food for Thought for the Weekend

“Thank God that His Thoughts Aren’t Like My Thoughts!”

Luke 4:38-44:

And he arose and left the synagogue and entered Simon’s house. Now Simon’s mother-in-law was ill with a high fever, and they appealed to him on her behalf. 39 And he stood over her and rebuked the fever, and it left her, and immediately she rose and began to serve them. 40 Now when the sun was setting, all those who had any who were sick with various diseases brought them to him, and he laid his hands on every one of them and healed them. 41 And demons also came out of many, crying, “You are the Son of God!” But he rebuked them and would not allow them to speak, because they knew that he was the Christ. 42 And when it was day, he departed and went into a desolate place. And the people sought him and came to him, and would have kept him from leaving them, 43 but he said to them, “I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns as well; for I was sent for this purpose.” 44 And he was preaching in the synagogues of Judea.

I want to share two thoughts today.

First, it is interesting to note that Jesus did not limit himself to one particular way of healing people.  While a rebuke from Jesus was all it took to remove the fever from Simon’s mother-in-law, at another time, he put spit on the blind man’s face to heal him (Mark 8:23).  Yuck! Therefore, we should not limit ourselves to any certain way; sometimes we just have to rebuke sickness in Jesus’ name.  The important thing is that we are willing to let go of our preconceived theological notions in order to obey and serve the Lord, particularly in the area of praying for healing (v. 39).

Second, Jesus’ daily schedule was pretty much packed, yet early in the morning, Jesus “went out to a solitary place” (v. 42), most likely to pray and have communion with the Father.  Jesus, being fully human as He was, did not excuse Himself from praying early in the morning.  And also, rather than settling in one place, Jesus was always on the move (v. 43).  Sometimes we become lazy because of our physical limitations, but our physical weakness or complacency should not keep us from seeking intimacy with the Lord and having a heart for those around us who are lost, and even beyond our own nation. 

Prayer: Heavenly Father, don’t let me forget that Your thoughts are not my thoughts, neither are Your ways my ways. And help me to grow in my intimacy with You through Your word and Spirit.  Amen. 

Bible Reading for Today: Philippians 3