AF Daily Devotional From Sea to Sea 2/6/16

Average reading time is about 2 minutes.


An Amazing Fact: Born in the Chinese province of Yunnan in 1371, Ma Sanpao (Cheng Ho) was captured and sent to serve in the army under Chu Ti in 1382. There he helped Chu Ti become Emperor Yonglo of the Ming Dynasty. To reward his work, Ma was made Grand Imperial Eunuch—and his name was changed to Zheng He.

Yonglo chose Zheng to head a series of naval expeditions to ports all over the Indian Ocean. Zheng had diplomatic, scientific, and commercial goals while traveling farther than any other admiral in history. He visited more than 35 countries, utilizing more than 100 ships and nearly 28,000 men in his Grand Fleet. The largest vessels were 444-foot treasure ships!

The fleet visited southern Asia in the first voyage, and by the seventh and last voyage, Zheng had been to east Africa, the Persian Gulf, Egypt, and Ceylon (Sri Lanka). Almost 30 countries sent envoys back to China to give homage to the emperor, and each nation welcomed Zheng and traded for Chinese goods.

Zheng’s voyages not only established Chinese trade routes throughout Asia and Africa, but also established China as the dominant world power. China was far more technologically advanced than any other culture, and no European force could have successfully challenged its authority.

Emperor Yonglo died in 1424, ending all naval expeditions until 1431. Between two and five years after Yonglo’s death, Cheng Ho himself died during a trip home from India, ending the seventh and final voyage of the Grand Fleet. China eventually banned all naval expeditions indefinitely. Future emperors practiced strict isolationism and burned all records of Cheng Ho’s voyages. Chinese influence in the world ended, which opened the door for the rise of European superpowers.

The successful travels of Cheng Ho stand in contrast to a search that will take place on the day of the Lord. Someday people will seek God’s Word but will not find it. “They shall wander from sea to sea, And from north to east; They shall run to and fro, seeking the word of the Lord, But shall not find it” (Amos 8:12). Are you searching for God’s Word today?


And the child Samuel ministered unto the LORD before Eli. And the word of the LORD was precious in those days; there was no open vision. 1 Samuel 3:1

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AF Daily Devotional Feb 02, 2016: Surprise-Attack

Average reading time is about 2 minutes
AN AMAZING FACT:  On December 7, 1941, the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. The number of Americans who died was 2,388, the number wounded was 1,178, and the number of ships sunk or damaged was 21.  Each year Americans commemorate Pearl Harbor Day in memory of the thousands who were injured or killed when the Japanese made their surprise attack on the American naval base in Hawaii. It was a major turning point in World War II. Though the number who remember that day becomes fewer over the years, many can still hear President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s famous address, in which he says December 7, 1941, will be “a date which will live in infamy.” Is it still remembered? About 4,000 people visit Pearl Harbor each day, and 1.5 million visit the USS Arizona memorial each year.

The attack lasted only 110 minutes, from 7:55 AM until 9:45 AM. Plans for the assault had been in the works for almost one year. Its code name was “Operation Hawaii” and was later changed to “Operation Z.” The Japanese chose to attack on Sunday morning because they believed the Americans would be less alert and more relaxed. When the Japanese commander Mitsuo Fuchida called out “Tora! Tora! Tora! [Tiger! Tiger! Tiger!]” when flying over Pearl Harbor, it was a message to the entire Japanese Navy that they had caught the Americans totally by surprise.

The language of Joel when describing the “Day of the Lord” sounds familiar to those who watched the attack on Pearl Harbor. It is a grim comparison. “Blow the trumpet in Zion, And sound an alarm in My holy mountain! Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble; For the day of the Lord is coming, For it is at hand: A day of darkness and gloominess, A day of clouds and thick darkness. … A people come, great and strong. … A fire devours before them, And behind them a flame burns” (Joel 2:1–3).

What a great and dreadful day that will be! For those who give their lives to Christ, however, it will not come as a surprise attack.


But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. 2 Peter 3:10

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AF Daily Devotional – Clothed in Christ Clothed in Christ

Posted: 15 May 2015 05:00 PM PDT

Average reading time is about 1 and a half minutes

An Amazing Fact: Levis Straus made working pants out of denim for people during the California gold rush. The Levis company is now the world’s largest maker of jeans. The YKK on the zipper of your Levis stands for Yoshida Kogyo Kabushibibaisha, the world’s largest zipper manufacturer.

What is one of the most popular pieces of casual clothing worn in the world? Denim jeans. Blue jeans are especially connected to American culture. Originally created for the working class, jeans became a favorite of teenagers in the 1950s. They now come in many styles such as skinny, straight, tapered, boot cut, maternity, and flare. In 1850 the cost for a pair of jeans was about $1.50, which is approximately $95 in today’s money value. Americans spent about $15 billion for jeans in 2005.

You’ve heard the phrase, “You are what you wear.” Clothing styles are important to most people. They want to be viewed in a certain way. It is interesting to apply adjectives used for jeans to moral values: casual, loose, or flared. We certainly can be impacted by our clothing.

Perhaps that is why the apostle Paul encouraged us to “put on Christ.” The terminology in Romans 13 is the same used for putting on clothing. He writes, “But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts” (Romans 13:14). To “put on” Christ means to wear the mindset of Jesus and to walk in the ways of the Lord. It is much more than wearing a certain type of clothing. It means to behave so much like Jesus that we are mistaken for Christ by others.

The oldest pair of Levi’s jeans still around was made around the 1890s and is on display at Strauss & Co. Archives in San Francisco. But what Christ offers is a garment that will never wear out. One bale of cotton can make 215 jeans. Jesus has a supply that will never fail. Put on Christ today.

For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.
– Galatians 3:27

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AF Daily Devotional – Opening the Way

Opening the Way

Posted: 10 May 2015 05:00 PM PDT

Average reading time is about 2 minutes

An Amazing Fact: A 60-year-old man of genius, Pierre-Paul de Riquet began the grandest project of his life when most his age are thinking retirement. In the 17th century, the intrepid French engineer conceived the idea of constructing a canal across France from the Mediterranean to the Atlantic. Since the government refused to share the cost of the gigantic enterprise, he assumed the enormous project himself.

Riquet’s design called for a canal that traveled uphill to a point and then downhill the other way, like crossing a bridge, whereas most canals of the day simply descended. This design would serve to save time and help ships avoid pirates lurking along the straits of Gibraltar. It would also join the economies of the Mediterranean to the Atlantic. With shovels and primitive tools, 12,000 laborers worked 14 years from 1666 to 1681 to create the incredibly long trench. 

During its construction, Pierre-Paul Riquet oversaw the entire project. The 79-foot-wide passageway with its 8-foot depth, 228 bridges, and 114 locks, gradually lifted water 621 feet and then back down to the level of the Atlantic. This feat beckoned the amazement and the admiration of all Europe. King Louis XIV referred to it as the greatest achievement of his entire 72-year reign. 

This purely civil project was paid for by the money of one man—158 miles costing $68 million. It came from his fortune earned as the salt-tax collector. He sacrificed everything to ensure the canal’s completion—even using his wife’s fortune and his daughters’ dowries for the cause. Six months before its completion, Riquet, exhausted and sick, retired at home and died without ever seeing his life’s masterpiece achieved. 

The Bible describes the Lord’s power with these words: “By awesome deeds in righteousness You will answer us, O God of our salvation, You who are the confidence of all the ends of the earth, And of the far-off seas” (Psalm 65:5). Just as Riquet gave his life to open a waterway that brought strength to France through his famous canal, so Jesus performed an awesome deed when He gave His life to bridge the gap between heaven and earth.

Thomas saith unto him, Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way? 
– John 14:5

Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. 
– John 14:6

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AF Daily Devotional – The Hearing of Faith

The Hearing of Faith

Posted: 08 May 2015 05:00 PM PDT

Average reading time is about 1 and a half minutes

An Amazing Fact: The ear’s malleus, incus, and stapes—commonly known as the hammer, anvil, and stirrup—are the smallest bones in the human body. These three bones, known collectively as the ossicles, could fit on a penny.

Sound waves enter the ear through the ear canal. They then hit the eardrum, causing it to vibrate. The higher the pitch or frequency of the sound, the faster the eardrum vibrates. The vibration from the eardrum causes the malleus, or “hammer,” which is connected to the eardrum, to move side to side like a lever. This moves the sound vibrations along to the incus, which in turn passes it onto the stapes. From the stapes, the sound is sent to the cochlea in the inner ear, which turns it into electrical signals that are sent to the brain—where the sound is interpreted. 

It is quite remarkable to realize that the three smallest bones in the body are critical to one of its most important functions: hearing. Thus, these three microscopic bones, according to Romans 10:17, are critical to the life of Christ’s followers. There the apostle Paul announces that “faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” When the gospel is shared audibly, that good news takes the form of sound waves and vibrates those three small bones, enabling the listener to make a decision for or against Christ. 

Of course, Christ hopes that the movement of those small bones will not be in vain. The One who carefully crafted those bones has always desired that their vibrations would produce a faith-response from us.

This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? 
– Galatians 3:2

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AF Daily Devotional – An End to Affliction

Average reading time is about 1 and a half minutes

An Amazing Fact: Erik Weihenmeyer became the first blind man to climb to the highest peak in the world. He and his sighted friend, Eric Alexander, along with other members of their climbing team, reached the summit of Mount Everest on May 25, 2001. Mark Inglis, who lost both of his legs below the knee, conquered Everest in 2006. He is the first person to successfully scale the mountain with two false legs.

Since almost 20 percent of Americans are disabled in some way, chances are you have a friend or family member with a disability of some kind, or perhaps you are disabled yourself. Perhaps you have an illness or have had an accident that causes suffering. The Bible assures us that when an afflicted person cries out to God, He hears. And He cares.

When God healed the crippled man in Lystra, through Paul, the Bible says the man “leaped and walked.” Can’t you just see him jumping high into the air, again and again, landing on his new, healthy feet? Don’t you think he was laughing in delight?

This is what it will be like when Jesus returns. For those who belong to Him, all disabilities, deformities, diseases—afflictions of any kind—will vanish in that glorious instant. Freed from the effects of sin, we will be completely healthy, happy, and restored to the likeness of God. It’s what He has always wanted for us. As we praise Him, we will almost certainly leap for joy!


And there sat a certain man at Lystra, impotent in his feet, being a cripple from his mother’s womb, who never had walked: The same heard Paul speak: who stedfastly beholding him, and perceiving that he had faith to be healed, Said with a loud voice, Stand upright on thy feet. And he leaped and walked. – Acts 14:8-10

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AF Daily Devotional – Lifting the Burden

Average reading time is about 1 and a half minutes

An Amazing Fact: Roman emperor Justinian once ordered a compilation of all the laws governing ancient Rome. A lawyer named Tribonian directed the five-year-long project, which resulted in nearly 300 volumes of laws!

From its founding in 753 BC, Rome began accumulating laws. Any leader—local or national—could introduce new laws to govern his subjects. When Justinian came to power in AD 527, Roman law was a confusing mass of contradiction and redundancy. Justinian appointed Tribonian to thoroughly examine the laws, determining what to keep and what to discard. Seven years later, in 534, the Justinian Code was finally finished.

Today, most European nations owe the structure of their legal systems to Roman law. Even in the United States, many legal concepts that we take for granted originated in Rome.

Like their hated captors, the Jews amassed an enormous set of confusing and burdensome laws. Regarding the Sabbath alone, Pharisees created 39 categories of activities that might be considered work and were therefore taboo on Sabbath.

Enter Jesus and His no-nonsense spirituality. A lawyer once asked Jesus which law was most important. Jesus summarized the Ten Commandments into two simple ideas: “Love Me, and love your neighbor.”

We serve a God who keeps it simple! Christians still gravitate toward black and white lists of dos and don’ts; with lists, thinking and communing with God over life’s unique situations becomes unnecessary. But God promises that when we ask Him for guidance, He will direct us—to actions that demonstrate our love for Him and for our neighbor.


Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets. – Matthew 22:37-40

Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. – Proverbs 3:5

Do this now, my son, and deliver thyself, when thou art come into the hand of thy friend; go, humble thyself, and make sure thy friend. – Proverbs 6:3

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AF Daily Devotional – Who Is the Strongest?

Average reading time is about 1 and a half minutes

An Amazing Fact: If asked what the world’s strongest animal might be, you would probably imagine a large animal like an elephant or whale. Surprisingly, the title actually goes to the Onthophagus Taurus dung beetle. This little creature can pull 1,140 times its own body weight!

A recent study from Queen Mary University of London reveals that the dung beetle uses its great strength to battle other male beetles during mating season. Imagine pulling 100 tons of weight—an impossible feat for any human. Yet a dung beetle can do the equivalent.

The strength of God’s creatures might cause us to pause in wonder, but the power of our Creator is even greater. The psalmist praised, “Be exalted, O Lord, in Your own strength! We will sing and praise Your power.” David recognized with awe the strength of our God as something to be praised. In the world around him and the events of his life, he could see God’s might at work.

The same God who created an astonishingly strong insect has the strength to orchestrate the powers that control our world, yet at the same time He knows and cares about the small details of our lives. The trials on your heart are close to His heart too, and His strength is always ready to carry us through each day. Like David, many of us face difficult trials; it can be easy to let fear overwhelm us. But if we pause to step back and recognize that our lives are not in our hands, we can rest easy. Our lives are in the hands of an incredibly strong and caring Creator.

Be thou exalted, LORD, in thine own strength: so will we sing and praise thy power. – Psalms 21:13

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AF Daily Devotional – Your Holy Hill

Average reading time is about 1 and a half minutes

An Amazing Fact: At 29,035 feet, Mt. Everest is the highest mountain in the world. It was named after Sir George Everest, a British surveyor, in 1865. The mountain has actually had many different names, including Sagarmatha (Nepalese for ‘goddess of the sky’), Chomolungma (Tibetan for ‘mother goddess of the universe’), and the simple designation, ‘Peak 15.

If you decide to make the trip to Nepal to climb one of the highest mountains in the world, you’d better plan ahead. Reaching the tallest summits on our planet is not for the faint of heart. Many have died making little mistakes while trying to make it to the top. Oxygen levels are one-third of that of sea level amounts, so without supplemental air, you easily get foggy in your thinking. Energy levels plummet above the death zone—8,000 meters—where the amount of oxygen is not enough to sustain life.

Good mountain climbers respect the mountain. They know their limits. Perhaps the greatest tragedy on Mt. Everest took place in 1996, when several groups pushed beyond the turn-around time. It takes humility to admit defeat, turn around, and go back down.

David asks God in Psalm 15:1, “Lord, who may abide in Your tabernacle? Who may dwell in Your holy hill?” The Lord answers, “He who walks uprightly, and works righteousness, and speaks the truth in his heart” (v. 2). To walk uprightly is to walk in humility. Philippians 2:3 explains it like this: “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.”

The highest place we can climb is through bowing low in humility at the foot of Mt. Calvary where Jesus died for us. Christ lowered Himself to our earth that we might be lifted up with Him to heavenly places—mountains higher than even Mt. Everest.


For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones. – Isaiah 57:15

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AF Daily Devotional | The Hand That Rocks the Cradle



Posted: 29 Jan 2015 11:00 PM PST

Average reading time is about 2 minutes

An Amazing Fact: The total amount spent annually on Mother’s Day cards is $671 million. The total spent on flowers on Mother’s Day is $1.9 billion.

God made mothers with incredible love for their offspring. He pre-wired them with a natural desire to protect their children, even at the risk of their own lives. The Creator has programed this sacrificial nature not just into human mothers, but also within the maternal animal kingdom at large.

In the mountains of Northern California, we have a lot of black bears that are generally harmless. On the few occasions when black bears have attacked humans, it’s usually because someone came between a mother and her cubs. I even once heard of a car being ripped apart by a mother bear because her cub was trapped inside when a well-meaning camper tried to take it home. As the Bible says, “I will meet them like a bear deprived of her cubs; I will tear open their rib cage” (Hosea 13:8).

All through the Bible, we see examples of a mother’s love and sacrifice. And this natural love, combined with the influence of a godly mother, has changed history on many occasions. Mothers must recognize the profound power they have in molding human souls, not only for the difference they will make in this life, but also to prepare them for eternity. As it is often said, “The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world.”

Paul reminds us, “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. ‘Honor your father and mother,’ which is the first commandment with promise: ‘that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth’ ” (Ephesians 6:1–3).

Perhaps this is why our text for this evening calls a person who despises his mother a fool. Most mothers have given a tremendous amount of themselves to help their children be successful. Only a son who is blind to his mother’s love will scorn her.

Someone once said, “It takes a village to raise a child.” I categorically reject that. It might sound nice and reassuring to think the whole herd is watching out for everyone’s children. But I believe that we have so much crime and decadence in our world because this “village” is really just a deceitful euphemism for the streets. It doesn’t take a village to raise the child; it takes a mother and a father.

When a son or daughter pauses to recognize the sacrificial love of their parents, it brings gladness to the heart. Such respect fulfills the fifth commandment and honors our mothers and our fathers.

Additional reading: Proverbs 15:16–33

A wise son maketh a glad father: but a foolish man despiseth his mother.
– Proverbs 15:20


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