Thursday, April 22, 2021

Thursday Devotion: Fruit of Suffering

This was according to the eternal purpose that he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through our faith in him. So I ask you not to lose heart over what I am suffering for you, which is your glory.

Ephesians 3:11‭-‬13 ESV

Study:

The Christian faith and life is both an invitation to a life of abundance and suffering in Jesus Christ.

When you read Ephesians 1, you will discover that Paul expressed the abundance of spiritual blessings in the heavenly realms that were available and given to him, the apostles and those who believed in Jesus Christ. However, as you go along in the reading you will notice that he wrote of being a prisoner of Jesus Christ for the sake of the Gentiles (3:1).

Paul understood that the abundance of blessings were God's grace to be lavished on others. It is God's eternal plan - predestined will, that the Church (Jews and Gentile) display His wisdom (i.e. salvation and life is found in Jesus Christ). This truth gave him great confidence and boldness to continue proclaiming the gospel despite the risk of being imprisoned. Suffering, therefore, was a burden he was willing to bear because it is the grace of God for both the Jews and Gentiles to be united with one another in the inheritance of Christ in Him. So, he encouraged the readers to "not lose heart over what I am suffering for you, which is your glory" (v.13).

Reflect:

Most of us have yet to understand the joy that Paul experienced for the sake of the Gospel. In fact, because he chose to be obedient to Christ in life and death, even to share in Christ's sufferings, we who are Gentiles have become recipients of the Gospel. His suffering has resulted in the spreading of the Gospel that brings life to the Gentile world. You and I are indeed the fruit of suffering.

You may know of people who are contending for the Gospel and are at risk of being imprisoned for Christ. Some are denied proper rights as citizens for the Gospel. Yet, they continue to persist in faith because of the confidence they have in Jesus Christ. Perhaps, you are going through a type of suffering because of your professed faith as a fellow disciple of Christ. Do not lose heart. You are in great company with Paul and the other apostles who have gone before you. For we know that Christ will be glorified through of sufferings.

Application:

As we consider the countless of godly men and women who have joyfully gave their lives for the Gospel for the sake of our salvation and eternal inheritance as God's people, may we also consider how we can continue the Christian tradition of evangelism - to include, invest and invite others into the family of God in Jesus Christ.

Pray:

1. Let us pray for those who are suffering or experience hardships for the sake of the Gospel.

2. Let us pray for one another to be bold and confident in our faith as we proclaim the Gospel to others.

3. Let us pray for God to lead us to people who we can share His love and salvation with.

The Lord be with you. Amen.


Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Tuesday Devotion: Citizen or Foreigner (Ephesians 2:11-22)

Tuesday Devotion: Citizen or Foreigner (Ephesians 2:11-22)

"Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints.." (v.19) 

Ephesians tells us we are citizens of God's Kingdom and that we are not strangers and foreigners. These are opposing identity. Believers in Ephesus struggled with their identity. They claimed to be citizens yet tried to earned citizenship by living the law, e.g., circumcision. A confusing bunch of citizens. Or are they strangers and foreigners?

What about you?  For now,  let just do 2 checklists:

1. He is your Savior? You know Jesus and thay He has died for you and given you salvation? 

2. He is your King? This means trust and obey His word. Trust and obey even when I don't feel like it or don't understand fully. Trust and obey even when the Scripture is not convenient to me and my situation.  Trust and obey even when you think it is unfair or very uncomfortable. 

What are those moments you don't want to trust and obey? That distinguish between citizens and foreigners in God's Kingdom. Jesus made the line very clear, "Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness..." (Matt. 6:33).

The first is about Jesus' finished work to give us complete forgiveness and salvation.  The second is about we belonging to the King, Christ's Lordship.

Prayer 

Dear King Jesus, thank you that you made me citizen of your Kingdom. Help me live as faithful citizen to you, trusting and obeying. Amen

You live as one? 

Believers in Christ are citizens of God's Kingdom because Christ has made it a reality through his death and resurrection.  

Question. Are you citizen of the Kingdom of heaven?

Citizens of every nation live with a certain culture,  values,  beliefs,  practices, laws, rights, protection and so forth. 

God's Kingdom is not different. We have the Word of God to tell us who our King is and how good He is to us. Amazingly  how we are to live and shine His Kingdom.

Do you know them? More importantly,  do you live by them?

Saturday, April 17, 2021

Saturday Devotion: What do you see? (Ephesians 1:15-23)

Jesus taught that "The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light ..." (Matthew 6:22). What our eyes see determine how healthy we are. Example, if we see treasure on earth, we will be earthly bounded. If we see treasures in heaven, we will be heavenly minded. These two are a world apart. The former lives for now and will do all things to grab, including hurting others. The latter lives for eternity and becomes a steward of what God entrusts him and thus bless many.

Paul understood this truth and in Ephesians 1:18-19 told us that with healthy eyes we know:

1. The hope of His calling- to salvation, Christlikeness, to serving the King of kings.

2. What are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints.  Imagine this, a son of a billionaire inherits the billions.  That is awesome. Now imagine what the God of all creation, of eternity possesses (where a billion dollar is like one cent to Him) and what inheritance He has for you and I, who are made saints through Christ's perfect and complete work on the cross. Wow!!!

3. What is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe. Do you see God's power at creation, opening the Red Sea ... and above all, raised Jesus from death? This power is shared with us who believe, i.e., the church. What sin, fear, bondage, habit, or anything can keep us captive? Only if we see with enlightened eyes.

 

Reflection

Care to check the optometrist?

How healthy you are depending on how healthy are your eyes?

 

Prayer:

Lord Jesus, heal my eyes. Let me see what you see and live the way you live. Amen


Thursday, April 15, 2021

Thursday Devotion: Bless the Lord? (Psalm 103)

“Bless the Lord, O my soul.” The phrase comes up repeatedly, over and over again in Psalms 103 (depending on your translation). And this is something we often hear, sing and maybe even say. But what does it really mean to bless the Lord? And isn’t it supposed to be us being blessed by Him, and not He by us?

The word blessing, most of the time when we use it, we usually mean it for a gain of some kind. However to “bless” isn’t restricted to just that one meaning. It's also words of promise, truth, and encouragement.

When we say “bless the Lord” it means that we are praising God, we are pouring out praise upon him, we are declaring that He has power, we are glorifying Him for what he has done and we are worshipping Him.

God wants us to worship Him, and praise Him, not because He needs it, but because He wants us to know who he is and to recognize who He is. Because the more we understand Him, the more we will grow to love Him, and to find Joy in Him.

Have you ever seen videos of baby ducks who've never experienced swimming? Ponds? They will first be hesitant to go in, scared of what that large body of water is. But the moment they step into the water, they will freak out initially, overcome with so much joy in how fun the water is.

And that’s what God wants for us too. He wants us to draw near to Him, so that we may experience Him and find so much Joy in praising Him because God is the greatest good in life.

Take some time to think about the good you have in life, the good that God has done for you, and thank Him for those things. Praise Him for his goodness.

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Tuesday Devotion: Be a Co-Worker! (2 Corinthians 6:1-10)

2 Corinthians 6:1 - ‘Working together with him, then, we appeal to you not to receive the grace of God in vain’. 

What would it look like to receive the grace of God in vain? How would it appear to be a recipient of God’s grace, but to have none of its authority or power in your life? What good is the favor of God if it makes absolutely no difference in the life of the inheritor? Paul is here quoting from Isaiah 49:7 that the day is coming when the captivity is over, when the dispersion will be gone… and he will help his humble servant to rebuild the city of Jerusalem. In today’s context, Paul is saying that the day of the new has arrived in the gospel of Jesus Christ. Today God has offered salvation through Christ and this is the favorable time, the day of salvation. Receiving God’s grace is receiving God’s salvation. And because we have received this grace we become God’s co-workers. It is His work that He asks us to do together with Him. If we do not work with and for God, we receive God’s grace in vain. It’s time we remind people that now is the day of salvation. Paul’s great plea was that now is now, and that now is the only opportunity for us to remind people that if they have received the Salvation then its time they don’t keep it to ourselves.

Be a blameless servant of God! 

And when we are co-workers, as servants of God “we (should) commend ourselves in every way” says Paul. We need to be careful not to allow anything in our lives to turn someone off from becoming a Christian. There is no better rule of life than to ask ourselves the question every day, what influence are my actions now having on the Church of God? Paul had this passion to be blameless as a servant of the gospel. Paul was willing to do most anything to make sure he gave no offense in anything. He was willing to forego his salary as a minister of the gospel (1 Corinthians 9:3-15). He was willing to work hard and endure hardship. Paul was not afraid to offend anyone over the gospel of Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 1:18-25), but he would not allow his style of ministry to offend anyone. But, Paul’s ministry was blamed and discredited by the Corinthian Christians. He has taken great risks to tell the Corinthians of God’s grace and love. Yet, Paul never doubts that the gospel is worth it all. His focus was Jesus and his plea is that everyone receives this salvation he has experienced. 

Be joyful in suffering! 

For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake, Philippians 1:29-30 Look at verses 8 to 10. Paul lists seven paradoxes, seven seemingly contradictory truths; the sufferer is seen as an imposter, unknown, dying, punished, sorrowful, and poor; having nothing. YET, well known, not killed, always rejoicing, making many rich and possessing everything. But God takes the worst and transforms it to the best. Here’s what God does in the life of a sufferer. He knows you and sees the inside of you. Romans 5:3–5 Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. Expect to suffer for Jesus, but expect greater joy and life to come through that suffering. ...as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing everything. (2 Corinthians 6:10) What a magnificent life! 

Suggested prayer: 

Thank you, Heavenly Father, Thank you for Paul, as he lived through the pressures and the calamities of his own time. Grant us grace to live right under similar pressures that we may seek to glorify God and count it as joy; manifesting a character of purity, of knowledge, of patience, and of kindness. We thank you, Lord, and ask that you will make us that by the power of the Holy Spirit. In Jesus name, Amen.

Sunday, April 11, 2021

#SermonSeries: Maturity

#SermonSeries: Maturity


Good afternoon,

Come and join us online on the Equipping the Saint sermon series. Have a blessed Sunday.

Stay safe.


God bless. 



Saturday, April 10, 2021

Saturday Devotion: Job 13

Though He slay me, yet I will trust in Him.”

The book of Job tells the story of a righteous man who loved and obeyed God. He was blessed with wealth and a large family. God asks Satan what he thinks of Job and tells Satan that Job is a blameless and upright man who fears God and shuns evil (Job 1:8). However, Satan replies that the reason Job fears God is because God has protected and blessed him, and suggests that should God remove these things from him, Job would surely curse God to His face (Job 1:9-11). Then God does something that is unusual. He tells Satan, “very well then, everything he has is in your power, but on the man himself do not lay a finger.’ God therefore allows Satan to destroy whatever Job has. Job loses his family, his wealth and everything that is dear to him. In the proceeding chapters, we see how Job’s wife is so upset that she becomes angry with God. His ‘friends’ Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar go to visit him, supposedly to sympathise with him but it turns out that they are not much help. They tell Job that this has perhaps happened to him because he has done some evil and ‘deserves’ the punishment. There is a conversation back and forth, and it is clear that his friends are not actually well intentioned. They imply that Job is inferior to them, and less righteous than they are because he has been afflicted and they have not. These ‘friends’ are prime examples of whom you do not want as friends in fellowship. They did not provide comfort and their views about why God had allowed suffering in Job’s life, were judgmental and inaccurate. 

By chapter 13, Job has listened to them at length and has also given his replies to their accusations. In this chapter, he tells these friends that he is not inferior to them. He tells them that they smear him with lies and are worthless physicians (v4). He has understood that they have spoken deceitfully and they think they are better than him. He warns them that God will surely call them into account. Job desires to speak to the Almighty to argue his case with God (v3) directly (and not with these three men). In verse 15, Job shows that he has understood the correct response and attitude to his situation:

‘Though he slay me, yet I will hope in Him.’

Job has understood that he is fully in God’s hands. He is confidence that God will deliver (save) him, because he knows he is righteous before God. He trusts that he will be vindicated (v18) from all the baseless threats these men have brought against him. He does not fall into the trap of denouncing God.  

What does it mean to have faith in God’s deliverance? We have all experienced pain, loss and suffering. It can be difficult to see God’s plan when we are feeling emotionally or physically exhausted due to our suffering. Job had suffered unimaginable loss. He went through a long and painful period of wondering what was going on, and why God had inflicted this suffering upon him. However, he did not lose his faith in God because he understood that everything he had was from God. It can be very hard to make sense of suffering. We may feel angry with God and wonder why he has allowed such pain into our lives.

Nevertheless, Job sets us the biblical example of trusting in God and continuing to uphold our integrity.

Suggested Prayer

Father God, I understand that you are the Almighty God, and that you hold everything in your hands. Help me hold onto my hope in You, even as I go through trials and suffering. Help me to trust that you will deliver me and help me not to sin in my pain. Thank you, God that You love me and will never leave me nor forsake me. In Jesus’ name, Amen.