Tuesday, November 24, 2020

#TuesdayDevotion: 1 Peter 4:1-10

 #TuesdayDevotion: 1 Peter 4:1-10

Date: 24 November 2020

As Christians, we often find it difficult to avoid evil human desires and to live in a way pleasing to God. We often feel the tension between living an earthly life and a Godly life. How do we overcome this? As I meditate on this passage. There are a couple of things that I stood out for me: Jesus’s attitude going towards the cross was one of submission. Verse 1 tells us to “arm ourselves with the same attitude because whoever suffers in the body is done with sin”.  Verse 2 tells us we are to live a life of submission to the will of God and if we do, we will avoid evil human desires. But we struggle with submission, let just think about submitting to authority: your parents, your teachers and your bosses. Is it easy? The answer is no. However, as Christians, through renewing of our mind through the power of the Holy Spirit, we can submit to God’s will. The Christian idea of submission is not one of coercion but out of our love for Christ and our gratitude for his gift of salvation. Living a life of submission also means we must be focused and committed to do all things pleasing to God. In Jesus’ ministry, he was committed even to his death on the cross and he lived a life showing submission to the will of the Father. We submit and obey because Jesus submitted himself to our Heavenly Father for our sake. He laid down his life for us so that we can enjoy a relationship with Him.

Second thing that occurred to me was the seriousness of sin that Jesus Christ had to pay an awful price so set us free from the bondage of sin. Jesus "died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God" (1 Peter 3:18). Throughout the Bible, sin is mentioned so many times and the Bible has warned us that the punishment is death (Romans 6:23). Sin can simply mean anything that takes the place of God in our lives. Money, power, lust and pride to name a few are somethings that ‘knock’ God off his rightly throne in our lives. Those who live a life of sin must face the reality that one day, we will be called to account to God. But thankfully, those who are in Christ are empowered by the Holy Spirit to live a life victorious over sin. Our sinful nature has passed away though we will still have sinful habits in which we have to be aware of. We live in appreciation focusing on the gift of righteousness given by God. Hebrews 12:1-2, it tells us to fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfector of our faith. Those who fix their eyes on Jesus, will be occupied by His Word, His Ways and purposes.

Prayer:

Dear Lord, teach me to be submissive and obey Your will. Help me through the process of surrendering my all to you so that my life will be pleasing to you. Give me a heart that is open to receive and ears to hear from Your Word. Holy Spirit, strengthen me to defeat any areas of sin I may have. Amen

Sunday, November 22, 2020

#SundaySermon Emotionally Healthy Series: Present to God & Present to People

 #SundaySermon Emotionally Healthy Series: Present to God & Present to People

Date: 22.11.20


Shalom Church!
Come and join us for this week's Sermon on Emotionally Healthy Series! Have a Blessed Sunday and Stay Safe! God Bless!

Saturday, November 21, 2020

#SaturdayDevotion: Submission, Equality and Reciprocity (1 Peter 3:1-12)

 Date: 21st November


This passage can be difficult to read in these modern times. Verses 1 to 6 instruct wives to submit to their husbands. In today’s world of individuality and self-determination, this can initially feel like a backward step for women’s rights. Let us try to understand what Peter is telling us. The context for this passage is the early church. People were becoming new believers at times separately from their families. Some marriages would have a spouse who became a Christian whilst the other spouse had not. Peter was giving advice to women who had become Christians, without their husbands having already accepted the new faith. In the Jewish culture at the time women had no rights in comparison to men. Women were essentially owned by their fathers and then by their husbands. Wives who became Christians before their husbands were therefore in a difficult position. If a husband became a Christian, he would automatically take his wife and children into the church with him. A wife however, had no such power. This was a very real domestic problem. What should a woman in this position do?

Peter advised women to submit to their “own husband”. This does not mean that women should be subjugated to men throughout society. Peter was providing women in a specific marital situation with advice on how to keep the peace in the house and how to hopefully bring their husbands into the Christian faith. He encouraged women to behave in a manner that is good and pure, that there may be no criticism of their new faith. He warned against pride or distraction from God. He also encouraged women in this situation to do what is right and not to give way to fear. I imagine that many women may have become discouraged and fearful when facing the completely unprecedented challenge of having their own faith, which was different to their husbands. Peter was acknowledging that women could choose their own faith and have confidence in their hope in God. This may have been the first time that this was acknowledged in this culture.

Peter then gave another unprecedented instruction in verse 7. He introduced the concept of reciprocity in marriage between a husband and wife. Remember that in this culture, a wife had no rights at all and was owned by her husband who could treat her however he wished. She had no say in anything. Peter instructed husbands that in the same way (as he had instructed wives), they should be considerate as they live with their wives and treat them with respect. He reminded husbands that their wives are physically weaker. This was a society with no household equipment, very limited legal protection for women, arguably no health or childcare services. Peter gave husbands the responsibility to look after their wives with care and respect. He reminded husbands that women are co-heirs (equal heirs) of the gracious gift of life (the eternal kingdom of God). Women and men are equal spiritual heirs in God’s plan. Peter warned husbands to behave in a considerate and respectful manner so that nothing would hinder their prayers to God. This is how important the instruction is. If you do not treat your wife well, you will damage your relationship with God.

Now, the potentially tricky issue of submission in a marriage. God’s plan for Christian households is for there to be love, unity, consideration, peace and order. Have you experienced a family where there is strife or lack of respect? It is likely that there will be very little peace or security. God has established the structure of authority in a family with the father as the head. Being the head does not mean being a bully and having your way all the time. Quite the opposite. Have any of you ever been in leadership? 

You will probably have realized that good leadership requires sacrifice and a willingness to serve others. In 1 Ephesians 5: 21 – 33, a marriage is compared to the sacrificial relationship between Christ and the church. Verse 21 starts by instructing all parties in a Christian household to submit to each other out of reverence for Christ. Christ submitted himself to God’s will in order to die on the Cross to save us. In turn, we submit ourselves to Christ when we accept his sacrifice. Using this comparison, wives are instructed to submit to their own husbands and husbands are instructed to love their wives sacrificially, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy. Husbands are instructed to love their wives, to feed and care for them as their own bodies. The Bible therefore provided some groundbreaking marital advice! Husbands are instructed to look after their wives sacrificially, to treat them with consideration and respect and love them like they love themselves. Wives are therefore advised that they can have full confidence in their husbands’ decision making and submit to their husbands’ decisions, provided that they do not dishonour God. These are instructions for Christian households, where both parties in the marriage are in full obedience to God.

1 Peter 3: 8-12 wraps this lesson up by instructing all Christians to be united and to love one another. We are told to be like-minded, sympathetic, compassionate and humble. Unity is the key instruction in these scriptures. We should not repay evil with evil or insult with insult (in other words, do not fight), but instead to repay evil with blessing because this is what we are called for; to bless people. We are promised a blessed inheritance. We must turn from evil and do good, seek peace and pursue this (instead of division and strife). We are reassured that God will always keep watch over us and his ears are attentive to our prayers, but he will turn his face away from us if we do evil. In summary, these scriptures provide us with instructions on how to live well with our spouses, families and church fellowship. Some of this teaching can be very challenging, but we can trust in God’s wisdom and in His perfect plan.

Personal Reflection

Spend some time in prayer as you meditate on this scripture. Pray with someone if you can. Ask God to help you and the people in your fellowship to show a greater measure of love, respect and compassion towards each other. Pray for greater unity and understanding. Pray that God may use you and the people in your fellowship to bless others. If you are married, spend some time praying (together with your spouse if possible), for God’s protection, peace, grace and blessing over your marriage and household. Ask Him to show you areas in your marriage that may need further prayer, understanding, thought and effort.

Thursday, November 19, 2020

#ThursdayDevotion: 1 Peter 2:1 - 10

#ThursdayDevotion: 1 Peter 2:1-10
Date: 19.11.2020

The main thrust of this entire passage of verses 1-10, is an imperative - and it reads, “Long for the pure milk of the word.” Everything in this passage supports that. It is a command to desire Scripture, to desire the Word of God. This has always marked those who have a love for God, who are in Christ. The psalmist said that the godly man is blessed because “his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night.” He also sings that the words of God are more desirable than gold, yes, than much fine gold; sweeter also than the drippings of the honeycomb.

We all know that, everything about a baby is wonderfully soft, cuddly and inviting, except their crying when craving for milk. This is the singular focus that draws the illustration that Peter chooses.

Do we have anything even remotely like that kind of craving for the Word of God? Do we get to the place where we desire it more than anything else in life? This is something that should rise out of our hearts; the way that longing rises out of a baby, a compelling discontent when we have no time to read the word of God.

Peter then writes “put aside all malice, all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander.” In light of new love given, the ugly, old hindrances need to be thrown off; they need to be shed. Spiritual growth is marked by an increase in biblical understanding and a deeper delight in the word.
 
Believers are to come to Jesus “as living stones” (1 Pet. 2:5). 1 Peter 2:5 Peter explains that all believers are stones that God uses to build a spiritual house-is His Temple. Second, the cornerstone of this structure is Christ, the “living stone” (1 Pet. 2:4) Peter reminds us that Christ, the cornerstone, was rejected. We likewise may be rejected. However, Christ is the promised saving stone from Isaiah and the Psalms. Though we may be rejected like Christ, there will be no shame when the ultimate judgement is. For it stands in Scripture: “Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a cornerstone chosen and precious, and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.”

What an assurance we have in Christ! He is the cornerstone and foundation of our faith and ever lives to make intercession for us.

Suggested prayer:
Heavenly Father, thank You for Your Word, which has all we need for life and godliness. May we sincerely desire the Word so that we may grow in grace, mature in the faith and become increasingly conformed into the image and likeness of the Lord Jesus, In His name I pray, AMEN.

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

#TuesdayDevotion: 1 Peter 1:1-16 (Living in the Presence of our Heavenly Father, Son and Holy Spirit)

#TuesdayDevotion: 1 Peter 1:1-16 Living in the Presence of our Heavenly Father, Son and Holy Spirit

Date:17th November 2020

 Peter is writing to Christians in what is now the nation of Turkey. In verse 2 he states we are chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and sprinkling by his blood.

We should take note that we are in relationship with all the Persons of the Trinity. Chosen by the Father before we knew Him, having the Holy Spirit sanctifying us, and living in obedience to Jesus Christ and sprinkled by his blood. Think about this for a moment. Is this not amazing?!

Because of the Presence of God in our lives, in verse 2 Peter gives a blessing. He says to us: “Grace and peace be yours in abundance.”

What quantity of grace and peace do you have in your life? If not an abundance, then something is wrong! We have all three Persons of the Godhead involved in our lives. We have access to the full riches of the Presence of God! Take time now in prayer and Scriptural meditation of these verses to fix your eyes on Jesus.

We live “in his great mercy” (verse 3).

Verse 4 says, He has birthed us into a living hope through Jesus’ resurrection in heaven, into an inheritance that cannot be stolen or spoiled. 

Verse 5 states our faith is shielded by God’s power. Peter, in vs. 6, states we should: “greatly rejoice”.

We should often give thanks and remember all the privileges of having the love, mercy and grace of God poured out in our lives.

Peter changes tone in verses 6-7, to discuss the grief of suffering in all kinds of trials. Why do trials come? Peter states, in verse 7, we are refined, so our faith is proven genuine. This occurs so praise, glory and honour are given to God when Jesus returns.

We love Him and have His joy in our lives, because He gives us His salvation (verse 9).

If you have ever wondered why we as Christians also have the Old Testament books in our Bible, Peter provides a very succinct summary in verses 10 to 13. He states that the Old Testament prophets were looking forward to: “the grace that was to come to you.”

This “you,” means us! The prophets spoke by the revelation of the Holy Spirit, of the appearing and sufferings of Christ and: “the glories that would follow”

Peter finishes verse 12 stating: “Even angels long to look into these things.”

In verses 13-16 Peter states, as a consequence of these amazing revelations of the grace and Presence of God, these should be a positive impact on our attitudes and behaviour.

“Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled, set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed. As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: Be holy, because I am holy.”

We are called to obey the Holy Spirit and not the sinful nature. God wants us to be holy because He is holy. He wants us to live a life of love and goodness with the anointing of His Holy Spirit.

Suggested prayer: Dear Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We thank you for working in us to make us better people as we become more like You. May we love you more and more. As Your love overflows in our lives, may we live in obedience to Your commands and in love for others. In Jesus Name. Amen

Sunday, November 15, 2020

#SundaySermon Emotionally Healthy Series: Present to God, Present to People & The Emotion of Worry

 Date: 15.11.20

Shalom Church! Come and join us for this week's Sermon on Emotionally Healthy Series! Have a Blessed Sunday and Stay Safe! God Bless!


Saturday, November 14, 2020

#SaturdayDevotion Saturday False Hope (2 Kings 24)

Date: 14 Nov 2020

False Hope (2 Kings 24)

 

2 Kings 24 was a sad and shocking event in the history of Israel and Judah. Judah was conquered, Jerusalem was emptied and the temple of God was plundered. Read from the perspective of the Jews. Can God's holy city and God's house be taken and defiled by the pagan enemies? Surely not. Surely God Almighty protects us. Surely, we are safe as long as we have the temple with us. Surely God’s salvation is with us!

 

The impossible happened. The Babylonian destroyed and plundered Judah. The only people left in Judah was the poor, those who had no capacity to rebuild Jerusalem. The question rang loud, "Where is God? And why has He not protected Jerusalem and His temple?"

 

One answer, it was false hope. Judah's hope was on this, 'As long as we have the temple, God won't abandon us.' Thus, the mindset 'Sins are no big deal because as long we have the temple, we have the protection.' This is false hope. God shall not be hold ransom. At the end He executed His punishment by sending Judah into exile.

 

Reflection:  Do you and I build our lives on real hope or false hope? The real hope is on Christ. Christ has finished the work of salvation. This is our hope. Yet there is the cross we are to carry. This is not a part we do to achieve salvation but it is a center part of a real relationship with Christ. Carrying the cross means we love and obey Him. He is first in my life. Let's never have this idea, 'As long as I have said the sinner's prayer, I now don't need to take sin seriously. I can sin. No big deal.'

 

Prayer: Lord, teach me to watch for wrong hope and deceptive attitude which says "Because of your finished work on the cross I can take sins lightly." Instead teach me to love and fear you that I would never want to sin and break your heart. In the Name of Christ who is my hope and salvation.  Amen