Thursday, March 4, 2021

Thursday Devotion: How long are you going to keep that grudge? (2 Corinthians 2:5 - 11)

In this second letter to the Corinthians, Paul has made it clear that he will no longer visit them as he had earlier intended to. The reason was that he did not want to further cause a rift in the relationship he had with them by his rebuke in his first letter (2:1-4). However, he still had important pastoral issues to address with the church.

In 2 Corinthians 2:5-11, Paul urged the church leaders to extend grace and forgiveness to a fellow Christian brother. This brother was severely punished and perhaps excommunicated from his community for causing grieve to the church. We aren’t certain of the details but it must have been extremely bad for the church leadership to punish him this way. Now, Paul chose to be an advocate on the brother’s behalf and appealed to the leadership that they would seek reconciliation by forgiving the man. By doing so, they would have obeyed Jesus Christ and restored the man to Christ and the Church.

Forgiveness is an overarching theme that is found in the entire Biblical narrative. In the Gospel narratives, Jesus made it clear in the Sermon on the Mount that whenever we offend others or are offended by them, especially those in the family of the Lord, we must choose to forgive and seek forgiveness (Matthew 5:23-26). He made forgiving and seeking for reconciliation such a crucial part of our act of worship – forgiveness comes before worship.

Learning from the passage, we recognize that at time we can be quite insistent with our punishment of sins and wrongdoings among our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. In our own self-righteousness, we hold “holy grudges” (there is nothing holy about grudges) to punish them. We give them the cold shoulder and even prevent them from receiving fellowship with other believers. At times, we can prolong a discipline for too long in the “name of Christ”, but instead of reconciliation we cause division.

Friends, how long do you intend to keep that grudge? How long do you desire to withhold forgiveness and forfeit your own experience of God’s grace? I would like to implore you to forgive those who have harmed and hurt you. Forgive as you have been forgiven. And if possible, be reconciled to one another and to Jesus Christ. Let us not give Satan a foothold in our lives.

May the grace and peace of the Lord be with you always. Amen.

Tuesday, March 2, 2021

Tuesday Devotion: The Dedication of the Wall (Nehemiah 12)

In Nehemiah 12, the wall of Jerusalem had been built and the Israelites had started to move back to the city. Verses 1 – 26 list the out the priests and Levites who had returned. This reads like a roll call of the faithful and godly leaders of the people. It demonstrates the importance of godly leadership within families. It also highlights the importance of worship, praise and thanksgiving, which were listed before the protection of provisions. The people were trying to repent from the state of brokenness they had been in whilst living in exile. This chapter shows that they intended to establish a functional godly society in the new Jerusalem. The list of people reminds us of these faithful people and in a way, reassures us that all the faithful are counted and remembered by God.

Verses 27 – 47 describe how they completed the dedication of the Wall of Jerusalem to the Lord. The wall was the first thing that they rebuilt, as it was essential for the protection of the city. There was no point rebuilding the city until the wall was done. The wall was so important that they dedicated it to the Lord. This is how they did it:

• Worship and thanksgiving - they asked the worship leaders to come from the surrounding areas, to celebrate with joyful songs of thanksgiving and music.

• Purification -they purified the priests, the people, the gates and the wall.

• Walking – the leaders and singers walked along the length of the wall

• Including everybody – the women and children also rejoiced

• Loud rejoicing – the sound of their rejoicing could be heard far away.

• Giving – the people gave as commanded by the law to the priests and worship leaders.

• Providing for all who served – they were careful to set aside a portion for the musicians and gatekeepers and the other Levites, to make sure everyone was taken care of.

Personal Reflection

What do you need to do to dedicate your own “wall” to the Lord? Your wall is the defense of your heart and therefore your faith from the enemy. Do you have a heart of repentance and acknowledgement that you need God’s grace in your life to cleanse you from your sin? Are you walking and showing up in church and in the places where you should be? Do you practice worship, thanksgiving and rejoicing to God? Are you giving to the church? Are you blessing your leaders and those who minister to you? Take some time to ask God to show you areas in your life that you should build up and dedicate to Him so that your heart and faith are well protected.

Sunday, February 28, 2021

Gospel Reliability by Mike Licona

 Shalom Church! This week we were blessed by a preaching on Gospel Reliability by Mike Licona via zoom. Have a blessed Sunday & a good week ahead!





Saturday, February 27, 2021

Saturday Devotion: 1 Corinthians 16:13 - 14

Paul was writing to the Corinthian church to encourage them as he knew there were issues in the church such as divisions within the church, sexual temptations, and questions about worship.

Be on your guard.

Paul commands us to stay alert and watch. This brings to my mind military movies that watched where the soldiers are asked to keep around the clock watch of their military base as the enemy can attack at any time. The Bible has told us repeatedly to be on the watch and put on our spiritual armor because we are told that Satan is constantly prowling. He has come to kill, steal and destroy. For those of us who have gone hiking, we need to always be on the lookout for branches of trees overhead and especially on the guard for the roots of branches on the path because it can trip us. I know many friends who have sprained their ankle tripping over those roots because they lost attention for a split second. The moment we think the path is safe and lose our focus, we may trip and fall. The moment we think we are not prone to temptation, that is the moment pride takes over and temptation sees the opening. Jesus told the disciples, our spirit is willing but our flesh is weak. We cannot let our spiritual walk with God sleep. We need to be spiritually awake at all times. In this life, we will never be in a place where we don’t have the danger of sinning.

Stand firm in the faith

Standing firm is an active phrase and not a one-off event. To stand firm in faith means to stand about God’s truth in His Word at all times, 7 days a week. No matter what the world says or what temptation that comes our way, we can confidently and obediently say no. We stand firm on God’s word for that is our firm foundation. We cannot be like infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful teaching. In the past couple of years, we have heard world-renowned preachers fall into temptation and sin. The better we get at something, the more proud we become. As our pride increases, God decreases in our life. We should not start strong and finish badly. I remember when I was a new Christian and I keep hearing this phrase ‘on fire for God’. I asked Pastor Margaret Seaward who around 90 years old at the time when she preached. You can just sense the fire she had for God and see it too.  I asked her how to keep that fire burning because I do not want it to ever extinguish in my life. She said the key is the keep the flame steady. Keep the flame steady means our faith will persevere, persist, hold our ground until the end.

Points for reflections:

Are we staying in God’s word?

Stay alert to the tactics of the deceiver, Satan.

Reflect on how do we want to be remembered in this life.

Prayer:

Heavenly Father, we want to be faithful to you for all of our lives. Teach us, O Lord, to run this race well. May the Holy Spirit guide us in all our ways and strengthen us not to fall into sin. Give us the strength to preserve in our faith so that we can stand firm in the face of any adversities. Amen.

 

Thursday, February 25, 2021

Thursday Devotion: The Power of the Empty Tomb (1 Corinthians 15:50 - 58)

Source: https://todaydevotional.com/devotions/the-power-of-the-empty-tomb

Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting? — 1 Corinthians 15:55

Life on this earth is not without dark times. We can identify periods in history when evil and darkness seemed to be in control. We can look back on our own lives and recall times of grief, hurt, loneliness, or despair. Or maybe those times are happening right now, and life seems empty of meaning or purpose. Maybe all of life seems like a dark, empty space.

Jesus knows what that’s like—and even more. On the cross he suffered the agony of complete separation from God so that we wouldn’t have to—and his body was placed in a tomb till he rose to life again on the third day. Jesus’ work of salvation for us would not have been complete if he did not suffer the full punishment of “unspeakable anguish, pain, and terror of soul” on the cross to pay the price for all our sins. And on the third day he rose in victory over death so that we might share in the power of his resurrection and enjoy new life with God. (See also Luke 23:42-46.)

Our journey into new life in Christ may take us through times of darkness. Yet, as hard as those times may be, we can be assured that death, loneliness, and despair do not have the final victory; Jesus conquered them. As you walk through valleys of shadow in your life, lean on Jesus, the Savior—who knows you and is walking with you into new life.

Amen.

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Tuesday Devotion: 1 Corinthians 15:29 - 34

Does the resurrection power of Jesus transform your life today?

  29 Now if there is no resurrection, what will those do who are baptised for the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, why are people baptised for them? 30 And as for us, why do we endanger ourselves every hour? 31 I face death every day—yes, just as surely as I boast about you in Christ Jesus our. 32 Lord If I fought wild beasts in Ephesus with no more than human hopes, what have I gained? If the dead are not raised, “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.” 33 Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.” 

34 Come back to your senses as you ought, and stop sinning; for there are some who are ignorant of God—I say this to your shame.

 Paul begins chapter 15 by telling the Corinthians they needed a reminder of the Gospel. Some of them were seriously straying away from the gospel. In this passage Paul focuses on the importance of the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. We know Jesus died on Good Friday and that His death accomplishes the resurrection into heaven of everyone who puts their hope in Him. God in His mercy also gave signs of this whilst Jesus died on the Cross, when the graves of many holy people in Jerusalem broke open and they were raised from death, and appeared to many people (Matthew 27:52-53).

 Paul tells the Ephesians:

 “When he ascended on high, he took many captives and gave gifts to his people.”

 The captives are those who put their faith in Jesus from Old Testament times. They had died but because the blood of Jesus had not yet been shed, and He had not yet died and been resurrected, they had not yet ascended into heaven. They were in some kind of holding place, not suffering but waiting for their salvation to be realised. Another result of Jesus’ resurrection is that He has given us gifts in addition to our salvation!

How should this affect out lives today? Paul indicates that our response should be to focus on Jesus. “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming.” (Colossians 3:1-6). Not only are we saved by Jesus’ resurrection, our Saviour instructs us to be transformed, to live by the Spirit and not by the sinful nature (Galatians 5:25). When we see Jesus, we learn His priorities which are different from human priorities. Some of the human priorities are detailed in Colossians 3:1-6.

The additional impact of being focused on Jesus is that we also live in His resurrection power. This means that our marriages and families experience Jesus’ resurrection power, our churches are renewed in resurrection power and our attitudes in our jobs are transformed by His resurrection. When we have died to sin, our lives are filled with the Holy Spirit. Our whole lives are infused with His life and dynamism. In 1 Corinthians 15: 30-32, the resurrection of Jesus inspires Paul to preach the Gospel in Ephesus and to contend with “wild animals” which is his term used to describe the ferocity he experienced of some people strongly opposed to the Gospel. As Paul lived in the resurrection power of Jesus, he became able to find the courage to risk his life for the gospel so that others could be led to Christ. Living in the resurrection power of Jesus is not an optional extra for the Christian. It is a must. It is not merely a belief in the apostles’ creed and a few scriptures. The resurrection power of Jesus is for transforming our lives in 2021.

What areas of your life are touched by Christ’s resurrection? Which areas are not? I suggest you take some time today in a quiet place to pray and ask the Holy Spirit to show you where His resurrection power needs to be prioritised in your life.


Sunday, February 21, 2021

Sermon Series: Equip The Saint II

 Have a blessed Sunday and stay safe.

God bless!