Thursday, February 25, 2021

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

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!



Saturday, February 20, 2021

Saturday Devotion: Nehemiah – Rebuilding Life’s Ruin (Chapter 5 and I Corinthians15: 12-19)

Nehemiah Chapter four ended on a note of great victory. The people of God were doing the work of God, and they did it despite all obstacles. And, they would not let their enemies stop them. But in chapter five, the mission of rebuilding the Jerusalem wall was nearly wrecked by internal dissension and strife, famine, food crisis, taxation. The wealthier Jews had taken advantage of the terrible situation of those who were less fortunate and reduced many of them to slavery.

Nehemiah was under tremendous pressure. There is nothing like the test of your leadership from within your own organization.

It is said that, an internal enemy is potentially more dangerous than the external threats, because it threatens the unity of an organization. Here the rich Jewish leaders in Jerusalem were ill-using the poor. Nehemiah says, "Then I was very angry when I had heard their outcry and these words" (Vs 5:6). This is the anger of a righteous man. There are times when the only response to a situation is anger. How did Nehemiah handle his anger?

"I consulted with myself and contended with the nobles and the rulers…” (v 5:7). Although angry, Nehemiah consulted with himself first- he thought it over, he reasoned the situation through, before he questioned the nobles and rulers. It simply means, he practiced self-control with steadfastness. 2 Peter 1:5-7 “make every effort to supplement your faith… knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness”.

How do we behave and respond at home or at work under pressure? Sometimes it’s the little things that undermine our Christian witness.

Nehemiah called upon the leaders to stop the evil behavior (V 5:11). There is a symbolic act described in verse thirteen where Nehemiah is seen shaking out his garments as a prophetic warning that God would hold accountable anyone who had promised to do the right thing and disobey. Nehemiah was calling upon a prophetic judgment of God for disobedience. And they, nobles and rulers agreed with him and said “amen”. They believed that one day, they will stand accountable to God and therefore dealt with the mistake immediately.

If God has made you sensitive to any situations in which you need to voice your opinion or take action, would you take that bold stand? A prompt and thorough dealing with wrong in our lives is essential.

To finish, we read of Nehemiah’s personal testimony from Vs 14-19. One of the advantages of being governor was the food allowance granted him by the Persian officials for entertaining guests. Nehemiah did not take advantage of this benefit that was rightfully his. He provided these needs from his own personal funds.

He truly, was a man of integrity. He did not take advantage of the "perks" that come with the job. He stayed within his own means and used his personal wealth to feed the less fortunate. Nehemiah's life was a public demonstration of an honest administrator. There was no abuse or misuse of power, privilege or money. "The fear of God" (V15) was the motive of Nehemiah's service. He was dealing with the people as God would have him to do - just as God would.

How is God challenging us to be that blessing of His grace to others in our lives today? Give forgiveness to someone when it’s not even asked for? Give a dinner or a lunch to hurting friend? Give time to someone who needs to talk?

At the end of the day, like Nehemiah can we honestly go before God and say, “Remember me for this day, for good, for all I have done for Your people?” (Vs 19)

The love of the Lord Jesus Christ is the only motive that inspires a person to stay right before God and keep his life pure and clean. Where do we find the power to overcome? It is in the resurrected power of our Lord Jesus Christ that Paul talks about in I Corinthians 15:12-19.

Suggested prayer:

Dear Lord Jesus, let me be honest before you, about the little things that are not right in Your sight. I pray that I will be a faithful servant in the place where You planted me. Please teach me to identify with those hurting around me and whose “outcry” I need to hear. I look to You to give me the strength to walk in integrity and work hard for an audience of One.

Amen.

Thursday, February 18, 2021

Thursday Devotion: Broken walls (Nehemiah 1-3, 1 Cor. 14:34 - 40)

Broken walls are not uncommon. In Nehemiah, it was the broken wall of Jerusalem. Without the wall, the enemies entered with ease and no resistance. The Israelites lived in fear. 

In Corinthians, it was the wall of unity and worship. This was in bad shape. Thus, Paul's words sounded harsh and often misunderstood. It was every person for themselves, abusing the spiritual gifts, using them as a trophy for self-glorification. And in today's reading, we often interpret it as Paul disallowing women to speak in church. This is not so. This was for the church in Corinthians only, not something to be applied to all churches. The women had added to the confusion and disorder in worship. In simple terms, the wall of unity and worship was broken and required repair. Here the believers lived in pride and comparison, fighting for attention. Paul reached out as God's apostle to mend the wall.

The epistle to the Corinthians must be remembered as first and foremost a pastoral letter.

Pastorally, this is the question- what wall in your life or your family or your church or others is broken and needs repair? What is broken?

Let's begin by looking at my own life. My trust in God, my relationship with another person, or a deep personal pain? Bring it to God in prayer, seek His word out to bring healing to this brokenness, or speak to a godly leader.

Secondly, what is broken in the life of people we love? In Nehemiah, each household built a wall in front of their house. We can do something to repair the wall. It is often near and accessible and doable to us. A prayer, a word of love and encouragement, forgiveness, or choosing acceptance. What you can do may seem small, do it anyway. Each act is likened to a brick. When we keep doing it, we mend a broken wall.

Don't leave the wall broken, otherwise, we don't just become believers that are broken but we surrender Christ's precious victory in my life to the enemy. Let God repairs the broken wall.

Prayer

Dear Lord Jesus, you are the God who builds a wall of protection and unity over my life. Forgive me that I have neglected the wall or even contributed to breaking it. Come and help me rebuild this wall again, in my life, in my relationship, in the church, and in people I love. Amen

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Tuesday Devotion: How to Be a Wise and Godly Leader (Nehemiah 2)

The book of Nehemiah is an encouraging book to read because it describes a season of restoration and revival for God’s people. Nehemiah is a great example of wise and godly leadership. When this book starts, we know that the Israelites had been scattered outside Jerusalem and were living in exile after it had been attacked by Nebuchadnezzar’s army. The city and its walls had been demolished. Nehemiah was living in Susa (current day Iran) some one hundred and fourty years later, serving King Artaxerxes as his cupbearer.

1. Prayer and repentance.

In Chapter 1 we read about how upset Nehemiah was when he heard the news about how the city remained in ruins with the walls broken down, and how the Jews who had returned to the province were in great trouble and disgrace because they had no safe place to live. The interesting thing about this is how Nehemiah responded to the news. He mourned and fasted and he prayed. He confessed his sins and the sins of the people. He remembered the many warnings that God had given His people. In this way, Nehemiah showed God that he accepted the responsibility for his sins and for the sins of his people. This is a great example of intercessory prayer. Nehemiah was willing to be accountable to God on behalf of his people and he repented.

2. Planning.

Then, he reminded God of His promise to Moses. God had warned that He would scatter the people if they were unfaithful to Him but if they returned and obeyed His commands, He would gather the exiled people and bring them back to the place He had chosen for them. He asked God for favour in the presence of “this man”, referring to King Artaxerxes his powerful employer. Nehemiah had started his planning.

3. Recognize a godly opportunity, confirm it with prayer and act accordingly.

Chapter 2 starts about four months later. Nehemiah had been praying and planning during this time. One day, the king noticed that he looked sad and asked him why. Nehemiah was afraid, because his job was to serve the king cheerfully and he could be killed if he displeased the king. However, he had courage to tell the king about his sadness regarding the ruined state of his homeland. Then miraculously, the king asked him what he wanted! This must surely have been an answer to his prayer in Nehemiah 1:11! Nehemiah immediately prayed again and asked God what to say. Nehemiah had such a close relationship with God due to his prayer life, that he recognized and understood God’s intervention. After praying, he asked the king to send him to Jerusalem so that he could rebuild it. The king agreed and his main concern was how long it would be before Nehemiah returned. The king must have highly valued Nehemiah and his work. Nehemiah appears to have set a time for the king and then he asked him for the things he would need, such as letters to provide him a safe passage through various lands, and timber for building. Nehemiah did not hesitate at all. He knew exactly what he needed to ask for and how much time he needed. He had been planning this carefully while praying for God’s intervention and interceding for his people. Nehemiah was extremely well prepared. Then the king granted his requests and Nehemiah gave God the glory for this. He recognized that he had got what he wanted because of God’s gracious hand (v8).

4. Expect resistance and opposition

After this, Nehemiah met with resistance and opposition from two characters named Sanballat and Tobiah. This is a useful reminder that even when we are acting on God’s will and have God’s gracious hand upon us, we are likely to come across opposition. This is because the devil does not want God’s will to be done. Do not allow this to stop you, but remember to stay close to God in prayer.

5. Keep your own counsel until you have done your research properly

Nehemiah went to Jerusalem and stayed there for three nights before he did set out to look at the city. It is most likely that he was praying during this time. He then set out at night with a few people only. He had not told anyone of his plans yet. This was because he decided to do his research quietly, without any drama or fanfare. When God puts it in our hearts to do something, the best reaction is to check, pray and prepare. When He gives us work to do, there is no need to make a big fuss and draw attention to yourself. Instead, get on with the work quietly and diligently. It is likely that Nehemiah did not say anything to the Jewish leaders or priests at this time in order to avoid having to deal with their unbelief, opposition or negativity. He needed time to examine the ruins, to think about what best to do and to pray.

6. Encourage people to work alongside you

After a period of research and preparation, Nehemiah finally spoke to the Jews. He showed them the extent of the problem and the trouble that they all were in, including himself. He appealed to their identity; they were God’s people and should not be a people in disgrace. He finally told them about God’s gracious hand upon him. The people understood that this was God’s anointing on Nehemiah and on their situation, so they agreed to start the work of rebuilding the city.

7. Expect more discouragement and opposition.

This made Sanballat and Tobiah angry, and they mocked and ridiculed Nehemiah and the Jewish people. If you are doing God’s work you will meet discouragement and opposition. People may well mock you. It comes with the territory. Do not worry about it but bring your attention to point 8 below.

8. Focus on your purpose and identity in God.

Nehemiah did not bother arguing with them. He simply confirmed his identity and purpose. He replied, “We His servants will start rebuilding” (v20). Do not waste time arguing with mockers. Proverbs 9: 8 tells us, “do not correct a mocker (who foolishly ridicules and takes no responsibility for his error) or he will hate you; correct a wise man (who learns from his error) and he will love you. Get on with the job that God has given you and work with people who are willing to learn and obey God. The opposition has no share in the reward that God has prepared for us. If you are wise, your wisdom with reward you; if you are a mocker, you alone will suffer Proverbs 9:12). In short, do not worry about what mockers say. Know who you are in God whose work you are doing, for He has already won the victory for us.

Personal Reflection

Are there things that God has placed in your heart to do? Spend time praying in order to prepare yourself for God’s work. Pray over the situation and pray that God will help you remove the things that hinder you. Ask God to show you His plan. Ask God for His guidance about what you need to do to prepare yourself. The task might seem too big, but we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us (Philippians 4:13).


Sunday, February 14, 2021

Sermon Series: Equip The Saints - Prophecies and Speaking in Tongues

Good afternoon, church! Today we are blessed with the message on the studies of 1 Corinthians 12 - 14. Have a blessed CNY and stay safe.

God bless!