Tuesday, June 2, 2020

2 June 2020 - Finding My Real Purpose

Finding my real purpose

Read Ecclesiastes 1:1-11

The book begins by introducing the speaker/writer of Ecclesiastes, The words of the Preacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem (Verse 1). We are told that the speaker is ‘king in Jerusalem’ furthermore, that this king is ‘the son of David’; Solomon.

“Vanity[a] of vanities,” says the Preacher;

“Vanity of vanities, all is vanity.” (Verse 2)

That’s quite an attention-grabbing line. Solomon used that word "vanity” 38 times in Ecclesiastes. The word means "meaninglessness, emptiness, futility, that which vanishes quickly and leaves nothing behind."  King Solomon began his reign with wisdom, power and glory, but ended it with folly. Late in life, he looked back on his folly with regret, pointing us to a better, simpler life lived in light of God’s direction (Ecclesiastes 12:13–14). What is life after all; a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes (James4:13). A great man of God said, “There is no greater discovery than seeing God as the author of your destiny”

What do people gain from all their labours at which they toil under the sun? (Verse 3)

What’s the point of loading all your sense of self-worth, achievement, identity and meaning on what you accomplish in the world of work? Often, church, quiet-time with God and family are sacrificed on this altar called “work”. Yet one is always discontented. Do you recall that sense of frustration at work has quite early roots in the Bible? After Adam and Eve sin, God tells Adam that he will find his daily toil frustrating. Because Adam chose to exclude God from his life. What are our personal ambitions that come before kingdom purposes?

However, when we make God the focus of our lives, our attitude to work changes. What profit has a man from all his labor in which he toils –if he leaves out God and eternity out of the picture? It is essential for the Christian to learn how the Lord would have you work, and fulfill your responsibilities there. Be careful not to restrict your Christian testimony to just church and home. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?" Mark 8:36

Generations come and generations go…  The sun rises and the sun sets…  The eye never has enough of seeing, nor the ear its fill of hearingthere is nothing new under the sun …nor will there be any of things that are to come (Verse 4-11)

Solomon says all things change, and never rest; the sun, the wind, or the current of the river. Life is monotonous and the search for satisfaction is constantly frustrating if there is no purpose in it. And, we can never find purpose in this circle of life without experiencing God. 1 Timothy 6:6 reads, ‘godliness with contentment is great gain’, the presence of Jesus Christ in our life adds great meaning and gain to “everything under the sun”. Live with eternity on your mind!

“You were made by God and for God and until you understand that, life will never make sense.”

― Rick Warren

 
Suggested prayer:
Lord, help me remember that I ultimately can find satisfying purpose when I seek after you. Lord, as I work to understand my purpose more fully, I pray that your joy would be present. I pray for grace and wisdom. Help me long to serve you above myself, even above others. Help me walk daily in dependence of you. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

Monday, June 1, 2020

01 June 2020 - Philemon

Good morning. Today’s devotion is taken from the book of Philemon.

The book of Philemon is only 25 verses long but contains important spiritual teachings for us to pray through. Paul was writing to his Christian brother, Philemon. The background of this letter is that a slave named Onesimus ran away from Philemon. Onesimus encountered Paul in prison and accepted Jesus through Paul’s ministry. Paul is writing to Philemon to urge him to treat Onesimus as a brother in Christ. (v.15 – v.16).

Standing in the gap
In Onenimus, we can see ourselves in our relationship with God. He was disobedient to Philemon and deserved punishment. Onenimus had a debt he cannot pay to Philemon.  All of us have a debt to God that we cannot pay but Jesus paid the penalty for us on the cross. Just as Jesus is interceding for us on our behalf, Paul is interceding for Onenimus.  Paul stood in the gap for his Christian brother which is his God-given responsibility to remind Philemon to live a Christlike life that pleased and honoured God. Its incredible to think that Paul, a prisoner, accepted full financial liability for anything that Onenimus might owe to Philemon. By standing in the gap, Paul also brought peace to an unstable situation and to restore a broken relationship. God desires us to live at peace with others as much as is in our power to do so (Romans 12:18), and to be peacemakers. Jesus stood in the gap, praying from the cross, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke23:34). Onenimus didn’t deserve the grace and love that Paul showed him but we didn’t deserve God’s grace and love either. Who can we stand in the gap for tomorrow?

Loving others
Philemon was known for his love for God’s people. It was because of him and his generosity that the Colossian church was established and flourished. Philemon’s love was a blessing not only to those who received it, but also to those who heard about it. Paul wrote – ‘I always thank God when I pray for you, Philemon, because I keep hearing of your trust in the Lord Jesus and your love for all of God’s people. (Philemon 1:4-5)

But now Philemon’s Christian love about to be put to the test. Not only was he to love his friends, he is now requested to love someone who wronged him and deserved punishment.  Paul was asking Philemon to live out Jesus’ commands to love our enemies (Luke 6:32-36). We are told to love God with all our hearts, souls and minds, but then we are also told to love our neighbors as ourselves. We are told in Luke 6 to be merciful just as our Heavenly Father is merciful. Jesus endured suffering and hostility but still forgave them at his crucifixion.  Sometimes loving our neighbors is not easy and choosing to love our enemies is almost impossible. We need to ask the Holy Spirit to put our feelings aside and allow Him to do a transforming work in us.  We must embrace and live out the radical love that Jesus showed us by dying on the cross when we were sinners. When we show mercy and love, we glorify God. 

Prayer:
“LORD, thank you for standing in the gap for us and we thank You for the debt paid on Calvary for us. Teach us to love others as much as you love us. Teach us to forgive others as you have forgiven us. Grant us a compassionate and merciful heart. Amen. 

Sunday, May 31, 2020

SAC Health Guidelines for reopening of services

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31 May 2020 - Sunday Service

Good Afternoon Church! Thank you for joining us for the Sunday Service. Have a blessed weekend!






Saturday, May 30, 2020

30 May 2020 - Titus 3

30th May 2020

Titus 3:3 reminds us that before we were saved, we were all once foolish, disobedient, deceived, enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures, lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another.  God saved us because of his mercy and not because of good things we had done.  When we realize this, we should respond with changes in our behaviour.  God’s love and mercy in saving us will motivate us to excel in good works.

Doing good works are good and profitable for everyone.  These good works may be avenues to lead people to experience God’s grace.

Reflection:     

Our good works do not and cannot save us.  It is by God’s grace and mercy that we are saved.  We are saved to do good works (See also Ephesians 2:10)

Prayer:

Lord, thank you for Your grace, mercy and loving kindness which we do not deserve.  Help us each day to grow to be more like Jesus to be effective witness of the gospel.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Friday, May 29, 2020

29 May 2020 - Respond through the heart of God

Respond through the heart of God

The end of First Samuel describes the death of King Saul. The beginning of Second Samuel describes David hearing of Saul’s death. Now, Let’s read about David hearing of Saul’s death in 2 Samuel 1:1-16

After the death of Saul, when David had returned from striking down the Amalekites, David remained two days in Ziklag. And on the third day, a man came from Saul’s camp, with his clothes torn and dirt on his head. And when he came to David, he fell to the ground and paid homage and declared the death of Saul. Vs 1-2 Then David queried, “How do you know that Saul and his son Jonathan are dead?”

He narrated, “I happened to be on Mount Gilboa, and there was Saul, leaning on his spear…When he turned around and saw me, he called out to me, and said to me, ‘Stand here by me and kill me! I’m in the throes of death, but I’m still alive.’ Vs 5-10.

On hearing that David and all the men with him mourned and wept Vs 11 Then David inquired, "How was it you were not afraid to put forth your hand to destroy the LORD'S anointed?" Then David called one of his young men and said, "Go near, and execute him!" David said to him, "Your blood is on your own head, for your own mouth has testified against you, saying, 'I have killed the LORD'S anointed.' "Vs 13-16.

Evidently, the last chapter of 1 Samuel tells us that Saul did NOT die by the sword of someone else. Saul died by his own sword.

David for sure sensed in his heart that the whole account which this young Amalekite gives is a fabrication; he runs to David with a heart full of greed and deception. He should have known better than to devise a story like this. You might recall that David would not kill Saul, even when he had many chances to do so. In fact, David told one of his men when they had the drop on Saul, “Do not destroy him, for who can put out his hand against the LORD's anointed and be guiltless?” (1 Samuel 26:9). But look how God uses David to bring his judgment against this young man. He has confessed to killing God's anointed king, and he dies because of that very confession.

Remember, how out of pure jealousy, hatred, spite, and ungodliness, Saul destroyed David’s best years of life – and Saul was utterly unrepentant to the end. Yet David mourned and wept and fasted when he learned of Saul’s death.

And so how would we receive news of Saul’s death? Wouldn’t we honor the man who finished off the man who vexed us, over and over again?

David received this message with his heart, if he was described as “a man after God’s own heart”, couldn’t we say he had a godly heart? A God-centered heart. Isn’t this what God saw when He told Samuel that “man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7) What we see here is that David had responded, not with an eye to his own agenda, but God’s agenda; not with a taste to his own desires, but God’s righteousness, God’s priorities, God’s love for His people. He responded with the heart of God!

Every day, we receive, a post or an e-mail criticizing the church, a pastor, a leader or maybe an update from a rival, gossip from a neighbor; when this message is brought to us, what does our response reveal about OUR heart? We are often filled with anger, jealously, bitterness, lust, and pride because our focus is on our own good, and our own glory? And when that happens, our response is anything but righteous.

David sings “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me” (Psalm 51:10) Let this be our prayer today.

Dear God

I thank You that You desire to speak to me every day— to obey Your Word and enjoy an abundant life. Show me the conceit in my heart and help me to guard my heart from the influences of this world and the people around me. Help me not to be deceived by the devil and his lies, but to respond to them listening to the heart of God. In Jesus name I pray. Amen.

Thursday, May 28, 2020

28 May 2020 - Psalm 57 : A Hard Time In The Right Place

Psalm 57

“A Hard Time in the Right Place”

David wrote this Psalm whilst taking shelter in a cave after escaping from Saul’s attempts to kill him (1 Samuel 22:1-2 and 1 Samuel 24:3). David was chosen by God and anointed by Samuel to be the next king of Israel. He was employed by Saul to play the lyre for him. At the start, Saul liked David very much and David became a high-ranking officer in Saul’s army. However, David’s ability and success made him popular amongst the people and Saul became increasingly jealous. Proverbs 27:4 states, “Anger is cruel and fury overwhelming, but who can stand before jealousy?” Jealousy is an immensely powerful negative emotion that can drive a person to cause all sorts of destruction. Saul developed a murderous obsession with David because he was insecure about his own position as king.

During these difficult times, David took shelter in a cave to avoid Saul and his army. David had done nothing to deserve this persecution. In fact, it was quite the opposite. He had been powerfully anointed by God and had acted according to this anointing. Saul could see the Lord’s favour upon David, but he could not accept it. Sometimes, great anointing and suffering come together. God was preparing David for his role as king. If you want great anointing in your life, it is likely you may also have to experience suffering as well. Acts 5:41 states that the apostles rejoiced because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for His Name. James 1:2-4 tells us that we should count it pure joy whenever we face trials (in our faith) because testing of our faith produces perseverance and maturity. David was experiencing this kind of suffering. He may have been having a hard time, but he was in exactly the right place.

 

So what does David do in the cave while Saul and his armed soldiers are somewhere outside looking to murder him? The amazing thing that strikes me is that he doesn’t weep and wail at God or ask him “Why me?” No, he does not do this. There is no self-pity and he definitely does not let fear or anxiety overpower him. Instead, David gets down to business in Psalm 57. He starts by asking God for mercy and decides that he will take refuge in the Lord until the danger has passed (v1). He cries out to God Most High and knows that God is in command over the whole situation and can save him (2-3). He understands that God loves him (v3). At the same time, David is no optimistic fool. He knows that his enemies are powerful and slanderous; he calls them ravenous beasts whose tongues are sharp swords (v4). However, he chooses to praise God in the situation (v5). He makes a statement of faith that his enemies will fall into their own trap (6). David chooses to have a steadfast heart (v7). He seeks God and praises God earnestly with his soul (v8). He pledges that he will praise God among the people (v9). He declares that God’s love is great and far-reaching (v10). He finishes by exalting God and asks that God’s glory will be over all the earth (v11).

Wow. Can you imagine yourself practicing such faithfulness and giving God heartfelt praise while going through a period of suffering? David has set the example by showing us what we should focus on. God is merciful, loving, all-powerful and totally in control. When we are experiencing a period of suffering, we can choose to praise Him and remember His enduring wisdom and love for us. We do not have to be anxious or fearful because we have a great God. He may be preparing us for a greater anointing and we need to trust Him.

Suggested prayer

Almighty God, thank you that we have the blessed assurance of a loving and merciful God. We acknowledge that you are totally in control of all our circumstances. We pray for your encouragement and protection when we are going through difficult times. Help us to trust in you and maintain an attitude of praise within our hearts whatever the circumstances we are going through. Amen.