Thursday, May 13, 2021

Thursday Devotion: PSALM 107 – A CALL TO GIVE THANKS TO THE LORD!

The Psalmist started this chapter by saying “give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His love endures forever.” Is it very easy to give thanks? It is certainly easy to give thanks when everything is well and things are good. But it is not easy for those going through difficult times such as failed business, unemployment, sickness, or broken relationships, to give thanks and rejoice! Furthermore, with the continuous increase in new covid-19 cases infecting millions of people worldwide and those who lost their family members to this virus, how are they able to give thanks in such situation? It is definitely not easy when faced with those situations. Nevertheless, in 1 Thessalonians 5:18, it is stated that we are to “give thanks in all circumstances, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” As believers, because of what God has done, we should always be thankful to the Lord, and giving thanks has little to do with the circumstances of life.

In this particular Psalm, we read of 4 different groups of people who encountered different challenging situations. They are:

• The wanderers, homeless and lost in the desert, hungry and thirsty with their lives fading away (v4-5).

• The criminals in chains suffering in dark gloomy prison cells because of their rebellion (v10-12).

• The sick who are suffering because of their foolishness and sins (v17-18).

• The merchants/traders out in the sea caught in the storm (v23-27).

In each situation, these groups of people cried out to the Lord in their distress. They prayed to Him in their suffering. He heard them and delivered them all from their suffering. We should always remember that in whatever circumstances we are in, God is always there to listen to us when we cry out to Him. He is never too busy. He is not one who has too many things to do. He always gives us His full attention. No matter what happens in life, God is there, forgiving us, saving us, delivering us, providing for our every need, directing us onto the right pathway, and showering us blessing upon blessing.

In addition, the Psalmist ended each situation all in the same way, which is, “Let them give thanks to the Lord for His unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for men….” (v8, 15, 21 & 31). When encountering any difficult situation, rather than responding in a negative way such as complaining, being grouchy, making others feeling sorry for us, etc, the Psalmist repeatedly tells us to Give thanks to the Lord. If we believe in Jesus, understanding the cost that He has paid for our sins, we have more than enough reason to give Him thanks. He deserves our gratitude.

Suggested Thanksgiving Prayer - Thank Him for His mercy & grace. Thank Him for life, for salvation, for His goodness and blessings. Thank Him for His great love and care. Thank Him for His presence, for fresh air to breathe, and many many more.

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Tuesday Devotion

Four actions for today! Read Philippians 4:1-9

STAND FIRM. Paul begins this fourth chapter with, "Therefore, my brethren, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm thus in the Lord." The "therefore" refers back to what he has written about in chapter 3. There he is talking about running a race, seeing life as an obstacle course. Paul writes how he runs this race by pressing on to the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. He is urging others to run with him. But in the opening verse of chapter four he now says, "STAND FIRM". It sounds confusing as to which he means for us, whether to run the race or to stand firm. One is a picture of extreme effort, the other of immobility, inaction. How can we then follow this call to standing firm and yet running?

Here is a marvelous setting forth of the paradox of the Christian faith. For life is indeed a swiftly moving obstacle race. But the secret of running the race successfully, the apostle tells us, is learning how to stand firm and hold on to this unchanging God. We have enemies to face. But if we are certain that we have already won the victory in Jesus, then we have nothing to fear, and our confidence proves to our enemies that they have already lost! Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist on the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm." Eph 6:13. Make no mistake!

REJOICE. Vs 4 Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say rejoice, this emphasis is the mark of spiritual maturity. We should celebrate God every day and be thankful for what He has done. If there is anything in your life that you can thank God for, just do it, do it loud and proud so that everyone can hear. And if we don’t have something, just knowing that God is Almighty, and no situation is beyond His control is a cause for celebration. We need to rejoice in the Lord by not looking at our situation but look at the Lord and all the good He has done. Psalm 35:9, “And my soul shall rejoice in the Lord; It shall exult in His salvation.”

Next, HAVE NO ANXIETY. Vs 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. Worry is a powerful force to disintegrate the human personality, leaving us frustrated, baffled, bewildered by life. Sometimes you hear the expression: "sick with worry", and anyone who has experienced it knows it is no empty expression. Paul's answer to this is blunt, "Have no anxiety about anything." You can't stop it just by the exercise of will power. The next secret of running the race is: "In everything by prayer and thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God."

In "everything", that means there is nothing too small to bring to him. Prayer is the expression of our dependence upon his promises. A continual recognition that you need to lean back upon His grace and strength. Thanksgiving is that forward look of faith that thanks God for the answer before you see it. Knowing his character, you know something will be done! Vs7 And, the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. This peace, sustains and strengthens the heart and keeps it peaceful even in the midst of the pressures, demands and annoyances of life.

Lastly, FILTER YOUR THINKING. Vs 8 "Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, THINK ABOUT THESE THINGS. This is a deliberate choice of the will to refuse to think about the negative, but to think about the ‘good and Godly’ in any situation, or about any person. Proverbs 4:23, "Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life" Paul understood the influence of thoughts upon our lives. What you allow to occupy your mind will sooner or later drive your speech and actions. Paul laments that those who "set their minds on earthly things" (3:19) are "enemies of the cross of Christ" (3:18). If there is any excellence, it is found in Jesus. So, abide in Him.

Suggested Prayer:

Dear heavenly Father, I confess that I have forgotten to stand still and know that you are God. Increase my confidence in You, O God, so that I can stand firm in adversity and display to the world the certainty of my faith in you. I pray that I may take up the full armour of God and resist all the works of the enemy in this evil day in which we live. Help me walk in spirit and truth, surrender my thoughts and rejoice being clothed in Christ's own righteousness- to Your praise and glory. This I ask in Jesus' name, AMEN.


Sunday, May 9, 2021

Sermon Series on Equipping the Saints, Armor of God : Breastplate of Righteousness.

[9.05.2021] Today's sermon is on Breastplate of Righteousness.

#sermonseries #equippingthesaints #armorofgod



Saturday, May 8, 2021

Saturday Devotion: Rejoice in the Lord (Philippians 3:1 - 12)

Paul begins this passage by commanding us to rejoice in the Lord. To rejoice means to feel or show great happiness about something. This command is even more incredible when you know where Paul was penning this letter from, a Roman prison. How can Paul feel or show great happiness in the Lord when he was in the midst of suffering? True joy comes from God alone. Psalm 16:11 tells us: “You make known to me the path of life; in Your presence there is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” It is because rejoicing in the Lord does not depend on where you are in your lives right now. You may be in the midst of difficulty but we still called to experience and show joy. Our joy as Christians comes from knowing who God is and what he has done for us. We can rejoice because we know God is in our midst even in difficulties. On a number of occasions, I have heard people say this to me, I am curious about Christianity because Christians exhibit joy and peace in your lives. Being joyful is one of the marks that we are living a truly victorious life. True joy comes from abiding in Christ and the fruit of the Spirit will be evident for all to see. 

In verses 4 to 8, Paul listed down his personal accomplishments as a Jew and no one can deny that Paul had an incredible curriculum vitae (“CV”). If the standard of righteousness was based works, Paul would be an A student. However, Paul then says in verses 7 to 8 that he counted all these personal achievements as loss for Christ, he counted them as loss compared to knowing Jesus Christ. Paul came to this realization that his supposed righteousness can never live up to the standard of a holy God. The legal relationship with God must be broken in other to make way for a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. We must stop trusting our own righteousness and live trusting in God’s righteousness given through by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. This is what differentiates Christianity from all other worldviews. You do not have to labour your way to be right with God and even if you do labour your way, you will fail miserably. Salvation is only attained by placing your faith in the finished work of the cross and not by our personal accomplishments. This is incredible and amazing grace of God. This is the reason why we all can rejoice without conditions and regardless of circumstances. Rejoicing in the Lord means knowing Jesus as our savior, redeemer and our treasure. The Christian joy is the great happiness that we feel because we have placed our faith in living God and a resurrected savior and that one day, we will all be resurrected to a new life. 

Reflection:

a) Do we rejoice in the Lord always? No matter the circumstances? If not, why not?

b) Where is our source of joy?

c) Are you ever tempted to put your confidence in someone or something other than Christ?

Prayer:

Heavenly Father, we thank you for your presence that brings us joy and peace. Even in the midst of our difficulties, we know we can rejoice in You. You are our rock and our refuge. You are our ever present help in times of trouble. Forgive us, O Lord, where we boast in ourselves and where we were self-righteous. Help us see those areas in our lives that tempts us to put confidence in our flesh rather than Christ. Amen

Thursday, May 6, 2021

Thursday Devotion - Give Thanks to The Lord

Our lives are made up of days and hours and moments. They all have these bookends, these beginnings and endings. Psalm 106 opens up in praise and closes in praise. This is called an inclusio; a Hebrew poetic pattern that repeats a phrase at both the beginning and end of a psalm and is meant to give a sense of completion. The beginning phrase not only sets the entire tone of the psalm, but with the repeating ending phrase, creating a sense of unity. Psalms 106 is essentially God’s commanded bookends for every moment, every breath.

Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord! (Ps 106:1;48). This right here is God’s given pattern for our lives, how we ‘bookend’ our moments and lead complete lives. When we give thanks to the Lord, our days are given a sense of unity and keeps us aligned with Christ. If our lives are not characterised as giving thanks to God, our lives are then characterising God as not good. We must give thanks to God, because God is good.

The psalm continues to remind us of when God’s children keep forgetting their Father’s faithfulness; they did not consider God’s wondrous works and the abundance of God’s steadfast love (v.7), they soon forgot God’s works (v.13), they forgot God, their Saviour, who had done great things, wondrous works and awesome deeds (v.21-22). Nevertheless, he looked upon their distress, when he heard their cry (v.44). God never stops remembering His people.

Remember what Christ has done for you, and give thanks. This is one of Christ’s commands that is often too neglected. If we forget and do not give thanks, our whole world falls into confusion. The very stability of our world depends on our rejoicing in, remembering, and recounting the goodness of God.


Tuesday, May 4, 2021

Tuesday Devotion Thankful and Prayerful Relationships (Philippians 1:1 - 18)

How is your relationship with fellow believers?

Paul begun his epistles to the church in Philippi with thankfulness and prayer. He remembered them with gladness and gratitude.  He remembered them personally, the experiences they had, the fellowship, the ministry together, the laughter, the blessing, the encouragement,  their faithfulness, and especially how they love Jesus. 

It is good to remember brothers and sisters we have, those with us in the past, those with us now. Take time to remember. Take time to give thanks to God for them in details, so that you heart be filled with gratitude and joy. 

Fellow believers are miracles from God to us. They bless our lives. We are where we are because of them. I remember the words of Sam to Frodo (Lord of the Ring- Return of the King), "I cannot carry the ring for you but I can carry you."

Next, as you remember, significant people will come to your mind.  Take time to pray for these brothers and sisters. Pray they finish the race well. Pray that together we carry the Gospel faithfully to others. 

"And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment, that you may approve the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ, being filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God."

Philippians 1:9-11

Prayer

Lord, as I take time to practice gratitude I am so glad for the many brothers and sisters you have brought into my life. Many I actually have forgotten because it was so long ago, yet as I wait I remember. So amazing! Their names and faces bring me joy. Each of them has made my life richer. And they are those who are with me presently, thank you that we have one another in this season. I am so grateful to you for them. 

I pray that as much as they are blessing to me, that I too be a blessing to them. And I pray we be faithful witnesses of your Gospel together and that all of us finish the race well to bring you glory.

In Jesus precious Name. Amen

Sunday, May 2, 2021

Sermon Series on Equipping The Saints: Belt of Truth

 [2.05.2021] Today's sermon is on The Belt of Truth.

#sermonseries #equippingthesaints #armorofgod