Saturday, December 5, 2020

#SaturdayDevotion: Knowing the Truth (that Jesus is the Son of God and our Saviour (1 John 2:15-29).

#SaturdayDevotion: 5th December

In this book, John is writing to people in the church. He assumes that the readers would already know the gospel and would have also accepted the message of Jesus as our Saviour. He writes affectionately, calling us his “dear children” and his intention is made clear in verses 1-2; so that we will not sin. We have an advocate with the Father who is Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins and for the whole world. This is the key reference point for the chapter. 

Verses 15 – 17 warns us against worldliness and loving the material world and the worldly systems that ignore God. Loving the world means giving time, attention, loyalty and dedication to this worldly system. The sins and desires of the world; lust, greed and pride are not from God, but from our worldliness and attention to material things and society. We are strongly warned that if we love (pay a lot of attention to and dedicate ourselves to) these things, we will not have love for our Father God. It is not possible to have two opposing loves. To love one would mean we are unfaithful to the other.

Verses 18 – 19 warn us about false teachings and false prophets, but verse 20 reassures us that we have an anointing from the Holy Spirit to know the truth. We are warned against denying the truth and those people who would do this by denying that Jesus is the Christ. There is a strong warning that no one who denies the Son has the Father (v23). Therefore, to have God the Father in our hearts and lives, we must believe and acknowledge that he sent His Son Jesus to save us. We are encouraged to remember this at all times. If we do this, we are assured of what God has promised us, which is eternal life with Him in heaven.

Verse 26 warns us against others “who are trying to lead you astray”. This indicates that there will be people who will actively try to remove us from the truth and from our walk with God. We are reminded of the truth of our anointing in the Holy Spirit (v 27) and we are encouraged to remain in God so that we will be confident and unashamed when we meet Him. We are reminded that God is righteous and if we do what is right and follow His teaching, we have been “born in Him” and saved (v29). Godly behaviour is indicative of a close relationship with God. Our words and actions should show evidence of our close relationship with God.

Suggested Prayer

Father God, thank you for sending me your Son, Jesus Christ our saviour, to die on the cross for me. Thank you for showing me such great love and mercy. Help me to always remember this truth, that you sent your Son to die for my sins, so that I can be fully reconciled with you. Help me to withstand discouragement or distractions that may lead me away from you. Most of all, help me to love you steadfastly with all my heart, with all my soul and with all my mind (Matt 22:37).


Thursday, December 3, 2020

#ThursdayDevotion: Greater Place (Psalm 84: 1 - 2, 4, 12)

 Greater Place

PSALM 84: 1-2, 4, 12

“How lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord Almighty!  My soul yearns, even faints for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God.”  (vs. 1-2)
“Blessed are those who dwell in your house; they are ever praising you.”  (vs. 4)
“O Lord Almighty, blessed is the man who trust in you.”  (vs. 12)

As we are getting closer to Christmas this season of Christmas is quite unique. Many of us we are going through Isolation – quarantine – being separated perhaps from those we love – long to be with – to be in the presence of our family and friends.   We have all experienced these feelings/emotions during these last 7-8 months.   As I was reading through the book of Psalms for today’s devotion preparation then the Lord spoke to me through Psalm 84. If we look at verses 1-2, 4 and 12 we can find the following…..

AN ATTITUDE OF “BEING HOME WITH GOD” – TO LIVE IN A CONSTANT ENVIRONMENT OF HIS PRESENCE

As I read though this Scripture – “How lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord Almighty!  My soul yearns, even faints for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God”, my own soul longed to be in His presence.  The Psalmist here is thinking about being home with God.   Our deepest longing is to be home in the presence of our God. One commentary state “to be at home with God is to live in a constant environment of His presence”.   This was quite refreshing for my soul. The Lord brought me to a place of personal worship. The quietness of my room became my meeting place with God. A constant environment of God’s presence.

AN APPETITE FOR GOD – DEEP HUNGERING FOR GOD – “MY HEART AND FLESH CRY OUT FOR THE LIVING GOD.”

The Psalmist here was expressing an appetite we should have not only when we are worshipping corporately but personally as well.  He had an appetite for God – His hunger is clearly seen in the words; longs, faints, yearns, crying out to Him, “my heart and flesh cry out for the living God”. 

We need to have renewed yearning to be in the presence of God – growing desire – every day to spend time in the presence of God.

AN ACT OF DEEP TRUST – A REAL, DEEP GENUINE JOY IN TRUSTING GOD.   LEANING ON HIS GRACE, MERCY, FAITHFULNESS, GOODNESS IN EVERY SITUATION.

Vs. 12 –“O Lord Almighty, blessed is the man who trusts in you.”   the sum of it all essentially it comes down to a matter of trust.  “A real, deep, genuine joy of trusting in God; of believing there is a God, confiding in His character; leaning on Him in every situation in life; relying on His mercy, grace and faithfulness. Here in this verse, God’s goodness and greatness lead the psalmist to experience and declare the blessedness of trusting in God.

As we meditate on Psalm 84, may you be renewed, refreshed in your yearning and desired for the Lord.   My prayer is that – “Lord, give me a heart that longs to be in your presence – to gaze into your loveliness and worship You!”    May it be so for you all today. Amen.

 

 

Tuesday, December 1, 2020

#TuesdayDevotion: 2 Peter 2:12-21

#TuesdayDevotion: 2 Peter 2:12-21

Date: 1/12/2020

Peter tells us not to be a dog returning to its vomit. Peter talks about bad people in the church. Some of these bad people claimed to be leaders.  Peter appears to be struggling to stop the church being spoiled. They came into the church but wanted the world. Peter says they were greedy and were experts in seducing people. They wanted money, sexual immorality, they were gluttons, thinking they were so spiritually superior they could make judgments about angelic beings they knew nothing about.  See 2 Peter 2:10-11.

In verse 12 he says: “They are like unreasoning animals, creatures of instinct, born only to be caught and destroyed, and like animals they too will perish.” Peter describes them in verse 17 as “springs without water.”

Have you met Christians who claim to be alive and spiritually mature, who claim to be Spirit filled and they say many things and don’t follow through? They join ministries but are not faithful, they make excuses. They want people to give them money, attention, praise. They want followers to boost their egos. They are lacking in concern for God’s approval. Jesus says in John 5:44: “How can you believe since you accept glory from one another but do not seek the glory that comes from the only God?”

We need to take God’s approval seriously. If our ambitions are all worldly, if we only seek more status, money, or sexual immorality, we displease God. James in chapter 4 verse 4 says we stop being His friend and become His enemy when we choose such worldly ambitions. In 1 Peter 4:2 he exhorts us not to live our lives for evil human desires but rather for the will of God.

Are there desires in your life contrary to the will of God? Take a few moments to think how you spend your time. Is it more for evil human desires, or for the will of God? Consider your thoughts, words and deeds that indicate your choices.

Peter says in verse 12 these evil people will be paid back with harm for the harm they have done. Choosing sinful lusts will result in punishment from God. Galatians 6:6 says: “Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.” In 1 Peter 2:24 we are reminded about Jesus: “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed.’

God takes sins very seriously. Jesus had to sacrifice Himself to cancel our sins and cancel the punishment in our lives for sins. If we allow ourselves to be hardened by sins’ deceitfulness and do not repent, we should consider verses 20-21 of this passage afresh: “If they have escaped the corruption of the world by knowing our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ and are again entangled in it and are overcome, they are worse off at the end than they were at the beginning. 21 It would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than to have known it and then to turn their backs on the sacred command that was passed on to them.”

Peter states in verse 22, our sins appear to God as repulsive as a dog returning to its vomit. This is a disgusting metaphor for sin. It is not nice considering this mental picture. Peter is talking about Christians going back to sinful behaviour that they already have been set free from in Christ.

Suggested prayer: Father God, may I seek Your approval over the approval of others. May You help me to live by Your Spirit and not according to the sinful nature. Forgive me for the times and ways I have lived according to the flesh. Help me to change my mind and live from today by Your Holy Spirit. Lead me in prayer, worship and meditation on the word of God. May I grow in the fruit of the Spirit for the glory of Your Name. Amen.

 


Sunday, November 29, 2020

#SundaySermon Emotionally Healthy Series: Forum

Date: 29.11.20
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 28, 2020

#SaturdayDevotion: Firmly Established in Truth

Firmly Established in Truth (2 Peter 1:12-15)

12 So I will always remind you of these things, even though you know them and are firmly established in the truth you now have. 13 I think it is right to refresh your memory as long as I live in the tent of this body, 14 because I know that I will soon put it aside, as our Lord Jesus Christ has made clear to me. 15 And I will make every effort to see that after my departure you will always be able to remember these things.

Truth. What is truth? In this day and age, the truth of God is under attack. In fact, many people no longer believe there is such a thing as absolute truth. They claim that all truths are “truths”, subjective and relative. By saying that all truths are “truths”, it demeans the power of the Gospel. This is a demonic attempt to disillusion humankind from the reality of God and Jesus Christ.

Everything that Christians claim to be truth, in terms of the nature of humanity, sin and human redemption, is established by the witness of the Holy Scripture and those that proclaim it. Most importantly, Jesus himself claimed in John 14:6 to be the Truth. However, even Jesus’ personal claim to be “the Way, the Truth, and the Life” is being contested.

Humans simply do not like to have one absolute truth because it eliminates choice and diminishes the human “free will”. So, it is according to our human nature, we renounce absolute truth and embrace the “pantheons” of truths that are made available to us. We will claim Jesus is truth but so is Buddha. Jesus is truth but so is Marxism. Jesus is truth but so is Democracy. Jesus is truth but so is Darwinism. But to claim that there are many truths implies that there is no truth – that everything is a lie. This cannot be!

Close to 2000 years ago, the Apostle Peter wrote to the believers scattered among the nations to be firmly established in the truth that they already know – that Jesus is the Christ and Son of God, and that who believes in Him will received eternal life. The apostle’s personal encounter with Jesus at the Mountain of Transfiguration (Matt. 17:1-8) gave evidence of the Truth Claim. This truth has been set in stone and should not be tampered. The believers were to remember this Gospel truth, and to disallow doubt or other “truths” to rob them from the joy of experiencing their salvation.

Friends, as you consider this, please bear in mind that not all things that seem to appeal the mind and the heart are necessarily the truth of God. The best way to attest truth is to study the Scripture and test every truth claims against the Word of God. Ask yourself, “is what presented as truth aligned to the Bible and the attitude of Christ?” If they are, we may consider them further. However, whenever there are contradictions against the Biblical claims, it is wise to resist them.

Finally, ensure that you are anchored in the Truth – Jesus Christ. Continue to daily establish yourself firmly in the truth so that nothing can shake you from the foundation that has been set for you.

Thursday, November 26, 2020

#ThursdayDevotion: 1 Peter 5

Date: 26th November 2020

This is such a meaty passage - so much to chew on! The verses that I want to touch on are 8 -10:

Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world.But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you.

The devil wants to take us out.  I remember years ago a family member told me about a vivid dream they had.  They dreamt they were on a beach watching a lion walking.  Thinking they were safe,  they were alarmed when they realised the lion had started stalking them and cut off their way of escape.  I remembered this passage and shared it with the relative.  God was showing them an area of temptation in their life that they thought they had control over, that it wasn't such a big deal, but God was showing them it was. Not because it hurt God, but because ultimately it was harmful to the person.

How do we resist the devil? We do God's will.  There is no point in praying spiritual warfare if you are still sinning.  When we choose to distance ourselves from the temptation and focus on loving God, we are resisting the devil.  If we haven't yielded authority to him through disobeying God, he cannot hold onto us.

I love how Paul reminds us that many others have experienced the same suffering, and that with the suffering there is a promise. After we have suffered a little, God will perfect is, establish us, strengthen us and settle us.  We are settled when we have His peace.   This is such a beautiful thing - to he able to put our head on His shoulder and rest.  We have an awesome God who walks with us and wants our best. 

God bless you.



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


Thursday, November 12, 2020

#ThursdayDevotion: James 4:13 - 17

Date: November 12th, 2020

James 4:13-17 reminds us of a problem many of us Christians have, and it’s something we need to change.

This passage assumes that as believers, we readily acknowledge Jesus as Lord.  But when it comes to the business of daily living, we set that fact aside and function as if Jesus is not really our Lord.  We acknowledge Him in the spiritual aspect of our lives, but don’t acknowledge Him or invite His Lordship into everyday life.  We make our daily plans (or even just drift through the day), set our life-goals and accomplish our dreams without checking in with Him or waiting on Him for guidance.  Or we may pray for His blessings and guidance but not wait to listen for it.  We behave like believers in our devotional life, but like unbelievers in our daily life.

James, the half-brother of Jesus, was not admonishing people for making plans.  It is what is lacking in the plans that is the problem.  If God wants you somewhere, then that’s where you need to be.  I remember years back a man sharing a testimony of how he had two job interviews lined up in one day due to some kind of mix up.  One was working in a company in a management role, the other was with someone who wanted to start up a business. In his heart he wanted the secure job working in management, but felt prompted by the Holy Spirit to skip that interview and just go to the other one, which he did.  He soon joined this person in starting up what is now one of New Zealand’s biggest fruit companies.  The other business?  It folded within the year.  Make time to stop and listen to what the Lord has to say, even if it is over your morning coffee. 

Be persistent!




Tuesday, November 10, 2020

#TuesdayDevotion

 #TuesdayDevotion

Date:10 November 2020

What is real wisdom? In this passage, James describes two different kinds of wisdom. First, wisdom that is earthly and wisdom that is from God. How can we tell the difference? By its fruits or a person’s conduct. Earthly wisdom is characterized by envy and selfish ambition whereas Godly wisdom is a reflection of God’s nature on us: pure; peace loving, considerate; submissive; full of mercy and good fruit.

As part of maturing as a Christian, we must grow in wisdom. Proverbs 9:10 says, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” Wisdom is founded upon the fear of the Lord. How do we live out God’s wisdom? We must we live a life that desires to please God and a life that is obedient in His ways. Let us tutor our hearts to apply this text into our lives and it has a lot of similarities from the beatitudes series that the church is studying together:
a) First, we must be pure in heart and mourn sin. Job 28:28 says this: “Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom, and to turn away from evil is understanding.” To fear the Lord means we must avoid sin and to have an uncompromising desire to please God in all things. Where there is sin in our lives, we must humble ourselves before God and repent of it. Do not let the sin fester causing us to have callous hearts. Seek His power to walk away from it. Meditate on Psalm 51:10 “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew steadfast spirit within me.”

b) We are not wise on our own. True wisdom is a gift of God and we are therefore dependent on our heavenly Father. This is why Godly wisdom is always characterized by humility or meekness, not arrogance or loud boasting. No other person has exemplified the characteristics in this passage than Jesus Christ. Jesus did not come to be served, but to serve, so we must commit ourselves to serving others and consider other’s interests above our own. Even to his death on the cross, Jesus displayed humility showing obedience to the Father. He also showed humility to the people who were responsible for his death by forgiving them. When we are humble, we will display peace and gentleness in our relationships with others. Only when we are humble and come to God in submission so that the Holy Spirit may work on us in this area. Are we at peace with others around us? Do people see humility when they see us?

Prayer:
Heavenly Father, I desire to honour you, to please you in all my ways. I want to surrender my life into your hands. Help me always to remember to put You above all things. Give me wisdom that comes from above.

Sunday, November 8, 2020

#SundaySermon Beatitudes Series: (Peacemaker & Persecuted)

Date: 08.11.20 Shalom, church! Come and join us for the Sunday sermon on Beatitude Series! Have a blessed Sunday and stay safe everyone!


Saturday, November 7, 2020

#SaturdayDevotion: James 2:14-26 (Real and Living Faith)

 #SaturdayDevotion: James 2:14-26 (Real and Living Faith)

Date: 7th November 2020


In this scripture we learn that real faith is accompanied by action. James was writing to new Christians who had come from a Jewish background who had discovered salvation by faith and freedom from righteousness based on works and rituals. Here, James is warning them against the extreme thinking that they no longer needed to demonstrate their faith by any works or actions. He explains that although it is true that we are saved by grace through our faith in Jesus Christ, the kind of living faith that we have will naturally have works and actions that accompany it. If you have a living faith, you will want to demonstrate it by your actions. Otherwise, it is doubtful if your heart has been truly affected by this faith. If we really believe and understand the extent of God’s love and grace towards us, we will be so overjoyed and grateful that this love will overflow from within our hearts and become apparent in our actions. This love and faith will have transformed us. If this does not happen, it is likely that the “faith’ we profess has not affected our hearts or our lives in any real way and is therefore likely to be “dead” faith.

For example, God commands us to love our neighbour (meaning the people around us). Love is not a fuzzy feeling or a sentiment. It is not just a “like” clicked on someone’s Facebook page or a comment posted on social media. Love requires a series of intentional decisions and actions that demonstrates our love to the other person. Otherwise, it is not real. A person will not believe he is loved if you do not provide encouragement, practical support, investment in time and care, no matter how much claim to love them. This is because there is no demonstrable action to support this claim.

Similarly, you cannot claim to have a living faith unless there is demonstrable evidence of your faith in your actions. Simply saying that you love someone or that you have a faith without doing anything to demonstrate it, is of little value. James puts it very strongly by calling it a “dead” faith. Dead faith has no real value, because even the demons believe there is one God (v19). Therefore, when you see someone who requires practical help, do not offer empty words, but get up from your seat and see how you can actually help them. Telling people who are hungry that you hope they will become well-fed in the future, does no good (v16) and makes you look foolish and uncaring. Look around you and see what needs there are in people around you. Is there someone you should get alongside, to support and encourage them? Does someone else need practical help with transport, baby-sitting or food-shopping? A word of caution here.

Being available to help people does not mean that people should become dependent on you, bully or manipulate you. Helping is not necessarily giving in to what people want form you. Refer to the relationships between Laban and Jacob (Genesis 29:15-28), Aaron and his wife Miriam with Moses (Numbers 12:1-16), Delilah and Samson (Judges 16:15-16). We should ask God for wisdom in all situations. Nevertheless, you may well claim to have faith but other people will see no evidence of this faith unless it is seen in real life by your actions. People will not see God’s love and goodness if we do
not demonstrate it to them.

The next lesson is the importance of acting upon our faith in obedience to God. Abraham is shown here as an example of faith when he offered Isaac his son on the altar, in obedience to God’s command. God saw his faithfulness and sent an angel to stop him. Abraham was blessed by God for his faith, obedience and righteousness (Genesis 22:1-18). Thus, Abraham’s faith was made complete and proven to be true (v22). Similarly, Rahab had faith and chose to help people (v25, Joshua 2:9-13) even though it was risky and might cost her something.

The message in these scriptures is straightforward. Saying that we love God and believe in Him is of no real value if we do not live our lives according to the faith that we profess by demonstrating it in our actions, day by day. Saying that we wish, feel or believe something is not a substitute for taking
appropriate action.

Self-Reflection
Think about how you have shown your faith in action in the past. What motivated you to act and how did you make the decision? What was the outcome of this? Now think about situations in the past when you did not act as you perhaps should have. What stopped you and what do you think you should have done instead? What were the consequences of your inaction?

Are there attitudes, fears, beliefs or other barriers in your heart that may hinder you from obeying God and demonstrating true faith? Ask God to reveal any areas in your heart and life that you need to surrender to Him in order practice a real and living faith.