Thursday, April 22, 2021

Thursday Devotion: Fruit of Suffering

This was according to the eternal purpose that he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through our faith in him. So I ask you not to lose heart over what I am suffering for you, which is your glory.

Ephesians 3:11‭-‬13 ESV

Study:

The Christian faith and life is both an invitation to a life of abundance and suffering in Jesus Christ.

When you read Ephesians 1, you will discover that Paul expressed the abundance of spiritual blessings in the heavenly realms that were available and given to him, the apostles and those who believed in Jesus Christ. However, as you go along in the reading you will notice that he wrote of being a prisoner of Jesus Christ for the sake of the Gentiles (3:1).

Paul understood that the abundance of blessings were God's grace to be lavished on others. It is God's eternal plan - predestined will, that the Church (Jews and Gentile) display His wisdom (i.e. salvation and life is found in Jesus Christ). This truth gave him great confidence and boldness to continue proclaiming the gospel despite the risk of being imprisoned. Suffering, therefore, was a burden he was willing to bear because it is the grace of God for both the Jews and Gentiles to be united with one another in the inheritance of Christ in Him. So, he encouraged the readers to "not lose heart over what I am suffering for you, which is your glory" (v.13).

Reflect:

Most of us have yet to understand the joy that Paul experienced for the sake of the Gospel. In fact, because he chose to be obedient to Christ in life and death, even to share in Christ's sufferings, we who are Gentiles have become recipients of the Gospel. His suffering has resulted in the spreading of the Gospel that brings life to the Gentile world. You and I are indeed the fruit of suffering.

You may know of people who are contending for the Gospel and are at risk of being imprisoned for Christ. Some are denied proper rights as citizens for the Gospel. Yet, they continue to persist in faith because of the confidence they have in Jesus Christ. Perhaps, you are going through a type of suffering because of your professed faith as a fellow disciple of Christ. Do not lose heart. You are in great company with Paul and the other apostles who have gone before you. For we know that Christ will be glorified through of sufferings.

Application:

As we consider the countless of godly men and women who have joyfully gave their lives for the Gospel for the sake of our salvation and eternal inheritance as God's people, may we also consider how we can continue the Christian tradition of evangelism - to include, invest and invite others into the family of God in Jesus Christ.

Pray:

1. Let us pray for those who are suffering or experience hardships for the sake of the Gospel.

2. Let us pray for one another to be bold and confident in our faith as we proclaim the Gospel to others.

3. Let us pray for God to lead us to people who we can share His love and salvation with.

The Lord be with you. Amen.


Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Tuesday Devotion: Citizen or Foreigner (Ephesians 2:11-22)

Tuesday Devotion: Citizen or Foreigner (Ephesians 2:11-22)

"Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints.." (v.19) 

Ephesians tells us we are citizens of God's Kingdom and that we are not strangers and foreigners. These are opposing identity. Believers in Ephesus struggled with their identity. They claimed to be citizens yet tried to earned citizenship by living the law, e.g., circumcision. A confusing bunch of citizens. Or are they strangers and foreigners?

What about you?  For now,  let just do 2 checklists:

1. He is your Savior? You know Jesus and thay He has died for you and given you salvation? 

2. He is your King? This means trust and obey His word. Trust and obey even when I don't feel like it or don't understand fully. Trust and obey even when the Scripture is not convenient to me and my situation.  Trust and obey even when you think it is unfair or very uncomfortable. 

What are those moments you don't want to trust and obey? That distinguish between citizens and foreigners in God's Kingdom. Jesus made the line very clear, "Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness..." (Matt. 6:33).

The first is about Jesus' finished work to give us complete forgiveness and salvation.  The second is about we belonging to the King, Christ's Lordship.

Prayer 

Dear King Jesus, thank you that you made me citizen of your Kingdom. Help me live as faithful citizen to you, trusting and obeying. Amen

You live as one? 

Believers in Christ are citizens of God's Kingdom because Christ has made it a reality through his death and resurrection.  

Question. Are you citizen of the Kingdom of heaven?

Citizens of every nation live with a certain culture,  values,  beliefs,  practices, laws, rights, protection and so forth. 

God's Kingdom is not different. We have the Word of God to tell us who our King is and how good He is to us. Amazingly  how we are to live and shine His Kingdom.

Do you know them? More importantly,  do you live by them?

Saturday, April 17, 2021

Saturday Devotion: What do you see? (Ephesians 1:15-23)

Jesus taught that "The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light ..." (Matthew 6:22). What our eyes see determine how healthy we are. Example, if we see treasure on earth, we will be earthly bounded. If we see treasures in heaven, we will be heavenly minded. These two are a world apart. The former lives for now and will do all things to grab, including hurting others. The latter lives for eternity and becomes a steward of what God entrusts him and thus bless many.

Paul understood this truth and in Ephesians 1:18-19 told us that with healthy eyes we know:

1. The hope of His calling- to salvation, Christlikeness, to serving the King of kings.

2. What are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints.  Imagine this, a son of a billionaire inherits the billions.  That is awesome. Now imagine what the God of all creation, of eternity possesses (where a billion dollar is like one cent to Him) and what inheritance He has for you and I, who are made saints through Christ's perfect and complete work on the cross. Wow!!!

3. What is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe. Do you see God's power at creation, opening the Red Sea ... and above all, raised Jesus from death? This power is shared with us who believe, i.e., the church. What sin, fear, bondage, habit, or anything can keep us captive? Only if we see with enlightened eyes.

 

Reflection

Care to check the optometrist?

How healthy you are depending on how healthy are your eyes?

 

Prayer:

Lord Jesus, heal my eyes. Let me see what you see and live the way you live. Amen


Thursday, April 15, 2021

Thursday Devotion: Bless the Lord? (Psalm 103)

“Bless the Lord, O my soul.” The phrase comes up repeatedly, over and over again in Psalms 103 (depending on your translation). And this is something we often hear, sing and maybe even say. But what does it really mean to bless the Lord? And isn’t it supposed to be us being blessed by Him, and not He by us?

The word blessing, most of the time when we use it, we usually mean it for a gain of some kind. However to “bless” isn’t restricted to just that one meaning. It's also words of promise, truth, and encouragement.

When we say “bless the Lord” it means that we are praising God, we are pouring out praise upon him, we are declaring that He has power, we are glorifying Him for what he has done and we are worshipping Him.

God wants us to worship Him, and praise Him, not because He needs it, but because He wants us to know who he is and to recognize who He is. Because the more we understand Him, the more we will grow to love Him, and to find Joy in Him.

Have you ever seen videos of baby ducks who've never experienced swimming? Ponds? They will first be hesitant to go in, scared of what that large body of water is. But the moment they step into the water, they will freak out initially, overcome with so much joy in how fun the water is.

And that’s what God wants for us too. He wants us to draw near to Him, so that we may experience Him and find so much Joy in praising Him because God is the greatest good in life.

Take some time to think about the good you have in life, the good that God has done for you, and thank Him for those things. Praise Him for his goodness.

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Tuesday Devotion: Be a Co-Worker! (2 Corinthians 6:1-10)

2 Corinthians 6:1 - ‘Working together with him, then, we appeal to you not to receive the grace of God in vain’. 

What would it look like to receive the grace of God in vain? How would it appear to be a recipient of God’s grace, but to have none of its authority or power in your life? What good is the favor of God if it makes absolutely no difference in the life of the inheritor? Paul is here quoting from Isaiah 49:7 that the day is coming when the captivity is over, when the dispersion will be gone… and he will help his humble servant to rebuild the city of Jerusalem. In today’s context, Paul is saying that the day of the new has arrived in the gospel of Jesus Christ. Today God has offered salvation through Christ and this is the favorable time, the day of salvation. Receiving God’s grace is receiving God’s salvation. And because we have received this grace we become God’s co-workers. It is His work that He asks us to do together with Him. If we do not work with and for God, we receive God’s grace in vain. It’s time we remind people that now is the day of salvation. Paul’s great plea was that now is now, and that now is the only opportunity for us to remind people that if they have received the Salvation then its time they don’t keep it to ourselves.

Be a blameless servant of God! 

And when we are co-workers, as servants of God “we (should) commend ourselves in every way” says Paul. We need to be careful not to allow anything in our lives to turn someone off from becoming a Christian. There is no better rule of life than to ask ourselves the question every day, what influence are my actions now having on the Church of God? Paul had this passion to be blameless as a servant of the gospel. Paul was willing to do most anything to make sure he gave no offense in anything. He was willing to forego his salary as a minister of the gospel (1 Corinthians 9:3-15). He was willing to work hard and endure hardship. Paul was not afraid to offend anyone over the gospel of Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 1:18-25), but he would not allow his style of ministry to offend anyone. But, Paul’s ministry was blamed and discredited by the Corinthian Christians. He has taken great risks to tell the Corinthians of God’s grace and love. Yet, Paul never doubts that the gospel is worth it all. His focus was Jesus and his plea is that everyone receives this salvation he has experienced. 

Be joyful in suffering! 

For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake, Philippians 1:29-30 Look at verses 8 to 10. Paul lists seven paradoxes, seven seemingly contradictory truths; the sufferer is seen as an imposter, unknown, dying, punished, sorrowful, and poor; having nothing. YET, well known, not killed, always rejoicing, making many rich and possessing everything. But God takes the worst and transforms it to the best. Here’s what God does in the life of a sufferer. He knows you and sees the inside of you. Romans 5:3–5 Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. Expect to suffer for Jesus, but expect greater joy and life to come through that suffering. ...as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing everything. (2 Corinthians 6:10) What a magnificent life! 

Suggested prayer: 

Thank you, Heavenly Father, Thank you for Paul, as he lived through the pressures and the calamities of his own time. Grant us grace to live right under similar pressures that we may seek to glorify God and count it as joy; manifesting a character of purity, of knowledge, of patience, and of kindness. We thank you, Lord, and ask that you will make us that by the power of the Holy Spirit. In Jesus name, Amen.

Sunday, April 11, 2021

#SermonSeries: Maturity

#SermonSeries: Maturity


Good afternoon,

Come and join us online on the Equipping the Saint sermon series. Have a blessed Sunday.

Stay safe.


God bless. 



Saturday, April 10, 2021

Saturday Devotion: Job 13

Though He slay me, yet I will trust in Him.”

The book of Job tells the story of a righteous man who loved and obeyed God. He was blessed with wealth and a large family. God asks Satan what he thinks of Job and tells Satan that Job is a blameless and upright man who fears God and shuns evil (Job 1:8). However, Satan replies that the reason Job fears God is because God has protected and blessed him, and suggests that should God remove these things from him, Job would surely curse God to His face (Job 1:9-11). Then God does something that is unusual. He tells Satan, “very well then, everything he has is in your power, but on the man himself do not lay a finger.’ God therefore allows Satan to destroy whatever Job has. Job loses his family, his wealth and everything that is dear to him. In the proceeding chapters, we see how Job’s wife is so upset that she becomes angry with God. His ‘friends’ Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar go to visit him, supposedly to sympathise with him but it turns out that they are not much help. They tell Job that this has perhaps happened to him because he has done some evil and ‘deserves’ the punishment. There is a conversation back and forth, and it is clear that his friends are not actually well intentioned. They imply that Job is inferior to them, and less righteous than they are because he has been afflicted and they have not. These ‘friends’ are prime examples of whom you do not want as friends in fellowship. They did not provide comfort and their views about why God had allowed suffering in Job’s life, were judgmental and inaccurate. 

By chapter 13, Job has listened to them at length and has also given his replies to their accusations. In this chapter, he tells these friends that he is not inferior to them. He tells them that they smear him with lies and are worthless physicians (v4). He has understood that they have spoken deceitfully and they think they are better than him. He warns them that God will surely call them into account. Job desires to speak to the Almighty to argue his case with God (v3) directly (and not with these three men). In verse 15, Job shows that he has understood the correct response and attitude to his situation:

‘Though he slay me, yet I will hope in Him.’

Job has understood that he is fully in God’s hands. He is confidence that God will deliver (save) him, because he knows he is righteous before God. He trusts that he will be vindicated (v18) from all the baseless threats these men have brought against him. He does not fall into the trap of denouncing God.  

What does it mean to have faith in God’s deliverance? We have all experienced pain, loss and suffering. It can be difficult to see God’s plan when we are feeling emotionally or physically exhausted due to our suffering. Job had suffered unimaginable loss. He went through a long and painful period of wondering what was going on, and why God had inflicted this suffering upon him. However, he did not lose his faith in God because he understood that everything he had was from God. It can be very hard to make sense of suffering. We may feel angry with God and wonder why he has allowed such pain into our lives.

Nevertheless, Job sets us the biblical example of trusting in God and continuing to uphold our integrity.

Suggested Prayer

Father God, I understand that you are the Almighty God, and that you hold everything in your hands. Help me hold onto my hope in You, even as I go through trials and suffering. Help me to trust that you will deliver me and help me not to sin in my pain. Thank you, God that You love me and will never leave me nor forsake me. In Jesus’ name, Amen.


Thursday, April 8, 2021

Thursday Devotion: UNCHANGING GOD (PSALM 102)

The psalmist in this chapter started by crying out to God for help, pleading for His presence. He is obviously suffering, and feeling there and then that God is so distant from him. He is so depressed to the extent that he lost his appetite, making him weak and thin. He also described himself as a “desert owl and bird alone on a roof” indicating his loneliness and sadness, with no one besides him. Added to that, he also faced opposition, was being mocked and cursed. 

However, after describing his gloomy depressed situation, from verse 12 onwards, the psalmist changed his focus. He started remembering and acknowledging God for His greatness, that He is one who will endure forever. He trusted that God will have compassion and that He will rebuild and restore the nation, bringing deliverance to the people. And that God will answer and not reject the prayers of those in need. Towards the end of this chapter, the psalmist said that “God will remain the same and His years will have no end.” Even though the psalmist is still in his suffering, he ended this psalm with confidence trusting that God will make all things right in the days to come. 

Because of mankind’s fallen nature, they tend to look for permanence/security in the wrong place. They place their hope and trust in things that are changing, thinking that they would be able to find security in them. Whether it is banks, investments, relationships, authority, or something else, they all too readily seek security in these things. But, none of all those things are able to give them the security they are looking for. Nothing is permanent in this ever-changing world. Everything around us will change, such as the landmarks, buildings, mountains, landscape, etc. We ourselves will also change over time. We will experience physical, mental and spiritual changes too. 

There is no way that we can stop changes from taking place. But as Christians, we can put our trust in Christ, our solid Rock who is our firm foundation. Only our God who is unchanging is able to provide us with the security that we are seeking for. Because God is eternal and unchanging, we can trust Him and count on His promises. He cannot fail to keep His promises to protect us forever. He is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble (Psalm 46:1). We are secure in Him.

The Psalmist in Psalm 102 understood this truth, that he can placed his trust and hope in this unchanging God who is able to provide him with the security and save him. Thus, in the midst of his suffering and insecurity, he turned to God. This helped him as he walked through the dark valley of trials, troubles and problems.

Suggested Prayer -

Dear Lord Jesus,

Thank you for reminding me of Psalm 102. I know that everything around me changes as time passed. I am truly blessed to have an unchanging God whom I can rely on and trust without any reservation. I pray that you will give me the confidence to trust in all of Your promises.

In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen

Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Tuesday Devotion: Galatians 2:11-14

In this passage, Peter was visiting Antioch to probably visit Paul and Peter was spending time with Gentile believers. We read here that he was eating with them. From the perspective of a Jew, it was highly unacceptable to eat with Gentiles as they were considered unclean in the light of God’s laws. It is likely that Peter was not observing the strict Jewish traditions as we know from Acts 10 that it was Peter who preached the Gospel to Gentile Cornelius and family. God gave Peter a vision that there were no longer any divisions of clean and unclean for all of God’s people. As we read on, we know that Peter withdrew from eating with the gentiles because a group of Jews arrived because Peter feared them.

This is an incredible account of Paul opposing and correcting Peter’s behavior by calling him a hypocrite. Peter was one of the 12 apostles. He walked with Jesus for 3 years, listened to him preach and saw the risen Christ. Peter was asked to lead the church and was given the title, “the Rock”. You would think that of all people, Peter would be the last to be called a hypocrite, especially after the events in Acts 10 as well. What led to this embarrassing event for Peter? It was his fear of others might think of him. When we have fear in our hearts, we will compromise our walk with God. When the rubber hits the road, what do we stand on? The approval of men or the approval of God? Peter always had this weakness. Remember when Jesus was on trial and Peter denied Jesus 3 times? We must remember that fear is not from God. God does not want us to live in fear but to trust him and make choices that glorify him.

You see, all of us have certain traits in us that has a potential to compromise our relationship with God. What is it for you? Fear? Pride? Insecurity? It is important that we identify it and pray for the Holy Spirit to work in those areas of our lives. His strength is made perfect is our weakness. What do I mean by that? Only when we acknowledge our imperfection will the Holy Spirit take over and empower us to be like Christ.

In this account as well, we learn that our actions may lead others astray. This is especially true for leaders, not only for those holding positions in ministries but also your household. Our actions and choices can have an influence on others. We must realise that our Christian life is not to live in isolation and wrongly assume that nobody is watching our words and actions. We are called to be a pleasing aroma of Christ to those around us and so let us all live our lives that is faithful and glorifying to God.

Prayer:

Heavenly Father, I pray for your strength to never compromise your Word and to continue to be a faithful servant to you. Reveal to us areas that may cause us to stumble and we trust the Holy Spirit to take over and empower us to be overcomers for Your Glory. Amen.

Sunday, April 4, 2021

Easter Sunday on Resurrection Sunday: Dies

Good afternoon, church!

Join us online as the reverend shares a messages on Resurrection Sunday. A day where Jesus is risen and defeated death. A day where we know that He lives and gives us hopes for tomorrow. 

Matthew 28:6


Have a blessed Easter Sunday

Saturday, April 3, 2021

Saturday Devotion: The gospel I preached is not something that man made up (Galatians 1:11-24)

There was no motive for Paul making up a new religious message. The disciples including Paul were persecuted for this message. They did not make money from the message. On the contrary, they had to endure sometimes severe hardship and some of them were executed. They also often had to deal with difficulties from people inside the church. They sacrificed a lot because of this message. Paul went from a respected Pharisee with authority from the Chief Priest, to experiencing persecution from the Jewish leaders. He was later arrested, charged and executed by the Roman authorities.

In this passage and especially at the beginning of chapter 2, Paul seems to suggest he was so astonished by the Gospel, it took him some years to fully understand it! He withdrew to Arabia, then went to Damascus and after 3 years went to see Peter. He later had to check with

Peter to make sure the gospel he preached was correct. See Galatians 1, verse 18 and Galatians 2:2. This may be because human beings want to earn their salvation, but God makes it clear, we by ourselves cannot earn our way to Heaven.

Paul informs us in verse 12, Jesus Himself appeared to him on the road to Damascus and turned his life around with the gospel message. He started that journey from Jerusalem intending to persecute the young Christian church. Jesus met Paul in a vision and turned him from opposing the good news.

A major theme of the letter to the Galatians is that we can’t earn salvation by ourselves, by just doing good deeds. The Christian message differs from other religions. In many religions, the message is about people doing good things and avoiding bad things. If people fulfil these obligations, then they can deserve to be saved.

Paul followed zealously the idea of obeying the Old Testament Law and earning his salvation. The Old Testament however, is full of many hundreds of prophesies of Jesus and the grace that would be poured out after He shed His blood. There are prophesies of how Jesus body would be a perfect and effective sacrifice for our sins. The writer to the Hebrews in chapter 10 verses 3-4 notes that the very fact that the Old Testament animal sacrifices needed to be repeated again and again should have alerted people to the fact that they function only as a reminder of sins and do not remove the sins of the people.

Where Christianity differs from other faiths is the emphasis on the need for the blood of Jesus to cover our lives with God’s grace and forgiveness. When we repent and ask God to forgive our sins, He does so because Jesus’ sacrifice on the Cross has opened the way to Him. We cannot earn our salvation by ourselves. We have to come to God and ask His forgiveness,and invite Him into our lives. He graciously and extravagantly does so. He then makes His home in our lives by His Holy Spirit. This is why Paul can say in verses 15-16:

“But when God, who set me apart from my mother’s womb and called me by his grace, was pleased 16 to reveal his Son in me so that I might preach him among the Gentiles, my immediate response was not to consult any human being.”

His Presence in our lives is a clear sign of God’s approval and salvation. Jesus said He and the Father would make His home in our hearts. John chapter 14 verse 23 notes:

“Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.”

Jesus informs His disciples in this passage that the Holy Spirit shall reveal Himself to them and give us His Peace.

When we invite Jesus as our Lord and Saviour, we find Christians are privileged indeed to have the Presence of Almighty God reside in our lives!

Suggested prayer: Father God, we thank You for Jesus’ perfect sacrifice for us. As both fully God and fully human we thank You for covering over our sins and making us righteous in Your sight. We acknowledge our inability to live up to Your perfect and holy standard in our own strength. We are thankful for the fellowship with You in our lives until You take us finally home to Heaven. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

Thursday, April 1, 2021

Thursday Devotion: Examine Your Spiritual Condition (2 Corinthians 13:1-10)

In this chapter the apostle Paul gave the directive instruction to “test yourselves” while dealing with some serious problems of sin in the church of Corinth. In his second letter to the Corinthians, Paul was preparing to return to them a third time after having spent a great deal of time in Corinth already. In this chapter Part of Paul’s warning included these words:

“Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you—unless, of course, you fail the test?” (2 Corinthians 13:5).

Paul wants to see the wrongdoers to repent. But many of those who had fallen into immoral practices had taken to challenging Paul’s authority as an apostle. Paul intended to firmly discipline those who did not heed his warnings and repent before his arrival (2 Corinthians 13:2–3). So he turned their challenge around, asking them to examine and test themselves to see whether they were in the faith.

This was not the first time Paul had asked the Corinthians to examine themselves. Earlier, he had observed the church participating in the Lord’s Supper in an unworthy manner. He told them, “Everyone ought to examine themselves before they eat of the bread and drink from the cup” (1 Corinthians 11:28). Believers are to examine their motives, their actions, and the current condition of their hearts to make sure they are in the faith.

Paul’s primary concern was to bring spiritual health and wholeness to the Christian community in Corinth. If the individuals were genuinely in the faith, then they would know that Jesus Christ lived inside them. His Holy Spirit would be at work within them, promoting sanctification and moral living. But if their lives showed no evidence of the Spiritual activity, then Jesus Christ was not dwelling in them. And if Christ was not in them, they failed the test.

Rather than cross-examining others, believers are to stick to examining their own lives: “Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else” (Galatians 6:4). In his first letter to the Corinthians, Paul told them, “I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified” (1 Corinthians 9:27, NLT). Paul made it a practice to test himself, too.

The words examine yourself and test yourself mean essentially the same thing. Some Bible versions have “look carefully at yourself” or “ask yourself.” One way to test yourself is to check for evidence of the Holy Spirit’s work in your life: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control” (Galatians 5:22–23).

A question to ask ourselves regularly is, “What is my spiritual condition?” The prophet Jeremiah called God’s people to honest self-evaluation and repentance: “Let us examine our ways and test them, and let us return to the LORD” (Lamentations 3:40). Scripture calls us to “test everything,” renounce evil, and “hold fast what is good” (1 Thessalonians 5:21–22, ESV). We might consider making this our prayer as David did: “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Psalm 139:23–24).

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

God's Story of Grace in my Life (2 Cor. 11:29-12:10)

May I ask you a very personal question? Have your prayed something you thought God would give to you, example, a gift or promise of God found in Bible, or a weakness (not a sin) to be removed? You are probably disappointed that this prayer seems unanswered. You probably stop asking for it already.

Here God points out our wrong thinking and a tutor us to understand correctly. Firstly, the lie is that you think God has not answered your sincere prayer for something that seems spiritual. The truth is that God has answered your

prayer, but not the way you expect, just better.

That leads to the second thing, a truth that we must learn to see, that God's answer to your prayer is to let this weakness remain in your life, or not giving you the gift or promise! And this is a great blessing. How is it so? It is a greater blessing because God's greater gift to us is not just anything, it is His character. Through weakness we grow in godly character. Paul testified to this with this words, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Godly character is the strength Paul spoke of.

Reflection: What character is God shaping into your lives through your weakness? Identify God's grace in your

life by recognising the characters Jesus has already moulded you into. Can you imagine yourself with all the gifts and promises without character?

Prayer: Lord, I am so grateful that instead of answering my prayer the way I ask, you shape your character into me. May I continue to recognize your grace in my weakness, so that I may always lift your Name high in my life. Amen


Sunday, March 28, 2021

Palm Sunday Sermon

Palm Sunday Sermon

Blessed Sunday Church!
Happy Palm Sunday!
This is the sermon for this week, have a blessed week ahead!

Title: The King, Kingdom and Citizen
Date: 28th March 2021



Saturday, March 27, 2021

Saturday Devotion: Do Not Be Deceived !

2 Corinthians 11:7–15 includes Paul's unmasking of the false apostles in Corinth. They disguise themselves as servants of righteousness as Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. Paul is a spiritual father who wants to protect the Corinthians from deceptions. Paul doubles down on his commitment not to take funds from the Corinthians for his own needs, simply to prove how he is different from the false apostles. Paul may have been mocked by the false apostles in Corinth for this principle. Or, for doing the manual labor of making tents to support himself when he first came to Corinth. Some of the Corinthians themselves may have resented Paul's stubborn refusal to take money from them when he was willing to take it from less wealthy churches. His motivation was important, though: to never cloud the message that God's grace and forgiveness were free gifts to those who trusted in Christ.

The point of Paul's speaking and teaching, though, was not to make a living for himself. It was to do God's work in leading unbelievers to faith in Christ. He wanted to be simple and straightforward. Paul’s boasting in his weakness and unimpressive image was an embarrassment to the Corinthian Christians. But He embarrassed them this way, because he loved them and would find a way to bring them back from their worldly thinking. Paul never wanted to use a florid language, nor did Jesus. Look at the sharp language he employed on occasion with the Pharisees. He said they were like "dead men's tombs full of rotting bones" (Matthew 23:27).

This should be our motivation too. To speak the truth when we have to and have no selfish motives when working for the Lord.

Paul then says, the most dangerous form in which Satan comes to us is as an angel of light (Vs 14). If the devil knocked on your door and took off his top hat and said, "Hello, I'm the devil. I've come to ruin your life and I'm about to do it today," you would not have any trouble handling him, would you? But he wouldn’t, he will come up with something so alluring and so fulfilling that you wouldn’t want to miss it.

The Devil's greatest weapon has always been deception. The most effective deception is to convince people that what is evil is actually good, that what is dark is actually light. By coating lies in a veneer of truth, it's much easier to fool people into accepting what is false. Paul had already compared the work of these false apostles to Satan's deception of Eve in the garden (2 Corinthians 11:3, Genesis 3:1–8). Paul takes that even further in the following verse.

2 Corinthians 11:15, “So it is no wonder that his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. In the end they will get the punishment their wicked deeds deserve." These false teachers, like the Devil, pretend to be servants of righteousness. They pretend to preach Christ and His gospel, but instead preach a false version of both. You can be deceived by their words of prosperity. They make immorality look pleasurable. they make popularity enticing. Jesus came to rescue us from this terrible grip and said, “Take heed that no one deceives you” (Matthew 24:4). Subtly, even contemporary Christian music can leaven with wrong theology. Be watchful always, and discerning the times in which we live. Paul pleads in Philippians 3:18-19 For, as I have often told you before and now tell you again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their destiny is destruction.

The way to avoid being trapped, in a world filled with delusion today, is simply this: Keep close to the Shepherd. Retain the simplicity that is in Christ. God is faithful who has called us into the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Let us say as David did, I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes: I hate the work of them that turn aside; it shall not cleave to me. (Psalm 101:3)

Recommended prayer

We thank you, dear Father, for your word that brings to light mistakes, pride and hypocrisy. Teach us to walk in your ways, without being deceived by the evil one. Thank you that, though, we live in a dangerous world we are kept by a faithful God and Saviour. Grant that we may walk close to You, not let anything take us away from that day-by-day, moment-by-moment companionship of your holy presence. In Jesus' name, Amen.

Thursday, March 25, 2021

Boast In The Lord (2 Corinthians 10:12 - 18)

This morning our devotion is going to be more focused on boast in the lord. But first let us see what boasting mean I am sure we all know the meaning of boasting but to help this devotion starts let me state it here. Boasting means excessively proud and self-satisfied talk about one's achievements, possessions, or abilities.

We all are living in a comparison world and people loves to boast about their achievements in their life to draw attention of others to see. But this morning let us see is boasting good? Can we boast about ourselves let us learn from the Scriptures. 

Is Boasting a Sin?

Boasting in oneself is an expression of pride and pride is condemned in Scripture (Proverbs 11:2). Prideful boasting is deeply embedded in our sin nature. which is why boasting is one of the sins so strongly demonstrated in the scriptures. Satan tempted Eve with the boast, “You will be like God” (Gen. 3:5). That is what pride and boasting are all about: our self-enthronement in the place of God. This was the motive behind the Tower of Babel; they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves” (Gen. 11:4).

C. S. Lewis identifies boastful pride as the prime sin; he called it “the anti-God state of mind.”

Boast in the Lord

The phrase “boast in the Lord” is found in 1 Corinthians 1:31, where Paul, quoting Jeremiah 9:24, says, “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.” It may seem strange to think of boasting as good but definitely Apostle Paul is not talking about excessive pride or self-achievements.

Paul’s statement about boasting in the Lord has nothing to do with worldly possessions or with the self-achievements. The context concerns God’s ability to glorify Himself even in our weakness. God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify, so that no one may boast before him. It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption” (1 Corinthians 1:26-30). Whatever good may come from our life, we have no reason to boast because, humanly speaking, we are “weak,” “foolish,” “Sinful,” and “not worthy.” All the glory goes to God and God alone (see Isaiah 42:8).

The purpose of God in the creation of man and the salvation of sinners is that we might boast in HIM. This is God's will for you this morning. And what he is saying is this: turn this very moment from all boasting in yourself. Don't seek your pleasure any more in your own wisdom, or your own strength, or your own looks, or your own achievements. Look to Christ crucified and see what becomes of it all.

Paul said in Galatians 6:14, "Far be it from me to glory except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world."

So, I call you to come to Christ and die this morning—and to live. And the promise of God is this: there is no greater life, no greater joy than to boast in him!

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Spiritual Warfare (2 Corinthians 10:1-6)

In the books of Corinthians, Paul is writing to a church that has many problems including idolatry, rebellion and false teachers. In this letter, Paul is urgently trying warn the Corinthians against the threats facing them from their own behaviour and attitude. In verse 1, Paul starts by telling them his intention, which is to appeal to them with humility and gentleness, in Christ’s example. He is aware that some people in the church were mocking him as being a “timid” speaker who was probably not very charismatic, but “bold” in writing to them. They were mocking him as a coward, or in the current internet age, they would have accused him of being a “keyboard warrior’. This kind of talk was happening amongst people in the Corinthian church, because they did not respect Paul or his teaching. They did not want other people to pay any attention to his warnings either. By writing verse 1, Paul is telling them that he knows all about what they call him behind his back. He asks them to reconsider their actions in verse 2, so that he would not have to “be as bold as I expect towards some people who think that we live by the standards of the world’. He is saying that he hopes he would not have to admonish some people as severely as he expects that he has to. Those of us who are parents, probably know this feeling well, when we hope we will not have to deal with our children as severely as we might have to, should they do something wrong.

What did Paul mean by “the standards of this world”? In verses 3-4 he writes, “For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world”. In this context, Paul was talking about the strategies that trouble makers in the church were using to lead others astray and to establish their own personal agendas; slander, false accusations, gossip, and general mischief. These weapons can be very harmful and destructive within a church. However, Paul does not bother to contradict any of the accusations made against him. He merely acknowledges that this is happening and informs them that he is aware of their actions. Then he reminds them that as Christians, we do not fight dirty like the world does. We fight with God-given weapons that have divine power to demolish strongholds. These weapons are truth, righteousness, the gospel of peace, faith, salvation and the word of God (Ephesians 6:11-17). With these weapons, we can breakdown and defeat any strongholds. You may be wondering what strongholds are. The answer is in verse 5; they are arguments and pretensions that set themselves up against the knowledge of God. A stronghold is a habitual pattern of thinking that is strongly held onto. Clearly if your relationship with God is a stronghold in your life, this is a good thing. However, what Paul means in this passage are arguments, thoughts or opinions that are against the knowledge of God, that are strongly held and that hinder us from a full and obedient relationship with God. These strongholds can have deep roots such as fear, pride, unconfessed sin, unforgiveness and lies that you have believed. We can only successfully defeat these problems with divine weapons. We should not fight as the world does even though we live in it (verse 3) because that would be foolish and pointless. Do not fight slander and mischief with the same kind of behaviour. Instead, fight it with the word of God and with the righteousness that comes from Him. He has already given us the victory and His promise that he will never forsake us. Do not fret about what people say. Move on with your walk with God and keep going forward. Take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ (verse 5). This means we should gain control of our own thoughts, recognise and challenge thoughts that are not consistent with God’s word. Choose to live in obedience and peace knowing that God will take care of everything that you need.

In verse 6, Paul writes, “And we will be ready to punish every act of disobedience, once your obedience is complete’. This verse does not mean physical punishment, as verses 3-4 have already told us that the weapons we use are spiritual weapons. Paul is talking about spiritual punishment. We will all be called to account for our actions on judgment day. I believe Paul is also talking about spiritual punishment on earth. Sin has serious consequences, both eternally and here on earth. We would be foolish to think that God would allow us to act as badly as we wish, without rebuking us. Paul’s main concern here is that all would repent and be obedient to God’s word. This is really why he has written this letter, in order to warn the people that they should take the opportunity to fully repent and turn their lives according to God’s will.

Personal Reflection

Take some time to examine your thoughts, attitudes and behaviour. What are the areas in your life that could be spiritual strongholds? Is there unconfessed sin, bitterness, jealousy, unforgiveness or pride? Are there things that you have believed that may not be true? Are there patterns of thought and behaviour that have caused you problems repeatedly? Ask God to help you to tear these spiritual strongholds down and to stop them from being re-established in your life. You may have to deal with painful issues, but trust God to help you. Let him take over as the secure stronghold of your life. Meditate on 2 Samuel 22:3, “The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation. He is my stronghold, my refuge and my saviour – from violent people you save me.” Amen.


Sunday, March 21, 2021

Spiritual Maturity In Worship and Word

 Shalom Church!

We are continuing with the series, Equipping the Saints This is the sermon for this week. Title: Spiritual Maturity In Worship and Word
Date: 21.03.21


Saturday, March 20, 2021

Saturday Devotion: The Genuinely Generous.

In 2nd Corinthians 9:1-11 Paul talks about giving, and doing so generously. He has been boasting about the Corinthian church for the generosity they have, and the contributions they have made. And it is their generosity, their willingness to give that is also making others moved to follow, and take action too. However, Paul also reminds us that when we do so, we do it while being aware of what our intentions are, what the motivation in our hearts are as we give.

I find that my intentions are be something that I often think about as I am going about my day. Although it is not always necessarily about giving, I like to think about why I am doing what I do, is it for a selfish reason? Is it to look good in the eyes of others? Or is it for the glory of God?

This passage is a call to action, for us as followers of Christ to be willing to give what we have. I believe that this giving can go past the norm of money and gifts but I believe that our time could be something we can gift to others. Taking the time to spend time with them, to get to know someone better, to share the knowledge we have on who Christ is, discipling someone to help grow closer to God. By doing such things we can use the gifts, the knowledge that God has given us and to invest it into others, that just as Paul says how the Corinthians have encouraged others to give, we too can encourage others to give what they have, and whatever they are capable of.

The people that we serve, alongside us, with the knowledge that we have acquired can find other means of giving, investing, in others, that they too may come to know or understand more about Christ.

Reflection:

Have we been investing the things that God has given us wisely? Can we trust in the God who gives us eternal life in Him, to also help us out as we give what we have, and to lean on Him alone?

Prayer:

Father, help us to be more like Christ. Help us to be willing to sow the seeds, help us to be generous, to not hold back, to not fear or worry because you are with us, and you are always watching over us and providing for our needs. Help us to invest our money, our time, and our gifts wisely that we may help to further your kingdom and impact the people around us. Help us become a walking testimony of your goodness. In your name we pray, Amen.


Thursday, March 18, 2021

Thursday Devotion: GOD IS HOLY (PSALM 99)

The phrase “God is holy” is mentioned three times in this particular psalm – verses 3, 5 and 9. As we are aware, any time that any word(s) is/are repeatedly being mentioned within a chapter, that is a way of emphasizing the importance of that phrase to the reader. This repeated phrase emphasizes that the main theme of this psalm is that “God is holy and He is to be exalted.”

The word “holy” means “set apart.” When we speak of God being holy, we mean that He is distinctly different from His creation. He is separate from everything that is sinful. He cannot tolerate anything that is sinful and evil. Holiness is the very nature of God. There is no trace of evil in his character and this is what distinguishes Him from all else. Only God is holy! Thus, when we say something is “holy,” we are saying that it is set apart from other things for sacred service. Likewise, when we say a person is “holy,” it means he/she is set apart for God’s will and purpose, they are set apart for His service.

• verses 1-3 described the Lord as one who reigns, sitting on His throne, and ruling all the nations. He is holy and worthy to be praised and exalted.

• verses 4-5 described Him as the just and righteous Judge, again affirming His holiness, and worthy of all praise and exaltation.

• verses 6-9 showed God having fellowship with people (Moses, Aaron & Samuel). Likewise, we too can enter into the same fellowship through Jesus. He hears us, forgives us, answers our prayers, and at the same time, He also disciplines us. He is indeed worthy of our praises and exaltation. He is our God and He is holy.

In 1 Peter 1:15-16 (NIV), it says, “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.”” As believers, we are commanded to be “holy” as God is holy. We have been called to live “holy and blameless” before God (Ephesians 1:4).

To become holy isn’t something that we can strive to do on our own or something we can achieve by being good. This is not what Christ died to pay for. He died on the cross for our sins. He gave up his life to redeem us, to pay the price for our sins.

To live holy and blameless, we can start by acknowledging that we are sinners and repent of our sins, acknowledge that He is Lord and He is holy, meet with God daily, yearn to be in His presence and to hear from Him as He is the one who directs our path, study and understand His word, learn to walk in truth and unity, be Christlike in our words, deeds and responses. Amen.

Holy is the Lord God Almighty – Isaiah 6:3


Tuesday, March 16, 2021

Tuesday Devotion: Godly Sorrow (2 Corinthians 7:10)

“Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.” 

The context in which Paul was writing is that he has been correcting and rebuking wrong behaviours and actions in the Corinthian church. Although he was sorry to have hurt them, he rejoiced that his letter brought them godly sorrow. Godly sorrow is that which brings the repentance that leads to salvation (2 Corinthians 7:8–9). There are a couple of biblical examples we can read about in order to understand how Godly sorrow is different from worldly sorrow. 

After David’s sin with Bathsheba, David confessed and repented before God. He wrote Psalm 32 and Psalm 51. David cries out “Against You, You only, I have sinned, and done what is evil in Your sight.” (51:4) And again, “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; A broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.” (51:17) We can see his heart and we can see that he was a broken man. In contrast, we read about the downfall of King Saul who disobeyed the Lord’s instructions in 1 Samuel 15 and Samuel uttered these words: “I have sinned” yet he wanted to be honoured in the sight of the elders. He wanted to avoid public embarrassment to save his reputation. He confessed his sin and yet remain selfish until the end. Saul’s sorrow was just for show and for his personal advantage or comfort whereas David’s sorrow was Godly sorrow because it was sorrow towards God, and cares about the offense to His holiness, and the impact of the sin upon others.

In the New Testament, we can compare the stories of Peter and Judas. Peter denied Jesus 3 times. Peter wept and repented whereas Judas betrayed Jesus and instead of repenting, took his own life. To repent means to change the mind of purpose and to restore a personal relationship with God. Peter repented but Judas only regretted. Feeling regret is not enough, you must go one step further. There needs to be inner transformation and not just outer appearance of regret. Worldly sorrow will not bring about spiritual change. Being sorrowful over things of this world means that they are not grieving over what their sin cost Jesus but grieving over what their sin cost to themselves. It could be that they are focusing on damage to their reputation or losing their friends. The primary focus in on self rather than focusing on God.

If we learn from the example of King Saul, saying “I am sorry” or “I have sinned” or feeling regret like Judas without any change in behavior is not enough. How is Godly sorrow different? Godly sorrow leads to repentance which is not just a change of mind but it must be accompanied by action. Godly sorrow means you turn to God, seek his forgiveness and commit it to God. The Bible says God will be faithful to those who confess our sins and forgive us and purify us from all unrighteousness. Through the transformative power of the Holy Spirit, we will experience a positive change in our lives. Letting go and being sorrowful of sin may be difficult for some. However, as believers we are called to a life of obedience and faithfulness to God so we can experience God’s joy, a joy that is worth more than anything this world could ever offer. 

Prayer

Father, forgive us where we have disobeyed you. Where we have willfully sin or tolerated sinful behavior, we know that it grieves you. Give us strength to repent and not be weighed down by regret. Change me and bring about a transformation in our lives because we want to live a life that is pleasing to you. Amen.

Sunday, March 14, 2021

Sermon Series: Equip The Saints - Maturity, Word & Transformation

Shalom Church!

Here is the sermon for this week!

Have a blessed week ahead!


Saturday, March 13, 2021

Saturday Devotion: As God’s co-workers we urge you not to receive God’s grace in vain (2 Corinthians 6:1-10)

The context of this chapter from the preceding verses in 2 Corinthians 5:18-21 is “the ministry of reconciliation”. God is reconciling the world to Himself through Jesus. As a result, the Corinthian church was born as people became Christians. However now they have received God’s grace and are Christians, God has given “the ministry of reconciliation” to His church as His fellow workers in partnership with God to reach those around them, (verse 1). Paul instructs us on the need to persevere, overcoming obstacles, choose God’s way over our own and go through hardships. In other words, our active effort is required in being obedient. We are saved the day we receive Christ, but the inclination of our hearts means we can as verse 1 says “receive God’s grace in vain.” 

In order to fulfil God’s will of reconciling the world to Himself in Christ, Paul describes in verses 4 to 5 the hardships he needed to endure to be obedient as God’s fellow worker. In verse 6 he outlines the ways he needed the fruit of the Spirit to be successful in “the ministry of reconciliation.” These fruit include, patience, kindness and sincere love in the Holy Spirit as well as purity and understanding.

Paul was an apostle sent by Jesus Himself. Jesus appeared to him on the Damascus road. He is considered one of the greatest Christians of all time. He was someone who planted many churches. He appointed church leaders in the anointing of the Holy Spirit with gifts of prophesy, pastoring, evangelism, teaching, administrations, those with gifts of healing etc. He wrote much of the New Testament with the unction of the Holy Spirit. Despite knowing these things, some people in the church and outside of the church opposed him and treated him badly. He makes some reference to this in verses 8 to 9:

“through glory and dishonour, bad report and good report; genuine, yet regarded as impostors; 9 known, yet regarded as unknown; dying, and yet we live on; beaten, and yet not killed “

Not everyone shall respect you even in the church for standing up for the good news of Jesus Christ. We however need to make pleasing God a priority over pleasing people. What people want, including church people can be very different to God’s priority! Our challenge is to choose to please our Lord and Saviour. As our Teacher and Saviour, even Jesus in John 5:30b states:

“for I seek not to please myself but him who sent me.”

 We need to be part of “the ministry of reconciliation.” We need to stand before Christ at the judgement at the end and give an account of ourselves. Let us be found to have pleased God more than ourselves. We need to know our identity as God’s fellow workers in “the ministry of reconciliation.” We need to become skilled in bringing people to God! We are called at the end of the gospels, in Jesus last words before His resurrection to disciple all nations.

Suggested prayer: Father God, help me to submit to Your will in my life. May we live by Your Spirit and not in our sinful nature. May we seek Your approval in our lives today. May we be Your co-workers and ambassadors in reconciling those around us to You. In our weakness and feelings sometime of inadequacy, may You work through us and anoint us to disciple the nations. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.


Thursday, March 11, 2021

Thursday Devotion: Home & Exile (2 Corinthians 5:6-13)

For walk by faith, not by sight.

2 Corinthians 5:7. What does this looks like?

'Present or absent to the Lord' in this passage refers to being physically present to Christ in heaven or remaining on earth still. Being absent (remaining on earth) comes with earthly pain. It has the idea of exile. Being present to Christ carries the idea of a rejoicing homecoming.

Two other things must be mentioned before we go further. (2) Paul also says the pain on earth reminds him his home is heaven. (3) While heaven is so exciting and earth can be filled with so much

suffering, the most important thing is pleasing Christ (v.9). That has to be THE GOAL.

With that established, let me go back to the first point and just focus on that. Walking by faith means a certainty of this homecoming, that heaven is real, I belong to heaven and I desire to be there. This is why Paul says "For to me to live is Christ to die is gain". His faith in Christ means earth is simply a temporary exile. The word exile helps us understand earth is not where we want to be. Homecoming is the opposite of exile. Homecoming is where we want to be. Exile is a painful thing, where we far from home, family, friends and all that we love.

Reflection: The question to ask is how attractive earth is to us? Today it can get

so attractive that heaven becomes the "exile". And earth becomes home for good ... Is this true for me?

Prayer:

Lord, may I live to please you whether on earth or in heaven. Yet I pray you help me because I am prone to think and live as if earth is home and heaven is exile. When that happen I am in the danger of not pleasing you, that my devotion to you is no longer there and my living becomes missionless. Help me, I humbly pray to you, that I am purposeful and rejoicing on earth, yet let there be a homesickness in my heart for heaven. In your precious Name I pray. Amen


Tuesday, March 9, 2021

Tuesday Devotion: The gift of the Gospel (2 Corinthians 4:7 - 15)

Take a second and try to imagine a couple of things.

First, imagine the sufferings in Paul’s life. He was beaten with rods, stoned, bitten by a snake, shipwrecked, not once, not twice but three times. 

Second, to imagine the sufferings in Joseph’s life. He was despised by his brothers, thrown into a well, sold into slavery, falsely accused of raped, and thrown into prison.

In 2 Corinthians Chapter 4, we read as Paul talks about the “Treasure” that is the Gospel, and us people, believers, followers of Christ as the Jars of Clay. He tells us of our brokenness, our imperfection, our weakness and our fragility, that despite all these things, we still have power, and that power comes from what is within us, in our hearts, and that is the message of the gospel. The treasure inside the jars of clay. And the message of the Gospel is what sustains us.

Paul mentions in verse 11, “ we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body. So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.” Which reminds me of a verse from Luke 9:23, where Jesus says “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.”

As followers of Christ we are called to deny ourselves, we are called to forego the desires of our hearts, the comforts that we have, and all this in order to follow God, to do His will, to be a light in the darkness.

Being a Disciple of God isn’t going to be easy, God doesn’t promise us smooth sailing all our lives when choosing to follow Him. And that is very evident when we reflect on the lives that both Paul and Joseph had.

But what is certain when following God is that it will be worth it. And through all this suffering, it was God who sustained Joseph, and God who sustained Paul and the message of the Gospel that gave them the power to continue living for God.

Now, have you suffered for Christ? Have you ever been pressed on every side, but not crushed? perplexed, but not in despair? persecuted, but not abandoned? struck down, but not destroyed?

Because that’s what the Gospel can do for you too, and that’s what God will do for you too.

The Gospel is so powerful and we need to be reminded of it everyday. That when we fail, God still loves us so much He would send His son to die on the cross for us. For every present, past, and future sin. His blood paid it all and atoned for our sins that we may be one with Him in heaven.

The greatest act of love that you can do, is to spare a person from an eternity of hell, of suffering. Giving them the opportunity to pick instead an eternity of joy, happiness, and a perfect life. And that act is through the gift which is the message of the Gospel.

Reflection:

Has your life changed as a result of the Gospel? Are you willing to deny yourself, to get out of your comfort zone, and to follow Christ wholeheartedly?

“If your life has not changed as a result of the Gospel, then the Gospel has not hit you yet.” - Nabeel Qureshi

Prayer:

Father helps us to become more like Christ. Help us to have the strength to persevere through trials, temptations, and hardships. Help us to be bold and able to share your good news to the people around us. Help us to look to you when we stumble. Thank you Lord, Amen.

Sunday, March 7, 2021

Simplicity, Worship & Word

Good afternoon, church! Join us today on the 3rd Sunday of Lent on the Equip The Saint sermon series.

Topic: Simplicity, Worship & Word Date: 07 March 2021

Have a blessed Sunday and stay safe!

God bless!



Saturday, March 6, 2021

Saturday Devotion: A Season of God’s Favour (Esther 2:1-11)

In 6th century BC, around the time that the story of Esther unfolded, the Babylonians besieged Jerusalem and destroyed King Solomon’s temple, a significant marker of Jewish culture. It was a devastating loss and thousands of Jews across the empire were forced into exile and captivity, known as the ‘Babylonian Exile.’

Wrapped up in this greater cultural conflict was another tension, the Persian king, King Ahasuerus of Shushan had harshly dethroned, divorced and ousted Vashti, all on the basis of her refusing to submit to the king and appear before him when summoned. So, this was the cultural climate that Esther faced when she stepped into the palace, and it was not easy as a woman, let alone as a Jewish woman. Without God’s favor, she very well may not have succeeded.

Mordecai, the spiritual Cheer leader

Reading this passage in the book of Esther, I began thinking about how, in Esther’s story, Mordecai played an important role in the setting up of the circumstances for her journey. Pre-ordained by God, Mordecai was called to raise this orphaned girl (Verse 7), and played such a tremendous role to point her back to her purpose. Long before Mordecai’s own lifetime, a descendant of the Benjamite line, Mordecai’s life had been marked for the purpose of raising up and encouraging our heroine. He was ‘the certain Jew’, not just any Jew, who was called to encourage Esther to protect her identity and watch over her as she sought favor with the king, making her way to the throne (Verse 11). He was willing to take the risk.

Perhaps you have even been called to be this person for someone else in your world. Mordecai was an insignificant Jew but he played a significant role in the life of Esther and in the lives of the Jews, so people could see God’s favour. God delights to pour His favour on obedient risk takers. Sometimes we just need to put away selfishness and grow in a desire to build others up. Be someone’s cheerleader today. (Hebrews 3:13). Ask God to bring someone to mind that you should reach out to, especially this season of lent, as we meditate on the sacrificial love demonstrated on the cross.

God’s favour

Hegai was the king’s eunuch (Esther 2:3), a person entrusted with the oversight of the king’s harem.  Now the young woman (Esther) pleased him (Hegai), and she obtained his favor; so, he readily gave beauty preparations to her, besides her allowance. He assigned to her seven female attendants selected from the king’s palace and moved her and her attendants into the best place in the harem. (Verse 8)

Hard as it may seem to believe, God also has favor over our lives in our present age, today. God is able to position us in places of favour, allow us to have favour with individuals and honour us for things we have not worked for. This is the favour of God. Not like the world who tries to manipulate and negotiate favour with others. This is supernatural favour! God’s favour chases all oppositions.

God wants to place people in our lives that will champion our cause and call us to good positions. Psalm 5:12 says, “For You, O Lord, will bless the righteous; with favor You will surround him as with a shield” If you would like to open the door to the favor and grace of God, begin to find out what He says in His Word. Discover the countless ways He desires to bless you. Believe Him. This a season of God’s favour, declare it!

Suggested prayer

Lord, I choose to be attentive to your voice. May I be alert to your Spirit’s guiding, to know whom I should reach out to. Help me to always heed the gentle promptings of the Spirit within my heart, so that I may not miss an opportunity to minister to others in times of need. I do thank You that You have promised the sufficiency of your wonderful grace and what a comfort it is to rest in Your favour. Thank you, Lord. Increase my faith and let me put my trust in You. In Jesus name, Amen.

Thursday, March 4, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, March 2, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

• Including everybody – the women and children also rejoiced

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

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

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

Personal Reflection

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

Sunday, February 28, 2021

Gospel Reliability by Mike Licona

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





Saturday, February 27, 2021

Saturday Devotion: 1 Corinthians 16:13 - 14

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

Be on your guard.

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

Stand firm in the faith

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

Points for reflections:

Are we staying in God’s word?

Stay alert to the tactics of the deceiver, Satan.

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

Prayer:

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

 

Thursday, February 25, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

Amen.

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Tuesday Devotion: 1 Corinthians 15:29 - 34

Does the resurrection power of Jesus transform your life today?

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

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

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

 Paul tells the Ephesians:

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

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

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

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

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


Sunday, February 21, 2021

Sermon Series: Equip The Saint II

 Have a blessed Sunday and stay safe.

God bless!



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.