Thursday, September 23, 2021

1 Peter 5:8 - 14

8 Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. 9 Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith. Remember that your family of believers[a] all over the world is going through the same kind of suffering you are.10 In his kindness God called you to share in his eternal glory by means of Christ Jesus. So after you have suffered a little while, he will restore, support, and strengthen you, and he will place you on a firm foundation. 11 All power to him forever! Amen.

In this morning devotion I want to share about 3 ‘R’ which I have learned from 1 Peter 5:8 - 14;

1. Resist

2. Remember

3. Restore

Resist:

In verse 8 peter talks about what we should resist in our life. He encourages us to stay alert and resist our great enemy who is devil. Satan can dress himself up in many guises and disguises. He slithers into the lives of believers as the evil serpent, seducing those that are unprepared for his malicious advances. He comes as the accuser of the saints and as the destroyer of nations - for he is the father of lies and a murderer from the beginning - and he comes as a roaring lion seeking to destroy the faith of many Christians through fear, anxiety, worry and depression - weakening our witness. But Peter is encouraging us not only to resist him but also to Stand firm against him, and be strong in our faith.

Remember

Remember that your family of believers[a] all over the world is going through the same kind of suffering you are v9

As we Stand against him, we also need to remember our believers in Christ. But how do we remember them? I believe it is through prayer.

Restore 

In the midst of our suffering God never allow us to suffer alone. In the midst of our suffering, he is always with us holding our hand journeying with us and he restore us and strengthen us and place us on a firm foundation which is on Christ.

For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.

1 Corinthians 3:11

Prayer

Heavenly Father, keep me humble in spirit and help me to cast all my cares and worries upon You. knowing that Satan is prowling around. We remember the families who are suffering also lord restore us strengthen us lord and build our life on you lord. in Jesus Name AMEN.


Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Tuesday Devotion: SUFFERING AS A CHRISTIAN

 Devotion 21st September 2021


Suffering as a Christian


1 Peter 4: 12 - 19

“Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though 

something strange were happening to you. But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or a thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler. For it is time for judgment to begin with God’s household: and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God? And, “if it is hard for the righteous to be saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner”. So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good.”


This is a challenging scripture. Nobody wants to suffer pain or hardship. The thought of suffering a fiery ordeal (v12) would probably fill most of us with dread. However, we are told that suffering is sent to test us, and this suffering enables us to participate in the sufferings of Christ. Somehow, as we engage in the ministry of Christ (being obedient to what He has told us to do) we will share fellowship with Christ 

through suffering in His name (v13, & Philippians 3:10-11). 


Christ suffered greatly for us on the Cross, and fellowship with Christ involves sharing in His suffering. This suffering is connected with our reward in heaven. There is a sense that suffering in this way refines us, as gold is refined in fire (Zechariah 13:9). We are to consider it a blessing to suffer for our Christian faith. We must expect suffering, as everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ will be persecuted (2 Timothy 3:12). We are blessed through this suffering because it indicates that we are walking with God and His Spirit rests on us (v14). It is proof of an obedient Christian life. Those who have suffered due to their ministry for Christ can take encouragement from the fact that this suffering is part of God’s plan. God who loves us, knows all about what we have gone through! We are blessed that He chose us and we are honoured because we obey Him. 


We must be clear that suffering in this sense means righteous suffering, because we have chosen to follow God and His ways. This is completely different to the suffering that we inflict on ourselves and on others through sin, disobedience and foolishness. It is not the same as suffering that occurs as a result of our own bad decisions or wrong doing. It is interesting to note that being a “meddler” is mentioned in the same sentence as being a murderer, thief or criminal (v15). Meddling basically means being a busybody or troublemaker, with the intent to cause the suffering of other people or for your own satisfaction or gain. This kind of behavior often causes great pain and disruption. It appears to be considered as seriously as other crimes. When we cause suffering as a result of our own sin, we need to learn to recognise it and repent. This is not the kind of suffering that is meant in this scripture. Instead when we suffer for Christ we have nothing to be ashamed of, although the enemy may try his best to make us feel condemned. We can choose to meditate on v16 and praise God that we bear his name.


God uses suffering to discipline us in this lifetime, because He begins His judgment in His own household (v17). We are God’s children and therefore part of His family. This suffering is the worst that can happen to us because we are confident of our eternal salvation in Christ! However, for those who do not know God, the judgement that is coming is far worse. We can rejoice in the suffering we experience now, because we are confident of living in His will. We can choose to give our lives to Him and continue to do good, because of our confidence in His faithfulness (v19), for His love and mercies never end (Lamentations 3:22-23). 


Suggested Prayer

Almighty God, thank you for choosing me to be part of your family. Help me to trust you and to have full confidence that you are in control even in the midst of hardship and suffering. I pray God, for your encouragement through any test that I may have to overcome as I obey You. Help me to continue to walk faithfully beside you. Thank you for your faithfulness and love. Thank you for the confidence that I can have as a follower of Christ, that I will receive my reward in heaven. In Jesus' name, Amen.

Saturday, September 18, 2021

Suffering as part of God's will (1 Peter 4:1 - 6)

4 Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because whoever suffers in the body is done with sin. 2 As a result, they do not live the rest of their earthly lives for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God. 3 For you have spent enough time in the past doing what pagans choose to do—living in debauchery, lust, drunkenness, orgies, carousing and detestable idolatry. 4 They are surprised that you do not join them in their reckless, wild living, and they heap abuse on you. 5 But they will have to give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead. 6 For this is the reason the gospel was preached even to those who are now dead, so that they might be judged according to human standards in regard to the body, but live according to God in regard to the spirit.

Why do many of those who are godly suffer? Examples include Jesus Himself, Job, Paul, Peter, and many others. Sometimes God allows suffering to occur to help us become more focused on Him. The suffering of Jesus did not occur because of sin. We know that Jesus is God’s Son. He is perfect. His suffering was to help Him walk through the things that many other people walk through, to aid the ministry of the Kingdom of God in people’s lives. As the only perfect man who was also fully human, God willed that He would experience human suffering in life. God the Father and the Son want us to know that He too has lived experience of human sorrow.

Jesus experienced a lot of suffering even before He experienced the Cross. From birth, His parents were not welcomed in their hometown and Jesus was treated with the stigma of illegitimacy. His earthly parents became refugees and experienced years of upheaval.

Sometime between the age of 12 and the beginning of His ministry aged 30, Jesus’ earthly father Joseph died. By the time Jesus turned water into wine at Cana in Galilee, His mother had turned to him instinctively as the family problem-solver because He was already experienced in dealing with day-to-day challenges and suffering. Before God the Father allowed God the Son to experience the Cross, Jesus in His humanity had to develop abilities at navigating lesser but still very significant suffering. 

One example is His experience of racism. This was from Roman soldiers (the beatings, spitting and crown of thorns and taunting of being “king of the Jews”). In Isaiah chapter 53 he is named the “man of sorrows”.

How does this relate to us? Paul in Philippians 3:10-11 states, “I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.” The Bible seems to state that suffering has an important role in the Christian life. It is significant that Paul equates suffering with fellowship with Christ.

No normal person wants to experience suffering. However, It appears to be necessary to achieve the Christian goal to draw near to Christ and please God in our lives. When we read Jesus’ prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane it is clear that, although He fully submitted Himself to God, He did not seek suffering any more than a normal person would. Similarly, Paul prayed for his “thorn in the flesh” to be taken away. Jesus indicated just before His resurrection that Peter would be bound up and taken where he did not want to go. Jesus therefore warned Peter that he would suffer against his own will, because of his obedience to Jesus.

In Romans 8:28 Paul states;
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Suffering is included in Paul’s statement about “all things”. God can use suffering in our lives to do good. He can use suffering to mature and improve our character. He can conform us to the image of his Son through suffering.

In 2 Timothy 3:12, Paul states;
“In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted”. For Paul, persecution and suffering follow on naturally from our desire to lead a godly life. 1 Peter 3:14-15 states,
But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. Do not fear their threats; do not be frightened. 1But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.

We need to draw near to God. When we do so, we experience a blessing, even during a period of suffering. The blessing of Christian joy is not dependent on happy external circumstances.

Suggested prayer: 
Dear Heavenly Father. Help me to draw near to Christ and live a life that pleases You. May I trust in Your perfect love that casts out all fear. Help me to find out what pleases You and to be obedient to You. In Jesus Name. Amen.

Thursday, September 16, 2021

THURSDAY DEVOTION: TRUST IN THE LORD - PSALM 125:1-2

1 Those who trust in the LORD are like Mount Zion, which cannot be shaken but endures forever.

2 As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the LORD surrounds his people both now and forevermore.

With just these two verses, they do seak volumes to all believers of Christ, especially during this covid pandemic whereby people are affected mentally, physically and spiritually. These two verses relay to us the promise of God. When we trust in Him, we are like “Mount Zion which cannot be shaken but endures forever.” We have God’s protection all around us at all times. He surrounds us (His people) like the mountains surround Jerusalem and He will do so both now and forever!”

Trust God – these two words are easier said than done. It is definitely easier to trust God when times are good with everything going smoothly and according to how you want or plan it to be. But when the bad times come and things feel uncertain, people tend to question God especially when help does not come fast enough. However, it is during those bad times that it is even more important to trust God. When things around us are “tossing and churning,” bringing us fear and anxiety, we can rely on Jesus because He is our Firm Foundation. He is our Solid Rock! (Matthew 7:24-27) 

When you trust someone, you believe in that person’s ability, reliability and strength. When it comes to trusting God, it means believing in His reliability, His ability, His strength and His Word. God always keeps His promises as He cannot lie because He is perfect and sinless. However, we can choose whether we want to trust God or not. But if we choose not to trust God and rely on the circumstances surrounding us, those things are definitely not reliable and they can change any moment. God, on the other hand, is more reliable because He does not change. He is the same yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8).

We do not know when or how the covid pandemic will end, but God knows. What we can do is to pray and trust Him because He knows and understands the situation that we are in. Trust that He will grant us His protection, that He will put a stop to this pandemic, and that some good positive things will emerge from this pandemic. Trusting in God makes us to be as strong as Mount Zion and allows us to remain unshaken by circumstances and change. Trusting in Him also brings peace, strength and comfort into our lives.

Suggested Prayer:

Jesus, thank you that those who trust in You are secured and cannot be moved for You are with us to protect and provide for us no matter what we may face today and the days ahead. 

In Jesus’ Name. Amen

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Tuesday Devotion

 Tuesday Devotion: Peter 3:1-7


In this passage, Peter admonished wives to submit to their husbands, just like how he admonished us to submit to every human authority for the Lord’s sake (1 Peter 2:13) and for slaves to submit to their masters (1 Peter 2:18). In this specific case, the wives are married to unbelieving husbands, and Christian husbands to unbelieving wives. 


There are 3 things we can learn from this passage.


1. Actions. Our actions speak louder than words. We are always surrounded by unbelievers, our families, friends, colleagues, etc. Sometimes when we use words to try to reach out to them, our words can fall on deaf ears. However, our actions and behavior can serve as silent preaching. We can win their hearts with our actions, for Him. 


2. Attitude. Our attitude is our best feature. We sometimes spend so much time and money on our outward appearance but forget about our spiritual appearance. It is fine to look good on the outside, but we need a spiritual makeover, the incorruptible beauty. A gentle and quiet spirit.  Gentle spirit – the words from our mouth, our responses, our emotions are powerful but under God’s control. Quiet spirit – the undisturbed tranquil trust in God with whatever is happening around us. Incorruptible beauty can make you look more beautiful as the years go by. Everyone has a hidden person of the heart. That’s the real you when nobody is looking.  We need the Holy Spirit to transform the hidden person of the heart, and we need to put in more time and effort into that spiritual makeover.


3. Admiration. Admiration is more biblical than contemporary. Who do we look up to? Who is our role model? We should be looking for role models in the bible, a biblical role model. The bible is our life manual, and it provides transformation. It can change the way we think and live our life. 


From this passage, we learn that we need to focus on the hidden person of the heart, choose good character and adorn ourselves with gentleness and a quiet spirit; we need a spiritual makeover. We are to be a witness in this unbelieving world. They are watching us, and most importantly, God is watching us. Therefore, we must live with integrity. 


May the Holy Spirit help us to live with integrity so that we can be a living witness of God. Amen.

Saturday, September 11, 2021

Saturday Devotion : Lamentations 3:19-42

 September 11, 2021

Today’s Passage is from Lamentations 3: 19-42


How do we spiritually thrive in the midst of suffering?  What are the thoughts that we should 

have, as we walk through a season of wide-spread despair and anxiety?  How do we fight this daily COVID-19 battle to be able to interpret life through a biblical lens?


When suffering, hardship, or judgment comes, these questions will be a part of the dynamic in one way or another.  In other words, pain of any kind causes us to ask really important questions, and it tests what we really believe.    It shows us who we really are, it surfaces what we believe about God, for, suffering is hard, but it is not bad.


Chapter three contains probably the most familiar verse in the book thanks to the hymn “Great is Thy Faithfulness”:


22 The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; 23 they are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.  (Lamentations 3:22–23)


Most people sing this song with a view toward a reflective gratitude for what God has done.  It is typically sung to give thanks for the Lord’s care or for his provision (“All I have needed thy hand hath provided . . .”).  But in Lamentations 3, “Great is Thy Faithfulness” is said, as Jeremiah looks at a smoldering, destroyed, and over-run city.  In other words, Jeremiah is not just reflecting in his heart; he is pushing his heart toward what is true despite what he sees with his eyes.  He is rehearsing what is true so that hope will rise.


Let us put our trust in God over and over when the circumstances of life are painful.  Hard is hard, but hard is not bad.  Why?  Because God is good.  That belief and trust matters the most when the circumstances of your life or family or city or nation might cause you to think otherwise. Even in the midst of the relentless battering of difficulty you can still “call to mind” what you know to be true about God.  


Justly, aren’t we the only ones who have hope because of JESUS,  in the midst of very difficult moments?


We need to preach to our own hearts.  That, God’s mercy never ends (vv 22-24).  Other translations render this as “lovingkindness” (NASB) as  “great love” (NIV), or “faithful love” (NLT).  In Hebrew it is Hesed, it is God’s covenant love for His people, and it is rooted in the very character of God.


Verse 23 says, “they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”  Jeremiah now makes it very personal and daily.  God’s faithfulness and mercy affect every single day.  Jeremiah, means that in each new day, we see evidence of God’s grace and that there is a possibility of renewal and repentance.


In verse 24, we get to the foundation of everything.  “The Lord is my portion . . . therefore I hope in Him”  In other words, Jeremiah is saying “The Lord is all I have” or “I’m living on God’s grace.”  Psalm 73 says it: 26 My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. Psalm 73:26 (ESV).


Let us must remind ourselves that God’s mercy never ceases.  “Good is the Lord to those who wait for him,” “Good it is that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord,”  31 For the Lord will not cast off forever, 32 but, though he cause grief, he will have compassion according to the abundance of his steadfast love; (Lamentations 3:31–32). Everything is working out perfectly in accordance with God’s loving plan for our lives.  


Suggested prayer:

Loving Lord Jesus, we praise you because righteousness and justice are the foundations of your throne, and that steadfast love and faithfulness go before You. I thank You because Your mercies are unending and they are new every morning. Enable me Lord, to reflect Your love and compassion specially, during this pandemic season. Help me to exalt Your name in everything that I do today. In Jesus name I pray. Amen. 


Thursday Devotion: Seed of Perfect Love

 Devotion 9 Sept, Thursday 

Seed of Perfect Love (1 Peter 1:20-25)


Two things I like to draw your attention to. 


The first thing is the call to love one another fervently with a pure heart. What does this mean? It is difficult to fully comprehend as we all are very limited in loving people. Yet it is clear what Peter is saying, he is pointing us to Jesus, who love fervently (to the point of death on the cross) and with pure heart (100% for us, no selfishness or ulterior motive). In Christ we don't just see it, we experience it ourselves. 


The second thing is the reason why love is expected of us inspite of the fact it 


seems almost impossible for us to achieve.  The reason is simple, it is the seed of the Gospel (of Christ) that we 'live and abide'. I have always take for granted our rice's quality until a padi farmer told me that there are many types of seed for padi. Some are superior breed and others are less. Not only does the superior breed gives better quality rice, it also produces larger quantity.  That is how seed works. Here it tells us that we are born again from the best seed, the Word of God, thus 'fervent love with pure heart' is part of you and I. Jesus's life is produced in you and I. 


Reflection

Do you know this perfect love? Jesus invites you to it.



Is this perfect love of Christ for others growing or even maturing in your life? How it is so? Invite the Holy Spirit into people whom you find difficulty to love, to forgive, to be kind, to be patient... (1 Cor. 13).


Prayer 

Lord, I am so grateful you love me fervently with pure heart.  I know what this kind of love is because you have love me with such. Such love is spelled with the Cross. And no one is called to such love except those born again with the incorruptible seed of the Word of God. And through your Holy Spirit bring forth this fruit of love to maturity so that i can love others as you love me. In Your precious Name. Amen

Thursday, September 9, 2021

Tuesday Devotion - Seed of Perfect Love

Devotion 9 Sept, Thursday 

Seed of Perfect Love (1 Peter 1:20-25)


Two things I like to draw your attention to. 


The first thing is the call to love one another fervently with a pure heart. What does this mean? It is difficult to fully comprehend as we all are very limited in loving people. Yet it is clear what Peter is saying, he is pointing us to Jesus, who love fervently (to the point of death on the cross) and with pure heart (100% for us, no selfishness or ulterior motive). In Christ we don't just see it, we experience it ourselves. 


The second thing is the reason why love is expected of us inspite of the fact it 


seems almost impossible for us to achieve.  The reason is simple, it is the seed of the Gospel (of Christ) that we 'live and abide'. I have always take for granted our rice's quality until a padi farmer told me that there are many types of seed for padi. Some are superior breed and others are less. Not only does the superior breed gives better quality rice, it also produces larger quantity.  That is how seed works. Here it tells us that we are born again from the best seed, the Word of God, thus 'fervent love with pure heart' is part of you and I. Jesus's life is produced in you and I. 


Reflection

Do you know this perfect love? Jesus invites you to it.



Is this perfect love of Christ for others growing or even maturing in your life? How it is so? Invite the Holy Spirit into people whom you find difficulty to love, to forgive, to be kind, to be patient... (1 Cor. 13).


Prayer 

Lord, I am so grateful you love me fervently with pure heart.  I know what this kind of love is because you have love me with such. Such love is spelled with the Cross. And no one is called to such love except those born again with the incorruptible seed of the Word of God. And through your Holy Spirit bring forth this fruit of love to maturity so that i can love others as you love me. In Your precious Name. Amen


Tuesday, September 7, 2021

1 Peter

The New Testament teaches us that the ground of our right relationship with God is the finished work of Christ on our behalf, laid hold of by faith. We are not made right with God or kept right with God by our good conduct or good works. Nonetheless, the New Testament also teaches us that how we conduct ourselves is an important component of the Christian life. We are urged over and over again to ‘walk in a manner worthy of the Lord’ (Col 1:10).

We are called to a distinctive way of living in the world; Peter says believers are to ‘be holy in all your conduct’ (v.15), ‘conduct yourselves with fear’ (v.17), ‘love one another earnestly’ in ‘obedience to the truth’ (v.22).

But even in his explicit attention to conduct, Peter consistently anchors his call for Christian conduct in theological truth. Specifically, he urges us in our conduct to carefully ponder, and then take our cues from, four preexisting, God-anchored realities.

Grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ’ (v.13). Though the fulfillment is yet to come, God has given us the promise of this future grace and he intends that promise to wield influence and to translate into prepared, courageous and sober-minded conduct now.

Second, Peter reminds us of the very character of God. Rather than taking our cues from our ignorant or godless desires, we are to directly model our conduct after God’s holiness.

Third, Peter calls us to a certain conduct based on the inestimable price of our redemption: ‘knowing that you were ransomed...with the precious blood of Christ’ (v. 18-19). Consider Christ’s death on your behalf, Peter tells us, and let that amazing sacrifice shape how you live

Lastly, Peter speaks to us of the very source of our life – ‘since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God’(v.23). Then you should act in a way that reflects this source of life. Both the quality and content of God’s word shapes our conduct. Ultimately, what we need to see is that God is not calling for our obedience in a vacuum but in light of the richness of his goodness to us in the gospel.

Saturday, September 4, 2021

Saturday Devotion: James 5:9-10


Do not grumble against one another 
One month ago, the second wave of covid19 swept through our nation. We were put under a partial lockdown within 2 days for the first reported case. Even in such times of uncertainty and possibly high level of stress, James reminds us not to release our pressure unto those who are around us. He was writing in the context of being patient in the midst of suffering and he tells Christians not to grumble with one another. It is reported in other countries that during the Covid outbreak last year that this can lead to relational conflicts as the restrictions caused us to live closer together with some people and further apart from others. The social distancing measures could have the effect of isolating us from friends and other family members. Some may also be experiencing financial stress brought about by restrictions. 

As Christians, we are called and taught to be endure pressure and to be patient with one another. Ephesians 4:2 tells us to walk in a manner with all humility, gentleness with patience bearing one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. In a highly stressful situation, rather than going against those who are close to us, we are called to be Christlike. We look to Jesus for the perfect example. Jesus was in agony in the Garden of Gethsemane. He was in extreme anguish that his sweat became like drops of blood. What did he do? He prayed to the Father and submitted to His Will. That is what we must do, to turn to God in prayer. Philippians 4 promises us that when we bring our anxiousness and petitions to God, a supernatural peace will come upon us. We turn to God instead of away from God when faced with trials. Even at this time of social distancing, we can reach out in love instead of exhibiting negativity to those around us.

Being patient
A key not to grumble at one another and our circumstances is to remain to be patient. James reminds us to look at the prophets of the Lord who has endured suffering and are real life testimonies for us to follow. Those who know the book of Job knows Job endured all sorts of trials. He lost all his material possessions in a short time and the worse of all, he lost his children as well. From Job’s perspective, he did not know why he was going through all these suffering. Not everything that happens in our lives make sense at that point when we are going through it and we also must accept that some of our questions will never be answered. Just like the old testament prophets, we place our trust in God who is faithful and that we worship a God is who is good. It is okay not to know why we are going through suffering. This is where patience and an enduring faith comes in. We must trust God in this process, in this lockdown and in this pandemic.  Even in such a difficult time, we express the love and grace of God to one another exhibiting the fruit of the spirit (Galatians 5:23).

Prayer:
Lord, help me to trust you and to remain patient through troubled times. Remind me to always show your love and grace to others around me. I need your Holy Spirit to strengthen me and remind myself to lean not on our own understanding but to trust You with all our hearts. Amen. 

I leave with you this song to remind us that God is so good all the time. 


 


Thursday, September 2, 2021

Speak Life Not Slanders

Do not speak evil against one another, brothers. The one who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks evil against the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. There is only one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbor?

James 4:11-12 ESV

 

Have you ever said things that you should not have against a fellow believer? What was the outcome of your words? Did you feel better after speaking those words?

In James 3:1-12, we read that the tongue, though small, has great power and we ought to discipline our tongues because of the evil that sprouts from our mouths. James recognised that much of the evil and sin in the human heart manifests in the words. Hence in chapter 4 verses 11 and 12, James returns to the theme of evil in the form of slandering.

At first glance, it seemed that these verses were speaking about judging people but a careful look will tell us that the emphasis is about "speaking evil against another brother." But how is speaking evil or slandering on others similar to judging others?

It is the attitude that we apply when we speak of people. In the context of James, he was warning that no one assumes that he was more superior than the other, rather they were to be humble before God and submit to him. But when we do not submit to God, we assume the position of judge. Slandering is an act of evil not only because its intent is to harm and hurt others, but because it puts us in a position of power which belongs to God alone.

Slandering comes from an inward attitude of pride that considers others lesser than ourselves. Hence, when someone slanders another, he is making himself a judge - an evil judge. James warns us that such an attitude is evil and an affront to God who is the only Judge - who is holy and righteous.

Friends, did you slander a fellow believer lately? Did you speak evil toward them whether in secret or in public? Jesus said that the evil and sin that comes out of the mouth comes from the heart (Matt. 12:24).

Today, we must learn to submit ourselves to God and be humble before him, recognising that we are no greater than another. In doing so, in our humble state we will not have the attitude of superiority, rather in humility speak life to one another.

May the Holy Spirit help us to be humble before God so that we may speak life and praise. Amen.

Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Do you have a humble heart submitted to God? (James 4: 1-6)

“What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You want something but don’t get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot get what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures. You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world is hatred towards God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. Or do you think Scripture says without reason that the spirit he caused to live in us envies intensely? But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” 

Have you been in a situation when you are with someone and all they want to do is fight? Whenever they are around, there is restlessness and disruption. Have you felt like this yourself, when you are unhappy, discontented and irritable. Nothing you have is enough and nothing that anyone does is right. These kinds of feelings cause strife amongst people. Strife is often accompanied by bitterness and pride. It causes division because the argument and fight over who is “right” takes priority over the value of the relationship. Someone who is determined to cause strife lacks humility and will not allow compromise or consideration of others. We should guard ourselves from becoming someone who wants to spread strife and discord due to the pride and sin in our own heart, because it is clear that God hates people who spread strife (Proverbs 6:16-19). Strife alienates and divides friends and families. Strife destroys unity and it can destroy churches. Strife is also a sign of “friendship with the world”, carnality and our sinful and selfish desires. All these things are clearly against God’s will for us. Allowing strife and sin to dictate our thoughts, behaviour and even our prayer life, will lead us to become enemies of God.  We cannot be driven by sin and our sinful desires, and still serve God. We can try to deceive ourselves that we are “right” and justify our actions, but God will not tolerate any commitment to the enemy. Be careful that you do not become the false disciple who finds that they are not allowed into the Kingdom of Heaven because Jesus has told them, “I never knew you!” (Mathew 7:21-23).  

So how do we fight this battle for our minds? Before we start to tackle this, we must realise that there is a war going on throughout our Christian lives. The devil wants to distract us from God’s purpose to share the gospel and win souls for Christ (Matt 28:19). There is no better distraction that than petty disputes and disagreements. Strife is a highly effective disruptor of churches. It damages relationships in the church and can discourage believers.  Some may leave the faith altogether. It discourages people from joining the church, and causes contempt for the church from people who are watching from the outside. It prevents us from sharing God’s love and His message of hope to the world. James was all too aware of this, and he wanted to warn the church about it.

The key to this passage is having a humble and penitent heart which is fully submitted to God’s will. God gives the humble heart more grace to overcome this battle. The proud heart is unfortunately going to resist God’s truth and risks becoming an unteachable spirit. God’s grace is rejected by the proud heart. However, the humble heart who realizes that they have fallen short and need God’s help, is willing to pray for forgiveness and be thankful for it. Therefore, they will receive it. The conclusion of this scripture is this; the condition of our heart dictates whether or not we receive God’s grace. What is the condition of your heart? 

Suggested Prayer  
Almighty God, help me to examine my heart. I want to have a heart that is open to your teaching and submitted to Your will. Help to remove any root of bitterness or pride from my heart. Help me to be an obedient, faithful, loving and humble Christian, by Your Grace. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.

Saturday, August 28, 2021

Controlling our tongues (James 3:1-10)

3 Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly. 2 We all stumble in many ways. Anyone who is never at fault in what they say is perfect, able to keep their whole body in check.

3 When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. 4 Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. 5 Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. 6 The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.

7 All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and sea creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by mankind, 8 but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.

9 With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness.10 Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be.

James’s words here on taming the tongue come after he exhorts us to express our faith through good deeds in chapter two, and before he moves onto the wisdom of God versus the wisdom of the world and encouraging our submission to God in chapter four.

This word in chapter 3, verse 1 about teachers being judged more strictly reminds me of Jesus words in Matthew 18:6 about avoiding causing children & young Christians to stumble. Jesus loves His disciples and takes their spiritual development very seriously. He still entrusts church teachers as well as pastors and other types of leaders to build up young believers, and to teach with their own good example. He expects teachers to love and care for their congregations. Jesus does not want teachers to be hypocrites, or corrupt. There are however, false teachers at work who exploit, manipulate steal and destroy. These shall face Jesus’ stern judgment unless they repent.

In verse 2 James discusses that we have all been guilty of speaking hurtful, foolish words. We should strive to exercise greater control over what comes out of our mouths.

He reminds us in verses 3 to 8 our words are powerful for good or evil.

Sometimes the problem of hurting people with our words is because we underestimate their power. On the positive side when we encourage someone, we can be surprised by their positive reaction. It is too easy to underestimate the power of the spoken word. We should harness the power of the tongue carefully.

Verse 9 challenges all Christians:

9 With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness.10 Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be.

Wow, what a challenge. Sometimes Scripture can just convict us of our hypocrisy. In 1 John 4:20 John tells us we are liars if we claim to love God but do not love our brothers and sisters. We need to learn to express the love of Christ in our words as well as our actions.

Suggested prayer: Father God we pray for the strength and power to live a Spirit-filled life. May the words of our mouths and the meditation of our hearts be pleasing in Your sight. May we do good to those around us and especially to those who belong to the family of believers. May we express our love for You as we love those You have placed around us. In Jesus Name. Amen.


Thursday, August 26, 2021

 

Thursday devotion dated 26th August 2021

Topic: Kingdom People

Text James 2 :1-13

In our Today’s daily reading, the Writer of this book talk about favoritism in Church and at the same time he talks about how God sees the favoritism and as a kingdom people how God is expecting us to treat people among us.

We all are belongs to His Kingdom

 In the Gospels we read that Jesus built his kingdom with power; he healed the sick, raised the dead, gave prophetic insights, fed thousands of people miraculously, and set captives free. Living a ‘kingdom life’ means we live every day with a sense of urgency, a sense that the Kingdom of God is advancing. In Luke 10 we read of when Jesus sent out the 72. He told them to heal the sick and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’ The 72 went, saw amazing things and returned with joy because of what they did in his name.  Likewise, the Kingdom is close to us, it is around us, and it is advancing.

There are no Differences

Even though we come from different background and belongs to different races, yet the bible says we all are one Bible says we are One Body of Christ and Jesus is the head of this Body (1 Corinthians 12:12-27). In his kingdom, there is no rich or poor. Hasn’t God chosen the poor in this world to be rich in faith? Aren’t they the ones who will inherit the Kingdom he promised to those who love him? (James 2:5) We all are called to inherit the Kingdom of God, and it is for people those who love God.

We are called to love each other. During this time of pandemic, let's take time to reflect on caring and loving each other. Let us pray for one another without any differences. And let us be a Kingdom People in this nation.

 

Stay Safe

May the Lord bless you all.

Tuesday, August 24, 2021

Do Not Blame God (James 1:13-15)

How often does God get blamed for bad things that happened? On the other hand, when good things happened, did He get all the credit? Some people are quick and fast to push the blame onto someone else (even onto God) when any major disaster strikes. For example, with the current covid pandemic that started in Dec 2019. After 20 months, this covid virus is not beaten yet but rather it continues to rage through many countries worldwide causing a lot of strain on different countries’ economy and affecting people’s livelihood. How many people has blamed God for allowing this to happen? This is the same when we go through trials and temptations, we questioned God and asked Him, “Why? Why me?” We have a tendency to put the blame on God when we go through difficulties.

In today’s bible reading passage, James is telling us not to blame God when we go through any temptation. James 1:13 – “When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.”” Why? Simply because God cannot be tempted and nor does He tempt anyone. But He does allow us to be tempted to test our faith. He can use trials and temptations to push us along in our spiritual walk with Him. God is holy and righteous. He is one with no sin. Because He is holy, He does not do anything that is unholy or sinful. By His very nature, He is not able to do that. It is bad to sin, but it is much worse, when it is our own fault that we fell to sin, to charge that upon God and say that it’s because of Him, and put the blame on Him. In the book of Job, God allowed satan to test Job, who was a God-fearing man, one who was blameless and upright. But did Job blame God for all the sufferings that he went through? No, he remained faithful to God and in the end, God restored back to him everything he lost, more than double fold.

If God does not tempt us, where then does temptation comes from? James 1:14 tells us that “each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed.” Temptation comes when we are drawn away by our own fleshly desires and lured to do sinful things, with the world (and satan) providing the enticement. When we failed to recognize that we are drawn away by our own fleshly desires, the next verse (James 1:15) states the consequences, which is “desire gives birth to sin, and sin gives birth to death.” Satan would always try to convince us that the pursuit of our corrupt desires will not result in death, but will somehow produce life and goodness for us. Of course, this is totally not true at all. Because in Romans 6:23, Paul already mentioned that “the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Therefore, let us not be deceived but rather be wise and remember that “satan comes only to steal and kill and destroy” (John 10:10).

Prayer –

Lord Jesus, we confess that on our own strength, we are not able to resist temptations. We need you. Please help us and guide us through every trial and temptation of life. Protect us from the evils of this world and keep us safe in your care. 

In Jesus’ name. Amen

Saturday, August 21, 2021

Hebrews 13: 17 – 25

Exhortations

If you have been following the devotions you will know the first twelve chapters, we have been told, again and again, that we live in the new covenant. Jesus is once for all. His sacrifice, His priesthood, His suffering and death is once for all: once for all men, all sin, all time! No other sacrifice is needed. Chapter 13 starts a whole new section where we Learn about how you and I need to respond.

We are being watched. We are being watched by God, of course, of how we live for Jesus. And, the world is watching us too.

This week the author will reiterate the requirement for believers to have confidence in their church's leaders (v. 17), always submitting to their authority. It is God who ordains the leaders of the church. Hebrews doesn’t say, "Obey when it seems good to you"? it mentions no qualifications; it just says obey and submit. This is part of God's chain of command within the church. On the other hand, it is also mentions that leaders should have (Vs 19 )a clear conscience and desire to live honorably in every way.

Essentially, during the pandemic, let us appreciate the instructions that come from the church, support and encourage each other in worship and in doing good. Because it is our duty to God to obey, for Christ rules us through them.

Benediction

At this epistle's end, we find the author’s pastoral benediction. The author in his final words, gives a summarized doctrinal position of his "Hebrews" letter: (1) God is a God of peace; (2) God raised Jesus from the dead; (3) Jesus was "that great Shepherd of the sheep" made possible by the "blood of the eternal covenant"; and (4) therefore, may Jesus "equip you with everything good for doing his will.” (13:20-21).

The lesson is readily apparent to anyone who understands the gospel of God’s grace. As sinners, we're helpless before him. Our only hope comes from a Savior. We need to depend on Christ, the great Shepherd of His sheep (v. 20). What a confidence we have in Jesus! He is the God who has sealed an ‘everlasting covenant’ with us, by the blood of the Shepherd. And, He works within us.

The idea that God "works (equipping us) in us" is the key to understanding our life experiences. Some events in life are unhappy, but that doesn't mean they have no purpose. There is a reason, though we may not know it now. And all the glory for the equipping and the working goes to Jesus Christ. When all else may slip away, hold tight to the God of peace, the Great Shepherd and live for the glory of Jesus Christ.

Suggested prayer

Lord, thank You for equipping us for every good work according to Your greatness. May our actions be pleasing to You. Help us to use our time rightly in doing the works that glorify You. In all things, may we give you the honor You are due. We pray this in the powerful and personal name of Jesus. Amen.

Thursday, August 19, 2021

Thursday Devotion: Loving and Hating Correctly (Hebrews 13:1-6)

 Hebrews 13:1-6 has to 2 connections.

1. Loving and hating. It calls us to love correctly and hate correctly.

Ÿ Love fellow believers as brothers and sisters in Christ. 

Ÿ Love the strangers by caring for them.

Ÿ Love the prisoners (those who are mistreated) by remembering them.

Ÿ Love your spouse with sexual purity. 

Ÿ Hate sexual sins completely and stay far away from them. 

Ÿ Love contentment (know God loves you and takes care of you).

Ÿ Hate covetousness (greed) and never love money wrongly (idolatry).


2. Both the grace of God and the fear of God are the foundation to loving and hating correctly as in Hebrews 12:28-29.

"Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear. For our God is a consuming fire." 

The grace of God and the fear of God  are never opposing, liken to the two sides of the coin. Where there is proper understanding of grace, it manifests in  healthy fear of God. And the end result is loving correctly and hating correctly.  And without them we love and hate wrongly, and hurt others and destroy ourselves

Prayer

Lord, I need you to help me because I tend to love what you hate and hate what you love. Pour your grace and fear of you in my heart over and over again so that I love what you love and hate what you hate, that my heart be aligned to yours. In your mercy, hear our prayer. Amen


Tuesday, August 17, 2021

Where do you look in times of trouble? (Hebrew 12)

We all know what trouble feels or looks like. Whether it’s because of the struggle from our own sins or the sins of others against us, or from living in a world stained with tears, shame or hurt; no one really escapes from suffering. Trouble is painful and often, the pain becomes so intense that it is all we see or talk about. Have you ever been there yourself?

In the midst of all the pain, we may begin to wonder whether God has stopped loving us – and that thought in itself brings the greatest pain. After all, if God really did love us, he wouldn’t allow us to suffer, would he?

In Hebrews 12, the author directs us to look away from our troubles and doubt it creates and to look up to “Jesus, the founder and perfector of our faith” (Heb 12:2). He has already done everything necessary for the father to welcome us as his own. With this, we can confidently believe that he continues to love us – even amid our troubles.

When we look to Jesus, what do we see? A Savior who knows by experience everything there is to know about suffering. Jesus, the founder of our salvation, was made “perfect through suffering” (2:10). The Sinless one, who never did anything that needed correction, suffered on our behalf throughout his entire life, and most particularly when he bore all of God’s wrath for all our sin on Calvary.

Whatever you’re facing today, if you’re a believer, you can be assured of this: You are not being punished for sin. No, Jesus bore all of God’s wrath for all your sin (1 John 4:10). Your suffering may indeed be part of God’s kind discipline, or he may be teaching you more about his ability to satisfy you, or more about how his love can sustain you in trouble. But one thing is certain: He hasn’t stopped loving you. In fact, His discipline is proof of His love for you (Heb 12:8). Look to your Savior. He knows and loves you.