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.