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.


Sunday, August 15, 2021

Living Wisely (In Difficult Time - Ephesians 5:15 - 20)

 Good evening.

Apologies for the late post. However, if you missed the service, here is the link to the recording of the live service. May you be blessed and encouraged today.

Thank you for joining us. Please stay safe. 

God bless you.



Saturday, August 14, 2021

Hebrews 12:1 - 2

The author of Hebrews refers to our Christian faith as a race. We are to run with endurance and perseverance. Anyone who has done medium to long distance running will automatically understand what this means. There will be moments in the run where we want to give up but we press on because our focus is on the finish line. Our focus is to finish the race. In fact, anyone who has come through any difficulties in life will know what it means to endure and persevere through the pain. 

Remove distractions

Just as a runner removes items that are unnecessary in a race because it will be a distraction because even a gram of extra weight can be distracting. Imagine running a race with jeans and a jacket. You will be too busy thinking about how uncomfortable the jeans are and how hot the jacket is making you feel.  We need to remove it altogether. We are called to throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles our walk with God. In today’s culture, there are so many things that can hinder our walk with God: Addiction to social media, computers and phones for example. These things are useful but excessive use can negatively affect our walk with God. What sin is there in your life that is weighing you down? Sin can keep us from running an effective race for God. How can we give everything to God when we are held back or distracted by these issues? Any kind of sin must be dealt with and surrendered to God. The warning in this passage is that sin can easily entangle us. We do not want to be caught in a mess and regret our actions later on. All it took was a moment of weakness from David to become an adulterer. Let’s learn from the mistakes of the past and progress in our faith.

Progressing in our faith

Whether you realise it or not we are in the middle of a race. Why does the author of Hebrew describe our faith as a race and so did Paul in 2 Timothy. Because our Christian faith should or must move forward. We must progress in our faith and this means we must grow deeper in our relationship with God.  We will not do well in a race if we do not train.  In sports, when we train, we also train to focus on something to keep going. When you train for a race, you focus on the next water station and the next and ultimately you train to cross the finish line. When we train, our faith will only get stronger and more resilient. This is the same for our journey with God, we may get hit with struggles and trials, but refocus on Jesus. This means that whatever comes our way and even with our partial lockdown, we will have faith that He is with us and He has a plan through all this. This is just a temporary setback. A temporary storm. Every storm shall pass. We trust that His ways are higher than ours and always better even if we do not understand what is happening right this moment. You begin to realize that with Jesus on your side there is nothing that you can’t face. Even Peter could walk on water when he fixed his eyes on Jesus. We can overcome anything, even this current pandemic, when our focus is on Jesus, the author and perfector of our faith.

Prayer

Lord, we thank you for Jesus who is our savior and our king. We know you are with us even through this difficult time.  Just as you were with the disciples in the storm, we know you are with us and this nation right now. Teach us to look to you even when there are so many things going on, so much noise. Help us to refocus and recentre our lives to you. We know all things will work out for good for those who love Him. We praise your Holy name and we declare our faith in you today and in our tomorrows. Amen.


Thursday, August 12, 2021

Psalm 120:1 - 2, 6 - 7

I call on the Lord in my distress, and he answers me.

Save me, Lord from lying lips and from deceitful tongues…

… Too long have I lived among those who hate peace.

I am for peace; but when I speak, they are for war. (NIV)

 

Have you every been confronted for hypocrisy? What did you feel and how did you respond to it?

Many years ago on a mission trip, I was asked by one of the leaders who came with me what I thought about my country. This was a trigger topic and so I started ranting and complaining about the poor administration, the apparent discriminations and lack of freedom. At the end of these rants, the leader looked me in the eye with sadness and said, “You better repent! You are a Christian leader and ought to love your neighbours. How is it that you hate the country that the Lord has placed you in?”

Being confront by truth (in love) was never comfortable especially when it revealed my deep-rooted hypocrisy. I have professed my love for God and people often, but when I was asked about my country, all I had to say were hurtful, bitter and resentful words. Oh, how the Holy Spirit rebuked me that day and all I could say was: Save me, Lord from lying lips and from deceitful tongues.

The Psalms today is a prayer of repentance and for deliverance. The Psalmist came to realize of his own hypocrisy and out of his deep distress called out to God for deliverance from the pending wrath. He recognizes that “God opposes the proud and gives grace to the humble” (Pro. 3:34; Ja. 4:6), and so implores to God for mercy in a form of deliverance from “lying lips and deceitful tongues.” He sought for divine help for a personal transformation (reformation). He also recognized that he had been among people who hated peace, though himself was for peace, all he had to say from his heart was war and violence. Jesus did say that “out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks” (Mat. 12:34; Pro. 10:11). Thus, it was his words that revealed his hypocrisies; and it is our words that will reveal ours.

Perhaps the Lord is reminding you of your hypocrisies. Perhaps, while you spoke to others about forgiving others you are harbouring unforgiveness in your heart. Or you have been telling people not be judgmental but you are secretly despising a fellow believer. Today, we can learn from the Psalm by turning to God in sincere repentance. Let us confess our hypocrisies and seek the Holy Spirit to bring transformation in our lives that will glorify the Father!

I pray that we will be saved from our hypocrisies. The Lord be with you.

(Take time to journal and pray on what the Holy Spirit may be revealing to you through today’s devotion.)

Tuesday, August 10, 2021

Tuesday Devotion, 10th August 2021

Hebrews 11:8-16


Believing in God’s Promised Land


In Hebrews chapter 11 the writer first describes what faith is (v 1-4). From verse 5 onwards, he gives examples of people who have shown great faith in their lives, in order to provide us with examples of how to live by faith. Verses 8 to 16 describe Abraham and Sarah’s faith in God’s promises. The details of the story are described in Genesis 12. Abram was called by the Lord to leave his land and his family to travel to an unknown place that God promised to give to him and to his descendants. Abram obeyed God and took his wife Sara, and his nephew Lot. He should not have taken Lot because he was commanded to leave his family, and he and Sara made some serious mistakes along the way which led to serious consequences that you can read about in Genesis chapters 13 to 16.


Nevertheless, God was merciful to Abraham and kept his promises to him. He made a covenant with Abram to make him the father of many nations, and He renamed them Abraham and Sarah. By faith Abraham made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents like Isaac (his son) and Jacob (his grandson). For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God (v8-9). In a sense, all Christians live like strangers in a foreign land because although we are in this world, we are not of the world because we belong to God’s kingdom which is our eternal promised home. God’s city with foundations is our eternal home that is securely established by God. 


Our focus should be on God, because our future belongs to Him. Abraham and Sarah held onto God’s promise that they would have a son and an eternal home sometime in the future. They had to wait many decades for their son Isaac, and they never saw the promised land during their lifetime. God told Abraham that for four hundred years his descendants would be strangers in a country not their own and they would be enslaved and mistreated there, but God would punish the nation they served as slaves and afterwards they would come out with great possessions (Genesis 15:12-14). This was a long time to remain faithful for.Abraham and Sarah have provided us with an excellent lesson in faith. Hold on firmly to God’s promises and keep walking in faith for however long it takes, until you have finished the journey and arrived in the promised land. Abraham and Sarah, did not receive the things promised in their lifetime. However, they saw them in faith and welcomed them from afar, admitting that they were foreigners on earth (v13). If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return (v15). 


This reminds me of the hymn that says, “I have decided to follow Jesus, no turning back, no turning back. The cross before me, the world behind me, no turning back, no turning back.” Once we have taken up the cross and made the decision to follow Christ, there is no turning back. We have to keep going in faith and keep our trust in God’s promises and in His wisdom. It is up to Him how he chooses to fulfill His promises, but He will do what he says he will do.


The cornerstone of our faith is that we are saved by Jesus’ resurrection. For God so loved the world that He gave His only son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16). If we do not trust God’s promises, we are essentially making Him out to be an unreliable liar! Therefore, we must stay on guard and keep our faith in Him strong, because we know that our promised land is a heavenly country that God has prepared for us. Then God will not be ashamed to be called our God (v16). He will be delighted to welcome us home when our time comes.


Our country has just entered another time of social restrictions in the midst of a second COVID-19 infection wave. It can feel like we are living in a frightening and strange land when we are facing a pandemic. We will not be able to meet others as we would like to. It is likely that we will have to deal with this for some time. We need to make sure that we stay firm in our faith and continue to study the Word and to pray. We should keep encouraging each other in our walk with God. I pray that we will be able to hold onto God’s promises and remain faithful to Him throughout. 


Suggested Prayer

Almighty God, thank you for your word that has shown me how to live by faith. Thank you for your 

encouragement and wisdom. Thank you for Your faithfulness. Thank you for preparing an eternal home for me where I can live in Your presence, in fellowship with others who have also remained faithful to You. I am so grateful Lord for your love. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

Saturday, August 7, 2021

Saturday Devotion, 7th August 2021

 Saturday Devotion, 7th August 2021.


Hebrews 11:1-4 Live by faith

11 Now faith is the [a]substance of things hoped for, the [b]evidence of things not seen. 2 For by it the elders obtained a good testimony.

3 By faith we understand that the [c]worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible.

4 By faith Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts; and through it he being dead still speaks.


Hebrews chapter 11 is about faith. Just a few verses before our passage, the writer to the Hebrews quotes God Himself in chapter 10 verse 38:


“But my righteous one will live by faith. And I take no pleasure in the one who shrinks back.”


We are made right with God when we put our faith in Him to cleanse us of our sins, to save us from hell and enable us to enter heaven when we die. But God wants more than that. He does not wish us only to die with faith. He wants us to “live by faith”.


What is faith?

Verse one informs us it is the “substance of things hoped for”. Faith is believing and trusting in God and His promises in the Bible.


What things by faith are we hoping for?

There are many things for the Christian to hope for with the substance of faith. This includes our salvation. This shall occur when God shall take our spirit and bring us to Himself in heaven. Heaven is where there shall be no more pain, or tears, or suffering or death or illness. Heaven shall be a place of perfection, of perfect fellowship with others, with Jesus, our Heavenly Father and the Holy Spirit. 


God also, wants us to live by faith today, not just at the end of our lives. He pours out His Holy Spirit in our lives to teach us and equip us. He also wants to give us revelation and power to access the mind of Christ. Our future hope in heaven and fellowship with the Holy Spirit, today, should enable us to live by faith. 


Notice the emphasis on “should.” Even in Hebrews chapter 10 just before today’s passage, the author indicates we can choose to live by faith or not. 

Living by faith is when we pray, worship, intercede and offer supplication. We are living by faith when we allow God to speak with us and instruct us, leading to our obedience with his plan. We require faith to obey, to please God. We also need faith to enable our trust in God. We need this trust as God may ask us to do things for which He has already equipped us for. He may in addition, also even instruct us to do things that we are not comfortable with. We may feel uncomfortable because we believe we need more resources than we ourselves possess to succeed. 


God called Abraham to another country, leading him out of what we now call the country of Iraq, to lead him to “a promised land”. (See chapter 11 verses 8-9). Ananias did not want in the book of Acts chapter 9 verses 9 to 16 to go meet and pray for Paul. He was likely concerned for his safety as he was aware of the potential for violent opposition from him. The faith and obedience of Ananias leading to Saul’s conversion brought about a great victory for the church!


Living by faith means sometimes being willing to let God take us out of our comfort zone. 


Our challenge today is to combine faith in Christ with obedience, like the heroes of Hebrews chapter 11. It is one thing to hear God speak to us, but we also need to express our faith in actions.  God is pleased with us when we are obedient.


Examples consistent with faith and obedience in action include loving people. We can do this by caring for them with our actions. We also love people by telling others of the goodness of God in our lives.


Suggested prayer: Dear Father God, please help us to find out what pleases you, how we should live by faith, and to be fully obedient to your word. May Your Kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven. May we have the mind of Christ to faithfully practice your priorities in our lives. In Jesus Name. Amen.

Thursday, August 5, 2021

Believe in Jesus (Hebrews 10:26 - 31)

26 If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, 27 but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God. 28 Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. 29 How much more severely do you think someone deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified them, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace? 30 For we know him who said, “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” and again, “The Lord will judge his people.” 31 It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

 

When I read this passage the Question that comes to my mind when is God angry?

Sin is what God is angry about. It means that he has made a provision for escaping from his anger, the sacrifice of his Son in the place of sinners. The love of God provides escape from the wrath of God by sacrificing the Son of God to manifest the glory of God in forgiving sinners. That's the gospel. The Gospel of Jesus Christ - the essence of Christianity - makes no sense at all apart from the wrath of God. If there is no wrath and no judgment to escape, then Christ was sacrificed in vain.

17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. 19 This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.  John 3:17-19

But he did not die in vain. He died so that you and I and anyone who believes on him might be saved from the wrath of God and have everlasting life. So, neither his love, nor his wrath are the whole story of what God is like. He is both, and they are not coordinate - they are not of identical importance - because he has made a way for sinners to escape his wrath and enjoy his love. His glory shines most brightly not in the fire of his wrath, but in the bright, warm, peaceful breezes of his love above an infinitely deserved destruction.

The Son of God has laid his life down for you to receive as your substitute. You have come under the sway of many sanctifying influences. Do not trample the Son of God or make light of his blood or insult the Spirit of grace that is blowing over your soul even now.

Believe in Jesus live in Grace and continue to ask the help of the holy spirit if you struggle with sin in your life

Amen.

Tuesday, August 3, 2021

Hebrews 10:11 - 18

This passage talks about how the sacrifice of Jesus both sanctifies us and is completely sufficient for us as well.

His sacrifice sanctifies us. The writer teaches his audience some truths concerning the differences between the earthly priests and God’s holy priest, Jesus. He relates that “Day after day every priest stands and performs his religious duties; again and again he offers the same sacrifices”! And in fact no matter how many times the priest stood and did the same sacrifice repeatedly, it “can never take away sins”! However, “when this priest (Jesus) had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God.” Jesus did not have to stand and then offer himself repeatedly, as his earthly counterparts had to do! How marvelous to learn that one can depend upon the work of Jesus “once for all”! Interestingly, the writer then ominously makes reference to the fact that “Since that time” of his sacrifice, Jesus “waits for his enemies to be made his footstool.” Notice that Hebrews is referring back to the prophetic writing of David in Psalm 110. Paul would say that our ultimate “enemy” death would be subject to Jesus: “For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death.” (1 Corinthians 15:25-26 ) To kneel at someone’s feet, to be a footstool is a symbol of complete defeat for the enemy, complete mastery for the victor.

“But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Corinthians 15:56-57) Jesus also said, “Because I live, you also will live.” (John 14:19) and because of that, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.” (Hebrews 10:10 ) how wonderful to know that His sacrifice sanctifies us!

His sacrifice is sufficient Jesus told his disciples that the Holy Spirit would come and “he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment… and guide you in all truth” (John 16:8, 13) This is why the author of Hebrews would tell his listeners, “The Holy Spirit also testifies to us about this.” The Holy Spirit testifies to the fact that “by one sacrifice He has made we are all made perfect! (v. 14)

The sacrifice of Jesus ended our enmity, our hostility, with God because of our wickedness, our sin. Yet, because of the sufficiency of Jesus’ sacrifice, we are completely and utterly forgiven! Hebrews reminds us this morning because of this forgiveness on the cross, there is no longer any sacrifice for sin! The reason is simple: the sacrifice on the cross is more than sufficient for us!

The cross was not an accident or an unforeseen tragedy that took Jesus by surprise. It was not a temporary setback that God figured out how to turn for good. Rather, the cross was God’s predetermined plan, before the beginning of time, to deal with our sin.

Nevertheless, God has never been only interested in a sacrifice.  That sacrifice had to be coupled with a repentant heart to be effective. There is no salvation for any human being apart from Jesus. And the first step is to go back to Jesus, acknowledge His forgiveness with a heart of repentance.

Self-reflection: 

                What does it mean to have your sins forgiven?

Suggested Prayer:

Dear God,

I want to turn around and head back to You Lord, because I’m reminded of your cross and the great sacrifice. I believe that Your mercy and grace is a gift to me because of Your great love, not based on anything I have done. Cleanse me and make me Your child again. By faith I receive You into my heart as the Son of God and surrender to you as the Lord of my life.  In your name I ask. Amen

 

Sunday, August 1, 2021

Lens of Life

Good afternoon, church!

Let me ask you this question - How to you see life? What lens do you use? Today sermon touched on the lens you and I must trained to have. Have a blessed Sunday, church! Stay safe. God bless. ------------------------- Stay connected: Facebook Account: https://www.facebook.com/st.andrews.parish.bsb/ Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/standrewschurchbsb Website: sacbrunei.org WhatsApp: +673 820 6850
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