Monthly Archives: August 2018

31 August 2018 – Acts 23:12-22 (NIV)

Scripture

22 The commander dismissed the young man with this warning: “Don’t tell anyone that you have reported this to me.”

Reflection

From Paul’s perspective, he is obviously tiring of this ridiculous charade between the Jews and Christians and it seems he is ready to move on from this. Church and politics have never been a good mixture. There always seem to be too much of politics and not enough of church, or too much jockeying around for positions of authority and power and no actual ministry being done. I love what Revelation 7:10 says about this, “Salvation belongs to our God…” Let this be a lesson that whatever denomination you are, whatever evangelical Christian background you have, that the salvation of souls belong to God and no one else. Whatever credit people or groups try to get from it all is just glory stealing. Sidenote: I wonder whatever happened to those men who swore a hunger oath to kill Paul? They obviously didn’t achieve their objective. Did they actually keep their word and starve themselves to death? (Josh).

Thoughts for the day

  • What do you feel God is telling you through this passage?
  • What is one way you can apply this truth to your life today?
  • Who can you encourage with this story/message?

Prayer

Think of someone you know who could use a little joy in their lives and pray for presence of the Lord to rest on them. “In His presence there is fullness of Joy” Psalm 16:11

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By |2018-08-23T12:58:17+08:00August 31st, 2018|Week 4|0 Comments

30 August 2018 – Acts 23:11 (NIV)

Scripture

11 The following night the Lord stood near Paul and said, “Take courage! As you have testified about me in Jerusalem, so you must also testify in Rome.”

Reflection

We can only imagine what must have been going on in the mind and the heart of Paul. It’s not like he has lived a “pampered” life since becoming a Christian but this was at another level. He was nearly killed violently three times in the space of two days! If he ever needed assurance, it was now. Jesus speaks to Paul the same thing he said to his friends on a storm tossed boat, “take courage” (Mark 6:50). It was a confirmation that Paul was going in the right direction, God had already said he would be a witness for the gospel in Rome and indeed his course was set. Notice that Jesus did not say Paul was going to have the opportunity to defend himself but to witness for the gospel; there is a difference (Ps. Dale).

Thoughts for the day

  • What do you feel God is telling you through this passage?
  • What is one way you can apply this truth to your life today?
  • Who can you encourage with this story/message?

Prayer

Pray for somewhere in the world that needs God’s attention. Flick to a news app or website, and pick a news story to pray for.

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By |2018-08-23T12:53:18+08:00August 30th, 2018|Week 4|0 Comments

29 August 2018 – Acts 23:6-10 (NIV)

Scripture

Then Paul, knowing that some of them were Sadducees and the others Pharisees, called out in the Sanhedrin, “My brothers, I am a Pharisee, descended from Pharisees. I stand on trial because of the hope of the resurrection of the dead.” When he said this, a dispute broke out between the Pharisees and the Sadducees, and the assembly was divided. (The Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, and that there are neither angels nor spirits, but the Pharisees believe all these things.)

There was a great uproar, and some of the teachers of the law who were Pharisees stood up and argued vigorously. “We find nothing wrong with this man,” they said. “What if a spirit or an angel has spoken to him?” 10 The dispute became so violent that the commander was afraid Paul would be torn to pieces by them. He ordered the troops to go down and take him away from them by force and bring him into the barracks.

Reflection

The Sanhedrin was both a political and religious governing body consisting of primarily two parties, Sadducees and Pharisees. As Paul stood before this council to explain what really happened on the day of the riot in the temple, he explains, “This is all about my belief in the resurrection”. This statement sets off a firestorm in the court because the Sadducees did not believe in resurrection or life after death and Pharisees did; keeping in mind they were all Jews. Paul says the one thing that was sure to divide the room! Paul and Luke (who is writing all of this down) want us to see that Christianity is not opposed to Jewish faith but the fulfillment of Jewish faith; we are closer than we know (Ps. Dale).

Thoughts for the day

  • What do you feel God is telling you through this passage?
  • What is one way you can apply this truth to your life today?
  • Who can you encourage with this story/message?

Prayer

Pray for someone you may know who is need of physical healing.

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By |2018-08-23T12:48:51+08:00August 29th, 2018|Week 4|0 Comments

28 August 2018 – Acts 23:1-5 (NIV)

Scripture

Paul looked straight at the Sanhedrin and said, “My brothers, I have fulfilled my duty to God in all good conscience to this day.” At this the high priest Ananias ordered those standing near Paul to strike him on the mouth. Then Paul said to him, “God will strike you, you whitewashed wall! You sit there to judge me according to the law, yet you yourself violate the law by commanding that I be struck!”

Those who were standing near Paul said, “How dare you insult God’s high priest!”

Paul replied, “Brothers, I did not realize that he was the high priest; for it is written: ‘Do not speak evil about the ruler of your people.’”

Reflection

In these couple of verses Paul is highlighting yet another hypocritical element that seems to be a theme amongst the religious governing bodies. In verse 3 Paul is accusing Ananias of being a hypocrite. The whitewashed wall is referring to the high priest’s flawed character (he possessed this position through bribery and corruption). We see a similar reference in Matt. 23:7 when Jesus compared the Pharisees to whited sepulchers. This reference illustrate underneath the whitewashed surface, lays a mud-wall filled with trash and dirt. In addition, we also read in verse 4 that Paul’s claim of not knowing who Ananias was, is highly unlikely, since he spent 7 days prior to this incident in the temple. Scholars posit the reason why Paul justified his behavior was for the benefit of the weaker believers watching. Note that Paul wasn’t apologizing to Ananias, but to the brethren. During all this discrimination, Paul still placed the true believers’ salvation first (Con).

Thoughts for the day

  • What do you feel God is telling you through this passage?
  • What is one way you can apply this truth to your life today?
  • Who can you encourage with this story/message?

Prayer

Pray for these organizations who are helping people in need: Home Sweet Home, Renewal Center and Sonflowers

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By |2018-08-23T12:31:28+08:00August 28th, 2018|Week 4|0 Comments

27 August 2018 – Acts 22:23-29 (NIV)

Scripture

23 As they were shouting and throwing off their cloaks and flinging dust into the air, 24 the commander ordered that Paul be taken into the barracks. He directed that he be flogged and interrogated in order to find out why the people were shouting at him like this. 25 As they stretched him out to flog him, Paul said to the centurion standing there, “Is it legal for you to flog a Roman citizen who hasn’t even been found guilty?”

26 When the centurion heard this, he went to the commander and reported it. “What are you going to do?” he asked. “This man is a Roman citizen.”

27 The commander went to Paul and asked, “Tell me, are you a Roman citizen?”

“Yes, I am,” he answered.

28 Then the commander said, “I had to pay a lot of money for my citizenship.”

“But I was born a citizen,” Paul replied.

29 Those who were about to interrogate him withdrew immediately. The commander himself was alarmed when he realized that he had put Paul, a Roman citizen, in chains.

Reflection

In these couple of verses, we read how the centurion judged Paul based on his ethnicity and gossip. The centurion was under the impression Paul was a vagabond Egyptian who started a revolt which resulted in leading 4000 terrorists out into the wilderness (Acts 21:37). However it wasn’t soon after that the centurion learned Paul possessed a greater status that the centurion – since his was only bought whereas Paul’s citizenship was freeborn. This is a great example of not to judge a book by its cover and or where they come from. We can also learn from Paul, how to react when we are misjudged. Paul, didn’t react in anger or in any retaliatory measure that was available to him as a freeborn citizen (Con).

Thoughts for the day

  • How quickly do you judge a person based on their appearance and or culture?
  • How do you react when people have judged you unfairly?
  • What do you feel God is telling you through this passage?
  • What is one way you can apply this truth to your life today?
  • Who can you encourage with this story/message?

Prayer

Stop and pray for someone who is near to you right now, someone you can see.

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By |2018-08-23T10:41:31+08:00August 27th, 2018|Week 4|0 Comments

24 August 2018 – Acts 22: 21-22 (NIV)

Scripture

21 “Then the Lord said to me, ‘Go; I will send you far away to the Gentiles.’ 22 The crowd listened to Paul until he said this. Then they raised their voices and shouted, “Rid the earth of him! He’s not fit to live!”

Reflection

To cease every opportunity. As Paul is led to prison, he boldly steps out to share his testimony to an angry crowd. As he recounts his encounter with Jesus and mentions how far he was from “The Way” to the point of persecuting those who he now associates with, you see his eagerness to proclaim God’s truth. How eager and bold are we when, even in the midst of unfavorable circumstances, we are given an opportunity to share the reason why we believe in Jesus, with the hope that as people listen they will believe? Take some time this weekend to think of your own conversion. 1 Peter 3:15a  “But 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. (…) (Su).

Thoughts for the day

  • What do you feel God is telling you through this passage?
  • What is one way you can apply this truth to your life today?
  • Who can you encourage with this story/message?

Prayer

Ask the Holy Spirit to show you an opportunity to rest. Write it down in your diary or phone and spend that time with God.

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By |2018-08-16T10:10:00+08:00August 24th, 2018|Week 3|0 Comments

23 August 2018 – Acts 21:31-36 (NIV)

Scripture

31 While they were trying to kill him, news reached the commander of the Roman troops that the whole city of Jerusalem was in an uproar. 32 He at once took some officers and soldiers and ran down to the crowd. When the rioters saw the commander and his soldiers, they stopped beating Paul.

33 The commander came up and arrested him and ordered him to be bound with two chains. Then he asked who he was and what he had done. 34 Some in the crowd shouted one thing and some another, and since the commander could not get at the truth because of the uproar, he ordered that Paul be taken into the barracks. 35 When Paul reached the steps, the violence of the mob was so great he had to be carried by the soldiers. 36 The crowd that followed kept shouting, “Get rid of him!”

Reflection

In these verses we see how the Jewish people attempted to kill Paul by beating him. In their minds they considered Paul as a traitor and rebel. Yet through their wicked ways they condemned Paul for drawing people from eh temple, and yet, when Paul himself was devoutly worshipping in the temple, they drew him out of it. We also see their actions in verse 32 reveals their hypocrisy and knowledge of doing wrong, since the Jews knew they would not be able to rightly justify killing Paul and this is echoed in verse 34 when the commander couldn’t get the truth out of them. Often we justify our own behaviors, even if we know deep down what we’re doing is not right in God’s eyes (Con).

Thoughts for the day

  • How easily do you justify a ‘right’ behavior when in actual fact, when asked about your actions, you won’t be able to really defend it?
  • What do you feel God is telling you through this passage?
  • What is one way you can apply this truth to your life today?
  • Who can you encourage with this story/message?

Prayer

Pray for the spiritually lost among the global community in Shanghai; pray that they will be drawn to God by the Holy Spirit.

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By |2018-08-16T10:05:14+08:00August 23rd, 2018|Week 3|0 Comments

22 August 2018 – Acts 21:27-30 (NIV)

Scripture

27 When the seven days were nearly over, some Jews from the province of Asia saw Paul at the temple. They stirred up the whole crowd and seized him, 28 shouting, “Fellow Israelites, help us! This is the man who teaches everyone everywhere against our people and our law and this place. And besides, he has brought Greeks into the temple and defiled this holy place.” 29 (They had previously seen Trophimus the Ephesian in the city with Paul and assumed that Paul had brought him into the temple.)

30 The whole city was aroused, and the people came running from all directions. Seizing Paul, they dragged him from the temple, and immediately the gates were shut.

Reflection

The tension between Jews and Gentiles, particularly the Roman Empire, was growing. In less than ten years after this riot recorded here a full scale war would break out between Judea and the Roman Empire; at the center of that war would be the city of Jerusalem. It is the festival of Pentecost and Jews from all over the world once again would be in the city. Presumably some are from Ephesus and recognize Paul (who is a famous Jewish man) traveling with a Gentile friend from Ephesus. They assume that Paul has brought his Gentile friend into the part of the temple reserved for Jews only. It’s not true but Paul is known by his reputation, this famous Jewish teacher has been keeping company with Gentiles and pushing the boundaries of what is acceptable according to God’s standards – some would call it grace (Ps. Dale).

Thoughts for the day

  • What do you feel God is telling you through this passage?
  • What is one way you can apply this truth to your life today?
  • Who can you encourage with this story/message?

Prayer

Pray for the nation of China. Pray for China’s leaders and for all those who are in authority. May they call on God for the wisdom to lead this country.

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By |2018-08-16T10:02:19+08:00August 22nd, 2018|Week 3|0 Comments

21 August 2018 – Acts 21:20b-25 (NIV)

Scripture

20 When they heard this, they praised God. Then they said to Paul: “You see, brother, how many thousands of Jews have believed, and all of them are zealous for the law. 21 They have been informed that you teach all the Jews who live among the Gentiles to turn away from Moses, telling them not to circumcise their children or live according to our customs. 22 What shall we do? They will certainly hear that you have come, 23 so do what we tell you. There are four men with us who have made a vow. 24 Take these men, join in their purification rites and pay their expenses, so that they can have their heads shaved. Then everyone will know there is no truth in these reports about you, but that you yourself are living in obedience to the law. 25 As for the Gentile believers, we have written to them our decision that they should abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from sexual immorality.”

Reflection

AND THEN… there are people in your life (even close people) who just don’t seem to get what you are doing and who you are in Christ now. They don’t seem to understand how you’ve changed since you’ve encountered Jesus and how profound of an impact it has made in all of your being. These people may discourage you and even ask you to return to your old ways. This is the time to remember that you are no longer a slave to sin and shame and the things of old that once bound you. Steel up. Be strong and courageous. Turn to His word and love His precepts. Don’t turn to the left or right of His word and remember what He has done for you. Remember His faithfulness to you and how He has been leading you into green pastures and still waters. Today, reflect on the things He has done and how far He has taken you from where you first began (Josh).

Thoughts for the day

  • What do you feel God is telling you through this passage?
  • What is one way you can apply this truth to your life today?
  • Who can you encourage with this story/message?

Prayer

Stop and ask God to place a nation on your mind and heart. Pray for the people to blessed by God, the church to shine brightly and for God to be present in that place.

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By |2018-08-16T09:58:33+08:00August 21st, 2018|Week 3|0 Comments

20 August 2018 – Acts 21:17-20a (NIV)

Scripture

17 When we arrived at Jerusalem, the brothers and sisters received us warmly. 18 The next day Paul and the rest of us went to see James, and all the elders were present. 19 Paul greeted them and reported in detail what God had done among the Gentiles through his ministry.

20 When they heard this, they praised God. Then they said to Paul: “You see, brother, how many thousands of Jews have believed, and all of them are zealous for the law.

Reflection

There is something special about coming home. Long conversations with old friends, telling everyone about the things God has been doing in your life. Showing your loved ones some of the cool things you’ve learned, just being around people who love you, and good laughs with old friends. Normally, I have so much to say and not enough time to share it! Coming home after a long journey can be so refreshing. I love that God gives us times like these to help us recharge and refocus, especially with the knowledge that difficult times are ahead. Friends and family is so often the right remedy to the missionary blues. A lot can be healed or strengthened through a good word or laugh. A lot can be healed or strengthened by just being that friend who listens. Pour into your friend a good word or just sit and listen to everything they have to share. This week, be that friend or relative who helps recharge and refocus others on the eve of something big (Josh).

Thoughts for the day

  • What do you feel God is telling you through this passage?
  • What is one way you can apply this truth to your life today?
  • Who can you encourage with this story/message?

Prayer

Identify anything that is making you weary or burdened and give it back to God. You might like to physically represent this by clinching your hands then opening them.

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By |2018-08-16T10:10:52+08:00August 20th, 2018|Week 3|0 Comments