Monthly Archives: September 2018

28 September 2018 – Acts 28:29-31 (NIV)

Scripture

30 For two whole years Paul stayed there in his own rented house and welcomed all who came to see him. 31 He proclaimed the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ—with all boldness and without hindrance!

Reflection

So we come to the end of the Book of Acts. Some have called it the acts of Jesus’ followers or the acts of the Holy Spirit in Jesus’ people. The two phrases, “proclaimed the Kingdom of God” and “with all boldness” summarize all twenty-eight chapter. “Acts” ends somewhat openly, it leaves us wondering and asking, “What happened next?” Exactly! You and I and every follower of Jesus are writing the next chapter of taking the Gospel to the ends of the earth, establishing Christ’s body in all the world (Ps. Dale).

Thoughts for the day

  • How are you participating in writing the next chapter of taking the Gospel to those around you?
  • 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 this prayer today: (from Common Radicals) “May the peace of the Lord Christ go with me: wherever He may send me; may He guide me through the wilderness: protect me through the storm; may He bring me home rejoicing: at the wonders He has shown me; may He bring me home rejoicing: once again into my door”

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By |2018-09-20T10:17:21+08:00September 28th, 2018|Week 4|0 Comments

27 September 2018 – Acts 28:25-28 (NIV)

Scripture

25 They disagreed among themselves and began to leave after Paul had made this final statement: “The Holy Spirit spoke the truth to your ancestors when he said through Isaiah the prophet:

26 “‘Go to this people and say,
“You will be ever hearing but never understanding;
    you will be ever seeing but never perceiving.”
27 For this people’s heart has become calloused;
    they hardly hear with their ears,
    and they have closed their eyes.
Otherwise they might see with their eyes,
    hear with their ears,
    understand with their hearts
and turn, and I would heal them.’

28 “Therefore I want you to know that God’s salvation has been sent to the Gentiles, and they will listen!”

Reflection

That is a hard word to hear certainly, but how much more difficult was it to be the one to have to share those words! You gotta give evangelists and people who share Jesus with people credit; they sure can take one on the chin! To be able to share the good news and have someone reject it right away can be discouraging and even knock you down. But you have to keep sowing the seeds; it’s really all we can do. However, it is also by the hard work of these people who have shared the good news, been rejected, but still persist in the good work that you and I have this relationship with Jesus Christ and know the true goodness of this word of salvation. Thank the Lord for these champions of the faith! (Josh).

Thoughts for the day

  • Who in your circle of influence need to hear the Good News?
  • How do you react to people when they reject the Good News? Do you persist or do you give up?
  • 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

Lift up an unanswered prayer to God and ask for a renewed sense of his patience and strength.

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By |2018-09-20T10:13:46+08:00September 27th, 2018|Week 4|0 Comments

26 September 2018 – Acts 28: 23-24 (NIV)

Scripture

23 They arranged to meet Paul on a certain day, and came in even larger numbers to the place where he was staying. He witnessed to them from morning till evening, explaining about the kingdom of God, and from the Law of Moses and from the Prophets he tried to persuade them about Jesus. 24 Some were convinced by what he said, but others would not believe.

Reflection

To experience God, to have a relationship with Him, it’s not just about ourselves. We can only witness about what we know, we can only explain about something we understand. For the believer, to continue to grow in the knowledge of God is not an option, it’s part of our everyday life, for our sake and for the sake of those around us. Some might be convinced, and some might not, but we know what He has called us to do. If you ever visit the SCF office you can see written on the wall of the big meeting room:

The Great Commission:

Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.  Matthew 28:19-20 (Su).

Thoughts for the day

  • How are you daily growing in your relationship with God?
  • How are you advancing the Kingdom of God
  • 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

Be still and wait patiently for God (Psalm 37:7).

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By |2018-09-26T08:51:47+08:00September 26th, 2018|Week 4|0 Comments

25 September 2018 – Acts 28: 20 (NIV)

Scripture

20 For this reason I have asked to see you and talk with you. It is because of the hope of Israel that I am bound with this chain.”

Reflection

Paul put mission over self. He pursued purpose over comfort. He knew that being a Christ follower meant that he would follow Christ to places of danger, suffering and loss of freedom. In this passage, Paul is imprisoned under trumped up charges and could easily find freedom if he would simply let go of his passionate claims about Jesus the Messiah. Instead, he doubles down and asks to speak to Caesar – THE Caesar! His purpose was not to defend himself; it was to proclaim “the hope of Israel,” which is Jesus the Christ. Again, Paul’s mission was not to increase his own status, store up for himself worldly gains, or gain victory over his enemies. His mission was solely focused on sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ, even if that meant unjust imprisonment. How often do we put our mission over our personal desires? How often do we choose comfort over calling? The reality is that some day all of us will be called to stand trial, though not in front of Caesar or any other principality in this world. Rather, we will be called to give an account to God Himself. But the good news is that we can receive the same assurance of hope that Paul proclaimed – that Jesus is our ultimate advocate and through Him we can and will be found blameless in the eyes of God (Charlie Engelmann).

Thoughts for the day

  • When have you chosen to follow Christ to an uncomfortable place? What was the fruit of that decision?
  • Do you feel confident standing before God’s judgement? Why or why not?
  • What do you put your hope in?
  • Who needs to hear this truth?

Prayer

Pray and praise God for one aspect of his character that is meaningful to you, confess your sin, give thanks for the good things in your life, ask for what you need and think of an area in your life in which you worry, and then ask God to replace that worry with an overwhelming sense of hope.

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By |2018-09-20T10:18:04+08:00September 25th, 2018|Week 4|0 Comments

24 September 2018 – Acts 28:17-19 (NIV)

Scripture

17 Three days later he called together the local Jewish leaders. When they had assembled, Paul said to them: “My brothers, although I have done nothing against our people or against the customs of our ancestors, I was arrested in Jerusalem and handed over to the Romans. 18 They examined me and wanted to release me, because I was not guilty of any crime deserving death. 19 The Jews objected, so I was compelled to make an appeal to Caesar. I certainly did not intend to bring any charge against my own people.

Reflection

Paul loved his own people and he made every effort to reach them and to convince them that their fellow Jew, Jesus, was their promised Messiah. The results from this conversation in Rome were typical, a few believed, most were unconvinced. God has not rejected Jewish people although many have rejected Him by rejecting the Son Jesus. God will have the last word concerning this people group (Ps. Dale).

Thoughts for the day

  • What do you feel God is telling you through this passage?
  • What does this passage tell you about, Jesus and humanity?
  • 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 |2018-09-20T09:57:02+08:00September 24th, 2018|Week 4|0 Comments

21 September 2018 – Acts 28: 13-16 (NIV)

Scripture

13 From there we set sail and arrived at Rhegium. The next day the south wind came up, and on the following day we reached Puteoli. 14 There we found some brothers and sisters who invited us to spend a week with them. And so we came to Rome. 15 The brothers and sisters there had heard that we were coming, and they traveled as far as the Forum of Appius and the Three Taverns to meet us. At the sight of these people Paul thanked God and was encouraged. 16 When we got to Rome, Paul was allowed to live by himself, with a soldier to guard him.

Reflection

There were two places where Christians from Rome came to meet Paul. The place called the Forum of Appius was about forty-three miles from Rome and sat along a canal, the second place was a little closer to Rome, about thirty-three miles. Some had traveled longer distances to meet Paul, either way the friendship, expressed in their coming to meet him, encouraged him greatly. It had been a long, difficult journey in many ways and the sight of fellow Christians brought comfort and refreshed him as it should for us today (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 and give thanks for:
…the truth of these words, “God with us”
…the impact of the birth of Jesus,
…the reality that God is with us, now.

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By |2018-09-13T15:08:53+08:00September 21st, 2018|Week 3|0 Comments

20 September 2018 – Acts 28: 7-10 (NIV)

Scripture

There was an estate nearby that belonged to Publius, the chief official of the island. He welcomed us to his home and showed us generous hospitality for three days. His father was sick in bed, suffering from fever and dysentery. Paul went in to see him and, after prayer, placed his hands on him and healed him. When this had happened, the rest of the sick on the island came and were cured. 10 They honored us in many ways; and when we were ready to sail, they furnished us with the supplies we needed.

Reflection

Welcoming strangers (well, not only strangers, but some of them, prisoners). Publius’ act of hospitality led not only to his father’s healing, but also to the rest of the sick on the island. Paul’s ministry didn’t stop because of the circumstances and/or his environment. Have you ever lived your Christian life with an “on” and an “off” button? When it comes to Church/ ministry the switch is “on”. However, for the rest of the week you function on the “off” mode. What would it look like if we live our lives in the light of God’s glory 24/7? (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

Pray for those who are in prison.

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By |2018-09-13T15:06:59+08:00September 20th, 2018|Week 3|0 Comments

19 September 2018 – Acts 28: 3-6 (NIV)

Scripture

Paul gathered a pile of brushwood and, as he put it on the fire, a viper, driven out by the heat, fastened itself on his hand. When the islanders saw the snake hanging from his hand, they said to each other, “This man must be a murderer; for though he escaped from the sea, the goddess Justice has not allowed him to live.” But Paul shook the snake off into the fire and suffered no ill effects. The people expected him to swell up or suddenly fall dead; but after waiting a long time and seeing nothing unusual happen to him, they changed their minds and said he was a god.

Reflection

How easily do we make assumptions about others? After the shipwreck we see Paul and other prisoners arriving in Malta. When Paul is bitten by the snake the islanders are quick to assume it must have been some sort of divine justice. The reality though is that bad things don’t only happen to bad people, neither good things only happen to good people. As believers we know that there is a judgment that is yet to come. Paul went through much affliction in order to continue to share the Gospel. In the midst of it all, God was present; miraculous signs happened and people believed. This reminds me of Jesus’ words to His disciples in John 16:33:  “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”(Su).

Thoughts for the day

  • Are there any superstitions/assumtions that you believe in that isn’t in allignement with the Bible?
  • 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 |2018-09-13T15:00:03+08:00September 19th, 2018|Week 3|0 Comments

18 September 2018 – Acts 27:42-44 (NIV)

Scripture

42 The soldiers planned to kill the prisoners to prevent any of them from swimming away and escaping. 43 But the centurion wanted to spare Paul’s life and kept them from carrying out their plan. He ordered those who could swim to jump overboard first and get to land. 44 The rest were to get there on planks or on other pieces of the ship. In this way everyone reached land safely.

Reflection

In these verses, the plight of Paul and his companions went from bad to worse…but there was still hope. They were shipwrecked in an unfamiliar land, hungry, thirsty and probably in need of medical help. However, instead of being given safe refuge, they were almost executed by their captors. But dramatically, the Centurion interceded on their behalf and every single captive made it to shore safely – even the ones who couldn’t swim! So, why did the Centurion risk his status (and perhaps his life) by allowing these men to go to ashore? Did he see Paul as a man of integrity who would not attempt an escape when given the opportunity? Was he moved by seeing a group of starving captives still living out their faith with gratefulness and joy? Or was it simply that the Holy Spirit moved in the Centurion’s heart in inexplicable ways? No matter the reason, his decision spared Paul and his men from certain death. This passage once again shows God’s provisions and protection. Like the Hebrews wandering in the desert, Paul and his companions were given enough to keep going. They had nothing to rely on but God Himself. We all have times when life seems to be going from bad to worse. It is natural to let become disillusioned with God or pessimistic about the future. But for those who keep their eyes on Jesus, there are always reasons be hopeful, as God Himself will always provide what we need (Charlie Engelmann).

Thoughts for the day

  • Why do you think the Centurion protected Paul and his companions?
  • Did Paul’s Christ-like qualities inspire confidence? Or was it simply a work of the Spirit?
  • How has God sustained you during difficult chapters in your life?
  • As expats, sometimes we also feel ‘shipwrecked in an unfamiliar land.” As followers of Christ, how should our lives be different from those who do not share our faith?

Prayer

Pray the Lord’s Prayer: Matthew 6:9-13:

“OUR FATHER IN HEAVEN,
HALLOWED BE YOUR NAME,
YOUR KINGDOM COME,
YOUR WILL BE DONE,
ON EARTH AS IT IS IN HEAVEN.
GIVE US TODAY OUR DAILY BREAD.
AND FORGIVE US OUR DEBTS,
AS WE ALSO HAVE FORGIVEN OUR DEBTORS.
AND LEAD US NOT INTO TEMPTATION,
BUT DELIVER US FROM THE EVIL ONE.”

And Think of someone who you know that seems to be on a metaphorical sinking ship. Pray that God leads him/her safely to shore and reveals His loving plans for their life.

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By |2018-09-13T15:10:39+08:00September 18th, 2018|Week 3|0 Comments

17 September 2018 – Acts 27:34-38 (NIV)

Scripture

34 Now I urge you to take some food. You need it to survive. Not one of you will lose a single hair from his head.” 35 After he said this, he took some bread and gave thanks to God in front of them all. Then he broke it and began to eat. 36 They were all encouraged and ate some food themselves. 37 Altogether there were 276 of us on board. 38 When they had eaten as much as they wanted, they lightened the ship by throwing the grain into the sea.

Reflection

Here we see a group that is, understandably, famished and afraid. Physically, they were starving and certainly ready to devour the sustenance put before them by Paul. But before eating, they still took time to pray and thank God for HIS provisions. Two important lessons are revealed in this passage. Firstly, we must always consider not only our physical health, but also our spiritual health. A full stomach is nothing if our spirits are malnourished. Secondly, we must ALWAYS be thankful. This was a group of castaways, likely lacking hope, physically at their breaking points, packed together in a tiny boat adrift at sea, and hungry. But while most would have given into their fear, anger or physical desires, they instead prayed a prayer of thanksgiving, led by Paul. This was the same Paul that wrote in Philippians 4:11 that he has “learned to be content in all circumstances,” and in I Thessalonians 5:18 urged others to “give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” This attitude is echoed by missionary and Holocaust survivor, Corrie Ten Boom, who once said, “When Jesus is with you, the worst can happen and the best remains.” (Charlie Engelmann).

Thoughts for the day

  • Think back to a time when you were famished and/or afraid. How did you respond?
  • What lessons are you able to glean in hindsight?
  • Are you nourishing your spiritual health? What does that look like?
  • How can you be thankful in all circumstances?
  • Are you committed to gratitude or do you let the outside world dictate your emotional state?

Prayer

Spend time today specifically thanking God in your areas of anger, frustration and other areas in which you feel there is a lacking. Be grateful and let God replace your spiritual famine with joyful abundance. Also pray for the international church in Shanghai. All expressions but especially, ICS, SWIF, AGIF, German Fellowship, Korean Community Fellowship, Danish Fellowship and Cantonese Fellowship (SICF).

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By |2018-09-13T15:10:12+08:00September 17th, 2018|Week 3|0 Comments