Monthly Archives: October 2018

31 October 2018 – Romans 4:4-12 (NIV)

Scripture

Now to the one who works, wages are not credited as a gift but as an obligation. However, to the one who does not work but trusts God who justifies the ungodly, their faith is credited as righteousness. David says the same thing when he speaks of the blessedness of the one to whom God credits righteousness apart from works:

“Blessed are those
    whose transgressions are forgiven,
    whose sins are covered.
Blessed is the one
    whose sin the Lord will never count against them.”

Is this blessedness only for the circumcised, or also for the uncircumcised? We have been saying that Abraham’s faith was credited to him as righteousness. 10 Under what circumstances was it credited? Was it after he was circumcised, or before? It was not after, but before! 11 And he received circumcision as a sign, a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while he was still uncircumcised. So then, he is the father of all who believe but have not been circumcised, in order that righteousness might be credited to them. 12 And he is then also the father of the circumcised who not only are circumcised but who also follow in the footsteps of the faith that our father Abraham had before he was circumcised.

Reflection

This is a massive paradigm shift for those who find their hope in religion. Religion does not save. Following laws and being a good person does not save. In fact, those who claim that their actions make them righteous are perhaps the most depraved. We are saved by believing in God’s gift of salvation: Jesus, who lived a perfect life, died on a cross, and rose again to give us victory over death.

Thus our calling is to believe in Christ and accept God’s grace. Does this then mean that our actions don’t matter? Of course not! Just as Abraham was credited righteousness and then walked in that righteousness, we too have been justified so that we can walk in HIS goodness as we live our lives as followers of Christ (Charlie).

Thoughts for the day

  • Have you asked God to forgive you? Is that something you do regularly?
  • What is your view of ‘religion’? If it doesn’t save, what is its purpose?
  • If we are righteous because we are forgiven, how then shall we view our friends, family members, co-workers and others in our communities?

Prayer

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

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By |2018-10-26T10:00:04+08:00October 31st, 2018|Week 1|0 Comments

30 October 2018 – Romans 4:1-3 (NIV)

Scripture

What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh, discovered in this matter? If, in fact, Abraham was justified by works, he had something to boast about—but not before God. What does Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.”

Reflection

If it isn’t clear yet, one of the big takeaways from Paul’s letter to the Romans is this: we cannot be good on our own. Our works – the things we do – simply aren’t good enough. It doesn’t matter how hard we try, how much money we give, how many puppies we rescue, or how many times we say “gosh darn” instead of the alternative. We can try and try and try…but ultimately our actions are not what make us good.

God makes us good. Having faith in Him allow His goodness to overcome our sin.

Why is that? It is not because we are horrible people; but rather because God is THAT good. His goodness (righteousness, holiness) is unattainable and any time we think that our efforts can somehow ‘earn’ God’s love, we are totally missing the point.

Abraham, the father of our faith, was seen by Jesus’s contemporary Jews as a man who was justified by his good works. In this section, Paul is saying that Abraham indeed was NOT good because of what he did; rather it was because of his faith in the one makes us people good. Abraham’s belief was ‘credited’ as righteousness (Charlie).

Thoughts for the day

  • What do you put your faith in?
  • Is your ‘goodness’ a credit from God or something that you have earned?
  • What sin are you struggling with in your life? How can you overcome it according to this passage?

Prayer

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

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By |2018-10-26T09:56:26+08:00October 30th, 2018|Week 1|0 Comments

29 October 2018 – Romans 3:27-31 (NIV)

Scripture

27 Where, then, is boasting? It is excluded. Because of what law? The law that requires works? No, because of the law that requires faith. 28 For we maintain that a person is justified by faith apart from the works of the law. 29 Or is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles too? Yes, of Gentiles too, 30 since there is only one God, who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through that same faith. 31 Do we, then, nullify the law by this faith? Not at all! Rather, we uphold the law.

Reflection

No more boasting out of self-righteousness. Yet as believers we are not left to be lawless. Although we cannot be saved by it as a covenant, we own and submit to the Law as a way of knowing who God is, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the same One we call Abba Father.

What He considers good or evil, right or wrong, matters.

“[To have Faith in Christ] means, of course, trying to do all that He says. There would be no sense in saying you trusted a person if you would not take his advice. Thus if you have really handed yourself over to Him, it must follow that you are trying to obey Him. But trying in a new way, a less worried way. Not doing these things in order to be saved, but because He has begun to save you already. Not hoping to get to Heaven as a reward for your actions, but inevitably wanting to act in a certain way because a first faint gleam of Heaven is already inside you.” ― C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity (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 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.

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By |2018-10-26T10:11:00+08:00October 29th, 2018|Week 1|0 Comments

26 October 2018 – Romans 3:21-26 (NIV)

Scripture

21 But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. 22 This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. 25 God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished— 26 he did it to demonstrate his righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.

Reflection

After all the sobering news Paul mentioned about our sinfulness and God’s condemnation, he gives us this wonderful news! We can be found not guilty of our sins by believing and trusting that Jesus Christ has taken away our sins, that we’ve been forgiven, therefore making us right with God.

This beautiful gift is available for all of us, regardless of our background or past behavior. If you are not a Christian but would like to receive Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, you can pray to God in your own words and share your decision with a Christian friend.

If you are a Christian, may you be reminded daily that you are saved by grace, no longer a slave of sin but free indeed. John 8:36 – “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”(Su)

Thoughts for the day

  • In which area in your life do you need to be reminded that you are saved by grace and no longer a slave to sin?
  • 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 |2018-10-26T10:26:46+08:00October 26th, 2018|Week 4|0 Comments

25 October 2018 – Romans 3:9-20 (NIV)

Scripture

What shall we conclude then? Do we have any advantage? Not at all! For we have already made the charge that Jews and Gentiles alike are all under the power of sin. 10 As it is written:

“There is no one righteous, not even one;
11     there is no one who understands;
    there is no one who seeks God.
12 All have turned away,
    they have together become worthless;
there is no one who does good,
    not even one.”
13 “Their throats are open graves;
    their tongues practice deceit.”
“The poison of vipers is on their lips.”
14     “Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness.”
15 “Their feet are swift to shed blood;
16     ruin and misery mark their ways,
17 and the way of peace they do not know.”
18     “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”

19 Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God. 20 Therefore no one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by the works of the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of our sin.

Reflection

“Well. I’m not too bad. I’m a pretty good person. At least I don’t do this or that. Compared to him or her, at least…”.

Have you ever looked down on anyone? Judged or compared? Or maybe you are on the other side of the coin where you feel unworthy, “too far gone” to come to God.

Paul is clear. There is no one righteous, not even one. Is there any hope for us, then? YES! The Law condemns us, but the Law is not the basis of our hope. God Himself is. Hold on to His Redeeming Grace (Su).

Thoughts for the day

  • Is there an area in your life that you feel you don’t really need God and that you have it all figured out?
  • 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 |2018-10-24T10:26:21+08:00October 25th, 2018|Week 4|0 Comments

24 October 2018 – Romans 3:5-8 (NIV)

Scripture

But if our unrighteousness brings out God’s righteousness more clearly, what shall we say? That God is unjust in bringing his wrath on us? (I am using a human argument.) Certainly not! If that were so, how could God judge the world? Someone might argue, “If my falsehood enhances God’s truthfulness and so increases his glory, why am I still condemned as a sinner?” Why not say—as some slanderously claim that we say—“Let us do evil that good may result”? Their condemnation is just!

Reflection

The amount of excuses we can hear to justify sin has been around as long as humanity exists. It’s too easy to take God’s grace for granted, but God cannot overlook sin. No matter how many excuses are made, sinners will have to answer God for their sin.

How to respond, then? Repentance. To turn or return. To turn from evil and turn to good. But not a repentance just to keep God “happy” so that He will continue to bless me and answer my prayers. In the gospel, the purpose of repentance is to walk in the joy of our union with Christ, to weaken our impulse to do anything contrary to God’s heart.

“Repentance is more than just sorrow for the past; repentance is a change of mind and heart, a new life of denying self and serving the Savior as king in self’s place.”– J.I. Packer (Su).

Thoughts for the day

  • What do you need to repent from?
  • 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 |2018-10-23T20:29:03+08:00October 24th, 2018|Week 4|Comments Off on 24 October 2018 – Romans 3:5-8 (NIV)

23 October 2018 – Romans 3:1-4 (NIV)

Scripture

What advantage, then, is there in being a Jew, or what value is there in circumcision? Much in every way! First of all, the Jews have been entrusted with the very words of God.

What if some were unfaithful? Will their unfaithfulness nullify God’s faithfulness? Not at all! Let God be true, and every human being a liar. As it is written:

     “So that you may be proved right when you speak
         and prevail when you judge.”

Reflection

Psalm 51 is one of the most well-known psalms. The one David wrote regarding the time Nathan the prophet came to him after he had committed adultery with Bathsheba.

Psalm 51: 4 “Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight; so you are right in your verdict and justified when you judge.”

It requires a revelation of the Holy Spirit in our lives to recognize that no one will be exempt from God’s judgment of sin, that every person must accept the fact that he or she is sinful and condemned before God in order to receive God’s wonderful gift of salvation. Not by birth, nor by deeds. God Himself, in His righteousness and amazing love, offers us eternal life, through faith in Jesus Christ. We cannot earn it; we can only accept it as a gift from our Heavenly Father. God is always faithful, even when we are not. He is always faithful, even when we doubt. He is always faithful.  Let these words sink in. Repeat it to yourself. Sing it. Write it down (Su).

Thoughts for the day

  • How much do you realize that you are loved by God based on what He has done and not based on who you are or what you have done?
  • 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 |2018-10-22T11:36:27+08:00October 23rd, 2018|Week 4|0 Comments

22 October 2018 – Romans 2:28-29 (NIV)

Scripture

28 A person is not a Jew who is one only outwardly, nor is circumcision merely outward and physical. 29 No, a person is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code. Such a person’s praise is not from other people, but from God.

Reflection

This passage makes me think of when God sent Samuel to the House of Jesse to find the next King of Israel. He passed by all the older brothers who on the outside looked the part; tall, dark, handsome, strong and smart. But God did not look at the outwardly, but to the inside. God loved David because He knew in David’s heart was a man who pursued God and God’s desires. It is shocking that the Jews would forget this story and all the analogies that come with it when it came to the issue of the observation of the law. But maybe it’s not so shocking at all. It is an introspective look at the condition of the human heart and our propensity to be exclusivists. I can see the parallels with Christians today and our tendencies to build little safe bubbles or draw lines to keep the world out of our ‘Godly’ affairs. Maybe we are more like the Jews than we think we are?   We are so quick to judge from the outside aren’t we? Oh how we really need the Lord! (Josh)

Thoughts for the day

  • How do you judge others?
  • 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 an outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon Shanghai Community Fellowship.

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By |2018-10-21T19:58:02+08:00October 22nd, 2018|Week 4|0 Comments

19 October 2018 – Romans 2:25-27 (NIV)

Scripture

25 Circumcision has value if you observe the law, but if you break the law, you have become as though you had not been circumcised. 26 So then, if those who are not circumcised keep the law’s requirements, will they not be regarded as though they were circumcised? 27 The one who is not circumcised physically and yet obeys the law will condemn you who, even though you have the written code and circumcision, are a lawbreaker.

Reflection

A Jewish person at that time would have read this and then immediately spit out what they were drinking! How could Paul even say that a Gentile can be equal to a Jew, even if that Gentile were living according to God’s laws? Even worse, be the one who condemns the Jew. Here you begin to see God’s plan unfold and it’s much bigger than just the salvation of the Jews. As humans, we often fall into the trap of looking at things with tunnel vision. As Christians, we look at our faith the same way, through a tunnel, just our own personal faith and our sphere of influence and miss out on seeing God’s entire plan of salvation. The Jews felt this way too. But God’s plan is bigger even than just the salvation of people. He is intending to redeem the entire world; everything from art, nature, people to even abstract things like philosophy, words and relationships! God’s salvation is not just for people, but the ENTIRE world, the things in it, the galaxy and the universe! (Josh)

Thoughts for the day

  • What does this passage tell us about salvation?
  • 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 |2018-10-17T11:57:18+08:00October 19th, 2018|Week 3|0 Comments

18 October 2018 – Romans 2:17-24 (NIV)

Scripture

17 Now you, if you call yourself a Jew; if you rely on the law and boast in God; 18 if you know his will and approve of what is superior because you are instructed by the law; 19 if you are convinced that you are a guide for the blind, a light for those who are in the dark, 20 an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of little children, because you have in the law the embodiment of knowledge and truth— 21 you, then, who teach others, do you not teach yourself? You who preach against stealing, do you steal? 22 You who say that people should not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? 23 You who boast in the law, do you dishonor God by breaking the law? 24 As it is written: “God’s name is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.”

Reflection

Some people think very highly of themselves and our friend Paul is here to warn us to not get too big headed. Even the best of us have broken the law, told a lie, or idolized something in way or another. When you begin to think too highly of yourself spiritually, you are beginning to tread into some dangerous territory. Paul states that hypocrisy in your faith is the equivalent of blaspheming the name of God, and it seems, no one is safe from this. That is a pretty serious accusation. Paul is setting us up for something big here because he has been painting a pretty grim picture of our unrighteousness (Josh)

Thoughts for the day

  • In which area in your life do you feel you are too big headed??
  • 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 help you create a space in your calendar and a place in your life for prayer. Where?

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By |2018-10-17T11:56:32+08:00October 18th, 2018|Week 3|0 Comments