Monthly Archives: November 2018

30 November 2018 – Romans 8:31-39 (NIV)

Scripture

31 What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? 33 Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. 34 Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36 As it is written:

“For your sake we face death all day long;
    we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”

37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Reflection

This is the crescendo of an amazing chapter. The author Paul sums up His long and complex doctrinal arguments by assuring us that “we are more than conquerors through Him who loves us.” Our authority comes not from money, status, job title, material possessions, friends, family name or citizenship. Our victory is because God loves us. God. Loves. Us.

And that love is like nothing else. Neither death nor life. Angels nor demons. Not present things. Not future things. No powers in this world. No height is greater; no depth is deeper. NOTHING can separate us from the amazing love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

So, while Paul’s letter to the Romans may have a lot to offer in terms of the tenets of the Christian faith, let us not lose sight of what is at its core: that the God of the universe loves us and all good things come as we receive that love into our lives through a relationship with our Savior Jesus Christ (Charlie).

Thoughts for the day

  • In what areas of your life has God made you a “conqueror?”?
  • How can you better grasp the infinite greatness of God’s love?

Prayer

Pray for those who are in prison.

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By |2018-11-25T09:24:26+08:00November 30th, 2018|Week 5|0 Comments

29 November 2018 – Romans 8:26-30 (NIV)

Scripture

26 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. 27 And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.

28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. 29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. 30 And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.

Reflection

“In all things God works for the good of those who love Him.” What a promise! This verse does not say that “God works for the good of those who follow the law.” Or “God works for the good who try hardest.” God is a relational God. He loves us and desires more than anything that we can be in relationship with Him. As any good father, he also longs for us to experience joy, peace, and satisfaction. He wants us to thrive. And that can only happen when we are living in a loving relationship with Him – our creator and the author of our faith. It is not that God simply rewards the people who love Him; rather when we are in loving communion with God – which is what we were created for – we can know what goodness is. Outside of relationship with God, our eyes are blinded, our minds are distorted, and our hearts are desensitized.

If you desire a deeper relationship with God, then spend time in prayer with Him. You can even do it now. Tell Him you long for His love. Confess the things that you know are against His will for you. And open your heart to Him. If you don’t know what to say, then just ask for His Spirit to intercede. God loves you and wants nothing but good for you and your life (Charlie).

Thoughts for the day

  • Think of a time in your life in which God has made good out of difficult times.  How did He reveal more of Himself?
  • How can you better see God as your Heavenly Father?

Prayer

Pray for an outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon Shanghai Community Fellowship.

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By |2018-11-25T09:20:41+08:00November 29th, 2018|Week 5|0 Comments

28 November 2018 – Romans 8:18-25 (NIV)

Scripture

18 I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. 19 For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. 20 For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21 that[a] the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.

22 We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. 23 Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? 25 But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.

Reflection

Throughout this chapter, Paul is juxtaposing ‘living in the flesh’ and ‘living in the Spirit.’ One practical application is our focus during times of hardship. The most power antidote to present suffering is having a sense of purpose. God has gifted us with two things that allow us to overcome our current situation and have hope: self-awareness, which is the ability to reflect on our thoughts, desires and feelings; and imagination, which allows us to see beyond our present circumstances. In addition, God’s own Spirit lives in and works through us so that can celebrate that which is yet to come.

So, in time so hardship, do you focus on your immediate circumstances and allow them to dictate your mindset? Or do you focus on the things of God – that which is eternal, life-giving and good? Living by the Spirit allows us to say with confidence that our circumstances are nothing compared to the glorious things of God. And with that confidence, we have hope that God is at work and that He will bring His plans to completion (Charlie).

Thoughts for the day

  • How can you focus on God during times of suffering?
  • In what areas of your life are you having a hard time? How can God work in those circumstances to refine you?

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 |2018-11-25T09:16:53+08:00November 28th, 2018|Week 5|0 Comments

27 November 2018 – Romans 8:9-17 (NIV)

Scripture

You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ. 10 But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life because of righteousness. 11 And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you.

12 Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation—but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it. 13 For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live.

14 For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. 15 The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship.[c] And by him we cry, “Abba,[d] Father.” 16 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. 17 Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.

Reflection

What is your identity? If someone asks you who you are, how do you respond? Do you define yourself by your nationality? Your job title? Your physical health/beauty? Your social class?

In this passage, Paul is revealing a powerful truth – that our identity is as children of God.   We have been adopted as sons and daughters of the God of the universe. This is a life-changing truth for those who truly believe and accept. Not only are we heirs of God’s promises, but we also have been given direct access to God (just as any child would have access to his/her father). Not only that, but God deposits His very spirit in us so that we can fulfill our calling as heirs of the King of Kings.

What a blessing! And the only thing we must remember is to be bold in accepting God’s gracious gift. He desires relationship with us. He wants us to come to Him and cry “Abba, Father” because he longs to shower us with His love. This is not just a right, this is calling – that we embrace our identity as children of God (Charlie).

Thoughts for the day

  • What do you put your identity in?
  • What does being a child of God mean in your life?
  • Are there areas of your life in which you are not embracing your identity as a child of God? If so, how can that change?

Prayer

After the workday encourage your flat mate, your family or friends over dinner to share something they’re thankful for, and praise God for his blessing.

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By |2018-11-25T09:13:48+08:00November 27th, 2018|Week 5|0 Comments

26 November 2018 – Romans 8:1-8 (NIV)

Scripture

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering.And so he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God.

Reflection

There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ. Our righteousness is not a result of what we do. The law no longer has any authority over our lives. We are FREE!

How is this possible? Because we are IN Christ. Jesus, God’s only Son, came to this world to satisfy the requirements of the law. His death set us free. His resurrection gives us life. And His Spirit was sent so that we may live in fullness even now as we await His second coming.

This is the hope of the Gospel – that we are no longer slaves to the law, to this world or to our fleshly desires. God’s power can be made manifest in us so we can live in abundance as we walk in His Spirit.

So, are you living in the flesh or in the Spirit? If you struggle with a “mind that is governed by the flesh,” then there is good news: God is waiting for you to turn back to Him (and turn away from the things keeping you from Him) and His promise is to remake you into His image as you accept His life-changing grace (Charlie).

Thoughts for the day

  • Do you ever feel ‘condemned?’ If so, why?
  • Are there things in your life that you feel enslaved to? Food/drink, relationships, material things, habits?
  • How can you change from having a “mind governed by the flesh” to one governed by the Spirit?

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 |2018-11-25T09:09:30+08:00November 26th, 2018|Week 5|0 Comments

23 November 2018 – Romans 7:21-25 (NIV)

Scripture

21 So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. 22 For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; 23 but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. 24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? 25 Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!

So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in my sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.

Reflection

Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 2:16,  “Who has known the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ. He also writes later in Romans “12 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” In our battle with sin, God has provided an amazing answer, the mind of Christ. Mankind has proven over and over again that we will succomb to the sin nature at war within us and we need something beyond us to overcome. We need a transformation of the mind, an overhaul of the thoughts and desires in our lives. But God is so faithful. He has done more than help us, He has given us His very mind! By God’s renewing of our mind, we can now walk away from that what once was a struggle for us (Josh).

Thoughts for the day

  • In which areas of your life can you and should you renew your mind to be more like Chris?
  • What do you feel God is telling you through this passage?
  • How will you apply what God is telling you in your life today?
  • Is there someone you feel you need to tell this message to?

Prayer

Pray for the leaders of SCF; Elders, Ministry leaders, Staff, Community Group Leaders and all those who serve.

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By |2018-11-16T12:35:28+08:00November 23rd, 2018|Week 4|0 Comments

22 November 2018 – Romans 7:14-20 (NIV)

Scripture

14 We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. 15 I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. 16 And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. 17 As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. 18 For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.

Reflection

We were created in God’s image; made to know the Father. With that DNA imprint we know in our hearts when we are in alignment with Him and when we are not. It is by this DNA imprint, this image we have been made after, that we can discern good from evil. That’s how we know that sin is an active living thing in a battle with our DNA and it seems to win a lot of the battles. Remember from which you have come from. You are made of good stuff, in the image of God. You have worth and value. At any moment, you can turn back and the Father will come running to you, because He knows your worth. He knows from who you’ve come from; Him (Josh).

Thoughts for the day

  • When last did you allow God to tell you how He sees you, and how valuable you are to Him?
  • What do you feel God is telling you through this passage?
  • How will you apply what God is telling you in your life today?
  • Is there someone you feel you need to tell this message to?

Prayer

Follow the ACTS acronym in prayer: Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, Supplication (Asking).

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By |2018-11-16T12:30:33+08:00November 22nd, 2018|Week 4|0 Comments

21 November 2018 – Romans 7:7-13 (NIV)

Scripture

What shall we say, then? Is the law sinful? Certainly not! Nevertheless, I would not have known what sin was had it not been for the law. For I would not have known what coveting really was if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.” But sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, produced in me every kind of coveting. For apart from the law, sin was dead. Once I was alive apart from the law; but when the commandment came, sin sprang to life and I died. 10 I found that the very commandment that was intended to bring life actually brought death. 11 For sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, deceived me, and through the commandment put me to death. 12 So then, the law is holy, and the commandment is holy, righteous and good.

13 Did that which is good, then, become death to me? By no means! Nevertheless, in order that sin might be recognized as sin, it used what is good to bring about my death, so that through the commandment sin might become utterly sinful.

Reflection

11 For sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, deceived me, and through the commandment put me to death.” This is an important reminder; Sin is the offender here, not the law. So many people would have you say that the Law is the reason there is sin. NO, not the case. Sin was already present; the law was only brought in to open our eyes to the lawlessness of sin. When someone is put on trial as a murder suspect it is not the weapon or object they used that is put on trial; it is the offender, the person who did the act of murder. Paul is clear here, Sin is a deceiver. Its purpose is to drag you into the grave alongside with it. It will do anything to persist in its ways, framing the good into bad, convincing people that the law was never needed. Don’t fall for it (Josh).

Thoughts for the day

  • In what way does sin deceive you in your life?
  • What do you feel God is telling you through this passage?
  • How will you apply what God is telling you in your life today?
  • Is there someone you feel you need to tell this message to?

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 |2018-11-16T12:25:55+08:00November 21st, 2018|Week 4|0 Comments

20 November 2018 – Romans 7:4-6 (NIV)

Scripture

So, my brothers and sisters, you also died to the law through the body of Christ, that you might belong to another, to him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit for God. For when we were in the realm of the flesh,[a] the sinful passions aroused by the law were at work in us, so that we bore fruit for death. But now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code.

Reflection

After nearly 40 years of living in the United States, my mother in law recently became a citizen of the US. For many reasons it was an amazing and emotional moment for our family. First, it meant that she was now fully recognized as a citizen of the country she had lived most her life in. Second, it meant she could now come visit us here in China and not encounter any political or legal issues. She was bound by the very laws that protected her as a political refugee and in one moment (upon her being sworn in as a citizen of the United States of America) she had been released by that old code and a new way of living was immediately opened to her! When Jesus died and rose again, He released us from those very things that meant to keep us safe but it also showed us that we could not do it on our own. We needed a savior. That’s the importance of salvation to a believer. Salvation is what allows us to live in the new way of the Spirit. It’s what allows us to be free from the things that once kept us bound or defined us. Salvation is our citizenship into the Kingdom of God (Josh).

Thoughts for the day

  • What do you feel God is telling you through this passage?
  • How will you apply what God is telling you in your life today?
  • Is there someone you feel you need to tell this message to?

Prayer

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28. Be still and allow the presence of Jesus to bring you rest right now.

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By |2018-11-16T12:18:10+08:00November 20th, 2018|Week 4|0 Comments

19 November 2018 – Romans 7:1-3 (NIV)

Scripture

Do you not know, brothers and sisters—for I am speaking to those who know the law—that the law has authority over someone only as long as that person lives? For example, by law a married woman is bound to her husband as long as he is alive, but if her husband dies, she is released from the law that binds her to him. So then, if she has sexual relations with another man while her husband is still alive, she is called an adulteress. But if her husband dies, she is released from that law and is not an adulteress if she marries another man.

Reflection

We often fear death. There’s a lot to be afraid of for sure. It’s easy to see death as a final moment, as the end. But what if death wasn’t the end and instead just part of the journey (a very important part for sure)? Paul uses this example of marriage and our release from this commitment upon death to help us reframe “death”. He is preparing us for the next important step in our journey; living a resurrected life through Jesus. There will be a literal death and resurrection but I believe there are figurative deaths that can happen in our lives as well. Let go of those things that you know God is telling you to let die, because resurrection can only follow death, it does not precede it (Josh).

Thoughts for the day

  • Is there anything you feel God is asking you to let go of and or to die to so that you can live a more fuller life?
  • What do you feel God is telling you through this passage?
  • How will you apply what God is telling you in your life today?
  • Is there someone you feel you need to tell this message to?

Prayer

Pray for those who are spiritually lost that they may surrender to the lordship of Jesus Christ and receive salvation in His name.

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By |2018-11-16T12:15:06+08:00November 19th, 2018|Week 4|0 Comments