Monthly Archives: March 2019

29 March 2019 – Luke 13:6-9 (NIV)

Scripture

Then he told this parable: “A man had a fig tree growing in his vineyard, and he went to look for fruit on it but did not find any. So he said to the man who took care of the vineyard, ‘For three years now I’ve been coming to look for fruit on this fig tree and haven’t found any. Cut it down! Why should it use up the soil?’

“‘Sir,’ the man replied, ‘leave it alone for one more year, and I’ll dig around it and fertilize it. If it bears fruit next year, fine! If not, then cut it down.’”

Reflection

In the Old Testament, a fruitful tree was often used as a symbol of godly living. If that’s so, how can we become fruitful? A tree doesn’t force itself to bear fruit (as far as my understanding of botany goes)!

And what does fruitfulness mean?

This reminds me of John 15… start with remaining in Christ, as He remains in us.

Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. (…) This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples. John 15:4, 8

It’s not just a matter of works, good deeds or how much we are doing in the name of Jesus, as it says in Matthew 7:21-23:

“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!”

Luke 13:6-9 is a warning for us to not just “use up the soil”. Has anything changed in your life (inwardly and outwardly) since you’ve given your life to Jesus? Why or why not? (Su).

Thoughts for the day

  • What does this passage tell you about God and Jesus?
  • What does this passage tell you about humanity?
  • What do you feel God is telling you through this passage?
  • How can you apply this message in an area of your life that needs transformation?
  • Is there anyone you think should hear or will benefit from this message? Go and tell them.

Prayer

As you travel on your daily journey, take a few minutes to pray through your day before it starts: any tricky classes, meetings or people you’ll encounter in your day. Then after your day is done, take time to give everything back to God again as you travel home.

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By |2019-03-22T11:10:07+08:00March 29th, 2019|Week 4|0 Comments

28 March 2019 – Luke 13:1-5 (NIV)

Scripture

Now there were some present at that time who told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. Jesus answered, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish. Or those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them—do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.”

Reflection

How quick do you pass judgment on others? How quick do you draw conclusions when calamity and/or tragic incidents happen? In the bible we can read about different instances when people were quick to judge others (remember Job and his friends?).

“But unless you repent, you too will all perish”. Was Jesus talking about them ending their lives tragically? Could be; but life as we live now will end no matter what. What’s worse than tragic physical death is a tragic spiritual death.

Four marks of true repentance are:

acknowledgement of wrong,

willingness to confess it,

willingness to abandon it,

and willingness to make restitution.

         – Corrie Ten Boom (Su).

Thoughts for the day

  • How quick do you pass judgement on others?
  • What do you feel God is telling you through this passage?
  • How can you apply this message in an area of your life that needs transformation?
  • Is there anyone you think should hear or will benefit from this message? Go and tell them.

Prayer

Take time to praise today. If you’ve got a phone and headphones, carve out time today to listen to worship music, or a song that helps you to connect with God. Start and end your regular routine with praise.

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By |2019-03-22T11:06:41+08:00March 28th, 2019|Week 4|0 Comments

27 March 2019 – Psalm 63:1-8 (NIV)

Scripture

You, God, are my God,
    earnestly I seek you;
I thirst for you,
    my whole being longs for you,
in a dry and parched land
    where there is no water.

I have seen you in the sanctuary
    and beheld your power and your glory.
Because your love is better than life,
    my lips will glorify you.
I will praise you as long as I live,
    and in your name I will lift up my hands.
I will be fully satisfied as with the richest of foods;
    with singing lips my mouth will praise you.

On my bed I remember you;
    I think of you through the watches of the night.
Because you are my help,
    I sing in the shadow of your wings.
I cling to you;
    your right hand upholds me.

Reflection

David wrote this psalm regarding a time when he was in the wilderness of Judah (possibly when he was fleeing from Absalom). What an encouragement to read these words!

Are you walking through the “wilderness” now? Feeling lonely, in a dark place, battling depression, being persecuted, fighting for life against illness, brokenhearted, hopeless, grieving over a big loss? Or maybe you know someone who is going through it. Keep this psalm close to your heart and mind.

In the midst of what David was going through he didn’t forget about God. On the contrary… he clung to Him (v.8a). Let us learn with David’s example (Su).

Thoughts for the day

  • Are you going through a difficult situation, and how much do you cling to God during this situation?
  • What do you feel God is telling you through this passage?
  • How can you apply this message in an area of your life that needs transformation?
  • Is there anyone you think should hear or will benefit from this message? Go and tell them.

Prayer

Use a specific part of your daily commute as a prayer prompt. Perhaps you pass the same landmark or station every day; or maybe your journey involves a few different types of transport. Build a connection, so that when you reach a certain part of your journey, you’re prompted to pray for a certain situation or people.

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By |2019-03-22T10:56:16+08:00March 27th, 2019|Week 4|0 Comments

26 March 2019 – Psalm 63:1-2 (NIV)

Scripture

You, God, are my God,
    earnestly I seek you;
I thirst for you,
    my whole being longs for you,
in a dry and parched land
    where there is no water.

I have seen you in the sanctuary
    and beheld your power and your glory.

Reflection

Feeling thirsty is a sensation that everyone and every animal is familiar with. It is an experience so common that few of us give it a second thought. In relation to the survival of an organism, thirst is incredibly important. Without water, most of the processes within the body will seize up.

How many times have you said: “I’m so hungry!” or “I’m so thirsty!”? For most of us that just means a few hours without food or water (and nowadays with all the delivery system we have in Shanghai, that can be solved quickly!).

David’s description of thirst comes from a place of deep need, earnestly seeking God, as seeking for water in the desert. Without it there is no life, no living. But David have seen God in power and glory, so he knows that it is in Him that he can have his needs met.

Let us come to our God thirsting for His Presence (Su).

Thoughts for the day

  • How badly do you thirst for God?
  • What does this passage tell you about God and Jesus?
  • What does this passage tell you about humanity?
  • What do you feel God is telling you through this passage?
  • How can you apply this message in an area of your life that needs transformation?
  • Is there anyone you think should hear or will benefit from this message? Go and tell them.

Prayer

Flick on a news site on your phone or computer and pray for a situation that is evolving today and the people involved.

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By |2019-03-22T10:51:18+08:00March 26th, 2019|Week 4|0 Comments

25 March 2019 – Isaiah 55:6 (NIV)

Scripture

Seek the Lord while he may be found;
    call on him while he is near.

Reflection

In the core of this season of Lent, an intentional time of self-examination and reflection, a time of repentance, fasting and preparation for the coming of Easter, is the active posture of seeking the Lord. The verses that precede verse 6 are an invitation to come ready to listen to Him, with the assurance that we will find life (v.3).

But what does it mean when it says “while he may be found”? Is He hiding from us?

We get a hint in verse 7 as it goes on by telling the wicked to change their ways and to turn to the Lord that he may have mercy on them. So, it’s more like a warning, an urgent call to turn back to Him, before wondering too far.

Have you ever done something that, at first, you used to feel uncomfortable, convicted that it was just not right by God’s standards, but then, as that pattern re-occurs over and over again, you felt less convicted, less bothered… unmoved, and experienced a hardened heart?

Take time to let Him remind you of what pleases Him.

Let the wicked change their ways and banish the very thought of doing wrong. Let them turn to the LORD that he may have mercy on them. Yes, turn to our God, for he will forgive generously. (Isaiah 55:7 NLT) (Su).

Thoughts for the day

  • Is there an area in your life that you need to repent before your heart becomes too hardened?
  • What does this passage tell you about God and Jesus?
  • What does this passage tell you about humanity?
  • What do you feel God is telling you through this passage?
  • How can you apply this message in an area of your life that needs transformation?
  • Is there anyone you think should hear or will benefit from this message? Go and tell them.

Prayer

Look around and pray. It’s easy to forget to pay attention when making the same journey every day. Use your travel time to look around and pray for what you see. Pray for the buildings you pass; the people you see, your fellow travelers. Invite God’s presence to show you your commute through His eyes.

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By |2019-03-22T10:40:08+08:00March 25th, 2019|Week 4|0 Comments

22 March 2019 – Luke 9:28-29 (NIV)

Scripture

28 About eight days after Jesus said this, he took Peter, John and James with him and went up onto a mountain to pray. 29 As he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became as bright as a flash of lightning

Reflection

What blows me away in this passage is that Peter (along with James and John) witnessed the amazing miracle of Jairus’ daughter being brought back to life and then now witnessing the transfiguration Jesus would eventually deny Jesus? Peter had witnessed all of Jesus’ ministry and yet in a desperate and stressful moment lied and then denied being one of Jesus’ disciples. I would like to think that I would be better in that moment than Peter, but honestly speaking, I don’t know! This is a good reminder for us that even the best fall and we all sin and fall short of the glory of God. We need the forgiveness of sins and the blood of Jesus to wash us clean and stand firm (Joshua).

Thoughts for the day

  • What does this passage tell you about God and Jesus?
  • What does this passage tell you about humanity?
  • What do you feel God is telling you through this passage?
  • How can you apply this message in an area of your life that needs transformation?
  • Is there anyone you think should hear or will benefit from this message? Go and tell them.

Prayer

Pray for focus; fix your eyes back to Jesus and acknowledge Him at the center of everything.

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By |2019-03-20T10:10:40+08:00March 22nd, 2019|Week 3|Comments Off on 22 March 2019 – Luke 9:28-29 (NIV)

21 March 2019 – Luke 13:34-35 (NIV)

Scripture

34 “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing. 35 Look, your house is left to you desolate. I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’ ”

Reflection

How heartbroken Jesus must have been to see his beloved Holy City turn into something exactly opposite of its glorious intention? God longed for Jerusalem and Israel to rest under the shadow of His wings, but they were not willing. Instead, it had become a place notorious for killing and stoning the prophets God had sent to them! But God is so good. We know that He is patiently waiting for His people to come back. Oh, he’ll let Jerusalem learn a lesson or two that’s for sure, but God is still waiting for Israel’s return to Him. And when they do, His arms will be wide open (Joshua).

Thoughts for the day

  • What does this passage tell you about God and Jesus?
  • Do you feel there is an area in your life where even God’s open arms aren’t enough anymore?
  • What do you feel God is telling you through this passage?
  • How can you apply this message in an area of your life that needs transformation?
  • Is there anyone you think should hear or will benefit from this message? Go and tell them.

Prayer

Pray for revelation: ask God to show you something of His character, presence or beauty where you are now.

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By |2019-03-20T10:06:48+08:00March 21st, 2019|Week 3|0 Comments

20 March 2019 – Luke 13:31-33 (NIV)

Scripture

31 At that time some Pharisees came to Jesus and said to him, “Leave this place and go somewhere else. Herod wants to kill you.” 32 He replied, “Go tell that fox, ‘I will keep on driving out demons and healing people today and tomorrow, and on the third day I will reach my goal.’ 33 In any case, I must press on today and tomorrow and the next day—for surely no prophet can die outside Jerusalem!

Reflection

Have you ever had unsolicited “advice” from people that you didn’t quite trust? Someone who had clearly made it known to you in earlier encounters that they did not like you, wanted you to be around or had ulterior agendas? And then sometime later, they came and tried to give you “friendly” advice? Jesus has a name for those people…Fox. Though Jesus is only addressing Herod as a fox in this passage, let it be known there were more than one in that den! The Pharisee’s came to Jesus as a “friend” to tell him of the possible (likely) scheme of Herod wanting to kill Jesus. They clearly had their own motives as well and as we know they too had blood on their hands. Jesus though, saw right through it. He had a mission and was set out to complete it. (Joshua).

Thoughts for the day

  • What does this passage tell you about God and Jesus?
  • What does this passage tell you about humanity?
  • What do you feel God is telling you through this passage?
  • How can you apply this message in an area of your life that needs transformation?
  • Is there anyone you think should hear or will benefit from this message? Go and tell them.

Prayer

Pray for courage; pray for opportunities to be courageously generous, loving and gracious to those around you today.

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By |2019-03-19T19:39:29+08:00March 20th, 2019|Week 3|0 Comments

19 March 2019 – Psalm 27:1 (NIV)

Scripture

The Lord is my light and my salvation—
    whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life—
    of whom shall I be afraid?

Reflection

It doesn’t matter who you are or how well put together you may be, sooner or later life catches up to you. And along with life comes difficulties, unexpected hardships and sometimes even enemies. Its easy to read this passage and declare it when you are in a good place, but the real test of faith is can you say this while being oppressed, persecuted, abandoned even? Thankfully, these are truths about God no matter the circumstance. All we have to do is believe and he will shine His light and salvation into our fearful hearts. All we have to do is trust and He will be a stronghold for you EVEN when you are afraid. I love how He works; we just have to believe, He does all the work! (Joshua).

Thoughts for the day

  • Are you going through hardships or difficulties and need to trust God to be your light and stronghold?
  • What do you feel God is telling you through this passage?
  • How can you apply this message in an area of your life that needs transformation?
  • Is there anyone you think should hear or will benefit from this message? Go and tell them.

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 |2019-03-18T22:16:37+08:00March 19th, 2019|Week 3|0 Comments

18 March 2019 – Genesis 15:1 (NIV)

Scripture

After this, the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision:

“Do not be afraid, Abram.
    I am your shield,
    your very great reward.”

Reflection

In the preceding chapter we read how Abram found himself overpowering four kings. Chapter 15 starts where God puts Abram’s anxieties to rest, by telling him not to fear. Scholars assert this consolation on God’s part refers back to the possible retaliation the four kings might exert on Abram. Through making such a statement God is 1) telling Abram not to fear for He will take care of him and 2) God knows Abram so well that He even knows his fears.

This is great reminder to us today that God knows us very well. He even knows our fears, but He’s calling us to surrender our fears to Him who is our shield and great reward (Joshua).

Thoughts for the day

  • What do you fear currently and are you willing to surrender your fear/s to God?
  • What do you feel God is telling you through this passage?
  • How can you apply this message in an area of your life that needs transformation?
  • Is there anyone you think should hear or will benefit from this message? Go and tell them.

Prayer

Bring to mind some of the qualities of God that you know to be true, then spend time giving thanks to God for who He is.

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By |2019-03-17T20:12:34+08:00March 18th, 2019|Week 3|0 Comments