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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

17 October 2018 – Romans 2:12-16 (NIV)

Scripture

12 All who sin apart from the law will also perish apart from the law, and all who sin under the law will be judged by the law. 13 For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God’s sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous. 14 (Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law. 15 They show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts sometimes accusing them and at other times even defending them.) 16 This will take place on the day when God judges people’s secrets through Jesus Christ, as my gospel declares.

Reflection

No matter who you are, what religion you follow or not follow, whatever country you come from; you have an internal barometer of righteousness. That is why when tragedies such as mass shootings, wars or social injustice occur, people are saddened or there is a rally of the people to stand up and fight. Our barometers might be skewed in the wrong way due to our sin, but God created us in a way where we can sense something is unjust or wrong. That is what Paul is talking about verse 14-15, “14 Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law. 15 They show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts sometimes accusing them and at other times even defending them.” Though the tone is somber, when I read this it gives me hope, because it reminds me of where we come from and where God intends for us to eventually return to. It is a beautiful reminder of our connection to our author and creator, God (Josh).

Thoughts for the day

  • What does this passage tell you about God and people?
  • 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

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 |2018-10-17T11:55:12+08:00October 17th, 2018|Week 3|0 Comments

16 October 2018 – Romans 2:5-11 (NIV)

Scripture

But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed.

He will render to each one according to his works: to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; but for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury. There will be tribulation and distress for every human being who does evil, the Jew first and also the Greek, 10 but glory and honor and peace for everyone who does good, the Jew first and also the Greek. 11 For God shows no partiality.

Reflection

As humans we are naturally inclined to be stubborn and unrepentant and in doing so distance ourselves from God. But I love how Paul uses the word ‘persistence’ here. Doing the right thing, living righteously, honoring God, seeking His glory are things we must intentionally exercise. We have to persist at these ways of God, because our natural human tendencies lean back towards stubbornness to do things our way which leads to wrath and destructive behavior. Like all exercise, there is a little pain involved. The intense exercise breaks down your old muscles to build them back up stronger. You might wake up sore the next day (figuratively speaking), but be reminded that you are indeed strengthening your spiritual core! (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

Then after your day is done, take time to give everything back to God again as you travel home. Remember that God knows, cares about and values every part of your life, and is actively at work within it.

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By |2018-10-12T12:22:33+08:00October 16th, 2018|Week 3|0 Comments

15 October 2018 – Romans 2:1-4 (NIV)

Scripture

Therefore you have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges. For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things. We know that the judgment of God rightly falls on those who practice such things. Do you suppose, O man—you who judge those who practice such things and yet do them yourself—that you will escape the judgment of God? Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?

Reflection

Let us be sure of two definitions here. The first is of the word ‘judgment’. It is of the most importance that we realize that this is the judgment of God, which follows death. That is the judgment to come, and it will come. But for now, we are living in His grace and God in His ultimate mercy gives grace right up until the very end! The second is of the word ‘truth’; the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Today, truth has become a very relative term. What is true for one may not be true for another. But Paul lays it down clearly; there is one truth. That is Jesus and what is found in scripture. Be on guard against lowering your definition of truth (Josh)

Thoughts for the day

  • How do the things you believe in hold up to the Bible and Jesus?
  • 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

Look around, It’s easy to forget to pay attention when making the same journey to work or school every day. Use your travel time to look around and pray for what you see. Pray for the businesses 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 |2018-10-12T12:20:15+08:00October 15th, 2018|Week 3|0 Comments

12 October 2018 – Romans 1:28-32 (NIV)

Scripture

28 Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done. 29 They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; 31 they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy. 32 Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.

Reflection

In these verses Paul continues to depict what it looks like when people suppress the truth. They are given over to their deprived minds. They start to justify their own wickedness. An example of this is when the Pharisees and Sadducees were able to justify to themselves it’s OK to arrange Jesus’ betrayal and execution. They knew the Law said it’s wrong to give false testimonies and to murder, yet they continued to follow through on their plan. The scary thing about being given over to our own depraved minds are that people who are in a similar position tend to agree with our actions and encourage it. That is why it’s a good idea to keep Christian fellowship and to keep us accountable (Con).

Thoughts for the day

  • Do you have any Christian friends or a group that keeps you accountable?
  • 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 |2018-10-08T12:47:29+08:00October 12th, 2018|Week 2|0 Comments

11 October 2018 – Romans 1:26-27 (NIV)

Scripture

26 Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. 27 In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.

Reflection

These are just a few examples of what happens when God withdraws his grace from people and give them over to their sinful and shameful lusts. It also depicts how evil human beings’ thoughts and actions are when we are left to our own accord and our own way of thinking. We think what we do is good and we can justify it, but at the end as the verse mentions, we will receive the due penalty for our error when Yahweh will judge us for all we have done (Con).

Thoughts for the day

  • Are their any sexual sin in your life that you need to surrender or ask God for forgiveness?
  • What will you do to avoid falling into that sin again?
  • 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 leaders of SCF; Elders, Ministry leaders, Staff, Community Group Leaders and all those who serve.

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By |2018-10-08T12:44:49+08:00October 11th, 2018|Week 2|0 Comments

10 October 2018 – Romans 1:24-25 (NIV)

Scripture

24 Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. 25 They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.

Reflection

Paul elaborates as to why people end up doing what they do. Through suppressing the truth and through allowing their hearts to become futile and darkened, God gives them over to their sinful and wicked ways. This can happened in a number of ways (see tomorrow’s devotion). But the bottom line is, even as Christians we would often exchange the truth about God (that He is all we need) with a lie (if only I can be married, I will be happy or the immediate sexual pleasure or thought would be greater that knowing God’s all powerful and peaceful presence). We end up worshiping the thought or action instead of God himself.  (Con).

Thoughts for the day

  • In what way/s do you worship or serve created things, instead of the Creator?
  • 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 |2018-10-08T12:41:44+08:00October 10th, 2018|Week 2|0 Comments

9 October 2018 – Romans 1:21-23 (NIV)

Scripture

21 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles.

Reflection

This is a great example that a person can know (intellectually) God, but not have a personal relationship with him, similarly as the case with the Sadducees and the Pharisees. Both these two groups, knew the Torah very well, but failed to see Jesus as the Messiah. Their hearts became futile and darkened. Even to the point where they eventually arranged Jesus’ own execution. They claimed to be wise and know the Law very well, but they ultimately exchanged the glory of God with religious laws and customs. In a similar way, the audience of Paul’s letter lived in a world where multiple idols and deities were worshiped (all made in the images of human beings, birds and animals). Paul warns the Christians not to be influenced by the world and by the way these people live. Rather to dedicate their lives to God alone and desire to know him personally (not only on an intellectual level). Remember idols come in various forms. What is your idol? Con).

Thoughts for the day

  • Do you have a real relationship with God, or do you only know a lot about him?
  • 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

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

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By |2018-10-08T12:51:46+08:00October 9th, 2018|Week 2|0 Comments