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12 April 2019 – John 12:8 (NIV)

Scripture

You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me.”

Reflection

Yesterday we read Jesus’ response to Judas Iscariot’s question as seen in verse 5 namely ‘why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year’s wages’. Judas Iscariot wasn’t really concerned about the poor, but he was only thinking of himself. Verse 6 tells us he was a thief who helped himself from the moneybag, thus knowing the perfume is worth a year’s wages, he will benefit more from it.

With such a response (v.8) Jesus is not only revealing Judas Iscariot’s sinful nature, but also reminds those around him, not to get fixed on worldly concerns (even if it seems nobble like taking care of the poor), and in the midst of it all, forget about Him.

We can learn from this account that it’s easy to sometimes fool ourselves by justifying certain actions, regardless how noble it sounds, and forget about Jesus and seeking Him first. Let Jesus always search your heart to discover the real intentions behind your motives (Con).

Thoughts for the day

  • How easily can you justify your actions, regardless the degree of nobleness, to benefit your own personal interest?
  • 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 a specific situation where you need God’s presence. Invite the Holy Spirit into the place where you (or another) need help, guidance or peace.

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By |2019-04-11T09:33:08+08:00April 12th, 2019|Week 2|0 Comments

11 April 2019 – John 12:7 (NIV)

Scripture

“Leave her alone,” Jesus replied. “It was intended that she should save this perfume for the day of my burial.

Reflection

It’s interesting to note, this account as seen in chapter 12 occurs six days before Passover. There’s a direct correlation between the Old Testament’s Passover events and that of Jesus’ crucifixion. On the same day (10th day of the first month) the Israelites had to choose an unblemished lamb to be slaughtered for there sins. Jesus (being sinless and a substitute for the unblemished lamb) entered Jerusalem on a donkey. On the 14th day of the first month, the unblemished lamb had to be offered for the sins of the Israelites. On the 14th day Jesus was crucified for the sins of the whole world – once and for all.

It is with this in mind, that Jesus told the disciples; Mary saved the perfume (which was equivalent to one year’s of wages (v. 5) for his burial to show her respect and unconditional love towards him. Through this selfless and loving act of Mary, we can now join in Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection and know we too stand blameless before God due to what Jesus did on the cross for us (Con).

Thoughts for the day

  • 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 a renewed sense of the Holy Spirit with you.

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By |2019-04-10T11:18:35+08:00April 11th, 2019|Week 2|0 Comments

10 April 2019 – Philippians 3:12-14 (NIV)

Scripture

12 Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

Reflection

In these couple of verses, Paul encourages a Christian community to follow his example, to make Christ the center of their lives, whilst keeping the end goal/reward in mind – heaven. Paul understood that Christians may differ in their sentiments about various matters, but by employing the truth that Christ should be every Christian’s all, it forms the base for a like-minded attitude. Regardless of the smaller issues, Christians all have one truth in common which is to unite them and to help them overcome smaller issues since everyone’s main goal is to make Christ their all in all.

This is a great example for the church today, especially SCF that is made up of various countries, cultures, and denominations. Note, Paul is not saying it’s wrong to disagree on small matters, but for the sake of the unity of the body of Christ, keep this one truth in mind since it cuts through all barriers and produces a Christ like-minded attitude (Con).

Thoughts for the day

  • When you disagree with fellow Christians, how do you deal with it?
  • Knowing that as Christians we should strive towards making Christ our all in all, how will it help you to overcome smaller issues within a Christian community.
  • 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 (silently) for the people who are seated close to you as you read this.

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By |2019-04-09T20:23:13+08:00April 10th, 2019|Week 2|0 Comments

09 April 2019 – Psalm 126:5-6 (NIV)

Scripture

Those who sow with tears
    will reap with songs of joy.
Those who go out weeping,
    carrying seed to sow,
will return with songs of joy,
    carrying sheaves with them.

Reflection

Yesterday we read, how the author encouraged Israel that God has not forgotten about them in the midst of their captivity in Babylon. In today’s passage we read a response in reference to Israel’s deliverance and return out of Babylon. This psalm is not only speaking about the physical return out of captivity from Babylon, but it also points towards the spiritual return out of captivity from sin. The author parallels both these two themes along side each other, to indicate 1) those who have returned out of captivity are called to be thankful (Ps. 126:1-3) and 2) those Israelites who have yet to return from captivity are prayed for (v.4) and are encouraged (vv.5-6).

What we can learn from this passage is 1) to be thankful for Christ’s redemption in our lives 2) to continue to pray for and to encourage those who are not yet believers, and or those who are believers who find themselves in a difficult place to keep faith and hope in the One who saves us (Con).

Thoughts for the day

  • In which category do you find yourself currently (1, 2 or both?) and what should your response be?
  • 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

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 |2019-04-04T11:59:40+08:00April 9th, 2019|Week 2|0 Comments

08 April 2019 – Isaiah 43:18-19 (NIV)

Scripture

18 “Forget the former things;
    do not dwell on the past.
19 See, I am doing a new thing!
    Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
    and streams in the wasteland.

Reflection

Chapter 43 is written to the Israelites who currently find themselves in captivity in Babylon, but the author writes to encourage them and to let them know God has not forgotten about them.

Verse 18 is a reference to verses 16 and 17 where God freed the Israelites from Pharaoh’s oppression. Often for the encouragement of our faith and hope we need to be reminded of events in the past that speaks of God’s faithfulness, so that it can boost our current faith and hope. But for the author to state in verse 18 to forget about the former things, is not to discredit the principle in verses 16 and 17, but to reassure the audience, God’s mercies are new every day. They don’t have to hold onto ‘old’ mercies that belong to previous generations, similar to hand-me-downs; but God has fresh and new mercies for them. He is doing a new thing in their lives.

In a similar way, be reminded of past events in your life to boost your faith, but don’t cling to them. God has new mercies for you each day. Open up your heart and see what new things He has in store for you (Con).

Thoughts for the day

  • How do you boost your faith and hope?
  • 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

“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 |2019-04-04T11:56:50+08:00April 8th, 2019|Week 2|0 Comments

05 April 2019 – Luke 15:31-32 (NIV)

Scripture

31 “‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. 32 But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’”

Reflection

God loves his children. He also enjoys to be and to work with us. However, God also loves those who do not yet consider themselves children of God. He wants them to be apart of His family and to experience his love and forgiveness.

This is God’s mission and as believers that’s our mission too – to help people know God and to make him known.

All around us we see people whom have strayed from God and or who doesn’t know Him – very much like the prodigal son. In the same way that the father of the prodigal son was waiting for his son to return, in the same way God waits for his lost children to return. It is our mission to tell those who are lost or who have strayed, about the father’s love and forgiveness and that He is waiting with open arms to accept them back into his family (Woowon).

Thoughts for the day

  • Do you consider God’s mission to be your mission?
  • 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 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 |2019-04-03T12:17:42+08:00April 5th, 2019|Week 1|0 Comments

04 April 2019 – Luke 15:1-2 (NIV)

Scripture

Now the tax collectors and sinners were all gathering around to hear Jesus. But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”

Reflection

Church community is very good. On Sundays, you experience great praise and worship music and great sermons. There are various activities to take part in and in community groups, you study the Bible with friends who become like your family and enjoy awesome friendships. Christian community plays a vital role in our lives in Shanghai.

However, if we think of a church community only in this way, we are missing the real reason behind Christian community. During Jesus’ time, the community of God was Israel, just as the church is today. Israeli society consisted of social classes and as long as one stayed within your social class, all was good.

But, Jesus did not meet only those in his class; he also crossed the social barriers and socialized with the marginalized, the tax collectors, the sinners, and the prostitute. In Luke 15:3, we read Jesus words “I’m here to find the lost sheep.”

The head of the church is Jesus Christ, and the church community must follow Jesus’ intentions and imitate him. Therefore, the church must proclaim the Gospel to those outside of our Christian community and introduce the joy of Christian fellowship to those who do not know him (Woowon)

Thoughts for the day

  • Do you keep the gospel only to yourself and to your Christian community?
  • 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 the people of China.

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By |2019-04-03T12:13:34+08:00April 4th, 2019|Week 1|0 Comments

03 April 2019 – Psalm 32:10-11 (NIV)

Scripture

10 Many are the woes of the wicked,
    but the Lord’s unfailing love
    surrounds the one who trusts in him.

11 Rejoice in the Lord and be glad, you righteous;
    sing, all you who are upright in heart!

Reflection

The world is full of good and bad, and it is hard to sometimes tell the difference between what is good (righteous) and what is bad (evil). To make things even more complicated, the question ‘what defines good or bad, or what constitutes something to be good or bad, is often viewed by people as relative. The standards for what renders something right to one person might differ from the other. The basis for the word righteousness is derived form the word ‘right’. For Christians to know what is right and wrong, we don’t have to decide for ourselves. God sets the standards. He defines what is considered right or wrong. By reading the Bible, being in fellowship with fellow believers, and through prayer, our understanding of God’s righteousness becomes clearer and we will be able to live according to God’s standards. Living a righteous life doesn’t only bring glory to God, but it gives us joy too (Woowon)

Thoughts for the day

  • Who or what determines your standards for right or wrong?
  • 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 you right now at the people who are sitting near you or standing and pray for them.

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By |2019-04-01T12:31:19+08:00April 3rd, 2019|Week 1|0 Comments

02 April 2019 – Psalm 32:1-2 (NIV)

Scripture

Blessed is the one
    whose transgressions are forgiven,
    whose sins are covered.
Blessed is the one
    whose sin the Lord does not count against them
    and in whose spirit is no deceit.

Reflection

We all make mistakes in our lives. We also commit sin. We know very well mistakes has the potential to ruin our lives. So the burden falls on us to make sure we don’t make mistakes or commit sins. But it is not easy. No matter how hard we try, we cannot seem to live a life free of mistakes and sin.

However, what if we could be forgiven for all the sins and mistakes in our lives? What if we can receive complete forgiveness from the sins and mistakes that can and has ruined our lives? If so, we could live without worry and fear knowing fully well the consequence of sin leads to death. How do you think this life measures up in comparison to what we will experience when we are with God?

David made many mistakes and committed the various sins (including adultery and murder). But he repented to God and God forgave him. There’s no sin or mistake too big for God not to forgive. As a result of this amazing forgiveness, David wrote today’s Psalm. David’s life, which initially led to not only physical death but also eternal death, was restored through God’s forgiveness. God always want to forgive our sins and mistakes just like David.

But what’s equally exciting is we could share the joy of forgiveness. There are lot of people around us, who need our forgiveness and God’s forgiveness. The Lord’s Prayer teaches us to forgive other’s debts in the same way that God forgives our debts (Woowon)

Thoughts for the day

  • Is there any sin in your life that you need to repent and ask God for forgiveness?
  • Is there anyone else you need to forgive that has harmed you?
  • 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 the leaders of the nations of the world. Pray for the leader of your home country by name.

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By |2019-04-01T12:27:57+08:00April 2nd, 2019|Week 1|0 Comments

01 April 2019 – Joshua 5:9-12 (NIV)

Scripture

Then the Lord said to Joshua, “Today I have rolled away the reproach of Egypt from you.” So the place has been called Gilgal to this day.

10 On the evening of the fourteenth day of the month, while camped at Gilgal on the plains of Jericho, the Israelites celebrated the Passover. 11 The day after the Passover, that very day, they ate some of the produce of the land: unleavened bread and roasted grain. 12 The manna stopped the day after they ate this food from the land; there was no longer any manna for the Israelites, but that year they ate the produce of Canaan.

Reflection

We all have a certain identity. And we feel lost and confused when we can’t live it out. We, who believe in Jesus, also have the identity from God. We should feel the same when we lose this identity.

Israel had been enslaved for a long time in Egypt. They could not keep their identity during their time of slavery in Egypt, because they could not be circumcised. Circumcision had been a traditional ritual for Israelites to protect their identity from God since before the time of slavery; this situation made them feel shameful.

“Gilgal” was where the Israelites’ identity, “the beloved people of God” had been restored. It was also a place away from their shame of not living according to God’s people. With their identity being restored now they were ready to live in Canaan, a secular place with God’s mission.

Similarly, we are not slaves of the world anymore. We are God’s people living in this world. By living and knowing our identity in God, we can also live in this world and be a partaker of God’s mission (Woowon).

Thoughts for the day

  • Is there any sin that I should be forgiven by God now? Let’s pray for repentance before God.What does this passage tell you about God and Jesus?
  • Is there anyone I should forgive now? Let’s pray before God to forgive them
  • 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

Ask God to deliver you from your troubles to protect you from the evil one and deliver you from temptation.

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By |2019-04-01T08:45:05+08:00April 1st, 2019|Week 1|0 Comments