Week 1

7 December 2018 – 1 Thessalonians 3:11-13 (NIV)

Scripture

11 Now may our God and Father himself and our Lord Jesus clear the way for us to come to you. 12 May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else, just as ours does for you. 13 May he strengthen your hearts so that you will be blameless and holy in the presence of our God and Father when our Lord Jesus comes with all his holy ones.

Reflection

In the closing of this chapter we read a prayer Paul wrote to the Thessalonians (since Paul couldn’t have been there physically himself – see chapter 2:18). From this prayer we can learn two things that we can include in our daily prayers. Firstly, Paul prayers that God will make a way for him to visit the Thessalonians. Yes, Paul can as easily decide to visit them, however Paul understood the importance of prayer and the desire to do God’s will. For in God we live, and move, and have our being. The second point we can learn from this payer is that Paul desired for the Thessalonians (and something that we should desire for ourselves too) is to increase and abound in love towards one another (referring to the Thessalonians believers) and to all men (Con).

Thoughts for the day

  • When you have to make decisions, how often do you pray before you act?
  • When you pray, do you only pray for yourself and your needs or for the others (believers and non-believers?

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 |2018-12-05T12:20:14+08:00December 7th, 2018|Week 1|0 Comments

6 December 2018 – Psalm 25:1-10 (NIV)

Scripture

In you, Lord my God,
    I put my trust.

I trust in you;
    do not let me be put to shame,
    nor let my enemies triumph over me.
No one who hopes in you
    will ever be put to shame,
but shame will come on those
    who are treacherous without cause.

Show me your ways, Lord,
    teach me your paths.
Guide me in your truth and teach me,
    for you are God my Savior,
    and my hope is in you all day long.
Remember, Lord, your great mercy and love,
    for they are from of old.
Do not remember the sins of my youth
    and my rebellious ways;
according to your love remember me,
    for you, Lord, are good.

Good and upright is the Lord;
    therefore he instructs sinners in his ways.
He guides the humble in what is right
    and teaches them his way.
10 All the ways of the Lord are loving and faithful
    toward those who keep the demands of his covenant.

Reflection

David, who wrote the Psalms, starts this psalm by declaring how he puts his trust in God. Not in circumstances, people or worldly things. It is because of this trust and confidence in God’s promises and His character, that David can say in verse 2 and 3; no shame will over take him. However it is worth noting that God isn’t a genie that one could ask certain favours and once it’s been granted you depart from God. We clearly see in the remaining of these verses how David is asking God to show and teach him God’s ways and commandments, to guide him in the truth and to remind him of God’s love and how impossible it is for David to achieve any of this on his own account. It’s because God saved David from his sins, that David can now have the confidence to put his faith and trust in God, who would also redeem him and rescue him from shame. What a great psalm to pray to God and praise His great name (Con).

Thoughts for the day

  • What do you define trust as and do you fully trust God with all of your life?
  • How often in your prayer time do you view God as a genie?
  • Do you worship God for who He is or what He can do or give to you?

Prayer

Grab your camera and go for a prayer walk with the intention of taking photos of the beauty you see in people, buildings and nature. As you pray, ask God to speak and reveal more of His creativity to you.

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By |2018-12-05T12:15:42+08:00December 6th, 2018|Week 1|0 Comments

5 December 2018 – Jeremiah 33:14-16 (NIV)

Scripture

14 “‘The days are coming,’ declares the Lord, ‘when I will fulfill the good promise I made to the people of Israel and Judah.

15 “‘In those days and at that time
    I will make a righteous Branch sprout from David’s line;
    he will do what is just and right in the land.
16 In those days Judah will be saved
    and Jerusalem will live in safety.
This is the name by which it will be called:
    The Lord Our Righteous Savior.’

Reflection

In these couple of verses we see a prophecy that is timeless. In chapter 33 the prophet Jeremiah prophesied what Judah and Jerusalem would experience once they’ve returned from captivity. He declares both these two kingdoms of Israel will see their country being rebuilt to its former glory, their sins being pardoned, and their country enjoy adequacy and joy, all for the glory of God.

In a similar manner, the prophet also continues by announcing this good news is not only for Israel, but also for all those who put their faith in Jesus Christ (the righteous Branch from David’ line). We too can be restored to out former glory (the way God made us before we sinned). Our sins can also be pardoned and our lives can also be joyful all for God’s glory.

As post New Testament believers we are in a very privilege position since we read Jeremiah’s words and we also get to see in the New Testament it being fulfilled. What an incredible surety we have in this marvelous book called the Bible (Con).

Thoughts for the day

  • Is there anything in the Bible that you doubt or causes you to fully trust in God’s love for you?
  • Do you live a life that reflects Jeremiah’s prophecy of Israel?

Prayer

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

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By |2018-12-01T13:43:39+08:00December 5th, 2018|Week 1|0 Comments

4 December 2018 – Luke 21:34-36 (NIV)

Scripture

34 “Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you suddenly like a trap. 35 For it will come on all those who live on the face of the whole earth. 36 Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man.”

Reflection

These 3 verses follows yesterday’s parable of the second coming of Jesus Christ. Here Jesus is cautioning and counseling us at the same time that even though one will be able to realize the second coming is drawing near based on the signs. It is still very much possible to miss the signs based on everyday life issues. These verses also clearly state no one who lives on the earth will escape the second coming. Don’t be weighted down by life’s problems. Cast them on Christ so that you will know with surety (based on what Jesus did on the cross) that you will also stand one day before the Son of Man when he comes (Con).

Thoughts for the day

  • Are there any issues or problems that are currently weighing you down? Are you willing to cast it on Jesus?
  • Who do you know who should hear this message?

Prayer

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

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By |2018-12-01T13:38:17+08:00December 4th, 2018|Week 1|0 Comments

3 December 2018 – Luke 21:29-33 (NIV)

Scripture

29 He told them this parable: “Look at the fig tree and all the trees. 30 When they sprout leaves, you can see for yourselves and know that summer is near. 31 Even so, when you see these things happening, you know that the kingdom of God is near.

32 “Truly I tell you, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened. 33 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.

Reflection

In these couple of verses Jesus uses a parable to explain the awereness of the second coming. In the same way one knows summer is near based on the the leaves of a fig tree that is sprouting. Similarly, one will also know the second coming of Jesus is near based on the end time signs that are happing. See Luke 21:25-28 for more information regarding the signs for the end times.

This parable also links up very well with the Advent season we are entering. Advent is a time of expectant waiting and preparation for the celebration of the Nativity of Jesus at Christmas as well as the return of Jesus at the second coming. Advent commences on the fourth Sunday before Christmas. This is a great way to start preparing your heart for what Christ has done for you on the cross and the surety that he will come again on a cloud with power and great glory (Con).

Thoughts for the day

  • In what way do you sense God wants you to prepare (either through prayer or fasting) in anticipation of Jesus’ birth?
  • Which areas of your life are you the most thankful for when it comes to the redemptive power of the cross?

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 |2018-12-01T13:34:50+08:00December 3rd, 2018|Week 1|0 Comments

2 November 2018 – Romans 4:16-17 (NIV)

Scripture

16 Therefore, the promise comes by faith, so that it may be by grace and may be guaranteed to all Abraham’s offspring—not only to those who are of the law but also to those who have the faith of Abraham. He is the father of us all. 17 As it is written: “I have made you a father of many nations.”[a] He is our father in the sight of God, in whom he believed—the God who gives life to the dead and calls into being things that were not.

Reflection

Many of us like to research our lineage. Websites like Ancestry.com and 23andme.com are popular for people who want to know more about their ancestors and, by extension, themselves. In this passage, Paul tells us that we are the spiritual offspring of Abraham. As we accept God’s grace and walk in faith, we are adopted into God’s family and can enjoy the promised inheritance.

But our inheritance is not money, land or title. It is life. It is the power of a God who “calls into being things that were not.” We serve a God of miracles. A God who sent His one and only son to die on a cross to defeat death itself. And His gift to us is eternal life as we put our trust in Him (Charlie).

Thoughts for the day

  • What does it mean to be a descendant of Abraham?
  • How are you claiming your inheritance?
  • In what ways has God “called into being things that were not” in your own life?

Prayer

Pray and give thanks for:
…the truth of these words, “God with us”
…the impact of the birth of Jesus,
…the reality that God is with us, now.

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By |2018-11-02T11:00:57+08:00November 2nd, 2018|Week 1|0 Comments

1 November 2018 – Romans 4:13-15 (NIV)

Scripture

13 It was not through the law that Abraham and his offspring received the promise that he would be heir of the world, but through the righteousness that comes by faith. 14 For if those who depend on the law are heirs, faith means nothing and the promise is worthless, 15 because the law brings wrath. And where there is no law there is no transgression.

Reflection

It is natural for us to want to ‘earn’ our salvation. We all have a tendency to do good things and then think that we are more deserving of Heaven. Even when we know the truth of the Gospel, it is easy to think that “if I can memorize five verses a day, I will be a better Christian;” or “if I give more than 10%, God will reward me;” or “if I attend church every Sunday, I can call myself a Christian.” But the starting point for our relationship with God is not doing things. The starting point is believing in Him and trusting His grace.

Our righteousness comes by faith.

So, what is the purpose of the law if not to help us become good? Here Paul writes that the law actually brings wrath. By that he means that the law shows us that we are sinners and in need of forgiveness. Paul wrote this to those who see the law and think, “Here is a list of rules that, if followed properly, will make me righteous.” No! Paul is saying that the laws should humble us and point us to the need for a savior.

But that doesn’t mean our actions don’t matter. While our acts can’t save us, they should be a response to the grace we receive. We should be hungry to read the Bible, we should be inspired to give generously and we should crave regular fellowship. But those things are manifestations of our faith rather than acts the qualify us. If we call ourselves believers, but our lives don’t reflect our calling, we should turn back to God and focus on His gift of salvation to transform our lives anew (Charlie).

Thoughts for the day

  • Do you feel convicted when you read the Bible? If so, how? If not, why?
  • Is your faith built on following rules or your faith in God? When have you fallen into the trap of believing your actions make you good?
  • How are you inspired to follow God? In what specific ways does your life reflect your faith?

Prayer

Pray this prayer today: (from Common Radicals) “May the peace of the Lord Christ go with me: wherever He may send me; may He guide me through the wilderness: protect me through the storm; may He bring me home rejoicing: at the wonders He has shown me; may He bring me home rejoicing: once again into my door”

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By |2018-10-26T10:04:49+08:00November 1st, 2018|Week 1|0 Comments

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