Week 3

16 November 2018 – Romans 6:19-23 (NIV)

Scripture

19 I am using an example from everyday life because of your human limitations. Just as you used to offer yourselves as slaves to impurity and to ever-increasing wickedness, so now offer yourselves as slaves to righteousness leading to holiness. 20 When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the control of righteousness. 21 What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death! 22 But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Reflection

In the last couple of verses of chapter 6 Paul is explaining the magnificent result of choosing to become a slave to grace. In verse 22 and 23 Paul states not only is the benefit the readers gain from choosing grace holiness and righteousness – which far outweighs the consequences of sin, but by choosing grace over the Law, it also leads to eternal life. How comforting and amazing this gift of grace is from God. Not only can you currently enjoy a life of righteousness and holiness, but you also get to experience it for all eternity in the presence of God. I don’t know about you, but after reading Paul argument, choosing grace over Law, seems like a no brainer to me (Con).

Thoughts for the day

  • In which areas are you still struggling to fully surrender you life to Christ?
  • 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 nation of China.

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By |2018-11-09T11:47:41+08:00November 16th, 2018|Week 3|0 Comments

15 November 2018 – Romans 6:15-18 (NIV)

Scripture

What then? Shall we sin because we are not under the law but under grace? By no means! 16 Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey—whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness? 17 But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you have come to obey from your heart the pattern of teaching that has now claimed your allegiance. 18 You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.

Reflection

Again we see how Paul is using a question, as the case in chapter 6:1, to answer an almost obvious rational follow-up question (which the readers at that time most likely brought up). In these verses Paul is making a claim that it doesn’t matter what you end up choosing the Law or grace, be default you will end up being a slave to one of the two. You cannot serve two masters at the same time. At the end your priorities, lifestyle, and behaviors will most likely reveal which side you are on. Paul is arguing, since by default we will end up being a salve to either the Law or grace, why not choose and live a life where you are a slave to obedience (grace) since this allegiance ultimately leads to righteousness – which is pleasing to God.

Paul is reminding his readers that rationality used to justify our actions always falls one way or the other. We can never serve two masters at the same time. We can’t live a double life (Con).

Thoughts for the day

  • Do you sometimes reason rationally certain actions in your life that could lead to sin, and forget that at the end you can only serve one master?
  • 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

Look around you right now at the people who are sitting near you or standing and pray for them.

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By |2018-11-09T11:43:31+08:00November 15th, 2018|Week 3|0 Comments

14 November 2018 – Romans 6:11-14 (NIV)

Scripture

11 In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. 12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. 13 Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness. 14 For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace.

Reflection

Paul is making a statement in verse 14 to his readers that sin shall no longer be their master. He continues to answer this statement by asserting it’s because they are not under the law (the Torah) anymore but under grace?

God is a holy God and nothing unholy can be in His presence. That’s why you read in the Old Testament how the Jews had to sacrifice blameless animals to atone for their sins. But how did the Jews know they sinned. The Law informed them when they sinned. The Law revealed to the Jews that they couldn’t out of their own power comply with all the laws in an effort to be sinless (holy) in order to be in God’s presence. Thus, the law made the Jews aware of their sins. But it was through God’s precious act of grace that he sent Jesus (who is holy) to be sacrificed on the cross not only for the Jews but for the gentiles too. And as a result we can now be in God’s holy presence based on what God has done through Jesus Christ on the cross. And since we are united with Christ through his death and resurrection, sin that leads to eternal death, has no power over us. It is from a place of this revelation and thankfulness that Paul is asking the readers to offer their lives as an instrument of righteousness to God for what he has already done (Con).

Thoughts for the day

  • Do you still live at times as if you live under the Law (this can be in the form of a tradition, cultural upbringing etc.)?
  • Do you aim to live a righteous life because you feel you have to o from out of a place of thankfulness of what God has done through Christ on the cross for you?
  • 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 the nations of the world. Pray for the leader of your home country.

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By |2018-11-09T11:38:30+08:00November 14th, 2018|Week 3|0 Comments

13 November 2018 – Romans 6:5-10 (NIV)

Scripture

For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin— because anyone who has died has been set free from sin.

Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. 10 The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God.

Reflection

What a powerful statement Paul makes in verses 8-10. Based on the previous chapters on justification and yesterday’s reading we know that we used to live an old life (that resulted in us being slaves to sin). But since we gave our lives to Christ, we now live a new life (one where sin is no longer a master over us). Does it mean we don’t sin at all? By no means, but without Christ’s death, sin still would’ve reigned over us and we know the penalty of sin is death (eternal). But since we are now united with Christ (by being saved), we also share in his resurrection. Thus since, Christ died once and for all to sin and death no longer has a mastery over him, likewise, sin has no mastery over us because we are united with him and death (eternal) has no hold on us either. We can also now like Christ live for God fully (Con).

Thoughts for the day

  • In which areas in your life does sin still have a hold over your life?
  • What steps will you take (apart from the help of the Holy Spirit) to walk freely in Jesus’s freedom?
  • 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

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 |2018-11-09T11:35:20+08:00November 13th, 2018|Week 3|0 Comments

12 November 2018 – Romans 6:1-4 (NIV)

Scripture

What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.

Reflection

Chapter 6 of the book of Romans starts a new theme in Paul’s letter to the Romans. The first 5 chapters Paul addressed the topic of justification and now he continues to address the topic of sanctification (to be set apart to be holy or to become more like Jesus).

This chapter starts with a question, which refers back to chapter 5:20-21 in anticipation to an – obvious – follow-up thought originating from verses 20-21. The premise of this thought advocates for a free reign to commit sin, since chapter 5:20-21 explicitly states where sin increases grace increases as well. However in chapter 6:1-4 Paul is countering this premise with two points. The first he argues since we have died to our old life (which included living in sin as if we don’t care or being unaware of it) why would we continue to live as if we are still apart of that life. Especially since we have now a new life in Christ and we laid down the old life. Secondly, Paul is starting to unpack the concept of sanctification to his readers and how such a new life in Christ looks like.

Through these 4 verses Paul is reminding his readers to be saved doesn’t exempt them from living their lives as they please and justifying their act with the premise ‘where sin increases, grace also increases’. But instead with the help of the Holy Spirit to live a life that reflects Jesus’ holiness (Con).

Thoughts for the day

  • In which areas of your life do you live as if you still belong to your old life?
  • Do you sometimes justify your actions based on the premise of ‘where sin increases, grace also increases’?
  • 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

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 |2018-11-09T11:31:36+08:00November 12th, 2018|Week 3|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