Week 4

26 April 2019 – Mark 15:42-47 (NIV)

Scripture

42 It was Preparation Day (that is, the day before the Sabbath). So as evening approached, 43 Joseph of Arimathea, a prominent member of the Council, who was himself waiting for the kingdom of God, went boldly to Pilate and asked for Jesus’ body. 44 Pilate was surprised to hear that he was already dead. Summoning the centurion, he asked him if Jesus had already died. 45 When he learned from the centurion that it was so, he gave the body to Joseph. 46 So Joseph bought some linen cloth, took down the body, wrapped it in the linen, and placed it in a tomb cut out of rock. Then he rolled a stone against the entrance of the tomb. 47 Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joseph saw where he was laid.

Reflection

Verse 44 might at first glance seem like just another sentence in the Bible forming part of the overall narrative of Jesus’ burial. However, due to this sentence, it disproves and eliminates any objection of any kind concerning Jesus’ resurrection and the fact that he never died. Pilate’s request for a medical confirmation of Jesus’ death (and not just taking Joseph of Arimathea’s word) confirms the truth that Jesus was dead.

Jesus’ resurrection is fundamental to the Gospel. Without His resurrection, it would’ve been just another death on Golgotha. But because Jesus died and rose again, death has no hold over Christians who profess Jesus as their Lord and Savior. Similarly, we too will resurrect after we passed away. We are not immune to physical death, but because of Jesus, we are exempt from eternal spiritual death (Con).

Thoughts for the day

  • What does this passage tell you about God or 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

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 |2019-04-25T10:33:48+08:00April 26th, 2019|Week 4|0 Comments

25 April 2019 – Mark 15:33-36 (NIV)

Scripture

33 At noon, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. 34 And at three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”).

35 When some of those standing near heard this, they said, “Listen, he’s calling Elijah.”

36 Someone ran, filled a sponge with wine vinegar, put it on a staff, and offered it to Jesus to drink. “Now leave him alone. Let’s see if Elijah comes to take him down,” he said.

Reflection

Scholars assert the darkness that came over the land from noon until three in the afternoon was a foreshadow of the darkness Jesus would endure for the following 3 days alone without God’s presence in hell. Such an absence of God’s presence can also be assigned to Jesus’ last words on the cross ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’ The three hours of darkness is also a fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies as seen Amos 8:9 and Jeremiah 15:9. In order for Jesus to completely atone for all our sins, he had to take our punishment (an eternal absence of God’s presence aka hell) upon himself. He had to do this since the Bible says the penalty of sin is death. Not a physical death but a spiritual eternal death from God’s presence.

May this passage encourage you of the Father’s love towards you. He loved you so much that He gave His only son, who took your punishment upon himself, so that you can have an eternal relationship with God. What a gift!! (Con).

Thoughts for the day

  • What does this passage tell you about God or 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

Read the Bible verse above a few times, slowly, and note any words or phrases that jump out to you. Pray for wisdom and revelation as you take time in God’s presence.

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By |2019-04-24T10:12:24+08:00April 25th, 2019|Week 4|0 Comments

24 April 2019 – Mark 15:16-20 (NIV)

Scripture

16 The soldiers led Jesus away into the palace (that is, the Praetorium) and called together the whole company of soldiers. 17 They put a purple robe on him, then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on him. 18 And they began to call out to him, “Hail, king of the Jews!” 19 Again and again they struck him on the head with a staff and spit on him. Falling on their knees, they paid homage to him. 20 And when they had mocked him, they took off the purple robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him out to crucify him.

Reflection

In this account we see the Roman soldiers mock Jesus by asserting He’s the King of the Jews. The irony of this statement is the very same people who wanted Jesus dead and initiated all of this were Jews. These Jewish people clearly didn’t see Jesus as their King or at least an earthly king who would save the people from Rome’s rule. Their eyes were blinded and couldn’t see Jesus was a King of a heavenly Kingdom, who came to save them from their sin and not Rome. Thus, by putting a purple robe on Jesus (which signifies royalty), placing a crown (of thorns) on Jesus and paying respect (falsely) to Him, the soldiers took elements associated to royalty to make fun of Jesus and the whole situation.

Similarly, we can sometimes also get so ‘blinded’ by our immediate situations, that we completely fail to see the real reason what Jesus wants to do in our lives or wants to save us from.

(Con).

Thoughts for the day

  • What does this passage tell you about God or 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

Short prayers for the day, “Jesus; let me see you”, “God, I belong to you”, “Holy Spirit, come”

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By |2019-04-24T07:30:30+08:00April 24th, 2019|Week 4|0 Comments

23 April 2019 – Mark 14:22-25 (NIV)

Scripture

22 While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take it; this is my body.”

23 Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, and they all drank from it.

24 “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many,” he said to them. 25 “Truly I tell you, I will not drink again from the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.”

Reflection

This account of Jesus’ life explains what is about to take place and why Jesus came to earth in the first place. The reference to Jesus breaking the bread resembles his broken body and the suffering he endured on our behalf, and the wine represents His blood that was shed on our behalf for our sins. By commemorating the Holy Communion, we remind ourselves of the high price Jesus paid on the cross for us so that we can now be called children of God. It’s not because of what we have done that renders us redeemed but it’s because of what Jesus have done that makes us co-heirs with Christ. Receive this amazing gift, accept it, live it out and share it with others (Ps. Dale).

Thoughts for the day

  • Why are you personally grateful for Jesus’ crucifixion?
  • What does this passage tell you about God and Jesus?
  • What does this passage tell you about people?
  • 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 GOD’S KINGDOM TO COME The simplest prayer can be the most powerful: “Your Kingdom Come, Your Will be done, On earth as in heaven”.

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By |2019-04-19T11:46:45+08:00April 23rd, 2019|Week 4|0 Comments

22 April 2019 – Mark 14:1-2; 10-11 (NIV)

Scripture

Now the Passover and the Festival of Unleavened Bread were only two days away, and the chief priests and the teachers of the law were scheming to arrest Jesus secretly and kill him. “But not during the festival,” they said, “or the people may riot.”

10 Then Judas Iscariot, one of the Twelve, went to the chief priests to betray Jesus to them. 11 They were delighted to hear this and promised to give him money. So he watched for an opportunity to hand him over.

Reflection

In these couple of verses we witness how deceitful and hypocritical (religious) people can be. It’s interesting to note that the chief priests and teachers didn’t only want to banish or imprison Jesus, but they wanted him dead. They despised him so much that they wanted to silence Him once for all. Verse 1 tells us the chief priest and teachers were scheming to arrest Jesus secretly with the aim to kill him. The government aka Pilate didn’t find any wrongdoing on Jesus part (Mark 15:14) but it was the priest and religious teachers who wanted him dead. It’s astonishing to read how the priests and teachers were able to convince and justify not only to themselves but also to the crowd that it’s okay to murder an innocent man over Barabbas who actually committed murder (Mark 15:7).

In the same way, we can very easily sometimes justify to ourselves certain actions to be right (regardless the extend of severity), but in actual fact, we end up only deceiving ourselves for our own personal gain/revenge. This is one of the reasons why Christian community plays such a vital role in every believer’s life. It keeps us accountable and helps us to keep our eyes on Jesus and not to loose perspective (Con).

Thoughts for the day

  • What measures do you have put in place to keep you accountable and not to loose perspective?
  • 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 the promises of God. Remind yourself of God’s character and power by finding a promise from God that speaks to you. Reflect and pray on it today.

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By |2019-04-19T11:43:07+08:00April 22nd, 2019|Week 4|0 Comments

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