Week 4

23 November 2018 – Romans 7:21-25 (NIV)

Scripture

21 So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. 22 For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; 23 but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. 24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? 25 Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!

So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in my sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.

Reflection

Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 2:16,  “Who has known the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ. He also writes later in Romans “12 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” In our battle with sin, God has provided an amazing answer, the mind of Christ. Mankind has proven over and over again that we will succomb to the sin nature at war within us and we need something beyond us to overcome. We need a transformation of the mind, an overhaul of the thoughts and desires in our lives. But God is so faithful. He has done more than help us, He has given us His very mind! By God’s renewing of our mind, we can now walk away from that what once was a struggle for us (Josh).

Thoughts for the day

  • In which areas of your life can you and should you renew your mind to be more like Chris?
  • 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 SCF; Elders, Ministry leaders, Staff, Community Group Leaders and all those who serve.

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By |2018-11-16T12:35:28+08:00November 23rd, 2018|Week 4|0 Comments

22 November 2018 – Romans 7:14-20 (NIV)

Scripture

14 We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. 15 I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. 16 And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. 17 As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. 18 For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.

Reflection

We were created in God’s image; made to know the Father. With that DNA imprint we know in our hearts when we are in alignment with Him and when we are not. It is by this DNA imprint, this image we have been made after, that we can discern good from evil. That’s how we know that sin is an active living thing in a battle with our DNA and it seems to win a lot of the battles. Remember from which you have come from. You are made of good stuff, in the image of God. You have worth and value. At any moment, you can turn back and the Father will come running to you, because He knows your worth. He knows from who you’ve come from; Him (Josh).

Thoughts for the day

  • When last did you allow God to tell you how He sees you, and how valuable you are to Him?
  • 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

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

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By |2018-11-16T12:30:33+08:00November 22nd, 2018|Week 4|0 Comments

21 November 2018 – Romans 7:7-13 (NIV)

Scripture

What shall we say, then? Is the law sinful? Certainly not! Nevertheless, I would not have known what sin was had it not been for the law. For I would not have known what coveting really was if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.” But sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, produced in me every kind of coveting. For apart from the law, sin was dead. Once I was alive apart from the law; but when the commandment came, sin sprang to life and I died. 10 I found that the very commandment that was intended to bring life actually brought death. 11 For sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, deceived me, and through the commandment put me to death. 12 So then, the law is holy, and the commandment is holy, righteous and good.

13 Did that which is good, then, become death to me? By no means! Nevertheless, in order that sin might be recognized as sin, it used what is good to bring about my death, so that through the commandment sin might become utterly sinful.

Reflection

11 For sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, deceived me, and through the commandment put me to death.” This is an important reminder; Sin is the offender here, not the law. So many people would have you say that the Law is the reason there is sin. NO, not the case. Sin was already present; the law was only brought in to open our eyes to the lawlessness of sin. When someone is put on trial as a murder suspect it is not the weapon or object they used that is put on trial; it is the offender, the person who did the act of murder. Paul is clear here, Sin is a deceiver. Its purpose is to drag you into the grave alongside with it. It will do anything to persist in its ways, framing the good into bad, convincing people that the law was never needed. Don’t fall for it (Josh).

Thoughts for the day

  • In what way does sin deceive you in your life?
  • 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

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 |2018-11-16T12:25:55+08:00November 21st, 2018|Week 4|0 Comments

20 November 2018 – Romans 7:4-6 (NIV)

Scripture

So, my brothers and sisters, you also died to the law through the body of Christ, that you might belong to another, to him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit for God. For when we were in the realm of the flesh,[a] the sinful passions aroused by the law were at work in us, so that we bore fruit for death. But now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code.

Reflection

After nearly 40 years of living in the United States, my mother in law recently became a citizen of the US. For many reasons it was an amazing and emotional moment for our family. First, it meant that she was now fully recognized as a citizen of the country she had lived most her life in. Second, it meant she could now come visit us here in China and not encounter any political or legal issues. She was bound by the very laws that protected her as a political refugee and in one moment (upon her being sworn in as a citizen of the United States of America) she had been released by that old code and a new way of living was immediately opened to her! When Jesus died and rose again, He released us from those very things that meant to keep us safe but it also showed us that we could not do it on our own. We needed a savior. That’s the importance of salvation to a believer. Salvation is what allows us to live in the new way of the Spirit. It’s what allows us to be free from the things that once kept us bound or defined us. Salvation is our citizenship into the Kingdom of God (Josh).

Thoughts for the day

  • 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

“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 |2018-11-16T12:18:10+08:00November 20th, 2018|Week 4|0 Comments

19 November 2018 – Romans 7:1-3 (NIV)

Scripture

Do you not know, brothers and sisters—for I am speaking to those who know the law—that the law has authority over someone only as long as that person lives? For example, by law a married woman is bound to her husband as long as he is alive, but if her husband dies, she is released from the law that binds her to him. So then, if she has sexual relations with another man while her husband is still alive, she is called an adulteress. But if her husband dies, she is released from that law and is not an adulteress if she marries another man.

Reflection

We often fear death. There’s a lot to be afraid of for sure. It’s easy to see death as a final moment, as the end. But what if death wasn’t the end and instead just part of the journey (a very important part for sure)? Paul uses this example of marriage and our release from this commitment upon death to help us reframe “death”. He is preparing us for the next important step in our journey; living a resurrected life through Jesus. There will be a literal death and resurrection but I believe there are figurative deaths that can happen in our lives as well. Let go of those things that you know God is telling you to let die, because resurrection can only follow death, it does not precede it (Josh).

Thoughts for the day

  • Is there anything you feel God is asking you to let go of and or to die to so that you can live a more fuller life?
  • 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 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 |2018-11-16T12:15:06+08:00November 19th, 2018|Week 4|0 Comments

26 October 2018 – Romans 3:21-26 (NIV)

Scripture

21 But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. 22 This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. 25 God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished— 26 he did it to demonstrate his righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.

Reflection

After all the sobering news Paul mentioned about our sinfulness and God’s condemnation, he gives us this wonderful news! We can be found not guilty of our sins by believing and trusting that Jesus Christ has taken away our sins, that we’ve been forgiven, therefore making us right with God.

This beautiful gift is available for all of us, regardless of our background or past behavior. If you are not a Christian but would like to receive Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, you can pray to God in your own words and share your decision with a Christian friend.

If you are a Christian, may you be reminded daily that you are saved by grace, no longer a slave of sin but free indeed. John 8:36 – “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”(Su)

Thoughts for the day

  • In which area in your life do you need to be reminded that you are saved by grace and no longer a slave to sin?
  • 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 pray for someone who is near to you right now, someone you can see.

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By |2018-10-26T10:26:46+08:00October 26th, 2018|Week 4|0 Comments

25 October 2018 – Romans 3:9-20 (NIV)

Scripture

What shall we conclude then? Do we have any advantage? Not at all! For we have already made the charge that Jews and Gentiles alike are all under the power of sin. 10 As it is written:

“There is no one righteous, not even one;
11     there is no one who understands;
    there is no one who seeks God.
12 All have turned away,
    they have together become worthless;
there is no one who does good,
    not even one.”
13 “Their throats are open graves;
    their tongues practice deceit.”
“The poison of vipers is on their lips.”
14     “Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness.”
15 “Their feet are swift to shed blood;
16     ruin and misery mark their ways,
17 and the way of peace they do not know.”
18     “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”

19 Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God. 20 Therefore no one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by the works of the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of our sin.

Reflection

“Well. I’m not too bad. I’m a pretty good person. At least I don’t do this or that. Compared to him or her, at least…”.

Have you ever looked down on anyone? Judged or compared? Or maybe you are on the other side of the coin where you feel unworthy, “too far gone” to come to God.

Paul is clear. There is no one righteous, not even one. Is there any hope for us, then? YES! The Law condemns us, but the Law is not the basis of our hope. God Himself is. Hold on to His Redeeming Grace (Su).

Thoughts for the day

  • Is there an area in your life that you feel you don’t really need God and that you have it all figured out?
  • 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 those who are in prison.

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By |2018-10-24T10:26:21+08:00October 25th, 2018|Week 4|0 Comments

24 October 2018 – Romans 3:5-8 (NIV)

Scripture

But if our unrighteousness brings out God’s righteousness more clearly, what shall we say? That God is unjust in bringing his wrath on us? (I am using a human argument.) Certainly not! If that were so, how could God judge the world? Someone might argue, “If my falsehood enhances God’s truthfulness and so increases his glory, why am I still condemned as a sinner?” Why not say—as some slanderously claim that we say—“Let us do evil that good may result”? Their condemnation is just!

Reflection

The amount of excuses we can hear to justify sin has been around as long as humanity exists. It’s too easy to take God’s grace for granted, but God cannot overlook sin. No matter how many excuses are made, sinners will have to answer God for their sin.

How to respond, then? Repentance. To turn or return. To turn from evil and turn to good. But not a repentance just to keep God “happy” so that He will continue to bless me and answer my prayers. In the gospel, the purpose of repentance is to walk in the joy of our union with Christ, to weaken our impulse to do anything contrary to God’s heart.

“Repentance is more than just sorrow for the past; repentance is a change of mind and heart, a new life of denying self and serving the Savior as king in self’s place.”– J.I. Packer (Su).

Thoughts for the day

  • What do you need to repent from?
  • 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 these organizations who are helping people in need: Home Sweet Home, Renewal Center and Sonflowers.

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By |2018-10-23T20:29:03+08:00October 24th, 2018|Week 4|Comments Off on 24 October 2018 – Romans 3:5-8 (NIV)

23 October 2018 – Romans 3:1-4 (NIV)

Scripture

What advantage, then, is there in being a Jew, or what value is there in circumcision? Much in every way! First of all, the Jews have been entrusted with the very words of God.

What if some were unfaithful? Will their unfaithfulness nullify God’s faithfulness? Not at all! Let God be true, and every human being a liar. As it is written:

     “So that you may be proved right when you speak
         and prevail when you judge.”

Reflection

Psalm 51 is one of the most well-known psalms. The one David wrote regarding the time Nathan the prophet came to him after he had committed adultery with Bathsheba.

Psalm 51: 4 “Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight; so you are right in your verdict and justified when you judge.”

It requires a revelation of the Holy Spirit in our lives to recognize that no one will be exempt from God’s judgment of sin, that every person must accept the fact that he or she is sinful and condemned before God in order to receive God’s wonderful gift of salvation. Not by birth, nor by deeds. God Himself, in His righteousness and amazing love, offers us eternal life, through faith in Jesus Christ. We cannot earn it; we can only accept it as a gift from our Heavenly Father. God is always faithful, even when we are not. He is always faithful, even when we doubt. He is always faithful.  Let these words sink in. Repeat it to yourself. Sing it. Write it down (Su).

Thoughts for the day

  • How much do you realize that you are loved by God based on what He has done and not based on who you are or what you have done?
  • 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 these organizations who are helping people in need: Home Sweet Home, Renewal Center and Sonflowers.

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By |2018-10-22T11:36:27+08:00October 23rd, 2018|Week 4|0 Comments

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