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Devo2017-09-28T11:20:03+08:00

2 June 2020 – Romans 10:9-10 (NIV)

Scripture

If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.

Reflection

Sometimes we are not sure if we are saved and going to heaven when this life is over. After all, can it be that simple? Mutter a few words about Jesus, accept a documented historical fact that He came back to life and we have our golden ticket to heaven. It is difficult to accept this is all it takes because it seems both too good to be true and too bad to be true.

First, this sounds too good to be true because it goes against our socially-embedded DNA of what it means to be saved from something, or to get to a good place. It is too easy, because we know we must always work for what we want. From our wee days of playing tag, we understood we need to run hard and fast to escape the catcher to be safe (“Home” zone). Then we went to school, and we learnt that we need to put in effort to make the grades or training so that we could get the grades or place well in the competition. Even winning over or pleasing important people in our lives requires work. So when we see today’s verse, we may think saying a few words and believing a fact is no “real” work at all, too good to be true to be trusted upon, surely we have to do something “real” to get something this good.

Second, what this verse says about us is to be too bad to be true. You say, “I am not a bad person, and definitely not as bad as so-and-so. The genocide plotters, war conspirators, the child abusers, sex and drug traffickers and such deserve hell but I do not. I am not a bad person, I’m good. I am definitely not that bad.” Then this verse comes along and implies, “No, you’re bad, you’re so bad that there is nothing you can do to earn your right to heaven. Your only shot at heaven is casting your hope on Jesus and everything He did and represents. Nothing else works.” This is too hard to accept, we have been told we are good – or somewhat and occasionally good – and we have at some point been told we did good jobs for our family, friends, teachers, clients, colleagues and bosses. While those tasks may count for something on earth, they count for nothing with regard to our eternal destination. This can be devastating to acknowledge.

Yet, it can only be too good and too easy to be true because it was immensely difficult and bad for somebody else. That somebody else is Jesus. And we really are that bad and will stay that way because of the sinful nature we were born with that cannot be shaken off. We cannot escape ourselves unless somebody else comes to defeat death (the consequences of sin) and gives us the power and an ever present guardian to help us see and break the chains of our sinful nature. That somebody else is Jesus. So when we say we believe God raised Jesus from the dead and Jesus is Lord, we are admitting our sinful nature and our sin (i.e. we are very bad), and we need Him to save us (i.e. too good and easy for us but very bad for Him).

Although we may only say out loud the words of this prayer once, consider what happens thereafter if we are sincere about what we said. As we grow in our relationship with God, we know Him more and understand ourselves more, we realize it is not about working to stay “saved,” but about being genuine about calling Jesus “Lord” by daily ceding the right to direct and rule our lives, daily learning to hear His voice, and daily following His lead, not ours.

Thoughts for the day

  • Are you saved and know you are going to heaven when you die?  How good a person do you have to be to get to heaven for sure? Today you can get clear assurance you are going to heaven when you ask Jesus to forgive you of your sin, invite Him into your heart as Lord to direct your life.
  • Spend some time reflecting how bad and difficult it was for Jesus, so that there could be such a good and easy way for you to be saved.  Thank Him!
  • If you claim to be a follower of Christ, scan through the areas of your life and check whose lead you are really following in each of them (yours or His)?

Prayer

Dear God and Heavenly Father, thank you for saving me for heaven at so much cost and pain to you because I cannot do anything or enough for myself for this.  Point out to me areas of my life where I have only paid lip-service to calling you Lord and help me to surrender the king seat there to you. Amen.

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By |June 2nd, 2020|Week 1|

1 June 2020 – 2 Timothy 2:8 (NIV)

Scripture

Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, descended from David. This is my gospel,

Reflection

Paul is writing this second letter to Timothy, a disciple he considers his son, and is a relatively young pastor who has had to deal with a wide range of church issues described in 1 Timothy. Paul senses his end is not far (see 2 Timothy chapter 4) and takes the time to write what might be a parting letter to Timothy to encourage him to be faithful to the work God has called him. In the verses 2-7 before today’s verse, Paul instructs Timothy to “be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus” as he “suffers like a good soldier for Jesus.” It will be a long journey of service, self-discipline, focus and perseverance for Timothy.

Then in today’s verse 8, Paul says “Remember Jesus Christ…” The original Greek word for the “remember” means to be mindful of, to be aware, to pay attention, to focus on… with the result of affecting how you act. This it is not like remembering to run an errand or a date of some event. Instead, Paul is saying be intentional to keep reflecting on your soul Jesus’s death for you, and that will shape your life goals, and motivate you to press on to do well. To use the words of author and motivational speaker Simon Sinek, “Know your why”, that is, know why you’re doing what you’re doing, and that will affect your what (objectives) and how (strategy).

First, who is Jesus? He came from the line of King David, which made the things He did a fulfillment of numerous prophecies associated with identifying himself as God personally coming to save the world, free His people, and bring forth a new kingdom. Second, what did Jesus do? He died sacrificially on behalf of everyone and rose from the dead (proving his worthiness and righteousness), so that no one who believes in Him will be separated from God permanently. There was no personal reward for Jesus, only plenty of suffering and misunderstanding. But to Him, bringing about the reconciliation of God with every person would be worth everything He gave up.

Therefore, if Timothy was truly following Jesus who did not withhold Himself or bail on God’s plan and work laid out for Him, and if Timothy understood how much love was behind Jesus’ motivation, then Timothy would also get why Paul never held himself back from God’s path for him, and why Timothy can and should also soldier on in service regardless of the circumstances and challenges.

So it is for us. Although we can get acknowledged, compensated or rewarded for the good things we do (thank God for that!), Paul also exhorts us to let our deepest motivation to be a good person, do good deeds, excel at our occupations, serve the church community and so on, really be because we are impacted by the depth of God’s love for us and sincerely trying to follow Jesus’ example as our way to love Him back.

Thoughts for the day

  • What drives you to do the good that you do?  Why are you the type of good person that you are?  What has Jesus got to do with it?
  • What would your life look like if there was no, or less, acknowledgement or compensation associated with your good deeds or character?
  • Take a moment to observe how your life, and your perspective on life, has changed on your journey of experiencing and understanding deeper levels of God’s love for you.

Prayer

Dear God and Heavenly Father, I want to experience you more.  I want the stamina, ability and strength to do life well because you are the one that powers me, with or without the world’s icing on the cake. Come Lord, I welcome you further into my heart, mind and soul.  May more of you come into me so that more of you flows out of me. Amen.

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By |June 1st, 2020|Week 1|

29 May 2020 – Acts 2:11-12 (NIV)

Scripture

11 (both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs—we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!” 12 Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, “What does this mean?”

Reflection

As Christians, it is more than okay to be “amazed and perplexed.” We serve an infinite God and we are trying to make sense of Him with finite minds. To assume that we understand God’s ways is at best an act of hubris, and at worst blasphemy. God’s wisdom is incomprehensible. As it says in Isaiah 55:8-9 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the Lord. ‘As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.’”

But this does not mean we should not pursue God’s truth. He invites us to fellowship with Him, and His truth is revealed through relationship. And sometimes that means it is okay to ask, “What does this mean?” God’s work in our lives is not always obvious, so He invites us to seek His counsel. It may be that He opens up a professional door, or He facilitates a geographic move, or He allows you to meet someone special. In each situation, we should be thankful but also ask with boldness, “What does this mean?”

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

Give God your praise. Give God your praise for the good things you are experiencing and practice gratitude for everything God’s given you at this present moment.

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By |May 29th, 2020|Week 4|

28 May 2020 – Acts 2:5-6 (NIV)

Scripture

Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard their own language being spoken.

Reflection

God’s plan has always been to bring together all peoples – from every nation and culture. The Pentecost symbolically revealed this plan by unifying a group that represented “every nation under heaven.” While they had previously been divided by language (and likely culture, tradition and other ways), they were made one as the Holy Spirit bound them together. Language was no longer an obstacle, pointing to the reality of our existence in heaven some day. But for the “God-fearing Jews” who had gathered for the Pentecost feast, their walls of division were broken down supernaturally.

God continues to bring together people from every nation that have absolutely nothing in common except for their shared love of Christ. In Christ, culture is something to be celebrated; it is not a barrier. As Paul wrote in Galatians 3:28, “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

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

Wherever you are, take time to acknowledge God and trust in Him again. Give God your worries. Take a moment to give each thing you are worrying about back to God.

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By |May 28th, 2020|Week 4|

“Updates from SCF”

Hengshan Church:

Even before we stopped meeting on Sundays we knew that the Hengshan Church building was scheduled for major renovations. Recently we were informed that the church building is closing down now, while we are still unable to meet. This means that when we are given permission to meet on Sundays again, we will not be going back to the Hengshan campus, AT LEAST FOR NOW. SCF is looking for a temporary meeting space; a place where we can meet during the approximately 2 years it will require to renovate and restore the church. Please be praying that we will be able to find temporary meeting facilities and that we will be able to meet on Sundays soon.

 

Another Online Meeting Time:

“Way back when” during a time when no one had heard of COVID-19, SCF was hosting something called “Weekday Connect.” Weekday Connect was a worship service especially designed for people who could not attend the Sunday worship service but it was also for everyone. Well, Weekday Connect is coming back!! On Tuesdays once again we will host an online worship service which will be the same online service shown on Sunday but with live chat. Did you miss the SCF online service on Sunday? No problem. You can join on Tuesdays now at 19:30 at shanghaicommunityfellowship.churchonline.org (Starting Tuesday, June 2)

By |May 27th, 2020|Pastor|

27 May 2020 – Acts 2:4 (NIV)

Scripture

All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues[a] as the Spirit enabled them.

Reflection

All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues[a] as the Spirit enabled them.

The events of Pentecost did not happen in a vacuum. Centuries of prophecy and tradition pointed to and gave extra meaning for the events of the Christian Pentecost. When the Holy Spirit fell on the believers who had gathered together 50 days after Christ’s death and resurrection, it was symbolic of God’s work amongst the Hebrews centuries earlier.

On the historical Pentecost, God gave his law on Mount Sinai, accompanied with thunder and lightning. On the Christian Pentecost, God sent down his Holy Spirit, like a rushing mighty wind; and tongues of fire sat upon each disciple, in order that, by his influence, that new law of light and life might be promulgated and established. The result was not just that tradition was honored, but that it was realized in its fullness. Referring to Old Testament traditions, Paul writes in Colossians 2:17, “These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ.” The same is true of Pentecost – centuries of tradition had pointed to the glorious arrival of God’s Holy Spirit 50 days after Jesus, the lamb of God, was slain.

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

Ask God to help shape your prayers – countries you should pray for; situations which need God’s power and transformation; lift them up in confidence and faith. “Say among the nations, ‘The Lord reigns’” Psalm 96:10.

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By |May 27th, 2020|Week 4|