Advent Series: #4
Passage: Luke 1:39-45 (NIV)
39 At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, 40 where she entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth. 41 When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. 42 In a loud voice she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! 43 But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44 As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. 45 Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!”
This past Sunday (12 Nov) Ian O’Connell from Shanghai West International Fellowship (SWIF) continued with the Advent series. He spoke on Isaiah 12:2-6 and how Israel knew very well how God saved them and rescued them from the hands of Pharaoh. He continued by stating it is because they experienced and knew God’s deliverance, they too can now, even during their current circumstances still find joy as they wait for God to rescue them from their exile. Similarly, we too can find joy in our salvation (because of what Jesus did on the cross for us) and know with surety that Jesus will come again.
In this coming week, Ruth De Pater will finish our advent series by speaking on preparing to meet Jesus, our Shepard King. She’ll expand on the biblical notion of why Jesus is our King, Shepard and our Peace.
As we reflect on this past Sunday’s sermon and how we too can find joy in our salvation, ask yourself the following questions: 1) Can you articulate why you find joy in your salvation, 2) How it impacts the way you live, 3) How as a believer, Jesus’ second coming helps you form an eternal mindset and 4) How that mindset influences the way you look at your current circumstances.
Advent Series: #3
Passage: Isaiah 12:2-3 (NIV)
2 Surely God is my salvation;
I will trust and not be afraid.
The Lord, the Lord himself, is my strength and my defense;
he has become my salvation.”
3 With joy you will draw water
from the wells of salvation.
This past Sunday (5 Nov) Ps. Dale continued the Advent series called ‘Preparing for Christmas again’ and spoke on Malachi 3:1-4, Luke 3:2-18 and Philippians 1:6-11. He spoke about John the Baptist, Jesus – the Anointed One and how God, who began a good work through us, will finish it for His glory.
In this coming week, Ian O’Connell from Shanghai West International Fellowship (SWIF) will continue with the Advent series and he’ll speak on preparing for the day we will sing a new song as seen in Isaiah 12:2-6. He’ll expand on having such an eternal perspective by explaining how we should prepare for the day when Jesus comes again and how we will sing a new song filled with the greatest joy ever. He’ll conclude his sermon by illustrating how we can partake in this eternal preparation by expressing the joy of our salvation today to those around us.
As we reflect on one of the aspects of this past Sunday’s sermon and how John the Baptist preached a message of repentance, prayerfully contemplate which area/s in your life needs genuine repentance? Repentance is defined as responding to God’s love by being transformed in your convictions and actions. It means turning towards God and away from whatever dishonors Him. Biblical repentance is not about your emotions, your sin, your efforts, or your resolve. It’s about your surrender. What do you need to surrender to God today and trust that He who started a good work within you will finish it for His glory?
Advent Series: #2
Passage: Luke 3:15 (NIV)
15 The people were waiting expectantly and were all wondering in their hearts if John might possibly be the Messiah.
We are now officially in the advent season and this past Sunday (28 Nov) Ps. Dale kicked us off with the first of a 4-part series called ‘Preparing for Christmas again’. In his sermon, Ps. Dale spoke about why Jesus is called the ‘branch’ or the ‘shoot’ as seen in Isaiah 11:1.
God promised to David that out of his lineage a king will come that will not only restore hope and redeem Israel (a promise that seemed hopeless) but to be hope and redemption for all peoples. Through this ‘branch-like’ analogy, we can see how the Bible is one unified story that culminates in Jesus on the cross and invites you and me to partner with God to bring this message of hope and redemption to the lost and establish His kingdom on earth as it is in heaven.
In this coming week Ps. Dale will continue with the Advent series and focus on Luke 3:7-18 and Philippians 1:6-11. He’ll talk about John the Baptist, Jesus – the Anointed One and how God, who began a good work through us, will finish it for His glory.
As we reflect on this past Sunday’s sermon and we’re entering the advent season, think about how Jesus’ first coming impacts your life? How has Jesus redeemed your life? Do you live with an anticipated hope that He will come again? How does this (the knowledge that he will come again) affect how you view everyday life? Does your life reveal that Jesus was just another wise human being that teaches great moral values, or does it reveal a complete life-changing lifestyle that’s achievable beyond human abilities? Is your life looking more like Jesus?
Community Group Campaign: You Are Called Full Stop
Passage: Luke 1:78 (NIV)
because of the tender mercy of our God,
by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven
This past Sunday (21 Nov) Ps. Dale concluded the CG campaign series called ‘Time of your life’ by Andy Stanley. Ps. Dale started by talking about Paul’s divine calling that he received from God to be an apostle. Ps. Dale mentioned that Paul received an invitation or summons from King Jesus to take part in what God has called him to do, and for Paul his calling or vocation was very specific, namely to be an apostle of Jesus. Ps. Dale continued by saying not everyone might receive such a specific calling like Paul, but it does not mean we have not been called by Jesus. Ps. Dale concluded his sermon by citing 5 reasons why we all have been invited by God, irrespective of our vocation. The reasons are:
- You have been called to be a holy people. Not just doing holy things but to be holy people. To be ‘set apart’ from the rest of the world and to be people for God.
- We have been called to be in community with our brothers and sisters in Christ, brothers and sisters who have also been called just like us.
- Only the called can see the cross of Jesus as the wisdom and power of God.
- You have been called to be in Jesus
- We have been called to share in his calling (Is. 42:5-7; Is. 453)
With Advent starting on the 28th of November pastor Dale will in this upcoming week, speak on why Jesus is called the ‘Branch’ or the ‘Shoot’. He will unpack the claim as to why Jesus is the legitimate King, the leader we are longing for and the reason for our hope.
As we reflect on this past Sunday’s sermon while keeping the 5 reasons Ps. Dale cited as to why we all have been invited by God, think about how your current vocation is shaped by these 5 callings mentioned above.
Community Group Campaign: Time & Trust
Give your calling from the heavenly Father priority, then add the rest. Our calling should influence whatever else we might think about our occupations, roles and assignments.
This past Sunday (14 Nov) Ps. Dale continued with the CG campaign series called ‘Time of your life’ by Andy Stanley. Ps. Dale focused on the concept of compounding interest and honed in on one of the fruits of the Spirit, namely self-control. By contrasting the fruit of the Spirit with our fleshly nature, Ps. Dale encouraged us to continue to invest in living in step with the Spirit, as it will over time reap a tremendous spiritual result. He concluded the sermon by speaking about the idea of surrender and how one can practically create a daily habit of surrender unto Jesus.
In this coming week pastor Dale will talk about giving the time you can’t control to God, how trusting Him with your time looks like, and then enjoying the time that you do have.
As we reflect on this past Sunday’s sermon, there are three (3) things we can do as we continue to surrender our lives to Jesus.
- Crucify the flesh
- Keep in step with the Spirit and;
- Not becoming arrogant.
As we ponder on these three practical aspects to surrender our lives to Christ, which one of these three aspects do you feel the Holy Spirit is prompting you to focus on in this coming week? Who can you share it with to help keep you accountable? And continue to pray for a willing, humble and obedient heart to do what the Holy Spirit is leading you to do.
Community Group Campaign: At Capacity
“Time works like compounding interest, invest early and over time it brings outsized results” – Andy Stanley
On the 31st of October pastor Dale talked about Psalm 90:12 where it reads ‘teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.’ During that sermon, he focused on the first part of this verse namely that our days are numbered. In this past Sunday’s sermon (7 Nov) he focused on the second part of verse 12 and spoke about why gaining a heart of wisdom is so important. By making use of a picture of a jar of stones, pebbles and sand (which represents the various activities that consume our time in a day), he illustrated the importance of gaining a heart of wisdom. By having wisdom, we will be able to discern and know what is important, less important or downright a waste of our numbered days.
In this coming week pastor Dale will focus on identifying at least one thing that prevents us from making the kind of ‘deposits’ of our times that we desire, namely self-control. Self-control is a ‘fruit of the Spirit” which brings a new dimension to this often-threatening word.
As we reflect on this past Sunday’s sermon, let’s contemplate on the following approach, called Lectio Divina. It can be of great help for you and me as we desire to gain a heart of wisdom.
Step 1: Read – Pick a passage. After inviting the Holy Spirit to come and guide you, read the passage slowly, out loud if you can.
Step 2: Reflect – Meditating on the passage you have read, savour one word or phrase that you have noticed more than others during your reading. Write this word down or begin to ponder what God might be saying to you through this.
Step 3. Re-read – Read the passage one more time.
Step 4: Respond – Speak out in prayer what you sense God is saying to you. Tell Him how you feel encouraged or challenged by what He is saying to you.
Step 5: Rest – Simply take some time to allow God to wrap you in His love, and let the word He has given you rest on you.
Step 6. Resolve – Finish by articulating one way you might be able to live out the word that has penetrated your heart.