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

10 September 2021 – Mark 8:27 (NIV)

Scripture

27 Jesus and his disciples went on to the villages around Caesarea Philippi. On the way he asked them, “Who do people say I am?”

Reflection

Caesarea Philippi was a Greco-Roman city located 40km north of the Sea of Galilee, in an area that is nestled between modern day Lebanon and Syria. It was originally a center of worship to Baal and later the Greek god Pan. During the time of Jesus, it had recently been renamed by Philip the Tetrarch to honor himself and Caesar Augustus, complete with temples and shrines for worshipping Caesar.

It’s in this oppressively pagan context that Jesus asks his disciples, “Who do people say I am?” It’s a good question for us to ask ourselves today. The environment and culture we come from inevitably shape our worldview, how we understand God, and how we view our identity in this world.

We see this struggle with the prophet Isaiah during his calling: “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty” (Isaiah 6:5). He acknowledges that he is just like everyone else around him, but then something happens. He has a powerful encounter with God, cleansing him from his sin and enabling him to use his lips to serve as a messenger for the King.

Going back to Jesus’ question: Who do people say I am? This is a helpful question, but Jesus didn’t stop there. His next question was and inevitably always will be, “Who do you say I am?”

This is where it gets real. Understanding our cultural environment can help give us insights about ourselves, but Jesus is not reduced to our circumstances. He always transcends them. He gave his life so that nothing could separate us from the love of God (Rom 8:39). How would you like to encounter the King and be forever changed?

Thoughts for the day

  • What does this passage tell you about God or Jesus?
  • What do you feel God is telling you through this passage?
  • How can you apply this message in your current situation

Prayer

When challenges come we can so easily forget where our identity comes from. Today take time to pause and be reminded of God’s love for you

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By |September 10th, 2021|Week 1|

9 September 2021 – James 3:1 (NIV)

Scripture

Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.

Reflection

This is the verse that terrifies every church leader, and rightly so!

To be in a place of spiritual authority and influence is a sacred privilege, one with immense accountability. While we know that there’s no such thing as a perfect leader, every leader should humbly walk in the fear of the Lord and be careful with their words to lead people to Jesus, not themselves or their ministry. James was cautioning people who were becoming teachers for the wrong reasons and out of their own ambitions.

So why would anyone want to take on a leadership role?
Is remaining a spectator the safe way to go?

Absolutely not! Jesus tells us in the Parable of Talents (Matthew 25:14-30), there is a harsh judgment for those who do nothing with what is entrusted to them. In fact, the reward for faithfulness is more responsibility and more joy. Matthew 25:23 says, “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!”

This shifts the perspective from one of fear to one of partnership with the Master. How can you be faithful to partner with your Master? How do you sense the Lord wants you to step out in faith with something or someone He is entrusting to you?

Thoughts for the day

  • What does this passage tell you about God or Jesus?
  • What do you feel God is telling you through this passage?
  • How can you apply this message in your current situation

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 |September 9th, 2021|Week 1|

8 September 2021 – Psalm 116:1-2 (NIV)

Scripture

I love the Lord, for he heard my voice;
    he heard my cry for mercy.
Because he turned his ear to me,
    I will call on him as long as I live.

Reflection

The psalmist recounts a time when he was in a life-and-death situation and Yahweh miraculously saved him. He has turned his personal testimony into a public declaration of praise. It focuses not only on what God has done in the past, but how that situation has impacted him for the rest of his life.

The Hebrew word used in verse one to describe how God heard him is sama, which means “to hear intelligently.” The psalmist goes on to say that God turned his ear to him. This is intimate language. It’s attentive and personal. He is declaring that the Almighty God cares enough to hear him, turn towards him, and respond in a mighty way. Wow! That’s not a cold and distant God!

I love the Lord.
I will call on him as long I live.

Meditating on these two lines can be so powerful. Sometimes, though, we also need to remember what God has done for us. What has brought you to love the Lord? What has He done in your life that you will call on him as long as you live?

Think of a time when you were in a desperate situation, and God intervened. How was He present? How did He provide for you? How did this impact you? Turn this into your own song of praise.

Thoughts for the day

  • What does this passage tell you about God or Jesus?
  • What do you feel God is telling you through this passage?
  • How can you apply this message in your current situation

Prayer

Invite the Holy Spirit to show you something to rejoice over. Look beyond your current circumstances to the Lord of all Creation. Remember that you are fully, unconditionally loved. Take time to rejoice in the goodness of the God who has saved you.

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By |September 8th, 2021|Week 1|

7 September 2021 – Isaiah 50:7 (NIV)

Scripture

Because the Sovereign Lord helps me,
    I will not be disgraced.
Therefore have I set my face like flint,
    and I know I will not be put to shame.

Reflection

This passage is part of the four Servant Songs found in the book of Isaiah. They prophesy about the coming Messiah, the Servant of the Lord. More than 700 years later, when Peter declared to his fellow Jews that God had “glorified his servant Jesus” (Acts 13:3), he was referring to these prophesies.

When you read this passage, what word or phrase jumps out to you?
What about that speaks to you?

For me, the phrase “I set my face like flint” creates a word picture of someone who is determined, steadfast, and resolved, even though they might be facing very difficult circumstances. Flint is used to make arrowheads not only because of its strength but because it can be shaped to form a sharp point. It is focused on a target. This describes Jesus perfectly just as Paul writes, “And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:2).

How can you fix your eyes on Jesus today?

Thoughts for the day

  • What does this passage tell you about God or Jesus?
  • What do you feel God is telling you through this passage?
  • How can you apply this message in your current situation

Prayer

Today, take a moment, wherever you are, to PAUSE in God’s presence. Find a spot where you can stop and be quiet for a minute.

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By |September 7th, 2021|Week 1|

6 September 2021 – Psalm 19:7-10 (NIV)

Scripture

The law of the Lord is perfect,
    refreshing the soul.
The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy,
    making wise the simple.
The precepts of the Lord are right,
    giving joy to the heart.
The commands of the Lord are radiant,
    giving light to the eyes.
The fear of the Lord is pure,
    enduring forever.
The decrees of the Lord are firm,
    and all of them are righteous.

10 They are more precious than gold,
    than much pure gold;
they are sweeter than honey,
    than honey from the honeycomb.

Reflection

For all of us living in Shanghai, what could be more desirable than a high income or a meal at one of the many amazing restaurants? Not much, especially if we can post about it on social media! Money, status, and food drive this great city, so it’s wise to occasionally stop and ask ourselves if we look more like the culture around us or like God’s children. What are the hidden motivations of our heart and souls? Is it success, validation, or security? How then do we go about aligning our inner beings with God?

The psalmist tells us that by putting our trust in God’s word that it transforms us from the inside out. It orders our priorities, brings joy to our hearts, and refreshes our souls. Isaiah 26:3 echoes this sentiment by saying, “You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.”

Thoughts for the day

  • What does this passage tell you about God or Jesus?
  • What do you feel God is telling you through this passage?
  • How can you apply this message in your current situation

Prayer

Invite the Holy Spirit to be present with you in this moment
And then, wait. Allow God’s peace to draw near.

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By |September 6th, 2021|Week 1|

3 September 2021 – Mark 7:37 (NIV)

Scripture

37 People were overwhelmed with amazement. “He has done everything well,” they said. “He even makes the deaf hear and the mute speak.”

Reflection

This verse is a “summary verse” which captures the ministry of Jesus which has been described in all of Mark 7 and everything prior. Jesus is amazing, mostly because of the way he is able to direct the supernatural on command. Nobody else is doing this. What can be easily missed in the details of the story is that Jesus has been going outside of his own people group, those who expected to receive the kind of supernatural help which Jesus was bringing. God does miracles for many reasons; compassion, to deliver and to help for example. He also does miracles to give us a sign. A sign that there is another kingdom and another king. And not just another king but The King, the king of kings is here. Now is the time to turn from whatever it is we are into, whatever or whoever we are placing our security and to seek this kingdom with all that we have and to not stop seeking until our last breath. It’s what the sign says we should do.

Thoughts for the day

  • What does this passage tell you about God or Jesus?
  • What do you feel God is telling you through this passage?
  • How can you apply this message in your current situation

Prayer

Think of another person in your life who needs God to move in their situation. Ask for God to be at work. Approach the Lord of all with boldness today, knowing that he delights in you, and those you love.

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By |September 3rd, 2021|Week 4|