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

11 August 2020 -2 Peter 3:10 (NIV)

Scripture

10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare.

Reflection

Today’s verse starts with the word “but” states a contrast to what was said before.  The preceding sentence presents God’s patience, long-term plan to provide everyone with time and opportunity to come to know Him as Lord.  It feels like He might almost wait forever before He gets around to the next step, like a very elderly, long-suffering great-grandfather who has a pace and schedule quite unlike those around him, making them feel frustrated.  For the readers of that time, they were facing a lot of objection (false teaching, persecution) and rejection (hard hearts, idolatry, people who turned away from their faith in Jesus) and perhaps God’s patience was not something the Christians appreciated, even if they knew they were to go about preaching the gospel to the world so that more might be saved.

So the writer Peter reminds them, the day of Jesus’ return will come, it is a sure thing.  Like a thief, the day will sneak up on when least expected.  But when that day comes, no one will miss it because everything that happens will so big, loud, hot and messy. It sounds like the earth and all will be reset, where the things mankind has built reflecting their achievements, advancements and progress will go to zero.  As Peter draws the readers’ attention to the fated destruction and futility of everything every person strives for, he asks, what then is eternal?  What is life about if all this is going to be destroyed?

He basically answers “our souls.” After all is said and done and all is laid bare, there will be a new heaven and earth, where righteousness dwells, that our souls can look forward to (verse 13).  Peter reminds the reader, there is an eternity, and there will be a perfect justice and sense of rightness.  This is not justice in the sense of another human-made legal system with loopholes and strategies that allow a wrongdoer with a well-presented case can elude rightful punishment from.  But it is a justice in a perfect environment with the goodness, fairness and wholeness that our souls have been longing for.  No wrongdoing will escape due judgment and its deserved consequences.

As such, what matters is caring and tending our souls by engaging God, asking Him to help us walk well and patiently in this imperfect world, driven by a hope of a perfect time, place and rightness He will bring about in His good time.

Thoughts for the day

  • As a Jesus-follower, why does it matter that our horizons on life go beyond this physical world and life in this physical body?
  • In light of the fact there will be a “reset” and God solely determines what the new world is like, what are the key takeaways from your most recent discussion with God about how your plans, goals and priorities fit in with His?

Prayer

Dear God and Heavenly Father, thank you so much for the hope that one day, everything will be right and perfect.  But I also cannot help but wonder how much of the objectives I am building towards and doing is going to withstand the “reset” that comes before that perfect world.  What will be of value when I am “laid bare”? Help me Lord to understand how to live, work and play today so that you will rate me well when we meet in person. Amen.

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By |August 11th, 2020|Week 2|

10 August 2020 -1 Thessalonians 5:2 (NIV)

Scripture

for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night.

Reflection

As covered in last Friday’s devotional, Paul writes in the paragraph (1 Thes 4:13-18) before today’s verse about what will happen when God comes again, how all followers of Jesus will be brought to His side, and tells the believers to be encouraged by the eventual prospect of being reunited with God and being with Him forever. Paul then says in today’s verse he will not discuss specifics (“we do not need to write to you”) as to the timing of Jesus’ return (“day of the Lord”) because believers already know that it will be an unexpected moment like a thief coming in the night.

However, he says, followers of Christ whose hope in life is exactly the fact that Jesus will come again should not be caught unaware, unprepared or unguarded “like others, who are asleep” (verse 6) even if the exact timing is uncertain. This means when God comes back whenever He does, believers should not be anxious, panicking or scrambling about what He will do/say then, what will happen to us and what we should be doing. In fact Paul tells the readers to live “awake and sober” lives, “putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and hope of salvation as a helmet” (verse 8). This sounds a lot like being soldiers standing by ready to fight knowing the battle is coming and they need to be equipped and prepared, able to launch out whenever the command comes. Paul ends this section by telling them to continue to encourage and build up each another.

So it is with us today. We too know very well Jesus is coming again – that is the entire basis of our hope in God that He will make all things right in the end and we have heard this repeatedly. We are also quite aware that we do not know when He is coming, as many have tried to predict unsuccessfully. Let us respond to Paul’s exhortation to be like soldiers developing and maintaining a state of readiness waiting for the King to return. This means help each other along to live and move with purpose and expectation, helping one another develop confidence in His care for us, and supporting the discovery of and participation in His plans for us here in the meantime. Until He comes again.

Thoughts for the day

On a spectrum of “Not at all” on one end and “Yes, absolutely” on the other, how are you letting your confidence in God’s character, assurance of His love and care for you, and the knowledge of your eternal security, drive your life movement?

  • If your answer leans towards “Not at all,” take a moment to acknowledge that before God and ask Him to grow you in your awareness and experience of Him, so that you can better understand what living and moving for Him means.  Who can you speak with to understand how he/she experiences God?
  • If your answer leans towards “Yes, absolutely,” ask God to encourage you more, directly and through anything and anybody He chooses, to keep you inclined in that direction. Also, what does it look like for you to encourage and support your brothers and sisters in Christ to be live for God well?

Prayer

Dear God and Heavenly Father, there are so many things that my head knows about you, but the portion that has translated into actual life impact is far from where it should be.  Affect my soul Lord, I want to be able to move freely, willingly, intentionally and continually in your direction and through the path you have put in front of me.  Help me to help other believers as I go on my journey.  Amen

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By |August 10th, 2020|Week 2|

7 August 2020 -1 Thessalonians 4:18 (NIV)

Scripture

18 Therefore encourage one another with these words.

Reflection

This verse concludes a previous couple of verses (vv.13-17) where Paul explained what happens to the believers who have died. Paul stated in verses 13-17 that Christians who have died will be resurrected to join the living saints with the Lord Jesus when He comes, that they will precede those who are alive in that day, that those who are alive will be united with them, and that they will all be with the Lord forever, give abundant reasons for rejoicing. Not only do Christians not grieve like unbelievers, but followers of Christ can look forward eagerly to that great day because this is the great hope of the church, to see the Lord and be united with Him forever.

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

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 |August 7th, 2020|Week 1|

6 August 2020 -1 Thessalonians 4:13 (NIV)

Scripture

13 Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope.

Reflection

The phrase ‘those who fall asleep’ refers to Christians who die. The figure of sleep for death is common in the NT (Mark 5:39; John 11:11). This does not refer to the sleeping of the soul, because Paul wrote elsewhere that a Christian who is absent from his body is present with the Lord (2 Cor. 5:8; Phil. 1:23; 1 Thes. 5:10). It is rather the ‘sleep’ of the body in the earth until it is resurrected, changed into a glorious body, and reunited with the soul (1 Cor. 15:35–57; 2 Cor. 5:1–9).

Paul wanted the Thessalonians to be neither ignorant nor grieving like the rest of men, that is, like unbelievers, over the death of fellow believers. Christians do grieve over the loss of loved ones; this is a normal human experience which even Jesus shared (John 11:35). But the grief of Christians differs from that of unbelievers, for the unbeliever have no hope of a bodily resurrection with Christ (1 Thes. 4:16).

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 |August 6th, 2020|Week 1|

5 August 2020 -1 Thessalonians 4:11-12 (NIV)

Scripture

11 and to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you, 12 so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.

Reflection

These two verses form part of the second specific exhortation regarding Christian living (vv. 9-12). The first exhortation focused more on what not to do, ‘the negative’ i.e. dangers to avoid (vv.3-8) whereas this exhortation focuses on what to do ‘the positve’ i.e. cultivating a practice to love others (vv.9-12). And with this mindset to love others, Paul provides in verses 11 and 12, practical ways to cultivate such a kind of love towards others. The first is to live a quiet life. The word ‘quiet’ is best understood as ‘restful’ or ‘restfulness’ rather than quiet as opposed to talkativeness. The second counsel Paul gives it to mind one’s own business and the last advice he gives is to work with your hands. The third point relates to one’s daily work.  Working with your hands demonstrates love for the brethren because a self-supporting person is not a burden to others. Through writing the third point Paul is also addressing the thought that a too restful life can also be a problem, hence it’s good to work with your hands. Work itself is a blessing, and working with one’s hands should never be despised by Christians.

May these two verses help us to love our brothers more, for such a life is pleasing to the Lord.

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 |August 5th, 2020|Week 1|

4 August 2020 -1 Thessalonians 4:7 (NIV)

Scripture

For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life.

Reflection

The Anchor Yale Bible Dictionary defines impurity or uncleanness as follows: that which is a threat to or opposes holiness, and hence must be kept separate from that sphere. When we look at the term holiness especially related to God’s unique holiness as separation we see in passages such as Exod. 15:11; 1 Sam. 2:2; and Rev. 15:4, God alone is majestic and holy and nothing unholy can be in God’s presence i.e. sin. We also know from the Scriptures that which God separates to himself become holy too or get that status i.e. the holy place in the tabernacle and God’s chosen people (Israel in the OT) and the all who believe in Jesus in the NT.

Thus, circling back to today’s verse, God called us to be set apart (by his undertaking – not our own) to live a holy life. This process of living a holy life is often referred to as sanctification in the Bible. May we, who believe in Jesus, know we have been set apart to be holy for God’s glory, and continue to seek with the help of the Holy Spirit to surrender our impure lives to Jesus so that we too can live a holy life, which in turn points to 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

Take time to pray Psalm 96. Allow it to shape prayers of thanksgiving as you are reminded of who God is.

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By |August 4th, 2020|Week 1|