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Devotional2018-09-28T23:40:26+08:00

28 January 2020 -Philippians 2:5 (NIV)

Scripture

In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:

Reflection

“In your relationships” can also be translated, “in your common life” or “in your community”. We are Shanghai COMMUNITY Fellowship; we don’t take community for granted – we have to work at it. Our “natural” inclinations are toward, ambition, pride, and the desire for prominence. Yet Christ, whom we pattern our lives after, who was rich yet for our sake became poor, is leading us into a better way. Where is your community life being threatened, and the problem is you! Too much pride, too much self-concern, too much you!

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

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

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By |January 28th, 2020|Categories: Week 5|

27 January 2020 -Philippians 2:3-4 (NIV)

Scripture

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

Reflection

One of the church’s greatest strengths is its unity, more specifically it is the unity which arises out of diversity. Someone has said that the devil does not fear a large church as much as he does a unified church. A diverse group of Christians living in unity reveals the love of Christ, subverts the world and its system and brings hope to the hopeless. The church in Philippi was in danger of losing its unity, a threatening situation indeed. The three things potentially present in any of us which will disrupt the unity of the church are: personal ambition, the desire for personal prestige and the concentration on self. In a hymn to the greatest human being the world has ever known, the life of Jesus could be summarized in one word, “Others”

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

“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 |January 27th, 2020|Categories: Week 5|

24 January 2020 -Ephesians 3:6 (NIV)

Scripture

This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus.

Reflection

As far back as history goes, one did not join another people group and share its treasures or heritage/culture like a hobby club or a vocation; one was usually conquered and if he was allowed to live, he would follow or serve the victorious people group, but for sure he typically would not be deemed equal to them.

So, it was quite revolutionary for Paul, a top-notch Jew, to be promoting that the Jews were more like the “Phase I” (as opposed to the entirety) of God’s people, and unveiling a “mystery” that God had a grander vision of saving all humankind.  After encountering Jesus on the road to Damascus, Paul spent many years reflecting over his Jewish heritage and teachings about God, Jesus’ teachings and claims about being God.  Paul concluded that (as expressed in this letter to the Ephesians) that God wants everyone, Jew or non-Jew (Gentile), and every person is precious to Him.  Paul would spend the rest of his life letting people know that through Jesus, everyone can become part of God’s people group, everyone who calls God “Father” is God’s child, and everyone who is God’s child inherits all the promises God has made.

Therefore, our overriding identity as citizenship in God’s kingdom has implications on how we live in this world.  We are part of one body serving God’s purpose of representing Him in this world, to love each other and uplift one another, to love those around us and welcome more into God’s family group.  We do not look like each other, nor do we have the same role/function, but we work together to keep pointing everyone, saved and unsaved, towards God so that all may experience God keeping his promise to us and transforming us to be more like Him.

Thoughts for the day

  • Thank God for having a grander vision to include you in his kingdom, so that you had the opportunity to hear and respond to the good news of Jesus Christ.
  • Since your key identity marker is now Jesus Christ, and bearing in mind family resemblance in the context of different DNA has more to do with similarities in behavior, values and lifestyle, what sort of “family resemblance” do you bear in relation to Him?
  • The key to developing family resemblance is spending time with the family, one just “absorbs” it. How much time are you spending with the family of God – the Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit and the other children – just to “soak it in”?

Prayer

Dear Lord and heavenly Father, thank you for bringing me into your family.  Help me to prioritize and enjoy time with you and the rest of the family.  I want to be part of your grander vision, to point more people to want to get to know you and experience your goodness.  Use me! Amen.

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By |January 24th, 2020|Categories: Week 4|

23 January 2020 -John 12:23-24 (NIV)

Scripture

23 Jesus replied, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 24 Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.

Reflection

Never let it be said that our God is a selfish God and withholds the best from us.

What kind of God would give up His only treasured son to be wrongfully condemned and executed so that the rest of us could live and be reunited with Him?  The kind that is the perfect heavenly Father that values us so much He considers His son’s suffering is a worthy price to pay to enable our reconciliation.

What kind of God considers the future unconfirmed potential more worthwhile to fight and die for than the clear and present awe, respect and glory He was getting?  The kind that is the perfect Savior that is so motivated to save everyone and let none perish, that He would go the full distance and do what was needed to create the option of saving and receiving anyone who would call on Him at any time, regardless of their personal history.

What does this mean for us who say we follow Jesus?  It means we strive to uphold the “upside-down” principles of the kingdom of heaven in the face of world’s contrasting values.  Dying to my preferences for God’s preferences brings life that really matters.  The least is the greatest.  The hated is the loved.  The lower is the honored.  Choose the narrow path.  Live today’s reality in view of the promised future.  His way and His timing, not man’s, not ours’.  Let’s

Thoughts for the day

  • Thank God for being the kind of God who has loves you so much to give you His best. Thank God for saving and bringing you back in relationship with Him.
  • Where have you felt that God has withheld good things from you? Have a chat with God about that.
  • Take a look at the opportunities around you, what “upside-down” principle of the kingdom of heaven can you uphold today? Tomorrow? This week?  This season

Prayer

Dear Lord and heavenly Father, thank you for treasuring me so much.  May I increasingly appreciate what you have done for me and put in sincere effort to grow my relationship with you.  May I daily ponder on your word and live out the principles of your kingdom, so that I may become stronger in faith and more natural in deeds that follow in your footsteps.  Amen.

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By |January 23rd, 2020|Categories: Week 4|

22 January 2020 -Isaiah 9:1-2 (NIV)

Scripture

Nevertheless, there will be no more gloom for those who were in distress. In the past he humbled the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the future he will honor Galilee of the nations, by the Way of the Sea, beyond the Jordan—

The people walking in darkness
    have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of deep darkness
    a light has dawned.

Reflection

This part of the book of Isaiah is the part about him calling the faithful believers of God to look beyond their challenging times, telling them here will be a future where light comes and fills their present darkness.  There so many verses about difficult times in the bible because such times are a part of life.  This is the impact of sin entering our world, this is the condition of human brokenness that distresses every generation. And there are all kinds of dark… oppression, persecution, sickness, death of loved ones, war, poverty, injustice, betrayal, and so on.

What were the faithful in Isaiah’s time called to do?  They were to believe that God keeps his word.

First, they were to remember that the tribes of Zebulun and Napthali were brought down as God had warned would be the direct consequence of turning away from Him.  This would likely have triggered even older accounts of the fate of other similar peoples, cities and kingdoms like that of Babel, Sodom, Gomorrah and such.

Second, they were to trust in God’s ability transform things and situations into something good.  Galilee was not particularly great or special at that time.  Yet God said through Isaiah that He will honor Galilee in the future.  Galilee would become the place where Jesus did much of His ministry, bringing hope and light to the world.  Today, believers all over the world often come to Galilee to trace His footsteps and be inspired.

So what are we believers today supposed to do when we are in distress?  We have even more reason than Isaiah’s listeners to trust in God because God has already delivered on His whole promise.  We know He repeatedly rescued His people throughout history, and He executed the Galilee part of the promise when He came as Jesus, lived on earth, died and defeated death when He rose again.  While all types of darkness is tough to experience, perhaps death (by any cause) is the worst because it is inevitable, and we are absolutely helpless to overcome it.

But because Jesus lives, because He is greater than all things that are right and wrong with this life, we know He has overcome the worst of all darkness.  So we know we can face tomorrow whatever it looks like, and we can trust Him to bring us from what looks like nothing (great, pleasant, joyful) to a bright and glorious future in His time.

Thoughts for the day

  • What dark circumstances surround you today? Recollect God’s faithfulness to you and those you know.  He is in the business of saving His people since the beginning of time as we know it.  Let Jesus’s resurrection, His power and promise, be the light breaking in on your darkness.
  • Who do you know is going through a distressing time? Ask God to use you to be a light dawning on their darkness, reveal to you what that looks like for you to take action, and the courage and opportunity to show up and be that ray of love and light

Prayer

(Today’s prayer is inspired by another old hymn…)

Dear Jesus, because you live, I can face tomorrow. Because you live, all fear is gone.  And because I know you hold the future, life – whatever it looks like – is worth living, just because you live.  May this truth sink deep in my heart and let its light radiate through me. Amen.

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By |January 22nd, 2020|Categories: Week 4|

21 January 2020 -Revelation 5:9 (NIV)

Scripture

The Lord did not set his affection on you and choose you because you were more numerous than other peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples. But it was because the Lord loved you and kept the oath he swore to your ancestors that he brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the land of slavery, from the power of Pharaoh king of Egypt. Know therefore that the Lord your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commandments.

Reflection

This verse partially describes what Jesus’ disciple John saw in his vision of what would happen in heaven in the future.  During John’s time, seals were applied to close a scroll or document to act as proof that the document.  If the scroll had been opened, the seal would have been broken.  If the seal was unbroken, it meant the contents of the document had not been tampered and was therefore authentic, awaiting its intended reader’s gaze.

The contents of the scroll are not explicitly described, but the verses 1-5 before this provide a sense of its important nature.  First, the scroll is held in God’s right hand when He is sitting on the throne, as if it were an official object to be awarded in a formal ceremony.  Second, the scroll is sealed seven times (like seven locks on a door) to indicate the importance of the document’s integrity until it is rightfully opened.  Third, the person who is qualified to open the scroll is very hard to find; a universal search had been conducted, but no qualified candidate “in heaven or on earth or under the earth” could be found, suggesting that only someone beyond or greater than this universe was worthy.   John has started weeping at the fruitless search, reflecting the sense of the frantic hopelessness in the atmosphere.

Then comes Jesus, the Lamb of God, who died on behalf of every person to pay the price of redeeming them from eternal slavery to sin and death.  When He comes before the throne, the mood changes – hope and praise fills the atmosphere again and a new song is sung – because now this important document about the future can be opened.  As He opens each seal, the following chapters describe detailed waves of painful punishment poured on the earth, and the faithful followers of God are rescued and called up to Him.  Of course Jesus would be the only one to unleash punishment on the world, because He is God and He warned everyone would be judged.  And of course Jesus would be the only one who could get back everyone who had trusted in Him with their souls, because He defeated death and sin when He died for them and rose again.

Thoughts for the day

  • If you are a follower of Jesus, rejoice because we know the ending! He comes to call back those of us who entrust our lives to Himself, wherever we are, dead or alive.  And He comes to punish those who deserve it.  So you need hang in here, on this side of heaven, with your eyes and hope on Him, till the day He comes again.
  • If you are not sure of whether you’ll get called up by Jesus (i.e. you have received Christ at some point, you kind of know Him, but you are not absolutely sure you know He’s got you), then hear Him saying this to you and take heart:
    • “You, [fill in your name], from [fill in your tribe, language, people and nation] have been purchased for God by my blood because I was slain for you.  I have bought your right to enter heaven. I’ve got you.”
  • If you are not a follower of Jesus, and having read this you now know Jesus has paid the price of admission to heaven, will you accept His gift to you and trust Him with your eternity?  If you say yes, rejoice and let people know

Prayer

Thank you Jesus for saving me.  I (re)commit myself to you, I (re)pin my hopes on you, I (re)position my eyes and hope for this life on you.  Amen.

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By |January 21st, 2020|Categories: Week 4|