Growth involves change, and often we resist change because we are used to life staying pretty much the same.
Growth involves change, and often we resist change because we are used to life staying pretty much the same.
1 The word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision. God said, “Abram, don’t be afraid. I will defend you and give you a great reward.” 2 But Abram said, “Lord God, there is nothing you can give me that will make me happy, because I have no son. My slave Eliezer from Damascus will get everything I own after I die.” 3 Abram said, “You have given me no son, so a slave born in my house will get everything I have.” 4 Then the Lord spoke to Abram and said, “That slave will not be the one to get what you have. You will have a son who will get everything you own.” 5 Then God led Abram outside and said, “Look at the sky. See the many stars. There are so many you cannot count them. Your family will be like that.” Genesis 15:2-5 Easy-to-Read Version
God does not change our circumstances without first changing our way of thinking.
7 The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; and He knows those who trust in Him. Nahum 1:7Have you ever wondered where God is when you are facing trials and difficulties in your life?
20 But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, 21 keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life. Jude 1:20-21, English Standard Version
The Apostle Jude wrote his epistle to warn believers to beware of false teachers who preached against the literal return of our Lord. He told them to earnestly fight for the faith. That is, to make an effort to keep the victorious truth of the gospel alive within their households and community.
4 But when the kindness of God our Saviour and His love for mankind appeared, 5 He saved us—not by works of righteousness that we had done, but according to His mercy, through the washing of regeneration and renewal by the Holy Spirit. 6 He poured out this Spirit on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour, 7 so that having been justified by His grace, we may become heirs with the hope of eternal life. Titus 3:4-7, Holman Christian Standard BibleHow we perceive the Trinity will affect the way we live the Christian life.
18 For through Christ we both have access to the Father by one Spirit. Ephesians 2:18, New International VersionIt is through salvation that you have free access to the Trinity.
34 Jesus answered them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin. 35 And a slave does not abide in the house forever, but a son abides forever. 36 Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed. John 8:34-36
Have you experienced what it means to be enslaved by sin?
This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. 1 John 5:14When did you last pray to God? Do you remember what it was about?
21 Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” 22 And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. John 20:21-22The Holy Spirit is a missionary.
26 Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 27 and whoever wants to be first must be your slave— 28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many. Matthew 20:26-28As our Servant-King, Jesus taught us the importance of living a life of serving God and others.
11 He came to the very people he created]—to those who should have recognized him, but they did not receive him. 12 But those who embraced him and took hold of his name were given authority to become the children of God! John 1:11-12 The Passion Translation
The beauty of knowing Christ is being reconciled with God and adopted into His family. We are all siblings in Christ, and we expressed our sense of belonging and unity by sharing our lives with each other and loving those around us.
7 As you go, proclaim this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ 8 Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy,[a] drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give. Matthew 10:7-8 New International VersionWhat is the pain of our city? Do you know what hurts people put up with and live with each day? Do we care enough to do something about it?
28 Him we preach, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus. Colossians 1:28As a starting point in our Christian life, we should consider ourselves perfect in Christ. This is our inheritance in God through Christ.
11 And that same Christ gave these gifts to people: He made some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to go and tell the Good News, and some to care for and teach God’s people. 12 Christ gave these gifts to prepare God’s holy people for the work of serving, to make the body of Christ stronger. 13 This work must continue until we are all joined together in what we believe and in what we know about the Son of God. Our goal is to become like a full-grown man—to look just like Christ and have all his perfection. Ephesians 4:11-13 Easy-to-Read Version
The gospel does not call us to be better Christians, but it calls us to be Christ and to reveal Christ to a world who does not know Him.
44 All the believers were in fellowship as one body, and they shared with one another whatever they had. 45 Out of generosity they even sold their assets to distribute the proceeds to those who were in need among them. 47 They were continually filled with praises to God, enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord kept adding to their number daily those who were coming to life. Acts 2:44-45, 47 The Passion Translation
Practicing how to live and belong in a healthy community containing mature friendships within the four walls of the church is the training ground for our wider role in society. This is what we can do to make a positive difference in the world we live in.
7 As you go, proclaim this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ 8 Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy,[a] drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give. Matthew 10:7-8 New International Version
What is the pain of our city? Do you know what hurts people put up with and live with each day? Do we care enough to do something about it?
42 Every believer was faithfully devoted to following the teachings of the apostles. Their hearts were mutually linked to one another, sharing communion and coming together regularly for prayer. 47 They were continually filled with praises to God, enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord kept adding to their number daily those who were coming to life. Acts 2:42, 47 Passion Translation
The church is more than a building, more than just an organisation. What is the church for you today?
So faith comes from hearing the good news. Romans 10:17 Easy-to-Read Version
From a scriptural perspective, hearing is more than just mere listening. It involves understanding what we hear and acting accordingly. Thus, faith leads us to action, and our actions will also enrich our faith and deepen our friendship with God.
13 Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise. James 5:13 English Standard Bible
Worship is not restricted to an event or a physical location.
We have the mind of Christ. 1 Corinthians 2:16
God hates what sin is doing to you and you should have the same attitude towards sin as your Father.
Pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. Ephesians 6:18 New International Verse
The Apostle Paul calls us to pray in the Spirit for all of the Lord's people with all kinds of prayers. Have you ever thought about the different kinds of prayers Paul is referring to?
31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? Romans 8:31-32We hold back from God—not because we are weak, but because we do not know how complete and strong we are in Christ.
Be sure you give Archippus this message: “Be faithful to complete the ministry you received from our Lord Jesus! Colossians 4:17, Passion Translation
While the Apostle Paul was in prison, he wrote many letters to encourage the believers in the churches he planted and nurtured.
12 Epaphras, a member of your own fellowship and a servant of Christ Jesus, sends you his greetings. He always prays earnestly for you, asking God to make you strong and perfect, fully confident that you are following the whole will of God. 13 I can assure you that he prays hard for you and also for the believers in Laodicea and Hierapolis. Colossians 4:12-13, New Living TranslationFew of us know much about wrestling in prayer.
1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:1-2 English Standard Version
How are you supposed to endure the challenges of the Christian life?
I am convinced that any suffering we endure is less than nothing compared to the magnitude of glory that is about to be unveiled within us Romans 8:18 The Passion TranslationGod is love, and He won't do anything to us that will violate His nature and character.
8 Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins. 1 Peter 4:8, New Living TranslationNo believer is without personal weakness or fault.
23 Abraham believed God...and he was called the friend of God. James 2:23How has my faith in God impacted me?
16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes. Romans 1:16 English Standard VersionHave you ever regretted or lost momentum in following Jesus?
11 For you know how, like a father with his children, 12 we exhorted each one of you and encouraged you and charged you to walk in a manner worthy of God, who calls you into his own kingdom and glory. 1 Thessalonians 2:11-12, English Standard VersionIs a life well lived, walked worthy of what God had called for us?
4 For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function, 5 so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another. Romans 12:4-5Do you belong and if not, desire to be a part of a healthy church community?
25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, 26 that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, 27 that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. Ephesians 5:25-27
Often many believers long to be holy and clean, but somehow, they are unaware or too ignorant to trust and lean upon the righteousness of Christ working in and through them. Instead, they continue to feel bad and guilty by not learning to rest on the truth of what Christ had done for them. Do you remind yourself of who you are in Christ after you have failed?
24 “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. 26 And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. 27 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.” Matthew 7:24-27 (ESV)
In His Sermon on the Mount, Jesus' heartfelt desire was for you to have such a firm foundation of faith— just like a house built on the rock for it can withstand the winds and waves that hit hard around it. Firm as a rock.
11 Then the Lord said to Moses: “How long will these people reject Me? And how long will they not believe Me, with all the signs which I have performed among them? Numbers 14:11Do you find it challenging to believe in God's Word, especially when circumstances are against you?
17 He sent a man before them—Joseph—who was sold as a slave. 18 They hurt his feet with fetters, He was laid in irons. 19 Until the time that his word came to pass, the word of the Lord tested him. Psalm 105:17-19
Most of us are familiar with the story of Joseph in the Bible; as a son sold into slavery by his jealous brothers. But rose to a position of prestige, power and prominence. Since he was young, Joseph knew from God about his destiny but God's Word "tested" Joseph until he was ready to fulfil it.
26 Remember, dear brothers and sisters, that few of you were wise in the world’s eyes or powerful or wealthy when God called you. 27 Instead, God chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And he chose things that are powerless to shame those who are powerful. 28 God chose things despised by the world, things counted as nothing at all, and used them to bring to nothing what the world considers important. 29 As a result, no one can ever boast in the presence of God. 30 God has united you with Christ Jesus. For our benefit God made him to be wisdom itself. Christ made us right with God; he made us pure and holy, and he freed us from sin. 31 Therefore, as the Scriptures say, “If you want to boast, boast only about the Lord.” 1 Corinthians 1:26-31
Are you willing to be a fool for Christ?
18 And those who are peacemakers will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of righteousness. James 3:18 New Living TranslationIt matters to know the difference between being a peacemaker and a peacekeeper.
9 Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. Matthew 5:9In one of His beatitudes, Jesus sees all believers as peacemakers.
14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. Romans 8:14In the biblical times, there is a clear distinction between a child and a son.
5 As Jesus sat down, he looked out and saw the massive crowd of people scrambling up the hill, for they wanted to be near him. So he turned to Philip and said, “Where will we buy enough food to feed all these people?” 6 Now Jesus already knew what he was about to do, but he said this to stretch Philip’s faith. 7 Philip answered, “Well, I suppose if we were to give everyone only a snack, it would cost thousands of dollars[ to buy enough food!” John 6:5-7 Passion Translation
There has never been an experience in life where God cannot use or turn to our favour. These are often challenges, obstacles and even life-changing events that have left you feeling helpless and lost.
Woman: 19 Sir, it is obvious to me that You are a prophet. 20 Our fathers worshiped here on this mountain, but Your people say that Jerusalem is the only place for all to worship. Which is it?
Jesus: 21-24 Woman, I tell you that neither is so. Believe this: a new day is coming—in fact, it’s already here—when the importance will not be placed on the time and place of worship but on the truthful hearts of worshipers. You worship what you don’t know while we worship what we do know, for God’s salvation is coming through the Jews. The Father is spirit, and He is seeking followers whose worship is sourced in truth and deeply spiritual as well. Regardless of whether you are in Jerusalem or on this mountain, if you do not seek the Father, then you do not worship. John 4:19-24 The VoiceJesus is not looking for fans, but followers.
26 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you. John 14:26
Before Jesus’ return to heaven, He assured His disciples that He would not forsake them like orphans. He told them that the Father would send the Holy Spirit in His place. The Holy Spirit, whom Jesus calls the Helper, will enable them and every believer to grow well in Christ.
18 Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere. Ephesians 6:18 New Living Translation
Prayer is an active partnership with God in seeing His will done on earth as it is in heaven!
7 Therefore, accept each other just as Christ has accepted you so that God will be given glory. God serves us as we serve Him. Romans 15:7 New Living Translation
The Apostle Paul tells us that we honour God when we are able to accept one another, just as Christ accepts us. How does Jesus accept us?
7 For God will never give you the spirit of fear, but the Holy Spirit who gives you mighty power, love, and self-control. 2 Timothy 1:7 Passion Translation
Some people are trapped by a timid spirit.
19 Christ’s love is greater than anyone can ever know, but I pray that you will be able to know that love. Then you can be filled with everything God has for you. Ephesians 3:19 Easy-to-Read Version
When was the last time you felt loved by God?
And I pray that you, firmly fixed in love yourselves, may be able to grasp (with all Christians) how wide and deep and long and high is the love of Christ—and to know for yourselves that love so far beyond our comprehension. Ephesians 3:18-19 J.B. Phillips
How often do you pray to comprehend the incomprehensible love of God?
17 May Christ through your faith [actually] dwell (settle down, abide, make His permanent home) in your hearts! May you be rooted deep in love and founded securely on love. Ephesians 3:17 Amplified Bible
The gospel starts and ends with God's love.
19 The woman said, “Sir, I can see that you are a prophet. 20 Our fathers worshiped on this mountain. But you Jews say that Jerusalem is the place where people must worship.” 21 Jesus said, “Believe me, woman! The time is coming when you will not have to be in Jerusalem or on this mountain to worship the Father. 22 You Samaritans worship something you don’t understand. We Jews understand what we worship, since salvation comes from the Jews. 23 But the time is coming when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth. In fact, that time is now here. And these are the kind of people the Father wants to be his worshipers. 24 God is spirit. So the people who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” John 4:19-24 Easy to Read Version
Jesus tells us that a wrong and unscriptural belief of worship can sometimes rob us from the experience of enjoying and encountering God.
1 Consider the incredible love that the Father has shown us in allowing us to be called “children of God”—and that is not just what we are called, but what we are. 1 John 3:1 J.B. Phillips
It is awesome to know that God sees us more than all our guilt, sin and shame put together.
1 I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. 2 Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit. 3 You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. John 15:1-3
There is a common teaching that suggests just as diamonds are formed under intense pressure, God uses persecutions and sufferings to perfect His church. Somehow we have forgotten that it is Jesus alone who keeps us from stumbling and presents us faultless (Jude 1:24-25). Therefore, we should not fear our standing before God since Jesus has already imputed His righteousness on us. If God needs to make us more perfect through misery, hurt and pain, then He is actually nullifying the perfect work of His Son.
The work of Jesus was complete at the Cross.
We do suffer persecution and tribulation, but we should recognise that it is not because we lack faith. When we decide to have faith in God, it is the Enemy who wants to attack and deceive us out of our faith. As our Righteous Father, God perfects us through His Word (2 Timothy. 3:15-17). In His High Priestly Prayer, Jesus asked God to sanctify, that is, to cleanse us and empower us to be fruitful sons and daughters: "Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth" (John 17:17).
How does God do it?
In John 15:1-3, Jesus described God as the Vinedresser who would repeatedly prune the vine to bear fruit, more fruit and much fruit. Again, many assume pruning involves cutting away, that is, some kind of spiritual mutilation and destruction. It is this false understanding of cutting away that leads believers to think God will use other means besides His Word to perfect the church.
Jesus says His Father prunes the unfruitful branches as well as the fruitful branches (John 15:2). The original meaning for “prune” is to “lift up” and not “trim or cut away” as is often taught. In other words, if you are experiencing some fruits or no fruit right now, rejoice that God will lift you up with the truth of His Word so that you stay fruitful and even more productive in every area of your life.
Moreover, in John 15:3, Jesus told His disciples, “You are already clean because of the word (that is, logos in Greek) which I have spoken to you. Logos means the fully revealed Word of God. This means God does not use any other means to perfect us apart from Jesus who is God's fully revealed Word to perfect us all. Take note of what the writer of the epistle to the Hebrews tells us: "For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified (Hebrews 10:14). What could be clearer? By a single offering Jesus forever perfected us; not by persecution and sufferings, but through His perfect sacrifice on the Cross.
Ask Yourself: In what area God is lifting me with His Word right now?
31 “You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teaching. 32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free. John 8:31-32, Common English Bible
Have you found God’s truth for yourself?
Many believers often feel they need more teachings, more inner healing or more prophetic insights instead of practising on what they already know and believe in Christ. While there is a place for sound teachings and spiritual understanding, we do not acquire spiritual knowledge for its own sake or to satisfy an inquisitive mind. A big part of our growth and maturity involves more than an accumulation of knowledge alone but comes from a true transformation that flows from an abiding personal relationship with Jesus.
Jesus tells us that the reality of our true freedom hinges on our ability to "know the truth".
The Greek word for "know" is ginōskō, and it is often used to describe the physical intimacy between a man and his wife. In other words, "to know the truth" is not about learning a concept, but it is about living out the reality of what is already ours in Christ in regards to His relationship with His Bride, the Church.
Receiving knowledge can help us be aware of our freedom, but knowledge itself cannot set us free. This is because the very idea of freedom is defined differently across many schools of thought. In most instances, their proponents and philosophers see freedom as a goal of personal achievement, and not an outcome of something involving God. As such, they are always offering contradictory propositions or self-help programs that cannot be all true at the same time.
Jesus brings true and full freedom.
This is because He paid the price of our freedom from sin, God's wrath, and death through His finished work on the cross. As such, the freedom He offers us is not a goal to be earned, but a gift to be experienced.
Have you received His gift of salvation, forgiveness of your sins and an everlasting life with Him?
The true freedom we have in Christ is unlike the false, anarchic and ego-centred freedom that urges us to cast off self-restraint so to fulfil our selfish desire. Rather, it is the freedom of living in Christ's perfect love that drives out fear. Cast this fear out today! (1 John 4:18). Then we truly experience God's spirit of sound mind, power and love working in and through us.
Ask Yourself: How am I pursuing the truth of my life in Christ from damaging thought patterns, strongholds and undue fear?
37 Then Pilate said to him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.” 38 Pilate said to him, “What is truth?” John 18:37-38 English Standard Version
We live in a world where truth is fast becoming relative and is constantly shifting like the wind. Is it no wonder that we are confused and divided?
4 Blessed is that man who makes the Lord his trust. Psalm 40:4
Is it difficult for you to trust God and believe He will come through in your present situation?
8 Yet you, Lord, are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand. Isaiah 64:8, New International Version
Like clay in a potter's hands, be willing and yielding as God shapes you into the image of His Son. If you truly learn to trust God for what He is doing in your life, there is no need to fear or lose hope because you are being transformed into a masterpiece with the most beautiful story to tell.
21 Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.” Isaiah 30:21 New International Version
There are believers who holds a misguided notion that God micromanages their every move.
4 Whatever was written beforehand is meant to instruct us in how to live. The Scriptures impart to us encouragement and inspiration so that we can live in hope and endure all things. Romans 15:4 The Passion Translation
The Bible was experienced first before it was written.
This was so we too can personally experience the Bible for ourselves and live out according to what was written. The Bible is the Word of God as much as it is personal to each of us. According to the Apostle Paul, the stories and characters were written so that we can find encouragement and hope for both today and the future.
Have you read the Bible and allowed God to speak to you personally through His Word?
Too few of us realise how many lives were sacrificed in history and how many good people who have laboured hard and with dedication to put the Bible in our hands. It will do us well to honour their memory by committing to a daily habit of reading the Bible, and at the same time, we are also treating God's Word with the respect and reverence it deserves.
Simply reading the Bible for information is not enough if we truly yearn for transformation. For many believers, discovering God's plan and purpose seems difficult to find, hard to obey and easy to miss. Truth is, when you are full of God's word, you are full of God's will. By knowing God's Word, it gives you an edge in discerning the voice of Jesus and to know His truth from error. God wants to empower you to walk confidently by faith and not by sight. Confirm your walk in His Word. Anyone who gets bored reading the Bible is actually disconnected with God and distracted by a host of other issues. Remember, if God never leaves us nor forsakes us. Have you wondered then who might have left the room? We are bored because we constantly crave stimulation and that puts us in danger of an addictive behaviour. Boredom can become a thought habit with devastating effects, like cynicism, faithlessness and an unteachable spirit.
How could you be bored when God has so many wonderful things in store for you? Remember that God gives life and light to His word.
It is good to pray for wisdom and revelation to discover what God is saying to you. Rather than just seeing God's Word as a means to prepare for a sermon, a bible study or a quick fix to life’s problems, it is much more than that. Learn to encounter God's Word relationally. God is your Heavenly Father who desires to be with you. Discover God's amazing love and grace again and again by spending your time in His Word for every season in your life. God’s Word is life to your flesh and bones. When God opens His Word to you, He is showing where He wants to take you. His Word is dynamic, purposeful and exciting. When you walk in His purpose, you will also experience His promises, provisions and favour. This makes obedience and holy living a real possibility.Ask Yourself: How can I describe my relationship with God right now? Am I bored or still have a childlike faith?
23 Above all, be careful what you think because your thoughts control your life. Proverbs 4:23, Easy-to-Read Version
How do my thoughts affect my emotions, mood and actions? Many of us have the tendency to think more negatively than positively.
Negative thinking breeds negative consequences and self-fulfilling prophecies.
Often those negative thoughts are repetitive and unproductive in nature. They trap you in an unending cycle of defeat and failure that affects your energy levels, make you less confident in your abilities, and rob you of joy and contributes to strains in your health and relationships.
God wants you to be the victor and overcomer.
If you want to create positive changes in your life and become a person of value and influence, you need to retrain your pattern of thinking and attitude with the truth of God's word. When Jesus was tempted in the wilderness, He used Scriptures to resist Satan. In the same way, you must use God's Word to combat and defeat all negative thoughts.
Don't believe every thought you have but follow the Apostle Paul's prescription to take every thought captive and make it obey Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5). Remember that the battle of the mind is won by deeply rooting yourself in who you are and what you have in Christ. Your unshakeable identity and irrefutable authority in Christ is your inheritance as a child of God.
A negative thought can make you a prisoner of your own mind unless you grab hold of it and subject it to the truth of Christ which sets you free. Fix your thoughts on Jesus today.
Instead of letting your negative thoughts rule your mind, give all your worries to the Lord because He cares for you (1 Peter 5:7). When Paul stood before King Agrippa, he confidently declared, "I think myself happy" in spite of his situation (Acts 26:2). Rather than allowing circumstances to have a hold over his thinking and feelings, Paul had such an unspeakable joy in Christ that transcends his trials and tribulations.
This joy is not something that happens when everything turns up right for you. Even in the darkest moment of your life, this supernatural joy is already yours because Christ lives in you. You don't have to do anything but believe in Him who promised never to leave you nor forsake you.
Ask Yourself: Do I constantly think myself happy because of who I am in Christ?
1 Then Jesus left the Jordan, full of the Holy Spirit, and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness 2 for forty days to be tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and when they were over, he was hungry. 3 The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread.” Luke 4:1-3, Christian Standard Bible
One of Satan's major attacks is against your identity in Christ.
7 Resist the devil and he will flee from you. James 4:7
Though the phrase "spiritual warfare" never appears even once in the Bible, its concept is clearly biblical. However, many believers don't have a good understanding of spiritual warfare, and what they usually know are mostly superstitions and misconceptions. This lack of knowledge will cause them to live a confused, fearful and defeated life.
10 A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on all of God’s armour so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. Ephesians 6:10-11 New Living Translation
Jesus is our best defence whenever we are attacked by the devil.
3 He asked me, “Son of man, can these bones live?” I said, “Sovereign Lord, you alone know.” 4 Then he said to me, “Prophesy to these bones and say to them, ‘Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord! 5 This is what the Sovereign Lord says to these bones: I will make breath[a] enter you, and you will come to life. 6 I will attach tendons to you and make flesh come upon you and cover you with skin; I will put breath in you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the Lord.’ 7 So I prophesied as I was commanded. Ezekiel 37:3-7 New International Version
What season is God calling forth in your life?
19 It is easier to conquer a strong city than to win back a friend whom you’ve offended. Their walls go up, making it nearly impossible to win them back. Proverbs 18:19 Passion Translation
Being offended is an inevitable part of human relationships.
32 Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. Ephesians 4:32 English Standard Version
Having kindness tfor others is not just about being nice.
10 We have become his poetry, a re-created people that will fulfil the destiny he has given each of us, for we are joined to Jesus, the Anointed One. Even before we were born, God planned in advance our destiny and the good works we would do to fulfil it! Ephesians 3:10 Passion Translation
Do you desire to have a life well lived?
22 The blessing of the Lord makes one rich, and He adds no sorrow with it. Proverbs 10:22
Being in Christ puts you in a blessed place of favour with God.
As you grow in your understanding of your identity as a child of God, your inheritance through Jesus, and your authority as a King and Priest you have in Christ, you will have the boldness to act. Begin to pray and believe nothing is impossible when God is on your side. We have favour because God has already blessed us with everything we need to live a godly life (2 Peter 1:3).
Do you remind yourself with what God says about you in His Word?
When we lack revelation about our identity in Christ, we could end up with a negative and incorrect mindset about ourselves. As a result, negative thoughts and feelings can start to take hold in your life, breaking down your confidence to pray, worship and spend time with God. Do you feel that you are not good enough to be in God’s presence? Do you feel that you are unworthy of His love?
God wants the revelation of His grace to set you free.
If we do not fully grasp the gospel, we cannot get excited over Jesus, and what He has accomplished for us through His finished work. This explains why many believers are bored with God and bored with His church. They are bored because they don't feel connected with God and remain unaware of His constant presence in their lives. This, in turn, keeps them from receiving and experiencing the favour of God.
No one can earn God's favour. His favour is unmerited.
God gives us favour because of who He is, and not because we are worthy, deserving or good enough. His favour is for those who know they are unqualified to expect any. If you truly believe this gospel truth, then prayer is not something difficult. Prayer is an opportunity to connect with God, to be refreshed in His presence. It is an invitation from God to enter by faith and experience His love and grace in spite of any negative feelings of unworthiness and shame.
Even if God didn't answer your prayer in the way you wanted Him to answer it — it does not mean you are out of favour with Him.
Don't let one unanswered prayer discourage you or make you doubt the goodness of God. There have been many moments in my life when an unanswered prayer was the best answered prayer. It is because of God's favour that those prayers remained unanswered so that my trust in God is not based on what I want but what God wants for me. When I learned to rest on this truth, I have seen God doing the impossible for me. It is so that His will for my life is done.What God does for one, He will do for all. Ask Yourself: Can I remember a time when I experienced the extreme favour of God?
24 But my life is worth nothing to me unless I use it to finish the work assigned to me by the Lord Jesus—the work of telling others the Good News about the wonderful grace of God. Acts 20:24 New Living Translation
God’s grace came in the person of Jesus Christ. That is why we value it so greatly.
The Apostle Paul always knew that no matter what happened to him and no matter where he ended up, his life's purpose was to reveal the amazing grace of God. This singular focus allows him to weather through the storms and stand firm against untold dangers and meet deadly foes.
What a privilege it is to know Jesus and proclaim His gospel to everyone. It is by His grace that we get to partner with God and in the amazing things He is doing.
There is no fear when you choose to follow Jesus. The more you follow Jesus, the more you feel His heart for people in your everyday life. You will experience His love for others and serve out of the gracious overflow of His love, and not out of a grudging obligation.
Jesus is the greatest servant of them all. Yet, He is a King.
If you find sharing your faith a difficult thing to do, why not sit down and write out what God has done and is doing in your life? Then look for opportunities to tell your personal stories to others, and be amazed by what God can do with your stories. That was what Paul did. In every epistle, Paul testifies extensively about God's grace working in and through him to reach many for Christ.
Everything about Paul was anchored in the richness of God's grace. Do you want your life to overflow out from such a richness? You can have that too.
This grace, of course, is none other than the Person of Jesus Christ Himself. To be in Christ is to have His grace to obey and follow His leading. People who dare to follow Jesus seldom get lost or stuck. It is not about what happened to you in life, but knowing God in Christ is with you throughout your life that brings the greatest safeguard and security.
Being in Christ is the best place for everyone to be. Man fails but God does not.
Grace is more than getting someone saved. It is getting them to Christ where they can have a personal relationship with Him. This relationship redefines who we are as His Sons and Daughters, that we belong to God in Christ and that our future is secure because we are heirs, Kings and Priests in His name. This is true living because you are loved with the same love that the Three Persons within the Trinity loves each other. Knowing you are so loved by God frees you to live well and wise in spite of what life throws your way.Ask Yourself: How am I using my life for the gospel?
54 When Jesus arrived in his hometown of Nazareth, he began teaching the people in the synagogue. Everyone was dazed, overwhelmed with astonishment over the depth of revelation they were hearing. They said to one another, “Where did this man get such great wisdom and miraculous powers? 55 Isn’t he just the wood-worker’s son? Isn’t his mother named Mary, and his four brothers Jacob, Joseph, Simon, and Judah? 56 And don’t his sisters all live here in Nazareth? How did he get all this revelation and power?” 57 And the people became offended and began to turn against him. Jesus said, “There’s only one place a prophet isn’t honoured—his own hometown!” 58 And their great unbelief kept him from doing any mighty miracles in Nazareth. Matthew 13:54-58
Would we welcome Jesus into our church, family and lives?
31 “Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Matthew 6:31-33
We need a fresh understanding and revelation of what God values. In return, this is what we should place value in as well.
28 We know, in fact, that God works all things together for good to those who love him, who are called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28 New Testament for Everyone
Don't ever think God hates you because of the bad situations you are in. God is love and you must never forget that you belong to Him.
11 Now these [Berean] Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so. 12 Many of them therefore believed, with not a few Greek women of high standing as well as men. 13 But when the Jews from Thessalonica learned that the word of God was proclaimed by Paul at Berea also, they came there too, agitating and stirring up the crowds. Acts 17:11-13, English Standard Version
God’s word gives life to your body, it brings wholeness to every part of your being.
23 The grace of the Lord Jesus be with you. 1 Corinthians 16:23
Grace is the heartbeat of the living gospel.
1 God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. 2 Therefore we will not fear, even though the earth be removed, And though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; 3 though its waters roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with its swelling. Selah. Psalm 46:1-3
When David wrote Psalm 46, he was looking to God for help during one of his most difficult times. His crisis taught him a precious lesson. That is, since God is on our side, there is no reason to fear even in the biggest crisis.
When Jesus was having dinner in the house of Simon the Leper, Mary poured an alabaster flask of costly nard on His head [Mark 14:1-9]. She was criticised by those present for her “excessive wastefulness” but Jesus rebutted that she had done a good work for Him. Bear in mind, what Mary did was not impulsive. Jesus said that her act of extravagant worship came by revelation because she was anticipating His death.
8 She has done what she could. She has come beforehand to anoint My body for burial. Mark 14:8
Mary knew something that others didn’t.
Imagine what would happen if the presence and the power of God, so to speak, converge at one single point?
7 Now if the ministry of death, carved in letters on stone, came with such glory that the Israelites could not gaze at Moses' face because of its glory, which was being brought to an end, 8 will not the ministry of the Spirit have even more glory? 9 For if there was glory in the ministry of condemnation, the ministry of righteousness must far exceed it in glory. 2 Corinthians 3:7-9, English Standard Version
I am the righteousness of God in Christ, that is my inheritance as a child of God.
34 Awake to righteousness, and do not sin. 1 Corinthians 15:34
Once in Christ, you are made a new creation of God's righteousness in Christ.
32 That evening at sundown they brought to [Jesus] all who were sick or oppressed by demons. 33 And the whole city was gathered together at the door. 34 And he healed many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons. And he would not permit the demons to speak, because they knew him. 35 And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed. Mark 1:32-35
Have you found time with God your Father recently?
4 Make me to know your ways, O Lord; teach me your paths. 5 Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long. Psalm 25:4-5 English Standard Version
When was the last time you had an awakened sense and wonder about God?
33 With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all 34 that there were no needy persons among them. Acts 4:33-34
Most believers have a weak idea of grace.
They often either use grace as a cover for their erratic Christian life or as an excuse to sin. However, if we take time to grasp God’s understanding of grace, it is nothing less than His free gift of power to overcome all that is against us.
The early Christians knew that the power of grace flowed from the reality of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
They understood that the power of God which raised Jesus from the dead was the same power that gave them the life of the Spirit (Romans 8:11). As such, whenever they preached or ministered, the apostles were expecting great things to happen because of the great power that was working in and through them.
We need to move a few notches up in our notion of grace.
Grace is more than just a safety net to catch you when you fall, but grace also catapults you into the supernatural realm of God. I am increasingly clear from my understanding of scripture that God never makes a distinction between His grace and His power (2 Corinthians 12:9). The implication is huge.
Why live an explainable life when you are meant to live a supernatural life?
If you believe in the reality of grace and its power to meet needs, then you are to live in the reality of the supernatural. The ability to testify to the power of resurrection is God's new normal for every child of His. When you truly believe God has created you for the supernatural, then God’s signs and wonders become commonplace wherever you are—whether in your home, workplace or community.
When you are unaware and unable to comprehend the consequence of God's grace in your life, you are missing out on the incredible blessings of being in Christ. Without Christ, you can do nothing. With Christ and through Christ, you stand to encounter and experience His indescribable presence and power in your daily life.
Ask yourself: How do I know that I am living supernaturally in Christ? Do I display any evidence of a resurrection-powered life and ministry?
16 I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, 17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, 18 having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints. Ephesians 1:16-18, English Standard Version
When you look at yourself in the mirror, what do you see?
We used to sing a song in Sunday school that begins with these words, "Oh, be careful, little eyes, what you see". There is a ring of truth in those words, at least in terms of how important it is that we see ourselves as how God sees you.
Do you think differently of yourself when you fail and make mistakes in your life?
When the Apostle Paul prayed for the Ephesians, he asked God to grant them wisdom and revelation so that the eyes of their hearts are rightly opened to the truth of their life in Christ. When there is a change and awareness in how you see yourself as God sees you, it produces and encourages true transformation and growth.
Only God sees you for who you truly are.
This exhortation was something very personal for Paul. He himself has his own eye-opening experience when he began to recognise Jesus is the Christ. Luke tells us that Paul could not contain his excitement and immediately started to preach about Jesus in the synagogues, saying "This is the Son of God" (Acts 9:20).
If the gospel you believe doesn't make you excited or eager, honestly go and hear it again! But this time, ask God to help you to see it with fresh eyes and hear it with fresh ears. So that you might possess and recover all that God has for you in Christ.
Without wisdom and revelation, your eyes would continue to be closed with scales covering and blinding you. This cataract of your soul will surely cloud your vision and blur your understanding of your glorious identity and inheritance in Christ. As such, it is to your advantage to know who you truly are in Jesus and who you are becoming through the fullness of His grace and truth.
Ask God for wisdom today and He will surely not withhold it from you.
When you are given wisdom and revelation by God to understand the gospel, everything about your life in Christ becomes clearer and more grounded in the truth. Then each step of faith you take will become surer and stronger. This is because you no longer focus on what lies ahead as much as who is with you all the way.
Ask yourself: Am I still excited about the gospel and can't wait to get out and share it?
21 It would be wrong for the eye to say to the hand, “I don’t need you,” and equally wrong if the head said to the foot, “I don’t need you.” 1 Corinthians 12:20-22 The Passion Translation
There is safety when you belong in a healthy loving church community.
Whether we feel we belong to the family of God comes down to our attitude, energy and focus. In the Bible, the Apostle Paul tells us that our feelings of entitlement often cause us to put false expectations on others. This can easily lead to resentment and tension in our relationships. We may then use the excuse of not getting along with certain people to leave the church. The sad part is that it is naive to think we won't confront similar issues in the next church we attend.
Our community challenges us to grow as individuals as much as with others around us.
The truth is we don't need a new church as much as we need a new heart. It is because we are lacking in love that we see so many broken people who are disappointed with the church. Instead of seeing differences as trigger points to break fellowship, we need to learn to see our differences as strengths and find new ways to appreciate and affirm each other's presence and role in our community.
What do I bring to my community?
If we don't learn this important life's lesson, we will always feel restless and unsettled and frustrated in any church we go to.
The believers in Corinth were either hypocritical or hypercritical. Instead of condemning them, Paul helped them to rediscover their true identity in Christ and what it means for them to live authentically as holy people of God.
If we believe we belong to Christ, then we belong to each other because we are each part of His body. When we understand the reality of this truth, we will discover the grace to contribute to the well-being of our church in many ways. Moreover, we won't treat other believers and churches as competitors or even rivals. Instead, we are fully persuaded to pray for their success and breakthroughs in doing the Lord's work in our city and beyond.
In doing so, God will put us and hold us together for His larger plan. A plan to ensure the good news of the Kingdom of God is heard by all. Then the whole world will know us by our love.
Ask yourself: Do I endeavour to build unity in Firstlight and acknowledge the need to change my thinking about some people and get along with them?
14 In fact, the human body is not one single part but rather many parts mingled into one. 15 So if the foot were to say, “Since I’m not a hand, I’m not a part of the body,” it’s forgetting that it is still a vital part of the body. 16 And if the ear were to say, “Since I’m not an eye, I’m not really a part of the body,” it’s forgetting that it is still an important part of the body. 17 Think of it this way. If the whole body were just an eyeball, how could it hear sounds? And if the whole body were just an ear, how could it smell different fragrances? 18 But God has carefully designed each member and placed it in the body to function as he desires. 1 Corinthians 12:14-18, The Passion Translation
What is your dream for our church community?
The Corinthian Church was a problematic bunch of believers because they focused on their differences and kept fighting with one another. In doing so they placed their community’s strength of unity in peril. There were some believers who felt they didn't belong because of the differences between each other. The Apostle Paul, however, tells them that the reason they didn't feel a sense of belonging was because they were not seeing themselves as how God saw them. In other words, they were not obeying the gospel truth. They failed to believe in their identity in Christ and their inheritance that Jesus paid for at the Cross.
By using a satirical illustration of various human body parts, you might understand the feeling to why they didn't belong. Paul was reminding these believers that they had forgotten that it was God who brought them together in the first place. This means if we really want to fit in, we can. But more often than not, we act like the foot or the ear, thinking we are so different that there is no possibility of unity and affinity.
Sometimes people use this excuse of not fitting in to change to another church. They have the wrong idea of what a church ought to be. Such a wrong idea will only lead to more disappointment and pain because it has been built on a false premise.
It is normal to feel you don't fit in sometimes.
Hurts and misunderstandings can cloud your judgement about others. But you can learn from your brokenness to build better and stronger relationships. Most people in church are in the same vulnerable place as you. They want to love and be loved. Instead of waiting for someone else to initiate, it is best to take the first step and reach out.
Can you imagine what a loving community would look like?
Align yourself to what God is doing in your church and be a part of it — then you will truly value who God has made you to be and others whom God has placed in your life. It is the willingness to let others into our lives that will allow us to grow together into the full likeness of Jesus Himself.
Ask yourself: Have I ever thought about leaving church? Do I have good reasons for doing so or just giving excuses to avoid working out differences?
20 Together, we are his house, built on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets. And the cornerstone is Christ Jesus himself. 21 We are carefully joined together in him, becoming a holy temple for the Lord. Ephesians 2:20-21 New Living Translation
Do you know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit?
The Apostle Paul tells us that Christ unifies and unites every believer everywhere to be His holy temple. We all belong to each other, even though we are different in many ways. If we learn to express the truth of our oneness in Christ, we will receive the grace that empowers us to live in unity and fellowship with one another.
As Christians, we are the one beautiful bride of Christ.
Christ has marvellously arranged and fitted us altogether in Him. In other words, unity is workable if we are willing to make it work. Truth is, as believers, we are more known for our disunity than our unity. Unfortunately, we spend a lot of time disagreeing and sometimes theologically bashing other believers because they don't share the same viewpoints as we do.
We are stronger together than apart.
Don’t get me wrong, doctrine is important. Without sound doctrines, the church falls apart and serves absolutely no purpose. Unity does not occur because we agree on every single doctrine. Unity is already a reality and an accomplished truth because we are all in Christ. We can love one another, despite our differences. We can accept one another, and love each other despite our differences.
We must never be too quick to pronounce the divergence of views as heretical and false. There is a crucial difference between different views and divisive doctrines. For example, different churches may have different modes of baptism. But if someone teaches baptism is essential for salvation, then the person is rejecting the gospel that tells us it is the blood of Jesus that cleanses us from all sin (Acts 22:16).
We must agree on the essentials that are central to salvation and we can agree to disagree (but not be agreeable) on the non-essentials. In doing so, we keep the main truths intact. While we make room for debate and discussion, we must also make room to love and encourage our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ and pray for one another.
We must recognise that it is the living Christ who brings us together and forms us into a community of love and matures us to love and be involved with each other for good. With Christ as our cornerstone, He has anchored us in Him and He will keep us connected through Him.
Ask yourself: Have you ever let your doctrinal differences with someone become a barrier for friendship?
12 In Him and through faith in Him we may approach God with freedom and confidence. Ephesians 3:12 New International Version
Have you ever prayed to grow closer to God?
The truth is my brother and sister in Christ, you cannot be closer to God than you already are right now. God has placed you in Christ. What needs to grow is your awareness and knowledge of the truth in God’s word. This will then propel your desire to walk by faith.
There is nothing that stands between God and you.
If you are a child of God, you already have full access to your Father God. He has given you the power and ability to walk with Him in perfect obedience. This is because there is now no more separation between you and Him because of Christ's finished work. Jesus has finished a perfect work at the Cross. But somehow many believers are led to think that they are still unworthy and unacceptable before God. In fact, many of our worship songs reflect this kind of unscriptural and poor thinking. The lyrics often give the idea of a gap and distance between us and a Holy God, which can lead to a feeling of incompleteness and undue fear of judgement. This sort of self introspection without a proper focus on what Christ has done can wreck your faith life.
God desires for you to draw close to Him.
When you have full confidence in Christ's atoning work, you have boldness to believe you possess free access to God. Free access was not gained by a cheap price. God our Father sacrificed His only begotten Son, in order that you don't have to go through someone else to get to Him. In Christ, you have been given the privilege to know God personally and intimately. You don't need someone to teach you about God and how to know Him intimately. This is because God Himself will reveal to you once you have learned to be still before Him.
God is our loving heavenly Father.
If your idea of God is someone who is impersonal or difficult to get along with, then loving and serving God will be that much more difficult and seldom fun. Such a wrong mindset and attitude will discourage you from stepping out in faith and to do something beyond yourself.
God is after you, not your ministry or good works.
Honestly, when we are burnt out by ministry and serving, we need to ask whether we have become religious workaholics. Is service to God more important than the ones we serve? That is, we serve for service's sake and not true service of ourselves to God. Ministry is drudgery because we have forgotten the privilege of serving in God’s plan. God has placed us in Christ and has given a measure of Himself to each of us (Ephesians 4:7). That happened to the Church of Ephesus. It became a hard working but non-loving community (Revelation 2:2-4).
Run boldly to Him today because God cares for you.
Your free access to God is an invitation to be embraced by God's love and mercy. Go boldly and confidently to Him in joy and gratitude. And be amazed by who God is, and be amazed by how He sees you. He knows you more intimately than you can ever imagine possible.
Ask yourself: What do I enjoy about my relationship with God? What do I find challenging?
27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. John 10:27-28 English Standard Version
Does God always hear your prayer?
Some people think that they cannot hear God because they don't feel worthy enough or are not spiritual enough. This kind of thinking and issue comes from a place of low self-worth, and it has absolutely nothing to do with God.
As Christians, we belong to God.
Jesus assures us that we can hear His voice because we are His and we belong to Him. It is really about learning to recognise and respond to His call when He speaks to our hearts through His Holy Spirit. The Bible is full of examples of how God speaks in the everyday life of a believer. God speaks in many different and valid ways. Sometimes He speaks in an audible voice and sometimes He speaks through impressions or through supernatural dreams and visions.
The voice of God will never contradict the word of God. It only confirms it.
I have come across a number of believers who claim that, "God told me" and then go on to do something that contradicts what the Word of God teaches and asks of us. I call this behaviour "using the G-card" (G meaning God). They are using God to justify their selfish and sometimes ungodly choices without admitting they are selfish and manipulative.
As a child of God, you have direct contact with Him.
God will never say something to you through someone else or your own inner voice—that does not line up with what He has already clearly revealed in scripture. In other words, the more you are acquainted with the Word of God, the more you will develop an authentic ability to hear God and know His voice. If you genuinely long for God to guide you, He will actively speak to you and confirm everything through the amazing words of the Bible.
God is our shepherd and He is looking out for us.
A sheep listens to its shepherd because it recognises the voice that offers comfort, protection and provision. Recognizing the voice of Jesus can change everything. He is always speaking and whether you can hear Him or not, it really boils down to obedience and willingness.
Build a habit of studying Scripture regularly and reflectively. Feed your Spirit man.
Broaden your understanding of each book of the Bible, and hold on to the promises of God. Being grounded in the word of God increases your intimacy with God. It will bring alignment and clarity in every season of life. When you are full of God's Word, you are full of God's Will.
Ask yourself: Do I have a desire to grow in grace and the knowledge of the Lord Jesus? Where in the Bible is God speaking to me today?
4 Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and long-suffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance? Romans 2:4
God is good, it is in His very nature.
1 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life. 1 John 1:1
The Apostle John was the youngest of Jesus' disciples, who also lived the longest.
12 So teach us to number our days that we may gain a heart of wisdom. Psalm 90:12
Do you ask God for Wisdom?
12" I said, ‘Break new ground. Plant what is right. Then you will harvest good things from your loyalty to me. It is time for you to turn back to me, the Lord. Do it until I come and pour out my goodness on you." Hosea 10:12, International Children Bible
Having a new beginning is about breaking new ground.
18 Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth. 1 John 3: 18, New International Version
It is much easier to talk about love, preach about love, and teach about love than it is to love.
12 For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more. Hebrews 8:12
When a court passes a verdict of "not guilty", it doesn't mean the defendant was innocent of a crime. Rather, the case was not proven beyond reasonable doubt of guilt. This then results in and justifies a verdict of “not guilty”.
Many well meaning believers desire change in their outward behaviour.
11 But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you. Romans 8:11
As a Christian, isn’t it great that the very same spirit of God who raised Jesus from the dead is the same spirit living inside you? This is as true for us today, as it was for the early church in the Bible.
Grace is not freedom to sin, but a freedom from sin.
11-14 Now what is our response to be? Shall we sin to our heart’s content and see how far we can exploit the grace of God? What a ghastly thought! We, who have died to sin—how could we live in sin a moment longer? Have you forgotten that all of us who were baptised into Jesus Christ were, by that very action, sharing in his death? We were dead and buried with him in baptism, so that just as he was raised from the dead by that splendid Revelation of the Father’s power so we too might rise to life on a new plane altogether. If we have, as it were, shared his death, let us rise and live our new lives with him! Let us never forget that our old selves died with him on the cross that the tyranny of sin over us might be broken—for a dead man can safely be said to be immune to the power of sin. And if we were dead men with him we can believe that we shall also be men newly alive with him. We can be sure that the risen Christ never dies again—death’s power to touch him is finished. He died, because of sin, once: he lives for God for ever. In the same way look upon yourselves as dead to the appeal and power of sin but alive and sensitive to the call of God through Jesus Christ our Lord. Romans 6:11-14 J.B. Phillips New Testament
It is worth slowly meditating on this morning’s devotion and reflecting on the implication of your life in Christ.
7 For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. 2 Timothy 1:7
Now if the Holy Spirit empowers us to live out our freedom in Christ, how come so many of us are still bound by fear, guilt and condemnation? Surely we cannot attribute these feelings to Him because they impact us in a negative way.
17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 2 Corinthians 3:17 English Standard Version
Our freedom in Christ is not just freedom from sin but from everything and anything that enslaves us.
18 Many believers publicly confessed their sins and disclosed their secrets. 19 Large numbers of those who had been practicing magic took all of their books and scrolls of spells and incantations and publicly burned them. When the value of all the books and scrolls was calculated, it all came to several million dollars. 20 The power of God caused the word to spread, and the people were greatly impacted. Acts 19:18-20 The Passion Translation
God is working everywhere in the world, but not just within the four walls of the church.
1 The church at Antioch had several prophets and teachers. They were Barnabas, Simeon, also called Niger, Lucius from Cyrene, Manaen, who was Herod’s close friend, and Saul. 2 While they were worshiping the Lord and going without eating, the Holy Spirit told them, “Appoint Barnabas and Saul to do the work for which I have chosen them.” 3 Everyone prayed and went without eating for a while longer. Next, they placed their hands on Barnabas and Saul to show that they had been appointed to do this work. Then everyone sent them on their way. Acts 13:1-3 Contemporary English Version
Community is not a noun but a verb.
15-16 Later Jesus and his disciples were at home having supper with a collection of disreputable guests. Unlikely as it seems, more than a few of them had become followers. The religion scholars and Pharisees saw him keeping this kind of company and lit into his disciples: “What kind of example is this, acting cozy with the riff raff? 17 Jesus, overhearing, shot back, “Who needs a doctor: the healthy or the sick? I’m here inviting the sin-sick, not the spiritually-fit.” Mark 2:17 The Message
When Jesus was in the world, He didn't just embrace good people or those who would like him right back. He embraced even those that the culture of his time would term as ugly, unclean and undeserving. In doing so, Jesus was called "a friend of sinners" by the Pharisees (Matthew 9:11, 11:16–19). They used the derogatory term on him to besmirch his reputation but Jesus wore it as a badge of honour, saying, "I have not come to call respectable people, but outcasts" (Mark 2:17 Holman Christian Standard Bible).
13 Encourage each other every day. Hebrews 3:13, The Voice
How often do you encourage someone? When have you last received an encouraging word?
19 As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent. Revelation 3:19
In the Book of Revelation, we learn of seven churches in seven cities and how Christ gave a specific message to each one of them.
6 Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ. Philippians 1:6
Thank God that just as He begins His good work of salvation in you through Christ, He is going to faithfully complete it.
23 One of them, the disciple whom Jesus loved. John 13:23 New International Version
The love of Christ is our basis and source for everything we do as a church and community.
19 I want you to know all about Christ’s love, although it is too wonderful to be measured. Then your lives will be filled with all that God is. Ephesians 3:19 Contemporary English Version
In the Bible, the Apostle Paul did not pray for the Ephesians to love Christ more but instead for them to grow in the revelation of Christ's love.
2 Always be humble and gentle. Patiently put up with each other and love each other. 3 Try your best to let God’s Spirit keep your hearts united. Do this by living at peace. 4 All of you are part of the same body. Ephesians 4:3-4 Contemporary English Version
Community is messy.
4 For when you divide yourselves up in groups—a “Paul group” and an “Apollos group”—you’re acting like people without the Spirit’s influence. 5 Who is Apollos, really? Or who is Paul? Aren’t we both just servants through whom you believed our message? Aren’t each of us doing the ministry the Lord has assigned to us? 6 I was the one who planted the church and Apollos came and cared for it, but it was God who caused it to grow. 7 This means the one who plants is not anybody special, nor the one who waters, for God is the one who brings supernatural growth. 1 Corinthians 3:5-7
A true community is not just about people acting and thinking alike. Rather, a true community of Christ is when people act, think and work together so as to reveal and reflect the love of Christ. This is what truly brings glory to God.
First world churches face problems when their members are passive and hesitant to get involved in ministry. This is called Passivity.
Statistics show that a Christian church in the West has, on average, only 20% of its members engaged in ministry work. Yet, despite the fact that modern technology has made Christian teachings and all the revelations more readily accessible and abundant, few believers use this advantage and available resource to empower themselves, meet the challenge and make a difference. Instead, there is an expectation placed on preachers and teachers to give us something new every Sunday. We need to take the time to reflect, understand and apply what we have learnt even if our lives are busy and take up a lot of our attention.
What causes passivity?
Having a humble and teachable spirit brings about growth and fruitfulness for many believers, using the teaching resources available to you. The church is blessed with good and easily accessible Christian teachings and revelation. Passivity is a form of unbelief, when a believer does not want to cooperate with God's revelation of grace. This can appear in forms such as being uninterested with spiritual subjects or matters, and being indifferent about society issues that impact our lives. While it is possible to rationalise and pardon our own passivity, the truth is that we are still learning to trust God with our hearts and lives to receive His grace and live it out differently for His Kingdom.
It is true that God does not love you more or less, regardless of how much you have served in ministry or your good works to others. God’s love for you goes far deeper. I encourage you to take hold of the truth of God's grace for your own life, and your actions and attitudes will reflect the heart of God for the world and people. Allow Him to grow your understanding of His, and in your courage to be engaged in all that He is doing in church, ministry and all good works. God knows that when we live out the truth of His grace, it will surely bless and enrich our lives and many others around us.
Consider these words of the Apostle Paul:
10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me. 1 Corinthians 15:10
If the “grace” you know does not inspire you to grow and be fruitful for God but only serve to feed your ineptitude or perpetuate a rejection of God's purpose, you have not fully embraced or understood grace at all. In fact, you will become stagnant if you stay in this poorly defined idea of grace.
Grace empowers you far beyond what you ever imagined to be your limits, and what you could ever do on your own. It was through grace, Paul boasted, that he was who he was, and able to do what he did. Paul realised that it wasn’t him who was working hard for God, but it was God’s grace working through him that made the difference.
How have I applied God’s grace in my life today? Is there something God is directing me to do in church and ministry?
33 And with great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And great grace was upon them all. Acts 4:33
It is good to know the difference between the presence and power of God.
16 For I am not ashamed of the Gospel. I see it as the very power of God working for the salvation of everyone who believes it. Romans 1:16, J.B. Phillips New TestamentPray for a fresh awakening to the power of the gospel.
12 Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father. John 14:12 (NASB)
In the Bible, Jesus told His disciples that they will do "greater works" after He has returned to the Father. In the context of the verse, He was describing how God would use them to take the gospel from a small part of the world to the four corners of the earth. On the day of Pentecost, Jesus fulfilled His promise when He sent the Holy Spirit to empower them (as much as He empowers us today) to witness and testify boldly.
2 “Enlarge the place of your tent, and let the curtains of your habitations be stretched out; do not hold back; lengthen your cords and strengthen your stakes. 3 For you will spread abroad to the right and to the left, and your offspring will possess the nations and will people the desolate cities. Isaiah 54:1-3 English Standard Version
What does it mean to enlarge your tent?
1 “Sing, O barren one, who did not bear; break forth into singing and cry aloud, you who have not been in labour! For the children of the desolate one will be more than the children of her who is married,” says the Lord. 2 “Enlarge the place of your tent, and let the curtains of your habitations be stretched out; do not hold back; lengthen your cords and strengthen your stakes. 3 For you will spread abroad to the right and to the left, and your offspring will possess the nations and will people the desolate cities. Isaiah 54:1-3 English Standard Version
When the Prophet Isaiah told the barren woman to sing and shout for joy, he promised the children of the desolate one will be more than the children of her who is married. Here we see the shift from barrenness to fruitfulness. As such, she has to enlarge her tent to make room for all the children she is about to have.
1 “Sing, O barren one, who did not bear; break forth into singing and cry aloud, you who have not been in labour! For the children of the desolate one will be more than the children of her who is married,” says the Lord. 2 “Enlarge the place of your tent, and let the curtains of your habitations be stretched out; do not hold back; lengthen your cords and strengthen your stakes. 3 For you will spread abroad to the right and to the left, and your offspring will possess the nations and will people the desolate cities. Isaiah 54:1-3 English Standard Version
Having a Vision is a call to be more.
The gospel declares that it is for freedom that Christ has set you free (Galatians 5:1).
14 Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh. Romans 13:14, New International Version
What do we mean by "finding your identity in Christ" and why does your identity matter?
7 And as you go, preach this message: ‘Heaven’s kingdom realm is accessible, close enough to touch.’ 8 You must continually bring healing to lepers and to those who are sick, and make it your habit to break off the demonic presence from people, and raise the dead back to life. Freely you have received the power of the kingdom, so freely release it to others. Matthew 10:7-8, The Passion Translation
Our Lord is calling us back to the things that matter to Him. These are things that are close to His heart.
4 For when one says, “I follow Paul,” and another, “I follow Apollos,” are you not mere human beings? 5 What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe—as the Lord has assigned to each his task. 6 I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow. 1 Corinthians 3:4-6 New International Version
We live in a culture where the individual is prioritised and the community becomes negotiable.
19 Have you forgotten that your body is now the sacred temple of the Spirit of Holiness, who lives in you? You don’t belong to yourself any longer, for the gift of God, the Holy Spirit, lives inside your sanctuary. 1 Corinthians 6:19 Passion Translation
How do we align our daily lives with the gospel of Jesus Christ?
Time’s up! God’s kingdom is here. Change your life and believe the Message. Mark 1:15 Message
Jesus boldly proclaimed the gospel with a call to repentance. This was what He expected from those who wished to follow Him.
69 Now Peter was sitting out in the courtyard, and a servant girl came to him. “You also were with Jesus of Galilee,” she said. 70 But he denied it before them all. “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he said. 71 Then he went out to the gateway, where another servant girl saw him and said to the people there, “This fellow was with Jesus of Nazareth.” 72 He denied it again, with an oath: “I don’t know the man!” 73 After a little while, those standing there went up to Peter and said, "We know you’re one of his disciples—we can tell by the way you speak, for your accent gives you away." Matthew 26:69-73
Peter was identified as a Galilean and a disciple of Jesus because of his distinct accent. His accent would have triggered an automatic dislike because a Galilean, at the time in the BIble, is often seen as a crude, unrefined and somewhat untrustworthy individual. So you can well imagine why Peter quickly denied knowing Jesus due to the pressure of social discrimination and prejudice.
One of the things I often encourage everyone at Firstlight Church is to find your life verse in the Bible.
3 As soon as you see the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God being carried by the Levitical priests, then you shall set out from your place and follow it. 4 Yet there shall be a distance between you and it, about 2,000 cubits in length. Do not come near it, in order that you may know the way you shall go, for you have not passed this way before. 5 Then Joshua said to the people, Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do wonders among you. Joshua 3:3-5 English Standard Version
In the Bible, Joshua told the children of Israel that the ark of the Lord will lead the way to the Promised Land. They, however, need to keep a distance of about one kilometre behind the ark. This was for two reasons. First, they need to identify that it is God who sets the direction for them. But also, it was to make sure everyone can see the ark and follow God's presence. This prevented their minds from wandering and getting distracted about something else.
4 When Jesus had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.”5 Simon answered, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.” 6 When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break. Luke 5:4-6
Our solutions to problems can sometimes fail us, not giving us the same result as it did in the past. Even our surroundings that were once familiar to us can change rapidly. This can affect our confidence to expect the results we were hoping for. This was how Peter might have felt after spending the whole night fishing. His usual fishing spot gained from being an experienced fisherman didn't yield anything and he was ready to quit for the day. Then Jesus got into his boat, and told him to row out and cast his net. As far as Peter was concerned, his natural skill and experience as a well-seasoned fisherman pointed out that the location and timing Jesus chose was highly unsuitable for fishing.
33 Just before the light of day came, Paul told all of them to eat. He said, “Today is the fourteenth day you have not eaten. 34 You must eat. It will give you strength. Not one of you will lose a hair from your head.” 35 After he said this, he took some bread. He gave thanks to God in front of them all. He broke it in pieces and started to eat. 36 They all were comforted. Each one ate some food. Acts 27:33-36 New International Version
What we need most in our new season is not just a new mindset, but a new found strength of faith that will bring us into a whole new experience of God's promise and provision. Our journey and lessons we learnt has prepared us for what God is bringing our way.
22 Everyone was impressed by how well Jesus spoke, in awe of the beautiful words of grace that came from his lips. Luke 4:22 The Passion Translation
A man of God told me this years ago, "People will forget what you have said to them and even forget what you have done for them. But they will never forget how you made them feel". There is truism in that statement.
7 It is right for me to feel this way about all of you, since I have you in my heart and, whether I am in chains or defending and confirming the gospel, all of you share in God’s grace with me. 8 God can testify how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus. Philippians 1:7-8 New International Version
When the Apostle Paul was in prison, he was alone and separated from his fellow believers and close friends. He wrote to the Philippians, telling them how much he loved and missed them and how he longed to be with them.
13 In Him you also who have heard the Word of Truth, the glad tidings (Gospel) of your salvation, and have believed in and adhered to and relied on Him, were stamped with the seal of the long-promised Holy Spirit.14 That [Spirit] is the guarantee of our inheritance [the firstfruits, the pledge and foretaste, the down payment on our heritage], in anticipation of its full redemption and our acquiring [complete] possession of it—to the praise of His glory. Ephesians 1:13-14
In giving us the Holy Spirit, God is assuring us that our inheritance of every spiritual blessing in Christ is guaranteed beyond question. This truth frees us from thinking we have to be perfect in order to be loved or blessed by God. Rather, it is for the reason that God loves us that He has given us the Holy Spirit to perfect our relationship with Him.
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith — and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God — not by works, so that no one can boast. Ephesians 2:8,9
Grace and faith are not mutually exclusive from each other but there is a distinction between them.
Grace reveals God's generosity unreservedly and the faithful receive God's generosity undeservingly. Grace is God's choice in giving you freely everything in Christ. Faith is your response in choosing to receive from God everything through Christ. Grace is God making you right with Him and Faith is when you believe that you have been made right before God.
The Apostle Paul tells us we are saved by grace through faith.
Grace is God's free but precious offer of salvation, and faith is your acceptance of his generous gift to you! Faith flows from grace. Without grace, faith is impossible. Too often, people confuse faith with their own efforts. They want to earn or keep their salvation by their own efforts and traditions. When they do so, they are rejecting the gospel of God's grace by turning faith into their performance before God. That kind of approach hinders their relationship with God! Faith is never based on what we have done for God, but rather it is what Christ had done for us on the Cross.
Both grace and faith are gifts from God.
Imagine for a moment, Grace is like a father giving his son or daughter a car. Likewise Faith has the same father sitting in the car, teaching his child how to drive it. Here we see the father giving two gifts, the car and the driving skills to operate the car. Likewise, grace is God's gift of salvation, and faith is God's way of getting you saved and making sure you know that you are saved.
Being saved by grace through faith enables you to enjoy the privileges and power of the finished work of the cross. Once you have the truth, you are set for life. If questions of doubt and fear are suffocating your faith and trust in God right now, just let God embrace you with His arms of loving-kindness and grace.What obstacle or struggle am I currently facing that I need God to help me to overcome my unbelief?
32 Be kind to one another. Ephesians 4:32
There are two types of people we remember in life: those who were kind and generous to us, and those who were unkind and thoughtless towards us. No matter how people treat you today, never forget God is your source of kindness and love. You can make your surroundings a kinder place through random acts of kindness and good deeds.
The Greek word for "kindness" is chrēstos which means "gracious, tenderness, wholesome". It is a quality of the fruit of the Spirit. Kindness flows from God's Spirit within you and hence, you rest on God's grace for the ability to be kind to everyone, even enemies and those who do not like you. If we learn to operate under the divine power of kindness, we do not need to place unnecessary limitations on doing good works.
There were many biblical examples of people who were kind and helpful. Abraham was kind to his nephew Lot by giving him the first choice of the best land, and even rescued him when he was a prisoner of war. Joseph showed extreme kindness and compassion to his deceitful brothers who were jealous of him. The four friends who kindly brought their paralytic mate to Jesus and saw him healed, and Dorcas who was always helping the widows and poor in her neighbourhood.
You don't need a right timing or perfect moment to show kindness.
Just look for opportunities and God will show you who, when, where and how. When you are in partnership with God, He will supply what He calls you to give away. In other words, the more you show kindness and love to others, the more you become aware of God's grace and gifts in your life. As such, you do not diminish but multiply.
Everyday, God gives us the capacity and energy to love and be kind to others in a way that frees us from resentment and bitterness. Just be thankful that even when others let you down, you can still find the grace to care and comfort them.
Who can I show kindness to in this coming week? What are some specific acts of kindness I could show them?
12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Ephesians 6:12
In Acts of the Apostles, Luke tells us Paul had many opportunities to stand before the leading political figures of his days. Yet you will notice that he never once spoke of state affairs or public issues to them except Jesus. It doesn't mean he didn’t care about the extreme inequality of wealth and social status that existed in his time. Rather, Paul chose to take the conversation to a whole different level.
7 Now if the ministry of death, carved in letters on stone, came with such glory that the Israelites could not gaze at Moses' face because of its glory, which was being brought to an end, 8 will not the ministry of the Spirit have even more glory? 9 For if there was glory in the ministry of condemnation, the ministry of righteousness must far exceed it in glory. 2 Corinthians 3:7-9, English Standard Version
The Law of Moses may temporarily improve and even change your behaviour for a while, but sooner or later, you will fail and fall back into sinful habits. This explains why we had so many accounts of revivals in the Old Testament. The people of Israel kept trying to obey God on many occasions, but they failed repeatedly because they didn't have the Holy Spirit to empower them to live a righteous life before God.
You and I, however, have the privilege of the Holy Spirit living in us to live a life worthy of our high calling in Christ (Ephesians 4:1). Yet, when we fail to appreciate this truth, we will start acting like we need a revival instead of relying on the Holy Spirit to renew our hearts daily with the revelation of Jesus Christ.
Why do we seek a visitation of the Holy Spirit when He has already made us His habitation? (1 Corinthians 6:19)
Bear in mind, the Apostle Paul didn't tell spiritually messed-up Corinthians that they needed to experience a revival to correct the spiritual abuses and moral failings in their church. Rather, he told them to see themselves in the light of the gospel (2 Corinthians 4:4) through the Holy Spirit's ministry of righteousness.
Research shows most present-day revivals only lasted an average of five years. They are often marked by excessive emotionalism and fleshy extremism. However, it is not to say that lives weren't impacted for the better, but the positive effects of a revival are always short lived. Sooner or later, people are back on their knees and praying for another revival or spiritual awakening to transform their city and nation.
What if, instead of wanting a revival experience, we start and carry on living in the resurrection reality that is already ours in Christ? Then we are not trying to manoeuvre and get God to do something for our spiritual life, when we are supposed to receive all things freely in Christ (1 Corinthians 2:12).
Any true and genuine ministry of the Holy Spirit will always have the finished work of Jesus in the centre. Revival is an Old Covenant experience that foreshadowed the new Covenant revelation about our complete fullness in Christ. In other words, the church today does not need a revival because our Lord has already given us, through the Holy Spirit, everything we need for a dynamic spiritual life and holy living (2 Peter 1:3). What we really need is an awakening of righteousness (1 Corinthians 15:34) and of everything Christ accomplished for us on the cross.
How aware am I of the Holy Spirit helping me to grow and mature?
Have you ever wondered why God doesn’t seem to answer you every time you pray or seem to give you everything you ask of Him? There are believers who get disappointed or disillusioned with God when they feel He has not heard their prayers.
The truth is that God actually gives you more, so much more than you can ever ask or think.
8 I cannot think of anyone more unworthy to this cause than I, the least of the least of the saints. But here I am, a grace-made man, privileged to be an echo of His voice and a preacher to all the nations of the riches of the Anointed One, riches that no one ever imagined. Ephesians 3:8, Voice Bible
God gives us grace for our progress and growth.
20 Never doubt God’s mighty power to work in you and accomplish all this. He will achieve infinitely more than your greatest request, your most unbelievable dream, and exceed your wildest imagination! He will outdo them all, for his miraculous power constantly energizes you. Ephesians 3:20 The Passion Translation
God doesn't leave us, even in our toughest times. He is always there.
No one is born with a low self-esteem.
It is a bad habit cultivated when we forget who God has made us to be. When individuals suffer from a low self-esteem, they feel unloved and not worthy of love. Such a feeling sows the seeds of self-loathing and insecurity. When these feelings take root and are not dealt with, it may even lead to a path of destructive behaviour.
Low self-esteem has nothing to do with our human flaws or weaknesses. Everyone has them one time or another. Rather, it is like when a person sees himself through a distorted tunnel vision; obscuring the truth that we are God's perfect workmanship in Christ.
10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2:10 New International Version
The Greek word for "workmanship" is poiema, which means "poetry, a work of art and a masterpiece". You are God's divine work, supernaturally crafted in Christ Jesus. This truth will cure you of the curse of a low self-esteem.
A low self-esteem lacks the depth of God's perspective.
In the Bible, Gideon almost let the paralysis of low self-esteem and worthlessness rob him from fulfilling his destiny (Judges 6). God called Gideon "a mighty man of valour" even though, at that point, he was far from it. In doing so, God wanted Gideon to reassess himself in the way He saw him, not by how he felt about himself.
Without wisdom and revelation, many of us will keep to a fixed way of thinking that isn't healthy and also far from the truth. However, every time you identify yourself through the lens of the gospel, you will experience freedom and peace. As such, it is good to develop an understanding of how much God values you and cultivate the vocabulary of how you value yourself in light of God's Word.
A healthy awareness of who God made you in Christ offers you the grace to grow beyond your flaws and weaknesses. See your true sense of self in Christ. Instead of agonising over a crippling sense of low self-esteem, start recognising your true worth before God and live out this revelation in your life's direction and decisions.How is it by knowing who I am in Christ changes what I do through Christ?
4 But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. 6 And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 7 in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. 8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2:3-10 New International Version
It is a privilege and a joy that God has chosen to give us his undeserved mercy and kindness, as He has made us holy and blameless before Him. He placed us in Christ and in His finished work so that none of us can boast about how good we are or how well we measure up to our idea of spiritual perfection.
We cannot improve our righteous Christian position because we have already been made perfect in Christ. Since we cannot lose this position, because the Holy Spirit had already set His seal on us, He now inhabits in us and is forever with us. Allow this truth to encourage and empower you, even if it means asking the Holy Spirit to reveal this to you. He loves to glorify Jesus and His perfect work on the Cross.
God's grace is far more than just saving us from sin. His grace empowers us to do everything that pleases God. Many believers treat grace as a safety net that catches them if they stumble and fall into sin. This non-consequential attitude towards grace blinds them from God's love and turns their hearts cold towards God. This is why many use grace as an excuse to sin and not do good. Grace makes obedience not only possible but it also equips us and makes us fit for God’s service.
God doesn't want to treat you less than He treats Jesus. Remember that you are in Christ. As such, we must learn not to treat God less than how Jesus would treat Him. When our condition is aligned to our position, we exude the likeness of Christ and His kindness to others. This is what living out our true self in God looks like. That is why we are made by God to become makers of peace everywhere He plants us. This is why Ephesians 2:10 tells us that each of us is God's handiwork, uniquely fashioned by His hand and destined to grow into the perfect image of His Son.
You are not a mistake or an accident. Your being and existence reveals and reflects God's purpose and love for you. So keep growing wisely, beautifully and rightly.
Do I have a sense of God's purpose and direction in life? How do my thoughts and behaviours get in my way?
1 As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, 2 in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. 3 All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. Ephesians 2:1-3 New International Version
In Ephesians 2:1-10, the Apostle Paul talks about the difference between our position and condition. Our position in Christ is eternal and irrevocable because God does not change his mind about us. Our condition is our daily experiences of our life in Christ. Sometimes we feel so intimately close to God but in some other times, we have difficulty believing He actually loves us.
Our condition may seem to conflict with our position, that is, we don't feel complete even though we are already made whole and complete in Christ. Don't base your position in Christ with your condition in life and circumstances. Instead remind yourself that your life comes by God’s grace for you, and God has given you the power to overcome your condition because of your position in Him. Learn that your Christian life is a journey of grace through faith. While battling every thought that tries to rob you of this revelation, hold on to God’s Word that you have been blessed with every blessing in Christ.
Paul didn't start with telling the Ephesians about what was wrong with them. He began with revealing to them their true identity and destiny in Christ. He then encouraged them by praying for their spiritual growth and maturity. This is one of the best things we can do for each other and everyone else in our church.
Instead of judging others when they are acting below or beneath who they should be, start believing that they will grow according to the revelation of the glory of Christ. When we do that, we will see their lives transform into a glorious life being true sons and daughters of our Father. This is how we demonstrate unity and community.
Most times we have what I call an "event unity", that is we circle up and join hands and sing "Kum Ba Yah". This kind of unity won't last because it is nothing more than emotionalism. True unity flows from what we believe about ourselves and others through the revelation of the gospel. Then we will also discover the power and the means to appropriate what is already true about us and for us.How do I live out the truth of my position in Christ in my daily experiences?
15-19 Since then, I heard of this faith of yours in the Lord Jesus and the practical way in which you are expressing it towards fellow-Christians. I thank God continually for you and I never give up praying for you; and this is my prayer. That God, the God of our Lord Jesus Christ and the all-glorious Father, will give you spiritual wisdom and the insight to know more of him: that you may receive that inner illumination of the spirit which will make you realise how great is the hope to which he is calling you—the magnificence and splendour of the inheritance promised to Christians—and how tremendous is the power available to us who believe in God. Ephesians 1:15-19, J.B. Phillips New Testament
We are only able to grow according to the revelation we have of God and His promises to us in Christ.
15 For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all God’s people, 16 I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. 17 I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. Ephesians 1:15-17, New International VersionOnly God can reveal Himself to us.
11 Through our union with Christ we too have been claimed by God as his own inheritance. Before we were even born, he gave us our destiny; that we would fulfil the plan of God who always accomplishes every purpose and plan in his heart. 12 God’s purpose was that we Jews, who were the first to long for the messianic hope, would be the first to believe in the Anointed One and bring great praise and glory to God! 13 And because of him, when you who are not Jews heard the revelation of truth, you believed in the wonderful news of salvation. Now we have been stamped with the seal of the promised Holy Spirit. 14 He is given to us like an engagement ring is given to a bride, as the first instalment of what’s coming! He is our hope-promise of a future inheritance which seals us until we have all of redemption’s promises and experience complete freedom—all for the supreme glory and honour of God! Ephesians 1:11-14 The Passion Translation
The church of Ephesus consisted of Jewish and Gentile believers, and this was a radical new departure during a time where social norms and values were distinct and even opposite. This is the gospel at work — for it has the power to break the strongholds of pride and prejudice that keep people apart. It too has the power to bring people together and keep them together. This is a much needed message especially when the world is facing increasing cultural and racial tensions in various parts of the world.
Both the Pharisees and Jesus wanted people to live rightly before God in a sin-ruined world. However, their approach was different from each other. Basically, the Pharisees saw sin as a crime to be punished and Jesus saw sin as a sickness that needed healing. You can see this contrasted by how they both saw and treated people.
The Pharisees were always eager to point out other people's sin and make them pay for it. They did it because they felt they had the "God-given" right to carry out judgement and punishment on His behalf. Being God in human flesh (1 John 1:1, 14; 8:58; Colossians 2:9), Jesus knew how sinful and guilty humanity is, however, He did not come to accuse or condemn anyone for their sin. Rather, He came to forgive people and take away their sin.
7 In Christ we are set free by the blood of His death, and so we have forgiveness of sins. How rich is God’s grace. Ephesians 1:7, New Century Version
Forgiveness of sins brings healing and wholeness.
When we appreciate how we are truly forgiven of all our sins, we are set free to enjoy a healthy relationship with God. The Pharisees were right about the problem of sin, but their approach was unhealthy and wrong. They demanded people to earn God's favour, hoping the good they did would outweigh the bad they had done. Jesus, on the other hand, offered rest to those who were laden down with sin. This demonstrated the richness of God's grace.
God's grace is something we can never earn, but something we will always need. Grace changes the way we view God. Instead of seeing Him as an angry Divine Being, we have come to know Him as our Loving Father. This provides the basis for us to build strong and enduring relationships with those who matter most to us. In other words, Christ's forgiveness gives us grace and freedom to love others, in the same manner to how we have first received love from God.
What are the spiritual benefits of knowing that I have been forgiven of my sin?
9 Making known to us the mystery (secret) of His will (of His plan, of His purpose). [And it is this:] In accordance with His good pleasure (His merciful intention) which He had previously purposed and set forth in Him, 10 [He planned] for the maturity of the times and the climax of the ages to unify all things and head them up and consummate them in Christ, [both] things in heaven and things on the earth. Ephesians 1:9-10
The gospel reveals the mystery of God's will, that He had chosen us and called us "holy and blameless". This is not by our own works but instead, God incorporated us into Christ's perfect work. The Apostle Paul tells us that God was working patiently, until everything was in place for Christ to bring all things together in unity through His sufferings and victory.
God reveals His grace to all, allowing everyone the possibility of experiencing His grace without the need for them to do anything on their part. Once saved, we are in God's will and under God's blessing because of our union with Christ. This means that right now, we are all in the will of God for salvation and transformation.
Some people, however, make discovering God's will elusive and harder than it really is.
God's will is about embracing our identity in Christ. In Christ, we are continually transformed by the amazing truth of the gospel. When we learn to live out this truth in every situation and circumstance, God works in and through us. The Holy Spirit instructs us to act in conformity to our identity and inheritance in Christ. When we believe that we are God’s children, we choose and act in the same manner of whom we belong to. This is why the early disciples didn't just sit and wait for God to tell them what to do next. Christ's Great Commission was enough for them to go about intentionally living and sharing their faith daily to everyone. Likewise that should also be our attitude and posture in life.
Knowing that we are already blessed with every spiritual blessing in Christ should empower us to take bold steps for God. In Christ, there is no such thing as being out of God's will. This is because a right understanding of the gospel leads us to righteous believing, righteous actions and habits.
It is true that there will be times of doubt and discouragement and even fear because we have "sinned against God". But the truth is that when God puts us in Christ, He has placed us in the safest place possible. It is far away from condemnation and severe judgement. Our position in Christ enables us to experience full recovery and a deep personal healing. We can be assured that God who began a good work in us, is and will be faithful to complete it.
Am I living out the truth of who I am and what I have in Christ?
7 In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace 8 which He made to abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence. Ephesians 1:7-8
The phrase, "in Christ" or a variant of it appears some twelve times in the opening verses of Ephesians 1:1-14. The emphasis could not be clearer. Every blessing God wants you to receive is bound up in your relationship with Christ. It is through Jesus, at the cost of His own precious blood, that you have been freely forgiven and fully redeemed from your sin once and for all.
Jesus, the Son of God, cut a covenant with God the Father on our behalf, of which we have become beneficiaries of His death. It is out of the riches of His grace that we enjoy our inheritance of blessings. You are set for life because your Lord can provide for all your needs and wants in accordance to His name. Don't look for blessings somewhere else. You cannot be more blessed or complete than who you already are in Christ. All the blessings in your life are found in Jesus.
There are believers, however, who feel they are not blessed enough. They frequently move from one church to another, one so-called anointed ministry to another, so as to harness more blessings in their life. Sadly they reduce their relationship and friendship with God to a formula or transactional agreement. They are taught to say a certain prayer, thing or behave in a particular way in order for God to bless them even more. In doing so, they are only trying to earn God's blessings instead of receiving them by faith.
God's blessing is not a goal for us to strive towards in our Christian lives. The Christian life is an unfolding of the blessings that belongs to us, given to us as a gift, because we belong to God. We have a good God who does not withhold from us. If we believe otherwise, we will always have an issue trusting God and not rely on Him fully to work all things for our good.
Consider these words of the Apostle Paul:
32 For God has proved His love by giving us His greatest treasure, the gift of His Son. And since God freely offered Him up as the sacrifice for us all, He certainly won’t withhold from us anything else He has to give. Romans 8:32 Passion Translation
Take time to study the implications of this truth in your life. Live out this truth in your daily life and walk in faith rather than self-performance.
Start by listing the blessings God has wisely and generously bestowed on you, and take a moment to recognise that they are already yours right now. Each blessing is a reality of God's grace — enabling you to live not by your own strength, but by His presence and power working within you.What impact does Paul's repeated use of "in Christ" have on me?
The world ties personal worth to performance.
Whether you are an athlete or a dancer, a staff or a student, it is important to give your best to what you love doing. But don’t let your success go to your head and lead you to selfish pride.
An unhealthy sense of pride creates a false sense of self worth.
It misleads you to believe that you need to meet certain standards in order to feel good about yourself. Pride can certainly breed a performance-based life. The Pharisees were such prideful people because they were caught up in a performance-oriented game and religion. They measured their own sense of success by their own self-made rules and trusted in their own efforts more than relying on God’s grace.
Pride can rob a person from enjoying the fruits of success due to false feelings of not measuring up and never being good enough. The truth is that it actually limits you. You attempt only things that you are confident of success and avoid things you feel most at risk of failing. It also affects the way you relate to people. You like others who don’t threaten your ego or social standing, and avoid those whose greater measure of success and significance make you feel lesser than how you would like to be perceived and more like a failure.
You are missing the mark if you ever use any standard, even a Christian standard, to obtain a more positive sense of worth. Your sense of worth comes from God, not your performance.
6 to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved. Ephesians 1:6
God shows His acceptance of you by ascribing unsurpassable worth to you. By redeeming you with an unsurpassable price through His Beloved Son, the Apostle Paul says that you are accepted in Christ. He means that God is truly satisfied with you because He saves you by Christ’s performance, and not yours.
The word, “accepted” comes from the Greek charitoō which means “to be highly favoured”. You are highly favoured by God because He loves you the same as He loves His Son. Allow this truth to set you free today, and radically change every aspect of your life.How does knowing God's favour empowers me to overcome every problem today?
Jesus spent some thirty years in obscurity before He began His public ministry. From the little bits that we know of his childhood, it is clear that Jesus understood from a very young age of His call to do His Father’s business (Luke 2:49). In the ensuing years, He grew in wisdom and stature, always in favour with God and men (Luke 2:52).
Jesus was raised in a culture whereby it was important for a father to publicly “adopt” his son into the family business. This adoption is unlike our modern idea of adoption. It is about a son coming of age, ready to take his place and play his role in what his father is doing. As such, Jesus Himself was publicly adopted by His Father God on the day of His baptism. He was totally committed to carry out His Father’s business with full authority and power.
10 And immediately, coming up from the water, He saw the heavens parting and the Spirit descending upon Him like a dove. 11 Then a voice came from heaven, “You are My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” Mark 1:10-11
With the blessing of His Father, Jesus as the Son of God launched into His ministry, knowing that His Father had sent Him (John 8:42). As Jesus was chosen and adopted by the Father as His Son, He also chose us before the foundation of the world to be adopted as His "sons" through Christ.
4 Just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, 5 having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will. Ephesians 1:4-5
In adopting us as “sons” in accordance to the good pleasure of His will, God also made us heirs and joint heirs with Christ (Romans 8:17). This is so that we can receive everything that He has obtained for us through His finished work on the cross. As sons, we share in all the benefits and privileges of the Son in this age and also in the age to come.
How conscious am I of the importance of my identity in Christ?
4 Just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love. Ephesians 1:4
Have you ever worried about whether God accepts you or whether you are worthy of His love?
We know that God accepts us and loves us because He chose us before the foundation of the world. What does "foundation of the world" mean? The word for "foundation" carries two meanings; one refers to before the creation of the universe and other after the fall of creation. That is to the fall of Adam and the dire consequences resulting from it, and both meanings are applicable. There is no reason why the Apostle Paul should not have both in mind.
Adam's fall didn't deter God's perfect plan for your life.
God called and purposefully planned for you to be one with Christ even from the beginning of creation. Out of His great love and extravagant generosity, God chose or "set you apart" by joining you to Christ. This is so that through Christ, you are made holy and blameless in His presence. In other words, God found you in Christ before you were lost as a result of Adam’s sin and downfall.
The implication is huge.
This means that you were never an accident or a mistake. If you believe this, stop acting like one and stop thinking as if your life doesn't matter. The word "chose" in Greek is ekelgo. It means "honourably elected to fulfil a call or purpose". Ekelgo is a compound word — ek means "out of", and lego means "spoken word". In context, long before you existed or were even born, God had already "spoken out" your identity and destiny in Christ. Your life is a perfect "speech" of God's grace because He compared you to Christ.
Your life is intertwined with God's call and purpose.
You have a significant role to play in God's great plan for humanity. It is time for you to speak out what God has spoken into you. Start to release what He has deposited in you and accomplish what He has already put into you.
Am I actively living out my life believing that I have been chosen by God?
7 In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace. Ephesians 1:7
Are you happy being you? Some people struggle with finding happiness in being themselves.
5 [God] predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will. Ephesians 1:5 New International Version
11 In Him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of Him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of His will. Ephesians 1:11 New International Version
Some people believe predestination is about God including some but excluding others from His salvation plan. The truth is that predestination reveals God's character. Out from God's great love and good pleasure, He is and has been working out everything to make everyone His own. In other words, salvation was not God's "Plan B" to fix the fall of creation but rather our spiritual adoption through Jesus Christ. This has always been God’s "Plan A" right even before the foundation of the world.
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ. Ephesians 1:3
Everything our Heavenly Father has for us is “gift-wrapped” in Christ.
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places. 4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. Ephesians 1:3-4 English Standard Version
In Christ, God has given us every possible blessing for our growth and benefit.
10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. Ephesians 2:10 English Standard Version
Ministry is not something we do for God, but something we do with God.
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Galatians 5:22
The ninth attribute of the fruit of the Spirit is self-control.
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Galatians 5:22
The eight attribute of the fruit of the Spirit is gentleness.
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Galatians 5:22-23
The seventh attribute of the fruit of the Spirit is faithfulness.
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Galatians 5:22
The sixth attribute of the fruit of the Spirit is goodness.
The fourth attribute of the fruit of the Spirit is long-suffering.
The Greek word for long-suffering is makrothymia which means “to not lose heart, mild, slow to punish”. It is a compound word (makros meaning “long duration” and thumos meaning “anger”) depicting God’s forbearance and extreme patience towards us. The Holy Spirit desires that we demonstrate this same patience to others (and ourselves), so that we can enjoy healthy and fruitful relationships.
Patience is different from passive waiting.
It involves laying the groundwork to bring change and to get things ready beforehand so that you can affect change at some point in time. In other words, patience is calculated action and a well thought out way of doing something well. It is like a farmer who knows the right season to plant, patiently waiting for the right timing to harvest.
When we show patience towards others, especially those who have angered or disappointed us, we are less likely to hurt our relationship with them. This in turn propels us to trust God in turn the relationship around for the better. This was how Jesus portrayed God in the parable of the Prodigal Son. In the story, the father was so full of compassion and patience that he waited and watched for his wayward son to return. The story then tells us that when he saw the son coming back from a far distance, He humiliated himself in public by running towards him, putting his arms around him and kissing him repeatedly.
When you allow God to love you, to unequivocally love you, you will also be able to extend that same kind of love and patience to others. If you find it hard to love someone or show them patience and compassion, give yourself permission to return back to your source and supply. When in His presence and true love, drink deep.
The Holy Spirit is our helper.
You can lean on Him to provide you with what you need. The Spirit will give you the strength and grace to forgive, accept and love people — not when you feel they are deserving. You will find power to do so because the Holy Spirit has already filled your heart to an overflowing point, allowing you to pour your love onto others around you.Is there someone that I need to show patience and understanding?
The third attribute of the fruit of the Spirit is peace.
If you have ever prayed to God asking for Him to give you peace, the truth is that as a Christian, you already have it. This is because His Spirit who is also the Spirit of peace resides in you. As such, you don't chase after God's peace whenever you don't feel at peace or are struggling in some way. Rather you are to manifest God's peace by faith because His unshakable peace is ever present within you.
The Greek word for peace is eirēnē which means the binding or joining together again for what was divided back into wholeness. The Apostle Paul tells us the peace of God surpasses all understanding (Philippians 4:7). This supernatural peace is so much more than a warm gushing feeling but it is a profound confidence in God, no matter what circumstances life throws in your direction.
Consider these words of the Apostle Paul:
15 And let the peace of God rule in your hearts. Colossians 3:15
The Greek word for "rule" is brabeuo which means "to act as umpire, to make the call" (Strong's G1018). During Paul’s time, an umpire or a referee is called a brabeus, and his purpose was to arbitrate the game, ensuring all players follow the rules. If a player didn't play according to the rules, the brabeus will stop him from playing because the player is in conflict with the rules of the game. Likewise, when you choose not to believe that God's peace is already in you, you end up feeling as if you are "out of the game". Be at peace and remember to rest completely in the gospel truth again.
When you have God's peace to "umpire" your heart, you are fully assured by a strong supernatural sense of peace and certainty. When everything seems to be against you, think of Jesus, Peter and Paul.
God's peace is the manifested presence of the Kingdom in you.
Let God's supernatural peace rule your heart. Never allow any conflict, contradictory thoughts and feelings or even trying circumstances rob you of your joy and peace for these are rightfully yours, as promised in the gospel.Do I keep reminding myself that God's peace is already in me?
The second attribute of the fruit of the Spirit is joy.
The first attribute of the fruit of the Spirit is love.
The Apostle Paul told the Galatians that their faith is not founded on following the Law, for it leads to bondage all over again. Instead pursue a liberating life in the Spirit built on the wonderful revelations of Jesus Christ.
5 For our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Spirit and in much assurance, as you know what kind of men we were among you for your sake. 1 Thessalonians 1:5
Holiness is a God-given ability to live the life of the Spirit, without ever contradicting the Scriptures.
15 For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” 16 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God. Romans 8:15-16 ESV
The Apostle Paul tells us that the Holy Spirit comes to bear witness or speaks together with our spirit assuring us that we are truly God's children. The Greek word for “bear witness” is symmartyre, which literally means “testifying in support of someone”. This means every time God speaks to your spirit, He affirms the truth of your birthright and adoption as His son or daughter (John 1:12-13; Romans 8:15; Galatians 4:5-7).
30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by Him you were sealed for the day of redemption. Ephesians 4:30
As a new creation, you are connected to Christ through the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit delights in revealing the truth to you for He desires for you to live out your life with a full revelation of Christ. The Apostle Paul writes how the Holy Spirit is affected by your response to His revelation. To receive the Holy Spirit is to receive His revelation. Nothing gives Him the greatest joy when you understand the truth of who you are and what you have in Christ.
To reject His revelation, however, is to reject the Holy Spirit.
When you reject the truth of what God thinks of you, you not only hurt yourself but also grieve the Holy Spirit. The Greek word for “grieve” is lypeō which means “to make sorrowful”. The idea of grief here is not about feeling sad but the suffering for being doubted or rejected.
How do we grieve the Holy Spirit?
Consider Paul’s words here,
31 Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamour, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. Ephesians 4:31
In short, we grieve the Holy Spirit by denying our freedom in Christ and returning back to those things we had already been delivered from, since the day we first said "yes" and accepted Jesus as our Saviour and Lord.
How do we avoid such things then?
It is by developing an awareness of His Spirit’s presence in your life and depending on Him to lead and teach you. Jesus tells us that the role of the Holy Spirit is to convict (which means "bringing to light") believers of their righteousness, and we grieve the Holy Spirit when we stop believing the truth of who we are and whose we are in Christ.
The Holy Spirit grieves for us, and does not grieve against us.
When you stop believing rightly about yourself, it becomes easier to start behaving wrongly in your actions. Your sins not only hurt you but also those around you. Though God promises not to hold your sins against you (Hebrews 8:12), what you believe and how you live matter to Him. This is why God gives you His Spirit of grace to change you from within, so that through His presence and power you are free from the spirit of guilt and condemnation. It is by enjoying this freedom that you will find strength to live daily for God.
The opposite of grieving the Holy Spirit is joy in the Holy Spirit (Romans 14:17).Have you asked the Holy Spirit to help you today? What has He reminded you about your identity and inheritance in Christ?
18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. 25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Galatians 5:18, 25
There is clearly a distinction between "being led by the Spirit" and "walking in the Spirit". The former implies the Spirit guiding you, and the latter shows our obedience to His guidance.
1 The Spirit clearly says that in the last times some will turn away from what we believe. They will obey spirits that tell lies. And they will follow the teachings of demons. 2 Those teachings come through people who tell lies and trick others. These evil people cannot see what is right and what is wrong. It is like their conscience has been destroyed with a hot iron. 3 They say that it is wrong to marry. And they say that there are some foods that people must not eat. 1 Timothy 4:1 Easy-to-Read Version
When Jesus was baptised by John in the river Jordan, the Holy Spirit came like a dove and rested on Him.
The first thing the Holy Spirit did was to lead Jesus into the wilderness to confront the devil. So it wasn't the devil challenging the Son of God but it was the Son of God challenging the devil in the open. Likewise, Christ's desire and expectation of His Church is that we take an offensive position against the devil and his schemes. Jesus promised us that when we do so, we will have victory over the devil and his demonic forces (Mark 16:17).
The Apostle Paul tells us that the Holy Spirit, who is the Spirit of Truth, calls all of us to be mindful of the lies and wiles of Satan. By responding to the Spirit's prompting, He will give us the insight and wisdom to expose and defeat the counterfeit works of the devil.
Satan never had an original idea. He likes to counterfeit what is genuine from God and pervert it, so as to divert us from the truth. 2 Corinthians 11:14 tells us that Satan looks and acts like an angel of light, but behind the facade hides a rather diabolical character. Satan imitates God because he wants to deceive everyone into rejecting God, so that they will end up with the same fate as him.
Paul reveals to Timothy that legalism is a counterfeit approach to morality and righteousness. God certainly wants us to walk and live a righteous life, and He helps us by generating the desire within us to do so (Hebrews 10:16). The devil, however, will twist Scripture to his own ends. He will deceive believers that certain practices like falsely imposed celibacy and legalistic dietary restrictions are more spiritual and more pleasing to God.
If deception is Satan's greatest weapon, then the gospel is our unparalleled weapon against the devil. Be like Jesus and use God's Word against Satan. You can resist and overcome the devil with the truth of your identity in Christ and the freedom that comes from it. By being rooted in Christ, the devil can never dominate or enslave you again.Am I able to discern false teaching from what God's Word actually says?
8 And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: 9 of sin, because they do not believe in Me; 10 of righteousness, because I go to My Father and you see Me no more; 11 of judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged. John 16:8-11
Jesus tells us that the Holy Spirit brings conviction to the unbelievers of their sin of unbelief. The believers are reminded of their righteousness in Christ, and Satan of his judgement and ultimate defeat. The devil however, refuses to concede defeat because of pride and arrogance. He wages war against the saints but the outcome of Satan’s fate and defeat is guaranteed.
8 And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: 9 of sin, because they do not believe in Me; 10 of righteousness, because I go to My Father and you see Me no more; 11 of judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged. John 16:8-11
When was the last time the Holy Spirit convicts you of sin?
8 When the Helper comes, he will show the people of the world how wrong they are about sin, about being right with God, and about judgment. 9 He will prove that they are guilty of sin, because they don’t believe in me. John 16:8-9 Easy-to-Read Version
God hates sin, not just because it is bad and wrong, but because of what it does to us. Sin hinders us from encountering and experiencing God's love and forgiveness. While we might know that nothing can separate us from God's love, a lack of revelation in the gospel prevents us from laying hold of the benefits and blessings founded upon the finished work of the cross. This is why Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to convict the world or the unbelievers of sin.
It is good to know the difference between the meaning of the words conviction and condemnation.
Condemnation hurts our pride but it doesn't really bring any benefit into our relationship with God. Conviction heals and frees us. It is not about finding a person’s faults, weaknesses and failings. It is about becoming aware of our wholeness and fullness in Christ. It is through the preaching of God's gift of righteousness that helps everyone to walk out of condemnation. Faith comes by hearing and hearing the gospel of Christ (Romans 10:17). The Holy Spirit convicts unbelievers of their sin and releases faith for them to believe their sin has been paid in full.
If someone rejects the gospel, as some might, they are actually rejecting their freedom from sin and their ability to live according to God's intended purpose. This is why Jesus told us not to be surprised when the world hates us on His account. Even so, endeavor to be Christ-like to them and learn to bear the reproach of others when you are identified with Christ.
The Apostle Paul tells us the reason behind their resistance:
4 In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. 2 Corinthians 4:4
Those that are blinded by Satan are unable to see the light of the gospel. It is crucial to pray against deception and spiritual blindness and partner with the Holy Spirit in revealing God's love to hurting people who are in bondage to sin.How I have been listening to the Holy Spirit to share the good news with someone? What happened and why did it happen?
26 But the Helper will teach you everything and cause you to remember all that I told you. This Helper is the Holy Spirit that the Father will send in my name. John 14:26 Easy-to-Read Version
The Holy Spirit is your Teacher.
He continually reveals everything you need to know about Jesus as you grow into conformity with Christ. If the desire and passion for God are there, there is no end to what you can learn. It is good to know that Father, Son and the Spirit are equal and work in harmony with each other. As the Father sent the Son whom He loved into the world He loves — the Beloved Son sent the Spirit of love (Romans 5:5) into our heart so that we might cry out, "Abba Father, I love you" (Galatians 4:6).
The Holy Spirit helps us in understanding the Scripture.
While the Bible is a closed book to the lost (1 Corinthians 2:14), it is the source of spiritual truth and sustenance for believers. The Holy Spirit desires us to go deeper into the Word of God so that we may discover Jesus who is the eternal, creative and living Word of God. This is especially crucial since Jesus told us everything in all of Scripture points to and finds it fulfilment in His person and work (Luke 24:27, 44).
10 God by His Spirit has brought it all out into the open before you. The Spirit, not content to flit around on the surface, dives into the depths of God, and brings out what God planned all along. 1 Corinthians 2:10 The Message BibleIf you think studying the Bible is boring, have a think again and reconsider it for a moment. You might have had a wrong approach to studying God's Word. The Holy Spirit wants to illuminate your mind and give you the ability to comprehend the subtle nuances of the Scripture. Using Bible aids (such as the concordance, Bible dictionaries and commentaries) will significantly help you to understand the Bible. However, when your passion for studying Scripture is coupled with the Spirit's guidance, you will be amazed by what you are able to glean from God's Word. Remember that the Holy Spirit is a willing teacher who wants you to grow into the fullness of Christ (Ephesians 4:13-14). This is so that you will not be vulnerable to false doctrines and willful lies from the devil. Knowing that the Spirit will always exalt Jesus will enable you to discern the truth from anything that does not exalt Jesus. This is because the Holy Spirit has set such a perfect standard for our faith (which is the Person of Christ) that we will not be easily swept away by spiritual fads and unsound teachings. Can you recall what false teachings, myths and misconceptions that you had believed in the past? How did the Holy Spirit bring you back to the gospel truth?
15 If you [really] love Me, you will keep and obey My commandments.16 And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper (Comforter, Advocate, Intercessor—Counselor, Strengthener, Standby), to be with you forever— 17 the Spirit of Truth, whom the world cannot receive [and take to its heart] because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He (the Holy Spirit) remains with you continually and will be in you. John 14:15-17 Amplified Bible
14 The Spirit of truth will bring glory to me by telling you what he receives from me. John 16:14 Easy-to-Read Version
The Holy Spirit who is also the Spirit of truth will reveal to us all that Jesus desires us to be and do in His Name. We could see how this happened in the lives of the disciples and the early church when they earnestly and diligently flowed with the Holy Spirit to accomplish what the Lord had willed for them. In other words, the work of the Holy Spirit is to give glory to Jesus and to turn people's hearts to trust in Him for their salvation and grow into His image.
The Holy Spirit does not call attention to Himself. He acts as a spotlight would do, pointing us to Christ and will never add nor subtract or even deviate from any revelation of the gospel truth. We, however, must not assume He is some sort of a divine messenger or an errant runner. The Holy Spirit is the Third Person of the Trinity and He is a Person; not an impersonal force. We can know Him too, just as how we know God the Father and God the Son.
It is important to know the Holy Spirit because He wants to be deeply involved in our lives. By walking with Him daily, you can open yourself up to the opportunity to change the spiritual atmosphere anywhere you go.
When the Apostle Paul laid hands on the twelve men in Ephesus for them to receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit, it sparked a significant shift in the spiritual texture of the city and its citizens. In Acts 19, we can see the turning of Ephesus and the Ephesians from the darkness of occult practices into the life and light of Christ within a short span of time.
Imagine seeing the same thing happening in our city — I believe it is possible, if and when we let the Holy Spirit move as He wills. If a small virus can shake up the whole world, I wonder what faith the size of a mustard seed can do when we allow the Holy Spirit to work in and through us?Am I willing to partner with the Holy Spirit to exalt Jesus and to share His love in practical ways with others?
2 Tell me this one thing: How did you receive the Spirit? Did you receive the Spirit by following the law? No, you received the Spirit because you heard the message about Jesus and believed it. Galatians 3:2 Easy-to-Read Version
If what we read and believe about the Bible doesn't lead us into encountering God or worshipping Him more deeply, we have gained nothing of value. It is somewhat like having lots of head knowledge about God, but without a heart connection to God. That was what the Judaizers tried to do in the Bible. They wanted the Galatians to stuff their minds with rules and laws instead of living their lives by faith. In doing so, they were robbing these believers of the opportunity to experience the spiritual reality of the fullness of God's grace.
5 He saved us because of his mercy, not because of any good things we did. He saved us through the washing that made us new people. He saved us by making us new through the Holy Spirit. Titus 3:5 Easy-to-Read Version
It is through the transforming power of the Holy Spirit working inside you that you experience the new life in Christ. The moment you are saved, the Holy Spirit abides and remains with you forever. From that day onwards, He glorifies Jesus by helping you to be sure of your salvation and imparts to you fruits and gifts to honour God with your service.
13 Even you who are bad know how to give good things to your children. So surely your heavenly Father knows how to give the Holy Spirit to the people who ask him. Luke 11:13 Easy-to-Read Version
The Father gives us the Holy Spirit through Jesus Christ.
16 You should know that you yourselves are God’s temple. God’s Spirit lives in you. 1 Corinthians 3:16 Easy-to-Read Version
What a privilege it is to have the Holy Spirit residing in us.
5 There were some godly Jews in Jerusalem at this time. They were from every country in the world. 6 A large crowd came together because they heard the noise. They were surprised because, as the apostles were speaking, everyone heard in their own language.7 They were all amazed at this. They did not understand how the apostles could do this. They said, “Look! These men we hear speaking are all from Galilee. 8 But we hear them in our own languages. How is this possible? We are from all these different places...11 We are from these different countries, but we can hear these men in our own languages! We can all understand the great things they are saying about God.”12 The people were all amazed and confused. They asked each other, “What is happening?” 13 But others were laughing at the apostles, saying they were drunk from too much wine. Acts 2:5-8, 11-13 Easy-to-Read Version
The coming of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost was to give the 120 believers the boldness to proclaim the gospel.
1 For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven. Ecclesiastes 3:1 English Standard Version
How ready are you for change and are keen to move forward to a new season in your life?
27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. John 10:27
Jesus tells us that the distinctive mark of true faith is an obedience to God.
17 Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. James 1:17 New International Version
We need to remind ourselves that we have a good and perfect Father who gives us good and perfect gifts. Even if we are right in the midst of suffering and sudden difficulty, God is still blessing us in an amazing way. But somehow, we tend to blame God for what we don't understand, rather than trusting God to stay faithful and true to His character. God has promised us in His Word that He will never leave us or forsake us, and that He has the power to turn the worst tragedy into something beautiful.
God measures success differently from the way we measure success.
To the world, success is the result of hard work. To God, success is a restful increase. The world defines success as having a high living standard, status and possessions, but to God, success is an overflow from meditating on His Word.
1 The righteous stand their ground as boldly as a young, ferocious lion! Proverbs 28:1, Direct Translation
Often when you are struggling, it is common to feel defeated and discouraged. You may pray over what is troubling you, but you can't help but wonder whether God has heard you. And if He does, then when is the breakthrough going to happen?
18 Do not remember the former things, nor consider the things of old. 19 Behold, I will do a new thing, now it shall spring forth; shall you not know it? I will even make a road in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. Isaiah 43:18-19If you want God to take you to a new season, you need to let go of what you know and make room for Him to move in your life. When it comes to change and transitions, the hardest thing for you is to stay focused and not get stressed out by the unknown or when unexpected things happen.
Have you ever struggled with the idea that you will never be good enough for God? This kind of thinking alienates you from God and distorts your understanding of the gospel.
5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart. Never rely on what you think you know. 6 Remember the Lord in everything you do, and He will show you the right way. Proverbs 3:5-6 Good News Translation
God is not interested in keeping us in our comfort zones.
19 My dear children, for whom I am again in the pains of childbirth until Christ is formed in you. Galatians 4:19 English Standard Version
Too many people agonise over the question of finding out God's will for their lives.
3 Entrust your efforts to the LORD, and your plans will succeed. Proverbs 16:3 God's Word Translation
To succeed, it is important to never give up.
1 Behold, the Lord's hand is not shortened, that it cannot save, or his ear dull, that it cannot hear. Isaiah 59:1 English Standard Version
God is never silent about our discomfort and pain. And neither is He indifferent or passive about it.
17 From now on let no one cause me trouble, for I bear on my body the marks of Jesus. Galatians 6:17 English Standard Version
The Apostle Paul wanted the Galatians to know that the scars he had on his body and by being persecuted, were more significant and substantial than the scar of circumcision. This gave him the right to boast about all he had done and suffered in preaching the gospel. As Christians, it helps to give us some perspective when we too face rejection or get discouraged by people unable or unwilling to receive Jesus Christ.
14 But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. Galatians 6:14 English Standard Version
Christians can too often measure their spiritual life by how much they have sacrificed and given up for God and His Kingdom, rather than by how much they have received and enjoyed from the Lord. Instead of boasting in their fleshy works and self-effort, the Apostle Paul boasted in the accomplishments of Christ's finished work on the Cross.
8 Formerly, when you did not know God, you were enslaved to those that by nature are not gods. 9 But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how can you turn back again to the weak and worthless elementary principles of the world, whose slaves you want to be once more? 10 You observe days and months and seasons and years! 11 I am afraid I may have laboured over you in vain. Galatians 4:8-10 English Standard Version
What are you doing to make yourself acceptable before God?
1 I mean that the heir, as long as he is a child, is no different from a slave, though he is the owner of everything, 2 but he is under guardians and managers until the date set by his father. 3 In the same way we also, when we were children, were enslaved to the elementary principles of the world. 4 But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. 6 And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” 7 So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God. Galatians 4:1-7 English Standard Version
When we limit the Christian life into just an issue of morality, we miss out on what the gospel is really about. The gospel is not about our personal struggles against sin, but rather it is about our sonship and adoption into the family of God.
Some believers live life with a certain sense of resignation. They often say, “Instead of believing that God will take away my problem, I will learn to cope with it”. They are usually the ones with the gaunt and weary look on their faces, wondering how much more burden they can bear before they finally break.
In January 2009, 800 British buses as well as the London Underground carried a poster with the slogan, “There’s probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life”. Called the Atheist Bus Campaign, this poster was seen across the British Isle and received tremendous support from many members of the public.
11 Who told you that you were naked? Genesis 3:11
When God queried Adam and Eve in the bible asking them, "Who told you that you were naked?", He was questioning their source of authority in their lives and actions. God did not ask so as to humiliate them but to bring them to a better clarity of where they are in their relationship with Him.
22 And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the wine will burst the skins—and the wine is destroyed, and so are the skins. But new wine is for fresh wineskins. Mark 2:22 English Standard Version
When Jesus taught about having new wineskin, He was not introducing the newest formula for church growth, success or implementing the latest style of ministry. Rather our Lord was talking about the condition of our hearts and the need to embrace a fresh perspective on our long-held assumptions.
28 Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her. Proverbs 31:10 New International Version
Dear mothers, you are truly a blessing to your family. I’m sending big hugs to you on this special day — know that you are valued, appreciated and loved by everyone at home. My prayer is that you will continue to experience God in a fresh new way and brighten the lives of your loved ones around you.
36 As they were talking about these things, Jesus himself stood among them, and said to them, “Peace to you!” 37 But they were startled and frightened and thought they saw a spirit. 38 And he said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? Luke 24:36-38 English Standard Version
When Jesus appeared to His disciples after His resurrection, they thought it was His ghost. They could not believe that Jesus had truly risen from the dead because they never took His word to heart. No matter how many times Jesus explained the way of the Cross to them; it never seemed to sink into their minds.
7 For we live by faith, not by sight. 2 Corinthians 5:7 New International Version
We live by what we believe, and not just by what we can see.
Count it all joy, my brothers 2 when you meet trials of various kinds, 3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. 4 And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. James 1:2-4 English Standard Version
The Apostle James tells us to count our trials as joy because the testing of our faith produces steadfastness. Steadfastness is a well-grounded faith that endures and even flourishes during times of pain and affliction. Instead of abandoning hope and sinking into fatal resignation, we each become a stronger person; dealing better with problems and disappointments.
10 Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10 English Standard Version
When the Prophet Isaiah first appeared with this message of hope and strength in the old testament, the people of Israel were exiled from their land. While they were far from where God wanted them to be, He was never far from them. Israel could still experience God's presence and encounter His power of deliverance and restoration in the midst of all of their trials and difficulties.
6 My people are destroyed from lack of knowledge. “Because you have rejected knowledge, I also reject you as my priests; because you have ignored the law of your God, I also will ignore your children. Hosea 4:6 New International Version
Have you ever made this remark, "I prayed but nothing happened"?
10 I am the Lord your God, who brought you up from Egypt’s land. Open your mouth wide — I will fill it up! Psalm 81:10, Common English Bible
Perhaps you are one of many who can't find work, for various reasons, as a result of the current COVID-19 crisis. The resulting loss of income, and the extra expenses incurred, have impacted you so deeply that it has changed the way you now trust God and follow Him. This makes worshipping God hard and less appealing, and you are left trying to figure out why God is seemingly silent when this is the time you really need Him to speak to you.
The silence of God is not the absence of God. After all, God has promised He will not leave us nor forsake us (Deuteronomy 31:6). This promise was first given to the children of Israel in the old testament when they left Egypt for the Promised Land. In spite of witnessing the presence and power of God through the pillar of cloud by day and pillar of fire by night, they were still full of unbelief. Though they ate manna every day and their clothes miraculously never wore out for forty years, they still have difficulty trusting God for their next season.
Can we truly say we fare better today than the children of Israel?
In our lives we are often plagued by fear, doubt and unbelief even though Christ is in us and His Spirit never ceases to remind us that we have every blessing in Him. We act and behave as though God's promises were meant for someone else but not us. When we have no revelation of who we are and what we have in Christ, it prevents us from taking hold of God's promises for ourselves.
Behind the promise of God is backed by the provision from God for all of your needs and much more.
The Psalmist reminded us that God is able to meet all our needs, whether spiritual or physical. The invitation is for us to “open our mouths wide” and He will fill it. Likened to a nursing mother who feeds her hungry baby, God has always something good to give us.
When God appears slow to act, we must remind ourselves that He knows what He is doing. God is sovereign and that is, nothing in life can stop Him from fulfilling His promises to us. When we grow impatient and remain focused on our problems, instead of looking to Jesus as our source and security — take heart for He is our very help in our time of need. Allow Him to come in and His peace and rest will be with you even while you are still in midst of a raging storm.
What promises from God do I need to hold on to, to help me stay hopeful?
28 Let us be thankful then, because we receive a kingdom that cannot be shaken. Let us be grateful and worship God in a way that will please him, with reverence and awe. Hebrews 12:26-29 Good News Translation
Change and transition does not come in a neat little package.
4 Just as the day was breaking, Jesus stood on the shore; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. 5 Jesus said to them, “Children, do you have any fish?” They answered him, “No.” 6 He said to them, “Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some.” So they cast it, and now they were not able to haul it in, because of the quantity of fish. John 21:4-6 English Standard Version
When facing a crisis such as COVID-19, we must learn to receive faith from God through His revealed truth in the Scripture and apply it into our situation. Faith is more than just hearing the truth, but it also involves acting on the truth. This is important even if we have not been fully persuaded or convinced when we hear it for the first time.
33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. 34 “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. Matthew 6:33-34 English Standard VersionOften we want God to take care of our needs — and He will. As Jesus has promised us that we have a Heavenly Father who knows what we need before we ask Him, He is also able to do more than we realize (Ephesians 3:20). But there are times when what we considered as a need wasn’t one, we ask God to bless our self-centered pursuits and end up out of His purpose for our lives.
12 I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. 13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Philippians 4:12-13Are you afraid of failure or success? The Bible is full of stories about people who allowed their fear of failure or success to stop them from getting ahead in life. Think of Abraham, Moses, Esther and John Mark — their fearful thoughts limited God from working in and through them. And God had to wait until they were willing to trust Him.
1 Now in the church that was at Antioch there were certain prophets and teachers...2 As they ministered to the Lord and fasted, the Holy Spirit said, “Now separate to Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” 3 Then, having fasted and prayed, and laid hands on them, they sent them away. Acts 13:1-3Are you part of a church that recognises and respects God's call for your life and will endeavour to help you fulfil your purpose? Or are you part of a church that just wants you to keep the status quo and not make any radical changes to your life?
17 that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height—19 to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Ephesians 3:17-19There is no perfect church — if by perfect, we mean a church that is free from conflicts and inconsistencies. Until we are united in our faith and in our knowledge about Jesus, to become fully mature like Him (cf. Ephesians 4:13), every one of us still has a lot of growing up to do. There is a fallacy however amongst believers that they can have a relationship with Christ without any relationships with His Church. Such believers often use their disappointments with other believers to justify their estrangement and isolation. This actually goes against the grain of the gospel that teaches us that every believer is connected with Christ through His Body, the Church (cf. Hebrews 10:25). While certain situations dictate the need to change churches, they however do not warrant us to stay away from church. Simply put, if we choose to be “on our own” without any godly fellowship, we will find ourselves making up our own rules or believing anything that seems right to us. The Apostle Paul prays for every believer (which includes you and I) to "comprehend with all the saints" to fully feel and understand how wide and long and high and deep the love of Christ is (even though it is beyond all knowing) so that we are all filled to the fullness of God. What is the fullness of God? When we know that God is love, we are always filled with His fullness to love Him and others (cf. 1 John 4:11). As such, any believer who appears to love God but can't love God's people, their faith is nothing but "a clanging gong or a clashing cymbal" (1 Corinthians 13:1). Their dismissive attitude towards other believers is definitely out of sync with the gospel of grace. Don't give up on the church. Christ didn't. Neither should you.
24 And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, 25 not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching. Hebrews 10:24-25Community makes everyone's faith bigger and bolder. A lot of believers are spiritual drifters, and they won't settle down until they find the perfect church. Often they harbour a secret hurt stemming from their own fears that people will let them down, and this prevents them from having authentic relationships. But seriously, when is a church ever perfect? The "perfect" church is not the one that is without flaws or problematic people, but the one that you feel like you belong to. When you have that sense of belonging, you feel empowered and this empowerment will also enable you to empower somebody else. This is the power of community — that we can encourage each other to show love and do good.
1 Do not keep silent, O God! Do not hold Your peace, and do not be still, O God! Psalms 83:1The Psalmist echoes the feeling of helplessness we experience when God doesn't seem to be answering our prayers, at least in the way we expect or want. Often this silence will give rise to a "darker picture" of God which makes us doubt His ability and goodness. Don't take God's silence as a "no" but learn to recognise how His silence can affect how you might perceive Him. There is always a reason for the time when God doesn't appear to act or speak. This is not because He wants to frustrate you but because God wants to fix your view or the "lens" in how you see your situation or problem. God does not want you to see your relationship with Him as one to revolve around your timetable, but instead in His ultimate timing for you. You won't find the happiness and peace you seek if you continue to struggle against what God has in mind for each season of your life. Learn to let go. We often forget just how much God loves us and how everything He is doing is for our own good. God's silence is not designed to be an obstacle, aimed at interrupting our progress, but an opportunity to believe that God has a far better plan for us that we can possibly imagine. Until we are certain that God knows what is best for us, we will not turn over our plans to Him. The life of Abraham teaches us a valuable lesson; the more we hurry God, the more we hinder Him. When Abraham couldn’t wait, he produced an Ishmael. But when he learned to believe God, Abraham became the father of many nations. God's silence reveals either your level of faith or your level of frustration. Both faith and frustration clarify the basis and focus of your relationship with God — the first is about trust and confidence in Him, and the other is out of need and desperation. If God appears to be silent right now, just focus on your response to Him. Don't be afraid but be patient and take courage. Be assured that God knows where He is taking us, so as to bless you, and not to hurt you.
40 How often they provoked Him in the wilderness, and grieved Him in the desert! 41 Yes, again and again they tempted God, and limited the Holy One of Israel. Psalm 78:40-41Complaining does not change your circumstances. But believing in God does. A complaining spirit reveals an unbelieving heart, and it is this unbelief that limits both God and you. It denies you from receiving from Him. In the gospels, this was what happened to Jesus when He came amongst His own people:
5 Now He could do no mighty work there, except that He laid His hands on a few sick people and healed them. 6 And He marvelled because of their unbelief. Mark 6:5-6Mark tells us that Jesus marvelled at their unbelief. The word “marvelled” literally means “to lose the mind in bewilderment”. Jesus was certainly baffled by their casual attitude and indifference towards receiving from Him. You can only receive in accordance with what you believe about Jesus. Asaph didn’t end his psalm on a negative note. Rather, he reminded the people that in spite of themselves God had always been and always will be good and faithful to them. Don’t let your pain change God’s plan for you. Stop complaining and start believing and confessing that He is with you, even when you don’t see Him.
8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8God didn't wait for us to be good in order for Him to show us His amazing love. Right from the start, it was God in Christ who made us right with Him. Even when, as the Apostle Paul said, we were alienated from God and hostile towards Him by our evil thoughts and actions (Colossians 1:21).
10 So [Adam] said “I heard Your voice in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; and I hid myself.” Genesis 3:10Adam hid from God because of his sin. He assumed that if he stayed hidden, he could work things out himself. And that God wouldn't find out about what he had done, provoking God to deal with him severely.
5 Trust in the Lord completely, and do not rely on your own opinions. With all your heart rely on him to guide you, and he will lead you in every decision you make. 6 Become intimate with him in whatever you do, and he will lead you wherever you go. Don’t think for a moment that you know it all. Proverbs 3:5-6 The Passion TranslationSome of us are more prone to worrying than trusting God.
6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; 7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7In our lives we can become overwhelmed by our worries and feel anxious because we have no control over life's events, more so with the threat of COVID-19. This leads us to a fearful thinking that makes it impossible to trust God and lean on Him each day.
12 For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more. Hebrews 8:12Whenever a court passes a verdict of "not guilty", it doesn't mean the defendant was innocent of the crime. Rather, the case was not proven beyond reasonable doubt leading to a guilty verdict. In our case before God's court of law however, we were judged both "guilty" and "not guilty" equally at the same time.
21 For He [God] made Him [Jesus] who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. 2 Corinthians 5:21Many Christians often struggle with the issue about getting right with God. They are constantly worrying about their ability to please God, which in turn traps them in a vicious circle of self effort, spiritual failure and condemnation.
4-6 Everyone who commits sin breaks God’s law, for that is what sin is, by definition—a breaking of God’s law. You know, moreover, that Christ became man for the purpose of removing sin, and he himself was quite free from sin. The man who lives “in Christ” does not habitually sin. The regular sinner has never seen or known him. 1 John 3:4-6 J.B. Phillips New TestamentThere is a difference between God's judgement of our sin and Him disciplining us to keep us from sinning. The punishment of God on sin deals with our past but His discipline deals with our future. Given that God had already judged our sin in the flesh of His Son, He gives us the spirit of sonship to walk free from the power of sin. If we go about our lives in sin, without resisting it, it means we have not fully understood that Christ's death has removed the power of sin from our lives once and for all.
13 Jesus answered and said to her, “Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, 14 but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.” John 4:13-14Are you fully satisfied with Christ?
8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast. Ephesians 2:8-9When it came to your salvation, Jesus left nothing half done.
11 Yes, God raised Jesus to life! And since God’s Spirit of Resurrection lives in you,
he will also raise your dying body to life by the same Spirit that breathes life into you!
Romans 8:11, The Passion Translation
As we celebrate Resurrection Sunday today, we are reminded that the resurrection of Jesus Christ changes everything in how we see ourselves and how we minister to others around us.By uniting us into His death and resurrection, we are empowered by the Holy Spirit with the same power that raised Jesus from the dead. Too often we underestimate what God wants to do in and through us. This leads us to pray for more power, and then still long for more, when God has already given us everything we need. Somehow we trust more in receiving from God through our prayers of unbelief than possessing by faith, what God has freely provided for us in Christ. Unlike in the Old Testament where there was a sharp division between what is holy and what is worldly, there is no longer this divide between sacred and secular. Now that the resurrected Christ lives in you, you can supernaturally manifest His presence and power. Everywhere you go — the atmosphere changes because you are a bearer of Christ in the world. Right now, people need God in this time of crisis more than ever. Even though you cannot be physically close to someone, let your prayer carry with it the power to fulfil all of the Father's promises. The Holy Spirit that works in you will work in the lives of your loved ones and will bring them much needed rest and peace.
32 There were also two others, criminals, led with Him to be put to death. 33 And when they had come to the place called Calvary, there they crucified Him, and the criminals, one on the right hand and the other on the left. 34 Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.” Luke 23:32-34Ignobly treated by the authorities and public, Jesus was crucified on the cross like a common criminal. Yet in the midst of intense suffering, Jesus prayed to the Father to forgive His perpetrators, and not to count their sins against them.
34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. 35 By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another. John 13:34-35Today is called Maundy Thursday. The name of this day is derived from the Latin mandatum, which means love.
3 All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. 4 But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. Ephesians 2:3-5Believers can often lack a clear idea about God's wrath. They might think God's wrath and His love are at odds and irreconcilable. The truth is that God's divine and righteous anger is a proper response to the evil of sin, just like how a protective parent fights back a dog trying to attack his defenceless children. God's wrath comes from a place of deep love and compassion for us. It is not an emotional feeling or uncontrollable rage on God’s part, but it is the manifestation of His just and holy indignation against sin. God's wrath is the natural consequence of sin. If His pure love is never angry with sin knowing how it hurts us us, then His love for us is questionable. It would mean God will not act against sin and bring judgement on it. However, we do have a God who loves us more than what we deserve or can ever humanly comprehend. Many Bible verses warn us of God's wrath stored up against the wicked. We see episodes of when God revealed His wrath against those who hide behind their sins, with the excuse of being ignorant of God and who we are to Him (Romans 1:20). This is why the Apostle Paul tells us that we are by nature children of wrath because of sin working in us. God knew we cannot bear His wrath even though we deserve His judgement. Out of His rich mercy, God justifies the wicked — not by making light of sin or brushing it aside but by bringing it into judgement through Christ's death on the Cross. At the cross we see God's wrath and His love meet intertwined. Christ’s sacrificial offering of love bought us victory over sin. This is good news! God will never again judge us for our sins because the Lord Jesus took our judgement righteously on the cross. As such, please don't be deceived by anyone who claims that COVD19 is God's judgement on the world. Rather, we hold on to Paul's words in Romans 8:32-33:
31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? 33 Who shall bring any charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies. Romans 8:31-33, English Standard VersionPraise the Lord for the truth of His Word!
4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in sins, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6 and He raised us up and seated us together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the coming ages He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. Ephesians 2:4-7, Modern English VersionIt is through Jesus that we encounter and experience God's deepest love and grace. With the work of the cross already finished and complete, Jesus has done all things possible to bring humanity into His saving grace, and offers a life enjoying a right standing with God. By incorporating us into His death and resurrection, even before we believed in God, Christ removed everything that prevented us from receiving all God had for us. Jesus saved us from both sin and the wrath of God, there is now absolutely nothing that can impede a person from choosing to follow Christ and to believe in Him as Lord and Saviour. The Apostle Paul describes this truth beautifully, telling us that even when we are dead in sin, Jesus in Christ has made us alive together with Him. If we take Paul's words seriously, the clear implication is that we are born again even before we believe. Not what we had commonly presumed, that is we must believe in order to be born again. Salvation is always and still is the grace of God at work. Now it is no longer sin that keeps us from God but it is our unwillingness to receive God's love and grace. It is our unbelief that will keep us living a victorious life in Christ. It is by being made alive with Christ that we can believe in Christ. Having such a great gift of salvation, we assume everyone wants to be saved. But it is not always so. Jesus tells us that there are some who have no sense of their own sinfulness, and as such find no need for a Saviour. Too often they see sin as something only evil people would do, but not realising sin is enmity with God (James 4:4). Sin is not what you do but why you do it. Sin is not deeds but a nature within us that acts against a Holy God. Sin refuses to acknowledge God's sovereignty over us and our unwillingness to trust Him for what He has promised. Having removed sin, Jesus gave us a new divine nature and a right standing. This allows every person to have an authentic and personal relationship with God in Christ. This can only come by grace through faith.
9 “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” Matthew 21:9The narrative of the crowd welcoming Jesus with palm leaves and loud praises shows that it is always easy to worship when you are with others. But what happens to worship when you are by yourself, or when the church can't meet together in a building? Worship is personal. You cannot depend or expect others to make you a worshipper. While people can inspire or lead you, only you alone can choose to worship God. Worship is more than just singing songs, it is wholistic — being self-aware of God's presence in every area of your life. Notice the people cried out to Jesus as "Hosanna"? Hosanna means “save us now, please”. In other words, you do not worship to get an infilling of God's grace, but rather your worship is the outpouring of God's grace into every circumstance and situation in your life. The reason why many believers find it hard to worship is because of a weak revelation of God's perfect love towards us. This tension comes from a past hurt or a fracture in their relationship with God. Unless there is healing, this clash between God’s faithfulness against your faithlessness will widen further. That’s why it was easy for the crowd to switch sides a few days later. Without a real revelation of Jesus , they could only receive Him one day and reject Him the next. Worship reveals our true heartfelt view of God. He is not an egotistical megalomaniac Divine Being who demands your worship because He needs validation and approval. God is your Father. Jesus says that when you receive the Son, you also receive the Father (John 13:20). Jesus came to reveal His Father, the heart of God, and His death on the Cross was to restore our hearts back to our Father. In this sense, you can’t worship God your Father without a heart of sonship. Sonship gives you your identity and strengthens your security. Sonship builds intimacy and trust, making obedience easy and serving joyful.
1 The Lord is my light and my salvation. Should I fear anyone? The Lord is a fortress protecting my life. Should I be frightened of anything?
Psalm 27:1-2, Common English BibleDavid composed this psalm when he was under attack from Saul. In the midst of fearing for his life, he was forging his faith in the undeniable goodness of God. David could sing with such boldness and confidence because God was his light and salvation. He knew his enemies will never triumph over him because God is on his side.
8 The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Deuteronomy 31:8 New International VersionAs the nation of Israel prepared to enter the Promised Land, Moses gave them an assuring promise that God will never leave them nor forsake them. Just as God was faithful in His promise to them, God continues to be faithful even in our present circumstances.
38 But Jesus was calmly sleeping in the stern, resting on a cushion. 39 So they shook him awake, saying, “Lord, don’t you even care that we are all about to die!” Fully awake, he rebuked the storm and shouted to the sea, “Hush! Calm down!” All at once the wind stopped howling and the water became perfectly calm. Mark 4:38-39 The Passion TranslationWhere is God right now in the midst of the COVID19 Virus Pandemic? I can say that God is present with us in the midst of the storm, no matter how bleak and grim the latest reports and forecasts seem to be. Like the disciples who thought Jesus did not care about them when their lives were in dire straits, we too may feel God is slow to answer our prayers and cries. We must learn to be like Jesus,staying calm in spite of our external circumstances. What we need to be assured of is that God is sovereign in all things. He alone can do far more than what we can ask or imagine. God has promised that He will never leave us nor forsake us. From a humour point of view, there is no social distancing with God! While some dislike the awful inconvenience, there are others who have suffered horrifying personal pain caused by this crisis. Even if it is hard to explain or understand this terrible crisis, we can still hold on to the love of God. In Romans 8:38-39, the Apostle Paul gave us such a precious truth:
38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38-39, New International VersionPaul singles out ten important things that cannot and will never be able to to separate us from God’s love. We can rest in the safety and security of His perfect love towards us. We can come boldly to Him with a great expectation of receiving His mercy and grace in our time of need. Be sensitive and respond appropriately to those who may have been physically or economically affected by this crisis. Instead of just feeling sorry for them, find the means and opportunities to do right by them in a practical way. Whenever possible, give to those in need and support them through these hard times. Through your acts of kindness, you are extending God's love to others. Whatever you do even to the least, you are doing it to and for the Lord Jesus.
Out of the eater, something to eat; out of the strong, something sweet. Judges 14:14Samson fought a ferocious lion and killed it with his bare hands. When he passed by the same way after a few days, Samson saw bees making honey in its rotten carcass and ate the honey. He later turned his experience into a riddle to reveal a greater truth of God's grace.
27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's offspring, heirs according to promise. Galatians 3:27-29, English Standard VersionGod fulfilled what He had promised to Abraham through Christ, that we who are Gentiles by birth are His spiritual descendants because of our personal faith in Christ. The Apostle Paul told the Galatians that they were baptized into Christ. He explained that by using the rite of circumcision and by following the Law as entry points into the church, they were both superfluous and not keeping in step with the revelation of the gospel.
23 Now before faith came, we were held captive under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed. 24 So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith. 25 But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, 26 for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. Galatians 3:23-26, English Standard VersionThe Apostle Paul tells us that the Law was temporary and a transition before the coming of faith, the Law functioned as a guardian to keep people from sin until Christ came.
22 But the Scripture imprisoned everything under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe. Galatians 3:22, English Standard VersionThe Apostle Paul tells us that the written Law or the Scripture was given to reveal we are prisoners of our own sin. The Law sets a standard of righteousness but it cannot produce righteousness to save us. As such none of us can ever be justified by our own works, but only by faith in Jesus Christ and His finished work on the cross.
21 Is the law then contrary to the promises of God? Certainly not! For if a law had been given that could give life, then righteousness would indeed be by the law. Galatians 3:21, English Standard VersionBoth the promise to Abraham and the Law of Moses were given by God. They were both not in contradiction but were for different purposes. The apostle Paul tells us that if the Law could produce life, then everyone could become justified or righteous by following it. However the Law brought death because no one could be fully justified by their own works in keeping the law. This is the curse of the law and also why Paul pronounced a curse on anyone who preaches a different gospel. Anyone who seeks to add or subtract from what Christ has accomplished for us through His finished work on the cross is under a curse. True righteousness does not come from the law, but from Christ Himself. Our desire to do right does not come from the dictation of the law but from the direction of Christ as our true source of holy living. The Law however has two main functions in the life of a believer. Firstly the Law set a standard to remind us that none can fulfil its requirements and stand righteously before a holy God. Secondly the Law leads us to Christ by showing us our need for a Saviour. If we still insist on using the law to obtain or keep our relationship with God, then we are only reducing salvation to a self-earned reward rather than a free gift from God. Only Christ can give us the life and power to do good and overcome evil. Paul cites the various Old Testament laws in his epistles to bear witness to the gospel. When he was a Pharisees, he understood the Law in a certain way. But now that He has been saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, Paul reads and uses the Law in a whole new way. He tells us that we have a Saviour who has kept the law perfectly for us and borne the judgment and condemnation we deserved. As such, instead of us being under the Law of Moses (where blessings and curses are determined by our obedience), we who are in Christ have a righteousness that is not of our own making but established by the obedience of Christ on the cross. Whenever God sees us today, He looks upon Christ’s perfect righteousness in us and will not impute sin on us (Romans 4:8) because we are made a new creation in Christ. In doing so, God frees us from the accusations of the devil that brings feelings of condemnation and fear. Harbouring the desire to be under the law is to make ourselves slaves of sin again and to stay as enemies of God, pronounce a curse on ourselves, and cut ourselves from Christ and His grace (Galatians 5:4).
19 Why then the law? It was added because of transgressions, until the offspring should come to whom the promise had been made, and it was put in place through angels by an intermediary. 20 Now an intermediary implies more than one, but God is one. Galatians 3:19-20, English Standard VersionThe Apostle Paul tells us the law was "added" to help the Jewish people to become aware of how far they have sinned against God. The two words "added" and "until" implied the Law was not the central theme of God's salvation plan, but it played a secondary role and a shadow of the good things to come (Hebrews 10:1). The Law was "added" and "until" it was fulfilled by Christ who is the promised seed of Abraham, appearing to bring the new covenant. This is both the re-affirmation and continuation of the abrahamic covenant. In other words, the abrahamic covenant was not just for the jews but for all who are in Christ. While the Mosaic covenant is time-limited, temporal and conditional, the new covenant which is the spiritual fulfilment of the abrahamic covenant is eternal and unconditional. As God is one, He ratified His promise to Abraham by Himself. There was no need for an intermediary or any other person to do anything except to accept and believe the gospel by faith. If we are to continue to follow the law in order to be right with God, we are saying that we are still slaves to our sin. Knowing that we have been set free from sin and into the liberty of a new life in Christ, we can walk circumspectly (Ephesians 5:15). It is beneficial to know that Paul wasn't dismissive of the Law. While he repudiates the Law on the issue of circumcision, he re-appropriated the Law for what it is. It was a source leading to the revelation of a new and living way, the gospel of Jesus Christ. For example, in 1 Corinthians 9:9-10, Paul quotes Deuteronomy 24:5 and asserts that the Mosaic call "not to muzzle an ox" was "written for our sakes". The new covenant believers are to financially support ministers of the gospel. It is absolutely impossible to reconcile the gospel with a lifestyle that embraces Old Covenant laws and practices. Such a way of life contradicts all of what Christ had done for us. Instead of seeing the Law as the "legal" authority in the life of a believer, we should acknowledge Christ as our "living" authority over every aspect of life.
17 This is what I mean: the law, which came 430 years afterward, does not annul a covenant previously ratified by God, so as to make the promise void. 18 For if the inheritance comes by the law, it no longer comes by promise; but God gave it to Abraham by a promise. Galatians 3:17-18, English Standard VersionThe Judaizers were teaching the Galatians the necessity of keeping the law because the law replaced God's promises to Abraham. Although the Law was instituted by Moses some 430 years later, the Apostle Paul explained that God's promises to Abraham was irrevocable and sure. This promise was made to Abraham's singular offspring, Jesus and all who put their trust in Him are guaranteed inheritors of the blessings that come from that promise.
15 To give a human example, brothers: even with a man-made covenant, no one annuls it or adds to it once it has been ratified. 16 Now the promises were made to Abraham and to his offspring. It does not say, “And to offsprings,” referring to many, but referring to one, “And to your offspring,” who is Christ. Galatians 3:15-16, English Standard VersionIt is through His death on the Cross that Jesus redeemed the world out of the slavery and from the curse of the law. He did this by becoming a curse on behalf of us. In doing so Jesus made it possible for all who believed in Him to become the children of Abraham by grace through faith.
12 But the law is not of faith, rather “The one who does them shall live by them.” 13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”— 14 so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith. Galatians 3:12-4, English Standard VersionSome believers find it difficult to believe that God is always fully pleased with them and this is because they struggle with living a holy and perfect life, in all their actions and thoughts. This was the problem with the Galatians as they began well but lost their momentum and way when they believed the wrong idea about pleasing God. They embraced a false gospel which was a mixture of law and grace. They wanted to add their works of the Law into the already perfected and undeserved work of grace. Law and grace cannot be mixed together. When the Christian life is a mixture of law and grace, it is like mixing vinegar and wine. It becomes undrinkable. This mixture Paul warns us, leads to hypocrisy. Hypocrisy is man’s religious showmanship and is not of God. It is both self-serving (you are happy when your own flesh is able to please God) and self-defeating (you become unhappy when your flesh fails you). The Apostle Paul tells us:
12 Yet the law is not of faith.
Galatians 3:12If you trust your own flesh to please God, the Law knows your flesh will ultimately fail you. It cannot save you but it points you to a Saviour. Grace is always greater than Law. It offers a righteousness that the Law cannot give. Again, Paul gives us a precious insight:
21 I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain.
Galatians 2:21The complete and perfect work of grace is Jesus’ performance and not yours or ours. God is fully pleased with you because of what Christ has done for you. Don’t set aside the grace of God in how you live your Christian life and especially when you fail in your actions and thoughts, it is of faith and by faith.
10 For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them.” 11 Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for “The righteous shall live by faith.” Galatians 3:10-11 English Standard VersionAnyone who depends on following the law to please God is under a curse. This is a pretty strong statement but it is undercut by the truth that the gospel of God's grace in Christ frees us from the oppressive self-defeating efforts of earning and keeping our salvation. The Apostle Paul tells Galatians if we crossed the line from resting on the flawless work of Christ to relying on our own fleshly efforts to obey the Law for our salvation, we actually put ourselves under the curse of the law. What is the curse of the law? It is the punishment of sin due to your failure to obey all the demands of the Law. Since there is no provision in the Law for the forgiveness of sin, there is nothing you can do to earn God's pardon. When you attempt to live an upright life on your own efforts, doing good deeds and charitable acts, it is not enough to make yourself righteous. The Law is perfect holiness and man, on any attempt of our own, we are doomed to fail. This act of self-righteousness works against what Christ had done for you, and freely given to all, through His finished work on the cross. You cannot measure your righteousness by keeping to any moral standard. Trying to justify yourself by law-keeping and not believing you have been justified by faith is incompatible with the gospel of grace. God does not want you to live by a cold list of rules and regulations. God does not take pleasure when instead of relying on Jesus’s sacrifice, you rely and observe the old and obsolete covenant law of works to please Him. God has empowered you to please Him through a new covenant of grace based on an unbreakable relationship where He puts in your heart and mind the ability and purpose to live as Christ lived and walk as Christ walked (Hebrews 6:6). It is Christ who provides the impetus to live rightly before God because He is the basis and perfecter of your faith. Instead of trying hard to obey God, why don't you see your acts of obedience as the manifestations of grace through faith? Know in your heart that you have God's favour to live a life of obedience that is perfectly plausible and tenable.
6 Just as Abraham “believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”? 7 Know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham. 8 And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “In you shall all the nations be blessed.” 9 So then, those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith. Galatians 3:6-9, English Standard VersionThe Apostle Paul used the example of Abraham to show that justification comes by faith and not by the works of the law. When we believe and are justified by faith in Christ, we become the spiritual children of Abraham. Just as Abraham believed God and was accounted to him as righteousness, we model after him by responding to God's call to salvation through faith.
1 O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified. 2 Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith? 3 Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh? 4 Did you suffer so many things in vain—if indeed it was in vain? 5 Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith— 6 just as Abraham “believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”? Galatians 3:1-6, English Standard VersionKnowing that the Law produces death and condemnation but not life or righteousness, the Apostle Paul was querying the Galatians as to why they were relying on the Law. The Law is unable to produce faith, maturity or the mighty workings of God experienced in their midst.
21 I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose. Galatians 2:21, English Standard VersionToo often believers make light of God's grace which unfortunately leads to dire consequences for their faith. The example of the Galatians is a good illustration of this point. They simply saw grace as something rudimentary and only necessary for their salvation, but once saved they wanted to strictly follow a religious routine of do's and don'ts in order to keep and maintain their salvation. The worst part is not that the Galatian believers had not experienced God's grace for themselves, but that they had abandoned God's grace in replacement of the Law.
20 I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. Galatians 2:20, New American Standard BibleWhen Christ was crucified and raised from death, you were crucified and raised together with Him. By incorporating you into His death and life, sin loses its power and cannot dominate you again. You have died to your old sinful self and are now made alive in Christ as a new creation, completely forgiven and reconciled to God.
17 But if, in our endeavour to be justified in Christ, we too were found to be sinners, is Christ then a servant of sin? Certainly not! 18 For if I rebuild what I tore down, I prove myself to be a transgressor. 19 For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God. Galatians 2:17-19, English Standard VersionBoth the Judaizers and the Galatians who were beguiled into accepting circumcision charged the Apostle Paul for being a transgressor or violating the Jewish law. His belief was that Christ had put an end to the Law as the way to obtain and maintain salvation. In making such a firm stance, Paul's detractors accused him for making Christ “a servant of sin", where there is no imposition of the Law as necessary to ensure moral behaviour and ethical conduct.
15 We ourselves are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners; 16 yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified. Galatians 2:15-16Both justification and sanctification is the unified work of God in the life of a believer. You cannot both be saved by grace and be sanctified by the law of Moses. We either believe by faith that Jesus has completely fulfilled the Law on our behalf or depend on our full and perfect obedience of the Law and all of its commandments for our salvation.
11 But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. 12 For before certain men came from James, he was eating with the Gentiles; but when they came he drew back and separated himself, fearing the circumcision party. 13 And the rest of the Jews acted hypocritically along with him, so that even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy. 14 But when I saw that their conduct was not in step with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas before them all, “If you, though a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you force the Gentiles to live like Jews?” Galatians 2:11-14, English Standard VersionThe Apostle Paul makes it clear that there is a place for public rebuke within the body of Christ, however it must be done with wisdom and discernment. When Paul rebuked Peter for hypocrisy, he knew what was at stake if Peter was allowed to get away with it.. Peter’s actions stood to mislead others to think that it was not proper for Jewish believers to fellowship with Gentile believers. That happened because Barnabas and other Jewish believers became overly cautious and fearful about being labelled for not keeping to Jewish practices and traditions.
10 Only, they asked us to remember the poor, the very thing I was eager to do. Galatians 2:1-2, English Standard VersionIf the gospel you believe in does not include caring for the poor, it is not the gospel at all. Caring for the poor is more than doing acts of charity, it is also about bringing justice and helping the vulnerable and marginalised. There is a difference between charity and justice. Charity is about giving much needed resources to those who are socially and economically poor. Justice however deals with breaking the cycle of poverty. As such charitable efforts are temporary and short-lived measures but justice brings a cultural shift in dealing with the problems of poverty.
7 On the contrary, when they saw that I had been entrusted with the gospel to the uncircumcised, just as Peter had been entrusted with the gospel to the circumcised 8 (for he who worked through Peter for his apostolic ministry to the circumcised worked also through me for mine to the Gentiles), 9 and when James and Cephas and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given to me, they gave the right hand of fellowship to Barnabas and me, that we should go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised. Galatians 2:7-9, English Standard VersionWhen the Apostle Paul shared about his experience with Peter, James and John, he was showing the importance of building relationships with other preachers of the gospel, even if we belong to different groups or communities.
6 And from those who seemed to be influential (what they were makes no difference to me; God shows no partiality)—those, I say, who seemed influential added nothing to me. Galatians 2:6, English Standard VersionThe Apostle Paul was not being arrogant when he told the Galatians that the Jewish apostles did not make any additions or modifications to his knowledge and understanding of the gospel message. Rather Paul wanted to prove to the Galatians, as well as the Judaizers, that the content and authority of the gospel that he preached is on par with Peter and James.
3 But even Titus, who was with me, was not forced to be circumcised, though he was a Greek. 4 Yet because of false brothers secretly brought in—who slipped in to spy out our freedom that we have in Christ Jesus, so that they might bring us into slavery— 5 to them we did not yield in submission even for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might be preserved for you. Galatians 2:1-3-5, English Standard VersionThe Apostle Paul was warning the Galatians against the Judaizers who were persuading Gentile believers to follow the law and submit to circumcision. Circumcision is more than a ritual. To be more precise, it is an act of submission to follow the entire Law of Moses.
3 But even Titus, who was with me, was not forced to be circumcised, though he was a Greek. 4 Yet because of false brothers secretly brought in—who slipped in to spy out our freedom that we have in Christ Jesus, so that they might bring us into slavery— 5 to them we did not yield in submission even for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might be preserved for you. Galatians 2:1-3-5, English Standard VersionFalse brothers are not non-believers in general. They could well be genuine believers with a deceptive and divisive motive of damaging the faith of believers by undermining the simplicity and integrity of the gospel. In this sense, they are false brothers because they are not holding to the truth of what Christ has already accomplished. Rather, they are deceiving believers with smooth talks and slighted twisted truths to draw them away from the genuine gospel of grace to the pseudo-gospel based solely on self-effort and hard work.
1 Then after fourteen years I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, taking Titus along with me. 2 I went up because of a revelation and set before them (though privately before those who seemed influential) the gospel that I proclaim among the Gentiles, in order to make sure I was not running or had not run in vain. Galatians 2:1-2, English Standard VersionThe Apostle Paul was commissioned by our Lord Jesus Christ to reach the Gentiles. Some fourteen years later, he was prompted by a revelation to present the gospel that he preached to the Gentiles to Peter and James. Paul's purpose of going to Jerusalem was to make sure that these leading church figures will acknowledge his ministry and mission as legitimate and of vital importance. He had not run from and will not now run in vain in obeying Christ in preaching to the Gentiles, the message that they need not have to follow the Law of Moses in order to be saved.
18 Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to visit Cephas and remained with him for fifteen days. 19 But I saw none of the other apostles except James, the Lord's brother. 20 (In what I am writing to you, before God, I do not lie!) 21 Then I went into the regions of Syria and Cilicia. 22 And I was still unknown in person to the churches of Judea that are in Christ. 23 They only were hearing it said, “He who used to persecute us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy.” 24 And they glorified God because of me.How radical has your life changed since you received the Lord as Your Saviour? The Apostle Paul experienced such a radical transformation after knowing Jesus that he began to boldly proclaim the gospel which he had previously rejected and despised. His change was so dramatic and in such contrast to his earlier days as a persecutor of the church that many doubted his conversion.
13 For you have heard of my former life in Judaism, how I persecuted the church of God violently and tried to destroy it. 14 And I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my own age among my people, so extremely zealous was I for the traditions of my fathers. 15 But when he who had set me apart before I was born, and who called me by his grace, 16 was pleased to reveal his Son to me, in order that I might preach him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately consult with anyone; 17 nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me, but I went away into Arabia, and returned again to Damascus. Galatians 1:13-17, English Standard VersionThe Apostle Paul shared with the Galatians about his past when he was trapped in legalism, believing his ill treatment and persecution of Christians was the proof of his love for God. What Paul really shows is that legalism is more than just strict religious observances. Rather it is a destructive form of spirituality. It not only corrupts good people to do bad things to others who don't share their conviction, but may even incite them to do violent acts towards those they disagree with. It is through the revelation of Jesus Christ that Paul saw the glory of God's grace. It not only freed him from his legalistic bondage but it also broke his prejudice against the Gentiles and empowered him to take the gospel to them. Legalism clearly comes from a failure to recognise the true value of the gospel of God's grace. It presumes that God accepts us based on what we do and not by who we believe in and trust. The first breeds pride or insecurity depending on our self-effort, but the second produces godly humility in us because Jesus has set us free, given wholly as a gift. Legalism and grace produces two sorts of expectation and effect. Legalism demands that you get your life sorted out, in order to follow God. It wants to achieve grace despite when it had already been freely given without conditions. Grace however invites you to follow God, coming simply as you are, but assured that your life will be transformed by God’s power and might. This frees you from an irredeemable debt because God has given the best and all of Himself, when He redeemed you through sacrificing His only Son. The gospel of God's grace is much more than a topic in Christianity. It has the power to radically reverse the whole direction of your life so keep your focus always on Him.
11 For I would have you know, brothers, that the gospel that was preached by me is not man's gospel. 12 For I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ. Galatians 1:11-12The apostle Paul told the Galatians that the gospel should not be perceived as a human tradition but one that is to be received as God's revelation to all peoples. As such you cannot add to the gospel or even subtract from the gospel, but only to stay faithful and firm to the good news of God's salvation in Jesus Christ.
10 For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ. Galatians 1:10, English Standard VersionThe apostle Paul was criticised and attacked for proclaiming Christ and His gospel of freedom from the Law. Yet this did not deter Paul from obeying Christ and taking the message of His grace to everyone.
6 I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— 7 not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. 9 As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed. Galatians 1:6-9, English Standard VersionThe epistle of Paul to the Galatians was to address a conflict that was confusing the church, and an attempt to turn believers back to the gospel of Jesus Christ. False teachers in the church were corrupting the purity of the Gospel, and turning Christians back to the Law of Moses. Paul tells us this different gospel is no gospel at all. It is a perverted version mixing legalistic demands of what is acceptable and not acceptable before God with God's unconditional love and acceptance, given as a gift to us in Christ.
2 To the churches of Galatia: 3 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, 4 who gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, 5 to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen. Galatians 1:2-5, English Standard VersionThe apostle Paul captures the essence of the gospel, that is God's will for Jesus to save us from our sins by freeing us from an evil and oppressive belief system that keeps us in bondage to sin and Satan.
1 Paul, an apostle—not from men nor through man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead— 2 and all the brothers who are with me. Galatians 1:1-2, English Standard VersionThe calling of Paul's apostleship is strongly tied to his relationship with Jesus Christ. To be an apostle is to bear witness to the truth of the gospel. The gospel tells us that those who are in Christ stand perfect and complete, lacking nothing because of the rich grace of God. It is through the finished work of the cross that God is no longer counting our sins against us but brought us back through what Christ Jesus did.
The Father has loved us so much! This shows how much he loved us: We are called children of God. And we really are his children. But the people in the world don’t understand that we are God’s children, because they have not known him. 1 John 3:1, Easy-to-Read VersionOver the years I have encountered individuals who are waiting for God to call them to do something purposeful in their lives. The truth is that you don't always need a call for you have already been called. The Apostle John tells us that we are not only called to be sons and daughters of our Father God, but we are also called by Him into the world. There are a lot of negative attitudes and feelings towards Christians in the world today. Many of them have yet to have a true experience of God's love and that explains their hostile feelings and discrimination against Christians. The Apostle John tells us their antagonistic attitude for the most part, comes from their antagonism towards God. It doesn't matter how the world perceives God or us, for we cannot just stop caring for the world simply because they don't care about us. Why you might ask? This is because God has never given up on them and in his unceasing and great love, He loves them just as much as He loves us. As a son or daughter rooted in God's love, let us not be swayed by what others say or treat us but love them just as Christ has loved us. The mission is God's heart for the lost and we should make it our own personal mission to spread God's love to all. Until people know how much God loves them, they won't change their minds about Him and even less so, surrender their lives to Him. How are they to know if no one loves them with God's love? Take your place with what God has already called you to be in Christ and when you do so, you are creating possibilities for others to call upon Him that they too may become His sons and daughters.
10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us. 1 John 1:10John tells us there are those who deny that they have ever sinned and their lies are detrimental to their relationship with God. While God cannot accept sin, He had already given them a way out. When we choose not to believe and turn away from Jesus, we choose to miss out on the abundant life God meant for us in Christ. The Bible defines sin as "missing the mark".
9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9The Gnostics claimed that they were already saved because they presumptuously assumed their superior spiritual knowledge had given them mastery over sin. John however pointed out that no one could ever say they were without sin. God had already finished the work in saving us through sacrificing Jesus at the cross, and as believers we receive this when we confess our sins.
8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 1 John 1:8Beware of self-deception. Self deception is the worst form of deception. It is believing that we are something when we are not. Instead of repenting from sin and turning to God, the Gnostics believed their salvation came through gnosis (secret truths). By believing they possess superior spiritual knowledge, they have deceived themselves that they have attained salvation. In reality they are only lying to themselves. What is worse is that they have failed to see anything wrong with what they have believed in.
7 But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin. 1 John 1:7The strength of our fellowship with God and each other stands on the truth of the gospel.
6 If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. 1 John 1:6Fellowship with God gives you a firm foundation in your Christian life. John tells us that believers cannot be double-minded in regards to their relationship with God. They can't say they love God and yet they are unwilling to walk in His will. Surrendering to God's will doesn't bind us but it actually frees us to live a blessed abundant life, empowering each of us to fulfill our purpose in Christ. In our walk and fellowship with God, we will each grow in our ability to surrender to God in all aspects of our lives. God's will is actually the truth of His gospel. When we cease to love and be loved by God, we can easily slip into darkness. Darkness here is not necessarily a reference to a life of sin, but a life lacking the revelation of the gospel. Feelings of guilt, fear, and rejection arise when we become doubtful about our relationship with our Heavenly Father. This makes it easy for us to pervert the truth of the gospel. We distort the love of God by dismissing it as a license to sin. We misrepresent grace by using it to justify our sinful actions. We misrepresent holiness by making it into legalism. John calls the believers to come back into fellowship with God. God has never left you. Instead of living and believing the lies of darkness, let God speak to you through the light of His Word. It is in the beauty of having His fellowship, you will grow and blossom under His care.
5 And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it. John 1:5Some periods of our lives are so confusing that we find it very difficult to explain our feelings. Our need to make sense of it all can cause us to feel angry, conflicted and even suspicious of God. In these challenging times we doubt His goodness towards us.
5 This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. 1 John 1:5The Gnostics believe that man is a mixed being of light and darkness, and it is only through a rigorous process of gaining gnosis ("secret knowledge" or "higher truth") that we can purge the darkness out of us. In this sense we claim to be our own Saviour. This is not what the gospel says about us.
4 And these things we write to you that your joy may be full. 1 John 1:4The Gnostics were deliberately troubling believers with heretical ideas of Jesus causing many to question the validity of their salvation. John wrote his letter to restore the joy of salvation back to the believers. Joy reveals our confidence in the gospel of Jesus Christ. There is nothing that can give you a far deeper sense of joy than the gospel, for it is God's proclamation of glad tidings in Christ (cf. Luke 2:10). Joy is not a feeling that comes and goes with a changing mood. Joy is a fruit of the Spirit birthed out from right believing in what Christ had done for us. Joy is not determined by your current circumstances but is fixed on the sureness of the cross, and the surety of our salvation in the Lord. In this way it is possible to keep our fullness of joy in spite of challenging circumstances, for we have the promise of the One who says He will never leave or forsake us. We lose our joy when we stop trusting the Lord. Doubt and worry are joy killers. It is always possible to recover your joy. To recover your joy is to take the gospel seriously and personally. It is to return to who Jesus is to you and what He says about you. Don't compromise with any thoughts, ideas or habits that may erode your faith in Jesus. Face every temptation by the power of His grace. You don't have to fight alone, for His finished work is a testimony that He had fought and will fight your battles for you.
2 the life was manifested, and we have seen, and bear witness, and declare to you that eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested to us. 1 John 1:2John wrote this letter to refute a group of believers who practised Gnosticism, claiming to receive exclusive and far more superior revelations from God. These Gnostics found the gospel of God's grace too plain and mundane. They were a prideful group snubbing those whom they considered beneath their intellect and spiritual superiority. Instead of fellowship with other believers, they would hold secret initiation rituals for their chosen few.
8 Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who trusts in Him! Psalm 34:8When David first sang this psalm, he was caught in a hard place where he was fleeing away from Saul’s jealous rage, only to find refuge in enemy territory. It was easy for David to wonder whether God had forgotten all about him. Yet David reasoned that God was still good despite the bad circumstances. When he started to nourish his spirit by worshiping God, David found grace and strength to overcome all his adversaries. You waste grace by keeping your desire for God small.
32 ...your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Matthew 6:32-33We are constantly under stress because juggling and fulfilling our different roles at home, school or work place. We become guilty, miserable or perhaps even angry because our overloaded schedule leaves us with little time for our personal life and meaningful relationships. What we struggle with is not really due to an issue with time management but a struggle over priorities.
2 Give unto the Lord the glory due to His name; Worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness. Psalm 29:2True worship is giving God the glory He deserves. In Psalm 29 David invites us to worship God by revealing to us who God is, what He has done and will do in our lives. When you have experienced the greatness of God, you don't need any other reason for worship Him. You will search for every possible moment to worship Him. This is because the experience of worship opens you to the reality of being loved by God and the opportunity of loving God in return. In doing so worship actually changes the way you live and view life.
19 We love Him because He first loved us. 1 John 4:19Religion misrepresents the character of God. Religion says God will love you if you are first to change. Grace says God will change you because He loved you and gave Himself up for you. God will love you with everything He has so that you will realise how much you are worth to Him. Sometimes the hardest part of this truth is simply believing it. God’s perfect love for you is the victory of grace.
1 The fool has said in his heart, “There is no God". Psalm 14:1When someone chooses not to believe that God exists, it is never just because of an absence of scientific evidence or weak reasoning. The problem is not an intellectual one but spiritual. The Psalmist calls such a person a fool.
48 “In a word, what I’m saying is, Grow up. You’re kingdom subjects. Now live like it. Live out your God-created identity. Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you.” Matthew 5:48, The MessageHaving been born again you are given a new identity in Christ from which you will learn and have been empowered to live differently from before. This "learning to live differently" is your purpose in the Christian life. Your identity is not a product of your purpose but the the reason for your purpose. As your personal revelation of Christ finished work grows, it will also give you more clarity allowing you to pursue your purpose in Christ.
1 Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Romans 5:1Knowing our identity in Christ is the basis for our healing. There is a connection between sin and sickness but the transformative power of God's grace restores and heals us to wholeness. The gospel is clear that Jesus made provision for our healing in the atonement and the new covenant. However many believers are not enjoying the blessings and benefits of their life in Christ because they have not believed or grown in the revelation of what Christ had righteously paid for them on the cross.
28-30 Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” Matthew 11:28-30, The MessageWhen Jesus spoke these words to His disciples, they just completed one of the most hectic, demanding and exciting times of their lives. After travelling with Jesus to various cities and villages to preach the gospel and heal the sick, the disciples were looking forward to a break.
3 For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, 4 and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. 2 Timothy 4:3-4, English Standard Version
In this ever connected and information rich world, there seems to be increasing trend for pulpits and churches to constantly deliver something newer, better and more interesting. In doing so and wanting to satisfy the crowds of people coming to church, we fall into the danger of developing a spiritual appetite that feeds our self-indulgence instead of God's truth. What we only have is a stylistic version of Christianity that appears to have outward appearance of godliness, we might inwardly see a void in our lives without God’s transformational power.
11 My dear brothers and sisters, I have a serious concern I need to bring up with you, for I have been informed by those of Chloe’s house church that you have been destructively arguing among yourselves. 12 And I need to bring this up because each of you is claiming loyalty to different preachers. Some are saying, “I am a disciple of Paul,” or, “I follow Apollos,” or, “I am a disciple of Peter the Rock,” and some, “I belong only to Christ.” 13 But let me ask you, is Christ divided up into groups? Did I die on the cross for you? At your baptism did you pledge yourselves to follow Paul? 1 Corinthians 1:11-13, The Passion TranslationThe Apostle Paul was concerned for believers who were chasing after preachers and places of worship where they assume to have a greater anointing above others. He warns us this unhealthy habit actually divides the Church Christ had founded. Pastors are not celebrities nor are churches performing art centres.
17 Now it happened on a certain day, as He was teaching, that there were Pharisees and teachers of the law sitting by, who had come out of every town of Galilee, Judea, and Jerusalem. And the power of the Lord was present to heal them. Luke 5:17Healing is a necessity. There are some who do not believe in healing or in a God that heals today, and will not even attempt to ask God for healing. They will even go to the extent of stopping others from receiving their healing. In the bible, these religious legalists found fault with Jesus for healing the paralysed man. They were so distracted and upset by Jesus' mode of healing, and more so were not drawn to Him for their own healing. Luke tells us that the same power of the Lord was present to heal them but none of them would receive it. Healthy and healing belongs to us, paid righteously by Jesus on the cross. Health and healing for your bodies are freely given to us through Christ's redemptive work and suffering on the cross. However we need to realise that there are wrong beliefs that keep people from receiving their healing. Some feel they are undeserving of healing and dare not ask for it. Some let their theology get in the way of their healing because they believe sickness is God's way of teaching them a lesson. Some accept their sickness as their lot in life or fate, and never seek wholeness and healing for their diseases. The devil seeks to steal, kill and destroy and He would love to keep us sick and defeated. This is why we need to stand firm on what Christ has already accomplished for us on the cross. When healing doesn't take place, it can be demoralizing and hard to accept. But don't let discouragement and fear stop us from believing the one true God who cannot lie. While we weep and mourn for what has been lost, we lean on God's sustaining power to see us through each day until we receive our breakthrough. Don't judge the sick and afflicted. Be bold and pray for them. That is what James 5:13-15 commands us. Rest on the revelation of the gospel and believe God to manifest His power and goodness every time.
5 When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralyzed man, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” 6 Now some teachers of the law were sitting there, thinking to themselves, 7 “Why does this fellow talk like that? He’s blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?” Mark 2:5-7, New International VersionHow radical are we in proclaiming and living out the gospel? Jesus' profound revelation of God's grace was so radical that the Pharisees called him blasphemous. The spiritual danger of these religious legalists is in believing that God is not loving enough or merciful enough to forgive the sins of the most undeserving. As such they and many of their modern-day counterparts often treat human disasters or tragedies as divine punishments and not an opportunity for God to work powerfully.
59 As they hurled stone after stone at him, Stephen prayed, “Our Lord Jesus, accept my spirit into your presence.” 60 He crumpled to his knees and shouted in a loud voice, “Our Lord, don’t hold this sin against them.” And then he died. Acts 7:59-60, The Passion TranslationWe can learn a lot from Stephen's attitude towards those who have gone against him. Despite what they have said and acted, he prayed for God to forgive them for their cruelty and ill treatment. What we believe about the character of God influences the way we pray for others and what we choose to say.
At the right time I, the Lord, will make it happen quickly. Isaiah 60:22, God's Word TranslationEvery promise of God involves a process. What is required of you is for God to get you ready for what He has in store for you.
1 Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, 2 speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron, 3 forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from foods which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth. 1 Timothy 4:1-3In these last days, the Holy Spirit clearly says without any uncertainty that some believers will desert the truth of the gospel and devote themselves to spirits of deception and following demon-inspired revelations and beliefs. The Greek word for “deceiving” is planos which means “wandering, misleading, leading into error”. These so-called believers are caught in a web of legalistic rules that advocates celibacy and dietary restrictions that God doesn’t expect.
7 So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver. 2 Corinthians 9:7What's in your mind when the offering bag is passed around or when you heard of someone with a financial need? Do you find it a challenge to give or do you readily seize the opportunity to sow more?
14 But the grace of our Lord ·was fully given [overflowed; abounded] to me, and with that grace came the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. 1 Timothy 1:14, Expanded BibleOne of the many great things we can learn from Jesus is to reach out to those whom religion would never touch. They were His targeted audience. Our Lord demonstrated amazing and relentless grace to those who needed it the most. And we ought to ask Him for the ability to do the same.
8 I know your works. Behold, I have set before you an open door, which no one is able to shut. I know that you have but little power, and yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name. Revelation 3:8 English Standard VersionSearching for a perfect church is a major obstacle to the mission of God. Consider the church of Philadelphia. It was the only church that Jesus praised and had many good things to say to the believers. It was not the biggest church or the richest church and certainly not the most spiritually mature church (in comparison to the church of Ephesus).
18 And those who are peacemakers will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of righteousness. James 3:18Peace is a misunderstood concept. Often we assume peace to be quiet, gentle, passive, compliant and non-confrontational. But this widely accepted idea of peace is far from what the Bible teaches us.
7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. 8 He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. 1 John 4:7-8It doesn't really matter how much God loves you –– but if you had never felt or valued it –– you can never understand the implication of how much you meant to God. Believers who cannot fully perceive God's love will often struggle with self-acceptance and feelings of unworthiness. And when you don't like yourself, it's only a matter of time before you don't like others.
12 Now it is not an enemy who insults me—otherwise I could bear it; it is not a foe who rises up against me—otherwise I could hide from him. 13 But it is you, a man who is my peer, my companion and good friend! 14 We used to have close fellowship; we walked with the crowd into the house of God. Psalm 55:13-14, Holman Christian Standard BibleHave you ever been betrayed? It makes you feel so vulnerable and misunderstood, with feelings of hurt because you can’t understand how a friend could turn against you. This makes it hard to find closure because the other person is not looking for reconciliation or forgiveness but had planned to forsake or hurt you when you least expect it.
1 In the church at Antioch there were a number of prophets and teachers of the Word, including Barnabas, Simeon from Niger, Lucius the Libyan, Manean (the childhood companion of King Herod Antipas), and Saul. 2 While they were worshiping as priests before the Lord in prayer and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “I have called Barnabas and Saul to do an important work for me. Now, release them to go and fulfill it.” 3 So after they had fasted and prayed, they laid hands on them and sent them off. Acts 13:1-3When church leaders initiate a culture of open discernment and figuring out what the Holy Spirit is saying, they create a space for better conversations and new ideas to emerge. In doing so, they are drawing out the dreams and destiny in the people they lead. Barnabas and Paul knew the Holy Spirit was calling them to a wider ministry. However, they did not rush out without the prayers and support of everyone. When the time was right for both of them to step out in faith, the Holy Spirit revealed to the leadership that they should send them to the nations. Honoring God’s call in each other’s lives brings everyone to God’s purposeful future. Many churches often keep their best to themselves. They find it hard to recognize and release those whom God has gifted and set apart to serve a wider community. This lack of empowerment frustrates many who are willing to share their lives with others for the gospel sake. Great things happen when a church obeys and submits to the Holy Spirit’s promptings to identify and encourage people to do what God wants for them. Authority should never be confused with control. Fearful leaders exercise control because they believe they are doing what is best for their local church by hoarding God’s talented sons and daughters. Faithful leaders enable others to make significant contributions for God’s kingdom because they know what is most needed in the world. Jesus tells us that we are the light of the world and the salt of the earth. This means we are never meant to only exist just within the four walls of the local church. Instead we are called to make a difference in someone else’s life. This call is not just for the individual but for the wider community as well.
5 Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations. Jeremiah 1:5, English Standard VersionLearn from the Prophet Jeremiah about the significance of your life and finding your true purpose that you were meant to fulfil. When God called him to be His prophet to the nations, God made it clear, right from the start, that He had forged Jeremiah's purpose long before he was formed in his mother's womb. Even though Jeremiah felt that he was unqualified for the job as he was too young and too inexperienced to speak for God, it didn't deter God from making him one of the greatest prophets of the Old Testament times.
29 Now, Lord, look on their threats, and grant to Your servants that with all boldness they may speak Your word, 30 by stretching out Your hand to heal, and that signs and wonders may be done through the name of Your holy Servant Jesus. Acts 4:29-30Some believers think the supernatural power to work signs and wonders died with the apostles. However, there is no biblical basis to support this view. We can read how the Apostle James commanded church leaders to pray for the sick and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord (James 5:14). He did it to reveal to the believers the authority and power they have in Christ to bring His healing to others.
10 When Jesus had raised Himself up and saw no one but the woman, He said to her, “Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you? 11 She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said to her, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.” John 8:10-11God and we often treat sinners differently.
8 Then Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord, I give half of my goods to the poor; and if I have taken anything from anyone by false accusation, I restore fourfold.” Luke 19:8Tax collecting was not a reputable occupation in Jesus' time. The Jewish people held a high disdain and contempt for tax collectors because they were levying monies on behalf of the Roman Empire. Since they were seen as the faces of fiscal oppression and exploitation of the poor and a running dog of a foreign political power, no self-respecting Jew would ever associate themselves with these individuals, but not Jesus.
35 And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, [Jesus] departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed. Mark 1:35We live in an incredibly busy world. When work seems to consume much of our time and thinking, it is difficult to find a moment to be still with God. Our problem is not about not having the time for God. It is about not being willing to give our time to God.
6 I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase. 7 So then neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase. 1 Corinthians 3:6-7The Corinthians were obsessed with whose teaching they were most impressed and following that it caused divisions and arguments amongst them. This necessitates the Apostle Paul to teach them and us that while God may use different individuals to "plant and water" our faith, but it is He alone who gives us the increase.
10 … my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Ephesians 6:10
3 [God] heals the broken-hearted and binds up their wounds. Psalm 147:3A healed heart matters to God. Holding onto your emotional baggage can weigh you down and it keeps you from enjoying the rest of God. If you carry unforgiveness and mistrust inside you, then you will see life through a judgemental and critical spirit. Feelings of fear and worry can lead to a complaining and negative mindset and feelings of anger and resentment may produce an unhappy and sometimes raging version of you.
7 Be quick to abstain from senseless traditions and legends, but instead be engaged in the training of truth that brings righteousness. 1 Timothy 4:7, The Passion Translation (TPT)The apostle Paul warns Timothy to stay away from controversial doctrines that do not produce faith but fear in a believer’s life. We cannot blindly believe in every christian teaching we hear in a church sermon, watching a video or reading an article online, as the gospel truth. Remain diligent and mindful for some of these christian teachings can shipwreck your faith and leave you vulnerable and unsure.
15 This saying is trustworthy and deserves full acceptance: “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners”—and I am the worst of them! 16 But here is why I was treated with mercy: so that in me as the worst, Christ Jesus could demonstrate his utmost patience, as an example for those who are going to believe in him for eternal life. 1 Timothy 1:14-16, New English TranslationThe gospel is never just for the worthy but for everyone. It invites even the wrong people and gives everyone a fresh start in their relationship with God. God’s grace humbles us.
46 Daily they met together in the temple courts and in one another’s homes to celebrate communion. They shared meals together with joyful hearts and tender humility. 47 They were continually filled with praises to God, enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord kept adding to their number daily those who were coming to life. Acts 2:46-47 The Passion TranslationTrue community flows from our personal encounter with God’s love and grace in Christ, not from our relationships with other people. It is through enjoying our friendship with God that we grow the capacity to extend His love through us to each other.
7 When you pray, there is no need to repeat empty phrases, praying like those who don’t know God, for they expect God to hear them because of their many words. 8 There is no need to imitate them, since your Father already knows what you need before you ask him. 9 Pray like this: ‘Our Father, dwelling in the heavenly realms, may the glory of your name be the center on which our lives turn. Matthew 6:7-9, The Passion TranslationDo we pray to impress God or sway Him to favoring us because we use certain choice words? Jesus revealed that those who did not believe or know God will act, behave and communicate in long-winded or superfluous prayers. Instead He taught us to pray and relate to God as a Father who cares and loves us.
1 Then Job replied to the Lord: 2 “I know that you can do all things; no purpose of yours can be thwarted. 3 You asked, ‘Who is this that obscures my plans without knowledge?’ Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know 4 “You said, ‘Listen now, and I will speak; I will question you, and you shall answer me.’ 5 My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you. Job 45:1-5, New International VersionWhen our prayers go unanswered and a breakthrough is nowhere in sight, we sometimes grow weary and assume that God doesn't care and is unaffected by our needs. This simply isn’t true. Our fears, leading from an orphan spirit mentality, lead us towards feeling rejected, unloved, anxious, angry, disappointed and even tempted to the point of unbelief. Moments of silence from God often reveals the noises in our hearts. If we truly believe and trust God and his promises to us, we must learn to rest and be still. Perhaps this is the lesson of unanswered prayers. Can we still have faith that God has the power to work all things together for our good even when life is tough? God never answered Job’s question as to why he suffered seemingly without reason. But Job became a much better worshipper because he “sees and hears” God from a whole new perspective through his painful circumstances. If there is something we need to learn through unanswered prayers, it is to relate to Him as a son or a daughter, and not an orphan. When we pray as orphans, our prayers are transactional. We do our part and God does His. However, when we pray as sons and daughters, our prayers are transformational. We invite God into our space and life situation and let God do what He needs to do even when He chooses not to tell us why, how and when. God takes the risk of not answering our prayers how and when we want. It is never to disappoint or hurt us but on the contrary, when prayers go unanswered and it appears that God is silent, it trains us to rest in His perfect love amid life’s conflicts and contradictions. Never cease to pray to your Heavenly Father and be captivated by His embracing love, and God will replace the fears in your heart with His faith.
20 It is true that you planned to do something bad to me. But really, God was planning good things. God’s plan was to use me to save the lives of many people. And that is what happened. Genesis 50:20, Easy-to-Read VersionGod can miraculously turn things around for your good. God has the power to take what was intended for evil and turn it for our good. Do not lose heart even where there is injustice and unfairness. Like in the case of Joseph, he saw God's goodness beyond his brother's murderous intentions and deceit. Instead of becoming bitter and vengeful, he showed mercy to those who acted mercilessly towards him.
24 This day belongs to the Lord! Let’s celebrate and be glad today. Psalm 118:24, Contemporary English VersionDavid calls us to enjoy God in every moment of our lives but how do we actually do that? Sometimes we might think that if today turns out well for me, it is because God is working in my life. However whether we have good or bad days, they are all still sacred and holy because God is always with us. This revelation of God opens up new opportunities for us to enjoy and worship Him even when those moments are most difficult and heartbreaking. He is with us and never leaves us.
19 Jesus called out to them and said, “Come and follow me, and I will transform you into men who catch people for God.” Matthew 4:19, The Passion TranslationJesus’ call to follow Him is clear. The question is how aware are you of that call today?
37 Barnabas wished to take Mark (also known as John) along with them, 38 but Paul disagreed. He didn’t think it was proper to take the one who had deserted them in south-central Turkey, leaving them to do their missionary work without him. Acts 15:37-38, The Passion TranslationHave you ever left your church or ministry because things got too hard and you just want to give up? This happened to John Mark. He quit in the middle of a missionary journey, leaving Barnabas and Paul when they needed him the most.
14 [Jesus] gave himself for us to set us free from every wrong and to cleanse us so that we could be his special people who are enthusiastic about doing good deeds. Titus 2:14, Modern English VersionGrace does not produce laziness. Jesus gave gifts to the body of Christ to encourage and equip each other to pursue a fruitful and fulfilling life for God. When we choose not to serve God's people, we are inhibiting our community from growing and flourishing from what the Holy Spirit desires of us. We need to continually depend and draw from God's grace to strengthen and expand our ability to bless others with our gifts and talents. Grace engages us to serve others not expecting only to be served. Who else is a finer example than our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ? Our identity in Christ empowers us to live life with a purpose. Purpose is about identifying potential in people, and releasing them into greater expression of who they are in Christ. Grace helps us to be eager to do all the good we can. In doing so, we are truly sons and daughters of God. When we incorrectly use grace as an excuse not to do what God wants us to do, then we have not truly understood what grace is. Living a life in grace means having a deep belonging to Jesus, and to do as He wills. Grace leads us to rest but not to live complacently from the calling He has placed in our lives. Complacency comes from a place of selfishness and ignorance from what God had set us apart for, which is to be a blessing to others. This approach to the Christian life is not consistent with the gospel, hindering our spiritual growth and hurting our relationships with others. Ask Jesus to give you new eyes, re-frame the way you understand grace, rest and ministry. It will allow you to experience fruitfulness and fulfilment in a fresh new way.
9 Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Galatians 6:9, New International VersionFrustration is the price we pay when avoiding God's calling in our lives. Jonah was a frustrated prophet because he refused to preach God's grace and mercy to a people whom he thought deserved to be judged and punished. He assumed that by running away he could avoid what God wanted him to do. You can refuse to hear God but it does not mean that God will stop pursuing you.
12 Yet to all who received Him, He gave the power to become sons of God, to those who believed in His name. John 1:12, Modern English VersionThe gift of sonship, becoming sons and daughters of God, empowers us to be who we truly are in Christ. It is also our inheritance in Him. When we are not conscious about who we are in Christ, we forget or are hesitant to exert our authority in Christ releasing the power given to us. This explains why many believers wrestle with feelings of inadequacy and jealousy. They feel negative about themselves and are envious when other believers receive their breakthrough, and they have not.
15 This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the worst. 16 But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, first, Jesus Christ might show all patience, as an example to those who were to believe in Him for eternal life. 1 Timothy 1:15-16, Modern English VersionGod's grace has the supernatural ability to transform our understanding of who we are and where our true potential lies. When Jesus stepped into Paul’s world, he experienced such a radical change of mind that he became a whole new person. He was lost before knowing Christ but after an encounter with Jesus, he discovered God's perfect will and purpose for his life.
33 “So above all, constantly chase after the realm of God’s kingdom and the righteousness that proceeds from him. Then all these less important things will be given to you abundantly. Matthew 6:33, The Passion TranslationJesus is calling us to be kingdom-minded people. To be kingdom-minded means to live your life pursuing a kingdom-reality in all you do and also in the way you live.
1 There’s a season for everything. Ecclesiastes 3:1Welcome to 2020. Start by discerning a new word for a new season.
21 It is [God] who changes the times and the seasons; He removes kings and establishes kings. He gives wisdom to the wise and [greater] knowledge to those who have understanding! Daniel 2:21, Amplified BibleStretch beyond your comfort zone and move to God's appointed times and seasons. God's timing is always perfect.
4 Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 18:4 English Standard VersionJesus tells us the standard for greatness in the Kingdom is different from the world.
19 God’s promise to Joseph purged his character until it was time for his dreams to come true. Psalm 105:19-21, The Passion TranslationDare to dream again. Dreams are seeds from which your tomorrow will grow. Learn to guard and protect the dream God has given you. if there is a call in your life, be prepared for "dream killers" that seek to delay or even stop you from stepping out into what God has called you to be and do.
16 When Herod realized that he had been tricked by the wise men, he was infuriated. So he sent soldiers with orders to slaughter every baby boy two years old and younger in Bethlehem and throughout the surrounding countryside, based on the time frame he was given from interrogating the wise men. Matthew 2:16, The Passion TranslationHerod knew the prophecy about the coming king and the reason why the wise men came to him. But unlike the wise men who sought to worship Jesus, Herod sought to kill Jesus. This led to an appalling massacre of young children.
10 And when the wise men saw the star, they were so ecstatic that they shouted and celebrated with unrestrained joy. 11 When they came into the house and saw the young child with Mary, his mother, they were overcome. Falling to the ground at his feet they worshiped him. Then they opened their treasure boxes full of gifts and presented him with gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Matthew 2:10-11, The Passion TranslationThe wise men gave Jesus three gifts — gold, frankincense and myrrh. Their offerings represent the expression of true worship. Worship creates for us the capacity and opportunity to mirror back to God. As God gives of Himself to us, we can give of ourselves to God.
1 Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, 2 saying, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him.” Matthew 2:1-2
Little is known about the wise men.
14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us... John 1:14The birth of Jesus Christ is one of the greatest stories ever told.
21 And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins. Matthew 1:21The gospel tells us that we are more sinful and more guilty than we want to ever believe, but we are more loved and more forgiven than we can ever believe. If you refuse to believe both premises, you are rejecting God's grace entirely.
14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. John 1:14The Apostle John tells us how he beheld Christ’s glory. The Greek word for “beheld” is theaomai which means “to look upon attentively, contemplate, to gaze intently”. The word conveys the idea of finding a perfect view without any obstruction to take in the whole experience. It is like looking intently at a painting and discovering something fresh and exciting that was never seen before. Imagine how this new discovery could revolutionise the way you see that particular work of art.
38 Then Mary said, “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word. Luke 1:38There is a difference between sacrifice and surrender. When you choose to sacrifice, you are still in charge. When you choose to surrender, you are saying, "God is in charge". To sacrifice is to give "a bit of yourself" but to surrender is to entirely lose yourself to God.
18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: After His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Spirit. 19 Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not wanting to make her a public example, was minded to put her away secretly. Matthew 1:18-19What if your life didn’t turn out to be anything like the life you have always wanted or imagined? Think about Joseph's predicament when he heard the news of Mary's pregnancy, and the explanation she gave about how she got pregnant. Joseph knew Mary's child wasn't his because they were not yet married and they had no physical relationship with each other.
23 “Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us.” Matthew 1:23Are you facing a situation that makes you think God has forgotten you? The story of Jesus’ first coming assures us that God will never ever leave us nor forsake us. In the midst of a difficult time when the people of Israel were under the bondage of Rome, God sent an angel to prepare a virgin to give birth to the Saviour of the world. In doing so, God was reminding His people and us that He is always with us, no matter what happens.
30 Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. Luke 1:30Sometimes a person's name can attract the wrong kind of attention from people, or cloud other’s opinion of them. For instance, the name of Mary means "bitter rebellion". We can't be too sure, but it may seem likely that Mary had a difficult time growing up, and perhaps her name wasn't much help to her. Yet, in spite of her life's circumstances, God chose to favour Mary because He saw beyond where she had been, and the possibilities of who she could become.
35 And the angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God. 36 Now indeed, Elizabeth your relative has also conceived a son in her old age; and this is now the sixth month for her who was called barren. 37 For with God nothing will be impossible.” 38 Then Mary said, “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.” Luke 1:35-38After being comforted by the Angel Gabriel, Mary was no longer troubled, and she even said "yes" straight away. Mary said yes, not because Gabriel had explained every detail to her about what to expect when she would be expecting or promised her everything was going to be alright. Mary said yes because she knew, no matter where life takes her, she will never fall out of favour with God.
34 Then Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I do not know a man?” Luke 1:34God chose Mary, not because she was the best, most attractive or most educated, but because God believes in Mary as someone who was willing to serve Him in spite of her fears and feelings of inadequacy. Being a virgin makes it impossible for Mary to give birth to Jesus, but when Mary was willing to humble herself, God made the impossible possible.
30 Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favour with God. Luke 1:30What a great truth lies in the reassuring words of the angel to Mary, “do not be afraid…for you have found favour with God.” It shows that God’s favour has no exception whatever circumstance or situation you are facing. God’s favour is based on His character, never based on your credentials.
26 Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, 27 to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And having come in, the angel said to her, “Rejoice, highly favoured one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!” Luke 1:26-28The extraordinary announcement of Gabriel to Mary underscores an essential gospel truth, that is, God's favour for us is not based on our behaviour but it is built on God's love and acceptance of us. This was why Gabriel told Mary to rejoice.
23 “Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us.” Matthew 1:23The Prophet Isaiah foretold the coming of Jesus some 800 years before Jesus was born. This prophecy was a message of joy and hope because the people of his time were looking for some fresh, encouraging and comforting words from the Lord. So when the Angel Gabriel announced Jesus as our Immanuel, it was truly good news because he was revealing an amazing truth, that is, God is not just coming to visit us but God in Christ is actually coming to stay with us.
76 And you, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High; for you will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for him, 77 to give his people the knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins, 78 because of the tender mercy of our God, by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven 79 to shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the path of peace. Luke 1:76-79, New International VersionIf you do not understand your identity as a son or a daughter of God, you may struggle with feeling perfectly secure in God's love. Your insecurity will affect the way you do ministry and relate with people. You may have a fear of trusting people and may try to control them instead. In your attempt to fix people for their own good — you may end up breaking them and causing unnecessary hurt.
5 Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord.6 And he will turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the earth with a curse. Malachi 4:6The last verse of the Old Testament spoke of our estrangement from God and how God will raise a prophet in the likeness of Elijah who will initiate a ministry of reconciliation to restore everyone to a right relationship with God. This was fulfilled through John as a forerunner who will prepare a generation for the Lord.
8 Though we experience every kind of pressure, we’re not crushed. At times we don’t know what to do, but quitting is not an option. 9 We are persecuted by others, but God has not forsaken us. We may be knocked down, but not out. 2 Corinthians 4:8-9. The Passion TranslationEvery one of us has gone through one of those times when everything seems so overwhelming that we feel like giving up. The Apostle Paul told the Corinthians how he was affected by rejection, betrayal and broken trust with people who he felt would never hurt him. Still his faith in God never wavered.
10 Surrender your anxiety! Be silent and stop your striving and you will see that I am God. Psalm 46:10, The Passion TranslationHow often do you remind yourself that God is with you? It is easy to let the day run by with very little thought of God in it. Between being overworked and hard-pressed for time, we often overlook this gift of rest that flows from the unforced rhythms of grace offered to us by Christ.
1 And the sons of the prophets said to Elisha, “See now, the place where we dwell with you is too small for us. 2 Please, let us go to the Jordan, and let every man take a beam from there, and let us make there a place where we may dwell.” 2 Kings 6:1-2It is good to understand when there is a need for change and to embrace a good change. Sometimes we get so used to the way we do things in our personal lives and in church that we may not realise we are limiting ourselves from experiencing a more fulfilling life.
10 Outdo one another in showing honour. Romans 12:10There are many people in our church who spend countless hours preparing, practicing and praying for our weekly worship services and ministries. They do it because they are compelled by the love of Christ. In serving wholeheartedly, they help create an ambience where the rest of us can worship God in His awesome presence. If we truly appreciate their efforts, then we need to find opportunities to honour them and support them the best way we can.
10 Be devoted to tenderly loving your fellow believers as members of one family. Romans 12:10, The Passion TranslationThe Apostle Paul calls us to devote ourselves in loving each other because we belong to each other as a family of God. The ability to love each other tenderly is not a set goal to achieve but a present reality we can experience in Jesus Christ. When we are able to see more of Christ in each other and in everyone, we will discover the grace of community where we can enjoy trusting fellowship with one another. Trust grows as love grows.
6 Blessed [joyful, nourished by God’s goodness] are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness [those who actively seek right standing with God], for they will be [completely] satisfied. Matthew 5:6, Amplified BibleWhat does it mean to hunger and thirst for righteousness? Jesus tells us that we are truly blessed if we have an appetite to pursue our God-given righteousness. When we have the willingness to think and act in a way that pleases God, we will experience the power of right living flowing over into other areas of our lives.
18 For through Christ we both have access to the Father by one Spirit. Ephesians 2:18, New International VersionIt is through salvation that you have free access to the Trinity. A right understanding of the Godhead is the key to a healthy Christian life, especially in terms of how each person of the Trinity relates to your growth and maturity. Knowing the Father's love through the life of Christ produced in you by the Holy Spirit gives you confidence in your identity and purpose. In this sense, the Trinity is far more than a doctrine to be understood—it is the revelation of a relationship for you to enjoy intimacy with God.
1 I will bless the Lord at all times: his praise shall continually be in my mouth. Psalm 34:1Regardless of how you feel, choose to bless the Lord at all times.
9-10 So let’s not allow ourselves to get fatigued doing good. At the right time we will harvest a good crop if we don’t give up, or quit. Right now, therefore, every time we get the chance, let us work for the benefit of all, starting with the people closest to us in the community of faith. Galatians 6:9-10, The MessageSome of us have become tired of serving and helping people.
21 Fasten your hearts to the love of God and receive the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, who gives us eternal life. Jude 1:21, The Passion TranslationLearn to recognise God's goodness in your life in the midst of your pain and suffering.
23 Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people. 24 News about him spread all over Syria, and people brought to him all who were ill with various diseases, those suffering severe pain, the demon-possessed, those having seizures, and the paralyzed; and he healed them. Matthew 4:23-24, New International VersionWe are empowered to do the work of Christ, that is, to seek and save the lost.
1 [Jesus] called the twelve together and gave them power and authority over all demons and to cure diseases, 2 and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal. Luke 9:1-2 English Standard VersionPreaching the gospel of the Kingdom is not limited to just the pulpit. A community that reveals Christ is greater than one preacher. Being made kings, priests and prophets by the power of the Holy Spirit, we are given the privilege to proclaim the gospel over every situation and bring it into alignment "on earth as it is in heaven" (Matthew 6:10). We can learn from the example of the Apostle Peter. He proclaimed the truth of who Jesus is and what He has done for the crippled man to receive his healing.
21 It would be wrong for the eye to say to the hand, “I don’t need you,” and equally wrong if the head said to the foot, “I don’t need you.”
1 Corinthians 12:20-22, The Passion TranslationWhether we feel we belong to the family of God comes down to our attitude, energy and focus. The Apostle Paul tells us that our feelings of entitlement often cause us to put false expectations on others. This can easily lead to resentment and tension. We may then use the excuse of not getting along with certain people to leave the church. The sad part is that it is naive to think we won't confront similar issues in the next church we attend.
9-10 When the host tasted the water that had become wine (he didn’t know what had just happened but the servants, of course, knew), he called out to the bridegroom, “Everybody I know begins with their finest wines and after the guests have had their fill brings in the cheap stuff. But you’ve saved the best till now!” John 2:9-11, The Message
14-21 That’s when Peter stood up and, backed by the other eleven, spoke out with bold urgency: “Fellow Jews, all of you who are visiting Jerusalem, listen carefully and get this story straight. These people aren’t drunk as some of you suspect. They haven’t had time to get drunk—it’s only nine o’clock in the morning. Acts 2:18-28, The Message
The first miracle Jesus performed was turning water into wine. The wine was so exquisite that the host was wondering why it was kept back till last. The first miracle on the Day of Pentecost was that the disciples were so filled with the life of the Spirit that they were accused of being drunk with new wine.
We can see a parallel between these two miracles.
22 And who would pour fresh, new wine into an old wineskin? Eventually the wine will ferment and make the wineskin burst, losing everything—the wine will be spilled and the wineskin ruined. Instead, new wine is always poured into new wineskins.” Mark 2:22-24 The Passion TranslationIn the parable of the new wine skin, Jesus requires new attitudes, new habits and new values from everyone who wants to belong to His kingdom. God is always working something to our good but if we are still attached to past spiritual experiences, we may become resistant to what God is trying to do through us. That resistance is like the old wineskin that cannot hold the new wine.
“I will be a Father to you, and you shall be My sons and daughters, Says the LORD Almighty.” 2 Corinthians 6:18God is more interested in who we are than what we do. A lot of times we may place public ministry before personal prayers. We need to understand that cultivating a healthy relationship with God is crucial for our spiritual growth and well-being. Worship comes first before ministry. Unless we enjoy loving God, we won't enjoy serving God.
34 While they were nailing Jesus to the cross, he prayed over and over, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they’re doing.”
Luke 23:34, The Passion Translation
Jesus is never soft on sin but He is soft on people who are caught in sin.It is for this reason that Jesus died on the cross for the sins of everyone. When we are under sin, we cannot identify with God's love towards us and as such, we lose sight of who we are and to whom we belong. Our hearts become sin-sick and under its control and influence, we rebel against God and resist His kindness in many ways. Though sin changes our hearts towards God, sin doesn't change God's heart towards us. We may sin because we do not have the power or means to resist sin. It can come across as if we are so sin-driven that we really don't know what we are doing to ourselves, both spiritually and physically. Jesus understands what sin does to us. By taking our sin unto Himself — Jesus could heal us from what sin has done and is doing to us. This gives our Lord the right to intercede to the Father for our bondage to sin . Grace overpowers sin. Sin was once our master but now having this new life in Christ, we no longer obey sin. So if we continue to sin after being saved, we are not freely receiving what already belongs to us. That is, we can overcome sin through the resurrection life of Christ working in us. If you are struggling with some recurring sins, the first thing is to learn to rest in the Lord while acknowledging His grace is more than enough for you to be strong in the midst of temptations. Then you will experience God's power at work in your weakness again and again.
10 One word of correction breaks open a teachable heart, but a fool can be corrected a hundred times and still not know what hit him. Proverbs 17:10, The Passion TranslationNobody really likes being corrected. It is never easy to hear someone telling us that we are wrong or we need to change. Such words can bruise our ego and leave us feeling defensive or fearing failure. However, if we truly want to grow and flourish through every season of life, we need to have a teachable heart.
9 Love overlooks the mistakes of others, but dwelling on the failures of others devastates friendships. Proverbs 17:9, The Passion TranslationForgiveness is the greatest test of any friendship. All of us have those disappointing moments when friends let us down or completely forsake us. Some may choose to end the friendship without telling you nor give you an explanation. That can leave you confused and hurt.
19 It is easier to conquer a strong city than to win back a friend whom you’ve offended. Their walls go up, making it nearly impossible to win them back. Proverbs 18:19-21. The Passion TranslationSome believers are easily offended. They allow their feelings to get hurt simply due to their perception that others didn’t treat them right. Most offences in church result from misunderstandings. Many offences could be quickly resolved if the offended party would give the perceived offender the chance to apologise and pray together.
5 Trust in the Lord completely, and do not rely on your own opinions. With all your heart rely on Him to guide you, and He will lead you in every decision you make. 6 Become intimate with Him in whatever you do, and He will lead you wherever you go. Proverbs 3:5-6, The Passion TranslationSome people make the discovery of God's will harder than it has to be, as if His purpose for our lives is some mysterious, hard to grasp and strangely abstract thing. It is this wrong notion that keeps them from stepping out in faith and experiencing everything God has in store for them. They would excuse themselves for not doing God's will on the basis that they are still waiting for some sign or confirmation. You cannot know God's will without knowing God's heart.
28 They replied, “So what should we do if we want to do God’s work?” 29 Jesus answered, “The work you can do for God starts with believing in the One he has sent.” They replied, “Show us a miracle so we can see it, and then we’ll believe in you. John 6:28-30, The Passion TranslationJesus tells us God's will is for everyone to believe in Him. To believe in Jesus is more than just acknowledging He exists. It is about having a relationship with Him and enjoying all He has blessed you with through His finished work on the cross. It is through this trusting relationship that you are blessed with the freedom to obey — knowing our Lord gives you the grace and power to do what He calls you to do.
2 Stop imitating the ideals and opinions of the culture around you, but be inwardly transformed by the Holy Spirit through a total reformation of how you think. This will empower you to discern God’s will as you live a beautiful life, satisfying and perfect in his eyes. Romans 12:2, The Passion TranslationYou are in this world but not of this world. It is essential to grow a mindset that reflects the reality of heaven. By discerning who you are, what you have and what you can do in Christ, — you are aligning yourself with God's will for your life.
5 When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming toward him, he said to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?” 6 He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do 7 Philip answered him, “It would take more than half a year’s wages to buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!” John 6:5-6, New International VersionRest is lost when your passion for ministry is replaced by pressure. When we find ourselves in a place where we no longer have the drive or energy to do those things for God's glory — it is good to step back or even step down before we end up hating what we used to love.
29 For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. 30 For this reason many are weak and sick among you, and many sleep. 1 Corinthians 11:29-30The Apostle Paul admonishes the Corinthians to properly discern the Lord's body lest they take communion in an unworthy manner. Many became sick and were dying as a result. The Greek word for "unworthy" is anaxios which means judging something irreverently or disrespectfully. However, some believers twisted what Paul wrote to mean a person should refrain from communion if they are not yet baptised or are battling with sin.
26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes. 27 Therefore whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and [a]blood of the Lord. 28 But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat the bread and drink of the cup. 1 Corinthians 11:26-28The Apostle Paul warns us not to take communion in an unworthy manner. Many assume Paul is referring to the need of confessing our sins so as to make ourselves "worthy" for communion. A close reading of the text, however, suggests that we are not to devalue what Christ did for us on the cross. That is, the cup represents the shedding of His blood for our sins and the bread represents His bruised and broken body for our healing.
16 The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ? 1 Corinthians 10:16We are to treat the partaking of the communion as more than a ritual. The Apostle Paul told the Corinthians to discern the cup as "the communion of the blood of Christ" and the bread as "the communion of the body of Christ". The Greek word for "communion" is koinõnia which means "having fellowship, joint participation and sharing in common".
19 So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise. 20 For the Father loves the Son and shows him all that he himself is doing. And greater works than these will he show him, so that you may marvel. John 5:19-20, English Standard VersionThere are three basic ways you can serve God. You can serve as a slave, as a servant or as a son.
4 For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, 5 so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. Romans 12:4-5, New International VersionJesus grows His church through community. Community has a way of growing and maturing us. We can unlock and experience the astonishing power of community when we learn to connect and unite with fellow sons and daughters of God in mutual acceptance and love.
3 But Jesus is worthy to receive a much greater glory than Moses, for the one who builds a house deserves to be honoured more than the house he builds. 4 Every house is built by someone, but God is the Designer and Builder of all things. 5 Indeed, Moses served God faithfully in all he gave him to do. His work prophetically illustrates things that would later be spoken and fulfilled. 6 But Christ is more than a Servant, he was faithful as the Son in charge of God’s house. Hebrews 3:3-6, The Passion TranslationYou do not serve as a servant but as a son or a daughter of our most loving Father. The Apostle Paul used the example of Moses and Jesus to illustrate that a servant and a son serve with a different mindset and attitude. Moses saw himself doing a task for His God. Jesus, in contrast, proved Himself faithful to His Father. When you are able to make the distinction, you will manifest a spirit of excellence in your life and ministry.
14 In fact, the human body is not one single part but rather many parts mingled into one. 15 So if the foot were to say, “Since I’m not a hand, I’m not a part of the body,” it’s forgetting that it is still a vital part of the body. 16 And if the ear were to say, “Since I’m not an eye, I’m not really a part of the body,” it’s forgetting that it is still an important part of the body. 17 Think of it this way. If the whole body were just an eyeball, how could it hear sounds? And if the whole body were just an ear, how could it smell different fragrances? 18 But God has carefully designed each member and placed it in the body to function as he desires. 1 Corinthians 12:14-18, The Passion TranslationThe Corinthians were a problematic bunch of believers because they focused on their differences and in doing so placed unity amongst them at stake. Some believers felt they didn't belong because of the differences between them. The Apostle Paul, however, tells them that the reason they didn't feel they belong is because they are not seeing themselves as God sees them.
14 For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. 16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Ephesians 3:14-21, New International VersionThe Apostle Paul's prayer is that we can experience the breadth and depth of God's love through loving relationships in the family of God. The more we grow in our relationship with God, the more we are to reflect the nature and character of His love to those around us. Doing life together builds community.
16 For out of His fullness [the superabundance of His grace and truth] we have all received grace upon grace [spiritual blessing upon spiritual blessing, favor upon favor, and gift heaped upon gift]. John 1:16 Amplified BibleHow we see Jesus will determine how we pray and receive from Him. The Apostle John testified that Jesus is the fullness of grace and truth. That means when we pray according to who He is, we shouldn't hold back or hesitate from asking boldly. Jesus is more than enough to meet our every need. This is because there is no limit to what He can do and will do for us.
26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes. 1 Corinthians 11:26Instead of just taking Holy Communion on Sunday, the Apostle Paul encourages us to receive from the Lord as often as we desire. When we eat the bread and drink the cup, we are proclaiming the blessings and benefits we receive from Christ’s crucified body and blood.
26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes. 1 Corinthians 11:26Instead of just taking Holy Communion on Sunday, the Apostle Paul encourages us to receive from the Lord as often as we desire. When we eat the bread and drink the cup, we are proclaiming the blessings and benefits we receive from Christ’s crucified body and blood.
23 For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you: that the Lord Jesus on the same night in which He was betrayed took bread; 24 and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” 25 In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.” 26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes.
1 Corinthians 11:23-26
When we participate in Holy Communion, we are not going through an empty church ritual or meaningless tradition. In partaking the bread and the cup, we are to remember and value what we are receiving from the Lord.
1 "Sing, barren woman, you who never bore a child; burst into song, shout for joy, you who were never in labour; because more are the children of the desolate woman than of her who has a husband,” says the Lord. 2 “Enlarge the place of your tent, stretch your tent curtains wide, do not hold back lengthen your cords, strengthen your stakes". Isaiah 54:1-2, New International VersionSometimes the greatest moments in your life happens after you give up. The greatest moments happen not because you have the faith for it to happen or you have the means to make it happen. It happens because God ordained that it happen — in spite of you not having the ability or capacity to make it happen.
17 [God] sent a man before them—Joseph—who was sold as a slave. 18 They hurt his feet with fetters, He was laid in irons. 19 Until the time that his word came to pass, The word of the Lord tested him. Psalm 105:17-19Life is not always fair and you may have all you want in life. The person you love may not love you back. The promotion you feel you deserve goes to someone else. The perfect day you planned didn't go to plan. You may not be able to change your circumstances but you can change what is happening in you. What seems unfair now may actually set you up for later success.
17 The work of righteousness will be peace and the ministry of righteousness, rest and confidence forever. Isaiah 32:17-19, Literal TranslationThere is a difference between inheritance and possession. Someone could bequeath you wealth but you will not gain the benefit of that wealth unless you possess what rightly belongs to you. In the same way, God's righteousness is yours in Christ for you to enjoy the richness of His grace. Yet it is still possible to come under personal condemnation and self-loathing when you do not take hold of the imputed righteousness Christ offers to you.
16 This is what the LORD says: "Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls. Jeremiah 6:16, New International VersionAs we are drawing to the close of another year, it is good to enter into a season of discernment and listen to what God wants to reveal to you in the new year. 2020 is going to be a significant year because it marks the end of a decade and the start of a new one. If possible, we should discern what God has in store for us over the next ten years of our lives.
4 Jesus said to Simon, “Launch out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.” 5 But Simon answered and said to Him, “Master, we have toiled all night and caught nothing; nevertheless at Your word I will let down the net.” 6 And when they had done this, they caught a great number of fish, and their net was breaking.
Luke 5:4-6Do you sometimes think that you need a lot of faith to obey God? It brings God delight when his sons and daughters obey Him out of revelation and not just faith. It does not mean faith is not important but our Lord is looking for us to obey and respond to Him.
8 Love never fails. 1 Corinthians 13:8There is a management concept known as “zero-defects” which aims to reduce the number of defects and errors in a product or system. To develop a fail-proof method of doing things is not easy and often proves unsuccessful. Sometimes, the biggest mishap is caused by the smallest mistake. In 2009, NASA lost its Mars Climate Orbiter to a simple mathematical error because the American and British teams were using two different units of measurement to calibrate the device. The Greek word for “never” is oudepote which means “never at any time”. The Greek word for “fail” is ekpiptō which means “to fall powerless, from a place that one cannot keep”. God is perfect. His love is of zero-defect. His love is unconditional. His love is unfailing. His love is unlimited. A story was told of an old man who saw a scorpion struggling with the strong currents of a river. He reached out with his hands to save it, but each time he touched the scorpion, it stung him. A passerby saw what the old man was doing, and he shouted, “You are a fool, don’t waste time on an ungrateful creature that can only hurt you.” The old man replied, “Just because it is in the scorpion’s nature to sting, should I change my nature, which is to save?” Love is in the vein of God’s nature. Never once did God change His nature ― which was to save those who rejected Him. God is not ignorant of our rejection but He does not allow that rejection to remain as a barrier to His love. The cross is the catalyst that brought us into His love. Our nature cannot change His nature, but His nature will change our nature. How powerful is His love in changing you? Powerful enough to cause you to love your neighbour as yourself, to bless your enemy and pray for those who persecute you, and forgive those who do not know what they have done or are doing to you. Love never fails.
7 Love endures all things. 1 Corinthians 13:7Are some people in your life difficult to love? Or maybe your attempts to love them haven’t brought about the changes you desire? This is how God felt when His people rejected Him. No matter how many times God reaches out, they choose to spurn His love. Yet God never gives up.
7 Love hopes all things. 1 Corinthians 13:7God is not just good, He is infinitely good! It is out of the reality of His perfect love that we receive the ability to face life with hope, and not fear. Don’t see problems as acts of hostility, but rather as opportunities for God’s love to shine through the darkness. In our eyes, problems are obstacles to our plans of happiness. In God’s eyes, problems can never obstruct His plan for our happiness.
7 Love believes all things. 1 Corinthians 13:7Have you ever met people who are often suspicious of others and find it hard to trust others? Plagued by a “siege” mentality, they see the world as an unjust place, for which they would rather doubt and reject the possible goodness of people rather than believe the best in every person.
7 Love bears all things. 1 Corinthians 13:7Someone once told me, “Pastor, it’s easy for you to say, ‘Don’t worry’, but it’s difficult not to worry. If I don’t worry, who will?” Well, the idea of not to worry comes from God and not from me. Life may contain sorrow and sadness, trials and troubles, but life cannot overcome God’s love for us. Nothing in all creation, neither death nor life can ever separate us from His love.
6 Love rejoices in the truth. 1 Corinthians 13:6If a child believes that his father does not love him or her, he or she develops doubt, mistrust and emotional distance. This can also hinder the future growth of their relationship. No matter how much the father does to show his love, the child may stay suspiciously cold and detached. The only way to restore the relationship is for the child to appreciate and accept the truth of his or her father’s love.
6 Love does not rejoice in iniquity. 1 Corinthians 13:6A corrupt judge was paid a huge sum of money to sentence an innocent man to death. With little regard for justice, he agreed to do so. To his great regret, the judge later found out the innocent man who died was his son.
5 Love thinks no evil. 1 Corinthians 13:5Have you ever been hurt by someone so much that you wish you could get even with them? No matter how justified you perceive yourself to be, Paul tells us not to pay attention to a suffered wrong.
5 Love is not provoked. 1 Corinthians 13:5Have you reached a dead end in a relationship with someone because of a heated argument or sharp contention? Two brothers who lived in the same house had such a bitter quarrel that they stopped talking to each other for forty years. Friends and relatives tried their best to reunite them, without avail. One day a new pastor arrived and everyone implored him to speak to the two brothers. The pastor asked them what their quarrel was about and one of them replied, “I can’t exactly remember when or why we fought but I am still mad at him!”
5 Love does not seek its own. 1 Corinthians 13:5Do you deny your family or friends your love and affection unless they give in to your demands or meet your expectations? If the answer is yes, that would be selfish or self seeking. I once read a story of a billionaire who used his wealth to control his loved ones. He deviously threatened to disinherit them unless they acceded to his whims and fancies, no matter how unreasonable they were. Some cowered to his demands but others chose to walk away, not willing to suffer the indignity of losing their self-respect.
5 Love does not behave rudely. 1 Corinthians 13:5Two lifelong business partners butted heads right until they were parted by death. When a reporter asked the surviving partner to comment on his colleague’s death, he remarked, “My mother often told me to say something good about the dead. He’s dead. Good!”
4 Love is not puffed up. 1 Corinthians 13:4Have you ever met someone who loves to flaunt their wealth, making a point that they are rich? Or they would flaunt their intelligence to win adulation or their bodies to gain admiration? Seeing life from an inflated view of self-importance, these so-called prima donnas believe everything revolves around them.
4 Love does not parade itself. 1 Corinthians 13:4What is the point of living a pious life if no one knows about it? This was the typical attitude of the Pharisees. They were "spiritual" exhibitionists when it comes to earning their own "badge" of righteousness. They flaunted their ability to keep the Law even though they often mingled scriptures with their own self-imposed traditions. To further inflate their self-importance and superiority, they loved to vie for the best seats and parade around for public accolades.
4 Love does not envy. 1 Corinthians 13:4God is jealous but He is not envious. The Greek word for “envy” is zēloō. It means “to be heated or boiling over" (Strong's G2206). Zēloō has two distinct meanings. The first meaning is "zealous" and the second meaning is "envious". Zealous is a good kind of jealousy whereas envy is a bad kind of jealousy. To be zealous is to be extremely passionate for someone's well-being but to be envious is to be destructively resentful against someone.
4 Love is kind. 1 Corinthians 13:4Some people entertain frightening ideas of God. There is more fear than faith in their thoughts of Him. Fearful thoughts of God is bound to mess up your relationship with God and muddy your belief that God really loves you and He wants to bless you.
4 Love suffers long. 1 Corinthians 13:4God's patience or long suffering is the answer to our fear of coming short of God's love.
1 If I were to speak with eloquence in earth’s many languages, and in the heavenly tongues of angels, yet I didn’t express myself with love, my words would be reduced to the hollow sound of nothing more than a clanging cymbal. 2 And if I were to have the gift of prophecy with a profound understanding of God’s hidden secrets, and if I possessed unending supernatural knowledge, and if I had the greatest gift of faith that could move mountains, but have never learned to love, then I am nothing. 3 And if I were to be so generous as to give away everything I owned to feed the poor, and to offer my body to be burned as a martyr, without the pure motive of love, I would gain nothing of value. 1 Corinthians 13:1-3 The Passion TranslationThe gospel is not a kind of fire insurance policy for escaping hell. Neither is it a sin management program used to modify behaviour. The gospel is the story of God's perfect love for us. As a result of Jesus' full and finished work on the cross — nothing can ever separate us from the love of God.
13 When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus. Acts 4:13 New International VersionWe are ordinary people with an incredibly extraordinary God.
20 The yes to all of God’s promises is in Christ. And that is why we say “Amen” through Christ to the glory of God. 2 Corinthians 1:20God does not lie. He does not go back on His promises.
45 For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many
10 The value of your life is inextricably linked to His. Jesus did not die to make your life more comfortable. He died for you to live a worthy life for Him Colossians 1:10
20 And the God of peace will crush Satan under your feet shortly. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen. Romans 16:20Spiritual warfare can be described as Satan’s attempts in seeking to destroy who you are in Christ. Satan uses to great effect, feelings of worthlessness or excessive guilt to weaken the faith of many believers. If we are not mindful of Satan's wicked schemes, he can weaken our faith with confusion, despair or even convince us to abandon our faith.
18 Blessed are all those who wait for Him. Isaiah 30:18
31 But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength. Isaiah 40:31
There is a difference between waiting for God and waiting on God.When you wait for God, you rest until God is ready to act. It is the ability to trust God’s perfect timing in all things. It is you knowing that He is able to make all things beautiful in His time (Ecclesiastes 3:11).
2 Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. Galatians 6:2The Bible describes two kinds of Law: the Law of Moses and the Law of Christ. Both are mutually exclusive as they define two different covenants. Some Christians make the mistake of mixing up the two covenants together.
27 But as for you, the anointing (the sacred appointment, the unction) which you received from Him abides (permanently) in you. 1 John 2:27, Amplified BibleJohn tells us that we can never lose our anointing. Anointing is God's appointment on your life for salvation and service.
7 As believers you know his great worth—indeed, his preciousness is imparted to you. But for those who do not believe: "The stone that the builders rejected and discarded has now become the cornerstone." 8 And "A stone that makes them stumble and a rock to trip over". They keep stumbling over the message because they refuse to believe it. And this they were destined to do. 9 But you are God’s chosen treasure—priests who are kings, a spiritual “nation” set apart as God’s devoted ones. He called you out of darkness to experience his marvelous light, and now he claims you as his very own. He did this so that you would broadcast his glorious wonders throughout the world. 1 Peter 2:7-9, The Passion TranslationSelf-righteousness is the biggest obstacle to salvation. People often assume that sin keeps them away from God. However, a closer reading of the four gospels tell us that Jesus has far more issues with self-righteous people than sinners. More than anyone else, the Pharisees were the ones who gave Jesus the most problems. They strongly disapproved of Jesus' friendship with unbelievers and sinners. The Pharisees saw no need for God's grace or a Saviour to save them from sin because they thought they were better than everyone else.
11 Therefore comfort each other and edify one another, just as you are doing. 1 Thessalonians 5:11By calling God our Father and every believer a brother or a sister, we grow together as a household of faith. You can't grow without community just as a baby can’t grow without a family. The worst thing that can hinder your growth is to keep away from those who stay with God and stay with those who keep you away from God.
1To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven. Ecclesiastes 3:1Many of us are in a season of change and transitions. Just as there are seasons in nature, we have seasons in our lives that we need to adjust to. It is not the change but the adjustment to change that many believers find challenging. If you choose not to adjust or can't seem to adjust to God's new season, you will stay stuck and not fulfill God's purpose for your life. This was exactly what happened to the children of Israel. When they chose to remain in a place where God didn't want them to be, they ended up walking in circles for forty years.
6 Because you are His sons, God sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” Galatians 4:6, New International VersionWhat did the Apostle Paul meant when he said, "God sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts"?
26 But when the Comforter (Counselor, Helper, Advocate, Intercessor, Strengthener, Standby) comes, Whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of Truth Who comes (proceeds) from the Father, He [Himself] will testify regarding Me. John 15:26, The Amplified BibleSome of us may think the role of the Holy Spirit is just to enable us to speak in tongues or do miracles. Jesus, however, tells us the Holy Spirit is our Comforter whom the Father sent into the world to bear witness to the life changing truth of His Person. The more we grow in the truth and grace of our Lord, the more we will become free and behave according to our freedom in Christ.
4 But when the kindness of God our Saviour and His love for mankind appeared, 5 He saved us—not by works of righteousness that we had done, but according to His mercy, through the washing of regeneration and renewal by the Holy Spirit. 6 He poured out this Spirit on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour, 7 so that having been justified by His grace, we may become heirs with the hope of eternal life. Titus 3:4-7, Holman Christian Standard BibleHow we perceive the Trinity will affect the way we live the Christian life.
1 We then, as workers together with Him also plead with you not to receive the grace of God in vain.
2 Corinthians 6:1
26 "Why are you fearful, O you of little faith?” Matthew 8:26Fear is giving in to opposing circumstances; faith is overcoming them. Jesus' disciples had to learn one constant lesson which was to never let their fearful feelings get in the way of believing in Him. We are no different from them. Often, we are afraid because we do not fully trust in the sufficiency of His grace. We become too worried about getting rescued from opposing circumstances than placing our faith in the Saviour always.
23 And whatever you do, do it heartily as unto the Lord and not to men. Colossians 3:23Why do many Christians feel turning out high-quality work in their job is necessary, but in church, it does not matter as long as they turn up? Is it because they fear a bad appraisal or losing their job for poor office performance whereas in church it is purely voluntary and no one can insist on excellence from them?
9 Also He spoke this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous,
and despised others.
Luke 18:9Some people make the excuse that they would not go to church because there are too many hypocrites there. They often assume Christians are not supposed to sin and when a believer sins, they are quick to condemn the person for hypocrisy. The truth is all hypocrites are sinners; but not all sinners are hypocrites. When Jesus told the parable of the Pharisee and Tax Collector (cf. Luke 18:9-14), He was giving His own definitions of a hypocrite and a sinner. A hypocrite is someone who views others as "bigger sinners" than themselves and then pretends to be "more righteous" than everyone else. The sinner is someone who does not pretend to be righteous and doesn’t know how to be righteous apart from the grace of God. The sinner recognises his need for a Saviour. The hypocrite supposes he can earn his salvation. Jesus tells us that those who practice hypocrisy are not Christians at all (cf. Matthew 24:51). Both sinners and hypocrites are utterly lost and in need of salvation. Thank God He sent Christ to save the lost. He saves the sinner from his sin and the hypocrite from himself. Christ made saints out of both sinners and hypocrites. To be saved in Christ is to return to your true identity in Christ - through which you are the righteousness of God, without any spot of sin or blemish of hypocrisy.
13 For if the blood of goats and bulls, and the sprinkling of defiled persons with the ashes of a heifer, sanctify for the purification of the flesh, 14 how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God. Hebrews 9:13-14, English Standard VersionThe blood of Christ refers to His sacrificial death on the cross and how that sacrifice changes our relationship with God. Sin never kept God away from us. Rather, it is our defiled and guilty conscience that keeps us away from God. That guilty conscience produces a stronghold in which there is enmity in our minds against God.
2 You were chosen according to the purpose of God the Father and were made a holy people by his Spirit, to obey Jesus Christ and be purified by his blood. 1 Peter 1:2, Good News TranslationThe Apostle Peter described how the Trinity is involved in the life of every believer.
20 But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, 21 keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life. Jude 1:20-21, English Standard VersionJude, the half brother of Jesus wrote his epistle to warn believers to beware of false teachers who preached against the literal return of our Lord. He told them to earnestly fight for the faith. That is, to make an effort to keep the victorious truth of the gospel alive within their households and community.
14 The mature children of God are those who are moved by the impulses of the Holy Spirit. 15 And you did not receive the “spirit of religious duty," leading you back into the fear of never being good enough. But you have received the “Spirit of full acceptance,” enfolding you into the family of God. And you will never feel orphaned, for as he rises up within us, our spirits join him in saying the words of tender affection, “Beloved Father!” 16 For the Holy Spirit makes God’s fatherhood real to us as he whispers into our innermost being, “You are God’s beloved child!” Romans 8:14-17, The Passion TranslationBeing sons and daughters of God, we have all the rights and privileges of knowing God as our Father. It is through this authentic relationship with God that we discover our identity, inheritance, sense of destiny and purpose. However, some of us may not know this truth and it is possible for us to take on an orphan spirit where we want to earn God's approval instead of receiving God's acceptance.
19 Have you forgotten that your body is now the sacred temple of the Spirit of Holiness, who lives in you? You don’t belong to yourself any longer, for the gift of God, the Holy Spirit lives inside your sanctuary. 20 You were God’s expensive purchase, paid for with tears of blood, so by all means, then, use your body to bring glory to God! 1 Corinthians 6:19-20, The Passion Translation
27 To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. Colossians 1:27No matter how many bad days you have had, it is still important for you to know that God is on your side. Hold on to God's goodness even when you are afraid — for no amount of darkness hurled by the Enemy can ever snuff out the glorious light of God (who is Christ) in you. Many believers assume the goal of the Christian is about becoming more LIKE Christ. They often put themselves through an endless cycle of self-checking as to whether they are right with God The consequences are guilt, shame and personal condemnation. The truth is, we are right with God on Christ's account, and not on our account. Our old sinful self put to death with Christ on the cross. In doing so, God frees us from the slavery of sin and conforms us to the image of His Son. As such, we can declare together with the Apostle Paul:
20 I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me.
Galatians 2:20"Christ living in me" is the basis of the Christian life. It is no longer about becoming more "LIKE" Christ but "LEARNING" Christ (cf. Ephesians 4:20) in relation to His life in you. You may ask, “What is there to learn from Christ's life in me?" For starters, learn how complete you are in Him; learn how you have all things in Him and learn how you have been blessed with every blessing in Him. The Christian life is no longer about becoming less of yourself and more of Jesus but being who you are in Christ ― for you have died and your life is now hidden in Him (cf. Colossians 3:3). By crucifying you with Him, Christ took you out of the equation so that when people see you, they don't see someone trying his or her best to be a good Christian. Rather, they see Christ, the hope of glory, manifest in and through you.
7 The world is full of so-called prayer warriors who are prayer-ignorant. They’re full of formulas and programs and advice, peddling techniques for getting what you want from God. 8 Don’t fall for that nonsense. This is your Father you are dealing with, and he knows better than you what you need. With a God like this loving you, you can pray very simply. Matthew 6:7-8, The MessagePrayer does not give us power. Prayer gets us in touch with the one who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us. This power is the amazing grace of Christ made perfect in our weakness.
2 Let us look only to Jesus, the One who began our faith and who makes it perfect. He suffered death on the cross. But he accepted the shame as if it were nothing because of the joy that God put before him. And now he is sitting at the right side of God’s throne. Hebrews 12, New Century VersionSome people think faith is difficult because they limit what God can do.
19 For God was in Christ, restoring the world to himself, no longer counting men’s sins against them but blotting them out. This is the wonderful message he has given us to tell others. 2 Corinthians 5:19, The Living BibleThe gospel is not about what you do or do not do — but rather what Christ did and has done.
25 Now to Him who is able to establish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery kept secret since the world began 26 but now made manifest, and by the prophetic Scriptures made known to all nations, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, for obedience to the faith— 27 to God, alone wise, be glory through Jesus Christ forever. Amen. Romans 16:25-27, New International VersionThe Apostle Paul tells us that God is the one who establishes you through the gospel of His Son. The Greek word for "establish" is stērizō which means "to make firm, set fast, fix" (Strong's G4741). In other words, the gospel gives you the power and ability to stand strong and live righteously.
20 For I tell you this: you will not enter the kingdom of heaven unless your righteousness goes deeper than the Pharisees’, even more righteous than the most learned learner of the law. Matthew 5:20, The Voice BibleBoth Jesus and the Pharisees wanted people to live righteously, but the difference in achieving this end lies in their approach. The Pharisees were good at telling people what is wrong with them and how undeserving they were of God's mercy. Jesus, however, exposed the Pharisee’s flawed sense of righteousness and their misuse of the Law to control people and make them feel not welcomed by God.
31 For you can all prophesy one by one, that all may learn and all may be encouraged. 39 ...be eager to prophesy. 1 Corinthians 14:31, 39
As a practical way to create a strong and healthy community, the Apostle Paul encouraged the Corinthian believers to release fresh revelatory insights and prophetic words to each other. He wanted them to recognize that it was not just the pastor or church leaders who had the gift and responsibility of being able to prophesy. Everyone could prophesy in turn, so as to encourage and build the faith of God's people.
18 Timothy, my son, I am giving you this command in keeping with the prophecies once made about you, so that by recalling them you may fight the battle well. 1 Timothy 1:18, New International VersionThe Apostle Paul knew the spiritual conflict that Timothy will have to face for himself and instructed Timothy to actively remember the prophecies previously made about him so that he can stand strong against the attacks of the devil and walk in victory.
8 The Lord is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. 9 The Lord is good to all, and his mercy is over all that he has made. Psalm 145:8-9, English Standard VersionIf you could write a song to describe your experience of God, what will you say? David celebrated God's grace and mercy towards all people - His people and those who have yet to know Him. He knew God’s grace and mercy to be true from his personal experience of God which led him to compose the beautiful psalm above.
24 “Everyone who hears my teaching and applies it to his life can be compared to a wise man who built his house on an unshakable foundation. Matthew 7:24, The Passion TranslationHearing God is easy but choosing to obey can be challenging. We all need to learn how to apply and respond to the Word of God and understand how it prepares us for every season we are going through. Living out the Word of God can be as individuals, families or church communities.
114 You are my hiding place and my shield; I hope in Your word. Psalm 119:114Psalm 119 is the longest Psalm as well as the longest chapter in the Bible. It is a song about taking delight in God's Word and experiencing the fullness of His promises by trusting in Him.
1Rejoice in the Lord, O you righteous! For praise from the upright is beautiful. Psalm 33:1Most times, our eyes are on what is not working out, more than on what God has already done for us through Christ. This is why worship is almost impossible unless done with a thankful heart.
1Then He called His twelve disciples together and gave them power and authority over all demons, and to cure diseases. Luke 9:1Authority and power are not inborn or cultivated by hard work. They are established for you through Christ's finished work on the cross. It is because of your identity in Christ that you are given both authority and power to live and act in His name.
22 For the very glory you have given to me I have given them so that they will be joined together as one and experience the same unity that we enjoy. John 17:22, The Passion TranslationJesus declared in His prayer that He has given you the same glory our Father God has given Him. In doing so, Jesus unites us with the Trinity and with each other as one family and community. As such, unity is possible and can happen if you believe it, not because of any one of us, but because Christ has brought us together.
16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes. Romans 1:16One way to understand grace is to think about its opposite, religion. Religion teaches how much God loves you is directly proportional to how you much you work to earn it. As such, some believers spend their whole lives focusing obsessively on achieving or maintaining an outward standard or code of behaviour. Others, however, feel guilty over nothing and constantly doubt their salvation. Their assumptions about God's love often cause them much confusion and fear, and unless they truly understand the gospel, they will continue to live a joyless and self-defeated life.
14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. Romans 8:14Being led by God is not a feeling. Many believers somehow assume that they need to wait for some kind of feeling to move them before they do anything. Moreover, even if such a feeling does come, you will most likely question whether it is from God. To be led by God is to be guided by His Spirit through His Scriptures. For His Spirit can quicken every Scriptural word and make it clear and relevant for you to act accordingly.
6 In the last days the Spirit of Elijah will turn the hearts of the Fathers to their children and the hearts of the children to their fathers. Malachi 4:6The Prophet Malachi gave a vision of God sending someone who will come in the spirit and power of Elijah to restore the hearts of the people of Israel and reconcile them to God. This person is none other than John the Baptist who came as a forerunner to prepare the way for Jesus to reveal God's heart as our Father to us.
20 “And he arose and came to his father. But when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him. 21 And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight, and am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ Luke 15:20-21The prodigal son in the parable was always a son, even when he was estranged from his father. The father had never loved or treated him less favourably, but because the son was unaware of his father's heart towards him, he could never enjoy and reciprocate the relationship.
31 “And [the father] said to [the older brother] Son, you are always with me, and all that I have is yours. Luke 15:31A life with God gives context to how we live for God. If we live for God without first learning how to live with God, our identity is defined by what we do, and how well we do it, and how God will judge us against certain benchmarks that reward or punish our performance. This line of thinking leads to two divergent emotions which can be painful and confusing. We will swell with pride when we feel we have done well, but wallow in self-pity when we have not done well. It creates a "yo-yo" relationship where you feel God loves you one day and does not love you the next.
15 Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. 1Timothy 1:15The Greek word for sin is “hamartia” which means "missing the mark". It is the picture of a person who aims his arrow at the bull’s eye but ends up hitting something altogether unexpected. To miss the mark is more than an error in human judgment or mistake. "Hamartia" spells the fatal flaw inherent in the person that prevents him or her fromever being able to succeed. What follows afterward are tragic consequences which contribute to the person's downfall. "Hamartia" carries the seeds of self-destruction. And no one is spared from their "hamartia" without outside help. This is why everyone needs a Saviour to save them, lest they die. The New Testament writers couldn't have chosen a better word to describe sin. Sin is "missing the mark of God's standard" (Romans 3:23), for which we are judged as being guilty by God's righteous judgment. Through His finished work on the cross, Christ saved us from the power and penalty of sin. By believing in His saving grace, we are no longer missing the mark but right on target. We no longer need to fear the power of sin. God has not only forgiven you of your sin, but He has also given you the righteousness of Christ. What happens now is your recovery from a sin-wrecked life. Having the knowledge of Christ's forgiveness of your sin gives you the power to overcome every sinful behaviour and habit. Allow the Holy Spirit access to every area of your life for He will transform you.
10 When Jesus had raised Himself up and saw no one but the woman, He said to her, “Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you?” 11 She said, “No one, Lord.”And Jesus said to her, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.” John 8:10-11Jesus was trapped by the religious authorities to put a woman on trial for adultery. After sending away her accusers, Jesus told her since no one is left to condemn her, he wouldn't condemn her either, but bade her go and sin no more.
22 And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brothers outside. Genesis 9:22Like Ham who despised Noah when he saw his father's nakedness, there will be those who reject you because they cannot accept you for your weaknesses or mistakes. Instead of covering your nakedness, they choose to magnify your flaws and shortcomings. Now, covering does not mean hiding. It is about someone who protects your vulnerability and weak spots and equips you to grow the character and strength to overcome these faults.
28 ‘For in him we live and move and have our being. Acts 17:28, New International VersionWorship is our first and highest priority to God. Yet, too many Christians see worship as synonymous with the happenings at church on a Sunday morning. They say: "Our worship starts with some exuberant singing, followed by a sermon". Or they may think the worship is for them. Then they would say: "Today's worship is great and I got a lot out of it." They would even think that worship is someone else's responsibility to make them happy and keep them coming back.
9"Here I am! Send me." Isaiah 6:9We don't worship to get closer to God. We worship because we are close to God. Worship is the fruit of a real and authentic relationship with God. As such, true worship does not depend on physical location or music style. It rests on the heartfelt desire to magnify God and exalt His name.
7 Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God. Romans 15:7, New International VersionLots of Christians will tell you that they get along better with non-Christian friends than they do with each other. One reason for this is that we don't hold both groups of friends to the same standard of expectation. Somehow, we react more strongly when fellow believers disappoint us, and this in turn leads us to judge them or treat them more harshly than we should. If this describes you, then take a moment to consider: what's your understanding of grace?
9[Jesus] said to me, "My grace is all you need. My power is strongest when you are weak." So I am very happy to brag about how weak I am. Then Christ’s power can rest on me. 2 Corinthians 12:9, New International Reader's VersionMany believers always seem ashamed of their weakness and afraid of people who may think poorly of them. They spend a lot of their time and energy hiding their fear of being judged or rejected, of never being good enough or worthy enough for God.
9 And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. Galatians 6:9The Apostle Paul encourages the Galatians not to become weary or tired of doing good works. The Greek word for "weary" is ekkakeo. It describes the feeling of discouragement in the face of doing something vital for God and for the benefit of His people.
9 And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. 10 So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith. Galatians 6:9-10There is a mistaken idea that the more you do, the more God loves you. As such, we can believe in the gospel of God's grace and still pursue a work-based, performance-driven relationship with God. This can be seen by our need to measure our acceptance and significance by how busy we appear to be and how many things we are involved in.
6 So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, 7 for we walk by faith, not by sight. 8 Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. 9 So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him. 2 Corinthians 5:6-9In 2 Corinthians 5, the Apostle Paul exhorts the Corinthians to be always of good courage even though physically they feel weak and drained. The Greek word for "courage" is tharrhounteswhich means "to be bold and confident". As such, to take courage literally means to cheer up and not be afraid no matter how bad it seems.
14 For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbour as yourself.”15 But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another. Galatians 5:14-15God's gift of the church is good, healthy and wholesome. But because we are not always good, healthy and wholesome, it takes a continual attitude of submission and willingness on our side to trust and believe God why church matters. This means we are to extend this grace of community to one another with lots of love and patience. And I really mean with lots of love and patience.
20 Now to [God] who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us. Ephesians 3:20, New International VersionGod is the God of all possibilities in the midst of impossibilities.
3Now when the tempter came to Him, he said, “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.” Matthew 4:3
17Therefore if any person is [ingrafted] in Christ [the Messiah] he is a new creation [a new creature altogether]; the old [previous moral and spiritual condition] has passed away. Behold, the fresh and new has come! 2 Corinthians 5:17, Amplified Bible
5 "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you." Jeremiah 1:5, English Standard VersionYou are not defining your identity—your identity is defining you.
44 You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father's desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies. John 8:44, English Standard VersionJesus told those who opposed Him that they are murderers and liars just like their "spiritual father", Satan himself, who from the beginning has been the enemy of the truth. Even though Satan has been defeated by Jesus on the cross, he still finds opportunities to wage war against the saints and engage the world to tempt and distract God's people from what truly matters (1 John 2:15-17). For example, the Apostle Paul talks of being tormented by a messenger of Satan to stop him from boasting what he had seen and accomplished through the power of the gospel.
17 Faith operated powerfully in Abraham for when he was put to the test he offered up Isaac. Even though he received God’s promises of descendants, he was willing to offer up his only son! 18 For God had promised, “Through your son Isaac your lineage will carry on your name.” 19 Abraham’s faith made it logical to him that God could raise Isaac from the dead, and symbolically, that’s exactly what happened. Hebrews 11:17-19, The Passion TranslationMost people think faith is illogical or a figment of imagination. However, from a Scriptural viewpoint, faith is logical and reasonable because faith is built on many irrefutable evidences and manifestations of God. It is through God's self-revelation in many ways through many means that Biblical characters came to know that God is real and He rewards the faith of those who seek Him (Hebrews 11:6).
16 When evening had come, they brought to Him many who were demon-possessed. And He cast out the spirits with a word, and healed all who were sick, 17 that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying: “He Himself took our infirmities and bore our sicknesses.” Matthew 8:16-17Sickness is not God's punishment or condemnation on any of us. Unfortunately, there are believers who hold dear the belief that God uses sickness to discipline us and keep us in line. It is not as if God has a Munchausen syndrome by proxy disorder, that is, He would first inflict pain on us, and then He would go about saving us so to further inflict more pain and suffering on us. And we are supposed to be grateful for it even when feeling miserable and distressed.
26 Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness. Genesis 1:26By creating humanity in His image and likeness, God shows that He is all about relationships, and the art of building and growing healthy relationships flows from an authentic relationship with Him
26 Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. 27 But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. 1 Corinthians 1:25-27, New International VersionMany great men and women of God throughout the history of the church were considered unfit or unusable by their peers and community because of past sin, personal shortcomings, or physical impediments, but everything changed for them when they experienced the transforming power of God's love and grace in their lives.
25 in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, 26 and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will. 2 Timothy 2:25-26Satan, who always plots for our downfall, will devise endless schemes to frustrate our spiritual growth and development. And when we are not living the good news of Jesus Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit, the devil can easily ensnare us in fear, doubt, and worry, which keeps us from holding on to God's promises of freedom, peace, and joy.
9 Now concerning brotherly love you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love one another, 10 for that indeed is what you are doing to all the brothers throughout Macedonia. But we urge you, brothers, to do this more and more. 1 Thessalonians 4:9-10Jesus says genuine love is the mark of the true discipleship.
1 Brothers, my heart's desire and prayers to God for them is that they may be saved. Romans 10:1The Apostle Paul spoke of his unrelenting prayers for his fellow Jews to come to know their Messiah. He felt such love for them that he was willing to give up his own salvation if somehow that could bring them into a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ (Romans 9:1-3). This was why he was so committed to reaching them with the gospel, even though he would suffer much persecution and rejection.
20 No unbelief made [Abraham] waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, 21 fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised. 22 That is why his faith was “counted to him as righteousness.” Romans 4:20-22Have you ever felt as if you have been waiting too long for God to answer your prayer or provide according to His promises? Well, I am sure many of us have felt and feel this way. However, don't get discouraged or worry about how long it takes. Just learn to enjoy your journey of faith, where your satisfaction does not come from answered prayers themselves, but in God who answers prayers and performs miracles.
12 I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel. Philippians 1:12The Apostle Paul wrote an encouraging letter to the Philippians, telling them that everything that happened to him really served to advance the gospel. While the Apostle Paul couldn't control every situation that happened to him, he could certainly see God's sovereignty over all things in his life.
15 Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift! 2 Corinthians 9:15God is a giver. No words can describe how incredible God is when He gives Jesus, “His indescribable gift”. It is in Christ that God freely gives you all things to enjoy (1 Timothy 6:17). It is through Christ that God causes you to give all things freely for His glory.
2 Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers. 3 John 1:2God wants to prosper you in everything, in every way - just as you prosper spiritually. Prosperity is not limited to just one area of our lives, but through God's grace, it extends to every aspect of life; that is, in our spirit, soul and body. Take hold of the reality that you are blessed with all things in Christ and you will be enabled to do all things through Christ.
9 He who has a generous eye will be blessed, for he gives of his bread to the poor. Proverbs 22:9God gives you the gift of life for you to make your life a gift. Nothing pleases God more than when you share your life with others. There is no better way to live than to give. Giving is not an obligation but an opportunity. It is an opportunity because it puts your life and possessions in proper perspective. Do you own your possessions? Or do your possessions own you?
16 I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, 17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, 18 having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints. Ephesians 1:16-18, English Standard VersionWe used to sing a song in Sunday School that begins with these words, "Oh, be careful, little eyes, what you see". There is a ring of truth in those words, at least in terms of how we see ourselves as God sees us.
17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. 2 Corinthians 5:17In making you a new creation, God has already made you complete in Christ. Instead of working on your flaws, God is working to reveal Christ's presence and power in you.
7 For as (a man) thinks in his heart, so is he. Proverbs 23:7Many scientific studies prove that there is correlation between your thought life and physical well-being. Negative thoughts and emotions can increase stress and, if not properly managed, can cause a slew of degenerative health conditions. The opposite is also true. Positive thoughts and emotions increase the body’s immunity and reduce health problems. In other words, the thought that you think today will someday show up in your body.
Love never brings fear, for fear is always related to punishment. But love’s perfection drives the fear of punishment far from our hearts. Whoever walks constantly afraid of punishment has not reached love’s perfection. 1 John 4:19, The Passion Translation.Have you ever wonder how God feels about you when you go back to your old sinful habits or have added a few new ones? Do you think God is angry, upset or ashamed of you because you messed up again and again? Or do you believe God is still good to you even if you feel completely empty of faith?
3 For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God. Romans 10:3Many believers often assume God has to lower His standard to love us. However, the cross shows us the opposite. It is through the sacrificial death of Christ that God's perfect standard of righteousness was met, and this totally changes the dynamic of our relationship with God.
1 Lord, teach us to pray. Luke 11:1We need to learn the value of prayer. Jesus taught His disciples many things, but prayer was the only thing they actually asked Him to teach them. The reason they asked was because they saw how Jesus valued prayer and how prayer permeated every part of His life and ministry.
2 Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. 2 Peter 1:2Our spiritual growth will profit us. The Apostle Peter tells us that the amount of grace and peace we enjoy is proportionate to the amount of knowledge that God has already revealed to us in Christ. As we grow in the knowledge of the gospel, we will learn all difficulties and sufferings are opportunities for God to reveal His glory and work out all things for our good.
5 “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; before you were born I sanctified you; I ordained you a prophet to the nations.” Jeremiah 1:5In the calling of Jeremiah, you need to recognise that long before you came into being, God had already chosen and purposed your call and life. This means that you are not subject to the world around you. You are the object of God's love. More than just a fleeting thought, you must be fully persuaded by this truth―that you are indeed His beloved―for it will increase your capacity to receive from God, and open you to a whole realm of possibilities where you can fulfil your purpose in Christ.
4 He who observes the wind will not sow, and he who regards the clouds will not reap. Ecclesiastes 11:4The mistake most believers make is that they procrastinate instead of progressing. They put off doing anything until everything is perfect. Such delays, however, will cause them to miss out on many wonderful opportunities because they never seem ready or willing to pursue their God-given dream.
6 “The Lord our God spoke to us in Horeb, saying: ‘You have dwelt long enough at this mountain. 7 Turn and take your journey, and go..." Deuteronomy 1:6-7Choose for a change instead of staying the same. When it comes to making changes in our lives, we don't lack the opportunity, but we often lack the courage and determination. A study was done to find out from the elderly their deepest regrets, and almost everyone said, "I wish I had the courage to change when I needed to the most."
14 I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:14Many believers find their lives unsatisfying and boring, but they do little to find the real cause of their problem. They would rather stay stuck in a routine than find the courage to change.
7For we walk by faith, not by sight. 2 Corinthians 5:7God gives you a new identity for you to live a new life. If we are the same person before and after we are saved, that means we haven't fully understood the gospel yet. Being aware of your identity in Christ is the key to transformation. Knowing your identity is believing everything God says about you by faith, and living accordingly through faith.
31 Stop being bitter and angry and mad at others. Don’t yell at one another or curse each other or ever be rude. Ephesians 4:31, Common English VersionBitterness is a deeply buried unresolved anger of the heart. It is a slow and imperceptible poison that creeps into the soul, and when it is allowed to run its course unimpeded, it can cause huge damage or harm to all that is in its path. Unforgiveness fuels bitterness. It is our refusal to forgive that can lead us to commit horrendous or unthinkable evils. The Bible contains many examples and stories of people like King Herod the Great and Job's wife whose lives were ruined because they couldn't let go of bitterness and resentment so as to taste God's goodness. Bitterness shows itself liken to a monster with many heads — anger, blame, hatred, ill-will, jealousy, rage, resentment, suspicion and unfriendliness. No matter how justified you think you are as to why you should be bitter or resentful — don't! It's not worth it in the long run. Leave it to God and stay clear of revenge and retribution!
15 Make sure that no one misses out on God’s grace. Make sure that no root of bitterness grows up that might cause trouble and pollute many people. Hebrews 12:15, Common English VersionGrace is the cure to the poison of bitterness. You have a responsibility to keep any poisonous root of bitterness from sprouting up in your heart. Bitterness is a form of emotional pollution that breeds and contributes to toxic relationships. God's grace, however, is a bitterness-killer. When God's grace reigns in your heart, He can turn your bitter memories into sweet ones, your hurts into hope and your grudges into goodwill. It takes the same amount of energy to stay bitter as it does to show love. Both require commitment and dedication, but only one leads to the path of life and righteousness. Ask God today to help you live your life His way. If someone's words or actions have affected you, find the opportunity to tell your feelings, what offended you and why it made you feel that way. Always give the person a chance to apologise for the offence and then pray together. In this way, you are demolishing Satan's two greatest weapons: accusation and deception. There are times that you could be the one who offended another, and it happens without you even realising it. The truth is, sometimes people won't let you off for offending them, but God does. Remember your righteousness is not based on your ability to do good, but on His ability to help you walk righteously before Him. That will give you the grace to grow strong in the Lord and the strength to give grace to others.
32 Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you. Ephesians 4:32, New American Standard BibleForgiveness and reconciliation are not the same, though they are intricately connected.
32 Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you. Ephesians 4:32, New American Standard BibleForgiveness is a gift you give to yourself. Reconciliation is a gift you give to one another. To be clear, forgiveness is not about forgetting the wrong or pretending the wrong didn't matter. Rather, forgiveness is about taking good care of yourself and staying well. It is shifting the focus from reacting to the hurt to responding to God's love and grace.
5For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing the difference between good and evil and blessing and calamity. Genesis 3:5 (The Amplified Bible)
Fuelled by the lie of “you will be like God”, both Adam and Eve fell into Satan’s snare. Eating the fruit did not add anything to them, but actually took away something from them. Robbed of their right standing with God, Adam and Eve felt their guilt and saw their shame and hid away from God.
It is Adam’s fall that makes us worthlessly incomplete.The gospel tells us that we are made complete in Christ alone. Yet, some believers feel “incomplete” if they don’t own the next best thing. Isn’t this the reason why we have a pervasive consumerism culture catered to complete us? Do we not incline our ears to hear the advertising cries of their (marketing) “priests and prophets” to buy and buy some more? Do we not feel the flush of “god-like power” each time we flash our credit cards to possess what is pleasing to our eyes? This happened to the church at Colossae. The Apostle Paul had to battle against false teachers who taught the believers to think they were not complete unless they embraced an eclectic concoction of empty philosophy and esoteric religious beliefs besides Jesus. They were captivated by a false idea (Colossians 2:8) and not living the truth. Knowing you are complete in Christ brings maturity and stability. When your identity is built on who you are, and not in what you have, you are free from the desire of possessing the many and you can be possessed freely by the One.
21 For all the Athenians and the foreigners who were there spent their time in nothing else but either to tell or to hear some new thing. Acts 17:21
3 For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour, 4 who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 1 Timothy 2:3-4
18 Be filled with the Spirit. Ephesians 5:18Paul is literally saying, “Be continually filled to overflow with the Spirit”. God’s Spirit is already dwelling in you. Cultivate an awareness of Him working in your heart. There is nothing that God cannot do for you, in you, and through you. In Him there is an endless supply of grace to meet your every need. He can bring joy in your despair, peace in your distress, and relief in your pain. He can make you fruitful in your barrenness, strong in your weakness, and healthy in your sickness.
2...New wine calls for new wineskins. Mark 2:22, New Living TranslationAre you ready for a new season in your life? In His parable of new wine in new wineskins, Jesus calls for a new way of thinking if you want to get a new taste of God's goodness. It is easy to become over-familiar with God, trying to contain Him to fit our assumptions and expectations. Discover new insights and revelations of God, learn from the gospel a little bit more of who He is, and then experience what you have learnt.
18 Whatever happens, keep thanking God because of Jesus Christ. This is what God wants you to do. 1 Thessalonians 5:18, Contemporary English VersionThe Apostle Paul says you are to give thanks always and in everything. This means no matter what is taking place in your life, whether it be good or bad, keep giving thanks because God works all things together for good (Romans 8:28). It doesn't mean everything that happens to you is good, but you can still give thanks because God is good and His love endures forever.
18 Then Jesus approached them and told them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore, as you go, disciple people in all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to obey everything that I’ve commanded you. And remember, I am with you each and every day until the end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20, International Standard VersionJesus is very clear that wherever we go, we are to be making disciples. The truth is, many of us are reluctant to share the gospel because we are afraid of the response, or worse yet, that there is no response at all. Somehow, we have a tendency to complicate things when there is no need to do so.
7 “I will declare the decree: The Lord has said to Me, ‘You are My Son, today I have begotten You.8 Ask of Me, and I will give You the nations for Your inheritance, and the ends of the earth for Your possession. Psalm 2:7-8Psalm 2 is a prophetic Psalm that speaks of Jesus who, as God's Son, is to inherit the nations, not by conquest or force of arms, but by intercession and asking God to fulfil His own word. And God fulfilled His plan through the finished work of Christ on the cross. In keeping with that, God gave Jesus a Name above every name, and by doing so, God gave Jesus the authority over nations. After which, Jesus gave His disciples (which also includes you and I) authority through His Name to inherit the nations:
18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 2 Corinthians 5:18-19, New International VersionYou are saved by Christ through faith. But when you forget God's grace, it is easy to replace it with some strange or made-up ideas about salvation and the Christian life that aren't true. One such idea links church attendance to being real followers having a real relationship with Jesus.
3 All praises belong to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. For He is the Father of tender mercy and the God of endless comfort. 4 He always comes alongside us to comfort us in every suffering so that we can come alongside those who are in any painful trial. We can bring them this same comfort that God has poured out upon us. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4, The Passion TranslationGod is not the author of your pain and suffering. Rather God is the healer of your broken heart and fractured soul. While life brings its share of trials, you don't have to bear them alone because God is ever-present to care and comfort you in your troubles.
40 For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. John 6:40, English Standard VersionSometimes and somehow we make knowing God's will more complicated than we need to. The truth is, apart from scriptural revelation, you cannot know God's will and plan for your life.
14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. 15 For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.” 16 The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God. Romans 8:14-16Where did the idea that we can live the Christian life without a relationship with our Father God ever come from? This makes you an orphan. And God in Christ promises not to leave us as orphans (John 14:18). God sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts (Galatians 4:6) to reveal who He really is and who we really are. He did not give His Spirit to make slaves, but sons. And His Spirit brings such an intimacy that we can call Him “Abba”. Abba is Aramaic for “father” which denotes a close relationship between a child and a father.
35 Now in the morning, having risen a long while before daylight, (Jesus) went out and departed to a solitary place; and there He prayed. Mark 1:35Many believers want to know God's will, but not God Himself. They prefer activities over intimacy, busyness over worship, and apathy over wisdom. The truth is, you will never find your place and purpose if God is not your first priority in life.
10 So [Adam] said “I heard Your voice in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; and I hid myself.” Genesis 3:10Adam hid from God because of his sin. He assumed if he stayed hidden and worked things out himself, God wouldn't find out what he had done that might provoke God to deal severely with him.
“…Whatever could this mean?” Acts 2:12
13 Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing psalms. James 5:13Bad things happen to everyone, but feeling down doesn't fix anything. Make a decision to believe God in spite of your circumstances.
15 What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? Certainly not! Romans 6:15The first chapter of the Epistle to the Hebrews tells us God no longer uses the Law or the prophets to speak to us, but it is through His Son Jesus that we learn how to live right before God. Jesus gives us His grace to free us from the power and penalty of sin. So to be under grace is to be no longer under the dominion of sin (Romans 6:14), but to reign in life through Christ (Romans 5:17).
25 Now to him who is able to establish you in accordance with my gospel, the message I proclaim about Jesus Christ, in keeping with the revelation of the mystery hidden for long ages past, 26 but now revealed and made known through the prophetic writings by the command of the eternal God, so that all the Gentiles might come to the obedience that comes from faith— 27 to the only wise God be glory forever through Jesus Christ! Amen. Romans 16:25-27, NIVSatan doesn't just tempt us to do bad things, but he also tempts us to do good things. And the temptation to do a good thing instead of the right thing is called self-effort. For instance, there is a place for fasting, prayer and service in the Christian life, but they are never a substitute for Christ.
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ. Ephesians 1:3Everything our Heavenly Father has for us is “gift-wrapped” in Christ. Yet, often many believers question God’s goodness, especially when they are facing hard times or struggling with their health or finance. Many give up their faith because they feel God didn’t come through for them in the way they wanted it. It is not because God doesn’t care or seem to hear their prayers, but the truth is, it is their own insecurity and fear of the future that keep them from believing God.
10 “This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel after that time,” declares the Lord. “I will put my law in their mind and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. 11 No longer will they teach their neighbour, or say to one another, ‘Know the Lord,’ because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest. 12 For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more." 13 By calling this covenant “new,” he has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and outdated will soon disappear. Jeremiah 31:33-34, Hebrews 8:10-13 New International VersionOnce you are born again, God gives you a new heart and a new spirit that makes true obedience possible and not burdensome. While obedience is not the prerequisite for you to receive God's grace, it is the evidence of God's grace working in and through you.
11 But I make known to you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man. 12 For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but it came through the revelation of Jesus Christ. Galatians 1:11The Apostle Paul told the Galatians that the gospel should not be perceived as a human tradition, but the gospel is to be received as God's revelation to all peoples. As such, you cannot add to the gospel or even subtract from the gospel, but stay faithful and firm to the good news of God's salvation in Jesus Christ.
40 And a leper came to him, imploring him, and kneeling said to him, “If you will, you can make me clean.” 41 Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand and touched him and said to him, “I will; be clean.” 42 And immediately the leprosy left him, and he was made clean. Mark 1:40-42, English Standard VersionThe story of the leper being healed by Jesus is a comforting one. By showing how tender Jesus is to those who are sick and weary, Mark captures the truth for us of a Saviour who is able to identify with our pain and struggles and who can help us even when we can't help ourselves.
8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. Ephesians 2:8-10, English Standard VersionJust like a farmer uses good seeds to produce good fruits, God has created and chosen you in Christ to produce good works. Good works are more than doing good deeds. Good works involve a continuous process of transformation, where your thinking and character become more and more like Christ. It is about God producing in you the spirit and the heart to live and act like a true son or daughter. As such, good works flow from the reality of your new life that is planted and rooted in Christ.
2 Looking to Jesus, the author and perfector of our faith. Hebrews 12:2, English Standard VersionDo you ever feel that you don't have enough faith for God to do something in your life? The good news is faith is not something you must have, but faith is something you already have because God has already given you faith to believe and trust Him. Faith is a free gift of God that comes by hearing and hearing the gospel of Christ (Romans 10:17). As such, if you need to stir up your faith, listen to the gospel again and get back to the place where you are fully persuaded that God will take care of everything for you.
9 No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God's seed abides in him; and he cannot keep on sinning, because he has been born of God. 1 John 3:9, English Standard VersionThere are those who think teaching too much of God's grace encourages sin and fleshly desires. Truth is, it is too much misunderstanding and too little understanding of grace that causes believers to stray from their faith and not experience the victory that Christ has won for us.
6 No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him. 7 Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous. 8 Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. 9 No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God's seed abides in him; and he cannot keep on sinning, because he has been born of God. 1 John 3:6-9, English Standard VersionThe Apostle John says you have been given a new nature with a new desire for righteousness. While you no longer possess an old nature that is geared and oriented to sin, it doesn't mean you don't struggle against temptation or fall into sin. For example, the Apostle Paul saw the Corinthians as new creations in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17) but he also rebuked them for being carnal-minded (1 Corinthians 3:1-9).
4 Do the riches of [God's] extraordinary kindness make you take Him for granted and despise Him? Haven’t you experienced how kind and understanding He has been to you? Don’t mistake His tolerance for acceptance. Do you realize that all the wealth of His extravagant kindness is meant to melt your heart and lead you into repentance? Romans 2:4, The Passion TranslationIf you truly understand the gospel of grace and grasp what God has done for you in Christ, then you will discover God is the kindest person you will ever meet. It is because of God's kindness that you enjoy the immeasurable riches of His grace. And if you are not completely amazed by this, it is good to hear the gospel again.
3 He heals the wounds of every shattered heart. Psalm 147:3, The Passion TranslationDon't let your pain make you think you are weak or make you feel you are less than human. Don't fight your pain. Don't treat it as an enemy. Welcome your pain. Embrace your pain and learn from it.
20 But you have not so learned Christ. Ephesians 4:20The Apostle Paul told the Ephesians that what we focus on can increase or limit our spiritual growth. When we let our mind become distracted by all sort of thoughts, it is easy to drift and get lost along the way.
32 "of the sons of Issachar who had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do…" 1 Chronicles 12:32You do yourself no justice when you steer your life completely in the opposite direction of God’s leading. The sons of Issachar stayed on course by their “understanding of the times”. The Greek word for “times” here is kairos which means “God’s appointed time for His purpose”. This kairos of God is best demonstrated in the finished work of the Cross. Through it, everyone has a fresh start and a new beginning with God without any encumbrances. You can change because change has been made possible through Christ. His kairos will move you from fear into favour, from futility into fulfilment, and from frustration into fruitfulness.
5 Then Jesus lifted up His eyes, and seeing a great multitude coming toward Him, He said to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread, that these may eat?” 6 But this He said to test him, for He Himself knew what He would do...9 “There is a lad here who has five barley loaves and two small fish, but what are they among so many?” John 6:5-6, 9There is an increasingly selfish indifference that immunes many from caring more for other people. Two-thirds of the world's population go to sleep hungry every night. That's about five in every seven people! They are hungry not because there is a lack of food, but a lack of compassion that blinds people to their plight.
7 Resist the devil and he will flee from you. James 4:7Though the phrase "spiritual warfare" never appears even once in the Bible, its concept is clearly biblical. However, many believers don't have a good understanding of spiritual warfare, and what they usually know is mostly superstitions and misconceptions. This lack of knowledge will cause them to live a confused, fearful and defeated life.
6...walk in His ways and to fear Him.7 For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land... Deuteronomy 8:6-7When God moves you to a new season, He will prepare and ready you for what is to come. Just like He did with the children of Israel in leading them out of Egypt into the Promised Land, God will work on you so that your past will not determine your future. God did exactly that when He made you a new creation in Christ so that your sinful past could not prevent you from possessing your inheritance and future glory.
7 For we walk by faith, not by sight. 2 Corinthians 5:7Whenever we are confronted by the conundrum of suffering or challenged by the problem of pain, it is easy for us to question the faithfulness of God over our lives. Instead of imagining that God has turned away from you, believe He never quits on you.
5 “I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees You. Job 42:5The story of Job calls for an answer to an important question, "Would you still love and believe God in spite of everything and even when you don't see His plan for your life?"
18 but grow in the grace and knowledge
of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. 2 Peter 3:18
How we respond to Jesus reveals our heart's condition.Jesus is both Lord and Saviour. Far too often, believers assume that they can have one without the other, but the call to following Jesus involves a recognition of His lordship and saving work. If Jesus is just Saviour and not Lord, it's love without obedience. And if Jesus is just Lord and not Saviour, it's obedience without love.
7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. 8 He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. 1 John 4:7-8It doesn't really matter how much God loves you –– if you have never felt or valued it, you can never understand the implication of how much you mean to God. Believers who cannot fully perceive God's love will often struggle with self-acceptance and feelings of unworthiness. And when you don't like yourself, it's only a matter of time before you don't like others.
9 As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you, abide in My love. John 15:9Since Jesus perceived the immensity of His Father’s love, there was no conflict in Him to do His Father’s will. Jesus gave from what He received from His Father in heaven. In the same way, when you learn to enjoy the love of your Father, the desire to do His will happens joyfully and spontaneously. Doing God’s will does not cause God to love you more. Rather, knowing God’s love will empower you to do more for God from the strength of His grace. In other words, ask God to ceaselessly reveal His love to you in a fresh way every day.
33 And with great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And great grace was upon them all. 34 Nor was there anyone among them who lacked. Acts 4:33-34God’s grace and God’s power go together. This is why, when the apostles greatly proclaimed to the church the reality of the resurrection, God greatly poured His grace on them. For the power of God that raised Jesus from the dead is the same power that opens the floodgates of God’s grace to all who believe or shall come to believe.
20 And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us an understanding, that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life. 1 John 5:20Jesus came to show us how we may know Him as the true God who gives eternal life. It is good to grow in your insight of Him. Sad to say, many of us are often in a hurry and don't make time to strengthen our relationship with Him. Spiritual growth is an investment. When you really want to know Him, He will make Himself known. He never hides but is always willing to reveal Himself.
19For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And He gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation. 2 Corinthians 5:19The Apostle Paul gives us one of the greatest revelations of grace, of how God completely reconciled us to Him by not counting our sins against us because He had already punished our sins in Christ. After being reconciled to God, we are called to spread the wonderful message of reconciliation to the world. Salvation and mission go together.
56Wherever [Jesus] entered, into villages, cities, or the country, they laid the sick in the marketplaces, and begged Him that they might just touch the hem of His garment. And as many as touched Him were made well. Mark 6:56We need a fresh understanding of God's presence in our city. Often believers assume God lives inside the church, and they go to church on Sundays to meet Him there. The truth is, God is in our city and He wants His presence to be felt and found by everyone.
20 Now when He was asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, He answered them and said, “The kingdom of God does not come with observation; 21 nor will they say, ‘See here!’ or ‘See there!’ For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you.” Luke 17:20-21Jesus met a group of Pharisees who demanded to know when the Kingdom of God would come. In contrast to the Pharisees' grand idea of a political king who would vanquish the enemies of Israel to establish a visible kingdom, Jesus interestingly answered them by saying, “the kingdom of God is within you”.
14 ... Jesus came to Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God. Mark 1:14The gospel is "kingdom-oriented". Believing the gospel is not about getting ourselves saved and going to heaven, but living in the paradigm and values of God's kingdom. We enter and experience the kingdom of God in Christ, and through Christ, and we are to mirror its supernatural reality in our everyday lives.
12 And through the hands of the apostles many signs and wonders were done among the people. And they were all with one accord in Solomon’s Porch. 13 Yet none of the rest dared join them, but the people esteemed them highly. Acts 5:12-13We Christians are often misunderstood. This is reflected in how media and interest groups sometimes unfairly portray Christians and Christianity. Even though their reporting is biased and slanted towards an agenda, it doesn't help when believers are less than Christ-like in their attitudes and behaviour towards those they disagree with or have strong reactions to. We need to be wise and responsible in how we use the public space to reflect the gospel that we are supposed to be living out.
36 Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now My kingdom is not from here.” John 18:36Jesus was actually living in one of the most politically charged times in history. Israel was under foreign occupation for a long time, and the land was rife with politico-religious extremists committing acts of terror and violence against their unwelcome rulers. The ongoing political conflicts and historical tensions bred a culture of fear and distrust, and it is of no surprise that both the Jewish and Roman authorities perceived Jesus as a religious and political threat.
7 I now serve the good news because God gave me his grace. His power is at work in me. Ephesians 3:7 NIRVGrace empowers us to live a most fulfilling and productive life. Anyone who uses grace to justify their lack of involvement or lack of spiritual growth is actually twisting the truth and does not have a right idea of grace.
1 For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for you Gentiles— Ephesians 3:1If you can't believe that God is involved in your circumstances, you will react instead of responding to what God is doing in you and through you.
8 Stephen, who was a man full of grace and supernatural power, performed many astonishing signs and wonders and mighty miracles among the people. Acts 6:8, The Passion TranslationThere are three kinds of people when it comes to the gospel of grace: the grace-ignorant, the grace-migrants and the grace-natives.
32...be kind to one another... Ephesians 4:32We only remember two types of people in life: those who were kind and generous to us, and those who were unkind and thoughtless towards us. Whether or not we were treated rightly, God is our source of kindness and love, and we, who have known and experienced both, can share and spread His love through kindness.
8 Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. 1 Peter 4:8, New International VersionLoving someone is not about being blind to their flaws. Love is the ability to look beyond their flaws by focusing on the intrinsic worth God gave them through Christ. This attitude gives us the grace to be accepting without being judgemental, to be truthful without being hurtful, and to be caring without being imposing. The Apostle Peter tells us we are to echo God's love in our relationships with one another. He quoted from Proverbs 10:2: "Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all sins." The Hebrew word for "cover" is kacah which means "concealing". In the context of this verse, concealing is not used in a bad way, as if there is an evil intention to hide something, but in the positive sense of forgiving and forgetting. Jesus is our best example of a love that covers a multitude of sins. He modelled for us how we should relate with people around us. He didn't treat others as they deserved to be treated. Instead, He readily offered His life up for them even though they were most undeserving. When Jesus was dying on the cross for our sins, He prayed, "Father, forgive them". Being the perfect sacrifice, Jesus did not just cover our sins, but He completely took away the sin of the whole world. In doing so, our Lord revealed the nature of our Father's perfect love towards us. We can reflect this same love by receiving God's grace to forgive and release the hurt people have caused us. Sometimes it is not easy to forgive, especially when you feel an injustice was done to you, or when you were being singled out unfairly. Instead of trying to forgive and forget in your own power, just confess you desperately need God's healing grace to help you to make the necessary changes in your attitude so as to manifest them in your actions. As children of God, let's imitate our Father in the way we forgive and forget, overlooking offenses and not keeping any record of wrongs, hoping others will do the same for us. We are to love each other deeply and speak with grace and kindness when someone's sin is hurting them, hurting other, or hurting us.
6 Don’t worry about anything, but pray and ask God for everything you need, always giving thanks for what you have. 7 And because you belong to Christ Jesus, God’s peace will stand guard over all your thoughts and feelings. His peace can do this far better than our human minds. Philippians 4:6-7, Easy to Read VersionDo you see your life as a series of problems or a series of problem-solving experiences? Jesus tells us we will face problems and hard times, but He also tells us to have faith in Him. The Apostle Paul encourages us to ask God for what we need and, most importantly, to believe God's peace within us will guard our thoughts and emotions so that we experience freedom and true breakthroughs.
8 I will make a new covenant...10 I will put My laws in their mind and write them on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. Hebrews 8:8,10There are believers who think that God just wants us to behave morally and responsibly. This is, however, only a part of the truth concerning the gospel. The greater truth is that we are saved by grace through faith, and not by our behaviour or deeds.
16 So ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has bound —think of it—for eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath? Luke 13:16You may look, feel or seem insignificant to most people, but God knows your worth and when you realise it, you will never feel worthless or alone again.
The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.” Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this that you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” Genesis 3:12-13When we blame someone for our actions, it is as good as admitting that we are not in control of our words, thoughts and feelings. We will lose objectivity and our ability to look at the real issues affecting our relationship. This was what Adam did, he blamed Eve and blamed God for giving him Eve in the first place. Eve, in turn, blamed the serpent.
16 “Be holy, for I am holy.” 1 Peter 1:16We live in a culture of instant gratification where we care less about enduring a little delay for future fulfilment and more about enjoying immediate satisfaction. Instant gratification is like two minutes noodles. We expect quick and easy results without much effort. This is most evidenced by the pervasive message, "You should be happy and you should be happy now". If we are to transfer this false assumption into our own relationship with God, any seeming delay on God's part will create a false impression that God doesn't care about us.
5 as I think of your strong faith that was passed down through your family line. It began with your grandmother Lois, who passed it on to your dear mother, Eunice. And it’s clear that you too are following in the footsteps of their godly example. 2 Timothy 1:5-6, The Passion TranslationAs we join the rest of the world to celebrate Mother's Day, we want to particularly recognise and honour the many godly mothers and grandmothers for their roles in their children's and grandchildren's faith journey.
15 but as (God) who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, 16 because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.” 1 Peter 1:15-16
13 for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure. Philippians 2:13What is the difference between grace-based holiness and work-based holiness? Work-based holiness is trying to earn our righteousness through our futile attempts to please God. It can never bring you into full maturity, but can actually stunt your spiritual growth. This is because work-based holiness puts a spirit of fear and "not of power and sound mind" (2 Timothy 1:7) in you, causing you to become more concerned with outward behaviour than with inward belief.
26 Why are you fearful, O you of little faith?” Matthew 8:26Fear is surrendering to opposing circumstances; faith is overcoming them. One constant lesson Jesus' disciples had to learn was never to let their fearful feelings get in the way of trusting Him. We are no different from them. Often we are afraid because we do not fully trust in the sufficiency of His grace. We become more worried about getting saved from trying situations than placing our faith in the Saviour always.
11 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Jeremiah 29:11Through the mouth of the prophet Jeremiah, God is saying, “I have it all planned out” (The Message Bible). When you believe God's thoughts are higher than your thoughts, you will love the plans He has for you. God has a clear idea of where He is taking you, why He is taking you, when He is taking you and how He is taking you to a hopeful future that is "exceedingly abundantly above" what you can think or ask.
18 And those who are peacemakers will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of righteousness. James 3:18Peace is a misunderstood concept. Often we assume peace to be quiet, gentle, passive, compliant and non-confrontational. But this widely accepted idea of peace is far from what the Bible teaches us.
19 Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? 1 Corinthians 6:19Many Christians struggle to live consistently. It is a struggle because they think it’s up to them to make it work. Such struggles come from spiritual amnesia. If you don’t know who you are and what you have in Christ, you are never sure of what you need to do and how you should live for Christ.
6 For to be carnally minded is death, to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Romans 8:6What does it mean to be spiritually minded? It is living consciously in the will and plans of the Father, making every choice or decision that honours God and shows your love for Him. It is developing the ability to listen to His Spirit leading and move in the right direction.