Tuesday 26 June 2018

To live is Christ

Reflections (and prayers) while listening to Sidewalk Prophet's To Live is Christ:

If I rise, let me rise on you
Not on all of my successes, my esteem or my pursuits
If I lose, let me lose my life
Cause if I belong to Jesus, the flesh is crucified

Our identity and self-esteem should not be built on our achievements and successes, hence we do not pursue these for their own sakes. But whatever He allows us to achieve (or even lose) is for His glory and His purposes. May we be motivated by God and be willing to give up worldly pursuits (titles, awards, possessions, even relationships) that are not from Him.

For me to live is Christ
For me to live is Christ
For me to live is Christ, to die is gain

“I the Lord search the heart and examine the mind, to reward each person according to their conduct, according to what their deeds deserve.” Jeremiah 17:10
God is searching for hearts that are willing to die for Him, to die to self and worldly things. He looks beyond appearances (attending church & prayer meetings, or serving) to see our true motivations. May we do everything to glorify Him and Him alone!

If I grow, let me grow in You
Wilt the seeds of wanting more
Rippin' pride out by the roots
And if I'm still, let me hear You speak
Not the tone of my transgressions,
But the song of the Redeemed

We are all good in something. Do we pride themselves and boast in our achievements or are we humbled by the grace of God working in our lives? For He gifts each one with talents that we don't deserve in order to reveal Him to the world.

My great desire is to be with You
But this is the place you chose for me
This is the place you chose for me
To lift my cross and give everything
This is the time you gave to me

God has placed each of us in our school or workplace or neighbourhood at this time for a reason, not by chance but to fulfil His purposes for our lives. May we discover God's specific destiny for us and be intentional in growing in love and knowledge of Him as well as be trained and equipped for His work.

So the upshot of Paul’s life is that other people are making much of Jesus by being joyful in Jesus and boasting in Jesus. This is what it means for Paul to say “to live is Christ.” To live is Christ means to live, to be the means, of other people making Christ look magnificent by finding Christ to be their supreme treasure and their greatest satisfaction. That’s what glorying in Christ and being happy in Christ means. So that’s the first answer...

Now back in chapter 1 (of Philippians), to die was to be with Christ; therefore, dying was gain. That means his dying magnified Christ because it showed that Christ was more valuable than everything he had lost in death.

Now here in chapter 3, he’s unpacking “to live is Christ” in the same way with the same argument. Only instead of losing everything by dying, he says, “I’m counting everything as loss even while I live” to show that the value of Christ is better than the things I have in life even while I am alive. So again, “to live is Christ” means to live in such a way as to make Christ look magnificent as your supreme treasure...

In both cases, the goal of Paul’s life is attained when Christ is magnified in his body, whether by life or by death. The key to magnifying Christ in life and in death is to find him more precious, more valuable, more satisfying, more joyful, more boast worthy than everything we lose in death — “to die is gain” — and everything we have in life — “to live is Christ.”

Monday 4 June 2018


This is part 3 out of 3 in a devotional series based on the book of Nehemiah, written for New Horizon Church Camp 2018.

Now on the twenty-fourth day of this month the people of Israel were assembled with fasting and in sackcloth, and with earth on their heads. And the Israelites separated themselves from all foreigners and stood and confessed their sins and the iniquities of their fathers. (Nehemiah 9:1-2)

Confession - When the Israelites found out how far they had departed from God’s standards, a spirit of repentance fell upon them and they confessed their sins before God. Our own renewal can only come about when we confess and repent of our sins. Only then can Christ’s blood cleanse us (1 John 1:7) and make us new (2 Corinthians 5:17).

“Because of all this we make a firm covenant in writing; on the sealed document are the names of our princes, our Levites, and our priests.” (Nehemiah 9:38)

Commitment - After that, the Israelites renewed their commitment to follow God and His ways through a written covenant. As for us, the new covenant - that we are redeemed disciples of Christ - is written in our hearts and our minds (Hebrews 10:16) so we must ensure that we not only carry it with us but also display it for all to see through our words and actions.

On that day men were appointed over the storerooms... And they performed the service of their God and the service of purification, as did the singers and the gatekeepers, according to the command of David and his son Solomon. (Nehemiah 12:44a, 45)

Calling - Everyone in Jerusalem had a specific role. From storekeeper to gatekeeper, all of them knew that what they were doing was sacred and in service of God. Together with the priests and musicians, they were also sanctified for their jobs. We all have a calling from God too, regardless of whether we are serving in full-time ministry or not. Therefore, we must set ourselves apart in order to fulfil our individual calling wherever He has placed us.

Questions for reflection / discussion:
  1. God’s Spirit works hand in hand with His Word to convict us of our sin and the need for forgiveness. Are there any areas of unconfessed sin in you that needs to be exposed to His light? Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal them to you and know that God is ever-ready to forgive once we repent.
  2. True repentance should bring about a u-turn such that we forsake sin and take on God’s holiness instead. As you commit to keep to God’s standards, is there someone whom you could be accountable to, someone who not only keeps you in check but also encourages and spurs you on in your faith?
  3. Do you know what God’s calling is for you - in your home, in church, and at your workplace? How will you respond to this call?


This is part 2 out of 3 in a devotional series based on the book of Nehemiah, written for New Horizon Church Camp 2018.

Remember for my good, O my God, all that I have done for this people. (Nehemiah 5:19)

Works - When Nehemiah discovered that the governors had been taxing the people unjustly, he immediately put things right and restored justice. In addition, he served food to over a hundred people each day at his own expense. Similarly, God desires us to act justly, to love mercy and to walk humbly with Him (Micah 6:8). There are many injustices in the world today and we have a mission to restore justice in the places that He sends us to.

Now when the wall had been built and I had set up the doors, and the gatekeepers, the singers, and the Levites had been appointed, I gave my brother Hanani and Hananiah the governor of the castle charge over Jerusalem, for he was a more faithful and God-fearing man than many. (Nehemiah 7:1-2)

Worship - The first thing Nehemiah did once the wall had been completed was to install the priests and musicians in order to restore the worship of God. We were created to worship and serve the Lord with our whole lives, hence we need to restore a heart of worship expressed through everything we say and do.

So Ezra the priest brought the Law before the assembly, both men and women and all who could understand what they heard, on the first day of the seventh month. And he read from it facing the square before the Water Gate from early morning until midday, in the presence of the men and the women and those who could understand. And the ears of all the people were attentive to the Book of the Law. (Nehemiah 8:2-3)

Word - The next major step taken was to restore the reading of the scriptures before all the people. The people started crying (Nehemiah 8:9) when they realised how they had neglected God’s Word. It is not enough just to hear about God from others, we have to read and study God’s Word diligently in order to know and experience Him ourselves.

Questions for reflection / discussion:
  1. What are some of the injustices that you see around you? What could you do to make things right and restore justice?
  2. Apart from singing songs of worship, how else could you worship God in your daily life?
  3. Do you have a regular Bible reading plan? If not, how could you make the reading and study of the Bible a staple of your routine?


This is part 1 out of 3 in a devotional series based on the book of Nehemiah, written for New Horizon Church Camp 2018.

And they said, “Let us rise up and build.” So they strengthened their hands for the good work. (Nehemiah 2:18b)

Ready - When Nehemiah shared his burden for the rebuilding of the wall of Jerusalem with those around him, they responded readily and made the necessary preparations to start doing the work ahead of them. Similarly, when God convicts us of the need to rebuild - it could be our relationship with God, our marriage, family or the church - we need to be prompt to obey, and we should also get ourselves adequately trained and equipped.

Then Eliashib the high priest rose up with his brothers the priests, and they built the Sheep Gate... And next to him the men of Jericho built. And next to them Zaccur the son of Imri built. (Nehemiah 3:1a, 2)

Rally - Not only were the people willing and equipped, they also worked together - brothers alongside each other, fathers with their sons. The entire community got into the action and supported one another. In the same way, we also need to gather support for whatever rebuilding that we undertake in our lives, family or church. It could be intercessors who pray along with us, or co-workers who could provide help or advice and even take over whenever we are tired and need to rest.

From that day on, half of my servants worked on construction, and half held the spears, shields, bows, and coats of mail... And I said to the nobles and to the officials and to the rest of the people, “The work is great and widely spread, and we are separated on the wall, far from one another. In the place where you hear the sound of the trumpet, rally to us there. Our God will fight for us.” (Nehemiah 4:16a, 19-20)

Reinforce - Finally, there is bound to be opposition to any work that is done according to God’s purposes. We need to constantly keep alert through prayer and arm ourselves with the Word of God, just like the Israelite builders took precautions so they would be able to defend themselves in case of an attack from their enemies.

Questions for reflection / discussion:
  1. Ask God to show you the areas of your life that need to be rebuilt and note them down. Are you ready to say ‘yes’ to Him? If not, what are the things that hinder you? Commit these to God and trust Him to remove them one by one.
  2. What training or equipping will you need for the areas of rebuilding that He has revealed to you? Who are the people whom you can ask to support you in prayer or as partners in the work of rebuilding?
  3. What are the ‘enemies’ that may try to distract you or deter you from the work of rebuilding? How can you resist these ‘enemies’?