Justice in an unjust society 2

Is God’s chief goal for society that everyone comes together to sing him songs of praise and pray to him?


Amos 5:6-7, 10-15, 21-24

6  Seek the LORD and live, lest he break out like fire in the house of Joseph, and it devour, with none to quench it for Bethel, 7  O you who turn justice to wormwood and cast down righteousness to the earth!

10  They hate him who reproves in the gate, and they abhor him who speaks the truth. 11  Therefore because you trample on the poor and you exact taxes of grain from him, you have built houses of hewn stone, but you shall not dwell in them; you have planted pleasant vineyards, but you shall not drink their wine. 12  For I know how many are your transgressions and how great are your sins— you who afflict the righteous, who take a bribe, and turn aside the needy in the gate. 13  Therefore he who is prudent will keep silent in such a time, for it is an evil time.

14  Seek good, and not evil, that you may live; and so the LORD, the God of hosts, will be with you, as you have said. 15  Hate evil, and love good, and establish justice in the gate; it may be that the LORD, the God of hosts, will be gracious to the remnant of Joseph.

21  “I hate, I despise your feasts, and I take no delight in your solemn assemblies. 22  Even though you offer me your burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them; and the peace offerings of your fattened animals, I will not look upon them. 23  Take away from me the noise of your songs; to the melody of your harps I will not listen. 24  But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.


Observations and reflections

Notes: The Context of these verses is the warning of pending judgment on the ten Northern tribes of Israel (also called Samaria) because of the tolerance of injustice in their society.

In the ancient Middle-East, the city gate was a place of wisdom where the elders gathered to give counsel and judgment in difficult situations.

  1. For every verse, list the injustices present in Samaria in the time of Amos the prophet.
  2. Record and summarise what God desires from his worshippers in these verses.

Reflection and application

  1. Look at the “transgressions …and great sins” God accuses Israel of (verse 12). Which of these are present in our society, and even in your Christian community?
  2. Considering these verses above
    1. Why would God “hate the solemn assemblies” of corporate worship and fasting (verses 21-24)?
    2. What do you learn about the character of God and what really pleases him? Try to summarise your answer in your own words.
    3. What could you do today that will please God?
    4. How could you help your small group and church see what God truly desires from his worshippers?


In your own words, pray for God’s justice to manifest in the court rooms, community and especially for the poor and needy in your society.


The Character of a leader: Consistency, Faithfulness

Joyce Meyer simply defines faithfulness or consistency as “doing something right not only once,  but doing something right over and over and over and over.”  It sounds simple, but how do you do it?  What is the key to being consistent, to being faithful? 

Before we embark on our devotional study regarding faithfulness today, let us get a broader contemporary view of it from this brief introduction by Danelle Esterhuizen today (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QW6MxK9uE8E).


1 Corinthians 4:1-5

1  This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. 2  Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found faithful. 3  But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by any human court. In fact, I do not even judge myself. 4  For I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not thereby acquitted. It is the Lord who judges me. 5  Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then each one will receive his commendation from God.

Observations and reflection questions

Context: In 1 Corinthians 4:1-5 Paul is defending his apostleship (leadership) over the Corinthian church.

  1. What are the two key word by which Paul explains his leadership to the Corinthians in verse 1?
  2. How do you understand the link between apostleship, servitude and stewardship? [verses 1-2] And
    • In general, how is this applicable to every sphere of leadership?
  3. According to Paul, what is the key requirement of leadership (and entrustment of authority for responsibility) then? [verse 2]
  4. Paul refers to “being judged” in verses 3-5.
    • Judgment about what? [hint: verse 3 starts after the last word in verse 2…]
    • What is Paul’s attitude towards human opinion or judgment of him [in verse 3]? And considering the context mentioned above, why does Paul need to say this?
    • In your own words, what is Paul’s attitude towards judging himself? [verse 3-4]
    • Whose opinion or judgment regarding his leadership is Paul focused on? And why? [verses 4-5]
  1. From this text, who ultimately determines whether one has been faithful with what was entrusted to him/her?
  2. What (a) attitude and (b) character quality made Paul’s leadership over the Corinthian churches so consistent IN SPITE OF THEIR RESISTANCE AND UNFAITHFULNESS.

Personal reflection and Application questions

In spite of the Corinthian church’s resistance to Paul’s leadership over them, he graciously affirmed and asserted apostleship over them in great humility.  He remained confident and consistent in this, because leadership to him was an entrustment and empowerment from God to Whom he will one day answer.  And that caused him to be faithful and consistent.

  1. Consider your present and past experiences of leadership. How did each of the following instances influence your leadership confidence and actions?
  • instances of criticism or resistance from people.
  • instances of praise from people.
  • instances of (perceived) failure under your leadership
  • instances of (perceived) great success under your leadership
  1. How susceptible are you to self-criticism? What can you learn from Paul’s example above?
  2. In your present and past leadership responsibility and actions, how aware are you of God’s (a) entrustment, (b) empowerment, and (c) estimation / judgment?


Prayerfully consider and thank God for what he has entrusted to you, and pray for grace that your eyes may always be towards Jesus your Master as you serve him, regardless of the comments of the people or the relative success of your actions.  Pray that you may hear the words Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.” (Matthew 25:23)

The Kingdom of God 5 – the King’s Grace and King’s judgment

The aim of this devotional study is to consider grace and judgment in the Kingdom of God.


Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43, 47-50

24  Another parable He put forth to them, saying: “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field; 25  but while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat and went his way. 26  But when the grain had sprouted and produced a crop, then the tares also appeared. 27  So the servants of the owner came and said to him, ‘Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have tares?’ 28  He said to them, ‘An enemy has done this.’ The servants said to him, ‘Do you want us then to go and gather them up?’ 29  But he said, ‘No, lest while you gather up the tares you also uproot the wheat with them. 30  Let both grow together until the harvest, and at the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, “First gather together the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them, but gather the wheat into my barn.” ‘ ”

36  Then Jesus sent the multitude away and went into the house. And His disciples came to Him, saying, “Explain to us the parable of the tares of the field.” 37  He answered and said to them: “He who sows the good seed is the Son of Man. 38  The field is the world, the good seeds are the sons of the kingdom, but the tares are the sons of the wicked one. 39  The enemy who sowed them is the devil, the harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are the angels. 40  Therefore as the tares are gathered and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of this age.41  The Son of Man will send out His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and those who practice lawlessness, 42  and will cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth. 43  Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears to hear, let him hear!

47  “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a dragnet that was cast into the sea and gathered some of every kind, 48  which, when it was full, they drew to shore; and they sat down and gathered the good into vessels, but threw the bad away. 49  So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come forth, separate the wicked from among the just, 50  and cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth.”

Observations and reflections

In today’s study we shall reflect on two very similar parables (v24-30 and v47-50), the first one having been explained Jesus (36-43).

  1. The beginning of the first parable tells of good seeds and then bad seeds sown by an enemy. What is Jesus referring to? [hint: the serpent…]
  2. What explanation does Jesus give for both parables? (v40, v49) [hint “so it will be…”]
  3. What are the function of the angels given in both parables? (v41, v49)
  4. What are the lot of the wicked described in both parables? (v42, v50)
  5. What are the lot of the “wheat” and “good fish”?
  6. In the first parable there is reference to God’s Kingdom in two instances: the tares are gathered “out of His [God’s] kingdom” (v40), and there is what Jesus calls “Kingdom of my Father [God]”(43) at the time of the judgment, “at the end of this age”.
    1. What is meant by God’s kingdom today?
    2. What is meant by God’s kingdom “at the end of this age”, at or after the judgment?
    3. Is it another kingdom or the same kingdom? [hint: is it the same king…?]
    4. How will you explain the “kingdom of God is now” and “the kingdom of God is at the end of this age” to someone who asks you? How is the parable of the wheat and tares useful to understand this?

Personal reflection and prayer

  1. Considering these two parables, how will you explain God’s grace and God’s justice (judgment) to someone?
  2. The first parable refers to the righteous and the wicked, as well as their lot at the end of this age.
    1. In your own words, what are the lot of the “righteous” and the “wicked”?
    2. If the King would to judge today, would he find you “righteous” or “wicked”? Why?
    3. What makes someone “wicked” or “righteousness” in the eyes of the King? [hint: what did Jesus came to do? See the series on Salvation]
    4. In light of this, are you fearful or optimistic about the judgment of the King? Pray to God about your anticipation of his judgment.  Plainly tell him what you think and feel, and ask him for grace.  And pray for your friends and neigbours in light of this coming judgment.


Ministry of Encouragement 3

The aim of this devotional Bible study is to grow in understanding both the importance and application of Biblical encouragement.


1 Thessalonians 5:1-14

1  Now concerning the times and the seasons, brothers, you have no need to have anything written to you.  2  For you yourselves are fully aware that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night.  3  While people are saying, “There is peace and security,” then sudden destruction will come upon them as labor pains come upon a pregnant woman, and they will not escape.

4  But you are not in darkness, brothers, for that day to surprise you like a thief.  5  For you are all children of light, children of the day. We are not of the night or of the darkness. 6  So then let us not sleep, as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober.  7  For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, are drunk at night.  8  But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation.  9  For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ,  10  who died for us so that whether we are awake or asleep we might live with him.

11  Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing… 14  And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all.

Observation and reflection

Context: Paul wrote this letter to express his thanks and joy about the steadfast faith of this young church, and also to answer questions about Christ’s return and judgment and the future resurrection of those who are alive and those who have already died.

  1. As is always a good practice, briefly summarize the following sections in your own words:
    1. Verses 1-3
    2. Verses 4-10
    3. Verses 11 and 14
  2. In the context of this passage, why did Paul find it necessary to instruct the church to “encourage one another” (verse 11, 14)? [hint: see the coupling word “therefore” connecting the thoughts in verses 9-10 to verse 11]
  3. Various types of people need encouragement: despondent, hopeless, or tired people.
    1. What type of people needed to be encouraged in this congregation? (verse 14)
    2. Why were these people in this state of mind?
    3. With what message would Paul have you speak to these people to encourage them?
  4. In one sentence write down what this passage and context teach you about the ministry of encouragement.


Imagine of your mission team get arrested by Islamic security police in Iran, and after two weeks of interrogation, a short court proceeding leads to the verdict: “Religious terrorism – execution set in one week from today!”   Some young members on your team are really afraid to die…

Or, You and a friend shop at Century City for their engagement ring, and suddenly masked gunmen rob the jeweler you’re in, commanding you fall on the floor. The episode turns into a hostage drama and your friend is shot in the chaos.  Bleeding from her abdomen, you see the fear in her eyes; she knows Jesus but is really afraid of the uncertainty of death…

With this Scripture in mind, how will you encourage and build up your fearful, believing friends as they face immanent death?


Spend some time talking to Jesus about His return, your resurrection, Judgment Day and life beyond death.  Bring all your thoughts and fears and questions to Him.  Then affirm all that you know to be true and certain, thanking Him for His Holy Spirit which leads us in all truth.

Holy Spirit 6

The aim of this devotional study is to appreciate the work of the Holy Spirit on earth.


John 16:7-14

7  Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you.

8  And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: 9  concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; 10  concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; 11  concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.

12  “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. 13  When the Spirit of Truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.

14  He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you.

Observations and reflection

Note: This is part of the last conversation that Jesus had with his disciples on the evening of his arrest, and referred to the sending of the Spirit as teacher and helper in order to comfort his disciples.

  1. What names are attributed to the Holy Spirit in this teaching of Jesus?
  2. Jesus said it is better for his disciples that he leaves so that the Spirit would come to them. What is the advantage that the Spirit has over Jesus (for his disciples)? (v7)
  3. What activities/ helps are attributed to the Spirit in v8-11?
    1. Who gets “convicted of sin” – and how? (v8-9)
    2. Who gets convicted “righteousness” – and how? (v8, 10) [think and look carefully oat these verses…]
    3. Who gets convicted of pending judgment? (v8,11)
  4. What activities/ helps are attributed to the Spirit in v12-14?
  5. How does the Spirit relate to us? What can we expect as normative? (

Application and Prayer

Consider “The Spirit will convict [the believer] of righteousness”

  • What “righteousness” did Jesus refer to?
  • Have you experienced the Holy Spirit convicting you of righteousness before? How and where?
  • Thank God for the Spirit’s leading into Truth and leading into understanding of our righteousness in Christ.  Read through the list of your identity in Christ, and see what the Holy Spirit leads you to focus on, and mediate on that.

[With whom can your share this truth to encourage them today?]

Eternal Judgment 2

The aim of this devotional study is to grow in understanding of the permanency of eternal judgment.


Hebrews 9:27-28

Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.


1. Which phrases in the Text above highlight the permancy of the judgment of God when Christ returns?

  1. Read the text above again and identify the hopeful promise contained in this Scripture.

Reflection and Application

    • Why is man destined to die once?
    • Why will man appear before God as judge?
    • Why was Christ sacrificed once for the sins of many?
    • Why will each man appear before Christ when he returns?
    • Why does the text say Christ will bring salvation only when he returns?
  1. When you read “judgment of God”, do you have a negative or positive association? Why?
  2. This Text emphasizes the seriousness of our earthly lives and eternal consequences. What do you understand of “eternal judgment” (Hebrews 6:2) referred to in this text?  What do you expect to hear / receive from God’s eternal judgment of your life, should Christ return today?  Why do you think that way?


Consider the people you love and live with.  In light of the promised eternal judgment of God, pray with urgency for those who ignore or reject the graceful call of God to repentance.  And pray for a sober moment to plead with them to accept this generous offer of life in Christ.

Biblical Interpretation – Preparing your heart 3

The aim of this session is to cultivate a correct view of Scripture and to grow in an understanding of how to correctly interpret Scripture.

Look at this short Video link on “Accuracy and Reliability of Scripture” by the New York Apologists https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cWxwfFNyVws


2 Peter 3:1-18

1  This is now the second letter that I am writing to you, beloved. In both of them I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder, 2  that you should remember the predictions of the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior through your apostles, 3  knowing this first of all, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires. 4  They will say, “Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation.”

5  For they deliberately overlook this fact, that the heavens existed long ago, and the earth was formed out of water and through water by the word of God, 6  and that by means of these the world that then existed was deluged with water and perished. 7  But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly.

8  But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. 9  The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. 10  But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.

11  Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, 12  waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn! 13  But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. 14  Therefore, beloved, since you are waiting for these, be diligent to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace.

15  And count the patience of our Lord as salvation, just as our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, 16  as he does in all his letters when he speaks in them of these matters. There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures.

17  You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability. 18  But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.


  1. Peter had one major motive when he wrote this last part of his letter to the first readers. Summarize it in one sentence for yourself.
  2. There are several direct and indirect references to God’s Word / Scripture in this chapter, since it deals with the reliability of God’s promises. List these references.
  3. Peter addresses a specific erroneous argument of people who turn away from God in Christ in verse 4. Shortly write in your own words this erroneous argument, as well as how Peter corrects this error.
  4. Peter gives a few commands of holy living in response to Jesus’ pending return – list them.


  1. In this last chapter of 2 Peter, the author comfortably places the authority of God’s Creative Word (Genesis 1:3), history of Noah (in the book Genesis), the commands of Jesus (primarily found in the Gospels), the writings of the prophets (with specific reference to the destruction of the world and the New Creation) and apostles (mentioning Paul), and even the final Word of Judgment on equal footing – equating all these as the Word of God.
    1. What do you think when you read this statement?
    2. How do you feel about this statement?
    3. If this is true, how does it affect your approach to and regard of the Bible?
  2. If someone said to you today “It has been 2000 years since Jesus ascended into heaven. He said he will come back soon, but I wonder if that is true. Do you think he will come back literally?” Remembering Peter’s second letter, what will you answer him?
  3. Peter urges his readers to a life of holiness and deliberate growth in the knowledge and grace of Christ. Write down what the Spirit is pressing on your heart in response to this call.
  4. Peter writes that Jesus is coming soon, and he will judge the world – we will either be found in him and live, or the ungodly will be destroyed. When you read this text, who are you concerned about?  What will you do about it?  When?


Look at your application points and pray through each point as your heart responds to the leading of the Holy Spirit.