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set apart for the gospel of God

Romans 1:1 (ESV)

1 Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, …


What does it mean to be set apart?

It calls to mind holiness: being made for an express purpose; separate from the everyday and mundane.

To see it as an honour and a privilege rather than a burden.

And the gospel?

Well we know that’s the good news about Christ Jesus: His birth; His life; His crucifixion; His resurrection; His ascension.

But this gospel needs to be shared.

It’s no use keeping this good news to ourselves. It should be shouted from the rooftops. Proclaimed to all: ‘ … the wise and the foolish.’ (1:14)

If we, like Paul, are to be true ‘servant[s] of Christ Jesus’ (1:1) then we too need to ‘live by faith’ (1:17) as we promote the gospel.

To see it as our God-given role as Christians rather than the responsibility of only a select few.


prayer : help me to embrace my role as a servant of Christ Jesus as I too promote (and proclaim) the gospel

action (New Year’s resolution): develop the habit of a more consistent prayer life

quietness (조용함)

Ecclesiastes 4:6 (ESV)

6 Better is a handful of quietness than two hands full of toil and a striving after wind.


Quietness. 조용함.

The loud clamour of a busy schedule often gets in the way of some quiet time with the Lord our God.

A chance to talk to him.

To ‘meditate’ on His word (see Psalm 1).

And in so doing to simply sit at the feet of Jesus and ‘listen to him’ (Matthew 17:5).

Yet how sad would it be if in ‘[hearing] the word of the kingdom [we did] not understand it’. (Matthew 13:19)

Or we ‘… [receive] it with joy but then ‘when tribulation or persecution arises … [we fall] away’. (Matthew 13:20f)

Or that we allowed the ‘cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches [to] choke the word’ thereby making it ‘unfruitful’. (Matthew 13:22)

Working our butts off without a prayerful dependence on God our Father is doomed from the outset.


prayer : help me Lord to meditate on your word day and night

action : find a quiet place to spend time with God, free of distractions and disturbances

wondrous (놀라운) works

Psalm 105:2 (ESV)

2 Sing to him, sing praises to him; tell of his wondrous works!


Wondrous. 놀라운. Amazing. Awesome.

Words seem so inadequate to describe the works of God.

For God ‘created the heavens and the earth’ (Genesis 1:1) and ‘made all things’ (Isaiah 44:24).

But this refers not just to His creation but to His ‘deeds’ (Psalm 105:1); His ‘miracles’, and His ‘judgements‘ (Psalm 105:5).

Our role as His people is not a secret: we are to ‘tell of his wondrous works‘, to ‘make known his deeds’. (Psalm 105:1)

In our gathering as His body, the Church, we should ‘sing praises’ that do just this.

Songs not so much about us but about Him.

Have we lost this sense of awe?

Are we so wrapped up in ourselves that we fail to wonder at His grace and mercy and steadfast love?


prayer : thank God for His wondrous works

action : sing His praises loud and clear

God will judge (판사)

Ecclesiastes 3:17 (ESV)

17 I said in my heart, God will judge the righteous and the wicked, for there is a time for every matter and for every work.

Judge. 판사.

It’s nice to think that when we stand before God we will be considered “good enough”. Certainly better than other people because we’re not as bad as them. Thus, we conclude (wrongly) that we will escape God’s judgement (Matthew 1:24) and His wrath (Romans 1:18).

However, further on in the Book of Ecclesiastes the writer explains that ‘… there is no one on earth who is righteous, no one who does what is right and never sins.’ (7:20) The Apostle Paul also makes this abundantly clear (see Romans 3:9-20).

Jesus Himself foretold of a day when He will come and ‘[separate] the sheep from the goats’. (Matthew 25:32)

All will be judged! (Acts 17:21) It is naive to think otherwise.

Yet it is not the result of anything we do. Quite the contrary, it’s entirely the work of Jesus: His death; His blood; His resurrection.

Only those who are God’s sheep, following Jesus the Shepherd (John 10:11, 14, 16), will be found justified (Romans 3:24)

Let me repeat that: ‘… no one will be declared righteous in God’s sight’ through their own works. (Romans 3:20)

Only by faith (Romans 3:28), through the shedding of ‘the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect’ (1 Peter 1:19) will we be found innocent.

It’s pretty black & white.

Where will you stand on judgement day?


prayer : thank you that you are a God of justice and mercy

action : confess my sinfulness daily, thankful that Jesus, my Saviour, has paid the price of my rebellion against God

eternity (영원)

Ecclesiastes 3:11 (ESV)

11 He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.


Eternity. 영원.

The concept of eternity can be quite overwhelming.

Our minds are so small, so focussed on the temporal, that ‘no human mind has conceived the things God has prepared for those who love him.’ (1 Corinthians 2:9b)

And yet this offer of ‘eternal life’ is freely given. A wonderful ‘gift of God’ (Romans 6:23)

Deep down we suspect it to be true. The question is: “Will we put our trust in Him?”

The alternative?

Eternal punishment’. (Matthew 25:46)

That is our lot if we reject Him. If we choose not to follow Him.

After all, He is our sovereign Lord whether we accept it or not. But will we invite Him to be our Saviour?

All God asks is for us to quite simply ‘”Repent and believe the good news!”‘ (Mark 1:15): that Jesus Christ is the Son of God (Galatians 2:20); who ‘died and rose again’ (1 Thessalonians 4:14); and is now ‘seated at the right hand of God.’ (Colossians 3:1)


prayer : thank you for the simple truth of the gospel and it’s saving power

action : share this truth with others

darkness (어둠)

Ecclesiastes 2:14 (ESV)

14 The wise person has his eyes in his head, but the fool walks in darkness. And yet I perceived that the same event happens to them all.


Darkness. 어둠.

To be completely blind is actually quite scary. Stumbling around with no idea of where one is or where one is going.

Yet I don’t think we consider the impact of our spiritual blindness.

It’s as if we’re ignorant of our own blindness. Like we don’t know any better.

But how good is it to see a light in the dark. The hope and joy it brings is indescribable.

We are told by the Apostle John that Jesus is the ‘true light, which gives light to everyone‘ (John 1:9) and that this ‘… light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.’ (John 1:5)

What good news!

His death was not in vain but in fact defeated ‘death forever’ as prophesied. (Isaiah 25:8)

We would do well to be wise and not foolish.


prayer : thank you for Jesus, the light in the darkness

action : shine as a light in this dark world (Philippians 2:15)

mercy (자비)

Psalm 103:8 (ESV)

8 The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.


Mercy. 자비.

What a wonderful thing it is when we are shown mercy.

It’s completely undeserved. Unearned. Unwarranted.

The fact that the mighty creator of the universe, the sovereign King of all things great and small, can be so kind is mind-boggling.

And yet, despite our sinfulness – our continued rejection of Him – ‘… God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ …’ (Ephesians 2:4-5a)

Wow! Alive with Christ!

Let that just sink in for a moment.

We were dead. But now we’re alive.

How could you not be thankful?


prayer : thank you for the mercy you have shown towards me, a sinner

action : share this truth with at least one person today

vanity (허영)

Ecclesiastes 1:2-4 (ESV)

2 Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher, vanity of vanities! All is vanity. 3 What does man gain by all the toil at which he toils under the sun? 4 A generation goes, and a generation comes, but the earth remains forever.

Vanity. 허영.

It’s such an interesting word and yet according to the ESV footnote the original Hebrew term hebel refers to a “mist, vapour, or mere breath.”: something “fleeting or elusive”.

It makes you wonder what the point of it all is when our lives are so short; so transitory; so finite.

We work our butts off as we ‘toil under the sun’ (v.3). But where does it get us in the end?

The good news is: there’s more to life than this.

That although our lives on earth may be considered temporary, as Christians, we have a greater hope: the promise of eternal life. (John 3:16)

Eternity spent worshipping our Creator. The One who breathed the very life into us. (Genesis 2:7, Acts 17:25)

Yet how can we be so sure?

Because Jesus didn’t simply die ‘… on a cross, but God raised him from the dead on the third day …’ (Acts 10:40)

So while a life lived for ourselves – our own selfishness and pleasures – may be vanity, a life lived trusting in Christ, His death and resurrection, is of infinite value.


prayer : thank you that your gracious gift of eternal life does not rest on my own merit but on what Christ did ‘once for all’ (Romans 6:10) on the cross

action : pray for those who do not know Christ but reject His will for their lives


Luke 1:1-4 (NIV)

Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us, just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eyewitnesses and servants of the word. With this in mind, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, I too decided to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught.

It’s a great thing to have certainty.

And it would appear Luke, the author of this Gospel account, has done everything in his power to help Theophilus (and us) to be as sure as we possibly can about the ‘things that have been fulfilled’.

Firstly, Luke tells us that others have done the same, writing down what they too have seen and heard, thus providing corroborating evidence (see Matthew, Mark & John).

Secondly, Luke points out that the information provided comes from first-hand ‘eyewitnesses’; people who can be trusted.

And finally, Luke himself has undertaken an exhaustive investigation: ‘carefully’ and ‘from the beginning’.

He has been most helpful in putting together such an ‘orderly account’.

And so we would do well to pay attention to what he says because it involves matters of life and death.


prayer : thank you Lord that we can have such certainty because of Luke’s work

action : point people to this and the other gospel stories, encouraging them to investigate the claims made by Christ for themselves

mighty works and wonders and signs


Acts 2:22 (ESV)

22 “Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know— “

There it is again. The word: mighty.

It first popped up in the Book of Acts in reference to the coming of the Holy Spirt: ‘a mighty rushing wind’. (Ac 2:2)

Then in reference to the Holy Spirit testifying about God the Father: ‘the mighty works of God’. (Ac 2:11)

And now in reference to Jesus of Nazareth: the ‘mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him’. (Ac 2:22)

Turning water into wine. Healing the sick. Feeding the thousands. Calming raging storms. Raising the dead to life.

Yep. All of them seem mighty to me.

Interestingly they are all linked to God. They are divine works. And their purpose is to glorify God.

Although they all pale in comparison with Jesus Himself rising from the dead.

Now that’s mighty.


prayer : thank you for your mighty works and wonders and signs that point us to your divinity

action : ‘Sing to the LORD, bless his name; tell of his salvation from day to day. Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous works among all the peoples!’ (Ps 96:1-2)