Post Camp Day 1: Carrying God’s Presence by Relying on Him Life Lesson from King Nebuchadnezzar
As ruler over Babylon, King Nebuchadnezzar took all the credit for his kingdom’s splendour & allowed pride to control his heart. As the story goes on however, we understand that the game of tug of war finally came to an end, when King Nebuchadnezzar finally acknowledged God’s sovereignty in his life. In contrast to another character in the very same book, Daniel’s life depicted obedience to the voice of the Lord even during the toughest of situations. Daniel’s life was flourishing with blessings and anointing from God because of his reliance on the Lord. King Nebuchadnezzar himself witnessed Daniel walking out from the burning furnace untouched, because God’s Presence was with him. Reliance on God comes from an established trust in His unwavering character. The more you know and experience God’s consistent love for you, the more you trust Him. The fact that I know these experiences reveal God’s heart for me and His best plans to love and prosper me, it makes me less afraid of entrusting my life to Him. When King Nebuchadnezzar was left with nothing but God, these were the words of surrender that came from his lips “And at the end of the time I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted my eyes to heaven, and my understanding returned to me; and I blessed the Most High and praised and honoured Him who lives forever.” Similarly, I recall many incidences in my life where I struggled with God like King Nebuchadnezzar before I finally submitted to His will, and also many where I took a leap of faith to trust in Him upon hearing His first whispers. And there’s one lesson I’ve gotten out of all these experiences – God is trustworthy and consistent. He doesn’t decide what’s going to happen in your life today based on His current mood, or which side of bed He woke up on. And thus I can always look back to remind myself that even till the day that I’m old and wrinkled, I can still trust and rely on God every day, to the best of my abilities. In life, there are some instances give me a simple green light to go ahead. While others take me nights of struggling with God before obeying. Maybe today you know that God is simply nudging you to take a step of faith to love someone, or maybe God is challenging you to be truthful about certain areas of your life. It may be huge struggles, or simple steps, but you’ll never know how much God can work until you try!
Reflection Station: Are there areas where the Holy Spirit is prompting me to rely on Him in? How can I be consistent in relying on God?
Post Camp Day 2: Carrying God’s Presence through Forgiveness Life Lesson from Joseph
Read Genesis 37 & 45 In Genesis 37, we understand that Joseph, the second youngest of all of Jacob’s sons, was also his favourite. Joseph’s brothers were envious of him. Upon hearing a dream, all of them were furious and decided to come up with a secret plan to kill him. Before we know it, Joseph was stripped off his big fancy coat and thrown into the pit. Instead of killing him, Judah, one of his older brothers, however suggested that they sell him so that technically, they would not be charged of murder. And so they did – for merely twenty pieces of silver. Joseph was sold for twenty pieces of silver! That’s like trading your life for a piece of chicken nugget! Joseph was almost faultless in this situation and had no good reason to be sold or put to jail for a crime he did not do. Yet we will learn that in the later part of Joseph’s life, he chose to forgive his brothers. What helped Joseph to have the capacity to forgive, was his understanding that he was first forgiven by the Lord. Joseph recognised that he was a sinner himself, even though his brothers wronged him. He recognised that there were times in his life where he was in the shoes of his brothers and had made many mistakes in life too, but God still forgives and gave Joseph chances to repent and change. This then, was the reason why Joseph could forgive his brothers. Hurt people end up hurting other people. But even with all the hurt that Joseph experienced, he was humble enough to guard his heart against the possibility of letting it multiply into bitterness. Joseph was a great example of God’s grace in our lives. There was no reason for Joseph to forgive his brothers, but he did so because he experienced God’s presence in his life in the past, and he knew that God would forgive him if he were in their shoes.
Reflection Station: What are some situations where I have sinned against God, but God has forgiven me for? How can I translate this forgiveness that God has given to me, to people who have hurt me?
Post Camp Day 3: Carrying God’s Presence through Giving Life Lesson from the Widow
Matthew 25:44-45 44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’ 45 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’ Mark 12:41-44 41 Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. 42 But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a few cents. 43 Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. 44 They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.” Giving should not only be restricted to the monetary or physical sense, many a times what God challenges us to give is beyond physical, it involves our mind, energy and even emotions. A question that we should reflect on is that, would we be willing to give when challenged to? One of the greatest lessons I learnt about giving really is this: no matter what you do you will never be able to out give God. However let’s not be deluded about the importance and of giving. Often times, we associate giving as JUST the offering of our pocket money week in and week out, but really that is not the truth. Giving very often times also refers to the giving of our time, efforts and energy as well. And the Bible reminds that it is more blessed to give than to receive. One of the finer illustrations that present this truth was when I heard that the only way for our hands to receive is when we let go what was initially there. Sometimes I, am very much like children holding too tightly to my toys, so much so that i forget that my Father have greater treasures installed for us. So….. would you rather hold onto your Nokia 7250 or a Iphone 5S? (but of course God have much greater installed for you than just a Iphone 5- His life-giving Presence). So let’s learn to surrender our insecurities, resources and problems to God in exchange of the ‘good and perfect gifts’ (James 1:17) God has in stored for us!
Reflection Station: How does the assurance of God’s Presence enable me to be more giving? What are some areas that I can learn to give to God more in?
Post Camp Day 4: Carrying God’s Presence through Child-likeness Life Lesson from King Solomon
Matthew 18:3 And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. 1 Kings 3:7 “Now, Lord my God, you have made your servant king in place of my father David. But I am only a little child and do not know how to carry out my duties. Do you recall the little kids you see running around your neighbourhoods screaming and chasing after one another, sometimes even awaking you from your maiden sleep invoking thoughts in you of screaming at them? Yet God wants us to be just like little children. Ever wondered why? Well as ignorant and despicable little children might sometimes appear to you, yet when we were young, innocence played a huge role in our lives as much as we can be rather irritating too (sorry to burst your bubble of what a little angel you were). But do not be mistaken, innocence is not the same being ignorant and unaware of what is going on around us; as a matter of fact the innocence that Christ challenged us to display really is that of how a child displays it by having complete trust in his parent’s directions for him and unconditional love provided for him at every junction of his life. Innocence really is caring little about the things around us and simply just having faith and enjoying God’s Presence around us. Jesus wants us to have unwavering faith, obedience and trust in Him and His plans for our lives, much like how that is how a child’s believes in his parents. This is the kind of innocence Christ is looking for- one that has completes trust and belief in Him.
Reflection Station: Can you think of more reasons why God appreciates Christ-likeness in our lives? How can we practise trusting Christ more in our lives just like a child?
Post Camp Day 5: Carrying God’s Presence by the Renewing of Our Minds Life Lesson from Josiah
Romans 12:2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. 2 Kings 23:4 The king ordered Hilkiah the high priest, the priests next in rank and the doorkeepers to remove from the temple of the Lord all the articles made for Baal and Asherah and all the starry hosts. He burned them outside Jerusalem in the fields of the Kidron Valley and took the ashes to Bethel. In 2 Kings 23:4, God instructed Josiah to remove all form of idol worship in his kingdom to prevent the ruin of Jerusalem. Josiah obeyed almost immediately and removed the idolatry from the kingdom under him and removed all that was not God-honouring. Similarly today, God wants us to renew our minds in Him and rid our lives of any idols which occupy our hearts and mind. When Christ emphasized on the renewal of our minds to remove what is sinful and unpleasing to Him and to replace it with what is godly renewal, what it means is to simply take hold of our thoughts to replace thoughts like jeaously, insecurities and grudges etc. to make space for godly attributes such as patience, kindness and forgiveness. Only then will we be able to experience God’s heartbeat for His people and the depth He designed for us to do so. We are Christians who happened to be in this world not the other way around.
Reflection Station: How does a renewal of our minds bring us closer to Christ? What are some areas in us that we want to ask God to help us in renewing our thoughts in?
Post Camp Day 6: Carrying God’s Presence by Finding Strength in Christ Life Lesson from Paul
Isaiah 40:31 but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. Philipians 4:13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength. Doing God’s work, is never easy and no one mentioned it will be, but God did promise His Presence that provides strength at every step, with every prayer and decisions made, His grace is more than sufficient. Let’s relate this back to apostle Paul’s life as a Christian, Paul probably has numerous obstacles and frustration in his ministry that likely was more intense than us, being jailed and flogged- some experiences that is hard to imagine Put Paul’s hardship aside, we all are mini Paul doing ministry with our own personal struggles as well. Sometimes our efforts don’t seem to pay off, or the results don’t seem to satisfy us. We face problems in our relationships, shepherding and even with our lifegroups. Suddenly at certain point these problems overwhelm us and we feel imprisoned by them, drained physically, emotionally and probably spiritually as well. So at this point is where faith plays its biggest role, knowing that God will tide you through the season even when it is the most painful . Beyond just a declaration knowing that Christ will give us strength when we need it most, we must acknowledge that faith knows that there will always be the light at the end of the tunnel. Faith is after all, believing in what is unseen and that is where we draw our strength from, running not as one aimlessly but with the prize of eternity in our minds. Lest we forget the star shine brightest when the sky is the darkest, what role would faith play if there were never obstacles in our lives? So let’s learn to draw strength from faith knowing God is in control of the greater picture even when we can’t see it. We do, in the end still serve an all-powerful God.
Reflection Station: In this season of your lives, what are some things you need to draw strength from God in? What are some areas of our lives where we can apply these truths to help us be the star that shines for God?
Post Camp Day 7: Carrying God’s Presence through Good Works
Ephesians 2:10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Every time I go to the beach one of the key objective ironically as a guy, is to build a sand castle. To me the beauty of a sand castle standing out amidst the flat white sands of the beach has is simply an impressive sight. But many a times my sand castle ends up being swallowed up by people’s insistence on destroying it and my own incompetence as a sand castle builder. I always end up building a castle that looks like it went just through the 3rd world war. Though believe me it is in my truest intention to make it the finest and most amazing sand castle anyone would ever be able to see. But you know God is not like that, he envisioned all of us to be amazing people who does amazing works for his kingdom and unlike me he is not just perfect, he built us all perfectly for His purpose and His kingdom. No builder would ever start off creating something he wouldn’t be proud of and whether you believe it or not, God is could not be more proud of you as His creation- sons and daughters. Simply put you are God’s Creation and there is nothing you can do to make Him loves you more nor love you less. We are all built to be able to magnify His glory with the various gifts that we have, and know that there is not gift that is bigger or smaller since gifts are like puzzles, coming together to form the beautiful picture of God’s kingdom. We are all created for good works closely dependent on one another. As how the Bible describes it in 1 Corinthians 12 , many parts play different roles but all for the purpose of serving one body. So start discovering your gifting and serve one another with whatever little you have.
Reflection Station What gifting do you have and how are you able to use it to serve God’s kingdom? What steps can we take to develop and be good steward of these gifting?
Post Camp Day 8: Carrying God’s Presence through a Hunger for Growth Life Lesson from Jacob Read: Genesis 25:19-34 God had revealed to Isaac’s wife, Rebekah that she will soon give birth to two sons who will represent two nations, one stronger than the other. When Rebekah delivers, Esau is born first and is extremely hairy. Jacob, who is smooth skinned, is born immediately after, grabbing the heel of his brother. Isaac’s two sons grow up to be opposites. Esau is a hunter and a brash man. Jacob stays at home, soft-spoken but quick-witted. One day, Jacob was cooking some stew, Esau came in from the open country and said to Jacob, “Quick, let me have some of that red stew! I’m famished!” Upon seeing Esau in such a vulnerable state of mind, Jacob, the younger son, grabbed the opportunity. Jacob replied, “First sell me your birthright.” “Look, I am about to die,” Esau said. “What good is the birthright to me?” But Jacob said, “Swear to me first.” So he swore an oath to him, selling his birthright to Jacob. Then Jacob gave Esau some bread and some lentil stew. He ate and drank, and then got up and left. The difference between the two was that Jacob saw the value in the birthright even when he didn’t have it. He set his eyes on it and desired for it since young. Whereas his older brother, Esau, had full ownership but despised it, saw little value in what God has blessed him with and took it for granted. To Esau, the bowl of soup was worth more than his birthright at that point of time, and thus traded it away easily. In our modern context, what Esau did was like trading his entire house for a hamburger only because he hasn’t eaten all day. Sounds ridiculous isn’t it? But that was exactly what Esau did. And sometimes we do too, not houses or hamburgers, but we trade the greatest treasures in the Kingdom of heaven that have been given to us, with temporal things of this world like achievements, validation and acceptance from others. Jacob on the other hand, had a constant spiritual hunger that treasured what was of value to God’s Kingdom. Spiritual hunger keeps us away from complacency. It brings us to place of understanding that we constantly need more of God’s Presence. The more we experience Him, the more we can’t afford to settle for less. When you’ve experienced God’s presence, don’t trade it for something that will satisfy your tummy for the next 2 hours and leave you empty for the rest. Guard it, treasure it, and continue to grow that hunger daily. Reflection Station: What are some areas in my life that I might have grown to become complacent about in my relationship with God? How can I guard my relationship with God to ensure that I don’t end up trading my relationship with God for any other things?
Post Camp Day 9: Carrying God’s Presence through Commitment Life Lesson from Elisha
Read: 2 Kings 2 Elisha was tested by God several times on his willingness to stick by Elijah on his journey to multiple destinations, even though Elijah’s time on earth was short. And each time he was tested, he replied “As surely as the LORD lives and as you live, I will not leave you.” From the day God called Elisha, he was ploughing with oxen, and never hesitated to follow. Elisha dropped his tools and went on to bid his parents farewell upon knowing that he has been called to take over Elijah. On his way back, Elisha did a very interesting thing. He takes the pair of oxen that he was using and he kills them and boils their meat using the oxen equipment to fuel the fire. Then he gives the meat to people around him to eat. By doing so, Elisha is making sure that there was nothing for him to come back to. His tools were destroyed and his animals were gone. With these things gone, there would be no temptation for him to return back to his old way of life. Basically, he was putting his past behind him, so that he could focus on his new life with Elijah. I’m sure some or most people have struggled with seeing the value of giving up our commitments for God’s Kingdom at a certain point in time. Our fear lies not in the decision of giving up, but in the uncertainty of its result. The reason why Elisha could so readily let go of all he had to follow Elijah was because He understood that it was a call from God Himself and had an anchored assurance in His unwavering character. That surpassed other distractions or obstacles because it was a confirmation from God and allowed him to see the eternal value of giving it all up. Following God is not an easy task, it requires all that we have and do not have, surrendered to Him. God takes our commitment seriously, not because He is asking for too much from us, but because He took us very seriously and demonstrated His utmost commitment to us when He gave Jesus up even unto the cross. Matthew 16:24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.
Reflection Station: What are some areas of commitment that I struggle to give up in order to follow Christ? What can I do to remind myself of the value of following Jesus?
Post Camp Day 10: Carrying God’s Presence through Compassion Life Lesson from Jesus
Read: Luke 10:25-37 I’m sure we’ve all heard of the Parable of the Good Samaritan. In this story Jesus illustrates the true meaning of the greatest commandment – Loving your neighbour as yourself. We see a contrast in the indifference expressed through the priest and the Levite, as compared to the compassion of the Samaritan, towards the beaten and robbed man. And of course after reading this, we all desire to be the Good Samaritan that helped the man up along the street. However as I was reading the passage again and meditating on it. I asked myself how many incidences I could recall being in the shoes of the first two men who walked pass, either ignorant or indifferent. It dawned upon me again that Jesus’ idea of compassion didn’t just lie within the image of physically needy people, like the man on the road. Which in today’s context might be the old lady selling tissue paper for a living along the road pavement, or even a handicapped man busking along the underpass. More than that, the many times where my spiritual eyes fail to sense the needs of my neighbours, were those who appeared with the strongest fronts, or even loudest voices. The people that I had closest proximity and crossed frequent paths with. In my takeaway from this passage, I understood what Jesus was telling me. Needy souls are everywhere to be found and I need not look to the streets to find a broken heart, but all who are distant from Him need His love. Thus He has sent us to be a bridge between the two. It is because I have experienced the greatest measures of God’s love that I can then give it to others, regardless of background, situation or personality. Matthew 25:35-40 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
Reflection Station: After experiencing God’s love, are there any people in my life that I still find difficult to understand or have compassion on? How can I take a step of courage and compassion, to help others in experiencing God’s love?
Post Camp Day 11: Carrying God’s Presence through His Empowerment Life Lesson from Gideon
Read: Judges 6:1-11 The nation of Israel was in deep trouble because of their decisions to take things into their own hands and walk away from God’s ways. So because of this, God reminded His people onto remembering Him by throwing them into the hands of the Midianites, kind of like, tiny us facing a bunch of huge sumo wrestlers with no obvious means to win them, and the battle begins. And in order to be delivered from this situation, God needed to use someone. And of all people He picked Gideon, the humble farmer. In today’s context, Gideon will most likely not be a valedictorian or head councillor, neither will he be a natural, charismatic leader. Yet Gideon’s very first responses to God’s divine call in the Bible were “Pardon me, my lord, but how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family.” He knew that there was no way in all his human strength that he could accomplish what God wanted him to. Gideon had doubts that God was well, trolling him. The beauty about God’s Kingdom lies in the fact that it differs from that of how the world works. God absolutely loves using through our strengths and also through our weaknesses. It’s sort of like His signature move. It brings us to a point where you’re so sure that it can’t be anything else but God. It can’t be me or my skills, but only God’s power through me. God empowers us through our weaknesses. Ever felt that you were lousier in certain skills, not as capable as others, or felt the weight of your limitations on your shoulders? Or maybe even felt that you weren’t up for certain challenges that God wanted to put you in? The turning point came when Gideon surrendered His weaknesses to God, in exchange for a partnership with Him. Gideon could have chosen not to be stubborn and rely on His own strength, but he did not. The LORD answered Gideon, “I will be with you, and you will strike down all the Midianites, leaving none alive.” Gideon replied, “If now I have found favor in your eyes, give me a sign that it is really you talking to me.” When we experience Him, we understand that in our limitations, there are many feats that we cannot accomplish, but He can. And when we truly understand and choose to rely on Him, it unlocks the doors of opportunities for us to be used by God. 1 Corinthians 1:26-29 Remember, dear brothers and sisters, that few of you were wise in the world’s eyes or powerful or wealthy when God called you. 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. 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. As a result, no one can ever boast in the presence of God.
Reflection Station: What are the areas in my life that I find difficult for God to use? What are some understandings I want to establish about Godâ€™s character in order to allow God to unlock my potential in Him?
Post Camp Day 12: Carrying God’s Presence through His Freedom Life Lesson from Paul
Read: Romans 6:1-14 As Paul writes, we are able to now live by the spirit and not of the flesh. No longer bounded by the chains of sin, but set free by the blood of Christ. As we live in a brand new life in Christ, we still sin, and struggle daily, but we can choose not to be bounded or tied down by it. The powerful thing about the blood of Christ is that it has the power to overcome the depths of all sin. That empowers us a whole lot and makes us no longer slaves of the law, because God lives in and through us. We don’t have to earn God’s acceptance by keeping His Law, neither do we have to observe religious rituals because these human efforts will all go to waste. When we simply put our faith in Jesus, He justifies us—he declares us to not be bounded only by guilty, but to experience freedom from sins in Jesus. And this is not because we have become righteous in our behaviour, but because through Jesus’ death he has paid the full penalty for all of our sins. But what constitutes a ‘struggle’? In reality, sin does not become a struggle unless we work towards its exact opposite – holiness. The term only comes about when we have decided to set our hearts apart for God and thus, making the eradication of sin in our life a constant battle. As humans, we’re all limited in our own ways. Somehow or another we experience the effects of these limitations on us in the form of struggles in sin. It might be struggles in fear, struggles in being honest, struggles with consistency, or struggles with discipline. And the list goes on. But God’s character is just amazing in the way that His abounding love stretches out and covers all multitudes of sin. When we understand how much God would still unashamedly give His love toward us even in our most sinful state, we then realise that there is freedom in that knowledge. It unlocks the chains that bind and gives us freedom to heal and grow in Him. Galatians 5:16-18 So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.
Reflection Station: Are there certain areas of my life that I have been in constant struggle for? How can I experience freedom from these struggles through my relationship with Jesus?
Post Camp Day 13: Carrying God’s Presence by Becoming a New Creation Life Lesson from Peter
2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! Matthew 16:18 And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. In the early days of my primary school education, I was introduced to a particular beansprout project. My entire class were given a beansprout seed, it was awfully tiny, dirty green in color and felt particularly military –like as I recall. Perhaps they just wanted to get us (the general male population) to embrace national service from an early age to cushion the mountains of complains and unhappiness that were to follow in the coming years. The objective of this project was to grow the seed into a healthy beansprout. Careful instructions were given by our teachers to buy a container, get cotton wool and to water it regularly. So I religiously watered it and grew it to a healthy plant, admiring my intelligence it was one of those few moments in life when I actually thought I was a genius even though thousands of students across the nation were doing the exact same project and were probably producing healthier beansprouts than mine. Our growth is similar to that of the beansprout as well, when we first came to know Christ, we were like the tiny seed. However after months of spiritual watering through the guidance of our shepherds, leaders along with the commitment to regular time spent in prayer, worship and reading God’s Word results in a healthy growing Christian . We slowly grow and mature into a healthy Christian as a result. Many of us become completely different people as well, better sons and daughters at home, better students in school and a much better friend to those around us as we apply the lessons of the Bible into our lives such as being patient, kind, generous and even obedient. Hence, becoming a new creation really is more than just a by-product of Christianity. It really is a testament of Christ’s realness in our lives. Gone is the old self and in with the new us, but let’s not be complacent, and remember that growth really comes with watering our lives spiritually on a regular basis. Similarly on the other hand just like how the beansprout will die without being regularly watered, our spiritual lives will die without regular devotion and worship to God as well. So remember water your spiritual lives well, it’s more important than the beansprout that our teachers entrusted us with in our junior days.
Reflection Station: How have I become a new creation since coming to know Christ? What are some ways for me in continuing to be transformed in by Godâ€™s Presence?