The Upside Down Kingdom

Title: The Upside Down Kingdom
Artwork by: YMI X Zach Stuef (@stuefcreative)
Description: The call to follow Jesus often means going against the grain of the culture that we are accustomed to. The world may tell us to put our own interests first, but Jesus says we are to look out for the interests of one another (Phillipians 2:4). Society says we are to follow our dreams for a fulfilling life, but Jesus says the opposite—a fulfilling life comes when we lay our lives down to follow Him (Matthew 16:25). Jesus radically challenges the pattern of this world, and with it, our realities of this earth. Making sense of His commands can be difficult, but it is worth pursuing.

Join us as we explore the challenges Jesus puts out for His followers, and glean the life-changing experience of living a life opposite to what the world offers.

 

Lose All to Gain All

But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ. (Philippians 3:7-8)

We are constantly on the look-out to gain all kinds of earthly pleasures; whether it be a new holiday experience, growing our social media presence and followers, or eating at the latest restaurants. But our frenzy to collect these temporal experiences, often leave us empty and dissatisfied, and could see us miss out on the One person who truly matters—Jesus. What are you chasing at the moment that has blinded you to Jesus?

 

 

Weak Made Strong

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. (2 Cor 12:9)

We are taught to be strong, independent, and self-sufficient. The idea of relying on others and celebrating our weaknesses can seem baffling. But with Jesus, it’s the reverse. Scripture says we are strong when we are weak. It is when we are at the end of our tether that the power of God shines through. When was the last time you asked God for His grace and strength to see you through a tough spot, instead of relying on your own?

 

 

The Last Will Be First

“So the last will be first, and the first will be last.” (Matthew 20:16)

We #humblebrag about our accomplishments, but a quiet satisfaction washes over us as we compare our standing to other people whom we perceive as lagging behind in their life. However, Heaven operates on a different system, and God doesn’t rank a person based on their hard work or social standing. Eternal life is available to all who accepts Jesus as their Savior, and cannot be bought with money or hard work. Therefore, let’s be careful about sizing people up based on where they are in life, knowing that we’re all equal in the eyes of God. Is there someone we have to stop judging?

 

 

Die to Live
Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. (John 12:24)

We are all dying to live longer in this world. We invest in healthy diets, read up on cancer prevention methods, and tick off our bucket list to ensure we have the most enjoyable time on earth. But are we aware of who or what we are really living for? Jesus laid His life down to redeem us from our sins, which shows His great love for us. It’s in His death that we are made alive. What fleshly desires do you have to put to death today to fully follow Jesus?

 

 

Give to Receive

In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive. (Acts 20:35)

 We feel loved, valued, and #blessed when we are showered with gifts or when people go the extra mile to help us with a favor. But Scripture’s view of feeling #blessed is that “it is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35). 

Giving requires a sacrifice on our part, but we’re able to do so because we have a generous Father who does not withhold any good gift from us (James 1:17), but supplies us with all our needs (Philippians 4:19). As we generously sow into the lives of others, they’ll see that God is our Provider, and there is no lack in Him. In what areas can you generously give to someone today?

 

 

Free from Sin, Slaves to Righteousness

You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness. (Romans 6:18)

We must carefully sift through the deluge of information the world offers on a daily basis. Because if we are not careful, we will find ourselves soaking in the views of the world and drinking in various earthly desires. And soon, we become ensnared by sin. The good news is, Scripture says we have been set free of sin, and that we are no longer slaves to this world, but to righteousness. We are now free to lead a life of purity, integrity, and virtue.  What sins of the world are you enslaved by that you need to break free from today? 

 

 

Humbled To Be Raised

Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will lift you up. (James 4:10)

The world says we are to raise ourselves up before men, which can lead to an overinflated ego and a perverse sense of self-worth. We want to win arguments, are reluctant to back down from our opinions, and refuse to be the first to apologize. However, the opposite is true in God’s eyes. He values a spirit that is humble, teachable, and moldable, and when we humble ourselves before Him, that’s when He will lift us up (James 4:10) What can we do today to humble ourselves before God?

 

 

Losing Life To Find It
Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it. (Matthew 10:39)

It is perplexing to think that we have to first lose our life in order to gain it. But that is essentially what is required of us the moment we accept Christ’s offer of salvation. We enter His Kingdom as new creations, shedding our old life in the process. The initial period of realizing we have been set free can leave us on a high, but as time passes, with trials and tribulations, are we still as excited about following God as we were when we first accepted Him? Or have we allowed worldly worries and troubles to cloud us from seeking the Kingdom’s true treasures? 

 

5 Ways To Do Christ-centered Friendship

Title: 5 Ways To Do Christ-Centered Friendship
Artwork by: YMI X Barbs Jenjaroentham (@barbsiegraphy)
Description: 
We are made for friendships. True friends are with us in the midst of our difficulties, intercede for us when we are too worn down to pray for ourselves, and gently point us in the correct direction when we end up straying too far from the path. Building intentional friendships, especially one that is modeled after Christ, requires the sacrifice and investment of time, and can sometimes seem a little inconvenient. But despite its costs, it is worth sowing into friendships that will last the mile. How deep does your friendship go? Follow us as we look at what makes for a Christ-centered friendship.

 

Let us try initiating deeper conversations that matter with our friends. We could go beyond the generic, “How are you?”, and instead ask our friends about how their spiritual lives or their quiet time with God is going. Sincere questions like these can bring about a deeper bond as we encourage each other in our spiritual lives. Scripture says we are not to look out after our own interest, but also the interests of each other (Philippians 2:4), and conversations like these allow us to do just that.

 

Be a friend who is willing to offer practical help. Too often it is easier to text a sick friend, “Get well soon. Rest up”, but wouldn’t it be lovelier if we showed up with a food parcel for our friends to see them through the week?  It isn’t always easy to find the time in our busy schedules to add in an hour or two to visit a sick friend, or to sacrifice our weekend to help a friend move house. But actions speak louder than words, and nothing says we care more than putting in some elbow grease to help a friend out. Scripture says two are better than one, because if one of them falls down, the other can help them up (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10).

 

We are constantly encouraged to “follow our hearts” in whatever we choose to pursue. But what happens if the direction chosen is leading us, or our friends, down a destructive path? In times like these, would we be brave enough to gently steer our friends back on the right path with the gospel? Similarly, would we be open to taking advice from friends who are concerned about our welfare, even though it may be uncomfortable? Scripture says the wounds of a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses (Proverbs 27:6). Receiving and giving advice may not always be comfortable, but true friends will always have each other’s best interest at heart.

 

Friendship requires honesty, but too often we have found ways to skirt around issues that are troubling us. It is also easier to pretend things are going 100% well when in truth it isn’t. Perhaps the fear of being seen as “less-than” have compelled us to hold back from telling the whole truth in the presence of our friends, or perhaps we are afraid our stories will get repeated elsewhere. However, friendships that are genuine, honest, and open allow us to share our vulnerabilities without worries. Let us actively work on cultivating friendships like these, where we can come together with our shortcomings, hold each other accountable, and remember each other in prayer (James 5:16).

 

Sometimes it can feel like we don’t quite know how to respond to our friends’ situation. Maybe we haven’t gone through what they are experiencing, or we do not want to say the wrong thing that would further hurt them. Words may fail us, but we can pray alongside our friend, who might be too worn out to pray on their own. Ultimately, we know that none of us can solve each other’s problems, and prayer acknowledges we have a God who is able to do far more than we ask or think (Ephesians 3:20).

That’s My Dad!

Title: That’s My Dad!
Artwork by: Paulina Sangar (@caramel_art) X YMI
Description: 
Fathers come in all shapes and sizes. Some are loud and funny, while others are sporty and adventurous. Your father might embarrass you at the supermarket, or he could be someone who makes you proud . . . Regardless of what kind of father you have, what’s most comforting is to know that we all have a perfect Heavenly Father who lavishes His love on us and calls each of us His child (1 John 3:1).

As you take time to honor and celebrate your Dad this Father’s Day, let’s also remember what a privilege it is to be called a child of God, and thank Him for that.

 

He is incredibly proud of his dad jokes. A day is never dull with your dad, and some of his jokes are so cheesy, you wish he would keep them to himself. But alas, he loves socialising so you can guarantee he will be telling his dad jokes to your friends when they come around your house. Your friends think he is a riot, and you secretly love his jokes (you will never admit this to him though). But these dads aren’t just for fun jokes, when you are down in the dumps, you turn to them for a comforting hug, or a word of advice that will have you smiling in no time.

 

Your adventurous dad made you sign up for cub scouts the moment you started school. In fact, he has also set eyes on the local football club you could be part of. A fan of sports and the great outdoors, your dad can be found attending outdoor games, or could be found fishing, hiking or camping. Your weekends with him are spent discovering new trails to hike, or revisiting your favourite ones. He might be rough and rugged, but under it all is a big softie, and you appreciate the bear hugs he dishes out when life gets a little gnarly.

 

You think you know your food, but your dad trumps you in this department. While you may be filling your Instagram with your latest food, your dad is flooding WhatsApp group chats with pictures of his favourite breakfast, or the delicious noodles he discovered at a new restaurant. He loves long-distance driving – not to the great outdoors, but to try the food at that newly opened cafe. If he isn’t critiquing food, he is creating his own in the kitchen with you as his guinea pig. Fortunately he is not just about food though, and when life gets a little uncertain from time to time, you appreciate his little food for thought anecdotes about life to get you through the rocky road that is life.

 

Maybe your dad has disappointed you in the past, or you never really had a dad you could be proud of, or your dad has passed on. But there is a perfect Father in heaven who lavishes His love on you, and calls you His child (1 John 3:1). His love for you outrivals any love your earthly father can give. Let us turn to God today and bask in the everlasting and unconditional love He has for us.

 

The Sweet, Everlasting Promises of God

Title: The Sweet, Everlasting Promises of God
Artwork by: Jolene Cheng X YMI
Description: 
Sweet treats can be incredibly hard to resist, from chocolates with creamy inner-fillings, refreshing minty gums, to fruit-flavored candies. These candies are an absolute delight for a quick pick-me-up or for snacking in the movies. Like these sugary treats, God’s words are sweet to the soul, and are a great pick-me-up when life tastes like a roll of Sour Tapes. His words fills and sustains us. But unlike these sugary treats, His words last longer than any fix our favorite candy gives us. Let’s dive in today to His words. It is the sweetest survival kit to life.

 

Disclaimer: These images are for learning and discussion. They are not sponsored or endorsed by any of the specified brands.