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Pastoral Exhortation - Series of 2011

Friendships That Lead To Backsliding

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Christians ought to remember that their relationships can be either helpful or detrimental to their spiritual life. In the Scriptures, there are clear warnings against relationships that can lead to the spiritual backsliding of God’s people. There are also many stories of friendships which hinder the spiritual progress of believers, even wrecking their spiritual pursuits for very long periods.

It is a good thing to have many friends. But God’s Word sounds strong warnings against entering into friendships with people who are ungodly, because they will bring great temptations to Christians. In Proverbs 13:20, we have a good example of such biblical caution - “He that walketh with wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed.” The word “fools” refers to those who detest God’s wisdom, truth and instructions. Likewise in Ephesians 5:3-7, we are exhorted not to be companions of those who live in ungodliness: “But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints; neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks. For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience. Be not ye therefore partakers with them.”

Proverbs 4:14-15 cautions: “Enter not into the path of the wicked, and go not in the way of evil men. Avoid it, pass not by it, turn from it, and pass away.” Proverbs 24:1-2 teaches us: “Be not thou envious against evil men, neither desire to be with them. For their heart studieth destruction, and their lips talk of mischief.” In the words of the Apostle Paul: “Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners” (1 Corinthians 15:33).

Even in the church, we must be careful about forging close friendships with certain types of people. There are those who live in sin, engage in unwholesome conversations, wear immodest clothes, cherish worldly behaviour and enjoy carnal entertainments. We must avoid joining them and learning their ways. Paul wrote to the Thessalonian believers to avoid those who walked disorderly in the church: “Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us… And if any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed” (2 Thessalonians 3:6 & 14).

Bad friendships corrupt not only our character but also our beliefs. The Apostle Paul illustrates this truth in 2 Timothy 2:16-18 – “But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness. And their word will eat as doth a canker: of whom is Hymenaeus and Philetus; who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already; and overthrow the faith of some.”

Nowadays, we see many young persons being influenced by worldly and materialistic men who appear as Christian pastors and teachers, but teaching unscriptural doctrines, even heresies. The Scriptures forewarn that in the last days, a great number of people will be influenced by such false teachers. “And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of” (2 Peter 2:2). “For when they speak great swelling words of vanity, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through much wantonness, those that were clean escaped from them who live in error. While they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption: for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage. For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning” (2 Peter 2:18-20).

 

 

Ethiopian Mission Report by Pastor Koshy

 

Last Thursday, close to midnight, Bro Stephen Yap, Bro Gan Chin Hwi and I flew from Terminal 1 of Changi Airport to Ethiopia. Eld and Mrs Mah Chin Kwang, Dn Lok Kwok Wah and Bro Francis Lee came to the airport to pray for the mission team and send us on our way.

Our journey to Ethiopia was very arduous as we had to bear with the delay of the plane from Dubai to Ethiopia and its rerouting through Entebbe, Uganda. It took us 25 hours to get to Ethiopia instead of the usual 12 to 13 hours. Though we were very exhausted, the Lord in His great mercy sustained us throughout the journey and safely brought us to Ethiopia. We were warmly received by Rev Ephrem, Bro Engida and Bro Imane.

On Saturday, we set out to see the construction of the church and Bible college in Alem Gena. We already knew that the construction work has fallen behind schedule by almost a month. Upon our arrival, we realized that there were more problems than just the delay. Due to heavy rain, there was flooding in the construction site. Bro Gan, a structural engineer, also noticed that the work has not met the standard that we have expected. Mr Gan then discussed in great detail with the contractor and the site engineer on how to rectify the errors and to improve their work.

On Sunday, we worshipped the Lord with our congregation in Addis Ababa. There were about 35 worshippers, and I preached from Zechariah 4. In the afternoon, I met with our staff workers and encouraged them in the work of the Lord. We took time to prayerfully consider various steps to further the Gospel efforts in Ethiopia. In the evening, the mission team met with the families of our full-time workers for a Chinese dinner. During dinner, we continued with our discussion on the steps to be taken to speed up the construction of the buildings. We have decided that in order to complete the work within this year, we need to engage two or three contractors instead of just one. Each one of them will be given a building to construct on condition that he finishes the work in the next three months.

On Monday, we met with the present building contractor and the site engineer, and informed them of our decision. We praise God that they were agreeable, and promised to do their best to complete the work.

Meanwhile, Bro Stephen Yap and Rev Ephrem have searched for a hotel for the accommodation of the participants of the Missionary Conference. We thank God that the Lord has provided a good hotel at a reasonable cost.

Brethren, we have to pray earnestly for God's special mercies that we may complete the project as soon as possible. The material cost and labour charges have skyrocketed due to severe inflation, resulting from devaluation of the Ethiopian currency. Hence, we need to pray for more funds to complete the project.

I call on you to come and pray every Tuesday night with fasting, until the project is completed. "By His grace, we will!"

 

Pastoral Exhortation