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Pastoral Exhortation - Series of 2011

Good Tidings of Great Joy To All People!

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Blessed Christmas!

Let us rejoice for the incomparable
gift of God, the Son of God, our
Saviour and Lord, Jesus Christ,
who was born for us in the little
town of Bethlehem.

May Christ be always magnified
in Gethsemane Bible-Presbyterian
Church, where the Lord has joined
us all together to serve Him.
Come, let us worship Christ,
the Newborn King.

Love in the truth,

Your Pastor

 

Good Tidings of Great Joy To All People!

 

At the birth of Jesus Christ, the angelic announcement was – “Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people” (Luke 2:10).

Who can have the great joy promised at Jesus’ birth? The angel announced that the joy is to “all the people”.

Does that mean every individual who lived on earth? Certainly not. It certainly does not mean "universal salvation". The Bible does not teach salvation of all men. In fact, the Bible tells us that some will reject Christ and His salvation, and thus be damned into eternal suffering of hell.

The joy of salvation is to all who would come to Christ by faith. He saves all sorts of people, from all sorts of backgrounds. There is no racial, national, social or gender discrimination. There may be many kinds of distinctions and discriminations in this world but none of them excludes us from the saving grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.

He saves males and females, children and old folks, the rich and poor. He also saves criminals and police officers, religious hypocrites and atheists as well as Africans, Indians, Chinese, Europeans, Jews, and all alike, if they would come to Him in repentance and faith. Jesus came to give hope of salvation to sinners in every realm of life.

We praise God that our church can truly celebrate this wonderful aspect of the Christmas message. We come from many nations, races and backgrounds. Our ministries are extended to people in all sorts of situations. Let us as one people of God from everywhere, being saved from of our sins, praise our Saviour today.

We must also renew our dedication to indiscriminate preaching of the Gospel everywhere, for this is the will of God. We must dispel any unhappiness that remains in us against global Gospel outreach. We must not be like the OT prophet Jonah who was very displeased that God wanted to forgive the evildoers of Nineveh. We, as God’s people, must reflect God’s impartiality. Jonah even went so far as to say to God, who had just relented from judging the Assyrians who repented, “Therefore now, O LORD, take, I beseech thee, my life from me; for it is better for me to die than to live” (Jonah 4:3). Would you rather die than see God’s saving work and will even reach out to exceedingly wicked evildoers who repent in our day? Remember that the Gospel birth announcement of the angels was sent to “all the people”.

Let us renew our minds and rededicate ourselves to preach the Gospel to “all men”. That will be a very appropriate and solemn way to celebrate Christmas!

3rd Missionary Conference Testimonies

 

Elder Mah Chin Kwang

I thank the Lord for the opportunity to attend the 3rd Missionary Conference in Alem Gena, Ethiopia, from December 6 – 9, 2011, together with my wife, Lean Choo and daughter, Melissa. All praise to the Lord for the very comprehensive teachings on worshipping the Lord climaxing in worshipping Him together with brethren from Ethiopia on the Lord’s Day, December 11, 2011. I count it a double blessing to have witnessed the inauguration of the Gethsemane Bible Institute, Ethiopia, during the Worship Service.

The Lord was gracious to me in keeping me from feeling unwell throughout the week despite the long journey travelling to and from Ethiopia, the somewhat cool weather and the unfamiliar food. I was able to adjust to the time zone difference and changes in food and surrounding rather quickly, and benefited much from the preaching of God’s Word by His servants. I thank the Lord too for giving me the opportunity and helping me in sharing the Word and leading in prayer on Monday evening right after the long journey, leading the singing on two separate days and in joining the Choir to sing to the Lord.

Holding the week-long Missionary Conference together with the Sunday Worship Service at the site of the Church and Bible Institute in Alem Gena amidst building structures that were still in the process of being constructed was a new experience to me, as was probably the case with other participants. Praise God too for keeping everyone safe from injury despite all the construction work going on and the exposure to the construction materials lying around.

I truly thank the Lord for a successful Conference that was made possible only because He was with us, and working through all His people, many behind the scenes, in ensuring that everyone remained safe, healthy and comfortable. I praise the Lord too for the patience and forbearance of brethren throughout the week even when certain things did not go well or meet their expectations. May the Lord be exalted for all He has done.

Indeed, how I ought to hearken to the Psalmist’s exhortation, “Give unto the LORD, O ye mighty, give unto the LORD glory and strength. Give unto the LORD the glory due unto his name; worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness” (Psalm 29:1-2).

 

Mrs Mah Lean Choo

Psalm 103:1-2 “Bless the LORD, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name. Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits.”

Two weeks before departure, I suffered a bad headache and had to consult the doctor to change the prescription of my usual high blood medication. The doctor advised me that if the new medication did not suit me, it would be replaced by another medication, in which case it was not advisable for me to travel. Thank God the medication proved effective and I was able to travel with all the participants to the Missionary Conference. However, on arrival in Addis Ababa, a short walk after lunch from the restaurant to the hotel made me a casualty to the high altitude of the city. I fainted mid-way to the hotel but recovered through God’s provision of helpful brethren. By God’s grace and mercy I was able to participate in the Conference with good health in the days that followed.

I was much blessed through the preaching of the Word by faithful servants the Lord has provided in Gethsemane B-P Church, Singapore, the Philippines and Ethiopia. The daily devotions by our preachers and mission reports also spiritually enriched and encouraged me to be faithful and fruitful. Worship of the Almighty, Triune God is central to the Christian’s existence on earth, even more so when we get to heaven one day. The messages preached provoked me to think about my worship of the God Most High and the One I call my Redeemer and Lord. I am cautioned against paying lip service and displaying outward forms of worship that are unbiblical. I am reminded that each time I enter His throne-room, it must be with a heart that is sanctified, genuinely devoted to give glory to His Name and in reverential fear because He is holy.

I am thankful also for the opportunity to fellowship with some familiar faces in Gethsemane B-P Church of Ethiopia from my first trip 5 years ago during the inauguration of the Church. It was a time to encourage one another in the work of the Lord and to see how the Lord has been faithful to preserve and extend the work thus far.

“Who redeemeth thy life from destruction; who crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies” (Psalm 103:4).

 

Bro Ho Kee How

Thank God for the unexpected opportunity to go to the great land of Ethiopia to attend our church’s 3rd Missionary Conference in Dec 2011. Incidentally, this was the third time I’ve been to Africa. The first 2 were mission trips to Kenya (in 1998 and 2000 respectively), where Pastor Koshy had a longstanding association with Rev Kendagor in Kessup and Rev Mark Kim of BCEA in Nairobi. Though I’ve always longed to go back again to visit (especially with my increased family), the door was not opened as whatever mission trips planned had always fallen outside the school holidays. This missionary conference seemed to be the perfect timing. But affordability being the issue then, I decided to forego this trip without hesitation. That is, until the Thanksgiving Service on the last day of the FEBC exams. To cut the story short, Pastor informed me that love gifts had just come in, making it possible to procure 2 more air-tickets for Bro Donald and me. Thanks be to God for this pleasant “post-exam” surprise!

The conference theme of “All Nations Shall Worship the LORD” was an apt one. As the chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever (not just on earth), which entails unending, unwavering and unreserved worship of God, focusing on this topic is most pertinent. In our day and age, church worship services have become entertainment business, pandering to much worldliness and sensuality. What a far cry from the sober approach to the infinite, eternal and unchangeable God for forgiveness and for fellowship in OT times through animal sacrifices. And then, only the priests could represent God’s people to proceed into the Holy Place; and ultimately only the high priest could enter the Holy of Holies (where the presence of God is) once a year! Alas, today there’s no solemnity any more. I fear much of our (including my family’s) worship, if it remains status quo, would not be acceptable to God though we now have direct access to God’s throne of grace by virtue of Christ’s substitutional atonement. Simply because we have not drawn near “with a true heart” being “sprinkled from an evil conscience” (Heb 10:22). The long and short of it all is, we neglect to view public worship of God as a grave, reverential privilege and our highest duty. Let us be admonished and may God have mercy on us.

This trip affords us a firsthand view of the highlyanticipated Ethiopian project. Although what met our eyes was rather disappointing to behold (as several buildings were not fully up yet), we were nonetheless stirred by the zeal and faith of Rev Ephrem and his Ethiopian co-labourers. Thank God for giving them the vision and burden for a church and Bible institute for the furtherance of the Gospel and the training of faithful men/women for God’s service. We must continually pray for God’s special favour for the completion of the “work-still in- progress”.

Let us not despise small beginnings, for our God is a God of humble beginnings. Just think of the nation Israel that began with one man who forsook homeland and kinsmen for an as yet unidentified land – Abraham. Or consider Israel’s best-loved/ most successful king – David – who began as an unknown and unnoticed shepherd-boy, whom (in the LORD’s time) was taken from following the sheep in the sheepfold to be set as ruler over God’s people, Israel. Not forgetting also the NT church (which “turned the world upside down”), which began with 11 frightened disciples assembling behind closed doors for fear of the Jews. Just like a grain of mustard seed (which is the least of all seeds), but when grown, it becomes a great tree (with great branches) providing much shelter and shade for the birds of the air (Matt 13:31-32).

Our prayer is that the Ethiopian Church and Bible Institute, though humble in beginning like that mustard seed, will grow and flourish in God’s immaculate time. To God alone be the glory!

 

John and Katherine Peh

Psalm 22:27 – “All the ends of the world shall remember and turn unto the Lord: and all the kindreds of the nations shall worship before thee.”

This is the text from which Pastor Koshy preached on the final day of the 3rd Missionary Conference, during our Sunday worship in Alem Gena, Ethiopia. And oh, how this truth resonated throughout the conference! Participants of this conference came from Ethiopia, India, Korea, Malaysia, the Philippines and Singapore to give praise and honour to the Lord. Though not every nation and every kindred was present in this conference, it was indeed a foretaste of the heavenly worship when our Lord Jesus comes again.

I thank the Lord for giving Katherine, Marcus and me the privilege to join the 3rd Missionary Conference. We have gained and learned much from this conference. Before I came to Ethiopia, I have always thought that it is a hot and an arid place. But to my pleasant surprise, the weather is actually very cool and nice.

The conference has opened our eyes to see the need of missions in this great continent and thus the need of a Bible college to train capable men so that they may be grounded in biblical truths. In this regard, we certainly need more teachers of the Word. There are also many churches in Ethiopia, most of which are essentially idol worshippers, giving honour and glory to ‘saints’ rather than to our Lord. Satan is always hard at work to prevent the spread of the pure Gospel. Rev Ephrem had shared how difficult it had been for our brethren in Ethiopia to get the change of use for the land in Alem Gena to build the Bible college. But thanks be unto God that now, not only was the application approved but also those corrupt officials who had once obstructed the work of the Lord were all thrown into jail for many other corruptions they had committed. This is surely the Lord’s work.

We were also greatly encouraged when Rev Eben Yoon and Brother Joshua Yong gave their mission reports, especially on the ministry of the Bible College of East Africa. They have outreaches in many parts of Africa. Rev Eben was in tears when he gave his report, for he was overwhelmed by the thought that God has made use of unprofitable servants like him to do His great commission.

It is also my prayer that Gethsemane Bible Institute in Ethiopia will be a place where mighty men will be trained to reach out to different parts of Africa. We need committed and faithful men to do this work. Brethren, do pray for God to raise godly men for His work. Katherine and I thank God that we, the unprofitable servants, also have a small part to play in this great work. This is truly an honour and blessing from God sent through Gethsemane B-P Church. All praise and glory be unto God. Amen.

 

Marcus Peh

Worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness”. Truly, I’ve learned many things during the trip. Before I joined this missionary conference, I was reluctant to attend this trip. I was only thinking about the weather - how it is like over there and the food - whether it is appetizing. But by God’s grace, I quickly shook off this mindset, and said to myself “I should not be thinking about all these, I should be fortunate to witness God’s work by attending this conference!” When we arrived at Addis Ababa, I was rather excited to see the Chapel, whether everything was ready yet. Unfortunately, it wasn’t. But still, I wasn’t disappointed even though it has not been completed. I would still praise thy name Lord, for thou hath brought us thus far to see thy great work!

When we arrived at the church site, the people there welcomed us with great hospitality; we got to know one another as we sat down for lunch and had fellowship. During sermon breaks, Yoseph, Rev Ephrem’s nephew, would bring me around the church area. As I walked along, I felt that we are very fortunate back in Singapore, having seen how difficult life is for the workers and people over there compared to Singapore. I also want to thank God for both Pastor Koshy and Pastor Ephrem who preach on “How to Worship the Lord”. Indeed, many modern churches do not know the importance of worshipping the Lord. After listening to all those messages, I hope that there will be an opportunity for me to share with my charismatic friends on the topic of a worship that is acceptable to the Lord.

During the last message of the trip, Pastor Koshy mentioned that whatever your background, you would still be able to preach forth God’s Word. Pastor Koshy then called out to those former drug addicts to stand up. Rev Reggor, Pr Jeremiah, Pr Kelvin, Pr Daniel, Bro Jerah and Pr Edsel all stood up. At that moment, I thought to myself, “God is gracious, God is good. These men came from a drug background but now they are standing firm on the Lord’s Word.” As Pastor ended his message, he asked those Ethiopian brethren that are willing to give up their lives to serve the Lord to step forward. Thank the Lord for 6 brethren who are willing to serve the Lord.

Thank God that I was able to attend this conference. I pray that the Lord would continue to bless the church in Ethiopia and in time to come, the 6 brethren who are willing to give up their lives for the Lord would be of good use for His work as in Psalm 1:3 which says: “And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not whither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.” All Glory be unto his name!

 

Ruth Low

I praise the Lord for the missionary conference which God has given me the opportunity and provision to attend. I thank Him very much for the humbling experience and the warm fellowship of the brethren. But what was most meaningful to me was the spiritual revival God has brought into my heart. The conference theme was on worship. When learning about vain worship and having worship as my highest duty in life, I felt very ashamed of my sins, especially my lukewarmness towards God. Rev Ephrem mentioned that if we are not doing what we are created to do, then we are living a wasted life. I do not want to live a wasted life. This has been my conviction for a long time. I had not rendered to God the proper worship I ought to, for worship is not about mere outward expression, but truly it is a matter of the heart. So while I thank God for the work He is doing in the physical aspect of the building project, I pray that all who would worship and study in the chapel and college will be true worshippers who “worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him” (John 4:23).

Another spiritual benefit I have received from the conference was the missionary reports. I was encouraged by the missionaries who labour so happily and faithfully in the mission fields, particularly Rev Eben Yoon (a Korean) who was invited to the conference, and has been in Kenya for many years. He seems so zealous and joyful in the work God has given him to do in the teaching and preaching to the Africans in BCEA . Indeed, it takes a lot of faith and courage to serve full-time with one’s family in a foreign land, and yet I trust that those who do the will of God, regardless of how tough the work is, will receive His abundant blessings of peace, joy and fruitfulness.

May God continue to bless all His servants, even Rev Ephrem and his team in Ethiopia, and the work to be accomplished there, that all may flourish in time to come to the glory of His name.

 

Pastoral Exhortation