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Pastoral 2016

Christians’ Mutual Communication

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God’s people are not expected to live an isolated life. They are expected to live in mutual fellowship. The Word of God encourages them not to shun one another, but to readily and regularly communicate with one another. Being stirred in the heart by the Holy Spirit, they crave for mutual society. Furthermore, they don’t hanker after the company of ungodly people with whom they have little in common.

In Psalm 66:16, a child of God says to his fellow saints, “Come and hear, all ye that fear God, and I will declare what he hath done for my soul.” The audience that a child of God would seek are those who fear God. What would be the subject of conversation when God’s people meet? The social talk of His people should always focus on the goodness, mercies, righteousness and truth of God that they have come to know and experience. It is the solemn duty of God’s people to communicate to one another the blessings which God has conferred upon them.

They call out to others, saying, “Come and hear… I will declare what he hath done for my soul.” Lovers of God are willing witnesses of God’s greatness and graciousness. There is no need to coerce them to tell of His wonderful works. They volunteer their confession of God. Out of the abundance of the heart, their mouth declares His goodness towards them.

The godly ones are anxious to convey their spiritual experiences to others. They are eager to rehearse the Lord’s goodness and truth to all those who are desirous to hear them. They are least interested in frivolous conversations of fiction, scandals, gossips, etc. They take notice of God’s wondrous truths and deeds, and relate them carefully and joyfully to their fellow believers.

Urgent Call for Prayer!

Pray for the protection of our Ethiopian missionaries, brethren, churches and GBI. Rev Ephrem says, “Dear Rev Koshy, Greetings in Christ’s name. There has been unrest in our locality. Pray for us, please. Yours, Ephrem.”

We must be not only ready witnesses but also ready hearers of the testimonies of God’s people. When others tell us of what the Lord has done for them, we must hear and give glory to God. Listening to accounts of grateful children of God will increase our faith and devotion. Such testimonies are also worthy of imitation. We should never conceal from other brethren the goodness and truth of the Lord that have been manifested to us. Let no shyness or timidity hinder us. If you cannot delightfully talk of God’s saving grace and His bountiful mercies, how can you hope to enjoy them all through hereafter?

Has God done something good to your soul? Then give thanks to God. Come prepared to give a short testimony (of no more than 3-5 minutes) at the Tuesday night prayer meeting. Let me know by noon on Tuesday (by email or SMS or WhatsApp) if you would like to testify of His goodness, so that an opportunity may be arranged that night when we gather for prayer. ■

 

Testimony of Trials
Nguyen Trang Thanh (Misty)

The Lord has graciously saved me and brought me to Gethsemane to worship and serve Him in Feb 2012. I would like to share the following testimony in the wake of my recent trials of life:

We all have different tolerance levels to pain and suffering. What is most uncomfortable or intolerable to one, may be ‘just a cup of tea’ to another or vice versa.

For the last two months, the Lord sent two “visitors”. The first one came in the form of a series of physical sicknesses. One after another came vomiting, high fever, infection, constant fatigue day and night (both at home and at work), whether awake or asleep. I dread to be so tired and sick all day, so I prayed that they would all go away soon, but they didn’t. Nevertheless, I thank God for being given several days of MC, which not only helped me to have physical rest, but also time for reading. Through this experience, I have also learned to be more appreciative of His goodness when my health was restored. Like David’s testimony in Psalm 41:3, “The LORD will strengthen him upon the bed of languishing: thou wilt make all his bed in his sickness”, I also became confident that God will heal me.

The reason why those physical sicknesses so severely impacted me is because for the last 8 years of my stay in Singapore, I never became so sick until the point I needed assistance and visit from my friends. I even cried out loud like a child in front of the doctor. Nonetheless, the Lord has taught me many things, including certain impressive insights about the hospital system here in Singapore.

The second “visitor” whom the Lord sent was my emotional sickness. I must say that this was not a new “visitor” - rather it has been “overstaying” for a few years and would not leave me alone. Though I prayed daily for it to go away, it wouldn’t. Soon I learned that my prayer was wrong. Such trials and temptations are not always meant to vanish quickly. Instead of it going away, I must flee from it to the Lord. Now I understand David’s prayer in Psalm 143:9, “Deliver me, O LORD, from mine enemies: I flee unto thee to hide me.”

Those two “visitors” conspired to produce “tears”! In the past, tears were only shed on my bed, in the quietness of the night. Nowadays, they can come even early in the morning. Tears roll down my face when I am typing emails, when I am on the move (in bus, MRT, car), when I talk to friends, etc. This made me all the more cherish the promise of Revelation 21:4 - “And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.” I used to focus on the words “no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither … pain”, and frequently prayed for my departure from this miserable world, the earlier the better. That prayer was out of a selfish heart, and not because I loved to be in Christ’s presence. However, this present experience of “tears” taught me to pray with a new desire for His eternally joyful presence in heaven. So, I have learned to value the tears, for they caused me to yearn for the presence of Christ and heaven.

Please do not find it strange and laughable that I say that I treasure tears, sorrows, sufferings, and pain. Haven’t we Christians all known this truth in the Word of God? Consider the following verses:

“How that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality” (2 Corinthians 8:2).

“That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:7).

Gethsemane Defenders’ Ministry

“Battle for the Bible”

This month, Gethsemane Defenders’ Ministry will be holding two lectures (23 & 30 October) in conjunction with this year’s Reformation Sunday.

Reformed and Presbyterian churches traditionally observe Reformation Sunday on the last Sunday of October, marking Martin Luther’s nailing of his 95 theses on the church door in Wittenberg, Germany. The 16th century Reformation was indeed a battle for the Bible, and one of its battle cries was “Sola Scriptura” (Scripture Alone).

Knowing the history of the church will enable us to be informed and better equipped Christians for the spiritual battles of our time. So please plan to attend.

 

23rd October (1.30pm – 3.30pm)
“16th Century Battle for the Bible”
  by Andrew Koh

30th October (1.30pm – 3.30pm)
“21st Century Battle for the Bible”
by Prabhudas Koshy

“Beloved, think it is not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange things happened unto you: but rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy” (1 Peter 4:12-13).

I believe that though Christians should not be actively seeking for troubles and pain, neither should they, like the rest of the world, deliberately avoid tears and sorrows. “Sorrow is better than laughter: for by the sadness of the countenance the heart is made better. The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning; but the heart of fools is in the house of mirth”, so says wise Solomon in Ecclesiastes 7:3-4. Of course, we should not focus on tears and sorrows, in contradiction to the divine command to “Rejoice in the Lord alway” (Philippians 4:4a).

During my sickness, brothers and sisters in Christ and my close friends visited to encourage me, and I feel thankful and unworthy of such care and love. I consider friends and fellow Christians as channels of blessings and means of God’s love towards me. However, unless and until my God has privately, personally, secretly and uniquely visited me, I will not feel satisfied “even if the person I like most in this world visits me”.

One sentence from Spurgeon that I remember always is: “God created trials so that we may feel them. Unfelt trials are not trials after all.” Therefore, my brothers and sisters in Christ, I beseech you not to be embarrassed or troubled about your tears, sorrows and pain. Cry when your trials are felt, but do not forget God’s statutes. Smile and praise Him as soon His comfort and presence is experienced. God be with all of us as we go through all the trials of our lives.

 

 

Pastoral Exhortation