“See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, Redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is.” (Ephesians 5:15-17)
The LORD’s instruction to Moses and the Israelites concerning the building of the tabernacle is recorded in Exodus 25:1–9. It was one of the passages for my family’s devotion last week. Some significant lessons that I have learned are shared in this article for the benefit of our congregation in our effort to complete the renovations of the newly purchased Gethsemane Media Centre at 33 Ubi Crescent.
First, please read the record of the Scripture—”And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, speak unto the children of Israel, that they bring me an offering: of every man that giveth it willingly with his heart ye shall take my offering. And this is the offering which ye shall take of them; gold, and silver, and brass, and blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine linen, and goats’ hair, and rams’ skins dyed red, and badgers’ skins, and shittim wood, oil for the light, spices for anointing oil, and for sweet incense, onyx stones, and stones to be set in the ephod, and in the breastplate. And let them make me a sanctuary; that I may dwell among them. According to all that I shew thee, after the pattern of the tabernacle, and the pattern of all the instruments thereof, even so shall ye make it” (Exodus 25:1–9).
The LORD, who made the entire universe and all that are therein out of nothing (ex nihilo), commanded His people, the children of Israel: “bring me an offering: of every man that giveth it willingly with his heart ye shall take my offering… And let them make me a sanctuary; that I may dwell among them.”
Does the One who says that “the world is mine, and the fulness thereof” (Psalms 50:12; cf. 24:1-2) need any man’s contribution to build His house? Why would He ask His people for their offerings to build His house? Why wouldn’t He perform a miracle, just as He had made the world out of nothing?
Scripture provides an answer through King David’s response to God upon his son Solomon being chosen to build the temple. 1 Chronicles 29 provides us with the answers – “Thine, O LORD, is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty: for all that is in the heaven and in the earth is thine; thine is the kingdom, O LORD, and thou art exalted as head above all. Both riches and honour come of thee, and thou reignest over all; and in thine hand is power and might; and in thine hand it is to make great, and to give strength unto all. Now therefore, our God, we thank thee, and praise thy glorious name. But who am I, and what is my people, that we should be able to offer so willingly after this sort? for all things come of thee, and of thine own have we given thee” (vv. 11-14).
To be given the responsibility to participate in the building of God’s house is a splendid opportunity to express our gratitude for all good things He has provided. We possess nothing that God has not provided. All that we have in our possession is not ours, but God’s – “for all that is in the heaven and in the earth is thine… Both riches and honour come of thee… and in thine hand it is to make great, and to give strength unto all… for all things come of thee…” As the apostle Paul asked, “what hast thou that thou didst not receive?” (1 Corinthians 4:7). This humbling question teaches us that when we can give anything to God’s work, we are just giving Him what is already truly His. We are just custodians of His things, that we may return to Him when He commands. We are just like a child who says to his father, “Dad, may I take ten dollars from your wallet to buy you a birthday gift?” When the father permits and the child brings the birthday present to him, both rejoice and the father is pleased with the child’s present.
When David collected all the offerings which the people willingly gave, he said, “O LORD our God, all this store that we have prepared to build thee an house for thine holy name cometh of thine hand, and is all thine own” (1 Chronicles 29:16). Oh, how true are the following lines from George Matheson’s hymn, “O Love That Wilt Not Let Me Go”!
I give Thee back the life I owe,
That in Thine ocean depths its flow
May richer, fuller be!
When we consider the things that God, through Moses, had commanded the Israelites to give, we will marvel at how God had made them wealthy though they were slaves for 400 years in Egypt. The list of things God asked of them to offer include gold, silver, brass, blue, purple, scarlet fine linen, goats’ hair, rams’ skins dyed red, badgers’ skins, shittim wood, oil for the light, spices for anointing oil and for sweet incense, onyx stones, stones to be set in the ephod and in the breastplate of the priests, etc. God first enriched them with these things, and only then, did He command them to give.
What great honour God bestows upon His people, that they may be builders of His house! We are unworthy to be enlisted for such a glorious task for His praise and purposes – “But who am I, and what is my people, that we should be able to offer so willingly after this sort?”
When we give to the LORD’s work, we have nothing to congratulate ourselves. We give only because God has filled us with things that we could not have made on our own. If God has not graciously guided us in His work and blessed us with things for His use, we could not have given.
About 15 years ago, the Lord moved us to give willingly for the Church Resource Centre (02-08, 510 Geylang). Then the Lord directed us to raise funds for the church and Bible Institute buildings in Alem Gena, Ethiopia. Now again, the Lord has given our congregation the honour of giving for Gethsemane Media Centre at 33 Ubi Crescent. The more we give, the more humbled we should become, knowing that it is His gracious provision that enables us to give. Let us give willingly as God commands in His Word, saying: “Of Thine own, of the fullness that Thine own hand has provided, we now give to Thy house. Let us praise God for the honourable task of contributing to the building of His house! Every opportunity that the LORD gives to His people to participate by giving willingly to His work, is a task we must gladly welcome.”
Dear Pastor Koshy,
Greetings in the name of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ!
We thank God for His help in enabling us to finish another semester of teaching and learning in GBI, India. Exams are scheduled for the last week of this month and students are currently preparing for it. Last semester, two full-time students and two part-time students took classes. We offered courses on Theism, Bibliology, Zechariah, Westminster Standards and Theology of Prayer. Most of the students had difficulty in following the lessons and doing the assignments, as they are not proficient in English. But they are trying their best to do well for the upcoming exams.
Through contacts of the current students, some new students have shown interest in joining GBI for next semester, starting in July 2019. May God guide them as they plan to study God’s Word.
Recently, we started a Bible Study cum prayer gathering in Gethsemane Bookroom on Monday evenings. GBI students and some friends have been joining the meetings. We are going through the Book of Ephesians and spending time for prayer during those meetings.
God willing, we are planning to have a Sunday English Worship service in the Bookroom premises from first week of June onwards. Please pray that the Lord will bring His children to sit under His feet to learn and grow in Him.
We are thankful for the prayers and support extended for the work here. May the Lord richly bless the church with all spiritual blessings and physical provisions. We are praying for God’s continued provisions for the urgent needs of the church in Singapore, especially for the funds needed for the renovation works of the new premises.
Our church’s ministry has always been filled with many needs and struggles. But we have been driven by those dire situations to seek God in prayer and declare our confidence in the counsels and promises of His Word. Exodus 15:22-27 shows us, through the experiences of Israel and Moses, that our extreme experiences of awful anxiety, terrible bitterness, as well as deadly gloom will be opportunities for God to cheer us and show His magnanimous provisions for our delight.
Since Israel left Egypt to follow Moses, they were brought into one trouble after another. As soon as they reached the Red Sea, they were entrapped by the chasing Egyptian army of Pharaoh between the mountain ranges and the sea. The people were perturbed and murmured. But the Lord delivered them by parting the Red Sea and then drowning the Egyptian army by bring the waters upon them. After that nerve-racking situation, “Moses brought Israel from the Red sea, and they went out into the wilderness of Shur; and they went three days in the wilderness, and found no water” (v. 22).
Moses was leading the people through a path ridden with problems, which neither the people nor he could resolve or overcome. They trekked three days through the arid wilderness of Shur with no water to quench their thirst. At last, they found water in a place called Marah, but even then “they could not drink of the waters of Marah, for they were bitter” (v. 23). Apparently, the water they drank was not only distasteful but also deleterious, for later we read of the LORD’s promised healing to the people who drank the water of Marah (cf. v. 26). What a predicament it was that the thirsty ones could only find unsavoury and unhealthy water for consumption!
As a leader, Moses could not have done any better in leading the people. He did exactly what the LORD had directed. Those puzzling predicaments they faced along the way were all ordained of the LORD. Moses’ greatest concern was to be faithful to God’s directions, rather than making people happy and comfortable. He led the people according to God’s instructions, though unpleasant and unacceptable to the people. God’s voice was greater in his soul than the protests of His people.
A true spiritual leader is first and foremost a servant to God. He obeys the will of His God, and not the people’s. His greatest concern is God’s instructions and not people’s likes and comforts. In God’s kingdom, the government is not by the people. Instead, people yield themselves to be governed by God’s will. A leadership totally given to God’s authority is, to so many people, unsuitable, unpragmatic and unbearable. Like Moses, all spiritual leaders (be they husbands, fathers or church leaders) must take their stand with God who ordains them in their leadership role, and then exhort and guide the people by His Word. People’s unhappiness or objection should not deter them from their insistence in going forward as the Lord commands. Patient endurance of trials and forfeiture of comfort, pleasure and even our very life are expected as we follow the LORD’s will. Remember Jesus words – “Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me” (Mark 8:34).
People’s protests got louder and louder. “And the people murmured against Moses, saying, What shall we drink?” (v. 24). They were not just expressing their grievances to Moses, but were murmuring against Moses. It must have been very disheartening for Moses. Even though the predicament they faced was not due to Moses’ mistake or misjudgment, they were angry with him.
Moses responded to the crisis with prayer. “And he cried unto the LORD” (v. 25a). Prayer was Moses’ only solution to the people’s tumultuous rising against his leadership over the lack of drinkable water. He must have prayed not only that God will help to calm the people’s revolt, but also provide for their thirst. The great masses of Israelites appear to have forgotten to pray in their need. Instead of praying, they foolishly murmured in protest. But Moses was wise; he waxed strong in prayer and overcame both their need and revolt through prayer. He trusted the Lord in this time of need and distress.
Brethren, the right response in the hour of great need and trouble is fervent prayer. Let us not be weary to pray. How happy should we be to have a God to go to in time of trouble! His ears are not heavy that He cannot hear, nor His hands shortened that He cannot deliver us! Like Moses, we must be confident in the grace, power and faithfulness of God to make good the promises He has made to us.
The Lord heard Moses’ prayer and pointed out to him a particular tree that was to be cast into the bitter water in order to sweeten it. “The LORD shewed him a tree, which when he had cast into the waters, the waters were made sweet” (v. 25b). A question has been asked as to whether the tree inherently possessed a sweetening property. As it is, we have no information about the tree possessing such a natural property. The most significant fact is the miraculous change of taste and quality of water. Just think of how much water was purified to speedily provide for 600,000 thirsty men, their wives, children and cattle. It must have been a large collection of water for so many. What an abundant, astounding provision!
The Israelites, even with Moses as their leader, had no skill to meet their necessities of the hour. But “the Lord showed … a tree” to turn the bitter water into a sweet, refreshing spring. A great trial was thus transformed into a great blessing. The bitter water was converted into sweet water, which was a divine work of provision. Brethren, human wisdom, earthly philosophies and the world’s resources are all unsuited and useless in the midst of our desperate needs in the service of God. God can make the grievous situation that we face into a gracious opportunity for His wonderful provisions. If we patiently wait in faith and prayer, He will change our burdens into blessings.
Moreover, there at Marah, God “made for them a statute and an ordinance, and there he proved them” (v. 25c). After trying His people with the lack of water, He admonished them by His word, that hereafter they should submit themselves more obediently to His commands. If they obediently hearken to His commandments, it would be well with them. If not, they must expect to be chastised and afflicted by Him, as it was mentioned in v. 26: “If thou wilt diligently hearken to the voice of the LORD thy God, and wilt do that which is right in his sight, and wilt give ear to his commandments, and keep all his statutes, I will put none of these diseases upon thee, which I have brought upon the Egyptians: for I am the LORD that healeth thee”. With these words, the Lord confirmed His purpose in their predicament, which was to test and teach them, that they must not be disobedient or rebellious but be submissive followers of His will.
A still greater provision awaited them. When they moved forward as the LORD required them through Moses, He provided for them even greater joy and blessing: “And they came to Elim, where were twelve wells of water, and threescore and ten palm trees: and they encamped there by the waters” (v. 27). Indeed, Egypt’s bondage was heavy, but the Red Sea victory made them glad. Marah’s waters were bitter, but the Lord’s miraculous provision of sweet, refreshing water strengthened them. Then He led them to beautiful Elim, with its springs and palm trees, providing them rest and rejuvenation for the rest of the journey.
Brethren, let us look to our God from whom come all our blessings for both the present and future. Let us remain faithful in trusting, praying and availing ourselves as obedient servants of His will. It shall still be better further on!
To His disciples who failed to heal the lunatic boy, Jesus Christ said, “Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you. Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting” (Matthew 17:20-21).
Those words followed His sharp rebuke to the defeated disciples. Earlier He chided them saying, “O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? how long shall I suffer you? bring him hither to me” (v. 17).
Like the disciples, we too will be rebuked sharply by the Lord, if we be defeated because of littleness of faith.
The disciples were already commissioned by the Lord Jesus Christ – “And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand. Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give” (Matthew 10:7-8). According to the Gospel of Mark, they were immensely successful in their apostolic work of preaching and performing miracles – “And they went out, and preached that men should repent. And they cast out many devils, and anointed with oil many that were sick, and healed them” (Mark 6:12-13).
How could such a successful group of disciples fail so miserably in repeating their earlier feat? How did they fail to help a distressed father who could not any more bear the torment of his child who was pushed into fire and water by the demon who possessed him? When it was most needed, they miserably failed to exercise their apostolic power to deliver the boy from his lunacy.
The question is: “Why?” Jesus told them forthrightly, “Because of your unbelief”! They failed because of the littleness of their faith. Jesus even addressed them as “faithless”. It was not to say that they did not believe Jesus Christ, but that they had not fully exercised their faith to cast out the demon. They had saving faith, which they could not lose. Certainly they had trusted Christ to some degree, or they would not have attempted to heal the boy. But they did not exercise faith, as the Lord expected of them, in employing the power Jesus had given to them.
Brethren, in the service of our God to which He has called us, He expects us not to fail. What matters is not how well we begin a work, but how well we complete it. Over the past three decades, God has guided us in many aspects of the ministry of the church with great success; we are profoundly grateful to Him for all those joyful triumphs He has provided in our ministries. However, if we do not act in faith in the face of present challenges and difficulties in accomplishing the task which the Lord has called us to fulfil, irrespective of all the past triumphs, we too can be a failure. Just as His disciples were, we too will be fit for our Lord’s ire and reprimand.
Remember how disgustingly the Lord responded to the report of His disciples’ failure to heal the child with lunacy. The Lord’s displeasure was obvious when He addressed the father of the sick child and the crowd around Him, including the disciples – “O faithless and perverse generation”! He expressed His disgust again by saying, “how long shall I be with you? how long shall I suffer you? bring him hither to me” (v. 17b).
The entire generation of Jews were faithless, represented on this occasion by the multitude, together with the self-righteous scribes and Pharisees, the disciples, etc. Even the father’s faith was not complete for he himself confessed, “Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief” (cf. Mark 9:24).
The people were not only unbelieving, but perverse. The word “perverse” (Greek, diastréphō) has the basic idea of being twisted or bent out of shape. It is used to denote persons who turn aside from divine truths and purposes. When people fail to exercise faith in the Lord and His power, they are led away from His truth and work, and thus become perverted.
If we are to do the Lord’s work – and to do it successfully, we must have faith in Him, in His Word and in His power. We must look beyond the struggles, opposition and needs. We must remain focused on what we need to accomplish according to His commission. We must look for a present anointing by the Holy Spirit to overcome our fears and to do whatever our faith in the Lord would demand of us. We must yield daily to the Lord and refuse to turn aside.
Brethren, we have a task at hand. The Lord wants us to accomplish our building project and be adequately equipped to take this ministry with His help to a new level of effectiveness and fruitfulness. If we do not act in faith, we will turn aside from the work. If we will not yield ourselves to God in faith, we shall turn aside to look for help from forbidden places. Then we ourselves become a perverse people, whom the Lord will reprimand! God forbid that we ever fall into that sort of failure.
When the Lord revealed the reason for the disciples’ failure, He also advised them how to be strong in faith in order to triumph in their duties over obstacles and opposition. He said, “… for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you. Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting” (Matthew 17:20-21).
The reason for the failure of His disciples was obvious to Jesus. He told them that it was “because of your unbelief” (v. 20a). The word “unbelief” (Greek, apistía) denotes faithlessness, uncertainty and distrust. So, they failed because they did not exercise their faith in the face of the boy’s desperate need of healing and the obstacle mounted by the demonic possession. It is not that the disciples were unbelievers, but rather they did not fully exercise their faith by refusing to give up the task before them. They had saving faith, but they did not fully employ their faith to fulfil the task for which Christ has ordained them.
Though they felt powerless, they should have persevered in prayer, believing that the Lord’s power is able to grant healing and triumph over the devil. On several occasions prior to this, the Lord had chided them for not exercising their faith in the Lord (cf. Matthew 6:25-34; 8:26; 14:31; 16:8). In all those instances, the Lord taught them that their faith must rise if they desire to prevail over the mountainous obstacles before them.
First and foremost, our faith must not wither. It must persevere by fasting and prayer. Only then can we overcome our sense of inability, helplessness and fear of failure. We must overcome the mountain of unbelief that leads to disengagement of ourselves from the work that the Lord has entrusted us with. When things are not going well, when the situation seems to be out of our control, we must strive forward with total trust in the Lord. Then “nothing shall be impossible unto you.”
We thank the Lord that the renovation work has begun at Gethsemane Media Centre (GMC). We covet your prayers that the place will be ready by the end of July/August.
First two images: demolition works on the level 4 office.
Third image: levelling of the flooring on level 3 (studio level).
“I waited patiently for the LORD; and he inclined unto me, and heard my cry. He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings” (Psalm 40:1-2).
What an inspiring testimony David bears here! He tells us how he handled his dilemma. He responded to his peculiar trouble by waiting patiently for the LORD.
He was in a very distressing situation. He described his situation in verse 2 as “an horrible pit of miry clay”. It was a picture of helplessness and despondence that David painted with those words. He was sunken in deep and dark depression. No one could deliver him, not even he himself.
But he knew that there is help with the LORD. So he cast himself and his situation completely upon the LORD as the only possible way out. He cried out to Him in prayer. It is all that he could do, and he did it with utmost earnestness and eagerness.
When David “waited patiently for the LORD”, he was not passively sitting down and muttering fatalistically, “Oh, the LORD has deserted me. There is no one to deliver me.” Instead, his patient waiting for the LORD consisted of crying to the LORD. Prayer is the channel that God has ordained for His afflicted people to receive His deliverance and help in times of distressing situations.
David had always been a man of action, especially in the midst of adversities. He was not one who feared adversity. In his youthful days, he had bravely acted to deliver lambs from the mouth of a lion and of a bear (1 Samuel 17:34-36). Who does not know of David’s exploits such as his victory over Goliath, who had struck paralysing fear into the army of Israel (1 Samuel 17:39-51)? However, in this particular situation, he who had previously overcome many an adversity found himself buried under insurmountable problems.
Still, David believed that the LORD would deliver him. So he prayed unto the LORD as he waited patiently for His deliverance. He waited on the LORD patiently because He had confidence in the LORD. Great heroes of faith are men who, amidst their troubles, wait with unwavering faith and hope in the LORD. They wait on the LORD even when there is no man to help. They never quit their faith and duty while in trouble, but remain steadfast in faith.
In the next verse, David gratefully says, “He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings.” Are you mindful to remember and praise God for the deliverance He has given to you in your life? What has the LORD done for you? Recount the recent deliverance that God has granted you in answer to your prayers. Mention them before the LORD and praise Him for those answered prayers.
When one makes it a habit to recollect the goodness of the LORD that one has received, one’s deep affection for the LORD will also grow. On the contrary, when the LORD’s goodness is disregarded, one’s devotion and spiritual enthusiasm will also be adversely affected. This is especially so when one is going through sore distress.
In our text, God’s delivering grace is gratefully reminisced in the most apt and beautiful emblematic language. The psalmist says that the Lord has lifted him up out of a “horrible pit” into which he has fallen, and has set him upon a “rock”! What a vivid and moving depictions of God’s deliverance! How would you describe God’s deliverance in your life?
The psalmist’s description here sets forth the phenomenal change that the Lord has granted him in response to his penitent prayers. He was being weighed down by his sins and their consequences. This, he alluded to in verse 12: “For innumerable evils have compassed me about: mine iniquities have taken hold upon me, so that I am not able to look up; they are more than the hairs of mine head: therefore my heart faileth me.” So he cried unto God, saying, “Be pleased, O LORD, to deliver me: O LORD, make haste to help me” (v. 13). Also in the midst of this psalm, with eyes of faith, he spoke prophetically concerning Christ the Saviour (vv. 7-10). The New Testament cited these words as a predictive reference to Christ’s obedience to the Father in becoming a sacrifice for our sins (cf. Hebrews 10:5-10). The repentant sinner is thus made to stand firmly on the Rock of Ages, even our Lord Jesus! If you are sinking in your sin, cry out to Christ at once with absolute faith; He will surely deliver and sanctify you by His blood.
Dear Pastor Koshy,
We thank God for another opportunity to give to our church building project. God has given us a church with a faithful pastor, faithful elders and fellow brethren. We as a family are greatly blessed by the many fellowship meetings and spiritual feedings. God does not need us to provide for His needs, or to help Him in any way, as He is all-sufficient and needs nothing at all; the whole world is His and the fullness thereof (Psalm 50:12). Yet, it is our great joy that our God has enabled us to give to this important project of our church (cf. 1 Chronicles 29:9). Our Lord deserves our very best, and it is our privilege to be able to offer to God, who is the great Creator and the Lord of the universe. We continue to pray to our Father in heaven for the building project, that the remaining funds will be collected as soon as possible. We also pray that God will give wisdom to our leaders so that all the remaining works will be completed in time, and this new facility (together with its resources) will be a great blessing to the generations to come.
Praise ye the Lord—Hallelujah!
A Gethsemane family
27th April 2019
With God’s help, we have purchased a four-storey building (11,200 sq. ft.) at 33 Ubi Crescent for the price of S$4.3 million (including GST), which is owned by Gethsemane Bible Witness Limited (GBWL) – a company limited by guarantee – that our church has set up mainly for the management of the building, as well as for the support of the church’s commercial and industrial activities. On 4th March 2019, Elder Mah Chin Kwang (secretary of GBWL) collected the Title Deed. Last week, Elder Alan Choy (treasurer of GBWL) informed us that the GST (of S$287,000) paid for the building has been returned to GBWL by IRAS. We thank God for all those answered prayers.
Our elders (who form both the church’s BOE and GBWL’s BOD) have decided that the premises at 33 Ubi Crescent will be known as Gethsemane Media Centre, as it will house the operational activities of Bible Witness Media Ministry and The Gethsemane Care Ministry. Its first floor (ground level) will have the reception area, together with the office and workspace of TGCM. The second floor will have a large meeting room. The third level is dedicated to house the studios (both audio and video) for the recording of Christian programmes for BWMM, Bible Witness Web Radio (and a Web TV, God willing), GBI, etc. The fourth level will be the ‘nerve centre’ of Gethsemane Media Centre, where the planning, preparations all will take place.
The BOD have worked together with a team of Gethsemaneans to determine the scope of the renovation works. Elder Francis Lee has coordinated and led the team efficiently. By last week, all the Letters of Acceptance were awarded to contractors selected by BOD. We have much to praise the Lord for the arduous labour of all our brethren who have helped to set forward the building project.
The renovation of the building, and the installation of studio and equipment will begin this week. In fact, some of the studio equipment that have been ordered have arrived. God willing, the completion of all the works are expected to come to pass by the end of July 2019, with the operations at Gethsemane Media Centre to begin in August 2019.
According to the consolidated project costs, we have at present a shortfall of S$540,000/- This fund is needed urgently to pay for the renovation of Gethsemane Media Centre, setting up of the studio, purchase of audio/video equipment, computers, servers, software, furniture, appliances, etc.
We also need to pray for the BOD and the Building Project Committee (comprising Chong Shu Mun, Emilie Tanlapco, Anthony Evangelista, Lijoy K George, Melissa Mah, Matthew Peh), who will supervise the renovations and installations. Dn Lok Kwok Wah will serve as the Operations Manager.
The amount of S$540,000/- needed in a short period of three months has placed upon us a very great burden. How will we achieve this in a short time?
Jesus assured His followers, “…for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him” (Matthew 6:8). A little later, He again said, “…your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things” (Matthew 6:32). These and more assurances of the Bible are a great comfort to all Gethsemaneans – both leaders, members and friends – who are deeply concerned about our urgent need.
As Christians, we cannot worry, for Jesus said, “(For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things” (Matthew 6:32). Worry belongs to the unbelieving. It is inconsistent with our faith in God. Worrying about the basic necessities of life, such as daily food, drink, and clothing, characterises the Gentiles, and not true believers. Those who have no God to supply their physical or their spiritual needs, will certainly worry about their lack. They are ignorant of God’s supply and have no claim on it. The trusting ones can “be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God” (Philippians 4:6).
We can be confident of the provision for our need, as Paul said, “But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19). The expression “my God” conveys Paul’s confidence in God as his unfailing Provider in all of his life’s needs. God was his most benevolent benefactor. The sentiment conveyed here by Paul is very much like that of David who said, “The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.” Because God had been wholly in charge of all of his life’s needs, he was also assured that God will attend to the needs of his fellow Christians.
Let us be assured of God’s ability and willingness to supply all our need, as well as His commitment to do so as our covenant God. God undertakes to meet all our needs. Yes, our needs (both temporal and spiritual) are many, but the extent of His supply is “according to his riches in glory”. God gives unto His children, not as a poor man who struggles to provide in the face of scarcity, nor as a rich man who gives grudgingly. He supplies according to His boundless riches in glory! He will look after us till we get to the glorious celestial home which He has prepared for us.
It is God’s inexhaustible supply that is promised to us and which will be channelled to us by Christ Jesus. Christ is the Guarantee of the divine supply – “He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?” (Romans 8:32).
“He is not here, but is risen: remember how he spake unto you when he was yet in Galilee” (Luke 24:6).
This was the angelic declaration on the day of Christ’s resurrection. Thus they announced the grand truth of Christ’s resurrection to the women who went to His tomb on the third day of His burial.
The angels indisputably announced, “He is not here, He is risen!” Though He is not there, He assuredly was once there in the tomb, for He was crucified, dead, and buried. These women had been there at His tomb when He was buried (Luke 23:55-56; Matthew 27:61; Mark 15:47). They were the last to leave His tomb after His burial, and the first to arrive at the risen Christ’s empty tomb. What great delight it must have been for these godly women to be instructed of their beloved Master’s resurrection! May our hearts also rejoice in His risen glory.
Christ Jesus the Lord, who died for our sins, is risen for our justification. With His great resurrection miracle, His work of our redemption was triumphantly consummated! By springing up from the grave to life, Jesus became our Great Saviour. Oh, what a glorious victory He has achieved for us by His resurrection! Sin and death no longer have power over our souls.
We also notice a gentle reproof in the words of the angels to those pious women. It was apparent that they lacked conviction about Jesus’ prediction that He would resurrect on the third day. Though it was the third day, they arrived at the tomb with spices to embalm His body. They appeared to have disregarded the fact that He would rise on that day. Thus, the angels reprovingly reminded those holy women, “remember how he spake unto you when he was yet in Galilee”. It was indeed a vain effort to search for the living Christ in the abode of the dead!
May we live in the joy and blessings of our Lord’s resurrection. Let us not conduct ourselves as though our blessed Master is not alive. He is certainly not among the dead. He lives! So let us live to know Him who is risen and lives today. Let us follow our Risen Saviour to know the power of His resurrection. May the empty tomb of Christ drive away all our gloom and anxieties. He is risen, and He is able to save to the uttermost all who come unto God by Him. The Lord is risen! He now lives and prepares a place for us in heaven. He is coming soon again for us. Oh, let us rejoice for our Lord Jesus Christ lives today. He is not among the dead. Hallelujah!
In Romans 14:9, the apostle Paul declared, “For to this end Christ both died, and rose, and revived, that he might be Lord both of the dead and living.”
There is, of course, a sense in which Jesus has always been Lord, for He is the Creator, Governor and Provider of all things. By virtue of His divine nature, He is indeed Lord of all. But Paul is not talking about that. He is referring to His Lordship in view of the atoning work that He accomplished through His death and resurrection. Some theologians correctly call it “the lordship of redemptive relationship”. In a very special sense, Christ is Lord of those to whom He brought salvation through His death and resurrection. Christ secured the indisputable right to exercise Lordship over both of those believers who have already died and those who are still alive on earth. By means of His substitutionary death, followed by His intercessory life in heaven (Hebrews 7:25), Christ as their Lord sees to it that whatever He has merited for His people is bestowed on them, whether dead or still alive.
The connection between the Lordship of Christ and His death and resurrection is emphasised here. He is no doubt Lord over all mankind, but what is asserted here is a Lordship which only true believers acknowledge. Paul depicts both the dead and the living as under this Lordship of Christ. Christ died and rose again as a representative character of all His people, both dead and alive. As the Mediator between God and men, He had gathered up all the interests of all His people. Dying and rising again, He stands before all His people as their Lord.
Let us consider the implications of the Lordship of Christ over His own people who are now dead. As One who died and rose again, He gives to all His people who are now dead the assurance of victory over the sting of death. In due time, their mortal bodies shall be fashioned like unto His own glorious resurrected body. He would lead them to the many mansions of His Father’s house, and there He shall live with His people as their Lord and King forever and ever. Now unto all His people who are alive, He is their Lord. They should submit their lives to Him to do His will. Self-surrender to His Lordship is expected of all His people while they live and serve Him here on earth. It is a most wonderful blessing for all His people (both the living and the dead) to have Him as their Lord. It is a source of confidence and joy to the living and the dead in Christ alike.
I thank and praise God for the wonderful time of learning God’s Word, sweet fellowship in Christ, and the chance to meet with like-minded brethren from Kerala, India. Indeed, it was an eye-opening moment for me. Comparing my life in Singapore to India, I have to be very grateful to God our heavenly Father for what we have in terms of transportation and housing. Their lifestyle is simple, yet I could see the joy in their faces. What struck me was: truly the harvest is plenteous – may we pray therefore the Lord will raise up faithful men to serve Him. If the LORD tarries, I would love to go to India again.
Thank God for this retreat’s emphasis on the importance of prayer, and the reviving messages preached by Pastor Koshy. To God be the glory. May Gethsemane Church be a prayerful church. I learnt that passion leads us to pray, and prayer leads us to wait upon God. The true voice of the church of God is not singing, but the preaching of God’s Word – by the will of God, through the preaching of God’s Word, souls are added to the church. That was what we learnt from the book of Acts of the Apostles. Though believers of the early church were being persecuted, yet instead of decreasing, we see more souls added! “Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers … And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved” (Acts 2:41-47).
Food for thought: is the Christianity of our time out of the Book of Acts or out of our own mind? Are we prepared to suffer and die for the Gospel if it is for His glory? We ought to pray for our leaders, that the Lord will strengthen them, that they will be prayerful leaders. Especially in times of troubles and difficult circumstances, may they stand firm in the Truth of God’s Word, that they may be a godly example for us to emulate. Lastly, as the body of believers, it is our duty to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of Christ.
Praise the Lord that I could attend this Bible Witness retreat. I signed up the minute I knew the theme was on “A Study of Prayers in the Acts of the Apostles”. I have been praying that God would give me understanding on this vital spiritual aspect and teach me how to pray. I need help!
In this retreat, I learned about prayers through various examples of faithful men in the Bible. Jesus Himself never ceases to pray! Prayer is about praising God, as well as faithful waiting according to God’s promises. Not only did I learn about the format of prayer in Acts, I also learned that it is God’s decree that we pray, and so we must carry out this command. Furthermore, the Bible teaches us the importance of praying for our church leaders, as seen in the example of Paul in Romans 15:30. May the Lord help me to understand and apply what I have learned. “Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and show thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not” (Jeremiah 33:3). I am so grateful that God has given me greater understanding in this area.
I thank God for the fellowship with like-minded brethren. I am particularly touched by the hospitality extended by Pastor Koshy’s parents and relatives in Kerala. (Incidentally, it was there that we got to see “teh-tarik” in action!) Thank God for all the brethren who have laboured in organising this retreat. May the Lord greatly bless each of them with strength and wisdom to continually serve Him with a joyful heart!
I thank God for the recent 16th BW Retreat in Kerala on with the theme, “Church – A People in Prayer”, which is essentially a study of prayers in the Acts of the Apostles. Following are some thought-provoking pointers learnt:
“And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness” (Acts 4:31). Pastor Koshy emphasised that the preaching of the Word and prayer are God’s instruments of blessings, both of which, like the 2 wings of a bird, are vital to the apostles in God’s kingdom. They shake a man’s heart out of sin and draw his heart towards God. They also set his affections on things above and not on the materialism and carnality of this earth. Therefore the apostles gave themselves “continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word” (cf. Acts 6:4).
“Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business” (Acts 6:3). Gethsemane needs deacons as it grows. Pastor encourages us to start praying for deacons of such calibre. Prayer acknowledges our dependence on God.
“But he (Stephen) being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God, … And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit” (Acts 7:55, 59). Stephen was empowered by the Holy Spirit; he had no fear in preaching Christ. And he died a martyr’s death. “Do we dare to stand alone like Stephen?” was the challenge posed to us.
Scripture declares, “In whom (Christ) we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace” (Ephesians 1:7).
Redemption! What a glorious word! It belongs to everyone who has trusted the Lord Jesus Christ. Only through Christ can one inherit redemption. The Greek word for “redemption” appears about ten times in the New Testament. It depicts the freedom of a prisoner or a slave through the payment of money. The money paid to set the captive free is known as the ransom. This is the idea that Paul had in mind when he wrote, “In whom we have redemption through his blood”. The word “redemption” here refers to our deliverance from sin and from its eternal condemnation, which Christ has secured by the offering of His blood in His sacrificial death on the cross. The ransom or the price that the Lord Jesus Christ has paid for our redemption is His own blood.
The only means for our redemption is “through his blood”. If there were any other means for our redemption, why would Christ die? If a less costly price had been sufficient, Christ would not have poured out His blood. Nothing could have obtained our redemption, but the blood of Christ. The Father would not have sacrificed His Son on the cross, if there were other appropriate and adequate ransoms to be paid. So the apostle Peter said in 1 Peter 1:18-19, “Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot”. This also shall be the theme of the new song that the redeemed shall sing in heaven: “And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation” (Revelation 5:9).
As a result of our redemption through the blood of Christ, we now have the forgiveness of sins. Forgiveness is one of the most important blessings of the redemption that Christ has achieved for us. When we have received the freedom from the guilt of our sins, God has also pardoned all our sins. Our redemption and forgiveness bespeak the riches of God’s grace towards us. It costs us nothing to have our redemption and the forgiveness of our sins, for God in His infinite grace has given them freely to us. We are redeemed, not by our merits, but by His grace alone.
Written by Pr Kelvin Lim
Serving the Lord is the divine duty of every born-again Christian. The Bible exhorts the saints to serve the Lord (Romans 6:18; 1 Corinthians 7:22). The Holy Spirit gives spiritual gift(s) to every child of God to equip him for his service unto the Lord. Though not everyone would be called to serve in vocational ministries (such as pastoring God’s flock, teaching and preaching God’s Word, being an evangelist or a full-time staff of the church, etc.), it is nonetheless required of every saint to serve his heavenly Father while here on earth! And in the process of one’s service, God’s saint is bound to encounter difficult people and situations. Through it all, “the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient” (2 Timothy 2:24). In other words, he is to serve “with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love” (Ephesians 4:2b).
The word “longsuffering” in the New Testament is made up of two Greek words, “makro” and “thumia”. The literal translation of “makrothumia” is “long-tempered” (the opposite of short-tempered). According to Vine’s dictionary, “longsuffering” is that quality of self-restraint in the face of provocation. It does not hastily retaliate or promptly punish (cf. Luke 18:7; 1 Peter 3:20). Furthermore, “longsuffering” can also be defined as the quality that does not surrender to circumstances nor succumb to trials. It is the opposite of despondency and is associated with hope. Thus, “longsuffering” can also be translated as “patient” (cf. 1 Thessalonians 5:14b; James 5:7-8).
God’s longsuffering was abundantly manifested during the days of Noah (cf. Genesis 6-7). The imaginations of men then were so filled with “only evil continually” (Genesis 6:5b) that it grieved the LORD’s heart. The wickedness of men greatly provoked the LORD to anger. Yet, the LORD was “longsuffering to (them)-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9b). The LORD could have promptly punished mankind during the days of Noah for their wickedness but He restrained Himself. He called Noah, a preacher of righteousness, to warn the ungodly for 120 years about His impending judgment of flooding the earth, but they continued in their wickedness and believed not Noah’s preaching. They continued to eat, drink, make merry, marry and be given in marriage till it was too late (cf. Luke 17:27). Indeed, “the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a-preparing”, just so for them to repent, but in the end only “eight souls (i.e. Noah and his family) were saved” (1 Peter 3:20).
The Bible speaks of God as “The LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin” (Exodus 34:6-7a). Without a doubt, God’s abundant mercies and longsuffering can be seen in His dealings with His chosen nation Israel. God’s forbearance with Israel as a nation over many years is well documented in Scripture. Despite great spiritual declension characterising the reigns of northern Israel’s and southern Judah’s kings, God’s longsuffering was shown in His sending faithful prophets to warn of God’s impending judgment against idolatry and apostasy unless averted by repentance (cf. Hosea 2; Amos 5; Micah 6; Jeremiah 25:1-11). Alas, when repeated warnings fell on deaf ears, Israel fell to the Assyrians (2 Kings 17:5-6) in 722 BC, and Judah was subjugated by the Babylonians (2 Kings 25:1-4) in 586 BC. What followed were 70 years of captivity and exile in Babylon. Nevertheless, the covenant-keeping God would not discard His people forever; He only meant to chasten them for a season. No wonder upon the Jews’ return from captivity, Nehemiah was moved to testify of God’s longsuffering: “But … our fathers dealt proudly, and hardened their necks, and hearkened not to thy commandments, and refused to obey, … but hardened their necks, … but thou art a God ready to pardon, gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and forsookest them not” (Nehemiah 9:16-17).
Christians have been made partakers of God’s divine nature (cf. 2 Peter 1:4a). Upon being born into God’s kingdom, we are endowed with the Holy Spirit for the service of God. And “having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust” (2 Peter 1:4b), we are no more to walk after the flesh, expressing ourselves in “hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies” (Galatians 5:20). “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law (Galatians 5:22-23).
As Christians serving the Lord, trials and afflictions are unavoidable in our lives (cf. 1 Peter 4:12). In such times, the Holy Spirit will enable us to go through difficulties with longsuffering, among other God-honouring traits. The Holy Spirit will grant us the grace to bear up with those distresses, as well as to bear those injuries caused by evil mouths and wicked hearts. As we walk in the Spirit, manifesting “the fruit of the Spirit”, we will be able to put up with the affronts hurled in our faces, and be ready to forgive those who offended us. Longsuffering (as one vital aspect of the fruit of the Holy Spirit) grows in the process of time, which can only come about through the trials providentially prepared by the Lord as a form of spiritual exercise to strengthen the patience of His children. These spiritual exercises help us to trust the Lord increasingly and thus mature in the faith according to God’s purpose.
The spirit of longsuffering is most needful – especially for those spiritually more mature – when it comes to serving God among His people. The apostle Paul is very mindful that in terms of temperament, God’s saints come in all shapes and sizes. Differences of opinion or in approaches to things could easily create friction, resulting in disagreements when Christians serve the Lord together. Hence, Paul pleaded with believers to “walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, … with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love” (Ephesians 4:1-2). It goes without saying that it is the spiritually strong who should take lead in doing the “forbearing”, even being “kind one to another” and “forgiving one another” (Ephesians 4:32). Truly, “We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves” (Romans 15:1). Spiritually-minded Christians are to “esteem other better than themselves” and to “look … every man also on the things of others” (Philippians 2:3b-4). This is the lot of every mature – and maturing – Christian.
Christians are also urged to “be patient (from the root word “makrothumia”) toward all men” (1 Thessalonians 5:14b). The Lord Jesus told His disciples that “men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake” (Matthew 5:11). Ungodly men will persecute Christians for their faith and oppress them in many areas of life. Yet, we are encouraged to exhibit a longsuffering spirit in dealing with them! “But and if ye suffer for righteousness’ sake, happy are ye: and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled; But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear: Having a good conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ” (1 Peter 3:14-16).
Moreover, Christians are to be “patient (also from “makrothumia”) … unto the coming of the Lord” (James 5:7a). The apostle James exhorts the saints to “suffer with long patience” until the Lord returns to take them back to be with Him forever. Christians are to bear up well and show restraint in the face of hostility or opposition amidst their service. Notwithstanding all our trials and afflictions in serving God, it will be worth it all when Christ returns and says unto us, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant”. Meanwhile, we are to “stablish (our) hearts” (James 5:8) firmly upon God’s Word and be assured that our longsuffering in the midst of serving God will bear great testimony to others around us that can influence them for Christ. Thus, waiting patiently for the Lord’s return is also a form of serving God!
The need for serving God with longsuffering cannot be overemphasised. It is not only a godly trait, but also an important aspect of the fruit of the Holy Spirit, which will enable the spiritually mature Christian to persevere in his service, especially in the area of ministering to people (cf. Galatians 6:1; James 5:19-20).
30th March 2019 was an exciting day for many of us serving in Gethsemane Children’s Ministry (GCM) in our church. It was the first time where activities were being organised simultaneously at three respective locations.
This idea of having simultaneous activities at multiple locations was suggested by our pastor when he realised the difficulties of gathering our children at a particular location for Daily Vacation Bible School (DVBS) last year. As such, if GCM’s activities were held in locations demarcated by regions, it might be more convenient for parents to bring their children. Therefore, our children won’t have to struggle with much travelling in order to partake of the spiritual blessings which the world cannot offer!
With that in mind, the GCM Committee went about to deliberate the possible venue options and accompanying logistical considerations of having a decentralised event for the sake of our children and their friends. A gospel rally was organised with the intention of sharing the glorious Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, first to our own children and, at the same time, to their friends!
The GCM Committee would like to thank the LORD our God for the grace given to organise the gospel rally. As this was the first time we organised an event simultaneously at multiple locations, we truly thank God for the various hosts who enthusiastically opened their homes and booked the function rooms of their condominiums for this event. We also thank God for the helpers who volunteered in one way or another – from leading the songs to setting up the place, and dealing with logistic issues.
More importantly, we want to thank God for the parents who brought their children to hear the glorious Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, including the invited guests. Among the guests, we have Madam Hew and her children, Joyce and Joanna. They were invited by Mrs Chong, a regular worshipper. We also have Jacinda and her daughter Isabella, who are related to Brother Ricky Yang. Besides, Sister Bhel, who attends our Filipino Fellowship, also brought her friends, Macey, Lenie and Gloria, who came with Rebecca, Naicha and Alia, the respective children under their care. Later on, Sister Bhel’s employer and the toddler under her care came to join us over dinner. We took the opportunity to invite them to join us for worship on Sunday. In total, we had 62 adults, 28 children (including a two-year-old toddler) who attended across the three venues.
May the LORD our God be gracious to save some of those who have heard the Word concerning the all-important question: “Why did Jesus have to die?”.
In Christ’s service,
Pr Kelvin Lim
It was truly a great blessing to be part of the 16th Bible Witness Retreat in Kerala, India. I thank God for the six messages on the theme, “Church – A People of Prayer”, through which we heard God’s voice. In thanksgiving to God for His Word and as a reminder of the truths learnt, I would like to recount 4 key lessons learnt.
Firstly, we realise that there are souls that are given to our generation to save. God has given our spiritual forefathers lost souls to save in their generation, and by His enabling and the saints’ obedience, God has indeed saved them. In our generation, it is now up to us to preach the Gospel and reach out to the lost of our time. God has no other way to save the lost around us today but through the declaration of the Gospel – through us, the church!
Next, we learnt that preaching yields prayer, and prayer yields more preaching. They are likened to the two wings of a bird, both extremely vital and complementary for every church.
We also were taught that God’s decrees and promises do not negate the necessity of prayer on our part. It is part of God’s plan and will that we seek Him in prayer. We do not pray to the Lord because we do not believe His promises, but because we have faith and trust that He will accomplish His decrees.
Finally, we learnt that even in persecution, compromise is not the option. Rather, prayer is the divinely ordained means of help.
It was also a wonderful blessing to have the opportunity to meet and have Christian fellowship with Pastor Koshy’s parents and relatives. In this trip, we had the opportunity to see how God has truly worked in our pastor’s life and providentially brought him from so far away to have a far-reaching ministry in our midst. Indeed, God works in mysterious ways. May His name be greatly praised!
Praise and thank the Lord for this wonderful opportunity of Bible Witness Retreat in India, where we were taught on the topic, ‘Church – A People in Prayer’. Thank God for the timely reminder on the importance of prayer, and how we ought not to forsake or neglect the priority of prayer and the Word. Truly, how many blessings we often miss when we forget to pray! Thank God also for a blessed time of fellowship with Pastor Reggor, Pr Sujith and friends from Vizag, and Pastor Koshy’s family and relatives. All glory be to God!
Today, as we celebrate 31st anniversary of our church, may our thoughts be towards our God who has graciously redeemed us from our sins through the blood of His dear Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, and gathered us together over the past 31 years for His praise and honour.
The immensity of God’s love and care for His church is truly indescribable. Each time when I think of the way He has spoken in the Scriptures about the church in relationship to Him, my heart is overflowed with thanksgiving, joy, peace and resolve to serve Him in His church. As I share with you how He thinks of and depicts the church, please take time to think of the richness of His loving purposes concerning us all in the church, as individuals and as a congregation. May the following divine depiction of the church uplift your hearts to joyful praise and service of our God!
May we rejoice to fulfil all His desires concerning us as His dear church on earth.
Dear Pastor, the Church Session and our beloved brethren at Gethsemane B-P Church (Singapore),
“And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers … Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved … And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common … And the word of God increased; and the number of the disciples multiplied in Jerusalem greatly; and a great company of the priests were obedient to the faith” (Acts 2:42, 47; 4:32; 6:7).
As I think about the 31 years of the church’s existence, I am reminded of the passages quoted above from the Book of Acts (which are among the passages we considered in the recent Bible Witness Retreat), for I see a resemblance in how the church has grown from strength to strength through the faithful preaching of the Word and by prayer.
In all my years in the church, I have been greatly blessed by the uncompromising, faithful preaching of the unadulterated Word of God. Also, I am witness to how Pastor Koshy would call, if not challenge, the church to pray, even to fast and pray in the midst of the pressing needs and challenges that it has encountered through the years. To mention a few: purchase of the church van, moving of the church worship service from its previous location (in YMCA) to the present (Singpost Building), moving of the old church office into the Sunflower building (i.e. the previous Church Resource Center), the inaugural publication of the Bible Witness Magazine/inception of the Bible Witness Web Radio, the setting up of the TGCM-Singapore, the Ethiopian building project, and the newly acquired property at 33 Ubi Crescent. All these are but some of the manifold blessings the Lord has bestowed upon the church!
Needless to say, the church’s commitment in missions and the mission churches established here in the Philippines and other parts of the world, are all borne out of much prayer by the church.
And how can I forget the lives of every one of you that the Lord has saved and added to the church? No doubt, the Lord is pleased to bless the church in many ways, such that “the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved … And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul … And the word of God increased; and the number of the disciples multiplied … greatly”.
On behalf of the brethren here in Gethsemane BPC-Cebu, I greet you all: “Blessed 31st Anniversary!” All glory and honor be to the LORD!
Yours in Christ,
Reggor B. Galarpe
Gethsemane B-P Church
Cebu City, Philippines
The first New Testament church of Jerusalem was formed when three thousand souls, who gladly received Peter’s preaching of the Gospel, affirmed their faith through baptism and their stand with the apostles, and thereby were added unto the body of believers (Acts 2:41). According to Luke’s record in Acts 2:42, that infant church was wholeheartedly committed to prayer. Prayer was one of the four major priorities of the church – “And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.”
The members of the church had counted gathering together for prayer as non-negotiable. They “continued steadfastly… in prayers.” Their learning of apostolic doctrines, fellowship and communion were catalysts for coming before God as a church in prayer. Likewise, I pray that all our church’s regular learning of God’s Word, fellowship and communion (and also special times like the recent BW retreat) will lead to greater experiences of prayer in our midst.
The Greek word used for “prayers” (proseuchais) is a general word for prayer, which is most frequently used in the New Testament. It denotes all kinds of prayers – thanksgiving, affirmation of faith in God, confession of sins, petitions, intercessions, etc. It depicts all forms of prayers offered by the believers who had gathered together to commune reverentially with God. At times, its focus narrows to just one kind of prayer, such as asking for a specific benefit.
In the book of Acts, the early churches’ continual devotion to prayers is evident. They often came together in groups to pray (Acts 1, 4 and 12). There are also records of individual prayers as believers went through differing experiences alone, as in the case of Ananias and Paul (9:10-11), and Peter (10:14). We also know that their prayer items varied according to their situations. They praised / thanked God for sending the Spirit, for His powerful help, provisions, guidance, and for drawing people to faith. There were also confessions of sins, intercessions for God’s servants and their ministries, for new converts and their spiritual growth, for the persecuted brethren to boldly declare God in the face of persecutors, as well as petitions for temporal needs and spiritual strengthening, guidance, etc.
We, members of Gethsemane BPC, should also have a steadfast commitment to prayer like the Jerusalem church. None among us should take our prayer gatherings lightly. We must eagerly and persistently engage in the critical duty of prayer. Like the early church that relentlessly pursued divine help for its spiritual and physical needs, we must give ourselves to prayer. We should not only pray as individual believers, but also as a church corporately (cf. Acts 1:14, 24; 4:24-31). We must gather to pray with much expectancy because of the promises of our Lord. He has promised to be the Source of provision for all our needs – “And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it” (John 14:13-14).
Sadly, prayer is much neglected in the church today. Though we rejoice that a good number of Gethsemaneans attend our Tuesday prayer meeting, it is truly unfortunate that some make little or no effort to join the prayer meeting. Prayer meetings are not for a faithful few only!
I would like to call on all Gethsemaneans to come together to pray. We have much to fulfil in obedience to God’s Word, and much to accomplish in His kingdom according to His glorious purposes. Like the early church, we must draw courage, strength and wisdom from Him through the study of His Word and prayer. They are the means of grace by which the church becomes what God wants it to be. Let us not be a spiritually weak people and church. The question we need to ask ourselves is: Are we, unlike the early church, forsaking the priority of prayer? Have you forgotten the Bible’s commands to pray at all times and to be devoted to prayer? Consider the following Scriptural exhortations:
Dear brethren, we cannot be a church that neglects prayer. The Word of God commands that we must be praying believers and members of the church. The ministry needs – need for more men in the leadership and staff, urgent needs of finance (such as the needs of TGCM, Bible Witness, new Gospel missions, renovation costs of 33 Ubi Crescent, etc.), among others – also burden us to come together in prayer.
Prayer is by no means a trivial matter. It forms the sinew and muscle of our church’s hands of service. Without prayer, we will accomplish nothing in the Lord’s kingdom. Prayer is our unique expressions of faith, devotion and love for the Lord and His work. Prayer meeting is the means of grace by which the church becomes what God wants it to be.
See you on Tuesday Night prayer meetings! Come with your family. Let us exhort one another to be together before the Lord in prayer. There is much to accomplish. May we find divine strength and help through prayer.
At Holiday Inn, Cochin
Outside the home of Bishop & Mrs Koshy, Pastor Koshy’s parents