“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 attempts to redefine marriage have been going on for more than a decade. In the past few months, Ireland and USA have made overt, definite steps to legalise same-sex marriage. Many other countries around the world are moving in the same direction. In Singapore too, the voice in favour of same-sex marriage is getting louder. There is an incredible surge of interest in affirming homosexuality over the last few months. In my opinion, ‘gay marriage’ will soon become a common practice across the world.
Therefore, we must not dither over this issue! Should Christians go along with the changing mindset of modern society about marriage? Unfortunately, some churches around the world have made public affirmation of their approval of same-sex marriage as an acceptable practice. Some churches have accepted unrepentant homosexuals as members, and even appointed such as leaders of their denominations or congregations. Though it is a very sad phenomenon, we do know that such spiritual and moral erosion and decadence have already been predicted in the Scriptures as signs of the end-times. “This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away” (2 Timothy 3:1-5).
This original blueprint of marriage has been reaffirmed repeatedly in the New Testament as well. Jesus categorically declared the marriage union as between a man and a woman in Matthew 19:4, 5 (cf. Mark 10:6, 7). The apostle Paul also upheld the “man-woman” marriage union, just as God has originally intended it to be (Ephesians 5:31).
Marriage is created by God, and is defined by God’s Word as the covenantal and sexual union of a man and a woman in lifelong allegiance to each other alone, as husband and wife. God created man male and female, each with distinctive masculine or feminine natures and thereby distinctive roles in marriage as husband and wife. For modern churches and their leaders and members to “rewrite” the marriage institution as including same-sex union is an appalling defiance of God’s sovereignty over this solemn institution. No government or judge or church leader is above God! If human institutions and authorities would defy and violate the divine purposes and authority, then every faithful church and Christian must seek to stand firm for the declaration and practice of God’s command. As Peter and other apostles said, “We ought to obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29).
The mysterious and profound meaning that Scripture gives to marriage is that God has instituted the marriage relationship between male and female — which is the only manner they may fulfil their distinctive roles as husband and wife so that they may manifest the pure, sanctifying love that is between Christ and the church. The husband is commanded to pattern his relationship to his wife after Christ’s headship over the church; he is also to relate to her with the sacrificial love that Christ has demonstrated through His life and death for the church. The “great” (and thus glorious) mystery of marriage, as God has instituted it when He created man and woman, is that in the marriage relationship as male and female, they may represent Christ and the church. Thus, it is incumbent that the roles of man and woman as husband and wife should not be exchanged.
Romans 1:24-32 depicts it thus, “Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen. For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet. And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful: who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.”
However, ‘same-sex marriage’ proponents teach people not to repent from the sin of homosexuality for the salvation that Christ offers. The Gospel of salvation is also offered to repenting homosexuals. But habitual, permanent engaging in same-sex activity, and the rejecting of the Gospel call to repentance and belief on Christ, will exclude a man from God’s kingdom and will utterly condemn him.
The recognition of ‘same-sex marriage’ is a clear social and personal statement against God and His sovereignty, against Christ, the Church and the Gospel. It will lead to greater spiritual and moral declension in our homes, churches and society. May our church continue to preach the Word, rebuking sins and calling people to repentance, faith and salvation. May all our members walk to please God and, by their words and actions, promote godliness and the Gospel.
“According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust” — (2 Peter 1:3-4).
Christians struggle daily with temptations and sins that easily beset them. Is it then possible for us to live a godly life? Can we live a life that is holy and pleasing to God? Regardless of our doubts about the possibility of living a godly life, Peter firmly asserts that it is possible to live a godly life because “his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness”.
Like Peter, Paul also says that the grace of God given to believers will urge them on to a godly life. In Titus 2:11-14, Paul teaches us that “the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; …who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works”.
Godliness is possible only because of God’s gracious provision for its nurture in us. If we reject what God provides for this purpose, we cannot be godly.
It is known to us all that Peter (like most of us) also has a story of failure and full restoration to a godly life to tell us. He had tasted the bitterness of failure in his spiritual pursuit. Though he made bold claims about being loyal to Christ, when the time of testing came, he denied his Master three times. However, he had been changed by the divine power of the Lord. As he repented, he received the power of the Lord to be a loyal minister of God’s truth. And now he declares to believers who have been struggling with temptations, failures and disappointments that godliness or true piety is possible through the power of God. His message for all of us is that we should stop selfpitying and doubting, and start thinking about the provision of the unmatched divine power. That is why he assures us that “his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness”.
Now read how Paul’s pen writes about the greatness of the divine power made available and the results of it in our lives (with emphasis added):
“That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God; Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness; Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son” (Colossians 1:10-13).
“And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come: And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all” (Ephesians 1:19-23).
filleth all in all” (Ephesians 1:19-23). “That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; … Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen” (Ephesians 3:16-21).
“… through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue”
(2 Peter 1:3b).
To be godly, we can have no other perspective about our life than that which Christ’s life would grant us. Without a thorough and intimate knowledge of Christ, none can lead a godly life. To be godly, we need to follow our Master. Whatever He counts as glorious and virtuous, we must strive to attain. Then shall we inherit the glory and virtues of the Son of God. In short, a godly person is one who is preoccupied with the glory and holy virtues of Jesus Christ.
Paul’s life illustrates this – “According to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death. For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:20-21; cf. 3:7-10).
“Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises”
(2 Peter 1:4a).
In order to help us stay the course, the Lord has given us many promises. These promises are unmistakable assurances because God will always keep His Word. They are better than silver and gold, which are perishable. God’s promises are never affected by circumstances. As God is unchanging, His promises are also unchanging. So their value is indescribable, indeed “great and precious”.
His promises help us overcome temptations and trials, and separate from ungodly ways. Trials will normally compel us to reject godly ways. But when we think of the great and precious promises of God, we realise that if we patiently wait on the Lord, He will help us overcome them. This helps us not to forsake godly ways.
Peter leaves us to wonder at the blessedness of men who live by God’s promises by pointing to the promises they inherit as “exceeding great and precious promises”. Their blessedness is as great as the value of the promises they inherit from God.
No wonder Paul urges us, “Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God” (2 Corinthians 7:1).
“… that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust”
(2 Peter 1:4b).
The ultimate purpose of living a godly life is that we may be partakers of the divine nature, and thus overcome the lust and corruption of the world. The pursuit of godliness purges a man from the uncleanness of this world and fleshly lust. A carnal lifestyle must be a thing of the past for a person who pursues godliness. “For the time past of our life may suffice us to have wrought the will of the Gentiles, when we walked in lasciviousness, lusts, excess of wine, revellings, banquetings, and abominable idolatries” (1 Peter 4:3).
Divine nature and worldliness cannot co-exist. Thus, over time, the grip of lust and worldliness decreases steadily in the life of a godly person. At the end, we shall be “changed into the same image from glory to glory” (2 Corinthians 3:18).
I thank God for a very blessed Church Camp with rich spiritual feeding of God’s Word, as well as for safety, strength and protection. Thank God for our camp speakers (our pastor, Rev Prabhudas Koshy, and Rev Tan Kian Sing), for Elder Ng and the Camp Committee, games organisers, preachers, pianists, AV team, JW committee, Elder Eliezer and Sis Arlaine, Preacher Edsel and all the brethren who served in other ways. Praise God for all their labour of love for the Camp.
Thank God for the many valuable lessons which I have learnt from the Morning Devotions, Prayer Meetings, video clips on the mission trips to Cebu / Pangasinan and other parts of the Philippines, as well as the Question-and-Answer sessions.
Praise God for the preaching of God’s Word on the theme, “Have Faith in God”. Pastor Koshy and Rev Tan laboured to bring us the messages which were very soul-searching, causing me to examine my heart and pray. Here are some pointed admonitions:
May the Lord help us to have true and living faith. Amen.
This, being my first church camp as a married man, I thank God for enabling my wife Shan to come as well, which is incidentally her first Gethsemane Church Camp. He has seen us through our individual peculiar difficulties at work in the few weeks running up to the camp, and enabled us to come and be focused on the study of His Word.
Thank God for the messages preached on the important and pertinent theme for Christians – “Have Faith in God”. Personally, Wednesday’s evening message on “Faith to Depend upon God” is a sobering one for me. It causes me to think of and examine the activities in my own individual and family life, whether they be of God’s will. It also makes me realise that if we live our life in full dependence on God, in accordance with His will for our life, we can have confidence in tomorrow (uncertain though it may be to us). This gives me great assurance as we resume our busy lives back in Singapore and face all our commitments at home, at work, in church, with greater confidence going forward.
A special mention of thanks to Bro Kwan Teng and his team in organising the games, as well as all the preparatory planning and even late nights spent before the camp. It was a time of fun and interaction among one another. We got to see a different (and less serious) side of people during the games. Personally, I was pretty amused by the intense and competitive spirit of some players in our games group.
Thank God for the Church Camp!
This is not only my first Gethsemane Church Camp, it is also my first church camp after coming over to Singapore. So I was looking forward to experience what it would be like. This is a lot more luxurious than the church camps that I have been used to in Australia, which are held in campsites where we sleep in freezing cold dormitory-style rooms with squeaky bunk beds. Thank God for the comfortable environment we have here. Physically speaking, we have been well-fed and have profited from the games and exercise, albeit little compared with the spiritual meat which have been fed to us. It is not always easy to take the spiritual meat, especially when the Scriptures and the preaching prick and convict my heart. Yet I am so thankful that day by day, God’s Word continues to instruct, rebuke and correct me.
I have been deeply moved by Rev Tan’s life example and testimony, where the faith of his family is being exercised daily for the past 18 years. It is a fine example of God’s power and God’s promises fulfilled in action.
One verse that stirs my heart was Romans 10:21 – “…All day long I have stretched forth my hands unto a disobedient and gainsaying people.” The longsuffering and mercy of the Lord is so great indeed. How long will we make Him wait while we live in disobedience and non-compliance? It causes me to think what kind of faith I had. If my faith can be measured as water in a glass, is it full, half-full, or close to empty?
In the last day’s message, I’m thankful that Pastor ran overtime as he laboured to finish delivering all that he had prepared in his message. For how can we finish learning about having faith in God? In that message, Abraham’s faith in God led him to abandon all that he loved, even his own son. Faith leads us to the untried and the unknown, but it is not without absolute substance and undeniable evidence (Hebrews 11:1). I was deeply encouraged by Jesus’ words on having faith. Even if it is as small as a grain of mustard seed, how powerful it can be, because it is the work of God and not our work.
Thank God also for a blessed time of fellowship and getting to know more of our church brethren a bit better during this camp. Praise the Lord for this Church Camp!
Praise the Lord for His marvellous provision for this year’s church camp! Thank God for a blessed time of feasting on God’s Word, as well as warm fellowship with like-minded brethren in Christ! The theme, “Have Faith in God”, has certainly been a timely reminder for us to trust in God’s sovereign and perfect will for our lives. Truly, “faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1). We need faith to “endure trials”, to “do good works”, to “depend on God”, and to “patiently wait for Christ’s return”.
May we exercise more faith in our faithful God who never fails to keep His promises. Mal. 3:10 says, “Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.” May the Lord find us faithful, and may we all occupy till He comes!
I praise and thank God for the opportunity and provision for my family and me to attend this year’s church camp. Praise God for the reminder that my faith (which is based on the oracles of God) must abound, be continuous, and follow the beautiful feet of them that preach the Gospel of peace. I pray that I will submissively obey God, suppress my self-will, and seek ways and means to provide practical help to those in need, lest my faith be without works and thus be dead. All glory be to Jesus Christ our Lord and Saviour!
I want to thank the Lord for enabling me to attend the church camp this year. Initially, I thought I would not be going as I had school and other commitments that fell on the same week as the camp. However, as I was eventually able to shift all of that to the following week, I thought of going to the camp. But a week before the camp, I fell sick and had a high fever that lasted for a few days. So I’d like to thank the Lord for being gracious unto me and healing me of my illness so that I was able to enjoy the camp. Thank God also for the fellowship that I had with the brethren, for the messages that were preached throughout the camp, and also for the efforts that the camp committee had put into the camp. All praise be unto His name!
Ithank God for the many lessons I have been taught through the camp, which applied to me in no small way.
Firstly, thank God for working upon me even prior to the camp. In deciding whether to go or not, God proved Himself to be the Provider of all things. Furthermore, through His Word, He had shown me my desperate need to have faith in Him. Also, through the prompting and good example of brethren, I was encouraged to go.
James 1:2 teaches us to be joyful when we “fall into divers temptations”. This is possible only through faith. Many things can take away our joy in the Lord; in my case, I think the most plaguing problem for me is my “own understanding” (Prov 3:5). Oftentimes I would fret when things look impossible and beyond my mind’s comprehension, which cause me much struggle and anguish; consequently, there is no peace in my heart and joy fades away from me.
One lesson that struck me is the call to be confident in things unlikely or seemingly impossible, as manifested in a living faith which does “good works” that benefit man and glorifies God. For come what may, God who calls us will lead us and will never leave us to struggle alone. If we just look up to God and allow Him to lift us above our trials and temptations, we will surely be able to see His tender mercies and rejoice in Him always, realising that “He that spared not his own Son” shall “freely give us all things”.
Lastly, thank God for giving us His Word accompanied with the gift of faith, and His Spirit to teach us so that we may discern and abide in the will of God. Therefore in times when my faith is weak, by His grace, I will not fail. Amen.
With a grateful heart to God for enabling me to attend Church Camp 2015, I thank God for precious lessons learnt on the theme, “Have Faith in God”. I’ve learnt much from the six sermons by Pastor Koshy and the nightly messages by Rev Tan Kian Sing, as well as the morning devotions by Preachers Dennis, Kelvin, Jeremiah and Andrew.
2 questions by Pastor in the opening sermon “pricked” my heart deeply – “What is the state of my faith?” and “Do I have genuine faith?” This awakened me to search myself and I learn to beware of these errors –
In Pastor’s sixth sermon, he reminded us of our daily spiritual responsibility: a believer’s life is an open book for people around him to see how his faith is growing. This is a timely reminder for me to be a good daily testimony for God. May the Lord help me to grow in my faith in Him.
Thank God for the labour of Elder Ng, our Camp Master, and his camp committee. This year, I also thank God for blessing us with the participation of new brethren in our midst. We hope they all feel welcome in this camp and find joy in worshipping with us in our church. All glory to God!
I thank God for giving me the boldness and words in expressing my thoughts to praise His Name.
In this church camp, when Rev Tan Kian Sing testified of his family’s trust in the Lord concerning their struggles with the health problems of their daughter Faith, God brought to my memory His goodness towards me in my own difficulties. When I lost my first job after coming to Singapore, I became very anxious and troubled. A brother then encouraged me, “Brother, one day is long enough for the Lord to give you a job. Just pray and commit everything to Him.” I praise God that after one week, I found a job.
We also heard Pastor preaching on ‘Perils of Lack of Faith’. When he started enumerating the perils one by one – worry, anxiety, fearfulness, doubt, failure to discern God’s will and failure in spiritual battles, I felt that all of those perils are present in me. That’s why my faith is very weak. But when he said that ‘by faith you can conquer the mountains’, it really stirred me to consider the greatness of our Lord – how He raised the dead Lazarus from the grave, how He stilled the raging waves, how He turned the water into wine, etc. I praise God for bringing me to the camp to hear all the messages on faith.
Now, in the church, Pastor mentioned to us about the building fund of 5 million dollars by the end of 2015. We still haven’t reached even 1 million. As human as I am, I thought to myself that it’s impossible to reach this goal. May God forgive us for our lack of faith; we have been hearing all these things, and also many testimonies of God’s goodness in Pastor’s life and ministry, yet we doubt. May He strengthen my faith and cause me to doubt no more. In the spirit of the brother who had earlier encouraged me, I like to say: “One day is long enough for the Lord to give us 5 million!”
Our family would like to praise and thank God for the gracious provision (through the church) for us to attend this year’s Church Camp. During one of our family morning devotions in the camp, we read from Psalm 34:8, “O taste and see that the LORD is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him.”
Truly, how we have ‘tasted’ God’s goodness during and even before the camp. Thank God for Pastor and Church Session who had enabled us to come. During the camp, we were fed physically by the sumptuous spread during meal times, and spiritually through the faithful preaching of God’s Word. We ‘saw’ that our faith in this world is a journey filled with perils and promises; as such, we are to have faith in God through our trials and to depend on Him daily.
Personally, I am challenged to grow and be led from ‘faith to faith’, increasing and progressing ‘day by day’. As a family, we are to continue to serve Him faithfully. I ‘saw’ the faith in God through the “cloud of godly witnesses” in the biblical characters, as well as in our pastor and Rev Tan. Undeniably, they are living examples of the blessedness of a man whose faith is in Him and Him alone. Most importantly, they had pointed us to the Word of God and Christ, the Perfect Example who is our guide and hope. All glory be to God!
We praise God for last week’s church camp (June 15-19) held at Holiday Inn, Batam, in which 215 members and friends participated. Great spiritual blessings were poured upon the congregation, as they were brought under the exposition of God’s perfect Word. There were repentance, renewal of hearts and rededication of hearts to God’s glory. We thank God for the preachers and the camp organisers who laboured with great devotion to the Lord. Today we publish some of the testimonies; more will be published in the coming weeks.
I am a university student, having finished my first year of studies. Coming up to give my testimony is a “test” of my faith in God, because I have to put my trust in God to help me overcome my nervousness and stage fright. I am always afraid that I’ll say something wrong in my testimony. But all glory to God for letting me share my testimony of how good He is to me.
Before I came, I had many questions and worries in my life. I came to the church camp in search of answers or at least to learn something from His Word. I needed some form of assurance. God is good – I learnt more than I expected. So I’ll share 2 examples of how my worries are answered.
First, I have been very disappointed with my university exam results. Although I made detailed study plans and followed them seriously, I did worse than the previous semester. I was so ashamed of myself and I nearly lost hope in God. But I learned through the first and third night messages of this camp that I must patiently endure trials and depend upon God. God’s promises in the Bible never fail and I know that He will guide me according to His plan for me. My results may disappoint me but if God let it happen, it is according to His good will. Indeed, it may be a period of drought for me now, but I must still labour on for my remaining 3 years in university, believing that “rain” (relief) will come.
Second, I have learned how we should serve the Lord when there is increasing pressure from school, family and the world. I asked this question during the Q & A session, “How shall I answer those who discourage me from doing more for God, saying it’s dangerous?” I learnt that my service to the Lord is not up to man to decide, not even myself. I am grateful for the lesson that only God should decide how I ought to live my life and serve Him. And the knowledge of His will comes by prayer and listening more to the Word preached by faithful men. I also learnt that I ought to walk straight with God to know His will, for He will fully let me know His will for me.
There are many more questions for which I have found answers through the messages and the fellowship we had in this camp. Here are briefly some other important learning points that I have gleaned:
Thanks be to God for helping me share my testimony!
Who by him do believe in God, that raised him up from the dead, and gave him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God” (1 Peter 1:21).
I thank God for this year’s church camp theme that is so apt for my life. The messages constantly reminded me to examine my own faith to ensure it is not a devilish, distorted, desecrating, dishonest and disobedient faith but a joyous, patient, living, working, true and genuine faith – one that wholly depends on God even in times of trials, like the pressures in school from ungodly friends or from our own sinful nature.
In their respective sermons, Pastor and Rev Tan Kian Sing kept using examples of prophets with such great faith. One of them was Moses, whose life was full of testings, and yet he trusted in God so greatly. Truly, whatever is impossible and illogical in the sight of men, is possible to God. So we need to have faith. (Thinking about this, I really do not deserve the name Moses). I really have to look to Jesus and pray more that He will direct my path on this journey of faith and strengthen my faith in the midst of much tribulation.
1 Peter 1:7 says, “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”. Knowing that I am not alone and with Christ’s very soon return as my motivation to be with Him forever in eternity, I have to grow spiritually, having faith in God.
Of course, I thank God for all the preachers for delivering the Word to us faithfully each day, and also the camp committee and all those who laboured in service for the Lord to ensure that everything went smoothly.
All glory to our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ!
I truly thank God for the church camp, and for clearing all obstacles for me to attend.
As the hymn goes, ‘Thy Word is like a deep, deep mine; and jewels rich and rare/Are hidden in its mighty depths for every searcher there.’ I am aware that I have not fully grasped all the precious lessons expounded from the Word. Thus, I shall continue to meditate on the truths preached even after I return home, and pray that God will ever continually teach my heart. However, at this time, I would just like to share two lessons that I have learnt during this camp.
Firstly, I learnt the importance of God’s Word in our life and how it is essential in our life of faith, for faith is taking God at His Word. Through the theme messages preached, as well as through godly and edifying fellowship, God has deeply impressed upon my heart that His Word is our only source of true joy, comfort, peace, wisdom and guidance. For instance, Psalm 119:50 – ‘’This is my comfort in my affliction: for thy word hath quickened me’’ – teaches us that the Word is our comfort in our affliction, as well as the means of true revival in our souls.
Secondly, I learnt how to view afflictions in my life. Afflictions, whether great or small, are ordained by God, and He directs them all for His sovereign purposes. Blessed be the Name of the LORD, for “[e]very good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning” (James 1:17). I must learn to behold even each and every trial as God’s good and perfect gift for me. To look at trials this way, my vision is removed far from myself (which is all weakness and darkness), and guided upwards to the Father of lights, where I am lost in His goodness and grace. Praise be unto God, who is the Giver of all things! Amen.
Greetings in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ! I thank the Lord for His grace for bringing my wife and I, and my father-in-law to this church camp.
I praise God for the relevant messages being preached by our Pastor, Rev Tan and our own preachers. Hearing and receiving the messages about our faith in God made me realise that I am a man of little faith. But God is gracious and merciful to remind me to put my trust in Him completely, for He will take care of everything.
I don’t know how the Lord wants me to serve Him in the church, I don’t know if the Lord will give us our own child, etc. But one thing is certain concerning what the Lord wants me to do. The Lord wants me to “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths” (Proverbs 3:5-6).
All glory to God!
Ipraise and thank the Lord for this opportunity to join the church camp and that my father could join us. I thank God for a wonderful fellowship with the brethren. I have been in Gethsemane for 5 years. But I am guilty of not knowing the brethren by their first name. Thank God for such an opportunity as this to get to know many from the church.
A few weeks prior to this church camp, I have been working overtime due to lack of manpower and more responsibilities. Even when I arrived here, my mind was somewhat carried away by the responsibilities I left behind, especially whenever I received emails from my workplace. I cried and prayed to the Lord that He will strengthen my faith, for He will take care of tomorrow and whatever I have left behind. The daily feeding of His word in this church camp constantly reminded me to stay in the presence of the Lord.
James 4:14 says, “Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.” The question of “what is your life?” really struck me. Indeed, what is my life? Praise God that through the series of messages, I have learned that life ought to be simple. It is to be in full dependence on the Lord. It is to be in full dependence on His promises so that we may walk in faith.
May the Lord continually bless me with a steady heart in Him, that I may be revived and renewed, and serve more for His glory.
All glory to God!
Iwant to thank the Lord for enabling me to go for this year’s church camp. Having been unable to go for church camp for the past few years due to work, I was really looking forward to this year’s camp. However, about a week before the camp, I fell while cycling and sustained head injury. The Lord is good to preserve me from more serious harm. I started to have severe back pains while resting at home. The back pains were so unbearable that I thought that I might not be able to go for the camp, and I became disappointed. However, the Lord gave me relief from the pain. I also thank God for comfort and encouragement and prayers from church friends, brothers and sisters in Christ, uncles and aunties, loved ones and family members. Thank you all for your love and concern and much prayers for me. Not forgetting also all your reminders to me to walk slowly and take things slowly, and helping me with my luggage.
Thank God for the messages preached and the precious lessons learnt. Indeed, when trials and difficulties come our way, God gives more grace and thus we can have full faith and confidence in Him. We can depend and rely fully on Him because He is Sovereign and in control of all matters of our life. That is why we need not fear, for God is always there. I pray I will always submit and do God’s will and be obedient to Him. As the song goes, “God never moves without purpose or plan when trying his servant and moulding a man. Give thanks to the Lord though your testing seems long; in darkness he giveth a song.” God has a good and higher purpose, so we can fully trust in Him to take care of us. Romans 8:28 says it best – “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”
(more testimonies next week)
Our Ethiopian mission church has just held their 9th Anniversary Thanksgiving Service. We have received a brief report and some photos of the event, which are published below.
Our preparation for the Ethiopian mission began in January 1999, when Bro Ephrem Chiracho came to Singapore as an FEBC student. As he pursued his theological studies in FEBC, he attended Gethsemane BPC. Later his wife, Sis Gete, also joined him here in Singapore. Together, they were trained in FEBC and served amongst us till 2003. Upon the completion of their theological training, they both went to serve in Bible College of East Africa, Kenya, for two years.
In August 2005, they returned to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and began the Gospel work there. The church was inaugurated a year later on 28th May 2006. A mission team from our church, made up of Eld & Mrs Mah, Bro Eddie Ng, Sis Melissa Mah, my wife and I, went to participate in the inauguration service. Later, on 28th November 2007, in our Second Missionary Conference held in Cebu, the Philippines, Bro Ephrem and Bro Reggor were ordained as pastors of their respective churches.
Pastor Ephrem, and his work. The Lord gave two more preachers to colabour with him, namely Pr Imane Dola and Pr Engida. Another Gospel station, Alem Gena, was started in January 2009. In this place, we have a church and a Bible Institute. Let us continue to pray for and support all the preachers, churches and their Gospel work, as well as the 15 full-time students currently in Gethsemane Bible Institute. The brethren in Ethiopia face many kinds of opposition, threatenings, violence. Pray for the brethren that they will grow in faith and in the knowledge of God’s Word.
Dear Rev Koshy,
Greetings in the blessed Name of our Lord Jesus Christ!
How are you doing with your family? How is your health?
Over here, we are fine by God’s preserving grace. By His grace, Gethsemane BPC, Ethiopia, has just celebrated God’s goodness, mercy, protection and providence for the past nine years and His blessings over GBI for the past three years. Truly, Psalm 103:1-5 is the song of our soul to the Almighty God. He has been faithful to us through all the ups and downs which we went through these years. He has been with us as we walked through “the valley of the shadow of death”. His hand has prospered, protected and provided for His work here in Ethiopia. We stand in His presence with a great sense of indebtedness and gratitude for all that He has done in us, through us and for us.
In this anniversary, we had 6 adult and 4 infant baptisms, besides 4 who transferred their membership. The GBI students had the opportunity to serve in singing hymns and spiritual songs. All glory to God!
We also take this opportunity to praise God for Gethsemane BPC, Singapore and the Gethsemane B-P mission churches and all likeminded brethren who stood with us all these years to support God’s work in Ethiopia. May the living and true God of Israel bless all your works for His glory.
Have a blessed week of service. Please convey our heartiest regards to all.
Yours in Christ’s service,
Rev Ephrem Chiracho
After these things the Lord appointed other seventy also, and sent them two and two before his face into every city and place, whither he himself would come. Therefore said he unto them, The harvest truly is great, but the labourers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth labourers into his harvest” (Luke 10:1-2).
The Philippines, a land steeped in Roman Catholicism and in the fetters of idolatry and witchcraft, is made up of 7107 islands, of which the Lord has been pleased to so graciously open Gospel doors to our church in the islands of Cebu (Cebu City, Bogo, San Antonio), Bohol and Luzon (Dagupan of Pangasinan province). May the Lord also open more doors to other of the numerous islands of the Philippines!
When I first heard of the two planned mission trips to visit our Filipino missionaries and to conduct DVBS for children, I decided in my heart that I would be going to Pangasinan. But first I had to overcome the hurdle of breaking the news to my parents. They had always warned me against travelling to the Philippines due to a spate of news reports concerning many natural calamities (like typhoons, earthquakes), as well as terrorist groups kidnapping foreigners. My mum was also sceptical of our church organising so many trips out of Singapore this year; moreover, my dad’s attitude was: “No need to serve in other countries. Just serve in Singapore, that will be enough.” Hence, I hesitated a few times before informing my parents of my mission trip to Pangasinan. To my surprise, when I broached the subject one morning while having breakfast, there was not much resistance from my mum this time round. All she said was: “Since you have already decided to go, so what can I do?” After informing them of the trip, I went ahead to book my plane tickets, etc.
Another hurdle that potentially stood in my way was a new project that I was assigned to take care of by my company in the month of April. Two staff were needed for this project, but when 1 of them resigned, as the project’s manager, I had to stand in and work full-time on the project. In addition to the added work demands, I had to keep up with the GBI and FEBC night classes. During that trying time, I returned home every night feeling extremely exhausted. My health was affected and I was afraid that I may not be able to travel. During this time, I thank the Lord for Pastor’s sermon (on the book of Matthew) concerning the folly of worrying for tomorrow and the Lord’s promise to take care of our tomorrows. I rested on this promise given in God’s Word, and (praise God) on 18 May, the Lord provided the 2nd staff so that I was able to go for the mission trip with peace of mind.
On the eve of our departure, early morning on 22 May, my mum (during her sleep) fell from her bed to the floor and sustained a big bruise on the back of her head. As she is on aspirin (which is a blood-thinning agent), any internal bleeding could result in blood clots in her brain following a fall. So that morning, she requested that I accompanied her to NUH Emergency unit. The doctors there gave her a CT scan and kept her in the E-bay for observation for 8 hours. Thank God the CT scan showed that everything was normal and she was discharged on the same evening.
That was not all. On the morning just before departure (i.e. 23 May), my father tried to dissuade me from going, citing a Straits Times report of the deaths of 2 persons in the Philippines because of the heatwave. I told my dad that my going was firm and instead requested that he be praying for me. Clearly, through all these incidents, I believe the devil was unhappy with my going for the mission trip, hence all these hurdles in my way. But thanks be to God, He has overturned all these seeming hindrances to enable me to still go for the mission trip.
Furthermore, I thank the Lord for Sis Joanna’s timely encouragement to me and I believe to the rest of the team as well. Her coming, together with the last-minute addition of Brother Kenneth, has added much strength and support to the initial team of five. I believe Kenneth’s presence has lightened the load of teaching for Sis Gina and Sis Sarah. His assistance in providing music accompaniment during singspiration, as well as Sis Sarah compiling the songs and lyrics for the singspiration sessions and acting as slide-clicker, and Sis Dorcas recording the music (ahead of time) for the songs, were all tokens of God’s blessings on the team. Not forgetting the provision of God’s servant, Preacher Jeremiah, who preached a message on unity during the Sunday worship service, and shared devotions during the 3 home visitations that followed.
Thank God for the warm fellowship with the Filipino brethren for the Gospel’s sake and the hospitality extended to us by the Filipino brethren, who cooked our meals daily in the hot and stuffy kitchen. I thank the Lord for Pr Donald and Sister Sejin who cleaned our rooms and went the extra mile to provide all the necessities that we may have a comfortable stay. We were encouraged by the many children whom God brought to our 1st DVBS in Pangasinan (including the parents who came) to listen to His Word and the Gospel message. May the Gospel seed that was planted in their hearts germinate and grow and bear fruits according to the timing of our Lord.
May the Lord continue to bless the work in Dagupan, Pangasinan and may many more living in the land of the Philippines be ushered into God’s Kingdom through the Gospel call. My prayer is also for our young ones to rise up and go and proclaim the Gospel wherever the Lord leads them, in fulfilment of the Great Commission. Amen.
Praise God for the opportunity to visit our mission station in Cebu, the Philippines, again, 8 years after my last visit (which was during the 2007 Missionary Conference). It was a joyful and satisfying experience to minister to and be ministered by the brethren there.
Thank God for His enabling grace and strength to accomplish the tasks He had laid upon us, for His unfailing love and care extended to us through His people there, as well as for safety, good health and the added bonus of refreshing fellowship throughout the 6 days.
young children in the church being trained up in the way they should go (Proverbs 22:6). Indeed, most conducted themselves well with godly fear, and showed themselves to be knowledgeable in God’s Word. Many of them had set good examples for the new DVBS participants, some of whom were still unsaved. I pray that the lessons of faith from the Book of Joshua will remain in their hearts and minds, and follow them through their lives as they grow in age and in faith. May God also continue to bless the humble efforts of the parents and be gracious to preserve this young generation for the furtherance of His kingdom in Cebu and beyond.
Praise God also for the opportunity to be fed with spiritual food during the 3 nights of GBI lectures conducted by Pastor on the theme, “Communion of the Saints”. It was promising to note that many church members came with their families to hear God’s Word. Truly, our constant prayer (in line with what we have learnt through Pastor’s lectures), is that God be pleased to continue His “sanctifying” work in the Cebu congregation, that their “sainthood” may be voiced abroad and His name be praised.
In the first part of this article, I have pointed out that we can learn precious lessons about praying in a God-pleasing manner from the Book of Psalms. 5 major elements stand out in the prayers recorded in the Psalms: (1) Praises of God, (2) Thanksgiving, (3) Petitions and Lamentations, (4) Confessions of Sins, and (5) Expectations. I have briefly discussed the first two of those elements in the first part; the rest will be deliberated in today’s article.
A Christian praises God when he recollects and describes God’s attributes and deeds. Such efforts from a believer would naturally produce a thanksgiving disposition towards God. To maintain it, one must strive to meditate on God’s attributes and deeds constantly. This article will continue to discuss the remaining three aspects.
David, who contributed significantly to the Book of Psalms, was a man who had been thrown into severe difficulties in life even to the point of death. However, because of the extreme afflictions he went through, he was enabled to pen down some wonderful psalms that reflect a believer’s heartfelt cry for God’s help in difficult times. Believers of every generation who go through such trying times can definitely learn much from those psalms which emerged out of afflictions. Their petitions to God would certainly encourage every afflicted child of God to cast himself in prayer to God.
The psalmists, when in distress, called for the attention of God at the very outset of their prayers. They began with phrases like: “Hear me when I call, … and hear my prayer (Psalm 4:1)”; “Give ear to my words, O Lord, consider my meditation. Hearken unto the voice of my cry…” (Psalm 5:1-2); and “Hear the right, O Lord, attend unto my cry, give ear unto my prayer…” (Psalm 17:1). This does not mean that God was previously inattentive to them; nor was He ignorant of their affairs. The calling for God’s attention shows the psalmists’ dependence on Him. They constantly sought to focus on their God rather than their troubles. In other words, they turned away from being preoccupied with their problems by paying attention to God.
Instead of just asking God to remove their afflictions, the psalmists yearned to draw near to God during such times. They were more desirous of the closeness of God (which they prayed for first) than the removal of their afflictions. For example, in Psalm 17, David prayed that God would “keep [him] as the apple of the eye, hide [him] under the shadow of [His] wings” (v. 8), before he asked God to deal with his enemies (v. 13). In Psalm 25, he prayed for God to lead him and patiently waited on Him by remembering His “tender mercies and lovingkindness; for they have been ever of old” (vv. 4-6); then in verse 19, he asked God to “consider” his enemies. Likewise in Psalm 27, he wanted to hide himself in God (v. 5) and seek God’s face (v. 8); only in verse 12 did the psalmist ask God to deliver him from his enemies.
At times, the psalmists in their extreme afflictions seemed to lament and complain to God about what had happened to them. They seemed to slump in despair, having lost hope. Yet by the end of their prayers, their lamentations would incline towards hope in God and praise to Him. In Psalm 6, after questioning God on how long he had to endure his suffering as his soul was “sore vexed” (v. 3), David expresses his agony: “I am weary with my groaning; all the night make I my bed to swim; I water my couch with my tears” (v. 6). However, the psalmist found comfort because of his confidence that God had heard his prayers and supplications (vv. 8-9). In Psalm 13, the psalmist seemed to question how long would God forget and hide from him (v. 1), and also how long his enemies would be exalted over him (v. 2). Yet in the end, the psalmist expressed trust in God and sang unto Him (vv. 5-6). Despite their lamentations, the psalmists constantly expressed their faith and hope in God.
The much-afflicted psalmists would also go through times of selfreflection and soul-searching. They would ask themselves whether they had led a holy life thus far. David cried out in Psalm 7, “O Lord my God, if I have done this; if there be iniquity in my hands; If I have rewarded evil unto him that was at peace with me” (vv. 3, 4a). Likewise, the psalmist of Psalm 77 communed with his “own heart” and his spirit “made diligent search” (v. 6). Affliction was a signal for the psalmists to reflect and discern if it was God’s chastisement to bring them back to Him. They were ready to confess their sins once that was made clear to them during self-reflection.
The psalmists looked to God to convict them of their sins during self-reflection. They pleaded with God to judge them. “The Lord shalljudge the people: judge me, O Lord, according to my righteousness” (Psalm 7:8a). “Judge me, O God, and plead my cause against an ungodly nation: O deliver me from the deceitful and unjust man” (Psalm 43:1). “Examine me, O Lord, and prove me; try my reins and my heart.” (Psalm 26:2). At times, the psalmists would also set themselves apart, before God, from the ungodly people around them. “God judgeth the righteous, and God is angry with the wicked every day” (Psalm 7:11). “Draw me not away with the wicked, and with the workers of iniquity” (Psalm 28:3a).
There were also times when the psalmists express their determination to keep themselves from the stain of sin. Psalm 17:3 says, “Thou hast proved mine heart; thou hast visited me in the night; Thou hast tried me, and shalt find nothing; I am purposed that my mouth shall not transgress.” In Psalm 26, when David found himself to be innocent after careful self-examination, he desired to come into God’s presence (v. 6) to serve Him by praising Him and to “tell of all [His] wondrous works” (v. 7). This was in stark contrast to Psalm 32, where David found it unbearable to have procrastinated in going to God to confess his sins. He confessed that “When I kept silence, my bones waxed old through my roaring all the day long. For day and night thy hand was heavy upon me: My moisture is turned into the drought of summer. Selah.” (vv. 3-4). Sorrow needs to be expressed in one’s confession of sins, as indicated in Psalm 38:18 – “I will be sorry for my sin.”
The psalmists who went before God to confess their sins pleaded for the mercy of God. They asked that the dealings of God be not according to the measure of their sins. “Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions” (Psalm 51:1). They would cry out to God not to deal with them in His fury. “O Lord, rebuke me not in thine anger, neither chasten me in thy hot displeasure.” (Psalm 6:1; cf. Psalm 38:1). It is important to reflect and ask God for forgiveness in prayer, such that one might be humbled and divinely sustained in one’s situation.
Very often, the psalmists prayed not because they wanted to change their situations but to change themselves. They were confident of receiving relief after praying because they knew that God would hear them. They left it to God to do what He deemed best for them. When the psalmists cried out for God’s attention, they were sure that their prayers would reach the Most High God. It can be observed that they exhibited full confidence that God would pay attention to them in troublous times. Psalm 4:3b says, “The Lord will hear when I call unto him.” Likewise, Psalm 17:6a says, “I have called upon thee, for thou wilt hear me, O God”.
Even the expectation that God would hear them brought much comfort to the psalmists. The psalmist rejoiced and was glad, “for [God] hast considered [his] trouble; [God] hast known [his] soul in adversities” (Psalm 31:7). The expectation of a believer that God will always be faithful to hear him in his distress will stir his heart to be full of love and gratitude towards God. This can be seen in Psalm 116:1-2, ”I love the Lord, because he hath heard my voice and my supplications. Because he hath inclined his ear unto me, therefore will I call upon him as long as I live.”
It can also be seen from many psalms that the psalmists’ spirits were lifted high before their prayers were ended. Their hearts were no longer turbulent but were stilled although their situations remained the same. When, for instance, David was fleeing from Absalom, he prayed to God in Psalm 3:6, “I will not be afraid of ten thousands of people, that have set themselves against me round about.” This was despite the fact that David was still fleeing for his life. Again David, in Psalm 4, started his prayer in distress but by the end of his prayer, his heart was reassured: “I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep: for thou, Lord, only makest me dwell in safety” (v. 8). A prayer uttered out of an expectant heart pleases God as it speaks of a quiet confidence in the Most High.
Like the psalmists, Christians who go through afflictions in life must not be overwhelmed by their situations, but must instead focus on God by praying. They must be more interested in their intimacy with God while they go through difficulties, rather than the mere removal of their problems. Then Christians will find themselves gravitating towards hope in God and praise of His name even in trouble. Afflictions also call for a time of self-reflection before God. Christians should look for none other judge but God to determine if they have led holy lives thus far. Upon the realisation of sin, Christians can plead before God not to mete out dealings equal to their transgressions by appealing to His attributes of mercy and lovingkindness.
Christians should be full of expectancy when they go to God in prayer, not because they expect God would immediately improve their situations, but simply because they expect their Heavenly Father to hear them. May God help and grant grace to all who wish to learn how to pray in a manner that is pleasing to Him.
When a person becomes a Christian, one of the first spiritual activities he will be introduced to is praying. Very often, praying can be a very daunting endeavour. We often hear many new (and sometimes, even experienced) Christians ask questions like, “Am I praying correctly?” “Is God pleased with the things that I utter in my prayers?” “Will God listen to me?” Therefore, praying aright is a serious concern to Christians of all levels of spiritual maturity. “Template” prayers that lack authenticity and sincerity are often heard. It is sad that many Christians do not know how to pray in a proper manner. As praying is communing with the Most High God, it is most important that prayers be uttered in a God-pleasing way; hence Christians must learn how to pray aright. Praying aright brings about many spiritual benefits to a Christian, enabling us to not only receive answers to our prayers, but also spiritual blessings from God.
The best way to learn how to pray is from the Word of God that the Heavenly Father has provided for His children. He has given us a manual on how to reach out to Him in prayer, particularly in the Book of Psalms. Psalms were written by different believers and compiled over a long span of time. The prayers of the psalmists arose out of their personal experiences of faith. At times, the prayers were written during times of great cheer and jubilation, and at times in extreme afflictions. Their prayers, out of the vicissitudes of their spiritual experiences, expressed their longing for God. Hence, in the Book of Psalms, we Christians have a rich resource from which we can learn how to pray.
To begin with, it is useful to categorize the prayers in the Book of Psalms into overarching topics and observe the manner in which the psalmists prayed. In this twopart article, we shall consider the following 5 overarching elements that constitute effective prayers. They are: (1) Praises of God, (2) Thanksgiving, (3) Confession of Sins, (4) Petitions and Lamentations, and (5) Expectations.
The Hebrew title of the Book of Psalms, Tehillim, means “praises”. The Book of Psalms is replete with praises of God. Out of the 150 Psalms, almost all of the Psalms carry a note of praise. This shows that in all the circumstances of life, there are always reasons to praise God in our prayers. In all the ups and downs of life, Christians will never be without occasion to praise God.
One of the common ways by which the psalmists praise God is by simply describing God as He is. For example, God is described by the psalmists as “excellent” (Psalm 8:1), “full of compassion, and gracious, longsuffering, and plenteous in mercy and truth” (Psalm 86:15).
It must also be mentioned that praises of God are seldom found without referring to God’s deeds. The psalmists would not stop at the adjectives used to describe God, but would go on with what God had done. For example, Psalm 19:1 says that “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork.” God’s work in creation continuously shows forth His glory. In Psalm 8, God’s Name is described to be excellent in all the earth. The reason for the excellence of God’s Name is because of God’s condescension to the lowly and humble ones despite His greatness. God is the Creator of the entire universe (Psalm 8:3). Despite His great power, He has condescended to man in making man to have dominion over His works (Psalm 8:6). In Psalm 9:1, the psalmist cried out, “I will praise thee, O LORD, with my whole heart; I will shew forth all thy marvellous works.” The marvellous works related to the deliverance that God had given to the psalmist from his enemies (Psalm 9:3-6).
Christians can learn from this pattern when they praise God. When they praise God for being good and gracious, it is meaningful to complement that with how God has been good and gracious to them in their lives. Descriptions of God’s Being, attributes and deeds go hand in hand in magnifying the great God.
The natural progression from praising God is to give thanks for who He is and what He has done. There is always a close association between praising God and giving thanks to Him. Psalm 92:1 says, “It is a good thing to give thanks unto the LORD, and to sing praises unto thy name, O most High”. Psalm 79:13 says, “So we thy people and sheep of thy pasture will give thee thanks for ever: we will shew forth thy praise to all generations.”
The following are examples of how some psalmists were being thankful to God for who He is. When they remembered God’s holiness, they thanked God for it (Psalms 30:4; 97:12). They thanked God for His goodness and enduring mercy (Psalms 118:1; 136:1-3). Our contemplation of God’s wonderful attributes should stir us to give thanks to God for who He is because there is none like Him in the entire world. God is incomparable. Furthermore, the great God has made a covenantal relationship with His people whom He has chosen to save.
The works of God are also reasons for Christians’ thankfulness to Him. Psalm 26:7 says, “That I may publish with the voice of thanksgiving, and tell of all thy wondrous works.” In Psalm 30, the psalmist expressed his gratitude to God, for He had turned his “mourning into dancing” and “hast put off [his] sackcloth, and girded [him] with gladness” (v.11). Likewise, from Psalm 35:18, the psalmist was overwhelmingly thankful to God and expressed it among many people because God had delivered him from his enemies.
Because of who God is and what He has done for His people, Christians must go before Him with a thankful disposition. This is especially so during times of worship. “Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name” (Psalm 100:4). Throughout the week, if Christians constantly meditate on God’s attributes and His deeds, their hearts would surely be filled with thanksgiving. They will then look forward to the day of worship and come before Him with a grateful heart to thank Him. Sometimes, even before the arrival of Sunday worship, a Christian can be overwhelmed by a great sense of gratitude, and would even rise up at midnight to thank God (Psalm 119:62).
(to be continued…)
Several important events are lined up in the coming few weeks to spread the glorious Gospel of our Lord Jesus near and far. Your prayers, participation, cooperation and contributions are much coveted. Children, youths, adults and seniors alike must rise up to serve the Lord with joy and enthusiasm.
May what was said about the Thessalonian church be true of our church also – “For from you sounded out the word of the Lord not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place your faith to God-ward is spread abroad; so that we need not to speak any thing” (1 Thessalonians 1:8).
Please read the following, and purpose in your heart and do all that you can as the LORD leads you. Our love for the Lord, His Word and Christian fellowship should not decline. With purity of heart and zeal, we must serve the Lord.
As you read this pastoral letter, two mission teams from our midst will already have been ministering in two different parts of the Philippines. All of them had left Singapore yesterday. One team, ministering in Pangasinan, comprises Pr Dennis Kabingue, Pr Jeremiah Sim and his wife Gina, Kenneth Wong, Violet Quek, Joanna Lim and Sarah Yong. The other team, ministering in Cebu, is made up of Eld & Mrs Mah Chin Kwang, Pr Kelvin Lim, Melissa Mah, Cornelius Koshy and Dorcas Koshy. My wife Carolyn and I left Singapore on Thursday morning to minister to our mission church in Bohol, and will be joining the team in Cebu this evening. Members of the teams will be involved in several activities – preaching in the worship services, special meetings and lectures, praising God and exhorting brethren in songs, DVBS for children, home visitations, street evangelism, etc.
Here is an excellent opportunity to bring some youths to the knowledge of our Great Saviour. Preacher Ko Lingkang (from Calvary Pandan BPC) will preach the Gospel message. I would like to urge all, both adults and youths alike, to take full advantage of this event to bring someone who is yet outside Christ to hear the Gospel.
Our Mandarin congregation has planned a Bible Conference on the topic, “Value of Godliness”. Scripture says in 1 Timothy 4:8, “godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.” Let us come and consider together this very precious topic from Scripture. Invite Christian friends also. God willing, I will be preaching in English, with Pr Daniel Lim interpreting into Mandarin. Please pray for us.
In less than a month, if the Lord permits, we will be heading to Holiday Inn Resort, Batam, for our annual church camp. The next few weeks of preparation are crucial to us. Let us earnestly pray for the camp committee and all those who assist in various aspects of the camp. The camp committee is made up of Eld Ng Poh Kok (Camp Master), Pr Jeremiah Sim, Bernard Lim, David Tan, Ng Kwan Teng and Matthew Mah. The committee is in the final stage of organising the camp. Let us praise God for their labour and cooperate with them so that we may all enjoy a blessed camp.
This camp has the largest participation we have ever had. We thank the Lord for enabling 216 (to date) to sign up for the camp. Let us avail ourselves to be a channel of blessing to one another. Because of the larger than expected gathering, there can be potential delays and problems in some areas of the camp. Let us show patience, if problems do occur. Please approach the camp committee members for any assistance you need. Nonetheless, let us have the mind of our Lord always – “not to be ministered unto, but to minister” (Matthew 20:28).
There are about 10 brethren who are in need of help. Those of us who have the ability to lighten the burden of these brethren, let us give as the Lord enables us. (Please indicate at the back of the cheque or on the envelope, “For the support of Church Camp participants”.) Jesus said in Matthew 25:40, “Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”
Let us also earnestly seek the Lord, that our faith may be strengthened through the learning of God’s Word and the fellowship of the saints. The study of God’s Word in the camp will be centred on the theme, “Have Faith in God”. During the night messages, Rev Tan Kian Sing will teach from the Epistle of James on how we should exercise our faith in fulfilling our duties and overcoming our challenges and trials of life. For the morning devotions, God’s Word will be expounded by Pr Dennis Kabingue, Pr Jeremiah Sim, Pr Kelvin Lim and Bro Andrew Koh. In the morning sessions, I will expound the camp theme from God’s Word. Brethren, pray for us that God’s Word will be greatly magnified in our midst. Oh that our faith may increase day by day!
The apostle Paul exhorted in Colossians 3:16, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom”. What is “the word of Christ”? It refers to the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments. Christ is their author and their subject matter. The Scriptures testify of Him. Jesus said, “Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me” (John 5:39).
So, when we listen to the words of the Bible, we are listening to Christ Himself. It should surprise no one that Christ has such titles as “the Word” (John 1:1, 14; 1 John 1:1-2; 5:7; Revelation 19:13), “the wisdom of God” (1 Corinthians 1:24, 30; Colossians 2:3), and “the truth” (John 14:6). He was “full of grace and truth” (John 1:14); in fact, “grace and truth came by Jesus Christ” (John 1:17)!
We honour Christ by honouring the Scriptures which testify of Him and His will. So Paul exhorts us, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you”. His Word must not be like a guest, a visitor, an acquaintance or a stranger with whom we cherish no special, devout and abiding relationship. His Word must not be like a friend whom we seldom meet up with, but rather, His Word should be as a resident member of our family with whom we are in constant and loving communication.
Let the Word of God dwell in you. To be sure, it is not enough for God’s Word to be on your study-tables, in your bags, in your hands or in your digital communication devices. Rather, you must yield yourselves as sacred “dwellings” to be occupied by His Word. It should be allowed to control and direct your lives at all times.
We are exhorted not only to let the Word of Christ dwell in us, but also to let it dwell richly in all wisdom. It must be allowed to teach, rebuke, correct, instruct, comfort and guide us, so much so that all its wisdom may be seen pre-eminently in all aspects of our lives.
Simply put, no other “occupant” is allowed to remain in us unless it is in full agreement with this chief dweller. Any other human thought, idea, ambition or craving that is contrary to the Word of Christ must be expelled at once. All our thoughts are to be vetted and approved by its wisdom. All our ambitions must be made hallowed by its wisdom. The wisdom of Christ’s Word must guide us all day long, and all the days of our earthly life. Christ’s Word must fully occupy us always. Let its glorious wisdom illumine us within, so that its splendour might shine through us.
The Seniors’ Ministry praise God for her 10th anniversary thanksgiving held on 7 May 2015 at Aloha Changi Chalet. It was a blissful and fruitful day where the elderly gathered to commemorate and recount God’s amazing grace and mercy bestowed upon them in this ministry for the past 10 years.
We arrived at the chalet at 9.40am. There was delightful laughter as the elderly folks appreciated the melodious singing of the various kinds of birds, as well as the awesome sea view which the chalet afforded.
Singspiration began at 10.15am, followed by a devotion message entitled “Gracious Living” by Rev Wee Eng Moh. He shared from the book of Ephesian 2:1-5, exhorting us on how we ought to live graciously trusting in our Lord Jesus Christ in all circumstances. We then had three seniors who testified the Lord’s goodness upon their lives and three young sisters who praised God with their voices.
After which, we proceeded to have lunch-fellowship and at the same time to proclaim the Good News of the Gospel to the unsaved friends in our midst. After lunch, the friendly battle of games started and the elderly “competitors” were divided into four groups, each led by a group leader. The four games lasted for 2 long hours, with each team earnestly challenging to win. We were impressed by the ability and the amount of strength the seniors demonstrated as they competed with one another in the games. Truly, it was all of God’s sufficient grace that granted the elderly the strength and the privilege to enjoy such experiences. “And my tongue shall speak of thy righteousness and of thy praise all the day long” (Psalm 35:28). Elder Mah and I gave away prizes to all four groups, from the first team to the fourth team, as all participants were deserving winners!
After tea break, the seniors prepared for the evening devotion. We sang joyfully several spiritual songs led by Elder Mah. The seniors thanked the Lord also for Pastor Koshy’s preaching from 2 Timothy 4:7-8 entitled “Gracious Leaving”. He reminded us of God’s sufficient grace which will enable us to leave graciously from this world to the eternal glory which our Saviour has prepared for us who believe. We truly thank God for these comforting verses which not only comfort and give us hope, but also reminded us that, as Christians, we are not earthly-bound but heavenly-bound!
God’s grace and mercy were seen being extended upon the Seniors’ Ministry where many brothers and sisters have been a great help to assist the uncles and aunties at the chalet. We thank God for such brothers and sisters who labour in the Lord to serve others. “And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever” (Revelation 5:13).
I have been joining the Seniors’ Ministry for the past 2 years, listening to God’s Word, praying and sharing together. Through the faithful preaching of God’s Word, God has changed my views in life. I have enjoyed the company of the seniors very much; through this ministry, I realize my need of walking closer to the Lord day by day.
The following are what I have benefited from the Seniors’ Ministry:
All glory and praise be to our Lord. Amen.
Ithank and praise God for His grace, providence and protection upon our Seniors’ Ministry over these past 10 years.
Our good God enables us to meet every Thursday morning to listen to His Word, and be blessed and edified by the messages. I have learnt many precious truths from God’s Word. God uses the weekly messages to reprove me to repent from my sinful ways, to convict me to be humble in all circumstances, as well as to lean upon His promises knowing that His grace is sufficient for all my needs.
I am touched to learn from our Pastor’s sharing that the knowledge he imparts to us through his messages is the fruit of his 20 over years of studying the Bible and reading Christian books. What we are receiving week after week comes from his years of hard work and hours of diligent reading. I pray that I will never take Pastor’s messages lightly.
The same is true about the messages we hear from our preachers every Thursday. Elder Mah and Preacher Jeremiah Sim spend hours in the meditation of God’s Word and preparation of sermons to preach to us. Thank God also for Pr Daniel Lim, who puts in much effort to interpret the sermons for those who are Mandarin-speaking.
Thank God also for providing the seniors with transport, through the 2 church vans and the cars of Elder Mah and Sister Kim Lei. Truly, thank God for His protection as the respective drivers help to ferry most of us to the houses where the meetings are held.
Amongst our group, we have some disabled friends who come in wheelchairs or with walking sticks. I am encouraged by their perseverance to attend the meetings regularly, as well as the constant joy on their faces despite their difficulties. This also makes me mindful to be more caring towards those who are afflicted, and to pray for the health and God’s protection of the elderly.
Finally, may we treasure God’s Word and not grow cold towards His Word. Through His Word, we receive the Spirit’s counsels. So, let us take heed to the exhortation in Galatians 5:16, “This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh”. Amen.
When I was first invited to give my testimony, I was apprehensive, but I was also reminded that I could not let such an opportunity pass by. My God has been so good to me and has provided all that I need even before I ask of Him; “how can I not use this chance to praise Him?’’
About twenty-five years ago, the Lord has amazingly turned around my life. Truly, as Matthew 19:26 says, “With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.” I was deeply troubled by what was going on in my life. My sins were deeply bothering me and always making me feel guilty. I was vexed by sins and totally helpless.
One day, one of my friends who knew I was deeply burdened invited me to her church. It was there that I remembered closing my eyes and pouring my heart out in prayer, telling God that I had sinned: ‘Please forgive me. I want to leave my sinful ways. But I am helpless. Please help me.’ I must have appeared very distraught as some of the sisters in the church came to comfort me and offered their help should I need it.
Amazingly, soon after my heartfelt prayer for God’s forgiveness and mercy, the Lord has changed my circumstances, thus giving me an opportunity to flee from my sinful entanglement. This all happened shortly after I prayed to the almighty God for forgiveness and help. I could not deny the presence of such a God, and could only thank Him for forgiving a sinner like me and allowing me to leave a life of sin.
Matthew 7:7 says, “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.” Regardless of what trials come before us, as long as we are ready to ask for forgiveness and seek His help, our Lord will answer our prayers in His time and will.
This turning point was only a beginning. The Lord later gave me more opportunities to read and study His Word, and now I understand what Christ had done for me on the cross. Dear fellow seniors and friends, as long as you are willing to confess, repent and accept the Lord Jesus as your Saviour, you will be saved into eternal life in heaven. That is not all. After accepting the Lord, you can also appreciate the kind of joy and peace one can have in the Lord. As for fellow believers, I want to encourage you to rejoice, to pray without ceasing and be thankful always for the blessings that our God has given us. May we always praise and thank God. Amen!
The struggles of a church leader are seldom fully understood, let alone empathised, by those who are around him. The apostle Paul has succinctly captured the troubles of the church leaders when he wrote: “We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed” (2 Corinthians 4:8-9).
Some in the ministry have been so plagued by problems that they allow their souls to plunge into self-pity and many other sins that accompany anxiety, worry and fear. Some leaders have used their needs, loneliness, problems to excuse their sins of greed, theft, sexual promiscuity, abusive behaviour, etc. They would say, “Nobody understands my problems. Nobody seems to care that I also have to take care of my family’s needs. It is such pressure that led me to steal.” Or they may say, “Nobody else seems to feel for me in my loneliness the way she does. If any of them knew what I was going through in this leadership role, they would understand why I need this kind of embrace, and why I need this kind of ‘unconditional acceptance’. I have borne enough of the burden of being everybody’s spiritual example; I can’t take it any more! And I don’t care if they don’t approve!”
Self-pity is a subtle sin; it is packed with deceptive power. It looks so meek and weak, but underneath it is pride. Self-pity is a blind leader of proud men, guiding them into pits of sins.
Every leader must learn to find his strength, wisdom, courage and provision in the Lord. The Lord— and He alone—must be our portion; otherwise we will give in to self-pity and all the sins that accompany it. We must seek the presence of God where there is “fulness of joy” and where “at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore” (Psalm 16:11). Let us learn to draw near to God when all kinds of troubles befall us. Truly, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea” (Psalm 46:1-2).
“For Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world, and is departed unto Thessalonica…” (2 Timothy 4:10). Demas was a fellow labourer of Paul in the work of the Gospel (cf. Colossians 4:14; Philemon 24). Paul mentioned him along with the early church leaders like Luke, Marcus and Aristarchus.
Apparently, Demas left Paul and the ministry after he fell in love with this present world. What is it about the world that leaders (like Demas) in particular are tempted to love?
In Luke 8:14, Jesus cautioned, “… when they have heard, go forth, and are choked with cares and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to perfection.” Our Saviour mentioned three causes that could lead a man away from being fruitful in the kingdom of God. They are cares of this life, riches of this world and pleasures of this world. Sadly, Demas’ motive for forsaking Paul might have been his love for worldly ease, safety and comforts, as well as his disinclination to brave danger with Paul.
Anyone who sincerely serves the Lord will soon find that he needs to sacrifice all his desires for comfort, pleasure and glory of this world. Anyone who entertains an immoderate love for this material world, and its gain, pleasure and glory, will not be able to serve God fervently and faithfully. He will soon wilfully abandon the cause of the Gospel because of his love for this material world.
The best safeguard from this pitfall is to always set our mind on the glory of God and His kingdom. Paul said, “But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world” (Galatians 6:14). The spell of sin’s fascination is broken when the superior pleasures of God’s presence become our preoccupation.
If we love the Lord and His work, then we must also remind ourselves that “the friendship of the world is enmity with God” and “whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God” (James 4:4). Think long and hard about those who have fallen so painfully and drastically, having drunk the deadly poison of worldliness. May we be warned!
Church leaders are not free from the temptations of sin. They need to be always on guard lest they be suddenly overtaken by the deceitfulness of sin. My prayer is that the Biblical expose of the deceitfulness of sin that surrounds church leaders will further intensify our vigilance and prayer so that we may keep ourselves pure for the work of the Lord.
The apostle John wrote about an early church leader who walked into this pitfall. “I wrote unto the church: but Diotrephes, who loveth to have the preeminence among them, receiveth us not” (3 John 9). It is not at all uncommon that the behaviour of certain men in the church leadership degenerate into one of self-assertiveness and selfglory. A sense of immunity from accountability and authority fills their minds. They act as though they are above everyone, and even the demands of morality and charity.
Like Diotrephes who opposed and sidelined the apostle John and other leaders of the early church, some of the modern-day church leaders also act highhandedly. They become domineering, bossy and love the prestige and power of leadership so much that they care for none but themselves. They forget godly men whom God has used to nurture the church. They slander good men and promote those who are just like themselves
Let us protect ourselves from this sin of pride by co-labouring with and submitting ourselves to godly men who love God’s truth and righteousness and serve before Him humbly, faithfully and diligently. The apostle Peter advises church leaders, “Neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being ensamples to the flock … Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble. Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time” (1 Peter 5:3-6).
Submit yourself also to a council of biblically-minded, spiritually-wise advisers. “Without counsel purposes are disappointed: but in the multitude of counsellors they are established” (Proverbs 15:22). The Bible makes clear provision for rebuking an elder who persists in sin (cf. 1 Timothy 5:19-20). No one is above reproof. Everyone ought to be accountable. Let every one of us who serves in the leadership remind himself that God expects us to be humble, submissive and accountable to one another.
The apostle Paul cautions, “For time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables” (2 Timothy 4:3-4).
Many who express a passion for God’s truth at the beginning of their ministry have succumbed later to the popular notions and expectations of the people around them. The love of truth is weakened by the love for recognition and admiration, and soon integrity has no leg to stand on. Every manner of rationalization and compromise to meet the demands of the expanding audience takes over. Doctrines are not emphasized; moral purity is not pursued after. The audience is to be entertained — the itching ears are to be “scratched” — or else he would have to face the unhappiness of the crowd. He is afraid that people would desert him, so immunity from objection and opposition is created with a heavy dose of relational ethics. The language of love, forgiveness and acceptance abounds — but for those who have eyes to see, it is but a camouflage to cover up the abandonment of love for God’s truth!
In order to protect ourselves from such perilous compromise in the ministry, we should cultivate an unflinching commitment to “preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine” (2 Timothy 4:2). Remain fully dedicated to proclaim the truth, even in its smallest details, and turn a deaf ear to the desires of men to have their ears scratched. Compromise with falsehood often begins in small things.
In order to be a brave and faithful preacher of the Word, “study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15). In the ministry of many leaders, the Word of God has taken a backseat to storytelling, social analysis, family discussions, psychological diagnoses, etc., which begin to usurp the authority of the inspired and preserved Word of God. Loose and sloppy handling of the Scriptures eventually leads to loose and sloppy living of the leaders and the congregation. Let all leaders protect themselves and their congregations through a disciplined study of God’s Word and faithful preaching.
The apostle Paul very emphatically advises that leaders should “be blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of riot or unruly” (Titus 1:6; cf. 1 Timothy 3:2, 4, 12). It is tragic that many leaders have failed to give careful attention in the nurturing of their own children in the ways of God. Therefore, Paul challenges us, “For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?” (1 Timothy 3:5).
Our loving treatment of our wives ought to be the reflection of Christ’s wonderful love for the church. The apostle Paul wrote in Ephesians 5:25-27, “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, that he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.” Let every church leader remember that his treatment of his wife is reflective of how greatly he thinks of the Lord’s loving dealings with the church.
An adulterous church leader is a disastrous testimony before the church. He does not portray the Lord’s faithful and true love for the church. The apostle Paul teaches us in Ephesians 5:31-32 that Christian marriage is a token of the mystery of the relationship that Christ has with the church. “For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.” Adultery is an appalling desecration of the image of Christ and His church.
Let every church leader remember that God expects him to prove his faithfulness as a leader in his own home first. Remind yourself repeatedly that your marriage is a living testimony of Christ’s relationship with the church. We simply must recover the wonder of this truth. Marriage has to do with Christ, not just two people trying to seek fulfilment. It is a mission whereby God’s love is to be portrayed to the world. It is an extraordinary calling.
To be continued next week…
God has always called upon leaders to guide His people. In 1 Samuel 13:14, we read, “The LORD hath sought him a man after his own heart, and the LORD hath commanded him to be captain over his people.” God told Ezekiel, “I sought for a man among them, that should make up the hedge, and stand in the gap before me for the land, that I should not destroy it: but I found none” (Ezekiel 22:30).
When it comes to who should be appointed to church leadership, let it not be taken lightly that only those whom God has called to the office should be appointed. Appointment to the offices of Pastor, Elder and Deacon is not to be based on mere human ability, seniority, social status, wealth or suchlike. Church leadership is not an honorary position conferred to reward people. It ought to be filled by men who are prepared by God through His calling.
All the offices of the church must be filled with people who are called by the Lord. We often associate “calling” with pastors, missionaries and other fulltime workers of the church. Yet, how about elders and deacons? Scripture is clear that God also calls men to these offices; only those who are sure of God’s appointment should enter these offices. The candidates for Church Session must be sure that they are called by the Lord to serve Him in these roles.
Paul had this to say to the Ephesian church leaders who came to meet him in Miletus: “Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God. . .” (Acts 20:28). Paul’s advice was that all leaders must firstly take care of themselves as they were “made overseers” by the Holy Spirit.
It is, therefore, important that those who come to leadership must know with certainty that leadership is God’s appointment for them. No one is to enter these offices of the church because of human persuasion or appointment. Though men can be instrumental in God’s hand in directing people to leadership, each candidate must nonetheless be sure in his heart that God has called him to serve in the church leadership.
How can a man know whether God wants him to serve as a leader? The first and foremost sign from the Lord comes by means of His Word. If a man has all the Scriptural qualifications listed out in 1 Timothy 3, Titus 1, and 1 Peter 5, he is certainly eligible for church leadership. If he lacks any one of them, he is certainly not eligible.
When the apostle Paul commissioned Titus to appoint church leaders in Crete, he was not allowed to choose leaders based on his own human wisdom and judgement. Instead, Paul gave Titus a list of spiritual qualifications that he should look for in the lives of those whom he would ordain as elders. If anyone lacked a single one of those qualifications, Titus could not have considered him as God’s choice for leadership. Likewise, Paul also instructed Timothy that he should abide by the guidelines set by the Holy Spirit in His Word for the appointment of elders and deacons in his pastorate.
So, let us consider these qualities prescribed by the Scriptures to determine who should be the leaders of the church. Let us not unwisely or unwittingly encourage anyone who does not meet these qualities for leadership. It is a sin to appoint anyone against that which is prescribed by the Lord. Neither should anyone take up leadership if he himself is not assured of God’s calling through the Scriptures.
Secondly, one must receive peace and assurance within himself to serve the Lord by waiting upon God in prayer. Proverbs 3:5-6 promises, “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thine ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.”
We also see in Acts, how the early church spent time in prayer and fasting to seek God’s leading in the appointment of brethren for various roles in the ministry. Luke wrote about how the Holy Spirit led the church in Antioch in appointing men for the work. “As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them” (Acts 13:2). Earnest praying of the church is also pertinent in knowing God’s choice of suitable men for the leadership.
This is necessary, especially for the married believers. Apart from the personal spiritual qualifications, Scripture also insists that the candidates should have a godly family which is submissive to his leadership. A married candidate must have a godly and submissive wife and obedient children. Scripture clearly states, “For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?” (1 Timothy 3:5). So, if one’s children are unbelieving and rebellious, we cannot consider him for church leadership. Three times (twice in 1 Timothy 3, and once in Titus 1), the apostle Paul has unambiguously delineated that those who will be appointed to rule the church must be those who rule their household by raising up submissive children. A troubled and disunited family will inevitably be a hindrance to a man’s service in the church.
In Acts 6:3, in the appointment of men to serve at the tables (very likely as deacons), the apostles asked the congregation, saying “look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business.” The candidate for Church Session must have the recognition of the church. The members of the church must indicate their acceptance of the candidate’s spiritual ability to rule the church.
At this time, it must also be said that the congregation as a whole must be prayerful and also faithful to God and His word while casting their votes. No member of the church should cast his/her vote based on selfdetermined criteria. The church must prayerfully and joyfully elect and support those who are called and prepared to be leaders according to God’s will.