As we begin a new year today, I would like to exhort all of you to heed our Saviour’s solemn counsel – “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matthew 6:33).
What is your highest goal this new year? Let it be what our Lord expects us to pursue all the days of our lives on earth. His will for us is to seek His kingdom and righteousness as our first and foremost passion. Anything that impedes this goal must be rejected utterly.
We are exhorted here in Matthew 6:33 by the Lord Jesus Christ, that we should make God’s kingdom and His righteousness our primary object of attention. We must be deliberate in giving preference to spiritual matters over worldly matters. Nothing should be allowed to take precedence over our commitment to seek spiritual and moral excellence. We must exert great care and diligence to live a consecrated life to God. That must be our chief business on earth. Our hearts, minds and bodies must be wholly dedicated to fulfilling our spiritual duties, both in public and in private.
Our preoccupation should be God’s reign and righteous will concerning us, rather than the material provisions for our daily lives. We should be eagerly praying for, and dedicating ourselves to His kingly pleasure and purposes. Let us not be like those who strive to be religious for material gain. They appear to be very prayerful and devout, but the pre-eminent things in their lives do not tally with what they appear to do, but rather with the motive of their hearts – which is material gain. When piety is expressed for temporal advantage, it is not the kingdom of God that is first sought after, but material gain. Therefore, they seek first worldly advantages.
Let not our hearts be deceived into making spiritual matters subservient to earthly matters. Let us not seek God and His kingdom to become wealthier and healthier. We must let all our pursuits in life be subservient to our desire for God, His kingdom and righteousness. Whatever our engagements in life are, we must remember that we have a higher goal. And in our relationships with people, we should never forget that we have a greater commitment to God.
We are specifically instructed by our Lord to seek first “the kingdom of God”. What is the kingdom of God? It is to have Him reign over our hearts. His will must be our highest concern. Our prayer should always be: “Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10). It is also to serve Him in His kingdom. The Lord exercises His authority and will today through His church. So, we must serve the Lord in His church to exalt His greatness. We must give ourselves to the extension of His kingdom through the preaching of the Gospel. We must also live in obedience to His Word to promote His righteousness. Let us also look forward to His coming as King of kings. If these are our chief concerns of life, the Lord promises to take care of all our needs.
by Cornelius Koshy
“Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock” (Matthew 7:24). Challenging each youth to be obedient, resilient and exuberant to do God’s will despite discouraging and distressing situations, was the main thrust of the 5 theme messages.
The theme of this year’s youth retreat was “Laying a Firm Foundation”. We thank God for enabling Pastor and Pr Cornelius to exhort the participants with biblical attributes and practical advice, so that they may build upon the foundational doctrines and “go on unto perfection” (Heb 6:1). Coupled with two workshops on “BGR” and “Aspirations” conducted by Pastor, the participants had a total of seven sessions of focused study of God’s Word and Q&A.
Just as we enjoyed the experience of feeding the farm animals like horses, cows, rabbits, turkeys, ducks, chickens, etc., we were all also delighted with the spiritual feeding received in the camp! This ministry of the Word was suitably complemented with warm fellowship with one another, especially with new friends who joined our retreat. This year, we had guests from Calvary Pandan, Calvary Kuching, and Bethel BP Churches. Needless to say, our youths in Gethsemane were delighted to make some new friends! Most notably, we were thankful to God for the opportunity to bring six youths from Kuching to join us for this year’s retreat. They are the children of the Teo and Chung families from Calvary Kuching: Daniel, Samuel and Gabriel (Teo), as well as Abigail, Nathanael and Dominic (Chung). We thank God for His blessings of provision and protection upon each participant!
A pair of toe-socks – specially printed in collaboration with TGCM Print – was given to each participant. When worn, the letters on each toe formed the key word of this year’s theme: “FOUNDATION”. The youths received well the witty and meaningful memorabilia. We truly thank God for some youths who had spent some of their holiday time with TGCM Print to prepare the 90 pairs of socks. May the youths be reminded to “walk in love” (Eph 5:2), “walk in the light” (1 John 1:7), and “walk after his commandments” (2 John 6), whenever they wear these socks!
The youths were also treated to sumptuous meals cooked by the resort’s kitchen. The resort provided food aplenty, and some sisters also prepared a “condiments table” which supplied an endless flow of snacks and drinks. Praise the LORD for everyone who helped us behind the scenes!
Because of the resort’s greenery, the Bible Witness team also had the chance to record two music videos for BWTV singspiration programmes. We thank God for Bro Matthew and Bro Andronicus, who came with the youths to assist with the video production. We thank God for both sun and rain at His chosen times, and for His help in seeing us through all the planned programmes and activities. When it poured on the second night, the LORD allowed us to witness the campfire from a distance, enabling us still to feel its heat and awe at its glow in the darkness of the night.
Finally, the GYF Committee gives thanks to God for our very committed and responsible Auxiliary Committee (comprising Amoz, Gideon, Marcus and Rayson) who laboured with us to organise the GYF Retreat, and for the young adults who joined the retreat to assist with supervision over the youths. May the youths remember all that they have learned in this retreat. May God, in His good time, raise some of the youths and young adults to serve Him and continue the Gospel work of our Lord Jesus Christ in Gethsemane BP Church.
Praise God for the opportunity to join Gethsemane’s first youth retreat after the Covid-19 pandemic. The retreat was a great opportunity to have a blessed time of fellowship with other like-minded youths, and a great time to unwind from the pressures of our school life. Thank God for granting grace and wisdom to Pastor and Pr Cornelius, who impressed upon us our personal responsibility as to whether we lay a strong or weak foundation. I would also like to thank God for granting us journey mercies, as well as keeping us safe and healthy during the retreat. All glory be to God!
I thank God for giving me the opportunity to join this year’s youth retreat at Sinar Eco Resort. I initially thought that I would not be able to participate because I had already made plans to fly back to Kuching. But by God’s grace and through the church’s support, the brethren from Kuching could also join. Thank God that brethren from other churches participated as well.
Thank God for giving Pastor Koshy and Pr Cornelius good health and strength, as well as godly wisdom, to preach to the youths on the theme: “Laying a Firm Foundation”. I pray that all the youths have had a fruitful retreat and that we will stand strong in the Lord. I also pray that we will not waver when troubles come, but instead be a good testimony for Christ in our school or work. Thank God for the Auxiliary Committee, young adults and adults, who helped at the retreat and cared for the younger youths. Thank God for the blessed time we had at the retreat, and the fellowship we had with one another.
My prayer is that God will continue to protect and guide each youth, so that we might not be misled by worldly ideas. I also want to thank God for the good weather (including the heavy rain!), and for the opportunity to experience and appreciate God’s creation to the fullest without worldly distractions. “O give thanks unto the LORD, for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever” (Psalm 107:1).
I would like to take this opportunity to thank God for allowing me to join my first youth retreat. Thank God for Pastor and Pr Cornelius’ preaching. This helped me to learn more from the Scriptures, and allowed me to gradually mature as a Christian. Also, the two workshops conducted on the last day of the retreat helped me learn how to interact with a person of the opposite gender, and realise that our path in life is determined by God. Other than these, I have bonded a lot with the other youths and got to know them better. As Psalm 1:1 says, “Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.” Lastly, I thank God for allowing me to spend my year-end holidays fruitfully.
I am thankful for being able to participate in this year’s youth retreat. Thank God for those who organised this retreat, and for Pastor Koshy and Pr Cornelius who preached during this camp. Thank God for the fellowship I had with other brothers and sisters in Christ, and for helping me make new friends during this period. Thank God for the messages on “Laying a Firm Foundation”. I look forward to meeting these brethren again in the next retreat, God willing.
I praise God that He opened a way for me to attend this year’s youth retreat. The theme, “Laying a Firm Foundation”, is highly relevant in that I am graduating from school in the first half of next year, and I will soon be out in a world that is scarcely navigable and very unwelcoming to Christians. I will always be thankful for the lessons learnt and the reminders administered to us, so that we can live our lives effectively for the Lord.
In particular, I thank the Lord for reminding me that the Christian life is not obligation-free. Far from that, there are regulations and requirements that we have to adhere to in every area of our life and service. The lifelong responsibilities we face as Christians are grave - and they cannot be discharged in any way we like. In that regard, we should not take inspiration from the thought leaders, academicians and celebrities of this world, but rather strive every day to be more like Christ.
May I always be willing to abide by God’s directions and God’s will for me. My only desire in life is to perform whatever task He has assigned me to do with distinction for His glory, and always to submit and be more than happy to follow His leading. If my lot in life is to suffer great trials and hardships for Christ, then may I endure them well for the Lord, with much faith in Him and displaying the grace of the Lord for all to see. As the exhortations in 1 Peter 4 remind me, may I always reflect God in all I say, do and think, and may my life be lived according to the standards of God, not of men.
All praise be to our Heavenly Father for a good retreat, which went without incident or accident. Truly, He protects His servants.