“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 first New Testament church of Jerusalem was formed when three thousand souls, who gladly received Peter’s preaching of the Gospel, affirmed their faith through baptism and their stand with the apostles, and thereby were added unto the body of believers (Acts 2:41). According to Luke’s record in Acts 2:42, that infant church was wholeheartedly committed to prayer. Prayer was one of the four major priorities of the church – “And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.”
The members of the church had counted gathering together for prayer as non-negotiable. They “continued steadfastly… in prayers.” Their learning of apostolic doctrines, fellowship and communion were catalysts for coming before God as a church in prayer. Likewise, I pray that all our church’s regular learning of God’s Word, fellowship and communion (and also special times like the recent BW retreat) will lead to greater experiences of prayer in our midst.
The Greek word used for “prayers” (proseuchais) is a general word for prayer, which is most frequently used in the New Testament. It denotes all kinds of prayers – thanksgiving, affirmation of faith in God, confession of sins, petitions, intercessions, etc. It depicts all forms of prayers offered by the believers who had gathered together to commune reverentially with God. At times, its focus narrows to just one kind of prayer, such as asking for a specific benefit.
In the book of Acts, the early churches’ continual devotion to prayers is evident. They often came together in groups to pray (Acts 1, 4 and 12). There are also records of individual prayers as believers went through differing experiences alone, as in the case of Ananias and Paul (9:10-11), and Peter (10:14). We also know that their prayer items varied according to their situations. They praised / thanked God for sending the Spirit, for His powerful help, provisions, guidance, and for drawing people to faith. There were also confessions of sins, intercessions for God’s servants and their ministries, for new converts and their spiritual growth, for the persecuted brethren to boldly declare God in the face of persecutors, as well as petitions for temporal needs and spiritual strengthening, guidance, etc.
We, members of Gethsemane BPC, should also have a steadfast commitment to prayer like the Jerusalem church. None among us should take our prayer gatherings lightly. We must eagerly and persistently engage in the critical duty of prayer. Like the early church that relentlessly pursued divine help for its spiritual and physical needs, we must give ourselves to prayer. We should not only pray as individual believers, but also as a church corporately (cf. Acts 1:14, 24; 4:24-31). We must gather to pray with much expectancy because of the promises of our Lord. He has promised to be the Source of provision for all our needs – “And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it” (John 14:13-14).
Sadly, prayer is much neglected in the church today. Though we rejoice that a good number of Gethsemaneans attend our Tuesday prayer meeting, it is truly unfortunate that some make little or no effort to join the prayer meeting. Prayer meetings are not for a faithful few only!
I would like to call on all Gethsemaneans to come together to pray. We have much to fulfil in obedience to God’s Word, and much to accomplish in His kingdom according to His glorious purposes. Like the early church, we must draw courage, strength and wisdom from Him through the study of His Word and prayer. They are the means of grace by which the church becomes what God wants it to be. Let us not be a spiritually weak people and church. The question we need to ask ourselves is: Are we, unlike the early church, forsaking the priority of prayer? Have you forgotten the Bible’s commands to pray at all times and to be devoted to prayer? Consider the following Scriptural exhortations:
Dear brethren, we cannot be a church that neglects prayer. The Word of God commands that we must be praying believers and members of the church. The ministry needs – need for more men in the leadership and staff, urgent needs of finance (such as the needs of TGCM, Bible Witness, new Gospel missions, renovation costs of 33 Ubi Crescent, etc.), among others – also burden us to come together in prayer.
Prayer is by no means a trivial matter. It forms the sinew and muscle of our church’s hands of service. Without prayer, we will accomplish nothing in the Lord’s kingdom. Prayer is our unique expressions of faith, devotion and love for the Lord and His work. Prayer meeting is the means of grace by which the church becomes what God wants it to be.
See you on Tuesday Night prayer meetings! Come with your family. Let us exhort one another to be together before the Lord in prayer. There is much to accomplish. May we find divine strength and help through prayer.
At Holiday Inn, Cochin
Outside the home of Bishop & Mrs Koshy, Pastor Koshy’s parents
The theme for the study of God’s Word is “Church: A People in Prayer”. This is a study based on prayers mentioned in the Book of Acts.
The church has blessed legacies of prayer in the Holy Scriptures. The Book of Acts mentions prayer to God in heaven about 50 times; that is more than in any New Testament book, except Luke’s Gospel. Most of the prayers in Acts are public prayers, though there are a few private prayers such as Cornelius’ prayer. The prayers in this book were offered by various people: Christ’s disciples in general (1:13-14), new believers (2:42), apostles, (6:4; 8:15), a deacon (7:59-60), women (16:13), a centurion (10:4), a persecutor of believers (9:5), leaders of a church (13:3), the concerned brethren of a church (12:5), etc. Acts also records prayers of people in different situations: as the disciples waited for the power of the Spirit (Ch. 1), in appointing an apostle (Ch. 1), for the releasing of Christ’s witnesses (Ch. 4), when believers were still in prison (Ch. 12), at death (Ch. 7), on a journey (Ch. 9), while thrusting missionaries forth (Ch. 13), in strengthening churches (Ch. 14), when fasting and praying (Chs. 13, 14), while facing persecution (Ch. 16), in saying goodbye (Ch. 20), and in thanking God for food (Ch. 27), etc. Truly, prayer is strategic in Acts from close to the start (1:14) to near the end (28:15).
A believer can learn much from prayers recorded in the Book of Acts. Luke, who wrote Acts, chronicled how the Gospel of Christ was faithfully and effectively witnessed from Jerusalem to Rome [“unto the uttermost part of the earth” (1:8)] by the power of the Holy Spirit. Luke’s record highlighted the key role of the prayers of His people in the advancement of the preaching of the Gospel, overcoming adversities, and establishing churches.
Scripture provides models for prayer that gives structure to our prayers, as well as the topics to pray about. Thus, Scripture gives us motivation and subjects to pray about. It also instructs us on how to respond in prayer to our challenges in the work of His kingdom.
May the Lord help us to go forward in our prayers to Him, and thus fulfil our part in the establishing of His kingdom on earth. For the Gospel to spread, we must pray. For the deliverance of oppressed Christians, and for the conversion of the enemies of the Gospel and the church, we must pray. May the church of our time pray for God’s help, just as it had in the days of the Apostles.
We praise God that there will be about 68 participants (55 from Singapore, 1 from the Philippines, 9 from Vizag, India, and a few others from Kerala). We pray for a time of wonderful Christian fellowship among the participants.
This is the sixteenth retreat organized by the Bible Witness Media Ministry of our church. God has blessed the BW retreats to be an avenue for learning precious Scriptural themes. It has been a time of spiritual strengthening for the participants of the retreats.
In this retreat, we will have 6 study sessions on the theme. There will be singing of Christian hymns and times of prayers. There will also be time to have fellowship with fellow participants.
God willing, on the 19th of March, there will be opportunity for sightseeing: a half-day ride on a houseboat through the backwaters of Kerala, and a trip to my hometown to pay a visit to my parents, Bishop and Mrs M. K. Koshy.
Please pray for God’s blessings and protection upon all the participants. Pray also that this retreat will continue to play a part in establishing our desire for effective mission outreaches in India.ne BPC will join us for the GYM Fellowship, that they may also receive blessings untold.
Dear Pastor Koshy,
Greetings in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ!
The Lord has been kind and good towards us. He has preserved us in our service for Him. Our Saviour’s grace and mercy are much abounding, as He continues to sustain the Gospel work in Bogo and San Antonio.
I thank the Lord for the brethren of our churches here. They have been sustained by His grace, and they have been coming regularly to church. Some who were missing from the church for a period have been brought back to the church by the Lord and have been attending the worship services, while the rest who have been regular continue to persevere in their faith and service for the Lord.
I would like to express my sincere thanks to you and all the church brethren in Singapore for remembering us in your prayers, especially during the prayer meetings of the church. We too have been upholding you and the church in our prayers.
Rev. Lee Kim Shong (Calvary Jaya, KL) has invited me to preach this Sunday (17 March) in their Lord’s Day Service and in their Youth Fellowship. God willing, I will depart for KL on Saturday (16 March) and return on Tuesday (19 March). Thank God for Eld. Richard Tiu who will fill in my place in the pulpit ministry in the Combined Lord’s Day Service this Sunday.
We are glad that we can receive Eld. Ng and his family into our midst over the weekend and the week following. Thank God for their visit and fellowship with us on the days they will be in Bogo and San Antonio. I have invited Eld. Ng to preach and encourage us with God’s Word. God willing, Eld. Ng will minister to us at our respective prayer meetings in San Antonio and Bogo.
My family and I send our greetings to Sis. Carolyn, Bro. Cornelius, Bro. Andronicus and Sis. Dorcas. Please take good care of your health, Pastor, even as we pray for the Lord’s sustenance of your health.
Sincerely in Christ,
Eld. Eliezer Ortega
Godly families are integral to the peace and progress of a church and society. Broken families bring much sorrow and trouble not only to the family members, but also to the communities they belong to. More importantly, the shaping of the future, be it of a family, or a church, or a society, is very much committed to families. The roles that parents are expected to play in the nurture of our children is a very crucial one. Our children are ‘the face’ of our future. Hence, Christian fathers and mothers have a high calling of God to fulfil.
God is the Owner, Master and Builder of our homes. As Psalm 127:1a reminds us, “Except the LORD build the house, they labour in vain that build it”. Every parent must labour together with God in the nurture of his or her home. Labouring with God means that we must be trusting, obedient and faithful in carrying out our roles and duties according to all His counsels. The building of our homes is not without toil, hence the word “labour”. But it will all be worth it, as our efforts nourish our children and bring them up to be fine, godly children – as corroborated by Psalm 127:5, which actually describes the result of successful parenting – “Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them: they shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate.”
Knowing the immensely important task of our young parents, our church has established Gethsemane Men’s Fellowship (GMF) and Gethsemane Young Mothers (GYM) for the spiritually strengthening of men and women in our church through biblical teaching, prayer and fellowship. We encourage especially young adults, whether married or about to be married, to regularly attend the meetings of those fellowship groups so that they may be well equipped to fulfil their high calling at home.
Our prayer for them and their families is encapsulated in the benediction of Psalm 128 – “Blessed is every one that feareth the LORD; that walketh in his ways. For thou shalt eat the labour of thine hands: happy shalt thou be, and it shall be well with thee. Thy wife shall be as a fruitful vine by the sides of thine house: thy children like olive plants round about thy table. Behold, that thus shall the man be blessed that feareth the LORD. The LORD shall bless thee out of Zion: and thou shalt see the good of Jerusalem all the days of thy life. Yea, thou shalt see thy children’s children, and peace upon Israel.”
We thank God for the joy of seeing many young mothers in our midst regularly participating in the GYM. Please read some of their testimonies printed below:
I thank God for the ministry of the Gethsemane Young Mothers. It has been a great help to me in my growing in the knowledge of God’s Word, and guiding me in my role as a mother.
I have learnt that I should not be discouraged by weakness or burdens, but to trust in the Lord for strength and wisdom, for He will endue us with sufficient grace in times of testing and trials.
I am reminded that amidst struggles, I must be a joyful mother, living by example. My life, words and actions must be an example for my child, for a virtuous life according to God’s Word will impress upon my child. I should teach the relevance of God’s Word in my child’s life. But in order to be a good teacher, I must firstly be a good student of God’s Word myself.
I would like to encourage all mothers with young children and even mothers-to-be to join us to learn more about biblical motherhood and to prepare for the challenges ahead.
I thank God truly for the Gethsemane Young Mothers’ Fellowship. I have been greatly blessed by the messages preached because the topics have great relevance to my daily challenges and expectations as a Christian mother. The messages gave me a greater understanding of how I should conduct my life and set a godly example to my children and in my home. I am also thankful for the many precious warnings received from God’s Word, which I would not have known if I had not attended these meetings. I would like to earnestly encourage young mothers to make time to join these meetings and hear God’s Word. Truly, from it we can learn many wise counsels that we cannot afford to miss.
2 Corinthians 9:8 – “And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work.”
Looking back, I sometimes wonder how I managed to take care of my kids in a way most pleasing to God. Truly, it is only by the grace of God that I am able to perform my God-given role as a wife and a mother to my three young children. I thank God for the numerous corrections, rebukes, encouragements and instructions I have received though the faithful preaching of God’s Word by Pastor Koshy and other preachers in our Young Mothers’ Fellowship. During the stressful and difficult moments of my motherhood journey, I am always being reminded, having learnt from Pastor, to cling on to the Word of God.
Here are some of the blessings I have received through the Gethsemane Young Mothers’ Fellowship:
Indeed, it is a blessing to have a ministry in Gethsemane BPC that can cater to the needs of the young mothers, and I thank God for that. I always look forward to every last Friday of the month to hear the preaching of God’s Word and to fellowship with fellow young mothers. It is my utmost prayer that the Lord will continue to use the Gethsemane Young Mothers’ Fellowship to be a blessing to all the young mothers. All glory be to God!
In the early stage of my motherhood, at times I felt rather lost as to how I should be a godly mother. Parenting books did not provide me with any counsel from God’s Word. Therefore, I was extremely thankful when the Gethsemane Young Mothers Fellowship was started about 3 years ago.
The GYM Fellowship has been a great blessing to me. The preaching of God’s Word has time and again instructed, encouraged and rebuked me in my role as a mother. I have been greatly reminded that as a Christian mother, my focus should be on leading my children to know Christ, to bring them up to love and fear God, and not be distracted by the expectations that the world may put on me. Through the prayer session we have at each meeting, we have the opportunity to share with one another and uphold each other in prayer. It has been an encouragement to me to hear sisters testifying of the grace and faithfulness of God in their lives. I am also thankful for the times when I could share my burdens with like-minded sisters.
It is my joy to see young mothers coming for our meetings despite the difficulties they may face in doing so, for example, the tiredness of their physical bodies or fear of not being able to handle their babies well during the meeting. I pray that all the young mothers in Gethsemane BPC will join us for the GYM Fellowship, that they may also receive blessings untold.
Today, we continue with the list of 175 spiritual blessings for which I am thankful to God for. The first 67 items of this list was published in last Sunday’s bulletin. I am thankful to God for:
It is every Christian’s solemn duty to recall all the benefits that he has received from the Lord and to thank Him. The Word of God expressly states: “Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits” (Psalm 103:2). Also, in Psalm 105, we are exhorted: “O give thanks unto the LORD; call upon his name: make known his deeds among the people… Remember his marvellous works that he hath done; his wonders, and the judgments of his mouth” (vv. 1, 5).
About 20 years ago, being moved in my heart to remember and give thanks to the Lord for all the spiritual benefits He has bestowed upon me, I attempted to list them. By His grace, I recalled 175 spiritual benefits which I am eager to share with you as they are also the blessings that the Lord has provided for every believer. Some of the listed benefits may appear to be repetitive at first glance, but careful consideration will reveal the distinct blessing each of them holds out to us. I would advise that you read Scripture references provided as they record the divine pronouncement of those blessings. If you are reminded of more blessings, write them down on a piece of paper for your future reflection and thanksgiving. Truly, God’s blessings upon us are countless.
I give thanks to God because:
(To be continued next Lord’s Day.)
God’s Word exhorts us in Philippians 2:14, “Do all things without murmurings and disputings”.
In the communion and service of the church, believers are dissuaded from engaging in two evils, namely murmuring and disputing. The apostle Paul is concerned about some who engage in spiritual activities with murmuring and disputing. In other words, they practise religion without sincerity and joy. When God-given duties are done with murmuring and a disgruntled spirit, such service will be unacceptable. So, all Christians must guard themselves against such evil conduct. Both of those sins must be abhorred and avoided, if our services are to be effective and helpful.
True religion is never merely external observance of duties. Hence Paul admonished, “Do all things without murmurings and disputings”. All our activities must be rendered cheerfully and willingly. Everything that God has given us to do must be carried out with enthusiasm and readiness. Whether one does God’s work alone or with others, one must perform it with a genuine spirit of compliance to His will, coupled with diligence.
Some murmur against God and His servants, like the Israelites in the wilderness when experiencing a time of scarcity. In Numbers 11:4-6, we read about them: “And the mixt multitude that was among them fell a lusting: and the children of Israel also wept again, and said, Who shall give us flesh to eat? We remember the fish, which we did eat in Egypt freely; the cucumbers, and the melons, and the leeks, and the onions, and the garlick: But now our soul is dried away: there is nothing at all, beside this manna, before our eyes” (cf. Exodus 15:24; 16:7-9). Others murmur because they are discontented with and envious of the godly men and women whom God uses (cf. Numbers 14:1-4; 16:41; Mark 14:5). There are yet others who murmur because of their unbelief and their bigoted desire to spread their sedition (cf. Luke 15:2; Jude 1:16).
The spirit of murmuring is perilous. God’s Word cautions us, “Neither murmur ye, as some of them also murmured, and were destroyed of the destroyer” (1 Corinthians 10:10). Murmuring is often the result of envy, discontentment, bitterness, pride and unbelief. It results in numerous evil deeds, such as gossip, backbiting, slander, usurping of authority, defiance, sedition, dissension and schism. Murmuring is not just a dispute with man, but also with God! So, serve the Lord without any murmur or dispute.
Dear Pastor Koshy,
I praise the Lord for opening another Bible study group. We ministered God’s Word in Dalumat, San Jacinto last Thursday. We had prepared sandwiches and juice, so we could share a simple meal after the Bible study. Thank God for bringing the family of our jeepney captain and his neighbours. May the Lord sustain the work. God willing, we will meet every 1st and 3rd Thursday of the month.
Praise God for bringing to us Sis Cecille (who has returned home from Singapore for her vacation). She stayed with us in the mission station, thereby encouraging one another. We had prayer meeting and prayed for the leaders/ preachers/ missionaries in all our Gethsemane churches. She also joined us in the Bible studies in Tebag and Dalumat.
Thank God for healing two elderly sisters (Sis. Rosie and Sis. Teresita) and strengthening them to attend the church last Lord’s Day, where a total of 47 (32 adults / teens and 15 children) came for worship.
Now is the harvest season for the rice farms. It brings both good and bad news to us. The good news is that many worshippers experience God’s goodness and provision through this harvest. The bad news is that some of them would not worship because they are busy with post-harvest activities. May the Lord convict the hearts of the brethren to keep the Lord’s Day holy and to prioritise the things of God more than their earthly goods.
Please continue to pray for us as we serve the Lord in this region.
Donald dela Cruz
Having considered the first two major divine purposes revealed in the Scriptural record of earthquakes, today we will pay attention to the third and final divine purpose.
David’s song to the Lord in 2 Samuel 22 recognises that the earth shook at His wrath – “Then the earth shook and trembled; the foundations of heaven moved and shook, because he was wroth” (v. 8). Cf. Psalm 18:7 – “Then the earth shook and trembled; the foundations also of the hills moved and were shaken, because he was wroth.”
During Israel’s wilderness wandering, when Korah and his followers rebelled against Moses, God destroyed them with an earthquake: “And it came to pass, as he had made an end of speaking all these words, that the ground clave asunder that was under them: And the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed them up, and their houses, and all the men that appertained unto Korah, and all their goods. They, and all that appertained to them, went down alive into the pit, and the earth closed upon them: and they perished from among the congregation” (Numbers 16:31-33; cf. 26:10; Deuteronomy 11:6-7; Psalm 106:16-17).
The prophet Amos pointed to an earthquake that occurred in his day (760 B.C.), when King Uzziah of Judah reigning. It is also mentioned by the prophet Zechariah.
“The words of Amos, who was among the herdmen of Tekoa, which he saw concerning Israel in the days of Uzziah king of Judah, and in the days of Jeroboam the son of Joash king of Israel, two years before the earthquake” (Amos 1:1; cf. Zechariah 14:5).
The Jewish historian Josephus connects the quake with the events of 2 Chronicles 26:16-20 (Antiquities of the Jews 9. 10. 4), which refer to the LORD’s striking of the prideful King Uzziah (who transgressed by burning incense in the temple, a duty that belonged only to the priests) with leprosy. Many think the earthquake (mentioned by Amos and Zechariah) could have occurred following Uzziah’s transgression. Archeological excavations at Hazor and Samaria have uncovered evidence of a violent earthquake in Israel about 760 B.C.
Outpouring of Divine Wrath/Judgment through Eschatological Earthquakes
While Jesus was narrating to His disciples the end-time signs, He spoke of earthquakes: “For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places” (Matthew 24:7; cf. Mark 13:8; Luke 21:11). These predicted earthquakes are those which will occur during the Tribulation period as the outpouring of God’s wrath on earth. Such earthquakes are predicted in the Old Testament prophetical books, as well as in Revelation:
“And they shall go into the holes of the rocks, and into the caves of the earth, for fear of the LORD, and for the glory of his majesty, when he ariseth to shake terribly the earth” (Isaiah 2:19). This is a description of God’s vengeance on the wicked in the Tribulation days before Christ returns. The earth will shake and people will try to escape by fleeing into caves (cf. vv. 10, 21), carrying their idols of silver and gold (v. 7). However, the people will toss them aside to rodents and bats (v. 20). Isaiah’s words here present a strong irony: things highly valued will be thrown aside to detestable creatures that people hate. In v. 21, Isaiah again spoke of people hiding in caves away from God’s terror when He will shake the earth (cf. v. 19).
“And I will punish the world for their evil, and the wicked for their iniquity; and I will cause the arrogancy of the proud to cease, and will lay low the haughtiness of the terrible… Therefore I will shake the heavens, and the earth shall remove out of her place, in the wrath of the LORD of hosts, and in the day of his fierce anger” (Isaiah 13:11-13). The day of the Lord, expressing His wrath (cf. Isa. 13:3, 13) against sin, will destroy sinners (v. 9) and punish the world for its evil and its proud attitude towards God (v. 11). Some see the dislodging of heavenly bodies [stars, sun, moon (v. 10)] and the trembling of the heavens and earth (v. 13) as a figurative description of the total turnaround or destruction of the political structure of the Near East. Yet, those descriptions resemble other Scriptural references to end-time judgments on the earth and celestial luminaries (Isaiah 24:18; 34:4; Ezekiel 32:7; Joel 2:10, 30-31; 3:15-16; Haggai 2:6-7, 21-22; Zechariah 14:6-7; Matthew 24:29).
The Book of Revelation mentions earthquakes as a frequent occurrence during the seven years of Tribulation as an outpouring of God’s wrath against the wickedness and blasphemy propagated by the Satanic rule of Antichrist:
As part of the seal judgments, there will be a massive earthquake when the sixth seal will be opened. “And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal, and, lo, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood” (Revelation 6:12).
As part of the catastrophes that will follow the opening of the seventh seal, there was an earthquake. “And the angel took the censer, and filled it with fire of the altar, and cast it into the earth: and there were voices, and thunderings, and lightnings, and an earthquake” (Revelation 8:5).
After the resurrection and ascension of the two assassinated witnesses, there will be a great earthquake, which will destroy a tenth of Jerusalem and kill 7,000 men. “And the same hour was there a great earthquake, and the tenth part of the city fell, and in the earthquake were slain of men seven thousand: and the remnant were affrighted, and gave glory to the God of heaven” (Revelation 11:13).
In association with the blowing of the seventh trumpet, the temple in heaven was opened as a token of God’s promise of His unbroken fellowship with believers. As the ark of covenant was dislcosed, “there were lightnings, and voices, and thunderings, and an earthquake, and great hail” (Revelation 11:19). Truly, God’s heavenly throne is the source of vengeance on unbelievers as well as covenant blessing on His people.
When the seventh vial judgment is poured out on the earth during final stages of the Tribulation period, there will be a global earthquake which will severely affect the great city of “Babylon” and many cities of the world. “And there were voices, and thunders, and lightnings; and there was a great earthquake, such as was not since men were upon the earth, so mighty an earthquake, and so great. And the great city was divided into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell: and great Babylon came in remembrance before God, to give unto her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of his wrath” (Revelation 16:18-19).
There are those who maintain that God has no part in the cause of earthquakes. From all that we have examined in this four-part series, Scripture declares that God, the supreme Governor of the World, is the Author of such great events as earthquakes for the purposes which we have learned. Beyond a doubt, as we have learned today, earthquakes are also tokens of His just displeasure. When God is wroth against the wickedness of the world, He shakes the Earth and causes its foundations to tremble.
God can produce earthquakes through natural causes, such as underground shifting of tectonic plates or seismic waves. Though God would make use of second causes, He would also work without them. Being Omnipotent, God can cause earthquakes either by natural causes or by His supernatural power. We must therefore confess, like Job, that it is ultimately God who “removeth the mountains, and they know not: which overturneth them in his anger. Which shaketh the earth out of her place, and the pillars thereof tremble” (Job 9:5-6).
God’s active role in the earthquakes is indisputable, as testified by scores of passages, including Isaiah 29:6 – “Thou shalt be visited of the LORD of hosts with thunder, and with earthquake, and great noise, with storm and tempest, and the flame of devouring fire.” Let us also be reminded of Jesus’ prophetic words that in the last days, there will be “earthquakes in divers places” (Matthew 24:7c)!
Having considered the first of three major divine purposes of the earthquakes which are revealed in the Bible, we shall today consider their second divine purpose — “divine deliverance”.
Although earthquakes are usually seen as something that we should try to escape, God had often used them as His tools to deliver and protect His people. Consider some biblical examples of the earth quaking when God acted to deliver and protect His people.
1) Psalm 114:1-8 — “When Israel went out of Egypt, the house of Jacob from a people of strange language; Judah was his sanctuary, And Israel his dominion. The sea saw it, and fled: Jordan was driven back. The mountains skipped like rams, and the little hills like lambs. What ailed thee, O thou sea, that thou fleddest? thou Jordan, that thou wast driven back? Ye mountains, that ye skipped like rams; and ye little hills, like lambs? Tremble, thou earth, at the presence of the Lord, at the presence of the God of Jacob; Which turned the rock into a standing water, the flint into a fountain of waters.”
2) When Jonathan and his armour bearer fought a garrison of Philistines, God sent an earthquake among the Philistines to disperse them:
3) The prayer of the people in Isaiah’s time expressed their desire to see God shaking the earth as He comes down to deal with their enemies.
4. When our Lord Jesus Christ was raised from the grave on the third day of His death, there was a great earthquake. It marked the power Christ has over death, our last enemy.
5. An earthquake from the Lord sufficed to free Paul and Silas from their prison in Philippi at a very opportune time:
6. At the end of the future Tribulation Period, when the nations of the earth will join the Antichrist to attack Jerusalem (Zechariah 14:1-3), the Lord will shake the earth and destroy the attacking army, and will deliver Jerusalem and its inhabitants who will look to Him for salvation and deliverance from the enemy.
7. Deliverance of Israel at the return of Christ to Mt Olive.
Those who love God and are faithful to Him have no need to fear the trembling of the earth. Like Psalm 46:2-3 says, “Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof. Selah.” Our God is our refuge. Even if death were to come through this catastrophe, we shall be with the Lord in His presence, and thus forever delivered from all our troubles on earth!
On 16th September 2001, to mark the beginning of Gethsemane Filipino Fellowship, I wrote in the church bulletin: “The Filipino brethren who attend our church felt the need to have a special coordinated effort to nurture their spiritual growth, as well as to reach out to the large number of Filipinos working and residing in Singapore with the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. The session has prayerfully approved the formation of a new fellowship group for the Filipinos in our church. It will be called Gethsemane Filipino Fellowship.”
Since then, several brethren have helped to preach the Word in GFF. In the early years, I have laboured, and then Reggor Galarpe (current pastor of GBPC, Cebu) laboured with me to preach the Word until he returned to Cebu in 2004. In 2004, Bro. Dennis Kabingue was sent to FEBC for training when he testified of his call to the preaching ministry. Since 2005, Bro. Dominino dela Cruz Jr and Bro. Dennis Kabingue colaboured with me to preach. In 2008, upon the completion of his theological studies, Bro. Dominino returned to Bogo, the Philippines, where he started the mission church in Bogo and later another congregation in San Antonio. Meanwhile, Bro. Dennis Kabingue completed his M.Div. and continued with Th.M. studies in FEBC, which he completed in May 2008. The church has received him as a full-time preacher in March 2008 (with the approval of S-Pass from Singapore authorities). Till this day, through many challenges and trials, Pr Dennis Kabingue has served the Lord in our midst.
Today is Pr Dennis’ last day of service with us in Singapore. He will be leaving tomorrow early morning (3:30am by Cebu Pacific, 5J 804) for his hometown Leyte, the Philippines. We sincerely thank God for His marvelous work in Dennis’s life, and for helping him to grow in faith and service. He has laboured much for the Filipino Fellowship as a preacher of God’s Word. He also contributed much to the church choir (Voices of Gethsemane) as the choir leader for more than a decade. His service in the Lord has been received by our mission stations, sister churches, BWWR, Prison Ministry, FEBC, etc.
May the Lord be pleased to nurture and strengthen Pr Dennis for His vineyard, wherever it may be. Let us also pray for his dear family – Daryl, Duaine, David and Davis – that the Lord’s goodness and mercy will surround them always.
We are grateful for the role we, as a church, could play in their lives and ministry, according to God’s good providence. “So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase” (1 Corinthians 3:7). All glory and honour be unto the LORD!
By God’s providence, Gethsemane Filipino Fellowship is now moving into a new phase with the departure of Pr Dennis Kabingue. With the help of our preachers and elders, I will work to give all the necessary pastoral care for the Filipino brethren. In the recent Church Session meeting, the church leaders prayerfully considered the GFF ministry in the coming months and years. We thank God that all the preachers, elders are happy to contribute to minister the Word in GFF meetings.
On Tuesday night, the Session would like to meet with all the Filipino brethren at 7pm (prior to the prayer meeting) to discuss with you and firm up our plans for fellowship, evangelism, etc.
Please also take note that a half-day retreat is planned for GFF on 5th February (Tuesday, 2pm-6pm) at Singpost Auditorium’s powder room. (Please look out for further announcements.)
May everyone be comforted and strengthened, for the Lord has said in Revelation 3:8 – “I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name.”
The biblical records of earthquakes reveal three major divine purposes in the occurrences of the earthquakes. They are divine revelation, divine deliverance and divine judgment. The records of these truths about the earthquakes in the Scriptures are given so that we may pause and consider God’s sovereignty, power and purposes in such cataclysmic events. The first divine purpose attached to earthquake was that:
God’s presence at Mount Sinai shook it violently.
Ancient appearances of God are mentioned in the song sung by Deborah and Barak in Judges 5 as causing earthquakes.
God’s appearance to Elijah when he fled into the wilderness from the wicked king Ahab and his queen Jezebel, was preceded by an earthquake.
God’s voice is depicted as shaking the earth, which sometimes accompanied divine revelation.
God’s mighty presence is depicted as causing the mountains to tremble and “skip”.
Earth shook as the Lord Jesus died on the cross, causing the Roman centurion and all that were with him to confess that He was truly the Son of God.
Again, at Christ’s resurrection there was also an earthquake.
When God granted His presence and revelation, the accompanying signs were indicative of His glorious power. Phenomena accompanying His manifestations, such as earthquakes, filled the hearts of His people with reverence for His divine majesty. At Christ’s death, as well as resurrection, the earthquakes were open affirmation of His divinity, that His people may be assured of the grandeur of His presence and power.
The Bible records or alludes to scores of earthquakes. They include past earthquakes that happened at various times during Creation, Noah’s Flood, the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, the giving of the Law at Mount Sinai, the collapse of the Jericho wall, God’s appearance or revelation to Israel’s prophets, Christ’s crucifixion, Christ’s resurrection and the first-century apostolic ministry, as well as future ones that will occur as part of the signs of the end times, the Great Tribulation and the Second Coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. As a matter of fact, the biblical records of those past earthquakes are also evidenced by other historical, geological, archaeological records.
Do the earthquakes which destroy cities and villages, buildings, roads and bridges, kill hundreds and thousands of people, and leave behind devastation, chaos and sorrow attest to the deists’ belief that God is uninvolved in the catastrophic events of the world? Is it true that God has very little to do with catastrophes like earthquakes? Are they simply mere phenomena resulting from the natural laws? Or are earthquakes part of God’s sovereign, providential dealings in this world?
In the articles that will be published over the next couple of weeks, I would like to share what I have come to understand about earthquakes through the study of God’s Word. May the Lord be pleased to enlighten and strengthen you through these articles concerning the earthquakes that terrify and confound people.
The Bible records that God sovereignly reigns over the earth, even presiding over the fearsome, devastating earthquakes. As the Almighty King, God rules from heaven even over the earth. He owns them – “the earth is the LORD’S” (Exodus 9:29; Psalm 24:1; 1 Corinthians 10:26, 28). Exodus 19:5 says, “… for all the earth is mine”. Deuteronomy 10:14 reminds us, “Behold, the heaven and the heaven of heavens is the LORD’S thy God, the earth also, with all that therein is.”
As the Creator of the earth (Genesis 1:1; 2:1; Psalm 89:11), He not only owns it, but also rules over it. God is the sovereign Head over heaven and earth – “Thine, O LORD, is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty: for all that is in the heaven and in the earth is thine; thine is the kingdom, O LORD, and thou art exalted as head above all” (1 Chronicles 29:11). Consider the following Scriptural declarations:
Earthquakes do not happen because God has lost control or because God has no more interest in the affairs of this earth. Even when the earth shakes and tremble, God is there, acting as its just King. God is still on the throne. While describing God’s matchless greatness, power and authority, Job said that God, as the great Judge, shakes the earth – “He is wise in heart, and mighty in strength: who hath hardened himself against him, and hath prospered? Which removeth the mountains, and they know not: which overturneth them in his anger. Which shaketh the earth out of her place, and the pillars thereof tremble” (Job 9:4-6). So, when the earth quakes, it isn’t happening because it is outside God’s power and control. Instead, earthquakes are part of His sovereign purposes concerning the earth and the universe which He has created and is directing.
The Bible clearly shows God’s design and purposes of the earthquakes that are recorded in the Bible. The Bible not only speaks of the localised earthquakes that had occurred in the past, but also predicts increasing number of massive, devastating earthquakes, culminating in a global earthquake like never before towards the end of the Great Tribulation. Then at the end of it all, at God’s final judgment, the earth and heaven shall pass away.
So, instead of pointing to a powerless god who is detached from the events of the earth, earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, tsunamis, etc. point to a God who reigns over the earth, even over the earth’s calamities. God is not a helpless bystander. He is not a frail being who is unable to handle the forces of nature. He is the all-powerful, the Omnipotent, who reigns supreme over all the events on earth, including its tragedies.
We may speak scientifically about those phenomena and explain the earthquake as the result of a fault beneath the earth’s crust, or as being caused by the top of the earth’s crust moving in one direction while the levels under the earth’s crust move in the opposite direction. To be sure, these are the intermediate causes that God, the ultimate Cause of such events, uses for His purposes. He rules through intermediate causes and at times by direct intervention, but either way, He is in charge!
So, we sing with Isaac Watts:
There’s not a plant or flower below,
But makes Thy glories known;
And clouds arise, and tempests blow,
By order from Thy throne.
I thank God for the precious lessons I have derived from God’s Word faithfully expounded during this youth retreat. Pastor has truly elucidated the differences between regeneration and adoption, and reiterated our obligations as “Children of the Most High”.
Isaiah 53:5 states “But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.” Christ has redeemed us through his atoning death on the cross. He has emancipated us from sin’s galling fetters and ensnarement. He is our Mediator and Intercessor, whom we know has removed all enmity and reconciled God and man. Having received the gift of salvation, it is imperative that we “put off the old man with his deeds; And put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him” (Colossians 3:9-10).
Adoption not only encompasses regeneration, an important facet of soteriology, but also further establishes our position in relation to the Father. It changes our attitude towards Him. As sinners saved by grace, elected to be heirs of a wonderful inheritance, we cannot be fixated on the ephemeral things of this transient world. Each day, I am still learning to be more Christ-like in spite of all the seemingly insuperable challenges I may encounter along the way. In my pilgrim’s progress, I must learn to be more submissive to God’s will and not yield to the flesh. Putting God first in this morally deficient and decadent world may be difficult, but I put my trust in my Saviour – my Refuge and Strength. Although our steps may falter, we must humbly seek Him and repent, for the Lord is judicious in his chastisements, which are commensurate to our transgressions.
Finally, I cannot forget the privileges of our eternal glory and blessings in being a part of God’s kingdom. I pray the Lord may use this ministry to the youths mightily for the extension of His kingdom.
Dear brethren, I would like to share the following exhortation based on Acts 19:20, which says, “So mightily grew the word of God and prevailed.” As believers, we must know the divine power that we receive through the Word for our personal spiritual growth and for the ministry of the church.
When the apostle Paul and his team arrived in the city of Ephesus, they preached the Gospel to the Jews first. Paul went into the Jewish synagogue and “spake boldly for the space of three months, disputing and persuading the things concerning the kingdom of God” (Acts 19:8). But some of the hearers “were hardened, and believed not, but spake evil of that way before the multitude” (v. 9). He was forced to move out of the synagogue, and thereafter taught in the school of Tyrannus. The hostility notwithstanding, Paul undauntedly preached the Word, influencing the Jews as well as the Greeks in that city and its surrounding region (v. 10).
Another giant obstacle to the Gospel advancement in that city was its enchantment with sorcery and witchcraft. Ephesus was renowned for the statue of Artemis and her temple. The statue had mysterious engravings on the crown, girdle and feet. Those mystical writings, referred to as “Ephesian scripts”, were considered to have magical power. Sorcery was part of the Ephesian culture. Some of the Jews also practised wizardry, as revealed in Acts 19:13 – “Then certain of the vagabond Jews, exorcists, took upon them to call over them which had evil spirits the name of the Lord Jesus, saying, We adjure you by Jesus whom Paul preacheth.” When seven sons of Sceva, the chief of the Jewish priests, tried to exorcise some demons in the name of Jesus, they were violently attacked by the demonic man. This incident brought much fear among the people.
Nonetheless, the preaching of the Word of God turned many away from their diabolical practices. “And many that believed came, and confessed, and shewed their deeds. Many of them also which used curious arts brought their books together, and burned them before all men: and they counted the price of them, and found it fifty thousand pieces of silver” (Acts 19:18, 19). Mightily did the Word of God grow and prevail in that city, where unbelief and fierce demonic activities stood in its way.
In our own day, many dabble with horoscopes, tarot cards, crystal balls, Ouija boards, séances and other mystical and demonic activities, which are dangerous to their minds and emotions. If the church is preaching the Word faithfully and fervently, we will see some people being delivered from unbelief, and the enticement and enslavement of the devil. The preaching of the Word shall prevail over all demonic powers!
Rufus Wang Ze Min (with my Mummy Yuting)
I would like to thank God for a very enriching DVBS. I would like to thank Pr Kelvin and his team of teachers (Pr Dennis, Bro. Cornelius, Sis. Sarah and Sis. Sharon), as well as helpers (Bro. Amoz, Bro. Jordy, Sis. Dorcas, Sis. Kamala and Sis. Rhodora) for preparing Bible lessons, songs, art & craft, food and games.
My friends and I learnt 6 important lessons about the Bible:
We also learnt many hymns. The three hymns that remain in my mind are: “The Bible Stands” (theme song), “This is the Day the Lord hath Made”, and “John 3:16”.
I pray that God will keep the fire of faith burning in me long after DVBS, as I continue to learn more about the Bible, and sing hymns in church and at home.
I learnt that the Bible contains “God-breathed” instructions to help me be perfect as God our heavenly Father, and also to help me produce good works.
Praise God for the privilege to attend last year’s youth camp. As in every youth camp, there are so many precious lessons taught and gleaned, of which I would share a few.
We are children of the Most High – elected, called, justified, forgiven, adopted and reconciled to God. God draws us to Himself – this is the highest privilege one can have. It is not the accolades of the world, nor the worldly ambitions that attract us; rather, the joy and peace that we are children of the Most High. No Christian is an orphan, for we are sealed by the name of God and are called the sons of God.
Our Most High King and Master has transferred us from the world to God. Hence, I pray that we will live no more after the flesh, nor in fear, but have full trust and dependence upon God who has so mercifully and graciously saved and loved us. We must not let the threatening things enslave us but rejoice in the sure hope of glory that each child of God has in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Prior to this camp, the aspect of Ordo Salutis (Order of Salvation) that charmed my soul most was Election, i.e. how God sovereignly had mercy & compassion on me, independent of my willing and running. Regeneration, i.e. having tasted that deadness in trespasses & sins, to be quickened by Him alone who is able, was a wondrous truth that occupied my mind too.
But this camp has given me a newfound love and appreciation for Adoption. It is a joy to know that it is He who bought us over, and likewise declared our new legal status – gladly on behalf of us, His powerless children – to the unbelieving world. Truly, it is not our entrance into, but His welcoming, sealing & safekeeping of us in this new, holy beloved family of His that makes adoption the highest point, even the greatest experience of salvation on earth.
As the new year draws closer (and I know not what to expect in 2019), I pray that I will stop being indebted to the flesh, having learnt that I don’t owe the flesh anything, but instead be a submissive child, a partaker of my inheritance, even if it entails persecution or chastisement.
Joy floods my soul for Jesus has saved me,
Freed me from sin that long had enslaved me
His precious blood He gave to redeem,
Now I belong to Him;
Now I belong to Jesus,
Jesus belongs to me,
Not for the years of time alone,
But for eternity.
In the last church weekly, I have briefly written on how we should maintain solemnity in our worship services. It is unfortunate that there are some among us who tend to become negligent of the need for reverential conduct in the worship of God.
What truth is in us if we say that we believe in the supremacy and holiness of God, and yet act irreverently before Him? Should not our faith concerning our God make a difference in our attitude when we come before Him in worship? Can our mannerism be unworthy of God’s greatness and grandeur, especially as we gather to worship Him? Are we acting indifferently to the doctrine of God that we have confessed?
It is an unspeakable tragedy if anyone acts irreverently amidst the congregation that gather to call on the great God as the object of their worship. Let us not be oblivious towards God when we come into His presence.
There is no worship until and unless our whole being is fully focused on the praise and glory of God. Our body and soul must be wholly fixated on God. No part of our being should wander from God when we worship Him. Neither should our conduct be a distraction to others. If anything distracts us, we must turn our attention back to God at once. We must make conscious efforts to yield ourselves fully to God to praise Him and to hear His voice in faith and submission.
It must also be said that if we participate in the elements of worship without being wholly fixated on God, we are not truly worshipping. True worship is not merely being present in the worship service, or clasping our hands and closing our eyes during prayer while our thoughts are directed elsewhere. Enjoying the singing without our thoughts being directed towards God, cannot be considered worship! Jesus and the Scriptures condemn such frivolous involvement in worship of God – “Ye hypocrites, well did Esaias prophesy of you, saying, This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men” (Matthew 15:7-9; cf. Isaiah 29:13; Mark 7:6).
If we come to God to worship Him as He has taught us in His Word, great spiritual richness and joy will fill our hearts. When God becomes our hearts’ main fixation, worship becomes a wonderfully exhilarating and blessed experience. Sunday after Sunday, we will find Him to be inexhaustible! Our desire to know and worship Him will further increase. So, let us sing with Robert Robinson:
Come, Thou Fount of ev’ry blessing, tune my heart to sing Thy grace;
Streams of mercy, never ceasing, call for songs of loudest praise.
Teach me some melodious sonnet, sung by flaming tongues above.
Praise the mount! I’m fixed upon it – mount of Thy redeeming love.
Kelvin Lim (on behalf of the GCM Committee)
The Gethsemane Children’s Ministry (GCM) thanks the LORD for bringing last year’s DVBS to pass. We thank the LORD for watching over the various aspects of the planning and execution of last year’s DVBS, which is special as this is the first time we have online registration for DVBS.
Last year’s theme – “The Bible” – was formulated to remind the children and us of the significance of God’s Word. The participants were taught six lessons from various passages in the Scriptures. One of which was John 3:16, whereby the love of God was taught with the hope that one or more souls may be added unto the kingdom of God!
The LORD has been good to GCM in providing a venue in the premises of Berean Bible-Presbyterian Church. This is our first time using the premises of another church for our DVBS. We used the worship hall for the combined activities, such as singspiration, indoor games and lunch; it also doubled up as the classroom for the Nursery-Kindergarten Class. An upper-room was used for the Primary 1-3 Class while the office was used for the Primary 4-6 Class. As such, we want to thank God for the kindness of Rev. Tan Kian Sing and the Session of Berean B-P Church for allowing us to use their premises.
The LORD sent us 41 children, of whom 14 were from outside our church! While heartened by this outside group, we nonetheless hope that more of our members would be encouraged to send their children to receive God’s blessings through our annual DVBS! Among those 14 “outside” children who came, some were invited by our members while others came as a result of their parents’ online search for school vacation children’s activities. May the children be blessed with memories of the truths learned during the DVBS last year!
During the three-day event, we managed to have two days of outdoor games despite the wet weather forecast by National Environment Agency. More importantly, we also thank God for granting us safety, especially when crossing the roads to the park where the games were organised.
Lastly, thank God for moving the hearts of 17 brethren who serve as volunteers together with us in the committee, as well as 5 brothers who serve as teachers. Furthermore, praise God that Pastor was able to come daily to exhort the children and adults from the Bible, particularly from Psalm 19:7 – “The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple.”