Would you be surprised if I tell you that centuries before our time, the poet of psalm 148 had already raised the issues of social and ecological responsibility? In bringing our awareness to the environment, the psalmist grounds it on creation’s relationship to her Creator. Simply put, the psalmist views this world as belonging to God, not to human beings alone. In fact, God takes pleasure in and loves His creation in all its marvellous, beautiful, intricate and interconnected variety. Thus, according to Psalm 148, God will be praised by nothing short of a cosmic congregation consisting not only of people but also of all creatures and all inanimate features of creation.
In this universal symphony of praise, there is a tacit acknowledgement of the equality of all constituents that make up the whole creation. Thus all creation is call to praise God and to show forth His glory with greater clarity. However, nature’s praise was muted or distorted by the ways humankind have exploited, polluted and destroyed Nature’s resources, all in the name of progress and development for whatever human benefits and reasons. Indeed, the current environmental crisis is receiving tremendous attention today in the scientific world, the media, and the business community - and rightfully so!
However, for believers, we are called to care for the entire earth in all its features not for our sakes, but for God’s sake. This is where Christians have distinguished ourselves with the world’s “go green” campaigners.
What the world needs is precisely what Psalm 148 calls us to do: recognize God’s sovereign claim upon the universe which in essence is both a worshipful act as well as a lifestyle. Praise in worship involves our conviction that God, not us, rules the world. Praise as a lifestyle involves living out what we affirm in worship – that is, living in such a way that acknowledges and preserves the value and integrity of all people, all animate and inanimate creation.
While one of the primary concerns of Psalm 148 for today may be ecology, it has another equally important concern, namely, the interdependence and interconnectedness of human community. If we believe in the inherent equality of all humanity, then we must show our solidarity with our community by lovingly caring for the poor, the unemployed, the marginalized, the weak and homeless or simply by a healthy sense of neighbourliness and community. In this way, the solution to the present human crisis begins with our faithful response to the invitation of Psalm 148, “Praise the LORD!” It is because of this conviction, as Christians, we must engage the world through the caring of our environment and the good work of social enterprise for our community.
Rev. Mark Tay
Jesus refers to Himself as the “light of the world” (John 8:12). He also says that you are the “light of the world” (Matt 5:14). And He promises that whoever follows Him “will not walk in darkness” but will have the light of life” (John 8:12).
What does He mean? What are we to understand by this? What is the light?
The city of Ephesus was the seat of satanic practices and all manner of occult activities when Paul first visited it. To this citadel of evil and idolatry, Paul went to “give light to those who [sat] in darkness.”
When he wrote to the Christians there he referred to them as “light in the Lord” and encouraged them to "walk as children of light." This light is revealed in all goodness, righteousness, and truth. This is the light others should witness in us.
Goodness, righteousness, and truth – each of these three terms covers a different aspect of our witness.
Don’t forget Jesus encourages you to “let your light shine before others” (Matt 5:16)
Righteousness conveys legality. Psalm 119:172 defines righteousness as keeping the commandments of God, thus righteousness implies conformity to law. It indicates uprightness and a manifestation of justice. It can literally mean being right. Therefore, righteousness should be a characteristic of a Christian. He is fair and just in his dealings with others, plays by the rules and respects others' rights and possessions.
Also, in Ephesians, Paul makes mention of deceit, things done in secret, and the hidden things of darkness. "All truth" is their opposite. The character of the life of the Christian is without deceit. Nothing is hidden, underhanded, or dishonest; nothing smacks of hypocrisy or pretence. The life of those walking in the light will be open, above-board, and transparent; it has nothing to conceal and never pretends to be something it is not.
“Goodness” in the New Testament can mean either the act or the intention motivating the act. It can be gentle or sharp, but the intention of the good person is always the well-being of the recipients of his goodness. An English word that covers some aspects of the Greek word is "benevolence." This is the inclination to do good which seems to be Paul's intent.
When Jesus says He is the light of the world, He is giving us a perfect example to follow.
And He invites you to follow.
Pastor Robert Chew
Our nation just celebrated her 52th national day on 9th of August and we should be proud and grateful for what our nation has achieved thus far. However as Christians what should be our perspective on citizenship and what is the connection between our earthly and heavenly citizenship?
From Jesus’ reply to the Pharisees in Mark 12:13-17 regarding taxes, it is clear that he based the idea of citizenship on our relationship to the Sovereign Creator of heaven and earth. When Jesus remarks, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's,” he is not saying that what belongs to Caesar does not belong to God. Instead, we should interpret Jesus’ words to mean that as citizens we owe honor and taxes to government (Caesar), but we do so as part of our total obligation to God. In short, Caesar deserves taxes, but God deserves everything, including our service to Caesar.
We should also recognize another important principle: that Christians hold a citizenship in two realms. This is where the connection between earthly and heavenly citizenship comes in. Just as a child born in an earthly family can, at the same time, belong to the family of God, so the same can be said about our earthly citizenship. Fulfilling our civic responsibility is a duty owed to God as well as to our fellow Singaporeans. We who acknowledge God’s rule must learn to do our civic duties as to the Lord. In a complex society like ours, one of the most important ways to live as a citizen in God’s kingdom is to pursue justice for all our neighbors in our community.
Singaporeans can indeed be proud of our country and government. But we must not forget that we are also citizens of another realm. Paul in his letter to the Philippians reminded them of this: “Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ … But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Phil. 1:27; 3:20). Paul’s appeal to the privilege of citizenship was particularly poignant to the Philippians because as Roman citizens they prided themselves on their elite status. Against this preoccupation with the coveted Roman citizenship, Paul interposes a counter-citizenship whose seat of power is not in Rome but in heaven; whose guarantor is not Nero but Christ. Philippi may be a colony under Lord Caesar, but the church at Philippi is a personal people of King Jesus, the Lord above all (Phil. 2:9-11).
While we celebrated our National day with joy and pride, let us not fail to live up to our higher and greater calling as citizens of heaven. In essence, Paul is saying, “You are citizens of heaven; therefore live accordingly, in a manner that is worthy of your King.” Are you living worthily of your King - our Lord Jesus Christ?
Rev. Mark Tay
No matter what source we get our news from, regular or social media, we are constantly bombarded with stories of seemingly wanton atrocities – acts of naked hatred – committed by one group of people against another. The latest is from Charlottesville, Virginia, USA, where a rally of “white supremacists” turned violent, resulting in death and injury to the innocent.
We also hear of the increasing intensity of hate activities against those who profess faith in Jesus from countries closer to home – persecutions, kidnappings, oppressions, and so on.
Because of this, I thought about what Jesus taught in Matthew 5:39 – “But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.”
What does He mean? Is Jesus urging Christians to become passive victims? Are we to suffer in silence and refuse to seek legal protection?
To understand this, we have to know the context of his statement, as well as his audience. Jesus prefaced his statement above with, 'An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth'” (v.38). He was referring to Exodus 21:24 and Leviticus 24:20. The “eye for an eye” retribution mentioned in those scriptures was properly administered only after an offender had stood trial before the priests and judges who weighed the circumstances and the degree of deliberateness of the offense. (See also Deuteronomy 19:15-21.)
Over time the Jews distorted the application of this law. The “eye for eye, tooth for tooth” was used as grounds for revenge, which were often carried to the utmost extremity. More evil was often returned than what had been received. The law of God never permitted this.
Jesus’ teaching in his Sermon on the Mount reflects the true spirit of God’s Law to Israel. Jesus did not mean for his followers to offer one cheek after being struck on the other. In Bible times, as is often true today, a slap was not intended to injure but intended to provoke a reaction or a confrontation.
Evidently, then, Jesus’ meaning is to avoid retaliating and causing a vicious circle of rendering evil for evil.
The Apostle Paul in Romans also teaches this principle – “Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all”
Pastor Robert Chew
Together with Pastor Mark, Tina, Dn. Bob, Kian Hwa, Mei Ling and Helen, I embarked on a mission trip to Myanmar from 21 to 24 July. During the brief time, we were touched by the lives of many people. They taught us by their lives what it meant to simply cast their cares on Him and to rejoice in Him always.
One thing I found myself reflecting upon during the entire trip was just how blessed and happy the people were despite their very trying circumstances. Many of them are struggling to make ends meet, yet they praise and acknowledge Him as their Savior and give ever so readily and heartily.
What kind of giving am I referring to? Their warm hospitality is one of that, ferrying us with joy from place to place even when they had to use their own cars at their own expense. Providing shelter, food, education, and parental comfort to orphans is another. Every time we visited an orphanage or kindergarten run by one of these godly caregivers, our hearts rejoiced at how they had brought up the kids to trust and rejoice in Him. They love to sing and their singing is always from the heart, their joyful and radiant faces bearing witness to that. The older children are mature beyond their age, taking care of the younger ones like a parent would. While the children were singing and receiving gifts from us, you could feel a deep sense of peace and blessedness on the part of the caregivers who have a burden to minister God’s Word to those in need and have adopted these children in faith, committing their upbringing to the Lord. There seems to be no limit to the selfless love and generosity exhibited by our brethren in Myanmar.
Similarly, as recorded in Matthew 19 and Luke 18, when a certain ruler asked Jesus how one can inherit eternal life, Jesus instructed him to sell all that he had and distribute to the poor.
Besides, we have an example of how the early church in Acts 2 did so: as one big community, they shared all things, sold their possessions and distributed the proceeds to all according to the needs of each person. I am convinced that we too ought to share and give in the same way, dying to all our own needs and considering the needs of others.
I thank God for this valuable lesson that I learned on the trip. May we all be encouraged to follow the example of Jesus to live a life in service to others, by giving not just our money but our whole lives for the edification of God’s community and the salvation of those who are still outside the fold. Only then will we be able to sing praises and glorify God together as one voice!
It is my belief that the central reality of the Bible is that God is King over all of His creation.
We see this reality quite clearly in Psalm 145. The psalmist begins with a personal resolve to praise “my God, O King” (Ps. 145:1). He ends with a call, “let all flesh bless his holy name forever and ever.” (Ps. 145:21).Why did the psalmist direct our focus to praise the work and person of God the King? I believe one of the reasons is that Israel needs to have a kingdom perspective in order to live up to her holy calling.
When God delivered His people out of Egypt, He led them to Mt. Sinai to renew His covenant with them (Exo. 19:5, 6). They were to be God’s special people, a kingdom of priests and a holy nation to the surrounding nations. But Israel had failed miserably. What about us? Do we have a right perspective of our calling as a kingdom of priests (Rev. 1:6)?
In a world where suffering and violence abound, we need a clear vision of the kingship of God who is almighty, eternal and benevolent. If we have this awesome perspective of God, then and only then will we be able to live up to our true calling. How does having this perspective impact us?
First, it will encourage us to trust Him even in the midst of tribulations. Paul encouraged his Gentile converts to trust God in the midst of tribulations because this is what it means to be God’s Kingdom people (Acts 14:22).
Second, this perspective of God as King will constrain us to become the answer to the Lord’s Prayer, “Thy Kingdom come”! It is one thing to pray, “Your kingdom come,” but it is another thing to put the prayer into action. Are we willing to be the hands and feet of God in this world?
Finally, having a kingdom perspective will help us put all our troubles on earth in their proper perspective. Let me explain with an illustration: “Charles Ellis was a tremendous sports fan. When he is not able to be present at the sporting events, he would record them. When he had the time to sit in his easy chair and view the game, unlike most people, he didn’t start at the beginning. Instead he fast-forward to the end to see who won and who lost. If his team lost, he’ll stop watching, but if his team won, he’ll start the game at the beginning, get some snacks, and watch the whole game. Some say this method can’t be much fun. But for Charles, he loved it. No matter how bad things look for his team, he don’t have to worry because he knows the end of the story.”
That’s how we might think of our own situation. No matter how bad things look for us, we don’t have to worry because we know the end of the story. In the end, everything will turn out all right. If it is not all right, it is not the end.
Rev. Mark Tay
Last Sunday, our Moriah congregation celebrated her 19th anniversary of God’s goodness and His steadfast love.
As I meditated on God’s goodness, I was reminded of how the psalmists praise and thank God in the Psalter.
Ps. 150: 6, “Let everything that has breath praise the LORD!” and “Bless the LORD, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name! . . . and forget not all his benefits” (Ps. 103:1-2).
I could quote many more verses (see also 147:1; 146;1, 2; 107; 95:1,2; 96:1, 2; 98:1; 100 etc.), but I am sure you got the point: God is worthy of praise, and we must never forget all His benefits.
But how should we praise God? And what should be our attitude when we praise Him etc.? Why should we worship Him?
I believe Psalm 145 answers these questions. Being an acrostic psalm (each verse begins with a Hebrew alphabet), Psalm 145 expresses a totality and complete praise of the LORD.
First, the psalmist begins with his resolve to praise and bless “my God, O King” (v. 1). This reveals a deliberate and determined vow to praise the Lord. And how long will he praise the Lord? “I will bless thy name for ever and ever” (vs. 1, 2). His praise of God is not a momentary whim, quickly offered and soon forgotten, but a fixed resolution that will be carried out forever.
Second, the psalmist praise of God is his daily lifestyle. He was determined to praise God, “every day.” Every day whether in good or bad times; no matter how dark and difficult the day may be, there is always something for which he can praise the LORD. We should do likewise. In fact, now is the time for us to rehearse our praise of God in preparation for the grand choir in heaven! I agree with Spurgeon who said, “Praise is the rehearsal of our eternal song”!
Finally, from verses 3 to 20, the psalmist persuades us with four powerful grounds to praise the name of God the King: the greatness (vs 3-7); goodness (vs. 8-9); glory (vs. 10-13); and mercy of God (vs. 14-20).
With such an awesome picture of God as King, we are to bless Him daily, give time and energy each day to being alone with Him, reading His Word, bowing in prayer, rising in praise and reminding each other of how great He is, and call upon Him. He is honored when we trust Him, and when we give Him the opportunity to vindicate Himself and so prove to be God. In this way we praise Him as King, live vitally in His Kingdom and pray confidently: “Thy Kingdom come”, “Even so, come, Lord Jesus” (Matt. 6: 10; Rev. 22:20) Amen.
Rev. Mark Tay
In the glorious Name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and on behalf of the Session of Sembawang-Moriah B-P Churches, it’s my privilege to invite you, whether you are worshipping with us here in the Moriah sanctuary today, or whether you are worshipping the same merciful God in the sanctuary in Sembawang, to join us in thanksgiving on this special Lord’s Day.
The special day, of course, is the church at Moriah celebrating her nineteenth anniversary. She is doing so with a baptism and thanksgiving service.
I recall with fondness when Sembawang branched out to found Moriah in Simei, we were a church with about 50-60 communicant members; and with regular worshippers, we numbered no more than about 90 worshippers on each Lord’s Day. We can truly thank God when we look at where we are today!
While we are deeply grateful for all that God had done for us in the past, our prayer remains for God, by His grace, to continue to bless and guide us toward the future – a future that may see our witness grow stronger and more fervent as we continue to proclaim the excellencies of our Redeemer God who called us out of darkness into His marvelous light.
With abiding joy, I remember some words of scripture that befit an occasion like this:
It was the duty of the trumpeters and singers to make themselves heard in unison in praise and thanksgiving to the LORD, and when the song was raised, with trumpets and cymbals and other musical instruments, in praise to the LORD, "For he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever," the house, the house of the LORD, was filled with a cloud, (2 Chronicles 5:13)
He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God. (2 Corinthians 9:10-11)
Rev. Robert Chew
"11 For who knows a person's thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God.
12 Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God."
This passage holds an important principle that we would do well to adhere to – exercise compassion in our judgments.
In the last month, through my pastoral interactions with the people of God in our church, God again revealed to me that our human comprehension of spiritual matters is very limited. Also, our knowledge of the inner spirit of other people is severely nuanced by our own fallenness. That, I believe, is the idea behind Paul’s question in vs.11: “who knows a person’s thoughts…?”
Without help, man knows very little of himself, still less of his fellow-man, and least of all, about God. This should teach us at least three things:
Exercise modesty in our judgment.
Generous dose of humility in our inquiries.
Confidence in the Word of God, for the Spirit knows all things.
Remember the apostolic warning in Romans 2:1 - “Therefore you have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges. For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things.”
What lies in man’s heart is not always knowable to others. It is this inner world that the Apostle Paul is thinking of here. Here’s the test: just think how many thoughts pass through your minds of which your nearest and dearest can never know.
The ignorance of the inner life of those around us should teach us to be charitable in our judgments and opinions of those around us. There is no way for us to penetrate the soul of our fellow-sinners, and know for certain what is passing there. So, beware of the fact that your judgments and opinions have a very high probability of being grossly incorrect or unjust.
First Corinthians 2:12 teaches that when we receive the “Spirit who is from God”, we might understand the things given to us by God.
How is this possible?
Only the Spirit of God has perfect knowledge and only He knows what is in the spirit of man. Hence, the things of God can only be known by him who has the Spirit.
How is this obtained?
We receive the Spirit by new birth – a gracious gift – that should be used to “serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace” (1 Peter 4:10).
Pastor Robert Chew
In last week’s bulletin, Pastor Robert urged us to pray for our youths who left Singapore to do mission work with our gospel partners in Cambodia. Indeed, it is heartening to know that 18 of our youths from Moriah are working with other serious-minded youths in three churches— Phnom Penh, Smachdeng, and Kompong Som!
It is my prayer that the Lord of the harvest would send more of our youths out into the harvest fields. This calls for a fresh understanding of God’s call.
First, the call of God is primarily to salvation rather than to an occupation. In today’s society, however, a calling is synonymous with a person’s occupation. But for Christians, our calling comes from our identity as children of God. We are first called to Jesus Christ and then called to do something for Him.
Second, this calling is all-embracing since it includes work, service in church, family life, neighbourhood, civic responsibility, care of creation, mission in the world and personal holiness. Simply put, the Christian vocation is God’s call to live for the praise of His glory (Eph. 1:12, 14) and to serve God’s purposes in every context of life.
Finally, in the Bible, there is only one call of God that comes to God’s people, but this call has three dimensions to it: (1) to belong; (2) to be and (3) to do.
This is true both for Israel and the Church. In the OT, Israel was called to belong to God as a chosen people, live as a covenant community in holiness, justice and mercy, and serve God’s purposes in the world through missionary outreach and holy living.
In the NT, God’s call is both individual and corporate. Individually we are called to belong to God through salvation, live holy lives and serve God. This means that each of us is led by God and called to live, work and minister to fulfill the grand purpose of God.
Corporately, God’s call creates a community that belongs to Him and to one another. Together we live as a community that bears witness to our true identity and serves God’s purposes of transforming the world until Christ returns. This means that all Christians are called; all are called together, and all are called for the totality of everyday life.
In a sense, our youths are fulfilling the call of God by participating in the mission outreach of the church together with the youths and leaders of the three churches in Cambodia. What a joy it is for us at home as we do our part in praying and supporting our youths in their outreach!
May our Lord grant us the grace and wisdom of the Spirit “to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called” (Eph. 4:1)
Rev. Mark Tay
“...to send out laborers into his harvest.”
– Matthew 9:38, Luke 10:2
It is clear from the context of this verse we find in both Matthew and Luke that the spiritual commission (“pray for laborers…”) is closely connected with the deep sympathy Jesus have for the lost. He sees them as “harassed”, “helpless”, and “without a shepherd” (Matt 9:36)
And we find in Acts 13:2, the Holy Spirit telling the church at Antioch to, “set apart for me Barnabas and Saul (Paul) for the work to which I have called them.”
Three points are obvious from these verses:
The Lord is the initiator of missions and the call comes from Him (Acts 13:1)
He identifies and choses those He wants (Acts 13:1)
Those who are called are commissioned and supported by the prayers of the church (Acts 13:3)
On Wednesday, Daniel Gan, Ben Wong, Juventus, Clarence, Elissa, Ezekiel, Janice, Jeanell, Jervina, Joshua Khoo, Magdalene, Nicholette, Sean Tan, Shanice, Sheryl, Vashawn, Yuan Fu and Carmen – 18 youths from our church! – left for Cambodia.
They are going to be there visiting and doing stuff that only youths can do to fellowship, share, and bond with the Christian youths in three churches – Phnom Penh, the village in Smachdeng, and Kampong Som – three very active churches engaged in various activities to evangelise the people around them.
They deserve our prayers and support. They will travel by bus over long distances when they are there in the country, they will be eating food that will be prepared with standards different from what they are used to, they will teach, speak, and share … so, there’s plenty to pray for.
The pastors who serve in the three churches there are eagerly awaiting the arrival of our youths and are also praying and promoting the youths visit to non-Christians in the hope that they will come and hear the gospel lived out in the lives of ours and their youths.
“And let us not grow weary of doing good,
for in due season we will reap,
if we do not give up.”
- Galatians 6:9
Pastor Robert Chew
Most of us usually do not think that our work has anything to do with our Sunday worship. We dichotomize between secular and spiritual. Work is secular employment; worship is for God and church. It is no wonder that Christians fail to make an impact in the marketplace. We do not look at our work as another way to share our faith.
However, in Psalm 104, the psalmist seems to connect worship of God as Creator and Sustainer with our mundane grind of labor. In fact, according to the psalmist, work is a blessing, not a curse. Since most of our life is spent working to earn our bread and butter, we ought to see our work as an extension of our worship of God. If we cannot be holy at our work, it is useless to try being holy elsewhere.
It is the man who gets up in the morning and goes to his job and works all day in the marketplace, it is the woman who pursues her daily tasks at home or in the workplace with cheerfulness – these are the ones who make an impact for Christ in the world.
How we work is as important as how we pray. There is no greater testimony than the Christian mechanic or technician at his workshop, the Christian teacher in the classroom, the Christian secretary at the desk, the Christian nurse at the hospital ward, or the Christian accountant keeping the books in the office.
This is where Christianity must be seen. Going to church means little if you are a lazy slouch on the job or you practice ‘tai chi’ in your workplace. Our problem is that we do not see our daily work as a way to worship God. What you do on Monday is just as important in the eyes of the Lord as what you do in church on Sunday.
Remember, you are the only Bible someone will ever read. You are the only gospel someone will ever hear. What do people read, hear, and see when they look at your life?
Someone has said: “The only way to show that Christianity is the best of all faiths is to show that it produces the best of all human person.” When we show that our faith makes us better workers, truer friends, better neighbours, kinder men and women, then we are really preaching.
Our lives are sermons that daily draw others to Jesus – or push them away from Him. I pray that it will be the former for all of us.
Rev. Mark Tay
WE HAVE always known, or at least, have been taught, that the Old Testament points to the New and that all books in the Old point to Jesus.
I wonder how many busy Christians today spend serious time in the Old. And if we do, in which books. I know we do use the Book of Psalms for responsive reading in our worship, and (occasionally?) seek for comfort and assurance from it or from the Book of Proverbs. But do we actively look for Jesus there in the Old?
Erik Raymond, an American pastor wrote on 23 May in the Gospel Coalition a delightful article sharing his experience in his journey through the Book of Proverbs. He says he began to “see and smell the gospel flowers in full bloom” and he “heard the chirping birds and their songs of deliverance.”
Let me share just a few of his experiences with you.
Riches do not profit in the day of wrath, but righteousness delivers from death. (Pro 11:4)
Our chief need is not to accumulate wealth but to overcome our infinite debt of unrighteousness. Christ Jesus is our everlasting righteousness despite our sin-laden depravity.
One pretends to be rich, yet has nothing; another pretends to be poor, yet has great wealth (Pro 13:7)
In our sin, we pretend and perform like we have or are something. The truth is, we are weak, helpless, and broken. Though He was rich, Christ the King left the throne of heaven to be a weak, poor, humble servant that He might make poor sinners like us rich in him.
Fools mock at the guilt offering, but the upright enjoy acceptance (Pro 14:9)
The word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing. But it is by God’s sovereign grace that we can now see that Christ Jesus has become our guilt offering. In his body, He bore our guilt and shame so that we now enjoy acceptance.
I remember the song, Jesus, Rose of Sharon, written by Ida Guirey. Some of the words are:
Jesus, Rose of Sharon, bloom within my heart / Beauties of Thy truth and holiness impart / That where’er I go my life may shed abroad / Fragrance of the knowledge of the love of God
And the first four lines of the refrain are:
Jesus, Rose of Sharon / Bloom in radiance and in love within my heart / Jesus, Rose of Sharon, sweeter far to see / Than the fairest flow’rs of earth could ever be.
Pastor Robert Chew
When the month of June rolls around, we know that Father’s Day is around the corner.
To me, that day reminds me of three vital roles of a father as head of the family. We should not underestimate the importance of these roles. Without a father, a home is like a ship without a rudder. The family may drift apart, lose its moral bearings and suffer irreparable loss.
First, a father must cherish his family. This word means to hold dear in a tender and loving relationship. All his responsibilities must be carried out in the sphere of love. In Hosea 11:1-4, we see a picture of how Yahweh cherished his people. He taught them to walk by taking them by the hand, etc. Psalm 103:13 also liken God’s love for his people to a father’s love for his children.
The second verb for the father’s role is control which means to rule or command. The Lord gave this tribute to Abraham, “For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him …” (Gen. 18:19). This word “command” does not imply that Abraham acted like a dictator at home. Most probably Abraham ruled his household with loving counsel and correction. In the same way, the elders and deacons in the NT church must also rule their household well (1 Tim. 3:4; 12). Such rule entails both loving exhortation and firm correction.
Finally, a father must boldly claim his children for God. As fathers, we must be aware that the devil is waiting to devour our children the day they were born, just like what he tried to do to our Lord (Rev. 12:4). As such we should be vigilant and concern for our children’s spiritual welfare. We should trust God to bring our children into the kingdom of God.
As Christian fathers, let’s rededicate ourselves to these vital tasks and determine with God’s help, to cherish, control and claim our homes for the glory of God.
Rev. Mark Tay
Most of us were born into a family and cannot imagine what it is like to be adopted. Due to my wife’s occupation, I have personally met a few families who have adopted children. It still amazes me how much love these families have for them.
Aside from the emotional bond that join these families together, there is also a legal aspect to the act of adoption. When an adoption order is passed by our court, the child’s legal ties with his biological parents are severed and the adoptive parents assume all rights, obligations and responsibilities for the care of the child. The adopted child now stands in the same legal position as a child born to them in lawful wedlock.
This picture of adoption is exactly what we experience when we receive the Holy Spirit. He is the Spirit of Adoption that makes us sons, so that we can cry to the Lord God, “Abba! Father!” (Romans 8:15).
The Scriptures tell us that before we were adopted, we belonged to the family of the devil (1 John 3:10). We were outside of Christ’s family and were on our way to being cast out of God’s presence forever. In justification, God gives us a right legal standing before Him, so that we are no longer under His wrath.
In adoption, He goes beyond this and embraces us as members of His own family! What love indeed has the Father given to us, that we should be called children of God! (John 1:12; 1 John 3:1–2)
We can now enjoy the privileges of our adoption. It has allowed us to speak to God and relate to Him as a good and loving Father. When we pray for forgiveness of sins as children of God, we are relating to God not as a judge, but as a Father. It becomes a prayer to restore our fellowship with Him that may have been broken because of sin (1 John 1:9; 3:19–22).
With this knowledge of adoption in mind, we can move forward in life without fear. We do not need to be anxious about our circumstances, but remain at peace because our Father in heaven will take care of us.
We should also begin to see members of our church as family and love them as family. The church is a family and not a gathering of individuals seeking their own interests.
Dn. Mervin Lin
And was the Apostle Paul’s Experience on the road to Damascus an example of Irresistible Grace at work?
First question first. The standard principle in Reformed churches is: “by grace you have been saved through faith … it is the gift of God” (Eph 2:8). To paraphrase the Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary, this “gift” is the undeserved acceptance and love received from another. It refers to the undeserved favour of God in providing salvation for those deserving condemnation. In the more specific Christian sense, it speaks of the saving activity of God which is manifested in the gift of His Son to die in the place of sinners.
What about “irresistible”? Is Paul’s experience an example of this?
This is a bit more complicated. The views proffered by men, much more learned than I am, fall on both sides of the fence. I would be brief and simple here.
First, let’s be clear what “irresistible grace” means. It is sole supernatural work of the Holy Spirit in the salvation of sinners. Very simply put, it means that whatever God decrees to happen will inevitably come to pass, even in the salvation of individuals. The Holy Spirit will work in the lives of the elect so that they inevitably will come to faith in Christ.
This is what we see in Paul’s experience. He was an enemy of Christianity, an aggressive persecutor of Christians – a “chief” or “foremost” sinner in his own words (1 Tim 1:15). To him, the Christians were heretics, apostates who believed the resurrected Christ to be the long-promised Messiah and Saviour. Well, on that road, Paul saw and spoke with the resurrected Christ! In an instant, his whole point of view changed. He now knew that Jesus had come back to life and was his Master.
That grace was irresistible and it became an important part of his story. He told it to an angry crowd in Jerusalem (Acts 22:1- 21). He told it again when defending himself before King Agrippa and the Roman governor Festus (Acts 26:1-23). And he also wrote often about the importance of God’s calling for every Christian.
Each follower of Christ has a unique story of God’s calling, but essentially Christians have the same calling. As Paul wrote, God “saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began” (2 Tim 1:9).
Pastor Robert Chew
Time flies, and this Sunday we are having our ACM. Perhaps it is important to remind ourselves again why we are holding our ACM every year around this time.
Is our ACM a routine and boring exercise to hear financial reports in order to comply with the rules of the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority of Singapore (ACRA)?
However, we do more than that, we elect church leaders, review the church’s activities and ministries of past year, and set the directions for the year ahead.
So whenever I think about the ACM, I inevitably turn to Acts 6:1-7 where the early church held an ad hoc general assembly meeting.
The context of Acts 6:1-7 focuses on the election of the church’s first deacons which was triggered by the complaint of the Greek speaking Jews that their widows were being neglected in the matter of humanitarian aids. The apostles quickly sprang into action by calling for a general assembly and proposing a solution. The result of this gathering was very encouraging. What could we learn from this passage?
First, whenever we hold our ACM, we are declaring to the world our unity in Christ. The early church took the complaint seriously. This is because inherent in this complaint is the threat of division among God’s people: the Hellenistic Jews against the Hebraic Jews.
Similarly, when we come together for our ACM, let us make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace among our three congregations—Sembawang, Moriah English and Chinese (Eph. 4:3; Phil. 2:2). At the same time, let us be watchful not to allow anything to disrupt our unity in Christ (Phil. 2:3, 4).
Second, the proposal of the apostles reminded us that the ministry of the church is the business of every member not just that of a selected few. God has equipped us differently, each is gifted for a particular task. Every member should exercise his or her gifts. The apostles recognized that they themselves could not do all the work alone. They must focus on their “ministry of the word and prayer,” while other members must step up to serve, in this case, the destitute and widows.
Finally, when the early church functions properly and according to God’s blueprint, they increase in number and many priests became believers. The apostles were free from the mundane duties to preach the gospel thus resulting in the spread of God’s word and conversion of souls.
Let us therefore, keep these perspectives before us when we come to our ACM this Sunday.
Rev. Mark Tay
Paul states the importance of the resurrection of Jesus Christ in 1 Cor 15:16-17. If Christ had not risen from the dead, we have no evidence of God’s acceptance of the life and death of Jesus done on our behalf. There would be no justification for us and we would still be dead in our sins. However, the book of Acts clearly shows us that Jesus is alive and reigning through His disciples as they are empowered by His Spirit to be witnesses to His resurrection. Here are four significant observations about the resurrection in Acts.
A Qualification of an Apostle
We learn in Acts 1:21 that being a witness to Jesus Christ’s resurrection is a key qualification to become one of the Twelve Apostles. This is important because the resurrection was central to apostolic preaching (2:24, 32; 3:15; 5:30; 10:40; 13:30–37). Their witness was evidence that Jesus Christ did indeed rise from the dead, especially when most became martyrs for what they believed in.
2. The Fulfilment of Psalm 16:8–11 and 110:1
Both Peter (Acts 2:29–36) and Paul (13:34–37) preached that the resurrection of Jesus Christ was the fulfillment of Psalm 16:8–11. This was meant to show how the resurrection testifies to Jesus’ messiahship. It was not possible for David to have described himself in these Psalms as his tomb was still present during Peter’s time. Only Jesus can be described in these Psalms, as He alone resurrected from the dead and ascended to heaven.
3. Strongly Provoked the Sadducees
The continued preaching of the resurrection of Jesus by the Apostles caused the Sadducees to arrest them (Acts 4:1–2). The Sadducees denied that there is a resurrection or even an unseen spiritual realm (Acts 23:7–8). Similarly, there are people today who have contempt for such a belief and if they could, would silence the proclamation of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Just like the early church, we must pray for boldness to continue to speak God’s Word despite this kind of opposition.
4. Theological and Transformational
The faithful preaching of the resurrection also inspired the church to great heights of generosity (Acts 4:33). It is interesting that they did not even need to preach specifically about money or the sharing of possessions for the congregation to respond with a culture of self-giving in love. If we truly understand the significance of the resurrection and the great price that was paid for our sins, we too ought to respond with a heart of generosity and love towards others.
Dn. Mervin Lin