Dearly Beloved, Today we celebrate Moriah’s 13th Anniversary, and with great joy we give God Almighty all the glory, praise, and honor due unto His Holy name. As we celebrate, let us not forget and refresh ourselves with His original intentions for us in becoming a church. We must continue to be the Church of God that He wants every church to be. You may wonder what I mean by it. Every one has their own opinion of what constitutes a Church or what a Church should be like. While most people identify the word "Church" with a denomination, others consider it to be a building, an organ and a cross. However, the most important thing to remember is that a Church is about the people of God, the believers. When Jesus told His disciples in Matthew 16 that He would build His "Church" He certainly did not mean a building or organization but rather he meant the invisible Church referring to the group of people which He will redeem from sin through His sacrificial death. The real Church is the ‘the people of God’ and the real work of the Church must be done in the lives of the people. Only then, we’ll think of Christianity in-terms of a relationship with God and not a religion, and when we think of a Church we will think of the kingdom of God and not a denomination or structure.
The Greek word for Church, Ekklesia, literally means "called out people or summoned, assembled with a purpose." Yes, dearly beloved, not only has God saved us individually and called us out of darkness to marvelous light to be His people, but God also calls and commands all redeemed to be a part of a local Church. We are the ‘called out people’ with the purpose of fulfilling His mission and plan as prescribed in scriptures. It is important that we give ourselves wholeheartedly as one body, for the cause of Christ and His kingdom. The best example of a good Church is the early church of Jerusalem. We are told they devoted themselves to specific and certain acts of worship: “...they continued steadfastly in the apostle’s doctrine and fellowship and in breaking of bread and in prayers.” (Acts 2:42)
Firstly, they continued steadfastly in the "The Apostles' doctrine." One can hardly over-emphasize the importance of sound, biblical teaching. Biblical teaching is the bedrock of edification and it leads one to maturity. The Word of God is the foundation and starting point for every aspect of the Christian life. They recognized the apostles' teaching as the only source of authority in all matters of faith and conduct. In these last days where heresies, false teachings and erroneous theologies are not only rampant but intrusive, we must continue to be a Bible-believing, conservative and reformed Church. In an age of much emotion based worship, and feel good theologies we must continue with our emphasis on proclaiming God’s truth faithfully and keep His church pure from false doctrines and practices. The Church today should continue to dedicate to keeping the apostles’ teaching as they were during the early Church days.
Secondly, they continued steadfastly in fellowship - The Greek word for "fellowship" is "koinonia." They prayed together, they ate together, they shared their possessions with those in need, and they worshipped together. Today we often reduce fellowship to being friendly with one another. But "koinonia" involves loving, caring, sharing fellowship – in one word, it is love. To some, fellowship is like a jar full of marbles. The marbles are in the same jar but there is little togetherness or impact. Our fellowship must be like that of a jar of ripe grapes that bleed on one another. Fellowship should allow our faith to rub off on one another and must spur us towards good works unto the Lord. Our vertical relationship and fellowship with Christ must be exemplified in our horizontal fellowship with others. We thank God for granting Moriah formal fellowship groups to cater to all ages. For the young, we have the Teen, Youth and Young Adults fellowship groups and for the adults we have the Home Care Groups. Join one of these groups and with like-minded brethren, study God’s word, share our struggles, sorrows, and joy and pray for one another. Are you part of any fellowship Group at Moriah yet?
Thirdly, we learn from Acts 2:42 and 20:7 that the Church came together every first day of the week to partake of the Lord's Supper. The Lord intends the communion for a purpose; that the Church can be and will remain strong, by keeping its eyes fixed upon Jesus. This memorial feast would keep their hearts and minds centred on Christ.
Fourthly, the early church gave steadfast attention to prayer. Jesus had taught them, "that men ought always to pray, and not to faint." They recognized their weakness, and they recognized the unlimited power of God, therefore they prayed continually. They believed in prayer. It was not the last resort, but it was the top priority. Prayer stimulates personal growth, and to neglect it, is to distance ourselves from God. Living in deceitful times where self sufficiency and self reliance are the power words, I can understand why many have forgone corporate prayer meetings. Paul also challenges us to “Pray without ceasing” (1 Thess 5:17) and also to bear and lift each other’s burdens in prayers. May I urge you to make a commitment to devote more time to pray for our Church, the leaders, members and ministry.
The true Church of Christ will follow the early Church’s pattern which is repeated throughout the New Testament. We thank God, that by God’s help and His grace we have been faithful in our worship and ministries of the Church. However, when compared to the early Church, there is much room for improvement in our devotion. The early Church devoted themselves wholeheartedly to the four acts of worship mentioned above, and their lives reflected that devotion. People saw the risen Christ in their relationships with one another, in their cooperation, in the way they cared for each other, in their worship, in their study and in their giving. How devoted are we in obeying Christ commandments and upholding His whole truth?
For the glory of God, may God help us and our Church to have the same devotion towards Christ as the early Jerusalem Church. On our 13th Anniversary, we look back with praise and thankfulness for all of God’s blessings, but we also look forward to do our all with steadfast diligence. Living for Jesus Christ’s Glory and following him closely by doing our part for God at Moriah Church. On behalf of the Sembawang/Moriah Session Members, I wish you all a blessed and joyous 13th Anniversary.
A co-worker in His vineyard at Moriah, Pastor Mathews Abraham