Category: Church


Let us be one voice

On this day in history, on 9 July 1963, the leaders of Singapore, Malaya, North Borneo (now Sabah) and Sarawak signed the Malaysia Agreement to establish the Federation of Malaysia, which was formed shortly after on 16 September. However, less than 2 years later, on 9 August 1965, Singapore became a sovereign, independent nation. The rest, as they say, is history.

Today is Synod Sunday, and its purpose is to foster unity and encourage communication among the Presbyterian churches in Singapore. This year’s theme is on the unity of the church, looking at Jesus’ prayer for the church in Jn. 17:20-23, in line with our church and camp theme, “One in Christ,” from Eph. 4:1-16.

Indeed, unity on different fronts continues to be of utmost importance, be it on a national level, or a spiritual level, amongst churches as the body of Christ. Why is this so?

Firstly, it displays cohesiveness and solidarity. The people that form a group that are united reflect that sense of togetherness, agreement of feeling and action, common interests, and mutual support. Where a church is united, we would see leaders and members supporting and encouraging one another, there would be synergy in decision-making, as well as a deep sense of community and relationships.

Secondly, it shows focus, direction and purpose. A group that is united would be seen to move as one towards a common goal, to fulfill its vision and mission, and to have wisdom and foresight towards the future for themselves and others. As a church, this would mean being clear of our God-given role and to pursue passionately all of God’s plans. Leaders would seek and serve God’s will for the church and beyond.

Lastly, it reflects the values and nature of the group, namely what it stands for, and what sustains it. In the church, our common identity stems from the person and work of Jesus Christ, where we seek to be united in, through and for Him. It also is a reminder that disunity can cause disrepute and disrespect, particularly if a church is divided, it often stumbles and hurts not only its own members, but affects how the world looks at us as Christians.

May we as a church always pray for and strive towards unity in Christ, as Paul prays in Rom. 15.5-6,

May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Beauty for ashes

This week, our church sermon passage is on Daniel and the topic of ashes and repentance. In this season of Lent, it is indeed appropriate to reflect on what Christ has done on the cross, the costly grace and salvation that came at the price of our Saviour’s own life for the sins of the world. How often do we take for granted and let slip to the corners of our minds our wretched and sinful state, before we were led to repent of our sins and acknowledge Jesus Christ as our Lord?

Yet as much as we should not shortcut the process of salvation, and belittle the value and place of godly mourning, sorrow, and repentance, God’s word in Isaiah 61.1-3 proclaims,

The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me,
because the LORD has anointed me
to preach good news to the poor …
to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favour …
to comfort all who mourn,
and provide for those who grieve in Zion –
to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness
instead of a spirit of despair.

True repentance and Spirit-led life-change leads to a lifetime of beauty and everlasting joy (Isa. 61:7). God is in the business of touching and transforming lives, to bestow comfort for mourning, beauty for ashes, and gladness for despair. That is the true and amazing power and hope we have in the gospel message – while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us (Rom. 5:8). Have you experienced God’s saving grace and salvation in your life? Consider what Christ has done for you and I. Is there a loved one or friend in your life that has yet to come to know the Lord? May God equip and grant you His favour to proclaim His good news, and be an agent of hope and reconciliation for the Lord. May one and all come to experience Christ and be blessed with beauty for ashes this Easter weekend!

http://orpc.sg/happenings/sermons/rejected-hopeful

On this day in 1938, Adolf Hitler, the leader of the Nazi Party, delivered a much-anticipated speech in Berlin. This was the beginning of the expansion of the Nazi regime, which later resulted in World War II (1939-1945). His regime was totalitarian and fascist in nature, and he strived to fulfill the message that “his” race were superior, leading campaigns to eliminate various racial, religious, and political groups including Jews, Africans, Romanis (Gypsies), Lutherans, and anti-communists, marked by dark periods of mass genocide such as the Holocaust.

Much of the book of Romans focuses on the nation of Israel as God’s special people. Throughout history, Israel and the Jewish people have been at the forefront of attention and news, especially in American politics and the many wars, insurgencies and tensions in the Middle East region. There is no doubt that there is something special about the Jewish people. Over 22% of all Nobel Prize winners since 1901 have been Jewish or people of Jewish descent (who comprise less than 0.2% of the world’s population, or 1 in every 500 people). Jews are also among the top genetic researchers in the world, and make up 20% of America’s chief executives and 22% of Ivy League students.

The Reformed tradition often teaches that because Israel had turned away in unbelief and rejected God, the church or body of Christ has now replaced it as God’s chosen people until the fulfillment of the end of the age.

Whichever camp you may belong to or support, whether you are German, Jewish, or a Christian, God’s word teaches us that all of mankind is created in the image of God (Gen. 1:26-27) and that God wants all people to be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth and repentance (1 Tim. 2:4; 2 Pet. 3:9). How often do we pray for the world or the lost, or even for Israel? May God grow a burden and burning desire in our hearts and lives to see souls won and turned to Christ, and for the gospel to be shared and spread across the nations before the return of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, to whom will be all glory forever!

For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile – the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on Him, for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” (Rom. 10:12-13)

Credit: Bil Keane

As the world braces itself for yet another Christmas weekend, we are constantly bombarded by media advertisements, shop and brand campaigns, shopping mall events, all capitalising on this special festive season. Pretty lights, decorated streets and malls, secular Christmas songs, gift shopping and giving, the glitz and the glitter encapsulates the consumerism that has shrouded the true meaning of Christmas, often even in the hearts of Christians?

Do the simple gospel truths and good news of the baby Jesus born to save the world still continue to capture our hearts each Christmas? Or do we slowly begin to see the gospel grow smaller and smaller in our hearts each year, especially if we have been Christians for a long time? As John Piper writes, “Seek to see and feel the gospel as bigger as years go by rather than smaller.”

How can the gospel get bigger in our hearts? When grace gets bigger; when Christ gets greater; when His death gets more wonderful; when His resurrection gets more astonishing; when the work of the Spirit gets mightier; when the power of the gospel gets more pervasive; when its global extent gets wider; when our own sin gets uglier; when the devil gets more evil; when the gospel’s roots in eternity go deeper; when its connections with everything in the Bible and in the world get stronger; and when the magnitude of its celebration in eternity gets louder.

As the last week of Advent begins, let us remember the words of 1 John 4:10, “This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” May we experience God’s love anew this Christmas, and with the love we receive from Him, let us pray for opportunities to love the world and the lost, that they may come to know His love through the Lord Jesus Christ. May God teach us to love as He loves, and may the gospel message ring clearly in and through our lives, to the praise and glory of God the Father!

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