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https://orpc.sg/happenings/sermons/watchnightthe-faith-fight-and-finish

Sermon slides & reflection questions here.

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Just last week, our Young Adults spent 4 days at a serene and simple retreat centre in Malacca. God blessed our time together, being challenged and encouraged by God’s Word and Spirit through the speaker, the retreat activities planned by the organizing committee, and the many good opportunities for reflection, deep sharing, prayer and fellowship. At the same time, we were mindful to prevent this from simply ending up as a “mountaintop experience.” Rather, we hope that what we learnt, shared and committed to would continue on into our daily lives beyond the retreat.

One of the precious lessons we learnt and were reminded of was the sharing of life stories or “narratives” with one another, in the context of a safe and loving spiritual community. Paul writes about this to the church in Thessalonica, “We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well, because you had become so dear to us.” (1 Thes. 2:8)

Are we sometimes guilty of focusing so much on the Word and teaching ministries (which is something we should be thankful for and continue in), but yet we do not go beyond that to sharing our lives with one another? As the old saying goes, “People don’t care how much you know, unless they know how much you care.” Paul understood this; Jesus modelled this, sharing his life and ministry with his disciples for 3 years. Mark 3:14 records, “He appointed twelve … that they might be with Him and that He might send them out …” Even the Sanhedrin council (of rulers, elders and teachers of the law) recognized this, “When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.” (Acts 4:13)

There is something valuable about sharing life together, when two or more people spend quality time in deep and meaningful spiritual and life conversations. Perhaps the greatest challenge is the precious commodity of time, as well as the increasingly fast-paced, multi-stimulus, high-stress environments most of us are accustomed to. As the year comes to an end, and we reflect and give thanks for what God has done in the past year, may it be our prayer to develop spiritual friendships, to have opportunities to share life on life, and allow God to work in, through and among us, to reflect Christ for His glory, “for where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them.” (Matt. 18:20)

Famine of the Word

As we end our sermon series on the book of Amos, there is a sobering warning in 8:11-12, “The days are coming, declares the Sovereign LORD, when I will send a famine through the land – not a famine of food or a thirst for water, but a famine of hearing the words of the LORD. Men will stagger … searching for the word of the LORD, but they will not find it.” Many scholars believe this to be a dual prophecy, meaning that it applied both to the impending judgment of national Israel for their sins during the time of Amos and other prophets, but also foretelling a probable future judgment on the modern church.

Considering the proliferation of Bibles into hundreds of languages today – it remains the world’s most translated, best selling and most freely given book – this warning in Amos is surprising. What exactly would this “famine of the word” be like? Firstly, v.11 indicates that it would be a famine of hearing God’s word. This could indicate a future time where the preaching and teaching of God’s word is scarce, or as many NT writers warn, false prophets and teachings will abound, so much so that it would be challenging to discern the truth of God’s word.

Secondly, v.12 suggests that people will seek and search for God’s word but not find it, perhaps meaning a time where even access to God’s word will be limited or rare. In this modern age of high-speed and widespread Internet access and Bible apps, it seems almost impossible to imagine not being able to find God’s word in some form, whether physical or virtual. Throughout history, there have been fierce attempts to eradicate God’s word, such as during the persecution of the early church, the start of the Protestant Reformation, and more recently during the two World Wars. In several countries today where persecution of Christians is still rampant, owning and distributing Bibles are often met with strong opposition and punishments.

Do we often take for granted God’s Word in our lives? Perhaps you own more than one unread Bible yourself, or we do not stop to think when browsing our Bible apps where several versions are available at the touch of a finger. Scripture memory has become archaic and a lost art, especially amongst younger generations of believers. Isa. 55:6 exhorts us, “Seek the LORD while He may be found; call on Him while He is near.” Let us grow to cherish and treasure God’s word, and do all we can to learn and understand it so that we may come to know Christ and grow in our relationship with Christ.

Are we involved in the spreading and teaching of God’s word to others, be it in our churches or amongst mission fields (both local and abroad) where God places or sends us? Paul explains “… how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? … Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ” (Rom. 10:14, 17). May the urgency of the gospel and the love of Christ compel us, as individuals and as a church, to share the good news of God’s grace and to disciple believers towards spiritual maturity and likeness of Christ, to the praise of His glory.

Replacing our parental tendencies

Tim Elmore wrote an excellent post on FB on common parental behaviours we must replace. Here is a summary.

  1. Motivation – Replace FEAR with WISDOM
  2. Evaluation – Replace focus on GRADES with a focus on GROWTH
  3. Schedules – Replace CLUTTER with SIMPLICITY
  4. Identity – Replace UNCONTROLLABLES with CONTROLLABLES
  5. Feedback – Replace emphasizing BEHAVIOUR with emphasizing BELIEF

Read the full article here.

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