Volume. XXIII, No. 21
Sunday, 16 November 2008


A Prayer for the Conversion of Heathens (Ps 67)


Introduction

Since it is the will of our Lord to go evangelizing to all nations and make them disciples of Christ, it is also paramount for every Christian to pray for the conversion of heathens ranging from nearby towns to afar off lands. Yet, how shall we go about praying in a biblical and God pleasing fashion? Under the divine inspiration of God, the Psalmist has given us some profound insights and guidelines regarding a ‘mission emphasis’ prayer. As Rev. Matthew Henry observed and echoes, “[Psalm 67 is] A prayer for the conversion of the Gentiles and the bringing of them into the church.” And when a church as a whole prays for the conversion of heathens and takes an active role in the missions work, this enables the church to become a channel of blessing, as God’s blessings would flow in and through the church which actively engages in the missions endeavour. Yet, before a church can become a source of blessing, she must pray that she would be worthy to become a church which actively engages in the missions endeavour ; and it all starts from prayer – a prayer to request God to bless the church!

The Request for Blessing (v. 1)

Before an individual or a church may be blessed by God, a humble and soul searching praying must be made to plead to God for mercy upon them. The Psalmist utters with an opening request in his prayer in humility pleading for God’s mercy crying: “God be merciful unto us, and bless us; and cause his face to shine upon us; Selah.” (v.1). It is interesting to note that this phrase comes from the Aaronic blessing in Numbers 6:24-26, where the High Priest of Israel, Aaron, would pronounce the blessing upon the people by pleading for God to be merciful unto the people of Israel.  The Psalmist knew that mercy is also precondition for obtaining God’s blessing for the New Testament church. One may need more mercy than another, but every believer needs mercy, so as a church as a whole she could expect God’s blessings to shower upon her. The prince of preachers, Charles Spurgeon, comments, “The best saints and the worst sinners may unite in this petition.

A church of God needs to be ready to receive God’s blessing in order to be a channel of blessing. However, this does NOT make mean we endorse “prosperity theology” or “name it and claim it’ kinds of arbitrary and man-centred ‘prayers. Rather, one must pray a God-centred and God honouring prayer for blessing. Then, what is a God centred and God honouring prayer for blessing? The Psalmist says, “cause his face to shine upon us”. What is the implication of having God’s face to shine upon us (v.1b)? This means that God would look down upon His people with pleasure and delight rather than wrath and anger. Since no man is able to please God without having faith in His only begotten Son (Heb 11:6), a natural man must come to Him in Faith and a born again Christian must also continue to walk in faith in Jesus Christ. When this happens, a church would be blessed beyond all measure, for there is no greater source of peace and power in life to have God’s face to shine upon His Elect! Spurgeon says, “Why should he fret when God smiles? What matters though all the world should censure, if Jehovah countenances his servant. A look of approval from God creates a deep, delightful calm within the soul.” In other words, only when God’s church is blessed before God, can the church be a channel of blessing to people in the regions near and far and beyond. The word Selah (v.1c), of course, is just a pause or musical notation with no real meaning in the word itself. Most commentators believe it speaks of a reflective pause, a pause to meditate on the words just spoken, thus need not to be read out loud. However, this pause should stir one to think about the greatness of God’s mercy, God’s blessing, and the approval of God’s shining face upon a believer.

The Motive for Asking God’s Blessing (v. 2)

Why ask God to bless us? We mentioned briefly the motive for a church to request blessing, which should not be a man-centred or selfish one. Then, what should be the true motive behind for asking God for blessing? The proper motive is given in verse 2 where the Psalmist says, “that thy way may be known upon earth…” (v.2a). The ‘way’ refers to the Truth, the Word or the Glorious Gospel of Jesus Christ. For God’s truth to be known upon the earth, the gospel is to be carried and spread to people in the near and far regions through local outreaches to different ethnic-lingual groups or missionary endeavours.

In other words, asking God to “bless us” (v.1a) and cause His face “to shine upon us” is, in fact, a plea to God to make us worthy instruments to carry out the gospel to all nations as the Psalmist says “thy saving health among all nations” (v.2b). Inevitably, this should remind us of the Great Commission passage in Matthew 28:19-20 which says, Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.” God wants us to have the same heart and the same vision – for all the earth! Obviously, our LORD did not only charge us ONLY to evangelize and save souls, but also commanded us to make disciples of all the nations, and to teach them to observe all things that He has commanded us. Nevertheless, discipleship training should begin from each individual born again Christian. Before one can disciple another, he must first study God’s Word daily and walk in His way as salt and light in the world.

A Prayer to God for all Peoples (v. 3)

Salvation is of the Lord as the Word of God so clearly teaches (Jonah 2:9; Ps 3:8; Ps 37:39-40, Ps 68:20; Is 45:17; Jn 4:22; Act 4:12; Rev7:10). However, it is equally clear that we are to pray for the salvation of all people on the earth (Deut 32:43; Is 24:14-16, Is 42:10-12, Is 54:1; Rom 15:10-11; Gal 4:27). And here the psalmist says, “Let the people praise thee, O God; let all the people praise thee.” (v.3) Obviously, it is a sincere cry of the psalmist that many heathens from all nations may be converted and added into the kingdom of God. Why pray for all people, some would argue, if God has already chosen only some to be saved before the foundation of the world? Because in God’s Revealed Will, He desires that none should perish but all come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9; Mt 28:18-20), yet in His Secret Will he has foreordained a certain number of people only known to Him (Deut 29:29b) from all nations, tribes, peoples and tongues to praise Him before His throne (Revelation 7:9).

Thus, it is important for a Christian to pray for all people or every ethic-lingual group and to cultivate a burden for lost souls and a passion for missions work whether it be Cambodia, Thailand, China, Japan, Korea, Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam, UK, Canada or any other region in the world.

A Joyful Anticipation of the Kingdom of God (vv. 4,5)

 What should a Christian anticipate when he prays for the conversion of the heathens? The psalmist says, “O let the nations be glad and sing for joy” (v.4a). A Christian should eagerly anticipate for the soon return of their LORD who would “...judge the people righteously, and govern the nations upon earth” (v.4b). Jesus, the King of kings and Lord of lords, the Prince of Peace is coming back to judge and govern the earth (Rev 19,20) as the Holy and Righteous King! Such anticipation should make every Christian even more excited about bringing the gospel to all nations! God forbid that any of His church would become less passionate about evangelism and for missions endeavours because of His soon return in a passive and pessimistic manner! On the contrary, Christ’s soon return should incite God’s people to be more passionate and zealous in sharing the Word to the lost and dying in sins.

Verse 5 may seems like a redundant repetition of verse 3; yet, it should be noted that this highlights the importance of the idea of calling all the people to Him by actively engaging in the evangelism and mission work as a church in order to fulfil the great commission of Jesus Christ! Spurgeon says, “These words are no vain repetition, but are a chorus worthy to be sung again and again”’

The Answer to this Prayer (vv. 6,7)

The last two verses conclude the prayer of the Psalmist as it also looks into the future when Christ would rule as the King over all the earth. When the earth knows God’s way and His salvation, then she will yield her increase (v.6a). What is the increase of the earth? The increase speaks of the fruit that would come forth out of the multitude of believers from every tongue and kindred in the form of praises as they all worship and fear Him (v.7b).

There is a tremendous blessing for a church whose vision is the conversion of heathens and actively involve in the local or foreign missions endeavour. For when a church shares God’s heart and vision for the world to evangelizing the lost, the church will be greatly blessed, for the Psalmist says, “even our own God, shall bless us” (v.6b). But in order for a church to be blessed, a church must go out to fulfil the great commission and pray for the conversion of the lost and get involved in the mission work. When a church involves in the mission work, it aligns the church with the heart of God (Mt 28:19,20) and the church is blessed even more, so she can use that blessing to be involved in more missions work.

Conclusion:

Have we, as Christ’s disciples, ceased to trust that God blesses when we obey and fulfil God’s commandment in the Great Commission? Have we, as God’s church, ceased to seek to extend that blessing to all the earth and pray that all may come to know Him? When all the earth shall praise Him or yield fruit, we render glory to God because all the ends of the earth will fear Him (v.7b), culminating when our Lord returns to rule the earth physically on earth when all the nations worship, praise and fear Him from every tongue and kindred. Yet, at present, the church must proclaim the gospel to the spiritually lost and dying by making both local and foreign missions as our Great Commission. May we never neglect such privilege, duty and responsibility as preachers of God’s glorious gospel (Rom 10:14)!

Ps. David Weng

 

 

 

 

 


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Announcements

Announcements

Kitchen Rosters - Team Leader: Sis Tabitha Heah

Helpers required for transport and food for the Senior Citizens’ Fellowship. Please see Sis Peng Ha if able to help.

Creation & Evolution Seminar DVD on 17 Oct 2008 - please put your name on the sheet on the notice board if you want a copy.

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Looking Ahead

2008 BPNYC will be held 1-5 Dec 2008 (Melb)

Christmas Day Worship Service, Thurs 25 Dec at 10:00am

Watch Night Service, Wed 31 Dec at 7:30 pm

 

Praise & Thanksgiving

Journey mercies: Ps Ki (S Korea); Bros Joseph Selvanayagam (New Orleans/Adl), & Jason Tan (S’pore); Sisters Suzane Lim (Melb), Connie Mak (Whyalla/Adl), Gillian Ong (Adl), Vanessa Tan (Syd), Purdee Yeo (KL) & Serene Wong (Spore/Vietnam); & all those who arrived in safety.

Church activities: Shorter Catechism Class; BSAG, Joy & Maranatha; E-Ministry; Ladies’ Fellowship Share & Prayer; Sunday School Teachers’ Training; & YAF Bible Study.

 

Prayer Items

Health & God’s healing -Rev George & Sis Nan van Buuren; Rev John & Mrs Christine McKenzie; Rev Peter Chua, Rev Peter Clements,  Rev Stephen Khoo, Rev Timothy Tow, Dr S H Tow, Preacher Zhang, Dn Yaw Chiew Tan; Bros Tommy Brooks, Yew Shing Chan, Colin Creaser, S Dhamarlingam, Makoto Kobayashi, Raphael Ng’s father, Richard Pearson, Winston Selvanayagan, Mr Yeom, Hans Ziegelmann; Grandpa Ki; Sisters Mabela Booth, Annie D’Mello, Myung Ki, Alice Lee’s father, Auntie Oei, Fiona Paauwe; Margaret, Dianne, & Sarah Pearson, Aranka Rejtoe, Catherine Teng, Susan Veradi, Irena, Giok Yeo’s sister-in-law; & others who are having chemotherapy & radiotherapy and those in affliction.

Missions - Cambodia (Rev David Koo & Life University, Sihanoukville); Kuching (Teo Family); Laos, India & Pakistan (Pastor & Believers)

Sketch n’ Tell Ministry - Pr H S Lim

Pastor Ki: Preaching ministry in S Korea.

Pastor Weng: ministry in Hope BPC.

Session Meeting: God’s guidance & wisdom.

Outreach to Mandarin speakers. Pray for a Mandarin-speaking brother to help in this outreach.

Journey mercies: Sisters Suzane Lim & Vanessa Tan (Adl)

Working in KL: Sis Purdee Yeo - for safety.

Job - Bro Cong Pham & Sis Tabitha Heah

Ebenezer BPC (Melb) - Cambodia Missions & Melb Evangelism.

2008 BP National Youth Camp: speaker, organisers & participants.

University & high school students - assignments & end-of-year exams.

 

 

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