Volume. XXIII, No. 28
Sunday, 04 January 2009


Serving the LORD in Sincerity and in Truth


Introduction

Some 3500 years ago, the Israelites crossed the Jordan River and entered into the land filled with milk and honey that God had promised to their forefathers. As recorded in the twenty-fourth chapter of the book of Joshua, by this time the children of Israel had conquered the land and subdued most of their enemies who inhabited Canaan.

However, they had a new set of challenges they had to face which were spiritual in nature rather than physical. Having been under bondage for almost four hundred years in Egypt, most children of Israel must have been accustomed to coerced and involuntary obedience under harsh and relentless task masters and officers under the king who knew not Joseph (Ex 1:8). Israel needed to be taught how to serve the Lord and serve Him sincerely and in all manners truthful willingly from the heart. Yet, there is another spiritual problem that Israel faced. The children of Israel also had to unload their old “spiritual baggage” of idolatry, pagan practices and superstitions whether they were inherited from their forefathers “on the other side of the flood” (Josh 24:15c) or acquired during their bondage in Egypt.

The aforementioned spiritual ailments would plague Israel far more devastatingly spiritually in the long run than their unconquered physical enemies because these two factors are so fundamental in connection with their fitness and readiness for serving Jehovah God. This is why Joshua said to the Israelites: “Now therefore fear the LORD, and serve him in sincerity and in truth: and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the flood, and in Egypt; and serve ye the LORD.” (Josh 24:14) May we take heed of Joshua’s warning and make ourselves fit and ready to serve the Lord in this new year 2009. I shall briefly touch on a few points according to the above text, which is also going to be the annual theme of Hope BP church.

Serving the LORD with Reverential Fear

“Now therefore fear the LORD” (Josh 24:14a)

What does it mean to serve the LORD with reverential fear? To fear someone is a demeanour which recognizes someone as who he is and what he is according to the knowledge revealed or given. The Easton dictionary defines the fear of God as: “…a designation of true piety (Prov 1:7; Job 28:28; Ps 19:9). It is a fear conjoined with love and hope, and is therefore not a slavish dread, but rather filial reverence.

Infallibly God has given us His Holy and Inspired Word in the form of the 66 books of the canons which reveal to us who He is and what He is, whereby we can fear Him or honour and recognize Him as God and our Heavenly Father. This truth is crucial and fundamental as the foundation of meaningful Christian service.

If Abel had not feared God, he would not have offered “a more excellent sacrifice” (Heb.11:4) than his murderous brother Cain. If Noah had not feared Jehovah God, he would not have built the Ark in obedience (Heb. 11:7) despite of mockery and criticism for 120 years (Gen 6:3). If Abraham, the father of faith, had not feared Jehovah he would not have left the comfortable and highly civilized Ur of Chaldee to enter into an unknown land full of uncertainties and dangers (Heb. 11:8). If Moses had not feared God, he would not have challenged the mighty Pharaoh to become the deliverer of children of Israel (Heb. 11:24-29), and the list of men and women who feared God can go on and on!

All of the great and exemplary men and women of faith who became models of Christian service to subsequent generations have one thing in common – they feared the LORD. They all recognize Him as the Creator of All Things, the Sustainer and Preserver of all life, the most Wise and Sovereign potentate and the Saviour of All mankind who is worthy of their service and worship and absolute obedience! O, Christians so fear the LORD by recognizing who He is to prepare yourself for His service in this coming year!

Serving the LORD in Sincerity and in Truth (Josh 24:14b)

“…Serve Him in Sincerity and in Truth:”

What does it imply for God’s people to serve Him in sincerity and in truth? In the words of John Gills, he explains sincerity and in truth as: in the uprightness of their souls, without hypocrisy and deceit, and according to the truth of his word, and of his mind and will revealed in it, without any mixture of superstition and will worship, or of the commands and inventions of men”.

In Sincerity

If serving the Lord in sincerity means serving the Lord in the “uprightness of souls, without hypocrisy and deceit”, what would be the implications to our ministry and service for the Lord in our present day? Being upright as an individual is a consistent walk with God and a healthy relationship with him. It is illogical and impossible for a person to be upright if his relationship with his Creator is absent, temporarily broken or disrupted because of his or her unrepentant or unconfessed sins (1 Jn 2:4,5).

Being without hypocrisy and deceit in the service means that our ultimate purpose of service is to glorify God not self or any man, and our motive is to please our heavenly Master and not for eye-service (Eph 6:6). With such sincerity, Christians are called for service in every capacity, whether as a Session member, president of fellowship group, Sunday school superintendent or Sunday School teacher, Bible study group leader, worship leader, choir leader, pianist, musician, usher and various other ministries in the church.   

In Truth

If serving the Lord in truth means “according to the truth of his word, and of his mind and will revealed in it”, this should profoundly impact and even transform the way we serve the Lord in various capacities in God’s church; for, the principles, the guidelines, the philosophy and approach of our ministry and service should all be uncompromisingly founded upon the whole council of God, the 66 books of the divine and infallible Revelations.

In the world which is inundated with philosophies of man and cunning craftiness, Christians often adopted a pragmatic approach rather than a biblical “old-fashioned” approach when dealing with spiritual issues arising within Christendom. More of God’s people are interested in adopting methods and philosophies which simply work or produce “results” rather than centering their philosophies and methods on what is actually biblical and God-honoring. It is paramount to underpin the significance of founding the principles and philosophy of our ministry upon God’s divinely inspired Word.         

Serving the Lord with Undivided Loyalty (Josh 24:14c)

“:and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the flood, and in Egypt; and serve ye the LORD.”

Notice that the King James translators did not attempt to separate “serve Him in sincerity and in truth” and “and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the flood, and in Egypt; and serve ye the LORD”; rather, they join the two sentences with a colon which grammatically implies that further information or explanation of what precedes the colon is given after the colon. In other words, put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the flood, and in Egypt; and serve ye the LORD” is a further explanation to the command Serving the LORD in Sincerity and in Truth”.

The most challenging aspect of Christian service is to be serving the Lord with undivided loyalty. Man in his natural state of being is not able to serve the Lord, let alone serve Him with undivided ardour. Only by God’s divine electing and enabling grace, a man is made able again to serve the Lord by giving him “a heart of flesh” (Ezk 36:26) and a new nature and to be made willing to serve the LORD. In spite of this, the best of saints would still struggle within himself (Rom 7:15-18) with rendering undivided loyalty to God, simply due to the presence of their old sinful nature (Rom 7:19-23).

According to Adam Clark, the forefathers of Israelites might have worshipped the gods of the Chaldeans of fire, light; the sun of the Egyptians; the Apis, Anubis, the ape, serpents, vegetables of Canaanites and Baal-peor, Priapus, Astarte or Venus of Moabites and etc. Like the children of Israel, each of us has our old “spiritual baggage” whether one was once an Ancestor worshipper, a Taoist, a Roman Catholic, a Buddhist, a Hindu, a Muslim or even a New Age Mysticist. O, dear Christians! May we be rid of every bit and piece of cursed idol we used to worship and heathenistic objects and relinquish every pagan practice in our homes to ensure God’s blessing to shower upon us and our households. Trace not the footsteps of ignorant and spiritually dulled Rachel, one of Jacob’s wives, who hid an abominable idolatrous object secretly along their flight from her father Laban. Every ounce of our adoration and ardent desire must only channel to the One and Only Living and True Jehovah God. As the Holy Scripture instructs us (Ex 20:3-5; 1Cor 10:14; 1Jn 5:21; Lev 26:1; Ex 20:23, Ex 32:4, Ex 34:17; Deut 27:15; Hag 2:18), any such passion and religious fervor reserves for your former object of worship is no less a spiritual treason against our King of kings and arbitrary rebellion against the thrice Holy God.

It is true that idols are made of gold, silver, wood and stones that have no power in themselves to do harm or bring misfortunes to God’s people. Nevertheless, God forbid that we should ever tempt Him this way by throwing ourselves into the furnace of temptation and to expose ourselves to the dark and evil power which those cursed and lifeless objects symbolize. For the Scripture explicitly commands us to abstain from the appearance of evil (1Thess 4:12) and every form of idolatry (Ex 23:7; Isa 33:15; Matt 17:26-27; Rom 12:17; 1Cor 8:13, 1Cor 10:31-33; 2Cor 6:3, 2Cor 8:20-21; Phil 4:8). May the Lord help us as we commit ourselves this year to serving Him with undivided loyalty.

Conclusion

In the dawning of a new year, despite of the gloomy and unoptimistic economic outlook, I pray that God will bless each and every family abundantly and richly in every blessing in Christ, preserving your jobs, providing for all of your needs and keep your household safe and healthy both physically and spiritually. Yet, above all I pray that each head of the family of Hope church will rededicate their household to fearing Jehovah God. I pray that they will recognize Him for who He is, a faithful God and a King of heaven and a loving and blessed Saviour who is worthy of our wholehearted worship and unreserved love and adoration despite life’s uncertainties and unforseen circumstances ahead.  I pray that you will challenge your family to serve the Lord in sincerity and in truth with undivided loyalty until the day of His imminent coming.

Ps. David Weng  

 

 


More Lively Hope

 

Announcements

ANNOUNCEMENTS:

Kitchen Rosters - Team Leader: Sis Lydia Fan.

From today, Fellowship Lunch after Worship Service will be ‘communal’. Please bring 1-2 dishes for sharing. For last Sunday of the month, it will still be “Coffee and Cookies”.

Bro Barry Palm & Sister Juanita Tong wish to remind all those who have received invitations to their wedding reception in March to RSVP ASAP.

Service Roster for Jan-Mar quarter is available on the literature table in the foyer.

No choir practice until end of Jan 2009.

 

LOOKING AHEAD:

Sunday School Teachers’ Training Video on 18 & 25 Jan 2009, 7.30pm.

Family Bible Camp at Easter, 10-13 April 2009.

 

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 Selvanayagam, & Hans Ziegelmann; Mr Yeom. Grandpa Ki; Auntie Oei; Sisters Mabella Booth, Nita Chong, Annie D’Mello, Myung Ki, Alice Lee’s father, Fiona Paauwe; Margaret, Dianne, & Sarah Pearson; Aranka Rejtoe, Susan Veradi, Irena Kurek-Braden, Giok Yeo’s sister-in-law; & others in affliction.

Missions - Cambodia (Bro Richard Tee in  Phnom Penh); Pastors & believers in Pakistan & India; Kuching Ministry (Teo family).

Sketch n’ Tell Ministry - Pr H S Lim

Pastor Ki: future ministry & his family

Journey Mercies: Bro Richard Tee (Melb); Bro Ngie Joo Gong & family; Bro Len and Sis Margaret Pearson (Adl); Sisters Lydia Fan, Yvonne Kam & Pia Buey Yeo (Adl); Lai Kheng Cheong (KL), Gillian Ong (S’pore), Sis Sally Teng & family (KL/Sibu) & all others who are travelling.

Pastor Weng: ministry & family in Hope BPC; application for permanent residency in Australia.

Outreach to Mandarin speakers in Adelaide.

Job - Bro Cong Pham; Sisters Tabitha Heah & Judy Li.

BPCWA (Perth) - God’s guidance & wisdom.

Hopefuls & regular worshippers away during the summer vacation.

 

PRAISE & THANKSGIVING:

Journey mercies: Bro Colin Gan & family, Bro Winston & Sis Christabelle Selvanayagam, Bro Pee Yau & Sis Kim Tan,  Bro Wai Kin Wong & family (Adl); Bro Len and Sis Margaret Pearson (Pt Turton); Bros Lincoln Law (Tas) & You Wen Yeap (S’pore); Sisters Judy Li (Dalian), Gillian Ong (Melb), Clara Sim (S’pore) & all others who have arrived safely.

Church activities: E-Ministry; Joy & Maranatha; & Shorter Catechism Class.

Watch Night Service: brothers & sisters who came forward to give their praises & thanksgiving to God and their testimonies.

Missions in Kandal Province, Cambodia: Fruitful ministry & safe return of Bro Joseph Lo & Sis Wui Chieun Kew (S’pore).

Job in Melb: Bro Pee Yau Tan

 

 

 

© Hope Bible-Presbyterian Church
PO Box 398, Fullarton, Adelaide, South Australia 5063