Volume. XXVIII, No. 35
Sunday, 02 March 2014


The Church We Want


We all know that the church is not a building or a place but it is a congregation of Christians that have come together to worship the Triune God and to fellowship with one another in a manner that glorifies God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

It is also a given that we all want to be in a church that is true to God's Word, prayerful, loving, warm, caring, supporting, encouraging, hospitable, lively and interesting, relevant and growing.

Like a child on a car journey with his parents, I ask the "age-old question" every child does when he's tired of the long journey, "Are we there yet?"

If we believe we have already arrived, then we need to remember Christ's words in Revelation: 2 and 3 to the churches in Ephesus, Sardis and Laodicea.  We do have to continuously examine ourselves so that we do not find that we have lost our love for God, substituted the compassionate principles of God with legalism and become complacent.  If we truthfully examine ourselves, we will know that we have not yet arrived.

Yet God has been good to our church for we continue to have a place to worship freely, we continue to be Bible-believing, we have many God-fearing and God-loving role models in the church (both who are still with us and those whom God has called into His glorious presence), we continue to do the work of God, we continue to be taught by faithful teachers and God continues to add to our church.  For these things we can and should praise our God Who loves and cares for us, and be encouraged that He is still with us.

But, if fewer and fewer numbers attend Bible study groups, fellowship groups, and prayer meetings, then the evidence of our love for God and His Word speaks for itself.  We know that when we are really interested in something (a relationship, a new hobby, a new movie, etc.) it shows itself to people around us; we can't stop talking about the subject, or going out with the person or to the places we have interest in.  What about God and His Word?

Some of us might find church, Bible studies and/or prayer meetings dry and a struggle to attend.  Yet, in the early church, the thirst for God's Word was so intense that Acts 20:7-8 tells us the Philippian Christians stayed up all night to listen to the Word being expounded by the Apostle Paul.  I would like to focus on two possible underlying reasons that make us rue attending church, Bible studies and/or prayer meetings – namely, we find such activities are done in a manner that does not make it worth our while to attend, or our heart is not really seeking the Lord.  In either case, if we do nothing, the situation deteriorates and one day we will find ourselves and/or our loved ones drifting away from God.

Now, the type of church we aspire to be depends on every one of us in the church.  It is not just dependent on the pastors, the leaders, or a few dedicated members, but on every one - every member of the Body of Christ.  There is no role or responsibility or duty or good work that is too small to glorify God.  God has told us, "And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ." (Colossians 3:23-24).

So, if we want to make our church activities more worthwhile to attend, then it takes the church to make it so.  We need to help by contributing with our feedback and suggestions on how things can be improved, and even taking the step to become involved in making it happen.  We all enjoy attending interesting and fun activities, but sometimes we just depend on a few dedicated people year-in and year-out to organise them.  Spare a thought for these dedicated few for they can be overloaded, they can suffer burn-outs, they can be hard-pressed to always come out with new ideas or ways to organise church activities. Eventually, we might even be the cause for them to cease serving the Lord altogether.  They do need a break or a change, but they soldier on if no one comes to replace them until they no longer can.

The saying goes that “many hands make light work,” and would it not be better if certain roles, duties and responsibilities could be taken in turn by different people across the church; whether serving on the various committees, organising special events like the church Camp or Christmas Concert, etc.?  This is in line with the Biblical principle of every member having a function within the Body of Christ.  We are all stewards of what God has given us - “As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.” (1 Peter 4:10)  All of us will have to give an account of our stewardship before Him one day.  What will we say then?

The issue of a heart that is not really seeking the Lord, is not so easily addressed, especially by man.  This is something that a person must consider within himself and with God.  However, it is possible that as we get involved in the church, we might find encouragement to seek the Lord through participation with other Christians. The Bible reminds us, “Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour. For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up.” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10).  Christians can encourage each other through a listening ear, praying for one another, sharing of experiences in faith, and so on.

We all know that it is not possible to love someone, or to be warm and caring for others when we do not know them personally. There are many ways to get to know other people better in the church, but like Christian living, the challenge is to put it into practice.  I have some suggestions for our consideration.

Try to get to know someone new (or not so familiar) during fellowship meals.  Better yet, invite them for a meal or visit them with a snack.  Meals are a great opportunity to socialise and get to know fellow Christians better.  If you are like me and it takes effort to get to know people, why not team up with someone you are comfortable with (remember Ecclesiastes 4:9-10). When we do this, we are also encouraging one another to do likewise. Remember that getting to know people within the church is not the sole responsibility of pastors or church leaders alone, but for all Christians. Hebrews 10:25 tells us not to forsake the assembling of ourselves together.  Yes, it is commonly taken to refer to church worship, but it also includes fellowshipping together as Christians in our homes.  Christ Himself set us an example to follow, often visiting people in their homes, where He listened to them, ate with them, and generally met their needs (Mark 1:29-34; 5:35-43; Luke 19:5-10).

Consider our attitude towards others.  If we only think of ourselves first, then it will be difficult to get to know others, and others may not want to know us.  When we consider others first, we emulate Christ’s example of servanthood. “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who…made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.” (Philippians 2:5-8 - emphasis added). Also, “After that he poureth water into a bason, and began to wash the disciples' feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded…So after he had washed their feet, and had taken his garments, and was set down again, he said unto them, Know ye what I have done to you?  Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am.  If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another's feet.  For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you.” (John 13:5, 12-15 – emphasis added). Our servanthood can be put into practice in many ways, like giving way to others first during fellowship meals (especially to the seniors and mothers who have children to feed), or helping out with clearing up after meals (instead of leaving it up to the same people to clear up), or helping to keep the place we use as clean and tidy as we found it (or cleaner and tidier), or volunteering when there is a need (such as Working Bee), or serving in a ministry (so that the load is spread among many rather than just a few).

Please do not jump to the wrong conclusion here.  I do not write this as one who has attained, but as one that is learning even while writing.  Neither is it intended to coerce anyone into doing something that the person is not willing to do, but it is something to consider when examining the state of our spiritual lives before God.  Ye shall know them by their fruits.  Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?” (Matthew 7:16). May God bless our church with spiritual growth in servanthood.

Deacon Colin Gan

 


More Lively Hope

 

Announcements

*Kitchen Roster Leader: Today: Bro Boong Atijatuporn. Next Lord’s Day: Dn Colin Gan.

*Hope Bookstore: Open today: 12:30 - 1:45 pm.

*New Basic Bible Knowledge Class commences today. Location: Extended sanctuary.

*All worshippers are encouraged  to join Bible Study & Fellowship groups.

*Combined Sparks4Christ-YAF Activity: please assemble at church premises before 11 am.

 

Praise & Thanksgiving 

1. Journey mercies: Rev Edward & Sis Lehia Paauwe (Darwin/Adl); Bro Jason & Sis Tabitha Tan (Adl/S’pore); Bros Raymond Ang (Adl/Pinnaroo), Eric Lai (Adl) & Raphael Ng (Waikerie/Adl); Sisters Nichole & Ashley Chia, Daphne Lai, Joelle Lam, Evelyn Ow (Adl), Sophine Bai, Mavis Wong (S’pore), Susan Weng’s mother (Bintang); others who have arrived safely at their destinations. 

2. Church activities in the past week.

3. YAF Welcome Night for new students on Friday.

4. God’s guidance & protection - those who distribute Invites on Monday on North Tce.

5. God’s daily mercy, guidance & blessings.

6. Visitors & new worshippers.

 

Prayer Items 

1. Health & God’s healing - Dr Gary Cohen (USA), Dr SH Tow (S’pore); Rev Edward & Sis Lehia Paauwe; Rev George van Buuren; Grandpa Ki (S’pore); Bro Colin & Sis Kathleen Creaser; Bro Len & Sis Margaret Pearson; Preacher Zhang (Sihanoukville); Bros Surish Dharmalingam (Laos), Elton Law & Kang Fun Tan (Sis Felicia’s father - S’pore); Sisters Lai Kheng Chiong (KL), Margaret Hooper, Grace Gan’s father (healing), Choon Fong Lee (KL), Ruth Ngoma, Corinne Teng, Susan Varadi, Susan Weng &  Mavis Wong’s mother (salvation & healing); Mr Swee Liang Ng; Mr Mang Soo Ong; Bro Peng Cheong Wong; Mr Tony Zhang; Mrs Maggie D’Mello (Mumbai) & others in affliction.

2. Special Prayer: Bro Charles Yeo (Post-op); Sis Nita Chong’s cousin (Mr Seck Aik Foo - salvation & healing) & Sis Iris Surman’s brother (healing).

3. iSketch & Tell Studio, YouTube Ministry: Pr Hai Seng Lim.

4. Cambodia Missions - Rev Moses Hahn & Ministry; Rev Srun Chivan (Sihanoukville).

5. Batam Missions - Sis Ang Liang Phoa & Ministry; Filadelfia B-P Church, orphanage & kindergarten.

6. New Life BPC (London) - Rev Colin Wong’s health & visa application to be approved.

7. Ministry in Hope BPC - God’s guidance for future - Preacher David & Sis Susan Weng. 

8. Korea Missions: Pastor Okman & Sis Myung Ki (Mar-Apr) - health, strength & wisdom.

9. Journey mercies: Pastor Okman & Sis Myung Ki (S’pore/Seoul); Bro Raphael Ng (Waikerie/Adl); & others travelling.

10. Interpreters of sermon into Mandarin.

11. Job - Bro Jonathan Liao (Syd); Sisters Yashu Qin (Adl) & Sharon Ying (Per); & others looking for  stable jobs.

12. Health in pregnancy: Sisters Kerrie Lam, May Lau & Tabitha Tan.

13. Postnatal health, recovery & strength - Sis Monica Tan; Health & growth - baby Alexandra

14. God’s guidance & wisdom for those in authority in this country.

 

 

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