PASTORAL REFLECTIONRead More
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PASTORAL REFLECTIONRead More
The Fifth Column
Pastors Leslie & Adeline Chua
During the Chinese New Year, the traditional greetings usually involve well-wishes of financial and material blessings.Read More
Towards the end of 2018, the Lord spoke to me concerning what He had in store for our church and us in 2019. Initially, I heard it faintly. It was not vague; it was clear though faint. The prophetic word is 2019 is going to be a good year for our church and most people in our church.Read More
Like the apostle, Peter, Christians believe that He is the Christ, the Son of the Living God. This is a fundamental Christian belief. Jesus, Himself, made the same claim on many occasions as seen in the four Gospels.Read More
Somehow, the focus of the Christmas season has shifted from the birth of Jesus Christ and related biblical stories to theglitters of Christmas trees and decorations in the homes, streets and shopping malls. The world has adopted Christmas as its holiday. Christmas is now celebrated in almost every country in the world, but ironically without Christ. Christmas has become a time of festivity, fun and merrymaking.
Even Christians are guilty of such Christ-less celebration. Ask the people around you what Christmas is all about and they would most probably associate it with Christmas trees, exchanging of gifts, Santa Claus, reindeers, sleighs, winter wonderland, log cakes, mistletoes and parties. None of these things has anything to do with Christmas at all.
As Christians, let us be sober-minded and not be caught up with the noises that distract us from the significance of Christmas. The first Christmas two thousand years ago was a momentous day when Jesus Christ, the Saviour of the world, was born.
During this Christmas season, I urge you to pause and marvel at the many wonders of Christmas. Let us recapture the true spirit of Christmas and be enthralled by it.
Consider the beauty of that day when the transcendent God,who lived in unapproachable light, drew near to humanity. The Son of God took on flesh and dwelled among man. The hope of salvation was incarnated. What a glorious day!
The Saviour’s birth is no ordinary birth. His mother was a young virgin who had not slept with any man. Jesus was conceived through the power of the Holy Spirit of God as announced by the angel, Gabriel. It was a miraculous conception. The prophet, Isaiah had prophesied concerning this miracle some seven hundred years before – “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel”(Isaiah 7:14 - ESV).
This is not the only prophecy concerning the coming of the Saviour, or Messiah as the Jews would call Him. There were numerous other prophecies and all of them were scrupulously recorded in the Old Testament portion of the bible. For example, another prophet, Micah, prophesied the precise place of His birth - Bethlehem (Micah 5:2). All these ancient prophecies, which were given several hundred years to more than a thousand years before, came to pass. How amazing is that?
Consider the probability of hundreds of these prophecies about the coming of the Saviour, His life and death and resurrection. We are not just talking about one or two prophecies, but at least three hundred of them fulfilled in the Person of Jesus Christ. It is mathematically staggering. It shows the hand of God at work.
The miracle and wonder of Christmas do not stop here. Though Jesus Christ was born in the humble surrounding of a stable, God sent angels to announce His birth as was befitting the Son of God. First, an angel appeared to some shepherds in the field and announced to them the birth of the Saviour – “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:11). It was a majestic moment with the glory of God shining around them. Then suddenly, a multitude of angels appeared. Their praises and declaration broke the stillness of the night - “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased” (Luke 2:14).
The first Christmas is certainly not an ordinary day. It is a day of miracles and wonder like the world has never seen before. The shepherds must have been awestruck to see thosemagnificent angels and afterward came face to face with infant Jesus in a manger.
Sometime later, a group of wisemen from the East came to worship the Saviour-King. They brought with them expensive gifts to pay homage to the infant King. God had sent a star to guide them all the way from a distant land in the East to the house in Bethlehem where Joseph, Mary and baby Jesus stayed. This is no ordinary star. This is another miracle of Christmas.
Spend some time to take in all these wonder-filled moments of Christmas. Be awestruck by the power of God and the beauty of the occasion.
Wishing you a blessed Christmas!
Pastors Leslie & Adeline Chua
One of the most loved Christmas stories is that of the wisemen from the East looking for the newly born king of the Jews in the Jerusalem vicinity. To set the record straight, these wisemen did not come on the night when Jesus was born. Neither was it a few days later while baby Jesus was still lying in a manger in a stable. The visit probably took place a few months to a year after His birth. It is often said that there are three wisemen, but the fact is we do not know because it is not mentioned in the bible.
This is a fascinating story. The wisemen followed a star that led them all the way from their homeland in the distant East. There are many debates concerning the nature of that star. It could not have been an ordinary star in the night sky since it led them “until it came to rest over the place where the child was” (Matthew 2:9). Whatever that star was, God must have sent it to guide the wisemen to the infant Jesus.
The wisemen are not Jews. We are not sure how much they knew about the Old Testament prophecies concerning the birth of the Saviour-King. But what is clear is they knew enough to take the long journey and brought along with them expensive gifts. They were seekers of God and God was please to reveal His Son to them. God will reveal Himself to whoever that seeks Him. A true seeker will always find God.
It is interesting to note that the Jewish religious leaders and scribes had no clue regarding the birth of their Messiah. These people were well acquainted with the Holy Scripture. Yet none of them had any idea that their King was already in their midst. God had sent an angel to break the good news to the lowly shepherds and a star to inform a few foreigners, but He said nothing to them. What an irony! Perhaps they were not sincerely seeking God.
The wisemen were very clear about their purpose for visiting the infant Saviour-King. “For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him” (Matthew 2:2). They came to worship Him!
Imagine their surprise where the star led them. It did not stop over the city of Jerusalem as they had expected. Neither did it stop over a palace or a palatial mansion. The star led them to a small house in a poor neighbourhood in Bethlehem. This is certainly not what they had expected.
Nevertheless, they were overjoyed. Two things happened when they saw baby Jesus with His mother. They fell down and worshipped Him. It must be quite an experience for Mary and Joseph to see these wisemen prostrating and worshipping their son. It further affirmed all that God, through the angels, had told them about the identity of Jesus.
In the past, it was a customary practice to pay homage to a king by the act of kneeling. It showed one’s respect and honour. But there is another reason which most of us, modern folks, are unaware. Kneeling and prostrating were also demonstrations of allegiance. Essentially, these Gentile wisemen were pledging their loyalty and devotion to King Jesus. Never mind He was still an infant. He was destined to be the King of kings and Lord of lords in the future. Now that they had found Him, they would never again worship other gods. Their allegiance would be with Christ Jesus alone.
The wisemen did not come empty-handed. They offered gold, frankincense and myrrh as their worship. These are expensive gifts fit for a king. It reminds me of King David who uttered these memorable words - “I will not offer burnt offerings to the LORD my God that cost me nothing” (Samuel 24:24). Worship is costly.
Do not be mistaken. Worship is not just singing praise and worship songs during Sunday services. It is more than that. The word, worship, is derived from the old English word, “weorthscipe.” It means worthiness. Because God is worthy, I will honour and revere Him. I will obey Him and be devoted to Him. I will live my life in total surrender to Him. I will lay everything at His feet. Everything that I have belongs to Him. This is worship and it is costly.
Abraham understood that worship was costly. That is why he was willing to lay down his son, Isaac, on the altar of sacrifice. He would allow nothing – not even his dearest son - to come between him and God.
During this season of Advent, let us reflect seriously on our relationship with God. How are we doing in terms of our allegiance and worship? Would God consider us loyal and devoted? Is God pleased with our worship?
Pastors Leslie & Adeline Chua
Eliezer prayed this prayer. This is the first recorded prayer in the bible, and it is a prayer for divine guidance.
Eliezer is a trusted servant of Abraham. He is an ordinary person like us. He is so ordinary that his name is not even mentioned in the entire story in Genesis chapter 24. We know his name from an earlier reference in Genesis 15:2. Eliezer prayed a simple prayer, and it was effective. God answered his prayer.
Abraham entrusted Eliezer with an important task. Eliezer was to find a wife for his master’s son, Isaac. Abraham gave very specific instructions. The woman must not be from among the Canaanites. Eliezer had to go back to Abraham’s homeland in Mesopotamia and find a suitable young woman from among his relatives. The distance was long, and the journey arduous. To find an attractive woman is easy, but to find one with good character in such a short time is a tall order.
“How am I going to find the right woman for Isaac?” Eliezer must have thought to himself as he took the hazardous journey with a few other servants and ten camels loaded with expensive gifts. Eliezer is probably a resourceful person for Abraham to send him on such an important mission. But Eliezer knows the difficulty of the task. Even if he could find a good woman, she might not be willing to follow him back to Canaan.
What did Eliezer do? He prayed and sought God to help him. He knows the power of prayer. His name is a testimony to that. Eliezer means ‘my God is help.’
There are three precious lessons that we can learn here concerning praying to God for guidance.
First, put your trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make straight your paths (Proverbs 3:5-6). That was what Eliezer did. Though he was a capable and resourceful man, he did not rely solely on his own judgement. He committed the matter to the LORD. He prayed earnestly to God to show steadfast love to his master and grant him success in his endeavour. Then, he waited for God to help him.
So often, we put our trust in our own abilities. We might not be consciously aware of it, but our action betrays us. Unless we are desperate, we do not pray seriously. We merely go through the motion of prayer. It is both necessary and helpful for us to cultivate a spiritual posture of trust and utter dependence on God if we want to enjoy God’s guidance and the blessing of answered prayer.
Second, Eliezer was specific in his prayer. He was looking for a kind and hospitable young woman. So, he prayed that the woman would not only give him a drink as requested but also volunteer to draw water for his camels.
If you know anything about camels at all, you would see that it is not easy to find such a woman. Conservatively, a camel can drink up to 100 litres of water in just 10 minutes, and Eliezer had ten thirsty camels. Let us assume that just 20 litres of water is enough for each camel. Ten camels times 20 litres equal 200 litres. If each water jar can hold 5 litres, that woman must draw water from the well, walk to the trough and pour into it 40 times. That is a lot of work.
Eliezer was specific with his request because he wanted to be sure that he had selected the right woman for his master’s son. And God answered his prayer by sending Rebekah, who did exactly as he had prayed. That is amazing.
It is not a problem for us to be specific in our prayers. But we must be open if God chooses to answer our prayers differently. Just know that God is good, and He wants to give us the best. But His best may not quite fit our desires. Sometimes, God answers us according to what we ask. Sometimes, He does not. Either way. It is for our good.
Finally, reflect on God’s answer. Do not be too quick to jump to conclusion especially if it is something we want so badly. Most people tend to interpret things according to the desire of their hearts. Therefore, you want to be sure by carefully considering if God has spoken.
Eliezer did not jump to conclusion hastily despite Rebekah doing precisely what he had prayed. He observed her silently until Rebekah had finished watering his camels (Genesis 24:21-22). That took a while. Eliezer was patient because he wanted to be sure that Rebekah was God’s choice. He is a wise man.
Pastors Leslie & Adeline Chua
These last three verses of the Gospel of Matthew contain one of the most important words spoken by Jesus. These words are generally known as the Great Commission. While Jesus gave the Great Commission to the eleven apostles, it is meant for everyone who professes to be His follower and disciple.
The Great Commission is a command. That is what the word, commission, means. It is a command given to the church corporately and the individuals that make up the church. The Great Commission is not a suggestion, and we cannot conveniently ignore it. Unfortunately, many Christians do not take it seriously. They do not bother about it. But you must not disregard it. To put it bluntly, to ignore it is to disobey God’s will and one of His most basic commands.
The reason for the continual spread of Christianity throughout history – beginning in Jerusalem and Judea, and moving on to Samaria and the Roman Empire, and then to the rest of the world – is a testimony of the disciples of Jesus Christ taking the Great Commission seriously. Many willingly make sacrifices, and some fearlessly lay down their lives so that the gospel is preached. Will you be counted among the faithful ones?
Our church will have our usual Christmas evangelistic service. We are mobilising everyone to pray for five unbelieving family members and friends. We want to see these unsaved people come into the kingdom of God. Lay hold of this opportunity as we join our hearts together in unity to pray and believe God for a good harvest of souls.
Many Christians mistakenly equate the Great Commission merely with evangelism, that is, preaching the gospel to the lost unbelievers. This is only partially correct. The Great Commission certainly includes evangelism. It begins with evangelism, but it does not stop there.
Jesus’ command is to make disciples. The biblical text for this pastoral reflection makes it very clear. Notice from the text that making disciples encompasses two things.
First, ‘baptizing them.’ Baptism is more than just a necessary ritual where believers act out what had transpired spiritually in them when they confessed Jesus Christ as their Saviour and Lord. That is, their old selves are buried together with Christ in His death, and they rise in the newness of life in Christ. More importantly, in the context of making disciples, baptism is a pledge of allegiance to Christ. The world is behind us and the cross before us. Our allegiance is only to one God – our Lord Jesus Christ - even as we have forsaken all other gods. This is the mark of a true disciple.
Secondly, ‘teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.’ In a nutshell, it is to obey Christ and all His teachings. This is what allegiance to Christ looks like. Obedience is the mark of allegiance. Mere profession with the mouth is not good enough. Sometimes, talk is cheap. How often had God accused the Israelites of drawing near to Him with their mouths but their hearts were far from Him! God is not impressed with people who merely say that they would follow Him. He is only interested in those who genuinely follow Him. We must show our faith with our works.
How do we make disciples?
The discipleship process begins with sharing the good news of Jesus Christ with unbelievers and bringing those who believe into the church community. It continues with training these new believers with the Word of God and equipping them for ministry. Different churches have different programmes and activities for these training and equipping purposes. Fundamentally, discipleship always involves a few things.
The biblical discipleship model is simple. There is nothing complicated about how the early church made disciples. The believers learnt from their leaders. They listened to their teachings and watched how their leaders lived. They had regular fellowship with one another. They spent time with one another. They talked about their lives, shared their testimonies and discussed the apostles’ teachings. They broke bread regularly, and they prayed constantly. Prayer is the missing element in the life of the modern church. I have observed that many Christians are afraid to pray with other believers. This should not be the case.
As the early disciples engaged in these simple God-ordained activities, the Holy Spirit moved powerfully in their midst. They witnessed many signs and wonders, and the church grew rapidly (Acts 2:43-47).
We can learn a valuable lesson here. The early church thrived because they were hungry for God and they sought Him with all their hearts. They also came together in the unity of hearts and purpose to make disciples. They had only one agenda, and that was to seek God and do His will. It was not some methodologies that propelled their phenomenal growth and successful disciple-making, but God’s response to their earnest pursuit of Him and His purpose.
Pastors Leslie & Adeline Chua
Do you praise God? Do you love to praise God? Are you enthusiastic about praising God? Do you know the power of praise? Do you know that great power is released when we praise God?
Singing and praising God have been a significant part of church worship throughout history. The practice dates to the Old Testament times. Temple worship included praising God. The duty of some Levites was to praise God through music and songs. The book of Psalms contains many psalms where the psalmists break out into exuberant praise with poetic words or songs. Worship has always included the element of praise.
Most Christians love to praise and worship through singing, but few are aware of the power of praise. If they knew, they would be more engaged and enthusiastic about it. I notice that most Christians are too reserved to express themselves when praising God. Praise is not praise without joy and exuberance.
The bible teaches about the power of praise.
When a vast army comprising of the Edomites, Ammonites and Moabites converged against the nation of Judah, King Jehoshaphat was alarmed. Immediately, he sought the LORD God for help. Jehoshaphat proclaimed a fast in the entire nation and gathered the leaders in his court to seek the face of God.
Then the Spirit of the LORD came upon Jahaziel and spoke through him. It was an encouraging word – “You will not need to fight in this battle. Stand firm, hold your position, and see the salvation of the LORD on your behalf, O Judah and Jerusalem.’ Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed. Tomorrow go out against them, and the LORD will be with you” (2 Chronicles 20:17). Twice the LORD said that they did not need to fight this battle because the LORD would fight for them. They could only wonder what God meant.
God revealed a fascinating battle plan to his prophets. The army would still have to take up their positions for war. But instead of the elite troops, the singers and musicians were to take the lead. They were to go before the army singing praises to the LORD (2 Chronicles 20:21).
Who would fight a battle in this way? If you were a commander of a battalion, would you do that? People would think that you are crazy, or maybe you are too spiritual. But Jehoshaphat believed God and the word of the prophets. He took leadership of the situation and executed this unique battle strategy.
So, the singers and musicians went before the army singing, “Give thanks to the LORD, for his steadfast love endures forever.” They praised and proclaimed the goodness of God in the battlefield. It certainly looked funny and out of place. The enemies watching through their binoculars must be scratching their heads in bewilderment.
As they were praising God, something happened in the supernatural realm. God set an ambush on the enemies. The LORD sent confusion into their ranks and these three armies ended up slaughtering one another. Just as the LORD had said, they did not need to fight because the battle belonged to the LORD. That day, the people of God won a major victory without having to lift a single weapon against the enemies except the weapon called praise.
In His wisdom, God has ordained praise to be a means of releasing His power. I believe there is a good reason for it. Whenever we face a difficult situation, our attention is often focused on the situation instead of God. That is why we get anxious and fearful. But praise focuses our attention on God instead of the problem. Praise causes us to focus on the bigness of the wisdom and power of God instead of the magnitude of the problem before us.
Praise steadies our faith and refocuses our trust in God when we are sailing through stormy waters. So, the next time you encounter a problem, do not grumble and complain. Instead, try praising God and tell God that you are putting your trust in Him to fight the battle for you.
Pastors Leslie & Adeline Chua
The reference is to Cain’s offering of sacrifice and worship to God. This is the first time the bible mentions worship. From the beginning, God has made it clear that there is a right way to worship Him.
Cain brought an offering of fruits while his brother, Abel, brought an animal sacrifice. God accepted Abel’s offering but rejected Cain’s offering.
While the reason is not explicitly stated, we can read between the lines. Both Cain and Abel knew the proper way to worship God. Otherwise, God would not have said to Cain, “If you do what is right, will you not be accepted?” God could not have possibly accused Cain of wrongdoing if he had not known the requirement.
The brothers must have learnt from their parents, Adam and Eve, that God required blood sacrifices. Animals had to be slaughtered and their blood shed. Remember after they had sinned, God ‘made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them’ (Genesis 3:21). Animals, most likely sheep, had to be slain before their skins could be used to make those clothes. Blood must be shed for the atonement of sin. That has always been the way for sinful man to approach God.
God did not arbitrarily accept Abel’s offering and reject Cain’s offering. It was based on principles. What are these principles? Both the offeror and the offering must be right. We must come to God on His terms. We cannot come to God on our own terms. There is a proper way to worship God. Failure to understand these principles have serious consequences.
Cain worshipped God, but he refused to approach God on His terms. Instead of bringing sheep, he brought fruits. Maybe, it is out of convenience as he was a farmer. If he wanted sheep, he would have to barter trade with his brother, who was a keeper of flocks. Maybe he was too proud to ask. Perhaps, he was lazy. Maybe, he just could not be bothered.
Cain had an attitude problem. He did not take his relationship with God seriously. Reverence was missing in his worship. When God rejected his offering, he became angry. Even when God persuaded him to do the right thing, he refused to heed God’s warning. Instead of repentance, he reacted by killing Abel.
Abel was different. He worshipped God on God’s terms. Abel did exactly as God required. He did not just sacrifice sheep. He offered the best that he had to God – the firstborn of his flock and their fat portions.
The offeror and the offering must be right. God rejected Cain’s offering because his attitude toward Him was disrespectful and he brought the wrong offering. Whereas for Abel, God accepted him because he approached God reverently and he brought the right sacrifice.
You may be surprised to find many people like Cain in the church. These people come to God with a casual and frivolous attitude. They take the grace of God for granted. It is true that we must approach God and His throne of grace with confidence, but that does not mean that we forget to come with an attitude of deep reverence. He is still the great and glorious God who is the ruler over the entire realm of existence while we are just mere mortals saved by grace.
We must come into God’s presence on God’s terms. We must come with the fear of God in our hearts. We must always come in a spirit of repentance. The sacrifice and blood of Christ have opened the way for us to enter into His holy presence, but repentance is still required. The Holy Communion serves as a constant reminder.
One of the tell-tale signs of a truly reverent heart is our attitude toward the weekly church service. Do you attend regularly? Do you come on time? Do you prepare yourselves to worship and receive the preaching of the Word of God? These are basic measures of your reverence toward God. They also reflect your attitude toward worship and your relationship with God.
Another tell-tale sign is whether your take tithing and offering seriously. These are basic requirements of worship. Do you pay your tithes? Concerning offering, do you give the ‘fat portions’ or bones?
Pastors Leslie & Adeline Chua