28 Apr 13 – The Virtue of Sober-Mindedness” (Titus 2:4a)

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Apr 292013
 
Titus 2:4 That they may teach the young women to be sober…

 By Pr. Lek Aik Wee

The more spiritually mature lady members of the body of Christ are exhorted by Titus, the pastor, to teach the younger women to be sober. “To be sober” has the sense of being self-controlled and temperate, possessing the tenacity and strength in the heart towards godliness. It is to discipline, train, think and act soberly, discreetly, and in moderation. She has cultivated and developed a habitual devotion towards Christ her Lord and not be compromised by ungodly indulgences. This word translated “sober” rightly brings across the sense of one who has put herself under subjection in obedience to the laws of God. One who is quiet or sedate in demeanour, not intoxicated or drunk, her life is marked by seriousness, gravity, solemnity in demeanour and speech, godliness that shines through in her contact with others.

Though young, she carries herself with dignity by her temperate new nature in Christ, setting herself as an example. The fact that they have to be taught such sobriety speaks of a lack of this virtue among the younger women. The impulses of youth perhaps still rule her heart and dictate her devotion. Therefore the exhortation that the young women be taught to be sober is a responsibility that more mature members of the body of Christ are being entrusted with. What better way to teach than to be an example and what example can we be except we are sober ourselves?

 

May the Lord help you to take a little time to examine your own lives if such a spiritual virtue of sobriety rule your heart, speech and actions. If so, may you bear the yoke of teaching this virtue to the younger women, in deepening their spirituality! The prevalence of a social circle in the pubs and places of drunkenness can be a lure to the unguarded lady who may have just stepped into the workforce. It is a norm to indulge in social drinking of alcohol as a release from a hard day’s work. There is pressure to conform so as to find friends and favour. The temptation and the lure are very real and there is an urgency to say “no” to such indulgences. Living a life of holiness and abstinence can mean at times ostracisms from ungodly company with persecutions but it is the safe way. The sober-minded Christian will be able to discern good and evil and to be able to have the strength to do good.

Are you true to your calling as a Christian to be sober? This is the question to consider before you. This question is not only for the women but also the men. And there is also the student in the school, perhaps in schools of higher learning where there is a culture of freedom to do what comes naturally. Will you let loose and let down your guard and fall into sin in such a lax culture skewing toward immorality?

And there is the homemaker in the home who lacks sobriety because she felt that her time at home is so claustrophobic, she needs some breathing space and indulges herself in sinful pleasure once in a while, a little here and a little there. A godly homemaker will not allow the stress of house work to cause her to complain and murmur but is able to take them with God’s help. She will be discreet, wise and prudent in her conduct toward her husband and even her father- and mother-in-law. She is able to show forth patience and not youthful impatience and temper. Can it come naturally? Certainly not! It comes as a result of the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit in her life.

How often does she fail to control that destructive temper that causes hurt to loved ones hurling sinful words when she did not get things her way? How she needs to be shaken and awoken to her waywardness and come to sorrow for her intemperance. How many broken families result because of a fiery uncontrolled temper? It is so sad when father and mother gets into quarrels leaving the children devastated to learn these destructive ways.

How can true change be effected except she first partakes of the benefits of the gospel? Dear brethren, do you know that God’s greatest gift to mankind is His only begotten Son Jesus Christ! Jesus lived a sinless life and was crucified on the cross to die as a sacrifice for the sins of man. Because Jesus died, He won for all who believe in His finished work on the cross the forgiveness of sins. If you realize that the nature of sin in you is so heinous, come to Jesus for cleansing. Three days after Jesus died, He rose again from the dead giving victory over sin and its penalty which is death. Because Jesus rose from the dead, He gained for all who will believe in Him eternal life and the freedom from the bondage of sin. The ability to exercise self-control is the power of the gospel in breaking the stronghold of sin in your life. And this is the beginning of God’s blessing. If you are not a Christian and you are facing much trouble with self-control, come to Jesus today. He has the power to help you overcome the nature of sin that is in you.

If you are a Christian, this virtue of self-control or temperance is to be cultivated so that it becomes your way of life. How can this be possible except she spends time with the Lord in prayer and in the study of His Word to receive godly wisdom that enables her to mortify the desires of the flesh! This aspect of cultivation can take time and much patience. It is not overnight that virtue exists but it involves times of self-examination and soul searching to know and curtail the motions of sin in one’s life. How can she succeed except by the grace of God? But it must begin with the desire for change! It is the co-labouring of the Holy Spirit in the believer’s heart that prompts the need for holiness. The call for the women of God to be sober-minded is a solemn charge that this generation of ladies make an impact in this world of loose morals and sinful self-indulgences. This injunction does not exclude the men.

It is the prayer of Titus, the concerned servant of God, that there is the practice of sound doctrine in the lives of the ladies in the church by this virtue of sober-mindedness. May the Lord bless this devotion to the blessing of your heart to the glory of Christ precious Name! Amen!

Announcements (28 Apr 13)

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Apr 282013
 

 

BOE and Members’ Dialogue will be held on Sat 4/5 4pm @ Chapel. All are welcome.

 

Pastoral Visitation on Sat 11/5 2pm: If you would like to open your house for visitation, or you are interested to join the visitation teams, please contact Pr Lek by 5/5.

 

The Ultimate Quest 2013 Theme: Lost and Found! Date: 25 May 2013 Sat. Time: 9.30am – 5.30pm. Registration opens till 12 May! Registration is free for all children P1 – P6. Contact Daniel Sim at +65 81121677 for more details.

 

NLBPC Combined Church Camp 2013: Dates: 12 -15 June 2013 (Wed – Sat).  Venus: Bayou Lagoon Park Resort, Melaka. Theme: A Gospel Worthy of Your Life. Speakers: Rev. Bill Mills (Eng), Rev. Matt Hanna (Chinese), Mrs Matt Hanna (Children) Fees: Adults $200, Senior Citizens (=>60yrs) $160, Full Time Students $160 and Children S$140. Registration continues till 12 May.  Camp fee will be collected on 12 and 19 May.  More details are in the NLBP church website. You can also download the form from our website!

 

21 Apr 13 – Whence cometh your help? (Psalm 121:1-2)

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Apr 212013
 

By Pr. Lek Aik Wee

Where do you find help when confronted with the troubles of life? Some trust in princes, and some in horses, but for the psalmist, he will remember the name of the LORD. He affirms in his heart and testifies he would look to God in faith and prayer for every testing and temptation that comes his way, “I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. My help cometh from the LORD, which made heaven and earth.” (Psalm 121:1-2) His testimony – God never fails to help him!

The lifting up of the eyes is a gesture of worship. It is an act of acknowledging God, a most wonderful prayer posture of a trusting heart without hassle. The lifting up of the eyes is a renewal of trust in God and in Him alone. The psalmist begins by lifting up his eyes to the hills wherein the temple of God stood. At the back of his mind, he contemplates the dangers of the journey of life that lies before him. Psalm 121 is part of a collection of fifteen psalms of ascent (Psalm 120-134) that were sung on the pilgrim’s journey to Jerusalem as the worshippers climb the steps in ascending degrees to the temple at Jerusalem (about 2400 feet above sea level) to celebrate the festivities of the Jews.

The psalmist affirms that God is his able Helper. He encourages us to do likewise. Faith and confidence in God’s ability to keep us must be kept alive in our hearts. The word “help” – if you look it up in the Thesaurus – gives various shades of meaning. It means “assistance, aid, support, relief”. It means “comfort, benefit, advantage”. It also means “to assist or deliver from suffering or assistance that brings relief from difficulty”.

The LORD indeed is our able Helper, for with Him is all power. He made the heaven and earth, all things were made by Him, without Him was not anything made that was made. As such, there can be no trouble from which He cannot deliver. This is the psalmist’s firm conviction. He will yet triumph again with his LORD. So, he will continue to look up.

As the chorus goes:

“I Know the Lord will make a way for me.

I know the Lord will make a way for me.

If I look to Him in prayer, darkest night will turn to day,

I know the Lord will make a way for me.”

But often when we face trial and testing, we look invariably for help everywhere and from anyone – but not from God. The psalmist in verse 2 is affirming that the origin or author of his help is God. This is seen by the interpretation of the phrase “cometh from”. In the original, we see two prepositions “from” and “with” or beside”. Our help is from the LORD who is with us or beside us. He is never far away but always with His children. Such a remarkable truth must cause our hearts to be strengthened before Him! Therefore, in the face of uncertainty and crossroads, the psalmist affirms his faith in the LORD, His God. We notice the strength of the personal relationship he has with his God.

Whether we seek Him as a church, as a family at home or individually wherever we may be, we will receive His help. Whence cometh your help? Will you affirm like the psalmist, “My help cometh from the LORD!” Amen.

14 Apr 13 – “Seeing God in Suffering”

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Apr 172013
 

“Seeing God in Suffering”

“But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive.” Gen 50:20

By Rev. S. V. Nathan

Introduction:

Often we think life is unfair: though I am good and try to live by the will of God, why then do things unfair happen to me? Have you ever been asked or you yourself ask: where is God?  Someone asked C.S. Lewis, “Why do the righteous suffer?” His reply: “Why not? They’re the only ones who can take it.” (http://www.sermonillustrations.com/a-z/s/suffering.htm). The Bible also gives many such examples (Moses, Joseph, David, Job, Jesus Christ, and the disciples) of God permitting suffering of the righteous in order to use them for greater good. Here is one such story for us to ponder and learn some valuable lessons.

I call your attention to the story of Joseph. At the age of 17, Joseph was betrayed, abandoned and sold by his own brothers. Later he was falsely accused and suffered injustice. He was punished for a crime he did not commit.  Probably he had little understanding of why he suffered. His personal experiences in life gave him supreme meaning to his sufferings which was revealed in his explanation to his brothers near the end of the book of Genesis. (Genesis 50:19-20).

Likewise, as we endure suffering, we usually have no clue what our difficulties mean or even if they ever will have any meaning. We can surely relate to the story of Joseph in the way that he handled the series of humiliating experiences of his life. At the end, he positively declares God’s goodness above every humiliating event in his life. Let us learn how to look positively and “See God in our suffering, afflictions and trials”.

I.                     The Divine Purpose

Joseph acknowledged that “God did send him and made him father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house, and a ruler throughout all the land of Egypt”. (vs 45:8). In other words, it says that from the beginning it was God who sent Joseph with a divine purpose to Egypt. Hence he was able to see the divine intention and the higher will of God in his life. Therefore he did not complain or take revenge even though he was taken there in a heinous way.

Consequently, God was able to transform the actions of wickedness to bring about some gracious end to fulfill His divine purpose in Joseph’s life.  As we go through our suffering and trails, we are drawn nearer to God, and we are enabled to see what others cannot see, that is His divine purpose and plan.

God will never do any wrong in anyone’s life, as Paul says in Romans 8: 28: “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” When we go through the suffering and trials in our lives we need to see the divine purpose for our lives. Where does God want to use us? Are we focused on Him, or are we focused on our circumstances and difficulties? Let us be positive and allow God to accomplish His divine purpose through you for He has ‘higher will’ for your life.

II.                    The Divine Presence

When the divine purpose of God allows us to go through the pain and suffering, it is the divine process which allows every saint’s life to shine forth for His glory. At the same time, God does not leave us alone. In each and every step of Joseph’s life, we see the hidden hand of God leading and guiding him (vs. 41:38). His life was not always easy and was filled with ups and downs. Yet Joseph found favor with God and he allowed God to use him wherever he went.

I want to remind you of the story of “Footprint” which we have read before, “One night a man had a dream. He dreamt he was walking along the beach with the Lord. Across the sky flashed scenes from his life. For each scene he noticed two sets of footprints on the sand — one belonging to him and the other to the Lord. When the last scene had flashed before him, he looked back at the footprints and he noticed only one set. He also noticed that this happened during the lowest and saddest times of his life. This bothered him and he questioned the Lord. “Lord, you said that once I decided to follow you, you would walk all the way with me, but I noticed that during the most troublesome times of my life there was only one set of footprints. I don’t understand why, when I needed you most, you deserted me.” The Lord replied, “My precious child, I love you and would never leave you. During your times of trial and suffering, when you see only one set of footprints, those were the times when I carried you in my arms.” (http://www.yuni.com/library/docs/205.html).  Is it not true in our life too? God will never leave us or forsake us, especially when we are in our sufferings. Don’t be skeptical.

III.                  The Divine Promotion:

When the divine purpose enacted in one’s life with the divine presence, in due time he/she will be divinely promoted to serve His mighty will.  Hence, promotion doesn’t come from anyone but from God. He is the one that can promote and demote. (Psalm 75: 6. For promotion cometh neither from the east, nor from the west, nor from the south. 7. But God is the judge: he putteth down one, and setteth up another). Through Joseph’s sufferings and trials, God elevated and promoted him from prison to palace, and from slave to saviour. When God decided to promote Joseph, He took him above his master to a level where he became the master, and this made Potiphar his servant. The Lord will place us above people that have ruled us before as he did to Joseph.

God uses the sufferings and trials as the divine process to produce a godly and mature leader. In other words, in order to serve His purposes, He can transform a zero to a hero, from nothing to something – he breaks them then re-builds them. That is what we see in Joseph, Moses, David and many others in the Bible.

Moreover, I see the spiritual maturity and wisdom in Joseph, not willing to blame or take revenge rather graciously he forgave them and this enabled a reconciliation with his brothers. He saw a divine purpose, presence, and promotion in his life. Therefore, Joseph uttered “But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive.” (vs 50:20). Can we say boldly that what we have is only from God, and forgive and follow our Lord Jesus Christ like Joseph?

Conclusion:

The reality of earthly life is suffering; there is one very obvious benefit of pain. It keeps us from seriously hurting ourselves. When you touch something hot, you instantly pull away because of pain. If you did not feel the pain, you might burn yourself seriously without realizing it. Pain tells us when we have an illness or injury that needs to be treated. Pain can save our lives in this way. Hence, sufferings and trials draws us closer to Him and make us spiritually alive and helps us to keep away from sin.  No matter how great the suffering, God is always at work.

“A clay pot sitting in the sun will always be a clay pot. It has to go through the white heat of the furnace to become porcelain”. (Mildred Witte Struven, Bits and Pieces, September 19, 1991, p.6). The clay pot cannot be used unless it goes into the furnace; the former has no value but the latter becomes valuable.  Thus, Joseph was used by God mightily to save and preserve His people after going through the divine processing. I see the typology of Christ in Joseph, who was sold, cruelly treated yet finally he forgave them.  That is what Christianity is all about. There is no doubt that in everything there is goodwill and divine intervention. I hope each and every one of us learn to “See God in our sufferings and trials like Joseph”. May God bless you abundantly with His grace and mercy.

07 Apr 13 – “Wounding Words” (Prov 12:17-28)

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Apr 072013
 

“WOUNDING WORDS” (PROVERBS 12:17-28)

By Rev. Lim Chee Boon

The whole of Proverbs chapter 12 is about a righteous man.  Verses 1 to 16 tell us a righteousness man’s work is good.  In verse 2 he is called a good man.  The adjective “good” in the original language is used in the widest sense (Strong’s Concordance) and one of its meanings is “welfare.”  That is, a good man is a person who cares for the welfare of others.  His work promotes goodwill and harmony.  The second half of the chapter tells us that a righteous man’s word is good.  Verse 17 says, “He that speaketh truth sheweth forth righteousness.”  A true witness speaks the truth; this is a testimony that this person is righteous.   On the contrary the Bible says “a false witness deceit.” (v. 17b)

Still in the same line of thought on true and false witness, the writer of Proverbs has these words:  “The lip of truth shall be established for ever:  but a lying tongue is but for a moment (to wink with eye)” (v. 19) and verse 22 says “Lying lips are abomination to the LORD:  but they that deal truly are his delight.”

We swear by the Bible in the court of law to speak the truth nothing but the truth.  Sadly there are people who still lied in court.  A lying witness will never be trusted in the court of law again even if he speaks the truth in the future.  Only “the lip of truth shall be established for ever.” (v. 19b)

This portion of the Scripture (Proverbs 12:17-28) shows the negative effect of misused words.  They hurt!  Words spoken inappropriately can cause wound.  I call them “wounding words.”

1.     Wounding words caused hurt and pain

12:18 “There is that speaketh like the piercings of a sword: but the tongue of the wise is health.”

Words can be used as a weapon.  It is likened to a sword that pierces into the flesh of a man.  It causes hurt and pain.  James says, “The tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity, and it is set on fire of hell.”  (James 3:6)  Words spoken wrongly can destroy.   I remember this piece of news in our local newspaper: a young man had some birth defects.  His friends ridiculed him and he took his own life.  The tongue is a fire; it has power to hurt and caused pain.

On the contrary “the tongue of the wise is health.”  Words filled with wisdom bring healing:

  • Proverbs 25:11 “A word fitly (rightly, correctly, kindly) spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver.”
  • Proverbs 15:1 “A soft answer turneth away wrath:  but grevious words stir up anger.”

2.     Wounding words caused anxiety

12:25 “Heaviness (anxiety) in the heart of man maketh it stoop (depress):  but a good word maketh it glad.”

What caused heaviness in the heart?  It is wounding words that cause the negative impact and results in the person’s suffering with anxiety and depression.  On the contrary the Bible says, “A good word maketh it (heart) glad.”

A person who speaks wounding words shows the condition of his heart:

a.     He is deceitful

12:20 “Deceit is in the heart of them that imagine evil:  but to the counsellors of peace is joy.”

b.    He is devoid of the good sense and judgment

12:23 “A prudent man concealeth knowledge:  but the heart of fools proclaimeth foolishness.”

Conclusion:

The writer of Proverbs summed up the discussion on righteousness in verse 28 – “In the way of righteousness is life (happiness):  and in the pathway thereof there is no death (destruction).”

We are not saved by living righteously.  But when we choose the way of righteousness as our lifestyle, we are blessed with happiness.  Strong’s concordance says the Hebrew word can also be translated as welfare.  God will look after the welfare of the righteous man.  This is because a righteous man looks after the welfare of others.

I like to equate the word “life” with peace.  God bless the righteous with peace.  In Isaiah chapter 57 the word of God contrasted the life of a righteous man with the wicked man:  “He shall enter into peace:  they shall rest in their beds, each one walking in his uprightness” (v. 2) The opposite is true of an unrighteous man:  “But the wicked are like the troubled sea, when it cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt.  There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked.” (vv. 20-21)

Finally, the Lord wants us to be responsible for our words.  There is a time of reckoning (Day of Judgment); we will have to give an account for our words, spoken, written and even murmured in our hearts.  The Lord says, “O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.  A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things.  But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment.   For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.” (Matthew 12:34-37)