Announcements (25 Jul 2017)

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Jun 252017
 

ToddlersClub (Every 3rd & 4th Sunday, 10-11am):  We would like to encourage all parents to bring your toddlers (age 2-3) to the Toddlers’ Club so as to feed them God’s Word from a tender age.  Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it  (Proverbs 22:6).

Session Planning on 1 Jul, Sat @ 9am-1pm:  Session members please attend.

SAF Anniversary Meeting (15 Jul, Sat) @ 4.30pm-6.30pm at Church Chapel.

Gospel Sunday on 30 July:  Please pray and invite your friends and loved ones to this service.  Speaker:  Eld Sim Chee Seng.

R500 Conference (9-12 Aug):  Registration has started.  Please sign up with Sis Min Ling at the Fellowship Hall if you are interested.  Registration closes on 23 July.

Cambodia Mission Trip (22-26 Dec):  Please register your interest with Ps Gan or Sis Carol Tan latest by end July.

25 Jul 2017 – Memorizing God’s Word

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Jun 252017
 

Memorizing God’s Word by Dn Ronnie Tan

Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.

(Psalm 119:11)

Nowadays, we can easily turn to our print Bibles or online Bibles in our mobile phones or iPads and tablet PCs to refer to God’s Word.  However, what if we are without our Bibles and there is no Internet network available?  In such situations, are we able to recite some Bible verses without anything to aid us?

Memorizing God’s Word may be tough as we grow older.  I am one who will be the first to admit it.  Even among our youngsters, some would jokingly admit that they can recite two verses easily, and these are John 3:16 and of course, John 11:35!

Admittedly, it might be easier to memorize Bible verses when we were young. A number of verses I could recite from memory today were those I learnt during my Sunday School days as a young boy and then as a teenager. Back then, the Sunday School teachers and Junior Fellowship leaders actually made verse memorization as one of those things one has to pass in order to earn a badge.  It was not easy to do it but some of us actually managed to memorize dozens of verses and even entire portions of Psalms, such as Psalm 23 and Psalm 100 over the course of two to three years.

All of us have different sets of gifts that God gave us.  Some are good at Mathematics while others are bad at it.  Conversely, some are good at History while others would steer clear from the subject.  However, God’s Word in Psalm 119:11 and Psalm 119:105 give us two reasons why we should memorize verses – to keep us from sinning and to show us the right way.

Another reason for keeping God’s Word in our hearts – to serve as an indication of the extent of our love for God’s law.  Psalm 119:97 says “O how love I thy law! it is my meditation all the day.”  In other words, do we really love God’s Word to the extent that we are prepared to memorize what He has said in the Bible?  Even the Devil, who hates God, can recite (and twist) God’s Word to his advantage, as was evident when he tried to tempt Christ in the desert. (Matt 4:1-11)  Besides, there is anecdotal evidence that members of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, a cult group, actually spend a year or two memorizing most, if not the entire Bible!

On our part, do we know God’s Word enough to be able to detect when doctrinal lies coated with half-truths are presented to us by cults?  Without knowing God’s Word, it would be hard to do so, especially when we are challenged to quote the verses, if not the scriptural texts, from which we draw our positions on doctrinal issues.

Years ago, when the Internet was unheard of, a friend of mine leaving for Bob Jones University for further studies said this to me before he left, “Ronnie, make sure you write to me as often as you can.”  I kept my word and in one of his replies, he told me that when he was homesick, he would “religiously” re-read the letters which I and others had sent him because they meant a lot to him.  Even as I recalled what he said, it dawned on me that if someone’s letter means a lot to another person, does God’s Word mean anything to us?  Do we love God’s Word enough to try to keep His word in our hearts?

To keep us from sinning should be a good motivation for us to memorize God’s Word too. During my NS days, my officer once told me, “Tan, go and help me buy a pack of cigarettes.” His request was, in a way, an order I had to obey.  I then recalled a fellow Christian testifying how he refused to obey a similar order from his officer because he recalled the latter part of 1 Tim 5:22 saying, “…neither be partaker of other men’s sins: keep thyself pure.”  I thanked God for recalling this verse and I said, “Sir, I cannot buy for you.”  He was bemused by my response and asked, “Why not?”  I replied rather innocently, “Sir, how can I help poison my officer?”  To cut a long story short, my officer chuckled and shared my response with his fellow officers, two of whom were Christians, and they all had a good laugh.  After that, my officer never asked me to buy cigarettes for him again.  In this instance, God’s Word hidden in my heart stopped me from sinning against Him.

It is not easy to memorize verses, especially the long ones or even entire Psalms.  However, if we set our hearts to achieve that which seems tough, or even impossible, God will help us, (Philippians 4:13), especially if His word means a great deal to us!

Announcements (18 Jun 2017)

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Jun 182017
 

Blessed Father’s Day:  The Session wishes all fathers in our midst a Blessed Father’s Day!

Session Planning (1 Jul @9.00am-1pm):  All Session members, please attend.

R500 Conference (9-12 Aug):  Members are strongly encouraged to attend.  Please register with Sis Min Ling at the Fellowship Hall.  Registration closes on 23 July 2017.

Feedback on the future challenges of the Church starts today and closes on 30 Jul 2017.

Gospel Sunday on 30 July:  Please pray about inviting your friends and loved ones to the Service.

Cambodia Mission Trip (24-28 Nov):  Please register your interest with Ps Gan.

18 Jun 2017 – Christianity without Hypocrisy (Part 2)

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Jun 182017
 

Christianity without Hypocrisy (Part 2) – By Rev Gabriel Gan

II.  Praying to Be Heard (vs. 5-8)

The second of Jesus’ examples of religious piety and the one he deals with at greatest length is prayer. He assumes his disciples will pray, but he is concerned about how prayer is done.  Jesus warns us not to seek man’s praise, assures us that those who do will get only an earthly answer, commands us to perform such acts privately, and promises that God, who hears in secret, will reward us openly.

Jesus warns of two wrong types of prayer.

  1. Ostentatious prayer (vv.5–6)

In synagogue services public prayer was customarily led by a male member of the congregation who stood in front of the ark of the law and discharged this responsibility. A man could easily succumb to the temptation of praying up to the audience/congregation. The acceptable clichés, the appropriate sentiments, the well-pitched fervency, all become tools to win approval, and perhaps to compete with the chap who led in prayer last week.

But whenever a person prays in order to enhance his own reputation, God is not listening.

We have an example of this in Christ’s parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector. The Pharisee “stood up and prayed about himself” (Lk  18:11). He had his reward; he was noticed by the people standing by. They must have said, “Look at that Pharisee! How pious he is!” Yet Jesus said that it was the tax collector who was justified. He did not call attention to himself but rather “stood at a distance,” praying, “God, have mercy on me, a sinner” (v. 13). He had his reward in heaven.

 

  1. Repetitious prayer (vv. 7–8)

The second kind of wrong prayer is repetitious prayer, which Jesus identifies as characteristic of Gentiles or pagans. The prayers of the priests of Baal in the days of Elijah are an example. They called on Baal “from morning till noon,” calling louder and louder and even “slashed themselves with swords and spears” (see 1 Kings 18:25–29). But Baal did not hear them.

Jesus is not condemning long prayers in these verses since he himself spent long nights and many hours in prayer.  What he is condemning is “vain repetition.” Sadly, many prayers are like this. Indeed, we can even be idle in our repetition of the so-called Lord’s Prayer, which follows these verses.

What, then, is to characterize our prayers?  Jesus mentions two things. First: “But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou has shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly(6:6).  We will comprehend Jesus’ point better if we each ask ourselves these questions: Do I pray more frequently and more fervently when alone with God than I do in public?  Do I love the secret place of prayer? Is my public praying simply the overflow of my private praying?

How, then, should we pray? Jesus himself gives us a wonderful example, usually referred to as “The Lord’s Prayer,” but more appropriately designated “The Lord’s Model Prayer.”

II          The final “act of righteousness” Jesus discusses is fasting. In the Jewish calendar there were certain special fasts in which everybody participated. These took place in connection with the high feast days, such as the Day of Atonement or the Jewish New Year. Fasts might also be called when, for example, the autumn rains failed to appear; these fasts, too, would be national in scope. In addition, many individuals would fast at other times, allegedly for reasons of moral and religious self-discipline, and especially as a sign of deep repentance and brokenness before the Lord.

But what began as spiritual self-discipline degenerated into an occasion for pompous self-righteousness. Some would wear glum expressions on their faces, go about their business unwashed and unkempt, and sprinkle ashes on their head, all to inform peers that they were fasting. What was once a sign of humiliation became a sign of self-display.

The issue is not how often we should fast. It is how we fast and why.  “But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face; Thou thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father which is in secret: and thy Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly. (vv. 17–18).  As far as the “how” is concerned, we are to do it privately before God and not to seek attention from men. Once the believer has told someone about his fasting, God is looking the other way. However, God is conscious of all forms of self-denial for His sake and is pleased with His faithful servants.

Conclusion

The question is raised in its most practical form: Whom am I trying to please by my religious practices? Honest reflection on that question can produce most disquieting results.

Genuine piety is superlatively attractive. But the real beauty of righteousness must not be tarnished by sham.  May God help us!

Announcements (11 Jun 2017)

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Jun 112017
 

Church Camp Briefing:  Those who have registered for Church Camp, please stay back in the sanctuary for a short camp briefing immediately after the Worship Service TODAY.

The Sunday School Class under Bro Mia Hock will begin a study of the Gospel of Luke from TODAY, 11 June 2017.  All are welcome!

Combined B-P Churches Reformation Conference (9-12 Aug):  Please refer to posters for more details.  Those interested to attend, please register with Sis Min Ling.

11 Jun 2017 – The Different Wills of God

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Jun 112017
 

The Different Wills of God by Elder Yap Chee Kian

Romans 12:2 (KJV)

And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

Introduction

People often asked “What is the will of God for my life?” We also know that we ought to pray in the will of God and Christians are to submit to God’s will. When speaking of God’s will, many people will see different aspects of it in the Bible. Therefore, it is instructive to know what they are as it would help us to search and discern the will of God in our lives.

 

The Will of God

The Bible speaks of the will of God in several ways. The three of them we are familiar with are:

  1. Sovereign Will
  2. Preceptive Will
  3. Desiderative Will

  1. Sovereign Will

This is also known as the decretive will of God and is that will by which God sovereignly brings to pass whatsoever He wills. This is according to His eternal, foreordained plan and purpose. Included in this is our salvation as revealed in Ephesians 1:3-6. Verse 5 tells us that “Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will” and this is further affirmed in verse 11 “In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will.” This expression of God’s [sovereign] will can never be frustrated or thwarted and nothing happens beyond His control. Knowing this aspect of God’s will should give us peace and comfort.

Theologians call the decretive will the hidden will of God according to Deuteronomy 29:29 – “The secret things belong unto the LORD our God. “My readers may say “What does God want me to do in this case?” None of us can read God’s mind, but we can read God’s Word and that give us His revealed will. We know of God’s sovereign will only when He chooses to reveal them to us. Calvin himself made his comment at this point where he said, “Where God closes His holy mouth, I will desist from inquiry.” (http://www.ligonier.org/blog/secret-things-lord/)

  1. Preceptive Will

The Preceptive Will is also known as the revealed will of God. This includes the commandments or precepts that God has revealed to us in the Bible. This is God’s declared will in what we should or should not do. We know that God’s sovereign will cannot be resisted. But the preceptive will of God not only can be resisted by us, but is resisted all the time. The 10 commandments are God’s will and we have the power to break them albeit with consequences. There are many other commandments in the Bible which we often choose not to do.

  1. Desiderative Will

This tells us what is pleasing to Him and what is not. Moses appealed to God’s desiderative will to forgive Israel when the Israelites resisted the preceptive will of God again and again (Exodus 34:6-7). Moses knew that God loves to show mercy and yet he will execute judgment. We also appeal to God’s wish or desire according to 2 Pet 3:9 for God is not willing that any should perish and it is His wish that all should come to repentance. Ezekial 33:11 puts this across even more emphatically where it is written “As I live, saith the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked.”

Other aspects

There are two other aspects of God’s will – The Directive will of God and the Discerned will of God. They do not violate any of the wills above.

The Directive refers to the Holy Spirit’s direct guidance in our lives. He speaks to our hearts or other means. We see this prominently in at least three instances in the Acts of the Apostles – the guidance of Philip to the Ethiopian eunuch (Acts 8:26), of Peter and Cornelius (Acts 10:1-3) and Paul’s Macedonian call (Acts 16:9).

There is the Discerned will where we seek God’s guidance through the application of principles in the Bible. John Piper writes, “Most of the decisions we make are not spelled out specifically in the Bible. Discernment is how we follow God’s leading through the process of spiritually sensitive application of biblical truth to the particularities of our situation. Romans 12:2 describes this: ‘Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.’  In this case God does not declare a specific word about what to do. But his Spirit shapes the mind and heart through the Word and prayer so that we have inclinations toward what would be most glorifying to him and helpful to others.” (http://www.desiringgod.org/articles/four-ways-god-leads-his-people)

Conclusion

There are many decisions we make in life from major ones like what career to pursue to routine ones like what to have for lunch. Many of them are not specifically written in the Bible but we can use Biblical principles to discern God’s will. Let us pray according to Psalm 119:66 “Teach me good judgment [discernment] and knowledge: for I have believed thy commandments. “

Announcements (04 Jun 2017)

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Jun 042017
 

Wed Prayer Meeting@8pmMembers, especially students on holidays are encouraged to come and pray as a Church.   The Church that prays together, stays together!

Church Camp Briefing:  Those who have registered for Church Camp, please stay back after the Service for a short camp briefing next Lord’s Day, 11 June 2017.

Church Camp Bus List: It’s up on the noticeboard in fellowship hall. Do check that your name is on it if you’ve registered to take the coach and take note of your Bus No./Bus IC.

SAF 7th Anniversary on 16 July 4pm at The Chapel: All are invited to join in this celebration of God’s goodness.

04 Jun 2017 – Christianity Without Hypocrisy (1)

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Jun 042017
 

Christianity Without Hypocrisy (1)

 Introduction

Jesus has described the incredibly high standard of righteousness required of those who would be his disciples: (1) explaining that it must be superior to that of the Pharisees and teachers of the law, (2) describing it in six representative areas, and (3) insisting that his disciples pursue perfection, since God is perfect.

Now he moves to those outward “acts of righteousness” (Matt. 6:1), which we would call the practice of religion, and he warns of a great danger: hypocrisy. The word hypocrite (ὑποκριτής) occurs 13 times in Matt. (6:2, 5, 6; 7:5; 15:7; 22:18; 23:13, 15, 23, 25, 27, 29; 24:51). It was the classical Greek word for a play actor or pretender.

There are several different kinds of hypocrisy.

In one kind, the hypocrite feigns goodness but is actually evil, like those who tried to “catch” Jesus in things he said (Matt. 22:15ff.). Such hypocrites know they are being deceptive.

In another kind of hypocrisy, the hypocrite is puffed up with his own importance and self-righteousness. Blind to his own faults, he may be genuinely unaware that he is hypocritical—even though he is very harsh toward other people and their sins. Jesus discusses such hypocrites in Matthew 7:1–5, as we shall see. We may at least comfort ourselves that onlookers readily detect this form of hypocrisy, even if the hypocrite himself remains oblivious to his own double standard.

But the kind of hypocrisy involved in Matthew 6:2 is more subtle than either of the other two. In this case, the hypocrite has talked himself into believing that at heart, he is conducting himself with the best interests of the needy in mind. He may thus be unaware of his own hypocrisy. Moreover, the needy themselves are not likely to complain; they will be touchingly grateful, and contribute to the giver’s self-delusion. And all but the most discerning of onlookers will speak appreciatively of the philanthropist’s deed, for all acknowledge that giving is good.

  1. T. Robertson argues that the Lord is addressing the three categories of righteous deeds that the Pharisees were very proud of: alms, prayer, and fasting (Word Pictures, I, p. 50).

In discussing them, Jesus follows the same outline: (1) a warning not to seek man’s praise, (2) an assurance that those who do will get only an earthly reward, (3) a command to perform such acts privately, and (4) a promise that God, who sees in secret, will reward the disciple openly.

  • Giving to the Poor (vs. 1-4)

Jesus’ first example of religious practice is almsgiving, or giving to the poor. The biblical revelation has always held to the importance of almsgiving, of giving to needy people (Deut. 15:11; see vv. 7–11; also Exod. 23:10–11; Lev. 19:10; and Ps. 112:9).

Jesus agreed that this is a religious duty, for he is not telling us to give alms in these verses; he is assuming we will do it. What Jesus is concerned about is how the giving will be done. Will it be done to win approval from men? Is our charitable giving concerned with meeting needs and pleasing God than with earning a reputation for generosity? In the secular world, most giving is for that reason. Unfortunately, this sometimes creeps into religious circles too.

The Pharisees used almsgiving to gain favor with God and attention from men, both of which were wrong motives. They have their reward: approval from men, that’s all! (v.2b) But no amount of giving can purchase salvation; for salvation is the gift of God (Eph. 2:8–9).

“So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by men” (6:2). Jesus called it announcing one’s gifts “with trumpets,” meaning, as we might say, that such people are “blowing their own horn.”

The trumpets may be metaphorical; philanthropy is not to be accompanied by the repulsive sound of the philanthropist blowing his own horn. But the trumpets may be literal, the trumpets of the Jerusalem temple calling the citizens together to contribute to some particularly urgent need. The opportunity for ostentation under such circumstances is quite unmatched—the trumpets sound, and I quickly close my shop and hasten down the street. Everyone knows where I’m going, and the speed at which I’m moving not only draws attention to my direction but attests to my zeal.

“But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret” (6:3–4a). It is almost as if the Master is using an overwhelming metaphor to express adequately just how quiet and private our giving ought to be. Such privacy is not itself meritorious; but it ensures that our giving is not prompted, even in part, by a love for the praise of peers. No one will know about this giving in secret; no one, that is, but God.

Does this mean that it is wrong to give openly? Must all giving be anonymous? Not necessarily, for everyone in the early church knew that Barnabas had given the income from the sale of his land (Acts 4:34–37). When the church members laid their money at the Apostles’ feet, it was not done in secret. The difference, of course, was in the motive and manner in which it was done. A contrast is Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5:1–11), who tried to use their gift to make people think they were more spiritual than they really were.

The Promise: That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly (v.4).

Conclusion: Hypocritical piety is not from the heart, it is not genuine; it is play-acting piety. Jesus’ disciples who are citizens of God’s kingdom must practice their religion from the heart and not for the notice, approbation, and reward of men.