Archive for the ‘Pastoral’ Category

January 2 – Daily Devotion – Psalm 103:2

Psalm 103:2

Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits.

The proper response to divine favours received is a personal commitment to bless the LORD. Thankfulness leads the beneficiary to worship the Giver, who is the LORD. In the previous verse, the psalmist has already exhorted his soul twice to bless the LORD; and now a third time he says, “Bless the Lord.”  The repetition denotes the earnestness of his desire to express His gratitude. Besides, he stirs up his soul to employ itself in grateful worship of the LORD. The worship of the Lord must rise from the inner man. It is a soul-work. Jesus reprimanded those who engaged in lip-worship. Citing Isaiah, He said, “This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me” (Matt. 15:8; Cf. Is. 29:13; Ezek. 33:31). No worship exists when the heart is not sincerely and earnestly employed in praising the LORD.

In Deuteronomy 8:10-14 the LORD warned Israel against forgetting His benefits – “When thou hast eaten and art full, then thou shalt bless the LORD thy God for the good land which he hath given thee. Beware that thou forget not the LORD thy God, in not keeping his commandments, and his judgments, and his statutes, which I command thee this day: Lest when thou hast eaten and art full, and hast built goodly houses, and dwelt therein; And when thy herds and thy flocks multiply, and thy silver and thy gold is multiplied, and all that thou hast is multiplied; Then thine heart be lifted up, and thou forget the LORD thy God …”

Recollecting and recognising the LORD’s help, guidance, rebuke, promises, spiritual blessings, physical provisions, strength, hope, etc. will provide genuine impetuses for the worship of His name. Grateful emotions make the soul to yearn to bless the LORD. Recognition of the Lord’s blessings in his life caused a psalmist to cry out, “What shall I render unto the LORD for all his benefits toward me? I will take the cup of salvation, and call upon the name of the LORD. I will pay my vows unto the LORD now in the presence of all his people” (Ps. 116:12-14).

In order to mould oneself to be a better worshipper of the LORD, one should awaken his memory of the benefits he received from the LORD. Our memory is like a large storehouse. Recollection will bring to present awareness those things stored up in the memory, producing powerful passions of gratitude and worship in our hearts.

BIBLICAL SEPARATION


8 Spiritual Blessings of

SEPARATION

Every biblical doctrine is a blessing to those who believe and apply it fully in their lives and ministries. Our Lord Jesus said, “Yea rather, blessed are they that hear the word of God, and keep it” (Luke 11:28). God’s truth profits everyone who believes and obeys. Isaiah the prophet said, “Thus saith the LORD, thy Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel; I am the LORD thy God which teacheth thee to profit… O that thou hadst hearkened to my commandments! then had thy peace been as a river, and thy righteousness as the waves of the sea” (Isaiah 48:17-18). God’s truth, regardless of differing opinions, if adhered to passionately, will provide great blessings to the soul. They who believe and obey the truth of God’s Word can be expectant of glorious eternal blessings – “Thou shalt guide me with thy counsel, and afterward receive me to glory” (Psalm 73:24).

Every doctrine of the Scriptures is to be received and practised. So, the doctrine of separation, being a clear teaching of God’s Word, must be upheld. Nonetheless, many reject it as an unpleasant, burdensome, useless doctrine. Some refer to it as a “minor doctrine” or “non-essential doctrine”. However, this doctrine is the very channel of divine blessings. Furthermore, it also acts as a shield against errors. To practise the doctrine of separation is to secure the pure and glorious divine blessings for our souls and for our churches.

The Bible records very vividly the blessings that God promised to those who separate themselves from sin, worldliness, false doctrines, false teachers and disobedient Christians.

  1. Separation keeps our souls and congregations from the filthiness of sin. When we practise biblical separation against the sinful pleasures of the world, we will be able to purify and protect ourselves from all the sins of the world. In Ezra 6:21, we have a great example of this – “And the children of Israel, which were come again out of captivity, and all such as had separated themselves unto them from the filthiness of the heathen of the land, to seek the LORD God of Israel.” The same truth is found in Revelation 18:4, where a call to separate is given – “And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins.”
  2. Separation helps us to be like Christ. In Hebrews 7:26, we are told that Jesus Christ is “such an high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners”. All Christians are to be like Christ; and to be like Christ, they should separate themselves from sin and sinners, just as Jesus did. Of course, this does not mean we should avoid befriending sinners to share the Gospel. Rather, the practice of biblical separation is calling us not to partake in their sinful activities. To be like Christ in this world, separation is necessary.
  3. Separation from ungodly people and their activities helps us to delight in God’s Word. This is the message that we read in Psalm 1:1-3, “Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.” Ungodly friends can often be a distraction and hindrance to a Christian’s obedient life. So separation from close affiliation with ungodly people will rid us of distractions from God’s Word.
  4. Separation helps us to be worthy servants of God. To be a faithful and good minister of God’s Word, we must refuse tolerating erroneous doctrines and philosophies. The apostle Paul’s words to Timothy prove this truth – “If thou put the brethren in remembrance of these things, thou shalt be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished up in the words of faith and of good doctrine, whereunto thou hast attained. But refuse profane and old wives’ fables, and exercise thyself rather unto godliness” (1 Timothy 4:6-7).
  5. Separation helps us to be delivered from God’s wrath against unrepentant sinners. Revelation 18:4 affirms that separation will deliver us from sin and also its aftermath – “And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.”
  6. Separation assures us that God will receive us. “Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you” (2 Corinthians 6:17). Though the world and compromising Christians may reject us, the Lord will receive us. Romans 15:7 teaches us that whomsoever Christ receives, He receives them to the glory of God. What a blessing it is for those who are separated from sin and false doctrines to know that they are vessels of God’s glory!
  7. Separation guarantees the presence and fellowship of God. To those who will not be unequally yoked with unbelief and sin, the Lord promises that “I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people” (2 Corinthians 6:16).
  8. Separation guarantees the abiding love and care of God. To the separated Christians, the Word of God promises in 2 Corinthians 6:17b-18 that “I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty”. Those who will separate themselves for the glory of God are promised His unceasing fatherly love and care.

Borrow for Church’s Projects?

church borrowSometime ago, I posted a brief article in my blog (pastorkoshy.info) on “Should a church borrow money to do God’s work?” I noticed last week that there was a response to that article (http://pastorkoshy.info/?p=128&cpage=1#comment-3833). Basically, there are three major claims in that response. Firstly, the blogger says that if it is possible, borrowing from financial institutions to fund a church’s project should be avoided. Nonetheless, he claims that it is alright to borrow from sister churches and from its members. Secondly, he argues that my insistence on not borrowing for church projects limits the church from undertaking bigger projects and hence, it is being narrow-minded. Thirdly, he urges that the church must encourage the members to go on a “journey of faith” and make “faith pledges” to provide for the big projects of the church.

Here is my response:

I am glad you take the position that as much as possible, one should avoid borrowing from the marketplace’s financial institutions to fund a church’s project. I would go one step further to say “No” to borrowing for church ministries. I am aware that several B-P churches have borrowed heavily from financial institutions. Instead of following their worldly wisdom, I would rather heed biblical wisdom on this matter. God’s wisdom declares in Proverbs 22:7 – “the borrower is servant to the lender.” What tragedy it is that the church becomes a servant to its lender! Being financially obligated to anyone can bring about many impediments to the progress of the ministry. For instance, it can slow down other important Gospel work which the church should carry out. So let us be wiser to heed divine wisdom in Romans 13:8 – “Owe no man any thing, but to love one another.”

From the second paragraph of your response to my article, it is apparent that you have wrongly concluded that I “limit the scale of a project or timing of a major undertaking on the basis that the money must first be available”. Please be assured that such a notion about me is far from the truth, especially if the project is perceived to be truly of the Lord. By the grace of God, I have taken leadership in my church to plan and begin several projects even before the church had sufficient money to start them, let alone complete them. In such a case, we sought the Lord in prayer, even with fasting, for all the funds we needed. We thank God that our faith has increased as each of those projects was completed. In those situations, our faith was firmly placed in the Lord who promises to provide for all our needs as we seek His kingdom and righteousness (cf. Matthew 6:33). Not once did we trust in financial institutions, sister churches or any wealthy Christian! This is not to say that sister churches and fellow Christians did not help. Many of them gave very sacrificially and generously to support our ministries; and we continue to receive their cheerful support with thanksgiving to God. But no one was a lender to Gethsemane B-P Church, neither was the church a debtor to anyone, except God.

I also take the view that asking members of the church to “make pledges upfront” is an unwise practice. I am aware that many a church calls their members to pledge funds which they do not have in hand or in their banks. They call it “faith pledge”. In fact, Scripture only teaches us to give from what we have received from the Lord. We only need to encourage members and friends to give from what they have. Certainly, it is wrong to teach people to vow to give what they do not have. Ecclesiastes 5:5 says, “Better is it that thou shouldest not vow, than that thou shouldest vow and not pay” (cf. Deuteronomy 23:21).

On several occasions, I have met Christians who felt very guilty because they could not give what they “pledged by faith”. They presumed that if they pledged “by faith”, they would surely be able to give. Once, I met a man who lost his job and income after pledging a large sum to the church, and as a result, failed to fulfil his pledge. It is so frustrating when pastors and leaders of the church go after the members who “pledged by faith”, saying, “Keep your vows.” Instead, let such churches teach people to give willingly and cheerfully when the Lord provides. If the members pledge to give what the Lord has provided, then it is biblically acceptable. But to urge them to pledge what they do not have, and then hold them responsible for not giving that sum is not a biblical practice.

You charged me with narrow-mindedness and a lack of faith by saying, “I find some of your statements a bit too sweepingly ‘narrow’ and less faith-based.” If you think it is narrow-mindedness to be biblical, then I am. I have no intention to lead my church through the unbiblical broadways of many modern churches. I also believe that prayerful obedience to God’s Word will help us to fulfil all that He wants us to do for Him. As it is said, “God’s work done in God’s way will never lack God’s supplies”. We only want to do all that God wants us to do – nothing more, nothing less. We also believe that without faith in the promises of God, nothing – big or small, can be done for Him. Faith teaches us to abide in the Word, and do all His will. It is not faith to do big things in an unbiblical manner. It is not the magnitude of a project that manifests our faith, but doing all things, big and small, according to God’s Word. May God increase our faith in His Word to attempt great things for Him according to His will.

The Astounding Stories of God’s Transforming Grace

Sixth Anniversary of The Gethsemane Care Ministry
August 9, 2011, (Tuesday),   5.30 PM
Auditorium, 5th Level, SingPost Centre, next to Paya Lebar MRT

Sixth Anniversary of The Gethsemane Care Ministry

August 9, 2011, (Tuesday),   5.30 PM

Auditorium, 5th Level, SingPost Centre, next to Paya Lebar MRT

Make Bible reading a priority

bible reading

Have you been keeping up with the Bible reading program? I am glad to hear from some that they are keeping up with the reading program that I have given out. That is wonderful! Of course, every one has to overcome different kinds of hindrances – laziness, sickness, tiredness, busy school and work schedules, etc. Some have testified that when they have fallen behind the schedule, they took more time during the weekends to catch up with the schedule. That’s real determination and perseverance! “No pain, No gain.” Right?

Here are some tips for you to catch up, if you have fallen behind the schedule.

  • Pray for greater discipline; and seek the Spirit’s help to keep your heart excited toward the truths of God’s Word (cf. Ephesians 1:16-18) .
  • Start reading again from today’s reading. Then whenever you can find time, especially weekends or on Sundays read the portions that you have skipped.
  • Make Bible reading your daily priority. Have a fixed time everyday. It will be good if you can read more on weekends (If possible, be ahead of the schedule, so if you become sick or overly tired in the future, you would not lag behind)
  • Do not procrastinate. Have a “do it now” spirit.
  • Eliminate unnecessary activities to create more time to read the Bible. Cut out certain daily activities which are not important like light reading, TV, video games, internet chats, etc.
  • Get connected with others who are also following the same schedule, and build up mutual accountability. In fact, you can do that by just coming to this blog each week and sharing what you have learned. At least you can indicate your thankfulness to God for the help received in reading the Bible according to the schedule. Or you may request prayers from others, when the going gets tough. Let us encourage one another.

    Should a church borrow money to do God’s work?

    church debtAll the instructions, promises and patterns that I find in the Bible teach me to answer this question with an emphatic, “No.” All my ministerial experience also says the same.

    I find it extremely imprudent to borrow money to do God’s work, because:

    • It portrays our God as One who commands His people to do a work, without providing for it.
    • It expresses distrust in the promises of God that He will provide for His work.
    • It entices the church to rely on rich men and banks for aid.
    • It distracts people from seeking God’s guidance and provision and from being fully dependent on Him.
    • It causes the church to presume that it can engage in any project as long as money is made available through the credit scheme.
    • It brings the church under heavy debt and monetary obligations to its lenders.
    • It allows the church’s programme and plans to be determined and guided by the secular principles and ideologies other than God’s revealed Word of promise and wisdom.
    • It denies a great opportunity to teach its people how to live with contentment and by faith and not on credit.
    • It can bring upon the church relentless stress, unwarranted problems and many distractions from the real path that the Lord would want it to go.

    By God’s grace, in Gethsemane B-P Church, we have so many wonderful experiences of God’s unfailing provisions for all the ministries and ministers of the church. Whenever there were needs in the ministries, whether small or big, we prayed and the Lord provided.

    Just consider a few of the many needs of our church ministries, which the Lord have provided, without the church looking for any kind of loan. We have acquired our Church Resource Centre for S$600,000/-, without any debt. We purchased two lorries for the Gethsemane Care Ministry for more than S$100,000/. We purchased two church vans, the first one for more than S$80,000/-, and the second one for about S$60,000/. We also bought a small van for our mission church in Cebu, the Philippines for about S$ 24,000/- . Just about a week ago, we reached S$500,000/- for the fund to build a church and a Bible college in Ethiopia; and this amount is in addition to S$270,000/- we raised for the purchase of a piece of land there. Today, the church supports 25 people who are in the full-time ministry. The average monthly rental of our church premises is about S$10,000/-. Last year the church’s total annual expense exceeded S$850,000/- , but the  Lord provided us with more than S$ 875,000/-.

    Is it not amazing that a small church of 180 members, could do all these without even borrowing? All of us in Gethsemane know that we are not a group of rich people to meet this kind of huge financial needs in the ministry. Whenever the need arose, we prayed, sometimes even with fasting, and God provided. God is our provider, not banks, nor lenders. We live not on credit, but on His promises. Blessed be His name!

    “The God of heaven, He will prosper us; therefore we His servants will arise and build” (Nehemiah 2:20).

    It pleased the LORD to bruise Him

    CHRIST FAINTING UNDER THE CROSS - DoreIsaiah, the prophet while describing Christ’s sufferings and death wrote, “Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand” (Isaiah 53:10).

    The Actual Cause of Christ’s Death: Father’s Will

    It was God’s will that Christ should die for us. “Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief.” Christ laid His life willingly on the cross that He may please the will of His Father concerning our salvation.

    Normally, people would think of the hatred of Jews, Romans, Judas, Herod, Pilate, etc as the cause of Christ’s death. All these are responsible for their hatred for Christ and for causing Him pain and death. But why would Jesus give into their plot, when He had the wisdom and power to thwart their wicked plan and avoid the cross?

    As Isaiah wrote, Jesus was bruised because it pleased the Lord. Way before His crucifixion, Jesus clearly and passionately spoke about His mission on earth as the fulfillment of His Father’s will. “For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me” (John 6:38). In John 3:16 Jesus said that “…God gave His Son .” Christ’s death was not an accidental event. He knew fully that He must die for the sins of His people because that was His Father’s plan. So Christ said in John 10:17, “Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again.” Jesus yielded Himself to suffer and die on our behalf because it was His Father’s will concerning Him. It will be all the more clear, if we consider His prayer in the garden of Gethsemane as He struggled with the impending death. There, He prayed in submission, “Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but Thine, be done” (Luke 22:42).

    The Apostle Peter’s words to the Jews add further light on the cause of Christ’s death – “Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain” (Acts 2:23). Christ was put to death by the absolute foreknowledge and solemn decree of God the Father, and in this sense “it pleased the Lord to bruise him; he hath put him to grief.”

    The Apostle Paul also spoke of Christ’s death as the Father sparing not His Son – “He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all . . .” (Romans 8:32). The Father did not surrounded His Son with His protective arm, when He was taken to be nailed to the cross. “It pleased the Lord to bruise him; he hath put him to grief.” This, my brethren, was the climax of the Saviour’s woe, that his Father turned away from Him, and put Him to grief. So He cried, “Eli, Eli, sabachthani?” that is to say, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46).

    What great love has God the Father manifested toward us in the sacrifice of His only begotten Son!

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