The last event of Bethesda Chapel for the year 2018 was the Thanksgiving Dinner at Harbour Front. Together with our Chinese congregation, we had a gathering of about 320 members and friends. In the short exhortation, we were reminded that there will be times when we feel tired over ministry and we need to look towards one another for encouragement as we serve God. Last sunday, we were challenged to finish well in our Christian race! Focus on the Lord Jesus Christ, casting aside baggage that weigh us down and the sin that entangles us.
About a decade ago, a survey was taken in the United States and it found that every month, about 1,500 pastors were leaving the ministry. This was mostly due to spiritual burnout or discouragement. How about us? We need to guard against burnout too and discouragement.
In Malachi 3:13-18 , we are encouraged that “God knows us and He cares much for all who serve Him”. In that passage is described 2 groups of people.
Verse 13-15 is the category that we would not want to be in. They grumbled against God. Perhaps losing motivation for holy living. And sadly, also losing the eternal perspective. But Verse 16-18 is the category that we would want to be in. These are the ones who fear God, esteem Him, encouraging one another to continue serving God in spite of all the challenges. God takes special notice of the second category.
Looking at verse 16 – 18, we find that twice in verse 16 emphasizes that these people feared God and they esteem His name. To esteem would mean to value and honour highly. We need a revived emphasis on the proper fear of God. Proverbs also reminds us that the proper fear of God causes us to hate evil and turn from it. Fearing God gives us the courage to confront sin and repent from sin. In the new year, may God also help all of us to constantly remember and endeavour to esteem Him in all that we do. To obey Him and please Him as we study His word. To commit to prepare to worship Him on Sundays together and to esteem Him in our worship.
To preserve and keep ourselves on the right track, we need fellowship with like-minded believers in order to stand firm against the wrong ideas that come from the world, the flesh and the devil. If all of us just attend church and leave on Sundays, but we don’t fellowship with other Christians during the week, we will struggle to maintain a Godly perspective in the face of the evil around us. Heb 10:24-25 commands us to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, and not forsaking assembling together, but to encourage one another.
Together, let’s renew our commitment to seek and to serve God better in this new year!
Elder Andrew Lim