Thursday, November 28, 2013




What exactly do we mean by serving God?

Serving God is a mandate and responsibility In the book of Genesis 2 the retelling of creation informs us that God created Man and placed him in the middle of Eden. “Then the LORD God placed the man in the Garden of Eden to cultivate it and guard it.” (v15)  

Subsequently, when God gave Adam a ‘suitable companion to help him’ (v18) - or a ‘helpmeet’ in older translations - it cannot simply be for narrow mutual benefit alone. It is more appropriate to understand this to be God’s plan for Adam and Eve to work and serve God together, to care, work, manage, nurture, make the world flourish and grow in beauty to the glory of God.

It is possible to infer that the command to multiply and have children was so that there would be more helpers and gardeners. Therefore followers of Jesus are not to live for themselves: we are gardeners, carers, workers and stewards, doing good for God’s creation and the larger community.

Serving God is a specific pattern of outward behavior This outward behavior is an expression of inner transformation. To serve God is first to turn away from unbelief and to turn towards the Living God. We see this in the example of the Thessalonian Christians:
1 Thessalonians 1:8-10 For not only has the word of the Lord sounded forth from you in Macedonia and Achaia, but your faith in God has gone forth everywhere, so that we need not say anything. For they themselves report concerning us the kind of reception we had among you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come. 
These believers expressed their service to God as faithful witnesses to the gospel, being dedicated in the face of persecution, and by living exemplary lives of holiness. This is clearly not a shallow modification of behaviour but a deep work of the Holy Spirit.

In another reference, Paul commended these same believers for their sacrificial lifestyle: "...but their joy was so great that they were extremely generous in their giving, even though they are very poor. I can assure you that they gave as much as they could, and even more than they could. Of their own free will  they begged us and pleaded for the privilege of having a part in helping God's people in Judea." 2 Corinthians 8:2-5

Serving God is an attitude of submission The words service, serve, servant, carry varying shades of meaning in Scripture. Sometimes the word refers to any form of help that is generally offered to another person. Other times it refers to a specific duty as in Acts 6:1-3, where we first read about deacons and their ministry of ‘serving tables’.

The point is, to believe in God is to submit and serve him exclusively. Apostles like John, Peter and Paul acknowledge that they are God’s servants. “Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God” Romans 1:1 This is the heart attitude of a servant who knows his God, not a title or social class.

Interestingly, in John 15:15 Jesus said to his disciples, “No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.” All believers serve in the joyful comfort and security of friendship with Jesus.

Serving God is our spiritual worship  “By the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.” Romans 12: 1

God’s gift of salvation in Jesus leads to a new life. A life of righteousness is now our act of worship. “Spiritual worship” or act of worship carries the same sense as ‘service’  in the original language. Above all, service must include righteous living and the pursuit of holiness.

Finally, we are confronted with a choice: Judas and Peter finished differently even when both were in the presence of the same Lord. Only one served God right to the end. If we call Jesus King and Lord, then we are drawn to submit to him and obey him.
Colossians 3:23-24 “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.” 
We all serve somebody – whom are you serving?

Thursday, November 21, 2013

No Other Gods


It is not often that believers admit to being ‘idolaters’ or people who worship idols other than God. But as Tim Keller says, an idol is the one thing other than God that you could not live without. A good thing that has become the ultimate thing is equally an idol.

Moses’ farewell message to the children of Israel before they crossed into the Promised Land is therefore timely advice.
"Take care lest you forget the LORD your God by not keeping his commandments and his rules and his statutes, which I command you today, lest, when you have eaten and are full and have built good houses and live in them, and when your herds and flocks multiply and your silver and gold is multiplied and all that you have is multiplied, then your heart be lifted up, and you forget the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.” Deut 8:11-14 
We are called to worship God alone and not the things he has created or blessed us with for several reasons. Chris Wright's quote comes to mind.

God is to be worshipped because he alone is the living God  Deut 4:39 “Know therefore today, and lay it in your heart, that the LORD is God in heaven above and on the earth beneath; there is no other.” There is no other God but Yahweh, the living God. Because he is the living God, he is able to give us life.

One recurring phrase in Deuteronomy  is, “that you may live.” Eg, Deut 8:1 “Be careful to follow…that you may live.” The only way to meaningful life is to worship the living God.

God is to be worshipped because he alone is worthy God is often presented in the context of his mighty acts. He delivers, he saves, he leads, he blesses. Who else but God is worthy? Ex 20:1 “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.” 

God is worthy of our sole worship not only because other Gods are false, but because he has been good to us. The greatest thing God has done for us is to show us grace and welcome us into his kingdom on the basis of Jesus' death on the cross. The appropriate response to God’s salvation is not merely belief or acceptance, but worship. As God has declared “I brought you out of Egypt; now do not worship other Gods but Yahweh, the LORD alone."

God is to be worshipped because he holds our life in his hand It is true that we love God because he first loved us. But we worship God also because he has the power to determine life and death. Heb 10:31 “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”

It is not possible to worship One whom we do not fear. As Heb 12:29 says, isn't God a “consuming fire.” We are in reverent awe, we are humbled, because God has the power to take our life away. So God warns the Israelites, “If you go after other Gods, to worship and serve them, I solemnly warn you, you shall perish” vs19,20.

Conclusion We note how Israel was often denounced by God’s prophets because she forgot who God was and what He had done. We may keep at our spiritual routines, we go to church, give our tithes, etc. But if God no longer holds the utmost place of importance and no longer impacts our life’s decisions, we have indeed forgotten Him.

May God help us to keep away from idols.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Walking with Jesus

Colossians 2:6,7 Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude. (NASB) 
The message of the Gospel is not merely conversion but transformation. And transformation must lead to visible impact or influence upon our community.This is a long-term view which must be marked by obedience to Jesus who is not just our Saviour but Lord of all. What does such a commitment imply? We look at key words in this scripture passage.

Our Christian life is said to be a ‘walk.’ It implies action, progress, and faithfulness. Though it that may not always be comfortable it is always dynamic and exciting. It also means walking with Jesus, not with the wicked. Such an act refers to the relational aspect of faith. Additionally when we walk we meet others along the way who we can pray for or share the gospel with. In time we may even draw others to join our journey.

To be rooted in God one should delight in God’s word and spend time on it.
Ps 1:2,3 “…but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers.”
We also need to be rooted in the community as little can be achieved if we do not identify with the people we serve. Being rooted in the community allows God’s people to do good in a more profound way. We look for opportunities in times of confusion; we are present to help especially those in need, whether spiritual or material. Although we may not see results overnight, we can persevere. As Covenant EFC's Rev Edmund Chan says, “Think big, start small, grow deep.”

Built up
1 Cor 3:10-13 "According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building upon it. Let each one take care how he builds upon it."

Being built up involves the ministry of a number of people. We are building, yet other faithful Christians also contribute towards building up our faith. The believer must move from being firmly rooted to being built up. To build oneself up in faith is a continuing effort of being established upon the right foundation.

The right foundation is obviously Jesus and God’s Word, but we must not neglect the practical expression of faith as well. The more we walk, the more we trust; the more we are nourished by his Word, the more established in faith we become.

Finally, the believer must express thankfulness or gratitude in all situations. Every situation is either a challenge or a blessing. We need to cultivate a way of looking at things from a different perspective. Very often believers who are walking in Jesus need to recognise problems as opportunities - as in the case of the Allah controversy. By so doing we we express thankfulness. A believer who overflows with thankfulness is evidence of one who is built up in Jesus.

PASTOR RAYMOND KOH is the Executive Director of non-profit Harapan Komuniti.

Thursday, November 7, 2013



In Mt 28:19-20, Jesus commanded us to go and make disciples, baptize converts and “to observe all that I have commanded you” (v20). We believe that the Lord’s Supper and Baptism are the only 2 sacraments that Jesus commanded His Church to observe.

Our Lord himself commanded us to observe the Holy Communion as a memorial, “in remembrance of me” (1 Cor 11:24). The Bible does not provide instructions regarding the actual observance – composition of bread, wine, who should conduct, how frequent, etc - and therefore what is important is ‘discerning’ the occasion (1 Cor 11:25) and participating with gratitude.

Here are other lessons to take home from our Communion celebration. 

We acknowledge that only Jesus truly satisfies  We begin by recognising what Jesus has accomplished. John 6:53-56, Jesus said: “Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you…Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him.”

Eating and drinking are another way to describe participating in God’s drama; we enter into God’s salvation story. The Lord’s Supper tells us only Jesus can nourish us, satisfy us deeply, and sustain us for this life and until he comes again.

We affirm our communion with God and community with one another Observance of the Lord’s Supper is profoundly about communion and community. Communion means intimate fellowship. Community is a group of people living in active meaningful fellowship and sharing things or values in common. Jesus’ death brings us into right relationship with God, and right relationship with one another.
1 Cor 10:16-17 Therefore, my dear friends, flee from idolatry.  I speak to sensible people; judge for yourselves what I say. Is not the cup of thanksgiving for which we give thanks a participation (koinonia) in the blood of Christ? And is not the bread that we break a participation in the body of Christ? Because there is one loaf, we, who are many, are one body, for we all share the one loaf 
  • We are equally welcomed before the Lord The fellowship is a free invitation offering the same meal for all who say yes. The whole bread means we are one though we are many. But this symbolism is meaningless unless we eat and drink and fellowship together. 
  • It teaches us to care for one another Christians who eat together in communion cannot neglect or remain indifferent to one another. The Lord’s Supper reminds us of the importance of forgiving one another, caring for one another, and supporting the body towards life and growth in Christ. We are one body in Christ, one with each other, with responsibilities towards one another. 
  • It gives us grace to bear life’s tragedies While we remember how Jesus death has saved us from God’s wrath, his victory over death and all its symbol of hope and triumph does not make the tragedy less painful. Before there is relief, there is need for endurance. Being in community we find grace to bear each other’s pain. Gal 6:2 Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. 
  • It is a hint of what heaven will be like  When a person accepts Jesus Christ, he or she becomes a member of the Church, the true invisible Church, and is automatically engaged to Christ. A caring community of forgiven sinners from all walks of life reminds us what true community is intended to be.
May God grant us grace to be a community that glorifies His name!

DAVID TAN is Chairman and Elder of Hope EFC and the proprietor of an advertising agency.