I am reminded during my recent reading of the Bible from 1 Chronicles chapters 1-10 about our rich Christian heritage in God. It is a timely reminder as we have just celebrated our 170th Anniversary last year and will be greying and growing as a church by another year, come September2014. Indeed, a posture of watchful contemplation by looking back at our Christian heritage, looking inside ourselves and looking up to God can remind us about His rich blessings in terms of His watchful preservation of our lives, His wonderful promise of grace as we walk in His ways, and His faithful provision despite our unfaithfulness down this history lane.
In 1 Chronicles 1-10, we read about the detailed record of the lineage all the way from Adam to Abraham, Abraham to Amminadab, Amminadab to King David and then to the Kings of Judah from Rehoboam to Zedekiah. It was useful for me to cross reference to the first chapter of Matthew 1 to see how the genealogy further extended to Christ our Lord. Why were such genealogical records kept in His word? For me, they remind me of who I am when I believe in Him and become an adopted child of God. Indeed, by our own, we do not belong to the lineage. However, in Christ, we become part of the same Christian heritage and will continue to pass that down to our next and subsequent generations as they also accept Christ as their personal Lord and Savior. What a God-given privilege! I recently watched a TV interview with the family of the former senior President Bush about the kind of heritage he has given to them. The grown up children, including the junior President Bush, all echoed the attributes of valour (the senior Bush was a former airforce pilot whose plane was shot down during WWII) and compassion which he brings to the family. This is the heritage that they still live with, witness and hold dearly in their own homes and lives. Locally, our schools organise tours to the different historical sites in Singapore such as Chinatown, Geylang Serai, Kampong Glam, Bukit Chandu etc to remind our children about our national heritage. In the same way, by looking at our Christian heritage, we are drawn to a mighty God who preserves us as witnesses for and worshippers of Him.
You will recall that the quote from 1 Chronicles 4:9-10 motivated the writing of the runaway success book entitled “Prayer of Jabez” which has generated controversies including that of downplaying the place of godly sorrow and the promotion of prosperity message. These same verses however spoke to me about how Jabez came before the Lord with a repentant heart, asking that God would be with him and keep him from evil so that he would not cause harm. It was his attitude that was first right before God who is worthy of his trust to bless and protect him from harm. Whilst our attention may naturally turn to the answered prayer of “greater territory”, it is here that Charles Spurgeon’s words on the prayer of Jabez are apt concerning how often, our weaknesses may point to His strength, “Though the harrow go over and over thy soul, and the deep plough cut into thy very heart; though thou be maimed and wounded, and left for dead, yet if the Spirit of God do it, it is a blessing indeed." The same contrite spirit of Jabez was also seen in the intercessory prayer of Ezra for his people (Ezra 9). The reliance on God’s promise of grace and strength in weakness was what kept Paul focused on his work for the Lord (2Cor12:9). As we examine our own hearts and walk in the Lord daily, may we bring our sins, weaknesses, imperfections, and anxieties before Him who is omnipotent and able to overcome them all in His perfect timing and ways.
One of the saddest parts of the Bible is found in 1 Chronicles 10 which recorded for us the humiliating death of Saul together with his three sons as they were pursued by their enemies. It was stated clearly that he died for his unfaithfulness against the Lord and did not seek Him (1 Chronicles 10:13-14). For me, I am reminded about the Lord’s faithful provision and tender mercies upon me daily despite my lack of gratitude at times and unfaithfulness, such as unkind thoughts and unloving words and actions to others around me including family members, colleagues or fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. Being stiff necked people, we tend to listen to ourselves more than to Him and we want to take control of our own time and lives rather than surrender unto him and draw near to Him. In the book “Hot Tub Religion”, JI Packer mentioned that our walk in the Lord can be very much like an experience in a hot tub. Within this hot tub analogy, our focus is on first meeting our agenda, convenience, and comfort rather than God’s agenda. We need to come back to him before it is too late.
As we look back at our church wide disciple-making journey thus far and will be entering the Mission-in-Focus month in July, let us pause and ponder to take stock. How have we been in terms of embracing newcomers in our midst? In our cell groups, have we encouraged one another to grow in maturity in Christ through our fellowship, bible studies? Have we tried to know each other better and hold each other accountable in our spiritual walk, prayed for one other and then be involved in multiplying this process in others all over again?
Let us not forget our rich past and seek to live out this rich heritage of ours. May God give us love and strength to do so!
Elder Sim Kang