The Herald Weekly Vol XV : 24

Revive, Refresh, Renew

The 42 members and friends who attended the 1-day Bible Conference at the YMCA on Friday, 9 June 2017, were much blessed by the messages delivered by Rev Tang Chee Keong (associate pastor, Zion Presbyterian Church). We thank God for the precious lessons gleaned from Romans 12 in relation to the theme for the Conference, “Revive, Refresh, Renew”.

Below is a summary of the important points which Rev Tang shared with us:

I Revival in a Christian’s life must begin with our relationship with God, and our commitment towards Him.

A. Basis of commitment (Rom 1-8)

The centre of a Christian’s faith should be Jesus Christ. His whole perspective of life will have meaning only when his life’s focus is Christ alone. C T Studd is known for this famous quote: “Only one life twill soon be past; only what’s done for Christ will last.”

Do we truly know Jesus Christ as our Lord and Master?

B. Character & nature of our commitment to God (Rom 12:1)

The Apostle Paul says “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.” Our commitment to Christ involves a life characterized as:

  • A living sacrifice – consciously living sacrificially for Christ’s sake
  • Holy – a life sanctified by the death of Christ; completely without blemish
  • Acceptable by God’s standards
  • Reasonable service – living a life that is expected of us, and nothing to boast about.

C. Demands of commitment (Rom 12:2)

“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.”

1. A committed Christian must not be conformed to the world (“Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” 1 Jn 2:15)

Christians need to be careful not to follow the world’s ways. It has been predicted many years ago that the Church of God will encounter a crisis. This involves the Church becoming worldly. It will not pay importance to God’s Word. Preachers will only preach what men want to hear, not what God wants to say. The Church will move towards dilution in its theology, using worldly standards to do the things of the church.

2. A Christian’s mind must be transformed by God’s Word. When his thinking is changed by God’s Word, then his practical life will display what is good and acceptable before God. Thus, we must show the importance of God’s Word in our homes, work and leisure.

Question: How much does God’s Word mean to us – at home, at work, at play? Are we becoming like Christ more and more? Are we loving Him more & more, serving Him, and giving to Him more and more?

D. Results of commitment

When we are committed to God, then we will be able to prove, to know, to test what is God’s perfect will for our lives. At the end of our life, will we be able to say that we have achieved success? How do we measure success in our lives? Is success measured according to what we possess, the positions we hold? Is success determined by status or wealth?

A Christian should measure success in life according to his knowledge of God’s will and obeying it. Christ said in John 17:4, “I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do.”

Some people regret serving God too late. David Livingstone loved the Lord so much that when he died, the Africans he ministered to took out his heart and buried it in Africa. His body was later buried in Westminster Abbey in London. Someone said, “the best and safest place in the whole wide world is to be in the will of God.”

Eric Liddell, a Scottish athlete, was placed to run the 100 metres for the Olympics but the heats were held on a Sunday. As a devout Christian, he decidedly said he did not want to run the heats, much to the disappointment of his countrymen. He chose his religious beliefs over competing in an Olympic race held on a Sunday. Instead he competed in the 400 metres held on a weekday, a race which he won. He returned to China in 1925 to serve as a missionary teacher. Aside from two furloughs in Scotland, he remained in China until his death in a Japanese civilian internment camp in 1945. Indeed, he was a great inspiration to many Christians. (His grave marked by a wooden cross was forgotten until it was rediscovered in 1989, in the grounds of what is now Weifeng Middle School in Shandong Province, in NE China). He died due to overwork and an inoperable tumour in his brain. When a nurse asked him if he had any regrets, his last words were “It’s complete surrender”, in reference to how he had given his life to God. And in his pocket they found the lyrics of the hymn:

“Be still my soul, the Lord is on thy side;
Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain;
Leave to thy God to order and provide,
In every change He faithful will remain
Be still my soul, they best, thy heavenly Friend,
Through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.”

II Refresh our minds in the Lord

Rom 12:3 exhorts every Christian “not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.”

Our God is sovereign, and His will and ways are often not like man’s. He used people like David (who committed adultery, and murdered Bathsheba’s husband); He loved Jacob (who cheated his brother, Esau, of his birthright, and blessed him to be the father of many nations). By His grace, Saul the persecutor of Christians was used by God to preach to the Gentiles.

Rom 12:4 tells us that God has endowed different people in the church with different gifts. And all these gifts are given through God’s grace. Indeed, it is by God’s grace, we are who we are or what we possess. From another viewpoint, all that we do not have is also by God’s grace.

The Acronym GRACE means God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense.

The modern society promotes “Selfism”. Photos in i-phone are full of selfies. Our lives can be very much about the self, the ego, the I, Me, and Myself (IMM). Almost everyone’s Facebook pages are full of pictures of self. This is very much in line with the New Age Movement which promotes the idea that “we can be God”.

Rom 12 reminds us that all good things come from God (as we often sing the Doxology – Praise God from whom all blessings flow). But we still sometimes forget about God. King Nebuchadnezzar forgot who God was, and he became so like an animal. He was later restored to his original position as king only when he remembered God.

Our Sovereign God causes the sun to shine on the good and bad, and the rain to fall on all. This is God’s common grace to all. But God showers special grace to all those who are called to salvation in Christ. But He also wants us all to see ourselves in the right perspective:

1. See ourselves soberly

God wants us to know the Measure of our faith. Every Christian expresses his faith in God in different ways. Heb 11 records for us how the patriarchs of old expressed their faith in God differently. Noah showed his faith in God and obediently built an ark; Abraham left his parents’ home, obeyed God and headed towards a place he was not even sure of. Isaac and Jacob also looked to live in a strange country because of God’s promise to their forefathers. We need to see ourselves correctly. We live in a society which compares all things….results, behaviour, performance. How do we measure up in faith when compared to the saints of the past?

2. See ourselves consciously

We need to ask ourselves whether we can serve the Lord, or prefer to be lazy in the church. We sometimes need to know that we cannot do certain things, and yet go ahead to do it – are we trying to be smart alecks?

3. See ourselves humbly

We also need to remember John the Baptist’s example in his ministry. He knew his position in relation to Jesus Christ. He said, “He must increase, and I must decrease.” Similarly, when we serve the Lord, it is not for vainglory, not for self, but for the glory of God.

Thus, every one of us needs to know that we are members of Christ’s body, the church. The church consists of the:
1. Unity of members – everyone in the Body of Christ working, consciously or unconsciously
2. Diversity of members – everyone has different functions and roles

The lyrics of Timothy Dwight’s hymn “I love thy kingdom, Lord” can teach us how to love and serve the Lord:

I love thy kingdom, Lord.
The house of Thine abode,
The church our blessed Redeemer saved
With His own precious blood.

(for the complete lyrics of I “Love the kingdom”, please refer to Hp 179)

III Renewed in the Lord

A committed Christian has a good understanding of God’s grace, and can experience renewal in his or her ministry in the body of God. When there is full commitment, serving God is no longer a chore or done reluctantly; rather service is a choice, and serving God is done willingly.

Rom 12:6-13

God gave to the church different gifts and different functions for the glory of God. Our God-given talents are not to be a showcase to exhibit how good we are. Rather, we are to use them, or to exercise them for His glory. When we do not use them and bury these gifts, God will dispose of them. The talents will be reduced, or eventually taken away.

Vs 6-8 tell us of 7 kinds of gifts in the church, including prophecy and teaching. The teaching and preaching of God’s word must be responsible. Ministering in God’s church requires undivided commitment to serve. If we can exhort others or encourage others, we ought to do it persuasively. If we give to the Lord, we should give with simplicity (honesty, generously). Give towards things which have eternal value; give till it is painful, and until it is no longer painful to give. If you rule, then rule diligently; if you show mercy, do it with cheerfulness. Whatever God has given to you to do, do it with love; then serve God honestly, without hypocrisy. Serve as Christ did. He gave His life for us sacrificially and unconditionally,

Put others first, honour others. Minister with God’s love; serve God with zeal and fervency. Rejoice in hope; be patient in tribulation. Be faithful in prayer, consistent in service.

May the Lord enable us to be a blessing to someone today.

Pastor Bob Phee

Click here for the recorded message
Click here for the responses from participants

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