Theme for Year 2017

Occupy Till He Comes
Watching, Praying and Serving

This year’s church theme is taken from Luke 19:12-30.

“And he said therefore, A certain nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom, and to return. And he called his ten servants, and delivered them ten pounds, and said unto them, Occupy till I come. But his citizens hated him, and sent a message after him, saying, We will not have this man to reign over us. And it came to pass, that when he was returned, having received the kingdom, then he commanded these servants to be called unto him, to whom he had given the money, that he might know how much every man had gained by trading. Then came the first, saying, Lord, thy pound hath gained ten pounds. And he said unto him, Well, thou good servant: because thou hast been faithful in a very little, have thou authority over ten cities. And the second came saying, Lord, thy pound hath gained five pounds. And he said likewise to him, Be thou also over five cities. And another came saying, Lord, behold, here is thy pound, which I have kept laid up in a napkin: For I feared thee because thou art an austere man: thou takest up that thou layedst no down, and reapest that thou didst not sow. And he saith unto him, Out of thine own mouth will I judge thee, thou wicked servant. Thou knewest that I was an austere man, taking up that I laid not down and reaping that I did not sow: Wherefore then gavest not thou my money into the bank, that at my coming I might have required mine own with usury? And he said unto them that stood by, Take from him the pound, and give it to him that hath ten pounds. (And they said unto him, Lord, he hath ten pounds.) For I say unto you, That unto every one which hath shall be given; and from him that hath not, even that he hath shall be taken away from him. But those mine enemies, which would not that I should reign over them, bring hither, and slay them before me.”

What does “Occupy” mean?

The word “occupy” can have several meanings. It could refer to one occupying a space (seat, position, house, land or country), or taking care of a given role (in the home, school, office, or social status) and take responsibility for or reasonable care of it. It simply means to take what you have been given, and put it to work, put it to good use. If you have money or are in business, one would expect the money to multiply or the business to flourish. We do not expect anyone to do nothing with money or with the business.

…take what you have been given, and put it to work, put it to good use.

When Jesus Christ was teaching His disciples in this parable, He did not mean for them to “sit down and do nothing till I come back.” Surely the Master in the parable who gave 10 pounds to his servants did not expect them to idle away with what he gave to them. He expected them to keep busy with what they have, to be productive and be successful with the pound that he gave them.

Our Saviour and Lord Jesus has given each one of us a ‘pound’ too; a talent, a gift, a skill. What does He want us to do with what He has given us?

As Herald enters its 13th year in Guilin Building, we could get very comfortable because we have paid back our bank loan, and only have not a big amount to pay in terms of interest-free loans. But, what are we doing to occupy ourselves as we look forward to Christ’s second coming?

How should we occupy ourselves?

1) We Need to be Watchful

To be watchful means to stay awake and not fall asleep; to be sober and vigilant, to be on guard; to take heed, to be alert, cautious, to be aware of what is happening around us.

“Be sober, be vigilant, because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour”
1 Peter 5 : 8

When Christ knew that He was about to suffer the death on the cross, He brought His closest disciples to the Garden of Gethsemane, and asked them to watch along with Him. He watched to be prepared for the biggest event in His human life on earth. But His disciples fell asleep. They did not watch. They did not prepare. As a result they failed miserably. They fled when their Master was taken away by the soldiers. (Matt 26:56; 69-75; Mk 14:50-52)

To be watchful requires one to be physically alert. We cannot slouch and be in a lazing position when we are being watchful. I cannot imagine our NS men in a relaxed position with rifles in their hands when they are supposed to be on guard duty! When we walk around in our airports or MRT stations, we seriously do not wish to see our NS men walking about casually when they are supposed to be watchful – for suspicious characters, for terrorists, and other possible dangers.

The Apostle Peter warns us in 1 Pet 5:8 “Be sober, be vigilant, because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8). Staying aware of the role of Satan and his demons enables us to understand the atrocious evil and madness of this world. It also enables us to “resist” them (James 4:7).

2) We Need to be Prayerful

I believe Jesus was not only expecting His disciples to be physically watchful, but spiritually watching.

Matt 26:41 “Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

Luke 21:36 “Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man.”

What did Jesus do while watching? How did He prepare Himself for the death on the cross? Christ watched and prepared Himself spiritually. He went into intense prayer. He agonized in prayer (Lk 22:41-44), and prayed more earnestly, such that His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground. Christ’s watching is about spiritual preparation. Rev 16:15 tells us “Behold, I am coming as a thief. Blessed is he who watches, and keeps his garments, lest he walk naked and they see his shame.” Christ wants us to be spiritually prepared for His return no matter how sudden and unexpected it may be in our lives.

We are entering into perilous times as we look around the world of so-called human civilization. As we see how more and more people are going round killing innocent people, we realize we are not becoming better human beings. Therefore we need to be praying for our families, our nation. We need to be watchful mentally. We need to study God’s Word, to learn and apply His Word into our lives, and not to waste our time and life on trivial and temporal things, mundane and materialistic things. We should decide for ourselves, and teach our children not to vegetate in front of the TV or computer or mobile devices seeking entertainment from endless and meaningless programmes or activities.

We need to study and meditate on God’s Holy Word – the Bible.

We need to guard our minds from wrong teaching or wrong influences that cause us to stray away from God’s Holy Word – the Bible. We need to study and meditate on God’s Word which will help us make wise and correct decisions in our daily lives. God wants us to know His Word well so that we are able to cope with the major geo-political, cultural and spiritual issues and events of our time. Let us not be like the Sadducees and Pharisees who were rebuked for their hard-hearted mindsets. Their pride of their so-called knowledge of the Old Testament and evil attitudes did not enable them to discern the signs of their times or to realize the Messiah had come (Matt 16:1-3).

If you have not started on regular Bible reading or Bible Study, start by picking up a copy of the DAILY Manna for daily reading. If you have not started praying consistently, join us at 8.00 pm every Thursday evening, and together we can pray the needs of individuals, families and the church. Register as a faithful prayer warrior in our Prayer Chat Group…and exit from meaningless chat groups which do not edify the soul or glorify God.

3 ) We Need to Serve Him Faithfully

We can serve Christ faithfully by being watchful in our homes, our schools, our offices, and in our church. We should ensure that we and our children know God’s Word well so that we will not fall into the trap of evolution or other heretical teachings. We should strive to be the “light of the world” as Christ taught in Matthew 5:14, and to be godly examples in a sinful world. We are to be Christ’s faithful witnesses to a world which persists in their unbelief of God and their rejection of Christ. We must be prepared to give Biblical answers to the world’s questions (1 Pet 3:15), and help unbelievers to understand world events from a Biblical perspective.

Even if you have only one talent, let God help you multiply it for His glory.

We can serve Christ faithfully by going into the world and preaching the good news to every creature (Mk 16:15). We should continue to support and be a part of the Great Commission of sharing the gospel of the kingdom of God (Mk 1:14). We can faithfully pray for a loved one, a relative, a friend or colleague, a neighbor or acquaintance…and invite him or her to the Evangelical Night 2017 on 4 March. May we all be instrumental in bringing others closer to salvation in Jesus Christ.

We can serve Christ faithfully by using what we have for Christ’s sake. Let us give of our gifts, possessions, talents and time for the furtherance of the gospel work. Even if you have only one talent, let God help you multiply it for His glory.

Psalm 127:1 says: “Except the Lord build the house, they labour in vain that build it: except the Lord keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain.” Truly, we can be busy building a home, a career or business, a relationship; but if the Lord is not with us, all our busyness will come to nothing.

For 2017, let us be challenged to be watchful, prayerful and faithfully serve Christ as we occupy ourselves till He comes again.

Pastor Bob Phee

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