As we celebrate Berith’s 12th anniversary today, let us express our gratitude for God’s faithfulness through the years. Looking back, we thank God for His grace in sustaining our church in her Gospel ministry. The Lord has kindly watched over our little flock and strengthened our hands in His service. Like the psalmist, we declare with grateful hearts, “The LORD hath done great things for us; whereof we are glad” (Ps 126: 3)
Most of all, we give thanks to our Saviour, Jesus Christ Who has redeemed us with His precious blood (I Pet 1: 19). Before our deliverance, we were enemies of the cross (Rom 5: 10). As depraved sinners, we “were dead in our trespasses and sin” (Eph 2: 1), But “God, “who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us”, has directed our hearts to the Gospel and saved us from our sins. Having been “accepted in the beloved” (Eph 1: 6), we have been brought into the family of God. What a wonderful privilege to come under the care of our loving Heavenly Father!
Brethren, we have received much from the gracious hand of our Lord. What are some ways we can respond appropriately to His bountiful blessings?
o Serve the Lord
Even as we rejoice over God’s goodness and grace, let us commit ourselves to the Lord’s service. In every duty, great or small, let us serve God cheerfully and wholeheartedly: “And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; 24 Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ” (Col 3: 23-24). May we consider it our blessed privilege to be in the service of “the King of kings, and Lord of lords” (I Tim 6: 15).
“Let there be joy in this service. Let it not be with the fear of slaves; not as a matter of compulsion and force; not with reluctance, moroseness, or gloom. Let it be a cheerful, happy service; let it be freely rendered, let it be an occasion of joy to the soul. The service of God is a source of the highest joy that man knows” (Albert Barnes). Brethren, let us serve the Lord with a willing, humble and thankful heart.
o Witness for the Lord
One meaningful way of responding to God’s blessings is to witness for the Lord. In Berith, we go out once a month to give out tracts and to share the Gospel. It is my prayer that all of us will participate in this ministry of evangelising the lost – as commanded by our Lord Jesus Christ in the Great Commission (Matt 28: 18-20).
Besides witnessing with our lips, let us also testify of God’s redeeming grace through our lives. The changed life of the believer, with its new perspectives and values, will be a powerful testimony of God’s transforming grace: “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matt 5: 16). Those who see our “good works” will think well of our faith and give due glory to God. These favourable influences may turn their hearts to the Lord. May we do our part to witness with our lips and with our lives.
“The holy, regular, and exemplary conversation of the saints, may do much towards the conversion of sinners; those who are unacquainted with religion, may hereby be brought to know what it is. Examples teach. And those who are prejudiced against it, may hereby be brought in love with it, and thus there is a winning virtue in a godly conversation” (Matthew Henry).
o Love the brethren
Remember the Lord’s commandment to love one another: “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another” (Jn 13: 34-35).
Loving the brethren is a clear mark of our obedience to the Lord. It also marks us out as Christ’s disciples. However, this is not an easy command to obey. We often respond with the excuse, “My brother in Christ has so many faults. I cannot love him.”
One way we can love our fellow believers is to overlook their faults: “Hatred stirreth up strifes: but love covereth all sins” (Prov 10: 12). Another way is to esteem them better than ourselves: “Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. 4 Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others” (Philp 2: 3-4).
Let us check our own conduct for we, too, have our sinful follies which our brethren have to accommodate and accept (Ps 139: 23-24). Be mindful of the “beam” in our own eye rather than the “mote” in our brother’s eye (Matt 7: 1-5). Pray for God’s help to relate kindly and graciously with one another. May the Lord use our sincere love for the brethren to draw others unto Himself.
It is a great joy to recount the Lord’s faithful dealings with us as a church. Thank God for what we can do for Him by His grace. May we be of one mind and one heart in our service for the Lord. Remember that we live in the perilous end times (II Tim 3: 1). Let us put our hands to the work that the Lord has entrusted to us: “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord” (I Cor 15: 58). May the Lord find us faithful and true to our calling. To God be the glory. Amen.