We praise God for a meaningful evening of worship and thanksgiving at our Watchnight Service last Saturday. It is a joy for God’s people to give thanks unto Him for His gracious dealings throughout the year: “So we thy people and sheep of thy pasture will give thee thanks for ever: we will shew forth thy praise to all generations” (Ps. 79: 13). Indeed, as each one of us recounted God’s loving favour, guiding hand and providential care, our hearts rejoiced that He has faithfully kept watch over us who are the sheep of His pasture.
o A right relationship with God and man
We were richly blessed by the testimonies of God’s grace in the hearts of our brethren. A sister gave thanks to God for guiding her to right a strained relationship with a colleague. Deeply troubled over the unresolved conflict, she had not been able to sleep for two nights. But when she committed the matter to the Lord, He showed her that she was at fault. Thus convicted, she initiated a reconciliation and the issue was amicably settled.
We were encouraged by our sister’s determination to honour God. Her testimony has taught us to be prayerful when we face difficult relationships in life. Rather than setting the issue aside, we must, as Christians, deal with conflicts biblically and make peace with our fellowmen: “Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another” (Rom. 14: 19).
One brother not only shared God’s blessings but also apologised for his wrongdoings which were committed many years ago. We thank God for our brother’s tender conscience, and conviction to right his life. Though young in age, his life is an example and encouragement to all of us in Berith. Indeed, we can say to our brother (in the words of the apostle Paul to young Timothy): “Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity” (I Tim. 4: 12).
I am sure our young brother’s simple testimony had touched the hearts of everyone present that evening. Like him, let us check our own lives. Are we guilty of wrongdoing? Have we hurt or offended another? If we answer in the affirmative, let us make right with both God and man. Let us strive to be “blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world” (Philp. 2: 15).
o Spiritual struggles
Besides thanking God, some of the brethren shared of their struggles with the flesh or depraved nature, especially in the area of loving others.
This battle with the flesh is not new to believers. Even the apostle Paul struggled with “the sin that dwelleth in me”: “For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. 19 For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. 20 Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. 21 I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. 22 For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: 23 But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. 24 O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” (Rom. 7: 18-24).
Like Paul, we are conscious that in us “dwelleth no good thing”. Left on our own, we are not able to overcome sin. But we thank God that in Christ and His Gospel, we can have victory over our sinful nature. In verse 25, the apostle shared of his triumph over sin: “I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin”. Our Saviour Who has delivered us from the bondage of sin, will help us resist sin and overcome it by His strength and grace.
The apostle elaborated on this truth in his epistle to the Galatians: “This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. 17 For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would” (Gal. 5: 16-17). In our war against the flesh, we must resolve to yield to the Spirit so that we will “not fulfil the lust of the flesh”.
We are grateful to the Lord for His spiritual blessings at our Watchnight Service. As we start the new year, let us resolve to look to our Lord Jesus Christ for strength to overcome our sinful nature. Let us also determine to get right with both God and man. May the Lord use us as His channels of blessing in the year 2017.