We thank God for the brethren who joined us at our Watchnight Service last Sunday. The cold weather and incessant rain did not dampen the spirits of all who came, as we had a blessed and meaningful evening on the last day of 2017.
My message for that evening was on the topic, “The Whole Duty of Man” based on Ecclesiastes 12: 13-14. King Solomon, the wisest, richest and most powerful of men, had experienced all that life could offer him (Eccl. 2: 1-11). He could have had anything his heart desired. Yet he lamented at the beginning of Ecclesiastes that “all is vanity” (Eccl. 1: 2).
Towards the end of his life, Solomon’s sobering conclusion on the issue of life was: “Fear God and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil” (Eccl. 12: 13-14).
Our God is a God of love, but He is also our Heavenly Father who will chastise us when we stray into sin (Heb. 12: 7-8). One day we shall all stand before God to give an account of our earthly life. How will we answer before God?
As we end the year, let us resolve to fulfil our “whole duty” by fearing God and keeping His commandments. May He grant us grace to obey Him in the coming year 2018.
o Thanksgiving Testimonies
In line with our Berith tradition, we ended the year with the sharing of our personal testimonies. Almost everyone, including our Sunday School children, went up to testify of God’s gracious dealings in 2017. May the following testimonies of the brethren encourage our heart:
1. Our deacon told the heart-warming story behind the lyrics of the hymn, “Blest be the Tie that Binds” which was written by John Fawcett, the pastor of a rural parish. Fawcett was offered a more prestigious pastorate in London which he accepted because his modest salary was barely enough to support his family of six.
On the day of his departure, Fawcett’s parishioners, despondent and in tears, came to say farewell. Deeply touched by their love for him, Fawcett unloaded the wagon and told the grieving crowd: “We’ve changed our minds! We are going to stay.”
Sharing this story, our deacon thanked God for our little church, and encouraged us to continue loving and serving the Lord together. Though we may be small, the Lord has graciously enabled us to serve Him joyfully, and seen us through yet another year.
2. A sister expressed her gratitude to God for seeing her through four years of theological studies in Far Eastern Bible College (FEBC). To her, the four years had passed so quickly. Soon, she would be returning to serve in her home church. She thanked God that she could now communicate fluently in English, and was able to serve in the children’s ministry. She also expressed her appreciation for the special way the church had cared for her during her period of sickness.
Her testimony, spoken amid tears, reflected her thankful spirit as well as her sadness to leave the brethren who had so lovingly ministered to her. As a church, let us continue to care not only for our students but also for one another: “As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith” (Gal. 6: 10).
o Crowning joy
Our crowning joy on that last night of the year was the salvation of our two Sunday School children who prayed to receive Christ as their personal Lord and Saviour. Right after their conversion, they went up excitedly to testify of their faith in Christ. They shared of the peace and joy in their hearts. How we, as a church, rejoice over their salvation. Truly, there was “joy in the presence of the angels of God” (Lk. 15: 10) as these two little “lambs” were found by the Good Shepherd (Lk. 15: 4-7), and ushered into God’s kingdom that joyous night! We thank God for His work of grace in their young and tender hearts. Let us uphold them in their walk with the Lord – that they may “grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ” (II Pet. 3: 18).
31st December 2017 was a night we will always remember as it was a night we bade a sad farewell to our two beloved students from Batam who have completed four years’ of theological studies in FEBC. We thank God for seeing them through their studies, and enabling them to serve the Lord with us. May we, as a church, continue to support them with our prayers. God willing, they will return to further their studies in May.
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 wisdom, grace and strength to love and serve Him. May the Lord use us as His channels of blessing in the year 2018. Wishing all a blessed and joyous New Year! Amen.