Monday, February 20, 2017

"Help of my Countenance" (Psalms 42,5, 11; 43,5)

The Psalmist on occasions feels that his soul is downcast..he thirsts for God like a deer pants for the water brooks. He cries out to God day and night and wonders why he does not sense God's presence as before. He remembers days past when he went into the house of God with the multitudes and sang with a voice of joy and praise. So he encourages himself that there is yet hope that God will answer him as before and his soul be lifted up once more - the help of his countenance. God's presence beaming on him is the help of his countenance.

Friday, February 10, 2017

"My Home, the house of Yahweh"

Today I read just one Psalm, one of my favourites, Psalm 23. Very few translations can better New Jerusalem Bible for the Psalms where the first verse in Psalm 23 is translated as "Yahweh is my Shepherd I lack nothing". And also the Lord spoke mightily to me in another verse towards the end, "my home, the house of Yahweh". What does it mean for the Psalmist the house of Yahweh is his home? As for me, it means that the people whom I serve constitute my home, the house of Yahweh. Wherever I am with the Lord's people, there my home shall be. Especially as people gathered for worship. I remember telling one student who expressed surprise when I returned to College after a 2 month break at 7.45am sharp. I said, "I miss worship in Chapel" and I have reached home wherever God's people gather for worship. It does not mean I find it pleasing or easy to dwell in the house of Yahweh.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Psalmist's Sense of Guilt (Psalms 25-41)

This morning I read Psalms 15-41 for my morning devotions. The Psalms have been my refuge in times of health and of sickness. Reading seventeen psalms meditatively takes about an hour but I read it with special attention to verses that I felt spoke to me directly in my immediate context. How wonderful to know that God is there and will make our beds when we are sick. The Psalm does not deal with the reasons why we might fall sick but instead focuses on God's loving care and watch over us as we are bedridden with some illness. A latter Psalm does links the Psalmist's illness with his sins and perhaps that is how the Psalmist perceives his present condition in the sight of God. I am amazed by the number of times over several psalms that the Psalmist acknowledges his sins (25:18), confessing them (Psalm 32) and even feels in one Psalm that his sins are more than the hairs of his head (Psalm 40).

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Prayers Precede God's Works

The church is not a denomination and the denomination is not the church. But living in this world with laws and rules, it is important to have a legal entity by which a church is named or called. Today I brought my home group and two other students (10 altogether) to visit one of SIB first churches in Ranau. It is called SIB Pekan Ranau. The pastor is one of my first colleagues in ministry since 1994. Our families have been friends for over 2 decades. The church members also are not new to me since I have been a pastor of another Ranau church and we had a few combined activities during my time as pastor including the memorable all night prayer meeting on Malaysia Day 2015. Today I preached a message titled "Prayers precede the works of God" and I took the congregation to study the Gospel of Luke from chapter when the people were gathered outside the holy place in the time of prayer when the angel appeared to Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Earthquakes & Tremors

In the past two days I spoke of earthquakes, one on Sunday being one of the signs of the end time and last night I spoke about earth shaking events that would lead the wealth of nations coming into the church. I shared my experience of aftershocks and tremors in Ranau and after 3 months or so without much seismic activity, today at 3,44pm an earthquake measuring 3,4 Richter hit Ranau (see http://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2017/01/31/mild-quake-hits-ranau/). Even for an earthquake of 5,9 that struck on 5th June 2015, tremors and aftershocks are felt for almost 20 months now and can last for several more months. It is very much like God's powerful works and when He acts, His action reverberates around the world as the Gospel mentions, the light shines and cometh into the world and darkness cannot overcome it. God's work is likened to an earthquake because its effects are felt far and wide and it works a deep work in the lives of those touched by the divine.

Isaiah 60:1-7

I think one of the greatest preaching methods is expository preaching and last night I did just that. Expository preaching does not need to be academic or dry or simply historical but it should be lively and relevant as all preaching at the end of the day seeks to edify the hearers. I was invited to preach at the 1st anniversary of a church started by a family friend, one of my first few friends when I joined my homechurch in 1989. The main leaders of my homechurch were there including the Chairman, youth pastor, and even the District Superintendent for KK district. As the service was done before dinner and started 7.10pm I was already very hungry by the time I got up to preach at 8pm sharp. I was determined to preach for no more than 30 mins and I kept up the promise but expounding on 3 or 4 points briefly from Isaiah 60,1-7.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Time of the Lord

Today I bought a new clock for my new village house. I love clocks as some of my students know and they say guru tepati waktu. Yesterday I preached a sermon entitled "the time of the Lord is near" in Malay. I have not preached a sermon in English since I got back in Sabah 30 months ago. But anointing flowed thankfully and I went for almost one hour. And a visitor came up to me and thanked me 4 or 5 times and he mentioned that it was like listening to a lecture (it may not be a compliment) as preaching is not a lecture but I think he meant it as a compliment in the sense that it was informative, interesting and uplifting. Perhaps to him a sermon or homily is usually boring and unrelated to life.