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Pastoral 2014

Without Murmurings and Disputings

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“Do all things without murmurings and disputings.” – Philippians 2:14

We are dissuaded from engaging in two evils, namely murmuring and disputing. Interestingly, the apostle is concerned that some may engage in spiritual activities with murmuring and disputing. In other words, they practise religion without sincerity and joy. When God-given duties are done with murmuring and a disgruntled spirit, such service will be unacceptable. So, all Christians must guard themselves against such evil conduct. Both of those sins must be abhorred and avoided, if our services are to be effective and helpful.

True religion is never merely external observance of duties. Hence, Paul admonished, “Do all things without murmurings and disputings.” All our activities must be rendered cheerfully and willingly. Everything God has given us to do must be carried out with enthusiasm and readiness. Whether one does God’s work alone or with others, one must perform it with a genuine spirit of compliance to His will, coupled with diligence.

Some murmur against God and His servants, like the Israelites in the wilderness when experiencing a time of scarcity. In Numbers chapter 11, we read about them: “And the mixt multitude that was among them fell a lusting: and the children of Israel also wept again, and said, Who shall give us flesh to eat? We remember the fish, which we did eat in Egypt freely; the cucumbers, and the melons, and the leeks, and the onions, and the garlick: But now our soul is dried away: there is nothing at all, beside this manna, before our eyes” (vv. 4-6; cf. Exodus 15:24; 16:7-9).

Others murmur because they are discontented with and envious of the godly men and women whom God uses (cf. Numbers 14:1-4; 16:41; Mark 14:5). There are also some others who murmur because of their unbelief and their bigoted desire to spread their sedition (cf. Luke 15:2; Jude 1:16).

The spirit of murmuring is perilous. The Word of God cautions us, “Neither murmur ye, as some of them also murmured, and were destroyed of the destroyer” (1 Corinthians 10:10). Murmuring is often the result of envy, discontentment, bitterness, pride and unbelief. It results in much evil deeds such as gossip, backbiting, slander, usurping of authority, defiance, sedition, dissension and schism. Murmuring is not just a dispute with man, but also with God! So serve the Lord without any murmur or dispute.

 

A Report on My Visit to Our Mission Fields in Ethiopia

As most of you know, I made a hurried trip to Ethiopia on Thursday night (13th March) to visit our missionary Rev Ephrem Chiracho, who has been unwell for some time. From an email which Rev Ephrem sent to me, I have learned that he has been recently experiencing excruciating pain and numbness on the left side of his body. As I prayerfully considered his situation, I was moved by the Lord to make a quick journey to Ethiopia and encourage our brother and his co-labourers. I thank God that my son, Andronicus, who has been having a month of school holiday, could accompany me. We have been greatly aided by the Lord’s grace; we praise Him for His goodness that enabled us to travel and minister to Rev Ephrem, Pr Engida, Pr Imane. On Sunday, the brethren from Addis Ababa came to Alemgena for a combined worship service, in which the Lord has enabled me to preach the Word. About 60 people attended the worship service.

Rev Ephrem’s condition started to show signs of improvement after being examined and treated by a neurosurgeon in Addis Ababa. He has also been undergoing intense physiotherapy over the last couple of weeks, and he is advised to continue with it. The MRI findings are as follows:

  • Dehydrated upper cervical discs
  • Broad-based irregular disc herniation at C5/6 indenting the anterior cord and right nerve root; narrowing the right neural exit
  • C6/7 left lateral disc protrusion, narrowing the left neural exit
  • Let us pray the Lord will fill him with His grace that he may continue to preach in the churches and also teach in Gethsemane Bible Institute.

Our preachers, Engida and Imane, and their families are generally doing well. However, all of them face unfriendly responses from even evangelical churches, which have been long influenced by the modern Charismatic movement. Our reformed, fundamentalist, separatist stance irks them; and they try to dissuade those who attend our worship services. Because we do not agree with their tongue-speaking and unbiblical and deceptive ‘signs and wonders movement’, they falsely propagate that we deny the Holy Spirit and Trinity. Let us pray for our preachers and church members that they will be steadfast and unmoveable in their faith and service for the Lord.

They are also hoping to obtain two used vehicles – a 12-seater van for ferrying worshippers and a pickup truck (e.g. Toyota Hilux) for transporting goods for the college and also to visit rural areas (where roads are rugged and rough). These can be stationed at either of the Gospel stations (Addis Ababa & Alemgena) to help with their needs. If we can raise about S$80,000/-, they will be able to obtain those vehicles. Let us pray that the Lord will help us reach this sum soon, so that when our Ethiopian missionaries come for the Missionary Conference in June, we can present to them the funds. We thank God that the Ethiopian van fund has already reached almost $50,000/-. Let us pray and also cheerfully give as the Lord enables each of us. We have trusted the Lord for various needs in the ministry, and He has always provided in amazing ways. Let us trust Him, and He will aid us to achieve this task before us. “Our help is in the name of the LORD, who made heaven and earth” (Psalm 124:8). Praise the LORD! Amen.

 

Latest Email from Rev Ephrem Chiracho

Dear Rev Koshy

Greetings in the blessed name of our Lord!

Hope that you have arrived home safely and have returned to your family in good health. I praise God for the refreshing time of fellowship which encouraged our hearts greatly. Once again, thank you for coming with Andronicus. Please convey our gratitude to the Session of Gethsemane BPC and to your family for their willingness to send you both over to visit me during this period of my illness, and also a big ‘Thank You’ to the Church and all Gethsemaneans for their sacrificial support for my medical expenses.

Please continue to uphold me in your prayers as I continue with the treatment. Please convey my regards to your family and the whole Church.

Yours in Christ,
Ephrem