Pastoral 2014

Prayer in Affliction & Praise in Jubilation

Written by Rev (Dr) Prabhudas Koshy Sunday, 06 April 2014

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“Is any among you afflicted? let him pray. Is any merry? let him sing psalms” – James 5:13

In a local congregation of believers, a variety of experiences may be found at a given time. While some people experience severe afflictions, others are presented with reasons for jubilation. It is also true that all alike are subject to afflictions and happiness. Both those types of experiences can be in different persons or in the same persons at the same time. And sometimes, change from one extreme to the other can happen suddenly.

Extreme circumstances, occurring among people whom we love earnestly, can affect our thinking. With varying events, our emotions will also rise and fall accordingly. Such divergent experiences in our congregations would make us wonder who we should attend to and how we should respond to those situations. As a matter of fact, such extreme situations can happen simultaneously or successively in our church or personal lives.

Christians are urged to carry out their corresponding duties in those varying circumstances. Appropriate spiritual responsibilities, which are mentioned in our text, have to be discharged readily. If we readily carry out our biblical duties, we can minister to people in varying circumstances in the most befitting manner.

Afflicted? Then Pray!

What should we do when we find others or ourselves in trying circumstances? The apostle James advises us to pray. “Is any among you afflicted? let him pray.” We should pray, asking God for the wisdom we need to understand the situation and manage it to bring glory to His name (cf. James 1:5). We can pray for His grace to endure troubles (cf. 2 Cor. 12:7–10). We can also pray, if it is His will, that He will remove the troubles. Through prayer we not only communicate to God our needs, but also commune with Him. One of the major divine purposes of our afflictions is that we may draw closer to Him in prayer.

God has designed our afflictions to lead us to the throne of grace. Is there a better experience than drawing near and communing with God? From “broken cisterns, which can hold no water”, to “the fountain of living waters”! From gloom and sorrow to peace and exultation! What a happy outcome of trials, if we are led by our trials to seek God in prayer.

Happy? Then Sing Psalms!

What should we do when we find others or ourselves in a situation of joy and gladness? James says, “Is any merry? let him sing psalms.” Psalms are thanksgiving, worshipful songs to the Lord. Singing psalms to the Lord is the most preferred way of praising and worshipping God for all His benefits in our lives. Joyful experiences are given to us so that a worshipful spirit may be built up within us. While afflictions are sent to teach us to pray, happiness is bestowed that we may learn to praise Him.

In times of joy, we must exercise much care not to conduct ourselves irreverently before the Lord. Excitement should not result in mindless, unholy celebrations. In our joys, we should not be like the worldly people. We should not be singing and dancing to worldly music. Our hearts and lips should glorify the Lord with psalms. Our mirth must not be the unbridled expressions of a godless mind. The right response to our joys is the praise of God, who blesses us with all good things.

What if you can’t sing well? Learn from an old saint, Thomas Fuller, who had a defective voice and yet did not refuse to praise the Lord. He said, “Lord, my voice by nature is harsh and untunable, and it is vain to lavish any art to better it. Can my singing of psalms be pleasing to Thine ears, which is unpleasant to my own? Yet, though I cannot chant with the nightingale, or chirp with the blackbird, I had rather chatter with the swallow than be altogether silent. Now what my music wants in sweetness, let it have in sense. Yea, Lord, create in me a new heart, therein to make melody, and I will be contented with my old voice, until in due time, being admitted into the choir of heaven, I shall have another voice more harmonious bestowed upon me.” So let it be with us. Let us ever sing in the same spirit and in the same joy and hope.

 

Another Gospel Door in Kuching, Sarawak
Prabhudas Koshy

Early on Monday morning, I set out on my very first journey to East Malaysia. It was an opportunity that came through Rev Lee Kim Shong (Calvary Jaya BPC, KL). Our initial plan was to travel together to Kuching and meet with a Bro Jeremy Teo, who has been calling for reinforcement to start an English worship service in his home city of Kuching. However, a couple of days before our journey, Rev Lee informed me that because of the sudden demise of his father-in-law, he would not be able to go with me. Though I was a little disappointed that Rev Lee could not go with me, I plucked up courage to strike out on my own, believing that if it is the Lord’s business He would be with me and guide me. What also helped in my decision to go ahead with the planned journey was that our host, Bro Jeremy, was someone I had met in 1991 in Hope B-P Church, Adelaide, Australia. Jeremy was then a young overseas university student worshipping in Hope BPC, during which he also attended a youth camp in Adelaide, where I ministered God’s Word. I was glad that I could meet him again after 23 years. Jeremy also made a special effort to encourage me by email to follow through with the planned visit to Kuching.

Jeremy was at the Kuching airport to receive me. He then drove me to his house, where I stayed for two days. Jeremy is married to Nikki and they have three young boys. Jeremy’s brother, Terence, is also a believer. When I met Terence, he appeared very familiar to me. Then he told me that he had been in Hope BPC, Adelaide, in 1995 when I was their church camp speaker. Both of them are keen to see an English service begin there, and are praying for the same. In our conversation, it was very clear that their doctrinal convictions are just like ours. Like us, they too whole-heartedly stand for Reformed, Pre-millennial doctrines. They also believe and confess the verbal, plenary inspiration and preservation of the Hebrew and Greek Scriptures underlying the King James Bible.

Let us pray that the Lord will help us to co-labour with Calvary Jaya BPC (KL) to start an English ministry in Kuching. Let us also pray for a faithful preacher to labour in this place. Presently, under Calvary Jaya BPC’s supervision, a Chinese preacher, Pr Ling Soon Ing, conducts Chinese ministries in Kuching, and the nearby cities of Sibu and Miri. Pastor Lee Kim Shong and Elder Chan Wan Fook from Calvary Jaya also frequently visit to minister to the Chinese congregations in those places.

Some facts about Kuching

Kuching is the capital and the most populous city in the state of Sarawak, East Malaysia. The city has a total population of 681,900. The state of Sarawak has a population of over 2.4 million. Miri, the next biggest city in Sarawak, has a population of 358,020 (source: the official portal of the Sarawak government: http://www.sarawak.gov. my/en/about-sarawak/demographics).