Pastoral Exhortation

Pastor’s Letter

Written by Rev (Dr) Prabhudas Koshy Sunday, 03 July 2016

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Beloved brethren,

It has been 17 days since my family has been away from Gethsemane and Singapore. My wife Carolyn and I had just returned from India (Friday, 1st July at 10.30am) after spending that many days with my ageing parents. (My children are still with their grandparents, and will return only on 13th July). We also had a wonderful opportunity to get together with the families of my two siblings for the first time. Since I started serving in Gethsemane in 1991, I did not have an opportunity like this to be with my parents, siblings and their families together. So it was indeed an edifying and joyful family get-together.

During the last two Lord’s days, I also preached at the church that I grew up in. This also gave me an opportunity, after almost 30 years, to meet with some childhood friends and relatives with whom I grew up.

Right now, we are getting ready for another 12 days of ministry in Perth. Please pray for us, as we minister in Bible-Presbyterian Church of Western Australia. By the way, Pr & Mrs Andrew Koh are away in Melbourne to minister to the youths in Bethel BPC; so please uphold them in your prayers.

Please consider prayerfully for your spiritual strengthening the following two devotions that I would like to share with you. Till we meet again, the Lord be with you and bless you.

“Unfaltering Faith in God amidst Troubles”

 

“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1).

The psalmist here instructs God’s people concerning how they ought to possess indefatigable faith in God, even when they are encircled by terrors and troubles. The psalmist is not only an example of unfaltering faith, but also an encourager who exhorts fellow believers to put their confidence in God. The psalmist’s confession of God’s goodness towards His people is remarkably invigorating.

Here the psalmist makes three assertions about God which believers should affirm wholeheartedly in their times of troubles. The first truth that we should affirm in the midst of our troubles is that “God is our refuge”. Some have built for themselves what appear to be well-fortified castles with tall, strong walls and thick iron gates, guarded by hosts of strong men with powerful weapons. Yet time and time again, such man-made refuge have been breached by enemies and all kinds of perils. A far superior refuge is the LORD God for all who trust in Him. He is their impregnable refuge. Taking shelter in God is far better than running into manmade shelters. God is our safe shelter!

The second truth that God’s people must affirm always is that God is their “strength”. When they feel weak and defenceless, God is the source of their strength. They can come to Him, and renew their strength. God’s omnipotence provides His people with assurance and motivation to endure their troubles and accomplish all that God has called them to do. Let His people believe that God’s strength is their strength. Let them arise in confidence to fulfil all His good purposes, even when troubles assail them. God is our unfailing strength!

The third solemn truth that God’s people must affirm constantly is that God is “a very present help in trouble”. When trouble is near His people, God is nearer to them than the trouble. He never withdraws Himself from His troubled people. He draws near to His children in their trouble. God is closer to His people than their nearest and dearest family member or friend. He will be with them as their Help. His presence will be nearer than the trouble. He will never be absent from His people. Troubles confronting God’s people are not a sign of God’s abandonment of His people. Rather, they are an opportunity bestowed by God for them to experience the grandeur of His presence. Come, let us sing the forty-sixth Psalm.

“Keep Thy Heart with All Diligence”

 

“Stand in awe, and sin not: commune with your own heart upon your bed, and be still. Selah”(Psalm 4:4).

Man’s experience on earth is such that committing sin is more common than refraining from it. At every provocation or temptation, man finds himself easily in the sway of sin, unless he guards himself with God’s help. In fact, even without any external provocation or temptation, man is found gravitating towards sin. So the counsel given by David is a crucial one to us all. David’s admonition to everyone is: “Stand in awe, and sin not”.

The Hebrew word translated as “stand in awe” carries the idea of trembling within. Some have translated it as “be angry”, suggesting that the apostle Paul had taken his admonition – “Be ye angry, and sin not” (Ephesians 4:26) – from these words of David. There may be some truth in that. David was here addressing men who were trying to discredit him with their vain words and lies (cf. v. 2). His counsel to those restless men was how to abstain from sinning. The best remedy against sin is to “stand in awe”. They ought to tremble with godly fear regarding their sinful conduct and its consequences. Their hearts must be stirred against their sins.

We must take heed of David’s counsel in order to prevent ourselves from sinning foolishly. Let there be always a fear and dread upon our minds, which arise from a sense of divine holiness and justice against sin. There is no greater prevention against sin than a due sense of the presence of the Almighty God who “is angry with the wicked every day” (Psalm 7:11). If we nurture and maintain a holy reverence for our sovereign God’s glory, and a holy dread of His wrath and curse, we will not dare to provoke Him with our sinful conduct. Let us be “tremblers” rather than “triflers” before God.

David’s next advice against sin is to “commune with your own heart upon your bed, and be still”. The proper attitude of awe ought to be nurtured by communing with our own hearts. Teaching ourselves how to think and act in a way that would rid our lives of all sinful conduct is a solemn duty we should not neglect. We must take time to look into our hearts to watch out for any seed of sin germinating within us. We must search our hearts to uncover and remove the roots of our misdeeds, as well as teach our hearts the godly ways in which we ought to walk. To truly nurture our hearts, we must find a place and a time of quietness; hence the need to retire into our chamber (“bed”) and examine our hearts before the LORD.