Jurong Outreach

"whom we proclaim, admonishing every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ."


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Despising the Church

“What? have ye not houses to eat and to drink in? or despise ye the church of God, and shame them that have not? What shall I say to you? shall I praise you in this? I praise you not (1Co 11:22).”

The Corinthian Christians had committed the terrible folly of a wrongful approach to the Lord’s Supper, for which the apostle sternly rebuked them. By their behaviour they had looked down upon worship and held the Lord in contempt, regarding the remembrance of His sacrifice as worthless.

A wrongful approach to any act of worship is to despise the church of Christ. As the church is His body (Eph 1:22-23), if we should despise the church, we are in fact despising Him. Let the saints of God keep a watchful eye for other ways we might intentionally or unintentionally despise Him and His church.

HOW MAY THE CHURCH BE DESPISED? 

Forsaking the assembly.

Some unbelievers or atheists ridicule the church as a useless, even despicable organisation. It goes without saying that Christians would not despise the church in this way. But unfortunately a common way Christians despise the church is by forsaking the assembly. “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching (Heb 10:25).”

When we forsake the assembly we are declaring to the world that “worship is not important. It is good to go to church when you feel good, the weather is good, and you have no other engagement.” This is despising the church because we would be treating it lightly, according more importance and prominence to other things in our lives. 

Accepting benefits without accepting responsibilities.

Do we partake of the Lord’s Supper in memorial of His blood shed for us, but do not seek the lost to tell them of Him? Do we listen to the preaching of the Word but fail to put it to practice in our daily lives? Do we own copies of the Bible but neglect to study the Word? Do we place our children in Sunday School but treat Bible classes as something less important than the myriad of things clamouring for our attention? Do we conduct ourselves as Christians on Sundays but for the rest of the week live like heathens?

By failing to prepare for worship.

We expect the preacher to be prepared to preach, but how do we prepare ourselves to serve? Song leaders prepare songs moments before service begins; men assigned to serve forget their assignments or are inappropriately dressed. Getting to bed late on Saturday night and feeling drowsy throughout worship on Sunday morning. Treating the church as a club where we meet friends for fun activities. And the list goes on, does it not?

Irreverence during worship.

Fiddling on smart phones and tablets, chatting with friends, walking in and out of the auditorium to answer or make phone calls, and other such like activities that distract from worship reveal the shameful lack of godly fear in many of the saints today.

Not taking doctrine seriously.

There are strangely some who think doctrines do not matter quite as much as living a good life; that the careful and industrious study of doctrines is a painful chore. They want to get to the practical parts. These immature souls do not yet realise that Christian living must be based on sound doctrine.

Unworthy giving to the church.

The ancient Israelites kept the best for themselves and offered the lame, blind, sick and blemished to the Lord (Mal 1:6-8). May we learn the painful lesson from history (cf. Rom 15:4; 1Co 10:11). If every member gives as the Lord has prospered, there would be so much more we could do for evangelistic outreach and benevolence.

RESULTS OF DESPISING THE CHURCH

The results are serious. We grieve the Lord when we despise the church (cf. Eph 4:30). Our spiritual lives weaken, as the Corinthians’ were when they held the Lord’s Supper in contempt. We might also become stumbling blocks to other Christians and visitors who might be considering obedience to the gospel.

We must remain ever vigilant and mindful against any potential action that might cause us to despise the Lord and His church, and recognise how we might have despised the church and then repent earnestly. Thereafter, let us resolve not to commit the error again and to serve with humility, joy and gratitude.

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Brethren, Be Ye Reconciled to God

Jesus Christ has “…made peace through the blood of his cross…to reconcile all things unto himself… (cf. Col 1:20).” We are made at one with God by His perfect atonement. By the power of the gospel of Jesus Christ, God saves all who are obedient and puts them in a right relationship with Himself (cf. Rom 1:16). This incomparable good news sounds too wonderful to be true, and it is all the more wonderful because it is, indeed, true.

Our sins were washed away (cf. Acts 22:16). When we are raised in newness of life from the waters of baptism (cf. Rom 6:4), we are new creatures in Christ (cf. 2Co 5:17; Gal 6:15) – redeemed to walk in the faith and good works (cf. Tit 2:14). No longer do we march to our own drumbeat or the world’s. The divine pattern of the New Testament is now our compass and roadmap on the pilgrimage to heaven.

We look ahead at the glory which shall be revealed in us; all our trials, sufferings and tribulations are nothing by comparison (cf. Rom 8:18). We lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and we run with patience the race that is set before us (Heb 12:1). There is now purpose in our lives. “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me (Gal 2:20).”

However, there are times when we trip. Times when the wiles of the devil are so strong and we feel overwhelmed. Times when we just simply give in and gratify the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life (cf. 1John 2:26). Times when spiritual drowsiness clouds our eyes and we let down our guard. Times when discouragement gets the better of us and we wonder, “Why press on?”

Like Adam, shame of having transgressed the perfect law of liberty (cf. Jas 1:25) sets in and hits us only when the deed is done. The sense of peace is lost. Our conscience condemns us. Sometimes we try to crowd out the guilt and shame by indulging in busy activities but it is all an exercise in futility.

But there are those whose consciences are seared with a hot iron (1Ti 4:2). They experience no guilt, no sense of shame, perhaps only a touch of embarrassment if others found out their deeds. They make excuses, which is nothing but vain attempts at self-deception. They justify themselves by these excuses so much they actually believe them to be true.

Of these poor souls we have not much more to say. They shall have to give an account on that Great Day (cf. Rom 14:12; 2Co 5:10). For our part, we can only pray that they might come to their senses and cease not to warn them night and day with tears (cf. Acts 20:31).

What of those who experience the pangs of guilt in realisation of their sins of either commission or omission? The good news is that our heavenly Father provides a way out for His errant children.

“But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1Jn 1:7-9).”

David says, “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise (Psa 51:17).”

He says in another psalm, “The LORD is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit (Psa 34:18).” The mercy and compassion of the Lord is super-abounding. Let no one doubt that He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Shall anyone continue in unrepentant sins? Brethren, if you have transgressed the law of Christ and have yet to be reconciled to the Father, it is time to come home and make peace. So let us “come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need (Heb 4:16).”


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DISCOURAGEMENT

Discouragement is an emotion common to all of us, regardless of one’s ethnicity, cultural and/or religious backgrounds and upbringing. A misleading thought and surely one that has caused much grief among the children of God is that we are immune to trials and tribulations. This is not the case; we learn certainly from the book of Job that sufferings befall the righteous and wicked alike.

What is discouragement? To put it simply, it is to find one in a state where courage, hope and confidence so essential to face the challenges of life are lacking or missing. Discouragement, when not dealt with, could lead to further complications: physical illness, lack of appetite, inability to sleep well, loss of interest in usual activities, withdrawal, etc. Discouragement is a very real and present part of life but with awareness we can prevent it from overtaking us.

CAUSES OF DISCOURAGEMENT
There are many causes for discouragement, and no two persons experience it quite the same. Some of the common causes are the following:

Threats to one’s well-being, whether physical, emotional or mental.
David experienced discouragement when his son Absalom staged a rebellion against him and he was forced to flee Jerusalem. “LORD, how are they increased that trouble me! many are they that rise up against me. Many there be which say of my soul, There is no help for him in God (Psa 3:1-2).”

Loss of health, security, property, loved ones, opportunities, etc.
Job was depressed when he lost everything. “After this opened Job his mouth, and cursed his day. And Job spake, and said, Let the day perish wherein I was born, and the night in which it was said, There is a man child conceived… Why died I not from the womb? why did I not give up the ghost when I came out of the belly?… For now should I have lain still and been quiet, I should have slept: then had I been at rest… (Job 3:1-3, 11, 13).”

Unmet expectations.
The disciples had very much expected Jesus to restore Israel to its past glory.
When Jesus was arrested, their courage left them and they fled. “…Then all the disciples forsook him, and fled (Mat 26:56).” They were actually hiding in fear when the resurrected Lord appeared to them. “Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you (John 20:19).”

DEALING WITH DISCOURAGEMENT
When discouragement comes as a result of sin, the only remedy is repentance. Realisation of sin ought to generate godly sorrow, the awareness that it is God whom we first and foremost sinned against. Godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of (2Co 7:10) and repentance and confession of sins are conditions for forgiveness. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1Jn 1:9).”

We can better deal with discouragement by altering our attitudes.
Much discouragement happens because we are overly sensitive, overly concerned about our feelings. Some may stop serving or even quit the faith because his or her feelings are hurt. It is a form of creeping pride to put our feelings above Christ and the cause. Put Him first and others second, serve the Lord and other people.

“For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he (Pro 23:7).” Be careful what goes on in our minds and what intellectual food we partake. “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things (Php 4:8).”

Be realistic. Things cannot possibly happen as we’d like them to every single time. It also takes time to resolve problems and difficulties. Be realistic and patient with yourself and others.

Remember the Lord cares. Jesus our Lord gives us assurance of His care. “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me (John 14:1).” “Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you (1Pe 5:7).” We read earlier in Psalm 3 about David’s discouragement. But in the same psalm David went on to say, “But thou, O LORD, art a shield for me; my glory, and the lifter up of mine head. I cried unto the LORD with my voice, and he heard me out of his holy hill. I laid me down and slept; I awaked; for the LORD sustained me. I will not be afraid of ten thousands of people, that have set themselves against me round about (Psa 3:3-6).”

Hold fast to the end. Peter encourages the saints in times of trial to hold fast. Look toward the coming of the Lord. “Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls (1Pe 1:6-9).”

Our caring Father provides a way out for us. We have no reason to allow discouragement to defeat us. Lean on Him and trust in His promises. “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it (1Co 10:13).”