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TAKING CONCRETE ACTION

Dear COA Family,

Our sermon series in Nehemiah this week focuses on the importance of taking concrete action. I would like to summarise God’s word to us through three questions:

1. When is it necessary to take steps of faith?

May I suggest that this is a regular and consistent way of life for us as Christians!

Like a parent seeing a baby first learning to walk, God is delighted when we attempt to obey him in faith, however frail or unsteady our steps may seem! The simple act of trying to live by faith each day is already indicative of our commitment to grow in our walk with God towards maturity.

2. How can we take steps of faith?

First, by obeying God’s commands in our lives, no matter how minor or insignificant our acts of obedience may seem or whether others can see our actions or not. This is otherwise known as integrity of heart.

Proverbs 11:3 says: “The integrity of the upright guides them, but the unfaithful are destroyed by their duplicity.”

Integrity in our actions are the fundamental steps of faith we take to please God as God sees all that we do – even our deeds done in secret.

Second, by serving others in love. The Apostle John writes, “If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.” (1 John 3:17-18)

Concrete actions to provide for the needs of others are demonstrations of true love. When we love in this manner, we are truly living out the love of God!

3. What are the rewards of steps of faith?

Ultimately, all that we do will work for us a reward in the coming age. Jesus continually emphasised the importance of working for our heavenly recompense throughout the Gospels. He even assured us that the simplest acts we do will neither be forgotten nor overlooked by the Father.

“And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones who is my disciple, truly I tell you, that person will certainly not lose their reward.” (Matthew 10:42)

For me, this would be the simple action each day of visiting someone to pray for him and encourage him with God’s word. And I know that God’s promises will be able to build the faith of those who hear!

May we all be encouraged to take active steps this week to please God and bless others!

Have a blessed week ahead,

Rev Ian

GOD AS OUR HEAVENLY FATHER

Dear Church Family,

One of the things I observed about my 8-year-old son is that he has no hesitation in approaching me to ask for what he wants. Whether it is something he wants or activity he wants me to accompany him in, he freely speaks his mind.

As I reflected on this, I realized that I am actually happy that he relates to me in such a way. Of course, some of his requests are not suitable or selfish and self-centered in nature. I have to then take the time to say no and explain the reasons for not granting or delaying his requests. But I am happy that he approaches me freely.

Why is this so?

It is because I know that I am his father, and it is both my privilege and joy to provide for him all that he needs. And I am glad that he recognizes me as his father and turns to me whenever he needs something.

It is the same with our heavenly Father as well.

God is pleased when we come to him as little children to ask of him for what we need and depend on him for our provisions. This is because this is what a father does – care, provide and protect his children.

Jesus says the same thing to us in Matthew 7:11 …
“If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!”

Let us then, in this season of seeking God in prayer, be bold and confident in seeking our Father in heaven for grace to help in time of need. For we know that he is truly our heavenly Father who takes care of us!

God bless,
Rev Ian

A LIFESTYLE OF PRAYER

Beloved COA family,

Prayer is a strange thing.

Like breathing, it should come naturally to us as God’s children. After all, when we relate to with fathers on earth, it is simply talking to them freely and even asking for something we need. Little children don’t hold back when approaching their fathers. I know that mine don’t!

In the same way, Jesus tells us to call on God and relate to Him as our Father in heaven in the Lord’s Prayer. (See Matthew 6:9-13) This means that we can come to God freely when we need!

Yet prayer is also hard work.

Just try praying for just 15 minutes each day. You will invariably find your mind flooded with other thoughts, concerns and distractions. It is difficult to concentrate on praying for God’s will to be done in yours and other people’s lives when your life is so busy and your schedules are packed to the brim!

Which is why we need to discipline ourselves to pray.

Set aside a fixed, quiet time to seek God when you will be least distracted by others. If possible, turn off your cell phone and use physical bibles when referring to Scripture verses so that you are not tempted to reply to a message!

Sometimes, it may be very difficult to do so alone. Pray then with your spouse, family member or a good friend or colleague at work. It is always easier to pray when praying with others. This is why we as Anglicans come together for Morning Prayer each day on zoom (see Diocesan announcements). It helps when we can listen to each other and encourage each other.

Lastly, don’t neglect the regular, short bursts of prayers at different times of the day to God. This can happen during meal times, before you sleep, or when you are about to step into a very important meeting. Such prayers help remind us of God’s presence with us at all times and help us centre on God.

May you have a fruitful time praying and develop a fruitful lifestyle of prayer!

Rev Ian

LETTER TO COA FOR 2022

Dear COA Church Family,

Blessed New Year to all of you!

It is such a joy and privilege for my family and me to join and grow with all of you according to God’s wonderful plan and purpose for us. We are all the more excited as this year is a significant one – in which we are celebrating our 70th anniversary!

The number 70 is a very significant one. In biblical terms, it represents the passing of the baton to a new generation (Psalm 90). It also represents a season of experiencing God’s grace and favour as the nation of Israel were brought back after seventy years in exile. I believe that we can all look forward to and anticipate the blessing of God in our midst. We can do so because our God is a good and gracious God!

Our need for God’s blessings is all the more stark as we witness the world wrecked with a myriad of problems, chief of which is the Covid pandemic which has greatly impacted our way of life. Our church life has been especially affected as we had to restrict the frequency and mode of our meetings. Fervency for God and relationships with one another may have cooled because of the lack of mutual interaction and communication.

Yet in the midst of all of this God is faithful. He says to us in Isaiah 60:
“Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises upon you. See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples, but the Lord rises upon you and his glory appears over you. Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn.” (v1-3)

Church, it is time to renew our call and mandate as the Church on the Hill. It is time for us to come together to seek God’s face so that we can bring the light of Christ to the schools and communities around us. It is time to step in faith into all of God’s will and purposes for us in this season!

With this in mind, our vision for 2022 is “Rebuilding God’s House”. We will go through the Old Testament book of Nehemiah for the first half of the year and the epistle of First Corinthians for the second half of the year to ground ourselves in God’s word. There will also be various initiatives to rebuild and strengthen our marriages, families, relationships with one another and our witness to the world. I urge all of us to open our hearts to God’s Spirit and respond willingly and readily to all that He is calling us to do!

Finally let me end with God’s promise for us:

“No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.” (1 Corinthians 2:9)

There is no conceiving of the extent of God’s power and work in us as we trust in Him! God is the God of the impossible. And He calls us to walk in obedience one step at a time. And that step, however small we may think it is, is able to help us stand and advance in the storms of life.

God bless!
Rev Ian