Tuesday, December 13, 2016

All My Delight (Psalm 16:3)

As for the saints who are on the earth, they are the excellent ones in whom is all my delight (Ps 16:3). This morning I chanced upon this verse and straightway I felt the Lord speaking to me and assuring me that all my travels are not in vain. I draw energy from the saints and wherever I go I take delight in the Lord's people and it has been a great joy serving with them and preaching God's Word in their midst. I will declare Your Name to my brothers and sisters; in the midst of the assembly I will praise You (Ps 22:22). Often I feel tired from the journeying and last Saturday evening was no different. Having begun the journey from Kota Kinabalu at 12:30pm, we reached our destination at sun down after more than 5 hours on the road with a couple of brief stops on the way. Because we arrived late and straightaway served tea at 6.30pm, dinner was late at 7:30pm. The service started at 8:20pm and first up was the Children's Christmas. I told them when I got to preach at 9:30pm that I was no Sunday School teacher and no story teller for children and I preached a message intended for parents where more than 100 hundred adults attended with 120 children and close to 100 youths. I was invited especially to speak at the Children's and Youths' Christmas services and I could see that without the kids and young people the church would not be half full.
Thank God that in our denomination many youths remain strong in faith especially young girls and women. My wife noticed that when the youths went up the stage on Sunday morning, the first three rows were occupied by girls and with the last two rows were the boys. Again females outnumber the males by 65-35%. We need to address this problem as during Sunday afternoon when I took a walk around the church and the football field, there were many young men playing soccer and if they all come to church, boys and girls should even out.

My best message was on Sunday morning during the main service where everyone in the village turned up. This church is one of the oldest in the area founded more than 50 years ago and the attendance is still high given that four smaller villages nearby also consider this church their own. The final service on Sunday night was especially packed, not because of the speaker but because it has been the church tradition to have lucky draws where more than 30 prizes were given out to those who had bought tickets for charitable causes in the church. This year the main prize was a washing machine and the youth leader told me that a church member donated that and it was all meant for a good cause.

My first message was on being like little children (Luke 18) and why as adults these children's characteristics are precious in the sight of God without which no one could enter the kingdom of God. The second message was on the rich ruler being asked by Jesus to sell all his possessions and the verse that I preached on was "There is one thing which you lacked" and in Malay it was poignant, Masih tinggal satu hal lagi (There is one more thing)...and I preached about giving up that one thing that deters or hinders us from following Jesus fully. Is that an idol in our lives? Desire for wealth? Is that a wrong relationship or hidden sin? Is that refusal to enter into full time ministry when the Lord calls? About 30 people came forward to be prayed for with a few weeping and shedding tears of conviction and repentance. I asked the church pastor to help me pray and it was over in a mere 10 or 15 minutes unlike last Sunday in Sitipang (District level meeting with a larger turnout) where close to 100 people were prayed for with 10 or more pastors in the District assisting.

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