I ended the year 2020 with preaching until 5 minutes to New Year 2021. It's been a year of turmoil, joys and immense challenges, upended by the ongoing Covid-19 crisis. One memorable line last night was that, "Covid-19 does not celebrate New Year" and "it is not going away when the clock strikes 12 midnight" as many people had hoped. I shared from Psalm 23, one of my favourite psalms. I spoke about the Lord being our shepherd. How we allow Him to lead, rule and be enthroned as King in our lives. I spoke about 5 things, which I drew from David's five smooth stones that I called as 5 spiritual precepts or spiritual weapons for Christians to fight the battles of 2021 and beyond.First, those who are shepherded by the Lord does not suffer want or lack. I told my congregation that financial planning and prudence was necessary and that even in times of crisis and economic downturn as we are experiencing, we will not suffer lack. God's power to guide us in still waters, granting us peace, peace in our souls, peace in our minds. God also restores our souls. It happened that we had a Deacon who celebrated his 60th birthday last night and I used that as an analogy that as every year passes, we don't get younger but we age. I quoted 2 Cor 4:16 that though this outward body decays, but our inner man is renewed day by day.
Second, 2020 was like walking in the shadow of death with Covid-19 hovering over us, with practically all decisions of church ministry impacted by the fear of this disease. I told the congregation that, we fear no evil nor danger as the Lord was with us. How silly for those who have not opened church premises since mid-March. Where is the God of Elijah? How do we claim to serve a living God when we are so fearful, even cowardly? And cowards only head to one place in the book of Revelation, namely, the lake of fire with all the wicked people. I talked about God's rod and staff. His rod is to chasten us when we go astray and his staff to comfort and guide us as we look to Him.
Third, I spoke about God preparing a table for us in the midst of our enemies. I could have testified that on many occasions, I faced great opposition (not so much in 2020) but I saw God's hand lavishing on me all His goodness at the face of enemies' fury. I told the congregation that those who walk uprightly will face opposition but God has a way to lift our heads high. I spoke about the need of the Holy Spirit guiding us (you anointed my head with oil) and that the Holy Spirit be our helper in 2021.
Fourth, "My cup overflows". I spoke about God being a generous God and when He blesses, He does not stinge. We should not limit God's power to bless with our lack of faith. He makes out cup overflows that even though we speak of tithing, it is an OT concept, and for those who are blessed until his cup overflows, nothing should hinder us to give generously in return, 20%. I told the congregation that if God blesses me with RM20,000 this month, it is not a problem for me to give RM5,000.00 to the Lord as I still have RM15K.
Fifth, I spoke about God's goodness and mercy "pursuing" us (not just following) as the Hebrew, "Radaph" is stronger in that God's goodness and mercy overtake or pursue those who have Him as their Shepherd. Finally, I spoke about dwelling in God's house. How this is the climax of Psalm 23 - David's love for God's house and it has been a challenge in 2020 to stay the course and open church premises (God's house) for worship. Do we also have the same desire to remain in God's house - enjoying His goodness, power and glory all the days of our lives?