Grace News Issue #1 2017 -- Renewing and Keeping Covenants
The theme of this issue of Grace News is that of renewing and keeping covenants. As we prepare to occupy our new building, it is critical that we do not get caught up in the excitement and busyness and thus neglect to consider our spiritual readiness. We should prepare our hearts to receive this great blessing with a solemn commitment to be faithful and obedient. Rev (Dr) E N Poulson sets us in the right direction by reminding us of the spiritual revival that accompanied Nehemiah’s rebuilding of the wall of Jerusalem. May we be equally serious in keeping our covenant to God and obeying His commands as a church.
While we are grateful to those who have made alternative facilities available to us, we are all excited about the prospect of moving into our own new church building. But after we make that move, what’s next? Will it be simply a change of place and time?
Or will we allow the LORD to ‘make all things new’?
Catch a glimpse of what might be, by reading the book of Nehemiah. Of course, the reason for the rebuilding described in Nehemiah is entirely different. When the Israelites were released from captivity in Babylon, a remnant returned to Jerusalem and discovered that the temple had been defiled and destroyed by enemies of the Truth. In contrast, our building was demolished and a new one built in order to make the best possible use of freehold property that is fully approved for religious activities – a rarity in Singapore.
In Nehemiah’s time there was a seven-day religious holiday in the seventh month, when all the people gathered in Jerusalem. Ezra the scribe read aloud from the book of the Law of Moses (Genesis through Deuteronomy) ‘from daybreak till noon’. Because the people spoke different dialects, Ezra had helpers who ‘made it clear and gave the meaning so the people could understand’. The rest of the day the people applied and obeyed what they had learned. This continued for seven days. But they wanted more. On the 24th day the people stood and read from Scripture for three hours, and spent another three hours in confession and worship.
Nehemiah 9 verses 5-37 record a psalm the people sang to express what they had learned, and to help them remember it in the future. Verse 38 says they renewed their covenant with the LORD, and put it in writing as a witness that they determined to walk in His ways, and to give all that was needed for ministry and maintenance of the temple. In other words, there was a spiritual revival. The temple would be used for prayer and service, not for business and entertainment.
As we prepare to occupy our new sanctuary, I admonish us all – pastors, teachers, helpers at every level, older members and younger – to let God do a renewing work in our hearts. The church is not just to be a new building in Mattar Road, but a place where members and friends can worship and enjoy fellowship, and where the whole community knows they can encounter the GOD who loves them.
Read past issues of Grace News:
Issue #4 2016 – Finishing Works
Issue #3 2016 – Relationships and Community
Issue #2 2016 – Being Built Up in Christ
Issue #1 2016 – The Importance of Being Rooted in Christ