Home Alone

If you are home alone under Stay Home Notice or quarantine, don’t waste it.Germany Virus Outbreak

This is a unique time for you. It may well be the “pause” you need in your life.

To be home alone is to be away from the crowd with their constant clatter of words and clutter of activities, besides curbing the spread of virus of course.

Home alone can be the “desert time” that our Lord frequently observed during His earthly ministry.

Jesus spent 40 days alone in the desert before He began his ministry (Matthew 4:1-2). He was alone in the desert hills before He chose the Twelve (Luke 6:12). He spent “desert time” in a lonely place when he learned of the death of John the Baptist (Matthew 14:13). He spent “desert time” by himself regularly (Matthew 14:23; Mark 1:35). He even tell His disciples, “Come aside by yourselves to a deserted place” (Mark 6:31).

Make your home alone that “desert time” of purposeful solitude.

Let it be a time of cultivating that inner sanctuary, creating space for God to speak and made Himself heard. Who knows God might want you to reevaluate your goals and objectives in life.

And that can happen in the solitude of a morning cup of coffee or in the evening before bedtime.

Some of you have children at home and find yourself busier than before trying to meet their needs and demands. All the more, you would need to find a suitable time and quiet corner in your home to be alone with God.

So often God speaks but we cannot hear because we are just too busy.

To be home alone is to be still before God and know that He is our God, even when the mountains quake with threatening pandemic (Psalm 46).

Home alone shouldn’t be an empty time of loneliness. Rather it can be a fulfilling time of growth.

I believe in this season of stay home, God is on the move even more than ever to make us better disciples.

As you stay home reach out for your Bible, not click on Netflix. Let your stay home be a time you play your ukulele, guitar or piano and sing praises to the Audience of one. Let your home alone be a time you pray and pray for those in need despite social distancing.

Develop your sensitivity to God and others during your stay home.

Thomas Merton said, “It is in deep solitude that I find the gentleness with which I can truly love my brothers.”

Cry like the Psalmist, You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek You; I thirst for You, my whole being longs for You” (Psalm 63:1).

May God use your Home Alone “to fill you with the knowledge of His will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please Him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God” (Colossians 1:9-10).

Perfect Peace

The sweetest words from the Bible I heard when I suffered a severe life-threatening infection that made my kidneys fail, liver failing, heart flatlining, blood pressure dropping drastically about 9 years ago were these words: “His mercies are new every morning!” (Lam.3:22,23) It came from wife of my caring cardiologist Prof James Yip who visited me before I slipped into unconsiciousness (they were both members in a church I had pastored before).

The Lord did not say at that point that He was going to heal me. All He said was His mercies are new every morning. And that was enough! And all I needed to know was that through it all, the Lord Almighty was with me. When He is with me, who can be against me?

When He is with me, both living and dying were in His hands and according to His perfect timing. His mercies were more than enough. I had no anxiety, but physical pain, plenty. Told the nurses 15 when I was asked to score the pain on my diseased left leg on a scale of 1 to 10. But deep within me, I was perfectly at peace.

That’s what we need today amidst the global Covid-19 pandemic – perfect peace. Understand this, the degree of peace you have is directly proportionate to the degree of trust you have in God. More trust, more peace. Less trust, less peace. No trust, no peace. Perfect trust, perfect peace.

Isa.26:3 You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. 4 Trust in the LORD forever, for the LORD GOD is an everlasting rock.

Barnabas Chong

One Victorious Way to Fight the Coronavirus

One victorious way to fight the coronavirus – being FEARLESS in the face of death! A few things the pandemic has done to us: (1) brought about fear and anxiety (2) undermined our faith – just look at how flustered we are and how we desperately grab Bible verses to comfort ourselves (3) robbed our peace – isn’t Jesus the Prince of Peace – when we embrace Him, we have embraced peace! (4) instilled the fear of death in us – wait a minute; haven’t we already read the end of the “story” in the Bible? Don’t we know that we win in the end, that we are victorious over death and the devil? When we have Jesus, we already have the full confidence that eternal life is ours! That is His spiritual blessing given to all who follow Him. So, we need not fear death – instead we should be able to say as the Apostle Paul did, “O death, where is thy sting; O grave, where is thy victory?” (1Cor.15:55 KJV) When we become fearless in the face of death, as the early disciples were, there will be no more anxiety, fear, lack of faith and lack of peace.

Barnabas Chong

 

1756 Repeated?

In 1756, Great Britain was faced with a threatened invasion by the French.

It was an uncertain time for the whole of Britain. Fear spread throughout the nation. Every British citizen was frightened of this dreaded French invasion.

1756 RepeatedAnd the King of Britain called for a day of solemn prayer and fasting. It was to be a day when the whole of Britain would cry to the Lord for mercy.

And John Wesley on 6 February 1756 recorded this in his Journal. He wrote:

“The fast day was a glorious day, such as London has scarce seen since the Restoration. Every church in the city was more than full and a solemn seriousness sat on every face. Surely God heareth prayer and there will yet be a lengthening of our tranquillity.”

Then in a footnote, John Wesley added:

”Humility was turned into national rejoicing for the threatened invasion by the French was averted.”

Today we face yet another threatening and devastating invasion, that of Covid-19.

Surely this cannot be a time for Christian believers to stay home to eat and watch Netflix. Rather it should be a time to stay home to fast and pray. It is not a time to clear the shelves of the supermarket. Rather it is a time to pour out our selves to cry to the Lord our Redeemer for mercy.

And who knows, God might just turn the cries of His church into a national rejoicing as He did in 1756.

Will it be another day footnoted in the annals of our history that Singapore has scarce seen since the days of SARS?

Will 1756 be repeated in 2020?

People Need the Lord

People need the Lord. Whether it is this current global pandemic or some other crisis in the future that causes people to fear for their lives, at all times, Christians need to remember that people need the Lord. We need the Lord, and those who don’t know Christ most certainly need Him. The words of this song by Steve Green comes to mind:
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Everyday they pass me by
I can see it in their eyes
Empty people filled with care
Headed who knows where

On they go through private pain
Living fear to fear
Laughter hides their silent cries
Only Jesus hears

People need the Lord, people need the Lord
At the end of broken dreams, He’s the open door
People need the Lord, people need the Lord
When will we realize people need the Lord?

We are called to take His light
To a world where wrong seems right
What could be too great a cost
For sharing life with one who’s lost?

Through His love our hearts can feel
All the grief they bear
They must hear the words of life
Only we can share

People need the Lord, people need the Lord
At the end of broken dreams, He’s the open door
People need the Lord, people need the Lord
When will we realize that we must give our lives?
For people need the Lord, people need the Lord

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Many Bible promises have been circulated in recent months and they are mostly about how the Lord will protect us, rescue us, save us from the fowler’s snare, shield us from diseases and pestilences, “do not fear, for I am with you”, “God is faithful”, etc. See the trend – it is primarily about ME. But shouldn’t we go beyond that?

Yes, it is important to keep ourselves grounded and remember God’s promises. But how much comforting do we need? How often do we need to be reminded that we are His treasured possession and that He loves us? Maybe it’s time to remember that people need the Lord. Maybe it’s time for the comforted and secured ones to bring God’s comfort and security to those who are filled with care.

Jn.4:35 Do you not say, ‘There are yet four months, then comes the harvest’? Look, I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see that the fields are white for harvest.

Barnabas Chong

Rethinking Church

I have believed for a couple of years now that house churches have a huge advantage over large churches.

The increase in the number of people going to any particular church is often accompanied by several decreases, namely one-to-one connection and relationship, life-on-life mentoring and discipleship and finally, accountability.

All these three important areas in the life of a church decline as church membership and attendance go up. In a big church, it is so easy for people to remain anonymous, disconnected and un-discipled. To avoid interaction, there are people who come in shortly after the service starts and leave just before the service ends – no need to talk to anyone.

Today, many Christians have been forced to only gather as home groups for obvious reasons. Well, you may say that even when services weren’t suspended, we were already meeting in home groups or cell groups. True, but now, the only thing many of us have is home groups, not unlike the New Testament church – the only thing they had were house churches. They met daily and they grew phenomenally.

With only CGs meeting in homes, can we not do more than just sing a few songs, do Bible study, eat a nice supper and chat about the economy and the weather? Can we not be like the house churches in the NT that did ministry and outreach together, demonstrating the power of the Holy Spirit, and fulfilled God’s Kingdom agenda without the need to meet corporately by the hundreds or thousands?

And when the suspension is lifted, when we gather together again as a large corporate body on weekends, I hope that we would treasure our gathering a whole lot more than we ever did!

I hope that we will treasure one another and look out for those in our church who have often been overlooked and connect with them because Christians are commanded to love one another as Christ has loved us. No one should be left behind. Love not only with our hearts and our words but with our actions – sharing generously what we have with one another especially those who are in need – that’s how an authentic Christian community should look like!

Maybe the “scattering” of the church due to the suspension of worship services is not such a bad thing – it brings us back to the days of the early church!

Ac.2:42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. 43 And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. 44 And all who believed were together and had all things in common. 45 And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. 46 And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.

1Cor.16:19 The churches of Asia send you greetings. Aquila and Prisca, together with the church in their house, send you hearty greetings in the Lord.

Rom.16:5 Greet also the church in their house. Greet my beloved Epaenetus, who was the first convert to Christ in Asia.

Philemon 1 Paul, a prisoner for Christ Jesus, and Timothy our brother. To Philemon our beloved fellow worker 2 and Apphia our sister and Archippus our fellow soldier, and the church in your house.

Col.4:15 Give my greetings to the brothers at Laodicea, and to Nympha and the church in her house.

Barnabas Chong

The Scattered Church and the Gathered Church

In Acts chapter 8, a great persecution came against the church in Jerusalem, as a result they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles.

We are told in v4 that the scattered believers (the ordinary ones, not the apostles) went about preaching the gospel! In particular, through Philip’s preaching and ministry, many were delivered from unclean spirits, healed of sicknesses and converted to the Christian faith! An example of how THE SCATTERED CHURCH COULD BE A GOOD THING!

We may not call our current pandemic a great persecution, but it certainly scattered the church as many worship services have been suspended.

The question is, what will today’s scattered church do? Maybe the gathered church experience has made us insular and unhealthily comfortable, thus, in God’s infinite wisdom, He has allowed us (as one of the effects of the pandemic) to be scattered so that we may not get stuck within the four walls of the church, instead get out there to preach, deliver and heal so that the world may know Him. God is able to make all things work together for the good of those who love Him and who are called according to His purpose, so He can certainly turn this global crisis around to serve His divine purposes.

May we begin to see signs, wonders, miracles and salvations not only in our gathering but also in our scattering as believers rise above the tough times we are in.

Barnabas Chong