Pastoral Counsels For 2020 & Beyond

By the Session of PCC

Faint Not in Prayer

As we begin this new year and indeed this new decade, I’ll like us to take some time to consider the words of our Lord in Luke 18:1, “And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint;”

In the previous section, the Lord had been talking to His disciples about His coming again at the end of history and how they should be prepared for it. Here at the beginning of chapter 18, He turns to the subject of prayer, particularly how they should persevere in their prayers. These two sections are linked in that one of the ways we should prepare for His coming is by constant and persistent prayer.

The word translated “faint” literally means to give in to what is bad or evil. It can be translated weary or exhausted or lose heart. In Galatians 6:9, Paul uses this word when he writes, “And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.” We are not to become weary or faint in doing good to others, especially in prayer, which is one of the most important things we can do in this life for others and ourselves.

The idea in Luke 18 is that in the midst of praying for something or someone again and again, it is easy to grow weary and even to give up altogether because of various discouragements along the way, especially the discouragement of not having one’s prayer answered immediately. At such times, the temptation to give up or to give in to the evil of not praying anymore is very great.

Our Lord goes on to tell the well-known parable of the persistent widow (vv. 2-8) both to illustrate His teaching as well as to encourage us to do as He has instructed.

It is a fact that prayer is often something we tend to neglect or else give very little attention and time to, and persistent prayer is even rarer still. We are prone to become weary or to think that our prayers are useless or a waste of time. And so we are tempted to hurry our prayers or shorten them or even to leave them out altogether.

But that is precisely what the Devil wants us to do and that is what we need to fight against day by day and week by week.

Let us resolve, in this new year, to pray persistently, both privately and corporately, and let us never to doubt that prayer is the means by which God will bless us and accomplish His purposes in this world.

“Be careful (or Be anxious) for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.

And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Phil 4:6-7).

Blessed 2020 and beyond!

—Pastor Linus Chua

2020 Vision

The number 20/20 is used by opticians to describe someone with “perfect eyesight”—i.e., you are able to see letters of a certain size at a distance of 20 feet. But however “perfect” a human's vision may be, it is nonetheless still very limited, and there will come a point of time when it eventually fails us, when the little letters on the newspaper are no longer legible, when the fog gets too thick, or when the eyes get too tired.

But as our fleshly eyes start to get blurry and dark, it ought to remind us to turn to the sight of our spiritual eyes. Paul instructs us to walk by faith and not by sight—not to look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal (2 Cor 5:7; 4:18).

While New Year's resolutions are often trivial and sometimes even superstitious, it is not unlawful to have them. We cannot see into the future (there is really no such thing as a “foreseeable future” to us), but God has perfect vision into it, and it can be an act of faith to resolve before him and to commit to him your desires to see the work of his kingdom advanced in and through your life.

Fifteen years ago, in 2005, the Home Missions Board of the RPCNA had a “2020 vision” to seek the Lord for 100 congregations or mission churches by the year 2020. At that time, the denomination had 77 congregations, and by the Lord's mercies, that prayerful desire was granted in 2016, with the number now being at 104 congregations and mission churches. This is not just about numbers, but the work of each assembly of God's people to worship and to seek him has eternal consequences that will last thousands of years after this one.  What are some spiritual goals you hope to attain this year, by the Lord's help? What are your prayers for the church going ahead?

May 2020 be a year when the Lord blesses us with a more perfect vision of our faith, so that our sight of spiritual things may get even clearer and brighter as we also draw closer to that day of our Lord's glorious return.

—Pastor Hau Tzeng

All may Change
but Jesus Never

How time has flown by! When I was a child, “the year 2020” was what we might expect to read only in science fiction. But now we have already stepped into it, and it does not feel remotely as futuristic as anticipated. Time has changed, but man has not. Technology has advanced, but the nature of man has not: at least, not in a positive way. Indeed, the warnings of the apostle Paul concerning godlessness in the last days appears to be even more relevant today than a decade ago. Paul says, 2 Timothy 3:1-5—

This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. 

What shall we do in the face of such a bleak prospect for the decade ahead? One way is to ignore these negative realities, and to focus rather on the positive scientific, engineering and medical breakthroughs that are expected to bedazzle the world in the years following. Advances in genetic research, in battery technology, in artificial intelligence and in cheap renewable energy: these things are what will translate science fiction into reality, if the Lord tarries. But if we are not careful, these things will also distract us from the insidious moral declension of society until it is too late.

The solution, therefore, is not to ignore the intrinsic declension while enjoying the superficial improvements in society. Rather, it is to look to Him who alone is unchanging. “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and forever” (Heb 13:8). Technology and science cannot save us from ourselves and from sin. Christ alone can. Let us look unto Him and seek to run the race by faith regardless of what the year or the decade may present us by the providence of God.

—Pastor JJ Lim

Earthen Vessels

“But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us. We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed” (2 Cor 4:7-9).

As we cross the threshold to a new year, most of us would look back and reflect upon the past year. Depending on what our experiences are, individually or corporately as a church, our perspective and anticipation to the New Year can be very different. Some may usher in the New Year with expectation of great things to come, excitement on embarking something new, confidence in endeavouring something bold. While others may respond with much anxiety, not knowing what to expect, and even feeling a sense of fear due to past discouragement and setbacks. Whatever the case may be, these negative-positive couplets (vv. 8-9) in Paul’s letter to the Corinthian church as he gave an account of his Gospel ministry is instructive - caution to the presumptuous, and comfort to the anxious.

This portion of scripture has brought much encouragement to me recently, and I pray would be to you too. You see, it is often our tendency to look inward to ourselves, our ability or inability to cope in past situations and experiences, that shapes our perspective for the coming year. We know from Paul’s assessment of his Gospel ministry, there is nothing but trouble all-round, perplexing situations, often being pursued and persecuted by his enemies, and down-trodden on the brink of death. This is just as true for the Christian life. None of us are so naive to think that the coming year would be free of troubles, problems, afflictions and even death. In and of ourselves, as earthen vessels, how are we to face these things? If we look inward, we have every reason to be anxious and despair. Thank God that the realities of the Christian life do not stop here. In these couplets, Paul goes on to remind us that in troublous time, pressed on all sides, we are not without hope of deliverance. In every difficult situation and perplexing circumstances, we need not feel helpless. When we are ridiculed, accused, threatened or persecuted, we are not left to ourselves for the Lord will not leave us nor forsake us. When we are utterly cast down, and even in the face of death, we can rest on the redemptive work of Christ our Savior. We will not be destroyed for it is well with our soul, safe in His everlasting arms, and against the day of Christ we have the hope of resurrection.

While troubles in this coming year, or years to come, may be real and certain, deliverance in the God of our salvation is just as real and certain. This very faith in Christ is the treasure abiding in these weak and fragile earthen vessels of ours. If only we would look away from ourselves, and look to Christ, our perspective for the coming year would not depend so much on what had happened in the past, but rather be consistent with the apostle Paul, and with one another who walk more by faith and not by sight. Hasn’t our merciful God carried you through this past year? Will He not give you the strength and confidence to face the coming year? And when you are helped and delivered, would you not give God the glory who has manifested the excellency of His power in your life?

—Elder Peng Hui