03 Jan 2021

It Begins With Me


The Missional Church begins with me. To lead others into a life-changing relationship with Jesus Christ, I must be having that life change myself. We must get our roots right, then can we bear fruit. We must be properly aligned with God before we can be duly assigned. We take care of our depth, and God will expand our breadth of ministry. We must abide in order to abound. This is a sermon that helps you understand how you can grow spiritually. it offers you a clear, simple and useful handle for this new year so that you can "train yourself to be godly. " COVID or no COVID, let us be missional. Let us drink in the gospel, so that we can live out the gospel and give out the gospel. May you have a truly blessed new year!


Sermon Transcript

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Now, this morning we are entering a new year and therefore we are looking at a new sermon series. We are not leaving Genesis of course, we will return to that, but we are going to take a focus look on a four-parter called, ‘The Missional Church’.

As was the practice for the past few years, the pastors, the shepherds we gather together, we pray, we think about what the Lord would have us to consider more deeply in each and every year. We've looked at series like ‘Home Fix’ which is how the Gospel changes or transforms our homes. We've looked at a series called, ‘Ekklesia’. We've looked at what it means to be a healthy church.

Well, for this morning and the next three weeks, we are going to look at the missional church because we have been in a sense hit by the pandemic in a very unusual way. It's a very unusual year, we've never had our lives turned upside down, like what we used to, and things are not what they used to be. However, the … the pastors, the shepherds, we feel that we need to encourage God's people that while things are not what it used to be, we can still have meaning and purpose and joy and the privilege to serve God. And indeed we must.

So the missional church is a series that helps us look at how we can be purposeful and meaningful and faithful and fruitful, even in a time like this, alright. So I like us to notice that we can't do church like we used to anymore. Just think back alright, just think back, just think back about a year ago. Exactly one year ago, church does not look like this.

We are not seated far apart, there is not so much spacing. There are no yellow chains all around you. One year ago, we were packed. It was a bustling place full of people. And we had lunch, we had food, we had breakfast. There were a lot of people speaking to one another and we all didn't wear masks.

But today, things are very different, we can't do church like what like what we use to. We can't come in crowds anymore. We can't have meals anymore. We can't speak to one another as freely anymore. And things have definitely changed, isn't it?

So, we can't do church like what like what we used to. And many of us therefore are longing to return to what we used to. We are waiting. We are praying that, “O Lord, let this be turned around. Let us go back to what we used to have - big crowds of people coming in, having our meals together.” We long for these things.

Now, I'm not saying, “These things are bad. They're very good. I love the fact that we could come in big crowds. I love the fact that we could eat together.” But hey, we can't get back to that. Does that mean that church is broken? Does that mean that we can't be pleasing God anymore? I don't think so.

Many of us, however feel like things have to kind of a take a backseat. We have to kind of a slow-down in spiritual things whilst the pandemic goes on. Maybe we are putting all our hopes on some magic vaccine that would eliminate all the COVID-19 problems. So we wait, we ‘chobo’ [doing nothing in Hokkien dialect] or we just sit still.

Maybe some of us right now because we can't do church like what we used to, you say, “Ah! Let me learn some new hobby. Let me pick up some new skill. Let me take up some new appointments. Let me take up more assignments at work. Because you know, I can't do church like what I used to.”

Maybe some of you are very discouraged in your spiritual life today because we can't do church, like we used to. But I want to remind you that even though we can't do church like we used to, we can still be the church God wants us to.

Now, you say, “This doesn't quite make sense.” Well, let me explain the difference between form and function, form and function. Now, I feel that we really need to get this right. We can't do a lot of things like we used to - gather in big crowds, eat together. That's the form! And like I said, “Nothing wrong with what we used to do.” But now that we can't do that, we need to go down to the more fundamental level of function.

What's the ultimate purpose of our existence? And when you understand the ultimate purpose of existence, you're not so upset, if the form needs to change. It's like school, I think our government has done very well in that whilst we can't have our children at least initially, during those circuit breaker days, gather in classes to learn but the function of education goes on. They try their very best. They use online means to educate our kids.

So if you understand function, you're not so upset if maybe some forms can't be adopted at sometimes.
Now, what's the function of the church? Have you thought about it? What's God's will for His church? Did God command in the Bible that Christians must always gather in big crowds? Does the Bible command that every Sunday when we gather for worship we must eat?

Actually you don't say that, you don't see that! Now, eating is great! The Bible speaks a lot about people eating together. Jesus eating with people, that's great! But if we can't do that in that big way, it doesn't mean church is broken.

So what's the function of church? Well, let me try to explain it this way. The Gospel, the Gospel is the Good News of Jesus Christ dying and rising to save us from our sins, in order to reconcile a sinful men with the Holy God. This is the central message of the Bible. And God uses the Gospel to call out His church. God uses the Bible to save people from this world to belong to Him. This is the message. This is the call that God uses to bring His people out from sin and from this world.

You get that? Simple. The Gospel is the message God uses to call out the church. Now, on the other hand, the church is going to do something for the Gospel as well. What we do with the Gospel? Well, the church is actually called of God to number one - live out the Gospel. To embody the life of Christ. To demonstrate godliness. To demonstrate God's love. That's the purpose of the church!

We, as a people are meant to live out the Gospel. And not only that, we are also called to give out the Gospel. We are to tell more and more people about Jesus and what He has done for us on the cross and how Jesus saves us and reconciles us back to God.

So what is the function of the church? The church is called by the Gospel to live out the Gospel and to give out the Gospel. That is what we must understand as the ultimate thing. So in other words, the church is meant to lead even more people in the Gospel back to God. In other words, the church is meant to help more and more people get to know God.

Now, this is very, I think succinctly put by Jesus when He told us, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations.” [Matt 28:19-20] Let more people see you, let more people hear from you, that they may also follow Jesus, like we are doing today. And whether there is pandemic or no pandemic, the church is called to make disciples. The church is called to live out and to give out the Gospel. That's our core function!

And Jesus says, “Behold, I'm with you always, to the end of the age.” [Matt 28:19-20] Whether you're in Singapore or Malaysia or US, whether there is pandemic or no pandemic, as we follow the great commission by Jesus, He promises to be with us always.

I love the fact that we have education whether there is pandemic or no pandemic. I appreciate the fact that many of you are still working, whether there's pandemic or no pandemic. And I hope the church will still be faithful to the great commission, whether there's pandemic or no pandemic.

So this is what we are called to be – to be leading generations into a life changing relationship with Jesus Christ. That's what makes the mission statement of this church. Our mission statement is not to have big services with great lunch. That's a good thing, but that's not the ultimate thing. We can't gather as a big church, that's fine if we are still committed to the mission. We can’t eat like we used to, that's fine if we are committed to our mission.

So this is what it means to be a missional church. We don't want to be stationary, just cooped up in the building. We want to be missionary, wherever we go, leading generations into a life changing relationship with Jesus Christ. We don't want to be a building, like a monument. We want to be a movement, taking the Gospel to where more people would hear. We want to live out the Gospel in our office, we want to live out the Gospel in our schools and we want to give out the Gospel. We want to be a missional church.

Now, how do we do that? That's the focus in this four weeks. How do we do that? Now, before we rush into, “Oh, this is how you share the Gospel …” I want us to slow down and realize something in here, this first message is a reminder that in order for us to be missional as a people, it all begins with me. What do you mean by that?

During this pandemic in the past year, I've learned a new phrase or new term, and it's called self-care. I read it somewhere and I mean this concept, I don't think is difficult. It means you have to care for yourself, right. But this phrase is new to me that people make a thing out of it. But I read about this article from Harvard Medical School.

Now, by the way, I'm not one of those who read medical articles like this, but it just came across, I came across. And it says, “6 self-care steps for a pandemic - always important, now essential”. In other words, this doctor is saying that it's very important for you to care for yourself in normal life, but especially in the pandemic.

So what are the 6 self-care steps that are essential for a pandemic? She says, “Number one - acknowledge the turbulence.” Important, one important step to care for yourself is just acknowledge that we are going through a very difficult time. If you don't accept that reality, you … you can get very upset with life.

She goes on to say, “Fuel your body with healthy food.” Many of us during pandemic, we eat junk food, but she says, “Fuel your body with healthy food.” “Move your body.” Exercise! And I think during the COVID season, a lot of people have taken up a lot of the exercise routines, I suppose. Number four - prioritize sleep. Sleep well, don't have a upside down diagnose cycles, circle in your life. “Find ways to connect socially”. Important to do that, even though we may have to do safe distancing and, “Find ways to ease stress”. Take up new hobbies, whatever it is.

Now, of course, your pastor here is not teaching you these things, that's not my priority at all. But I want to build upon this concept of self-care. And that is during the pandemic, it's very important to have spiritual self-care. We all understand it's important to eat well, sleep well, exercise well, acknowledge the turbulence, but what about your spiritual life?

Everybody in this world will talk about social life, physical life, emotional life, but only the church can properly look at spiritual life. So what does it mean to have spiritual self-care? Does the Bible talk about it?

Yeah! The Bible talks about spiritual self-care. Make sure you don't get spiritual disease. How? Well, Paul says, “Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God.” [2 Cor 7:1] Paul says, “This is what you need to do as a Christian - you need to grow, you need to grow in holiness, you to cleanse yourself. Don't get all these spiritual diseases. Don't deal or don't dabble with sin.”

So to care for your spiritual life means that you make every effort to cleanse yourself from sin, so that you may perfect holiness in your life. The Bible also says, “Train yourself for godliness.” [1 Tim 4:7] So, don't only deal with this disease, that's the idea. But the concept here is train, its … it’s like an athlete. You have to build up your spiritual muscles, build up your spiritual stamina, build up your spiritual strength. Spiritual self-care, that's what we have to do.

Titus 2:11-12 tells us, “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce all ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in the present age.” The grace of God is given to save man from his sins, but not just only from the penalty of sin but also from the grip and the power of sin that we might live self-controlled upright and godly life in the present age.

The Bible also says in 1st Peter, chapter 2:2, I think this is clear, “Like newborn infants long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation.” So, have a healthy diet of God's Word. And then again in 2nd Peter, chapter 3:18, “But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”

So over and over and over again in the Bible, we are told by God, commanded by God, whether there is pandemic or no pandemic - grow, cleanse, train, desire. So that you may live that godly, self-controlled, upright Christian life. And in this time, more than ever, I think this message is most relevant.

Now, how then can I grow as a Christian? “I want to grow, but how to grow? How to be more godly? How to be less sinful? How to be more like Jesus?” Well, let me tell you that, “If you want to be more Christ-like, if you want to grow, it won't happen if you sleep all day. It won't happen if you watch Netflix all day. It won't happen just by looking to God and say, “Lord, zap me, zap me. Give me Your thunder or lightning zap and I will become like Jesus.”’

It's not going to happen like this. You know why? Because the Bible tells us God uses means. He uses the means of grace. Just like a little child, you want that little child to grow, that child needs to eat, that child needs to rest, that child needs to exercise, that child needs to be challenged, that child needs to learn from others. And only when he has availed himself to all these means, will he grow up well.

Spiritually, you want to grow, you need to be part, you need to be engaged with these means of grace. So, what are these means? Wah! My time is flying by. I'm long winded today. So how can you grow?
Let me share with you some means.

[1] Scripture
Number one, you need Scripture. You grow with Scripture. You need to have a healthy diet of the Bible, the Word of God. The Bible is very clear, "But we all with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another.” [2 Cor 3:18] I love this verse. I can preach all day about this verse, but I have time only just to tell you.

This is a verse that speaks about transformation into the likeness of Jesus from one degree of glory to another, to the same image as the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ. How exciting! You can be like Christ, I can be like Christ. How? I need to “Behold the glory of the Lord.”

Now, the context here is that Paul is speaking about people who read the Old Testament, who read the books of the Bible in the Old Testament. And Paul is saying, “As you look at the Bible, as you study the Word of God, the Holy Spirit, the Lord who is the Spirit changes you into the likeness of Christ.” How amazing!

Just to simplify things, it's like sun-tanning. You want to be more … you want to be more tanned, I tell you what to do, stay in the kitchen and say, “Be more tanned”. No! That will never happen. You can't make yourself more tanned that way. If you want to be more tanned, get out into the sun. Who changes you to be more tanned? The sun. But what's your job? Get in the sun or get under the sun.

If you want to be more like Jesus, get under the Scriptures. Let the Word of God be what you behold, so that the Spirit of God will change you into His likeness. How cool is that! You want to be more godly, It's absolutely possible. Because that's what the Bible says, “As we see Jesus in the pages of His Word, His Spirit changes us to be more like Him.”

Now, not only that, I want to encourage you with regards to the sufficiency of the Bible. There are many people today who say, “I … I want to be more godly. I want to be a better worker. I want to serve God more effectively. And there will be advice as if, “Oh! You must learn psychology. Oh! You must learn some management techniques from … from this MBA in Harvard.” “You need to get this experience and that experience.”

Now, I'm not against all these things, they can be practically useful in some ways. But I am a firm believer that if God says, “All Scripture is breathed out, and it's good or profitable for teaching, reproof, correction, training in righteousness, and that if you are learned and trained in Scripture, you may be complete, equipped for every good work” [2 Tim 3:16-17], I buy that, I believe that. I say, “This is enough.”

During my medical school days, I wanted to do well for my exams, of course. I wanted to do well for my school. So in the year one, you know medicine is crazy, there are so many things to study. And because I didn't know how, I just read very widely. I read many books on every subject. I thought that if I read widely, I would do well. In the end, I didn't do well. I was just too scattered.

Year two onwards, I learned the secret. Just get notes - seniors' notes, we call it. Notes that our seniors have compiled. It's one book. One subject, one book. And I decided if my first method doesn't work, I'll do the second method. I'll master one book for any subject and I did well. I learned that I just need to master one book.

Now, in the Christian life, it's actually very straightforward. God did not give you many, many, many, many books. It's just that one book. Of course, it's a compilation of books, but it's that one book. Master that one book, and you can be thoroughly equipped for every good work. That book is good enough, the sufficiency of Scripture.

You want to serve God, you want to make a difference in your world, I say, “Master this one book.” The Bible also tells us, “Like newborn babes long for the pure spiritual milk …” [1 Peter 2:2] In a context, I believe it is the Word of God, “…. that by you may grow up into salvation.” And long for it, desire, pursue with passion and love the Word of God.

There are many people who don't have that same hunger and passion for the Bible. That's why they don't drink a lot and that's why they don't grow a lot. They ‘kew chui’ one [shrink in Hokkien dialect]. The small size one. The … the, the, they don't grow very well. Why? Not enough nutrition.

If you want to grow big and strong, then long … drink. Keep drinking. Keep learning. Keep studying. And let me say this, “You need to pursue this with passion.” In other words, you need to set time apart for the Bible, learning and studying and reading portion of your life. You need to, you need to dedicate yourself to a particular rhythm. I'm not saying, “A program necessarily, but you must have a rhythm of how you study the Bible.”

If you say, “Oh Pastor, I'm just so glad that every Sunday morning I hear from you.” I say, “Maybe that's not quite enough because we need to feed on God's Word more than that, if you're serious about spiritual growth.” You say, “How can I read the Bible? I do not know how to do so.” Well, can I encourage you. This is a little bit of advertisement, join us for our CEP session, starting this coming Saturday on how to do a Bible study. It's really short, four sessions 15 minutes each. I mean, if you can't even spare time to learn from that, I say, “Well, no wonder we will be spiritually small and weak and anemic”.

Maybe that could help you but maybe you could join a Bible study class, a Bible study group. Maybe you should get a Bible reading program. Maybe you should check out online resources. I believe in our day and age, there's absolutely no excuse why God's people cannot understand the Bible. I'm not saying, “You can understand everything in the Bible, but I think you can understand enough to make good sense of the Bible.”

There are enough resources and people around you in this church who can help you and I say to you, “If you want to grow, folks, please think about Scripture.” Let this year not be a year where you say, “Chobo.” Let this year not be a year we say, “Pastor, church nothing going on. I want to learn dancing, I want to learn …whatever lah! There's so many things to learn.” But let this year be a year that says, “I want spiritual self-care. I want to grow. I want to devote myself regularly, meaningfully to the study of God's Word.”

Would you do that? I believe if you do that, your life will not be the same. You will look back at 2021 and you will be beaming with joy, because God's Word will be used by God to change your life. Absolutely 100%!

[2] Prayer
But that's not all, God does not only use Scripture to change your life, God uses your prayers. God uses prayers of His people to also change your life. You want to make a difference, it begins with you. You need to change. You need to grow. You need to be more like Jesus. So number one, I'll go to the Bible. Number two, I need to understand how God uses prayer.

And apostle Paul definitely understands the power of prayer. He prays for the Colossian church, he … he says, “We have not ceased to pray for you.” [Col 1:9-10] Asking, “I mean there's so many things and because I'm told my words cannot be too small. I pick up some words in between ah. I'm not trying to cheat you lah. If you want to, if you want to, you can open your Bible and check the verses. But I just want to bring the highlights here, that Paul is praying for the church of Colossae, that, “They will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, bearing fruit in every good work, increasing in the knowledge of God.”

How does he think these guys are going to be like this? Prayer. “I pray for them, that they will be like this.” How does Paul think that the church at Ephesus will, “Be strengthened and where Christ may dwell and where they are rooted and grounded in love and where they are filled with all the fullness of God.” [Eph 3:14-19] How? “I bow my knees before the Father.” [Eph 3:] That's what I pray for.

You know, I found something about my life, my prayer life. I've become very boring in my prayer life, in a sense. I've become very monotonous in my prayer life. I've become very predictable in my prayer life. You know why? Because I'm always praying pretty much the same things nowadays. I'm praying these things.

You know what I pray for you guys, during this pandemic? I'm not praying for more vaccines to come. Actually, I've not prayed for more vaccines. They will come by and by. I have not prayed for the economy to be revived in Singapore. I have not prayed for that.

I've been praying for you, that you would grow. I've been praying for you that the Holy Spirit will strengthen you in the inner man. I've been praying for you that you will be rooted and grounded in God's love. I've been praying for you that you'll be filled with the fullness of Christ. I know that God's will for your life. And I know that's my responsibility to pray.

I've become very predictable in prayer, because I'm just praying what the Scripture says. I've been praying that God's people will not be led into temptation. I know the flesh is weak. And so we watch and pray that you will not enter into temptation. That's what we pray for.

Now, of course, I pray other things. But this is one main thing I pray for. I pray for people hearing us online to come to know Jesus. That's what I pray for. I pray that this church will be beautiful in the midst of adversity, that's what we pray for. I pray that we will be more like the Acts church for today. We will be a people who demonstrate the beauty of Christ.

Well, what I've shared with you is not rocket science. This is what you sing in Sunday school. “Read your Bible, pray every day …” I don't want to sing anymore, but you know lah, “… and you will grow, grow, grow.” Hey, if this is what you do for 2021, I think we are on the right direction to being a missional church, because your life will be different. You will be different. People would see the difference. and people would want to hear what's different.

[3] Adversity
I've already let the cat out of the bag. God uses Scripture. God uses prayer. And God uses …? Adversity.

Adversity is difficulties, pain, sufferings, and there is a whole branch of I wouldn't even call it Christianity but as a whole branch of deviant teaching that says, “God never wants you to suffer. God only wants health and wealth and prosperity and ease for you.” That's not biblical. Because the Bible tells us, “God uses adversity to grow you.” Your Father wants you to grow.

Now, which parent would not want their child to face challenges and difficulties in life, in order for them to learn and to grow? It's a foolish father, who shields his child from every difficulty. First of all, it's impossible. Number two, it's foolish.

Our heavenly Father knows better. Like a master trainer, He wants His son, He wants His daughter to grow strong spiritually. And so He allows us to go through sufferings. And apostle Paul, a child of God, he understands that and therefore he says, “We ….” What? “We rejoice …” [Rom 5:3-4] Wah! This guy is ‘siow’ [crazy in Hokkien dialect] eh, COVID-19, he rejoiced.

Yes, he rejoice! He rejoices in all things. He rejoices in sufferings because he knows. He knows, he knows. This is the importance of knowing, “He rejoices in suffering, not because suffering is pleasant, but because he knows that this suffering will produce endurance and character and hope.”

Same message when he says, “I'm content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, calamities, because when I'm weak, then I realize Christ is my strength.” [2 Cor 12:10] “God uses these thorns in my flesh to grow me, so that I may learn to rely on Him.”

James corroborated with Paul, when he said, “The testing of your faith …”, he's talking about trials, difficulties. And he's saying that, “The testing of your faith is good” . He therefore encourages the people he wrote to, “Count it all joy …” [James 1:2-4] Why? Because, “… This trial leads to steadfastness. And, “Let the steadfastness have its full effect that you may be perfect and complete.”

So God uses the Scripture, God uses prayer, God uses adversities to change us and to grow us. This COVID-19 season is a difficult season, but it's a season also for growth. You see that? That's what God intends for His church.

So I don't pray that God removes this absolutely. I say, “If it is His will, He will.” But in the meanwhile, whilst we are in it, let us learn, let us pray for one another that we will not complain, murmur, be discouraged. But we will pray,” Lord, let this grow me. Help me to respond to adversity in the right attitude and spirit.”

Just like the doctor who talked about self-care in a Harvard Medical School publication, acknowledge the turbulence, understand why and ask God to change you, to grow you.

[4] Community
Number four - community. Yes, you could guess what I'm saying right, yah. Number four - God uses community to grow you. The Bible has this classic verse, which we all remember, “Let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works.” [Heb 10:24-25] That's why we have community in Gospel Light. That's why we have care groups in … in Gospel Light.

Now we understand that as a church, we are no more like what we used to be. We were a small family church in the past, 100 people, 200 people, super cozy, everyone knows one another. But you know, the Lord has allowed us to grow numerically. And we need to have ways to care for one another, not in that big way anymore because it's impossible. So we need smaller groups and that's why we have care groups.

Care groups to care for one another. Not just physically care, emotionally care, socially care, but spiritually care, to help one another grow in Christ. So I hope that when you look at your care group, you look at it as sharing life. That's what we call fellowship, ‘Koinonia’ in the Greek - sharing together of your life. It involves stirring up one another to love. Of course, love of God and love for God and to good works, to serve Him.

The community, spiritual community is meant to help us grow and to go for Jesus. So it's fellowship, folks, it's not ‘feilowship’. We know we cracked a joke about this all the time. But do you know, there are people in our church who think that a care group is only for social gathering? I think we missed the point! The church is the only community that we can help one another spiritually. Please don't miss that out.

Now, I'm not saying that, “A care group is only Bible study.” I'm not saying that, “A care group is only King James Bible.” Now, we care for one another, but the care is empty if we're not leading people to God, through the Word of God. So during this period where we can't meet together, at least for the past few months. Very few of us could meet together as a … as a substantial group because of the restrictions. I'm so thankful Gospeliters fight for community when you meet online.

It's like school, we can't go to school, we have online school. Because you see that, that is essential. I'm thankful for people who see community as essential. You did not give up, you met online. And now that we are allowed to have eight people to a family. Well, maybe you can have more physical gatherings so that we can do the one anothers, so that we can do community better.

“Restore him in a spirit of gentleness, bear one another's burdens.” [Gal 6:1-2] The Bible is full of this , “Teaching and admonishing one another.” [Col 3:6] That's what it is all about.

Now, let me say this, “For those who are saying, “You know my care group, no good eh! A lot of problem people.”’ Now, let me say this concept about community, “Please don't think about community as one where you look for the perfect one. You'll never find one. Like we always joke, the moment you join it, it will no more be perfect.”

We are here to do community, not look for the best community or the perfect community. This is what the Gospel calls us to. We have a perfect God and let us serve an imperfect people like as we are, and build and do community to the glory of God.

[5] Elders/Examples
Alright, so that's the four things I want to share. There's one more! This one, very few will get it because it's a bit off, weird, but I just need to put it in. I'll tell you why. And number 5 - it's about elders and examples.

God gives you spiritual elders, spiritual examples to help you spiritually. And these are the verses you can look at, For example, “He gave the apostles, prophets, evangelists, shepherds, teachers to equip the saints, for the work of the ministry for building up the body of Christ.” [Eph 4:11-12] We also have Hebrews 13:7, “Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the Word of God. Consider the outcome of their life, and imitate their faith.”

So the Bible tells us, God tells us that yah, He gives us spiritual leaders, He gives you spiritual leaders for your spiritual benefit, to help you grow. Now, I put that in, elders/examples. I hope, this is something you will consider, maybe in the new year. Look for someone who can help you grow spiritually, maybe someone you could learn from. He can disciple you, mentor you, commit yourself to a discipling opportunity. And I think that's a great way to grow.

It's just like learning tennis. You can watch all the YouTube videos you want, but I think it's a … a lot easier if there's a coach beside you. And I think spiritually it helps, if there's just someone beside you, you can learn from.

So these are the 5 things, you say, “How to remember these 5?” You know how to remember? All the smart people in Gospel Light. You have realized this morning, I'm not using SSSSS or PPPPP. It's a S.P.A.C.E.

Why? Because this is what it means to grow spiritually. We create SPACE in our lives for the Holy Spirit to work in our hearts. That's what we do. That's what we do. You can't grow yourself. You know that? You can't grow yourself. A little child can't say, “Grow lah! Grow lah! He cannot. But as he creates space, for food, for rest, for exercise, to work in his life, he begins to grow.

And as Christians, we can't grow ourselves, but we can create space for God and His Spirit to work in us. You know, I saw a Netflix program during circuit breaker, it's about food. I'm a foodie, my family loves food. And this is one documentary, docuseries about food. And it's about soya sauce, salt, soya sauce.

It shows an old soya sauce manufacturer in Japan. And it is about …. wow, I'm so sorry, it looks so dark, but it's okay, you get idea later on. They use barrels like this, wooden barrels. They put all the soya beans there, in these barrels deep down. And the manufacturer says, “We wait for the micro- organisms in the air to ferment the mixture.”

You know your soya sauce is fermented stuff? I didn't know that. It's fermented stuff. And these micro- organisms live inside these barrels and on the surface. I see how yucky that is, but that's how your soya sauce in the original way should come about, alright. And they just take that dish and collects the soya sauce, that … that is produced.

And this manufacturer says, “I don't make the soya sauce, the micro-organisms make it. I just create an environment where they can thrive.” Let me put these words back for you. “I don't make the soya sauce, the micro-organisms make it, I just create an environment where they can thrive.”

You know something? I don't form Christ in me, it's the Spirit of God who does it. I just try my best to create an environment where the Holy Spirit can most work in my heart. When I open the Scriptures and study it, when I bow my knees in prayer, when I look at adversities in my life and respond to it in a worthy way. When I'm involved in deep spiritual community and when I observe my leaders and learn from them, I'm creating space for the Holy Spirit to grow me and to change me.

“And that's what I will do pandemic or no pandemic. This is what I devote myself to. I don't devote myself to distractions, and to add to this fatalistic attitude that I can't do very much during COVID. I can do a lot.” You can do a lot, you realize that? You can devote yourself to spiritual self-care - to train yourself for godliness. SPACE, I hope you remember these 5 things in your life.

Now, this is so important because if you want to be a missional church, you got to take care of your spiritual life. Jesus says, “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in Me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.” [John 15:5]

We start or I start with this message this year because if we are to say, “Let's go! Let's do! Let's produce! And you are not abiding in Jesus, it's all useless, empty and vain.” “Without Me, you can do nothing. Broken off from the vine, the branch cannot bear fruit.”

So if you want to abound for Jesus, make sure you abide with Jesus. Before you look at your fruit, take care of your roots. If you want to have great breath in ministry, take care of your depth in ministry. If I may say this, “Before you are assigned, make sure you are aligned to Jesus.” How? S P A C E. Before you can help anyone else, make sure you're healthy spiritually.

We have not taken the airplane for some time - most of us. But if you remember, whenever you go on airplanes, the air stewardess will make that announcement, “If we hit any air turbulence or in the case of emergencies, oxygen masks will drop down from your ceiling, from the top.” And what do they say to you?

What is our instinct? Our instinct is to take that mask and to help our kid. But do you know what they say to you? “Put on your oxygen mask for yourself first, then you help your kid.” You know why? Because if you don't put on for yourself you ‘chik cok lok kio’ [in a clumsy state in Hokkien dialect]. You help your kid, both of you faint and die. So help yourself first, then you are in the right position to help others.

You want to be missional, you want to be fruitful, you want to help others to Jesus, take care of your spiritual life first. Let me remind you, the form of Gospel Light, the form of church today is different. We can't gather as a big group. We can't eat like what we used to. We can't sing out loud. We wear face masks. We have all these barriers, a lot of difficulties, a lot of changes. But the function doesn't need to change. It's an essential service in this world.

We are called by the Gospel, to live out the Gospel and to give out the Gospel. Right? But before you do that, and as you do that, please remember to always be drinking in the Gospel. You know what, this is what I pray for you, every day too. That Gospeliters would drink in the Gospel, live out the Gospel, and to give out the Gospel. So this is what it means to be a missional church, four-part series.

Number one, it begins with me. So let 2021 be a year where you are devoted, committed, passionate about growing in Jesus, growing strong spiritually. Have spiritual self-care, train yourself in godliness, cleanse yourself from sin, and devote yourself to S P A C E.

I hope next year 2022, when I, when we have a sermon series again, I can talk about the celebration and the joy and advancement in your life. May God bless you. May God help you to really have a blessed start to 2021. Let's all bow for a word of prayer together.

Father, we are thankful for this morning. Thankful we can hear the Word of God. Thankful we can be reminded, that whilst there may be many, many things for us to do, this is that one thing that cannot be taken, that we must sit at the feet of Jesus, and to learn, that we must take care of our roots that in, in order for us to bear fruit.

I want to pray for a church that will be wise. Wise to create space in our lives, for Your Spirit to work in our hearts. Wise to have spiritual self-care. Wise to grow to be more like Your Son. Father, would You do that, strengthen us in the inner man by Your Spirit that Christ may dwell in our hearts by faith. That being rooted and grounded in love, we might comprehend the magnitude, the height, the depth, the length and breadth of the love of God. That we might then be filled with all the fullness of God.

I pray Gospel Light will be more and more like the Acts church for today. A people centered on the Savior, filled with the Spirit, rooted in the Scripture, faithful in supplication, genuine in sacrifice, effective in soul winning and joyful in suffering.

I pray that Your people would drink in the Gospel, live out the Gospel and give out the Gospel. Lord, this is Your will, I believe with all my heart from Your Word and we ask for Your mercy to bring this about in our life.

Once again, we pray for friends who are here who do not know Jesus. Lord, help them this morning even to see that You are calling people out of this sinful world to belong to You and Your Son. Help them to see that Jesus is that Savior You have sent, some 2000 years ago to die as a sacrifice to pay for our sins. Please work in their hearts, that they too might repent and believe and receive eternal life. So thank You again for this morning. Bless Your people. We ask this in Jesus’ Name.

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