21 Aug 2016

Relationship To Fellowship To Unity


Relationship To Fellowship To Unity
Pastor Paul Choo
21 August 2016

God is a Trinity.
The Three Persons of the God-head enjoy a relationship from eternity past till eternity to come.
We Christians who enjoy a relationship with God should also enjoy relationships with our Christian brethren.
This is generally not apparent in most churches today - which usually resemble people attending a concert rather than a spiritual family of brethren.
So we need to learn to build relationships that lead to fellowship and ultimately to unity.


Sermon Transcript

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Well thank God, in 2 to 3 months’ time, we’ll be in a beautiful building, in a very strategic part of Singapore. My feeling is that very quickly the numbers in the church would grow.  You see, there are roughly about 200,000 people in Punggol and probably about 20% of them profess to be Christians, so that’s about 40,000 of them.  Other than GLCC, there's only another Christian Church and a Catholic Church, so there are just three churches at this time in Punggol and we do our mathematics 40,000 divide by three, it's about 13,000 people.  Now of course not all of them would transfer their membership from their previous church because they move to Punggol but the point is even if a fraction of that 40,000 join one of these 3 churches that’s a lot of people. It will double our numbers, it would triple our numbers in no time.  Now the question is – is that good or bad?

Now, having more people, that's good but then having more people, that don't know each other, they just walk into church on Sunday, hear a message, soothe their conscience and go out.  Is that good?  Is that what God wants?  I mean, if God was the owner of a cinema, a movie hall, that's great.  Wow, plenty of people but God's a Father.  Father wants a family, not just a mass of people.  A family is about unity so when we have so many people coming in, what will be the result?  You know, we are so few here actually but how do you feel when you came in this morning?  Was it like walking into a movie hall almost?  Maybe you said hi to 2 or 3 people, maybe you knew the names of a few people, the rest, they are just strangers, they’re just like going to a movie, you see some people, you’ve seen them before, just walk in, walk out.  If that's the feeling we have now, what will it be like in Punggol when, not just, right now, roughly about 15, 20 newcomers a week, I think that's about it.  What about 150, 200 newcomers every week and soon the newcomers will outnumber the older guys and everybody is a stranger and so the culture would be, this is really a place of strangers, we come in, mind our own business, go out, hear a good message, soothe our conscience, fulfill our religious duties and that's it.  Is that the church you want to be in?  Is that a church that would please God?  I'm sure, I don't know about what you want but I'm sure it won't please God.

So today I say just 2 or 3 months left, what do we do?  We’re so concerned about the facilities there, what lighting, what air-conditioning and all that stuff.  We’re so concerned about, you know the transportation and stuff like that but church is not about facilities, church is not about transportation, church is about people, you and me.  Are we ready for the move?  It’s going to be a paradigm shift.  Punggol will be a community church, we will be a part of Punggol and Punggolites will be a part of GLCC, I hope.  You know right now we’re kind a like a transient church, people come in and go out, don’t really have strong sense of community.  It’s like a Bible Church where people come for a Bible study and just go off, whoa I learnt something today.  But when we get to Punggol, what are we going to be like? We have 2 to 3 months, I think these are the most critical months before we move to Punggol. What kind of culture will we have when we’re moving?  All strangers, just walking in, walking out like ships passing in the night or will this be a family, God’s family?

So today I want to talk on something I think that is very needful, Relationship to Fellowship to Unity, because I think without that Unity, you can’t call it God’s church.  You can't honestly pray our Father. It will just be a gathering.

Let’s begin with Relationship. Why’s relationship so important to human beings?  Now God made plants, God made animals, God made a lot of things.  To plants, is relationship important? Not really.  Take a plant put in a pot, it’s ok, fine.  Animals, they learn to fly, they learn to swim, off they go.  They don’t know who their mother is, they don’t know who their father is, they don’t know who their grandfather is.  Who cares?  But for humans, relationship’s vital.  You know is it something that society taught us, it’s something we learn in school?  No the Bible tells us, it's something that God made in us.  The Bible tells us…. then God said in Genesis chapter 1 verse 26 … Let us make man in our image, after our likeness, now that is very interesting.  We know God is one. There is only one God. You have to worship one God but our, that’s plural, wow is this bad English?  It should be “let us make man in my image God should say and after my likeness”. You said “Pastor we know la, aiyah (local dialect “sigh”) the Bible tells us God is One but Three in one, that’s a Trinity, it’s exactly what it is. God is one no question about it.  There’s one God, we worship one God, not three Gods but there’re three persons in this One God.  Now of course no human mind can figure that out.  I mean humanly we can figure everything about God than we are bigger than God, we are wiser than God.  Of course we can’t figure that out.  There’re many people in other religions say “how can it be – one God, three people, cannot be”?  Arrogant people they are.  They think they can figure out God, they can’t even figure out what is eternity, they can’t even figure out what is infinity, no mind can, no computer can and they can figure what God is!  Arrogance!  With God, with God all things are possible.  If God is one God in 10 people and then in 1,000 people, that’s possible, He’s God! But what's that got to do with Relationship?

Some of you say you know, Pastor, we know the Trinity, one God, three persons, God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit we know that, eh Pastor, it’s beautiful because the Gospel is all about this.  God the Father in heaven loves us so He sent God the Son, to be born of a virgin, a little baby came out, this little baby hundred percent God hundred percent man again we can’t figure that out?  How is that possible, mathematics says 50%, 50%.  How can be 100% God 100% man but this little baby is a miracle, 100% God, 100% man and this little baby had one goal, one role, one mission to grow up, go to the Cross.  This amazing baby on the Cross as God, He knew all of us even in this little hall, we don’t know everybody here, we’re limited, how many people we can know.  As God on the Cross He knew everybody.  As God He knew all our sins.  I don't even know all my sins.  A lot of my sins I don’t even realize they were sins.  But as a God on the Cross, He knew me, He knew my sins and He remembered all and it took everyone and He didn’t miss out a single one.  Perfectly He took every sin of ours but as God, He can’t suffer, He can’t suffer pain, He can’t suffer shame, He can’t bleed, He can’t die but as man, He can suffer, for our sins, He can bleed, He can die that’s why He’s a perfect Savior, only one person could be the Savior, one being could be the Savior, Jesus Christ, 100% God, 100% man could be the Savior and He died for all our sins and He said it is finished.  That penalty of sin, fully paid, that’s what it means and 3 days later, He rose from the dead, proved it that He had paid for all our sins.

Wow He reached heaven, He sent God the Holy Spirit, third person of the Trinity who lives in every believer.  So as Christians we know the Trinity, God the Father loves us, He sent God the Son who died for our sins.  God the Son died for our sins went to Heaven and send God the Holy Spirit to be our partner, our companion, our comforter.  Every Christian knows the Trinity, knows the Gospel but let me ask you a question.  Before God created the world, thousands and thousands of years ago, before God did his salvation work in the trillion of years, God was before, He created the first angel or the first man.  What was God doing? He’s been there for eternity right?  Trillions of years, what was God doing?  Was He bored, twiddling His thumbs, for trillions of years?  What do you think God was doing?  Before He created the world, before He gave His salvation work, before He did His sanctifying work?  What did He do for trillion of years before that?  3 Persons, co-existed, co-equal.  What do you think these three persons in the one God, the God of love, what do you think they were doing? They were having relationships, long before man.  God was not bored, God was not lonely, God was fully satisfied before He created the first man.  Long before anything He did, there was something called Relationship and the eons you can think back and your mind can travel back as far as you can think of, there’s one activity, it’s called Relationship, that’s why you, when God made us in His image, after Our image, in Our likeness, what does that mean?  Do we look like God?  I don't know.  We don’t even know what God looks like? He is a Spirit, what it means is that we’re made with that same DNA, God.  It’s about Relationships, folks, so Relationships are something that go way back, critical, vital for human life.

You know many of us here very proudly tell our friends, you know we don’t have a religion here, it’s about Relationship, it’s all about Relationship with God and your friends come in here and they look at this church, people walking in, walking out, like strangers.  You say it’s about Relationships.  I don't even see any Relationship in this church.  It’s like a movie hall, it’s no difference from the movie hall I went to last week?  Nobody seems to know anybody, nobody cares anyway.  Few little groups here and there, just like a movie hall, buddies go together, buddies talk, buddies go together and they talk and the rest, don’t care a hoot about the rest.  Do we reflect God as a church, the God who values Relationship, the God of love.  You see we what, who is God?  What is our God?  What character is our God?

You know every week about maybe 15, 20 newcomers come in.  Many of them coming because they heard Pastor Jason’s sermons, very very good sermon, on Youtube and wow!  It’s a good church and I want to go and listen to a good message and they come in here and the message is good, then they look around and look at the church, the gap, that’s why 15 to 20 coming in every week and we lose 15 to 20 every week, our front door and our back door is the same size.   I mean the truth is if 15 to 20 came every week, you times that by 50 that’s about a thousand people every week, every year, I mean.  By now this place should be having 10 services.  Why is it that they come in and they go out?  Is our friend’s preaching, our Pastor’s preaching like arrgghh, no good man!  It’s good preaching, good stuff.  Why are they not staying?  Is the fault of your Pastor or you? You see the church is people, it’s us, not Pastor Jason’s church, it’s our, we are the church.  Do we reflect Christ?  Do we reflect the God we talk about, the Trinity the holy triune God?  So you know you say Pastor it’s not fair you know, we have a welcome committee here.  Every week you know a few guys smiling away giving out ah the Shine.

Can you imagine you go back to the Chinese New Year reunion dinner and the only one that greets you at the reunion dinner is the maid at the door, “hey welcome to the Choo family dinner, welcome” and then you go to the family dinner and not a single one knows your name or cares to know who you are.  Now you know when you appoint someone to say hello and welcome it’s very different.  It’s his job you know.  He is just doing his job.  Eh Pastor it’s not fair, we have a communications department, you know and after that we send them a note “we are so glad that you came” I think it’s something like that, we hoped to see you.  Imagine you go to your family reunion and then after being greeted by the maid and nobody else says hello to you, one week later you get this beautiful letter “we are so glad that you came to the Choo family reunion dinner”, you know you want to arrgh [action vomit]… it’s disgusting man! It doesn't tie up.  The whole thing doesn’t tie up, the message don’t tie up with the people, the letter don’t tie up with the people, what’s all this?  Drama!  What’s all this about? You say Pastor, I don't know how to build relation, you say relation, relation is important, okay I don't know how to relate, I understand that.  You see, remember this ah, the devil, from day one, from day one, what was his job, what was his main job?  Break Relationships, from day one, the first couple, he split them up, he made them accuse each other.  The first siblings, Adam and Cain, one kill the other.  Hey my friends, the devil from day one, has tried to break Relationship, he knows what is critical in human society, so how much we know, how much we owe, what position we have in life.  It’s about Relationships and he breaks it up.

You know right now, many of us with increased skills in studying, increased skills in earning a living, skills in everything, we got more skills, more possessions, more gadgets but less Relationships, all wrong, you say aiyah … younger generation, you look them all the time Facebook Facebook and now we can blame the younger generation and yes it’s true.  I see the lunch and watch lunch right, my wife and I go for lunch, we go for lunch date and then you see this family 5, 6 people all happily sitting around as a family outing.  Nobody looks at anybody else, entire time, when the food comes, half of them put it down, the other half still and they eat, now the word transpires, they have learned how to have 15,000 20,000 Facebook friends but not one real friend, who’s laughing, the devil.  We can blame the younger generation, what about us, older generation and I speak this with fear and trembling because when I touch on things like Chinese culture, Confucianism, there’s always a little sensitivity, but let me just say this, most of us here are Chinese, most of us are here grew up in the Confucianist kind of upbringing and there’s a lot of good things to say about it, but let me just say this, for them, for the Confucianist, position, role is more important than Relationship.  I'm the papa, that’s my position, wife is mama, children are children, let's keep this Relationship.  So we see this dinner, very nice father, very looks very good and nobody is playing the cell phone, I was at lunch yesterday with my wife, not a word transpired during the entire lunch, 40 minutes.  Papa was the father figure, gentleman, mama was trying to be nice but meekly so because she knew her role, children very good, papa eat, mama eat, and then, not a sound transpired.  Position is very important, harmony is very important but Relationships are more important and the devil will take it away whether it’s by Facebook, whether by some philosophy or whatever, but today what do we have?  People who have no clue how to build Relationships and the family is all about that and human life is all about that and God is all about that.

So how do we begin?  Two months more, what do we do?  Go for a course on Relationships, how to build Relationships in two months.  Let me tell you how you do it right.  One easy step to building Relationships, one easy step... smile, can smile?  Some say yes, some say yes like this, you see for some of you, you smile naturally, that’s good, that’s a blessing, but some of you don't smile naturally, it’s okay but what do you do then? Practice, hey you think this is frivolous right?  This is frivolous, Pastor this is church man, serious stuff here man, theology I want to hear some theology man.  I tell you what theology is, smile, smile-lo-logy!  People cannot see a theology in your head, people cannot see the love in your heart, people can see the smile on your face. You know we spent so much time lifting weights, you can’t even see your biceps man, what six packs, walk around without a shirt, six pack, how all the exercises for what? How much can you show of that? You smile, everybody sees it, everybody sees it.

Hey why’re we spending so much time doing useless stuff, bodily exercise profiteth little, smiling exercises, profiteth much, is that from the scripture? Not directly but yes it is… God of love is my God, peace in my heart, joy in my heart, how must it show in my face?  A smile, otherwise how would anybody know that we truly have joy and peace.  Can the x-ray new MRI you even MRI cannot see what is in your heart, alright, so are you ready to do it?  Smile!  Tomorrow when you face the mirror, do your smile exercises… Alright, you can’t say it’s too hot, I cannot do it, it’s too difficult, I don’t have a gym, anybody can do it, anywhere, smile exercises, are you ready, are you serious, I am serious because it all begins with a smile.  That’s how you’ll have a better home with that.  I’m not just talking about church.  If your home has got smiles, it’ll be a better home let me tell you that.  How do you like to wake up in your home when nobody smiles, morning um, hi Pa, um, miserable ... Alright, so smile.

Step 1, actually there’re three steps, quite complicated.  2 eye contact… Smile, eye contact, stick the head out if it gives a bit more… hi and then say hi.  All in one movement don’t arrgh … hi, you gotta practice alright?  Practice, so it’s smooth like golf swing, you gonna practice until it’s smooth right, anything you do you got to practice, otherwise very stiff, alright so tomorrow morning say hi to yourself, in the mirror, hi hi hi until it becomes natural, until it’s very hard to stop you right.  Next thing, the names uh wa names, Chinese names, Indian names, Filipino names, die la, when you read the Bible has it ever wondered, have you ever wondered why there are so many names in the Bible.  You know well when I first read the Bible, so irritated you know sometimes I like to argue with God why so many names, long long names some more, Hebrew names, how am I supposed to remember all that.  Why do you even bother to write them, they are nobodies, they are non-entities, they did nothing and you keep recording their names for what?  And then you know what, with God, names are long… if you read it in the Old Testament, plenty, but details of events are very few and then they went to this city and utterly destroyed it. Next city, utterly destroyed it.  Eh?  How many days la, how many days to win, what did they do, I want to know.  Not a sound about the event, just recorded the event, no details.  Have you ever noticed any of the Old Testament, very frustrating, so many names you know.

When you have a CG please don’t ask people to read Old Testament, alright, because you embarrass people, a lot of people ask you to read those names, cannot pronounce, Hebrew names 4 syllables, 5 syllables, you know when you read it sounds like Hokkien when it comes out you know and they ask themselves why God, please la, God give me more details about useful beings, like how did they conquer the city, what did they do, were they discouraged, were they depressed, and nothing about it, nothing.  Just names, names, names, what do you think God is doing?  What’s God doing?  God’s telling you, names are important.

You see plants, uh when you drive ah Orchard Road ah, you see a lot of trees right, every day you drive, traffic jam, first tree, 2nd tree, the tree got names or not, this 1st tree called Johnny, 2nd tree called Mary.  Trees got no names.  Nobody names them.  I sit on my balcony, birds fly on my balcony, the same old birds, yellow one, blue one, whatever!  I don’t give them names, eh Mary came, Tony flying in now.  They’re just birds but humans have names.  Special, they have names and a human is identified by names, so whether you have a good memory for names or bad memory for names.  Let me tell you this, your Father is concerned about names, you may not be concerned because you don't think it’s important.  We like details of events, we like details of things – what you ate yesterday, where you went yesterday but God says I'm more interested in the person not where he went, what he did.  Will you try to remember some names?

This morning when you walk into the church, how many people's names did you know?  I think the average if I give a guess is, I walk pass 50 people I think Pastor, I know three names, 3 out of 50, if you get 3 out of 50 in a test, your mother hammer you know right, sure “kenna” caning, 3 out of 50 are you okay or not?  You know with God, some of us don’t even score 1 out of 100.  You know I come to this Church, rarely, alright. When I'm in church, one of my biggest problems is remembering names so I always stand there and watch people coming in and I see the nearest old-time Gospel Lighter.  Eh, eh, this couple new or not?  Pastor, long time here already la, six months already, what’s their name?  They never seem to know?  They never seem to know and they don’t seem to be bothered by it.  You know what kind of church are we?  Is it some movie hall, I mean in the movie hall, you don’t care about people coming in, why do I care but a family reunion when you go to a family reunion, when I use to go to my grandfather, my grand uncle’s house family reunion, every time you do this, who is this cousin, who is this cousin, you try to remember because it's family you know, and next year you come back again, aiyah, one year later, what’s the name again again uh, right … but it’ s important, so will you do that? Will you please practice today.  Smile, hi, I’m Paul, what’s your name, can you do that?  Right, please do it, because when we move to GL …Punggol, let’s have a right culture there, we don't do now, in two months’ time, the swarm of people, the, the chaos there will forget about all these things and can be one new culture “bochap”.  I don’t care, how can I learn so many new people’s names, I got so many things to do, we got to worry about the light, does it come on, the electricity, all the new things, and you forget the people, you know what, Church is people and sometimes I see all this planning about wa whether the light will work and whether the transportation and all this, these are good things, there’s nothing wrong but church is people, more important whether the light works, don’t work, we know each other’s name is okay, no light is ok, you can still have a good time.  Now with the best facilities if you go in like a stranger and go out like a stranger, will you be blessed?  Will God be pleased?  Right, so please start today, right, start smiling on the way out, if you smile 2 on the way in, try 3 on the way out right, make it a point.  Do your best, it’ll make you a better person too, not just a better Gospel Lighter, a better person, if you’re a better father, better mother, a better employee, a better whatever because human life is all about Relationships.

Now how do you build Relationships?  Relationships have layers.  You start with introductions, then you move to the superficial, alright, you cannot, the moment you say hi and then you say oh how’s your spiritual life?  How’s your quiet time?  Oh man, excuse me, give me a break.  Alright ah how about your deep sins?   Some of you start with moving down slowly, move from … hello I’m Paul you are John, you know and then the superficial things like waulau (local slang) raining today ah!  Everybody late ah!  That one OK la, no offence to anybody … eh where’s the coffee “bo-liao” (hokkien no more) ah … you know wow no more coffee ah you know … all these kind of stuff harms nobody but you build little bridges… ok superficial things.  Talk about things that are common, non-intimidating alright then after you warm up a little bit, you can ask personal things. Where’s your wife?  You know, if he doesn’t give you an answer then maybe he quarreled with his wife, just don’t ask anymore alright?  Don’t say eh why she didn’t come today “alamak” (Malay oh dear) you should come with your wife, you know ... errrr don’t have a wife or divorced or whatever.  So you slowly moved into slightly more personal things like you know oh this is your first-time here, were you from another church, stuff like that?  You see you need to slowly move from superficial to personal then you can fully move to the spiritual which I will talk in a moment called Fellowship right but you have to do this.  You have to help Pastor Jason.  He works hard all week preparing a wonderful sermon, people come, people are encouraged by the sermon, they go out and look at your face, up in the sermon time and down outside “kia” (hokkien) go home.  Never to come back again and that’s the truth, front door and back door, same size, who’s at fault, not PJ, you and me, right so that is called Relationships, start building Relationships.

Let’s move to the next one it’s called Fellowship.  What’s Fellowship?  For many people Fellowship is relationship on a deeper level, right? Sir I know you… hey hi … you like to watch play football ah? …. Ya, ya, ya I like football, my favorite club Manchester, alright eh this Sunday come to my house my wife make “laksa” [local dish] we watch ah … Premier league that’s called Fellowship.  Let’s have Fellowship over “laksa” and premiere league.  What it means by Fellowship is friendship to a deeper level, that’s not what Fellowship is, that's not what it is.  Fellowship is a term that only you and I as believers can have, right and is only found in the New Testament.  The word “koinonia” alright forget about Greek, we don’t need to know Greek, alright, smiling is more important than Greek, right.  “Koinonia” means communion, communion means something in common, right simple, right and so when you say Fellowship means we share something in common.  That’s all it means.

In the Old Testament, the children of Israel went to the same place to worship three times a year.  They went to the same place and they went home.  Nothing in common with each other, just the place and then they went home.  If there’s a war, they all went to the war together then after the war, they went home.  Nothing in common, other than a temporary activity but in the New Testament you will find this word Fellowship appears actually after Acts Chapter 2 right.

In Acts Chapter 2, it’s Pentecost.  When the Holy Spirit came down, every believer then had the Holy Spirit in his heart and when you have the Holy Spirit in his heart, he had holy desires, right.  In other words like the Holy Spirit gives you a new DNA right, the DNA of wanting holy things so when you became a believer, the Holy Spirit came into your heart and you have a new DNA.  You want to seek God. What is a DNA, from the Holy Spirit and you want to glorify God, right?  So that is what Fellowship means, we have something in common.

So let me try to define the word Fellowship right, let me try to.  Fellowship is Relationship with others, other Christians because we have a common, we are actively involved in a common activity and that activity is called seeking God, glorifying God or serving God and in the process, as we want to serve our God and glorify our God, we take an interest in one another, alright.  Let me just try to explain a little bit more ah.

In other words in true Fellowship the primary Relationship is with God and as we all want to honour this God, seek this God, serve this God, as we do it together, a side effect happens.  We build Relationships with one another.  The primary Relationship is to glorify God.  Now this is very important because otherwise if you think Fellowship is just so we can have more bonding right?  Four of us, five of us get more bonding after a while you get tired of these people.  Arrgh every week in CG every time pray about his son's kindergarten exam, huhh….  “chuan ah chuan ah” (local dialect – tired).  Every week la pray for my son’s this week spelling, next week and huh… you know after a while you get tired of each other or you know each other so well until aiyah, every week you come, same thing la, and after a while you get bored and worst, right.  It’s almost like a family reunion, why do the kids come together because papa is there la, you know many times when papa dies, all the kids disperse because the common goal, the common activity, is no more and everybody has their own lives to live but as long as papa is there, especially when we got to do with something for papa’s sake, 50th anniversary, wow all the kids come together and actually the goal is not to be bonding with one another it’s for papa but as they try to do something for papa, eh they get closer siblings, you get it?  That is what Fellowship is.  That’s how CG hold together.  How you want to seek God, you want to do some outreach through God, you want to do some mission through God, you want to do some evangelism and we do it together and that holds us together and soon we get interested in each other’s lives.

How many CGs do you think I attend a week? Some of you said you don’t even come to church Pastor?  Average at least five CGs every week, Monday Tuesday Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, yes, where do you do it?  With my CG.  I have a CG.  Pastor Vic and Elder Leong and myself, we’ve been in this CG forever and we meet every morning, almost every morning as long as I am in Singapore and we talk about the things of God and we pray together for years and I don’t know how many years.  You know if people as different as Pastor Vic and myself and Lick Tien, very hard to find, you know.  We are very different.  What holds us together for year after year, what holds us together – common goal, a common activity, God’s church, God's missions, alright?

So I hope you understand that Fellowship is not about relationships on a deeper level no, no, Fellowship is primarily about Relationship with God, we all come together to do something for God, do something and as we do this thing for God ha!  We have a beautiful Relationship.  Get your vertical Relationships right and your horizontal ones will follow, doesn’t matter with family.  If you get a family Relationship right with God, your Relationship with wife is probably going to follow to be better and better and your kids.
You try to build your vertical ones and forget your horizontal one, you built a house on sand.  Alright, so let me just say that CGs are very important after you move from Relationships and all that, after the smiling face is over then you get to know someone the next thing is try to encourage each other to go to a CG.

Now some of you will say “aiyah” (local – sigh) Pastor I really don't need it.  You know spiritually I hear Pastor Jason on Sunday.  Monday I hear John Piper.  Tuesday I hear Francis Chan.  Wednesday, I hear John MacArthur, Thursday “walau” (local slang like wow) you got so many messages huh …. Pastor you know how many messages I hear a week? No need la, CG for what?  Alright let’s see what the Bible says, “are you ever going to have a need for CG?”  Okay this happened in Acts chapter 2, right, Acts chapter 2 is the starting of the new Testament church right?  On the day 1 in the New Testament Church, 3000 people came wow, there’s a lot right don’t expect 3000 on day one in Punggol but expect a few hundred.  Now so these who receive his word were baptized and they were added that day about 3000 souls and they devoted themselves to the apostles teaching and the Fellowship and to the breaking of bread and prayers.  That’s interesting.  The apostles were teaching, hey getting a word from the apostles who were just endued and empowered with the Holy Spirit man that's spirit-filled preaching, that’s a truth in the power of the Spirit. You think that’s enough.  I mean Pastor Jason’s preaching is good but it’s not the apostles teaching, wow and you know what, what did they do after that?  They didn’t say wa know a lot already and it say and they had Fellowship. Why, what’s the balance?

Teaching goes to your head.  You can learn a lot from a good teacher but how does this teaching become applied in your life?  How does what you know become what you do, but that needs a lot of encouragement.  See learning is natural.  Thank God, God gives us the capacity to learn but to do something has a lot of inertia in it.  That’s why I tell you to smile.  I tell you tomorrow the challenge.  I tell you for many of you, your muscle cannot go up tomorrow… arrgh this is weird man how to smile at myself?  You know doing something is very different and so the early church were told, you learn the truth is not enough you need to gather together and encourage one another, challenge one another, role model for one another, be accountable, that’s how you get from here to action.  You need encouragement for that.  You need role models, you need someone to check on you.  That's why children are born into families, when they watch oh brushing teeth is not that hard, bathing is not that hard, umh not that horrible, I think I can bathe, you know but if you grow up a home and nobody bathes, you know what you won’t bathe for a year I tell you that.  There’re cultures that don’t bathe at all.  You never saw anybody bathe, and they don’t, you know when you smell yourself every day and you don’t know you got a smell.  It’s normal so what happens is Bible tells this “how many of you here, you will think you got enough in your head, you learn enough from your Bible study from whatever… let me tell you, the Bible tells us you need Fellowship to make what’s here, come out in your life.  You need a lot of encouragement to do that. Of course the next one I like the breaking of bread …. what’s breaking of bread… sounds very spiritual right?  Actually means eat together, that’s all it is, common meals.  I heard Punggol will have good food right, that’s very important, very important to eat together and then prayers.

Ok so number one if you think you're so spiritual, so well fed, let me tell you, your head may be very big about to burst but your arms may be very paralyzed and you need someone to encourage you to use your arms, right, so Fellowship group is for you to take what you learn and then encourage each other and watch each other so that you can do it.

Another common reason too busy la, Pastor, too busy and that’s true, everyone of us is busy right, but the Bible says “let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and you need it folks, you need the encouragement and I need encouragement and I’ve been a pastor for over 30 years, I still need my CG and I need it 5 times a week because I know I read the Bible every day I read chapters of it every day but it gets stuck here?

It’s only when I go with my CG and sit with them and Victor and Lick Tien and my sister and others to pray, and you know what, somehow, what’s up here comes down, let’s do something, let’s do something about it.  You need a CG folks, to be encouraged to works.  Christianity is not about you sitting, you studying a subject, it’s a life, it’s a changed life, a transformed life right?

Another one…. Pastor, I went to a CG ah terrible la the last CG, a woman selling MLM all the time and trying to sell health supplement la, ionic water la, whatever, die la I don’t want to go to CG ... I went to this CG this fella keep talking about don’t know what doctrine, don’t know what, always arguing about.  You know my friends, if one CG disappoints you, find another one, alright isn’t that a very common sense answer.  Imagine the first time you went out with a girl and she got bad breath, or whatever, do you say I don’t want to get married forever and ever, amen.   Are you ok or not, are you ok or not? What kind of logic is that? I mean maybe you take a week to recover from the bad breath, a month to recover and after that you must recover la please.  There are people like that, you know Pastor ….  What about you went to a school and then your Primary One, your teacher was terrible, what do you do … don’t go to school?  Which school forever?  What kind of answer is that?  Nonsensical, right, you can’t find one, it’s not the only CG in the world, it’s not the only girl in the world, go try another, try another, there’s no charge you know folks, no limit, find one.

Another one is… Pastor I got a lot of sins la, you know everyone ah I have been doing pastoral counseling for 30 over years, everybody thinks that their sins are very unique. Everybody thinks, you know when they come and tell you is like wa, this one, die la die, Pastor, they dare not look you in the eye, say you know urr, urr, urr, they go round round round, and then they say, you know pastor  I….urh urh, and then they tell you the sin, and then what, I used to tell them that one I also had before.  You see, my friends, you think your sins are unique, you think you are unique, no we all, we all the same you know, sinners saved by grace before we are saved, we all sinners, horrible sinners, I got saved at 33, can you imagine my life before that, why do you think you are so unique, you think the rest are saints saved by grace, no friends, 80 90% of people’s secret problems we all have, you know how to get rid of this problem, go to others who have conquered them.  Sound alcoholics anonymous and all, you know, they think their problem so big and then they go and say a lot of people do have this problem, and they got over them.  You see by hiding them and keeping them, is not going to solve it, and you think you are so unique, let me tell you, you are not unique, we’re all sinners, so you know these are the usual excuses that people gave, let me just say this, at the end of all these excuses, find a CG and join it.  It won’t be a perfect CG but you need it, alright, so I hope that when you get to Punggol, by the time we get to Punggol all of you would have already found a CG to go into, right.

Now finally we come to Unity.  When we get bigger, we’re going to get bigger, it’s good and it can be bad.  Israel, the Bible says became so many like the sand on the seashore, wow!  That’s a lot of people.  Israel had one problem, no unity.  Tribe fought against tribe, north fought against south and today, Israel and the Jews are by-word for people who are scattered in disgrace, no other group has this special, special recognition as a group of people, scattered and lost forever.  When you talk about Jews, people like arrgh… not a good sound… God’s people you know, God’s people and yet when people talk about Jews it’s like huhh…. sad how can the same breath you talk about God and the world talks about Jews and it’s like something bad.  What happened?  They became many but never united.

This morning I checked statistics in America.  I just keyed in and googled percentage of Christians in America.  83% claim to be Christians, 70% claim to be attending a church of some sort, wow it’s almost like a totally Christian country.  Then you look at their lives, in morality, broken families, violence, every ugly thing.  83% are Christians and they can be so ugly? Huh what happened?  You see big doesn't mean anything, it may just be a big disgrace for God.  You know I work a lot with people, people of other faiths alright and there’s one faith I don’t want to mention but a very anti-Christian and they’re not anti-me, they’re not anti-Christ but they always say this … You look at America, nothing to do with America, look at America, immorality, the horrible things and all these and that is what Christianity is all about and I say, 83% of them are Christians and it’s almost like total majority, 13% of Americans do not claim any faith, that is 96% already only 4% of other faiths so it is as good as a Christian country but look at the disgrace, look at the shame it brings to God’s name and when these people say these things, I have nothing to say.

I got a letter two days, email two days ago, from an Indonesian friend.  Pastor please pray for this church, the largest, one of the largest churches there.  Things are very tense now because elections are coming, official, elections for church officials are coming.  “Walau” (local slang – wow) she lives in Indonesia and she is not worried about bombing, she’s not worried about terrorists, she’s worried about problem in the church.  He didn’t say ... “eh, terrorists very tense know, in the church very tense, wow, this is terrible.  You mean go outside is safer is it?  Go Starbucks it’s safer, is it?  You know what kind of church will we be, that’s my question… just big, just more people?   I hope we can say we’ll be a church as united around the Father, one communion, one sharing, we want to glorify His name and we’ll encourage each other to glorify His name and work together for that and when we have that one goal, the rest will follow so can I end by just saying two things.  Smile, right?  Can you do that?  Smile, please take me seriously, it sounds frivolous, it sounds like you can change the culture of the church and then those of you who’s been some while in this church, join a CG.

Just two things, we can’t do a lot of things and we don’t need to.  Christianity is not about doing everything that we can that must be done.  Christianity is do your best leave the rest.  Thank God for a good partner, we do our little part, He will do the rest.  We’re faithful in little things, trust Him to be faithful in the rest, right ?

So today, can I have your commitment?  Smile right, practice.  Tomorrow bodily exercise profited little, forget your gym work, right, do your smile work, it will profit this church.  Very simple things and then pray about a CG to join and don’t be like those Christians always praying.  Every time you ask them, they say, Pastor praying …years later still praying.  You know, pray and then take a step of faith.  Don’t pray and wait for a CG to drop in your sitting room, take that step of faith.

Let us pray.  Father thank you for this time, thank you that You will build Your house, You can build this Church to be a good church, a church with that reflects God, that reflects character of God’s love, a church that reflects the Gospel. Lord we pray that You will guide each of us to do our part.  Thank You we don’t have to do a lot, we just need to take one step, two steps, as we trust You to guide us and bring us on this journey.  Lord bless this Church and when we move to Punggol we’ll be a church, the right culture, new people come in, it will be a good culture.  Lord we trust You to build GLCC.  In Jesus’ name, we pray, Amen.

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