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Scripture Memory: Provision.
VERSE : Psalm 65:11 
“Thou crownest the year with thy goodness; and thy paths drop fatness.

” * * *

O Worship the LORD in the Beauty of Holiness

5 January 2014
8 am & 1045am Worship Service:
Rev Charles Seet (Beginning the Year with God, Ps 65:11-13)
6:00 pm Evening Service:
Rev Quek Keng Khwang (The Only Begotten Son, Ps 2:7; 8:4-6)

12 January 2014
8 am & 1045am Worship Service:
Rev Quek Keng Khwang (O Taste and See that the Lord is Good, Ps 34:8)
6:00 pm Evening Service:
Eld Khoo Peng Kiat (Christ the Promised Seed, Ps 89:1-4)

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REFLECTIONS ON THE BIBLICAL TOUR OF TURKEY & GREECE 

Thirty six Lifers and friends visited Turkey and Greece (biblical Asia Minor, Macedonia & Achaia) from 6 to 18 December 2013.  We thank and praise our Almighty God for precious lessons learnt, good weather and safety as we traced part of Apostle Paul’s missionary journeys and visited some cities of the churches of Revelation. Thank God for our beloved Pastor Charles Seet who prayed for us at the airport, and many Lifers who interceded for us throughout the two weeks. All glory be to God! The following are personal reflections from some participants, young and old.

***

I hesitated to join this trip as I was unsure of the food served. I do not like unleavened bread, lamb’s brain, liver, and other strange food. But I desired to see the Bible come alive. So I asked my parents to let me go. This trip gave me an insight into the harsh weather and hostile people faced by apostle Paul. Yet God preserved him for the sake of the gospel. Paul endured cold winters and hot summers, traveling for days from one city to another exposed to the elements of nature, in journeys that took us a few hours in the warm comfort of our bus. I experienced how our persecuted early church forefathers worshipped God in the caves when we held our first Sunday worship service in a cold cave in Turkey. Hence I am thankful for the comfort of our church sanctuary and the freedom of worship in Singapore.

God changed Paul from a persecutor of Christians into a preacher empowered to share the Gospel. Likewise, God can empower us, if we confess our sins, receive Jesus as our Lord and Saviour, and commit ourselves to serve Him. Throughout our trip, God blessed us with good weather. He is with us every day of our lives and draws us back when we go astray. Before this trip, I could not imagine what the places mentioned in the Bible looked like. Now I have a better understanding of the cities and the distances. I loved this trip. Thank God for His blessings! 
— Jotham Lim (10 years old)

***

I have always considered Israel to be THE Holy Land and have very little awareness of the rich biblical heritage of Turkey and Greece.  I am therefore very grateful to God for this wonderful opportunity to journey through the places mentioned in the book of Revelation and experience part of Paul’s missionary journeys. The trip has sparked my desire to read up on other important biblical sites.

Bible lessons came alive as I stood on the grounds where the events probably took place centuries ago.  From Cappadocia to Athens, I was awestruck by the beauty of unique geographical formations and great architectural feats, as well as the historical and biblical heritage of the sites.  Of course God made it all the more spectacular by occasionally sprinkling them with fresh powdery snow!

One of the first sites we visited was the 7-floor deep underground city of Kaymakli.  Some early Christians saved at Pentecost in Jerusalem escaped to Asia Minor to avoid persecution. They might have hid in these underground cities.  As I wriggled through the tight labyrinth of tunnels, (done intentionally to slow down and block enemies’ advance), I sensed the constant fear of early Christians being pursued and attacked by the enemies of the gospel. It made me appreciate and thank God for the freedom of worship we enjoy.

In Turkey, we saw the ruins of some of the seven churches in the Book of Revelation.  All that remained of these cities were roofless ruins that told the stories of glorious past.  These historical sites reminded me that all riches and grand projects would not last forever. I need to get right with God and not hold on so tightly to my earthly treasures.

As we journeyed into Greece, I am reminded of Paul’s faithfulness as he heeded the Holy Spirit’s prompting not to go into Asia but instead to Macedonia i.e. Greece (Acts16:6-11), and because of this, the gospel reached non-Jews and was spread throughout the Roman Empire.   Our Greek guide Voula explained very clearly the little details in Paul’s writing and  his contextual references. As we traced part of Paul’s journey in the comfort of our air-conditioned coach,  I was truly humbled by Paul’s endurance of discomfort, inclement weather, hostile terrain, and hazards because he was faithful to preach the gospel to the lost even to the ends of the world.  I am thankful to Hock Chin and Wendy for preparing the very useful devotional materials and for organising the trip!     —Angelena Chan

“Iron sharpeneth iron; So a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.” (Prov 27:17).  This verse comes to mind as I reminisce the 13 days that the 36 of us spent together in our journey through Turkey and Greece.  The highlights were following the footsteps of the Apostle Paul in his missionary journeys (albeit in a much more comfortable environment) and seeing some of the churches in the book of Revelation. It has given us a greater understanding of and renewed impetus to read God’s Word.  We enjoyed warm fellowship over meals, in the coach, climbing up hills and in our joint activities. We were especially touched by the sincere sharing. For some, it was the first time we spoke to one another, even though we have been in Life Church for many years. 

Brother Eng Lin exhorted us to be rich in Spirit like the church in Smyrna that received no condemnation from Christ.  Throughout the trip, the strong helped the weak, the wiser ones dispensed words of wisdom and we prayed for one another.  Such love, support and camaraderie can only come from like-minded people washed by the blood of Christ.  It is our hope that this fervent desire to learn and to please God will continue long after the trip as we strive to be faithful all the days of our life. 
                                            —Boon Siong & Lay Hoon

***

Roland and I have been much blessed by this biblical tour of Turkey and Greece. To prepare for the trip, we were encouraged to read Richard Mayhue’s book ‘What Would Jesus Say About Your Church?’ and the relevant scripture texts from Acts and Revelation. I was glad that I did, as I had a better understanding of Paul’s missionary journeys and Christ’s message to the seven churches. I was encouraged reading the daily devotions and personal reflections prepared by Deacon Lee and his wife, Wendy, as I evaluated my spiritual state and learnt to better respond to adversities in life.

I enjoyed learning the historical and biblical significance of the various places. The magnificent wall murals and ceiling frescoes painted in one of the Byzantine monasteries at Meteora depicted the parables and events in the New Testament. I was touched by the faith of early Christians who would rather be martyred than to renounce Christ.

The Sunday worship services were inspirational, encouraging and spiritually enriching. The two messages delivered by Deacon Lee reminded me to trust God in times of trials and also to be courageous like Paul, who was strengthened by the grace of God.  I was moved by our worship in a humble rock cave in Cappadocia as it gave me an idea of how the persecuted Christians worshipped in the early church. Following Sunday, we worshipped in a Christian nursing home cum youth centre in Athens that was a gospel outreach to the elderly and the young.

Through the tour, I saw many impressive ancient sites and beautiful scenery and was amazed by God’s creation especially the volcanic rock caves in Cappadocia. I understand better Paul’s missionary work, church history, the book of Acts and the messages to the seven churches in Revelation. We were blessed with having two very experienced, knowledgeable and enthusiastic guides for both Turkey and Greece. I learnt much especially from Ms Voula, a walking encyclopaedia of history, cultures and Scriptures.

This trip has challenged me to think about my focus in life. Do I focus on my career, family, personal pursuits and remain lukewarm towards spiritual matters?  I pray that I will be committted to grow spiritually in the knowledge of God and walk close to Christ daily. May the Lord help me to be like Lydia (Acts 16:14) who responded to the things spoken by Paul.  —Mrs Teo-Lim Eng Nguk

***

It has been a great experience of God’s blessing as I learnt many priceless lessons. The fellowship, care and concern of brethren within the group was evident throughout the trip. Thank God for the continuous prayer of the church for our safety. Everything turned out very well despite having cold and wet weather on some days. Even our Turkey guide mentioned that our God is blessing us as we did not meet with any bad weather despite Istanbul shutting down from snowstorm a few days after we left. In the low season we had many sites almost exclusively to ourselves. Some of the scenery, such as at Cappadocia, was spectacular, especially when heightened by snowfall. It looked almost right out of a Christmas card. The accommodation and food were definitely above expectations.

The two knowledgeable guides explained the biblical context and background of each location so well that I suffered brain freeze from information overload. I had a sense of what it must have been like for the Christians, in apostle Paul’s time, to worship and to travel great distances on foot preaching the gospel from city to city, especially in winter. We experienced freezing temperature during our first Sunday worship in a cold cave in Cappadocia.  Those using touch screen devices probably had frozen fingers.  Great was the faith of the saints of old. I was cold even with all my winter clothes. How much more challenging it must have been two thousand years ago without thermal wear, heat pads, and down jackets.  The cities in ruins that we visited once stood grand thousands of years ago. All skyscrapers that we build today will also fall to ruin one day. Unless the Lord builds the house, we labour in vain to build it. Let us number our days so that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.

At a nursing home run by an evangelical Christian group in Athens, we had our second Sunday worship service. We sang Christmas carols to the elderly, and were encouraged by a testimony from the Director of the nursing home. Some of the elderly were humming along with us despite language differences and dementia. Greece has laws against proselytizing and yet the evangelical church fulfilled the Great Commission by reaching out to the old and young through their care ministry. —Dn Choong Chan Yong

***

As we traced Paul’s steps through his missionary journeys in Turkey and Greece, the Lord  watched over our health and safety. We thank God for giving us the opportunity to see the sights where Paul once stood, walked, lived, endured hardships, faced the hostile Jews and crowds he tried to reach out to and enjoyed sweet fellowship with those who heard and believed in the gospel.

We were impressed by Paul’s life, summarised in Acts 20. He served with humility and tears through trials (v.19) but he did not shrink (v.20): he continued the ministry which he received from our Lord, until he finished the course, to testify of the gospel of the grace of God (v.24).

As we journey on, may the Lord help us, that in whatever we do for the Lord, not to shrink in the face of any discouragement or trial, but stay on course with courage and determination.  We thank God for His grace and mercies and for His abundant undeserved blessings showered upon us. May The Lord find us faithful, until He returns.   —Joseph Foo, Ai Lin and Darren

***

Never did I think I would be going on a church expedition to such exotic places like Turkey and Greece. It was heartwarming to see the places where Paul preached the gospel. It was fun even though we had to travel miles on end each day. The sights and senses were unforgettable, especially our Sunday worship in a cave church. I felt the extreme cold which the saints of old must have experienced during their harsh winters. Despite the bitterly cold environment, they accomplished great work for the Lord. While it was a pity we could not ride the hot air balloon at Cappadocia due to strong winds, we witnessed breathtaking snowing scenery of fairy chimneys and conical rock formations. It reminded me of my Creator God who is Almighty and in control of everything. Our visit to a nursing home in Athens moved me as I saw how much the evangelical Christians there cared for and loved their surrounding community. Despite the laws against proselytization, giving back to the community remains one of their highest priorities.

I thank God for the great food and hotels we had. Even though I slipped on ice after jumping off stairs earlier on in the trip, I recovered and enjoyed the rest of the trip unhurt. Overall, the biblical tour gave me a richer understanding of Scriptures. —Sean Choong

***

Despite my hectic work schedule, I am glad to visit the land of the New Testament churches and to walk in the steps of the apostle Paul’s missionary journeys.  Before the trip, my main worry was the rain and snow. Thank God for giving us good weather throughout the trip. We escaped heavy snowfall in Istanbul, which occurred a few days after we left Istanbul. Traveling in the cold winter helped me appreciate the hardship that Paul and his companions endured. We protected ourselves as best as we could from the cold and wondered how arduous and crippling cold it must have been for Paul.

After we left Istanbul, we traveled from south-eastern Turkey towards western Turkey and then to Greece, visiting the sites of Antioch in Pisidia, Ephesus, Smyrna, Berea, Philippi, Thessalonica, Corinth and Athens, among others. I enjoyed being at these biblical sites, to understand the lives of the people in the New Testament, and the pagan religions of that time. My heart is especially warmed by the devotional sharing of our Greece Christian guide Ms Voula from the Bible.

I am also encouraged by the Sunday worship messages by Dn Hock Chin. A verse from the message that speaks to me is from 2 Timothy 4:7: “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith”. From the beatings, stonings, imprisonment, hunger, shipwrecks and hardships which Paul experienced, I see his single-minded mission to preach the good news to both Jews and Gentiles. I see his devotion to the Lord Jesus Christ who called him on the Damascus road. Yet I want to see and understand more of the great love that God has for us, which so moved Paul and the persecuted Christians of the early church to forsake all to follow Christ. Living in this comfortable modern 24/7 world, I wondered if I could ever emulate Paul. My wish for the new year is that God may rekindle my love for Him and as I deduct from my ‘quota’ of threescore years and ten (God willing). A sinner saved by grace —Tan Piah Joo.

***

One aspect of the tour that stood out as food for thought for me was the long and rich history of Turkey and Greece. While I understood that the Bible is God’s truth, being physically present to see the historical ruins that stood as proof of events and places mentioned in the Bible regarding Paul’s missionary journeys reaffirmed for me, that the Bible is without error. I once read that the word “history” is actually about “His Story”, i.e., the story of Jesus. It struck me that while it took thousands of years for history to evolve and today it is still evolving. Actually, the whole of history — past, present and future — is already encapsulated in one book, i.e., the Bible. Hence we should treasure and study (not just read) the Bible, God’s revelation of truth for all times.

Prior to this tour, I did not  appreciate the importance and significance of Turkey and Greece in God’s plan to spread the gospel to the Gentiles. I was not keen to study the book of Acts and I did not even know that “Macedonia” referred to Greece. Having been there, it is easier to remember the names of the seven churches and their characteristics.

More significantly, I was reminded that just as Paul lived at a certain point in history, I too am created by God according to His perfect timing to play my part at this point in history. The circumstances and environment I face today may be vastly different from Paul’s, but it does not change the fact that we each have only one life. God created us at a certain point in history and gives us the opportunity to demonstrate our true faith and obedience through good works and a godly life. Esther became the Persian Queen according to God’s  providential timing so that she may serve God by speaking up on behalf of the Jews to save them: “… thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this” (Esther 4:14).

In this tour I felt surrounded by the vastness and beauty of nature amidst the cold winter - a constant reminder that God is the Creator of the universe and He is present everywhere. The words of this hymn - “then sings my soul, my Saviour God to thee, how great Thou art, how great Thou art..” - kept ringing in my ear.  Another thought that came to mind was that while the environment we operate today has changed due to technological advancement, one thing that has not changed is God’s faithfulness to His children. He is with us to the very end.  I thank God for a wonderful trip that exceeded my expectations in every aspect. God provided abundantly and my cup was always full and overflowing with His goodness and providential care. All glory to God! —Mrs Mabel Choong

***

Thank God for the privilege of joining this tour – my first biblical tour and first visit to Turkey and Greece. Through this trip I learnt that modern Turkey and Greece contain many of the most significant events and sites of our biblical faith, in this land formerly known as Asia Minor and Macedonia, respectively.

On a cold windy winter Sunday morning, we worshipped in a cave church in the wilderness of Cappadocia, Turkey. There was no heating (of course), and no protection from the bitterly cold wind. I could not feel my toes and was shivering. That was the most uncomfortable worship service I had ever attended. But it was also the most memorable part of this trip.

Other highlights included visiting the churches of revelation (Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Laodicea), retracing the missionary journeys of apostle Paul (Thessaloniki, Philippi, Corinth, Athens), as well as the brief heart-warming visit to a nursing home (Athens) where we had our second worship service.  The tour opened my eyes to the distances that Paul traveled and the harsh conditions he endured, of what first-century Christianity was like, the magnitude of the cities and the way of their cultures. It has increased my understanding and appreciation for the Bible.

I thank God for the spiritual tour that exceeded all my expectations, for His provision and protection, for all the learning and rest, for new friends made and for existing friendships deepened.  Thank God for the warm fellowship and contributions from every one, devotions, sharing and support shown in one way or another.  —Lee Jing Jing

***

Traveling to Turkey and Greece was a dream come true. Thank God for my lovely supportive wife who helped me plan the trip, decide the itinerary, and draft the devotional booklet. We benefitted from good advice and previous experience of Pastors Jack Sin and Mark Chen. Thank God for everyone who contributed: Eld Tan Yew Chong often led in prayer, brothers Eng Lin and Daniel shared devotions, Dn Chan Yong and Boon Siong chaired worship, brothers and sisters offered medicine, ‘koyok’, snacks, even jackets to others in need. Without the cheerful love, warmth and care shown for one another, this trip would not have been as memorable.

Most people do not think of Turkey and Greece as Bible lands. The three great Apostles - Paul, Peter and John - are all linked with churches in Asia Minor (Turkey). Apart from the Gospels, a majority of the New Testament epistles were either written to or from Turkey or Greece.  After the Babylonians destroyed Jerusalem in 586 BC, many Jewish communities settled in Asia Minor (Turkey). Paul’s family probably settled in Tarsus (Turkey).  Barnabas and Paul took mission trips to cities in Asia Minor (Turkey) and Macedonia (Greece). John’s seven churches of Asia in Revelation are located within Turkey. Peter’s readers were scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia (1 Pet 1:1) - former Roman provinces within modern Turkey.  Paul preached to the people at Corinth, Philippi, Thessalonica and Athens - cities within modern Greece. Hence visiting Turkey and Greece had enhanced my understanding of the New Testament cities, events and geography. I walked the well-worn stone slabs of Via Egnatia that linked the Roman empire (east-west) that Paul used, touched the weathered marble columns, ascended the smooth steps of theatres and pagan temples, stood at the agora (public forum), admired the designs of Doric, Ionic and Corinthian column capitals and early Christian basilicas, overawed by intricate carved ceilings of the Ephesus library.

I also gained insights into the sufferings endured by early Christians and the Apostle Paul.  At the Kaymakli underground city, we crawled down four basements, at times on our knees, through narrow dark tunnels. Christians used to hide in those caves from pursuing Roman soldiers. Unforgettable was my experience of Sunday worship and preaching in an unheated cave church in Avanos, Cappadocia in winter.  It was snowing outside; we were shivering inside. For the first time ever in a worship sermon, I said, “before I go on to Point 3, okay everybody get up! Stretch yourself and do ten star jumps before your blood freeze.”  I had to shorten my sermon as my hands were shivering and my speech becoming incomprehensible. The harsh reality of Paul’s sufferings struck me - in prisons oft, thrice beaten, once stoned, thrice shipwrecked, in constant danger from robbers and Jews in the city and wilderness, in weariness, pain, hunger, thirst, coldness and nakedness (2 Cor 11:23-28). While we traveled in warm comfortable coaches led by experienced guides and drivers, the apostle Paul walked days on foot, relying on God. My good sleep in warm hotels and fine dining was in marked contrast to the cold tents and jail and sleepless hungry nights that Paul spent. Compared to Paul, I have hardly sacrificed for Christ.

The Ephesus ruins helped me picture its past architectural splendour and riches. I could well imagine the Ephesian Christians indulging in worldly lusts at the theatre and baths, having departed from Christ her first love (Rev 2:4). Its temple of Artemis (Diana, in Latin - the goddess of fertility, Acts 19:27) was not preserved, though it was once one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. Everywhere we went, we saw ruins. Indeed all our earthly achievements will come to ruins, scarcely remembered years later. Only what is done for Christ will last for eternity. Seeing the places mentioned in the New Testament proved that they actually existed in the early century AD.  It gives us confidence that every province, city, person, event, and miracle recorded for us in God’s Word is true.

I learnt that the Macedonia and Achaia in the book of Acts are northern Greece and southern Greece respectively. The apostle Paul obeyed God’s call to go to Macedonia through the vision at Troas. Thus the gospel reached Europe through Macedonia.  May I learn to obey God always.

In Corinth, we saw the “bema” judgment seat (dated AD 25-50) - a raised platform placed in a public forum where a magistrate heard cases or addressed an assembly from a judicial bench. It helps me visualize the apostle Paul being brought before the proconsul Gallio at the “bema” judgment seat (Acts 18:12). Using language and context familiar to the Corinthian believers, Paul exhorted them to be ready to “appear before the judgment seat (bema, in Greek) of Christ” to give a faithful account of their life (2 Cor 5:10). We also saw a pavement in Corinth inscribed with Latin words translated as “Erastus in return for his aedileship laid (the pavement) at his own expense.”  An aedile was an office in the Roman cities responsible for maintenance of public buildings, regulation of public festivals, and enforcement of public order. Biblical archaeologists date this pavement back to the first century AD, believing that this Erastus was probably the same person mentioned in Romans 16:23 “Erastus the chamberlain of the city”, who “abode at Corinth” (2 Tim 4:20) and was sent by Paul into Macedonia (Acts 19:22). 

At Mars Hill, Athens, our Christian guide Ms Voula Kalapoda demonstrated Paul’s finesse in presenting the gospel sermon as he was surrounded by the pagan temples (Acts 17:16-31): Paul first commended the Athenians for their religious zeal and then proceeded to reveal the identity of the “unknown” God - thus gently introducing the true Saviour Jesus Christ.  In Athens, we continued Paul’s evangelistic work when we sang Christmas carols at a nursing home and shared our Saviour’s love for sinners.  Pray for the Christians in Greece and Turkey that they may remain faithful though they be few in number. Echoeing Christ’s messages to the churches of Ephesus, Laodicea, Pergamum and Smyrna, I pray that I may love Christ even more in 2014, be always zealous, never lukewarm, and faithful to my Saviour even unto death. —Hock Chin

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ERBL LECTURES (JAN-MAY 14) : Expanded to Day Lectures!

Day Time Course Lecturer

Mon 7.30 - 9.30 pm OT Survey II Rev Charles Seet

Tue 10 - 12.00 pm Basic Greek II Rev Ho Chee Lai

Wed 10 - 12.00 pm Theology of Prayer Rev Isaac Ong

Thu 10 - 12.00 pm 2 Corinthians Rev Isaac Ong

7.30 - 9.30 pm NT Survey II Rev Ho Chee Lai

Fri 10 - 12.00 pm Nouthetic Counselling Rev Dr Jack Sin

Lectures begin on 6 Jan 14. Place completed registration forms with payment in the box.

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1) Catechism Class for Easter Baptism on 20 Apr 14 commences TODAY at Beulah Centre Rm 5-4, 9.30 am. Those seeking baptism, reaffirmation of faith and transfer of membership must attend the catechism Class.

2) Scripture Memory Verse Review No. 6. A written review exercise of the verses is obtainable at the front counter. Review Nos. 1-5 are also available for those who missed them. Please submit by next week.

3) The Life B-P Church Camp will be held from 16 to 19 June 2014 at Awana Genting, West Malaysia.  Dr John J Davis will be preaching on the theme “Called unto Holiness.”  Please book your leave early to avoid disappointment. Registration begins early 2014.

Preaching appointment: Rev Wong at Thai Service, 2.30 pm.

Vision & Mission

 

To build a united church family that is committed to making disciples through Salvation, Sanctification and Service, to the glory of God.

Verse for the Week

October 15 & 22 - The Cost of Discipleship

For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. Matthew 16:25