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Scripture Memory: Fear of Man. 
VERSE : Proverbs 29:25 
"The fear of man bringeth a snare: but whoso putteth his trust in the LORD shall be safe."

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O Worship the LORD in the Beauty of Holiness

17 March 2013
8 am Worship Service:
Rev Quek Keng Khwang (Victory Over Foolish Wisdom, James 3:13-18)
1045am Worship Service:
Rev Colin Wong (Victory Over Foolish Wisdom, James 3:13-18)
6:00 pm Evening Service:
Rev Charles Seet (Christ, Worthy of Mary’s SacrificeJohn 12:1-11)

24 March 2013
8 am & 1045am Worship Service:
Rev Charles Seet (Why Jesus Wept for Jerusalem, Luke 19:41-44)
6:00 pm Evening Service:
Rev Matthews Abraham (Christ’s Triumphal Entry, Jn 12:12-19)

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PRAYER AND REVIVAL

What is a revival? R.A. Torrey defined it as "a time of quickening or impartation of life by God. It is a time when God visits His people and by the power of His Spirit imparts new life to them, and through them imparts life to sinners dead in trespasses and sins." Revival is a time when God restores His people back to normal spiritual health after a period of coldness and spiritual decline.

Revivals cannot be engineered by men. They cannot be created by having a powerful preacher, loud repetitive music, special lighting effects, all carefully choreographed to create an exciting atmosphere. While these things may stir up people for a while, the results are superficial and short-lived. When revival really comes everyone will be able to see that God is behind it. People become keenly aware of God’s presence. They become responsive to God’s Word. They become sensitive to sin and they begin to change their ways.

God Works in Answer to Prayer

Such a revival took place in about 458 BC among the Jews who had returned from Captivity. It was not planned at all. It began with the return of a group of Jews to Jerusalem, led by Ezra. Hebrew tradition says that Ezra served in Babylon as a high priest before his return, and that he instituted the Great Synagogue – a group of 100 wise men who collected and arranged the Old Testament books into a unit. He described himself as "a ready scribe in the Law of Moses." (Ezra 7:6)

As a young man Ezra gained the respect not only of the Jews in Babylon, but also of the Persian King Artaxerxes. The king gave him permission to lead a group of Jews back to Jerusalem, all expenses paid. When they arrived they probably rejoiced to see the new Temple of God that had been completed 60 years earlier. But Ezra’s joy turned into shock when he discovered that the Jews who lived there had started to compromise the Covenant – by allowing their children to marry the idolatrous Gentiles of the land. Some of the leaders were also doing this (Ezra 9:1-2).

This was a great change, because the first generation who returned would not even allow these Gentiles to help them rebuild the Temple (Ezra 4:1,2). Ezra realised that this compromise would ultimately lead to apostasy and idolatry – just as it happened in the days of the Judges and in the time of King Solomon. It seemed as if history was going to repeat itself and the chastisement of the 70-year captivity had not been effective!

He responded to this by mourning before the Lord at the Temple for the sins of the people. He poured out his soul to God concerning this tragic situation (Ezra 9:5,6). In response to this prayer, God moved the hearts of the Jewish leaders and the people. Soon they were convicted of their sins and gathered to Ezra, weeping in repentance. As they confessed their sins, they decided to put things right. Ezra made sure they were committed to doing this, and then called for a meeting of all Jews (Ezra 10:7,8).

When the time for the meeting came, God caused heavy rain to fall at a season when rain was not expected. Everyone was afraid that God’s judgment upon their sin was about to fall. Ezra delivered a simple message –"Ye have transgressed!" The people responded immediately by abandoning their ungodly unions.

What can we learn from this? Revival often begins with heartfelt prayer. Ezra did not plan or engineer this revival at all. All he did was to pray earnestly at the Temple. But as he prayed, God worked. When God works a revival, things will happen spontaneously and nothing can stop it. This has happened several times in history.

Here is an account of a revival: In September 1857 Jeremiah Lanphier, a former merchant with no formal theological training, started a noonday businessmen’s prayer meeting in the upper room of the Dutch Reformed Church Consistory Building in Manhattan. In response to his advertisement, only six people out of a population of a million showed up. But the following week there were 14, and then 23 when it was decided to meet everyday for prayer. By late winter they were filling the Dutch Reformed Church, then the Methodist Church on John Street, then Trinity Episcopal Church on Broadway at Wall Street.

In February and March of 1858, every church and public hall in down town New York was filled and when someone did a count, he found there were over 6,000 people attending the prayer meetings. People began to be converted, 10,000 a week in New York City alone. The movement spread throughout New England, the church bells bringing people to prayer at 8 in the morning, 12 noon, and 6 in the evening. More than a million people were converted to God in one year out of a population of 30 million. The effects were felt for 40 years.

And it all began with prayer – just like the prayer Ezra made at the Temple. If we want to see God working in the Church today, what we need to do then is to pray. In a book entitled, Why Revival Tarries Leonard Ravenhill wrote, "The man who can get believers to pray would, under God, usher in the greatest revival that the world has ever known."

Our Lack of Prayer

The logical place to start doing this is at our weekly church prayer meeting. The prayer meeting is the powerhouse of the church. But attendance has been declining. It used to be 95 in 2005, but it dropped to 75 in 2011, and then to 65 last year. Last Tuesday 55 came for our church prayer meeting. At this rate, there will only be five people at our weekly prayer meeting in five years’ time! Why has there been such a steady decline?

In our yearly surveys, the most common reasons members give for not attending the church prayer meeting is that they have other commitments at that time, or they find it too inconvenient to come. Some say that they do not benefit from coming. Others say that they are too tired to come. A few do not come because they do not like the format and the long verbose prayers that are often made there.

It really boils down to a matter of priority. All these things can be overcome if we are convinced about the role of corporate prayer in the Church. This is what we see in the early church. "And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers." (Acts 2:42) In the chapters that follow it is evident that prayer is one thing that the Church in Jerusalem did very often. They always prayed together. This characteristic habit forged them into an effective movement for the Lord.

When the apostles Peter and John faced persecution as a result of their preaching, they returned to the church of Jerusalem and reported the whole matter. The church responded by uniting in prayer, and the results were unprecedented: The place was shaken. They had a renewed filling of the Spirit which resulted in great boldness to speak the Word of God, a great sense of unity, great power upon the apostles, and great grace upon all of them (Acts 4:23-34)!

When this same church was appointing new office bearers to cater to the increased needs of the growing congregation prayer was mentioned twice (Acts 6:3-6). First, it was one of the reasons why the new office bearers were needed – in order to let the apostles spend more time in prayer and the Word. Secondly, prayer was made for the newly appointed leaders. The result of this was that "the word of God increased and the number of disciples were multiplied in Jerusalem greatly." (v.7)

Prayer became the means of deliverance when the church of Jerusalem faced another crisis (Acts 12). James the apostle had just been martyred and the apostle Peter was next to be executed. Verse 5 tells us: "Peter therefore was kept in prison: but prayer was made without ceasing of the church unto God for him." As they prayed, the Lord sent His angel to release him. When Peter was released, "he came to the house of Mary the mother of John, whose surname was Mark; where many were gathered together praying." (v.12) Their prayers were answered almost immediately!

All these accounts show us that the prayer life of this church played a very significant role in making them an effective movement. They succeeded in living victoriously for Christ in an ungodly world because they were a praying church. It was their intense corporate prayers that brought down great blessings upon them from the Lord. Someone has said, "Much prayer – much power; No prayer – no power!"

A Plea for Prayer

If we hope to see Life Church becoming a Spirit-filled movement glorifying the Lord, we must become like the church of Jerusalem in their corporate praying. How can we fulfill our mission and vision of building a united church family that is committed to making disciples through salvation, sanctification and service, to the glory of God, unless great priority is given to prayer?

We need to pray together more often. We need to be awakened to see our need for change and revival. We need to ask God to do His will in our midst, to overcome our spiritual inertia, and to deal with all the sins that are keeping us from living victoriously for Christ in a modern world.

As we seek Him earnestly together, He will begin to work in us and through us. The Lord Himself has promised, "If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land." (2 Chronicles 7:14)

Dear Lifer, will you commit yourself to pray for the Lord’s work and come regularly for our church prayer meeting? May we all be involved in serious concerted prayer for the Lord’s kingdom, so that by the grace of God, He will bring revival into our midst for His own glory! 
Pastor

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EMMANUEL REFORMED BIBLE SEMINAR

The Art and Science of Understanding the Bible 
by Dr Timothy Okman Ki

24-29 June 2013 (Mon-Sat) 
8.30 am - 1.00 pm (Mon - Fri)
7.30 pm - 9.30 pm (Mon, Wed, Thu & Fri) at Beulah MPH
Details are available at www.lifebpc.com.
Please complete registration forms available at the reception counter and place them in the box, together with payment. 
Closing date: 14 May 13.

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1) Life B-P Church Camp, 17-20 June 2013 at Bintan Lagoon, Indonesia. On-line registration at the church website, www.lifebpc.com. Registration forms are also available at the front entrance for those who have no internet access.

Preaching appt: Rev Seet at Thai Grace BPC, 2.30 pm and Life Evening Service, 6.00 pm. Rev Wong in Vietnam, 17-22 Mar.

 

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