Sunday, 31st December 2017
Pastor Eunice Choo
“This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!” (II Corinthians 5:17)
As the New Year is at our door step, Pastor Eunice reminded us to open our hearts and be ready to receive the new things God is going to give to us for this New Year. The Bible also talks about New Year and New Beginnings, and today Pastor Eunice will shared with us how some of these people face their New Year.
1. Noah Opened the Ark
“By the first day of the first month of Noah’s six hundred and first year, the water had dried up from the earth. Noah then removed the covering from the ark and saw that the surface of the ground was dry.” (Genesis 8:13)
After we experienced storm, what would be the first thing we do? Our choices are important. We became who we are because of the past choices we have made. If we don’t like who we are now, then we should change our decisions. When Noah experienced the big storm, there were only eight people left in the world, what did Noah do first after spending one year in the Ark?
“Then Noah built an altar to the Lord and, taking some of all the clean animals and clean birds, he sacrificed burnt offerings on it.” (Genesis 8:20)
The first thing Noah did was to build an altar for God. We need to remember that after the flood, there were not many animals left, only a pair of each kind, and Noah was willing to offer sacrifice for God. In the New Year, are we also willing to be the person who build an altar for God? Where we can meet God, pray to God and bring our offering to God? Pastor Eunice reminded not to use be a ‘good person’ but to be the ‘right person’. Because only the ‘right person’ can do the ‘right things’. Noah was the right person, God chose him and through him, his family was saved.
The Lord smelled the pleasing aroma and said in his heart: “Never again will I curse the ground because of humans, even though every inclination of the human heart is evil from childhood. And never again will I destroy all living creatures, as I have done. “As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease.” (Genesis 8:21-22)
When God smelled Noah’s offering, He declared that the ground will no longer be cursed because of humans. Because of Noah’s offering, we can enjoy the land, where God restored the earth after the flood. Noah’s choice blessed all of us after many, many generations.
We can be a very ordinary person in this world, but we can do extraordinary things from little decisions we have made each day.
2. Moses Set Up the Tabernacle
Moses’ mission on this earth was to set up the Tabernacle, to bring God’s presence for God’s people. A lot of Christians sing songs about God’s presence, but not everyone experiences the real presence of God. And Moses is the one who always long to see God face to face, and the one person who was able to be in God’s glorious presence for 40 days and nights. Our lives have a promise called Emmanuel, God is with us, and that sets us apart from the other people.
“Then the Lord said to Moses: “Set up the tabernacle, the tent of meeting, on the first day of the first month.” “So the tabernacle was set up on the first day of the first month in the second year.” (Exodus 40:1-2, 17)
It took Moses the whole year to set up this Tabernacle. It is built up according to the blueprint of God, this is a meeting place with God, in Moses’ time, whoever wants to see God they need to come to the Tabernacle. We should also make our family, our workplace, our schools to be a place we can meet God. Moses desired God’s presence more than anything else.
For many people entering into the Promised Land is our ultimate goal, but Moses never entered the Canaan, for him it’s only an inheritance, what he didn’t want to lose is the God, who gives him inheritance. Many people come to church for something they want, they ask God for whatever they want, but they don’t care what God wants. What does God really want? To have an intimate relationship with Him, more than how big a church we can build for Him.
“The Lord would speak to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend. Then Moses would return to the camp, but his young aide Joshua son of Nun did not leave the tent.” Exodus 33:11
Now all of us can experience the glory of God and the presence of God, are we willing to be like Moses and Joshua, who longs to see God’s face? The one that refuse to leave the Tabernacle? So what happened after the Tabernacle was established?
“Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. Moses could not enter the tent of meeting because the cloud had settled on it, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle.” (Exodus 40:34-35)
From that day onward, God’s presence was leading the Israelite through the wilderness. There was no compass, no GPS, but because Moses set up the Tabernacle, God’s presence was with them, and His pillar of fire and pillar of clouds were leading them. But it’s not an easy thing to follow the guidance of God, because it means the way we go is no longer our way, but God’s way. In 2018, we can have lots of plans, but are we willing to give all our plans to God?
3. Hezekiah Cleansed the Temple
So who is Hezekiah? He’s the 13th king of Judah, his father was a really bad king, who closed the doors of the temple. Hezekiah’s father did not worship God, but lots of idols. Therefore when Hezekiah became king, the first thing he did was to open the doors of the Temple, because he knew that without the Temple, there is no worship, no offering, and no celebrations. At the time the spiritual lives of people of Judah were in a very low state.
“They began the consecration on the first day of the first month, and by the eighth day of the month they reached the portico of the Lord. For eight more days they consecrated the temple of the Lord itself, finishing on the sixteenth day of the first month.” (2 Chronicles 29:17)
On the first day of the new year, Hezekiah cleansed the Temple, and the task took 16 days to complete. The Bible tells us that we are the temple of the Lord, so as the New Year comes, are we willing to cleanse our hearts and mind for God? We can make a choice to let the right things come out from our months, to change a bad habit, or to start a new habit.
“In the first month of the first year of his reign, he opened the doors of the temple of the Lord and repaired them.” (2 Chronicles 29:3)
4. Ezra Followed the Law
“Ezra arrived in Jerusalem in the fifth month of the seventh year of the king. He had begun his journey from Babylon on the first day of the first month, and he arrived in Jerusalem on the first day of the fifth month, for the gracious hand of his God was on him. For Ezra had devoted himself to the study and observance of the Law of the Lord, and to teaching its decrees and laws in Israel.” (Ezra 7:8-10)
Pastor Eunice shared that many people ask her for advise, and very often she will refer to the Word of God to help others, because the Word of God has Power, can help each one of us from small to big things. we don’t buy the Bible to leave it on the bookshelf, we need to read the Bible! The first day when Ezra arrived in Jerusalem, he opened the Bible. Ezra did three things to the Bible: to be determined (devoted), to study, and to obey (observed).
It’s just like a person holding a gun but has no bullet, a lot of Christians have the Word of God but don’t know how to use it. The day we believe in Jesus, we are like a police officer putting on the uniform, and there will be weapons on us, but we need to know how to use them! As Christians do we know how to use God’s Word? Do we panic when the environment is against us? The Word of God has power and has life, we can declare the Word of God and overcome our problems. Are we willing to be like Ezra and read the Bible?
“So on the first day of the seventh month Ezra the priest brought the Law before the assembly, which was made up of men and women and all who were able to understand. He read it aloud from daybreak till noon as he faced the square before the Water Gate in the presence of the men, women and others who could understand. And all the people listened attentively to the Book of the Law.” (Nehemiah 8:2-3)
Ezra was also the first person who created the pulpit. Ezra clearly explained the Word of God to the people, he studied the Bible, and he explained the Bible. We are all the priests of God, we have the ability to read, understand and explain the Bible to others. We should be responsible for our own spiritual lives, we cannot just be ‘Sunday Christians’, just to come to church on Sundays to ‘fulfill the duty as Christians’. No one is forced to become Christians, but if this is what we have decided to be, then we should take responsibility for our choice, to ready, study and obey the Word of God, and to explain it to others.
In conclusion, in the New Year, there are four things we should do:
- Noah Opened the Ark – to offer wholeheartedly to God
- Moses Set Up the Tabernacle – to desire God’s presence
- Hezekiah Cleansed the Temple – to cleanse all the wrongs in our past
- Ezra Followed the Law – to let the Word of God become the highest priority of our lives