SABAH MISSION TRIP

July 28 to August 2
The Mission & Community Outreach Committee invites all worshippers at St Andrew’s to experience a short term mission trip to Sabah (exact itinerary to follow). We will visit rural churches to witness their ministry as well as to experience mission life and demands with the aim of helping individuals in their spiritual growth and long-term commitment to some form of mission in future. We welcome all who are interested, both locals and expatriates.

Kindly contact SC Yong to indicate your interest. WhatsApp: 0163228829; Email:

MC&O Committee

SPRINGBOARD

We are excited to offer a new opportunity for those who desire to follow Jesus better, and help others to do the same. Beginning Tuesday, Feb. 21, we are launching our Springboard discipleship training. This is a great opportunity to deepen our biblical understanding and nurture our relationship with Christ. It will include both a time of teaching and discussion, centering on the important elements of our faith and also how to share our faith. This program will consist of six different units, each lasting 5-6 weeks.
We will begin with:
“Jesus – the ‘Man’ You Should Know.” This will be taught by Pastor Bob.
Other topics are:
“God’s Amazing Story” (Elder CJ Lim),
“Prayer and Devotion” (Pastor Richard),
“Christian Service Together” (Elder Chin Chin Liew),
“Sharing the Christian Faith” (Elder SC Yong),
and “The Community of Christ” (Pastor Bob).

Each evening a meal will be offered between 6:30 and 7:30. (There is no charge, but donations are welcome!) From 7:30 – 9:00we will have the teaching and discussion. A registration table will be set up in Fellowship Hall, or you can register by calling or emailing the church office.
We invite you to prayerfully consider taking part in this great opportunity go grow as followers of Jesus.

Pastoral Care

Rev. Dr. Robert Weniger

Tuesday to Friday
10am – 5pm
(Monday – Off Day)

Rev. Richard Tok
(Minister-at-large)
Thursday to Sunday

 

 

St Andrews’ Church Weekly Prayer Meeting

Prayer Meetings
For an inspiring and effective time of worship and prayer

Every Saturday in Room 5, from 9.00 – 10.00am.

Prayer Before Worship Service
At 8.00am each Sunday, in the Prayer Room which is located behind the sound booth.
All are welcome to come and pray.

Special Needs after Worship Service
Those with special needs may ask an Elder or Pastor to pray for them after the service.

Prayer Chain
Please send your prayer request or to contact Elder Andrew Siew at 012-316 7966 (1st service). Prayer requests for the Prayer Chain may also be phoned/ faxed/ e-mailed to the Church Office.

A thought for prayer

God gives us children for a time
To nurture and to love,
To give them our encouragement,
With wisdom from above. Sper

A BALANCED LIFE

Exodus 20:8-11

Bob Weniger

Of the Ten Commandments, which is the one that most people, including perhaps many of us here today, think really doesn’t apply to us? Which one do we think we is least important for us today? It’s really not that big of deal. Without a doubt it is the fourth commandment regarding the Sabbath. Over time many in the church have attached less and less importance to this commandment. Someone has said that our great-grandfathers referred to the seventh day as the Holy Sabbath, our grandfathers called it the Sabbath, our parents referred to it as Sunday, and now it’s simply the weekend. It has lost its spiritual significance.

Oh, we’d never come out and say that we don’t think it’s important for us to pay attention to this commandment. But if we examine our lifestyle, the way we live just might reveal that this commandment is simply not a priority for us. And we may hardly see the need for it.

Other commandments – even if we struggle with obeying them – we recognize the worth of. That we should refrain from lying, stealing, adultery, and murder is something that we would all affirm. Allowing nothing to usurp God’s rightful place as central in our lives is a commandment that may not always come easily for us, but we surely acknowledge that is how we should live. But when it comes to the fourth commandment, maybe we’re not so sure. What difference does it make, what harm is done if we don’t slow down one day a week and really focus on God and His goodness to us?

Let’s read exactly what this commandment states, as found in Exodus 20:8-11:

Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.

This commandment is rooted in creation, for it speaks of God resting after His creative work was finished. Now, we need to be clear that God did not rest in the way we might rest after an exhausting activity. God was not tired and so needed to take a breather, for God is omnipotent. God is all-powerful all the time, and thus His power is never depleted by His divine activity. God doesn’t have less energy today than yesterday because of the work He did then.

But God rested in the sense that when He finished His creative work He stepped back and delighted what He had done. It was a rest of joy and satisfaction. Even as we enjoy a sense of satisfaction upon successfully completing a task that demanded the best of us (garden, artwork, woodwork, a challenging assignment at work, a home repair project, even reading a thoughtful book), so God took time to enjoy the work of His hands. And as He did so, He was able to say, “It is very good.”

In giving us this command, God is merely asking us to follow His example. When we follow this command – assuming we do so in the right spirit – we are being godly, for God did this very thing. There is something good about this practice, for the passage for today ended by saying, “Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.” The Sabbath has God’s blessing.

There are two key words we need to understand to help us grasp what God is asking of us in this commandment. Those words are Sabbath and holy. For the commandment states, “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.” The word sabbath literally means “to cease” or “to stop.” In the Hebrew it is also the root of the words for seven and rest. Put all that together and it speaks of stopping to rest on the seventh day. The Sabbath does not necessarily call us to inactivity but to cease from our regular daily work, even as God ceased his creative work at the end of the sixth day. So there is something different about the seventh day.

And the word holy literally means to set apart, specifically to be set apart for the purposes of God. God made the seventh day holy by setting it apart from the other six. So the command is telling us that we need to set apart one day from all the others. And the way we set it apart from the others is by ceasing from our regular day-to-day activities, which for most of us will center around work – whether that is work outside the home or work in the home for which you are not paid but for which you probably should be paid for it is at least as demanding and important as work done outside the home.

So in addition to what this commands, it is also teaching us something about life. It tells us that there is a rhythm to life, for that is the way God created it. It is a rhythm of work and rest, of activity and ceasing from the normal, day-to-day activities. God acknowledged this rhythm by resting, or ceasing from His creative work on the seventh day. If we are to live healthy and whole lives we must incorporate this rhythm of work and rest into our lives, for as I said, this is rooted in creation. This is how God created the world and us – with a need for rest.

The Ten Commandments are repeated in the book of Deuteronomy, and there we find one additional reason for the Sabbath. After commanding the Israelites to observe the Sabbath by keeping it holy, Deut. 5:15 goes on to say: “Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and that the Lord your God brought you out of there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. Therefore the Lord your God has commanded you to observe the Sabbath day.” So in addition to the need for rest, God gave us the Sabbath so we would remember God’s saving activity.

Imagine the sense of joy the Israelites must have felt when God gave them this command. We may see this as the least appealing of the Ten Commandments. The Israelites would have seen this as the most appealing commandment, because for generations they had been slaves, forced to work all the time. Recall how the Pharaoh increased their workload after Moses asked Pharaoh to let the people go. And now God tells them that one day out of seven they are to do no work. What a relief! The Sabbath wasn’t seen as a burden, as it sometimes is today because we think there are things we cannot do. No, to the ancient Israelites the Sabbath was a gift. They didn’t have to work and no one could make them work.

But it was more than just a day off. During that day they were to specifically remember how God acted to free them from their slavery. It was a day to express their thankfulness to God for redeeming them, and as they relived that event each week, their faith in God and their gratitude to God would be renewed. So the Sabbath was a day not only of physical rest, but also of spiritual joy and renewal from reflecting on God’s goodness and faithfulness to them.

By the time of Jesus, unfortunately, this gift from God had been consumed and controlled by legalistic thinking. What was intended to bring balance and wholeness and renewal of mind, body, and spirit ended up oppressing people with its strict and endless obligations. There was one commandment – remember the Sabbath and keep it holy. To guide the Israelites in keeping this commandment, over time 39 general prohibitions were added regarding proper or improper activities on the Sabbath, which were then further explained by 1,521 specific things that were forbidden. As you would expect, some bordered on absurdity.

Of course, work was supposed to be refrained from but what constituted work? All these regulations tried to spell that out. For instance, you were permitted to dip a radish in salt and eat it, but only if you didn’t leave the radish in the salt too long. For then it might begin to pickle, and that would constitute work.

Here’s another example of how the rules governing the Sabbath were taken to an extreme by the time of Jesus. It was forbidden to look in the mirror on the Sabbath. Why? Well, a woman might be tending to her personal appearance, notice a gray hair and be tempted to pluck it out, and that would be considered work.

It was also forbidden to pick up rocks, for that would be working. It was permitted, though, to pick up your child, even though the child may weigh significantly more than a rock. But if your child was clutching a rock – even a small pebble – then you could not pick up your child for that would be working.

So ironically, the Sabbath was to be a day in which you did not bear any burdens, yet it became so filled with rules that the Sabbath itself became a burden. What was to be a day of joyful renewal by remembering God’s goodness and celebrating God’s faithfulness became a day of legalistic oppression.

Jesus, of course, got into trouble with the Pharisees over the Sabbath because He did such things as heal the sick on the Sabbath. Yet Jesus never rejected the importance of the Sabbath but only the legalistic interpretations of the religious teachers regarding the Sabbath. Jesus affirmed that the purpose of the Sabbath was to lead to greater wholeness for our lives, and healing the sick certainly did that. If it was a day to remember God’s goodness, why could one not express or extend that goodness to those who needed it, such as the sick.

Jesus said in Mark 2:27, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.” In other words, God gave us the Sabbath for our benefit. It is something that we need. It is something that is good for us, something to be observed and celebrated for what it offers us.

What about us today? We are not Jewish, so we don’t look back on the exodus from Egypt as our redemptive event. Are we still to observe the Sabbath? Obviously so, even though we will do so in a way different from the ancient Jews. For we have the same need for balance in our lives, the same need to experience wholeness and renewal by abiding by the natural rhythm of work and rest, of activity and reflection, of toil and worship.

What will it look like for us today? I think several things are important. First, as the word Sabbath implies, we need to cease from our normal, work-related activities. God did not make us to work non-stop, seven days a week. I hope that sounds like good news to you. To the workaholic it may not sound so good, but it’s true. God did not intend for us to work all the time. That’s not good for us physically, emotionally, or spiritually. We all need to cease from our regular work activities one day a week and do things that are restful, renewing and relaxing.

What this will look like will vary from person to person. What works for me may not work for you. What is it that refreshes you? It could include such things as a walk in the woods or a bike ride in the countryside, reading, relaxing conversation with friends or family, sleeping in, engaging in a hobby like gardening, painting, or woodworking, having a leisurely, uninterrupted meal, or turning off your smart phone (the world will carry on without you picking up your smart phone for a day, and you will actually get along quite well if you ignore your phone for a day, or at least for a good part of the day!).

A biblical Sabbath is not the same as simply having a day off from work but then on this day we hurry from one activity to another, going to football practice and then to the mall and then grocery shopping – all before lunch. We need to slow down and relax, for that is how God made us. We need that balance, and God gave us the Sabbath so we can experience that.

And then, along with this physical renewal, there needs to be an element of worship. Actually, some may separate rest and worship, like pastors. We work on the day we worship, so the Sabbath rest may have to come on another day. If you work in the medical field you may have to sometimes work a Sunday shift. That’s okay because the Sabbath is not about legalistic rules. It’s about God offering us the opportunity to be physically and spiritually renewed.

But if that’s to happen, we must include worship in our weekly routine. Actually, we need to incorporate worship into our daily routine, but at least once a week we need to set an extended time aside to worship God. As the passage from Deuteronomy stated, the Israelites were to celebrate their redemption from slavery on the Sabbath so they would never forget God’s goodness and faithfulness. And not simply so they would not forget intellectually but also so that they would never forget experientially. Because they weekly reminded themselves of God’s goodness they would be equipped to live each day – no matter what they were facing that day – with the assurance that God would be with them and would be faithful to them.

And so we celebrate our redemption in Christ. We need unhurried time in which to reflect on God’s greatness and give thanks for God’s goodness to us. We need to draw near to God so we can be encouraged by His love, strengthened by His promises, guided by His word, and renewed by His Spirit.

This is not a religious duty we are bound to fulfill but a gracious opportunity to be nurtured in our faith as we are reminded of the greatness and goodness of God, so we can face all of life with the confidence that we matter to God and that God will never waver in His love for us. As Jesus said, we were not made to keep the Sabbath but the Sabbath was made for us. God gave it to so we could be physically restored and spiritually renewed. It’s for our good.

Since the days of the early church followers of Jesus have worshiped on Sunday because it is the day Jesus rose from the dead. Thus every Sunday is a day to celebrate our redemption in Christ through His death and resurrection. R. W. Dale, a nineteenth century English preacher, was so convinced of this that every Sunday he had his congregation sing a resurrection hymn to help the people remember and live in the joy of what God had done for them in Christ. Our Sunday worship should be marked by joy and gratitude for God’s grace toward us in redeeming us through Christ!

Now as we seek to observe the fourth commandment, we must heed a certain warning. The lesson from the Pharisees during the time of Jesus is that we must be careful to avoid becoming legalistic in our application of this command, for again, Jesus didn’t disagree with the Pharisees over the importance of the Sabbath but only in their legalistic approach to it.

Unfortunately, throughout its history the church has often succumbed to legalism, just like the Pharisees during the time of Jesus. Church attendance was mandatory, maybe twice or even three times on Sunday. There could be no recreational activities – only church, prayer, Bible reading and discussion. Some would prepare food on Saturday so no food would have to be prepared on Sunday. Instead of being a day of rest and joyful renewal, this special day for many became a day of solemn duty.

I read about one Scottish preacher who, many years ago, had to travel some distance to his church. There was a river that ran near both his house and the church. One winter day when the river was frozen solid he decided to ice skate to church. When he arrived the members were aghast that their pastor skated to church.

This incident sparked quite a debate. The elders met and discussed the matter at great length. Was it proper or acceptable for the pastor to skate to church on the Sabbath? Finally the minister was asked, “Did you enjoy skating up the river?” as if enjoying an experience would run counter to the Sabbath! No wonder the wife of C. S. Lewis, Joy Davidman, commented that some have rewritten the fourth commandment to mean, “Thou shalt not enjoy life on Sunday.” That is not the reason God gave us the Sabbath!

The Sabbath, rather than being an obligation we must more or less reluctantly and solemnly observe, is really a gift to us. Earl Palmer describes it like this:

The law has in its way paid to man and woman and the created order they occupy a rich compliment. We human beings are not mechanical, timeless creatures that can grind on endlessly at work. We need quality time to collect our thoughts and our dreams. We need time to “cease” and to wonder about the deep meanings of life. We need to remember our history and to worship the Lord of life. Though the fourth commandment is an imperative, it is an imperative that leads us toward freedom.

Thus the Sabbath is not a heavy or unrealistic burden for us to bear, but it is a gift from our Heavenly Father for our own good. It is to help us live a balanced and meaningful life. Listen to how God speaks of it in Isaiah 58:13-14:

“If you keep your feet from breaking the Sabbath and from doing as you please on my holy day, if you call the Sabbath a delight and the Lord’s holy day honorable, and if you honor it by not going your own way and not doing as you please or speaking idle words, then you will find your joy in the Lord, and I will cause you to ride on the heights of the land and to feast on the inheritance of your father Jacob.” The mouth of the Lord has spoken.

God said the Sabbath is something we should delight in, and that He gave us the Sabbath so that we might find our joy in the Lord. And not only that we might find it, but that we might continue in His joy, week after week after week as each Sabbath we cease from work-related activities and draw near to God.

The Sabbath, regardless of the day we celebrate it, is a gift from God, for it gives us the opportunity to stop, rest, and worship. It is a gift because it enhances our dignity as human beings by delivering us from meaninglessness – from the meaninglessness of life being no more than endless toil and sweat. It enhances our dignity by affirming that God sees each of us as a person and not simply a producer. It is a gift because it frees us from the tyranny of time. We only have so much time and we can easily succumb to the pressure of having so much to do in so little time that our lives become frantic. But by ceasing from work-related activities one day a week we are declaring that time will not rule over us. We are free from compulsion.

The key to observing the Sabbath is not about following a prescribed list of dos and carefully avoiding a prescribed list of don’ts. Rather it’s about the spirit with which we approach the Sabbath. The key is receiving it as an opportunity to renew our minds, restore our bodies, and refresh our spirits. It is a day to reflect on and be encouraged by God’s incredible love for us as we remember our redemption in Christ – that He died for us to give us life. And so the Sabbath is not only a command to be obeyed, it is a gift to be received, and received with joy.

Important Worship Meeting – The St Andrews Worship Team is growing!

We have recently appointed David Miles as our Worship Director. David brings a wealth of
experience and knowledge regarding worship.
We are having a meeting this Wednesday, June 28th, to discuss the new plans, announce some
changes, and explain our growing vision and goals. The meeting is really important for all singers,
musicians, sound and video technicians, new choir members, new musicians and anyone else
interested in the worship ministry.
If you are involved in the Worship Ministry in any way, or would like to be, it will be an exciting
meeting for you to participate in.
The meeting will be in the Fellowship Hall at 8:00pm sharp, and there will be a time for questions,
comments, and afterwards, some fellowship.

WHAT’S IN A NAME?

Exodus 20:7

Bob Weniger

What comes to your mind when I say the name Mother Teresa? Probably traits such as compassion and selfless service on behalf of others. How about Martin Luther King? We may think of a champion of racial justice and non-violence. What about tennis great Roger Federer? Perhaps we think of athletic skill and a dedication to excellence. The late Princess Diana? Grace and elegance may come to mind. We could include someone you know, someone close to you like your mother. What you think of will depend, of course, on your mother. But perhaps characteristics like warmth and unconditional love stand out.

When we hear a person’s name we can’t help but also think of their character. Their name brings to mind certain qualities and attributes. Their name represents who they truly are.

What is true for us in the 21st century was even more true during biblical times. In Scripture names were given or sometimes changed because the name literally spoke of the person’s character. For instance, Jesus changed Simon’s name to Peter which means rock. Jesus did this to represent the strength and steadfastness that would mark Peter as an apostle following the resurrection, and also to signify the unshakable nature of Peter’s confession that Jesus is the Christ, the Messiah sent from God. In the Old Testament Abram, which means exalted father, had his name changed by God to Abraham, which means father of a multitude, for from Abraham and Sarah came the nation of Israel.

Names, both today and in biblical times, are very important. And that is true also for God. God’s name represents His character, His nature. That leads us to the third commandment in our study of the Ten Commandments, which is found in Exodus 20:7. There God said, “You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.” Or the more familiar version says, “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.”

Let’s begin by discussing the name of God and why that is so important, and then we’ll consider what it means to take it in vain or to misuse God’s name. You may recall from earlier in our study that God revealed His name to Moses at the burning bush. In Exodus 3:13-14 we read:

Moses said to God, “Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ Then what shall I tell them?” God said to Moses, “I am who I am. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I am has sent me to you.’”

“I am who I am,” said God. That comes from the Hebrew verb “to be.” He is the self-existent God. “I am who I am.” Unlike the idols of the surrounding nations, no one created God and God is not dependent on anyone or anything for His existence, His identity, or His power. No one determines who God is or what God is like. God is who He is, who He chooses to be.

This verb also implies a future sense. Biblical scholar Bernard Ramm notes that it carries the meaning of, “I will be continuously with you as future events unfold,” or “I am a God who participates in your history so that as events come I am in them.”

So in sharing His name with Moses, God also reveals His character and identity – I am who I am. Furthermore, God will be with His people to lead them, sustain them, and protect them. “I will be continuously with you.” God’s name speaks of the love and faithfulness that are central to His being, and which He showers on His children.

When we come to the New Testament, we gain a fuller understanding of God because we know that God the Son came to us to bring us forgiveness and salvation. Before Jesus was born God the Father, through the angel, instructed Joseph that the son born to Mary was to have the name Jesus, which is the Greek form of the Hebrew name Joshua, meaning the Lord saves. (Mt. 1:21) The name of Jesus revealed his purpose and character.

So the name of God is not simply a few random letters strung together so that in English we end up with G-O-D, God and in Spanish it’s Dios. No, the name of God refers to the character and nature of the self-existent One who created all things.

But not only is this God our Creator, He is also our Savior, even as the name Jesus means the Lord Saves. Jesus died on the cross for our sins so we can experience the salvation of God. And because a name has to do with the true nature of a person, we are saved in or by the name of Jesus – not because the name is somehow magical but because His name stands for who Jesus is and what He did. And so the apostle John, toward the end of his Gospel (20:31), said he wrote these things “that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” Paul declared in Rom. 10:13, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved,” for in calling on His name we are calling on the Lord Himself.

And so whether we are talking about the Hebrew name God spoke to Moses – Yahweh, I am who I am – or the English translation – God – or the name of God the Son, Jesus, the name of God is holy and is to be honored. For it refers to who God really is – our Creator who in love has become our Savior. God’s name reveals His love, His mercy, His holiness, His faithfulness, His sacrifice on our behalf. God’s name represents all the good that God is, and so we are to treat it reverently.

What does it mean then, to misuse God’s name, or to take God’s name in vain? The most literal meaning of this word in the original Hebrew language is “to empty.” To take God’s name in vain is to empty it of its good, holy, and glorious content. It is to negate all the good that God’s name stands for – His sacrificial love to give us life, His faithfulness, His grace, His holiness, and so on.

So when God commanded that we are not to take His name in vain He was saying that we are not to carelessly use His name in a way that steals from, waters down, negates, or distorts God’s character. We are not to empty God’s name of who God is. When we do that, we not only dishonor God but we also hinder others from learning of and embracing God for who He truly is, for we misrepresent His name, and thus we misrepresent God Himself.

How is it that we can take God’s name in vain by emptying it or robbing it of its true content and nature? It happens in several ways. Probably the first way that comes to mind is by actually using the name of God in a profane way, or by cursing. When we utter God’s name, or Jesus’ name, in a profane or disrespectful way we are contradicting the name and its meaning, and thus we dishonor God.

For when we think of who God is – His immeasurable love, His abounding grace, His endless mercy, His never-failing commitment to us – and how God’s name represents all of that, it should evoke from us a sense of love, gratitude, reverence and awe. How can we then take God’s name and use it as a way of expressing our anger or disgust? That is to take the high and exalted name of God and bring it down to the level of vulgarity. That robs the name of God of all the good and wonder it truly represents.

Think for a moment of someone you dearly love, perhaps your spouse, your children, or your parents. Can you imagine taking their name and using it disdainfully? When you hit your thumb with the hammer would you shout their name in pain and disgust? When your request for a raise is denied would you mutter their name in anger? Of course not. For they are people of great value to you. You love them dearly. And because their name represents who they are you would never use their name in a disrespectful way. So when we consider the greatness of God and the wonder of His love for us, why would we use the name of God, or the name of Jesus our Savior, that way?

Now, some may suggest that they don’t really mean anything by what they say. Perhaps they grew up around rough language and using God’s name in such a way is just the way they talk but they don’t really mean anything by it. But that just illustrates what God is forbidding in this commandment. To use God’s name in a cursing fashion but then say we didn’t really mean anything by it is to empty God’s name of it’s worth and value. It is to treat God’s name as if it has no importance – it’s just a word we utter – but it has great importance because it is the name of the perfectly good, holy, and loving God who gave us life.

Furthermore, Jesus sees right past that excuse and tells us that it is much more serious than that. In Mt. 15:18 Jesus said, “But the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart, and these defile them.”

The words we utter, even if we don’t really think about them first, are nevertheless a reflection of what is in our heart. So we can’t truly say about someone, “Well, he has a problem with his language, but he really does have a good heart.” No, for according to Jesus the words we speak are an accurate barometer of our heart. So if we speak God’s name in a profane way, and especially if we do it habitually, we need to ask God to cleanse our heart. And then we need to nurture our heart with the truth of who God really is so that His love, mercy, grace, and faithfulness fill our heart. Then we will have no desire to use God’s name in a profane way but will want to speak words of tribute and praise to the God who loves us so.

Now of course, there are other ways of emptying or robbing God’s name of its true nature and greatness. So even if we do not have a problem of speaking God’s name profanely, this commandment still applies to us.

Another way that we misuse God’s name is when our character and actions do not match our calling. If we claim to be a follower of Jesus and thus bear His name, yet live no differently than the world around us, we’ve misused God’s vain. By our manner of living we have emptied God’s name of what it represents because while we bear His name, our way of living does not match what God’s name stands for.

This commandment warns us against taking God lightly, against giving God our Sunday mornings but then excluding God from the rest of our lives. For the God who freely loves and forgives us is also the God who calls us to follow Him in wholehearted surrender to His lordship. Jesus not only calls us to believe in Him but to follow Him, just as He called the original disciples to follow Him in a new way of living, a way that fulfills God’s good purposes for our lives.

What we proclaim by our lifestyle speaks very loudly. We speak not only with our mouths but with our lives, so we misuse the name of the Lord when our manner of living contradicts what it means to be a follower of Jesus; then we have taken God’s name in vain. We’ve attached God’s name to ourselves, calling ourselves Christians or followers of Jesus, but then we’ve emptied it of its meaning because we don’t live that out.

If we come to church and sing praises to God but then our praises are not matched by the way we live, we’ve taken God’s name in vain. Our words of praise to God are emptied by our unwillingness to live out the implications of the words we speak. Of course, we will never live the Christian life perfectly, but we should at least do so consistently.

There’s one more way we misuse the Lord’s name and empty it of its meaning, and this is one we might not typically think of, but it is very serious and unfortunately, very common. This happens when we bring division to the Body of Christ, separating ourselves from those we may not agree with or even attacking them, or when we are reluctant to associate with those who come from a different economic class, educational level, social status, or racial or ethnic background. I think we all would agree that it is wrong to do so, but what does this have to do with dishonoring the name of the Lord?

John 17 records a prayer of Jesus from the night before He was crucified. Knowing He was about to leave this world and His disciples behind, Jesus prayed for what was most important. Much of His prayer focuses on the unity of His followers. In vs. 23 Jesus said in His prayer that when we are brought into complete unity, then the world will know that God the Father sent God the Son into this world and through Jesus God has poured out His love upon us. So our unity is essential to our proclamation of the gospel.

Of course, living in complete unity with even our brothers and sisters in Christ is no small task. In fact, we cannot do this on our own but only by the power of God can we set aside our differences and be truly one. And so in vs. 11 Jesus prayed, “Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name, the name you gave me, so that they may be one as we are one.” Just as God’s name encompasses His character, it also encompasses His power – not because it is in some sense magical but because it is the name of the living God who by His power created the world and sustains the world, and by that same power conquered death and will even raise us to new life.

In His prayer, Jesus connects this powerful name of God with our unity, a unity so strong and comprehensive that Jesus prayed we would be one even as He and the Father are one, and then the world will know that Jesus is indeed the Savior.

So if we are promoting disunity within this particular church, or if we are attacking or tearing down our brothers and sisters in Christ in other churches, we are breaking this commandment, for we are emptying God’s name of the unity His name promotes.

Tragically, that happens far too often. Charismatic Christians look down up non-charismatic Christians, and non-charismatic Christians ridicule charismatic Christians. Calvinist Christians who strongly uphold doctrines such as election and predestination belittle Arminian Christians who allow more room for human freedom, and Arminian Christians distance themselves from Calvinist Christians.

We have people in this church from all these traditions – charismatic, non-charismatic, Calvinist, Arminian – and that is great! We can all learn from each other. While we don’t all agree on everything, we can all be united in love. Then the world will know that Jesus is real, for they will see how He has transformed out lives. It is no great testimony to the world if some Christians who all agree on everything are united. Of course they are. But when those who bear the name of Christ are united in love even though they don’t all think the same, the world will know that the Jesus we proclaim with our words is real, for we also proclaim Him by and through our relationships with one another.

Of course, Christians separate from and even question the faith of those who hold different views from them on other issues as well – women in ministry, or the events leading to the second coming of Christ. Countless churches have divided over the style of worship music.

Yes, there are differences of opinion on these and other matters, and these are important, but not as important as our unity which honors the name of the Lord we all acknowledge. There are appropriate times and places and ways to discuss our differences and learn from each other, but it is always appropriate and biblical to, as Eph. 4:3 declares, “Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.”

Paul wrote in I Cor. 15:3-5:

“For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance; that Christ died four our sins according to the Scriptures, that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He appeared to Cephas (Peter), and then to the Twelve.”

That is the gospel – Jesus died for our sins and rose from the dead. That, said Paul, is of first importance, and so on that we must not tolerate other opinions. But on other matters, while we can all have our convictions, we approach them with humility and we treat others graciously, realizing that none of us has perfect understanding. So we strive for unity. Paul wrote in I Cor. 13:3, “If I…can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, but do not have love, I am nothing.”

All true believers, all who have a genuine faith in Jesus and believe the gospel bear His name, so we want to make sure we are not dishonoring His name by emptying it of its power to make us truly one with each other. Rather we are to honor that name by striving for the very unity Jesus prayed for.

God’s name is holy because it represents the very nature of God. And so through our words, our beliefs, our lifestyle, and our relationships with and attitudes toward our fellow believers, we need to take special care – not because God is insecure and so He has to make sure that everyone honors his name – but because His name is precious. It is so precious that in biblical times the Jewish people would not even say the name of God because they never wanted to say it in a disrespectful way. The name of Yahweh was spoken only once a year – on the Day of Atonement, and then only by the High Priest.

How great it would be if today we showed the same reverence for God’s name. Not that we would never say the name of God, but that we would hold in it such high esteem. And if we are to honor God’s name, it is important that we take the time to rightly understand the greatness of who God is and the incredible gift of all He has done for us. When we take the time to study Scripture so we can learn more of God’s goodness, love, holiness, and majesty our natural response will be to do all we can bring honor to God’s name through our words, our character, our lifestyle, and our relationships.

While this command can be taken in a negative sense – it tells what we are not to do – it must also be seen in a more positive sense. For how incredible it is that God would share His name with us. When we meet someone and tell them our name it is a way of inviting a relationship. It’s a way of saying I would like to get to know you and for you to get to know me; this is who I am.

When God told Moses, and us as well, His name, God was saying, “I want you to know Me, so I give you My name which reveals who I am. I invite you to enter a personal relationship with Me in which you can know Me as the God who loves you, will direct you, will always be present with you and eternally be faithful to you.” By giving us His name God has invited us know Him deeply and truthfully, and to live each moment in the reality, the grace, and the power of His name. So in all we do and all we say, let us strive to bring honor and glory to the name that is above all names.

FELLOWSHIP LUNCH – Sunday, 2nd July 2017

Everyone is invited to the lunch and fellowship after the 11.00 am Service. A time to get together and to know our fellow worshipers here in St. Andrew’s. Food and drinks will be provided.
We welcome your freewill contribution.

Children’s Choir @ Church Centenary Banquet

The Sunday School team is planning for the children to sing at the banquet that will be held on the evening of Sunday, 17th September. To help us organize, we would appreciate if parents let us know if you are planning to attend – either to , or .

Thank you.

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