Dear brothers and sisters,

The natural reaction of fallen men to what the Bible says in Romans 3:23, “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God” will be an immediate anger and dissent to most.

The sinful nature of man with contempt will also reject Isaiah 59:2, “But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear”.

Men may be in denial but they are not totally unmindful of the fact of their imperfection is evidenced in their on-going schemes and programmes of how to improve themselves. But the health and wealth positive thinking schemes, self-improvement and do-it yourself programmes cannot take away sin at its smallest point from anyone. Only the blood of Christ can remove sin and only the grace of God can save sinners. To think of ourselves as sinners is not a degrading or a demeaning matter if we know the Bible is written not to condemn us but to tell us our worth. God believes that all fallen men, women and children are worth redeeming and saving; that being so, He spared not His only begotten Son but to deliver Him up to us all. God did not make laws to the intent that we may be stricken with guilt and be robbed of joy and happiness.

Psalm 8:4-5, “What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him? For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour”.

The consequences of sin

If sin is an affront to God, it is because of its very nature. Sin by its very nature may bring moments of fleeting pleasures, but its consequences are misery and sorrow throughout a lifetime. A person who serves life imprisonment for manslaughter; a young mother whose child is born out of the wedlock; a person’s incurable disease because of his promiscuous sexual behavior; a person’s marriage destroyed by gambling or drunkenness will tell you that these are consequences of sin that are avoidable.

Sin robs man of the inner peace and happiness. Isaiah 57:20-21, “But the wicked are like the troubled sea, when it cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt. There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked”.

But the eternal consequence of sin is far worst; the apostle John said, “And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire” Revelation 20:15.

God’s forgiveness is through the precious blood of Christ to relieve sinful man of a guilt-stricken conscience. The grace of God gives man the strength to live the Christian life. God’s final purpose through Jesus Christ is to destroy sin and its consequences and the final victory will belong to Him.

Salvation is freely given to all but all men must freely receive salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. Ephesians 2:8, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God”.

God saves in exactly the same way that He did in every passing generation. By faith Abel… by faith Enoch… by faith Noah… by faith Abraham… and it was by faith that the Israelites in Egypt daubed the Lamb’s blood on the door posts. Today it is also by faith that we know that we are sinners and the remedy for sin is through the blood of Jesus Christ.

Let us not take lightly of what Christ has done and if we allow sin to reign in our mortal body with it implication Christ has died in vain.

B is for ßarrack’s ßack! ßrrr… ßitte! (‘please’ in German)

Here’s the testimony to thank God for my Germany trip.

I want to thank God for seeing me through my overseas training in Germany. It was a 16-day exercise; like all my army friends, I was excited about the trip.

One of the most memorable things that greeted us was the cold weather. In the day, the temperature ranges around 10ºC to 15ºC, still a very enjoyable weather with occasional breeze. Being ignorant, we were still hoping to experience freezing temperature. The very first night training taught us to appreciate the warmth in Singapore and a cup of hot drink. Temperature went down fast; 5ºC with a little wind would send us shivering. Quite fun at first as the whole lot of us huddled and shivered together, but soon it became literally unbearable. While regretting not bringing enough jackets, we had to endure the cold and hoped that the training ended quickly.

By the time the night exercise was cut, it was 0ºC, just as we had foolishly desired. Back at the training tentage, each held a cup of hot Milo, not necessary to drink but just to warm our hands. We were all wondering how to survive the rest of the training.

My second encounter with the extreme cold was during the night when I had sentry duty. Each night some of us were deployed to do sentry duty, and we had to be at the control tower keeping watch. As the sentry duty schedule was pre-planned, we had the time to prepare ourselves to fight the cold during the duty. So I brought along 5 layers of clothing that were to be used to wrap myself from head to toe, thinking that I should survive the night. I was wrong. We worked in pairs and each pair had their own shifts with each shift lasting 1-and-a-half hours.

For those 90 minutes, I was tormented by the cold wind. Temperature was around -2ºC and the wind was very strong. Up in the control tower there was no place to hide as the wind came from all directions. Time seemed to pass more and more slowly. My buddy and I started doing exercises to warm ourselves. When our duty was finally over, I really thanked God for helping me through.

As I reflect back, I would like to share some spiritual lessons that I’ve learnt from these encounters with the cold weather.

Without light, it is bound to get cold. When darkness comes, temperature will drop. Just like in our Christian life, without Jesus, the light of the world, things will soon grow dark and cold.

Without protection, the cold is bound to get in. During my first night training, not wearing enough warm clothing resulted in me shivering throughout the night. Spiritually, without the protection of God’s Word, constant prayer, Church, fellowships, etc, the coldness will get in as well.

With protection, cold might still get in. My encounter with the cold during my sentry night was that cold wind could still penetrate though the thick layers of clothes (or maybe my winter wear wasn’t good enough). What we have to do is generate warmth from within. Like doing exercises to warm ourselves, when spiritually cold, we ought to engage ourselves in more rigorous spiritual exercises. We can pray harder for a revival and read Bible more for strength and guidance.

Writing this testimony reminds me of the words of Jesus in Matthew 24:12 “And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.” I thank God for this overseas experience and pray that our Church will not grow cold, but will faithfully serve the Lord. God Bless!

Thankful to God,
Brother Hong Hao