Dearly Beloved Brethren,

Today is our Thanksgiving Lord’s Day. It is in the tradition of our Church to set aside one Lord’s Day in each year to remind ourselves to express our gratefulness to the Lord’s goodness in our lives and in our Church. I believe this is a good tradition worthwhile to continue every year. The reason is because we are forgetful and ungrateful people. Though it is expected of us to be a praising people unto our God everyday, yet the truth is that this is often lacking. We hear more murmurings and complaints from God’s people rather than praises.

Though there is no holiday in Singapore for Thanksgiving Day, countries such as United States and Canada do designate Thanksgiving Day as a holiday. It is commonly believe that the first Thanksgiving happened in 1621, at Plymouth Plantation in Massachusetts USA. In the United States, Thanksgiving Day falls on the fourth Thursday of November. In Canada it is celebrated on the second Monday in October. Traditionally, it has been a time to give thanks for a bountiful harvest and to express thankfulness, gratitude, and appreciation to God, family and friends for which all have been blessed of material possessions and relationships. Gradually, this holiday has since changed to be celebrated in a secular way and today it is informally known as the Turkey Day.

I would like to share a verse in 1 Thessalonians 5:18 to challenge us to rekindle the flame of gratefulness in our hearts: “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you”.  We can learn 2 important lessons :

1. Give Thanks in Every Thing

Our lives are filled with both good times as well as bad times. It is in the good counsel of God that He has ordained that we should need to go through joy and sorrow; laughter and weeping; togetherness and parting. We are exhorted to give thanks in every thing. Not just the moment of joy, laughter and togetherness but also in those moments of sorrow, tears and parting. The reason why we can give thanks in every thing and through every season of life is because we know God has ordained all these events in our lives with His good purpose.

To give thanks in every thing also reminds us that it can be a small and routine thing such as eating our meals.  In the feeding of the 5000, the Lord Jesus set for us a good example to give thanks for the food we are provided with. John 6:11, “And Jesus took the loaves; and when he had given thanks, he distributed to the disciples, and the disciples to them that were set down; and likewise of the fishes as much as they would”.

Every meal on our table is a gift from God. Are we thankful to Him? God has graciously provided us to have food to eat and to be able to enjoy our meals. We must never take such daily provision of God’s grace for granted. Some may argue that it is their hard work that earns them a good salary so that they can have their daily meals. These people cannot understand why Christians need to say grace before eating their food. Just consider humbly that if the Lord has not given us good health to work and good appetite to eat, how can we be able to work and eat? If the Lord has sent disasters such as earthquakes or withheld rain to our land, will our ability and intellect be able to bring a single meal on our table?

Let us express our gratefulness to the Lord in every food provided for us. We must never be ashamed to say grace before our colleagues and classmates. We don’t have to rush through the prayer to thank God for the food. We can use this prayer of thanksgiving to share to our unbelieving friends why we are grateful people to our God. Let us truly give thanks in every thing.

2. Giving Thanks is God’s Will

Many Christians like to ask the question “What is God’s will for my life?” The answer is found here in this verse in 1 Thessalonians 5:18. God’s will is very clearly stated that when we give thanks in every thing, we have done and fulfilled the will of God. When we have done God’s will, we will receive the commendation and approval from the Lord. This is the most wonderful thing for a Christian to experience.

If you are seeking God’s will for your life, begin by praising Him in every thing. Acknowledge Him as the Sovereign God who controls all things. Praise Him for His greatness and His love and care for you. As you do God’s will in giving thanks, you will surely receive God’s guidance in the next step to take whether it is in your career or study life.

The problem why we are often confused and do not know God’s will in our lives is that we do not thank God sufficiently. We fret and worry and sink into despair without lifting our hearts in gratefulness to thank Him for every thing that happens to us. Begin with the right step in doing God’s will – thank Him for every thing. Stop all complaints and comparisons with others. There is so much to thank God for as we have received so much blessing from Him. The thought of God’s Son Jesus Christ dying for us on the cross is a cause for constant and daily praise to God for saving such an unworthy sinner as I.

May the Doxology that we sing in every worship service come from our hearts. Truly, praise God from whom all blessings flow.

Elder John Leong

Testimony of Dr. Alan Cairns

‘And let the beauty of the LORD our God be upon us: and establish thou the work of our hands upon us; yea, the work of our hands establish thou it.’ Psalm 90:17

I was born in Belfast, Northern Ireland, into a Christian home and so I was familiar with the gospel message from as early as I can remember. At the age of eight, in a meeting in the Salvation Army conducted by some young American evangelists, I called on Christ to save me. Soon after that our family moved to a different part of Belfast and four years later Dr. Ian Paisley held a gospel mission in our district, as a result of which a new Free Presbyterian church was formed. That church became my spiritual home. There I learned from able preachers  the truths of God’s word and there I came in contact with men who really knew how to pray.

I had the privilege of attending a prestigious boys’ school in Belfast, where I received a good education but where I became spiritually cold and backslidden. When I was challenged about my life I immediately declared myself for Christ, but the years of coldness had left me a prey to many doubts about my salvation. For some time that was an ongoing battle and I became very confused. I can well remember not even knowing how to pray about the matter. Should I ask for salvation? But what if I were already saved? Well, then, should I ask for restoration? But what if I were not really saved? I could get no rest. Finally, during an all night of prayer in our church, while others were praying with great liberty of spirit, I was groaning in deep bondage. It was then that the Lord directed my thoughts to the simple but sublime words of John 6:37. The first part of the verse is a mystery known only to God: “All that the Father giveth me shall come to me.” But the next part is plain for even a child to understand: “And him that cometh unto me I will in no wise cast out.” That text moved me to pray: “Lord, I am so confused I do not know how to pray or what to pray for; I cannot even express my own need. But you know my need and with all that need I come to Thee. Thou hast said if I come Thou wilt not cast me out. I come and I know Thou wilt never fail to keep Thy word.” That is when I received assurance of salvation and the Lord cleared away the confusions that had so perplexed me.

Just two years later the Lord began to deal with me about going into the Christian ministry. Until then that would have been the last thing I wanted to do. I was happy to be active in my local church. In fact, there was no aspect of its work in which I was not totally involved, from children’s work to Sunday School teaching, door to door evangelism, open-air preaching, and anything else that needed to be done. But I didn’t think I could ever be a preacher. I was extremely diffident about meeting people and the thought of visiting homes and hospitals terrified me. And I was very afraid of mistaking the call of God. To enter the ministry without the absolute assurance of God’s call scared me to death. To cut a long story short, at our church prayer meeting the Lord spoke to me in a remarkable way and, through the words of Psalm 90:15-17 (especially v. 17), made it clear that He wanted me in the ministry of the Free Presbyterian Church. I was willing to obey God but still had many fears about starting and not being able to continue in the Lord’s work. However, the Lord made it impossible for me to go on with Him without responding to His call, using various portions of His Word to do so. So I applied to the presbytery for acceptance as a student for the ministry. They had me appear before them to preach. That was a huge challenge for one without training or experience, but they wanted to assess if I possessed any aptitude for preaching at all. They accepted my application and the following autumn I commenced my studies in the denomination’s Theological Hall, as we called our seminary.

That was fifty years ago. The Lord has maintained me in His work throughout all these years. He gave me a wife who was mighty in prayer, who constantly upheld me at the throne of grace and who gave unsparingly of herself to the Lord’s service, never taking a place of prominence but always there both for me and for any of God’s people who needed encouragement or prayer.

I am deeply grateful to the Lord for all he has done, first in saving me, and then in calling me into His work. I count it the greatest privilege a man can have that the Lord should commit to him the work of ministering His word. God’s work has been my life. Now that I have retired from the pastorate, people ask me about my hobbies. In truth, I haven’t got any real hobbies. For most of the last half century my spare time has been spent in advancing parts of God’s work beyond my own congregation. Seeing the gospel go forth through new channels, seeing young men trained for the ministry, seeing new churches established, writing books and magazines, preaching gospel missions — those were my “hobbies” and by God’s grace those are the things I will seek to continue to do as He gives me health and strength.

Psalm 90:15-17 has remained a passage that I have lifted up before the Lord in prayer, as I have the other portions, especially Isaiah 41:15ff, that He used in my call to His work. I have seen some fulfilment of His promise, but there remains a fulness of blessing yet to be experienced. May we know something of it in our meetings in Singapore!

Dr. Alan Cairns

Vacation Bible School -22 November 2010

This is my first time organizing and planning the VBS. Thank God for His grace that I can rely on Him. Psalm 69:30, ‘I will praise the name of God with a song, and will magnify him with thanksgiving.’

Thank God for an amazing group of 24 children who attended the VBS. We have children who had also joined us the previous years; Mr. and Mrs. Ong, whom we met at the swimming pool during our evangelism, brought their two boys and aunty Kezia’s neighbour, Mrs. Arena with her 2 children. The children had an edifying time with the biblical lessons and had enjoyed themselves.

A special thank goes to uncle Yee Kin who led the upper primary class, sister Tammy with the lower primary class and brother Hong Hao with the little ones; brothers Desmond, Billy, Joelson, Jeshua, sisters Rachel, Esther, Crayson and Boa Yan for their interesting craft ideas, games and singspiration; uncles Alvin and Eddie for ferrying the children; aunties Karen and Kezia for preparing yummy lunch and snack. Not forgetting aunty Dorcas for helping to contact the children before the VBS.

Thank God for everyone that had put in their hard work and contributed in one way or another in making this event successful. The seed of the Word of God  has been planted, and now we need to continue to pray that the seed will grow and bring Glory to our Heavenly Father. Isaiah 55:11, ‘So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.’

Brother Edmund Wong