Text: Joshua 1:6-7; 9

The children of Israel were facing a major crossroad of their lives. They were on the brink of crossing the river Jordan after spending 40 years wandering in the wilderness. However, Moses, their leader during the Exodus, had just died. A new leader must be chosen to lead them into the Promised Land.

Joshua was the man chosen by God to be the chief commander of the conquest. He was a man divinely equipped for the task ahead. Firstly, he was an experienced campaigner. As the assistant of Moses (meshārēth), he was uniquely poised to observe how Moses operated as the leader of the people. He saw how Moses was always relying on God’s grace for service and was faithful in God’s house (Heb. 3:2, 5) throughout the years of wandering. The lessons learnt from being close to Moses during his constant struggles in ministry would prove invaluable for Joshua during the campaign.

Secondly, Joshua was a man “full of the spirit of wisdom” (Deut. 34:9). Wisdom is needed to lead a people of two million during times of peace – what more during wartime! As God’s anointed, the Spirit of God was upon Joshua to empower him for the task ahead. He was well-grounded in the truth, and was granted spiritual insight to judge the right course of action.

However, the ability to discern good and evil is just the first step. It is use-less if one is not prepared to stand on the side of truth. He must “be strong and of a good courage” (Joshua 1:6, 7, 9). As Joshua leads the people into the Promised land, he would face many temptations to compromise the truth. Oftentimes, the way of truth may seem hard to follow. Thus, Joshua must have the moral backbone to do what is right. He must understand that the battle of the LORD can only be won if the children of Israel abide in truth and holiness. If Joshua is not brave to do what is right, he will lead the people into destruction!

Similarly, moral courage is needed as we fight our spiritual battles today. Students must be brave as they face peer pressure to conform to the ungodly fashions of the world. Working men must be steadfast in maintaining their integrity as the rest strives to destroy others in their quest to top the corporate ladder. Therefore, pray that the Lord will keep you strong in His grace!

Courage is most needed in those who are called to be leaders in the church. Leaders are the top targets for the devil because of the influence of their office. If they fall, they will bring others along with them. Thus, leaders will often find themselves in situations where their devotion for the truth will be severely tested. They may be able to discern between good and evil, but if they are not willing to stand on the side of the LORD, it will all be in vain! Church history is replete with examples of ministries which were ruined because the leaders chose fame, money, friends or family over God. Was not the Synod of the Bible-Presbyterian Church dissolved because men chose relationships over the truth? Leaders must therefore take heed never to be men-pleasers. Decisions must never be made in the fear of man, but in the fear of the LORD. “For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.” (Gal. 1:10) Pray for your leaders to be such men of courage.

Let us also not forget those among us who are fathers and mothers. You have the duty to lead your families to be pleasing in the sight of God. The world will try to push you to mould your family after her concepts and goals. If you do so, the testimony for Christ and His Word would be lost. Do what is best and right for your family in light of the Scriptures. Be strong and of a good courage!

No soldier is worthy if he is fearful in the fight. Pray therefore for grace to be a man of moral backbone as a soldier of Christ. May we always be found on the Lord’s side. Amen.

Lovingly in Christ,
Preacher Clement Chew

Can Christians Celebrate Chinese New Year?

Last Friday was first day of Chinese new year which is an important festival for the Chinese people. It begins with the traditional reunion dinner on New Year’s Eve and most people will visit their loved ones and relatives and having meals together during Chinese New Year which will last for 15 days.

The Bible does not forbid us to celebrate our cultural traditions, practices and heritage as long as it does not go against the commandments of the Lord. Hence, as Christians, we can live our faith to the fullest, while celebrating our Lunar New Year. There are many rich traditions in our lunar new year that we can learn from. Even in the giving of red packets (hong bao), it is perfectly fine to practise it as a gesture of love and care. Of course, this will certainly be a delight to the children.

What should Christians do in Chinese New Year?

The Chinese New Year provides an opportune time for us to gather and spend time with loved ones and relatives. We should treasure such time and bear a good Christian testimony before them. We can share the Gos-pel to unbelievers and encourage those who may have backslided in the faith to return to the Lord.
One important thing we ought to do in this new year as God’s children is to show filial piety and love to our parents. The 5th commandment exhorts us to honour our parents (Exodus 20:12). A good hong bao to our parents will please them. How about a hug and to tell them how much we love and appreciate them?

Let us also never forget the goodness of the Lord in the new year by returning our tithes and offerings to the Lord from the ang pow money that we will collect. Thank God for all His blessings and also for health to enjoy the multitude of good food in this new year.

What should Christians not do in Chinese New Year?

We must beware of some vices that crop out in the new year which can tempt us to sin against God. There will be the typical gambling session among relatives. As Christians, we take a firm stand not to gamble as it is covetousness which violates the 10th commandment (Exodus 20:17). How about drinking? Proverbs 20:1 tells us, “Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging…” Take heed to God’s Word to abstain from wine and beer.

How about wishing each other 恭喜发财 “Gong Xi Fa Cai”? It is so common that almost everyone utters such wishes for monetary prosperity. I believe Christians should not wish each other “Gong Xi Fa Cai” as it portrays to others that our hope and aim in this life is to make more money. The Bible reminds us that the love of money is the root of all evil (1 Timothy 6:10). We can wish each other good health as learned from 3 John 2 in Apostle John’s wish for Gaius. We can wish each other a happy new year to be contented in whatever we go through.

In this lunar new year, I would like to wish all readers to be filled with the joy of the Lord which is our strength (Nehemiah 8:10).

Elder John Leong