“I must put God first in my life… Please pray that God will be a priority in my life.” These are common statements that are often uttered in sermons, Sunday School lessons, fellowship group messages and prayer meeting requests. But what do we mean by these statements?

The above statements have often been abused. When one says that he places God first in his life, is he saying that there are other things that should be second or third place? Are these things, fleshly entertainment, money or pride? When we say that we put God as our priority, are we saying that we can pursue worldliness as our secondary interest? When we do so, we are just using a common statement with godly intentions and turning it into one to justify our divided hearts.

A study of the Scriptures reveal that God demands nothing but our whole-hearted devotion. In fact, there is no statement that says that God should be “a priority” (as though we can have other priorities), or the first among other interests. Christ is our life. And thus Christ must be our all in all.

Consider the following Scriptures:

No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.” (Matt. 6:24)

And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.” (Mk. 12:30)

Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God?          

whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.” (Jas. 4:4)

Blessed are they that keep his testimonies, and that seek him with the whole heart.” (Ps. 119:2)

With my whole heart have I sought thee: O let me not wander from thy commandments.” (Ps. 119:10)

On the other hand, the Scriptures are replete with warnings about a divided heart.

And yet for all this her treacherous sister Judah hath not turned unto me with her whole heart, but feignedly, saith the LORD.” (Jer. 3:10) – In this verse, the Southern Kingdom was described as “treacherous” and pretentious, because of her divided heart. In other words, a divided heart is no different from “no heart”!

Their heart is divided; now shall they be found faulty: he shall break down their altars, he shall spoil their images.” (Hos. 10:2)

But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. 7 For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord. 8 A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.” (Jas. 1:6-8)

Sadly, it is only too easy for Christians to fall into the trap of compartmentalising their lives. We tell ourselves that Sunday Church Service, Fellowship Group Meetings and Quiet Time are times when I pay my dues to the Lord by putting Him as a priority. The rest of my time is for secular interests – I am free to live how I want. This is a subtle manifestation of a divided heart. We allow idols into our lives, and try to justify their presence by putting on a religious show. That will not do.

Beloved brethren, take heed to the exhortation of the Apostle John – “Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen.” (1 Jn. 5:21)


On 23rd September 2020, the authorities announced that worship services will be permitted to have a maximum of 100 people with each zone carrying a maximum of 50 people. With this relaxed regulation, the Session has decided that the English Congregation will return for worship services on 18 October 2020.

At the time of writing, the Session had not yet received the updated rulings from the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth (MCCY). However, if the principles of the old regulations remain, we will have to be careful not to mingle or interact with those from the other zones. We hope that members will respect these regulations, and bear a good testimony for Christ’s sake. When we submit to these regulations, we assist the government in controlling the pandemic and prayerfully, our services can be restored to normal more quickly.

Nevertheless, I have two laments concerning the current state of worship services thus far.

Firstly, we are still not able to sing praises unto the Lord when we meet for service. Some may say, “Not a big deal, because I can sing from my heart.” However, the Scriptures teach that praising the Lord with our lips is an essential element of worship. Look at Psalm 63, and especially verses 3 and 5. “Because thy loving kindness is better than life, my lips shall praise theemy mouth shall praise thee with joyful lips.” If there is no expression of voice, it is not singing. 

With regards to the importance of singing, note the following commands concerning singing.

Sing unto God, sing praises to his name: extol him that rideth upon the heavens by his name JAH, and rejoice before him.” (Ps. 68:4)

Sing unto him, sing psalms unto him: talk ye of all his wondrous works.” (Ps. 105:2)

Sing praises to God, sing praises: sing praises unto our King, sing praises.” (Ps. 47:6)

Sing unto the LORD, O ye saints of his, and give thanks at the remembrance of his holiness.” (Ps. 30:4)

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.” (Col. 3:16 KJV)

For further reference, see pastor’s notes on “Theology of Worship” and “Contemporary Christian Music” distributed some years back in the Sunday School. If you need a copy of the notes, you can get them from me.

When will we be able to sing again as a congregation? I do not know. I pray it may be soon. However, until the time comes, we will lose this privilege of singing unto the Lord during our worship services when we gather. Much of the vibrancy in worship is gone.

Secondly, because we are not able to mingle one with another, it makes ministering to one another much more difficult. When we gather, we hope to provoke one another unto love and good works (Heb. 10:24-25). However, if our interaction is limited, the purpose of gathering is also hindered. This is also the lament of one other B-P pastor, writing in the church weekly, “The current restrictions do not make our corporate worship and fellowship together …. meaningful, eg, no singing and no fellowshipping, no mingling, quickly come, quickly go.

We pray that the English Congregation can meet on 18 October 2020 for worship service under the new guidelines (D.V.). However, the worship of God is still not able to find its full expression currently. There is still much to pray for. Don’t stop praying!

Yours affectionately,
Pastor Clement Chew