Text: 127:1-2

Except the LORD build the house, they labour in vain that build it: except the LORD keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain. It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows: for so he giveth his beloved sleep.” (Ps. 127:1-2 KJV)

Psalm 127:1 is often quoted in wedding ceremonies. It reminds a newly wedded couple of how they are bounded by a marriage covenant in the Lord. A marriage involves a tripartite relationship – God, man and woman, with God in the center of the relationship. A marriage starts to face issues when either party (or both) forgets this truth and insist on moving outside the Word of God. The couple may have a pleasantly-designed house forged from hard work, but there is no peace within the home. The house is nothing but dead stones. The house may be built, but all is in vain. It is just a shell of a home without the Lord.

The thrust behind the text today can be restated as thus – All effort is vanity without the Lord. The people of Jerusalem may go about their grand building projects like the rest of the world, but if they do not trust in the Lord and obey Him, they will fail in their spiritual witness and purpose. There will be no joy and peace in the city, because there is no blessing from the Lord.

The principle of this text thus stretches far beyond just that of the Christian home. In the recent Day of Prayer that was concluded in FEBC, the Principal gave thanks to the Lord based on this verse, of how the Lord had sustained his wife through her recent treatments for cancer. Mrs Jemima Khoo was able to serve the Lord in the college and at home despite her ordeals. Otherwise, it would have been far more difficult for the Principal. The Principal then concluded that we should not only give thanks for our daily bread, but also for our daily breath. Indeed, if the Lord did not give us our daily breath, do we think that we could have done anything for Christ daily? We are nothing without the Lord.

The same principle also applies to the building of the church. Many churches focus on the external – building projects that stretches millions of dollars with grand designs that wow the eyes. However, they forget that all these projects are vanity if the spiritual lives of God’s people are not built up in God’s Word. What is the use of these grand projects if there is no spiritual light among the congregation? It will all be in vain. Worse still, it will be a citadel of Satan to spread falsehood and lies. We must be careful not to go down this route.

Dear brethren, are we looking forward to a successful 2021? Let us then remember that all effort will be in vain without the Lord. Do not let the Lord to be just a name to pass from our lips on Sundays, but let Christ truly be our all in all. “For the LORD God is a sun and shield: the LORD will give grace and glory: no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly.” (Ps. 84:11)

GOD WORKS ALL THINGS FOR GOOD – Preacher and Mrs James Tan

When Preacher James and Shermaine returned to Singapore last year due to the worsening COVID-19 situation in Kenya, they told to me that their heart was for the work back in Kenya and how they would seek to go back to Kenya as soon as the Lord permits.

Nevertheless, man proposes but God disposes. In a blink of an eye, they stayed in Singapore till mid-December. During this stay, Preacher James has been such a valuable help assisting the pastor in supplementing the teaching and preaching ministry of Tabernacle BPC. Sister Shermaine has also produced numerous videos for the children’s ministry. Praise the Lord for fellow labourers in the work of the gospel.

Now that they are back in BCEA Kenya, there is a need for various plans to ensure the safety and health of all in the campus. Recently, the couple showed me a snapshot of some of these plans – they are based on the measures adopted by Singapore, and especially the zoning system that we have adopted on the Lord’s Day and at Church Camp. The experience of staying in Singapore has allowed them to come up with these plans. This is surely of the Lord’s leading. God moves in a mysterious way, but He will always work all things for good to His children.

What we have seen is an application of Proverbs 16:9 – “A man’s heart deviseth his way: but the LORD directeth his steps.” (Prov. 16:9) We also recall how the Lord directed Paul away from Asia into Macedonia. Rest in the Lord’s direction, and He will bless your ways.