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7 January 2023 (Pastoral Page) LET US START RIGHT

By Elder Tan Chin Tiong

If you want to know what is in store for Singapore, listen to the recent New Year speech by our Prime Minister and you will get a hint that we should be prepared for some stormy weather ahead. If you want some global perspectives, google “Prediction of trends for 2023” and you will be bombarded with a future bleak enough to drive anyone to depression.

It is in this climate of uncertainties and challenges that I hope Hebrews 12:1-3 will encourage us and give us hope for the New Year, as we seek to start the year on a right footing.

The main theme of Hebrews is on ‘The superiority of Jesus Christ’ and this message was particularly important to the Christians who were struggling under the persecution of the Roman Emperor, Nero. Life was hard. They were considering going back to the old Mosaic Law and hopefully live peacefully under the rule of Rome. The writer to Hebrews showed them that, though they were faced with persecution and trials of life, they were indeed following a better way and they should persevere and hold fast to their faith.

In Hebrews 12:1-3, we are told that:

- Life is like running a long race that requires great effort and determination.

- In this race, we will face many challenges. In fact, for believers in Christ, we will encounter additional trials and opposition from men because of our belief.

- We will face discouragement. There will be times where, as runners, we will feel like giving up but we are challenged to stay focused, persevere, press on and keep going.

But how should we continue and complete the race? 4 things we are told to do.

Let us be encouraged

- We are encouraged to remember the many believers who have personally gone through similar trials and tribulations and come out victorious. It is possible to overcome hardships.

- In Hebrews chapter 11, we are introduced to the Hall of Faith where it was not just famous biblical heroes who were highlighted but also many whose names were not mentioned but did equally well to finish their race. In other words, anyone whose trust is in the Lord can do it.

Let us throw off

- We are told to unload things that hinder and slow us down in our race of life and faith. Besides sin or moral failures, these could also include things that affect us negatively. Past failures, unforgiveness, bitterness, fears, worries and anxieties are some examples of burdens that we need to let go off so that our spirits will not be weighed down.

- We are told to renounce and repent of our sin that entangles and trips us, causing us to fall. Let us confront it, own it, confess it and receive forgiveness from our Lord Jesus so that together with Him, we can pick ourselves up and run again.

Let us fix our eyes

- We are told to fix our eyes on Jesus Christ, the originator/source of our faith. He began our faith. He will sustain our faith, and He will complete our faith.

- He laid the foundation, set the example, provides the faith we need to press on.

- Phil 1:6….Paul exhorted the believers in Philippi that “the God who began a good work in us will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Here is a promise of His total commitment to you and I. We only need to keep our eyes focused on Him.

Let us consider Him

- We are to draw motivation and strength as we persevere in our race by thinking about Jesus, meditating on Jesus, learning from Jesus, listening to Jesus, giving priority to Jesus and obeying Jesus.

Yes, The Author and Finisher of our faith will see us through. His presence shall go with us. He will empower us to finish well. He will work out His plans for our life. We only need to hold fast to His Hand and fix our eyes on Him.

On behalf of the Church Council and Staff Team – May I exhort all of us to start the new year by running the race of life and faith with passion, fill the race with His power and end it in His presence.” A Blessed New Year to You!

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