Steadfastness and Vigilance
Thank God for leading us into the year 2009! This writer prays and petitions here for our church that this year we will abundantly receive the blessing and providence of God; that there will be tranquility and well-being in our bodies and souls; that our actions will be pleasing to the Lord; and that we will return all glory to God.
2008 was a year full of catastrophe ¡V intensification of global warming, snow-storms in southern China, hurricanes in Texas and Myanmar, earthquake in Szechuan, persecution of Christians in India, guerrilla warfare in Iraq and Afghanistan, Russian military intrusion into Georgia, nuclear saber-rattling by Iran, armed conflict between Israel and Hamas in Gaza, the Financial Tsunami engulfing the world, and the Canadian Conservative Government threatened with toppling etc. Sustaining the long-lasting effects of these natural and human disasters, 2009 will be a year characterized by anxiety, unease, hardship, distress, crisis, and change.
Faced with the onslaught and difficulties that are to come, we who belong to God should hold a different attitude than that of people of the world. According to the Bible¡¦s revelation, the nearer we are to the return of Jesus Christ, the more corrupt, oppressed, uncontrolled, and disobedient to God will be the world. The church must firmly remember the instruction of the Lord, and be more careful in life and testimony so as not to be lured away by the world and leave God; not to be tempted by Satan and sin; not to stumble from the failures of others; not to turn away from the Truth through the deception of heretical religions; not to lose faith because of difficult circumstances, and not to lose love because of the increase of lawlessness. Since the church is the house built by God, we must be mindful and use the best materials to complete the construction, and in that way gain the pleasure and reward of the Lord.
In order that everyone will have a target and direction to build up one another, the church chose the following theme for this year: ¡§Build up the church while upholding the Truth; await Christ in vigilance and prayer¡¨. This writer hopes to remind everyone through this caption to uphold the word of God with a steadfast faith and build up one another through the Truth of God and the love of Jesus Christ, diligently and patiently work for the Lord, pray fervently, and await the Second Coming of the King of kings, the Lord of lords - our glorious Savior Jesus Christ - with vigilance and self-control. This year we have a sub-theme each quarter to guide our contemplation, pursuit and mutual admonition. The sub-themes and corresponding Bible passages for the four quarters are as follows:
January to March: Build up in most holy faith
¡§But you, dear friends, build yourselves up in your most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit. Keep yourselves in God's love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life.¡¨ (Jude 20-21)
April to June: Build up in the love of Jesus Christ
¡§Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into Him who is the Head, that is, Christ. From Him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.¡¨ (Ephesians 4:15-16)
July to September: Await the return of Christ with diligence and patience
¡§We want each of you to show this same diligence to the very end, in order to make your hope sure. We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised.¡¨ (Hebrews 6:11-12)
October to December: Await the return of Christ with vigilance and self-control
¡§The end of all things is near. Therefore be clear minded and self-controlled so that you can pray. Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.¡¨ (1 Peter 4:7-8)
By: Daniel To