It has been almost a week since we came back from camp. This is a devotion about THE JOURNEY ... so far.
A journey starts with a DREAM.
That DREAM started in 1964, when Pr Victor Tan from Queenstown Baptist Church in Singapore had a vision about planting a baptist work in Johor Bahru. Together with Pr Jarrett Ragan, a representative from the Foreign Mission Board who was with the Calvary Baptist Church in Singapore, both of them were instrumental in setting up the Johor Bahru Mission in 1965.
The Mission became a Chapel and then the Chapel became the Johor Bahru Baptist Church (JBBC), when it was formally registered with the Registrar of Societies on 20th March 1980.
THE JOURNEY had its mountain highs and valley lows through the years but the DREAM was always there, and that is to 'make disciples of all nations' in Matthew 28: 18-20.
Part of the valley low periods was when JBBC was served with 2 eviction notices from the local authorities, the first in 1990 and the second in 2003. The land on which the church premise was situated was for residential purposes. During this valley low period, the people of JBBC came together to earnestly seek the Lord to intervene in our predicament.
One of the mountain top experience was when JBBC, through the powerful and miraculous Hand of God and by the faithful prayers of the faithful in JBBC, moved the State Government to approve our application for conversion of our land title to that for a church on 25th April 2005. With this approval, JBBC had rest from 'opposing forces'.
Since the beginning of 2011, JBBC had been without a pastor and attendances dwindled for various reasons, including exodus of worshippers to other churches throughout the world.
On 1st August 2015, our brother John Chan delivered a sermon entitled, "From death to life" with the text taken from Ephesians 2:1-10. I was the worship chairman that day and at the close, I referred JBBC to the church at Ephesus in Revelations 2:1-7, that we find back our love that we had at first for our Lord Jesus Christ.
Since that day, I believe that events have moved the people of JBBC to JOURNEY along together as a Body of Christ, and by faith to trust GOD to take us through what we think could be an impossible task, and that is to raise RM4.38 million to build a new church building. We put our faith in a loving GOD who we trust will see us through this JOURNEY.
We now understand that THE JOURNEY is to reach our destination, and that is to build the people of JBBC up spiritually first and from there our GOD will open His Hand to allow us to build the church building, to be supported solidly on firm foundations. This new church building will then serve as a spring board to 'make disciples of all nations', to further extend GOD's love to the unsaved within the JB locality.
On 27th May 2016, I reminded the church that there would be no worship service on 4th June 2016 as most of us would be at the church camp and I used Isaiah 40: 28-31 as a call for those who were not going to use this passage of Scriptures as their devotion for the week. Being the worship chairman for our Sunday worship service on 5th June 2016, I had it in my mind to use this passage as Scripture Reading for the congregation.
On 3rd June 2016, the day before leaving for the camp, Our Daily Bread devotion for that day was titled, Strength for the Weary, and the day's reading was taken from Isaiah 40: 28-31. I felt that God had reassured me that the passage chosen for Scripture Reading was what He wanted read.
At the camp, we heard more affirmations from our camp speakers, Rev. Tony and Rev. Christine Phang about our JOURNEY.
That Saturday afternoon, at the welcome, our Camp Commandant, Brother Dr. Hong opened with a quotation from Psalm 133, 'how good and pleasant it is when God's people live together in unity!'
On Saturday night, Rev. Tony spoke about 'Rebuilding our temple', with the text taken from 2 Chronicles 29: 3-6. He spoke about the need for the church to build this intimate relationship with GOD again. There is a need for immediate service; for religious reform; for a Holy Place; for Sanctification; and for Confession of Sins.
On Sunday morning, Rev. Tony spoke about 'The Power of Sacrifice', with the text taken from Romans 12:1. There is a cost when sacrifice is involved; we have to leave away and behind our comfort zone; great achievements are achieved by great sacrifices; God notices truthful sacrifices; and God always responds to a sacrifice.
After the worship service, God used Rev. Christine to remind us about God's care and love, for everyone in this world, not just for His Children and that God's love for us is immeasurable, beyond what we can ever imagine.
That Sunday evening, Rev. Tony exhorted 'The Ministry of Waiting On The Lord', with the text taken from Isaiah 40: 29-31!!! My hair stood on their ends because God has used this Scripture to speak to us 3 times within 9 days. Rev. Tony told us that the first church was born after much prayers; that we do not need to impress God with how spiritual we are; that God accepts us just as we are; that we have nothing to prove (it is finished!); and that after our waiting and renewal, it is then time for us to come out of our cave, like Elijah at Kerith Ravine to do God's Will.
Rev. Tony's 4th and last message was 'Jesus' Favourite Place' with the text taken from Matthew 21: 17 'And he left them and went out of the city to Bethany, where he spent the night.' Jesus' Favourite Place was Bethany, where He was welcomed and heard. Jesus found peace, joy, rest and friends at Bethany. Rev. Tony asked us whether our home and church would be Jesus' Favourite home and church, where He would be welcomed and heard. Where He would find peace, joy, rest and us as his friends. Whether it is our homes or JBBC, we need to be united, in a bond of peace.
Rev. Tony's last scripture reference was taken from Psalm 133! The camp opened with this psalm and then we finished our series of messages with Psalm 133 and the last line was verse 3b, 'For there the Lord bestows his blessing, even life forevermore.' Because our homes and JBBC ought to be the favourite place of our Jesus.
My friends. Our JOURNEY continues and I pray that each and everyone of us continues with this unity and bond. I then remembered that the example of king Hezekiah opening the doors of the temple, thus returning the people of Israel and Judah back to rightful worship of the LORD (Rev. Tony's text in his 1st sermon) did result in the Hand of God being placed on the people to give them unity of mind to carry out what the king and his officials had ordered, following the word of the LORD. (2 Chronicles 30:12)
Let's follow our Jesus together in OUR JOURNEY because our GOD is going to place His Hand on us to give us unity of mind to continue with our JOURNEY to the DESTINATION that GOD wants us to go. And that DESTINATION is to build up JBBC spiritually and then make disciples of all nations. Amen.