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Assemble for Unity (Psalm 133, Matthew 18:20)

Sermon on 17 January 2021 by Ps Gauis

Psalms 133 - “How wonderful and pleasant it is when brothers live together in harmony! For harmony is as precious as the anointing oil that was poured over Aaron’s head, that ran down his beard and onto the border of his robe. Harmony is as refreshing as the dew from Mount Hermon that falls on the mountains of Zion. And there the Lord has pronounced his blessing, even life everlasting.”

Matthew 18:20 - “For where two or three gather together as my followers, I am there among them.””

It’s really a privilege that we can gather together. Now, the global COVID-19 situation has worsened. I don’t take our protection in Singapore for granted. I believe that it is the grace of God. As you go along your journey with the Lord, you realise that God allowed that’s why you can do a certain thing.

Assemble series:

1. Assemble for encouragement

Hebrews 10:24-25 - “Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.”

When we come together, do we come to encourage or murmur? We need to encourage each other to love and do good work together. We continue to encourage each other when we meet one another. The Bible said that if you have anything against a brother, settle it before coming before the altar of God and present our sacrifices in-front of Him.

2. Assemble for Strength

Ecclesiastes 4:12 - “A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.”

A person is very weak but when 3 people are bound together, they are very strong together. We may be going through a difficult patch in life, but don’t be worried as we don’t fight this battle alone. We go through things together. If you have any difficulties, LFC has a war flock where we pray for one another. You can jot down any prayer requests and slip it into the prayer box.

Today, we will be touching on Assemble for Unity. The Church in Corinth was in Greece. Corinth was a bustling town and there was a strong military presence as the Romans were ruling the country. People were well educated and wealthy because of trade. Paul has written 2 letters to them.

1 Corinthians 1:4 - “I always thank my God for you and for the gracious gifts he has given you, now that you belong to Christ Jesus.”

We acknowledge that his city that’s bustling and full of life is by the grace of God. He affirmed that the grace of God is given to us. If you were here on Friday, time and time again, God has been gracious to us for us to see His grace in big or small ways. Let us start the day with prayer. When things go wrong, I tend to be more thankful. The grace of God is there for us to do things. When I am driving, and something happened that didn't go my way, I will complain about what had happened. My wife reminds me that I shouldn’t complain as God gave us a car. If I keep composing about the traffic over and over again, I’m sure God would take away this form of transportation from me. Let’s look around us. There are some moments when we aren’t pleasant. But let us slow down and come back to God before murmuring. Our Heavenly Father would enlighten us and grant us a seeing eye. He had given us more than sufficient and an abundant eye. This week, there will be challenges but let’s come back to Him and see His Grace.

1 Corinthians 1:5-6 - “Through him, God has enriched your church in every way—with all of your eloquent words and all of your knowledge. This confirms that what I told you about Christ is true.”

These people truly believe in Jesus and are Christians.

1 Corinthians 1:7 - “Now you have every spiritual gift you need as you eagerly wait for the return of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

This seems to be an amazing church in an amazing city. They lack nothing and can function well in church and the workplace. They have material blessings too. It looks like us in Singapore. Other people in other countries face persecution for worshipping the Lord. In Singapore, we are truly blessed to have a place and a comfortable place to worship the Lord. Some people in other developing countries have to settle for a hut to worship God. Villagers only have one set of clothing to change into and walk without shoes. When they worship God, they have simple hearts and sit on wooden stools. When I went to Chiang Rai, the pastor asked the children to perform for us and he played the guitar for us. To be honest, his playing wasn’t that good. Another brother had the same thought as me. However, as the worship started, it was the most beautiful worship that I’ve experienced. When we worship God, it’s not about our vocals or skills. But more of a worship that pleases God and is from the heart. In Singapore, we are blessed because we really have a comfortable place and can worship God in a conducive environment. We don’t worry about someone chasing us out.

1 Corinthians 1:11 - “For some members of Chloe’s household have told me about your quarrels, my dear brothers and sisters.”

A very successful church from how people see it but there are many quarrels among them. There can be disagreements as we are unique and have different tastes. My wife and I also have disagreements but they shouldn’t lead to a quarrel. Don’t entertain that thought and give space to the devil. When there is a disagreement, move on from there. Look at the thing that you are disagreeing on. Is it critical or is it just a preference? If it’s a preference, there’s no need to dwell on it. But if it’s critical, there’s no need to quarrel about it also. There shouldn’t be any hatred or quarrelling. Although this church had resources, they were quarrelling. This is truly not healthy.

1 Corinthians 3:1 - “Dear brothers and sisters, when I was with you I couldn’t talk to you as I would to spiritual people. I had to talk as though you belonged to this world or as though you were infants in Christ.”

I can read the Bible many times or pray many times and serve in many areas. But if I quarrel, I am not spiritual and am still of the flesh. I am still a spiritual baby.

1 Corinthians 3:2 - “I had to feed you with milk, not with solid food, because you weren’t ready for anything stronger. And you still aren’t ready,”

If you’ve seen babies, they drink milk sip by sip. When we eat solid food, it shows that we have grown up as milk doesn’t give us enough energy. If we take milk only, we can’t do the works of God. Food is truly the will of God in our lives. Some words of God are not for the faint hearted. This is the solid food - that we can take up the cross, deny ourselves and walk closer to God. The life of a Christian won’t be easy. We will have challenges. The difference between us and those without Jesus is that we have hope. A brother was sharing with me that because his family had a challenge, they drew closer to God. We might think that an easier life will bring us closer to God. If God sees that we can take the difficulties, He allows the challenge to come along our way so that we come closer to Him. Like Job, when he went through all the difficulties, he said that in the past he heard of Jesus, but now he felt Him. When you go through some worldly place, you feel uncomfortable. I love to eat nice food and there are some nice food in Singapore that are found in places with interesting night activities. I brought my wife there once and it tasted fantastic but it was my first and last time. It was because we had to walk past shophouses with those activities and we weren’t comfortable. In the past, I used to not bother. But because we have a relationship with Jesus, I felt uncomfortable. That is the sort of maturity we want.

1 Corinthians 3:3 - “for you are still controlled by your sinful nature. You are jealous of one another and quarrel with each other. Doesn’t that prove you are controlled by your sinful nature? Aren’t you living like people of the world?”

The root of the quarrelling is jealousy and it comes from pride. When something triggers us, it becomes strife. As this goes on, this Church of Corinth became divided. They started to have their own divisions and follow their own doctrine that they can’t work together. Whenever we see someone, not just in church, that has done a good job and we feel bitter about it, let’s come to God quickly. The devil is powerless against us if we don’t allow him to do so. If we choose to entertain his thoughts, we have strife among us. Bless those who persecute you. If we can do that, God will do the rest.

Let’s not become like the Church of Corinth and look out for one another.

Points for today:

1. Gathering in Unity

Matthew 18:20 - “For where two or three gather together as my followers, I am there among them.”

When we gather in unity, in the name of Jesus, He is there. Let’s have one purpose and one person that’s in the centre. We don’t gather for interest groups. It is not in unity. In unity, we gather together and place Jesus in the centre. At the same time, I don’t discourage us from gathering for interest groups. But don’t mistake it with fellowship and gathering in unity. In church, even with people you don’t like, you still can gather in unity. God loves everyone in the world. If God can do that, who am I to pass a judgement to who I love? In His name, we feel that He’s really there among us. In every conversation, let’s align ourselves with Him. When we gather in unity, it brings the presence of God. When God is with us, they feel so much more secure. When the Lord is present with us, we aren’t afraid to face our challenges. In the Old Testament, a prayer was made - if your presence doesn’t go with us, we don’t want to leave this place.

2. Dwell in Unity

Psalms 133:1-3 - “How wonderful and pleasant it is when brothers live together in harmony! For harmony is as precious as the anointing oil that was poured over Aaron’s head, that ran down his beard and onto the border of his robe. Harmony is as refreshing as the dew from Mount Hermon that falls on the mountains of Zion. And there the Lord has pronounced his blessing, even life everlasting.”

It says that it is a pleasant thing for brothers and sisters to dwell in unity. In the past, during watch night service, there is a section that everyone must sing. My parents have been singing this song for the past 40 years. The song itself is a very easy way to help us remember the verse. It served as a reminder to me. I also have 2 brothers. There are moments of disagreements when we were younger. Brothers fight with one another and after 10 minutes, we are fine with each other. When we dwell in unity, how good and pleasant is it? It is easy to meet one another occasionally, but to live with each other is challenging. If everybody in the worship team just does what they have to do without caring about the roles of others, they are just gathering together, not dwelling together. Dwelling together means they have harmony. We will always be looking out for one another. There is a melodious feeling. That is how good and pleasant it is. I could experience that this morning. When we can dwell together, if God placed these people in our family, it would be a matter of preference that might strain your relationship. If you can dwell in unity with the preferences, it is really unity. There’s no need to quarrel. The worst is silent treatment. Come back to the word of God and meditate on the word.

The oil suggests that God blesses us from the head to the toe. He blessed from the head of the household to the last member, the head of the church to the last member. When we dwell in unity, we have the blessings of God.

3. Walking in Unity

Ephesians 4:1 - “Therefore I, a prisoner for serving the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of your calling, for you have been called by God.”

I encourage you to walk in a manner of a Christian. We shouldn’t do things like a worldly person. We have to walk in a worthy manner.

Ephesians 4:2 - “Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love.”

When we have to tell someone off, we do it in these ways as shown above. With humility, the rest will naturally come about. We need to be humble and gentle. It takes a long time for someone to change. But we shouldn’t lose our patience in the process. Let’s not be impatient to get the patience. Let Him slowly build us up. The issue might be about the other person. But we can use this as a form of training - whether we can build humility, gentleness and patience. Bearing with one another in love is tough to do. A new commandment Jesus gave is to love others like how He loved us. By this, all man shall know they are His disciples. We want to do someone that the world and the devil cannot do. It is all for His glory and not our might. Encourage each other by His word and among one another.

Ephesians 4:3 - “Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace.”

Jesus went through such a humbling stage to maintain the unity of the Spirit. He wants to fully obey God. He is eager for us to receive true salvation. Let’s be united in the right thing. Jesus must be in the midst.

Ephesians 4:11 - “Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers.”

In the church, there will be five fold ministry. The whole idea of a church to have these roles isn't for praises. But it is to equip and build one another in the same body of Christ. If I am weak, you help me build up.

Ephesians 4:13 - “This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ.”

We don’t just walk in unity, but our belief, faith and knowledge of God is united too. When we pray for one another, it is effective prayer as we are righteous. This is the adulthood that Jesus has set for us. Are we there yet? When we walk in unity, we can see the growth in the Lord. When things get negative, we aren’t shaken as we stand in firm solid ground. We stand on the victory ground already but we have to be mature to know that. The whole thing is chaotic. If you are mature, no matter how the world changes, we can grow in Him. This is what the Lord wants to see us do in this limited lifetime. We only have this lifetime to grow so we should use it wisely.

Ephesians 4:14-15 - “Then we will no longer be immature like children. We won’t be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth. Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church.”

This is the beautiful united body that we want to see. We are part of it and we are working our way there now. If we think others are more important than us, we will reach this stage. There will be no competition and jealousy. We are only united as one. This is the refuge and solace that God has given us.

In all, we should

1. Gather in Unity

2. Dwell in Unity

3. Walk in Unity

1 Corinthians 1:10 - “I appeal to you, dear brothers and sisters, by the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, to live in harmony with each other. Let there be no divisions in the church. Rather, be of one mind, united in thought and purpose.”


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