Wednesday, 1 December 2021
Title: Your True and Proper Worship
Author: Pastor Wallace Ong
22 The crowd joined in the attack against Paul and Silas, and the magistrates ordered them to be stripped and beaten with rods. 23 After they had been severely flogged, they were thrown into prison, and the jailer was commanded to guard them carefully. 24 When he received these orders, he put them in the inner cell and fastened their feet in the stocks. 25 About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them.
The early church had sent Paul and Silas, together with a few other believers, to the newly founded Gentile churches throughout Antioch, Syria and Cilicia to bring them the good news of Jesus Christ. After receiving a vision of a man from Macedonia asking him for help, Paul knew that God was telling him to go there and preach the gospel. When they sought and found a place for prayer in Philippi, they met with some women who had gathered there. Paul preached to them the Gospel and many became believers. On another occasion whilst going out for prayer again, Paul encountered a woman, mentioned only as a slave girl who had an evil spirit. Calling on the name of our Lord Jesus, Paul commanded the evil spirit to come out of her and the evil spirit departed from the girl. This led to their arrest and a series of events in which Paul and Silas were stripped, beaten ruthlessly and thrown into prison.
The very next thing we are told about them was that they were heard praying and singing hymns to God around midnight, and all the other prisoners were listening to them. Paul and Silas knew they were only acting in obedience to what God had told them and yet here they were suffering and in pain! Despite this, they still chose to honour God as if nothing had gone wrong.
Acts 16 tells the story of Paul and Silas, who were thrown into prison for preaching the Gospel. Their backs were ripped open with a whip, and at midnight; in the most unsanitary of conditions, in a filthy environment with their legs stretched apart in shackles causing excruciating pain, Paul and Silas held a worship service. The Bible tells us that “About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God”. They were dedicated to living holy lives, set apart for God to use and do with as He wills. They knew that God’s ways were greater than theirs.
At the beginning of the Covid Pandemic, my senior pastor said to me, “Wallace, keep your eyes and your ears open. There will be more opportunities to reach out to others and share the love of God during difficult times. Be bold and creative. Do not worry about making mistakes, because mistakes help us to learn and improve. Think about what we should do in this season.” I listened to him with amazement in my heart. Shortly after that talk, Pastor Isaac started to write devotions, sending them out to our congregation daily and eventually reaching many people outside of our PBC family. He was also visiting people in hospitals who were in need, until he was asked to stop doing so by those who love him and were concerned for his safety. However, that didn’t stop him, he started to call people from home and invited a small number of people to meet at his house while many of us were worrying about the pandemic. His heart always focuses on God’s Kingdom and God’s people, regardless of the situation around him. His walk with God is a sermon preached every day. His life is like an epistle written by God to be read by all the people around him. Very often, I find my pastor living out the teachings of the Bible and the Word comes alive in the most practical way. I remembered when he said to me, “Wallace, we are to please God not man. People feel that I am a softie, and it is ok to be a softie; a softie gets more things done behind the scenes. A softie gets to love people to heaven.” I know it is the fruit of the Spirit in display and the love for God’s people that lead him to submit himself for the greater good of others.
“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.” – Romans 12:1
Dear Heavenly Father, we praise you and thank you for what you have done for us. Forgive us, if we do not live the life that is pleasing to you. Help us to surrender ourselves to you as a living sacrifice, to be holy and pleasing to you as our true and proper worship. Thank you, Father. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
22 众人就一同起来攻击他们。官长吩咐剥了他们的衣裳，用棍打；23 打了许多棍，便将他们下在监里，嘱咐禁卒严紧看守。24 禁卒领了这样的命，就把他们下在内监里，两脚上了木狗。25 约在半夜，保罗和西拉祷告，唱诗赞美神，众囚犯也侧耳而听。
使徒行传 16 章讲述了保罗和西拉因传福音而被下在监里的故事。在午夜时分，他们的后背被鞭子撕开；在最不卫生的情况下、在肮脏的环境中、他们的双脚被铐在脚镣中伸展开而导致极度疼痛，保罗和西拉进行了崇拜仪式。圣经告诉我们：“约在半夜，保罗和西拉祷告，唱诗赞美神，众囚犯也侧耳而听”。他们献身于过圣洁的生活，分别出来让上帝随着祂的旨意使用和行事。他们知道上帝的方法比他们的更好。
在新冠肺炎大流行一开始时，我的主任牧师对我说：“Wallace，保持让你的眼睛和耳朵张开着。在困难时期将会有更多机会接触他人并分享上帝的爱。要大胆创新，不要担心犯错，因为错误可以帮助我们学习和改进。想想我们在这个期间应该做些什么。” 我听着他的话，同时心中充满了惊讶。在那次谈话之后不久，严以撒牧师开始书写每日灵粮，每天将它们发送到我们的会众，最终接触到我们 PBC（班底浸信会） 家庭以外的许多人。他也去医院探访有需要的人，直到关爱他、担心他安全的人要求他停止这样做。然而，这并没有令他停下脚步。正当我们很多人都在为流行病担忧时，他开始在家里打电话，并邀请了一小部分人到他家见面。无论他周围的情况如何，他的心总是专注于上帝的国度和上帝的子民。他与上帝的同行就是每天的讲道信息。他的生命就像是上帝写给他身边所有人的书信。很多时候，我发现我的牧师活出了圣经的教导，并且以最实际的方式活出了圣经的话。我记得他曾对我说：“Wallace，我们要取悦上帝，而不是取悦人。人们觉得我是个柔弱的人，做个柔弱的人也没关系；一个柔弱的人在幕后完成更多的事情。柔弱的人会以爱领人到天堂。” 我知道这是圣灵果子的流露和对上帝子民的爱，导致他为了他人的更大利益而献上自己。
“所以弟兄们，我以神的慈悲劝你们，将身体献上，当作活祭，是圣洁的，是神所喜悦的；你们如此事奉乃是理所当然的。” – 罗马书12:1