Benedictions and prayers for members

At the end of each Sunday service all of us would rise with raised hands as our pastor prays for the congregation; and we would respond and rejoin with a heartfelt Amen. Practically always, it would be the Aaronic blessing in Numbers 6, which we echo and relish.

Last Sunday, it was similar and more – with an added prayer midway in the service. Pastor was explaining that indeed 3 John 2 is a wish and a prayer, a verse much extolled by WOF proponents, and went on to pray forcefully for the members, drawing a loud resounding and resonant “amen”, seemingly agreeing and appropriating for prosperity in our lives.

Indeed many would desire and delight in this blessing.  Thousands likewise throng the Chinese temple in Waterloo Street and seek for similar blessings for themselves and loved ones.  Apparently some churches are no different.

But what is the real meaning and context of 3 John 2?

http://www.ukapologetics.net/08/3john2.htm

And with so many other prayers in the New Testament, why pronounce 3 John 2 over the members when it was specifically addressed to Gaius with particular needs.

http://www.truthaccordingtoscripture.com/documents/prayers/prayers-new-testament.php#.VVqlhfmqqko

So hopefully this may be the beginning of a trend where our pastor / pulpit would pray for us using the  prayer patterns in the New Testament, as in Ephesians; or in Colossians 1:9-12, where these prayers are more pertinent, relevant, and not just for the prosperity which might be a distortion of the scriptural intent and a distraction and deception by the evil one.

For this reason also, since the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that

you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, 10 so that

you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, 

to please Him in all respects, 

bearing fruit in every good work

and increasing in the knowledge of God;

11 strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, 

for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience; 

joyously

 12 giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in Light.

Posting edited on 22nd June.
Sigh …… My pastor preached on Prosperity for another 3 Sundays! Is this really a major theme and legacy for believers?

To Live Simply, as a Pilgrim

This morning, I chanced upon this article in Time magazine by Alysha Germain –

http://time.com/3850418/life-lessons-small-house/

Apparently, Germain’s story was featured widely elsewhere e.g.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3068188/Alysha-St-Germain-reveals-children-came-terms-death-husband-moving-tiny-house.html

And in her article, she cross-referenced to how to create a 33 piece wardrobe (applicable to men too); http://www.xojane.com/clothes/project-33-capsule-wardrobe and to http://theproject333.com/, on how to live simply.

 

While I was dwelling on the above, a close brother WhatsApp what he termed as an“impactful video” = about how one’s perspective on life changes, when one realizes that life is short after experiencing cancer :-

http://aplus.com/a/random-people-vs-cancer-patients-answer-same-questions-on-life?so=CC4aWTBQ2dv2WsqaBAkuPZ&ref=ns

Uncanny indeed – how these truths are reinforced, and brings to mind again of 1 Peter 2:11.

I ‘WhatsApp back, that there is a command in scriptures for us to live as pilgrims and sojourners, and that in all of scriptures, there isn’t any command for us to be healthy and wealthy, other than a wish and prayer to be in health in 3 John; ( and earthly wealth is never even implied).  John’s wish and prayer is not surprising, conscious of matters of health, as with all old people who are frail and feeble.  Yet above all 3 John specifically, categorically and primarily states “as your soul prospers”

Increasingly I am amazed and question the position of those who frequently proclaim and declare health and wealth as a given for believers.  This focus might entrench people to embrace this earthly life rather than arranging our lives to live as a pilgrm.

I have also been reading Romans these past days.  Paul argues and proclaims that the givens for our faith and our position in Christ – salvation, sanctification, righteousness, victory, etc etc. – all pertaining to the state of our soul and spirit, and nothing at all about health and wealth.  It is sad how the preoccupations of the WOF proponents have eclipsed and minimized the explicit scriptural teachings for our sanctification and spirituality with that of the wellness and wealth of our earthy abode.  Clearly contradictory to the categorical command to live as pilgrims and sojourners.

Three years ago, my wife and me decided to downgrade our living space.  It took us a few months to go through our belongings and discard or give away items we could do without.  Most of the hundreds of books were given away, mostly to a Christian College in the Philippines. Our smaller flat, a Studio Apartment (one third the size of our previous apartment, which is empty now) would be ready in the later part of next year.

When friends ask where are we staying now after we moved out of our apartment, we would reply we are living out of a backpack – ha ha.

Meanwhile, without a proper home, we are staying with two of our daughters, storing a few pieces of clothes in each of the daughters’ home.  In the weekdays, we would go over to the eldest with a simple backpack of clothes and essentials, and then moving over to stay with the youngest daughter in the weekends; only carrying a backpack back and forth.

Since being convicted by 1 Peter 2:11, it was indeed uncanny that I would get a sampling taste of living simply and travelling light.

 

1 Peter 2:11

Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul;

 

Hebrews 11:13

These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.