My Bethel Experience

Friday, 3 Dec 2010.

It wasn’t planned.  I had sent the little Picanto in for servicing and was having my breakfast at the Upper Thomson Road Food Centre when the idea popped into my mind, “Hey, why don’t I walk to Lower Peirce Reservoir for a little quiet time?”  And that was what I did.

Returning to my “bethel” after 7 years.

As I sat down on one of the benches overlooking the reservoir, it occured to me that I was there 7 years ago!  If I remember correctly, it was also in December (2003) that I went there for a time of seeking the Lord just before stepping out and into fulltime ministry on 1 Jan 2004.  And now, 7 years later, the Lord led me back to the same place.  It reminded me of Jacob and how the Lord asked him to go back to Bethel where he encountered God, and there, the Lord met with him again.  So I promptly turned to Gen 35 and allowed the Lord to speak to me through that account.

The first thing that the Lord impressed upon my heart was that 2011, my 8th year in fulltime ministry, would be a year of new beginnings.  As a pastor of Covenant Vision Christian Church, as the Lord extends the boundaries of the church, so too will I be challenged in the same areas.  Many new initiatives will take place and I am to be prepared for these.

The following points encouraged and affirmed me as I read Gen 35:1-15:

1.  Instructions to the Household (v2):  As I serve the Lord, my household is also implicated.  The reminder is not only for me to stay set apart for the Lord, but also for my household to “put away the foreign gods that are among you, purify yourselves and change your garments.”

2.  The Faithfulness of God (v3):  Jacob returned to Bethel to worship God “who answered [him] … and has been with [him] in the way which I have gone.”  Similarly, the Lord has been so faithful to me all these years, and I know He will continue to walk with me in the days ahead.  Since the day He challenged with the question, “Have I not shown you I am faithful?”, I have been experiencing His faithfulness and grace each and every day.

3.  The Protection of God (v5):  As Jacob and his family journeyed, the terror of God was upon the cities and they did not pursue the sons of Jacob.  This is such an assurance to me that the Lord will protect me and my household as we determine to walk and journey with Him regardless the challenges and situations.

4.  Confirmation of Ministry (v10):  Here, God confirmed for Jacob, the name, Israel, which was first mentioned at Penuel (Gen 32:28).  To me, it seemed to me that the Lord was confirming and affirming my ministry and call, giving me renewed confidence to keep speaking boldly for Him.  Like Jacob, I have wrestled with God on many issues, and also with men.  There will be new issues but like Israel, I will prevail.

5.  The Call to Worship & Consecration (v14):  Ministry may be tough and demanding at times, but I must never forget to worship the Lord and to stand on His Word and promises.  That said, worship is costly and always involves a sacrifice.

The Lord said, “See how the trees have grown these 7 years.”

After receiving and being encouraged by these points, I looked up and saw big trees.  The Lord then said, “See how the trees have grown these 7 years.”  I thought about the lives that my ministry had impacted and also how I have grown these past years.  And tears welled up in my eyes.

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