By Elder Chairman Chow Chee Yan
Shalom, brothers and sisters in PJEFC.
A stocktake evaluates our spiritual conditions, and inspires us to make changes.
In my sermon on 31st December 2023, I encouraged you to do a stocktake of your personal and ministry life to evaluate your spiritual condition.
At the Watchnight service, a brother-in-Christ shared he was in ICU with stage 5 Covid-19 infection. Stage 5 is the last stage of Covid-19 infection and he was critically ill with multi-organ involvement, which needed ventilation to help save him. He miraculously recovered and was given a new lease of life. The near-death experience inspired him to take stock of his life and make big changes. He vowed to be like the one out of the ten lepers whom Jesus had healed. The one returned to Jesus and gave praise to God, while the others went away (Luke 17:11-19).
Although a personal crisis often jolts people to take stock of their lives, a regular stocktake of our lives is a good discipline to cultivate. And the new year is a good time to conduct one, particularly to take stock of our discipleship life.
So, we ask ourselves some pointed questions: “How will we know that discipleship is being embedded into our church culture, a goal we set for 2024? And what are the signs or evidence?”
The 2 signs that the culture of discipleship is embedded in PJEFC are growing Christlikeness and growing love for one another.
When discipleship is present, two dominant signs or evidence will be seen in our church. One is growing fruitfulness in our members and the other is seeing increasing love for one another.
Fruitfulness is Christlikeness. Jesus says, “By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples” (John 15:8). Increasing Christlikeness is proof that we are disciples of Christ.
Spiritual fruitfulness begins when we invite Jesus Christ into our lives. God’s Holy Spirit comes into our lives and we begin this journey of bearing fruit which glorifies our Lord. And God wants us to bear much fruit and not be content with little fruit. And fruit does not come automatically on its own. It comes through allowing our lives to be pruned by God, often through pain and suffering, and us abiding in Christ and Christ abiding in us. (Read John 15)
“Love for one another” is from John 13:35. Jesus says, “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” This love is not ordinary human love. It is the love of God. It is that love that sacrifices and serves and looks for no reward. It is the love that took Christ to the cross. This is divine love. And it is only possible to those who have been born of God and know God. This kind of love is the hallmark of a genuine disciple of Christ.
Therefore, do not wait until a dramatic life event jolts you into taking stock of your life. Big changes can happen to you in 2024 through a stocktake. Here are four guidelines to take stock of your discipleship life.
1) Prepare yourself and invite the Holy Spirit to partner with you. In a medical checkup, the doctor orders a battery of tests , reviews the results and then takes you through the actions you are to take. Likewise, the Holy Spirit is your doctor. You may also discuss the stocktake results with a mature friend.
Use Psalm 139:23-24 to invite the Holy Spirit. Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!
2) Remember your life is WIP (work in progress). Read Romans 8:18-34. God knows you will always fall short of His standard. He uses His standard, not to discourage us or make us quit but to increase our trust in Him. The Spirit helps us in our weaknesses.
Jane went to Bible School hoping for happiness. But God brought up her childhood wounds and traumas while she was there, and she experienced God’s healing through the ministry of others.
So, do not be discouraged but trust the Spirit to help you in your weakness.
3) Use Galatians 5:22-23 – the 9 fruit of the Spirit as a template for fruitfulness, together with these questions: “Am I more determined to be more Christlike this year?” “Am I asking more for the filling of the Holy Spirit? Am I praying more? Am I sinning less? Am I forgiving more? Am I serving others with my time and money more?
4) Use “one another” verses for love one another. There are 59 “one another” verses in the New Testament. The majority are positive commands and some are negative. You can easily extract the list online. Use them as your guide. As you pray, the Holy Spirit will convict you, probably on a few “one another” verses, that He wants you to pay attention to.
The command to “forgive one another” is always important. Please don’t carry forward any unforgiveness into the new year. Start 2024 well.
Your leaders and pastors would be happy to hear from you of your spiritual stocktake exercise.
📱 Text your leader or pastor about your spiritual stocktake exercise.