Three of City Harvest Church’s pastors shared very special messages about the most special woman in all our lives, on the Mother’s Day weekend.
By Josephine Sitorus, Isabella Ng and Dawn Seow
The recent multiple services weekend, on May 7 and 8, was even more special when it coincided with Mother’s Day this year. City Harvest Church’s pastors, Wu Yuzhuang, Aries Zulkarnain and Bobby Chaw delivered three different messages to honor the mothers and encourage the congregation.
At the first service of the weekend, CHC’s division pastor Wu Yuzhuang spoke of a Mother’s Day tradition: gift-giving.
“What are you going to give your Mom this Mother’s Day?” Wu asked as he began his sermon.
“Some of us will give cards, flowers, candy, others will give ang pows (red packets),” Wu said. “But this afternoon, I want to suggest to you to give her some things that’s even greater than all these things.”
He proceeded to read from Exodus 20:12, which says, “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God is giving you.”
“Of the Ten Commandments, only one comes with a promise,” Wu said, “If you honor your father and your mother, the Bible says you will have a long life and you will possess the land.”
What does it mean to honor one’s parents?
“The word ‘honor’ literally means ‘to give significance to’. Studies show that the number one cause of depression in American women is low self-esteem. Every person needs to feel significant. We all need to feel important. The greatest gift you can give your Mom this Mother’s Day is the gift of significance.”
Wu explained that significance could be expressed in three ways:
1. The Gift of Acceptance
“Acceptance doesn’t mean that you agree with everything your mother says or does. It doesn’t mean that you think she’s perfect, or that you must ignore all her weaknesses and flaws,” Wu explained. “But to accept your mother is to realize that of all the humans God can bring into your life, God chose your Mom to be the vehicle to bring you to this world. And God never makes mistakes.”
He also drew the link between acceptance and forgiveness. “To accept your mother means to forgive her. Mothers are not perfect. Accept them for who they are.”
2. The Gift of Appreciation
Wu quoted philosopher William James, who said, “The deepest principle in human nature is the craving to be appreciated.”
Many people take their mothers for granted, and seldom thank them for what they have done. Wu encouraged the congregation to be grateful. “Let us be generous with our praise for our mothers,” he said.
3. The Gift of Affirmation
“The responsibility of being a good mother can be overwhelming,” Wu shared, “Mothers are constantly battling with self-doubt.”
He encouraged the members to be a source of affirmation to their mothers. “Appreciation is past-oriented, but affirmation is future-oriented,” he explained.
Wu then prayed for all the mothers at the service, reassuring them that they were not alone and that God was walking with them through their life’s journey.
ARIES ZULKARNAIN: “GOD REMEMBERS”
At the next service, executive pastor Aries Zulkarnain shared the stories of two mothers in the Bible, encouraging the congregation to give honor to their mothers and grandmothers.
He opened with the story of Elizabeth in Luke 1: 5. She and her husband Zechariah had been waiting for a child for many years but they never conceived. However, because they were Levites, they came to accept that they were not given a child, God was their portion and He was more than enough for them.
“Maybe you can relate to this couple: After so many years of waiting and trying, prayers are not yet answered, you think that maybe something is not meant for you,” Zulkarnain said. “But the delay is never final; you can never dictate what God has planned for your life.”
He continued sharing from Luke 1: 13 where the angel of God appeared to Zechariah. He said that God remembered the prayers that Zechariah stopped praying and He answered them. The pastor explained to the congregation that even when they stop praying, God does not forget their prayer—He is still working on it. Zulkarnain declared that in due time, God will answer their prayers.
Zechariah, instead of being happy at the news, was full of unbelief. So much so that the angel Gabriel shut his mouth until his son was born. This is a learning point for us, Zulkarnain said, that words are the power to miracles. Gabriel shut the Zechariah’s mouth because he did not want his negative words to sabotage the miracle.
His wife Elizabeth was also caught by surprise; she was not expecting God to answer her prayers. Zulkarnain then shared a story of a National Geographic photographer assigned to take a picture for a story on Love. He went looking for inspiration but his effort was in vain. He randomly took some photos and when he looked at them again, he realized that there was a photo of a woman reading a newspaper and its headline read: “I love you”. It gave him the revelation that the harder one looks for love, the harder it is to find, but when one is not looking for it, it will sneak up on the person.
“Just when you are about to give up on the dream, when you least expect it, it will suddenly sneak up on you,” Zulkarnian said in encouragement.
The baby born to Elizabeth and Zechariah was John the Baptist, the one assigned by God to prepare the way for the coming of Jesus Christ. Zulkarnian told the congregation that their painful experience can be a source of strength to others.
The pastor encouraged the mothers in the congregation to be strong. He prayed for them to receive the blessings of God so that they would be full in their hearts and be able to love their children in the way God does.
The third preacher, missions pastor Bobby Chaw preached from the story of yet another mother in the Bible. He opened the sermon by noting that being a mother is a highly stressful job—this was as true in Bible times as it is today. Matthew 15:21-28 tells the story of a desperate and stressed-out mother. Her daughter was severely demon-possessed and no one had answers for her. She heard of Jesus, but being a Canaanite and a Gentile, she had no right to see Jesus. But she pursued Jesus for the sake of her daughter anyway.
“Jesus said to her ‘Great is your faith’,” Chaw noted. “Not once did Jesus say this to Peter, John or James.”
With that, Chaw shared two things that Jesus saw in this mother:
The mother pleaded with Jesus three times to help her daughter. She was not deterred by criticism or silence. Even when Jesus rejected her for the third time, she persisted. Finally in verse 28, “Then Jesus answered and said to her, “O woman, great is your faith! Let it be to you as you desire.” And her daughter was healed from that very hour.”
“Perseverance is persistence despite of difficulty or delay,” Chaw said. “It is getting up each time you are knocked down.”
Chaw shared the story of how church members Timothy Chiong and his wife Bennie lost two of their triplets in 2014 when they were born extremely premature. However, they kept on praying and believing God that the last of the triplets would survive. God is faithful: not only is baby Dillon strong and healthy now, but this year, the Chiongs were blessed with a baby girl.
The pastor encouraged the congregation to persevere in difficult situations so that they will receive what God has promised.
“When we have exhausted all our resources, hope enables us to reach down and discover strength beyond our own,” said Chaw.
In the case of the Canaanite mother, hope for her daughter’s deliverance superseded the negative response she received from Jesus and the crowd.
Chaw highlighted Paul’s explanation of hope in Romans 8. Verses 24 and 25 say, “For we were saved in this hope, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance.”
Chaw noted from this verse that sufferings are temporary but the problem is “what we see”. Expounding on how to “eagerly wait” as Romans 8:24-25 says, Chaw referred to Romans 8:19, “For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God.”
“We are to wait with earnest expectation, which is to wait with expectation with our head raised and our eyes fixed over the horizon,” explained Chaw. “It is intense anticipation!”
Sharing the story of a beautiful flower that bloomed from the ground after the Hiroshima bombing, Chaw demonstrated how hope could give life to a dead city.
“Thank you, mothers, for always hoping,” Chaw said.
In conclusion, the pastor shared that Jesus is the Hope of glory. If His believers were to keep persevering and hoping, their miracles will come, he said.