On the weekend before National Day, Aries Zulkarnain taught the church how to learn from their miracles.
The weekend of Aug 5 and 6 saw City Harvest Church’s executive pastor, Aries Zulkarnain preaching a message on learning from the past. He began with an article from The Straits Times titled, “Is Singapore’s history in our future?”
The article said that more Singaporeans recalled the opening of Singapore’s two casinos than the Bukit Ho Swee fire, which happened in May 1961.
It also quoted Prime Minister Lee Hsien Long saying, “The dangers we avoided long ago are not permanently gone, but remain potential possibilities. If we forget our history, they may come back, and we will have to relearn painful lessons.”
With that, Zulkarnain started his message on how pain prepares someone for his purpose.
PAIN PREPARES US FOR OUR PURPOSE
“After you and I have gone through bad experiences, we should learn the lessons behind the ordeal so that history will not repeat itself,” Zulkarnain pointed out.
He introduced to the congregation “the law of pain”: “Good management of bad experiences leads to great growth,” he said. “Conversely, bad management of bad experiences leads to repeated crisis and decline. God has a purpose for our pain; we don’t go through it for nothing.”
Mark 6:34-38 tells of Jesus feeding the 5,000. When the disciples realized that the people were hungry, their initial reaction was, “Send them away, that they may go into the surrounding country and villages and buy themselves bread.”
The disciples probably knew that Jesus could have performed a miracle easily. What they were afraid of is probably the inconvenience and the logistics of having to organize food for the large crowd, Zulkarnain suggested.
“We are all like that. Jesus, don’t ask me to solve problems, send them away. But Jesus was trying to teach them something. He wanted them to be involved in solving the problem.”
At the end of the day, Jesus performed the miracle. Did the disciple learn anything from the miracle? No. Mark 6:42 says, “So they all ate and were filled.”
“Typical, right?” asked Zulkarnain to laughter from the crowd. “When God performs the miracle, we are happy and full. We move on with our lives and forget what we have learned.”
LEARNING THE LESSONS BEHIND OUR PROBLEMS
An experience does not teach you anything, Zulkarnain noted. Only an evaluated experience will yield lessons and wisdom for the future.
Jesus was trying to teach the disciples a spiritual lesson behind the problem. “When God performs a miracle, don’t just stop at sharing the testimony. A miracle serves not just as a testimony but also as a tutor. It should equip you to face or avoid the next crisis, to help you experience a greater miracle.”
The pastor shared a story about Christian, a member of the church who asked for prayers as he had just lost his job. In just three weeks, he managed to get a new job that paid him better than the previous job.
Christian shared his testimony during his cell group meeting, but he did not stop there. He added that it was not just the testimony he wanted to share, he wanted to share about what he learned from the experience.
Going back to the Bible, Zulkarnain said that, in Mark 6, Jesus knew that the disciples had not learned anything, so he brought them into a similar situation in Mark 8:1-9. Once again, the disciples faced the same situation of needing to feed a multitude.
The disciples, however, responded in the same way in verse 4: “How can one satisfy these people with bread here in the wilderness?”
The problem, Zulkarnain pointed out, is that the disciples had not learned anything from the previous miracle.
What lessons did Jesus want the disciples to learn? “The disciples still didn’t get that with a renewed mind, God always produce more with less. When you deal with a crisis, deal it with a renewed mind and not with your realistic mind. When you face a problem, don’t just pray for protection, pray for perspective.”
Immediately after Jesus fed the multitudes, He went on to a boat with the disciples. This time, the disciples forgot to bring bread with them and they blamed each other (Mark 8:13). Jesus reminded the disciples in Mark 8:15, “Take heed, beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod.” However, the disciples still did not understand what Jesus wanted to convey to them.
Mark 8:17 says, “But Jesus, being aware of it, said to them, ‘Why do you reason because you have no bread? Do you not yet perceive nor understand? Is your heart still hardened?’”
“When people don’t learn, it is not because they are not clever; it is because they have an attitude problem,” Zulkarnian said. “When you change your attitude, you will start to learn.”
Many times when people face challenges, it is hard for them to see and hear God. In times like that, Zulkarnian taught, remember the lessons learned from previous miracles.
In conclusion, the pastor read from Psalms 25:4, which says, “Show me how you work God, school me in your ways.” Zulkarnain encouraged the church not to just ask God to show them His works, but also ask God to school them in His ways.