Start the year right by deciding to be a giving person, taught Pastor Bobby Chaw, drawing—once again—from the Book of Numbers.
Having preached out of the Book of Numbers for much of 2017, executive pastor of City Harvest Church Bobby Chaw continued to draw wisdom from this oft-understudied book on the second week of the new year. This time he taught out of Numbers 7, focusing on the message that God’s people are to be a giving people.
Chaw illustrated his message through the way the children of Israel made offerings to the Lord.
In Numbers 7:2, the leaders of Israel made an offering despite the fact they had already made an offering for building God’s tabernacle. This special offering was for the ministry and maintenance of the tabernacle. Chaw stressed that the first offering was for the building and the second was for maintaining the building and the work of ministry.
He stated an important truth concerning the church: whilst the church has a building, the church is not a building. A church without people is incomplete.
“A church only has life and carries the presence of God because of its people. That makes the difference.”
1 Peter 2:5 says “[Y]ou also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.”
Chaw explained that similarly, each individual is a living stone that makes the church.
“A stone by itself is incomplete and meaningless but collectively, it rises up to become a beautiful house of God, a dwelling place for the presence of the Most High,” he said.
However, he explained that the church goes beyond the building of the tabernacle, but also requires a priesthood of ministry and service in the presence of God.
Chaw then humorously shared that chapter 7 of the Book of Numbers was perhaps the most boring of all the chapters because it repeatedly stated how the 12 tribes of Israel brought 12 identical gifts to the tabernacle, spanning all 89 verses. Yet, these verses served to show how God views every gift as significant.
“God records every offering and sacrifice we give because we are a giving people,” quipped Chaw.
Hebrews 6:10 reminds Christians that “God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them.”
WHAT CAN WE POSSIBLY GIVE GOD?
The gifts that the Israelites brought were meant to accomplish two things: to be a means of transport and a means of ministry and sacrifice.
Numbers 7:3 states “They brought their gifts before the Lord six covered carts and twelve oxen—an ox from each leader and a cart from every two.”
The Israelites were mindful that the Levites had to do heavy lifting and thus gave oxen and carts. From here, it showed their care for one another. Likewise, Chaw stressed that ministry and giving had to be thoughtful and careful.
Chaw then reminisced on the early days of the church in which there was a need for a team to set up equipment for service every week. Although Chaw knew his calling was to teach, he was willing to meet the needs of the church at that time instead.
“I felt a call to be a teacher and preacher of the Word, but when I looked around there was no need for teaching. When I looked and listened, there was a need for a physical arrangement team.” This was the crew that set up the hall for service. “I realised this was an area in which I could serve. We would sit by the roadside waiting for Paul Chong’s mini blue lorry so that we could hop on and carry all the equipment.”
Chaw reminded the congregation that the church must show care to the needs of others. It must “Find a need, meet it. Find a hurt, heal it.”
He then shared an encouraging testimony of an elderly couple, Mr and Mrs Tan. Mr Tan used to be an arrogant man who was completely uninterested in Christianity.
However in 2010, their neighbor, Carol Ling, a member of City Harvest Church, visited them every week. She cared for them as if they were her own parents. Although they refused to be open to talk about Christianity, Ling did not lose hope.
During Chinese New Year, Ling noticed that Mr Tan was unable to walk due to a fall and she offered to pray for Mr Tan. When she put her hands on his leg, Mr Tan said that he felt electricity flowing through his legs and he stood up to walk.
At that moment, he recognized the tangible presence of God and His miracles. “Your Jesus is real!” he said to Ling. Today, Mr and Mrs Tan are water-baptized and attending services actively.
Chaw used this example to show how people can receive eternal life because of one person’s willingness to give.
Sacrifice can also come in the form of prayers and praise, Chaw went on to say. He encouraged the congregation to make this year different by first turning to God in times of need.
Hebrews 13:15 says “Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that openly profess his name.”
“Learn to have more praise on your lips and less complaints,” says Chaw.
THE ATTITUDE OF GIVING
The Israelites gave, not because they wanted something in return but because God first loved them. Similarly, Chaw told the congregation to give generously without thinking of being blessed. As stated in Matthew 10:8, “Freely you have received; freely give.”
In closing, Chaw encouraged the congregation to step out of their comfort zones and to be a giving people. He reminded them that giving was not just a single decision but a daily commitment.
Wesley Chuang, 24, an undergraduate, shared, “I was very touched knowing that no matter how small our giving is, God still remembers and values it.”
“My greatest takeaway is knowing that serving the Lord is not just a onetime decision but also a daily commitment.” shared Lim Shi Ting, 18, a polytechnic student. “When we add thought and care into the gift, the Lord’s love is being reflected through our gift!”