Studying The Nature Of God
The presence of God, the name of God, His kindness and His love were the topics at last weekend’s services at City Harvest Church in Jurong West.
God created man to have a relationship with Him. He made available His love and His name to him and He never forgets him. CHC pastors Audrey Ng, Wu Yuzhuang, Bobby Chaw and Edmund Tay expounded on these points on the weekend of Apr 28 to 29.
SEEKING GOD’S PRESENCE: AUDREY NG
Ng opened the first service on Saturday by telling the congregation that they need the presence of God to grow spiritually. She shared that a man is in his natural state when he comes before God to have an encounter with Him–God created mankind to experience Him.
“A right relationship with God does not come by accident,” explained Ng. “It requires deliberate action, like seeking the Lord, and seeking His presence.”
She shared that to seek God’s presence is to set one’s heart and mind on Him (1 Chron 22:19).
“Seeking God is directing our minds’ attention and our hearts’ affection toward Him. It is a conscious decision, and a choice on our part,” Ng said.
While God loves the whole world, He wants to meet with each one of His children individually. Ng went on to stress to the congregation the importance of quiet time–a personal time spent to seek God by worshiping, praying and reading the Bible. She likened this to Moses spending time in the “Holy of Holies”, a place of experience.
“God’s presence blesses us, but not only in the form of physical blessings—it also blesses our emotional well-being,” said the pastor.
Quoting Psalms 46, Ng shared that God’s presence is here to provide refuge and strength—“an ever-present help in times of trouble”. She went on to read Isaiah 40:29 and assured the church that God’s presence will always be there to uplift them from the depths of their despair.
Ng added that seeking God’s presence is a conscious choice to direct the heart and mind toward God.
“God’s presence changes us when we perceive Him in a very experiential way.” In the Bible, God’s presence changed a hardened man like Saul, transforming him from a persecutor of Christians into a broken man who longed to experience God more.
God wants His people to have life-changing encounters and the only way to achieve that is to take time daily to seek God.
The pastor proceeded to share two stories with the congregation: first, Cain’s murder of his brother Abel; second, King David’s murder of his soldier Uriah, while the king committed adultery with his wife Bathsheba. Both men had committed similar sins, but their approach towards the presence of God after they had sinned made a difference in their future.
Cain left the presence of God, but David stayed. “Even in his [sin]condition, David knew not to leave God’s presence, and he made a conscious choice to want God’s presence,” Ng noted.
Cain’s life was finished when he sinned but David’s life had just begun. While their stories were very similar, the thing that differentiated the two men was the way they treated the presence of God. Cain chose to flee from the presence of God, but David knew the importance of having the presence of God in his life and he treated it with respect and love.
Ng encouraged the church: “With God, we are never finished.”
THE KING IS LOOKING IS FOR YOU: WU YUZHUANG
After King Saul, his three sons and his armies perished in the battle against the Philistines at Mount Gilboa (1 Samuel 31: 6), David became King over Israel.
How about Saul’s son, the “rightful” heir? You might ask. Telling the story of how King David sought Mephibosheth, Saul’s disabled grandson, Wu’s sermon—at the 5.30pm and 7pm services on Saturday—sought to demonstrate God’s faithfulness as the core of His overall sovereignty.
“Not many people knew Mephibosheth,” said Wu. “For those who knew him, he might be a picture of defeat and failure, but to God, he is a picture of His faithfulness and loving kindness.”
2 Samuel 9: 1-4 says that even though Jonathan had passed away, David remembered his covenant with his dear friend. King David was looking for Jonathan’s descendants and found Mephibosheth.
Wu introduced Mephibosheth in five points:
Mephibosheth was short-changed.
“Sometimes you feel that life has short-changed you,” noted Wu, “when you give more than what you have received.”
Mephibosheth was born to be the rightful heir to his grandfather, Saul’s throne, yet he ended up in a desolate place because his royal lineage fell.
Mephibosheth was lame and handicapped.
2 Samuel 4 recorded how Mephibosheth became lame. Upon hearing the news of Saul and Jonathan’s defeat, Mephibosheth’s nurse dropped him while they were escaping. He was only 5.
“Yet a person doesn’t become lame just because he was dropped,” Wu noted. “He only became crippled because someone didn’t treat his injury and made sure it healed properly. Somebody’s fault resulted to Mephibosheth’s misery.”
Mephibosheth was forgotten and cast aside.
The place that Mephibosheth lived, Lo Debar, was a desolate, empty, forgotten place (2 Sam 9:4). It was not a good place for the heir to the throne.
After 20 long years, there was a knock on Mephibosheth’s door—the king was looking for him.
“A knock always happens after the fall,” Wu said. “God is not looking for perfect people, but the ones who have fallen but choose to call on His name.”
The Bible says that Mephibosheth had a young son—this led to Wu’s next point.
Mephibosheth did not allow his disabilities to choke-up his abilities
“He was short-changed, became lame and was forgotten, yet Mephibosheth didn’t allow the lame part to affect the living part of his life,” said Wu, noting that Mephibosheth had a family despite his shortcomings.
“You can use what you have to get what you want in life,” Wu encouraged the people.
Mephibosheth might have fallen but he was not forgotten by God
“Your condition may have changed but His covenant hasn’t changed.”
1 Samuel 20: 42 says, “Then Jonathan said to David, ‘Go in peace, since we have both sworn in the name of the Lord, saying, ‘May the Lord be between you and me, and between your descendants and my descendants, forever.’”
David loved Jonathan and thus he never forgot their covenant. Similarly, God loves His people and He will never forget the covenant He made with them.
Deuteronomy 7:9 says, “Therefore know that the Lord your God, He is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and mercy for a thousand generations with those who love Him and keep His commandments.”
The story of Mephibosheth depicts the faithfulness of God to His promises towards His people. David and Jonathan’s love and commitment to each other speaks of God’s loving kindness with those who abide in Him.
Wu concluded with 2 Timothy 2: 13: “If we are faithless, He remains faithful; He cannot deny Himself.”
HIS NAME IS WONDERFUL: BOBBY CHAW
Chaw started his sermon by sharing a verse from Psalms 72:17. It says, “His name shall endure forever; His name shall continue as long as the sun. And men shall be blessed in Him; All nations shall call Him blessed.”
Chaw proceeded to share the importance of a name: it is a self-revelation and it tells people something fundamental about the person.
“The disclosure of person’s name is a prelude to building a relationship,” Chaw said, explaining that God revealing His name represents His desire to have a relationship with His people.
Chaw referred to Exodus 3:13-14 where God introduces Himself by saying, “I am who I am”. This represents the sustainable source and self-existence of God. In the Old Testament, God revealed Himself to His people through various names and titles. These names described who He is.
“God invites His people to know Him on an intimate level,” explained the pastor.
In Isaiah 9:6 it says, “And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”
“Wonderful is who He is!” declared Chaw. “It is His nature, it is His character and out of His wonderful being flow His workings and His doings.”
In Hebrew, the word “wonderful” is pele which means marvelous, miraculous and extraordinary.
Exodus 15:1 records the children of Israel’s miraculous deliverance from Egypt’s bondage. Moses and the children of Israel sang a song unto the Lord to praise Him for his wonderful works.
Being trapped by the circumstances, the children of Israel felt like there was no way out. However, God destroyed the Egyptian army and parted the Red Sea for His children. This revealed the wonderful nature of God and how marvelous, miraculous and extraordinary He is. His name reflects His character and nature.
“He is still delivering His people from impossible situations today because He was wonderful in the past, He is wonderful today, tomorrow He will still be wonderful,” declared Chaw, encouraging the church to walk with God and expect the extraordinary to happen.
Knowing God’s name isn’t all—Christians are also to bear the name of God. “We are called to glorify His name through our daily behavior and testimonies,” said Chaw.
Ezekiel 26:23 says, “And I will sanctify My great name, which has been profaned among the nations, which you have profaned in their midst; and the nations shall know that I am the Lord,” says the Lord God, “when I am hallowed in you before their eyes.”
“God’s name is hallowed in us because we bear God’s name,” said Chaw. “Our speech, our attitudes will lead others to make certain conclusions about our God.”
In closing, Chaw posed a question to the congregation: “What are you going to do with the name of God?” He closed with a final verse: Psalms 23:3—“He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.”
Chaw encouraged the congregation to walk with God. “He will lead His people into a path of righteousness and a path called ‘wonderful’ because His name is wonderful.”
FIXING BROKEN RELATIONSHIPS: EDMUND TAY
Bringing the congregation to the Great Commandment, Tay laid the foundation for a timely message on relationships on Sunday.
1 John 4:19 says, “We love Him because He first loved us.” This is a familiar verse, but it was the verses that follow was what Tay wanted to focus on.
In 1 John 4:20-21 it states, “If someone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen? And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also.” The Bible did not command the people of God to just love Him but to love His people as well, Tay said.
“God’s love is completely different from what we can understand,” Tay stated, urging the church to embrace God’s love. “There is nothing we can do to make God love us less or more.”
The pastor explained that the first calling God has for all believers is to be loved by Him. Reading from Hebrews 4:16, “Let us, therefore, come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Tay emphasized the importance of understanding this and being bold to come before God the Father.
After the Great Commandment comes the Great Commission: to love others as oneself. “But relationships are a very tricky thing,” noted Tay.
Humans tend to think that if the other party were a little more perfect or a little better in some way, that would make the relationship easier to handle.
“The problem lies with us,” Tay said as he highlighted the fact that Jesus was the perfect brother, but His household still struggled in their relationship with Jesus.
Even Jesus’ brothers did not believe in Him. They could not accept the fact that Jesus the carpenter, who they grew up with was now claiming to be the son of God. Jesus was the perfect brother but even his own siblings had problems believing in Him.
“Even when dealing with a perfect brother, we will still have problems,” said Tay.
Reading Philippians 1:3, he cautioned the church not take relationships for granted.
“He chose to focus on the positive aspects of them, he chose to focus on the good things,” Tay said of the relationship Paul had with the Philippian Church. Paul chose to be thankful for the Philippians.
Tay encouraged the church to always see the best in people. Despite the problems that they face, God can finish the good work that He started in them. “When we see the potential in people, it changes the way that we handle relationships,” he encouraged.
He concluded the church service with a moving testimony of a church member who led her estranged father to Christ, despite all the pain he had put her through.
Tay said, “When we embrace God’s love, it changes the way we want to do Christianity.”
The pastor ended the service but encouraging the people to reconcile broken relationships and release forgiveness to the people who have hurt them.