Responding to God, trusting in Him and persevering in studying the Word of God. These themes were explored in three messages by three pastors on the weekend of multiple services that occurred on Jun 23 and 24.
HOW YOU SHOULD RESPOND TO THE WORD: BOBBY CHAW
In his previous message, City Harvest executive pastor Bobby Chaw spoke of how the children of Israel started grumbling in the wilderness and God judged them in anger. He taught that to conquer the temptation to grumble, Christians need to have faith. Faith comes by hearing the Word of God (Rom 10:17).
In the first service of the weekend, Chaw elaborated on the topic of hearing the Word of God. He taught that in the three and a half years that the disciples journeyed with Jesus, Jesus often had meals with them. Each meal became a lesson on life and ministry to prepare the disciples for their journey of life.
Luke 5:27-32 recorded the first meal. Jesus and His disciples were at a feast at the home of Levi, the tax collector. The Pharisees and scribes complained that Jesus was eating with sinners.
Chaw noted, “Verse 27 started with the words ‘after these things‘’, so what were the events that preceded this?”
The pastor named two: firstly, Jesus called His disciples. Luke 5 began with Jesus telling Simon Peter and his friends to ‘launch into the deep for a catch.” Upon doing what Jesus instructed, Simon Peter fell at Jesus’ knee with fear and trembling, but Jesus told him not to be afraid (Luke 5:8, 10)
“Like Peter, we feel that we are sinners with many imperfections,” Chaw said. “But Jesus is telling us, do not be afraid. When Jesus, [Who is] the Word of God, calls out to us, how should we respond? Do not be afraid!”
The second event was a leper coming to Jesus (Luke 5:12-14). He said to Jesus, “If you are willing, make me clean.” And Jesus healed him.
“Jesus is saying to you ‘I am willing’,” preached Chaw. “No matter how ‘dirty’ you are, Jesus will never reject you,” Chaw said. “When the Word calls out to you, do not be afraid. Know that Jesus is always willing.”
What is the message for Christians in Luke 5?
“When the Word of God calls us, corrects us, how should we respond?” asked Chaw. “With repentance! We must be willing to leave behind the previous lifestyle and follow Jesus.”
Discipleship begins with repentance. The original Greek word for repentance means “a change of mind”. Chaw taught that Christians must be willing to change and align their mind with that of Jesus.
“People are afraid of changes: it cripples us and keep us from reaching the God-given potential,” Chaw said. “But if you are unwilling to change, you will never grow.”
Two things happen when one repents, taught Chaw. Acts 2:38 says the grace of the Holy Spirit will come and Proverbs 1:23 says that God will pour out His revelation and guidance when His people repent.
THE IMPORTANCE OF “HALF-TIME”: ARIES ZULKARNAIN
Aries Zulkarnain, executive pastor at CHC, started the service by recapping what Paul Scanlon, leadership trainer and founder of Life Church UK preached the previous weekend. He shared how fruitfulness should always precede deliverance. Following deliverance, breakthrough and promotion will come.
Half-time is the interval during a sporting match. Zulkarnain shared that half-time is crucial both for the winning team and the losing team. For the winning team, it is a time to recuperate, recharge and renew. However, it is more significant for the losing team as it is a time for regrouping and strategizing to mount a comeback.
“We are in June now,” noted Zulkarnain, adding encouragingly. “It’s halftime and if you don’t lose hope and you don’t lose concentration, you can still win the game.”
Throughout his life, Abraham overcame many problems and circumstances and eventually received the promises of God. Zulkarnain cited Abraham’s story as a story of faith.
Romans 4:20 says, “He did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God.”
To Christians, Abraham is the father of many nations. Yet the Bible does not specifically mention the different situations and circumstances that Abraham had to go through.
“Sometimes for you to attain the promise of God in your life, you need to put your faith on the line. There is always a story behind the glory. You must be willing to stick to the story,” preached Zulkarnain, adding that God will always write good stories for their lives and end their stories on a note of “happily ever after”.
What did Abraham do to achieve the promises of God in his life? Firstly, he focused his hope on God. There were many times he could not see the promises happening, yet Abraham decided to live believing what God said instead of looking at his circumstances.
“Our hope is based on God’s nature and His word,” Zulkarnain reminded the people. “His word will always come to pass. He will never lie! That is why Abraham changed from focusing on his own condition to focusing on God’s nature, because when you focus on God’s nature, you are standing on solid ground.”
Secondly, Abraham glorified God in every circumstance. He moved from feelings to commitment. It is important to get rid of negative feelings because they can drain away the faith of an individual. Romans 4:20 says, “He did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God.”
“You can strengthen your faith by outweighing the negative. Add weight to God’s promises!” preached Zulkarnain. He encouraged the congregation to do so through praise and thanksgiving.
Thirdly, Abraham stood firm on God’s promises. Romans 4:21 says that Abraham was “fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform.”
Abraham believed there was a miracle waiting for him at half-time. “As long as you don’t give up at half-time, there will be a miracle coming up,” said the pastor.
“The fortitude to finish is as important as the faith to begin,” Zulkarnain concluded. It is important to continue pressing on for the miracle that waits at the end of a half-time.
CHRISTIAN PERSEVERANCE: JIMMY SNG
Jimmy Sng, a pastor of City Harvest Church, preached a powerful message—peppered with humor—on perseverance in the journey of faith.
Hebrews 6: 1-2 says that the elementary principles of Christ are repentance from dead works, faith toward God, the doctrine of baptisms, of laying of hands, of the resurrection of the dead and of eternal judgment.
Not many followers of Christ are knowledgeable on these Bible teachings. But the writer of the book of Hebrews said that these are elementary. In other words, these are foundational and basic, and Christians are supposed to go beyond these, “to perfection”.
Going on to perfection is never fast or easy, preached Sng. The Bible says that Christians must endure until the end.
“We need to persevere in reading, studying and meditating the Word of God,” Sng added.
At the start of the year, people are always motivated to change a habit and to learn new things. Yet most normal people tend to slack off after just a few weeks.
“This is where the attitude of consistency comes in—the behavior of doing the same things repeatedly without seeing much result,” described the pastor. “That is perseverance.”
There are four phases that Sng shared concerning the journey on to perfection. The first phase is enthusiasm—that is the initial burst of energy a person gets when they receive something new.
The second phase is what Sng called the grind. It is where energy starts seeping away, when a person keeps grinding and yet fails to see much result.
The third phase is the drag. This is where even getting out of bed becomes difficult and it seems like there is no more passion in doing that thing that was once new. “When the thought of going to the gym makes you tired,” was Sng’s practical illustration.
The last phase is the realization. This is when the person comes back to himself and ask, “Why did I even start to do this?” The answered is found in the heart. When the person answers positively and truthfully, it may cause him to persevere in what he is doing.
“Devoting ourselves to the Word of God is a lifelong journey,” said Sng. “We have to persevere in digging deeper into the knowledge of Christ. Our walk in our Christian lives must be rooted in the Bible.”