On the Father’s Weekend, three pastors shared timely messages that encouraged the church to know God as their Father, to trust in Him and to pray.
On the Father’s Day weekend, City Harvest Church held services back at its Jurong West premise. On June 15 and 16, Pastor Lin Junxian and Executive Pastor Bobby Chaw delivered timely messages to encourage fathers while at the Emerge service on Sunday, Pastor Wu Yuzhuang encouraged the church’s youths to grow through prayer.
To honor the fathers in the house, CHC’s Drama Ministry presented a funny video on four types of modern-day fathers—no matter what sort one has, whether the “Grunter” or the “Superhero”, fathers are a gift from God. The video had the members in stitches.
GOD, OUR HEAVENLY FATHER: LIN JUNXIAN
The sermon at the first service began with a prayer by Pastor Lin Junxian to thank God for all the fathers in the members’ lives. It led to his sharing on God, every believer’s Heavenly Father.
“One of the greatest revelations in the Bible is the revelation of the fatherhood of God,” said Pastor Junxian. “It’s the greatest truth in the universe: an Almighty God who is a perfect and loving Father to us.”
Reading John 14:7, Pastor Junxian noted that Jesus came to reveal the Father by living a life as a Son before God the Father. In fact, that was the thing that intrigued the disciples when they were living with Jesus–the fact that He came as a Son before God the Father!
“If you want to be a father in the faith, first you must learn how to be a son in the faith’” urged the pastor. As the Son of God, Jesus clearly demonstrated to all the people that all the scoffing and sufferings he went through from the beginning of his birth to his death on the cross, God is nevertheless a perfect and loving Father.
In Luke 4:18-19, it was obvious that Jesus came to bring God’s Kingdom and Heaven down to earth so mankind can experience it. However, these are secondary to the primary mission of what Jesus was wanting to do to reveal his earthly mission. It was about Who He wanted to reveal to mankind: the Father in Heaven (John 14:9-11).
Giving an example of how much a father is interested in and wants to get into his child’s world, Pastor Junxian shared that he spent time and played with his two daughters by listening to K-pop songs, watching Night Owl Cinematics’ YouTube videos and doing many other activities together. Likewise, God the Father is interested in everybody’s world.
The Pastor went on to share more examples from the Bible that offered the right view of a relationship with God the Father. Once this right relationship with God the Father was established, people could have a right relationship with their earthly fathers.
The blind Bartimaeus was crying out for the healing of his eyes in Luke 18. In this story, the miracle is not in the healing itself. The miracle was the revelation that God the Father was willing and when it was within His ability to heal.
When Jesus fed the multitude, Jesus showed His willingness to provide within his ability to the multitude, revealing who God the Father is.
Jesus did not start a religious debate when he was confronted with the woman caught in adultery. He was there like any other father who would have protected his daughter and restored her. Again, it revealed who God the Father is.
“Some of us may have gone through a terrible childhood—God is still a perfect and loving Father. He’s crazy about you. He’s fiercely in love with us,” affirmed Pastor Junxian. “Knowing this, we are able to rest secure in His love and allow ourselves to be thrown in His love without any hesitation.”
What, then, is the definition of a father?
The original Hebrew word for Father is “Av”. It is made up of two Hebrew characters and it depicts a strong leader, a protector, as well as a house or tent. When they are combined to form “Av”, a picture of a father emerges.
A father is a strong leader and protector of the house. Pastor Junxian elaborated, “If we say God is our Father, we are saying He is our strength, a strong leader and protector of the house! And God will renew our minds so that we can understand this.”
He used Paul as an example. In Acts 9, the apostle Paul’s spiritual experience with God was so deep and God’s love was poured out so deeply into his heart that he was totally transformed.
“As we imitate Christ, we become like Christ—we can then ‘make manifest His Name’ as a perfect and loving Fathe,” exhorted the pastor. “We will no longer talk, act or look like the world, but like our Father.”
“Fathers, you may ask what if you don’t have an example or a model in life? You are the son of the Most High God. You have a Father who is a model. You can look up to Him. If you want to be a good father, you must first learn how to be a good son. As disciples of Christ, we are to be like Him. We need to live our lives as sons before God our Heavenly Father.”
GOD, EL SHADDAI: BOBBY CHAW
At the next service, Pastor Bobby encouraged fathers to trust in the Lord. He started by explaining that the Bible sets the standard for fathers: they are the leaders and providers of the house. Hence, they need to have decisiveness, consistency, and strength. This, he acknowledged, places huge pressure on fathers and they often feel like they are failing at their task.
“I want to encourage fathers not to be afraid because God is for us!” Pastor Bobby then pointed out that the most frequent command in the Bible is “do not be afraid”, which appears more than 300 times. The pastor explained that this is so because faith and courage are rooted in the nature of God. He then urged the congregation to have a revelation of the Lord’s unchanging nature—and such a revelation can be found in the names of the Lord.
“One of the names I will share today is El Shaddai,” said Pastor Bobby who then went on to state that the words El Shaddai first appeared in the story of Abraham. The pastor preached that Abraham had left the familiarity and stepped in the unknown with just the promise that he will be the “father of many nations.” (Gen 13:16) But Abraham’s journey was problematic because Sarai was barren and he was without child.
“For many years there were no signs of fulfillment, so he faced pressure!” Pastor Bobby noted, bringing the congregation through Genesis 15:1-3 and 5 to show that every time God’s promise is delayed, He would affirm Abraham not to be afraid. The pastor then highlighted how the delay instead led to a disaster when Sarai became desperate and got Abraham to bear a child with Hagar, her maid.
What are we to do when God’s promises are delayed?
In Genesis 17:1-2, God declared that He is El Shaddai, which means “I am Almighty God”. In verse 3, God said, “as for Me, behold, my covenant”. The pastor explained that God is saying that He is independent of circumstances. As soon as Abram heard God saying that, he fell on his face and acknowledged Him as El Shaddai. “We must do the same, to worship God and acknowledge Him as El Shaddai,” Pastor Bobby said.
“El Shaddai has a Hebrew root word which is shada. It means ‘to overpower or to destroy’,” said Pastor Bobby. This means that God is almighty and can go against the laws of nature. He reminded the fathers that God is El Shaddai, God Almighty, and they need to learn to trust Him and not be afraid.
“The second root word of El Shaddai is shad, which means ‘breast’ or ‘bosom’,” he continued, explaining that “shad” means to nourish, supply and satisfy.
Reading Philippians 4:19, the pastor noted that Paul was in prison, facing a death sentence when he wrote this. Yet, he was able to encourage the Philippians saying, God “shall supply all your needs according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.”
“This is within God’s nature to be El Shaddai–to nourish, supply and satisfy. He will supply your needs according to His nature, He is not limited to the circumstances,” the pastor said.
“I want to encourage you: do not be afraid. How to respond? Trust and surrender. Do not fit God in our natural condition. To experience God as our sufficiency, we must surrender to Him.”
Pastor Bobby then ended off his sermon by sharing a testimony. As the dean of CHC’s School of Theology, he was facing the decision of closing the school a few years back. Because of a court trial that the church was going through, enrolment was not high and the church had limited resources. “But then I told the SOT staff to fall on their faces and pray and trust God,” recalled the pastor.
“But God is great! SOT didn’t shut down, and we still gave out scholarships every year,” said Pastor Bobby. He then highlighted that El Shaddai is indeed able to compel what is dead in nature to come back to life.
GROWING THROUGH PRAYER: WU YUZHUANG
At the Emerge service at noon on Sunday, Pastor Zhuang encouraged the youth of CHC to grow through prayer. Emerge is CHC’s movement for youths aged 25 and under.
“Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain; and it did not rain on the land for three years and six months,” reads James 5:17. Reading this verse, Pastor Zhuang noted that Elijah is an ordinary man but he only took one day to change the whole nation.
The thing that made Elijah special was his prayer. “If Elijah can impact his nation through prayer, so can you,” said the pastor.
Dr Elmer L Towns, the writer of The Ten Greatest Revivals Ever: From Pentecost To Present, defined revival as the power of God sprung up in several places at the same time. The results are repentance of sin, renewal of people’s love to God, recommitting themselves to God’s purpose, investing extended time in prayer, communion with God, meditation, and experiencing blessing in Christian service.
Pastor Zhuang gave examples of revival happening because a group of people chose to pray. One of the greatest revival, the 1904 Revival was started when Evan Roberts and 15 other people started to pray. The great Pyongyang Revival in 1907 was started when several people gathered to study the Bible. David Yonggi Cho, founder of the world largest church, Yoido Full Gospel Church, also has the habit of praying every morning at 4am. In 1972, he initiated the YFGC overnight prayer meeting that goes from 11 pm to 7 am. As a result, the number of believers in Korea has increased by more than 30 percent since 1900.
Pastor Zhuang taught that there are three things that will happen when a person prays.
One, prayer opens the door for the Holy Spirit. Luke 3:22 shows that when Jesus prayed, the Holy Spirit came. During Pentecost in Acts 29, the disciples waited and prayed for Holy Spirit to come. In the early church, when the disciples were persecuted, they prayed even more (Acts 4:31). As a result, the disciples shared the gospel with boldness.
Two, prayer is the key to fruitfulness. “My little children, for whom I labor in birth again until Christ is formed in you,” reads Galatians 4:19. When a mother is about to give birth, she will groan in pain. Romans mention three different types of groaning, one of which is the groaning of the Holy Spirit.
“This is how you birth forth the visions and dreams that God gave you. Groan until your prayer is answered,” he explained. Just like it takes nine months for a baby to be fully formed in the womb, there is no shortcut to fulfilling the visions God gave.
Pastor Zhuang gave an example about one of his cell group leader, Shawn Goh. Shawn prayed for a breakthrough in his cell group for two years. This year Easter service, he and his cell group prayed desperately for souls, conducted outreach programs and held weekly prayer meetings. As a result, they brought 39 friends to Easter service and 17 of them received salvation.
Three, prayer changes the course of history. Prayer is the key to revival. Earnest prayer will bring tremendous power (James 5:17). The children of Israel wander in the wilderness for 40 years. At one point, God sent fresh manna from heaven every day. However, they got tired of manna and they prayed. God then sent quails for them (Number 11:31-32).
It is said that the quails were so many, that it took one whole day to walk from one end of where the quails fell to where they stopped falling. The range is around 50 miles (80 km). In comparison, the distance from Changi Airport to Tuas Link is only 50km, Pastor Zhuang pointed out.
“Can you imagine? What if we have souls like those quails?” asked Pastor Zhuang, underscoring that coming to God in prayer every single day brings revival.
Pastor Zhuang closed the session with “Vision 2020”: for CHC to have 2020 youths by the year 2020. “It is not by might, not by power, but by the Spirit of the Lord,” he quoted Zechariah 4:6. He challenged the congregation to spend at least 20 minutes every day praying and to be ready for revival.