Last weekend (June 22 and 23) at City Harvest Church’s Jurong West campus Pastors Jeremy Choy and Bobby Chaw encouraged the church to draw near to God while at the Emerge Service on Sunday, Pastor Wu Yuzhuang encouraged the youths to win souls.
OF FAITH, HOPE AND LOVE
As he began his sermon, Pastor Jeremy Choy told with the congregation that God had given him two anchor verses for this year: 1 Thessalonian 1:3 and 1 Corinthians 13:13. Both center on the themes of faith, hope and love.
Reading from Genesis 22:1-19, Pastor Jeremy used the story of Abraham’s sacrifice of Isaac to explain what living a life of faith, hope and love means. The story started in Genesis 22:1, which began with “Now it came to pass after all these things“. The pastor explained that after all the years of trials, Abraham was now at a place of blessing, at peace with both his neighbors and his enemies. “But the deal is this,” Pastor Jeremy pointed out. “Never get too comfortable with God as He will come to you anytime and He will come to you at the time least expected.”
There is no one in the Bible who has received as many personal promises from God as Abraham did, but the Bible says in verse 1 that God was testing Abraham. “What is the difference being testing and temptation?” Pastor Jeremy asked. “God tests us; God does not tempt us. God’s testing in our life is meant to bring out the good inside of us. But temptations bring out the worst in us. But when God tests us, He is trying to get us to succeed, to become better. The one who tempts you is trying to get you to fail and fall. God, at times, does allow temptations, but He is not the one who tempts us.”
Genesis 22:2 highlights three things that God will always test in us:
• Faith. Pastor Jeremy said that the proof of whether you trust a person can be seen through your willingness to obey when they ask something from you. When God spoke to Abraham about the sacrifice, Abraham’s obedience and faith were unquestionable. That is why it says in the Bible that Abraham is the father of faith and he is the perfect example of a man who trusted God all the way.
• Hope. “What is your future anchored on?” asked Pastor Jeremy. “What gives meaning to your future? Is God in your future?” For Abraham, his hope was probably centered on the promised child, Isaac, because nearly all of God’s promises given to Abraham were related to him. But Abraham’s ultimate hope was not in Isaac: he believed that if Isaac could be conceived and born supernaturally, God could also bring him back supernaturally even if he was sacrificed.
“Abraham’s hope was in God—He was the anchor of his soul,” declared Pastor Jeremy. “Can we rest and surrender our lives and current circumstances and trust God for the future? Can you believe if God closes one door, He can open another better one?”
• Love. “What is love? What is the most precious object in your life? What takes priority in your life?” Abraham loved Isaac without a doubt—that would be the same for the parents of any child,” Pastor Jeremy asserted. He added that no one knows if God is first in their life until He puts the finger on the idol in their life and they start to get uncomfortable. Actions of love are always sacrificial: when God asked Abraham to “take now your son, the son you love”, Abraham passed all three tests of faith, hope and love.
Reading from Genesis 22:15, Pastor Jeremy noted that God was so excited about Abraham passing His test that He vowed on His own name.
“Why did God get so excited? Because in Abraham’s demonstration of his faith, hope and love, God saw His own image reflected in Abraham. God had been waiting all this time to see His image reflected in Man and now He saw a father willing to sacrifice his only son—just as He was a father prepared to sacrifice his only Son 2,000 years later.”
The pastor went on to say that every time a child of God responds in faith, hope and love, God is exceedingly pleased. “It is in the daily choices that we make that our faith, hope and love are tested. In making this decision, does our choice reflect the nature of God? In saying this or reacting in such a way, does it reflect the nature of God?”
Pastor Jeremy shared an example of faith, hope and love put into action that he witnessed on a mission trip recently at a CHC-affiliated church in Vietnam. Even though the church members lacked resources, their simple faith to obey God and to reach out to the young people reminded the pastor of the beginnings of City Harvest Church. Their hope in God was grounded in hard work—they knew their future was in God. Their love for the people resulted in various outreaches and good works that blessed the people around them.
In closing, Pastor Jeremy explained that Isaac’s actions were also an example of faith, hope and love. He could have easily fought his father’s attempt to sacrifice him. Instead, he was willing to follow God’s plan.
The ram that Abraham used in place of Isaac for the sacrifice bore significance. “Abraham had to turn around in order to see the ram,” he pointed out. “Similarly, we must turn around to see the Lamb of God in our lives. We have to repent to see what the Lamb of God did for us and we have to renew our mind in repentance.”
DRAW NEAR TO JEHOVAH
Continuing from his sermon last weekend, Pastor Bobby Chaw introduced another name of God that reveals His nature, and that name is “Jehovah”. Developed from the holy name YHWH, “Jehovah” appeared more than 650 times in the Bible, a name that resonates in the heart and mind of every Christian for generations.
To give insight to the name Jehovah, Pastor Bobby brought the congregation to Exodus 3 where God revealed Himself as Jehovah. It narrates Moses’ life and mission to deliver the children of Israel from slavery in Egypt. Faced with this daunting task, Moses asked the Lord as to what to say to the Israelites, “And God said, ‘I AM WHO I AM.’ And He said, ‘Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, I AM has sent me to you.'” (Exo 3:14)
There are four things a Christian can learn from the name “Jehovah:
• Jehovah is active in the present. God introduced Himself as “I AM” in the present tense. This signifies that God is actively communicating with His people all the time.
“Should the God of history be able to work in us at this moment? Can God move in us and through us just like how He moved in the Old Testament?” Pastor Bobby asked. The answer was yes; God is the same yesterday, today, and forever.
Jesus, when giving the Great Commission to His disciples, said, “I am with you always to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20). This promise still applies to the current generation of Christians. Pastor Bobby encouraged the congregation to not be afraid to do the work of God, for He is still able to move in this present age.
• Jehovah is the God of revelation. All throughout the Old Testament, the name Jehovah is used consistently in passages involving revelation, with these words: “Thus says the Lord.” (Jehovah)
“Jehovah, therefore, is a speaking God,” the pastor said. “He desires to reveal himself to His people personally, for in this way, Christians can know God on a deeply personal level.” But God, Pastor Bobby reminds, can only reveal himself if His people would seek Him. In the name Jehovah, God invites people to seek Him, for He will be found.
He shared the testimony of a CHC member, Angeline, whose mother came to church several times, but was not open to the Gospel. She has been suffering from back pain which caused numbness in her toes and muscle cramps. One day during service, her mother received a revelation from God, and she turned to her daughter and said, “God is able to heal sicknesses!” When Angeline prayed for her, the pain left her and she was totally healed. When the service ended, Angeline brought her mother to meet Pastor Bobby, and her mother decided to receive Christ as her Lord and Savior.
Testimonies like that of Angeline’s mother are living proof that God is still revealing Himself at this present age. When the people of God seek Him, He will reveal Himself to them. That is why Pastor Bobby urged the church to make seeking God the greatest pursuit in their lives.
• Jehovah is holy and righteous. Reading from Leviticus 19:2 and Psalms 11:7, Pastor Bobby taught, “If you want to approach God, you must be righteous and holy.”
People cannot simply enter into the presence of God because of their sinful nature. Pastor Bobby explained that the Word of God must be respected with high esteem: a sluggish disposition and character pushes God away.
Yet this standard is too high for people to attain, and it leads people to live a legalistic life. That is why Christians also need to understand another attribute of the name Jehovah that is as equally important.
• Jehovah is merciful and gracious. While the standard to be holy and righteous is too difficult to attain, the name Jehovah also implies a loving Father who is willing to draw His people near despite their having a sinful nature. Exodus 34:6 reads, “The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness…”
God has shown His people that His love is an everlasting love. Moses realized this and saw the miracle of God’s love in Exodus 20:18-21. When God was showing His glory through thunder, lightning, the sound of the trumpet and the mountain smoking, the people were afraid and ran away from Moses. But Moses knew God’s love for his people and was not afraid. When everyone retreated, “Moses drew near to the thick darkness where God was.” (Exo 20:21)
For 40 years, Moses was afraid because he had killed someone. He thought that God had forsaken him. But when he encountered God at the burning bush, he had a fresh revelation of Jehovah: he saw how merciful and gracious God is.
Pastor Bobby quoted AW Tozer, “To fear, and not be afraid—that is the paradox of faith.”
This very tension of fearing God and not being afraid is the essence of having faith. “The holiness of God invokes fear that makes us run away, but God is drawing near to you, calling out to you, because He is merciful and gracious.”
SHARE THE GOSPEL
John 6:38 reads, “For I have come down from heaven not to do My will but to do the will of Him Who sent me.”
Reading this verse, Pastor Wu Yuzhuang, the pastor who oversees CHC’s youth movement, Emerge, noted that Jesus came to do the will of God the Father who sent Him. What was the mission that God has for Jesus? Luke 4:18-19 tells its readers that Jesus’ mission was to preach the Gospel.
Jesus was very clear about His mission. He said in Luke 19:10 that He was to be the Savior of the world. For three years, Jesus preached the Gospel of the Kingdom, taught the values of the Kingdom, healed the sick, and delivered those who were oppressed. At the end of His ministry, He went to the Cross to die for all sinners.
In Matthew 9:35-38, Jesus told his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the laborers are few.” Pastor Zhuang pointed out that the problem is always the lack of workers, not the lack of harvest.
“Jesus says, ‘This mission that was given to Me, I have given to you also!’ This mission is none other than winning souls,” the pastor said. Yet this mission is impossible to do without God. “Without God, we cannot. Without us, God will not.”
With this, the pastor introduced the “ABCD” of soul-winning.
• Action. The Bible says that Jesus preached, taught, healed, and set the people free. All these are action words, the pastor noted. “One action is more powerful than 10, 000 intentions,” he said, encouraging the youths to make a plan for to take action.
• Boldness. Pastor Zhuang gave the example of Peter’s and Paul’s boldness to share the Gospel in Acts 28:31. He challenged all the youths to have the same kind of boldness for Jesus—to not be ashamed but to be confident to share about Jesus.
“We have the answers for human eternity; we have the answers for the world’s greatest problem,” he declared. “If you had a cure for AIDs, do you think the AIDs patients would want you to share it with them?”
“Imagine you are talking, laughing, hanging out with them. You know that they are dying (spiritually) and you have the cure! But because you are afraid that they will reject you, you choose not to share it with them. You are given a life-saving message, be bold to share it!”
• Compassion. Matthew 9:36 says that Jesus had compassion for the people. Every mission to win the lost must flow out of compassion, the pastor said. The number one reason why most Christians do not share the Gospel is because they are too preoccupied.
Jesus says in John 4:35 to “Lift up your eyes…” The pastor said, “Sometimes, we are so busy with what we need to do that we don’t have time to lift our eyes to look at the world. But compassion brings you out of apathy and self-centeredness.”
• Determination. “If winning the lost is our mission in life, then we really need to make it our priority and be determined to fulfill it!” challenged Pastor Zhuang.
He said that there are many things that can stop the youths from fulfilling God’s purpose and mission, such as their recreations, their fears, or laziness. But a Christian’s mission is to share the Gospel and they must have the determination to fulfill their task.
Mark 6:31-34 showed how Jesus and His disciples had no time to rest or to eat during their ministry and they were tired. Yet Jesus was determined to share the Gospel.
Determination requires the “I must” attitude. The pastor encouraged the youths to not give up even when the people they are reaching out to, reply negatively.
At the end of the service, Pastor Zhuang gave out tiny LED finger torches. “Many times when I ask people why they don’t share the Gospel, they tell me they don’t feel led to. But every time you think like that, I want you to look at this LED light. If you read the letters, they spell ‘led’,” he said.
“Be reminded that you are already the light of the world. So be led by the Holy Spirit and shine brightly wherever you are, just like this LED light.”