City Harvest Church members have been following the path that Jesus took towards the Cross through a 40-day Bible-reading program. City News spoke to some of them, as well as the pastors who wrote the devotions, on the revelations they received this Lent.
As Easter draws near, City Harvest Church members are also edging towards the end of their Bible-reading program. Titled “Lent 2020/In The Sandals Of Christ”, the 40-day Bible-reading program is part of the first Lent observance CHC is embarking on corporately. It guides readers through the journey Jesus took before He went to the Cross on Good Friday.
“Without much experience of what it meant to observe Lent, I embarked on this Bible-reading plan with the rest of the church with a more logical mindset towards it: to understand the journey that Jesus took, right up to the first Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday over 2,000 years ago,” Michelle Heng, 31, tells City News.
“However, as each day brought not just chapters to read, but devotions to examine and meditate over, the words I was reading daily had an impact on my walk with the Lord. Without the corporate atmosphere of gathering in Suntec Singapore for our weekly worship services, it was clearer than ever that our personal spiritual growth is of utmost importance. Beyond the physical needs of being fed while working from home, we also have to take intentional steps to nurture, not neglect our daily (spiritual) bread.”
The program is hosted on The CHC App, which allows the reader to track his reading progress. There are also daily devotionals written by the pastors of CHC which help readers to study the Bible more meaningfully. Some of the topics include “Jesus Predicated His Death”, “The Lord’s Supper”, “The Suffering of Jesus”, “The Resurrection” and “The Commission”. At the end of the program, readers will have a deeper understanding of who Jesus is, and what He did to make eternal, abundant life possible for His believers.
Michelle reported that the devotions gave her “greater insight into the thought life of Jesus and the culture of His time. I was especially blessed by the daily devotion on Day 21 titled ‘Old Self’. God reminded me that I am loved even when I feel anything but; and He established that guilt did not have any place in my life. The prayers that I made to the Lord with the help of these devotions had more significance as I learned to reflect upon my own life. I am so thankful for this season, that I can slow down and calibrate my life, and I pray that I will continue to experience God as I reflect and meditate on His Word and His goodness.”
Irene Koh, 54, shared that, “I enjoy reading about Jesus. It makes me fall in love with Him. The Lent Bible-reading program helps me understand the love of Jesus towards me: His sacrifice, His kindness, His faithfulness, His calmness, His peace, His love.”
Irene had an encounter during this program: “I remember while I was doing one of the readings, around the seventh day, the peace of God came upon me as I was reading and immediately a prayer of praise filled my heart. There is joy and peace knowing the truth about how much Jesus loves me. I can be set free from any fear, bondage, and sin. I am a new creation in Christ Jesus. I want to encourage everyone to take up the program. It is never too late. Reading the Bible allows us to have an encounter of His deepest love for you.”
Isabel Tai, 27, also benefitted from the daily devotions. “When I read the Bible myself, I tend to read and understand from one or two perspectives. But with the daily devotions, I realized that there is so much more to learn from each chapter of the Bible! As I read the pastors share different perspectives on a topic, some of which I have never thought of, I find myself seeing things from a different perspective, and gaining a deeper understanding of Scripture. For example, in my reading of Luke 19:28-38, I usually focused on what Jesus did but overlooked the unnamed disciples. With the devotions, I saw that God uses ordinary people to do extraordinary works, so we should never despise what we are doing.
“These daily devotions were like my ‘teachers’ guiding me to understand better. It feels as though I am ‘hearing’ daily sermon messages by our pastors! I love them and am thankful to the pastoral team for feeding us well with these devotions.”
Cephas Lim, 25, liked the idea of lining up the Scriptures, not only in chronological order of events leading up to Resurrection Sunday but also paced in a manner where each Gospel’s account of the event falls into one day’s Bible-reading. “That really encouraged me to dig deeper, either by looking at online commentaries or reading the daily devotions. Having to read about the same events four days from the different accounts spurred me to ponder on the verse, to truly grasp the essence of it,” he said.
“I appreciate the pastors’ efforts in preparing the daily devotions. They offer personal revelations that may even come across as very private breakthroughs for them. I really appreciate that the pastors are so open and transparent in their sharing. A particular daily devotion that stood out was the one on the Suffering of Jesus (Isa 53:1-12). I liked how that devotion reinforced the sacrifices that Jesus made for us even to the point of total abandonment by God the Father and the hope we can have in Him. This gave me a better understanding of the extent of Jesus’s suffering; the spiritual abandonment was far more excruciating than all the brutal physical torture he had to endure.”
WRITING THE DEVOTIONS
To prepare the devotions was no easy feat. Pastor Lee Yilun told City News that she spent 12 hours reading, researching and collating all the information when she was writing the first of three devotions.
“Because communion is something that we do monthly, so I felt that I wanted to prepare something fresh for the members. That’s why I talk about Jesus being the Passover Lamb and I shared about the Passover. I gave the members a little bit of the Jewish context and all that. I had to read up a few commentaries and academic journals to come out with devotion,” she said.
But the hard work paid off when these pastors receive that revelation from God, before writing it into devotions.
“I wrote the devotions on the trial of Jesus and when I was preparing, I felt the unconditional love Jesus had for us again,” said Pastor Sun Aizhen. “What Jesus faced was so unfair but He chose to be silent. He went through all that because of all our human sins. Once again, my mind and spirit were renewed by the verses. I really appreciate what Jesus has done for me and I treasure it. And the best way to live this God-given life is to live it fully for Him. I pray that my life will be a good testimony to others and be like Him; every single thought and actions have to honor Him.”
Pastor Edmund Tay chose to write the devotions on The Commission because it resonated with what he was passionate about. “I was given three options and I chose that because I have a passion for evangelism; passion for reaching out. Evangelism is not just about doing good deeds, but it goes beyond that. It’s about partnering with the Holy Spirit to do signs and wonders,” he shared.
“That is the part that we all find difficult. Because to do that, we cannot depend on our wisdom or intelligence; we have to depend on our divine partnership with God and we have to work together with Him. And just because we failed at it once or twice or 100 times, it doesn’t mean that it is not God’s will for us. There is still a standard that we need to reach for. And that is the divine supernatural partnership with the Holy Spirit.”
The last instalment of “In The Sandals Of Jesus” Bible-reading plan is tomorrow (April 11), but will continue to be available on The CHC App if you haven’t, but would like to embark on a meaningful study of Jesus’ journey to the Cross.