Following his sermon on having a desire to seek the rule of God, City Harvest Church’s executive pastor, Bobby Chaw, taught the church how to respond to Jesus when He calls.
On the weekend of May 1 and 2, City Harvest Church’s executive pastor, Bobby Chaw opened his sermon with Luke 5:1 where the multitudes have gathered to listen to Jesus. They recognised the power and authority in the words of Jesus and were amazed. Reading Hebrews 4:12, Pastor Bobby taught that the Word of God is living and powerful. He urged the church to respond to Jesus when they hear His voice, and to allow His word to transform them.
In Luke 5:2-11, when Jesus was done teaching, He turned to Simon and told him to “let down your nets for a catch”. The story ends with Simon and his fellow fishermen leaving their livelihoods to follow Jesus.
Pastor Bobby noted that Jesus was initially speaking to the multitudes, but at one point, He turned his focus to specific individuals. “Responding to the call of Jesus is a personal decision,” he explained. “No one can make this decision for you—not your parents, your spouse, or your Christian leaders. Every person has to experience Jesus for himself or herself. You must make a personal decision to follow Jesus.”
Another thing that Pastor Bobby noted from this passage is that Simon had no objection when Jesus asked to borrow his boat. But when Jesus told him to let down his nets for a catch, Simon began to object.
“This is the way many people respond to Jesus,” the pastor said. “Most people have no problems going to church to hear Jesus’ teachings. They may even be willing to share their time and resources to support Christian causes. But to let Jesus into their lives to interfere with their work, their personal space—that is a whole different matter.”
Yet Jesus is calling every individual to forsake their old lives and follow Him, to learn to obey His word and love Him unreservedly.
Simon eventually obeyed Jesus and caught two boatfuls of fish. His response to this miracle was to say to Jesus, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!” (Lk 5:11). Pastor Bobby explained that the word “Lord” in Greek is kyrios which means the one who is supreme in authority. Simon had the revelation that Jesus is the Possessor and Controller of the whole universe and he felt his own sinfulness in Jesus’ holy presence.
However, if a Christian wants to follow Jesus, there must first be a forsaking. Pastor Bobby shared two things that one must forsake in order to follow Jesus.
FIRST, WE MUST RENOUNCE SIN
To renounce sin is to repent—to have an inward change of mind and attitude, turning away from every wrong word, deed and habit.
“You have to make up your mind. No more excuses for sins, no more compromises. It’s a radical change of mind and attitude towards sin—and an outward change in behaviour will follow,” the pastor urged.
In Matthew 18:9, when Jesus said to pluck out one’s eye it caused him to sin, He was referring to the person’s attitude towards unrighteousness. “We must be ruthless. We must renounce sin immediately.”
In Luke 17:32, Jesus told His disciples to “remember Lot’s wife”. God had sent His angel to warn Lot and his family about the destruction that is coming upon Sodom. The angel told them to escape for their lives and not look back or they would be destroyed.
“Did Lot’s wife hear the word of the Lord? Yes, that’s why she was running. Did she want to do that? Yes. But Lot’s wife could not give up or let go of the life in Sodom. She missed those moments of pleasure and gratification of the flesh. So she looked back and became a pillar of salt,” Pastor Bobby related.
At this point, the pastor asked the congregation to reflect on their own attitude towards unclean thoughts and desires. “When the Holy Spirit convicts your heart of wrongdoings, do you keep finding excuses to justify yourself?”
He urged the church to repent when they hear the voice of God.
SECOND, WE MUST RENOUNCE SELF
In Luke 9:23, Jesus told His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.”
“To follow Jesus means forgetting and giving up your right to live life your way,” Pastor Bobby explained. “You have to give up insisting on your own perspective, prospects and pride.”
That also means that Jesus will always have the final say in every thought, every decision, and affection a person has. Sharing his own experience, the pastor said that all he wanted to do in ministry was to teach and preach the Word of God. By nature, he is a gentle person who hates confrontation, but when CHC went through a period of court trials, Pastor Bobby found himself in a position to deal with conflicts and crises.
“Each day, I would come before the Lord and pray, telling Jesus, ‘You know my weaknesses and strength. But this life that I live, it’s not I who live; Jesus, please live in me. Whatever You want Lord, I will do. Please help me to follow You,’” he related.
The word “deny” used in Luke 9:23 is the same word used when Simon Peter denied Jesus three times (Lk 22:34). “Peter was supposed to deny, forget and give up himself to follow Jesus. But when he was faced with temptation and suffering, he gave Jesus up instead,” the pastor said.
“What about you?” he continued. “Do you forget Jesus when you’re going through a crisis?”
Acknowledging that the denying of self is hard to do, Pastor Bobby suggested that the reason Simon told Jesus to depart from Him was that he knew that he would not be able to meet Jesus’ expectations. However, Jesus’ response to Peter was, “Do not be afraid.” (Lk 5:10).
“You see, with men, it may be impossible, but with God, all things are possible. As long as you say, ‘Yes, Lord, I am willing to follow You’,” the pastor encouraged. “It is never of ourselves; it is by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone. You are His workmanship, His creation. Therefore, do not be afraid.”
After following Jesus for three years, Simon began to understand what it meant to not be afraid. He went back to fishing after Jesus died on the Cross and again he caught nothing. In His resurrected body, Jesus told Simon to cast his net on the other side of the boat. When Simon realised that the Man who spoke was Jesus, he jumped into the sea and swam to Jesus—this behaviour was a stark contrast from his first encounter with Jesus.
In closing, Pastor Bobby encouraged the church to not be afraid of the presence of God, but to make the decision to renounce sin and deny themselves, and follow Jesus.
Starting May 1-2, CHC returned to online-only services for three weeks following a spike in COVID-19 cases in the community, including a CHC member who tested positive for COVID on April 28.