Last weekend, guest minister Jeffrey Rachmat encouraged the congregation with an important reminder on becoming good stewards of everything God has placed in their hands.
Last weekend, on 25 and 26 February, City Harvest Church welcomed Jeffrey Rachmat, founder and senior pastor of Jakarta Praise Community Church, to its pulpit. Apart from preaching at the English services, he also delivered a message at the Indonesian service on Sunday afternoon. A longtime friend of the church, Pastor Jeffrey has preached many times at CHC.
He opened his sermon with Romans 3:23 (NLT), which reads: “For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.” He explained that many people have become so satisfied with the standard of this world that they have lost sight of God’s standard and quality of life.
He named a few standards of God that differ from those of the world: the world’s love is full of conditions, but God’s love is unconditional. In the world, “kings and great men lord it over their people”, but for believers, “the leader should be like a servant” (Lk 22:25-26, NLT). When it comes to marriage, the world believes that a couple can end a marriage once the feeling of love ceases to exist, but to God, marriage is a covenant relationship that should not be broken. Marriage is a blueprint of the relationship between God and His church.
Although everyone falls short of God’s glorious standard, Pastor Jeffrey reminded the congregation that when believers are born again, they are reconnected with God, and have access to that standard.
“But to achieve God’s standard, you need to renew your mind,” he preached. “The Holy Spirit is here to help you achieve this standard of life.” He added that bringing God’s standard into this world is what it means to be salt and light in the world.
STEWARDSHIP: GOD’S INITIAL STANDARD
Pastor Jeffrey took the church back to Genesis, which reveals God’s original plan for this world: the order He established for the Earth to function, His relationship with mankind and the principles of life that He introduced to Adam before the Fall.
As he studied the first three chapters of Genesis, Pastor Jeffrey found a few interesting truths. One was, “God was the one who introduced sleep to Adam.” Before God put Adam into a deep sleep, all Adam knew to do was to work. While Adam slept, God got to work and created a companion for him.
“When Adam was working, God was silent. He fully trusted in Adam’s ability in doing what God has asked him to do,” the pastor continued, adding that it was God’s plan to work together with Man right from the beginning. There is a time for Man to work, and there is a time for him to rest so that God can do what he cannot.
In Mark 4:26-27, Jesus taught this principle in the form of a parable: a man would scatter seeds in the day and while he sleeps, the seeds will sprout and grow. “But you need to know that if you don’t scatter seeds during the day then you don’t give God something to work on during the night,” Pastor Jeffrey pointed out.
In Genesis 2:8-9 (ESV), God placed Adam in the garden of Eden, where God “made to spring up every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food”. In V15, “The LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it.” In other words, Adam was made a steward of God’s garden.
According to the dictionary, stewardship means the careful and responsible management of something entrusted to one’s care. In other words, the things of this world do not belong to mankind—they are simply given the task of managing what belongs to God.
“Stewardship was introduced before sin entered the world,” Pastor Jeffrey said. “If Adam had not fallen into sin, he would have still needed to steward. Stewardship is not a product of sin. But if it is done incorrectly, it can lead to sin.”
Going back to Genesis 2:15 (ESV), the pastor noted that God gave Adam the responsibility not just to keep the garden, but also to work it. To keep the garden is to maintain it as it is, while to work it is to dress, cultivate, develop and make it better.
Pastor Jeffrey continued to explain that God had already made the garden full of beauty, splendour and majesty (Gen 2:10-12), but then He called Adam to work that same garden. This seems to be an impossible task. The pastor added that many Christians would have found themselves in this same situation—he himself experienced this when God called him to start a church in 1988. He was newly married and had never taken up theological studies at that point.
Through that experience, the pastor learned something about God. “[God] would not ask Adam to do something if He knew that he could not do it,” Pastor Jeffrey asserted. “When God asks you to do something, He speaks to the potential inside you. He has already equipped us to do the job that He asked us to do, long before we knew that we could.”
Using Adam as an example, Pastor Jeffrey encouraged the congregation: “Whatever it is that God puts into our hands, we can always make it better if we work it.” As long as people put in time, effort and energy to think through, study, improvise and be creative with what God has given them, there is always room for improvement.
“In the first few pages of the Bible, God has already given us His standard of stewardship—not only do we have to keep it but we have to work it. We have to develop it, multiply it, cause growth to happen and make sure what is in our hands does not remain the same,” the pastor summarised.
THE PARABLE OF THE TALENTS: A STORY ON MANAGEMENT
In Matthew 25:14-18 (NIV 1984), a master entrusted five talents, two talents and one talent to three servants according to their abilities. The servants with five and two talents put the money to work and doubled what they were given, but the servant with one talent hid the talent he had.
“Something happens when you put to work what God has put in your hands—your ability increases,” said Pastor Jeffrey.
He turned to 1 Corinthians 10:13 (ESV), which promises that God, who is faithful, will not let His people be tempted beyond their ability. However, according to the pastor, the converse is also true: God, who is faithful, will not allow people to be blessed beyond their ability. “The reason why God will not give us more is simply that we have not increased our ability,” he said.
Back to the Parable of the Talents, Pastor Jeffrey told the congregation that the master in the story called the profitable servants “good and faithful”, while he called the unprofitable one lazy, before giving his one talent to the servant with the most talents. “We cannot increase our ability if we only keep what has been given to us,” said Pastor Jeffrey. “If we work it, we have the chance to keep it. But if we just keep it and do not do anything with it, we can lose what we have.”
A person will lose what they cannot manage, and this applies to different areas of a person’s life. “We will lose time if we cannot manage our time properly. We will lose money if we cannot manage our money,” the pastor explained.
Stewardship is important because it also determines whether or not a person lives in abundance. Reading John 10:10, where Jesus said He came to give life more abundantly, the pastor shared: “The way to have an abundant life is to put to work what has been put in our hands. If we are good stewards, growth will start to happen.”
Finally, Pastor Jeffrey talked about stewardship as an expression of gratitude towards the Lord. One way to show gratitude is to tithe. “For me, the importance of tithing is that I’m reminded again and again that all I have in my hands is not mine,” he said. “But I have to manage them well and be accountable to God—it’s as simple as that.”
In closing, senior pastor of CHC Kong Hee led the congregation in a time of prayer for individuals to develop faith in God, and to live up to their fullest potential for the glory of God.
CHURCH WITHOUT WALLS: AN UPDATE
Earlier in the service, Pastor Kong gave the church an update on the different Church Without Walls initiatives. He first invited pastoral supervisors Johann Sim and Ian Chong to share on the work done by My Fellow Workers, an outreach to migrant workers. In the next four months, this initiative is looking for 100 volunteers for its May Day event. Twenty female volunteers are also needed to reach out to female migrant workers.
This year, CWW is adding another initiative, Kids In Total Embrace (KITE), which will reach out to children from dysfunctional families who are going through loss and grief. Pastoral supervisor with HarvestKidz Wendy Wong shared that this initiative aims to create a safe space for children to share their feelings and receive guidance to navigate their emotions. KITE is looking for 10 volunteers to visit the homes of these children regularly.
Next, Pastor Eileen Toh and Pastor Lynn Tan shared that CWW now has a total of 15 initiatives. CWW aims to reach 2,300 people in the next four months and volunteers are needed to serve in the different initiatives.
If you are interested in serving in the various CWW initiatives, please visit this website for more information.