In his sermon last weekend (10-11 June), Pastor Lin Junxian preached on the importance of being empowered by the Holy Spirit.
Pastor Lin Junxian was only 16 when he started attending City Harvest Church. “I remember every service, every cell group meeting was always filled with the presence of the Holy Spirit,” he recounted.
The spiritual atmosphere and the fervency of the people compelled him to seek after the God they served. As he worshipped with the rest of the church, he felt the presence of God overwhelm him. From that moment on, his life was changed.
“We see throughout the Bible how God encountered people and their lives were totally transformed; they were forever marked by His presence,” he preached, going on to show three examples.
MOSES AND THE ISRAELITES
Moses encountered the presence of God at the burning bush, sparking off a series of events that saw God’s hand moving on behalf of the Israelites. Moses eventually led the Israelites out of Egypt and God promised to bring them into the Promised Land.
In Exodus 33:15-16, Moses pleaded with God for His presence to go with them. Pastor Junxian noted that the Hebrew word for the presence here is panim which means “face”, suggesting intimacy. “Moses wanted people to experience the closeness of God, to know Him intimately,” he said. Thus, he built the Tabernacle (Exo 40) and the presence of God came to dwell with the Israelites.”
In all their travels, God was with the Israelites—He was the pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night. As the Israelites walked with God, they experienced tremendous victory.
THE EARLY DISCIPLES
Bible scholars called the book of Acts “the Acts of the Apostles”. But Pastor Junxian said that if one were to take a closer look at, they will see that this New Testament book reallys contains the acts of the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit came upon the disciples (Acts 1:4-8) and gave them the power to bring the gospel first to the Jews in Jerusalem (Acts 1-6), then to the Gentiles in Judea and Samaria (Acts 6-9), and subsequently to the ends of the earth (Acts 9-28).
Pastor Junxian recounted the day of Pentecost: when the Holy Spirit came, there was an audible sound (Acts 2:2) of the rushing wind and a fire that rested on the disciples. Acts 2:4 (AMP) wrote, “And they were all filled [that is, diffused throughout their being] with the Holy Spirit”. The pastor explained that the word “diffused” means that the Holy Spirit was poured out on them freely, spreading everywhere.
That day, the disciples were filled with love, power and so much boldness that they came out of hiding. From then on, they carried the undeniable presence and power of the Holy Spirit.
Pastor Junxian used the example of Peter to encourage those who feel inadequate. He was an uneducated fisherman who denied Jesus three times before the crucifixion, but at Pentecost, the Holy Spirit transformed him and he became a fearless and powerful preacher of the gospel. The Bible says that the Jews marvelled and “they realised they had been with Jesus” (Acts 4:13).
“When our lives are marked by the presence of God, something changes in our lives, because God wants to use us mightily,” the pastor encouraged the church.
He told the story of Lucy Farrow, an African American woman who was born into a life of slavery. She lived in the 1900s and encountered God in a church service. She was the first person who was recorded as having broken out in tongues after she was baptised in the Holy Spirit. The tongues she had been given was Kru, an African tribal language used in Liberia. She travelled to West Africa to preach the gospel in Kru, and the tribal people were saved and baptised in the Holy Spirit. Farrow was instrumental in the Azusa Street Revival in 1906 and is known as the “mother of Pentecostalism”.
“One encounter marked her life, and she was completely changed by the power of God,” the pastor noted.
CITY HARVEST CHURCH TODAY
“The distinguishing mark of the Church is not just in the cross, but it is in the power of the cross and the presence of God,” Pastor Junxian preached. He reminded the congregation that one of the most essential parts of CHC’s mission statement is to “build a strong spiritual atmosphere of faith and purity”.
“An atmosphere where the Holy Spirit can freely move in our midst, where people can encounter God. An atmosphere where hardened hearts will melt, where sick bodies are healed and broken lives are restored for the glory of God,” he elaborated.
At this year’s School of Theology , the students have been praying for at least an hour every day for the past few weeks. Pastor Junxian likened this to going to a spiritual gym, where one works out spiritually. As days went by, the presence of God grew greater in the meetings and many students encountered God and were set free from oppression.
Reading 1 Corinthians 14:26, the pastor explained that spiritual exercises are done to build up the church. He encouraged the members to continue building the spiritual atmosphere in CHC so that it can be passed down from generation to generation.
A SOT student wrote to Pastor Junxian sharing about her encounters on the recent mission trip to the Philippines. The team had been praying fervently to prepare themselves to minister to the people. On the trip, they prayed for the baptism of the Holy Spirit to come upon the church and all the leaders they prayed for received the Holy Spirit. At the last service they conducted, the church members were also filled with the Holy Spirit and the whole spiritual atmosphere in the church shifted.
The SOT team later realised that, before they arrived, there had been division in the church which affected the members. But by them bringing the love and presence of God to that church, the leaders and members were set free and reunited.
This month, CHC’s youths are enjoying their annual Emerge youth camps. At Camp Protégé, organised by the zone under lay pastoral supervisor Lim Meng Chin, many of the campers experienced life-changing encounters.
One camper was having issues at home but decided to attend the camp nonetheless. Surprisingly, her parents also came for one of the preaching sessions and sat at the back of the hall. During the meeting, a leader gave a word to the camper in front of everyone. “Every detail in that word was spot on. The youth broke down in tears as she was deeply ministered to,” the pastor reported.
Her parents were shocked at the accuracy of the word. The father later posted on his social media that only in the presence of God can there be healing of such magnitude.
In closing, Pastor Junxian led the church in a prayer for the youth of CHC, for parents and children in the church. He reminded the church that the pioneers of the church had paid the price to build the spiritual atmosphere of CHC and the church is now now benefitting from their sacrifice. “Let’s continue to safeguard and build this spiritual atmosphere of the Holy Spirit that God has given,” he urged the congregation.