On the fourth and final multiple service weekend this season, Pastors Aries Zulkarnain and Audrey Ng encouraged the church to hold on to God in difficult times.
Last weekend (5 and 6 Aug), executive pastor of City Harvest Church, Aries Zulkarnain and CHC pastor Audrey Ng delivered two sermons that encouraged the church to believe in the resurrection power of God and to not let go of Him when one goes through tough times.
PASTOR ARIES ZULKARNAIN: IF YOU CAN BELIEVE IT, YOU CAN ACHIEVE IT
National Day is just around the corner and one of the familiar National Day songs is “Count On Me, Singapore”. Quoting its lyrics—“We have a vision for tomorrow, just believe, just believe. We have a goal for Singapore, we can achieve, we can achieve!”—Pastor Aries opened his sermon.
“I want to encourage you that in God, failure is not a dead-end street. If you can believe it, you can achieve it in Jesus,” he told the church. “God wants to bring new beginnings into your life, to bring you to your destiny despite the many detours and failures you’ve made.”
In Mark 16:1-3, Mary Magdalene, Mary and Salome were faced with a problem: they wanted to anoint Jesus’ body with spices but they could not roll the heavy stone at the entrance away. Similarly, many people may feel that they are carrying burdens that are too big to bear.
In V4, the solution presented itself: “When they looked up, they saw that the stone had been rolled away—for it was very large”.
“Look up!” encouraged the pastor, adding that God wants to bring His people to His perspective for His ways and thoughts are higher than theirs (Isa 55:8). The problem the three women faced in Mark 16 seemed impossible, but the Holy Spirit had already provided the solution.
Through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, God wanted His people to know that there is no problem too big for Him to handle, that no failure is too fatal, and no mistakes are final. God always has something in store for all believers and He wants them to have hope in Him.
“However, it requires you to have the right spiritual mindset and attitude to approach the problem,” Pastor Aries said. He shared three spiritual mindsets and attitudes a believer should have.
1. Believe in the resurrection power of Jesus within you
In Mark 16:5-6, the angel challenged the women to believe that God can do the impossible and raise Jesus from the dead. Similarly, those who are facing impossible situations in their lives must believe that God can create a miracle for them.
“This evidence of resurrection is Jesus Himself and He is living inside of us,” the pastor preached. “If you activate your faith to believe, the resurrection power will birth forth a new life in you even though you are experiencing dead ends.”
Romans 8:11 reads, “And if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of His Spirit who lives in you.” The power of Jesus within the believer will invigorate the spirit and restore life to them again. But this restoration happens only to those who believe in the power of resurrection.
Pastor Aries noted that before His death, Jesus told His disciples multiple times (Mk 8, 9, 10), that He would rise again. Yet the women were still surprised by the Angel at the tomb, and the disciples went into hiding after Jesus’ death.
“If they can grasp this truth, it will set them free from every fear and every form of condemnation. It will give them hope to believe for restoration, even when Jesus is no longer there,” the pastor declared. He encouraged the church to pay attention to the Word of God so that they can cling to His truth in difficult times.
There is great power available to those who believe in Jesus (Eph 1:19-20) and believers must choose to believe in this great power that is within them in order to become overcomers with Christ.
2. Believe in God’s love for you
There was significance in the Angel specifically mentioning Peter’s name in Mark 16:7. Pastor Aries explained that Peter had just failed Jesus when he denied Him three times. At this point, Peter would have been feeling like a failure and he likely had disqualified himself from leading the church for Jesus. To encourage Peter and to restore him to his calling, the Angel wanted the women to specifically mention Peter when they passed his message on to the disciples.
It was God’s way of reminding Peter that even in his failure, God never gave up on Him. “If God has never given up on you, then you should never give up on yourself,” Pastor Aries encouraged the congregation.
This move of God must have impacted Peter so significantly that in 1 Peter 5:9-10, he said one must resist the devil and stand firm in the faith when one is feeling unworthy and disqualified.
Pastor Aries reminded the church of the love that God has for them, and that God would never disqualify them despite how they feel. God is always waiting for an opportunity for believers to respond to Him in surrender and to allow Him to restore them to their calling.
In conclusion, the pastor urged the church to always remember that even when they are feeling hopeless, God has a purpose and a goal for them, and their response when God calls them should be “If God says so, then I can achieve.”
PASTOR AUDREY NG: NOT LETTING GO OF GOD
In Genesis 32:22-32, Jacob wrestled with God; this was the anchor of Pastor Audrey’s message. She pointed out that Jacob was a person who had been wrestling all his life. Many Christians are the same: they wrestle with their weaknesses, with their calling, sometimes even with God.
Reading Romans 7:14-15, the pastor defined this wrestling as “the things that we should do, we do not do and the things we should not do, we end up doing them.” It is a constant struggle between right and wrong, a challenge to press on when one feels like giving up.
Jacob cheated his brother, Esau of his birthright and blessing. As a result of this grave misconduct, he had to run away and live apart from his family.
More than 20 years later, God wanted Jacob to return to the place where he had run away from Esau. Yet Jacob was still too afraid to move forward. In Genesis 32:24, Jacob had sent all this family and possessions over the brook and was left alone.
“Sometimes, God brings us to a place of isolation, so that we can experience a transformation that will result in an elevation,” Pastor Audrey said. God wanted to take away Jacob’s pride and self-reliance. He did it through something that Jacob was familiar with—a wrestling match.
He wrestled with Jacob all night and it seemed like no one was going to win. The pastor likened this to the relationship many Christians have with God. At times, they want to get things through their own schemes, and when God seems to be silent, they think that God is all right with it. They might even think that they are evenly matched with God.
Yet with one touch on his hip that crippled him, God showed Jacob that He was still in control. Jacob then realised that he could not push God around and do things his way.
In Genesis 32:26, Jacob said to God, “I will not let You go unless You bless me!” Here, Jacob was not asking for material things but to become the person that God intended him to be. God then changed His name from Jacob—which means a trickster, a deceiver—to Israel, which means a “prince with God”.
“God wants to meet us at our level, and He wants to transform us. What then must we do in our struggle?” the pastor asked.
1. We must persevere
Jacob wrestled with God the whole night and eventually prevailed. He received his blessing not because he was perfect but because he would not give up.
Hebrews 10:36 reads, “For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise.” Pastor Audrey shared that perseverance is the ultimate expression of faith. This means that the strength of one’s faith is not revealed in the magnitude of the obstacle but in the duration of waiting.
She encouraged the church not to “tap out” during the wrestling match. “Because God is outside of the ring saying, ‘Let me jump in!’” she said. “You just need to tap God into your struggle.”
Unlike most people who are happy to simply receive a touch from God, Jacob went one step further and asked for God’s blessing. He not only wanted a touch from God, he wanted that power to change his life.
“A casual touch is not enough,” Pastor Audrey pointe out. “We need the power of God to transform us, mould our character, alter our perspective and change our bad habits.”
2. We must surrender to the Lord
When God touched Jacob, he realised that he was nothing without God—he was a broken man, physically and spiritually.
Jacob then asked God for a blessing, and in turn, God asked for his name. When God asks a question, it is not to get information, Pastor Audrey said. God asked him his name so that Jacob would reflect on his life. In the Bible, a person’s name is the expression of their character. God was therefore really asking Jacob, “What are you? What is in your heart?”
Before Jacob could receive his blessing and live up to God’s will, he needed to first acknowledge who he was. God was confronting Jacob and asking if he would continue to be what his name meant: a deceiver.
Eventually, Jacob had to surrender to God—that was the only way he could get his victory. That day, God changed Jacob’s name and his walk.
In closing, Pastor Audrey encouraged the church to not let go of God when they are feeling discouraged and weary. “Someone said this, ‘If God does not work a miracle to change your circumstances, trust that He’s performing a miracle to change you. And that is a greater miracle,” she said.