As the year comes to an end, Pastor Audrey Ng encourages the church to have a fresh revelation of the love of God in order to hold on to Him with faith and enduring patience.
“The end of a matter is better than its beginning,” said Pastor Audrey Ng, quoting Ecclesiastes 7:8 as she began her sermon last weekend (18-19 Nov). As the end of 2023 draws near, the pastor reminded the church that while it is important to start the year well, it is also important to end it well.
The pastor drew from Hebrews 6:10-12 to remind City Harvest Church to hold on to God. “No matter what our feelings are towards 2023, one thing we can be sure of is that God’s love for us never changes,” she told the church. “God’s love stands forever and ever.”
Hebrews 6:10 reads, “God is not unjust; he will not forget your work…” This means that God remembers all how much His believers love Him, and every effort they put in to draw closer to Him and serve Him. “God remembers and therefore, we are to be diligent in our service and in our walk with Him till the end,” she preached.
She went on to share two keys to loving the Lord till the end.
1. We need to have faith.
The Bible places great emphasis on having faith. The original Greek word for faith defines it as “the leaning on the entire personality of God in Christ, in absolute trust and confidence in His power, wisdom and goodness.” In other words, faith is to trust in what God has said.
Pastor Audrey gave examples from the gospels where Mary and Peter trusted in God’s word even when the circumstances were less than ideal. “Whatever situation we are in, we must choose to believe in God’s word,” she urged. Quoting Christian author Ann Voskamp, the pastor said, “When God says yes, we grow in awe. When God says wait, we grow in patience. When God says no, He is growing something better.”
Going through a list of scriptures, Pastor Audrey reminded the church what faith is. It is the substance of things unseen (Heb 11:1). It is impossible to please God without faith (Heb 11:6). It is the opposite of fear (Isa 12:2). It is leaning on God (Prov 3:5). Faith is man resting and God working (Mt 11:28) and it is receiving the promises of God (Mt 21:22).
“It is a choice we make, to walk by faith and not by sight,” she summarised.
2. We need patient endurance
Hebrews 6:12 reads, “…those who through faith (by their leaning of the entire personality on God in Christ in absolute trust and confidence in His power, wisdom, and goodness) and by practice of patient endurance and waiting are [now] inheriting the promises.”
While having faith is important, patience plays a vital role in obtaining the promises of God. “We need faith because that is what calls the promises of God into being. However, patience is what will keep you going when you haven’t seen the promises yet,” Pastor Audrey explained.
Revelations 14:12 (NIV) says “this calls for patient endurance on the part of the people of God“. The Amplified Bible uses the word “steadfast” in place of “patient”. The pastor explained that “steadfast” is made of two words. “Stead” which can be expanded to “steady”, means constant and “fast” which in this context means “fasten to something”. “Steadfast” therefore suggests a firm, consistent and unwavering patient.
“God doesn’t want us to give up when we encounter difficult problems. God wants us to respond with steadfastness and firm faith (2 Thess 1:4),” she asserted.
In Colossians 3:12 (AMP) patience is defined as the ability to endure injustice or unpleasantness with a good temper. “It’s already so difficult, how do I endure with a smile? When someone is so annoying, we not only need to endure but do it with good temper,” said Pastor Audrey as the congregation chuckled. She admitted that this was a tall order.
The pastor explained that one must endure patiently in order not to grow weary when facing a prolonged season of adversity. The ability to endure is a discipline that one develops with the help of the Holy Spirit. God allows His believers to go through situations where they need to practise patient endurance so that they can develop patience.
NEVER GIVE UP, KEEP GOING
Pastor Audrey related the story of Winston Churchill, who became the Prime Minister of Great Britain at age 66 and played a key role in the Allied war effort against the Nazis, leading to victory in 1945, ending World War II. His refusal to give up in the face of seemingly impossible problems was an inspiration to millions all around the world.
After his retirement, Churchill became a recluse. When he agreed to give the commencement speech at a school he once attended, many anticipated powerful words from him. Yet, when he was on stage, all he said was, “Never, never, never, never, never give up.”
While simple, the profundity of his words resonated with the audience and they gave him a standing ovation.
Martin Luther King Jr once said, “If you can’t fly, then run. If you can’t run, then walk. If you can’t walk, then crawl. But whatever you do, you have to keep moving.”
Pastor Audrey shared a personal story. In Secondary School, she was a sprinter on the track and field team. One day, her coach approached her and told her to train for long-distance running. Instead of the 100-metre sprint she was used to, she now had to train for the 800-metre race.
Having been a sprinter all her life, she had little stamina and was resistant to running long distances. Each time she wanted to stop running during her training, her coach would yell from behind her, “No matter how tired you are—jog on the spot if you must—just don’t give up!”
That taught her to keep going, even when it gets difficult.
LOVE TO THE VERY END
Romans 28: 5 reads, “But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.” Pastor Audrey urged the church to not only give their problems to God but also leave them with Him. At times, Christians wonder why God has not answered their prayers. The pastor taught that they need to learn to trust in God’s timing. “When we say that we trust God, we should not place any time limit on our trust in God. We should trust Him as long as He wants us to wait,” she said.
In Hebrews 6:11, the writer encouraged the church to show diligence “to the very end”. What is the motivation to last till the end, if one does not see what they want coming to pass? Pastor Audrey suggested that it is because Jesus first loved them till the end (Jn 13:3).
Jesus completed a work He had started—He loved his disciples all the way to the cross, and even to the other side of the cross. He did not only love the good things about them but also their weaknesses and imperfections.
“Sometimes we believe in our sins and weaknesses more than we believe in the grace and love of God,” the pastor noted, adding that Jesus loves every part of His believers—fully and completely.
At the Last Supper, Jesus knew that he would soon be betrayed, and the pain He would soon suffer. Yet, His response to the conflict and chaos around Him was the most humbling act of love and kindness—he washed the disciples’ feet.
“He did it to teach us that, at the end of the day, what really matters in this chaotic, troubling, uncertain life is love,” the pastor explained. “Jesus wants us to remember that He loves us, and He wants us to love him and one another.” She encouraged the church to follow in Jesus’ footsteps and love Him and one another to the end.
Reading from Hebrews 12:2-3, Pastor Audrey noted that Jesus was able to look beyond His pain and focus on the ultimate reward that the world would receive because of His sacrifice.
During the year-end season, most people busk in the festivities and company of families and friends. But Pastor Audrey noted that there are those who may be facing painful situations, whether they are missing a loved one or hoping for something that has not come to pass.
What do we do when the pain is excruciating? How do we love on till the end?
“We must remind ourselves that Jesus loves us till the end,” she advised. “We must have a revelation of how much God loves us, and what His love looks like.”
She went on to show the different translation of Psalm 36:7 that describes God’s love. God’s love is “precious”, “priceless”, “treasure”, “faithful”, “constant”, “exquisite”, and “unfailing”.
In closing, Pastor Audrey shared a story of an elderly lady with arthritis who would hobble to church every week, learning on her walking stick. A friend observed her faithfulness in attending every service and asked her how she managed to do it.
Her reply was, “My heart gets there first, and my old legs just follow after.” Pastor Audrey paralleled this with the love of Jesus that is so great, it trumps every pain and outlasts every problem.
The pastor encouraged the church to renew their love for Jesus and make a fresh commitment to love Him till the end.