While 2020 has been a difficult year for most, with COVID killing 1.4 million people globally and disrupting lives, careers and ministries. But as we enter into December, it’s important to remember that Christmas is about God sending His Son during the darkest hour of the year to light up our world, said Pastor Kong Hee in his sermon last weekend.
“For the last 2,000 years, every year has ended in hope because of Christmas, because no matter what you are going through, the good news never changes,” said Kong Hee, senior pastor of City Harvest Church.
Preaching at the online service for the weekend of November 28 and 29, Pastor Kong drew parallels between present day and the days of Isaiah the prophet, when Israel fell into the hands of the Syrian, and Judah was soon be destroyed by the Babylonians. People were dying; properties were destroyed. Chaos was everywhere.
In the midst of all that doom and gloom, God gave Isaiah a word to encourage the people. Pastor Kong read from Isaiah 9:6, the verse that first announced the coming of Jesus Christ, 700 years before He came. Because of Jesus, His people have the promise of better years ahead.
“Christmas is the celebration of Christ,” declared the pastor. “We can celebrate Jesus because He is the Light of the world.”
Pastor Kong shared that he has been delving into the Gospel of John in his daily devotion, which begins, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”
3 THINGS ABOUT THE SON OF GOD
From this verse, Pastor Kong highlights three things about the Son of God that form the foundation of Christianity: Jesus’ eternity, His personality and His deity.
The first is that Jesus is eternal. “The universe is about 13.7 billion years old. Scientists say that before that, there was nothingness. Yet, in that nothingness, Jesus was already there,” Pastor Kong declared. “He is the eternal Son of God, who has no beginning or ending.” Because He is eternal, He is able to give His people everlasting life.
The second is that He was “with God”—this indicates that Jesus is a real person. The word “with” in Greek means face to face, to talk to, to look at, like two good friends in a close fellowship. Jesus Christ was face to face with God. God is love, and before time began, there was already a loving relationship between God and His Son. Jesus is Savior of the world, and also a friend to believers because He is real.
Thirdly, Jesus is God. He is almighty, ever-present, all-knowing and unchanging. It is because He is God that He can forgive our sins, for only God can forgive sins.
WHY IS JESUS “THE WORD”?
“Why does John call Jesus ‘the Word’? Why doesn’t he just simply start his Gospel by saying, ‘In the beginning was Jesus, and Jesus was with God, and Jesus was God’,” asked Pastor Kong. John wrote this intentionally as the name Jesus was only given to Him on the first Christmas night when he was born as a baby in Bethlehem. It was a new human name to describe what he had come to earth to do. Jesus—or Yeshua— means “Yaweh saves”.
There are two possible reasons why John called Jesus “The Word”. One, a “word” expresses the thoughts of a person. Once a word is received, it enters into someone, into his mind and into his heart. Jesus is the Word that came and revealed to us that God has always been a loving Father. Whoever receives this word, believes this word, the Father has given the right be become children of God (Luke 1:12).
For the second, deeper reason, Pastor Kong delved into the original Greek for “word”, which is logos, the root word of logic. Therefore, Jesus is the logic of life. Without him, people would be merely existing in a fallen, messed up world, toiling for 80 to 90 years to gain fame and wealth that no one can take with them when they die; to love and be loved by others who they have to part with forever.
“The secret of the universe is found in a Person,” stated Pastor Kong. “He is the One who created everything and holds everything together. He is the reason, and the meaning of it all.”
This is why the Christmas season is full of hope, because it reminds His people of a heavenly Father who made them to love, who wants a deep relationship with them, who wants to bless them with all the heavenly things from above, and who wants to make their lives meaningful and worth living. He sent Jesus to reconcile His people back to him (John 14:6) so that they can enjoy everlasting life with Him for all eternity.
Jesus Christ the living Word is synonymous with the written Word. Simply put, if one wants to know how to interpret the Bible, and how to live His truth, just look at the life of Jesus Christ and how He lived out the commandments.
LOOK FOR A BIBLE PROMISE AND BELIEVE
“If you need Jesus to work a miracle in your life, your home, your health, your career, then your first port of call must be the Word of God,” asserted Pastor Kong. “If you can just find a promise in the Bible, for your situation, half the battle is already won.”
To illustrate the power of meditating on the Word, Pastor Kong shared a testimony about Ruth Kwan, a prayer intercessor at City Harvest Church, who went through a mastectomy two years ago. She was diagnosed with stage three breast cancer and the operation greatly weakened her body. As a result, she was unable to go through any chemotherapy or radiation treatment for the past two years. There was very little she could do in her own strength. She prayed and believed for a complete healing from cancer, visualizing that she would be healthy and live a long happy life with her husband and her children. She confessed healing verses, laid hands on her own body and thanked Jesus by faith that her cancer would be completely healed.
Early this year, a fellow cell group member gave her the verse 2 Kings 20:5, “I have heard your prayer. I’ve seen your tears. Surely I will heal you.” Ruth held on to this deep in her heart. Four months ago, Ruth went back to the hospital for a checkup and all her tests came back without a single trace of cancer in her body.
“No matter what your need is today, the first thing is you must get is a word from God,” Pastor Kong emphasized. “Abide in His promises and let the promises fill your heart, saturating your thoughts, your affections, your desires, your visions and dreams, your motives, your concerns, your moralities.” These are the seven things the human heart is made up of.
Pastor Kong went on to show how the seed of God’s Word played a prominent role in the Christmas story. In Luke 1:30-31, the angel Gabriel came to Mary and told her that because she had found favor with God, she would conceive in her womb to bring forth a Son named Jesus. God was sowing the Word as a seed into her life. Mary was concerned because she didn’t know how it was going to happen—she was a virgin (v34). However, the angel eased her worries by reassuring her that it was to be a work of the Holy Spirit, the power of the Highest (v35).
Mary believed, putting aside her worries, and received the seed of the promise. Pastor Kong deduced that Mary rushed to her relative Elizabeth’s house after the angelic visit as Elizabeth was six months pregnant when angel Gabriel spoke to Mary (v36), and that Mary stayed for three months before returning to her house (v56). This is a clear display of Mary’s faith and belief upon receiving the Word.
“God’s kingdom always triumphs independently of our external situations, even the pandemic,” said the pastor. “Our boundaries and limitations are never outside; they are always inside in our hearts, in our minds, in our soul. That is why we need to keep our hearts with diligence.”
God works according to a pattern, based on a principle. In His sovereignty, He has chosen to work through His Word. He hovers where His Word is found. Through His Word, He brings life to every situation the believer is going through.
“The Holy Spirit comes upon you, and He overshadows you. He will begin working quietly and deeply in your life,” Pastor Kong added. “The only thing you can’t be sure of is when the miracle will come to pass. It may be today; it may be next week, next month, next year, next decade. Or He may only make things new when you get to heaven. You have to trust Him that His timing is always perfect and that He will always make everything beautiful in His time.”
In closing, Pastor Kong gave a testimony of the many times God answered his prayers. He had desired to give Bible study to a group of young people, and it grew into a church with affiliates and Bible schools around the world. ee prayed for a simple outreach into Taiwan and it became an evangelistic mission that impacted the Chinese-speaking world. And when he prayed for a church building, God blessed the church with premises in Jurong West and Suntec Convention Centre.
“Only Jesus could do something so wonderful and miraculous,” declared Pastor Kong.