Kong Hee shared the three greatest gifts that God came to give us at Christmas.
City Harvest Church may not be able to celebrate Christmas with its annual festivities, namely the Christmas drama production, but members can still partake of the Christmas cheer right at home.
In the first of its online services (Dec 19 and 20) celebrating Christmas, CHC’s worship team CityWorship and the church’s creative department put together a festive and witty music video with them singing Christmas songs.
This was followed by a moving video testimony given by Amelia Tan and her fiancé, Jeremiah Lit, chronicling the many times God came through for them throughout her journey. Early this year, at the age of 28, Amelia was diagnosed with HER2-positive aggressive breast cancer. She had to make difficult decisions to undergo treatment and surgery. In the midst of her agony, God reminded her to confess His goodness. She held on to His word and declared that there will be no discomfort during her chemotherapy, and miraculously, she felt no pain the next two sessions.
God also sent strangers to cover her entire hospital bill and different ones to pray for and encourage her, including Pastor Tan Kim Hock—who is himself undergoing chemotherapy—and his wife Pastor Lily Yong. Amelia shared that in this difficult journey, she learned to trust God’s heart and the supportive church community around her gave her the courage to face each day.
THE THREE CHRISTMAS GIFTS JESUS BROUGHT
“Happiness and peace are the top two things people are searching for today, according to Google,” Kong Hee, CHC’s senior pastor noted as he opened his sermon. “It makes sense—what’s the point of having money and possessions, power and position if you don’t have happiness and peace? It is because of these two things that we have Christmas. Jesus Christ was born to give us joy and peace.” (Lk 2:10, 14)
Technology has made information more accessible, but it also creates greater anxiety in people. It is difficult to be happy when the pace of life is sped up. People of this generation are constantly bombarded with work and with negative news that spread danger, trouble or hopelessness. As such, individuals find themselves in a constant state of anxiety and jumpiness.
Speaking to those who are constantly answering work messages and emails on their mobile phones and emails, Pastor Kong reminded them that they are putting themselves in a constant state of anxiety and it will affect their health eventually.
“Happiness has become an elusive thing,” Pastor Kong said. “Somewhere along the way, we have unknowingly developed a mindset that happiness is dependent on external things.” However, this kind of happiness is not fulfilling.
“Jesus was born to tell us that there is a happiness that doesn’t fade in and out,” declared Pastor Kong. “It is not dependent on things, people or situations. The Bible calls it joy: it comes from the Lord, and it gives us energy for living.”
“Joy is the atmosphere of heaven,” he continued. “When we pray for heaven to be experienced here on Earth, we are praying for more joy in our lives. Joy comes directly from God, in His presence there is fullness of joy. It is not transient and undependable, because Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever.”
Christians are full of joy because they have Jesus in their life. The heavenly joy makes them happy even when the future is uncertain or when they go through hardships.
Jesus’ life was characterised by joy: He was always rejoicing in the Holy Spirit and He often talked about the joy of God and heaven. In John 15:11, Jesus promised His disciples a lifetime’s supply of joy.
“Jesus was born on Christmas to give you the fullness of heavenly joy,” the pastor said.
God’s second Christmas present is inner peace. Pastor Kong explained that peace is not the absence of worries and conflicts, but rather, the ability to not allow anxiety, fear, and conflicts to torment oneself.
In John 14:27 and John 16:33, Jesus was hours away from His arrest, suffering and crucifixion, yet He was still full of peace, even encouraging His disciples. Pastor Kong reminded the church that the inner peace of Christ overcomes all the troubles of life, and that having done one’s best, he or she can stay in the peace of Christ.
“Plan for your future, but don’t over-plan it,” the pastor advised. “Learn to rewire yourself to trust God more.” He taught the church to take a moment in a stressful situation to find Jesus, worship Him, and remember His promises to them. That is how to cultivate inner peace.
Reading from the NIV translation of Luke 2:14, Pastor Kong shared the third Christmas present God has given is favor. He explained that favor means “demonstrated delight”, and one way He does that is by preserving and healing His believers.
Another definition is “preferential treatment”. “When you have Jesus in your life, even when going through a hard time, God will make sure you stand out in the crowd,” he said. “People who don’t know you will notice you and seek to bless you.”
He further illustrated this point with testimonies from church members, one of which is a video showing how God gave Kong Caijuan, a pastoral supervisor in CHC’s Chinese service, favor with her father.
“On the first Christmas night, the angels proclaimed the three Christmas presents that God desires to give all mankind: heavenly joy, inner peace, and divine favor,” the pastor said in conclusion. He ended the service with an altar call for those who want to receive Jesus into their hearts, and led them in the sinner’s prayer.