In the first sermon of the year, Pastor Kong Hee set CHC’s vision for 2021 and urged the church to commit the year to cultivating the character of Jesus and to glorifying Him.
2021 marks a new normal for City Harvest Church as the church embarks on regular onsite services in Suntec Singapore’s Hall 606, while resuming live streaming on The CHC App, YouTube Live and Facebook Live.
In line with the government’s social distancing measures in Phase Three of the Singapore’s re-opening, each service can seat 250 people in different zones. As such, CHC now holds four services every weekend: on Saturdays at 2 and 5 pm, and on Sundays at 10am and 2pm.
“If you want to be ready for revival, you must start preparing for it,” exhorted Kong Hee, CHC’s senior pastor in his first message for 2021. “You must study the Bible as you have never studied; you must get to know the word of God, and learn to pray and move in the spirit and grow in your spiritual storehouse.”
Speaking from the pulpit, the pastor recalled what he learned from a lecturer in Bible school in the 1980s. He said that when revival hits, the pastors would be so busy—planning events, helping the new coverts grow, and planting churches—that they would have no time to study the Word of God. That is why preparation is so important.
Pastor Kong took those word to heart and began preparing for revival. “True enough, what he said came to pass. I was so busy when revival came in the ’90s that I had very little time to study some more and pray. I was so glad I had built my storehouse,” he recalled.
“I believe a third wave of revival is coming,” he continued, saying that God is preparing His people during this COVID-19 season. “Every new move of God requires a new illumination, a new revelation, a greater and deeper knowledge of who God is and what God wants to do.”
Ephesians 3:16 says “that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man”. Pastor Kong explained that whether God grants a person the privilege of having supernatural strength and might, depends on how he responds to Him. “How we respond this year will determine what role, and to what degree are we going to partake of the next move of God,” he said.
In Matthew 5:6, Jesus taught that “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled.”
Pastor Kong encouraged the church to take COVID-19 as an opportunity to spend more time away from others, to be alone with God. “We have the natural excuse to grow in our spiritual hunger,” he said.
Another focus of that verse is that one is to be hungry and thirsty for God’s righteousness. Righteousness, the pastor said, is the character of Jesus. “What Jesus really wants is a radical, complete, total inner moral transformation. He wants to see a real change in us so that we become more and more like Him.”
With this, the pastor shared three important things that he wants the church to focus on in 2021.
BE INTENTIONAL IN CULTIVATING CHRISTLIKENESS
“The chief end for every man, and every woman, is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever.” Taken from the Westminster Shorter Catechism, this was the central revelation in Pastor Kong’s first sermon last August when he returned to the pulpit. Expounding on what glorifying God means, he said, “God wants to see us transformed into Christlikeness so that when people see us, they immediately see Jesus. That is how we truly glorify God.”
The Bible gives a clear picture of what Christlikeness is. “It’s called the nine fruit of the Holy Spirit—that is the character profile of who Jesus is,” the pastor taught. This transformation into the likeness of Christ is not automatic. A Christian has to have the desire and make the effort to cultivate the fruit of the Spirit dailyl the more he does it, the more the fruit is produced.
One thing that Pastor Kong wanted the members to learn in 2021 was to be more patient and kind, to be forbearing, and not lose their temper easily. The Bible teaches that if a person fails to keep his emotions in check, he stands to lose everything.
“When you’re stressed, learn to be calm in your response,” he advised. “Learn not to be anxious. Trust God for the best possible outcome.”
BE INTENTIONAL IN UNCONDITIONAL LOVE
“In other words, learn to love unselfishly this year,” said Pastor Kong. Using marriage as an example, he taught what unconditional love means.
“For true marriages, it is ‘for better or for worse, for richer or poorer’,” he said. This may be difficult to do, especially when there are serious disagreements or adultery in the marriage. But Hosea, the prophet kept his commitment to his wife, Gomer, even though she was continually unfaithful to him.
“He didn’t at any time tried to shame her, but instead, he chose to protect her, because love protects and redeems,” the pastor said. Hosea’s love for Gomer was so great that God used it to demonstrate His love for His own people, Israel.
At this juncture, Pastor Kong encouraged married couples to stay committed to their marriage. Even when their spouse has been unfaithful, or is unresponsive to them, they need to love them the way Jesus loves His church.
“What is God’s way? It is like this: ‘You can be unfaithful to Me, but I will remain faithful to you’—unless you reject or renounce Jesus completely,” he explained. This means that a person has to love patiently, keep forgiving his spouse, and never suggest a divorce.
“Friends, there is a much higher purpose than romance and sex in a marriage,” the pastor said. “The greatest thing God wants to develop in your marriage is for you to learn true love—agape love—and that is the love of heaven.”
If a person only thinks about getting returns from what he puts into his marriage, then that love is selfish and conditional. In Ephesians 3:18-19, Paul prays that the church “may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height, to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.”
That is a love that the world does not understand; the kind of love that drove Jesus to the cross. It is the kind of love that God wants couples to learn in their marriage, and when they learn to love with no limits, then the fullness of God will bring a heavenly joy that surpasses earthly pleasures. For those who are suffering in their marriage, he encouraged them to keep believing that when they stay faithful and committed, they can have a life that is fulfilling and satisfying.
Speaking to the singles in the congregation, he said, “Don’t be afraid of marriage; yet at the same time, don’t be pressured (to get married).” They too can learn agape love by loving their family and friends—being gentle and forgiving with no expectation of positive results.
“When we can love like Jesus, the fullness of God will guarantee in us, a joy unspeakable and full of glory.”
BE INTENTIONAL IN MARKETPLACE DISCIPLESHIP
“God has planted us here to be salt and light of the world; we have a cultural mandate,” the pastor explained. Nothing has changed, but the pandemic is a chance for Christians to pause and refresh their vision for marketplace evangelism.
A Christian’s goal in the marketplace cannot just be riches and fame, because that is no different from the world. His goal must be to become a disciple of Jesus, to show forth Jesus, winning people to Christ.
Many Christians may say that they need to do well in their marketplace to have a platform to share Christ. While this may be true, the pastor warned that inherent to the desire of becoming famous is greed and pride. There are two ways to gain success: one is from God and the other is from Satan.
Proverbs 10:22 reads, “The blessing of the Lord makes one rich, And He adds no sorrow with it.” Thus, if a person’s success causes him to compromise his values and stray from Jesus, then it is probably not from God.
“I like what Pastor (Tan) Kim Hock said recently,” said Pastor Kong, referring to the School of Theology’s Academic Dean. “He said that if we want to do our Father’s business, we need three things: kingdom-mindedness, heavenly affection and a crucified will.”
He went on to teach two theological words: mortification and vivification.
“Mortification is the progressive killing of sin as it manifests itself in us,” he spelled out. “So we kill every rebellious habit, every self-indulgent habit, as it surfaces in our lives.”
Vivification is the process that follows. It is the “inculcating and strengthening of Christ-like habits in us, specifically the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.”
Christians need both mortification and vivification to grow and mature in Christ. Pastor Kong encouraged the church to submit every project and business venture to God, seeking to glorify God and share His goodness in the marketplace.
He ended the service urging the church to let these three things become their vision for 2021.