In the second weekend of the new year, executive pastor Aries Zulkarnain preached a rousing message, encouraging the church to see what Jesus has become for them and what Jesus had done for them.
“When you have a vision of Jesus in your life, He will give you purpose,” said Aries Zulkarnain, CHC’s executive pastor, as he started his sermon on the weekend of Jan 9 and 10. “This purpose will give you the renewed strength, hope and determination to not give up despite what you have lost last year, so that you will continue to believe God and trust God in 2021.”
Using the example of Mary and Joseph, Pastor Aries showed the church how having a vision of Jesus can encourage one not to give up. In Luke 1:29, when Angel Gabriel first appeared to Mary, she was troubled. But the Angel told her not to be afraid, because she had found favour with God and had been chosen to be the one to give birth to Jesus.
The pastor noted that even though Mary was favoured by God, it did not excuse her from inconvenience: she still had to go through the virgin birth. Similarly, many Christians experienced hardship and suffering during the pandemic and economic downturn. “God’s favour will not help you to avoid crisis but it will empower you during crisis,” explained the pastor. “That favour will help you to go through the crisis.”
Pastor Aries noted that when the Angel pointed Mary to the vision of Jesus, she immediately said, “Let it be to me according to your word.” (Lk 1:38). “When you have a vision of Jesus, you will be able to look beyond your own limitations and to start seeing the possibility of doing the impossible things in life,” he said.
Joseph was also visited by the Angel. The difference with his encounter, however, is that while the Angel also pointed him towards Jesus, Joseph was not called “highly favoured”. Pastor Aries drew a comparison here.
“But if you can get a vision of Jesus in your current situation, you will stop having a pity party or a ‘jealous’ party,” he pointed out. “You will stop comparing yourself with the favour other people have, and you will start looking towards Jesus and trusting God all over again.”
Pastor Aries went on to explain that to have a vision of Jesus means “to see what Jesus has done for you and what Jesus has become on your behalf”.
The pastor shared an experience from his early days in ministry. He had been given an opportunity to make an announcement on stage during a church service. However, he was so nervous that he started trembling and speaking nonsensically on stage. Eventually, the senior pastor, Kong Hee, went on stage to rescue him. Pastor Aries was most embarrassed by this encounter.
After that incident, Pastor Kong brought the church’s pastoral supervisors to Sweden. There, Pastor Aries observed how Bible School students there, all younger than him, spoke with confidence on stage.
“When I see that someone has done what I cannot do, that image becomes my image,” he said. “The spirit inside me began to rise up beyond my limitations, and I told myself that if they can do it, I can do it too.”
He added, “That’s exactly what the vision of Jesus can do for you. When you have a vision of what Jesus has done for you on the cross, and when you see what He has become on your behalf, something in your spirit can identify with His image. We are able to tell ourselves, ‘beyond our own limitations, I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me’.”
WHAT JESUS HAS BECOME ON YOUR BEHALF
To illustrate this point, Pastor Aries told the story of Hannah in 1 Samuel. Hannah could not have children and was ridiculed by her rival. One day, she told herself enough was enough—it was time to let God turn her life around.
“That day, she did the most radical thing,” the pastor said, “She prayed. Church, the most radical thing you can do to turn your life around in 2021 is to pray.”
At first glance, Hannah’s prayer in 1 Samuel 1:11 sounded like a bargain with God. But Pastor Aries warned that making bargains with God is wrong thinking, “because God is not a trader, He is a Giver. His nature is to give to you, not to bargain with you.”
He emphasised, “You must do things out of your love for God—not to get something out of God.” Pastor Aries explained that Hannah’s prayer was not a bargain because her spirit was lifted even before God grant her a child. The Bible records that immediately after she prayed, she “went her way and ate, and her face was no longer sad.” (1 Sam 1:18)
“She decided that day that the Lord has become her source of joy, her source of happiness, her source of fulfilment—even before she got pregnant,” Pastor Aries postulated, noting that when Hannah decided to give Samuel to God, while she still wanted to experience the joy of having children, she was no longer enslaved to her desire of having a child.
“When God becomes the source of your fulfilment, you will be set free from expectations and the pressures of life. You will focus on God and God will set you free. You will get to enjoy life again,” the pastor encouraged.
“To have a vision of Jesus is to see what Jesus has become on your behalf: He is the source of your joy, the source of your happiness and the source of your fulfilment.”
WHAT JESUS HAS DONE FOR YOU
Like Hannah, Abraham was also waiting for a child. In Genesis 15, Abraham was feeling discouraged, yet he remained respectful to God.
“That is one thing that we need to learn,” the pastor preached. “Though you and I may be disappointed when God did not answer our prayers, we still must remain respectful to God. Because as long as you remain respectful to God, He will unveil His way.”
In Genesis 15:9-10, God told Abraham to prepare a sacrifice and in v17-21, God came down as “a smoking firepot with a blazing torch” to make a covenant with Abraham.
Pastor Aries preached that this was a vision that God gave to Abraham to encourage him. “God was saying to Abraham, ‘I’m not only just going to make this promise sure, I am going to put my body on the line for this promise to come to pass’,” said the pastor. This means that this promise will eventually come to pass not because of what Abraham can do for God, but what God has done for him.
The presence of God amid the sacrifice was also a picture of Jesus giving His life on the cross so that the blessing of Abraham could be passed down to all who believe in Him. “What Jesus has done for you on the cross is the doorway to all the blessings of God,” the pastor said.
Abraham had no faith to believe, but God said to him that the promise was not dependent on what he believed He could do, but on what Jesus would do on the cross. All a Christian needs to do to receive the blessing is to believe in Jesus and what He has done for him.
When Abraham realised that, he stopped questioning God and surrendered everything to Him. Without the pressure to conceive, Abraham and Sarah could enjoy their marriage and eventually, they conceived Isaac.
Abraham fought a battle of faith before his son Isaac came into his life, but the name he gave his son means “laughter”, instead of something strong like “victor”. Pastor Aries noted laughter is a reaction to a sudden turn of events—a person laughs when a miracle happens unexpectedly after a chain of failures and negative results.
In closing, Pastor Aries encouraged the church with these words: “I really sense that this is what God wants to do in your life. Maybe you have been experiencing bad events, one after another. But this year, if you put a vision of Jesus in your life, there will be a change of events: God will turn your mourning into dancing, your sorrow into joy.”