In last weekend’s Father’s Day sermon, Pastor Bobby Chaw taught fathers how to bless their children just like Jacob blessed Joseph.
Last weekend (18 and 19 June), the atmosphere at City Harvest Church was more celebratory than usual as it was the Father’s Day weekend.
Before the sermon began, Pastor Audrey Ng took to the stage to announce the winners of the “Ode To My Father” contest. The contest ran for three weeks and was open to church members: they had to send in a heartfelt 100-word dedication to their fathers. The top two winners—one for Saturday service, one for Sunday—were awarded $300 worth of Suntec vouchers each. She then invited every father in the hall to stand up, and the church prayed for all of them.
What followed was a surprise: film director Jack Neo, a member of CHC, made a special appearance with cast members from his latest movie, Ah Girls Go Army. The veteran director shared the trials and difficulties of producing a movie during the pandemic, highlighting how God made his heart full as the production made many jobs available during uncertain times. The cast then sang the theme song from the movie, which brought a festive vibe to the hall.
HOW JACOB BLESSED JOSEPH
Pastor Bobby Chaw, City Harvest Church’s executive pastor, opened his Father’s Day sermon by bringing the church to Genesis 49, where Jacob was on his death bed surrounded by his sons, and he wanted to bless them before he passed away. Of the 12 brothers, Joseph received the fullest blessing from him.
“God wants fathers to pass their blessings on to their children,” Pastor Bobby explained. He also emphasised how much an impact a positive father figure can make on a child’s life, and how fathers are a blessing to their family and children. Pastor Bobby then went on to list four practical ways that fathers can bless their children.
1. See life through God’s Eyes
Firstly, fathers must help children see life through God’s eyes. In Genesis 49, Jacob declared Joseph to be like a fruitful vine. Pastor Bobby explained that this reflected Joseph’s status of success and abundance that emerged out of a life of many trials. In the midst of all his sufferings, Joseph remained steady in this faith because of God. Pastor reminded the congregation that life is not easy, but “we must see life through God’s eyes and live life through God’s hands,” Pastor Bobby encouraged.
Joseph suffered many hardships, yet he was not resentful. Even when he saw the brothers who had sold him as a slave, Joseph treated them kindly. Genesis 45:5 reads, “Do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you.” Joseph saw life through God’s perspective and felt no anger or malice.
“No matter what life throws at us, we can still bring forth the fruit of the Spirit!” Pastor Bobby asserted, encouraging the church to be more like Joseph in times of tribulation. He shared the testimony of CityWorship worship leader Chervelle Chua, who went for a scan during pregnancy and was told that her baby showed signs of having abnormalities. She and her husband were greatly discouraged, and her father would send her encouraging messages, Bible verses and pray for them, even though he was going through his own battle with cancer. Her father would remind her that God will make a way. Most recently, Chervelle went for another test, and it showed no trace of abnormality at all. Pastor Bobby reminded the church that they should not only love God in good times, but it is essential to love and trust God when bad things happen. Even more so for fathers, as their children and family will be watching how they react to bad news. Fathers can show their children how to see life through God’s eyes.
2. Live out the reality of God in your life
To bless their children, fathers must live out the reality of God in their own lives. “We can use our own life to influence others. People do not need a theory to live, they need a flesh-and-blood example,” noted the pastor.
To demonstrate his point, Pastor Bobby invited the church to place an “OK” sign on their chin while placing an “OK” sign on his own cheek. Most members of the church copied Pastor Bobby’s action. “People imitate what they see, not what they hear,” said the pastor, proving his point amidst laughter from the congregation. In order to influence his children to walk with God, fathers must first have their own walk with God and lead sincere and honest lives.
In the Bible, Jacob had many ups and downs in his relationship with the Lord: he was always competing with his brother Esau, and cheating to achieve success, wealth and power. In his earlier life, he had no concern for God, referring to God as the “God of Abraham” and “God of my father” (Gen 32) but not his God. However, his desire for God grew day by day, until he was lying down on his death bed, and called God “the hand of the Mighty One of Jacob”. This change in his perception of God impacted Joseph just like how a life impacts a life.
Pastor Bobby told the church the story of Chinese Service pastor Sun Ai Zhen. She grew up in Taiwan, in a family that faithfully attended church, rain or shine. After many years and under her parent’s influence, Pastor Ai Zhen felt a calling to leave a good job in Taiwan and come to Singapore to attend School of Theology (SOT). After SOT, she felt a calling to serve full time in CHC, but that meant that she had to leave her family behind. She made the decision to work in CHC and serve God. A few years ago, when her father fell ill, Pastor Ai Zhen move back to Taiwan to care for him, but two years later, at her father’s urging and assurance that God will take care him, she returned to Singapore to fulfil her calling. With every critical decision, Pastor Ai Zhen was reminded to live out the reality of God just like her dad had done, to revere God and to seek to do His will. In Song of Songs, the believer called out to God, “draw me away and we will run after you.” The congregation was reminded that one person’s breakthrough with God will impact other people’s lives. “Let us live out the reality of God in our life,” Pastor Bobby encouraged the church. “We can be each other’s blessings.”
3. Speak words of affirmation
The third blessing fathers can give to their children is to speak words of affirmation. When Jesus went into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil, as well as when He entered his final year before ascending, Father God affirmed Him by saying, “This is My beloved son in whom I am well pleased.” In the same way, Christian fathers should affirm their children. “Just as the Heavenly Father affirmed Jesus, he will affirm us too,” said Pastor Bobby, quoting Zephaniah 3:17, “…He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but he will rejoice over you in singing.”
Pastor Bobby recalled his first preaching experience: he was so nervous and preached so fast that no one understood what he was saying. He was disappointed and discouraged to the point of wanting to give up, when fellow pastor Choong Tsih Ming told him, “You are so clear when you pray—why don’t you preach like you pray?” After receiving such affirmation, Pastor Bobby continued to work hard and improve on his preaching. “Don’t give up!” he encouraged, noting that Jacob lost his son to slavery, only to be reunited with him 25 years later and give his final blessings to him before he died.
4. Set your heart on eternity
Lastly, Pastor Bobby reminded fathers to set their hearts on eternity. He drew reference to Jacob who blessed Joseph with “everlasting hills”, that is, eternal hills. He was setting Joseph’s heart on eternity and giving his son a vision of heaven. “Fathers are like priests, standing before God on behalf of their family,” the pastor explained, “No matter how far your children may have backslided from God, your prayer can make a difference!” He reminded the church of “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved – you and your household.” (Acts 16:31)
In closing, Pastor Bobby encouraged the church to have faith in God and believe for a breakthrough in their children.