In the first multiple service weekend of this season, City Harvest Church Pastor Bobby Chaw preached about living a life in Christ and in the Spirit, while Pastor Lee Yi Lun taught the church how to be a person after God’s heart.
The Christian life is essentially life in Christ and in the Holy Spirit. The more Christians allow the Holy Spirit to empower them to live righteous life every single day, the more they will reign in life, as CHC’s senior pastor Kong Hee has previously preached.
CHC’s five weekends of multiple services began last weekend (15 and 16 Jul) with Executive Pastor Bobby Chaw and Pastor Lee Yi Lun, who built on Pastor Kong’s theme in their sermons.
PASTOR BOBBY ON PRAYER: THE PRACTICE TO ABIDE IN CHRIST AND WALK IN THE SPIRIT
Pastor Bobby began his sermon by recalling Pastor Kong’s sermon on life in Christ and in the Spirit—the more deeply one abides in Christ and in the Spirit, the more he is brought into an everlasting deepening union with God.
The pastor explained that such abiding begins with prayer. “In the four Gospels, you always find Jesus praying. To Him, praying was like breathing. You can’t walk in the Spirit without a consistent prayer life,” he said, going on to teach three things that believers can learn from Jesus’ life of prayer.
1. Prayer precedes ministry
In John 11, Jesus came to Bethany where many were mourning the death of Lazarus alongside his sisters Mary and Martha. Jesus told the people to roll the stone away from the tomb. Before he called Larazus out of the tomb, He first prayed and thanked God.
Pastor Bobby highlighted Jesus’ prayer in verse 41: “Father, I thank you that you have heard me”. He explained that prior to His arrival, before the miracle happened and ministry took place, Jesus first prayed.
“Ministry or work without prayer has no power; it is ineffective,” Pastor Bobby expounded. “Those who pray the most will accomplish the most.”
He gave the example of the late Dr Yonggi Cho, the man who built the world’s largest church, Yoido Full Gospel Church in South Korea. Dr Cho once said, “Many times, we Christians are so busy doing God’s work that we have no time to pray and fellowship with God. Ministry unto the Lord must come before ministry to the people—you must serve God first in prayer, then the people.”
In 1964, when the church grew to 3,000 members, people demanded much of Dr Cho’s time for counselling and visitation. With no time for prayer and reading the Word, he pondered whether he should serve the people ahead of God or to put God first. Ultimately, he decided to put God first.
Though questioned and threatened by many members, Dr Cho decided that he would not stop them if they wanted to leave, and he would not change his behaviour. After all, he was called to serve God first, not the people. In the end, the same people who threatened to leave brought more people to church. Dr Cho attributed it to his time spent with God. “It is because I ministered to them by the power of God. If you have power in God, naturally, you’ll have power with people. Therefore, give God ample time and serve God first in prayer,” Dr Cho said.
To be effective in ministry, prayer is crucial. Pastor Bobby gave an example from the book of Acts. The first thing that the disciples did after Jesus’ ascension to heaven was to join in constant prayer. When the Holy Spirit came on the day of Pentecost, 3,000 people were saved through the power of one sermon. The new believers’ first devotion was to prayer and that helped the early church grow rapidly despite persecution and challenges.
“This must be our story,” Bobby challenged the congregation. “Don’t let busyness and challenges stop you from a life of prayer. Don’t allow complacency and distraction to rob you of your time with the Lord.”
2. Prayer deepens fellowship
In Luke 9:18, the disciples joined Jesus to pray. Though Jesus often prayed alone, He would also pray with His disciples. While He loved to fellowship with His disciples over meals, it was through prayer that communion and intimacy were birthed forth.
‘The place of agreement in prayer is the place of power,’ Pastor Bobby said, reading Matthew 18:19. This explained why when the early church prayed, a revival was constantly happening even in the midst of persecution.
The pastor shared a verse from an old hymn “Every Stormy Wind That Blows” that expressed his point well: “There is a place when spirits blend, where friend holds fellowship with friend; though sundered far, by faith they meet, around one common mercy seat.”
He told the story of a couple in his zone who were appointed cell group leaders over a group of long-time Christians. These long-time Christians had heard many sermons and were so familiar with the church that the new cell group leaders felt intimidated. Furthermore, the members had many commitments in life and that made it difficult for the whole cell group to connect.
The couple decided to gather their members to pray every fortnight. At times only a few would show up, but they steadfastly continued to meet and pray for each other’s needs. Gradually, the members began to show concern and connected with each other.
Within a year, the cell group grew from 15 to 25 members and even met to fellowship on their own. “Prayer is something other activities can’t achieve; hearts are knitted when people come together,” said Pastor Bobby concluding his testimony.
He encouraged married couples to pray together and parents to pray with their children to build deeper bonds. He also urged cell group members to not allow distance or busyness to stop them from praying together.
3. Prayer is the space where God speaks
Pastor Bobby directed the church to John 12, where Jesus prayed in the middle of a crowd. A voice spoke from heaven and the crowd who heard it said it had thundered, while others said an angel had spoken to Him.
The pastor pointed out that when Jesus prayed, the Father spoke. This happened frequently throughout Jesus’ ministry. It happened when Jesus was baptised at the Jordan River, and it happened again at the Mount of Transfiguration. A voice would come from the cloud when Jesus prayed—this showed that prayer is the place where God speaks.
However, when the crowd heard the voice of God in John 12, they could not recognise it. Similarly, many Christians cannot recognise the voice of God and mistakenly believe that He is not speaking.
In today’s society, a person’s ear is much more accustomed to the voices of this natural world, like social media influencers, tabloid news and the crowd chatter, yet Jesus said in John 10, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.”
The only way to become followers of Christ is to recognise His voice. “As such, we must train our ears to hear the voice of our Shepherd and to listen to the leading of the Spirit,” the pastor taught.
Pastor Bobby then recounted a story from his time in secondary school. He had gone to a swimming club with his friends after school, and was in the sauna when he heard his father’s voice. When he opened the sauna, lo and behold, he saw his father. The pastor explained that he could recognise his father’s voice even without seeing him, because he had been hearing it for years and was sensitised to it. “Similarly, we ought to sensitise our ears to our Heavenly Father. And when he speaks, we will recognise his voice.”
The key to doing that is in Psalms 1:2, which reads, ‘But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law, he meditates day and night.’ The Bible expresses God’s thoughts, plans, desires and voice in written form. The more one studies and meditates on the Word, the more they’ll learn to recognise God’s voice speaking to them. “Take time to meditate, memorise and pray scriptures,” Pastor Bobby taught. “And when we do so, we are training our spiritual sense to hear God.”
He recounted a time when his son’s battalion had to spend days in the jungle for a military exercise. The pastor would pray and declare Psalm 91 over his son’s life and the whole battalion, claiming “no evil shall befall you nor shall any plague come near you” among other things.
Little did he know that his son’s battalion had several close shaves, but in the end, there were no accidents. Was it a coincidence or was it the voice of God prompting him to pray for that situation?
In conclusion, Pastor Bobby urged the church to give God space to speak to them, to acknowledge Him in prayer, and God will direct their path. As the sermon ended, the pastor also took time to teach the congregation how to pray through the Scriptures.
PASTOR LEE YI LUN: WHAT IT MEANS TO BE A MAN AFTER GOD’S HEART
At the start of her sermon, Pastor Yi Lun noted the importance of pausing to reflect on the things that truly matter in life. She then introduced King David, whose life’s pursuit was God.
Reading Acts 13:22, the pastor pointed out that David was a man after God’s heart. This means that what was important to God was important to David and he would hear God’s voice clearly and obey quickly.
The pastor noted that when God first said that David was a man after His heart, David was only 15 (1 Sam 13). One does not need to be a Bible scholar or church leader to be a person after God’s heart—even at a young age, David was determined to make God his first priority.
She went on to share two qualities David had that Christians should develop:
1. We must have a hunger for God’s presence
“That is the first thing we must have, in order for us to experience the life in Christ and the life in the Spirit,” Pastor Yi Lun declared.
Before he became king, David was first a worshipper. He wrote two-thirds of the Book of Psalms and those verses reflect David’s intense desire for God. The pastor gave the example of Psalm 63, which was written when David was running away from King Saul. In those difficult moments, David was desperately seeking after God, longing for more of His presence.
“My question for all of us here is this: how hungry and thirsty are we for God?” the pastor posed.
Physically, when something is wrong with the body, one loses one’s appetite. Similarly, when something is wrong with a person’s spiritual life, they become too busy and no longer have the desire to attend church. In the same way junk food ruins one’s appetite for healthy meals, a too-packed schedule can ruin one’s appetite for the things of God.
She urged the church not to stop at encountering God once in a church setting, but to continually cultivate a deeper spiritual hunger for Him.
Pastor Yi Lun shared that when her children were young, life was demanding and she struggled to find time to pray. During those exhausting days, the one thing she did right was to hunger after God.
She would pray and worship God in the middle of the night after her children had gone to bed. Those hours of prayer and surrender before God helped her grow stronger in God and cultivated her deeper spiritual hunger for God.
She encouraged the church to yearn after God no matter what they are going through because only God can truly satisfy them. Some of them may need to go through a season of changing their lifestyles to cultivate that hunger for God again. It could be to give up certain forms of entertainment, or to slow down their pace in life to that they can spend time with the Lord.
“We need to decide today that we want to intentionally set time aside for God,” the pastor preached.
2. We must have a hunger for God’s righteousness
“While David was not perfect, he had a heart that longed to walk in God’s righteousness,” Pastor Yi Lun said, quoting Psalm 15:1-2. “If you want to know God and abide in God, then we have to walk blameless and practice what is right—in speech, in action, and in the treatment of others.”
She gave an example of what David did when an opportunity arose for him to kill King Saul, his enemy. Knowing that Saul was anointed by God, David chose to do the right thing and restrain himself. The pastor then asked the church if they would do the same, to speak and act with integrity even when no one else was watching.
However, Pastor Yi Lun noted that God is not looking for perfect people. Instead, He is looking for people who hunger after His righteousness and desire to glorify God in their actions.
David was far from perfect. While his army was out on the battlefield fighting for his kingdom, he was in his palace resting. He even committed adultery with Bathsheba, the wife of his loyal soldier, Uriah. Upon knowing that Bathsheba was pregnant, he started to spin a web of lies and eventually ordered the murder of Uriah.
Why then would God call David a man after His own heart when David committed such a terrible sin? “The key is David’s genuine repentance,” the pastor taught.
“I have sinned” were the three words David uttered when Prophet Nathan confronted his sins. Pastor Yi Lun pointed out that there were others, like Pharaoh and King Saul, who uttered the same words, but only David meant what he said. After Pharaoh said those words, he went on to pursue the children of Israel, refusing to let them leave Egypt.
For King Saul, he said those words only after making excuses for his behaviour (1 Sam 13). The prophet Samuel confronted him on his disobedience after he had offered sacrifices as a king. Later on, he disobeyed God again when he spared the king and livestock after a victorious battle. On both occasions, King Saul refused to admit his mistakes. He only apologised so as to not incur the wrath of the prophet and of God.
David, on the other hand, was quick to demonstrate godly sorrow. He acknowledged that his action affected his relationship with God. “Beyond our success, our ministry, our jobs, the most important is our relationship with God,” Pastor Yi Lun taught.
While King David’s sins were more severe than Saul’s, he showed genuine repentance (Ps 51:1-4). He recognised that his sin was an attack on God and that it grieved Him. Instead of making excuses, he knew that God is just and blameless.
In v10-12, David went on to ask God to renew his heart. Pastor Yi Lun noted that David did not pray for his sexual struggle, because “in general, people get into sexual sin because they don’t have the fullness of joy and satisfaction in Christ.”
Reading v16-17, Pastor Yi Lun preached that God wanted David to be broken in His grace, and to have a heart that was totally surrendered to Him. “Brokenness is always related to spiritual hunger and a life transformed in God,” she said.
In James 4:8, God promised to draw near to His people when they draw near to Him. But v5 continues to remind believers to purify their hearts. “We don’t just hunger after God, but we have to daily desire to walk in His righteousness to cleanse our hands and to purify our hearts. This how we should live as followers of Christ,” she concluded.
Despite his mistakes, David went on to serve the purpose of God in His generation. This is vastly different from Saul who started as a king that was perfect outwardly but was filled with pride on the inside.
In closing, Pastor Yi Lun assured the church that God loves them and is always fighting for them, and encouraged them by reminding them that they can decide to be like David, to be a person after God’s own heart.