In last weekend’s sermon, Pastor Kong Hee shared about Mary, the mother of Jesus; and five lessons on visions and dreams that Christians can learn from her life.
The Christmas story is about recreation. In the darkest time of the year, when everything was at its lowest point, the Holy Spirit came to bring light to the world, life through the birth of Jesus Christ, and reconcile mankind back to the love of the Heavenly Father.
“Where there is light, there is vision,” said Kong Hee, senior pastor of City Harvest Church as he began his sermon on the weekend of Dec 9 and 10. The Holy Spirit comes to give believers vision and dreams, and this was what happened on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:17).
Pastor Kong shared that the pursuit of visions and dreams is never an easy one, as seen in the story of Joseph the Dreamer, whose jealous brothers plotted to kill him. Thrown into a pit, and then sold as a slave to Potiphar, he had to be imprisoned before ending up as prime minister of Egypt. Many times, Joseph thought his dream was over; but through God’s providence, he learned that persistence brought promotion and purpose.
“You may feel that your dream has died, or you’re a victim to circumstances,” Pastor Kong said. “Your situation may be hopeless; but in God’s perspective, this is part of the process.”
Every vision and dream from God needs to die before a resurrection. “Your setback is a setup for your comeback,” he encouraged the church.
Sharing from the life of Mary and her dream of bringing the Son of God into the world, Pastor Kong laid out five lessons that believers could learn.
1. Get your Vision and Dream from God
Luke 1:26-28 records the visitation of the angel to Mary. Pastor Kong noted that not every vision and dream comes from God. A good vision draws believers closer to God while a carnal vision does the opposite.
“We must ask ourselves if our vision makes us more loving or more unloving,” Pastor Kong challenged the congregation. A true vision from God would not lead to comprising one’s values, unfaithfulness to spouse, and taking time away from God.
Another reason why the vision must come from God is because pursuing a dream involves risks, heartaches and suffering. For Mary, it caused her misunderstanding, embarrassment, and rejection. In Mary’s time, a young unwed woman with a child resulted in certain deaths.
Pastor Kong shared that God gave him and his wife, Sun the dream of building City Harvest Church 34 years ago. They needed the inner conviction that it was a rhema from God to pursue it, otherwise, they would have given up a long time ago when faced with difficulty.
“When your dream is a God idea and not just a good idea, you will have the special grace and strength to preserve through the hardship; to deny your comfort, take up the cross and follow Jesus,” Pastor Kong explained.
2. Ask God for a strategy
“To receive a heavenly dream, you need a spiritual encounter with God. And once you get the vision, you must ask the Lord how the vision will come to pass,” Pastor Kong reminded the congregation.
In Luke 1:34, Mary asked the angel “How will this be since I am a virgin?” The senior pastor noted that Mary was not doubting God. Rather, she was asking God how it would happen, so that she could move forward with His plans. Mary was willing, yearning and yielding; everything God looks for in His servant.
Pastor Kong shared the story that the late C. Peter Wagner once told him, about a struggling businessman in Kalimantan, Indonesia. The man was attending a church in need of a new sanctuary, and the Holy Spirit wanted him to sponsor the entire building project.
This man did not have much, except some family land in a jungle somewhere in Kalimantan that nobody wanted. He waited on the Lord for a strategy and was told to sit on it a little longer.
A little while later, a satellite report showed that this man’s land had 300 million tons of coal, but it was unprofitable for him to mine it. Asking the Lord once more, the man was told to wait once again. When China shut down half its coal mines, it caused a coal shortage worldwide.
South Korea then called the man, wanting to pay double of what the land originally cost. Concurrently, the man found that the land had one billion tons of coal. When the mining started, they discovered that the land also had oil. The Lord had greatly blessed this businessman, who had then made a profit of USD 450 million and underwrote the whole building project of the church.
3. Let the Holy Spirit lead and empower you
Speaking to those wondering if peace would ever come into their family, if their marriage would ever be restored, if their sickness and disease could be healed if they could shine for God in the marketplace, schools, and campuses, Pastor Kong said, “Let the Holy Spirit come upon you, let His power overshadow you (Lk 1:35).”
Reading from Isaiah 55:9, he reminded the church that God’s ways are higher, so they need to trust in Him to do the impossible; instead of depending on their cleverness and past experiences.
He went on to share the story of how many years ago, a new member of the church experienced a complicated pregnancy and delivered a baby who stopped breathing for 20 minutes, resulting in brain damage. The MRI scan showed that baby Avril would not be able to see, or speak and would most likely be paralysed in all four limbs. The cell group members of this couple began praying and believing for a miracle healing, and the cell group leader, Dawn Lee had permission to go into the intensive care unit to pray for Baby Avril.
Dawn prayed for God to do a creative miracle: to repair the baby’s brain, eyes, speech and all her limbs. True enough, the Holy Spirit miraculously healed the child. Within days, her limbs could move and her eyes could see. In a week, baby Avril was completely healed. Today, Avril is a happy and healthy 11-year-old.
“The Holy Spirit may be the third Person of the Trinity, but He is the first Person you experience when you encounter God,” Pastor Kong emphasised. “He is the reason you can sense God’s presence and feel Him so real and near to you.”
The Holy Spirit is not inferior to the Father and the Son in any way—He is our Helper, and Comforter, the power that heals and delivers, the one who gives peace to believers.
4. Have Faith in the Word of God
In Luke 1:36-37, the angel told Mary, “For no word from God will ever fail.”
Mary had faith in the Word of God. Unbelief repels and pushes God away, but He draws near to those who believe. “The Spirit and the Word must go together; the Word of God is inspired by the Spirit of God,” Pastor Kong expounded.
Living only by prophecy, sighting of angels and visions, or supernatural manifestations— without reading the Bible—will cause the believer to be flaky. On the other hand, those who only read the Bible and remain shut off to the Holy Spirit will become hardened in their hearts.
“Every dream that’s fulfilled is the manifestation of God’s Word in you,” Pastor Kong explained. “It’s the Sword of the Spirit, a rhema.”
5. Surrender to the Will of God
Reading from Luke 1:38, Pastor Kong explained, “Though God is supreme and sovereign, as a loving Father, He always honours your free will. Because His sovereignty is grounded in divine love, even though He has a great dream for your life, He will only move if you’re willing to move with Him.”
Loving God is to trust in Him. In every dream’s journey, there will be pain and hardship. Pastor Kong urged the congregation to fully surrender themselves to the will of God so that the dream inside them can grow. Even when there is no guarantee of getting what they want, God alone must be more than enough for them.
“God has not called us to a diminishing life—the vision and dream God has put inside you will keep growing and increasing,” Pastor Kong said.
Going back to the story of Mary, Pastor Kong noted that there would have been no Christmas story without Mary’s willingness to obey God and trust in Him. “What she carried inside her changed and saved the whole world,” he said.
LICENSING AND ORDINATION
Earlier in the service, the church saw the licensing of two new pastors, Johann Sim and Anson Ang, as well as the ordination of Pastor Lin Junxian.
“Licensing and ordination is a public recognition behind the church of God’s calling and anointing upon a leader to function in one of the fivefold ministry in the context of Ephesians 4:11,” Pastor Kong explained. “Because they are sacred offices, we only license and ordain men and women in accordance with biblical principles and qualifications.”
Pastor Lin Junxian oversees a zone of 27 cell group leaders and over 400 members. He is the pastoral oversight of CityWorship, as well as the audio and lighting ministries. He is also a regular lecturer at the School of Theology and serves as the president of the City Harvest Community Services Association. He is now ordained as a reverend in CHC.
Anson Ang is a teacher in Harvest Kidz, overseeing a zone of 18 visitation groups, consisting of 500 children. He is the ministry leader of Talking Hands, a ministry to the hearing-impaired. He is also in charge of the Church Without Walls ministry, +Able, providing care and support to people with physical disabilities. He is now licensed as an associate pastor of CHC.
Johann Sim is a pastoral supervisor who oversees a zone of 22 cell group leaders, and 450 members. He is the pastoral oversight for the greeters, dance, and interpretation ministries. He is also in charge of the CWW ministry, My Foreign Workers, reaching out to the migrant workers. He is now licensed as an associate pastor of CHC.