District Apostle J Kriel conducted a divine service in Dinwiddie on Thursday 14 February 2019. With all church activities currently suspended until further notice, the broadcast was made available on Wednesday 29 April at 7 pm for all members to watch.
For members who were unable to watch the divine service, please find a detailed summary of the sermon:
Opening Hymn: Come, everyone, and join our song (EH 365)
Bible word: Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away. (1 Corinthians 13:8-10)
My dear brothers and sisters, the theme of the choir is just so beautiful, and you wouldn’t believe this beautiful connection between our Bible word and the opening hymn of the choir, and, it’s just so nice that we can see this beautiful bond and this beautiful connection in that which happens, and our Bible word says love never fails. We, as followers of God, want to ensure that we have that love which has been shed abroad in our heart when we were sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit.
But here the Apostle Paul says, everything that we do is really inadequate – we know so little. We know nothing of its fullness because that God knows. And when that day dawns then everything will be complete. But today, we must be satisfied, because, do we know God’s ways? Do we know everything about Him? No, in fact, we know so little because the human mind is too inadequate to really understand the ways of God and His nature. In fact, it’s not possible to understand it and that’s why we need faith. Without faith, it is impossible to please God, so we need to believe – that’s important. We need to believe and to allow the Holy Spirit to deepen our knowledge and understanding so that we are able to go into the depths of God. When I was a child, everything was easy – all that I knew I needed to do was to be baptised and sealed – and come what may, I would be going to heaven and that’s all I needed to know at that time. But now you understand that worthiness for the Lord’s day is not that simple. We need to get to know God – we need to understand Him. As much as we will never know Him in His fullness, we need to understand. Here, Paul, in his wisdom, says to us in the 11th verse of this chapter: when I was a child I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. And when I read this and prepared for the divine service, I saw my principal at the high school – whenever we had assembly, that’s all he read to us. And here, Paul describes our spiritual transition, he explains and he uses this analogy of moving from childhood to adulthood. Here is the path that he describes for us that when you are a child you understand as a child. And as a child, we understood many things in a particular way. But when we grew and became an adult then our understanding deepened. This also applies to our life of faith. If we think of our understanding of sacrifice and offering - I think back to when I was younger. I was taught that if we offer, God will bless you with a wife, car and a good job – but when I grew up, when we grew up, our understanding grew because now we no longer have the understanding of a child. Now we realise that we bring our offering to God because he has already blessed us and we didn’t deserve it. He has already given; and out of our thankfulness to Him, we come to bring our offering to Him. This doesn’t mean that we don’t offer anymore, but now we offer with more understanding. Our understanding developed so that we bring our thankfulness to God.
Do you remember how we used to understand something? As a young brother who was going to be ordained a sub-deacon, it was the belief that a brother cannot be ordained if they have a moustache. And when members came to church and saw the brothers who were clean-shaven, they knew they were going to be ordained. This was a sort of understanding among members. Remember when women couldn’t wear slacks? I will never forget that – the only conversation was about the sister who came with her slacks to church. And I remember telling the people that everyone is talking about her wearing slacks to church, but I am convinced that the sister is talking about the service. When I was a child; I thought like one. But now these things don’t bother us – now we focus on the real issues on becoming worthy. And we need to know the important part of the development in God’s work – the important part being: God is love. And we need to know that. Because we often thought that God is just this hard judge and that He was going to punish you. You know, I was so indoctrinated as a child that when I knocked my toe, I thought I must have done something wrong. But no, God is love – don’t forget that dear brothers and sisters. And that’s what Paul wants to say to us. All these other things are irrelevant. Come see the whole picture and know that it’s not the end of the story. That beautiful day is waiting for us, and His love will provide for us. And so, as we go and move with this transition that we only understand God’s ways and His nature inadequately. As Paul says: when I was a child; and we go a little bit further we often don’t realise what God does for us. if we can only imagine the invisible host of angels that support Him, and how He protects and preserves us. Sometimes, in hindsight, we see a little bit, and we come to the conclusion that it could only be God’s hand that guided me. So often it happens. How did we become believers and followers of Christ? That’s another example of how God guides us – of how people met our parents and we’ve got no logical explanation for it. And then we put it down to the ways of God. He brought us here, and He still keeps us here. Have you ever thought about what must happen when a divine service must take place? God can command us; He can tell us what to do, but He doesn’t. He lovingly encourages; He lovingly invites. So much had to happen in order for divine services to take place, and God still continues to do so much for us – don’t forget that – because we tend to, sometimes, see only a picture that we want to see. But we must remain thankful that so many people sacrifice their time for the benefit of God’s work because someone loves God, and God loves us all. So dear brothers and sisters, we focus so that we don’t conclude on half a story. The Lord God will provide the whole story. You know, we sing in one of our hymns, not the half have I been told. And maybe this is the story – we only know half the story. And sometimes, we wonder so much about the half that we don’t know. But remember, the half we do know; remember the path you do know is: God loves us. And we sometimes worry too much about the part that we do not know and forget to focus on the part that we actually know – that yes, God does love me, and He does love my neighbour and He wants to give me His kingdom. And so, dear brothers and sisters, as we go through life we want to develop the understanding of what God does for us.
And you know, sometimes, we also forget what God does for us. Can we remember how many sins of ours He forgave? I am too ashamed. I think our minds and our number system is too small. But He forgave us. Do we know how many times he answered our prayers when we pleaded with Him? He came, and He helped us and we tend to forget. I think it was the disciples; they just experienced the miracle of Him feeding the thousands, and then they were on the boat and they forgot that they just saw this great miracle. They forgot. Let us not forget what He has done and how He has intervened for us. We must also remember how He has intervened to comfort those who we have hurt, those who we have caused problems, those who we have caused to question their faith. We are truly thankful to Him, and we do not want to forget His love. And even if we do forget that we must know that our God loves us to the extent that He forgives us every time we come. And He wants to help and carry us. As the Apostle says, we often only see a portion of things. How unequipped are we to actually judge our neighbour? We cannot judge, but we do because we only see one portion. Let’s not forget, God knows my neighbour; my brother and my sister much better than I do. He knows my neighbour’s past and future. He knows when he or she becomes burdened. He knows the remorse. He knows the guilt of the mistake so I cannot judge him or her. And sometimes, we fall into that trap because I only know a small portion. You know, I often say the judges, they get it wrong and they studied for a long time. I didn’t study the law at all, and here I decide if the person is guilty or not guilty even when I only see a headline. When I see my brother and sister; let’s not judge them. And we say yes we don’t do that, but it’s so automatic. I remember there was a sister who always came to divine service just before the sermon commenced. People judged her for coming late until someone asked her, and she said she would really like to come to church earlier but her husband didn’t come to church, in fact, on a Saturday night he was out partying, and he was drunk in bed on a Sunday. She had to battle with her 3 children to get them to church. Despite her struggles, she still used to thank the Lord for allowing her to get to church before the service started. Can we understand? We know so little. But we are so quick to judge. We see the mistakes in our neighbours and we are quick to jump on the bandwagon, and we say: but how could they? What is important for us to know so that we can get the whole story? God loves Him; God loves her in spite of the faults and failings, just as He loves me in spite of my faults and my failings. And He wants to give me His kingdom. As much as He wants to give me salvation, He wants to give it to my neighbour as well. We need to delve a bit deeper into the knowledge of God. We want to know God a little bit more; as much as we will never be perfect, but we need to know Him, in relation to us and to our neighbour that we are able to understand God’s ways. Sometimes we cry; sometimes we are hurt. But remember, the message we take today: God loves me. Don’t forget that. It’s not always evident for the child to see the love of the mother or the father, but they do. And they have their child’s interest at heart. And so, we know, we are inadequate to look at our neighbour. We are sometimes inadequate to see what God has done for us and what He still does for us. And we know about this transition from spiritual childhood to spiritual adulthood. We also want to understand that we sometimes don’t see the full function of the church established by Jesus: the church of Christ to help us upon our way. He knows the church’s past, present and future. And here, in the church, He is here. He blesses us, here He forgives us, here He strengthens us as a community that together we are able to grow, mature and know that our God loves us here too. He says to us that if we want to stay by Him, He will stay by us, and no one will take you out of His hand because He loves us. And, what is the first few words? Love never fails. And the love of God is pure, it is great. And so, we also don’t understand so much our future. But the little bit that we do know we believe – we know that God knows the future. And it’s God intention to give us His kingdom. It is His intention to provide for us. We do not know the details of what is going to change, but we know we will be with Him. As we grow and develop, and as our church and community develops, we grow with Jesus. Remember, when Jesus came to earth, He also had to do many things, and people thought they were pleasing God and doing His will.
God’s love must saturate us. Love and forgiveness are often described as weaknesses. But if you want to call me weak because I love then be my guest. That’s what they said of Jesus. We used to think that the Lord would punish those who are nasty to us. Is that love? No. Jesus said: Lord forgive them, for they know not what they do. Sometimes, we don’t say anything, but if people rob us we say; don’t worry they will lose much more than what was stolen. Even that needs to stop. We need to allow Jesus nature to become our nature. Because when He comes, when that day dawns, then our love for Him will be perfect and we will live in perfect harmony with Him. Nothing will separate us again. We want to strive towards that; love never fails. If what we do is not out of love then it doesn’t matter if we give our life. Dear brothers and sisters, I think the message is clear: we don’t understand everything, but don’t stop, know the important things: God loves me, He loves my neighbour, He loves everybody and He wants to give us His kingdom. And His love will become complete and we can experience His kingdom so that we can be with Him forever and God’s love will come to perfection within all of us. Amen.