On Sunday 03 May 2020, District Apostle J Kriel conducted the Sunday morning divine service at the New Apostolic Church admin office.
He was accompanied by Bishop V Fisher and a small team from the admin office. This divine service was made available on NACTV, Cape Town TV on DSTV channel 263, as well as Radio KC, Radio Teemaneng and SABIE stereo. Members could also listen to the divine service by calling in from either a mobile phone or landline. This divine service was also streamed live on the NACTV Facebook page.
For members who were unable to watch the divine service, please find a detailed summary of the sermon:
Opening Hymn: Count your blessings (EH 177)
Bible word: And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house. (Luke 19; 9a)
My dear brothers and sisters, again, I thank you all for participating in this divine service. At the beginning of this pandemic, I thought that by now our lives would be back to normal. However, we realise that this is not possible and we understand the decisions made by our leaders. We happily abide by them for the benefit of our health, and the benefit of the health of everyone in our country, town, neighbourhood and in the world. We accept what we cannot change while remaining thankful that even under these circumstances we are able to gather. When we pray, and as the beautiful hymn rendered, we think of those who have tears. The message says God will wipe away all tears. In essence, He gave us permission to cry, and when does one cry? We cry when there are no more words. Sometimes, we are extremely happy, and when there are no words to express our happiness, our joy expresses itself in tears because words are just not sufficient. Now we think of many who cry out of sorrow, sadness, despair and those who are unable to feed their children – and that is sad. When you have no more words, that is when your tears speak for you. We do what we can to help and I am thankful for what happens in the many congregations, to alleviate hunger and suffering to help our neighbour. To you dear friend, I say thank you very much – do not stop if you can be part of wiping the tears away.
We are comforted as we sang in our opening hymn to ‘count our blessings’. Despite our circumstances, there is much to be thankful for and let us not forget this. When we start thinking of what we have, we have little space for what we do not have. We bow and thank our God for what He has done. There is no problem in telling Him what we need, and we do so. Let us start with a story out of the book of Luke. Just before Jesus goes to Bethany. He stopped over in Jericho. We hear a lot about Jericho in the Holy Scripture. We recall the story of the Good Samaritan. The one who was injured was on his way to Jericho. In Jericho lived a particular man, Zacchaeus. He was a rich tax collector. In fact, he was the chief tax-collector. He was a well-known man, but the people did not love him very much, because, in those days, the tax collectors collected more money than they should have. By the same token, they enriched themselves. Zacchaeus was no different, and everybody looked at him as a sinner. Zacchaeus knew that Jesus was passing through so he wanted to see Jesus. There was another problem though. Zacchaeus was a short man, and there would be a big crowd, meaning he would not be able to see Jesus. Zacchaeus had a great desire to see Jesus. Like a little boy, he went ahead of the crowd and he climbed up into a sycamore tree. Jesus passed that tree on His way, He looked up and called Zacchaeus by his name. Zacchaeus did not expect this. Jesus told Zacchaeus to come down from the tree and said to him that He wished to come to his home. He immediately went home and welcomed Jesus. This must have been a great meeting, something beautiful.
Whoever met Jesus was not the same afterwards. Here and there some people may not have changed. Zacchaeus was looked upon as a sinner by the people, therefore they were unhappy. How could Jesus go to the home of a sinner? Jesus knew what Zacchaeus had done, but Jesus came for all – the saint and the sinner, the rich and the poor. We do not often hear of a rich man coming to repentance. Salvation is for all so when Zacchaeus allowed Jesus to influence him, he stood up and made a public statement to Jesus and all those around him. He promised to give half his wealth to the poor and where he had taken from one or the other unlawfully, he would restore it to them fourfold. This was his commitment and repentance, not just in word but also in deed. When he gave half of his wealth, he had to make do with a lot less. This he did quite happily, and he restored to those whom he had wronged.
In order for Jesus to enter the home of Zacchaeus, He had to physically go there. Jesus was true God and true Man, and to Zacchaeus, He went as a true Man. Jesus went to have an encounter with him, and we have heard how blessed the encounter was. Today, the message for all of us is that salvation has come to this house. Today, salvation has come to your house. Jesus has resurrected, and His body is no longer subjected to the laws of human nature. John 20:19 references this; ‘then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut and where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews – Jesus came and stood in the midst and said to them “Peace be with you.” He was not governed by a human nature so, the message to all today is that salvation has come to this house. Let us learn from this man Zacchaeus, who was called a sinner. He had the inner desire, he wanted to see Jesus and his desire to see Jesus was greater than all the obstacles that were put in his way. If we want salvation to come in our home, let us eliminate all the obstacles in our way so that we can see Jesus. Can we see Jesus even in the time that we are today? Can we see His hand of blessing? Can we see His love? Can we see His guidance? Obstacles will always be in the way to prevent us from seeing Jesus but like Zacchaeus, do not allow obstacles to deter us.
When Jesus noticed Zacchaeus, Jesus called him by name. He knows your name too. Jesus knows us all and it is His intention to give salvation to all. Today He wants to come into our house and into our hearts so that we can be blessed. If we want salvation to come into our house today, we have to welcome the Lord like Zacchaeus welcomed Jesus into his home. When Jesus calls, we should leave everything and listen to what He wants us to do. Zacchaeus had to do was to humble himself so that Jesus could influence and teach him. Zacchaeus had to climb from the tree to experience the encounter with Jesus. Therefore, for salvation to come into our house, we need to humble ourselves because Jesus is here. We want to see Him, we want to feel His presence and we want to experience the same blessing as Zacchaeus.
I am convinced that Zacchaeus did not hide his mistakes and failings from Jesus. When Jesus came into the home of Zacchaeus, he took off his mask that hid his failings. Many of us wear masks in that we create impressions. However, when we have an opportunity to be in the midst of Jesus, and when He says salvation has come into this house, we want to remove our masks and bare our faults and mistakes so that when we come into the presence of God, tell Him how you are. Tell Him your concerns, anxiety and thankfulness. Remove that mask. He will embrace and love you.
Once Jesus entered his house, Zacchaeus was never the same again. Jesus comes into our homes today. Do we utilize this encounter so that we can also say salvation has come here? Salvation from sin and from fault and salvation to be with Him in His kingdom. Today allow the effects of Jesus’ visit to be seen. Allow the visit to bring about a renewal as a result of your encounter with Jesus Christ. This can happen to all. Remember, He knows your name. Jesus performed miracles and those who were blind could see, those who were deaf and could not walk were healed. Lazarus was dead, and after Jesus intervened, He was alive. These were all miracles to do with the body, but the change, and the miracle that took place in Zacchaeus, that went with him into eternity. He became a follower of Christ and his old ways was no more – he did what Jesus taught him. He allowed himself to be influenced by Jesus and this miracle takes place today too. Allow Jesus to do His work in us, so that it can be said about all of us: indeed, salvation has come to our house. Dear brothers, dear sisters, let us allow Jesus to come, that we can say salvation has come to me.
We have a sincere desire to celebrate Holy Communion, but it is not given to us. We can be forgiven, and the Lord our God wants to forgive us now. Like Zacchaeus, we want to be strong and be influenced by Jesus and receive it out of the hand of our Lord. Then we are renewed and no longer the same. We are able to say: salvation has come to my house. Salvation has come to my heart and to my life as a result of the activity of our Lord Jesus. Like Zacchaeus, let us forgive others as Jesus taught. We shall be strong and walk on the way which Jesus has placed before us. Amen.
Please pray the Lord’s prayer.
Thoughts from District Apostle JL Kriel