On Sunday 16 August 2020, Apostle Peter Thompson conducted the morning divine service at Silvertown congregation. This divine service was conducted in English and interpreted into South African Sign Language at the altar.
He was accompanied by Community Evangelist Jason Smal, a small music ensemble and the NACTV crew. 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: The Father's house is our delight (EH:108)
Bible word: “I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress; My God, in Him I will trust.” Psalm 91:2
My dear brothers and sisters, a hearty welcome to our divine service. We are always happy to gather in fellowship – the fellowship in Christ. In our opening hymn, we sang ‘The Father’s house is our delight’, and despite circumstances; we cannot gather in God’s house anymore, we cannot gather in fellowship, despite that, the Father’s house remains our delight. We gather in many places today – in homes and wherever you are. And may it be that at every venue; every place that we gather, that every place becomes a house of God so that we can experience wonderful delight, wonderful joy, wonderful heavenly moments in which our God will speak to us.
I have read a word out of Psalm 91. Now, it’s not quite clear who wrote Psalm 91, but most scholars agree that Psalm 91 was written by Moses and I find that quite interesting. And this Psalm, in particular the Bible word I read, here the Psalmist confirms his absolute trust in God. And these words in our Bible word are a powerful statement of faith. If one were to define what faith is: faith is absolute and complete trust in God. And in the verses that follow, the Psalmist describes the various trials and tribulations which could befall one and how God is present in each situation and how He helps. And then in the last verses of the Psalm, from verses 14-16, there the Psalmist articulates God’s response to those that trust Him. I advise you to read the Psalm; it is a beautiful Psalm about the absolute trust in God and how He responds to our trust in Him.
Dear brothers and sisters, the message our heavenly Father wants to write into our hearts today is very simple: we trust our God no matter what. That is the message. We all know that Jesus Christ was true Man and true God. And as true Man, He was not spared of the struggles of earthly life; He had to endure the human condition to its fullest extent. And just as we are children of God, as believing Christians, we are not spared from the struggles of earthly life. Sometimes it may feel as if we should be spared from the struggles, maybe I must have an easier ride. You know, the thought might be that I am faithful; I try to live a God-fearing life; I pray; I go to church, so maybe things must be a bit easier for me. Dear brothers and sisters, we have to endure the human condition just as Jesus had to do. We have to endure, injustice disappointment, hardships, sorrow. We often have to endure and suffer because of evil. Sometimes, we even become victims of evil. We sometimes have to live difficult and turbulent times, as is the case right now, we are going through the coronavirus pandemic, it is a difficult time and we are not spared of it. When we endure these trials and tribulations it often results in anxiety; there’s fear, there is a sense of uncertainty and maybe a sense of foreboding of what is going to happen in the future.
I am reminded of one of the hymns we sing ‘in times like these we need an anchor’, and that is so true. The Psalmist in our Bible word, he makes it very clear who his anchor is, and he makes it very personal. He could have said that God is a refuge, He is a fortress, but he says so clearly: “I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress; My God, in Him I will trust.” That’s beautiful – that is a powerful statement – I say this, My God, I will trust in Him. And dear brothers and sisters, let us also make a personal choice today: no matter what comes my way, no matter what other people say or do, I trust my God – He is my refuge, my place of safety and security. He is my source of strength and He is the one I depend upon; He is my fortress. Dear brothers and sisters, let us make that decision today: I trust my God and I depend upon Him; He remains my fortress and my refuge.
When we trust God completely in all circumstances, then we are at peace. We display a calm faith because we know our times are in the hands of the Lord. We do not need to fear. The Psalmist in Psalm 23 says: “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me.” That will be our attitude because we don’t need to fear; our God is with us. And our attitude will be as the hymn: “Just as God leads me I would go, I would not ask to choose my ways. Content with what He will bestow, assured He will not let me stray.” I strongly advise you to read this hymn, hymn 247 in the English hymnal – it is a beautiful confirmation of our trust in God and the attitude we display when we trust God in this way.
Dear brothers and sisters, why can we trust our God? A fundamental reason why we can trust our God is given by David in Psalm 9 where it reads: “…those who know Your name will put their trust in You.” Those who know God will trust in Him. And we know our God; we know Him very well. Jesus Christ was God incarnate; God that took on flesh. And through Him, we came to know God as He truly is. And today, in our time, the Holy Spirit teaches us to know God more and more. We know our God. We know God the Father. He is love. He is a loving Father who tends to and cares for His children. He is perfect because everything He wishes and wills He does, and what He does is perfect. Our God, He wants our salvation and He will complete the work He has begun in us. Why should we not trust Him? We know God the Son. He is love. And He has given proof of His love by sacrificing His life for all of mankind. He is perfect and he brought the perfect sacrifice to free us from the bondage of sin. That is God the Son – we know Him. God the Son wants to deliver us from sin permanently, and He wants to give us eternal life. Why should we not trust Him? We know Him. We know God the Holy Spirit – He is love dear brothers and sisters. It is the Holy Spirit’s mission to fill us with divine strength, love and wisdom. And with this divine strength, He fills us with what we need to overcome sin and evil. With this divine love He gives and fills us with, we can love God above all and our neighbour as ourselves. And with this Godly wisdom that He fills us with we can make decisions that can serve to our blessing and salvation. Through the activity of the Holy Spirit, we receive God’s word and the sacraments which are indispensable for our salvation. Why should we not trust God the Holy Spirit?
When we trust God, we also trust in His ways and that which comes from Him. That is a natural progression – we trust God so we trust His ways and that which comes from Him. When we trust God, we trust in His love. Let’s face it, there are times where we don’t understand God’s ways and we want things to unfold differently. There are times when we call for God’s help and He doesn’t provide the help in a way that we expect Him to provide it. In these situations, we sometimes wonder if God really loves us. We pray and we ask Him to give us something and He doesn’t give it; He doesn’t provide our wishes. Let us then remember that His purpose is not to fulfil all our earthly wishes. Because He loves us, He wants to give us eternal life and share eternal fellowship with us – that is His purpose. Out of His love, He wants to give us eternal life and wants to have eternal fellowship with us. Let us remember that.
When we trust God, we trust in the salvation plan He has put in place for mankind. And what is the salvation plan of God? It is the gospel of Jesus Christ. Dear brothers and sisters let us trust the gospel of Jesus and let us accept it unconditionally. When we trust God we trust His plan for us. And when we trust the gospel, we will live the gospel. We will strive daily to overcome sin and evil and to live a life in Christ. When we trust God, we trust in the efficacy and the teaching of the Holy Spirit in the church of Christ. We trust fully that through the activity of the Holy Spirit in the sacraments, Godly power is unleashed. And that for the believer upon whom those holy acts are performed the way to salvation is opened. That we trust – we trust in the activity of the Holy Spirit. By receiving the sacraments, we have become children of God and part of His work of salvation. Let us diligently strive to make our calling and election sure. We trust in the word and teaching brought to us by the Holy Spirit through imperfect servants. Let us trust in that word; let us trust in that teaching because we believe that the teaching brought to us today is inspired by the Holy Spirit. We know that, through this teaching, God performs a perfect work upon the believers who accept that word in faith. And because of this trust, we will strive to be doers of the word and apply the words in our lives daily. I don’t know how many services you have attended in your lifetime; I have attended many. The question I ask today of all of us is: have we really become doers of the word? Because if we have, the word of God will change us and have we changed? Have we become more Christ-like? Dear brothers and sisters let us do introspection and ask what has the word of God done for me.
When we trust God, we trust in His promises. For us today this promise is one given by Jesus Christ that He would return and He would take us unto Himself so that we can inherit His kingdom. That is the greatest promise for us. Dear brothers and sisters, Jesus warns us and the Holy Spirit reminds us always that He could return at any time. Jesus said that He will come at a moment when we do not expect. The Holy Spirit constantly reminds us that the Lord is coming. You know, we can’t go to church anymore, we can’t do what we normally did in the past, we can’t serve the Lord as we did, we cannot gather in fellowship anymore. Dear brothers and sisters, the pandemic has not suspended the work of salvation; it has not put on hold God’s plan. He has promised He will come and He will come; we believe in that and we trust in that promise. And even in this time, let us hold onto that. If we trust in the Lord’s promise, we will utilise every day to wait and prepare ourselves for His return – no day will go to waste. I often say that when one wakes up in the morning ones first thoughts should be that maybe the Lord will come today. When you go sleep at night maybe the last thought should be that maybe the Lord comes tonight. There’s that expectation, that waiting and preparation that the Lord is coming. Let us trust in His promises and let us respond accordingly.
So, dear brothers and sisters, in conclusion, no matter what adversity we have to encounter on the path of life and faith, let us not lose our trust in God. The end of those who trust in God is always blessed. Against all odds, David trusted God when he faced the giant Goliath. The end was blessed. Against all odds, Moses trusted God when in front of him was the Red Sea and at the back was the Pharaoh’s army. The end was blessed. In Hebrews, the writer says very clearly: “…do not cast away your confidence which has great reward.” Dear brothers and sisters, let us hold onto our trust in God, our trust will be richly rewarded. Already here on earth it will be rewarded. We have experienced God’s help. We experience wonderful spiritual blessings and we make wonderful experiences of faith. We experience spiritual growth, and that is how our trust in God will be rewarded here on earth. But the greatest reward will be the crown of eternal life which we will receive at the return of Jesus Christ, so hold onto the trust. Let us hold onto the message of today: we trust our God no matter what, and our trust will be richly rewarded.
So to summarise our divine service, firstly, all of us have to endure trials and tribulations. Let us make a personal choice and decision that no matter what comes my way in life, I will trust my God; He will remain my fortress and my refuge. Secondly, we trust God because we know Him. The triune God is love and is perfect and wants our salvation. God wants to complete the work He has begun in us. And thirdly, when we trust God, we trust in His love. Let us, therefore, allow Him to fulfil His purpose with us. When we trust God, we trust in His salvation plan; we trust in the gospel. Let us, therefore, live the gospel. When we trust God, we trust in the activity and teaching of the Holy Spirit in Jesus Christ. And when we trust God, we trust in His promises. And finally, our trust in God will be richly rewarded here on earth, but the greatest reward is that which we will receive when the Lord comes – the crown of eternal life. Let us hold onto the trust; let us not lose. May God bless us in this endeavour. Amen.
Thoughts from Apostle Peter Thompson