On Sunday 23 August 2020, District Apostle Helper Mandla P Mkhwanazi conducted the morning divine service at Sandton congregation in Gauteng. The divine service was conducted in English and translated into South African Sign Language at the altar.
He was accompanied by District Elder Stanley Fourie, a musical ensemble and a small 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: I live by grace and kindness (EH:320)
Bible word: “As for God, His way is perfect; The word of the Lord is proven; He is a shield to all who trust in Him.” Psalm 18:30
District Apostle Helper:
My dear brothers and sisters, it is always a pleasure when we get this opportunity of coming closer to our heavenly Father. And it is so pleasing to Him when He sees all of us as mankind, as His children, that we still want to honour Him because He is the creator. He is the One who knows the beginning and the end of our journey; not only here on earth, but in everything that we are doing – He knows the future. So, that is the reason why for this divine service the Bible word, as we have read, it says: “As for God, His way is perfect; The word of the Lord is proven; He is a shield to all who trust in Him.”
First, I think it’s good to just quickly give the background. This word, the whole chapter, is extracted from the book of second Samuel chapter 22. It is the narration of the experience of David when he was fleeing from the attack of king Saul. One can imagine how troubled this man David was. And it is normal that when we are troubled, we look to the Lord because that is where we expect our help to come from. What is so interesting when you read the whole chapter of Samuel, one can see the levels of emotions that David had to experience. One of these emotions is when David expressed his trust in God. I hope this can remind us of the service conducted by Apostle Thompson last week when he was emphasising that our Father is our refuge; He is our fortress. That on its own allows us to continue to express our trust in God. Another level of emotion that David also showed is when he lamented; he was so sorrowful – he cried so to say. I need to mention at this juncture that it is good for us to show our emotions sometimes. It is good to show our emotions because it shows that we have feelings if we express our emotions. That was also the case with David – he was so sorrowful that he lamented to our heavenly Father.
The next thing: David waited for God’s help. I hope you can recall or relate that when we are waiting for God to answer, that sometimes, you know when we wait for His help, this sometimes, you know to be lying far away – it breaks. But the important thing for us here is to remain and expecting the deliverance from our heavenly Father. Another part here dear brothers and sisters is the eventual rescue. That is why our heavenly Father paved a way for David and eventually, He rescued him. With all this, I want to say, as human beings, this natural life makes us experience similar challenges and emotions. Why? Because life will always throw some curveballs to us. With our understanding of the Lord that is there, we would not fall, but during this turbulent period, we would still glorify our heavenly Father. I think of those who are sick – it is not that easy when you see your loved ones sick. We become so emotional; we pray so fervently. Sometimes, we want the situation to change in a moment. But sometimes, our heavenly Father will test us because there is a way, there is a time, there is a season when He will change the situation – it is only a matter of time. We think of all of those who have lost their jobs during this pandemic. Some businesses are closing. Think also of the breadwinners; it is not that easy dear brothers and sisters. But now, we need to understand one thing, we cannot allow ourselves to be frozen by all these calamities. We need to redirect our focus by looking up to the Lord because He understands all our situations. In other words, we take a lesson from David. David looked up to the lord and that is why he was certain when he said: “His way is perfect.”
Now, let us come and have a look at this perfect way. I think I need to draw the attention of the young ones now. I can give an example quickly when we draw the attention of the young ones, you know we can think about the way. Sometimes it is so easy to know your way from home to school; to know when your parents will return from work. To the young ones, sometimes it is even easy to remember in the future the way that has led us to our future partners. Remember, we know the way because such a way also has some landmarks. Sometimes, even in the future, we will even relate to the corner or shop somewhere where we used to meet, the coffee shop and so forth. It is the landmark. That path: that way led us to meet each other and to the point where we would even grow up and relating and know that it was a good experience. Now here, I want to refer to this perfect way – the way that God has set for all of us. And this way, for all of us to understand, is not a utopian way; it is not a fantasy or a fallacy, it is not a fairy tale – it is real. So how can we comprehend this way? I want to call it the excellent way that leads to salvation. For us to comprehend this, we simply need to consider the prophetic words of Isaiah when he said the way that the Lord was going to establish – he named it the highway. This highway that those that are filthy will never be able to walk on. This was a prophetic message from Isaiah 35:8. So now, we can understand that our heavenly Father was giving a prophecy about the future era in the New Testament about the way that was going to be established for mankind to be saved. Let us move forward now – we have come to know that Jesus Christ is the way, the truth and the life. Jesus Christ has established this narrow way. This is the way that leads us to God – the perfect way. This way seems to be difficult to walk on, but this way requires our faith in order for us to fathom and understand it – it’s tangible – this is the way of salvation. Our heavenly Father calls on all of us as mankind to observe, recognise and see this way so that we can walk on it with complete confidence because we are being led by our Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ. But now, we need to be aware that our Father, through His Son Jesus Christ has also provided us with the apostolate. This is a ministry of grace. This is the ministry of us reconciling with God. Therefore, this ministry will direct us; show us the clearer way and the signs that we need to observe when we walk on this path. Maybe one can understand that, on the sea, when a ship is moving, as passengers we don’t know or see where exactly we might be, but the captain is aware – we are looking to the captain to lead the passengers to the shores. Even when we are on an aeroplane, we don’t see the way in the sky; we rely on the pilot to take us to the next destination. The same applies on this path of faith. Our heavenly Father has provided us with the apostolate, therefore, our Chief Apostle in this regard plays a pivotal role to lead us as God’s children to the day of the Lord. Let us become sure of this path; this perfect way – the way of salvation. And when we are on this path, we need to allow our roots of faith to go deeper, deeper in the understanding of this following because once we come to that point, we can simply say come what may; anything that would want to disturb us, we will never be distracted because we want to go and meet the King of kings – Jesus Christ. There is a goal we want to achieve. The Son of man made this divine promise that He shall return and He shall come. But the point is, are we going to be ready when the Son of man makes His appearance? Sometimes it might seem as though it is far away, but the Lord will make His appearance imminently. Therefore, we want to take our faith seriously. We want the Holy Spirit to equip us with the depth of this faith. Let me pose a question: how often do we open the Bible and read to equip ourselves with this divine knowledge? The church of Christ has provided us with so much. But sometimes we seem to be lazy to open the Bible and read. Sometimes we seem to be lazy to take the catechism of the church and read. That is why one or the other might say they are confused. That is why we will be frozen in that regard, with all this fear that comes about with many things. Now with Covid-19, I am not undermining it dear brothers and sisters, but remember some got so confused and questioned if this was a sign of the coming of the Lord because they are not equipping themselves with the knowledge of the faith. They are also not looking up to the captain of this ship. Therefore, we are called to see this path that is so perfect. Let us allow the soul, the new creature in Christ to develop to the point of wanting to remain – we remain firm come whatever may.
The next point says that the word of the Lord is proven. When this word of the Lord is proven, we can simply tell that this word creates, this word of God has stood the test of time. This is the word of God that created everything that we can see – the visible creation. There is also an invisible creation from the word of God. This word eventually became flesh through Jesus Christ, and our heavenly Father, when the Son of man came to earth, can you imagine our heavenly Father became a human being. That was another fulfilment of the prophecy of God when He said His word that comes out of His mouth shall never return void, but the word of God will accomplish what it was provided for. Jesus Christ wants all of us to understand the true meaning of faith so that when we walk on this path we become certain and won’t be distracted or disturbed or allow the elements of the enemy to make us doubt the word of God, or to doubt the path on which we are walking on. Therefore, let us keep on walking on this path. At the same time, let us also keep on applying the word of God. This word has created a new creation within us – children of men becoming children of God – something that we never deserved. We are children of God. Why? Because we have received the sacraments of the church of Christ. We have been baptised; we have been sealed; we continue to celebrate Holy Communion. It is only a matter of time before we return to the normal divine services. And that is the yearning of our Chief Apostle and District Apostle that we return to the normal procedure of the divine service. Therefore, let us take this word seriously because it has been proven that everything has been created. We continue to see the wonders of our heavenly Father that came by through the word.
The last point refers to the shield. It says: “He is the shield to all who trust in Him.” What does a shield symbolise? The shield symbolises the protection – the security of our heavenly Father. I mentioned earlier that David was eventually rescued. The main purpose of our heavenly Father is that He wants to save mankind – that is His desire. He wants to save mankind. We need to take that very seriously. For all of us to simply understand this’ I understand that the public does not always understand the principles and the doctrine of this church of Christ. I want to encourage all to read the catechism and learn about the doctrine that is summarised so beautifully. The task I want to give to you is to read the Question & Answer version - questions 39-50. There you will read about the Creed of the church. That creed is a summary of what we believe. Dear brothers and sisters, dear servant of the lord, we sometimes take this for granted. We have seen from the young people who are confirmed that sometimes they forget the Creed of our faith. Let us go back again and rejuvenate our heart and soul and see the importance of this creed and read about it. That is where we will see that our heavenly Father is a shield to all mankind. He wants to save us; therefore, we want to glorify Him – we want to praise and serve God. That on its own will please God and will disappoint the enemy. If the enemy is disappointed, we would have achieved the main objective of the faith because we show that we love God. It is the shield that provides mankind with extra protection; that is the way I can put it simply. We understand that during this COVID period, some of our neighbours, sometimes they lack, and it is not that easy for my little penny that I can make a difference to my neighbour. But when we contribute to charities, the well-renowned organisations, our pennies will go a long way to make a difference. So that is the reason why in the church supports such charities. In our church, we have the Masakhe Foundation. Masakhe means “Let’s build”; let us build our nation; let us build our society. We are also challenged to kindly and graciously contribute to it because, in that way, the hand of our heavenly Father will also be seen by those who are destitute because our little pennies will make a contribution and the impact will be so great. In our Catechism questions and answers book, in question 750 you can read about the reflection of the mission and the support the church is providing. Allow me to read this question 750: “What is the social commitment of the New Apostolic Church?” The answer is simple: “The New Apostolic Church is committed to the Gospel; thus it understands its duty to engage in charitable activity that benefits all people irrespective of personal differences. This work is supported by the voluntary and commitment of helpers in the congregation, but also by the material assistance within the scope of its ability the church plans, promotes and supports non-profit and charitable projects, institutions and aid campaigns around the world. It also works in collaboration with relief organisations.” That on its own my dear brothers and sisters, when we commit to this, we shall be fulfilling the great commandment of God: love our neighbours. The District Apostle also said recently that we must spread a pandemic of love. Why? Because when others suffer, the Chief Apostle brought is so beautifully, that the Lord also suffers with us. Let us make a difference in that regard. In other words, when we are on this path, when we apply the word of God, when we understand the shield of our heavenly Father that wants to protect me and you and eventually rescue us from all these disasters, then we shall become very serious in our faith.
My dear brothers and sisters, before we conclude, I just want to summarise and give you a take-home of this divine service. The main aim of the sermon was to provide God’s children with these three points. The first point here is: God’s way is perfect. Thus, we want to remain firm on this path of faith. Secondly, God’s word is proven. With this, we want to go and attest about these proven words of God – Jesus Christ, the plan of salvation. And lastly, God is the shield. It is God’s desire to save mankind – all of us. So, these are the three points and the message here is simple; we are saying that as for salvation, we surely want to walk confidently on the path of faith. Amen.
Thoughts from District Apostle Helper Mandla P Mkhwanazi