On Sunday 20 December 2020, District Apostle Kububa Soko conducted the morning divine service at Lusaka Central congregation, Zambia. This divine service was conducted in English, translated into Inyanja and interpreted in sign language.
This divine service was made available on NACTV, Cape Town TV on DSTV channel 263, as well as Radio KC, Radio Teemaneng Infinity FM 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: Come, everyone, and join our song (EH:365)
Bible word: “Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!” (Philippians 4:4)
District Apostle Soko:
My dear brothers, my dear sisters in the Lord, the choir sang about ‘soon comes the day’ which is the day, this day when our Lord Jesus Christ will return to take us home. And our desire is that when He returns, He can find us worthy. And when we go to divine services like this one, our desire should be that we should be moulded into the character of Jesus Christ so that when He comes, He can find us ready.
And now the word which we have been given this morning. It’s a text taken from the closing chapter which Apostle Paul wrote to the congregation of Philippi. The congregation there found itself in a situation of distress because there was opposition from the state authorities as well as the society. There was also an emergence of some Christians who were preaching false doctrine, and this caused divisions and uncertainty in the church. So, Apostle Paul decided to write a letter so that he could comfort the Christians and these are the words we heard this morning that “Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!” Now, joy is not a mental state that can be commanded; there must be something to trigger this joy. On earth, we’ve got a lot of things that can bring great joy to us. Maybe we are enjoying good health – you rejoice. Sometimes when engaged in some business and that business is booming – you rejoice. Maybe you were unemployed and now you are employed and earning a salary at the end of the month – you rejoice because you are employed. For farmers, when it is raining well like it is here in Zambia, they rejoice because they know the crop will have enough water. And in family, when life is ok, they also rejoice.
Now Paul says, “rejoice always”. Now when you look at the sources of joy, they are attached to some conditions. Think about health. You may enjoy health, but at some point, you get sick, you go to the hospital. So that joy which was caused by good health will no longer be there. Maybe I have got some good business, but certain conditions can take place that will affect the economy and the business. Today, think about the coronavirus; the world economy is on its knees; people’s businesses are affected. So that joy which was brought about by good business and a good economy is no longer there. Maybe you were employed, but then the company is not making enough profit and then they might say we are going to restructure, and you won’t be part of this organisation. So that joy which was caused by the employment is no longer there. Think about farmers, maybe it is raining very well, and farmers are filled with joy. But due to climate change, some seasons do not have enough rainfall and that joy caused by good rain is no longer there because there is a drought. When everyone has life in the family there is joy, but when one has been taken by death, that joy is no longer there. So, the sources of joy on earth are temporal because they are attached to certain conditions. But the joy of a Christian must not depend on a specific mood or condition. Joy must fill us always, irrespective of the circumstances we may be passing through in this life. Joy must be reflected in our deeds, actions and thoughts. Apostle Paul issued this statement when he was in prison because there may be a thought that he was living a comfortable life and that’s why he said, “Rejoice in the Lord always.” But he was in prison, and yet he said, “Rejoice in the Lord always.” He repeatedly professed Jesus Christ even when he was in prison. And he calls us to do the same.
So, what are the reasons for this joy which Paul is speaking about? Already, we can refer to what our Lord Jesus Christ said as recorded in Luke chapter 10 when the 70 disciples returned there was a dissent; they were excited, and they reported to Jesus that they did everything He asked of them and even said that the demons were subject to them. So, Jesus Christ said that He gave them authority; nevertheless, He also said to them that they should not rejoice because the spirits were subject to them, but rejoice because your names are written in heaven – that is written in Luke chapter 10:20. So, brothers and sisters, we want to rejoice because our names are written in heaven. But we must also continue to do good things because our names can also be removed if we are not doing God’s will.
Now, Paul offers one reason for joy, he says, “the Lord is at hand.” He mentions about the heretics of that time; people who were more interested in earthly glory, and he made it clear that this glory is only for a short period of time. And he said that true Christians should always be oriented to something other than earthly things. And what is that something he was referring to? Something that is written in Philippians chapter 3:20, and that is connecting to the return of the Lord. It says here, “For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ,” (NKJV). That is the source of joy for you and me – the return of our Lord Jesus Christ.
The other source of joy is the certainty of eternal life in the new creation. We know that after the final judgement there will be a new creation. And it is written in the book of Revelations, chapter 21, that God would be with His people and they would be with Him; He would be their God, and they would be His people. He will wipe away the tears from their eyes; there will be no suffering; there will be no death, and everything will be ok. Now, the certainty of eternal life after the final judgement is a source of great joy to you and me. But the statement of Paul that the Lord is at hand has a special and present aspect. We also rejoice because Jesus Christ is present now here in the congregation. He is the Head of His Church, and He is always with His Apostles. It is written in the book of Matthew that He will be with us until the end of the Church. So, He is present in His Church. How do we experience His nearness in the Church? Through the word in the divine services, and also through the worthy celebration of Holy Communion. Here, God is directly at work for the salvation of you and me. My dear brothers and sisters in the Lord, may we also experience the nearness of the Lord in everyday life. We experience the nearness of the Lord when we pray. When we pray, we are in direct contact with God, and that experience should bring great joy to you and me that I am not talking to God directly. But when we pray, we must also be humble because God will provide solutions to a humble supplicant. Jesus Christ is present in our lives; He provides us with protection because He is omnipotent. He knows everything. He knows what is happening in your heart; He knows what is happening in my heart. He knows what is going to happen in the future, and His desire is to save us, so He helps us to build our faith.
My dear brothers and sisters in the Lord, so when we apply the beatitudes of Jesus Christ, as recorded in the book of Matthew 5:1-12 when we apply those beatitudes seriously, we can experience a new piece of heaven already on earth and we can realise that Jesus is with us and He is on our side. My dear brothers and sisters in the Lord, for us to experience these sources of joy, we need to do something. What must we do to experience these sources of joy? We must do His will. When we practise the will of God, we can already experience the reign of God manifesting itself here on earth. So, my dear brothers and sisters, let us form part of the joy in Christ; the joy in His presence here and now; the joy of His serving activity at His imminent return. Brothers and sisters, this is the message for today: The imminent return of Jesus Christ, as well as His presence and nearness in the congregation and our lives, is a source of our joy, and we’ve also heard that the earthly joy is temporal because death has got authority on earthly joy, so our joy should not be based on some mood or some conditions. And for us to experience this joy, let us do His will, and when we do that, we will please God. And we will be ready for His return, and when He returns, He will find us ready, and in grace, He will receive us to Himself and we will be with Him forever. So, “Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!” Amen.