On Sunday 05 September 2021, Apostle Jacques Cronjé conducted the central AVT divine service at Silvertown congregation. The divine service was conducted in English and translated into South African Sign Language (SASL) at the altar by Beryl Botha.
He was accompanied by Bishop Grant James, 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. 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: Sweet hour of prayer (EH:261)
Bible word: ‘Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.’ (Romans 8:26)
My dear brothers and sisters, hearty welcome in the house of the Lord, especially to those that are also connected by the various platforms. We have a word today and our core message is that the Spirit will lead us to a more profound prayer life. God has created us as human beings in His image. And He has equipped us with special characteristics or abilities, and that is to enable us to have a relationship with Him. One of these traits is the ability to communicate. We can express our feelings, our thoughts, our desires, our concerns. Perhaps some ideas. And when we pray to God and communicate, this prayer is one of the instruments which helps us to develop this relationship with God. Furthermore, it is the desire of our heavenly Father, and He has called us as believers, as Christians, to walk in the newness of life. And He has established His Church through Jesus here on earth. In the church, we have access to sacraments. And by receiving these sacraments, we are given new life. We consider the Holy Baptism and Holy Sealing, rebirth by water and Spirit. We become a new creature in Christ. And even in this, through our Holy Sealing, receiving the gift of the Spirit. This Spirit helps us in this process of renewal. The gift of the Spirit can enable godly virtues and new perspectives to enfold or develop.
Let's focus for a few moments on the Spirit. There is so much ability vested in the Holy Spirit. It is a spirit of love, which enables us to grow in love and to love in a special way. It is a Spirit of discernment which enables us to discern between that which is good and that which is evil. It's a Spirit of truth. It guides us in all truth. It is the Spirit of wisdom. It enables us to make wise decisions. And the Holy Spirit also knows what is important for us. The Holy Spirit also knows the will of God. Let us turn to the Spirit. Let us be guided by the Spirit in our prayers. When we are guided by the Spirit, it is also reality that our prayers will focus less and less on that which is material and temporal. We will speak to God more and more about that which has eternal consequences. Yes, it does not imply that we should not share with God and discuss with Him things of this life. As a matter of fact, we have to be careful. There might even be a situation that here and there, the one or the other only has a conversation which is about that which is spiritual. Which we understand. We acknowledge that we are in need. We cannot enter the kingdom of God by merit. We're not completely in control. We are dependent on the grace of God, and therefore we speak to Him about spiritual things. But let's consider some disciplines of our life. It might be, and allow me to use our profession as an example, not limited to that. But it might be that when it comes to my profession, I exclude God from certain disciplines of my life. I might be highly educated. I might be so experienced in this profession. I might be an expert in the field, highly regarded by others, confident, in control, and everything is going well. And I do not feel the need to involve God in that discipline of my life. That's also dangerous. Never lose sight of the fact that God has created us with the ability to develop, to excel, to achieve. Let's consider the situation in a home. How beautiful is it not when there is such a relationship between parents and children that the children come to the parents with everything? It also pleases our heavenly Father when we trust Him in all things. Speak to Him about our profession. Speak to Him about our practice. Speak to Him about our colleagues. Pray for our employees. Ask for His blessing. Do not exclude God in certain disciplines of our life. Yes, we understand that with the guidance of the Spirit, we will speak more about that which is eternal and it's also an indication of our spiritual maturity.
Sometimes, we are overwhelmed by our weaknesses, as it is referred to in our Bible word. It says, ‘Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses.’ Sometimes we are overwhelmed by these weaknesses. I'm reminded of one of our young people who approached me with a concern about his prayer life. He finds it difficult to pray to God. He doesn't pray to God regularly. Perhaps there is no connection. I feel no connection. There's no intensity. Perhaps I don't trust my own prayer because the prayer originates from a position of weakness and not from a position of a strong faith or firm belief. Perhaps I see it's not even worth talking to God. How can I expect the Lord to hearken to my prayer? To respond if the prayer originates from such a position of weakness. Let us be reminded of the advice given by our Chief Apostle in July when he served our area. And he used the example of Job. Job was absolutely in the gutter. But Job never stopped talking to God. Even if we feel so weak in faith, force yourself to pray. We might feel that it's a forced prayer. It's not inspired. It's a force. Force ourselves to pray. God is omniscient. He knows everything. He knows when we have a battle. But He will also know that we're trying our utmost to connect with Him. He will see that we are making a special effort. And He will certainly respond to that prayer. He will respond in a special way. Here and there, it might be that we are overwhelmed by our needs in a natural sense. And if we think about what we have experienced over the last year and a half, many find themselves in dire need. And we may be so overwhelmed by our natural needs that our prayers are absolutely characterized by petitions for today, that which are needed today. And I do not find it easy to talk to God about that which is spiritual. Again, we are comforted by the word today that the Spirit will help us in our weakness, intercede on our behalf, will help us in our prayer.
When we struggle to pray, even if it's just a short prayer. Just think and ask God for something that will happen today. His blessing on that. His help. Pray for someone specific. It doesn't have to be a long prayer. But do not stop talking to God. It might even be a situation where we have experienced so much suffering. We've lost so much. Loved ones. Misfortune. Trauma. We find it difficult to speak to God at all. As a matter of fact, we're upset with God. And even here, we want to be encouraged by the Spirit. Rather tell Him that we are upset. He knows that in any case. We can’t hide it from Him. Rather open our hearts and express to Him that we are extremely upset with Him than not talking to Him, ignoring Him, turning away from Him.
Just another thought on our prayer life. Many of us have grown up with this blessed tradition that we start the day in prayer as a family and we close the day. We pray every day. Let us not lose this. It still remains a blessed tradition. But there is some danger in that as well. We have to guard against it and the Spirit warns us today that sometimes it becomes a routine. It's just a habit. We get together, and we're in a hurry. And we just quickly tick the boxes. It becomes lip service. Here we have to ask ourselves when I pray, do I really pray? I think we have all experienced that some prayers become like a recitation, and one can almost foretell what's coming next. The Spirit reminds us that in our natural life, we've been taught to think before we speak. Be careful because once the words are out one cannot take it back. Think before we speak. Let us apply this principle when it comes to our communication with God. Take a few moments and think before we pray. Think about our needs. Think about someone else. Consider our reason to be thankful. It's easy to say, turn to the Spirit. But it is in moments like these where we meditate and think of a few moments, think about our prayer, and what we want from God. The Spirit will awaken thoughts within us. The Spirit will inspire us and help in our prayer. Just an example. The Spirit might remind us, because it will focus on that which is spiritual. It will remind us, as a child of God, He loves us dearly. And that might prompt us to thank Him for His love and His kindness. The Spirit might remind us that Jesus loves us. We belong to Jesus. Nothing will pluck us out of His hand. He has given His life for us for the atonement of our sins. We might praise and thank Him for His sacrifice. The Spirit might even remind us of our transgressions which might be uncomfortable. But it will prompt us to plead for forgiveness and ask the Lord to help us to overcome. The Spirit will remind us about the blessed future. The inheritance waiting for us. And it will prompt us to pray for the return of Christ, to pray for our worthiness. Just a few thoughts. When we give room to the Spirit, when we take time to think before we pray, before we speak to God, the Spirit will inspire us. The Spirit will awaken thoughts within us. That's how the Spirit will help us in our prayers.
When we consider the promise Jesus made that He would send us this Spirit as a help, as a Comforter, we are truly thankful. And if we go back to our word for today, it says, ‘…but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.’ Yes, the Spirit will intercede on our behalf. The Spirit will add or lend weight to our sighs, and it will reach God like a well-spoken prayer, having an impact. That's how the Spirit will help us and support us and intercede before God on our behalf. However, there is an aspect that depends on us, and that I want to read to you. It's almost a requirement. A portion of Romans 8:27 says, ‘…because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God.’ It is important that we also want the will of God to be done. That is a condition. The Spirit can only intercede according to the will of God. Even if it's difficult for us to accept the will of God. Sometimes, it is not what we want. But we also get comfort from the last verse of this chapter. God will grant us the strength to accept His will. It's a beautiful comfort. Romans 8:28 says, ‘And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God,’. Those that accept His will, and love God, everything will work for the good. That is a comfort for us.
Just a final thought to our children. Prayers are not only for adults. We know that. From a very young age, we are taught to pray to Jesus. And I want to encourage our young ones as well, our children. Jesus loves you. Jesus wants to be your friend. And think about it, if you want Jesus to be your friend, because He's a very good friend, what do we normally do with friends? We often talk to one another. You speak to your friend. You can't wait to speak to your friend. Let that also be the situation for us as children. If you want Jesus to be your friend, speak to Him. Tell Him that you love Him. Ask for His help. Ask for His protection. Jesus will always be there for you. Never stop talking to Jesus. He loves you. He made it quite clear that you are precious. When the disciples tried to prevent the children from coming to Jesus He said, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven.” He loves you. And yes, that was when He was on earth, and they could go and sit on His lap. Now, Jesus sits on the throne of God, on His right hand, and we cannot go and sit on His lap. But we can still go to Him in prayer. That is how we go to Jesus. Dear children, keep on talking to Jesus. Jesus will protect you. He will guard over you. He will help you.
Allow me to summarize our divine service. Through our prayers, we have a dialogue with a Triune God. And this is an important instrument. That's how we develop a relationship with God as well. The Holy Spirit will move us and inspire us to focus much more on that which is eternal, that which has eternal consequences. And when we have a problem and we have a battle to pray, the Holy Spirit will help us in that weakness. If we give the Spirit room and create the opportunity for the Spirit to impact, the Spirit will help us in our weakness. And then it is also important that we desire for the will of God to be done. The Spirit can only help us if we accept the will of God, and desire for the will of God to be done. May the Lord bless us in this. Amen.
Thoughts from Apostle Jacques Cronjé