Month: April 2014

Best of luck Bradley and Avril

Priest Palmer - CopyMidrand Congregation said farewell to Priest Bradley Palmer and his wife Avril Palmer on Sunday, 27 April 2014. Priest Palmer is relocating to Cape Town for work purposes.

I would like to share with readers his personal story.

He told me this story a while back and in saying farewell and wishing Priest Palmer and Avril God’s richest blessings, I wanted everyone to have a glimpse into his experiences of faith.

“The first time I attended the New Apostolic Church divine services was the 25 December 1996 at Silvertown (Cape Town) congregation.  The officiant was District Evangelist Desmond Barnes, even though the congregation was full (over 1000 members), it felt like the whole service was about me.  I was under the impression that Avril had spoken to the District Evangelist about me but this was not the case.  Since then I started attending services regularly.                  

“I was baptised in JHB Bezuidenhout Valley congregation in 1997 by Shepherd Schoonraad and was later sealed in Lyttleton congreation in 1998 by Apostle Wilson. We then moved back to Cape Town in 1999 and I was ordained as a Deacon in 2004 for Goodwood congregation by Apostle Matthew Arendse, during the ordination the Apostle made special mention about my stutter, referring to Moses and how the Lord used him as a mouth piece. This was done even though the Apostle did not know about my stutter.  Yet another wonderful experience of faith. 

“In 2007 we moved back to Midrand and was ordained as a Priest in June of 2009.  It was the love for my wife that got me into the doors of the New Apostolic Church, but it was the experiences of faith and the love of God for me that kept me coming back.  All the experiences of faith have taught me that we are nothing without the love and grace of God.  My favourite sayings are ‘As for me and my household we will serve the Lord’ and ‘a servant is not greater than his master’.”

 

April 2014: It is I! Do not be afraid!

1349895215_2199_Blessed be the name of the LordScripture relates that, in the night following the feeding of the five thousand, the disciples were alone in their boat in the middle of the sea. Jesus had commanded them to cross over to the other shore. He Himself then went up into a mountain in order to pray. The boat was already far out on the open sea when a storm broke out. A strong headwind and waves whipped the boat with increasing force. Suddenly the disciples saw something moving toward them in the darkness. “In the fourth watch of the night” Jesus came toward them over the sea. One can easily imagine how terrified the disciples were. They believed that what they were seeing was a ghost. But then they heard the voice of their Lord, who said: “It is I; do not be afraid!”

The gospels relate a similar event in connection with the events of Easter. After their Lord and Master had died on the cross and had been buried, the disciples withdrew in fear and uncertainty. For fear of the Jews they had even barred the doors of the house where they had gathered. How astonished and frightened they must have been when the Risen One suddenly stepped into their midst! They thought they were looking at a ghost! But He addressed them saying: “Why are you troubled? … it is I Myself …” Then He ate with them and spoke to them. And eventually they comprehended: “It is He! The Lord is risen indeed! He lives!”

“It is I! Do not be afraid!” That is the message of Easter: the Lord lives. He is there. He is with you. You no longer have anything to fear!

It is simply part of life when we at times find ourselves in situations when we feel all alone, when we too—like the disciples in the boat—find ourselves battling headwinds and ask: “Dear God, where are You? Have You forgotten me?” At such times, it is dark all around us—in spiritual terms—and we too are tossed about like a little boat in a stormy sea. We cannot help that doubts arise in such circumstances. We may even ask ourselves: “What is the point of it all? Are not all our efforts in vain anyway?” The Lord will not condemn us for this.

For example, those who endeavour to live in accord-ance with the gospel today will often find a sharp wind blowing against their faces. They will find themselves exposed to the hostilities of the world and a lack of understanding in their surroundings.

At times we do not understand what is happening to us. Uncertainty and fear creep into our hearts. Perhaps we are living through a period of trial and have no idea why this is happening. At such times we ask ourselves: “How is this supposed to be good? I do not understand any of it. Have I perhaps done something wrong?”

But then the Lord suddenly steps into our lives—perhaps in a way we had not expected—and tells us: “It is I! Do not be afraid! I have overcome the world. I have overcome death! I have resurrected! Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will never pass away!

Listen to My word and heed it! I am with you and I will help you!”

Easter tells us that Jesus lives! He is more powerful than all the powers of hell, death, and the Devil! He has conquered them all. Do not be afraid! How wonderful it will be at His return when He appears and calls out to us: “It is I! Do not be afraid!” Then we will suddenly arrive at our goal—just like the disciples at the time, of whom it says: “Then they willingly received Him into the boat, and immediately the boat was at the land where they were going.”

(From a divine service by the Chief Apostle)

Living in the kingdom of the Son: 27 April 2014

He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins. — Colossians 1: 13–14

Message

Those who have been conveyed into the kingdom of Christ must also exhibit corresponding characteristics.

Colossiansaddresses an event that is of fundamental significance for us: God “has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love”. This is not something that will only happen to us at some point in the future, but is rather an act of God that has already been performed upon us. Believers can feel the effects of this: they have been delivered from death—the power of darkness—and have been conveyed into the kingdom of the Son of His love. The power of sin has lost its ultimate dread for those who have received the sacraments and grasp God’s grace with longing hearts.

Core Points

By receiving the sacraments and through faith we have been conveyed into the kingdom of Christ. This is also to become evident in our conduct in that

  • we always seek fellowship with the Lord.
  • our lives are filled with worship and serving.
  • we live in a future-oriented fashion.
  • we turn to our neighbour in love.

In this manner the kingdom of Christ can also be perceived by others through our conduct.

The Lord of life gives us peace: 23/24 April 2014

And after eight days His disciples were again inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus came, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, “Peace to you!” — John 20: 26

Message

The Lord’s greeting of peace creates calm and confidence. When Jesus appears to the disciples for the first time after His resurrection, Thomas was not among them. Eight days later, the disciples were together again and Jesus appeared to them once again. His appearing was very sudden. The doors were locked—a sign that the Risen One was subject to no limitations. He is above the laws of matter. It was with the greeting: “Peace to you!” that He came and stood among them. He is the Lord of life and the bringer of peace.

Core Points

The Prince of Peace also brings calm and confidence today. It is possible to lose one’s peace

  • at work, in the family, in one’s marriage, or in the congregation.
  • on account of financial concerns, injustice, illness, or doubts in the face of hopelessness and lack of perspective.

Easter God will raise us up: 20 April 2014

And God both raised up theLord and will also raise us upby His power.1 Corinthians 6: 14

Bible reading: John 20: 1−10, 19−23

Message

God raised up Jesus Christ from the dead. He will also raise us up. After the resurrection of Christ, it still took some time for the disciples to recognise: “The Lord is risen indeed!”

(Luke 24: 34). This profession brings to expression that the resurrection of Jesus is of central importance for the Christian faith. It is for this reason that Apostle Paul states: “If Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty” (1 Corinthians 15: 14).

The victory of Jesus Christ over death was revealed in the Resurrection. His resurrection attests to the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ! We can also recognise this today! We rejoice to hear the glad tidings and look into the future in the awareness that the future will bring us the Lord!

Core Points

When God raised His Son, everything was suddenly different. When the Lord returns and we are raised by God, everything will also be different for us.

  • Cares and troubles will be transformed into comfort and joy.
  • Instead of burdens and unrest, the peace of God will prevail.
  • Sickness will be replaced by freedom from all ailments.

Good Friday He died for you: 18 April 2014

And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit. Then, behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth quaked, and the rocks were split, and the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised. — Matthew 27: 50–52

Bible reading: John 19: 16−30

Message

With His sacrificial death, Jesus has brought eternal salvation to mankind. In the Passion narrative of Jesuswe recognise God’s will to create a way for mankind to accept His grace and enter into eternal fellowship with Him. Jesus Christ is the bringer of salvation who proclaimed the gospel to mankind and effected redemption. He offered Himself up for the salvation of mankind. As the Son of God, Jesus thereby fulfilled the will of His Father in unconditional obedience. In the process He also exhibited human reactions.

Core Points

  • Jesus Christ is the bringer of salvation for all mankind.
  • The loud cry before the death of Jesus is a cry to God and brings the suffering of all mankind to expression.
  • The sacrificial death of Christ is of outstanding significance and changes everything.
  • Crucifixion and death are to be seen as the victory of God.

Palm Sunday Jesus is coming: 13 April 2014

And seeing from afar a fig tree having leaves, He went to see if perhaps He would find something on it. When He came to it, He found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs. In response Jesus said to it, “Let no one eat fruit from you ever again.” — Mark 11: 13–14

Bible reading: John 12: 12–19

Message

Jesus seeks to enter our hearts. Let us prepare the way for Him and bring forth fruits of faith. The account of Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem shows the full measure of the burden which Jesus bore: He entered into Jerusalem and was cheered by the crowds. He was hailed as a King, and the people were expecting great things of Him (Mark 11: 1–11). At the same time, we know that this marked the start of the Passion Week, at the end of which the people cried out: “Crucify Him!” (Mark 15: 13).

The people had no idea that God Himself had entered the city in Jesus Christ. It was none other than the almighty God who was there with them! Now let us come to our Bible text, which is taken from the context of Palm Sunday. When Jesus saw a fig tree He went to see if He could find any figs on it. But there was no fruit on it. Jesus cursed the tree and it withered immediately.

Core Points

Jesus Christ seeks to enter into our hearts. He is to find fruit there, namely:

  • a living faith,
  • obedience to the gospel in all situations of life,
  • love, which is shown in the degree of our serving and the sacrifices we bring, and
  • growth of the new creation.

Jesus’ service on mankind: 9/10 April 2014

Just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.– Matthew 20: 28

Message

The manner in which Jesus served mankind serves as an example to us. The notion that the sons of Zebedee should occupy a special position with the Lord (see Context) might at first seem a little outlandish. Indeed, even the other disciples reacted indignantly to the suggestion. However, Jesus did not condemn the sons of Zebedee for this. Although He denied their plea, He used the situation as an occasion to teach His disciples an important lesson: “Whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant” (verse 26). He Himself—God the Son— had already made Himself a bondservant through His incarnation (Philippians 2: 6–8). He illustrated this in all clarity when He washed the feet of His disciples and emphasised that this service was to serve as an example to them (John 13: 15).

Core Points

  • God the Son abased Himself and took on the form of a bondservant.
  • Following the example of Jesus, we turn to our neighbour in love.
  • This is a sign of fellowship with Christ and the hope of our future participation in His glory.

Holy Communion: 6 April 2014

And He took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” Likewise He also took the cup after supper, saying: “This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you.” — Luke 22: 19–20

Message

Each time we celebrate HolyCommunion, we are to gain anew awareness of the significanceof Christ’s sacrifice.In the Seventh Article of Faith we profess: “I believe that Holy Communion was instituted by the Lord Himself in memory of the once brought, fully valid sacrifice, and bitter suffering and death of Christ.”

Core Points

  • We celebrate Holy Communion in grateful remembrance of the sacrifice of Christ for our redemption.
  • In Holy Communion we feel the presence of Christ in His church.
  • Sincere longing for enduring fellowship with our Lord is our response to the love of Christ.
  • We continue steadfastly in this until the return of Christ.

An example in suffering: 2/3 April 2014

For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps: “who committed no sin, nor was deceit found in His mouth”; who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously. — 1 Peter 2: 21–23

Message

Jesus is to be our example in suffering and in dealing with disappointments and injustice. Passiontide is that time of the church year when Jesus Christ comes very near to us in His humanity. In spirit we feel with Him when we recall how He suffered pain and torment, how He suffered injustice, how He suffered hatred and abasement, and how He was betrayed and abandoned. In the process, He has left us an example which is to provide orientation for us when we suffer injustice or when we find ourselves in circumstances that cause our souls to suffer. The reference that we are to follow His steps in our own suffering is not to be understood to mean that we are to suffer like Jesus Christ: no matter what comes our way, it is on a completely different level and can never compare to that which He who committed no sin suffered on our behalf. Rather, the notion of following Him in suffering relates to the attitude that Jesus demonstrated in His sufferings, and which serves as an example to us.

Core Points

Passiontide reminds us of the exemplary manner in which Jesus bore His sufferings.

  • He suffered as a result of rejection and repudiation, but nevertheless remained merciful and compassionate toward the sinner. Let us not ascribe evil to others either!
  • In His most difficult hours He found no support even among His most trusted followers. Nevertheless, He loved His disciples to the end. Let us likewise never give up our love for others.