Month: September 2015

Asking in the name of Jesus

If you ask anything in My name, I will do it. — John 14: 14

Message

Jesus Christ grants those requests that are in accordance with His will.

In order for our pleas to be granted, they must

  • be based on belief in Jesus Christ (John 14:11). He is not a miracle worker, but rather the Son of God who came to the earth in order to save mankind from sin and lead them into His kingdom.
  • be requested in His name, that is to say: they must be in accordance with His will.

Jesus Christ will not grant any supplications that do not fulfill the following conditions.

  • He will not perform miracles in order to prove His divine Sonship. Belief in Jesus Christ is based on His resurrection and not on any other miracles (Matthew 12: 39–40). He does not have to show us His love through miracles. He has given His life for us (John 15:13)! We cannot ask Him to prove to the world that we are children of God either. It is up to us to demonstrate this!
  • Those who believe that Jesus is the Son of God know that His words are valid for all eternity (Mark 13: 31). He will not adapt His gospel to match our desires.
  • He is the Redeemer who refuses to condemn or punish the sinner (Luke 9: 53–55). We can therefore not ask Him to punish others for perceived iniquities.
  • He will not bless a divided heart (Matthew 7:21–23). Therefore we cannot ask Him to bless us if we have decided to be disobedient to God in order to solve our problems.
  • We are not to ask Him to accord greater significance to our earthly lives than to our eternal life (Luke 10: 40).

In contrast to this, He will grant those requests that correspond to His will.

He prayed that Peter’s faith would not fail (Luke 22: 32). Let us ask Him for a strong faith. He will grant it to us!

Praying in Jesus’ name means—in His own words—“Nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done.” God does not want us to suffer. He wants us to remain faithful to Him in suffering. Let us ask Him to give us the strength for this. That He will do!

He grants grace to those who humbly ask Him for it and who are willing to repent and reconcile.

Like Him, let us pray for the oneness of those who believe in Him through the word of the Apostles (John 17:20–21).

He will grant the plea of those who pray, “Come, Lord Jesus!” (Revelation 22: 20).

Jesus Christ is the Redeemer. He is the Son of God. We know what He wants—and we want the same.

 

* Thoughts from the Chief Apostle adapted for the divine service held on Sunday, 27 September 2015 at Midrand Congregation.

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Spreading the promise to others

For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call. — Acts 2: 39

Message

We are called upon to spread the promise of salvation to coming generations.

In His first sermon, Apostle Peter proclaimed salvation in Jesus Christ, which can be attained through baptism and by receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit.

“For the promise is to you”

With the gift of the Holy Spirit, we have received the promise of eternal life. This promise remains in effect for each one of us: God desires to complete the work that He has begun in us (Philippians 1: 6). Moreover we have been given the task of prophesying (Acts 2: 18), which means

  • proclaiming the will of God through our words and conduct.
  • creating awareness of the great deeds of God through our praises.
  • spreading the message of salvation to coming generations.

“For the promise is to … your children”

The Lord has promised that His church will endure forever (Matthew 16: 18). Today He sees to it that the Apostles can fulfil their commission until His return (Matthew 28: 20). However, it is up to us to spread this message to those who will come after us.

First and foremost, parents are called upon to intensively care for the eternal life of their children by planting faith into their hearts. Of special note in this context: let us always remember to sanctify the Sunday. Our children must recognize that the divine services are more important than all other activities in which they engage during the week.

The divine service is our encounter with God, which is indispensable for our inner equilibrium. This commission applies to all of us in an expanded sense.

Spreading the promise of salvation

In order to spread the promise of salvation in Christ, we are called upon

  • to proclaim the gospel by talking about Jesus and His love and grace.
  • to be convincing to others by visibly applying the gospel in our lives.
  • to encourage others by proving our love to our neighbour—especially to the children and young people.

Let us also spread the New Apostolic doctrine to others.

  • In order to make it known to others, it is indispensable for us to know it ourselves!
  • In order to convince others, we must ourselves be convinced—we believe that the timely teaching we receive is inspired by the Holy Spirit.

Together let us get involved in building the future of the Church.

  • Let us pay attention to the image we convey about our Church in the statements we make on the Internet, for example.
  • Through our commitment to the congregation we will convince our children of its importance.
  • In order to build the church of tomorrow, let us already today take into consideration the needs of future generations, and if needed let go of our own ideas and habits.

* Thoughts from the Chief Apostle adapted for the divine service held on Sunday, 20 September 2015 at Midrand Congregation.

Professing the Lord

Also we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God. — John 6:69

Message

We profess the Lord when we live in accordance with His gospel.

After a large number of disciples had left Jesus, He asked the Twelve who had remained with Him whether they wanted to leave as well (verses 66–67). Apostle Peter, who had recognized Jesus as the One who had been sent by God, brought his faith to expression as follows, “We have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (verse 69). It was on the basis of this clear profession that they remained with the Lord and believed His doctrine.

How do we profess the Lord?

  • Professing through obedience of faith. It was at the instruction of God that Abraham left his country. His profession of God came to expression through obedience of faith (Genesis 12: 1–4).

Through the word from the altar we learn the will of God. This word is to produce faith and knowledge within us and requires us to be obedient to our faith. We receive the strength in order to do this from our fellowship with the Lord in Holy Communion.

  • Professing through responsibility. David professed God clearly: “But I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts” (1 Samuel 17: 45). By taking up the battle against Goliath, he demonstrated his responsibility to the people of God. It was David’s profession of God—and of God’s help—that gave him the strength to do this. May this event inspire us to take on responsibility for the well-being of the congregation! Let us serve with our gifts and talents, and thereby enrich the life of our congregation. Naturally it also requires courage to take on such responsibility.
  • Professing through love. Peter professed Jesus. In John 21: 15–17 we read that the Lord asked Peter whether he loved Him. This question was repeated three times, and Peter always answered in the affirmative. His clear profession that he loved the Lord above all else prompted Jesus to entrust him with the leadership of the flock of Christ.When we profess the church of Christ, we thereby also express our love for the triune God. This love gives us the power to be there for our brothers and sisters in faith and to do good to our fellow human beings.
  • Professing through following. From Scripture we know that Peter also professed the teachings of Jesus after the Lord’s death (1 Peter 1: 25). He became a zealous follower and proclaimer of the gospel. From the words of Jesus recorded in Matthew 19: 27–28, we derive that faithful following will assure us a place in the glory of God. May this prospect inspire us to live a life in accordance with the gospel! Let us invite the people around us to join us in believing in Christ and waiting for His return.

You are the Christ, the son of the living God

Through his intensive relationship with the Lord, Apostle Peter recognized that Jesus had been sent by God—as well as the significance this held for mankind as a whole. God draws near to all human beings in Jesus Christ. And the activity of Jesus extends all the way into the present. Let us today profess the Lord and the apostolate at work in our time.

God does the unexpected

Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen. — Ephesians 3: 20–21

Message

We praise God by professing our faith and putting the gospel into practice in both word and deed.

Thanks to God

Our Bible text calls upon us to give thanks to God. Let us give thanks to Him for

  • The fact that He cares for our needs on this earth.
  • Jesus Christ’s deeds of salvation on earth.
  • The activity of the Holy Spirit upon us.

God grants us more than we can ask and understand if we heed the inspirations of the Holy Spirit, the “power that works in us”.

God gives more than we can ask

  • When Solomon asked for wisdom and knowledge, God also gave him great wealth, possessions, and glory besides (2 Chronicles 1: 11–12). Thus Scripture teaches us that God often gives us more than we ask.
  • In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus stated, “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you” (Matthew 6: 33). God can give both eternal life and earthly well-being to those who make a priority of their salvation.
  • The Holy Spirit leads us into all truth. This does not mean, however, that we can expect an answer to all our questions. When we are finally with the Lord, our joy will be so great that we will ask Him nothing (John 16: 20, 23).

God gives more than we can imagine

  • No one can imagine the return of Christ. Nevertheless, let us prepare ourselves for it—because “the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect” (Luke 12: 40).
  • The glory of the kingdom of God far surpasses anything we can imagine.
  • How is it possible for us sinful human beings to one day be like the Lord, who is perfect (1 John 3: 2)?

When we think about all the things that God grants us, we will have every reason to give Him glory.

We praise God

We give glory to God by proclaiming His deeds (Psalm 9:11). Praise and adoration of God are more effective than all our lamentations.

We give glory to God by putting the gospel into practice in both word and deed and by acting selflessly toward our neighbour. Jesus gave glory to His Father by completing the work God had assigned to Him (John 15: 8).

Let us give glory to God by going beyond our perceived limitations. We can

  • do things that at first seem impossible to us with the help of God.
  • do more than our duty. Those who love do not calculate.
  • forgive our neighbour and endeavour to make peace.

God gives more than we ask. For this let us give Him glory.

* Thoughts from the Chief Apostle adapted for the divine service held on Sunday, 06 September 2015 at Midrand Congregation.

Devotions: September

“Professing our faith”—that is the main theme in the month of September. After all, professing faith is a fundamental task assumed by all Christians at the time of their baptism. They only become true Christians once they fulfil this task. “Christian tradition states that only true believers can be assigned to the invisible, concealed church, in contrast to those who, though baptized, neither believe in Jesus nor profess Him as their Lord”(Catechism 6.5).

Each of the four Sunday divine services in September emphasizes different facets of the way in which New Apostolic Christians can profess their faith.

The divine service on 6 September puts the emphasis on professing our faith in both word and deed, in consideration of the fact that the goodness and love of God transcend anything we could ever imagine, and are thus truly worthy of our thanks and praise.

The second Sunday service highlights the example of Apostle Peter in order to demonstrate how to properly profess the Lord in the congregation, to our neighbour, and by following.

The next Sunday deals with our responsibility to pass the New Apostolic faith along to the younger generation. This task not only falls to parents, but to every member of the congregation. We can best do this through credible words and actions.

The focus of the last Sunday service in September is on asking in the name of Jesus. In order for our petitions to be granted, they must be rooted in belief in Jesus Christ and must conform to His will. Those who bring their petitions to the Lord with such a heart’s attitude thereby give a clear profession of their faith. God will respond to those who pray for a strong faith, endurance in trials, grace, oneness, and the first resurrection.

September 2015: His work – or our work?

When you identify with a cause, you make that cause your own. This was also how it was for David, who made it his cause to bring back the Ark of the Covenant and build the temple.  That was how important the sanctification of the people through the right form of worship was to him. However, God corrected David’s ideas about this endeavour in one decisive point. David would have dearly loved to have begun the construction of the temple himself, but God had something else in mind: his son Solomon was to build the temple. David subjected himself to the Lord’s will and simply gathered all the necessary materials so that his son could make a reality of these plans.

We all have our own ideas and thoughts about how God’s work should look, how it should be led, and how it should be completed. But here and there God makes it clear to us that our well-intentioned ideas do not correspond to His plan. Are we at such times prepared to say, “Yes Lord, it is Your work. Lead it as You please”? Or do we withdraw and take offence?  Shouldn’t God be able to require of us the same that He has always required of all those who have ever committed themselves to His cause, namely that they should leave the leading to Him and put their own ideas into the background from time to time? A tried and true servant of God once coined the phrase: “God will not necessarily complete our work, but we can be certain that He will complete His work”. This is an important statement ‒ and it is not just for ministers.

* Food for thought from a divine service by the Chief Apostle