Month: February 2016

February Youth Formal: Balance of modern day challenges with God’s will

The Youth Formal held by the New Apostolic Church in Gauteng focused on the balancing of modern day challenges with God’s will.

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Issues explored during the session was

  • moving in together
  • sex before marriage
  • clubbing
  • alcohol
  • drugs
  • using Jesus doctrine as our compass
  • fruits and gifts of the spirit

Click here to learn more about what was said on each of these points.

Share your thoughts on what was said in the comments section below. What do you think about the explanation of each of these points?

Devotions: March

The theme of the divine service for the departed at the beginning of March draws our attention to the offer of salvation founded upon the suffering and death of Christ: His sacrifice makes it possible for all human beings to be reconciled with God. In order to attain this reconciliation, however, it is necessary to believe in Jesus Christ and receive the sacraments.

The three ensuing divine services are all about the Passion of Jesus Christ. We thereby commemorate the suffering of Christ and its effects. In the second divine service of the month, the focus is on Holy Communion, which Jesus instituted in the circle of His disciples. This supper is the basis for our celebration of Holy Communion in the divine service.

The further events of salvation history relating to Passiontide include Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem, His arrest and trial, the sentence pronounced over Him, the associated mocking and scourging, and ultimately His walk to Golgotha and His cruel death on the cross.

The divine service on Palm Sunday reminds us of how Jesus entered into Jerusalem amid the great cheers of the crowds. Like the people in the time of Jesus, we too have certain expectations of God. Often we do not understand His actions. It is the Holy Spirit who leads us into the knowledge of Jesus Christ.

On Good Friday we commemorate the death of Jesus. This event makes it seem as though evil has won—but it is precisely in this situation of abasement that the majesty of Jesus becomes clear. Jesus Christ is the true King, who truly rules and suffers for His own!

The celebration of Easter is the highpoint of the church year. It is a celebration of resurrection and the hope for life. After the ignominious crucifixion of Jesus, evil seemed to have triumphed over good. The resurrection of Jesus Christ, however, demonstrates the power of God over evil and death. This resurrection gives believers the justified hope in their own resurrection and eternal life.

Worship, humbleness, intercession

Oh come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the Lord our Maker. — Psalm 95: 6

Message

Let us worship God, humble ourselves, and intercede on behalf of the departed.

The 95th psalm invites the people of Israel to give glory to God. The praying congregation, whom we must imagine assembled in the temple, is called upon to worship God, who has created the world and steers it in His complete sovereignty (verses 3–5). After all, the believers themselves are works of the Creator. They are “the people of His pasture, and the sheep of His hand” (verse 7). This hand leads and guides all things.

Praying, bowing down, kneeling

The posture of the believer who comes to the Creator in adoration is described by way of praying, kneeling, and bowing down. Such an attitude is also necessary in our preparation for the upcoming divine service for the departed.

Our preparation consists of three stages

Worship

  • Let us first of all turn to God in order to worship Him as the psalmist recommends in our Bible text. Let us take the time to reflect upon God’s omnipotence, omniscience, and perfection!
  • While we are at it, let us also think about the love of Jesus, which has triumphed over hell and death (Revelation 1: 18). Such reflection leads us to the fear of God. This in turn leads us to gratitude, strengthens our trust in God, and stimulates our desire to live with Him, the triune God, into all eternity.

Humbleness

  • We are aware of the majesty of God, and humble ourselves before Him. We do not run around in sackcloth and ashes, as was the custom in ancient times (Jonah 3: 6). Instead we reflect upon our sinfulness. It is in this manner that we recognise, on the one hand, that it is impossible for us to understand God’s thoughts and actions. On the other hand we distance ourselves from our prejudices, and endeavour to see our neighbour as God sees him.

Intercession

  • On the basis of our gratitude for the grace we have received, we develop the desire to share this same grace with the souls in the We trust in the love of Christ and therefore do not allow ourselves to be deterred by questions of how and why.
  • In the Spirit of Christ we intercede for and invite all the departed so that they may come close to Him in order to find deliverance.

Let us not only think about our own salvation, but rather also that of all the living and the dead. We will only be able to enjoy eternal bliss once we no longer exclude anyone else from it. That is an expression of love for God and our neighbour.

* Thoughts from the Chief Apostle adapted for the divine service held on Sunday, 28 February 2016 at Midrand Congregation in preparation for Departed Service.

7 Biblical Steps to Restoring Relationships and Broken Fellowship

God has restored our relationship with Him through Christ, and has given us this ministry of restoring relationships. — 2 Corinthians 5:18 (GWT)

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Focusing on our spiritual growth, the Shepherd has asked that we read this article on 7 Biblical Steps to Restoring Relationships and Broken Fellowship by Rick Warren which originally appeared on faithgateway.

He would also like to hear your thoughts in the comment section below on the article and the topic at hand.

Relationships are always worth restoring. God has given us the ministry of restoring relationships. For this reason a significant amount of the New Testament is devoted to teaching us how to get along with one another.

If you’ve gotten anything at all out of following Christ, if His love has made any difference in your life, if being in a community of the Spirit means anything to you, if you have a heart, if you care — then do me a favor: Agree with each other, love each other, be deep-spirited friends. Philippians 2:1-2 (MSG)

Shame on you! Surely there is at least one wise person in your fellowship who can settle a dispute between fellow Christians. 1 Corinthians 6:5 (TEV)

I’ll put it as urgently as I can: You must get along with each other. 1 Corinthians 1:10 (MSG)

Jesus said, “God blesses those who work for peace, for they will be called the children of God.” — Matthew 5:9 (NLT)

You are only hurting yourself with your anger. Job 18:4 (TEV)

God has called us to settle our relationships with each other. — 2 Corinthians 5:18 (MSG)

Here are seven biblical steps to restoring fellowship:

1. Talk to God before talking to the person.

What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. James 4:1-2 (NIV)

2. Always take the initiative.

Jesus said, “If you enter your place of worship and, about to make an offering, you suddenly remember a grudge a friend has against you, abandon your offering, leave immediately, go to this friend and make things right. Then and only then, come back and work things out with God.” Matthew 5:23-24 (MSG)

3. Sympathize with their feelings.

Look out for another’s interests, not just for your own. — Philippians 2:4 (TEV)

A person’s wisdom yields patience;
it is to one’s glory to overlook an offense. Proverbs 19:11 (NIV)

Let’s please the other fellow, not ourselves, and do what is for his good. Romans 15:2 (LB)

Do not use harmful words, but only helpful words, the kind that build up and provide what is needed, so that what you say will do good to those who hear you. Ephesians 4:29 (TEV)

4. Confess your part of the conflict.

Jesus said, “First get rid of the log from your own eye; then perhaps you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye.” — Matthew 7:5 (NLT)

If we claim that we’re free of sin, we’re only fooling ourselves. 1 John 1:8 (MSG)

5. Attack the problem, not the person.

When my thoughts were bitter and my feelings were hurt, I was as stupid as an animal. — Psalm 73:21-22 (TEV)

A gentle response defuses anger, but a sharp tongue kindles a temper-fire. Proverbs 15:1 (MSG)

A wise, mature person is known for his understanding. The more pleasant his words, the more persuasive he is. Proverbs 16:21 (TEV)

6. Cooperate as much as possible.

Do everything possible on your part to live in peace with everybody. Romans 12:18 (TEV)

You’re blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight. That’s when you discover who you really are, and your place in God’s family. Matthew 5:9 (MSG)

7. Emphasize reconciliation, not resolution.

Work hard at living at peace with others. 1 Peter 3:11 (NLT)

Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.” Matthew 5:9 (NIV)

Christ did not indulge His own feelings… as scripture says: The insults of those who insult you fall on me. Romans 15:3 (NJB)

Click here for the original publication of this article which appears in faithgateway and to read more.

And don’t forget to share your thoughts in the comments section below.

God grants good gifts

Or what man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent? Matthew 7: 9–10

Message

Let us pray for good and perfect gifts such that we may give the same to our neighbour.

Our Bible text is part of the Sermon on the Mount and provides us with information on how to pray. After Jesus had taught the people the Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6: 9 et seq) He went on to make it clear that those who pray can count on their prayers being answered by God. God does not heedlessly ignore the pleas of those who pray (Matthew 7: 7 8). This certainty is illustrated in verses 9 and 10 by way of the relationship between a father and his son. The father will give his son something good and not something bad. So if a sinful human being already makes the endeavour to give good things to his loved ones, how much more does this not apply to God, who Himself is goodness.

Bread and fish versus stone and snake

It is interesting what kinds of things Jesus contrasts here in order to illustrate His reference to fulfilled prayers. Bread and fish was the usual food at the time of Jesus (Mark 6: 38 et seq; John 21: 13). A stone can look like a loaf of bread, just as a snake can resemble a fish. Although similar in outward form, bread and fish are of use for the sustenance of the body, while stones and snakes are not. Thus one cannot replace good and valuable gifts with useless imitations of lesser value. Man, who is sinful, is capable of deceiving others in this manner. How often have we not been victims of such deceit! How good it is that such things never happen to us at the hand of God! God is the epitome of goodness and perfection.

God grants us good and perfect gifts

Anything that human beings produce is temporal and imperfect. Even our knowledge is fragmented, as Apostle Paul states in the first epistle to the Corinthians. However, he also goes on to give us a new perspective: one day perfection will dawn, and all things partial will cease (1 Corinthians 13: 9–10). Those who pray believingly, however, can already experience today that the Father in heaven grants them good and perfect gifts.

What is good and perfect?

All things that correspond to the will of God are good and perfect. Thus it is quite comprehensible that God only ever grants the supplicant that which corresponds to His divine will. His perfect will incorporates

  • Our redemption. For this we must grow into the nature of the Crucified and Risen One. The Lord lets us live through various things in order to lead us into this knowledge and sustain us in it.
  • Peace among mankind. To begin with, this peace is rooted in our own efforts to make peace with ourselves and our situations of life. This requires gratitude and contentedness on our part. There are various pleas that God will not grant—namely if granting them would lead us to become overwhelmed or discontent.
  • Oneness among one another. The Lord expects this of the bridal congregation. Those who ask God for this will receive power to overcome envy, resentments, and divisions.
  • The rapture of the bride through His Son. Let us never allow any imitations of lesser value, conceived by man, to replace this goal of faith!

Let us make the endeavour to ask God for these good and perfect gifts. Thereby we will receive the power to proclaim the will of God to our fellow human beings and interact with them in the nature of Christ.

* Thoughts from the Chief Apostle adapted for the divine service held on Sunday, 21 February 2016 at Midrand Congregation.

Gaining victories

Featured on nac.today is a series of videos and messages aligned with the 2016 theme Victory with Christ.

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Gaining victories — over evil (1/6)

What this means for everyday life and how Christians deal with the truth, sincerity, and a lack of love was explained by Chief Apostle Jean-Luc Schneider in a divine service on 3 January 2016.

Fighting evil and overcoming fear and our own weaknesses are the tasks for New Apostolic Christians in the coming year. At the beginning of the year, the Chief Apostle issued the annual motto for 2016: Victory with Christ.

In the first divine service of the new year the Chief Apostle spoke about how we can put the motto into practice. When Christians fight against evil it means that they are sincere at all times and keep the commandments of God—regardless of whether we are the only ones who adopt such an attitude in a given situation.

Gaining victories — over fears about family and work (2/6)

Fear can poison our relationship to our neighbour and to God, Chief Apostle Schneider said in a divine service on 3 January. With Christ we can overcome fears.

Fighting evil and overcoming fear and our own weaknesses is what New Apostolic Christians have to work on in the coming year. At the beginning of the year, the Chief Apostle issued the annual motto for 2016: Victory with Christ.

In the first service of the new year, the Chief Apostle addressed our worries and fears over our children, the family, and our jobs. Worries about the future are normal unless they become an obsession, the Chief Apostle said and went on to explain the difference.

Gaining victories — over fears about the future of the church (3/6)

Is Christianity going to disappear from the face of this earth? Will the pews in our churches soon be empty? “No!” Chief Apostle Jean-Luc Schneider said in the divine service on 3 January. Such fears can be vanquished with Christ.

Fighting evil and overcoming fear and our own weaknesses is what New Apostolic Christians will work on in the coming year. At the beginning of the year, the Chief Apostle issued his motto for 2016: Victory with Christ.

In this divine service, the Chief Apostle addressed the fears of Christians regarding the future of their church and, in this connection, brought up the declining attendance of our services. He pointed out that despite all these developments God’s offer of salvation still stands. Nothing has changed: God will fulfil His promises.

Gaining victories — over the fear of assuming responsibility (4/6)

People today are afraid of making commitments, whether it is getting married, having a family, or taking on a ministry in the Church. In a divine service on 3 January, Chief Apostle Jean-Luc Schneider encouraged the brothers and sisters to take heart and say yes when it comes to such commitments.

Fighting evil and overcoming fear and our own weaknesses is the task assigned to New Apostolic Christians for the year 2016. At the beginning of the year, the Chief Apostle issued his motto: Victory with Christ.

In this divine service the Chief Apostle also addressed people’s fears of making commitments and taking on responsibility. In view of rising divorce rates many are afraid of getting married. But even today, Chief Apostle Schneider said, there is good chance of a happy marriage if the focus is on Jesus Christ and His values.

Gaining victories: overcoming our own pride and prejudices (5/6)

To accept our neighbour in his otherness and to follow divine advice irrespective of our own ideas … This is another point on our agenda this year, set out by Chief Apostle Jean-Luc Schneider.

Fighting evil and overcoming fear and our own weaknesses is the task assigned to New Apostolic Christians for the year 2016. At the beginning of the year, the Chief Apostle issued his motto: Victory with Christ.

Nothing seems more difficult than giving up our own ideas and accepting divine truths. If God’s response to our request for help is different to what we expected, we tend to be offended and withdraw from God or react with reproaches and accusations. The Chief Apostle asks his brothers and sisters to overcome their own pride and accept God’s advice—an ambitious task.

Gaining victories: staying calm in disputes (6/6)

Venting one’s anger and making a dispute public spoils one’s chances of easily eliminating a conflict. Chief Apostle Jean-Luc Schneider recommends that we shift down a gear.

Fighting evil and overcoming fear and our own weaknesses is the task assigned to New Apostolic Christians for the year 2016. At the beginning of the year, the Chief Apostle issued his motto: Victory with Christ.

Many want to reconcile with their neighbour and straighten things out. But this goal may be unattainable if the neighbour has just been publicly exposed and embarrassed, and opinions and views have been shared with the rest of the world. “This simply will not do!” the Chief Apostle says and recommends that we exercise restraint when it comes to venting our frustration publicly.

God provides for us

Therefore do not worry, saying, “What shall we eat?” or “What shall we drink?” or “What shall we wear?” For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. — Matthew 6: 31–32

Message

We trust in God, the Omniscient, for He provides for us in all things.

In the Sermon on the Mount, which is recorded in Matthew 5–7, Jesus addresses His Jewish contemporaries. With the words from Matthew 6: 31–32 He warns the people not to let their lives revolve solely around their natural needs. This is also reminiscent of the attitude of the people of Israel at the time of Moses.

A look back to the people of Israel

The Israelites suffered heavily as a result of their forced labour in Egypt (Exodus 1: 13–14), and their longing for liberty was great. God intervened and led His people out of slavery in a miraculous way and delivered them from their pursuers. Moses and the people praised and glorified God in response (Exodus 15: 1–13).

But only a few days later already, there was not even a trace of joy remaining over their liberation and deliverance. The people began to complain, “What are we supposed to drink?” and they began to look back longingly to the fleshpots of Egypt (Exodus 15: 24; 16: 3). Their concern over the earthly overshadowed everything else, even though God had already performed many miracles in the desert and provided for His people in a miraculous way.

The admonition of the Lord also applies to our time

We have no right to condemn this behaviour of the Israelites! People today are just as quick to let their lives revolve exclusively around their earthly needs as ever. For this reason, the admonition of the Lord from the Sermon on the Mount is also relevant to the people of God in the present. God has given His Son for our redemption. The path to eternal life has been established by Christ. God grants us salvation and deliverance already today. Nevertheless we must often observe that our joy in the liberty we have gained in Christ is all too often overshadowed by the daily concerns of earthly life.

God expects trust …

Our heavenly Father expects His children to trust Him: He knows what we need—and He will provide for us!

Therefore let us be numbered among thosw

  • Who depend on God in all situations of life. Good things are promised to them (Psalm 84: 11–12).
  • Who trust completely in the omnipotence and compassion of God (2 Corinthians 9: 8).
  • Whose striving—in the awareness of the providence of the Father in heaven—applies first to the kingdom of God, in other words, to fellowship with the triune God (Matthew 6: 33).

…in all situations!

In our time we also see many people who set other priorities, however. They rely on their own strengths and abilities, and work tirelessly for their earthly well-being. They often appear to be more successful than the believers, and so it is that we find ourselves in a dilemma (Psalm 73: 12–13). At such times it is important that we make a conscious effort to focus on God, and seek His nearness. Trust in God is imparted in the house of the Lord, and our eyes are redirected to see our eternal wealth. This makes us thankful and causes us to praise and glorify our Lord (Psalm 73: 28).

* Thoughts from the Chief Apostle adapted for the divine service held on Sunday, 14 February 2016 at Midrand Congregation.

The law of the Kingdom of heaven

Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfil. — Matthew 5: 17

Message

Jesus is the only one to have ever fulfilled the Mosaic Law and has become the lawgiver of the kingdom of heaven.

In the Sermon on the Mount, from which our Bible text is taken, the Son of God addresses both the people of Israel and—looking ahead— the people of the new covenant, in other words, those who partake in the kingdom of heaven. This kingdom has dawned in Him, and in this kingdom there is a new kind of law.

Jesus Christ, the new lawgiver

When it came to observing the Mosaic Law the behaviour of the Son of God was an insult to many Jews.

  • He repealed the consequences prescribed by the law in response to transgressions—for example when His disciples plucked ears of corn on the Sabbath (Catechism 4.3).
  • He prevented the people from inflicting severe punishment upon a sinner who had violated the Mosaic Law. This was the case of the woman who had been caught in the act of adultery and been brought to Him (John 8: 3–11).
  • He healed those who, according to the Judaic understanding, suffered under the inevitable consequences of sin, such as sickness. In fact, He even raised those who had died as a result of sin (Romans 6: 23).
  • He even had the authority to forgive the guilt that had been incurrred before God as a result of sin (Luke 5: 20).

By what power does He do this?

Jesus is the only human being to have ever fulfilled the Mosaic Law. He is the only person to have ever lived up to its demands. As a result He is blameless. He has led a sinless life and proven Himself in all temptations. As the Son of God He was born without any sin, and is thus unburdened by original sin. Jesus Christ is Lord over the Law, for He is also God. As such He has both given and fulfilled the Law.

The giver of the new law

As true Man, Jesus thus fulfilled the law in all its aspects, and was therefore spared its curse (Galatians 3: 10).

As true God, Christ can indeed enforce a new kind of law, namely that of the kingdom of God, which has dawned in Him, the Son of God. The binding elements of this law include:

  • Love for God and our neighbour.
  • Love for one another (John 13: 34).
  • The commandment not to judge (Matthew 7: 1).
  • The obligation to see the Son of God in our neighbour and to treat him accordingly (Matthew 25: 40).

Our task

We cannot invoke the new law given by the Lord to exempt ourselves from our obligation to observe the Ten Commandments proclaimed by Moses to the people of the old covenant. After all, the Son of God did not destroy this law, but rather fulfilled it. In His conversation with the rich young man, He even confirmed its validity for gaining access to the kingdom of heaven, that is to say, for the gospel (Matthew 19: 16–18).

Beyond that, however, it is also important for us to fulfil the laws given by Jesus for the new covenant, since they are binding upon the kingdom of heaven that has dawned in the Son of God and upon its inhabitants.

* Thoughts from the Chief Apostle adapted for the divine service held on Sunday, 07 February 2016 at Midrand Congregation.