On Sunday 10 May 2020,  District Apostle Helper Mandla P Mkhwanazi conducted the Sunday morning divine service at Sandton congregation in Gauteng. The divine service was conducted in Zulu and translated into English at the altar. 

He was accompanied by Apostle Page and a small 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. 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: Lord, my Saviour and my Shepherd (EH96)

Bible word: “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” (Hebrews 13:8)

District Apostle Helper:

My dear brothers and sisters, our topic for this divine service is: God does not change His promises. It is pleasing that both the soprano and the organ reiterated this fact. This is pleasing to the soul. This is an important day in which we honour our mothers. That’s why we say, “mothers, we love you and we respect you”. A certain author likened a mother to a tea bag that when submerged in hot water this is where one sees how strong the tea is. We say we are aware of your strength. God bless you!

Let us now come to our word for today. We have read from Hebrews. It says Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever. The book of Hebrews elaborates on the activities of Jesus mentioning that Jesus Christ is the mediator of the new covenant. This is the theme that becomes evident in Hebrews. But when we read from the first verse to the seventeenth verse of our Bible word chapter then we discover that it is written about instructions for good conduct which it describes as practical holiness. We remember that at one stage Jesus said: let us be perfect because our heavenly Father is also perfect. Somebody might say, how can a man be perfect? We remember that what is impossible with man is possible with God. That perfection means being holy. Apostle Peter also said let us be holy because the God we serve is Holy. That is good conduct according to Godly standards. We can also do it; we can also live it because the world in which we live needs citizens that are abiding to the Godly law. Brothers and sisters, I think we can all agree that in our lives, there are many people who are iconic and whom we respect, people who we will always recognise because they had a great influence in our lives. This becomes evident when we quote them because this shows how influential they have become in our lives. Such people have contributed to the well-being of our society. We say thank you to them. God becomes a blessing to us through them that is why God wants all of us to be a blessing to our neighbours. That is the most important reason for us to become like Jesus. Because when we think of the holiness of Jesus, the One who is our King, that makes us not to conceal our feelings about Him, because Jesus is embodied in our lives.

The Bible word we have read says this Jesus does not change. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. He will never change in His promises because He wants to grant us salvation. He wants us to overcome sin. He wants us to be holy and to live according to the will of God. One may ask: who is Jesus Christ? That reminds me of a Sunday School child. Children normally say: Jesus, the child, referring only to the child. We are very thankful to the Sunday School teachers because of the foundation they lay in our hearts by teaching us to know Jesus. We also thank our parents for having shown us the way to Jesus and to God. If we must know who this Jesus is, let us now build on this foundation and elaborate by saying: Jesus is the One who was rejected by the people; the One who was despised by the people.

Even today, this still happens. Jesus is still rejected. He is still despised. But, in essence, this Jesus is God. He is the King, the Redeemer and the Mediator of the new covenant. The scripture teaches us that Jesus is God, who is also the Son. Looking at Jesus as the Son, we see a second person in the trinity. But the fact that there is a Father and a Son does not mean that there is one greater than the other. We serve a triune God; Father, Son and Holy Spirit. He does not change in His calling – He still calls today as He did when He was on earth. He wants us to believe and to confess Him as God and believe that He was born as a human being, died, rose and ascended into heaven after completing His task as an overcomer. What we need to believe is that He will return: that is the calling of Jesus. When He calls us He wants us to keep our commandment: that is to love God and our neighbour. He calls us to glorify and honour Him and to give sincere sacrifices concerning the wellbeing of our society. His work of salvation, the church, will continue to exist until His return. Let us, for this moment ponder on the calling of Jesus.

We have spoken about who Jesus is: the One who does not change and that He calls all of us. Let us not despise or reject Him. Now how do we respond to this call of Jesus Christ? He expects a response from us. When we read the book of Hebrews it says: let us not harden our hearts. Let us not harden our hearts when He calls us. We can easily respond if we reflect on our heroes of faith. There are many who responded by saying: here I am, Lord. We all remember Samuel who said: I am here, Lord. We remember Jacob who said: I am here, Lord. There are many heroes who responded to this call from Jesus. Let us turn to Christ and respond by saying: here I am, Lord.

If we believe in Jesus, He wants to make us His witnesses and servants. We are very thankful for the good works of the children of God in order to spread the gospel of Christ. Even Jesus Himself responded to God; that is why He came to the world. It was never an easy experience on earth; they despised Him, and never accepted Him. At the end, Jesus had to make a sacrifice by dying for us to demonstrate His love for all of us. In all these situations, Jesus fulfilled his mission. That is why, in our case, the plight we are facing – Covid 19 – this is a critical situation that Jesus understands. We have heard that Jesus Christ is the Man of sorrow who went through suffering; that’s why He understands our situation. Let us not allow our trust in Jesus to diminish. In the hearts of many, there are questions: where is God? These circumstances, He understands, He is there; let us cling to Him! We can respond to Jesus as Apostle Paul did, who after repenting and receiving strength, who said: I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ for it is the power of Christ to those who believe in salvation. Once a person reaches that state, he is not alone anymore. The spirit of God is already active in His life.

When Jesus was still on earth, the One who was true Man and true God, He also had some human cravings. To mention a few examples, He got hungry and thirsty and some point appeared to have gotten angry. In all these situations, He never transgressed any law. He lived by the will of God. Let us, likewise, imitate Jesus Christ in His good ways. Let it not be, as we experience this lockdown in our homes, that we transgress the laws of the country. All those who are in Christ display good conduct that glorifies God. Now is the time of demonstrating that our will is the will of God. That is our response to Jesus Christ. We can also respond by humbling ourselves as Jesus Christ, humbled himself to His Father’s will.

We know he will return! He can return at any time. He will return while we still have some plans of doing good tomorrow. That is why, in everything we do, we must know that we want to leave the earth a better place. Even if we know at the end, there will be a new earth – we do our share. Jesus Christ invites us to share His eternal kingdom. Jesus Christ does not change His promises; He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. So let us come and glorify the Lord.

How do we summarize the service? We have been taught three points:

1. The first point is: we want to model Jesus Christ. I like this word. We want to imitate Jesus by our good conduct that way we glorify His name.
2. Secondly, we want to remain strong and firm in faith in all situations – in difficult situations and in situations where we are happy. Let us remember that these difficult circumstances bring forth modern-day heroes. We invite all of you, especially the young people, to be heroes and witnesses of Jesus Christ
3. The last point says: by humbling ourselves, we want to be witnesses and servants of God.
Now we shall prepare for the forgiveness of sins: that is a very important level of our faith. In preparation for this, I want to read a few verses of Luke 17 where it says: “Then as He entered a certain village, there met Him ten men who were lepers, who stood afar off. And they lifted up their voices and said, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” So when He saw them, He said to them, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And so it was that as they went, they were cleansed.

My dear brothers and sisters let us reflect at that time. If a person had leprosy, they were not accepted by society. He was always isolated. In today’s terms, if we can contextualise it, it can be seen as a type of social distancing. Leprosy showed itself in many different types. It was leprosy that was on flesh carried in clothing and even on the walls of the infected person’s house. A person who was infected by leprosy had to go to the priest and the priest would have to make a sacrifice for the man to be cleansed. He would also pronounce on the person's health. That’s why, when these ten men saw Jesus, they cried in a loud voice: this powerful King who is a great Redeemer, Jesus, who is a mediator – that’s why He was able to help them. But only one came back to thank Jesus. That’s why we have to look, as Jesus is about to forgive our sins now. In leprosy, man had to be cleansed. But now, only one thing is needed and that is forgiveness. Even though in these times we find ourselves sanitising – that is only for the flesh and not for the spirit. In our spirit, we need forgiveness. Amen.
Please pray the Lord’s prayer.

Thoughts from District Apostle Helper Mandla P Mkhwanazi
(Divine service conducted in Zulu, translated into English at the altar)