On Wednesday 15 July 2020, Bishop Daniel Mdhluli conducted the midweek divine service at Sandton congregation.
He was accompanied by District Elder Bradley Bourne, a small NACTV crew and an organist. This divine service was made available on NACTV, YouTube and 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: On Zion’s Mount of radiant light (EH: 205)
Bible word: “And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers.” (Acts 2:42)
This evening, again, dear brothers and sisters, we are thankful to be in God’s house where God will speak to us with one purpose: to strengthen our faith because we need that supporter at all times in our lives. God will always strengthen us, and we persevere on this journey that is leading us to our glorious future – that is where our eyes should be – to the glorious future our God has prepared for us to be.
I read you a word that is very popular within our church and, I guess this word, has made others repent in many situations when they heard about what the Christians did in Jerusalem. And, indeed, they laid this foundation for us so that, today, we can use this word and be able to look into the future. At that point in time, during the time of the early church, as we know, it was not so easy. It was after the Lord Jesus died and arose, and at that point in time, the church had to establish itself. And we are thankful for the zeal and the determination the Apostles of the time had, and we are thankful for the seed they planted because today we reap on what they planted at that time. And, at that point in time, they had to become the witnesses of Jesus Christ under the difficult time, under the leadership of the Romans. But they persevered even though it was difficult. God was also very supportive in the process. We remember that great time, especially on the day of Pentecost, when a great miracle happened, when a lot of people accepted the doctrine of Jesus, and many were brought into the work of God and many became His children. We are thankful to the many children of God at that point in time.
The work also had to grow in other areas. Other congregations were also established in the process. And, today, we are perhaps in a more privileged situation because, at that time, the people didn’t have church buildings like we do; they congregated in member’s homes. But, out of that, we are so thankful that the faith of gold developed under those circumstances. Now when we look at this and read our Bible word, a big word that comes forth is ‘steadfastness’. They achieved all of these things because they were steadfast. There were many challenges, there were many voices, but they did not allow these voices to disturb them – they did not listen to other voices. And it says here that they were steadfast in the Apostles’ doctrine. Perhaps, there, I need to qualify something: it did not mean that the Apostles had their own doctrine and Jesus had His own doctrine. No. it was the gospel of Jesus the Apostles were preaching to the people at that point in time. And, they received this gospel, believed in it and they went forward with it. This gospel of Jesus is still relevant, as it was in the past dear brothers and sisters. We are thankful for it because it is taking us to the glory of God – we are thankful for this wonderful teaching –it has everything in it.
It is also helping us and teaching us to become like Jesus. We grow into the nature and likeness of Jesus – that’s what this gospel is all about. Then we will be with Jesus someday if we stay on it if we are steadfast on it. Of course, Jesus did warn us that in the last days, many will say ‘here is the Lord this side’, ‘here is that Lord that side’, and He said we must be careful and just stick to His word. We are thankful for that because even today, the Apostles of today are still leading us with the same gospel Jesus gave the Apostles that time.
Beloved, we also need to be steadfast in fellowship. What does that mean to us? It means we need to live together as brothers and sisters, and for that, we need love. Love is the glue that will be able to help us in the process within the congregation, within the space of the family home, within the space of every individual. We can have this true love of God that will help us work together and will create the space of a wonderful fellowship amongst us. This love will also help us have the willingness reconcile. My dear brothers and sisters, let me dwell a little bit on this point: let us always be willing to reconcile at all times. Especially in a congregation setting, it is important that as brothers and sisters, we are able to reconcile at all times. If something goes wrong, it is not the most important, but we need to learn to reconcile and leave everything with the Lord. The Lord will help us through the process. If we do not reconcile, that will take us back and our faith will not grow. Let us always make sure that we reconcile with each other. We want to reach out to our brothers and sisters, especially those who are perhaps not in the congregation anymore – we must think of them – we want to long for them to also come back to the Lord’s work, and we must support this process at all times. Let us have this wonderful fellowship the Lord has created for us. It worked for the brethren in the past; it will work for us too in our days.
We also need to be steadfast in the breaking of bread. We are thankful that, from time to time, when we have the opportunity, to celebrate the body and blood of Christ, our Lord in the celebration of Holy Communion. Those must always be the holy moments that unite us because then we commemorate the death of Christ, and through that, we become closer and closer to Christ. When those opportunities come, we must always be thankful. At the moment, we cannot experience that privilege, but we want to make sure that, at all times, we are able to reconcile and help each other.
We also need to be steadfast in our prayers. Our prayers help us to cultivate this closeness with our triune God. When we pray to God more, He comes closer to us – we feel the presence of God at all time and that helps us to trust God more. Let us trust God also with our challenges, our issues, our difficulties – with everything – because our God listens at all times. When we pray, let us also pray for each other – pray for everyone because our prayers are needed, beloved. We also need to continue to pray for our brethren in yonder world – they also need our prayers – and that is important to all of us. We also need to pray for the Church of Christ; that Christ continues to lead His church so that one day His work can be completed. We are privileged to part of this work.
If we look at this Bible word: being steadfast in these few things, the Apostles’ doctrine, the fellowship, Holy Communion, the breaking of bread, the prayers – if we remain steadfast in these things, then we will receive this message: the Apostles of Jesus, their main function is to ensure that they keep the return of the Lord alive in us. And we need to make it alive and live it at all times; the Apostles are assisting us in the process. Let us continue on this wonderful journey. But, above all, let us also pray for the Apostles of Jesus – these men of God who work tirelessly, who pray for us, who support us even under these difficult times. Let us also pray for them as well that God gives them strength so that they can take us to the kingdom of God. And I am sure that God, our heavenly Father, will be able to achieve this eventually. Amen.
Thoughts from Bishop Daniel Mdhluli