On Wednesday 29 July 2020, Bishop Gregory February conducted the midweek divine service at Silvertown congregation.
He was accompanied by District Evangelist Johan Laubscher, 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: I will guide thee (EH: 187) verses 1 & 3
Bible word: “You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.” 2 Timothy 2:1
My dear brothers and sisters, it is a joy for us to gather in this beautiful forum together with you. And this time, wherever you are, most of you in the comfort of your own homes and giving thanks unto our heavenly Father that we have this opportunity to still worship our God. Yes, there are many restrictions that we face. There are so many things we have to be mindful of in this time; a period that many of us find uncomfortable. However, we know that our God is in charge; He is in control of everything. And therefore, we place ourselves in His hands, and whatever He provides for us we say thank you, dear God, because it is precious. We are aware that so many are going through difficult circumstances in life – pain, hardship and suffering that they feel, however, for us it is so important to know that the Lord is with us and He will help us and strengthen us no matter what. Therefore we align ourselves with our heavenly Father.
And this is grace. The Bible word I read to you is a very simple word where it says that “You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.” These are the words of the Apostle Paul that he directs to Timothy – he calls him his son. We know that Apostle Paul was never married and he never had any children. However, Timothy was a servant of God that was very close to the Apostle Paul, and the Apostle almost adopted or saw him as his son and he addressed him because there was a great need for this. The Apostle Paul found himself speaking to Timothy for one reason and that is that he wanted him to focus his ministry and preaching on the gospel of Jesus Christ which stood for following in suffering. This is what he would experience throughout his ministry with his fellow Christians. Not all of them were happy with the words and guidance Jesus gave – they weren’t totally preaching the gospel of Jesus – some of them were preaching another doctrine and the Apostle wanted to make sure that Timothy continued with this teaching that Jesus Christ has given.
Our word speaks about ‘my son, be strong in the grace of God.’ We live by the grace of God as children of God, and the Lord God loves us so that we are able to fulfil what He does for us; and what we need to do for Him in our lives as well. And, therefore, we also understand that we live by this wonderful grace that God has given to us. Grace is undeserved love. Grace, for us, is what the Lord has given unto us which we don’t normally deserve, but He has decided to give it unto us. Therefore, it is important for us to realise the grace that our Father gives unto us. He gives grace unto us in many forms. In Holy Scripture, one can find many examples of grace that our heavenly Father shows unto you and I. When I think about the choosing of so many servants, there are so many examples that we can mention. I take one of them: Noah; a godly man. God chose him for a reason. God knew that he would do what He instructs him to do. And when we think about the instruction that was given to Noah then it must have been very difficult because the Lord asked him to build an ark. And the surroundings and the place where the ark was to be built was in a place where there was no rain for a very long time. But, he trusted in God and he built the ark.
And, we look in our time today, at you and I, how many times haven’t we looked at ourselves and asked ‘Lord, why have You chosen me? What do I possess to be the source of strength or help unto the one or other?’ We look at our neighbours and see that there are so many who have better qualities than you and I. I once spoke to a retired Priest and I asked him this question as well. And then he said: “The Lord did not call you for the qualities that you possess; maybe you’re a wonderful person filled with humility, but He didn’t call you for that. The Lord called you because of what He wants to do through you. And that is the grace of our heavenly Father.” And, therefore, it is important for us to recognise the grace that our heavenly Father gives unto you and me, and how he utilises us to fulfil this beautiful work that He grants unto us. Grace is unconditional love; unconditional kindness; unconditional benevolence – that beloved brothers and sisters is the grace of our heavenly Father. Our heavenly Father has created man so that they can be entrusted with the responsibilities that he has in store for him. And we know, from the very beginning, that the first man, Adam, the Lord God entrusted him with a great responsibility – with which we are also entrusted – and that is to look after God’s creation. And, we know that this did not materialise completely. However, God did not desert man – He continued to love man – He still had a plan of action for mankind. And, therefore, He sent His Son Jesus Christ.
And Jesus is the personification of grace. We have heard recently that Jesus is love; tonight we hear that He is the personification of grace. He is the personification of grace because He died for the sins of mankind – not only those who loved Him; not only those who followed Him; not only those who were close to Him – but he died for the sins of all mankind; He sacrificed His life. Do we not see this as grace? The mere fact that He could rise from the grave; is that not also a wonderful victory over hell and death – a hymn that we sing ‘Death, where is thy sting, Grave where is thy victory?’ Not even the grave could hold Jesus Christ. And this grace will also be extended unto you and I. Ultimately, as it says in Holy Scripture, that when the Lord Jesus comes, the dead in Christ will rise first, and all those who are still alive will ascend and be with Him. What a wonderful experience to look forward to – we look forward to this with great joy and anticipation.
Our heavenly Father loves us and He will never stop bestowing us with this wonderful grace. He has continued to bestow the life of God within us – the Holy Spirit. And that is what we have received to help us; to strengthen us; to make us what the Lord God wants us to be. And the Holy Spirit, dear brothers and sisters, serves as a source of strength, a source of comfort unto us. We also possess the wonderful gift through the Holy Spirit that we can reach out to our fellow man; to help them also through the circumstances, the pain and suffering that we go through. And yes, sometimes, as we have heard not so long ago, our neighbour is not an easy person to work with. Sometimes, we look at them but we cannot speak to them. However, we can pray for them, and that is the grace of our heavenly Father that He allows us the opportunity to reach out to our fellow man. There are times that we stumble. There are times that we make mistakes. But once again, the Holy Spirit is there to help us; to embrace us; to take us through this wonderful experience so that we can overcome the battles we are faced with as children of God. Our heavenly Father has a plan for us, and His ultimate plan is that we will be with Him in His kingdom forever. And the beauty of this plan is that no one can stop this plan of salvation. God has intended that we have the opportunity and the grace to be with Him in His kingdom for time and all eternity.
Beloved brothers and sisters, to summarize our divine service: our God is indeed great. He loves us; He cares for us; He provides us with all that which we need. This is His love; this is His grace; this is His unconditional benevolence or kindness that He bestows His grace upon you and I as He has bestowed it upon so many in our time, and even us dear brothers and sisters, we experience this wonderful grace. He has sent His Son into this world. True Man and true God – that was Jesus. And He came and helped so many. And maybe, if I can add, the miracles that He performed were also part of the grace of God – to help the one or the other. Sometimes, the people Jesus helped did not even believe in Him – they just heard of what the Lord Jesus Christ did and the Lord performed a miracle in their lives and this was also grace. And then, the Holy Spirit my dear brothers and sisters, God provides unto you and I as a source of strength; as a source of power, to help us overcome the battles we are faced with. The Holy Spirit helps us, supports us, embraces us and gives us the strength we need to overcome the battles of faith we are faced with on a daily basis. May the Lord God bless you and I and strengthen us so that when we experience His return we are then able to partake of this wonderful blessing: to be with our heavenly Father and His Son in His kingdom for time and all eternity. Amen.
Thoughts from Bishop Gregory February