On Sunday 11 October 2020, District Apostle J Kriel conducted the morning divine service at Dinwiddie congregation in Gauteng. The divine service was conducted in English and interpreted into South African Sign Language at the altar by Natasha Parkins-Maliko.
He was accompanied by District Apostle Helper M.P Mkhwanazi, Apostles J Joubert, S Mogane and A Page, the District Rectors of Gauteng-Mpumalanga area, along with the local ministers of the congregation, a musical ensemble 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, Infinity FM 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: Here I am, Lord (EH: 133)
Bible word: “For all people walk each in the name of his god, But we will walk in the name of the Lord our God Forever and ever.” (Micah 4:5)
My dear brothers and sisters, I bid you all a hearty welcome to this divine service this morning. And, maybe again, we haven’t said this for a long time, we express our thanks to our partners who make it possible that many members and guests are able to receive the divine service. I thought of this the past week and I maybe have to give a bit of an explanation as to why our activity takes place within an hour, because a great number of our members watch via Cape Town TV and we only have an hour, so please bear with us. I get some complaints and members write and say that the service is so short. I would prefer that complaint, rather than to hear people say that the service is far too long. So, let us make use of the time dear brothers and sisters.
Today, we have a word out of the book of the prophet Micah. And he tells us here in our Bible word, “For all people walk each in the name of his god”. He reminds us of the people of Israel and also relates this to the people of Israel and their neighbours. What makes the people of Israel different? And we see that Israel, in relation to their neighbours, owed their existence and their name to God. God chose them – He chose their name. If you read about Jacob, when Jacob spoke to God and God spoke to Him, God said to him that his name was not going to be Jacob any more, it was going to change to Israel. And so, his name was Israel, and this nation was meant to be a blessing to all and for all nations. And so, we can relate to what Israel was. And God actually took great care of Israel. He freed them from slavery. He brought them out of a condition of slavery and He led them to a promised land – a land that He promised and a promise that He fulfilled – that they could be there in what He promised – that is God. And in exchange for what God did for them, they had to be faithful to God, and they had to walk in the ways of God and be obedient to the laws of God – that was the deal God made. He said to the Israelites that this is what I will do for you, now you be faithful and keep My commandments. And that was what God did for the Israelites as He led them out and He made a covenant with them – many, many covenants He made with the people of Israel, and He fulfilled it, up to a point one could say. And when they did that, things went well with them. And so, we see that was the difference between Israel, the neighbours and the rest. God took care of them, God provided for them.
If we bring this into our time today, “For all people walk each in the name of his god”. And today, that is quite possible because what you decide, and your behaviour is determined by your belief and what priorities you set in life. And we see that around us. Sometimes, we don’t agree with everybody, but it is good to understand. Sometimes, it is a little bit difficult to see what the priorities of people are, but most people walk in the ways of his god. And I hope that I don’t step on anyone’s toes, but you get people who would drive the biggest car they can buy. But I can never understand why they don’t pay the school fees of their children – that’s a story. Somebody would go hungry, but that is not important, as long as he can wear name brand clothing, even though him and his family go hungry. But that is the way they are. And if you see a good salesperson today, he wants to identify what makes you tick, where do you walk, and he pictures your needs or what your priorities are so that he can get the sale. I am not sure if you have any experience, because I belong to the dinosaur series of people who are not too good with online stuff. But have you bought something online, maybe a pair of takkies, and then you get bombarded with adverts of all the different sporting activities, because somebody found out what god you walk in – they discovered that and they bombarded you. And I think that the devil also kind of works that way too, because sometimes some people can’t help themselves and you know what makes them tick a little bit. Maybe just to end that point, I must be careful, I must not talk too much about family members, but when you get to some people, don’t you say ‘oh, you better lock the food away because he’s coming.’ Certain priorities certain people have and that’s maybe, just to explain: “For all people walk each in the name of his god.”
And we want to be careful, and we ask the question: ‘In which way do I walk, who is my God?’ The Bible word makes it very clear it says, “For all people walk each in the name of his god, But we will walk in the name of the Lord our God Forever and ever.” There is no doubt that this was related to the Israelites. If everybody walked in the way that they wanted, they walked in the ways of their god. Dear brothers and sisters, we have a special relationship. Those who have been reborn with water and the Spirit have a special relationship with our God. And that is important because that should determine our actions and our behaviour. Whatever you do, don’t forget our relationship because He freed us, like He freed the Israelites. He freed us from the original sin so that we could be freed. He freed us; He paid the price for us and He freed us as He freed the Israelites. He puts a mark on our heads and our foreheads, He makes us His children by giving us His Spirit – that’s what He has done for us. He gives us and leads us to the promise – this time not Canaan, but a promise of His kingdom – “you will be with Me where I am with the Father forever.” That is what He has done for us. And so, this relationship is good and to pay back our God, we say yes, I will walk in Your ways, I will do what You ask of me, I will follow where You lead me. And that, dear brothers and sisters, is what we want to do. This relationship with God, let that determine our behaviour. I want to say that again, let our behaviour be the basis and the foundation of our relationship with God. Don’t forget that – let us never take that for granted because God called us. Before we were born, He said He loves us, He will cleanse us, He loves us – that is what He said to us. And we want that relationship to remain through our actions and deeds – that is the origin of what we decide. What did a former Chief Apostle say? ‘I have decided for the Lord and that is final.’ Let that be our decision too. And so, we have established what and where our relationship is. And so, we then walk in the ways of our God. He showed us, He gave us a promise and He leads us to His kingdom, so we happily want to walk in that way. Is it always easy? No, but the end will be great. We have to suffer sometimes with Him. Don’t leave this way; we continue to walk in the ways of our God.
We have received the Holy Baptism in the name of the Triune God and then the relationship with Jesus was established. For all Christians who received Holy Baptism, entered into a special relationship with Jesus Christ and thus became a Christian. And when we did that, we made a vow, whether it was at baptism or confirmation, remember the vow we made? ‘I renounce Satan,’ meaning I will leave, wherever I am, ‘and I surrender myself to You, Triune God, Father, Son and the Holy Spirit. In belief, obedience and the earnest resolution, to remain faithful to You until My end.’ Let us not forget that. We made that commitment; we made that vow so that we can walk in the ways of Jesus when we could be baptised and established a blessed relationship with Him. And when we did that, we said we will stick to the values of the gospel. We will make Jesus our example and strive to be like Him – that’s what we said. And we trusted in the love of God. And we want to ensure that we keep our vow, because when we keep our vow, we certainly walk in the ways of our God, and also in the name of Jesus. We want to walk in this way. And so, we understand that we walk in the ways of our God and Jesus Christ.
Also, when we pray, don’t we often pray ‘in Jesus’ name’? And when we pray ‘in Jesus’ name’, we come to Him in deep humility. And when we speak to our God, let us put much more focus on the relationship of our Giver than the gifts that He gives us. Let us never love because of the gifts we get from one another, because when the gifts stop, the love will also stop. Can we love God only because He made us healthy when we were sick? He will not give us everything that we ask. So, our relationship with the Giver is much more important than the gifts that we get. And that is when we pray ‘in Jesus’ name’. Remember all about the ways and the name, “For all people walk each in the name of his god.” So, we walk in the name of God, we walk in the name of Jesus, and we pray in the name of Jesus. And we ask as Jesus would ask, in His name, and that becomes important for each one of us. Remember, He wanted Israel to be a blessing to others, to all. And He called us so that we can be a blessing to all. ‘You are a royal nation, a royal priesthood,’ that is why He called us – to be a blessing. And we want to ensure that, dear brothers and sisters, that to be a personal testimony of Jesus, to show that Jesus is in our lives, that we show that it is possible to fulfil the teaching of Christ - to show that it is possible to do what Christ wants me to do. To show that it is possible to live the gospel, love your neighbour and to treat others as you want to be treated. Love your God and your neighbour above all. The gospel becomes important, so we want to walk and speak in His name. When we speak in the name of our Lord, when we speak in the name of Jesus, then it is also not our will, but what He wants. And when we speak, we proclaim the benefits of the gospel and of Christ and of God – this gospel by which we live. This gospel, remember, which is the foundation of all our decisions, of all our desires, of our behaviour, that we are able to enjoy these benefits because God chooses us for a special purpose and a special reason so that we are able to walk always in the name of our God and speak in His name, walk in His name and serve each other in His name. He wants us to serve each other, to help those who cannot help themselves. He says even the little children. And when He says children, children cannot repay you for what you do for them. And so, in life, there are many who are in need. Dear brother, dear sister, dear servant, come, let us help. Come let us fulfil this because no one is a child of God by mistake. I said once before when mom and dad speak to their children, how terrible is it when they say to the child that he or she wasn’t planned and that they were a mistake – that happens sometimes. But with our God, did anybody become a child of God by mistake? No. You have a purpose, and we are here to support one another. We are here to help one another to get to the goal of our faith, to get into His kingdom. And we are here because my brother’s needs are my needs, my sister’s needs are my needs. And as God’s servants care for us, let us also care for one another. In this time of COVID, we could experience so much love and care that was given to so many – let us not stop at the natural. Remember, the greatest gifts that are given are not seen – it is eternal – and we want to be part of that too. We want to share that. We want to say come, let me pray with you, come, let me cry with you, come, believe with me, come, follow with me, that we are able to go and reach and walk and speak in the ways of our God and Jesus, live in His ways so that our relationship is great, and our relationship with Jesus and God determines our actions and how we behave.
And then, it says here - “For all people walk each in the name of his god”, and in Holy Scripture, we see many times names have been changed because the name was not just the name, it meant something. When Jacob was changed to Israel, and we read that Abram was changed to Abraham, Saul was changed to Paul because God wanted them to be something important. You know, we have names that were given. We did nothing to deserve the name we have. Your parents and your family decided on what your name will be. We have a name that is given and that we didn’t deserve, but many of us get names that we earned. Some names are not so nice, like the people when you must lock the food away, they get names. Their names can be what it may, but we give them a special name. The guy who took all the money from the office, he got a name, no matter what his name is, people will say ‘no, no, that is him,’ because he earned that name. When we get old and we lose our hair, some people will call us ‘baldy’, that is not our name, but there is nothing we can do because it is something they can relate to. These are the names we give to people, and I must be careful because I do not want to go into the names, we give to people. Many years ago, I was very young, got married and went to pay my bond which was almost my whole salary, and that time I picked up R200. And my immediate reaction was that the Lord is good, it is Christmas time and I could do all my grocery shopping for R200 in those days. But I thought, what about the poor guy who lost this money? And I went to the manager and told him I found this money and explained that someone must have lost it and maybe the person will come back, and he can have it. I don’t know, I had mixed feelings, I didn’t know if I was good or stupid, but I felt good because somebody lost something and I can’t gain by the loss of another so I gave it back. A year later, I received a cheque from the bank saying that the person who lost the money never collected it, so I got it a little bit later, but I got it back. About 25 years later, I was at a business conference and was introduced to someone, and the guy said, before I introduce you, I don’t know his name, but all that I know is he is honest. This was the same bank manager of 25 years ago that was in a different industry and all he remembered was not my name, but he remembered the name that I earned. The point of the story is: what name do I earn? Dear brothers, dear sisters, no matter what our name is, our God wants to change that name today, that after this divine service, go back and be a better child of God. Go back and be a better Deacon and Priest. Go back and say no more - that name, we now have, a better name because my God gives me a name to care. He gives me a name to serve, He gives me a name and I will live up to that name because God did not choose us by chance. God did not at random make us a child of God. He has a purpose with each one of us. Let Him fulfil that purpose. Let that relationship I have with Jesus and God and with my brother and sister be the basis of all my actions, all my decisions and my behaviour. Dear brothers and sisters let us allow the power of the Spirit to move within us; we do not have to be the same, but we can be what God wants us to be. He wants us to serve. He wants us, like He wanted the nation of Israel to be a blessing, He wants us all to be a blessing. Let us fulfil it and let us bring joy to our God, our brothers and sisters and to our neighbours. Amen.
Thoughts from District Apostle J Kriel
This divine service was also the first time Holy Communion was celebrated in NAC-SA since March 2020. District Apostle Helper M.P Mkhwanazi and Apostle A Page served as proxies when the District Apostle served Holy Communion to the souls in yonder world.