On Sunday 22 November 2020, Apostle Abraham Page conducted the morning divine service at Sinoville congregation. This divine service was conducted in English and interpreted in South African Sign Language at the altar by Natasha Parkins-Maliko.
He was accompanied by Bishop V Rudolph, District Rector Quinton Hinrichson, the local ministers from the congregation, a small music ensemble and the 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: Wonderful words of life (EH:310)
Bible word: “One thing I have desired of the Lord, that will I seek: That I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in His temple” (Psalm 27:4)
My dear brothers and sisters, our Bible word for this divine service refers to the king David, and I read again what he says here, “One thing I have desired of the Lord, that will I seek: That I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in His temple.” We may ask the question here why David had such an expression of desire to be in the house of the Lord. Surely, he could have gone to the temple or place of worship at any time. But he was prevented because most times he was with his army, busy with warfare and fighting the enemy. He expresses it clearly in Psalm 27 as well. So that kept him away from being in the house of the Lord – he couldn’t come to the house of the Lord. But this didn’t stop him from having the desire of being in the presence of God and to be in the presence of the people - the Priests, especially, who were living in the close quarters of the church or the temple at the time. What is significant to understand here is that when someone is away fighting a war or travelling for any purpose, your desire is that when you come back you want to be with your family. And I am sure that this was his desire as well – he had a palace and was a king – to be back in his place of comfort because fighting in the war must have been extremely difficult. He had the comfort and luxury of the palace to come to, he had the love and comfort of his family to come to. But yet, he expresses the following words, “One thing I have desired of the Lord, that will I seek: That I may dwell in the house of the Lord.” Above everything else, this was his expression, this desire, that when he is back again, that he wants to be in the house of the Lord – there he wants to dwell. And he even says, “That I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life.” And dear brothers and sisters, the expression of this desire showed how much he loved the house of the Lord. But, he was prevented; he couldn’t be there and the Lord understood that therefore he says, “One thing I have desired” – he does not express this desire only but “one thing I have desired of the Lord” – that is also the desire of the Lord. This was his desire – to seek and be in the house of the Lord.
Let us look a bit deeper into this desire that he expressed. He had the desire to seek and be in the house of the Lord. But the desire to seek that which comes from the Lord does not automatically happen to us. And he enlightens us further; allow me to read Psalm 37:4 because this is where it starts to obtain what we desire in the Lord, what we seek in the Lord, it goes a step forward. Psalm 37:4, “Delight yourself also in the Lord and He shall give you the desires of your heart.” So, before we get to the desires of our heart, we first need to delight ourselves in the Lord – that is the starting point. And he could make this statement because he found his delight in the Lord. In this context, let us define the word ‘delight’ a bit deeper. True delight in the Lord is when we take our sight off from that which we want and see the desires that God wants for us. And this is what David could see – God wanted him to be in His temple – that is where God reveals Himself; that is where God speaks to His people. Therefore, he had this longing, this desire, to seek the Lord. And he mentions here why he wanted to be there. He didn’t want to come there, you know he played the harp, he didn’t come there because of the singing. He didn’t want to come there to play his instrument. Yes, it would have been nice to enjoy that, but he says this is the reason why I want to go there: “To behold the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in His temple.” Everything else is a bonus. Today, we have one soloist singing; we have one instrumentalist – we can’t sing together. Many have different gifts and talents that they want to bring into the congregation, into the divine service, but it is not practical at this point in time. But that is not the main reason as to why we are here. We take from David, “To behold the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in His temple.”
Now it comes to us dear brothers and sisters – we want to find our delight in the Lord so that we can desire and seek the things of God. We desire many things in life, especially at this time, many desire many things. But we want to take from king David the words, “One thing I have desired.” He also had many other desires I am sure, and he does not express it here – for the war to end, for peace so that he can be with his family. But he said, “one thing I have desired”, he prioritized his desires. Dear brothers and sisters, we have many desires, but we have to prioritize our desires, and for that, we have to find our delight in the Lord so that we desire and seek the things which God gives.
Let us use a few examples. The first example we immediately take from king David. The desire to be and dwell in the house of the Lord. For many, it is not possible in this time and understandably so. But the desire must be there. Anyone can go anywhere, with desire or without desire – you can go to church or not come to church – it is your decision. But here it goes deeper: the desire to seek the house of the Lord. And why? We take the example of David: to behold the beauty of the Lord. That is why we come to the house of the Lord – to behold the beauty of the Lord. And what is this beauty? The beauty in the word of God that comforts and strengthens us. David spoke from experience. He knew that when he is there, he will see the beauty of the Lord. God comforts us and strengthens us in every divine service through the spoken word. He wants to speak to His people. What other beauty? The beauty in the forgiveness of sins that we are able to be free and that we are filled with peace. The forgiveness of sins is associated with freedom and peace. Don’t we want that? Don’t we need that? That is the beauty that in this day and age we can experience. Let us see that beauty. What other beauty? To partake in the celebration of Holy Communion and the joy to have fellowship in Jesus Christ. That is the beauty of the Lord. There is a saying that goes, ‘beauty is in the eye of the beholder.’ We can also come here and see no beauty. But we are able to see that beauty when we delight ourselves in the Lord and we put aside what we want and we say to the Lord ‘give to me what I need.’ Then we are able to see the beauty. Furthermore, he says “And to inquire in His temple.” Basically, this means to ask the Lord what is it that He wants us to do. Speak to me. So, these are the reasons where David explains, “That I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life.” He knows why he wants to be there and his heart’s disposition is in accordance with what he wants.
The second example, dear brothers and sisters, is the example to understand the will of God. When we are delighted in the Lord, we desire and we seek to understand the will of God. The Apostle Paul writes about it to the Ephesians in Ephesians 5:17 a portion of verse 17 (NKJV), we can read it there and it says, “…but understand what the will of the Lord is.” It does not say hear the will of God, it does not say read about the will of God. It says, “…but understand what the will of the Lord is.” That is the difference. Today, we have sign language in the congregation, and it is there for those who are unable to hear. Many cannot hear, but they understand and know the voice of God. They don’t hear the word of God, but they understand the voice of God. They understand the will of God. Many hear the word of God, but they don’t understand the word of God. They don’t understand the will of God. Many come to the divine services and hear the word of God but don’t understand the word of God. Therefore, the understanding of the word of God is a matter of the heart – the heart’s disposition and not a matter of reason. To understand the word and will of God is a matter of the heart and not a matter of reason. Because if we want to reason about the word of God, we will always have different views, but we take it out of the hand of God, we take His will and word and place it into our hearts. Let me take it a step further. Many understand the word of God, many understand the will of God, but they don’t always agree with what they understand. So, we can say that we understand the word and will of God, but we don’t agree with it. Dear brothers and sisters, such a person battles to put the will of God into action. David understood the will of God. David understood what the Lord wanted from him, and therefore, he put it into action, and it was visible for everyone to see. It was visible for God to see it as well. The same applies to us. Let us understand the will of God and let us agree with the will of God. We can disagree with one another – that always happens. And we don’t just agree because we have to agree, sometimes we say that we don’t agree because we don’t understand and then the person must explain the reason why they made this decision so that there is understanding. And at the end of the day, maybe there is agreement or disagreement. But when it comes to the will of God, we accept it because this is the will of God, this is the will of my Father and I go with that. I don’t just understand it. I also agree with it and I am also going to do it. “One thing I have desired of the Lord”, that is to do His will.
Then a third point dear brothers and sisters, what else do we desire? What else do we seek? Do we still desire and seek for the return of Jesus Christ and to be in the kingdom of God for time and all eternity? Do we still pray the prayer ‘Lord, shorten the time, send your Son and take us home’? Is that longing still there? “Seek ye first the kingdom of God”, Matthew 6:33, we can read it there. Jesus said, “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” Dear brothers and sisters, “One thing I have desired of the Lord, that I will seek” – to enter into the kingdom of God. That desire must be burning. We can’t just continue to be churchgoers. We cannot. We are a bride that is being prepared for the kingdom of God. That must continue and that remains. Yes, we go on with our daily lives, yes, we have other priorities we have to take care of, naturally and also spiritually. But, “One thing I have desired of the Lord”, that is, I want to be worthy for His kingdom. For that dear brothers and sisters, we need to do introspection. We have to search, we have to look, we have to find out if the Lord’s return is still a priority in my life, or did the worldly things become the priority for me. The rich young man came to Jesus, and he came to the right place and he had the right question. He asked, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus gave him the answer, “sell what you have and follow Me.” He had the right desire, he looked at the right place, but when he received the answer as to what he must do, he couldn’t let go. He wanted to have his bread buttered on both sides. To enter the kingdom of God, the bread is only buttered on one side and that is the Lord’s side. Not my side, not your side, the Lord’s side. Therefore, Jesus said, “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” Dear brothers and sisters, may this longing be rekindled in our hearts and our souls. You know, we are influenced by so many things, so many desires, so many opportunities, that God has dropped down on the priority list. Lockdown allowed God to be dropped down on the priority list. Dear brothers and sisters, let us put Him back where He belongs because we are the bride of Christ being prepared for the kingdom of God. And for that, we need God. God first, everything else second, third, fourth whatever. I am sure that when David arrived back from the war he went back to his palace and would have been full of mud and blood as he wouldn’t have had the opportunity to clean for a long time. I am sure he went to his palace first and cleaned himself up and greeted his wife and children, and dressed himself appropriately and then he went to the temple, to the house of the Lord because this is the place where he wanted to be. It doesn’t mean we must rush to the house of the Lord all the time. It does not mean we must come in here day in and day out. But when the opportunity comes, that is where I want to be.
So dear brothers and sisters, let me summarise. True delight is when we can put aside and take our sight off that which we want and seek and see that which God wants for us. When we do that, when we seek to dwell in the house of the Lord, we desire and seek to understand the will of God. Then lastly, we long to be in the kingdom of God. May that desire return to your heart and to your soul. God bless us in this. The message for us that we can take from this I give to us from the Bible: “delight yourself also in the Lord.” Amen.
Thoughts from Apostle Abraham Page