On Sunday 14 February 2021, District Apostle Helper Mandla Mkhwanazi conducted the central AVT divine service at Sandton congregation. The divine service was conducted in English and translated into South African Sign Language (SASL) at the altar by sister Natasha Parkins-Maliko.
He was accompanied by District Elder David Gracey, 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 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: One heart and soul (EH: 103) verses 1 & 4
Bible word: “Jesus said to them, ‘My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work.”’ (John 4:34)
District Apostle Helper Mkhwanazi:
My dear brothers and sisters, once again, I need to confess to you that I'm glad to be with you this morning. And we still recall last week on Sunday that our District Apostle was standing behind this altar, serving God's people, serving all of us. Just to remind all of us about the topic that the District Apostle entertained last week, it was all about those that are poor in spirit, for the kingdom of God is theirs. So, it was a beautiful sermon, indeed. However, today my dear brothers and sisters, we know that many sometimes might think that okay, it's Valentine's Day. So, I need to say something about Valentine’s Day shortly though. Valentine's Day is not a holiday. We understand that it’s from the USA, that's where it started. They are continuing to respect Saint Valentine. But nowadays, Valentine’s Day has taken a new spin when it comes now to the commercialisation of it. And I need to mention that when we look at the stats, others are buying candies, cards, jewellery, you marvel at all that. So that is good. It's not a problem. But for me, with Valentine's Day, I think it's good to just bring a beautiful quote that was given by Winston Churchill, where he says, “We make a living by what we get. But we make a life by what we give.” Just for a moment when you think about that, in our partnership, in our relationship, yes, definitely, there must be a sacrifice that one has to do. We make sacrifices as two individuals when we come together. We continue to make sacrifices when we are having a family, but those that are mature in this, they are able to maintain a good relation, but to those that are, let's call it the newlyweds, sometimes it's not so easy when we consider the economic climate of our time. Money is scarce. Inflation has eroded the value of the money. So sometimes what you would want to do, you fail, or what we would want to do we fail because of this economic climate. So, therefore, it is good advice, you know, not to use spending as part of the emotional therapy. We just need to be careful there. That is why a partner needs to understand the situation of the household. When there is love we don't have to put unnecessary pressure on this unnecessary spending but be as it may, let's become thankful to the Lord, and also when it comes now to this quote that I have given to all of us. This reminds me of the affirmation that we still need to make as partners, visually affirming our altruism. Remember, altruism to brothers and sisters is all about the selfless behaviour, where we become generous, where we think more about the other. We become generous. We want to give. Sometimes when we can't, we don't have and can be crucified. Sometimes when we can't even take the blame for that. But as long as we understand that what we have done in the past it was for a good purpose, so, therefore, we shall continue giving by giving a better life also to others. Our children, think of that, our children in our household. They are the ones that come as a priority when it comes to the giving. Yes, it comes as a priority to our partners as well. But let's be aware that we shall always be doing all this by praising the Lord. The altruism in this instance, as God’s children, we come to understand it as per the word of the Lord Jesus Christ. When Apostle Paul had to say, “let this mind be in you that was in Christ”, that Jesus Christ never thought it was a robbery to be above God, but instead He abased Himself, lowered Himself and fulfilled His divine mission.
So now, let's come to the word my dear brothers and sisters. The Bible word that we have been given, I want to repeat, it says, ‘My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work.’ This is a beautiful word from the Lord Jesus Christ. This will revolve around the topic of today, where we are saying: alignment with God. Jesus Christ was on His missionary journey. So, it came to a point when they were passing through some area that He felt so tired. And then He decided to take a rest, near the well of Abraham. While there, the disciples decided to enter the city and buy something to eat because they wanted to eat. But then the Son of man rested there for a while, near the well. Okay, as we know, dear brothers and sisters, a certain Samaritan woman also came by. And then Jesus Christ had to talk to this woman, giving her also, a testimony or a prophecy and a testimony, as we know it. But then when the disciples returned, they insisted to give Jesus Christ the food. And that was good, actually, when we consider that level of hospitality. They wanted to share; they were caring, in other words, because they knew that their Master, with whom they travelled together for the whole day was also hungry as they were. But the Son of man didn't want to take that food. We can't simply conclude by saying that He didn’t have an appetite. Or maybe we can't come to a conclusion to say Jesus Christ was choosy. But the Son of man wanted to reveal something that was so divine. That is why He responded, as per the text word when they insisted to give Him the food. He said, ‘My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work.’ Brothers and sisters, we need, first of all, to look at the Son of man Jesus Christ as the emissary of God, the One that was sent for this particular divine mission, He wanted to fulfil it. So, for the Son of man Jesus Christ, as much as it kind of puzzled the disciples about His saying, because it was always the case, Jesus Christ used to use parables, to the point that the disciples became a little bit confused, not understanding or fully comprehending what Jesus Christ wanted to convey to them. That's the reason why they also came to a point maybe of saying, was there somebody who brought food you know to the Lord Jesus Christ? Yet, they also considered that maybe that woman might have given Jesus Christ something to eat. From verse 32 and 33, it explains when Jesus Christ said, ‘I have food to eat of which you do not know.’ “Therefore, the disciples said to one another, ‘Has anyone brought Him anything to eat?’” Yet, Jesus Christ was given nothing. Inasmuch as He was having an urge of being hungry or thirsty. But for the Lord Jesus Christ, what was so paramount for Him was to fulfil the will of His sender. This on its own, my dear brothers and sisters, Jesus Christ, by this, was actually showing the true relationship that He wanted to fulfil between Him and his Father the sender, our heavenly Father. So, food in this instance was just secondary, was not that important.
Now, as we go further, we need to understand that food at that time was also important as we can think now during this COVID period. Many people who crave would and want food. Naturally, we need food definitely my dear brothers and sisters. So, at the time of the Lord Jesus Christ, the people of His time, they put higher value also on food. So, therefore, when it comes to food, I don't want to misinterpret this, it is so important. So, therefore, the Son of man had to give them a certain divine perspective of prioritizing accordingly. Yes, food is important my dear brothers and sisters, that is why we are saying here food is a fundamental human need. When Jesus Christ, at a time of His serving, of His missionary journey, there was a time when Jesus Christ had to be followed by those that saw the miracles of Jesus Christ, think now of this instance, when Jesus Christ, at the Sea of Tiberius, where He fed the 5000 people with just five loaves of bread and two fish. So that on its own dear brothers and sisters was something that was not understood completely in the first instance, but the Son of man made that miracle. Definitely, He made that miracle. And once people saw that Jesus Christ actually had done all that, they also wanted to make Jesus Christ a king. Then Jesus Christ tried to escape because their priority was not as per the Son of man's priority. So, we can understand this dear brothers and sisters, His mission was great. He had this passion; He was so enthusiastic when it came to the mission of the His Father, trying, or wanting to fulfil the greater work about soul salvation. It was the time also of the Apostle Paul if my memory serves me correctly in Romans when he gave an example to say to the carnally minded, actually it was really not that good. He gave a difference between being carnally and spiritually. As human beings, it's always going to be the case, we want to fulfil what is desired by our human lust or our human needs and so forth. It's natural. But as God's people, those that now believe the divine mission of the Son of man, we just now have to align ourselves in that by coming closer to the divine understanding so that we can improve our relationship with God. That is part of the alignment that our heavenly Father expects of us.
Now as believers, what is expected of us? Believers, as a fundamental need for them, they need to do the will of God. I hope we can understand now that in the past, we sometimes put our carnally mind first, but later on when we grew in the faith, we adjusted, in a way. We continue to adjust dear brothers and sisters by putting God first, by putting the spiritual needs first. And that is so good. The Son of man, at His time too dear brothers and sisters, also had to sit down and explain to His disciples who were also having concerns about their natural needs. Others, remember we're concerned about their attire; what is it that they were going to put on; they were concerned about their food, the natural need and so forth. But we know what the Son of man said, ‘But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.’ That is the alignment dear brothers and sisters, by this, Jesus Christ doesn't want us to neglect ourselves. No. We don't have to neglect ourselves, but we must put God where He deserves to be. Therefore, it means now we need to do the will of God. Doing the will of God, my dear brothers and sisters also brings some benefits. Once we can grow in terms of putting God first, prioritising, we shall even feel or see how marvellous it is to become engaged in the Lord's way. Think of, maybe you want to go and dine on this nice particular dish that you had prepared, you are looking forward to that. And then when you enjoy it together as a family, you talk also about the ingredients, and so forth. So, the dish is good. The same applies if we can think about the Lord's work. The Lord's work will feed the new creature in us, it will feed our mind, our understanding about something divine. Once we become so passionate about the Lord's work, become engaged in the Lord's work, brothers and sisters, we shall gain strength. We call it, a second wind, so to say, we shall gain strength. Indeed, dear brothers and sisters, we shall see how awesome, how good God is. I love the words in Psalm 34, it says in verses 8-9, “Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good; Blessed is the man who trusts in Him! Oh, fear the Lord, you His saints! There is no want to those who fear Him.” I love the words ‘Oh taste and see’. In the other version for instance of the Bible, we miss this phrase ‘taste’, because there it refers to the hearing. We just need to understand, many English versions are referring to the tastes. Let's come and taste dear brothers and sisters, and see how good, how awesome, our heavenly Father is. And let's allow the new creature in us to taste the marvellous ingredients of this spiritual nourishment. And indeed, when we come to understand that, brothers and sisters, we come to a point of always wanting to fulfil God's will, just like Jesus Christ who was so passionate, who had this enthusiasm, who didn't want to be disturbed or distracted. He kept his focus on the goal. That is what is expected of all of us as God's children.
Now when it comes to the completion, dear brothers and sisters of the divine tasks, as we can see from the Lord, and also with us, the Son of man, according to this Bible word that we have read, ‘My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work.’ Brothers and sisters, during the crucifixion, we know how the Lord also showed to the whole world how this work was finished. It was finished, and the Son of man allowed His spirit to leave Him. It was finished. So, therefore, for all of us, my dear brothers and sisters, let's be aware that we need to put our eyes on the goal, on the prize, because the Son of man definitely wants to provide us with this eternal fellowship with Him, that on its own is the prize dear brothers and sisters. We need to be on this race fighting and running to achieve this one, definitely. That's why, even the work that the Lord has started in all of us, the Lord definitely will fulfil that; He will finish that. But for me and you, all of us, we've got something to do between now and then. Let's become involved, let's become engaged dear brothers and sisters, let's do it, and finish the Lord's work. Amen.
Thoughts from District Apostle Helper MP Mkhwanazi