2 April 2024

Spotlight 4/2024: Prayer is the best WiFi connection

The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is not the only place where prayer is by far the best WiFi connection. In his spotlight article on our annual motto, District Apostle Michael Deppner of the DRC explains how we can establish this connection.


It is normal that by repeating an action it becomes banal or routine. We cannot allow our prayer life to fall into this trap. When we view our prayers as a true conversation with our heavenly Father, our prayers change. They take on the quality of intimacy and sincerity because God created us, loves us, and knows us.


Prayer works. Prayer is work. Prayer leads to work … If we put a little pause between “prayer” and “work”, it could help us to understand better. We pray and we work on our praying. If I pray without acting on my prayer, everything will come to nothing. You pray for someone, then you act and help them. You pray for something, then you act and work towards it. This is how prayer works.


Our motto is not about the quality of our prayers. Instead, it is about our faith and trust in the power of the heavenly Father, as well as our respect for His will. The Lord encourages us in Matthew 21: 22: “And whatever things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive.”


Confidence is essential

Confidence in our prayers is essential. It depends on our belief and trust in Christ and His teachings. Our confidence can increase or decrease… We can even lose confidence. Then our voice gets weaker and weaker. Perhaps a prayer was not answered although we had been praying for a long time, or the answer to our prayer was a no. We must learn to accept it, as Christ did, and continue to pray, to persevere.


Christ said that even a little faith can move mountains (Matthew 17: 20). Do we believe it? We could avoid praying for the impossible or for what we believe is impossible at the present time. The Chief Apostle mentioned that if we pray for something the same way Jesus would have prayed for it—whether for ourselves, for others, or for His work—our trust in His will for our life, for our neighbour, and for His work will increase.


Certainly, not every single one of our prayers has the same unshakeable conviction as that of the centurion: “Lord, … but speak only a word” (Matthew 8: 8). May this confidence grow in us throughout 2024 under the teaching of the Spirit. We can also gain strength from the worthy participation in the Lord’s Supper and from one another.


Remembering our past experiences with God

The humility of this centurion was also quite remarkable: “Lord, I am not worthy that You should come under my roof.” This undoubtedly touched the heart of Jesus because He marvelled and responded. The man’s surprising faith helped make his wish come true. Our past experiences can help our confidence increase to conviction. How many prayers has the Lord already answered? As we realise this and remember it, our prayers intensify.


A few words for our youth. People can mention your name everywhere, in every social media post. Why don’t you ask them to mention your name in their prayers. This will be more useful and more appreciated. Plus, despite our network issues here in the DRC, there is no better WiFi connection than prayer.


Maybe not everything is a hundred per cent in our life. But in our life of faith we remain joyful and thankful. Let us become more and more active in our prayer life and act on more and more of our prayers. Prayers not only help, they work!

Author: Michael Deppner

nac.today: New Apostolic Church International 

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The secret lies in the preparation

The goal of all Christians is to be ready when Jesus returns to take His own to Himself. Apostle Peter once wrote that one needs to be spotless and blameless for this. What exactly this means the Chief Apostle explained in a divine service.


“We gather today to commemorate the fulfilment of God’s promise to send the Saviour for us and for all human beings,” Chief Apostle Jean-Luc Schneider began the divine service on 10 December 2023 in our Dinwiddie church near Johannesburg, South Africa. “That means that we remember what happened, but it also means that we think about what it means for us personally.”


The Bible text used for the divine service was 2 Peter 3: 14: “Therefore, beloved, looking forward to these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, without spot and blameless.” The Chief Apostle explained that this is a reference to the return of the Lord. “Honestly, it makes no sense to believe in God if you do not believe in eternal life,” the Chief Apostle said. “It makes no sense to believe in Jesus Christ if you do not believe in His return.” Many Christians only follow Jesus for earthly reasons. “And if you follow Christ for earthly reasons only, sooner or later you will be disappointed.‌”


Spotless before God

“This morning’s Bible text gives us clues as to how we can prepare for the return of Christ.” It says that we must be found without spot. The Chief Apostle explained that it would be a completely misleading if we were to take this to mean that we must be perfect and can no longer commit sin. “That is not possible for a human being,” he said. Instead, being spotless means that all of our sins have been forgiven and that we have been justified by grace.


“Let us make every effort to have all our sins forgiven and to be justified by grace,” the Chief Apostle urged. God grants grace to those who

  • recognise that they are sinners and depend on grace. “We acknowledge that we are sinners because we recognise the perfection and glory of God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.”
  • plead for grace: “When we plead for grace, it is not because we are afraid … It is only an expression of our love for Christ and our strong desire to be with Him.”
  • are humble: “Being humble means that we accept God as our Lord.”
  • fight against sin and evil: “Even if we will not manage to become perfect, we cannot just put up with our weaknesses.”
  • make an effort to forgive: “And the fifth and final point to obtain grace is to be willing to be reconciled with your enemies.”


Blameless in trust

Even Jesus was not spared suffering. “God loves us as He loves Jesus Christ. He protects and provides for us, but He does not spare us from all suffering. He will, however, make sure that we as poor human beings will be able to enter the kingdom of God.” That is why we can trust in God.


Blameless in love

The Chief Apostle warned that there is a danger of our becoming lukewarm today. He said that a lukewarm believer serves God as long as it is easy and pleasant. “But as soon as it becomes difficult and unpleasant, he or she says, ‘I can’t do that.’” Those who serve God half-heartedly do so as long as it is interesting and profitable, the Chief Apostle continued. But as soon as it becomes unpleasant and uninteresting, and no longer brings any benefits, they say, “Sorry, I can’t do it.” He urged the congregation, “Let us serve the Lord and love Him from the bottom of our hearts.”


He went on to say that we must not become lukewarm in our love for our neighbour either. Paul said, “And may the Lord make you increase and abound in love to one another.” God’s love was poured out in our hearts when we received the gift of the Holy Spirit. “Has it grown since then?” the Chief Apostle asked. “Have we become more tolerant in recent years? Do we accept that God loves all human beings as much as He loves us, even if they are totally different? Do we accept that God is merciful to all human beings?” If our love for one another has increased, we are blameless before God.


The Chief Apostle’s recipe

“To put it in a nutshell, our goal is the return of Christ. We want to be prepared and are making every effort. Let us specifically make every effort to have all our sins forgiven and to be cleansed by grace. Let us acknowledge the glory of God and our imperfection and be aware that we need grace. We plead for grace not because we are afraid of something, but to express our longing. ‌We humble ourselves before God and accept His teaching and guidance. We are still willing to improve and change, and we want to be reconciled with our neighbour and even with our enemies. We want to become blameless. We believe in God’s love and His word, and we trust in Him.”

Author: Katrin Löwen

nac.today: New Apostolic Church International


Spotlight 5/2024: Praying with faith and persistence

In order to be successful, a prayer should meet certain requirements. District Apostle Michael Ehrich (Southern Germany) uses some Bible quotations to show how prayers can come to find hearing before God.


In Matthew 7: 7 we read: “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.” In the German Luther translation, the caption over this verse states: “Confidence in prayer”. When we come before our heavenly Father in prayer, let us do so with confidence in God. He will never ignore a believing and trusting prayer.


In Luke 18:1 et seq. we read the parable of the unrighteous judge, who finally gives in to a certain widow because she keeps on coming to him and pestering to help her. Here the Lord makes it clear that it is important to pray with persistence. Naturally, we cannot make demands on God to do what we want, but we can always ask Him. And indeed, there are at times situations when we find ourselves asking God for something for weeks, months, or even years. At such times it is important to be persistent.


I wish you and all our brothers and sisters a year filled with God’s help and blessing, and also that you may experience many answered prayers.

Author:  Michael Ehrich

nac.today: New Apostolic Church International

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Ascension: so far and yet so close

An end that marked a beginning: by ascending to heaven Jesus Christ did not create distance between Himself and us, but actually came closer to us. Here are some thoughts on Ascension Day, which falls within Eastertide.


Easter is not over yet. In fact, the liturgical season of Eastertide and all that goes with it lasts fifty days and culminates with Pentecost Sunday. Ascension Day, marking Christ’s ascension into heaven, is celebrated on the fortieth day after Easter. The occasion: it seems that Jesus is abandoning His disciples for a second time. The first time He left them, on Good Friday, the disciples hit rock bottom. But now, on Ascension, the events of Easter have a completely different effect on the disciples. The famous theologian and songwriter, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, describes its effects with the words: “Anyone who knows Easter cannot despair.”


Between Christ’s resurrection and His ascension

The Lord’s post-resurrection appearances counteracted rumours that His disciples had stolen the body, and they bore witness to the fact that Christ had truly risen.


Following His resurrection, Christ again spent time with His disciples. First, He convinced sceptics like Thomas that He had truly resurrected, then He taught His disciples again, and gave them their mission and authority. Besides the Great Commission, He also gave them comfort during this time and again promised them the coming of the Holy Spirit. “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1: 8).


Ascension then

His disciples did not accompany Jesus to the cross, and they could not at first understand that He had resurrected from the dead. But they witnessed His ascension to heaven. They themselves experienced how the human nature of Jesus finally entered the glory of God. This experience helped them to not feel abandoned this time and feel that they needed to lock themselves up in a room. In fact, they returned to Jerusalem full of joy, to the place where they had until shortly before hidden themselves full of fear. Back in their lodgings they gathered with the women, prayed, and prepared for the feast of Pentecost.


Ascension today

Many biblical passages indicate that Jesus is seated at the right hand of God. This is also described in the Second Article of Faith. Jesus’ service does not end at His Father’s side, but He is our advocate and makes intercession for us in this highest of all places. What a reassuring thought that Christ continues to intercede for His own, as He already expressed in His high-priestly prayer: “And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they also may be sanctified by the truth. I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word” (John 17: 19–20).


Ascension gives answers

Through His ascension, Christ still answers questions today: “What lies ahead?” or “Where am I welcome?” However, the answers are not limited to the question of where we are going, but there are also answers to question of “How do I get there?”


Jesus Himself is the way we must follow in order to be able to live in truth and to have eternal life. So this is not a journey into the unknown, but by following Jesus this is a journey with Him. Jesus is our compass and companion.


Ascension means proximity

Ascension is not synonymous with separation and a distant reunion. Jesus has already anticipated the goal, namely eternal fellowship with God, and so it is possible for us already today to meet God. With the ascension of Jesus and the events of Pentecost that followed God did not distance Himself from human beings, but drew nearer to us. Or as Martin Luther said about Christ: “When He was on earth, He was far from us, but since He is in heaven, He is near to us.”


This Christ is near to us in His church, in His word and the sacraments, and in our love of our neighbour. The believing congregation is always an expectant congregation, and is impatient and full of longing and anticipation of Christ’s return.

Author: Simon Heiniger

nac.today: New Apostolic Church International

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From earthly death to eternal life

The King of kings humbles Himself and dies the death of the worst of criminals so that sinners do not have to suffer eternal death and can hope for eternal fellowship with God through His resurrection. Here are the subjects of our divine services in April.


The month of April is marked by the events surrounding Palm Sunday, Good Friday, and Easter. The theme series of the subsequent Sunday services is “Eastertide”. It shows how Christ accompanies and strengthens those who follow Him even beyond His resurrection.


How Christ really reigns

Palm Sunday commemorates Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem and the expectations the people had of Him. Towards the end of the Bible reading it becomes clear just how euphorically Jesus was received in Jerusalem: “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord!” Jesus drew attention to the fact that He is king, but made it very clear that His kingship is not related to an earthly reign. Even His friends and closest companions understood this only in retrospect. The Palm Sunday service will explore this spiritual dimension of the kingdom of God. Jesus Christ is King and rules over His Church even today. His reign is characterised by love and grace for all.


Death of a human being

On Good Friday, the Bible reading from the gospel of Luke deals with Jesus’ being sentenced to death. Pilate would have preferred to release Jesus, but the people insisted that He be put to death. And so Christ died a particularly humiliating death which was reserved for only the worst offenders. He, who was without sin, was prepared to die like the worst of sinners. Jesus lived through the moments of His passion and death as a true human being.


This perfect sacrifice means that all sinners have the opportunity to be saved and have eternal fellowship with God. We do not have to die like Jesus did to benefit from this. The only requirement is that we follow Jesus Christ: we live in Him who died for us.


Life in God

“Why do you seek the living among the dead?” This question from the Easter Bible reading taken from Luke’s gospel aptly summarises the Easter event. Christ made it clear to His disciples during His mission on earth that He would accompany them even after His death.


And so the Lord appeared to many people after His resurrection. Besides the women at the tomb, he joined the disciples on the road to Emmaus, and He appeared to Peter, to the Apostles, and even to a group of more than five hundred brethren.


As he did then, today he meets those who believe in him to assure them: “Because I live, you will live also” (John 14: 19).


Trust defies doubts

The sermon on the third Sunday in April, which falls within the period of Eastertide, will focus on the doubt of the first Apostles. Jesus’ closest associates found it difficult to believe in the resurrection of Jesus based on the various testimonies. Overcome by grief and despair they were unable to change their perspective. Thus, the risen Lord appeared to them and rebuked them for their “unbelief and hardness of heart” (Mark 16: 14). Despite their doubt, Jesus entrusted His disciples with the important mission to go into the world and preach the gospel. Christ did not give up on the doubters then, nor does He do so now.


God’s action eludes purely rational thinking. Only faith with great trust in God can overcome understandable doubts. But no human doubts about God’s plan can shake his love for humankind.


The question as to our future self

“This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief” (1 Timothy 1: 15). The Bible text on the fourth Sunday underlines God’s will to give grace to all people and that we need to profess Jesus as our Lord.


After the encounter with Jesus, the persecutor of Christians turned into a fighter for the Lord. Paul saw himself as the sinner he was and professed Christ as His Saviour.


Like Paul, God calls sinners to serve Him, and like Paul, those who have been called must repent. This involves honest introspection and requires that we ask ourselves the question, “Who do I want to be?”


Crossing boundaries in Jesus’ name

The last Sunday of the month will explore the Great Commission. When Christ issued this mission to His disciples, it meant that they had to transcend all the boundaries and limits known to them and baptise and teach throughout the world.


The content that the Apostles teach today must always be in the context of what Jesus taught in His gospel. Jesus makes this clear in the image of the vine: “Without Me you can do nothing.” This also includes all ministers sent out by the apostolate.


But those who actively support this mission often come up against their own limitations. This is where the promise of Jesus from our Bible text applies: “And lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28: 20).

Author: Andreas Rother


nac.today: the news magazine of the New Apostolic Church International

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Spotlight 3/2024: The effect increases with trust

Why doesn’t everyone experience the tremendous power of prayer in the same way? District Apostle Jürg Zbinden from Switzerland asks this question in his article for our Spotlight series—the third one on our 2024 motto. His answer has to do with expectations.


The disciples of Jesus knew about prayer, but when they heard Jesus pray, they were so moved that they asked the Master: “Lord, teach us to pray” (Luke 11: 1). We too probably grew up with our own ideas of how we should pray. However, under the serving of the Holy Spirit in the house of God, the desire matured within us: we want to be able to pray like Jesus. He is our greatest model, after all.


Prayer is a dialogue with God. This dialogue should be a heartfelt need for us. It was like that for Jesus. He liked to talk to His Father and did so often because He loved Him more than anything. What about us? The love of Christ drives us to prayer! If this love burns in our hearts, we will seek the closeness of God. The simple fact of knowing that we are always loved and understood by our heavenly Father brings comfort and confidence.


Unfortunately, for some people today prayer is comparable to going to the social welfare office, so to speak. You only go there to ask for help if you have to cope with financial distress. For others, it is like calling the fire brigade when the house is on fire. The list of examples could easily be continued.


The following little incident made me smile and gave me something to think about at the same time.


In one of our districts, preparations were underway for an event that was to take place largely outdoors. The weather was quite pleasant and all the brothers and sisters were looking forward to the special event. But suddenly, contrary to all forecasts, dark rain clouds appeared. Very worried, the organisers turned to one of the leading ministers and asked him to pray with them for good weather. Everyone came together and sent a fervent prayer to God. The faith of the ministers was strong. They were convinced that the Lord would help. The leading minister must not have been so sure that the weather would hold, however. He went to one of the brothers, gave him some money, and told him to buy some umbrellas, “You never know …”


Our prayer should be carried by childlike faith and trust in God. This not only delights our heavenly Father, but the person praying experiences peace and certainty. And he or she will feel secure in God’s proximity. Truly, prayer works!

Author: Jürg Zbinden

nac.today: New Apostolic Church International

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