Resourceful ministers have long since discovered that the heading of the first Sunday service in the January edition of the Divine Service Guide is the motto of the year. “Prayer works!” is how the new year begins. And it continues on the following Sunday with the theme series: “Experiencing the nearness of Christ”.
Believing in Jesus Christ implies the certainty that He is always with us. To strengthen our certainty, the divine services in January are dedicated to how we can experience the nearness of the Son of God. To start off the new year, the divine services in our congregations around the world focused on our annual motto for 2024.
The Bible text for the first service in January is just as short as the motto for the year: “Pray without ceasing” (Thessalonians 5: 17). The content will keep New Apostolic Christians busy for some time this year. Am I still praying in the right manner? Is my prayer really a dialogue with God or does it serve above all to ensure that my wishes and ideas are fulfilled? The divine service provides inspiration for answering this question:
- adoration makes us aware of the majesty and perfection of God.
- giving thanks reminds of the gifts we have received from God.
- intercession puts our own needs into perspective
- and our collective prayer strengthens the congregation.
Serving like Jesus
Serving and reigning with Christ does not stop with the new year. In the second Sunday service in January, the sermon will look at the story of when Jesus washed the disciples’ feet and reflect on His closeness and service to us.
Jesus serves God the Father, and He served and continues to serve human beings. “For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you.” These words from John 13: 15 make it clear that every believer should focus on Jesus and serve Jesus and his or her neighbour. And we should not serve because we are afraid of punishment or because we expect a reward, but because we have experienced the love of Christ.
Experiencing that Jesus knows every single one of us
The third Sunday service in January will focus on the meeting of Jesus and Nathanael, a devout Jew: “Nathanael said to Him, ‘How do You know me?’ Jesus answered and said to him, “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.” Nathanael answered and said to Him, “Rabbi, You are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” (John 1: 48–49). The believers should be made aware that God has called us personally, in different ways, and He wants to have each one of us with Him.
Jesus knows the needs of each person, which does not exempt us from telling Him about our needs in our prayers. He knows our limitations and will never demand the impossible. He is also fully aware of our capabilities. He gives us everything we need to do what He asks of us. Jesus knows the motivation and hearts of the brothers and sisters inside out. Only what is done out of love is blessed. And He knows that we are all different. But He also knows that these differences do not prevent the congregation from becoming one.
Feeling that Jesus Christ is always there
When Jesus was on the mountain with the disciples and gave them the Great Commission, He comforted them and said: “Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28: 20). This Bible text serves as the basis for the third Sunday service in January. Although Jesus said this to the Apostles, it is still valid today. Jesus sent the Comforter, the Holy Spirit, and is with the believers to strengthen them and increase their joy. This is something that can also be experienced in prayer.
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