Greater than anything we can imagine

Even in times of care and suffering, there are so many good reasons to praise and glorify God. Really? And how can we show our gratitude and reverence in a practical way? Following are some tips from a divine service with the Chief Apostle.

Practically phrase by phrase, Chief Apostle Jean-Luc Schneider broke down the contents of the long Bible passage on which he based the divine service he celebrated on 26 February 2017 in Durban, South Africa: “Praise the Lord! For it is good to sing praises to our God; for it is pleasant, and praise is beautiful. The Lord builds up Jerusalem; He gathers together the outcasts of Israel. He heals the broken-hearted and binds up their wounds. He counts the number of the stars; He calls them all by name” (Psalm 147: 1-4).

God builds up

Jerusalem—that is the place where God desires to save the sinners.” From a Christian perspective, this is the church of Christ: if necessary, its origin and development can also be explained as the development of a human organisation, just as one could explain the development of the New Apostolic Church. However, we have gained the knowledge that this is not the work of man. It is indeed God’s work.

Through the power of the Holy Spirit, weak human beings prepare other weak human beings for eternal fellowship with the Lord. “That is the glory of God in His work. And if we see it that way, we too can say, ‘Praise the Lord!’ For this reason, let us see the church as the work of God,” the Chief Apostle said.

God gathers together the outcasts

In order to be saved, people must become part of the church. This is not merely a group of people who share certain values. The church is the body of Christ, the members of which are firmly connected with one another.

“The unity of the church is not merely a non-aggression pact,” emphasised the international Church leader as he explained how we are to grow together into the nature of Christ: “The closer each one of us comes to Jesus, the stronger our unity will become.” And even this is the result of divine activity: “Praise the Lord for the activity of the Holy Spirit, who allows us to attain unity in Christ!”

God heals the broken-hearted

“It breaks my heart when I learn of the afflictions which some children of God must endure.” At times it is already painful enough just to hear about them. “And if we look a little further, outside of our circle and into the world and the world beyond, sometimes it is simply terrible.”

And nevertheless, “God can comfort all of them. Through the Holy Spirit, all of them can experience His love,” said the Chief Apostle. “Praise the Lord! His love is so great that He can comfort all people, no matter what they have experienced.”

God binds up their wounds

“Sin is like an arrow” which hits its mark and wounds us. “And then God comes and treats this wound”—with His grace. But often there is something that remains, namely a scar. “There is no longer any risk to our health, but if you touch the scar it hurts.”

“God has forgiven, but the sinner must deal with the consequences of his actions,” explained the Chief Apostle in reference to the scar. Nevertheless, it is not our task to point to the scar or aggravate it by squeezing it in order to cause sinners to suffer. God desires to heal. “He needs us in order that others can feel the love of Jesus Christ—that is our task.” This too is a form of praising God, the Chief Apostle added.

God counts us and calls us by name

“God knows each and every soul. And each individual is more valuable to Him than the whole of creation,” explained Chief Apostle Schneider. “He knows everything about every soul and loves each and every one.”

“We have so many reasons to praise the glory of God and to praise the love and grace of Jesus Christ,” he concluded. “Trust in God. He is greater than anything that you could ever imagine.”

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Andreas Rother
South Africa, Divine service, Chief Apostle