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Introduction: Dietmar Joosten
What a wonderful day! It is a privilege that we can sit at the feet of our Lord Jesus Christ. There are two young people who will give their testimonies this morning.
Testimony: Miriam Pretorius
For many Christians revival is something of a mystery. I have grown up here and heard sermon after sermon on revival but my ears were closed, I struggled with sin and I did not grasp what it was all about. The devil had bound me with many things from which I could not get free.
Here are some examples: My heart and mind were a world of evil. Though I would confess these sins, things seemed to worsen every year. I fed the thoughts. I loved reading books and watching DVDs. My soul drank the worldly spirit in these things. Even though I confessed this sin, it did not leave me. I continued feeding the thoughts the devil tormented me with.
We were taught how to behave and dress but when some young people from Europe visited I noticed that their standard of behavior between boys and girls and clothing was not the same as ours. I felt I was too extreme when I compared myself to them. My feet almost slipped. My father once called me and reprimanded me for the way I dressed.
I was dissatisfied with how God had made me – I was unhappy to be a girl. That might seem like a small problem but this spirit led to many other sins which bound me. When I became grateful and accepting, I could be free from all those sins.
God has rescued me out of a deep pit and put my feet on a rock. The gospel that was preached was so simple: Confess your sins, deal with sin and be obedient to God. I did not grasp that. I want to continue with revival and not compromise. As I go deeper with the Lord, the message remains the same: Confess your sins and be obedient.
Testimony: Siyabonga Khumalo
I stand here with joy and fear. I would like to relate how the Lord healed Siyabonga in the same way Namaan, through Elisha, was healed. I compare myself to a bull covered in ticks that moves with the herd to the dip, but refuses to enter. The Lord used many whips on me but I refused to enter the dip. In these days, during a series of services, I have received a treasure. The Lord has helped me in many ways but especially with my anger. My anger caused me to make mistakes that should not be expected from a child dedicated to the Lord at this pulpit. I have even used witchcraft medicine to get even with people. I used the potions to protect myself but I got hurt. Through God’s grace, in these services God’s word struck me – the Lord healed Naaman of his leprosy, but He had not healed me of my problem. The Lord did not say I should be washed 7 times but He gave me one opportunity and said that I should go and be washed. Today I thank the Lord for His grace for setting me free from anger and irritability that made me to want to hit people. I would meet a person but there would be such anger in my heart and I would resent them for standing in my way but I would not show it. The Lord was gracious to me and He gave me a knock on my head which needed to break. He has lifted me up from the deep miry clay. I pray that the Lord will help me not to be a rotten potato that causes rot to spread to others.
Yesterday South Africa won the Rugby World Cup. There is no nation on earth that played in Japan that is as diverse as our country – with people from different races, cultures and languages. Can we, as a church, not do more than they did? God has brought us together. Doesn’t He want to work amongst us? Our forefathers left everything in Europe to come here. Why did God lead them here? Is it not for us to be united? Recently a Zulu lady said to me that if one mixes cement and sand together, the resulting material is very hard. This is what it is like when God brings together black and white. Should I be concerned about my own race only? If your religion just involves your race, you are going your own way. May we be willing to be united by God’s grace. Nothing will overcome that unity. God started a revival here. Reverend Stegen denied himself to become nothing and look what God is doing through him. His own family have discarded him but do you know why? God is with him.
Race. Do not push it aside. When last did you invite a poor man into your home? When last did you invite somebody into your home who is not your colour and have a braai? These are relevant things. Only with Christ do you achieve something. Satan wants to destroy this work because of its standard. Only God can change your heart and character. No man is able to do it.
Allow me to read a text concerning Charles Spurgeon – who is referred to the Prince of Preachers.
The Theological Controversy That May Have Cost Charles Spurgeon’s Life
Conviction—it’s a word that most associate with Charles Spurgeon. The “Prince of Preachers” wasn’t known for backing down from necessary controversy. Between pamphlet writing, lectures and preaching, Spurgeon clearly and passionately argued for the truth of Christianity against ministers who were backing away from orthodoxy. Near the end of his life, Spurgeon became entangled in a controversy that became so heated, it may have contributed to his death at the age of 57.
In what would be called the Downgrade Controversy, the Baptist Union of Great Britain began sliding into doctrinal heterodoxy near the end of the 19th century, capitulating to critical interpretations of the Bible and the denial of key doctrines of Christian belief. Stunned at this development, Spurgeon began his crusade.
In the months and years that followed, Spurgeon produced many works seeking to persuade others of the “downgrade” in theology amongst Baptists. He sounded the alarm in his magazine “The Sword and the Trowel”:
“Assuredly the New Theology can do no good towards God or man; it, has no adaptation for it. If it were preached for a thousand years by all the most earnest men of the school, it would never renew a soul, nor overcome pride in a single human heart.”
Spurgeon held that since this theology preached by certain ministers in the Baptist Union was lifeless, parishioners were not being fed the life-giving nourishment that true doctrine provides.
The reaction against Spurgeon from the opposing side was merciless. At the annual Baptist Union meeting in 1888, representatives from the churches of the Union voted 2,000 to 7 to modify the organization’s statement of faith to reflect a moderate theological position between those on the evangelical side and those on the liberal side. James Spurgeon, Charles’ brother, was responsible for helping to keep the Union together at the expense of its doctrinal fidelity. Charles was crushed by both his brother’s actions and the decision of the assembly. After his death, Charles’ wife said “his fight for the faith . . . cost him his life.”
Daniel Motley https://blog.logos.com/
May we, as a church, never deviate from what God has told and shown us, then we will by His grace become a unity which God can use to glorify his name. Let us stand with God’s servant.
We thank the Lord for everything we have heard. I believe that each one of us can evaluate how things are going in his life. May God’s fire burn in our lives. I heard a good illustration from a sermon recently. In the life of a person there are two wolves – one black and one white. The life of the wolves depends on you as an individual. The wolf you feed is the one that will remain alive. The wolf that you starve will die. Which one are you feeding? Which one troubles you? The one that is alive and active is the one that you are feeding. If you feed your heart with sin, you will die spiritually but if you feed your heart with the spiritual things of God, the things of Satan will die. The choice is yours.
12 And the angel of the Lord appeared to him and said to him, “The Lord is with you, O mighty man of valour.” 13 And Gideon said to him, “Please, my lord, if the Lord is with us, why then has all this happened to us? And where are all his wonderful deeds that our fathers recounted to us, saying, ‘Did not the Lord bring us up from Egypt?’ But now the Lord has forsaken us and given us into the hand of Midian.” 14 And the Lord[a] turned to him and said, “Go in this might of yours and save Israel from the hand of Midian; do not I send you?” 15 And he said to him, “Please, Lord, how can I save Israel? Behold, my clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father’s house.” 16 And the Lord said to him, “But I will be with you, and you shall strike the Midianites as one man.” 17 And he said to him, “If now I have found favour in your eyes, then show me a sign that it is you who speak with me. 18 Please do not depart from here until I come to you and bring out my present and set it before you.” And he said, “I will stay till you return.” Judges 6:12 – 18
The children of Israel were in trouble. They were being handed over to their enemies and the nations from the east. Sin separates man from God. The children of Israel were troublesome and they became obstacles to the Lord which is why they ended in the desert where many died because of the stiffness of their necks and the hardness of their hearts. They did not grasp the vision of the glory God had in store for them and the wonders into which God was leading them. Why? They wanted to live like everyone else. They did not want to be different to other nations. They wanted to serve idols like the other nations who served gods of stone, bulls and all kinds of things. The children of Israel took women from these nations and sinned with them. They married women from these foreign nations. These people taught the Israelites their ways. They taught them to worship their gods. That is why god said that He would hand them over to those nations.
They were in trouble. When the crops they had planted on the mountains were ready to be harvested, the enemy came. They descended on them like locusts. They devoured every single thing. They did not even leave a donkey behind. The Bible says do not give the devil your little finger, or he will take your whole hand. If you give Satan a foothold in your heart he will take your whole heart. You will become like the world and speak the language of the world. He will take everything. Maybe you live with a person who has changed, who has given a part of his life away. That person will find himself running and hiding in the mountains. The Israelites were at the mercy of their enemies. They planted and harvested for their enemies and not themselves. They were hungry for their own food but died from lack of it. They worked in vain. Everything they worked for was taken away by the enemy. Brother, sister, is this where you find yourself? The children of Israel cried to God for mercy.
Who is this God? What kind of a God do we serve? We will suffer if we do not listen to Him and serve Him. In His mercy He hears our cries even if we have turned our backs on Him. God looked for a way to set His children free from the Midianites. Some said that we have heard of the miracles You did for our forefathers when they left Egypt. How long haven’t we cried to you? We heard they were set free but we don’t understand; we need you to explain how.
I could compare their state to that of those who grew up here, who are part of the work here and who have been one with the work. The inheritance of God cannot just be taken, there is something that must happen in your life. You hear what has happened in the past but it has not happened in your life. Physically you are here but your mind and heart are not here. You can be here but nothing will happen if you have not entered into God’s work and become part of God’s work here. You will be like a stone in the water that remains dry inside. Are you that stone? You are in the water but nothing happens to the stone. Siyabonga testified that he was like a bull covered in ticks that was directed to the dip but he did not want to enter the dip. If you refuse to enter the dip, the ticks will stay on you and live. Ticks come with different diseases. Why am I in this state, I wonder? Why am I held captive when I am in a place where God works in revival power? Why do I not experience the working of God? If you stand back and refuse to enter into what God is calling you, these things will trouble you.
God called Gideon to do this work and help the people who cried to Him. “Gideon, you are called into the work of the Lord!” You are called into a great work. Do you experience this calling? Are you called? Gideon was sent to help set God’s children free, as Moses did. Moses had to hear and obey what God said. Gideon had a question: If it is you who is calling and sending us, why do we find ourselves in such trouble? Why do we not experience freedom? If God was with us we should not be in this terrible state. God did not create the problem. It is not because of God that they were chased into the mountains to hide, but if you do not listen to God that is where you will find yourself.
God called Gideon to this great task – which was like a mountain to him. He wanted clarity about things. He wanted to make sure that it was God who was sending him so he asked God for signs. The first thing was, “If now I have found favour in your eyes, then show me a sign that it is you who speak with me. 18 Please do not depart from here until I come to you and bring out my present and set it before you.” And he said, “I will stay till you return.” 19 Gideon went inside, prepared a young goat, and from an ephah[a] of flour he made bread without yeast. Putting the meat in a basket and its broth in a pot, he brought them out and offered them to him under the oak. 20 The angel of God said to him, “Take the meat and the unleavened bread, place them on this rock, and pour out the broth.” And Gideon did so. 21 Then the angel of the Lord touched the meat and the unleavened bread with the tip of the staff that was in his hand. Fire flared from the rock, consuming the meat and the bread. And the angel of the Lord disappeared. Judges 6:19-21
This was a sign that God was calling him but it did not satisfy him. Even though he saw that it, it didn’t satisfy him 33 Now all the Midianites, Amalekites and other eastern peoples joined forces and crossed over the Jordan and camped in the Valley of Jezreel. 34 Then the Spirit of the Lord came on Gideon, and he blew a trumpet, summoning the Abiezrites to follow him. 35 He sent messengers throughout Manasseh, calling them to arms, and also into Asher, Zebulun and Naphtali, so that they too went up to meet them. 36 Gideon said to God, “If you will save Israel by my hand as you have promised— 37 look, I will place a wool fleece on the threshing floor. If there is dew only on the fleece and all the ground is dry, then I will know that you will save Israel by my hand, as you said.” 38 And that is what happened. Gideon rose early the next day; he squeezed the fleece and wrung out the dew—a bowlful of water.
39 Then Gideon said to God, “Do not be angry with me. Let me make just one more request. Allow me one more test with the fleece, but this time make the fleece dry and let the ground be covered with dew.” 40 That night God did so. Only the fleece was dry; all the ground was covered with dew. Judges 6:33-40
Gideon believed in his heart and knew God had called him.
Have you been called? Have you heard God’s voice? Do you still hear God’s voice calling you to those who are troubled and lost in their sins, those who do not know God? For what reason are you here? Is there a reason why you are here but you do not listen to God? If you are being called by God but you refuse to obey, punishment awaits you. It is not your father, uncle, brother or sister calling you, it is God.
The conversation between Gideon and the Angel of the Lord is a blessing. What else do you want? Listen to God because there is work purposed for you. What happened through Gideon can happen through you. Gideon received a blessing through him listening and speaking to God. It is not that God does not want to speak to you but you do not recognise His voice because you have your own way of seeing things, your likes and your reasons. God has stopped speaking to you because He speaks in vain.
After everything had happened, God said to Gideon that he should go to the altar of Baal, his father’s idol. “Go and break down your father’s idol. I want to work amongst the children of Israel but I cannot while Baal is present. There is something that is preventing me from working. Go and destroy your father’s idol. Do not be afraid. Do not leave anything standing.” Gideon was sent to break down the altar of Baal and the pole of Asherah. Tear down your father’s altar to Baal and cut down the Asherah pole[c] beside it. Judges 6:25
Brethren, let us be busy with God’s things. Are there idols in our lives and houses? Are there places for Asherah next to Baal which prevent God from working? If you remove God from the picture, it is no wonder you are as blunt as you are, as spiritually dumb as you are. Return, there is work for all of us. Let us return to our houses and our minds, is there nothing of Baal and Asherah there? Some who live here claim to worship God but they sacrifice to the ancestors. Some stay here but their spiritual lives are going down. Are they are busy with that which Siyabonga was busy with?
God said, “Gideon, I am sending you. Go and destroy the places of Baal and Asherah because those things are an abomination to me.” Many people are hindered because of films, TV series and DVDs; which is why they are growing cold and getting nowhere. I was happy when somebody brought some DVDs, which did not contain anything really evil, but they stood in God’s way. Go and check. There are many things in your life that are stopping you and hindering God’s work in your life and the lives of others. God said to Gideon that he had to do this but Gideon’s response was that the people would kill him. Gideon destroyed the things without the permission of his father. If we do not destroy sin it will destroy us. This sin will not just keep you static or prevent your growth, it will kill you. Gideon destroyed that Baal, the treasure of the people. They believed that they could not do anything without first enquiring from Baal about the matter. Gideon totally destroyed it. 27 So Gideon took ten of his servants and did as the Lord told him. But because he was afraid of his family and the townspeople, he did it at night rather than in the daytime.
28 In the morning when the people of the town got up, there was Baal’s altar, demolished, with the Asherah pole beside it cut down and the second bull sacrificed on the newly built altar! Judges 6:27&28
At the spot of Baal’s altar he built an altar to the lord. He used the Asherah pole as wood for the sacrifice of the Lord. If we want to get rid of sin, we need to hate sin as a first step. Many people confess their sins but they do not get victory. Some like it so much that they do not confess it or they confess it but they still love it. Do you confess sin because it is a law? That is why we fail.
25 That same night the Lord said to him, “Take the second bull from your father’s herd, the one seven years old.[b] Tear down your father’s altar to Baal and cut down the Asherah pole[c] beside it. 26 Then build a proper kind of[d] altar to the Lord your God on the top of this height. Using the wood of the Asherah pole that you cut down, offer the second[e] bull as a burnt offering.” Judges 6:25&26
Where sin once ruled it should be obvious that God now reigns. God must be brought into that place where evil ruled so that Satan can see that he has lost his territory. It must be obvious that God has saved your life. It must be obvious that your love for God is greater than your love for the things of the world. You must have a desire to read your Bible, not that you read it because this is what your parents want you to do. Some do it because other people tell them to do so but they do not want to. It will become obvious which wolf you are feeding. We should work to get rid of sin in our lives. God must be seen. Remove the dirt. Take out all of Satan’s furniture. Take out your idols – everything that takes God’s place – your music which is pulling you down spiritually. It is no surprise that people do not attend services. If you live here you cannot take 30 minutes in a week to attend a service. Attending church on Sundays only will not keep you alive. You make excuses and say you are too busy. What are you busy with? Do these things bring spiritual life to you? You should not be surprised at the condition of your spiritual life. The problem is with you. Instead of being busy with God, having fellowship with the Spirit of the Lord, you have fellowship with the things you love. Baal sits comfortably in your life. Some people are defiled by their own hands. Remove the things that defile you. Remove the things of the devil from your life. It is no wonder that you despise others.
When Gideon removed these things God began to work. When the people wanted to kill Gideon, Gideon’s father took his side. 31 But Joash replied to the hostile crowd around him, “Are you going to plead Baal’s cause? Are you trying to save him? Whoever fights for him shall be put to death by morning! If Baal really is a god, he can defend himself when someone breaks down his altar.” Judges 6:31 For how long are you going to protect this Baal of yours? Let Baal fight. After all, he is supposed to be God and omnipotent. Who is this Baal in your life? What is the thing that takes the place of God in your life, brother? Let it be destroyed, otherwise you will be destroyed.
The children of Israel were set free from the oppression of the Midianites. No matter how powerful the enemy was, God fought for Israel and set them free. They returned and worshipped God once again. May God be merciful to us. Do not duck and dive when there is sin in your life. God wants to set you free. He wants to build His army. God said to Gideon that He wanted to set them free but He did not want so many soldiers to fight for Him because they would become proud and say that the victory was achieved through their power. God needed to sift them. God said that He would sift the people. He would not fight with such a large mass of soldiers 22 000 went home; 10 000 stayed. God said that there were still too many. 4 And the Lord said to Gideon, “The people are still too many. Take them down to the water, and I will test them for you there, and anyone of whom I say to you, ‘This one shall go with you,’ shall go with you, and anyone of whom I say to you, ‘This one shall not go with you,’ shall not go.” 5 So he brought the people down to the water. And the Lord said to Gideon, “Everyone who laps the water with his tongue, as a dog laps, you shall set by himself. Likewise, everyone who kneels down to drink.” 6 And the number of those who lapped, putting their hands to their mouths, was 300 men, but all the rest of the people knelt down to drink water. 7 And the Lord said to Gideon, “With the 300 men who lapped I will save you and give the Midianites into your hand, and let all the others go every man to his home.” 8 So the people took provisions in their hands, and their trumpets. And he sent all the rest of Israel every man to his tent, but retained the 300 men. And the camp of Midian was below him in the valley. Judges 7:4-8
God’s army was victorious with only 300 people. They did not have to fight in their own strength. It was God’s war and Gideon’s. Do you not want to be sifted by God? Are you spiritually fast asleep? Are you busy with your own things? Do you not realise that you are in a battle yet you are fast asleep. You do not hear or see anything. May God open your eyes that He can revive you. Friends, allow the others to go but you should stay behind if you are called to God’s work. Stay behind and make your life right with God. Stay behind so that God can use you in the battle.
Conclusion: Albu van Eeden
In connection with videos: Years ago, James Dobson of Focus on the Family released a video of a Jew who had spent years in Hollywood producing films. He said that people do not realise what is being poured into their souls when they watch movies. Nothing in a video is coincidental. Everything is planned. Every scene is planned, the furniture placement, the background, the pictures on the walls. Even if things are out of focus, there is a purpose for this. Even if there is no immorality, still there is a worldly way of capturing things through the lens of the cameras. In order to create a particular character, the camera shots are planned to capture the character. Even though an attractive woman may not dress or behave badly but the camera constantly focuses on her physical beauty. This teaches you and your children to view things from a worldly perspective. There may be no sex, no kissing and no worldly clothing but there is a worldly way of judging and evaluating situations. One example he used was a scene of a young man who was upset with his father. They both stand on one side of the father’s table speaking to each other. The father, an angry fuming man, is shouting at this boy. The boy is calm and innocent trying to explain things to his father who does not understand. The angry father leans on his knuckles on the table and shouts at his son. The father is a pastor and on his desk is an open Bible. The camera focuses on the Bible. On it is a revolver and then the camera moves back to the father’s face. This sends the message that a Bible-believing father is an angry, violent man who is associated with weapons. It does not show the father’s love and care for the son. If you watch worldly movies, a certain element of worldliness will enter your life and your family’s life. He who is a friend of the world is an enemy of God. If you watch these movies you are becoming an enemy of God and His children. You do not realise how you are being manipulated by the cameras. This is Baal. Get rid of that poison in your house. It is poison to your soul. It teaches you the way of the devil and how to think the way the devil thinks. You will perceive God’s children as angry people who follow the law and you will not see the love of God behind them.