Jesus was made flesh
We greet you this morning. This is a great day a season of great joy. This is a time for children to be enriched and let their voices sound out through the world because of the Saviour who has come. What a joy it is to hear the happy sounds of the season which bring the good news of our Saviour and Lord Jesus Christ.
Yesterday I heard a conversation where the tradition of Christmas was discussed. ‘Christmas, the Christ Child and the exchange of gifts is so traditional and old fashioned. We need something new,’ they said. ‘New artists should bring us something new. Why should we keep the old, the old, old story?’
The Scripture is true: We all like sheep have gone astray. Everyone has turned to his own way. How wonderful that we can be reminded year after year of these glad tidings of great joy as we read in Luke 2:8 And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. 10 And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord. Heaven declared it as tidings of great joy. This great joy was not only for the shepherds or a select few, but it was for me and you too.
3 I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, 4 always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, 5 because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. 6 And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. Philippians 1:3-6
Can your shepherd pray with joy when He remembers you and me? Let this be a time when we can admonish each other. That this Christ will be yours. He came to save. If you are not saved, you are a selfish man and woman. You will be unhappy because you seek things for yourself only. You seek your own riches, comforts and existence. If these tidings remain tidings of great joy, you will spend your life in the Church of Christ and be part of Christ. You will be a blessing to others. You will give up and sacrifice your own because of the love that Christ puts in you. We thank the Lord who enables and equips us for every good work - work that is good in the sight of heaven, where each one plays his part where he is.
Do you play your part as a child in your family or are you a burden? Can your parents say, “How would we survive without this child?” In a choir, each singer has his own role. In an orchestra each one has a vital role. During this time of COVID-19 when so many people are being infected, you might be limited in what you can do but let your life be a joy to those around you, there where you are. This is only possible if Jesus who has come to save from sin, has saved you and your sins are blotted out through the blood of the Saviour. God loved us so much that no-one should perish but have this everlasting life.
We thank the Lord that we can listen to a message by Rev. Stegen today. His messages are very precious to me. They are new every morning. It seems as if it was preached today for the first time. How wonderful that we have recordings and equipment to keep these messages that have been anointed by the Spirit of the Lord. These messages equip us and revive us and make us what He wants us to be through His Spirit. May the Lord bless us and may His word find room in our hearts.
Rev Erlo Stegen
It is Christmas day today. It is a great day for God was made flesh.
Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. 2 By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, 3 and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already. 4 Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. 1 John 4:1-3
Today is a great day, for our Saviour Jesus Christ was born for us. What does that mean? Why did Jesus come as a man? Why should Jesus come in the flesh? It is said that there will be many false prophets and we will need discernment, especially in this era when many claim to be prophets, but are false prophets. This text helps us to understand the difference between the Spirit of God and Jesus and the spirit of the antichrist. Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. 1 John 4:1 How are we to discern because it says there are many false prophets? The text says that you will know the Spirit of God through this: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God… 1 John 4:2 What does it mean that Jesus came in the flesh? Many religions admit that there was a Jesus in the flesh. The antichrist does not deny Christ’s existence, but he is the antichrist as he replaces Jesus Christ.
Let us look more carefully at the meaning of Jesus coming in the flesh. Jesus is both God-Himself and man-Himself. We are told that all things are created by Him and unto Him which shows that Jesus is God for He is the creator of everything. He is the Alpha and the Omega. Alpha meaning that He was there from the beginning and has created all things. He created Heaven and earth. He was from the very beginning right to the very end. Jesus is God Himself. He is the Spirit. But He came down and became flesh. He became fully human like you and me, while being God. He was known as the son of God. Doctors say that a child receives the blood from its father and the body from its mother. In this way, He is both God and man. This is a great secret. If you understand that the blood comes from the father, you will understand that Jesus was the son of God, not of Joseph. That is why His divine blood is so precious. We should never take His blood lightly. If you are washed in the blood of Jesus, you are washed in the blood of God. You should treat it is as very precious. The blood of the Lord should be treated very carefully. We are cleansed by the blood of the Son of God, not the blood of Joseph, not the blood of man, but the blood of the Most High. How precious that blood should be to you! The Lord says that He who confesses and forsakes his sin shall obtain mercy. Consider how precious the blood of Jesus should be to us if we were cleansed by that blood. What manner of lives should we not be living?
The body is from the mother. The soul in in the blood. If Jesus has human blood, He would be a sinner like you and me, but He was sinless. He received His body from Mary, that is why we know Him as fully man. His blood He received from God the Father, that is why we know him as fully God. Faith in this precious blood is very precious. Woe to the one who tramples this blood underfoot.
There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. Romans 8:1-2
The body is from the mother. That is why we are sinners for the sin dwells in the body, in the flesh and we are live in it. When you try to fight against the flesh you will fail. One person said that he would stop smoking but that demon of smoking was in him. He threw his cigarettes into the long-drop toilet. But after 3 or 4 days he went back to buy cigarettes again because of the fierce craving he had for cigarettes. The sin indwelt him. Another old man who smoked a pipe heard that it was bad or sinful. So, he said, “Lord, I hear that you don’t want this therefore I am stopping. My body is your temple and this is the end of it.” He buried his pipe in the corner of the garden. But after 3 days he craved his pipe so much that he dug it up, shook off the sand and smoked again. Sin indwells your flesh. You try to stop but it is unstoppable. Drug addicts also try to stop but they cannot leave the habit because sin indwells them. Although God has told you stop with your lying, killing, and smoking, you continue. Although you try very hard, you cannot leave the sin because the temper, the irritability indwells you. Jesus had divine blood but a body, nonetheless. He was sinless. If you try to stop sinning, you just cannot no matter how hard you try. This points us to Romans 7:24 24 Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?
In ancient times, Paul and the people of his day, fully understood the meaning of this expression: Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? In ancient times, a person was not hanged or given a lethal injection but if you had killed someone and were caught, the corpse of the dead person was tied to the murderer - hands to hands, arms to arms, mouth to mouth, eye to eye, legs to legs. If the murderer wanted to get up, it would be difficult because he would be tied to this corpse. If he would walk in the street, he would do so with difficulty saying, “Wretched man that I am, who will deliver me from this body of death?” The corpse putrefied as it was tied to him. As the worms grew in the corpse, they would move to him. The maggots would enter his mouth and nose. A corpse stinks. (No matter how much you love a person, when they die you must needs bury them.) This putrid corpse was killing him because the maggots invaded him, the rottenness entered him. He would cry, “Wretched man that I am, who will deliver me?” No-one could. This is like drug addiction, immorality and filthy thoughts which make a person cry out, “Oh wretched man that I am who will set me free from this body of death?” The murderer was killed by the corpse. No-one would be allowed to deliver him from the body. God sees mankind in his wretched state and He loves them nevertheless. Look at the addiction and sexual immorality in little children. Look at the disrespect and rebelliousness of young people. Jails are full. One can mention so many things.
Do you know this liberation? After being bound to the corpse of sin, you have been set free? Here is the marvellous thing: He goes on to say 25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! Romans 7:25 Jesus Christ in the flesh is able to set us free from this body of death. There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. Romans 8: 1,2 God has given us laws: Do not lie. Do not steal. Do not be promiscuous. But that does not help us. But what the law could not accomplish, Christ did by coming in the flesh. For there was no sin in Him.
If you are trying to stop something but cannot, come to Jesus. He will set you free. Because sin is in our flesh, we cannot leave it. God sent Jesus to earth in the flesh. He was sinless. He was victorious over sin and the devil. If you accept Jesus to live in you, you will live a life like Him - a holy life. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. Romans 8: 1,2 It is wonderful to believe. There is nothing in the world like faith, because if you meet with Jesus Christ, He delivers you from your sin which is something the law could not do. The law says do not steal - a person wants to stop sinning but cannot - even if he is beaten with a sjambok, he will return to that sin because the sin of being like a pig is in him. The satanic dog is inside you, that is why you continue behaving like a dog. If you receive Christ, you will separate from your sin. Even if sin is put right in front of you, you will resist it. You can take a chicken and its chicks to water, but they will not enter the water because they are not ducks. They do not love water.
This is why Christmas is so special. Christ can enter the life of a person who was rebellious and has left home to wander in the world and change them. That is why the Bible says, There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus Romans 1:8 I once heard a wonderful story about an infamous criminal who met with Christ. People said that they no longer needed to guard him or watch out for their little girls. There was no fault in him. They did not fear that he would steal their money because the Bible says, there is therefore now no condemnation. People have parted from sin. They no longer need to be policed. Is that not wonderful? Do you see how great the event of Christmas is? You do not have to beg for Christmas gifts. This is the great gift – Christ - who enters in and conquers sin and death. The Alpha and Omega indwells you. You do not have to try and be holy because Christ who indwells you is holy. The spirit that agrees to this, is from God. The spirit or person who rejects this truth is the spirit of the antichrist because they live in sin. I have said that the spirit of the antichrist replaces or substitutes the Spirit of Christ. Is this understandable now? Now even if Satan tempts you with your old sins, it is no trouble for you because the One who indwells you is greater than he who is in the world.
We thank God for these wonderful tidings. If you are troubled by something, come. Do not keep silent. Be washed and set free by His power.
Sunday Morning - Are you an oak or a bramble? Are you in the centre of God’s plan for you?
Albu van Eeden
We would like to welcome you to this service. We have some wonderful news this morning. You may remember that we prayed for rain for two farmers and one has received 21mm between yesterday and today.
As I considered today’s message, a text that came to mind. Although it is not actually a Christmas text it has a very rich Christmas message.
On one occasion, while the crowd was pressing in on him to hear the word of God, he was standing by the lake of Gennesaret, 2 and he saw two boats by the lake, but the fishermen had gone out of them and were washing their nets. 3 Getting into one of the boats, which was Simon's, he asked him to put out a little from the land. And he sat down and taught the people from the boat. 4 And when he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.” Luke 5:1 – 4
What are we celebrating with Christmas? We celebrate the time when God came into the boat of mankind and sat down in our boat. He did not just come to earth on a quick visit and leave again. He came to this earth and sat down with us poor, lost sinners, who lived in total darkness. He sat down and experienced everything we are experiencing – pain, persecution, temptation. He experienced all these things because He sat down with us. What we have celebrated these days is when He first came down and sat in our boat with us. Tell me, has Jesus ever sat down in your boat? Do you know a time when He came into your boat, into your life with all your plans, dreams, challenges and difficulties? You might have not recognised it when He climbed into your boat. Maybe you did not know that it was Him. Why? He was not one of your people. He was not of your culture. Jesus was a Jew – yes - but there was nothing else that would make Peter identify Him as the Son of God. He was not an educated scribe or Pharisee. The Jews were a theocentric society. The character of the Jewish nation was in their religion. There is no other nation on earth where the character of the nation is in their faith and nothing else - a man’s faith that made him a Jew or a Gentile. To be able to identify someone as sent by God, they would look to the religious leaders of the time because they knew the prophets, they knew when God was going to come down. But Peter had eyes to see and to recognise Him, that He was Jesus the Christ. We read that in verse 5. 5 And Simon answered, “Master, we toiled all night and took nothing! But at your word I will let down the nets.” He calls him Master, not mister or sir. 6 And when they had done this, they enclosed a large number of fish, and their nets were breaking.
Peter had eyes to recognise the Son of God. He might have climbed into your boat, but you were blind and did not see Him because He was not one ‘of us’, not one of my culture, not one of my people. He does not have my skin colour. He does not share my political convictions. Politics has become a religion these days. In the years of the fight for Tanzania’s independence from England when Julius Nyerere was the first president of Tanzania, he said, “Seek first the political kingdom and everything else will be added unto you.” Friends, we live in a time when people worship and seek the kingdom of politics. Politics is the be all and end all of their lives. If that is what your eyes are like, you will miss the Son of God when He climbs into your boat. You will not recognise Him.
In these days we heard how the angel appeared to Joseph, the father of the Lord Jesus, and told him to take that girl, even though she was pregnant, as his wife, because the pregnancy was from God. What made Joseph obey? Was it only because an angel spoke to him? Do not think that the angel was a shining figure with wings necessarily. God can come in a very different way to what you imagine. The angels who visited Lot in Sodom and Gomorrah were three men. Things were not always so clear to say - this is an angel, this is just a human being. Remember when Jesus was baptised by John the Baptist, a voice spoke from heaven saying, “This is my beloved Son with whom I am well pleased.” The Bible says that some who heard those words thought it was just thunder. Those who had an ear to hear the voice of God recognised the words.
When Jesus entered your boat, did you recognise Him or did you just view Him as another person from the crowd? He came to this earth for you and for me. Did you recognise Him or are you continuing with your life and your own dreams? Some people recognise Him when He enters their boat. One man of God said that it does not matter if Christ has been born a thousand times on this earth, but if he has not born into your heart, or your boat, He might as well not have come at all.
Are you worshipping money? Cheating, stealing, jealous of those with money, hating one who has cheated you, hating the person for years who stole money from you? You want to get somewhere, you want your children to get somewhere, that is what’s important to you – not Christ the Saviour. He might have sat in your boat and you never noticed Him there. You never saw Him because you were busy with your people, your political party, your family, your wife, your children. That is your kingdom. In vain that Christ was born on the earth for you if that is the case.
In the text He came and sat down. He did not just arrive when He was born at Christmas. He sat down with us as human beings and for 33 years He lived with us in this world.
There is a strong movement nowadays which says Christmas is wrong and that we should not celebrate it. It is said that Christmas was a heathen holiday for the sun god which the Christians adopted. (We can be the most difficult group of people to get along – we stab each other in the back instead of working together. We criticise and find fault.) This is false. The first reference to the 25th of December celebrated as the birth of Christ was 205 years after the birth of Christ. A Roman historian, Hippolytus of Rome wrote about it. He says 25 December was already practised by Christians then. Do you know when it was changed into a heathen thing? 274 was the first mention of it. In 202 already they were celebrating it as the birth of Christ. In 274 Emperor Aurelian changed it, making it a day for the celebration of the winter solstice – celebration of the sun. That Christmas should no longer be celebrated has spread like wildfire amongst Christians and is destroying something that is beautiful and precious. We are our own biggest enemies.
One of the biggest mosques in the world is in Turkey – the Hagia Sophia Mosque. Before it was a mosque it was the main cathedral of the Eastern Orthodox Church. The Muslims conquered Turkey and they turned it into a mosque. What do the Christians say? Oh, it was a loss the Muslims took our church from us. But if it was a mosque in a country that became Christian and it was turned into a church, the Christians would have criticised that as well – no, no that was a mosque – you are using a mosque to worship the Lord Jesus Christ. This is the spirit of the bramble bush that is amongst Christians.
The Lord Jesus did not just climb into the boat and sit down. After some time, He turned around and said to Peter, “Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.” What was Peter’s reaction? “Excuse me sir, go and play in another place, I have been a fisherman all my life and you are a carpenter. What do you know about fishing?” If you have recognised Christ in your boat, if you have accepted Him to stay in your boat, this will not be the end of it. He will begin instructing you in what to do. This is where many people go off the rails. They know Christ is in their boat. They attend service every Sunday. Christ is in my boat. Every Sunday I listen to Him speaking. But this is not where the trick lies. If He is really in your boat, He will speak to you and tell you, “Do this and do that.” This may go against your common sense and your logic: Do not marry like the world. Get married in My way - when I want it, if I want it, to the person I want you to marry. It is only when Peter obeyed the Lord, against his common sense, that He displayed and reaped fruit to show for his faith. Unless you obey the Lord, friends, it is of no use that the Lord Jesus is in your boat. If you have allowed Him to sit, if you have recognised Him, if you allow Him to give you instructions and tell you what to do and if you obey Him, then your life will start bearing fruit. You will become like a big oak tree, giving fruit and shade and being a blessing to the animals – otherwise you will turn into a bramble - finding fault and complaining about other Christians.
What happened when the Lord Jesus commanded them? Firstly, they caught the fish. Then they left their boats and followed Christ. You can sit in church until you are blue in the face, if you do not leave your boat, your ideals, your dreams, you will not get anywhere with the Lord Jesus. Within a few minutes, when Christ called them to follow Him, their lives changed from fishermen to a completely different direction that God called them to. Only then you will be the blessing that this oak tree was.
Allow me to read the story: There was a young oak growing in the jungle. It rejoiced when it bore fruit. One day there was a bramble near the oak tree. (A very thorny bush with small, edible berries.) As this oak tree grew larger, the bramble spoke, “Just look at how much space this big tree occupies in the forest. Just think of how much nourishment this big tree takes from the ground that we could have had!” Do you recognise this spirit, friends? Instead of being thankful for the oak, he finds fault with it. Some of the plants growing under the oak said, “No, the shade of this big tree helps us to grow. It is a cool place and it is pleasant for us to be there.” The animals would lie down in the shade and rest a bit and it would help them and bless them. The birds built their nests. Friends, what I am trying to tell you is what it means to bear fruit. This big oak tree was a blessing to everybody and every animal around it through its shade, the birds, all the food that came from the tree. If you have Christ in your boat and allow Him to tell you to do whatever He wants you to do, your life will start bearing fruit and you will be a blessing to those around you. You will provide them with work, with an income, with clothing and food. You will take care of people. You will not take from people but give to them. The bramble was not satisfied. Friends, a person with the spirit of a bramble will never, never, never be satisfied. All the bramble said was, “Well, all I know is that this big tree is taking a lot of nourishment from the soil that I could have had.” Is that spirit not in you, dear friend? Are you a blessing to the people around you or are you spreading your cancer like the bramble bush? The bramble replied and said, “All I see is this oak tree spreads his branches as if the whole world belongs to him. Who does he think he is? Cut him down, cut them down, that is what I say. Let us brambles take over.” But you are forgetting all the fruit this tree gives to the animals? The squirrels come and eat from it. They are nourished by it. Just look at what a blessing they are. Do you know what the tree does? He doesn’t give reluctantly. He gives freely. Friends, is that what your heart and mind are like? Wherever you go, the music you listen to, the words that come from your mouth – do all these things bring life?
I will never forget when I was a young Christian and I was working late one evening with a specialist in a hospital. I noticed that the spirit of the bramble was entering my life. How did I notice this? I noticed that I did not lie outright, but tended to twist the truth slightly so that I did not look quite as bad. I noticed that over a few weeks this tendency was growing in my life – more and more often I caught myself twisting the truth. It was not quite what happened. It was nearly the truth. Then I spoke to myself. (I wondered whether I was becoming queer by speaking to myself? Then I remembered that David also spoke to his soul. David said, “Take courage my soul…” and things like that.) So I said to myself, “Albu, if you don’t want to hear, then you must feel.” (That’s what my parents told me if I did not want to listen. If you do not want to hear, then you must feel and when they increased the heat down here, suddenly my mind opened and I understood things I had never understood before.) This is the spirit of the bramble starting in your life. I said to myself, “From now on, every time you tell a half-truth, you will go back to that person and apologise for your half-truth and you will tell that person what it was that was not the truth.”
One evening I was on duty late with a specialist at 11pm. He asked me something and I did not tell him the whole truth. I don’t know whether it was because I wanted to get home quickly and I was tired but half way home it struck me - hang on, remember what you told yourself? You have just told a lie again! I thought, “No man, I can’t go back now, it’s 12 o’clock at night? Maybe he is asleep already.” I said to myself if he is asleep, you can speak to him on another day. I arrived home, picked up my phone and called him. I said, “I am sorry to trouble you, I know you are tired and you have worked hard today. But do you remember when you asked me this and this and I answered that and that. It was not the whole truth. I actually twisted it a little bit in my favour.” Friends, it happened two or three times and then it disappeared completely from my life. The spirit of the bramble will creep into your life with small things like that.
The oak gave gladly, free of charge to all the animals. I will never forget something Rev Stegen said from this pulpit some years ago when President Ronald Reagan was elected as USA president. President Reagan said, “Many people look at big companies as companies that steal their money and exploit people’s labour in their favour. But they do not realise the big companies are like the train locomotive that gives many people employment and work. If it goes well with the companies, then it will go well with the workers and they will get better salaries. But if the spirit of the bramble enters people, they are blind to it.
And when oak tree said to the bramble, “I give freely to the others.” The bramble said, “You see, you see, that’s exactly it. You give away for nothing – why should we be giving things away for nothing? When people come to us brambles, we prick them with our thorns if they want to get hold of one of those berries. We don’t give anything for nothing. Friends, I think of how many people have received everything from this mission for decades, for nothing? But forget about the mission. What about your own personal life? Is Christ still in your boat? Are you still listening to this babe born in Bethlehem? Do you keep Him in your boat but go wherever you want to go?
Here is the tragedy. This oak was still young. And he began asking himself, “Why should I be giving away my fruit, my acorns for nothing? Why should I do it? Why should I give shelter to all those people, all these creatures, all those animals? What do they ever do for me? I give, what do they do for me?”
Giving away, yet receiving nothing – this is the spirit of the Christ Child that was born in Bethlehem.
The tree began changing. Whenever tired horses or cows came to rest under its branches, the oak tree said, go away. You can’t just keep coming and resting under my shade – go away – find some other place to rest. Do you know what happened? Slowly the sap of the wood of the tree turned to poison.
Friends, can I say this clearly once and for all – the biggest privilege that you and I have if we serve Christ is to serve people, to serve God, without expecting any reward. That is a privilege! If the devil has robbed you of that attitude and criticism has entered and you criticise this and that, it shows you that you have become a bramble. May God help us, brothers and sisters, that no bramble will turn our sap into poison. It will be our end as Christians.
The oak tree became sour and said, go away. I can’t share my fruit with you. You can’t find safety with me anymore. And the tree began to dry up.
Christ may be in your boat but if you do not continue obeying Him - as ridiculous as it might sound, if He tells you something - your sap will turn into poison.
The seasons came and went and the tree shrank and shrivelled up. The wind blowing through the branches of this tree sighed and said, “Give, give or how shall you receive? Bless or there is no room for blessings for you!” But as this tree shrivelled up, the last words were, “Why should I give away free of charge?” The tree had rotted to the core.
Friends, has the devil been able to spread his rot in your life? You brag about how many girls you have made pregnant. Is that what comes from your life? You have half-a-dozen children all over the place from different girls and you think that is what makes you good. You have shrivelled up. You have lost your purpose as a human being. In vain that Christ came into this world at Christmas time.
Allow you to tell me a second story to emphasise this: It is said there was a spider. This spider tried to spin a web between two lamp posts. The two lamp posts were on either side of a railway track. This spider climbed up the pole. You can climb up through difficulties of life, but it is all for your glory, your qualifications, your family. The devil will not just give you money like that, you will have to sweat for it. The spider reached the top of the one lamp post and it wanted to reach the other one – so it started swinging around, tried a few times and finally managed to land on the other pole. It had just done that when a train came past and destroyed the spider web. So the spider patiently tried again. Whenever she reached the other pole a train came past and destroyed everything. Finally, when there were no trains this spider managed to spin a beautiful cob web. Webs can be quite artistic and beautiful, especially early in the morning if there are dewdrops on the web – it sparkles and it’s a beautiful thing. Beautiful colours are reflected in the dewdrops from the rays of the sun. Unfortunately, it did not take long and another train came past, going right through the web and destroyed everything.
Friends, God’s plan for this world is like that train. There is nothing man can do can stop the plan for this world. It does not matter how much time you spend creating the most beautiful things - you can attack God’s work through the press and through social media, but know this: the plan of God will move like that train through this world and nothing that any man does can stop God’s plan for this world. If God does not send the train of His will through your life here and leaves you to spin your beautiful web - spending a fortune on your hair, clothes, looks, make-up, foundations and yourself so that you look as beautiful as that spider web; you are brilliant, you get your degree and your children get their degrees but one day when you stand before the great white throne of God on Judgement Day, God can send the train of His will through everything you have done and you realise that your life has been wasted. As beautiful as it looked, as attractive as it was, it has zero value in eternity. Nothing!
The train is not only God’s will for this world. This revival is like a train. You will be unable to stop it, no matter what you do, what strategies you have, how many millions and millions you put into it, God’s train of revival will continue. It is not enough to say, “Okay, I have stopped making my cobwebs because I realise it does not help because God’s train goes through it.” You stand aside and watch the train of God moving up and down and you think at least you are not building cobwebs that are broken each time. No, for revival more than that is necessary! You must get onto God’s train. You must have God’s heart, His passion, His dreams in your heart. It is not enough to make sure you are not in the way of the train. No! You have missed the point. You must get into the train and move with it in order to live and work with God so that He can reach His goal with us.
Imagine a spider on a train – what is the use of a spider on a train? It cannot throw coals onto the fire to keep the train going. That is how I felt when I gave my life to the Lord. I felt out of place like a spider on a train. The desire to sin came so naturally, so spontaneously, so easily, it was part of my character. Being on God’s train and my life meaning something on God’s train, felt as if it clashed with every fibre in my soul. I remember how many times I said, “Lord, I cannot be a Christian. Everything inside me loves the world, I do not belong here.” The Lord did not comfort me and say, sorry, sorry, sorry. I opened my Bible one day when I felt this way and the text that God gave me was: It is good for a young man to bear his yoke in his youth. “I thought, Lord, I thought you were going to wipe away my tears, is this all you can tell me?” But God had given me a desire to be part of a special revival where God works. I came here as a young man for about 6 months. Another young man was also here from Stellenbosch University. We had the same qualification. I was a shy person. My mother had taught me not to put myself forward, but rather to let people invite me. This other brother was literally the opposite. When Rev Stegen went with the choir to preach and sing, I waited to be invited but not this other man. He asked to go along and Rev Stegen happily agreed. In my heart I realised, “Albu, you must forget about your personal likes, dislikes and issues, the train of God’s revival is moving. If you sit and wait to be treated in a special way, the train will go past and you will just sit and get nowhere.” One of the biggest causes of sin in a person’s life is the fact that it goes against my grain and my way of doing things. On that day when I realised, “Albu, if you want to be part of the revival you will have to jump onto this train otherwise you will just stay behind, you will not taste the sweetness of what God wants to do and the miracle of what God is doing amongst black and white people.”
Do you know what was the strictest warning light? I saw in Rev Stegen a man who would jump onto this train and pay the cos,t whatever it was, to get onto this revival. He did not plan things, as a leader, to his benefit or comfort, no, he denied himself. Whatever price God wanted him to pay, he paid. He realised the harshness of God’s will, of going where He wants you to and yet paid the price. This is what made me realise one cannot change the train, “Albu, jump on or otherwise stay behind and lose out!” Have you been willing to sacrifice everything in order to be on God’s train?
When Christ entered this world as a little baby, He came to fit into the plan of His father, into the train of God’s plan for this world. The Bible says that He even had to learn obedience. He is God Himself, one of the Triune God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. God Himself had to come down and enter your and my boat to learn obedience without sinning. He jumped onto God’s train, no matter what it cost Him: humiliation, mockery, beating, laughing, suffering. He joined God’s train even though He was God Himself.
Friends, do you want to stay and do your own thing? In which group do you belong? The group that moans because their cobwebs are broken all the time, the group that has become enemies of the train of God’s will or the group that climbs into God’s will and commits their lives to God, to be used as God wants.
More than 2000 years ago He entered this world. He got into our boats. He climbed onto God’s train and stayed there. This is my prayer: Lord come what may, be merciful that I will remain on your train, as useless as I may think I am, as insignificant as I may think I am. I am where you want Me to be.
Friends, with COVID and all these things, do not lose heart. Do not lose hope with all the challenges - the finances of this country and the world. God’s train is moving where God wants it to go and any effort to stop that train by people, countries, governors, kings, everything, will fail. He will achieve His will.
This was the blessing for me of Christmas when I listened to the Christmas services and I heard how Christ came and the angels sang to the shepherds. I thought, “Lord, You reached a point with mankind where there was no human being to help us. Wonderful men of God came and went. King David came and went. Prophets came and went. Man was lost. There was only one hope and it came straight from heaven without the interference of any man or leader.” God sent His angels to say, “Peace on earth to all mankind.” It is as if God said, “You have nobody to hope in anymore. I am giving you the hope and I am sending you peace on earth.” May God give us the grace to be faithful.
What a wonderful message. We thank the Lord for endowing His servant with such words. This Christ Child came to bring light and life. He is also God and wants to be God in our lives. We can only praise and thank God for His mercy for these Christmas services. May God continue. We ask Him that His work, His doing and His Spirit will continue through this darkness, bringing light and life like the train of which we have heard.
As I thought of our brother bringing the word today, I thought that I would not be ashamed to have a father like him. If you have a father who can speak such words, you are privileged - but terrible if you disregard that privilege.
This Christ child came because of the love of the Father toward us. We are taught many things by this Christ child regarding our attitudes toward each other, our parents, so that our hearts can be united and that God in heaven will have the final say and that He will be satisfied. May His spirit be rekindled, whether you are a child, or whether you have bowed the knee for the first time, repented and received this child. Treat Him with honour. Treat Him as the Son of God.