Introduction Albu van Eeden
We welcome everyone to this Christmas service. When I see today’s audience joy fills my heart. I thank God for the many nations that come to hear the word of God that has one central theme: God’s word became flesh and lived amongst us. We pray that you will experience the presence of the living Word in our midst. No matter what part of the world you come from or your background, He meets all our needs. That is what we have inherited from the leader of this mission which is the central message that should be preached from this pulpit: the triune God is glorified in our midst. We trust that the Lord will speak to you and meet your specific needs.
I greet you on this great day, a day for all peoples on which we remember our Lord’s birth. We thank our God who has enlightened us and shown us the true meaning of Christmas. Many do not know this. In this country, Christmas is time of drinking, fighting and murder. The statistics are alarming. We cannot thank God enough who has revealed the secret of Christmas to us. No matter where this day is celebrated, in the heat of Africa or in the white snow, the theme remains the same: Christmas is the day of the Lord.
3 And all went to be registered, each to his own town. 4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, 5 to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. 6 And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. 7 And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.
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 Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, 14 “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” Luke 2:3-14
The word of God is unfathomable. Its message reaches all people, great and small, intellectual and simple. The text tells us that when Joseph and Mary arrived in Bethlehem they found no space to stay. Was it because there was no space or because of their poverty or lack of prestige? The King of kings was born in a place that was inappropriate. The One who was, is and will be – should He be born in a stable? The One to whom all majesty belongs was born in a stable. Does Jesus find room in your life that suits His position? What is the state of your heart? Are your doors open to Him or is He shut out because of the evil forces of Satan in your life? Was there really no tiny place that could have been made for Him? The world should open the doors of their hearts, give Him room and allow Him in. Where are the young and old who open their lives to Christ and say, “What is mine is Yours and what is Yours is mine. Lord, You shall never lack a room in my life.” Is there a place in your life that is locked, where Jesus is prohibited from entering? In Revelations Jesus says, 20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me. Revelations 2:20 He waits for you. He will not force His way in. You must open the door. We should plead with Him to enter but people seek ways to avoid opening their door to Christ. You know the state of your heart and where you have closed your heart to Christ.
Let us focus on the shepherds. Why did Jesus feel at home among the shepherds? While they were shepherding their flock, guarding the sheep against thieves and animals and being faithful in their work, angels suddenly appeared with this news. They were shocked. One thing followed the next. The angel said, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people…” Are you depressed, is life difficult? When Christmas comes, however, a smile should cover your face! Christmas does not mean festivities, it means a message of salvation, freedom, redemption and complete deliverance from slavery. Your life should tell this story, it should shine out of your life!
While the shepherds were amazed by this message, a multitude of heavenly hosts suddenly joined the angel. It must have been an incredible sight to see! It seemed as if there was no angel who wished to remain in heaven. Each one wanted to be part of this host and bring the amazing news of the Child who would bring salvation to the earth. How long had the world not been waiting for this day and now it had come? God’s plans had been fulfilled. All Satan’s fetters had been broken. Each one should praise God that the chains that bound him to hell and the powers that kept him bound have been broken. Have your chains been snapped or are you still enslaved? Heaven rejoiced with earth about the redemption that came through this Child. The shepherds heard this heavenly message and they met the true Shepherd. Is there another shepherd like Christ? Is there a Shepherd who can pasture us as He does? That’s why these shepherds could rejoice because He was one of them. Heaven praised this Child who had been sent. What has this message accomplished in your life?
When the angels had praised God they returned to heaven but the lives of the shepherds were revolutionised through this event. The shepherds returned home – different. The message of what they had seen and heard accompanied them. They told everyone. Their feet were swift. They shared this joy which was intended for all people. The one who has experienced this message is full of joy and life. Which Saviour have you received? You cannot remain the same. It will be visible to everyone if you have met this Child. If you claim to have the Christ but you feel at home with the heathen, what kind of Christ do you have? Darkness and light have no fellowship. If you have met with the light, the darkness will flee from you. During the festive season a person can be swept up by friends and relatives, draw away by alcohol and the opposite sex and veer off the path forgetting what Christ has done for him. Why?
I am sure the shepherds did not want to separate from that heavenly choir. I am sure they did not want to stop hearing the praise to God. Do you remember how that song filled your heart when you met with Jesus? Did you feel the joy of forgiven sin? Was that day different because of the liberation of your soul? This Child moved heaven and the purpose of His arrival is still being proclaimed today. The source of salvation that broke open on that day is still flowing and it can be experienced today. Here is the fountain, come and drink from it! Here is the Child, the full salvation is ours and has come to us all! We should be drawn to this praise of God and experience this joy. He has come to save you from the grudges you have carried for years. He has come to save you from jealousy. He has come to save you from friction and fighting. This salvation is for young and old, poor and wealthy, grandmothers and grandfathers. Many people are bound to the internet, they are obsessed by it. They cannot survive without it. You bewitch yourself and inject yourself with the poison found there. There is nothing as burdensome as the internet. This full salvation is for you so you can be filled with the new life of Christ.
They were filled with joy at the coming of this Child. In hell plans were immediately underway to snatch away the power of this Child. Satan works through people and you can also be a tool in his hands. Satan found a place in Herod who went to work to destroy this Child because his own position was suddenly at risk. He was focussed on himself and his honour and had no concern for the needs of people. This Child became a threat to his position. “Go and seek for the child. Come back and tell me. I also want to worship the child. I just need to know where he is that I can go to him.” Differentiate between God and Satan. Discern between the one who is seeking his own domain and the one who has come with the heavenly domain. Today still people fail to discern. They join the crowd, follow along, waiting to see what will happen. Can you discern whether a message comes from God or Satan? You should choose to be obedient to God and not Satan. You should choose the one who walks with God and not Satan. Satan wants to rob those who follow the Lord. If you experience joy and are kept by God’s hand, never allow yourself to be enticed into the wrong. Herod was mad about the one who opposed him and wanted to take his throne.
We thank God for a Joseph, the father of our Lord Jesus. I respect such a man. He heard and obeyed God. He was contemplating whether to do away with Mary secretly or not but he obeyed the angel who told him to take Mary as his wife. Joseph displayed manliness and determination to obey God. We need to follow in the steps of those who walk before us. God expects those who hear His voice to be obedient. Joseph heard that voice and he was not confused. After he had obeyed he was entrusted with another commission. He heard the Lord’s voice again while the enemy was planning and did not miss out. It is important to recognise what is of God and what is not of God. We have learned much from Reverend Stegen at this place. Many come for advice and he asks one question: what does God say to you? Because you are a child of God you need to meet God, you need to be willing to be corrected and warned by God. God told Joseph to get up, flee to Egypt and stay there. Salvation rested on the obedience of the father. If he had not heard and acted on this instruction, the life of the Child would have been in danger. Because Joseph had learned obedience, he was able to get up at night and flee to Egypt where he remained until Herod, the enemy of the child, died. He did not return when he felt like it but waited on the instruction of God.
Do you hear the sound of Satan approaching your life wanting to kill the things God has brought into your life? When he comes with doubts, what steps do you take? You need to get up and flee so that the Child that has been entrusted to you will be saved. He escaped to Egypt until the enemy had been overcome, until that king died. Do not allow your life to be ruined because you cannot wait for the Lord’s time. Do not say, “I fell. I went to the internet. I fell into porn. I lusted again.” Wait for the Lord until the enemy dies. If you take it on yourself and say, “I can handle this now.” You will fail. Allow this Jesus to speak in your heart, to change the manner in which you talk.
This Child has come with full salvation. It is yours and mine. God’s plan and intention with this Child for us is good, pure and wholesome.
Conclusion Jabulani Dube
He who has an ear has heard. The wise men asked, “Where is the one who is born?” Are people asking you, “Where is your Jesus who was born?” You claim to have accepted Christ but people cannot see Him. If you have accepted Jesus, your family and your neighbourhood should be able to see this Christ in you.
You need to flee with this Jesus lest He be slain. Herod is like Satan who is always intent on killing Jesus whom we have received. Is Jesus maturing in your life as Jesus grew and eventually preached the good tidings? A child must be kept clean and healthy in order to grow. It is heart breaking for any parent if their new born child does not grow. In the same way your life must be kept clean in order for the Christ Child to mature within you. If you keep yourself busy on the internet or watch porn you will not grow. Examine your life daily to see whether you are still walking with Jesus.
The shepherds and wise men knelt before a small baby and presented Him with gifts. Would you have knelt before such a baby? If Reverend Stegen had been unwilling to enter that stable where we prayed for revival and remove the dung, I doubt we would have received the revival in 1966. It was because of his willingness to bow and enter that stable that we received the blessing of this revival. Those gathered there were not offended by the smell of the dung, they had a higher goal. You can receive Jesus into your life no matter how severe your sin has been, no matter how filthy and vile your life has been, Jesus can revive you, change your life and make it new.
Lastly, Joseph never said that he was not the true father of the child and used that as an excuse not to obey. He took responsibility for the Child and obeyed the angel’s instructions.