We can only thank the Lord this morning who has carried us into this new year. It is only the Lord who can make all the wishes and blessings we have for each other come true. It is His doing alone.
Firstly, we will listen to a word of greeting from Rev Stegen which was broadcast last night.
Rev Erlo Stegen
This is the last day of 2020. The Lord has kept us by His grace throughout the year and carried us through all the storms. Let us not be discouraged. Let us hope in the Lord. Each one who chooses the Lord should continue to do so and those who do not wish to serve Him, should leave it. It is my desire that the Gospel will continue to spread throughout the world.
How wonderful that our eyes can be fixed on the things that are important, which will bring us life and keep us alive as followers of Christ.
I was looking at past sermons. I asked what wishes do we have for others? We have many for ourselves and possibly 99% of our thoughts are for our own benefit, what wishes do we have for others? Are there any that we can transform into actions and purposefully do something to assist the poor soul, to see the person in need. We have such a wonderful, practical example in the leader of this mission, KwaSizabantu. How painful it would be and how poor we have become if we have lost sight of that which Christ alone can plant in us and enable us to do.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made. 4 In him was life,[a] and the life was the light of men. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. John 1:1 – 5
These words testify of the existence of our Lord Jesus Christ. He was in the beginning. He is and He will be there, even in this year that we are facing. All things came into being through Him.
Our lives, children, the fact that you exist, breathe and have been born is because of Jesus. For the rest of your life – as a teenager and then as a working person, whatever will happen, never forget that Jesus was your beginning. Do not deny your Maker. Do not deny your existence.
It is the wish of the Spirit of this Creator God that He is alive in you, that you live by Him. He wishes that you will have fellowship with Him and that you live with Him day and night. True, real life and all that it encompasses, comes from Him alone. It is not your doing, thinking, working or efforts. Let it shine into the darkness of your heart and mind and turn the darkness into light. It is a pity if you cannot comprehend this light because you choose to remain in your darkness.
May I relate to you something that happened very, very long ago. St Augustine (b. 354 d. 430) composed De civitate Dei (The City of God) in response to an attack on Rome by the Visigoth King Alaric in 410. Roman pagans blamed the invasion on the Christian religion, protesting that the ancient gods refused to protect the city out of anger at the adoption of Christianity as the official religion of the Roman Empire in 381.
The enemy, the devil, the deceiver, is the same, even in that time in 381. He came with his lies, saying that the ancient gods refused to protect the city out of anger at the adoption of Christianity as the official religion of the Roman empire. Praise God that He is the holder of the universe. He brings life that is the light of men. After the cruel Caesars such as Nero and his likes, their reign of terror came to an end in 381 because Christianity was adopted as the official religion.
Do you remember that Paul was taken to Rome as a prisoner? Do you know how many Christians were martyred in the Colosseum? Watching Christians being mauled by lions and wild animals was sport. How wonderful that the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church which makes it grow and increase.
What intentions did God have for the Roman empire at the start of the 381? I recently read that when a king stops listening to good advice and continues on his own then the poor people suffer and they lose their land.
The founder and director of this mission has often said that even if you become as old as a cow, you are constantly learning new things. If you stop learning you must be very careful. If you know it all make sure you do not err and that the blessing in your life comes to an end.
St Augustine’s text addressed the action of God in the world and in human history and his collective writings laid the foundation for much of medieval Christian thought. Augustine says that his friend Simplicius told him he had heard a Platonic philosopher say, these first verses of St. John’s gospel were worthy to be written in letters of gold.
Are these words worth gold to you? Will these letters be written in gold in your life in this coming year? Jesus said that heaven and earth would pass away, but His words will remain to eternity. Will they be worth gold to you? What books do you read? Are they worthy to be written in gold? Are they worth more to you than the words of Jesus? Do you direct your life by the words of Jesus that will remain to eternity or are you now taking decisions on your own? You are not sure whether the Lord is with you or whether He has left you? Your life can be worth gold if these verses have become worth gold to you.
Jesus said, “If you believe, as the Scripture says, rivers of living waters will flow out of your inmost being.” John 7:38
The learned Francis Junius 1591, in the account he gives of his own life, tells how was in his youth infected with loose notions in religion and by the grace of God was wonderfully recovered by reading accidentally these verses in the Bible which his father had designedly laid in his way. He says that he observed such a divinity in the argument, such an authority and majesty in the style, that his flesh trembled, and he was struck with such amazement that for a whole day he scarcely knew where he was or what he did; and thence he dates the beginning of his being religious.
Infected with loose notions in religion. You find “loose notions” even on Facebook. Listen, you lovers of social media. Join Facebook to connect with loose notions. Facebook gives people the power to share and makes the world more open and connected. Do you see what power you receive when you join Facebook? It gives you power to share and makes the world more open and connected. Power to make the world more open. If you do not use this power, you will be regarded as ‘not open’, constricted and a bit too narrow minded. This is my deduction from these words by which Facebook is defined. Many people say, “money is power” but with Facebook being connected is power. You can spread something on social media and even the authorities, the armed forces, will have this power exerted on them. Where is the power of Facebook to send the word and the light to the life of men? The light that shines in the darkness, that is my challenge to Facebook. Where is your power to infect people with the life of Christ?
Francis Junius said that he needed to let go of his preconceived and loose notions of ideas. Because of Facebook each person creates their world with these preconceived ideas, and they are unaware that these are ideas of power.
Notion is an individual’s conception or impression of something known, experienced or imagined. They have different notions of right and wrong. A general understanding, vague or imperfect conception or idea of something. A notion of how something should be done, an opinion, view or belief. A fanciful or foolish idea or whim.
If you have a notion that you can swim across the ocean, you are probably wrong. This man had loose notions in religion. Are you serving Christ in your loose notions? Paul said that he had laboured more than others for Christ. He called himself a bondservant of Jesus Christ. He had bound himself to the words of life. He was committed to the light of men. But Francis Junius had loose notions in religion.
I thank God for a place where people can be firmly grounded, where loose notions play no part in their lives. They do not build on sand. Are these words worth gold to you, not the words of Facebook, not the loose notions of a man in his youth?
“Then I will give to the peoples [clear and pure speech from] purified lips [which reflect their purified hearts],
That all of them may call on the name of the Lord, to serve Him shoulder to shoulder (united). Zephaniah 3:9. (AMP)
In this past year, I experienced this - calling on the name of the Lord and serving Him shoulder to shoulder. This is a treasure. If you have not found it, seek for it. In Zephaniah, the Lord speaks through His prophet and tells is that we can serve Him shoulder to shoulder.
Parakletos is a name of the Holy Spirit. Jesus promised to send a Comforter to His disciples. In one place He said, “I have come to pour out My fire on earth, and how I am exercised that it should burn already.” Luke 12:49 Let us remind ourselves of what we know and have heard. In revival times God sends His Holy Spirit who comes down to our level, next to us, He rubs shoulder against shoulder. The definition of Parakletos (a Greek word) is summoned, called to one side, especially called to one’s aid; one who pleads another’s cause before a judge; a pleader, a counsel for defence; a legal assistant; an advocate; an intercessor. Can our Parakletos come down amongst us and intercede for us that we can find grace even in God’s sight. Why should one not long to be filled with this Spirit, rather than loose notions, rather than the intents of Facebook?
29 Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamour and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. 32 Be kind to one another, tender hearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. 4:29 – 32
Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God. Grieve means to offend or vex, to sadden, to cause pain or distress. Paul said …do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God... the one who comes to your aid, the one who is called to your aid, who is your intercessor, your advocate – do not grieve Him. Jesus said, “I will send the Comforter to you…” John 16:7 and it says …do not grieve the Holy Spirit.
We know these days of people who are grieving. Why? A dear one has been taken away, has died. For instance, Oom Jan de Bruin is sorrowful because he has lost his wife with whom he so affectionately lived. This causes pain and sorrow. The text says that we should not cause that pain and sorrow to the Holy Spirit. That means that something dies within us, something that nurtured our relationship with Jesus, the Holy Spirit, the Triune God, has been harmed. We have offended and caused Him pain and distress through foul and abusive language, through bitterness or fits of rage and now He is now grieving. The one who holds your life, who comes to your aid, who corrects you and says, “My child, not like this; yes, like that- be friendly, go and help that person. We should not grieve Him and cause Him sorrow and pain. I cannot explain this fully. I am just touching the hem of the garment.
The Bible also say: Do not quench the Spirit. 1 Thess. 5:19 We quench our thirst when we have laboured for others or been in the hot sun, undertaken a long journey and tell those around you – if I can just quench my thirst. There is a driving force within you for water. Jesus said …blessed are those who thirst after righteousness, they shall be satisfied Matt 5:6. When you eventually get water you drink and drink and cannot get enough of it. Quenching means your thirst is gone. You thought you could drink 10 litres but after 1,5 litres your thirst is gone. You no longer need water. Even if you are offered more, you will decline and say you have had your fill.
How terrible if something quenches our thirst for these words, for the Spirit of God, our longing and cry to Him. How terrible! That is why it says, do not quench the Spirit of God because then you will not thirst anymore, you will be satisfied because something else has come in and the Holy Spirit has been quenched, He no longer operates. That Child is dead in you. Yes, you talk about Him, you can relate wonderful history, you impress and convince people through your history but has He been quenched? There is no longer a desire for the working of God. There is no crying out, “Oh God, my life needs to be under your control. I make mistakes. I sin but come to my aid, be my advocate, You alone can speak on my behalf. I cannot speak.” How terrible if the Spirit is quenched!
Let these words be worth gold to you. Let the Holy Spirit be worth gold to you. Long for Him. Cry for Him. Seek Him. Call Him to be at your side. May we be found in His yoke, shoulder against shoulder. Jesus says, For My yoke is easy and My burden is light Matt 11:29 – 30. He is with us in the yoke. He is next to me. My brother is next to me. The yoke is wide and we pull. He is in us, amongst us – He gives us strength and encourages us and comes to our aid. What a wonderful year this will be if you can enter in this yoke. We will embrace it because it is real, it is not a youthful notion.
These are words worthy to be written in gold. May God help, strengthen and bless us in His service, and be with you where you are. Let this Spirit be at your side, correcting and guiding you every step.
Conclusions Dietmar Joosten
Thank you. There are such great truths in these words. Remember how you listened to that Spirit, how you wanted to hear Him, how you revived your heart? When God blessed you with it, your soul was on fire for the Lord and He ignited your heart through His grace, are you still there?
If you have made mistakes in the past, may you grow and learn in this new year and may the fire burn much more. The sensitivity that you have – grow in it and build on it by God’s grace. He is the only one that can do it for you in your heart, you cannot. If God wants to work are you ready for it?
I love Rev Stegen’s words this morning …that the gospel will go out more. If the Holy Spirit burns in your heart. I think these are prophetic words. He also said, if you who don’t want to - go this way that we have heard this morning – then don’t. Do not fight him (Rev Stegen), show him that you can do better instead of fighting. You are hitting your head against a stone or diamond wall. If you want to serve the Lord then do what we heard this morning.
I want to end with these golden words: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. John 1:1
What power, friends, what power! What authority the word of God has! This Word, the spoken word, the word of Christ that conquered kingdoms, nations, is the same word today.
These days, the Chinese Communist Party said that if people want to celebrate Christmas, they must report that they want to do it. They think that their words have the ultimate power. But there is a greater power than any evil, social, communist power in this world and it is this word which you look down on, which you despise and disregard. This is the word which has the greatest power in the world.
12 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God…John 1:12
Children of God, there is power in that word. There is great strength in that word. God gave us power. You are a fake if that power is not in you. People raise their fists and shout “Amandla!” (power). They can trust in their own power but the children of God need this power, the word of God, which the Lord Jesus used to cast away the devil. This power has taught us to respect all authority and that is what we want to do. But we cannot compromise, and by God’s grace we will never compromise on this power which belongs to the eternal God and which He gives to His children.
That power and authority He has given it to His children. Where is it in your life? Why is it not there? Other things that have taken its place. A person must eat three times daily but he continues eating stolen things which is why the word does not grow within him. The reason this power is not seen in your life is because the golden word is not in you, because of these stolen things which you must throw out of your life. If the Holy Spirit convicts you of these stolen things in your life, He will help you.