Recognising God’s love and His will in my life

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Introduction Michael Ngubane

We welcome all who have joined us for this morning’s service, those who are present, as well as those listening via Radio Khwezi and the internet. We are grateful that you are with us today.

Testimony Nkosinathi MajiyaEnglish TranslationTraduction FrançaiseDeutsche Übersetzung

I grew up in Pietermaritzburg. I was troubled by drinking, smoking and drugs. I was involved in much evil. I was in jail for 15 years. I came here at the end of 2018. I received instruction and good food but my spiritual life was not in order. To my CYPSA brothers, a word of admonition: It is possible just to meet the minimum requirements to be able to register at CPSA. I came here and attended 5 services a day. Even if you think you have been helped, if you just allow tobacco back, it will recall all the past sins and you will end up in a helpless dilemma. It is different if you allow the word to work in your heart, take root and grow.

I returned this time with new determination to put my heart and soul into it and be rescued by God. I noticed a difference. I earnestly desired to see and meet Reverend Stegen. Yesterday he was with us and he prayed for us. I want to thank him and especially our Heavenly Father. It was as if the mist disappeared out of my life and fresh mountain air, like the Drakensberg air, filled my head. There was such an illumination as he prayed for me. I have been blessed in an indescribable manner. Thank you to all our counsellors for their devotion and care for our wellbeing. We can unburden ourselves and have ourselves renewed. Let us take it seriously and be earnest.

CYPSA Outreach Feedback Busi Radebe

If all Jesus’s works were written down there would not be enough books to contain it all. There would not be sufficient ink to record everything. We thank the Lord for having kept us in the Western Cape. We thank the Lord for the revival and His working. Thank you to Reverend Stegen, the co-workers and all who supported us through prayer.

We visited 112 schools in various places like Khayelitsha, Paarl, Franschoek, Mitchell’s Plain. Some areas are gang infested. One school, Samora Machel, was at the heart of all evil, where we brought the message after which we could help the very worst youngsters in the staff room.

One of the challenges for them is living in the one-roomed shacks where they see and hear awful things which a child cannot bear. When parents divorce and remarry, they are exposed to heart breaking things done to them by their new parents. Teachers have to help and teach these children who need spiritual care and who are physically hungry. We spent time with the teachers, who confessed to sexual relations with some of their learners. We could also challenge the churches and Christians as to their relationship with the Lord.

The challenge to the parents here and the church: hold onto that which you have. If the Lord is working in your life, cling to that. There is a great need. This is the only hope we have in our present world. Do what you can to ensure that this gospel goes out to others.

CYPSA Outreach Feedback Giel Schoombee

The Western Cape is caught up in a vicious circle of crime. We experienced it there. There is no respect for life. 43 murders took place on the weekend that we arrived. A young man and I witnessed police shooting and killing a gang member right in front of a school. The boys in the gang came from that school. These young people have no role models, there is no one who stands up for what is right. They are drawn into gangsterism which gives them a sense of security but forces them into crime.

It was an eye-opening experience. The need out there is huge. There are many people on their way to hell, who do not know right from wrong. May God allow the few seeds we could plant, to grow. It is His work, not ours. We saw more than 188 000 children.

Albu van Eeden

This is what the gospel is about. It is easy to come to church, read a portion, speak about the Bible and that is where it ends. The testimonies of how the Spirit of God is working makes the difference. How many churches preach from the Bible every Sunday, they have the right theology but the fruit – the conviction of sin and the need for forgiveness and cleansing in the blood of the Lord – is what it is all about?

And the child grew and was weaned. And Abraham made a great feast on the day that Isaac was weaned. But Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, whom she had borne to Abraham, laughing.[b] 10 So she said to Abraham, “Cast out this slave woman with her son, for the son of this slave woman shall not be heir with my son Isaac.” 11 And the thing was very displeasing to Abraham on account of his son. 12 But God said to Abraham, “Be not displeased because of the boy and because of your slave woman. Whatever Sarah says to you, do as she tells you, for through Isaac shall your offspring be named. 13 And I will make a nation of the son of the slave woman also, because he is your offspring.” 14 So Abraham rose early in the morning and took bread and a skin of water and gave it to Hagar, putting it on her shoulder, along with the child, and sent her away. And she departed and wandered in the wilderness of Beersheba.

15 When the water in the skin was gone, she put the child under one of the bushes. 16 Then she went and sat down opposite him a good way off, about the distance of a bowshot, for she said, “Let me not look on the death of the child.” And as she sat opposite him, she lifted up her voice and wept. 17 And God heard the voice of the boy, and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven and said to her, “What troubles you, Hagar? Fear not, for God has heard the voice of the boy where he is. 18 Up! Lift up the boy, and hold him fast with your hand, for I will make him into a great nation.” 19 Then God opened her eyes, and she saw a well of water. And she went and filled the skin with water and gave the boy a drink.20 And God was with the boy, and he grew up. He lived in the wilderness and became an expert with the bow. 21 He lived in the wilderness of Paran, and his mother took a wife for him from the land of Egypt. Genesis 21:8 – 21

Abraham was the father of the nation of Israel. He is also the father of all believers. He is a hero of the faith, a man we aim to follow. God promised Abraham and his wife, Sara, a child. But when Abraham was about 100 years old and Sara about 90 they still did not have a child. Then they decided that Abraham should take another wife, as they did in the Old Testament. He took Hagar, an Egyptian woman, as his second wife. (Paul says in the New Testament that a leader must be the husband of one wife but in the Old Testament they had more than one wife.) His second wife bore him a son, Ishmael. About 14 years later, God said, “Abraham, I said that I would give you a child. I have not changed my mind. Your wife, even though she is so old, will bear a son. The son of the promise.” Isaac was born.

Here is this family: Abraham, the man of God; his wife Sara; Ishmael, the son of Hagar (because they thought God’s promise would not come true) and Isaac, the son of the promise. When Isaac was weaned, Abraham held a celebration and Ishmael mocked Isaac. When Sara told Abraham to send Ishmael and Hagar away, Abraham was displeased on behalf of his son, Ishmael because he was also his son and he loved him. This woman and her boy wandered around in the desert. How can a woman and a boy survive in a desert? Humanly speaking, they were facing death. In the end, they had no water. Hagar could not stand the crying of the child so she put him under a shrub and walked away so that she would not hear him crying to death. Then an angel of the Lord appeared to her, opened her eyes and showed her a fountain. They had water and they managed to survive. The boy grew up and he became a good archer. From him all the Arab nations were born. From Isaac, the nation of Israel came into being.

The Bible reveals everything that is involved in following God. It shows the human side of what happened – how they suffered, you feel for them. It shows God’s side. It shows Abraham’s side. It shows Sara’s side, Hagar’s side and Ishmael’s side. When God commands you and me to follow Him, He knows what it is going to cost you and every aspect involved in following Him.

I would like to speak about recognising God’s love; recognising and discerning God’s will in my life. Many people follow God but they do not know his love or His will.

Ishmael was the cause of all the problems. He mocked Isaac. Friends, it is a serious sin in God’s eyes to mock a person. It is an even more serious sin to mock the man who is anointed by the Lord. God took this sin so seriously that he chased Ishmael and his mother out of Abraham’s house to die.

How did God regard this sin of mocking? 29 But just as at that time he who was born according to the flesh persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit, so also it is now. Galatians 4:29. God considered the mocking as persecution. Do not think that the fact that you or I may be sickly, weak or poor, gives us the right to sin against God. Two years ago, I think it was New Year’s Day, Reverend Stegen preached, and even repeated it a few times, that God never gives us the right to sin. Do not say I am poor; I have to steal because there is no other way to get food. I’m weak and sick that is why I can tell lies. A lie is a serious sin in God’s eyes.

Consider Ishmael. Ishmael could have felt that, in spite of him being the older son, Isaac was the anointed one and that was unfair. Be very careful of the human way of judging whether something is fair or unfair. Who am I? I’m just the son of an Egyptian woman. If you think in this manner, the devil will rob you of all the blessings you could receive. Ishmael was privileged, he was the son of Abraham and part of Abraham’s family. You and I are honoured to call ourselves spiritual children of Abraham. Ishmael was a physical child of Abraham and Abraham loved him. None of us here, unless you are a Jew, are really part of the anointed nation, we are all heathen nations. We do not sit back and say, “Oh no, I’m not part of Israel, I cannot listen to what he says.” No, we run to him, ask for forgiveness. We desire to become his child spiritually. How much more was Ishmael privileged. He was in the house with his father Abraham. Jealousy probably entered and robbed him of the blessing of the Lord. He was not sent away because he was the son of an Egyptian woman but because of his sin. He mocked Isaac. When Ishmael and his mother survived the desert and he became a great nation, it was not because he was treated unfairly by Abraham and Sara. No! The Lord said to Abraham, “Do not worry about the boy, I will make him a great nation as well. Why? Because he is your son, not because he was treated unfairly.” Maybe he went through life thinking: I have suffered, my father chased me out of the house but God was good to me and blessed me because I suffered innocently and that is why I became a great nation. But he lived in deception. This had nothing to do with his goodness. God blessed him because he was a descendant of Abraham.

Friends, if we cannot see our sins, we can live here, continue going to church and the Lord may do miracles for us but I am living in a dream if I think I have all this because God has mercy on me because I have suffered so much in my life. I have my own version, my own reason why things are happening in my life and it is not God’s reason.

This happened to some missionaries in the East African revival. The missionaries came to East Africa and there was revival. Professor Brian Stanley writes: “Missionaries who had for so long prayed for revival found, when it came, that Africans could after all live ‘really changed lives’…” and the change in the lives of the people of Uganda and those countries was so radical that the relationship where the missionary was the spiritually superior one, was turned on its head. They thought that they had brought the gospel, they were spiritually more mature but the Lord turned it on its head and they discovered that the people grabbed the message, allowed God to change their lives and in the end, they were running ahead and the missionaries were staying behind. When Reverend Stegen first began preaching, he said when God came, He began with the biggest sinner who was himself with his pride. Thank God his heart was soft enough to humble himself. He has continued to lead this work in this humility for all these years. I wonder whether those who thought they were bringing the gospel here realised that? I’m not sure whether all the whites realised that.

“Missionaries were disconcerted to find that Africans did not regard them as exempt from the need for revival.” They were fearless. They said that they had changed with the gospel. You must also change. “For the missionaries it was a humbling experience, and not all succeeded in coming to terms with it. The doctor through whom the revival started, Joe Church, said, “We were beginning to see that we had come as missionaries to bring the light, but every now and again that light was turned round to shine on us.” The East African Revival by Brian Stanley

Have you thought yourself superior, without a need to be changed by the revival? You are too smart to have your mistakes pointed out. It is too humbling. You cannot go all the way. The revival will spit you out and continue. God will continue walking His way with the congregation. Notice the difference between human love and God’s love. Human love says, “The poor boy, Ishmael. He is being chased away because his mother was an Egyptian and because he is not a child of the promise.” But it was because of his sin of mockery God chased him out of Abraham’s house into the desert with his mother where he nearly died. The politician says that God is on the side of the poor or a particular racial group. God says, “I am on the side of those who repent from their sins, who stop sleeping around, who stop gossiping.” How do we mock nowadays? By gossiping. If you gossip about someone, you mock him behind his back. God did not spare Ishmael, God did not say, “Sorry, it’s okay, I know you have had a difficult time.” Friends, God will not change His standard for your standard on Judgement day. Even though politicians may have said to you, “Don’t worry about your sins, look at the difficult upbringing you have had.” Even though social workers may say, “Oh, your dad was just a drunkard, your mom and dad were divorced, it’s not your fault,” God does not allow that. God does not give you the right not to be grateful for everything you receive here. He does not give you the right to strut around like a peacock, proud of your own goodness. One day he will use His measure and say, “You did not obey me. You sinned before me.”

How did Abraham experience this from a human point of view? Various translations use different words:  displeased; distressed in his heart; upset – he lost his peace, he was unhappy; grievously evil – it was an evil thing to do because they had decided that he would take Hagar as a wife and thereafter Ishmael was born. His heart was broken because he loved the boy. Friends, Abraham was not a man bound by legalism. He did not stick to the laws of God without feeling for others. Abraham did not serve a dead Lord who said this and that must be done and if you do not do it, out with you because we live by the law here.
People who accuse us of legalism have no idea what they are mocking and what they are talking about. In modern society the social workers would have removed his children and refused him a house. Although his whole heart cried with love for this boy, Ishmael, God said, “Abraham, do as Sara has said.” Live by faith, not by works, not by the law. You must take the step that hurts and makes you sick. You must take this step in faith, Abraham. Trust Me. I will keep them alive in the desert and I will make a great nation out of Ishmael one day. Why? Because Ishmael is actually such a wonderful boy and you did not appreciate how wonderful he was? Or because Ishmael was treated unfairly? No. I will bless him because he is also your son. Do you know how many Arab nations were born from Ishmael? Morocco, Egypt, Iraq and to some extent, Iran – all the Middle East nations are Arabs, because of God’s blessings.

God saw the pride and the jealousy in Ishmael’s heart. God devised a plan to expose his jealousy and nobody saw God’s plan coming. When God allowed Ishmael to mock Isaac, it was because God had seen his heart and God removed him because of the evil in his heart. There will be people who will say, “Hagar really loved her son. She stood by him when he was chased away and she was willing to go with him into the desert. Abraham did not deserve the title, father.” But Hagar actually hated her son because she took him out of the place where he would have received a blessing – Abraham’s house. She supported him in leaving because of her own jealousy, pride or whatever was in her heart. She dragged him out into the desert to die.

This is one of the main strategies of the devil. I am surprised that more people do not preach about it. The strategy of mockery. Mock a man until he strikes back then run to the father saying, “He’s beaten me.” The whole world sympathises with the one who gets punished by the father. One nation taunts another by shooting rockets into their country. The nation decides enough is enough. They drop one bomb on the taunting nation and then they run to the UN and say, “Look at what they are doing to us, they are terrible.”

This is what the devil does amongst us. They taunt. They do not follow God’s way. You bear with it and you bear with it. In the end when you obey God, they say you have no love.

Here is my last point. For Abraham to send Ishmael and Hagar out of the house, he had to walk by faith. He had to trust in His God. He had to trust that the Lord would care for the boy and his mother. He was not living under the law but by faith. Otherwise, friends, life would have looked very, very dark for him. There are certain things, if you want to follow the Lord, you must follow by faith otherwise things look so dark that you will give up hope. Following Christ is a life in faith. This is what the Reformation taught us. The Reformation taught us that we are saved by faith. Not the faith that allows you to live in sin, to drink, to sleep around and do what you like, but still believe you are saved. The life of faith makes me obey and live my life in that faith.

Friends, may the Lord be gracious to you and me. Do not allow the devil to make you despondent, give up and in the end you deserve hell. If you want to live this life know that you will be persecuted. The Bible says that everyone who wants to live a godly life will be persecuted.

“If a man is a soldier of the Cross, he can expect to be attacked sooner or later. The more courageously he declares the truth of God and the more accurately he exemplifies the truth in his own life, the more he will be subjected to assault. An old Puritan said, He that standeth near his Captain, is a sure target for the archers. He will be accused of wrongs he did not do. He will be savaged by gossip, slander and backbiting. He will be ostracized and ridiculed. This treatment will come from the world and, sadly enough, it may sometimes come from fellow-Christians. At such times, it is important to remember that the battle is not ours, but God’s. And we should claim the promise of Exodus 14:14: The Lord shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace. What this means is that we don’t have to defend ourselves or fight back. The Lord will vindicate us at the proper time.” William MacDonald

Friends, may God be merciful. I want to be a spiritual child of Abraham. I want to please my God, whatever it may cost me, even if I must die a thousand times to myself.