Summary of sermon by Erlo Stegen, 21 Sep 2014
“But seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you”
“But he who stands firm to the end will be saved”
“Be faithful even to the point of death and I will give you the crown of life”
The Jews had this tradition during engagement that the bridegroom’s family would go to the bride’s family. They would be set in front of the congregation and the two of them would drink from the same cup, first the man and then the bride to be, as a sign of the engagement.
The Lord Jesus spoke to the Jews of that which they understood clearly because they were familiar with it. In the Garden of Gethsemane He sweated drops of blood and prayed, “Father take this cup from Me yet not My will but Thy will be done”. So by drinking out of this cup the two of them were brought together as the sign of engagement. Thereafter they would go home, and the future bridegroom would start to build his house where they would live together. He built it till he had finished the house.
(It’s amazing that people, even school children, think of marriage while they don’t have a cent to their name.)
So he would first finish his house and even when the house is finished he still would not go to fetch his bride but would wait on his father to tell him to go and fetch his bride.
So the Lord Jesus in drinking of that cup was identifying Himself with us. He is thrice Holy, yet He got engaged to us. It was difficult. Remember you’re a liar, was immoral, do abominable things before God, yet He had to identify Himself with you and me. No wonder it made Him sweat!
You’re at school or just out of school and visit your girlfriend or boyfriend, and even touch each other. Even if you’re not exposed here on earth it will only bring a double curse on your life. You would be better off to sin in the world than at God’s place. How can you expect God’s blessing while you deliberately go against what God commands you? You can only expect God’s curse.
Joseph Stalin, who had been the leader of Russia, and killed millions of people and especially Christians. When he was on his death-bed, whenever someone came in to visit him, he simply pointed upwards and that’s how he died. He must have met up with hell even before he actually got there.
A certain only daughter of wealthy parents was spoilt and also lived in her extravagant way. She was also very cheeky. One day a preacher met her and asked her if she had made her life right with God. She answered that she hadn’t done it, and she also didn’t want to do it yet, for in three day’s it would be her 21st. The preacher told her not to postpone to make her life right with God, but to do it right away. She wasn’t interested. Immediately thereafter she became terribly sick and on her birthday she was in bed with a very high fever. She called for the preacher and told him that she knew that she was going to die. She asked him to take her funeral and write the following on her coffin, “Drie dae te laat vir Jesus” (“Three days too late for Jesus”). She asked him to cover the coffin until the coffin is lowered and then remove the covering and read it out for everyone to hear. When he did it, the family present were shocked to think that it was this girl who was so full of herself who was saying this.
The Bible says, “seek God while He may be found. Call upon Him while He is near” (Is 55:6).
A certain minister was very gifted, but when we got converted he went against us and even wrote a book against us. But he didn’t live long after that. His daugher was present at his deathbed. She came to the mission and shared with me what it was like; how his eyes spoke as if crying for help (for he couldn’t speak anymore) but she couldn’t help him.
When death comes, you cannot fool around anymore. Even your cheek will stop. You can play the fool with a man, but don’t try it with God.
The Bible doesn’t teach us to delay repentance but only speak of one thing, “today is the day of salvation. Today when you hear His voice don’t harden your heart” (Hebrews 3:15).
So our Bridegroom has gone to prepare a place. He doesn’t know the day His Father will tell Him to fetch His bride. Will He find you ready when His Father tells Him to fetch His bride? The Bible says He will come as a thief in the night. You do not know when a thief will come and so you don’t know when He would come. You must be prepared at all times.
What is God’s Kingdom? In Greek it’s the word Basileia.
A certain country had a king. The people wanted to pass a certain law which the king didn’t approve of. So they dethroned him, passed the law, and made him king again. And he accepted it! One would think that he would have been man enough to say that he won’t be their king under such circumstances.
Well, God is not like this and you cannot treat Him in this way. He is not someone of whom you can say, “You are our King, but allow us to do our own thing and then you can be King again.” You can make a fool of your husband and he could even accept it but God won’t.
Seek first God’s Kingdom. In the Greek when it says seek, it’s like there are many things before you and you have to choose between them, which is the most important. Maybe before you is your father, mother, brother, sister, maybe even a boyfriend, girlfriend or the things of the world. Now God says you must choose between His Kingdom and one of these things. Also to seek means to seek and to find. In other words you seek till you find it. If you haven’t found it yet you haven’t sought aright and you must seek still more until you find it. If you say you’ve sought it but didn’t find it, then you’re a liar. You haven’t sought as you ought. You must seek till you find it and then make it your own.
Seek Him and make Him God of your life that He makes the law in your life. He will even rule your feelings and emotions, that God is Lord even over them. That God will rule over everything. Not that He becomes your servant but that He becomes Lord over everything in your life.
Jesus said, “why do you call Me Lord Lord but do not do what I tell you?” (Luke 6:46).
Seek God’s will and when you’ve found it, cling to it and don’t let anything or anyone rob you of it. Seek to be ruled by God, Him alone. That He is the first and makes the laws in your life. That He becomes the lawgiver in your life. Is that the life that you live?
Also seek His righteousness, that which is right in God’s eyes.
So seek first God’s Kingdom and His righteousness. And seek it till you find it and cling to it.
Do you live this life daily, where you don’t live for yourself and do your own thing but do God’s will?
We find God’s laws in His Kingdom when we read Matthew 5 and 6. He says, “love your enemies” and “bless the one that curses you”, and “if someone does evil to you, you do good to him”. If you’re in God’s Kingdom that’s what you will be like. He says “blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God”. Go and read this sermon our Lord held and where He taught us how we should live to be of His Kingdom. He said “blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven”. What does it mean? It doesn’t mean that you should be empty in your spiritual life, that you have nothing. Remember the rich man that had such a bountiful harvest and decided to extend his barns to live a relaxed life. But God came to him and called him a fool for being rich in the things of this world but not rich towards God (Luke 12:13-21). Being poor in spirit means to have a humble spirit, then you will be something in the Kingdom of God.
What do you hunger and thirst for, that you long for more than anything else? What is it that is first in your life? The day will come that it will become evident for all to see what you’ve chosen.
In God’s Kingdom He says that if you look at a woman with lust in your eyes you’ve already committed adultery with her in your heart. In His Kingdom there’s no room for evil thoughts. He also commands us to love our enemies. There’s no place for a grudge in God’s Kingdom, where you harbour a grudge against someone for mistreating you.
Is it evident in your life that Jesus is more important to you than anything else? In God’s Kingdom you will go where God goes. He will lead you and you will know His will. You won’t have to go and ask for someone else’s opinion because you will know God’s will for you. If you come and ask me what God’s will is for your life, I will tell you that you should go and ask God for His will for you and then you do what He told you.
At Kingscliffe there was someone who went against the Gospel. He had six sons. Then he went and took another wife. I spoke to him about the Gospel, but his response was terrible; it was evident that he was full of the devil. But then a miracle happened; after awhile he repented. He came to me and told me that he had two wives. His first wife he married because his parents wanted the marriage, and he had six sons with her. After awhile he thought to himself that he didn’t want to spend his whole life with this woman that was arranged for him and he married a second wife whom he loved. He neglected his first wife and six sons. Even his sons hated him for it. So he asked for advice what he should do now that he had given his life to the Lord. I answered that He should ask God what to do, since he was now God’s child. I asked him awhile later what God told him. He said that firstly God pointed out to him that he sinned in neglecting his first wife and sons, and that the sons eventually had to take care of his first wife. He had to go to her and ask for forgiveness. God had shown him that he had to live right, as a testimony to everyone that it’s clear that he repented. And when he sends money that he had earned then he would send it to the first, older wife, and she should then divide the money between the two of them. And even his time he should divide evenly between the two of them. I answered him that if that’s what God had told him then he should do exactly that. The whole area where he was from was amazed saying is such a thing possible, that you end up loving the one you didn’t love at all and that you’re fair to each one. Many others found the Lord through the testimony of this man. Not long after that the second wife fell ill and died. At that time she had two small children. He then went to his first wife and asked her if she would be willing to look after the two children of his second wife and she gladly agreed. Even the sons accepted them and treated them as their sisters. There’s nothing like doing God’s will, where you say, not my will but Thy will be done.
As we returned with the aeroplane from Virginia there was a blanket of clouds so that we could not discern the terrain. All that the pilot had was his instruments and he had to stick to his instruments and they brought us safely to our destination. We have God’s instruments, the Bible, and if you stick to it, it will bring you safely to your heavenly destination.