Staying close to the Lord

Video Service:
View on live streaming in English/Zulu

Audio Service:
Listen in English/Zulu
Listen in French – Traduction Française
Listen in German – Deutsche Übersetzung

Testimony of JJ Martins of CYPSA
Listen in English/Zulu
Listen in French – Traduction Française
Listen in German – Deutsche Übersetzung


Introduction Blessing Sincuba

We welcome everyone to this morning’s service.

Last Sunday a prayer request was made for CYPSA outreaches to schools, please continue praying as there are outreaches in in the Greytown area this week. It is wonderful to experience God’s work moving forward.

Testimony of JJ Martins of CYPSA

Good morning. I thank the Lord for this opportunity. I come from a Muslim background. I come from Cape Town. My father is a Muslim and my mother, non-Muslim. They were never married. I grew up with my grandmother who was my everything – she was like my mother, my father, my backbone. When I started school hatred entered my heart. I never liked church or mosque. I hated my parents. I wanted to kill my mother and I threatened to do so. I respected my father because of the person he was but I hated him. I never loved anyone. The only person I loved was my grandmother. At 16 I was introduced to heroin. This was the second thing I loved but it killed me inside. When I smoked it I felt no emotions. I attended a private school and had a nice life but I still smoked. My family eventually had had enough of me and I went to a rehab. I was put on medication but nothing helped me. I ended up on the streets. Gangsters are everywhere and if you are not a gang member you will be robbed and hurt. This hardened me even more. My grandmother died and I no longer cared about anything. I had ‘magic fingers’. I was very sly. I started shoplifting to support my drug habit because that was the only thing that could deaden my emotions. I did not want to become a gangster because I hated gangsters. I have a beautiful smile and this was my mask when I mixed with people, but inside my head I killed everyone. Eventually I could no longer steal and I had nowhere to go so I sold myself on the streets. This was the worst thing that happened to me. It filled me with more hatred towards everyone who came to me.

One day I went home to ask for a bit of bread. My grandfather said that he would never give me any. There was a small church in the area where CYPSA had an outreach and he said that if I wanted help I should go to that church. I could not trust church people because, to me, they were thieves who hid behind their Bibles and jackets. I decided to give it a try.

I ended up at KSB Moreson branch and when I arrived my mind was still confused. I felt that there was something very wrong there because people of all races lived happily together. I waited for the catch. I met a white man whom I regarded as my own father – Oom (uncle) George Osche. I studied his life and thought that there must be something wrong, this man was putting on a show. After a Sunday service I confessed my sin. Oom George’s life brought me closer to the Lord. After that I came to KSB mission. I thank the Lord that he still had His hand on me. There was still something that was keeping me back. I never knew it was such a powerful enemy. The bloodline of my father is Muslim. There was a curse on me. One day I went to my counsellor and said that I needed to phone my father and tell him that I was saved by Jesus. That was very tough for me. I could not tell him that I was a child of God. But one day I could phone my father and apologise to him. I told him I was serving God now and he was okay with that. I added that I was serving Jesus and he kept quiet for a while and then he said, “Jesus?” I said, “Yes, Dad, Jesus. If you have any questions please contact my counsellor.” He never phoned me again.

I thank God for His grace and mercy on my life. If it were not for the Lord Jesus Christ, I would not be standing here. I would still have had this hard rock inside of me. Something that I discovered while I was here is that I have to stay close to the Lord. It is something I have to do for the rest of my life.

I would to thank Reverend Stegen, Ms Dube and Ms Hadebe as well as my counsellors. Thank you very much for playing a great role in my life because I need this. If it was not for CYPSA, we would not be here. I close with a verse from Ezekiel: 11“‘For this is what the Sovereign Lord says: I myself will search for my sheep and look after them. Ezekiel 34:11.

Dr Albu van Eeden

The theme for today’s message is following the Lord closely, step by step and hearing the voice of the Holy Spirit. JJ testified that he must remain close to the Lord because of his background of sin but all of us need to stay close to the Lord to hear His voice.

Paul says …work out your own salvation with fear and trembling… Philippians 2:12. Whether you had a dramatic conversion, whether you have been a Christian in church or have a position in the church …work out your own salvation with fear and trembling… Brother and sister, are you still working out your own salvation in fear and trembling or have you become used to being part of God’s church? If so, you are guaranteed to fall. There were many people here whom the Lord used in mighty ways but they relaxed and began listening to all kinds of voices which confused them. They are no longer with us. Friends, we do not hate sinners. It is not that we do not have a passion for sinners to come to Christ; it is not that we do not feel the love of Christ for sinners; it is not that we do not want to patiently wait for each sinner to come to repentance, but this is not a place where it is comfortable for a sinner to sit day after day in a lukewarm state. There is no room here for a lukewarm sinner to stay and demand all kinds of rights, love and compassion but who does not move away from the sin he is sitting in.

The spirit of rebellion began in heaven. The Bible says that the moment God found it in the heart of Satan, he was cast out of heaven like lightning. Instantly. God did not say, “Listen, I will sit with you in your rebellion and hatred for me, and I will have patience with you, Satan. You can stay for while in heaven with your rebellion.” No! The moment God found the unrighteousness, pride and rebellion in Satan, he was cast out of heaven. Instantly. This is what this place should be like. There is no room for anyone who wants to spend his life in a comfortable, lukewarm state. The Lord Jesus also spoke about this and He said to one congregation that because they were neither hot nor cold, He would spit them out of His mouth. What will stop you and me from falling into a lukewarm state? What will help us hear the voice of the Holy Spirit? Turning our backs on a life of sin, no matter how extreme it may have been. Heaven is a place where sinners go after they have been saved. God can save you.

Our text for today is from Jeremiah:

11“Moab has been at ease from his youth and has settled on his dregs; he has not been emptied from vessel to vessel, nor has he gone into exile; so his taste remains in him, and his scent is not changed. Jeremiah 48:11

11Moab has been at ease from his youth, and he has settled on his lees [like wine] and has not been drawn off from one vessel to another, neither has he gone into exile. Therefore his taste remains in him, and his scent has not changed. Jeremiah 48:11 (AMP)

This is the aim of God in our lives: our taste must change. When He tastes our life, it must be altered. Our scent must change. When we get to know the Lord and confess our sins for the first time, we receive forgiveness, but this must continue happening every day for every Christian. Our scent must change.

This example used by Jeremiah comes from the method they used in Old Testament times to make wine. When they had harvested the grapes, they would press them in order to squeeze out the juice. This grape juice, together with the skins, was stored in huge stone pots for months. This first step gave an individual quality to the wine. (God does not want to change who you are. He does not want you to become like other people. He has created you in a specific way for a specific purpose. The fact that you are you brings joy to God.) The grape skins settled on the bottom of the pot after a few months and then the wine was poured off, leaving the skins behind. If the skins remained in the juice for too long, they would make the wine sour. The wine was left again for a few months to allow the finer particles to settle to the bottom. The wine was poured off again, leaving the particles behind. The wine was left again for a few more months and even smaller particles settled on the bottom. This took much longer because the particles were so much smaller. The wine would be poured off again and the particles left behind. The wine had to be absolutely crystal clear of any particles.

In this text, God speaks to Moab and says that this has never happened to you (Moab). You have remained as comfortable as you always were. You have never been ‘poured over’. What happens if we are ‘poured over’? God puts us into circumstances which are unpleasant – a new pot, different conditions – through things He touches on in our lives that must remain behind. Each time He ‘pours it over’ the taste and smell of the wine improves until it is perfect, the way He wants it. God uses various trials to do this in our lives. It could be something radical that happens to you, for example when JJ’s grandmother passed away – the only one he loved and trusted, the only one who was good to him and who cared for him. God took his grandmother away. Why? God ‘poured him over’ into a new pot. When God does this, friends, it does not make sense to us. We cannot see any reason why God allows this. He removes everything that we trusted in or depended on. He removes everything we thought made life worthwhile, the very thing that we thought gave meaning to life. For JJ it seemed as if God pulled the carpet out from under his feet. God can do that.

The image God uses in this text is one of a pot. He poured everything out into a new pot. Everything changes and now one has to learn everything again from the beginning. Are we allowing God to change us like this? There are times when He does not do something major, it may just be something small, He speaks through, and if I hear the voice of the Holy Spirit I will allow Him to do the work. If I do not allow this to happen the I in me will remain alive. My humility will not be completely pure. When God smells my humility there may be an element of pride in it – I think I am something because I am so humble. God does not like the smell of the pride in your humility, dear friend, when there is something of yourself that stains and influences the good you do. You may regard yourself as a good, patient person and God says that it is good that you are trying to be patient but your patience is not entirely free from the I – the ego, the self. If we do not allow God to do that, friends, things will initially stay the same and later all kinds of sins and carnality will begin creeping back into our lives. Slowly but surely I will make it more comfortable for myself. Slowly but surely I will want a certain amount of respect from others. Friends, every day we live is a day in which we should walk in fear and trembling. I know what it means to take a step which I did not ensure was from the Lord and I suffered dearly for it. You can say, “Lord, it was not a major thing I did wrong.” The Lord says, “Yes, but it was not completely right either and I want to change and purify that.”

A Biblical example of this is Esau. He grew up in a house where his parents, Isaac and Rebekah, were believers. Esau was the first born and he had the anointing on him. One day he would receive the blessing from his father, however, slowly but surely Esau began taking that position for granted, it was no longer all that important. One day when he returned from hunting, he was tired and thirsty and he wanted food. I am sure there must have been food in the house. Surely he could have got something from his mother. In a moment of carelessness, he spoke and through his words, no other actions, he lost that blessing once and for all. He entered the house and said to his brother, Jacob, “Give me something to drink. Jacob had a pot of lentil soup. What is lentil soup? Nothing special. For a moment he spoke rashly. Jacob said, “I will give you the soup but give me your birth right.” His response was, “Fine. Take it. What does my birth right mean to me if I am hungry? Give me food.” I do not believe it was the first and only time he was so careless. He had probably developed an attitude of carelessness and through the words of one sentence, he lost his birth right forever.

Dear Christian, do you realise what a fine line we are walking? Do you realise what I say when we must work out our salvation with fear and trembling? Through our words we can damage and destroy our blessing. Be very careful what you say, in certain times to certain people, in a moment of confidentiality. There is a God in heaven who hears the words that you speak there. You may be a person who tells jokes but if you are not careful you can lose the blessing God wants to give you.

We know that Esau had already become careless. It was a point of concern for his parents because he loved foreign women who served idols. He made this mistake and in the end Jacob received his blessing. What was the result? Jacob, his brother, turned into his enemy. Esau hated Jacob. Where did it start? From careless words that he spoke. You know the rest of the story. When it was time for Isaac to give the final blessing to his sons, Esau was out hunting, taking care of his own desires. Be careful friends if you ride out and do your own thing. It does not need to be wrong. It does not need to be sin – hunting is not a sin – but it was his own business. When things were happening in the heavenly realm, Esau did not realise it. It was the moment and the time for God to give the blessing. Rebekah had seen Esau’s life and she realised that he was not going to serve the God of Abraham and Isaac, her husband, and herself. She slaughtered the goat and tied the skins around Jacob’s arms because Esau was a hairy man and Jacob was not. She had to help Jacob appear hairy. She prepared special food for Isaac. Jacob brought the food. Isaac ate the food and he decided that this was the time for the blessing. He asked, “Is this Esau? Am I speaking to him? Come here Esau, let me feel you.” He touched him and thought it was Esau. The Jews have another version of this incident. They say that both Jacob and Rebekah realised that Esau had gone off the tracks and Isaac played along – he did not necessarily discuss it with Rebekah. Some people say that surely he would have felt the difference between a man’s skin and the skin of a goat. Jacob received the blessing and God honoured that. He gave Jacob the blessing. God says later in the Bible, “Jacob I loved but Esau I hated.” Romans 9:13 Where did it all start? With the careless words that Esau spoke. Although Rebekah planned this event, God allowed it and He blessed what she did.

Friends, be extremely careful. Christian young man, be careful if you want to get married that there are not some of the old grape skins left in your life. That you do not select a partner when you want and who you want. That is a time when you must be in fear and trembling because if something of the self, the I is in that, you marry the wrong person – not the person that God wants. You will believe that God spoke to you and He gave you a feeling for a particular girl. There are some old grape skins left in your wine. If we do not allow God to change us daily, then slowly but surely, we will expect God to change into what we want. I will not move into God’s world and accept His will but I will have my world and expect God to be in my will.

Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden is another example. They lived in paradise, heaven, God’s world – a blessed place. They did not have to work. They did not have to do anything. God took care of them but then Eve came with her ideas. When the devil spoke to Eve she began thinking that God was like her. This is what will happen to you. If you do not change, you will expect God to change and be like you. You will be in tune with yourself and you will expect God to be in tune with you. So, in Eve’s world, God was jealous. He was afraid Adam and Eve would become just as clever as He was – in heaven, in the Garden of Eden!

Friend, if God does not change you and change the way you think, you will be in heaven and drag the most filthy sins there. You will meet girls and men and experience ‘electricity’ in the air and you will develop a certain liking for a person – the way they look and their character – you just click. This is where adultery starts. It is not usually just lust but an emotional attraction to the person which you regard as normal. “Every man is like that,” you say, “it is normal for women to be attracted to men.” No, it is not normal, it is your world. It is your old schemes, the grape skins that you must remove from your heart. Even though the whole world says it is normal, God says it is wrong – there should be no attraction. It is unacceptable to God. What is the result of this attitude? Slowly but surely we have accepted greater and greater evil into our communities and we think it is normal. Even Christians accept sex education which plants the seeds of immorality into the minds of our school children.

Statistics have shown there are approximately 200 billion porn sites available on the internet. There is so much porn that the whole world cannot use all the porn that is available on the internet. The sites will teach you the sickest form of sin, sex and perversion. You will find that you can continue being a Christian while watching this. “It is normal,” you say, “there is nothing wrong with it.”

Another young man who was not willing to be changed by God was the prodigal son. The Jews also have a parable of the prodigal son. Allow me to read it:

“A parable about a prince who sinned.” In the end he had to break with his father’s kingdom, palace and house. Just like the prodigal son in the Bible he went from one sin to another, living an immoral, dirty life.

‘And his father expelled him from his house. And he went erring about, aimlessly, in the company of cardplayers and drunkards. And all the time he sank lower and lower. Finally he joined a group of peasant villagers. Of their bread he ate and at their work he worked.’

They were poor people who had small fields and who lived on the little bit of food they planted. He ate their bread and worked with them. He didn’t just work with them, he also ate their bread. Be careful with whom you eat your bread, figuratively, spiritually. ‘One day the king sent one of his lords to search for his son, for perhaps he had improved his ways and was worthy of being returned to his father’s house. The lord found him ploughing in the field. And he asked him: ‘Do you recognise me?’ ‘Yes,’ answered the prince. And the lord said: ‘And what is your request of your father the king? I shall tell him.’ The prince answered, ‘How good would it be if my father took pity on me and sent me a garment like those the peasants wear, and also heavy shoes which are suitable for a villager.’ Do you feel the sting in those words? Do you hear the stubbornness? Do you hear the grudge? He is sarcastic. He says, if my father would have pity on me and send me clothes to work here. How did the lord react? ‘O, you fool, you fool,’ cried the lord, ‘it would have been better for you to ask of your father that he should take you back to his house and his palace. Is, perchance, anything lacking in the house of the king?’ Source: Jewish New Testament Commentary, David H. Stern

Why did he not want it? In spite of the suffering he experienced, there were some grapes skins that had stayed behind and that he had never been set free of. There was an element of pride that remained. He did not have a broken heart. He still had his thick skin and his stubbornness. May God be merciful to us. If something of the self stays behind in our lives, it will destroy us. It will take the blessing away from us. It will chase us from the Garden of Eden and it will keep us from going back to our heavenly father where we can receive forgiveness of our sins.

If you come to Christ, come with all your heart, come with a broken heart. He will not chase you away. If you have been a Christian for some years, even if you have been staying on the mission, be very, very careful that something of the pride of this prodigal son, has not taken root in your heart. You work and walk amongst us but there is this pride, stubbornness, and grudges that you carry with you. You think it is alright. Esau also thought so. He was still in his father’s house, but it was not alright. God suddenly came on a day he did not expect and he missed the blessing and Jacob, his brother, became his enemy.

I pray that God would grant us soft hearts. My prayer from day to day is, “Lord, teach me. Remove what you want to remove out of my life. Give me the grace to always be willing to humble myself so that I do not turn out to be one who enters through the window and not through the door, as the Lord Jesus said that the shepherd entered through the window and not through the door. May God be merciful to us.

Conclusion Blessing Sincuba

The Lord has spoken to us and touched our hearts. The Lord spoke these words many years ago for us to learn from. He speaks so that we will be a people purified and cleansed for His glory and purpose. If the Lord wants to ‘pour us out’ from one pot to the next, we should be willing. Today is the day of grace and mercy. We can still change and mend our ways. The door has not yet been closed. This an opportunity to draw close to the Lord.

The KwaSizabantu Choir