Be faithful to the end

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Introduction Albu van Eeden

Good morning to those seated and to those who have tuned in. This day has arrived at last – the Day of the Lord – of which John wrote in the Book of Revelations. The early Christians gathered on this day after the crucifixion of the Lord to meet and remember the resurrection of the Lord and fellowship. They were so desperate for encouragement and fellowship that they met in catacombs. They were persecuted by the Roman government and could not meet freely. After a week of persecution and trials, they were eager to be encouraged - even if it meant meeting in catacombs. So, brethren, I trust that you have been looking forward to this day through the course of the week and that it is once again a wonderful opportunity to experience and celebrate the day of the Lord.

Physical (not virtual) Youth Conference dates: 10 - 16 December.

Ntokozo Nhlabathi
I greet you in the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ. We thank the Lord that He has enabled us to meet today. This pulpit belongs to Rev Stegen and it is not a place for a child, but once God’s finger has pointed at you, as someone said, you have no right to refuse to obey. I pray that God will be merciful to me.

These past few weeks I had the privilege of going together with a team to Mozambique twice. After the first visit my heart was already so full, but then I soon went again and once again I was greatly blessed and challenged. Allow me to take you with me (in your imagination) to Mozambique. At Zavorra, I was amazed to see young people who have surrendered themselves to serve God. What amazed me was to see children who were born and grew up in the revival, now trained in medicine, and coming back to work for the Lord. Do not misunderstand me – do not think I am saying you must study and then come back to the Lord’s work. Do not do that unless God has called you. I watched the way in which they served. They did not give in to self-pity. They poured themselves into everything they did - wholeheartedly.

The family there did not say now I need time with my family. No, they said where God has put me, I want to be faithful. (I am not saying do not spend time with your family.) They were absolutely selfless in their service and devotion for God.

I was touched by the children of that family. When I thought of us who have children – to what extent do our children share in our ministry? Their children, as small as they were, didn’t care about being amongst people of a different language. They didn’t expect better treatment than anyone else. They were outside, mixing with the other children, adopting themselves to the culture of the people they were with.

Once we were in a service, the children were not a nuisance, wriggling on the mother’s lap, pulling at the dad’s coat – no they had prepared themselves for the service, sat down and listened quietly to the service. And they sat on a grass mat like anyone else.  The doctor too demonstrated humility, regardless of her position as doctor. She sat on the floor like everyone else. Their actions demonstrated that their faith was genuine – it was not fake.

I was challenged and wondered whether, in our calling, we may be found to be of such a calibre. I can say so much, but I was truly blessed.

There were crowds of people at the clinic, listening to God’s word. The nation is in a terrible state – one finds young girls with more than one baby waiting at the clinic, there is so much immorality. But these are amazing people, who, like sponges – drink in the word of God. There were no complaints from them and so many were helped not only in body, but also in their souls.

And to see the work of God – it is a small clinic, yet people travel past big hospitals from far away and come and say, we would rather come to this clinic. Not that the preaching in the morning devotions chases them away – on the contrary, they want to come because of the devotions they hear in the morning there.

People come, many of them have been helped through the outstretched hand of DFL – received sight through the cataract surgery – and now they ask what they can do for the Lord who has done so much for them. It was wonderful to stay in this place.

This is just part of what has filled my heart.

The second trip into Mozambique was for the funeral of our brother, Carlos. This brings me to the theme of today’s message: be faithful to the end.

I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked people, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not and have found them false. You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name and have not grown weary.

10 Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days. Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you life as your victor’s crown. Revelations 2:2,10

Carlos came for help to the mission many years ago and he received help at KwaSizabantu. Thereafter he stayed here until 2000. He then returned to his home country to start a work of God because he felt a calling. He remained faithful to the end.

From the Isle of Patmos, the apostle John wrote a letter to the congregation in Ephesus. I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked people, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not and have found them false. Revelations 2:2

It breaks my heart to think of how many people receive the grace of God, say they have repented, but when they meet up with storms, they fail to withstand the storms? They sat on these pews like some of us, they preached from the pulpit and testified as followers of Jesus, but they failed to persevere to the very end. The trials that they were exposed to showed them up as false followers of Christ. Some tests they experienced were to strengthen their faith, but it seems their faith was not grounded on Jesus, and they failed.

Our brother Carlos was in Mozambique alone. He worked and preached alone. There was no one on whom he could depend, however, it was his faith and the Jesus to whom He’d committed himself that caused him to remain faithful in those circumstances. He did not turn back and say, “When I returned to my home country, I was unable to do what I wanted to, things did not work out and I’m giving up on these people. People should understand that I’m having a hard time.” No, he persevered. God used him in his country. People from near and far repented. Trials also came his way, but they did not take him away from the One in whom He trusted.

Two weeks before Carlos passed away, he told us something - that some people who had started on this way but who found the way too narrow, failed and went off on their own roads phoned him and said, “KSB has gone wrong. You’re in your own country, so just take over the Mozambique mission for yourself.” He said that they were people who had started walking the way but found it too narrow and started other roads. He said they were people who had failed and gone their own way, even while they were at the mission and were still preaching. They told him “Leave it!” They were people here in SA, preaching, acting as though they are one with the work, but finding it too narrow and thus trying to win others to join them on their road. How many are sitting here today, who make as though they are on the road but are finding this road too narrow and start other roads? This way is constricting them, it’s too narrow, and they are unwilling to show their true colours.

Carlos said I’m so happy to be able to pour out my heart and tell you about the different people who have phoned me, even while I was sick in hospital, asking why I still associate with KSB. Carlos said only one thing helped him and that was that he knew he had not been called by KSB, but it was God who called him and because of that he would not leave the place where God had put him. He said, “Rev Stegen took me out of the life of sin and mud, and he made me a man – that’s what I know of him.

Many people start off on this way, but in time the road becomes too narrow, and they end up failing. The problem is, however, that many who desert the faith do not want to do it alone, they want to drag others along with them. And when the sourness and bitterness begin in the person’s heart, he looks for someone with whom he can share his discontentment and share how he has been mistreated. When he meets up with tests which are there to sift and purify him and strengthen his faith, he doesn’t want to submit, instead he says who is he to tell me what to do. The sourness and bitterness grow and so he goes and plants this bitterness in others.

John said to the church, Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days. Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you life as your victor’s crown.

How many have not started on this road and half-way through have said, “It doesn’t work,” when we meet up with trials and tests. I say this way is not suitable for me, it is useless. I do not receive any help from it. I am leaving it. How many have started but found the way unsuitable and started their own way, next to the right way? Some of them were leaders but things changed in their lives, and it was clear that they had abandoned their former way of life.

At the funeral of Carlos, when the MC asked the congregation what Carlos’s life was like, as one they testified that Carlos lived for the Lord, he was upright and he stuck to God’s word.

Here is a man, in a country far away, but what he had learnt here kept him until his death and he stood for God. This is a challenge for us. You are at school or in matric, you are at university, yet you cannot stand for God, you fail. When some of his prior leaders who had taught him said to him that he was going off the track, he stuck to the truth and God’s word until the end. One person at the funeral stood up and said, “This young man came here and taught us that a young man can live a pure life and serve God without compromise. The lives we live now are because of his example.” How amazing isn’t it to see a man like this who has remained faithful to God to the end.

Brother, are you still faithful? The youth choir sang in front of the congregation this morning, were you all faithful? As a team are you still on fire for God? Are you open for someone to approach you and say, “You were wrong here or there?” Do you bow or, just as a formality, you say you are sorry? If a brother comes to shake you up, do accept it and thank him?

As a congregation, are we faithful to Christ to the end? Do we follow Christ as a one body? Are we one in Christ and with each other? When we met with the gospel, as young converts we were on fire and we desired help because we were aware that we didn’t always know the way. We desired correction in order to get closer to God. I honoured it if I was helped and wished they would share more so that I could progress. But today, I am untouchable. I am touchy. I am great in my own eyes. If a person wants to approach you, they must carefully consider how to do it without offending you.

Carlos was in a foreign country, but he did not relax and do whatever he wanted, just because he was not being watched. He was committed, whether people checked on him or not. He stayed faithful where he was, he did not want to bring shame on God’s people. When somebody offered to bring him money, he first found out whether the donation had been approved at KSB in South Africa. He did not just accept anything. Their response would sometimes be, “No, brother, forget about the head office, we are Christians and we care for you. No, brother, we’ll come and do everything for you as long as you part with your head office. Why are you so obsessed with head office?” Carlos stopped them, “Stop right there,” he said, “I’m not interested.”

Carlos continued to build his faith on the foundation that had been laid at KwaSizabantu. He knew where he stood and was unashamed to make a stand. Carlos cleansed his own life. He was not confused or busy with the sins of others. While he was in hospital in his weak state, he never got mixed up with other people’s mistakes.

Carlos said Christians should not expect to be treated with kid gloves. We must stand by our convictions. It is grace that we can follow the Lord, grace which we don’t deserve. Do not become upset about issues and busy yourself. You say, “I am never phoned and encouraged.” It is by grace that we are saved. When COVID came it knocked you flat. You felt you were not being cared for or helped or treated properly. You feel left out and become touchy. Don’t you know that it is grace and grace alone that we are on the way. This should affect our walk with the Lord. You must stand by your convictions. Do not expect special treatment. Whether pleasant or unpleasant, we must stay faithful to the Lord right up till the end. The storms will come. The trials will come. The Bible speaks about it. It will hit families and they will be torn apart. Will you be faithful or will you say that because my parents do not go the way of the Lord anymore, I will go along with them?

The storms of News24 will come again. Will you leave with those who leave? Is your conversion a true conversion? Do you go along with those who are one with Christ, or those who separate from Him?  Who did you meet with? God himself or just the people who met with God.

Carlos felt the storm of News24. Some people phoned him and told him about the News24 matter. He said what kept me was that I met with God personally. I could feel in my spirit that there was a battle and I phoned KSB. They advised him to pray and ask from God what he should do. He said, “No one told me what to do.”

Do you have a cardboard faith? Satan will put some of you in prison …I tell you the devil will put some of you in prison to test you… What effect will that have, will it separate or bring greater unity? The storms will hit your children. Will you say, “I cannot part with them because they support me financially?” Do you serve God because your children are supporting you or because your faith is in God? The devil will throw his curry powder into things to confuse you. Your children will arrive home dressed in differently. You may speak to your child and the child may complain, “Mom, look at the others. Where do you get your ideas from?” Will you heed what others say and lower your standard? The devil’s curry powder in your eyes will confuse you.

Are people drawn to you and built up because you still follow God? Do you still stand firm in God, or do they find you confused and rubbing your eyes spiritually because of what the devil has thrown in your eyes? God has called us to be faithful to the end. You listen to people who say that things in South Africa get done differently to how it’s done in Europe and vice versa.

Some quote Bible verses saying that Jesus says one should be patient and show love. You will be led into confusion where you will wander around in a lost state. “Jesus won the people through His love…” you say. No, Jesus did not confuse godly and worldly love! “We are winning the youth in our church…” In reality, the youth is confusing you. “Why must KSB be so strict regarding relationships? Why do they oppose them? Is it really necessary?” We will never change what God has taught us. If you want to follow ways which the Lord Jesus has not taught, then go into the bush and get lost there.

John warned this congregation that Satan would throw some of them into prison and they would be exposed to trials and temptations, but he encouraged them to stay faithful through it all.

During the COVID pandemic, many started on their own road – the broad road - because they say this road is too narrow. Which way are we determined to walk on, the narrow way or our own way?

Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you life as your victor’s crown. You should not be faithful because of the employment you can get or the person you can marry. You should be faithful right up to death.

Conclusion Dietmar Joosten

We thank the Lord for His word. Have we really met the Lord? It is one thing to hear about the Lord but another thing to meet the Lord and experience Him working in your life. When you really know the Lord personally, no one will be able to confuse you.

Young people, have you really met the Lord? Are you convinced? Is it clear to others that you are convinced? Do you know the Lord Jesus? Have you gone onto your knees and pleaded with Him?

When I came to the mission as a young boy, we did not just attend services and confess our sins, but we knelt and pleaded with the Lord for grace. It is only grace, but grace comes from Him. When you clean the pipe, the water will flow. The flow will not be forced, it will simply flow. You must stay close to Him. Yes, the Lord will help you but clean that pipe. Get the frogs out of the pipe. Why do you want them in there?

Tests and trials are difficult but when you look back you realise that you would never be where you are if it were not for those tests and trials. Some fail the tests, however, for those who are serious, the tests are steppingstones to higher ground. How do you recognise that a person is reaching higher ground? There is joy in his heart and on his face. He is not downcast. Tests and difficulties test your faith. They purify you and make you grow in His grace.

Carlos said that he knew the God he had learned to understand and that he would not be separated from the source.

May we be faithful. Be faithful in the small things, spiritually first. If you are faithful there, when you are tested with greater things, you will be able to remain faithful.

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