We greet everybody this morning in the wonderful name of our Lord Jesus Christ - and I mean it.
We thank the Lord for His grace and mercy. It is wonderful to experience God working and touching people’s lives, even at work. God’s word is preached, even for 5 minutes at work, and it affects people. God has revealed hidden sins which would never have been exposed through human effort. People had immoral friendships that God brought to light. I thank the Lord because we do not only work but we reach out to people.
God has opened the doors at Maqhogo to preach to the workers once a month. A mother there said that she had not seen her husband for a long time and that he no longer sent money home. She asked for prayer - that God would touch the heart. God’s servant prayed with the worker and within a short time her prayer was answered. This is what God wants to do for us. God wants to work. We must have ears to hear and eyes to see what He wants from us.
Rev Stegen visited Franschhoek recently and what a wonderful time we had with him there. We wanted to hear from him what he wanted to plant in the area that has been cleared of vines. It is wonderful if we can accompany a parent who is a leader, and understand what he expects of us. Do you know what it does to your heart if you see someone happy? Do you understand what it means to make a parent happy? I hope you do it. How many of us can make our parents happy because of what we do for them? When last did you bring joy to your parents? Do only tears flow down their cheeks? God holds a cup and catches every tear that is shed. Rev Stegen told us what should be done and planted. I hope the people have not wasted any time about getting started with the project. Since I was a child, my heart has been stirred by our leaders. “What would we children be without them?” We want to esteem that which God has given us.
Years ago, there was a small cattle kraal where the cows were milked by hand. Later, the cows were milked using a small machine. Over time God started a dairy which was the first project of the work. For many years it struggled, but by God’s grace they have turned a corner and are out of the ditch. The time spent has been a spiritual journey. One of the things I have learnt is: where there is order (I do not say it was disorderly) and discipline, God works. When you take things seriously and take your spiritual life seriously, God works. God intervenes and does something. A car cannot travel if the wheels are shaking, the people inside will be shaken, but if you tighten the bolts of your life, discipline yourself, take yourself by the scruff of your neck, things will change in your life, by God’s grace. The Bible says that we should be faithful in the little that God has given. Do not despise the little things.
This morning I will read a parable which has touched me and worked in my life. My innermost desire is that you will return home and read it yourself. God will reveal so many more things to you than what I can speak about today.
31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. 34 Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ 40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’ Matthew 25:31 – 40
In chapter 25, the Lord Jesus mentions three parables: firstly the 10 virgins, secondly the talents, thirdly the sheep and goats. Five of the ten virgins were wise and five were foolish. The oil in the parable represents the Holy Spirit. The foolish virgins took things lightly. They were lazy. They did not take extra oil along. They thought they knew. When they woke up, it was too late. Friends, we have the opportunity today.
These three parables show us that our lives and hearts must be filled with God’s fire. There must be something which drives us, not our will but the will of Him who sent us. Put your heart into everything that God gives you to do. This has helped me in my life, otherwise I do not know where I would be. Do God’s work with all your heart. Let that keep you busy because it will prevent you from getting involved in many wrong things. Put your whole heart into that which you must do at school, as a learner or teacher. Do not complain. Obey with joy. In the second parable, the property owner - the Lord Jesus Christ, said that He was going and leaving His property for you to look after. It is not our property, not yours nor mine, but God’s. This is the difference. Look after My school, look after My children, look after My fields, My water. The owner entrusted them with talents and gifts to use. God gives us gifts which we are sometimes born with. Are you tiring of that which God has given you? The first servant was given 5 talents, the second one 2 and the third one, 1. Is that not unfair you ask? We should all be the same, you say. That is what the world teaches (although they are never the same) but God says, “No, each one is given that which belongs to him.” May we never say, “I am not as gifted or clever as others.” By saying this you despise what God has given you. No one among us is not gifted. God has given you something and you need to be faithful in that little thing - which is possibly not the only thing you will receive.
24 He also who had received the one talent came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you scattered no seed, 25 so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here, you have what is yours.’ 26 But his master answered him, ‘You wicked and slothful servant! You knew that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I scattered no seed? Matthew 25:24 – 26
This servant despised what God had given him. “Master, I knew you would be hard…” He blamed the Master because he had done nothing. He said that he was afraid because of who the Master was. No that was not the case, you are afraid because of what you are, not because of who He is! Many people hide behind this: I was afraid…that is why. No, you are afraid because you know that you did not do what you had to. The Master says, “You wicked, lazy servant… you think you have a reason for what you are…it is because of your wickedness, your evil heart which is why you are afraid.” The Lord took away what he still had. Learn. If you do things, do them with all your heart. You only have one chance. Do not let the Lord say one day to you, “You wicked, lazy servant, what did you do with all that I gave you?” This thread runs through the three parables – people who are lazy and wicked, unprepared to go all the way.
In the third parable, you must visit, feed and clothe - which may not be easy but will the Lord say to you, “You lazy person, I gave you a job, I gave you someone to look after and you did not do it”? It was not the wrong that people committed in this parable, it was the things they neglected to do. If you did not give food to someone who was hungry because you did not know about it, you could say that you are innocent in the eyes of people. The Lord turns everything around. He separates the sheep and goats by the way they lived. If I am spiritually alive and there is nothing separating me from the Lord, there is a blessing. Life flows.
Rev Stegen’s heart went out to the lost, hungry, and thirsty, to those who were discarded and hated by men. He brought them in, and God changed their lives. The Lord said that He has come for the lost sheep of Israel. Jesus says, “I am a doctor for the sick, not the healthy.” This is what the Lord came to do. He came to save to the uttermost.
40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’ Matthew 25:40
The Bible says that God was right there where man did not esteem things highly.
How often has Rev Stegen not been ridiculed because of what he did, the people he brought in? Have you made it right that you discarded such people and regarded them as a problem? You wondered what these people wanted here. We take seriously what we should not and that which we should take seriously, we despise. The Lord took this parable seriously. The difference between people will be seen in the results of the lives they have lived. It is no wonder that I wallow in my own mud and I am stuck in my own problems and cannot escape. Get up and be obedient to what God tells you to do! What about the people around you? Your life only revolves around yourself and your own interests. A life spent for the Lord and His children is a life well spent.
In this parable the Lord reaches out to others and He expects us to do the same. He uses people with different needs as examples: the hungry, the thirsty, the stranger, those who are naked, the sick, the prisoner. These aspects also pertain to the spiritual aspect of people’s lives. This might be where we fall short. Do we reach out to those who need God’s word, to those who are thirsty? The naked? Someone who is spiritually naked, who is exposed, whose life is in the dumps, who is nothing. The Lord says, “You clothe him. Throw something around him to cover his nakedness.” This also means to invest in that person. The Lord invests in people who are nothing, those whom the world discards. God invests His time and money in them. He mentions the sick. Do you visit the sick? Do you make time to visit someone who is in a hopeless physical state or does your life only revolve around yourself and your own diseases? This can also mean those who are not strong, they are physically and spiritually weak. They are strengthless. We possibly judge them for being in that state because of various reasons. “Have you ever visited that person? Have you reached out to help that person?” Jesus asks. This is all part of a person’s life who has met Christ.
People in prison are in a guarded, secluded place. There are many things which imprison people. They may be bound by their difficult circumstances. Hard work may lie ahead. Things do not work out as they thought they would. You are in a hard place and you are bound by these circumstances. The more a person dwells on these things, the more likely you are to forget to lift up your eyes. It is better to find yourself in this prison than a prison of success and wealth where you are controlled by making money and what you can do with it. You forget to look around and see the Lord at work or the Lord wanting to work.
There was a time in the past when it was said that we need an education, we need to do something with our lives. I must care for myself and family, you say. Can God not look after you? Is nobody called? Has nobody received a calling from God? Where a person can stand up, go against the grain, and say, “I am called. The Lord will take care of me.”
Many people are in a prison because of marriage. It is difficult to move out because you may hurt your partner or do something wrong. Everything revolves around your poor wife or your poor husband who works so hard. This life binds you. What your partner says is more important than what God says. It is terrible, friends, if you are bound in a marriage. You cannot say or do things because you and your wife play policeman on each other. No wonder we are in this present condition. You also cannot do without each other. You cannot go places or do things because you should be at home. Is that freedom or a prison? If you have a fire that burns within, you will quickly recognise where you find yourself. Everything has its place, but God has the first place. When the wrong person has the trousers on, things usually go wrong. God did not create things in that way.
Some are imprisoned by drugs or alcohol, others by grudges and hard feelings. They cannot get loose from it. Can you notice and help such a person? Do you hear when God speaks to you and wants to use you? (Not that you say that you are not the right person – no, God did not ask that – He asked you to help that person) Will you do it? Some time back I had personal experience which taught me something. I attended a meeting where I spontaneously said that I would help a particular person with money that had to be paid. When I woke up, the sum was more than double what I originally thought. I was shaken. I had said that I would help that person. I somehow tried to get out of the situation, but I had committed myself. I was hoping I would receive a discount, but everyone stood by what I had said, “Dietmar, you said that…” There are times when you do things from the bottom of your heart, spontaneously, and you find the Lord in that situation. Then I read these words: 7 Is it not to share your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover him, and not to hide yourself from your own flesh? Isaiah 58:7 The Lord says if you hold back, you lose everything. If you keep your hand closed, you will lose things. And then the Lord said this: 8 Then shall your light break forth like the dawn, and your healing shall spring up speedily; your righteousness shall go before you; the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard. 9 Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer; you shall cry, and he will say, ‘Here I am.’ Isaiah 58:8,9
We may be bound because everything is for ourselves. We have not learned what it means to give to the Lord what belongs to Him. Do you see how the Lord sees things? I thought I would hold back but I could not. I would have lost out. I am also speaking a spiritual language. Why can you not help somebody else? Just a friendly word, a greeting? Just an invitation to the person you dislike, not the one you like! Much can be said about these groups of people. When the disciples walked to Emmaus, a stranger joined them. They did not recognise Him at first, but He walked with them. What an experience! The Lord walking with you but you regard Him as a stranger. You may wonder what that stranger is saying to you and what is going on? It may not even be someone you know.
These people asked the King interesting questions: Where were you? We did not see you. We did not know that it was you. We did not recognise you, we thought it was just that person. Do we have eyes to see? The sheep and the goats were confused. When did we see you? If you know and are obedient, you will touch someone’s life without knowing what you have done. How often do you do things and say things only to hear later that the Lord was there and He was involved? You did not know what the Lord was doing. You were blind to it. Have we eyes to see that a person is spiritually naked? Understanding this is to understand the parable. Do we have eyes to see and to recognise that it is the Lord? Somebody says something to you and you accept it as the person speaking but in the meantime it is God. Your eyes are blind to the fact that God is saying something to you. Your neighbour comes to visit. He is suffering and you know it. When he comes you complain in your heart about the troublesome person. Your life revolves around yourself which is why you get nowhere. You might be jealous which is also why you cannot help that person. Understand that it is the Lord who is helping you.
Many do not see because of their evil eye. Their eye is filled with jealousy or pride. If you look through those eyes you will not see the Lord coming to you. 18 I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see. Revelation 3:18 Purchase from Me. How do you buy something like that? Recently someone said to me that my father used to teach me that ‘time is money’. Helping someone often involves time. The Lord says, “…buy gold… buy eye salve…” What does that mean? It can mean that you spend time - you spend time with the Lord. Buy your time, purchase it, redeem it and use it to its full extent. Spending your time reading God’s word. Spend your time with the Lord, it is time well spent. You are buying your time. But what do you do? Spend your time on worldly, evil things.
The Lord has spoken to us over the past weeks and months especially about the eyes, looking at things. If the eyes are spoiled, if the eyes look at things that are evil and filthy, you will be unable to see. You will ask, “Where were you, Lord?” because you could not see. You were not there to be used by Him. Your eyes were dirty. If you look at pornography, that filth gets imprinted on your mind. It destroys your mind and your eyes. It is critical to keep away from it.
A pure eye reveals a pure heart. What comes out of your heart makes you evil. Your heart is the foundation. If your eyes are purified you will see the hungry person, do something and God will work.
22 “The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, 23 but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness! Matthew 6:22
If you think you are walking in the light, but your eye is dark, you are fooling yourself. Come out and admit your problem. Ask the Lord to help you with that thing. A pure eye will reflect a pure life. The eyes of those two disciples were opened to what the Lord was saying to them. How can you feed somebody if your eye is not pure? If that light is not there, how can you feed somebody? How can you see that person needs help? The wonderful thing is, if we live the way the Lord wants us to live, by His grace, then the Lord will do things you could never have imagined. The Lord will set people free - which is why God sent us. I should not only click with people who are my type, who have money and influence, I should look further to those who are despised and are nothing. Have you ever reached out to them?
Your eye cannot be pure if there are grudges, self-pity, immorality, and lust. How are you able to feed people and give them to drink, clothe them and welcome the stranger? You will feed them poison. The critical thing is, how can I go out when I know this thing rules my life? You are feeding people poison. If you are proud and think you are someone that people must look up to, it is no wonder that when you do something it disintegrates. You try and build something, but it falls apart. You try to speak but it hurts others. Is that a holy life that God can use or a life that kills? Stop and examine your life. What is it like? When I must stand before the Lord, will I be a sheep or a goat?
These days we had a visitor from Azerbaijan who was doing some work here. I invited him to have something to eat at my place. I did not know how to preach to a Muslim. I was not ashamed for him to visit. I wanted him to see the way we live and dress, our way of living without preaching a word. They stayed for a very long time. Then I gave him a DVD of “When God comes down”. I am excited. I do not know what God will do and where it will end but I hope that I was obedient to what He said.
In conclusion, the message of the three parables is: we can assume that if we are spiritually alive like the wise virgins, or we will use our talents as God supposed it to be, and God can use you to help, clothe and visit others. The opposite is that you become lazy, and you take things lightly. You will despise what God has given you. You will murmur and complain at the very place you are and one day God will say, “I was so-and-so – where were you? I wanted to use you, where were you?” You will respond and say, “Lord, I do not know where you were. I did not see You.” My grandmother once told me: “Dietmar, many years ago I saw somebody, and I felt that I should help this person. I did it. But Dietmar, I never saw that person again.” My grandmother was trying to tell me that it might have been an angel.
Will we be obedient? God can even change your whole life because you are obedient, and you do what He wants you to. A light will arise because you spent it for the Lord. I would like to end with a song:
Turn your eyes upon Jesus
look full in His wonderful face
and the things of the earth will grow strangely dim
in the light of his glory and grace.
Turn your eyes upon Him, His word, His teachings, and the things of the earth will grow strangely dim. What if you turn and look at Him? The things which were so important, which bound you so greatly, will be loosened and grow strangely dim, as if they no longer exist.