Sunday, 17 January 2021
Trust the Lord and stand firm
Introduction Dietmar Joosten
It is because of His name that we are together. Man is foolish, he is nothing. Jesus Christ creates and brings life. We thank Him who died for us that He has kept us. What grace, what great love! What does He have in store for us? In every place where His name is uplifted and preached, may He be there.
This plague which has covered the earth has done things which one would never have thought possible. Your heart goes out to people when you see and hear what they are going through. I doubt that we understand the great need and difficulties that people are going through. It is unbelievable. Above all the attack on the church is more than we can imagine. We do not fathom what the devil, the Antichrist is up to. We are heading in a certain direction.
This morning I considered the fact that we cannot meet, as the Bible says, under His word on a church bench but God has opened a way through radio and other media and we thank Him for that. Without that, where would we be? I said to the brothers who are here, “Let us pray together. We need to pray for each other that our love for the Lord Jesus Christ does not grow cold.” My prayer for us is, “Lord, may the fact that we cannot gather as we used to not drive us in the opposite direction.” One of the signs that your love is growing cold is that you point fingers. If we have a fervent love for the Lord – we would ask the Lord to open the doors that we can, once again, sit on the church benches. Friends, let us not take it lightly. We are facing evil we never imagined would come in such a way.
This morning we will replay the clip from Rev Stegen. I will interpret what he says. These are deep words.
On this last day of 2020 God, by His grace, has spoken and by His grace has kept us. He has kept us in the past year through all the storms and tribulations. Let us not lose strength and give up. We must seek for and look up to God. He who wants to serve the Lord and be on His side, let him persevere. He who does not want to go this godly way, let him forsake it. It is my desire that this gospel may go forth through the whole world.
This is a clear message from a man of God. We thank God for what He has done for him and by his grace, we would like him to return to this pulpit. Pray for it.
When you are one in heart and spirit then everything works together for the good. Some things Mr Joosten spoke about were also on my heart and I wondered who told him. When you are one in spirit this is how things happen. One day when there were only a few of us at this place, Rev Stegen called me. I told him that I knew why he had called me and I explained to him. He asked me who had told me. I explained that it was revealed to me. He said that I was right. It was revealed there would be an engagement. He asked who it was and someone said who and Rev Stegen said that he was right, although there had been no sign of it. This is how it works when God works through His Holy Spirit and reveals things to His people. It is God’s mysterious work. You may read a particular text that Rev Stegen preaches on the following day and then you experience the sweetness and confirmation that you have received the spirit of revelation. It is wonderful when people can be of one spirit. You may feel that you should phone a particular person but before you phone, that person phones you. This is what it means when you receive God’s Holy Spirit and are led and guided by His Holy Spirit. For example, my wife said this past week to me that I would take the service this Sunday and when I received the message, she said “What did I tell you?” This happens when you are united. I share this for those who do not understand the working of the Holy Spirit.
A certain grey-haired woman stopped me and asked, “Please pray for Port Elizabeth because they have not had any rain and it is dry.” She later reported to my wife they had received 60 mm of rain. This does not only apply to prayers for rain and that God only hears those prayers - not at all. This applies to many other spheres of life such as illnesses, diseases. God hears when we pray. God hears the prayers of His saints when they unite in prayer and come to Him with their requests. Also, when we pray for the forgiveness of sin and you see that person living in victory over sin.
From what Mr Joosten and Rev Stegen have said I could say Amen and close because the words were rich with meaning and depth. I was blessed and I trust that you have been blessed as well.
The text for today is Psalm 125.
Those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion, which cannot be moved, but abides forever. 2 As the mountains surround Jerusalem so the Lord surrounds his people, from this time forth and forevermore. 3 For the sceptre of wickedness shall not rest on the land allotted to the righteous, lest the righteous stretch out their hands to do wrong. 4 Do good, O Lord, to those who are good, and to those who are upright in their hearts! 5 But those who turn aside to their crooked ways the Lord will lead away with evildoers! Peace be upon Israel!
This text blessed me in the light of the COVID-19 pandemic during which many of our loved ones have passed away, many families are bereaved, and people are dying around us. There is Zulu saying Inxeba lendoda alihlekwa which means Do not laugh at another person’s suffering although he is your enemy. Do not laugh at his wounds because you may soon experience the same thing. People fought with fighting sticks and they would inflict heavy blows. You would try and fend off those blows, but you would not laugh at the wounded man because you knew that next time it might be you. Even if your enemy dies or their family is bereaved, do not gloat because you do not know when it will be your turn.
Those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion, which cannot be moved, but abides forever. Ps 125:1 Mountains are eternal. They remain firm. They are never moved. They endure the worst of storms which may lash out at them with hail and lightning. Ministers of the Lord and preachers of the word should be like this – steadfast and firm. Brethren, we need to steadfast, firm, and unmoved, no matter what news we hear, no matter what devastation this pandemic causes, we must remain unmoved. Let us, by the grace of God, be like Mount Zion – unmoved and steadfast. Regardless of what people say and what they talk about it should not move us in our faith. No matter how they blaspheme the Gospel and the Word and work of God and how evil they speak of it, it should not stir us or make us move from our faith. A mountain does not move from its position because there is a storm. It remains steadfast and immovable.
I do not want to forget our brethren from the different congregations who remain firm in the Lord and in their faith through the storms we have experienced lately. I do not want to forget those who prayed for us when the mission was being shaken as well as ministers and members of other denominations who supported us. Their reward is in heaven.
Rev Stegen said in his New Year’s Eve message that we have been through storms. Indeed, we witnessed those fierce storms. Many have been swept away by those storms. Although it was not only the storms that caused it, but their love was waning and growing cold.
Our youth today have been taken up by a short-cut route. People prefer the easier, more convenient way, a short cut instead of going the way God has taught us (even into marriage). You hear of a person who has suddenly got married and soon thereafter they have a child then you realise that the person took a short cut. They did not trust in the Lord. They did not hold onto their faith and stand firm in their youth like a mountain and retain their purity as a young man or woman. That person ought to have endured and stood firm until the day the Lord fetches them even though fiery darts are shot at them and spears are directed at them, they should stand firm like a valiant soldier, a hero, unmoved. They should stand their ground and retain their reputation as a hero or heroine because they stood for their faith and their Lord.
2 As the mountains surround Jerusalem so the Lord surrounds his people, from this time forth and forevermore. Psalm 25:2 We need God to, through His grace and blood, surround us so that we are not harmed by anything. In Psalm 14:1 The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” I once heard a respectable person saying that there is no God.
The Lord looks down from heaven on the children of man, to see if there are any who understand who seek after God. Psalm 14:2 God looks down from heaven to see how it is going with you spiritually and whether you are standing firm in your faith and serving Him. God’s eye ranges throughout the world to see whether we will serve Him or not. God looks down to see whether we are like a mountain that stands unmoved. Let us examine ourselves – are we standing firm in our faith against evil? Are serving God wholeheartedly? This is what it means to stand firm in your faith. Are you like Mount Zion that your neighbours can see that you are standing firm in your faith against every form of evil? We need to be strong and firm in our faith and not slacken.
7 casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. 1 Peter 5:7 Part of standing firm is casting our anxieties on the Lord. All the anxieties. All the things we hear which are possibly rumours and news we read which disturbs us. Cast it on the Lord. All the things we can experience in the end times, we should not carry ourselves but cast them on the Lord. It could be something to do with your work which you can no longer carry, cast it on the Lord. Things pertaining to the number of the beast, the Antichrist, the banks you will not be able to use as a believer, whatever we need to face, even death, let us be prepared. We need to be prepared for martyrdom. Whether you lose your possessions or are separated from your family, whatever it may be, these things should not cause us to tremble and fear. We should be prepared. It should not cause us to lose our trust in the Lord. We need to serve Him more than ever. These anxieties and cares must be brought to the Lord and we should ask a servant of the Lord to pray for us. If you have a physical ailment you go to your doctor. You do not hide the symptoms. We need to do the same spiritually. Bring all that troubles you into the light and to the Lord. COVID-19 is causing the deaths of many people. There is a spiritual COVID-19 that causes people to go down spiritually. Their light is growing dim, like a candle that is spluttering and smoking, no longer giving light as it ought to.
8 Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 1 Peter 5:8 The devil prowls around like a roaring lion. How many young and older people are being swallowed up by lust? Satan is like a roaring lion swallowing them. If you ask a person, “You did this and you have done it again. Have you not heard that you should sin no more?” He says, “Yes, I know.” You ask, “Do you know that the Bible says woe to the one who sins knowingly?” He says, “Yes, I know.” What can you say about such a person? Where is such a person headed to? The fires of hell are already kindled and burning in that person’s life here on earth. If a person defiles themselves with their own hands from the age of 13 or 14 years and continues to do so into marriage, where is such a person headed to? When a person begins doing that the flames of lust are kindled and continue burning. Such a person wakes up in the middle of the night and is driven by an evil spirit that sends him to the toilet where he defiles himself. Such a person is ruled by an evil spirit. The spirit drives that person and he obeys that spirit. Such a person cannot stand at a pulpit and testify or preach. That person must be saved and cleansed by the blood of the Lord Jesus. There must be fruit of repentance.
What causes people to continue in this manner? Confession of sin between yourself and God. That is why a person can be here and live in that sin. That is why you as a young man, an adult and a married man lives that life. When you meet that person, you realise that he is not free, he is bound by an evil spirit. That person possibly also needs to confess the sins of their fathers. We learn that from Daniel and Nehemiah. They confessed the sins of their fathers and their own sins. Maybe you have not done that which is why you are still enslaved by those sins.
In this room, in the church, in the nation, the devil prowls around looking for someone he can devour. That is why Peter warns us and says, “Be watchful.” Peter himself met up with this roaring lion. Peter denied Jesus three times before he received the Holy Spirit. After he had received the baptism of the Holy Spirit you sense that his preaching had power and authority in it.
“I came to cast fire on the earth and would that it were already kindled!” Luke 12:49 Jesus spoke these words about the baptism of the Holy Spirit. He yearned that every child of God would experience it. It is that fire of the Holy Spirit which forms a wall of fire and protection around us. When you pray with a person that fire burns and the evil spirits cannot remain. When you walk around, this fire of God’s Holy Spirit and the blood of the Lord Jesus surrounds and protects you. It is wonderful to see a child of God really living for the Lord. 4 I thank my God always when I remember you in my prayers, 5 because I hear of your love and of the faith that you have toward the Lord Jesus and for all the saints…Philemon 1:5 Paul could say this about Philemon. It is wonderful when somebody tells you as a servant of the Lord that a certain person is truly living for the Lord. You can sense it in the way they preach, pray and do things that that person is alive spiritually.
When a girl starts eyeing the boys or visa versa, look at the way they walk. The person is proud and arrogant. Their body language changes. Someone who I respect very much said that the sin of pride goes hand in hand with the sin of lust. If you have unmarried children, look at way they walk. Do they walk as they used to or is there a change in the way they walk?
Sometimes when you ask a person whether they heard the message preached on the radio, they say that they did but the language was mixed with English and slang and so they switched off the radio. This is a lesson to those who speak on radio. Listen to yourself. How do you speak? People who want to present themselves as educated throw in English words unnecessarily and a Zulu listener cannot understand. Watch out for these things. Do not show off your knowledge of English or Xhosa by throwing in words when speaking Zulu. That is pride. When it is service time in the evening there are some who no longer listen to the service. They do their washing then. If you ask them the next day what the service was about, they cannot tell you a thing. They did not hear anything, or they put on their earphones and listened to worldly music while the service was on. They say they only listen to the services on Sundays.
9 Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.1 Peter 5:9 If we resist those things, God will help us. If we fail to resist, it will go badly with us. We see people constantly on their cell phones. It is like a drug. They want to part from it but constantly find themselves going back to it. Joshua was instructed to be strong and courageous. Joshua 1:9 We need to become strong with things as they are in the world. Let us not grow weak and give up. Especially in this time where we are ravaged by disease, we need to be especially close to the Lord and make sure that your life is clean and in right standing with God.
If it went according to me, I would reject this so-called knowledge and say, “Open the churches that we can preach the word!” I am not the government, but I would say that the people should be free to go to church and serve God. This is my opinion. We need to worship God and bow down before Him. Some might say that they would not mind if they caught the disease while worshipping God. God might say that He will be present in the church building, surround and protect His people with His blood from the disease.
18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. 21 For although they knew God, they did not honour him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools…Romans 1:18, 21, 22 In some English translations it says that they became futile in their thinking and their foolish hearts were darkened. When mankind does not pray and thank God at night, when they wake up in the morning and do not pray and thank God, darkness will never end in this world. 26 For this reason God gave them up to dishonourable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; 27 and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error. Romans 1:26, 27 It is like this in the world today. Men lust after men and women after women. Homosexuality is rife. This is because people do not honour God. They do not thank and praise Him. God sets these things on you. Lusts trouble you and you do things you never imagined you would do.
There is a Lutheran hymn about the fountain of blood that we need to wash in. We need to come to that fountain of the blood of the Lord Jesus. We need to praise and thank the Lord in the morning, afternoon and evening. I sang this song long ago:
Praise Him, praise Him
Praise Him in the morning
Praise Him in the midday
Praise Him, praise Him,
Praise Him when the sun goes down.
It had so much meaning when it was sung at Mr Khwela’s wedding in 1966. Praise Him as Daniel did when he prayed three times a day so that these things will not happen to you. We need to thank the Lord like the one leper who returned to thank the Lord Jesus when he healed 10 of them. He asked that one where the other 9 were?
Conclusion Dietmar Joosten
The Lord is putting us onto a path where we must look to Him and trust Him. When we were very young, we were taught that in everything we do, we should pray. In everything we should praise and give thanks to God because of what He has in store for us.
I trust and know that God is taking us deeper. He is forcing us. If you do not want to then leave it. He is teaching us the walk of faith. That is why David said, 2 As the mountains surround Jerusalem so the Lord surrounds his people, from this time forth and forevermore. Ps 125:2 As hills are immovable and mountains tower above the countryside, so those heavenly hills and that heavenly grace will surround us. May we learn what it really means to trust in Him.
One thing that dispels trust is fear. If we fear and live in fear, we do not trust the Lord. Trust will dispel all fear and anxiety. Is this not what God is teaching us? Years ago, Rev Stegen spoke about this roaring lion. When a lion aims to attack cattle in a kraal, it will roar from a distance. The cattle become restless and fearful and break out of the kraal. Instead of being at peace, the cattle doubt their owner who looks after them. The roar of the lion does nothing. I will not destroy you but because you fear the roar, you break out of the fence that surrounds you. May we learn to trust the Lord with sincere and clean hearts.