Be thankful and walk in the Spirit

 

Introduction Michael Ngubane

We greet all our brethren, wherever you may be, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. May God be present where you are. Do not feel sorry for yourself or lonely, because if you are with the Lord and we are with the Lord – it is complete. We thank the Lord that He has kept us. Unfortunately, we are not becoming accustomed to the conditions under which we are at present. God’s word says that we should not neglect meeting together (Hebrews 10:25). There is strength in the meeting of the brethren, the saints. It does something for the body of Christ. The Bible teaches us that when God’s children meet, some come with a message in song, others with a message from God’s word, some with admonition. Everything works together to build the body of Christ. Each one comes with his gift that builds the body of Christ. Although we cannot see each other physically we are together by faith. Hold onto your faith because God is with us. These are special times when we can demonstrate our love for the Lord. The Lord asked Peter, Peter do you love me more than these? This is where we need to demonstrate and prove our love for our Lord.

Wherever you are listening, via the radio or livestream, sit and listen otherwise you will miss a blessing from God. When God’s word comes via the radio, stop everything and come to God with a prayer in your heart, ‘God speak to me.’ Speak to your heart, ‘Be quiet, be still, my heart and listen to what God wants to say. This is my opportunity to be with the Lord and I should keep quiet so that I can hear what God says.’

Phumelele Ntuli, a dear child of the Lord, from the Nkandla area has passed away. Rev Stegen pitched a tent in the Nkandla area at the beginning of the revival and held services. Many were touched during those services. Phumelele originally came from there but later built a house under Chief Zubane at Mapumulo where she lived with her family and attended the services at KwaSizabantu. She passed away after suffering from cancer. God has taken her to a place where there is no pain and suffering – where she can be with Him.

Thursday, 21 May is the Day of Ascension. There will be a service at 11h00. May we all pray and say, “Lord, this is Your opportunity and my opportunity. Speak to me please.”

To our brethren abroad, do not slacken in the faith, retain your zeal. Remain faithful in the Lord. We dare not lose the Lord or be separated from Him. May God be with you. Amen.

Nico Bosman

I greet everyone on this wonderful Sunday morning. Just before the service I spoke to Reverend Stegen and he prayed with me and asked the Lord to work. It is my wish that the Lord would work. I can do nothing, but the Lord can speak and work. Baba sends his regards to everyone.

Recently I was reading through the book of Ephesians. It is wonderful when the Lord speaks. I read it the next day and the day after. It is as sweet as honey. It should be like this when we read God’s inspired words. It must do something for us. If I read God’s word and it does nothing to me there is something wrong. When you read God’s word, pray and say, “Lord, please speak to me.”

Paul wrote this book to the people of Ephesus to strengthen the brethren. Paul tells them to hold onto their faith. In the Life Application Bible, just before the book of Ephesians, there is a short summary: “Buildings vary but the church is not confined to four walls. The church of Jesus Christ is people – his people- of every race and nation who love him and are committed to serving him.” Life Application Bible, Ephesians This amazed me when I read it because it pertains to us in this time. We miss meeting together but under the circumstances we remain one until the Lord allows us to meet again.

Paul writes in Ephesians about God’s blessings, making specific mention of the Holy Spirit. He says that we need to be filled with the Holy Spirit and freed from sin’s bondage.

Paul spent three years in the churches in Ephesus. When he wrote this letter, he was in jail under the sentence of death by Nero. Despite this, he encourages the church and reminds them that they need to stay close to God. He also reminds them that they are in the household of God. He spontaneously praises the Lord and urges believers to have unity in their commitment to Christ. He says that they should have the highest moral standards. Paul reminds them that the church is in a constant battle with the forces of darkness and that they should use every spiritual weapon at their disposal. He reminds them of what is important and brings them back to the basics.

It is good to remember now and then why we are here. It is a blessing that we have people amongst us who remind us of this, who have been here since the beginning of this work, who can explain how this was what the Lord showed them at the beginning and which is why things are done in certain ways. We appreciate and thank the Lord for these people, but do we appreciate them enough? Do we ask them for advice? Maybe not as often as we ought to.

14 When I think of all this, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father,[e] 15 the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth.[f] 16 I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. 17 Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. 18 And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. 19 May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God. 20 Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. 21 Glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen. Ephesians 3:14-21 (NLT)

Paul begins this text by saying, When I think of all this…
Dear Christians, what fills our thoughts? What occupies our minds all day long? What does it drive us to do? Yes, we have much to do – we work, we have a business, we must pay bills – there are things on our minds. This morning, however, what is the main thing on your mind? Paul says, When I think of all of this, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father… One gets the impression that it is out of thankfulness that he falls to his knees.

Paul was in jail. There was no hope. He had been sentenced to death. He had all the reason to complain and yet when I think of all of this… he could say, thank you, Lord. Thank you, Lord for what You do for us. Can we say that? You possibly think of all the difficulties. Your work may be so important that it is the only thing you think about. It does not drive you to your knees but keeps you awake at night. It takes you away from the Lord and there is no time to think of the Lord. If Paul, in his situation could say, “Lord, when I think about it, I can only praise Your name.” How much more should we be able to say this? We have easy circumstances – there is no persecution, we have a full stomach every day, the Lord gives us all we need but all this does not even bring us to our knees.

In this Bible summary, it says that Paul’s reaction was spontaneous. He did not do it because he knew he must or because he was taught to – it was a natural reaction – thank you Lord for what you do for me.

I received a devotion from the book, My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers. Oswald Chambers was born many years ago in 1874 but we still read his writings. He got converted at the age of 15 through a sermon by Charles Spurgeon. At this young age he began his ministry among the poor people. So, you cannot excuse yourself and say, “I am too young. I cannot do anything for the Lord.” At 23 years of age he stopped his studies and went into full-time ministry. He lived to the age of 43 but by that time he had written enough so that we can still read it today. In your 43 years, what do you have to show?

May 16, The Habit of Recognising God’s Provision

…you may be partakers of the divine nature… 2 Peter 1:4

We are made partakers of the divine nature, receiving and sharing God’s own nature through His promises. Then we have to work that divine nature into our human nature by developing godly habits. The first habit to develop is the habit of recognising God’s provision for us. We say, however, “Oh, I can’t afford it.” One of the worst lies is wrapped up in that statement. We talk as if our heavenly Father has cut us off without a penny! We think it is a sign of true humility to say at the end of the day, “Well, I just barely got by today, but it was a severe struggle.” And yet all of Almighty God is ours in the Lord Jesus! And He will reach to the last grain of sand and the remotest star to bless us if we will only obey Him. Does it really matter that our circumstances are difficult? Why shouldn’t they be! If we give way to self-pity and indulge in the luxury of misery, we remove God’s riches from our lives and hinder others from entering into His provision. No sin is worse than the sin of self-pity, because it removes God from the throne of our lives, replacing Him with our own self-interests. It causes us to open our mouths only to complain, and we simply become spiritual sponges— always absorbing, never giving, and never being satisfied. And there is nothing lovely or generous about our lives.

Before God becomes satisfied with us, He will take everything of our so-called wealth, until we learn that He is our Source; as the psalmist said, “All my springs are in You” (Psalm 87:7)

I do not understand a Christian who complains. It is beyond my understanding. How can a Christian who is close to the Lord complain? Maybe you think your complaining will change the world. If anything, Paul should have complained. He should have made us aware of his misery. He should have at least told us how difficult it was. No, one does not read about that, instead Paul inspired those who were free outside. Paul praised the Lord. It was spontaneous. It was a natural reaction. When Paul thought about his circumstances he said, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father, 15 the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth. 

Fire in the Islands is a book about the revival in the Solomon Islands which are just north-west of Australia. This revival began in 1970. I will read parts from it:

There is a new longing to pray, a new hunger for God’s word, and a new sensitivity to the Spirit who is holy. Jotham Ausuta once said, ‘The Holy Spirit is unable to fill the life that has some sin harboured in it. The Holy Spirit is so very sensitive about things we might consider unimportant. The Holy Spirit we find is very, very sensitive.

The Holy Spirit is sensitive. Do we treat Him as such, or do we take it lightly?

In the Solomons, we say that His blessings in our life are like an egg that we must hold carefully. If we let it drop, it’s gone. Or we say it is like bringing back stream-water to our friends working in the food-gardens. We carry the water in a taro leaf, so we must take care not to let anything pierce the leaf, or the water will run out. Even a little hole will prevent our friends’ thirst being quenched.

 I remember Baba once explained that sin is like sand. When you get a grain of sand in your eye, you cannot do anything because it irritates you. You will not stop until the grain of sand is removed from your eye, otherwise you cannot see properly, and you will trip. Sin is like that. If we make a mistake we should not rest until we have closed that hole.

George Strachan put it this way: “To me, revival is truth becoming alive and powerful. Ordinarily, we might say ‘God is good’ and we mean it. But for the goodness and holiness of God to really come home to us, we need the ministry of the Spirit.

 We need the Holy Spirit. There was a time in my life when I thought the Holy Spirit was only for an elect few, only some would receive it but for the average person, it was probably impossible. However, I began to realise that if I could not be spirit-filled, I would not experience the fulness of this gospel. It is of utmost importance to strive for it with all your strength and then to guard it with all your life, as if your life depended on it.  Otherwise you will lose it.

Michael Maeliau said on one occasion, “People have often asked me, ‘How did you feel in the revival? and my answer has always been one word, ‘Transparent’. I felt that somebody was looking right through me, and that there was nothing in me that could be hidden any more.

 We hide things. We think nobody will see. We think nobody will notice. But when God comes, we cannot hide anything anymore. Dr Albu van Eeden once said that the biggest sign of unbelief is secret sin – that which you do when nobody is watching, even that which you think in secret. Why? You do not believe that there is a God who sees you. You do not believe, that is why you can sin in secret. This is the heart of revival – to be in the presence of God. Every day, every minute – in God’s presence where He sees me.

How does the Holy Spirit convict us of sin? He brings us into the very presence of God so that we become aware of our sin, just like Isaiah who cried, ‘Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips…’ Isaiah 6:5. It was because he was in the presence of God that Isaiah realised what he was.

We may think of it in this way. Every home has a door, and whenever we go into a house, we enter through a door. We go through so many doors that it becomes a habit. We enter without thinking much about it, whether we are going into a rich house or a poor one. Then imagine that you are going into a particular house, the home of a very wealthy man. You walk straight into his house without thinking – and then suddenly you become aware of the beautiful carpet. The house is very ‘posh’. You look at the purity of the beautiful carpet, and you think, ‘Is there mud on my shoes?’ Then you look down and back – and yes, you have left muddy marks, and you think, ‘What a mess!’ It is a very real feeling, as you see the beautiful carpet spoiled by mud. Then you realise that the owner of the house is looking at you, and at the mud – and you feel that you want to clean away the mud with your tears, even, and that yet it would not be enough. It is like that with the very temple of God, your body. You see the dirty marks left inside His temple, and you want to clean away those marks with your tears. But you do not have enough tears, and you know that no soap, no shampoo, can cleanse away those marks.

Dear Christian, have you been there where you realise that you cannot do this? Have you been there where you plead with the Lord and realise that it is His grace that can save you? Have you been there where you have seen your muddy marks on the carpet? Have you been there where you grasp God’s presence and know that only God can save you?

But then it is as though you hear the words: ‘No tears can wipe off those dirty marks; only the blood of Jesus can cleanse you. And you are glad and rejoice and you have a sense of indebtedness to God.

That is how the Holy Spirit convicts of sin: by bringing us into the very presence of God, so that we compare ourselves with that holy presence and become aware of our sinfulness. Then we are like Isaiah after he had cried, ‘I am a man of unclean lips’ when the angel took a piece burning charcoal from the altar and said, ‘…your guilt is taken away and your sin forgiven.’ Isaiah 6:7 This is revival when the Spirit of God brings us into His presence. Fire in the Islands, Alison Griffiths

 Do we realise the responsibility that has been placed on our shoulders? Do we realise the sensitivity of the Holy Spirit? Is that our daily focus – not to lose this gift? Whether we are at home, at work, at the platform – wherever we are – are we on our knees in thankfulness for what the Lord is doing for us?

This book also mentions that when you experience the power of the Holy Spirit, it is so big that everything else becomes small. It overwhelms everything. This is how it should be – our nearness to the Lord should overwhelm everything else and dwarf our problems, no matter what they are. If we are insensitive to the Holy Spirit, if we have sin in our lives and He cannot fill us, we lose that power and it diminishes. Difficulties become so large and soon we find that the difficulties become the focus. This will drive us off our knees so that we no longer kneel.

Dear Christians, we have a responsibility. We are called Christians because we follow Christ. If we follow Christ, we must strive to be like Him. We can never be like Him but we must get closer and closer to Him then everything of this world becomes by-the-way because this is what matters. May we be found faithful and be there where we should be. If we do not feel the Holy Spirit and realise that something is missing, cry to the Lord. We have men of God amongst us from whom we can ask for prayer. Strive for this.

Read the book of Ephesians. If you can find this book (Fire in the Islands, Alison Griffiths), read it. It is better than sitting on your cell phone. May the Lord be merciful to us.

 Conclusion Dietmar Joosten

It is easy for your attention to be drawn away and for the devil to take you off on a side road. Remember what the Lord taught you right in the beginning – how sensitive you were, how you could do nothing without first asking for advice.

Paul thanked God although it was difficult. This was a sign that God had filled his life. When we complain we become insensitive to what God wants us to do. Remember how you could not sleep because of certain things in your life? Remember how the Holy Spirit could reveal himself to you, how he could speak to your heart. What is it like today? Other things have become more important. We are easily taken up by other things because they become larger and more important than the Lord. Friends, what we have heard this morning is important. This is where God wants us to be. May He help and carry us. Go back to where you have fallen. The Bible says, remember where things went wrong, go back and make things right. Be sensitive to the Holy Spirit.

A thankful heart demonstrates that God is greater than your circumstances. A thankful heart experiences the Lord revealing Himself. Last night I was speaking to the Lord and He spoke to me. I pray that that which He said is fulfilled and practised in my life. Can God speak to you when you are busy? Wherever you are, can He reveal himself to you? Oh, that we might be sensitive to what He says to us! When He reveals truth to our lives is when He builds and makes us. We need those revelations where we see God like Isaiah saw him. Do we see God like that? Do we experience Him in such a way?

This service this morning did something for me and I am thankful for that. Will you thank God even if it is difficult and sounds impossible?

Yesterday I listened to the story of a lady who was in a concentration camp in WWII. She had a very difficult time. She lost part of her family but she had the Lord and He carried her through. The difficulties built her and did not break her. God may send difficulties across our way and we must go through. They are there not to break and destroy us but to build us up.

And after the war she met one of the men who had been so cruel to her. She did not recognise him at first but he recognised her. He asked her whether she remembered him and told her that he had met the Lord and asked the Lord if He could enable him to meet one of the prisoners so that he could ask for forgiveness.  Her eyes were opened. Her first reaction was: How can I forgive this cruel, hard man who did such things to me? The Spirit of the Lord spoke to her about His love that is shed abroad to everyone and with a free heart she could say to this evil, evil man that she forgave him. She said that God’s love was shed abroad in her life like an ocean at that moment.

Friends, this is what we must experience: God speaking to us so that we can experience Him through His Holy Spirit. Take this home. Do not only think about it, but practise it. That is the key.

 

German translation

 

French translation