I greet you wherever you are this morning.
I have been requested to thank Reverend Stegen on behalf of the community and the amakhosi for the many seedlings which they had been given to plant and which are growing; for the food parcels that have been distributed, especially to the orphans. This is how I know the director, Reverend Stegen, he preaches the Gospel and provides for the physical needs of the people as the Lord Jesus did. Reverend Stegen has always done this type of thing and he continues to do it. God took him out of his family home and called him to preach the gospel among the Zulus. When he left home, he did not have much. He had a suitcase which had to be tied closed because it did not have a handle. When he travelled in those early days, he often did not have much petrol. Rev Stegen preached in Mapumulo during the early 1960s. God blessed him. He has stayed the same. He has the blueprint for the work of the mission, how things should develop, what the next project is. It is his vision.
In the Gospel, no firewood can burn on its own. I doubt that those who always want to be alone can really burn for God. When logs are put together, they burn. Put the log that is not burning with other logs that are on fire and it will catch alight. If you live with an unbeliever or in an unbelieving family, examine yourself to see if you are truly burning for God. The Dube family (Dube means zebra) say when there are many zebras in a herd, they stand together against the lion but a solitary zebra becomes the lion’s prey. Rev Stegen has often said that the unity of the brethren is the reason God has blessed this work and made it progress. This is how God could work. If you always remain on your own, aloof from others, you are in danger. The Word says that Satan walks around like a roaring lion seeking those whom he can devour. Examine yourself and see whether you always want to be on your own. Beware, you are in danger.
During the recent online Youth Conference, many phoned in, made their lives right and asked for counselling. Old and young were touched by God and they confessed their sins.
The text for today is taken from Colossians 3
If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. 3 For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.
5 Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. 6 On account of these the wrath of God is coming 7 In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. 8 But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. 9 Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. Colossians 3:1-10
This word puts it plainly. We need to seek the things that are above instead of the things of this world. If we seek the things that are above, we will move together with Christ who is seated at the right hand of God the Father.
People today get involved in violent crime and especially gender-based violence – men harm and even kill women. It starts off where a man slaps a woman. The next time he fists her in the face. The next step he kills her. There are so many things like this happening today - violence, riots and demonstrations. You can conclude that the world is sick. Some women get their husbands or boyfriends killed. Where is this world heading to when things like this take place? Especially us who are from black nations – one is sometimes ashamed of the fact that one is black. I asked myself recently, why I love white people so much and their children? Why do I love Indians and Coloured people so much? I received the answer. Jesus died for them. If you do not have this love for others you need to seek it.
“Seek the Lord while he may be found; call upon him while he is near; 7 let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the Lord, that he may have compassion on him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. Isaiah 55:6 – 7
You need to seek the Lord until you find Him. If you do not seek the Lord, things will not go well for you.
2 Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. People today are so troubled about things that on the earth. This is what they set their minds on. If you sought something and received it in a difficult manner, you will look after it. Some easily forsake the Gospel because they received it easily. Easy come, easy go. It slips through their fingers. A person may join a church to find a marriage partner and after that, all comes to naught. A fire quickly lit using paper just as quickly dies down. Why? Because a person sets his mind on earthly things.
3 For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. Do you hear this mystery? Our lives are hidden with Christ. One wonders how some people continue living fervently for God, it is because their lives are hidden with Christ in God. Why does this family continue serving God so fervently? Their lives are hidden with Christ in God. How can a married couple submit to one another? Their faith is hidden with Christ in God. Is your life and faith hidden in Christ? Something that is hidden is put away where it is protected.
4 When Christ who is your[a] life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.
When your life is hidden with Christ then when Christ, who is our life appears, we also will appear with Him in glory – that glory is seen in such a person. But what is it like when these things are not found in you?
5 Put to death therefore what is earthly in you:[b] sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. These are the things which will prevent you from seeking the things which are above, from setting your mind on things that are above. People who watch porn and afterwards defile themselves are living the life of Sodom and Gomorrah. Such people will get nowhere. God says that such people are dogs. They will kindle the fires hell here on earth, while they are still alive.
8 But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth.
If you allow these in your life, you cannot walk on the narrow way. People swear, they use foul language and their talk is rotten. One can only imagine what a rotten life produces such language. That is why a person should seek the things which are above. He should set his mind on that which is above.
9 Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self[d] with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. 11 Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave,[e] free; but Christ is all, and in all.
Remove the old man. Put off the old self. If you were known for stubbornness and anger that must be put off. The following illustration has often been used: An old woman always attended the services dressed in an old, ragged dress. Someone pitied the woman and bought her a new dress. When she gave it to her, she asked the old woman to wear the new dress the following Sunday. Sunday arrived but the old woman wore the new dress over her old one. Likewise, we cannot walk on the narrow way while keeping old things in our lives. These old things will rise. Loveless attitudes will rise again and prevent you from continuing on the narrow way. A person needs to get rid of the old things, confess and bring them to light then s/he will receive a new garment and a new life.
A woman at Mapumulo had taught her children to sell a potent home-made alcoholic brew. When she heard that God was working at Mapumulo she said that she would stop selling alcohol and although she might have to suffer and work hard, she had to leave it. She was widowed when her children were young. She became industrious and taught her children how to work in the fields. Her testimony is available. She is still alive and healthy. The work in the field kept her fit.
10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. If you have made your life right with God, He renews you. He makes you a new creation. The word of the cross to those who are being destroyed, is foolishness. They cannot hear or listen to the message of the cross but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. God gives you supernatural power. You experience the power in you. You feel the song in your heart. There is a mystery in this: God cloaks us, imbues us with that power.
4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. Romans 6:4
6 We know that our old self[a] was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. 7 For one who has died has been set free[b] from sin. 8 Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 9 We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. 10 For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. 11 So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.
When Jesus entered the grave, we were buried with Him. When He was raised, we were raised together with Him. Farmers understand this concept. When you plant a seed, it dies in the ground. When you become a child of God, your ego, your self should end, it should die with Christ.
5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. Romans 6:5 These verses link with what we have spoken about - the old man needs to be crucified and die with Christ and the new man put on. Have you died to the old self, to the old life, or it is it still alive in you and does it reign in your life? Are still ruled by your cell phone and the things on it? If these things have not died in your life, you have not been saved. Jesus died so that you can die with Him. In the ICU of a hospital, male and female lie next to each other, but they do not lust after one another. They are like the dead. Have you died to that lust of boys for girls and girls for boys? Brethren, we need to overcome. If you are still selling alcohol and tobacco, where are you headed? If you cannot separate from something as obvious as images of people having sex, where are you headed to? Hell is right in you.
21 The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne. Revelations 3:21 How great is this throne if we will sit with Him on His throne? Look at how great the world is and how many people there are, and Jesus says this! Brethren, may we not lose out on this event where we will sit with Christ on His throne. What is looking at porn in comparison to sitting with Christ on His throne? He said, “I conquered and sat down with My Father on His throne.” If we conquer will sit with Him on His throne. We could lose out and be defeated by trivial things like stubbornness and irritability! We could be robbed of those white garments which He said He would clothe us in. We would lose His confession of our names before the Father and His angels. That is why we should seek the things that are above.
If you get something without difficulty, it is easy for you to lose it too. We are thankful that we did not receive the Gospel effortlessly. People opposed and resisted us. We had to visit the tent at that time secretly to hear the messages. One day we had just left Mapumulo in the Ford and Rev Stegen had hoped we would get there and back on the petrol we had, but it ran out. I was still a boy and I jogged back to Mapumulo to fetch petrol. Rev Stegen then took us halfway home and from there we had to go on foot. We did not get upset even though it was dark. We were happy that at least we could have been driven part of the way. We looked forward to the service because we loved the singing in that tent. Rev Stegen would lead the singing. You experienced your heart burning within you. Before I got converted, I asked my mother about a certain song that was sung – ‘great is the matter concerning the Gospel’ which Rev Stegen loved to sing. I asked her what was great about this matter? Then I sought this Jesus and found Him. When I found Him, I set my mind on Him. When you find Him, He will also take hold of your mind. I sought Him through prayer and the word of God.
Conclusion Dietmar Joosten
The message of these days is fight the good fight of faith. There is something we must do. Jesus died for us and He completed the work so it is up to us to put off the old man. There is a garment with which you are born – the Bible says we are born in sin – but there is a time when you need to meet Christ. It does not help to say I grew up in the church that is like taking the new and putting it over the old. Get rid of the old! Get rid of the old, piece by piece. Put it aside. Get into the bath. Wash and scrub yourself. Get rid of the grime and the stench. Allow the blood of the Lord Jesus to wash you clean but you need to be clothed in a new garment. Put it on piece by piece and become what God wants you to be.
If you used to look at porn, take the Bible now and feed your mind on that. Fill your life with the word of God. Jesus will clothe you in that which is good and noble. You need to clothe yourself. If you do not dress properly, it is your fault. Imagine the disgrace of wearing a dirty garment filled with stench from the pigsty and grease! This is what we do.
May Jesus help us to be hidden in Him that we may be conquerors - more than conquerors through Christ because we are hidden in Him, we live in Him. In the end He will say come and sit with me on the throne. What a wonderful privilege. How can we be robbed of that? How can we exchange that for anything else? When you put off the old and put on the new, people will marvel and will also want to be dressed like you are. Do not forget that something which is good and beautiful is costly. You will take care of it because it is costly.