This morning I’d like to say how thankful I am for what God is doing these days. If you do not believe, then come and see. You have no excuse for not coming to see what God is doing. God is doing great things here. You know, I have been working here for a long time - 40 years but I praise God for sending Baba Dube for me. Practical work is one side of the coin, but the most important is to preach the gospel. So that one’s workers are able to receive the gospel and one can see that it is having an impact on them. In the mornings when you get to work you hear them singing with warm hearts. That is what moves a person, that’s why I say come and see. God taught us from the beginning that me and my house will serve the Lord, which means that myself and the people I work with are one. We have learned to work together and be one. Then you hear how God is helping people. There are those who are troubled by evil spirits, like the tokoloshe, but when you hear that people have been set free from that, and to hear the people testifying of how the Lord is working, it is indescribable. Baba Dube can show you how the Lord is working. Just these days someone phoned him from England and asked him for prayer for the tokoloshe. He prayed and the person was set free from the spirits.
A group has gone to Mozambique for a week to preach there. Many mission branches are also being visited today. We thank the Lord that he has opened the doors again after such a long time.
There’s something else on my heart. It is close to me because it’s where I work. Many years ago, already, people wanted to close Bonlé. It is painful when children tell parents that they should rather stop it. In the last few months God has done something great there and used people you least expected He would. In the Emseni group for July, Bonlé showed the greatest profit. Can you imagine this. It is a miracle where God has raised up something that many thought was dead. This makes me feel like flying. If God has put you somewhere, he puts you there to look after that place, he wants to know what you are doing there and where you are going? Friends, young people, God has called you, you may say God has called me to help here - how seriously are you taking His work? He says if you are faithful in the little I have given you, I will give you more. This is what God builds His foundation on. Make sure that your calling is from above, because it must be clear in a person’s life that he is true to his/her calling. It must be evident that the Lord has called you and the Lord is in it. God expects results.
I could mention one thing after another, but lastly, if you would see what God is doing at Maqhoko today, you may stop talking the way you do. There are two people there who are not farmers – but if you look at what is happening, you say nothing is impossible for God. He uses and does things which are contrary to our thoughts and imaginations. Rev Stegen has always said that that place is a paradise. Paradise is not made overnight. Things take time and patience and by God’s grace Rev Stegen is right. Things are growing there and bearing fruit. What is a generation compared to eternity? Even if it takes a generation to build up, God in His grace will do it. You may think some things are going lost; however, you must lose - the Bible says - to gain. A seed must die before it can bear fruit. We may think that things are going lost, but God is in control. When young people think they know more than the older people, it beats me. There is one thing that destroys God’s work and that is when we think we know. There is one thing that destroys God’s work. You do not know, which is why we have leaders to whom we can look up and learn from. You do not want to learn because you do not ask. We need older people. If you do not ask advice from older people, you will fall by the wayside. That’s why God has given us them.
33 Now many [people] saw them going and recognized them, and they ran there on foot from all the surrounding towns, and they got there ahead [of those in the boat]. 44 And those who ate the loaves were 5,000 men. 45 And at once He insisted that the disciples get into the boat and go ahead of Him to the other side to Bethsaida, while He was sending the throng away. 46 And after He had taken leave of them, He went off into the hills to pray. 47 Now when evening had come, the boat was out in the middle of the lake, and He was by Himself on the land. 48 And having seen that they were troubled and tormented in [their] rowing, for the wind was against them, about the fourth watch of the night [between 3:00-6:00 a.m.] He came to them, walking [directly] on the sea. And He acted as if He meant to pass by them, 49 But when they saw Him walking on the sea they thought it was a ghost, and raised a [deep, throaty] shriek of terror. 50 For they all saw Him and were agitated (troubled and filled with fear and dread). But immediately He talked with them and said, Take heart! I Am! Stop being alarmed and afraid. 51 And He went up into the boat with them, and the wind ceased (sank to rest as if exhausted by its own beating). And they were astonished exceedingly [beyond measure], 52 For they failed to consider or understand [the teaching and meaning of the miracle of] the loaves; [in fact] their hearts had grown callous [had become dull and had lost the power of understanding]. 53 And when they had crossed over, they reached the land of Gennesaret and] came to [anchor at] the shore. AMPC Mark 6:33,44-53
There is so much in this word. Not so long ago I spoke about the first few verses of this chapter where the Lord visited his own at Nazareth. They asked: Where did this Man acquire all this? What is the wisdom [the broad and full intelligence which has been] given to Him? What mighty works and exhibitions of power are wrought by His hands! 3 Is not this the Carpenter, the son of Mary and the brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? And are not His sisters here among us?
Friends, we can find ourselves in the same boat. Jesus came to his family, and they were astonished, and thought but we know this young man. They said he grew up with us. This is the mistake the human heart makes. We think we know a person. Who is he? He is our brother, our uncle, our age, he is our peer, but he speaks such good words. Where does he get them from? Who does he think he is? The Bible says that they were even hurt by what He said to them. If you always get hurt, ask yourself why. His own were hurt by what he said to them. Jesus told them the truth and that truth hurt them, just like you when you are hurt when people speak the truth. For them, He was just the carpenter’s son. He was not even the carpenter, but just the son. Do you know what shocked me? It was because of their reaction that He could do no work of power amongst them. Read the text yourself. Have you not spoken in this way? You say who is he? Who does he think he is? Look at how he is wasting money. You despise him. No wonder God cannot work in your heart! You do not recognise that it is God himself. They considered him as just a carpenter’s son. No wonder God could not work in Capernaum because of their attitude and state of heart. The Bible says they stumbled and fell. (Mark 6:3) These were those who should have flocked to Him, but they stumbled and fell. It does not take a long time for a man’s heart to harden.
6 And He marvelled because of their unbelief (their lack of faith in Him). Mark 6:6 The Biblical term of unbelief represents two things: disobedience and distrust – you distrust all that He does. There is a question mark behind all He does. The Lord described them as they were. Are there people who are disobedient in our midst? You have unbelief, you distrust what is happening. You are spiritually dead. When last did the Lord speak to you? When last did your soul wake up with a song and you realised that God was speaking to you? Be careful. You live here like a family. You get used to the preaching but somehow your heart hardens, and you become disobedient to what God tells you to do. Your heart becomes hard. Prove yourself, test yourself. Does Jesus live in your heart? Are there grudges? Is there hatred? Is there distrust? Is there criticism? Yet, you say you are on the road. You are lying. If Jesus is in your heart, it will be clear that you are making progress. Are there no question marks that you walk around with? You begin to distrust others and because you distrust Him others must also distrust Him. We are called to help such people so that they are saved.
These days we had a wonderful time with the workers. We slaughtered a fattened ox and then invited others to join us. I must say my workers make better food (and ‘dombolo’) than the kitchen here! We ate very well. An overseas visitor was with us and he said to me that what we see today reminded him of when he first came to the mission and they met and ate together with the black people. Then they noticed that things developed and they were always taken apart from the black people. We eventually began to believe that whites knew better and that the others had gone astray. They lost the important fact that the Lord works among the Zulu people and if one separates oneself from them, one will lose out. Zulu people, do you realise that Rev Stegen was sent for you? Do not lose that blessing and push it aside but take what you have been given to a blessing to other nations. Yesterday I visited a family near Nkangala near Maphumulo with my children. We greeted and talked and then the lady said something to my children. I hope they have ears to hear and never forget. This grandmother said, “My children, listen carefully. Go and visit black families.” I realised that this is God’s message to us. When last did you visit a family that is not your own? White people must learn this.
The Lord left Nazareth without doing any mighty works because of their unbelief. In this same chapter the disciples preached and God worked with them. In this chapter as well, Herod married Herodias, his brother’s wife. (There is so much adultery in the world, so much filth. People who have a lot to say and write, may be hiding their own sins.) John reprimanded Herod for doing that and Herodias hated John for that. She had murderous thoughts about how to get rid of him. The people who harbour grudges, get angry and criticise and are often the people to whom the Lord has spoken but they cannot bow. One day Herod celebrated his birthday where Herodias’s daughter danced. That dance changed everything. What effect does dancing have on you who dance and those who watch you? Herod was filled with lust when he saw his ‘daughter’ dancing. He was so gripped by her - which suggests to us that she must have been a bad girl. Herod said that he would give her whatever she wanted as a reward for her dance - even half of his kingdom. He sold his own soul because of lust. He was fooled because of lust. The mother saw her chance to fulfil her hatred and her grudge. She got what she wanted and had John beheaded. A pure person can be seen, because there is something shining which is from above. You cannot fool people. TV and other things that you see are used by Satan to deceive and rob you of this purity. Guard it. The daughter of Herodias attracted people’s eyes as well as those of her father. It didn’t take time that Herod and his wife were expelled from that area after some time. That is the result of such a life. The daughter of Herodias followed her parents a few years later. Historians tell us that as she crossed a frozen river, she fell through the ice and her head was severed from her body.
Through all these events, Jesus was teaching His disciples. When they got to the other side, suddenly a multitude saw them. Look at how His own people criticised him, rejected him, but the crowds recognised Him as a man of God. How many years have you not been here, but your life is the same? It is still the same. There is no change. These people were foreigners, who did not belong to his own family or group, but who flocked to hear Him speak. We have got used to things, but if you have a burning heart, you will do whatever it takes to get help and to achieve that which God has for you. It depends on the attitude of your own heart. What is in your heart that you do not want to get rid of?
Then the Lord spoke to this crowd. It was getting late. The disciples suggested that Jesus send them home wondering what they would eat. Jesus then said something interesting: You disciples (nobody else), give them food. Perhaps this is where things went wrong.: They asked, Shall we go and buy 200 denarii [about forty dollars] worth of bread and give it to them to eat? Verse 37 For me, it was this question which exposed what was in their hearts. Maybe they should have rather asked, “Lord, what do You say, tell us and then we will do it.” They may have had a resistance in their hearts to what the Lord was saying and doing. 38 And He said to them, How many loaves do you have? Go and see. Verse 38 Do you know that your questions leave a question mark? Their question revealed the attitude of their hearts – their unbelief. It seemed impossible. But it is these situations that we find ourselves in which shake us up and measure our spiritual life. 38 And He said to them, How many loaves do you have? They answered that they had 5 loaves and 2 fish. Then the Lord said that it was enough. You do not need two hundred denarii, they had enough. They fed the people and it was abundant, more than what the disciples could dream of. We may often stop the Lord because of our unbelief, our so called ‘knowledge’ and ‘wisdom’.
After this He sent them to the other side. He insisted that they go to Bethsaida. The disciples possibly regarded Jesus as just their brother, not the one chosen by God. For me here they made the second mistake. They should have said, “Lord, we would rather wait for You until You come back, please.” Why I say this is because we find something similar when God told Moses to go without Him. In spite of Him assuring Moses that He would help them and make them victorious, Moses said, “Never! We will not move one step if You are not with us.” Apply this to yourself. Maybe the disciples really felt they should do what Jesus said - it was not wrong. Jesus felt the need to pray, not the disciples. The disciples then left and Jesus went up the mountain to pray.
Jesus must have seen His disciples and watched them from the mountain. The Lord knew that prayer is the answer in His life. We pray far too little. The Lord taught us when we were children that in everything we do, we should pray. I learned this the hard way. In the Lord’s prayer He taught his disciples how to pray. One line says – keep me from falling into temptation. We must pray in this way. No wonder we fall into temptation, because we do not pray this. I was tempted. I felt that everything was lost. That is when I learned that when that temptation comes, I say, “Lord, keep me, hold me.”
The disciples could have said, Lord, we will not go without You.” The Lord was praying for their hard hearts, and He allowed it to happen to shake them up. They fought against the storm. Everything was contrary to what they were doing. It was so hard and then Jesus walked on the water, and they thought He was a ghost. They shrieked, thinking He was ghost. When we get into difficulties and there is a tempest in our hearts and around us, we must be careful that we recognise the Lord when He comes with his answers. They did not see the Lord because of the turmoil they were experiencing. Jesus prayed and asked God that His disciples would wake up from this trouble they were in. 52 For they failed to consider or understand [the teaching and meaning of the miracle of] the loaves; [in fact] their hearts had grown callous [had become dull and had lost the power of understanding]. v52. Their hearts were hardened. That is why their question could have been wrong. In such a short time, they had become dull of hearing, something took place which is why the Lord had to shake them. The Lord was teaching them to keep their hearts pure all the time.
When last did the Lord reveal Himself to you? When last did He speak you? You have become dull. This happened to the disciples. You may have become hard, and you think you are right. This is a very dangerous place to be in. The Lord was shaking His own disciples out of their sleep. How can you soften the hearts of people when your own heart is hard? A preacher must live a holy life. Your preaching means nothing, you must be an example to others.
Jesus told His disciples to continue. Has Jesus told you to continue on your own? You want to go on with your business? Jesus leaves you to go ahead and prays. You can say that things are going well, Jesus is praying but in fact, You have left Him on His own. You can say that Jesus has said I must go, I must do it, but He is not with you. He is praying for you. This works until you meet the storms when you suddenly realise, what has happened to my life?
His disciples had become callous and hard hearted. If someone said that to you, you would be offended. They had maybe become proud because they had given people the food. Or perhaps they had become offended when Jesus told them you do it. That question of theirs? How can we feed so many people; we only have 200 denarii? They may have talked amongst themselves. What does He expect us to do? What does He think? Can’t He see we are so busy? You know what you talk about at home. You know what gossip is going on. They may have been exhausted and at that low point the Lord said, “You do it.” You like to tell others what to do but when Jesus tells you to do something, you do not want to do it. They may have failed to recognise Christ. What is a storm if He could have fed so many people? They should have cried out to the Lord. But they were rowing furiously. They should have gone to the Lord immediately.
These days my parents visited us. The Lord worked in my family and children using my parents. We could bow and accept the teaching of my parents. As I looked around, I saw the Lord visiting different families. I saw things happening and you realise that the Lord is visiting that family. Has Jesus of Nazareth come to your family and visited you? Are there excuses? You say they do not understand, they are old. We have our lives; why must they tell us what to do? The Lord visits families and people. May the Lord help you to bow and accept it when God visits. You can defend your children but blessed are the parents if they can bow and their children accept instruction.
Things will happen which will shake our lives. Instead of crying, turn to the Lord because He is teaching you something. Are you holding on to something that you should not hold onto?
Someone sent me a clip: A lady came to her pastor and said that she was leaving the church. He asked her why. She said because of the things people are doing – that person sleeps in church, that one is on the cell phone, those people are gossiping. They are all hypocrites. I cannot live with such people. It is better that I leave. The pastor asked her to do him a favour. He asked her to take a glass, fill it with water and walk around the premises without losing a single drop. The lady did it and when she returned the pastor asked her whether she had seen the people gossiping, the person on his cell phone. The lady said that she was concentrating so much on the glass and therefore had not seen all those people. That is the secret. If you concentrate on the Lord, everything else grows dim. When you find the Lord, the people will see you and their lives will change because of you. You cannot have this glass in one hand and a cell phone in the other. One thing or another will take over. Keep your eyes on the author and finisher of your faith. Are you spiritually blunt? We lose many things because we are blunt to the things of God. Stop criticising others. Focus on the glass God has given you - Jesus the One whom you are holding.
When Jesus arrived on the other side, the Bible says the people recognised Him and He did great wonders. Be part of that group. Do not get used to things and become blunt. Beware of sin. It quenches that fire.
Conclusion Jabulani Dube. The one who has an ear will hear.
I was touched by the fact that the disciples thought they saw a ghost when in fact it was Jesus. We should not misinterpret God’s work as a ghost but see it as God. When God works in your heart, do not doubt and think other things, recognise Him as God. When God is at work, recognise Him. The words written in front of the auditorium say: Abide with us. The disciples did not realise the importance of that.
They even instructed the Lord to tell the people to go away because they did not have food for them. May the Lord help us that it is not the Lord who must follow us and our instructions. It is terrible when you do things without the Lord. Be sure that the Lord instructs you. You will lose out on much when the Lord is at work, and you think it is just a ghost and not the Lord.
This story is also found in Luke 5 v3. It relates to the same lake where Jesus found His disciples washing their nets. In 1965-66 when the revival began, this very word was read to us. Jesus told them to throw their nets into the deep for a catch. They responded and said that they had done all that. Our own mind and logic can get into the way. Discern who is instructing you. Later, on the lake, they thought Jesus was a ghost. The men on the road to Emmaus also did not recognise Him. When Jesus works people do not realise it is Him. When Jesus told them to get food, they told Jesus what He had to do. Are you a stingy person? Are you a Christian who is stingy? If someone enters your home, you do not even give him a glass of water. If a person asks for a glass of water, that means he is hungry – give them ‘tea’ which is a meal. Some like to visit those who have left, such people will come back with that same spirit of rebellion because that is what they consumed there.
Rev Stegen said about this word in Luke 5, if we want revival, we must go deeper with things. We went deeper in confession and prayer. A white person asked me yesterday what it means ‘to go deeper’? We also asked the question when we were young. If we did not understand, we would ask. We asked him, for example, why he did not pray the Lord’s prayer as other churches did. He said that he did not want to make people sin. The prayer says, forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. There are many who have not done this so they will sin more. Have you prayed this prayer, but you have not forgiven those who have sinned against you?
Simon Peter said, “Lord, at Your word we will do this.” They caught so many fish that their nets started to tear.
Do what you have heard in this service. Do what He has told you today. See what will happen. Jesus saw these disciples were hard. Are we hard in our obedience to the Lord? Do we do as He tells us? My eldest son was named Julani – which means go deeper. You must know what it means to go deeper. Young people, if you want victory over sin in your life, do this: Go into the deep. Your sins trouble you because you do not go deep. You confess and say, “I have hatred. I steal. I have bad thoughts.” You have not gone deep. Go deeper. When you do this, you will be completely saved. If you only say, “I am troubled by lust. I have bad dreams.” You will never be helped. You will see your confession like a ghost. Confess by saying exactly, “I tell lies. When I tell stories, I add spices. I have evil dreams. I dreamt this and that and that. I get angry. When someone speaks and I respond in short tempered way.” In this way you will remove the roots. You will remain a nominal Christian. When we confessed our sins, we went deep.
Do what the Lord tells you to do. If He tells you take the five loaves and two fish, do it. You may be afraid to testify about what the Lord has done but use the five loaves and two fish that you have and see how the Lord will use them. They caught so many fish because they obeyed Jesus. May we hear and not expect Jesus to follow us when we should follow Him.
Covid has taken away so much. It has swamped so many. People have become blunt because of Covid. People who were on fire for the Lord, have become blunt. Are you spiritually blunt?