Introduction Albu van Eeden
We greet you on this wonderful, glorious Sunday morning. It is very cold day today – something we still experience in even in October. Our hearts are warm and we thank God. In recent times due to Covid, we have been like people in a besieged city. In more ways than one Christians have been besieged. Today is the first Sunday that 750 people can gather in the church building. It is wonderful to be together - although many have already left to take part in the Stand for Life against abortion.
Rev Stegen has requested that Peter Töpfer, Johannes Hecker and Hans Hertel greet the congregation before the service.
Peter Töpfer: I thank the Lord that He opened the door for us. One cannot take for granted anymore that one can travel, but if the Lord opens the way then it is marvellous. I am from North Germany but lived in the Lüneburger Heide close to where the Stegens originally came from. I first came to KSB in 1984 and many times thereafter. Something I learned from the beginning at the mission is that if God’s blessing is gained, all is obtained – everything depends on God’s blessing. My prayer for myself and for you all is, “Lord, abide with us.” Thank you for the love we experience here. May the Lord richly bless you.
Hans Hertel: The last time I visited KSB was in 2020. When we returned home, all the borders were closed. We are glad to be back. We thank our Lord for opening the way. Thank you that we can stay here. It has been a blessed time. When I shared with our congregation about a month ago our plans to visit, there was a chorus of response that they would also love to come along as well. We trust that the Lord will give our German brethren a chance to come and experience what we are experiencing. They send greetings.
Johannes Hecker: I am so thankful that I am able to be here. My heart is full of joy and thankfulness. I want to use this opportunity to thank you, Uncle Erlo and the coworkers who have been faithful through the years to the revival and the gospel. We are thankful that God is helping us at home. I pass on greetings from my home and the brethren there. This morning I visited the new water factory and the new hot houses with my daughter. It really touched my heart. God is at work. My prayer is that this revival will never stop. Thank you for all your prayers. I have heard that some are praying for us and for me daily and God is answering those prayers. Thank you that I can be here. May God bless you.
I am still very young. We look up to you who have stood with this work. We honour them for it and we want to follow their example.
I would like to read a few verses from the book of Timothy. I have recently been reading both books of Timothy. It has been a blessing to me. I read it repeatedly. If you have time, read these books. Both are short. There is so much in the books – a bit of everything. Paul teaches Timothy certain things. He warns him of false teaching in the church. He speaks about God’s mercy. I underlined 1 Tim 1:19 a few years back. 19 Cling to your faith in Christ and keep your conscience clear. Some days are easy and some are difficult. It was a difficult day at that time when I opened my Bible and read this verse. Hold onto your faith. It can feel as if it is not there, you can feel lost. Cling to your faith. At that time, I said, “Lord, that is what I will do.” Hold on but also, keep your conscience clear - if there is anything between you and the Lord, get it out of the way.
Paul wrote the first book of Timothy about 3 years before he was executed. The second book was written in prison while waiting for execution. He gives Timothy the last instructions. He tells him what is important. There is the saying Speak the truth like a dying man – he said that these things Timothy must remember. This is my last advice to you.
12 That is why I am suffering here in prison. But I am not ashamed of it, for I know the one in whom I trust, and I am sure that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him[a] until the day of his return.
13 Hold on to the pattern of wholesome teaching you learned from me—a pattern shaped by the faith and love that you have in Christ Jesus. 14 Through the power of the Holy Spirit who lives within us, carefully guard the precious truth that has been entrusted to you. 2 Timothy 1:12-14 (NLT)
Paul speaks about himself. He says I know. He does not speak about his family members. He does not speak about his church or Bible study group, but about himself, I know. He speaks for himself. I have made the decision. I am not following a group. I am not doing what my parents have told me. I have made the decision. Young people have you made that decision? If the Lord removes everyone around you, would you still say, “I will follow the Lord.” If the Lord puts me in a different place, will I still say, “I serve the Lord, no matter what.”
For this reason I also suffer these things; nevertheless I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day. 1 Timothy 1:12 (NKJV) Paul says in another translation that I am persuaded…I am sure. When you are persuaded, you do not make a sudden decision. You have listened, have read, have reasoned and only then have you made a decision. You have considered all the possibilities. You have calculated the cost. It is a good thing to calculate the cost. We must know that if we serve the Lord, things will happen. There will be opposition and difficulties.
I recently spoke to someone who said that every time he feels that he should do something which the Lord has told him to do, he experiences opposition. Something always seems to go wrong. It can be like this. The devil attacks and discourages. As Christians, we must know that this will be there. Temptation will be there. When you are persuaded, you have considered everything. You have taken everything into account. You have made your decision. You will do this, otherwise things may surprise you. Paul said that he was persuaded. He had made the decision. He would not change from his decision whether he landed in prison, or faced execution. I once asked someone how it is possible that a person can make a decision and after some years, begin doubting? After a while, the person is no longer sure and asks questions. The person responded by saying, “Never allow a question in your heart about that which you have decided in your heart.”
For example: I was in a situation where something happened in the Lord’s work and it did not make sense to me. You can have that question in your heart and with time, it will grow and eventually tip the scale to the other side. I had this question. I told a man of God about this. I brought it to the light and explained what did not make sense to me. Such a question can be answered after speaking and prayer. I believe every person with a pure motive will receive an answer. Not if they go with their preconceived ideas but rather with an attitude of ‘help me to understand and accept it’. I have never been disappointed in that. Do not allow a question in your heart.
I am persuaded. Charles Spurgeon talks about ‘the almost-persuaded-Christian’. The one who has almost made a decision, but not quite. Such a person may not want to take the final step. It is worse to be almost persuaded because there is always this doubt in your mind.
I am persuaded and nothing will take me off course. How could Paul make such a bold statement? …for I know the one in whom I trust…There is a relationship between Him and me. I know many people, but they do not know me. I know Him and He knows me. Is your relationship a living one or is it a matter of just knowing Him? Paul said I know Him. I speak to Him, and He speaks to me. I am prepared to give Him everything - which includes my soul. It can also refer to what I have and do -my mind, my talents - I entrust it to Him. Everything is required. If I am not prepared to give all, I may be worse off than giving nothing. Do not ever take back what you have given Him. Very often people start with big intentions but somewhere along the line they decide to do things differently.
Johnny Cash was born in 1932 and he died in 2003. He associated with important people. He once sang with Elvis Presley. He was raised by his parents in Christianity. As a 12-year-old child he was baptised and he also lost his brother that year and often said he would meet his brother in heaven. His early memories were dominated by gospel music. He was taught guitar by his mother and a childhood friend. He began playing and writing songs at the age of 12. He must have had something spiritual. He later released an album ‘My Mother’s Hymns’. He wanted to sing for the Lord.
In 1954, at 22 years, he worked up the courage to visit Sun records studio hoping to get a contract. He auctioned by singing mostly gospel songs. The producer said that he no longer recorded gospel music. It was rumoured that the producer told him to sin and then return with a song he could sell. Cash eventually won over the producer in his usual rockabilly style. He came to the producer with gospel and the producer asked for worldly music which would sell. What went through his mind? What did he think? It must have been a crossroad in his life – do I continue with what I was brought up with, or do I change direction? Do I give the talent God gave me to Him or do I take it into my own hands? What is going through your mind, young person? Is it your mind or God’s?
Cash made his first recordings which were released on the country’s hit parade. He was successful. It does not mean if you are successful, you have done the right thing. Between 1956 – 1976 he released 13 number one hits. He recorded 96 albums and over 1500 songs. In 1967 he was deeply addicted to medication which he took by the handful several times a day. He was known for nervousness and erratic behaviour. He drank heavily. Although he was spiralling out of control, he could still produce songs because of his creativity. He landed in jail 7 times for short spells. His first wife divorced him because of drug and alcohol abuse and adultery. When we take back what we have given God, this will be the result. He is a well-known singer, he was successful, but he was lost. If God has given us something for His purpose and we turn away from that, it will be our curse.
“I was in and out of jail, hospitals and car wrecks. I was a walking vision of death and that is exactly how I felt,” Cash wrote in his autobiography. He started off well, but he took a turn. His drug abuse isolated him from his family, friends and colleagues, so Cash felt abandoned, lonely and completely hopeless. In early October 1967, he decided to take his own life. “I never wanted to see another dawn. I had wasted my life; I had drifted far away from God and every stabilising force in my life that I ever felt there was. I felt there was no hope for me. My separation from Him was the most ravaging kind of loneliness. I had drifted far away from God.”
I am persuaded that that which I have given God, He will keep. In my Bible there is a little footnote: what I have entrusted to him[a] Or what has been entrusted to me. (NLT) Various translations put it like this: That which He has entrusted to me. I had never seen this verse in this way. Forgive me if I use the wrong words. Remember it is not a matter of me putting all in front of the Lord and saying, “Lord, You do as you see fit.” Then I sit back and say “Lord, it is in Your hands, it is up to You.” This translation says that that which He has given me, what will I do with it? This is a sobering thought - I have a responsibility. There are things that have been entrusted to me. The Lord wants to see what I do with it. Yes, He will keep it, but I can turn away from it. When God put Adam and Eve in the garden, He told them about the tree, but also that He did not want them to eat from it. It was not His will that they should eat from the tree, yet God did not hide the tree. Somehow, He put it in front of them and said, “You make the decision.” The Lord has given us the ability to make decisions. I can decide what I will do now but I will bear the consequences. Daily, weekly. What is your decision-making like? How do you make decisions? Are you conscious of the fact that the Lord has given you the ability to make a decision, but you can make the wrong one? It is good to know this and to take care of it every minute of the day so that you do not go against what the Lord wants. The Lord has given you a mind and the ability to make decisions, you must stick to that.
The Lord has given you a body. When He created your body, He decided what you would look like. You had no say in it; the Lord decided it. He decided the colour you would be. He decided whether you would be male or female. Do not despise what God created. It is a slap in His face if you say “Lord, you made a mistake, it should not have been like this.” He gave you a body and the responsibility for it.
The Lord has given us other responsibilities - things we are responsible for and busy with daily, things our hands must do. Wherever you are, there are responsibilities. Christians are called to excellence. Why should we do things worse than the world? Why should we not be an example to the world? God wants to see how you handle things and care for them. You may work with equipment in God’s work. Are you responsible when using that equipment? God may have given you money, are you responsible in this? What have you done with that which God has put in your hands? If someone borrows my car and returns it the following day covered in dents, what would you think? Would you lend that person your car again? What do you do with that which God has put into your hands? Maybe that is the reason why He cannot give you more.
God may have put you in a marriage. He entrusts you with that and has laid that responsibility on you. What have you done with that? How do you treat that responsibility? Can God say that the marriage you have been entrusted with you treat responsibly? What will it be like when God says that you have not demonstrated responsibility in that marriage? A young man may hear the Lord’s voice when the Lord shows him whom he should marry but that is the last time he hears God’s voice.
You may have been entrusted with a family. The family is the foundation of the gospel. God can work in a family. It should always be God first, then our family. Our children have been entrusted to us, especially those small children. Someone once said: When your child is born, he does not know the Lord. There is no relationship with the Lord. A two- or three-year-old does not have a living relationship with God, but the child has a relationship with the mother, father or caretaker. They are like that child’s god. The parents are the only authority the child knows. If a parent asks the child to do something, and he does not then the parent is teaching the child how to respond to God. The way in which a child is obedient to the parent is the way that that child will serve God. He learns from the parent how to serve God. It is no wonder that some children serve the Lord in their own way because that is the way the parents raised them. They answer back because the parents taught them to. When they get older, why are you surprised by their behaviour?
When we grew up, we had one meal a day together. There was no time in the morning, or at lunch but at supper we were together. Everyone had to be there. We would eat and talk about the day and then my father read the Bible. Nowadays, parents do not even know where their children are. “Mother, where are your children?” “Probably somewhere.” A boy does not even come home at night, only the following morning. It should be different in a Christian home because we have been given the responsibility from God.
I attended athletics in Durban yesterday. It sometimes seemed that the parents were more excited than the children. They seem more excited about the medal than the athlete. They may even run further than the child next to the track. When I was at school, one mother screamed so loudly for her son across the field when he played rugby, that the child was totally embarrassed. He said to his mother that he would simply stop playing if she continued doing that. Parents do everything for their child to perform at maximum level. They shout. They ensure the correct diet. They see to the child’s needs. They make sure the child gets the necessary attention when he is injured. Parents want the best for their children. Do parents have the same zeal for the child’s spiritual life? Do parents ask their children how things are going spiritually and whether they are alright? Do they find out whether something is troubling them? “I see you limping, can I get you a bandage?” (I mean this spiritually.) Parents, your children are limping, but you do not give them anything. You can see that your child is not where he should be spiritually. Sometimes parents need to take steps as well. Are parents more eager about their spiritual well-being than anything else? No wonder children do strange things later and people ask but how did we get here? When things are not going well with your child, ask your child how things are going spiritually?
14 Through the power of the Holy Spirit who lives within us, carefully guard the precious truth that has been entrusted to you. We have been entrusted with the Holy Spirit. Does your life please or grieve the Holy Spirit? We need to guard it as if our lives depended on it.
11 But you, Timothy, are a man of God; so run from all these evil things. Pursue righteousness and a godly life, along with faith, love, perseverance, and gentleness. 1 Timothy 6:11 You are a man of God, so run from all these evil things. You need to run from evil. It does not say that you are strong, it will not affect you, but because you are a man of God you need to run from evil. A man of God stands for years and then falls. Why? He thought he was strong. Guard that which God has entrusted to you. Guard it and take heed until the day you stand before him and He can say, “Well done, my faithful child.” If not, the consequences will be dreadful.
Conclusion Dietmar Joosten
Many stumble and wobble because they do not keep that which He has entrusted to them. He has entrusted young girls with purity, do you look after it?
Others suffer because people who were entrusted with things were not faithful.
Paul suffered because of Christ. Such suffering is upbuilding and motivating. Paul was unashamed. Things that cause us suffering and things which are difficult are actually stepping stones to the other side. They build you up and do not break you down. Young person, God has trusted you with things so that the day you get married, you will be a bride without blemish. God has entrusted you as a wife to respect and honour your husband. The world teaches the opposite - women have rights, children have rights (but men do not have rights). Do the opposite of what the world teaches you. God has entrusted you with something special.
There are two types of suffering. One is when you experience hardships as a Christian and when other Christians oppose you. The other one is when you allow sin in your life. Look at your life. The day you began looking at porn resulted in so much suffering because of the things you committed.
If you are honest, you will forget about others and what they are doing and turn your eyes upon Jesus and know Him as you did in the beginning. You keep noticing: Why did that person go there? What is he doing? This is the topic of conversation. You worry about everyone else and forget about yourself. Concentrate on your own life and forget about others. See to it that your relationship with God is right.
I once spoke to a lady of over 80 years old. She said that she had had an abortion as a young girl but as an old woman of 80 she could not forget her deed. She had been through such suffering. She remembered the child’s birthday and how old the child would be. Therefore, we encourage Christians to march for life. We stand for life because God is life. God may have entrusted you with something precious, an unborn child, but you have cut its throat and torn it to pieces. Such suffering draws you closer to hell - except if you receive forgiveness for it.
Paul suffered for the sake of the gospel. This suffering brought him closer to his Maker. May your suffering draw you closer to God.
Listen to what God has entrusted to you: The concordance says that another reason Paul could so confidently say this was because of the peace in his heart. He had done terrible things, but he had experienced forgiveness and had received peace. Do you have peace?