Introduction Albu van Eeden
Today is the day of the Lord. In the Old Testament, a king of Israel faced an enemy host. He cried to the Lord for grace because they had no power. We face hosts of demonic forces if we are determined to follow the Lord. Let us use this service to receive what we need, to equip us for this battle. Let us ensure that God is with us. May God strengthen us in our faith as we face the new week.
May the Lord speak. It is not what we do but what the Lord does. May He work through His Holy Spirit and speak to each one of us.
It is wonderful to serve the living God. I wish every person could experience it - not just Christians but the world. He is alive. There are many things to be thankful for. There are some who can thank Him for the way things are going in their business, for their parents, for the people around them, but what we all can thank God for is for keeping us – that we could wake up this morning. We can thank Him for His daily blessings.
What makes life special? Yes, serving the Lord. He makes it special. Living for Him and finding His peace makes life special. What around me makes life special? Is it the car I drive or the house I live in? It is the people around us that make life special - especially the Christians. To be one in Christ and have fellowship with one another; to lift one another up and help one other. Is it not wonderful to be together in God’s work? I considered the older people who continue showing us this way. They do not take us back to where we came from but take us forward. They are steadfast in what God has shown us. May we appreciate and carry them in prayer. May we go forward and continue in His work. Wherever you are used by God in this world, go forward. It is wonderful to be part of God’s family.
The next day there was a wedding celebration in the village of Cana in Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there, 2 and Jesus and his disciples were also invited to the celebration. 3 The wine supply ran out during the festivities, so Jesus’ mother told him, “They have no more wine.”
4 “Dear woman, that’s not our problem,” Jesus replied. “My time has not yet come.”
5 But his mother told the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”
6 Standing nearby were six stone water jars, used for Jewish ceremonial washing. Each could hold twenty to thirty gallons. 7 Jesus told the servants, “Fill the jars with water.” When the jars had been filled, 8 he said, “Now dip some out, and take it to the master of ceremonies.” So the servants followed his instructions. 9 When the master of ceremonies tasted the water that was now wine, not knowing where it had come from (though, of course, the servants knew), he called the bridegroom over. 10 “A host always serves the best wine first,” he said. “Then, when everyone has had a lot to drink, he brings out the less expensive wine. But you have kept the best until now!”
11 This miraculous sign at Cana in Galilee was the first time Jesus revealed his glory. And his disciples believed in him. John 2:1-11
This is the account of the first miracle Jesus did on earth. God is a God of miracles. I once heard a preacher say that miracles were for Bible times, and that modern times are different. That is far from the truth. God still does miracles daily. The sad thing is that we miss them.
3 The wine supply ran out during the festivities, so Jesus’ mother told him, “They have no more wine.”
Mary told Jesus that there was a problem because there was no more wine. Up until this time Jesus had performed no miracles. Although his mother knew that He was destined for something great, she had not yet seen anything. She did not know how or when He would reveal his power, but she knew something.
It is not known why Mary told this to Jesus. It would seem that she had a belief that he was able to supply it, though he had as yet worked no miracle. Barnes
Mary believed He could do something, maybe He would, maybe He would not - but she believed He could. What is my belief like? In my daily walk, in whatever I face, what is it like? Do I believe as I should? Do I have what God expects or is my life filled with unbelief? Why did Mary believe? It is often written of Mary that she kept things in her heart.
19 but Mary kept all these things in her heart and thought about them often. Luke 2:19
Mary kept what she saw, she kept the good things and the promises in her heart. One translation says that she pondered over it - meaning to think about something carefully before you make a decision. Mary’s decisions were made on past experiences with Jesus. She kept in her heart what was foretold and that which happened and had expectations for the future. She knew that He would one day reveal Himself.
She did not fill her heart with everything that went wrong. She did not fill her heart with the fact that Jesus was born in a stable. She never reminded people about it. She did not fill her heart with injustices - someone who did not speak in the right manner, things that did not go as planned, when she was done in. No, we do not hear any of that. Instead, all the good things she kept in her heart and thought about them often.
The Lord has done so much - do we think about it, do we keep it? When I decide something, do I consider how the Lord helped me in the past? I remember what the Lord showed me in the past. Do we do that often enough? If our hearts are filled with the wrong memories and things, it is no wonder that we do not see God’s miracles. If your heart is full of what others have done wrong, no wonder you cannot see His miracles. I am not saying that these things do not exist, but what do I keep in my heart? This will determine how I go forward.
A Professor did an experiment: With one group if 10 people he repeatedly told them that Monday was the worst day of the week – a real blue Monday. With another group of 10 students he repeatedly told them that Monday was the best day of the week. After a while, he conducted a questionnaire. He asked the groups how their Monday was going. The 10 who were always told that it was the best day of the week, had had a good experience but the others reported a terrible experience. In the same way, we store in our hearts the wrong things that pull us down; we remind ourselves of the bad things; we keep the negative and not the positive and what God’s doing - then we cannot understand why our lives are not joyful as they should be.
Jesus’ response to Mary was: what have I to do with you? Mary saw a problem and she wanted to help but she receives this response from Jesus! What would our reaction have been to such a response? What have I to do with you? What was Mary’s reaction? She took the reproof very submissively and did not reply to it. Jesus spoke to her in the same manner as when He was hanging on the cross. He said, ‘Woman, there is your son.’ As the Lord wants it, you are not in control… Very often we can take offense at something like this.
She took the reproof very submissively and did not reply to it. It is best not to deserve reproof from Christ, but next best to be meek and quiet under it, and to count it a kindness. Matthew Henry
Count it a kindness. We want to, we strive to do what is right but sometimes we make mistakes. When we make the mistake and it is pointed out, we should take it quietly and see it as a kindness. I may have responded and said, ‘I just wanted to help. I wanted to do good. Why am I treated like that? If that is the case, I will not do anything.’ Mary did not react like that. Instead, 5 But his mother told the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” I have often read this and could not understand it. Jesus told her that He was not going to do anything. “My time has not yet come.” He even reproves her in a way. But Mary tells the servant to do whatever He told them. It is amazing what she says, how she takes His reproof and how she continues in her belief. She did not push, force or repeat herself, she simply said, ‘Do whatever He tells you.’
Why did she say that? She was open to God’s working. She reckoned with Jesus. She reckoned with what He could do. She was expecting something. She knew He could do something. If it was His will, He would do it, there was no doubt in her mind.
That could have been what the Lord saw. How would we have reacted? Would we have been down in the dumps thinking here is a problem and nothing will happen. Mary was convinced that Jesus was able to do something. She prepared everyone so that they were ready, in case Jesus wanted to do something. How often do we not miss the mark? When the situation looks dull and there is no hope, I lose all. If my belief is where it should be in that challenging situation, I should expect the most.
I was once with a man of God when he received terrible news. Another person who was also there commented that it was a hopeless situation. But this man said, ‘I cannot wait to see what God will do.’ I cannot wait to see what God will do in this hopeless situation. How often we miss the mark?
8 And he did not do many mighty works there, because of their unbelief. Matthew 13:58
Jesus did not do more miracles because of their unbelief. What is our belief like? Are we like these people who stop God from working, people who bind His hands? We do not believe He can do something in the situation. That is possibly why we do not experience it.
Mary had an expectation of Jesus and that could have been why He did His first miracle. I shudder to think how often we stand in God’s way and cause Him not to do what He wanted to. Do you believe that God can do anything? Is He in control of everything? Sometimes things go wrong in our perception of things, they do not happen as we think they should, but sometimes even in that there can be a miracle. In that terrible situation, there are blessings. There are blessings upon blessings and we hold onto those blessings.
6 Standing nearby were six stone water jars, used for Jewish ceremonial washing. Each could hold twenty to thirty gallons.
These jars were used for ceremonial washing. The Jews believed that when you came into a house you needed to wash your hands and face. These were the wrong jars for wine. Would you want to drink from a jar that was used to wash your face? It was dirty. Jesus said that they should fill those jars with water. He did not explain that He would change the water into wine. He just said that they should be filled. 20-30 gallons of water is between 75-115 litres. 6 jars would have been between 480-600 litres. That is a lot of water. It was a lot of work to fill them, even if they were half full. Jesus could have filled the jars and changed the water into wine with just one word. But He first told them to do something. You do it, it is hard work but then I will do the miracle.
Very often the Lord tells us to do something and then He multiplies it. Sometimes we also need to work. I need to do my part. I cannot fold my arms and say, ‘Lord, You do the miracle.’ Very often God expects us to pick up our feet and hands and do something. And when we do it as God tells us to, not our own thing, then He blesses it. Very often, even when it does not make sense, yet when we do it, God blesses it.
I remember some years back a farmer donated a load of 30-40 tons of potatoes. We calculated that if we used so much in the kitchen and then stored away part of the load for the youth conference, which was about 2-3 months away, we would have enough for the next few months. They were the most delicious potatoes I have ever had. The Lord helped us to get a refrigerated container to store them in. We packed them carefully. Early one morning Rev Stegen came to me and said that the potatoes must all be given away that day. He said that people should be sent to the neighbours to tell them to come and fetch potatoes.
Imagine what thoughts go through your mind. You know Rev Stegen, you know that he is a man of God and we said, ‘No problem, it will be done.’ People were sent out to tell the neighbours and for the whole morning we distributed potatoes. All our hard work and plans were gone. We emptied the container, even the loose potatoes lying around were given out. All the people left. We closed the container door and I walked away. I was possibly 50m from the container when my phone rang. Someone asked if we could please come and pick up 3-4 times the amount of potatoes we had previously received. Just imagine the timing. Rev Stegen was obedient and distributed potatoes. We even had to get new containers to fit in all the potatoes.
Very often God wants you to do something first. He wants you to do something out of obedience - whether it makes sense or not. If you can do that then there will be a blessing. Are we obedient like that? Jesus said, ‘Fill the jars to the brim.’ Whenever we get a command from God it should be carried out zealously. They filled the jars to the brim. There are 2 ways of filling a water bottle - you can fill it up until it begins to run almost over.
In fulfilling Christ's commands, my dear brethren and sisters, let us go to their widest extent: let us fill them up to the brim. If it is "Believe," oh, believe him with all your might; trust him with your whole heart. If it is "Preach the gospel," preach it in season and out of season; and preach the gospel-the whole of it. Fill it up to the brim. Do not give the people a half gospel. Give them a brimming-over gospel. Fill the vessels up to the very brim. If you are to repent, ask to have a hearty and a deep repentance-full to the brim. If you are to believe, ask to have an intense, absolute, childlike dependence, that your faith may be full to the brim. If you are bidden pray, pray mightily: fill the vessel of prayer up to the brim. If you are to search the Scriptures for blessing, search them from end to end: fill the Bible-reading vessel up to the brim. Christ's commands are never meant to be done in a half-hearted manner. Let us throw our whole soul into whatever he commands us, even though, as yet, we cannot see the reason why he has set us the task. Christ's commands should be fulfilled with enthusiasm, and carried out to the extreme, if extreme be possible. (https://www.blueletterbible.org/Comm/spurgeon_charles/sermons/1556.cfm)
Th miracle of turning water into wine: They took what they had a lot of and it was made into something special – the best wine. Something better than anything that can be imagined. Have you allowed God to do this in your life? Have you been obedient to what He tells you? Have you experienced that water changing into wine - so that we can experience his miracles?
Allow me to conclude with a final story which happened not too long ago. One of the patients of a doctor contracted cancer. The patient told the doctor that he could treat him but that he was going for prayer that the Lord would help him. The doctor said that it did not work that way. He said, ‘God gives me wisdom to treat you and then you will healed.’ The man went for prayer, nevertheless.
Not long thereafter, the doctor himself was diagnosed with cancer. The man returned and said, ‘Are you prepared to go for prayer? You told me earlier that it was not how it worked. But will you go now?’ The doctor agreed.
The man brought the doctor to Rev Stegen. He first phoned, made an appointment and explained the situation and was told to come. The man drove quite a distance to see Rev Stegen and he was not with him for very long. Rev Stegen told the man to return home and write down everything on a piece of paper that he had ever done wrong and told him to return the following day. Just think of getting an instruction like that in this day and age. This man was a qualified doctor and a learned man. He could have said that he was being treated like a child. But he left and returned the following day with his paper. He saw Rev Stegen and then he left. Shortly after that, perhaps a month or two afterwards, this doctor returned and told us what had happened. The doctor underwent all the scans and was checked but no cancer was found in his body.
When you tell a man to write everything down, and then return and I will pray for you - you require faith to obey. You must believe that the Lord can heal you. You cannot do it and think that nothing will happen. Rev Stegen must have believed that God could do it and in obedience to God he did it. God did a miracle through that.
What are our lives like? Do we believe in Him? Do we trust the Lord? Do we live such lives that He can tell us to do things and there will be results? Do I believe in God’s miracles, in my life every day, what He does for me and those around me? What He does for His work?
In the text, the one who took the wine to the wedding feast did not even know about the miracle. Jesus did not make a scene. He did not tell those around Him that He was going to do a miracle. It was done in the background, in the quiet. The man asked, ‘Where does this come from?’
If we are faithful where God has put us, doing that which He commands, sometimes we need to do it but tell no one. If we are where God wants us, doing what He wants, the world will be blessed. It is not wrong to tell the world and praise Him openly but sometimes we just have to do that in the place where He has placed us. Then the people with whom we are in contact will ask, ‘Where does this wine come from?” That is how it should be. Are our lives like that? If not, let us do something about it.
Conclusion Albu van Eeden
It could be that in your whole life up until today, it seems like the Lord has been telling you, ‘What have I to do with you?’ You have struggled with alcohol and immorality, and it seems as if the Lord cannot change you. You have settled with idea that there is no help for you, you cannot be saved from these sins. You cannot be saved from your anger. Remember that the best wine came at the last moment. Even though your whole life has been tasteless and full of sin, God can change it into wine.
Allow me to close with an incident that happened within the last month in Zavara. A man met the Lord and repented 5 years ago. He asked brother Mario to speak to his family about the gospel. Many of his family members also repented. He had an uncle who was a drunkard but also a pastor. He mixed religion and ancestral worship and he was very immoral. On a Friday night, this Christian man had a dream. A voice said, ‘Your uncle is very sick and may be dying soon. Go and tell him to repent from his evil ways and come to Christ.’ He thought he could go on the weekend. On the Saturday night he dreamed again. The voice said again, ‘Go and speak to your uncle and tell him to repent’. So very early on Sunday morning he visited his uncle. He repented in dust and ashes, and he requested prayer because he had lived an evil life. The uncle asked a few times that some of the co-workers could visit him so he could get rid of his witchcraft. They burned everything. More than a week later, he passed away. His family contacted the mission and asked one of them to take the funeral service. He died as a Christian. He repented. He said that at his funeral he did not want any witchcraft or alcohol. He wanted a Christian burial. Yoann Escach took the funeral. There were 300 people at his funeral.
Friends, at the last moment, God turned his water into wine. God is not powerless to change your water into wine. We serve a living God. If He has spoken through this service and He commands you to surrender your life to Him, bring your sins to him and confess them, do not say God has been unable to help me all these years. God saved the criminal on the cross minutes before he died. Maybe God planned this service today for you in order that you realise that your life can end with the best wine there ever can be. Heed the voice of the Lord. Come to Christ. Do not say I have tried many times and His only words are, ‘I don’t know you. What do your problems have to do with Me?’ No, today He can change your water into wine. The living God can do this. Heed his call. Let God change your life.