God’s perspective on life

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Introduction Michael Ngubane
We greet you in the wonderful name of our Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ. We are so grateful for this privilege of meeting together. We often go to God crying and pleading, but we often cry when we should be thanking Him. We thank God that He has given us the opportunity to meet in His house. We greet those in every corner of the globe, listening today. A while back, I heard from a Christian from the UK who said, “It is cold here. It is winter in the north and there is snow, but despite the weather, I am listening to Radio Khwezi.” If you are listening from the UK, we welcome you (and everyone else in the UK) and in every region and country where you may be listening.

I have been considering the children of Israel when they left Egypt. Moses led them. Despite the great difficulties behind them God carried them through everything. He sent Moses to lead them out of Egypt. There were problems ahead of them and problems that followed them. If you are surrounded by problems, what do you do? God, the great, almighty God opened a way where it was impossible. There were such large volumes of water in the sea, but God opened a way before them so they could walk on dry ground. The human mind cannot grasp it. The sea parted and the soil underneath (that had been wet for many, many years) became dry and the people could walk across. As they reached the other side, they thanked God. Who is like Him who was able to take them through those waters and who was able to drown the enemies in those waters. There is no God like Him. He is a God whom we should serve and honour.

Albu van Eeden
Do we have God’s perspective on life and the things that happen to us, or do we have a human perspective or even the devil’s perspective? The devil will try and convince you, together with those who serve him on earth, to see things through his eyes and the eyes of the world. Blessed is the person who, in everything that happens, looks at things the way God does.

In the story of Joseph, Israel had suffered slavery in Egypt for 400 years. Egypt was the epitome of the worst slavery and suffering that Israel had ever had. Man’s perspective would have been: Who is responsible for landing us in this land of slavery? Is it not Joseph? Joseph is the one. He is the one who led this nation into slavery because he brought Jacob and his children to Egypt. Joseph brought a curse onto this nation. We remember the mistake Joseph made. No, this is not how God views it. God spoke to their ancestor Abraham and said, “The place where you are now, I will give to your children to inherit but not now. They must first suffer as slaves until the cup of the evil of these nations where you are now, is filled. After which I will lead them to the Promised Land.”

It is easy to say that Joseph was selected to bring a curse on the nation, just like Judas about whom it was predicted that he would betray the Lord. No, friends, Joseph was not a Judas. He did not serve the devil; he served the Lord. Joseph had a blessed life. He overcame sin - to such an extent that when Jacob blessed his sons, the two sons of Joseph, Ephraim and Manasseh, were blessed with the other sons of Jacob and became part of the nation of Israel.

As we go through life, do we have God’s perspective on life or are we defeated? Everything we see and look at is just one big defeat for me. If we have Satan’s perspective on life, we will see everything as defeated. We will have a defeatist attitude. What must we do to change and be set free from this?

9 For we are slaves. Yet our God has not forsaken us in our slavery but has extended to us his steadfast love before the kings of Persia, to grant us some reviving to set up the house of our God, to repair its ruins, and to give us protection in Judea and Jerusalem. Ezra 9:9

I selected this verse because it summarises what happened to Israel when they came out slavery from Persia, when they were led back to Jerusalem by God to rebuild its walls. This verse speaks of the absolute destruction of Jerusalem when they were taken captive to Persia. Ezra does not say, for you have taken us to be slaves for a certain period. He says, …for we are slaves. God promised that Israel would never serve another nation if they served Him. They would get slaves from other nations, but they would never be slaves. When He gave them the laws of Moses, He said, “You will be the head, not the tail.” But in this text, Israel was so destroyed, so beaten by God, that Ezra says, “We are slaves (not for a short period) we are slaves.” Why does he say this? It is as if God struck them and destroyed them in the process, in the same way you hit somebody to the ground and he falls bleeding and suffering and then you jump on his back and break it. A person whose back is broken cannot get up even if he wants to because he is paralysed. The slavery that the nation experienced was such a blow from God it was as if He broke their backs. There was no life left in them. There was no desire to begin a revolution and break away from the Persians. They had no willpower anymore.

There are certain things that caused Ezra to speak in this way: They were in captivity in Persia for 70 years. The Persians had attacked them, broken down the cities, raped the women, killed the men and enslaved them. They were exiled to Persia, and they hated the Persians. They prayed for the downfall of Persia. God said that they should not pray for the destruction of Persia because they would be there for a long period of time. “But Lord, we must hate them. Look at what they have done to us.” God said, “Pray for the prosperity of Persia.” God, through his prophet, told them to submit to the slavery in Persia because the punishment on them was severe and it was from God. It was easy to hate and wish for the destruction of Persia. But God even took away their fighting spirit. For 70 years, approximately three generations, they were slaves in Persia - which means the grandfather, father and the son lived in Persia.

Things happened to them while living there. They mixed with the people of Persia. The Persians worshipped idols. They despised the Jews. They could have so easily given themselves over to hatred and grudges against the Persians - which is what the devil wanted. He wanted them to become busy with Persian events and become attracted to the idols of Persia. He wanted them to become like the Persians. He wanted them to develop grudges.

Friends, when Adam and Eve sinned against God, God struck mankind with a blow just as severe as the blow that Israel received here. A curse descended upon man, and man’s nature and character changed to God haters. We were born with the spirit of Satan in us. We were born deserving hell. Think of the heavy blow with which God struck mankind. Think of death that suddenly entered. We have all experienced death – the suffering that it brings and the heartache. The death and suffering we experience is because of the sin of Adam and Eve. We did not eat the fruit like Adam and Eve did, but the blow of God broke man, and dare I say, it broke the heart of God because God cannot tolerate sin without a sacrifice. He is a righteous God. God could not forgive without a sacrifice, because He is righteous.

This is very similar to what Israel experienced. Imagine a grandchild growing up in Persia, a heathen, idol-worshipping country. That grandchild might have said, “Why am I suffering? It was my ancestors who sinned against God.” It is so easy to justify ourselves. But there are even greater dangers; I can begin getting involved in the world around me. I am attracted by the temptations of this world; I grow up serving the devil in this world or I grow up with a grudge. Friends, grudges are terrible. They are terrible. It may surprise you how many people there are, possibly in this church, who harbour grudges in their hearts.

Allow me to read what a man of God said: What is bearing a grudge? You ask someone to lend you his axe, but he does not want to. The next day that person wants to borrow your shirt, and this is your answer. ‘I will lend you my shirt because I am not like you who did not want to lend me your axe when I asked you.’ This is bearing a grudge. You might not say it, but you think it. You look down on the person and despise him and you say that you will do it because you are not like that person whom you despise. Ten years from now you will still remember that so-and-so did not want to lend me his axe.

What happens if you tolerate a grudge in your heart? It might grow into revenge. What is revenge? When you ask to borrow a hoe from someone, and he says no. The next day that person asks to borrow your axe and your response is, ‘I do not want to lend it to you because you did not lend to me.’ That is revenge.

This is what Oswald Chambers said: “If there is the tiniest grudge in your mind against anyone, your spiritual penetration into the knowledge of God stops.” Remember, our topic is having God’s perspective on life.

There are other signs that you have watched Persia and they have become your role model. I do not have to explain - we grow up in the world, we know the attractions of the world. We know the music and the dress code of the world so well that some people have the music of the world in their churches and cloak it in holiness, but the world, Persia, is actually what I’m following.

Allow me to give you another example that shows you still have Persia (the world) in your heart - a lack of unity in the church of God. Why is there disunity in the church? Because you have the spirit of Persia, of Satan in your heart. With the attitude of Persia, you will be a curse to the church and destroy the work of God. Paul speaks about factions. Why are there factions in the church? Why are we not one and serving God with all our hearts? Do not excuse yourself and say that you are just different to so-and-so. You see things differently. Look at Peter and John, they had two totally different personalities - two people who saw things from different perspectives. Peter spoke easily and acted quickly; John was quieter, however, we never read that there was division in the church between Peter and John. There was unity between them. There was a time when the disciples argued about who was the greatest, but we never read that it was because of something between Peter and John. Even when the Lord Jesus was no longer on earth with them, they were one. They could have said things like: I have nothing against him, but I will go to church in my way and he in his way. The unity between them was visible even publicly. In the book of Acts they both went to the temple. They could have stayed away from each other if each one was just putting up with the other one. Comments like, ‘I ran ahead to the grave. I was there first then Peter came barging in and he walked into the grave as if he was the first one. Now he takes all the credit for being the first.’ There was no sign, no hint in the word of God that there was any rift between the two of them. Do you know why there are factions amongst us? Because we drag the customs and habits of the Persians, the world, into our churches. We are bringing a curse upon our churches.

There is something more. The Israelites spent 70 years interacting with the Persians, observing their behaviour and in the end, they could have forgotten why all this happened to them in the first place. Some people may even have born a grudge against God. How could God have allowed me to grow up in a house like this? Lord, you broke my back. You have destroyed my future. I grew up on the streets. My father was a drunkard. My mother had five husbands. Each child in our family has a different surname. No one cared for me. My mother was busy with the last of the 5 husbands. She was not worried about me anymore. She did not pay attention to all her children. Lord, how could you have allowed me to grow up like that? You broke me, Lord. You destroyed me. You grow up with a grudge against God.

God may have punished you for something you did wrong, and you feel that it has been unfair. ‘I did not mean it so badly. Why are you so hard on me, God?’

Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons? “My son do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. 6 For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.” Hebrews 12:3 – 6

Do now grow faint-hearted. Faint-heartedness is one of the biggest problems in the church.

What is the solution to all this? It is captured in this verse that we have read and we see it in the words of Ezra

9 For we are slaves. Yet our God has not forsaken us in our slavery but has extended to us his steadfast love before the kings of Persia, to grant us some reviving to set up the house of our God, to repair its ruins, and to give us protection in Judea and Jerusalem. Ezra 9:9

God’s heart broke as He struck Adam and Eve and He saw that our backs were broken, and we could not get up, God in His mercy bent over. He did not stand over us and tell us to get up, He took the lead. God moved heaven and earth to do something nobody could have dreamt of. God broke the laws of nature. He did the impossible so that you and I could be free of the spirit of Persia. Because we were so crushed, only God could help us. He sent His son to this earth. He made Him the sacrifice. He broke His back for our sins. He made Him a curse for us. Why? So that we can stand up, out of our sins, and live new lives.

How amazing that after three generations Ezra was not influenced by the evil that Persia tried to influence them with. He did not look at the Persian temptations - the sleeping around, the drinking, the idol worship. Why can’t you live without your drug? It is your idol. You must serve it day and night. Ezra looked past that for 70 years. He looked back to where it began. What is the cause of this slavery? This is what it is like to have the God’s perspective on life. To see life and what happens to me, the way God sees it.

10 “And now, O our God, what shall we say after this? For we have forsaken your commandments… Ezra 9:10

The problem, the mistake, is not with the Persians. Despite everything they did to us over 70 years. The mistake is not with other things. He says that we are the cause of all the trouble because we forsook God’s commandments.

Dear friend, this is the spirit that will bring healing to you and me. With this vision, Ezra was able to see through the darkness, and he saw hope. Has the Holy Spirit spoken to you like that? Has He shown you your filth? Has He shown you that you deserve hell because of your own evil? What was the first thing Ezra had to do? He had to become humble. Without humility you will never break free from your sins. Humility is the first step to experiencing the salvation of God and to allowing the spirit of God to work in us. If we confess our sins, God is faithful and just to forgive us. Do not confess the sins of those around you. A while ago I spoke to a couple whose marriage was on the verge of divorce. I asked to see each of them separately. When they sat down, each one began speaking about what the other had done to him/her. I said, ‘Stop. Wife, forget about the sins of your husband, have you seen your own sins? You are not just here to save your marriage; you are here to meet God.’ Neither partner could speak about their own sins and the following day, they left. If you have a drug problem, you are not here to be saved from drugs only - if that is your goal you will fall back. You need to meet with God. If you meet God, you will be set free.

Ezra was able to see.

At that stage, Nehemiah, who had been with Israel, returned. But after his return to Jerusalem, he found that the people had allowed the enemy of Israel, who had prevented Israel from rebuilding the wall, an office in the temple. They found that the Levites did not get their portions, and you know what he found? The last chapter of

23 In those days also I saw the Jews who had married women of Ashdod, Ammon, and Moab. 24 And half of their children spoke the language of Ashdod, and they could not speak the language of Judah, but only the language of each people. 25 And I confronted them and cursed them and beat some of them and pulled out their hair. And I made them take an oath in the name of God, saying, “You shall not give your daughters to their sons, or take their daughters for your sons or for yourselves. 26 Did not Solomon king of Israel sin on account of such women? Among the many nations there was no king like him, and he was beloved by his God, and God made him king over all Israel. Nevertheless, foreign women made even him to sin. Nehemiah 13: 23 – 26

I am not speaking about marriage. I am speaking about dragging Persia’s things, the world’s way of doing things, into the new Jerusalem, where they had just rebuilt the walls. Can you believe it? Amongst the people who had rebuilt the walls, who had experienced God’s promise coming true, leading them out of Persia as broken people. God Himself took them back to Jerusalem when they were unable to go. They had seen the suffering. They had heard of the suffering in Persia from their fathers and grandfathers. But there were certain worldly, Persian things, that were so deeply engrained in their lives that they could not break with them.

It is one thing to be set free from your sins by Christ, but it is another thing to live with and be part of the body of Christ. Are you dragging the things of the world into the body of Christ?

25 And I confronted them and cursed them and beat some of them and pulled out their hair. And I made them take an oath in the name of God, saying, “You shall not give your daughters to their sons, or take their daughters for your sons or for yourselves.

Nehemiah, how could you do this? Surely you are not walking in the spirit, Nehemiah? You have become a carnal man.

Friends, the battle to come out of Persia into God’s kingdom, to be forgiven and to see your sins, is one battle. But once you get saved, there are other battles waiting for you. There are other battles where God would like to see how serious your conversion was when you met with Christ.

He sees you noting people who have the sins of Persia that they are dragging into the new Jerusalem. Your attitude could be, ‘It is not me doing it, it’s them.’ Nehemiah did not have that attitude. He said No! We will build a new Persia in Jerusalem if we tolerate the sins of Persia among us. It upset Nehemiah. It robbed him of his peace. He could not keep quiet. He could not sit still. He had to speak out. These people had to either break with the sins of Persia or leave. This was the fiercest battle. He could have been accused of harming the children of God, destroying the church of God, destroying the unity of the church. No, he was not destroying the unity. Have you brought a ‘foreign woman’ into your heart. You have sin in your heart that you tolerate but you know God does not allow it. You think you can go along with the stream. You think you can keep this love in your heart. If the love in your heart separates you from God and His children, you must get rid of it. Woe to us if we tolerate sin among us. Woe to us if we turn a blind eye to sin in our midst. I would have said, ‘Lord, it would have been better if you had kept us in Persia and not brought us here to Jerusalem.’

God is busy with revival. He does things. He makes things new. Rev. Stegen has said more than once that revival is like a river in flood. It is constantly throwing out dead trees and animals. When God continues to work in revival, do not be worried about what people think of you. Do not be defeated by the opinion of the world. Let the whole world be against you. If God is with you, you are in the majority, as long as God is in our midst and working.

Allow me to give an example. Some time ago a government official came to the mission for official duties. When he was about to leave, he asked, ‘Is Mfundisi Stegen still here?’ Yes, he is he was told. ‘Is he still leading the work?’ he asked. Yes, he is, was the response. ‘When I was 10 years old, I came to a youth conference here,’ said the man, ‘I was always experimenting with electricity at home and I had a little battery next to my bed that would shine on my books or my Bible when I read at night. But the globe popped. So, when we arrived here for that youth conference many years ago, I got off the bus and I noticed that one of the rear lights of the bus no longer had a plastic cover on it and I could see the globe. So, I removed the globe. Nobody saw me. I put it in my pocket. As I attended the services, this globe in my pocket became hotter and hotter and started burning me. I wondered what to do. I had stolen this thing and realised I was going to hell with it.’ He kept this globe in his pocket until the last day, and when the trucks were lined up to take the children back home, he saw the truck without a globe. He quickly pushed the globe back in and nobody saw him and then he joined the other children getting into the bus.

This is revival. God speaks to people and convicts them of their sins. As long as God is in our midst and continues to convict people of their sins, I do not worry about who is for us and who is against us - as long as God is in our midst. If we tolerate the sins and customs of the Persians of the world, God will stop working in our midst.

You possibly have a secret in your heart which is like the globe in the boy’s pocket. This secret burns and robs you of your peace. You have walked around with it for years because you are too embarrassed to bring it to the light. You fear man more than you fear God. Listen to what Nehemiah says to you today: Get rid of that thing in your heart, no matter how humiliating it will be. It is a sign that God is with us if He convicts you of that sin. Do not get upset with the Nehemiahs in our midst. May all of us be Nehemiahs. May all of us guard God’s holiness in our midst. May all of us make sure that the Spirit of God is not quenched in our midst, then we will be united like Peter and John, as we together carry the Gospel of Christ into this world.

Conclusion Michael Ngubane
Thank you. I believe the message is clear. The crux of the matter is between man and God. God never keeps silent. He always exposes things that separate man from Him. No sin is forgiven without sacrifice. Christ came to be that sacrifice to save us from sin. We are thankful that Christ begs us to be with Him. That secret thing in your heart which nobody knows about, Christ begs you to make that thing right.

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