The bridal couple testify to us today. We are very happy because they give us weapons. They testify to the fact that the Lord has spoken to them and testify to the fact that God is alive. God is in our midst and this brings us great joy.
15 And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” Joshua 24:15
I would like to consider how we should serve the Lord - even after the wedding day – and look at the principle of serving the Lord in marriage. There is a portion from the Old Testament that has some of the main components of serving the Lord. A marriage is a ‘small nation’ and there are similarities between the challenges a nation has and those of a married couple.
19 Not a blacksmith could be found in the whole land of Israel, because the Philistines had said, “Otherwise the Hebrews will make swords or spears!” 20 So all Israel went down to the Philistines to have their plough points, mattocks, axes and sickles sharpened. 22 So on the day of the battle not a soldier with Saul and Jonathan had a sword or spear in his hand; only Saul and his son Jonathan had them. 1 Samuel 13:19,20
King Saul led the nation of Israel with only 3000 men. (Christians will always be in the minority and we must overcome despite this. God never promised that we would be in the majority). Saul’s enemy had thousands of chariots and foot soldiers as ‘many as the sand in the sea’. Israel was totally outnumbered. Israel was weak.
The church today is disarmed and pathetic. It has no weapons. With regards to music in the church, we are disarmed. Christians must go to the enemy – the world - to get music for the church. The way the church sings, is identical to the way the world does it. There is no difference. The way young people dress in the church is no different to the way they dress in the world. We are bankrupt. We borrow clothes from the world.
(As a young man, I remember what I prayed before I came here, “Lord, I will serve You with all my heart. But when it comes to marriage, you will have to stand aside for 12 months. Allow me to select a girl and marry her and then I will serve you with all my heart.”) There are many young people who ask the Lord to stand aside for a while so that they can marry the person of their choice.
What influences the choice of clothes for girls? The opposite sex? Will I catch the eye of that specific young man through my clothing? Girls dress and style their hair to attract men. The church is bankrupt. They flirt, they date, they kiss, they fall in love. The church has become so poor.
Do you understand why I say that the bridal couple arms us? We may be in the minority, but we should take pride in our stand before the world – they can say and do what they like. They mock us because they do not have what we have.
The church is also disarmed in the sphere of marriage. When people face problems in marriage, they grab the arms of the world – the man and woman fight, each ones tries to put the other in his/her place, each one tries to get the last word, they lose their tempers and explode. The bridegroom chose the verse in Joshua 24:15 …as for me and my house we will serve the Lord. You have chosen a very good text. May God give you the grace and mercy to serve the Lord.
What weapons should we use? When we face the enemy of the church, we must put on the armour of God: the helmet of salvation, the belt of truth, the sword of the spirit, the breastplate of righteousness. This is a key for the rest for your life so that you do not have to borrow weapons from the devil and the world. Always keep the breastplate of righteousness on, no matter the cost or the implications. Keep it on. The breastplate of righteousness is not like the sword or the shield which are used to fight actively. The breastplate of righteousness can be forgotten. It is always there. If something happens which spoils your righteousness before the living God, confess it, make it right, apologise and once again you will have the breastplate of righteousness on. It will create within you, without you realising it, the right spirit and the right relationship. If your eyes have robbed you of the breastplate of righteousness, get it back again immediately, because you have lost your righteousness before God. If you have made a remark you should not have, make it right immediately if your spirit tells you that you should not have said it or said it in the wrong way.
There is another weapon which you may wonder whether it belongs in a marriage or a wedding service. It does. …and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. Ephesians 6:15 The passion for spreading the gospel of Christ should remain paramount in your marriage and life, otherwise you will clash with your leaders and the other children of God. You may want to sit back, relax and live a comfortable life. I’m reminded of what Rev Stegen said to his wife when he married her - that God would be first, God’s work second and she third. Baba Dube testified recently that after he got married, he didn’t have a honeymoon. The day after his wedding, he accompanied Rev Stegen to Gauteng to preach. When I came here for the first time, I noticed that engagement services were held. Why? Through an engagement service, people can hear the gospel and their souls be saved. This is foremost. We want the gospel to be preached and souls to be saved. May it be the case with the married couple today and for the rest of their lives.
Allow me to read a hymn written by Eben E. Rexford
O WHERE ARE THE REAPERS THAT GARNER IN
O where are the reapers that garner in
The sheaves of the good from the fields of sin?
With sickles of truth must the work be done,
And no one may rest till the "harvest home."
Where are the reapers?
O who will come
And share in the glory of the "harvest home?
O, who will help us to garner in
The sheaves of good from the fields of sin?
2 Go out in the highways and search them all;
The wheat may be there, though the weeds are tall;
Then search in the highway, and pass none by;
But gather from all for the home on high.
3 The fields all are rip'ning, and far and wide
The world now is waiting the harvest tide;
But reapers are few, and the work is great,
And much will be lost should the harvest wait.
4 So come with your sickles, ye sons of men,
And gather together the golden grain;
Toil on till the Lord of the harvest come,
Then share ye his joy in the "harvest home."
Do you long to share in the glory when Christ comes and precious souls go with Him to glory? It is glorious because a soul has been saved. On my marriage day, this was burning in my heart: “Lord, may my marriage bring souls into the kingdom.” These days, the time frame for reaping the harvest is not so critical because we have machinery that quickly does the job, but at the time when this hymn was written, the harvest had to be completed within a particular time otherwise much would be lost.
Harvesting souls is part of the armour of God that you will not have to borrow from the world. We should be continually busy with this. Be careful when how you live in front of your children; their souls should be before you. Be careful when you are with your friends; their souls must be before you. Be careful when you are with your enemies, their souls must be before you.
Let us return to the absolute crisis Saul was in at this time. It reminds us of another weapon with which we can conquer: the weapon of faith. Saul had 3000 men. They were totally outnumbered. They did not have weapons. They used their farming tools which had been sharpened. Humanly speaking, their chances were virtually zero.
To the bridal couple: Be courageous. You have taken an act of faith in obedience to God.
Saul needed faith. His small army of men lost courage and their faith and hid in caves. Saul had been commanded to wait 7 days for Samuel. The 7th day approached but Samuel had not arrived so Saul took a step in unbelief and carried out the sacrifice himself.
Faith must be the foundation of a successful Christian marriage. Faith has been the foundation of this work from the beginning. We have heard how many years ago Rev Stegen was on the way to further the gospel and ran out of petrol, but was able to reach his destination with a gift of money from a Zulu man which he used to buy fuel. In 1979 I was with Rev Stegen in the room when someone came in and gave him a gift of money as gratitude for their 2-week stay. He said to me, “Albu, I was supposed to go out to preach with the choir but we had no money to do so. With this donation, God has now made it possible to go.” The appointment had been made and the church was waiting, but they had been unable to go.
Faith is the bedrock of the battle we are fighting. Faith is the foundation on which your marriage will be successful. In your marriage many things can rob you of your faith or test your faith: disease, financial challenges, priorities that must be dealt with which can cause anxiety. Anxiety is an enemy for our faith and relationship with God. It makes people frustrated and irritated with one another. It can do great harm in a marriage. Keep your eyes on the Lord, keep on the breastplate of righteousness and do not allow anxiety to control your life. God is faithful.
Finally, after waiting, Saul sacrificed in unbelief. He tried to drag God into the situation. He did not fight the battle without sacrificing - he did sacrifice, but it was in unbelief. He was not ordained to do the sacrifice, it was Samuel who should have. What was the result?
10 Just as he finished making the offering, Samuel arrived, and Saul went out to greet him. 11 “What have you done?” asked Samuel.
May God be gracious and save you and I so that God will not have to ask, “What have you done?”
Saul replied, “When I saw that the men were scattering, and that you did not come at the set time, and that the Philistines were assembling at Mikmash, 12 I thought, ‘Now the Philistines will come down against me at Gilgal, and I have not sought the Lord’s favour.’ So I felt compelled to offer the burnt offering.” 13 “You have done a foolish thing,” Samuel said. “You have not kept the command the Lord your God gave you; if you had, he would have established your kingdom over Israel for all time. 1 Samuel 13:10-13
…if you had, he would have established your kingdom over Israel for all time. Do you know what this means? Saul would have become the David of Israel. The Lord said this about David and the Messiah was born from his line. Saul missed a tremendous blessing.
To the bridal couple: You have no idea what blessing will flow from this marriage if you stay faithful to God. It is a blessing from the King of kings. My thoughts are not your thoughts. Isaiah 55:9. You do not know the thoughts I have for you (Jeremiah 29:11) You do not know what I have in store for you. If we fail, become disobedient, lose the weapons of God and run to the world for them, the curse that can come upon our lives is unimaginable.
The bridal couple: You are a small army. Every couple is a small army. You must maintain God’s standard in your marriage. Maintain it with your children (if God sees it fits to give you children) even when they are teenagers. Look to God. Trust Him. Make sure you are faithful to Him, then you will not only be a blessing but also a weapon in God’s church. There are older people who have walked this way for many years. Do not fight battles on your own. They can pray with you and give you advice.
Let us allow God to show the world that His church conquers. We do not know what lies ahead for the Church of Christ in the future because we are living in the last days. Let the devil be furious but let us stand boldly for Christ and His kingdom.