Introduction Bruno Hlongwane
We thank the Lord for this opportunity to meet and worship the Lord together. It brings joy when people meet and expectantly wait for what the Lord has for today. Why do we first sing? The songs are a prayer that prepares our hearts to hear the Lord.
We welcome those who arrived during the week or are attending their first service. To those who have joined via livestream may the Lord be with you in this time.
I was privileged yesterday to visit Rev Stegen and share with him how God’s work is progressing. His joy was amazing. There is growth at the branches. It was wonderful to be with him and I was blessed. I remember when we told Mrs Stegen how the work was progressing, she was always filled with joy. There is joy in sharing with others. This is a secret.
One day Rev Stegen was showing visitors around the mission. The people asked who the leader of the mission was because they wanted to see him. Rev Stegen did not respond and point out that he was the leader. The visitors only realised that he was the mission leader when he preached. We were drawn closer to the Lord through the way in which he showed visitors around. He had a spirit of humility.
Before I read today’s text, allow me to consider the (Zulu) hymn that was sung by the congregation. It says, ‘Let us see God’s love and feel the strength that we will be revived.’ The song asks the Lord to send down His Holy Spirit. We sang this song often before the Holy Spirit came down. ‘We have not served You well,’ the song continues, ‘Lord, look at your church, may we experience the power your disciples felt. We confess our sins. We have not served you well.’ We sang this song earnestly because we realised it was not so. We needed the Holy Spirit to come down. We beseeched the Lord through this prayer. ‘We have given the devil a place in our hearts.’ We did not understand what it would be like when the Holy Spirit came. ‘We see we have sinned. May You pour out Your Holy Spirit among us that your work will be revived.’ We were before the Lord, praying and crying. We realised and understood that the Lord heard our prayer. We never knew how the Holy Spirit would come or how it would take place. Like the disciples who tried to catch fish and struggled, we also did. Peter said, ‘Lord, because you have said so, we will do it, (even though we failed all night.)’ There was a struggle. We were before the Lord with all our hearts. Rev Stegen forgot to shave before coming to church and his trousers around the knees were worn. It was clear he was on his knees before the Lord. The revival did not come easily. We were so earnest and busy with the Lord we could not remind him to shave. The Lord was gracious to us and the Holy Spirit came down. The Lord did what we asked.
Do what the Lord has said to you. If the Lord speaks to you, do what He commands; go where He sends; apologise and make right. We realised that living waters did not flow from our lives but grudges, anger and strife. The Lord told us to make restitution and the fruit was evident from what the Lord was doing in our lives.
If you are unable to conquer sin and you are battling this way and that, if the Lord tells you to do something, do what He tells you and you will be amazed to see what He will do in your life.
Rev Stegen passed on a message at the beginning of the year - we will ascend this mountain. It is a mountain each of us should ascend every day. This is found in Psalm 24.
The earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein, 2 for he has founded it upon the seas and established it upon the rivers. Psalm 24:1
People should not sin and murder on this earth that belongs to God. People should not break into homes and steal. We see murder daily. Fathers kill children, prisoners murder one another. This should not happen on this earth. The earth is not ours. It belongs to Jehovah. The earth was placed above the rivers and waters, it was established upon the rivers.
Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord and who shall stand in his holy place? Psalm 24:2
We need to cry to the Lord. The leader and founder of this work has asked us this question: Who will ascend the hill? Everyone should ascend this hill. We all need to ascend, but it is challenging when you realise who steep the mountain is.
He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to what is false and does not swear deceitfully. Psalm 24:4
A person can be asked, ‘Have you done this and that?’ He will swear before God that he has never done such a thing but after a while you hear that the person did do it. He has sworn falsely and told lies before God. This is what it is like to swear deceitfully. If someone says, ‘I am a child of God but they are living in sin.’ That is not being a child of God.
If we want to enter His holy place we must have a pure heart and clean hands. Has your life changed as you start this new year? Can everyone see that your life has changed? School children, can the teachers see that your life has changed? Nothing else can help us, other than that we cleanse our hearts. This is the key. This is the solution we need to continue with and this will help us grow spiritually.
When you vow a vow to God, do not delay paying it, for he has no pleasure in fools. Pay what you vow. 5 It is better that you should not vow than that you should vow and not pay. Ecclesiastes 5:4, 5
So often we make a promise to someone - I will do this and that. ‘Lord, if you just allow me to get out of hospital, I will live for you. If you help me to overcome this sin, I will live for you. If You will cure me of this disease, I will live for You.’ People forget. You made a promise to your wife, to your children but you do not fulfil it. We are seen as fools if we vow to man or God and do not fulfil our vows. You may punish your child and he says that he will never do it but they do exactly the same later. Such a child is ‘a fool’ because he does not keep his promises.
Be not quick in your spirit to become angry, for anger lodges in the heart of fools. Ecclesiastes 7:9
If you get angry, you are a fool before God. If you get angry when your parent sends you to do something, you are a fool before God. If you are known as someone who often gets angry and shouts at his wife, you are a fool before God. Anger resides in the heart of fools, it lodges in the heart of fools. It is close to you, in your heart.
I had put money in a certain place and when I got there some was missing. I wondered where the money had disappeared because I was the only one in the room with my little dog, Spinach. I looked around and found R600 which the dog had put around the corner. These dogs take anything and chew it. Spinach took the R200 notes and tore them to pieces. He also took a R100 tore it up. I saw a pile of bits and it was my money that the dog had chewed up. I noticed that there was no anger in my heart. Some people would hit the dog or kill it with a rock, but I was amazed when there was nothing in my heart. The dog just sat and looked at me.
If someone phones you and you think that their words will cause anger to rise in your heart, but nothing happens – God has worked.
I once wanted to wash my car. So I went to the tap where the ladies wash the clothes and I wanted to ask to fill the bucket with water. The lady who was busy there, grabbed me by my shirt and pushed me around. I just stood and waited until she had finished. I said to Rev Stegen, ‘Now I know that I am a real Christian. I did not get angry. There was no anger.’ Before I would have retaliated but that is how the Lord Jesus can help you overcome. A person can rattle or test you but there is no anger in a true child of God. There are people who don’t see eye to eye, but they testify publicly and you realise nothing has happened in their hearts. We need to live in such a way that all our works testify that we are Christians.
7 The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers. 8 Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. 9 Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. 10As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace. 1 Peter 4:7 – 10
May you keep loving one another earnestly. It is so important as believers to love one another with the love which comes from God. It covers a multitude of sins. You need to have self-control in various things: boys not talking to girls and vice versa, not smoking, not looking at pornography in our speech.
He who has Jesus is alive. He who does not have the Son, does not have life. Do you have the Son? Does He live within your heart? If you are alive, everyone will see it. They will see that the preacher lives for the Lord. It will be clear if our parents live for the Lord.
Now we will get to the crux of the matter – 1 Peter 5. The heading in the Zulu Bible is “How the Church and Youth should conduct themselves”. Listen to how we should conduct ourselves.
Family members, listen to how we should conduct ourselves if we are Christians. Let us truly hear what Peter says.
So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed: 1 Peter 5:1
Peter says that he is an elder together with them. Whatever position you might have, you are also a member. As a child you are also a member. All the members are different – shorter, longer, different sizes, but they work together in the right way. Peter counts himself as one of the members.
2 shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; 3 not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock. 1 Peter 5: 2, 3
In churches, we must not be domineering.
4 And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory. 1 Peter 5:4
There is a crown that we will receive. This crown does not wither. You can make a crown with flowers but in the end, it will be useless because it has become old. This is an unfading crown. Heroes have gone before us who serve the Lord. My desire is that I will sit on the throne of the Lord. At my age, I no longer yearn for worldly things. My desire is to remain connected to the Lord. I am not like some young people who are only ruled by marriage. People who chase marriage, will not marry. I thought I would marry when I was 40. Young men, you can remain as you are for 40 years. Some people stumble over stones or crash because they stare at girls and forget that they are behind the wheel of a car. Some people only live to be looked at. They are self-conscious in all they do.
5 Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” 1 Peter 5:5
Brethren, among us there should not be pride. If you are sent and yet in your heart there is anger, those are signs of pride. Child if you are sent by your parent and inside you murmur, it is clear that you have resentment. You mumble and your parent asks, what did you say? It is because you are angry. You are mumbling about the fact that you were sent and not one of the others.
God opposes the proud – and you think God is with you – but God opposes the proud.
Anger resides in the hearts of fools, and we find the same with the proud. What is the pride like in your heart? Or do you ask, will people see me today – the way I walk, sing.
We also read about humbling yourself. Young people, submit to those older than you, humble yourself towards them.
This word touches everyone – wives, submit yourselves to your husbands in the Lord. Do you truly submit to your husband? There are some wives that I know, that pull their husbands by their noses. If you want to truly break the will of a bull, you put a ring in its nose, then you can lead it wherever you want to.
There was once a certain woman who spoke in a particular way to me but I said, ‘You don’t speak to me like that, I am not your husband.’ She was so used to speaking in whatever way she wanted to her husband, and he just followed her. I was expecting her husband to come and say, ‘How dare you speak in that way to my wife!’ She came and apologised that she had spoken in that way. There are some women who speak in such a manner that you pity the poor husband.
There was a lady of position in a certain area who said, ‘I have a position where I work, but when I get home, I submit to my husband.’ You might be a judge, a nurse, or a head mistress – but at home you leave those things behind and submit to your husband. Be a strong woman at work who shows people how to do things and do it in the right way, but when you get home, submit. Do not be the woman who says, ‘Today I’ll get rid of my husband’s cheekiness.’
Children, respect and honour your parents in the Lord. In the Lord means that if your parent tells you to steal and you obey, you are not being in the Lord. Where your husband tells you to steal and you obey because you should submit, that is not true submission.
My mother was working at Maphumulo for one of the Stegen brothers. Reverend Stegen said to her, ‘Do not bring dishonour on me by stealing.’ She was faithful. I was a gardener there. Rev. Stegen said, ‘Do not take any of the ripe fruit even if it is on the ground.’ I realised that even though I took it off the ground, the person who saw me would think I picked it off the tree. I have mangoes at home. I see children climbing into the tree taking the mangoes, but they go to church with us. We grew up thinking that if you steal from a white man, it is not sin, until we received this gospel. Now they are stealing my things. Things have changed.
“God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” 1 Peter 5:5b
If we humble ourselves under God’s hand, we will receive grace. What great grace have we received that the Lord Jesus was sent to us, and that we can be called children of God.
8 Be sober minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 1 Peter 5:8
Rev Stegen once read this word to us. Brethren, believers, children of God, may we not say, we are standing. The devil wants to devour us like a roaring lion. He may have devoured you long ago and you are in his belly together with your cell phone. You don’t know how to get out. The devil has snared you. All you can think about day and night is your desire to look at something. Your thoughts and dreams trouble you. Go to God’s place where people can pray for you.
A person phoned me and said that his child had been helped but he was troubled by tobacco. His wife had bought him a stack of cigarettes and he asked for them to be brought to him and trampled on them and burned them. I recently spoke to him again and he said that it was going well. He no longer drank or smoked. He no longer craves anything like that. The Lord had helped him. The gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ had saved him.
9 Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. 1 Peter 5:9
There is no humility in the world today. People no longer humble themselves. Parents fight in front of their children. Parents do not realise that there are certain things that they should not speak about in front of the children. They speak in any manner and the children lose their respect for their parents. In our days when the adults spoke the children were sent out to play. If someone listened at the window, we would say, ‘Don’t do that, you will get a hiding.’ That helped us. There are adults who pour out words when things get hot without realising that there are children present. If children see their parents quarrelling, they sow the seed and one day their children will do the same thing. We thank the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ which helped our family. My parents fought in front of us children, especially if my father was drunk. If he was not drunk, they would send us out to play. We felt so sorry for our mother. Why did she not rather keep quiet? When the gospel came and my mother received the Lord, it all ended and there was peace.
Before I was converted, it was the done thing to beat a woman. I said that when I got old I would also beat my wife. The seed our parents had sown, grew in my life.
As elders, members of Christ, we need to humble ourselves before one another. We need to be united so that God’s gospel is not put to shame. Can our neighbours see by the way we live, when we humble ourselves, that we are real Christians?
2 shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you, not for shameful gain, but eagerly; 1 Peter 5:2
The church and the people are the flock of God, not under compulsion, willingly – guide and help the flock that belongs to God. The devil roars at the time and we must remain firm in the gospel.
9 Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. 1 Peter 5:9
Are you firm in your faith? Some say to me that as they leave this place, they will return to the world and fall back into sin. I say, ‘Where have you put Jesus? He is in you. KSB is not heaven. When the Lord has entered you, wherever you go it must be evident that Jesus is in you.’ 1963/4 when we went to school, the Lord was in us. We never returned to our old lives of sinning and smoking. He was in us. Getting married does not mean the gospel ends, no, the Lord lives in you must stay in you. It is important to remain firm in the faith. Nobody should deceive us and take us off the road. So many come and they are deceived. No matter what they say to you, remain firm in the faith. If they have deserted the faith and say that everything is going well with them, you should remain firm in the Lord and in the faith.
As members of our Lord Jesus Christ, we need to ascend this hill every day. If you carry the cross you bend over, you are humble. If a child is humble, it will be evident that he/she is a child of God who carries the cross. If your burden is so great, you need to ask someone to help you to remove the burden. They will help but the burden bearer will need to bow for the burden to be removed. The Bible tells us in Galatians that we need to help each other carry these burdens. Take your burdens and troubles and cast them upon Him. When you come to child of God say, ‘Please pray with me regarding this or that,’ because you want the burden to leave your heart so that you can be free. If you think you can carry the burden alone, you will be oppressed. If you need to apologise and ask your wife for forgiveness, do it.
Consider Saul. He persecuted the Christians and thought he was doing well. But the Lord Jesus spoke to him and he repented. If you do not repent, you are like Saul and you are, in fact, hurting others. A person may say that he has not murdered or strangled anyone but through his tongue he has hurt many. Blessed is the man who when the Holy Spirit speaks to him and says, ‘You did not speak in the right way,’ can apologise to his wife. Blessed is the mother who can apologise to the father or the children. A person like that is ruled by the Lord. They humble themselves and realise they did not walk well before the Lord.
John’s head was cut off and it is still a painful things. Child, grandfather, parent are there no heads of people that you have cut off? Through your life you have hurt others. How many have you hurt?
Believer, may you live a life for the Lord as you start the new year so that people can say that you have humbled yourself. Satan was removed from heaven because of pride. He lost heaven. If you think you are something, even though you are not, you can lose heaven. You may read God’s word, but it does not speak to you. You are troubled by your dreams; you are angry and unable to do the right thing. May the Lord teach us to fear Him. It is vital to fear God. Joseph who was alone without his parents and he said, ‘How can I do this evil?’ Repent brethren if you do not have humility. Are you a person who does not speak to anyone at work for a week, a month and everyone wonders what is wrong with you? If the Lord fetches and you are still ruled by these things, where will you end? When the last trumpet sounds and you are living this life, where will you end?
Let us live this life as He commands us. If your church or congregation does not increase in size, go deep. If you do not overcome sin, go deep with the Lord.