Give strict attention, be cautious, be active

Introduction Sibongiseni Khumalo
We greet you in the wonderful name of our Lord Jesus Christ. We thank the Lord for this opportunity to sit at His feet. We welcome each one who has joined us today, especially if you are here for the first time. May the Lord give you a special blessing.

Nico Bosman
I greet you in the wonderful name of our Lord. I also greet our special visitors who are here for the first time. We trust it will not be the last.

We are thankful to the Lord for His working. We often thank Him too little. We ask for many things but thank Him less than what we ask. If I request 5 or 10 things in a day, I should thank Him for at least 20. He is not only faithful in what we ask but He does even more. In this last week, we saw again how God protects His work. We can trust in Him; we do not need to fear.

Before I read today’s text, I’d like to share something shortly. People often ask, ‘Why must I confess my sins? Why must I go to another person and bring into the light that which I have done wrong? Why can’t I just go before the Lord, ask forgiveness, and that’s it.’ Yes, there is a place for that and sometimes, that is what you need to do. This story explains this principle: A church was started by people who were sincere in their desire to do what was right. They studied the Bible and worked according to the Scriptures. They said that if a person sinned, it remained between the person and God. The person should go to their room, pray and ask the Lord for forgiveness. For every situation, this was their principle.

A man and woman worked together in the church leadership. They fell into sin. They realised that they had fallen into sin, and they followed the church principle and said to one another, ‘You go to your room before the Lord, ask Him for forgiveness, and I’ll go to my room and ask Him for forgiveness after which we will continue in God’s work.’ They did that and felt remorse for what they had done. But it did not take long, and they fell into sin again. Again, they said, ‘Let us ask for forgiveness.’ They repeatedly fell into sin and the church came to nothing because God could not bless it.

If they had involved another godly person, a counsellor, someone who could help them, brought it to the light before this person, he may have said, ‘Let’s separate you. For now, you work here, and you work there. Let’s do something to avoid temptation.’ In counselling, there is someone who intercedes and advises you; someone who can help you and say, ‘Not like that again, do it like this.’

Today’s text is from Matthew 24. Some time ago, a very special person gave me this verse. She told me that one day at her funeral I could preach about this topic. Since I have read it, it is has returned to me repeatedly. It is very appropriate for the times in which we live. I thank God that she has not passed away yet and I think she will forgive me if I talk about it today.

While He was seated on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately and said, Tell us, when will this take place, and what will be the sign of Your coming and of the end (the completion, the consummation) of the age? Jesus answered them, Be careful that no one misleads you [deceiving you and leading you into error]. For many will come in (on the strength of) My name [appropriating the name which belongs to Me], saying, I am the Christ (the Messiah), and they will lead many astray. And you will hear of wars and rumours of wars; see that you are not frightened or troubled, for this must take place, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in place after place;

All this is but the beginning [the early pains] of the birth pangs [of the intolerable anguish].

Then they will hand you over to suffer affliction and tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake. 10 And then many will be offended and repelled and will begin to distrust and desert [Him Whom they ought to trust and obey] and will stumble and fall away and betray one another and pursue one another with hatred. 11 And many false prophets will rise up and deceive and lead many into error. 12 And the love of the great body of people will grow cold because of the multiplied lawlessness and iniquity, 13 But he who endures to the end will be saved. 14 And this good news of the kingdom (the Gospel) will be preached throughout the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then will come the end. Matthew 24:3 – 14

32 From the fig tree learn this lesson: as soon as its young shoots become soft and tender and it puts out its leaves, you know of a surety that summer is near. 33 So also when you see these signs, all taken together, coming to pass, you may know of a surety that He is near, at the very doors. 34 Truly I tell you, this generation (the whole multitude of people living at the same time,]in a definite, given period) will not pass away till all these things taken together take place. 35 Sky and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away. 36 But of that [exact] day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 37 As were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 38 For just as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, [men] marrying and [women] being given in marriage, until the [very] day when Noah went into the ark, 39 And they did not know or understand until the flood came and swept them all away—so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 40 At that time two men will be in the field; one will be taken and one will be left. 41 Two women will be grinding at the hand mill; one will be taken and one will be left. 42 Watch therefore [give strict attention, be cautious and active], for you do not know in what kind of a day [whether a near or remote one] your Lord is coming. 43 But understand this: had the householder known in what [part of the night, whether in a night or a morning] watch the thief was coming, he would have watched and would not have allowed his house to be undermined and broken into. Matthew 24: 32 – 43 AMCP

I can almost leave it here. The Lord says it so clearly. We do not know when He is coming but we must be ready at any time. Give strict attention, be cautious, and active in faith. Matthew 24:42 Especially in these days where the world is becoming so evil so rapidly that we must be close to the end of the age.

I recently spoke to a well-respected man of God and said, ‘Surely we must be close to the end of the world?’ He replied, ‘Allow me to give you some perspective. The Bible says that the Word will go to all nations and there are approximately 7 700 different languages in the world. The Bible has been translated into 700 languages, so we still have a long way to go. The Bible also says that He will bless until the thousandth generation and this world is about 100 or 200 generations from Adam until now. Why would the Lord say this if the world only existed for 200 generations?’ That is another perspective, yes, but the truth is we do not know – we must be ready. I am not here to say how soon it will be before He returns but we must be on guard, cautious, ready. We cannot be blind to the fact that the world is changing. We cannot be blind to the fact that evil is on the increase. We cannot be blind to the fact that the devil is coming via every avenue possible. We cannot deny the fact that the devil is using movements to achieve his purposes and goals. We must be aware of it and know about it. We must be open minded and allow the Lord to show us what is a danger to us.

In this Scripture the disciples asked two questions: When will this happen? What will the signs be?

Jesus does not even answer the ‘when’. He gives them no indication when it will be. In fact, He later says, ‘Nobody knows.’ But the second question He answers fully.

What Christ here said to his disciples, tended more to promote caution than to satisfy their curiosity; more to prepare them for the events that should happen, than to give a distinct idea of the events. This is that good understanding of the times which all should covet, thence to infer what Israel ought to do. Matthew Henry

We should desire to know the signs of the times so that it does not catch us unaware. If we are not aware and awake, it will sweep us off our feet.

Do you know that you can ask God for things? Have you ever found that on some days you do not desire to read God’s word? Do you know that you can ask Him to give you a desire? We very often do not have because we do not ask. If you feel something is missing, ask God. Ask the Lord to give you a desire to read the Bible and He will do it. If you do not have a love for your fellow man, ask God for it. If you believe that He will give it to you, He will. We can ask God to open our eyes to what is going on in the world because it will wake us up and we might realise what hour it is and how we should live. Whether we are still here for a year, a hundred or a thousand, it does not matter. The crux of the matter is that Christians should stand and be on guard, especially when the storms come, when opposition comes, when difficulties come.

How do we stand? There was a large tree that fell over after a violent storm. There was nothing but a stump left. A closer examination revealed that it was rotten to the core. Thousands of ants and insects had eaten away at its core. The weakness of that tree was not brought on by the sudden storm, but it began the very moment the first insect nested within its bark. Jesus warns us to guard our hearts. Christian, what insect is in your life? What small insect is eating away at your heart? What insect is taking away your joy, your desire to read God’s word and robbing you of being busy with God’s things? If you do not watch out, you will soon be like this tree - rotten to the core. What are the little ants in your life - gossip, pride, jealousy? You know what they are. The things you listen to and watch/see also affect your life.

Pascal lived in the 1600s. He observed that the people who had the greatest influence in shaping the hearts and mind of any generation were not the ones writing the laws, but those who wrote the songs. Pascal observed that musical training is a more potent instrument than any other because rhythm and harmony find their way into the inmost places of the soul on which they mightily fasten.

What music do you listen to? In today’s churches there is music that should not be there. People bring the devil right into the church. I often use YouTube. Recently we wanted to purchase a machine and were referred to YouTube to see how the machine worked. There is nothing wrong with it. It has a lot of information. If you require info you go to the internet. I do not say that you may not touch it. But you must know that the devil will use it. He will put his foot into it and if you are not on guard, you will fall because of it. Parents, do you know what your children are watching? Do you know what they keep themselves busy with? You yourself may be busy with it which is why you cannot see what your children are busy with.

Have you ever stopped to think about how every social media platform you use always seems to know exactly what to show you. It is built into the platform’s programme, an algorithm, and it quickly detects what you like, what you interests are, and then it makes suggestions. Each of the different platforms sets priorities which they use to attract you to that which they want to show you.

The first thing it does – it is designed to keep you coming back for more as the hours slip by like seconds. It is designed to put things in front of you that interest you. TikTok is the app most downloaded in 2020. It has more than a billion followers a month. In 2022 in the USA, 150 million people spent more than 1,5 hours a day on TikTok (as long, or longer, than a Sunday service). This is from an article by Focus on the Family. A TikTok account was set up for a 13-year-old girl with her interests and within 2,6 minutes, on average, TikTok’s algorithm pushes suicidal content. Within 2,6 min there was a message that promoted suicide. When an account is set up for a person who seems vulnerable, the hit rate goes up - up to 12 times more. They can control exactly what they want you to look at. Other experiments were done where drugs were pushed and sex-related content, whatever evil it is, is pushed on your child. Do you know what your child is watching? Do you know what he is doing on your cell phone? Maybe it is time you find out. On TikTok a while ago, children below the age of 13 were killing themselves because of a challenge. You can read it yourself. You decide what you want your children to watch. Do not say that the devil comes in, it is what you allow him to do. We must be aware. We must be on guard. The onslaught is greater every day.

Many shall stumble and fall from a profession of religion. Is your religion just a profession? Is it something you have learnt? Many who profess to love me shall show that they had no real attachment to me. Do you have a relationship with Christ? Not something that is taught. Something that is real. Something that you can feel is there. I dare say that if you do not feel it, it is not there.

12 And the love of the great body of people will grow cold because of the multiplied lawlessness and iniquity… Matthew 24:12

Not a few, not some, not many but most will grow cold. It should shake every Christian to the core. Most people will not make it. It should wake us up to realise that it is not a game. You should realise that if you do not put in everything, the devil will remove you. He has one purpose: destroy God’s church, His people and mankind.

12 Therefore let anyone who thinks he stands [who feels sure that he has a steadfast mind and is standing firm], take heed lest he fall [into sin]. 1 Corinthians 10:12

Do not think: ‘I am strong. I have come this far. I can look at these things. They will not affect me.’ If you think you stand, take heed lest you fall.

Rev Stegen spoke about the coming of the anti-Christ in 2015. His text was 2 Thessalonians 2:7.

I asked the question when the anti-Christ will come? No one knows. But what we do know is that the spirit of the anti-Christ is already working amongst Christians. The Bible says he would have already been exposed, but there is one holding him back. What holds him back? The spirit-filled church of Christ. If the Holy Spirit is really at work in our lives, the anti-Christ, the Beast, is held back. The Bible says the working of the Holy Spirit prevents him from doing as he wills.

Are our lives Holy Spirit filled lives? Are our lives clean? How can we stand if our lives are unclean? How will we stand if we do not live for him every day? How will you stand if the storms come? You will have no strength.

Unity. How will we stand together if we are not united? What a sad thing if Christians are not one. The Bible speaks of the battle between evil and good not between Christian and Christian. Why do you not get along with your fellow Christian? How do you think that if we leave this earth one day we will miraculously be united in heaven? Is there any Christian in your life you cannot stand? How then will we stand together?

Stand Up. We should not only stand but stand up as Christians. The satanists are working very hard.

I read an article on the BBC about the satanist church. It has become a normal thing. But never for a moment think that they do their thing and we do ours and there is not contact. This article states that if a person joins the satanic church, he/she must be de-baptised to break the Christian bond. After that the person must tear up a Bible. Their purpose is to destroy God’s work and they are doing it. They will do it if we do nothing. Many people point out what is wrong but how many stand up? It is time Christians stood up and united against these things. In a Youth Conference presentation recently, it was clear how evil forces are working and Satan is infiltrating every sector of our lives. Where are the Christians? Sitting comfortably at home. It is time that we stand up for what we believe.

13 But he who endures to the end will be saved. 14 And this good news of the kingdom (the Gospel) will be preached throughout the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then will come the end. Matthew 24:13,14

This is not the end. The final word will be when every nation has received the Gospel and it has been taken to the ends of the earth. This will still happen and then the end will come. Will we be part of those who proclaim the Gospel to the end? Will our lives, our hearts and our deepest thoughts proclaim the Gospel to the end? Then we will be saved. After that, the Bible says, every knee shall bow - the heathen, the satanist, whoever did not believe – every knee shall bow and know that He is God. Where will you be found on that day?

Christian, do not be ignorant and turn a blind eye. Be awake. Let us awaken those around us – our children, families and further.

Conclusion Sibongiseni Khumalo
Because of the increase of evil, of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold. The Bible does not say what type of evil will cause that. Some of that evil will be that which infiltrates the church and looks attractive and is alluring but finishes the love of Christians.

A child of God testified on Radio Khwezi that she had a hunger for God and visited different places in Gauteng. She attended a church service where people danced and did many things because the ‘Holy Spirit worked among them’ but her hunger for God was unsatisfied. At another church service drums were played with the same beat that was used in her home when evil spirits were called up.

There is an increase of this kind of thing: outward expressions of joy with drums, dancing, jumping but no inner satisfaction. People justify their actions and say they must bring these things into the church to draw young people, otherwise they visit other places for pleasure and enjoyment. That is possibly a way to draw them, but do they find that which will satisfy their spiritual needs? We must be on our guard against these things that infiltrate the church. They appear good and attractive but the love for God cools down instead of growing.

A few years ago, I visited a Christian who had a TV in his home. I asked him about it because he never had one before. He said that he had a TV so that the children did not need to visit other families to watch TV. It did not take long, and that family no longer attended church and they simply disappeared. Not everything on TV is evil and wrong, but there is a danger that it can cause the love of Christ to die. A young man told me that they have a TV at home and when their parents are gone, he and his sister watch all kinds of filth on the late-night shows. This boy and his sister imitate what they saw while the parents slept. Be awake parents. The parents pay for this filth every month. Things like this appear to be good and people allow it to enter but it kills the love of Christ, and the dignity of that church. Personally, it does not seem right when the preacher comes to the pulpit with a tablet, instead of his Bible. At home everyone is on their cell phones, there is no family life. The family is scattered.

Preachers need to stand up, sound the trumpet, alert people and wake them from their slumber - where everybody is going their own way. We must say, ‘Don’t you see what is happening in your family? If your family life ends, what will happen in the church? An isolated child is easily drawn into suicide. Instead of dialogue in the family where the children seek advice from their parents, they get their advice from the internet. We must sound the warning on that.

Brethren, the one who endures to the end will be saved, not until a certain time, but to the end. Has God’s truth changed? We must stand on the unchanging truth of God. Woe to the parents whose children go astray and whose lives are destroyed because the parents have slackened and excused things because of the ‘modern times’. I have to allow it because ‘times have changed.’

May the Lord have mercy on us, our families, our congregations, and the church. God must work among us before He can work further.


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