Albu van Eeden
Brethren, today is a day of victory. It is the day of the Lord Jesus Christ. God has conquered and he conquers today. Mphakamiseni and Noluthando are victorious today. God is victorious today and He puts Satan to shame.
I am reminded of the word, For everyone who has been born of God, overcomes the world. And this is the victory that overcomes the world – your faith. 1 John 5:4 If you want to overcome this world, you will overcome by your faith. My heart is warmed when I see you all. We are filled with joy at your presence.
I should not be standing here. Remember what the Lord Jesus said to His disciples, “You reap where you never planted.” John 4:38 We are reaping where another man of God sowed. Today we are experiencing fruit from seed sown by Reverend Stegen. I am unworthy to be granted the privilege to reap where Rev Stegen has sown. But I am joyful to be amongst you and to bring the Lord’s Word. I am a witness to the power of revival in the lives of two people. This marriage brings three families together: the Duze, Nhlabathi and Van Eeden families. This is my son, Mphakamiseni. We are proud because of your life. It is our prayer that the Lord will continue to lead you.
Mphakamiseni lost his parents at the age of 11. Doctors for Life invited him to stay at a centre at Mthaleni where we care for orphaned children. It was a decision he had to make. I thank the Lord that he heard the Lord’s voice and agreed to come. It would have been a big mistake had he not heard the Lord’s voice.
The theme for this wedding is: Seek first the Kingdom of Heaven. Let us read from Matthew 6:31-34. This is the text selected by the bridegroom.
31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
34 “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.
These are words chosen by a young man who grew up as an orphan. Do not take these words lightly. Verse 33 is the main text that he chose.
33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
When God allows a person to become an orphan, He has a goal - not to destroy the child, break or hurt him. Blessed is the child who grows up as an orphan. At the Doctors for Life centre, we taught the children to pray for their needs. Sometimes they were told that there was no money for food for the next month unless God provided it. Together with the adults in charge of that centre, they knelt and prayed each night, asking the Lord to provide for the next month. Often God answered in the last minute - on the 29th, 30th or 31st of the month we would receive a message that money had been paid into the DFL account. Many children thought it was just about asking God for their needs, but Mphakamiseni saw deeper. He grasped the secret.
There are three points that he asked me to focus on.
- Many people want God’s blessings, but not God Himself.
- God is the source of His blessings.
- God knows our needs if we ask in Jesus’ name.
This was a young man who heard us praying for our needs but saw deeper and realised he should seek God Himself and His blessings. Other children grew up in that centre, but they looked only for material blessings from God. But not Mphakamiseni, and this was his secret. This reminds me of the words of a blind Zulu grandmother. She had an eye operation performed by DFL. When we removed the pads off her eyes the next day and she could see, she danced and sang this song: Now I can see the One who cannot be seen. Now I can see the One who cannot be seen. Mphakamiseni has caught hold of this secret. He has seen the One who cannot be seen - which is why his main text for today is verse 33.
However, when you seek God’s kingdom, you must be willing to lose everything to get it.
24 Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. John 12:24
Mphakamiseni understood this mystery. He wanted the kingdom of God, but God demanded things of him. To get a part in God’s kingdom, the seed had to fall into the ground and die. A man of God said: In the same way, anyone who holds onto life as it is, will destroy that very life he holds onto. But if you let go of your life for the sake of Christ, (let go in a reckless way, because of your love for Christ) you will find life and life eternal. Mphakamiseni had to face that. He grew up at the orphanage. He helped wherever there was a need but many who grew up with him, left and looked for the glory and money the world could give them.
44 “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. Matthew 13:44
What does this have to do with marriage? You cannot marry if God does not tell you to marry and whom you should marry. You cannot hear the voice of God to tell you to get married if you have not first obtained the kingdom of God. You cannot obtain the kingdom of God, if you have not first sold all that you have and placed all your possessions and everything that is precious to you on the altar to obtain the kingdom of God.
This couple has not experienced something insignificant. They did not desire one another and therefore request to marry. No. The road to marriage started long ago when they got to know the Kingdom of God and they were willing to sell everything for it. Then when they waited for God and only at God’s command, they got married. They did not flirt in dark corners and write text messages. They did not ‘get to know one another’. He heard from God, and he spoke and the leadership of the mission, Rev Stegen, went to her and she had to hear the answer directly from God. Many experience this glorious, victorious day, and my heart overflows with joy but we may not understand that this matter began with the Lord. You can seek God and not find God if you do not seek Him with all your heart. We inherit this today. A man in the person of Rev Stegen, who sought God, together with others in the beginning (Mr Dube is one of them), sought God with all their hearts and found Him. We reap the harvest of that breakthrough to God - the revival.
God has used Mphakamiseni mightily. He did not sit back and wait for gifts. He began welding gates and burglar bars from which he got an income. Then he took on building and built a house in Pomeroy. He repaired cars. In between, whenever there was a need for a preacher during COVID, he preached. Otherwise, he was a servant who drove people around and helped the mission wherever there was a need. God has blessed this abundantly. Why? He saw the One who is unseen. Brethren, allow me to ask you this question: Have you seen the One who is unseen? Mphakamiseni could have felt sorry for himself because he was an orphan.
There are others who saw the One who cannot be seen. Joseph was sold by his own brothers. If he had not seen God, he would have spent his life hating his brothers. How much time do you spend hating others for what they have done to you? He was sold as a slave and worked for Potiphar. Potiphar’s wife wanted him to sleep with her, but he ran away. She falsely accused him of rape. He was imprisoned. I am sure the devil said to him, ‘Your people have forgotten about you, even God has forgotten you.’ But Joseph saw the unseen One and he was victorious.
Friends, we stand on holy ground today. If marriage is from serving God in His Kingdom, then that marriage is just as holy and should be as holy as God’s Kingdom because the Christian marriage should be a symbol of the relationship between Christ and His church.
What do people do? They notice that everyone around them is marrying so they also want to marry, then their marriage becomes an empty shell with no contents.
Israel saw the nations around them had kings. They asked Samuel for a king because they saw the nations around them had kings. This broke Samuel’s heart. He went to God who said, ‘Samuel, it is not you they hate, it is Me. They have turned their backs on Me.’ Do you know that by getting married, you could be turning your back on God because if the marriage is not from God and you do it because you see people around you are doing it, God regards it as turning your back on Him.
Marriage is based on sexual attraction. When have just got married, all each partner can think of is the other one and the love for the other partner is so great that the one would do anything for the other. But as the years go by, they become more and more selfish and more and more concerned about themselves and in the end, it is just all about ‘me’.
If a person was told by God to marry and later God disappears from the picture, you have put your hand to the plough and you have looked back. Dear Mphakamiseni and Noluthando, no matter how your marriage may grow, may God remain first. Do not allow anything - no children, nothing – to take the place of God in your heart.
40% of South African marriages end up in divorce. If not divorce, you get another wife in another place. People say that their marriage has become ‘hell on earth’. I cannot tolerate it any longer.
Court documents in which partners speak about one another, have statements like these documents: there was a breakdown in communication; we no longer talked to one another or shared our needs; he was becoming bored. (Yes, if you watch pornography, your wife will become boring. Wives, if your husband is bored with you, 10 to 1 there is porn somewhere. Your husband can see images of 40 naked girls in 15 minutes. Then if he comes to his wife, it is the same old body which he knows for 30 years. It is boring. It does not do anything to him because porn has crept in.) He felt as if he was imprisoned with just one wife.
In court women say things like: It was an accumulation of many things. He accuses me of being busy with unnecessary things. He accuses me of being busy with the children and other activities. Do you see the selfishness? He ignores her achievements. He no longer says thank you. He does not give her credit for anything she does. She sews, she makes money for the family but it is nothing to him. He does not thank her for that.
(Married couples, this is what he complains about: Night after night he is pushed away and ignored. Friends, allow me this one sentence – never use the marriage bed as a weapon to get back at the other partner.)
She said he was harsh and brutal. He was rude to me. He often embarrassed me in public and put me to shame in front of everyone. He said that she criticises everything I do. She makes me feel that I am not adequate, not enough for her. She said that she felt lonely and unappreciated, with no claim to personal identity. He said that she felt self-pity. He said that she did not understand. She says that he does not care.
If God does not stay at the centre of your marriage, if it does not remain holy, if you do not remain in a place where you own nothing and all belongs to God, things will go wrong. How many of us here are in marriages which are no longer happy?
How tragic, how heart breaking, that none of the marriage partners asked, ‘What do You say, Lord?’ Do you allow the Lord to show you your faults? Can the Lord still point His finger at you? Can God still say it is your mistake, not your spouse’s mistake. In marriage it is important to be happy but any pain experienced or any difficulty or stress can become an excuse to leave the marriage.
We thank the Lord we have two young people who on the first day of their marriage can see that which is not seen. Continue and persevere in seeing the One who cannot be seen. You will be able to see Him in the Bible. If you leave this Holy Book, you will not see Him clearly, you will lose the sound of His voice, you will say things you should not say, you will walk around with things in your heart that you should not harbour. If you should get to such a point, there are older people who can counsel you. Go to them for advice with soft and humble hearts. If you need to be reprimanded, accept it.
I understand, Noluthando, that you have also walked quite a journey with God. You have also chosen the Kingdom of God. Continue and persevere in that way.