Introduction Dietmar Joosten
I wish you a blessed and happy new year - joy always makes things easier. God has helped us in the past year. The most difficult times are usually the best, for that is when God carries us.
Never fight against God’s work. Be careful of your words. It is difficult to pick up the feathers of the hen you have plucked. Don’t touch the apple of the God’s eye.
I believe that Rev Stegen is one of the greatest missionaries this world has seen – look at how God started this work, how things were built up, how the projects have progressed and how He is still working. God taught us through this revival to consider the poor. There are large churches in Africa, but that is all it is – a large church. We thank God for what He has done, that He has protected His work and that we could celebrate 70 years of the ministry of a man - one man in history – and what God has done through this one man throughout the world. Most of the people who attended that function were from Africa. We thank God for the youth who attended the conference.
We experienced sad times as well. The Lord took people who were dear to us this last year - Oom Danie, my father, Uncle Ernie, Baba Skhakhane - they were men who built this mission.
We thank God that Rev Stegen is still with us. We fail to understand what his presence means for the work and for us. We thank God that the older co-workers have been kept for us. They are of great importance in God’s kingdom, and it is no wonder that Satan has tried to destroy some of them.
We praise God for the work he has done outside of the mission.
This place is unique. Young people you must understand this. What will you do for God and his kingdom? We also want to thank Baba Dube for the devotions he holds at the various departments. Sometimes he also visits the branches. We pray that the Lord will keep you. The Lord is with you and He carries you. We thank the Lord for the co-workers.
What is your plan for the year ahead for God? That is why you are here, otherwise you could be somewhere else. You only have one life to live. Have you asked God why you are here and why you have been brought up on the mission? Young people have gifts – do not hide them. There are so many who have gifts and woe to you if you do not use them to God’s glory.
I greet you in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. To have eyes that see the work that God is doing can be difficult. If we did have spiritual eyes that were open, we would respond with Amen. Starting this new year in human strength is impossible. The message from Rev Stegen to the congregation for the new year: may each one prepare and train for the mountain we will climb. We should be fit to climb that spiritual mountain. We wish everyone God’s blessing and the faithfulness and endurance to remain with the Lord.
The text for today is taken from Luke chapter 5.
On one occasion, while the crowd was pressing in on him to hear the word of God, he was standing by the lake of Gennesaret, 2 and he saw two boats by the lake, but the fishermen had gone out of them and were washing their nets. 3 Getting into one of the boats, which was Simon's, he asked him to put out a little from the land. And he sat down and taught the people from the boat. 4 And when he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.” 5 And Simon answered, “Master, we toiled all night and took nothing! But at your word I will let down the nets.” Luke 5:1-6
A new year often begins with resolutions. People have new desires and make new decisions as they begin the new year. Jesus was pressed by a crowd who wanted to hear the word of God. Because Jesus was so close to God, He could see the problems the people faced. His eyes saw, too, the fishermen who washed their nets. He climbed into one of their boats. Jesus never asked if He could; He knew what their need was. They had worked all night but had caught nothing. Once He was in the boat, He told them to cast out into the deep and He began to teach them.
Jesus had to teach the people what God expected from their lives. While He was in the boat teaching, the men were washing their nets. Why? They had caught nothing. They were washing their nets because they had worked all night, had tried everything, but nothing was successful. It seems as if the fishermen were not a part of this conversation and when Jesus had finished speaking to the crowd, He told them to cast their nets.
In this past year, was there something that made you wash nets because it never worked out for you. It may have been a situation in your family, a death in your family, where you reached the point of giving up because nothing helped anymore. You are washing your nets. You may have looked for a job – everyone else got a job except you and you feel that there is nothing left but to wash your nets. It may be a thorn in your flesh - a sickness - you have tried everything, but now have given up and are simply washing your nets.
Jesus spoke to the crowd and thereafter told Peter to cast his nets into the sea. Those things which have left you despondent and caused you to lose focus result in you washing your nets; those incidents where you feel you have lost out on a blessing which is for ‘those people’ and not you. Others experience miracles, others grow spiritually, but you do not involve yourself, you say it is not meant for you – because of this, you are now washing your nets.
We need to see the blessings. Some people are blind and do not see God’s miracles. With the 70-year celebration some saw the blessing and others said that it had nothing to do with them. If we remain uninvolved, we will continue washing our nets and keep ourselves separate. Jesus told Simon to, “Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.” Jesus did not say, “Give it a try.” He was confident and commanded them to go and let down their nets.
As we enter 2023 with the Lord, He is saying that we can conquer and be victorious this year. For us to experience more blessing and see more, we need to be in tune with Him and go deep. If we go deep and wrestle with the Lord, He will bless us - whether we get a job or not, whether we have food or not. If we wrestle with the Lord, we will receive Him, but we must go deep.
You might have been timid and said things you did not mean to - find courage, go deep and seek the Lord with all your heart. Has 2022 finished with you having something against someone else? Now you start the new year and yet you still have something against that person. How do you expect the Lord to bless you? You grade preachers and are blessed when certain preachers speak but not when others do, yet you expect the blessing of God? You greet some people with a smile but some you greet just to say that you have greeted. When we go deep, we must exercise to enable us to face the mountain before us.
When I grew up and we closed the day with prayer, before the amen we said, ‘As we draw near the end of the day, we also draw nearer to the day of our end…’ I realised later that the passing of every day and every year is a day and a year closer to the Lord’s return. We see the signs that indicate the Lord’s coming is at hand. Are we ready? Can we say, ‘Yes Lord, we are there. We are going into the deep.’?
Simon said that ‘…they had been fishing all night…’ That is the human perspective. Jesus’ response to his statement was, ‘Go out into the deep and cast your net.’ Often when Jesus wants to help people, a man’s mind stands in the way. Man knows better. A person whom you despise may advise you and so your response is: ‘I know a way that is much better.’ You lose out. The Lord is not like us. He does not need to repeat Himself. He said to Peter, ‘Go out into the deep and cast your net.’ Full stop. There was no need for dialogue and explanation, the Lord spoke to Peter once and told him what to do.
When the self in Simon had died, what happened? They caught so much more than they had ever imagined. They called others to help and load on their boats. When self dies, a new thing is born which can help others. When self in Rev. Stegen died, the Lord came down in that stable and moved in such a way that if we consider everything, we cannot fathom what the Lord has truly done. If the self in you died, how many people could be helped and saved by the Lord? How many people suffer because of the self in you. In our country people live without power and water because of the self in people. Many go hungry because they care only about themselves and not their neighbours. When self dies, a person will start noticing if the one next to him has something to eat. Otherwise, you care only for your family.
When Simon’s self died, when his reasoning was dealt with, he did what Jesus said and there was overflowing blessing.
You say you give your tenth, you have paid, you have done your duty but when your self has died you will look above and beyond your tenth and notice the need of your brother. Or is it as long as your family is fed and fine, all’s well.
If we go deep in this year and search for God’s will then we will make progress. Are we satisfied with where we are? We say, ‘Baba Dube can do the preaching, we will just sit.’ ‘Nico and them can sweat, we will sit.’ ‘The co-workers have been called, let them continue, we will sit.’ What has Jesus said, ‘Put down into the deep.’ ‘I have confessed my sins,’ you say, but that is not enough, Jesus says go into the deep. May the Lord be gracious to us and help us to go deep with the Lord. Let us pull together up the mountain we must climb.
Conclusion Dietmar Joosten
Thank you for this message. Peter was not touched by Jesus’ sermon, but by what Jesus did in their midst - which was something to do with the work Peter did. When he saw it, he asked the Lord to depart from him. Do that work that you do not want to do. There are those who are watching and who will be touched. Friends, we all have our own minds, but you have been called to be obedient to what the Lord, your parents and older people have told you.
I would like to thank the son-in-law of Rev Stegen, Dirk Combrink. He works unnoticed behind the scenes. God sees such people. Thank you for the way in which you care for your father. God sees it. There are also others whom God sees. May God bless you and may you care for Rev Stegen with all your strength. You are doing it for us all.
8/9 months ago, the doctors gave Rev Stegen 6 weeks to live. The Lord’s carried him through and strengthened him. He’s better now than he was at the beginning of the year. We thank the Lord for the honour the Lord’s given us to be able to be with him every day. If you wonder whether Baba is still who he is, it is a tremendous blessing to be with him. Some good advice – if you have a debt against Baba, settle it. If you have a debt towards the Lord because of things you thought or said against Baba or Ms Dube, settle that debt. We don’t make him a god, but his God is God.