Lazarus, come out!

Introduction Nico Bosman
We greet the listeners and those who will listen at a later stage in the wonderful name of our Lord. It is our prayer that the Lord will have something for each person. It is a wonderful Sunday morning and it has been an amazing week where we saw God at work. Does a day go by without people arriving to see what God is doing? I accompanied visitors who came for the first time. They were so touched, not because we preached to them - they see God’s work and are touched. When they come onto the premises, they feel something. They want to bring additional people to also receive this.

A man who has been coming for a few years says that every time he enters the gates, he feels something. He just comes to do his work, but he leaves revived. He helps us with some of the work. It is wonderful to be with people who have experienced something. God is working and He is still on the throne. We must remain faithful in serving Him. We thank Him for what He is doing.

We are especially thankful to see one of our mothers with us this morning. We thank the Lord for the older people who have held up Rev Stegen’s hands up for many years. They advise, guide and teach us every day. May the Lord keep and bless them.

Yesterday, I saw the movie Sound of Freedom. It publicises child trafficking. The purpose of the film is to raise awareness. Satan attacks children. Children are taken, they disappear and are used for all kinds of evil. It is terrible and shocking thing if you see what is happening. Millions are in slavery. There are more people in slavery today than ever before in history. Children are used against their will.

Someone recently explained why the devil attacks children. Children are close to God’s heart. They are the closest to purity. We are all born in sin but children are undefiled. Satan attacks children because it is the closest he can get to God’s heart. If the devil can destroy a child, it’s a victory for him. It seems like his attack is now on the children. We must not be mistaken in thinking that it only happens in other countries. I saw a letter from the police in PMB asking people to look after their children because they are disappearing. They hand around in areas around the school and meet the children when the leave after school. They offer the children a lift and you never see them again.

Let us be aware of what is happening around us. Be careful where you leave your children. Look after them. Let us pray that the Lord will help us against this evil. If the devil is after our children, he will also be after them spiritually. Be aware of that too. Do not be caught unawares. The movie opens one’s mind to what is out there.

Detlef Stegen
The movie has an age restriction. We thank the Lord for what we have heard. We are thankful that we could attend a conference in Rumania where they celebrated the 25th anniversary of the work there. We are led by the mighty hand of God. There was an 80-year-old man at the conference who had attended all the services for 25 years. The people longed to hear Rev Stegen preaching again and they had hoped he would come. We thank the Lord for the seed that has been planted. Today we see the fruit.

We heard that when Rev Stegen preached there in the early years, the accommodation was not too good. It was sometimes extremely hot. Rev Stegen slept in a room upstairs that faced the sun and he preached in overheated buildings. One night it rained and later they heard that Rev Stegen had moved his bed around to avoid the leaking roof. Initially, Rev Koller did not know the language well and an interpreter was needed for Rev Stegen. Rev Koller was told that he would interpret for Rev Stegen. He tried with all his heart to do it properly. Today he says that it was such a privilege to interpret for Rev Stegen all these years. He sends his greetings to all the brethren and co-workers with the responsibility that he has.

I spoke to a young girl in counselling in relation to this movie. Her home circumstances sounded like a fairy tale. A family should be a place of refuge. A father should be respected and appreciated; he is supposed to be the head of the house. A mother should be a mother to her daughters. If Satan has his way, everything is turned upside down. You do not know whether the father had become a maniac or what had entered his soul. The mother attended a church where the pastor used the Bible in sorcery and witchcraft. Her brothers were vagabonds in the home. One day she said, ‘Stop!’ There was such innocence on her face. Jesus said, “Do not hinder the little ones from coming to me for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 9:14 We thank Rev Koller who has a heart for the little ones. He received it through the gospel that was proclaimed by Rev Stegen and the forerunners of this gospel.

This little girl was on the mission whenever she had a free moment. She did not want to return home. When the mother said she had to return home, she wept because she did not want to go. May the Lord hear our prayers for these young ones. If God determines to work, who can stop it? What can stop it? Even if the world hates us, Christians hate us and theologians do not approve of this gospel - if the fruit is good, surely the tree must be sound.

It is stubbornness and unwillingness that stops the Lord’s work and what He has determined even in your own life. A proverb in English says: You can lead a horse to the water but you cannot make it drink. It is only God who can touch hearts and lives. Do not harden your heart. Let this service serve that purpose.

43 When he had said these things, he cried out with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out.” 44 The man who had died came out, his hands and feet bound with linen strips, and his face wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.” 45 Many of the Jews therefore, who had come with Mary and had seen what he did, believed in him…John 11:43-45

How wonderful if you hear these words, ‘Lazarus, come out!’ Have you heard the voice of Jesus calling your name? In your cave where you are dead to people and things around you? Jesus speaks a word and calls out to those who are dead in their sin. Sin brings death.

Adam and Eve were told that they should not eat a specific fruit lest they die. You can be alive according to human standards, you can read your Bible and pray, you can have prayer meetings, you can be the leader of the youth and you can manipulate your position too. There was a man who called himself a preacher. His friend had a girlfriend. This preacher wanted to marry the girl. He went for counselling and pointed out the wrong that his friend was busy with. In the meantime, his intention was to get the girl for himself. You can go for counselling. You can seem pious. You can seem to do what is right and expected of you, but you have a hidden agenda. If you go for counselling, reveal your hidden agenda because preachers can have very hidden agendas. His friend parted with his girlfriend and the minister took the girl to his home. Girls, open your eyes. You think you are marrying an angel, but he is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. You will regret it after you have made the decision.

How wonderful if Jesus has called you out of the grave and are alive and alert. Jesus can lead you into all the truth. Have you come out of the tomb and allowed yourself to be unwrapped from the stench of death or are you a hypocrite? While you attend church or a conference, you do your best to ensure that people do not find out that you are hiding something. Have you forsaken your sin?

A German writer from about 1650 says in the song: Jesu meine fruede. Goodnight my sin. Goodbye my sin. Stay in your darkness.

These are people who have experienced salvation and have a living testimony. Lazarus’s sisters loved the Lord and He loved them but when their brother died they asked Jesus the Saviour for help. In your need, cry to the One who can help you. It is wonderful that the Lord is available, and He helps everyone in need. He calls you out of death.

Do you realise that sin corrupts? It enters your mind and feelings. Are you sensitive and alert to these things that will bring corruption and cause your death? How wonderful that the Lord told the people to unwrap Lazarus and allow him to go free. How wonderful that there are people from whom you can receive help which you have never dreamt of.

Allow me to read about a man who one day said, ‘I am not dead.’ Thomas Webb helped establish Methodism in America. He had initially chosen a soldier’s career, but he was wounded and returned to England only to be retired on captain’s pay. In 1764 he was converted to Christ under the preaching of John Wesley. He soon began applying his military mind in the campaign for souls. He was an ardent preacher in England and Ireland. In 1766 he went to America as a soldier for Christ. In New York City Captain Webb fired up a discouraged preacher named Philip Embery assisting him in preaching the gospel. New York population was about 15 000. Webb saw the potential and joined several others in constructing a small chapel 42 x 60 ft with a seating capacity of 700. It was built of stone and covered with blue plaster. The benches had no backs. Candles provided light. It was a plain building, but worshippers claimed it had the beauty of holiness. Afterwards Captain Webb travelled far and wide to Long Island, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Delaware, Jamaica and Europe. During his periodic stops in England, he continually urged Wesley to send more preachers to the colonies. Those who met Webb never forgot him, chiefly because of his dangling sword and a large green over-sized patch that covered his left eye, the result of his war wounds in September 1759 during the battle of Louisburg. It was described this way: A ball hit him on the bone which guards the right eye and taking an oblique direction, burst the eyeball, passed through his palette and into his mouth. He swallowed it. A comrade said, ‘He is dead enough.’ Webb replied, ‘No, I am not dead.’ In three months he was able to rejoin his comrades. He was never ashamed of his scars.

Are you alive or dead? Can you say with Captain Webb, ‘No, I am not dead.’

History teaches us that times of great tribulation bring great victories. If you are attacked from every side, if you experience things you never dreamed of, if you have disappointments that rock your soul, if there are scars – do not be ashamed of them. Times of great tribulation bring great victory. This mission bears testimony to times of great tribulation. We read of a refiner and his pot of gold. The hotter the fire, the purer the gold. We have heard from Rev Stegen that even if you have become as old as a cow, you are still in a school. How wonderful if the Lord saves you and how wonderful if you have an enduring heart in tribulation. We are looking to the end.

He who refreshes others will himself be refreshed. Proverbs 11:25 This is a great lesson which we must learn. To get something we must give. To make ourselves happy, we must make others happy. To become vigorous spiritually we must seek the spiritual good of others. Our strength for work is hidden from ourselves until we venture forth to fight the Lord’s battles or climb the mountains of difficulty. We do not know what tender sympathies we possess until we try to dry the widow’s tears and sooth the orphan’s grief. We often find in attempting to teach others, we gain instructions for ourselves, Oh, what gracious lessons some of us have learnt at sick beds. We went to teach the scriptures and came away blushing that we knew so little of them. In conversation with poor saints, we are taught the way of God more perfectly for ourselves and get a deeper insight into divine truths. So that watering others makes us humble. Our own comfort is also increased by our working for others. We try to cheer them up and the consolation gladdens our own heart. Like the two men in the snow, one chaffed the other’s limbs to keep him from dying and in so doing kept his own blood in circulation and saved his own life. The poor widow of Zarephath gave from her scanty supply for the prophet once and from that day on she never knew what want was. Give and it will be given to you a good measure pressed down and shaken together and running over will be poured into your lap. Luke 6:38 Charles Spurgeon

This is all proof that when you are alive you will be driven by the life that Christ gives.

In closing, when Saul came to conversion (Acts 9:1-18) and was thrown down because of Jesus Christ, he was blinded and had to be led. He reached Damascus with his dreams and his fervor smashed to bits and pieces because he resisted and fought Jesus. He did not eat or drink for 3 days. Then the Lord spoke to Annanias who was in Damascus. How wonderful that there are disciples whom Jesus can talk to. The Lord instructed him to go to Saul of Tarsus and to lay his hands on him. Annanias said, ‘Lord, I have heard of him – he is our great enemy.’ (v13) But the Lord instructed him to go and he went.

17 So Ananias departed and entered the house. And laying his hands on him he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus who appeared to you on the road by which you came has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” Acts 9:17

The Lord can rid a person of the spirit of persecution, hatred and the wish to bind and punish people and fill him with His Holy Spirit. There is a great change when God’s Holy Spirit enters a person’s life, your mind is changed, your attitude, your character is changed.

I thank God for everyone who comes to this place and meets with the holiness of God and can experience the beauty of holiness. Jesus can call you from death into life through His disciples. Jesus could have done it Himself, but He sent Annanias. Immediately something like scales fell from his eyes and he received his sight. He arose and was baptized. God had selected Saul to be His chosen vessel to bear His name before Gentile kings and the children of Israel. 15 But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel. 16 For I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name.” Acts 9:15 Suffering for Christ’s sake is a crown but for the ungodly it is a shame.

These are words of life. Have they been able to bless you? Are you willing to bear His name? Are you willing to take His yoke upon yourself? For My yoke is easy and My burden is light. Is this not a wonderful gospel? A victory among all victories. May God lead us as the leader of God’s army and His host. We can still experience great victories with Christ. Hear His voice that calls your name. You may have heard it many times calling your name. Were you obstinate? Did you know better? You will remain in your bad odour. Saul suddenly increased in strength and everyone was amazed – he became the great enemy.

May the Lord do what He has purposed in your life. Do not be ashamed of your scars. Paul said From now on let no one cause me trouble, for I bear on my body the marks of Jesus. Galatians 6:17

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