Ruth Combrink: We were privileged as a team from the mission, to attend a youth conference in India. My father went to India twelve years ago and Kjell Olsen, 7 years ago. Both went for the same youth conference that we attended. It was a joy for the people to have visitors from the mission again.
In India only 2% of the population are Christians; 80% are Hindus, 14% are Moslems. They explained how difficult it has become for Christians in India. They are hungry for the revival message the Lord has given us. They have branches in India and Africa. There were about 600 young people at the conference and they were mainly from their church. Their yearning was that young people would be called into the ministry.
They spent 15 days setting up the conference area - a place which is normally used for agriculture throughout the year. When they have the conference, they clear the land and prepare it. The people sleep there and have their meals there. They sit on the ground for 3 - 4 hours at a time. They are hungry for what the Lord has for them. My father was there 12 years ago but they had not forgotten what they received through him. This challenged me and I considered us who hear the revival message - has it hardened us or put fire in our bones to continue with the gospel and save souls?
Most of the coworkers involved in the work come out of Hinduism. It was wonderful to hear the testimonies of how they found the Lord and what it costs them to live for the Lord in their families.
We showed the film of my father’s life and The Narrow Way. The Lord blessed it and worked among the people. After the conference, 130 young people felt called into God’s work. They asked for prayer that the Lord would continue working and that the gospel would spread throughout the country and that India would become Christian.
Uncle Hans Koller mentioned to us that there are elderly people in Romania who long for the time when they were persecuted under communism because of the sad state of the present church. The freedom after communism has dampened the fire of the gospel in the churches. In South Africa and the West, the world takes away the deep relationship with the Lord. Rev Stegen and others have pioneered the way for us to be able to spread the gospel. It was not easy for them. May we not be guilty one day, when we stand before the Lord, of preferring ease and not continuing with the revival message the Lord has given us.
Ntokozo Nhlabathi: It is good to be back at home. We had a wonderful and precious time. We live so well and during the youth conferences here we are spoiled. The tents we have are excellent in comparison to the tents there, which are pieces of cloth put together in the shape of a tent.
For 15 days before the conference, they prepared the place and then the conference of 6 days took place. Three hours of sleep is more than enough for them. They sleep on sails on the ground, there are no mattresses. But they are happy to attend the services with smiling faces, their Bibles and notebooks.
In the first service they related how they remember Rev Stegen. They remember all the details of what he did and yet we forget what he did just a short while ago.
Young people, coworkers, we were challenged. Do we have that longing to bring the gospel to the places where it has not been?
Dorothy Newlands: It was a privilege for me and I praise God for the opportunity I had. It was wonderful to be with the team. Brethren, to see people in other parts of the world who are on fire for the Lord, humbles me. Their faces depict the fact that they are Christians. They came from the different places where they work to be where God is working. It was a joy to see their love for the Lord and their thirst for the message of revival. The bright faces of the children while they sat and listened made it seem as if they could not get enough. They do not know what they will meet up with when they return to their homes.
On the weekend, there was a large festival with many parades and rituals, but these people were there to seek God. Many of them are very educated. Some have degrees and high positions in various fields, but they took part of their holiday to be at the conference. The people who cooked were engineers and IT specialists, as well as doctors.
May God give us a love to do His will and His work. I looked at a list of missionaries from the 1700s who were in India. The fruit of their work is still there because God’s work is an eternal work. How sad if we store for ourselves treasures on earth instead of storing treasures in heaven, by telling others about the Lord and His salvation.
We were in Andhra Pradesh in the southeast of India where it is winter now. Every day it was about 33ºC. It did not matter what discomfort they endured, they were eager to hear God’s word. They could not get enough of the testimonies of what God has done. It made them rejoice. May we remember them in prayer.
We thank the Lord for what we have heard and thank the team who reported back. Thank you for the singing of the choir before the service. It’s amazing how it works. The more you see God working, the more you grow in God, but the more you realise that you are nothing and you do not deserve anything. It is God’s work that he is doing.
My topic today is God’s favour on our lives. Are our lives such that God’s favour can be on them? Is my life pleasing to Him?
26 In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, 27 to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin's name was Mary. 28And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favoured one, the Lord is with you!” 29But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. 30And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favour with God. Luke 1:26 -30
Some translations say: God is pleased with you. Blessed are you. What can be better than if God says I am pleased with you. The Zulu Bible says, ‘You have found grace - undeserved favour.’ It is undeserved. It is a favour that God bestows on our lives if we please Him.
The angel said to Mary, ‘You have found God’s favour.’ One translation says, ‘You are highly favoured by God.’ Is God’s favour on your life? Is your life of such a quality that God can say that He is pleased with you and will bless you?’ Is God’s favour on your life?
What is your prayer life like? Does the Lord answer your prayers? Does He speak to you? Does He do things in your life? Can you see His hand in what you are doing? Is God’s favour on your life? If not, what hinders God? Be honest and ask yourself whether God’s favour is on your life. If we could answer that question, we could close the service and go home. There is One whom we need to please and that is God. In every situation, in everything we do, do we please God in such a way that His favour rests on us? If you do not feel God’s favour, it is not on your life.
When we read this text, we know very little of Mary, but we know that God’s favour was on her life. There are many whom God could have chosen to give birth to Jesus, but God chose Mary. If God wants to do something today, can He select you? Whether it is something big or small, does He want to use you. If God wants to do something in your family, can He use you? If not, why not?
31 When the Son of Man comes in His glory (His majesty and splendour), and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. 32 All nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them [the people] from one another as a shepherd separates his sheep from the goats; 33 And He will cause the sheep to stand at His right hand, but the goats at His left. 34 Then the King will say to those at His right hand, Come, you blessed of My Father [you favoured of God and appointed to eternal salvation], inherit (receive as your own) the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. Matthew 25:31 -34 (AMPC)
God’s favour must be on my life, not people’s favour. God sees my heart and my innermost being and I must have favour from Him. We know how to please people, but do we know how to please God? Is it a part of your life to ask how can you please God? If you face a situation, ask yourself, if I do this, will I please God? If not, do not do it. God is the one whose favour we must gain. We must win His favour. Very often, if you find God’s favour, you find favour with His children. You may not find good favour with the Christian beside you because God’s favour is not on your life. God’s favour may be on my fellow Christian’s life and not on mine - which is the reason why you do not get along.
Mary was obedient to God.
38 Then Mary said, Behold, I am the handmaiden of the Lord; let it be done to me according to what you have said. And the angel left her. Luke 1:38
45 And blessed (happy, to be envied) is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of the things that were spoken to her from the Lord. Luke 1:45
Mary trusted God. She obeyed God. She told the servant later in her life, at the wedding in Cana, ‘…to do everything Jesus said.’ She was obedient. When God speaks we ought to obey.
There are other people in the Bible who had God’s favour upon their lives. I will briefly touch on them.
God’s favour was upon Moses.
Now Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses because of the Cushite woman whom he had married (for he had married a Cushite woman); 2 and they said, “Has the Lord really spoken only through Moses? Has He not spoken also through us?” And the Lord heard it. 3 (Now the man Moses was very humble (gentle, kind, devoid of self-righteousness), more than any man who was on the face of the earth.) 4 Suddenly the Lord said to Moses, Aaron, and Miriam, “Come out, you three, to the Tent of Meeting (tabernacle).” And the three of them came out. 5 The Lord came down in a pillar of cloud and stood at the doorway of the tabernacle, and He called Aaron and Miriam, and they came forward. 6 And He said, “Hear now My words: If there is a prophet among you, I the Lord will make Myself known to him in a vision and I will speak to him in a dream. 7 “But it is not so with My servant Moses; He is entrusted and faithful in all My house. 8“With him I speak mouth to mouth [directly], clearly and openly and not in riddles; and he beholds the form of the Lord. Why then were you not afraid to speak against My servant Moses?” Numbers 12:1-8
Moses was a humble man; God’s favour was on his life. He had no self-righteousness. He did not think he was better than others.
He was devoid of self-righteousness. There was not a trace of this. It did not exist in his life. God’s favour was on his life.
The opposite of humility is pride. Pride is a terrible sin. It changed Lucifer from an angel of light into Satan. Even God resists the proud. He Himself turns against you.
You can say - and most Christians do - ‘I am not a proud person.’ Pride may be set down as the sin of human nature. If there is a sin that is universal, it is this. Where is it not to be found? Hunt among the highest and loftiest in the world, and you shall find it there; and then go and search amongst the poorest and the most miserable, and you shall find it there. There may be as much pride inside a beggar’s rags as in a prince’s robe. Charles Spurgeon
Pride affects every person. It is something we must guard against.
Is there any man in whose life pride does not lurk? When we fancy that we have clean escaped from pride, it is only because we have lost the sense of its weight through being surrounded with it. A man who bears a bowl of water feels its weight, but if he goes right into the water, it will be all over him, and yet he will not notice the burden of it. He who lives in pride up to the neck, — nay, he who is over head and heels in pride, is the most likely to imagine that he is not proud at all. Charles Spurgeon
Beware of pride. It can even enter when you do God’s work.
Mr. Bunyan said on one occasion, after he had done preaching, a brother came to him, and said, “You have preached an admirable sermon.” “Ah!” said Bunyan, “you are too late; the devil told me that before I got down the pulpit stairs.” Charles Spurgeon
We can be proud when God is working. It is God’s work, not mine.
Another person who had God’s favour on his life was Noah.
5 The Lord saw that the wickedness (depravity) of man was great on the earth, and that every imagination or intent of the thoughts of his heart were only evil continually. 6 The Lord regretted that He had made mankind on the earth, and He was [deeply] grieved in His heart. 7 So the Lord said, “I will destroy (annihilate) mankind whom I have created from the surface of the earth—not only man, but the animals and the crawling things and the birds of the air—because it [deeply] grieves Me [to see mankind’s sin] and I regret that I have made them.” 8 But Noah found favour and grace in the eyes of the Lord.Genesis 6:5-8
Noah found God’s favour. God was pleased with him in a wicked world. Find favour with God where you are. Noah found God’s favour and then the Lord said he should build the ark. It was not because he built the ark that he found favour with God. He found God’s favour among wicked people and then God said he should build the ark. Find God’s favour where you are and in what you are doing - and He will use you.
God’s favour was on David. He was a man after God’s heart. David did not kill Saul even though Saul pursued and wanted to kill David. While Saul was asleep David got so close to him that he cut off a piece of his clothing, but he did not kill him. How often do we kill each other with our tongues through what we say?
David repented of his sin and never repeated it again. Many say, ‘but David sinned… I have never even committed that sin.’ But can you repent as he did? Never again do we read that David committed the sin again. If you are convicted of something, you confess it and make it right, but do you do it again? Does it always come back - and you continually confess it? It may be something small, but do you need to confess it over and over again? You must make a concerted effort not to repeat it. Pray that the Lord will help you and do not go there where the temptation is.
Also remember that great as the grace of God is in pardoning sin, he gives, with pardon, other mercies which are equally great, namely, repentance and renewal of heart. Wherever the forgiveness of sin comes, there comes with it a turning from sin, a leaving of sin, a fresh view of sin, a different estimate of it. Charles Spurgeon
A different estimate of it When you have confessed the sin, you see it in a different light. Not only do you confess it, but you see the danger of that sin anew, so you do not fall into that sin again.
Joseph was another man on whom God’s favour rested. Read Genesis 39. Joseph found favour with God and favour with the heathens around him. If you feel that everything is against you and circumstances oppose you, that things do not go my way, people do not understand, read the story of Joseph. God’s favour was on his life. It was difficult, but God’s favour was on him because he was faithful.
The Hebrides revival in the north of Scotland began with two sisters, Peggy and Christine Smith, who were 84 and 82 years old. One was blind; the other was crippled with arthritis. Humanly speaking, what could they do? The revival started through them. Men and women gave themselves to thinking about eternal things. God came down and worked.
When God came down and worked, he motivated the people to do the things that pleased him. He stirred the hearts of people to do what would make God happy. Everything they did was centred around what it meant for eternity. Does it please God?
Nearby, a dance was in progress, but the young people ran from it as though fleeing from a plague. They went to church. God did it because it pleased Him. Prayer was a dominant feature. How is your prayer life? Do you have an awareness of the presence of God. How can you please God if you are not aware of Him and you don’t even think of Him? God convicted the people of their sin and they wanted to confess their sin. There was great joy. Everywhere people rejoiced because of what God had sone for them. Heartfelt singing was heard. Love and unity were evident among young and old. There was some opposition from the church leaders.
Dear Christian, is God’s favour on your life? Is your life such that God wants to bless you? If it is not like that, repent today. Do what is necessary so that God can bless you. If He cannot bless us, the opposite is also true - we are not following Him the way He expects us to. May God help us and be merciful to us.
Conclusion Dietmar Joosten
We thank the Lord for His word. Joseph was able to say no to that woman who tempted him. He could say no to sin. Friends, note that. This is how we get God’s favour. This gives us a glimpse of what Joseph’s life was like. Daniel determined in his heart not to defile himself. Daniel found favour with the people for whom he worked. This word is more critical, more important than what you can imagine for your life. It is not how educated you are, where you come from, how much money you have. Favour with God results from purity. Does He work in your life to create the purity that God favours. Ask the older people whom God has kept in this revival and you will find one thread - by God’s grace, they kept that relationship with God pure. If there was something wrong, they made it right. You cannot overestimate this point. It brings about God’s purity in our lives and this is that God wants. This is why Satan opposes this gospel. It is what God can do through us because of his favour. It is not what we can plan or control – everything must come through Christ. He will sometimes take things from me to show me that He is in control, not you. God wants to work. He wants to use us. It’s not my work, your work, my ability or yours - but it’s God’s favour that enables us. May our lives change. Your life may be as it is because you have not given your life to God to purify it in the way He wants, not your way. Doesn’t God want to send you and use you? God wants to use our lives wherever we are. Are you prepared to let your life be purified?