Engagement of Sandile Zondi & Debbie Ximba
We greet you in the wonderful name of our Lord Jesus Christ, those who are present and who have joined us via radio and livestreaming. It is grace alone that has kept us safe in the hand of our Lord and that we can experience this day.
Today is an engagement service between the Zondi and Ximba families from the Claridge congregation. We thank the Lord for young men and women who have chosen the way of purity and holiness to get engaged and married. It is a day of great joy for the parents. How wonderful when, on the wedding day, each one can say to the other, you are the first one whose hand I have held, there has never been anyone else.
In Abraham’s old age he received a son, Isaac. He had thought he would pass away before seeing his daughter-in-law. He spoke to his chief servant and told him to return to his people and find a wife for his son. He commanded him not to take a wife from the Canaanites. He had noticed something among the people whom he lived, and he did not want a wife for his son from them. His servant took an oath to do as Abraham requested. It was not an easy journey. But God sent His angel before him who opened the way. The servant did not know how he would recognise the girl. He prayed continually asking the Lord to guide him to the girl who would be a fitting wife for his master’s son.
This shows us how important it is to pray continually and wait upon the Lord, understanding that God provides.
He asked the Lord that the girl would not only give him water to drink, but also water his camels. This would then be a sign that she was meant for his master’s son. The Lord answered his prayer. She was not lazy. She was ready for anything. Watering camels is not a small task - but she was ready for it.
I greet you this morning and trust that we will be able to see and hear things from the Lord.
The Gospel is wonderful and glorious. A person can be saved from their sin. These are good tidings for the whole world to hear. We thank the Lord for such good news. Is this good news to you, young man and woman? It is wonderful if you can agree with us about this good news. God does something which the world thinks impossible, and it is wonderful to be part of it. We thank the leader and founder of this work who cared for us when we were children, so we could become a part of the work and have a heart that is inclined to God’s working. This is something which comes from the heart of our Lord whom we serve.
A small team visited Kenya a short while ago. We preached in the church of the pastor who invited us. This pastor visited us years ago. On some evenings we preached under the stars. The pastor bought a PA system for this occasion so he could blare out the message into that town as loudly as possible. We spoke to churchgoers about purity and the exemplary lives that the church should uphold for all to see. The pastor said that the message of purity is the message they need. Afterwards he said to me, ‘If immoral girls come to church, I pray with them and tell them that if they come to this church, they must leave their immoral lifestyle. I am not prepared to accommodate them in this church if they do not want to change their lifestyle.’
This pastor has a heart for street children. When he has money, he cooks a meal, invites the people and they eat together. If the children come again requesting food and he has no resources, he tells them, and they are satisfied because they know the pastor has a heart for them. The pastor had to leave his home because there was no food, so he knows what it means to live off the streets.
We have something in common with this pastor. He does not beg for money; he says all I have I received from the Lord’s hand. I trust Him for all I do. We are drawn to such people. They hear the message of Christ, the message of purity, of separation from sin, of a new life in Christ. That is what binds us together, that is where we feel at home. The team that went there said that they could have stayed longer or could have been sent again tomorrow if needs be. We had a blessed time. We could relate much more.
We thank the couple who is getting engaged today for living exemplary lives which your church need not be ashamed of. We trust that you have the assurance in your hearts that you have been cleansed by the blood that cleanses the vilest sin and that you have been able to grow up under the Gospel and devote your lives to the Lord and His service.
We are happy that Sandile, our brother, is taking a decision to stay faithful until his marriage day. I stand between them today but there will be nobody between them on their wedding day. With this ring he says that he will be faithful until the marriage day and by accepting this ring, Debbie promises to remain faithful until the marriage day. It is a great joy for the parents, and we are grateful on their behalf for children who have chosen to get engaged in this pure way. For those who have been praying for them, counselling and helping them in various ways, this is a great day as well.
Today’s text is from Matthew 1.
18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. Matthew 1:18
This word says, Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. Jesus’ beginning was in purity. Jesus entered this world through a pure girl, a pure young woman. She was betrothed to Joseph, a young upright man. He was upright before they came together. They were betrothed, but separate. God chose to send His Son to this earth through people who were pure.
Do you see the intents of God? He seeks to work through a life that is pure. Do not expect God to work in your church, in your family, in whatever circumstance you might make yourself available to if you are not pure. He seeks a pure vessel.
The Scribes and Pharisees who knew the Scriptures all too well, did not grasp this mystery – Jesus has come and He was born of a virgin.
What is a betrothal? Mary was betrothed to Joseph. What does that word mean? A betrothal is a mutual promise for a contract of future marriage. But how will you ever enter marriage pure if you have not received purity of heart, if you have not made a promise, a consent, a contract with Jesus, your Saviour? There is a song which says, ‘I have decided to follow Jesus.’ I have told myself I will live a pure life, leave my sins and be faithful in my decision to be with Jesus. Have you made a decision with and for Christ? In Hosea He says, 19 And I will betroth you to me forever. Hosea 2:19
We may think that it is a great thing to decide for Christ. Many testify that they have made a commitment to Christ. The great question is: are you true to your commitment? You can say that you have decided for Jesus and that is where it ends. But the song says, ‘My commitment to the Lord, has caused me to forsake my sin.’ That is true commitment to the Lord. I am thankful that in this revival we sing this song, ‘My decision for Christ turned me away from my sin.’ Commitment and turning from sin work hand in hand. If you only make a decision but do not turn from sin, you have made half a contract. You are not betrothed to the One who says He wants to betroth you forever.
I found something written by Mr M G Mukisa from Uganda, a consultant and a man of influence. It is wonderful to read some of his advice and counsel. How many people of Africa stand up with solid advice and talk like this? He says, ‘Great people make great promises.’ You can only be a man of integrity to make a promise and a commitment. God’s word teaches us we should not glibly make an oath and that He will require that oath from us.
How wonderful to have a servant like Abraham’s who was willing to take the oath saying, ‘I will find a true wife for my master’s son. This is a serious matter. My master instructed me not to just take anyone, anyone you see on the street, anyone who speaks well, anyone who sings beautifully.’ He took the responsibility on himself and said, ‘I will be true to my master.’
We require men of integrity in Africa who, if they sign a contract, take the responsibility for that contract and see it through to the end. Not that the community suffers because of their contracts, and because they are not loyal and faithful to their contracts.
Great men, not just great people, make great promises. Great men. Are you a man of your word, and if you take an office and make an oath, you stand by it - whether you are in that position for 10 or 20 years. You remember the oath you took in public, and I trust that you took the oath before God, not that you have made that oath of office a circus. If you want to be a great man, you will want to keep your promises.
Mr Mukisa told the story of Abraham Lincoln, the 16th president of the USA. Lincoln never indulged in drinking alcohol of any type, let alone tasting it. It is said that once the president was offered a drink by one of his military colonels in the US army. Lincoln turned down the offer saying that when his mother was on her deathbed, she had summoned him as a 9-year-old boy and asked for his promise that he would never take a drink or smoke. Lincoln then said, ‘I promised my mother that I never would, and up to this hour I have kept my promise.’ The colonel is said to have replied, ‘No, Mr Lincoln, I wouldn’t have you do it for the world. It was one of the best promises you ever made. I would give 1000 dollars today if I had made my mother a promise like that and had kept it as you have done.’ I wonder what $1000 was worth at that time.
How much is your promise worth to Jesus? Have you become intoxicated by something and you are willing to drink, even if others do not. As a father, what legacy do you leave behind for your sons and daughters? You come to church with your family, you have made certain demands on your children but when you are away from church, with your friends, away at work, do you remember your betrothal, your promise, your commitment?
Imagine Sandile and Debbie as an example. We rejoice with them today and are looking forward to something precious that Jesus has prepared for them – the beginning of a chapter in their lives that can be blessed abundantly and then imagine after two or three weeks we hear she is on the streets of Durban or Johannesburg, someone might have invited her. Was our joy in vain, we might ask? Didn’t she realise that her promise was a standing promise? What if we heard that the young man had gone off with some friends on a joy ride, and we have no idea where he has gone to. This person who promised himself to faithfulness for eternity. What would Jesus experience if you were unfaithful? He promised Himself to you eternally, but you are unfaithful and run away. That is why I speak about a promise today, a promise to our Lord and Saviour, an eternal promise. The day of reckoning is coming.
Jesus once told the parable of a man who sowed good seed in his field. At night the enemy came and sowed weeds in the same field. The servants then came to the owner and said, ‘Master, you sowed good seed here, how is it that there are weeds sprouting among the good seed. Shouldn’t we pull everything out and get rid of all the weeds?’
The master said, ‘No, lest you damage the good seed. Let both grow together until the harvest.’
Friend, are you allowing weeds in your kingdom, your realm, your life? As a church goer, you love the good seed and allow God to sow it in the field of your heart. Do you allow the enemy to sow weeds in among the good seed? If you are a good steward, you will watch and ensure that your borders and boundaries are secure so that the enemy will not enter and spoil the good field. Or are you waiting for the harvest when the weeds will be harvested and bound together, and the corn harvested and bound together? The weeds will be thrown into the fire. But the shocking thing is that this passage is not talking about weeds but about souls headed for destruction and a fiery furnace.
Do you take after Abraham Lincoln who said that until this hour, I have kept the promise I made to my mother on her deathbed as a 9-year old boy? Be sure that if you make a promise to the Lord, He will require it of you. For the harvest is coming.
What a day for the righteous that will be! What a day for a Joseph and a Mary. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Matthew 13:43 Let the life of Jesus shine out of your life. To the engaged couple, let Jesus shine in and through your lives. Those who come to church, come to receive light and life from Christ. Why else do you come? You should shine in your family if you are the only one. You should bring the light to your family.
Although Mary was very young, she could say amazing things that we read today and ask, ‘Can a young girl praise God with such words?’ Can an old man like Abraham Lincoln say these words, ‘I have kept my promise to this hour?’ Whether his colonels and army were drinkers or drunkards, that did not affect him as president. He said, ‘I have kept my promise to this hour.’
One day Jesus said, ‘28 I tell you, among those born of women none is greater than John. Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.” Luke 7:28 He Himself was the light of the world, what should our lives be like?
If you are still in darkness, are there dark corners which you have not confessed and which you are unwilling to admit to. Can you admit, I am the sinner, not so-and-so?
May the couple who is getting engaged today let your light shine! Let Jesus be seen. Through the testimony of your life, those who are in darkness can see the light and be attracted to it, saying this is the life and I want it, I need it.
May the Lord help us. We come to the church. The church is a place of light and life. The invitation is there, the choice is yours. Every hour of the day you must make a choice, whether you will choose to be faithful and true to your promise. May the Lord help us.
Conclusion Michael Ngubane
We thank the Lord for the amazing words we have heard. 5 It is better that you should not vow than that you should vow and not pay. Ecclesiastes 5:5
This service reminds us of the promises we once made to Jesus, and whether we have been true to them. Many who have given their lives to Jesus, said to Him, ‘Lord, we will serve you to the end.’ You may fail to be true – in the morning or during the day – to that promise that you would serve Jesus to the end. It might have been a small temptation that crossed your path but it made you forget everything - your promises to the Lord - and you were taken up by the enjoyment or splendour of the moment and the promise you made to Jesus seemed like nothing compared to what you could get in that moment.
There is a day of judgement coming, a day of truth, where we must stand before God and give an account of each and every promise made. You will have to say whether you were true to the end, not only today. Do not apply this word to the person next to you, apply it to your own life. We will need to appear alone before the judgement seat of God to give an account.
How wonderful to say like Abraham Lincoln that he was true to the promise he made to his mother as a boy. When he reached that position and he mixed with the crowds, right there he did not forget the promise he made. Many people forget the promises they made when they attend some function.
There are young men like Joseph who were tempted but did not sin because they realised before Whom they stood. If you go into immorality and unfaithfulness, people like Joseph will condemn you one day and say we were in a similar situation to yours, but we did not sin.
May we remind ourselves of our promises made to God.
You might fail to keep your promise to the next person. You borrow money and say you will return it the next day but you do not. You do not keep your promises – even the simple ones and you are guilty before God.
Young people when we live our lives, we live before people and before God.