Introduction Dietmar Joosten
We greet everybody in the wonderful name of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is so important that God teaches us His ways. When God speaks, we should understand. He speaks in ways which will make you stand in wonder. I have experienced this.
When I was with Rev Stegen in Namibia, we looked at things and he gave instructions, but in hindsight, I have come to realise that he was not speaking about Namibia, but about you and me. When he spoke, he was not referring to a literal desert, but he was speaking about our hearts. I said, “Lord, is that what you were saying to me?” He spoke a spiritual language. By God’s grace, God can open people’s hearts and minds. “Lord, what were You saying? Were You saying that the desert of this day would bloom?” Let us understand and pray that God will open our spiritual minds because we can hear, but not hear. God may speak, but I do not grasp that it is God Himself speaking to me so that I can change my life. That is why your life is as dead as it is, because you do not grasp His mysteries.
The disciples said, “Is this what the Lord was saying? What was He teaching us?” Let us forget others and listen to what God says. You may see people speaking and find fault, but I do not see it that way, I see it differently. You think you know what God is saying, but He says “No, that is not what I am saying.” We do not grasp the mystery of what God is saying to us. If someone says something to me, I see that person, I do not see God behind it. “Lord, grant me the grace to understand and do what You say I should do.”
May the Lord give all that which is on His heart. May you be open to it and have strength to receive it. God is good to us and to everyone who seeks to live according to God’s purpose and plan for his life. We had a funeral yesterday and it is wonderful how God prepares people for their death. It is inexplicable. It is wonderful. God is so gracious to us. God is greatly to be praised.
I read an account of a man who was beheaded together with four of his friends for preaching. His type of preaching was not acceptable to the authorities and they were to be beheaded for their faith. As he climbed the steps to his death, he said, “It is easier for me to climb up these steps than for me to walk up to the pulpit.” This demonstrates the earnestness with which he brought the word of God. We need abundant grace. We need God to stand with us to be able to speak that which will edify His children.
Let us read the following:
And Saul approved of his execution. And there arose on that day a great persecution against the church in Jerusalem, and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles. 2 Devout men buried Stephen and made great lamentation over him. 3 But Saul was ravaging the church, and entering house after house, he dragged off men and women and committed them to prison. Acts 8:1–3
This took place after the death of Stephen, the first martyr of the first church. Such a glorious death that he could see the Lord standing at the right hand of the Father and heaven opening to him as he fell asleep when stoned to death. The threat can enter every house and people can ask themselves, “What will become of us? Are we lost? Will the enemy overtake us?”
But Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest 2 and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. Acts 9:1–2
Saul needed things on black and white as evidence that he acted with the authority of the rulers of the Jews.
3 Now as he went on his way, he approached Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven shone around him. 4 And falling to the ground, he heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” 5 And he said, “Who are you, Lord?” And he said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. Acts 9:3–5
Saul was on a particular road - with all his determination, with all his zeal, with all his innocence, claiming he was doing this because of a clear conscience. Nobody could contradict him. Even the believers were expecting him in Damascus because they heard that he had been given authority. He was on his way to the city to disperse and annihilate people belonging to The Way. This was Saul’s initiative, and maybe the Council’s initiative, and whoever else was behind the plot. They had worked out their plan. But because Jesus was amongst His people and alive in their hearts, God put a stop to their plot and this man who had all the authority, was thrown to the ground. He needed correction. He needed to repent. He needed to turn from his ways and start on the way of Jesus. Little did he realise that he was persecuting Jesus Himself. Saul worked on a human level. He reckoned and planned according to earthly authorities and he needed correction from the Lord.
Saul was thrown to the ground and lowered to level zero. But in this experience, he could still ask, “Who are You, Lord?” There must have been something in this light, something in this power that threw him to the ground that made him realise, “God’s hand is now heavy upon me.” Suddenly, his eyes were blinded. He could no longer see as he used to. If you meet this Jesus who met Saul, your eyes will see things that you have not seen before.
Thankfully, Saul (changing into a Paul) said, “Who are You, Lord?” Trembling and astonished he said, “Lord, what do you want me to do?” From that moment he realised that it was no longer his way. He had been struck down. He was wrong. God drew a red line through his plans.
Can God bring you down to level zero? All our learning, our experiences, our prayers need to start in the dust at ground zero. We need to ask, “Lord, what do You want me to do?” Has our repentance been like this? If the Lord is correcting you today, do you start at level zero? “Lord, what do You want me to do?”
This is why God could change this great threat into great glory for His kingdom.
If you are unwilling to say, “Lord, what do You want me to do?” God will select someone else who will pray that prayer. God will overlook you and look for someone who will say, “Lord, what do You want me to do?” We must realise our unworthiness; where our righteousness is as filthy rags. Our righteousness must be worth dust.
There are people who boast about their pre-converted life. ‘I used to be the gang leader. Nobody dared to say anything bad about me or he would suffer the consequences.’ They are proud of what they achieved in the past. Some pride themselves on how much they could drink. Do not think you can live to God’s glory if you still pride yourself on what you achieved, how much money you made, how many girls you had. Even after your conversion you still speak about girls! How can you talk like that? Children, school children, how dare you spit out this filth and shame to a fellow Christian even!
Saul’s conversion was not like the conversion you have had. Soldiers who have had such a shallow conversion are not called to the ranks of the army of Christ. We have heard testimonies of men of God who have claimed that with God, they can overcome the world. Are you part of that group or are you a loser? You are amongst us and love to hear the messages but you are a loser. You cannot stand shoulder to shoulder in the ranks of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Can you have a conversion like Saul had? Thereafter a great part of the New Testament was penned by this hater of The Way – Saul! Can you say, “Saul, I agree with your words and I pray that God will make me part and parcel of these words.” May our lives be aligned to these words after conversion.
A man of God said that we must die daily. This was his testimony. He also said that we should be ready to repent every day. This was experiential knowledge.
Can you receive correction from the Lord? Are you lowly of heart, that you are able to receive correction from man and even a donkey?
Then the people of Israel set out and camped in the plains of Moab beyond the Jordan at Jericho. 2 And Balak the son of Zippor saw all that Israel had done to the Amorites. 3 And Moab was in great dread of the people, because they were many. Moab was overcome with fear of the people of Israel. 4 And Moab said to the elders of Midian, “This horde will now lick up all that is around us, as the ox licks up the grass of the field.” So Balak the son of Zippor, who was king of Moab at that time, 5 sent messengers to Balaam the son of Beor at Pethor, which is near the River in the land of the people of Amaw, to call him, saying, “Behold, a people has come out of Egypt. They cover the face of the earth, and they are dwelling opposite me. 6 Come now, curse this people for me, since they are too mighty for me. Perhaps I shall be able to defeat them and drive them from the land, for I know that he whom you bless is blessed, and he whom you curse is cursed.” Numbers 22:1 – 6
Egypt represents the land out of which we need to be saved. Balak realised that these people have come out of Egypt and are on their way to the promised land and they cover the earth. Do you see God’s chosen ones that have come out of Egypt? They seem to cover the whole earth. Balak was under threat. He was not being attacked but he felt as if he was under attack and he would not survive. See the glory God places on His people who have forsaken Egypt and who do not remember the food of Egypt. Have you come out of Egypt? Let today be the day that you leave the land of Egypt. You need to come out of the land of temptation. How will you overcome if you still live in the land of temptation, you are surrounded by temptation and you feel temptation. Come to the land of victory. Go through the process of refinement. You have been called to Canaan, not to Egypt. God can change the greatest threat of your life, by you forsaking Egypt. There can be personal, human threats you have encountered and battle with. He is our Lord, our Saviour, our Victor, the King of kings and He is leading you to a promised land. Do not pass that by. Do not lag behind.
The messengers from Balak came to Balaam, the prophet. He told them to, “…lodge here tonight while I enquire of the Lord and find out what answer God gives me.”
9 And God came to Balaam and said, “Who are these men with you?”
God confronted Balaam before he even spoke to God. The Prince of Peace and the Lord of lords who sees the heart can say, “Who are these people with you?” Before Balaam prays to the Lord, He already warns him by saying, “Who are these people who are with you?” If the Lord reprimands us and questions us, do we grasp hold of the mystery? Do we hear and say, “I’m not supposed to be with these people?” God wants us to be among the living, not among the dead. With whom do you find yourself? Are you on the side of those seeking Israel’s destruction? Do you still listen to them? The Lord knows the heart and can warn us timeously, “Beware of those men!”
12 God said to Balaam, “You shall not go with them. You shall not curse the people, for they are blessed.”
Never get in the way of God’s army. Never try to infiltrate their ranks. If they are blessed, then you may find yourself ending on a cursed way. Bless those whom the Lord blesses. If you curse them, beware that that curse does not backfire on your own life and the blessing of God vanishes. You will experience curses and no matter how you cry out for the blessing, like Esau did, you despised the blessing of the Lord and must bear the consequences. What consequences are there not in store for you? It is better to turn back from your ways of error before you fall and lose all blessings.
13 So Balaam rose in the morning and said to the princes of Balak, “Go to your own land, for the Lord has refused to let me go with you.”
What does Balak do next?
15 Once again Balak sent princes, more in number and more honourable than these.
He sent gifts. He loaded them with honour and with all that man desires.
17 for I will surely do you great honour, and whatever you say to me I will do. Come, curse this people for me.’” 18 But Balaam answered and said to the servants of Balak, “Though Balak were to give me his house full of silver and gold, I could not go beyond the command of the Lord my God to do less or more.
Be assured, money plays a role today as well. People are lovers of money. They were lovers of money when the priests bribed them to call out, “Crucify Him” when Jesus stood before Pilate. Woe to you if you bribe people with money to rob people of God’s blessing. Such money is cursed even when it was a disciple of the Lord, Judas, who loved to care for the purse. And because of money - the promise of 30 pieces of silver - he was willing to betray His Lord.
If you are listening to me, you must know that if you have been involved in that, woe to you! There is no blessing on your bribery and corruption. The Lord of lords is on the march and His followers give their lives for His purpose and they do not want to disappoint their Lord and Saviour. Beware lest the blessing of God becomes a curse.
The Lord spoke to Balaam that second time.
20 And God came to Balaam at night and said to him, “If the men have come to call you, rise, go with them; but only do what I tell you.” 21 So Balaam rose in the morning and saddled his donkey and went with the princes of Moab. 22 But God's anger was kindled because he went, and the angel of the Lord took his stand in the way as his adversary. Now he was riding on the donkey, and his two servants were with him. 23 And the donkey saw the angel of the Lord standing in the road, with a drawn sword in his hand. And the donkey turned aside out of the road and went into the field. And Balaam struck the donkey, to turn her into the road. 24 Then the angel of the Lord stood in a narrow path between the vineyards, with a wall on either side.
The donkey saw what the prophet could not see. Saul could see him. “Who are You, Lord?” he asked and he humbled himself. Not Balaam. The donkey went against the wall and crushed his leg and foot which made him furious. He beat the donkey because of his pain. Then the donkey saw the angel of the Lord for the third time and because there was no way out, the donkey collapsed under the prophet. It could not continue.
28 Then the Lord opened the mouth of the donkey, and she said to Balaam, “What have I done to you, that you have struck me these three times?” 29 And Balaam said to the donkey, “Because you have made a fool of me. I wish I had a sword in my hand, for then I would kill you.”
Balaam spoke the same language as some people who are willing to behead the servants of God for their own motives, their own existence, their own honour and pomp. Balaam did not see the sword in the hand of the angel of the Lord which was ready to slay him. He was saved by the donkey.
31 Then the Lord opened the eyes of Balaam, and he saw the angel of the Lord standing in the way, with his drawn sword in his hand. And he bowed down and fell on his face.
Rahab, the prostitute of Jericho was visited by the two spies of the army of Israel who were about to enter Canaan. She told these spies that they had heard of God’s mighty acts and how victorious they were. She told them that the people of the land were struck by fear of them. She asked them to spare her. She begged for mercy for herself and her family. Then she received the instruction, “Because you have welcomed us, be sure to have a red cord hanging from your window so that when we enter the city, we will recognise the scarlet cord and you and your household will be safe.” Destruction came. The Lord of lords broke down the walls of Jericho. Who was saved? Rahab. When the spies left she probably said, “I will not wait until they come, even today I will hang the scarlet cord out of my window.” Today this cross will be hanging in this house which is the sole property of Jesus and His saving blood. Rahab who came from a lost past, accepted salvation and joined herself to the army of the Lord.
Do you understand why I say that God can change the greatest threat into great glory for His kingdom? Allow the scarlet cord to always hang out of the window of your home. Let it always hang at the entrance of your heart. If you take that scarlet cord away, if the blood of Jesus is no longer active in your life, woe to you lest you lose the blessing of God.
Isn’t Jesus wonderful? Isn’t His gospel wonderful? It brings salvation to our souls. Come out from the curse and enter the blessing. Why would you forsake the blessing? Your eyes are blind and it will be God’s grace if He sends an angel with a drawn sword and your eyes are opened and you fall with your face to the ground.
May God grant us that grace.