The Lord is at work. If you have eyes to see and ears to hear, you will see Him at work. Recently I spoke to my colleagues - many things go wrong because you do not ask the Lord, I told them. Simple. What has the Lord has taught us? Pray in every circumstance. To bring things in prayer. Do we really do that? Your prayer life is often an indicator of your spiritual life.
It is my privilege that my mother can stay with our family. I love it. I’m thankful that she has come. You do not have your parents forever. Times goes very fast. Love, honour and respect them. Do good to them if you can. My mother wanted to visit uncle Heino Stegen as he is one of her last cousins. God opened the door and we were invited to his 95th birthday. We waited for the celebrations to begin and when Uncle Heino entered the room everyone sang Happy Birthday. I honour that family for doing that for their father. They put a lot of effort into making it special. Suddenly this man of God, who served God and stood with the revival, became very ill. He was taken into the room and may mom asked to be taken to him. She took his hand and he breathed his last breath. My mom was so thankful for that experience. Young people, married people, honour and respect your parents and in-laws. You will never ever be sorry. One day God may give it back to you. We saw heaven yesterday. It was unbelievable to experience that. He was here and then in heaven. We thank the family for all they have done. The funeral will be next Sunday. Let us meet and thank God for a man who stood straight and overcame. My mom said that she would like to go in the same way. The gift of heaven is grace.
I greet everyone and those tuning in electronically. I have been visiting the branches on Sundays and we have seen God at work after which we return and share with Rev Stegen how things have gone. He is always very happy to hear how God’s work is progressing. We are so grateful to be part of that work. Rev Stegen visited different congregations in the early days. Now we do the same and it is wonderful that he can experience this while he is alive.
I remember when we once went somewhere, Rev Stegen’s car ran out of fuel. He sent me on foot to fetch petrol. We poured it into the vehicle and he was so grateful. In those days there was not much in terms of funds. Rev Stegen trusted in the Lord that he would have enough. One day we were five people together at Maphumulo. He bought some meat for R1 and fried it. He took that one piece of meat and cut it into small pieces so each of us could taste the meat. We appreciated his generosity. The little he had, he shared. In those days, when we sought the Lord for revival, all three meals would be bread and tea. There was nothing to put on the bread, but we were thankful. There were no funds to buy meat and rice. All we could afford was bread and tea - sometimes only sugar water. That is how we lived. Eventually, it became difficult for me because we did not eat like that at home. God worked amazingly in those days. He came down in revival power and then we moved from Maphumulo to this place and here we only had samp and beans, sometimes phutu and beans. That was our staple diet. We did not have meat or even cabbage. But God loved and blessed this work. We were only 6 co-workers at that time. Never in our wildest dreams did we imagine that things could grow like they have.
God had put Rev Stegen through His mill. He wrung him as one works on a skin to make leather. You hear that from his own testimony. God took out all the starch of being a white man. He said that he did not want to play church like other people, but to serve God in truth. We experienced the transformation that took place in his life. We observed how the Lord changed, sifted and purified him – making him into a vessel through whom He could bring revival.
Other ministers often asked him what they could do to experience revival. His reply was, ‘Brothers, you have no idea how much it will cost you to seek and find revival.’ If you desire God to use you and work through you, allow God to change and renew you completely. Brethren, make the Bible your daily food, your daily bread. Live by the word of God. I would say that you should not put your head on your pillow without reading God’s word. It is our food. It should be our daily bread. If you read God’s word and it means nothing to you and it is like a dead book, ask someone to pray with you. Some have that problem – they read God’s word, but they do not get anything out of it. Prayer is vital. You can pray with your family but there are times when you need to pray alone and wrestle with God. Close and lock the door so that you are on your own in that room with your Bible before God in prayer and ask Him to speak to you. Daniel prayed three times a day. He confessed his sin, and the sins of his forefathers and his nation. Brethren, the confession of sin is not a special doctrine that only belongs to certain denominations and churches, it is a biblical teaching.
Let me tell you a secret. When we sought God, we could not sleep before we had searched ourselves before God and made sure that we had not sinned against God or any other person during the day. We felt that we were doomed forever if we had not made that sin right. Some would wake Rev Stegen at night and ask him to take them somewhere so they could make things right. If you have received the Holy Spirit, can you sleep peacefully whilst knowing there is something between you and God? If God convicts you, you do not think about your dignity and status – you will go to a child, your wife, to make things right and ask for forgiveness.
19 But God's firm foundation stands, bearing this seal: “The Lord knows those who are his,” and, “Let everyone who names the name of the Lord depart from iniquity.”
22 So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. 23 Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels. 24 And the Lord's servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil… 2 Timothy 2:19; 22 – 24
The crux of the matter today is verse 19. 19 But God's firm foundation stands, bearing this seal: “The Lord knows those who are his,” and, “Let everyone who names the name of the Lord depart from iniquity.”
Brethren, our faith must be based on a firm foundation. If your faith is not on that firm foundation, it will be obvious that you are taking God’s name in vain. This word says, God knows those who are His.
Are you sure of the fact that you belong to the Lord? Are you building on that firm foundation? We are believers, but God knows the truth. He knows those who belong to Him. How does He know this? By this sign: they depart from evil. Do you hear this, young people? Flee youthful lusts and evil passions. Young people today are aflame with lust burning in their members. Flee from that which you find on your cell phone which causes you to stumble. If you realise that it is a stumbling block, give your phone to your parents. Paul says, flee youthful passions. If they are a problem in your life, you must flee from them. You know what you are looking at and using which stunts the growth in your spiritual life and you experience evil dreams and depression. Flee those things. Cell phones are a problem for older, mature people too. They become addicted and enslaved. It is visible on their faces that they are bound by these things. Preachers and choir members, you too must flee youthful lusts. If you still live in sin, are you on this firm foundation?
2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. Romans 12:2.
Young person, why is your mind so dirty? Why is your mind unchanged and unrenewed even though you have received Jesus? Is your faith on the true foundation? No, you are building next to the foundation. If you build your house on the edge of a cliff, it will fall and be smashed. Why are you troubled by evil spirits and desires, but call yourself a child of God? 19 But God's firm foundation stands, bearing this seal: “The Lord knows those who are his,” and, “Let everyone who names the name of the Lord depart from iniquity.” Why does sin still reign in your life? You will get the answer today. The fact that you are troubled by an evil eye, by those desires, is because you have not built on the true foundation yet.
It was said earlier that young people must honour their parents. There are children who are irritated when their mother sends them somewhere. Child, are you not happy that your mother can trust you enough to send you somewhere? Do you not have Jesus? Young people today get upset when their parent sends them on errands. They have long faces. Where is Jesus?
A minister preached in 1975 and brought a bottle filled with water. At the bottom of the bottle there was sand. The top was clear. He asked the congregation if they would drink the water and they said they would. Then he shook the bottle and asked them whether they would still be willing to drink it and they said no. That is what it is like when there is still sin lurking in a person’s heart. When they are shaken up, stubbornness, irritability and lust come to the fore. Why do you get irritated when your father or mother sends you? The Bible says, honour your mother when she is old. After my father passed away and I remained with my mother and I prayed and asked the Lord to help me that my mother would never say that her son disrespected her because her husband had passed away. She never said anything like that until her death. The Bible says, honour your father and mother that your days may be lengthened. May God help you and have mercy on you that you do not look down on your parents and despise them. You may despise them because of their level of education is lower than yours. You will never be blessed.
10 According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building upon it. Let each one take care how he builds upon it. 1 Corinthians 3:10
The two texts support one another. The heading in the Zulu Bible is Building on the true foundation.
After this message, you must examine yourself and see whether you have built on the true foundation. Yes, you are a child of God, you received the Lord long ago into your life, but now we have this word: there is a foundation on which we should build. Maybe you agree that you are a believer but that you have not built on that foundation.
10 According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building upon it. Let each one take care how he builds upon it. 11 For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 13 each one's work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. 14 If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. 15 If anyone's work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.1 Corinthians 3:10 – 11; 13 – 15
Each one’s work will be tested by fire. The fire will determine whether the work survives or not.
11 Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. From his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them. Revelation 20:11
Young and old will still be judged according to their deeds. Books will be opened. Each one will be judged according to his/her work and deeds.
10 According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building upon it. Let each one take care how he builds upon it. References here to Zulu words being misunderstood.
In the Zulu translation, where it speaks about the “master builder” it uses a word which could be misinterpreted. It means an expert, a person who knows what he is doing. An expert builder is laying a foundation. When Paul refers to himself here, he refers to an expert builder, like an expert in various branches of medicine. On this foundation, brethren, that has been laid, Jesus Christ, let everyone take care how they build. Paul said that this firm foundation has this seal upon it that everyone who names the name of Christ should depart from iniquity.
Living with God’s people you should ask, are you demolishing this foundation? It can be seen from the appearance and dress of young men and women whether they are building on the true foundation or not. They do not dress like cheap girls who wear dresses that sweep the floor. Older and married women dress in that fashion. A pure young girl will not dress like an older/married woman.
Paul did not change the foundation and create his own. This is the foundation of our Lord Jesus Christ. It would be terrible if we claim to be on the foundation of the Lord Jesus Christ, when we in fact break it down. At work, at school or wherever you go, does your life show that you are on the right foundation? Have you begun deviating off God’s foundation while claiming that you are on the right foundation? The brethren and your family have noticed that you are no longer 100% on the right foundation. Your conduct, behaviour and speech show that you are no longer on that foundation.
12 Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw…1 Corinthians 3:12 Through your life and speech, you can destroy this foundation of Jesus Christ. We have been given the foundation, brethren, on which to build. Women should respect and submit to their husbands. Children should honour their parents. That is the true foundation. Once a person goes astray from that foundation, you can speak to them until you are blue in the face, but you will not get through to them.
Have you noticed where you are? Have you destroyed or built on the true foundation? We cannot create our own religion or lifestyle; we must be found building on the true foundation. Paul found this foundation which is Jesus Christ and he built upon it. Each one should be careful how he/she builds on this foundation. Do my family members and people I live among notice that I build on the true foundation? If it is not evident now, the future will reveal whether I have built on the true foundation or not. It is only the grace of God that will help us to be on the true foundation. Paul says according to the grace of God given to me. This is how he did what he did.
21 She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” Matthew 1:21
Have you allowed the Lord Jesus to save you from your sin? What kind of gospel have you got hold of if it does not save you from your sin? You say you are a Christian, but you have not been saved from this and that. This confuses me. Who is this Jesus, you say you have received yet you have not been delivered from things in your life?
A person says today I looked at the cell phone and saw this and that and a chain of events followed. It happens again thereafter. Where was Jesus? Ask yourself. If you persist in your sin and return to it again and again, where is Jesus in it all? Is that the true foundation you are building on? If your mind is putrid and defiled with all sorts of imaginations and things you see running around, where is Jesus in all of that?
Martha said to Jesus, ‘Lord, if You had been here, my brother (Lazarus) would not have died.’ When you commit that sin, where is Jesus? If you are busy with sin, is Jesus there? Are you building on the foundation which is Jesus Christ? Are you on that true foundation of which Paul says, each one building on it must be careful how they build. Do not be childish and fool around. It must be evident that we live holy lives.
When I was 15 years old, Rev Stegen told me that when I was sent to the shop to buy bread, I should not also put sweets in my pocket. He told me not to pick up oranges from under the tree otherwise people will think that I stole them. I thanked him for that advice. But today? Young people will say, ‘Don’t you think I am a Christian? I have received Jesus.’
Timothy listened and heeded the apostle when he said, ‘Flee youthful lusts’ and when he said, ‘Do not be in a hurry to lay hands on someone.’
One day two of us were at a certain farm. The white person showed us where to sit and he brought two tins of soft drink. He demonstrated how to open the tins and then he opened them for us. We thanked him. What would you have done? You would have said, ‘I know how to open a can of Coke. Don’t think you can tell me anything.’ God’s word says that we should be quick to hear and listen and slow to speak. Today’s young people are quick to respond and talk back. Today there are even mature people who are quick to answer and respond and then you realise that the person has not yet been converted. This word says, “The Lord knows those who are his,” and, “Let everyone who names the name of the Lord depart from iniquity.”
We see things our way – but God knows the truth. He says that they belong to Me because they have departed from iniquity. If you want God and the brethren to see that you belong to Him, depart from iniquity. If you want your neighbours and the people you live with to see where you stand, depart from iniquity.
The earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein…Psalm 24:1
Today there is widespread bloodshed and killing. People have forgotten that this earth belongs to God. Some do not use physical weapons; they use their tongues as swords.
You have received the Lord Jesus as a child of God. Examine how have you built on this foundation which is the Lord Jesus Christ. The foundation has been laid. It is clear. It is there. You only need to build on it and it will be obvious that you have departed from iniquity that God’s name has been glorified.
Conclusion Dietmar Joosten
In the beginning we said, children, honour and respect your parents. Build on that foundation and God can use and bless your life.
Parents, how do you treat your children? How do you care for your children? When it was my father’s 80th birthday, Uncle Heino Stegen was there. He said, ‘Show me a family where the parents are strict and there is order, then the children will walk a straight path.’ Parents, do you set an example for your children? Fathers, do you talk to your daughter in a pure way? What is your motive? Test yourselves, parents. How do you treat your children? I don’t say you must do everything for them, no. See to it that they get help spiritually and walk the right way. It is clear whether a child is building on the right foundation or not, whether they distance themselves or flee from lusts. Do you care for your children, spiritually? Or do you just leave your children to somebody else? You do not know what that person does with your child. Are you 100% sure everything is pure? Do you know what happens behind closed doors? You only wake up when it is a mess. If you build on the right foundation, parents, which is Jesus Christ, you will find undeserving grace, and your children will build on the same foundation. I often feel sorry for children because they are the result of the way they were brought up. Husband, it is no wonder your children are the way they are, it is due to the way in which you treat your wife. What happened will be shouted from the rooftops, remember that. You must walk so carefully. Bring up your children in the fear of God. A balanced life is holy living, on one side and encouragement on the other.
In conclusion, I would like to tell a story which you are familiar with.
One day a certain worker decided to steal a cow. The man did not have a rope so he found one at work. He said, ‘God really loves, I needed a rope and here I found it at work.’ He went at night and nobody saw him. He tied up the cow and took it with him. Later God spoke to him. God speaks and knows how to put a man into a corner. The man was convicted and felt that he needed to depart from sin but here was the cow. He decided to return to the farmer and confess his sin. He took the rope with him and tearfully broke down before the farmer saying, ‘Please forgive me. Here is the rope that I took from you. I should never have done it.’ The farmer was touched by the man’s words and even felt that he should confess his sins as well. ‘May God bless you richly,’ the farmer said. The man returned home. On the way home God spoke to the man, ‘You confessed the rope, but what about that which was tied to the end of the rope?’
Sometimes you confess the rope but what is at the end of the rope? If you want to build on the true foundation, bring everything to the light, even that which is the most difficult. Bring that big boulder in your eye, where others are always wrong, and you are always right. ‘People treat me badly,’ you say. You speak in that manner because there is sin in your life. If God works, start with your own life. If somebody ever did something to you which was inappropriate or wrong, do not only bring the rope, bring that as well and the day you bring those things to light, the burden will fall off your shoulders too.