Introduction Michael Ngubane
We thank the Lord that He has kept us and that we can meet on this great day to worship Him. We welcome everyone to the service when we remember the coming of our Saviour, the Son of God.
If you have not been saved yet the fault is with you. If you are still stuck in your sin and have not experienced His hand saving you from your sin, do not look anywhere else for the problem, it is with you. He is our Saviour and Redeemer, He is the mighty God, the mighty ruler and there is no end to His kingdom. People try and trample His name in the mud and make His kingdom insignificant, but they are just playing around. His reign will know no end.
As we are drawing to the end of 2021, how have things gone since January? What have you experienced? Only challenges, problems and misery or have you seen the powerful hand of God bringing about victory in your life? If you only look at the dust or the clouds that obscure the sun, you have a problem. We can face tomorrow with the knowledge that He is with us, and on our side so what do we have to fear if we know that we are with the Lord and He is with us.
Let us welcome this child with open arms, realising He is different to any other child ever born because He has life.
Brethren, I greet you in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. We thank the Lord that He has opened the way for us to worship Him freely. It is not easy to stand here. There is a man whom God has chosen and given this pulpit to. The greatest blessing is that the Lord has spared Rev Stegen for us. I thank God that He has kept Rev Stegen faithful through many trials. He is an example to us. Thank you to him and his family who support him and stand for the Gospel. We thank the Lord for the older co-workers who are stalwarts in the work of the Lord and who stand by Rev Stegen holding up his arms in battle. People see the preachers in the front but there are people who support us in prayer on scuffed knees. They are not doing it for any earthly praise or reward, but for Him who has called them.
Today is the last Sunday of this year. I am thankful that I can speak and thank those people. I trust you have had a wonderful Christmas.
10 And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Luke 2:10
When the angel spoke these words, he probably wanted to put everything into it that the listeners would understand the depth and greatness of this joy. He said, “I bring you good news of great joy.” He knew that his message contained joy for all people, however, when you read God’s word you discover that the news did not bring joy to everyone. Some were troubled about this message because they heard that a king was born, and they were concerned about their own positions and what would happen to their own kingship. Not everybody rejoices about the birth of the Christ Child. Those for whose sake He was born, rejoiced - the elect, the chosen – they realised that this was news of great joy. When you heard this message these days, did you rejoice, or did you feel as if you have lost out?
A family looks forward to the birth of a new child although not everyone may rejoice. The parents look forward to the birth of a new child but others in the family may not be as happy. The last-born sibling may feel that he/she may no longer get all the attention. In a home where there is a married couple, a child born to them brings great joy. Very often the birth of such a child results in a greater bond between husband and wife. If it is a little girl, the mother is especially happy because the daughter will be like a little sister to her. If it is a little boy, the father may be happy because the son strengthens his home. How much more joy and expectation shouldn’t there be among God’s people who receive this gift of the new-born child?
Strangely, some do not rejoice because this child brings about sanctification. He was lowly, despised, in a manger, amongst cattle, in a dirty place but He Himself is a holy and brings about holiness and sanctification. There is nothing glorious or wonderful about the nativity scene. The conditions in which the Christ child was born were very lowly. The Lord of lords, King of kings was born in terrible conditions in a stable that had cattle dung and flies. Imagine how degraded the parents felt but they brought the greatest gift ever to mankind. Because there was no space in the inn, they had to make use of a stable. For those for whom He came, for those who received this revelation of God, it is our gift. No matter where He was born, we need to bring Him gifts.
The parents were not embarrassed to be seen using that lowly place, instead it caused great joy. They received the revelation that He was to be born in such a place. He is the holiest and He came to make us holy. The place in which He was born was part of the fulfilment of the prophecies that He was coming to save His people from their sins. This was the beginning of the reason for which He came. He came to be born in us who are defiled that we may be cleansed from our sin. His kingship was displayed in that lowly place so that it may also be fulfilled in our lives that He came to sanctify us. As He transformed that lowly place, it is His calling that we will be transformed, and all our filth will be washed away. Has He been born into your life? Has He been welcomed into my life? Has He done that work in my life where all the filth and grime has been scraped, cleansed and scrubbed away so that I may be called a child of God?
His ministry started at His birth. He never forced anyone to accept the gift. Today that grace and gift is offered to you, and it is up to you whether you accept the gift or not.
His parents did not throw their weight around and use the fact that Mary was due to give birth so, ‘give us a better place’ no, they humbled themselves which is indicative of the fact that Jesus came into a lowly place to lift us out of that. He came to that lowly place to symbolise the fact that His life will be like a mat on which people will wipe themselves clean. Do not allow His lowly position to deceive you. He may have been lowly then, but now He is at the right hand of the Father interceding for us and the day will come when He will leave that position and become the Judge. Has He come into your life to set you free?
His coming was announced as good tidings of great joy for all people. Yet not everyone rejoiced. His business was to straighten things. For example, if a young man receives Jesus into his life the Lord straightens him completely and this brings great joy to him, however, other family members may be perplexed and angry asking why he brings the ‘white man’s religion’ into the home.
When I received the Lord into my life, people told my mother that her home was ‘finished’. I had not completed my schooling and neither did I have any cattle. I wondered how people could say that, how did they see that the home was broken? Now, the home was being built up because the Christ Child had entered. When the Christ Child enters some accept it as a message of joy but for others it causes turmoil because someone else will usurp their position. When I received the Lord into my life, people who had never been interested in me or my mother suddenly had a lot to say. “This is the end of your family. Why do you allow your child to become a Christian?” It was wonderful message to me but to others it was bitter. Things in my life changed and were put right. The crooked was made straight. It was wonderful because when He comes, He convicts a person of sin. That Jesus was born under such conditions only highlighted the fact that He came to sanctify and cleanse. Jesus cannot live in a heart defiled by grudges, hatred, and such things. When the King of kings comes, He dispels the filth and darkness. Light enters when He comes in. Jesus cannot enter a place that is defiled and leave it like that. That place must be transformed.
Ask yourself what Jesus means to you if you have received Him? He has entered your life but there are grudges, anger and jealousy still ruling your life. Have you received Him? A person may call himself a believer, but he just lives amongst believers, he has never met Christ himself, he has only met people who have met Christ. Therefore, such a person continues to wallow in his sin. When their vision is disturbed, his vision is also disturbed because he has never met Christ.
Many are confused by people who say, “Praise the Lord!” They think they believe but they are copycats. Children just copy what their father does, and people think the father has such wonderful, believing children. People can be in the congregation for years and yet they have never had a personal meeting with the Lord Jesus Christ, they have only met people who have or who claim to have met Christ. Such people cause trouble in the church. When such people are with believers, they seem to be on fire but at other times they behave like heathens. Such people go to extremes and overdo things but those who have met the Lord Jesus are taught by the Holy Spirit.
For example, girls may show respect by curtsying. The girl who copies such behaviour goes to extremes. They overdo it. They are not taught by the Holy Spirit. Young men call each other “servant” and it seems to be the new way of addressing each other - servant so-and-so. You use the term, but you do not even know where it originated. Some carry their Bible in a prominent position, they do not know why they are doing it and they develop a sore arm.
When Jesus enters a man’s life and is born there, He will teach that person the right way to live. He will get rid of the ruler who should not be in his life and He will reign there. When Jesus comes into a man’s life, He will say, “This is how your forefathers lived but that is not for you. This is how you should live.”
It is a message of joy for those for whom this gift was meant and who receive it. If that gift is dragged through the mud, it is problematic for them. The person for whom this gift is meant, cherishes it and treats it with care. They feel unworthy of receiving such a gift. When they see the value of this gift and realise that it is priceless, they appreciate it even more.
What would you think of someone who received a brand-new car and just treated the car in any manner? Would the giver of the gift rejoice? If you gave me a pair of expensive shoes and I wore them in the mud, how would you feel? If I had given you such a gift, I would be hurt. I would feel as if you do not appreciate my gift. I doubt I would ever give you another gift. Could you not have waited until I was out of sight before you ruined the shoes? How much more when God gives us the ultimate gift, the best He has, and we mistreat it?
When we give gifts, we decide on a gift that suits the person, but God gave the ultimate gift. It was all He had, and He gave it. The greatest gift God gave was His one and only Son. He gave Him to mankind to save the world. He gave this most precious gift. He did not look at who we were. He gave His one and only Son, the best, for the salvation of man. Other gifts may expire but this one never does. Some have received Christmas gifts which they have used, eaten, or it may already be broken but this gift of God never expires. It brings us great joy and peace that passes understanding.
This gift can come to a divided family where there is friction and bring about unity and peace. This gift can come to a married couple who live like cat and dog and it can bring about peace and harmony. When Jesus enters a family where the children are incorrigible, they learn to honour their parents according to the Bible. Jesus will produce peace where the law and the rod have failed. When this gift enters a confused person’s life, He removes the fog, clears the vision and creates sanity. Suddenly that person understands how they should live. The gift results in unity of mind and spirit in a congregation. Have we received that gift of the Lord Jesus Christ, or don’t we care? “It was so long ago,” you say, “the Bible is on a shelf somewhere, unused.” If you have received this gift in the correct manner, you will ensure that it is preserved and still the same as the day you received it.
I know someone who is amazing. No matter how tired he may be or how late he returns at night, he polishes his shoes and returns them to the original box. If you open the box, the shoes look brand new. He appreciates his shoes very much. I sometimes preach about this: if only Jesus was as precious to us, as the shoes are to that person, no matter the time of day, hunger or tiredness. What type of believers wouldn’t we be? I watched this person and found that his Bible receives the same treatment. It is wearing out because it is used so much. It should be like this with the Lord Jesus. He should be treated in the same way. We should look after Him and cherish Him.
When the Christ Child comes, He removes us from that stable, that dung and the filth of Satan where we were born and He cleanses us from it all.
16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16
God gave that which was the most precious to Him so that we may be saved from our sin. He sent the Lord Jesus for the redemption of our lives. He did not send Him just so that we may have a lovely Christmas celebration with good food. The purpose for which He was sent was that people will be saved from their sin, that no one would perish but receive eternal life. Did we receive Jesus for that purpose, that He might bring eternal life or was it just so that we may have Him somewhere in our lives? If so, He will bring about death.
One thing we can be sure of whether we like it or not, whether we believe in the Lord Jesus or not, whether we receive Him or not, God sent Him so that those who would believe in Him would have eternal life. Those who do not believe in Him, will be judged by Him and condemned for all eternity.
People celebrate Christmas day in different ways. Some by getting drunk or high, some in immorality and degradation. In whatever way you celebrate it one thing is sure – He came that people will be saved through Him. People debate about whether one should celebrate Christmas or not, when was He born, was it on the 25th? All of this does not matter. What matters is that God sent Him to save people from their sin. Has He done that in your life or not? Does the way in which you celebrate Christmas reflect your appreciation and respect for this gift of God or does it show that you do not care? Did you receive this gift, cherish and nurture it, care for and appreciate it? Many Christmases have been celebrated. There have been many messages about the birth of the Christ Child, but what do they produce in your life? What difference does it make to you? As this gift was brought to you and the time comes for you to be taken to Him, will you be ready for it to be taken to your Lord and Master? Imagine the day that you must stand before the Lord and give account for how you received this very special gift that He has given you, are you ready? If this would be the day when you are rewarded for how you received this gift, could you stand before His judgement throne or would you have to say, “Lord, just give me one more Christmas.”
This great gift is presented to you whether you are important or unimportant, famous or not, educated or uneducated, this gift is especially for you. Will you receive this gift?
Conclusion Michael Ngubane
This is a clear message. We should stop being hypocritical. If we have received this gift, it should be clear. We are children of the light so let it be evident in our lives that we have received this gift. It should be so obvious that nobody will doubt our lives, deeds or behaviour.