Marriage, a step of faith

Wedding service of Sandile Zondi and Debbie Ximba

Albu van Eeden
This is a great day today and we are happy that you have come. We see the work that Rev Stegen started continues. Sandile and Debbie, thank you. You raise the standard of God. We desire to continue this road of faith with you. To stand in Rev Stegen’s pulpit is not a small thing but I trust that the Lord will be gracious and take the simple words of man and turn them into wine.

Today is a day of great victory. The world would say it is a victory of love, but it is a day of victory for faith. It is a day where the faith and obedience to God’s voice is on display, and it is victorious. Where does faith come into this? We are in church. As you listen to the testimony of Sandile and God’s word you will understand that the foundation of this wedding lies in faith in the triune God Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

But Daniel resolved that he would not defile himself with the king's food, or with the wine that he drank. Therefore, he asked the chief of the eunuchs to allow him not to defile himself…10 and the chief of the eunuchs said to Daniel, “I fear my lord the king, who assigned your food and your drink; for why should he see that you were in worse condition than the youths who are of your own age? So you would endanger my head with the king.” 11 Then Daniel said to the steward whom the chief of the eunuchs had assigned over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, 12 “Test your servants for ten days; let us be given vegetables to eat and water to drink. 13 Then let our appearance and the appearance of the youths who eat the king's food be observed by you, and deal with your servants according to what you see.” 14 So he listened to them in this matter and tested them for ten days. 15 At the end of ten days it was seen that they were better in appearance and fatter in flesh than all the youths who ate the king's food. 16 So the steward took away their food and the wine they were to drink and gave them vegetables. Daniel 1:8,10-16

Why did Daniel not want to eat the food prepared by the king? The king had asked his idols to bless the food. Daniel did not want to do that. In this sermon you will see how the faith of one man in an empire stood and was victorious. Daniel outlived five kings. His manner of living was totally different to the entire nation. Daniel and his friends were Jews, not Babylonians. They had a different foundation and character. Everything was built on God and His word. To marry in this manner in the modern world today is no different to Daniel’s stand in the world of heathen Babylonians. To marry in faith and by faith is totally different to the way in which the world is doing it. I believe you will see the difference.

In Sandile’s notes that he gave me, he began by saying how he came to Christ. This is a wedding. Why would we want to know that? This is the precondition to marriage by faith. If you are not born again, how can you hear God’s voice instructing you to marry by faith? It is a fairytale if you expect this, but you are not born again. You must have a living relationship with the living God where you hear God’s voice and are in tune with God.

In the world, a couple must be in tune with one another. A man walks past a girl, she attracts him. He turns around and looks at her. She turns around and looks at him. There is electricity between the two of them. However, to be married by faith, you do not need electricity between the couple but between you and God otherwise your marriage is based on human emotions and relationships.

Sandile attended a youth conference in 1994 where Rev Stegen read from Acts 5:29. He gave his life to God. He attended school at DSS and finished matric in 2002. He attended college away from home and God kept him faithful by His grace. In 2017, God spoke to him about marriage. More than once God revealed himself to him. It was a battle for him because he had to make sure it was God speaking.

Rev Stegen testified how he got married: Before he got married, he never thought of his bride, not even once. His precondition was that his marriage must not take away 1% of his commitment to God. Sandile and Debbie, do not allow your marriage to take way 1% of your commitment, surrender and submission to God. Rev Stegen said that he had to discern between God’s will and his own heart and flesh. The wrong decision would have meant the end of the revival. This is the foundation that our founder laid for marriage.

Daniel followed the Lord while living in a heathen nation. He had to remain faithful to God as a Jew in a foreign land. Sandile attended college away from home. Daniel was in Babylon away from God, parents, congregation, pastor, relatives, even if he had been taken captive in a foreign country. If you have a living relationship with God, you will stand firm. When Daniel stood firm in the faith, he said that he could only eat vegetables because he trusted that God would care for them. Their appearance was better than the boys who had eaten the king’s food. If you have a living relationship with God, it will be seen on the outside as well. It will be seen in your face and in your manner of dress. Everything will tell people whether God is in your heart.

A person once said to John Bunyan that God does not look on the outside, but he said people are not God and they need to see what is on the outside. Girls, if men look at you and your manner of dressing, do they see that Christ lives in your heart?

The decision could have cost them their lives. They continued to live by faith, refused to bow in front of the statue and were thrown into the furnace. They stood in their faith. Later, Daniel was thrown into the lions’ den. Daniel had to be willing to die and stand firm for Christ. Even today it can cost you your life if you stand for Christ. How do you pay with your life? You may lose your dignity. People may scorn and scoff you. This is all dying to yourself for the sake of the living God. You may go unnoticed. People may lie to you. You may be isolated and alone because you stand for God. You may be hated and mistreated by others. All these things cause you to die for the sake of Christ. Do not become anxious. If God is on your side dare to be a Daniel. Can you see that this marriage was born out of a life of faith with God? If you allow anxiety, you will get thorns and snares on the way. Do not allow anxiety, friends, stand firm for God. Live a pure life and God will take care of you.

The hymn writer, John Newton said:

Brought safely by His hand thus far,
Why should I now give place to fear?
How can I want if He provide,
Or lose my way with such a Guide?

This is how these two young people stood and lived by faith to reach today. By faith Daniel did not lose hope when he was a captive. God had given him over as a captive into the hands of the heathen. Everything seemed as if God was against him. ‘Abandon your faith in God because He’s given you into the hands of a heathen nation.’ Daniel refused to eat the food that the king served him. There are some things you will have to say ‘no’ to that the world sees as food. To the world it is ‘food’ that you need to survive in life and your marriage. It is food for you and yet it is poison to the child of God. ‘Watch porn. It will assist in your marriage and make the marriage bed successful.’ It is food but it will defile you. But Daniel resolved that he would not defile himself with the king's food…There is another king of this world who will offer you his food, but it will be poison to your soul. What a glorious day that we can share with two young people whose faith overcame the world.

I did not hear God speaking to me about their marriage. None of us told them to get married. They had to depend on God regarding marriage. If you keep the faith, trust that God will show you if you should marry and who you should marry.

Sandile did not say this but he is 43 years old but that did not make him lose his faith. The devil has a trick that he has the whole world in his hands. All of us are born in sin. The devil has the last word because you are a sinner and have been born in sin. But God has a word that is even more final than Satan’s word - He sent His Son to pay for our sins so that He has the last word and not Satan.

I thank the Lord that these two people who testify to the fact that Jesus entered their lives and washed them of their sins.

In conclusion, it is wonderful if God has taken care of you, answered your faith and told you to marry. It is a blessing and gift from God, but to keep God’s blessing on your marriage, it should remain on the altar. Debbie, never take your marriage off the altar and make it yours and not God’s. It must remain on the altar otherwise marriage which was a gift and blessing from God will become death to you.

I was reminded of Abraham. Isaac was a gift from God when Abraham was 100 years old. In the beginning when he received Isaac, he realised that Isaac was a blessing and gift from God. As the years went by, the child grew up. He became a person with his own character. He had visions of how God could use his son. He saw his talents. He grew attached to Isaac. There were emotions. A parent loves his child. Some have said that it is more difficult to lose a child than a partner. A woman told me the other day that when her husband died, she could handle it but when her child died, it was worse than anything. She could not get over it.

Do you know why people fall into sin with their children, get upset and curse the child? The child has become too precious to you. When Isaac was growing up, God did a strange thing. God wanted the gift back that he had given Abraham. Would you allow God to do that? Abraham was told to sacrifice Isaac. Whether it’s your children or marriage, they are gifts from God. Both must remain on the altar if you want your marriage to be blessed. Do not take it off the altar. You will lose the blessing that God is giving you today because you take it for yourself.

When I was in my last year at school, I did fencing and I was trained. One sword is called the épée which has a cup to protect the hand and a very thin blade. The trainer taught us that the way we hold the sword, must be the way we would hold a dove - not too tight otherwise you will kill the bird and not too lose otherwise the dove will fly away. Hold the gifts of God the way you would hold a dove. Make sure you do not loose the blessings of God and they fly away. Do not hold it too tight to your chest, otherwise you will lose it and squeeze it to death and the blessing God wants you to get out of your marriage, will be lost to you.

We see this happening here. Drug addicts come off the street. They are nothing. They stand on the corners and beg for money for drugs. They meet with God. God convicts them of their sins. They confess their sins and God forgives them. The Bible says if you confess your sins, God is faithful and just to forgive you. These people become human beings again. When they came, they were broken and helpless - half human. As God touches and heals them, things come together, and they become normal human beings. Some stay behind, continue to study and become qualified. What happens to most? Once they have their qualification, they take it off the altar, pack their bags and leave.

God tested Abraham and gave him a son, but he had to keep the son on the altar. The son grew up and after years, God required him back as a sacrifice.

God has given you a clean marriage to start with. Sandile and Debbie, guard your marriage that sin does not enter. Do not allow your eyes to look at other girls, Sandile, then you have committed adultery before God. How many men are married and respected but in God’s eyes they have 50-100 other women they have committed adultery with? Will God allow you into heaven with so many wives - the wives of other men whom you have lusted after? This is the curse of the world we live in – immorality on the outside and the inside. Stay close to God. Keep your lives clean. Keep everything on the altar and one day when you stand before God’s throne, you will have maintained the blessing of this day.