Introduction Detlef Stegen
We greet you this morning on this wonderful day, where we can meet and search our lives and in so doing bring glory to the Lord for His wondrous work and what He intended for everyone who is present.
I remember Rev Stegen’s words at the beginning – “This is God’s place. God has chosen to work in this place. This is the place where God will do miracles.” In the 1970s we did not know the weight of those words – that we would see the fruit of those words and that this mission would help people as we experience it now.
Rev Stegen, how wonderful that God has led you this way. We can be spectators and watch what God is doing to glorify His name. We cannot thank God enough for His servants, disciples, prophets, priests, kings. Are you of the same calibre? Are you in God’s favour that He can reveal things to you. What would we be today without His anointed disciples who have given their lives for this work and for the God of this work.
We must ask what pleases God. Whatever storms might come, Jesus is in the boat, and He can calm the storm through the word that He speaks. And if you are near sinking, be a Peter who cries out to the Lord, “Lord, help!” And the arm of the Lord will be there to save you. Be a true disciple, not a hoax, an imitation, something plastic - that is not real or living. God can change things. He uses His disciples. The world can be upside down but you can be right side up because of Jesus and His word. You abiding in Him and His word in you. There is nothing greater than that. We praise the Lord for His disciples and all the instructions that we receive to our benefit. We praise the Lord that God’s name can be glorified both now and in the future. With God we cannot imagine what He will do in the future. We can humbly pray, “Lord Jesus, be our King of kings and Lord of lords. We pray that He will be present this morning to correct us, to chide us, so that we will be true, not fake. Let us be prepared to hear God’s voice today. If you want to be blessed listen to that voice.
The text for today is Luke 22:61
61 And the Lord turned and looked at Peter. And Peter remembered the saying of the Lord, how he had said to him, “Before the rooster crows today, you will deny me three times.”
“The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter …”
The first four books of the New Testament explain this event and the word “looked” is not in the three other gospels, only in Luke. Luke wrote the events based on people he spoke to, mainly eyewitnesses. Luke was a young boy when Jesus lived. He went from person to person and asked them how the events happened. This could be why he included this extra information. He may have spoken to Peter, I don’t know. But he adds this significant information that Jesus looked at Peter and I presume Peter looked at Him. We do not read that Jesus spoke to him or that He shook His head or threw His arms into the air – He simply looked at him and at that moment it pierced his heart. In that moment He revealed to Peter what was in Peter’s innermost being. Peter could see something in Jesus’ eyes. It revealed a great mystery to Peter and he was deeply convicted. I wonder what it was that Peter saw that convicted him so deeply?
This Peter is the same one who just moments before had said, “Lord, I will go to prison with you.” “Jesus, I will die with You.” When we give a report of ourselves, everything seems good. When people speak to me, from my point of view, everything is good. Jesus spoke to Peter, just before, and told him that he would deny Him three times. That conversation did not convince Peter. He may have been shocked at first, I don’t know what he thought, but even that did not change him.
But when Peter saw His face, it revealed everything to him. My question this morning: if I could look into Jesus’s face, what would I see? If He could reveal His face to me today, what would I see? What would the expression on His face be? When I allow Him to look into my deepest thoughts, my innermost being, if I allowed Him to look into everything that I am, what would I see on Jesus’ face?
Even though Jesus looked at some people, it had no effect and made no impression on them. A bit further on in the text we read about the chief priests. Jesus looked at them, but it made no impression. They also saw Him, they also saw His expression, but they were dead to it. It can be like this in our lives as well. We can be dead to the look of the Lord.
Do we allow Jesus to look at us? Can we look at Him and say, “Lord, are you pleased with me? Please show me if You are pleased with my life. May I see in Your face whether I’m there where I should be. Are you pleased with me, in everything that I do?”
Rev Stegen often said, “Draw the circle around yourself.” Another man of God once said, “If things go wrong around you, go to your room, close the door, kneel down and say, ‘Lord, is there something in my life that is not right?’” These are hard words. If things go wrong around me (it may not even be me) do I go on my knees and say, ‘Lord, what do You want to show me?’ In a way, you say: ‘Lord, please first reveal Yourself to me. Let me see Your face. Is everything where it should be?’ ‘Lord, when You look at me, are You happy?’
What was the expression on Jesus’ face when He looked at Peter? What will His expression be like when He looks at me? Ask yourself this question. What will Jesus’ face look like? Each one of us knows. I will know if I see His face today what it will look like. He knows and I know. This could be why people steer away from this. They do not want to admit it. They do not want to see it.
Don’t say what His face looks like when all your plans work out, everything goes well, everyone respects and praises you. Tell me what His face looks like when things go wrong, when nothing works out. Tell me what His face looks like when you are misunderstood, when people point a finger at you or ignore you. What does His face look like in that situation when He looks into the depths of my heart?
We read in various places in the Bible that we must seek His face continually. David says in the Psalms: Thy face, Lord, will I seek. I seek for it, I look for it, I desire it. “Lord, I want to see Your face so that I can see whether You are pleased with me.” David says, Hide not Thy face far from me. Thou hast been my help, leave me not. Teach me Thy way, oh Lord. To seek the Lord’s face is to want to see Him. I want to feel if He is pleased with me.
Many times in Scripture, God’s people are encouraged to seek the face of God. The Hebrew word for “face” in the Old Testament is often translated “presence.” When we seek the face of God, we are seeking His presence. https://www.gotquestions.org
When we seek the face of God, we seek His presence. We want Him to be there so that we know whether He approves of what we are doing. We want Him to lead and guide us.
These days we showed some visitors the video When God comes down. I noted that Rev Stegen said, when the Lord called him, it was as if He stood in front of him. He said it was not even like words on the page but it was as if the Lord was standing there. That is seeking the Lord’s face.
The call to seek God’s face was issued to His people because they had abandoned Him and needed to return to Him.
Even if we have not abandoned God, (we are in church, we serve Him, we think we are doing what we should) there are times when we neglect to pursue Him. God’s face, His holy character, is often obscured by our human condition and fleshly desires. (That condition before me – that which has just happened – or even that temptation – obscures my view of God. I don’t look to Him for guidance. I don’t look at Him to see His face.)
Therefore, the Lord urges us to seek His face continually – all the time. This should be second nature. What would Jesus’ expression be when I am in that situation and I looked at Him? Will He have a sad face? Will He be disappointed? Will He look at me in disbelief? Or will His face shine upon me? The Bible also says the Lord’s face will shine upon you.
The Lord desires to be our constant companion in every experience of life. He wants us to know Him through and through. If we draw close to Him, God will draw close to us. If He draws close to us, He will convict us of our sin.
Billy Graham once said, “Everyone who has ever seen a true reflection of God was deeply convicted of his own sin. If we draw close to Him, He will show to us that which should not be there in our lives.” And if I seek His face, with a pure heart, He is also faithful and will reveal it to me.
Can I be convicted like Peter, and hopefully repent like Peter? What was the expression on Jesus’ face when He looked at Peter? When Peter saw that His face, he knew. Do you want to see God’s face? Is it a desire in you to see His face in such a way that you will know His thoughts?
It could be that the expression on Jesus’ face, when He looked at Peter, was pure love. Infinite, unfailing love. Possibly when He looked at him, His look was saying, “I love you. Peter, I love you. I’m going to die for you because I first loved you so that you can be saved and overcome. Peter, I am going to die for you, and I will rise again so that you don’t have to deny Me.” This may have been what pierced Peter’s heart – the look of ultimate love - even after Peter had denied Him. He looked at him and said, “I still love you.”
The Lord might be looking at you or me today with the same love that says, “Why, why do you want to deny Me? Why do you want to continue with your hatred and grudges? Why do you still want to continue in your pride? Why do you still want to give in to temptation? Why don’t you want to give up everything?” “Look, Peter, I am dying for you, like a lamb to the slaughter. But I love you even with your sin.”
If I see the Lord’s face, I may see that love. Maybe when I see that love, when I see His eyes, then I will realise that it is worthwhile to give everything. Maybe I will realise then what is required of me. Maybe we will realise then when we see the love in our Creator’s eyes.
Ask yourself, if I could see my Saviour’s face today, would He be pleased or saddened? If He is saddened, then see that love in His eyes that says, “I died for you.”
You can read about the disciples and how difficult their end was. Possibly the face of Jesus stayed in Peter’s mind all that time. Maybe Peter said that because of what he saw on His face, he could never go back.
Let us seek God’s face and see His face, “Lord, I want to see Your face - whether You are pleased with me. If you are not pleased with me, put Your finger on everything that does not please you - no matter how it hurts. No matter if I think I am right, no matter if I think I am giving everything, no matter if You are going to hurt my feelings. Lord, please look at me and show me if You are pleased.”
I am convinced that if you do that with a pure heart, He will show you everything that is not pleasing to Him – not the things in the other person, no, in me. If I see God’s face, it is me and Him – there is no other person. It is not the other person’s fault. It is not the situation’s fault. It is God and me. I want to see His face, shining on my life - which is why I am prepared for anything that He puts His finger on.
May the Lord reveal Himself to each one of us and may we never be the same. Peter was not a heathen. He followed the Lord and had left everything behind. I’m sure his intentions were pure. He could have said, “Lord, I gave everything to you, yet the Lord revealed to him that he was not where he should have been.” When Peter accepted it, he wept bitterly. After this, the Lord used him far more powerfully than before.
When the Lord looked at Peter, he remembered what the Lord had said to him. Then he went outside and wept bitterly. Allow God look at you and then remember where you have fallen.