Introduction Mr J Dube
We greet you wherever you are.
8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God…Ephesians 2:8
The fact that we are believers comes from God. That we can be called brethren, Christians, children of God, comes from God. If you pray for people’s conversion, ask God to visit those people. Jesus thanked His Father ‘for those You have given Me’. For you to be a Christian does not come out of your own, it is a gift from God. If you do not believe yet, ask God. It happened with me. When my mother wanted one of her children to be a match which would kindle the fire in the my other siblings, I asked the Lord that it would be me. If that word comes to you, do the same, cry out, ‘Lord, may it be me!’ If you are still troubled by sin, cry out to God and ask Him to help you so that you can be saved.
May we seek the will of the Father. It is important to seek the will of God. Do you do things because God has told you to do it? Do you visit someone because it is God’s will for you? Do you speak because God wants you to say something?
You share with your wife, “My wife, we want to go to a certain place, what do you feel?” Then you pray together and you make sure whether it is indeed the Lord’s will that you do it. The will of God is something very deep. This song that the choir has just sung is about the depth of asking and seeking God’s will.
Let me ask you as you smoke or drink – is that God’s will? Do you realise that it is not God’s will that you enter into that. It is good that you pray and ask – this which I want to do, is it God’s will?
You may feel something on your heart – I need to go to someone to help someone or admonish them – ask God if it is His will for you to do that.
We will now listen to what God has got to say to us. May we put aside anything that might hinder us and hear what God has to say to us. Say, God what do you want to say to us today?
I greet you all in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. We thank the Lord that He has kept us and allowed us to meet this morning.
How often do people say, ‘I feel God leading me to do this…’ Really knowing God’s will is something deep. Some people say, ‘I feel called to preach…’ but to truly understand this is something very deep. When a person wants to marry, he says, ‘I feel the Lord leading me to get married.’ People can understand the will of God then, but when they need to live in it, it is something very different. They hear God’s word and His will but thereafter when God’s guidance and word is needed in life, they no longer hear Him.
When last have we earnestly sought to understand God’s will in all that we do.
Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ. 1 Corinthians 11:1
There are ways in which this verse is translated in Zulu. Imitate me as I imitate Christ and Be imitators of me as I am of Christ. I prefer the latter version.
Who spoke these words and to whom? Paul spoke to the church in Corinth. He was the leader in this church but he came as a servant, a teacher. In texts before and after this verse, Paul refers to different aspects of life, different people in the church and different spheres of life. Paul did not just delve into the spiritual but he also looked at a person and his outer appearance. He commented on things which present-day church goers do not want to pay attention to. Paul spoke to the church about how men and women should dress. He addressed young and married people. Paul addressed parents and how they should conduct themselves in the family and how the father should conduct himself as the head of the home. After Paul had taught these things, he said ‘Look at me, be an imitator of me as I imitate Christ.’
The way we live on earth, is the way we will live in heaven one day. God will be our Father and we will be children to Him. We do not start that journey once we get to heaven, it begins now.
In a home there is a father and mother. The father is the head of the home. The children look up to the father and mother. What do they see? How are they raised? In the church, there is the minister and his wife whom the church looks up to as they grow spiritually. If people visit, what do they see in the members of this church? When we are in town do people look at us and say, ‘I want to be in that church,’ because they see the life you live? When your child greets someone respectfully, or your child helps someone else, the parents who taught that child are noted. In the same way, if a child is cheeky and troublesome, people notice the parents of that child.
Be imitators of me as I imitate Christ. Brethren, members of this church, who do we imitate? Put your church’s name in there. What type of life do you live? What do people in your church observe in you? Put your preacher in the place where the preacher must be - are you able to imitate your preacher? Who do you imitate if you imitate that preacher? Paul says, ‘Be like me, do as I do - as I do as Christ has taught me.’
Who do we follow? Your father - do you live the life he does? Does he treat people in the way we treat others? If we say we do as our father has taught us, can we say that we imitate him as he imitates Christ? Paul has been placed in front of us. Do we imitate him as he imitates Christ?
We need to follow God with those who have been placed before us. As a school child who do you imitate? When you are far away from your parents, how do you live? Who do you take after? Who do you imitate and who is that one imitating? Now that live on your own, who do you take after? Is the life you are living now, the way you lived at school?
In the church where you are in a position to care for people, how do you do it? How do you treat them?
If you are a hypocrite, you will embrace people whom you feel are on the same level as you are, but you will despise others and you will find it difficult to even greet them. You despise people who cannot greet you in English. You treat such people in any manner. Who do you imitate? You say that you have a better education because you went to a particular school. Who do you imitate? Can preachers say what Paul said or do they have to say, imitate me only in certain things but not in others.
There is a Paul is living before us who showed us whether it is light or dark, difficult or easy - a life that we can follow. We fail because we do not do as Paul did. Paul was sent to this congregation to model an exemplary life because he imitated the Christ who lived this way. There are those who call themselves Paul or prophets in this day because of what they can do but they are not like Paul. There are young people my age who only arrived when things were easy and were given to them on a tray. Those who have recently arrived say, ‘No, this is an old way…’ When someone tries to help them, instead of following the ones who follow Christ, they go their own way. Those who truly understand the will of God, say this is the way we walk because of the deep way God showed us.
There are chocolate soldiers. When difficulties come, or even when there are blackouts, they melt. Whom do you follow? Who do you imitate? Young men who have recently got married - the way you treat and raise your family, is that the way Paul taught? Can you imitate him as he imitates Christ? Couples who have been married for a long time, can you say look at me, follow me, as I follow Christ? Mother, how do you treat your husband? Husband, how do you treat your children? Can you say, ‘Imitate me as I imitate Christ?’ When you chat across the fence from morning to night spreading stories and news, are you like Paul - following him as he imitates Christ? Where do you find yourself? You know all the gossip about people, but what pertains to your life you do not know. You know where your neighbour is, where their children are, who they have relationships with, when the next child will be born, but you know nothing about yourself. Who do we imitate?
As we serve people, do we do it as Paul? Can we imitate Paul as he imitates Christ? We must have our eyes on those who imitate Christ, who have learnt to live as Christ. This is the church that He has shown the way, that He walks with - to present them as a pure virgin to Christ. We have received this revival Gospel that has worked in our lives. Rev Stegen has said that when he stands before God and God asks him about so-and-so, he will respond and say, ‘Lord, I showed them the way, I taught them but they were not willing to obey.’
At work or at school, who do you imitate and who does that person imitate?
The way in which you speak, people do not just see a careless person speaking, they look at the home you come from. If the mother is always interrupting, even if she is not part of a conversation, people do not look at the woman, they look at the home.
When you are on holiday, how do you act, what do you say? Someone there will know you are from a church.
How do we live? Do we imitate Paul who is an imitator of Christ? Preachers of the Gospel, how do we live? Do people say they want to be imitators of Paul who is also in Christ?
If I can give you an idea of what it was like before we got here, we were seeking the will of God, asking and searching for God to come down. We did not look at the building we were in – in which animals had been accommodated before with just a bit of roof sheeting tied together in the middle.
We did not look at the man who said, come let us come together and seek revival. We only saw that it was God we were seeking. We prayed in that building, seeking God’s face, asking God to come and be with us. We did not look at the building and what it was like. That did not matter to us.
That is what it is like when you seek God with all your heart. You don’t look at the building or the state in which it is – you seek God’s face. The Lord came down in that stable to be among us.
When we came to KSB we never dreamt that we would be able to worship in a building like this. When we got here there was just a forest of wattle trees. The first building was built with mud. We used candles and lamps, there was no electricity. We just sought the will of God, but God was with us even in those circumstances.
We did not regard our leader as someone who was insane, as some were saying at that point. We saw that this man walked with Christ.
My child, as you are troublesome whom do you imitate? Parents, I give you a challenge today, if your child troublesome whom do they take after? You as a mother, with your troublesome daughter, ask yourself who are they taking after because I am not like that.
And you father, when your son is troubling, ask yourself, who do they take after because this is not the way I know. Isn’t it so that Christ is in your heart? Now who are these children imitating? Ask them but ask yourself as well – who do they imitate since I do not live like this?
Do they see this Jesus that is leading you?
Sister, whom do you take after, because your parents are not like that. Take your sister and ask her who she is taking after because your parents are not like this. In the state you are in spiritually, are you imitating Christ?
When Jesus’ mother looked for Him, He said, I am doing the will of the Father. It is important that you ask yourself this question – as my children live like this, who are they imitating?
Child, in the things you are doing, are you imitating Christ? Paul said, I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy; for I betrothed you to one husband, so that to Christ I might present you as a pure virgin. Young girls do you realise that that is an illustration of what the church should be. Young girl, do you live that pure life that God requires? Do you live that pure life, as Paul says, referring to that purity – to take the church and present it to God.
Oh Paul, how could you tell people to imitate you? Today people would say, even on News24, you have uplifted yourself like a god. People would have publicised it all over, even on the radio. ‘You see, he says imitate me, live as I live,’ they would say. He makes as though he is Christ.
Let us live a life so that people can say, look, they live the life of Christ. Wherever you are - in town, people will be able to say this is a pure man/girl. They live the life of Christ. Do people testify of your life and say this mother/father lives a life of Christ.
Wherever you find yourself – in the church where you are, can people look at you and say, that is the life of Christ?
What would it have been like with you – in that building in Maphumulo in 1966 – would you have said, it is not for me? This Gospel got hold of us and taught us.
If the “I” in you still rules you, you are going nowhere. If you are proud, haughty, people will look at and notice, that person is still proud. Even in the way you talk people will see they have not yet been helped.
Jesus Christ washed the feet of His disciples. Would you as a man be able to wash the feet of other men? To be like Christ is to do that, although He was the King of kings, he was able to do this.
Do you understand the ministry of humility? Not that you say this is all mine, but as with Zacchaeus, he came down the tree and Jesus went into his home.
And you as a servant of God who say you are called – the Lord puts it into your heart to go and visit a lonely family. If you do so they will be touched and say, see the Lord has come.
When Jesus entered the tax collector’s house, the one who had wronged people – although people said, he is going into sinner’s home – he changed that house. Is it beneath your dignity to go into certain homes?
Can I tell you a secret, just with a handshake you can win over a person. That is how we win over people.
If you are haughty and arrogant people will say, that person is proud, he won’t even greet me. May they see Jesus in our lives in this coming week. May they see that Christ lives in us. May it be evident that we do the will of God.
The mother of the crab said, “Come my child, walk here.” The little crab walked and the mother said, “You are not walking straight, you are walking sideways.” So, the little crab said, “Mother, you please walk and I’ll look and imitate you.” The mother did so, but the little crab said, “Mother, see, we are walk exactly the same – sideways. Parent, be careful. The child will see, even at the table how you parents quarrel. They will say, we see how you argue so how can you say we should not do it.
Take note how you walk before your family. Is it upright?