Tuesday, 25 December 2018
Dr Albu van Eeden
1 Peter 2:7,8
The Child will cause the fall and rise of many
Today we celebrate Christ’s appearance before His enemies. Mankind had become his enemies. Satan broke mankind’s fellowship with God by causing their hearts and desires to clash in every aspect with God.
As I walked up to the pulpit and looked at this audience, I saw the fruit of this revival. Population groups that have been enemies, different nationalities and races are now united. This is the fruit of revival. Whenever God works in a deep way, animosities and the natural man disappear. In the 4 years as a Christian, before I came here in 1978, I read books about revival and visited different churches looking for revival. The last revivals I heard about were those in Indonesia and Canada. In many churches I heard people who spoke the truth but nowhere had I seen what I saw when I came here. People of different races working together for God’s kingdom. If God is not in our midst anymore, you will see separation slowly but surely creep in. May God be merciful to us.
1 And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. 2 For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. 3 And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, 4 and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, 1 Corinthians 2:1-4
Sometimes we are weak. Sometimes we come out of difficulties. Sometimes we may be confident and other times unsure and full of fear and trembling. There is a danger that we look at the physical strength of the person in front of us, at his confidence and eloquence and we miss the working of God’s spirit in the whole thing. My prayer for today, is that God will be present even though my words may be presented in fear and trembling. The message that God has laid on my heart for today is a very simple message.
25 Now there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. 26 And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. 27 And he came in the Spirit into the temple, and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him according to the custom of the Law, 28 he took him up in his arms and blessed God and said, 29 “Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace, according to your word; 30 for my eyes have seen your salvation 31 that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, 32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel.” 33 And his father and his mother marveled at what was said about him. 34 And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, “Behold, this child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is opposed 35 and a sword will pierce through your own soul also, so that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.” Luke 2:25-35
The birth of Christ, the good news of peace on earth, is a dividing factor and many will stumble in the process. What effect has the birth of Christ had in your life? Has it led to your resurrection from death or has it become a stumbling block to you after you have been walking with Christ for sometime? It becomes something of strength and resurrection for those who are dead in their sins and in a state of hopelessness. People who come to the Lord are desperate because they are without any hope. For people who are desperate and lost in sin there is a power that can resurrect them out of their life of sin.
The birth of Christ is also appointed for the fall of many. What is busy happening in your life now? Is the birth of Christ helping you and making you rise out of darkness and lost hopelessness in sin or is it causing you to fall? How can it cause you to fall? Because the thoughts of many hearts are being revealed through his birth.
There are two incidents that demonstrate the effect that the birth of Christ can have in a person’s life.
A few hundred years ago in an island called Cape Hateras off the coast of North Carolina lived men who purposed to lead ships onto rocks and destroy them. Through the years they became known as The Wreckers i.e those who cause disaster. How did it happen that the people got this name. Circumstances had allowed the devil to get into their hearts. The island was surrounded by rocks. Some ships ran onto the rocks and were wrecked. The items from the ship would be washed onto the beaches and the inhabitants would salvage the objects.
Then the devil switched a light on in the minds of the people. They realised that there was a way in which they could use the conditions of the island to grow rich. In the same way things will happen in your life which you did not plan but will open our mind suddenly to the way the devil sees things and not God. It will be like a light going on. When the devil told Eve that the fruit would make her wise, she saw things in the devil’s light and not God’s light. When a light goes on in your mind check with a man of God that what you see is from God.
This place got the name of Nag’s Neck. Why? The wreckers would tie a lantern around a horse’s neck and lead the horse up and down so that the light of the lantern would bob up and down. The sailors would see the light which looked like the lantern on an anchored ship, making ships out at sea believe that the water was deep and safe. It was not, and the ships would be dashed to pieces against the rocks. The islanders would pick up the treasures that washed up.
May God give us discernment. You may think that God is leading you but you do not realise that a wrecker is leading you. Be careful of the desire to become great and proud. You will turn into a wrecker who destroys the lives of others.
This activity turned into a thriving business. The islanders would display the objects which they had salvaged in their homes – smart things. Some ships were wrecked by accident. Others by treachery. A total of 2300 ships were destroyed. Beware of the love of money. It is the root of all evil.
There are three main spiritual wreckers. Firstly: the world – everything of the world, the dress code, the morals, social media. You can pick up when a person spends a lot of time on social media. He has accepted so much of the world’s standards through the use of social media. He uses specific jargon. It’s a spirit that comes out of it. On social media platforms they all think in the same way and talk in that way. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Romans 12:2 (NIV) The pattern is the way the world does things. Be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Some people expect their thoughts to change as soon as they come to the Lord. We need to learn to think in God’s way, in the way He sees things.
The second wrecker is the flesh. The flesh can be very blatant but it can be more subtle – the ‘we’ versus ‘them’: we think like this, they think like that. The devil wants to destroy God’s work in you by using the spirit of the flesh. This work of KwaSizabantu is the result of a man in whom God worked and destroyed the flesh.
The third wrecker is the devil himself. He uses the flesh and the attractions of the world. He pulls the strings behind the curtains.
8 Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 9 Resist him and be firm in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are being experienced by your fellow believers throughout the world.1 Peter 5:8,9
The devil is walking around like a roaring lion. That is why Peter says resist him and stand firm in the faith. Then he adds, because you know that the same sufferings are being experienced by your fellow believers throughout the world. Resisting the devil will often mean suffering. Prepare yourself for that. You will be exposed to sufferings while you resist the devil. It is not just resisting the attraction of sin. You will have to suffer for that. Do not be surprised if you suffer. Peter said it would happen years ago.
35 and a sword will pierce through your own soul also, so that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.”
Throughout your life things will happen to you which will reveal your thoughts and things that you did not know existed in your life. You will say I am a Christian, I serve the Lord, I suffered for the Lord. God will always reveal things in your life that you did not know about. Do not be surprised if all kinds of ugly things come out of your life. What hidden thoughts of your heart has the birth of Christ revealed? If He had not been born those thoughts may not have been brought to the light.
53 They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law. Luke 12:53
Christ brings division; fathers against sons, mothers against daughters, mother-in-law against daughter-in-law. Suddenly you will notice jealousy rising within you – I am right: he is wrong. After you have said something you may realise that what you said was because you did not want to humble yourself. Irritability, greediness, intolerance to the mistakes of other people may also rise up. What has the birth of Christ revealed in your heart and mine? All these evil things? What do you do when God reveals something in your heart? You may have been serving God for many years and suddenly something comes up from within you that you did not know existed. Once God shows that to you, are you willing to bring it to the light, no matter how humiliating it may be? In spite of the consequences? We should be willing to be sanctified by God.
The Titanic sank in 1912. Two years later a ship which looked almost identical, the Empress of Ireland also known as ‘Canada’s Titanic’, sank in 1914. It was a 14 000 tonne ship that sailed from Canada to Great Britain carrying passengers and mail. On 29 May 1914 at 1.38am, carrying about 1 400 passengers and crew, the Empress of Ireland collided with another ship in heavy fog. It took 15 minutes to sink. Only 5 of the 16 lifeboats could be launched. More than 1000 people drowned.
There were businessmen, the rich and wealthy and celebrities. There was also a group of 170 young people of the Salvation Army who were on their way to a conference. Their cabins adjoined the rooms where the life jackets were stored so they could get the life jackets out, put them on and jump into the water. After everything was over though, these 170 young people were not among the survivors. The survivors later met and discussed the incident. They heard stories which were all similar. Some survivors were eye witnesses to what had happened. ‘A young person swam to me, took off his/her life jacket and gave it to me. And then we didn’t know what happened to them.’ Some said that after they had given the jackets away, the water was icy and they knew they would die quickly so they swam from person to person and asked them whether they were saved, until they were either too tired or too cold and they drowned. They knew they did not have much time but the time they had, they grabbed the people out of the clutches of Satan.
Where do you find yourself? Maybe you know you are going to die soon, are you using your strength to save people or to destroy them? One of the passengers, a big tough guy who was covered in tattoos, told this story: a girl swam to him and gave him her life jacket. She told him to put it on. He did, but later he thought that he should not take it as he was a man and she was a girl. So he swam back and threw it to her. She asked him whether he was a Christian and he said he was not. She asked him whether he wanted to be a Christian and he replied that he was not ready. She responded by saying that if she died, she would go heaven but if he died he would not and she returned the life jacket to him. He was saved. He said that he was saved twice, first in body and then soul.
Are you using the life jacket that God throws you at this place?
The founder of the Salvation Army General William Booth, died in 1912. The organisation was on fire for God. Each year General Booth wrote a letter to his soldiers around the world to encourage them. As he got older, he became weaker and his messages got shorter. The very last message he wrote was just one word: others. Possibly this message, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, influenced the youth to save others that fateful night.
Live for others. What are you doing with your life? What am I doing with mine? Am I living for others? William Booth was so old that he could write one word but it was used by the Holy Spirit. They loved and respected him so much that they kept that one word in their hearts and lived for others. What are you spending your life on? Yourself? Others? What is the final word going to be about your life in front of God’s throne? Have you caused people to abandon God and caused their faith to shipwreck? Has your life, up to your last word, been able to save the souls of others? I am not speaking about humanitarian aid. There is nothing wrong with it. You can see how people are helped at this mission where there is job creation, community upliftment and skills development. But this place is not about community upliftment and humanitarian aid. It is about saving the souls of people. 2000 years ago a baby was born. He was born to the rise and fall of many. He gave his life for us. He did not come for himself but others. He lived amongst us, he was crucified for others, he was emptied of himself. We should be the same.
Let us treasure the guidance we have received from the leader of the work.
Appendix: Closing comments by Mr J Dube
We are privileged to hear messages of this calibre. May we not be numbered among those who stumble and fall but among those who are raised up.
Simeon was a righteous man. He desired to see the Child and he embraced the Child. He was able to die in peace for he had seen his saviour. Through this message may we see the saviour in our lives. Let us not be numbered among those who say they are advising and counselling others instead they are wrecking lives.
Simeon said that this child is like no other, he causes the rise and fall of many. If we have a different spirit to the Holy Spirit we will be unable to raise people up. If we no longer have the Holy Spirit, we will think we are helping people when we are causing them to stumble. A person is saved on a daily basis. It should be easy for you if you stumble, to quickly apologise. It is possible to live like this but if you are not willing to admit your faults it will be difficult.
‘I have seen the Christ,’ Simeon said, ‘now I can be dismissed in peace.’ Will it be like that with us?