Speaker: Pastor Hannes Van Wyk
Series: March 2015
Scripture: Psalm 46:1
The visiting minister, Pastor Hannes Van Wyk of Meyerton Country Tabernacle, greeted the congregation in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. He mentioned that a visiting minister from Malawi was preaching in his church at the same time he was ministering to the Spoken Word Tabernacle (SWT) family. He conveyed his congregation’s greetings to the SWT believers.
As he read the scriptures, he noted how vulnerable we are as human beings. We cannot defeat the devil on our own. We are no match for Satan. That is why we need God’s protection. And God operates by first equipping his children before the onslaught of the wicked one. In preparing us for the onslaught of the enemy, God actually gives spiritual vitamins of encouragement to us.
Before Elijah called fire from heaven on Mt. Camel, God had already prepared him for the event. Always, the supernatural takes place before actual showdown. That is why Elijah was able to give the prophets of Baal the entire day to call upon their idols. He was confident that nothing would happen in that long interval of time. God had already showed him. Elijah had been prepared already. No wonder he even poured water on the sacrifice to soak it wet so that when the supernatural comes to take charge, it will be obvious that something out of the ordinary has happened. He even outran horses under the same anointing.
Yet when Jezebel comes with a threat against him, the prophet runs away and finds shelter under a juniper tree. This fear of a woman’s attempt on his life is in stark contrast to the boldness by which he single-handedly slaughtered the 400 false prophets. This is the Juniper tree syndrome, which comes after a great spiritual climax in every believer. For some people, the Juniper Tree experience comes in the form of pressure at work. After enjoying a wonderful service on Sunday, the devil lays a trap on Monday to take away the believer’s joy at work.
Regardless of the depressed spirits under the Juniper Tree, God fed Elijah with supernatural food. The prophet ate angels’ food at a moment when he was really down. This shows how God is mindful of us even in times of trouble. He is a very present help in time of need.
The Prophet once got lost in the woods during his honeymoon hunting trip. He had left Meda and Billy Paul at the cabin while he ventured in the woods to hunt. When a storm arose, he lost his bearings and was stranded. His experience as a woodsman could not help him. His hunting instincts and love for the wilderness born of the dash of Indian blood from his maternal side could not avail much in that hour. He was lost. And it was now dark with storm clouds hanging low. He could not see his way out. He was simply going round and round in a death march, coming back to the same spot while wearying himself with fatigue. Yet at that dark hour, a whisper came to him. A Voice spoke and said I am a very present help in time of need. Then the flash of lightning showed him that he was going in the opposite direction from the hunters cabin where his wife and son waited for him. The he started walking back to the cabin with hands help up in the air. He walked for over an hour in this posture, expecting to touch the telephone cables that would take him to the cabin. It was hard, walking with upstretched hands for over an hour.
God gives us the promises in His Word. But we have to fight to claim the promises. For example, when the Prophet was lost in Hurricane Mountain, God did not carry him to the cabin where Billy Paul and Meda waited. He had to walk back himself, no matter how hard the journey was.
In the book of 2nd Chronicles chapter 20, we see Jehoshaphat encompassed by enemies. When faced with trouble, Jehoshaphat seeks the face of the Lord. This time he does not rush into the war as previously done. In earlier times, Jehoshaphat was quick to join himself up with others fighting their own battles. He teamed up with Ahab at one time and then later decided to approach the prophet Elisha. Elisha was angry with Ahab, but his respect for Jehoshaphat constrained him to deal gently with Ahab. This teaches us a great lesson. We need to be careful with the things we bind ourselves to. The prophet was angered by the association of a righteous man and a wicked king.
If prayer had been made earlier on, there would have been no need for going to see Elisha in the midst of challenges. But the problem with us human beings is that we rush into action without seeking the face of the Lord. We are not able to sit still and see the salvation of the Lord. Pre-consultation with God saves the pain and effort of panicking and hurried actions that are done while under pressure from the strain of the moment.
When Elisha got angry, God could not speak through him. The situation was bad. It took something external to restore the Prophet’s composure. He called for a minstrel. After playing the musical instrument for a while, the bad atmosphere was dispelled and then God’s presence came back. The Prophet was able to speak and instruct that ditches should be dug out in the valley. Again we learn an important lesson from this episode. If we cannot be God’s mouthpiece, as was Elisha in this case, let us strive to be at least like the minstrel. The minstrel was just an object used to bring back the right atmosphere. The mistrel brought the Holy Ghost down.
We are in a ditch-digging time right now. As Elisha prophesied, the people had to make the valley full of ditches in preparation for water. They had to dig down into the dry ground and past the rock, even if it meant using dynamite to blast the rock away. When it comes to digging, we begin to see people working at different paces. Some dig deep and narrow while others dig wide and shallow. But the point is that work must be done. The digging must be done. We need to work to inherit the promises of God. When God says that we are at rest in the Lord Jesus Christ, it does not mean that we do nothing. It only refers to the fact that we cease from our own efforts.
The minister mentioned the case of his conversion back in 1990. He came across the Message of the Hour when he was busy pursuing full time studies at a time when examinations were in progress. He did not put off repentance for another day when the pressure was somewhat lower. Those who put off salvation to some future day usually spurn mercy and fail to come back to grace. This happened with one young lady who was equally busy studying and decided to postpone the response to God’s call on her life. She did not come back to God after her matriculation examinations up to this day.
When the minister found out about the Word of God for his day, he was pleased to note that at last he had found something that could explain all scriptures without glossing over them. His Anglican background could not match up to the richness of the Word presented to him by his sister who was testifying to him. The pressure of the examinations and full time studies could not stop him. He tried to concentrate in the study while people fellowshipped about the Word in the living room. Somehow he found himself leaving the studies and going into the other room and declaring that he wants to be baptised right away.
The devil was not pleased with this. He sent back the desires of the flesh just two weeks after baptism. The minister used to drink and smoke before his conversion. He battled with these desires until one day when the craving for smoking was great, he simply made an ordinary prayer to God saying Lord please take away these things from me. From that time, the craving for smoking disappeared. The minister did not smoke again.
When we have problems, we need to give them over to God. And we need to continue digging, knowing that we are in preparation time for the rapture. The minister gave another testimony from his family. His brother-in-law was fatally injured in a car accident that broke his bones and spine and left him as a wheel chair case. But the family, together with the saints in other congregations, continued to pray for the brother in law. Right now the man is walking, after the saints continued to hold on to the promise of healing. It is necessary to continue digging and holding on to the promises of God. The devil puts a scarecrow around the promises of God. Farmers who use scarecrows do so when there is something of value to protect, when there is something real. When we look to Calvary, we need to realise that Satan’s power was broken. He is just a scarecrow and we should not be afraid of his threats. We are fighting a defeated enemy, as the Prophet says.
The minister was told of a story about a certain sister who was walking to church on foot in the dark. Suddenly, she was approached by two attackers, intending to harm her. But the assailants were shocked to see a ferocious dog walking alongside the sister. It looked very menacing and the men ran away in fear. God is a very present help in time of need.
When Jehoshaphat approaches God under threat of war from neighbouring enemies, he goes to the house of God. And God has not stopped using that approach ever since. The tabernacle was made of three compartments, which still apply today. The Holy of Holies still exists today, which is the spot behind the pulpit from which the Word is disseminated. And when Jehoshaphat prayed to God, he starts off with reminders to God of His great exploits during the times of the patriarchs. He is praising God for what He did yesterday. Then he moves from the past to the present. Having given a background of what God did for the fathers, he now asks God to do the same for the children now. And God loves that. He wants to be reminded of his very own promises which He has made. And when we pray, we need to know that we cannot be judged twice. When Pilate confessed that he found no fault in Christ Jesus, it was actually us today who have no fault, for Jesus Christ represented us on that day. We need to pray with that revelation in our hearts.
At one time the Prophet wanted to refund sister Hertie Wright her US$20 which she had pledged for building fund. But the Holy Ghost told him not to do that. And when the prophet gave the testimonies of how the squirrels were created, Sister Hertie Wright responded in the affirmative saying what the Prophet spoke was nothing but the truth. And God was pleased with that testimony. The Holy Ghost came down and filled the entire house. The foundation shaked, and Brother Bank Woods hit his head in the plate before him. She was told to ask what she wanted from her heart. The Prophet thought she would desire the healing of her crippled sister Edith, but the woman desire the salvation of her two unsaved boys. She did not ask for money, though she was poor. She did not ask for healing, though her sister was badly deformed by polio. She asked for the noblest thing, the salvation of the soul. Immediately, we learn an important principle. We should be careful with what we say.
The Lord Jesus Christ once told a Syro-phoenician woman that He could not give children’s bread to dogs. The gentile woman did not protest. If the Word told her that she was a dog, she was not going to fight that. Rather, as a dog, she realised that she can still eat at the master’s table from the crumbs that children leave behind. Because of her good speaking, God granted the healing to her daughter. There was no prayer made. Only speaking was done and the sick were healed.
Let us hold on to God. He fights our battles. He gives us the victories but we still need to do something before we claim the promises. Positive testimonies, like that of Mary, actually seal us with God. The world is sealed outside and we are sealed inside with our Lord and Saviour.
Let us have faith. Let us have works of faith. Faith and works are essentially the same thing. When Paul says that Abraham was justified by faith, he is saying the same thing as James who claims that Abraham was justified by works. We must remember that Paul is a prophet messenger to the gentile church. He speaks, as a prophet, from the way God looks at things. God looked at Abraham and saw his faith. But men looked at Abraham and saw works. Men cannot see the hidden and invisible things which only God sees and knows. Therefore that is why men see works, which are visible evidence of faith, while God sees faith itself.
At the cross, when Christ died, God tore the Lord’s body in two. One part ascended on high to heaven while the other part came down. That is why on the day of Pentecost, God divided himself among the believers. He was tearing from the remaining part which came to earth. He was giving out the same Holy Spirit to each and every one. The minister demonstrated this by tearing a piece of paper in two. He left the one half at the pulpit. Then he walked down into the congregation and tore from the remaining half small pieces of paper and gave them to the believers in the pew. This is an illustration of the event of Acts 2: 38 when the Holy Ghost came down in the Upper Room. Thus the part on earth should dovetail with the part in heaven.