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Msindisi Monthly Newsletter # 66

April 8, 2010

If there is one thing that the Lord has been teaching us this month it must be that all things are fragile and we must lean on God’s grace. The Saturday Bible study seems to have dwindled out, the school Salvi preached at did not ask for any return visit and this Sunday nobody turned up at Mondi where Phumulani and Salvi turned up to preach. However Salvi has stilled been able to catch up with the people from the Saturday bible study informally and been able to answer questions from scripture. The Louwsburg bible fellowship has been going well, but still fragile as people work through struggles in the battle between the spirit and the flesh. But God has been merciful and has kept us this far. One of the members has had to make some hard decisions with her life and has broken a relationship up with an unbeliever. But Lord gave us the opportunity to chat with him and it was humbling to see him opening up to Salvi. We pray that he will bow his knee to the Lord, accepting salvation on the basis of grace alone and not by his own religious observance in the Lutheran Church. The Lord is calling him. This Tuesday we had a young chap attend the fellowship who Salvi had met in Vryheid and answered questions concerning his doubts towards the Dutch Reformed church of which he is a part. It looks like he might regularly attend. We have given him a couple of Jacob’s DVD teachings and a book by Francis Schaeffer called ‘The God who is there’. Di continues to help with the Kid’s club regularly on occasion and the clinic runs for some of our neighbours. These runs are for a TB sufferer and a guy with AIDS. The long waits at the clinic have produced the first knitted beanie for the community by the hands of Di. Obviously not Salvi!

We have been trying to help the family, who lost the daughter last month, to get to the clinic for HIV tests. It has been difficult because the Gogo has to prove she is the legal guardian of the children. We only learned this on the second visit to the clinic. On the first visit they never got to see the nurses and on the second we were told the Gogo needed to bring the affidavit. Yesterday we took her to get the affidavit done and soon we hope to be able to take them to the clinic for testing. It is difficult for people to do some things that we would normally take for granted. Many do not have work and rely on a meagre pension (benefit) and there are limited times where they can get a taxi to get to the clinic. In general if some official business needs to be done, people only get the information of which documentation they need to provide when they arrive at the government department. This is a huge time and money waster. We got a phone call from the Springs Home Affairs this month concerning a girl (about 20 years old) who we tried to help get a late registered birth certificate. She is still trying to get it!

At the beginning of the month Salvi was asked to speak at a ladies prayer meeting. He spoke about the Biblical doctrine of women’s roles in marriage and church life being a source of great good or deception. Salvi survived the experience and no stones were thrown. Whew! We also enjoyed a Passover meal with the Louwsburg fellowship. It was the first experience of one for most of them and an education into the Biblical background to the celebration of communion. The gospel has continued to be preached faithfully in the communities of Alpha, Eastmine and Ngenitsheni. About four different residential areas in these communities have been completed and we press on. Di has come out on a few occasions. She is awaiting some Zulu bible stories to be able to share with the little ones.

Phumulani continues to teach well at the Church meetings, taking us through 2 Peter. He is still working on the farm for R1000 a month. He works hard and spends his spare time doing chores and preparation for Sunday. We bought him an MP3 player that works off an AAA battery and he was elated. He has been constantly listening to Jacob Prasch and Christian music. He is always looking out for other lines of work in the nearest town but nothing has worked out for him. He did go for driving lessons but failed his test as he only had 6 lessons. During that week it was a pleasure having him preach the gospel out in the communities. His zeal is more with the preaching of the gospel than bible teaching but he does both faithfully and with a good heart.

On a personal note, some friends covered the cost of a couple of days away to Kruger Park. Di got to see elephants, many elephants which was the highlight of her trip. It was very find of them and we got to see many animals including a cheetah cub, hippos, crocodiles, water buffalo, white rhinos, zebra, giraffes, water bucks, baboons, impala, wildebeest, kudu and various bird life. We had to go through Swazi land to get there and back.

Our friends, Marijke and Lina who were volunteering at Ebyown, have now returned to Aussieland and Kiwiland. We want to wish them every happiness in the Lord. Marijke takes back a little part of Di to the land of the long white cloud.

At the time of the next newsletter we will be in the UK. Salvi will be preaching in a few churches while we are there. You are welcome to come to hear him if you live near one of the venues. We enclose his itinerary at end of our news. The main reason for the visit is for Di to meet Salvi’s family for the first time. We thank the Lord for using our friends from Sydney, Australia to provide a way for us to have this opportunity.

May God bless you in His truth and His love.

Salvi and Di.

Salvador’s Itinerary

March

Sunday 28th 10.30am

Crossways Fellowship,

Moordown Community Centre,

Coronation Road,

Moordown, Bournemouth

CONTACT Fred Wilding 01929 405157

April

Sunday 11th 10.30am

Ainsdale Evangelical, Merefield School,

Westminster Drive, Ainsdale

CONTACT Steve or Linda Fazakerley 01704 876427

Sunday 18th 10.30 am & 6.30pm

Starbeck Mission, Forest Avenue,

Starbeck, Harrogate.

CONTACT Dena Alderson 01423340495

Sunday 25th 11.00am & 6.30pm

Woodhill Baptist Church, Woodhill Road

Colwyn Bay. Wales

CONTACT Pastor Leonard James 01492 534343

THE HAND OF THE LORD

Now what do we mean when we say, the hand of the Lord? God does not have literal hands. We know that Jesus has a glorified physical body but Jesus said in John 4: 24 that, “God is spirit”. When we talk about the hand, or the hand of the Lord, we are, of course, speaking in a figurative sense. Human hands are amazing things. They are useful, not only for things like gripping big items, but can grip minute things like a needle and thread, pens and other such things. They can perform tasks of utmost precision and skill such as a sonata on the piano, or allow us to play different kinds of sports, like tennis. I play the guitar and my mind reels at the speed that some guitarists can do their scales and arpeggios. With our hands we can build machinery and buildings. Hands can be used in acts of affection, like stroking, hugging and holding. Hands can also be used in acts of hostility, like punching, hitting, slapping. The Hebrew word for hand is ‘Yad’ and according to the Strong’s dictionary it means an open hand indicating power, means and direction. The term ‘the hand of God’ or ‘the hand of the Lord’ is used in different situations and in regards to different things but most of them illustrate something that relates to God’s power or authority. So we will look at God hand in regards to His power, which will take up most of this study, then we will look at God’s hand in terms of His means, His empowering, His power to supply, and lastly we will look at His hand in terms of His direction.

POWER

The Bible makes reference in a few places to the power of God’s hand. Read Exodus 3: 19 – 20. You see God, being the great ‘I am’, being Yahweh Yireh, the one who sees, is not taken in surprise by anything. God knew beforehand how stubborn Pharaoh would be and eventually God would even harden Pharaoh’s heart Himself. Pharaoh would not let Israel leave unless he was forced to. And so God sent ten terrible plagues on Egypt climaxing with the death of all the first born of those who did not have blood on their lintels. God equates the performing of these terrible plagues with the stretching out of His hand. God’s hand can take drastic measures if God sees the necessity. The power of God cannot be equalled by any. As Moses said in Exodus 15: 6, “Your right hand, O Lord, is majestic in power, Your right hand shatters the enemy.” We will look God’s creation power next, but think of God’s power in this way. God is the one who made every atom in the universe. What happens when you split an atom? You get an explosion. All that power from one atom, all that energy and where does that energy come from? It comes from the Lord. Now why did God manifest His power through Moses? It was not only to liberate Israel, although that was the main reason.

Turn to Exodus 9: 16 & 17. Here in the seventh plague God speaks to Pharaoh and tells him the reason he has allowed Pharaoh to remain. In other words, Pharaoh should have been removed before this point but God allowed Him to remain. It is just as Paul says in reference to Pharaoh in Romans 9: 22, that God, even though He is willing to demonstrate His wrath and to make His power known, He endured with much patience the vessels of wrath prepared for destruction and He did it to make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy which He prepared beforehand for glory. You see Israel were in Egypt for about 400 years. For a large amount of time there they had been subjected to harsh tyrannical slavery. God did not seem to be doing anything. The people called out and Moses came to their deliverance but they did not perceive it and so Moses ran away and it was 40 years later that God sent Moses to liberate Israel. God allowed Pharaoh to remain and then he kept him through 10 terrible plagues. Why? Because God was showing His power in order to proclaim His name throughout the whole earth. And this literally happened.

When Israel were going into the land, the tribes in the land had heard of the terrible plagues and the mighty works of Israel’s God in Egypt and it caused them to fear. Even as late as Samuel’s period of judging Israel, we see in 1 Samuel 4: 8 that the Philistines still remembered the stories of how mightily God had worked in Egypt by sending the plagues, although by now they obviously thought that Israel’s God may have been a number of different gods. And we see God’s hand in the New Testament being attributed to His power. In Acts 13: 11 Paul was preaching the Gospel to the proconsul in Paphos and the magician, Elymas, was seeking to turn him away from the faith. So Paul tells Elymas, in verse 11, that the hand of the Lord would be upon him and he would be blind for a time. The hand of the Lord was brought upon Elymas that God would prove his power to Sergius Paulus.

POWER MANIFESTED IN DIFFERENT ACTIVITIES

So God is powerful and his power is demonstrated in various ways:

Firstly, as we have already mentioned, there is God’s power, His hand in creation. Read Psalm 95: 1 – 5. God’s hand is a hand of creative power. We can see a few things from the text.

  • Firstly this psalm exhorts us to praise God, to give Him thanks, to shout joyfully because God is a great God. The main evidence this psalm gives us is the fact that God created the sea and the earth. By virtue of the fact that God made the universe, He is deserving of all praise and honour. Think about those who have children. Who sets the rules in their house? Is it the children? No, it should be the parents. The children should respect and reverence their parents. God is our creator, so how much more respect should we give Him. He is our origin and therefore we owe Him our lives. But unfortunately many people cannot even give God the time of day.
  • Secondly, the psalm shows us that by virtue of the fact that God’s hand made the sea and formed the land, means that God owns it. It belongs to Him and therefore we are accountable to Him for it.
  • But thirdly as is indicated by Isaiah 66: 1 & 2, because God’s hands have made everything, we should not think that God is dependent on us for anything. The fact that He chooses to use people to fulfil His purposes is exactly what it is, down to choice. But He does not need to use us. We should not think that we can build God a house, or contain God. But rather because His hands have powerfully created the heavens and the earth, we should come to Him humbly, in brokenness of spirit and tremble at His word.

POWER IN SOVEREIGNTY

Secondly there is God’s hand, His power exhibited in His sovereignty. What do I mean by sovereignty? I mean that God is the supreme ruler and law giver in the universe and everybody is accountable to Him. In 1 Chronicles 29: 11 & 12 King David blesses the Lord and recognises that he is not supreme but the Lord is. And what does he say of the Lord? He says that all glory and power and dominion belong to God. God is ruler over all. But all the other nations had their own gods. What right did God have to claim glory from these other tribes? Yet it is God who puts these other kings in their places. David says, ‘it lies in your hand to make great and to strengthen.’ I once was pastured by a guy who wrote, ‘We all have the ability to make decisions but it is not in our power to decree whether our longing will be satisfied or whether or not we will go unpunished.’ At the end of the day God has proclaimed His Law and He will judge. He will raise up and He will debase in accordance with His will, which is in total harmony with His character. God is always just, He is always right, He always shows loving kindness and patience and God not only waits but He waits to a point where every excuse man could attempt to hide behind has been stripped away and every mouth will be stopped. God’s hand speaks of His sovereignty. Turn back to Psalm 95 and this time look at verse 6 and 7. We are the sheep of God’s hand. This is the reason we are told to submit, to kneel before the Lord our king. Even if there are many so called gods, for us there is one God. We are in His hand and therefore He calls the shots, not us. No buts. As someone once said, ‘Sheep follow, goats butt.’

POWER IN DELIVERANCE

This leads me onto the next point. Thirdly, God’s power is manifested in His hand of deliverance, salvation and protection. David sought God’s deliverance many times against enemies that would take his life. He looked to God’s hand for deliverance. We have already seen that God’s hand represented His power manifested in Egypt and the purpose of this was to deliver His people. Exodus 13: 3, 9 and 14 all urge Israel to remember that God brought them out of Egypt by and with a powerful hand. His hand speaks of His desire to save. The name Jesus in Hebrew is Yeshua and it means ‘Jehovah is salvation’. God alone has power to save. But again in Deuteronomy 5: 15; 6: 20 – 21; 7: 18 – 19 the Israelites were constantly being told, remember. Remember, remember. The reason I believe that there is so much repetition of this commandment is because we are so often stupid. We forget. We forget simple things and we forget big things. We too are told to remember. God’s hand was also in our salvation. We take the Lord’s Supper in remembrance of Him, of His death where He was pierced for our transgressions, in His feet and in His hands. God’s hands were instrumental in having our sins forgiven. God’s hand was involved in the resurrection. Psalm 20: 6. And God’s power will also be employed in our resurrection too; his saving strength in our bodily redemption. His power in deliverance will cover every part of our being, our spirit and soul in the here and now and our body in the resurrection. We should never let this out of our sight because sometimes our salvation can become common place and when that happens, when we cease to be grateful, we will turn to other agendas and the worship of other gods.

His hand is not only involved in the work on the cross but it is also involved with the preaching of the Gospel and in people coming to salvation. Acts 11: 21 speaks of some of the Christians who were spreading out because of the persecution and preaching the Gospel to Greeks. In verse 11 it says that the hand of the Lord was with them and a large number who believed turned to the Lord. The text does not explain the mechanics of this; it only links these peoples conversion to the hand of the Lord being with the evangelists. No one can speak life into another person, except the Lord Himself. He was the one who spoke life in the creation and He has to do it in the New Creation. Jesus said that He would build His Church and we know that the spiritual birth has to be just what it is, a spiritual birth. It is God’s power that brings life to the dead.

POWER IN PROTECTION

In terms of protection, God’s hand is a refuge. What does God’s hand shield us from? Read Exodus 33: 19 – 23. Moses wanted to see God’s glory. Moses had experienced many things with God, had got to know God, had been obedient and faithful so that he could ask for such a request. It was not glib. Moses had seen God at work through His hand and he knew that he was nothing before God. He had interceded to God on behalf of Israel because he knew that God had the power to destroy Israel. Moses respected God. But it was impossible for Moses to see God in all His glory. So God would let him see a glimpse, of God’s back. God’s glory passed by Moses but what was it that shielded Moses? It was God’s hand of strength. Jesus is God’s hand. We will face God’s glory one day and how will we stand before Him? We are covered with Jesus’ righteousness just as Moses was covered by the hand of God. Psalm 48: 10 says of God’s right hand; ‘Your right hand is full of righteousness’. It is just like that song, Rock of Ages, ‘When I draw this fleeting breathe, when mine eyes shall close in death; when I soar through worlds unknown, see Thee on Thy judgement throne; Rock of Ages cleft for me, let me hide myself in Thee.’ The face of God is an awesome sight, which the Prophet Daniel and the Apostle John can testify to. But Jesus’ hand is a protection in another sense. According to John 10: 28 & 29, Jesus guards us so that no one can pluck us out of His hand. We are the sheep of His hand and He is the good shepherd. Are you in His hand today? Are you trusting in Him and Him alone? Because if you are then nothing can snatch you out of His hand. I am not asking if you are trusting in a single doctrine for assurance, but are you trusting the living, personal shepherd because He is our assurance and being in Him means that nothing can separate you from His love. There are real dangers, real things that try to buffet us but His hand is a hand of protection.

POWER IN JUDGMENT

But there is another side to this powerful hand and that is the side of judgement. God’s hand is powerful in judgement. This links with God’s sending of the plagues in Egypt. When God’s hand is for you, then we see the tender side of the Lord but the side of His judgement is not something we want to see. Hebrews 10: 29 – 31. The writer of Hebrews is writing to a group of Jewish believers, to Hebrews, who seem to be tempted to turn their back on their Messiah and to turn back to trusting in the Mosaic covenant. The writer has shown them in this epistle, the superiority of Christ over the angels, over the priesthood, over the sacrifices. Jesus took God’s judgement for our sins but if we reject His sacrifice, there is no other sacrifice. Therefore we will have to face the judgement for ourselves. It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God in this sense. For God’s hand to be against you means destruction, punishment, it means fighting against the Lord Himself. Samuel warned people of this in 1 Samuel 12: 15 where he told the people to fear the Lord and to serve Him, because if they did not and rebelled, God’s hand would be against them. For the believer this is the experience, not of judgement but of discipline. For the believer, God’s hand becomes heavy to correct and to teach the person, though it feels like judgement.

POWER IN OATH MAKING

God’s hand signifies His power in oath making. We serve a God that does not lie, that keeps His promises and Jesus told us that our yes should be yes and our no should be no. He said this because He was raising the standard above the righteousness of the Pharisees who were using their oaths to turn their yes into a no and their no into a yes. Jesus finishes that chapter of Matthew with the words, ‘Therefore you are to be perfect just as your heavenly father is perfect. Jesus said that their righteousness was to surpass the righteousness of the Pharisees. Jesus was looking for truth in the heart and not just outward appearances. God speaks Truth full stop and God will always vindicate Himself and His name. When God swears, He swears by Himself. In Deuteronomy 32: 40 God says “Indeed, I lift up My hand to heaven, and say, as I live”. God would render vengeance on His enemies. God never promises something that He cannot keep. His hand is always powerful enough to bring it to pass, just as David said about God in 2 Chronicles 6: 15 when he says, “indeed You have spoken with Your mouth and have fulfilled it with Your hand, as it is this day.” This is important because it affects our appreciation of the Gospel. We are saved by faith through grace and faith is simply to take God at His word. Now how can we have faith in someone who is not able to keep His promises? But when we see that God swears by His hand, that His hand brings to pass that which He promises; therefore when He says that ‘whoever calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved’, we have an utmost assurance that He will save us.

MEANS

His Hand implies power but is also implies ‘means’. God has the means. His hand is a hand of provision according to 1 Chronicles 29: 16. His grace is sufficient for every need that God leads us through. Everything that we need to live the Christian life, to do His will comes from His hand. His hand does not only speak of His own power but it is also a hand that gives power, it empowers and strengthens. In 1 Kings 18: 46 the hand of the Lord came upon Elijah so that he was able to outrun Ahab to Jezreel. We have already read in God’s sovereignty that God’s hand is able to make people great but also to strengthen them. He holds us in His hand. Daniel 5: 23 points out that even our life breath is in God’s hand. His hand also grants authority as we see with Jeremiah 1: 9. God put His hand on Jeremiah’s mouth and put His words in it, by which he would pluck up and break down nations, but also to build and to plant. His hand grants us honour and favour. It is interesting that Ezra and Nehemiah are the primary books that state that they were able to do things; that people were in unity; that they were able to get what they needed from the King because God’s hand was upon them. The reason why I find this interesting is because at the time it was so vital that they got that favour, so that God’s purposes in bringing the Messiah to pass. They needed the temple built but they were weak, they had many enemies in the land, they were spread out over the Babylonian (now the Mede and Persian empire), that God had to step in and move His hand to get them back to the land. No other books did I find in my study, apart from Ezra and Nehemiah, speak of God’s hand in this way to the extent that they do. But not just life, not just strength or power, not just provision or honour or favour or authority but God’s hand also provides healing, as in the case when Jesus would stretch forth His hand and heal People, such as Matthew 8: 3 and 9: 18.

DIRECTION

Lastly God’s hand is a hand of direction. God communicates with His people and His hand displays the power to command and to communicate. He did it in written word on 2 occasions. The first was on Mount Sinai and God wrote the 10 commandments on stone with His own finger. The second was in Daniel 5: 5 where God writes on the wall while Belshazzar was having his drinking party. The first was the setting forth of His commandments and the second time was with judgement. It is interesting to note the only other time God wrote was in the form of Jesus (John 8: 6) with the women caught in adultery. Jesus wrote in the dust. This was not, as far as we know, writing to communicate with men. But the situation was about Grace without going against the Law. We have the commandments we have judgement and we have grace all represented by God’s hand. But the point I want to bring out is that God is not trapped. If God sees the need to, His hand can step in and make His will known even to the hardest of hearts. We don’t need to do a 40 day course for God to make His will known. The same hand of God came upon Ezekiel in chapter 8: 1 and chapter 37: 1 to allow him to see visions that God wanted him to see. Ezekiel was not doing meditation techniques or attending courses to experience these things. In chapter 8: 1 he was sat with the elders of Judah, in his own house. God is not trapped to a spell or a ritual. In the words of Francis Schaeffer, ‘God is there and He is not silent.’ But why do we doubt this? Is His hand not the hand that leads and directs us? If God is silent for a time, maybe He has good reason to be. Maybe there is something unresolved in your life. Maybe God is just testing your obedience as He did with the Israelites at Mount Sinai in Exodus 32. They promised to obey the Lord but when Moses delayed to come down from the mountain and they had no word from him, they built themselves an idol.

God’s hand is with His people and it is powerful. But He will only do that which is in accordance with His nature and with His will. His hand does not act on foolish whims but to His only glory and to the benefit of His people. Do you believe in the attributes of God’s hands? Do you believe that what God has promised He will bring to pass? Are you thankful for that? Are you experiencing the power, the provision and the direction that comes from God’s hands?

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