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Msindisi Newsletter # 78

March 6, 2011

NUMBER: 78. March 2011
PO BOX 1481
+27 (0) 728311008
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Dear Friends and family,

Gone is the hottest month ….. so they say. Still very hot today !!! however March means less flies, slightly cooler days and the snakes will start to disappear.

We are pleased to report that eventually Home Affairs were able to track Di’s visa application. At present it is still getting processed but she has a temporary one until it comes through. There is always a drama when working with the Home Affairs office however we have been blessed with knowing someone high up in the office. They have been in instrumental in helping with the tracking process and we are so grateful.

This month Di finally managed to get rid of a nasty cough that she got while in Joberg. After 2 visits to the doctor and a second dose of anti biotics it moved on. Sal was also down with it for about a week. As you all know Man Flu is nearly always fatal so we are grateful he survived lol

With the current earthquake devastation in Christchurch New Zealand we have been seeking television coverage as much as possible. It has been difficult for Di to watch but we are glad to report all her family is safe but our hearts and prayers go out to all those affected.

Sal took on the role of undertaker this month. Sadly the partner of a lady who is related to Jabulani died .Before his death he had been suffering from mental illness.
Sal was asked to retrieve the body from Vryheid as our new bakkie enables us to do so. Jabulani and Sal were able to minister to the family practically and also share the gospel.
Several days after the funeral, we were able to help take Popi to her partners former employee so she could claim for UIF. This meant long distance travelling and several visits to the labour dept. Most people find it so difficult and costly to keep going back and forth with taxi fees that they forfeit the money that is rightfully theirs. The government set up the scheme which is a legal requirement so all employees could be guaranteed a sum of money when their employment stopped. It was designed to help with living costs until further employment could be found in the future.
What we are praising the Lord for after this time Jabulani continued to share with Popi and Tholakele about the Lord they then surrendered there lives to the Lord. Both have been coming along on Sunday with Jabulani to church. There is much rejoicing in heaven and on earth.
Jabulani is walking strongly with the Lord. He goes out with Sal every Thursday afternoon to evangelize in his local area. He reminds us a lot of Sam (Lorraine’s late husband) he has a great love for the Lord and a smile that lights up his entire face.

This month we have also visited the Mtshali kraal after hearing that Thembi the woman we had been assisting with visits to the clinic and hospital for her ARV medication for HIV had died in the early month of Jan. Sadly many people think once they are taking there meds and starting to feel better they can stop taking them. We suspect this may have happened with Thembi. We have tired to explain to her Gogo again about the virus and how it works but sadly she doesn’t want to know even after losing 4 children to Aids.

There is a small boy around the age of 7 at the kraal who has TB. Di has been pleading with Gogo to get him tested. This is something that only she can do. The clinic requires she must go with her ID and give her permission to test the child. As you can imagine this is very distressing to watch. We continue to visit and keep an eye on the boy. Please pray with us.

Over the month we had the privilege of having 4 visitors from George and Springs with us for a couple of days. We meet on the Friday afternoon for a few hours in Vryheid then Sal returned on the Saturday to bring them to us. While Di was preparing food Sal took the guys on tour to see the area and visit Jabulani and Mr Khumalo, Celine at kids club and others. They had very kindly bought food parcels and boxes with New Testament Zulu and English bibles. A great day was had by all. It was finished of with a brie at Jonny and Kim’s home before they headed back to Vryheid for the night to return back home the next day.

We give thanks to the Lord for the marriage of Sonia and Tony this month. We pray the Lord will knit them together and use them both in the ministry He has for them.

Sal managed about 2 soccer practiced this month. When he did go the team was thrilled to receive soccer shirts, compliments of Allen Wells. Thanks Allen.

We have returned to sharing at the Care bear pre-school and the Louwsburg woman’s craft meeting. Asimbonge the small 2 year old who lives at the kraal, the child of Babhekile who is (Phumulani’s niece) has his own personal pre-school. Di is teaching him 3 mornings a week when possible. His English is coming along well and he loves helping Di with the daily chores.

The Louwsburg bible study continues to meet on the Tuesday. We have welcomed another lady from the Louwsburg area into the group. Due to the numbers growing we are in prayer about the future direction of the group and how the Lord would have us proceed.

We ask for your prayers for Phumulani and Thabi as they continue to make plans for there wedding in May. They have had pressure from their families to follow ancestor worship. We pray with them that they will honour there heavenly Father and stand.

Many thanks for all your emails, prayers and support.
The Lord bless you and keep you.

Shalom Aleichem baShem Yeshua, Salvi and Di

1 JOHN part 6

1 John 4:7-21

In the last session we looked at the first 6 verses to chapter 4 and we discussed the issue of Doctrine. As we said in the last session, doctrine comes before love. They are both important but our doctrine actually provides a framework for our love. We cannot have God’s love if we refuse God’s doctrine and like wise if we do not have God’s love it is an indicator of our lack of belief in God’s doctrine. Now this is an area that is controversial in Christian circles in areas of discernment and confrontation of sin. In fact there are prominent Christian leaders such as Robert Schuller and others into building ‘self esteem’ with Christian psychology that would say that to tell someone that they are a sinner is unloving and unchristian. On the other hand there are people who act like love does not matter, only truth matters. The truth is that we do not understand love so our understanding of love has to grow. This is the question that faces us in this chapter. What does it mean to love? There are many definitions of love. There is the love of the Beatles, ‘All you need is love’, where love makes everything easy and is a feeling that enables you do all kinds of things. There is the love of the hormonal love crazed guy who tells his sweet heart, ‘I love you’ but as Bill Randles says, what he is really saying is ‘I love me and I want you’. There is the love of the husband who has been married 50 years and when asked by his wife, ‘Do you love me?’ he says, ‘Dear, I told you that I loved you when I married you and when I change my mind I will let you know!’ What does it mean to love?

Let us read verses 7 – 21.

In verses 7 – 8 John compels us to do something. We are to love. And John is not saying that we just love anyone but that we should primarily love one another, i.e. other believers. You see the Gnostics denied the truth of God in their teaching and they denied the love of God in their living. But John says that if we do not love we do not know God because God is love. Now the question here is; what is love? For some people in the west, love means to keep your nose out of your neighbours’ affairs and to leave them alone in terms of whatever vices or life style they choose to live. If we translate that into the church it means that if someone follows Benny Hinn, or Paul Yongi Cho, we should not take the opportunity presented to tell them it is wrong and offend them. They say that we should just love them. But this is not the biblical view of love. Remember the story that we have spoken of before. The apostle John was in the public baths and the Gnostic heretic Cerinthus entered. John got up and said, ‘Let us get out of here, let even the bath house fall down, for Cerinthus the enemy of the truth is here!’ John did not mince his words. What about Jesus when he spoke harshly against the Pharisees and Scribes that opposed the truth? You see 1 John 4: 8 says, God is love. It does not say that love is God. As a Baptist preacher once said, ‘Love does not define who God is, God defines what love is.’ You see when we had the Heartlines program in South Africa in the year 2006 churches fell for a total lie and that lie is this: Heartlines claimed it was “Based on the premise that South Africans – no matter what their race, colour or creed, share many of the same core values, the MMP aims to use multi media to create debate about, and reinforce these core values, through a variety of projects.”
And so many churches, both Christian churches such as Baptist churches and evangelical churches and also heretical movements such as Rhema and the Zionist Christian Churches fell for the lie that they all share the same core values. But the Truth is that we do not share the same core values because the ‘values’ and ‘morals’ of the Christian believer are contextually bound up in the Truth of scripture. Just look at the area of forgiveness. The world teaches, and in deed Heartlines taught, that forgiveness is free. But the bible teaches differently. The bible teaches that forgiveness costs a lot. It cost God His only son to pay for the price for our sin because without blood there is no remission of sin. Someone had to be punished in our place so that we could be forgiven. Just as we can not approach the issue of forgiveness from a worldly perspective, so it is with love. We cannot approach the subject of love with our own ideas of what we think love should be.

Firstly, from verse 7 we see that our love is a response to our being loved. He says ‘Beloved, let us love’. We will see how we have been loved shortly. But love is not something of our own initiative but something that God has given us. And this love is to be directed to other believers. If we love with our own definition of love then we are not really loving our brothers and sisters in Christ. John says that love is from God. If the love that John was talking about was just a matter of charity or doing nice things for people then we would have to say that many Buddhists, many Roman Catholics and many atheists are saved because John says that everyone who loves in born of God and knows God. This is obviously not the case. We are only truly loving when we are doing what God’s word says. As Jesus said in John 14: 21, ‘He who has my commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me.’ Naturally we are selfish and self loving people. We want to feel good about ourselves and because of our fallen nature our love is fallen too. The only way to truly love someone is to obey the Lord. God loves us and therefore we are to follow that example and love one another. As He has washed our feet, we are to wash one another’s feet.

But secondly from verse 8 we read that love is an imperative. It is not right to say that I do not care about my brothers and sisters. In fact John is harsh and uncompromising about the issue going so far as to say that if we do not love then we do not know God because God is love. So what does it mean to love? How do we love?

If we look at verses 9 – 11, John teaches us a little of what it really means to love. Firstly love is something that is demonstrated and not just something said. When God loved us, He did not turn round and merely say ‘I love you’, though he did say that in John 3: 16. But God’s love was something manifested in reality and demonstrated. And I add that it must be a love from the heart. 1 Peter 1: 22. Sometimes we can do things out of a pure sense of duty to justify ourselves before others. So that even though we give our body to be burned, or give up our comforts to feed the poor, we are doing it without it being from love. If someone was to point the finger to us and say, ‘You do not love me’ we would be able to justify ourselves and say, ‘Of course we loved you, look at what we have done for you’ and yet only we know that what we did for them was disingenuous and not from a heart of love and concern for that person. And yet to shirk away from real and active love towards other believers is not an option either. And this is an area where we really lack. There are always a million and one legitimate reasons why we should not demonstrate our love for those around us. These reasons could be; ‘the person will not appreciate it anyway.’ ‘The person does not want to be bothered.’ At times our excuses are just a mask for our pride. We do not want to love when that love will be rejected or taken for granted. But Jesus’ love that was demonstrated on the cross was something that was not appreciated, was not something that we sought for or asked for. When you give the message of the cross to some people they claim that Jesus was stupid for dying on a cross because they never asked Him to do it. But Jesus did it anyway because it was God the Father’s will for Him to do it.

Secondly love is not about what we have done but about what God has done. To love means that we have to respond to God’s love. We recognize that we do not have the capacity to truly love ourselves. When John speaks of love he is not referring to acts of kindness or charity, He is speaking of something that God has done for us. Our love is a response to God’s love on the cross. When love is something we initiate it is not love anymore. Love is a gift that we must receive and it is a fruit of the Holy Spirit. We should remember that the next time we look at 1 Corinthians 13 and compare it to the unsaved who seem to be so nice and fit the criteria of that chapter. Remember that God is the God who sees the heart. No! Jesus’ love was pure and holy. Our love is mixed. Love is always determined by God’s standard.

Thirdly love does not wink at sin and pretend it does not exist. Let us read 1 Peter 4: 8. How many times has this been read with the implication that we should just forget our sins and just cover over them? As if restitution and apology and repentance are no longer required of us because love covers a multitude of sins? ‘Do not worry about my sins just love me.’ Now there should not be a desire in us to pin point each others sins and if we judge each other without taking heed to our own sins we will reap judgment for it. As Jesus said, it is not just a matter of taking the speck out of our brother’s eye but having the log taken out of our own so that we will know how to take the speck out of our brother’s eye. There has to be wisdom. But the verse does not mean we should act like our sins are not important. What does it mean to cover a multitude of sins? How does love cover sins? Look at the word cover in the Greek is ‘Kalumei’ in this passage. In the old testament the word for ‘to cover’ is ‘Kapar’ from which we get the word ‘kippur’ from ‘Yom kippur’ or the Kippor’ that Jewish men put on their heads at synagogue. It is a covering. But we translate ‘Yom Kippur’ not as the Day of covering but the Day of Atonement. The word for atonement and covering is one and the same in Hebrew. The Greek word is also found in James 5: 19 & 20. You see to cover or to hide sin does not mean to pretend as if it does not exist or it does not matter, it means to deal with the sin discreetly. To turn someone from the error of their way is to cover over that sin. No I am not saying that to blurt out people’s dark secrets for the world to hear is what we should do. Those unseemly parts of the body we must treat with more modesty. But doing nothing about sin is also wrong. As John says, Love does something about sin. Verse 10 again. Love caused Jesus to be a propitiation for our sins. This means that God’s anger and punishment against our sin was put on Jesus in our place. Love rolls up its sleeves and gets its hands dirty to bring about peace and reconciliation.

Fourthly, as we see in verse 11 God’s love is motivating. It is not something that we just receive or is just done for our sakes but it is something that motivates and causes us to love one another. You could say that God’s demonstrative love for us puts an onus on us to love each other. The word here is gratitude. To appreciate God’s love for us we have to realize what sinners we really were. So if God forgives us, who are we not to forgive each other? We must be able to forgive and to clearly communicate that to the party we have been offended by. It is pride that keeps us from saying, ‘I forgive you and I will not hold this against you any more’. Some times, great men of God have failed in this area. They will not hold out forgiveness. But we must forgive and tell people that we forgive them. This is what fellowshipping in Christ means, to partake of His nature and His example. As Jesus said in John 13: 15, “For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you.” The context to this statement is the washing of the disciples’ feet. What has this to do with love? The whole act is founded upon the context of love as John shows us in verse 1. Having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end. Washing each others feet is founded on the basis of love. That is why following Jesus commandments is the way to love each other. We do not naturally love with holy love so Jesus has to teach us what it means to love. His love for us motivates our love for each other. We should do as He has done to us. Nothing original or clever, just copy the example that God has shown us.

From verses 12 – 21 John shows us the reality of God and His love in this world. It always takes faith to know God. I have an aunt who is an atheist. She says she does not believe in anything she cannot see. So how do we believe in this invisible God? Because He is objectively real and has stepped into our time and history but we also experience this subjectively too. Look at what John says in verse 12. No one has seen God at any time. How can you experience someone that you cannot see?

Firstly through loving one another we experience something of God. It is an assurance that God is living in us when we are brought to the place of truly loving with God’s love. When we are brought to that place then what was put into our hearts by faith is realized and brought to the place it was intended to be. The verse says His love has been perfected in us and the Greek word for perfected here is ‘Teleioo’ which means to complete, to accomplish or to consummate. What we receive by faith has to be realized and when we experience that in this life we experience God Himself.

Secondly through the Spirit God gives us. In Romans 8 we read that the Holy Spirit ministers to us by faith the reality of our future glory that has yet to be realized. Though we are waiting to become sons of God, the Holy Spirit ministers to us that we are children of God and with that we are heirs. This is because the Holy Spirit is eternal in nature. He is as much the ‘I am’ as the Father and the Son. He is here in this room now and at the same time He is there at the day of our glorification. God’s Spirit convicts us, leads us and reminds us of Jesus’ words. He does not draw attention to Himself but testifies of the Son and the Son in turn takes us to the Father.

But you cannot base what you believe on what you experience. There has to be an objective reality, outside of ourselves on which we can peg our faith and our experiences and the reality is this. God became flesh. As John says in verse 14. ‘We have seen and testify’. They were Gnostics who were having illusionary visions of some spirit claiming to be Christ. The Apostles on the other hand actually came into contact with Jesus Christ in observable outward reality. What I mean is that God entered our existence in such a real way that after He left, He left His foot print for the world to see. It is so real that we cannot change the fact of it. John had experienced that reality as he lived with Jesus for three and a half years. Again he does not do as the Gnostics did who would claim ‘I had a vision therefore you must listen to me’! Rather he appeals to his authority within a body. He does not say ‘I have seen and testify’, he says ‘we have seen and testify.’ It is so true that no one in the world seriously doubts the existence of Jesus. We know that Zeus, Dionysus, the Yoruban god Ogun, the Norse gods never existed and were just myths. But no one from the west have ever seriously denied the existence of Jesus. And this writer, John, and the other apostles knew Jesus personally.

From verses 17 – 19 finally, we have the results of God’s love. The result of having love in our community, in our personal lives and in our relationships with other believers is this; when we face God we need not face Him with fear. John goes so far to say that we may approach Him boldly, without shame. There is a full assurance of faith to be had and that faith is strengthened as God’s character is manifest in our lives. As He is so are we in this world. Now I believe that when I face God I will be in total awe and in humility because I will know that I will not be there on my own merits. I know that really it is Christ who deserves my crown but I may come boldly without fear; why? Because perfect love casts out fear because fear speaks of judgment and there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. To walk according to the Spirit is to walk in love because love is the principle fruit of the Spirit. This is the calling God has brought us here for. Are we willing to repent, to love as a response to God’s love for us? Will our love be something that is demonstrated, whether those who benefit realize it or not, or appreciate it or not? Is our love a love that will get its sleeves rolled up and its hands dirty to solve an issue without winking at sin? Will our love be born out of selfish motives or will it be genuine and from the heart? But it first starts with the recognition that we naturally do not have the capacity to love in the way God desires. Love has to be received as a gift and it will grow as we walk in obedience to the word. If we do this we will experience the benefits of knowing God’s presence in our lives and a confident assurance for when we shall meet Him face to face.

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