What is God's SONA?
Key Text: Daniel 2:21
So to address the proverbial elephant in the room; there was quite a lot of negativity in the country at the moment. Especially after the now infamous presidential SONA.
It seems to be the same old story; our government does or says something silly and the world descends into negative mania.
every comment you read seems to be the country is going to be another failed state; we are heading to become another Zimbabwe etc etc.
In response I want to start a series tonight that I want to call KnosiSikeleliAfrika.
NkosiSikelel' iAfrika was originally composed as a hymn in 1897 by Enoch Sontonga, a teacher at a Methodist mission school near Johannesburg.
the original hymn was translated as such:
Lord, bless Africa
May her horn rise high up
Hear Thou our prayers
And bless us.
Descend, O Spirit
Descend, O Holy Spirit
I want to address the reality over the next few weeks that God is indeed still at work in Africa; and is still at work in south Africa; So the question will be not what is God doing about the problems in South Africa; rather are we stuck into what God is doing in South Africa.
Tonight I want to address “what is God's State of the Nation Address.”
If God would stand and address us as a nation what would He say?
In all honesty as a human I could not even begin to tell you what God would say as an address to the nation (I simply could never get to the purity of thought etc to be able to do that; I would be too subjectedto my own sinful thought and desires to hope to know what is on God's heart. I think there are things that absolutely break his heart that I don’t even consider because I am a sinful man); I do know, however, He would not laugh!
But in saying that I do know somethings that God would address (because His Word reveals that these are things that He does say). I want to say for the get go, God does have his eye on this nation and does have its state on His heart! God is concerned for the people of this nation; but not in a way that you and I might think.
But what does that mean to you and me?
Well firstly and most importantly this needs to be said:
God is still in control!
I do know that if God was to address this nation He would say absolutely that "I am in control."
You see The will of God permeates and supersedes every aspect of life.
It is God’s will that takes precedence over everything and everyone (Matthew 6:33)(Seek frist the Kingdom of God).
God’s plans and purposes are fixed, and His will is unable to be challenge. What He has purposed, He will bring to pass, and no government can stand against His will (Daniel 4:34-35)(He does as he pleases with the powers of heaven and the peoples of the earth...)
In fact, it is God who “sets up kings and deposes them” (Daniel 2:21) because “the Most High is sovereign over the kingdoms of men and gives them to anyone he wishes” (Daniel 4:17).
A clear understanding of this truth will help us to see that politics is merely a method God uses to accomplish His will.
Even though evil men abuse their political power, meaning it for evil, God means it for good, working “all things together for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).
I remember a conversation with someone who was aggressively against the idea of the God of scripture. who said your idea of God violates history, he continued by saying if God is in control what was he doing in the World Wars? Where is He when men are playing their political games at the cost of innocent lives.
My response was simply to say we must never confuse the sinful games of men and the overriding control of God.
We must know in spite of men's sinfulness God was at work during the world wars; C.S. Lewis was given free reign on radio to present a compelling argument for Christianity to the whole of England. Great theologians like Dietrich Bonhoeffer stood up against the Nazi party and help spread the Gospel in Nazi Germany. Men were playing politics but God was at work in all things and the Gospel went out and eternities were changed.
Men play their political games and men cause wars but in spite that God is still at work in the world.
the second truth that must be said would be
God alone can save
why would I say this in light of a SONA?
Because I fear as Christians we spend too much time in politics (which is not the calling of God on our lives)
We must grasp the fact that our government cannot save us! Only God can.
We never read in the New Testament of Jesus or any of the apostles expending any time or energy schooling believers on how to reform the pagan world of its idolatrous, immoral, and corrupt practices via the government.
The apostles never called for believers to demonstrate civil disobedience to protest the Roman Empire's unjust laws or brutal schemes (etols might be a sore issue in light of that.)
Instead, the apostles commanded the first-century Christians, as well as us today, to proclaim the gospel and live lives that give clear evidence to the gospel’s transforming power.
This is what God would be addressing because this is what matters to God; is the gospel going out because it is only the Gospel of Jesus Christ that can truly transform lives, and it is the Gospel of Jesus Christ that is the true need of all mankind.
You might think South Africa needs better leaders (which it might) but it's real need; its desperate need it salvation; for what does a well run country mean to its people when their destiny is an eternity in hell!
I fear as we protest too much and get sucked into the negativity of everything too easily we get suckered into believing that the things that we put so much anguish into actually matter.
and unfortunately in the light of eternity they simply do not!
I often find it that when I start focusing too much on the things of this world that I loose focus on what truly matters; that there is a God who is calling men to Himself through Salvation by faith in Jesus Christ! Surely everything else is second to that!
As Jesus says; Seek FIRST the Kingdom of God and everything else will be added unto you. We make it about seeking everything else and hoping the kingdom of God will be added to that; and that is simply not the reality.
For you and I our concern should be God's concern; a nation of people who do not know Him and therefore cannot inherit eternal life!
Joel 3:14 says;
"Let the nations be called to arms. Let them march to the valley of Jehoshaphat. There I, the LORD, will sit to pronounce judgment on them all."
talking about the end of the age. At the end all this will come to an end and what will be the only thing that matters.
So in light of this how should we respond:
Well firstly we need to get some perspective:
a.) This is not about you! It's about what God is doing
what do I mean by this? I mean life; it does not revolve around your wants and desires; it is about Jesus and what He is doing in the world; Col 3:16 reminds us
"..for through him God created everything in the heavenly realms and on earth. He made the things we can see and the things we can't see--such as thrones, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities in the unseen world. Everything was created through him and for him."
This world does not revolve around you; we don’t like hearing that; because we strangely believe that it does.
It revolves around Christ; and the only thing that matters at the end of the day is Him; this perspective will help us tolerate a little more.
Does this mean that we wont get upset when things go against us; of course not, but it will help us to centre our thought so that when we do stand up and fight we are fighting for what truly matters!
b.) Be a force for change rather than a force for complaint (more on this next week)
Now I want to address this point more fully and so I will next week when we will speak about“Being a generation of change rather than a generations that runs”
But for tonight; I want to share the fact that most of you here feel rather disempowered when it comes to your country. I often hear people say; what can I do? and this apathy grows into anger and that anger grows into hatred and that hatred develops into sin!
The reality is if we focus on what God is doing we have the only power that matters; and we will change the only thing that matters; we can be involved in what God is doing in the lives of people!
This leads to hope! I hope that as the Christian's we can be a people of hope (not false hope) but real hope; God is still at work in this land! and I am stoked to be a part of that.
Every time Fanie comes back and reports what is happening in Africa I am grateful that God has called me here!
I get to be a part of what God is doing in Africa and nothing else can be more important!
which leads me to
c.) Look for the opportunity not the cost!
Most of our complaints and negativity come at the inconvenience that is caused because of incompetence etc.
And I must agree it's annoying; but we get by don’t we? And what is greater is that we live in a land where the Gospel is still willing to be heard! where churches are standing together on things that truly matter!
We live in a land we there is great need, and the great thing about great need is the fact that we have a great God who can meet men in their need!
I want you to realise that this is a terrifying and amazing time to be alive! But God is at work!
What is God's SONA "I am Still at work!" there is no greater message to hear or believe!
Our response to this is to in what God is doing and trust Him for the rest. We live in exciting times where the power of God is is visible let us connect in with that and leave behind the negativity around us and engage our world with the power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ… The only power that matters.
So our leader and King say I am at work… Can I ask you tonight are you a part of that work?