Daily Devotions by C. H. Spurgeon

C. H. Spurgeon March 8

Morning

“We must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.”
– Act 14:22

22  Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God. ~ Act 14:22

God’s people have their trials. It was never designed by God, when he chose his people, that they should be an untried people. They were chosen in the furnace of affliction; they were never chosen to worldly peace and earthly joy. Freedom from sickness and the pains of mortality was never promised them; but when their Lord drew up the charter of privileges, he included chastisements amongst the things to which they should inevitably be heirs. Trials are a part of our lot; they were predestinated for us in Christ’s last legacy. So surely as the stars are fashioned by his hands, and their orbits fixed by him, so surely are our trials allotted to us: he has ordained their season and their place, their intensity and the effect they shall have upon us. Good men must never expect to escape troubles; if they do, they will be disappointed, for none of their predecessors have been without them. Mark the patience of Job; remember Abraham, for he had his trials, and by his faith under them, he became the “Father of the faithful.” Note well the biographies of all the patriarchs, prophets, apostles, and martyrs, and you shall discover none of those whom God made vessels of mercy, who were not made to pass through the fire of affliction. It is ordained of old that the cross of trouble should be engraved on every vessel of mercy, as the royal mark whereby the King’s vessels of honour are distinguished. But although tribulation is thus the path of God’s children, they have the comfort of knowing that their Master has traversed it before them; they have his presence and sympathy to cheer them, his grace to support them, and his example to teach them how to endure; and when they reach “the kingdom,” it will more than make amends for the “much tribulation” through which they passed to enter it.

Evening

“She called his name Benoni (son of sorrow), but his father called him Benjamin (son of my right hand).”
– Gen 35:18

18  And it came to pass, as her soul was in departing, (for she died) that she called his name Benoni: but his father called him Benjamin. ~ Genesis 35:18

To every matter there is a bright as well as a dark side. Rachel was overwhelmed with the sorrow of her own travail and death; Jacob, though weeping the mother’s loss, could see the mercy of the child’s birth. It is well for us if, while the flesh mourns over trials, our faith triumphs in divine faithfulness. Samson’s lion yielded honey, and so will our adversities, if rightly considered. The stormy sea feeds multitudes with its fishes; the wild wood blooms with beauteous florets; the stormy wind sweeps away the pestilence, and the biting frost loosens the soil. Dark clouds distil bright drops, and black earth grows gay flowers. A vein of good is to be found in every mine of evil. Sad hearts have peculiar skill in discovering the most disadvantageous point of view from which to gaze upon a trial; if there were only one slough in the world, they would soon be up to their necks in it, and if there were only one lion in the desert they would hear it roar. About us all there is a tinge of this wretched folly, and we are apt, at times, like Jacob, to cry, “All these things are against me.” Faith’s way of walking is to cast all care upon the Lord, and then to anticipate good results from the worst calamities. Like Gideon’s men, she does not fret over the broken pitcher, but rejoices that the lamp blazes forth the more. Out of the rough oyster-shell of difficulty she extracts the rare pearl of honour, and from the deep ocean-caves of distress she uplifts the priceless coral of experience. When her flood of prosperity ebbs, she finds treasures hid in the sands; and when her sun of delight goes down, she turns her telescope of hope to the starry promises of heaven. When death itself appears, faith points to the light of resurrection beyond the grave, thus making our dying Benoni to be our living Benjamin.

Soli Deo Gloria

Daily Devotions by C. H. Spurgeon

C. H. Spurgeon February 26

Morning

“Salvation is of the Lord.”
– Jon 2:9

9  But I will sacrifice unto thee with the voice of thanksgiving; I will pay that that I have vowed. Salvation is of the LORD. ~ Jonah 2:9

Salvation is the work of God. It is he alone who quickens the soul “dead in trespasses and sins,” and it is he also who maintains the soul in its spiritual life. He is both “Alpha and Omega.” “Salvation is of the Lord.” If I am prayerful, God makes me prayerful; if I have graces, they are God’s gifts to me; if I hold on in a consistent life, it is because he upholds me with his hand. I do nothing whatever towards my own preservation, except what God himself first does in me. Whatever I have, all my goodness is of the Lord alone. Wherein I sin, that is my own; but wherein I act rightly, that is of God, wholly and completely. If I have repulsed a spiritual enemy, the Lord’s strength nerved my arm. Do I live before men a consecrated life? It is not I, but Christ who liveth in me. Am I sanctified? I did not cleanse myself: God’s Holy Spirit sanctifies me. Am I weaned from the world? I am weaned by God’s chastisements sanctified to my good. Do I grow in knowledge? The great Instructor teaches me. All my jewels were fashioned by heavenly art. I find in God all that I want; but I find in myself nothing but sin and misery. “He only is my rock and my salvation.” Do I feed on the Word? That Word would be no food for me unless the Lord made it food for my soul, and helped me to feed upon it. Do I live on the manna which comes down from heaven? What is that manna but Jesus Christ himself incarnate, whose body and whose blood I eat and drink? Am I continually receiving fresh increase of strength? Where do I gather my might? My help cometh from heaven’s hills: without Jesus I can do nothing. As a branch cannot bring forth fruit except it abide in the vine, no more can I, except I abide in him. What Jonah learned in the great deep, let me learn this morning in my closet: “Salvation is of the Lord.”

Evening

“Behold, if the leprosy have covered all his flesh, he shall pronounce him clean that hath the plague.”
– Lev 13:13

13  Then the priest shall consider: and, behold, if the leprosy have covered all his flesh, he shall pronounce him clean that hath the plague: it is all turned white: he is clean. ~ Leviticus 13:13

Strange enough this regulation appears, yet there was wisdom in it, for the throwing out of the disease proved that the constitution was sound. This evening it may be well for us to see the typical teaching of so singular a rule. We, too, are lepers, and may read the law of the leper as applicable to ourselves. When a man sees himself to be altogether lost and ruined, covered all over with the defilement of sin, and in no part free from pollution; when he disclaims all righteousness of his own, and pleads guilty before the Lord, then he is clean through the blood of Jesus, and the grace of God. Hidden, unfelt, unconfessed iniquity is the true leprosy; but when sin is seen and felt, it has received its deathblow, and the Lord looks with eyes of mercy upon the soul afflicted with it. Nothing is more deadly than self-righteousness, or more hopeful than contrition. We must confess that we are “nothing else but sin,” for no confession short of this will be the whole truth; and if the Holy Spirit be at work with us, convincing us of sin, there will be no difficulty about making such an acknowledgment -it will spring spontaneously from our lips. What comfort does the text afford to truly awakened sinners: the very circumstance which so grievously discouraged them is here turned into a sign and symptom of a hopeful state! Stripping comes before clothing; digging out the foundation is the first thing in building-and a thorough sense of sin is one of the earliest works of grace in the heart. O thou poor leprous sinner, utterly destitute of a sound spot, take heart from the text, and come as thou art to Jesus-

“For let our debts be what they may, however great or small,
As soon as we have nought to pay, our Lord forgives us all.
‘Tis perfect poverty alone that sets the soul at large:
While we can call one mite our own, we have no full discharge.

Soli Deo Gloria

Daily Devotions by C. H. Spurgeon

C. H. Spurgeon February 14

Morning

“And his allowance was a continual allowance given him of the king, a daily rate for every day, all the days of his life.”
– 2Ki 25:30

30  And his allowance was a continual allowance given him of the king, a daily rate for every day, all the days of his life. ~ 2 Kings 25:30 

Jehoiachin was not sent away from the king’s palace with a store to last him for months, but his provision was given him as a daily pension. Herein he well pictures the happy position of all the Lord’s people. A daily portion is all that a man really wants. We do not need tomorrow’s supplies; that day has not yet dawned, and its wants are as yet unborn. The thirst which we may suffer in the month of June does not need to be quenched in February, for we do not feel it yet; if we have enough for each day as the days arrive we shall never know want. Sufficient for the day is all that we can enjoy. We cannot eat or drink or wear more than the day’s supply of food and raiment; the surplus gives us the care of storing it, and the anxiety of watching against a thief. One staff aids a traveller, but a bundle of staves is a heavy burden. Enough is not only as good as a feast, but is all that the greatest glutton can truly enjoy. This is all that we should expect; a craving for more than this is ungrateful. When our Father does not give us more, we should be content with his daily allowance. Jehoiachin’s case is ours, we have a sure portion, a portion given us of the king, a gracious portion, and a perpetual portion. Here is surely ground for thankfulness.

Beloved Christian reader, in matters of grace you need a daily supply. You have no store of strength. Day by day must you seek help from above. It is a very sweet assurance that a daily portion is provided for you. In the word, through the ministry, by meditation, in prayer, and waiting upon God you shall receive renewed strength. In Jesus all needful things are laid up for you. Then enjoy your continual allowance. Never go hungry while the daily bread of grace is on the table of mercy.

Evening

“She was healed immediately.”
– Luk 8:47

47  And when the woman saw that she was not hid, she came trembling, and falling down before him, she declared unto him before all the people for what cause she had touched him, and how she was healed immediately. ~ Luke 8:47

One of the most touching and teaching of the Saviour’s miracles is before us to-night. The woman was very ignorant. She imagined that virtue came out of Christ by a law of necessity, without his knowledge or direct will. Moreover, she was a stranger to the generosity of Jesus’ character, or she would not have gone behind to steal the cure which he was so ready to bestow. Misery should always place itself right in the face of mercy. Had she known the love of Jesus’ heart, she would have said, “I have but to put myself where he can see me-his omniscience will teach him my case, and his love at once will work my cure.” We admire her faith, but we marvel at her ignorance. After she had obtained the cure, she rejoiced with trembling: glad was she that the divine virtue had wrought a marvel in her; but she feared lest Christ should retract the blessing, and put a negative upon the grant of his grace: little did she comprehend the fulness of his love! We have not so clear a view of him as we could wish; we know not the heights and depths of his love; but we know of a surety that he is too good to withdraw from a trembling soul the gift which it has been able to obtain. But here is the marvel of it: little as was her knowledge, her faith, because it was real faith, saved her, and saved her at once. There was no tedious delay-faith’s miracle was instantaneous. If we have faith as a grain of mustard seed, salvation is our present and eternal possession. If in the list of the Lord’s children we are written as the feeblest of the family, yet, being heirs through faith, no power, human or devilish, can eject us from salvation. If we dare not lean our heads upon his bosom with John, yet if we can venture in the press behind him, and touch the hem of his garment, we are made whole. Courage, timid one! thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace. “Being justified by faith, we have peace with God.”

Soli Deo Gloria

The Day of The Vow

The Day of the Vow (a.k.a. The Day of the Covenant) was instituted on 16th December 1838 at the Battle of Blood River. Here is an article that appeared at this blog on 16 December 2011 titled 16th December The Day of the Vow.

THE DAY of THE COVENANT

By Dr. Peter Hammond

Sarel Cilliers statue To view this presentation with pictures as a PowerPoint on Slideshare, click here.

To listen to an audio presentation, as given at the Reformation Society, click here.

To view the video on our Vimeo page, as presented at the Reformation Society, click here.

An abbreviated translation of this message in Afrikaans is also available, click here.

9  Know therefore that the LORD thy God, he is God, the faithful God, which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love him and keep his commandments to a thousand generations; ~ Deuteronomy 7:9

The Battle of Blood River

For over a century and a half, throughout South Africa, 16 December has been observed as The Day of the Covenant. Marking the decisive Battle of Blood River, the Day of the Covenant has been recognised by many, not only as a victory for the Voortrekkers, but as a triumph for Western civilization and Christianity in Africa.

Spiritual Warfare

It should be noted that before the Battle of Blood River, 16 December 1838, there were no known Christians amongst the Zulu nation. Despite the dedicated spiritual labours of British and American missionaries amongst the Zulus for 18 years previously, so great was the hold of superstition, the reign of terror of the Zulu kings, and fear of the witchdoctors, that no Zulus were known to have responded to the preaching of the Gospel before the defeat of Dingaan’s Impis at Blood River.

Christianity vs. Witchcraft

One could similarly note that despite the strenuous labours of famous British missionary Robert Moffatt, and others, amongst the Matabele, in what became Rhodesia, there were no baptised Matabele converts to Christianity before the defeat of Lobengula’s Impis in the Matabele War of 1893. 

The Spiritual Liberation of the Zulu

Observing the significance of The Day of the Covenant is not in any sense anti-Zulu. I have many precious friends amongst the Zulu. Having read extensively on their history, and visited many of the strategic battle sites and museums in Zululand, I have to regard the Covenant made by the Boers, and The Battle of Blood River, as the beginning of the spiritual liberation of Zululand. Only after The Battle of Blood River did hundreds, and then thousands, of Zulus come to Christ. 

Love in Action

It needs to be noted that after their victory over Dingaan’s forces the Afrikaans Christians built a magnificent mission station and church at Mgundgundlovu (Dingaanstad) within sight of the massacre of the Trek leader Piet Retief and his 100 followers who were brutally tortured and massacred. The Afrikaans missionaries built a school for the blind, an evangelists training college, and many other expressions of Christian love for their former enemies. 

Zululand for Christ

After the final defeat of the Zulu military, in the Anglo-Zulu War of 1879, Zulus came to Christ by the hundreds of thousands. Today there are millions of Zulu Christians. 

Vikings for Christ

As a descendant of the Vikings, I look to our former enemy, King Alfred the Great, as one of my Spiritual forefathers. Although the original Hammonds would have been among the Viking invaders of England, I recognise that the conversion and discipling of the once brutal Vikings began with the military victory of King Alfred the Great and his Saxon armies over the Vikings. Similarly, I believe that our Zulu brothers and sisters in Christ can rejoice in the Spiritual liberation of the Zulu nation that began with the original Day of the Covenant.

Shaka and the Mfekane

Shaka had built the Zulu into a great warlike nation. He unleashed waves of destruction impi ebomvu (total war) that left enormous stretches of country uninhabited by people. The Mfekane unleashed by Shaka had led to the annihilation of literally hundreds of tribes. Known as "the Black Napoleon", Shaka had soaked Southern Africa in blood, devastating countless kraals, particularly between 1820 and 1824. Shaka was described as tall, handsome and a military genius. He moulded the previously insignificant Zulu tribe into a mighty war machine. He introduced new systems of fighting, abandoning the long throwing spears, and introducing the far more lethal short handled broad-bladed assegai. He compelled his men to throw away their sandals and to harden their feet. His regiments (Impis) would be compelled to dance on thorns and if anyone showed pain they were immediately executed. Instead of standing at a distance singing, and taunting the enemy, and ineffectually throwing their spears, Shaka trained his men to fight as a cohesive unit, in the shape of cattle horns. The most experienced troops were at the head to gore, and the younger warriors were put on the horns to encircle the enemy. The Zulu were trained to rush straight in for the kill. They overwhelmed every tribe they came across and annihilated them. Many of the young women and young boys from these defeated tribes were amalgamated into the Zulu tribe, but the older people and warriors were exterminated.

Mzilikazi’s Path of Blood

One of Shaka’s most effective generals, Mzilikazi, was a dynamic, and ambitious, man. (Mzilikazi was born in 1790, making him slightly the junior of Shaka who was born in 1787.) Mzilikazi was 34 when he fled Zululand with his Impi and founded Matebele nation. To avoid retribution at the hands of his king, Shaka, Mzilikazi led his men on a devastating path of blood through the Transvaal, the Orange Free State and Botswana, later settling in what became Rhodesia. Mzilikazi spared the most promising of the vanquished tribes to be incorporated into his army and tribe. He moulded his heterogeneous horde into a great nation using the best of Zulu military tactics. His path through the interior of Southern Africa was as devastating as a veld fire, as he slaughtered, captured, plundered and left destruction in his wake. Until his defeat at the hands of the Boers at Vegkop, the Matabele were operating out of Western Transvaal. Their defeat at the hands of Hendrik Potgieter’s trekkers led Mzilikazi’s men to flee across the Limpopo River to settle in Matabeleland (in what later became Rhodesia, and ultimately Zimbabwe).

Dingaan’s Treachery

On 22 September 1828, Shaka, the founder and King of the Zulus, was stabbed to death by his half-brothers, Princes Dingaan and Mhlangana. Missionaries and English traders who visited Zululand described Dingaan as "astute", "sly", "cruel", "temperamental", "brutal", "charming", "diplomatic" and "treacherous". Shortly after murdering his half-brother, Dingaan quickly arranged the assassination of his co-conspirator Mhlangana, and then systematically executed all aristocratic rivals and anyone else who could possibly be a danger to him, including the commander-in-chief of Shaka’s army, Ndlaka, who he had strangled.

Corrupt and Cruel

Dingaan was about 30 years old when he seized power. He began to build himself a new capital in Mgungundlovu (the place of the great elephant). Dingaan quickly accumulated over 300 wives and concubines. Traders and missionaries described Dingaan’s appetite as "voracious, sexually and otherwise" and he soon became extremely obese. Unlike his brother Shaka, Dingaan preferred to stay at his palace. He was not a warrior like Shaka. Instead of leading military campaigns, he sent out his Impis and remained at Mgungundlovu surrounded by a continual programme of feasting and dancing.

The Gullibility of Piet Retief

When the Trek leader Piet Retief came to Dingaan to negotiate the right for the Voortrekkers to settle in the depopulated territory between the Tugela and the Bushmans River (present day Natal) he was warned by the missionaries that one of the principle objectives of Shaka had been to totally depopulate all the surrounding territory as far as his soldiers could penetrate so that his followers, over whom he held such despotic sway, might have no asylum or refuge if they attempted to escape his murderous rule. Retief was also warned that the defeat of the renegade Zulu general Mzilikazi at the hands of the Boers in the Transvaal had sent shockwaves through Zululand. As Dingaan’s military expeditions against Mzilikazi had all been indecisive, he feared the power of the Boers. Yet, Piet Retief seemed supremely self-confident and brushed aside every warning about the danger of the dictator with whom he was attempting to negotiate.

Mgundgundlovu

Dingaan’s capital, Mgungundlovu, was described as an efficient military camp entirely fenced in with thorn bushes. The king’s quarters dominated the high ground, overlooking the two thousand huts to the sides of the main entrance and open arena. Each hut accommodated twenty warriors. Within the lines of the military huts were four strongly fenced in cattle kraals. Dingaan’s own quarters consisted of hundreds of beehive huts including huts for his enormous harem, and his counsel house and reception hall, both some 20 feet in height, with the roof supported by 22 pillars entirely covered in bead work. The floors were made of mud and dung, polished with blood and fat until they shone like a mirror. Mgungundlovu as a whole was arranged in ovals, circles and semi-circles, with thousands of beehive huts appearing like beads in a necklace. Facing the capital, on the other side of the stream below was the hill of execution (KwaMatiwane).

In the Presence of Dingaan

Dingaan required his subjects to throw themselves to the ground and crawl forward in the dust for about two hundred metres before coming to a halt a good distance from his throne. Piet Retief and the other white visitors refused to succumb to such an indignity, and stood in the presence of the king. They noted that Dingaan was entirely hairless. He was shaved every day and was described as having an abhorrence of human hair. He wore many ornaments on his head and his body was rubbed daily with fat to make him appear like polished ebony.

Warnings from the Missionaries

Acting as the king’s secretary was Rev. Francis Owen of the Church Missionary Society. Most of what we know concerning the meetings of Piet Retief with Dingaan come from Owen’s diary. Piet Retief first reached Mgundgundlovu on 5 November 1837. The king entertained him with war dances by thousands of his warriors. Owen warned him of the countless cruelties, tortures and executions that he had been forced to witness. However, Piet Retief seemed most impressed with the "sincerity", "graciousness", "intelligence", and "goodwill" of Dingaan.

After seeking to impress Retief for two days with parades of his regiments and herds, Dingaan informed Retief that he was willing to grant the Trekkers the territory his armies had depopulated across the Tugela, and around Port Natal – on condition that Piet Retief should return the cattle, which had been taken by Sikonyela and his Batlokoa people. As they had come on horseback and dressed in clothes, Sikonyela’s people had been assumed to be Boers. To prove that the trekkers were not in any way responsible for Sikonyela’s cattle raid, he required them to deal with this chief.

The CMS missionary, Francis Owen, warned Piet Retief that he was wasting his time, for Dingaan was utterly inconsistent and had already granted the desired territory to the English government through John Gardiner. However, Piet Retief regarded the expedition against Sikonyela as necessary for the vindication of their honour. Owen questioned how a man of Retief’s intelligence could attach any value to any promise made by a tyrant like Dingaan.

When Piet Retief later gave an enthusiastic account of the splendours of Dingaan, his kindness and boundless hospitality, American missionary Rev. George Champion declared: "I have known Dingaan for two years Mr Retief, and I know full well what a dangerous character he is. I can only see disaster should you visit him again." Rev. Kirkwood also warned Retief of Dingaan’s intention to have him put to death as "a wizard." But Retief brushed all their warnings aside declaring: "Have no apprehension on my account!"

Sikonyela and the Batlokoa

Chief Sikonyela was described as a man who always caused trouble. He was the son of a famous warrior queen Ma Ntatisa. He had done his share of devastating the country along the Caledon River. The remnants of the devastated tribes he moulded into the Batlokoa. Cattle raids were part of the African way of life and both Sikonyela and many of the trekkers questioned Retief’s actions as contrary to his own code of behaviour by interfering in inter-tribal affairs. However, Retief felt himself justified in taking action, if these people had indeed posed as Boers. Retief managed to avoid bloodshed by using a pair of handcuffs to restrain Sikonyela and then declaring that he was "under arrest" and they would only take the handcuffs off if he returned the stolen cattle. Sikonyela was kept prisoner for three days while the seven hundred cattle were rounded up and identified by the accompanying Zulus.

Failing to Heed Advice

A passing trader warned Piet Retief of Dingaan’s planned treachery against him upon his return. Fellow trek leader Gert Maritz repeatedly warned Piet Retief not to return to Dingaan declaring: “I do not trust Dingaan!” But, every attempt to dissuade Piet Retief was brushed aside. Maritz reminded him of the murder of Anders Stockenstrom in 1811 while having friendly talks with a band of Xhosas.

Gullible’s Travels

Piet Retief, with almost a hundred followers, arrived at Mgundgundlovu on Saturday 3 February. He was rebuked by Dingaan for having released Sikonyela unharmed. Dingaan was shocked that Retief had not executed him, or at least brought him to the Zulu capital for execution.

He then requested the Boers to make a demonstration of their war dances on their horses. The trekkers staged an impromptu charge on horseback in the royal arena, making the air resound with the sound of their muskets. Dingaan and his subjects had never seen anything like it and were plainly shocked at the speed and agility of the Boers on horseback and the deafening sound of their muskets. The missionary warned Retief that his display was entrenching the fear of Dingaan that he was a wizard and a threat that must be eradicated.

However, when Dingaan agreed to sign the document drawn up by Retief to cede the territory between the Tugela and Umzimvubu Rivers to the trekkers, Retief felt that all of his trust in the word of Dingaan was fulfilled. This document was placed in his leather briefcase with great relief.

However, the CMS missionary, Rev. Owen, was most disturbed that Retief and his followers had missed the Sunday morning church service on 4 February, for these formalities for the king. Retief later said that he had forgotten what day of the week it was.
On Monday the trekkers were treated to an endless display of war dances and military manoeuvres by Dingaan’s Impis. Dingaan was described as "a master showman" with his entertainment the most spectacular ever seen in the sub-continent. Dingaan again asked for a display of the Boers war tactics on horseback. The Zulus sat stunned at the speed and perfect control of the men with their rifles on horseback.

Defenceless Before Dingaan

Dingane_-_'Bulalani_abathakathi'_-_1897 On Tuesday morning William Wood, a young English trader fluent in Zulu, who was visiting the Owens, warned Retief that "your entire party will be massacred before the day is out." As the Retief party struck camp and were preparing to leave, they were invited to a final farewell display. For this they were requested to leave their firearms, bandoleers and powder horns outside the gates of the kraal. Incredibly, they acceded to this demand. Leaving their firearms outside the kraal, they walked defenceless into the arena of Dingaan’s kraal. After ominous war dances which increased in volume and intensity, Dingaan stood up and shouted "Babulaleni abathakathi!" ("kill the wizards!").

Cold Blooded Murder

From across the stream on the opposite hillside, Francis Owen was reading the New Testament when a messenger rushed up to inform him that Dingaan had decided to kill the Boers but he was not to be concerned. Owen looked with horror as he saw an immense multitude, "about nine or ten Zulus to each Boer were dragging the helpless unarmed victims to the fatal spot" on the hill of execution. Many of the Boers were impaled on assegais, and they were all clubbed to death. Piet Retief’s young son was killed before his eyes. Amongst the dead was their interpreter, Thomas Halstead, the only Englishman of the party. The various missionaries and traders who had warned Piet Retief repeatedly questioned how such an intelligent and experienced man as Piet Retief could have been so thoroughly deceived, even mesmerized, by the tyrant Dingaan. Soon, the sky above the hill of execution was black with vultures. The heart and liver of Piet Retief was brought to Dingaan, but the rest of the corpses were left out in the open on the hill of execution to later be discovered along with Retief’s blood-stained leather case containing the signed treaty with Dingaan. It was almost ten years since Dingaan had murdered his half-brother Shaka to assume the chieftainship.

Massacre at Midnight

About noon on that fateful Tuesday, 6 February, Rev. Owen saw Dingaan send out a huge army in the direction from where the Boers had come. There was no doubt that even worse was to come. In the early hours of 17 February, ten thousand Zulu warriors attacked the sleeping Voortrekkers between the Bushman’s the Blaauwkrants Rivers. There was no moon that night and it was pitch dark. Trekkers awoke to the sounds of their dogs barking. Wave after wave of Zulu warriors were stabbing men, women and children, wiping out whole families.

Fighting for their Lives

The followers of Gert Maritz were more cautiously laagered and better prepared to defend themselves. However, the followers of Piet Retief were spread out and most vulnerable. Sarel Cilliers and Gert Maritz led charges to rescue fleeing trekkers. Women and children, even as young as ten years old, fought tenaciously, selling their lives dearly. Marthinus Oosthuizen charged through the mass of Zulus to a wagon for ammunition and then back again to re-supply the beleaguered Van Rensburgs surrounded on a hill.

Devastation

Fighting continue until the afternoon of the 17th when the Zulu army retreated, taking over 25,000 cattle, and many horses and sheep, with them. Many hundreds of the Zulu attackers had been killed in the fierce fighting. As the Voortrekkers began to count up their own dead, they grieved over the loss of 185 of their children murdered. Of the women 56 were dead – this included even grandmothers – many with multiple assegai wounds. The murdered men numbered 40. Incredibly, some women who had been horribly stabbed were found alive amongst the piles of dead. Johanna van der Merwe and Margarita Prinsloo had each survived despite 20 assegai wounds, and Klasina Le Roux with 17 stab wounds.

Weenen

As Gert Maritz organized a mass burial of the slain trekkers, the sky was full of circling vultures and the sounds of weeping could be heard throughout the area. The Boers later founded a town at the site of the massacre which was named Weenen (The Place of Weeping).

Ambushed at the Buffalo River

On 6 April a counter-attack by a Boer commander led by the two rival leaders Piet Uys and Andries Potgieter was ambushed across the Buffalo River at Italeni. A British expedition from Port Natal rushed to assist the beleaguered trekkers, but ten of the Commando were killed, including Piet Uys and his brave son Dirkie who kept fighting by his father’s side to the very end. As this commando retreated it became known as the Vlugcommando (the fleeing commando).

Disaster

It was the darkest time of despair for the Voortrekkers. Death, disaster and dissention seemed to doom their ambitious enterprise.

Andries Pretorius Comes from the Transvaal

With the arrival of Andries Pretorius from the Transvaal, there was fresh hope. The widow of Piet Retief declared of Andries Pretorius: "This man has been sent by God. He will help us obtain justice." Andries Pretorius was a dynamic pistol packing farmer from Graaf Reinet. He was described as a tall, imposing figure in a well cut suit, with a pistol and a cutlass at his belt. He also came with 60 Transvaal volunteers for the Wencommando that he intended to organize. At an assembly of the Volksraad, Pretorius was elected Commandant General.

The Wencommando

Within a couple of days, he was heading out with 464 men, and 64 wagons, to engage the Zulus. Pretorius adopted the motto Eendragt Maakt Magt (unity is strength). (These words were to become the motto of the Transvaal Republic.) All in the Wencommando (The Victory Commando) were lectured on discipline, Christian conduct, decency, integrity, compassion and courage. As God’s soldiers their conduct had to be of a high standard. The chaplain, Sarel Cilliers, who was widely respected as a man of God, and who had proved himself in battle at Vegkop, ensured strict religious observance with daily devotions and prayer times where the men were required to kneel.

On the move the 64 wagons travelled in four rows so as not to make the column too long for the vanguards and rear guards to protect from ambush. Every night their laager was drawn up, sentries posted, inspections held, and defensive drills practiced. Scouting patrols were sent out every day to ascertain the whereabouts of the Zulu army, and to identify any potential threats.

The Covenant

As the Tugela River was flood, the Wencommando crossed near Spioenkop. At Waschbank, on Sunday 9 December, Sarel Cilliers stood on a gun carriage before the men had who assembled for worship and he proposed a solemn vow: "My brethren and fellow countrymen, at this moment we stand before the Holy God of Heaven and earth to make a promise. If He will be with us and protect us and deliver the enemy into our hands so that we may triumph over him, that we may observe the day and the date as an anniversary in each year and a day of Thanksgiving like the Sabbath, in His honour; and that we shall enjoin our children that they must take part with us in this, for remembrance even for our posterity; and if anyone sees a difficulty in this, let them return from this place. For the honour of His Name shall be joyfully exalted, and to Him the fame and the honour of the victory must be given."

All the English volunteers joined with the Afrikaans Voortrekkers in taking this Vow. From 9th December the Vow was repeated every evening, up until the night of the 15th, during evening services when Psalms were sung and prayers were offered.

Confronting the Zulu

There was a calm deliberation amongst the men of the Wencommando. They knew that they were going up against the most formidable force in Africa at that time. Up to that point, the Zulu Impis had never been beaten. They knew that Dingaan had over 20,000 warriors that he could throw at them. They were only 464, and this being 1838, they only had smooth ball muskets, which required 30 to 40 seconds to reload. And they knew charging Zulu warriors could cover a lot of ground in that time.

To the Ncome River

On Saturday the 15th of December the Commando crossed the Buffalo River and outspanned between the Buffalo River and the Ncome River. Two scouts reported that they had seen a huge Zulu army only half an hour ride away. Pretorius inspected the terrain for a suitable laager site and he sensed God’s guidance for there was a perfect spot on the other side of the Ncome. On its western bank there was a deep hippopotamus pool and a large donga, or gully. The laager was set up making use of these natural defensive features on two sides. The 64 wagons were firmly lashed together with two battle gates secured at the two openings where the canon were placed. The back of the D-formation was set against the donga, and the semi-circle faced towards the open plain. Candles were set out everywhere and lanterns suspended over the wagons on the long whip handles, to prevent the Zulus from approaching the laager unseen in the night. As Sarel Cilliers led the Commando in repeating the Vow for the last time, and then in singing the Psalms, the Zulus had moved within earshot and could hear their strange singing and see the eerily lit laager.

To Beat the Unbeatable Foe

It was a suspenseful moonless night. Two hours before dawn the trekkers were at their posts. A veil of mist lifted and a perfect day broke. There was not a cloud in the vivid blue sky and there was no wind. It was a day of crystal clarity. As the mist lifted the Boers saw the entire Zulu army seated facing them with their shields in front. The front row of the Zulus was only 40 paces away from the half-moon of wagons. Row after row of Zulu regiments were grouped according to the colour of their shields. There were between 12,000 and 15,000 Zulu’s surrounding the laager.

Fear God Alone

"Do not fear their numbers, we can deal with them", shouted Pretorius. As warriors were moving into position to attack from the donga in the rear, Commandant Pretorius decided to seize the initiative and he ordered his men to open fire immediately. Before the Zulus could even begin their intimidating war dances the roar of gunfire shattered the early morning peace. The day began in furious battle with Zulus yelling, hissing, smashing their assegais against their shields, thunderously stamping the ground with their feet, charging the laager at full speed. The two little canon cut swathes through the Zulu ranks, and the deadly aim of the Boer Commandos took their toll. As a mass of Zulus tried to scale the donga and assault the rear of the laager, Sarel Cilliers led his men to cut them down.

Taunting the Enemy
As the Zulus retreated out of range to about 500 metres, Pretorius sent out his brother and an interpreter to taunt the Zulus: "What are you doing, men of Dingaan? We have come to fight men, not women and children! Why don’t you attack?"

Facing the Zulu Tidal Wave

The Zulus leapt up to attack, drumming their shields, yelling, whistling, hissing and swept in a black wave down upon the wagons. This was the longest charge of the two-hour battle. Muzzles were becoming dangerously hot, wagons bristled with assegais, but the strategic positioning of the laager was frustrating the assaults of the Zulus. The closer they got to the wagons, the more they were funnelled and compressed by the river and the donga until they were tripping into one another and stumbling over their earlier casualties. Their losses were becoming enormous, yet without achieving anything. Never in the experience of their warrior nation had anything like this happened to them before.

Charging the Enemy

Andries Pretorius sensed a change in the tempo of the battle and ordered a charge form the laager. He had the two canon dragged out and fired from the front. Then he led a charge into the middle of the Zulu Impi. For the first time in history a Zulu Impi broke and fled. The cohesion on which the Zulu Impis was based was shattered. The Zulus began to flee across the Ncome River, many drowning in the process. As Pretorius fired on one Zulu his horse reared and threw him off. A Zulu lunged at him and Pretorius managed to ward off the assegai with his rifle. As the Zulu struck again Pretorius was thrust through his left hand. He pinned the Zulu to the ground and grappled hand to hand until the warrior was stabbed with his own assegai.

Pursuing the Enemy

On the other side Sarel Cilliers led a commando charge that put to flight the other section of the Zulu army. The mounted Boers pursued the fleeing Zulus, shooting at them as long as their bullets lasted, and firing pebbles when all their bullets were exhausted. Over 3,000 Zulu dead were counted around the laager. Yet not one Voortrekker had been killed, although several were wounded.

Thanksgiving

As the sun set the exhausted Commando members returned for a service of Thanksgiving and for their first meal of the day. Then they had to clean their muskets and cast bullets for the final push to track down Dingaan at Mgundgundlovu.

The Remains of Retief

By the 20th December the Zulu capital was sighted. It was ablaze from one end to the other. Dingaan had fled and set fire to his own capital. When the grizzly remains of Piet Retief and his 100 followers was discovered on KwaMatiwane they saw the legs and arms still tied with thongs, the impaling sticks still visible. Next to the remains of Piet Retief lay his water bottle and leather satchel which still contained Dingaan’s signed and witnessed agreement for the cession of Natal. On Christmas Day the remains of these victims were all gathered and buried in a communal grave at the foot of the koppie.

Reaping the Whirlwind

The Zulu kingdom fell into a civil war and Dingaan was overthrown by his half-brother Mpande.

Loving their Enemies

It is remarkable that, despite the treachery that the Boers had endured at the hands of the Zulu, and the massacres of so many unsuspecting women and children on the banks of the Blaauwkrans River, that no atrocities were committed by the Boers in retaliation. Instead, the Biblical injunction to love their enemies was fulfilled by the vigorous missionary work which was established by the Reformed Church in Zululand, establishing schools, hospitals, churches and orphanages, even within sight of where Piet Retief and his followers were so brutally murdered. In the century and a half since that original Day of the Covenant, many millions of Zulus have come to Christ and Zululand has been blessed by Revival. In a very real sense all of that began with the Covenant proposed by Sarel Cilliers, and enthusiastically adopted by the Wencommando.

Set Free to Serve Christ

Just as the descendants of the Vikings can look back to their one-time enemy King Alfred the Great as their Spiritual father who brought the first Vikings to the Lord after defeating them in battle, so the Zulus and the Afrikaners and English, with whom they had once been locked in deadly battle, are now united in Christ. With the defeat of Dingaan, and later Ceteswayo, the power of the witchdoctors was also broken and the Spiritual liberation of the Zulu people began. As the Lord promised in Genesis 22:17: "…thy seed shall possess the gates of his enemies…" Jesus Christ is building His Church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

Blessed in Order to be a Blessing

God’s promise to Abraham is being fulfilled to this day:

2  And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: 
3  And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed. ~ Genesis 12:2,3

Dr. Peter Hammond
Frontline Fellowship
P.O. Box 74 Newlands 7725
Cape Town South Africa
Tel: 021-689-4480
Email:
mission@frontline.org.za
Website: www.FrontlineMissionSA.org 
 
Sources:
The Voortrekkers, by Johannes Meintjes, 1973, Corgi Books.
The Great Trek, by C. Venter, 1985, Nelson.
The Voortrekkers of South Africa, by M. Nathan, 1937, London.
Andries Pretorius in Natal, by B.J. Liebenberg, 1977, Pretoria.
The Washing of the Spears, by Donald Morris, 1966, Jonathan Cape.

This article has been adapted from a chapter in Sketches from South African History (now also available in Afrikaans: Sketse uit Die Suid Afrikaanse Geskiedenis) available from Christian Liberty Books, P.O. Box 358, Howard Place, 7450, Cape Town, South Africa, Tel: 021-689-7478, Fax: 086-551-7490,

Email: admin@christianlibertybooks.co.za,

Website: www.christianlibertybooks.co.za.

This message was presented by Dr. Peter Hammond to The Reformation Society. The audio CD and PowerPoint are available from Christian Liberty Books.

Soli Deo Gloria_________________________________

The Retief Massacre of 6 February 1838 revisited – events that lead to the Battle of Blood River on 16 December 1838.

Jesus Turned Water Into Wine, But He is Not a Glorified Bartender! Tract

JESUS

TURNED WATER INTO

WINE, BUT HE IS NOT A

GLORIFIED BARTENDER!

~ With Compliments ~

Repent and Believe South Africa

Gary Stephen Crous

Cell: +27 (0) 72 221 1233

E-mail: luke9.23evangelism@gmail.com

Website: http://www.luke923evangelism.wordpress.com

Introduction

When it comes to the issue surrounding whether a Christian may or may not drink alcohol, or whether a Christian can exercise his/her “Christian liberty” in drinking alcoholic beverages, the parties who are pro to alcohol consumption go instantaneously to the scripture where the Lord Jesus Christ was attending a wedding in Cana and He turns “water into wine”. This is one of two of the most referenced scriptures in the entire Bible; the other being “JUDGE not, that ye be not judged” (Matthew 7:1) or the simple exclamation: “JUDGE NOT!” Even unbelievers know these two scriptures, but whether Christian or unbeliever, whenever these scriptures are referenced to argue their point, 99.9% of the time the verses are taken out of their true context, the other 0.1% also! To bring this issue into its proper context, let us read the account as recorded in God’s Holy Word in the Gospel according to Saint John, for it is written,

1  And the third day there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee; and the mother of Jesus was there: 
2  And both Jesus was called, and his disciples, to the marriage. 
3  And when they wanted wine, the mother of Jesus saith unto him, They have no wine. 
4  Jesus saith unto her, Woman, what have I to do with thee? mine hour is not yet come. 
5  His mother saith unto the servants, Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it. 
6  And there were set there six waterpots of stone, after the manner of the purifying of the Jews, containing two or three firkins apiece. 
7  Jesus saith unto them, Fill the waterpots with water. And they filled them up to the brim. 
8  And he saith unto them, Draw out now, and bear unto the governor of the feast. And they bare it. 
9  When the ruler of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine, and knew not whence it was: (but the servants which drew the water knew;) the governor of the feast called the bridegroom,
10  And saith unto him, Every man at the beginning doth set forth good wine; and when men have well drunk, then that which is worse: but thou hast kept the good wine until now.
11  This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee, and manifested forth his glory; and his disciples believed on him. ~ John 2:1-11

Now according to these verses and especially where reference is made that the water was made into wine, but not just any wine, but “good wine”; this is used as their argument: “You see, Jesus turned water into wine! So we can drink alcohol!” Firstly, we must establish who is making the reference to “Jesus turning water into wine” – believer? or unbeliever? Secondly, if it is a ‘Christian’, why would a Christian want to partake of the “pleasures of this world”, when Jesus’ half-brother James says, “Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God” (James 4:4)? And thirdly, why would someone who has been delivered from his/her sinful pleasures, that they readily indulged in prior to the Lord’s salvation and regeneration of their soul, would want to continue in the pleasures of old when the apostle Paul tells us that in Christ we are new, as we read, “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17). And lastly, we know that if an unbeliever makes that statement, “But Jesus turned water into wine”, we can assuredly know that they wish to continue in their sin for their point of argument is: “It is alright to drink alcohol as your God even makes it okay to do so!” However, the unbeliever misses the mark in their lost state for this explains their present situation devoid of wisdom and understanding: “How much more abominable and filthy is man, which drinketh iniquity like water?” (Job 15:16).

Explaining the miracle

From the portion of scripture under discussion in John 2:1-11, what must be remembered are the reasons behind Jesus providing the wine at the wedding and what it ultimately accomplished? We know that those attending the wedding “wanted wine” (verse 3). It would also appear from the text that Jesus and His disciples were initially not at the wedding, but “was called” (verse 2), and His mother Mary was present at the wedding (verse 1) and said to Jesus that, “They have no wine” (verse 3) – in other words, “Do something about it.” Jesus makes it very clear to His mother, even censoring her, but not out of disrespect, when He says, “Woman, what have I to do with thee? mine hour is not yet come” (verse 4). Jesus used the same word “Woman” when speaking to her with affection from the cross, “Woman, behold thy son!” (See John 19:26).

We read on and see that Jesus instructs the servants to fill the “six waterpots of stone, . . . containing two or three firkins apiece” (verse 6) “with water” (verse 7). In order to work out how much is “two or three firkins apiece”, according to Smith’s Bible Dictionary: “The value of the Attic metrétés was 8,6696 gallons, and consequently the amount of liquid in six stone jars, containing on the average 2½ metrétæ each, would exceed 110 gallons.” This would equate to about 416.395 litres of water to be turned into wine! That is a lot of wine!

What we need to bear in mind is that whilst the Holy Bible does not outright ban the consumption of alcoholic wine, there is however severe warnings and restrictions placed on the consumption of intoxicating wine and strong drink. Hereunder are the Hebrew and Greek words that explain “wine” which also have a deeper and more expansive meaning and explanation (that will not allow for space here) than the English equivalent of the word “wine”:

H3196 יין yayin yah’-yin From an unused root meaning to effervesce; wine (as fermented); by implication intoxication: – banqueting, wine, wine [-bibber].

H4469 ממסך mamsâk mam-sawk’ From H4537; mixture, that is, (specifically) wine mixed (with water or spices): – drink-offering, mixed wine.

H6071 עסיס ‛âsı̂ys aw-sees’ From H6072; must or fresh grape juice (as just trodden out): – juice, new (sweet) wine.

H7941 שׁכר shêkâr shay-kawr’ From H7937; an intoxicant, that is, intensely alcoholic liquor: – strong drink, + drunkard, strong wine.

H8492 תּירשׁ תּירושׁ tı̂yrôsh tı̂yrôsh tee-roshe’, tee-roshe’ From H3423 in the sense of expulsion; must or fresh grape juice (as just squeezed out); by implication (rarely) fermented wine: – (new, sweet) wine.

G1098 γλεῦκος gleukos glyoo’-kos Akin to G1099; sweet wine, that is, (properly) must (fresh juice), but used of the more saccharine (and therefore highly inebriating) fermented wine: – new wine.

G3631 οἶνος oinos oy’-nos A primary word (or perhaps of Hebrew origin [H3196]); “wine” (literally or figuratively): – wine.

We should also bear in mind that the common wine that was commonly drunk in Palestine was the pure juice of the grape, the fruit of the vine. Jesus says in Matthew 26:29, “But I say unto you, I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.” (See also Mark 14:25 & Luke 22:18). “It was not brandied wine, nor drugged wine, nor wine compounded of various substances, such as we drink in this land today. We use the word “wine” now to denote the kind of liquid which passes under that name in this country – always containing a considerable portion of alcohol not only the alcohol produced by fermentation, but alcohol “added” to keep it or make it stronger.” (Barnes). If Jesus turned the water into wine of the fermented intoxicating kind, Jesus, Who is God manifest in human flesh (1 Timothy 3:16), would be violating His Own Word by encouraging the intoxication and drunkenness of the Cana marriage couple, their guests, even including His own mother Mary and His disciples. We read in Habakkuk 2:15, “Woe unto him that giveth his neighbour drink, that puttest thy bottle to him, and makest him drunken also, that thou mayest look on their nakedness!”

Therefore, if people try arguing the point that the wine was fermented and alcoholic in nature, then Jesus, the Son of God, was encouraging a violation of making His neighbour drunk! We are told to love our neighbour, not to cause his downfall! We are also instructed by God’s Word, “And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;” (Ephesians 5:18). This scripture to the church at Ephesus warns: Be not drunk, but be sober in the Holy Spirit. Also in Proverbs 23:29-35 we read about the conditions of a person partaking in alcoholic drink that leads to drunkenness,

29  Who hath woe? who hath sorrow? who hath contentions? who hath babbling? who hath wounds without cause? who hath redness of eyes? 
30  They that tarry long at the wine; they that go to seek mixed wine. 
31  Look not thou upon the wine when it is red, when it giveth his colour in the cup, when it moveth itself aright. 
32  At the last it biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder. 
33  Thine eyes shall behold strange women, and thine heart shall utter perverse things. 
34  Yea, thou shalt be as he that lieth down in the midst of the sea, or as he that lieth upon the top of a mast. 
35  They have stricken me, shalt thou say, and I was not sick; they have beaten me, and I felt it not: when shall I awake? I will seek it yet again. ~ Proverbs 23:29-35

1  Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise. ~ Proverbs 20:1

Did Jesus drink intoxicating wine?

We see from these scriptures that God warns against taking fermented wine and strong drink, yet there are many Biblical theologians who allude to Jesus drinking intoxicating wine, where they cite Matthew 11:18,19, for it is written, “For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, He hath a devil. The Son of man came eating and drinking, and they say, Behold a man gluttonous, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners. But wisdom is justified of her children.” However, those scholars err in that the aforementioned verses are not making the distinction between John and Jesus as to one not drinking alcoholic wine and the other was drinking alcoholic wine, respectively. No, writer agrees with Matthew Henry’s Commentary (Vol. V. pp.154-155) where he comments, quote:

“In the explanation of the parable is set forth the different temper of John’s ministry and of Christ’s, who were the two great lights of that generation.

(1). On the one hand, John came mourning to them, neither eating nor drinking; not conversing familiarly with people, nor ordinarily eating in company, but alone, in his cell in the wilderness, where his meat was locusts and wild honey. . . .

(2). On the other hand, the Son of man came eating and drinking, and so he piped unto them. Christ conversed familiarly with all sorts of people, not affecting any peculiar strictness or austerity; he was affable and easy of access, not shy of any company, was often at feasts, both with Pharisees and publicans, to try if this would win upon those who were not wrought upon by John’s reservedness: . . . “[Unquote]

No, the Lord Jesus Christ was not a “glutton” and a “winebibber” as those statements were wicked accusations brought against the Son of man Jesus Christ by the religious order of the day, for they were always trying to discredit Jesus. We know this, for Jesus says, “. . . and they say . . .”

So then, what was the significance of the miracle of turning water into wine? The miracle was Jesus the Messiah (Christ) exercising His authority over His creation. Here Jesus also showed that by filling the waterpots of stone with water, He could turn the water into wine without going through the process of making wine – that would be by going to the vineyard to pick the grapes, by taking the grapes to the winepress, by getting into the winefat and treading the grapes for hours on end extracting the juices, then cleaning out the skins and twigs and other debris, by bottling the grape juice, and by bringing it to the wedding without first passing through a distributor and shopkeeper.

These processes could also have taken days, weeks or even months, but Jesus performed the miracle in a matter of minutes! We are told, “This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee, and manifested forth his glory; and his disciples believed on him.” (John 2:11). The disciples believed Jesus to be the God-sent Messiah. And so is it with us. Jesus can change us from sinners into saints in an instant. It is more than just Jesus turning water into wine.

God’s warnings and man’s conduct

In Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary in respect of John 2:10, he writes, quote:

“Those that expect Christ’s favours, must observe his orders with ready obedience. The way of duty is the way to mercy; and Christ’s methods must not be objected against. The beginning of Moses’ miracles was turning water into blood, Exodus 7:20; the beginning of Christ’s miracles was turning water into wine; which may remind us of the difference between the law of Moses and the gospel of Christ. He showed that he improves creature-comforts to all true believers, and make them comforts indeed. And Christ’s works are all for use. Has he turned thy water into wine, given thee knowledge and grace? it is to profit withal; therefore draw out now, and use it. It was the best wine. Christ’s works commend themselves even to those who know not their Author. What was produced by miracles, always was the best in its kind. Though Christ hereby allows a right use of wine, he does not in the least do away his own caution, which is, that our hearts be not at any time overcharged with surfeiting and drunkenness, Luke 21:34. Though we need not scruple to feast with our friends on proper occasions, yet every social interview should be so conducted, that we might invite the Redeemer to join with us, if he were now on earth; and all levity, luxury, and excess offend him.”[Unquote] [i.e. DO NOT let Jesus be offended by your conduct!]

In 1 Corinthians 6:9-11, we read,

9  Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, 
10  Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. 
11  And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God. ~ 1 Corinthians 6:9-11

These afore verses reveal that, among others, no “drunkards” will inherit the kingdom of God. All drunkards are headed for Hell, but the Word tells us in verse 11 thereof, “And such were some of you . . .” implying a change in nature having been washed and sanctified and justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of God. A new creature has come into existence. A new creature is one who is set apart from the norm, as we read:

3  For the time past of our life may suffice us to have wrought the will of the Gentiles, when we walked in lasciviousness, lusts, excess of wine, revellings, banquetings, and abominable idolatries: 
4  Wherein they think it strange that ye run not with them to the same excess of riot, speaking evil of you: ~ 1 Peter 4:3,4

Do you find yourself different to what people expect? Or do you want to fit in with the crowd, “As a dog returneth to his vomit, so a fool returneth to his folly (Proverbs 26:11). These warnings are given to keep the disciple of Jesus Christ perfect in thought, word and deed. In Hebrews, we are warned, “Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord:” (Hebrews 12:4). Does your conduct meet the holiness requirement that God requires?

Earlier, reference was made to Matthew 7:1, “JUDGE not, that ye be not judged.” Persons often stop the verse there which is out of context, for if one continues reading then the full context will be known. You cannot judge a brother or sister of doing something unless you have examined yourself, and if you are right before God in a matter, you can now see the speck in your brother’s eye because the beam has been removed from your own eye! You see Jesus says that if you judge you must judge righteously, for we read, “Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment” (John 7:24). And to judge righteous judgment is to use His Holy Scriptures (See 2 Timothy 3:16,17). For we read, “For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?” (1 Peter 4:17)

By way of writer’s testimony, before, when I was a slave to alcohol, I could not make righteous judgments, but when God delivered me from my bondage he made me free that I can testify of His goodness in setting me free. If I was still drinking alcohol, going into bottle-stores, shebeens, nightclubs, etc, and living a life of a drunkard (one who gets drunk) then how can I show a brother the error of his ways if I am doing likewise. That would leave the sinner justifiably calling the “preacher” a Hypocrite! And Jesus has a lot to say about hypocrites that will perish in hell and ultimately the lake of fire, for we read in Matthew 7:21-23,

21  Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.
22  Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?
23  And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.
~ Matthew 7:21-23

Conclusion

It is no secret that alcohol consumption causes major health problems, including cirrhosis of the liver and injuries in automobile accidents. These are not the only risks posed by drinking for researchers have linked alcohol consumption to more than 60 diseases. 12 of the more severe conditions are: Anemia, Cancer, Cadiovascular disease, Cirrhosis, Dementia, Depression, Seizures, Gout, High blood pressure, Infectious disease, Nerve damage, and Pancreatitis. Alcohol is also the tool of the Devil that has destroyed many families, with abuse of children and spouses an evil scourge, in some cases leading to murder!

Three times a year, at Easter, at Christmas and at New Year, these celebrations make the Pharisees’ accusations against the Lord Jesus Christ a reality in the lives of those revelling (i.e. to feast in a noisy manner). By way of an examination of your behaviour: Are you gluttonous and a winebibber? “For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.” (1 John 2:16)

The apostle Paul exhorts true Christians, “Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.” (1 Corinthians 11:1). So let us take heed what Paul says about walking in charity (love):

13  Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumblingblock or an occasion to fall in his brother’s way. 
14  I know, and am persuaded by the Lord Jesus, that there is nothing unclean of itself: but to him that esteemeth any thing to be unclean, to him it is unclean. 
15  But if thy brother be grieved with thy meat, now walkest thou not charitably. Destroy not him with thy meat, for whom Christ died. 
16  Let not then your good be evil spoken of: 
17  For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost. ~ Romans 14:13-17

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Footnotes:

* All Scripture is from the Authorised Version (King James Bible, 1611)

* Smith’s Bible Dictionary, by William Smith L.L.D. (1986 Thomas Nelson)

* Albert Barnes Notes on the Bible (e-Sword)

* Strong’s Complete Word Study Concordance, Expanded Edition

* Matthew Henry’s Commentary, Vol. V (Marshall, Morgan & Scott)

* Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary (e-Sword)

* http://www.webmd.com/mental-health/addiction/features/12-health-risks-of-chronic-heavy-drinking

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2 December 2018

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Daily Devotions by C. H. Spurgeon

C. H. Spurgeon November 26

Morning

“Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might.”
– Ecc 9:10

10  Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest. ~ Ecclesiastes 9:10

“Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do,” refers to works that are possible. There are many things which our heart findeth to do which we never shall do. It is well it is in our heart; but if we would be eminently useful, we must not be content with forming schemes in our heart, and talking of them; we must practically carry out “whatsoever our hand findeth to do.” One good deed is more worth than a thousand brilliant theories. Let us not wait for large opportunities, or for a different kind of work, but do just the things we “find to do” day by day. We have no other time in which to live. The past is gone; the future has not arrived; we never shall have any time but time present. Then do not wait until your experience has ripened into maturity before you attempt to serve God. Endeavour now to bring forth fruit. Serve God now, but be careful as to the way in which you perform what you find to do-”do it with thy might.” Do it promptly; do not fritter away your life in thinking of what you intend to do to-morrow as if that could recompense for the idleness of to-day. No man ever served God by doing things to-morrow. If we honour Christ and are blessed, it is by the things which we do to-day. Whatever you do for Christ throw your whole soul into it. Do not give Christ a little slurred labour, done as a matter of course now and then; but when you do serve him, do it with heart, and soul, and strength.

But where is the might of a Christian? It is not in himself, for he is perfect weakness. His might lieth in the Lord of Hosts. Then let us seek his help; let us proceed with prayer and faith, and when we have done what our “hand findeth to do,” let us wait upon the Lord for his blessing. What we do thus will be well done, and will not fail in its effect.

Evening

“They shall rejoice, and shall see the plummet in the hand of Zerubbabel.”
– Zec 4:10

10  For who hath despised the day of small things? for they shall rejoice, and shall see the plummet in the hand of Zerubbabel with those seven; they are the eyes of the LORD, which run to and fro through the whole earth. ~ Zechariah 4:10 

Small things marked the beginning of the work in the hand of Zerubbabel, but none might despise it, for the Lord had raised up one who would persevere until the headstone should be brought forth with shoutings. The plummet was in good hands. Here is the comfort of every believer in the Lord Jesus; let the work of grace be ever so small in its beginnings, the plummet is in good hands, a master builder greater than Solomon has undertaken the raising of the heavenly temple, and he will not fail nor be discouraged till the topmost pinnacle shall be raised. If the plummet were in the hand of any merely human being, we might fear for the building, but the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in Jesus’ hand. The works did not proceed irregularly, and without care, for the master’s hand carried a good instrument. Had the walls been hurriedly run up without due superintendence, they might have been out of the perpendicular; but the plummet was used by the chosen overseer. Jesus is evermore watching the erection of his spiritual temple, that it may be built securely and well. We are for haste, but Jesus is for judgment. He will use the plummet, and that which is out of line must come down, every stone of it. Hence the failure of many a flattering work, the overthrow of many a glittering profession. It is not for us to judge the Lord’s church, since Jesus has a steady hand, and a true eye, and can use the plummet well. Do we not rejoice to see judgment left to him?

The plummet was in active use-it was in the builder’s hand; a sure indication that he meant to push on the work to completion. O Lord Jesus, how would we indeed be glad if we could see thee at thy great work. O Zion, the beautiful, thy walls are still in ruins! Rise, thou glorious Builder, and make her desolations to rejoice at thy coming.Soli Deo Gloria

Daily Devotions by C. H. Spurgeon

C. H. Spurgeon November 25

Morning

“To preach deliverance to the captives.”
– Luk 4:18

18  The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised,
19  To preach the acceptable year of the Lord.
~ Luke 4:18,19

None but Jesus can give deliverance to captives. Real liberty cometh from him only. It is a liberty righteously bestowed; for the Son, who is Heir of all things, has a right to make men free. The saints honour the justice of God, which now secures their salvation. It is a liberty which has been dearly purchased. Christ speaks it by his power, but he bought it by his blood. He makes thee free, but it is by his own bonds. Thou goest clear, because he bare thy burden for thee: thou art set at liberty, because he has suffered in thy stead. But, though dearly purchased, he freely gives it. Jesus asks nothing of us as a preparation for this liberty. He finds us sitting in sackcloth and ashes, and bids us put on the beautiful array of freedom; he saves us just as we are, and all without our help or merit. When Jesus sets free, the liberty is perpetually entailed; no chains can bind again. Let the Master say to me, “Captive, I have delivered thee,” and it is done for ever. Satan may plot to enslave us, but if the Lord be on our side, whom shall we fear? The world, with its temptations, may seek to ensnare us, but mightier is he who is for us than all they who be against us. The machinations of our own deceitful hearts may harass and annoy us, but he who hath begun the good work in us will carry it on and perfect it to the end. The foes of God and the enemies of man may gather their hosts together, and come with concentrated fury against us, but if God acquitteth, who is he that condemneth? Not more free is the eagle which mounts to his rocky eyrie, and afterwards outsoars the clouds, than the soul which Christ hath delivered. If we are no more under the law, but free from its curse, let our liberty be practically exhibited in our serving God with gratitude and delight. “I am thy servant, and the son of thine handmaid: thou hast loosed my bonds.” “Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?”

Evening

“For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.”
– Rom 9:15

In these words the Lord in the plainest manner claims the right to give or to withhold his mercy according to his own sovereign will. As the prerogative of life and death is vested in the monarch, so the Judge of all the earth has a right to spare or condemn the guilty, as may seem best in his sight. Men by their sins have forfeited all claim upon God; they deserve to perish for their sins-and if they all do so, they have no ground for complaint. If the Lord steps in to save any, he may do so if the ends of justice are not thwarted; but if he judges it best to leave the condemned to suffer the righteous sentence, none may arraign him at their bar. Foolish and impudent are all those discourses about the rights of men to be all placed on the same footing; ignorant, if not worse, are those contentions against discriminating grace, which are but the rebellions of proud human nature against the crown and sceptre of Jehovah. When we are brought to see our own utter ruin and ill desert, and the justice of the divine verdict against sin, we no longer cavil at the truth that the Lord is not bound to save us; we do not murmur if he chooses to save others, as though he were doing us an injury, but feel that if he deigns to look upon us, it will be his own free act of undeserved goodness, for which we shall for ever bless his name.

How shall those who are the subjects of divine election sufficiently adore the grace of God? They have no room for boasting, for sovereignty most effectually excludes it. The Lord’s will alone is glorified, and the very notion of human merit is cast out to everlasting contempt. There is no more humbling doctrine in Scripture than that of election, none more promotive of gratitude, and, consequently, none more sanctifying. Believers should not be afraid of it, but adoringly rejoice in it.

Soli Deo Gloria

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