Evidence of the Hand of the Living God 

Many people give their testimonies of how they met Jesus, and it is wonderful to perceive how their lives have changed under the influence of the Holy Spirit, but it is possible, that in the telling there is a bit much of the "I" and perhaps not enough evidence of God's mighty hand. 
 Also, a personal testimony is inclined to be a dead thing, a memory of the past, whereas God's providence is ongoing and growing, once you accept it the first time as His grace and not chance. If you are open to God's Spirit, He is able to lead you on a path of increasing revelation, a path of where He wishes to lead you, not a path of your own choosing. Once you become a conduit of God's will, wonderful things start happening, you become aware of God's Spiritual power, you know that the Heavenly Father is not some character in a fairy story, you start to act in faith, faith which is like a mustard seed that grows and grows with the result that He can make increasing use of you. However, if you wish to be a vessel that God can use, you must be very clean and this bears a cost that you must learn to live with. It is very clear from studying the Bible that the sheep that hear the voice of Jesus suffer in worldly matters. Please do not expect anything different. It is part of the test to see if you are a fit candidate for further use in the heavenly realm. 

The following is the evidence of God's grace, to an as yet, unclean vessel. 
 One day in May 1995, after an extended period of Satan's attacks it was suddenly realised that I needed a rest. Searching through the Book of the Road, I found that the warmest place to tow our caravan to was in the north of the Kruger Park. My wife was agreeable and a couple of days later we were parked in the shade of an umbrella thorn tree in Shingwedzi rest camp and what followed was one of the best holidays of our married life. This umbrella thorn tree leaned protectively over the caravan, ensuring a cool shady environment for us for most of the day. 
 After about a week my wife needed to wash our clothes and asked me to set up the washline. This washline was made up of various lengths and thicknesses of cotton sash cord and was stored, together with other bits and pieces, in a special box under one of the bunks. As the washline was extracted from this box, a loose piece of thick string came out as well and was noticeable because it was whiter and also lay on top of the tangle. Without much thought, this piece of string was tied onto the thin end. One end of the line was then tied to the guiding handle at the back end of the caravan on the opposite side to the door, then bent around the leaning stem of the tree and so to the front guiding handle. 
 Now for the supernatural part - there was just enough washline! With some tugging to stretch the line, a knot could be tied using the last piece of frayed end of string. Approaching my wife, I reported that the washline was ready for use and said something similar to "The Lord has given us just enough washline, isn't that wonderful?", explaining about the string. 
 Half an hour or so later, my wife came to me and said something similar to "There were just enough clothes pegs to hang up all the washing, I even had to make one peg out of two loose pieces. Isn't that wonderful?" 

Almost exactly a year later we were parked about thirty metres from "our" umbrella thorn to see if we could recapture the atmosphere of the previous year. The experience of the past was unfortunately missing, but the Lord chose to reveal His omnipotence once more in a most wonderful way. 
 The Lord's benediction was apparent before we left. Two days prior to our departure, my wife visited a church fete and purchased a second-hand book written by a world famous preacher entitled "Sermons on Revival". When she observed the light in my eyes upon seeing it, she wrote on the flyleaf "To my dear Roger, with all my love, xxx." One of the most blessed gifts that I have ever received. 
 On the back page of this cloth-backed book is written "ZZZ has been called one of the five greatest preachers in the history of Christianity, ranking with Paul, Augustine, Crysostom and John Wesley. For thirty years he preached each Sunday to ten thousand people. Most of his sermons were subsequently published, to speak across the generations to countless thousands more, who have encountered them through the printed page." 

 Most of us go through a dry patch every now and then, when the Lord the Holy Spirit seems to withdraw from us, to have turned His face away from us because of some disobedience on our part. This was the case with me and I hoped to find the cause in the quiet environment of the rest-camp. 
 God made His presence known on the first page of the first sermon in the book. Seeing that it applies to the subject being discussed, here are those words again: 
 "He who would hear God speak needs not to wait long, for God speaks to men continually through the Scriptures, which are given to us by inspiration. Alas that we should be so deaf to its teachings! This wonderful volume, so full of wisdom, is so little read that few of us could dare to gaze upon its pages and say "O Lord, in this Book I have heard thy speech." At other times the Lord speaks by providence; both national providences and personal providences have a meaning, providences that are afflicting, and providences that are comforting, all have a voice; but alas! I fear that oftentimes to us providence is dumb because we are deaf. I am afraid few of you can say of it "O Lord, in providence I have heard thy speech." The God of heaven speaks to men by his Holy Spirit. He does this, at times, in those common operations of the Spirit upon the ungodly which they resist, as did also their fathers. The Spirit strives with men; he calls, and they refuse; he stretches out his hands, and they regard him not. Though we have ears to hear, we frequently quench the Spirit; we grieve him, we neglect his monitions, and if we do not despise his teachings, yet too often we forget them, and listen to the follies of earth, instead of regarding the wisdom of the skies."  
From this passage I perceived that I had been listening to those follies and asked the Lord to turn His face toward me once again, to disclose my sin. My Glorious Lord heard the plea and chose to use the words in the book for this purpose, as follows: 

In the second sermon the following passage is used: 

Keep silence before me, O islands; and let the people renew [their] strength: let them come near; then let them speak: let us come near together to judgment. 
(Isaiah 41:1)
 Be silent in the presence of the awesome Living God, realise your unrighteousness, come to Him on your knees, renewing your strength through His presence, feel the nearness of the heavenly Father. God loves to be pleaded with in prayer, which leads on to the third sermon entitled 

"Enquire of the LORD": 

 Thus saith the Lord GOD; I will yet [for] this be enquired of by the house of Israel, to do [it] for them; I will increase them with men like a flock. As the holy flock, as the flock of Jerusalem in her solemn feasts; so shall the waste cities be filled with flocks of men: and they shall know that I [am] the LORD. 
(Ezekiel 36:37-38)
 Here he states: 
 Moreover, if I may say so, God has in mercy compelled us to prayer by making the pleading necessary to the blessing. We must pray; we are unblessed unless we pray; and therefore our necessities drive us to the mercy-seat. Though we may be so low in grace and so unspiritual that we may feel little positive enjoyment for the moment in prayer, yet pray we must: a sacred compulsion lies upon us arising from our vast necessities. 

The fourth sermon is entitled "Man's Extremity, God's Opportunity": 

For the LORD shall judge his people, and repent himself for his servants, when he seeth that [their] power is gone, and [there is] none shut up, or left. 
(Deuteronomy 32:36)
 Again he remarks: 
 Beloved brethren, God may bring his people, in the order of his providence, into such a state that "their power is gone." The worst about your trial is that it may seem to you, and seem truly, that some of your suffering is the result of sin. You may not have been walking with God as you ought to have done, your heart may have grown cold; so that which has come upon you may be a chastisement for your wandering, it may be a rod in the hand of your loving Father, smiting you because of your folly. 

The fifth sermon quotes: 

Turn us again, O LORD God of hosts, cause thy face to shine; and we shall be saved. 
(Psalms 80:19)
 and the writer states: 
 We want a turning again to God of all of you who have been accustomed to hold communion with Jesus, but who have in the least degree broken off that holy and heavenly habit. 

Dear reader, I am sure that by this time you have perceived the direction that the Lord had led me, moreover, His presence was once again evident in the quiet time with Him. 
 He had taught through the words appearing in the book that I had been obeying in thought but not in deed: as it were, had been disobeying the spiritual speed limit without giving it much thought; was not very clean and therefore could not be used. Now He tested me, because on the first page of the sixth sermon, entitled "Conversions Required" I received my marching orders. 

The writer states once more: 
 Learn from this, every one of you, that wherever you are called to go you should persevere in making known the name and Gospel of Jesus. Look on this as your calling and occupation. You will be scattered now by persecution, but should the demands of business carry you into different climes, employ your distant travel for missionary purposes. Providence every now and then bids you remove your tent; take care that wherever it is pitched you carry with you a testimony for Jesus. At time the necessities of health require relaxation and change of air, and this may take you to different places of public resort: seize the opportunity to encourage the Churches in such localities by your presence and countenance, and also endeavour to spread the knowledge of Jesus among those to whom you may be directed. The position which you occupy in society is not an accidental one; it has not been decreed to you by a blind purposeless fate; there is predestination in it, but that predestination is wise, and looks towards a merciful end: you are placed where you are that you may be a preserving salt to those around, a sweet savour of Christ to all who know you. 

I had moved my tent, had moved to a place of public resort and was not there by accident. The Lord was in effect saying through His providence "We are in Covenant, do this for Me." It was not necessary to lay out a fleece, to ask Him if this was His will, but He confirmed it in any case, because in the next quiet time with Him, Romans chapter ten was studied. When reading the following verses the Lord's requirement became clear. 

 How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things! But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report? So then faith [cometh] by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. 
(Romans 10:14-17)
verse thirteen even confirmed the subject of my first sermon: 
For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. (Romans 10:13)
Upon enquiry, it was discovered that no church service had taken place in Shingwedzi camp for about a year. 

That was beautiful not so. Reading and speaking about our Lord and His wonderful works is so rewarding because it builds faith in each of us. 


There is more. 
 Recently, on the morning before attending the funeral service of an old Sunday-school teacher, I was led to read Ecclesiastes chapter twelve as it teaches about where our spirits go when we die physically. Also, I read portions of Hebrews chapters four and five. Both the following passages were confirmed and it seemed that the Lord wished them to be read out at this service: 

 1 Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth, while the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh, when thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them; 2 While the sun, or the light, or the moon, or the stars, be not darkened, nor the clouds return after the rain: 3 In the day when the keepers of the house shall tremble, and the strong men shall bow themselves, and the grinders cease because they are few, and those that look out of the windows be darkened, 4 And the doors shall be shut in the streets, when the sound of the grinding is low, and he shall rise up at the voice of the bird, and all the daughters of musick shall be brought low; 5 Also [when] they shall be afraid of [that which is] high, and fears [shall be] in the way, and the almond tree shall flourish, and the grasshopper shall be a burden, and desire shall fail: because man goeth to his long home, and the mourners go about the streets: 6 Or ever the silver cord be loosed, or the golden bowl be broken, or the pitcher be broken at the fountain, or the wheel broken at the cistern. 7 Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it. 
 13 Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this [is] the whole [duty] of man. 14 For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether [it be] good, or whether [it be] evil. 
(Ecclesiastes 12)
13 Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things [are] naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do. 14 Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast [our] profession. 15 For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as [we are, yet] without sin. 16 Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need. 
(Hebrews 4)
You can't help noticing that there is a salvation message in the passages, one suitable for a funeral service. Some might say that such a message is hardly fit for a funeral service, but as my son Kevin argues - there is no better time. It would seem that the Lord wished to light a fire in someone's heart; anyway, who are we to presume the Lord's will, "obedience is better than sacrifice". 

On the Sunday morning, in our house church, the Lord poured His Spirit out on us and we were favoured even more than usual. Here was a reward of obedience for me and the building of faith for all of us. There were tears in a few eyes. 
 One of the members read: 

 For our exhortation [was] not of deceit, nor of uncleanness, nor in guile: But as we were allowed of God to be put in trust with the gospel, even so we speak; not as pleasing men, but God, which trieth our hearts. 
(1 Thessalonians 2:3-4)
another read: 
 Now thanks [be] unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savour of his knowledge by us in every place. For we are unto God a sweet savour of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that perish: To the one [we are] the savour of death unto death; and to the other the savour of life unto life. And who [is] sufficient for these things? 
(2 Corinthians 2:14-16)
and another, 2 Corinthians chapter three, especially verse nine: 
For if the ministration of condemnation [be] glory, much more doth the ministration of righteousness exceed in glory. 
(2 Corinthians 3:9)
This passage connected the Old and New Testament verses that had been read out at the funeral - and at the same time clarified an important truth. 
 It is evident, if the "funeral" passages are placed together, that they are in fact one passage, the one follows on from the other, but the difference is remarkable, the first with its dire warnings and the other encouraging us to be obedient. The message is the same, but the way it is done is vastly different. Rather like the old adage about leading a donkey, either with a stick or a carrot. 

The Lord shows His favour in quite ordinary ways as well, for example: 
 Towing our caravan from the eastern Cape, we experienced that scourge of the caravanner, a headwind; and for a distance of approximately four hundred kilometres. When a breeze becomes a wind, that is to say, when the grass stalks start bobbing up and down, or the wheat in the fields move like a flowing river, then the pleasure of towing a caravan is transformed into something of a nightmare. Instead of cruising along, relaxing and enjoying the scenery, a strong headwind causes driver fatigue in a short space of time as one has to strive with a perverse steering wheel and the rig has to be nursed up every hill. 
 On this occasion, because of the added demands, the vehicle started showing symptoms of fuel starvation. Two-thirds of the way up the Penhoek pass, the engine died on us and we were, by God's grace, able to pull into a place where the road widens for a distance of about a hundred metres, and I was able to change the fuel filter while other vehicles could pass. At this point the wind was so strong that my wife had to hold the bonnet in place to prevent it blowing back against the windscreen. Fifteen minutes or so after replacing the filter, we experienced the familiar jerkiness of fuel starvation and came to realise that this was far more serious than a dirty filter. Near Aliwal North the wind seemed to die down, and because it was still early in the day, it was decided to press on to Bloemfontein. By the time we arrived in Smithfield the vehicle was struggling and we enquired at the local garage. It was explained that the added heat generated by the increased load placed on the engine had caused the mechanical fuel pump to fail. As a new one would have to ordered, and that this would take a day or two to arrive, the mechanic suggested that we struggle on slowly to Bloemfontein. 
 Nearing Reddersburg, I remarked to my wife that it would be nice if a Ford agent was to be found in this small dorp as this would save a lot of hassles that were envisaged in a busy city. 
 By this time it was getting late, I was tired, and it was discussed as to whether we should first park the caravan at the Bloemfontein Caravan Park, or look for a Ford agent in the city while still towing the van. This was an important consideration because we would arrive at the time of peak afternoon traffic. In the end we decided on the latter course and proceeded in towards the city centre with some trepidation. You see, we had forgotten the promise of the Lord, that He would look after us. 
 In due course we saw a Ford Agent sign in the street ahead of us, I was able to park the rig out of the traffic, in the forecourt of a second-hand car dealer, was able to obtain a new fuel pump and walk out of the dealership five minutes before they closed for the day. Moreover, in speaking to the salesman, I was informed that the site of the Bloemfontein Caravan Park was now a cluster housing scheme. The salesman was himself a caravanner and could inform us that the nearest caravan park was at Maaselspoort, some twenty kilometres east of town. It was very apparent to us that we were under the Lord's protection. The alternative to this story would have been far different. 


A reason why this epistle has been written is explained in sermon number twelve from Mr Spurgeon's teachings. It is entitled "Go Home and Tell Others" 

Howbeit Jesus suffered him not, but saith unto him, Go home to thy friends, and tell them how great things the Lord hath done for thee, and hath had compassion on thee. 
(Mark 5:19)
It is to be a story of personal experience. You are not to repair to your houses and forthwith begin to preach. That you are not commanded to do. You are not to begin to take up doctrinal subjects and expatiate on them, and endeavour to bring persons to your peculiar views and sentiments. You are not to go home with sundry doctrines you have lately learned, and try to teach these. At least you are not commanded so to do; you may, if you please, and none shall hinder you; but you are to go home and tell not what you have believed, but what you have felt - what you really know to be your own; not what great things you have read, but what great things the Lord hath done for you. 
 Note, next that it must be a story of free grace. It is not, "Tell thy friends how great things thy hast done thyself," but "how great things the Lord hath done for thee." The man who always dwells on free will and power of the creature, and denies the doctrines of grace, invariably mixes up a great deal of what he has done himself in telling his experience; but the believer in free grace, who holds the great cardinal truths of the Gospel, ignores this, and declares, "I will tell what the Lord has done for me."  
There is a third point, How is this story to be told? 
 First, tell it truthfully. Do not tell more than you know; do not tell John Bunyan's experience, when you aught to tell your own. Do not tell your mother you have felt what only Rutherford felt. Tell her no more than the truth. Tell your experience truthfully; for mayhap one single fly in the pot of ointment will spoil it, and one statement that you may make which is not true may ruin it all. 
 In the next place, tell it very humbly. Do not intrude yourselves on those who are older, and know more; but tell your story humbly, not ex-cathedra, but as a friend and as a son. 
 Next, tell it very earnestly. Let them see that you mean it. Do not talk about religion flippantly; you will do no good if you do. Do not make puns on texts; do not quote Scripture by way of joke: if you do, you may talk until you are dumb, you will do no good, if you in the least degree give them occasion to laugh by laughing at holy things yourself. 
 And then, tell it very devoutly. Do not try to tell your tale to man until you have told it first to God. 

Dear reader, you could not have helped but notice that this story is of an ongoing communication between the Lord and one of His sheep. 
 Perhaps you envy such a communication, and would dearly love to have the Lord speak to you in a similar, or even richer way. If so, please read Isaiah chapter fifty eight and learn to apply the teachings in your life day by day and hour by hour. The life that we each live as a Christian is far different from that which our Lord wishes for us. 

Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer. 
(Psalms 19:14)