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
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
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
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
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.
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,
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
The fifth sermon quotes:
Turn us again, O LORD God of hosts, cause thy face to shine; and we
shall be saved.
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.
verse thirteen even confirmed the subject of my first sermon:
For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.
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.
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.
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
(1 Thessalonians 2:3-4)
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?
and another, 2 Corinthians chapter three, especially verse nine:
(2 Corinthians 2:14-16)
For if the ministration of condemnation [be] glory, much more doth
the ministration of righteousness exceed in glory.
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.
(2 Corinthians 3:9)
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
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.
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.