Monday, March 23, 2015

Spirit of Fear

For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7).

For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father” (Romans 8:15).

The online dictionary defines fear as “an unpleasant emotion caused by the threat of danger, pain, or harm.” Some Bible translations also use a closely related word—“timidity”—the feeling or showing a lack of courage, confidence, boldness or determination. Fear can be caused by something known, unknown, or simply not knowing what to do.

In this article, we will look at fearful situations and events in the Bible that were conquered by faith and courage. This is an important subject, therefore we deemed it important to expound on the Scriptures.

Vision of Having Faith Against Fear

A few weeks ago, on February 16, 2015, we wrote an article on the “Fear of Death”. In a short vision yesterday morning (March 22, 2015), the Lord gave me this week’s message. In the vision, I saw a note with the words “Spirit of Fear” written on it. Along with the note I was shown a terrifying demon, and I knew that the Lord was telling me not to be fearful of this creature in spite of its morbid and frightening appearance.

Additionally, I was shown another vision on Wednesday, March 11, 2015. In this vision, I saw myself visiting a town that I've never been to before, where violence and bloodshed was the order of the day. Everywhere I looked, I saw people fighting and killing one another. As I walked, a man spotted me and fear suddenly gripped my heart. I immediately started to run for my life as the man started chasing me. I was given the ability to run in the clouds as he pursued me. As I ran in the clouds, I yelled “Hallelujah! Hallelujah! If I have been forgiven, why should I fear?” I then felt a mighty wind blowing, with the Lord appearing in white and disappearing again. As the wind blew, I stopped running and stood firmly, facing my pursuer (enemy). As he got closer to me, he disappeared and then appeared briefly before finally vanishing. I was left crying with the joy of overcoming my fear. In this simple vision, the Lord is encouraging us, telling us that we should never run in fear from the enemy when we have received His forgiveness (Romans 8:1). We must face all the struggles and storms of life with faith, because He is standing ready to rescue us (Hebrews 13:5).

Naturally, we face a variety of dangers daily and most of us use survival skills that we have learned to cope or overcome some of those dangers. Often, people resort to lying, cheating and applying other deceitful or malicious ways to survive some of these human threats. Consider this example: when you are regularly late for work or school, do you not resort to fabricated excuses to make up for your delay? Or do you simply say, “Sorry I’m late again!”, without giving a valid excuse? Would such an answer not provoke immediate action against us?

Whom Should We Fear?

The Bible admonishes us not to fear man—fear that people will hurt, insult, embarrass/humiliate, ridicule/mock or reject us, or the craving to please others or receive their acceptance, validation and praise:
  • “The fear of man brings a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord shall be safe” (Proverbs 29:25).
  • "I, even I, am He who comforts you. Who are you that you are afraid of man who dies And of the son of man who is made like grass, ...” (Isaiah 51:12).
  • “You shall not show partiality in judgment; you shall hear the small as well as the great; you shall not be afraid in any man’s presence, for the judgment is God’s...” (Deuteronomy 1:17).
  • “And I say to you, My friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do.” (Luke 12:4)
However, in Scripture—both the Old and New Testaments—we are repeatedly encouraged to fear God alone, that is have reverence for Him, respect Him, honour Him, obey Him, submit to His authority and discipline, and worship Him. We should not fear anything or anyone one else!
  • "You shall fear only the LORD your God; and you shall worship Him and swear by His name” (Deuteronomy 6:13).
  • “You shall fear the Lord your God; you shall serve Him, and to Him you shall hold fast, and take oaths in His name” (Deuteronomy 10:20).
  • “... learn to fear the Lord your God and carefully observe all the words of this law, ...that their children ... may hear and learn to fear the Lord your God as long as you live ...” (Deuteronomy 31:12-13).
  • “... that all the peoples of the earth may know the hand of the Lord, that it is mighty, that you may fear the Lord your God forever” (Joshua 4:24).
  • “Now therefore, fear the Lord, serve Him in sincerity and in truth, and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the River and in Egypt. Serve the Lord!” (Joshua 24:14).
  • “Only fear the Lord, and serve Him in truth with all your heart; for consider what great things He has done for you” (1 Samuel 12:24).
  • “The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear Him, and delivers them. Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him! Oh, fear the Lord, you His saints, for those who fear Him have no lack!” (Psalm 34:7-9 ESV).
  • “And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:28).
  • But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear Him who, after He has killed, has power to cast into hell; yes, I say to you, fear Him! (Luke 12:5).
  • “...Fear God and give glory to Him, for the hour of His judgment has come; and worship Him who made heaven and earth, the sea and springs of water” (Revelation 14:7).
Why is it important to fear God? Because the fear of the Lord equips us with knowledge, instruction and wisdom (Proverbs 1:7; Proverbs 15:33); this not only helps us to overcome the schemes of the enemy in these last days and have a close relationship with God, but it also prepares us for heaven.

Biblical Examples of Overcoming Fear

Fear often leads us to willful sinning (Genesis 18:15), the denial of our faith in Jesus Christ or not testifying of our faith especially when under pressure (John 9:22; John 12:42). Even Peter and Barnabas fell to fear when they began to withdraw from the Gentiles for fear of the Jews (Galatians 2:12-13), but Paul powerfully rebuked and corrected him (Galatians 2:14-21).

Our Lord Jesus, knowing that death was fast approaching, wept before our Heavenly Father vehemently, resisting the spirit of fear of death and not allowing it to overwhelm Him. Remember, the Lord was tempted just as we are, and He set an example for us not to give in to fear (Matthew 26:38-45; Hebrews 4:15).

Let us recall, Moses the man of God fled Egypt to Midian because of his fear of Pharaoh after he killed an Egyptian man (Exodus 2:14-15). After being convinced by God’s power, Moses put his faith in God and obediently returned to Egypt (Exodus 3:7-17; 4:1-21). Moses’ fear of man disappeared and his faith rested in God’s power (Exodus 20:20).

Furthermore, when Paul faced trials and persecutions, he consciously set aside the fear of man and boldly stated, “What are you doing, weeping and breaking my heart? For I am ready not only to be bound but also to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus” (Acts 21:13 HCSB). His faith was unshaken in the midst of death and rejection.

Similarly, we are also encouraged by the boldness of Peter and John after fleeing when the Lord was arrested; they stood their ground and declared the faith of their conviction in the resurrection and life giving sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ (Mark 14:50; Acts 3:12-16). The gospel of salvation gave them boldness and hope, delivering them from the fear of man and the sting of death (1 Corinthians 15:55).

In like manner, Stephen bravely endured martyrdom, praising the Lord while being stoned, and even forgiving and pleading for those who hated his faith in Christ as he defied death (Acts 7:51-60). This priceless and precious gospel came about by the BLOOD of the Lamb of God and the victory of our faith is eternal life (1 Peter 1:9; 1 John 2:25).

In his lifetime, King David confronted many enemies, both from within and without. He addressed fear in some of his Psalms, such as: "The Lord is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear?The Lord is the strength of my life; Of whom shall I be afraid?" (Psalm 27:1). His answer: No one, but only the Lord! David expressed confidence in the Lord to overcome fear and gain courage and victory over his circumstances, and this encouraging message applies to us as well: "Wait on the Lord; Be of good courage, And He shall strengthen your heart; Wait, I say, on the Lord!" (Psalm 27:14).

Fear of Satan and Demons

Christ came to BREAK the spirit of fear and to give us a new freedom; that of truth leading to salvation: ”... He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage” (Hebrews 2:14-15). Furthermore, Jesus asserted that when we know the truth, the truth makes us free (John 8:32), and when He makes us free, we are free indeed (John 8:36).

Before Christ’s death and resurrection, Satan exercised his power over humanity through the fear of death (Hebrews 2:15). However, after the Lord Jesus Christ was manifested, He destroyed the works of the devil (1 John 3:8). He stripped the devil and his demons, and freed humanity from every power of the enemy: “Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it” (Colossians 2:15). What they were left with was just to induce guilt, fear and terror- causing “tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword” (Romans 8:35-36) or to “throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation..”( Revelations 2:10). “Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us” (Romans 8:37). And the Lord Jesus Christ encourages us not to be afraid, but to “...Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life” (Revelation 2:10).

The Lord, knowing that the devil would use fear to control and subdue the human soul, gave us faith and power over all the works of the enemy (Luke 10:19), without which we have to endure the torment of fear (1 John 4:18). That is why today and in some centuries past, those who don’t know or have Christ use death to control and demand obedience – indeed some religious sects today still threaten to (and in fact do) kill those who accept, believe and follow Jesus Christ as their Lord and Saviour. This very same enemy, fear of death, was challenged and overcome by true soldiers of faith and followers of Christ (Daniel 3:16; Hebrews 11:35-40).

Brothers and sisters in Christ, do not be deceived! As we wrote in the “Discerning of Spirits” article last week, we need discernment through the Word of God and the Holy Spirit. There are some believers who are busy battling demons day and night, without much rest, in the name of spiritual warfare, using all kinds of strange powers and “supernatural” weapons that the Bible doesn't mention. The Bible encourages us to magnify and exalt the Lord (Psalm 34:3; Psalm 18:46; Psalm 97:9). Being involved in these kinds of beliefs where Satan and demons are magnified causes one to be in a state of constant fear, both in the real world, during prayers, at night when sleeping, and even in dreams.

The Bible says that Jesus has “delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins” (Colossians 1:13-14). The Lord has given us “authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy...” (Luke 10:19). Instead of fearing Satan, we should “submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you” (James 4:7).

Fear of Others

The Bible sheds light on instances where people sinned as a result of fearing man. For example, King Saul disobeyed God’s command sparing the king of the Amalekites. Saul’s excuse was that he “feared the people and listened to their voice” (1 Samuel 15:24). The Prophet Jeremiah also gave King Zedekiah sound advice (Jeremiah 38:17-18), but King Zedekiah’s fear of the Jews (Jeremiah 38:19) eventually led him to disobey the prophet’s words and rebel against King Nebuchadnezzar. He was subsequently captured, tortured, and died in prison (Jeremiah 52:8-11).

This message comes as an encouragement to many Christians who live in fear of man. When referring to fear of man, we are certainly not encouraging lawlessness or disrespectful behavior. The values of decency and respect that we learn from the Scriptures restrain us from wicked manners (1 Peter 2:17) (see also our article on Good Manners). What we are referring to is our fear of being rejected, ridiculed and insulted by others because we are ashamed of ourselves, the way we look, and/or the gospel of Jesus Christ.

In reality, this fear or phobia has driven many Christians underground. They only resurface when they hear the voices of the fearless believers combating the spirits of doubt and faithlessness. I know countless Christians who are ashamed of the gospel. They are ashamed because they fear what others might think and say when they find out their association with Christ, as if the Lord has done something sheepishly shameful. Brethren, let me encourage you: the noble act of sacrificing His life and leaving His glory in order to grant us eternal destiny is worth celebrating and shouting Hallelujah! for the whole universe to hear and to participate (Revelations 5:9-13).

Encouragement to Overcome Fear

"You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world" (1 John 4:4 NKJV). I boldly declare, in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, let all Christians resist the tormenting spirit of fear and pick up the shield of faith to destroy the insults, shame and arrows of doubt that Satan uses to stifle the spread of the gospel (Ephesians 6:16).

In various messages to brethren in this ministry and around the world, the Lord has encouraged many brethren not to fear any human being, the devil or any circumstances. In some instances, I have witnessed how fear has led people to make desperate decisions, resulting in some losing their jobs, houses, children and spouses. These brethren acted on a false faith. Let me counsel you: if your faith is motivated by fear, love is absent and so is God. That move you take will fail, for faith is pure and guilt-free, and to know if it is real we must experience joy and peace and NOT FEAR (1 John 4:18; Philippians 4:7). The will of God is not burdensome; it relieves the yoke! (Matthew 11:26; 1 John 5:3)

So, why are you allowing fear and anxiety to yoke you? Shake it off and walk in your Heavenly victory! (Ephesians 2:6). Remember: “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7). The Lord God is your comforter, so don’t be afraid of man, who perishes (Isaiah 51:12), but fear God alone, who says to you:
“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. ...For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you” (Isaiah 41:10; 13).
Finally, please heed the wisdom of this warning: But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars—they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death (Revelation 21:8); also, "Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the Lord and shun evil" (Proverbs 3:7).

If you would like to accept Jesus Christ as your personal Savior and be freed from fear, please get started by praying this Prayer of Sincere Repentance. As always, for any questions or comments on this article or our ministry, please contact us.

Blessed grace and a fearless heart to you in Christ’s peace,

Brother Glenn and Preparing for the Kingdom Ministry Team.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Discerning of Spirits

Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world (1 John 4:1 ESV).

"… to another [is given the gift or ability of] distinguishing between spirits… All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as He wills (1 Corinthians 12:10-11 ESV).

Short Visions

Before we delve into week's topic, we would like share a short vision and a Word of the Lord's coming on the Visions page.

The Gift of Discernment

The gift of discerning of spirits is one of the most under-emphasized and overlooked by Christians. This precious gift compliments and completes the work of the Holy Spirit in the Body (1 Corinthians 12:11), helping us distinguish truth from error – because the Spirit of truth guides us into all the truth (John 16:13). Lack of discernment is one of the root causes of divisions in the body of Christ. When we hear of discerning of spirits, we naturally expect to look into the spiritual realm and see visions. However, this gift has also been given to help us judge motives, which are influenced by spirits. We judge Bible messages, prophecies and revelations through the gift of discerning of spirits (1 Corinthians 14:29). This is why the apostle Paul said we must test [discern] the spirits, for when we know the truth it will expose the error (1 Thessalonians 5:21; John 8:32).

This article is meant to inform and to encourage Christians to pray for a spirit of discernment, because Satan has spread error, confusion, doubt and divisions, and the Lord said “When you gather up the weeds, you might also uproot the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest. At harvest time I’ll tell the reapers: Gather the weeds first and tie them in bundles to burn them, but store the wheat in my barn…” (Matthew 13:29-30 HCSB). With many false prophets and teachers in the world today (1 John 4:1; 2 Timothy 4:3-4; 2 Peter 2:1-3), we need discernment in order not to be deceived, but to be prepared and ready for Christ’s second coming and for eternity, as the Apostle Paul wrote: “And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ” (Philippians 1:9-10 ESV). Denominational boundaries, confusions and divisions in the body, as well as sectarianism have resulted largely due to our lack of discernment. Respectfully, most of those in denominations are there due to their loyalty to the denomination or leaders (some of these have been passed down from previous generations), and also their teachings or doctrines (some of which are based mainly on specific portions of Scripture, for example the Sabbath, water baptism, or one of the spiritual gifts such as speaking in tongues). If we go church because of these reasons, and not because of our conviction for Truth, we have not discerned correctly.

In like manner, if you avoid being born again because you are confused by the various doctrines, some false and some true, and you don’t make an effort to read the Scriptures for yourselves and pray seeking discernment for truth, then your fate is sealed and you will perish (John 3:16-18), unless you repent today (Luke 13:3; Hebrews 3:7-8). Not too long ago, we inquired of the Lord for a dear sister in Christ who was confused about a certain message she had read from a false teacher who was seeking a financial contribution. The Lord gave a message to this dear sister warning her against believing false testimonies and admonishing her that she must pray for discernment.

In many Pentecostal and Charismatic circles, the gift of discernment is seen as a revelatory gift of seeing into the spirit world. This perception is partially true, and we will soon prove from the Scriptures how both the Lord and His disciples operated through the gift of discernment. As this article unfolds, we will see that this gift is needed in our everyday walk with the Lord. Other sects have risen recently, reporting that they have their “spiritual eyes” open all the time, seeing and “fighting” demonic spirits in their realm using “spiritual weapons” such as “holy fire,” “holy sword,” “holy electricity”, and other strange and weird manifestations involving uncontrollable body movements, twitching, head shaking, incessant laugher, etc. If this is true, then we are not walking by faith but by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7). Faith would not be faith if it operates through sight, and if it did so there would be no need for the spirit of discernment, which operates through faith. What I mean brethren is this: all the gifts of the Holy Spirit are received and applied by faith (Romans 12:6).

Discerning Truth from Error

Admittedly, there is a sickening spirit of division within the body of Christ, and we know this has caused widespread confusion among both Christians and unbelievers. In addition, the common human disposition for disobedience and sin, our cultural influences and differences add to the confusion (Psalm 51:5; Romans 3:23). Furthermore, we have the sinful nature which causes dilemma and contributes to this confusion (Galatians 5:17). We would like to emphasise that the revelation of truth only comes through the Holy Spirit, and not by human instinct (John 14:26; 15:26; 16:13). Our Lord Jesus Christ was confirmed and revealed to John the Baptist as the Son of God through the descending Holy Spirit on Him (Mark 1:9-11). Therefore the advent of Christianity was set apart from the world of sin and error through the descending Holy Spirit, first onto Christ (Mark 1:10), and then onto His followers (Acts 2:2-4; 10:44-45). Therefore, the Church, which is the Bride of Christ (Revelation 21:2, 9) is identified and preserved by and through the work of the Holy Spirit in the body (1 Corinthians 12:11; Revelation 22:17). As it is, since the Holy Spirit guides and leads us to truth through conviction (John 16:13; Galatians 5:17), we will attract opposition, and persecution, as well as hate, just as happened to our Lord Christ (Matthew 5:10; Luke 6:22; John 15:18-20; Hebrews 12:3).

The Holy Spirit is what sets Christianity apart from other religions, and also sets apart sects within Christianity. Like John the Baptist, the identification or distinguishing mark of a true Christian is through the Holy Spirit (Luke 1:15; Ephesians 5:18), for the Scripture says: “You, however, are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, since the Spirit of God lives in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him” (Romans 8:9).

No truth concerning Christ is by instinct, but through the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:3). Let us examine from the Scriptures how truth is discerned from deception and sinful behaviour that leads to confusion:
  • By faith, Peter discerned through the Holy Spirit that Jesus was the Christ (Matthew 16:17).
  • Nathanael discerned the truth through the Holy Spirit and acknowledged Jesus to be the Son of God (John 1:49).
  • Through discernment and faith, Paul observed that a man had faith to be healed (Acts 14:7-10). If Paul had disobeyed the Holy Spirit, as we often do, that man would not have been healed.
  • Again, Paul through faith and the spirit of discernment by the Holy Spirit knew that Elymas the sorcerer was a servant of Satan spreading sinful living; he therefore rebuked him (with the result of Elymas becoming blind) (Acts 13:8-11).
  • Paul, being troubled by the fortune-telling spirit in a slave girl, obeyed the Holy Spirit and rebuked the spirit in the girl, with the result that she was delivered from the demonic spirit of fortune-telling (Acts 16:17-19).
  • The Apostle Peter discerned by the Holy Spirit that Ananias and Sapphira were lying, with the result of their lies being death (Acts 5:1-10).
  • Simon the sorcerer wanted to pay a sum of money for the gift of the Holy Spirit. Peter discerned that the man was full of bitterness and sin, and he admonished him to repent (Acts 8:18-23).
  • In his bold speech to the Sanhedrin, Stephen discerned the stubbornness and unbelief of the high priests and the teachers of the law for resisting the Holy Spirit, and he boldly shared the truthful testimony of Christ’ Lordship (Acts 7:51-56).
Consequently, the message of the Cross is demonstrated through the Lord’s resurrection and the persecutions, insults and attacks that the Church of Christ must endure (Acts 4:2-20). This is the message of the Holy Spirit. Using threats, persecutions, and death, Satan and his henchmen try to stop and silence the messengers carrying this message of Truth. However, the truth of human salvation and righteous living in Christ cannot be silenced (Acts 20:22; Matthew 24:14), “but the word of the Lord endures forever” (1 Peter 1:25).

What Hinders Discernment?

The Christian message comes by the Holy Spirit, revealing God’s righteousness and judgments. This Truth has invited countless attacks and hatred against Christendom and the Lord (John 15:18; 16:8-11). Let us consider how believers generally lack discernment, which has resulted in divisions, confusion, and even loss of faith for some Christians. We fail to discern God’s guidance as a result of the following:
  • Lacking knowledge of the Word of God (Hosea 4:6). Laziness to read the Bible for ourselves results in us just believing any wind of doctrine. Discernment comes through our knowledge of the Word (1 Peter 2:2).
  • Willful sinning and disobedience: this comes as a result of selfish desires and desire to please others, instead of seeking to please God (Romans 13:14).
  • Not praying faithfully: If Christians are not praying, their spiritual condition is easily discerned through their ungodly struggles, complaints, and bearing bad fruits (Matthew 26:41; 1 Thessalonians 5:17-18).
  • Bad company: this influences our behavior, character and morals, also compromises our discernment (1 Corinthians 15:33).
  • Reliance on self and others: This weakens our faith in God (Jeremiah 17:5; Proverbs 3:5-6).
  • Wrong motives: Being selfish and looking out for only one’s interest instead of others’ interests compromises the good message of the gospel and Christ’s love (Philippians 2:4; 21).
We have had many people asking us to get a word for them from the Lord. In His wisdom, the Lord never singled out churches; instead, He encourages believers to have a spirit of discernment in judging all messages supposedly from Him. The Lord knows that many churches preach from the Bible to favor certain beliefs, and they also teach from human traditions to preserve their denominational history and/or cultural practices. Some churches are openly encouraging sin; if we tolerate this, we fail to discern and “… come out of her my people…” (Revelation 18:4 NIV). We must therefore be holy, set apart for God and separate from the path of error, aligning our motives and faith in obedience to the Lord. The Lord said that a person who is selfish at heart is easily tempted (James 1:14) and a selfish person overlooks truth. We can discern such a person’s motives by their love for the Lord or their selfish and worldly lifestyle.

Practical Experiences on How to Discern Spirits

Recently, during a home fellowship, a brother asserted that as Christians we do not need to read the whole Bible, but can only lean on a few passages. This teaching is in line with what some popular televangelists say, asserting that they have not read the whole Bible or don’t need to, and boasting how they have written so many books, many of them bestsellers. This teaching is clearly false. The Bible says "This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success" (Joshua 1:8). Many people agree that the New Testament is important for Christians, but the Lord Jesus Christ, who is the fulfillment of the Law, also made reference to teachings in the Old Testament (Matthew 4:1-11). The disciples also mentioned teachings from the Old Testament in the Gospels, Book of Acts, Paul’s epistles, as well as the writings of Peter, James, John and Jude. The Book of Hebrews, for example, mentions several “Heroes of Faith” from the Old Testament (Hebrews 11:1-13). Without a discerning Spirit, and being ignorant of Scriptures in the whole Bible, it is easy for a believer to be deceived and be ignorant of the Truth.

In a further experience, two women shared with me that they were suffering from severe backache problems, and a result they were dependent on pain killer medications to relieve their suffering. I therefore offered to pray for them individually. As I prayed, I felt a heaviness in me; it felt like a dark shadow falling on me, and instantly I knew these women did not have faith. As a result, some years have come and gone, and they are still not healed.

Also, a few months ago, my wife accidentally dropped her cellphone in a taxi. She was reminded constantly by the Holy Spirit to pick it, but she repeatedly ignored Him. She eventually forgot to pick it up, and she lost it. Later, in a message to her, the Lord told my wife that she did not obey the Holy Spirit when He reminded her to pick up the cell phone.

Similarly, the Lord said that if a Christian does not acknowledge Him in all they do, they will miss the opportunity to discern His warnings. I had a Christian friend who desperately needed something, and he was even willing to pay to get it. He decided not to involve the Lord in his plans and went of in pursuit of this thing. After having paid, he failed to obtain it,  and not heeding the Holy spirit's warning he regretted for leaving the Lord aside. He later came back to me confessing his mistakes. This is the unfortunate mistake many Christians get involved make; they exclude the Lord from their plans, and when the plans fail they blame the Lord. If they would have prayed asking the Lord to help them, they would not have invited disaster.

The Lord have always been gracious in granting me discernment whenever I prayed asking for His will in any matter. However, if I acted on other people's advice without following His counsel, I ended up sitting with the cost, regret and emotional scars. Therefore, discernment is like a light to our conscience. Discernment manifests to warn Christians against the dangers of sin and error. You will know if you ignored discernment when you feel confused, unsettled, and fearful, having no peace. I encourage you brethren, don't pursue a matter with such feelings of unease; a discerning Christian will retreat and pray until they find peace.

In conclusion, Brother and Sisters in Christ, please get serious and earnestly pray for and desire discernment! Many Christians are caught up in spiritual deceptions because they have decided to ignore or quench the Holy Spirit (1 Thessalonians 5:19), lack faith and are doubtful of Truth (Matthew 21:21) and don’t study the Bible for themselves (Acts 17:11; 2 Timothy 2:15). If you have been carried away by false doctrine, or are in a state of confusion as to what to believe, and desire to know, believe and follow God’s Truth, you may start by praying this Prayer of Sincere Repentance. For any questions or comments on this article or our ministry, please contact us.

May the Truth of Christ set you free, and may His grace and peace be yours in abundance.

Brother Glenn and Preparing for the Kingdom Ministry Team.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Spirit of Anger

“Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret—it leads only to evil” (Psalm 37:8 NIV).

“But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips” (Colossians 3:8).

Have you been angry with someone or over something? Are you struggling to overcome anger and be set free to forgive?  This past week, the Lord reminded me almost on a daily bases to write an article on the spirit of anger. This is a very important subject which is often overlooked from the pulpit. At one time or another in our lives, we have all been victims of anger, be it from our parents, relatives, peers or people we came across (while driving, for example). The emotional scars left by anger often last a lifetime. While it is true that we are often troubled by such memories, the Scriptures urge us to “… not remember the past events, pay no attention to things of old” (Isaiah 43:18 HCSB).

Our article is not a complete study on anger; instead we seek to draw Biblical attention on how this emotion affects our relationship with God and prevents us from living the holy life that God expects of us (James 1:19-20 NIV). While on some occasions it might be acceptable to be angry, for example about social injustices or oppression directed at the weak and helpless, such as children (Mark 10:14), we must be very careful not to sin in whatever actions we choose to take and the words we use, since the Bible clearly warns us, "Be angry, and do not sin..." (Psalm 4:4 NKJV).

Sources of Anger

Anger is mainly caused either by activities outside our control, or as a result of our own actions, emotions and insecurities (Genesis 27:41; Genesis 31:36). Below we discuss only some of the main sources of anger. We need to stress that whatever level of anger there is, it unsettles relations. Just like laughter, anger is an emotion we all possess, and how we expresses it depends on the forces of restraint within us. These forces may be based on our level of respect or dislike towards the person whom we are directing our anger. We often show a strong and unrestrained anger if we harbor grudges or have hatred for someone (Genesis 34:25-27; 37:4; 2 Samuel 13:22, 29).

In emphasis, the Lord told us that the greatest source of anger is a loveless heart, and someone who does not have love has hatred; where hatred breeds, there is no peace (1 John 4:20). Therefore, the ‘happiness’ or satisfaction that an angry person receives is the hurt he or she inflicts onto his victim. A few months ago, I was directed by the Lord in a message to observe how impatience and complaining (Numbers 14:2-3) resulted in someone hurling insults and offensive remarks, climaxing into raging anger. The Lord further showed me that by the time a person resorts to insults, hatred has already made its appearance and possessed his or her heart. Consequently, love is subdued because we have allowed evil to overcome us (Romans 12:21; Luke 13:14).

In addition, another motivating factor for anger is greed. In the Bible, we see how Ahab was driven by selfishness and greed, and caused the death of Naboth, in order to lay his hands on Naboth’s well-groomed vineyard (1 Kings 21:1-16). It might be prudent to recall as well how King David’s lust resulted in the murder of Uriah (2 Samuel 11:1-15). King Asa's pride and lack of humility to repent from his sin of trusting in man instead of God led him to throw prophet Hanani in prison and also mistreat his own people (2 Chronicles 16:10).

Another source of anger is jealousy. We witness in the Bible how Cain made poor choices, disobeyed God and ended up murdering his brother, Abel, in a jealous rage (Genesis 4:8). We are warned not to allow the bad fruit of the sinful nature to rule our relationship with God and others (Galatians 5:19-20).

In the light of all these divisive vices, I have personally witnessed how friends and family relationships were destroyed leading to an almost chain reaction of re-occurrence in the lives of the victims. Anger simply breeds more anger and may lead to revenge, and if we allow anger to dominate and control us, the reward is self-destruction, self-pity and alienation (Proverbs 22:24-25).

Christians Hating One Another

There is a perceived hatred of one another in Christendom, which can be attributed partly to divisions in the body and some other factors. Some of the main causes of this include insubordination to church leadership, refusal to heed correction, ignorance of the Scriptures, bias, and lack of love. Brethren, while it is true that the Lord is forgiving and full of love, He is deeply hurt when we sin purposely. This can be likened to a husband or wife who deliberately commits adultery to hurt the other person. The Lord requires us to be faithful, pure, and holy (1 Peter 1:16; Ephesians 5:25-27; Revelation 19:7-9). When you hurt our fellow brethren in Christ and call them names, you only heap judgment on yourself! I beseech you in Jesus name, please stop hating and hurting your brothers and sisters in Christ! The Lord's coming is very NEAR, and He has told us this several times. The signs of the times, as well as fulfillment of Biblical prophecy, testify to this fact. So, please repent from your hateful and unforgiving feelings before it's too late! "Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts" (Psalm 95:7-8; Hebrews 3:7-8,15; 4:7).

In our personal experiences with the Lord, He warned many of us against the destructiveness of anger. Many of my fellow brethren and I were cautioned by the Lord for rebuking others angrily. The Lord said that such a rebuke meted out in anger is not based on true motives, but ill feelings of anger and revenge. Therefore, correction to our children or others is best meted out and appreciated when we respond in a spirit of love and peace. The Lord warns Christians to be careful with their words to their fellow brethren (Matthew 5:22; 1 Peter 3:15; Matthew 12:36-37). He says we are not called to scatter, but to build and gather with Him (Matthew 12:30). As we mentioned in the Harmful Words and Vision of Two Raptures article, being loud when talking or rebuking can come across as offensive and rude (Proverbs 10:19; Proverbs 15:1).

Some Christians have a refined but evil way of telling others off in arrogance and with a hateful spirit if they are being corrected. Their hateful feelings are clearly manifested when they try by all means to dissociate themselves with those who corrected them. Admittedly, we might have differences on the application of certain Scriptures; however, our response must be in love, prayer and forgiveness. It is common practice among Christians today to ignore, dislike and avoid those who differ with them or who don’t attend their church. The truth is, we show no love to one another simply because we don’t attend or belong to the same church organisation; that is hypocrisy, since we are members of the same BODY. Therefore, love should be shown and given indiscriminately to all including our enemies (Romans 12:4-5), for in Christ we are unified in love (Ephesians 4:5)!

As we mentioned above, every negative vice finds its climax in anger. Through our work in the ministry, we often found ourselves at the receiving end of bitter and vitriolic bursts of anger from people who are self-righteous and who despise correction. In some of these experiences, when I responded kindly and in a gentle spirit I would receive grace from the Lord with Him personally rebuking and punishing those who offended me, but if I retaliated trying to defend myself the Lord would not be pleased with me instead giving me a rebuke for my irreverence (Romans 12:19).

God’s Righteous Anger

The Lord's anger is righteous and it comes controlled devoid of malice (1 Kings 21:29). He measures punishment equal or equivalent to the offence, and it is always with a spirit of mercy (Hebrews 8:12; Micah 7:19). The Lord is angry when we sin against Him and don't trust in His deliverance (Psalm 78:17-31). He was angry and wanted to destroy Aaron and the children of Israel when they worshiped the golden calf, but when Moses interceded for them, He relented (Exodus 32:7-14; Deuteronomy 9:19-20). The Lord was angry with the Israelites when they complained in their tents against the Lord, not trusting Him to fight for them in their journey to the promised land, even though He had helped them and performed great signs and wonders in Egypt (Deuteronomy 1:26-36). They were not walking by faith, but by sight (Hebrews 11:6). We provoke God to anger when refuse to turn from our evil ways, fail to follow His commandments, choose to live worldly, or leave Him to serve idols (2 Kings 17:16-18; Deuteronomy 9:16; 1 Kings 11:9). We can all escape God’s wrath by believing in and following Jesus Christ, for the Word says “He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him” (John 3:36).

Just like King Asa, King Uzziah was angry because of pride, and he was unfaithful to the Lord. He forcefully entered the temple to burn incense to the Lord, even after he was warned by the priests. He became angry and he was subsequently punished by the Lord: “Then Uzziah became furious; and he had a censer in his hand to burn incense. And while he was angry with the priests, leprosy broke out on his forehead, before the priests in the house of the Lord, beside the incense altar” (2 Chronicles 26:19).

How to Control and Overcome Anger

Rightfully, there is simply no one way to control the spirit of anger in us. We must employ all available Biblical mechanisms. Provocation leads to anger, but if we answer gently and wisely we would avoid quarrels (Proverbs 15:1). There are factors within us and on the outside that might help us control anger.

On the inside we control and overcome the spirit of anger through love, forgiveness, kindness, gentleness, patience, self-control and humility to mention but a few (1 Corinthians 13:4-8). In contrast, we fuel anger through, lusts, greed, jealousy, pride, unforgiveness, hatred and a loveless heart (Galatians 5:19-21). Let me reiterate that an unforgiving person has no peace, and anger rules that person’s spirit. We have peace when we forgive (Ephesians 4:32). We mention "loveless heart" because the Lord mentioned this in a stunning rebuke to someone; the Lord said that person had no love in him; instead, he allowed an evil hatred to take root and to control him. Brethren, if there is anyone of you who struggles to love our Lord Jesus and others around you (Matthew 22:36-40), I strongly encourage you to STUDY your BIBLE, pray often daily, spending time in the Lord's Presence, and He will make a spirit of love grow within you, for He is love (1 John 4:8). However, you must have faith and a burning desire for this precious fruit (Romans 5:5; John 14:14).

On the outside we may control anger through silence (1 Peter 2:23). Being loud-mouthed invites trouble; we must control our mouths to experience peace as opposed to stirring anger (James 1:26). We invite trouble when we gossip and live disobediently to the Lord’s teachings. When we spend our time excessively away from the Lord (television, movies, gaming, etc.) and dwell elsewhere in worldliness and pleasures, we build up anger and become targets of Satan, who is ready to deposit evil and hatred (1 Peter 5:8). Diplomatically, anger is also diffused when warring parties respect the mediating role of a facilitator who proved trustworthy; Christ is that mediator. Some people may need to fast and pray for deliverance from the spirit of anger (Matthew 17:21).

Let us trust in God's grace to deliver us from His coming wrath. Salvation is priceless through the blood of Christ, so let anger not hinder us entering into God’s rest (Hebrews 4:3). As children of God, we are called to be peacemakers so that we may rest in the Lord daily (Matthew 5:9). “Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience” (Hebrews 4:11). Remember, anger leads to irresponsible action into a punishable offense. “In your anger do not sin: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry…” (Ephesians 4:26). To overcome anger, the Scriptural wisdom on overcoming anxiety and having peace equally applies: "Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:6-7).

Finally, the Bible teaches us that "The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control" (Galatians 5:22-23 ESV). And "Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things" (1 Corinthians 13:4-7). So, if you have been walking in complaints and anger, being a troubled soul engaging in contentions, you surely have no love but have a spirit of hatred. If you  have such hateful feelings as evident through fighting, jealousy,fits of anger, etc., please repent earnestly and without delay, forgive those who hurt you (Matthew 6:15; Matthew 18:21-22; Mark 11:26 NKJV), and choose to walk in Christ's perfect love which casts out all fear (1 John 4:18). If you would like to accept Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, please get started by praying this suggested Prayer of Sincere Repentance.

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Grace to You in Abundance,
Brother Glenn and Preparing For the Kingdom Team.