Monday, July 20, 2015

Authority and Controlling Others

“When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice; But when a wicked man rules, the people groan.”(Proverbs 29:2 NKJV).

Let’s face it: there are many weak-willed people around us who need continuous guidance and correction (2 Timothy 3:6-7). In my observation, such people always need the approval of others in order to be more comfortable with their decisions and choices. This has unfortunately led to mistreatment of such people financially, emotionally and spiritually.

Brethren, we must also remember that life have been so design to allow for the measure of control and authority (Genesis 1:28; 3:16). The Lord told me that how we exercise this duty is largely dependent on how we would like to be treated if we place ourselves in the other's position (Matthew 7:12) and we must also remember that what we dish out to others that same will be returned to us (Matthew 7:2; Luke 6:38). The solution is, exercise control and authority fairly, with love, respect and kindness and not out of feelings of hatred and malice (James 2:1-4) considering that our Judge, Christ will give us the same measure we used in our dealings with people created in His image, BE CAREFUL HOW YOU TREAT OTHERS!

Short Vision of Undue Coercion

In a very short vision this morning (July 20, 2015), I was shown a young lady speaking on her cell phone with a man. I could not hear their conversation, but the Lord made me understand that she was blackmailing him. What I further understood is that she was angrily demanding of him to do something for her and if he would not, she would take some action against him.  The Lord said we should include this type of power play in our article, and that many Christians are guilty of this kind of sin. This is the power game people play over others, and it leads to people doing things under duress, pressure and distress.

Brethren, the Lord has shown us that when He ministered to people, He never demanded their respect or gratitude; instead He allowed people to respond spontaneously (Luke 17:11-18). This kind of action has nothing to do with a contractual obligation; the Lord is referring to things we do for others freely without expecting something in return (Luke 6:35; Matthew 5:25).

In this article, we are going look at authority and controlling others from a Biblical perspective. I will also share how the Lord responded to brethren who demanded submission while trying to control others. All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Jesus Christ (Matthew 28:18). He is the good shepherd and by His authority, He died and rose again that we may have eternal life (John 10:14-18).

God’s Teaching on Family Authority

In an address to the Corinthians Church, the apostle Paul rebuked and discouraged the brethren against those who were going about using their influence of Scriptural knowledge to control how people should live in relation to their commitment to the Lord (1 Corinthians 9:12). Likewise, there are some marriage relationships where a spouse deems themselves stronger spiritually; they may try to control how the other spouse should pray, read the Bible, and witness for example. Although these are good things to encourage one another in, it can become toilsome to the person being “forced” to do it (2 Corinthians 9:7). In other words, the conviction from the Holy Spirit as a result of the gospel should govern us to discern the way of truth instead of someone else burdening it upon us (John 16:13).

Briefly, to every truly born again Christian, the truth of the Bible holds authority over our lives and conscience. What I mean by this is that we simply submit our will to the Lord and consciously follow and allow His Word to control our actions and attitudes, while strongly believing by faith that such a submission leads to God’s approval and ultimately His blessings (Deuteronomy 28:1-2; Psalm 119:133). Since God is Supreme and superior to us, He educates our conscience through His Word and teaches us to submit to Him and others whom He placed over us for our well-being (Isaiah 48:18). In terms of authority, God has given parents authority over their children (Ephesians 6:1-4; Deuteronomy 5:16) not to abuse them but to respectfully teach them in godly living. Here we see God giving parents authority with a limitation to exercise Godly values of love and respect (Titus 2:4).

Furthermore, the authority of the husband in the family relationship should be one of love and respect to both children and wife (Ephesians 5:25). Brethren, sadly we as fathers abuse this right of authority from God by being too controlling and demanding unjustified submission. On this matter, judge for yourself where you unjustly demand things to be done for you when you could possibly have done it yourself and still demand the right of authority; are you not abusing both your wife and God’s Word? Similarly, there are wives who are outright rebellious by disregarding God’s teaching on the family's unity (Ephesians 5:22-23). From experience, this kind of attitude destroys the family’s unity, love and respect. This is what the Lord says makes for a divided home which will not stand (Mark 3:25; Proverbs 14:1); if we were to examine the relationship of every kind of problem in the house, wouldn’t the marriage hold together when we apply Scripture (Colossians 1:17)? I know that this kind of teaching is unacceptable to a wife who is influenced by the modern worldly view; but for those who enjoy a happy family unit, it is a crown of God’s blessing which overflows in peace in that house (Haggai 2:9). Although human quarrels start as a result of an individual’s self-interest (James 4:1), family feuds are avoided and destroyed by submission to God’s authority and in this case, Scriptural instruction (2 Timothy 3:16).

Controlling Others is Sinful

The apostle Paul had been given authority, but it was for building up the body of Christ, not for tearing it down (1 Corinthians 13:10). As we know, it is easy to exercise control over those under our authority. This might be our congregation, family or work subordinates with authority given by our position. God is interested in exactly how fairly and honestly we exercise our authority and our attitude in guiding others. The apostle Paul warned employers not to mistreat their workers, but to treat them with respect considering that the Lord exercises an authority of love and respect over us (Ephesians 5:25; Colossians 4:1). In emphasis, Christian employers are even admonished to treat their fellow brethren who work for them with Godly love as brothers in Christ (Philemon 1:16-17).

In addressing a problem of controlling others in our ministry, some time ago the Lord Jesus Christ showed Charis in a vision how someone in our ministry was busy controlling the finances and the way the other person should live. This message and teaching from the Lord was very sobering as He taught us not to take advantage of those who live under our authority by using their ignorance to benefit us. In other words, this sister was guilty of making the other person believe and do only what she said, and this was gross abuse which displeased the Lord. It is very unjust and humanly wicked to use the fear or respect others have for us to exploit them for our benefit. In a separate message to someone else, the Lord both warned and encouraged a brother not to fear people, as this would open the door for controlling others, or others to control you. For the Lord's sake, we are called to submit to every human authority and respect those over us (1 Peter 2:13; 1 Timothy 6:1-2). Therefore, I am not encouraging rebellion here, but people will often take advantage when we are too submissive due to our fear of them. When we allow such people to rule over us, we create a burden that may restrict and limit us, as well as blind us to truth.

God Gives Us Free Will

We have had quite a few people requesting us to ask the Lord how they should help our ministry or others; in a gentle message to them, the Lord admonished them to listen to the Holy Spirit for He would guide them in making a decision that is void of pressure and demand (Exodus 25:2; 2 Corinthians 9:7). Scripturally, while our Lord Jesus Christ is Lord over all the human race (John 17:2), He never exercises undue authority over us unless we were wrong and intent on harming others (Romans 14:9; Daniel 3:16). The enemy often uses deception to mislead people, but he also uses coercion, manipulation, and force (Job 1:13-19; 2:7; Matthew 27:40; Matthew 16:22-23). The Lord, however, has given us free will, and He operates with us on the principle of choices and consequences (Deuteronomy 30:19-20; Joshua 24:15; Galatians 6:7-8). The Lord Jesus Himself, as we mentioned previously, never demanded of people to follow Him; He simply shared with us Truth and the choice to either obey Him and enter everlasting life, or follow Satan's deceptions and suffer the consequences (Matthew 5:20; 7:13-14; 10:32-33; Matthew 18:8-9; John 3:3; Revelation 21:6-8).

In conclusion, I am a product of Bible school teaching and I warmly appreciate the culture of Biblical learning which well-intentioned men and women of God teach. However, the problem with some Bible institutions is that they teach formulas that promote financial gain and the pursuit of prestige through the pastoral qualification. The end result of such a student is only Biblical knowledge and demand for submission to them with NO fruit of the Spirit. Submission to our spiritual leaders is good, but we are equally warned to discern truth and motives and apply what is good (1 Thessalonians 5:12, 21). In this regard, our submission is to the Word  of God that our leaders proclaim; we must give them respect but NOT submission to their will for our lives (Matthew 23:3). Our total submission in word, will and deed should only be to Christ.

Have you been wrongly using your authority to control others? Have you been neglecting to allow the Holy Spirit to guide you in making decisions and allow the Word of God to control your actions and attitudes? If so, please repent. To accept Jesus Christ, who has authority to give you eternal life (John 17:2; John 5:21; John 3:16), as your Lord and Saviour, please begin by praying this Prayer of Sincere Repentance. For any questions or comments on this article or our ministry, please contact us.

Blessed Grace,

Brother Glenn and Preparing for The Kingdom Ministry Team

Monday, July 6, 2015

Blaming God When Bad Things Happen – Part II

But indeed, O man, who are you to reply against God? Will the thing formed say to him who formed it, “Why have you made me like this?” (Romans 9:20 NKJV)

Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap (Galatians 6:7 NKJV).

From the onset, I would like to state that this article is not an attempt to answer life's difficult questions, such as "why do the wicked or worldly people seem to do well?" (Job 21:7; Jeremiah 12:1), nor do we say we sit on God’s seat to answer on His behalf (Isaiah 1:18). We merely write from our own convictions and experiences, as well as the understanding that God imparts in us through the Holy Spirit. In our first article dealing with this subject of "Blaming God When Bad Things Happen", we identified Satan as the prime source of all human problems. In this week’s article, however, we will show from Scripture how people consciously choose to go against God’s counsel and reap the consequences of their choices.

Herein, we will show you that God since creation and the curse (Genesis 3:17) has allowed creation to continue in it's course of direction, and only with His intervention for the good of humanity does it change course (Joshua 10:13; Exodus 14:21). Therefore, life as we know does not promise a smooth path (John 16:33). This we know from Scripture came about after man was ejected out of Eden; the garden of God Almighty and the place of exceeding abundance. The world of suffering was the price of disobedience. The Garden of Eden is located in God's realm, for it is nowhere to be found in this earth, for there are spiritual beings guarding it (Genesis 3:23-24). This is where the tree of life is in the New Jerusalem, in God's new creation where there will be no curse (Revelation 22:3). Therefore, this order of life in this earth has been ordained to run its course until the dispensation of a new order or creation (Revelation 21:5). This will be the renewal that the Lord spoke about in a vision to me recently (see Vision of the Coming Renewal). Our ignorance into the order of events as God ordained it has caused much confusion and faith shipwreck of countless Christians. The Lord delivered this message to me after many hours of prayer and I trust this will help us grow in our faith and confidence in our Lord's truth, grace and love. Remember, if God allowed His Son our Lord Jesus Christ to suffer so much for us to be re-united with Him, then this is serious love for He intends to save us from the curse! 

God’s Care for Man

Brethren, out of His love for humanity, God has always acted in the best interest of people (Genesis 9:3; 1 Timothy 6:17). The evidence of His great love for the human race has been well demonstrated in the Creation account in that after He created everything, He gave it all to humanity to eat, enjoy and rule over all the work of His hands (Genesis 1:26). Even after the first people disobeyed God (Genesis 3:6-8) and faced His judgment, He still showed care for their well-being (Genesis 3:21).  As a result of man's sin, "...the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs..." (Romans 8:22). So, when people ask, "why is there increase in natural disasters these days?", we know this "groaning" is because the Lord’s coming is near. The Bible forewarns that there will be increased distress, signs from heaven, and fearful events including bad weather (Daniel 12:1; Mark 13:8; Luke 21:11) and natural disasters. Nature, as we know it today, has been in rebellion against humanity with various seasons and operating against human will and wishes. In other words, that perfect balance between man and nature was changed when God cursed the ground (Genesis 3:18; 8:22).

As it is, this move brought about limitations and sufferings (Genesis 3:18). Although God had lived and walked with men (Genesis 3:8-10), humanity’s problems were further increased when God withdrew from sinful man (Genesis 6:3) as wickedness increased (Genesis 6:5-7). The Bible says there is fullness of Joy in the Presence of the Lord (Psalm 16:11), but after the curse and God’s withdrawal from humanity, this fullness and joy was replaced with pain, suffering and a rebellious nature. In other words, the curse is in perpetual obedience to the command of God who alone has power to reverse it (Romans 8:20; Genesis 3:14-19). However, God in His infinite wisdom elects to intervene upon request to avert a potentially destructive situation in our favour (Jonah 1:11-15; Matthew 8:23-27). This is what we are experiencing today. Grace is by God’s choice (Romans 9:15) and He intervenes in testing situations (Acts 12:11) and grants requests to save and deliver all who ask and believe in Him (John 6:37; Psalm 91:15).

It is noteworthy for us not to see God as working against us. In the fall of humanity and creation, He is teaching us to appreciate Him and to show us that those who put their trust in Him have Him as security (Isaiah 46:4; 43:2; Deuteronomy 31:6). There are many enemies of truth and this includes Christians who blame God for all bad things. If we have faith in a Just and Loving God, then it is unthinkable to accuse Him of perpetuating trouble, when He promises to help us when we call on Him (Psalm 50:15; Job 34:10).

Therefore, God’s counsel to the human race after the dispensation of the curse required man to fight and overcome the sinful and rebellious nature (Genesis 4:7). Humanity was left weak when God withdrew His Spirit, leaving man to fight against sin, which sets man’s conscience a light with guilt, and where guilt is there is an absence of peace. As we know, it is with God alone that we enjoy enduring peace (Isaiah 26:3; Exodus 33:14), so an absence of God results in hardships and emotional distress (1 Samuel 16:14). The good news is that even though we may face suffering even until death (Revelation 2:10), God has already fulfilled His promise to give us victory over Satan (Genesis 3:15), by sending His Only Begotten Son, Jesus Christ to save us and "crush" Satan (John 3:16; Romans 16:20). The reality of our choice should be to obey the Lord because we know that despite of all the challenges we face, only He has Sovereign power over everything, thus showing creations dependence on Him for existence (Romans 8:20-22).

What Does God Expect from Us?

One day while I was out witnessing and handing out Gospel tracts, an elderly man I witnessed to asked me what God really wants from us (the human race). I told him that God is calling upon all men everywhere to repent, meaning forsaking sin and preparing for His Kingdom in anticipation of the final judgment (Acts 17:30-31). The man nodded at me in acknowledgment and went away thanking me.

Brethren, kindly allow me to clarify that God does not hold people to ransom so that He changes the course of things only when we turn to Him, i.e. the Lord does not "force" us to do his will. Instead, He gives us choices and consequences (Deuteronomy 30:15, 19; Joshua 24:15) - for example the people of Nineveh chose to repent from their sins and the Lord forgave them and relented from the punishment planned for them . Additionally, from our experience, when we have asked the Lord to come to our rescue, He often allows us to go through that situation and just changes the outcome in our favour (Daniel 3:24-27; 6:21-23). For example, a family might go through the painful experience of having their property repossessed or foreclosed by the bank, but God may use this situation as a means to get them out of financial debt (Proverbs 22:7). The point we are making is that NO ONE (and that included our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ) is exempt from facing various troubles (James 1:2; 1 Peter 1:6). However, in today’s society many people, including Christians, are made to believe that they do not have to go through the pain of creation's curse and that Christ took all pains for us. Yes He did, in terms of God’s judgement, but not in terms of what I call ‘earthly tax’ which is the cup of suffering (Job 14:1). Contrary to popular teachings that Christians should have bliss and ease in this world (prosperity, wealth and health, etc.), the Bible categorically warns us that, as followers of Christ, in this world we will face hardships, sufferings, tribulations, trials, etc., but we should endure and persevere to the very end (John 16:33; Romans 5:3-5; 8:18; 1 Peter 4:12-19; 5:10; James 1:2-4; 2 Corinthians 4:8-10; Revelation 21:4).

Furthermore, like I alluded above, we cannot escape facing stressful challenges, but we can rejoice and experience peace when we allow God in our lives to go with us through our troubles which makes it so enjoyable and rewarding (Exodus 14:21-31; Psalm 23:4). In other words, God is saying there is a cup of trouble stirred up for each one of us in life, but we will see and experience His love and care for us when we go with Him like the bold and fearless Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego (Daniel 3:16-18; Ecclesiastes 9:12; Psalm 55:22; Isaiah 43:2).

Disobedience Reverses God’s Plan for Us

To those of us who are covenanted to God through the born-again experience, He punishes or chastens us in an act of love to draw us back to Him (Proverbs 3:12; Hebrews 12:6-7). We must draw a distinction between the punishment of God and the consequences of sin fueled by Satan’s deceptions. In life, we all suffer the consequences of the sinful choices we made and God is willing to forgive us and help us heal through the bad choices we made. Now blaming Him when we rebelliously or ignorantly made a bad decision after ample warning is outright unjust, selfish and foolish. The Lord never works against us (the human race). If He initiated the plan of salvation, giving us the weapons and tools to secure a victorious experience, how is it justifiable to charge Him with wrong doing (Genesis 18:25-36)? We may say He allowed things to happen to us, but blaming Him as the cause of our situation is blasphemous and unappreciative of life’s experience. Like Shadrach and his friends, together with David, Daniel and others, He allows painful experiences to give us the benefit of His love, joy and ever present care. Would we know and appreciate it when there was nothing to prove His love and existence?

Scripturally, we learn that God does not lie or change His counsels, purposes, and decrees (Numbers 23:19) nor does He change His plans for us (Jeremiah 29:11). It is us, in our defiance or disobedience to His will, who alter our course of direction (1 Kings 11:37-38; 1 Kings 14:7-11). In this account, King Jeroboam was given a promise by God that he and his sons would have a lasting dynasty to the kingship of Israel if he would obey the Lord. He sinned and lost the promise, which resulted in judgment against him. We read that King Saul could not maintain a faithful relationship with God, and he lost out on God’s promises and blessings too! (1 Samuel 15:10-26). Similarly, when the Israelites failed to obey God’s commands, He allowed the other nations to inflict hardship on them and to prevail against them (Psalm 78:59; Judges 3:7-11).

In conclusion, have you been blaming God regarding your dire situation? Why not call on Him instead? Put your trust in Him and allow the joy of His concern for you to bring you through the trap of uncertainty in life (Ecclesiastes 7:14). The LORD is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love (Exodus 34:6; Psalm 145:8). So:
Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; Let him return to the Lord, and He will have mercy on him; And to our God, for He will abundantly pardon  (Isaiah 55:7).
If you are not born again yet and would like receive Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, here is a Prayer of Sincere Repentance. For any questions or comments on this article or our ministry, please contact us.

Blessed Grace in Enduring Peace,

Brother Glenn and Preparing for The Kingdom Ministry Team.