Monday, August 31, 2015

The Committed Christian

“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20 NIV).

Before we proceed with this week's article, we would like to share the vision below.

Vision of the Rapture train READY for departure

Given to Charis on August 25, 2015

"I had a short rapture vision this morning. I saw myself with members of my family at a beautiful neat, tidy and organised train station. There were countless people waiting in a long queue ready to purchase train tickets. I heard a voice of a young lady (I knew it was an angel of the Lord) announcing that there was room for only 5 more people on the train. The ticket attendant seemed to know the people whom the 5 seats were reserved for. I heard some people begging for a seat, particularly one lady who stood close by me. I saw some people trying to force their way through, but they could not succeed; the ticket attendant and the security personnel knew of all the plans these people were trying to make in order to get into the train." This was the end of the vision.

Brief interpretation

In this simple vision, the Lord is telling us that the rapture train is READY for departure and that there is room only for the 5 wise virgins (Matthew 25:7-13). The 5 signifies those who are ready and who will have their seats reserved. Those who are not ready will moan and beg to get on board to no avail. The Lord is pleading with you, BE READY! The Rapture train is already on the station ready for departure, REPENT and get right with God, booking your ticket to Heaven today!

A Commitment by Choice and Intent

True Christianity encourages a faith-based relationship with the Lord (1 Kings 8:61). As most of us would agree, in order to succeed, a relationship requires mutual respect and genuine love for the other person. Innately, no one wants to be taken advantage of in any given relationship, whether in marriage, business or other friendly relationships. In other words, we all expect the other party to fulfill their obligations and promises in order for the relationship to be sustained. Even in temporary relationships, such as business contracts or political agreements, failure by either party in the relationship to honor obligations often results in the termination of the relationship.

In our message today, our focus relates to the choice we made to have a relationship with the Lord, when we said to the Him: “Here I am, I have come to do your will” (Hebrews 10:9 NIV). When we commit to the Lord, our choice should never be based on "trying out" Christianity because the previous experience we had with religion could not help us find meaning or fulfillment in life. If we come to Christ with such an attitude or motive, we would not be happy, and sooner or later we would leave and try out another experience. This is typical of some people who have abandoned their faith in the Lord and joined other religions. This might seem right, but I doubt the initial choice was based on a true conviction and need for repentance. In an experience related to me recently, a brother told me that he responded to the call of the Lord out of a deep conviction fueled by a willingness to be freed from his old way of life.

Briefly, I heard someone very sincere and faithful in the Lord say to me: "Brother, before I exercised my choice of accepting the Lord to rule my life, I had the opportunity of reading the entire New Testament Bible, familiarizing myself with the various requirements, rewards and punishments. After satisfying myself with the content of the new life through the New Testament and comparing the direction and experiences of my old life, and after many days of inner conflict, I surrendered to the Lord. Therefore, my choice was informed and I had to embrace all good and bad things lined up for me in this path and this served as a revelation to my faith. As I grew deeper into my commitment to Christ, I learned truth through my many mistakes, and each time, I discovered how narrow my own virtues were leading me deeper in my need for the Lord."

In my opinion, the brother relating this experience knew what he was doing and he willingly and bravely allowed the Lord to transform him resulting in an appreciation and more of the Lord.

Test of Commitment

Biblically, no relationship with God is without test (Deuteronomy 8:2). In the beginning of his relationship with God, Abraham’s faith and obedience was tested (Genesis 22:1) and through this his commitment was revealed. In acceptance of His commitment to His ministry and the work of the cross, our Lord Jesus allowed Satan’s test and completed His work leaving us an example of commitment (John 17:4; 1 Peter 2:21). Furthermore, in his zeal and commitment to the Lord, Paul the apostle, boldly declared and said, “Why are you weeping and breaking my heart? I am ready not only to be bound, but also to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus” (Acts 21:13).

Generally, within the Bible itself and without having time to refer to external historical sources, Christianity has a richly decorated history of brave and bold men and women of God who defied Kings and rulers, hardships and persecution in their commitment to God and in His commitment to them God rescued and upheld their cause (Daniel 3:16-18; Esther 4:15-16; Romans 8:35). Unlike today’s Christians, these warriors of our faith did not allow the discouragement of challenges as a licence to complain and show bitterness. In contrast, they encouraged themselves on God’s deliverance because their refusal to bow to pressure shows their commitment (Daniel 6:20-22). Please allow me to share this brief experience, a few weeks into my new job in April 2010 after the Lord blessed me with the job He promised me (see Please Evangelize article), I complained to Him that the job was not what I expected due to the work demands and pressures. My complaints displeased the Lord and He told me to appreciate what I have and that complaining is an expression of bad spiritual fruit (Hebrews 12:28; Philippians 2:14-15). We often expect things coming from God to be easy and that is where we are wrong. The children of Israel were given and promised the Land of milk and honey but though obedience to God and at the cost of blood and sweat they received it (Numbers 33:53; Joshua 6:1-21; 7:3-12). When David was promised and anointed by God to take the Kingship from Saul, was his ascend to the throne easy? No! He faced endless troubles and persecution from Saul (1 Samuel 23:7-24). Likewise, the enemy is waging war against the children of God (Revelation 12:17; 1 Peter 5:8). However, as we obey God's Word and "Make every effort" to enter through the narrow gate, we will overcome him and receive God's promises (Luke 13:24; Revelation 12:11; Revelation 2:7).

The Christian message is being undermined by those who proposes God as ‘give me’ and ‘fix it for me” and the moment people realize that it was after all not that easy, they quit and forsake their initial commitment (Luke 8:13). Having been a Christian for more than 20 years, I admit that I tried different things with God to get His attention. These were amongst others, complaints, getting angry with God for not doing something for me, selfish crying, and refusing to obey by not reading my Bible or praying. Through all these manipulative acts, my gain was just frustration that left me at the cross roads of my commitment. And moments after finding courage I would remind myself of the humility and faith others before me expressed and endured and this served as my encouragement to endure with a humble attitude (James 4:1-10).

Unswervingly Giving of Ourselves to God

There are some noteworthy people in the Bible who were commended for following the Lord God wholeheartedly without swerving to the left or right. Among them is King Josiah (2 Chronicles 34:2) and King David (1 Kings 14:8; 1 Kings 15:5). As determined believers, they sought the Lord, humbled themselves at His word, repented of their sins, purged the land of wickedness and idolatry, fought God's battles, cared about the well-being of God's temple, and trusted God by looking to Him even in hardship (2 Chronicles 34:3-28; 2 Samuel; Psalm 51).

As a testimony, we have some ministry members who had set a meeting to get together for fellowship and prayer. Before their meeting, some of their family members got sick with a cold and had not fully recovered by the day they planned to meet. In their commitment, they did not to use this excuse to miss out on fellowship with the King of Kings who said, “For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst" (Matthew 18:20). Hence, they were blessed with God’s presence and encouraged to meet to pray together again. Likewise, there are many believers in Christ who show commitment to the Lord by seeking Him and serving Him despite discouragements, trials, or fear. They do it out of obedience to God and this shows love which is pleasing to God (1 John 5:2).

Therefore, in order to learn and receive from God, we are required to give ourselves wholly to His service and Lordship; in other words, our will in submission to His Will (Matthew 26:42; John 5:30). Our will becomes subject to His and His priorities become our interest. Knowing the heart and intentions of man, if we attempt to use God for personal gain, He renders our efforts fruitless and without reward (Matthew 6:33). This is surely not a pleasing teaching to the world and sadly, many blaspheme the Lord as being a dictator. If we only follow the world's self-centered way of "self-actualization", we stand to lose your life, but we gain it when we sacrifice it in obedience to Christ (Mark 8:35). Fundamentally, the Lord has only given the human race two choices: the broad way to destruction and the narrow road to life (Matthew 7:13-14; Deuteronomy 30:19-20). If we love life and the absolute good of life as promised by the Lord (John 3:16-17), there is hope of peace and eternal life. Living in commitment to God’s will always disagrees with rules given by man; but as it is, human rules seek freedom and independence from God (1 Samuel 8:6; Numbers 14:4; Exodus 32:4). As Christians, we have been given an opportunity to commit to a cause leading to eternal life. Let us therefore embrace it without complaints for this choice leads to a satisfying life of joy and peace (Romans 2:7).

In conclusion, have you been falling short of your commitment to God through compromise, complaints, excuses, or trials? In the Bible, Paul and Barnabas focused on “strengthening the disciples and encouraging them to remain true to the faith", declaring boldly that: “We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God,” (Acts 14:22). So, be encouraged not to let any trials or discouragements hinder you from your dedication to the Lord Jesus.

If you would like to receive Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, please begin by praying this Prayer of Sincere Repentance. For any questions or comments on this article or our ministry, please contact us.

Blessed Commitment,

Brother Glenn and Preparing for the Kingdom Ministry Team.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Bad Company Corrupts Good Character

Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character” (1 Corinthians 15:33).

The above Scriptural warning is vastly overlooked and ignored by countless Christians who think that this and other Scriptures does not apply to them. Well, we have testimony and personal experience on the danger of ignoring Scriptural admonitions which are meant to protect and safeguard our salvation. However, before we share those experiences, let us briefly examine Scriptural teaching on this important matter. As always, we encourage all our readers to carefully examine the referenced Scripture verses as they augment and qualify our message.

God’s Message to Christians in Managing Relations with Unbelievers and Doubters

Essentially, human relationships are built on the premise of interaction with others, and this joins us together into a group or community that shares common interests. As a group, we influence or are being influenced by others into accepting ideas, behaviours and attitudes (Exodus 23:32-33). Right at the beginning of establishing a relationship with the children of Israel, the Lord gave them His Word to influence their lifestyle and to separate them from the rest of the other peoples around them (Leviticus 18:30; Deuteronomy 18:9-13). Thus the hatred, ridicule and rejection Christians are experiencing today is largely due by this call by the Lord to "Therefore, COME OUT FROM THEIR MIDST AND BE SEPARATE" says the Lord. "AND DO NOT TOUCH WHAT IS UNCLEAN; And I will welcome you." And I will be a father to you, And you shall be sons and daughters to Me," Says the Lord Almighty" (2 Corinthians 6:17-18 NASB).

Given the above  Bible references, don’t you think that the Lord foretold our hardship and persecution when He said, "Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword…”? (Matthew 10:34-36 NIV). As it is, these Scriptures concern the value of our relationships with others. In other words, would we value our relationship with others whether friend or relative by conforming to the way of life they follow more than what Christ called us to? (Matthew 10:37-39).

Therefore, it is abundantly clear from Scripture that our choice of company must always be pleasing to God. Exactly why? The answer is twofold. First is to protect us from being corrupted through temptations leading to lusts and from evil desires coming through the company we keep (2 Corinthians 6:14; 1 Corinthians 15:33; 2 Peter 2:7-10). Being a holy priesthood, we should proclaim His praises, holy living must be uncompromising for this is our only guarantee to Heaven (1 Peter 2:9-12; Hebrews 12:14). On the day of reckoning, many Christians will discover that their slothful and disobedient worldly living resulted in a Christ-less eternity. The second reason is to set us apart (being holy) as belonging to God for His glory and as objects of His mercy (Romans 9:22; Deuteronomy 10:8-9). Scripturally, from the earlier times we see God accepting people into a relationship with Him based on their choice of obedience (Genesis 4:4-7). As we know, The Lord God gave each person freedom to choose and He desired that we choose to follow His will. He says: “… I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live…” (Ezekiel 33:11). If we remain obedient, He sets us apart for His glory (Romans 8:30).

Should We Vilify Those Outside of Our Fellowship?

Truly, vilifying those who are not in our fellowship group is not a directive we received from the Lord. In contrast, He commanded us to pray and love those who persecute us (Luke 6:28; Matthew 5:44). Furthermore, our works of service and our attitude of obedience towards the Lord should serve as an encouragement to unbelievers leading them to salvation (1 Peter 3:15-17). Evidently, as Christians it’s inevitable that we have to work with people who are not Christians in all spheres of life. Being a light shining in the darkness, we cannot hide our light from non-Christians; we will have to face and show them what we’ve got (Ephesians 5:8-11).

Often, Christians don’t know how to behave in the company of non-Christians. Some have reportedly said that they feel strange, unwelcomed, and rejected by lukewarm Christians and unbelievers because of their faith in the Lord. Brethren, we must remember that it is not us they have a problem with! They dislike the new life of obedience to the Lord that we follow. Inasmuch as it is tormenting to share a company with non-committed Christians because of their sometimes unwelcoming insults to our faith, this is a test to our faith where we should not allow offensive insults to weaken our confidence in Christ (Hebrews 10:35-36). In terms of interaction, keep the company to achieve shared objectives, especially work or community-related things, but without compromising your faith. Where necessary, give reasons for your refusal to comply, especially when it concerns things that go against the Lord’s will (Exodus 23:2). We must not imitate evil, even if we are pressured to sin (3 John 1:11). As Christians, our association in sharing a company with the unsaved is to reveal Christ by sharing our testimony, and to display through our behaviour the lifestyle He called us to (1 Peter 2:12; Colossians 4:5-6).

Lone Christians

Naturally, all human life is made up of community and through birth, individual members are entering this community resulting in social cohesion. Through this, we learn and develop certain social skills to help us live better and peacefully with others (Genesis 11:1-6). Therefore, God intended that we have social company, but according to His choice for our well-being (2 Corinthians 6:14; Hebrews 10:25). This ministry is not encouraging "lone ranger Christianity"! In essence Scripturally, when we do meet, we get the opportunity to benefit from the gifts for our edification and growth in the Lord (1 Peter 4:10). In joining a Christian grouping, we need discernment from the Holy Spirit to help us identify like-minded believers (Philippians 2:2-4; 1 Peter 3:8), regardless of their social class or standing in society (Romans 12:16).

A brother, who was in the habit of always excluding himself from fellow Christians, was rebuked by the  Lord  for dissociating himself from the brotherhood. Sadly, and with love, this brother was in the habit of always rejecting calls by fellow Christian brethren to join them in sharing the gospel and his testimony. This habit grieved the Lord and He gave us a message to encourage the brother to make use of opportunities to meet and benefit from the gifts from others while seizing the opportunity to preach the gospel. We should share whether we like it or not; our command is to preach in season and out of season (2 Timothy 4:2).

Brief Testimony on The Influence of Worldly Company on Christians

A few months ago, we wrote extensively and by a command from the Lord on the negative influences of some social networking activity (refer to Social Media: Godliness or Worldliness? article).In this message, we pointed out how some Christians and non-Christians use this technology platform as a tool to work for Satan by gossiping, flirting resulting in adultery, fornication, and avoiding fellowship with God through prayer and Bible reading. Brethren, the testimony we are sharing below is not to expose, or slander but the Lord permitted that we share it to show other Christians the dangers of our disobedience and stubbornness in going against Scriptural warnings. When we fail to heed Scriptural warnings, we will have to live with the consequences of our bad choices. After all, bad company does corrupt good habits!

Having said this, we had a sister in our fellowship who served the Lord very faithfully and this was echoed by the Lord Himself through messages He let us give her. In her faithfulness, she never skipped our fellowships as commanded by the Lord. However, she loved the company of her worldly friends who shared their lustful appetite with her, eventually influencing her to have similar desires. She did her best to stay up very late in social networking sites. Upon discovering, as a ministry who loves her, we cautioned her on the dangers of such activity and the resulting consequences. Sadly, these were ignored! The Lord issued her several messages warning her that Satan was using unsaved people to destroy her life (Proverbs 13:20). Yes, these were the exact words of the Lord. Through subsequent messages from the Lord, He warned her and through these messages we could understand that she was involved in a relationship with an unsaved man, which later developed into a sexual affair. As it is, we lovingly confronted her, showing how this had ruined her relationship with the Lord and that she should repent and serve faithfully. Brethren, this sin of infidelity that the sister committed against the Lord hurt Him very much, for Charis could feel His pain when He gave her a message for this sister saying, My daughter Joyce has hurt this ministry, her children and herself and she lost her innocence before Me, and I will punish her for this”. As a result of this message from the Lord, we were equally hurt as members of this ministry. In our concern that this might affect others, and after providing Godly counsel to this sister which she rejected, she decided to quit our ministry. Beloved, I can tell you this ministry has suffered the leaving of many people, who could not endure living holy. For when the Lord exposes our sinful living, it is for us to choose either to repent and secure eternal life in Heaven, or continue sinning eventually resulting in His judgements (Hebrews 12:6). I choose the Lord’s discipline!

Similarly, the Lord warned a young man against lustful behaviour and worldly ways. This man kept his worldly friends and social networking habits alive while serving the Lord. This led him to question the Lord’s teaching on separation from worldliness, including worldly music. My wife and I counseled him briefly, explaining to him the will of the Lord and the things He warned us against. In his anger with us and the Lord for correcting him, he walked out on us, choosing worldliness. In a prophetic vision and before we knew he would quit, the Lord showed Charis how this young man was angry, wrinkled and untidily dressed (signifying his spiritual condition and deterioration through sin), saying, Behold, the worldly man!”.

In conclusion, I would like to share a brief testimony. Dear brethren, please bear in mind that I am not sharing this to elevate myself or portray myself better than you, but to encourage you -- especially those of you who feel weak in faith and need courage. Earlier on in my walk with the Lord, about 24 years ago, I suffered many insults and abuse at the hands of both colleagues and friends, for choosing to avoid their company after they tried to win me back into sinful fellowship with them. In their quest to humiliate me, when they would see me I would hear some of my colleagues laughing loudly while looking at me. However, with God’s help I kept sincerity to my faith and showed love despite their ridicule. I once overheard a conversation one of them was having with some of the others where they were comparing religions and the conduct of some ‘Christians’ in relation to others. To my surprise, I was blessed to hear him saying in agreement that my faith was real and my obedience matched what the Bible teaches. After all, through the humiliating experience I had endured, they recognised the Lord Jesus in me and they also seemed to have changed their perception about me. From then on, I enjoyed peace and respect from them. The Lord knows how to use our obedience to draw people to Him to save (Proverbs 16:7).

Finally, have you been allowing yourself to hang out with and be wrongly influenced by bad company? Have you failed to be a light in obedience to Christ by showing good behaviour, bearing good fruit, and serving as an encouragement so others can be saved (1 Peter 3:15-17)? Remember, we are in the world but not of the world and therefore we must not do as they do. The Bible says, Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the Lord,and who meditates on his law day and night. That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither—whatever they do prospers (Psalm 1:1-3).

If you would like to receive Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, 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 in Peaceful Company,

Brother Glenn.