Monday, August 8, 2016

Godly Manners

“Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and always to be gentle toward everyone” (Titus 3:1-2 NIV).

“Love each other as Christian brothers [and sisters]. Show respect for each other” (Romans 12:10 NLV).

Beloved brethren, Paul says it is not burdensome for him to repeat certain truths as it serves to keep us focused on the Lord Jesus (Philippians 3:1). Neither is it burdensome to us to repeat ourselves on some things. After prayer, the Lord led us to share this message with you for this week. Please strive to please the Lord and do His will.

Now for our message, growing up, do you remember being taught and reminded to have “good manners” and often being rebuked or punished for having “bad manners”? Manners are habits and ways of conscience, of behaving and treating others. In other words, manners are rules that govern human relations in society. How we relate to others is not just a matter of personality, but a matter of manners as well. Many Christians think that the Lord is not mindful about their manners; well they are wrong! The Lord considers us as rude if we display bad manners and such behavior does not represent Christ well amongst both believers and unbelievers (Matthew 5:13-16). There will always be a touch of love in our attitudes when we have acted out of a gentle spirit.

How Manners are Influenced

It is common knowledge that life is coloured with  diversities among which are human personalities just as there are different stars in the sky. While some of our manners are as a result of our upbringing, there are those traits which leave a unique footprint on our personalities, which determines our temperament. What is noteworthy is that we also acquire or adopt some manners and behaviors from other people. From experience, as we get exposed to more people, we adopt and adapt in conformity which leaves an emotional 'tattoo' on our personalities. This 'tattoo' could be reactive, forming habits and patterns of behaviour. Often, bad manners are attributed to a number of things such as ignorance of other's cultures, lack of education, religious background and even family background (racial, tribal, economic, etc.). While these might be good and valid points to get away with uncivilized manners, generally we still stand to reap embarrassment, loss of respect from other people for acting or not acting in a prescribed way. It is true that there is no prescribed universal textbook that teaches good manners, the dominant culture will dictate the acceptable norm of behaviour. These values, which are readily being practiced in a given society are meant for the common good of all. Empirically, our modern legal systems also contribute to our mannerism which is often in the interest of balancing individuals' rights and responsibilities.

In this brief work, our intention is not to write a thesis on manners as dictated by world cultures, but  proper manners according to what the Bible teaches. While not disregarding the countless rules in human society which are for the mutual benefit of everybody that encourages respect for others, the manners the Bible encourage a change of attitude which must be rooted in the Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, in this work, we are directly addressing Christians who are familiar with the Scriptures and the Bible's way of life. The message of the Bible has a universal appeal, and it breaks the cultural divide, uniting us through the truth of the cross, Christ' s love and humility (1 Peter 3:8). Against this Scriptural background, culture should not negatively impact our Christ-like values, for “there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28).

The Influences of Sin in Society

The appeal for conformity to common behavior has never been stronger in human society than in today’s technological environment. The advent of Social Media has led to widespread conformity to worldliness, which has resulted in the corruption of good and Godly manners (Romans 12:2; 1 Corinthians 15:33). We certainly don’t lament the good intentions someone may have had when they introduced new technology to make life easier. What we are addressing is the spirit that breathes laziness and bad attitudes which corrupted society. The widespread rebelliousness in society today comes through various channels like the television, gaming, Internet, etc. (Refer to Life Through Experiences with the Lord Jesus Christ - Part 1 article).

Additionally, however good we might appear professionally and to the world, if our manner do not represent Christ, our efforts are but useless and without eternal values. In Christ, however, we must show our submission to Him and that is the drawing power others will see and desire. Therefore, as the Lord exemplified kindness, gentleness and humility we are equally to possesses these qualities in abundance and these are lofty attitudes to have in serving others (2 Peter 2:8; Matthew 11:29).

Generally, our manners are being influenced by the type of relationship we enjoy with other people. for instance if a person has a relationship with us or otherwise has a strong influence on us or in society, we are likely to respond to them respectfully while they are likely to return the favour. Being Christian, displaying such mannerism does not issue from the heart but from fear for men.  The Bible clearly warns us against showing favoritism or partiality (James 2:2-4). A truly God-fearing Christian will at all times and consciously “Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God, honor the [leaders]” (1 Peter 2:17).

Examples of Bad Manners

As a reminder, in our article Life Through Experiences With The Lord Jesus Christ - Part II, we related how the Lord in messages to us issued corrections to some brethren for not saying “Please” and “Thank You” (1 Thessalonians 5:18). By His corrections, the Lord expressed His disapproval if we are in the habit of yelling and screaming at other people including at our children. This, He confirmed does not come from a spirit of love. We must also remind you that making ugly faces and gestures are ungodly and offensive. It is a known fact that our outward expressions show the condition of our hearts. We are to exude the fruit of the Spirit (Luke 16:14; Galatians 5:22-23).

It is courteous to gently ask for something instead of being demanding. Further below we discuss a few Christian values which are a must for all Christians.
  • Disrespecting older people. We recall a rebuke by the Lord to a brother who did not show proper respect to an elderly person. We are admonished by the Word of God to "Stand up in the presence of the aged, show respect for the elderly and revere your God. I am the Lord" (Leviticus 19:32). Also, the Bible says: Do not rebuke an older man harshly, but exhort him as if he were your father. Treat younger men as brothers” (1 Timothy 5:1).
  • Slandering, complaining, and saying evil things about parents (Exodus 21:17; Leviticus 20:9; Jude 1:16).The Word clearly says “Cursed is anyone who dishonors their father or mother” (Deuteronomy 27:16).
  • Willfully being slow to reconcile and forgive others.  Neither should we give in to unforgiveness or being easily offended; the Bible admonishes us to be kind, to forgive and seek reconciliation (Matthew 5:24; 6:15; Mark 11:25; Ephesians 4:32).
  • Not being cheerful or smiling while witnessing or talking to people. A cheerful attitude is 'felt'  (Proverbs 15:13; Proverbs 18:24 NKJV), even while talking on the phone! Smiling is impactful and welcoming. 
  • Not appreciating what others do for you (Colossians 3:15). Those who are appreciative, the Lord is opening 'new' doors for more blessings (Luke 17:17-20).
  • Interrupting conversations without excusing yourself (saying “excuse me”) and 'cutting' people off while they are still talking (Proverbs 10:19; Proverbs 21:23; James 1:19).
  • Not greeting or being hospitable to guests (1 Peter 4:9). Many young people nowadays are in a habit of not coming out of their rooms to say hello to guests – they stay in their rooms sleeping, surfing the internet, or being busy playing on an electronic gadget, all while ignoring the presence of guests. This is an unwelcoming and rude attitude! Good hosts and their children have learned to say hello and also offer a refreshment even if it is just water, juice, or tea (Hebrews 13:2). Abraham and Sarah showed good manners in this area when they welcomed the Lord and two angels who visited them (Genesis 18). The Bible encourages us: “Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it” (Hebrews 13:2). And as a warning, by not being hospitable, we could be rejecting the Lord Jesus, and consequently missing out entering heaven (Matthew 25:41-43).
  • Taking, using, or demanding things, instead of asking (Luke 11:9-10).
  • What further impacts our manners is leaving of clothes, books, and other items scattered around our homes and others' homes when we visit (Romans 12:11 KJV; Proverbs 18:9). Refer to the article on Cleanliness and Tidiness.
  • Not asking others to excuse us when leaving their presence is being rude and not communicating timeously when you have a change of plans is equally disrespectful.
  • Always being late; not Being on Time.
  • Allowing children to interrupt events (meals, praying, worship, etc.). One of the things parents are to teach children in training them up in the way they should go is good manners (Proverbs 22:6).
  • At a buffet or shared meal, overloading your plate and not thinking about others. Refer to the article on the Spirit of Gluttony. It is better to take less and return for seconds after everyone has been served (Luke 14:8).
We are not advocating the above as new rules, laws, or commandments. As Christians, we understand that we should be a light to shine in this dark world; good manners help promote peace and give believers a chance to be a true light and draw attention to Christ (Matthew 5:14-16), for “God is not the author of confusion (disorder) but of peace” (1 Corinthians 14:33).

Good Manners are Inviting

As a boy, I had a friend John who grew up in a loveless home. He would whisper to me how he longed to live in a normal home where there was love. All he knew was strife, quarrels and no peace. He once related to me how he used his kindness and respectful behavior to survive his hostile environment. Personally, I have known him to be a very kindhearted person who always operated in the background, not forward or being impetuous however he was noticed for his quiet and obedient spirit. By some of the habits he had, I observed how some of the bad things he was exposed to ‘choked’ him and influenced him to conform ungodly behaviour. however, when was in his early 20's he wisely accepted the Lord and the impact of his relationship with the Lord brought about a great change in his life. Sadly though, he recalled that some of his peers exploited his good nature for personal gain and mistook his kindness for stupidity.

Remember, the Lord delights in a well-mannered Christian. I have heard the Lord giving very kind and heart-warming words to individuals who consistently showed good manners that displayed a Bible influenced behaviour. We would also like to add that the Lord is displeased with Christians who treat others disrespectfully and as if they are nothing (Matthew 23:12; Luke 15:25-30; Luke 18:11-12). This behavior hurts the God of Heaven, and He will exercise judgement on their behalf (Exodus 22:23). Do to others as you would have them do to you (Luke 6:31).

Finally, even in this age of rapid technological evolution where people are wise in their own eyes, and good morals are increasingly being looked down upon while bad morals are widely being accepted (Isaiah 5:20-21), please remain holy (set part for the Lord) (1 Peter 1:16) in all your interactions, whether “offline” or “online”. “Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals”” (1 Corinthians 15:33).

Have you been displaying bad manners, hurting others, and therefore dishonoring them while displeasing God? If so, seek the Lord in repentance and ask Him to change your heart and attitude. If you would like to accept Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, please get started by praying this Prayer of Sincere Repentance.

For any questions or comments on this article or our ministry, please contact us.

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

Monday, August 1, 2016

Faith to Believe

But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him (Hebrews 11:6 NKJV).

The Bible tells us that having faith, that is, believing and trusting God without any reservations, is an important prerequisite for receiving anything from God. The Bible further reminds us that as we believe, so it shall be according to our faith.

He touched their eyes, saying, “According to your faith let it be to you” (Matthew 9:29 NKJV).

And whatever things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive” (Matthew 21:22 NKJV).

On the other hand, expressing doubt in God, who is the I AM THAT I AM (Exodus 3:14), and not believing that with Him all things are possible (Matthew 19:26), amounts to a lack of faith and we have no hope of expecting any results to our prayers. As much as faith is a gift from God, it is a choice that we should exercise and we know God is very pleased with a person who has faith in Him (Hebrews 11:6).

Before you express contentment and complacency to this message, please read on you stand to gain. Faith is an active consciousness about God, His will and His love for us. In essence we all need a message of faith, because no amount of faith is ever going to be enough (Luke 17:5). The absence of faith brings about hopelessness, doubt and spiritual stagnation. Therefore, we should keep growing in our faith! The Bible says that as diverse as the various members of the body are for the good of the whole body, the gifts are likewise diversified for our edification and maturity in our faith (1 Corinthians 12:4-5; Ephesians 4:11-13). There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord (1 Corinthians 12:4-5 NKJV).

And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ… (Ephesians 4:11-13 NKJV).

Having faith in God involves acquiring Bible knowledge to know Him better and to trust Him to protect us against our fears and insecurities. It is indeed true that the message about faith is ancient, going as far back as the first generation of our faith fathers (Hebrews 11:4). True faith is not simply based on a confession and a belief in a Supreme Being. No! Such faith is casual and hopelessly fruitless because it is neither based on a relationship nor does it give us a fear for God or bring about a change in our character. In other words, simply believing in God, without being committed to obey Him, is not enough; even the demons believe—and tremble with terror and trepidation! (James 2:19).

A living faith is active, fruitful and rewardful (Hebrews 11:6). However, a mere confession of faith without an active commitment holds no hope or reward. Therefore, this kind of faith is equivalent to atheism because an atheist says: “I do not believe in the existence of a God, so I am not going to obey Him or do anything He requires from me!” A person with such an attitude is self-seeking and without hope. An atheist hopes that there is no God so that they may not be held accountable for their sins and lack of faith. For us, faith connects us to a relationship, commitment, and responsibility towards God (James 2:14-26). The Bible clearly says that without faith it is impossible to please God. If we come to God, we must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who diligently seek Him (Hebrews 11:6).

Let us consider an example of faith in the Bible and especially Joseph's experience in Egypt (Genesis 41). When Joseph interpreted Pharaoh’s dream, being pagan, Pharaoh believed Joseph’s message and acted by faith allowing Joseph to implement decisions to save Egypt from starvation, and he subsequently set Joseph in charge over all the land of Egypt (Genesis 41:37-41). Unlike today, if Pharaoh doubted Joseph’s message it would have led to the destruction of Egypt and the then known world (Genesis 41:53-57).

Faith for Salvation

How does faith leading to salvation come about? Well the Bible says first, faith comes by hearing the Word of God (Romans 10:17) and when we hear the Word of God, conviction from the Holy Spirit brings about a godly sorrow and repentance, and God who knows our hearts grants us grace to accept His gift of faith and forgiveness (Ephesians 2:8; 2 Corinthians 7:10). By the preceding Scriptures, we noted that no one inherits faith automatically, the Word of God is the foundation (Mark 4:15; Jeremiah 31:30; Ezekiel 18:20; Galatians 6:5). Therefore, by accepting God’s gift of faith through the invitation of the Word, this led to our salvation. So on our part, we are required to wait for our redemption while we exercise or work on our faith, which is ‘proof’ of God’s Presence in us by our transformed ways and renewed inner intentions (Colossians 3:10; (Romans 12:2; John 15:8; 2 Corinthians 5:17; 1 John 3:9)).

Faith for Ministry

As for ministry work, we learn from the Bible that God does the calling of people and anoints them accordingly to do the work He needs done (Exodus 31:1-6; Leviticus 8:12; John 1:32; Acts 13:2). In other words, God does the calling and the anointing, which determines the kind of work we are called to do. Over the years, many believers have written to us asking how they could recognize the call of God upon their lives. Still others even asked that we inquire from the Lord on their behalf and ask Him about their ministry callings. In some instances, because of their lack of faith, some people that we inquired for from the Lord did not even realize that the work they were currently doing in the body was from Him! In response to them, the Lord rebuked them for their lack of faith and discernment. Often, some of these believers thought that the Lord would have said that He called them to be prophets or evangelists, thinking only of the official ministry offices. The Lord told us that no ministry activity in the body of Christ is inferior to the other ministry gifts, all work for Him enjoys the same importance (1 Corinthians 12:21). Scripturally, the Lord designed the various gifts to serve just one purpose, and that is to “equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:12-13). When we are involved in any type of ministry work, we do so for His sake (Luke 9:50; 12:34).

Sadly, there are some brethren who are still waiting for the ‘formal’ anointing by the laying on of hands by their leaders before they can accept and acknowledge the calling of God in their lives. They will not do ministry work unless they are acknowledged or ‘ordained’ and ‘blessed’ by some church leader. This kind of attitude gives the impression that there is no formal conviction from the Holy Spirit to witness or pray for someone when God presents such an opportunity. Unlike the disciples who had to wait for the gift of the Holy Spirit, when we become born again we receive the gift of the Holy Spirit and as we commit our ways to the Lord, He sets us apart for ministry work (Acts 13:2). It is evident from the Scriptures that God does the calling (1 Samuel 3:4), and when He calls, He also anoints us for the task we are called for (Galatians 1:11-12). It is true, the laying on of hands for ministry service is a genuine Biblical practice, however, the calling and anointing is not from the pastor or the person ordaining us, but from the Lord Himself (Acts 13:2). With faith and commitment, we have examples of lay believers in Christ who went out preaching the gospel, healing the sick and driving out demons (Luke 9:50; Acts 8:4). Let us therefore not limit the work of the gospel by thinking that only a few “special” or specific people are anointed or ordained for ministry work. The truth is that all believers are called to serve the Lord, but only those who express willingness and obedience to do the Lord’s work operate by faith (Matthew 22:14; Luke 10:1-3; 17-20).

Faith for Deliverance and Provision

Briefly, in our ministry we have had a few people who were unemployed, sick, and struggling with certain personal habits. By praying and enquiring for them from the Lord, He encouraged some of them to have faith and to others who lacked faith He encouraged to fast if they need a breakthrough and deliverance. Being true to His word, after prayer and fasting some have experienced healing from various sicknesses, others deliverance from sinful habits and demons, and the jobless got employed. When we delight in the Lord and our motives are pure and pleasing to Him, we will receive answer to our prayers (Psalm 37:4; Matthew 7:11; John 15:7).

Faith is a Choice

From what we were trying show is that faith is a choice or an option we should exercise daily. When we have a committed faith in the Lord, we choose to disregard the opinions of others and instead concentrate on our obedience to Him (Daniel 6:10).

We are all aware of some religions, sects or even some “Christian” denominations that use fear as a weapon to force or coerce their followers to submit and act in a certain way. As fellow believers and followers of the Lord Jesus Christ, we have learned first-hand from our experiences with Him that He never forces His will upon us (Revelation 3:20). Because, forced obedience does not emanate from faith and love, but from fear.

Briefly, please allow me to share with you an experience I had with the Lord on choosing to have faith. A few months after the Lord showed my daughter Charis that a man closely related to my wife was in hell (we have shared this vision on our website, titled as “Visit to Hell), the Lord in His unfailing mercy heard the pleas of his family and He sent us to go and preach the gospel to them. This was something we desired to do after learning of the man’s eternal fate. The day before going to preach to his family, I experienced a very frustrating day at work, and as such I was so upset to the point that I asked the Lord in prayer to release me from going to preach at his (the man who is in Hell) family’s residence. To my amazement, the Lord did not rebuke me for refusing to go where He had sent me. Instead, as a surprise to my wife, He gently gave my wife a message to go and preach to the man’s family. Being overcame with guilt and shame for being disobedient to the Lord, I immediately repented and told my wife that I would go and preach to the man’s family. Since the message that I was going to preach was very important, the Lord drew many people to our meeting that evening. In acknowledging my obedience, when the Lord visited Charis that evening, He said: Your father preached with the fire of the Holy Spirit!

Praise be to God who gives us His Spirit without limit (John 3:34), we ought to delight in Him and fear Him! (Isaiah 11:2-3). Let us diligently continue to desire further what it means to fear the Lord.

Are you lacking or struggling to have faith in God in any area of your life? We encourage you, don't lose your faith. God has promised and is able to help you through your situation (Isaiah 41:10). If you desire a relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ and faith leading to your salvation,  here is a Prayer of Sincere Repentance
to get you started. 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