Sunday, December 25, 2016

How to Celebrate CHRISTmas


Reflecting on God's Gift to the Human Race

Dear brethren, our reposting of this article is simply serving as a reminder  to cherish the Gift of God to us. Also, we would like to extend a warm and blessed Christmas greeting to all our brethren without exception. Your prayers and support served as a memorable sacrifice to the Lord. Whatever good you did and intended has found true meaning in Heaven (Hebrews 6:10). We pray that the Lord increase His fear in you, and enable you to discern His will. May a Christ-centred conviction leads and render you more faithful in His eternal will in Jesus name. May your faith in the Lord leads you into more fruitful labour (Philippians 1:22) and may your suffering as a Christian reminds you of your pilgrimage in this world (1 Peter 2:11; 4:12-14).

With new year being next week, we would also like to encourage you to read this article http://www.preparingforthekingdom.com/2012_12_01_archive.html 

Our Lord Jesus Christ is God's gift to humanity. We are told, "For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son that whoever believes in Him would not perish but have eternal life" (John 3:16 NIV). The Angel of the Lord said: "Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to YOU; CHRIST the Lord" (Luke 2:11 NIV).

The announcement by the Angel of God about our Lord's earthly birth was met with jubilant songs of praise and honor to God our Heavenly Father (Luke 2:13-14). From this account the heavenly Angels rejoice with man. After having witnessed this glorious scene in a vision, the angels led the shepherds to the town of David to investigate this for themselves and they found it just as the heavenly host proclaimed. This news was meant for all people and the shepherds spread the word, to everyone’s amazement (Luke 2:15-18). As it is, this good news is still available and being proclaimed to all. Some might reason saying, 'why all this fuzz about Christ'? Well, even Heaven made a noise about it! Let us read on.

The 'fuzz' is Christ Jesus came from Heaven into this world to bring us GOOD NEWS about eternal life. He is the light and life of man (John 1:9). Therefore, Him we must celebrate! There is no greater reason to rejoice and celebrate than to thank our Heavenly Father for our Lord Jesus Christ. He is the reason and the cause of our being (Acts 17: 28). We live for Christ and He died and rose again to life to be Lord of our lives (Acts 2:36). We should not celebrate Him just on Christmas day, but every day (Philippians 4:4).
Was Jesus Christ Born on Christmas Day?

Of course the answer is NO! Do we as a family or ministry celebrate Christmas? Yes we do, as unto the Lord. It is about Him. We serve and follow the Lord everyday He gives us but when the world celebrates Christmas we rejoice with them, for it is an opportunity to highlight God's gift to humanity and potentially many people get saved on this day. The message of hope and peace is going out to the saved and the unsaved alike; we celebrate this day and use it to harvest souls. We use all seasons to present God's message of salvation to the human race (2 Timothy 4:2). The world, on the other hand, uses Christmas as a way of cashing in, partying with a touch of idolatry. This practice has led almost the entire world to celebrate Christmas this way. This world as we know it is full of deceptions. What we consider as sacred, the devil through people makes a mockery of the good God intended. The worldly trend set by businesses the world over is now a well-accepted norm and entrenched in society. Our Christian message has been reduced to some fairy tale story of a Santa Claus. This practice is to distract attention from the Christian message of hope and eternal peace and life for humanity.

In the year 2010 a few days before Christmas, Charis asked me if the Lord was born on Christmas day. I told her “no” but she probed me for more answers, which I ignored. I praise the Lord this allowed the Lord to answer her on my behalf, saying "My birthday is not really on Christmas day". This came unexpected. While I knew previously that the Lord was not born on December 25, this served as a confirmation to us that we are called to serve and celebrate our Lord's birth, death and resurrection daily.
The Christmas Tree

Brethren, the Lord recently (November 2014) gave a warning to Charis and brother Glenn. He warned that many people including Christians are in the custom of decorating trees on or before Christmas and that this practice is idolatry (Jeremiah 10:1-4; Ezekiel 20:7). The Lord says, "They decorate a tree to idolize it in their hearts and their focus is not on Me".

Therefore, if you are in the habit of decorating trees on Christmas day and take your children to the market or a park to go see neatly decorated Christmas trees, just know you cause your children to focus on an idol rather than on Christ. This truly is a grand deception the enemy has brought to steal the meaning of Christmas who is Christ our LORD. As we are looking at the Christmas tree, we are idolizing the creation of man instead of looking to God's gift to us, His Son our Lord Jesus Christ.

In conclusion, when the world celebrates Christmas, let us as truly born-again Christians strive to interpret the true meaning of Christmas to them positively. We do so by witnessing to them and celebrating in song and dance, not to worldly tunes but with melodies from the heart in great worship and adoration to our God of life (Psalm 96).

Great peace and love to you all on this day and may the GOOD promises of the Lord find its fulfillment in you in the next coming year in Jesus name.

We would like to extend an invitation to anyone who does not know the Lord Jesus Christ yet, or of you are not born again, to pray our suggested prayer on this link Prayer of Sincere Repentance
by faith and follow the Lord (Matthew 4:19). You may also contact us for any questions or comments about this article or our ministry.

Brother Glenn.

Guarding Your Faith against Outside Influences

Stand Firm

“Be alert. Be firm in the Christian faith. Be courageous and strong” (1 Corinthians 16:13 GWT).

From the onset, influencing another brother or sister with the aim of causing division is ungodly and amounts to gossip. Now this is not the influence we are referring to in this article; we refer to the misrepresentation by some who pretend to be Christian with the aim to deceive. Christians should guard against a veiled gospel the kind that promotes self, prosperity and the pursuit of worldliness. We further encourage the Brotherhood not to take the first flight away from their faith when fear strikes, for this is the first enemy to appear when our faith and courage is measured. STAND FIRM IN FAITH, FACE FEAR AND OVERCOME IT IN JESUS NAME!

As we already acknowledged in previous articles, (How to submit to test and trials and overcome it) living a life of faith in Christ was never meant to be an easy walk (2 Timothy 3:12). Historically, earlier societies used to be simple and largely homogenous. However, urbanization and technological advances have ushered in an exchange of cultures, ideas and influences which have forever changed the way we view things. We are certainly not lamenting or lobbying for the return of the ‘old gone days’ the present has been decreed to continue until the fulfillment of days (Matthew 24:12). Instead, what we are saying is stand firm in your faith because some of these influences have made its way to the Church.

How Fear Limits our Faith

The single greatest stumbling block to our faith is fear, and this is a powerful weapon in the hands of the enemy to both weaken and destroy the Christian faith. Let me qualify this, some Christian’s inability to effectively obey the Lord is restrained by fear (Matthew 14:30; 1 Samuel 15:24). If we are to be more than conquerors, which we so aptly sing and confess then we need to shake off the fears of hardships, persecutions, famine, fear of the sword, death, laziness and demons (Romans 8:35-39). These and many other fears conclude the plight of every person (Job 14:1) and what we need to survive these fears is courageousness and faith (Joshua 1:9; Acts 21:13). When we are clothed with these noble virtues, courage, and faith, we declare a cause of no return against our convictions (Matthew 26:39). This preceding verse is a classic example on how our Lord Jesus Christ bravely accepted the challenge of mockery, suffering, and death in obedience to His calling (John 3:16). By exercising His faith, and knowing the outcome beforehand, the Lord Jesus defied the spirit of fear and overcame its limitations (Revelations 1:18; 1 Corinthians 15:57).

How the World Influences Christians

When the Lord Jesus Christ started speaking to us back in January 2010, He confirmed the Bible message. We should remember that the Lord Jesus is the only faithfulness (Revelations 1:5) and "He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth" (1 Peter 2:22 NIV). This then is our conviction and the voluminous evidence we have which chronicles our experiences with Him has no trace of any departure from the Bible.

Sadly, the Evangelic Church has been deeply influenced by the world system, and the flock needs to be warned against these subtle devices of Satan. The Church and the individual Christian is meant to safe guard the truth and defend the Word of God (1 Peter 3:15). Under no circumstances are we (Christians) to compromise and agree to unjust laws, the promotion of sinful acts or the degrading of people in general (2 John 1:9). It would be wrong to blame the Church entirely for the moral decay in the world today. Regarding the preaching of the Word of God, in any given society, if we failed to preach, and inform the offenders of God’s wrath against their ways we share their guilt (Ezekiel 33:8). However, if our message is being rejected, we are freed from our obligation (Ezekiel 33:9). Factually, it is impossible to force someone against his or her will, and the Lord acknowledges that. When some people walked away from their faith in our ministry after they received a personal message from the Lord, we asked Him we could win those people over, and the Lord simply said we should just encourage them and pray for them.

Outside Influences

About two years ago (2014), I was approached by a man who was selling an insurance policy. As he continued with his sales pitch, I blessed him with a gospel tract, and after receiving it and learning that I am a born again Christian, he changed his approach to persuade me he started saying ‘amen’ to almost everything I said. He started using other Christians as bait saying that many born again Christians are his clients and I should do so also. I politely heard him out, but I rejected his offers.

Furthermore, about ten years ago I was encouraged by a close family member to see a fortune-telling witchdoctor to help me with my problems. By promoting the services and popularity of the fortune-teller, I was given names of long-serving Christians and that in general many Christians are trusting this psychic and her reputation speaks for itself. According to the person who suggested the psychic, this was supposed to be my only escape out of my life of misfortune, which is a lie! Upon inquiry, those ‘Christians’ mentioned had long abandoned their faith; they simply kept the Christian title. Devotion to Christ means being in union with Him (1 Corinthians 16:15-17).

Standing firm in my faith, and knowing my relationship God, and being armed with scriptural knowledge, I rejected these advances with contempt, and I opted to pray myself out of my circumstances which have and is still working today (Philippians 4:6-7).

Often, the world and Satan uses other Christians as admirable ‘trophies’ to influence, deceive and destroy our faith. This is the most explicit form of deception, and it makes a mockery of our faith. Consequently, Christians should remember once they succumb to temptation and the voice of evil, it would not just take a mere confession of sins to make right with God. Instead, the guilt and the spirit that caused that desire needs a body to possess (Ephesians 2:1-3) to enforce that desire. This may usually take on a two-way effect; the instigator provides the ‘bait’ or benefit, and the devil secures the continual indulgence through possession (Romans 6:16). Remember our lead verse and God’s charge to Joshua ‘be strong’ (Joshua 1:9; 1 Corinthians 16:13).

In conclusion, as individual Christians, we are responsible for our faith since God will Judge each one of us according to our ways (Ezekiel 33:20). Let us be careful not to be influenced by the flood of worldliness into being tattooed, the wearing of makeup as promoted by some ‘Christian’ artists and ‘Christian celebrities’ who have the courage to change and influence us. We have a Bible to obey, and conviction to follow, and the world targets such influential Christian leaders to penetrate, confuse and ultimately to render our faith useless. We will, therefore, undoubtedly survive the flood of deception if we are firm in our faith, courage and stand strong in our convictions.

We would like to extend an invitation to anyone who does not know the Lord Jesus Christ yet, or of you are not born again, to pray our suggested prayer on this link Prayer of Sincere Repentance
by faith and follow the Lord (Matthew 4:19). You may also contact us for any questions or comments about this article or our ministry.

Blessed love in faithful obedience to Christ.

Brother Glenn

Monday, December 5, 2016

Christian Tithing

Giving Originated with God

I have decided to rewrite our article on Giving which is essentially a teaching about tithing. Over the years, we received email request from some believers who were confused regarding giving given to the conflicting message they heard. In this work however, we have attempted to answer some of those questions biblically while we incorporated some of the rebukes and teachings we received from the Lord. This work might not be exhaustive, but it touches the fundamental biblical teachings on Christian giving.

Now the Lord Jesus Christ says: “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35 NIV). Giving is fundamentally a human experience and people everywhere practice giving as a way of life. This we do for self-sustenance and posterity. Generally, we learned that the entire ecosystem is arranged on an interdependent basis. In other words, the survival of some species are dependent on the survival of others. Thus, the act of giving and receiving is well entrenched in all of nature. God, being the Ultimate Cause has ordained this arrangement in all natural life. Humans, as rational beings has capacity to craft their own rules are not excluded from God's order of things. For Christians however, the rules to give and share are well versed in the Holy Bible. Let us therefore examine giving from a Biblical point of view. As we progress with our discussion we will discover that some people give for various reasons. Some give for self-honour, (Matthew 6:2-4) others give for gain, (Luke 6:35) while others give to meet a need, (2 Corinthians 8:14).

Biblically, God is portrayed as the Giver of all life and everything needed to give substance to it (Genesis 1:11). As Supreme Ruler and Creator, it was for His own Good pleasure that He ordained the cycle of giving for the perpetual sustenance of all earthly life (Genesis 8:22). Being God and above all things, He gives continuality to everything (Colossians 1:17). Therefore, there is absolutely nothing we as humans can give to God, except our lives as a praise and thanksgiving offering (Hebrews 13:15; 1 Thessalonians 5:18). He is the Sustainer and Giver of everything, “For in Him we live and move and have our being (Acts 17:28; Romans 11:35).” The command, “I GIVE you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds of the air and all the creatures that move on the ground-everything that has the breath of life in it- I GIVE every green plant for food” shows human and animal dependence on God for provision (Genesis 1:29-30). When God said “be fruitful and increase” He set forth procreation through the order of interdependent giving (Genesis 8:17b NIV). The preceding scriptures clearly indicates to us that God instituted giving through dependence on Him. And in His eternal Wisdom, God provided His Word to guide human society, and knowing that people are not like God who is all-sufficient, He instituted giving and different abilities for the overall benefit of the human race. Therefore, the principle of giving has been made painless and pleasantly through the various appetites and incentives God endowed in all life. What I mean is this, plants for example would only produce fruit or seeds (give) because of their appetite for soil, water and sunlight. Also, human appetite to eat is motivated hunger, smell and taste.

Giving to Others to Honour God

Let me stress from the onset, we do not oppose or disapprove giving to the Church, but often we hear sermons on giving, and sadly such giving is solely aimed at filling the coffers of the church. Like we alluded in the love of money article, some greedy ministers discourages some believers to give towards God's work outside their ministry. The New Testament model of giving was for the elevation of  poverty amongst believers (Acts 4:32-35; Luke 3:11). In other words, the money the brethren collected were for the needy.  The Old Testament believers were commanded to tithe and to give towards God’s work (Numbers 7-9) they were however also commanded to give to the poor in various ways (Deuteronomy 24:20) including when people come asking for help (James 2: 14- 16).

These commands were given to individual believers and God being the Judge of all, will ‘give to each person according to what he has done’ (Romans 2:6 NIV). “He who is kind to the poor lends to the Lord, and He will reward him for what he has done” (Proverbs 19:17). Without going into details that contributed to poverty in society, the poor in society serves to display God’s grace and caring love (John 9:3; Romans 9:22). The poor also serves as a test to believers (Matthew 26:11; Galatians 6:9-10). Selfless service to God and people is best presented by our Lord Jesus Christ when He said: “For I was hungry and you gave Me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave Me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited Me in. I needed clothes and you clothed Me, I was sick and you looked after Me. I was in prison and you came to visit Me” (Matthew 25:35-36 NIV). Therefore in terms of giving, the church and the individual Christian believer is God’s gift to the needy of the world

Giving to the Church to Keep the Lights On

Church Giving: The Bible teaches us to give for the needs of the ministry (1 Corinthians 16:1-2; 2 Corinthians 9:7). This kind of giving helps the local church pay whatever bills it might have in their administration of Church work. Additionally, using Church money to maintain expensive buildings and infrastructure while there are needy people in the Church is anti-Christian and immoral (Matthew 25:35-36; James 2:14). This brings us to the question, is it wrong to give (rather then paying since giving should be from the heart 2 Corinthians 9:7) tithes and offerings according to Malachi 3:8-11? Answer No! I am not going to enter into a war of words over this form of giving. If it promotes the work of God to feed the poor and it serves to spread the gospel; please continue tithing it is a giving intended to honor the Lord.

Briefly, in the beginning of our ministry and before we started accepting contributions from any of our members, my wife and I paid for the ministry needs like transport costs, tracts for evangelism work out of our own measly income while we were still tithing at our previous church. We continued with this practice for several months until we asked the Lord, since we have a ministry could we use our tithes to fund our work instead of continue giving to our Church. The Lord gave us permission to use the tithes for His work.You will notice, we only discontinued giving after the Lord's word because our giving was to honor God. The Lord told us that giving in His name is a sacred act and no one should despise giving (Mark 12:44). We have had people writing to us inquiring how and where they should direct their giving and the Lord does not dictate to Christians how and where to give. In our situation, the Lord identified our needs and directed brethren accordingly. It is unbiblical to claim that a believer must only give to their Church of attendance while ignoring the needs of other ministries and the poor in society. The Bible addresses individuals when it speaks on giving hence the emphasise "EACH of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver" (2 Corinthians 9:7). Therefore, what the Lord looks at is the motive or spirit in our giving, whether it is to help the needy, honor God, to control others or is it to bring attention to oneself.  In the beginning of this ministry, some of our members expressed interest to give towards our work and we again asked the Lord through Charis if we should collect tithes. The Lord answered and said that the members may give a contribution to the ministry. He did not emphasize on tithing, because the Lord knows what tithing is from an Old Testament perspective. Generally, tithing in the Old Testament was a command and often some of the tithes were consumed by the same people who gave (Deuteronomy 14:23). Some tithing was for the priest (Numbers 18: 20-21) and while other forms of tithing was reserved for the needy foreigners, orphans and widows amongst the Israelites (Deuteronomy 14:28-29). Therefore, if these three forms of tithing were combined it could be well over 10%. Now, am I saying tithing was instituted in the New Testament? No! The New Testament emphasizes a voluntary giving from the heart which might be more or less than an actual tithe which is 10% of total gross income (1 Corinthians 16:2; 2 Corinthians 9:7).

Furthermore, the Old Testament testifies how God opened the hearts of the Israelites and gave them a command through Moses to give towards the work of God (Exodus 35: 4-29). We would recall that the ministry of Moses and Aaron was limited to the Israelites; this was not a world-wide ministry. The covenant was given for the spiritual needs of the Israelites as God’s chosen people (Deuteronomy 7:6). As we know, their obedience to God's law was for their good (Deuteronomy 5:33; Joshua 1:8). Likewise, the Christian ministry is serving the spiritual interest of the body and not just the needs of the local body as some insists, Paul and the apostles encouraged gifts to be collected for the needy believers and ministries elsewhere so that ‘there should be no poor among you…..’(Deuteronomy 15:4; Galatians 2:10; 1 Corinthians 16:1). Contextually, Old Testament tithing was conducted quite differently than today. Thus, this practice in my opinion was never intended for the church. (Deuteronomy 12:17-19;14:22-23; 14:24-26) and like I allude elsewhere the Lord confirmed with us that believers are to make contributions, meaning voluntary giving from the heart.

Testimonies and Teachings on Giving from the Lord Jesus

I am going to share a few testimonies and actual words the Lord gave many of us on giving. Let me be clear from the onset, some people might think just because they are tithing or contributing large amounts of monies to their Church this will make the Lord overlook their mistakes or disobedience, giving to God for ministry work, the needy or for the ministers of the word is one aspect or area of ministry. The people in the Old Testament gave not just to obey a command, but because the priest ministered before God for their good (Deuteronomy 17:12). Giving as seen through the life and walk of Christ Jesus is an attitude and a service to God from the heart (Ephesians 4:28).

A few years ago, a faithful Christian brother once told me how some Christian brethren ignored his hardships. Not only did they ignore the plight of their needy brother, some even increased their sins  gossiping about the want of their weaker brother in Christ. As long as a brother or sister is doing and continuing His calling in the work of God, there is no need to ignore his or her service in the body by discontinue giving. The question you should ask yourself, is your giving to God or is it driven by your own feelings? The gifts and callings of God has an eternal nature and while the work of the Lord is continuing not just for your benefit but for God's glory, why discontinuing giving so that the gospel message may save souls.

Is it a Good idea to Give to Those Who Have?

“The man with two tunics should share with him who has none, and the one who has food should do the same” (Luke 3: 11). This is an extremely hard truth and we all fail and fall short on this scripture. Let me share a brief testimony, one sister received repeatedly the same message from the Lord over many days as being ‘greedy and selfish’, and this made her feel very uncomfortable and worried because she was essentially a giving person; however after we carefully examined her giving pattern, we noticed that she was giving but to those who have with the view of being 'credited'. In other words, her giving was one of being seen. Since she received praise, her giving did not issue from a Godly motive but for self-elevation. Her giving was to please man instead of God. After prayer the Lord revealed to us that when we give, we should give to those who don’t have and are unable to return the favour and such giving is praise worthy and not a reciprocal giving (Luke 14:12). We should give with discretion and from the heart, cheerfully and the Apostle Paul encouraged. Thus, if you feel oppressed in giving, this is not from God, but guilt. Giving from the heart is peaceful and without compulsion. This giving would normally dominate reason and your reward is peace. I am going to share a testimony about a brother who sinned by envying the Lord’s money.

We had a brother whom we led to the Lord and subsequently he fellowshipped with us for more than a year. Currently, he is still running a very small business of his own, while his wife is working. He approached us and suggested to that we use some of our ministry’s contributions to buy food parcels for him because he wanted to save his own income for his business. I ignored his request at first and though to myself that this was not right, he became insistent and I told him that we would ask the Lord if we should do that. The reply we received from the Lord was shocking. He rebuked this brother saying that he was greedy and selfish and for that the Lord expelled him from our intercessory prayers and witnessing team. Why? Like we said above, contributions to the Lord are sacred and should not be used for selfish and greedy purposes, we can remember that not everybody were allowed to eat of the Lord's tithe to Aaron and his sons (Leviticus 22:1-3). 

Concluding Encouragement

Finally, Brethren do not be deceived by the prosperity teaching, it is demonic and driven by greedy and selfish ministers who promotes worldliness and self-enrichment. They use Scriptures of promises God made to the faithful and obedient believers to catch you. The Lord revealed to us that they feed the people the dessert (a usually sweet course or dish (as of pastry or ice cream) usually served at the end of a meal) of the Word, which are God's promises to enrich themselves and they fail to teach righteousness, purity, holiness and obedience.

In conclusion, the Bible lays the whole truth bare, so please read it and trust its message. Apply its message by faith and honesty, and in truthfulness you will see the results! In your study of God’s word, the Bible, do not just study the individual Scriptures quoted, read the entire Bible for it reveals the context of what is expected of you.

We would like to extend an invitation to anyone who does not know the Lord Jesus Christ yet, or of you are not born again, to pray our suggested prayer on this link Prayer of Sincere Repentance
by faith and follow the Lord (Matthew 4:19). You may also contact us for any questions or comments about this article or our ministry.

The Lord blesses you!
Brother Glenn.