Monday, November 20, 2017

Encouraging Each Other

“But encourage each other daily, while it is still called today, so that none of you is hardened by sin's deception” (Hebrews 3:13 HCSB).

Brethren, we would like to share a word of encouragement with you to revive your faith and confidence in the Lord (Romans 1:11). It is true, as Christians we are not always happy people, and oftentimes we are faced with conflicting feelings and emotions, which hinders our faith and walk with the Lord. Therefore, temperaments and negative attitudes form part of our daily experiences, and these emotions may lead us to shameful conduct if we follow its dictates. However, if we fully recognize and acknowledge these emotions as a hindrance to a sound relationship with others and God we would then have an opportunity to seek His help and overcome, so that we can genuinely express ourselves with the marks of a true Christian (Romans 12:9-12). Lt us not lose heart brethren our faithfulness and persistence will be duly rewarded.

This message is a reminder that we are living in a broken world where hardship, suffering, pain and oppression are a reality (John 16:33). Knowing that our journey through this life would not be easy, the Lord guaranteed us His peace to serve as our consolation (John 14:27). It is this peace from the Lord that should calm the storm of our ever rampant feelings of anxiety and uncertainty. This peace should also give us security (Psalm 112:7).

Our Confidence

In the book of Hebrews, Paul states, “So don’t throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. For you need endurance, so that after you have done God’s will, you may receive what was promised” (Hebrews 10:35-36 HCSB). This is a very serious virtue to have; we should never be without confidence in this race of faith in Christ. Some time ago, I issued a rebuke to someone who did not take it well but allowed the rebuke to weaken her faith. The Lord, in a strong message of encouragement to the person, said that she should not allow the rebuke to conquer her faith and confidence, but to emerge stronger with a humble attitude.

We have another sister whom the Lord had rebuked for being an unfaithful witness. She was discouraged for a while by this, and whenever she would be running errands she would be tempted not to witness, reasoning that she is unfaithful. However, she chose to start praying for the Lord to teach her, help her, and give her the boldness to share. As she continued pray and obey the Lord by witnessing (Matthew 28:19-20; Luke 14:21), she grew in her confidence and the Lord later commended her for being a faithful witness.

Oftentimes people hide in their shame after committing mistakes, and the fear of facing themselves and the world leads them to go “underground”. After enduring a humbling rebuke from the Lord, a sister resorted to self-hatred (self-loathing), thinking that her mistake had usurped her salvation. However, in loving kindness the Lord restored her confidence by encouraging her to receive His forgiveness and forgive herself as well, and stop hating herself. This was a timely and life-changing encouragement which lifted her from self-rejection, because she’d thought that that the Lord had rejected her. I personally also received some strong rebukes from the Lord which could have left me paralysed with resentment for the Lord, but instead He taught me to be humble and have a heart full of appreciation for His loving guidance. Brethren, from my experience, I have found that people often try avoiding those who have rebuked them, and this has led many Christians into the sin of harbouring hateful feelings towards their brothers.

Admittedly, in this ministry we have made some mistakes and some brethren that we work with made mistakes too. However, the spirit of humility and showing of our love and submission to Christ has resulted in a strong bond of true Christian love and respect for one another. When we serve to please the Lord, we must never be ashamed when we earn rebukes from our brothers or sisters in Christ (Ephesians 5:10).

Lifting Up Your Broken Brother

As Christians, we are encouraged to faithfully serve God and our fellow brethren, to “… be concerned about one another in order to promote love and good works, not staying away from our worship meetings, as some habitually do, but encouraging each other, and all the more as you see the day drawing near” (Hebrews 10:24-25 HCSB). As we mentioned in Be Passionate for Christ article, not showing up to fellowship meetings or leaving hinders others' passion and may cause love to grow cold which makes room for the sin holding grudges and hateful feelings. In messages to us, the Lord recognised the presence of some weak brethren amongst us, and He often reminded us not to look down on them but to encourage them in patience as they grow in their faith and understanding in the Lord. It is true that our good confidence in the Lord can sometimes blind us, and in our display of superior faith, we expect some weak brethren in our midst to be like us. This shows our intolerance towards our fellow man; we are expected to act maturely by patiently guiding the misguided and weak brothers and sisters (1 Thessalonians 5:14).

As we shared in our recent article on the Joy of Knowing the Lord Jesus Christ, when a Christian starts losing their first love, their joy fades and the excitement which gripped them at the beginning of their conversion turns into a faithless motion, where he or she pretends that all is well, masking the reality that they have become a sinking ship. This kind of attitude renders one a spent force, defeated, and with depleted energy marking the end of their confidence in Christ.

The Courage of the Oppressed

Great men of God have often found courage in the Lord, and their faith and confidence gave hope to those around them (1 Samuel 30:6). We may recall that the life of the young boy, Joseph, who was alone in a foreign country, separated from the support of his family. However, he found courage and a trusted friend in the God of his fathers, and his faith led to the preservation of nations (Genesis 50:20). Likewise, when Daniel was being persecuted and oppressed by the jealousies of his colleagues, he found no one to comfort him, so he turned to God. Daniel did not lose his confidence and trust in God, but his steadfast demeanour inspired not only the kings he served under, but future generations as well (Daniel 6:10-27). What these men of God had in common is that they had no one but God to trust. Will our generation stop complaining and having a “want more” attitude and serve the Lord in a humble and submissive attitude?

Brother and sisters, in this day and age where Christians are increasingly experiencing persecution for their beliefs in the Lord Jesus Christ and the unchanging truth of the Word of God, we should encourage one another to faithfully keep serving the Lord and endure to the very end till Christ returns to take us Home (1 Thessalonians 4:17-18; 5:11).

To begin a relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ, please start 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.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Love, The Drawing Power Of God

So he answered and said, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind,’ and ‘your neighbor as yourself’ ” (Luke 10:27 NKJV).

Often, these words of great inner transformation are being ignored by Christians because most think that the Lord was just making a statement. To understand and apply this message into our lives we need to deliberate, meditate and internalise this message. In other words, we should bring this message closer to our hearts and own it so that the effect of this command should take root and possess our inner being by releasing the energy of this love in our hearts.

What is Love and Where Does it Originate?

Briefly, love is being defined as a variety of different feelings of strong attraction to someone or something. Therein is trust, peace and security with a comfort that this force of love has no end. As we know, love in any relationship often starts with a promise of lasting endurance, but as a relationship matures our promise of long lasting faithfulness changes into a conditional love, which we base on the promise, actions, and commitment of the other party, and often with selfish and unrealistic demands.

Unfortunately, love is not without ‘eyes’ and it was never meant to operate blindly. Biblically, love has built-in values which should manifest spontaneously when duty calls. The Bible gives us in the book of 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 some distinct characteristics of love and any absence of any of these creates an imbalance leading to an incomplete love. In this context, I find no distinction that love should be departmentalized to apply differently to God, family or our neighbours. If it would, we would not be operating on the full force of love as Scripturally defined (1 Corinthians 13:4-8). In our giving of love to others, we sow and a return is guaranteed (Galatians 6:7; Luke 6:38). Like we said in the Good Manners article, love works in co-operation with respect and some of the values we discussed.

Brethren, we cannot emphasise enough that the Christian faith is meaningless unless we prove it through love and the outworking of the fruit of the Holy Spirit in our lives (Romans 5:5; Galatians 5:22). The Lord likens Christians to a tree which attracts people by the good fruit it bears and a bad tree is for the fire (Matthew 7: 16-20). A good and ideal Christian finds his or her fruits from the Vine, which is Christ (John 15:1-4). In contrast an abrasive, rude and an unkind Christian dwells in the parched land and away from the fruitfulness and nourishment found in Christ alone (Jeremiah 17:6). In Christ love dwells and in a Christian love should blossom as an attractive force of peace and comfort (Philippians 4:7). As we mention in the Experiencing True Peace article, where there is no peace, there is no love because these two fruits co-exist (Galatians 5:22). The Bible says God is love (1 John 4:16). Therefore, with God being love who lives in us, why are we allowing hateful feelings, slander and deceitful living to control us? Are we desiring good and bad to walk with us (Matthew 6:24)? If that is our position, the fullness of God’s Goodness will give way, for light have no companionship with darkness (2 Corinthians 6:15-16).

Identifying the Dark Patches that Clouds our Souls

We are warned in the Bible not associate with sexually immoral Christians (1 Corinthians 5:9-11), those who have a form godliness but deny its power (2 Timothy 3:5), and bad company which corrupts good character (1 Corinthians 15:33; 2 Corinthians 6:17-18 NASB). Otherwise, are we always trying to avoid the company of someone we know? If yes, why? I’m sure you have the answer for that. Whatever our reasons, can we truly say that we are loving God and showing love to that person? The full force of love, which has been packaged by God to resist unlovingness, has built-in values and will always defy human reason and feelings in its quest to fulfil its destiny. What I mean is when love compels against the danger of rejection, reason cease and love fulfils (2 Corinthians 5:14). This tells us that love is not selfish and it NEVER FAILS! It fulfils. In addition, when we operate by our will to decide on love, we give conditionally; but when we give by the will of the Holy Spirit, our lower nature suffers and the Spirit fulfils. This is beautifully summed up by what the Apostle Paul when he said, “Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation—but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it. For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live. For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God” (Romans 8:12-14 NIV). If ‘we have an obligation’, the Holy Spirit is supposed to control us and when He controls, why do we give love short?

The Bible says that fear is an obstruction to love (1 John 4:18); that is why some people are afraid to love. They reason that others might take advantage of them. Are we not sometimes taking advantage of the Lord’s great love for us when we sin or disobey wilfully? Yes, we do! Are we not sacrificing love, a continuing debt we owe (Romans 13:8), which is our obligation and fulfilling fear, which is our distraction? Our will must serve the requirements of Scripture (Ecclesiastes 12:13).

Furthermore, are you always trying to be right and never wrong and rejecting correction while self-serving? Do you pursue quarrels and always in a self-pity mood? By examining yourself, you might find that you don’t have love in yourself because you are taking and not giving. Brethren, while this is not a good rebuke to share but for the benefit of everybody, the Lord rebuked a sister sharply for her lack of love, saying that “My daughter Dawn (not real name) does not have love in herself”. This was a deep rebuke that exposed the patches of anger, hatefulness, selfishness and rejection of the Holy Spirit, who equals love, God and Christ (Romans 8:9-10). In the Bible, the Lord Jesus Christ also showed that rejecting Him and seeking glory and recognition from men while failing to seek glory from God displays that a Christian is lacking the word of God and love within themselves (John 5:37-44).

Where to Find and Grow Love

We have all been naturally endowed with basic love to show care to our children and immediate families. However, love to serve others and to treat others with dignity as brethren is found in God alone. By serving and asking God we grow love as He prunes it to develop fully. This is also evident in the animal realm and their love is observed by the care and protection they give to their young (Job 39:1-3; Matthew 23:37). In some occasions in the Bible, animals even show love for God and care for human beings (Numbers 22:21-30; 1 Kings 17:2-6; Jonah 1:17; 2:10). Unlike animals, humans love is dynamic, transitional and incomplete. Our love has a Source, God through Christ (1 John 4:8; John 3:16) and Biblically if we have no union with Christ, there is no God and no Spirit no love (1 John 4:8; Romans 8:9; John 13:20). This truly sets Christianity apart from other religions who are founded on cultural values. We know culture yields laws and if violated punishment, but in Christ, however, we are commanded to love and love covers over a multitude of sin (1 Peter 4:8).

The Lord’s love is real and having been a loveless person myself through my past life of hateful feelings and violence, I gave up my old life to follow the Lord’s ways. In being a Christian, I learned that my love was growing as I walked closer with the Lord. Therefore, the more we spend time in God’s Presence through prayer, worship, church services and Bible reading, the more we generate love (James 4:8). By Word reading, we develop the reality and discernment regarding what love really should be. Human love is interest driven and being fickle we are always looking for the gratification of our ever increasing desires for more and these serve as distractions. God purposely allowed the various distractions (Matthew 13:29) to test our endurance as He refines the dross from the pure gold (1 Peter 1:7). Like we said, operating from two or more personalities stifles the Holy Spirit, which hinders our walk and giving strength to our lower nature to dominate us (Romans 8:13-14). Love is the Golden Key to Heaven and we MUST possess it in abundance. As the love of many is growing cold in these last days (and indeed this is evident everywhere around the world) we encourage you to have love in yourself to give and attract the lost to Christ. Love is the greatest Cause, the single unifier of the human race. All people can identify with the force of love, for it is the only remedy known to man that calms the storms of life in the troubled human soul. This love, is God's gift to us that brought us peace (Romans 5:8; Isaiah 53:5).

In conclusion, have you been failing to seek God daily and remain in the Lord Jesus Christ, the true vine, that you may bear good fruit (Galatians 5:22; John 15:1-5)? Have you been skipping your personal time with the Lord and yielding bad fruit and cold love (Jeremiah 17:6; John 15:6)? If so, seek the Lord in repentance while loving Him and others as yourself (Luke 10:27).

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 about this article or our ministry, please contact us.

Blessed love in fear of God,

Brother Glenn and Preparing for the Kingdom Ministry Team.