Monday, February 27, 2023

The Worthless Branch

Being Ashamed Of Christ

 “I am the vine. You are the branches. Those who live in me while I live in them will produce a lot of fruit. But you can’t produce anything without me.  Whoever doesn’t live in me is thrown away like a branch and dries up. Branches like this are gathered, thrown into a fire, and burned" (John 15:5-6 GWT).

Some many years ago before I became a Christian, I often wondered where some Christian folk got their boldness from by speaking freely about Christ to others. In return, I would often feel embarrassed for them when I noticed how some people were simply just ignoring them. As it was, some thoughts occupied my mind that if I one day become a Christian, I certainly would keep my faith to myself and not let others know. In other words, I felt ashamed of talking about Christ, and that was my state of mind before I became born again. 

Furthermore, when I got my first job back in 1989 I was interviewed and offered the job by a Christian manager. He had a very calm and gentle demeanor; he displayed great care toward me, but little did I know he was a Christian as he never shared Christ with me or with any of my colleagues. It was only after my conversion in February 1990, that I discovered he was a Christian. Being a naturally shy person and as I alluded to above regarding my feeling embarrassed for Christian folk, I 'insanely' could not keep Christ to myself (Jeremiah 20:9; 23:29). I was a changed person, and the urge to share the JOY of my salvation with others came just spontaneously. As a result, he (our Manager) became one of my first targets for witnessing and that was when he told me that he also was a born-again believer but he acted like a Christian who was hiding his light under the bushel (Matthew 5:15) and no doubt we find similar Christians today. 

The Fire Of God's Word

In our lead Scripture above, our Lord Jesus Christ Himself says that those who live in Him will produce a lot of good fruit. In addition, the Lord also stated that a branch that does not live in Him dries up and it is being thrown away to be burned up. Such is the destiny of a non-witnessing and non-fruit-bearing Christian. Brethren, as we all know the world's political climate is slowly but surely moving towards a new world order and there will come a time when we will not be allowed to share and spread this precious gospel (John 9:4). Thus, with the freedom we enjoy today of both sharing and living our faith let us share Christ and change lives and win souls for the Lord's Kingdom. Like the prophet Jeremiah said (Jeremiah 20:9), no Spirit-filled, born-again Christian lacks boldness and courage if you do, you are not living in Him (John 15:5).

Blessed Regards

Brother Glenn

Monday, February 20, 2023

Cast Aside Your Fear Of People

“I, even I, am He who comforts you. Who are you that you should be afraid of a man who will die, and of the son of a man who will be made like grass? And you forget the Lord your Maker, Who stretched out the heavens and laid the foundations of the earth; you have feared continually every day because of the fury of the oppressor when he has prepared to destroy. And where is the fury of the oppressor? (Isaiah 51:12-13)

“Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:28).

Previously, we shared a message on fearing God, in which we mentioned the fear of man as one of the factors that can hinder us from experiencing a strong relationship with the Lord. The truth is that if you don’t have reverence and fear for God, then most certainly you will live your life in fear of man and the uncertainties of life. In this week’s message, we will emphasize what the Bible teaches us about fearing man.

As the day of the Lord’s return draws near, Christians all over the world are finding themselves encircled by a permissive society that is hostile to God’s truth (2 Timothy 3:1-4; Matthew 24:12). If you don’t agree with these “modern” lifestyles and sinful behaviors, you will find yourself being looked down upon, isolated, or even being hated. We are living in the days when we have many who “call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter” (Isaiah 5:20 NIV). Additionally, we are seeing an upsurge of violence against Christian believers as Satan continues to use deceived individuals and false religions to discourage or destroy God’s children. These may seem like isolated incidents and the world’s media tries to “cover-up” or ignore the many cases where Christians are being targeted for persecution because of our faith. However, for those who are discerning the times, you will remember that the Lord Jesus forewarned us that there will come a time when we, His followers, will be “hated by all” for His name’s sake, and He encouraged us to endure to the end in order to be saved (Matthew 10:22; Mark 13:13). He also forewarned us to “stay awake at all times, praying that you may have the strength to escape all these things that are going to take place and to stand before the Son of Man” (Luke 21:36 ESV).

Should we be Afraid of Man?

The Lord created man to have free will, and He operates with us on the principle of choices and consequences (Deuteronomy 11:27-28; 30:15, 19; Joshua 24:15; Galatians 6:7-8). On the other hand, Satan uses force, coercion, manipulation, and other schemes and devices in order to force us to comply with his will (Job 1:13-18; Job 2:4, 7). Persecution of believers is not new; throughout the ages, Satan has used wicked men to abuse and misuse power in order to force their will on others. Children of God who stand firmly on God’s Truth have been threatened, excommunicated, insulted, abused, tortured, and persecuted in all forms, even by being put to death because of their faith (Hebrews 11:36-38).

In both the Old and New Testaments, we see righteous men being mistreated by others, for example, Abel being murdered by his brother Cain (Gen 4:4-10), Peter and John being beaten and threatened not to preach the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 5:28, 40), Daniel’s three friends being thrown into a fiery furnace for disobeying a king’s order to worship an idol (Daniel 3:13-20), Jeremiah being thrown into a cistern for prophesying truth (Jeremiah 38:1-6), etc. In these examples and several others, the Lord encourages us not to fear man. As human beings, naturally, we are fixated with life here on earth, but God sees from the beginning to the end, and He is the Righteous Judge who ultimately avenges the righteous (Deuteronomy 32:35; Romans 12:19).

As King Saul experienced, fearing men can cause us to be rebellious and disobedient to the Lord, hence displeasing Him while losing His favor and promises (1 Samuel 15:1-3;10-11;17-24). Fear of man also causes us to be snared, trapped (Proverbs 29:25), and to carry out shameful things (Matthew 14:6-10).

Instead of fearing man, we should take courage in God’s Word and promise, and not given to the spirit of fear (2 Timothy 1:7). The Lord Jesus came to lay down His life for His sheep (John 10:15-17; 1 John 3:16), and He admonishes us to pray for our enemies and for those who persecute us or mistreat us (Matthew 5:44). As a result of sin, the ungodly reject the message of repentance and turning to our Lord Jesus Christ for salvation (Romans 10:16; Acts 2:38; 1 Thessalonians 1:9-10), but our duty is still to love them and pray for them as the Lord commanded.

Fear of Man when Witnessing

For those of us who go out to share the gospel, there are many instances where we are threatened or kicked out of certain places and warned not to witness there. In such instances, it is important to remember that we are sharing a life-giving message, and we should therefore take courage, like Peter and John, to obey God rather than human beings (Acts 5:29). As an encouragement, some of us at times have learned to quickly walk away and leave when we see someone who seems to be walking towards us to stop us (John 10:39).

There are also times when you might feel intimidated to witness a certain person, especially if they appear to be of a higher social class. Following our Master’s example of boldly sharing the good news with the rich young ruler, we likewise are called to share without fear because the Lord Jesus is able to save all who choose to follow and obey Him (Luke 18:18-27). You may also have friends or church members who you are afraid to correct for fear of losing them. Prosperity preachers avoid rebuking sin in order to maintain members and financial offerings. However, for true children of God, it would be good to pray for deliverance from the fear of man and simply obey the Lord as He leads us to share in the love and for the sake of eternal life (Ezekiel 33:7-9). We see in the Bible that the Lord shared truth even at the departure of many of his disciples (John 6:60-66). But those who are the Lord’s will humbly accept the truth and remain in Christ (John 6:67-69), for the Lord Jesus said: “ one can come to me unless the Father has enabled them” (John 6:65).

Finally, turn away from the fear of man that you may enjoy the blessing of fearing the Lord, walking in obedience to Him (Psalm 128:1-4), trusting Him, and being kept safe (Proverbs 29:25). 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.

In Christ,

Brother Glenn

Monday, February 6, 2023

Bitterness Has It's Roots In [D]Evil

Reconcile And Go The Extra Mile

“Pursue peace with all men, as well as holiness, without which no one will see the Lord. Be careful that no one falls short of the grace of God, so that no root of bitterness will spring up to cause trouble and defile many” (Hebrews 12:14-15 NIV).

Before we share today’s message kindly allow us to share an interesting vision my wife had on the 23rd of September 2017, (which was on the birthday of one of the women in her vision) she saw two women boarding a train together. Now in real life, these two women had a bitter feud a few months ago and there still exists some strong feelings of hurt and unforgiveness between them with neither of them willing to submit and ask for forgiveness. They were meant to get off at the same train station but they chose to get off at different stations. As it were one of the women got off first and saw the other women coming towards her from a long distance and she decided to walk towards her in an effort meet her halfway.

Thus and after prayer, the Lord revealed to my wife that people (especially Christians) who were involved in a dispute should be willing to forgive one another and be prepared to meet each other halfway and reconcile to pursue peaceful relations (Luke 15: 20; Hebrews 12:14).

Bitterness, The Cause Of Divisions

Being a Christian or a follower of Christ we are commanded amongst other things to “rid [y]ourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind” (1 Peter 2:1 NIV; Ephesians 4:31). However, and on the contrary for some Christians, these reprimands from the Word of God does not exist for them, they give full vent and without regard for the Lord to their ill-feelings towards others (Proverbs 29:11).

Earlier this year, and as a minister of the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ, I was invited to a discussion that involved the proposed enactment of laws by our government that could potentially impact on the work and activities of the local Church here in South Africa. As a collective body of leaders, we were supposed to organize ourselves into a unified force but sadly, some pastors are not good listeners and neither are they willing to learn in humility, instead they are the ones who want to be heard (James 1:19). From that gathering, there was no unity or unity of purpose, despite the guidelines that were provided in fact each one had his or her own way of dealing with the situation.

Now from what I observed, I could tell that some people were driven by their own agendas. Consequently, after just one meeting almost all the pastors abandoned the discussion and the main reason being bitterness! Some pastors could not stand each other, there was bitter envy, rivalry, and recognition for attention. What I heard from them, these pastors are well-versed in the scriptures and flawless in speech but they had no love and respect for each other. In my observation, they have learned how to rightly divide the Word of God (2 Timothy 2:15), while unity in love was not pursued.

Love For God With A spirit Of Bitterness Equals Hypocrisy

Additionally, we could be consumed with love for the Lord and His Word and being eloquent speakers but harboring bitterness and hateful feelings towards your brother in Christ renders you just a ‘talker’ who is inflamed with evil (1 John 4:20). Let me give it to you, this kind of a state of heart dishonors the Lord and renders our salvation useless (Matthew 6:15). Why are some Christians finding it hard to make room for love in their hearts if they disagreed with others? Why don’t they just forgive? Because they equally have no room for the Word of God in their hearts that is why they don’t have love, instead they hate and walk in unforgiveness and as we rejected the Word of God, He rejected us (1 Samuel 15:26).

Brethren, let me put it this way if we cannot stand the presence and existence of our fellow brother or sister in the Lord, we are in DARKNESS which is driven by a bitter and grudging spirit (1 John 2:9-11).

Being found in such a state of heart drives us away from the Presence of the Lord, we would either have to repent or live away from the Lord with feelings of bitterness. Furthermore, we can recall how the Lord strongly corrected a few brethren who openly showed hostility towards those who offended them and sadly such bitterness has driven some of them away from the Lord. And disturbingly, when they were being corrected they grew bitter roots and not only were they bitter but they teamed up with Mr malice in an expression of the condition of their hearts.

It is true, none of us are immune to the sharp arrows of bitterness which come through the operation of Satan (1 John 3:8; 2 Corinthians 2:11). In other words, if we accept the evil of bitterness we essentially reject the command to love and forgive and the Bible says, we must guard our hearts against the influence of evil thoughts and desires which will eventually affect our behaviour (Proverbs 4:23; Matthew 15:19).

Furthermore, I recently listened attentively how a God-fearing father corrected two of his daughters who were involved in a quarrel that created bitter feelings between them. In his address to them, he gently encouraged them to resist harboring feelings of bitterness, despite the contentment of ‘getting even’ by being malicious. Instead, he warned them to resist the temptation of accepting malicious thoughts and he further explained to them that opening their hearts to evil intent is an invitation to the devil and demonic influences as he firmly rooted his correction on the value of the Scriptures (Ephesians 2:1-2; 5:8-11).

Having said this, we would also like to add that a person who is full of bitterness is in hiding regarding his or her true feelings. Let's face it, the heart of a person in such a condition is far from God because he or she would be acting deceitfully, irrational and in self-justification (Jeremiah 17:9). Being in a state of bitterness unsettles us emotionally and being judge of our own hurts makes us blind. When this happens we chose to give effect to our hurt by repaying back hurtfully while we subconsciously reject scriptural guidance and adopts anger over peace (1 Peter 3:9; Romans 12:17).

Finally, as Christians are we willing to humble ourselves and meet each other halfway in a bid to uphold our Christian values? Or are we content to reject peace and the loving ways of the Lord while avoiding each other and carrying around the hurt and the unforgiveness? Brethren, while we position ourselves daily to yield to the Lord and His Holy Spirit we encourage you to do likewise and repent from any bitterness, unforgiveness, and grudges because in the eyes of the Lord the one carrying this bondage is guilty of being disobedient to Him.

For those who are not saved yet, we encourage you to give your life to our Lord Jesus Christ to receive eternal life when you pass from this life by praying this Prayer of Sincere Repentance. For any questions or comments about this article or our ministry, you may please contact us.

Blessed Grace
Brother Glenn