Friday, 26 February 2016

RUNNING AFTER BIG NAMES

Going gaga over prominent visiting speakers has its dangers

“Come on, this renowned prophet or apostle is in town. Let’s go and attend his seminar.”

Surely, many a church member must have been encouraged by their leaders and friends to attend meetings where highly sought-after personalities minister.

One of the notable characteristics of modern-day churches is the tendency to look for the next big wave. Almost like surfers on their summer holidays, we feel the excitement in the air when a celebrity minister comes to town.

It makes me wonder whether we are the spiritual counterpart of thrill-seeking adrenaline junkies.

                                                                         
Why do we run after all these big-time conferences? Perhaps we think that we will benefit from periodic, intermittent “spiritual injections”. We hope their teaching will fire us up when our zeal flags. Could they have an impartation from God, through the laying on of hands, to awaken us from our spiritual doldrums? Can we get a revelation of God’s special calling for our lives? Do they have a word of knowledge that offers insight and encouragement to us as we face life challenges?

While such conferences may have their merits, we need to observe certain precautions and understand the limitations of “chronic overdependence” on prominent visiting speakers.

Firstly, attendance at such events must not supersede or replace our personal devotion with God.

Secondly, it is our consistency in seeking God, not intermittent spurts of fervour that really bring about lasting and deep transformation in us—with far-reaching impact on others.

Thirdly, God primarily reveals to us His plans when we set aside time to seek Him. We can hear his voice because we are His sheep (John 10:27). And because we have direct access to God, we can come into His presence at our own designated time and place—not only when we attend a special meeting (Hebrews 4:16).

Fourthly, if we have been spiritually dry, we need to examine our life for causes like unrepentant sin. Excitement and revelation at special meetings can never undo the ravaging effects of personal sin.

Fifthly, we must not view such meetings as a “fast track” way to launch us into ministry success. An anointed minister may grant us encouragement and confirmation of our calling. But this should not supersede or replace what God has personally revealed to us. God often speaks to us over a period of time in a still small voice as to what He wants us to do in order to glorify Him. Could there be an impatient streak in us as we run after such meetings?

It is better to be like the unnamed men of Issacharwho understood the times and seasons, and knew what God had called them to do (1 Chronicles 12:32)than aspire to be “instant” apostles, prophets and miracle workers by attending such special meetings. http://bit.ly/1oRz3jf

                                                                  
Next, we should look into the credibility aspects of the ministers or ministries.

Some of these ministries may be hyped-up—with all the glitz, glitter, music and showmanship—but lacking in substance while others may be peddling the gospel for selfish gain.

Have we looked into their doctrine and statement of faith? http://bit.ly/1vnWGyq

Have they overemphasised signs and wonders, and downplayed doctrine and faithfulness to the Word? http://bit.ly/1TgCpsO

We need to be wary of ministries that aim to churn out, “assembly line style”, prophets and apostles as God’s calling for each believer is distinctive and unique. There is no ‘one size fits all’ calling for believers. Not every believer is called to be a high-profile minister. Some operate in quieter gifts while others function as workplace beacons. Let God be sovereign as He apportions his gifts to whoever He wills and empowers us to fulfill our calling (1 Corinthians 12:11).

The background of visiting speakers needs to be checked. We are already familiar with ministers who have fallen from grace. Some have quickly gone back to minister without a significant period set aside for genuine restoration and repentance. Surely, we cannot expect to get any credible impartation or blessing from God through them.

Yet, the days of celebrity ministers and their ministries are certainly not over. As we sit at the feet of great men of God, we may well receive God’s special anointing and encouragement.

However, before attending such events, we should be wary of its benefits and limitations, its pros and cons. We also need to be armed with wisdom and discernment in order to “test everything”.

                                                                         

Test everything; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil.
(1 Thessalonians 5:21-22)

Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.
(1 John 4:1)

So are you still running after big names? Think again … at least for the above reasons. We have to test and discern whether this or that big name is sound and credible before attending his conference. Also, do not idolise him but let our focus be on God as no one, no matter how great, is infallible or exempt from moral failureshttp://bit.ly/MT1BW7


RELATED POSTS

MIRACLES APLENTY BUT DOCTRINE SUSPECT
Would you follow a leader who performs miracles (such as genuine healing) but whose theology is unsound and source of power is questionable? Would you follow him because he is a big name and has many followers going after him?

CAPTIVATED BY SIGNS AND WONDERS
Unaware that there are counterfeits in the spiritual realm, some believers pursue supernatural experiences. After all, they want to feel good—and discover what it is like to be zapped by power.

THE BEREAN SPIRIT OF INDEPENDENT INQUIRY
We must never judge the validity of a premise solely based on a teacher’s fame, popularity, credentials or the fact he has written many books. Each premise has to be tested against the infallible and objective Word without any preconceived ideas on our part. We cannot say to ourselves or others, “Coming from this great man of God, it must be right.”

DID JESUS SET ASIDE HIS DIVINITY?
A prominent leader teaches that Jesus operated only as a man and not God during His earthly ministry. But did Jesus set aside His divinity when He came down to earth?



EXTERNAL LINK


CHOOSING POWER & ANOINTING OVER INTIMACY & CHARACTER
“I see more of a hunger in the prophetic movement to obtain power than to walk in intimacy. I see more of a desire to live under the anointing than to demonstrate Christlike character. I see more of an appetite to publicly prophesy over thousands than to privately pray to the Father in heaven. I see more of an obsession to chase after someone else’s prophetic mantle than to giving our time to discovering our own unique divine design given by the Father alone. I see more of an urge to chase gold dust, feathers and angels than to encounter the person of Jesus Christ.”



Friday, 5 February 2016

SPIRITUAL BLINDNESS

Spiritual blindness, a malady often resistant to treatment, is found even among those who pride themselves as having impressive theological qualifications.


                                                                          
Recently, I watched a video where the speaker said that repentance is not necessary for a person to be saved. He said he should know better since he did his doctorate on the subject of repentance and cannot find any connection between repentance and salvation.

Spiritual blindness, a malady often resistant to treatment, is found even among those who pride themselves as having impressive theological qualifications.

Sad to say, this theologian had plenty of head knowledge but, when it comes to “heart knowledge”, there is little evidence of it. He is spiritually blind. It seems that his great theological “understanding” has caused him to deviate from the truth.

Is it possible to be led astray the deeper one delves into theology? Yes, there is a possibility. We may go “mad” through great learning if we do not stay humble and depend on the Holy Spirit (Acts 26:24).

Clearly, we need to repent (turn from our sins) if we want to enter heaven. The above theologian has clearly departed from the truth.

                                                                        
To gain wisdom and understanding, we need the simple faith of a child: "I tell you the truth, unless you turn from your sins and become like little children, you will never get into the Kingdom of Heaven." (Matthew 18:3).



Believers are saved when we trust in Christ. But it does not mean that we can be saved without repenting of our sins. http://bit.ly/2clNM0E
                                                                     
                                                                      
In my humble opinion, the one with many theological degrees under his belt may not necessarily have spiritual discernment.

It is the Holy Spirit who grants to believers understanding and spiritual discernment:

  • Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God.


  • These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual.


  • But he who is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is rightly judged by no one.


  • For who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct Him? But we have the mind of Christ.

         (1 Corinthians 2:12, 13, 15, 16)

                                                                   
The above example is not an isolated case. Inasmuch as some theologians today may be spiritually blind, the teachers of the law of yesteryear, the scribes and Pharisees, were also afflicted by this malady.

The latter thought that they could please God by following rules and rituals but, sadly, they were mistaken. Being proud, they wanted people to know that they were pious. But Jesus reserved His harshest comments for these hypocrites.

Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others. You blind guides, straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel!
(Matthew 23:23-24).

It is truly a sad state of affairs when those who are supposed to be well-versed with God’s laws are actually spiritually blind.

Sometimes, those with sight can be blind whereas those who are blind manage to gain their sight.

Jesus told the blind man who was healed, “I entered this world to render judgment—to give sight to the blind and to show those who think they see that they are blind.”

Some Pharisees who were standing nearby heard him and asked, “Are you saying we’re blind?”

“If you were blind, you wouldn’t be guilty,” Jesus replied. “But you remain guilty because you claim you can see” (John 9: 39-41).

Humility, teachability and dependence on the Holy Spirit are important prerequisites to acquiring wisdom and knowledge. “If we think we are wise by this world’s standards, we need to become fools in order to be truly wise. The wisdom of the world is foolishness to God” (1 Corinthians 3:18-19).

Let us now look at two more examples of spiritual blindness:

Pre-believers are unable to appreciate the truth because they have been blinded. So when we share the Good News, we will have to pray that the scales be removed from their eyes.
“Satan, who is the god of this world, has blinded the minds of those who don't believe. They are unable to see the glorious light of the Good News. They don't understand this message about the glory of Christ, who is the exact likeness of God” (2 Corinthians 4:4).

When we are lukewarm and complacent, with hardened conscience, we are deemed as spiritually blind, like the church at Laodicea:
You say, ‘I am rich. I have everything I want. I don’t need a thing!’ And you don’t realise that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked. So I advise you to buy gold from me—gold that has been purified by fire. Then you will be rich. Also buy white garments from me so you will not be shamed by your nakedness, and ointment for your eyes so you will be able to see. 
(Revelation 3:17-18)

Those who have the Holy Spirit, remain humble and depend on the Spirit are able to see. And it is not necessarily related to our position in church or the number of theological degrees we hold.

The blessedness of being able to see is spelt out in the following passage.
Indeed, in their case the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled that says:
You will indeed hear but never understand,
    and you will indeed see but never perceive.
For this people's heart has grown dull,
    and with their ears they can barely hear,
    and their eyes they have closed,
lest they should see with their eyes
    and hear with their ears
and understand with their heart
    and turn, and I would heal them.
But blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear. For truly, I say to you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.
(Matthew 13:14-17)

Lastly, the ability to see is also related to purity. “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” (Matthew 5:8).

RELATED POSTS



DO WE HAVE TO REPENT TO BE SAVED?
Believers are saved when we trust in Christ. But does it mean that we can be saved without repenting?
http://bit.ly/2clNM0E

MORE THEOLOGY, MORE IMPACT?
Is the impact we make in this world directly proportional to the number of theological degrees we have under our belt?

SELF-TAUGHT VS BEING TAUGHT
When believers study the Word, they are guided into the truth by the Holy Spirit who is our Teacher. If that is so, do they still need to depend on teachers or other members in the body?

SEVEN REASONS WHY FALSE TEACHING THRIVES
Why it’s easy to be fooled without realising you’ve been had.
http://bit.ly/1AxRFr6

Wednesday, 3 February 2016

ONE STEP FROM ETERNITY

The fact that life can be so transient and uncertain should force us to reassess how we live our lives on earth

                                                                     
Recently, a 70-year-old man felt dizzy and weak on one side of his body. So he was brought to consult a doctor, who diagnosed him as having severe hypertension and stroke. He was advised immediate admission. Sadly, he passed away after one day's stay in hospital.

Apart from accidents, heart disease and stroke are perhaps the most dramatic harbingers of death.

Life often catches us unaware. We cannot peer into the future. We may feel and look perfectly normal. But, the next day, the scenario may take a turn for the worse. Who would have thought that we may just be one step away from eternity?

“Man does not know his time: like fish caught in a treacherous net and birds trapped in a snare, so the sons of men are ensnared at an evil time when it suddenly falls on them” (Ecclesiastes 9:12).

We’re never really in control of our lives. We often take for granted we’ll be greeted every morning by birds and light streaming into our room. But how sure are we that we’ll wake up tomorrow?

“Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes” (James 4:14).

That’s why we have to be prepared to meet our Maker—for we can be called away to our eternal home anytime (Hebrews 9:27). 

                                                                    
We get jolted from our complacency when a close friend or relative dies suddenly. Being reminded of our mortality, a chilling realisation sets in.

One day, we will be lowered in a casket into the ground or cremated. Our relatives and friends will then depart for a meal. Life goes on for our family members but we will no longer know what happens to them on earth.

Though no one fancies being reminded about death, we cannot run away it. So it’s better to be realistic and consider our end.

Let us be found faithful till our final hours here on earth. “If a righteous person turns from their righteousness and commits sin, they will die for it; because of the sin they have committed they will die” (Ezekiel 18:26)

Few can confidently proclaim like the apostle Paul: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing” (2 Timothy 4:7-8).

Though we’ll never be able to match a spiritual giant like Paul, we should still be proactive—plan and live out our lives so that it will be glorifying to God.

For it is only when we learn how to face death squarely that we’re able to live a fulfilling and productive life.

It is only when we have ‘set our house in order’—ready to leave this earth if He should call us home—that we will be able to shout like Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:55: “O death, where is thy victory? O death, where is thy sting?”

It is not a question of being morbid about our future. Rather, it is about how to prepare ourselves to meet our Maker with confidence.  http://bit.ly/1iiRhQT

In order to be able to shout like Paul at the end of life’s journey, we have to mean serious business with God.

Believers who have been walking closely with God will have the peace and assurance that better times await them in the hereafter. And this glorious hope is one that transcends positive thinking.

RELATED POSTS

SETTING OUR HOUSE IN ORDER
How many of us prepare ourselves to meet our Maker—even when death isn’t looming on the horizon?

WALKING TIME BOMBS
Beware of heart disease and stroke!

WALK YOUR WAY TO WEALTH
Yes, you read it correctly. It’s not a typo error.
http://bit.ly/1KtoGez


DO YOU EVER SEARCH YOUR HEART?
(IS HE SATISFIED WITH ME?)
Do you ever search your heart,
As you watch the day depart.
Is there something way down deep
you try to hide?
If this day should be the end,
And eternity began,
When the book is open wide,
Would the Lord be satisfied?

Is He satisfied? is He satisfied?
Is He satisfied with me?
Have I done my best, have I stood the test?
Is He satisfied with me?
When my Lord shall come again,
When He walks and talks with man,
What if every friend He had
were just like me?
Would He feel welcome here?
Or would He go away in tears?
Am I all that I should be?
Is He satisfied with me?

Feeble is the lamp of fame,
By which man inscribes his name,
On the walls of time for other
men to see.
Though he boast of wealth and power,
None can help him in that hour,
When the angels hear His plea,
Is He satisfied with me?
Is He satisfied? Is He satisfied?

10,000 REASONS by Matt Redman
Only part of lyrics shared below:
And on that day
When my strength is failing
The end draws near
And my time has come
Still my soul will
Sing Your praise unending
Ten thousand years
And then forevermore
Forevermore

EXTERNAL LINK
ONLY A STEP INTO ETERNITY
A young, forty-three-year-old widow drove by our neighborhood high school to pick up her two teenage daughters. About the same time, a young man (a star football player), got into a new pickup truck, and “peeled out” off campus at an accelerated speed. For more: