YOUR FAITH WILL BE TESTED



“Knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience”. James 1:3

If any man claims to have faith, then his faith must be tried to check if he actually had it in the first place (James 1:3). Every faith must be tested, just like Abraham’s faith in God was tested.

Every Disciple of Christ should expect the testing of faith. The race is not a smooth ride as some suppose. In this road to glory, we are bound to face all kinds of challenges, temptations, tests, and troubles. If anybody preached otherwise, such is preaching falsehood.

It is falsehood to believe that you won’t be tempted to sin against God. You will be tested to ignore God’s timing by cutting corners. You will be tempted to help God by ignoring basic principles of the Kingdom. You will be tested to see if you are a doer of the word or only a teacher or hearer alone. Expect to be tempted to hold on to God’s word or ignore it.

The great men of old in the Old Testament faced their own individual trials of faith. Our Lord Jesus Christ’s faith was tested. The Apostles were neither exempted from being tested nor were our founding fathers of faith. This is because they all belonged to a Kingdom different from the system of this world. We likewise are not of this world-we are strangers here.

Trials are not allowed by God to kill you, although that is the devils aim. Trials are allowed by God so that you can come out as refined gold. It is not meant to kill you but to make you better. It is working out for a greater glory for you.

All you have to do in regards to the trials of your faith is to:

1. Expect it.
2. Prepare for it by becoming spiritually matured.
3. Rejoice when it comes.

Whenever you are faced with the trials of life, just know that God has already destined and designed a way for you be victorious over that issue, so as to come out a better person.

“The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure”. 1 Corinthians 10:13.

TRANSFORMED BY THE WORD




“So now, brethren, I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified”. Acts 20:32.

As Disciples of Christ who are born into the Kingdom of God’s Son, if we must enjoy the full package of following Christ, then we must of necessity seek to grow in our walk with Jesus Christ on a daily basis. If we don’t grow, we will only be undoing ourselves. Spiritual maturity is what will help us to keep standing when the trials and temptations of life come our way.

God has made provisions, through His word whereby we can grow in our walk with Christ. When we allow the word of God to take root in us, then we can say that we are making progress in our journey with God.

Mind you, this is beyond having head knowledge about God or of the Bible. This has to do with having knowledge about God which is directly transforming our lives to becoming the image of Jesus Christ.

It is good now that the Bible is very available and handy. Take advantage of it and pray to God to help you have an encounter with the Spirit behind the Word. Then your transformation will begin.

Also, thanks be to God for Spirit-inspired materials in the forms of sermon, books and articles both in hard and softcopies which are readily available to help you get the knowledge about the personality of Christ. Take advantage of these materials so as to transform your life.

While you work on yourself to go beyond just being a hearer, reader or listener to becoming a doer of the word of God, for then will you begin to see the transformation that comes by the word in your life.
                                              
“But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed”. James 1:25.

FEAR OF MAN: A SILENT KILLER


By Gavin Aleogho

Fear of man is a dangerous trap, but to trust in God means safety. Proverbs 29:25 TLB.

If there is a kind of fear you should be aware of and walk to overcome completely, it is the fear of man. As humans, we are directly or indirectly affected by the opinion of people in our lives which tends to affect the way we do things and also the decisions we make in life. Going through the scriptures, there are several warnings to this effect because of the adverse effect it causes.

According to Proverbs 29:25, whenever you are afraid of any man, you are indirectly setting a trap for yourself. Once a man is caught in this trap, a door is opened to several problems. Thus, the fear of man is the gateway to self-captivity. If you don’t check it out, it will destroy your life, alter your destiny and hinder you from trusting God. The Fear of man would immobilize you when you should take action.

Not forgetting that there are some devilish men who take pleasure in taking advantage of people who fear them. Such are looking for people who have an inherent “fear of man” in them to prey on them through diverse forms of victimization. 

WHAT IS THE FEAR OF MAN?
The fear of man is an unhealthy concern about what other men may think about you, say about you or do to you. It manifests itself through insecurity, which is the fear of losing out on something or somebody. Thus it leads to:

  • Valuing the opinion of men more than the truth or God’s opinion.
  • Craving the applause or approval of men to the detriment of what is right in God’s sight.
  • The fright of being labelled, ridiculed or persecuted for what is right.
  • A slavish reverence for men and human’s authority at the detriment of self, self-esteem and others.

THIS IS NOT A CALL TO
I must quickly state that not-fearing man does not imply arrogance or being disrespectful. Neither does it imply living an “I don’t care lifestyle” or becoming a lone ranger. But it is a call to becoming man-enough to air your view or take your stand with the application of wisdom, while you keep loving, respecting and being courteous to every man.

WHY DO PEOPLE FEAR MAN?
Like King Zedekiah (Jeremiah 38:19), the fear of disgrace or being ridiculed are few of the reasons why we fear our fellow man. 

The irony of life is that we fear the person or persons we ascribe most authority to. It could be our boss, religious leader, spouse or even our children. When we idolize any man whether directly or indirectly, we fear them. We end up dreading their views about us or our opinion.

As humans, we desire the approval and acceptance of the persons we love most or the persons under whose authority we are. This tendency is natural in every man but should be achieved through a legitimate source. However, if it is not put in check, it may lead to an unhealthy fear of the persons involved.

Thus, in our subconscious mind, we should never forget that God has the highest authority and that every man ahead of us, irrespective of their spiritual or social status are all under the authority of God Almighty. So, See God, and crave the approval and acceptance of God above any man and that will settle your fear. 

WHY YOU SHOULD NOT FEAR ANY MAN
Jesus Christ made a striking statement in Luke 12:4, that “"And I say to you, My friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do.”

Besides the fact that there is a limit to what any man can do to you, you must never forget the frailty of every human. All men are dust, and dust they will all returned to irrespective of their personality.

"Listen to Me, you who know righteousness, You people in whose heart is My law: Do not fear the reproach of men, Nor be afraid of their insults. For the moth will eat them up like a garment, And the worm will eat them like wool; But My righteousness will be forever, And My salvation from generation to generation". Isaiah 51:7-8

THE ADVERSE EFFECTS OF FEARING MAN
1. It is a sin that entangles our legs in the race of faith. Hebrews 12:1, Revelation 21:8.
2. It will make you to walk against God’s will and disobey God’s law like King Saul. 1 Samuel 15:24.
3. It will make you to lie, just like Peter lied because of the fear of man. Matthew 26:69-75.
4. It will make you to deny Christ either directly or indirectly like Peter. Matthew 26:69-75.
5. It will cause you to live in self-deceit just like Isaac. Genesis 26:7.
6. It leads to partiality in judgment. Deuteronomy 1:17.
7. It leads to the plague of silence. John 7:13
8. It will hinder you from taking your stand in life. Making you a coward. John 9:22. Galatians 2:12. John 12:42.
9. It makes people to live hypocritically like Apostle Peter was in Galatians 2:11-14.
10. It leads to bondage. Proverbs 29:25
11. It leads to compromise and being a men-pleaser. Colossians 3:22, Ephesians 6:6.
12. It makes people to be Indifferent and passive in life. Matthew 25:24-25, 29-30.
13. It leads to bondage and psychological captivity. Proverbs 29:25. 
14. It drives out faith and love. 1 John 4:18.
15. It might take you off your course in life. Matthew 26:56.
16. It would cost you your throne in life and in the life to come like King Saul. 1 Samuel 15:23, 24, 26.

HOW TO OVERCOME THE FEAR OF MAN
1. Fear God and stop being afraid of anybody in life. Luke 12:4-7.
2. Acknowledge that the fear of man is sin, thus confess it to God.
3. Admit your weakness and trust God to set you free from the fear of man.
4. Build your self-esteem and never forget your identity.
5. Expect opposition and challenges in life that will want to make you fear man.
6. Never forget that God has the final say in your life and not man.
7. Never forget the greatness of God above all humans.
8. Confront your fear with question like “What’s is the worst thing this man can do to me?” Matthew 10:28. Or with question like “why am I so concerned with what others think about me?”
9. “Ignore your fear” or “mask your fear” and confront the man, exercising your trust in God, while you resolve to obey God rather than man. Acts 5:29.
10. Never exaggerate your fear.
11. Accept God’s plans and promise over your life as against man’s plans for your life. Deuteronomy 31:6.
12. Speak to someone about your fear. Don’t die in silence.

For He Himself has said, "I will never leave you nor forsake you." So we may boldly say: "The LORD is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?" -Hebrews 13:5b-6. 

OVERCOMING VERBAL INSULTS



“A fool shows his annoyance at once, but a prudent man overlooks an insult.” Proverbs 12:16 NIV.

I wasn’t aware that Mr Cliff was greeting me; because I was so engrossed in the book I was reading. Suddenly, all I heard was a rain of insults on me by Mr Cliff. You can imagine a kind of insult that would make one burst out with a rage of anger; that was what Cliff was giving me. You would want to think that we had a pending issue before, but that was not the case. Despite all his rage, I wasn’t moved by that; I didn’t even answer him a word. It was surprising to those around. It took me years to get myself matured to this kind of life where insult doesn’t affect. That is what I want to share with you in this article.

I know without doubt that you must have found yourself in a position where you’ve been insulted. And down inside you, you know that you don’t deserve it. It doesn’t matter who it is coming from. It might have come from your parent, relative, boss, co-worker, spouse or even a stranger. Sometimes, insult comes from one that is not even up to your level; whether in age, class, status or qualification. Insult comes either intentionally or accidentally.

Primarily, I discover that people tend to insult you with the aim of getting a reaction from you. They want to get you upset and affect your peace and joy. It is natural to be infuriated when insulted. That is the general way to react. But scriptural, we are admonished to overlook insults. Yes, I know it’s not easy. But it is possible.

Personally, I believe there are some things that are similar with people that insult others; one is the fact that they’ve been mistreated before, which gives birth to fear in them; the fear of been mistreated again. They may either be proud in heart or fearful in nature. They tend to misjudge and misunderstand others. And ultimately, they don’t have regard or love for their fellow human who are made in the image of God. There is the possibility that this act is learnt from people around, like the case of children learning it from their parents, close relatives or associates.

How do you stay calm and handle issues properly when you are faced with someone that have just insulted you? I think the first reaction for most of us is to defend ourselves and fight back.  But let’s look at a step by step approached to handle this.
1.     Deal With Yourself

Controlling your emotional response to insults and even making something positive out of the experience is a major key to overcoming insults. It doesn’t matter the kind of water or temperature of water a ship finds itself; if it is properly built, it will sail through to its destination without the water affecting it. The fact that you get agitated when you are insulted is a fact that you are not yet matured enough to overcome and overlook such. Deal with yourself first. Pride in you can make you react negatively. Pride will want you to prove yourself and your worth. Pride will want you to preserve your dignity by responding back. I believe this is the first place to start with in dealing insults. Work on yourself to be able to tolerate people.


2.     Let them be

One known effective tool for overcoming insults is silence. Most people think you have to fight fire with fire, in this case, insult with insult. If you do this, it shows both of you are in the same level. Always know that your insulters do not worth your time and energy. Let them be. Never allow them to bring you to their level. Never allow them to control your emotion by their statement. Instead, do the unexpected. Act maturely. Don’t even consider their words, for they are not worth listening to. Silence or laughing it off will put the person where he belongs. Don’t take any insult to heart, even if it is close to the truth. Re-examine all you have been told and dismiss what insults you.

 People sometimes insult you to gain control. To overcome them, be slow to anger. Be slow to respond. Think before you act. It is only a fool that act without thinking. One question I wish to ask you is this: what will you loose if you ignore that insult? The Amplified version of the Bible on Proverbs 12:16b reads that: “a prudent man ignores an insult”. It is an act of wisdom to ignore insult. Proverbs 26:4 NIV reads: “Do not answer a fool according to his folly, or you yourself will be just like him.” There are cases whereby if you respond to insultersyou end up becoming like them. You should be able to know through God’s wisdom when not to respond or when to respond and how to respond to an insulter. Just like the next verse (Proverbs 26:5 NIV) says: “Answer a fool according to his folly, or he will be wise in his own eyes.”

 3.     Consider the source

One important question to ask yourself is, "why am I being insulted"? "Am I at fault"? This is a necessary step to take to avoid such from happening again. If that is settled, figure out other potential reasons why a person is taking out with you. There are possibilities that he is acting based on anger, past hurt, insecurity, inferiority complex or from a competitive spirit. Whenever someone insults you, realise that he is not wise, ignorant and he needs your sympathy. And majorly, he may be suffering from low self-esteem and insecurity. Have compassion on your insulter


4.     Change your perspective about live

An insult should never dictate your life; rather it should be God’s word. God loves you and His Word and perception about you should be final. Whatever anyone says about you is never true and it should be discarded. Everyone is entitled to his opinion about your life; but God’s is the true and final.

 I’ve come to realize that an event that triggers ones temper to flare up may just be a laughing matter to another person in the same situation. It is all about the mind set. You have to develop yourself to seeing the positive side of situation rather than being offended by any comment that is not intentionally made to offend you. Sometimes a simple question like, “Why should you say such a thing?” could make a lot of difference.


5.     Pray for your insulters

“... Pray for those who insult you.”  Luke 6:28b GWT. How do you pray for somebody who has hurt your feelings? How is that possible? I believe it is not something that you must do at the scene. It might take a while for you to get yourself. Praying for your insulter is an easy way to release the burden unto God. I find out that, whenever I pray for a person who has hurt my feeling; I gain control of myself and it also makes it easy for me to forgive the individual. Begin your prayer by sincerely telling God your honest feelings about the people who hurt you. Admit you are struggling to pray and forgive them. Your prayer will make a lot of difference my dear.




Dealing with Fear



This video will help you to overcome the spirit of fear whose aim is to put you in bondage.

THE BIBLICAL TRUTH ABOUT HELL FIRE






It has become crucial for me to write to reaffirm the biblical truth on the subject. This is because there seems to be a growing tide of divergent views on the subject in recent years, ranging from the belief that “there is nothing like hell fire”, “hell is only temporal, not eternal”, “hell in the Bible is only fictional” and many other divergent views.  

When it comes to a subject like this, it is important not to look at it from a human perspective because human wisdom in itself is limited and perverted on most occasions. Thus, I will not just be reaffirming what I was taught from my earlier walk with the Lord but what I have verified as the truth from the scripture.

Over the years in Christ, I have grown from being driven by the fear of hell fire to a life that is simply driven by love for God the Father and love for humanity. And I have found out that the latter is far better. God wants us to be driven not by the fear of hell fire but by love for Him and love for our fellow humans. Thus, the aim of this article is not to instill fear in you, but to give you a good and balance biblical base knowledge of the subject, because if you are not well informed, it will definitely affect other sensitive areas of your Christian walk.

Thus, how real is hell fire?

Hell is real. Some Old Testament scriptures that prove this fact are: Deuteronomy 32:22. Job 10:21-22. Psalms 6:5, Isaiah 14:9-20. While some New Testament scriptures that proves this fact are: Matthew 3:10-12, 5:22, 7:19, 23, 8:11-12. 13:40-42, 50, 22:13, 25:30, 23:3. Mark 9:43, 48, Luke 16:22, 23:43, Ephesians 4:8-9, 1 Peter 3:18-22, 2 Peter 3:9, 2 Peter 2:4, Rev 20:15. 2 Thessalonians 1:7-9, 2 Peter 3:6-7, Jude 1:6-7, Revelations 19:20, Revelations 20:11-15, Revelation 21:7-8.

If anyone claims to be a follower of Christ, such must of necessity believe the words of Jesus Christ. And our Lord Jesus never left any stone unturned on this subject as seen in the following scriptures: Matthew 3:10-12, 5:22, 7:19, 23, 8:11-12. 13:40-42, 50, 22:13, 25:30, 23:3. Mark 9:43, 48, Luke 16:22, 23:43.

What is hell or hell fire?

Hell or hell fire can be used interchangeably. It is a place or realm of torment after this present life. Hell is not a physical place but it is a spiritual realm. Likewise, the torment of hell is not physical but spiritual.

“And 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

Hell is actually the realm where God’s grace is absent (John 3:36). For presently in this life, everyone still enjoys God’s goodness. “… your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.” Matthew 5:45.

Hell is also referred to as “the second death” (Revelations 21:8).

What was the original intention why God created hell?

Hell was primarily made for the devil and his angels, not for humans.

“Then He will also say to those on the left hand, 'Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels:” Matthew 25:41.

“And the angels who did not keep their proper domain, but left their own abode, He has reserved in everlasting chains under darkness for the judgment of the great day;” Jude 1:6.

Is God going to intentionally send people to hell?

No. God is not intentionally sending anyone to hell. However, it is natural that a man will end up in the same location with the person he is following. Thus, everyone that follows the devil will end up in the same location with him.

Hell is not God’s choice but man’s choice (Galatian 6:8). The choice a man makes is what guarantees his or her eternal destination.

Thus, hell is the final destination of all the wicked and evil doers.

“The hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth- those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation.” (John 5:28-29).

How can you reconcile the fact that God who is love and merciful will send humans to hell?

Humanly speaking, there seems to be some contradiction between a God whose mercy endures forever, and One who would burn sinners in a fiery furnace not for an hour, or a day, but for eternity. Some have used scripture like Psalms 30:5 that says, “For His anger is but for a moment, His favor is for life…” to build on a doctrine that says, “hell is temporal” or that “God’s mercy will not allow Him to send anyone to hell”. That might sound convincing, only when you forget that God is multifaceted. The same God of love is said to be a consuming fire (Hebrews 12:29). For He is not just a “fire” but a “consuming fire”. How do we reconcile that? What is God consuming with fire?

Those who based their theologies only on the “mercifulness” and “gentleness” of God lacks the complete picture of the person of God Almighty. God in not only loving (1 John 4:8-10), merciful (Exodus 34:6James 5:11) and gracious (Exodus 33:191 Peter 2:3), but He is also holy (Isaiah 6:3Revelation 4:8), just (Neh. 9:32-332 Thessalonians 1:6), and He hates sin (Psalms 5:5-6Habakkuk 1:13).  God punishes sinner (Jeremiah 50:31, Matthew 25:462 Thessalonians 1:92 Peter 2:9Hebrews 10:29).

Hell fire must be a temporal place since the anger of the Lord is “but for a moment” according to Psalms 30:5?

Hell goes on forever. It is a place of eternal condemnation and not a temporal place or a thing that will last for a thousand year or million years, it will last for eternity according to the scripture. The following scriptures are attestations:

i.                     “These shall be punished with EVERLASTING DESTRUCTION from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power,” 2 Thessalonians 1:9.

ii.                  "If your hand or foot causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you. It is better for you to enter into life lame or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet, to be cast into the EVERLASTING FIRE.” Matthew 18:8.

iii.                "And these will go away into EVERLASTING PUNISHMENT, but the righteous into eternal life." Matthew 25:46.

iv.                In Mark 9:43, 45, Jesus refereed to the fire in hell as, “THAT SHALL NEVER BE QUENCHED”.

v.                  "Just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities around them, since they in the same way as these indulged in gross immorality and went after strange flesh, are exhibited as an example, in undergoing the punishment of ETERNAL FIRE" (Jude 7).

vi.                These men are those who are hidden reefs in your love feasts when they feast with you without fear, caring for themselves; clouds without water, carried along by winds; autumn trees without fruit, doubly dead, uprooted;  wild waves of the sea, casting up their own shame like foam; wandering stars, for whom the black darkness has been reserved FOREVER," (Jude 12-13).

Beside these scriptures, there are other scriptures that point to the fact. Except if the words “eternal, everlasting and forever” means something else in those passage.

Didn’t the concept of hell fire originated from false preachers that wishes to manipulate people for personal gain?

There is no doubt that there are false preachers who are using the fear of hell to scare people for personal gain. But that doesn’t negate the fact that the subject of hell did not start today but from the Old Testament, down to Jesus, the Apostles and the Fathers of faith all through history.

Is the parable of Lazarus and the rich man in hell a true-life story?

The story of Lazarus is a parable and parables are fictional story. It will be wrong to conclude that hell is a fictional place/thing because of the figurative story of Lazarus and the rich man in hell. Basing an argument only on one story of the Bible while neglecting other related passage to make a point, is not a wise move.

What is the danger of having a different view about the subject of hell other than the one in this article?

  1. It will give room for lawlessness. Everyone will do as they please. And don’t forget that human’s without Christ are naturally wicked.
  2. It will discourage the righteous from continue in righteousness.
  3. It paints God as a God that is not just in dealing with the wicked.

What is the escape route from going to hell?

Believing in Jesus Christ is the path way to escape going to hell. And forgiveness is available to every human.

"For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him SHOULD NOT PERISH but HAVE EVERLASTING LIFE.” John 3:16.

“The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, NOT WILLING THAT ANY SHOULD PERISH but that ALL SHOULD COME TO REPENTANCE.” 2 Peter 3:9.

I hold this submission until someone proves me otherwise, not with human’s wisdom but based on the scripture given in this articles and other related scriptures.

In conclusion, if you are born again, hell should not be your focus because you have passed from death to life. The fear of hell should not be your driving force. However, you need this knowledge to keep you in check and also to help you see the need to rescue others from such eternal condemnation according to Jude 23.

If a man thinks there is no eternal hell and eventually finds himself there, what will he do? Thus, it is better to err in the side of caution than to finally realize that hell exits while you thought it never exits.

I am open to constructive questioning and criticism. Contact me through my Facebook inbox or through my mail gavin4peace@yahoo.com.

Peace.

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