Time to become empowered - Believers must study the Word of God
It is imperative that church leaders empower themselves with the true Spirit of God in order to fulfil their mandate of empowering their congregation. Just as important, believers must ensure that they empower themselves on the true doctrine of Jesus Christ, so that they are not led astray by false teachings.
"Too many Christians are being led astray by false prophets spewing false teachings and doctrines, and it is time for believers to empower themselves in order to decipher the truth," declared Pastor Charles Francis of the Faith United Church of God International, located on Mandela Terrace, Kingston 11.
"It is a very serious matter when some persons who call themselves leaders are being irresponsible in their role and leading their followers down a destructive path. The Bible declared in Jeremiah 23, "Woe to the shepherds who are destroying and scattering the sheep of My pasture!" And these irresponsible leaders are forgetting that it is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God (Hebrews 10 v 31)
"Leaders in the Church need to take their God-given mission seriously and understand that they are ordained in that role to be responsible leaders charged with the critical role of guiding God?s people in accordance with His teachings."
He continued, "Importantly, Jesus empowered His disciples and commissioned them to go and make disciples of all nations, teaching all that He taught them (Matthew 28), but too many leaders are forgetting that commission. They are stuck on the acts He did rather than the message He brought. That is where our focus ought to be ' Jesus' message to the world."
Francis said pastors and Christian leaders need both natural and divine empowerment to provide relevant solutions and guidance to their followers on spiritual, personal and societal matters.
Conversely, the pastor stated that Christians must begin to hold their leaders accountable and not allow themselves to be manipulated and led astray.
Francis said a perfect example was what happened in the 1970s, when self-proclaimed American prophet Jim Jones led his followers into the jungles of Guyana, then later wiped them out in a mass murder/suicide. Over 900 persons perished in that massacre.
"This could only have happened because of the ignorance of persons who fail to think for themselves and instead allow their minds to be brainwashed and manipulated by the ideals of men who believe they are hearing from some higher being," he said.
The pastor said the sad reality is that in today's Church, manipulation and deception are being played out in various ways, with Christians being brainwashed into believing in someone's personal ideals that have nothing to do with the teachings of Christ. Added to that, some are being scammed out of their money and belongings by some leaders more focused on personal benefits rather than enlightening the believers by guiding them on the scriptural path.
"Our society is faced with over a hundred different denominations, each claiming the rights to true teachings, so persons must be careful in making choices," he said.
"The Church was given the command to go out and make disciples for Christ by teaching His doctrine according to Scripture, not to manipulate, deceive and cheat."
He said empowered leaders must always believe in the potential of their followers, building them up with encouragement, motivation, acceptance and inclusion, celebrate their successes, and encourage and guide them through their failures.
CATERING TO THE WHOLE MAN
"Believers must empower themselves by personally studying God's word thoroughly, gaining the knowledge, wisdom and understanding to know when their leader is leading them astray and teaching false doctrine," Pastor Francis stressed.
"Each person must search the Scriptures for themselves, and if what you are being taught is not found in Scripture, then it is not of God."
He said empowered believers are more guarded, aware, alert and attuned to right from wrong, while having a clear understanding of their God-given purpose.
"Believers need to know the true doctrine of Christ so that they will not be victims to every doctrine that comes along. Their minds will be empowered so that they can think for themselves and make wise decisions," he said.
Francis said at his church, serving the inner-city community of Mandela Terrace for over 22 years, they strongly emphasise the teaching of God's word, while relating it to everyday living, so that each member can grow holistically and be an asset to their families, communities and the wider society.
One of the executive officers of Faith United Church of God, Anastasia Cunningham, who is the administrator and public relations officer, hosts regular interactive sessions with the members on a wide array of topics relating to healthy lifestyle practises as well as motivational talks on relevant issues.
"The Church has the responsibility to cater to the whole person, not just their spiritual well-being. As such, it is essential to empower believers on matters that impact every aspect of their lives - spiritual, physical, personal, mental, financial, social and societal. Understanding how each relates to the other will lead to a more balanced, fulfilled life in God," Cunningham stated.
Evangelist Maud Downer-Burnett, Faith United?s prayer band leader, shared that with so much negative and evil in the world, it was critical for Christians to empower themselves with the Holy Spirit to guard against the attacks of the enemy.
"For a believer to be empowered, they must study God's Word, fast and pray, and be filled with the Holy Spirit, which will give them the strength and authority to break the chains of bondage affecting their lives," said Downer-Burnett.
‘Empowering The Believers’ is this year’s theme of Faith United Church of God’s Convention, scheduled for June 28-30 at its 53 Mandela Terrace, Kingston 11 location.
During the opening day of the Convention on Sunday, the church will be hosting a seminar on ways to be empowered.
Pastor Francis concluded: “The true testament of empowerment is the continuance of that cycle, which is: a leader who is able to empower and serve others; those will then in term empower and serve others, and those believers will pass on that empowerment and service to others. That continuance cycle of empowerment is the essential component needed to see the Kingdom of God flourish and reproduce itself throughout the earth.”
TIPS ON EMPOWERING YOURSELF
* Pray unceasingly and be alert to the leading of the Holy Spirit
* Obey and be submissive to the leading of the Holy Spirit and God’s word
* Know God’s word for yourself and ensure that it is in line with what you are being taught
* Recognise, nurture and utilise the natural and spiritual gifts God has given you
* Be an encouragement to others, and serve your church, community and the wider society to the best of your ability
* Be a positive change agent; change agents change the world
* Always make God the centre of your universe
Faith United Church of God International
53 Mandela Terrace
6th Annual Convention
June 28-30, 2015
Theme: ‘Empowering The Believers’ – St. Matthew 28 vs 16-20
SUNDAY, JUNE 28
11:00 am - Opening Service
4:30 pm - Seminar
7:00 pm - Gospel Service
MONDAY, JUNE 29
7:00 pm – Gospel Service
TUESDAY, JUNE 30
7:00 pm – Gospel Service