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Principles of Progress
Moving Ahead: Principles of Progress
© Domenic Marbaniang, 2012
All rights reserved.
ISBN 978-1-300-57495-8 (Epub) ISBN 978-1-300-58744-6 (Paperback)
LULU PRESS, INC.
Introduction ................................................................ 1 1. 7 Rules of Success ......................................... 2 2. 5 Principles of Moving Ahead (Philippians 3:13-15) ...................................... 9 3. No Money? .................................................. 11 4. A Dozen Mirrors Wouldn‘t Do – Poem ...... 12 5. The Benefits of Drawing Close to God ..... 14 6. Divine Persuasion in Ministry....................... 18 7. Patience, the Steel of Character – Poem 19 8. Modern Ministry Myths #Money &Ministry 21 9. God Cannot Be Doubted, He Is In Control – A Short Story .................................................... 23 10. ―Your Attitude Should Be The Same As That Of Christ Jesus‖ (Phil 2:5) ............................ 27 11. 4 Pillars of Spiritual Instruction .................... 33 12. A Tale of Something, or Nothing, and God37 13. Estrangement and Belongedness in the Ultimate Sacrifice of God .......................... 38 14. Success in God‘s World .............................. 44 15. Dealing with Rejection the Jesus Way ..... 45 16. Is Money All One Needs?........................... 52 17. Making Ministry Needs Known .................. 55 18. Beauty for Ashes – Poem ........................... 56 19. Seeking God‘s Approval in Life ................. 57 20. Do Not Worry – Poem ................................. 60 21. Man Beyond Nothingness.......................... 62 22. WINNER – Acrostic....................................... 64
23. What Manner of Spirit Are You Of? (Luke 9:51-56) ......................................................... 65 24. Freedom in the Truth (John 8:32) .............. 72 25. What is Life? ................................................. 82 26. ―Love Keeps No Record of Wrongs‖ (1Cor.13:5).................................... 84 27. How Does God Speak to Us or Lead Us?. 87 28. Dealing with Frustration the Jesus Way .... 89 29. The Cross is the Mission ............................... 94 30. Everything Beautiful in Its Time (Eccl. 3:11)95 31. Knowing God‘s Will in Life (Rom.12:2) .... 101 32. Patience ..................................................... 105 33. Understanding the Chastening of God . 108 34. Waver-Winds or the Enemies of Stability in Faith ............................................................ 111 35. Work Throughout the Daylight ................ 113 36. Looking to Jesus and Moving Forward .. 114 37. The Priority of God‘s Work ........................ 116 38. Systems of Offences and Leaders of Change ..................................................................... 126 39. Intelligent Living – Pressing Toward the Goal (Phil 3:13,14) ............................................... 139 40. The World is Not Your End ........................ 147 41. Secrets of Spiritual Strength (2 Tim. 2:1-6)149 42. Winning through Discipline and Diligence152 43. Self-Control – An Essential Qualification of God‘s Servant ............................................ 156 44. On Being a Star - Poem ............................ 158 45. Multiplying Your Talents (Matt.25:14-30) 159
46. The Power of Asking in Prayer ................. 165 47. Wisdom is the Principal Thing .................. 167 48. Protect Your Heart - Poem....................... 175 49. Faith - Poem ............................................... 176
The train chugged through another platform and the speed caught on. ―What degree do you hold,‖ the senior gentleman asked the polished young man. ―Always to a feverish level, Sir,‖ he smilingly replied. ―I didn‘t mean the degree of your temperature, boy! What degree of learning or education do you hold?‖ ―Oh! Well, it should be an M.A…. Sir.‖ ―What do you mean?‖ ―It means Moving Ahead, Sir; and it‘s a degree that no University can offer; it is something that you offer yourself!‖ The senior gentleman smiled, ―Young man, you are wise; but, remember the moment you stop practicing your degree, it is gone.‖ ―Yes Sir! But, one can always find it and hold it again as long as there is life.‖ ―And, there is much before you; so keep Moving Ahead!‖ ―Same wishes to you too Sir!‖
7 Rules of Success
1. Exhaust your arrows and you‘ll be undefeatable. Give life your all.
Elisha had become sick with the illness of which he would die. Then Joash the king of Israel came down to him, and wept over his face, and said, “O my father, my father, the chariots of Israel and their horsemen!” And Elisha said to him, “Take a bow and some arrows.” So he took himself a bow and some arrows. Then he said to the king of Israel, “Put your hand on the bow.” So he put his hand on it, and Elisha put his hands on the king‟s hands. And he said, “Open the east window”; and he opened it. Then Elisha said, “Shoot”; and he shot. And he said, “The arrow of the Lord‟s deliverance and the arrow of deliverance from Syria; for you must strike the Syrians at Aphek till you have destroyed them.” Then he said, “Take the arrows”; so he took them. And he said to the king of Israel, “Strike the ground”; so he struck three times, and stopped. And the man of God was angry with him, and said, “You should have struck five or six times; then you would have
struck Syria till you had destroyed it! But now you will strike Syria only three times.” (2Ki 13:14-19) Joash was a timid and fearful king; so, he was afraid and reluctant to give his all. One doesn‘t succeed by just trying a little. Only those who give their all for the vision are able to have the vision. Remember Eleazer, one of David‘s mighty men. He never would give up and fought with all his might. “Eleazar the son of Dodo, the Ahohite, one of the three mighty men with David when they defied the Philistines who were gathered there for battle, and the men of Israel had retreated. He arose and attacked the Philistines until his hand was weary, and his hand stuck to the sword. The LORD brought about a great victory that day; and the people returned after him only to plunder.” (2Sa 23:9-10)
2. When you don‘t feel like walking, start running
They say that, in the military, if don‘t feel like walking anymore, the commander asks you to run. If you don‘t feel like cooking at all, try this: plan up to make a special dish and see how your energy boosts up. “Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ‟s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2Co 12:10)
3. Aim high in order to hit the bull‘s eye. (Imagination, Ideals)
The Austrian psychiatrist, Viktor Frankl once said that no one will be able to hit the bull‘s eye, if he aims straight. So, we need to have the highest ideals and aim perfection, or else we‘ll fall to mediocrity. “Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to
those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (Phil 3:13-14)
4. You discharge with people lesser than you, you recharge with people greater than you.
There‘s nothing that can be said better than what Proverbs says: “He who walks with wise men will be wise, But the companion of fools will be destroyed.”(Pro 13:20) Spend time listening to people who are
successful. Don‘t listen to unsuccessful people who try to be successful by criticizing the successful ones. They can‘t even damage them. But, if you sit with mockers, you‘ll lose the blessing of wise living (Psalm 1:1). Make friends with those who are experienced and men and women of character. Honor them and learn from them. Don‘t go down to the level of people lesser than you, by trying to please them. Instead, teach them what you have learnt. Don‘t allow them to drain you down. Don‘t keep negative people around you, who only complain and accomplish
nothing. Your friends should be those who think positively. Spend time especially in prayer and meditating on God‘s word. Remember, Jesus spent whole nights in prayer. He knew that there is no substitute for spending time with the Father.
5. Junk chokes. (Don‘t compromise your purity-Love)
“You shall not pervert justice; you shall not show partiality, nor take a bribe, for a bribe blinds the eyes of the wise and twists the words of the righteous. (Deu 16:19) “Surely oppression destroys a wise man‟s reason, And a bribe debases the heart.” (Ecc 7:7) “Her heads judge for a bribe, Her priests teach for pay, And her prophets divine for money. Yet they lean on the LORD, and say, “Is not the LORD among us? No harm can come upon us.” (Mic 3:11) Sin warps reality thinking and destroys right reasoning powers. It damages the conscience,
darkens the mind, debases the heart, and corrupts manners. Never compromise with sin. Never allow even a jot of sin in your life. Sinful people may look successful. But, the devil can‘t make anybody rich. He only will help someone plunder and exploit someone else. And, that is debasing action.
6. Create circumstances, don‘t be created by them. You always have the final freedom to choose your reactions. Don‘t be dead because the world wants you dead.
“So all those in the synagogue, when they heard these things, were filled with wrath, and rose up and thrust Him out of the city; and they led Him to the brow of the hill on which their city was built, that they might throw Him down over the cliff. Then passing through the midst of them, He went His way.”(Luk 4:28-30) Don‘t let things around you compel you, choke you, and make you their slaves. Know God, know yourself, and go the way God has ordered for you fearlessly.
7. Trust God with all your strength; and He‘ll put all His strength before you.
“As for God, His way is perfect; The word of the LORD is proven; He is a shield to all who trust in Him.” (Psa 18:30) When you trust in God, people and things will have to cross over Him first before they get to you. Surrender, submit, rely, and cling to God, and He‘ll cover you.
5 Principles of Moving Ahead (Philippians 3:13-15)
Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. All of us who are mature should take such a view of things…. Only let us live up to what we have already attained. (Php 3:13-16) 1. CONSECRATION. ―To take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.‖ (v13) Recognize your calling in life, the purpose for which God has separated you and commit yourself to it. Check inside. Try to see the thing that you know you are supposed to be focusing on and which defines the mission and the meaning of fulfillment in your life. Look at life as a mission. Nothing will be achieved without consecration to the vision. 2. CONCENTRATION. ―One thing I do…‖ (v14). Instead of doing the many things, focus majorly on the one thing that you are really supposed to do.
3. CONFRONTATION. ―I press on…. I press on.‖ (vv13,14). Move against the current. Don‘t panic. Don‘t fear. Drive the irrational fears away. Take the first step, for the first step taken is half the journey made. At any cost, face the future. 4. CONTINUATION. ―I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it…. Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on…‖ (v14). Keep moving. Do not stop. The moment you stop to progress, you begin to regress; and that will only lead to regrets. As someone said, do not let your setbacks to make you sit back. The only vacation that you have is continuation. 5. CONSERVATION. ―let us live up to what we have already attained…‖ (v 16). Keep a record of your progress. Make jottings along the line. Take an inventory of what you already have. Progress builds upon progress. If you can‘t conserve, you‘ll begin losing. Revise. Rehearse. Repeat. Aim at excellence in all things. There should never come a need for you to go back to Grade 5 when you‘ve already reached Grade 8. Build on. Keep Moving Ahead.
Board: Pastor, but we don‘t have the money!!! Pastor: Does that ―we‖ also include God?
A Dozen Mirrors Wouldn‘t Do – Poem
You glance at the panes While walking on the lanes, To catch of you a picture, To be certain of how you do. You gaze at your reflection On every polished section To read your face in some mirror Thinking a dozen mirrors will finally do. Some mirrors are false, Some mirrors are true, Some mirrors inflate, Some deflate you. Some think you‘re a class, Some think you look like a fool, Some make you feel elate, Some try to disintegrate you. Why bother what the mirrors say, o man? Why bother what they tell about you? Each surface has its own interpretation, Each owing to its own personal hue.
Know yourself, grow up, o man! Stop looking at what the world thinks of you. Look in the eyes of your Creator, they‘re there! A dozen mirrors wouldn‘t do.
The Benefits of Drawing Close to God
“Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.” (James 4:8) He is not far from any of us, but unless one turns towards God one is still far from Him.
1. The Only Way to Be Able To See God Better is To Get Closer To Him.
We never get any good view of anything from far. Though God is close to each one of us, unless we turn our hearts to get closer to Him, we won‘t be able to see Him in our lives. But, the moment we turn to Him the veil is removed and we get into the Spirit and become free, reflecting His very glory (2 Corinthians 3:16-18).
Walking in the light is like the choice of turning the lights on or off. One moment we can be in the fullness of light, the very next moment in pitch darkness. Remember Peter, how for a moment he was praised because he spoke by divine revelation that Jesus was the Son of God, but the very next moment he had to be rebuked with the words ―Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men.‖ (Matthew 16:23). It is drawing near to God that makes all the difference. Psalm 73: The story of how Asaph experienced bitterness and frustration when he turned his eyes towards the world, despite the fact that he lived in the Temple of God. He confessed ―I was near You, and yet became a beast‖ (Psalm 73:22, acc. the Hindi Version). However, he found the answer when he entered the sanctuary of the Lord and determined ―it is good for me to draw near to God‖ (73:28). When it seems He is nowhere around, remember it‘s time to get closer to God.
2. In His Presence is Fullness of Joy (Psalm 16:11).
When we‘re in God‘s presence, there will not be any reason to be joyless. Lack of joy is sign of something missing in our lives. Is something blocking our getting closer to Him? When life is not productive, it becomes joyless. King Solomon was successful in every way the world might think a man could be successful. He had wealth, wisdom, riches, and honor. He was more intelligent than any one on earth. He was the best ruler on earth. He did great works of construction, unparalleled in history, and wrote books. However, at the end of all he found his life and works to be a total emptiness. ―Vanity of vanities, all is vanity‖ he cried out in the book of Ecclesiastes. Worldly success didn‘t give him joy. Finally, he found the answer in drawing closer to God and finding true fulfillment in the worship and service of Him. Unless our lives are useful for God, we have only labored in vain. Jesus said that the Father wants us to be fruitful, and fruitfulness and the fullness of joy go together (John 15:8,11). A woman experiences such great joy when she gives birth to a baby, that she
forgets all her pain. However, there cannot be any fruitfulness unless we abide in the Vine, i.e. stay closer and connected with Him. Remember, unless our all belongs to Him, His all cannot belong to us. That is the beauty of connection. When we draw near to Him, He draws near to us.
3. There is Perfect Rest in the Presence of the Lord.
Jesus said, ―Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.‖ (Matthew 11:28). Many times people make religion so
complicated and filled with things that it all becomes a big burden. However, Jesus taught us that religion is not what God is all about. Jesus didn‘t come to create a new world religion; He came to bring back God‘s children back to the Father. It‘s as simple as that. Christianity is just one single fact: God‘s relationship with man and His call to draw closer to Him.
Divine Persuasion in Ministry
In 2 Corinthians 5, Paul talks of two strong things that persuade and constrain him to preach Christ: 1. The Wrath of Christ. ―For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad. Knowing, therefore, the terror of the Lord, we persuade men…” (2Cor. 5:10-11) 2. The Love of Christ. ―For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died; and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again.‖ (2Cor. 5:14-15)
Patience, the Steel of Character – Poem
Patience is the steel of character, Patience is the strength of the inner man, Patience is the final factor In the test of God‘s perfect man. Patience will keep you through fire, Patience will keep you from the heat of the day, Patience will keep you from all desire That seeks to destroy God‘s complete man. Patience is the test of faith, Patience is the test of love, Patience is the test of hope In God‘s goodness towards men. Patience cannot be bought by money, It isn‘t gained through ascetic pain. Yet, Patience need not be gained so, for Patience is the gift of the Spirit within every man.
―The fruit of the Spirit is…patience‖ (Gal. 5:22) ―let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.‖ (James 1:4)
―In your patience you shall possess your souls.‖ (Luke 21:19)
Modern Ministry Myths #Money &Ministry
They say that it is impossible to serve God without money. But Peter said to the lame man, ―Silver and gold have I none but what I have I give to you.‖ And he gave him what the world couldn‘t give. That is divine ministry. The modern day worker would like to set up an organization for the lame and raise for them money instead of giving what God has called us to give- the Name of Jesus. Interesting that Jesus never taught His disciples to make ministry needs known to the world. He simply assured them that the Father will provide. But modern day ministries are consumed by the need to raise funds. But they can‘t even get in a decade what Peter got in a day without money, by only the Name of Jesus.
To say that money is necessary is one thing, to say that ministry is impossible without money is a biblical mistake. To build the work of God on anything other than the True Foundation, Jesus Christ is self-defeating. God has ordained that the needs of the ministry be supplied by the acts of generous giving by saints. When one gives to the needs of the saints and the work of ministry, one gives to the Lord (2 Cor 9:12). It is important how, where, and what the collection of offerings are used for. God can do more with faith-possesing and fully committed men of God than with foreign-aided and fund-oriented ministerial businesses. In fact, He would usually do without them.
God Cannot Be Doubted, He Is In Control – A Short Story
The jailer pushed the youth into his prison cell with utter disgust. The youth had been convicted for attempt to rape, a serious crime, and even more serious when committed in the premises of a government official‘s residence. From their cells, the other prisoners gazed at the youth with astonishment and contempt. He snuggled into a corner. There were whisperings and comments in tones and terms that would send chills down the spine. And, they continued for long and long till the heavy rug of the night dampened all sight and sound. After a while, only the guards could be heard walking with their spears tapping on the ground. The taps were being mixed with rhythmic snores buzzing through the cells. In his locked corner, the youth sobbed with hushed tears. He
groaned in between snivels in a language different than that spoken in this land: ―Why is this happening to me?‖
―What have I done to deserve this injustice?‖ ―Now, I‘m hated by my family and also by the world for no wrong?‖ The world was fast asleep. He was talking to God. But, was God also listening? Or, was He as indifferent as the world around? Was He also compelled by circumstances and the violent wills of men? The past was too painful. The future looked bleak, uncertain, and dark. The youth kept weeping for a long time till it seemed all his tears had run dry. Then he stopped for a little while, and all of a sudden started weeping the more vehemently again. This time it seemed he was singing a song: ―Forgive me Lord for doubting Your hand That holds the scepter over sky, water, and land; By one gesture, You have signaled it to be, That the luminaries of heavens bow down to me.
And, yet not to me but to You who commands! What power can resist it, what mortal hand!‖ He moved his shackled hands and the chains clanked. A prisoner woke up in the opposite cell and fell to snoring again. ―Darkness has covered me like a thick cloud, And I can‘t see You anywhere around; But, should I ask for proof before I believe, Should I have the answer before its appointed time? Should I trust my sight and doubt Your might By which the day exists and also the night! Yes, also this night! Yes, also this night!‖ The youth fell asleep. Unseen by him, two luminous angels who stood guard over his cell talked to each other, ‗This young man knows our Master, and he knows that the Master cannot be doubted.‖ Just then two other angels appeared. ―You are both summoned to the Master now; we‘ll take over. The sun is soon to rise; has the boy found some rest?‖ they inquired. ―Yes, he has found rest,‖ they smilingly answered and disappeared.
Several years after this incident, the boy became the Prime Minister of that nation. The King gave him the name Zaphnath-Paaneah, which some believe means ―the preserver of life‖; others think that it means ―the one to whom secrets are revealed.‖ But, we remember him as Joseph, the dreamer of dreams.
―Your Attitude Should Be The Same As That Of Christ Jesus‖ (Phil 2:5)
“Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus” (Phil 2:5) Attitudes are our disposition towards someone or something. Our attitudes affect our character and relationships. Attitudes are important; they can either make a person or break him. Some years back a research was done on job interviewees who were successful in getting a job. The research revealed that the majority of those who got the jobs got them not because they were smart but because they had a right attitude. The Bible teaches us that God wants us to have the attitude of Christ. He left for us an example of how we must look at and treat our fellowmen, our children, our elders, and God.
Jude 10-11 lists three kinds of attitudes that can destroy the life of any person. Yet these men speak abusively against whatever they do not understand; and what things they do understand by instinct, like unreasoning animals– these are the very things that destroy them. Woe to them! They have taken the way of Cain; they have rushed for profit into Balaam„s error; they have been destroyed in Korah„s rebellion. (Jude 1:10-11) The three destroyers are: 1. The Way of Cain. It is the attitude of selfishness, envy, and hatred against one‘s brother. A person with this kind of attitude will never be happy at anyone else‘ success. He would always desire his own praise despite his shortcomings and sins. He doesn‘t look at the man whom God accepts as an example but looks at him as his enemy. King Saul was another example of a man with this attitude. 2. The Error of Balaam. The attitude of Balaam was materialistic and utilitarian. He even felt that God could change His mind, and when it
seemed that God wouldn‘t, he tried to corrupt Israel by introducing worldliness into their life. He was ruled by the love of money which is the root of all evil. Jesus said that a man cannot serve both God and Money. The rich young man couldn‘t follow Jesus because he loved money. Balaam‘s error lay in considering godliness as a means of gain. A mind dehumanized by money can never look at others as fellow-humans. It loses the love for neighbor and God. 3. The Rebellion of Korah. Korah‘s was the attitude of pride. It was the Luciferic attitude. It is the I-am-better-than-thou attitude. Korah rebelled because he was not ready and willing to accept any God-appointed authority over his life. Now, look at the attitude of Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death–even death on a cross! (Phil 2:6-8)
Attitude determines the formation of character, and character is what a person is. If suppose I asked someone who he is, he may reply by saying that he is related to so and so, or he is a teacher or an engineer or a doctor. But, God doesn‘t look at a person in that manner. God looks at one‘s character. Surely you desire truth in the inner parts; you teach me wisdom in the inmost place. (Psalm 51:6) Character is something between God and the person. It is God who sees and judges. A few things need to be noted about character. 1. Education cannot build character. If it could then sin couldn‘t co-exist with knowledge. Education can inform but cannot transform. If it could then why would people be smoking cigarettes and chewing tobacco despite the warning that tobacco causes cancer, why would there be corruption among the police who are expected to know and protect the law, and why would there be wine-lovers among medical practitioners. King Solomon had so much knowledge but he couldn‘t keep character.
2. Anointing cannot build character. If it could Lucifer wouldn‘t have fallen. He was known as the anointed cherub (Eze 28). King Saul had the anointing but he lost his character. 3. Religion cannot build character. If it could the Pharisees and Sadducees wouldn‘t have crucified Jesus. Jesus called them hypocrites. It was not the sinners and publicans who wanted Jesus crucified. It was the men with religious authority who didn‘t have character. In each case, attitude determined what one was. If character is to be built there must be a change in the way of thinking; in our disposition. And the first in the line is the attitude of self-emptying, as Jesus did. One needs to humble himself before the Lord. You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise. (Psa 51:16-17)
One must die to self, to the world, and to sin; or else, he can never be a follower of Christ. The attitude of total repentance is the beginning of forsaking the old and following the Lord. Unless the heart is broken because of the sin, repentance is not possible. A hardened heart is rebellious in nature. A repentant heart is reverent. Secondly, the Bible teaches us that evil company corrupts good habits (1Cor. 15:33). It also says that ―he who walks with wise men will be wise, but the companion of fools will be destroyed‖ (Pro.13:20). The Book of Psalms begins with warning us against wrong companionship; so also does the Book of Proverbs. Right attitudes are formed in the fellowship of the Master; right character is formed in the crucible of one‟s walk with the Master. Let us walk with a heart that is ready to repent from the wrong and committed to live and die for the Truth, a heart that continues to be transformed through the walk with Jesus.
4 Pillars of Spiritual Instruction
Spiritual Instruction must be a part of every home in order for each family to be strong. Following are the four pillars of Spiritual Instruction:
1. Sound Doctrine
This is the RULE OF TRUTH. It provides the RIGHT PERSPECTIVE in life. Titus 2:1 But speak thou the things which become sound doctrine. 2Timothy 1:13 Hold fast the form of sound words, which you have heard of me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus. 2Timothy 3:15 And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.
2. Sound Discipline
This is the RULE OF PATIENCE. It produces STRONG CHARACTER. Proverbs 12:24 The hand of the diligent shall bear rule: but the slothful shall be under tribute. Proverbs 22:29 Seest thou a man diligent in his business? he shall stand before kings; he shall not stand before mean men. Proverbs 19:18 Discipline your son while there is hope; do not set your heart on his destruction. Proverbs 22:15 Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline drives it far from him. Proverbs 23:13 Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you beat him with a rod, he will not die. Proverbs 29:17 Discipline your son, and he will give you rest; he will give delight to your heart. 2Timothy 2:3 Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.
2Timothy 2:4 No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier. 2Timothy 2:5 And if a man also strive for masteries, yet is he not crowned, except he strive lawfully. Romans 5:4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope. (RSV)
3. Spotless Devotion
This is the RULE OF LOVE. It guards the heart with PURE AFFECTIONS. Galatians 5:6 faith which worketh by love. 2Corinthians 7:10 For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death. 2Corinthians 11:2 For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.
Titus 2:12 Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world. Hebrews 12:28 Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear.
4. Spiritual Deeds
This is the RULE OF ACTION. It accomplishes GOD‘S WILL. James 2:17 Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. James 2:20 faith without works is dead. Romans 8:14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. Galatians 5:25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.
A Tale of Something, or Nothing, and God
In the beginning was God and nothing. Then, God created something out of nothing. But, soon that something forgot she was once a nothing. And, forgetting herself and God, she assumed herself to be everything. And, assuming herself to be everything, she died to everything else and God. After many days, when this something had run out of everything she got, She came to her senses and ―Who am I? Where am I?‖ she thought. Then, she realized she was a nothing without her God, And so returned to her original place in God. In the end was God and something.
Estrangement and Belongedness in the Ultimate Sacrifice of God
“He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name…” (John 1:10-12) The sense of belonging is an amazing epistemic quality among humans. The animal world is not without it: the lioness with her cubs, the elephant with her calves, and the eagle with her eaglets portray a picture of attachment that are the subject of many a story, It is movie, and a documentary novel. But, in humans the sense is qualitatively different. epistemic and existential. Martin Buber talked of its occurrence in two worlds of relationships: the I-It (related to the world of utility) and the I-Thou (related to the world of relational bonds). Where the sense of I38
Estrangement is a horrific aftermath of a loss of the Thou in the I-Thou world of epistemic and existential sensibility. Added to that, this is also the world where values (both aesthetic and moral) are a reality beyond any materialistic, scientific recognition. The sense is spiritual. The world is spiritual. Therefore, loneliness, boredom, emptiness, and rootlessness are not causes but symptoms of disturbance in the world of I-Thou. Their persistence will result in the human person seeking escapism in some alternate I-It world (sensations (drugs, sex, alcohol, etc) or antisensation (sleep, suicide). Volumes can be written on this topic. But, let‘s focus on the verse before us today. When John talks about the Word (God the Son) being in the world, the word ―world‖ comprehends both the physical and the human. The human, in fact, is responsible for how the world treats God. The human is the world. Now, it was through the Son that the world was brought into existence – the world that belongs to humans, since it was given to them. But, humanity fell into the corruption of
sin and the bondage of death (and with it the entire creation was made subject to bondage). Rom 5:12 Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned: Rom 8:20 For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope Rom 8:22 For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. Death, in essence, was not merely physical. It was spiritual, epistemic, existential, aesthetic, and ethical. Sin brought estrangement from God (the ultimate Thou in the relational set). Yet, the umbilical cord was not snapped, or else man would have sunk into diabolical hellishness. We see strands of love and belongedness and a deep quest for God in the hearts of men. Distortions only occur where the I-Thou world has been fully erased. The Scripture records that God didn‘t leave humans alone; His spirit kept striving with them, and through prophets and holy men of God in every tribe, He communicated to them
an anticipation of liberation that was soon to come: Rom 8:19 For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God. Rom 8:21 Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. The reason why the Son of God came to the world was because the world was made through Him – it ultimately belonged to Him. It was lost; yet, it was His. He was willing to leave alone the 99 in order to seek this one that was lost. But the world did not recognize Him, His own didn‘t receive Him. There are sharp, acute, and yet distinct pictures here. The pictures are sharper in prose than any poetry can portray. The world is not the world as a whole and yet it is the world as a whole. Not everybody failed to recognize Him, and not everybody rejected Him; and, yet in the moment of the Sacrifice, that was what happened. The world as a whole was represented by the leaders (both religious and political) who put to death the Son of God. The
depth of estrangement and contortion was manifest in the kind of death administered: the death of the Cross. It was the world that failed to recognize Him – the world that belonged to Him. Yet, the real story is not that the world rejected Him; the real story is that He was willing to let the world reject Him. Divine self-emptying, divine servanthood, and divine crucifixion are powerful themes that shock the philosophy of religion. Nietzsche called the greatest of all sins to be the murder of God (deicide). There was nothing more sinful than that. On the reverse, the greatest of all righteousness fulfilled was in the self-giving of the Son of God. This self-giving brought an end to the history of hostility between man and God. It cancelled all debts. Man had committed the greatest of all crimes, and God had allowed it to be done to Him in the ultimate divine sacrifice. The Cross was where Justice and Love met vis-à-vis. It was where man affirmed his estrangement and God affirmed His belongedness. It was where God accepted man as he was. The one act of righteousness by the Son of God nullified forever the writ of accusation against all humanity. The veil was torn away; the entrance is paved, now the ball is in our court. He
has accepted us. Do we receive Him or choose to remain estranged? Therefore, ―as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name.‖
Success in God‘s World
By the world‘s definition of success, the devil is the Leadership Guru ultimate… If he wrote a leadership book today, it would be the ultimate bestseller and bag multiple awards. He runs the largest industry and has the widest influence, anyway. If you want success in God‘s world, deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow Him regardless of what the world says.
Dealing with Rejection the Jesus Way
To be rejected and to feel rejected are two different things. The former is an event; the latter, an experience, a choice. Every choice involves a selection and a rejection. Because somebody has made a choice not to select us in some kind of a relationship (society, job, friendship, marriage, etc) doesn‘t mean that the rejection is universal. You are not universally rejected. There are still some who accept you. And, even if there is nobody, you are the choice of God, because it was His choice to create you as you are. He didn‘t create you for anybody else so much as He has created you to be His child and beloved one; and our relationship with others only must proceed out of our relationship with Him.
Leah: Human Rejection is Not Divine Rejection
We know of Leah in the Bible who was, in a way, rejected by her father (he wanted to marry her off as soon as possible), her society, and her husband Jacob. The only reason given was she wasn‘t beautiful and had weak eyes. But, the Bible makes it clear that she was accepted by God. Do you know that the priestly family and the royal family both descended from her sons Levi and Judah? In her lineage were great priests, prophets, and kings; but, even greater, the Son of God became flesh in her line of descendents. Jesus was born of the tribe of Judah. She is a great example of a strong woman because she never allowed anybody‘s rejection of her to make her feel unworthy and lost. She knew who she was and knew what she was supposed to do in the context that she was born and wedded into. Today, a great part of World was. History (Judeo-Christian) owes its distinctiveness to her courage to be what she
Job: Absolute Stability in the Midst of Adverse Storms
It is usually not a good feeling when one is rejected for reasons that one is not directly responsible for. Also, it is even painful when one is rejected for reasons of being misunderstood. Job was someone who both fell into adversity and was also gravely misunderstood by his own friends. Of course, his servants left him and despised him when he became bankrupt – their relationship was only materialistic, anyway (they used to crave his acceptance because they needed money). But, the greatest pain came when his friends called him an evil and wicked person and argued that his adversity was the result of his sins. The greatness of Job is found in the fact that though rejection had touched his bones, he never lost gripped over his view of God and of himself. His memory did not falter due to adversity; his hopes did not die because of his adversaries. The Bible says that God rewarded him two-fold in the end for his faithfulness towards Him.
Jesus: Rejected by Men, of Men, for Men
Yet, there is no picture of rejection so acute as the picture of Jesus humiliated and nailed on the Cross of Calvary. The Bible talks of Him as the One who was ―despised and rejected by men‖ (Isaiah 53:3). The despisal was so bitter that they wanted Him to die the severest death possible and felt no moral remorse about it. Yet, on the Cross He prayed to His Father to forgive them and promised to the repentant thief that he would be with Him in paradise. His connection with His Father and His will was perfect and fully independent of what people thought about, said of, and did to Him. Therefore, ―the Stone which the builders rejected has become the Chief Cornerstone‖ (Matthew 21:42). The cross might have been the ultimate symbol of rejection to the world; it was the ultimate symbol of triumph in the sight of heaven, a triumph over reasons that separated humanity from God (Colossians 2:14,15). God doesn‘t forsake His people. His arms are ever opened. However, this lifetime is the time of choices. When somebody repents, the Father‘s arms receive that person with great joy, because
He is the Father. In going away, actually, it is not God who rejects a person, but a person turning his back on God. Yet, He waits with open arms, and His love pursues us wherever we go. The Bible also talks of God as the King. And, in this aspect, rejection of the King is a political crime with consequences of eternal banishment of anyone, even if he were a prince, who has rebelled against the laws of the Kingdom. So, Biblical warnings are serious. The Kingdom of God is not a democracy where the leader is elected by majority of votes; it is a reality that is eternal and must be accepted as such. Rejecting God is like rejecting oxygen and trying to breathe without it, like rejecting the ground beneath our feet and trying to still be grounded on it. It is a self-contradictory experience. Our rejection of God doesn‘t affect God; it affects us. In closing, let me underscore a few Jesus Principles with regards to dealing with rejection: 1. Do not let your feelings of rejection overpower your acceptance before God. He has not rejected you, and that is the eternal fact. He created you for a purpose and the purpose is more real than what people feel, think, do, or
say. Even Jesus felt forsaken on the cross when He cried ―My God My God why have You forsaken Me!‖ But, at the end, He knew He could submit His spirit into the Father‘s hands, because He was acceptable before the Father though the world had rejected Him. The Father had not rejected Him. If you have been rejected by someone you deeply loved, remember that this is not a surprise to God though it may look a shock to you. Therefore, prepare not to be offended; and if you have been, destroy the feelings by faith in God‘s control over your life. Love them still whether they betray, forsake, or deny; because, the pursuit of love will win someone who had a heart of love beneath the mask of inhibition (Matthew 26:23, 49, 50; John 21:17). Do not commit yourself to any human because they seem to be accepting you. Human acceptance is usually selfish in nature (John 2:24) Never expect praise and honor from men for being true to God (John 5:44). Do not compromise your faith in order to feel accepted. Such acceptance is bondage. Never try to please men. Don‘t put any human at the center. Do only things that please the Father (John 8:29). Do not let anybody‘s rejection make you forget your identity and mission before God (Luke 4:18-30). Do not die because people want you dead. Remember ―He passed through the midst of them and went His way.‖
7. Learn to respect freedom of choice to be independent, though not against you (Luke 11:23). 8. Bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who persecute you (Matthew 5:44). 9. Rejoice when the world hates you because it hates Jesus, because this shows that your witness is clear and that your light is truly shining out so that they know you belong to Christ (Matthew 5:12). But, never do something or say something that will give a false caricature of Christ and become a stumbling block for people. 10. Be faithful to God, be faithful to your family, and be faithful to those whom God has placed within your circle of responsibility; for that is the whole meaning of your life (John 17:4; 13:1; 19:25-27; 21:15-17).
Is Money All One Needs?
I recently heard a mother say something like this: ―I want my children to get the best of education, because education and money is all one needs at the end of the day. If you got good education, it‘ll help make money, and if you got money, you got respect, you got a place, a position, a standing in society. If you don‘t have money, you are a nobody.‖ In contrast, Jesus made it very clear: ―one‘s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses‖ (Lk. 12:15). He told the Parable of the Rich Fool, that we know. The Fool thought that his unprecedented success in business had now set him for life. He got life. But God called him a fool since his death was ordained for that same night, and his success in business could not stop it nor follow him beyond the grave. On that same night, the rich fool would find himself before God in the most impoverished condition; because what he hadn‘t spent for the poor and for the kingdom of God had remained behind for
other men to use or squander. He had invested nothing in the kingdom that rules both heaven and earth; and so, he lost life both here and in the hereafter. O Henry said it well, ―We can‘t buy one minute of time with cash; if we could, rich people would live longer.‖ Jesus poses the deeper question, ―What does a man gain if he gains the whole world, but loses his own soul?‖ He, therefore, commanded us to be rich toward God, i.e., rich in things of God. He told us to have treasures in heaven and not merely store up things on earth. To His disciples, He said ―Life is more than food, and the body is more than clothing‖ (Lk. 12:23). He commanded us to change the focus from earning bread to doing the will of God, to change the focus from establishing our own security on earth to giving ourselves up fully for the kingdom of God. This simply means that we stop working merely for daily bread; on the contrary, whatever we do must be done in interest of the kingdom of God. In this way, we won‘t be like those who are focussed on money-making and moneyhoarding. But, we will use whatever we have and
whatever we get along this life‘s journey on earth for the kingdom of God. We won‘t focus on hoarding up money for self-interest; we‘ll focus on spending it generously for divine-interest. The fact is He is interested in the salvation of our souls. Jesus says, ―Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father‘s good pleasure to give you the kingdom‖ (Lk. 12:32). Do not be vexed with thoughts of earthly security, for God has decided to make us inheritors of His kingdom.
Making Ministry Needs Known
Jesus never told His disciples to make ―m inistry needs‖ known to the world. The One who sends is the One who provides everything. How He does it is His business. ‗And He said to them, ―When I sent you without money bag, knapsack, and sandals, did you lack anything?‖ So they said, ―Nothing.‖ (Lk.22:35)
Beauty for Ashes – Poem
I‘ve seen beauty, I‘ve seen strength; I‘ve seen them all pass away at length. I‘ve seen such class that influence the masses; But I‘ve seen them die and turn to ashes. My ashes remain at the foot of the cross, From whence I‘ve risen to gain against loss A life eternal, a life all new, A life that‘s known by only a few. Now, I‘m ready to write a song, A song to the Lover who forgave my wrong. He calls me out from the wandering masses, He loves my soul and gives me beauty for ashes. ―To give them beauty for ashes…‖ (Isaiah 61:3)
Seeking God‘s Approval in Life
The Spirit defines the meaning of ―success‖ in a Christian‘s life; not feeling or feedback. One is slave to the one he seeks approval from. While we can understand how riches could become a trap for the rich young man who couldn‘t follow Jesus, and how bad affections could mutilate the heart of Herod from refusing to accept Jesus, there is one other group that Jesus sternly rebuked several times for their slavery to a master that stood against Christ. They were the religious leaders of the day and were reproved for seeking the approval and honor of men. He told them John 5:44 “How can you believe, who receive honor from one another, and do not seek the honor that comes from the only God?” They were slaves to humans and thus were prevented from serving God. The Bible tells us clearly ―Cursed is the man who trusts in man and
makes flesh his strength, whose heart departs from the LORD. ―(Jer 17:5) But Jesus laid an example for us. When many people responded to Him after seeing His miracles, the Gospel records John 2:23 Now when He was in Jerusalem at the Passover, during the feast, many believed in His name when they saw the signs which He did. John 2:24 But Jesus did not commit Himself to them, because He knew all men, John 2:25 and had no need that anyone should testify of man, for He knew what was in man. Jesus sought to please His Father. He came and lived to fulfill His will. And, it is His desire that we follow Him in doing so. Romans 12:2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. When He returns He should be able to say about us
Matthew 25:21 “His lord said to him, „Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.‟
Do Not Worry – Poem
Do not worry for you‘re in your Father‘s care, Do not worry for worry‘ll get you nowhere – Worry won‘t make you grow an inch tall, Worry can‘t save anyone from fall; Worry only adds to today‘s sorrow; So, let worry be banished to tomorrow. Do not worry– See how the lilies of the field do grow, They neither toil nor spin, won‘t remain till tomorrow; But, today, are more gorgeously dressed than Solomon was in all his grandeur. So, do not worry ‘bout what you will eat or wear, See how the Father feeds all the birds of the air. He decks the grass of the field with colors, He watches each little one with care; They neither toil nor spin, they neither sow nor reap, But they‘re all fully replenished by what God bountifully gives.
So, trust in your Father who cares for you 24/7; And where He is there‘ll you‘ll find life‘s true heaven. ~ JESUS CHRIST ~ Matthew 6:25-34
Man Beyond Nothingness
A particle afloat in the ocean of infinity, Yet, so conscious of self in profuse vanity – Lofty though his thoughts may be, they‘re all profanity. Man is nothing, made of nothing, that‘s his identity. Emptiness craves for sensation beyond sanity, Like a black hole eating anything in its vicinity, Such is the tale of empty, chaotic, gravity; Man is nothing, made of nothing, that‘s his identity. Lost in a world of baneful, belligerent brevity, Filled with protests of ignoramus sincerity, Tossed between lines lacking any clarity, He lives, dies, and is buried in utter poverty. The Son of God came down from His celestial city, He left Heaven and donned the garb of humanity. He lived, loved, and served in all simplicity,
Then died by the hands of those professing religiosity. But, He arose the third day, breaking death‘s jaws of fatality, Alas, the shame of those who die in their hostility! For the Son of Man is ascended to the Throne of Supremity – And all knees will bow before the Name of His Majesty, Before the One who is given all authority, Because He stooped down, emptied self and defeated vanity – God girded His loins to serve sinful humanity! What is man but a finite speck of futility, Driven o‘er surges, surrounded by fests of calamity; Unless the Son of God had loved us, we wouldn‘t have any identity! ―For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.‖ (Romans 8:29)
WINNER – Acrostic
W – Will to Win I – Initiate to Act N – Negate Nonsense (Stay Focused) N – Never Give up E – Endure Hardness (2Timothy 2:3) R – Rely on God
What Manner of Spirit Are You Of? (Luke 9:51-56)
Now it came to pass, when the time had come for Him to be received up, that He steadfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem, and sent messengers before His face. And as they went, they entered a village of the Samaritans, to prepare for Him. But they did not receive Him, because His face was set for the journey to Jerusalem. And when His disciples James and John saw this, they said, “Lord, do You want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them, just as Elijah did?” But He turned and rebuked them, and said, “You do not know what manner of spirit you are of. For the Son of Man did not come to destroy men‟s lives but to save them.” And they went to another village.(Luke 9:51-56) Every day, from morning till evening, we go through a number of experiences that excite our emotions, that compel our reactions, and that inspire our decisions. However, every time, we are reacting to something, we need to be asking
this question ―What manner of spirit is it that is compelling this reaction?‖ James and John needed to know that after 3.5 years of training at the feet of Jesus. How much more do we? Proverbs 16:2 says, ―All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes, but the LORD weighs the spirits.‖ We usually think that our actions are right until we submit ourselves to the discernment of the Lord. We need to examine ourselves in His light. Let‘s look at four categories of spirit under which people usually operate and also see what the Lord desires us to have:
1. Rebellious Versus Obedient Spirit
Regarding the Israelites, God tells to Ezekiel that they are a rebellious house (Ezek.2:5). It was their hardened heart and rebellious nature that brought destruction into their lives. Psalm 68:6 says ―God sets the solitary in families; He brings out those who are bound into prosperity; but the rebellious dwell in a dry land.‖ A rebellious person will never experience prosperity and blessing, but only experience dryness and barrenness. He
authorities, and therefore ends up in solitariness. A rebellious spirit is blocked to the will of God. Therefore, God says: ―If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land; But if you refuse and rebel, you shall be devoured by the sword‖; for the mouth of the LORD has spoken.‖ (Isaiah 1:19-20)
2. Haughty Versus Broken Spirit
The Bible says that Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall (Prov.16:18). It was a haughty spirit that turned an angel called Lucifer into the devil. Pride can begin like a grain of mustard, but will grow to become a cancer and turn a good person into a wicked man. Therefore, one must guard one‘s heart against pride. The Bible tells us that ―the sacrifices of God are a broken spirit‖ and that the Lord will never despise ―a broken and a contrite heart‖ (Psalm 51:17). We all remember the story of the pharisee and the publican. They both went to pray but the
pharisee could not pray because he was filled with religious pride. However, the publican was justified because he confessed his sins and begged for mercy. The Lord resists the proud but gives grace to the humble.
3. Angry Versus Patient Spirit
Let‘s look at a few scriptures here: Pro 14:17 A quick-tempered man acts foolishly. Pro 21:19 Better to dwell in the wilderness, than with a contentious and angry woman. Pro 22:24,25 Make no friendship with an angry man, and with a furious man do not go, lest you learn his ways and set a snare for your soul. The 70s and 80s are remembered as the era of the ―angry young man‖ movies. History tells us that these were also the era of high violence among students, workers, and people everywhere. Bad company spoils good manners. Quick-tempered anger is a sin that the Bible prohibits. See what the Bible says: “The patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit. Do not hasten in your spirit to be angry, for
anger rests in the bosom of fools.” (Eccl 7:8-9) “Be angry, and do not sin”: do not let the sun go down on your wrath, nor give place to the devil.” (Eph 4:26-27) Patience builds character, the Bible says
(Rom.5:4), and the test of our faith is the extent to which we can allow patience to work in our lives (James 1:4).
4. Distressing Versus Excellent Spirit
We are told in 1 Samuel 16:14 that a distressing spirit came and distressed Saul. This was a spirit that produced restlessness and robbed Saul of peace. However, when David used to play the instrument, that spirit used to leave Saul. Yet, not for long; for soon one day, Saul took a spear and hurled at David to pin him to death while he was playing the instrument. David escaped, but then that was the end of Saul‘s days of any peacefulness. Saul gave in to the distressing spirit. But, let‘s look at the testimony of Daniel in the midst of foreign rule, enemies all around, and while in exile:
“Then this Daniel distinguished himself above the governors and satraps, because an excellent spirit was in him; and the king gave thought to setting him over the whole realm.” (Daniel 6:3) Daniel had an excellent spirit; and therefore, he experienced favor and promotion in his life. People are attracted to those who have an excellent and noble spirit; who don‘t give in to circumstances, who live by principle, who are trustworthy, and who have the favor of God upon them. Do we have such excellent spirit? Rebellion, pride, anger, and distress are evils that drive away people and promotion away from us. They are carnal, unspiritual, and sinful. The Lord still asks us today what manner of spirit is it that is influencing our lives. Let‘s have an obedient, humble, patient, and an excellent spirit that brings glory to our Lord. We need to have a Holy Spirit controlled temperament.
Finally, this prayer: “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.” (Psalm 51:10)
Freedom in the Truth (John 8:32)
Of all the aphorisms on freedom ever uttered by human lips, the most liberating one is the declaration of Jesus in John 8:32: ―You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.‖ He further qualified it with another in verse 36, ―If the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.‖ More than any other time in history, the modern century is witness to this unshakeable truth of the Scriptures. Despite the ironic failure of the 18th century Enlightenment, which, while celebrating the freedom of the human mind from the shackles of religion, gave rise to an era of cosmic skepticism, and the horrific tales of the French Revolution that produced both the guillotines and the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen at the same time, the 19th century unabashedly ventured to erect a Babel of scientific and philosophical theories that attempted to redefine the meaning of man apart from the revelation of God. While the cannons kept thundering and humans kept
butchering each other, the doctors of thought kept celebrating the fact that at least now, man was free to chart his destiny as he liked. Darwin wrote the Origin of Species in 1859 and Marx published his Das Kapital in 1867, the former attempting to rewrite the history of man as biologically self-evolved and best-evolved; while the latter, as economically and politically progressing towards a utopian age of wealth and liberty (though ―utopia‖ was a term Marx disdained to use). The 20th century welcomed this optimism with the rage of war, the hatred of the Holocaust, and the earth-shaking detonations of the first atom bombs in Hiroshima and Nagasaki (as if it takes an atom bomb to shake the delirious world to its senses, now!). We didn‘t enter the Utopian Age: we entered the Atomic Age. The Bible never says that the world will start getting better as the Day of the Lord gets closer. That‘s the false hope of human wishful thinking. Education may inform, but cannot transform the nature of men. Neither can it free one from the domain of darkness and the rule of spiritual wickedness in the high places (Eph.6:12). The
whole world is under the control of the evil one, the Bible says (1Jn.5:19), and it is only because of the Lord‘s mercies and His unfailing compassions that we are not consumed (Lam.3:22). If the devil had the freedom, it would have been his pleasure to suck all humanity into his whirlpool of wickedness, even as a black hole sucks every object, even light, that comes near it. But, the Son of God has come to destroy the works of the devil (1Jn.3:8), the devil is a defeated foe, and those who obey the Gospel of the Son are delivered from the power of darkness into the Kingdom of His dear Son (Col.1.13). The paradox of a sinful mind is that it is unaware of its own sinfulness. Sadhu Sundar Singh described this condition as similar to that of a man underwater. If a 100 kilo weight was placed on his head, he wouldn‘t feel it so much; but, take him out of the water, and the weight will be very real. Similarly, a sinner sunk in his sin is unaware of the seriousness of his sin. It took a Nathan sent by God to shake David to his senses to realize the horrific nature of his crimes against the house of Uriah. Unless the Lord encounters us in His grace, we would be doomed to death in the anesthetic
insensitivity of our own fatal sinfulness. Only the Son can set us free by the liberating light and power of His Truth.
1. Liberating Light of His Truth
To the Greek mind of the 1st century, light was an important category. A few centuries back, the giant philosopher Plato had described the condition of humans in the Parable of the Cave. Though juxtaposed with a different connotation, the parable portrayed vividly men as chained inside a cave facing towards the wall, since childhood. There was a great fire behind them, and in between them and the fire a walkway in which walked daily men, women, and animals to and fro. Since, the prisoners couldn‘t turn their heads around nor look behind at the real people, they had always had the impression that the shadows cast on the walls and the echoes bumping off the walls were all the reality that was to be known. In course of time, however, one of the prisoners is released and he, turning around, is dazzled by the light of the fire. Led out, he sees reality, the fire, and the sun and is finally able to apprehend what reality actually is and its
difference from the world of shadows. So, he returns to share this good news with his former prison mates. However, since their faces are still turned towards the wall and they are bound with chains, they are only skeptical and highly suspicious of their friend who became free. They think he has lost his mind. They couldn‘t grasp reality because their faces were turned away from the light outside the cave. In 2 Corinthians 3:13-15, Paul uses a different analogy from the Old Testament to describe how a veil over the minds of people prevents them from understanding the truth of God. Then, he says in verse 16: ―Nevertheless when one turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away.‖ In other words, the problem is not that the Light is not there; the problem is that man is shackled to a position facing away from the Light. True liberation lies in repentance and turning to the Light of God in obedience to the preaching of the Gospel. Chapter 4:4 of the same epistle indicates that belief is important in order for the Light of the Gospel to shine in the heart of a person. The preaching of the Gospel is like a knock on the door of a dark room; when the door is opened,
light floods in and dispels all darkness. It is like the announcement of a train on a railway station; on the train‘s arrival, the passengers get in and are commuted to the charted destination. The one who refuses to come into the light, to get into the train foregoes God‘s true emancipation. The Bible explains: And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God. (John 3:19-21). Those who shun repentance for fear of losing the pleasure of sin are doomed to the underworld of darkness and gnashing of teeth. But, those who repent and take up the cross to follow the Lord walk in a path ―which shines brighter and brighter until full day‖ (Prov.4:18, RSV). Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord,
are being changed into his likeness from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit. (2Cor. 3:17-18).
2. Liberating Power of His Truth
There is nothing as destructive as falsehood; nothing as liberating as truth. Successful missions are accomplished on principles and actions that are accurate and flawless. ―The pen is mightier than the sword,‖ wrote Edward Bulwer in 1839. He went on to say: …Behold The arch-enchanters wand! Itself a nothing! But taking sorcery from the master-hand To paralyse the Cæsars, and to strike The loud earth breathless! Take away the sword States can be saved without it! Ideologies govern bullets and ballots alike. Even as I write this, the world deeply mourns a recent tragedy in Norway that sent seismic shocks across the globe. Before he went on the killing spree, in which some 91 deaths have been reported this far, Andres Behring is said to have posted a
single-liner on his newly created twitter account. The post was an overstatement of a J.S. Mill quote and read ―One person with a belief is equal to the force of 100000 who have only interests.‖ Just a few hours before the attack, he mailed to 5,700 people a manifesto of some 1,516 pages that explicated his case against the Labour Party. While the investigations roll on, the world stands bewildered at the enormous power beliefs wield over the actions of men. We don‘t believe that truth is relative, anymore, do we? If it was so, everything could be justified for reasons that someone somewhere believed to be ―true‖. Yet, the sinful heat scorches our globe with such vehement hellfire that morality is left charred beyond recognition: feelings rule and feelings have gone berserk – while some mourn the loss of innocent lives on one side, some celebrate the sanction of same-sex marriages on the other. Mankind without God is like a ship without stars or compass. ―My Spirit shall not strive with man forever,‖ said God concerning the world at Noah‘s time, ―for he is indeed flesh.‖ He said to Noah, ―The end of all flesh has come before Me, for the earth is filled
with violence through them; and behold, I will destroy them with the earth,‖ and commanded him to build an ark. Then, He destroyed the earth with a flood save only eight in Noah‘s ark. The wicked were destroyed, but deep somewhere the strands of wickedness lay potent. Some 2000 years later, Jesus told Nicodemus, ―…unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God‖ (John 3: 3). Nicodemus found this quite perplexing because little did he anticipate that there could also be a reversal of the laws of nature. ―Can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother‘s womb and be born?‖ he enquired. Jesus replied, ―That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit‖ (John 3:6). The new birth that Jesus was talking about was a birth not by any natural means but by the Word of the eternal God that was living and powerful and sharper than any two-edged sword (John 1:13; 1Pet.1:23; Heb.4:12). Falsehood creates wreckage and fosters evil through the privation of the good; the Word creates the heavens and the earth, and all that is good, and ushers in the Kingdom of righteousness. Therefore, it is said ―How beautiful are the feet of those who preach
the gospel of peace, who bring glad tidings of good things!‖ (Rom.10:15). Truth brings healing, recovery, and liberty (Luke 4:18). The witness of Truth has liberating power. Are we being true witnesses of Christ? Are we being His salt and His light in this world? Are we being useful for the Kingdom of Christ? How sad that the Church possesses such immense restorative, liberating, and recreating power of God, and yet fails in administering the one thing that the world is so much in need of! The Church is called the ―pillar and ground of the truth‖ (1Tim.3:15); but, if it fails in its primal duty of supporting and lifting up the truth of God, there remains no other hope for mankind. Sadly, the devil is often successful in getting Christians do anything else than release the liberating Word of God. They fail to be true watchmen while the world collides with destruction. Let‘s gird up our loins with the belt of truth, let‘s put on the full armor of God, let‘s bring down the walls of falsehood, and let‘s bring divine emancipation to the ends of the earth.
What is Life?
1. Life is a Gift
It is a gift of God. What we do with a gift shows how much we regard the Giver. Some keep old letters as a treasure, because it was written by a special one whom they love. Some treasure autographs. God has given us the gift of life. Let‘s live it in honor of Him. Never despise any fellow being or life-form, for God has created them all. Jesus said if we call our brother a fool or Raca, we will be in danger of hell fire. Never forget that all life is a gift from God and must be received as such.
2. Life is a Mission
We are not here just out of nowhere, thrown in, without any purpose, meaning, or destiny. God has created us with a purpose, and this life is all about fulfilling that purpose, to know Him and glorify Him. We must not look at life as complete and rounded in itself. It is not the end, but only a means for the fulfillment of a mission, which is the Kingdom of God in our lives. Are we living with
God‘s mission mandate in perspective and with eternity in mind? Let‘s follow our Shepherd and not the world in knowing what to do and where to go in this world we live in.
3. Life is an Opportunity
There is only this one life given to us, and it is the only opportunity for us to do what can be done before the Judgment. The Bible commands us to make the best use of every moment. ―Redeem the time,‖ it says ―for the days are evil‖. Do we buy each opportunity in order to do good and glorify the Name of our Lord? If not, it is the right time to repent and surrender ourselves into God‘s hand, so that our times will really be in His hand and life will be fully lived only for Him, for Whom all things are made.
―Love Keeps No Record of Wrongs‖ (1Cor.13:5)
THERE is an ancient proverb in Hindi which says Rahiman dhaga prem ka mat todevu chatkai, Tootei to phir na miley, miley ganth parijai. [Do not snap the thread of love o Rahim; For, if it breaks it can't be be joined; and if joined, it leaves a knot.] It is not easy to forget the wrongs that someone has done against us. And, even when we get reconciled sometimes, there is some knot, some painful reminder, some grudge that is left behind. But, the Bible teaches us that we need to learn not only to forgive, but also to forget the hurt, or else the reconciliation is not perfect. Divine love, the fruit of the Holy Spirit (not of our own self), makes that possible. When Jesus forgave us, He kept no record of our wrongs. The Psalmist says ―As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us‖ (Psa 103:12).
The prophet Micah could say ―You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea (Mic.7:19). Isaiah could say ―You have cast all my sins behind Your back‖ (Isa. 38:17). He also wishes us to deal with others as He deals with us. There is an interesting story told by Leo Tolstoy of how two children once get into a fight, which in return draws their parents into a big quarrel. But, while the quarrel gets heated higher and higher, someone points to the two little children away from all this fuss, playing again, being totally forgetful of their fight a little while ago. Jesus told us that unless we become converted and become like little children we cannot inherit the Kingdom of God. It is these records of wrongs that give birth to so much of hatred, strife, and wars in the world. But, love keeps no record of wrongs. Prayer: Lord, I thank you for forgiving me so much and for not dealing with me according to my transgressions. Sometimes, it is really not easy to forgive, and even harder to forget because of the hurt. But, when You took my sins on the Cross and bled to die for my sake, You set for me an example of true love, and it is Your desire, O Lord
that I walk in Your love and glorify Your name. So, I repent of any grudge against anyone that I still hold, O Lord, and surrender my heart in Your hands. Make me and mold me and fill me with Your love, so that every thought and act of mine will reflect the majesty of Your all-loving and allforgiving kindness.
How Does God Speak to Us or Lead Us?
The Bible makes it very clear that God speaks with His people. It may be through illumination of His Word (the Bible), through servants of God, through prophecy, through visions or dreams, or through word of knowledge and word of wisdom. He speaks in various ways. The Lord guides us through His PRINCIPLES given to us in the Bible. The Lord guides us through His PROVIDENCE in the circumstances around us. The Lord guides us through His POWER of the Holy Spirit within us. It is important to remember that God‘s guidance will never contradict the truths of Scripture. It is also important to remember that God is in control of our circumstances and will bring people and events in our way that will help us discern and obey His will in clearer ways.
Finally, God gives us the faith and power to follow Him in the right direction. Remember that all things work together for good for those who love God, and that when we humble ourselves before Him and submit to Him, He is faithful in what we commit to Him. He is the Author and the Perfecter of our faith. Surrender to God‘s will, Prayer, Meditation on God‘s Word, and Fellowship with God‘s people are important for us in order to know the times and discern God‘s will for our life.
Dealing with Frustration the Jesus Way
FRUSTRATION goal. The is the experience of of feeling is the thwarted from the fulfillment of a meaningful experience frustration experience of pent up power that fails to find a meaningful vent of release due to blockades and constrictions that might look beyond one‘s control – chiefly social in nature. Unable to cope with the almost exploding power of confusion within, one becomes an easy prey to fleshly lusts, temper, irritability, and emotional despair. In the words of dog behaviorist, Caesar Millan, ―Walls create frustration‖ so the dog must be taken out on a walk. However, while a simple walk can solve the dog-issue, it is more than some random outdoor walk that man needs in order to deal with frustration. In humans, frustration is connected to one‘s identification of one‘s meaning in life – that is, how important a goal is in order to make life worth living. That determines the intensity level of
frustration. Since man is a social being, shame and guilt play important roles in defining the frustrated situation. Therefore, the solutions would either be rebelling against shame and guilt or trying to run away from them. Failure to achieve one‘s goal becomes an existential issue when the goal is thought to be central to one‘s experience of shame and guilt. A human who fails to deal with frustration the right way will turn into a demon – since it is impossible for him/her (a socio-morally sentient creature) to be a mere animal of instinct. The frustrated individual is vulnerable to
impatience which leads to loss of character and integrity. Truth becomes unimportant in face of the goal to be fulfilled. A lack of clear vision of the goal can also lead to a very frustrated situation since the energy within has to bring forth fruit. Fruitlessness creates frustration. Our role model to solve frustration is Jesus Christ. He is the Perfect Man; therefore, when we get into a very frustrating situation, we must begin by asking, What Would Jesus Do in this circumstance? The answer is rather simple:
1. Turn to God‟s Word for Definition of Our Motives and Goals in Life. ―Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness,‖ He said, ―and all these things shall be added unto you,‖ ―Man shall not live by bread alone but by every Word that proceeds from the mouth of God.‖ We must learn to discern our cross, deny ourselves, and follow Him. God‘s Word produces faith and spiritual faith is the antidote to frustration. Frustration that results from worldly craving will never find peace; one must repent from any willful desires. But, when one seeks God‘s goals, one will not be frustrated because one knows that God is always in full control of His business. We only need to be in the boat of His will and He‘ll sail us through this finite ocean of space and time to reach His eternal shore. 2. Access God‟s Throne of Grace in Prayer. We have the promise that the Holy Spirit will help us in our weakness in prayers and intercessions. We must lay open our heart before Him. He knows the situation better than we do. ―But the frustration is also that I am not getting time to pray,‖ someone may say. Jesus prayed on the cross. There is no place or time where we cannot
access His Throne. It is at His Throne of Grace that we find strength for our soul. But, we must access in humility, in our weakness, in our sole dependence on His wisdom and power. 3. Submit to God‟s Will. Let‘s remember that God is in control. Jesus prayed ―Not my will, but Yours be done.‖ The three Hebrew children declared aloud that God is able to save them from Nebuchadnezzar‘s furnace, but even if He didn‘t they wouldn‘t bow to the idol. They knew that God is in control and He works out good for all those who love Him. 4. Give Thanks to God and Exult in His Praises. A heart of gratitude is what the Lord taught us to have. When we focus on God‘s goodness and His greatness, we will find less reasons to feel bound, shackled, or forced into a corner. Paul knew that even if he was in prison, the Word of God was unchained. He also knew Him whom he believed and was confident that the Lord was able to keep what he had committed to Him. Jesus knew His Father and knew that not even a single hair of our head can fall without His knowledge. He said not even the sparrow which
was thought to be an extra by the vendor is forgotten by God. He counts us far more valuable than the sparrows, for He sent His own Son to suffer for our sake that we may have life. Let‘s give thanks to the Lord for His goodness endures forever! Prayer: Lord Jesus, often frustration fills my heart with strong anxiety, agitation, and impatience. It makes me feel stifled and suffocated and confused. But, Lord I know that You are always there by my side. You know and discern the intents and thoughts of my heart. Lord, search me and try me and run Your searchlight on my soul. I repent of my willful desires and self-seeking objects in life that leads only to frustration and loss of peace and love. I come to Your Throne of Grace, o Shepherd of my soul. I fall before You and seek Your mercy. Strengthen me by Your Spirit. I trust You Lord and submit to Your will knowing that what You have planned in the life of Your bondservant, no human or earthly power can ever thwart off, even if it feels like that in the moment. I trust You my Savior; not my will, but Your will be done! In the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ I pray, Amen!!
The Cross is the Mission
My Lord is there and He‘ll show me The cross to take, the path to go. The cross is the mission that He gives me, The meaning of life He lets me know.
Everything Beautiful in Its Time (Eccl. 3:11)
“He has made everything beautiful in its time.” (Eccl.3:11)
If you have been wondering if life has any meaning or purpose, remember this, that you are beautiful, not because of how you feel or what people say, but because the Word of God declares that He has made you beautiful in your time. Some people give up very soon thinking it‘s all over and nothing‘s gonna work out. Remember Job‘s wife, how she came to him and said ―Do you still hold fast to your integrity? Curse God and die!‖ But, Job knew that suffering is not meaningless. When the fire blazes hotter, the beauty of the gold gets clearer. There is a time for everything, and He has made everything beautiful in its time.
1. God Has Made Us So That We May Seek Him and Know Him
And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings, so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us. (Act 17:26-27) Animals do not know God to the effect that there can be fellowship between God and them. God didn‘t made them that way. He made man that man may know Him and have fellowship with Him. But, sin brings separation and blindness. However, through the preaching of the cross, God opens up the eyes of people that they may see His light and walk in it.
2. God Has Made Us So That We May Be Holy And Blameless Before Him in Love
…just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love. (Eph. 1:4)
but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.”(1Pet. 1:15-16) For this is the will of God, your sanctification… that each of you should know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, not in passion of lust, like the Gentiles who do not know God…. For God did not call us to uncleanness, but in holiness. (1Thess. 4:3,4,7)
3. God Has Made Us So That We May Come to the Fullness of Christ
…till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ. (Eph 4:13) This is not possible in isolated living, but in fellowship within the Body of Christ. ―grow up in all things into Him who is the head–Christ–from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.‖ (Eph.4:15,16)
Each member in the Body must know his role and effectively fulfill his share of duty. There is synergy in the Body, and it is found in the words ―what every joint supplies‖ and ―the effective working by which every part does its share.‖ The joints are important. Evangelism and the work of the ministry is the joint work of the Body of Christ. The effort must be synergistically put forth in love of the Spirit and bond of peace, so that each part will mutually benefit. There is edification only through fellowship in the Body. One must aim to be a vessel of honor by His grace, in order to be useful for the Master‘s glory as a vessel of honor. Nevertheless the solid foundation of God stands, having this seal: “The Lord knows those who are His,” and, “Let everyone who names the name of Christ depart from iniquity.” But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay, some for honor and some for dishonor. Therefore if anyone cleanses himself from the latter, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified and useful for the Master, prepared for every good work. (2Ti 2:19-21)
4. God Has Made Us So That We May Attain the Adoption As Sons
…having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will (Eph. 1:5) This is not just limited to the experience of sonship that we have now, but relates to the adoption manifested at the resurrection from the dead. “Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body.” (Rom 8:23) Paul looked forward to this as his goal: that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. (Php 3:10-11)
5. God Has Made Us So That We May Proclaim the Praises of Him
But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special
people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light. (1Pet. 2:9) See how beautiful He has made us that we may bring glory to His Name. Let‘s declare His praises through our words and our walk. Let‘s remember that God has a purpose for our life, and He wishes us to seek Him and know Him, to be holy and blameless before Him in love, to come to the fullness of Christ, to attain the adoption of sons, and to declare His praises, to be His trophies in this world. Isn‘t it marvelous to just know Him and live by His grace alone.
Knowing God‘s Will in Life (Rom.12:2)
And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. (Rom 12:2) Knowing God‘s will is important. It is not an option, but a necessity. Jesus walked according to His Father‘s will. ―Not as I will, but as You will‖ He prayed in the Garden of Gethsamane. He was led by the Holy Spirit and worked and taught by the power of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:1,2; 10:38). He has given us the Spirit so that we may walk according to His leading in our life. For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. 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. (1Co 2:11-12) There are three things necessary in order for us to be able to discern and be led according to the will of God:
1. Repentance from Sin
Which means turning away from sin, the world, and a carnal way of living. Nevertheless when one turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. (2Cor 3:16) Sin separates man from God (Isaiah 59:1). Repentance towards Christ the Lord is the entry door into the life and walk of the Spirit. As long as one lives a carnal and worldly life, one cannot expect to know the will of God.
2. Renewal of Mind
And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. (Rom 12:2)
When we get soaked
influences of the world, we conform to it. The devil does his best to bombard us with such influences. But, when we turn to prayer and meditation on the Word of God, it renews our mind. Remember, the Spirit never acts contrary to the Word of God. He confirms the Word and brings conviction according to it. He speaks to us through the Word of God. Jesus never spoke anything apart from the Scriptures. He always used to point to what was written and how it is fulfilled in Him. Unless our minds have become mature by exercises of the Word, we can‘t expect to receive the things of God. But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. (1Co 2:14) For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. But
solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil. (Heb 5:12-14)
3. Spirit-Filled Living
Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another in the fear of God. (Eph 5:17-21) Being filled with the Spirit, praying in the Spirit, in tongues, fellowshipping with other believers, testifying, worshipping, and glorifying God through a life of faith and love are important in order for us to be receptive of and be sensitive to the Spirit of God. Unless we are Spirit-filled, we cannot expect to be led by the Spirit of God. May the Lord grant us the grace to seek His will in His Word and live a life that is pleasing to Him!
A young man wanted to do some farming in his farm. So, he went and obtained some wheat seeds, had his farmland plowed and sown, and watered the field daily. He waited for 10 days. When he didn‘t see any sign of wheat, he got frustrated. He thought ―It‘s not going to work!‖ However, he decided to wait for another 10 days. On the 8th day, however, when he saw no wheat, he said to himself ―Either the seed was bad or this land is not suited for wheat.‖ So, he replowed the land, destroying the tiny wheatblades that had already sprouted. He thought, ―Let me try soyabean, this time.‖ So, he sowed soyabean, but when he didn‘t see any beans after 10 days, he became frustrated again. He tried a few other crops this way, and finally surmised that farming was no longer his kind of job. So, he gave up. Lesson: 1. Know well what you‘re doing and the principles of the work before you undertake it.
Luk 14:28 For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it– Luk 14:29 lest, after he has laid the foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, Luk 14:30 saying, “This man began to build and was not able to finish.‟ 2. Understand the importance of Timing. Ecc 3:1 To everything there is a A time for every purpose under heaven: season,
Ecc 3:11 He has made everything beautiful in its time. 3. Do not lose heart midway. Remember that patience has a great reward. If you give in to your own doubts and suspicions, you will end up destroying things. Heb 10:35 Therefore do not cast away your confidence, which has great reward. Heb 10:36 For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise:
Psalm 40:1 I waited patiently for the LORD; And He inclined to me, And heard my cry.
Prayer: Lord, we pray that Your will will be revealed to Your servants, and that we with patience and obedience of faith will obtain the promises that You have made. Blessed be Your Name!
Understanding the Chastening of God
It is important to understand the chastening of the Lord and turn from evil ways and divine displeasure. Lack of understanding can lead to hardening of heart and self-destruction. It is important to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit for He speaks to us today and wants us to walk with Him in the light of God, in the Truth. When we err and are hardened towards sin, God chastens us in order to correct us and lead us in the truth.
Why Does He Chasten
-Because He loves us and deals with us as His sons. -It is meant for construction and not for destruction. 2Cor.13:10 -Rev.3:19; Heb.12:6 – The Lord chastens whom He loves. -Heb.12:7 – The Lord chastens His sons.
Ways of Chastening
-Rod and Rebuke (Proverbs 29:15) Rebuke -Through His servants (Psalm 141:5; 1Tim.5:20; 2Tim.4:2; Tit.1:13; 2:15) -Through His Word (2Tim.3:16) Rod External: -With the rod of men and with the blows of the sons of men (2 Samuel 7:14; Hos.10:10) -Sword, Famine, Pestilence (national) (2 Sam. 24:13; 2Ch. 20:9; Jer. 11:22; 14:12,13; 15:2; 21:9; 24:10; 27:8,13; 29:17,18; 32:36; 34:17; 38:2; 42:17,22; 44:13; Eze. 6:11,12; 12:16) -Infirmity, Sickness (1Cor.11:30, 32; James 5:14-16) Internal: -Inner agony and sensing the displeasure of God and God‘s silence towards our prayers (guilt, lack of peace, etc) (Psalm 6:1-3, 6; 38:1ff.; Eph.4:30; 1Pet.3:7)
Our Response to Chastening
-Repent from our sins -Humble ourselves -Turn completely to God -Surrender to His will -Obey what He commands
Waver-Winds or the Enemies of Stability in Faith
James 1:5-8 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. (6) But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. (7) For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; (8) he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways. When we are surrounded by a difficult situation, we need the wisdom of God. But, one must be able to listen and obey the wisdom of God by faith.
Winds that Bring Wavering
1.COVETOUSNESS – Balaam (Num.22; 31:8; 2Pet.2:15; Jude 11; Rev.2:14). The one who loves money cannot listen from God. Covetousness brings wavering.
2.CIRCUMSTANCES – Peter (Matt.14:28), Abraham (Rom.4:18-20). If one looks at circumstances, one can‘t walk by the wisdom of God. 3.CONFUSEDNESS – Mixed Multitude, Israel in the wilderness, (Ex.12:38; Num.11:4; 1 Cor.10, Heb.4:1; Jude 5). If you‘re listening to too many voices, the chances are you may get confused. Focus on what God has said, is saying, and follow His directions alone. Do not look at the world, do not be influenced by its negativism nor skepticism, nor follow its proposals. Stick to faith and divine wisdom. 4.COMPARISONS – Asaph, Psalm 73. As long as you keep looking at how people of the world are faring, you may miss on God‘s peace and joy. Do not compare. Seek God and live.
Work Throughout the Daylight
The harvest is ready, The fields are white, Your servant is ready, The crops are ripe. Bring down the hedges, Remove these barbed wires, We‘ll rush to bring in the harvest, And work throughout the daylight!
―The zeal for Your house consumes me.‖
Looking to Jesus and Moving Forward
…looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:2 What does it mean to be looking at Jesus?
1. To Forget Ourselves and Be Immersed in Him
Of course, this doesn‘t mean being absent minded. But, as long as we keep looking at ourselves, we‘ll be filled with all reasons that would keep us from moving forward. But, those who focus on Christ cannot be hindered by other things. Have you seen some of those people who watch the TV and are so immersed in it that they become one with it? That is not good, anyway. But it is always good to be one with the Lord so that we feel with Him and are aware of His will.
2. To Be Attentive To Him
How would you feel about a person who looks somewhere else rather than at you when you‘re talking to him or her? Sometimes we behave like that when God wants to speak to us. And, so we fail to listen to and know His will. Let‘s be attentive in prayer, reading of His word, and be sensitive to the Holy Spirit at all times. When we are sensitive to the Lord, we can follow His guidance and move forward.
3. To Have Faith in Him
The Bible says ―They looked to Him and were radiant, And their faces were not ashamed.‖ (Psalms 34:5) It means to wait on Him and be patient throughout, (Romans 5:4) If our expectation is from God, He will never fail us. He is faithful and true. When we walk in faith despite all adversity, we grow in Him. for patience builds character
The Priority of God‘s Work
Haggai 1:1-4, 9 In the second year of King Darius, on the first day of the sixth month, the word of the LORD came through the prophet Haggai to Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua son of Jehozadak, the high priest: This is what the LORD Almighty says: “These people say, „The time has not yet come for the LORD‟s house to be built.‟ “Then the word of the LORD came through the prophet Haggai: “Is it a time for you yourselves to be living in your paneled houses, while this house remains a ruin?” “You expected much, but see, it turned out to be little. What you brought home, I blew away. Why?” declares the LORD Almighty. “Because of my house, which remains a ruin, while each of you is busy with his own house….” In 586 B.C., Nebuchadnezzar‘s army plundered Jerusalem and burnt God‘s temple to the ground. The tragedy was already foretold by Jeremiah and Ezekiel. God had delivered His
people into the hands of their enemies because of their sky-reaching transgressions. But, He didn‘t leave them without a promise. Jeremiah had prophesied that after 70 years of captivity, Babylon would be punished and the people would return to the Promised Land. Accordingly, Cyrus captured Babylon in October 539 B.C., and in 538 B.C. issued the decree to rebuild the temple at Jerusalem. Consequently, about 50,000 Jews returned to Palestine under the leadership of Zerubbabel and laid the foundation after two years in 536 B.C. The Book of Ezra records the scenario of this mega event in these words: And all the people gave a great shout of praise to the LORD, because the foundation of the house of the LORD was laid. But many of the older priests and Levites and family heads, who had seen the former temple, wept aloud when they saw the foundation of this temple being laid, while many others shouted for joy. No one could distinguish the sound of the shouts of joy from the sound of weeping, because the people made so much noise. And the sound was heard far away. (Ezra 3:11-13)
However, this joy was very short-lived, for soon the adversaries of Judah raised such a great storm of opposition that crushed down all their excitement for the temple of God. Consequently, the rebuilding work came to a standstill and the temple area looked all lifeless, listless, and ruins altogether. This continued for 16 years until, God sent two of His prophets Haggai and Zechariah to prophesy to the Jews in Judah and Jerusalem. In 520 B.C., Haggai began to prophesy in order to persuade the people to return back to their original calling, the purpose for which they had returned to Jerusalem. There were Jews: 1. Their delusion with regard to time. They said, ―The time has not yet come for the LORD‘s house to be built‖ (Haggai 1:2). They had not only given up working for God, but had developed a rational argument for such a lifestyle. They lived as if there was so much of time yet, and that the work of God could be done at a more plausible and convenient time. God confronted this mindset and demanded of them an explanation
underlined with regard to the lethargy of the
for the same. He commanded them to consider their ways. What was it that they had started out from Babylon for? Why had they arrived at Jerusalem? Why were they in this land at such a time? The tragedy was that they were using up God‘s allotted time of work for anything else than God‘s work. 16 years after the foundation had been laid, there was no temple yet. Of course, they had begun well, amidst great songs of praise and tears of joy; but, now, all of it was dust and ashes. The fire had gone out of the holy altar. The hands of the servants had grown feeble and slack. The temple of God had been abandoned. Does he who runs the race receive the prize for starting out well, or does he for ending well? How often isn‘t it the case with God‘s people that they have started on the work of Christ‘s kingdom with all flare of excitement, with such immense zeal and enthusiasm, but the invasion of the world into their lives has dampened all of it down to a mere selfish and fruitless living. God calls us to work. Jesus said that we must do the work of Him who sent Him as long as it is day; for a night is coming when no one can work (John
9:4). Paul wrote to the Ephesian Christians saying ―Redeem the time for the days are evil‖ (Ephesians 5:16). We cannot live careless and listless lives while the whole world sinks in sin and darkness, while the temple of God is left unbuilt. We need to get back to where He has placed us in the building up of the Body of Christ, the temple of the living God (Ephesians 4:11,12,16). 2. Secondly, their shift of focus from the temple to their own houses. God asked ―Is it a time for you yourselves to be living in your paneled houses, while this house remains a ruin?‖ (Haggai 1:2). How different was their way from that of David who said ―Here I am, living in a palace of cedar, while the ark of God remains in a tent‖ (2 Samuel 7:2), and also ―Better is one day in Your courts than a thousand elsewhere‖ (Psalm 84:10). God testified about the Israelites saying ―my house, which remains a ruin, while each of you is busy with his own house‖ (Haggai 1:9). How different was even this from the passion of Solomon who first gave himself to building the temple of God, and only then to build his own house. But, the tables had turned in the returning Jews‘ case. They had transferred the love that rightly belongs
to God to their own selves, families, and businesses. Hadn‘t Jesus laid the great condition for discipleship: ―Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me‖ (Matthew 10:37-38). We know the sad case of the rich young ruler who sorrowfully left Jesus because of one such costly demand of him. Discipleship has a cost, and it doesn‘t always mean a posh personal lifestyle. It means a life of self-sacrifice, to deny the self (Matthew 16:24). It was with great sadness that Paul wrote to the Philippians about people in ministry saying ―everyone looks out for his own interests, not those of Jesus Christ‖ (Philippians 2:21). He could only find in Timothy a true servant attitude, who in his very young life wholly committed himself to the Body of Christ taking ―genuine interest‖ in the welfare of the children of God, rather than in his own comfort. But, the Jews at Haggai‘s time had no time for these. They built palaces and paneled houses
while the temple of God was a heap of ruins. And, God rebuked that. But, how had this lethargy and lukewarmness crept into their spirit? The Book of Ezra reveals three alarming forces: 1. The world‟s proposal for ministerial
partnership. In Ezra 4:2, we see the unsaved and unbelieving people of surrounding areas coming to Zerubbabel and proposing to build the temple along with them. Of course, Zerubbabel didn‘t allow that, though later on the enemies did manage to get into the Holy chambers in Nehemiah‘s time. But, sadly the Church of Jesus Christ hasn‘t been safe from such adulterous and idolatrous luring. Several times, she has turned her eyes towards aliens, to their colorful robes, to their customs and rites, and to the things that the world adores. The result: the defilement of ministry and the ruining of God‘s temple. Therefore, had Paul warned to be careful how we build upon the foundation, Who is Christ; for no other foundation can any man lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ (1Corinthians 3:10,11). In His letters to the seven Churches in Revelation, disconnect Jesus warns from
strangers to God‘s ways. But, how are we attracted to the plurality of pluralism and the irresponsible attractions of syncretism? We continually see the Church falling prey to the powers of secularization, to the extent that it is almost difficult to differentiate between her and the world. The worldly waters of godless University affiliations, media hypes, power mania, flickering trends, and natural philosophies heave heavy upon the boat of salvation. Some have given in to dishonest practices, natural to the sinful mind, in order to pull on their Spiritless machinery of ministry. God calls us to repentance, to a life of separation; separation by the Cross of Jesus Christ that rends us away from the world, to build His temple not according to the wisdom of the world but according to His pattern in heaven. It is a high and holy calling. Let‘s pursue that in purity of dedication and resolve. 2. The world‟s counsel towards ministerial
discouragement. In 4:4-5, the enemies of God hired counselors to discourage the people of God from doing His work. Discouragement is a powerful tool of the devil. The Choir leader of Solomon‘s temple, Asaph, narrowly escaped the
jaws of this monster. In Psalm 73, he records his story of discouragement, of how he had turned bitter and frustrated when he watched the prosperity of worldly people, while he felt his life not as materially successful as theirs, despite His faithfulness to God (Psalm 73:12,13). But, the problem of evil met its end as soon as Asaph entered the sanctuary of God (v17), for then he realized what ultimate reality is all about. What the world pursues is wind, lusts that pass away. He recommits himself to seek God as his everything in both heaven and earth. To a man of God who has realized the excellency of the knowledge of Christ and His power of resurrection, all the ―highly-valued things‖ of this world are as rubbish (Philippians 3:8-10). He lives by the motivation of the love of Christ. 3. The world‟s use of brute political force to ban God‟s work. In the rest of the part of Ezra 4, we see their conspiracy and false accusations against the people of God. They accused them of being a nation within the nation (an accusation that some have leveled against Christians in this country as well). They accused
them of being a national threat, and so tried to get the ministry legally banned. But, Haggai and Zachariah prophesied and encouraged the people to start the work. God said ―Go up into the mountains and bring down timber and build the house.‖ When God is with us, who can be against us? The leaders were encouraged and began the work, and the prophets stood with them (Ezra 5:1-3). God turned the political powers in favor of His people. In 516 B.C. dedicated. Let us commit ourselves strongly to the priority of God‘s work. Hell may hurl at us its winds and its flames, but the gates of Hades shall not prevail against the Church of Jesus Christ. We also have this promise in these last days: ―The glory of this present house will be greater than the glory of the former house‖ and ―From this day on,‖ i.e. the day from when the work is resumed, ―I will bless you‖ (Haggai 2:9,19). May this be that day! the temple was finished and
Systems of Offences and Leaders of Change
Text: Matthew 18:1-14 This excerpt from Christ‘s earthly conversations has an intense outflow of emotions and light. The question that is posed is significant. But, far more significant is Christ‘s elaboration of the problem at hand. He begins by answering the question of true greatness and then tracks down into an agonizing analysis of the world-problem that nips that same greatness in the bud. For, the child is certainly the sacred model of greatness, but the child is sooner going to reach the age when he has to look back to his childhood for a recovery of that child-like innocence again. At this 4/14 Window Pre-Summit, I believe it is apt to reconsider the roots of our world that shape the consciences of the next generation. True Greatness When the disciples asked Jesus ―Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?‖ Jesus did
not point at Alexander the Great, or to Augustus Caesar, or to Plato or Aristotle. He brought in a child into the midst of them and said ―I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.‖ Of course, the question was not ―Who is the greatest on the earth?‖ but ―Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?‖ For, earthly greatness could never be an issue for man. It is blatant, though ephemeral. But, the true disciple searches for what it really means to be great in the kingdom of God, for a greatness that spans true eternity. And, the divine answer could only be found in the lips of the divine Master. By Christ‘s verdict, the child is the model of true greatness. The child epitomizes the kingdom virtues of simplicity (unsoiled by culture), credulity (unblocked by sophism), dependency (untainted by ambition), innocence (uncorrupted by sin), tenderness (unhardened by offences), and pliability (untempered by willful convictions).
The very reason the question of greatness is asked demonstrates the rootedness of the worldproblem. The question of greatness would never have been posed unless the child-likeness was already destroyed in the first place. The problem of inequality, indifference, rejection, and all injustice lies at the root of this world-problem that Christ now brings to light. The conversation here significantly focuses on the value and experience of a child. Of course, some have interpreted the rest of the passage as talking of the least of the disciples; but, the context here does centrally focus on the worldexperience of God‘s child. The parable of the lost sheep doesn‘t speak of a disciple being lost, but shows the importance of the one little sheep among the ninety-nine. The Father is not willing that any of these little ones be lost. And, isn‘t it true that lostness that and on rootlessness the kids is of an our experience falls
generation in the 4/14 Window? Worlds in Conflict Two worlds are in conflict in this passage: God‘s world versus man‘s world.
In God‘s world, the child is regarded with honor, respect, dignity, greatness, and significance. Despite, the theological contentions within the spectrum of the Calvinist-Arminian debate, the child‘s position is secure in the world of God. The universality of sin cannot be denied; however, the universality of the child‘s tender nature also cannot be ruled out. The world in all its manifold deception still can‘t generally tolerate offence against little children. How much more would God stand for them? In man‘s world, the child is unwelcomed, unwanted, unaccepted, unrecognized, oppressed, tempted, and snared into evil. In fact, often times, the human modes of welcoming a child into the world are so much tainted by sinful culture that the true place of the child is lost into a corner (completely different from the place God gives them). Christ breaks out ―Woe to the world because of the things that cause people to sin!‖ (v.7) But why is the world such an offensive system? In fact, the world as it is cannot be regarded in the singular anymore. It is a system of systems and a world of worlds. We do not live in a universe, but in an ideological
pluriverse. The worlds are systems of thoughts, relations, and functioning that are both in conflict with each other and with God‘s world. We may divide the world-influencers into three groups: 1. World-Views: These are ways in which we perceive the world. They are the ideologies and philosophical theologies that stay rooted at the base of any world-system. Casteism, Communism, Humanism, Talibanism, Hindutva, Fascism are all examples of world-views that influence human values. When Christ brings in the child and sets him in the midst, He demonstrates the conflict of God‘s world-view with the world-view of the general world at hand. 2. World-Systems: These are ways in which our particular world functions in this pluriverse. It is the cultural setup of any world-machinery into which a child is forced to fix in. The Nazi government, Taliban government, Communist government, Caste-system, etc are examples of world-systems that influence human conduct. Usually, cogs within a machine are bound to submit to the laws of that machine; however, it is also possible that in a multiinteractive cultural setup, exposed to a plurality of world-views and systems, individual world-systems could spring into being. These may look as a minority and strange, but one must understand that every human is a dynamic entity that imbibes and constructs her own cultural mind-world of meanings and
values. It is not slantingly that the Scripture annunciates, ―GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually‖ (Gen.6:5). This is not to incriminate every world-system as totally evil, but to show that any world-system that doesn‘t subscribe to God‘s kingdom principles is routed for self-destruction. It is in this sense that we may understand the exclamatory ―Woe to the world because of the things that cause people to sin!‖ (v.7) 3. World-Leaders: These are the agents that lead the world-system on the principles of particular world-views. They are humans. Christ declares, ―if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea‖ and ―woe to the man through whom they [i.e. offences] come!‖ (vv.6,7). A world-system is a world-game with its own rules, codes, language, and modus operandi. It is aimed to be completely self-sufficient, selfcontained, closed, and rational. In a worldsystem that is thoroughly evil, evil is not felt, because of the smooth modus operandi. Evil itself is a rational principle of operation in that machine. It is like a closed space shuttle
speeding at a uniform velocity. The astronauts inside wouldn‘t be able to say whether the shuttle is moving or is at rest, since it is detached from all coordinates of reference outside. That is why, for instance, stoning to death, a practice in some cultures, would appear an evil to outsiders, but to those within that particular culture, it would appear quite necessary. Similarly, until the Renaissance movement struck the cords of the Indian conscience, sati and child marriage were not considered evil. Some interference and clash of worlds was necessary in order to begin the reformation. oppression, An evil world-system oppression, permits practices promotes
oppression, and profits from that oppression; but, is incapable of perceiving it as oppression. It is thoroughly infested with evil; therefore, it is subject to the predication of a ―Woe!‖ Any rescue can only be holistic when it rescues one from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of light. We can‘t just keep trying to save people from being crushed under the giant wheel of destruction; we need to jam the wheel itself (cf. Dietrich Bonhoeffer), and certainly the biblical way. We must work at the grass root
level; but, we shouldn‘t forget the ideological roots behind all surface evils as well. Isn‘t there a reason why in some cultures, beggary is nonexistent, while in others beggary is prevalent and religiously endorsed? Why is it so that in particular contexts, red spits of chewed pans stain walls of government offices, while in other contexts offices are as clean as could be? Why are there so many uncared street children lying on the platforms and footpaths in some cultures, while in others such people groups are never around? Care, compassion, cleanliness, and conscience are all strongly influenced by the world-system we try to conform to. The world-system is based on a general world-view and is led ahead by world-leaders. The Bible is very specific: one leader can lead a whole nation into hell. Historically, that has happened. One shouldn‘t marvel why the Northern Kingdom of Israel so greatly differed from the Southern Kingdom of Judah before the end of their monarchies. Historical Examples The Cult of Moloch – Child-sacrifices are rarely heard of today. However, they were widely prevalent in ages past. The cult of Moloch of
Canaan was one such cult in which children were offered up as sacrifice for the betterment of the land and community. The ritual was cruel; however, the people considered it necessary and indispensable to their system. The religious world-view that they had influenced their worldsystem (cult, culture) and was strongly led on by leaders (priests, elders, rulers). King Manasseh of Judah – 2 Kings 21 records one of the most oppressive periods in the history of Judah. King Manasseh‘s sins are recorded in the words: ―He sacrificed his own son in the fire, practiced sorcery and divination, and consulted mediums and spiritists. He did much evil in the eyes of the LORD , provoking him to anger‖ (v.6), ―Manasseh also shed so much innocent blood that he filled Jerusalem from end to end-besides the sin that he had caused Judah to commit, so that they did evil in the eyes of the LORD‖ (v.16). Manasseh is not only an example of someone who did evil but of someone who led the whole nation astray into occult religion, sin, oppression, and violence. His influence was so widespread that it is said: ―the people did not listen. Manasseh led them astray, so that they did more evil than the nations the LORD had destroyed
before the Israelites‖ (v.9). The anti-faith worldview into which he strayed led him to build a world-system which rebelled against the principle of heaven and sank the nation into the helpless whirlpool of wickedness. God‘s wisdom could no longer look sensible to them. The occult that they now subscribed to demanded the sacrifice of their own sons. Adolph Hitler – The man who plunged the world into World War II. His charismatic weaving of the Nazi governmental fabric on the principles of Nazi philosophy was so apt that it left almost no loophole for an overthrow. He was a leader of a bad change, constructing a system in which the conscience of his men was deeply altered. There is one story of an SS officer who was standing by watching the Jews being brought into a concentration camp. One woman, with her four children walking hands in hand, looked at him and asked, ―Look at these little beautiful faces. Can you really have the heart to kill them?‖ The SS officer answered nothing. Children were usually immediate gassed in Hitler‘s concentration camps. They were useless. That evening, he returned back to his home and normally played with his own children without
feeling a bit stricken over what had transpired during that day. Philip Zimbardo of Stanford University has called this the ―Lucifer Effect‖, a process in which the saintliest person can be turned into a devil, when his mind is guided along avenues of impersonalization, dehumanization, and deindividuation of others. One can‘t regard ideologies slackly; not at all those systems that are being built over them.
One can give examples from Communism, Talibanism, Cults, Occults, and several socially evil systems. However, if there can be leaders of evil change; there have been and must also rise up a leadership of good change in the world. If a leader can lead a nation into hell, a leader and a synergy of many leaders can certainly lead this nation into a better world. Unless we are able to penetrate the ideology and culture with a transformative outlook and function, we cannot expect lasting changes.
Challenges The two main challenges simply put are: 1. To identify the ideological bases of a particular offense system. It is not just enough to treat the symptoms. The root of the disease must be identified. If we are not willing to acknowledge the ideological problem, chances are that we are drifting with it. If we do not stand to expose it, we are no longer functioning as God‘s children of light. 2. To eliminate the problem on Kingdom principles. The Kingdom principles are the ones that Christ practiced. It is not silver and gold but bold witnessing, the call to repentance and a ministry of healing and deliverance that can emancipate the society and individuals from the clutches of oppression. The purpose of the anointing is to bring deliverance (Lk. 4:18). Unless we are spiritually confronting the forces of evil, we are not really functioning as the ambassadors of Christ in this world. We can never transform the world unless we have learnt the significance of right communication and implementation of Kingdom principles in the place where we set our foot. This might seem easy to say and difficult to do; but, to have said itself will have accomplished and brought to light a massive need of the church.
Solutions Christ gives us the solutions: 1. Confrontation and Elimination: He said ―If your hand or your foot causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life maimed or crippled than to have two hands or two feet and be thrown into eternal fire.‖ (Matt.18:8). It is important to decide if we would allow the whole system go to hell, or initiate a transformative work that heals the whole body and brings lasting deliverance. Elements of culture that are destructive and false must be confronted with the light of the Gospel and loving practice of truth. 2. Saving the Little Ones: Christ calls us to go out and save the little lost sheep. We are glad that there has been a great movement towards ministry among children in these days. We realize that if we can save the little ones at their tender age, when they are highly vulnerable, we have saved them for eternity. It is only a heartless shepherd who would leave his hundredth sheep to die just because he got ninety-nine more. Every little child of this world is precious in the eyes of God. They must be brought back into God‘s fold, into the place and culture of true greatness. For, our ―Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should be lost‖ (Matt.18:14).
Intelligent Living – Pressing Toward the Goal (Phil 3:13,14)
Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:13,14) There are two kinds of living: intelligent living and unintelligent living. Intelligent living is a life governed by purpose and design; unintelligent living is a life which is ungoverned and reckless. If you have seen a man committed to a cause and living his entire life for that end, we have here an example of intelligent living. On the other hand, if you see a man waste his life shifting jobs of various kinds, having no clear purpose in mind, and chiefly concerned only about his immediate needs, this is an example of unintelligent living. Many people only live for the present. That hardly distinguishes them from animals; for animals also
live only for their present. I heard of a tribe in the Amazon called Piraha whose culture is solely concerned with matters that fall within direct personal experience. They do not have a history beyond living memory. One missionary went there to evangelize them and realized that they were very happy with their own state of life, so didn‘t need the gospel. When he tried to preach Christ to them, they shirked his talk away as irrelevant because there was no evidence that anyone living had ever seen Christ. This missionary, Daniel Everett by name, later gave up his own faith in Christ, because he thought the Piraha were an example of a life that can be satisfied without God. But such life has great disadvantages for sure. You can watch them from a distance like a bunch of humans good for anthropological studies but you must also realize that their lifestyle isn‘t conducive to progress of any kind. They can‘t be educated because education is something that goes beyond the present; it inculcates past experience with respect to future goals. So, when Everett brought in a master builder to teach and supervise the Piraha how to build a canoe, they enjoyed that. But, when they needed another canoe, they said
―the Piraha do not make canoes‖ and asked Everett to buy them a new one. But, of course, life is possible without canoes. Life is, in fact, possible without anything but food. But, then how would that differentiate man from the animals? Now, even intelligent living can be either wise or unwise. For instance, if someone applies intelligence to a goal which is not worthwhile or most important, no matter how successful he is in obtaining that, his life has missed the mark. Remember what Jesus said, ―What does it matter if a man gains the whole world but loses his own soul?‖ Interestingly, one can quite intelligently chase the wind. Such is the state of those who run for money, power, and earthly honor, whose life is self-oriented, and who have confined their orientations to the bounds of the ephemeral. These are they of who spend their energies Even concentrated to goals that are only a slight modification animal orientations. education serves just these ends. Malcolm
Muggeridge was right when he said that we have educated ourselves to imbecility. The world does pay more, in worldly terms, to those who serve the world; but, at the expense of eternity.
Now, you don‘t need to veer into that edge of spirituality where you say again like the Piraha that you don‘t need money, education, etc for doing God‘s work. That would be too impractical. Jesus said that those people are wise who know how to make eternal profits out of present resources. I am sure, if Paul had not used ink and papyrus, we wouldn‘t have much of the New Testament. You, of course, need money to buy ink and paper, and need money to send letters by post as well. Life can be compared to a rail car or train. It is not an end in itself but a vehicle to a destiny. The kind of life that you live leads to the destiny its steered to. Some people don‘t know where they have come from and where they are going, some aren‘t even concerned about it. They spend time walking from one end of the train to the other, totally disconnected from the destiny of the train. Some others start out well on a particular train of life, but then get down midway in some other station. They simply don‘t make it. We need to be consistent in the path that is true.
Paul here talks about the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. How many of us have realized that yet? How many of us are pursuing that as our chief end? Paul is not talking here about some self-invented goal. One doesn‘t get a prize of reaching a finish line that he himself has set. One gets a prize for finishing the race according to rules that the conveners of the games have set. God has a special call for all of us in life. We can‘t create the goal of our life, we need to discover it. But, the Bible saves us the pain of even that. It reveals us the goal and the prize. The prize that Paul talks about here is the crown of life, the glorification of our bodies, which is the resurrection from the dead. Just imagine how tragic it would be if you gained everything in the world and missed just that. The goal is to lay hold of that for which Christ has also laid hold of him (v 12), which is the call to be a witness of Jesus Christ in this world and to save the lost. Do you think there is any other goal better and greater than this? Why did Jesus Christ come into this world? What was His goal? He said that He came to be a witness of the Truth and to seek and save them who were
lost. If you have any other goal in mind that you think is better than this, then watch out, you are headed for the ultimate ditch. Other things that you pursue must only exist in relation to this. Today, we‘ll look at five constituents that are elemental to the pursuit of this goal. 1. Consecration: From God‘s end, you were consecrated through the call of Jesus Christ. But, unless you have offered yourself on the altar of God as a living sacrifice, unless your mind is consecrated to serve Him, you can‘t even begin. Consecration involves a holy and blameless lifestyle that is lived in perspective of heaven and not this passing world. 2. Concentration: Concentration refers to the fixation of all your energy, resources, and time on the achievement of the goal. A soldier fixes all his concentration on being a well-trained soldier first, and then winning the battle. Similarly, we must focus on our spiritual development and spiritual service in the world. Look at Jesus, what He is able to say at the age of 33 before God ―I have glorified You on the earth. I have finished the work which You have given Me to do‖ (Jn 17:4).
3. Confrontation: You cannot impact the world until you confront it. You may either flow with it or flow against it. Every step of change requires a confrontation. Every pace ahead requires a cutting through the current. Ephesians 5:11 says, ―Have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them.‖ 4. Communication: Confrontation requires communication. You need to communicate the truth and be ready to give an answer regarding the hope that is in you always. Jesus‘ ministry was about preaching, teaching, and healing. What do we communicate to people? Do we communicate God‘s wisdom and His power? Our words, are they clear and understandable; are they voluminous enough? Do we fill the land with this ―strange doctrine‖ that the disciples were accused of preaching? The gospel is ordained for the salvation of this land. Let‘s communicate it faster, louder, repeatedly, far-reachingly, and quickly. 5. Conservation: Holding on to what we already have is example of good stewardship. Do we conserve our victories? Or, are we lapsing back again and again and losing things that we won earlier. I believe it was G. K. Chesterton who
defined progress as consisting of those things that we leave behind and growth as those things that we leave within. What have we been able to leave, and what have we been able gain? Have we grown? Let‘s press on in order to reach the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Jesus Christ.
The World is Not Your End
You may conquer the galaxies and reign over the stars, Then, after that, what yet? You may receive adulation of all that are born, Then, after that, what yet? You may have all the riches that riches can contain, Then, after that, what yet? Does space have a border; is there to heights an end? You move upwards, downwards, and sidewards; Yet, farther recedes space (Distraught by time); You never reach ‗Cos the world is not your end. I will show you your destiny, O man, woman, or child, whoever! This world is a train, don‘t just walk in it, ‗Cos the train is not the end. Get your maps ready, chart your course right,
Here is your destiny, beyond space and time: Eternity… This world is a little game, with spectators all around, The game seems all reality when you‘re playing in the ground. But, sooner the game will be over; then, there‘s a world beyond… Each fragment of life is a game with its rules, a perspective, an angle; Don‘t be so lost in it, that you forget that rules are man-made, Don‘t flow passively with the current… But, then, you‘ll flow if you know not where to go! But, you should know it, shouldn‘t you? Here is it, then, again: eternity… Rule 1: What do you leave for your posterity? What history, legacy, and life? Rule 2: What do you have in heaven? What joys, satisfaction, and rewards?
Secrets of Spiritual Strength (2 Tim. 2:1-6)
1. Strength in the Grace of the Lord Jesus Christ (v 1) We can only be strong in His grace. We can always approach His throne of grace in prayer (Heb 4:16) Grace upon grace. (Jn 1:16) But, grace is only given to the humble (James 4:6). 2. Strength through Sharing God‟s Blessings (v 2) You only get strong in the thing you share with others Example: Teachers know better the subject than those who just pass the class and never keep teaching the subject. A stagnant pool gets dirty soon. Sharing reinforces teaching Share it with faithful ones who can pass it on to others. Stewardship 3. Strength through Hardship (v 3) Building Endurance
Building Strength Spiritual Practice – Exercise Example: Jesus‘ prayed so hard that His sweat was as blood drops. Proverbs: The lazy man will never progress Not being slothful but working hard and growing in strength Do not be lazy in prayer, Bible reading, hospitality, witnessing, and fellowshipping. 4. Strength through Pleasing the Master (v 4) Example: A well known violinist who never cared for the audience‘ applause, but only looked to the nod of his master sitting somewhere among the crowd. He lived in the audience of the one. God‘s nod of approval is more important than all the world. Will He be able to say ―Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things‖? The Joy of the Lord is my strength. 5. Strength through Law-abiding (v 5) There are particular rules for healthy living There are crucial rules for strength exercise There are disciplines that need to be followed.
We can‘t just be random and strike at strength It is a process that takes time, patience, practice, and care regarding spiritual health laws. The Bible is our Law book and the Holy Spirit is our tutor. IF WE DO ALL THIS THEN, V. 6, WE‘LL PARTAKE OF THE FRUITS.
Winning through Discipline and Diligence
I remember a story by Leo Tolstoy in which the devil wishes to deceive and lure Ivan the Fool. After failing many attempts to lure him, he finally proposes to teach Ivan and all the fools how to do brain-work. He says that they who work with the mind can do better than they that work with the hands. This interests Ivan the Fool who remarks that he wanted to learn how to work with the head so that it‘ll help when they‘re tired working with the hands. So, the fools gather around the devil who ascends to a tower and begins his lectures on how to work with the head. They wait and wait and wait, until someone asks ―Has he yet started working with his head?‖ to which another responds ―No, he‘s just been talking all along.‖ So, they all start leaving because they can‘t leave their works and listen to speeches when he promised them to show them how to work with the head. After three days of lecturing, the devil is exhausted and
hungry. He asks for bread, but the people say that if working with the head is better than working with the hands, then he should be able to procure his bread thereby. The devil, finally, can‘t take it anymore and falls down hitting his head against a pole. Someone, exclaims ―Oh, he‘s started working with the head.‖ And, people rush to him as he keeps tumbling down and down. But, then, suddenly there‘s a hole in the ground and the devil disappears out of the sight. He has lost. The lesson is that simple-mindedness with manual labor has great gain than philosophizing about the universe and doing nothing with the hands. Following are few proverbs from the Bible about the same: “He who has a slack hand becomes poor, but the hand of the diligent makes rich.” Proverbs 10:4 “The hand of the diligent will rule, but the lazy man will be put to forced labour.” Proverbs 12:24
“The soul of the lazy man desires, and has nothing; but the soul of the diligent shall be made rich.” Proverbs 13:4 “The plans of the diligent lead surely to plenty, but those of everyone who is hasty, surely to poverty.” Proverbs 21:5 However, this doesn‘t mean that intellectual reasoning is not important. For instance, Jesus Himself taught that a person should first calculate his budget before beginning to build a house, because it would be bad to begin something and not be able to finish it because all resources were depleted half-way. And, winning is certainly about finishing something. No one gets a prize for just beginning a race; one gets it for finishing it and winning it. Therefore, proper thought should precede proper action. Even the Buddha talked about ―Right Views‖ before ―Right Aspirations‖ and ―Right Action‖. Secondly, diligence is the result of a disciplined mind. The mind is a horrible wanderer. You may know the story of a man who went to hunt a lion; then, finding the traces of deer, turned to follow them, then finding that of a boar, turned to it,
until by the end of the day, he could hunt nothing. That‘s what an undisciplined mind does. One believes something is right today, and changes it tomorrow. One speaks one thing before one person with strong reasoning, and changes it later on. If you want to reach the shore, your boat should follow the compass, and work the rudder and the sail. You can‘t just keep on tossing from wave to wave and play the yoyo between winds of the world all the time. Care not for what people say. Follow the truth. Guard your heart. Believe the right thing. Act with honesty, truth, and diligence, and prosperity is in your way. Set up goals. Plan carefully and determinedly. Carry out the work with diligence, discipline, and determination. diligent action! Win through discipline and
Self-Control – An Essential Qualification of God‘s Servant
A man of God should possess a disciplined lifestyle (rising early, keeping things tidy, eating moderately, behaving avoiding all talking modestly, sparingly studying of and evil, wisely, pursuing purposefully,
excellence with all diligence). He should bear self-control. He should also first be a good leader in his own home before he could be qualified to lead the family of God. But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified. (1Co 9:27) A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls. (Pro 25:28) A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, temperate, sober-minded, of good
behavior, hospitable, able to teach; not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money, but gentle, not quarrelsome, not covetous; one who rules his own house well, having his children in submission with all reverence (for if a man does not know how to rule his own house, how will he take care of the church of God?); not a novice, lest being puffed up with pride he fall into the same condemnation as the devil. Moreover he must have a good testimony among those who are outside, lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil. (1Ti 3:2-7) Likewise deacons must be reverent, not doubletongued, not given to much wine, not greedy for money, holding the mystery of the faith with a pure conscience. But let these also first be tested; then let them serve as deacons, being found blameless. Likewise, their wives must be reverent, not slanderers, temperate, faithful in all things. Let deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well. (1Ti 3:8-12)
On Being a Star Poem
You need tougher stuff to remain a Star, though a distant invisible one; most so called Stars are misunderstood fireworks; they blaze and disappear sooner from our skies. But what crackle they make in all their pompous display. Celebrities and icons, upheld and adored by myriads. How sooner does your vigor die, your fire go away; Perhaps, an overdose of heroine, or some fear of rejection; You burn with your stardom as fireworks up in the sky. Retain your calm, get underframes of truth and grace, Despise not others, do good and learn good to praise. For, if you stick to passion, it‘ll eat you anyway; But, if you stick to wisdom, it‘ll keep you all the way.
Multiplying Your Talents (Matt.25:1430)
Talents are the responsibilities handed over to you. Unless you are faithful in these, you can‘t be trusted for greater ones. In this parable recorded in Matthew 25, the talents (bags full of gold) may appear to be very big responsibilities in our sight, but to these servants they were not so, having been trained in the administration of such business for long. They were given talents according to their ability and not beyond that. Two of them were faithful; the last one, sadly, wasted the time that could be put to multiply the talent — and time lost is lost forever, of course; in addition, he may have only been living out of the master‘s store, or being paid for being a servant during this time of idleness that he spent. He only added loss to his master.
I‘ve heard of people who, when they applied for higher jobs, were first put to little jobs such as cleaning the toilets as test of their faithfulness. If one can‘t be faithful in the least that he is asked to do, he is not fit for higher responsibilities either. Once Late Rev. Dr. Kurien Thomas came to the Seminary, and finding the place before the store not cleaned, called for the student who was appointed for the task there. The boy came in all unkempt and wearing unwashed clothes. Dr. Thomas asked him to immediately vacate the building and leave the Seminary. He who couldn‘t take care of his own clothes, he said, is not fit to take care of the Church of Jesus Christ. It may be sweeping your room, washing your clothes, doing your homework, being sincere to your parents, to your teachers, and to your friends. All these count. They are your talents. You can only grow and multiply your talents where there is: Trust – Trustworthiness as well as an environment of trust that is built around because of you not
failing your friends and those you are responsible towards. Aspiration – Without aspiration and desire, you can‘t have motivation. Motivation is that which propels action. Without aspiration there can‘t be any vision for growth. The flame must keep burning. Don‘t look at your tasks as burdens, but love them. Be faithful to God first of all in all these. Seek His glory through all your works. Liberty – You need freedom and liberty to grow. If you are enslaved to certain habits, laziness, TV, profitless reading, chatting, surfing, drugs, sex, etc, these will only keep you from growing. The internal bondages are more dangerous than the external ones, viz. social, political, etc. Effort – You must put effort; for only effort multiplies. All dreaming and no working is just a big waste of time; and, time lost cannot be regained again. Therefore, work while it is day; for, a night will come when you can do nothing anymore.
―No‖ – There are times when you should be able to say a ―no‖ to things that may look good, but keep you from the best. Of course, you must always give a ―no‖ to the wrong. Do not keep the pleasure and wishes of your friends or people around above responsibility. Be faithful to the true and good, and you will see the rewards in the long run. Young people, especially, must learn to say ―no‖ to a lot of things that come from peer pressure; no matter what it costs in the present. Better do something you will never regret for again, than do things that will torment your soul with guilt for the rest of your life. I know that you wish to not offend or wish to not be rejected by friends; but, if you choose the right and expose the evil of the wrong, you only do good to them. Where everyone chooses to put off his candle, you must choose to keep it up on the candlestick and shining for all to see and know the difference between good and evil. There are ―no‖s that you will always be proud of. Temperance excesses, – Moderation, i.e., avoiding and
perseverance are virtues that keep you going in
the long run, and help you finish what you started. Rewards are only conferred on those who finish the race, not on those who start it well, but give up mid-way. Don‘t get off-balanced in any thing. Keep the golden middle. Neither be over passionate nor be listless. Avoid boredom by engaging in the right kinds of actions. Don‘t spend those hours in wasteful pleasures. Make best use of time. Redeem it, says the Bible, for the days are evil (Eph.5:16). There is a Hindi saying Josh mein hosh nahi khona, meaning ―Don‘t lose sobriety (hosh) in the midst of excitement (josh).‖ Be temperate. The tortoise who keeps on moving, though slowly, wins the race; the hare, sadly, loses because it runs too fast sometimes, then sags into sleeping the other times. Don‘t be a yo-yo person, sometimes high up and other times down very down. Keep your composures fine. Rejoice in the Lord: and again I say, rejoice (Phil.4:4). Be faithful in the least and God will make you incharge of the greater. And, of course, do not forget Joseph and Job. Joseph was faithful to his father despite the hatred of his brothers, faithful
to Potiphar despite what Potiphar‘s wife sought, faithful in the prison despite the injustice done to him, and God lifted him up to become the Prime Minister of Egypt. Job, he was faithful to God, when he had things, and when he lost them all as well; therefore, God rewarded him doublefold. Of course, don‘t do it for rewards; do it because you love your Master and know that He is good. God bless you!
The Power of Asking in Prayer
Never lose sight of the power of just asking. It has a clean history — never failed. “Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.” (1John 5:14-15) And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. (John 14:13) If you ask anything in My name, I will do it. (John 14:14) You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you. (John 15:16) Most assuredly, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in My name He will give you. (John 16:23)
Until now you have asked nothing in My name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full. (John 16:24) In that day you will ask in My name, and I do not say to you that I shall pray the Father for you. (John 16:26) Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. (Matthew 7:7) And whatever things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive. (Matthew 21:22)
Wisdom is the Principal Thing
The Book of Proverbs in the Bible presents Wisdom as the first of all things (Prov.4:7). Wisdom existed before the worlds existed, for by it were the worlds created, it says. Therefore, King Solomon advices the youth to first seek for wisdom above all things, above rubies, pearls, and whatever categorized material blessings in those days. For, when wisdom comes it comes with these and more. Interestingly, the word ―philosophy‖ actually referred to the Greek quest or love for wisdom (phileo meaning ―to love‖ and sophia meaning ―wisdom‖). Sadly, in the two millenia and half that rolled out after Socrates, skepticism, relativism, agnosticism, and nihilism scribbled their characters over the scroll of this discipline. Ironically, ―philosophy‖, in modern parlance, is far from being considered ―a love for wisdom‖. As G. K. Chesterton wrote:
“..the new rebel is a sceptic, and will not entirely trust anything. He has no loyalty; therefore he can never be really a revolutionist. And the fact that he doubts everything really gets in his way when he wants to denounce anything. For all denunciation implies a moral doctrine of some kind; and the modern revolutionist doubts not only the institution he denounces, but the doctrine by which he denounces it. Thus he writes one book complaining that imperial oppression insults the purity of women, and then he writes another book (about the sex problem) in which he insults it himself. He curses the Sultan because Christian girls lose their virginity, and then curses Mrs. Grundy because they keep it. As a politician, he will cry out that war is a waste of life, and then, as a philosopher, that all life is waste of time. A Russian pessimist will denounce a policeman for killing a peasant, and then prove by the highest philosophical principles that the peasant ought to have killed himself. A man denounces marriage as a lie, and then denounces aristocratic profligates for treating it as a lie. He calls a flag a bauble, and then blames the oppressors of Poland or Ireland because they take away that bauble. The man of this school goes first to a political meeting, where he complains that savages are treated as if they
were beasts; then he takes his hat and umbrella and goes on to a scientific meeting, where he proves that they practically are beasts. In short, the modern revolutionist, being an infinite sceptic, is always engaged in undermining his own mines. In his book on politics he attacks men for trampling on morality; in his book on ethics he attacks morality for trampling on men. Therefore the modern man in revolt has become practically useless for all purposes of revolt. By rebelling against everything he has lost his right to rebel against anything.” (Orthodoxy, 1908) Therefore, one marvels if the modern general information system usually leaves a person more wiser. Certainly, it is agreed that neither Intelligence Quotient nor education, in the modernist sense, are badges of wisdom. One often hears remarks regarding some illiterate peasant or one‘s own less-educated parent as having more wisdom to guide one‘s life than all one‘s education and experiences had produced in him/her. So, we ask what wisdom is, after all. Certainly, we understand it. So, let‘s try to just put it into words in order to have some talk on it. We understand a
person to be wise not because of the many questions he raises nor because of the doubts he casts; we, usually, understand that person to be wise who is able to solve problems, one who has solutions to some problem. We also understand that person to be wise who knows what to act in which situation, one who has the discernment to make the right choice and take the right decision or route to action. Now, a great many of our actions, though not appearing so on the surface, are made up of ethical choices. And, the choices one makes builds up one‘s character as a wise or a fool; for, such choices determine the quality of one‘s relationships with others. A wise man is readily taken to be a man of faith, and someone that is reliable as a rock, for he knows the truth and has the character to hold on to the right principles of action in this world. If one looks into the Holy Scriptures of any religion, one will certainly not find all the answers to the moral questions we face in our days. For instance, the Bible doesn‘t specifically tell us whether smoking is right or wrong. Therefore, the laws that govern a nation continue to grow each passing day. But, wisdom
as the principal thing is the key that opens the understanding to a discernment of what is right or wrong in a given situation. It calculates the moment, at hand, in perspective of God, fellowmen, and eternal repercussions. It also calculates the decision with regard to the knowledge of what is good, noble, and just. Therefore, a wise person‘s company makes others wise; his countenance sharpens those who befriend him like iron sharpens iron. Of course, as Confucius and several other people rightly noted, while the material universe is governed by the laws of nature, the psychological world of man is governed by laws of morality. Immanuel Kant once said that there were only two things that surprised him: the starry heavens above and the moral law within. Within the heart of every man and woman is written the moral law of God, and certainly a violation of this inner law not only mars and distorts one‘s character, but also one‘s perspective of reality. Reality is warped by transgression of the law of human behavior. Shame, guilt, pride, anguish, anxiety, vexation, distrust, mistrust, and whatever conditions disturb peace of mind are produced by a disturbed connection between the inner
world and the outer world by the cord of moral understanding. It is like a boy who holds the cord to the kite that he flies in the sky. When the cord is broken, the soul is lost. The wise don‘t fall prey to what the world dictates; they listen to the voice of wisdom that imparts discernment, inner rightness and justice, and mature insight. Certainly, then, faith is the mark of the wise; while the ignorant wallow in doubt, and the fool is marked by rebellion that destroys his own soul. There is another thing to note about wisdom. It not only makes the right moral choice, it, in fact, goes ahead of this and inculcates an understanding of worth and purpose. Wisdom knows the worth of things and their purpose. It begins with an understanding of self-worth and purpose in this world. The skeptic and the unwise sees absurdity in the world. Wisdom sees meaning. I once read a quote by someone in Readers‘ Digest that said ―Any jackass can kick a barn down, but it takes a carpenter to build it.‖ Foolishness invents mental chaos; wisdom builds the world. Therefore, wisdom is known as the principal thing. One must, also therefore, seek wisdom more than any other thing. In modern
times, materialism has taken hold of many young minds and their lives oriented towards accumulation of dusty gold or gold dust,
whatever. The Bible declares the love of money as the root of evil, a trap and snare that only afflicts and warps character rather than building it. This pursuit of gold is certainly not the purpose of man on earth. To Aristotle, the ultimate purpose of man was to be a rational being, because this was what distinguished man from the brute world. The Bible goes a bit further and declares man‘s purpose to be the pursuit of God, who though not being away from anyone of us, is still unknown to the soul that is blinded by ignorance. Some have confused the pursuit of God with the pursuit of Godhood. Man cannot be the Maker. It is pride that would reject this principal gem of wisdom. Man‘s pursuit of God alone constitutes the pursuit of meaning and purpose because the Maker alone knows what man has been created for. Our meaning of life is in the mind of God. The New Testament tells us that this meaning is communicated to us through the Incarnation of God in human flesh, the Incarnation of Jesus Christ who through His life, service, death, and resurrection declared to man
what his ultimate reason is, his ultimate choice of purpose in life. It is not just heaven or salvation from judgment that the Cross of Christ provides for us. It is a life that discerns God‘s will and pursues it because God‘s will is good and wisdom is the law of the Good. Somewhere one certainly sees where the
difference lies between the perpetrators of crime against humanity and the lovers of humanity; to symbolize, between Adolph Hitler and Mother Teresa. Deep in the hearts of humanity is the answer: wisdom. To know the good and do it is wisdom; to transgress is folly.
Protect Your Heart Poem
Throw not a stone in the dirt, For it‘ll splatter back on your skirt. Wipe off the daily dust, And let not your iron rust. Do not let the despiser inside the gate; For his breath is a baited bait. Protect your heart with all precaution; For it alone first deserves your caution. (Proverbs 4:23)
Faith - Poem
The heart of faith has no presumption, It simply trusts His Word. It stands secure, and in His Promise Finds eternal worth. The eyes of faith will never tire, Though deeper gets the night; They hope ignited by the fire Of God‘s Eternal Light. The dreams of faith are dreams of glory; Not earthly name or fame. A child may write another history, If he‘s of God ne‘er ashamed. Faith will worship God forever; For faith alone, in truth, sees Him. Faith is an unceasing river Of praise and worship to the King. Faith listens and faith obeys, Faith moves on and never stays, Faith is strong and faith grows stronger And never falters in His ways.
Faith offers its all to God Not a thing to itself left; For faith‘s true rest and meaning Are in the bosom of His chest.
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