Saturday, April 21, 2018

Using Alpha Power to Deal with Arrogance

UV 2929/10000 Using Alpha Power to Deal with Arrogance
Every one that is proud in heart is an abomination to the LORD: though hand join in hand, he shall not be unpunished
Proverbs 16 v 5

Pride or arrogance caused one of the chief angels Lucifer to fall. Arrogance is hated by the Lord. Arrogant attitude of heart as well as arrogant words and actions do not go unpunished. Even the spiritual minded can become proud of their spirituality and look down upon others as the Pharisees did. Scripture asks us not to regard ourselves wiser or better than others but to measure ourselves by the extent of our faith. Neither our positions or our possessions should fill us with pride and cause us to lord it over others. Our daily submission in humility before the Lord and continually renewing our hearts and minds with the Word or Alpha power will help to remedy and cure us of pride or arrogance.

Pride leads to envy, dissensions and strife as to who is greater. Even among the disciples of Jesus, we find evidence of some kind of pride and envy. Pride creeps in subtly when we feel strong and self reliant, not dependent on God’s grace. It is written in scripture that God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble. Humility is a spiritual fruit engendered in our hearts and minds by the Holy Spirit. The more we receive grace and the Lord lifts us up, the more we should humble ourselves. True humility does not come from a false or outward sense of modesty but recognizing our own weaknesses, failures, our frailties and seeing the weaknesses and frailties of others in ourselves.

Pride or arrogance manifests in our body language, our gestures, our speech and our reactions. But it begins deep in our hearts and minds with a false or exaggerated assessment of ourselves, our abilities, our talents, our character, our influence, our position in life, our family background. Paul dealt with his pride effectively even though he had many gifts and accomplishments both as a Jew and later, as a believer and chief evangelist to the non-Jews. He referred to himself as the worst of sinners, saved by grace of Jesus. Pride and arrogance affects our testimonies and adversely impacts our judgement. It makes us prone to many willful errors. Initially, when we are starting our lives, we may not be proud or arrogant but as we rise in position, power, wealth, influence, the heady mix goes to our heads and we begin to see ourselves as demi-gods who are not accountable to anyone, even God. We stop seeking and listening to good advice and commit blunders that could prove costly for ourselves, our families, our future. This is the process through which even good men get corrupted by power over time. I recently came across a formerly successful businessman who fell into bad times and even lost the house he was staying in to creditors. He told me that due to his pride and arrogance, he kept expanding his business to many cities, he was lavish in his lifestyle and spending, he stopped listening to his business advisers and consequently, the bad debts piled up. The foolish man built his house on sand not because he had no one to advice him but he stopped listening to them and thought he knew better than any builder. When we constantly listen to the wise counsel of Jesus, the embodiment of Alpha and Omega power, we will be able to run the entire course of our lives, without the baggage of pride and arrogance.

Friday, April 20, 2018

Using Alpha Power to Deal with Adultery

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But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.
Matthew 5 v 28

Adultery is what adults try but it is forbidden by a commandment of the Lord given through Moses. In short, it comes naturally to all but needs to be supernaturally overcome and dealt with. Jesus went further and said that even looking at a woman with lust makes one guilty of adultery. Adultery starts in the thought life of a person. Therefore, the Psalmist wrote that he had made a covenant with his eyes not to look at a woman with lust. Yet many Biblical heroes like Samson, David and even contemporary leaders of the church and the world have fallen right through the ages to adultery. This is one of the powerful temptations and snares that catch leaders in different spheres at the height of their influence and impact. They begin to feel as if they are immune and the risks of being discovered are very low. They feel powerful, invincible and satisfied with their sexual conquests. If they are married, they begin to lead a double life. Some celebrities who in the recent past ruined their marriages and family life as well as personal reputation are Tiger Woods, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Al Gore and many others. These men could never regain their iconic stature or their respective professional prowess once they were discovered. One needs to be therefore rooted in the Word and careful to set boundaries of personal behaviour with the complementary sex.

As I am writing, there are reports of minor girls being gang raped and brutally murdered in different parts of the country. There are sex scandals breaking out. The root of all this is spiritual darkness. There is a good root that is the Alpha or Jesus and there is the bad root which is the enemy of our souls. The root is the unseen dimension of our lives. If we are truly grafted to the Alpha Jesus, He will see us through our lives without our conscience being seared and our names and lives messed up. He will release His Alpha power that will enable us to bear good fruit of love, service, charity, good works of different kinds and not the bad or evil fruit of adultery, covetousness and the like. Such persons are the real Alpha males and females who are able to resist the temptation of adultery.

Some of the rules or boundaries of personal conduct that have protected men of God like Billy Graham are : strive to never travel alone or remain alone with a woman or man as the case may be, avoiding personal mails and calls with members of the complementary gender, avoiding stimuli like pornographic literature or films or snaps. The enemy being fully aware of our weak points would target it and we, therefore, need to be on the guard all the time. Jesus asks us to remove the root of adultery out of our lives, to pluck out every thought of breaking the bonds of covenant with Him and with the woman or man, he or she is married to.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Using Alpha Power to Deal with Arguments

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But foolish and unlearned questions avoid, knowing that they do gender strifes.

2 Timothy 2 v 23

Scripture or Alpha power requires us to avoid arguments. In the book of Proverbs, it is written that the best place to stop an argument is at the very start of it just as the breach of a dam produces most damage. It could lead to a breach or irreparable damage to our relationships. Scripture describes different types of arguments that are vain, fruitless or useless: arguments with fools on irrelevant matters, arguments with a spouse, arguments with our children, arguments with rivals, opponents and enemies. None of these arguments are profitable or useful to anyone except to produce strife. Arguments rob us of our peace of mind and are a tool of the enemy who is described by Jesus as a “robber.” Arguments escalate into full fledged disputes, quarrels and harm relationships when emotions on both sides are involved. Arguments usually arise out of a feeling that one knows better than others. Our egos are involved and we do not want to lose the argument as if our very lives depended on the outcome. Instead, if we humble ourselves and allow the Holy Spirit to work in the hearts and minds of the person or persons arguing, it would be more effective.

But Jesus had discussions and conversations with a variety of people including the learned and scholarly in the temple when He was barely twelve. The apostles too had debates and discussions with a variety of people- seekers, believers, doubters, persecutors, authorities. But the distinction between an argument and a discussion is that the former unlike the latter produces more heat and sound than light. Disciplining our minds to identify which is an useful discussion and which is an useless argument will keep us out of a lot of quarrels. We should avoid discussions on the minor or peripheral issues of faith and life and focus on the major issues. In discussions on matters of faith, we should prefer to win the person and loose the argument. Not only should we avoid arguments but we should act as the peace maker when a wordy quarrel breaks out in our midst.

Scripture also specifically exhorts us to shun profane or vulgar discussions, coarse joking. We are asked to be sagacious not salacious, approved by the Lord not popular with people. The tongue of the human is described as a rudder, our attitudes are the sails, our mind is the helm that gives direction to our lives, our anchor is Christ. Our words give direction and balance to our lives. The Alpha power of Christ gives us stability. In normal times, the anchor lies in the boat but when the boat rests in a harbour or in a storm, the anchor lies at the bottom of the water. It implies that we need to be accompanied by Christ when we are moving our tongues and when we are alone and resting as well as when we are confronting a storm- a quarrel or an internal crisis, we should fix our minds deep in Christ, our anchor.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Using Alpha Power to Deal with Attitudes

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And be renewed in the spirit of your mind

Ephesians 4 v 23

As new creatures in Christ, we need to have the mind or attitudes of Christ described by Him in the Sermon on the Mount. We are to continually renew our spiritual minds by renewing ourselves by the knowledge of His character and of His word or His Alpha power. We will not be corrupted by the influence of the deceitful lusts of this world but we avail of the power of the Holy Spirit to reinforce new boundaries of behaviour, speech and actions as well as reactions. The word or Alpha power will guide us in our decisions or choices as it will judge the desires and thoughts of our hearts.

Paul wrote to the believers in Rome that they should not conform to the world but be transformed by the renewal of their minds. The process of transformation is lifelong but renewal needs to happen every day of our earthly lives. We renew our minds in the image of Christ when we pray, when we worship, when we fellowship, when we study the Word and apply it in our lives. If we are sensitive and responsive from moment to moment, the Holy Spirit will point out to us the attitudes of our minds that we need to discard, the attitudes that we need to build and strengthen.

Our positive attitudes are the building blocks of our minds and indeed, of our lives and relationships while our negative attitudes are the stumbling blocks of our spiritual progress. The good news is that in Christ we can make a fresh start. Alpha power is the power to initiate change in us and sustain it while Omega power of Christ is the power to complete, to finish, to succeed in our attitudinal goals. Our attitudinal goals are to be like Him in humility, compassion, patience, hunger for righteousness, desire to bring peace to all people. Our attitudes opens the pathways of blessing from the Lord as promised in each of the beatitudes proclaimed by Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount.

Using Alpha Power to Deal with Adversity

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He delivereth the poor in his affliction, and openeth their ears in oppression
Job 36 v 15
One translation of this uni-verse puts it aptly, “ For He gets their attention through adversity.” But for adversity, most people would not even seek God or His rule over their lives. Our character is both tested and shaped by adversity. He builds our faith often in times of adversity. Not that the Lord is against prosperity but the best lessons of life are taught and learnt in hard times. Our usually insensitive ears, minds and hearts begin to respond to Him. Scripture says that adversity builds patience in us. We are ready to wait till the Lord acts as we cry out in pain and anguish. We continue to hold onto our hope that He will come to our rescue, that He will deliver us.

Scripture states, “ Many are the afflictions of the righteous but the Lord delivers him from them all.” The sovereignty and reality of God will break through the storm clouds. The Alpha power of God will become real to us as we deal with adversity. Sometimes, the Lord uses adversity to discipline us and wean us from the path of obstinacy and wilful error even as a rider puts a hook through the nose of a horse to tame it. It will be painful while it lasts but once the adversity is over, the lessons of wisdom and faith learnt are incomparably more valuable. We need to use the Alpha power of Christ to overcome, to cope with adversity even as Paul coped with imprisonment, betrayal, loneliness, ship wreck, flogging, false accusations, an affliction in his flesh that he called a thorn and so on.

Sometimes, the darkest hour of adversity would precede the most glorious days of our lives. Jacob was at the end of the tether of hope having lost his favourite son Joseph and Benjamin as well as Simeon had been held back in Egypt. At that point in time when everything seemed the bleakest and he was at his weakest, the sun broke through the dark clouds. His long last son Joseph, who had himself suffered much adversity, was restored to him in a way he could not have imagined. Joseph was restored to him as the second most powerful ruler of the most powerful nation of the ancient world. It was a most joyful reunion with all his sons. He lived the last decades of his life enjoying the fulfilment of the promise of Jehovah to him. The mystical word ALPHA can be expanded to stand for Always Prayerful, Hopeful Always. Indeed, there is no joy in this life without hope and no hope without finding our joy in the strength of the Lord.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Using Alpha Power to Deal with Anguish

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Using Alpha Power to Deal with Anguish
I called upon the LORD in distress: the LORD answered me, and set me in a large place.

Psalm 118 v 5

Jesus who was called the Man of Sorrow experienced the greatest anguish as He faced the greatest test of the cross on Calvary and the consequent separation from the Father in the first time in eternity. Even Jesus cried out to the Lord and His anguish was so great that it is written “ He sweated drops of blood” due to the great distress He suffered. Even on the cross, He cried out in anguish, “ My God, My God, why do you forsake Me?” God had forsaken Him for the sake of all mankind. Each of us also experience such anguish in our lives when no human help is of any avail and we cry out to the Lord from the depths of our souls. At that time, the Lord hears us and comforts us. He sends His word or His Alpha power to remove us from a place of sorrow to a place of great comfort, even an inexplicable joy though the circumstances that caused the anguish may not have changed a bit.

In this uni-verse, David who often faced such extreme distress gives testimony that when He cried out to the Lord in distress, the Lord heard him and released him from such distress. Hezekiah, the kiing also faced a wall – the end of his life and he cried out to the Lord and the Lord healed him and gave him an extension of life on earth by fifteen years. The King Asa felt distressed when he was facing the prospect of annihilation of his kingdom, his people and his rule by formidable enemies but as they worshipped and prayed to the Lord, the spectre of defeat was lifted and they emerged victorious against all odds. Often, we feel powerless, helpless and vulnerable when we confront such walls – a disease of a loved one or of self , a bereavement, an accident, a misfortune or financial crisis, powerful enemies, persecution and so on. At these times, the Lord inclines His ear to our mouth to hear our cries. Even our sighs do not go ignored by Him. He is mindful of us and sends us help in either human form or strength from within to endure.

The Psalmist records that He gives us a new song or a new reason to be joyful, thankful and worshipful. He manifests or gives evidence of His presence near us. We no longer feel isolated, alone, forlorn, distressed. Faith is knowing the reality of the Alpha power of the Lord to rescue us in any and every situation that life or the enemy can throw at us. It enables us to never lose hope and to never give up. The phrase in the uni-verse, “ He sets my feet in a large room,” implies that on the strong foundation of faith, the Lord establishes us. He enlarges the paths in which we walk so that we do not slip or stumble. Our trust in the Lord gives us a sense of freedom from angst, freedom from frustration and desperation.
Prateep V Philip

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Using Alpha Power to Deal with Anxiety

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Using Alpha Power to Deal with Anxiety
Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.

Philippians 4 v 6

Alpha power is the ability of Jesus. During His earthly sojourn that was cruelly interrupted by His crucifixion but continued for forty days after His glorious resurrection, He proved Himself to solve every human problem and predicament. He solved the issue of scarcity when the hosts at the marriage at Canna were beginning to worry about the wine running out. He solved the issues that were at the root of anxiety in a variety of situations covering the whole gamut of life from birth to death. He solved the root issues of human anxiety of sin, judgement, curses, death, disease and spiritual poverty. It is not as if His Alpha power was withdrawn with His ascension to heaven but given to us in the form and gifts of the Holy Spirit whom He promised to send to all who truly believed Him and accepted into their hearts and lives. Jesus addressed the issue of anxiety or worry. He said, “ Do not worry for it cannot add a single inch to your height or change even a single hair from white to black.” He pointed out the birds that did not have to worry about food or clothing or shelter, that they did not have to store for the morrow. He said that we do not have to worry as God cares for us much more than He cares for many sparrows or birds.

It is an irony that Martha was weighed down by many worries, cares and burdens that she could not enjoy the fellowship with the Lord of life. Mary who was single-minded in her devotion to Jesus and listening hung on every word He spoke and had no burden on her mind. Great prayer warriors were former worriers who transformed their habit of worrying into a continual act of prayer, worship and adoration. The Word of God or Alpha asks us to cast all our worries or burdens on the Lord. We cast it on Him in times of prayer. We commit all the issues that worry us to the Lord and He will lift our heavy yoke and give us a lighter yoke- the kingdom of God to be concerned about. It is not as if are called to lead a carefree life or be indifferent to the pressing problems of our lives and of our age but that we trust the Lord to either help us endure it or end it with His help or grace. The uni-verse above asks us to make known our requests to the Lord with prayer, personal supplication or persistent asking in faith with thanksgiving as if the Lord has already given us the grace to endure it or the power or resources or opportunity to end it.

Psychologists and psychiatrists around the world are of the view today that anxiety has grown to pandemic proportions and affects the vast majority of people of all backgrounds, ages and nationalities. Excessive anxiety produces ill health- mental, emotional, physical and spiritual. Faith in Jesus and His power to solve any and every human problem is a panacea, a healer like the Balm of Gilead that calms us of all our hidden or overt anxieties. The Alpha power of Christ enables us to go to the very root of anxiety and cut it, eradicate it, uproot it from our lives. We can turn our worries into a source of knowing the Lord intimately and experiencing His power in a very real and deep way. When a cause of anxiety is resolved, it becomes a source of joy and worship and gratitude to the Lord. When it is not resolved in our lifetime, it becomes a source of building strength, resilience, patience and the power to endure. The Lord will provide clefts or places of shelter in the rock of His presence in the midst of our storms. The more we trust in the Lord, the less we will be anxious. When we trust Him with all our hearts, there will be no room there for anxiety.