Saturday, September 23, 2017

Safeguards to Secure Sound Speech


UV2781/10000 Safeguards of Speech
Whoso keepeth his mouth and his tongue keepeth his soul from troubles.
Proverbs 21 v 23
We eat the fruit of our words. Words are powerful. They can kill, heal, deliver, comfort, entertain, instruct, harm, destroy, re-build, strengthen, debilitate, equip, empower, enable. They can cause a person to rejoice or to drive another into deepest depression. Most of life’s troubles emanate from our spoken words: conflicts, arguments, sorrow, pain, humiliation and so on. If our words are pleasant, truthful, beneficial to the listeners, we eat the fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness and self control. If our words are thoughtless, careless, negative, harmful, critical of others, proud, arrogant, conceited, we eat the fruit of anger and strife, of hatred, of bitterness, of violence, of evil, of cynicism, of disorder. A safeguard is to yield control of the unruly, restless tongue and its total use to the Holy Spirit. We should commit to ourselves and the Lord that not a word would be spoken without sending it to the Holy Spirit for approval. A gentleman is one whose tongue and mouth is controlled by the gentle and wise Holy Spirit. The untrained natural tongue is a repository of evil. It needs to be trained by the Holy Spirit so that it is consistently a sweet spring of water and not a poisonous spring or well. The tongue has to be consecrated to the Lord. The same tongue cannot be used to praise God and criticise His creatures. The same tongue cannot be used to bless and to curse our fellow beings. Over a period of time, we will evolve a pattern of speech that is sound, healthy, helpful, positive, wholesome.
Another safeguard is to pass our words through the sieve of the Word of God. Does our speech pass muster when it is measured against the instructions written in the Word on the use of our mouths and tongues? We need to weigh our every word before we utter it. Our tongues express what our hearts and minds are full of. Hence, we need to place a guard at the door or entrance to our hearts and minds. The psalmist prayed that a sentry or guard be placed at the door of his lips. We need to constantly saturate our hearts and minds with portions of scripture that deal with ordering our speech or conversation so that it is in alignment or conformity with the Lord. The Word plays the role of the bit in the horse’s mouth. It helps us control our mouths and tongues. Our minds should be captive to Christ such that every dark or negative thought is arrested and driven out before it triggers a wrong word. We should instead fill our minds with what is true, beautiful, noble, praiseworthy and whatever will be useful for the glory of the Lord, whatever is of benefit to the listener.
Teachers of the Word need to be even more careful how we handle our tongues and mouths. We will be judged more severely for any words that are amiss. If we do not have a useful or apt word for a particular occasion or situation, we should prefer to hold our tongue. Watching our tongues and mouths implies that we should be aware of the impact of our words on people. We should refrain from being talkative for where there is a multitude of words, sin abounds. The saying, “Speech is silver while silence is golden” implies that for the wise in the Lord, silence is the preferred mode of communication. It is not awkward to hold our tongues or remain silent as during the silent moments, we can use it as an opportunity for our spirits to communicate with the Lord. He will then give us the word of knowledge or wisdom to share. Continually meditating on the Word will help us restrain the urge to speak. Pausing to think before we speak, slowing down the speed of speech, developing our listening skills to understand the feelings behind words, analysing the speech patterns of others are some other effective safeguards to ensure consistently good speech.
Prateep V Philip

Friday, September 22, 2017

Prerequisites for Fulfillment of Promises


UV 2780/10000 Prerequisites for Promise Fulfillment
For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise
Hebrews 10 v 36
This uni-verse lays down the conditions for the promises of the Lord to be fulfilled. Salvation itself is a promise. We receive the promise of salvation as well as every other promise concerning our present lives, too and need to wait with hope, faith and patience. Faith means that we should endure through times of testing and suffering. Patience has the dimension that we should persevere through much hardship. While waiting for the fulfilment of promises of the Lord, we need to do the will of God. The patriarchs of Israel who first received the promises of the Lord displayed this kind of patience, hope, obedience to the expressed will of God and perseverance through much suffering. As a runner holds a baton or a messenger hold firm to his despatch without dropping these even once, we need to hold the promise of the Lord before us at all times, through thick and thin, highs and lows till we see its fulfilment.
The Lord is like an artist who etches the edges and contours of our character and life with the help of the suffering and pain we undergo in this life. Patience in matters of faith has many aspects: the patience to wait for a long period of time, the patient hope that a phase of suffering will end, the patience to keep persevering to attain the goals we have set in obedience to the revealed will of the Lord. During the period of waiting, we need to cast aside all doubts, all fears, all burdens that weigh our conscience and our minds down. We need to be joyful and thankful as if the Lord has already fulfilled His promises to us.
When we examine the lives of our models from scripture, we find that Abraham received his promise of a son after long years of patient and faithful waiting. During this period, he held onto his hope and continued to be obedient and faithful to the Lord. Moses but for his occasional flashes of temper held onto the promise that the Lord would lead Israel into the promised land. Jesus Himself despised His suffering on this planet and His extreme suffering, pain, shame and loneliness on the cross in order to receive the crown of highest glory from the Father and to sit at His right hand forever. The preconditions then to fulfilment of a promise of the Lord as seen from these historic lives are: a spirit of positivity, an attitude of faithfulness and obedience to the details of the will of God as revealed to them directly or indirectly, patience, perseverance, confidence that the Lord is able to perform that which He has promised. All these prerequisites are based on an understanding of the character and power of the Lord God.

Prateep V Philip

Thursday, September 21, 2017

The Death of Ego


UV 2779/10000 The Death of Ego
Father, glorify thy name. Then came there a voice from heaven, saying, I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again.
John 12 v 28
History is a record of many individuals seeking their own glory. It is a vain attempt to gain immortality or to live on beyond death. But,the Lord God is already glorious. He does not need any glory to be added to His name. Yet Jesus prays this somewhat strange prayer. It implies that the glory of the Father is complete only when His human creations, created in His image, in His likeness are redeemed from death and judgement of the law unto eternal life. The Father loved His Son Jesus and yet, He spared Him to be like an ordinary human being, one of His many creations so that He could take the place of judgement of all mankind. Jesus did not do this to glorify His own name. He did this to glorify the name of the Father in heaven. When Jesus died on the cross to fulfil the Father’s will and then from the grave ascended to heaven, He drew men and women from all nations to the Father. The Father used Jesus to glorify His name. Jesus became a willing and powerful instrument in the hands of the Father. Likewise, we are to be used to glorify the Lord. All that is in our hands are meant for this purpose. This has a huge spiritual significance for each of us- it means the death of our human egos, our selfish wills, our desire for self gratification and aggrandisement, that we live not for ourselves but in alignment with a greater and divine purpose. The human ego dies but is resurrected as a will that is fully submitted to the Lord God. We need to suffer the death of ego in order to live the life of God, the life of Jesus.
We are to yield ourselves imitating the Saviour Jesus in order to glorify the name of the Father. To glorify Him implies we need to make His name known- Jehovah Shalom. We need to make His deeds known. We need to do and say things that will bring glory to His name. Jesus had been used to glorify the Father’s name in the miracle at the marriage at Canna, to multiply bread and fish to feed the hungry- as Jehovah Jireh- the One who provides. He had glorified the Father’s name in healing people with all types of diseases- as Jehovah Rapha- the One who heals. He had been used to defeat the plans of the enemy of all human souls – Jehovah Nisi. He had been used to cleanse the temple- Jehovah El Shaddai, the Almighty God. He had been used to resurrect Lazarus- the God of Resurrection. He had been used to manifest the righteousness of God- Jehovah Tsidkenu. He had been used to forgive the adulterous woman- the God of mercy. The greatest work of Jesus was reserved for what He accomplished on the cross: He became the veritable way, the truth and the life and brought ultimate and continuing glory to the Father. By this one act of sacrifice, He brought us into relationship with the Father as His own children. No longer are we creatures who had rebelled and continue to rebel but children who find pleasure like Jesus in glorifying His name.
As He used Jesus, the Father uses each of His children as we yield to Him to glorify His name. In the past He has used us to glorify His name. Hereafter, He will use us to glorify His name. As we pray, “Father, use us to glorify your Name,” we will hear a voice from heaven endorsing us, encouraging us, empowering us. Life is a series of finite moments and experiences lived to fulfil an infinite purpose. The infinite purpose is to glorify the name of the Father and the name of His Son Jesus. In whatever we do we do not to seek glory or greatness for ourselves but to seek the glory or greatness of the Father and of the Son. We suffer the death of ego in order to live the life of God.

Prateep V Philip

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Presence-Minded

UV 2779/10000 Presence-Minded
Remember ye not the former things, neither consider the things of old.
Isaiah 43 v 18
This uni-verse is asking us to practice a selective memory to recall only the positive happenings from our past, the blessings and wonders the Lord has done in our lives and that of others in the past. We are not to remember our bondages of the past, even our own sins and offences, the pleasures of the past. We are not to be like the Israelites who remembered the food and water they were given in Egypt while in bondage to Pharaoh. We are not to look back like Lot’s wife to the influence and stakes we had in the past in the world but focus on being the salt and light here and now.
Like Paul, we should forget our sordid or sad past and focus our minds on the goals the Lord has laid on our hearts: the goal to make known Jesus, the goal to become like Him, the goal to glorify God in all that we do. We should not focus on the grudges and problems we faced in the past but let bitterness and anger be transient emotions in our lives. We should not consider the things we do not have but consider all the blessings the Lord has given us. We should not fill our lives with regrets about what we ought to have done in the past but fill it with hope with regard to the future and eternity. Even the failures, mishaps, losses that we suffered will acquire a new significance that we will see these with a new perspective that adds depth, meaning, power and strength to our lives. Whatever the enemy thought for evil, the Lord will turn to good.
We are not just present-minded but presence-minded. Presence of mind is replaced by the presence of God in the believer. We think, speak, act and react as directed by the Holy Spirit who is the warranty of the presence of the Lord with us. We are focussed on the present moment, live it fully while our eye is on the glory and grace of the Lord. We are not too preoccupied with ourselves or engaged in deep thought but live trusting the Lord from moment to moment, day to day, situation to situation, experience to experience. Our spirits, minds and bodies are in equilibrium. When we free our memories and minds of the space taken up disproportionately by negative thoughts and memories of the past, we are free to live the abundant life, the life that is marked by the abundance of the fruit of the spirit, the abundance of joy. The shackles of the past are broken. The Spirit of God is given a free run and rein in our lives. We are energised to be and do our best for the greater glory of the Lord.

Prateep V Philip

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

The Legitimacy of Desire


UV 2778/10000 The Legitimacy of Desire
But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.
Genesis 3 v 3
Gautama Buddha opined that desire is the root of evil and the cause of human suffering. But the Bible states that desires allowed by God are legitimate while desires not permitted by Him are lust. The legitimacy of desire and the illegitimacy of lust is a concept that evolves from this uni-verse. God had permitted man to eat of the fruit of all other trees (legitimate desire) except one ( illegitimate desire. There were multiple good choices and only one bad choice. Today, across the world there are multiple bad choices or choices of lust and one good choice- the tree of eternal life that is personified in the Christ of God, the Chosen One – Jesus. Therefore, we eat and drink the Word. The difference between the words, world and word is the letter “l” that stands for lust. Jesus is the Word personified- the person of God in human form devoid of lust.
The tree of the forbidden fruit occupied a central place in the garden of life. But in the believer’s life or garden, the tree of eternal life or Jesus occupies the central place. Our lust is moved to the periphery, till one by one all our illegitimate desires are moved out of the circle of our lives. We are no longer to live to gratify only our own desires. When we taste of the fruit of the tree of eternal life, we are no longer to be just consumers but producers of the good fruit of eternity-love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, humility and self control. When people behold and taste of such eternal fruit, they will get a taste of eternity, of the kingdom of God.
Suffice it to say, what God allows is legitimate, what God disallows, prohibits, forbids is illegitimate lust. How do we know what God allows and what He prohibits? The Word of God, the counsel of the Holy Spirit and the counsel of the godly are three ways we know what is beyond the legit boundaries of our behaviour, our aspirations, our desires. We have enough freedom within these boundaries. Psychologists state that there is an embedded negative or the ingrained negatives in our human nature-the hubris. The Word helps us identify these negatives and overcome these. The Word enables us to confront, remove and overcome the negatives in us and in our environment even as the cross is a negative sign cut by a line drawn from above to turn it into a positive sign.
Prateep V Philip

Monday, September 18, 2017

No Condemnation


UV 2777/10000 No Condemnation
There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
Romans 8 v 1

As everyone has violated the law given through Moses, everyone is under condemnation. But in Christ Jesus, everyone who believes in Him and His sacrifice and resurrection are redeemed or freed from condemnation to death. We are blessed as our sins are covered by the shed blood of Jesus. It is no longer visible to the eye of the Lord. We now live not under the law but under grace. We are free from the law that binds life and death. This law states, “As one sows, so he reaps.” If we sow in the flesh, we reap in the flesh, if we sow in the spirit, we reap in the spirit. We do not live according to the dictates of the lust of our flesh but by the commandments of the Spirit.
The enemy of our souls holds us prisoner by accusing us of sin. We are weak and ineffectual when we are so accused and condemned. But Jesus sets us free from all guilt and condemnation. Whom the Son sets free is free indeed. We are free from weakness, free from eternal death, free from eternal punishment. Our guilt is rolled away like the boulder at the cave of the grave of Jesus. We no longer need to condemn ourselves or punish ourselves out of a sense of guilt and repentance. Like the immoral woman caught in adultery, if Jesus, the sinless one does not accuse us, then how can anyone else accuse or condemn us.
We being no longer in bondage to sin, we are now free people, children of God. No tongue can condemn us. No finger can be pointed at us. It does not mean that we can do whatever pleases us but that we do whatever pleases the Lord. The prodigal son once he returned to his father’s house was no longer irresponsible and carefree. He was responsive, obedient, thankful and loving in his relationship with the Father. He no longer had the spirit of entitlement to ask for his share in the inheritance from the Father but was content with whatever the Father gave him. Likewise, at every step of our walk or our life hereafter, we ought to be sensitive to the Spirit, responsive to the leading of the Spirit, obedient to the Word, not taking grace for granted.
Prateep V Philip

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Turning Sorrow into Joy


UV 2776/10000 Turning Sorrow into Joy
Then shall the virgin rejoice in the dance, both young men and old together: for I will turn their mourning into joy, and will comfort them, and make them rejoice from their sorrow.
Jeremiah 31 v 13

The young rejoice in their strength while the old rejoice in their wisdom. But we who are in a relationship with the Lord, rejoice again and again, endlessly for we rejoice in the Lord. The “virgin” is the metaphor for the individual believer as well as the collective entity of believers, the redeemed of the Lord. Just as a virgin rejoices in synchronising her every move in dance with her betrothed, we need to rejoice in synchronising and harmonising our every thought, action and word with the Lord. We rejoice as the Lord in us and with us and for us, turns our mourning into joy. The very cause of deep sorrow becomes the reason or source of everlasting joy. He can cause our sorrows to flee away just as light sends darkness scurrying away. On our part, we need to turn worrying into meditation, grumbling into thanksgiving, complaining into praise, fears into worship, regrets into positive actions to change things for the better. He is our song and dance, the reason for our celebration of life. He will comfort us and wipe every tear from our eye as no one else can. The comfort ministry of the Lord is so important that the Lord describes the third person of the Trinity as the “Comforter.” It is an acknowledgement of the reality that in life on earth there are many sorrows, regrets, pains, afflictions but in each of these, the Lord comforts us. He comforts us in such a way that we end up thanking Him for the very affliction or sorrow or pain that we suffered for a while. Our suffering brings home the reality of a caring and loving Lord and God.
Jesus said, “Blessed are those who mourn for they shall be comforted.” It is counter -intuitive for it is like saying, “blessed are you when you are afflicted, when you are rejected, when you are defeated, when you are suffering a loss of a loved one or a loss of face or fortune. We will be comforted either with a change in the circumstances that causes us to sorrow or a change in our attitude that causes us to rejoice despite the circumstance. The Lord also comforts us by sending us a “rhema” verse or portion of scripture that promises us help in trouble, comfort in pain and healing or deliverance in afflictions.
The Lord’s ultimate goal is that we are full of joy or overflowing with joy that expresses itself with praise, thanksgiving and worship. All the precious promises of the Lord are intended to give us the hope and sense of joy. Scripture says that He surrounds us and undergirds us with joy and gladness. His promises surrounds us like mountains surround Jerusalem. We will gain perspective and comfort when we understand, believe and claim these promises even as a mountain climber gains perspective, thrill and a sense of conquest when he climbs a mountain summit. The fulfilment of the promises of the Lord in our lives are then the high point s of our lives not our own efforts or achievements. Joy is not only our 360 degree environment but it is also our rock foundation. It is the basis or rationale of our actions and reactions. People of the world are joyful in a transient way on account of circumstances while we who believe in Jesus are joyful despite our circumstances. Jesus is described in contrasting terms as a “Man of Sorrow” as well as “Prince of Peace”. As a “ Man of Sorrow” He embraced and overcame our every sorrow in this world. He wore a robe of blood so that we will wear not sackcloth but a robe of rejoicing and salvation. As Prince of Peace, He dispenses His peace, the kind of comfort the world cannot give or take away.

Prateep V Philip