Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Lion-like Leadership

UV 2303/10000 Lion-like Leadership
And the remnant of Jacob shall be among the Gentiles in the midst of many people as a lion among the beasts of the forest, as a young lion among the flocks of sheep: who, if he go through, both treadeth down, and teareth in pieces, and none can deliver.
Micah 5 v 8
Those who have a covenanted personal relationship based on commitment are the remnant of Jacob on whom the dew of the Lord’s grace and compassion has fallen. Contrary to the general view that believers are weak or soft people, this uni-verse projects the image of great strength, power and leadership being manifested by the people of the house of Jacob. We are to be lion-like in our leadership qualities: fearless, bold, strong, dignified.. A lion is fierce and aggressive even as a sheep is meek and yielding. We need to blend both these sets of qualities of sheep and lion even as Jesus is both Lion of Judah and Lamb of God. The enemy of our souls is described as a roaring lion. He is in other words an aging lion who tries to intimidate people only with his roar but has lost his prowess or power. We who believe in contrast are young lions. A young lion never falls prey or victim to a roaring but aging lion. We should be ruthless with the roaring but aging lion and defeat or vanquish him in all of his strategies and traps he sets for us.

The lion-like qualities are not in terms of physical power or violence but in terms of spiritual strength and prowess. Jesus demonstrated such qualities of a lion when he cleansed the temple of merchants and money lenders in righteous wrath. A hidden anger should simmer in us against the evil we see around us. It is not expressed in violence but in fervent spirit and all conquering faith exercised in prayer and proclamation. The lion reflects the best regal qualities among all beasts of the forest. Likewise, we are to reflect the best qualities of Jesus in our everyday life.

The metaphor of the young lion is used to emphasize that our faith and enthusiasm for the Lord and His word should always be young and strong. We can tread upon all that is evil in this world with the power of the Holy Spirit in us. We are to be watchful and alert like a young lion. A young lion is always at ease and in a state of poise or equilibrium as if nothing could disturb him. Our faith in the Lord frees us from stress and causes us to be self assured, calm, relaxed and at poise even in difficult circumstances. A young lion is decisive and goes after its targets with killer instinct. We too should not vacillate or procrastinate but once a target is firmed upon, we should go after it with the speed and alacrity of a young lion.

Prateep V Philip

Monday, June 26, 2017

Versatile Resource

UV 2302/10000 Versatile Resource
Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart: for I am called by thy name, O LORD God of hosts.
Jeremiah 15 v 16

Every day we need to find the words of the Lord and eat them. It is sweeter than honey, more precious than thousands of coins of gold and silver. How hard men work to earn thousands of coins of gold and silver as profit in their enterprise! Likewise, we need to be enthusiastic about finding and eating the apt word from the Lord that we need every day of our lives. The word nourishes our soul, feeds our faith, hope and love of the Lord. It is more necessary than food and material wealth or comforts. It is our versatile resource. It is the software the Lord wants to install in the hardware of our minds and bodies. It is the means by which each of us become blessed and become a source of blessing for others- our families, our children, our future generations, our neighbours, friends, nations and even our foes and enemies.

We need to find our joy or delight in the word as if it is the spiritual equivalent of honey or the best delicacies that we delight in eating. It is the manna or the precious food of our hearts, healing our hurts, instilling in us love and hope, augmenting our faith so that we have new experiences of the grace of the Lord in our lives. There are defensive verses in scripture that act as our spiritual shield against attacks of the evil one as well as offensive ones by virtue of which we wrest victory over death, sin, disease and poverty of spirit, mind and body. The word of the Lord is our insurance, our enablement, our medicine, the source of our encouragement and inspiration.

The word is our eternal spiritual heritage. It makes us realize that we are children of the God of the hosts of armies of angels, that we are given the privilege of being called by His name as we belong to Him. The word is meant for our holistic needs- the need of our minds or souls, spirits and bodies. It is meant for our sustenance as well as growth or edification. It equips us to meet all the challenges that life throws at us and emerge victorious. It enables us to think the thoughts of God and to take captive every negative thought or fear or inhibition- all that holds us back from living the abundant life, abundant with love, faith and hope.

Prateep V Philip

Friday, June 23, 2017

Invincibility, Security and Stability

UV 2301/10000 Invincibility and Absolute Security
There shall not any man be able to stand before thee all the days of thy life: as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee: I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.
Joshua 1 v 5

Joshua was Israel’ s conquering hero. The walls of Jericho could not withstand him. The mighty men of Anakim could not resist or overcome him. He led the Israelite nation to victory over 31 kings en route to claiming the promised land. The secret of his leadership strength and victories was his devotion to Jehovah. The Lord God’ s presence went with Joshua and ahead as well as behind him. His hand was strong upon Joshua. The result was that no flesh and blood could withstand or overcome him all the days of his life. He became invincible for the Lord fought on his side. Yet another secret of Joshua’s strength and success was his diligent study of the Word of God. Obedience and trust followed diligent study of the Ten Commandments and the Books of the Law then available. The Lord was in a covenant relationship with him as he vowed to serve the Lord by leading the people of Israel.
Even as God was with Moses, He was with Joshua. He promised to “be with him.” He preserved his life in many battles. He protected him. He encouraged him. He gave him counsel on leadership and strategy. The Lord promised never to fail him and never to leave him. He was his bulwark and fortress. Joshua had a sense of absolute security. The presence of the Lord was continuously with him, in him and over him. He never departed from Joshua all the days of his life. It meant that Joshua never offended the Lord in thought, word or deed. He spoke uncompromisingly to the people and led courageously in battle. The Lord delivered many of his powerful foes into his hands. Joshua never made a pact with the enemy. He marched on boldly and persistently till the mission that he was given was fulfilled.
Today, we are declared to be under the new covenant of blood of Jesus and with the hope of resurrection in Him to be more than conquerors. We are more than Joshua as the presence of the Holy Spirit is with us all the days of our lives. Neither the ‘ups’ of life should excite us nor the ‘downs’ depress us. Our heart’s desire should be to follow the lead of the Spirit of God and to obey His word implicitly. Our sense of security should not lie in the world’s systems, riches, titles, offices, sense of achievement or esteem of people or our connections or network but in the assurance of the personal knowledge of Christ, the hope of eternal life, the presence of the Lord with us and in us. We are more than Joshua as He is no longer only with us and for us but He is in us. He provides us leadership from deep within our hearts. The sense of absolute security should give us a hold on absolute stability of mind, emotions and our response to the Lord. Jesus is our anchor in the storms and challenges of life. He is also our sail, compass, helm and helmsman.

Prateep V Philip

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Uplifting Gratitude- the Attitude of the Great

UV 2300/10000 Uplifting Gratitude-the Attitude of the Great
Then went king David in, and sat before the LORD, and he said, Who am I, O Lord GOD? and what is my house, that thou hast brought me hitherto?
2 Samuel 7 v 18

When we remember our humble beginnings often, and remember how the Lord has led us, lifted us, saved us, we will not end up thinking that we are “self made” people who owe nothing to nobody. We should emulate King David who remembered how he started as a shepherd looking after his father’s sheep- a mere lad whose brothers or even father did not take too seriously. But step by step, the Lord raised him up to be first a champion challenger of Israel who defeated the champion giant Goliath whom nobody had defeated till then. Then, he raised him up to be the son-in-law to the king Saul. Finally, He made him heir and successor to Saul and thereafter, one of the greatest kings of Israel. He made him a forebear of the Messiah King of Kings- Jesus. Consciousness of his eternal debt to the Lord caused David to always be outpouring thanksgiving, praise and worship not out of a sense of obligation but out of a heart of love. This is the reason, the Lord commended him to have a heart after his own despite his apparent sin of adultery and murder in the issue of Bathsheba.

We need to think, “ What is man that the Lord sends His own Son to die as a payment for us? What am I that He has paid such a heavy price to redeem me?” None of us were high born or born with a silver spoon in our mouth. The Lord blessed us and increased us, measure by measure to make us who we are today. There is nothing in our family or background to make us feel entitled to whatever we are enjoying today. We were not deserving of the grace and mercy of the Lord shown to us in so many different ways. Having brought us this far, our faith and hope should be such that we know that the Lord will lead us the rest of the way.

The foundation of King David ‘s greatness as a king as well as a spiritual leader lay in his gratitude and thanksgiving to the Lord. He never forgot for a moment who he was essentially. His heart sought the greatness of the Lord. We too should know that we owe our every breath to the Lord. The promises of the Lord are what gave us hope in our difficult times. These were like life-saving ropes thrown down to us to lift us out of the pit of our misery, poverty and suffering even as Joseph was lifted out of the pit in order to pave the way to the cockpit of Egypt. It is not our ability, our talent, our hard work, our influence, our personality or character that has brought us innumerable blessings. Like David, we should not hesitate to acknowledge the hand of the Lord that has blessed, lifted, strengthened, protected and provided for us in all types of predicaments and situations. It is this kind of humility that precedes further grace being poured upon us and honour, riches and wisdom being conferred on us both in this world and the next.
Prateep V Philip

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

H2O Happiness-Holiness Optimisation

UV 2299/10000 H2O Happiness-Holiness Optimisation
Ye are blessed of the LORD which made heaven and earth.
Psalm 115 v 15

When we acknowledge the Lord as the Maker of heaven and earth, then we become heirs to both heavenly blessings like peace, eternal life, salvation, the rewards of the righteous in heaven as well as earthly blessings like good health, prosperity, joy, blessings on the children and family. All the earthly blessings are enumerated in some detail in Deuteronomy Chapter 28, verses 1 to 14: we will be exalted on earth above all nations. We will be blessed in the city and in the country. Our children, crops, cattle or pets would be blessed and multiplied. Our food and water would be blessed. Our movements and journeys would be blessed. We would have victory over our enemies in the flesh and in the spirit. Our efforts, our work and our resources or assets would be blessed. We would be respected or esteemed. We would be blessed with timely showers of blessing. We would be raised to positions of responsibility and leadership. Acknowledging the Lord implies not just oral praise but constant communion, complete obedience, total commitment.

We will also inherit spiritual blessings or the blessings of heaven: the assurance of salvation and eternal life would give us a sense of absolute security and comfort in the Lord. We would learn wisdom directly from the Lord which will help us take decisions and teach us what to do in different situations. Our lives would be filled to the brim with love, joy and hope. We will receive the anointing of the Holy Spirit who will empower us, equip us, enable us, counsel and comfort us.
The earthly blessings make us happy while the spiritual blessings make us holy. Together, these two sides of the coin of life adds up to what is holistic. We will be able to be both successful and godly. We can optimise happiness and holiness. Holiness is not something meant for only the religious, the ecclesiastical order or the priestly order. It is intended to be the clothing of every human being. It is time to bring it back into the everyday use of common people. This is the reason I have used the chemical formula of water that we need and use every single day of our lives- to cleanse ourselves, to satisfy our thirst, to refresh and renew ourselves: H2O meaning Happiness-Holiness Optimisation. We cannot be happy at the cost of holiness. It has long term costs that are huge and cannot be paid by any human being. Sometimes, we can be holy at the cost of our temporary happiness as at the times of suffering. But at the best and worst of times, we need to try to optimise our happiness and holiness.

Prateep V Philip

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

The Infinite Source of Strength

UV 2297/10000 The Source of Strength
I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me
Philippians 4 v 13

Christ took all our little positives and negatives and turned it into one big positive – the cross of Christ. Unlike the monstrous and cruel physical weapon of death that Jesus Himself was compelled to carry, the cross of Christ is a wonderful spiritual weapon or means of redemption to equip us, strengthen us, transform us. The spiritual cross cancels all our past errors, mistakes, blunders, weaknesses and and turns these into sources of wisdom and strength. We do not have to punish ourselves out of the burden of a guilty conscience. It transformed the conniving, conspiring murderer and persecutor Saul into the compassionate determined apostle Paul.

Paul, therefore after his transformation could state that he could do all things in varying situations of his life: enjoy abundance, survive scarcity, practice contentment, endure suffering. In other words, we can do all things positive, good, healthy, wholesome, useful and enhancing and we can avoid or overcome all things negative, unhealthy, destructive. On our own we cannot overcome our inner weaknesses but by the grace of Jesus, we can. On our own, our lives are vain but when we live in Christ, for Christ and with Christ, our lives are both meaningful, powerful and impactful.

Christ strengthens us with His example, His indwelling spirit, His word, His followers, His encouragement. He teaches us to overcome the world and its temptations and sufferings even as He overcame the world. We can fulfil our purpose in life and be filled with the power to work towards that goal. The corollary is that we can do nothing without Christ. In Christ, we enjoy the infinite riches of His glory and grace. In practical terms, it means that our abilities, circumstances, our opposing forces and persons, our resources do not set any limits on what we can do and cannot do. Nothing is too difficult or impossible for us. Infinite strength is not meant to lead the ordinary life but to attempt the impossible and to accomplish the difficult.

Prateep V Philip

Monday, June 19, 2017

Aiming for Consistency and 360 Degree Fruitfulness

UV 2298/10000 Aiming for Consistency and 360 Degree Fruitfulness
A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.
Matthew 7 v 18

We as believers in Christ need to be consistent in our character, our words, our actions and behaviour. Since the seed of our lives is the good seed of the Lord, the soil of our souls being good, our growth and the fruit of our lives should be consistently good and not good some times and bad some times. A good person’s thoughts, words and conduct are in alignment with God just as a good tree can only produce the best fruit. A good tree needs a good root. Our root should be good in terms of our beliefs, our principles, our values. In addition, a tree to be healthy and good needs different inputs like good soil with enough nutrients and minerals for it to absorb, sufficient sunshine, good rain to provide a regular source of water supply, manure to fertilize or enrich the soil, fencing to protect it from predators, regular pruning of branches.

A bad tree cannot produce good fruit. The fruit may appear to be good but may either be rotten on the inside or lacking sweetness or taste. A bad tree comes from bad seed of thoughts and ideas, bad soil or lack of faith, insufficient knowledge, understanding and wisdom, insufficient water, excessive or insufficient sunshine, lack of fencing and upkeep of the tree. The Lord as the planter of every human expects the good fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness and humility in us. The good fruit that the Lord expects cannot come from such a tree. The bad tree produces anger, hatred, jealousy, conflict, hurt, bitterness, abuse, lust, pride, arrogance, laziness, fears, insecurity, selfishness, malice.

Jesus as our Divine Gardener has the power and grace to transform bad trees into good trees. But for this to happen we need to continually and deeply dwell in Him and with Him in the spirit. We need to be rooted in Christ and imitate His methods, intent and determination to be good and godly. Our root in Him needs to be strengthened. The branches of our lives are the different areas of our lives- personal, family, work, friends, service, charity, creativity, finances. These branches should be pruned and maintained to be fruitful or productive. We need to get the sunshine of righteousness every day and be watered regularly with the Word of God. We need inputs of encouragement and counsel from other godly teachers. We need to have a fencing or protection around us at all times to keep the predatory spirit away. With all these in place, we will not relapse to our old nature of being bad trees in the garden of the Lord. Not producing fruit and producing bad fruit are both equally negative options. Producing less fruit is also working below capacity. We need to aim for consistency in producing more and more high quality fruit of life. The Holy Spirit guides, teaches, counsels us but our own self driven growth and thought process does play a role in removing the bad seed of negative thoughts, negative words, the bad root of wrong beliefs and values, the unproductive branches of our lives. Our spoken word should be used to heal people and nations and not to drive a wedge between them. A good tree produces fruit all round or in 360 degrees. We need to aim for consistency in 360 degree fruitfulness.
Prateep V Philip