Sunday, January 14, 2018

Degrees and Need of Agreement

UV 2884/10000 Degrees and Need of Agreement
Can two walk together, except they be agreed?
Amos 3 v 3
This uni-verse is a remedy for God-man conflict, husband-wife conflict, parent-child conflict, man-woman or a conflict between friends or partners in a business. Agreement or a meeting of minds, reaching a common decision is prerequisite for unity in the family, in the church, in the nation. We need to agree on choices, methods, habits, timing, lifestyle, views on what is acceptable and what is not for a particular individual, family or group. Agreement is based on common aspirations, convictions, beliefs, values and principles. Disagreements can lead to break up of relationships, ego clashes, friction, stress, marred and foolish decisions taken in the heat of the moment during a conflict. Living and working together requires mutual agreement. If we submit the issues that cause disagreement between a couple or between parents and a child or between business partners to the Lord, He will help us iron out the differences and reach a godly or wise consensus. The story is told of a Tamil savant and thinker Thiruvalluvar who when asked to explain how to have a happy marriage, he took the questioner home for a meal. He told the wife when she brought warm rice why it was cold and she nodded in agreement. Again, when she gave them warm water to drink, he asked why it was cold. He then explained to him that agreement is needed for a happy marriage. It is not as if the wife is to be a door mat and suppress her own personality. She might not disagree in the presence of a third person but later confront him. This is the rare and exceptional kind of agreement which takes it to an extreme or absolute level. It does not mean that the wife has no sense of individuality or right to her own opinion that one of the partners in a marriage needs to swallow his or her pride and agree, even when something seems on the face of it –untrue or unacceptable. We can also disagree without being disagreeable for very often it is the accompanying emotions over even a petty disagreement that exacerbates matters. Another level of agreement that is realistic and practical is to agree on the basics and not expect agreement on secondary or non essential matters. This will ensure a modus vivendi or a peaceful way of living or working together while respecting the individual differences in characteristics, opinions, ideas, tastes and choices.
Our relationship with our Redeemer is compared to a walk together. The question is : are we walking away from Him or with Him? Are we walking close to Him to hear Him as we walk or are we walking at a distance? The emphasis in the new testament of being yoked together equally is that our common belief and commitment to Christ will keep or bind us together even when conflict and disagreement on other issues loom large. Yoking together also implies that we are agreed on the priorities, that we are moving in the same direction and not pulling in opposite directions. The relationship between Christ and the believer is likened to a marriage. Christ is the bridegroom, the head and the church is the body. A husband and wife cannot live together or do anything together unless they agree with each other. Walking together is an expression meaning knit together as one, to synchronise our steps with one another as soldiers march to the beat of a drum. We cannot live with God unless we agree with Him, agree with His word, agree with Jesus, agree with the Holy Spirit. We need to submit our wills to Him as He knows what is best for us, as He has complete knowledge of the totality of reality and not a partial knowledge that we as humans have. We need to submit our wills to Him as we can trust Him not to do anything that will permanently harm us. We might seem to have temporary setback or loss but it is permitted to enable us to have a greater experience and understanding of His grace, mercy, justice and love.
Praying over disagreements or the issues causing disagreement can help us often resolve the conflicts that arise in families and between couples. Mutual submission and respect underline the spirit of agreement and unity. The enemy knows our inner weak points and targets these so that we become powerless or ineffective. Strengthening the spiritual fencing of our inner life, our marriages, our homes, our relationships is something we need to do on a daily basis to prevent sudden ‘fox attacks’, emotional sabotages, flashes of temper, hot –headed arguments and such guerrilla tactics of the enemy. The book of Proverbs states that the best time to stop an argument is at the very beginning. The more we engage in angry or bitter argument, the more the damage like the first breach in a dam causes the damage to escalate more and more. Sometimes, we must also reach a point where when no consensus emerges, we agree to disagree if it is only a matter of opinion and no immediate decision needs to be taken. It means that we do not allow our disagreement on some issues to rock our marriages or disturb the peace of the home.
Prateep V Philip

Friday, January 12, 2018

Dealing with Opposition

UV 2883/10000 Dealing with Opposition
When mine enemies are turned back, they shall fall and perish at thy presence.
Psalm 9 v 3
Believers in Christ attract opposition, enemies, persecutors like fire attracts flies, honey attracts ants. We are hated just because of the One we believe in, what we believe in and stand for. The enemy of our souls will turn people even in our inner circle against us even as he turned Judas against Jesus. But we must be thankful for such opposition. We must be tolerant of such opposition. We should rest assured that our enemies will melt like wax in the presence of the Lord. We are not to retaliate in kind or in the same manner they attack us or accuse us. We are to leave them in the hands of God who is a righteous and just judge against whose judgement, decree, actions there is no appeal. That is why it is written in scripture that it is a deadly thing to fall into the hands of the Lord.
We are not only to be tolerant of our enemies and thankful for them but enjoy the challenge they pose to us. These challenges build our inner strength and endurance. But the Lord will not allow us to be tested beyond our strength to endure. He will surely deliver us and break through any barriers, nullify any weapons they aim at us. They will be turned back and scattered like the wind drives away smoke. The Lord will act powerfully on our behalf to redeem us from their conspiracies and plots. We are neither to be surprised, discouraged or disappointed at being surrounded by enemies in the flesh. God allowed a powerful Pharaoh and his army to rise against Moses and the Hebrew people in order to reveal His might, mercy, power, glory and grace. Every move of the enemy against His people only led to their defeat and destruction. The Hebrew slaves were given the promise that they would never see their Egyptian oppressors any more.
Jesus is either a stumbling stone, a stone that causes our enemies to stumble and fall on their own weight, at their own hands, into the very pit that they have dug or a climbing stone on which we can climb to safety and rescue. He is the Rock of our refuge and our escape. We ourselves should be gracious and forgiving when our foes approach us out of contrition. We heap coals of fire or judgement when we are kind and merciful to our enemies. The latter may draw satisfaction that they have thwarted our progress or plans but the Lord will surprise them by vindicating us with the end result. Our faith will increase, our love for the Lord will deepen as we experience His deliverance even as it caused David to rejoice and praise the Lord at his many battles, struggles and victories over innumerable foes including some from his own people and household.
Prateep V Philip

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Wells of Well Being

UV 2882/10000 Wells of Well Being
For all the wells which his father's servants had digged in the days of Abraham his father, the Philistines had stopped them, and filled them with earth.
Genesis 26 v 15
The Philistines in this uni-verse are the people of the world who envy the people of the word. The more the people of the word are blessed, the envy of the people of this world increases. The wells dug by his father Abraham were filled with mud by their enemies out of envy. Similarly, the enemy of our souls attempts to fill our wells of blessing with mud so that we cannot access it or drink or enjoy the blessings. Like Isaac, we should re-dig the wells of our blessings. We re-dig the wells of blessings by prayer, praise, thanksgiving, diligent study, meditation and application of the word.
Each promise or uni-verse is a well of blessing. The prophet Isaiah wrote that we should draw with joy the water or eternal truths needed for life and well being from these wells. Each uni-verse is a spring of everlasting blessing that will never dry up. But it can be blocked by our unbelief, by our sins, by the wilful acts of the enemy of our souls. The responsibility of digging hidden or buried truths is ours. We should be always alert and vigilant at this strategy of the enemy to cover our spiritual assets and prevent us from benefitting. Some of the blessings we enjoy are ancestral- due to the faith and obedience of our fathers or forefathers. Some are dug by us to pass on as a source of blessing to our heirs-physical and spiritual. The water in each well is unique and different suited for different purposes- some are useful to water the plants, some for the animals to drink, some are sweet water meant for human consumption. The water or word will be useful to bless, to heal, to quench thirst, to wash, to clean, to anoint, to cool, to refresh, to strengthen. Some wells dry up in famine while some are perennial. As we use the different wells, we flourish like a spiritual oasis of faith in the desert of human reason.
The Lord wants us to be like Joseph who was a fruitful bough whose branches overhang the walls of the well around which he was planted-meaning that he was the source of blessings to many in his generation and succeeding generations. He wants us not only to be consumers of blessings but producers. We are to be a fruitful vine around His table, yielding fruit worthy of the Lord that He can taste and enjoy. We will be able to produce fruit in all seasons and every month, nay every day of our lives. Like many people in this world, we may not be able to laugh all the way to the bank but like Isaac we can sit and laugh with joy on the banks of our wells, on the bank of the river of God that feeds our wells and be graceful, gracious and grateful like Isaac.
Prateep V Philip

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

The Joy behind Laughter

UV 2881/10000 The Joy behind Laughter
And Sarah said, God hath made me to laugh, so that all that hear will laugh with me.
Genesis 21 v 6
The Lord is not a joy killer but a joy giver. He has given us innumberable promises in the word so that our joy shall be full when we appropriate these promises. When our soul rejoices, our bodies laugh. Of course, there are several kinds of laughter. There is the laughter of disbelief for example when Sarah heard the promise that she would bear a son in her old age. There is the laughter of derision or mockery. There is also the laughter of joy, of having received that which we were promised and that which we believed. The joy causes laughter and the laugher causes joy. This is the laughter that is referred to in this uni-verse by Sarah. She who was barren was made to bear a child whom she named Isaac or “He made me laugh.” As the child grew, everything he did or said reminded Sarah to forget her former sorrow as well as present hardship and to laugh with joy in her inner soul.
Sorrows jerk tears from our eyes and deep within our souls while joy tickles us into frequent smile s and laughter. Jesus came to turn our tears into laughter. He Himself is called the Man of Sorrow and scripture never recorded anything to show that Jesus laughed though it is mentioned that Jesus wept. Doubtless, He must have smiled at children, smiled at the responses of the faithful for He was a born natural as well as a born supernatural. Today, Jesus wants us to celeberate our every victory with laughter and joy. He desires that we laugh again and again and again for as St Paul wrote, “Rejoice in the Lord always and again I say rejoice.” When Jesus reaches out from His present and eternal throne in heaven and touches our cheeks to wipe away a tear, the sorrow that caused it is removed, healed, forgotten. We can laugh at any trouble, any threat, any fear, any danger, any loss, any circumstance. Jesus does not want us to be downcast or depressed except when we experience godly sorrow over our own personal sins even after coming into His saving knowledge. The sorrow of the faithful causes Jesus to manifest Himself as He did with the two disciples on the road to Emmaus who were saddened by the happenings in Jerusalem surrounding the crucifixion of Jesus.
Like Sarah we need to rejoice again and again over all the answers to prayers we have received, all the blessings the Lord has sent our way even without our asking or imagining. Joy not sorrow should be the default mode of the average believer and follower of Jesus so that all who hear us, see us, converse with us would catch the holy and wholesome infection of the joie de vivre or the joy of living, the joy of being forgiven, the joy of forgiving, the joy of giving, the joy of receiving, the joy of serving and of being served, the joy of overcoming struggles and emerging victorious, the joy of healing and being healed, the joy of worship and fellowship. It is our default mode of being and feeling as only when we are joyful can we truly and fully worship, praise and thank the Lord without a divided heart. Like Isaac was the cause of laughter for his mother Sarah, we are to be someone else’s Isaac, causing them to laugh, not sorrow.
Prateep V Philip

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Visitations of the Lord

UV 2880/10000 Visitations of the Lord
And the LORD visited Sarah as he had said, and the LORD did unto Sarah as he had spoken.
Genesis 21 v 1

The Lord visits us as He has promised. He will do as He has said even as He did unto Sarah and Abraham. To “visit” is to look upon us with favour and to grant that which we need or asked for. Abraham and Sarah had not even asked for an heir or a son. Yet the Lord heard the cry of their heart and gave them what they lacked. He did not cause a full grown child to fall from heaven but caused Sarah’s dead womb to come alive. She went through the process of a normal pregnancy- conception to delivery. She had a period of waiting and a period of pregnancy or process. We all need to go through a spiritual waiting period and thereafter, a gestation period wherein the signs of that which we are hoping for are almost visible and palpable like the child in the womb of Sarah. In addition to positive or good visitations, there are visitations of the Lord to demonstrate His wrath, His judgement and to reward bad or evil intentions, actions or reactions as in the case of Ananias and Sapphira, as in the case of serpents killing many Israelites in the deserts of Egypt.
Before a physical manifestation of anything, there is a spiritual manifestation in the dimension of the spirit. It happens in the mind of God even as it occurred in His mind to bless the aged couple Abraham and Sarah with a child. It could be triggered by the silent cry of our hearts or a silent prayer or a prayer that is vocal. The cry or the prayer should be backed by faith or spiritual eyes to see the invisible, a spiritual mouth to call into being that which is not as if it is. Faith is the human capacity to receive the Lord and allow His grace to work in our inner being first before it is manifested in our external dimensions.
While human beings try to build a bridge over rivers or over problems and challenges, the Lord often tunnels through it. While He is tunnelling, we may not see the light at the end of the tunnel but if we wait out the process, we will come into the fullness of His light and grace. We all have like the ancient Israelites our little Red Seas and Jordans to cross. Instead of building bridges over these Red Seas and Jordans, the Lord moves along with us as He creates a tunnel through our great mountains, a bridge through the seas and rivers. The key thing is to invite the Lord to visit us, to show favour or grace and mercy to us.
Prateep V Philip

Monday, January 8, 2018

Remember Lot's Wife

UV 2879/10000 Remember Lot’s Wife
And it came to pass, when they had brought them forth abroad, that he said, Escape for thy life; look not behind thee, neither stay thou in all the plain; escape to the mountain, lest thou be consumed.
Genesis 19 v 17
Having been saved by grace through Jesus, we should only progress and not regress or look back. We cannot return to our former life of rebellion against God, our Creator and Maker. We cannot turn away from His love manifested through Jesus and His sacrificial life and death for the very journey of Christ on earth was sacrificial not just in His death. We cannot look back with regret on the pain, anguish, sufferings of our past or even on the comforts and pleasures of our past. Jesus has caught us on our hands and brought us out of Hades, out of curses, out of darkness into light. We should not for even a moment look back into the darkness of our past as Lot’s wife did. The poignant parallel of this uni-verse is contained in the three words of Jesus in the gospel of Luke, “Remember Lot’s wife.” We ought to learn from her example and not look back into our past. Like St Paul we need to look at our Christ-less lives as baggage and garbage of our past- be it our gains or losses, our achievements or failures, our strengths or weaknesses, our hopes or frustrations. The Lord has called us to be new creatures with a new forward-looking vision, new passion and a new sense of mission to save our souls, those of our near and dear as well as other fellow beings.
Lot’s family was saved by the intercession of Abraham, the intervention of angels. We have been saved by the intercession of many and the intervention of Jesus. He has led us into so great a salvation from so terrible a past, so horrible a death. Our eyes should focus on Him and His leadership and not on our petty squabbles, our ego struggles that drag us down and not move us toward our eternal destiny in Christ. We have escaped and taken shelter in Zion, God’s mountain. We have been asked to forsake the world and love the Word. We are warned never to look back wistfully at our past as if it would have been a greener pasture even as Lot’s wife wanted to steal one last look at the house, the possessions, the pleasures she enjoyed in the city of Sodom that was faced the brunt of the wrath of God for her ungodliness and abounding evil.
The Lord desires to lift our heads up and to cause us to turn away from the world. We need to heed His warning, obey His command explicitly and continually. We cannot allow ourselves slack or even a moment’s pause to neglect so great a salvation that has been wrought for us at such great cost. We need to value our “great escape” from eternal death and judgement. We should take neither godly admonition nor God’s mercy lightly. If we love the world, we will hate the Lord. If we love the Lord, we will hate the world. We cannot have a divided heart, divided mind or be double minded. The double- minded will not only not receive anything from the Lord but will loose what they already have. We cannot keep our feet in two boats- one in the boat of Jesus and another in the boat of the world. We are bound to fall in between.
Prateep V Philip

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Focus on Positive Continuities


UV 2878/10000 Focus on Positive Continuities
Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?
Matthew 6 v 25

Whatever we do continually, we will get good at it. If we worry, we will get good at it. If we meditate, we will get good at it. If we persist in doing good, we will get good at it. But the results or fruit of worrying are not good but highly negative, of no use to self or others. Worries choke or suffocate the fruitfulness of our faith and of our character and our very lives. The results or fruit of meditation are good and highly positive, of use to self and others. Jesus in this uni-verse is asking us to focus on the positive continuities of life or good habits. We need not worry about what we do not have, rather we need to think about what we can do with what we have. Focus on positive continuities will release the pure oxygen of hope to energise, sustain and move us into taking action here and now to improve things, to get a little closer to obtaining that which we need.

Food, clothes, shelter and transport are essential but these are not what constitutes the essense or purpose of life. If we focus continually on our relationship with God through Jesus, meditate on His word, do our best to imitate Him, the Lord will take care of our needs in more ways and in a better way than we can imagine. Jesus did not say, “Do not make plans for these creature comforts or work to get them.” He said that we should not waste our thoughts, time and energy on worrying about our lack or future lack in any of these essentials. By worrying or giving into anxious thoughts, we are not able to add an hour to our days or an year to our lives in the sense it is not going to make us more productive. By worrying, we are not going to grow intellectually, emotionally, physically or spiritually. Instead, Jesus encourages us to cast all these burdens on Him who cares for even the tiniest and least significant of His creatures and provides for them. The Lord God has a grand plan for each of His children who depend on Him. By praying and meditating on the word of the Lord, we will be inspired, motivated to work harder at realizing our goals, sustained by the hope that the Lord is partnering with us in all of our efforts and that He will bring it to perfection or completion of fruit or results. We need to worry about nothing but pray about everything with thanksgiving and faith and the assurance that our prayer will be answered, our need will be met in the Lord or by the Lord will envelop our hearts and minds exuding a peace that is beyond our human conception or understanding.

Therefore, we should meditate and aim on obtaining the spiritual equivalent or parallel of physical food, clothing, shelter, spiritual weapons and armour, riches, the treasures of wisdom hidden in His word- the kind that bacteria and moulds do not attack, the kind that moths do not destroy, the kind that rust and time cannot erode and that thieves cannot steal. When we are obsessed with these priorities of the kingdom of Jesus, we achieve the higher or primary purpose the Lord has both created and redeemed us for. The more we find and give away the spiritual victuals and provisions, the more blessed we are, the more we are a blessing to the world.
Prateep V Philip