Sunday, December 10, 2017

Seeking Mercy, Finding Shalom

UV 2850/10000 Seeking Mercy, Finding Shalom
Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need
Hebrews 4 v 16
Earthly powers and rulers make strict rules and arrangements for access control but the Lord God facilitates our easy access to Him through Jesus. The more the distance, the greater the awe, the sense of power and security for the ones in seats or positions of authority in this world. But, the Lord God in contrast revels in giving us easy and full access to His throne and presence. Since we have access to the Father through the Holy Spirit sent to us by the Son Jesus, we can enter the awesome presence of the Living God. He sits not on a throne of judgement and condemnation but the throne of grace. We cannot so enter boldly on the basis of our own righteousness but the borrowed glory and righteousness of Jesus. Jesus as a human on earth and as our High Priest and Advocate before the throne of Heaven gives us the confidence and trust to enter the presence of the Absolutely holy and absolutely powerful Almighty Father. The veil of flesh no longer bars our vision of the Father. We are able to commune with the Father and experience His mercy, love and grace.

Though our eyes do not perceive the Father or the Son or the Holy Spirit, our spirit senses the Triune God the moment we bow our heads in prayer, the times we listen and meditate on His word. We need to set aside a time for such daily communion and obtain mercy for our present shortcomings or failures and weaknesses. We glory in our weaknesses or infirmities where formerly we felt guilty and ashamed as the grace of the Lord will be at work in the areas and times of our greatest weakness. The Lord knows our need even before we have uttered or prayed a single word. But He needs a confession of our faith in Him to set in motion the forces and resources that are at His command.

Once we are in the presence of the Lord, first we obtain mercy for our shortcomings, wilful and unintended. Having obtained mercy by claiming the washing in the blood of Jesus for Jesus unlike other High Priests did not make a sacrifice of another creature but of Himself, we have peace or Shalom with the Father through the Holy Spirit. Shalom is a two sided coin with each side having many facets: peace on one side- peace with God, peace with self, peace with others and prosperity on the other- prosperity or well being of spirit, mind and body. Having obtained mercy, we can seek and find grace or His help and enablement in our area and time of need. Every deficit in our lives is an opportunity to obtain the amazing grace of the Lord, to experience the reality of God in real time and space.

Prateep V Philip

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Physical Vision Not Needed for Spiritual Provision

UV 2849/10000 Physical Vision Not Needed for Spiritual Provision
For thus saith the LORD, Ye shall not see wind, neither shall ye see rain; yet that valley shall be filled with water, that ye may drink, both ye, and your cattle, and your beasts
2 Kings 3 v 17

Physical vision is not needed for spiritual provision. Often, our overly emphasis on the need for physical evidences precludes the sighting and enjoyment of the spiritual provision. No wonder, Jesus told the doubting Apostle Thomas, “ You believe because you see Me. But, blessed are those who do not see and yet believe.” Water and consequently rain are the dire need of every creature and every human being that ever existed. Even if we do not see physical evidence or symptoms of the Lord’s power and grace, we can be sure that the Lord will provide for our deepest and dire need. In our valleys or depressions or famine of need, the Lord promises to provide to satisfy our greatest need. We should not rely on the weather report if we are expecting a miracle of abundance in the deep valleys of our need. We should wait with patient and praising expectation for the hand of the Lord to act. It is not a difficult thing for the Lord to enact a miracle, to command the elements of nature, the clouds to deliver abundantly that which we expect or need. In fact, He enacted a parallel miracle by filling the empty dry pits ordered to be dug out by the prophet Elijah and be filled with water. When Elijah looked to the Lord after making a sacrifice of meat, fire from heaven descended and consumed the meat, quenching or drying the water. Likewise, the sacrifice of Jesus was an absolute sacrifice for the absolution and to provide a basis for every solution that mankind needs in all of our valley days and experiences. No longer would the natural order or the laws of nature or even the laws of God or man predominate over the love of God, the mercy of the Lord manifested in the abundant provision of salvation for every individual who ever lived and will live.

The Lord can level out mighty mountains or obstacles and raise up deep valleys in our lives. In the high points or moments of our lives, we should be lowly or humble and dependent on the Lord and in the low points or moments of our lives, we should not be forlorn or feel helpless. The Word is the ultimate water the Lord provides for our deepest valley moments and experiences. It can take us from the miry pits of depression to the high points of eternal life in Christ and joy everlasting. The Lord’s Word is the chief causative factor in all that happens in our lives.

The Lord derives great satisfaction in seeing His children, His servants drink from the Water of life. The Water of Life that Jesus provides does not just satisfy our thirst in respect of every aspect of life but also refreshes and cleanses. He seeds the storm clouds as well as the barren clouds of our lives. We might not sense anything happening but from the background of the heavenly kingdom, He commands different seeded clouds to come our way. Our eyes should not be fixed on the clouds of blessings but on the Lord Jesus. He is so caring and compassionate that He provides not just for us but for our pets and animals, too.

Prateep V Philip

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Being a God Pleaser

UV 2848/10000 Being a God-Pleaser
For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.
Galatians 1 v 10

We are called to be God-pleasers not man-pleasers. With that in mind, we are to always work and live for the approval of the Lord and not try to be liked or popular with people. We can please God only if we obey Him sincerely from our hearts. He is the only one who knows and tests our hearts. He knows the motive behind every thought and intent of ours. If we are friends of the world, we become enemies of God and vice versa. Hence, being a servant of Christ does not improve our approval ratings. Rather, it would displease the people who are entrenched in this world for oil and water cannot mix. A servant of Christ is often mocked, ill treasted, oppressed even though he poses no threat to anybody and is endeavouring to be a blessing to this world in different ways.

If we win the favour of the Lord, we need not be overly concerned about whether peole like us or not. In fact, scripture promises that if we please the Lord, He wil eventually turn our enemies into friends. Having said that, we should be ready to face resistance, hostility and antagonism from the people of this world. As servants of Christ, we should be prepared to face such rejection even as the Lord Himself was rejected by His own people. Our focus is an Audience of One- the Lord. If He is with us and for us, no one can be permanently against us. He will deliver us from hostile situations and the weapons of those who are displeased with us. Contrarily, if He is not for us and with us, no one can deliver us.

The uni-verse implies that we should endeavour with all our hearts and all our strength to seek the perfect will of the Lord, not His permissive one and then go forth and do it. We need the help of the Holy Spirit to understand what is His perfect will in specific situations especially when we have more than one or two choices. We need to please Him not only with our decisions or choices but with our lifestyle, our speech or conversation, our actions, our behaviour. Indeed, “Who so offereth praise glorifieth God and to him who ordereth his conversation (and conduct) aright, will I show the salvation of God..” When we praise and worship the Lord in spirit and truth and in the beauty of a righteous life, He is pleased and He will endorse us by sending the dove-like presence of the Holy Spirit upon us, saying, “This is my beloved son or daughter.” When we order our conversation and conduct on the lines and according to the principles and precepts enshrined in the Word of God, we please Him and He will “show His salvation” implying that He will make manifest His saving power and grace in awesome ways in our lives. The more we resemble Jesus in all aspects of our lives, the more we please the Lord Almighty.

Prateep V Philip

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Pattern of Afflictions and Beautification of Lives

UV 2847/10000 Pattern of Afflictions and Beautification of Lives
O thou afflicted, tossed with tempest, and not comforted, behold, I will lay thy stones with fair colours, and lay thy foundations with sapphires
Isaiah 54 v 11

The key words in this uni-verse are afflicted, tempest, stones, foundations, sapphires. The key action words or verbs are tossed, comforted, lay. The uni-verse implies that afflictions are the way and methodology of the Lord from ancient times to now to shape each believer into precious stones like jasper, sapphires, onyx, topaz. All these stones were once ordinary stones but with the pressure, heat, cold, ravages of time, the ordinary rough stones are through a process of metamorphosis turned into amazingly beautiful and precious stones. It is the wisdom of God which is more precious than rubies and pure gold that makes possible this kind of remarkable personal transformation.

The echo verse of this uni-verse is in Revelation 21 v 19:” And the foundations of the wall of the city were garnished with all manner of precious stones. The first foundation was jasper; the second, sapphire; the third, a chalcedony; the fourth, an emerald;” The afflictions and the working of the Holy Spirit in the depth of our being affects the foundations of our lives. The twelve types of precious stones enumerated in Revelation that constitute the foundations of the walls of the Eternal City are metaphors for the twelve sons of Jacob and the twelve disciples of Jesus including Matthias who was chosen to replace Judas Iscariot. Every believer should allow the Lord to work on our hidden and deep foundations. Often, it involves a process of going through a furnace of afflictions to purify us of the dross of the world and of our own flesh or DNA or natural hubris. But in the end, the Lord promises to make all beautiful in His time that includes all of eternity.

When we are so “tossed with tempest”, we should hold onto our Rock –Jesus and we will be comforted by the Comforter, the Wonderful Counsellor and lifted up above the storms of life by Almighty God. Each of the twelve precious stones of Revelation chapter 21 has its unique traits and qualities symbolising the unique qualities of the image of God manifested in different believers and followers of Jesus. Through each the grace and wisdom of the Lord is manifested uniquely to produce different life histories and testimonies. But It is gratifying to note that the Lord choses to build the walls of the Eternal City on the lives and contributions of the believers. He so delights in us as a collector of precious stones would on seeing, feeling and experiencing the beauty of his stones. But unlike the collector’s pieces or stones, we are designed not just to be an ornament of the Lord but to play functional roles of strength and serve as foundations of the kingdom of God.

Prateep V Philip

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

The Lamp of God

UV 2123/10000 The Lamp of God
And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof
Revelation 21 v 23

The Lamb is the Lamp of God. Jesus being full of grace and truth Jesus, the Lamb of God outshines the sun and moon in His glory and holiness. He lights up the darkened minds, hearts and lives of all who believe in Him, trust and obey Him. The birth of Jesus marked a civilizational shift for humanity, great leap forward from darkness into ever increasing light till we find ourselves surrounded by the effulgence of His presence in heaven. It is true that men in all nations have sought and found meaning in lesser lights and pierced themselves with many sorrows.

The moment a person enters into a personal relationship with the Father, the Almighty through the agency of the blood of the Lamb that justifies or straightens our relationship with Him, he experiences the agape love of God. That becomes the starting point of his spiritual journey into truth, grace and the power of the Lord. The draw of the natural world keeps decreasing in its power to attract him. He begins to see everything in the light of the Lamb. He develops an entirely new and eternal perspective on all that happens to him. He recognizes that the sun and moon in their diurnal appearances and disappearances are only a reflection of the laws of the kingdom of God wherein the Lord Almighty has caused these mighty bodies to function in obedience to His covenant to rise and and set every single day as long as the planet exists. Likewise, the believer too needs to subject himself to the daily spiritual disciplines of the covenant- to pray, to worship, to meditate on His word, to fellowship with the Triune God and fellow beings united in faith.

The word “light” has in it the ingredients of our new life lit up by the Lamp of God- love, integrity, grace, happiness/holiness and truth. The love of Christ, the integrity or righteousness or a life based on biblical principles and precepts, grace or experiencing the power and enablement of the Lord in life’s most difficult and impossible situations as well as in daily routine, happiness/ holiness or pure joy of Christ that comes from being right with God and doing the right thing and a life of commitment to the truth. When our lives are ruled by these aspects or eternal rays of the Lamp of God, we are qualified to reign with Him. Our bodies become His living temple, His light fills our lives with power, strength and glory. Where we fall short of His glory, His love and grace fills the gaps.

Prateep V Philip

Monday, December 4, 2017

Pattern of Change of Motive, Behaviour and Single-Mindedness

UV 2845/10000 Pattern of Change of Motive and Single-Mindedness
And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven:
Acts 9 v 3
The story of Saul, the killer and chief persecutor being transformed into St Paul, the chief of the post-Resurrection apostles gives us an idea how when a person’s motive changes, his thoughts,his goals, his behaviour, his communication changes. The light from heaven – Jesus shone more brightly than the sun upon and around him, first blinding him, then leading to the dropping of the scales that blinded him to the Way, the Truth and the Life that is Jesus. His purpose and mission in coming to Damascus had changed. He now became a deliberately chosen instrument of God to make known the good news of salvation to Israel and to the Gentiles. The change of the first letter of his name signified this total transformation of his purpose, his motive, his mission, his vision, his character and conduct. Instead of hatred, love for the believers in Christ and indeed for all mankind filled his heart.
St Paul’s former Jewish bigotry changed to complete faith in Jesus. So much so, he could correct the compromising trend of senior apostles like Peter who continued to insist on circumcision as a concession to the Jewish faith. His zeal for the Jewish faith turned to passion for Christ and His message of hope for all mankind. St Paul in contrition for his past referred to himself as the chiefest of sinners while he had actually become one of the foremost influencers for the gospel in the then known world as now. We too need to experience this kind of Pauline metamorphosis so that we are blinded to the world and our eyes open to behold the wonders of “the light from heaven.” Our motive to work,live and exist has to change and everything else will follow and flow from that.
The chief virtue of St Paul was his single-mindedness and his wholeheartedness. When he persecuted the early disciples and followers of Jesus, he was single-minded and when he became a disciple of Jesus, he showed the same single-mindedness in living, teaching, leading and discipling people from different nations. While earlier he travelled only as far as hatred could take him to nearby Damascus, he now took to extensive travels and tours to European continent, the Greek isles and Asia Minor. While earlier he travelled and did things on the authority of the priests of the Jewish faith, now he was commissioned and anointed with the Holy Spirit by the Lord Himself. Even in our lives, if our motives change by the grace and light of Jesus, our lives, our impact and our results will dramatically change.
Prateep V Philip

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Pattern of Consistency of Character, Conduct and Conversation

UV 2844/10000 Pattern of Consistency of Character and Conversation
Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel
Philippians 1 v 27
The key words and phrases in this uni-verse are conversation, gospel, stand fast, striving together, one mind, faith. The actionable words are “stand fast.” We are as believers in Christ called to live a life worthy of the gospel. We are to “ go spell it out in the way we live.” Our conversation should be truthful, wholesome, edifying or benefitting the listeners. Our character and conduct should be a reflection of the love of Christ. The echo verse of this uni-verse is Colossians 1 v 10: “That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of the Lord.” Every step we take, every word we speak should not be unworthy of the Lord, rather it should bring honour and glory to His name. As we increase in our knowledge of the Lord and His word, we should be spiritually more mature and bear more of the fruit of the spirit- of love, joy and peace.
Word of our character and conduct is bound to spread to the world either as a stench or as a fragrance. We should be careful it is not a stench but that it spreads the fragrance of the gospel. The gospel is otherwise called good news, not without reason – it implies that good should come from all directions, good thoughts, good feelings, good motives, good experiences- from inside us, from above us, from around us. Our reputation is our non verbal testimony which is evidence of the truth and power of the gospel to change human lives.
We are to be firm in our faith and united in our spirit. We are yoked to the Spirit of God and to each other as we strive or do our best to present the gospel of Christ to the world. It is a light plough He has placed on our shoulders to pull. As a plough softens and tears the soil in order to plant the seed, our lives and words are to soften the souls. hearts and minds of our listeners to hear and believe the truths that we speak and that we live by. Contradictions and gaps between our beliefs and our words and our conduct or character as well as conflicts among us will make our listeners and observors question our faith and harden their hearts and minds against the hope we try to bring into the lives of people we share our faith with. Consistency in character and conversation, sensitivity to feelings and creativity in methods add to the efficacy of our communication of the love of Christ to the world.

Prateep V Philip