Sunday, August 20, 2017

The Beautiful Lamp

UV 2752/10000 The Beautiful Lamp
Command the children of Israel, that they bring unto thee pure oil olive beaten for the light, to cause the lamps to burn continually.
Leviticus 24 v 2
Believers in Jesus are to be like a beautiful lamp that burns continually. The beauty lies not in its external ornate features but in the content of the oil that fuels the lamp The oil that fuels this lamp is like pure virgin olive oil that is obtained by crushing, beating and draining olives. Through all our experiences of the Lord’s mercy, grace and power and by studying and following the life and teachings of Jesus, we shed the light of His truth in this dark world. We are the lamp that turns the world from darkness to light, from being governed by the power of satan to the power of God, the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of light, from death to eternal life that men may receive forgiveness of sins and inheritance among them that are sanctified by faith in Jesus.
It is a command to keep ourselves well stocked with pure olive oil for the lamp of life. The sparks of love, integrity, faith and excellence that we have displayed this far should be fanned into full flame as we witness for Christ. We are to be like the five wise maidens who stayed awake and trimmed their lamps and kept the wicks moist with oil and burning. We are not to be caught unawares when the Eternal Bridegroom, the Son of the Landlord of the universe, the Crown Prince of heaven arrives after the midnight hour. Our faith, our intake of the Word of God, our fellowship or communication with the Holy Spirit should never be interrupted by sin, doubt, complacency or backsliding. Like the wick in a lamp sucks the pure olive oil by capillary action or suction power, we need to suck the pure and unadulterated wisdom, knowledge and understanding from the Word.
The lamp in the Tabernacle of Israel was never extinguished but was kept burning through the night. Likewise, the anointing of the Holy Spirit should keep us burning all through our lives, through changes in circumstances, through difficulties, crisis and challenges. Sometimes, we endure crushing situations, situations when we are buffeted or beaten by hard blows of seeming misfortune. It is intended to crush, beat and drain the pure olive oil of faith, love and hope in our lives. We should not resent these events but welcome these as part of the process to refine, prune, perfect us, to build patience in us so that we will endure till our rendezvous with Jesus. We are to shine forth for the glory of God, to manifest the greatness of the Lord with full flame, day and night, all of our lives.

Prateep V Philip

Friday, August 18, 2017

Maturity and Perfection

UV 2750/10000 Maturity and Perfection
Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus:
Colossians 1 v 28
The role of the believer or follower of Jesus is like that of a spiritual watchman to warn the contemporary generation of the consequences of sin or being unable to connect with the Creator-Redeemer. It is also to teach and build the faith and knowledge of fellow believers so that they will be established and rooted in Christ in order to bear fruit for Him. We are to teach with all wisdom and gentleness of spirit, not lording it over others but having the attitude of a servant that Christ manifested in all His dealings with people. The ultimate goal is to present every person perfect or mature in Christ.
As spiritual watchmen or teachers, we are judged by even more stricter standards than others. Hence, we should constantly check ourselves against the mirror and the plumb line of His word. If there are any attitudes that need correction, we should do so as soon as we are made aware of it by the Holy Spirit. We are to allow the Holy Spirit to examine our spiritual health every single day like a physician who checks all the parameters of our physical health. We also need to accept His diagnosis and follow diligently whatever He prescribes even as a patient is careful to do precisely what his doctor had advised him to do.
Jesus said,”Be perfect as my Father in Heaven is perfect. “ He did not say, “Pursue perfection” as if it is a distant unattainable goal. He did not say, “ Become perfect” or “Try to be perfect”. He said, “Be perfect..” In other words, by being grafted with Jesus, we are already perfect. WE are to now maintain our being in perfection and grow in perfection and maturity to the very stature of Christ. Maturity implies that we gain enough knowledge and strength in Christ that we do not allow anything to disturb this perfection in Christ that we are anointed with by faith. There are three aspects to this teaching of Jesus that encompasses the purpose of perfection, the means of perfection and the power or the grace to be perfect in Christ: one, that we need to be perfect to reflect the character of the Father in us since we are His children. Second, that we need to model our homes, our relationships, our communication, our lifestyle and our work style on what we have seen and heard of the Father, the Son Jesus and the Holy Spirit. Third, we cannot strive to be perfect on our own. We need to constantly seek the help of the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit to be perfect and mature in Christ. The Father encourages us with His word, the Holy Spirit produces the fruit of godly character of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness and humility in us, Jesus teaches us with His parables, His teachings, His commands, His miracles, His touch, His presence, His example and the institution of the communion where we partake of the manna and wine of heaven. Having learnt from Jesus and learnt of Him, we then have a duty to pass on the teachings faithfully like a runner passes on the baton to the next runner. There are a host of challenges or threats to perfection in Christ: the world and its pressures as well as pleasures, circumstances, false teachings, our own unstable emotions, a wrong order of priorities.

Prateep V Philip

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

The Daily Touch

UV 2749/10000 The Daily Touch
But Jesus turned him about, and when he saw her, he said, Daughter, be of good comfort; thy faith hath made thee whole. And the woman was made whole from that hour.
Matthew 9 v 22

In the space of three simple verses, Matthew records the only instance of a non-volitional miracle of healing being triggered by the woman touching the hem of the robe of Jesus. Her faith that by merely touching Jesus, she could be healed mixed with the words of Jesus, “ Thy faith has made thee whole”, wrought the healing of a chronic disease that had affected her for twelve years- the issue of blood. She could not approach Jesus and ask upfront that she be healed as a stigma was attached with her disease and she did not wish to make it known publicly that she had this affliction.
The woman with the chronic disease could see Jesus and try to touch Him. But since we can no longer see Him, we should ask that He touches us and so make us whole. Jesus used the word, “your faith has made you whole” and not “ well” as the touch of Jesus is enough to make our lives whole or complete in every sense, spiritual, intellectual, psychological, emotional, physical and social. If the touch of Jesus in the first century produced instant and complete healing, it can do so even today in our age and time. Like the woman, we need to have a seeking heart. She sought Jesus sincerely with all of her heart, unmindful of the pressing crowd that kept her from seeing Him face to face. She therefore, received the good news of being “made whole”. But oftentimes, a seeking heart should also be accompanied by a waiting heart in case the healing or deliverance is not instantaneous and takes time to manifest. There might be some issues in our lives that need the touch of Jesus and we have been waiting for years to receive His healing touch and His words of comfort and deliverance. We need to pray, “ Lord, give me your daily touch.” With the touch, He gives us His daily word of the good news of being made whole.
It is faith that makes our lives complete and whole. It is the “f “ in the word “life”, without which life would be a lie. The woman had come seeking Jesus in anguish but she could leave His presence with comfort, peace and joy. We cannot leave the presence of Jesus untouched or unchanged. He makes us complete even as the bridegroom completes the bride. Faith in Jesus has a holistic impact on our lives. He is concerned with our total being and our total well being. Whenever He saw people lacking something they need to complete their joy, He supplied it. When He saw them hungry, He gave them food. When He sees people without purpose, meaning or power in life, He gives them the sense of purpose, meaning and power.

Prateep V Philip

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

True Leadership

UV 2748/10000 True Leadership
And the LORD shall make thee the head, and not the tail; and thou shalt be above only, and thou shalt not be beneath; if that thou hearken unto the commandments of the LORD thy God, which I command thee this day, to observe and to do them:
Deuteronomy 28 v 13
Only a true follower of God can be a true leader of men. Those who follow their own wisdom, their own ambitions or other people are blinded by ignorance, pride, arrogance, vanity, folly, greed and the like. A true follower of God listens to the commands of the Lord to love the Lord with all his heart and all his mind and all his strength. He diligently studies, understands and remembers the principles embedded in the word of God. He is not guided by divisive human ideologies of the left or the right. He has a clear vision, a sense of focus and priorities. He uses all the gifts, talents and resources he has been given to accomplish his task. He occupies the strategic heights so that he can maximise his influence and impact on people and organisations. He is not deterred by difficult or tough circumstances but keeps moving on with faith and confidence in the Lord.
Headship or leadership is promised to the true follower of Christ. He is meant to lead, influence, serve. He will be listened to. He is lifted above the level of politics of nations. He is not motivated by ideas of self glory or grandeur. He puts into practice the precepts of life taught by Jesus. He emulates the example of Jesus in all things. He knows he can do nothing on his own and all things by the grace of Christ. He recognizes that His power flows from anointing and not from appointment. He is bold, brave and confident by the power of the Holy Spirit. His communication and conversation are pleasing to the Lord.
The true follower of Christ is a constant learner. He is growing in his knowledge of Christ and of His love. The wise men followed the star over the manger in Bethlehem while the wise followers of Jesus follow Him, the star of history, the star of the kingdom of God on earth and in heaven. He does not merely observe and understand what is written in the Word but He is a doer. He implicitly and explicitly obeys the Lord. He corrects his own personal flaws as he sees it in the mirror of the Word. If he lacks wisdom or strength, He asks with faith and obtains it from His leader and King. He is not interested in the loaves and fishes of office. He focuses his attention on pleasing the Lord and winning the eternal prize, the wreath of victory that will not fade with time.
Prateep V Philip

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Get Better or Get Worse

UV 2747/10000 Get Better or Get Worse
No man putteth a piece of new cloth unto an old garment, for that which is put in to fill it up taketh from the garment, and the rent is made worse
Matthew 9 v 16
We cannot live the new life in Christ with our old heart attitudes, traditions, habits and ways of doing things. Salvation is not a patch work- a mix of the old and new but it is a complete new set of clothes, a new set of armour. If we mix our new beliefs with old attitudes, it will amount to incongruity, inconsistency and unsustainability in our lives. There will be a gap between our beliefs, our expression of it and our practice. If we mix our old emotional patterns with our new faith in Christ, we become worse than before. We need to get rid completely of old baggage and old bondage of our past. We cannot hold onto some things from our past and add them to the new covenant faith.
The Father has given us a new set of clothes of salvation purchased with the blood of His Son. It needs to be kept as white as snow, spotless, blemishless, free from wrinkles and free from damage. Like the father in the parable of the prodigal son, He has cast our old clothes away in the fire and given us new robes of salvation, new authority of being His signet ring, new shoes of readiness to go places for Him. He has called us to a feast of celebration on our return to our home where new wine from new wine bags will be served. No more are we to have anything to do with the old yeast of insincerity, hypocrisy or duplicity. We cannot return to our old prodigal ways of rebelling against the Father’s authority, rejecting His love and His grace, relying on our own wisdom and attempting to seek our own fortune. We should also not patch on the attitude of the older more responsible, obedient, loyal but self righteous brother. We are to be penitent, responsible and ever humble, knowing that it is only grace that made the Father accept us back home again and not anything that we did or can do in this world.
The redemption of our destiny should be accompanied by the redemption or transformation of our character. The old self or old man should die and the new creature should live. If we do not address our old attitudes with the help of the Holy Spirit, we will be like guests who come to the wedding feast of the Lamb inappropriately dressed or dressed in patchwork clothes or in rags. Our new beliefs should trigger new attitudes, new ways of thinking, behaving and acting or reacting. Our new covenant relationship with the Father should change us for the better both on the inside and on the outside. Our communication and behaviour on the outside should reflect the inner change. The uni-verse warns us that having tasted the grace and mercy of God in Christ, if we are not getting better, we are in danger of getting worse for “the rent is made worse”.

Prateep V Philip

He Should Increase

UV 2746/10000 He Should Increase
He said, I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord, as said the prophet Esaias
John 1 v 23
Repentance precedes salvation. John, the Baptist came ahead of Jesus to prepare people to repent of their sins. We too need to prepare for salvation by repenting of our sins. John was the forerunner to herald the Saviour Jesus. Repentance is the forerunner of salvation. Whatever we are seeking deliverance from, we need to first repent and commit to turn from that crooked way. Though salvation is a free gift, repentance and a clean break with that aspect of our past for which we repent goes ahead and follows redemption.

The way of the Lord is straight and if our way is crooked – then there is a mismatch between what we believe and what we live. We need to appropriate grace or strength from the Lord to overcome our weakness and make our paths straight. Every valley of defeat in our lives should be filled. Every rough patch made smooth. Every mountain and hill of pride and lust that we fed in the past must be eroded and brought to the level of even ground on which we can walk. We must bend our disobedient hearts to listen and obey the wisdom of the Just one – Jesus through the offices of the Holy Spirit.

Salvation therefore implies a commitment to learn, grow and change to conform to the image of Christ in us. John, the Baptist compared himself to Jesus and felt that he was unfit even to tie the sandals on the feet of Jesus. Jesus hailed John as the greatest among those born of women and yet he was lesser than the least in the kingdom of God. Where does that leave us? We should always pray and follow the precept of John, the Baptist who compared himself to the role of the best man in the wedding. He said, “ He should increase and I should decrease. It meant not just the prominence of Jesus should increase vis -a -vis John but that the character of Jesus should increase in us and our own egos, pride, desires, ambitions should decrease and eventually die, the love for Jesus and of Jesus should increase and our love for ourselves and the world should decrease. The measure of the grace and truth of Jesus increases in us to the proportion that sin, self, lust, pride, ego, conceit, ambition in us decreases. We cannot pour anything into a cup that is full. Hence, we should be constantly emptying ourselves so that the Lord fills it with the outpouring of His spirit.

Prateep V Philip

Friday, August 11, 2017

Manifestation - A Cause for Reflection and Celebration

UV 2745/10000 Manifestation –A Cause for Reflection and Celebration
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
John 1 v 1
One thinker had said it is impossible to define God. But Jesus is defined or identified by John as the Word who was with God and was the same as God. The Father defined Himself as “I am who I am.” One of the implications is that God can and does manifest Himself as the need arises or in accordance with His sovereign will. He manifested Himself to the nascent Israelite nation in the desert as a cloud by day and a fire by night which implies He covers the entire range of options to manifest His being from cool to red hot, from the soft vapour of a cloud to the fiery flames of the fire. Even today, in a twenty four hour walk with God, we can experience a soft and gentle manifestation of His presence or a fierce and powerful manifestation. The Holy Spirit, the third person of the Triune God is defined as the Comforter and Remembrancer. He is also the Enabler. He enables us to remember and understand and apply the Word in the context of our world.
Jesus also described Himself in seven different ways: the Way, the Truth and the Life, the Resurrection, the Good Shepherd, the True Vine, the Door, the Bread of Life, the Light of the world. He is certainly the most enigmatic personality of history for He is both Lamb of God and Lion, sacrificial lamb and Almighty Shepherd, Judge and Saviour, all conquering hero and gentle Messiah. He deliberately did not define that He is the way to a particular goal. He left it open ended. It implies that He is the way to God, salvation, joy, victory, service, liberty, truth, healing, deliverance, blessing, forgiveness, power, wisdom, grace and mercy. In all these much needed dimensions of life, He is the Word of truth, judgement, healing, deliverance, eternal life, wisdom, blessing, provision, promotion, protection, restoration, guidance, correction, hope, fulfilment, vindication, upliftment, enablement, conviction, empowerment, encouragement. He is the cause and source of the beginning, sustenance, continuity and fulfilment of life.

Jesus is the Word that was, that is and is to be. All time or all tenses converge in Him. History finds its focal point in Him. He is also described as the Lord Amen in the book of Revelation or the One who causes all prayers to be heard and answered. The versatile manifestations of the Lord means that our relationship with Him has many dynamics. Every day with Jesus is different, every experience and testimony or encounter of His manifestation. Every time and every way He manifests Himself in our lives, we need to genuflect, reflect and celebrate. It is our “ Emmaus moment” to discover another hitherto unknown or unrecognized aspect, another appearance or manifestation of Jesus in our lives.

Prateep V Philip