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

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Causes of Spiritual Grief


UV 2297/10000 Causes of Spiritual Grief
And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.
Ephesians 4 v 30
When we by faith invite Jesus to dwell in our hearts, the Holy Spirit is sent to seal our bodies, minds and spirits. Christ in us does the work of wisdom, righteousness, sanctification and redemption through the third person of the Trinity- the Holy Spirit. When we err in our hearts deliberately, wantonly and repeatedly without repentance, we grieve the gentle Holy Spirit. He is a person, not an “it”. He has feelings, very intense feelings. In fact, the word used in the uni-verse is the extreme form of sadness or sorrow- grief as one mourns at the death of a loved one. He rejoices intensely when we listen to Him, yield to His promptings, whispers, prodding, counsel, reminders and comfort even as He grieves when we do the contrary. He grieves for there is no more opportunity for redemption and sanctification than the one presented in the sacrifice and resurrection of Jesus. We err in our hearts when we engage in bitterness, rage, disputes, arguments, conflicts, verbal abuse, gossip, lying and so on, even after we are declared redeemed by our faith, called ‘born again’ and yet return often to our primal pre-saved nature.

We also grieve the Holy Spirit when we resist His word of direction and leadership in our lives. When we yield to our own deceitful sensual lusts that emerge from our old pre-Christ nature, we hurt the Spirit of God. When we give up our quest to be like Christ, we grieve the Holy Spirit. We should not give place or even a foothold or toehold to the enemy of our souls. Eve grieved the Spirit of God by listening to the words of the crafty one. She was deluded into believing that if Adam and she ate of the forbidden by God, they would be like God and live forever. In so doing, they obtained the opposite result- they lost eternity. They broke faith with their Creator. The enemy got a foothold in the heart and mind of man. The rest is history. The Holy Spirit grieves over the loss of peace, loss of joy, the pain and needless suffering we bring on ourselves by our obstinate unlearning, unbending nature.

When we disbelieve the promises of God and take things into our own hands, we grieve the Holy Spirit. Abraham and Sarah took things into their own hands when they decided to procure a son and heir through the servant Hagar, disbelieving that God is faithful to his promise and can do the impossible. When we become impatient and rely on our own strength, wisdom and resources, we grieve the Holy Spirit. When we do not wait for God to turn up and fulfil His promise, we grieve the Holy Spirit. When we grumble and mutter under our breath like the ancient Israelites out of slavery and in transition to freedom in their promised land, we grieve the Holy Spirit. When we do not discern the spirits and assume that every voice we hear is from the Lord, we grieve the Holy Spirit. Knowing the word and the ways of God described in it, we depart from the word and His ways. Knowing that we have been redeemed by the blood of the Lamb of God, we take to religion and man made custom, ceremonies and rituals to justify ourselves- this grieves the Lord that for such as these Christ died on the cross in vain. The good thing is that the opposite of all these types of behaviour pleases the Holy Spirit and causes Him to rejoice. Our spiritual failures and rebellions are not fatal or final and we have every opportunity to make amends.

Prateep V Philip

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Attitude of Love Matrix Meter(c)


UV 2296/10000 The Love or Attitude Matrix Meter
But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:
Ephesians 4 v 15
The uni-verse gives the golden rule of speech: to speak the truth in a spirit or with an attitude of love. We should share and expound scripture or the word with a sense of commitment to the listener, to build up his or her faith, hope and strength. In order to do that we need to always ask ourselves and discern in the spirit the real and deep needs of the listeners. Our words should benefit or encourage the listeners so that we as well as they grow degree by degree, day by day to the very stature of Christ.

Christ is our living leader and redeemer. We need to focus on imitating His character and actions in our lives. We need to imitate His manner of speaking. We need to imitate the decision making process He adopted to take informed decisions. We need to grow little by little in all aspects of our lives. Our lives should be freed from grudges, resentment and bitterness which could interfere with our spiritual effectiveness. We should be prone to help others and not harm. We need to subject our tongues to the control and leading of the Holy Spirit.
For both love and growth, we need the I Corinthians Chapter 13 love checklist to see if we are truly loving and surely growing. We can chalk out an attitude matrix or pattern to conform to by drawing a vertical line down a sheet of paper. On the right we need to right the positive love parameters that we should follow and on the left of the line the negatives we should avoid like not keeping a record of wrongs. Every day, at the end of the day, we should give ourselves a score based on the extent to which we followed the positive parameters and avoided the negatives. As we read, study and understand scripture we can add more positive parameters of speech, attitude and behaviour and more negatives to avoid. We can measure our growth in all things to the headship of Christ by checking ourselves against this attitude matrix meter. Apart from avoiding bitterness and fleeing from evil, we need to eliminate jealousy and pride in our lives. Speaking in anger or with abusive and harsh tone and language does not add up to the glory of the Lord. The attitude matrix meter would look something like this:
Negatives to avoid or flee from Positives to follow, to do:

Not angry Gentle

Not vengeful Patient
Not bitter or keeping a record of Kind
Wrongs
Does not boast Hopeful
Not rude Faithful

Not delight in evil Forgiving
Always protects, nurtures,
Trusts
Perseveres in love

NB: One can improvise on this checklist, giving oneself either one mark or ten marks for each parameter complied with on the positive as well as the negative sides.
Prateep V Philip

Friday, June 16, 2017

Sovereign Choice


UV 2296/10000 Sovereign Choice
For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might shew my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth.
Romans 9 v 17

The Lord in His sovereignty chooses whom He should show grace and mercy and whose heart He should allow to harden against the Lord. The latter might be an oppressive wind to the former or the believers but the Lord will send His wind of grace and mercy at the time they face oppression. The Lord raised Pharaoh to be a great worldly power but He also used Pharaoh to bestow a position of great responsibility, power and privilege upon a Jewish slave- Joseph. Egypt under Pharaoh was the world’s super power but the Lord raised the son of Jewish slaves- Moses in the house of Pharaoh. Even today, He might harden the hearts of powerful people against us but at the time of such oppressive wind blowing upon us, He will blow a favourable wind over us.

The purpose and plan of the Lord is to reveal or manifest His glory in our midst. He takes us from the pit and puts us in the cockpit. The Lord allowed Nebuchadnezzar, the emperor of Babylon to become a great power but He used the exile Daniel to extract praise and a testimony from the mouth of the proud king. The power of faith and of the Lord are best demonstrated against a background of heavy odds or adverse circumstances. Our reliance should not be on “Pharaoh” or worldly powers but upon the mercy and grace of the Lord. The might of Pharaoh perished with ancient Egypt but the testimony of the power, mercy and grace of the Lord remains with us.

IF we align our life’s purpose with the plan and purpose of the Lord, we too will leave behind a legacy of our faith. If we struggle against such a plan and purpose, we suffer the consequences and the pain. In many of the events of our lives, we see that the Lord allows powerful persons to persecute us but out of the persecution, we will see His hand of deliverance. His objective is that the story of our deliverance from such powerful forces will add to the glory of the Lord. He can and does turn around any situation back on its head but while we are waiting, we need to be faithful, patient, expectant and grateful. Why did God choose Abel over Cain, Jacob over Esau, Joseph over his brothers, Moses out of the rest of enslaved Israel or out of his family, you and me over the rest of the world: the answer is – the Lord has mercy on whom He chooses. It is not for us to question, doubt or dispute. When our destination is God, our destiny is God-shaped and directed. Between start and finish of history or story of any individual, there are many detours. We might even wonder how life is shaping up. But, the stories in which God plays a role has the best endings.

Prateep V Philip

Thursday, June 15, 2017

The Sifting Process of Life


UV 2295/10000 The Sifting Process of Life
For, lo, I will command, and I will sift the house of Israel among all nations, like as corn is sifted in a sieve, yet shall not the least grain fall upon the earth
Amos 9 v 9

The believers are often compared to the grain. The whole process of life is meant to sift us. The various experiences and situations of life that are often beyond our control or anticipation are the sieves the Lord uses to refine us and to separate the chaff from the grain. The qualities of the Father and the Son Jesus need to be ingrained in us. The enemy of our soul has planted the weeds or tares in us and in our midst. The Lord, therefore, sifts us like grain to bring out our best in good times and bad times. If we are faithful, in good times we praise the Lord. In bad or difficult times, we pray and praise even more. In difficulties, we walk the closest to the Lord and abide deeply in Him. In impossible situations, we are carried by Him as He carried Israel out of Egyptian captivity. He carries us by the pinions even as a mother eagle carries its young.

We need to pass our thoughts, desires, emotions through many sieves in order to be the fine grain the Lord desires us to be. The Word is certainly the most effective sieve that we always have access to. It teaches us to be careful and thoughtful in our speech. It teaches us to be wise in our choices. It teaches us to be diligent and to exercise self control. All the patterns of our thoughts, our speech and behaviour should conform to the character of the Lord as revealed in the Word. When we willingly submit to the sifting process, we are being God fearing and wise. It saves us a lot of needless pain and suffering. We should continually check if there is any chaff in our thoughts, words and actions and take steps to have it blown away. It requires to be ruthless and unequivocal with whatever is not God-pleasing in our lives. Our life’s success is to be determined not by how much happiness we have obtained but by how useful and obedient we have been to the revealed will of the Lord.

In many places, scripture refers to the Lord as a refiner who refines the crude ore in the smelting furnace. All of our life’s experiences in this perspective, the painful ones and the more welcome pleasant ones are intended to refine us. Nothing is wasted. Not even the least grain will fall to the ground. Everything is accounted. The difficulty is that unlike the inert grain, we have wills of our own and often we try to move away from the disciplining, refining, perfecting ways of the Lord. When we interpret life as the pursuit of happiness and pleasure, inevitably we tend to resent anything that prunes us or causes us pain. We end up like Jacob fighting and wrestling with the will of the Lord. As a result, the purification of mankind, collectively and individually pose a more exacting and challenging work for the Lord than the whole work of creation of the universe.

Prateep V Philip

Sunday, June 11, 2017

A Tale of Two Captivities


UV 2294/10000 A Tale of Two Captivities
But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members
Romans 7 v 23

There are two laws or two forces working in each of us: the law of satan, sin and death and the law of the spirit of God, eternal life and righteousness. The first pays its wages in terms of captivity to the enemy of our souls, death and the bonus in terms of diseases and curses. The second pays its wages in terms of eternal life, freedom, blessings. The first is at work in all members of our bodies and minds. It is at work in our thoughts, our imagination, our desires, our feelings, our relationships, our workplaces and our homes. The two forces are at war with each other all through life. When we believe the message of Jesus and accept Him as the medium of our salvation, we receive freedom from captivity of the enemy of our souls. We have the freedom of choice for the first time in our lives to submit our members willingly to the Holy Spirit or to the evil one: our minds, our tongues, our emotions, our hands and legs, our sexual organs, our eyes, our ears. The victorious and mature believer, realizing the blessings of such spiritual freedom and the limitations of bondage, makes it a consistent habit of submitting all to the Holy Spirit.

As we submit the various members of our being to Christ, He saves each member. The fruit or end result of sin is death while the fruit of willing submission to Christ is eternal life and its accompanying fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, humility and self control. Even as formerly, we yielded our members to the law of sin fully and wholly, we need to now yield the various parts of our being to be instruments of righteousness, to be instruments of the kingdom of God in us and around us. There is no compromise or half way point. We need to take every thought, feeling, desire, word, action and reaction captive to Christ. To take each thought captive to Christ implies setting it truly free from sin, from the influence of the evil one, from the linkages to the past, to set it free from fear of death, disease, curses, failure, inhibitions and limitations.

We need to examine each overt part of our bodies and the hidden functions of our minds and emotions and check if these are not operating under the law of sin and death but under the law of eternal life and freedom. If any part is ensnared by the enemy, knowingly or unwittingly, it is time to use all the grace and power at our disposal to set it free. There are various lusts of the flesh, the eye and pride or ego that war against the spirit in our minds and bodies. The weapons we use to set our members free from these lusts or illegitimate desires are not carnal or of the flesh but of the spirit- the knowledge and diligent and faithful application of the word, prayer, repentance, confession, praise, worship and thanksgiving. The process through which our members are set free from the law of sin is called discipleship.

Prateep V Philip

Friday, June 9, 2017

Clay Versus Rock Foundations


UV 2293/10000 Clay Versus Rock Foundations
The law of his God is in his heart; none of his steps shall slide.
Psalm 37 v 31

The foundations of any building or structure is its most vital part. For a human being, our feet are like the foundations. The feet are symbolic of our basic beliefs, values and principles that govern and guide our lives in its various dimensions. In Nebuchadnezzar’s dream of the glorious statue that started with precious stones and metals adorning the head but when it came down to the feet of that statue, it had feet partly of clay. The feet of clay are symbols of weak foundations. If any pressure is applied on the feet or a stone strikes it, the whole edifice of life would collapse. The rise and fall of individuals, societies as well as nations is due to the feet of clay or weak foundations. Britain in the wake of the recent election is a case in point. The nation departed from its foundations: the hearts of the local people have long turned cold towards God and their basic faith leading to low or no attendance at churches and the churches being sold to be bars or restaurants and so on. A similar plight awaits Europe with the basic values of marriage, family and faith greatly eroded in virtually all the member nations of the European nations with few exceptions.

But once we imbibe the word of God into our hearts as the law that governs our lives, it has a way of travelling upwards to our heads to influence our thinking and downward to our feet to give us rock-like foundations. The foundational beliefs in the existence of God, that He is loving, just and merciful as described in the Word gives each of us a sense of security and strength. The belief that we are created in the image of God to be loving, just and merciful like God will keep us from contemplating violence against one another. The belief that marriage is God-ordained and children are a gift from the Lord will sustain our marriages and families through thick and thin of life. The belief that God is perfect and that we should aim to be like Him will enable us to catch up with excellence or constant and continual all round improvement of our lives and that of others. The Word will determine our basic values- the things that we should give priority to in our lives. The Word will also give us guiding principles to help us negotiate the various circumstances of life. It orders or re-arranges our thoughts, words, actions and conduct so that it comes together as a harmonious whole. Our beliefs, values and principles that are Bible-based are what gives us the feet of mountain deer that climb great heights and perilous slopes.

Scripture-knowledge does not pre-empt us from falling but it gets us back on our feet whenever we fall. We do not go into a downward slide or a free fall. Many people who do not have this kind of strong foundations or feet can go into deep depression just due to one factor going wrong in their lives. Many marriages break down over a single argument. Children go astray after a single incident of being enraged with their parents over something. Successful actors and businessmen have committed suicide over a single failure or disappointment. In contrast, the sound foundations of scripture gives us a long term and eternal perspective on every conceivable situation of life. It gives us wisdom not just to develop our capabilities but also our copabilities or the ability to cope with the inevitable, the unforeseen, the adverse. Beliefs, values and principles based on scripture give us the resilience or the bounce back ability. When we rely on human thought, philosophies and such like, these are like building a house on shifting sand. These are subject to constant change and revision. In any case, when a machine or computer is manufactured, we do not rely on a manual written by it but on a manual made by its inventor or creator. Likewise, we human beings need to depend on a manual written by the Creator in His infinite wisdom and not written or thought of by any of us finite creatures.

Prateep V Philip

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Overcoming Unbelief


UV 2292/10000 Overcoming Unbelief
And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief
Mark 9 v 24
The child that was possessed from infancy by a spirit that caused convulsions as well as deafness and muteness. The father had first asked the disciples of Jesus to cast out the spirit. But they could not though they tried. Then the father brought the child in sheer desperation and hope of healing and deliverance to Jesus, having heard the evidence of so many being healed by Him. Jesus was apparently disappointed by the lack of faith of the contemporary generation. He goes on to tell the desperate father that “ Everything is possible for him who believes.” The father responded by saying, “ I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief.” Jesus cast out the spirit and delivered the boy. He told the disciples that such kind of deaf and mute spirit can be cast out only by prayer. Yet, Jesus had used his authority to address the spirit and command it to leave the boy and it obeyed Him instantly. The incident shows that both the father and the disciples approached the problem with a mix of belief and unbelief as do all of us. The word “belief” literally means “ to consider oneself a part of the kingdom (of God)” with all the attendant power, authority and love of God flowing through the one who believes and unbelief means, “Not to consider oneself part of the kingdom of God” and shorn of the power, authority and attributes of God. Their unbelief that healing is not possible in this case got the better of their belief that healing is possible. This struggle of belief versus unbelief is going on all the time in our hearts, minds and lives. At such times, we need to consciously and persistently throw the weight of our thoughts, words, emotions, desires, decisions and actions on the side of belief or the kingdom of God.

Very often in our lives, too we are like the helpless father and the disappointed disciples. We encounter failure in doing that which we hope we can do by faith. Part of us believes and part of us disbelieves the promises and power of the Lord. Like the father, we need the help of Jesus and the Holy Spirit to overcome our lack of faith and to strengthen our existing level of faith. Some of our prayers for healing or deliverance are answered instantly and some are seemingly still not answered. At times when our hopes are not fulfilled, we need to examine our belief as well as our unbelief. We need to persist in prayer and the Lord will either answer our cry or give us the strength to bear it. As Paul himself cried out to the Lord to remove a thorn in the flesh that he suffered from- a particular affliction, but the Lord did not remove it but gave him the grace to accept the will of God and bear it graciously.

Sometimes, we suffer mishaps we never imagined would happen to us. We wonder at that time, “ Why did the Lord who is all knowing allow it to happen.” Our unbelief kicks in and raises doubts and questions about the love, grace and power of the Lord. We may not get an adequate explanation as we go through the pain and suffering. But after things have settled, we would be able to discern that even in the valley, the Lord is with us and that He is faithful to His word, His promise, His covenant relationship with us.

Prateep V Philip

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

The Reins of Our Lives


UV 2291/10000 The Reins of Our Lives
I will bless the LORD, who hath given me counsel: my reins also instruct me in the night seasons
Psalm 16 v 7

A horse is ten times stronger than the average human being. Yet, it is controlled with reins by a human being. This implies that the human being is many times more powerful than the horse in intellectual terms. If then a horse is to be controlled and guided with reins, how much more do we humans need guidance and direction? In the absence of such guidance, we are like a wild horse, without rider and purpose. The Lord, Our Creator and Redeemer is our rider. His instructions written and passed down to us through the Word give us wise counsel and direction. His commands are our reins that keep us on track on the paths He leads us on. His word is apt, precise, relevant and useful for our lives. His example is our inspiration and His promises our spiritual food. It is through these reins that the Lord reigns in our lives. When He says go to the right we should go right and when He says go to the left, we should go left. When He asks us to say Yes, we should say Yes and when He asks us to say No, we should say No. Like a horse obeys only its handler, we should always obey the Lord and not our own impulse or instinct. Sometimes, when we forget and go off on our own, He will pull the reins tighter and get us back on course.

To carry the metaphor further, just as a horse is pleased with its master and grateful to him for feeding him, caring for him and for treating him well, we need to bless the Lord for giving us wisdom, strength, spiritual food and timely help. The horse is sensitive and obedient to every nudge of the rider, every pull on its reins, every shift to the right or the left. Likewise, we need to be sensitive and obedient to the move of the Holy Spirit. Unlike a horse that is controlled by a pair of visible reins, we have invisible reins running to our thoughts, our emotions, our mouths, our eyes, our limbs, our hearts, our wills.

The horse is the only creature that sleeps while standing on its feet. It is watchful and alert all the time. Its strength is meant to endure during peacetime as well as wartime. We too are built to endure. Even in the dark periods of our lives, we are to stick to the truths and lessons taught to us by the Lord. It is said that Alexander the Great tamed his wild horse Bucephalus by turning its face to see its own shadow. Bucephalus means “bull-headed.” That is what most humans are ab initio. But when Christ enters our hearts and rules or rides our lives by means of the Holy Spirit, we become Christ-headed. The Lord will cause us to see or sense His shadow or His presence in our lives. That experience will tame our wild desires, emotions, thoughts so that we will bless the Lord with every thought, word and action of our lives. He will teach us to cross different difficult periods of our lives and emerge victorious like a trained warrior’s horse. We will be able to take leaps of faith across dangerous ravines, negotiate narrow passes and cross mountain streams of our lives.

Prateep V Philip

Monday, June 5, 2017

UV=Uni-verse: Beauty Beyond Borders

UV=Uni-verse: Beauty Beyond Borders: UV 2390/10000 Beauty Beyond Borders And they knew that it was he which sat for alms at the Beautiful gate of the temple: and they were fi...

Beauty Beyond Borders


UV 2290/10000 Beauty Beyond Borders
And they knew that it was he which sat for alms at the Beautiful gate of the temple: and they were filled with wonder and amazement at that which had happened unto him.
Acts 3 v 10

Many of us act like the blind beggar at the Beautiful Gate. God has placed some beautiful blessings right before us and we remain blind and unaware. We are still begging for alms when the Lord has given us sight as well as insight. The congenital blindness of mankind has afflicted us. Instead, we should always have the spirit of the blind man after he was healed for we have been touched, talked to and transformed by the Lord. We should be walking, leaping and praising the Lord all the time. Instead, we are grovelling and grumbling. The Lord has already brought us to a place of great abundance of salvation. We should be thankful for all He has done already instead of complaining of what we do not have.

The Lord has brought us to the beautiful gate of Heaven through the transport of Jesus and the Holy Spirit. We are always only a prayer away from the throne of the Lord. Our eyes were blinded by our earthly concerns and worries. We need to see the beautiful face of Jesus, sense His beautiful presence in our lives, smell His eternal fragrance. He has done many wonders and shown us amazing things that eye has not seen, nor ear heard nor mind conceived. For many of us He has delivered us from the jaws of death of the roaring lion and brought us to the entrance of eternity and paradise. No more can we ask or expect small requests of the Lord.

The pearly gate of Heaven is beautiful but a pearl is wrought in great pain. We are able to recognize the beauty of eternal life often only after we are brought through much pain. Sometimes, it is so painful that we are blinded and cannot see any beauty in life. But, as the Balm of Gilead of Heaven- Jesus relieves, heals and removes our pain, we begin to see the beauty of the manifold patterns of life and of eternity. Death itself is no longer a hideous entrance to an unknown future but the beautiful gate that will give us access to the promised and eternal land. While we wait to cross the Beautiful Gate, we should rejoice again and again at the wonders and miracles, the grace and peace we enjoy in our walk with Jesus on earth. We are always waiting our turn at the Beautiful Gate of the Eternal City, peering in, getting a glimpse of the goings on. People will see us and know that our sense of joy comes not from something earthly but from an experience as well as an expectation of the beautiful world that lies beyond the Beautiful Gate- the beauty beyond the borders of this life. That vision of eternity should inform and influence everything we think, speak and do.

Prateep V Philip

UV=Uni-verse: Level Five Love

UV=Uni-verse: Level Five Love: UV 2289/10000 Level Five Love Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with a...

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Level Five Love


UV 2289/10000 Level Five Love
Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
Matthew 22 v 37

Since Jesus said that this uni-verse is the first and greatest commandment, it is vital we understand the three dimensions of loving God: with all of our heart, with all of our soul or spirit and with all of the mind. With all of our heart implies with total commitment to our personal covenant with God to believe all that He has said and to act or live according to that which He has said. Love of the heart is the commitment to love God above all else including our own selves, our families, our near and dear. All our emotions are to be in accordance with the patterns of the Lord. We need to take every emotion captive to Christ. To love God with all of our hearts is to focus on Him as the locus of our lives. Everything else gets its meaning, purpose and power in relation to the Lord.

With all of our souls or spirits implies that our purpose of being is best fulfilled in our communion or intimate relationship with the Lord. Our spirits are focussed on knowing the Lord and becoming one with Him. This kind of love is expressed in prayer, meditation, fasting, worship. We focus on keeping the commandments of the Lord. With all of our minds means that we should take every thought, idea, intent, word and reaction captive to Christ. To take something captive to Christ is to redeem it, to free it to develop it to the highest potential. To love the Lord with all of our minds is to translate our thoughts and ideas into actions, to exert our will power to execute that which needs to be done.

With all of our strength to love the Lord is to develop our physical, mental, emotional and spiritual gifts, resources and abilities to the highest levels attainable. Every cell phone has two indicators: signal strength and battery strength, one being the strength of the waves of the service provider while the other is the internal strength of the battery powering the instrument. Our hearts, minds and spirits should have both signal strength to receive messages and grace from the Lord at five or maximum level as well as the internal strength of five. When both types of strength are at peak level, we are at our best, doing our best, feeling the best, serving as best we can, achieving the best we can, behaving the best and having the best.

Prateep V Philip

Saturday, June 3, 2017

The Half Led


UV 2288/10000 The Half Led
And five of them were wise, and five were foolish.
Matthew 25 v 2

Spiritual wisdom comes from following the Holy Spirit. Spiritual folly comes from following one’s own whims and fancies, one’s own agenda and ego. The five wise and five foolish maidens who were waiting to receive the Bridegroom- Jesus at the marriage of the Lamb with the church, symbolises areas in our lives that are spirit- led and areas in the lives of the faithful that continue to be led by self. It also symbolises the parts of the church who are not spirit led and the parts that are spirit led.

If there are ten areas or significant domains in our lives, how many of these are ruled, directed, led by Christ through the Holy Spirit? These are areas that we have not trusted or surrendered to the Lord. These are the aspects of our character and personality that have not been subjected to the discipline of the Holy Spirit or the discipleship of Christ. To attempt to identify ten most significant areas or domains of our lives: our thought life, our speech, our actions, our emotions, our desires, our relationships, our finances, our family, our goals, our habits. We need to conform to the patterns or templates of Christ in all these areas. As we yield to the Holy Spirit, He fills us and churns and causes change to happen in each significant area of our lives.

Our yield in each of the ten areas will increase as we increasingly yield to the Holy Spirit. The fruit of the Spirit or the Jesus nature that pleases the Father in heaven will be revealed and manifested in us: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, humility and self control. Together these qualities of character constitute spiritual wisdom. We will be watchful and alert spiritually speaking to look out for the roaring lion that seeks to devour us, to rob us of our peace, to kill our hope in Christ, to steal our blessings. Spiritual indolence or lethargy will be driven away from all areas of our lives. The lamps we light with our lives will illuminate the path for many to reach the Bridegroom. If we are aligned with God in five areas and not aligned in five other areas, the enemy of our souls will catch us napping. We will be like half baked bread or cake, good in parts and bad in parts.

Prateep V Philip

Friday, June 2, 2017

Breaking Our Alabaster Jar


UV 2287 Breaking Our Alabaster Jar
And being in Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as he sat at meat, there came a woman having an alabaster box of ointment of spikenard very precious; and she brake the box, and poured it on his head

Mark 14 v 3

Mary Magdalene broke what was her most valuable possession to honour, glorify, benefit Jesus. She had experienced the forgiveness of Jesus. She had seen His resurrection power and authority by which He had commanded the long dead Lazarus to rise from the dead. It was her turn to show her adoration, her gratitude, her worship, her thanksgiving. She chose to break that which was most valuable to her – an alabaster jar of most expensive anointing oil of nard. She had found something more valuable and life-enhancing than mere perfume in the message of love of Jesus. She was willing to give up that which was dear to her heart to benefit Jesus. She did it not with a sense of obligation or pride or boastfulness but with tears , repentance and utter humility in washing the feet of Jesus with her tears and wiping it with her hair.

Are we willing to give up that which is most precious in our lives to honour the Lord? Are we ready to break our alabaster jar at the feet of Jesus as an offering? It is the cost of discipleship- to give up what we formerly most valued in order to obtain what cannot be purchased- forgiveness and eternal life in Jesus. The alabaster jar is a metaphor for our careers, our gifts and talents, our relationships, our treasures, our very life. The alabaster jar is a symbol of that from which our life’s worth is derived. Our life’s worth should be derived from our faith in Jesus and our appropriation of grace. It should not be derived from what and how much we possess. It should not be derived from our social esteem or our social status. Jesus gave up His status as prince of heaven to live among mankind as one of us. He gave up His status as a member of King David’s household to dine with Simon, the leper. He did everything to advance the kingdom of God on earth. We ought to emulate Jesus as well as Mary Magdalene.

Mary Magdalene gave up what was hers willingly and without being asked to. But there were others whom Jesus asked to give up what was most valuable to them but they did not. Jesus asked the young rich ruler to give up his riches and to follow Him as He knew that the latter’s sense of security and self esteem rested on his possessions. Jesus asked some to follow Him after leaving their homes as He knew that their homes were the source of their comfort and security. We too will be asked to give up things that were up to a point the source of our security, comfort and worth. When so asked, we should not hesitate but be enthusiastic like Mary Magdalene on bestowing it on Jesus. The action of anointing the head of Jesus with perfumed oil was symbolic and prophetic. It was a preparation for His death and burial. Jesus did not protest or resist the action of Mary. He in fact welcomed it and appreciated Mary for it. It was looked down upon and scorned by others. Our giving up of our worldly options of career, fame, possessions may invite likewise the condemnation or scorn of others but it should be pleasing to the Lord. Today, Jesus needs little or nothing of us but it comes as a test of our heart’s devotion to the Lord.

Prateep V Philip

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Mansions in Heaven

UV 2286/10000 Mansions in Heaven
In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.
John 14 v 2

A vision of heaven has propelled many persons and many fictional writers have described heaven as a kind of magical Shangrila. Indeed, there are many comparisons between heaven and earth as well as hell and earth. There is no temple in heaven but there is worship on every one's lips and hearts. Praise and worship, musical instruments and singing are found both on earth and in heaven. Where the presence of God is, that is the kingdom of God both in heaven and earth. Obedience is required whether in heaven or on earth. In heaven, there is neither disease nor affliction of any kind. There are no cause for tears. When we live healthy lives without affliction, we are partaking of heavenly life. The source of light on earth is the sun while the source of light in heaven are God and Jesus. There is both day and night on earth while in heaven there is no night or darkness. When we walk in the light of the word of Jesus, we are living by the illumination of heaven. There are joys on earth like nature’s beauty, the laughter and love of children, the kindness of some, the blessing of the Lord in terms of peace or Shalom but the joys in heaven are magnified and undiluted.

There are solid houses or mansions on earth as well as in heaven. The houses on earth are made of brick or burnt earth while the houses in heaven are made of precious stones and precious metals. There are walls and guarded gates in heaven as on earth but the walls of heaven are open but guarded by angels. The pavements of heaven are made of gold while men kill each other for gold on earth. There are green pastures, valleys and still waters of crystal clarity in heaven even as these are found in some places on earth. There is no violence, corruption or power struggle in heaven unlike the earth.

There are lot of longings in every human heart on earth but in heaven all longings are satisfied. The city and the houses are built by human hands on earth and do not last the ages but the city and the houses are built by the Lord Himself. Jesus’s occupation on earth was not by chance that of a carpenter or builder of houses of those times for He is the builder and preparer of our homes in heaven. He crafts each house uniquely and differently according to the life of faith lived by His follower. Each of us in response to this faith fact needs only to prepare one thing for Jesus during our sojourn on earth for Jesus and with His help- our hearts. The concept and reality of reward and punishment that exists on earth side by side find their eternal reflection in heaven and earth. The separation from the creator God and the Redeemer Jesus is temporary on earth and is reversible but the separation from the creator God and the Redeemer in hell is eternal and irreversible.

Prateep V Philip