Saturday, March 29, 2008

The Grearest Gain II - Who knows the Appointed Time?

"The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord"

Someone said: "even his stops". I like to add that even his end is ordered by the Lord. I realize the truth of it from my father's life.

No one knew that the 16th of March 1960 was the day appointed for my father's departure to the glory land. Not even he. Yet the Holy Spirit, Who guided him, helped prepare him during his devotion that morning! The Lord was at work elsewhere too.

Several miles away, lived a servant of God. He too was a Hindu convert. He gave up his lucrative post to serve the Lord full time, as an independent evangelist. In those days, such a thing was unheard of although now, it is common. He was called 'Sadu' by the people and the children thought he was Jesus Christ from his looks, dress and gentle ways. He used to visit my father, as my father believed in his ministry and supported him financially too.

This servant of God arrived just at the time my father felt uncomfortable. For him to arrive at that early hour, he would have had to leave his house at 6 AM or so. He was older than my father and he cycled all the way! It was a surprise to me to see Sadu coming at that time when we were in a hurry getting ready for school and work. Normally he comes on a Saturday and never on a weekday like this. Now I know that it was the Lord who sent him. How careful we should be to listen to God's promptings and obey His commands. Sadu, by his obedience, was able to help my father and be a comfort to us.

Just a few minutes before, my father who was resting, sat up and said "I think I am going to die. What are you all going to do?" His human love and concern said those words. Yet quickly he added "There is nothing to fear.". God gave him hope and confidence and it was a strength to us.
Then things started moving fast. Sadu came and without a word he went to my fathers bed, placed his head on his lap and started praying silently. By this time my father went unconscious. "There is nothing to fear", were his last words to us. Sadu told us to pray quietly. Thus my father's spirit left his body. Then the doctor arrived and pronounced him dead.

It is really a blessed thing to know the Lord and have fellowship with Him. It is a life of peace amid the storms. Our hope in the Lord becomes the anchor of our souls. We will arrive at our destination at the appointed time.

I am reminded of two verses: "It is appointed unto man once to die and there after the judgment" [Heb. 9:27] and "God has not appointed us, unto wrath but unto salvation" [1Thes. 1:7] In my fathers case, he availed himself of the salvation offered to him and on the judgment day, he will receive his reward. Judgment is for the ones whose sins are not forgiven.

What about you and me? Will that day be a day of reward?

Monday, March 24, 2008

The Greatest Gain

"For me to live is Christ, to die is gain."
Philippians 1:21

My father's death anniversary was on the 16th of March. I thought of his life and how it helped me in my journey.

My father hailed from a small village. He belonged to a Hindu family and lived true to his convictions. His parents were not well off. My father was able to make his way to Singapore, educated himself and held a high position in the government.

Though he married my mother who was a Christian, he remained a Hindu, till one day in his distress [he lost his son suddenly and his wife was sick in the hospital] his eyes fell on my mom's Bible. As he opened it, the Lord spoke to his heart from Isaiah 1:3: "The ox knows his master, the donkey his owner's manger, my... people do not understand.". He went on to read and to search the scriptures and was convinced of the truth. By the time my mother came home from the hospital with the new baby, the Lord had worked in his heart and he was ready to accept the Lord and obey in the water baptism. The Lord always has His way and His time.

More than his conversion, the change in life, his upright living, his integrity and obedience to every truth from the Bible, set an example for my family and me. He retired early at 55 years to stay with his family in Sri Lanka. We were wealthy and lacked nothing. Yet, his lifestyle was that of a true Christian. He was up as early as 4am, sang praises to the Lord and read and meditated on the Bible before he started the day. His favorite verse was: "We live and move and have our being in the Lord ... We are His offspring."

He was a healthy person and was never sick. The day he died, as usual, I heard him having his daily devotions. In the hymn he sang the last stanza says: "Lord if your coming happens to be today, keep me prepared to meet you with delight.". He sang this more than three times and as usual went to do some work in the fields, which was how he exercised. At about 7 am he had a slight discomfort and with in 20 minutes he was gone even before the doctor came. He was gone to be with his father at the age of 57.

People thought it was not fair. Why did God take him away when the family needed him most? I didn't know why either. But I knew that God never makes a mistake. We were very sure that he had gone to be with the Lord and one day we will meet him. Though physically he was dead, as the righteous have hope in his death, so did he. His death was precious in God's sight [Pro. 14:32; Ps. 116:15] All these verses gave us comfort.

Ever since my father's death, the Lord took the place of my father and proved "... a father of the fatherless and a judge of the widows, is God in his heavenly place. [Ps. 68:5]" to be true.

It has been 47 years since my father died. All his five children are doing well, continuing in the faith and serving the Lord in some way. God is faithful. The children of the righteous are never forsaken. All praise to God for what He did in my fathers life and for us.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Visit the Most Important Place - Calvary

The world knows that Jesus was crucified. It was at Calvary. Do we know the reasons for it? If we truly know the facts and the truth, there will be a change in our values, behavior and the whole outlook on our lives. The world will be a better place.

Believing in Jesus, not only saves us, but also gives us the power to lead a holy life of integrity and honesty. Most people know what is good and bad, but are powerless to live "good". Jesus died on the cross to crush the power of the enemy, the devil, who prompts us to be evil [Gen.3:15]. Jesus on the cross, fulfilled the Messianic prophesies, Satan was defeated, the way to obtain forgiveness of sins and the assurance of eternal life in heaven were promised. The Gospels gives us the true story.

Today when I think of the benefits of Calvary, I praise God for His mercy and grace in saving me. I pray that the Lord should open the eyes of those who do not know the truth and those who know it and reject it for various reasons. I also pray for strength, wisdom and grace for the evangelists who are working under difficult circumstances to publish the good news of forgiveness of sins and salvation.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

When the Journey Becomes Difficult

Life on this earth is a journey. I know my destination. It is to get back to the place I came from. I know I am provided with everything necessary for me to make it joyful, successful, profitable and useful. I do have examples in those who have gone before me, to follow. Yet my journey often becomes the opposite of what it is expected to be. Then I feel like a failure. I know it ought not be so . "Why is it so?", is my question.

As much as the Lord's eyes are upon me to guide me and meet my needs with love, the enemy's eyes are constantly on me to somehow trip me, pull me down, make me fall, deceive, distract and divert my path. The journey becomes combat. The path becomes so dark that only the word of God becomes the torch. Sometimes it becomes so narrow that I feel suffocated, as I squeeze through. No one else could come along with me to comfort or counsel. These are attacks of the enemy to spoil my attitude and later he brings condemnation in my heart to torment me.

Such an attack was on me this morning. Soon the word of God enlightened me and enabled me to defeat the enemy.

This is what I learned: I should know the devices of the enemy [2nd Chrn. 2:11] and be ready to forgive others; I should be confident who is in me and with me; I should have the sword of the spirit ready and know how to use it; [Eph6:12-18] I know God has provided the necessary armor and the weapons to fight the enemy, though shamelessly he comes to attack again and again. If he tried it with Jesus will he leave his followers alone? Jesus defeated him. "He [Jesus] himself suffered when He was tempted, hence He is able to help those who are tempted." [Heb.2:18]

Are there any others who find the journey tough at times? How do you get through?

Monday, March 17, 2008

Incredible, Yet True

"In that day, the Egyptians and the Assyrians will worship together. In that day Israel will be the third, along with Egypt and Assyria, a blessing on Earth. The Lord almighty will bless them, saying, ' blessed be Egypt my people, Assyria my handy work and Israel my inheritance'"
Isaiah 19:23-25

As I read this, I just could not believe it. These are enemy nations! They did not believe in the God of Israel. Egypt was the nation that enslaved the Israelites for four hundred years! At one time God did not want them to make alliance with the powerful Egypt against Assyria. All three unfriendly nations, "in that day". will be at peace, worshiping the same God. "Every knee shall bow every tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ is Lord", will come to pass!

The book of Isaiah is full of prophecies of the messiah and the nations. Almost all of them have been fulfilled. The above is a prophesy of the coming kingdom of God that will be established in the future. It is not utopia as some say. Isaiah accurately prophesied in detail about the birth and suffering of the messiah. Many other political prophecies too have come to pass in history. Hence, what he said about the future Kingdom of peace will take place.

God wants everyone to be in that kingdom. Arrogance, pride and an unyielding spirit of rebellion prevent people and nations to acknowledge the Lord of all creation. Whether they believe it or not, He is the loving creator God. So, they are made to humble, not as a punishment, but in love so that the lord could draw nearer to them.

In our own lives too this is true. God makes us fit for His kingdom by a process of breaking and humility.

A great kingdom of peace and prosperity will soon be established. There will be no enmity. Isn't it time for us to shed our differences and start obeying the Prince of peace? If we ask Him He will help us to humble ourselves and forgive others and be at peace among ourselves in our small "worlds".

I decided to pursue after peace with others at any cost!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

A Day When Man Shall Look to His Maker With Respect

My attention was drawn to a verse this morning, which gave me joy as well as pain: "At that day shall a man look to his maker, and his eye shall have respect to the holy one of Israel. They shall not look to the altars, the work of their hands..." [Isa.16:7,8]

Considering the things that are going around these days, without any respect to their creator, I was happy that such a day was coming. But another thought made me sad and anxious, for the rest of the chapter pronounced doom and gloom for those who reject Him. Though this was an oracle against Damascus, it applies to us too.
All around me I see people pinning their faith and trust on temporal things only. The commentary said: "No matter how successful the people of Damascus were, God's judgment was sure. Often we depend on trappings of success like expensive cars, past times, clothes, beautiful houses, to give us fulfillment. But God says, we will reap grief and pain, if we have depended on temporal things to give us eternal security. If we don't want the same treatment that Damascus received , we must turn from these allurements and trust God."

I examined myself to see my position and I found things I should adjust in my life. I prayed for my loved ones that God should open their eyes before it is too late. I am fully assured that my God will answer my prayers.

I wondered about the great number, who are taking the "broad way". I came to the conclusion that our God does not try to attract the greatest number of people. Instead He seeks the greatest good of all people. He does not force any one. We who are following the Lord are to pray for them to take the right path.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Division and Subtration Increases the Amount?!

"What an absurd statement!", I thought at first. It is completely against mathematical principles! I have learned now, that in God's realm, it is proved to be true. In God's economy, a little becomes much, when we give away or share. There are so many true stories to prove this from God's word and from my experience of and others'.

During the time of prophet Elijah, there was a severe famine in Israel [1 Kings 17:7-16]. A poor widow, with an only son, had only a little oil and flour left, which was just enough to make a meal for both of them. For her, it was going to be the last meal for them, before they died of starvation like the others in her village.

Then, the prophet Elijah came; sent by God. He asked her to make a meal for him first! He said "This is what the God of Israel says, 'the jar of flour will not be used up and the jug of oil will not run dry, until the day the day the Lord give rain on the land.'" [1Kings17:14]. She, at his bidding, did so. Was she sure that the oil and flour would increase? I don't know. To be hospitable is beautiful, but to this extent is remarkable! The Lord spoke through the prophet, she believed, obeyed and it did happen. It was a miracle!

Faith is the first step between the promise and the assurance. Every miracle begins with an act of obedience.

God could have sent his servant to some wealthy person, who would have been able to feed Elijah comfortably. Or may be he would have thought it wise not to waste, but to preserve for the future, because of the state the country was in! God wanted to bless the widow, who had a heart to obey God till her life lasted, at whatever the cost. Hers was not an act of charity to gain fame.

What I learned is this: Do not be selfish. Seek God and his kingdom first [Mat.6:33]; Whatever you have, is given by God. Give to God His portion [tithe] first, then share with the less fortunate ones whatever you have. Then, the Lord will bless what remains, so that you lack nothing. This has worked well for me.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

The Extraordinary is Preferable

The space expeditions, the explorations to the Poles and so many new inventions, that are speeding daily, make my life [may be yours too] look very ordinary! We become just common place beings, watching in wonder exclaiming: "What an explosion of knowledge!"

A profound thought lifted my spirits: Can all these exploits compare to what God did in the past and is able to do in the present and future?

So many miracles are recorded in the Bible. All wisdom and knowledge comes from God.
I recalled what happened when God called Moses to deliver his people from slavery in Egypt: Moses was reluctant. Then God asked him: "What do you have in your hand?" "A staff.", Moses replied. He was a shepherd at that time, though he grew up in the palace earlier. The Lord told him to throw the staff on the ground. When he did, it became a snake and Moses ran from it. Then the Lord told him to reach out and take the snake by the tail. When Moses did it, the snake turned back into a staff in his hand! That ordinary rod he had in his hand became a mighty instrument to to perform mighty miracles, not only to deliver God's people but also to provide for them and to teach and judge the offenders [Ex. 4:2-5].

What you and I have in our hands today, may be ordinary things like: a pen, a musical instrument, a broom, a hammer, a sweet voice or some other little talent. It may look like "nothing but a staff".
God takes pleasure in using ordinary things for extraordinary purposes.The ordinary thing in my hand, given to God at his bidding, will perform extraordinary things to bring glory to God. Remember that we serve the same God that Moses served.

If we cooperate with Him by yielding, listening and obeying Him, He can make the ordinary become extraordinary.

Monday, March 10, 2008

God's Tool Box

I saw people being used of God. People coming to the Lord. I wished to be like them, an instrument, in God's hand. But I didn't feel fit enough till I read 1st Corinthians 1:27-29 which gave me the needed answer.

"God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of the world, the despised things- and the things that are not, to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him."

I realized to my relief that no amount of human knowledge can replace the work on the cross. If Christ could be accessible only to the highly educated and intellectually gifted then the ordinary people like me will be left out. He wants every one to be saved and be used to promote his kingdom.

Humility and Faith are the most essential qualities needed to be used of God. Faith in the words and works of Jesus; Humility to accept Him and be submitted to Him. It calls for total surrender into the loving hands of the one who knows me and my weaknesses.

I remembered a proverb my mother used to say: "In the hands of the mighty, even a blade of grass would be a useful instrument"

I whispered a prayer: "I surrender myself to you Lord"

Friday, March 7, 2008

The Pebble on the Beach

"David took his staff in his hand, chose five smooth stones from the stream, put them in the pouch of his shepherd's bag ... and approached the Philistine. ... The stone sank into his [Goliath's] forehead and he fell down on the ground."
1 Samuel 17:40-48

One day as I was feeling left out, I thought of the pebbles and wrote the following:

No one hates, no loves; some may see it; but seldom notice;
It is just there where it was placed? or dropped?
May be if someone tripped on it, they would become aware of it's presence!

A little girl may pick it up, say it's cute then drop back. Take it home? For what?

Maybe an ecologist may come by someday to take it to experiment on it?

Till then it will just be there, content, happy to be where it is!

Trapped, tossed around, hoping to be of use some day?

This is how my feeling goes today, just a pebble!

Feelings are transitory. The reading of today is so up lifting. God has His own way and time to cheer us up!

The giant Goliath was challenging and intimidating God's people. Even the king was trembling. David saw Goliath as an uncircumcised Philistine, one who did not honor or obey the one true living God. David, a young lad, had the confidence that God was on his side as he obeyed Him. 'If God be for you who can be against you? You are more than a conqueror', he said to himself and with the smooth stone he killed the defying giant.

It's true that the world is facing so many giants today. We must be ready and willing to be used to destroy them! One thing to remember: the stone became smooth and ready to be used by being tossed around in the raging sea!

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Compromise as a Way of Escape?

Daniel 3:16-18.

King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, conquered Judah and took the wisest men and the beautiful women as captives to his country. Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were three young men among them. How ever much the king tried to introduce the religious culture of his land to these men, they stayed steadfast to their convictions.

They refused to bow down to the golden statue of the king. The king gave them one last chance: "If you do not worship the golden image you will be thrown into the blazing furnace, then what god is able to rescue you from my hand?" warned the king. [Dan.3:15]

The young men could have escaped the fire if only they had compromised! Many excuses could have been given: "We will worship now, but we will never become idol worshipers", "This is a foreign land, we should follow the rules of the country", "The king appointed us, we owe it to him", "Others are doing it, we are not hurting anyone" or even "God will forgive us since this is just once so we can escape!"
No. They knew the truth. They were fully convinced that the God whom they serve is mighty to save. It is better to be on his side. He is able. Even if He does not save, they were not going to disobey His command and worship any idol. It was a strong determination not to waver from the truth. The answer they gave sets an example to us: "The God whom we serve is able to save us from it and He will rescue us from your hand. But even if does not, we want you to know that we will not serve your gods or bow down to the image of gold you have set up".

The furious king had them thrown into the fire. Amazingly not only were they not burnt, the king saw a fourth man walking in the furnace with these three men! The result: the king decreed that any one who spoke against the god of these young men would be put to death because no other god can save like this. They trusted in their god and defied the king's command and were willing to give up their lives rather than serve other gods than Him and He rescued them! The king even promoted them! [Dan.3:28-30]

What a change in the king's attitude! All because the three young boys did not compromise their faith, stood firm trusting the one true God, despite the danger of death.
How is our faith? Aren't we often faced with situations where it is easy to say "When in Rome do as the Romans do" and compromise? The steadfastness, fidelity and confidence in God's ability are qualities much needed today.

Make sure that you serve the true living almighty God. Then your furnace will become a miracle which will amaze the skeptics and bring promotions in your lives.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

A "Mark" to be Spared!

"Then the Lord called to the man clothed in linen who had a writing kit and said to him 'Go through out the city and put a mark on the foreheads of those who lament over all the detestable things that are done in it.' When the destruction came they were spared"
Ezekiel 9:4,5

We are familiar with many different marks of identifications these days, mainly to prevent cheating. Thousands of years ago God spoke of marks for a different reason.

What are we doing about the shocking things we see and hear today, in all walks of life, even in religious organizations? Disgraceful behavior in the name of freedom and new philosophies that shake the foundational truth and values which were held in high esteem, cause pain to many.
We could ignore, criticize, condemn, talk about it or cry to God to have mercy on them, change them and save them from the consequences.

God is pleased with those who intercede. He will mark them and show His favor to them on the day of judgment.
May you and I be marked as an "Interceder"!

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

The Long Walk to be Sacrificed

"Carrying His own cross, He [Jesus] went out to the place of skull."
John 19:17

Many executions took place in this hill outside Jerusalem. The Romans used the criminals carrying the cross and walking to the place of execution, as an example to the people.

As Jesus walked along the road, crowds watched Him: The ones he healed, he delivered from the oppression of the devil, raised from the dead, those with whom he wept and comforted and those who shouted "Hosanna!" and welcomed him, would have been there. What would they have felt? What were the thoughts of those who were miraculously fed?

Did the religious leaders, who knew the scriptures well, ever think that the prophecy [Isa. 53:4] was being fulfilled? [Mt. 8:17] Could there have been someone who heard John the baptist saying "Look the lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!" [Jn. 1:29]

As Jesus walked, you and I were in His mind. Every laborious step he took, he did with joy. He was bringing freedom to all who believed in His great sacrifice! I am glad we were in His mind!

Monday, March 3, 2008

When the Going Gets Tough

"If you have raced with men on foot and the have worn you out, how can you compete with horses?"
Jeremiah 12:5

Jeremiah's life was extremely difficult despite his love and obedience to God. When he questioned God about it, the answer was basically: "if you think this is bad, how are you going to cope when it gets really tough?". Not all God's answers are nice and easy to handle! Yet, He is our loving father!

God is interested in forming our character. Hardships and difficulties train us to develop qualities like patience, endurance and faith. When the going gets tough and prayers don't get immediate results, know that God is at work. He stretches us to make us strong!

May we take this as a call to pray for those who are discouraged, failed or fallen. May He reveal himself to those who are far from Him. May his perfect will be done in us.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

How does God See us Today?

It is surprising that Satan went to God's presence [Job 1:6 ,8, 12]!

He did not go to worship God. He went to complain about Job's motives for being true to God! He does the same about you and me too. That is why he is called
"the accuser".

God had a good testimony about Job. He said
"There is no one on earth like him, he is blameless and upright; A man who fears God and shuns evil." [Job 1:6]. Yet God gave Satan permission to test his stand with God [Job 1:12]. Will God be able to give the same word of commendation about us? Sometimes He may permit Satan to test us too.

If our motives in seeking and worshiping God are pure, He will bring us out triumphantly, like Job.
It is God who gives us the grace to be righteous and holy. He is able to keep us faithful till the end.