Category Archives: December

Living Faith

Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind. For that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord,  being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways. (Jam.1:2-8 NIV)

People these days are so outspoken about their faith. They explain all the crazy things they do as the outcome of their faith. Faith means different things to different people, nevertheless every human being who breathes operates on faith. The object of their faith may vary.

As the Bible defines it in Hebrews 11:1,

Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.

The object of a Christian’s faith is Jesus Christ.

Faith is more than mere intellectual assent, it results in corresponding action or behavior. Faith that is alive moves one to action. If there is no visible transformation in the life of the one who professes to have faith, his/her faith is a dead one. Faith is like a seed planted in the ground, which, if not sprouting, growing, flowering and producing fruit over a period of time, is dead.

Living Faith Rejoices in Trials

James is writing to encourage the Christians of Jewish origin who were scattered all over the world. Since their faith in Christ has effected a change of behavior in them they were being subject to opposition and persecution from their own community. This situation is not uncommon even today in many countries around the world. James suggests that Christian faith is practical and behavior oriented. He raises a few issues in his letter. According to him, Christian faith is a living faith. It is intellectual assent plus action. You do certain things because of your belief and intellectual assent. It is a faith that works.

Attitude in Trials

It may seem crazy, for those who do not have faith, to rejoice when you are in trouble. First of all, it is humanly impossible to do so unless there is some mighty reason behind. Here, there is a purpose with which God is permitting trials in the life of a Christian, the result of which is profitable.  You don’t fake the real joy, it comes from the source of joy – Jesus the Savior who suffered for your sake. The joy of the Lord is our strength in trials (Neh.8:10).

Apostle Paul had more trials than any other Christian, perhaps (2Cor. 11: 22-29). Yet, he confidently said nothing can separate us from the love of Christ (Rom.8:35-39).

Advantage in Trials

The Bible says that trials in a Christian’s life are a test of his/her faith. It is profitable because it helps to develop endurance. Trained in endurance we become perfect and mature in our character.

God allows His children to grow through testing with the purpose of perfecting us in godliness. One has to successfully pass every test before he/she can graduate from the school of suffering. God did the same thing with the man Jesus (Phil.2:6-9Heb.5:7-10).

Assistance in Trials

It is humanly impossible to have the right attitude in suffering and grow to maturity by our own strength. We need God’s grace and wisdom to go through it. God knows it and He is promising His assistance in our times of trials. James 1:5 instructs us to ask God for His wisdom. He will see us through as we depend on Him (Heb.4:14-16).

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Shaping us up, at any cost!

No, O people, the Lord has told you what is good, and this is what he requires of you: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God. (Micah 6:8)

History tells us that God’s people, over the years, become tired of doing what God wants them to be doing. The same monotonous, boring routine, when the people around use post modern devices and enjoy unlimited entertainment. The inclination to ‘be like others‘ has been a major driving force. The line between the people of God and the ‘people of the world’ has been unclear, often, in each generation. God was aware of this ‘fallen’ human nature and strictly warned them not to mingle with the ‘others‘ beyond a limit, particularly in the areas of community life and worship. In Apostle Paul’s language it was to “be not yoked together with the unbelievers”.

But, we get tired of boundaries and wander into the forbidden territory like them, don’t we. We explain away our desire to explore and experience, like our great grandma did in the garden of Eden. We take God’s mercies for granted and indulge in sinful lifestyles. God had laid down His rules for His creation – rules as per His standard of holiness. But, for Israel, He also promised rewards for obedience and punishments for disobedience. But they turned ungrateful and did not even remember the great things their God has done for them. They turned out to be highly selfish to the extent of exploiting and cheating others for their own personal gains. As a result, the people of God went through wars, captivity, slavery and humiliation as punishment, time and again. In rebellion they complained that God was being unfair in demanding whole lot of things they could not perform.

However, the Covenant God initiated between Him and the Israelites was not to be broken as it was sealed by His holy name. He has loved His people with an eternal love, Israel first and then the Church. God can not go back on His covenanted promise.

Here, God is calling His people to present their case in the court of justice. God has His entire creation as witness and man has no valid argument before God. God explains through the prophet that His demands are just a few and very simple.

Do Justice

In all their dealings God wanted them to do justice because God is a God of justice. Living Bible puts it as doing what is right. This does not give room for exploitation of others. In doing justice to others you may have to lose what is in your possession or you may have to give up or let go. This is what Jesus meant when He said “treat others as you want them to treat you”. When you are at wrong, justice will be unpleasant to you.

God says in Micah 6:9 that He will execute His justice toward His people because they have neglected to do justice in their dealings with others. They were guilty of possessing ill-gotten wealth and cheating others using dishonest weights and measures in their transactions (Mic.6:10-11). Thus, God’s justice demands punishment up on His people.

Show Mercy

Mercy, in simple terms, is not paying back what others deserve for their wrongs. It is not paying back evil for evil, but paying back good for evil. It is not trying to get even, but forgiving.

God wants His people to be merciful to others like the way He is merciful to all, particularly to them. In spite of their repeated rebellion God has been merciful to them.(Mt.5:7; 9:13; 12:7; Lk.6:36; Eph.4:32; Jam.2:13)

But God’s people continue to be violent in their dealings with others, lying against them (Mic.6:12). They followed the example of King Ahab the son of Omri and the husband of wicked Jezebel (1Kings 16:21-34; 18:1-18; 21:1-26).  Because of this God will restrain His mercy from them and allow them to be vulnerable, oppressed, hungry, attacked and looted by enemies (Mic.6:13-16)

Be Humble

Humility is the opposite of pride. It is considering others better than yourself. It is the willingness to go through even humiliating experiences as a part of your walk in obedience to God.

God’s people are to walk in humble obedience to their God. The sin of pride is probably the worst, the sin that caused the bright angel’s fall. God’s people, too, get proud along their walk with God. And God hates pride from His people. So, to keep them humble, God would allow His people to be weak and frail some times, poor and helpless other times, so that they will depend on Him always.

When God became a human to reveal Himself and His plan of salvation, He came as a humble Jewish carpenter who endured the highest form of humiliation.

Because God’s people are not willing to be humble, God would allow them to be humiliated and teach them humility the hard way. Israel would be made a laughingstock before the nations of the world (Mic.6:16).

God is not finished with us yet. He is in the process of making us to be like His holy Son. At times when we don’t yield, like a father, God will use strict discipline or harsh ways to let us learn what we ought to. He does this because we are to reign with His dear Son as co-heirs and God can not take it for granted.

Leaders Beware!

What sorrow awaits you who lie awake at night, thinking up evil plans. You rise at dawn and hurry to carry them out, simply because you have the power to do so. When you want a piece of land, you find a way to seize it. When you want someone’s house, you take it by fraud and violence. You cheat a man of his property, stealing his family’s inheritance.

But this is what the Lord says: “I will reward your evil with evil; you won’t be able to pull your neck out of the noose. You will no longer walk around proudly, for it will be a terrible time.” (Micah 2:1-3)

Abuse of Power will invite punishment

Corrupt leadership is not a modern malady. It existed ages ago. God had sent warnings to them through His prophets before He sent punishment. Yet people continue to be corrupt, unjust, cruel and selfish, particularly those in power.

Those in leadership were called to lead God’s people to the destination God has for them. But today leaders have forgotten the destination altogether, let alone the one who called them to lead.  They are there for the powers they wield, not for the cause they are called. They use their powers to fulfill their greed and to satisfy their self. They grab what belongs to others and prevent others from getting what belongs to them.

But God is not sleeping. He will act at the right time to avenge the power-mongers and they will not escape.

Refusal to heed will bring disaster

When prophets of God talk about sin and its judgment, the corrupt leadership can not stomach it. They prevent the preachers from bringing strong messages. They stop those who preach against their abuse of power. They would rather reward those who preach out of context and say what God’s Word does not say. They fool themselves by saying that God is on their side and He will not bring disgrace up on them as He is a loving God. Thus they continue to exploit their colleagues and fellow beings and take advantage of every opportunity for their own personal benefit. They continue to use (or abuse) people and dump them after they have achieved their selfish ends.

God will not tolerate this for long and He will come to the rescue of the oppressed. He will save them and gather the remnant like a shepherd gathering his flock. He will break down the walls of oppression errected by the enemy and lead His gathered ones out from darkness into His marvelous light. He will then reign as their King and they will honor Him as their Savior and Lord.

Discipline in the Church (2Thess.3:6-18)

“If anyone does not obey our instruction in this letter, take special note of him. Do not associate with him, in order that he may feel ashamed. Yet do not regard him as an enemy, but warn him as a brother.” (2Thess.3:14,15)

The worst thing that can happen to the Church of Jesus Christ is the callousness of its members. Many congregations hesitate to take disciplinary actions against erring members.

Keep Aloof

Believers are advised to keep aloof from fellow believers who are negligent towards the instructions in the Bible. The Church should encourage members to keep the Scriptural principles and to keep away from those who ignore it. We need to discipline ourselves and help keep the discipline of the body of Christ.

“But now I am writing you that you must not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or a slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler. With such a man do not even eat.” (1Cor.5:11)

“Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them.” (Eph.5:11)

Keep Working

The Church should set examples of discipline and hard work. Paul worked hard as a professional tent maker not only to pay his bills but also to set an example for fellow believers. He suggested the principle ‘Food for Work’ or ‘No Work No Food’. In doing what is good we should never become tired.

Keep Admonishing

We who set an example should constantly engage in admonishing those who default. We must warn them in brotherly love.

Let The Lamp Light Up Your Path

The Advent is the season when the church celebrates the gift of the Lord Jesus Christ, the “Word becoming flesh”. The second Sunday in the advent season is earmarked as Bible Sunday to help us celebrate the gift of the Bible, the written Word becoming available to us. We must be thankful to God for the Bible that we hold in our hands. It was made possible through the blood and sweat of several servants of God, like John Wycliffe, William Tyndale, William Carey, Bartholomaeo Ziegenbalg, Benjamin Bailey, John Hands, and a host of others, who sacrificed their lives for the translation and distribution of God’s Holy Word.

Need for the Light

By December 2005 portions of Scripture were available in more than 2400 languages of the world, while complete Bibles were available in 426 of those languages. Bibles are available in 52 Indian languages and at least a portion of Scripture has been translated into more than 180 languages. According to official census there are 1652 languages and dialects in India. Experts say that with 300 strategic languages we can cover the entire population of our country. Still, it is a very long way to go. It is the responsibility of every Christian to involve in the task of bringing God’s Word to the people of his land. We need to pray, we need to give, and we need to share.

But, still more important, I feel, is our personal encounter with the Word of God. We can give the life giving Word to all those around and still be lost if we ourselves are not touched by it. If we look into the Word of God we can find why it is so important in the life of a Christian.

One night, several years ago, my brother Shaji was walking to the house of one of our friends. He was a new Christian at that time and he met with other friends regularly for prayer and Bible Study. He was passing through a hill side with thick rubber plantation. These rubber trees grow tall and wide and spread like a canopy above you. So it will be dark already by evening. And the ground will be covered with layers of dry leaves that fall from the trees. People trek across these plantations to avoid taking longer routes. Shaji was taking one of those usual short cuts. As he kicked through the heaps of dry leaves suddenly he felt a sting on his feet. He jumped back. In the quiet of the night he could hear movements over the dry leaves, like the sound of something crawling away. It must be a snake, he thought. But, is it just a rat snake or one of those deadly cobras or vipers? He could only guess because he did not have a flash light or a torch to light the path way. He didn’t want to take chances; immediately pulled out his hand kerchief and tied it as tight as he could below his knee, around the calf muscle. Then he rushed down to our friend’s house shouting his name. People came out of the house hearing the shout and he told them to take him to the hospital. They rushed him to the Mandiram Hospital on the other side of the hill. The doctor asked him about the snake but he had no idea. He could not see it in the dark. Doctor was confused about which anti venom to use. “You all pray”, He said, “I will take a chance and keep him under observation till morning”. They prayed and he survived. Later the doctor told him it was a deadly viper that had bit him.

We need light to see our way. We need light to decide which way to take. We need light to see the dangers that are on our way. We are all lost without the Light in this dark world of sin.

In John 8:12 Jesus says, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” The secret of not groping in the darkness is to have the Light of Life. To have the Light of Life we need to follow the Light. How do we follow the Light? Psalm 119 sheds light on it. It says the Word of God will show us the Light and help us follow the Light. In Ps.119:105 we read, “Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.”

Personal Touch

Here we need to get it right. This is a very personal statement of the Psalmist. In other words, the Psalmist has experienced it in his life; he has experienced the Word of God as the lamp showing the way. There are general statements like, “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” (1Tim.1:15). It doesn’t have to be a personal declaration. Someone can repeat this without believing it even a bit. It becomes personal when you answer the question, “What does that mean to me?” People repeat scripture passages like “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want”, without realizing that it is a personal affirmation. I need to ask myself whether the Lord really is MY shepherd!

How can the Word become personal? When you allow the Word to do a surgery in your life! It can do a scanning to locate the cancer and prescribe the remedy. Does that happen in your life? Look at Heb.4:12. “For the Word of God is sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing is hidden from God’s sight, everything is uncovered and laid bare before Him.” When you allow this scalpel of God to cut through you, to reach your soul and spirit, joint and marrow, to deal with your innermost being, to uncover and expose the real you – a wretched sinner in need of the Saviour, then and only then the Word will become personal to you.

Is the Word of God affecting your life? Is it helping you to find the way on a dark day? Is it shedding light in your pathway? If you want God’s Word to be a lamp to your feet and a light to your path you need to make a definite commitment to yield to its surgical intervention in your life.

Commitment to Obey the WORD

Keeping the Light in their hands and homes many Christians are still groping in the dark because they have not made up their minds to follow the light. You must be willing to walk the way the light reveals. You must be willing to obey what God’s Word says. There is no dearth of preaching and Bible Studies yet there are plenty of Christians standing at crossroads unable to make a decision. They have not made a definite commitment to obey God explicitly. In Job 24:13 (NLT) we read, “Wicked people rebel against the light. They refuse to acknowledge its ways or stay in its paths.” Bible study without a commitment for obedience is worse than no study at all because it increases carnality and invites the judgment of God. If you want God’s Word to show the light you need to make a definite decision to follow it. The Psalmist says in v.106, “I have taken an oath and confirmed it, that I will follow your righteous laws.” In v.110 he says, “The wicked have set a snare for me, but I have not strayed from your precepts.” He made a decision to obey God’s Word and a commitment to stick on with it no matter what, may it be “suffering” as in v.107 or risks as in v.109, or “snares” as in v.110.

If you have accepted Jesus as your personal Saviour and Master, this is covered under that decision. If you have not taken it seriously, you can make a commitment now to follow Him and obey whatever He says. This is the starting point of walking in the light. As a student, way back in 1971, I made a commitment to follow the Lord and obey His Word. How about you?

Commitment to Study the WORD

The Bible is God’s letter to us. Through it He is sharing His desires, plans and instructions with His beloved children. To understand God’s mind we need to read it. Some times we need to read it over and over to follow the thoughts of God and to register in our minds the instructions. We need to take time and effort, use all available help, and study God’s instructions.

Fix up a convenient time of the day. Read through the Scripture book by book, using some kind of reading plan, like the Daily Bread. Take down notes or keep a diary to note down the important principles you discover, the promises to claim and commands to keep. Put down how you are going to apply it or the action that you will take and start doing it immediately.

Be willing to learn and to apply it, making amendments in your life wherever needed. Remember, Bible study without application is debasing, it is joining hands with the enemy. Don’t accumulate the wrath of God through Bible studies if you have no commitment to obey what God’s Word commands. The Psalmist prays in v.108, “Accept O Lord the willing praise of my mouth and teach me your laws”. Do you take time to study God’s Word? Do you do it regularly? May be you have made decisions earlier but broke it. Why not renew the commitment to study God’s Word?

Commitment to Meditate on the WORD

Meditation is occupying our minds with what we have read and studied. We need to reflect on what God’s Word says. It is a profitable practice to memorize scripture passages. That will help us in our reflection and that will pop up in our minds in times of need. God will use it to speak and reassure us of His promises. When we begin to drift in our daily walk this will alert us like an alarm. As we keep meditating on His Word we become aligned to His will.

Have you observed cattle graze? They do it in a hurry and then they lie down to relax in a quiet place. That is when they really enjoy the food as they chew the cud. We must learn to dwell up on the Word of God on a regular basis. The Psalmist says in v.109, “Though I constantly take my life in my hands, I will not forget your law.” In v.11 of the same Psalm he says, “I have hidden your Word in my heart that I might not sin against you.” How about you? Do you consciously install the Word of God in your heart so that it can warn you and guide you in your daily affairs? Do you reflect and dwell up on the Word of God?

Commitment to Treasure the Word

In Mat.6:19-21 Jesus said, “Don’t store up treasures here on earth where moth and rust will destroy or thieves will steal… Your heart will always be where your treasure is”. The Psalmist says in Ps.119:111, “Your statutes are my heritage forever; they are the joy of my heart.” In the next verse he says, “My heart is set on keeping your decrees to the very end.” (v.112) In Psalm 19:10 David says God’s Word is “more precious than gold, than much pure gold; they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the comb”. Ps.119:127 says, “Your laws mean more to me than the finest gold”. “Your word to me, your servant, is like pure gold; I treasure what you say” (Ps.119:140). Read through the entire Psalm 119 to realize how the Psalmist cherishes the Word of the Lord.

What gives you the greatest joy? Your family, your job, your possessions, your position, your power, flattering subordinates! All the worldly treasures will vanish. The wealth of the world can not provide security or else the wealthiest nations wouldn’t be living in terror. Others can rob us of our material wealth but no one can take away the peace, the eternal life, the promise and the assurance of salvation that the Word of God gives us. “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my Words shall never pass away”, said Jesus.

What is the greatest treasure that you would want to pass on to your children? Property, Bank balance, Education! People give their children everything in the world but not the Word of God. What heritage do you want to pass on to your children? Do you want them to have the eternal treasure that will lead them to eternal life, or the worldly treasures that will soon vanish? You need to decide.

A commitment to Study, Meditate, Obey and Treasure the Word of God will light up your path and lead you to eternal life.

Many years ago there was an accident at a Railway crossing. There was no gate at this crossing but a gate keeper was appointed to be there at night. He gave signal using a kerosene lamp. It was raining heavily one night and in spite of his waving the signal lamp a speeding train ran into a car and several people were killed. The case was on trial and the gate keeper was questioned by the magistrate.

“Where you on duty that night”? He asked.

“Yes your Honour”, the gate keeper replied.

“Did you wave the lamp to warn the driver”?

“Yes, I did, your Honour”.

“How did you wave”?

The gate keeper raised his right hand as if holding the lamp and waved it few times.

The trial was over and the gate keeper was declared not guilty. But all through the trial he was looking disturbed and restless. After the proceedings were over when he came out of the court room, one of his friends asked him why he was looking disturbed and restless. Pulling his friend to a corner the gate keeper said, “I was troubled throughout because I was worried whether he will ask me if the lamp was lit”.

Is the Lamp in your life burning bright? Is God’s Word a Lamp to your feet and light to your path? Make a decision today to study, to meditate, to obey and to treasure the Word of God in your life on a daily basis. If you had made a decision earlier and had failed in keeping it, commit yourself into the hands of God and ask for grace to follow through your decision. Will you make that Commitment right now? May the Word of God be a Lamp to your feet and a light to your path, all the days of your life!