Category Archives: January

God who is worthy of all praise!

Shout for joy to God, all the earth; sing the glory of his name; give to him glorious praise! Say to God, “How awesome are your deeds! So great is your power that your enemies come cringing to you. All the earth worships you and sings praises to you; they sing praises to your name.

Bless our God, O peoples; let the sound of his praise be heard

(Ps. 66:1-4, 8)

Praise Him for who He is
The entire earth is invited to offer their praise to the God of the Bible, for He is the Almighty. His enemies would surrender in fear because they have seen His power. How do we praise this awesome God?

We do it by expressing our joy in His presence. Telling Him how awesome He is, how much we appreciate His greatness. This means, we are acknowledging openly that He is the Almighty God and He is our God. Several Psalms exhort us to verbally express our joy in His being the Almighty God. We are to shout for joy or make a joyful sound (Ps. 95:1), cheering for Him or singing for Him. We must do it in such a way that it brings Him glory and honor in the midst of others.

Praise Him for what He does
The whole human race is invited to witness His mighty deeds. In fact His deeds are evident to all those who are open and honest. The classic example of His glorious deeds is the history of His people Israel. Two similar incidents are reminded here, the parting of the Red Sea (Ex. 14:21) and the drying up of the Jordan river (Josh. 3:14-17). These were reasons for great rejoicing among His people. He protected them from all the rebellious enemy nations who exalted themselves. His eyes still keep a watch over the nations of the world to see that His people are protected.

How to praise God
We are to do it by exalting His name doing it in such a way that it will be heard by the people around (66:8). This is because He has kept the remnant of His people safe from being utterly destroyed. Due to their disobedience the people of Israel had gone through trials and captivity, hard labor and slavery, fire and water. However, their descendants could enter the land of abundance. They are still a people and now once again restored as a nation.

Go into His presence consciously and offer Him praise, the sacrifice of our lips. Fulfill any vows made before Him. As a testimony proclaim to others all that God has done for you.
Remember, in any prayer we make or praise we offer, our hearts must be clean lest it will not be acceptable to Him.

The King and His Kingdom

 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was thrown into the sea and gathered fish of every kind. When it was full, men drew it ashore and sat down and sorted the good into containers but threw away the bad. So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” Mt. 13:44-58

Though the Kingdom promised to Israel was physical there was a greater one unlike any other being introduced. They could not understand the principles of this Kingdom nor could they recognize its King. This was the Kingdom of Heaven.
Characteristics of the Kingdom
Jesus is the King of both and is the King of all kings. This Kingdom was superior and more precious that anyone who understood its glorious nature would give away all that they hold precious to possess it. Jesus compared it with the hidden treasure one finds in the fields and the pearl of great value for which the merchant trades all that he had. It is also compared to the fishing net that gathers all kinds of fish and drawn out when it is full. There will be a sorting of the good and bad among these fishes and the good are preserved while the bad are thrown away.
Responding to the King’s invite
The King is inviting people from all over to be part of His eternal Kingdom. Those who accept His invitation are promised eternal life with Him. Those who refuse or discard the invitation will be punished at His coronation for their negligence and disrespect to the King.

The Kingdom of God

Now when John heard in prison about the deeds of the Christ, he sent word by his disciples and said to him, “Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?” And Jesus answered them, “Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them. And blessed is the one who is not offended by me. (Mt. 11:1-19)

The role of John the Baptist
It was foretold in the scriptures in Mal. 3:1 and Isa. 40:3. Jesus acknowledged this. Jesus honored John the Baptist as ‘the greatest among those born of women’. He was greater than a prophet and Elijah who was to appear again.
The vision of John the Baptist
He too expected Jesus to be some kind of political liberator who would banish wickedness and establish the righteous rule. He tried to confirm whether Jesus was truly the Savior for whom he was a forerunner. If Jesus were, why should His forerunner be in prison, he thought.
The view of the religious
People had their own ideas about the Kingdom of God. They developed their own theories rather than listen to God’s Word and understand it. They rejected John and his admonition because it was not very  comfortable. They ascribed his lifestyle to be demonic. Jesus gave a radically new interpretation to the concept of the Kingdom of God. His message was attested by His deeds. But people were not willing to accept it as it was far from ordinary and commonly accepted behavior. So they called him unruly and friend of sinners. They forced their idea of the Kingdom of God up on people rather than listen to God’s messengers. They are compared with children who are not satisfied with anything, but want everyone to dance to their music.

Cost of being a Jesus follower

 

…and you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. Mt. 10: 16-33

How to conduct themselves in the world
While commissioning His disciples Jesus warned them that they will be like sheep among wolves, so He charged them to be shrewd (like serpents) and innocent to evil (as doves).
What to expect from people

  1. People will falsely accuse you, ill-treat you, frame you, persecute you and bring you to trial because you bear the name of Christ. But these are opportunities to be His witness.
  2. Members of the family will turn against you and betray you.
  3. “…you will be hated by all for my name’s sake.” (v. 22)

How to respond to persecution
Holy Spirit will enable you to speak the right words at that moment. (vv. 19-20). Those who endure till the end will be saved. Flee from the place of persecution.
The Attitude

  1. Be happy to be like the Master. The disciple should not expect a better treatment than what His Master received. The highest goal of a disciple is to be like his Master. If the Master was called Satan, we will be named worse.
  2. Do not fear people, boldly proclaim the truth. People can kill only your body, you will still live eternally. God can throw the wicked in hell for ever.
  3. God cares about every detail of your life. You are more precious to Him than the rest of creation. He is in absolute control and knows in detail what is happening in your life. He has numbered the hairs on your head and if one hair falls, He knows which one has fallen.
  4. Those who openly acknowledge Jesus as their Lord will be acknowledged by Him in heaven before the Father and those who deny Jesus will be denied by Him before God the Father.

Leadership Strategy

And proclaim as you go, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers,cast out demons. You received without paying; give without pay. Acquire no gold or silver or copper for your belts,no bag for your journey, or two tunicsor sandals or a staff, for the laborer deserves his food.

Jesus being God the Son could have accomplished the task of redeeming the lost world all by Himself. However, He did not choose to do that. Instead He trusted His team of disciples to do it for Him. What is given in Mt. 10:1-15 is the trial run of the strategy.
Jesus chose ordinary people
The disciples were just ordinary people, mostly unschooled. But He saw their potential as they were simple, teachable folks.
Jesus delegated responsibility
He called them to be sent out on His mission of proclaiming the good news of salvation. He also transferred His authority to them to do supernatural things.
Jesus trained them
He told them where to go, what to take, what to proclaim, what to do, what to expect, how to respond, and what the consequences will be. Freely give what you received freely. Workers deserve their sustenance.
Jesus equipped them
He imparted the vision to them over the short span of three and a half years and sent the Holy Spirit to be their companion, guide and power source.

Doing or Believing?

 Then the disciples of John came to him, saying, “Why do we and the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?” And Jesus said to them, “Can the wedding guests mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them? The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast. No one puts a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old garment, for the patch tears away from the garment, and a worse tear is made. Neither is new wine put into old wineskins. If it is, the skins burst and the wine is spilled and the skins are destroyed. But new wine is put into fresh wineskins, and so both are preserved.” (Mt.9:14-17 ESV)

Religious people will continue to focus on their ‘doing’ in order to get into the kingdom of God. This is the old and unsuccessful way. Jesus changed the old and opened a new way. Now if you try to combine the two, it will be like patching up and old fabric with a piece of new fabric, or like storing new wine in an old wineskin. Result is disastrous.

Fasting was a sign of sorrow and grief which accompanied the wearing of sack cloth and sitting in ashes etc. Fasting as a ritual is practiced by the religious. It is characteristic of the dispensation of Law. As per the words of Jesus it will be characteristic of the Church age because the bridegroom Jesus Christ will be gone for awhile. While He was with the disciples on the earth they had no need to be grieved or sorrowful. The world will hate them as it hated the Lord Jesus Christ. But He has promised to return for His bride the Church, to take her with Him.  Once again, from that point, the need for fasting will be absolutely gone.

Oppressive Religion

The king sent for Moses and Aaron and told them, ” Now I have really sinned! My people and I are guilty, and the LORD is right. We can’t stand any more of this thunder and hail. Please ask the LORD to make it stop. Your people can go–you don’t have to stay in Egypt any longer.” (Exo.9:27-28 CEV)

The Pharaoh of Egypt was the god of a religious system prevalent at that time. Discrimination and oppression was the order of the day. Political tyranny and the unquenchable thirst for power was evident then as it is now. Rulers went to any length to make sure that their position was safe. They display fake religiosity and piety to get what they want. In some sense they feel they are gods or at least on par with deity. Billions of people in this world are ruled by groups of such monstrous potentates, both political and religious. They prevent their people from knowing and living the truth.

“Let My People Go”

But the God of the Universe is demanding that they free God’s creation from their selfish control. He says, “Let my people go” so that they will worship Me their Creator. Even religions try to hide the truth and misguide people. Millions today are confused and are uncertain about God’s purpose for their lives.

In the book of Exodus in the Bible, we have the history of the people of Israel under the rule of Pharaoh. God blessed them in the land of Egypt and their prosperity aroused the hatred of the people of the land. The Egyptians felt threatened by the flourishing families of the people of God. The Egyptians could not understand the promise or the covenant of God with the Jewish people. Their minds were set on the political superiority and stability of their kingdom. They could not understand that God had better plans for His people than taking over the Pharaoh’s kingdom.

False Repentance

Pharaoh was not sincere in his repentance, though he admitted ” Now I have really sinned“. He has been sinning at other times too. But the reason behind his owning up responsibility is seen there itself- “We can’t stand any more of this thunder and hail.”  He just wanted relief from the plague and nothing more. This is how political leaders are. They have their own agenda and all they do is to get that accomplished. There is no consideration of justice, fairness or truthfulness. They forget their accountability as shepherds or overseers or elected representatives of God’s people. They repress the freedom of the people under their care and prevent them from coming to the knowledge of truth and light. Some religions are repressive too. They put strict warnings on their people against exercising their freedom to weigh evidences and making choices. This is nothing but religious slavery and the unfolding of a wicked agenda. God is going to come heavily up on all such oppressive leadership and set His people free so that they can worship Him the true God. Leaders are accountable for the way their followers choose to go.

Consequences of one man’s sin

“Israel has sinned and broken my covenant! They have stolen some of the things that I commanded must be set apart for me. And they have not only stolen them but have lied about it and hidden the things among their own belongings. That is why the Israelites are running from their enemies in defeat. For now Israel itself has been set apart for destruction. I will not remain with you any longer unless you destroy the things among you that were set apart for destruction.” Joshua 7:11-12 NLT

Sin restricts God’s presence

The defeat at Ai was far more ridiculous than the military strategy employed to conquer Jericho. After the fall of the Jericho wall the Israelites were in a hurry to conquer the next town Ai. There was no instruction from the Lord on how to go about with the attack. God was obviously silent and was holding Himself from helping them. Yet, in their own enthusiasm they concluded that it was like a child’s play and needed just a couple of them. But the result was disastrous. Joshua was instructed to practice the presence of God in their fight against the enemy. He was reminded about the need for obedience and holiness within the community for a continuous experience of the presence of God. Sin was to be taken seriously and never to be over looked, no matter how insignificant and harmless it may appear to be.

Sin must be dealt with before God’s power can be experienced

The entire community had to bear the brunt of one man’s sin. Achan and his family along with all their belongings had to be removed to cleanse the community. This is seemingly harsh as it was practiced during the Old Testament days. We must get rid of things in our lives, habits or lifestyle or temperaments or anger or whatever, that are displeasing to God. Thank God that we have a substitute in Jesus who bore it on His body and died for us. Now we can confess our sins and repent in obedience to experience the power of God’s living presence.


Disciple and the Discipler

“”Can a blind man lead a blind man? Will they not both fall into a pit? A student is not above his teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like his teacher…. “No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. Each tree is recognized by its own fruit. People do not pick figs from thornbushes, or grapes from briers” (Lk.6:39-40; 43-44).

Discipleship is the process in which one disciplines his/her life to be a good/Godly person who can bear good fruit. Every Christian is called to a process of discipleship-a disciple first and then a discipler or disciple builder.

Like begets the like

This is a natural principle. Its true in the case of discipling as well. A disciple grows to be like his/her teacher or mentor.

Leader Leads the Way

A discipler is one who knows what he is talking about. He himself should be a disciple of the Lord first. If he is blind he will fall in the gutter along with his disciple.

A discipler should live a disciplined life and set an example for the disciple. He must clear the log in his own eye before he can clean the dust in his disciple’s eye. He should not be a hypocrite.

A discipler should build on the solid foundation that is Jesus and His Word. He should guide the disciple to do the same, to see not just good fruits, but lasting fruits.

Someone said,

“A Leader is one who knows the way, goes the way and shows the way.”

Rules of the Kingdom

“If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ do that. And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ lend to ‘sinners,’ expecting to be repaid in full.” (Lk.6:32-34)

The rules of the Kingdom of God where unlike that of any other. All the kingdoms, governments, religions and philosophies that human history has seen, were the exercise of human energies in pursuit of the ideal situation. Their rules were imperfect and biased, subject to change. But the rules Jesus laid down were never to change.

Don’t follow the crowd follow the King

The King sets the rules of His kingdom and the subjects just follow. When the trend is to follow the crowd we need to consciously follow the King. Offenders are traitors though they live inside the kingdom territory, and they will face judgement. We need supernatural assistance to keep the rules of the kingdom. Keep looking at the King who is leading the way and keep following.

Don’t try to grab give away

When you are tempted to hate, curse or avenge, remember, you are called to be radical, a trail blazer, to salt the earth and light the world. Be willing to give away, even your rights. We are not to be commoners for we are princes and princesses. We are to follow the example of our Father, the eternal King.

“But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful” (Lk.6:35-36).

Someone said,

To do evil for good is devilish, to do evil for evil is beastly, to do good for good is normal, to do good for evil is divine.