Category Archives: September

Get back on the track

In the eighteenth year of his reign, after he had purified the land and the Temple, Josiah appointed Shaphan son of Azaliah, Maaseiah the governor of Jerusalem, and Joah son of Joahaz, the royal historian, to repair the Temple of the Lord his God….

While they were bringing out the money collected at the Lord’s Temple, Hilkiah the priest found the Book of the Law of the Lord that was written by Moses. (2Chr.34:1-18 NLB)

The Christian communities around the world have slipped into a kind of sluggishness. Many have lost the joy of their salvation, struggling to cope up with the world. Several have succumbed to the temptation of following the crowd. The demarcation between them and the world has faded away. The Church has been compromising on the teachings of the Word of God to satisfy those who are trying to satisfy their own flesh. There is more of mammon worship than worship of the true God. (But, glory be to God, there is a remnant spread all over the world, that still honor God and follow His Word.)

There is only one way to experience the joy of the Lord-get back into the fellowship. That is why there is a constant call from God to His wayward children to return to Him. Some of the ancient rulers reinforced this in their kingdom. One of such was king Josiah of Judah. He ascended the throne as an eight year old lad but he desired to follow the Lord like his forefather David. So he destroyed everything in his life and the life of the nation that was an abomination to the Lord.

Get rid of whatever is detesting to the Lord

It is not a literal instruction to the Church today. This does not mean that you go around destroying others’ property, attack religious places or cause inconvenience to others. We need to understand the principle. How do we decide? Go to His Word. As you read and meditate the Spirit will convince you of things in your own life that need to be thrown out or destroyed. Just obey. There is nothing more pleasing to God than to see His children obey Him, because obedience comes out of trust. Josiah did just that. A cleansing is required before the joy of the Lord can reclaim our lives.

Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him; for God’s temple is sacred, and you are that temple. (1Cor.3:16-17 NIV)

Repair and Restore the Temple

The temple of God represents the worship of God. The worship of God has been interrupted, lost its meaning or perhaps stopped in your life. This needs immediate attention, repair and restoration. When the worship of the Lord is restored the glory of the Lord will continue to descend up on the temple in such a way that others would see it.

Seek the Law of the Lord

The restoration of worship will naturally lead to the rediscovery of God’s book of Law, the Bible. The high priest discovered the book of the Law and introduced it to the  king and officials. That revolutionized the lives of the people. Though it did not last for long before the king died and people slipped back into sin, the principle for restoration and spiritual growth remains the same.

Rid your life of every sin. Don’t try to define your actions or justify them. The simple formula is to keep away from whatever that raises a doubt or question in your mind. Read the Bible, meditate on it. Follow the Law of the Lord. And when you fall, gather yourself up and get back on the track as early as possible.

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God’s Work and His Workers

The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honor, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching. For the Scripture says, “Do not muzzle the ox while it is treading out the grain,” and “The worker deserves his wages.” Do not entertain an accusation against an elder unless it is brought by two or three witnesses. Those who sin are to be rebuked publicly, so that the others may take warning. I charge you, in the sight of God and Christ Jesus and the elect angels, to keep these instructions without partiality, and to do nothing out of favoritism.

Do not be hasty in the laying on of hands, and do not share in the sins of others. Keep yourself pure. (1Tim.5:17-22)

Christendom is plagued with leaders who portray larger-than-life images, demand celebrity status and live in royal style. Their point is that they are the ‘royal priesthood’, ‘princes’ and ‘princesses’, children of the King of kings and the ‘heirs’ of God. But they forget that they are ‘co-heirs’ with Jesus Christ, who emptied Himself of all His glory as the Creator God to take up on Himself the form of one of His own creation, that too, the likeness of the sinful humans. There are arguments about the status of a worker in God’s vineyard. Paul reminds Timothy to be careful about the work of God as it involves different people handling different responsibilities.

Honor Good Workers

The body of Christ is not an autocratic set up. Perhaps it is close to a democratic style except for the over all submission to the authority of God. It is a team of workers that are on the job, almost like the honey bees. Each one has his/her role to play, both initiative as well as supportive. That is why Paul is using the analogy of the body with different parts working together. However, there is an element of mutual accountability that should keep the work going.

Paul reminds Timothy to honor good workers, workers who do their jobs well. These are people who are committed to the call and work without selfish motives. There is special mention about those who are preaching and teaching the Word of God. The honor is in financial terms, double the pay of an ordinary worker. Paul refers to Deuteronomy 25:4 in his quote about the oxen that is threshing corn. He states that such workers are worthy of their pay. He recommends in Gal.6:6 that “Those who are taught the Word of God should provide for their teachers, sharing all good things with them”. He also argues that “the Lord ordered that those who preach the Good News should be supported by those who benefit from it”. (1Cor.9:14)

Rebuke Bad Workers

It is the collective responsibility of the Church to rebuke the erring servants. Discipline of the body is so important as we see in the Word but it is the most neglected responsibility. Leaders refuse to discipline people for fear of losing members. There should be a mutual accountability among the servants of God who check on each other for their walking in godliness. Paul recommends public rebuke of the erring worker so that it will serve as a warning to all.

However, there is a line of caution! In honoring the good worker as well as rebuking the bad one there should not be any partiality or favoritism. It is possible to reward someone who pleases you and to frame someone whom you don’t like. People pleasers will get favors and those who have difference of opinion will suffer. So, don’t jump to conclusions before allegations are authenticated.

Appoint Mature Workers

Much of the problems can be avoided if there is proper screening at the time of appointment. Read through 1Tim.3 and other passages where the qualifications of workers are mentioned. Look for faithful people as Paul reminds Timothy in 2Tim.2:2. By appointing unworthy workers we will be party to their sins and the impending judgment. So Paul warns not to be hasty, biased, or careless in appointing people for the ministry.

Personally we need to keep away from sin. Timothy was also reminded to take care of his health because our body is the Temple of the Holy Spirit. (1Cor.3:16-17; 6:19). The suggestion to use a little wine as a medicine for his frequent stomach problem is not an excuse for habitual drinking. In all these, the real nature of a servant of God will be revealed through the years and it may lead him to condemnation or commendation accordingly.

Hating What God Hates

The LORD says: Don’t brag about your wisdom or strength or wealth. If you feel you must brag, then have enough sense to brag about worshiping me, the LORD. What I like best is showing kindness, justice, and mercy to everyone on earth.
Someday I will punish the nations of Egypt, Edom, Ammon, and Moab, and the tribes of the desert. The men of these nations are circumcised, but they don’t worship me. And it’s the same with you people of Judah. Your bodies are circumcised, but your hearts are unchanged. The LORD said: Listen to me, you people of Israel. Don’t follow the customs of those nations who become frightened when they see something strange happen in the sky.But you, Israel’s God, created all things, and you chose Israel to be your very own. Your name is the LORD All-Powerful. (Jer.9:23-26;10:1-2, 16)

This morning I went through the book of Jeremiah 9:23-10:16. The Lord is reminding His people through the prophet, in very strong terms, two key issues. These are two sins that God hates. First is ‘hypocrisy’ and the second ‘idolatry’. Several places in the Scripture we find instructions and warnings to keep away from these sins. Jesus often rebuked the religious folks for their hypocrisy.

Hypocrisy

Hypocrisy is spirituality without Godliness or Christianity without Christlikeness. This promotes external religion instead of internal reformation. People wear their religion these days and its hollow. The qualities of our God, like justice, mercy, love and kindness, should be reflected through our lives. We must allow Christ to reshape us into His likeness.

Idolatry

Idolatry is not only bowing before and idol. Giving God’s place to anything else or anyone else too is idolatry. It is creation orientedness rather than Creator orientedness. We tend to give more thought and prominence to the creation of God than God Himself. We are quick to blame others for idolatry but ignore our own practice of it.

God wants us to hate these sins as He hates them.