Friday, November 30, 2012

Salvation first, Success second

UV 595/10,000 Salvation first, Success second. “Save now, I beseech thee, O Lord: O Lord, I beseech thee, send now prosperity.” Psalm 118 v 25 As believers, we must first seek the salvation of the Lord. The desire for salvation exists in every individual and nation. People seek it in different ways. But, it is the Lord alone who can provide for the salvation of our souls. We need to give first priority to obtain salvation of our souls. Having obtained salvation by believing in the sacrificial death and glorious resurrection of Jesus the Christ, we can then go on to seek prosperity or success from the Lord. But, unfortunately today the desire for salvation is subordinated to the desire for success. Success becomes the demi-god before whom people in all nations are prepared to make any sacrifice. In fact, salvation will lead to building our character in order to handle success. Most people in history have been destroyed in soul, mind and body by their extraordinary success. In order to obtain success, they had mortgaged their souls. Therefore, we must seek His Kingdom or His rule over our souls and lives through studying and obeying His Word and all things related to success and prosperity will be added in due time to us. The word “ beseech” does not mean that we beg the Lord but that we humble ourselves in faith, acknowledging that we cannot accomplish neither salvation nor success on our own strength. Many people seek salvation by renouncing the world and punishing their bodies. But, the Lord does not desire that we punish ourselves. Instead, He desires that first, our souls are saved followed by blessing us with Shalom or wholeness, blessedness, peace, success, prosperity, health and well being. Success constantly breeds a sense of discontentment. As Henry Ford said, a successful person always wants “ a little more.” Instead, we must be contented with what God has given us and have a divine discontent with the growth of our soul or spirit to maturity. “Prosperity” does not merely imply financial success. It means that the Lord will push forward our plans. He will establish the work of our hands. He will supernaturally bless us with a measure of well being in spirit, mind and body. He will give us peace within and peace all round in our relationships. He will prosper our journey so that we reach our goals or our destination. Our need will be more than met. He will give us breakthroughs in the struggles we face in life. He may not remove the difficulties but He will increase our strength to confront the challenges of life. Our primary need is salvation, our secondary need is success or prosperity. It is like saying, the primary need of our bodies is breathing the air; food and water are the secondary need. When we focus on the first, the Lord will focus on granting us the second. Prateep V Philip

Thursday, November 29, 2012

The Lord of Affirmation

UV 594/10,000 The Lord of Affirmation “ Here is my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen one in whom I delight; I will put my Spirit on him and he will bring justice to the nations.” Isaiah 42 v 1 God is the Lord of affirmation. He affirms us. He affirms every one of His servants in these words: “ here is my servant whom I uphold, my chosen one in whom I delight.” He has chosen us to believe, understand and know that He is God. In order to make us understand and to redeem us, He sent His Son Jesus in the form of a servant. When we choose to believe in the chosen one, Jesus, we too become servants of God whom He upholds. He strengthens us from within, from above and from behind and from all around to face the great challenges and risks of serving Him in a fallen world. When we delight in Him and in the visible emblem of the Invisible God, the Word in flesh and the Word in print, He too delights in us as a lover delights in beholding His beloved. He delights or enjoys our company or fellowship. He delights in our thoughts, words and deeds as we anchor our lives in Him. When we choose to delight in the things that delight the heart of God, then God or the joy of the Lord becomes our strength, our source of power. The Lord promises to anoint us or put His Spirit upon us. He empowers us to open the spiritually blind eyes of people, to set free captives from the prison of sin and guilt. He equips us to break the chains of people and release them from the dungeons of darkness of this world. The Holy Spirit teaches us what to speak and what to do in every context and situation. Our task as servants of God is to take justice or deliverance to people living in the kingdom of darkness and bring them into the kingdom of light. When we take the Word and the gospel to the nations of the world, we are taking the justice and mercy of the Lord to all four corners. Recently, the Lord affirmed me by saying that “ I am pleased with you as you are distributing my holy Word to the nations and from shore to shore.” The holy Word of God, namely the books of law of the Old Covenant and the books of love of the New Covenant, taken together embody the justice of the Lord for all mankind. He says therein, “ I do not condemn or punish anybody. I am ready to affirm every one who acknowledges me. If you reject me, you condemn yourself.” This in effect is the justice of the Lord. All are accepted and no one is exempted. Prateep V Philip

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Abundance in Famine

UV 593/10,000 Solution for Recession “They shall not be ashamed in the evil time: and in the days of famine they shall be satisfied.” Psalms 37 v 19 The Lord protects us in the times of evil and provides for us in times of famine. So much so, we will not be ashamed or in peril of perishing. The Lord will honour our faith by vindicating us. He will induce His power and wisdom in us. He will set in motion miracles when our known supply lines dry up. When Elijah was facing famine, the Lord sent a raven to feed him by the brook of Kidron. When the brook dried up, He sent him to a widow to perform the miracle of abundance out of the scarce resources of that widow. Many critical thinkers have realized that the USA and European Union countries are facing frequent economic and other crises on account of the famine of faith in these countries and the fact that much of the population have moved away ( in their beliefs and lifestyle) from the Lord who had prospered and preserved them in adversity. Evil besets or ensnares the ungodly suddenly just as fish are caught in a net or birds are snared. A person may think that everything is going swimmingly for him or her. But, all of a sudden he or she is caught in an evil net. A person may think he or she is high flyer and his career or business is literally taking off the ground. But, suddenly their calculations are proved to be wrong, their many plans become illusions. But, the Lord knows the days and ways of the upright in faith, those who desire to stay connected with Him. He knows what is their need well ahead of time and sends people, circumstances and ministering spirits to deliver them from the snares ahead. The Lord plans to deliver their souls from death and to satisfy them in a year of drought and famine or in a time of recession. When the entire Middle East was facing drought and starvation, God raised up Joseph ahead of time to be the one who provides wheat and sustenance to his father Jacob and his eleven brothers to preserve the family from death and destruction. In a time of prayer last week, the Lord revealed, “ I have done countless miracles for you.” He has indeed preserved us in a time of evil. When I recovered from momentary unconsciousness in the world’s first human bomb assassination of the former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, the first thought that struck my mind was “ What an evil world this is?” Then, I cried out in pain, “ Jesus, Jesus – save us.” Jesus is indeed the source of salvation, provision and preservation. He will cover us with His feathers and His Shekinah glory. He has prospered us even in this time of recession. Prateep V Philip

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Understanding and Exercising Authority

UV 592/10,000 Understanding and Exercising Authority “ For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, “Go” and he goes, and that one, “ Come,” and he comes. I say to my servant, “ Do this ,” and he does it.” Matthew 8 v 9 Most of the time people were amazed by the things Jesus said and did. But, here is one occasion, Jesus was amazed at what the Roman centurion said. He was astonished at the extent of his faith. He did not throw his weight as a person of authority belonging to the ruling class would when speaking to a member of a race under subjection to Roman rule. He addressed him as, “ Lord.” He humbled himself before Jesus knowing He had a higher calling though he did not seem to occupy any office. He was placing himself voluntarily under the authority and lordship of Jesus. We too do so when we understand and trust the authority and lordship of Jesus Christ. The centurion was a man in authority and under authority. He needed to obey those placed above him even as those below him obeyed him implicitly. He knew that from the common people to the soldier to the centurion to the emperor Caesar –all were under and subject to the authority of God. He could have thrown up his hands and think that the servant’s sickness was not caused by him and he could do nothing about it and leave him to his fate. But, he showed concern and compassion for the servant’s well being and exercised his faith to seek healing at the feet of Jesus. It meant that he made himself accountable to God in the performance of his duties and in the conduct of his life. The word “ authority” comes from the word “ author”. Here was a man in authority confronting the very Author of life, the author and finisher of our faith. As the title suggests, a centurion has command over a hundred soldiers. He could have commanded Jesus to come and heal his paralysed servant. But he realized for one thing that his writ or for that matter the writ or authority of the state or of Caesar did not run in the realm of the spirit. He drew a parallel between the human authority he exercised and the spiritual authority Jesus exercised. Apparently, he did not realize that he was addressing the Commander in Chief, the General of generals of the entire host or army of God or else he would have fallen down and worshipped Him. But, he understood that Jesus is a spiritual commander having authority over the spiritual realms even as he himself had authority over the physical. If he commanded a soldier working under him to go and fetch or do a particular thing, the latter would have no choice but to obey. He could have even sent a soldier to bring Jesus to his camp but he knew and respected the spiritual authority of Jesus. Just as a commander would know the extent and limits of his authority, the centurion knew that Jesus would know what had caused his servant’s illness and what would heal it. He knew Jesus just had to say the mere word, “ Go” and the illness would leave his servant. While Jesus Himself showed willingness to visit the centurion’s house to heal the servant in person, the centurion did not think it was necessary. He did not deign himself worthy to have Jesus come under his roof. His humility touched Jesus even as his faith astonished Him. Jesus rewarded the centurion’s humility and faith by saying, “ it will happen as you believe.” As Jesus spoke the words, a ministering spirit servant of Jesus went and touched the servant. The servant was healed that very hour. Isn’t it amazing that at this very hour, we could be the channel to deliver God’s healing and meaning to others He has placed under our authority? Today, He has given us the measure of spiritual authority according to the measure of our faith. Prateep V Philip

Transformation of Patterns

UV 591/10,000 Transformation of Patterns “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then, you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is- His good, pleasing and perfect will.” Romans 12 v 2 In modern management for the past decade or more, a catch phrase that has become quite popular is “ paradigm shift”. But, despite this emphasis on paradigm shift, things only changed for the worse over the decades. This uni-verse states that it is not enough to shift a pattern or paradigm of thought, emotion or action upward or downward but it is necessary to transform the pattern of thoughts, emotions, actions and relationships of the world. The pattern is a word that means something with a repetitive feature. In other words, a pattern is basically a habit. Our habits need to be transformed. The transformation begins with a change in the pattern of our thoughts. In terms of our relationships, are we giving first priority to the Lord, His Word and His work in our lives? Recently, the Lord spoke to me with an equation on which we should base our habits: H = ASK. It means that a habit or pattern of excellence in our lives must be based on the right ordering of attitudes, skills and knowledge. When we are continually positive in our thoughts and beat the negatives, it hardens into a habit of thought or in short, an attitude. We should continually cling to good and let go of evil in our lives. At the emotional level, we should be continually joyful and let go of sadness. In this manner, our lives will be characterized by a pattern or habit of joy. At the action level, we focus on being strong and beating weakness. This pattern when practiced continually becomes a life of determination, discipline and victory. Our communication pattern will be transformed when we continually practice positive speaking and get rid of negative words. A little difference in attitudes will produce a big difference in results. A little difference in the attitudes of Abel and Cain led to Abel’s sacrifice being good, pleasing and acceptable to God while Cain and his sacrifice was rejected. It is the difference in their attitude that made one a disgruntled and cursed farmer and the other a contented and blessed shepherd. When our attitudes are transformed on the pattern of attitude first, skill next and knowledge last, our lives will be transformed. In the topsy-turvy fallen world, the pattern is reversed in modern education as KSA: knowledge first, skill next and attitude if at all is given any attention, it comes last. Our Lord God is interested primarily in our attitudes. The sum of our attitudes is our heart. Scripture repeatedly emphasizes that while men look at the external appearance, the Lord sees the heart of people. Once He is pleased with our attitudes, He will bless our efforts and release His gifting in and through our lives. Prateep V Philip

Sunday, November 25, 2012

No Man's Debtor and Everyone's Rewarder

UV 590/10,000 No Man’s Debtor “And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life.” Matthew 19 v 29 Many people think that it is a very hard teaching or direction by Jesus that we leave our houses, brothers, sisters, parents, children or fields for His sake. It implies that we need to give priority to the Word and the work of the Lord. That is tantamount in the eyes of the Lord to leaving behind our close family relationships, our houses and fields. The other day in prayer there was such a revelation concerning me that as I had left my family and possessions behind. When I examined myself, I found that I had not literally done so but in my spirit, I had given first place or top priority to the Lord in my life. We need to welcome the Trinity into our homes. The Lord said, “you have always welcomed us into your home. You are taking pains to pray, to read and study the Word and to share the good news of hope to the hopeless. You are teaching the faithful to grow.” The word “ left” does not literally mean leaving physically but it means such a distancing in our thoughts, emotions and actions so that the Lord occupies the first place all the time in our lives. There is no conflict of loyalties or dilemma in our minds when we need to make hard choices: whom to please – the Lord God or the spouse, the Lord God or our boss, the Lord God or our parents, the Lord God or our brothers and sisters, the Lord God or our children or colleagues. We leave these relationships and our attachments to our earthly possessions in order to cleave to the Lord. When we obey the Lord and give Him first place in our lives, He promises to reward our faith and our work. He will give us a rate of return that is 100 to 1. The time, efforts and resources that we expend on the work of the Lord, He will multiply a hundred times. We will receive this blessing of multiplication even in this lifetime. We will receive our portion of the earth’s blessings in proportion to our need, our faith and our work. We will have an extended family consisting of the people of God He brings in contact with us as our spiritual fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters and children. Our houses and our fields will be blessed. Fields in today’s context does not literally mean farms but the fields or professions in which we are working. The way He will bless us is like a mystery gift wrapped in secrecy and surprise but at the apt moment, it will unfold and unwrap itself to show that the Lord is faithful to His promise. Beyond the rewards or wages of a workman of the Lord in His vineyard, the Lord will give us eternal life. We will receive our inheritance in the kingdom God has prepared for us from the foundation of the world. Eye has not seen nor ear heard the wonders of the inheritance the Lord has reserved for us. In short, it is beyond human perception or comprehension. Whatever we do in the name of the Lord and for His glory or satisfaction is “ for His sake.” He in turn as He likes to be no man’s debtor will reward us many times over, in much greater measure than we can ask or expect. Prateep V Philip

The Root, the Branch and the Dew

UV 589/10,000 The Root and the Dew “ My root was spread out by the waters, and the dew lay all night upon my branch” Job 29 v 19 Our root is our “ souls”, our minds, our consciousness. When our minds, implying our intellect, conscious and subconscious, our emotions and will, are growing deep roots into the subsoil of the Word of God- implying that we take efforts to understand the inner spiritual meaning of the Word and apply it in our lives, the “ dew” of the Lord will lie upon our “ branch” or upon all that we are, all that we do and all that we have. The “waters” are the living waters of the Holy Spirit and the Word of God. When we saturate our minds with the Holy Spirit and the Word, rivers of life-giving, life-enhancing and life-empowering water will flow out of our minds, our mouths and our lives as a natural outflow. Our “ branch” or our life needs to be grafted onto the root of David, Jesus Christ. When it is so grafted, it will be evergreen and live forever. The “dew of Hermon” or the dew of Heaven will make our “ branch” or our lives fruitful. The “ dew” is the moisture in the atmosphere that condenses on leaves and branches of plants. It has a cooling effect in the summer heat. It softens, renews and re-vitalizes the plants. Similarly, the Lord promises that when we are rooted in the Word and the Word spreads out to influence all spheres or domains of our lives, then the dew of His compassion will lie or rest upon us. His assuring presence will comfort us. The dew of His favour will be upon all that we do, giving us success in all aspects of life. Our need, physical, spiritual, social, emotional and financial will be met. Even in the darkness of night or unfavourable circumstances, He will bless us. Even when we are resting, He will provide for us. When the dew forms, it lies not just on one branch but on all branches of a tree or plant. Similarly, all that we do and are will be blessed. The dew is a symbol or metaphor of God’s grace. Just as a tree is covered or clothed with moisture by the morning dew, we will be clothed with God’s grace. No aspect of our lives will remain untouched. But, just as dew forms in the darkest hour before dawn, we need to wait for the appointed hour for God’s grace to manifest in different areas of our lives. Just as dew is formed every night but in different proportions depending on the weather, the dew of the Lord’s grace and mercy will be upon us all the days of our lives. Indeed, the “ tender mercies of the Lord never ceases.” They are fresh every morning and are certain. Just as the mercy of the Lord never ceases, we should never cease to bear spiritual fruit for the glory or the honour and satisfaction of the Lord. Prateep V Philip

Friday, November 23, 2012

The Lion and the Root

UV 588/10,000 Revelation 5 v 5 Lion and Root “Then one of the elders said to me, “ Do not weep! See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed. He is able to open the scroll and its seven seals.” This uni-verse was spotlighted by the Holy Spirit in a time of prayer last evening. The elder referred to in the uni-verse is the elder who belongs to the heavenly council of God. That elder tells each of us “ Do not weep!” Whatever causes us to weep today or be worried and depressed, whether it is our family problems, our health issues, our work related challenges, persecution on account of our faith, harassment by others, the Lord is in control. Our worries need to turn into worship, our fears into faith, our hope into fulfillment, our mourning into laughter, our tears into joy. He is the Lion of Judah. The lion is a kingly beast, a symbol of power, majesty, justice and triumph. Judah was given the departing blessing on the death-bed of Jacob that he was a lion and out of his descendants, a ceaseless line of kings or lions would arise till the day of Judgement. Accordingly, David was born out of that lineage. Jesus though He was born as a descendant of David, pre-existed David and hence is called the Root as well as Offspring of David. We need not be sad or fearful of events to come or of any other issue or challenge in life, as Jesus will arise on our behalf as a Lion of Judah. His roar will disperse the opposition. Whatever issue we are facing will melt in His holy presence. The only thing we need to do is to “ See” or to focus on Jesus and realize His sovereign power. Since Judah was a mere man like us with his own strengths and weaknesses, Jesus as the Lion of Judah knows our natural selves. He understands our natural inclinations. He remains a Lamb towards us and a lion towards our adversaries, spiritual and mortal. He is a good Shepherd toward us who love Him and a righteous King towards others who should fear Him just as all creatures fear the lion. He who is victorious forever will wrest victory for us. He will not allow us to become victims. He has given us victory over the 5 big D’s in life: death, difficulties, disease, disaster and debility. He will transform our weaknesses into strengths. He will change our failure into success. He is the one who has access to the deep secrets of God and the counsels of God. He won the right to open the scroll with the seven seals, one by one, to unfold the will of God operating through all of history by the way He lived and the way He died and the way He rose again. The Book of Revelation reveals the seven seals that have to be opened over time before the day of Judgement. There are seven days in a week, seven continents on the globe, seven oceons, seven colours in the rainbow and a scroll with seven seals. This implies that Jesus is Lord of time and space. As the Light of the World, He splits light into seven different colours to glorify God in and through our lives in seven different ways: the spiritual, emotional, physical, intellectual, social, financial and creative aspects of our lives. He is the Root of each of us. We become a righteous fruit bearing branch as we are rooted and grafted in Jesus and the Word. We are invincible in Christ and hence, we must be overflowing with joy and exalting the Lion of Judah, the King of Kings. He is the taproot while all other aspects of life including family, career, friends, ambitions and so on are just adventitious roots. Jesus, though He is the offspring of David, was the source of victory of David against his foes or those who bore ill will towards him: his own brothers, Saul, Goliath, his own sin and lust, his political enemies, his own children who rebelled and conspired against him. He gave David victory and stood with him through thick and thin. Similarly, the Lord God as an all-powerful lion acts on our behalf to help us triumph against the Goliaths in our lives. Like the shepherd David, we must carry our sling, namely , prayer and five stones: worship, intercession, supplication, confession and thanksgiving. We must also graduate like David from moving on to the more lethal weapon –the sword or the Word of God. It is the innumerable victories that David obtained by the grace of God that inspired him to compose many Psalms. He will give us the key of David: the key to success in life, the key to unlock the secrets of the Lord. We may not be poets or gifted musicians but we too need to write our own personal Psalm, a song of praise and thanksgiving to the Lion of Judah. As the offspring or spiritual progeny of David and his kind of faith- an intimate relationship with the Sovereign God, our hearts should for ever be a wellspring of worship. Instead of weeping we ought to be rejoicing all the time and in all circumstances. Prateep V Philip

Thursday, November 22, 2012

What is Written and What is not

UV 587/10,000 It is Written… “From one man He made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the earth; and He determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live” Acts 17 v 26 It is amazing that though there are so many cultural differences and differences in belief and lifestyle of different races, people everywhere are fundamentally the same with the same basic principles of life holding good in every nation. It underlines the fact that we all descended from one man- Adam. The concept of pre-determination is a much misunderstood idea. What part of our lives, if at all is pre-determined? What part of our lives do we have control over? This uni-verse states that God made every nation of men. Just as we inhabit the earth, the Lord God should inhabit us. He is the author of life as well as of salvation of mankind. As the author, He wrote the instructions in the first cell that then divided, multiplied and diversified into the human being, the crowning glory of all of His creation. Hence, it is written into our DNA the instructions on the development of our physical being. This uni-verse also states that the Lord has determined the times and the exact places where we should live. He has written the bounds of our habitations and our lifetime. He has set us in own little Adens. We need not blame Adam alone now, for people everywhere in every generation have proven their capacity to turn Eden into a den. Hence, there are two types of writing of pre-determination: what the Lord God has written in our DNA, what He has written regarding where we should live and the times when we should live. The third type of writing is what we ourselves of our own free will write with our thoughts, words, emotions and actions. We are free to write our own goals and to pursue these. We write our own eternal and earthly destiny by the choices we make within the boundaries God has set. When we surrender the pen of our faith to the Lord, He helps us write the kind of life that He alone can inspire. It is tragic that many through history and space have surrendered their precious lives to the fictional control of stars, numbers and such other figments of the human imagination. Prateep V Philip

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Spiritual Life as a Scientific Experience

UV 583/10,000 Spiritual Life a Scientific or Empiritical Experience “And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.” The earth was in the beginning like the other eight planets, formless, void or empty and dark. The eight planets remain lifeless to this day and are the control planets to show what the Earth would be like but for the plan of God to populate it. Every blade of grass, every drop of rain, every peal of laughter, every whiff of wind bear the fingerprint of the Creator. The Spirit of God moved or hovered upon the face of the waters to separate the light from darkness, the night from day, the land from sea. The other day, I heard a chemistry teacher explain that water alone of all the liquids is most dense at 4 degrees centigrade and hence, sinks to sustain life below the surface even when the surface is frozen at 0 degrees centigrade. Can any scientist explain why such an exception was made in nature? No wonder Einstein wrote that " there are only two ways to live: as if everything is a miracle or nothing is a miracle." Even today the Spirit moves upon the depth of our souls to separate reason and doubt, hope and fear, love and hatred, joy and sadness. But for the Spirit breathing life into our spiritual nostrils, we would be leading shapeless, directionless and dark lives. It is impossible to understand history or philosophy or science without an understanding of who God really is. Every verse in Scripture is like the hypothesis of a scientist. It is to be tested empirically in our real-life experience just as a scientist does experiments to prove a hypothesis. No one is big enough to experiment with truth but every one can experience truth. However, short or long our lives are, we will find time and space and opportunity to experience truth and the move of the Spirit of God upon our souls. It is such a great privilege to have the Creator of the universe interfacing and interacting within the depth of our souls and spirits to give a shape to our lives, a direction to our steps, a vision to our eyes. He fills and fulfills us in every way. He moves on the surface of the depth of our beings: our inner thoughts, our deep desires,our deepest feelings, our hope and longing. Without Him we will be as lifeless and empty as the eight control planets but with Him, we will flourish and thrive. He separates us from the rest of creation to be the crowning glory of the Creator. He leaves the choice with each one of us: whether to flourish or to perish. He spoke to the universe: “ let there be light” but to us He says, “ let there be faith.” Prateep V Philip

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Fuel for Faith

UV 582/10,000 Fuel for Faith Luke 24 v 32 They asked each other, “ Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?” As the resurrected Jesus talked to the two disciples on the road to Emmaus, His words burnt into their hearts and convicted them that it was the truth that He spoke. The seven miles of their journey would have taken more than an hour. Similarly, we must each spend an hour each day listening to the Lord opening the Scriptures to us. It might even be while we are travelling to some place that we listen to the Word. It is the Word of God burning in us that makes us lamps in clay pots for the world. The Holy Spirit will illumine the Word to our hearts. Even after all the dramatic events of the preceding Passion week, the disciples could not believe what they heard. They were distressed and confused. But, when Jesus taught them, they were touched to the hearts. Their understanding expanded. Their faith quickened or came alive. Till that moment they only thought Jesus was only a prophet, powerful in word and deed. Their eyes opened to recognize that it was truly Jesus who had been speaking to them. They now received Him along with His Word as the Lord. At that time Jesus disappeared from their sight. Like the disciples we, too, blinded by too much reason and too little faith are not able to recognize the presence of God in our lives. We are not able to discern the meaning of different events in our lives. We are unable to recognize when Jesus Himself is talking with us. But, when He speaks with us, we will sense a burning of our hearts. The Word is fuel for our faith. It is as if the flame of truth has been lit in our darkened hearts and minds, giving us a sense of purpose, direction, meaning and power. We can now lead lives that are powerful in word and deed. Whatever road we are travelling on,we will realize it is part of the journey back to God, the journey to eternity and Heaven. Instead of Jesus disappearing from our sight, we can now ask Him to tarry or stay with us. Prateep V Philip

The Good Confession

UV 580/10,000 The Good Confession 2 Timothy 4 v 7 " I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith." St Paul towards the end of his life, could make the good confession that he had fought the good fight. He had started by fighting against the faith and being zealous in persecuting the early Christians but once the light of the Lord opened his eyes, he remained focussed on the mission of spreading the gospel. In his personal walk, he focussed as a runner would on the imperishable crown of eternal life. His faith was unshakeable and His enthusiasm unquenchable. Like a fighter St Paul did not pull any punches but gave it all he got. Nothing could deter or discourage him. He worked tirelessly. He soaked in the power of God that he was strengthened from within. Like him we need to harden our bodies and minds and soften our hearts towards the move of the Holy Spirit. St Paul uses the image of a fighter to demonstrate that our faith life is a struggle and it requires courage, hope, endurance of hardship and sacrifice. St Paul knew he was running after God, for God and with God. He realized what counted was finishing well. Like a runner gets a last burst of power as he sees the finishing line, as we get older, we must summon and muster that final surge. St Paul alludes to the image of a runner as our faith life requires discipline, stamina and hope of victory. In living a life of faith, we compete with our own flesh and the desires of the old self. Keeping the faith implies storing and treasuring the Word of God, obeying it to manifest our love for the Lord. Prateep V Philip

Continual Praise and Worship

UV 581/10,000 Continual praise and worship Hebrews 13 v 15 By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name. Once we realize the extent of our indebtedness to Christ who gives us access to the presence of God, we will be ready to offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually. The words, “ by him” signifies that it is Christ who makes our worship acceptable to God. By ourselves we being sinful and disobedient are not worthy to enter the presence of God. The Old Testament blood sacrifices were meant to foreshadow the final and ultimate sacrifice of the Lamb of God, Jesus. But, what truly pleases the Lord God is after we have accepted the sacrifice of Jesus as absolution of our shortcomings, we continually offer Him the sacrifice of praise. It implies that we thank the Lord in our minds at every turn and every circumstance. It is an attitude of spiritual worship. It is a full dress rehearsal for our worship of the Lord in Heaven. Praise is described as the fruit of our lips. Our deeds of charity are the fruits of our hands. Just as the fire of sacrifice burnt continually in the temple of God, the fire of praise, worship and thanksgiving is to burn continually in our hearts and minds. The mouth will speak what the heart is full of. When our hearts are full of thanksgiving and praise unto the Lord, our mouth will also acknowledge Him all the time even in our sighing. Just as there are different types of fruits, there are different ways of praising and worshipping God. Uninterrupted or continuous worship does not imply that we spend all our time on our knees. It means that we have a continual awareness of the presence of God in us and with us. It means that even in the course of our daily chores or in the midst of a conversation, we remember the Lord and His goodness to us. That awareness will lead us to occasionally raise our arms to praise Him or to write down a thought or to internally rejoice by thanking Him for a particular blessing. Each day and night,we will have a series of moments and ways to remember, acknowledge, thank and worship the Lord. Prateep V Philip

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The Spirit of Repentance

UV 579/10,000 The Spirit of Repentance Psalms 51 v 10 “ Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.” The best of us are fallible. But, what the Lord requires of us is a deep desire to have a clean heart. God is infallible, pure, perfect and holy. If He is to reside in our hearts and preside over our lives, it is essential that His habitation is kept clean and tidy. It is inevitable that even after our once and for all cleansing by our confessed faith in the Blood of the Lamb, Jesus, we do sin and mess up in the things we think, feel, speak and do. Therefore, there is a need to seek a daily cleansing by the Spirit of God. But, the Psalmist is not asking in this uni-verse for a cleansing of his heart but he is asking the Lord God to replace or create a new core of his being. Indeed, when we repent, it allows the Lord to release His creativity in us to make us whole and pure, spiritually and emotionally. Though sin is self –destructive, the act of repentance is an act of creativity. The old habit should die, and new habits begin in us. We must develop a certain ruthlessness towards sin. As my mentor used to say, “Go for the jugular” or the root of the sin and uproot it. We read in scripture that when people hardened their hearts, they fell from grace or the favour of God. Instead, we should keep our hearts or the core of our being soft, responsive, receptive and sensitive to the stirring of the Holy Spirit in us. When the Word of God or others point out the error of our ways, we should not seek to have it covered up but make an open confession to the Lord and seek His help to break free. A sinful heart is a spiritually diseased heart. The Lord heals us with His Word and the Holy Spirit. The Word has power to heal our calloused heart and make it one that is soft and sensitive once again. He cleanses our heart and enables us to start afresh from a clean slate. He renews or rebuilds or repairs our spirit. His presence comforts us. We need not be ashamed of our sin and hide from God as Adam and Eve did when they first sinned. The Holy Spirit restores us to fullness of fellowship with the Lord. He gives us the will and the grace to overcome the temptation the next time round. Even if we mess up again, He will encourage us by saying, “ Start all over again, my child.” The right spirit that He renews in us is the spirit or attitude of repentance, the attitude of creativity, the attitude of faith and optimism, an attitude of steadfastness and determination. Prateep V Philip

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Greater than Conquerors

UV 578/10,000 Greater than Conquerors Romans 8 v 37 Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. Human beings, individually and collectively, are in quest of conquest: the conquest of new frontiers of science, the conquest of disease, the conquest of markets and so on. But, one common quest is overcoming death and what death holds for us. Jesus alone in His death and resurrection helps us overcome death and the fear of death. We overcome the fear of the first death- the death of our physical bodies and overcome the second death, the dying of our souls. Conquerors have to travel a long distance to conquer people and territory. But, we are more than conquerors as without moving a finger, we are redeemed by the love of God. If Alexander the Great is considered the greatest conqueror, each of us is declared by this uni-verse to be greater than him. He conquered territories and defeated armies all the way from Greece to India but he did it at the cost of the "blood, sweat, toil and tears" of his troops. We too face hardship in our lives and difficulties in winning souls for God’s kingdom, but we win people not through violence but through sharing the love of God. The Commander-in-Chief of the armies of Heaven wrested victory for us by shedding His own blood. He secured victory over the enemy of our souls and his forces of darkness forever. Our victory comes not by struggling with God as Jacob did as indicated in the name "Israel" but in surrendering all to Jesus. Alexander the greatest conqueror was strong in his battle tactics but he was given to vices and arrogance. The Lord will help us overcome our inner weaknesses and in this sense, too we are more than conquerors. Neither trouble, hardship, persecution, famine, poverty, danger of violence deterred the apostle Paul in his mission. He was convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels or demons, or the powers that be could separate him from the love of Christ. He had overcome the limitations that these things could place on him. Similarly, we must see what are the limiting factors in our lives and seek the power of God to overcome. God in His love and grace will help us overcome every physical or financial or social or spiritual limitation that keeps us from fulfilling His will in our lives. A conqueror shares the spoils of conquest with his troops but true rewards await them back in the home country. Similarly, the blessings we receive on earth are like the spoils of battle. The real or true rewards that neither rust nor moth can spoil await us in the kingdom of God. Prateep V Philip

Monday, November 12, 2012

The Ladder to Heaven

UV 577/10,000 Genesis 28 v 12 Building the Ladder to Heaven Genesis 28 v 12 And he dreamed, and behold a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven: and behold the angels of God ascending and descending on it By our prayer life we build a ladder to heaven. It is a two way staircase, on one side the angels take our prayers and petitions to the Lord. On the other, the angels or messengers of God carries back to us the answers to our prayers. It is also a two way channel by which our praise and worship rises to the Lord and His blessings and grace flows back to us. Our priorities should not be earth-bound. When we climb a ladder, we don’t think of anything else but to reach the top. Similarly, we too must always aim for excellence in order to glorify God. We cannot take rest while climbing a ladder. Hence, we must be tireless in our pursuit of excellence and spiritual growth. The sight of a climber of a ladder is fixed upwards. He does not look backward or downward or he will loose focus and balance. Hence, we too must have our focus upwards and not downwards. The ladder should not be shaky and weak. A ladder needs a firm footing. Similarly, in our spiritual life, we need to have a firm footing in the Word of God or instead of seeing dreams sent by the Lord, we will be deluded and eventually disillusioned by our own dreams. The ladder should not rest on the wrong wall. If the ladder is resting on the wall of career and earthly pursuits, we will find at the end of life that all along we were climbing the wrong wall. The ladder needs to rest on the wall of heaven. We need to desire to be in the presence of God. The angels are ministering spirits sent to aid, assist and guard our steps towards the Lord. Our destination – Heaven is so high, it is impossible to reach it on our own strength. We can ask the Lord specifically to send His angels to our help. A believer who met me recently explained a vision he had of a huge ladder some twenty feet in width that stood all the way to heaven and a very tall and massive angel about 12 feet in height, helping people up the ladder. A ladder is climbed rung by rung. Similarly, we climb the ladder to heaven, day by day, moment by moment and experience by experience. Our spiritual growth needs to be gradual and consistent. A ladder is also a metaphor or symbol for a leader. A leader is one who enables others too to climb into heaven. Jacob’s dream was not meant only to encourage him but it was meant to be shared and experienced by all mankind. Eventually, Jesus the Messiah sent by God became the ladder by which we enter the presence of God. Prateep V Philip

Sunday, November 11, 2012

When Less is More

UV 576/10,000 I Kings 17 v 4 When Less is More “For thus saith the Lord God of Israel, The barrel of meal shall not waste, neither shall the cruse of oil fail, until the day that the Lord sendeth rain upon the earth.” The Lord will protect and sustain the faithful in times of recession or famine. He will multiply the little that we offer Him in faith and make it sufficient to meet our need till the time of plenty comes again. The prophet Elijah was asked to move from the brook of Cherith that had dried up to Zarephath where the Lord had commanded a widow to sustain him. Elijah did find the widow at Zarephath but she did not show any sign that she had received any instruction from the Lord. It is only after Elijah boosted her faith with the Word of God, did she part with what she had intended to be the last meal of her little family. The Lord promised the disconsolate woman through the mouth of Elijah that bread or oil would not fail in her house till the rains return. The Lord does allow periods of drought in our lives to test and to strengthen our faith. He will increase the “mileage” of our resources so that it travels the whole distance till the time, He brings an outpouring of blessings once again. Without faith, more will seem to work like less. There is always a feeling of inadequacy. With faith even a little will work like more. The willingness of the widow to give out of her little resources to the servant of God opened the door for the Lord to do a miracle. Similarly, our willingness to part with our little resources to serve the purpose of the Lord will cause it to multiply such that neither bread nor oil will fail in our house. Just as flour mixes with a little water and oil to form bread, similarly, the Word of God needs to mix with a little faith and the anointing of the Holy Spirit to form the “ bread of life.” Like the little boy, we need to give our seven loaves and two fish to the Lord to multiply. The lack of faith and hope in desperate situations kills the spirit, soul and body. At the start of the recession, I was shocked to read how a brilliant engineer in California took a gun and killed both his brilliant sons, one of them a Fullbright scholar, his wife and then took his own life. Similarly, a number of mass killings in the USA and elsewhere in the past few years were prompted by this sense of desperation. They not only want to die but in their frustration want to take with them a number of souls. A glimmer of hope and faith in the Word of God could have saved them and the world of such a holocaust. Both Elijah and the widow were driven to desperation but the Word of God brought a glimmer of hope into their dark situations and revived their souls. The hope when fulfilled turned into faith and sustained their lives in a time of drought. Prateep V Philip

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Guidance Unto and Beyond Death

UV 575/10,000 Guidance unto and beyond Death Psalms 48 v 14 For this God is our God for ever and ever: he will be our guide even unto death There is a Delhi police sponsored ad showing the “Hutch ad” pug dog squatting in front of its master’s gravestone, saying “ Don’t use your cell phone while driving as I can’t follow you everywhere.” But, God not just goes ahead of us, He also stays with us and follows us everywhere unto death and beyond. Time is not an interruption in eternity. The dimension of time runs concurrently with eternity and merges with it. Therefore, He is our God before time, during our lifetime and beyond forever. He both resides in us and presides over our life. He is the spiritual manager and overseer of our lives. God is our coach, guide, mentor and counselor. He gives us guidance 360 degrees and 24x7x365. He coaches us or trains us in the ways of the present life. He also prepares us for eternity. Death is the iron curtain between earth and Heaven. It is impenetrable. Yet, the Word of God gives us a good glimpse of Heaven: The same Psalm speaks of Zion or the city of God being beautiful in situation. The city is full of palaces. The kingdom of God is a kingdom in which every citizen is a king. Hence, every citizen lives in a palace. The Lord guides us to the point of death by helping us keep an eye on our prize in eternity. He imparts an eternal perspective to us. He guides us in comparing the present lot with the future and to choose the future good over the present. This is the essence of spiritual intelligence and spiritual management. Each uni-verse reveals a principle of spiritual management where spirit takes precedence over mind and mind over body. We need to seek the guidance of the Lord from moment to moment, hour to hour and day to day. We need to lean on Him for wisdom and strength to tackle the challenges and dilemmas of daily living. Jesus proved Himself faithful to us unto the point of death. His Resurrection and the post-Resurrection ministry of Jesus proved that He is faithful to us beyond the point of death. As human beings we tend to leave the Lord out of our decision- making in mundane or practical matters. We seem to think He is not interested in our physical, emotional, professional or financial well being. But Jesus, asking the disciples to cast their net on the other side and even fried fish to satisfy their physical hunger before they reached the shore, shows how practically involved the Lord is in our daily lives and in the meeting of our need. Prateep V Philip

The Ten on Ten Life

UV 574/10,000 John 10 v 10 The Ten on Ten Life John 10 v 10 The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly Jesus is the Good Shepherd while Lucifer is the thief. Lucifer is the wolf who comes in sheep skin in order to deceive, cheat, steal, kill and destroy our souls. He attempts to take that which does not belong to him, namely, the glory of God and our souls. No normal or ordinary shepherd would give his life in order to save the sheep but would rather think that he could always get more sheep but cannot get his own life back. He is always thinking how he could profit from the wool or the meat of the sheep. Similarly, in today’s world, many teachers are focused on what they can gain or profit from their fold. In contrast to the thief and the ordinary shepherd, the Good Shepherd Jesus was not only willing to do so but actually gave His life for the sake of us. He gave His life that we might have life eternal. This is what is meant by the first part of the uni-verse, “ they might have life”. We will not taste the second death or eternal dying. The second part of the uni-verse: “ they might have it more abundantly” is the promise of abundance in the present life. Life does not consist in an abundance of things. Hence, the abundant life that Jesus promises us is not a life of abundance of the material dimension of life. Rather, it is an abundance of grace or the favour of God. Grace is divine enablement. The initiative lies with us. The Lord promises the follow through to enable us to continue with our efforts. We need to set goals for ourselves and make a beginning. He will enable us to keep at it, overcome obstacles and complete our mission in life. The excellency of God’s power will be revealed in all its abundance in our lives. The Lord wants us to lead a ten on ten life or a life that manifests the abundant grace of God in the physical, intellectual, emotional, spiritual, social, professional, familial, filial, financial and philanthropic aspects of our lives. Oneness with God through Christ in each of these areas ensures the abundance of love, peace, joy and wholeness that is our birthright. Satan wants to disturb that oneness and create a sense of inadequacy, disconnect, meaninglessness, confusion and dissatisfaction in each of these areas. We must take steps to prevent and detect the thief. We must arrest satan or stop him in his tracks,build firewalls and set up spiritual burglar alarms that warn us of any subtle attacks when our guard is down. Satan steals our peace, kills our joy, destroys our homes, robs us of our opportunities. In the area of the physical, he will induce in us the fear of premature physical death so that we do not get time to think of the second death- eternal dying. He will induce in us the fear of diseases, so that our minds are always tense. In the area of the intellectual, he will induce in us false beliefs and assumptions so that our decision making is flawed. In the area of our emotions, he will induce in us anxiety, anger and hatred. In the area of the spiritual, he will induce in us the spirit of doubt and compromise. He will disguise lies and half-truths as eternal verities. In the area of the social, he will fan the flames of conflict and mutual distrust. In the area of the financial, he will create a lust for more and a constant sense of insecurity. In the area of the professional, he will create a widening gap between expectation and performance so that we get frustrated and ineffective. In the area of the familial and filial, he will create a spirit of disorder, rebellion and a lack of love. How does one distinguish in each area: which came from satan and which from the Lord Jesus? Jesus said, “ The Good Shepherd enters through the door, the thief climbs in through some other way.” As a police officer, I know that the thief climbs in by scaling the wall, breaking in through a window or breaking a lock or drilling a hole or stealing the key of a house. If we have consciously and willingly accepted a particular belief, principle or practice based on the Word, then it is from the Shepherd. If we have learnt it from our study of the Word or the revelation of the Holy Spirit, it is from the Shepherd. If we have accepted it unconsciously or unwillingly from others or the world or due to our past conditioning or through force of circumstance or habit or the subtle influence of someone in our inner circle or due to the prevailing culture, then it is from satan. Another touchstone test is if a particular belief, principle or practice robs God of His glory or robs us of our peace or health or joy over the long term then it is the modus operandi of the thief. Prateep V Philip

Thursday, November 8, 2012

God's Stamp of Approval

UV 573/10,000 2 Timothy 2 v 15 The Stamp of God’s Approval “Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” We need to study the Word of God diligently with the seriousness and doggedness of a researcher. The Word of God contains unsearchable truths, truths that cannot be searched for and found on a search engine like Google or in any other book in the world. The searchlight of the Holy Spirit needs to be flashed at the Word that we are studying. We need to approach the Word with reverence but at the same time, we must be like the chemist who breaks a substance into its parts to study the properties of the parts. We need to dissect or divide the Word of truth. When we are doing so, we are breaking the Bread- as we break the Bread, the power of God is released in our lives. It is interesting that a certain sister while remembering me in prayer, saw a vision of my breaking bread and giving portions to a lot of people. The apt word needs to be fed to the apt person at the apt time. It is the glory of God to conceal secrets and it is the glory of kings to seek it out. When we seek the secrets of God hidden in His Word, we are given His stamp of approval: Royal Quality. The Lord has a quality control division of Heaven. Studying the Word of God is like a treasure hunt. The Lord has left several tell tale clues en route. We must carefully collect and crack these clues. We must be excited as we engage in the pursuit. The treasure at the end of the hunt is about what the Lord is going to reveal. Sometimes, we must keep a particular Word or portion of scripture for months in our minds before we get a handle on it. Suffice it to say, we do not need the seven habits taught by the Mormon workman, Stephen Covey in order to be effective. We need only one habit- studying the Word of God, applying and imparting it correctly. However, the “royal image” should not go to our heads. The Lord compares us with a “hands on” workman. He uses the image of the workman to show that we need to focus on being practical, real and true-to-life. A skilled workman enjoys a certain professional esteem and confidence in his expertise while a lazy workman finds faults with his tools. When the Lord examines us as part of His regular quality control measures, we should have no occasion or reason to feel embarrassed. We must not engage in needless controversy or pointless arguments. We must not “major on the minors” as my mentor used to say. We need to give emphasis where emphasis is due, not telling people what we like to say or what they like to hear but what God wants us to know and understand from a particular passage or verse. The workman works with certain effective and appropriate tools. We must sharpen our intellect updating it constantly even as software is updated. We need to study the context of the text and contemporize it wherever needed even while being careful in not tampering with the eternal and unchanging significance of the Word. A workman does not just potter around with tools making a racket-“ all sound and fury, signifying nothing.” He creates something new or at least repairs something old, either way it should be useful to him or to others. Our studying and our working should be PEP or purposive, effective and productive. Prateep V Philip

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Seize the Day

UV 572/10,000 Hebrews 4 v 7 The Significance of Today Hebrews 4 v 7 “ Therefore God again set a certain day, calling it Today, when a long time later He spoke through David, as was said before: “ Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts.” God has set a certain day to select us. We do not just survive but win and live forever not by the natural selection of Darwin but by the supernatural selection of the Almighty, All knowing, Beloved God. He chooses the time and opportunity to speak to us. He knows the time when the Word will come to touch our lives and change our destiny. As the adverstisement for Swiss Air puts it, “ The journey is as important as the destination.” Our sojourn on earth is as important as our entry into Heaven. Every moment of our pilgrimage on earth, we must tune our ears to hear the Lord and prime our hearts and minds to obey. Every human being whom God has chosen will hear His voice on a certain day at a certain time. But, we must never say, “ Today is not the day for God.” As the Greek expression goes, “ Carpe le Diem” or seize the day. We need to seize the day for God. Today is the day of salvation. Now is the hour of salvation. We cannot put it off. We should not become insensitive and tell the Lord, “ Not now, I am busy,” or “ I got unfinished business” or “ I will get back to You.” The present moment as we hear His voice, we must respond with faith. The Word needs to mix with a faithful response from us even as concrete needs water to be poured on it for several days in order to “ cure” it. We need to be cured or healed or strengthened from within as we keep listening to the voice of the Lord. Then as now, God uses multimedia, long before it came into existence as computer software, to communicate to us and with us. We must not indulge in spiritual procrastination by saying that we will draw close to the Lord when we are older and freer. Every moment is vital. The Israelites lost it during their journey the moment they thought Moses would not return from the mountain. They provoked God to anger with their hardness of heart. Their rebellion deepened as they would not even recognize the voice of the Messiah. In contrast, we must humble ourselves, repent and be reverent the moment we hear the voice of God. Every moment thereafter should be times of greater and greater intimacy with the Lord. From disuse or lack of fellowship with Him, we must not develop a staleness or complacency or casualness in our relationship. Our cry should always be “ More of You in my life. More of Your love, Your truth, Your power and Your grace in my life.” When the day ceases, when our life on earth ceases, we will have certainly more to show. Prateep V Philip

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Designed for Success, Programmed for Failure

UV 571/10,000 Genesis 3 v 5 Designed for Success, Programmed for Failure “For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil." Mankind is designed for success but programmed for failure. For man believed in the lie or lies told by Satan. Our original program that God had created us with was a program for success, for health, for eternity, for happiness, for dominion, for propagation, for strength and for peace. Man’s eyes were not opened but rather blinded to the reality of good. Our life itself became nothing but a progressive death right from the moment of birth. An impenetrable curtain separated life and death, God and man. Hereafter, the reality of good or the creative aspect of man’s personality that was derived from the Creator who knows only good became only a possibility that was contingent on the choices we made consciously in life. Life was split into the natural and the spiritual, the physical and the spiritual, the temporal and the eternal. Our personality and psyche was split. Every one of us is a mix of good and evil. Our intellectual, emotional and spiritual software is glitched. Our choices and our circumstances determine the exact proportion of good and evil, the positive and the negative, the creative and the destructive. A computer with a glitched software cannot claim that it will repair itself. Only the Designer has the know-how to fix the bug or remove the glitch in the software. God sent the Word or Jesus to fix the bug in our human nature. Our eyes will be opened once more to the reality of absolute and not relative goodness. The vision of Jesus that blinded St Paul on the road to Damascus caused the scales on his eyes to fall off. He stopped believing in the lies and half-truths that he was conditioned from birth to believe as truth. He came to know the whole truth and the truth set him free. He was now driven by the Word to act in accordance with the truth. His programming had changed from a passion to eliminate and persecute the people of the new faith to “ I can do all things in Christ Jesus who strengthens me.” His belief in inadequacy of resources and abilities changed to the confidence that “ My God shall supply all my need according to His riches in glory.” The process of transformation of our programming is first, belief in Jesus, then, knowledge of the Word or logos and finally,change in our reasoning,emotions,passion,priorities, speech and action. Once we are re-programmed, we are once more ready to fulfill the purpose for which we were designed: wholesome success or Shalom, peace and joy. Our programming will not work at cross purposes with our design. The impenetrable curtain that separated man and God was torn from the top down. The cross of Christ ironically is a vertical stroke from above that cuts a horizontal minus sign. God thereby took all our little “pluses and minuses” or good and bad, positives and negatives and turned it into the cross of Christ. Prateep V Philip

Monday, November 5, 2012

Gold, Clothes and Ointment

UV 570/10,000 Gold, Clothes and Ointment Revelation 3 v 18 “ I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.” Jesus is the Wonderful Counsellor. We need to lean or depend on His counsel and guidance. He counsels us to obtain from Him the faith that is needed for every day life. Faith is a gift. It is a precious gift of God that is purged and tested in the fire of experience and sometimes of suffering. Once we express our belief in Jesus, we should ask Him to give us the faith of Jesus. The faith of Jesus enabled Him to trust the Father and obey His will even unto death upon the Cross. It is a gift that we “buy” not in the sense that it will cost us something but we need to give a little faith in order to get even more back. The more of this tried “ gold” that we obtain, the more rich we will be towards God. It implies that we exercise our faith more and more in all areas of life be it in the areas of our physical well being, our family, our ministry, our relationships, our finances or our work. Faith is compared to gold for three reasons: one, that it needs to be tested to discover if it is truly gold, second, it needs to be purified in fire or experience to remove the dross or impurities that are mixed in it and third, it is compared to gold as faith like gold should be the most precious aspect or dimension of our lives. We will store and increase our treasure in Heaven thereby. He will also meet all our earthly need as we ask Him in faith. One effective way of buying more pure gold is to read, remember, reflect,obey, claim and proclaim more and more uni-verses or “rhema verses” or the Word that the Lord has spoken into our lives at diverse times. The “ white raiment” is a metaphor for a life of righteousness that we must be clothed with or covered with all the time. The shame of our past lives of sin must no longer make an appearance. We do not need to hide from God when Jesus appears at the second coming as Adam and Eve did to hide their nakedness, after the fall, from the Creator. Being clothed is to live a life imitating Christ in our priorities, attitudes, compassion,thoughts, words and actions. We do not take pride in wearing the Emperor’s new but imaginary clothes but the clothes lent to us by the King of Kings. Faith being compared to gold and righteous lifestyle to clothes in keeping with the truth that faith is the root of salvation while good deeds are the fruit of salvation. The “ eyesalve” symbolizes the anointing of the Holy Spirit who will guide us into all truth. A couple of years ago a tiny accidental scratch on my left eye cornea caused much pain, discomfort and blurred vision. My eye had to be bandaged and treated to restore full vision. Before we began to believe, our eyes were infected. Our vision was blurred. Now, we are given a divine ointment to heal our vision. We must no longer be short sighted or blind but truly have and utilize full spiritual vision or 20-20 vision. We should not wear the spectacles of the world or the law to be either worldly at the one extreme and “ holier than thou” or self-righteous, prejudiced, judgemental or legalistic at the other extreme. Jesus said that our eyes are the windows of light of our bodies. If our spiritual eyes are full of darkness, our lives will be bleak and dark. We must learn to look at people with the eyes of compassion of Jesus. Three things are needed, therefore: A fuller, richer and purer faith, a life of righteousness and complete vision to see and understand the things that are happening nearby in time and space and the things that are happening faraway beyond time and space and in the realms of heaven and eternity. Our spiritual vision will give us a connectivity between the immediate, the intermediate and the ultimate or eternal. Prateep V Philip

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Replacing Fear with Faith

UV 569/10,000 Replacing Fear with Faith Daniel 10 v 12 Daniel 10 v 12 Then said he unto me, Fear not, Daniel: for from the first day that thou didst set thine heart to understand, and to chasten thyself before thy God, thy words were heard, and I am come for thy words. Daniel did not rejoice or relax in the authority or perquisites of high office. The external glory of the Babylonian empire did not dazzle or blind his eyes. Instead, he accepted a spiritual challenge. He humbled himself before God. He remembered the plight of Israel, his people now in captivity. He set his heart to understand the will of God. He resorted regularly to fasting and praying. The Lord God heard his prayers from the first day he humbled himself and sought God but the heart of God was moved when Daniel fasted continually for 21 days avoiding both good food and beverage. He sent a man clothed in linen with a sash of gold. This was a Christophany or an appearance of Christ. People hear the words of our mouths but God alone hears the words of our hearts. The Lord heard the words of Daniel’s heart from the first day he humbled himself to pray. At the appointed hour, the Lord sent the vision or revelation like a deluge. Daniel was not prepared mentally or emotionally for such an overpowering and awesome vision. His strength was drained from him. But, the Lord reassured him and even as He spoke, the Word of God strengthened Daniel. Daniel was a character that inspired me from the early days of my youth and my faith. He did not find pleasure in “the rivers of Babylon.” The rivers of Babylon are a metaphor for the life of hedonism: wealth and pleasure-seeking that the elite in every nation and generation are given to. Instead, he sought the rivers of pleasure at the right hand of God. Daniel was blemishless. He prayed thrice at set times of the day. He excelled in all that he did. He had the favour of successive kings. He was willing to stand for God at the cost of his life. The mighty kings whom Daniel served are not remembered today except as mere historic names but Daniel is admired even today for his faith, his integrity, his courage and the amazing prophetic revelations he was given regarding the end times. Daniel was a watchman for the nation of Israel but the Lord gave him globally relevant revelations. Similarly, today many people who hold high office as well as ordinary people in many nations are called to be anointed watchmen for their nations. Michael the prince of the angels was sent to the assistance of Daniel. Similarly, the Lord appoints angels to be sent to our assistance in different situations to help us fulfill our mission in life. Even Daniel the faithful and courageous servant of God who had confronted death was told, “ Do not fear.” We only need to be faithful and not fearful. We need to identify all our fears, whether it is fear of failure or success, fear of premature as well as eternal death, fear of disease, fear of being deceived, fear of conflict,fear of calamity,fear of poverty, fear of loss of esteem, fear of shame and punishment, fear of the unknown and fear of the future. Then we should humble ourselves before God and ask the Lord to help us understand the source, the cause and the solution to these fears. The Lord will come to our help even as we pray. We need to make a 180 degree turn from each of these areas of fear and conquer it with the Lord’ s help and make it an area of faith, strength,courage and victory. When we go to the Lord in prayer, He comes to us in person. Prayer connects God and us at our deepest levels. He allays our fears and strokes our hopes. Prateep V Philip

Saturday, November 3, 2012

To Teach is to Touch

UV 567/10,000 Ezra 7 v 10 To Teach is to Touch “For Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the law of the Lord, and to do it, and to teach in Israel statutes and judgements.” To be a scribe for God like Ezra requires preparation. There is a need for preparing ourselves before we study the Word of God. It says that “ Ezra had prepared his heart..” It implies that what is required is an inner preparation of our attitudes before we study the Word. We need to have an attitude of reverence- the people stood up as Ezra read the Word in the assembly. Ezra set right his emotions before the Lord. He repented of his sin. The people wept when they heard Ezra reading the law for they were convicted of their shortcomings. We should not approach the Word with a casual or cavalier or bored or coerced attitude. We need to study the Word with a sense of both diligence and delight. There must be a sense of expectancy that we would hear the specific Word meant for us. We need to read it as if the whole Bible is the Father’s love letter to all mankind and to us individually. Preparing our heart also implies that we invite the Holy Spirit to illuminate and interpret it to our hearts and minds. The Holy Spirit will quicken or enable our intellects to comprehend the finer nuances as well as the direct application of the Word in our contexts. To “ seek” means to pore over the text again and again to understand it. As we seek with all our hearts or with complete commitment and passion, the Lord will reveal hidden truths, precepts, principles and promises. Our next responsibility is to “ do it”. The Word is eminently “doable” or applicable to our daily and practical lives. The statutes of the Lord are to be obeyed. Law in application becomes judgment. Merely studying the Word only makes us knowledgeable. It is doing it that makes us wise and gives us liberty or spiritual freedom. We need to apply that which we learnt to our own lives. Hearing or studying the Word should trigger specific changes in our lives in response to what the Lord has taught us. Once we apply it to our lives only then are we qualified to teach it to others in Israel. “Israel” refers to the Commonwealth of believers across the world. What we teach will ease their struggles in understanding and relating to our Lord. In the past year and a half, or 567 days to be precise, as I committed to spending time at the feet of the Lord day after studying His Word, I am greatly encouraged to receive feedback from people with various backgrounds as to how the Word spoke to them in their unique situations. The God of Ezra is at work. To teach is to touch. To touch the untouchable areas of our hearts and minds is to truly teach. He who has not touched these areas has not truly taught. He who has not been touched, has not been truly taught. The teachers and books of knowledge and wisdom of the world do not and cannot access the hidden, deep and inaccessible parts of our spirits, souls and psyche. When we teach the Word, we touch or impact lives. To touch is to heal, to release the power of God into difficult or impossible situations. The Word is imparted as the breath of God to empower both the speaker and the listener, the writer and the reader. This is the reason the Word is called a “ two-edged sword.” The one who wields this sword and the one who hears it are both cut to the inner lining of the bone or to the core of their existence. The extra covering or coating of our inner heart attitudes will be excised or cut out. The results will be evident- Ezra had the favour of kings and was given authority in Israel to rule and to pronounce judgements. We will be given authority to pronounce judgements out of the spiritual realms. Prateep V Philip

Our Work, His Reward

UV 568/10,000 Our Work , His Reward 2 Chronicles 15 v 7 “Be ye strong therefore, and let not your hands be weak: for your work shall be rewarded.” This uni-verse combines an exhortation to be strong, a warning not to be weak and an assurance that our work shall be rewarded. The word used “ shall” implies a certainty not a probability. We are commanded to be strong, effective, steadfast, faithful and uncompromising. We are not to be weak, confused, ashamed, fearful, indolent or inconsistent. We need to be diligent, persistent and persevering. Indeed, God rewards perseverance of faith. After praying on the rock of agony in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus strengthened Himself and set His face as flint as He commenced His journey towards the Cross. He knew His reward awaited Him and that He would be seated at the right hand of the Father’s throne and that millions of believing souls, through the ages and generations that followed, would be saved and be part of His inheritance. In ancient Israel when the kings and the people departed from following God, He sent vexatious times upon them. Then King Asa listened to the prophecy of Azariah the prophet in the words above. He took courage and dared to put away the idols that even his own mother adored but God hated. The Israelites as one people once again heard their king and renewed their covenant of faithfulness with God. As a result or as a reward, God’s presence was with them and they had once more all round peace. Though salvation is inherited by all of us by virtue of our faith, our deeds having no part in securing so great a salvation for our souls, our deeds or our labour of love would be rewarded. Different dispensation of rewards for each of us is in place in God’s scheme of things. Nothing we have done is in vain. Even a glass of cold water given to slake the thirst of a disciple will be rewarded either in time or in eternity. While all our sins have been blotted out, whether they be crimson or scarlet, by the Blood of the Lamb, the Book of Rememberance will keep account of every little and big thing that we attempted for the Lord. Once we were surprised to hear a prophetic revelation about my father-in-law who had been a man of the world all his life but confessed a little faith late in the evening of his life. The Lord revealed that He had prepared a glorious mansion for him in Heaven with twelve golden steps leading up to it and that he would enjoy a greater reward than even his mother who had lived a faithful life for many years. In dispensing rewards, the Lord’s justice will prevail. The eleventh hour labourer would be paid as much or even more than the one who volunteered in the first hour, implying that at whatever late year or stage in our life we started serving the Lord, it would not matter. It matters however how wholeheartedly we did our work for Him and communicated the message of His work for us to others. What we do secretly for Him, whether praying in secret or fasting in secret or giving in secret, He will reward openly. Are we rewarded only in the ‘after life’ or here and now? Since eternal life begins the moment we believe and receive Jesus as our absolution and our solution, our rewards too begin in the present life but continues in much more glorious form and ways in the life to come. Prateep V Philip

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Forgiveness, Temptation and Evil

UV 566/10,000 Forgiveness, Temptation and Evil Luke 11 v 4 “And forgive us our sins, for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil.” Forgiveness is not something we do for the other person’s sake but for our own sake that we might be forgiven. It is mandatory to forgive freely in order to be forgiven freely. The same grace we expect to receive or received from the Lord at a point in time , we need to extend to all who have hurt us, abused us, harmed us or betrayed us. We need to forgive from our hearts, implying that we should no longer act or speak remembering a past wrong someone has done to us. It is difficult to forgive given the unfairness of the actions and words of others that hurt us deeply but when we pray for grace to forgive, the Lord who forgave even His unjust executors gives us the grace. This is the grace or gift of Jesus. A certain believer who lives in London who met me recently said that he was troubled for a long while by the words, “ lead us not into temptation” for how can God tempt anyone? Then, the Holy Spirit revealed that God indeed tempts no one but the Lord Jesus is asking us to pray that He does not allow us to enter or to remain in a place of temptation. For instance, that believer had inherited a lot of property that he had sold cheaply in yesteryears. If he had held on to that for some years, he would have run into great wealth. But, that very same wealth would have ensnared and trapped his soul to remain away from God. The words, “ lead us not into temptation” implies a prayer to protect us from the evil within us, the tendency to be tempted by the lust of the eye, the lust of the flesh and the pride of life. The preservation from temptation is the gift and grace of the Holy Spirit. The first thought that struck my mind as I woke up from momentary unconsciousness in Sriperumbudur after the massive blast that killed the former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and 17 others was, “ We are living in such an evil world.” The intelligence, imagination, resources and energy of man is put to such evil use. The Lord Jesus also in the days before His climbing the hill of Golgotha pleaded with the Father to preserve His disciples, His sheep from evil. The odds of sheep surviving the attack of a predatory wolf is 0 to one. It is only by the grace of God that we can survive the evil in this world. This is the evil from without: the threats, dangers and attacks of the enemy, his agencies and agents. These are real and cannot be glossed over. We need to pray for a strong fencing around us and our people. This is the grace and gift of our Almighty Father. He often rushes to our help with a loud voice that scatters the enemy. Prateep V Philip