Saturday, May 31, 2014

It 's Better Not to be Bitter

UV 1108/10,000 It’s Better not to Be Bitter

Do all things without murmurings and disputings
Philippians 2 v 14

As believers, we are mandated to do all things without complaining and without arguments and contention. Murmuring is basically the things we say to ourselves, mostly silently, complaining about what has happened to us even though we have been faithful and diligent. We usually murmur to internalise our grief, our disappointment or sense of having been dealt with unjustly. The cause of our regret may be real or imaginary. We feel we cannot share our sense of regret or bitterness with anyone and so we bottle up our feelings and allow it to simmer within. God listens like no one else to our self talk, to our inner dialogue as well as He discerns the pattern of our thoughts and desires. He is either pleased or displeased depending on whether we are thankful deep inside or whether we are grumbling and bitter about many things that is happening or has happened in the past.

The very word “ murmur” means to pointlessly and to repeatedly keep whining within ourselves. Whiners cannot be winners. It irritates both God and man. We need to focus on all the signs of God’s faithfulness in our lives and not just that one thing that disappointed us. The Israelites after having experienced first hand the mighty deliverance from bondage, instead of looking to God with awe and thanksgiving, started complaining about not having food. When they were given manna from heaven, they murmured about not having meat to eat. When they were given the meat of quails, they complained about not having water. When they were given water, they complained that the water was bitter and not fit to drink. When they faced hostile enemies who were minor powers compared with the might of Pharaoh, they murmured and God let many die of bites of serpents in the desert. At each new test of their faith, they should have just looked back at what God had done for them in the past and been thankful as well as hopeful that He will do yet another miracle to deal with their new challenge. The test of our faith is whether we are looking back with thanksgiving and looking forward with hope and confidence in the Lord. Our powerful positive model to emulate is Jesus who throw all His tests and tribulations up to the cross and beyond never once complained to the Lord that He was being made to bear a burden that was too heavy and unjust for Him. He never murmured that though He is the architect of the universe, He was sent into the world penniless.

We are to also avoid pointless arguments, meaningless disputes, bitter conflicts and ego clashes. We need to be sensitive to the peace-loving nature of God. Blessed are the peace-makers for they shall be called the children of God. By our words and actions, we should not add fuel to the fire of contentious matters and persons. The words, “ all things” implies that we are to avoid fights whether at home in our families or at our workplace or in the streets, we are to do our best to live at peace with everybody including difficult persons, sworn enemies, subtle foes and secret rivals. Our reliance should be on the power of God to deal with slights, insults, betrayal, criticisms and other causes of disputes.

Prateep V Philip

Friday, May 30, 2014

Pl spread word about the ad for the first book in the Uni-verse series

A Wise Masterbuilder

UV 1107/10,000 The Wise Masterbuilder
According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon
I Corinthians 3 v 10

God has given each of us grace to be a wise masterbuilder. A wise masterbuilder always digs deep and lays a solid foundation. We need to dig deep into the Word and wisdom of God and then lay the foundation of the knowledge of Christ. This is the rock foundation of civilisation that teaches us not to hate and kill, to rob and lie but to love and bless all including our enemies, rivals and foes. This is the rock that is unchanging and unshaking even in the most cataclysmic of world events.

Our purpose in life is edifying people while glorifying God. Edifying people means building up people to realize what is their purpose in life and to help them fulfil that purpose. Everyone will learn the facts of life sooner or later but not everyone will learn the truths of life. The truths of life are taught by Jesus and these constitute our solid foundation. Upon these truths, we need to build our lives with good thoughts, good words and good deeds. The superstructure of our lives is made up of these living bricks or stones. If we are mixing good and bad thoughts, good and bad words, good and bad deeds, it will be like building a house half of straw that can be burnt and half that cannot be burnt. Such an edifice cannot stand forever. We need to remember that we are building to last forever and not just for a long time. We need to heed every thought, emotion, word and deed. This is what is meant by working out our salvation with fear and trembling. If we do not , it is like starting a building and stopping with the foundation.

The pit is ugly when it is first dug to lay the foundation. But as the building gets completed, it looks beautiful and it can be used for noble and useful purposes. A wise masterbuilder builds on the solid bedrock of obedience to the words of truth spoken by Jesus. We should realize that every day we are building. We should keep doing what we can and we will end up doing what we cannot- the splendid, the magnificent, the awesome, amazing work of God in our lives. The choice of the words “ wise masterbuilder” implies that our lives should be a reflection of wisdom, knowledge, understanding, skills, practical “hands on” experience and determination. We need to have the focus and determination to complete the good work the Lord has started in our lives. To test if what we are building is in accordance with the master plan, we need to use the plumb line of the Word. We need to bring our faith to completion by adding to it excellence, the testimony of good character, the discipline of principles, the knowledge of the Word and the world. Just as the foundation is Jesus, the cornerstone is Jesus, the capstone of grace is also Jesus. The whole building is held together by this one name and living person. He is the architect of the universe but He is also the architect of the lives we are building, brick by brick, verse by verse, precept by precept, concept by concept and practice by practice. A building is built not for itself but for someone to reside in it. Our life’s building is being built for the Holy Spirit to inhabit and reside in.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

The Great Wall

UV 1106/10,000 The Great Wall of Jesus
By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name.

Hebrew 13 v 15

Christ is the channel that makes the praise and worship of sinful mankind acceptable and pleasing to God. He gives us access, reason and spirit to worship God. The Jews have a Wailing Wall in Jerusalem where they present their petitions. Our wall is not the ruins of a city left behind by invaders but it is Jesus. Our wall is not like the Great Wall of China that was inspired by fear of Mongol invasions. Our wall is not like the thick walls of Jericho that fell after Joshua and his God-picked troops went around it seven times. Jesus is a wall of support, protection, perfection, salvation, realization, fulfilment, upliftment. Like Rahab the social outcast and prostitute built her house on the city wall of Jericho, making it the means of escape for the Jewish spies and the very means of salvation for Rahab and her family, we too should build our homes and lives on the great Wall of Jesus. We become the means for the salvation of many others. Jesus is not a Wailing Wall where we can wallow in the shallows of our sorrows. Jesus is the Praising Wall for us to offer our sacrifice of praise. He has absolved us of all our guilt and helps us solve our other life challenges both here and now and in the hereafter. He has obviated the need for sacrifices to be made with the one sacrifice He made of His own body and life. Now what remains for us to offer is the sacrifice of praise to God.

God has let us keep the fruit of our hands and labour and we need to give only a small portion of it to Him. God has blessed the fruit of our bodies-our children. God has multiplied the fruit of our minds- ideas and thoughts, plans and decisions, emotions and desires. But the fruit of our lips –our faculty of speech needs to be used to give continual praise and thanksgiving to the Lord for all His gifts to us, given to us by grace. Like Rahab, we have no righteousness of our own to claim any blessing or privilege before God. All that we have is by the grace of Jesus. That we have believed to receive grace, we offer thanks and praise at and through our Wall of Salvation. He is the bulwark of our lives that no invader can spoil, neither time nor fortune can ravage. Nothing can shake or move this wall.

The privilege of continually worshipping the Creator, our Maker and the Maker of the entire universe and all people is what makes us a holy priesthood. The sacrifices we are making are spiritual sacrifices. We are killing our own egos and lifting the Name of God in our lives, acknowledging that by ourselves we are nothing, that we owe everything to Him. As we offer the sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving at the Wall of Jesus, the fruit of our Spirit, the fruit of our hands, the fruit of our bodies, the fruit of our minds will all be blessed to abound.

Prateep V Philip

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Labour for Ultimate and Eternal Gain

UV 1105/10,000 The Labour of Ultimate Gain

Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.

I Corinthians 15 v 58

To be faithful, one needs to be firm or steadfast in the beliefs and principles he cherishes. Faith can move mountains but faith itself ought to be immoveable. A ship however large and heavy is held in place in swirling waters by a heavy anchor that sinks down to the bottom of the sea. Similarly, we should send down deep and strong roots that hold us in place despite changing circumstances, trials and troubles. We should hold on to the hope that the gospel gives. I once wrote these lines: “ Gospel- go spell it out in the way you live, no need to yell, don’t talk of hell.” We need to communicate our faith in the way we live, in everything we speak and do. To be grounded in faith implies that we are rooted in the Word and we spare no effort in applying the Word in practical ways in our lives.

The Lord appreciates us when we give ourselves wholeheartedly to His work, the work of making Him known, of teaching the truths of God. Every little thing we do in His name, He keeps a faithful account. St Paul worked tirelessly after he met the Lord Jesus on the road to Damascus. His zeal is reflected in the epistles he wrote to the churches he planted in many nations of Europe and Asia. He took along with him co-labourers like Timothy, Silas and Mark on his many journeys. He acknowledged that they worked as hard as he did. Their labour was not for material or monetary gain. It was not to please people. It was out of their love of God and it was to please Him and Him alone. This should be the benchmark we set for ourselves in our life’s mission. St Paul addressed the believers in the church in Corinth as “beloved brethren”. It shows that they were not just names or statistics for St Paul but that the priority of his life’s work was building people up in relationship with God and each other. He was not an aimless workhaholic doing work for work’s sake but focussed on edifying people while glorifying God. In contrast, many leaders these days stultify and quantify the gains they can get from people. St Paul’s focus was how much he could give to the people he ministered to not how much he could get from them.

“Always abounding” implies that we need to be witnesses in season and out of season, bearing fruit in and with our lives for the Lord. We need to be consistent and dynamic in our leadership and work all the time, drawing inspiration and strength from the Holy Spirit. The Lord Himself is our co-labourer and partner in our work. Since He builds the house or fulfils whatever He sets His hand to, our labour shall never be unfinished, shoddy, vain or unnoticed and unrewarded. It is bound to bear fruit many times over the amount of time, effort and commitment we invested in it. We should encourage ourselves that our labour of love is not in vain. The Lord is just and He knows how to distribute rewards, both here and now as well as eternal. We are rewarded regardless of where we are in the body or spiritual chain, regardless of how soon or how late we started our work for the Lord.

Prateep V Philip

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

The Gateways to the Temple and the City of God

UV 1104/10,000 The Gateways of the Lord
For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's
I Corinthians 6 v 20

We have been purchased by God with the precious life or blood of Christ. The idea of substitutionary sacrifice first came when God asked Abraham to sacrifice his only son Isaac and when he was about to do so, he restrained him and provided a lamb for the sacrifice. The idea that blood absolved people of guilt was contained in the animal sacrifices of Israel. But God made the provision of Christ, His anointed Son as the final, complete and absolute substitutionary atonement. When Adam and Eve belonged to God before the fall. After they were tempted to be independent of God, they now belonged to satan who had got them to listen to him and follow his advice. Satan had a claim on all their descendants too. God purchased all mankind back with the price paid by Jesus. We are all bought at the same price but the value we bring to the table of the Lord is the extent to which we glorify God. This value differs from person to person.

Once we believe that Jesus purchased our belief, our trust, our allegiance, our faith, our love, we now belong to Him to be His agents on earth, to be His servants or slaves in righteousness, to be co-heirs with Him of His inheritance. Our focus should now be to please God, to be a living sacrifice, to offer our worship and thanksgiving. In our spirits, minds and body, we need to seek to glorify God, to give evidence of God ‘s power and grace acting in our lives. To be a witness, does not just mean speaking up for God, it also means that we will ourselves witness the power of God, the love of God and the grace of God at work in our bodies, minds and spirits. We will experience a new found sense of dedication, devotion and consecration in our lives. Our bodies are not meant to please the senses, our minds are no longer meant to please our own egos, our spirits are not meant to exalt us. We realize that we are a city of God being built on a hill to give forth light, a temple of God being built up with each thought, emotion, word and deed.

Like any ancient city had many gateways as had Jerusalem for people to enter the city, we have many gateways for the Lord to enter our lives and make manifest His love, power and grace: the gateways of our minds are our own thoughts. Our thoughts and inner dialogue with ourselves should be pleasing to the Lord. Our mouths are another gateway- we should allow only words that glorify God to leave our mouths. Our eyes and ears are other gateways – we should see and hear things that magnify or enlarge our image of God. Our spirits are another gateway for the Lord to enter- we should worship and exalt the Lord with our spirits. We should grow the fruit of the spirit to reflect in our character-love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, humility, self control. The walls in which the gates stand are our sense of self control and discipline. We should pray in the spirit and appropriate the gifts of the Spirit, the continual anointing and the manifold blessings of the Lord. Our limbs should be used to take us to places and to do things that glorify God so that when other people witness it, their faith in God and Christ will be kindled and they will give thanks for our lives and our good deeds.

Prateep V Philip

Monday, May 26, 2014

The Power Generator

UV 1103/10,000 The Power Generator As for me, this is my covenant with them, saith the LORD; My spirit that is upon thee, and my words which I have put in thy mouth, shall not depart out of thy mouth, nor out of the mouth of thy seed, nor out of the mouth of thy seed's seed, saith the LORD, from henceforth and for ever. Isaiah 59 v 21
The Lord God condescends to make agreements with mortal and sinful mankind. If He has made it with one, He has made it with all of us. He made a covenant with Abraham that out of his descendants, He would make a nation and a community of nations. “ A nation” refers to Israel, son of his God-given heir Isaac while a community of nations refers to the nations that descended from Ishmael, son of Abraham through Sarah’s slave Hagar. A treaty is normally agreed to by royalty or heads of state. God represented His Kingdom and the heavenly realms. Abraham represented the earthly realm. An agreement is made to normally benefit both parties consenting to it. But God is a benefactor- He gives us many benefits without charging us the cost. He only wants to share His power and love with His heirs and princes by faith. Abraham benefitted by being regarded as a prince among men. He was respected even by the king of Sodom and other contemporary chiefs of tribes and kingdoms. A prince is someone who is descended from a king and who by definition follows certain lofty principles, who rules, leads, governs a number of people according to these principles. God sent His Word and His words not to impoverish us and make us paupers but to transform us into princes of peace, princes of light, princes of His people. God re-confirmed His covenant with mankind through His dealings with Israel led by Moses. It is more proper to call the old testament that documents God’s direct dealing with mankind as the first covenant rather than the old covenant. It is not as if the first covenant got eroded with aging through time or that any of its principles, precepts and promises are worn out or invalid today. These are just as valid, alive, active and useful in our lives as they were in the time of Abraham and Moses.
The new covenant that came through Christ did not replace the first covenant- it is part II of the divine agreement. The first covenant is a revelation of God’s power and supremacy over satan, the princes and powers of darkness and all earthly powers. The second covenant is a revelation of God’s grace and mercy. Part II of the divine agreement is an elaboration of God’s plan for man, wider in its ambit as it covers all of mankind and not just the nation of Israel. The first covenant God wrote on stone with His own finger while the second He still writes individual heart by heart, day by day with the Holy Spirit. What He has written as a personal to each one of us should not be forgotten or ignored but remembered day to day. It should be consumed as daily bread, spoken of and shared with other of our generation and the next generation as well as those coming after them forever.
This uni-verse is both a commitment from our side to stay faithful to our covenant relationship and to the commandments of the Lord through three generations for that’s as far as we can see as well as an eternal commitment by the Lord to stay faithful to His Word and His promises to us. The covenant needs to be renewed on our side by each individual in each generation. It takes sand, cement, jelly stones and water to mix to form concrete. Similarly, it takes a mix of the words of God, our faith, a specific and practical situation and the inspiration and interpretation of the Holy Spirit translating the words of language into the words of the Spirit of God to edify and build us up. The other day I learnt at a meeting that a framed concrete structure is built to last at least 75 to 90 years as against a load bearing structure that lasts only 30 years. So also the Spirit as the architect of the Lord mixes our faith with the Word to build us up through three generations, to cause us to rule as little princes of peace, inheriting our rights and privileges to rule over the principalities and powers of darkness. As long as the good promises of God do not leave our mouths and our faith leave our hearts, the Lord will not forsake or leave us. The Word is a power generator. It will generate power as well as discipline in our lives. The promises will generate blessings for our succeeding generations.
Prateep V Philip

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Strong Faith, Smart Strategy and Plain Common Sense

UV 1102/10,000 Strong Faith, Smart Strategy and Plain Common Sense

Give us help from trouble: for vain is the help of man.

Psalm 60 v 11

David as a young shepherd got help from the Lord to overthrow and overcome Goliath. The entire army of Israel and its king Saul were terrified of Goliath. They listened meekly to the mocking challenge he hurled at them. David alone was moved by the spirit of God to ask,” Who is this Philistine who is mocking the armies of God?” He declined to wear the armour offered by Saul or to carry the sword given by him. Even the weapons offered by man was vain in his view. He was also realistic and knew that he stood little chance if he had a hand to hand fight with the giant Goliath. He refused to be intimidated by Goliath’s threats and insults. The odds were heavily against David coming out unscathed or alive. He kept a cool mind and the Lord quickened it to think of a strategy by which he could strike Goliath without coming within Goliath’s reach. He moved forward with courage and confidence in the Lord so that Goliath came within the range of his sling. He picked up four smooth stones. We too should not go empty handed for a battle. David prepared his ammunition even as he whispered a prayer in his heart asking the Lord for His help. He picked up four stones just in case one missed as well as the eventuality of Goliath’s brothers coming against him after his fall.

When we seek help from the Lord quietly and in private, we will be beyond the reach of the enemy. At the same time, we should encourage ourselves with the Word of God. There is no enemy who is bigger or stronger or smarter than God. There is no problem or challenge that is too big or too complicated for God to solve. We should not resort to conventional weapons or strategy. God will use what we have in our hands. He will make use of our natural skills and our training this far as he used David’s accuracy in aiming his sling. David was smart enough to realize that behind all of Goliath’s bravado and threats, he too had some soft and vulnerable points. While Saul and the other Israelites thought that Goliath was too big to fight, David thought that he was too big to miss. The first stone he aimed hit Goliath with precision on his forehead. Now David knew he needed a sword to slay him as he was just unconscious. He used Goliath’s own sword to decapitate him. He could carry his head back as a trophy to motivate the Israelites even as it demoralised the opposing camp. God does not forbid or discourage a mix of natural and supernatural means, a mix of strong faith, smart strategy and plain common sense. Faith only gave David the courage to accept the challenge, the confidence that he cannot loose but he had to figure out which way he fought and to decode and take the steps he eventually took. His confidence stemmed from the past experience of fighting a bear and a lion in order to protect his flock. That made him a winner in difficult situations and challenges. But his faith stemmed not from his past success or that he perceived himself as a winner but that he had joined the winning side, the side of God.

As king of Israel, David got help from the Lord to defeat many armies. He realized that the help of man is vain, worthless and of little use. He focussed his eyes on seeking the help of the Lord. Another synonym for the help of God is the grace of God. We need to believe that the grace of God is more than just sufficient for us. Whatever be our quest or our challenge, we should depend on the invincible, exceeding power of God. Abraham affirmed that the Lord is His shield and the sword of his excellence. His word is the sword that executes God’s will in our lives. The Goliath challenge was necessary to take David to the next level of leadership and the realization of his potential and God’s promise to him. God places a set of dreams, desires and skills in us as a “do- it -yourself kit.” Our potential is our promise and commitment to God to do our best and His promise is the means to realize it. The "Goliath challenges" of our lives are God's short cut to our promotion in terms of reputation,testimony, abilities, faith, leadership, legacy and eternal life.

Prateep V Philip

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Three Types of Deliverance

UV 1101/10,000 Three Types of Divine Deliverance

For thou hast delivered my soul from death, mine eyes from tears, and my feet from falling.

Psalm 116 v 8

It is the desire of every individual to live forever in the land of the living. The Pharaohs built the great pyramids and preserved their bodies in the hope that they would live forever. To this day, men and women everywhere build monuments and name cities and roads after themselves in the hope that at least they will live in the memories of successive generations. Scripture says that a great price has to be paid to be able to live forever. The Lord has delivered our souls from death by paying the price and giving us the hope of eternal life in Christ. Being delivered from eternal death and to be given eternal life is far more valuable than all the wealth in the world. The good we do here on earth will also pass the test of fire and continue forever. Whatever we do here will echo into eternity. The evil will be destroyed in the fire. We are no longer mortal beings but we are immortal and destined for eternity. Eternal life is the greatest blessing we have on account of our relationship with the Lord. The uni-verse above speaks of three types of deliverance, the first deliverance is spiritual and eternal relating to our spirits and souls, the second deliverance is for this world, related to our past and present emotional state and well being, the third is related to our self management and our future.

The Lord delivers our eyes from tears. Tears are caused by failure, by sickness, by torture and torment, by threat and fear, by death, imprisonment and separation. He wipes all our tears and comforts us in every type of situation. He protects us from the cause of great sadness. For instance, He has preserved our lives and the lives of our loved ones this far. The absence of a cause of great sadness is itself a source of happiness and joy in our lives. He adds no sorrow to our blessings. He breaks the cycle of shortcomings, curse or “hamartia” in our lives. Whatever the enemy plans against us, He turns to good. We need not live with fear or regret about the past. No effort is in vain, no intention futile, no moment is wasted as long as we are anchored in the Lord. Nothing and no one is beyond redemption, repair and restoration. The Lord redeems the lost and broken parts of our lives. He repairs, mends and ends those parts that need such treatment. Even if we have cause for sorrow or tears now, He promises that those who sow in tears will reap in joy. When the people of Israel began dying of snake bite, the Lord asked Moses to raise a brass snake on a pole and whoever when bitten by a snake and looked on it was healed of the poison. It has become the icon or symbol of medicine. This is a foreshadow of Jesus being raised on the cross. Today, whoever looks to the cross is healed, blessed, delivered.

He keeps our feet from stumbling, implying that He pre-empts us from making big mistakes. The mistakes we do make are masterpieces in His hand. He reduces the cost of our follies or preserves us from the shame and pain. The Holy Spirit warns us when we are about to make bad decisions. When we ignore the warning and take the fall, He breaks our fall by catching us before we hit the hard ground. He gives us wisdom and the gifts of the Spirit so that will walk on even ground and not mindlessly meander, fall or fail. If we lean on our own understanding,we tend to stumble and fall but as we trust Him and lean on Him and seek His guidance at every crucial step we are about to take, He will lead us. People cannot be our leader. They are flesh and blood like us and are prone to the same weaknesses and temptations. Their knowledge, understanding, vision and commitment are limited. God Himself is our leader. He will lead us in counter-intuitive ways. He has both supernatural wisdom and supernatural power. When the liberated nation of Israel sought to have a king like other nations, the Lord hesitated knowing the limitations of human leadership. He had personally led Moses and all Israel out of bondage in Egypt and through the desert to the promised land. The land of the living is the promised land where the Lord promises to take us. We should not pitch our tents in the desert and the wilderness as if we are permanently settled here on earth.

Prateep V Philip

Friday, May 23, 2014

Greater than the Power of Lions

UV 1100/10,000 Greater than the Power of the Lions

He delivereth and rescueth, and he worketh signs and wonders in heaven and in earth, who hath delivered Daniel from the power of the lions.

Daniel 6 v 27

As Daniel believed in God, he was delivered from the jaws of death. He had harmed no one wilfully. He was innocent before God but some men jealous of his influence and status, accused him of disobeying the law proclaimed by King Darius. The presidents and princes of the empire of Darius had got him to issue a decree that for thirty days, no one would present any petition to any god or any man except to King Darius. The penalty for disobedience was that such a person would be thrown into a den of lions. Daniel continued to pray at three set times at an open window in full view of the passing public. Consequently, King Darius reluctantly agreed to have him thrown into a den of lions. Even at the pain of death at the mouth of lions, Daniel continued to kneel and pray. As Darius expected the God whom Daniel served sent an angel and shut the mouth of the lions. Darius then praised the God of Daniel as the living God, the one whose dominion never ends, who endures forever, whose kingdom will not be destroyed, who rescues and saves, who does signs and wonders in the heavens and on earth.

Even today the Lord delivers those who believe in Him from the power of the lions. The first lion the Lord delivers our souls from is satan, the roaring, hungry and roaming lion. The teeth of this lion are the temptations of lust and pride. When the Lord enables us to overcome temptations, He is snubbing this lion. The power of the lion is the fear of death or severe injury that it can subject us to. Jesus by embracing death on our behalf, having taken all our sins upon Himself has delivered us forever from the power of death and the power of sin. In so doing, Jesus has reduced satan to being just a toothless lion or worse still, the decaying carcass of a lion, a defeated foe. Jesus is presently the Lion of Zion and His mere roar is sufficient to cause awe and obedience in heaven and on earth. The promises of God that we can appropriate in the name of Jesus are the sweet honey that drips from the wild beehive that has grown within the carcass of the dead lion.

A lion is a metaphor for the people who are powerful and intimidating in our lives. These could be seniors, colleagues or others who threaten our peace and security. The lion could also be an unknown lurking danger to our lives or our well being. The lion could be a threat to harm our reputation or spoil our testimony. The lion could be a sickness or an accident. The Lord watches over us and places a hedge of protection around us in all these circumstances. In order to deliver us, the Lord is prepared to pull out all His plugs, to work signs and wonders. No person or force on earth or in the spirit world is more powerful than Him and as such nothing or no one can harm us as long as we walk in faith and kneel in prayer. The presidents and princes of the world or the prince of darkness cannot touch a hair on our heads without the permission of God. In the case of the martyrs through the ages, the Lord permitted it for a specific purpose. The same lions that left Daniel unharmed pounced on his accusers and destroyed them. The stone that the adversaries plan to roll on us, will roll back on them. They will fall in the very pit they dig for us. The key to success in life for Daniel was his faith and his life of discipline and prayer.

Prateep V Philip

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Being Framed by the Word or World

UV 1099/10,000 Being Framed by the Word or the World

Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.

Hebrews 11 v 3

Faith enables us to understand what our minds cannot understand. Science that is a product of our minds can never explain how the world and all in it were brought into being. The entire universe was brought into existence by the Word of God. The invisible thoughts of God became visible things. Faith is the process of calling out the visible out of the invisible. Faith implies that all those things that cannot be seen hold such a significance in our hearts and souls that the things that can be seen either pale into insignificance or acquire a new meaning. Since the entire world or the universe is formed and framed or governed by the word of God, we can find in the Word the ruling principles of life. We need to make our lives compatible or conforming to these principles of life.

One of the ruling principles of life discovered from the above uni-verse is that the material pursuits of mankind are subordinated or subject to the invisible or spiritual pursuits of mankind. We need to give priority to the unseen God, His unseen Kingdom with the help of the Word that we can see, read and understand. We call into being in our lives many things based on what we focus our attention and minds on. We can call into our lives grace, power, healing, deliverance and multiple blessings and breakthroughs by placing our faith in the specific words of God related to what we are seeking. On the contrary, when we call a project or task we are undertaking a disaster, we are calling a disaster to us like a man calls a playful puppy to him. We too have been given a God-like power to call into being with our words many thing into visible reality out of the invisible reality, into palpable experience what was only a perception before. A person who conforms to the principles of this seen world is working it the reverse way: from the seen to the unseen. To such a person, riches are more significant than invisible truths, physical pleasure is more vital than a future blessing or curse, consumption is more important than contribution. He is framed by a world-view of chance or fate. The person who is framed by the Word is governed by faith and choice.

Since the entire universe is framed or surrounded or held together or governed by the Word of God, it is best for each individual to have his or her life also framed by the word of God. We will be able to understand mysteries that elude the most brilliant scientists of the world. We will be able to fathom the depth of the meaning of life that has not been captured by the greatest philosophers of history. We will be enabled to enjoy the riches of the great promises of God that neither the intellectual nor the elite have access to. To be framed by the Word implies in practical terms that we start each day meditating on it, meditating on different aspects of the Word right through all the waking hours, applying our understanding of it to the visible and known challenges, tasks and goals of our lives as well as relationships and communication. To be framed by the Word means that it sets the intellectual, relational , emotional and spiritual boundaries of our lives. Within those limits we have great freedom. Beyond, we are again subjecting ourselves to the world of chance and fate. The alternative to being framed by the Word is to be framed by the enemy of our souls, the accuser, the impoverisher, the accuser, the tempter. If we are not framed by the Word, we will be framed by the world. If we love the Word, we will not love the world. If we love the world, we will not love the Word. If we love the Word, we will love God. If we love God, we will love the Word.

Prateep V Philip

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Pain is Gain, Weakness is Strength

UV 1098/10,000 Pain is Gain, Weakness is Strength
Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.

2 Corinthians 12 v 10

St Paul presents in this uni-verse a paradoxical statement that when he is weak, he is strong. His weaknesses in spirit, mind and body, his faults, his shortcomings, his inability to meet his own need, the persecutions and difficult circumstances he faced made him humble, supple and dependent on God. Through all these earthly circumstances, his faith in Christ kept him in heavenly peace. He did not therefore despise himself or his circumstances for these deficiencies. Instead, he found his confidence and sustenance in these inadequacies. He cultivated an attitude of being thankful for these circumstance. He even spoke openly about these as something not to be ashamed of but to revel in.

God provides grace to fill the gaps in our lives. He enables us to either endure or overcome our weaknesses. He builds our character, patience, humility, wisdom and faith through these circumstances. Moses as a child and till he was a young man had grown up as a prince of Egypt, a person who knew no shortages, whose every desire was granted as soon as he expressed it. But this made him proud, self confident and consequently distant from the God who had a calling on his life. His anger and aggression caused him to flee from the palace and all Egypt to an unknown land and among unknown people. He had moved from his comfort zone to a discomfort zone, a zone of high learning and leaning. He became a humble person fit to be used as a messenger of Almighty God before mighty Pharaoh. He was used to humble the might of Egypt and of Pharaoh. The staff that Moses held in his hand had more power than all the spears, swords, chariots, horses, magicians and soldiers of Pharaoh Thutmoses III. Yet it was not the staff. It had power as it was held by Moses. Yet Moses had no power. It was the hand that held Moses that had all the power. The same hand holds you and me. IF we suffer infirmities, blame, persecution, distress, shortages and hardship while we are being held by that hand, we know that He who takes us through it is competent to take us through safely and that He is doing it for a greater purpose that we may not be able to perceive immediately.

IT is contrary to human nature to find pleasure in pain and suffering. But the Lord will give us not just the ability to endure suffering but to enjoy it. He will only allow that much pain which is needed to shape our faith but not enough to break it. He carefully calibrates the amount of suffering that each one of us needs to make that weakness a source of strength. We will not struggle and resist as we are being held in the strong hand of the Lord. It comes from knowledge and admission that we cannot do it on our owns strength and knowledge and trust in the strength of the Lord. When I survived with severe injuries in the assassination of Mr Rajiv Gandhi 23 years ago at Sriperumbudur, my pride and confidence as an IPS officer was broken. I realized that neither my position, power, training, influence, family, money or possessions, qualifications, knowledge, wisdom, talents had saved my life. I truly realized that " salvation comes from the Lord." When we realize this, all the aforesaid belongs to the Lord, no longer to us. In my weakest moments when I feel vulnerable, this knowledge is my strength.

Prateep V Philip

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

The S-Word

UV 1097/10,000 The Spiritual Sword

For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

Hebrews 4 v 12

Why is the Bible, the Word of God described in terms of being a deadly weapon, a sharp double-edged sword? It does the opposite of a sword for a sword kills, harms, maims, cuts, injures, severes limbs and heads. But the Word gives eternal life, heals, delivers, strengthens, unites, blesses, uplifts, builds hope and character, releases power and sets in motion events and miracles in our lives. In short, the Word does everything a sword cannot do. It is a s-word or spiritual word since it creates a communication between the Spirit of God and the spirit of man. It is a sword as it penetrates deep into our the core of our being, to the point where bone meets marrow, the point where soul meets spirit. The point where soul meets spirit is the zone of maximum impact. Even twenty years of education does not impact this zone as it ignores and is ignorant of the spiritual need of man. Education focusses only on the mind of man. It is therefore a blunt-edged weapon. But even an hour of studying the Word with the active assistance of the Holy Spirit, the interpreter of the Word can sufficiently impact this zone of learning to create swift, effective and lasting change.
The Word cuts deep but the cuts bring life , hope, healing, strength and blessing. The Word cuts out our egos which seek to glorify our own selves. The Word splits our tongues so that they become spiritual swords. It transforms our communication and makes it more wholesome, truthful and helpful. The Word does a deep work in our hearts and transforms our attitudes. The Word creates change in our minds and alters our priorities. The Word breaks down walls and barriers. It extends the boundaries of our wisdom and understanding. The Word washes and cleanses our conscience. The Word trains and equips us for spiritual warfare. The Word fills us with passion and commitment to the Lord. A sword brings pain but the s-word brings us gain. A sword leaves weeping wounds on the human body but the s-word causes our spirits to weep in repentance. Like with a physical sword, our grip on the Word counts. Like David used Goliath’s sword to slay him, we can use the s-word to slay the invisible giants of our lives that challenge us, mock us, intimidate us.

The Word enables us to discern the thoughts and intent of our own hearts. It helps us to discover the motive behind our thoughts and desires. As it is double-edged, it affects equally both the one speaking the Word and the one hearing or receiving it. It helps us discern the motives, intentions, attitudes of the people we are dealing with. It makes us sharper, smarter and wiser. It is double-edged as it creates internal change in us and external change in the world around. It is double-edged as we will be impacted in our understanding and the world will be impacted with our expression. The s-word gives us access not just to one weapon but to the whole armoury of God. The Word transforms our thought process. After the fall of man, our thought process became ANT or automatic negative thought process. Saturating our minds with the Word will change it back to automatic positive thought process or APT. The Word is a spiritual sword as it liberates us from fears and turns our fears into faith. Jesus is described as “Logos” or the Word by John. In the Book of Revelation, Jesus wear a robe on which is written the title, “The Word of God.” When Jesus comes again as a righteous Judge, He will judge in accordance with the Word. During His ministry on earth, His words were full of grace and truth. We too need to share the Word with grace and truth. The Word is a powerful weapon forged by God that is non violent but powerful, effective, impactful and offers solutions for every human predicament. It is the primary means by which the Lord gives us hope and a future. When we pray, act and live without using the Word, we are leaving the sword unsheathed and idle in the scabbard of our minds. When we pray, recalling, claiming and meditating on the Word in every situation and every day, we are continually swinging the sword skillfully in every direction, in 360 degrees. The range of the reach of our s-word is our circle of faith or the area of impact of our faith. The s-word is the key piece in the armour of God to maximise this impact or contribution we make to the Kingdom of God. Anyone handling a weapon is keen on maximising its lethal impact. In contrast, anyone handling the s-word would focus on maximising its life-giving and life-changing impact.

Prateep V Philip

Monday, May 19, 2014

Holding onto Faith

UV 1096/10,000 Holding Onto Faith

The LORD shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace.

Exodus 14 v 14

Right through scripture and history, God has manifested that He is the God of impossible odds. When the Egyptian chariots, cavalry and troops closed in on the fleeing Israelites, nobody would have given the Hebrew race a chance. They would have been overpowered in just a while by the military might of Egypt. In fact, the Israelites also despaired and cried out to Moses, “ Why did you bring us out of Egypt to die in the desert ? “ But Moses displayed his faith. He did not flinch at the sight of the huge force that was in pursuit and in striking distance. He did not even go down on his knees to pray. His faith had grown so much over the many encounters He had with Jehovah that far that he did not entertain any doubt that He who had delivered them in the past will deliver them now. He did not plead or cringe before God. He did not advice or offer counsel to God. He did not try to “ help” or offer assistance to God to find a resolution to the crisis. We too in times of crisis should just hold onto Christ and do His bidding. Holding onto our peace does not mean “doing nothing”. It does not mean passivity or complacency. It means holding onto the promises of God to deliver us in every situation and whatever be the odds against us, knowing who He is, knowing His Word and acknowledging and trusting Him at every step and stage. The uni-verse is a commitment of God not that He may fight but that He shall surely fight for us. We need to hold onto our faith in this commitment of God.

Moses told the Israelites in a calm tone, “ Do not be afraid… The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” The Lord then prompted Moses to tell the people to move on for He had prepared His plan for battle: He asked Moses to hold his staff over the Red Sea and that made the waters stand apart like walls for the Israelites to cross over as on dry land. He bought time for the Israelites to cross over by sending the angel and the pillar of cloud that was moving ahead of them in the desert to the rear of the Israelites. The cloud produced darkness on the side of the Egyptians and light on the side of the Israelites. The message from this is that when we fight on the side of right, we will find light. This happened for the whole duration of the night. During the last watch of the night, the Lord threw the Egyptians into confusion. He caused the wheels of the chariots to come off so that it was difficult for them to pursue the Jews. Some of them realized that the Lord was fighting against them and that it was pointless for them to pursue them. But the more they hardened their minds and resolve to capture and kill the fleeing hapless Israelites, the Lord manifested His power. The Israelites had lived all their lives seeing only Egyptians ruling over them and oppressing them. But from that day God gave them complete deliverance. They would never see the Egyptians again all their lives. As the climax, Moses was asked to hold his staff over the water of the Red Sea to make the standing waters flow back and drown the pursuing Egyptian army. Recent archaeological discoveries have confirmed finding rusted chariot wheels at the bottom of the Red Sea. The great events of the Exodus happened in the year 1446 BC when Thutmoses III was the Pharaoh. Even in those days when there were no newspapers or mass media, the news of the amazing Jewish victory travelled far and wide and the awe of the God of Israel fell upon all of the kingdoms in the path of the Jews on their return to Canaan. The story of the Jewish Exodus is a metaphor for our life on this planet. The forces of Satan( the Pharaoh of this world who keeps changing his word and promise) hold us in bondage to sin, death and misery from the point of birth till God raises the great deliverer Jesus to take us across from slavery to freedom, from death to eternal life.
Why does God allow so many struggles in the lives of His flock? It is to reveal His power, sovereignty and glory. The people on His side see the light, hope, love, grace and mercy while the people opposing Him see the darkness of death, defeat, shame.. All of scripture is a rallying point for all people to join the winning side of God. He always takes the side of the weak against the strong, the side of the just against the unjust, the side of the faithful against the faithless. Whatever be the odds against us, the Lord will turn the tide of the battle to give us victory and deliverance. We only need to hold our peace, remain still in our spirits, remain calm, not worried, anxious and confident that the Lord will deliver us. We should not wince as the God in whom we trust is both faithful and invincible. IF He was whimsical and acted in accordance to His whim, pleasure and mood, then we could not rely on Him even if His power is formidable. But as He is faithful to His Word and His promises, as He does not change, as He has no favourites or prejudice, we know for sure He will act on our behalf as long as we ourselves are doing our very best to be faithful and just. It is also an exhortation to us, “ Don’t just do it but whatever you do, do the just.”

Prateep V Philip

Sunday, May 18, 2014

The Ministering Angels

UV 1095/10,000 The Ministering Angels

Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?

Hebrews 1 v 14

The angels are the ministering spirits of the Lord. They minister to the Lord with continual praise and worship. He sends them as messengers to convey important messages to humanity. Abraham the father of faith had angelic visitations. The angel delivered the promise of God that he will have a heir by Sarah. At the time of the birth of His Son, the Messiah of the whole world, Jesus, Gabriel the archangel was sent to convey the good news. An angel was sent to Jacob in the wilderness. Jacob wrestled with the angel till day break that the angel bless him. Angels as representatives of God have the power to bless. Angels of death are also written of in scripture. The angel of death visited the houses of all Egyptians before the tenth plague in which the first-born son of every Egyptian died. This was the last straw that broke Pharaoh’s resistance to let the Israelites leave. The angel Michael overcame resistance to the messenger of God reaching Daniel. Angels are sent to administer gifts. The angel Gabriel came to Daniel to give him skill and understanding of visions. Angels were sent to give victory to the army of Israel. Angels were sent to deliver the apostles from chains and prisons. Taking their lesson from the fall of Lucifer, a chief angel who had fallen due to pride and ambition, the angels always conduct themselves with great humility, grace and serve us in a self-effacing manner. They can slay a man for appropriating glory to himself and not giving the due praise to God just as an angel smote Herod who failed to give God the glory. They are quite practical and wise creatures: Peter in prison was in a kind of daze but the angel asked him to wear his clothes and put on his sandals. Angels are powerful: with one blow even the chains on the imprisoned apostles fell off. Prayers and faith trigger angelic visitations. When Peter was in prison and guarded by four squads of guards, the church was earnestly praying for him. Angels have emotions: when Sarah laughed at the promise that she would bear a male child to Abraham, the angel took offence and she hastened to cover up her lapse with a denial.

Believers in Christ are the heirs of salvation. The angels are sent to minister to us: to encamp around and guard those who fear the Lord, to encourage us, to strengthen us in our weak moments. The presence of angels is a sign of the favour and grace of God. An angel was sent to the devout Roman centurion Cornelius to ask him to send for Peter. The Lord is Ebenezer or Helper to those who believe and trust in Him. He helps us often by sending us these ministering spirits.

We are created lower in the spiritual hierarchy than the angels who are also created but heavenly beings. But the astonishing aspect of our faith is that once we believe in Christ and become co-heirs with Him, we take precedence over the angels. We have the power and the right as inheritors of grace to command the angels to assist us. We can command them provided we are in right relationship with God. We can ask them to protect us physically, to guide us, to help us with our professional work, to face difficult situations. Often the angels accompany us unseen and invisible but at times they are visible to the human eye. The angels rejoice and celebrate when our homes are frequented by prayer and worship. The ultimate priority and task of the angels is to usher our souls into the salvation that we receive by grace of faith.

Prateep V Philip

Saturday, May 17, 2014

The Beauty of Silence

UV 1094/10,000 The Beauty of Silence

Be silent, O all flesh, before the LORD: for he is raised up out of his holy habitation.

Zechariah 2 v 13

Reverence for the Lord will teach us the spiritual discipline of silence. We refrain from speaking as we enter His holy presence. We remain still as we recognize and realize His awesomeness. It is beyond words, comprehension and description and so we are moved to silence and stillness before the Lord. As we perceive His glory, understand the extent of His goodness and love, words will fail us. No muttering of words under our breath, no music or songs, no prayers or sounds. Allow the Lord’s presence to fill our entire being as an aroma fills a habitation, slowly but surely.

The human senses and the tongue are not prepared for an experience, a close encounter with a holy God. This is the reason that Isaiah the prophet cried out as He perceived the Lord sitting on His throne, high and lifted up, surrounded by the angels and archangels, the heavenly host: “ … Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.” Then a seraphim flew to him with a live coal from the altar of God and touched his tongue and purged it, cleansed it of its iniquity.

We need to have some times of absolute silence and stillness before the Lord. We need to make a sacrifice of our speech and our movements to the Lord. He will cleanse and purify our tongues and bless our limbs. His holiness and beauty will pervade and fill our being. Before people enter the habitation or office of a person of high ranking or importance, they prepare themselves. They remind themselves in whose presence they are going to be in. They caution themselves to be measured in their words, gestures and tones. No unnecessary sound should escape their lips even inadvertently. How much more we should prepare ourselves as we enter the holy habitation of the Lord God! Our flesh should tremble with excitement and anticipation of the amazing experience we are about to behold. We need to behold the image of Jesus that John saw: a holy person whose feet are of gold, whose eyes are like blazing fire, whose voice is like the sound of many waters, who is dressed in a robe dipped in blood. He has a name written on Him that no one knows but He Himself. We will also see with our spiritual eyes the armies of heaven following Him, dressed in fine linen, white and clean, riding on white horses. These moments of intense silence, quiet worship and deep meditation will cleanse our tongues, our thoughts, our lives and enable us to be more perfect like Him. As we remain silent, we have the opportunity to remember all the greatness of the Lord that can be perceived here on earth for which even the angels worship Him.

Prateep V Philip

Friday, May 16, 2014

Moving to the Next Level

UV 1093/10,000 Moving to the Next Level
For promotion cometh neither from the east, nor from the west, nor from the south.
Psalm 75 v 6
As human beings, we have ambitions in life. We have aspirations for our children too. None of us want to remain at the same level all the time. We strongly yearn to move to the next level. But in this uni-verse, the Lord affirms that our promotion lies in His hands. He appoints or sets the time for every rise, for every break we get in life. Instead of looking to our connections or people we know, we need to look to the Lord for our promotion. In due time He will prosper us in our ways as He did for Jacob. Everything we assume to be a break can actually turn out to be a breakdown as it happened to the manipulating Jacob. Jacob after he fled from his home had no place to go. He had lost his bearings in life. In whichever direction he looked, it was only wilderness and an unknown and uncertain future. He looked to the God of his father, Isaac and his grandfather Abraham and the Holy Spirit prompted him to go to the house of Laban, his father’s kin. It took him fourteen years of labour for Laban before he could move to the next level of being independent. He could now return to the land of his father.

Sometimes there is a slip between the cup and the lip. Recently, a senior officer left to join a prestigious post that she had been selected for. She acted on the advice of her present boss. But unfortunately, the Supreme Court restrained her from acting in that post till it determined its validity. We must look to the Lord for guidance and to validate all our moves. Whether we should move east, west, south or north, we must seek specific cues and leading of the Lord. Leadership is like walking at the edge of knowledge, not knowing whether our next move will plunge us downwards or enable us to climb upwards. What we think could be a rise or promotion may lead to a fall. Trust in the Lord does not mean that we become indolent, lethargic and we rest on our oars or past triumphs of faith. It means a fine balance between due diligence and waiting for the dew of the Lord’s favour. God provides a ladder and a bridge in our lives not an escalator and a travelator. We got to do our own climbing and walking thankful for the bridge and the ladder for without it the best of us cannot cross over or climb.

We cannot hold more than a handful at a time in our hands or in our minds. It is best to trust in the Lord than in the princes or the rulers or influential people of this world. We are princes of the other world, sons and daughters of an eternal Kingdom. We have been spiritually promoted to these positions already on account of faith. Jesus as the Prince of Peace will give us peace in our decisions, the peace that the world cannot take away, that the enemy cannot steal or destroy. We too are princes along with Him and as princes of His kingdom, we should follow the principles of Jesus. The princes of this world rule through fear, distrust, love of money and power, pride, manipulation, favour and belief in chance. They form strategic alliances or nexus with evil to advance their causes. The princes and princesses of the Lord wait on the Lord for further promotion. Their principles are trust, contentment, peace, justice, love, humility and hope. Their only hope is anchored heavily in the Lord and His promises of Shalom promotion or due promotion in due time. They do not grasp for what is not intended by God for them. Even if today our hope is only as small as a fist, the Lord can cause it to expand and fill the whole sky.

Prateep V Philip

Thursday, May 15, 2014

The Choice to Nourish, Flourish or Perish

UV 1092/10,000 The Choice to Nourish, Flourish or Perish

And all the trees of the field shall know that I the LORD have brought down the high tree, have exalted the low tree, have dried up the green tree, and have made the dry tree to flourish: I the LORD have spoken and have done it.

Ezekiel 17 v 24

The Lord revels in comparing people with trees right through scripture. The reason is that we and our lives are a lot like trees. We need a good root. The good root the Lord offers is Jesus, an offspring of David, from the stump of Jesse. We need nourishment and water. We need to grow. It all starts with a seed. In management and leadership terms, the equivalent of a seed is a concept. Like a seed it should be packed in a compact manner. It should contain the germ or embryo of an idea that works in the real environment. Like trees, we have branches or different domains, activities and aspects of life in which we are engaged. In the uni-verse above, the Lord declares that all people shall know that He is the Lord and He is the one who brings down the high minded, those who think too highly of themselves, those who ride high on the shoulders of others, those who are haughty, proud and fond of exalting themselves. The Lord is not opposed to exaltation or the rising to greatness of human beings. But He is opposed to self exaltation, self promotion, self adulation. We should wait on the Lord to exalt us in due time. While we wait and after we receive His promise, we should continually exalt Him with praise, thanksgiving and worship emanating from hearts of humility and brokenness.

The Lord is also the one who makes the low tree grow and the dry tree glow. He revives the humble, those who acknowledge Him and seek His protection, provision and favour. People who seem to flourish like the evergreen tree in this world are caused to dry up and those who are dried up are caused to prosper, to bear fruit, to flourish. The Lord causes a reversal of fortunes of people depending on the orientation of our heart attitudes towards Him. The taller we grow, the more we should bend before the Lord in faith, reverence, gratitude, worship and humility. We should remember the paths by which He has brought us. We should recognize that all that we are and all that we have is given to us by Him. People without faith in God and hope of eternal life are like dry bones. When they come in contact with us or when they hear the God-spoken, God-breathed, God-inspired Word, their dry bones will come alive with hope, strength and vitality. Scripture says that the pillars of the earth are the Lord’s. Our rock foundation is Jesus that nothing can shake and on that rock foundation are the pillars of the Lord: the Word, faith, wisdom, the fruit of the Spirit, the gifts of the Spirit, the everlasting hope, the spirit of excellence and above all,
the canopy of love.

Take the case of Michael Schumacher. He is known to be the finest motor sport icon. He is uber rich, ultra famous and extremely popular. But in one skiing accident, he suffered a head injury and is lying in coma for the past few months. He is doubtless a tall tree in the eyes of the world. But it ‘s a big question if he humbled himself before the Lord who gave him the health, the talent, the success, the wealth ? If we believe that everything is gained by accident, we could also lose it all in an accident. We should not be so short-sighted to wait till the Lord cuts us down. Nebuchadnezzar the King of Babylon instead of humbling himself after hearing the Word of the Lord spoken by the civil servant Daniel, continued to exalt himself and he was too full of himself. As a result, he was reduced as in Daniel’s vision to a tree stump that was chained. He suffered a mental illness –schizophrenia. When he humbled himself, he was healed and restored to power and position. His heir and successor did not heed spiritual warnings and so the Lord sent him a warning with a writing on the wall and then he was cut off. Like all physicians do at the time of medical examination, the Lord weighs us, measures us and determines what He needs to do in our lives to match His expectations or to fulfil His righteous will. When we are rooted in Jesus, the branches of our lives or all domains will be blessed. Even the dry ones or the hitherto unproductive, vulnerable, weak parts will also begin to be nourished and flourish. The Lord does whatever He speaks in His Word. We cannot say today that He has not spoken to us. Whatever He wants to tell us is already spoken in the Word. What He has spoken in His holy Word, that He will do. Just as water, minerals and nourishment continually flow in as sap by suction into the various parts of the tree, the words of the Lord should continually ooze through our hearts, minds and spirits.

Prateep V Philip

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Discerning the Times

UV 1091/10,000 Discerning the Times
Behold, the days come, saith the Lord GOD, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD
Amos 8 v 11

Just as there are years of abundance of crop, there are years of scarcity or famine. It was a great famine that caused Jacob to send his sons to Egypt to bring back food for the family to sustain the famine that had hit Israel. Unknown to the family, God had given one of his own sons Joseph the foreknowledge of the coming famine through a dream that Pharaoh saw. Joseph was appointed Prime Minister of Egypt and he oversaw the preparation for the coming seven years of famine. He organized large granaries to collect the food grain during the years of plenty. He mobilized sufficient labour. He made laws for taxing up to one third of the produce during the seven years of plenty. God had built up his faith and abilities over the years of preparation from his childhood. He acted with boldness, authority, wisdom and faith. Joseph had the gift to discern the times. The grain he collected was to serve the purpose of seed as well as food for people. The Word similarly is both the seed to plant in people’s hearts to produce eternal life as well as the means of sustenance of our spirits.

Just as there are years of abundance and scarcity of physical food, there are years of abundance, freedom and blessing of hearing the Word and there are years of scarcity of the opportunity to hear the Word of God. Spiritual famine implies that conditions will not be congenial for the sharing of one’s faith. During the years of plenty and freedom in the land, the Lord asks His faithful workers to train people to be carriers and ambassadors of the Word. Our spiritual granaries are our hearts and minds where we collect the grains of truth the Lord has taught us over the years. It will sustain us and it will help us bring hope, meaning, healing, blessing into the lives of others who are needy and thirsty for the truth.

Without food, people become emaciated, bone thin, weak, exhausted and even die. Similarly, without enough spiritual food in the form of the revealed Word of God, people become spiritually famished, weak and ineffective. Though famine is a terrible experience and entails great suffering, the Lord sometimes uses it as an instrument to unite people, to chastise them, to correct them, to give them a sense of direction and purpose, to renew their faith. He used famine to unite Joseph with his brothers and father. He used famine to build the nation of Israel from that single family. He used famine to raise Joseph as ruler as prophesied in a dream which he saw as a teenager. He used famine to vindicate Joseph who was unjustly sold into slavery by his own jealous brothers. The years of plenty are years of preparation and the years of famine are the time of waiting for the will of the Lord to be done. If during the years of plenty, people took their blessings for granted and wasted opportunities to learn and understand the Word, then it will produce death and destruction in the years of famine. We are expected to be prudent and wise with our resources during the time of plenty. It requires us to believe in the vision that God has given us and to act with foresight. Noah built the ark on dry land when there was no drop of rain in sight. Similarly, we are expected to act with faith and in anticipation of the time when people will be aching to hear the Word like one who is starving.

Prateep V Philip

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Formation and Tranformation

UV 1090/10,000 Formation and Transformation
Instead of the thorn shall come up the fir tree, and instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle tree: and it shall be to the LORD for a name, for an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.

Isaiah 55 v 13

The Roman soldiers thought they were just having fun when they placed and pressed down a crown of thorns onto the head of the crucified Christ. But they were unwittingly fulfilling prophecy for those ten or so thorns that pierced His sinless brow and left some ten streams of sacred blood flowing down His face and hair were signs that the thorns that pierced the souls and minds of humanity would be removed forever. In His resurrection, He exchanged the thorns for a throne. The thorns are a symbol for the destiny of humanity. We hurt each other often for no reason simply because we are thorns by nature. We will burn like thorns in fire but for Christ taking the thorns upon Himself. The thorns are also the sinful desires of our heart that pierce us with many sorrows. They are the worries and anxieties that have grown in our minds causing us much angst, fear, insecurity and pain. He has taken away our crown of thorns and given us instead an eternal crown of joy.

Our destiny is transformed from being mere sources of pain to being grand creations of the Lord- the fir tree. ( Pic below) A fir tree is an image of majesty, glory and grandeur of the Creator. It endures severe winter as well as summer. It withstands heavy gales and storms. A myrtle tree is a beautiful plant with extremely beautiful and colourful flowers. These two images are used in the uni-verse to demonstrate that when we are grafted onto Christ by faith, we cease to be thorns, we cease to be affected by thorns and we become new creations- we are no longer associated with pain but with the strength of faith to endure all seasons and to be beautiful and majestic for the glory of God.

When we are tempted to reply to the barbed comments of colleagues and friends, we must remind ourselves,
“I am not a thorn. I am a fir tree known for its poise, majesty, stature and dignity. I am also a myrtle tree known for its fantastic flora.” When people thank, praise or flatter us, we should remind ourselves that it is Christ who took away our thorns. We are meant for the renown and fame of God and not our own. When those who threaten us say that they will cut us off, we need to affirm our faith, “ I am an everlasting sign of the grace and glory of Christ that cannot, shall not and will not be cut off.” Faith begins its good work in us by transforming not our self image- what we think of ourselves but our God-image: our image of God and God’s image of us or how He sees us. When we begin to see how He perceives us: as fir trees and myrtle trees and not thorns and briers, our lives are blessed for transformation. The first time God created us it was formation- we did not participate in it. The second time He re-creates us in His image- we participate in the process that is called transformation. Transformation turns sinners into winners, under-performers into over-achievers, the ugly into beautiful, the hopeless into the hopeful, the weak into the strong.

Prateep V Philip

new leadership and management concepts: God-image, Formation and Transformation

Monday, May 12, 2014

Never Sell Your Birthright for Anything

UV 1089/10,000
Don’t Sell Your Spiritual Blessings for Anything
And Jacob said,” Sell me this day thy birthright”.

Genesis 25 v 31

The Bible is full of powerful positive models and powerful negative examples. We ought to learn from both these templates of human behaviour and character. Esau was so hungry after returning from a day’s work in the field. Jacob had a bowl of lentils prepared. Esau pleaded for the bowl of lentils. Jacob asked him to sell his birthright as the first born son to him. Esau felt that he would die of hunger and what good would his birthright do in that condition. He agreed to sell his birthright for a bowl of soup. Jacob taking advantage of Esau’s lack of self control is also a powerful negative example. It later led to greater duplicity when he succumbed to his mother Rebecca’s sinister plan to rob Esau of his father’s blessings by acting as if he was Esau. Jacob’s wandering in the wild as a fugitive after his father Isaac’s death and his encounters with the angels of the Lord had a salutary effect on him and he turns into a powerful positive model. He began to realize that spiritual blessings are not something you can buy or sell. You can believe and receive it. You can deceive or be deceived and lose it. Our spiritual blessings are priceless. We can’t put a price tag on it. We can’t exchange or forfeit it for anything on earth.

The bowl of soup is a metaphor for profit or wealth or money or privilege or advantage or favour of this world. Esau became a powerful negative example of a person who preferred his mundane gain to eternal blessings. In exchanging his birthright in return for a bowl of food, he was exchanging the satisfaction of his fleshly appetite with the possibility of the fulfilment of his earthly as well as eternal destiny. Other powerful negative examples are Judas selling Jesus for a handful of silver coins, Ananias and Saphira withholding part of the proceeds of the sale of property and lying about it. The powerful negative examples are templates to teach us what we should not do or become. Judas a person blessed to be a disciple brought upon himself the severest of curses by betraying Jesus, very God and Messiah, the Prince of Heaven, Architect of the created universe. Ananias and Saphira were a couple blessed to be part of the early church, included among the first fruit of the harvest of faith but condemned themselves by lying about the sale of their own property. Jacob brought a curse upon himself by his cunning and his duplicity.

The Bible at the same time has powerful positive models for us to emulate: that of Daniel and his integrity, his practical spirituality, his wisdom and humility, that of Joseph, his purity, his capacity to forgive, his wisdom, that of St Paul, his zeal, his scholarship, his faith, willingness to sacrifice and endure hardship for the cause. Even today in our contemporary world, in our own circles, we have many powerful positive models to emulate and powerful negative examples to learn some lessons of what we should avoid at any cost. As we actively learn from these templates of human behaviour and character, the temple of God is built in and with our lives.

Prateep V Philip

Sunday, May 11, 2014

The Constancy, Consistency and Dynamism of God's Power

UV 1088/10,000 The Consistency, Constancy and Dynamism of God

And there came a man of God, and spake unto the king of Israel, and said, Thus saith the LORD, Because the Syrians have said, The LORD is God of the hills, but he is not God of the valleys, therefore will I deliver all this great multitude into thine hand, and ye shall know that I am the LORD.

I Kings 20 v 28

God is in control in the high points of our lives-the mountain tops as well as in the valley times. Our faith needs to demonstrate our constancy and consistency in believing God and His Word. Life is neither a bed of roses nor a vale of tears. He allows sorrows and pain in the low points of our lives so that it has a cathartic or cleansing effect on our spirits, minds and bodies just as tears have a cleansing effect on our eyes. My faith would not have been nowhere it is today but for the valley of death experiences I went through in the human bomb assassination of Mr Rajiv Gandhi in Sriperumbudur. That night my faith became the only bullet and bomb proof jacket I was wearing. My faith and purpose in life became clearer and stronger and my character purer after these deadly experiences.

But on an average the Lord allows more high points or mountain top experiences in the lives of His children. He encourages us by showing us that His supernatural and abundant favour rests on us. He tests our faith in these good times to see if we acknowledge and honour Him with praise and thanksgiving or whether we forget and act as if we did it all on our own strength and abilities. The Syrians mistakenly thought that The Lord God could deliver the Israelites only in the hills and not in the plains. The Lord proved that the location of the battle or the strategy is not what determines victory for those who trust Him. He is the one who can move mountains or move us to the top of the mountains. He is also the one who can lift up the valleys or lift us up in our valley experiences in life. Whatever be the multitude of people, situations and forces challenging or confronting us, the Lord will deliver us from it and deliver it into our hands. The bankrupt Kingfisher Airlines of India had a tagline, the King of Good Times. Jesus is King in Good Times and Bad Times, King on the Mountain Tops and King in the Valleys of Life as well as on the plains and in the plateau, King of the depths and the heights. However, the strategy of deliverance, the weapon of victory, the means of redemption, the manifestation of power and grace will change dynamically from person to person, from one good time to another, from one bad experience to another.

Having said that God is consistent and faithful in the demonstration and manifestation of His power and grace in our lives, we tend to cling to the Lord more closely in our lowest points when we can turn to virtually no one else. In our daily walk and our good times we tend to be more distant and remote from God. We are not very keen to acknowledge our intimacy or our dependency on Him. We tend to rely on what we can see, hear, touch. We tend to be absent-minded as far as God is concerned, not remembering His spiritual presence with us all the times. Our prayers become less frequent and our worship and praise will happen in fits and starts. We compel God by our fickle behaviour to change the weather conditions. But He promises never to test us beyond our strength. When Elijah became weary of life and his challenges, the Lord sent a chariot of fire to deliver Him from his spiritual valley. When Jonah became weary of his prophetic ministry, the Lord sent him the sign of the gourd plant to encourage him. The ultimate purpose and meaning of all the high points and low points as well as what we call the normal days or averages of our lives is so that we know that He who spoke these words and got it written by His servants is God, the great I Am.

Prateep V Philip

Saturday, May 10, 2014

The Supremacy of Divine Sovereignth

UV 1087/10,000 The Supremacy of Divine Sovereignty

All the peoples of the earth are regarded as nothing. He does as He pleases with the powers of heaven and the peoples of the earth. No one can hold back His hand or say to Him,” What have you done?”
Daniel 4 v 35

The Lord can bring back the entire humanity to dust if He merely withdraws His breath. He uses time, fortunes and death as great levelers to show the mighty their place. Even the most powerful human beings are powerful only to the extent the Lord has let them be. Even the richest, the strongest, the most influential have their soft and vulnerable points that can reduce them to nothing in no time. The Lord uses His awesome power to replace rulers, to change seasons, to humble the arrogant, proud and wicked. Nebuchadnezzar though a mighty King under whom Daniel served realized that he was nothing before the God whom Daniel served. On this planet, nations and their leaders are the most powerful and sovereign. But even the nations and their armies are like drops in a bucket before the Lord God. The smallness of the earth compared with the stars and the universe proves this point. Only in our humility before the Lord lies the possibility of enlargement, upliftment or greatness. We need to pray continually, “ less of me, more of you.”

The will of God is supreme, unquestioned, irrevocable. Once He has decided no man or force can stop. The one whom God has planted no man or force can uproot. Nothing happens by chance –either the Lord has allowed it to happen or He has willed it to happen. The only way we can approach the Lord God in His awesome power and glory is on His own terms- in holiness, humility, reverence, love and faith. The only appropriate response before such an awesome God is to surrender all to Him.

What are we and what have we except what the Lord has done. Our abilities, talents and opportunities are God’s gifts. We have nothing in our power to cause these to grow or flourish. The gourd plant that God caused to grow over Jonah and then caused to be eaten up is a wonderful metaphor for all that God has given or caused in our lives. It is a temporary shade that God has given us for our comfort- even our material resources, our position or our contacts. Realizing our fragility and vulnerability vis- a- vis God’s awesomeness and amazing grace and power will always keep us full of reverence, wisdom, understanding and keenness to do nothing but the will of God. People who say they trust God and yet are worried about many aspects of their lives have either under-estimated the capacity of God or the commitment of God and try to fill the imagined gap with their own ineffectual contributions.

Prateep V Philip

Friday, May 9, 2014

The ABC of Happiness

UV 1086/10,000 THE ABC of Happiness
If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them.

John 13 v 17

The process of fulfillment or salvation is to know, to do and to be blessed. We need to know God personally, know His Word intimately and obey it diligently. The Lord knows how He has created and hard-wired us. We will not be happy if we pursue wealth, pleasure, fame, beauty or knowledge. We are happy only if we are in a state of union or oneness or fellowship with God. That oneness comes from knowing the Word and doing it. We are blessed when God finds us eager to please Him by doing His will. Abraham pleased God with His obedience to the point of sacrificing his only begotten son, Isaac. We may not be put to such a hard test. But each of us has to take risks in obeying the will of God for it will make us stand out in the crowd of conformity to human customs and beliefs. As they say in business, the bigger the risk, the greater the reward. Back in high school, I volunteered to do a chart on human happiness. At the time, I described friendship as being one of the primary causes or sources of human happiness. But today I realize that loneliness is not about not having friends. It is about not having a fixed and focused purpose in life. Once we have a purpose, it will bring us in touch with like-minded and purpose-driven people.

The word “ know” in scripture is not the same as empirical knowledge or knowledge that can be tested to prove certain assumptions. It is experiential knowledge. It is what we believe to be true. IF we believe it to be true that Jesus despite being the Lord and Heir of Heaven and the creator of the universe set aside His deity and became like a humble servant, we too should be willing to set aside our titles, comforts and entitlements and become a humble servant of God and of people. If we believe it to be true that we have been saved from eternal death by the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross, we should be eager that others around us also gain this saving knowledge of Christ. The extent of our obedience and discipline determines the quality of our belief.

Our happiness does not come primarily from what happens to us or from our circumstances. Our happiness is derived from our beliefs and from the practices that our beliefs have led us into. Our happiness is derived from a set of inner attitudes. To sum up, our happiness comes from ABC or attitudes, beliefs and conduct. Beliefs define the life of the believer. Beliefs determine the character of the believer. Beliefs produce discipline in the believer. When I explained yesterday about a civil servant and Jewish exile called Daniel who served under several emperors of the ancient world who disciplined himself and refrained from eating or doing anything that defiled his faith, a senior retired civil servant said that example is so powerful that it should be told or taught to every probationer selected into the prestigious Indian civil services every year. Our beliefs and our obedience in terms of the discipline and sacrifice called for by our beliefs make us a powerhouse of positive influence beyond the limitations of time and space.

Prateep V Philip

Thursday, May 8, 2014

The One Thing that Matters

UV 1085/10,000 The One Thing that Matters

Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.

Ecclesiastes 12 v 13

I was recently reading a book by a well known author on management. He said that mankind is in quest of the one essential principle of life, leadership and management that mattered to which all other principles can be subordinated. The idea is that if we can possibly find this one thing that matters in life, we can organize our days around it and develop a laser-sharp focus and not fritter our time, life, efforts and resources away. He was looking for the conclusion of the whole matter- the essence of all knowledge and wisdom. Needless to say it eluded him as he was looking for it in every other book except the book called “ The Book.” When we commit to fear God and obey Him, we are declaring to God, to ourselves and to others that we are people of faith. The alternative is to be people of fate who tell God, “ my life is my own business. You can stay out of it. I will believe what I want to believe. I will do what I want to do. I will reap the consequences or rewards.”

The above uni-verse puts it succinctly - “ Fear God and keep His commandments.” Everything else in life are but sub-texts or sub-themes. Our main goal is to reverence God and His Word. When we fear God, we will fear evil and that amounts to loving life and the good things of life. It amounts to loving oneself and others. Each of the ten commandments of God requires a certain quality of character and certain life-long habits to be built up. The first three commandments would require a person to be faithful, devout and reverential to the extent of not even uttering the name of God in vain or without purpose or context.

The fourth commandment of God to keep the Sabbath holy requires the habit of setting aside time for remembering, thanking and worshipping God in spirit, truth and the beauty of holiness. The fifth commandment reinforces the quality of respect and obedience to one’s parents, the sixth to eschew violence, the seventh to avoid dishonesty in one’s marital relationship and to stay faithful to one’s life partner, the eighth lays the foundation for a belief in the need to rely on honest labour for one’s material needs and not to steal or cheat. The ninth commandment not to bear false witness against anyone instills in one a sense of truthfulness. The tenth commandment inculcates the quality of being contented with what one has and not to covet the possessions of another. Jesus summed up all these commandments and corresponding qualities of character as love for God and love for one’s fellow beings. St Paul further delineated the qualities of love in his epistle to the Corinthian church: that we should not be proud, jealous, bitter or selfish but instead be patient, kind, hopeful, truthful, trustworthy. The whole duty of man is to develop these qualities of head and heart with a lifetime of discipline and obedience to the revealed will and Word of God.

Once we do this one thing-that of fearing God and obeying His commandments and give it top priority, everything else will fall in its due place. Our homes will be blessed. Our relationships will be blessed. Our work will be blessed. Our children will be blessed. Our finances will be blessed. The kingdom of God will be established on earth as it is in heaven. We will flourish and never perish. We might have struggles and reverses in order to test our faith as well as to strengthen it further but be sure we will bounce back.

Prateep V Philip

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

The Divine Dilemma

UV 1084/10,000 The Divine Dilemma

How shall I give thee up, Ephraim? how shall I deliver thee, Israel? how shall I make thee as Admah? how shall I set thee as Zeboim? mine heart is turned within me, my repentings are kindled together

Hosea 11 v 8

The Lord is always thinking of ways to redeem His people, to heal us of our backsliding, to make us mature in our faith and in all our ways. He will not give up on us easily. He is not a man to be short tempered and irritated with some act or word spoken by us that annoyed Him. He is gracious and will not cut us off from our intimate and personal relationship with Him for even some grievous hurt we have caused Him. In this uni-verse, the Lord bemoans the infidelity of Israel as she turned back to the fertility cults of the past and the golden calf idol. He was disappointed with the rebelliousness and waywardness of Ephraim. God was facing a divine dilemma whether to visit judgement or to show mercy to these people. Similarly, we may get deceived in our lives and transfer the source of our reliance and dependence from God to our bank balance or our profession or our abilities. These then become the golden calf of our lives. It is at these times that the Lord agonizes over us as any loving parent laments over a wayward son or daughter.

God is not a sadist. He takes no pleasure in willfully causing us hurt. He does not willingly afflict or hurt us. He does it only to discipline us, to prevent us from a greater harm and to build a greater hope and future for each of us. He does not want us to be pinned down or to clip our wings so that we cannot fly high or far. He is waiting to deliver us. He rejoices in vindicating us and in honouring us in every way possible. He desires to make our lives successful, meaningful, prosperous, joyful and an example in a positive sense to others.

Even when we rebel, when we willfully walk away from Him, violate His word and His will, the Lord looks at us and muses to Himself, “ How can I bring him or her back to me again? How can I show him the plain folly of his ways? How can I save Him from the mess and turn his life into a message?” He weighs the options and takes the least painful ones to bring us round again. But as the prophet Jonah said, “ the Lord God is compassionate. He is quick to forgive and bless and slow to punish.” Jonah was reluctant to issue warnings of judgement of God to Nineveh for the reason that God would change His mind from judgement to mercy after he had prophesied destruction. This would make him look small and powerless since what he had said had not happened. We must not imitate Jonah and fear that we would look small but rather want God to look as large-hearted as He is. Unless the hand of God is compelled, His Father’s heart is not to condemn or punish but to redeem, to bless and to reward.

Prateep V Philip

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

The Most Difficult Organ to Control

UV 1083/10,000 The Most Difficult Organ to Control
For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile

I Peter 3 v 10

Our lips should not be used for deception. We should keep our tongue away from speaking evil. If we do this, the Word guarantees that we will love our lives and we will see good days. The Psalmist writes that if we avoid guile and evil in our speech we will see many good days. The reason is that the eyes of the Lord will be upon us and His ears will be open to our cry. If we do not, the face of the Lord will be against us. Our prayer will be offensive to Him. He hears every loose word we speak. He knows the motive and thought behind every word.

When the Lord Jesus saw Nathaniel coming towards him, He testified, “ Behold an Israelite in whose mouth is no guile”. We should also so hold our conduct and attitudes that the Lord will similarly remark on seeing us come to Him, “ a man or woman in whose mouth is no guile.” As James writes, our tongues though small and tiny are like the rudder that can steer a boat out of many troubled waters or can be the very cause of strife-the spark that sets off a forest ablaze. Many leaders and common folk have used their tongues in such a way that it cuts off their heads.

James again wrote that if a man can control his tongue, he is perfect. If we want to be perfect in our speech, we just need to ask permission from each of the 32 teeth guarding our tongues before speaking a word. At least 32 seconds of thought will go into every word we speak. We will be sending our words through many filters before they emerge from our mouths. We can also adopt the dictum of the scriptures, “ Apples of gold in settings of silver.” The world teaches us speech is silver and silence is golden. The truth is that speech can be like golden apples produced from a furnace of silver. We need to meditate on the words of eternal life that Jesus spoke. We need to benchmark our words against the teachings of Jesus. Instead of guile, evil, sarcasm, vanity, gossip, criticism of others, we should always endeavour to speak words of appreciation, encouragement, positivity, confidence, faith, love and gratitude. The mouth will speak what the heart is full of. We need to treasure good and godly words in our hearts and that will ensure rivers of life-giving water will flow out to satisfy the thirst for truth and goodness of people around us. If we get our hearts, minds and mouths in proper alignment with the Word of God, our own words will be like arrows that hit the target and achieve the purpose they are meant for.

Prateep V Philip

Monday, May 5, 2014

The Rock of All Ages

The Rock of all Ages

And even to your old age I am he; and even to hoar hairs will I carry you: I have made, and I will bear; even I will carry, and will deliver you.

Isaiah 46 v 4

The other day the Lord showed me how two people with the same name aged differently. One was energetic and serving the Lord even in his old age. He still had the fire or the passion for God and he was untiring. The other person aged prematurely, began to lose his memory and other faculties as well as personal charm. The difference between the two was the faith of the former and the lack of faith of the latter.

When we are young, we dread being middle aged. When we are middle aged, we dread old age and when we are old, we dread death. But scripture says that He will guide us even unto death. He keeps us fruitful even in our old age. He is the first and the last. He is the same yesterday, today and forevermore. He was even before we saw the light of day. He promises to carry us from the cradle to the grave. He promises to sustain us. He gives us security and provision in every period of our lives whether we are young, middle aged or old.

The Lord decrees that we will be fat and flourishing, “fat” meaning vibrant, healthy and youthful. We will be flourishing like an olive tree or a palm tree that has deposits of oil or fat at all times, regardless of how old the tree gets. Like the olive tree and the palm tree, we have secret reserves of strength to sustain us, to revive us, to encourage us to go on to greater heights. We are able to access the reserves of strength the Lord gives us access to as long as we are faithful, available and teachable.

The belief that the Lord will never forsake us or leave us is the source of our spiritual strength. We trust that the Lord will deliver us from things we cannot bear or do not have the strength or courage to bear. It is our responsibility to declare His glory to the next generation. When we share our testimonies of the great things God has done in our lives, we are declaring the glory of God to the next generation and preparing them to be faithful like us all their lives. Jesus is the Rock of our childhood, our youth, our middle age, our old age and for all eternity. What we build on Him and for Him will last like the house that is built on the rock. We will weather storms, endure troubles and trials and emerge the stronger for it, with a new song of praise, a new and exciting testimony of the great faithfulness of God. At times we must stand and dance on the Rock daring the world to throw its next challenge at us and at times we must go and hide in its cleft to renew our strength, our faith and increase our courage and hope.

Prateep V Philip