Friday, October 31, 2014

Appropriate Appropriate Greatness

UV 1229/10,000 Appropriate Appropriate Greatness

And the LORD said unto Joshua, This day will I begin to magnify thee in the sight of all Israel, that they may know that, as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee.

Joshua 3 v 7
Each of us is so tiny and puny in ourselves in comparison with the God-created universe. We are even more minuscule in comparison with the creator , God Almighty. Yet Jehovah stooped down from time to time in history in different places to magnify the tiny, to make them look great, powerful and good in the eyes of nations. One such tiny person was Moses who became the instrument of deliverance, the first leader of a freedom struggle orchestrated by God Himself. He never failed Moses or forsook him even when Israel, his own brother Aaron and sister Mariam failed him and belied his expectations. God loved Moses dearly and took personally anything that people spoke to him or about him that belittled him in anyone’s eyes. The Lord had magnified him or made him great.
In Shakespeare’s famous lines about greatness, “ Some are born great, some become great and some have greatness thrust on them, “ he excluded the most significant type of greatness that outlasts and outshines all other types of greatness for “ some are made great by God.” Joshua was another person made great by God. God was with him even as He was with Moses. If Moses was used to part the Red Sea and defeat the designs of Pharaoh and his army, Joshua was used to part the Jordan and defeat all the nations that lay in his path in the conquest and possession of the promised land of Israel. Today, God is with you and me even as He was with Moses and Joshua, even as He was with the prophets and with Jesus and His apostles. When the “Great I Am” is with us, we too will be great for His goodness, His love, His power, mercy and grace fill us, fulfill us, accompanies us, surround us and goes ahead of us. The greatest blessing is not what He gives us or does for us but His very presence in us and with us as an Immanuel. He magnifies each person in a unique way. He magnified King Solomon in a particular way, He magnified Mary in a particular way, He magnified Jesus in a particular way. This is the reason each person’s story or testimony is unique and different. A testimony is a story of magnification. It is not a story about the greatness of these individuals but about what God has done in and through them.

God first does a great work within us before He uses us to do great works outside us. He expands or magnifies our faith, our qualities and our abilities from deep within like the source of an eternal inexhaustible spring. He then makes known to others around us that He has chosen us for a special purpose and causes them to fall in line or respect our leadership. He then looks for opportunities to glorify His name. When praise and worship and thanksgiving in reverence and gratitude meet the greatness and goodness of God, that is glory. The words “ from this day” could mean a particular day when we first committed our lives to Christ for the glory of God or it could be this day and every day of our lives. The Lord desires to make us great in His eyes, in our eyes, in the eyes of the hostile and the friendly. Our response is to rejoice and magnify the Name of the Lord even as Mary rejoiced when she was found with child of holy and immaculate conception who was to be the Saviour of the whole world, a Moses and Joshua in the realm of the spirit, a deliverer and conqueror of the ultimate. She cried out, “ My soul doth magnify the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour.” Her own Saviour was ironically being carried in her own womb. As a young student it was my ambition to be great as I pored over the lives of hundreds of great lives. My alter ego at the time was Napoleon. Napoleon grabbed the crown from the Pope and placed it on his own head. But a believer in Christ is given the eternal crown of greatness graciously by the Lord even as he lays down all his own crowns or claims to greatness at the feet of Jesus.

Prateep V Philip

Thursday, October 30, 2014

The Wings of Fire

UV 1228/10,000 The Wings of Fire

But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings; and ye shall go forth, and grow up as calves of the stall.

Malachi 4 v 2

The one who respects and reveres the name of God will be given the light of wisdom, understanding and knowledge of God. The names of God- Jehovah EL Shaddai, Jireh, Nissi, Rapha, Shalom, Rohi, Ebenezer , Immanuel.. symbolize all who God is and all He has done for us and is doing. Meditating, relishing and cherishing the significance of each of these names is like basking in the light of the rising Sun at dawn. The rays of the rising Sun are known to be good and healthy for our eyes, our minds and our bodies. We are shielded from the intense heat of God’s wrath against human sin and wilful shortcomings. Instead, we will find healing of spirit, mind and body and blessings forevermore.

The wings referred to in the uni-verse are the Word and prayer. We will find strength, hope, encouragement, comfort, provision, deliverance, restoration, guidance, wisdom, understanding, knowledge and salvation in the Word. We can appropriate it through prayer. They are called wings as we can literally fly into the presence of God with the help of the Word and prayer. No limitations of time and space constrain us as we study and meditate on the Word and as we spend time in prayer. We can cross the infinite space and gap between God and man, between heaven and earth the instant we kneel down.

As we bask in the glory of God, we can go forth with confidence into victory and joy. We will grow in grace, wisdom, knowledge of truth and in the favour of God and man. Growth is a holistic concept. We will grow physically, intellectually, spiritually and socially. Just as the sun’s rays can penetrate our bones and stimulate it to synthesise Vitamin D, spending time in the presence of God will increase us in devotion, dedication, diligence, determination and discipline. We will not be like animals that grow in the wild on their own procuring what food and drink that they can by whatever means they can and remain uncared for but we will be like the joyful frolicking of the young of cattle that are protected and provided for in stalls.

Prateep V Philip

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

The Valley of Blessings

UV 1227/ 10,000 
" And on the fourth day they assembled themselves in the valley of Berachah, for there they blessed The Lord: therefore the name of the same place was called, The valley of Berachah, unto thus day. " 
2 Chronicles  20 v 26

      The word " Berachah" comes from the Hebrew word Barak or blessing. Blessing The Lord with our adoration, praise and thanksgiving for fighting our battles and securing deliverance and victory for us makes us truly blessed.  A valley is a metaphor for the low points in our lives.  When we exalt The Lord when we hit a low or are feeling despondent, He will lift us up for to be blessed means to be lifted up. Every day in our lives we need to have a valley of Berachah time to focus on The Lord and His Word, to worship and thank Him for all His benefits. 

      King Jehoshaphat called the battlefield the valley of Berachah.  The name Jehoshaphat means "Jehovah is Judge. "  He led the people of Judah in kneeling before The Lord, the righteous Judge  to seek His intervention and help against a formidable and powerful multitude or array of enemies.   The word " Barekh" also means to kneel or to humble oneself before God.  When we humble ourselves before God He will  turn our battlefields into fields or sources of blessing and great joy and gratitude. Kneeling in prayer precedes victory while kneeling in worship succeeds victory.  

     After every deliverance or victory we experience due to the grace of God, we need to assemble to praise The Lord.  A bended knee can touch and move the heart of God Almighty to act on our behalf rather than a show of religiousity, elaborate rituals or sacrifices.   Our homes and the places of conflict in our lives are valleys of Berachah.   For three days, the people of Judah engaged in taking the spoils of riches of their dead and defeated enemies, the Moabites and Ammonites. After this event, Judah had rest  and peace all around  Our peace and blessings are the spoils of victory of Jesus over the eternal and evil enemy of our souls.  We can indeed rejoice in these spoils and give glory to God in all our valley of Berachah experiences. 

Prateep V Philip 

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

What It Takes to Melt Our Hearts

UV 1226/10,000 What It Takes to Melt Our Hearts
He sendeth out his word, and melteth them: he causeth his wind to blow, and the waters flow
Psalm 147 v 18

This is a very deep and meaningful uni-verse. The Lord sends His specific word to melt the hearts of those who hear, repent and receive it as the Word from God and the Word of God. He sent Jesus as His messenger of love to quicken our consciences that were inured to sin and to melt our hearts. The best of teachers, the best of books and the best of education of mankind can only reach our minds and help us formulate concepts and remember jargon but only the Word can penetrate the space between our conscience and our imagination, the space between our memories of the past and the visions of the future, the space between our spirits, minds and bodies. Only the Word can fill the vacuum in our hearts with truth, grace, love and wisdom. Our hearts that were once calloused and hardened by sin now begins to be revived and restored with faith and hope.

Once we are convicted by the power of the Word, the Lord sends His spirit, the Holy Spirit referred to in the uni-verse as “the wind”. No one but God knows where the wind comes from and where it goes. It is His breath that He breathes down on us to inspire us from within, to help us to understand His Word and His will and to do it. The Spirit will teach us not to take the Word casually but to pay heed and to value every word. The Spirit of God anoints us to lead and leads us. He comforts us, encourages us, reminds us and prompts us with gentle nudges to walk in obedience to the call of God.

The Word of God is the eternal water of life. The Spirit is the Wind of God. Together they cause a spring or a fountain to rise and flow in our hearts and lives. As Jesus said, “ Rivers of life-giving water will flow from our hearts.” Just as the snow melts in the Himalayas to cause the mighty rivers to rise and flow through the mountains, hills and plains, the Word melts our hearts and cause the rivers of irrepressible joy, inexpressible hope, inexhaustible love, unfathomable wisdom, abundant peace to flow in our lives through the ravines of huge problems, massive pain, innumerable challenges and the routine of everyday life. Our responsibility is not to hinder the flow of these spiritual rivers in our lives by building dams and barrages with our own manufactured thoughts, anxieties, fears and inhibitions.

Prateep V Philip

Monday, October 27, 2014

Spiritual Early Warning Systems

UV 1225/10,000 Spiritual Early Warning Systems

For he is cast into a net by his own feet, and he walketh upon a snare.

Job 18 v 8
The enemy of our soul lays many traps or snares to capture our souls much like a bird hunter or a fowler lays nets to trap unsuspecting birds that fly into it. Some of the snares can evolve from our own words or thoughts or desires or actions. Jesus was so aware of this that He taught His disciples to pray, “Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.” One of the seven components of the Lord’s prayer is to guard us from temptations, evils or snares. The implication is that one of our seven prayer priorities in life is to guard ourselves from being ensnared and to seek the Lord’s help in this regard.
The Word warns us that our desire for riches and quick riches can pierce our souls with many sorrows. Our loyalty should not turn on money or it can entrap us. Our own words and promises that are not meant sincerely can be a snare for us. Our desire for prominence, to be in the limelight or to be recognized can also be a trap for our souls. Our desire for pleasure of the sexual kind can ensnare our lives in an adulterous lifestyle. People who try to set up snares or traps for others like the evil Haman who conspired against the Jews and Mordecai will eventually be caught in it. Having a compact or agreement or association with people who are involved in wicked schemes can also ensnare us consciously or unwittingly. The enemy always looks for the chinks in our spiritual armour that he can easily penetrate – the pride of life, the lust of the eye and the lust of the flesh. Taking God at His Word and talking it out with Him in prayer are powerful ways to keep these chinks sealed and impenetrable. It will pre-empt our souls and our lives from being hit or overcome with a tsunami of worry, guilt, anguish, fear and regret.

Systematic, focussed and defensive prayer times are not a foe but an aid to spontaneous prayer. King David who prayed seven times a day would have divided his prayer times such that one of the sessions would have been to confess his own inner weaknesses and to ask the Lord for the grace or strength to overcome temptations and to withstand pressures. Remembering his own downward slide into temptation and the sin of adultery with Bathsheba, he would have asked the Lord for the wisdom to recognize temptation at an early stage and to move away from the scene of temptation. Each of us should set up our own such early warning systems to recognize a snare as soon as possible and to walk away from it rather than into it. The other six sessions of prayer based on the template of the Lord’s prayer is that we can daily acknowledge and draw nearer in our relationship with the Father, to seek His will, to ask for needs, to ask for forgiveness for ourselves and others, to worship our Lord and Redeemer, to seek His power, kingdom , righteousness and glory first in our lives above the desires of our own hearts.

Prateep V Philip

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Looking For Greener Pastures

UV 1224/10,000 Looking for Greener Pastures
Now it came to pass in the days when the judges ruled, that there was a famine in the land. And a certain man of Bethlehemjudah went to sojourn in the country of Moab, he, and his wife, and his two sons
Ruth 1 v 1

Our faith is tested by sending a famine on us. Sometimes when we face a time of famine, we are directed to remain. Sometimes we are directed by the spirit of the Lord to go to a different place. In Abraham’s time when he faced a famine, he was directed to go to Gerar a neighbouring kingdom. In Isaac’s time when he faced a famine, he was asked to remain there and wait for the period of famine to end. The word “ famine” is a metaphor for a time of lower influence or prosperity or in other words a more adverse circumstance that one is used to normally.

In the case of Naomi’s family, they looked for greener pasture and they moved to Moab. They belonged to Bethlehem-Judah which literally means “ Praise God for the House of Bread.” The temporary shortage of bread drove them away from blessing to a greener pasture, an accursed land Moab that seemed to abound with bread. It turned out that their move was not directed or blessed or guided by God. Naomi which means “the fruitful one” lost her husband Elimelech soon after, her two sons within the next ten years and she was left forlorn with their two widows, Orpah and Ruth. In hindsight, if they had stayed in Israel these tragedies would not have overtaken them. Better sense prevailed upon the widowed Naomi and she decided to return alone to Bethlehem in Israel. But Ruth herself a Moabite swears loyalty to Naomi and allegiance and devotion to the God of Israel. Her move to stick with Naomi, her husband ‘s mother proved her faithfulness and eventually turns her life from being a tragic curse to being a blessing for many generations and for all eternity. Jesus the Messiah was born in her lineage.

In all our moves, we should seek the will of the Lord. We should discern if the Holy Spirit is nudging us in that direction or not. We should also be sensitive to alarm signs or red flags that should deter us from making the move. It should not be a “ bread decision” or a move for short term gain, however alluring or attractive it might seem. We often think short term while God thinks long term. The Lord chides us that our calculations are often beyond His. We need to trust Him step by step, decision by decision, crisis by crisis. We should not be in a hurry to get ahead of God. We need to sync our thoughts and plans with those of God’s. The Lord is with us over the long haul. He will prove to us that His grace is sufficient to provide for us in times of plenty as well as in times of famine.

Prateep V Philip

Dr Prateep Philip & AGNI Leadership Centre

Saturday, October 25, 2014

The Known Versus the Unknown and Unknowable

UV 1223/10,000 The Known versus the Unknown and Unknowable

As thou knowest not what is the way of the spirit, nor how the bones do grow in the womb of her that is with child: even so thou knowest not the works of God who maketh all.

Ecclesiastes 11 v 5

As sentient beings, we have some areas of life that are known, some that are unknown but knowable and many areas that are unknowable. God’s judgements are beyond human understanding or discernment. Just as we cannot tell or control from which direction the wind comes and where it goes, so we cannot estimate or discover the direction of our own lives. When a child is being formed in its mother’s womb, we do not know the shape or sex or features of the child, similarly we cannot know for sure the works of God in our lives. Ours is not to reason why but to trust and believe in His promises. Whatever He promised to Abraham, Zachariah and Mary and all others chosen by Him and who believed in Him, He has done. Similarly, He will do so in our lives. The promises, precepts in the Word are in the domain of the knowable.

The ways of God are beyond finding out. It is the glory of God that He hides many secrets. The knowledge of man is growing in the area of the known and knowable. Despite the tremendous advancement of science and technology and human knowledge, there are so many things about life we cannot comprehend or predict. His works are numerous and marvellous. His works or blessings impacting or influencing or enhancing our lives are in the realm of the known and knowable. But His thoughts are deep and beyond numbering. The past and the present are in the area of the known and knowable while the future, the near as well as the distant are unknown and unknowable. Our response is to just count His blessings of the past and the present as well as the promised and known blessings of the unknown future and to rejoice again and again. God blesses our thoughts and our lives when we think of His blessings this far and give Him praise and thanksgiving. It will be a good idea to set aside a time every day just to thank and praise God for His manifold blessings in our lives.

He who observes the clouds and worries whether it will rain will not sow and he who worries which way the wind will blow will not reap. Just as unseen and unknown to the mother and to the rest of the world, a child grows and is knit together by the unseen hand of the Lord and He breathes His spirit and His image into that child, the Lord works unseen and unknown to us behind the visible signs and scenes of our lives to execute His will and plan in our lives.

Prateep V Philip

Friday, October 24, 2014

Faith-the Key to Impossibilities

UV 1222/10,000 The Key to Impossibilities

Who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions,

Hebrews 11 v 33

By faith it is possible to subdue every kingdom of darkness, every principality and power , every wickedness in high places. By faith it is possible to attain righteousness in the sight of God and to live righteously in the sight of people. By faith it is possible to claim and receive what is promised by God in His Word. By faith it is possible to stop the devouring mouth of the roaring lion. ‘Lion’ also symbolises powerful foes and adversaries, visible and invisible, known and unknown in our lives. Faith is the key that opens the gates of possibilities as well as impossibilities and Jesus is the key to that kind of faith.

By faith it is possible to quench the fury of the flames of hell, escape the edge of the sword of the enemy of our souls. By faith it is possible to turn our weaknesses into strengths, to realize our full potential and use all our talents as well as our lack of abilities for the glory of God. By faith it is possible to resurrect the dead to life. By faith it is possible to heal and to be healed of any disease. By faith it is possible to solve any problem. By faith it is possible to be victorious in all the physical, intellectual as well as spiritual battles and challenges we face in life. St Paul wrote, “ I can do all things through Christ Jesus who strengthens me.” The example of Jesus strengthens our faith. The sacrificial suffering of Jesus strengthens our faith. The teachings of Jesus strengthens our faith so that we can do all these things. The presence of Jesus and our being grafted to Him makes us omni-competent or able to do all things, endure all things unto the point of victory and redemption.

As we exercise our faith in real life situations, it is possible to emulate Gideon in terms of victory against impossible odds, Samson in terms of being full of power and strength and setting on fire the tails of all the little foxes that destroy the fruit of the spirit in our lives, David in terms of having a heart of love for God and a heart of worship, Samuel in terms of being able to know and to tell what God has ordained for us to do. The reward of faith is not instantaneous but it requires patience to obtain it. After one has endured, then we will see the results of faith.

Prateep V Philip

Thursday, October 23, 2014

The Abrahamic Template

UV 1221/10,000 The Abrahamic Template
Thou art the LORD the God, who didst choose Abram, and broughtest him forth out of Ur of the Chaldees, and gavest him the name of Abraham;

Nehemiah 9 v 7

God chose Abram, a lone man with not much of a future. He gave him hope and a future. He called him out of his homeland in Mesopotamia to Canaan. He left his own relatives and friends but God now became His only Friend. He transformed his identity and gave him a new name Abraham, a father of many nations. He blessed him and made him a blessing. The act of sacrifice that he was willing and about to do of his own begotten son Isaac, a child of promise led to God eventually sacrificing His own begotten Son Jesus for all mankind. The ram that God provided instead of Isaac was the foreshadow of how God was going to eventually allow the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross.

The question “Who am I?” is best answered by first answering “ Whose am I?” Abraham identified himself not by the land he lived in or by his father’s family. He was willing to leave all these earthly ties behind and move to a new homeland in obedience to the call of God. He identified himself and his destiny as one who belonged to Jehovah, the Almighty God. God blessed him with protection from powerful foes, rivals, adversaries and mortal enemies. He gave him land, possessions, a family and progeny. He who was childless became the father of many nations. Abraham was warned ahead of time when Sodom and Gomorrah was about to be destroyed. He could rescue his nephew Lot. Abraham was no weak and ineffectual leader. He was wise, influential, strong, pragmatic and effective. He was wise, hospitable and humble towards even strangers who came to his home. He was fearless and invincible towards his aggressive neighbours and led a force to rescue his servants and flocks who had been taken captive. He did what he had to do and allowed God to do that which He alone can do. Abraham’s life is a template for what God can do in the life of a man or woman who has surrendered to Him. He had his weaknesses like each of us and listened to the advice of his wife Sarah who urged him to act in the flesh to help and hasten God’s will. Sometimes, he too was overcome with fear even as he lied about his wife Sarah being his sister for fear of being killed by Pharaoh in Egypt. His weaknesses served to show that he was chosen or saved not because he was perfect, holy or righteous but as he had placed his incomplete faith in the perfection of God. His faith had made him righteous.

To this day God chooses those who belong to Him. He blesses them and makes them a blessing. He calls them to leave their comfort zones, to take certain risks to prove that they indeed belong to Him and He protects and preserves their lives. He multiplies His grace in our lives through many manifestations. He gives us a new and transformed identity. Where formerly, we only believed what we saw now we believe the Word of God, the promises of God and that He is faithful and able to fulfil His promises. Our faith will grow with each promise fulfilled. Our obedience and devotion to God will also increase as our faith grows. Just as Abraham were given divine visitations, encounters and tests of obedience, each of us will experience the supernatural as well as tests of our obedience and faith. The Lord will redeem us from destruction. He will bring to fulfilment and fruition both our hopes and our words. Just as Abraham talked and walked with God, we can talk and walk with God every day of our lives. Our friends might leave us and cease to be friends but He has chosen us to be His friends forever. Our parents will leave us when they die but the Lord will never leave us nor forsake us. We will be the instrument or source of redemption and blessing for many. We are chosen but we have nothing to be proud about for we are chosen by grace not by virtue of our exceptional qualities or merit. We are a called out people. We are called out from darkness to light, from death to eternal life, from sin to righteousness, from curses to blessings. We are blessed so that we are a blessing.

Prateep V Philip

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The Dove of Love

UV 1220/10,000 The Dove of Love
O my dove, that art in the clefts of the rock, in the secret places of the stairs, let me see thy countenance, let me hear thy voice; for sweet is thy voice, and thy countenance is comely.
Song of Solomon 2 v 14

This uni-verse reflects the romance in the relationship between the Saviour and the saved, between God and the believer. We can say with exuberance, “ My beloved is mine and I am His and His banner over me is love.” A personal relationship with the Creator-Redeemer is an intense love relationship. We love to see each other and hear each other as often as possible like lovers. The kingdom of God is not a kingdom of power but of love. The metaphor used in the Song of Solomon is that the believer is the unlikely lover of the king.

Each believer is gentle and vulnerable like a dove. But we are protected in the clefts of the Rock of history that is Jesus. There are different types of clefts in a rock cliff for different types of protective need- protection from physical danger and assault, protection from the temptation of our own inner weaknesses, protection from powerful foes, protection of our testimonies and our faith. We use the wings of prayer and the Word to fly to find our shelter, our refuge from the storms of life in the rock canopy of His love. He reveals the secrets of life and of His law and promises that become like a stairway for us to reach the chamber of the bridegroom. Our longing must be to hear His voice and to meditate on His precious promises to redeem us.

When we seek to see the face of our beloved Saviour, His countenance will shine on us and His light and grace will radiate on our lives. Prayer is a kind of “love talk” between God and man. Scripture upholds love as the greatest gift for which a believer should aspire to possess and exhibit. It is not a physical or erotic love or even metaphysical or platonic love but an attitude that is not jealous or conceited or proud or bitter. It is a demeanour full of hope, confidence, optimism and joy in the Lord. By virtue of this attitude and demeanour, we do not hold either a record of wrongs or a record of favours done. We are patient implying that we are willing to wait for the Lord to act. We are not to be impulsive or impetuous. It is not a mere emotional feeling or transient mood but a relationship that is eternal or lasts forever. We are not self seeking but seek the glory of God and the good of all. We use the grace of God that is given freely to attain the glory of God. We are not easily provoked or irritable. We are not rude or impolite. We do not rejoice in what is evil but rejoices in the truth. We cling to what is good, positive, wholesome and reject what is evil, negative and unwholesome. The agape love of God enables us to bear all things, to believe all things in His Word, to endure all things we suffer in this life without grumbling or murmuring but with all faith, hope and thanksgiving.

Prateep V Philip

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The Sovereignty of God

UV 1219/10,000 The Sovereignty of God
And hath extended mercy unto me before the king, and his counsellors, and before all the king's mighty princes. And I was strengthened as the hand of the LORD my God was upon me, and I gathered together out of Israel chief men to go up with me
Ezra 7 v 28

When the hand of the Lord our God is upon us, we are greatly strengthened. He will enable us to be viewed favourably by those who are the leaders of the land, their advisers as well as before all other authorities. Ezra and Nehemiah were both given the support and permission of the king of Persia to revive the temple of God and to re-build the walls of Jerusalem as the Lord extended His mercy towards them. They were able to mobilise men and resources to complete their mission of re-building the walls of Jerusalem and the temple of Jehovah. Similarly, we are enabled to take up projects that are ordained by the Lord by giving us favour with the concerned authorities. He will cause our leadership to be effective, purposive and productive.

King Artaxerxes under whom Ezra and Nehemiah served recognized the power, grace and sovereignty of God. He ordered that all the vessels of gold and silver as well as bullion and other provisions required to re-build the temple be given liberally. He called Ezra the “scribe of the God of heaven.” He gave him authority to appoint judges and magistrates and to teach the law of God to the people. Truly, when God gives a man a vision and the anointing to lead, He will change unfavourable circumstances to favourable and will give the provision to fulfil the vision. The walls of Jerusalem are a metaphor for our defences. The gates are a symbol of God-given opportunities. The Lord will enable us to re-build our defences and to re-gain our opportunities.

When we seek the Lord with all our heart, His hand of mercy will be upon us. He is waiting to strengthen those whose hearts are set on seeking the Lord and to do His will on earth. Both Ezra and Nehemiah were but bondmen or foreign captives in the Persian empire. God again proved that spiritual power and influence supercedes the political. Godly leaders exercise such a spiritual power and influence in the conduct of their affairs and in the fulfilment of their vision.

Prateep V Philip

Grace to the Capstone

UV 1218/10,000 Grace to the Capstone
As it is written, Behold, I lay in Sion a stumblingstone and rock of offence: and whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.
Romans 9 v 33

Jesus is the capstone of history, the cornerstone of the church and the keystone of every individual believer’s life. As a capstone, He brings order and meaning to what is otherwise chaotic and purposeless. As the cornerstone, He bears the weight of the entire structure. As the keystone, when we take away Jesus from our lives, we crumble and fall. At one and the same time, He is able to influence an individual, a nation and the world at large. Yet He is also regarded as a stumbling stone, a rock that offends the religious and the powerful through two millennia. He is a stumbling stone to those who believe they can attain salvation by good deeds. They fail to understand how His death on the cross can bring abundant and eternal life to all mankind. He is the stone that the builders will reject easily. When we look superficially, the stone that is Jesus has no great external beauty but the perfection of His character, the wisdom of His words, the consummate finish of His work shines through.

When we build our lives around Jesus as the cornerstone, the foundation stone, the keystone, the capstone, we will never have reason to be ashamed before God. We will not have to hide ourselves from God as Adam and Eve did and succeeding generations of people are doing. We will be honoured by God. We will be esteemed as blameless by Him. We will also be honed or further perfected by Him so that our hidden faults as well as our more obvious ones will be rectified. We will also be honest with God and not pretend that we are in truth any better than anyone else and that we stand before Him purely by His grace.

Builders say that 30 per cent of the cost, time and the effort of construction of a building lies in its foundation. The rock foundation of Jesus is given to us freely by grace. The reason why seventy per cent of believers and leaders do not finish well is that they do not endeavour to build on the rock foundation of Jesus with materials of good quality the seventy per cent superstructure. We try to build with stubble and hay that are easily destroyed by fire when we should be building with sapphire, diamonds, gold, precious metals and stones that cannot be destroyed by fire. We live and act with mixed motives and mixed methods, mixing the principles of the world with the precepts of the Word, mixing profit and prophecy, the gospel and the good life. When we do so, the rock foundation of Jesus becomes a stone that causes us to stumble and get hurt, a rock that causes us to fall and feel ashamed. Like cricketers or other sports teams who play for a nation always remember they are wearing the cap of the nation and so conduct themselves, each believer should remember that he is wearing the cap of Jesus.

Prateep V Philip

Sunday, October 19, 2014

The Former and Latter Rain

UV 1217/10,000 The Former and Latter Rain

Be glad then, ye children of Zion, and rejoice in the LORD your God: for he hath given you the former rain moderately, and he will cause to come down for you the rain, the former rain, and the latter rain in the first month.

Joel 2 v 23

Both a flood and famine can turn into a curse. A famine happens when expected rain in due time does not fall. A flood when unexpected quantity of rain falls in a short period of time. The Lord will rain down His blessings in due season. He will send down His doctrine or teaching like a rain and His blessing as a shower. He not only sends the rain of guidance and blessing at the precise timing of our need but in terms of quantity too. He sends the dew on the grass, the light rain on the tender herb, the moderate shower on the maturing plant and the heavy torrent on the oak trees and the large trees of the forest. The children of Zion or the children of God by faith are not compared with earthen vessels to collect the precious rain but the Word says that we are vessels of finest gold in the eyes of the Lord.

Instead of taking shelter under an umbrella, we should seek to soak in His great blessings. We should rejoice as children dance in the first rain after a hot summer. We should rejoice as people would who derive pleasure from wine. Just as we cannot count the raindrops, we cannot count the innumerable blessings the Lord has given us this far. Just as we cannot gather the rain in our cupped palms, we cannot comprehend or remember the full extent of His leading, His anointing, His blessings with the finite brains or intellect that we have. The great and wonderful things He has done in our lives and is doing is the former rain. The even greater and even more wonderful things He is going to do in our lives is the latter rain. When we recount or remember the deeds of the Lord and His wonderful plan of salvation He has prepared for mankind, we will be filled with gladness and exceeding joy. We will have strength for the day and hope for the morrow.

Everything that has happened so far in our lives is not an accident but caused by the Lord. What might look or seem natural like the rain is supernaturally caused by the grace of God. Another interpretation of the former and latter rain is that the promises and precepts of the Old Testament constitute the former rain while the promises and teachings of the New Testament constitute the latter rain. The latter rain is the rain that comes just before harvest. It helps to moisten, soften and ripen the fruit or crop for harvest. It is the blessings, teachings and happenings that happen in the days of our spiritual maturity. As the rain falls downward on our heads, we need to send upward a constant stream of our praise, worship and thanksgiving shooting up to the throne room of God from a heart of gladness and joy.

Prateep V Philip

Saturday, October 18, 2014

The Lord's Battle

UV 1216/10,000 The Lord’s Battle
Ye shall not need to fight in this battle: set yourselves, stand ye still, and see the salvation of the LORD with you, O Judah and Jerusalem: fear not, nor be dismayed; tomorrow go out against them: for the LORD will be with you
2 Chronicles 20 v 17

We only need to focus on the locus of our life- the Lord God who holds our beginning, our whole lives and our end in His sovereign hands. We need not be overwhelmed by the huge odds against us- an army of powerful foes but wait with praise and thanksgiving on the Lord. The battle, meaning whatever struggle or challenge we are facing currently or about to face, is the Lord’s. We only have to set our faith and hope on the Lord, His name, His promises and His word. Faith implies believing even before we receive an answer or a resolution of a conflict within or without. Believing implies trusting in one’s heart and speaking with one’s mouth affirming his faith in the expressed and specific promise of God that He would fight the battle on our behalf. The Lord is with us as a mighty warrior. He will surely win the battle for us for He is invincible. He is not limited in the means He can use to deliver us, whatever be the size or power or influence of the adversary.

Our eyes should not be on our own resources or weapons but on the armaments of the Lord or His spiritual weapons. We need not fear or be disappointed or express anguish or anxiety but rest our fears in the Lord. The confidence that the Lord is with us, that His hand of protection is upon us is sufficient to neutralise every hidden fear and overcome any regret or worry. Sometimes we tend to join the fight, thinking that we must “help God.” But the Lord restrains us saying, “ be still and you will realize that I am God of the battle and in the flood.” We try to help God when we doubt if He is with us, when we are not sure whether He is capable or willing to fight our battle. We are not to run away from the battlefield. We are to wear the full armour of spiritual battle even though we do not engage in the actual fight. The full armour of battle includes a complete assurance of salvation in any of life’s situations and forever more into eternity, a good grip on the spiritual sword- the Word of God, the shield of faith to put out any anxious thoughts or to neutralise any real threats or “fiery darts”, the knee caps to kneel in prayer, the shoes of the willingness to take a stand for God and to go places for Him.

We will see and experience the deliverance or salvation of the Lord. We only need to be ready to go out as directed and take up our battle positions in prayer and in holding on to the promises of God. Holding on to the promise of God is like taking a firm stand in the trenches of the battle against the enemy. The Lord will first enable us to win the battle in our minds by overcoming our fear of death, defeat, loss, pain, disease, humiliation and suffering. He will not disappoint us but will always do more than we expect. He will cause us to rejoice with a spirit of jubilation.

Prateep V Philip

Friday, October 17, 2014

The New Covenant Relationship

UV 1215/10,000 The New Covenant Relationship

For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people:

Hebrews 8 v 10

The old covenant God made with Abraham and his descendants that as long as they were faithful to the laws of God, He would be faithful to them and bless them for a thousand generations. The relationship between God and men was that of a Law Giver or King and his subjects. But the new covenant relationship is based on being part of God ‘s family by receiving His Son Jesus into our hearts. It was not just old wine in a new bottle but new wine in a new bottle. This is the reason that Jesus said that no one makes new wine and puts it in an old leather flask for it will ferment, swell, break and leak through the weak parts of the old flask.

The old covenant was written on stone by God and given to man through Abraham and Moses to Israel. It was then transcribed to leather parchments that came down to our present day. The new covenant given through Jesus is written on our minds and hearts. Our bodies, hearts and minds are the new flasks that contain the new wine of God’s grace. The Lord wants us to hold the contents of His law of love in our flasks- our bodies, hearts and minds. It should shape the way we think, speak and do things. The Word is to be treasured, cherished and internalised if we are truly to be in a new relationship of God as our Father and we as His children.

The Word is written not with a pen or ink in our bodies, minds and hearts but with the blood of Jesus. It is written by the Holy Spirit. It is so written not in a day or a week but over our whole lifetime. Each of us by virtue of our faith become a part of the Commonwealth of the new Israel- the Kingdom of God. The operative part of the Word in our lives depends on how much has been transferred from the printed word to our minds, hearts and physical lifestyle. As it is being written, God will also manifest and act according to what is written in our hearts and minds. A covenant is a sacred agreement between two people or parties. The closest thing to it in human society and on earth is the covenant of marriage. Marriage is a second best or a shadow of our relationship with God as this covenant can be dissolved by death or divorce, whichever is earlier. We need to show or prove our commitment to God through thick or thin. God will prove His commitment to us through all the vicissitudes of life. The route of life is neither up or down or inclined but it is zig-zag so that God can always have a view as we take each step and intervene where He should, catch us as we fall or prop us up at times.

Prateep V Philip

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Being a Servant Leader , Not a Serpent Leader

UV 1215/10,000 Being A Servant Leader not a Serpent Leader
And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.

Genesis 1 v 28

This uni-verse speaks of what God had in mind when He created mankind. It speaks of six phenomena that together constitute the purpose of human life: “blessing”, being “ fruitful”, multiplication, replenishment, subduing and having dominion. It is not success that we should seek in life but to be blessed by God. Success could be one of the blessings of the Lord. We are called to be fruitful not just physically like other creatures but intellectually and spiritually. The ultimate fruit of life that we need to abound in are the fruit of the spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, humility and self control. Wisdom is the eclectic quality that binds and balances all these fruit together in one person. We are called to multiply our talents, by using known abilities and gifts and discovering new ones that we never suspected we ever had.

We are called to replenish the earth, implying that we are not just to be consumers but people who make a contribution to making the world a better place in small or big ways. We are to be a blessing to others by sharing their burdens and trying to lighten it. We got to subdue what needs to be subdued. We need to subdue the evil within us and around us. We are given the spiritual authority to subdue, rebuke, command every wickedness in high places.

Finally, we are given the authority to dominate, to lead, to influence, to teach, to be an example. Adam and Eve forfeited their right to lead and dominate by allowing the serpent to lead and dominate them. Most of the time through history we have had “serpent leadership” or leadership that attempts to influence through a mixture of good and evil, through subtlety, suggestion, cunning, deceit and duplicity. A serpent leader misleads, misguides and leads people into curses and evil. But Jesus restored the power to lead, dominate, influence people for the Kingdom of God. He replaced ‘serpent leadership’ with servant leadership. A servant leader will fulfil the six purposes that God had set before mankind: being blessed and being a blessing, fruitfulness, multiplication, replenishment, subduing and leading. Like Moses, he will use the staff of leadership to release larger serpents to swallow the smaller serpents of the enemy of our souls. His influence and legacy will outshine and outlive the influence of the serpent leader.

Prateep V Philip

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Understanding Death

UV 1214/10,000 Understanding Death

O that they were wise, that they understood this, that they would consider their latter end!

Deuteronomy 32 v 29

It is necessary to understand death and come to terms with it in order to live well. When we are in the prime of life, health, position, possessions and power, we need to consider our “latter end” or how we would end our lives, of how none of these things will accompany us. But if we wait till we are in the prime, we may never get to understand death as we will be under an illusion that what we are enjoying will continue forever. If we understand death we will realize that the purpose of life and all our striving is none of these but the life within, above and eternal. The things we see and experience now are only foreshadows of the things to come in the Kingdom of God. It will teach us how brief is our lives. It will make us wise in all our thoughts, decisions, relations and reactions. It will make us wise towards God, our Creator and Redeemer. It will enable us to develop a perspective and a sense of proportion and priorities in life.

When I was but a youth, I once walked over to the nearby graveyard and sat among the gravestones and considered my latter end. The thoughts that passed through my mind did not make me give up all my ambition or aspirations in life but taught me not to hold on too tight to whatever God let into my hands for the time being. It did not stop me from working hard to achieve those goals but it enabled me to trust God for the results. If it was success, I understood that it was by God’s grace and that it was not my ability that caused it to happen. If it was failure, I learnt that there was a lesson or two the Lord wanted to impart through the failure. I began to literally number my days so that knowing the count of days would teach me to overcome the baser impulses of the flesh and strive for the higher goals of the spirit: love, joy, peace and hope.

Then the Lord led me to synchronise my days with the 10,000 precepts and promises in His Word as I was told that there are 10,000 unique promises of God to man in scripture. Hence for an average lifetime of 30,000 days or 82 years, a human being has three days to appropriate the promise, to practice a precept and enjoy the blessing. Our lives brief as it is are long enough for each of us to test and taste the truth, the power and the grace in each promise and precept of God. In actual reality, a person spends forty years or half a lifetime meandering around in the deserts of life without understanding or claiming or applying the promises of God. He gave me the concept of uni-verse in which He taught me that each verse in scripture is unique and divinely inspired. Each word and phrase in each verse had a hidden truth and spiritual treasure in it. These verses contain the seed of Abraham, the concepts of faith that have life transforming power. Uncovering that treasure day by day would bring me strength for the day and encourage hundreds of people around the globe who are bravely facing up to their own struggles and challenges. The Word of God contains the idea for right living of God. When we study the idea of God and apply it to our everyday real life familial or work situation, it becomes a concept or a complete seed. Uncovering that treasure day by day brings me strength for the day and encourages hundreds of people around the globe who are bravely facing up to their own struggles and challenges.

Prateep V Philip

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Staying Salty in a Dicey World

UV 1213/10,000 Staying Salty in a Dicey World
For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning
2 Peter 2 v 20

The world is polluted and corrupted. It is by the knowledge of Jesus as our Lord and Saviour that we have escaped the pollutions and corruption that arise from one or other variation or combination of pride of life, lust of the flesh and lust of the eye. The plural of the word ‘pollution’ is used uncommonly as there are various types of pollution and corruption. The lordship, leadership and salvation provided by Jesus is powerful enough for us to defeat these influences of the world. But if we do not strive to stay salty and become entangled again in these influences, we end up worse than we were before. It is better not to know Jesus and stay as we were than to know Him like Judas and get entangled like him in the death noose of self destruction.

Staying salty implies that we should keep the paths straight for the Lord to move in our lives. We must avoid small compromises that lead us to the big snare of evil. A leech can be separated from the foot of a person to whom it is latched by applying salt around it. The salt repels and repulses it causing it to release its grip on the skin of the person. Similarly, the Word of God is what separates us from the world of man. It is the salt that makes the blood or life-sucking leech let go of us. We ought not to stay in a place of temptation but flee like Joseph did from Potiphera’s wife but unlike him try to keep our clothes on. The recent sad story of the fall into adultery of the co-founder of God TV is a case in point to illustrate ways to stay salty. Given his relative youth and the propensity to fall into this kind of a snare and the large number of interactions and attraction he would exert on members of the opposite sex, he should have set up certain natural safeguards to never be alone in a space with a single woman. Staying salty is a great challenge not only to the young and immature but to those who have served God over many decades.

Having known Jesus as Lord, leader and Saviour, we need to hasten to do many good deeds that will elevate our lives like a city on a hill. Each uni-verse or each portion of scripture is a straight pathway we can and should follow all our living lives, ‘can’ meaning it is practical and practicable and ‘should’ implying that it is good and best for our own well being. We need to grow and glow like a lighthouse on a hill overlooking the rocky cliff and the perilous sea. We need to be the beacon-light to show the path to many who are now intent on the path of self destruction while taking care that our own light is not put out from within, that we do not depart from the pathways of righteousness.

Prateep V Philip

Monday, October 13, 2014

The Defining Quality

UV /10,000 The Defining Quality
Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.

Matthew 5 v 13

We learnt while studying Chemistry that salt is actually sodium chloride- a combination of two substances, sodium being a solid and chlorine a gas , that are by themselves poisonous but when combined the poisons are neutralised and it becomes edible and good for consumption. We learnt that salt is crystalline in form. In its natural form, salt is found abundantly in sea water, in rocks and on land. Yet , the Lord who created the Universe, Jesus the Saviour of the world chose to compare those who believed in Him and followed Him to the salt of the earth. The natural evil in us had been neutralised. Knowing the love of God through Jesus, being imparted both wisdom and gifts by the Holy Spirit and understanding the Word of God is what makes us the salt of the world.

Since salt is crystalline in form, it does not mix with dirt, dust and sand. That is why St Paul wrote that we should not be found mixed up in the affairs of the world just as a soldier does not get caught up in civilian affairs. Natural salt needs further processing and refinement in order to make it fit for wide scale consumption. Similarly, each of us needs to be mentored, discipled and refined over a period of our lifetime. Salt is found in lumps- and hence, believers need to be in constant touch and fellowship to encourage each other. Our conversations should be salted with grace, implying that we should not say things that are not truthful or things that hurt others needlessly. We should speak the truth in a spirit of love. Salt has to be mixed in appropriate quantities with food or the food cannot be eaten. Similarly, we must not be too salty or self righteous, judgemental, legalistic or “over spiritual.” Salt preserves and hence, we must be known as preservers of the peace. Salt enhances the taste of food. Our words and our deeds should act to enhance the appetite of people for spiritual food and to enjoy the taste of eternal life. In addition, we add the flavour or the savour of the Saviour to everything we say and do in life. Salt is inexpensive and freely available. So also, freely we have received and freely shall we give. In the world of chemistry, salt is not a proud chemical. Similarly, we too should be humble and meek.
Yet for all the functions of salt, it has one primary and defining quality- it is salty. If it looses this characteristic, it is worthy to be thrown away and trampled upon. Our one defining quality is the love of Christ and the love for Christ. Despite everything else we are and we might do, if we loose this quality, then we become useless to God and man. We need to grow in the agape love of Christ and not decline in this defining characteristic. Without the Saviour, we cannot enjoy the savour of life. Christ in us is the hope of glory in the world to come and the taste of glory in the present world.

Prateep V Philip

Sunday, October 12, 2014

The Rationale and Consequences of True Worship

UV 1211/10,000 The Rationale and Consequences of True Worship
The voice of joy, and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom, and the voice of the bride, the voice of them that shall say, Praise the LORD of hosts: for the LORD is good; for his mercy endureth for ever: and of them that shall bring the sacrifice of praise into the house of the LORD. For I will cause to return the captivity of the land, as at the first, saith the LORD.

Jeremiah 33 v 11

The Lord loves to hear the voice of joy and gladness uttering the words of praise and worship to Him. He loves to hear the voice of Jesus, His Son and the Bridegroom of blood and the voice of His bride, the church or the body of believers. We owe it to God and ourselves to bring Him a sacrifice of praise. Our bodies and lives are the ultimate house of the Lord. The altar is our own hearts and minds. He does not delight in sacrifices of animals or birds or possessions but He does delight in the sincere songs and words of adulation of His faithful people.

Only God is worthy of praise and worship. It is our privilege to worship Him not with fear and trembling but with freedom and rejoicing in our spirits. He is worthy of praise as He alone is absolutely good all the time. There is no one better than Him in all His attributes. Mankind is a mixture of good and evil. Each of us is a cocktail of positives and negatives. Jesus weaned us away from the inherent evil and made us blemishless by His own sacrifice. He made us by His grace good, acceptable and perfect in the eyes of God. God is merciful even though He is perfect and His mercy endures through whatever circumstance or action or omission on our part. Our response should be to continually offer joyfully and wholeheartedly our thanksgiving, praise and adoration all the time.

As we offer our bodies as a living sacrifice and raise our spirits in thanksgiving and praise, the Lord will remove the captivity of sin, curse and bondage from our lives. We will move from the land of the spiritually dead or insensitive to the land of the living. Hope, joy and cheerfulness will buoy us up on normal days and we will anchor ourselves in the Lord through life’ s great storms. His manifold grace and blessings will always accompany us. Our lives will be like a continual feast in fellowship with the Lord. We will enjoy abounding freedom and deep inner peace. The voice of joy and bubbling laughter will be heard in our homes.

Prateep V Philip

Saturday, October 11, 2014

The Office of Prophecy

UV 1210/10,000 The Role and Functions of Prophecy

But he that prophesieth speaketh unto men to edification, and exhortation, and comfort
I Corinthians 14 v 3

Prophecy is valuable as it is necessary for building our faith. Edification literally means “ building up the soul.” The word “ edify” means to build up as one builds an edifice. The word “edifice” means an elaborate conceptual structure that is built up from the foundations. Edification implies to uplift, or the moral and intellectual instruction for moral and spiritual improvement of someone. It leads to our enhanced moral and spiritual growth. In this sense, instruction is spiritual construction. The Lord wants to build something beautiful and noble out of our lives. The gospel is the solid bare rock foundation of this edifice. What Christ did in His birth, life, teachings, example, death and resurrection as well as post resurrection ministry before His ascension is the rock foundation of spiritual leadership. Through prophetic ministry, the Holy Spirit reads what is in our hearts, minds and lives and issues instructions for further construction or building up of our faith. We will realize that such insight and foresight or foreknowledge can only come from the Lord.

The second function of the gift of prophecy is that it is meant for our exhortation or encouragement. It is to give us a sense of our vision and calling in life. It urges us to do something practical that we have held back from doing so far. Prophecy confirms our gifts and our calling. It gives us some signposts to follow in our spiritual and practical journey. It is a sign from the Lord that He is concerned and involved with the intimate details of our lives. He reveals His thoughts about us and our character through prophecy and gives us a clear idea about what we need to do about it.

The uni-verse also states that prophecy has a third function- to comfort us. When we are perplexed or confused, a word of knowledge or wisdom can give us a sense of leading. When we are distressed by circumstances or overwhelmed by the troubles and challenges of this life, the Holy Spirit who knows our hearts comforts us through prophecy. Many people in today’s modern world discount the role or even possibility of prophecy being true or accurate. But scripture exhorts us not to despise prophecies but to test it to check if it is truly from God. There are two ways to test the authenticity of prophecy- the first is the Word of God. Is the prophecy in conformity or is it contradictory to the Word? Is it accompanied with corroborating scripture portions? Another test is that time will show if that which is prophesied is true or whether it was spoken from the spirit of man or some other source. Over the past fourteen years, I can testify that our family received much edifying instruction, exhortation, encouragement, guidance and comfort through the office of prophecy.

Prateep V Philip

Friday, October 10, 2014

The Test of Good and Godly Leadership

UV 1209/10,000 The Test of Good and Godly Leadership

And it came to pass, that on the morrow Moses went into the tabernacle of witness; and, behold, the rod of Aaron for the house of Levi was budded, and brought forth buds, and bloomed blossoms, and yielded almonds.

Numbers 17 v 8

When all Israel rebelled against the leadership of Moses and questioned the priestly calling of Aaron, Moses conducted the litmus test of spiritual and wholesome leadership in an amazing miracle that is also a parable for all time. Moses asked the twelve chiefs or leaders of Israel including Aaron to bring their sceptre – a dried rod of the almond tree- to him. Moses placed the twelve rods each with the respective names of Aaron and the other leaders. He left the twelve rods in the Tabernacle of the Lord’s presence overnight. The next morning when he entered the tent, he found only Aaron’s rod had budded, blossomed, bore leaves and fruit of almonds on the dry stick proving that Aaron alone was chosen by God to be a priest to serve Him and bear fruit for the Kingdom of God. The dry stick of Aaron bore buds, blossoms of flower and fruits as well as leaves, all three appearing at one and the same time on the same rod against the course of nature proving that it was a sure sign from God confirming the priestly calling of Aaron. Moses had prophesied that this would happen before he asked the leaders to submit to this test. This put an end for all time the murmuring of the people. By not submitting to the leadership of Moses and Aaron, the people of Israel brought death upon themselves. It was a warning for all time not to rebel or complain or murmur against God-anointed leaders.
If we are watchful, prayerful and worshipful, the Lord will make our lives and our leadership fruitful and blessed in both natural and supernatural ways. He will cause both our leaves or our thoughts, our words, our hopes, our buds or our ideas, plans, projects, visions to grow and our flowers to blossom or the things that make our lives beautiful and fragrant, our almonds, fruits or results, achievements, contributions to be enduring and amazing. The lesson from this parable-miracle is that godly leaders will not just be outstanding but astounding in the impact and fruitfulness of their lives. When we spend time in the presence of the Lord, soaking in His grace, glorious things will happen to confirm that we are truly led by the Lord. The Lord will hasten or quicken even what is dead and dry in our lives to give a fitting reply to those who question our credentials, those who murmur, envy, rebel, accuse, place obstacles or hinder in any way.

The Lord will make our thoughts and words the leaves of the sceptre of leadership, our intentions , desires, goals and plans the buds, our acts of goodness, faith and grace the flowers and our effects, impact, legacy and work the fruits. Recently, when we had a time of prayer in the Tabernacle, our home , the Lord said, “ Your father was like Aaron’s dry stick but it has now budded, blossomed and borne leaves and fruit in the form of two brothers who serve the Lord.” The true source of effective leadership, the only source of the authority of both kings and priests is God Himself. Only those who truly follow God can be true leaders, priests and kings.

Prateep V Philip

Thursday, October 9, 2014

A Mouth of Wisdom

UV 1208/10,000 A Mouth of Wisdom
For I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which all your adversaries shall not be able to gainsay nor resist.

Luke 21 v 15
The Lord promises to give the faithful, those who have been discipled by Him a mouth backed by a heart and mind filled with wisdom. Jesus was replying to the question of the disciples about when the signs of the judgement of Israel will be seen. He gave a graphic account of many signs that are continually happening since then. Jesus warned them that they would be brought before kings and rulers, that they would be accused but at that time they would be given a mouth and wisdom that none of their accusers would be able to deny, contradict or defeat. In keeping with this prophecy all the apostles at various times were accused and brought before kings and rulers for judgement. At that time the latter were amazed at their boldness, wisdom and conviction and had no words in reply. They noted that they were uneducated men but that it was the effect of having been with Jesus.

Being with Jesus gives us wisdom for teaching, for defending ourselves against our adversaries as well as for all the leadership and life challenges we can face. Persons who do not have the gift of the gab need not worry even as the Lord told the stuttering Moses who was reluctant to don the mantle of leadership at God’s call, “ Am I not the one who gives man his mouth and speech? Am I not the one who makes the deaf and the dumb, the seeing and the blind? I will be with thy mouth and teach you what to say.” The Psalmist wrote, “ Open your mouth and I will fill it.” As we open our mouths, He will fill it with wisdom and understanding and the words of eternal life. The Lord will put His words in our mouths and take away our own sinful words. No longer will the power of death that the tongue is endowed with be in our mouths but the power of life. But to our adversaries our tongues will be like swords in our mouths that they cannot stave off.

Very often it is our own words that embarrass us or even get us into different kinds of trouble. Our adversaries try to pull out such words from our mouths by provoking us with questions or comments. We need to pray, “ Lord, the giver of our mouths and of wisdom, be with my mouth. Teach me what to speak and when to speak and how to speak it.” He will in a figurative sense split our tongues and train us to speak wisely, aptly and effectively. We must submit and subject our tongues to the disciplining of the Holy Spirit. Then our mouths will be full of fire and spirit as we speak. Our words will be blemishless and be used as a blessing and encouragement to many to believe in Him. For this to happen we need to spend time listening at the feet of Jesus. He will open our understanding to the teachings in scripture and facilitate us in applying it in our daily lives.

Prateep V Philip

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

The Rock of Life

UV 1207/10,000 The Rock of Life

The LORD liveth; and blessed be my rock; and exalted be the God of the rock of my salvation.

2 Samuel 22 v 47

The Lord is the author and source of life. From the microscopic DNA threads to all our internal and external organs, from the atom to the amazing universe of galaxies and heavenly bodies are all apparently created by a living God, from the macrocosm to the microcosm, His fingerprint is visible. The awesome dimensions of the universe convinces us of his awesome power. The same awesome power and creativity is also hidden in the tiny human cell as well as the smallest particle of matter, the atom. The detailing in these tiniest parts of organic and physical matter reveals the hidden wisdom and immaculate design of the Creator. But He desires not to be known just as an all powerful God and Creator on the basis of His creative works. He revels in making Himself known as the author, builder, architect as well as foundation of our faith in Him as our personal Saviour. Jehovah God left the instructions for our physical life in each atom and the DNA of each cell but He left the instructions, directions, roadmap and nutrition of our inner and spiritual life inside of the Word of God. He revealed His Saviour role to mankind through the birth, life, death and resurrection and teachings of Jesus. He rejoices when man individually declares Jesus to be “ my Rock.”

Sigmund Freud wrote of the components of man’s nature to be id or ego, superego and libido. It is the Lord who blesses each of these components to be truly blessed or wholesome as He intended it to be. In the absence of a personal knowledge of God, each of these components are bound to be glitched and flawed or cursed and damned. It is the author who is an authority on a subject. It is the Creator who knows how our mind works, how our bodies work, how our desires work. No scientist or thinker or philosopher like Freud can even know how each part works or how these fit together. When we surrender ourselves wholly and all our parts including our minds, our tongues, our sexual organs, our lives to the Lord, we can declare, “ Blessed be my Rock, the Lord of my life.” The word “rock” could be expanded to mean “Righteousness by faith, Obedience unto blessing, Completion and increase in Knowledge of God.” Through these four lifelong processes, the Lord completes or finishes us as the crown of His redemptive work. Our life truly rocks when we know Him as our Rock of Blessing.

When we surrender our past, our present and future as well as all of eternity to Christ, He becomes the Rock of our salvation. Normally, when we function as individuals, our egos are driving us. EGO means “edging God out.” Our own thoughts, desires and habits will drive us. But when we have “unction in our function” or the blessing of the Lord our Redeemer on all that we are, on all that we do and all that we have, our minds and hearts will always be focussed on giving God the glory, in seeking His wise counsel, guidance, provision and protection. EGO would now mean “ exalting God only.” King David through all his life struggles found only God to be His consistent source of strength and deliverance. His own brothers distanced themselves from him. His father did not see or understand that he was anointed to be king. He thought he was fit only to be a shepherd. King Saul saw him as a threat to his throne and his own reputation. His own wife Michal mocked him. His sons also revolted and tried to kill him and overthrow him. His followers and commanders betrayed him. Only the Lord God remained his Rock giving him rest when he needed rest, deliverance when he needed deliverance, guidance when he needed guidance, provision when he needed provision, forgiveness when he fell into sin and abundant blessings in a variety of ways. He exalted God only. He died to his own ego and lived for God.

Prateep V Philip

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Multiple Identity and A Dynamic Relationship

UV 1206/10,000 A Powerful Identity and A Dynamic Relationship
But thou, Israel, art my servant, Jacob whom I have chosen, the seed of Abraham my friend.
Isaiah 41 v 8

The reference in this uni-verse to Israel is to the spiritual nation – the chosen ones of God who belong to all nations and peoples. Each believer is like Jacob, a person chosen by the Lord. Each of us has a deep, intimate, sacred , personal covenant relationship with God. It is not a blood relationship but a relationship based on a sacred agreement with God. The closest parallel we have in human life is the covenant of marriage. It is based on inviolable vows and mutual eternal commitment regardless of circumstances. Each of us in our struggles with God and in life is like Jacob. We want to get ahead without God but then we finally realize through our life experiences that we can find our rest as well as our rise only in the Lord and with His continual help.
Each of us is a servant of God. Paul considered himself a bond servant of Jesus as he was redeemed or purchased by the blood of Jesus. We are called to serve God as a chosen vessel. Each of us is called to fulfill a specific purpose in our lives. Formerly, we were servants of sin. We were prey to the curse of disobedience. But when we become servants of God redeemed by Christ, we are set free to be children of God and Friends of God. Now that we are the children of Abraham by faith, we should do the deeds that Abraham did or would do. Jesus said, “ A servant does not share all the secrets of the master. But I have shared all things freely with you. I treated you not as servants but as friends.”

Every believer is a seed of Abraham. The seed of faith is planted in our hearts and it grow to bear fruit over a lifetime. We are like Abraham Friends of God. Like a friend, we can talk with Him and share our lives with Him. We can confide in Him. He can confide in us. He encourages us and enables us to pursue our cherished goals and dreams. We carry His message of friendship to the rest of the world. As Abraham was shielded, guided, led and blessed by God, each of us is shielded, guided, led and blessed. As Abraham’s faith was subjected to some difficult tests, our faith too would be subjected to tests of endurance and strength. As God did the impossible in Abraham’s life, He would do it gladly in our lives. But we will realize at the end of it all that it is not in the achieving but in being with the Lord that is the source of our joy and strength.

Prateep V Philip

Monday, October 6, 2014

The Dew of Leadership

UV 1205/10,000 The Dew of Leadership

And God did so that night: for it was dry upon the fleece only, and there was dew on all the ground.
Judges 6 v 40

Gideon wanted a sign of confirmation from God that He would save Israel from the powerful Midianites through his leadership. The first time he asked that the fleece of wool would be wet with dew and the ground all around dry. He could wring a bowlful of water when he squeezed the fleeze. He sought another sign- this time he asked that the fleece would be dry but on all the ground around there would be dew. After this double confirmation, Gideon had no more doubt that God would deliver the Midianites into his hands. He was so full of faith that he went against the Midianite army with just a force of 300 armed only with trumpets and earthen jars and a burning torch. Gideon remembered the testimony of his forefathers of how Jehovah had done mighty miracles that led to the deliverance of the Jewish nations from the bondage of Egypt. He knew that God was capable of delivering Israel as He had done before but he only wanted to confirm and be sure that he was the one chosen to lead, the one who is anointed by Almighty God with His power.

Similarly in our struggles and battles, we too can seek a sign of confirmation from the Lord. I once asked for a sign of His favour and He showed me several signs in the form of seven rainbows over several months. The Lord knows we are human, that we are weak in faith, that we can be filled with doubt and discouragement at times. He knows that we are often bewildered by the odds against us. He is willing to give us a sign. He is willing even to give another sign to confirm that the sign He gave is indeed from Him and not a mere fluke or accident.

Hezekiah was another king who sought a miraculous sign of God’s favour. He asked that the light on the sundial move forward and then he asked that it move back a few degrees. Both Gideon and Hezekiah did not ask for a sign from God in a casual manner but with great reverence. We must not ask for a sign in order to test God but only to find encouragement and strength. When the spirit of leaders around the world is dry, the Lord will send the dew of His grace, love, power and compassion upon His chosen vessels. He will give a bowlful to drink and to be strengthened in the spirit that we go forth and lead more and more people to victory and joy in life. As scripture says, “ The tender mercies of the Lord are fresh every morning”. He gives us a fresh anointing with the dew of His anointing every morning to face the challenges of the day and end it victoriously. The word “ dew” stands for a combination of determination, energy and wisdom. He will give us the determination, the energy or enthusiasm and the wisdom to be godly leaders in this generation, to wrest great victories for His glory.

Prateep V Philip

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Vengeance is From the Lord

UV 1203/10,000 Vengeance is From the Lord

It is God that avengeth me, and that bringeth down the people under me,

2 Samuel 22 v 48

God is the One who avenges His people. Vengeance is from the Lord. He is a righteous judge and He subdues the enemies of the righteous. When we take it upon ourselves to judge others and to take revenge , we are taking the place of God. This is the reason Joseph did not take revenge on his brothers for their treachery. He said, “ What you planned for evil, God turned to good. Am I in the place of God to now judge you?” The desire for vengeance stems from a lack of faith in God that He is both all powerful, just and all knowing and that He would take action at the right time and in the right way. When we retaliate in like manner it is vengeance but when God acts it is justice of the ruler.

There is a natural spirit of vengeance in every human being. Till we avenge ourselves, we cannot find peace. But we need to surrender this spirit to the Lord and bring it under submission to Him. If we fail to do so, the fox of bitterness will destroy the vineyard or the kingdom of God within us. God wants us to bless our enemies and not to curse them. When we do this, we please Him and He undertakes to do justice for us. Joseph forgave his brothers and did not harbour any grudge or resentment against them. As a result, he became a fruitful bough.

The Lord will vindicate our righteous stand in life. He vindicated David against all the depredations of Saul to take his life and prevent him from advancing to his God-ordained and anointed position of being king of Israel. David withheld his hand from taking the life of Saul even when God delivered him into his hands just to test him. David swore that he would not touch the anointed of the Lord. No one can stop God’s will from being fulfilled. He lifts us from the miry clay and keeps us on a rock to stay. He is indeed the Rock of ages, the cleft for us to hide from the storms of life, the attacks of our adversaries. He defeats their conspiracies and insidious plans. Abraham had many powerful enemies living all round his camp. But God protected him and brought them under his influence and writ.

Prateep V Philip

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Key to Quietness

UV 1202/10,000 The Key to Quietness

When he giveth quietness, who then can make trouble? and when he hideth his face, who then can behold him? whether it be done against a nation, or against a man only:

Job 34 v 29

When the Lord is pleased with us, His face shines on us. He blesses us and causes us to be a blessing. No man can stand before us or trouble us. No dog can raise its tongue in front of us, as scripture says. We will have quietness and assurance in us and around us. Anyone who plans to foment trouble against us will fall in the very pit he digs for us. We have the peace that surpasses human understanding. He removes both sorrows and fears far from us. He encourages us and motivates us to do His bidding. Our thoughts, emotions and will are focussed on the Lord and He will guide us into perfect ideas and plans, perfect relationships and perfect decisions. We are stable as a rock and will endure all the raging waves around us without being moved. We will see the hand of the Lord in all that we do and wherever we go. He will give us rest round about from our enemies. We will trust the Lord and we too will be trustworthy. He will establish us and make us secure.

But should the Lord choose to hide His face from us, nobody can save us. We cannot hide from His anger or displeasure. The Lord will find us even as He found Adam and Eve hiding after the fall of man. We cannot see Him anymore or discern His hand in any of our affairs. We will be overtaken by our own fears, guilt and sorrow. Nothing can ease our feelings or give us quietness or rest from our sorrows and fears, both real and imagined. The Lord’s anger once aroused is formidable and implacable. It is like a raging fire that no water can cause to cease or abate.

The Lord does not make a distinction in how He deals with man whether a lone individual or a great nation. Those who honour Him whether an individual or a whole people will be greatly blessed, preserved and protected. No weapon can prosper against such as these. But those who disbelieve and so make Him appear to be a liar, those who disobey and rebel against His holy and just will, those who ignore Him and His Word will not be able to see His face for He will hide it from them. They will mockingly say that He does not exist though their own conscience affirms His existence. They will be restless and their minds will be like a battlefield always fighting fears, guilt and sorrows. No one can predict what their next actions will be or how their end will come. They will be unstable and restless like a helpless wave that is tossed about by the wind and water of the sea.

Prateep V Philip

Friday, October 3, 2014

Grace and Humility

UV 1200/10,000
For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith.
Romans 12v 3
Scripture states clearly that God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble. Our faith in God is proportionate to our humility. Our humility depends on how realistically we assess ourselves in the light of the Word and with the aid of the Holy Spirit. Grace is a gift given to us by The Lord to fulfil His purpose and to meet our need. When we hold too high an opinion of ourselves we cannot receive grace. We become too filled with ourselves for God to be able to fill us.
Thinking soberly about ourselves implies that we need to know the extent of our faith and know the strengths and weaknesses of our faith, character and abilities. We need to assess ourselves in terms not of our earthly qualifications, position, wealth or intellectual prowess but by the kind of fruit of the spirit that is in evidence in our lives. How loving are we? How joyful are we regardless of our circumstances? How peaceful are we despite the storms and strife of life? How patient are we with others? How kind are we to those who work under us ? What is the extent of practical goodness we are demonstrating in our lives on a daily basis? How faithful are we to The Lord in our daily walk ? There should be no sign visible or hidden of a kind of spiritual pride or of self righteousness that makes us think that we are better than others or that we are entitled to greater respect or recognition.

It is an axiom that the more we lower ourselves before God He will lift us up and bless us and make us a blessing. Our thoughts, words and actions should prove to people that we consider ourselves humble servants of God chosen not due to any higher merit or quality but due to the sheer favour and sovereign will of The Lord. A constant reminder of the extent of our past unfaithfulness and life of sin would peg us to the ground. Considering others better than ourselves and trying to learn from those aspects would also add to our grace. We should never think how much we have done for The Lord rather we must think how little we have done for The Lord in comparison with all He is and all He has done for us.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Holistic Growth and Security

Unless The Lord builds the house, they labour in vain who build it; unless The Lord guards the city, the watchman stays awake in vain.
Psalm 127 v 1
The first part of this Uni-verse regarding building the house implies building our lives while the second part regarding guarding the city has two different but complementary connotations:
the first part implies our growth, health, progress, sustenance, accomplishments and contribution. The second part implies our collective and individual security. Both growth and security hinges on The Lord. He is the capstone, the keystone, the cornerstone of the edifice of our lives that we build day by day over our lifetime. The house is referred to with the definitive article 'the ' and therefore it is not about building a particular house but all of our plans will be brought to fruition and visions are fulfilled only by the grace of the capstone. It is He who enables us to succeed. It is He who blesses our efforts or else it will be all in vain. Our lives itself will be in vain but for the love, mercy and grace of The Lord. He makes our lives meaningful, purposive and progressive. When He overshadows us like He did the craftsman of the temple at Jerusalem Bezaleel, He will give us helps ( plural is used to indicate the different types of help He sends our way). He will give us new ideas that are creative and innovative. He will help us overcome known as well as hidden threats.

I heard the story of an owner of a security company of how despite the best of locks and security, he could not prevent the murder of his wife. I told him that though I am a senior police officer with men and weapons and wherewithal to command I depended on The Lord for our security. I was given this thematic verse as a promise when I was posted as a Commissioner of a city. The city was facing inprecedented floods at the time I took charge but The Lord proved that He is The Lord even in the midst of the flood and safeguarded the citizens and those who watched over them.

Both our well being or our prosperity as well as our security rests with The Lord. The knowledge that He is the builder and the One who watches over us is a great source of strength and confidence for every believer. This belief should prompt us to cling to God like a leech. But He is disappointed that most people everywhere in these times cling to money and power. It gives people a false sense of security, happiness and immunity. Then when events and circumstances overtake us, we tend to turn to God and acknowledge that He alone is the source of our prosperity, well being, visions, plans, ideas, growth, health, security and life itself in all it's aspects. When we please The Lord by overcoming our amnesia and complacency, The Lord takes back the self assigned role of builder and watchman of our lives. He watches over us day and night. He provides for us while we are sleeping unaware of His invisible but caring presence always hovering over us and hemming in on is on all sides like a protective hedge or better still like firewalls.

A Snare in the wake of Great Victory

UV 1199-10,000 Then Gideon made it into an ephod and set it up in his city, Ophrah. And all Israel played the harlot with it there. It became a snare to Gideon and to his house.
Judges 8 v 27

Many leaders start well and do well but do not finish well. Gideon was invited by the men of Israel to rule over Israel hereditorily like a king as a mark of their appreciation and gratitude for his leadership. Gideon declined the offer but instead as an afterthought he asked them to give their gold earrings out if the spoils of victory. A huge quantity of such a tribute weighing 1700 shekels of gold was so collected. Gideon turned the collected ornaments into an ephod, a memorial to celebrate his leadership and victories that he set up in his nature city Ophrah. Scripture record that it became a snare or a trap for Gideon and his family. Later we learn of how Abimelech killed seventy sons of Gideon. A seemingly small compromise can lead to a big setback, disgrace or disaster.

We need to be wary and wise to avoid any snare set for our leadership. It coukd look like a small give in to our own ego or desires but it could cause permanent damage to our impact and legacy. This is the meaning of the line in The Lord s prayer, " lead us not into temptation. But deliver us from evil."

Gideon sought a small reward or recognition for his heroic efforts on behalf of Israel. That enabled satan to lay a trap for him. After our greatest victories there is a strong possibility of our being tempted if we do not attribute all the glory to God and Him alone. We should not gloat over our victory but believe it to be the grace of God that helped us.