Friday, January 30, 2015

Five Stones and Five Promises

UV 1314/10,000 Five Stones and Five Promises
And he took his staff in his hand, and chose him five smooth stones out of the brook, and put them in a shepherd's bag which he had, even in a scrip; and his sling was in his hand: and he drew near to the Philistine.

I Samuel 17 v 40

David refused the unwieldy armour, sword and shield offered by King Saul. Instead, he preferred to pick up five smooth stones out of the brook. David picked up five stones as Goliath had four brothers who were giants like him and they were the reserve of the Philistines. The five smooth stones are the precious promises of God that we should always carry in our hearts and minds. The brook or river from which we should bow down to pick up is the Holy Spirit. Bowing down is to humble ourselves before the Promise-keeper. The shepherd’s bag is our natural memory that the Spirit of God prompts and reminds us from. Our sling is our prayer life. When we load our prayers with the promises of God for His presence, protection, provision, promotion and peace, we are equipped like David to face the Goliaths of our lives.

The stone that David aimed from his sling at Goliath hit him on the temple of his head. It created a dent on his thick skull. It knocked him down unconscious. After that David used Goliath’s own sword to decapitate him. Our prayers are accurate and never miss the mark. The stones chosen from the brook were smooth as the water had flown over it through many centuries and generations. Smooth stones were required to ensure an exact trajectory and to hit the bull’s eye as it were. Similarly, the uni-verses we chose to apply have been a blessing to many generations and the Holy Spirit has used it to bless, encourage and teach us through many years.

We need not fight shy to draw near our Goliaths. Unless David boldly advanced towards Goliath instead of shrinking in fear, he would not have been within striking range. He did not go so close as to be within the striking range of Goliath’s mighty sword but close enough to be able to aim and hit him accurately on the forehead. It was not David’s natural ability or prowess as a warrior for he was but a lad but his faith in the availing and prevailing might and grace of God that gave him victory against almost impossible odds. Others may get their horses and chariots ready for battle but we need to only carry a “scrip” – a small leather bag that shepherds used to carry and a metaphor for scripture in our context. The Lord will provide us the ammunition in our life's mission.

Prateep V Philip

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Hone, Honour and Horn

UV 1313/10,000 Hone, Honour and Horn
He also exalteth the horn of his people, the praise of all his saints; even of the children of Israel, a people near unto him. Praise ye the LORD.
Psalm 148 v 14

The Lord recently spoke these three similar words: “hone, honour, horn”. He would hone us or sharpen us. He would enable us to grow in the fruit and the gifts of the Spirit. As far as the Lord is concerned the fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, humility, self control are more vital than the gifts of word of wisdom, word of knowledge, faith, healing, doing miracles, prophecy, tongues, interpretation and discernment. There should always be a fine balance in the growth and manifestation or use of both fruit and gifts. He hones us to be practical and effective in this world and not pious or religious, cut off from the reality of life.

He has exalted us in honour above all people on the earth for as scripture asks, “ which people have their God so near to them.” The greatest honour is not the honour man gives for that honour fades away, perishes, remains forgotten after a while or soon turns into dishonour. The greatest honour is the esteem of God. Daniel treated with some disdain the honour of even kings. But he was a man greatly esteemed in the eyes of God. So much so God gave him rare visions and inclined His ears to his prayers. He received the favour of successive kings even of different dynasties as he had the grace of God. He calls us a peculiar or special people who live not on bread or natural food but by abiding and doing His commands and dwelling on His promises. He shelters us in His love and clothes us with His salvation. Scripture affirms that He is in all that we call upon Him for. As Moses said, “It is your presence ( or our intimate relationship) that distinguishes us from the rest of mankind.”
The ram’s horn or “shofar” is the natural God-hewn instrument used by the Jews to call people to worship, to call them to assemble, to draw attention, to celebrate festival as well as to declare war and victory. It is a symbol of the joy of victory. It is a symbol of strength. The horn of an animal is used to attack as well as to defend itself. As we praise the Lord, we will experience joy, increase in strength and victory in all our struggles. We need to blow the horn in all our situations and circumstances. It is a symbol of our complete dependence on the Lord, our God and Redeemer. It is also a celebration of our personal relationship with Him. It is a dedication of every breath we take to the Beloved. As we blow in prayer, thanksgiving and worship, the Lord will prepare a banqueting table for us in the presence of our enemies. He has called us to be fellow citizens with all His saints, to be part of the household of God to declare His praise to all nations. He will exalt our horn or He will promote us in all our ventures for we, not just our words but our entire being, are now become His praise.
Prateep V Philip

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Four Stages in Studying the Word

UV 1312/10,000 Four Stages in Studying the Word
For Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the law of the LORD, and to do it, and to teach in Israel statutes and judgments.
Ezra 7 v 10

The Israelites knew that they had to prepare their heart before seeking the meaning of the Word of God. The Word was the only law they knew. Just as we prepare a meal, we need to prepare our hearts for spiritual victuals. There should be an inner hunger or zeal to know the truth and a willingness to do what God says to us. Ezra prepared his own heart in humility, wisdom and in repentance. He genuinely confessed the faithlessness of the people as if it were his own. He humbled himself before God to seek His higher wisdom and guidance. He did not rely or lean on his own understanding for He knew that the Word emanating from God was sharper than his own native intelligence and deeper than his own wisdom. . Rather he leant on his understanding of scripture. Preparing one ‘s heart for the Word is the first step before inclining our ears to hear the Word. It implies that we should submit ourselves in reverence to what is being revealed in the Word. It implies that we make a whole-hearted commitment to obey it. The sign of understanding of scripture is its application. He was not a mere hearer or reader or preacher but he was a doer of the Word. It influenced his worship, his work, his words, his sense of worth or his idea of what is valuable in life. Understanding and application are intimately connected. My mentor used to say that the whole challenge is to transfer knowledge nine inches downward from the head to the heart. If it remains in the head it would lead to the head being puffed up with the pride of head knowledge. Mere head knowledge or theology is effete and sterile. If it is transferred to the heart through the process of understanding, then it makes one more humble and wise.

Ezra not only sought and learnt the Word but he also applied and taught it to others. His teaching had power and authenticity as he learnt and practiced it. The power of God was demonstrated in practical ways in His life. Hearing the word with hearts that are prepared, doing it and teaching it are the basic disciplines of any believer or disciple. The Word is described as double-edged sword as it cuts into the hearts of both the speaker or teacher and the listener or taught. It excises what should not be in our hearts and puts the seed of God’s truth in our hearts. The seed like good grain both satisfies our need and replicates itself in the lives of others. The Word contains the seed or the secrets of health,provision, promotion, prosperity, peace, progress, harmony, justice, joy, love and wisdom. We learn both the laws of God and His judgments. Judgment is the application of law to various real-life situations. For instance, Moses being asked to speak to the rock instead of striking it with his staff was the word God spoke. Moses struck it in anger at the rebellion of the people instead of speaking the word. The result was that he was not spared judgment. He was not allowed to enter the promised land of Canaan. God’s word was more important then as now than all our actions.
Every day we need to prepare our hearts to hear and receive the Word of God. The rest of the day we should spend remembering, thinking and applying the truth we learnt along with our chores and daily routine of work. The intermingling of the Word and work will bless the latter. The four stages in studying the Word are preparation of hearts, seeking or the actual studying phase, doing or the application stage and finally the teaching phase. We should not just be storehouses of knowledge of the word but pass it on to others in order to bless their lives for a water tank that only holds water begins to stagnate and stink. There is a need for an inflow and outflow for an overflow of blessings to happen.

Prateep V Philip

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Lion-like Leadership

UV 1311/10,000 Lion-like Leadership
And the remnant of Jacob shall be among the Gentiles in the midst of many people as a lion among the beasts of the forest, as a young lion among the flocks of sheep: who, if he go through, both treadeth down, and teareth in pieces, and none can deliver.

Micah 5 v 8

The faithful in every age and nation will remain only a remnant and not the majority. With God on one’s side, even one person is more than a majority. He is like a lion, a king or leader among all people. The Lord increases in might the power of the meek. He enables them to defeat the plans and designs of the enemy of their souls- the roaring lion. By their prayers and the judicious exercise of their faith and spiritual power, tread down on strongholds, tear these in pieces and bring down every speculation that rises against the truth and will of God. The use of the opposite metaphors of “lion” and “sheep” in the same breath is to point out that godly leaders though they are lions with immense power should be meek, humble, gentle and obedient like sheep. Jesus though He is portrayed as a “ Lion of Judah” was also the “ Lamb of God.” He was led to the slaughter like a lamb though He could have physically destroyed the entire Roman army with His breath. We too are called to be like a young lion in terms of courage but gentle like a sheep. Our attitude should be confident like that of a king but our behaviour like that of a servant. This is the essence of the concept of servant-leadership. Our knowledge of God and His word and ways should not get us all impatient, puffed up and vain but it should teach us to be meek and patient to wait upon His will to be fulfilled in His time.

It is said that a pack of lions led by a sheep is far less powerful than a flock of sheep led by a lion. This underlines the importance the Lord gives to leadership in executing His will. He raised up a man from the papyrus reeds- Moses whose very name meant “ reeds” but his deeds and words written on paper today has taught and demonstrated with power to many faithful people every lesson of leadership one needs to learn. The words of Moses put fear in the hearts of the mighty Pharaoh and the Egyptians. His words and his ordinary staff were his weapons. It made his formidable enemies and opponents tremble with fear even as other beasts would before a lion.

The reference to “ young lion” in the uni-verse is a promise of the Lord to restore and renew our youthful vigour. Scripture refers to it as the “ dew of our youth”. He will make us fruitful even into our old age. It is the blessing and anointing of the Lord that makes us a “lion” or powerful leader. He invests His authority in us. He makes us his signet ring to authenticate or give the final seal of approval. We have the sword of the word in one hand and the sword of execution in the other.

Prateep V Philip

Monday, January 26, 2015

The Bounce Back Effect

UV 1310/10,000 The Bounce Back Effect

Nevertheless the LORD thy God would not hearken unto Balaam; but the LORD thy God turned the curse into a blessing unto thee, because the LORD thy God loved thee.

Deuteronomy 23 v 5

God loves without partiality. It is true that He loves Israel but He also loves the whole world and that is why He has given the potential for every human being across the planet to live eternally by virtue of his hope in Jesus, His beloved Son. All the identities of persons in the Bible are subsumed or contained in the name, person and word of Jesus, be it Moses, Joshua, David, Elijah, John the Baptist, Peter, Paul and John. When we receive Jesus into our hearts, we also represent these identities. Naturally, we face the mountains or challenges and difficulties faced by all of them. But our resource is the collective promises of God that are also contained in the name, person and word of Jesus. He is called the “yes” and “amen” to all God’s promises. We need to enter into a personal covenant of mutual love and trust on the basis of each promise. God is bound only by His own word. By the bonds of His Word are broken the bands of our bondage or curse or limitations. Prayer releases the power of His Word to break every curse, to enable us to move every mountain, to overcome every limitation, to surmount every difficulty.

His love has a transformative effect. He turns every curse, spoken or thought against us into a blessing. Every self-limiting belief and word we have spoken knowingly or unknowingly, He turns into a source of blessing. There are many modern Balams who are recruited to curse us by the Balaks of our time. But the Lord God would not listen to their imprecations against us. If they roll a stone against us, it will roll back on them. If they dig a pit for us, they will fall into it. The very weapon they try to use against us will turn against them. The enemy of our soul and his agents use curses as weapons to rob, steal and kill, to rob our peace, to steal our health, well being and prosperity, to kill our joy and our potential, to end our legacy so that our faith in God is dampened, our effectiveness is dulled. A curse is like a bird that does not find a place to rest when it is not deserved and so it returns to whom and where it came from. The Shalom peace of Jesus protects us and preserves us from curses and bounces it back to its authors and publishers.

But God is a covenant-making and covenant-keeping person. We need to make a covenant with Him so that He puts a hedge or a fence around our lives, our families, our friends, our foes, our work, our ministry and our legacy. Each promise of God is part of that fence. We should not allow the fence to lean or fall down. We need to lean not on our understanding of the world but lean on our understanding of His commands and promises. The Lord is eager to bless us in accordance with our understanding of His promises. Our faith is the sum total of our understanding of His promises that flow from our covenant or sacred relationship with Him.

Prateep V Philip

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Showers of Blessing

UV 1309/10,000 Showers of Blessing

And I will make them and the places round about my hill a blessing; and I will cause the shower to come down in his season; there shall be showers of blessing.

Ezekiel 34 v 26

The world worships success and seeks it with all their heart. But, instead of limited success, we should be zealous like Jacob for blessing. The greatest blessing is to live forever. When we believe the promises of Jesus we receive the blessing of eternal life as well as abundant life. It is indeed a wonder that the mere process of believing is sufficient to enable us to receive such great blessings that nothing else can buy or bring or guarantee. Believing is a process for it requires many connected steps: one, we should hear the Word from God, we should ask questions if we do not understand the word or to clarify issues, our minds should understand the message, our hearts should receive and our spirits should believe it. The Lord then confirms our belief is right by sending upon us a shower of blessings of grace and peace. Grace assures us that we have every reason to rejoice while peace assures us that we have no reason to fear. We do not have to fear death itself for it opens us to new vistas of freedom and blessing. Grace gives us abundant provision to live this life effectively such that our own lives are a blessing to others, those who believe as well as those who do not.

Dwelling in our spirits with God in His high places enables us to have a vantage view of life-a new perspective that stretches beyond the temporal and the temporary. The Lord will accept us and our offerings as we are. As the dew of Hermon, the dew that descends on the mountains of Zion, will the blessings come upon us, little by little and in due time. The uni-verse mentions not the singular “shower” but the plural “showers”. His presence as Immanuel or our relationship with Him is the greatest blessing that guarantees eternal life for us. He will abundantly bless our provision since we know Him to be Jehovah Jireh. He will bless us with victory as He is Jehovah Nissi. He will bless us with guidance as He is Jehovah Rohi- the good Shepherd. He will bless us with showers of power as He is Jehovah El Shaddai, the Almighty One. He is also our shelter, shield and salvation.

All the blessings we enjoy in life are not accidental or incidental but the source is the Lord God. The words in the uni-verse: “ I will make…” and “I will cause..” implies that they are made or caused by the Lord. He will send the different types of showers in different seasons of our need. Not only are we blessed but we will ourselves be a source of blessing to others. The world sees their cup either half full or half empty depending on whether the perspective is optimistic or pessimistic but we see the cup of blessings as always overflowing. Our need for blessing is satisfied and we allow the overflow to meet the need of others to be blessed. The uni-verse uses the image of “ a hill “ to portray that the people who belong to God will be lifted up like a hill. We will be a city on a hill and a city of light, a candle on a lampstand to light up and drive the darkness away. Every time we feel downcast or low in spirit, we only need to take a shower of blessing. The blessings enumerated by Jesus on the Sermon on the Mount are all the nine showers of blessing we receive every day. We are the poor in spirit since we know that we are the recipients and not the cause of blessing, that we cannot claim it as our natural right or prerogative due to our hard work or good qualities or good deeds but only by sheer grace of God through Jesus. We are blessed to be comforted as we mourn the evil in this world and the griefs and troubles that we bear with godly sorrow. We are blessed to inherit the earth as we are the meek as we submit to God. We are blessed and satisfied as we hunger and thirst for righteousness. We are blessed as we keep receiving mercy from the Lord for our past, present and future sin even as we confess it. We are blessed to see God everywhere, in everything and in every person for we are pure in heart. We are blessed to be called children of God as we are peacemakers between God and man, problem-solvers and bridge builders. We are blessed for the kingdom of heaven belongs to us, implying that we receive eternal rewards, as we are persecuted for the sake of righteousness or following godly principles in our lives.
Prateep V Philip

The Principle of Sowing and Reaping

UV 1308/10,000 The Principle of Sowing and Reaping
They that sow in tears shall reap in joy
Psalm 126 v 5
This principle seems to go against the grain of the axiom of life and spiritual process- “as you sow, so you reap”, for it says that if we sow in tears, we will reap in joy. At the time of sowing or the beginning of an enterprise, we face great travail and difficulties. But over time, the barriers will be removed and we would see good results. In contrast, if a person spends his time sleeping and lazing around at the time of sowing, he would be empty handed and pained at the time of harvest. If a person goes forth into a new enterprise with a lot of faith and prayer and does due diligence, he would be duly rewarded. It is quite akin to investing and waiting for the return on investment. To repent, mourn and to intercede for the souls of people would certainly lead to eventually celebrating with joy. It is also called “ liquid prayer”. We need to be compassionate and empathetic. We need to understand the value of their lives and their souls. Nehemiah wept for Jerusalem. The captives from Israel wept by the rivers of Babylon and they could not sing due to their sorrow. Our sorrow should be a “godly sorrow” not an emotional one or sorrow that leads to depression and death. The Lord values such tearful prayer on behalf of people. It will lead to great rejoicing in heaven as on earth.

Today, I rejoiced when I heard that one person’s life was changed when she read my second book, “For Better through Verse.” It led me to comfort another person in Australia whose wife had left him with an infant child to live in an adulterous relationship with another. He grieved over the loss of his relationship with his wife but he left it to the sovereign will of the Lord to win her back to Him first and then only back to her husband and child. Even in that situation, he had an attitude to pray for her and to praise God regularly. He was literally sowing in tears and ultimately sooner or later he would reap in joy. Indeed, blessed are those who mourn for the Lord shall comfort them. The point would come in our faith walk where we begin to thank God for that experience that brought us to tears for it taught us to walk closer with Him.

Sowing in tears is normally done for another person. It can be also done for a whole city or state or country. When we sow in tears, we are moving the Father’s heart. Things begin to happen in the spiritual realms. The Lord will orchestrate matters in such a way that the sowing will end in a rich harvest and great joy. Jesus compares the pain with that of a mother who is carrying. She experiences a lot of suffering and difficulties while undergoing her pregnancy. But when the child is born, she is filled with joy at the new creation in which she was a partner. Bearing a spiritual burden for oneself or others is indeed a lot like pregnancy. We need to be overshadowed by the Holy Spirit, continually focussed or obsessed with the matter and present it to the Lord with tears. The Lord will in His time turn our tears into laughter. To sow in tears it requires us to be greatly committed and involved. It implies earnest and fervent prayer. We should set aside times in our days and lives to pray with tears for the salvation and well being of people.
Prateep V Philip

Friday, January 23, 2015

Formed and Transformed for and by Praise

UV 1307/10,000 Formed and Transformed for Praise
This people have I formed for myself; they shall shew forth my praise.
Isaiah 43 v 21

The Lord has formed believers for Himself. He has formed them and shaped our lives in order to continually pray and praise Him. When we praise Him, the enemy will flee. When we praise Him, we will rejoice with the angels who continually worship Him. When we praise Him, we have victory. When we praise Him, He will help us. When we praise Him, we are blessed. When we praise Him, we will neither be confused nor ashamed. When we praise Him, we will not fear or be anxious. When we praise Him, His shadow or His presence will be with us. We are formed for praising the Lord and we are transformed by praising the Lord. The word praising has two actions in it : “pray” and “sing”. When we pray and sing, we are praising the Lord even as the birds twitter and chirp to praise God early every morning all round the world and all through time.

We are the branch of His planting, the work of His hands, that He may be glorified. Praising God is the highest and best use of our minds, hearts and mouth. It enables us. It ennobles us. We shall inherit the promised land for ever. We shall be declared righteous in the eyes of the Lord. We will be called the trees of righteousness. He will give us spiritual beauty instead of our earthly ashes, the oil of joy instead of a spirit of mourning, the garment of praise instead of the spirit of heaviness. We are a special people formed to declare His praise. He has set us apart to be holy. He has anointed us. We are to worship the Lord in a special way. We should not be shaken by events around us or be worried about our circumstances.

We need to glorify God in everything we do. We need to praise Him for the glory of His grace. Not only should we praise Him but we ourselves in spirit and body should be for the praise of His glory. We should offer continually the sacrifice of praise. It is a sacrifice as we need to kill our own egos and our own desire for praise and appreciation. We are a peculiar people called out of darkness to "show forth" implying non-verbally and without utterance of a word the praise of the Lord. We are like a lotus whose roots are in the miry clay. Our roots are mired in dirt, dust and clay. But our petals are gleaming, moist, beautiful and glorifying the Lord. We are in the world but not of the world. We are of the Word. We float on the surface of the water but the water will never drown us.

Prateep V Philip

Thursday, January 22, 2015

The Extraordinary Power in Ordinary Men

UV 1306/10,000 The Extraordinary Power in Ordinary Men
Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months.
James 5 v 17

Human nature has not changed much since the times of Elijah the prophet who lived in the 9th century BC. Psychologists ironically assign the term “ reptilean brain” to our untamed passions of anger, fear, suspicion, cunning. It seems as if the serpent brain was exchanged in some parts with our God-created brain when satan in the form of a serpent first tempted man and caused him to fall from grace. That reptilean brain still remains coiled in each of us whether in a man of God and prophet like Elijah or any of us. It is part of our adamantine heritage and human nature. It strikes unprovoked and without warning at times. But if we submit our fears and insecurity and apparent lack of faith to God as Elijah did, as he faced the wickedness and death threats of the queen Jezebel, when he went on his knees and kept his head between, He first assures us and then protects us and uses us to bring down a rain of blessings upon us and our generation. When he prayed in this manner his reptilean brain or flawed human nature was healed and he became righteous in the sight of God. It is indeed unusual for a man like Elijah to be able to call off or cancel the rain for a full three and a half years. It brought famine upon the land. It is also unusual that he could call for rain and it poured down as a torrent. God promises to do unusual things with and in our lives. He gives extraordinary power to ordinary men and women. The fourth dimension has the power to mould and shape the other three dimensions and it is triggered by faith and prayer in accordance with the will of God. The power was not that of Moses or Elijah or Peter or Paul. The power came from God.

The Spirit of God helps and enables us to tame our passions, our reptilean brain that keeps us crawling on the earth when our destiny is to soar like an eagle in the heavens. We will then be on the same frequency with our Creator- Redeemer. God uses ordinary people like you and me to accomplish His purpose and establish His kingdom on earth. Like Elijah we too have our earthly struggles, our mortal foes, our forces and factors of resistance, our threats and hazards. But as long as we keep the shield of faith well-oiled and in constant use, we can ward off any attack of fiery darts.

God affirms with this uni-verse that He can use us like He used Elijah. As long as we abide in Him, in His son and in His word, He grants us our heart’s desire. Nothing is too difficult or impossible for Him. As we increase in our knowledge of His mercy, grace and power, we increase in our strength. When He reigns in us and over our every emotion and desire, we can call off the rain and call the rain to fall. We can permit and prohibit, bind and loose, capture and release, shake and stay firm. A man of God has more power at his call than the most powerful natural man on earth. His fervent and effectual prayer has great effect.

Prateep V Philip

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Shades of Worship

UV 1305/10,000 Shades of Worship
Now we know that God heareth not sinners: but if any man be a worshipper of God, and doeth his will, him he heareth.

John 9 v 31

The prayers of sinners or those who have not been reconciled with God and redeemed bounce off the clouds as if they are of brass. But when we worship the Lord in spirit and in truth, He hears our every word and even our sigh is taken account of by Him. “ Worship in truth” implies that we pay heed to every word that has proceeded from the mouth of God. We worship in deeds when we obey His will as enshrined in His word. We worship in spirit when we commune with the Holy Spirit. The Lord inclines His ear to hear our prayers as a parent would to a child who whispers something.

We submit our wills willingly to the Lord. We do not need the Lord to forcibly subdue us as a rein is put through a horse’s nostrils to make it submit. We muzzle our mouths lest our words offend the Lord. We train our thoughts to please the Lord. We worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness when we wear the robes of salvation and the ornament of good deeds done in obedience to His will.

We should desire to be always at the centre of His pleasing will and not just His permissive will. It is our reading, studying, memorising, meditating and applying of the Word of God to our everyday life that ensures our constant alignment with His pleasing will. Scripture says that when we do so, even before we offer our prayers, He will hear us. We worship God with an attitude that combines deep awe and reverence with love, gratitude and appreciation. The fire of true worship of God once lit in the hearts of believers is never extinguished. Worship is not a ritual practice but a spiritual practice. We can worship God with songs, hymns and praise. We can also worship God with silence and in stillness. God does not desire worship only from our mouths but from our hearts. Our hearts are circumcised or made right for God when we regard His Word as valuable and instructive. It will excise the parts of our being that is not pleasing to God. The Word will discipline our hearts and minds to do His pleasing will. We can also worship God with a wholesome sacrifice. Abel worshipped God by presenting the best of His flock. By excelling in our work and our profession we can worship Him. We worship Him with our whole being by presenting ourselves as a living sacrifice.

Prateep V Philip

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Root, Shoot, Branches and Fruit of Leadership

UV 1304/10,000 Root, Shoot, Branches and Fruit of Leadership
He shall cause them that come of Jacob to take root: Israel shall blossom and bud, and fill the face of the world with fruit.
Isaiah 27 v 6

The Old Testament is the root, the New Testament is the shoot and our lives are the branches with blossom, bud and fruit. He has caused us to rise from the faith of Jacob or Israel and his covenant of faith with Jehovah. The Lord is the author, source and cause of our faith even as He is the creator of our lives. Perhaps, our seeking the light or truth with all our hearts helped in His choosing us. We have been grafted by our personal commitment and faith onto the shoot of Jesse, the father of David, King of Israel and onto his descendant, seed and root Jesus. Jesus is described in scripture as the Root and offspring of David. If the branches are not strong in faith, it will wither and be cast into fire to burn. If the branches are not yielding fruit too, it would be cut. If the branches are not growing well enough, it is pruned and trimmed to facilitate healthy growth. Our root should be strong, our shoot should be evergreen and then the branches will be full of blossom, bud and fruit. The root, shoot, branches and fruit analysis helps us always have a connected picture of God, Word and our life and its purpose.

We are a planting of the Lord to reveal the splendour of His power, glory and grace. The enemy of our soul would like to lay his axe on our root. We are marked people as we are responsible for the salvation of many. Therefore, as part of our covenant with God, we need to always have in mind some “root” verses and some “shoot” verses of protection that we erect as an enclosure or fencing around our lives. The enemy is described as a “ roaring lion waiting to devour His people”. The root promises of protection like Psalm 91 verses 14 and 16 and the shoot verses of blessing are Romans 8 verse 28 and John 14 verse 23. Even in the natural world, the shoot looks different from the root. The root looks dry, glamourless or sans beauty, shapeless, twisted and dull while the shoot looks green, erect and strong. The shoot verses Romans 8 verse 28 seems quite different from the root verse Psalm 91 verse 14 but they are intimately connected as root to shoot and the root holds the shoot up. With our believing, meditating and praying over and over again through the root and shoot verses, our lives get intimately connected to the shoot and thereby, to the root and we are primed to bear abundant supernatural, spiritual and natural fruit for the glory of God, our planter, gardener and keeper.

The blossoms are what makes us attractive to others just as colourful, scented flowers attract butterflies, bees and other insects to visit and both receive the nectar of our fellowship and carry forward the pollen of our fruitfulness. Our innumerable natural actions, thoughts and words are the leaves. The buds are our ideas and plans that the Lord enables us to carry to fruition if they are in accordance with His Word and will. The fruit are the words, qualities and actions that satisfy the spiritual hunger of people. The Lord desires that we expand our influence across the whole face of the planet to turn a desert of violence, meaninglessness and accompanying ugliness into a garden of great usefulness, meaning, beauty and fragrance.

Prateep V Philip

Monday, January 19, 2015

Knowledge and Understanding Gives Salvation

UV 1303/10,000 Knowledge Gives Salvation
The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master's crib: but Israel doth not know, my people doth not consider
Isaiah 1 v 3
Knowledge is not just power but it leads to salvation. For want of knowledge of God, people perish. When Jesus was born in the manger, the ox recognized that this baby lying nearby is the Creator, the CEO of the universe, its Maker and ours. The ass recognized that the crib held the Master of the world. But Israel did not know or understand or consider, then as now, who Jesus is. They did not understand the prophecies concerning the promised Messiah. They did not understand the promises in scripture concerning Him. They did not consider or comprehend the claims of Jesus.

The Lord laments that the number of those who are conscious of the glory of God, those who are conscious of the presence of God and those who are conscious about the Holy Spirit are so few. He laments at the state of the world. He desires that we understand His sovereignty. We need to understand who He is. We need to consider His wise judgements. We need to understand His holy ways. We need to conform to His image and to be the image He has of us. We need to delight in His fellowship and in worshipping Him. We need to delight in knowing His Word and in doing His will.

The Lord laments that the world has all the information it needs at its fingertips. It has access to internet and every kind of technology. But all this would collapse like a Tower of Babel. There is no conception of holiness. People are full of pride, arrogance, grudges, resentment and bitterness. They are like sores and wounds full of pus and contamination but are covered up with bandages to look as if nothing is wrong with them or the world. He wants us to cleanse ourselves and be sanctified. The Lord wants us to be more sensitive than the ox and the ass in the manger of Bethlehem. He wants us to be more humble and sensitive to the move of the Holy Spirit like the shepherds in the meadows near Bethlehem. He wants us to be wise like the Magi who came seeking for Him. He wants us to be loving like the doting Mary and Joseph. He wants us to glorify Him like the angels and cherubim. He wants us to rejoice like Simeon on seeing the baby Jesus. He wants us to be excited like the not yet born forerunner John the Baptist who kicked in his mother’s uterus on hearing His voice.

Prateep V Philip

Sunday, January 18, 2015

The Natural, Supernatural and Spiritual

UV 1302/10,000 The Natural, the Supernatural and the Spiritual

But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.

I Corinthians 2 v 14

Spiritual truths need to be spiritually discerned. We are born sensual, carnal and natural in the flesh. Unless we are born in the spirit, we cannot see the kingdom of God. We are blinded to the things of God and cannot believe that which is spoken of Him. But when we are spiritually born, our spirit communes with the spirit of God. Our spiritual eyes are opened to discern the truths of God. We no longer lives natural lives but supernatural lives for the natural is superimposed by the spiritual. We continually die to our flesh and live to the spirit. Where earlier our sensual and natural selves made us think that the spiritual was foolish or did not even exist, now we realize that the spiritual realm is real and that God rules over it as His kingdom. As our natural bodies are weakened and our natural senses are dulled, our spiritual bodies are strengthened and our spiritual senses sharpened to perceive that we could not see or know earlier.

As we grow spiritually, we grow in wisdom that is not earthly and sensual but spiritual, godly and eternal. The world and the things of the world including our preoccupation with all our desires kept us blinded from perceiving that which is eternal and godly. Now our perspectives are transformed and our priorities are changed. We realize that it is more important to reach God than to be rich. While our priority was to satisfy our earthly needs, now we realize that we need to prepare our souls for eternity. We savour or enjoy the things of God and not as before the things of men. We desire not to please ourselves or other men like us but we desire to please God. We give priority to hearing the voice of the good Shepherd Jesus and to do His bidding in our lives. We seek His practical guidance in all our decisions. Our eyes are blessed as we can see spiritually. Our ears are blessed as we can hear spiritually. Our hearts are blessed as we can understand spiritual things. Formerly, we tried to understand with our sensual minds and not our hearts. We tried to discern with our senses and not with our spirits. As we become spiritually minded, we enjoy life in all its abundance and eternal peace.

We recognize that the cross of Jesus is the power of God to save and not foolishness as the natural man and world thinks. God who commanded the light to shine out of darkness will shine His glorious light on the face of Jesus so that we know that He is our Messiah, our personal Saviour. We will also hear the Holy Spirit testifying to us that this is true. The Holy Spirit will then anoint us and lead us into more truths of God.

Prateep V Philip

Friday, January 16, 2015

Divine Appointments

UV 1301/10,000 Divine Appointments
And the LORD appointed a set time, saying, To morrow the LORD shall do this thing in the land.
Exodus 9 v 5

Sometimes try as we might we are not able to do or accomplish certain goals. We puff and struggle with all our might and yet nothing seems to happen. But at the Lord’s appointed hour it happens with great ease. The reason is that the Lord has set a time for everything- for sowing and reaping, a time for every purpose , a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to harvest, a time to kill, a time to heal, a time to build and a time to break down, a time to weep, a time to laugh, a time to mourn, a time to dance, a time to cast away, a time to gather, a time to embrace and a time to refrain, a time to rend clothes, a time to stitch, a time to be silent, a time to speak, a time to get, a time to lose, a time to keep, a time of love, a time to hate, a time of war, a time of peace. Nothing is a waste or a mistake in God’s scheme of things. Nothing too impossible, nothing too difficult, nothing too painful, nothing too unbearable. He will give grace for every situation we face in life, both the terrible and the terrific.

As scripture says, “ Many are the plans in a man’s heart but it is the Lord’s will that prevails. Therefore, when we make great or small plans, we should not say that we will do this or that tomorrow, or that we will go here or stay here or there. We should say that if it is the Lord’s will it shall be. We need to acknowledge Him at every stage of our planning a thing and wait for His time to start, to do , to stop and to finish. We need to wait for Him to act at every turn and pause even as we are diligent in doing that which lies upon us. We need to look for the signs and messages of His will and purpose. All our human plans and time management techniques will go out of the window. He sets times not just for individuals like us but for nations and the whole world and universe. Just take a look at the elaborate clockwork precision with which the heavenly bodies rotate and revolve on its axis as well as around others. When we go through times of sorrow, look back at times of joy, when we go through times of pain, look back at times of pleasure, when we go through times of loss, look back at times of gain, when we go through times of sowing, look forward to times of harvesting.

As Peter Drucker, the so- called father of modern management, a man who acknowledged Christ as His only Saviour said, “ The only thing we know about the future is that it will be different.” But nothing is hidden from the Lord. He is the true father not just of wisdom and management but of lights. Nothing is hidden from His eyes. The implication is that in all things, whether it be the success of our missions, the goals of our profession, the marriage of our children, the birth of children, the prosperity of our finances, the growth of our investments, the fulfillment of our plans, we should wait consciously, with expectation and gratitude for the appointed hour of the Lord when He will bring it to fruition. The Lord has set times and He will surely keep His appointments. He is never early or late. He is on time every time but it may not be according to our earthly calendar or clock or our personal time table. He may come up with certain surprises and shocks to rock us out of our complacency. But He will never disappoint the faithful.

Prateep V Philip

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Nature's Bypass

UV 1300/10,000 Nature’s Bypass
Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost
Romans 15 v 13

Last evening in a time of prayer, while we were greatly perplexed and troubled in our hearts at the tragic mishap that killed three people including one senior civil servant who was a dear friend of ours, the Lord gave this rhema promise. In the fifth verse of the same chapter, the prayed for manifestation is the God who gives endurance, comfort, consolation and the spirit of unity. In the 13th verse, the manifestation of grace is as the God of hope who fills us with all joy and peace of belief. Peace of belief implies the quiet assurance that what we believe is true despite the circumstances and people who say it is not or doubt if it is true. When we are filled with all joy and peace, then we abound in hope through the power of the Holy Spirit. This uni-verse is a wonderful benediction or pronouncement of blessing.

We need to endure all our troubles with a sense of trust, confidence and joy knowing that the Lord will never fail or disappoint us. The Holy Spirit will give us the hope and the power to overcome our doubts and fears. Our hearts instead of being overcome by sorrow should be overflowing with joy, peace and hope. The metaphor the Lord gives for this spiritual phenomenon is that He will cause springs and rivers to rise in the desert landscape of our lives. The beautiful miraculous life-sustaining and enhancing quality of water is best appreciated only in the desert. The beautiful hope-sustaining and joy-enhancing quality of the Word of God is best experienced in the desert times of our lives. These are not the times when we should be questioning God or blaming Him or doubting Him but move towards an even closer, dependent, trusting and intimate relationship.

Another metaphor the Lord gave was the ostrich that lays its egg on the desert sand. Its own great weight could crush. Other predators could also destroy it. Its egg is very large and its shell is very hard. Unlike other birds, the ostrich does not sit for a period of time on the egg in order to hatch it. Yet lying on the heat of the desert sand, the ostrich egg incubates and eventually hatches. The Creator in His wisdom knew that hatching the egg in the normal way would not be feasible. Hence, He created a bypass in nature to create an extraordinary way to hatch the egg using the desert ecology. Similarly, in our barren seasons and desert times, the Lord will give us hope and joy in inexplicable ways. When we fulfill the requirements of the fifth and 13th verses of the 15 th chapter of Romans, the promise in the last verse or verse 33 of the chapter will be fulfilled, “ The God of peace be with you all.”
Prateep V Philip

The Ultimate Test

UV 1299/10,000 The Death of the Righteous
Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints.
Psalm 116 v 15
A lightning once struck a palm tree in the neighbourhood. The tree top withered and it looked as if nothing would ever grow on its trunk thereafter. But recently I noticed that the palm tree was flourishing again. Though we are reduced to ashes and the dust that we are, the Lord can give us beauty for ashes. He resurrects His saints from death. We may not comprehend the reason why it happened prematurely or why it was so sudden and violent. But we need to remember this uni-verse and affirm that He makes no mistakes. Jesus Himself is the one who died but is now alive again. The blood that is shed in a violent or untimely death is not shed in vain as long as the person died while in an ongoing personal relationship with the Lord.
A senior Secretary to the Government of the state and a dear sister in faith has died a tragic death in a road mishap. The car accident took the life of the person driving as well as her brother-in-law. Her sister and niece were seriously injured. She was a God-fearing and faithful person. She was much loved by both family and friends. The question arises in many believers’ minds, “ Why did it happen?” With our limited knowledge of the total reality, we may wonder at the purpose of such a terrible catastrophe that has devastated both her family and friends. From God’s perspective, He values the death as well as every aspect of the circumstances of our lives and deaths. It is valuable as He looks forward to welcoming home those who have been faithful to Him the best part of their lives. Death is a gateway for their entrance into their heavenly mansions. It is not the end but only a bend to take us to our eternal destiny. Sometimes, whole families go through fiery trials. The purpose is to refine and perfect our faith just as gold is both tested and purified in the furnace. While we are going through the fire it is extremely painful and difficult but eventually if they emerge stronger and closer to the Lord and to each other, the Lord will deem it worth the pain and suffering.
It is the Lord’s sovereign will to determine the timing as well as manner of our deaths. But there is an inscrutable or incomprehensible purpose behind it. The death of those who are righteous by faith is not in vain. It could be that He was planning the sowing of the body for a greater good or to prevent the person from suffering an evil or some other inexplicable reason. When tragedies such as this happen, it is a test of our faith. We need to re-examine our lives and our priorities vis a vis the Lord’s perspective. We need to think that each day is the last day of our lives except the Lord grant us. He will then extend our lives day by day. We need to surrender our lives to the sovereign will of the Lord. What He gives us He has the right and prerogative to take. He sometimes tests the extent of our faith by asking of us that which is precious in our eyes. For example, Abraham was asked to sacrifice his precious son Isaac. He restrained the hand of Abraham even as He allowed His own precious Son Jesus to walk the steps of Calvary and die in our place. Sometimes our faith should endure the difficult test of the lives of our nearest being taken. With our limited knowledge and understanding of eternal purpose, we cannot understand what good will come of it. As Job said, “ Though You slay me, yet shall I love You.” It is not as if Job did not value his own life but that He trusted the wisdom and love of God. This is the ultimate test of our faith and commitment to God.

Prateep V Philip

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

The Diamond Nib

UV 1298/10,000 The Diamond Nib

This Ezra went up from Babylon; and he was a ready scribe in the law of Moses, which the LORD God of Israel had given: and the king granted him all his request, according to the hand of the LORD his God upon him.
Ezra 7 v 6
Ezra was commissioned by king Artaxerxes to teach the people of Israel the statutes of the God of Israel. Artaxerxes is referred to by Ezra as king of kings but today we know that the title King of Kings belongs to Jesus and Jesus alone. Ezra was tasked by God to teach the law of Moses and so enable the people to understand the statutes of God that they must follow. Today, like me many are called to be a ready scribe for the Lord. The Syrian word for “ready scribe” is” sophro chochmo ” or wise scribe or one who is eminently skillful in expounding the law of God. We need to analyse the Word of God and unearth or mine the hidden meaning, the deeper meaning, the wonderful truths that will enable people to align their lives with the will of God and so please Him who made us in His image and once we sinned, further redeemed us by paying the price of His son. It is God who choses us and anoints us to be skillful communicators for Him. Our communication should be wise, wholesome and beneficial to our listeners, readers or audience. We ourselves should spend time listening to the Holy Spirit in order to interpret the Word accurately and without error.

The hand of the Lord was upon Ezra and so he won the favour of the powers that be of that age. When the hand of the Lord is likewise upon us, the contemporaneous powers that be will look with favour upon all our request and grant it. The Lord will send a favourable wind to drive the sails of our ship to the port where He wants us to reach. We are a pen in the hands of the Lord. Even the words we speak are like the Word of God. Our tongues too are an iron pen with a diamond end in the hands of the Lord. What we speak and write will remain deeply etched in the memories and spirits of the people we minister or lead or mentor. It will motivate them, cause them to grow in knowledge and wisdom, encourage them when they are down and steady them when they are “high”, enable them to know the Lord and the length, breadth and depth of His love.

Jesus told His disciples to be ready scribes, “ teaching them to observe all that I have taught and lo, I will be with you till the end of the world.” Jesus promises us that as we are faithful in learning and teaching all that He commands, He would personally be with us till the end of the age. The word “ observe” implies teaching people how to practice all that Jesus taught. We need to write and teach not only the meaning of scripture but we need to teach people to relate each portion of scripture to the practical aspects of life. Then only can we be described as “sophro chochmo” . God does not expect us to be great theologians or deep thinkers but practitioners of the Word in everyday life. When we do so, He will pour His grace upon us to increase or multiply our influence and grant all that we request Him. To be a ready scribe, one needs a pattern of regular daily discipline and an unswerving commitment whatever happens, whether people give feedback or not, to keep writing, speaking and teaching . For nearly 1300 days now, I have been studying scripture day after day, morning after morning, allowing the Holy Spirit to interpret the deeper meanings to me, then allowing my mind to go down in the shafts of the gold mine of scripture and come up with the refined treasure, ingots of pure truth, concepts and precepts to build the faith and love of people.

Prateep V Philip

Monday, January 12, 2015

Every Oppression- An Opposite and Unequal Reaction

UV 1297/10,000 Every Action- an Opposite and Unequal Reaction

But the more they afflicted them, the more they multiplied and grew. And they were grieved because of the children of Israel.

Exodus 1 v 12

The Egyptians and their ruler, the Pharaoh had forgotten the good that Joseph the ancestor of the Jews had done them and how he had virtually saved the nation from a disastrous and prolonged famine of seven years. The Israelite descendants of Jacob and of Joseph had multiplied and prospered in the land. The Pharaoh threatened by their growth and blessing enslaved them. After so enslaving them and causing them to do hard and forced labour for them, the Egyptian taskmasters further increased their violence and oppression of the Jewish people. But the more they were persecuted, tortured, afflicted, the stronger, the healthier and more numerous they became. For God was with them and seeing the injustice meted out to them blessed them in this manner. Indeed, when God blesses us, who can curse us? When He is kind to us, of what avail is oppression? When He is favourable to us, who can prevent us from multiplying, becoming influential and successful in all fields?

It is a lesson of biblical history that the more the persecution, the more the wanton affliction and oppression, the more faithful those who belong to God become. The more faithful we are, the more the fruit of the spirit multiplies among us and the greater will be our impact and influence. We are currently facing a period of famine and oppression but the Lord will use this as a time to multiply both our numbers and our influence in the nation. The nation of Israel cried out to the Lord and God sent a savior to them in the person of Moses and later, Joshua. When we cry out to the Lord, He sends Jesus the savior not just to save us but also the numbers of those who choose to oppress us. It is a time of pruning that the divine Farmer has willed, a time of leaving the field fallow, a time of lying low to allow for greater fruitfulness in the days , seasons and years to come. It has an effect on the oppressed and the oppressor. One will be purified, unified and strengthened and the other will be touched and transformed.

The days will come when the oppressors will be alarmed at the growth of the faithful in terms of both sheer quantity as well as in terms of blessedness or quality. They will be disarmed by the opposite result of their actions. They will realize that this is not natural but supernatural, that without divine intervention this could not have happened. The manifold grace of God towards His chosen will be multiplied and so His will be done like the surprise ending of an O Henry short story. Instead of diminishing or weakening, the faithful will be multiplied. For God’s math is multiplication while the enemy plans division and subtraction.

Prateep V Philip

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Success Re-defined and Re-discovered

UV 1296/10,000 Success Re-defined and Re-discovered

And the name of the second called he Ephraim: For God hath caused me to be fruitful in the land of my affliction.
Gen 41 v 52

In Jesus all the identities of every positive Biblical personality is subsumed in us. This is the reason Jesus said, “ Even the least in the kingdom of Heaven shall be greater than him”, referring to the comparative greatness of John the Baptist. In this context, each of us is a Joseph. Like Joseph, we too should see dreams and visions and be able to interpret as well as be a willing participant in their fulfillment. Joseph’s name itself is a prayer that “Jehovah add or give increase.” The name of the second son was “Ephraim” meaning fruitful. The blessing that Jacob the patriarch gave to Joseph was also reminiscent of his fruitful life despite being greatly afflicted from the days of his youth. Jacob affirmed the destiny of his beloved son Joseph thus, “ Joseph is a fruitful bough beside a well whose branches overhang a wall.”

From his childhood, a wellspring of living water of faith in Jehovah and His goodness toward him had fed and sustained him. When he was afflicted due to the jealousy and insecurity of his brothers and the archers shot their fiery arrows at him, God strengthened his bow and his arms. God delivered him out of all his afflictions. He used Joseph to deliver not just his brothers and father from affliction, starvation and death by famine but whole nations. His fruitful branches overflowed the wall of affliction. Each affliction and challenge takes us to the next level in our relationship with God and man as well as in the fulfillment of our divinely ordained purpose. The afflictions taught Joseph to be secure in his faith in God. It pruned and made him more fruitful. Our afflictions point out to us the direction in which we should be serving God and man. We should rise above the walls of the affliction that confine us and keep our vision restricted and constrained. Jesus is the wall of our protection, the fencing around our faith, the hope of our lives, the strength that sustains us. We are called to be a fruitful blessing to satisfy the spiritual hunger of the nations.

The uni-verse states unambiguously that God was the cause or stimulus or source of Joseph’s fruitfulness. He was the One who watered him from the well of His blessings and counsel in the desert of his afflictions. We too as modern Josephs are called to be fruitful despite our afflictions and limitations as well as on account of our afflictions and limitations. We are to rely on God as a fruitful bough rests on a wall. We are to be watered by the promises and the Word of God for these soften our otherwise hardened, aggrieved and bitter hearts. We will draw with joy water from the well of the Lord. Jehovah will add and cause us to increase step by step, measure by measure. The very wall that was meant to obstruct us will become the perch for our success and fulfillment. We will realize that it is more significant to be blessed and fruitful than to be successful or prosperous.

Prateep V Philip

Saturday, January 10, 2015

The Concentric Circles of Peace

UV 1295/10,000 The Concentric Circles of Peace

For my brethren and companions' sakes, I will now say, Peace be within thee.
Psalm 122 v 8

The concentric circles of peace begin with peace in each of us. That peace comes when God’s flag or banner of love is installed. The kingdom of God is ushered in. The first circle is peace with God through Christ, the center of all the circles. The next circle is peace with self that flows from the first circle. In this circle we are at peace with our past, present and future. We are at peace with regard to time beyond all tense- eternity. The third circle is peace with family or peace with spouse and peace with children, brothers and sisters, peace at home. It is followed closely by peace with one’s fellow believers: brothers and sisters in faith. Then comes the peace with significant others at workplace and in social circles. The fourth circle is peace with all others including strangers- the world at large. The fifth circle is peace with one’s known and unknown enemies- human, of course. The peace of the first circle overflows into the other concentric circles. Each circle reinforces the other. The uni-verse states that it is not a selfish peace desiring only the gratification of our own desires but it overflows like a cascade to intensely desire and pray for peace for all people and especially, our brothers and sisters in faith.

Scripture says that peace for one’s brethren or fellow believers is a sign and evidence of having passed from death to eternal life. By our bond of love, unity and peace with brethren in faith, we declare to the rest of the world that we belong to the Lord and that we are redeemed. We need to focus only on Jesus being the Centre of the Circles or COC and all the rest will fall in place. Concentrate on Jesus and all the concentric circles will be fine. He is the locus of our being. We get our eternal bearings from Him. It is the peace of the house of God for we become the very tabernacle of God. It is a growing peace for it is not static but dynamic and ever growing. It is a living peace and not the peace of the grave.
All these concentric circles of peace are marked by a peace that the world cannot give, take away or even understand. It is the peace of Jesus. Jesus is the Prince of Peace while satan, by contrast is the prince of strife. It is His prerogative to give peace to His followers. It is the peace that we cannot earn or purchase. It is the peace that is obtained by the blood of Jesus. It is the peace that passes human understanding. It is a peace that strengthens and endures every circumstance. It is a peace that unites. It is a peace that is deep and eternal. It is a peace that is holistic and comprehensive- it includes in it the shalom blessings of health, longevity, journey’s mercies, wisdom, forgiveness, security, success, prosperity, well being, joy, gladness and eternal life.

Prateep V Philip

Stories with Happy Endings

UV 1294/10,000 Stories with Happy Endings
For Mordecai the Jew was next unto king Ahasuerus, and great among the Jews, and accepted of the multitude of his brethren, seeking the wealth of his people, and speaking peace to all his seed
Esther 10 v 3

The testimonies of the faithful always have happy endings. We might go through great tests, tribulations and troubles but the Lord will ensure that in the end we come out good. Mordecai faced the threat to his position as well as his life from Haman who was Prime Minister to king Ahasuerus. Haman was a Jew-hater and Jew-baiter. Similarly, there are many people who will rise up against us, egged on by a deep-seated animosity and anger against us often without any cause. But the Lord will deliver us as long as we cling to Him and His promises. Our enemies become the footstool on whom we rise even as Mordecai rose even as Haman fell to don his robes, his ring, mount his horse and occupy his position. God will raise us to a position of leadership and influence among our people. He will bestow greatness and grace upon us.

Mordecai as a leader genuinely sought the welfare of his people and spoke peace to his countrymen. He was empathetic, compassionate, humble, God fearing and God -believing. Mordecai was a blessing to his people. He had done all he could to save the Jewish people from utter destruction. God had prepared ahead of time for the salvation of the Jews by enabling his adopted daughter Esther to find favour and be selected as queen of the kingdom. God had prepared ahead of time for Mordecai to find favour with the king by enabling him to take steps to protect the king’s life when it was under threat. He truly orchestrates things and events for our rise and success. He is the God of second chances, happy endings and promising beginnings. When our lives are threatened or faces grave danger and we are saved by the grace of God, it is a certain sign that God is preparing us for greatness, to do great things and to deliver people from grave dangers like Moses and Jesus Himself.

Jesus moves among us today as a Mordecai. He holds a position in heaven next only to the Father. He is the greatest name in all of history. He seeks the well being of the faithful and He speaks blessings of peace, healing and prosperity or Shalom into our lives. He will deal with all the physical and spiritual Hamans who rise against us. He will cause them to fall in the very pit they were digging for us, to be hanged on the gallows they were preparing for us.

Prateep V Philip

Thursday, January 8, 2015

God as Ebenezer

UV 1293/10,000 God As Ebenezer
My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.
Psalm 121 v 2
All of us from our earliest days to our last days get some help from someone or other like our parents, family members, friends and even strangers. But the Lord is the most consistent person who helps us. We have help in the very name of God. This is the reason one of the names of God is Ebenezer or One who Helps. When we remember the different names or titles of Jehovah or Jesus or the Holy Spirit, we are invoking that kind of help. When we worship Him as Jehovah Nissi, we are seeking and obtaining His help to be victorious or successful in whatever goal or mission or struggle we are currently facing. When we remember Him as Jehovah Jireh, we are seeking His help in provision. When we remember Him as Jehovah Rohi or Shepherd, we are seeking His help in terms of guidance.

When we are claiming a particular rhema verse or specific promise, we are seeking the help of God in that manner. The Lord is acknowledged as the Maker and the Master of heaven and earth as a sign of our faith that there is no limitation to His power or His providence. Every resource of heaven and earth are at His command. Hence, there is no limitation or inability on the part of God to help us. Our constant access to Him through the grace and mercy of Jesus is what enables us to avail His present help continually all through our days. He will help us overcome every challenge of heaven and of earth in His time. We need not fear what man can do to us. Our confidence and trust is in the combination of the might and mercy of God. Grace is the combination of the might and mercy of God. His mercy keeps Him from withholding His favour or His might towards us. But though He can manifest Himself in terms of His great and unlimited might, He mostly manifests His help not in might or in power but by His spirit.

The complete knowledge of God of the details of our lives, our character, our needs enables Him to give us timely and sufficient help. His commitment to our present and eternal well being is apparent all through scripture. He is vigilant and watchful over each of us. He watches over our coming and going. He watches over us while we are resting. He protects us from the visible and invisible, known and unknown threats. He knows our every thought and motive behind every thought and preserves us from evil that lurks in our own nature. Since He indwells in us as the Holy Spirit, His help is not even at arm’s length but right within our hearts and minds.

Prateep V Philip

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Breathing in the Greatness of God

UV 1292/10,000 Breathing in The Greatness of God
I prayed to the Lord my God and confessed: “O Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps His covenant of love with all who love Him and obey His commands,”
Daniel 9 v 4

Daniel served many great emperors of the ancient world but he acknowledged that God is far greater and awesome than all of them put together. God alone deserves to be called our Lord. He is faithful to every word of His covenant. It is a covenant of love more sacred, precious and endearing than the bonds of marriage. We enter this covenant of love when we commit our hearts and our lives to Him. We manifest our love for Him by obeying His commands. We do not regard His commands as restrictive of our freedom or our growth. Rather, we regard these commands as a safeguard like the protective embrace of a lover. His commands are meant to protect us from evil, to enable us to reflect the image of God in our lives. His commands are meant to pre-empt the enemy of our souls from keeping us in bondage to sin. His commands are meant to make us righteous. His commands are meant to bless us. When we obey His commands and precepts and when we are mindful of the models and examples He has raised right through human history, we are affirming that we belong to God, that we want to return to Him. When we sin or disobey God we are struggling with God. We are like Jacob trying to run away from God and we are struggling like Israel with God. We are confused about life and its purpose. When we obey His will and His commands, we are surrendering and submitting to God. We will have greater clarity of meaning and purpose.

Daniel had a scripture-based God concept or idea of who God is. It was also an experience-based knowledge. Faith is followed by experience and seldom, it is the other way round. We need to understand the personality and character of God from scripture. We need to believe it. Faith is therefore not blind but it is inspired by what is written in scripture. For what is written in scripture is based on the experience as well as the revelation to many people chosen by God.
Daniel’s confession of sin of Israel and repentance was preceded by his confession of his personal faith. Our understanding of who God is and the extent of His love, mercy and grace will lead us to a recognition of our sinfulness, shortcomings and failings and then to a true repentance, seeking the help of God to overcome our weaknesses and limitations. This repentance further leads us to experiencing the blessings and grace of God in our lives. The lordship or kingdom of God is established in our lives and hearts by every single thought, word and act of obedience to His commands. Prayer is tantamount to breathing in or appropriating the greatness and awesomeness of God. God is always ready and willing to share His greatness and awesomeness with His children as He did with Daniel. There are no frills in faith but there are always many thrills.

Prateep V Philip

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

The Good Soul and the Good Soil

UV 1291/10,000 The Good Soul and the Good Soil
But that on the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience.
Luke 8 v 15

Good soil or good ground is required even for the Word of God to get rooted , to grow and become a fruit bearing plant. A hardened heart cannot receive the Word. Our hearts need to be soft, honest and good for the seed to push down roots, nourish itself in the thoughts and meditation of our souls. Hearing the Word is like drilling a hole in the earth to sow a seed deep in the core of our being. Once it is sown, the soil should be poured over the opening to keep the good seed. We need to store or hide the Word, the promises as well as the precepts, the commands and the models in scripture. When we keep the Word for a period of time, it grows and becomes a plant, the plant becomes a fruit-bearing tree, the tree becomes a garden, the garden becomes a forest. Patience is required as it takes time to bring forth fruit or to realize the purpose of God for our lives.

We need to prepare the good ground by tilling it or ploughing it. We need to pour and sprinkle water of the Holy Spirit every day to soften the soil. We should prevent birds of prey and other predators from removing the seed planted. We should not only plant the seed but we need to mow and uproot the weeds. When we retain the Word of God and meditate on it all the time, both day and night, we will be greatly blessed. The seed will grow and the weeds will be removed or eradicated. We will be watered continually. We will be rooted in God and grafted onto His Son, the good Vine. We will bear the fruit of eternal life.

It is more important to be blessed than to be successful. To be blessed implies to be favoured by God all round in 360 degrees and all the time. Scripture says that “ blessed are those who keep the Word of God.” A good soul is not good enough for God but when the Word is added by faith to a good soul or heart, it becomes blessed to fulfill the purpose of life, to experience the full power and grace of God. A person who is successful wants to be successful primarily for his own sake. But a tree is fruitful not for its own sake for it never consumes or benefits from its own fruit. Perhaps the only benefit is that it will prevent it from being cut down. It will get stones thrown on it in order to obtain the fruit. This is why the blessed are persecuted or troubled by the so called successful and powerful people of this world. The successful do not have peace or joy. They throw stones on the blessed with a view to knock down some fruit of peace and joy. The fruit that the blessed produce are good works of every kind, good words of comfort, strength and guidance, good thoughts, good qualities of mind and heart. We are called to be patient farmers to cultivate such manner of fruit in our lives.

Prateep V Philip

Monday, January 5, 2015

Weaned Leadership

UV 1290/10,000 Weaned Leadership
Surely I have behaved and quieted myself, as a child that is weaned of his mother: my soul is even as a weaned child.
Psalm 131 v 2
Conquerors in history are never contented with their conquest. They want to conquer and annex more land and people. Capitalists are not contented with their great wealth- they always want to multiply it further. Rulers want to add to their power and stature. People want to add to their wealth and resources. Children want more toys. Women want more clothes and shoes. Builders want to build more. Winners want to win more. And so on. The list of human wants is endless. We are like children who are never satisfied with the milk we have drunk. We want more and more. Those who want more and more are like immature feeding children. But God’s call to us is to be like a child who is weaned, who no longer delights in the things of the world but delights in resting and trusting in God’s presence as a weaned child rests calm, assured, contented and secure in her mother’s arms. We are no longer to be concerned with great ambitions for ourselves but we wait calmly and patiently for the Lord to show us what we should do.

A weaned child is not a weak child. Our inner strength that is nourished by the grace of the Lord keeps us quiet and secure in the knowledge that the Lord will provide for us, that He will protect us and that He will promote us. We are responsible to consciously still and quieten our hitherto restless souls. Our food and meat that strengthens us is the Word that the Lord provides us day after day. A weaned child is a maturing person. Our physical habits and emotions are predictable even as our thoughts and ideas are unpredictable. A weaned child is a growing child. We do not stop growing all our lives even when we are old. Our growth is intentional and we pursue the goals the Lord sets for us. A weaned child is a well behaved and considerate person. We are gentle and compassionate, not always concerned only about our own need and interests but look to the needs and interests of others.

Leaders are to be weaned from the influences of the world and be influenced by the Word, to be secure but not complacent, to be strong and effective, to be calm but not silent in the face of untruth and injustice. This uni-verse is written by David as a king of Israel. Despite his great power and prowess, he knew compared with the Lord he was at best only a weaned child. Our contentment, our security, our joy and peace is found only in the presence of the Lord- a personal relationship with God. We have tasted of the Lord’s goodness. We are not guilty about our past, anxious about the present or fearful about the future. We are become like children ever ready to return to the embrace of our loving Father in heaven. We manifest not a careless attitude but a carefree attitude. We manifest a studied and practiced quietness, calmness, assurance, confidence, gentleness, humility and security in all our situations, circumstances and relationships.
Prateep V Philip

Sunday, January 4, 2015

The Overcoming of Sorrow and Pain

UV 1289/10,000 The Overcoming of Grief
But I would strengthen you with my mouth, and the moving of my lips should assuage your grief.
Job 16 v 5

Many people allow grief to shatter their lives. One of my daughter’s classmates and friends allowed his father’s death to completely derail his otherwise brilliant career. He dropped out of his course in the university and languished in pain. This uni-verse throws light on how our words should comfort and strengthen people who are in a time of grief or distress. When Job was undergoing great grief at his many losses that came in quick succession, his friends instead of making things look better made it worse by rubbing it in and saying that it must have been his sin that had brought such great tragedy upon him. The Lord strengthens us when we are weak by speaking the word of comfort to us. The Holy Spirit lays it on our hearts and assuages our sorrows. The sorrow is often not removed but our ability to bear it, to endure it and overcome it is increased. Our belief brings relief. The Lord will release an inner strength from within us to revive us, to enable us to overcome our grief.

It does not mean that we should only pay lip service. After I was injured in the assassination of Mr Rajiv Gandhi, a senior officer heard me crying out in pain , “Jesus, Jesus!” He merely said, “ Jesus will help you” and made no effort to move me to a more specialized medical facility to treat my injuries. Our words should be followed by commensurate actions to help or reduce the suffering of people we come across in the course of our daily lives.

Prayer and the Word of God are the wings on which our spirits rise up from our sorrows and burdens. They bring us under the comfort, refuge and might of the wings of the Lord. This morning as I watched two doves flying overhead, I thought to myself that so many things have to come together for those doves to fly in this manner. The muscles holding the birds’ wings need to be tightened, the different types of feathers need to play its role, the tails have to be held in a certain fashion. It flutters its wings. Then the bird is able to fly. When we pray and claim the Word, many things come together in real time. We have to do certain practical things on our own. We will have to do our own flying and running. The Lord will not cause us to walk or run or fly. But the Lord will speak a specific promise or word to comfort, strengthen and guide us. We need to wait at the mouth of the Lord to hear His word and not allow ourselves to wallow in sorrow or be overcome by it. Times of such grief are special seasons when we should draw closer to the Lord, feel His embrace and the whisper of His words in our ears. He is the Balm of Gilead to heal our deep and inner wounds. By His blood we are forgiven. By His wounds we are healed. By His spirit and His word are we nourished, comforted and greatly strengthened so that the depths of sorrow cannot separate us from His love, grace and mercy.

Prateep V Philip

Saturday, January 3, 2015

He Touched Me

UV 1288/10,000 He Touched Me

Then there came again and touched me one like the appearance of a man, and he strengthened me,
Daniel 10 v 18

A person who looked similar to the son of men appeared to Daniel, the Jewish noble captive of Babylon and touched him. He looked similar in that He had a form, limbs, chest and face like any of us but He was different for His body shone like beryl, His face had the appearance of lightning, His arms and feet like polished brass, His voice like that of a multitude. Daniel was greatly perplexed and troubled by the amazing visions and prophecies he received concerning the future of Israel and the whole world.
The appearance of the glorious Jesus clothed in the glory of heaven caused Daniel to be breathless and almost lifeless. It was not his fasting of three weeks that had weakened him but the appearance. That person who touched him was none other than the Son of God Jesus Christ, born much later in Bethlehem and who grew up in Nazareth and walked all over Israel, teaching, preaching, story telling, conversing, healing, delivering, doing miracles before giving Himself up to the injustice of a terrible death on the cross, rising up on the third day to take His place in glory having given every human being an equal opportunity to believe in Him and so be saved. When Jesus touched a human being, that person was strengthened. Daniel was greatly strengthened when he was touched in the christophany or appearance of Jesus before His historical birth on earth. When we are similarly touched by Jesus, we are strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power. The strength is not a mere physical prowess but it is manifested in patience, longsuffering or the ability to endure beyond pain and suffering with all joy. It is a paradox that we can be joyful even in the midst of pain and suffering when Jesus touches our lives. It is the knowledge that we belong to Him , that He owns us for joy means “Jesus Owns You” and the hope that we will return to Him in due time that creates this wellspring of joy. Our lives, our work and our very bodies becomes the fingers of Jesus to touch others.

Today, we too are like Daniel in this age and time. We are “noble captives”, slaves of God, slaves to righteousness with no option but to obey the Lord. We are called to shine like stars leading many to righteousness and to receive our eternal reward. We are called to excel in faith, in love and in our professions. Like Daniel our lives need to be touched by Jesus and our whole being touched again and again by the glorious , resurrected Jesus that we will be greatly strengthened in spirit, mind and body, that we be patient and endure suffering with joy, knowing that the Lord of all glory has borne suffering of the highest degree. I remember doing a review of a book by a Jesuit priest S J Powel, who was touched by Jesus through the testimony of a depressed person he was counseling. The touch of Jesus caused him to be healed and made whole again. It enabled him to be “Fully Alive and Fully Human”, the title of the book that he wrote of his experience

Prateep V Philip

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Function as a Watchman

UV 1287/10,000 Function as a Watchman
And I sought for a man among them, that should make up the hedge, and stand in the gap before me for the land, that I should not destroy it: but I found none.
Ezekiel 22 v 30
The Lord is always searching for interceders for people. Like Isaiah said, we need to offer ourselves and say, “Lord, here I am.” He wants us to be a hedge of prayer and protection for our nations and our people. He desires that we be watchmen for the souls of people, that we should stand in the gap between their deeds and God’s holiness and judgement. A watchman should be vigilant and observing all that is happening. He should take it to the Master’s notice. Similarly, our role as watchmen is to gather by observation all the relevant information about the world we live in, the cities or areas we live in and take the burden of our souls to the Lord.

Jesus admonished his sleeping disciples in the garden of Gethsemane to “ watch and pray.” When we stay up and pray while the whole world is sleeping, we are standing in the gap for the world. The Lord listens to our hearts concerns. Scripture says that “anyone who breaks a hedge will be bitten by a serpent.” It implies that anyone who tries to harm faithful, prayerful and watchful people will fall into the very pit or trap they were digging for them. The stone that they were rolling onto us will roll back on them. Believers form a hedge around their nations. We are accountable to God for the lives and souls of people who are placed in our area of influence or control. A spiritual watchman is not only alert at all times, he is sensitive and responsive. Whatever action lies with him, he needs to do. Like Nehemiah cried and repented for the follies of Israel, a watchman needs to repent for the sins of his people and his own. Nehemiah had a sense of “sempathy” or spiritual empathy- feeling the pain of God and God’s people as if it were His own. It led him to take many practical steps to re-build the walls of Jerusalem. For a watchman, the boundaries of the place he watches are very important. His eyes are on the spiritual walls or boundaries that separate the righteous from the unrighteous. A watchman of a farm needs to be wary of predators, of serpents, of birds of prey, of foxes that slip in through any gap in the fencing. He needs to be proactive and take pragmatic action to thwart the designs and activities of any of these. Similarly, God’s watchmen need to identify the enemy and his agents and take steps to neutralize their aggressive or inimical actions. All a watchman’s senses are fully put to use. He uses his natural gifts and resources and gathers all possible intelligence to discharge his responsibilities. The watchman needs to make sacrifices of his own comfort and needs. Similarly, we need to make sacrifices of our own comfort and need. A watchman stays humble and does not have any airs of his own importance. Similarly, we need to stay humble like a servant and know we are just doing our God-given and enabled duties. A watchman is involved and committed to his task or mission of guarding the people. Jesus sweated drops of blood as He stood in the gap before God the Father just before His crucifiction.
God is looking for a Moses to lead His people but everywhere He finds people who are contented to live life as if it is a bed of roses. Moses stood in the gap between the misdeeds of Israel and Jehovah. A leader’s role is to stand in the gap, to take the things or issues of man to God and take the thoughts and teachings of God to men. We know that we are never good enough or wise enough or brave enough to fill the gap between God and man, between what is needed and what is available. But we also are assured that the Lord can fill the gap or help us overcome the shortcomings. Our role as faithful and spiritual watchmen is to invite the Lord to intervene and fill the gap. Every watchman in turn needs to daily examine his or her own faith-fencing and check if all the links in the fence are tightly fitted without any gaps for any subtle fox of temptation or inducement to enter. When faithful people pray with a sense of burden over any issue a hedge is formed. The word ‘hedge ‘ is used to indicate that faithful, prayerful people who are fully aware of the threats of the powers of darkness are a natural supernatural force of protection. The hedge needs to be trimmed. Hence, even the watchmen need to be pruned through the Lord’s correction. The hedge is not static but it grows stronger and bigger over time. Similarly, we need to mature and grow in the Lord over time. We need divine anointing to function as a watchman for God as He alone can appoint us and give us the unction in our function.

Prateep V Philip

Remembering the Creator

UV 1286/10,000 Remembering the Creator

Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth, while the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh, when thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them;

Eccelesiastes 12 v 1

The Lord expects us to reverence, love and remember Him from our early days. He does not want us to wait till we are old and worn out or when our senses are dulled and we find no pleasure in this life. While we are still young , vibrant and full of life, the Lord wants us to acknowledge Him, to trust Him, to love Him and to commit our lives to Him. There is a tendency among human beings to say that they will think of God when they are older and nearing their end. Many people are under a delusion that God is a kill-joy and that they will not be able to really enjoy life if they developed a relationship with Him when they were still young.

This uni-verse is also a reiteration of the precept, “Catch them young.” When people get older they tend to become more cynical and skeptical. They will more likely resist the move of the Spirit and the hand of the Lord as they get older. Speaking for myself if I had waited till I was older to believe in the Lord, I would perhaps never believed in Him. I would have become more bitter and disbelieving than before as the years advanced. The advantages of remembering the Lord while we are still young is that we will be greatly strengthened to face life and its challenges on our bad days. We will be more blessed and wiser. Our hearts will not get calloused and hardened by our bad experiences and the mistakes we make in life. We will be more hopeful and optimistic that however things are going now, it will turn out right or perfect in the end.

The uni-verse also gives a new perspective on what is considered “ old”. If we stop taking pleasure in the ordinary things of life like friendship, nature or food or entertainment, it is then that we have grown old. As long as we take pleasure in the ordinary things of life, we will not grow old. When we remember the Lord at all times of day and night, when we are conscious of His presence with us and in us all the time, our strength and our youth will be constantly renewed like the melting snows of the Himalayas keep feeding and renewing the mighty rivers that have their source in the mountains. The Lord does not kill or diminish our pleasures or joy. Rather, He finds pleasure in our joy and happiness. He delights in our finding pleasure in the world He has created and given to us freely to rule and to live in. Jesus spoke of the master of a vineyard who sent His son to collect the rent from the tenants but they were ungrateful and cruel and killed him. So we are entrusted the earth as tenants or stewards. Our remembering that the vineyard belongs to the Master and His Son and being grateful for being allowed to cultivate it and enjoy its fruits is our way of paying back the Lord. When we remember Him in this manner, we prove that we are worthy of entering His eternal Kingdom. “Remember thy Creator” implies the personal relationship with the Creator for the words used are not the impersonal “ remember the Creator.” We need to remember the different dimensions of the Creator- His power, His wisdom, His love, His grace, His mercy, His faithfulness, His forbearance, His foresight, His gentleness, His sovereignty… We need to remember the experiences and testimonies of our lives. We need to remember the Word, the commands and the promises of God. We need to remember the promptings and forthtelling of the Holy Spirit. When we so remember, not just our memories and our imagination, not just our thoughts, words and emotions would be blessed but our whole being would be. We will be continually watered or cared for or provided and nourished from the inside.

Prateep V Philip