Saturday, February 28, 2015

The Perfecting of Love

1340/10,000 The Perfecting Of Love

But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him.

I John 2 v 5

When we keep or retain or store the Word in our hearts, the love of God is perfected in us. This is the mark of ownership and approval of God. We know that we belong to Him and He belongs to us. We will understand the length, breadth, height, depth of God ‘s love and make it manifest in practical ways in our lives. God’s love is perfect while our love for God as well as for other human beings is not perfect. Our motives are often selfish. The Word will correct the motive behind every thought and so perfect our love for God and others. It will help our love reflect the love of God. It will over time become like the love that St Paul describes in the first book of Corinthians: “ not jealous or conceited or proud, not holding a record of wrongs. Love is patient and kind and its faith, hope and patience never fail.”

We will see and understand the world through the templates of the Word. It will impart wisdom, judgement and discernment to us. It will replace our fears with faith and trust in the Lord and His ways. Perfect love has no fear in it. Imagine living a life with no fear. This is what is shalom or perfect peace. We obey the Word not out of fear of punishment or in pursuit of rewards but out of love for God. Scripture lives us a script for living and yet it gives us abundant freedom within this frame of reference. It throws light on a path to avoid as well as a path to follow. A command to obey is often accompanied by a promise to claim and a truth to proclaim.

Through the instrumentality of the Word, God consummates us or perfects and completes us. He fills the gaps and makes us whole. We will learn to walk in the ways of the Lord. Keeping the Word implies regularly reading, praying over scripture, meditating, believing, claiming, obeying and applying it in our practical lives. These disciplines will both bless us and make us a blessing. The Word is the medium of instruction and language of God and it enables us to communicate with Him, understand His priorities and make His priorities ours. The Word gives us a map that charts out the course of life as well as the path to eternal life. It shows us the channel on which we should pray and communicate with the Lord. The Word is also the medium through which He fills the cup of life with joy. Scriptures says that “there are pleasures forevermore at the right hand of God.” Many people shy away from scripture under the mistaken impression that it takes away their access to pleasure. It, in fact, reduces pain and enhances our delight, joy and pleasure of living.

Prateep V Philip

Friday, February 27, 2015

The Traditions That Rob

UV 1339/10,000 The Traditions that Rob
And honour not his father or his mother, he shall be free. Thus have ye made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition
Matthew 15 v 6
The Pharisees tried to find fault with Jesus by saying that He and His disciples disobeyed the time-honoured traditions of the Jews. Jesus replied that they only obeyed the commandments of men and thereby disobeyed God. Jesus gave the instance of the tradition of “Corban” by which people could avoid helping their aged parents under the guise that the money was pledged to God as a gift. The rules, traditions and rituals rob a person of the redeeming power of the Word of God and causes it to be of no effect. Most traditions are vain, meaningless and costly shortcuts. Ultimately, the author of many of these ungodly traditions is the enemy of our souls-satan for He is the one who robs and destroys. The traditions grow on us like fungi and give us sops for our conscience that we are leading good and blessed lives. God does not want us to be ritual but spiritual. To be spiritual is a matter of the soul and spirit. It is deep and internal. It is real and causes deep seated change or transformation. It causes a person to enjoy the presence of the Lord and to be so blessed. When we are truly rooted in the Lord, we are always aware of His presence. The Lord is not inert and His presence will release His power in and through us. We will receive His anointing and grace. We will receive and exercise spiritual gifts like healing, discernment, deliverance, prophecy, word of knowledge and word of wisdom. Our communication will be godly. He will not let our words be in vain or to fall to the ground without effect or fruit.

Human traditions have the opposite effect on our lives. It limits our freedom and our ability to enjoy a personal relationship with God. We learn to make do with a poor substitute for spirituality and the blessings of the Lord. Instead of blessings, we will only enjoy the respect and status that human beings confer for conforming to customs. Most of the rules associated with established religion are man-made and have little to do with what pleases God. It made people feel good or look good on the outside like “white-washed sepulchres.” God does not want us to be self-pleasers or man-pleasers but God-pleasers. Such self-pleasing and man-pleasing people are like rootless trees that do not bear fruit. The ones who teach and fight to uphold these traditions are like the blind leaders of the blind. They do not know who God really is and they are not able to distinguish between truth and untruth. They lack a vision. Their passion consequently is directed at meaningless and useless priorities of their lives.
God measures us by looking at our hearts. He sees what we give priority to or set greatest store by in our lives. He sees where our heart is and where our treasure is for He knows that where our treasure is, there our hearts will be. He checks the loyalties of our heart and if we worship Him and Him alone in spirit, truth and the beauty of holiness. He is not concerned with external standards by which human beings judge but He is concerned with what is stored in our hearts. He is not concerned with the food that goes into our bodies but the words that come out of our mouths that are a reflection and outpouring of our hearts. He is concerned whether His Word has taken root in our hearts, whether the Holy Spirit dwells therein and causes the commands and promises of God to grow, mature and bear fruit of the spirit or God-like character in our lives. We need to ask ourselves what are the traditions that we are conditioned to honour from our childhood that does not please God and have it removed by the roots and cast out of our lives.

Prateep V Philip

Stars Forever

UV 1338/10,000 Stars Forever
And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever
Daniel 12 v 3

There is a divine calling for every human being to be wise. To be wise is far more important than being knowledgeable. The personal knowledge of God is what gives us the edge over normal leaders and managers. We know Him as Friend, Master, King, Saviour, Lord, Lover, Fortress,Shepherd, Shield and Song. He is the bright morning star- the Sun of Righteousness. When we point others to Him both verbally and non verbally, we ourselves shine brightly like stars. We become the direction finders of humanity. The stars are enormous sources of almost infinite light. Mere intellectual power or physical charisma or our natural strength and talents can never make any mere mortal like a star. But our life in union with God through Christ will distinguish us as stars.
In ancient times, people found their way around by observing the position of the stars. Similarly, by the beacon of light from a lighthouse, ships would avoid shipwreck on rocky shores. Similarly, our life’s chief purpose is to be a lighthouse unto others, to be a star to point people the way to heaven. Jesus said, “ I am the way, the truth and the life.” Jesus is the way to God and to heaven, the truth of eternity and the source of living fully and abundantly. When we become signboards pointing to Jesus, we are the signposts on the way, the truth-liver and the ones who will live forever. We will shine brighter and brighter in the darkness of the contemporary world. When we intercede and plead for the salvation of people, we are pointing them to God. Even a star will die or fall as a comet but a believer is a star forever.

Gandhiji said, “ My life is my message.” But none of us can say that our message is greater than the message of love that we received in Jesus. Instead, our messages about Jesus is our life. Our goal is to turn as many as possible to righteousness. Our power comes from leading faithful and testimonial lives. Our words and actions should align with and corroborate our beliefs in order for us to shine like stars. God is the creator of the infinite number of stars in the universe. When He dwells in us and with us, each of us is actually more powerful than any star or galaxy of stars. When we believe God and trust Him, there is no limitation in time and space that can constrain us. When we teach and share the Word of God, we are stars radiating the light of God in this dark world. Daniel was a slave in Babylon. Yet God raised him up to hold a worldly position as a chief civil servant for the Emperor and he found favour with successive emperors. He had considerable knowledge by the standards of the age. He had the spirit of excellence in him. His foremost quality was he gave first place in his life to God. He had no immediate family and in all probability was made an eunuch in order to serve the king as was the practice in that time. But spiritually as a man of God and as a prophet who received rare visions and messages from the Lord, he outshone all the emperors and prominent people of the age. Spiritually, he is marked out as a star forever, a person esteemed by God.

Prateep V Philip

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

The Folly of the Number Game

UV 1337/10,000 The Folly of the Number Game
And David said to Joab and to the rulers of the people, Go, number Israel from Beersheba even to Dan; and bring the number of them to me, that I may know it
I Chronicles 21 v 2

David was tempted by satan to take a census of his fighting force and the people of Israel. He wanted to take stock to bolster his pride and confidence. Taking a census is considered a normal thing for governments since Roman times but David taking a head count signified that he was revelling in the strength of numbers instead of finding his strength in the joy of the Lord or in what pleases God. Today, it is a national as well as global and individual obsession with numbers that afflicts human beings. But God is not interested in mere numbers. Our confidence too should not be in the extent of money we possess or the resources we have or the number of people we lead or influence.

David’s seemingly simple act of taking a head count displeased God so much that He sent Gad his prophet to ask David to choose from a set of three afflictions: three years of famine, three months of military defeat at the hands of his foes or the sword of the angel of the Lord. David chose wisely to fall into the hand of the Lord for he knew that God is far more merciful than men or nature. God sent a plague upon Israel that took the lives of seventy thousand men. David and his elders pleaded with the Lord for mercy and the Lord relented and restrained the angel of death.

The moral of this event in David’s and Israel’s history is that we should be dependent only on the Lord for success, blessing, prosperity, health and well being. It is not a question of being “also dependent” on God. When we depend on any other thing like earthly riches or the strength of the people we know and lead, our own abilities and talents, it displeases the Lord and could be the cause of much affliction. Our devotion to God should be whole-hearted, undivided and focussed. When David’s error was pointed out to him, he repented and made amends. In the course of our life and leadership, we too might be prone to such temptations and errors of judgement. We should be sensitive enough to quickly restore the equilibrium of our faith and our relationship with God when it is pointed out to us by the Holy Spirit or by the people who advise us. David failed to heed the warning of Joab. We are to be dependent on godly counsel, dependent on grace not might, dependent on the Word and not numbers, dependent on the promises of God not the assurances of men, dependent on the blessings of God not on material or human resources. We are to rejoice in the presence of God and not in power or prestige of men. Our decisions and actions will clearly show the focus of our dependence, the source of our confidence, the reason for our delight.

Prateep V Philip

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Spiritual Wisdom versus Worldly Wisdom

UV 1336/10,000 Spiritual Wisdom versus Worldly Wisdom
But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.
James 3 v 17

This uni-verse distinguishes between two types of wisdom: one that is earthly or worldly, devilish and sensual and the other that is from above, godly, spiritual and eternal. The authors of both types of wisdom are different: Lucifer and Jesus. The source as well as the manifestations are distinct. We cannot mix one with the other as it would be like mixing oil and water. The first type of wisdom is short-lived and accursed. It limits one’s growth and development. Its fruit are strife, violence, envy, pride, vengeance, resentment, hatred, sorrow, rudeness, lust, covetousness and lack of self control. Such wisdom has an outer veneer of goodness but underneath lies all kinds of evil ambition and untruth.

The wisdom that is from above is peaceful, gentle, easily persuaded, full of mercy, love, joy, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, humility, contentment, graciousness and self control. It is not partial or insincere or hypocritical. It is pure. It is not ill mannered. It is not short sighted. We should never adulterate spiritual wisdom with worldly wisdom. Worldly wisdom is based on deception or false assumptions and beliefs while spiritual wisdom is based on the revelation of the truth.

The first type of wisdom enables people to get ahead in this world. The second type of wisdom enables us to live a life full of grace and peace. The first type of wisdom is selfish and enables people to please and indulge themselves. The second type of wisdom enables us to please God and to deny our own lust of the flesh, lust of the eye and pride of life. Spiritual wisdom bears fruit in word and deed. Worldly wisdom bears fruit only in words. Spiritual wisdom makes us look unto God for all things while worldly wisdom makes people look down on others. Spiritual wisdom will grow roots downwards and bear fruit upwards for the glory of God.

Prateep V Philip

Monday, February 23, 2015

The Refining Process

UV 1336/10,000 The Refining Process

And I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried: they shall call on my name, and I will hear them: I will say, It is my people: and they shall say, The LORD is my God
Zechariah 13 v 9
In nature as in our bodies, it is only a part of the food that we eat that is absorbed by the body- a major part or two thirds is rejected and excreted. There is a process of refinement and purification involved in life. The application of this principle is that everything that we desire or think or speak is not necessarily good. It should be sent through certain processes of separation of good from bad, of distillation for the end product to be absolutely useful and good. None of us is perfect but all of us are exhorted by Jesus to be perfect as our Father in heaven is perfect. It implies that we should not be content with what is good. It should get better and keep getting better till it reaches the point of best. Improvement, constant improvement is the order of the day in the Kingdom of God. Excellence is the process and perfection is the destination.

God uses fire and water to refine us. The “hot” times are the times He tests us through fiery experiences. He uses water to cool and wash us – these are the “cool” times. An alternation of “hot” and “cool” is used to shape and fashion us, to purge and refine us. The pure and refreshing water that He uses to “cool” us is the Word of God. It gives us the confidence and the courage, the persistence and the inner strength to keep moving through the “fire”. When we go through the fiery experiences, the dross or impurities, the doubts and fears melt and are separated from our faith and character.

If we are three parts- body, mind and spirit, it is the third part- the spirit that gets greatly strengthened when our faith and our personal relationship with our Maker and Redeemer, our God and our Lord is purified. Our spiritual eyes are opened. We live no longer by sight but by faith. We realize that it is only God who saves us and preserves us through the fire and the water. First we call on Him and He hears our call. Our faith in Him grows when we realize that the Lord has heard our prayers. When we affirm that “He is our God”, He in turn affirms that “ we are His people.” The mutual recognition of each other is the basis of a personal relationship. When we do this voluntarily, we reduce the workload for God and reduce the pain we need to go when we compel Him to subject us to various fiery learning, pruning, refining, distilling exposures in life.

Collectively, we constitute the remnant in the crucible of God- the pure and precious remnant. We need to willingly acquiesce and joyfully participate in the process of refinement and purification. We should stop resenting it and struggling with God as the word “ Israel” implies. We should also send our speech, our thoughts and our desires through a filteration process. The litmus test is whether it is pleasing to God. If it is pleasing to God then it is wholesome and healthy for us. God Himself is described as a consuming fire. The Holy Spirit is a gentle flame. We need to ask the Lord to remove the dross or what is unnecessary from our desires, thoughts and words. The God-man gap is what is known as "sin" or "hamartia". The process of refinement reduces and closes the gap.

Prateep V Philip

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Our God Concept

UV 1335/10,000 Our God Concept

And Hezekiah received the letter from the hand of the messengers, and read it: and Hezekiah went up unto the house of the LORD, and spread it before the LORD.
Isaiah 37 v 14
Hezekiah the king of Israel was facing the overwhelming odds of a military confrontation with the formidable army of Sennacherib, king of Assyria. The latter sent a messenger who asked him not to be deceived into believing that the God of Israel could save them from being routed and captured. The letter spoke about the numerous kingdoms that the Assyrian army had already overrun. Hezekiah responded by going to the temple of the Lord and spreading out the letter of Sennacherib before the Lord. Hezekiah first affirmed his faith in God and praised His glorious name. He then sought the help of the Lord remembering how the Lord had helped Israel in the past against mighty enemies and given them great deliverance. The Lord responded by assuring him that their enemies would go back the way they had come.

The same night that the Assyrian army encamped around Jerusalem in readiness to capture it, the Lord sent an angel of death and slew 1,85,000 troops. Sennacherib returned back to Nineveh and there he was assassinated by two of his own sons. In this day and time, each of us face overwhelming odds at times. Instead of being overcome with fear, grief and panic, we should spread our sheet before the Lord and seek the help of His mighty angels. He is Ebenezer God and is always willing to come to the help of the faithful who depend not on their own prowess or ability but on the strength of their God. Our faith is dependent on our "God concept" or our understanding of who God is and the extent of His love, mercy and grace towards us. Hezekiah based on his study and knowledge of the history of Israel from the times of Moses had an excellent "God concept".

Whatever be the challenge or difficulty we are facing, we should believe and affirm that God is greater, infinitely greater than the totality of our problems. Going to the house of the Lord in the New covenant context is to search deep within us, in the tabernacle of our own souls where God dwells for His ever present help. “ Spreading our sheet before the Lord” implies laying claim to the promises of God contained in His word, lying spread-eagled in His presence, surrendering and casting our burdens at His feet. The name "Sennacherib" implies "sin replaced my brothers". It ironically meant that every earthly king relies on sinful or cursed power. The mightiest power on earth is limited and circumscribed by the sovereign authority of God. The name “Hezekiah” in contrast means “ God is my strength”. Each of us is called to be a king Hezekiah in our own domains. Just as God helped Hezekiah safeguard his capital Jerusalem, He will help us guard our capital, or our home, our hearts, our health, our possessions, our faith, our well being from every attack of the sinful enemy. The Lord allows the Sennacheribs of the world to rise against us so that we will have a wonderful testimony or evidence of the faithfulness and reality of God's present, practical and sufficient help in our lives. The most important leadership concept is the God concept. If we have got this concept right, every thing else will fall in place.

Prateep V Philip

Saturday, February 21, 2015

The Money Question

UV 1334/10,000 The Money Question

But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness.

I Timothy 6 v 11

The only competition for God in the hearts of mankind today is not other gods but Mammon or money. This is the reason Jesus said unequivocally, “ You can either worship God or money.” Today more than yesterday or the day before, the unabashed love of the pursuit of money in all domains and all nations and parts of the world is growing. It has crept into the community of believers and so called men of God too. Money or the earning of large sums of money through legitimate enterprise and activity itself is not evil but the love of money is the root cause of much of the strife in our lives. It has the potential of piercing our hearts with many sorrows. If our loyalty turns on money, it could prove to be a snare to our lives. It will affect our relationship with God as well as our nearest and dearest. Our choices and decisions will revolve around how to make more money. The love of money is not satiable. When Henry Ford was asked how much more money would satisfy him, he replied , “ A little more.” Many people try to become heroes by adding more and more zeroes behind their names. It intoxicates them even when they have no need for any more. Faith is proportionate to the love of money in our hearts. If the latter increases, our faith decreases. Our blessings on us and our generations also decline. Money is a good servant but a bad master. We must learn to keep it a servant for it is perverse for a servant to gain control over our house as over our heart.

We are asked in this uni-verse to flee or run away speedily rather than towards money as we might be now doing. It tells us what we are to be wary of and to flee from and what we are to pursue relentlessly. We are to flee from the love of money as well as the deception, compromise, curses and risks that the root of the love of money produces in human life. Our focus should rather be on how to be more useful, productive, creative and fruitful from God’s perspective. Our priority should not be what will we gain materially but in what we would gain spiritually for the former is temporal and temporary while the latter is eternal and secured forever. Spiritual and personal all round excellence should be our driving force and daily workhorse while money and material matters should be the cart that follows. Scripture is not positioned against material prosperity or advancement for it endorses the material blessing in the Psalm that says, " Let your carts overflow with abundance." God takes us through seasons of abundance and scarcity and sufficiency in order to test our loyalties in different situations. My father-in-law who slept in the Lord just a couple of days ago and who was a highly successful and well known builder was once a person who used to assess people only by their bank balance. But the Lord took him through a series of failed contracts and the losses it entailed in order to break the hold that money had on him. In his last years, he replaced his confidence in money with a mustard-seed sized faith that enabled him to endure and overcome the travails that loss brought on him. That little faith has now got him a mansion in the Kingdom of God. Indeed, we need to make a choice between the kingdom of God and the kingdom of gold. We should be ready to trod on gold as if it is a mere pathway for us to walk on and not something that we should hoard and treasure in our hearts.

The love of money affects our integrity. We should instead persist in following the biblical principles of being right with God through faith, expressing it through our works of righteousness and love for God and man. The human mind needs an addiction or obsession. Instead of being obsessed with money or the things it can buy, we need to be obsessed with being godly, patient, gentle and meek. Just as too much honey is bad for us and could cause diabetes or a diseased condition, too much money reduces our dependence on God as well as our love for God and man. I once saw a bottle of honey in which a lot of ants had drowned. If the ants had remain contented with just sucking on a drop or two of honey, they would have survived but they could not resist the temptation of taking the plunge into the whole bottle and drowned. Giving money to God’s cause and other good causes is one way of both breaking and testing our attitude towards money.

Prateep V Philip

The Means of Our Comfort

UV1333/10,000 The Means of Our Comfort

Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.

2 Corinthians 1 v 4

In all the tests and troubles we encounter in life, the Holy Spirit is present with us as a gentle comforter. We receive grace to endure and to overcome so that we will in turn be able to comfort those who are suffering or who are in grief or pain. The words “ in all our tribulation” implies that the Lord is able to comfort us in every possible trial we face. He is able to console us, to encourage us and give us hope. The Word itself is a source of comfort for every conceivable trouble we could possibly face in the course of life: powerful enemies, death threats, violence, accidents, curses, sickness, misfortunes, disasters, crimes, jealousy, conspiracies, persecution and so on. Newspapers of the world are full of bad news of this kind while the Word is full of good news.

The most distressing situation we face in life is the death of a loved one. There are other types of loss in life but we can show our resilience in fighting back and wresting control of the situation. But mankind has no answer for death but in the hope of resurrection that Jesus offers all mankind. The hope that we will meet again in a joyous or glorious environment keeps us from despair. The other most debilitating situation is in the event of suffering setbacks to health. Jesus as the Balm of Gilead offers healing and deliverance to people from deadly diseases. There are other types of life challenging and life threatening situations for which we can find our help and comfort in the Lord. His grace is truly sufficient to comfort us in every loss.

Ultimately, every human being has a cross to carry in his life, a burden that he or she needs the help of the Lord and His comfort. We have the confidence that He will not test us beyond the point of our endurance. The knowledge that we are not alone in confronting a tribulation is itself most comforting. Further, knowing that there is no limit to the love as well as the power of the Lord in coming to our help gives us the courage and hope. Our faithfulness is proven when we do not just receive the comfort of the Lord but we become active instruments to convey it to others around us. The comfort we extend to others should not just be in words but in practical terms. It should be timely and effective.

Prateep V Philip

The Art of Heart Management

UV 1332/10,000 The Art of Heart Management
Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.
Proverbs 4 v 23
Heart management in the physical, emotional and spiritual sense is the vital factor of human life. Heart management requires due diligence. It requires us to study how best to live. Diligence implies paying attention to what is essential. It implies careful, regular and deep study. It means that we should be life-long learners of how to live. Just as the physical organ –the heart is the engine that powers the human body and its various organs, the emotional heart or love is at the core of human relationships. Just as love is at the core, the love of God and love for God is the spiritual heart of life. Even as we need to maintain the health of our physical hearts by our food style and life style, we need to maintain and develop our relationships. A relationship that is not carefully guarded will soon be like an overgrown ill kept garden. As St Paul wrote, “ these three things remain-faith, hope and love and the greatest of these is love.” It signifies that our heart should be filled with faith, hope and love. Together, faith, hope and love gives rise to the joy of the Lord. The joy of the Lord is our strength. What delights the Lord is what gives us strength and power. The source codes that make life tick are hidden in the human heart. It requires discernment and revelation to uncover the codes of life.

Scripture says that only a fool will trust in his own heart. It also states unequivocally that only a fool will say in his heart that there is no God. We need to look beyond ourselves at the One who cause us to be, the Creator and Redeemer. We are twice beholden to God, first, as Creator and second, as Redeemer in the person and work of Jesus Christ. We cannot rely on our own limited understanding, knowledge and constricted judgement. We need to imbibe the Word of God as a child imbibes its food from the mother’s umbilical cord. This will both sustain and enhance our spiritual heart condition. The emotional and spiritual heart of man is prone to deceit, to both deceive and to be deceived just as the physical heart is prone to various types of diseases. Just as the heart is prone to attacks or myo-cardial infraction, the emotional heart is also subject to attacks. We can have an attack of anxiety or depression or anger. The spiritual heart is prone to the disease of disbelief, cynicism and scepticism.
A good man stores or treasures a lot of good things in his heart. An evil man stores evil in his heart. The former guards his heart against evil. He stays wise and tries to get wiser and protects himself from thorns that could hurt or pain him and snares that could entrap him. A person’s mouth is the fountain spout of the heart. We get an idea of what a person has stored up in his or her heart on the basis of the words he or she speaks. A wise person does not get ensnared by the love of money for one thing. When we were young we were told to learn our lessons “ by heart” but today, we are called to live by heart. Living by heart means to keep our heart’s focus, to seek first God and give priority to His kingdom and His righteousness. It also means to keep our heart’s content: what are we thinking about and giving our time, affection and energy to?

Prateep V Philip

Monday, February 16, 2015

The Leadership Ladder

UV 1331/10,000 The Leadership Ladder

And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge;

2 Peter 1 v 5
The leadership ladder that we are called to climb is not a pyramid of positions and titles but it is the ladder of leadership qualities. In the world’s paradigm of leadership, the law that applies is that the higher the climb, the greater the fall. But As we climb the ladder of leadership qualities, God will send His angels to assist us and keep us from falling. He also has a safety net called confession and cleansing to catch us if and when we fall. A leader’s qualities are not cast in stone but are developed over a lifetime. They come from study of the Word and constant persistent application of it to our lives. The Word is our yardstick and measuring rod. We should measure our qualities against it and ask the Lord for grace to fulfil His divine standards.

Once we take the first step of faith it should be followed by diligent study of the Word in order to lead up to the next step which is virtue or character. The promises of God are given to us primarily not for meeting our physical need but to enable us to “partake in the divine nature” , to develop the character of Jesus, to learn to be humble and gentle like Him, to be virtuous. The next step is to increase in knowledge of the love of God, to know the unending dimensions of His agape love- its immeasurable length, breadth, height and depth. The next rung on to which we should climb on Jacob’s blessed ladder is self control. We should hold our desires under control. We should hold our temper under control. We should hold our emotions under control. We should hold our tongue or speech under control. These are signs of maturity and increasing grace and perfection.

The fifth step on the ladder of leadership is patience, the ability to wait with expectation, joy and gratitude for the Lord’s will to be done. A desire fulfilled is sweet to the soul but it becomes sweeter the longer we can wait to receive it. The sixth step is godliness or God-like righteousness and integrity. The seventh step is kindness to one’s fellow beings, whether above us or below us in the social pecking order. The eighth step is the final step, the highest in God’s hierarchy of values- love. Our attainment of these qualities are not achieved overnight but it is a steady progression. We don’t climb the ladder of leadership by pushing others down or by holding on to the feet of those above us. We help others also up the ladder as we climb. The leader himself often becomes a ladder for others to climb. Though the ladder looks narrow, there is room for everyone who is willing to lead and climb. The Lord never wants us to rest on any rung of the ladder but wants us to keep climbing to the next level.

Prateep V Philip

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Patience, the Quality of Demand

UV 1330/10,000 Patience, The Quality of Demand

And so, after he had patiently endured, he obtained the promise.

Hebrews 6 v 15

Many people despair when they do not find relief despite belief. But Jesus led by example. He showed us that one needs to patiently endure before the promise is fulfilled. It involves an attitude of faith and expectancy based on our understanding and belief in the revealed nature of God, that He is all powerful, that He does not lie or prevaricate, that nothing is impossible or too difficult for Him. It also involves a time of waiting- a gestation period for the seed of the promise to germinate and grow in the womb of time and space and in our hearts, minds and lives. It implies that one stops looking at one’s circumstances but takes an unrelenting stance of faith. It is preferring the promise of the unseen over the circumstances of the seen. It is about making the Word of God our only frame of reference for understanding and progressing in this world. It is about being excellent and righteous even knowing that the world is not organized around excellence or righteousness. It is about taking God at His word. It is about moving from our comfort zone to our challenge zone not knowing what awaits us there. It is about judging God faithful to His promises. It is about confessing faith and victory when circumstances would justify defeat and despair. It is about being zealous for the blessing of the Lord. It is about being fearless against overwhelming odds. It is about declining the pleasures, allurements and temptations of the world and of the flesh even when one is in a position to indulge in these with seeming impunity. It is the willingness to suffer pain and affliction for a cause.

When a person applies for a job the quality of demand of the employer is almost invariably- ability not character. They look at character only when things go awry. Patience is the quality of demand of the Lord. Patience does not come easily. It is not a quality associated with children or immature adults. It is a quality that comes with experience, endurance of a variety of trials and troubles. Like steel that is tempered at high temperatures in flames, our faith is put to the test in the course of a variety of experiences. Human employers look also for experience but the Lord looks for experiences. What are the toughest situations we have endured so far? How did we come through? Was it by our own strength or by our dependence on the strength, grace and hope the Lord gives us? The experience itself is like going through a tunnel and patience is the light at the end of the tunnel.

Patience is not just tolerance but a kind of humility that makes us realize that we can go through life only with the help of the Lord. It is an undying and indefatigable hope in the character of God, in His great love and in His Word. That kind of humility and hope enables us to wait without complaining, without being desperate or depressed. Patience is a grace the Lord gives His own to emerge triumphant out of all their struggles. All the faith giants enumerated in Hebrews chapter 11 went through a series of trials and afflictions full of hope and an assurance of victory at the end. Some did not even receive the confirmation of victory while still on earth.

Prateep V Philip

The Anchor of Hope

>UV 1329/10,000 The Anchor of Hope
Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast, and which entereth into that within the veil;

Hebrews 6 v 19

Everybody needs an anchor to lend stability to their lives in the midst of swirling waters of constant change. The best anchor for our souls is our hope in Jesus. The hope we have in Jesus gives us both a sense of joy, peace as well as security and assurance. It is not uncertain like many things in life but is certain, sure and steadfast. Everything else changes but Jesus never changes. He is consistent in His perfection and His love is steadfast. It is the rock of stability. His disciples recognized that He had the words of truth and eternal life.

It is on account of the hope we have in Christ, we can face the uncertainty of the future. It is on account of that hope that we can forget what is behind us and reach for what lies ahead of us. Hope sustains us in difficult times and circumstances. It becomes a source of encouragement and endurance. Jesus inspires hope in the most hopeless situations.

An anchor lies deep under water and it is not visible on the surface. It is strong and heavy so that currents cannot carry it. Similarly, our faith and hope need not be visible on the surface. It needs to be solid, strong and enduring. It should withstand the pulls and pressures of everyday life. A ship will be driven aground and wrecked on the rocks in heavy winds and bad weather but for the anchor that holds it in place. Similarly, our hope in Jesus holds us in place. Jonah took His eyes off God and looked at the circumstances. This caused him to err in disobeying the expressed will of God. He got swallowed by a whale. Similarly, we get swallowed in a whale of a problem when we focus on our circumstances and take our eyes off Jesus, the initiator, the stabiliser, sustainer and enhancer of our faith.

Prateep V Philip

Friday, February 13, 2015

The Greatest Love, The Greatest Lover

UV 1328/10,000 The Greatest Love, The Greatest Lover

For God so loVed the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

John 3 v 16

God loved us while we were yet unreconciled to Him. We were His enemies. But He loves us so much that He was prepared to send His only precious Son begotten like any of us of a woman to the earth to be the propitiation of blood for our faults and failings. His love is what is described in the Song of Solomon where the lover describes the intimate parts and organs including the teeth of the beloved which are “like a flock of sheep that have been freshly bathed in the river.” His love unlike most was not just an empty profession of love but a wilful and willing act of sacrifice, enduring the greatest pain and shame. The love of Jesus for His fellow human beings is the greatest love, greater than that of any lover for his beloved for He was willing to give up His precious sinless life for each of us and all of us. He is not jealous or possessive of our relationships with others but urges us to have closer bonds with our fellow beings.

God does not keep a record of our wrongs once we are committed to Him in Christ. He is not conceited or proud or resentful. He is not bitter or envious of our growth or prosperity or influence. His love, faith and hope in us never fail or fade. He does not ask the question that we so often ask, “ What’s in it for me?” He is selfless and His motive in saving us is pure. That we can live forever surrounded by His love is not just good news but the greatest news. That we need not deserve His love in any way, that we need not do anything to make us acceptable is of course incredible. He is the Valentine of our souls. He is interested and deeply concerned even in our well being both here and now as well as in eternity. He is the eternal lover everyone seeks but no one finds anywhere else.

Unlike any other love, we will not be satiated or bored with the love of Jesus. He always has a touch of mystery and mystique. He gives us many secret gifts. He does not condemn us as even our own consciences do. He never leaves us or forsakes us as He is Immanuel- God in us. Every moment with Him is a divine moment, an opportunity to know the mind of God and to reveal our deepest thoughts, concerns and desires to Him. He not only lived and died for us on the earth but shed every drop of His blood to complete the propitiation God had prepared ahead of time. Though He knows us intimately more than our spouses or our parents or closest friends, He does not find fault with us. He instead quietly prompts and prunes us in the areas where we need to change. He believes in us and expects us to be the best and do the best. He judges us unlike others not on the basis of our exterior but He sees and knows our hearts and minds as no one else does. He declares us blemishless and perfect in the sight of the Lord God. Our response is to learn more of His love and to emulate it in our lives in all our relationships. We should love the Word that cures us of our love for the world. Blessed Jesus’ Day- the one true VALENTINE.

Prateep V Philip

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Speaking to the Rocks in Our Lives

UV 1327/10,000 Speaking to the Rocks in Our Lives
The remnant of Israel shall not do iniquity, nor speak lies; neither shall a deceitful tongue be found in their mouth: for they shall feed and lie down, and none shall make them afraid
Zephaniah 3 v 13

Believers are destined not to be the majority but a remnant only. For many are called but few are chosen. We do not choose but we are chosen. Our volition is involved in our recognizing the will of God and willingly accepting it. Once we are chosen, grafted onto Israel we become c0-inheritors of the promises of God to the people of Israel. We are called to be separated from the world, distinguished more by our character than by anything else. The fear of God imposes on us a restraint and a desire not to sin wantonly or even unconsciously. When we fear God, we need not fear any man or anything on earth or in heaven. We are the sheep of His divine pasture. The Holy Spirit is the refreshing spring of water that never dries up who quenches our spiritual thirst. We will feed on the Word of God and that will give us the sense of earthly security and eternal assurance that no one can take away or affect.

God hates duplicity. He hates a deceitful tongue. Only a serpent has a forked tongue. We should not adopt the subtle or deceitful ways of the serpent and indulge in lying, flattery or mockery. Our mouths should be muzzled and our speech should pass through many filters so that it is pleasing to the Lord. The power of speech is certainly one of the greatest privileges and faculties given to man. We do not share it with any other species. The reason Moses incurred the displeasure of God in not speaking to the rock but striking it with his staff was that the Lord wanted to demonstrate the power of human speech once our hearts and minds are intimately connected with the Lord. But Moses like most human beings believed in action over words. The Lord wants us to speak to the rocks in our lives in His Name and by His power and not try to lift it or drill through it on our own feeble strength.

A rock is a symbol of something overwhelmingly heavy, something we cannot carry. It stands for the things in our lives, the intractable issues, the stubborn problems that refuse to go away. Once our speech is shorn of deceit, we have the power to speak to the rocks in our lives. As we feed on the truth of God’s Word, we will be greatly strengthened. Our lives are founded on our faith in the Rock of Ages- Jesus. We will be filled with grace even as Jesus grew full of grace and truth. The truth restricts the evil in us and around us. The grace sets us free. Our words should always reflect this fine balance of grace and truth in our lives.
Prateep V Philip

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Redemptive Knowledge Protects from Shame

UV 1326/10,000 Redemptive Knowledge Protects from Shame
But Israel shall be saved in the LORD with an everlasting salvation: ye shall not be ashamed nor confounded world without end.
Isaiah 45 v 17

Our greatest need is the need to be saved, the need for salvation, the need of everlasting life. We need to migrate to a world without end, a plane of existence where there is no more death, disease, pain, sorrow and shame. It is a deep seated need in the psyche and soul of every human being. If we stop struggling on our own strength and according to our own lights and instead rest and abide in the word of the Lord, we will indeed be saved forever. We will not be either ashamed or confused. Those who wait on the Lord or wait for the fulfilment of God’s promises will not be disappointed. Those who obey the commands of the Lord and wait for the just reward will not need to regret their lives. Most people are haunted by the secret fear that they would be put to shame if their deeds were exposed somehow.
While the Lord does not want us to be proud, egoistic, conceited or boastful, He does not want any of us to be ashamed. Worldly knowledge leads often to shame and confusion. Adam and Eve’s new knowledge of good and evil after the fall made them ashamed in the presence of the Lord. They sought to hide themselves. Personal knowledge of the Son of God Jesus redeems us from this fallen state. We will not be ashamed before God or man. We will not need to hide ourselves. We are His new creatures. We can bask in His glory and be covered by His clothes of salvation. The prodigal son while returning home was ashamed to meet his father. But the father adorned him with new clothes of salvation, with a signet ring of his authority, with new shoes to go places. The father celebrated his return. Likewise, we will be given new authority and beauty. He will enable us to go places. The son was confused about what he would do with the rest of his life. But the father clarified everything to him with his loving embrace.
The agape love of God manifested in Jesus will clarify our vision for our lives. We will discover the vision for our lives as well as the means to fulfil it. Whatever we sought before we believed and received Jesus into our hearts and lives, we sought in vain. But the Lord did not ask us to seek Him in vain. He will reveal Himself to us. His righteous word will be fulfilled. The hug and kisses with which the prodigal son was received are a symbol of acceptance and love of the Heavenly Father. The robes that the father gave his returning and repentant son were the symbol of his restoration from rags to riches, from sin to salvation. The signet ring was a symbol of power. We will have power not to be ashamed or defeated against every power of darkness on the earth. The shoes were a symbol of his new freedom and the responsibility and anointing He gives us to be His messengers, to carry His message to the rest of humanity. The fatted calf to be killed is a symbol of the Lamb of God who was slain to take away our shame and confusion. The celebration is the symbol of ever present joy that enables us to constantly thank and worship the Lord.
Prateep V Philip

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

His Name, the Sun of Our Lives

UV 1325/10,000 His Name, the Sun of Our Lives

For from the rising of the sun even unto the going down of the same my name shall be great among the Gentiles; and in every place incense shall be offered unto my name, and a pure offering: for my name shall be great among the heathen, saith the LORD of hosts.

Malachi 1 v 11

The reference to the rising of the sun to its going down is an indication that the greatness of Jehovah would be known through the gospel of Jesus from eastern most place to the western most isle and nation. It is also a promise that the greatnesss and goodness of God will be revealed every day of our lives and all through the day. The mighty sun that sustains life on earth is a symbol and manifestation of God’s greatness and glory. The name of the Lord is the sun of our lives. It gives us warmth and energy. It sheds forth light without getting depleted. The name of the Lord symbolises all that He is, all that He promises and all that He does in our lives. His name is a shorthand for glory and greatness. When we hold His name in awe and respect, we are revering God. As scripture says, “ Our help is also in the name of the God of Jacob.” The Gentiles are the “ new Jews” or we who believe and trust in the Messiah Jesus. His name is above all names. We love and esteem His name above our own names and the names of our near and dear. We esteem it greater than the greatest on earth and the greatest in history. He is the Sun of Righteousness that never sets in history or in the days of our lives. He is always shining forth with His resplendent light. His name sustains us. His name is the secret of our strength and fruitfulness. His name is the source of our power. His name is our shield and fortress. His name is our song and reason for jubilation.

Which name of God is our dearest or most cherished? Our response will show the kind of relationship we have with God. If it is Jehovah El Shaddai- we value His might and power. It implies that our faith began and continues due to a manifestation of His power in our lives. If it is Jehovah Nissi- then we value the victory He gives us in all our struggles. If it is Jehovah Rapha, we hold dearest the healing He gives us. Healing does not just mean the healing of diseases but the unburdening of our souls. If it is Jehovah Jireh, we are intimate with Him as He is our provider and we value His provision. If it is Jehovah Shalom, we treasure the peace and wholeness He brings to us. If it is Jehovah Immanuel, we deem Him greatest as He choses to indwell in us through our faith in His Son Jesus and the indwelling Holy Spirit. If it is Jehovah Rohi, we depend on Him for guidance, protection and nurturing. Of course at different times of our lives and at different times even of a single day, the greatness of each of these names is manifested.

Our prayers go up to the Lord as incense. In the book of Revelation, it is written that the prayers of the saints or those sanctified by faith in Jesus are collected in vials of different odours. Every believer lives, works and moves in the presence of the Lord. His body is God’s temple where continual worship is offered. All his words and acts are the pure, sweet smelling and acceptable sacrifice to the Lord. The Lord is jealous of our affections and worship but He is not possessive about His greatness. He freely sheds His greatness through our lives.

Prateep V Philip

Monday, February 9, 2015

More Necessary than Food

UV 1324/10,000 More Necessary than Food

Neither have I gone back from the commandment of his lips; I have esteemed the words of his mouth more than my necessary food.
Job 23 v 12
The Lord spoke the entire universe into existence by His word. There is such awesome power in His word. Realizing this we should not ever depart from the words of His lips. We need to value His Word more than our physical food. It is the spiritual equivalent of our food. It is food for the soul and spirit. It is provided freely and abundantly in the Word. When we apply the Word in our lives, we are consuming it. When we recount the Word in our minds, we are chewing it. When we feel the pleasure of His promises, we are smacking our lips at the very delight and thought of His word. When we do the will of God according to His Word, we are digesting it and appropriating all the nutrients in His Word. When we store it in our memories, we are making deposits as a reserve of strength and nutrition for the future. The Word is more necessary than food, more delightful than delicacies, more wholesome than milk and meat. It gave Job the patience, inner strength and endurance to face many disasters and afflictions. It sustained his will to live. It revived his faith and hope. It kept his relationship with God going at the worst times in his life. It helped him recover and prosper again. The Word has resurrection power and healing power in it.

We need to value the Word more than fine gold and delight in it more than the sweetest honey. The Word is both our roadmap and our compass. By ingesting the Word, we grow in strength and maturity. We will increase in knowledge, wisdom, understanding and ability. By ingesting the Word, we will come out as refined gold when we face the fiery trials of life. Our faith will be refined and purified.

The Word is our secret food. It is the secret of our success and fulfilment in life. Jesus told his disciples who wondered if He had obtained food from somewhere on one of His teaching trips, “ I have meat that you know not of.” He went on to add, “ My meat is to do the will of the One who sent me.” When we follow the paths indicated in His Word, we are doing His will. The promises of God are the spiritual milk by which we grow in faith. The commands of God are the more substantive food that constitutes our balanced diet. Obeying the commands of God is the strongest food- the meat. The meat provides the spiritual equivalent of protein- the building blocks of our life. If we do not do what the Word asks us to do, the same Word becomes our stumbling blocks by which we are judged. Without the Word, we would have been finished. With the Word, we are finished.

Prateep V Philip

Sunday, February 8, 2015

The Place of Rest

UV 1323/10,000 The Place of Rest
Thus saith the LORD, The heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool: where is the house that ye build unto me? and where is the place of my rest?
Isaiah 66 v 1

The words of the Lord bring significance and richness to our lives. His word is like the water that flows from His sanctuary. He is seated high in heaven and yet He dwells in the hearts of the repentant and humble. The earth and all in it is His footstool. Our houses and homes are His footstool. Our lives are the house we are building for Him on earth. It is the place of His rest. He has made the entire universe and the beautiful earth. Yet He looks to the man who trembles at His name and at His word to be His dwelling and tabernacle. He looks to us to build His home day by day. We should take steps to build ourselves physically, intellectually, socially, professionally and spiritually. As our knowledge of His word increases, our faith increases. As our faith increases, our intimacy with the Lord deepens.

When we revere and love His name, He rises each day like the bright morning star, the Sun of righteousness. We will rise on the wings of prayer and the word over every mountain. We receive physical, mental, emotional, familial and spiritual healing and cleansing as we bathe in His radiant presence. We should pray for health and healing not just when we fall sick but every day of our lives. Every wave of light has a high point and a low point. Similarly, our days may have many high points and low points. We should celebrate not just the high points but the low points too for He is with us even more intimately and closer in our low points.

The decisions the Lord takes on His throne are executed at His footstool- the earth, our homes, our lives. Our response as footstools of the Lord is to yield to His sovereign will. We should not have to wrestle and struggle with the Lord. Nor does He have to if we lie yielded in His arms. The words, the thoughts, the emotions, the actions, plans and reactions of our lives can disturb the Lord’s rest in our lives. Hence, we should exercise such reverence in these areas that we do not grieve the Spirit or offend the Lord in any way. The footstool is meant for the rest of the feet as well as it is a device to climb to the next level. As the Lord’s feet rest in our lives, He will enable us to climb to the next level.
Prateep V Philip

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Holding On

Holding On

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

Exodus 14 v 14

Quietness and confidence is the very strength of the believer. Conflicts may rage around us. But we will be held in the “eye not of the storm but of peace and stillness.” We need not fear the odds against us. There may be powerful giants arrayed against us but the Lord undertakes to fight on our behalf. The battle is His. The victory is ours. With the Lord on our side, one man can put to flight a 1000. He is our force multiplier. The banner over us is not just of love but of victory on account of His love. He is Jehovah El Shaddai, God Almighty and therefore He is also Jehovah Nissi, God of Victory. The Lord was with the Israelites and so their opponents could not succeed against them nor could they resist or overcome them. The Lord is not just with us but He is in us and that makes us a formidable force to contend with. His mere presence in us will guarantee victory. He will be an enemy to our enemies and oppose those who oppose us.

The Lord fought against the mighty Egyptians. He assured the Israelites fleeing from centuries of bondage- “ You shall see them no more.” He gave them a decisive victory. For victory to be established, we need to hold our peace. It implies that we should not rely on our own strategies but submit our concerns and plans to the Lord. We need to hold on to the assurance of victory the Lord has given us. We need to hold on to the peace of the Lord beyond human circumstances. We should deny every anxious thought and hold on to the Word of God as our spiritual weapon of defence and offence. We should hold on to the hope we have in Christ who overcame sin and death. He is the all-conquering hero for no one else in history accomplished what He did. We should hold on to our faith in the presence, the protection and the promises of the Lord. Holding on is the key to spiritual victory in all our battles.

Like Hezekiah, the King of Israel who when faced with the mighty army of the Assyrian King Sennacherib encouraged his people to look to the Lord alone for help. He told them “ with them is only the arm of the flesh but with us is the Lord. Greater is they that are with us than they that are with them.” The Lord sent one angel who in one night killed 185,000 of Sennacherib’s troops. Later on, Sennacherib himself was assassinated by his own two sons or his own flesh and blood. Similarly, we too need to spread out our petitions before the Lord in all the challenges we face in life. Hezekiah relied not on weapons of metal or on the strength of his army. He was prudent enough to stop the springs around Jerusalem. He fortified and built up the walls of Jerusalem. Relying on the Lord does not mean taking leave of our senses or abandoning prudence or reason but to do all that lies with us and then depend on the arm of the Lord to deliver us.

Prateep V Philip

Friday, February 6, 2015

The Better Part

UV 1321/10,000 The Better Part
And I will multiply upon you man and beast; and they shall increase and bring fruit: and I will settle you after your old estates, and will do better unto you than at your beginnings: and ye shall know that I am the LORD.
Ezekiel 36 v 11

This uni-verse is an unique and wonderful promise. It is worth far more than a billion dollars. For dollars cannot guarantee that we increase, endure and be fruitful. But herein is the Lord’s guarantee of our increase. He will sow His seed in the seed of man and of beast. He will multiply our number and our strength. He will increase the fruit of our lips, the fruit of the womb, the fruit of our labour and the fruit of the spirit. His seed is the Word of His promises and His commands. He will prosper us more than ever before. He will give us more gifts, blessings and benefits than in the first half of our lives. The reason is that at our beginnings or in the early part of our lives, our knowledge and understanding of the Lord, His character, His word and His will was very minimal or non existent. Now as we know Him more intimately and relate to Him more and more, as we communicate with Him more deeply and love Him more and more, He is able to bless us according to our increasing faith.
If we look around in nature there are a million tell-tale evidences of God’s existence, His goodness and His greatness. We have experienced a million benefits of His glory, grace and truth in our lives so far. But He will do even better in our latter days. He who has sent us the former rain will also send us the latter rain. He who sustained us this far will continue to bless us even more. He will bless our dwelling places to make it like Jacob’s two-way ladder of angels. One set of angels would carry our prayers, requests, burdens and petitions to the Lord and another would bring back His answers, His benefits and blessings. Our estates or all that we own will be blessed. Like at the marriage at Cana, the Lord will do miracles in our latter days. While earlier we relied on our own minds and experienced scarcity, misery and anxiety, we now rely on our hearts of faith in the Lord and are able to taste the better and miraculous wine that was served the second round. This is the better part of life that Mary had chosen- to be with the Lord, listen to His Word and be blessed as against the choice of her sister Martha who chose to be busy and harassed.
We shall know it is the hand of the Lord that has accomplished the things that have happened in our lives. Just as our lives are no accident, everything that has happened in our lives is for a purpose. Our faith in the Lord is the grace of knowledge that we have. It is the talisman of our success, growth and fulfilment. He is limited only by the extent of our faith. We will do well therefore to keep expanding our faith. As our faith expands, the Lord will multiply the seed of our growth, prosperity and peace. We become His bride. Our minds and hearts are the womb in which He sows. Our lives are the gardens in which He plants. While earlier we mistakenly thought we live for our own sakes, now we know we live and die for and in Him. For to live for Him and in Him is blessed and to die in Him and for Him is even more.

Prateep V Philip

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Active Leadership of the Lord

UV 1320/10,000 Active Leadership of the Lord
I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with mine eye.
Psalm 32 v 8
Very often in life we take this promise of the Lord for granted and approach Him only when we have messed up on our own, relying on our own native intelligence and knowledge. In matters of knowledge, experiments are more apt. In matters of faith and human life, experience is far more significant. So much is given to the domain of human knowledge and understanding and the rest is all the domain of faith and revelation. A good part of our lives rest in the latter domain. This is the kingdom of God. It intersects every day with our lives. We should actively seek instruction at the feet of the Lord. We should learn for He promises to teach us the way we should go every day of our lives. He will guide us with His caring eye upon us. As we err and fall, His eye will tell us to pick ourselves up and walk again.

Only God knows the totality of our past, our present and future. He factors all of that into every direction He gives us. He knows our strengths, weaknesses and desires. He knows our opportunities and threats. We should follow only God as our one true and trustworthy leader. He is the visionary who gives sight to the blind following Him. Even the ablest and best of human leaders are blind. They do not know the shape of the future. As Peter Drucker said, “ The only things we know about the future that we know is that it will be different.” By definition God is the only true leader for humanity. A leader gives directional instruction while a manager gives instructional directions. A leader tells us and shows us the direction in which we should go while a manager gives us the instructions we should follow while on the way.

The Lord is real, active and practical. He wants to engage with our lives in active, practical and real ways. He instructs us from His word. We need to listen to His Word, meditate on it to understand and apply it to our lives in every possible way. We need to value it more than silver or gold. We need to store it in our hearts like treasure. We need to make it our roadmap and the compass of our lives. The eye the Lord keeps on us is the eye of protection, guidance, care and love. We need to be spiritually sensitive to pick up the signals from His eye movements.

Prateep V Philip

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

The Rules of the Race

UV 1319/10,000 The Rules of the Race

Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,

Hebrews 12 v 1

We are encouraged by the stories of faith and the testimony of a large number of people in the course of our lives. The witness of the faithful is like a rain-bearing cloud. It will water the root of faith even if it is growing in dry ground. We should study the lives of Biblical personalities like Moses, Joshua, David, Peter, John, Paul as well as contemporary heroes of faith. We should understand the depth of their faith and how they overcame the great obstacles, barriers and difficulties that they endured and overcame. We should avoid their errors and wrong choices. Their faith, example and teachings leave us a spiritual compass that will guide us in the direction in which we should move every day of our lives. Our faith should be so edified or built up on solid foundations to enable us to cast aside everything that weighs down on our minds and hearts. We should also throw away every vestige of sin and temptation that so easily contaminates our faith. We should focus on Jesus who is the one who began our faith. He is faithful and will enable us to complete our race of faith.

There is a different kind of race set for each believer. The circumstances are unique and different for everyone. What is common is the need for patience, stamina and endurance and the focus on Jesus who is watching us run and sending us present help. His angels are hovering overhead to clear the obstacles and barriers in our way. A runner needs strength from within. The Holy Spirit is encouraging us to keep moving ahead. He helps us and strengthens us from within. The race is non competitive. Our competition is not with each other. If anything we should strive to do better than ourselves in all that we do, speak and think. Our struggle is with the enemy of our souls and the obstacles he brings in our paths. The Word of God sets the rules for the race. Every winner or finisher of the race receives an eternal reward.
The race of faith is not run huffing and puffing. We are in it for the long haul. Every day is a step closer to the finishing line. The finishing line coincides with our last breath. We are therefore to be mentally prepared to remain in the race lifelong. We are to prepare ourselves by daily casting down anything that weighs us down. The Lord wants us to run unhindered and full of the joy of the Holy Spirit. We should not look at our circumstances but at the reward that is waiting us in eternity. Our lives are a long distance race. Speed is not what is needed but the will to plod on slowly but surely and steadfastly. The hope that sustains us every day is that of being rewarded and hearing the words of the Master of the human race, Jesus, “ Well done, you good and faithful athlete. You have run the race. You have fought the good fight.”

Prateep V Philip

Escape from the Snares

UV 1318/10,000 Escape from the Snares
Our soul is escaped as a bird out of the snare of the fowlers: the snare is broken, and we are escaped.
Psalm 124 v 7

A pregnant deer was about to give birth in a forest. She found a remote field near a strong-flowing river. It seemed to be a safe place to deliver its young. Suddenly, labour pains began. At the same moment, dark clouds gathered around in the sky and lightning started a forest fire. She looked to her left and saw a hunter with an extended bow aimed at her. To her right, she spotted a hungry lion prowling to strike her down and make her its prey. The pregnant deer could do nothing. She was in labour. What would happen? Will the deer survive? Would she give birth to a fawn and would that fawn survive? Or will everything be burnt down by the raging fire. Would she perish to the hunter’s arrow or die a horrible death at the hands of the hungry lion? She is constrained by the fire on one side and the flowing river on the other and boxed in by predators. She just focussed on giving birth to a new life. But the lightning struck and blinded the hunter who released the arrow which zipped past the deer and struck the lion. It started to rain heavily, and the forest fire was slowly doused by the rain. The deed gave birth to a healthy fawn.

When I faced the bomb blast at Sriperumbudur, I faced a similar situation. Like the deer nothing I did could have saved me physically or professionally. I survived the blast by His grace but human enquiries awaited me. I escaped us a bird out of the snare of the fowlers. The snare was broken and I escaped. Indeed, escape from death comes from the Lord. Often, our thoughts are so powerful and these overcome us and overwhelm us. The priority of the deer was to focus on its task of giving birth to a fawn. Our hope and focus should be only on the Lord, the author and finisher of our faith. He neither slumbers nor sleeps. He watches over us day and night. In the midst of any storm or challenge, we only need to always leave it to the Lord. He will never disappoint us or forsake us.

Those who attack us will be caused to flee. The roaring or the prowling lion will be caused to flee. The hunter’s arrow or his snare will not entrap us. For He is like a wall of fire around us. Our help is in the name of the Lord. He will not let us become a prey as we pray for His protection. He surrounds us on all sides like a shield, like the mountains surround Jerusalem. The enemy is a hunter of human souls. He lays many kinds of wily traps for us. But the Lord will enable us to escape all of them and enable us to reach our ultimate destination- the bosom of the Lord.

Prateep V Philip

Monday, February 2, 2015

Being a Good Conductor of the Lord

UV 1317/10,000 Being a Good Conductor of the Lord
I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot.

Revelation 3 v 15
God expects us to either reject Him outright or be zealous and enthusiastic for Him. He cannot stand those who are neither here nor there, who are noncommittal and lethargic in their faith and its expression. He cannot be second place in our order of priorities. He expects us to be good conductors of His holiness, His Word, His presence, His blessings, His visions, His teachings. We are to be good conductors of the sanctification that comes from the blood of Jesus.

Our works of faith will reveal whether we are good conductors for the Lord. When we conduct the heat of God’s word, even our enemies and barriers will melt like melt in His presence. When we carry God’s word in our hearts, we are literally carrying God in our hearts. When we conduct the promises of God, we are conveying the blessings, power and grace of the Lord. When we are whole hearted in our love and commitment to the Lord, we are declared good conductors. We are the equivalent of precious metals for the Lord- like gold and platinum in human economy. We are “cold” either when we do not believe the Word or when we believe but do not obey. Our conduct should be aligned with the precepts that the Lord has taught us.

We are good conductors for the Lord when we are witnesses, in all that we say and do, of His love, mercy and grace. We are good conductors when we are filled with the Holy Spirit and are guided by Him in all our decisions, actions and reactions. A good conductor should have a high melting point in order to avoid melting while conducting the high levels of heat to which it is subjected. Similarly, our faith, endurance and persistence should be of a high order so that we overcome the difficulties and challenges we face in life. Our love for God and others should not decline over time but it should grow in all knowledge and judgement. Good conductors are also malleable. We should not at the same time be rigid and judgemental but be flexible so that the Lord can shape up as He wills and wishes. We should not struggle or wrestle against God or resist His move in our lives.

Prateep V Philip

Sunday, February 1, 2015

The House of the Lord

UV 1316/10,000 The House of the Lord
That thine eyes may be open upon this house day and night, upon the place whereof thou hast said that thou wouldest put thy name there; to hearken unto the prayer which thy servant prayeth toward this place.
2 Chronicles 6 v 20
King Solomon in his God-given wisdom saw himself not as a mighty king but as a humble servant before the Lord. He thanked God for the privilege He gave him to build a habitation, a temple in Jerusalem for the Lord. He prayed for the consecration of the temple as the dwelling place of the Lord. He knew that the petitions of the people of Israel would be heard here. Solomon pleaded for the continual presence of the Lord in the temple. The dispensation for the Jews stopped with the temple of God in Jerusalem but the coming of Jesus shifted the place that housed the presence of God to our own hearts, bodies and hearths.
Jesus, by allowing His body to be broken and turned into a bridge connecting God and man, has turned our bodies and our houses as the temple of God. The Lord God has His eyes upon each of our houses. Jesus is part of our families and He is the head of the house. God is so big that He cannot be contained in heaven and earth. Yet He condescends to dwell with us. He puts His name on the place where we live as a mark of ownership and as a sign of His presence and protection. Where His presence is, His angels also dwell and continually rejoice and worship Him. Our homes are Mount Zion and Jerusalem for the Lord. It is His habitation. His eyes are upon our walls. Walls do not have ears but He inclines His ears towards us to hear our prayers.

Our homes and hearts are consecrated and sanctified to be the tabernacle of the Lord. The sacred fire that burns in the temple is replaced by the fire of the Holy Spirit burning in our hearts. Our inner thoughts become prayers and praise in the ears of the Lord. As we make it a habit to hear His word and continually pray and praise Him, He inhabits our praises and makes our house a place of safety, a place of comfort, a place of joy, a place of provision, a place of worship, a place of supplication. He will show Himself strong on our behalf as we hold our hearts perfect towards Him.

Prateep V Philip

The Umbilical Cord Concept

UV 1315/10,000 The Umbilical Cord Concept

I was cast upon thee from the womb: thou art my God from my mother's belly.

Psalm 22 v 10

In a time of prayer, the Lord said, “ I am your umbilical cord.” It means that He is the One who sustained us from the beginning. He supplies all that we need like an umbilical cord. Our personal relationship with our Creator is our permanent umbilical cord. We are formed in the mother’s womb by His amazing grace, love and power. We are cast upon Him from the womb. Every organ is carefully formed and knit together. All our organs are written in His book. He has made us fearfully and wonderfully. He is our God from our mother’s womb. He will undertake for us all our days till our tombs and even beyond. Before we knew Him, He formed us, knew us and loved us. He has done wonderful acts in our lives this far and promises to sustain us with even more in the rest of our earthly sojourn. Our “belly buttons” are the vestige of the umbilical cord but the sign of our divine cord is the cross that connects us with God. Just as the cross of Jesus is the bridge between God and humanity, the umbilical cord is the bridge between the mother’s body and the child.

Even the umbilical cord that connects us with our mothers is cut at the time of birth. It is the first event that happens on our birth. But our umbilical cord with the Lord is never cut. We are always intimately connected with Him. He gives us intellectual, emotional, spiritual nourishment all the time. He knows all that we have gone through as no one else knows- not even our mother. He has seen us before our mothers ever set their eyes on us. He knows all the days we have lived so far and are to live. He knows every thought that emanates from our minds and every word that rises from our lips. Our intimacy with God needs to be even closer than our relationship with our parents and other nearest and dearest. Since we are cast upon the Lord as His creation and responsibility from the womb, when we are pained, burdened, worried, anxious or fearful, all we need to do is to cast ourselves upon the Lord.

The Lord is the one who carries us from the womb. He cares for us into our old age. He is the one who separated us from our mothers’ wombs. He is the one who sanctifies us. He supplies us strength to live, to grow, to increase in stature, wisdom, knowledge, grace and to overcome. Even our mothers might forsake us or in the course of time leave us. But the Lord will never leave us nor forsake us. Sometimes the umbilical cord gets twisted around the neck of the child and the child suffocates. But the Lord’s umbilical cord will never be a hazard for us but be an eternal source of blessing and sustenance. The cord that connects us with the Lord never gets cut but gets stronger with time and circumstance. Our dependence on our mothers will cease but our dependence on the Lord will increase with time and experience. The nourishment that our spirits and souls need are supplied through this conduit in the form of the Word of God.

Prateep V Philip