Thursday, April 30, 2015

The Yield of Fruit

UV 1399/10,000 The Yield of Fruit
And the tree of the field shall yield her fruit, and the earth shall yield her increase, and they shall be safe in their land, and shall know that I am the LORD, when I have broken the bands of their yoke, and delivered them out of the hand of those that served themselves of them.
Ezekiel 34 v 27

We are trees of righteousness in this world planted by the Lord. We are not created for our own pleasure or happiness but the pleasure and joy of the planter. We are expected to bear fruit, good fruit and much fruit in the course of our lives. The trees or plants do not struggle or run away from its planter or the farmer. Jacob’s misguided zest for blessings caused him to struggle with God when all he had to do was to yield to Him, to be still and know that He is the Lord. A tree remains rooted where it is planted. It does not fight the will of the farmer but yields to the farmer’s will or plan for it. If we yield our wills and our lives to the Lord, He will increase our yield and break our yoke- the bands of curses, disease, sin, defeat and death. If we abide in Christ and His words abide in us, we will bear fruit and much fruit. A fruit tree is defined by the fruit it bears. Similarly, we are defined by the qualities of the Creator that we reflect in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, humility, self control and wisdom. A lone pineapple has been growing in our garden for the past many months. It is not yet ready or ripe for plucking. We can imagine the many types of minerals and nutrients and processes that are going on simultaneously and quietly within the pineapple to make it just right. We need to be similarly patient with ourselves, God and others. Often, we tend to look for fruit prematurely. Our impatience distorts the processes of fruitfulness. The Holy Spirit can turn a single tree of righteousness into a garden and a garden into a forest, implying that thousands would be saved by the work even in one life.

Somebody defined a fruit as a mechanism of seed dispersal. Our fruit is meant not for our own consumption or enjoyment but it is meant for others so that their lives are better off for it. Our fruit should disperse the seed of truth and righteousness. A young plant needs a fencing so that cattle or predators do not eat it up or crush it by the sheer weight of their feet. The Lord places a fencing around His children so that we will be safe in the land. The means He provides for our safety or security are ways of knowing that He is the Lord.

The anointing of the Spirit breaks the yoke of bondage that binds us to this world. It enables us to live as pilgrims and strangers on earth. The Lord breaks the bands of our yoke. He delivers us out of the hands of the wicked, the deceitful and the oppressive. We will realize through our many experiences in real life that the Lord alone is absolute in holiness, justice and love. He is the Great I Am. The absolute cannot be defined, refined or defied. The ultimate, indefinable, undefiable and absolute defined Himself in an indefinable way, " I am who I am." God defines Himself by who He is to the crown of His creation- mankind. Evolution or growth with change comes into play only after creation. We need to evolve towards the standards and character of the indefinable and absolute. The process of such growth is the measure of our fruitfulness. The lone pineapple growing in our garden has the glow of many hues at its base and around even as it is growing. If we are not glowing, we are not growing. We need to glow with the grace of the Lord. The anointing of the Lord produces a glow on our faces, hope in our hearts and strength of faith in our minds. As we meditate daily on the absolute attributes of the Lord, it rubs off on us a glow or radiance. The Hobson’s choice before mankind is yield or yoke- yield to the Lord and lose our yoke, struggle and bear the heavy yoke on our frail shoulders. The benefits we derive from being yoked to the Lord is that we will yield fruit increasingly and our yoke of bondage is broken. In addition, we are given safety or security as we grow and yield.

Prateep V Philip

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

The Clothes of Salvation

UV 1398/10,000 The Clothes of Salvation
And he saith unto him, Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment? And he was speechless.
Matthew 22 v 12
A person should be dressed befitting one’s station in life as well as the occasion. One cannot go to a wedding feast dressed as if for a funeral. One needs to wear the proper inner attitudes. Our attitudes are our inner clothing. Our actions and reactions flow from the spring of our attitudes. The Lord wants us to be dressed in the clothes of salvation when we attend the Lamb’s wedding feast. The “Lamb” is a metaphor for Jesus, His beloved Son and the feast is the celebration of the union of Christ and the church, His bride.

Naked we came into this world but we cannot enter the kingdom of God in the nakedness of our being. We need to be clothed in the clothes of salvation- the robes of righteousness, the shirt of faith, the belt of truth, the shoes of the readiness to go places for the Lord, the signet ring of authority over sin, death and disease on our finger, the spirit of joy, thanksgiving and continual worship. We cannot go dressed as a beggar. We need to carry gifts of what we have done with what the Lord has placed in us and with us. More is expected from him to whom more has been given.

The truth of this uni-verse is that we cannot take lightly the salvation purchased for us at such a heavy price. We cannot treat with contempt the gifts of God. We need to give of our best to the Lord in all that we are and all that we do. Our wedding garments should exude a sense of everlasting joy. We cannot carry in us bitterness and the spirit of iniquity. Our faith should not have gaping holes in it or be a patchwork of our beliefs. It is not as if these clothes are what got us invited to the feast of the Lord but having been invited, it is a sign of our appreciation and gratitude for the invitation we received. We need to increasingly live up to the expectations the Lord has for each of us. Our faith should be proven by our faithfulness in our daily walk with the Lord. A lifestyle befitting our eternal destiny clothes us with joy and power. Our beliefs should be manifest in our actions, attitudes and behaviour.

Prateep V Philip

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

The Decisive Favour of God

UV 1397/10,000 The Decisive Favour of God

He will keep the feet of his saints, and the wicked shall be silent in darkness; for by strength shall no man prevail.

I Samuel 2 v 9

The Lord will keep the feet of believers from stumbling. He will deliver us from our own blunders and follies. He will preserve the lives of those who fear God. He will not cause us to suffer beyond what we can endure. He takes us from the dunghill, meaning when we had no prestige or position or resources or honour and places us with princes of His people, implying those who are esteemed, influential and resourceful in the eyes of the Lord. He will enlarge our territory. We will obtain divine guidance, provision and help. We are contented with what God has given us. We do not aspire for things that are too great or ambitious for us. This is what I call decisive favour or grace. But He will not hear the prayers or groaning of the deliberately malicious and wicked, those who chose to ignore Him. Such people delight in their own strength, power, wealth, wisdom, influence.

Knowing the Lord is the most strategic and valuable strength. The Lord Himself is our bulwark or source of strength. In the eyes of the world, we might not be people of great influence or strength. The world respects strength of any kind, be it physical, intellectual or financial. The talented, the charismatic and successful are adored. But this uni-verse says that these are of no avail. By virtue of strength, position, resources or wisdom and knowledge, no man can prevail. What prevails is the sovereign will of God. As long as we align our paths and our feet with the will of God, He will guarantee us victory and blessings of every kind. David knew the Lord personally from his days as a youth and a shepherd. As a result, Goliath’s strength which was much greater than David’s could not prevail. The favour of God was with David from the time he was chosen and anointed by Samuel on the leading of the Holy Spirit. The favour of God has a decisive impact on our lives, too. Jim Rohn said that “ change is inevitable but growth is intentional.” I would like to add that growth is God-intended.

Scripture says that let the rich man not boast of his riches, nor the strong man of his strength or the wise man in his wisdom but let him who would find strength in a personal relationship with the Lord, legitimately claim that He knows the Lord. When we know the Lord and His Word, He will surely but gradually bless us, increase us, enlarge our influence. Our passions are misdirected if it is spent in seeking riches, power, fame, success or pleasure. Our passion should be focussed on the locus of life- the Lord and giver of life. He exalts the horn of His anointed, implying that He lifts them up. The “ horn” stands for strength and power that is God-inspired. It is a cornucopia or a bouquet of different blessings as we have the favour of the Lord. Samuel grew in favour with God and men. Yet a child, God anointed him and called him by name. The Lord calls those who belong to Him by name and has a conversation and an ongoing relationship with us. He builds us up not by might or power but by His spirit. The sons of Eli relied on their own flesh and blood and its appetites. They did not know or fear God even though they were sons of the priest Eli. Our high or low birth or status in society does not ensure we have the favour of God. He is no respector of persons and He only sees our hearts, our inner attitudes towards Him.

Prateep V Philip

Monday, April 27, 2015

The Wings of Protection

UV 1396/10,000 The Wings of Protection

Thou art my hiding place and my shield: I hope in thy word.

Psalm 119 v 114

Every fighter needs a hiding place where he can take rest, find time for sleep, food and recouping his energy. A hiding place is a place of strategic retreat. In my childhood imagination, I used to think of a kingdom in the basement of our house where I could go and hide. For years afterwards I played hide and seek as most of us do with God. I did not seek Him while He sought me out in different ways. But as an adult, I have realized that the Lord is truly my hiding place, my refuge in times of trouble as well as in normal times when I need to be alone with Him. He preserves us from trouble caused by our own folly or wrong choices. He is a mighty fortress. A hiding place needs to be secretive, not known to others. It should be secure and safe. The Lord hides us from secret weapons and threats that we do not even sense or know of. He covers our backs literally. He is not the hiding place of cowards but of the brave. The patriarchs of faith like Abraham, Isaac and Jacob did not flee from fight. Abraham chased a local chief who had taken away men of his entourage. He was victorious and he restored the booty of the king of Sodom that was looted. Joshua fought with 31 kings before he wrested Canaan, the promised land. We too have our battles. As Jehovah Nissi, the Lord promises us victory in our battles. The Word inspires immediate and ultimate victory in our personal struggles and battles.

As we yield to the Lord, He becomes our shield. When we hide in the Lord, He gives us deliverance. This is the reason the Psalmist says that the Lord has surrounded him with songs of deliverance. When the Israelites were delivered from the mighty Egyptian army during the crossing of the Red Sea, a great joy arose spontaneously in their hearts. Two great songs of deliverance are recorded in scripture extolling the Lord, one of Moses and the other of his sister Miriam. When we are saved from the enemy of our soul, from eternal death, the greatest song- the song of the Lamb of God is sung. The song of deliverance that I wrote which runs for 26 minutes is called the “Great I Am.”

We hide the Word in our hearts not only so that it keeps us from sin but in order that we can claim the promises, heed the warnings and obey the commandments of the Lord. When we persistently hope in the Word, the power and grace of God is released in our lives. The Word is like a shelter in a storm, a river in the dry periods or deserts of our lives. He is the great rock in a weary land. The weary land is the earth. When we hide in Him, we are renewed in hope, blessings and strength. We hide in the Lord not only for protection from mortal dangers or spiritual threats but in order to revive our spirits, to be re-energised so that we can fly on the wings of prayer and the Word like an eagle. No serpent of great cunning like satan can harm an eagle. An eagle is a symbol of strength from its beak to its feathers and talons. Jesus used the opposite image too of a hen that hides its chicken under its wings to protect them from the predatory eagle. Similarly, we are greatly protected, strengthened and encouraged under the wings of the Word and prayer. Our hope in God’s Word makes us buoyant and joyful. Sometimes, we hide in shame from the world. The psalmist says that “ He is my glory and the lifter of my head.” Under His wings,we will find grace and glory. When we hide in Him, He brings us to a place of honour and glory.

Prateep V Philip

Sunday, April 26, 2015

The Double Portion

UV 1395/10,000 The Double Portion
Turn you to the strong hold, ye prisoners of hope: even to day do I declare that I will render double unto thee;

Zechariah 9 v 12

A prisoner normally does not have much hope. He lives under condemnation and shame. He has neither blessing or liberty. But the words “prisoner of hope” is a kind of oxymoron, a paradox. We should always surround ourselves in the hope we have in Jesus to overcome death, disease, curses, captivities, limitations and bondages of life. Walls of hope surround us all the time on four sides. The bars of the windows are crosses where the horizontal bars represent blessings of this lifetime and the vertical bars represent the blessings of eternal life. The horizontal bars also represents the minus sign that cancels all our curses and deficiencies. The vertical bar represents the blessings that come down from the Lord. Both types of blessings or the double portion- earthly and eternal begin here and now and continue forever. We should be encaged by our faith. The stronghold is the Lord Himself. When we turn to Him and lean on Him heavily, He will feed our hope. He will set us free from all that imprisons, constrains, restricts us. He will remove the blocks, the barriers, the hindrances to our blessings. We shall know Him who is truth and the truth shall set us free from our fears, doubts, bondages, captivities, strongholds and limitations. He will give us the former rain and the latter rain. The former rain are the blessings that we enjoyed this far. The latter rain is a double portion of those blessings.

As we place our whole-hearted hope and fix our single-minded gaze upon His grace, He will renew us. He is like a mountain around us. He will send showers of blessing but when He sends a shower of blessing we should not hold up an umbrella. We should listen earnestly to His voice, the whisper of the Holy Spirit in our ears. We should diligently study His Word and hasten to obey it fully. He promises to set us high above all nations of the earth. We will be blessed in the city and in the country. Our children will be blessed. Our bodies will be blessed. Even what we own in terms of pets or plants or land or house will be blessed. Our food and our store will be blessed. We will be blessed when we come in and blessed when we go out. Our enemies who rise up against us will attack us in one direction but flee in seven directions. None of their weapons or accusations will prosper against us. He will bless us in the land He has given us. He will establish the work of our hands. He will bless us in all that we set our hands to. We shall lend and not borrow. We shall be the head and not the tail. We shall be above and not beneath. Moreover, we will be protected and delivered from every curse and threat.

The only pre-condition to receiving the double portion of the above blessings is that we should not turn to the left or the right. We should not get distracted by worry or fear or doubt or attracted by the things advocated by others or human tradition or human knowledge and wisdom. We should be sensitive in following the promptings of the Holy Spirit and steadfast in pinning our hope on the promises of God and in delighting in obeying His commands and directions. The words “ even today” implies that this is a promise for the present and not the distant future. A double portion of these blessings are at hand, waiting to come upon us and overtake us. We need to doubly focus and remain faithful.

Prateep V Philip

Quality-Benefit Analysis

UV 1394/10,000 Quality-Benefit Analysis
He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God;
Romans 4 v 20

When we look to the promise of God with faith, we become spiritually strengthened. When we listen to the Word of God, we are greatly strengthened in the inner man. The Word supplies all the nutrients that our faith needs. Abraham believed the promise of God that he would be the father of nations. He did not doubt the promise. He did not waver or disbelieve God or think that it is difficult for God to fulfil His promise. He gave glory to God ahead of time, even before he saw the confirmation of the promise that Sarah, his wife who had passed the age of child bearing, would bear him a son. Abraham did not stagger but he took firm steps based on the promises he received from God. He took a firm step to leave his native place in Ur to faraway Canaan based on the promise of God to him that He would bless him and make him a blessing. Step by step, Abraham appropriated various blessings of the Lord. He did not allow doubt or hesitation or fear to become a stumbling block or barrier in his relationship with the Lord.

When we praise the Lord, saying every single day, “ Blessing, honour, glory, power, thanksgiving, riches and wisdom be unto our Lord”, our faith is strengthened. Our mouths should only utter words of positive confession of faith and not doubt, fear or weakness. Our thoughts too must echo the greatness and goodness of the Lord. We should persist in prayer and the Lord will reward our persistence. The Lord asked us in a time of prayer to “write and pray.” When we write our prayer requests, it becomes a record to strengthen our faith when the prayer is answered and the promise is fulfilled. In business and economics, people do “cost-benefit analysis” to justify a particular decision or plan. In matters of faith, we need to do “quality –benefit analysis.” The cost has been fully paid by the perfect offering of Jesus. It is no longer a factor but something we should be thankful for. If we exercise a good quality of our faith, then we would see or reap the benefits. The promises of God contain a variety of benefits or blessings for our spirit, minds and bodies. The quality of our faith and our response to these promises will determine the type of benefit and the extent to which we receive it.

Moses did not demonstrate as much faith as Abraham. When the Lord told Moses that he had heard the complaints of the people that they had only eaten manna and had not eaten meat, that He would ensure they ate meat for a whole month, Moses said that even if He would kill all the cattle or gather the fish of the sea, it was not sufficient to do so. He did not think it was possible to feed 600,000 men, women and children with meat for a whole month. But time and again, God proved that nothing was impossible or too difficult for Him. The Lord said, “ Do you think that my arm is too short?” The Lord’s arm is sufficient and able to do all that He has promised us. He is challenged only by our lack of faith, our negative thoughts and words. Repeatedly, He exhorted the leaders of Israel like Joshua to be strong in their faith, not to entertain doubts about the willingness or ability of God to fulfil His promises. Praising and thanking God before time or before we see or experience the fulfilment of His promises paves the way for the Lord to act.

Prateep V Philip

Friday, April 24, 2015

Five Mountain Top Experiences

UV 1393/10,000 Five Mountain Top Experiences
And I will encamp about mine house because of the army, because of him that passeth by, and because of him that returneth: and no oppressor shall pass through them any more: for now have I seen with mine eyes.

Zechariah 9 v 8

The Lord promises to encamp about our house when we dedicate it to Him, when we dedicate ourselves to Him. He Himself stands as a guard and an army of His angels encamp around us. The enemy may attack in one direction either on our peace of mind, our health, our finances or our well being but he will be scattered in seven directions. It could be a new threat or an old threat returning to put us at risk. Anyone who attempts to attack us, touches the apple of the eye of the Lord. But the Lord thwarts all the designs and threats. No oppressive spirit shall pass through us any more.

We will have five mountain top experiences as the Lord dwells in our midst. He erects walls of fire around us and His glory is in our midst. He is represented by Mount Zion. He who trusts in the Lord is like Mount Zion. As we are joined to Mount Zion, we cannot be shaken. Our faith cannot be shaken. We cannot be defeated. He is Mount Tabor. As we pray and spend time in His presence, we have the experience of transfiguration or transformation. He is Mount Horeb. We have the experience of Moses’ Mount Horeb where the bush caught fire in the presence of the Lord but the bush did not burn or get consumed by the fire. Mount Horeb is also called Mount Sinai where Moses received the tablets with the ten commandments of the Lord. It implies that we learn the Word and will of God and are anointed and blessed in fourteen different ways described in Deuteronomy chapter 28. We have the experience of Mount Moriah where the Lord will provide the sacrifice of the lamb for our sanctification and blessing. The Mount Moriah experience implies that the Lord will manifest Himself as Jehovah Jireh, the provider of abundance. We have the experience of Calvary where our sins that are like scarlet and crimson shall be washed white as snow and we receive salvation, the penalty of our shortcomings or “hamartia” is paid and we are fulfilled, completed, finished and perfected in Christ.

The words in the uni-verse, “ for now I have seen with my eyes” implies that we are eye witnesses of real time events of deliverance, provision, blessings, salvation and victory in our lives. It is not a mere figment of someone’s imagination but is experienced in the course of our lives here and now. Before each mountain top experience, we descend into a valley or a depression. The deeper the valley, the greater the mountain. During these valley times, instead of being depressed or oppressed we must look forward to the victory and joy we will have on the mountain tops of our lives in the future. We should also look back to the many mountain top experiences we had with the Lord in the past. We need to remember these “blasts” from the past. I was literally in a blast where I caught fire like the bush on Mount Sinai but did not burn or get devastated. Today, I am alive to testify to the goodness and greatness of God in all of our valley and mountain top experiences. He does not wait to receive us at the end of the journey on earth but He travels with us.

Prateep V Philip

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Rejoice in the Lord Always

UV 1392/10,000 Rejoice in the Lord Always

The voice of rejoicing and salvation is in the tabernacles of the righteous: the right hand of the LORD doeth valiantly.
Psalm 118 v 15
The Lord does not want us to show a Pavlovian response of rodents- when something good happens we rejoice, when something negative happens, we mourn, complain, murmur. We should not be like the widowed inconsolable Naomi always moaning that we have become “Marah” as she thought that she was the one who has been emptied of blessing of the Lord and was “Marah” or bitter. She was referring to the place where the Israelites found bitter water that could not quench their thirst in their journey to Israel. They murmured against God at Marah and He heard them. We should not be like Esau who wept when he learnt that Isaac had already blessed the younger son Jacob, “Father, father , bless me.” The voice of mourning, complaining, murmuring and whining should not be in our houses. Instead, we should always rejoice in the strength of the Lord. We should rejoice in the presence of the Lord. We should rejoice that He has permanently defeated our powerful enemies –sin, death, curses and disease with the blood of Jesus. We should rejoice in our salvation. Salvation is a 360 degree experience and every day and every degree of our lives’ movements, we have reason to rejoice and celebrate. We should rejoice with praise and in glorifying the Lord, saying all the time in our hearts, “Salvation, glory, honour, power, riches, wisdom unto the Lord our God.” We should rejoice in the promises of God and thereby obtain gladness and joy. We should believe they have already been fulfilled and praise God for it. We should remember the promises often and always say with joy, “Amen, amen, Lord Amen.” Jesus is referred to in the book of Revelation as Lord Amen or as the One who causes our prayers to be heard, the One who causes miracles, the One who blesses and causes us to be a channel of blessing to others so that others can rejoice and praise God, the One who performs every one of His promises.

Praise is suitable for the upright. Unless we are upright or living in the integrity of our faith, our praise or adoration will not be acceptable to the Lord. But when we are upright and walking in integrity, our praise and worship are not just acceptable but pleasing to the Lord. We rejoice because we trust in the Lord. He is our hiding place. He fills our hearts with songs of deliverance. He deals with our fears. He turns our bitterness away. The memory of our past losses are wiped away.
The hands of “Zerubabbel”, a type of Jesus and therefore standing for Jesus, has laid the foundation of our tabernacles of righteousness. He is the one who has laid our foundation of faith and of our righteousness. Our homes are the residence of the Lord. He resides in us and with us. Our bodies are His temple. The right hand or the strong arm of the Lord Jehovah Nissi will always act on our behalf to protect us, to deliver us, to provide for us, to bless us, to give us victory. He is the One who is building and re-building us. He is the One who finishes us or completes our faith and our work. He is not like the coach who stands on the sidelines and urges us on. He runs alongside us till the finishing line. The plumbline of Zerubabbel that enables us to build in straight lines and angles the walls of our lives is the Word of God. He will enable us to act valiantly and overcome the challenges of our lives. Every testimony of victory, our own as well as that of others, will cause us to exult in the Lord. When we rejoice in the Lord, He will turn our “Marah” into Elim, an oasis of abundance with eternal springs of heaven and flourishing palm trees that yield dates rich in iron and nutrients. Elim was a place on the route of the Jewish people on the way to Canaan where there were twelve wells and seventy palms. When we moan, complain and murmur we eliminate Elim from our lives. The Lord will turn our roots of joy into routes to Elim.

Prateep V Philip

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

The Sick Bed and the Death Bed

UV 1391/10,000 The Sick Bed and the Death Bed
The LORD will strengthen him upon the bed of languishing: thou wilt make all his bed in his sickness.
Psalm 41 v 3

The Lord will remove the “sick bed” and the “death bed” from our house according to His words of promise contained in this uni-verse. There are times when all of us, even the healthiest fall sick. At those times, He promises to strengthen us and to heal us. He will make us whole again. He is Jehovah Rapha, the Healer. God’s love is unconditional but His promises are conditional. The promises in Psalm 41 depends on our obedience in showing regard for the weak. When we show regard for the weak, then the Lord will deliver us in times of trouble when peace of mind, health, well being and success are driven away from us. He will bless us in our land and not surrender us to the desire or design of our foes. When we are on a “sick bed”, he will sustain us and restore us.

Last week when I got a LPG subsidy for the first time in my life and was informed through a electronic message from the bank, I decided I did not need it. Instead I should give it away, meet a little need, spread a little goodness in a world where human heads are being cruelly chopped off like chicken heads. It was given to the lowest paid in my office. Yesterday, again when I got an intimation of a second subsidy credit, I asked one of my officers to find the poorest and neediest person near our office. It does not take much investigation to find the needy in our immediate environs. He brought a woman who had lost all her fingers to leprosy and had a daughter to support. Indeed, whatsoever and however little, like my little act of giving away a subsidy I never needed to the needy, we do to the least of our brethren that we do unto the Lord. The Lord is no man’s debtor. He writes the things we do that are not required out of a sense of obligation or duty or compulsion but out of pure charity, to demonstrate the love of God to our fellow beings, in the credit side of our spiritual balance sheets. He will look for a time to repay us here and now by delivering us from trouble, from the snares of the enemy, from sickness, crisis and death. I also asked my colleagues and subordinates as well as friends and contacts on social media to do likewise and try to give away their subsidy to the needy.

The question may arise that despite this uni-verse, both death, crisis and sickness does overtake from time to time even the faithful. I have lost a couple of good and faithful friends well before their time. The answer is that God in His sovereignty decides how to fulfil His will in different individuals’ lives. When it happens, we should just re-affirm our faith in the Lord and His goodness, that He never makes mistakes and that there are things and events we can never fully comprehend or explain. Our faith is tested at such times. We can only submit ourselves and surrender all to Jesus. Of course, in our deep hearts we can pray preventive prayers well before events happen, “ Lord, keep my eyes from tears, my heart from pain, my mind from anguish and my feet from stumbling.”
Prateep V Philip

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

The Best Medicine, the Most Wholesome Food

UV 1390/10,000 The Best Medicine, the Strongest Walls, the Greatest Riches, the Most Wholesome Food:
And he said unto me, Son of man, cause thy belly to eat, and fill thy bowels with this roll that I give thee. Then did I eat it; and it was in my mouth as honey for sweetness.

Ezekiel 3 v 3

We are invited not just to read the Word of God but to eat it. To eat it implies, one needs to give priority to the Word over all our daily necessities. It is our daily spiritual bread. We need to consider it more important than even our necessary food. It contains our spiritual DNA and will instruct us on the decisions we need to take, the paths to take and the ones to avoid. We need to fill our belly with the Word and not just take an occasional bite. We need to cultivate a hunger for the Word that makes us return to it from time to time for a refill, a refreshing and renewal. Our work, our worth and our worship are deeply connected with the Word. Through the Word, we come to know our identity, that we are called by the name of the Lord as He is not just our creator but He is the Father of our spirits. He created and formed our bodies and every part of it but He breathed His own spirit in us making us His children and He, our Father. When man sinned, the Father’s spirit was taken away. When we are redeemed by faith in Jesus, the Father’s spirit is restored to us. This knowledge is the source of both our worth and our worship of God. Our identity and our powers are derived from His Word. Today, there is a certain spiritual power and authority even in our words and our breath as the Father’s spirit dwells in us. This is the reason Jesus said, “ Abide in my Word and I will abide in you.”

We need to delight in the Word more than a gourmet would delight in the finest honey or in delicacies, more than a jeweller in finding the finest gold, more than a connoisseur in the finest wine. So much so, we must make it our meditation the whole day. Whatever we are doing, the Word should be in the background of our minds. Meditation on the Word is good medicine. It heals all our inner bitterness. Medicine in normally bitter. The Word is sweet medicine. Unlike medicine it is not bitter in our mouths but right from the first taste it is sweeter than honey. It is not sugar-coated to give an artificial sweetness unlike the teachings of men and of the world we live in. It is genuinely sweet. The source of a river is often found in a spring hidden in a remote cave. Similarly, when the Word is hidden in our hearts, it becomes the rivers of life-giving, life-enhancing and life-sustaining water in our innermost being.

The Word needs to dwell in us richly in wisdom. It implies that the Word needs to be retained. Our minds need to run over it again and again. We need to relate it to our lives, past, present and future. We need to be surrounded by the Word like walls of our homes within which we dwell. The word “richly” implies that we should not just read the Word cursorily or mechanically but be determined to extract the rich nuggets of practicable truth from the Word. Our knowledge of the Word should not be theoretical but always in application mode. Then it will produce much wisdom and understanding of God, men and matters in us. The Word will enable us to gain spiritual discernment to be able to separate the grain from the chaff. There is no better world view than that obtained by looking at the world and ourselves through the templates of the Word. The Word is a polished mirror that reflects truth and reality. It is a self-correction mechanism. It produces gladness, joy and rejoicing in us. The uni-verse says, “ Cause your belly ..” This implies that we need to discipline ourselves to constantly intake the Word. It is an act of will to initiate the act of reading, meditating and applying the Word but with discipline and willing obedience, it will become a life-enriching habit. In short, the Word is versatile. It is the best medicine, the most wholesome food, the strongest walls, the most secure shield, the most powerful weapon, the greatest riches, the best map, the finest mirror…

Prateep V Philip

Monday, April 20, 2015

Unity Of Unities, Life is Unity

UV 1389/10,000 Unity of Unities, Life is Unity
And shall put my spirit in you, and ye shall live, and I shall place you in your own land: then shall ye know that I the LORD have spoken it, and performed it, saith the LORD.

Ezekiel 37 v 14

The Spirit of God is the quickening spirit, the spirit who causes all things to live and to live forever. The Holy Spirit is the breath of God. It is the captured wind in our lungs that sustains us from breath to breath. Similarly, the capture of the Spirit of God, the breath of God sustains us. Just as the wind comes from all four directions, North, East, West and South or NEWs, we do not know from which direction the breath of God comes but He brings good news into our lives to give hope and eternal life to our dry spiritual bones. Without the Spirit of God, each of us are a set of disjointed parts like the bones of a fragmented skeleton. There is neither unity nor connection between the diverse parts of our lives. But when the Spirit comes, He gives us the unity, the meaningful connections between different parts of our lives. If Solomon was given the grace of believing in Jesus, he would have written “ Unity of unities, life is unity” instead of “vanity of vanities, life is vanity.” The Breath of God unifies us in our faith in Christ. He gives us spiritual strength symbolised by the muscles on our bones. He gives us spiritual food. He makes our spiritual joints supple and flexible. He revives us with hope in every crisis, every challenge and difficulty we face in life. Every part of our lives is no longer dry but well supplied and nourished with eternal hope.

Without the Spirit of God, our thoughts and emotions would have been pulled in different directions and torn apart but the Lord integrates us through His Spirit. He settles us in the land of the living. The land is a metaphor for the land of the living hope. He gives us eternal hope beyond our lifetime as well as hope for each day and for the whole of our lifetime. When we intake His Word daily, it releases the strength, the hope, the blessings we need in our lives. In the faith chapter of the book of Hebrews, it says that all those examples of faith like Abraham, Abel, Noah, Enoch did not receive the things promised. They were sure or certain of their hope in whom they believed. They were sure of the spiritual realms they were promised. They knew the “promised land” did not mean a physical territory here. They knew they too would physically die. But the hope of receiving an inheritance in a spiritual realm sustained them and gave substance and strength to their physical lives here and now. We receive power from the Spirit of God to overcome.
He is the One who places us in our own land. He places us where we live, where we work, where we travel. Through the happenings in our lives, we will know that the Lord has truly spoken the words of promise and hope in our lives and that He is the one who provides, who heals, who delivers, who protects, who preserves, who teaches, guides, leads and blesses our lives. We will know that He is one who performs His promises and executes His judgements in our lives. We are not able to perform or fulfil our own words. There are shortcomings or gaps. But the Lord always fulfils or performs to match His words. But the Lord’s hands or abilities and faithfulness never falls short of His words.

Prateep V Philip

Saturday, April 18, 2015

The Former and Latter Rain

UV 1388/10,000 The Former and Latter Rain
Then shall we know, if we follow on to know the LORD: his going forth is prepared as the morning; and he shall come unto us as the rain, as the latter and former rain unto the earth
Hosea 6 v 3

If we continue in faith, fellowship and knowing the Lord, He will send us refreshing rain. The rain refers to the flow of His word, His blessings, His mercy and His grace. We need to receive His mercy or forgiveness before we can receive His blessings. In order to receive His mercy, we need to hear and obey His Word. His mercy is the former rain while grace is the latter rain, the blessings that come once we are walking in faith with the Lord. The former rain also refers to the blessings of our early days of knowing the Lord while the latter rain refers to the blessings and joy of our later days. In the season of the former rain, we should be thirsty like parched soil. We should drink in all we can know of the Lord and His Word. In the season of the latter rain, we should be overflowing with ceaseless prayer, praise and thanksgiving. The former rain also means the first rain that come in spring while the latter rain falls in autumn. The spring rain is a metaphor of blessings when things are going good for us while the autumn rain is the comfort, strength and encouragement the Lord sends our way in difficult times.

A human being can either be blessed by the Lord or messed up on his own. It is the message from the Lord that keeps us from messing up our lives. When we know and love the Lord, He will show us the paths that lead up to salvation. Like morning rain softens the hardened ground and mixes with the nutrients in the soil for the plants to absorb, the message of the Lord softens our hardened hearts and mingles with our own understanding to nourish our souls and cause it to grow. The words, “ he shall come unto us as the rain” implies that He would come to us in a surprising way, when we are not expecting Him even as we are often surprised by a shower on a hot summer day.

The first half of our lives we should do all the growing in faith and knowledge of God and of His word as much as we can. This is the former rain. The focus is the message from the Lord. The second half of our lives, we should yield or bear fruit. The focus is being a messenger for the Lord. Jesus said, “ A tree is known by the fruit it bears.” We are known by our contribution, by the qualities of our character or the fruit of the spirit. The season of the former rain is the season when we are growing and learning. The season of the latter rain is when we are mature in our relationship, understanding, knowledge and love of the Lord. We are more secure and full of assurance that we are the chosen of the Lord. We have dealt with our fears and insecurities. We are now rooted in faith and able to weather any storm, having the confidence and hope that the Lord will take us through safely. We are more focussed on the fruit and not on the gifts of the Lord. We are not easily swayed or moved by threats, fears, temptations or trials. We are continually rejoicing, delighting in the fellowship of the Lord.

Prateep V Philip

Friday, April 17, 2015

Words are Action

UV 1387/10,000 Words are Action
And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made.
Genesis 2 v 2

I was meditating on this uni-verse as to why God needed to rest. He had spoken all of creation including a zillion stars into existence. To create so many awesome species of plants and animals, such diverse works of nature, it involved a lot of speaking. Speaking involved forming an intent in the mind of God- a visualisation of what He was about to bring forth into the world. It involved an emotional involvement on the part of God. He thought of all the details, planned all the aspects of that creature or aspect of nature and then brought it forth. Man alone He had formed with His hands. On the seventh day, He spent time in silence. He rested from His work of creation. He examined His works of creation and found it to be good. Then it dawned on me that speaking is work, that words are action. We should not despise speech as mere words. It is, in fact, action -the movement of that powerful muscle, the tongue and the vocal chords as directed by the intention, emotions, thought, knowledge and belief of the human mind. The right kind of words move self and others into a series of actions in pursuit of the highest goals of God and of humanity. Words are action. Words are creative triggers when they are backed by complete and wholesome passion of the heart, intent of the mind and visualisation of details. We need to examine our words and check if the results are good. Such good words are forged in the furnace of silence.

Words consume energy even as they give birth to new life. God ended His work and then He rested. He rested to contemplate and reflect over what He had created. He blessed the seventh day. Meditation is thinking the thoughts of and from God. It is not emptying the mind of all thoughts. When we preach and teach the Word, it is one of the highest and most creative forms of work. But we also need to create some time and space to reflect between times of speaking and teaching. Every day of the week, we need to use creative words, not destructive words, words that build up others, not harm them. On the seventh day, we need to rest, reflect, learn from the Word before we go into another week of creative words.

When Jesus talked, He healed the sick with His words. He caused the blind to see. He healed the deaf. He brought the dead alive. The words of Jesus brought people into the kingdom of God and brought the kingdom of God or His rule of righteousness into the hearts and minds of people. Our talk can help people walk and also walk closer with God. Our words can turn a paralytic’s mat into a prayer mat. Every word counts. It is precious. It holds life and the secret to eternal life. This is the reason the Lord judges every careless word severely. Even as every well- thought word can bring healing, deliverance and salvation, a careless word can harm, destroy, break up relationships, cause loss, sickness and death. Our tongues are swords of execution. We can use it to execute the will of God or the will of the enemy of our souls. God has through speech shared His power with us to bless, to empower, to deliver, to lead, to guide.

Prateep V Philip

Thursday, April 16, 2015

The Spirit of Truth

UV 1386/10,000 The Spirit of Truth
Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.

John 14 v 17

Jesus did not leave His followers feeling orphaned or destitute. He went to the Father after His resurrection and sent the third person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit to dwell with those who believed and followed Him. The Spirit is described in this uni-verse as the Spirit of truth as He teaches us all truths from His Word. He is the stamp of authentication and empowerment of the believer. He is the interpreter and teacher. He is also described as the Comforter and the “Remembrencer.” He is gentle and wise. He dwells in us and thereby, our bodies become the temple of the Lord. He sanctifies us. He prepares us as a habitation for the Lord. He shows us things that are yet to happen.

The uni-verse says that the world cannot receive the Holy Spirit as it is filled with the spirit of error. The world cannot receive the things of the spirit as these are foolishness to the world and they cannot be discerned except spiritually. The spirit of error blinds people to the truth. It deceives them. The Spirit is the One who enabled Jesus to rise from the dead. He is the One who quickens our understanding. He is the giver of spiritual gifts like teaching, healing, prophecy and so on. Jesus told His disciples to wait in Jerusalem till they received power from the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit empowers people and releases the fruit of godly character in us: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, humility and self control.

The Holy Spirit is God Immanuel or God present in us always. He guides us with His whispers and promptings. He nudges us in the right direction. He makes the presence of God real and powerful in our lives. He speaks not of Himself but of the Father. What He hears from the Father that He tells us. He is a communication link with the Father and Christ that we have here on earth We are a building project in His hands. He builds us day by day, thought by thought, decision by decision and experience by experience. He dwells in us and we dwell in Him. He is a sensitive Spirit and by our words or choices we can grieve Him. The Holy Spirit enables us to have continual union and fellowship with God.

Prateep V Philip

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

The Joy of the Lord

And ye became followers of us, and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Ghost:
I Thessalonians 1 v 6

People receive the Word when they are in much pain and affliction. The Word acts as a balm of Gilead to heal every affliction. Jesus is referred to as the balm of Gilead as He could heal every type of disease- skin, eyes, ears, limbs, blood, minds and broken hearts. Sometimes, after believing in Jesus, people face much affliction or trials and tribulations. What gives us the strength to face such afflictions? It is the Holy Spirit who fills us with offsetting joy. The power of the Holy Spirit enables us to abound in hope. As we believe the Word, God fills us with peace and joy.

A follower of Jesus has to endure troubles. He needs to be joyful even as he undergoes such afflictions. The afflictions are meant to test our faith and to strengthen it further. It is intended to produce patience and character in us. It also plays the role of purifying or pruning our faith to be more fruitful. It will also enable us to comfort those who face similar situations with a sense of empathy and real understanding. Afflictions are allowed to check if the soil of our hearts is good, to churn and turn it and see if the worries and pleasures of this world would like thorns choke the good seed of faith. God is not a joy-killer. He does not find pleasure in seeing us sad or depressed or dejected. Many promises in scripture end in the phrase, “that your joy may be full.” He does not want our cup of satisfaction or joy to be half full or half empty but overflowing.

Joy referred to in this uni-verse is not a stimulus-driven joy but a faith-produced and Spirit-sustained steady hope. The joy that Paul wrote about is not the transient joy or happiness we feel when something pleasant or good happens to us. It is not dependent on happenings but is dependent on our covenant relationship with God. It is not a joy that is dependent on circumstances. Scripture exhorts us to be “joyful in all circumstances” not just when things are going the way we want them to go. Such inexplicable abounding joy is a sign that the kingdom of God is established in us. It cannot be explained in terms of natural or logical reasons. The joy of the Lord is our strength. It is a supernatural joy. It is also the source of our strength in times of affliction. It comes from an anointing of the Holy Spirit. The kingdom of God consists of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. When we believe in Jesus, we are declared righteous before God. When we receive Jesus into our hearts, we are anointed with the Holy Spirit. The good root- faith in Jesus- gives rise to peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. Implicit in this is that whenever we are facing challenges, we are also imbued with hope that things will turn out alright or better, that we will be victorious, that we will overcome the difficulties we are currently facing. The promises of God contained in His Word are also a source of great joy and hope. Even before our eyes perceive the fulfilment of our hope, these promises water our faith and opens an inner fount or spring of joy and strength deep within our spirits.

Prateep V Philip

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Breaking Down The Middle Walls

UV 1384/10,000 Breaking Down Middle Walls
For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us
Ephesians 2 v 14

A wall should be around us and not built right in the middle. A wall around is a bastion of support and protection but out in the middle it is an obstruction, a hindrance, a barrier. There is a wall out in the middle separating God and man and a wall separating race from race, nationality from nationality, culture from culture, religion form religion, class from class, language group from language group, community from community, family from family, individual from individual. The wall creates hostility between these. Jesus broke down the wall of hostility by His own body and life. He became the peace between God and man, between man and man. The peace will not end but it will increase from generation to generation as prophesied by Isaiah. It is a covenant of peace as well as a covenant of love and hope. He came to bring glory to God in the highest and to bring peace and goodwill among all mankind. To do this His words have to act like a sword of the spirit acting on our hearts and minds, excising what causes grief or pain to the Lord. In fact, He breaks down the middle wall inside each of us and ends the conflict with our inner self. He declares wholesome peace or Shalom inside us. He builds walls of love, protection and blessing around us.

Having established peace inside us, He guides us on the way to peace. He breaks down all kinds of barriers. He brings inner healing and salvation to all. He removes the constraints and restrictions on our personal development. He transforms our perspectives and thereby transforms our reality. Each of us inhabit different worlds at the same time-the world of thought, the world of relationships, the world of our emotions, the world of our imagination and so on. The Lord Jesus influences and impacts each of these worlds and teaches us how to navigate to and from each of these spheres.

Jesus is the reconciler of all things and all people to God. He is an integrator. He integrates us and brings us together. We are fitted into one body. The whole body is fitted and compacted together, supplying nourishment and strength to each joint and tissue, enabling the body to function and to be built up in love. We have a choice to live our lives in different parts or pieces or allow the different pieces to come together in the peace of Jesus. His body was broken as the ultimate sacrifice of love to unite us to live in peace. The price of unity has been paid. It is up to us to appropriate or reject the blessings of such wholesome peace, love and hope.

Prateep V Philip

Monday, April 13, 2015

Escaping the Law of Vanity

UV 1383/10,000 Escaping the Law of Vanity
Hearken to me, ye that follow after righteousness, ye that seek the LORD: look unto the rock whence ye are hewn, and to the hole of the pit whence ye are digged.
Isaiah 51 v 1

We need to listen and understand the Word of God. Then we would be able to comprehend what is righteousness. It is not the relative morality of humanity but the absolute standards of God from which all mankind falls far short of. The pit of death reduces all that we have striven for and achieved in life to a mere wisp of wind, a vanity of vanities. The degree by which we fall short may vary from individual to individual but the fact remains that each of us falls short of God’s glorious perfection. Yet since we are created in His image we naturally seek Him. We find our quest for righteousness ends in rest the moment we place our entire faith in Jesus. He is the rock cut from the mountain not by human hands but by the will and purpose of God. When we enter into a personal relationship with God through our faith in Jesus, each of us becomes a part of that Rock of Righteousness.

When we become part of the rock formation of Jesus, we escape what I call the law of vanity of life that Solomon bemoaned-“ all is vanity.” Now, all is not vanity but everything is meaningful and beautiful. The very pit that had reduced all that we are, all that we did, strive for and achieved to mere vanity becomes a pit of victory over death. We are no longer the dust that the winds of time and space blow away but we are as stable, strong, permanent and everlasting as the Rock to which we are not a part. We need now to flee from the vanity and lusts of flesh and mind and follow after righteousness, love, godliness, peace, patience and gentleness. It is not a transformation that happens in one day but it is like a lifelong process of digging. We need to dig into the Word of God and discover the hidden truths. When we obey natural laws like gravity, we align with nature and avoid injuries. When we obey human laws, we avoid punishment but when we obey God’s law or “logos”, we are blessed and rewarded. There are hierarchies of law- natural, physical, human and supernatural or spiritual. The higher or highest law is spiritual law. The law applied to practical situations of life is judgement and justice. The Word applied to practical situations of life is wisdom and grace. The uni-verse states that when we listen to the Lord, to the Holy Spirit, the Word, the teachings of Jesus, when we look to and seek after the Lord, we will flee from the world’s lusts and follow after the Word’s passions.

If we don’t dig, the maggots will eat us. If we dig diligently and consistently, we will find golden nuggets. It is an obvious choice that the Lord gives us. We need to listen intently, follow consistently, seek diligently and dig persistently. Nearly, every field of study ends in the syllable “logy” like “biology, theology, psychology, entomology..” and so on. The word “ logy” comes from “ logos” or word. Every type of scientific study is a study of cause and effect sequences. When a certain cause is set in motion, an effect will follow. The uni-verse says that when we listen to the Lord with our inner ears, look to Jesus with our spiritual eyes and use our hands to dig into the truth of His Word, the effect is that we will truly follow Him or that we will be true followers of Jesus. Not only will we able to be able to take refuge in the Rock of ages but we become part of the Rock of righteousness. All our senses- ears, eyes, understanding, passion that causes us to flee from and to follow after, our limbs and other faculties are involved in following Jesus.

Prateep V Philip

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Non-Shrink New Clothes of Relational Salvation

UV 1382/10,000 Non- Shrink New Clothes of Relational Salvation

No man putteth a piece of new cloth unto an old garment, for that which is put in to fill it up taketh from the garment, and the rent is made worse.

Matthew 9 v 16

The shrink rate of old habit or human custom and tradition or rituals is different like different patches of fabric. It will not be right to stitch it on the new garment of salvation, the covenant of love with God Himself through His Son Jesus. The new covenant of love is complete, whole, perfect by itself and does not need to be superimposed by things, practices, habits, customs or beliefs of the covenant of the law. Jesus refers to the new life of faith as the new wine. It should not be poured into the old leather winebag of religion. We cannot mix a personal relationship with religion nor spirituality with tradition. These have different shrink rates and God’s plan of salvation for man does not change or shrink or tear. It is wholesome and holistic. That plan is relational not religious or ritual or traditional. It cannot be inherited or passed on like a family heirloom. It is not man-made or rule based but God-revealed and a spiritual connectivity. Our faith acts are spontaneous and not based on diktat. Not tokenism or rigid standards but prompted by the Spirit.

Many people by mixing religious practices and superstitions with faith have allowed holes to develop in their relationship with God. These holes will allow the power or the anointing to leak through and we will once again have only the outer form of religion without the inner power. We must no longer believe that we can achieve anything, least of all salvation by our good deeds or our self righteousness for these are but torn patches or filthy rags, filthy due to our inner pride and conceit, mixed motives and hypocrisy. These patches will shrink differentially and tear our confidence and faith apart. If we do so it will be like wearing the Emperor’s new clothes. Our nakedness and shame will be worse than before.

As new born creatures by grace, we can always approach the Lord as sinners and come away as saints. We cannot enter His presence with confidence in our own righteousness. We need not borrow from the world to make the Word sound more attractive or relevant. The world and its philosophies will change and shrink but the Word is constant and unchanging. It is an absolute in a relative world. It is a constant in a world of flux. God does not need to quote from anybody or any source to prove His point. Like the redeemed prodigal son, we should only bask now in the Father’s love and not return to our old sinful ways, of doubting His motives and provision. We need to wear the new clothes and weapons He has provided- the belt of truth of the Word should be tight around our waist, the helmet of salvation to protect our mind from fears and doubts, the signet ring of authority of the Father over all in this world, the shoes of willingness to carry the message of the Lord, the shield of faith, the sword of the Word. We need to make our faith consistent and fight to win our inner battles instead of allowing a patchwork faith that looks like a break out of German measles.

Prateep V Philip

Saturday, April 11, 2015

The Hedge of Faith

UV 1381/10,000 The Hedge of Faith
He that diggeth a pit shall fall into it; and whoso breaketh an hedge, a serpent shall bite him.
Ecclesiastes 10 v 8

If one digs a pit or a trap for others, he or she would fall into it. He or she will be ensnared by his or her own designs. If one rolls a stone to harm another, it will roll back eventually on him. There is no escape from the judgement of God. However, when we pray a hedge of protection around people, when the enemy tries to break in, he would be defeated. Job had a hedge of protection around him on account of the favour or grace of God resting upon him and his household. When satan got permission from the Lord God to penetrate the hedge, Job suffered many afflictions over which he had no control. What happens to us is not what is vital but how we pray over what happens to us. We need to pray to restore the hedge if it is broken by something we did nor did not do. We need to pray that the Lord does not give permission to satan to afflict us in a variety of ways.

We need to tap into the power of prophylactic and pre-emptive prayer. Once we pray with faith to the Lord to place a hedge over our lives in respect of various diseases, accidents, deceitful scams and scamsters, temptations, disasters, risks to reputation and testimony, the cunning serpent that satan is – will not dare to penetrate the hedge. His head will be crushed under Jacob’s heel, the heel of the man of faith. When we pray like Jabez, “ do not let any evil overtake or harm me”, we are entering into a personal covenant with the Lord in respect of that which we prayed for. Instead of going for an injection of anti-venom serum or prayer after the mishap, it is far better to keep the serpent from entering our lives.

Instead of digging pits for others, we need to get busy building hedges of faith around us and our families. A hedge needs constant trimming, some minimum amount of watering and maintenance. So also we need to trim our faith life, water it and maintain it. If we are spiritually careless, the garden of our lives will soon be overrun with weeds- careless words and curses we have brought upon ourselves, giving permissions to the enemy to enter our lives through the front door that we have left open for him to enter. He uses our own inner weaknesses, our fears and wrong beliefs, thoughts, words and actions as entrances into our lives. He will naturally loot and rampage being a deceiver, a thief, a liar and killer. When we were very young, a former servant became a thief, broke into the house and hid in a corner of our house. While I was praying, a cousin chanced upon him and raised an alarm. The labourers in the nearby building came rushing to our rescue, caught and bound him up. Jesus said, “ A stronger one has to come up to tie the strong intruder.” We need to involve Jesus and the Holy Spirit to discern the gaps in our hedge and close it with prayer and claiming the promises of God.

Prateep V Philip

Friday, April 10, 2015

Knowing Agape Closes the Gap

UV 1380/10,000 Knowing Agape Closes the Gap
And if any man think that he knoweth any thing, he knoweth nothing yet as he ought to know.
I Corinthians 8 v 2
Our knowledge of God, of ourselves and of the things of the world is at best partial and incomplete. It should not cause us to puff up and feel conceited about our own knowledge and wisdom. We cannot think that we are an authority on any subject least of all the Word of God. Instead, we need to depend on the Author of life and our faith, Jesus. He proved He had authority like no other person. He commanded the winds and waves in storms and they ceased. He commanded the forces of nature and they obeyed. He commanded matter and water transformed into wine. He commanded a fish and it yielded a gold coin to pay His tax dues. He commanded healing of the sick, the leprous, the blind, the deaf, the lame, the ones with chronic incurable diseases and they were instantly healed. He commanded the dead to rise and they came alive. He commanded satan and demonic spirits and these obeyed or departed. He commanded fish into the empty nets of the weary disciples. They had returned to their nets as they did not know Him as they ought to have. He commanded His own dead, pierced, tortured, blood-emptied body to rise from the dead. Such power and knowledge is beyond our understanding. Our knowledge is limited to that of the blind man who was healed and was questioned about who had given authority Jesus to command such healing, he replied, “ That I do not know for sure but this I know, I once was blind but now I can see.” His knowledge was incomplete but his vision was made good and whole. He had an experience of God’s power on account of God’s love.

We do not know the love and power of God as we ought to know. We are not able to size or comprehend the dimensions, the nature, the extent of God’s agape love. We seek to the knowledge and manifestation of God’s power more than we seek the knowledge and manifestation of God’s love. Increasing in theological knowledge does not help us know better. But increasing in applied knowledge of His Word will give us more and more experience of being cured of our inner or spiritual blindness. Wisdom is applied knowledge. It is applying the salve of God or faith on our spiritual eyes to cure us of our cognitive blindness. Paul, the apostle at the height of his ministry wrote of himself that now he knows dimly. His thoughts, feelings and reasoning are likened to those of a child. He confessed his knowledge of God is similar to that of a reflection in a mirror. It was incomplete, partial and not in depth. Knowing that we do not know God’s love as we ought to is not a sign of humility but of godly wisdom. That kind of wisdom causes us to humble ourselves and reverence God and this in turn increases us in wisdom. The more we know the more we will realize how little we know. Paul prayed that we might be enabled to know the length, breadth, height and depth of God’s love. Knowledge is the leader’s edge. The word “know-l-edge” itself holds the secret key – knowing the love of God is the leader’s edge. Such knowledge will not puff us up that we know better than others but it will transform us and make our vision complete. It will positively influence our thoughts, words and deeds. We will know as we ought to know. Knowing agape or God’s love more fully closes the gap.

What we should seek is a moment by moment illumination and experience of God’s grace and love in our lives. It will give no space for us to become vain or proud in our little knowledge. It will build us up in love, faith and hope. What we do not know, we will trust God for that. If He choses to, He will reveal it to us. If He does not, we are content in knowing what we do know. Our lives should be an alternation of love, faith and hope. If love is in the foreground at a particular moment of our experience, faith and hope are in the background. If faith is in the foreground, love and hope are in the background. If hope is in the foreground, faith and love are in the background, bolstering our hope and enabling us to see just a little better. Knowledge is a cognitive activity or left brain activity. Love is an emotional or right brain activity. Connecting the two seemingly opposite poles to be complementary is possible only by knowing agape or God’s love in Christ.

Prateep V Philip

Thursday, April 9, 2015

God-Endowed and Enabled Greatness

UV 1379/10,000 God-Endowed and Enabled Greatness

And I have been with thee whithersoever thou hast walked, and have cut off all thine enemies from before thee, and have made thee a name like the name of the great men that are in the earth.

I Chronicles 17 v 8

The Lord God told David that He had been with him wherever he went and had cut off all his enemies from his sight. He had made him a name like the names of the greatest men in the earth. Indeed, David is remembered as one of the greatest of kings of Israel, if not the greatest. A shepherd boy, the least among his brothers who was sent to fend for Jesse’s sheep while the latter fought in Saul’s army, had become the greatest of kings, the forerunner of the Messiah-King Jesus. David proves the truth of the dictum that belief can make an ant a giant. Belief can – provided it is based on facts of history, the truth of the Word and reason. Belief is a framework or crucible that rests on the tripod of fact, truth and reason, not legend, myth or falsehood.

David’s natural enemies were cut off before him. As a shepherd, he killed a bear and fought a lion to save his sheep. He had risked his life to fight creatures of greater strength to defend what was given into his responsibility. Apart from belief in God and one’s own destiny or self belief, one needs to be faithful to one’s given responsibilities. God works on the principle- he who is faithful in a little will be faithful in a lot and he who is faithless in a little will be faithless in a lot. David had his own weaknesses but when the fact that he had fallen to temptation in committing adultery with Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah, one of his own fighting men, was brought to his notice by the prophet Nathan, he truly repented. His weakness emerged not when he was a vulnerable shepherd exposed to the elements and dangers of nature but when he had become king and was more immune and unquestioned. One has to prepare for the cracks in our nature emerging once we mature as leaders and occupy positions of power and influence just as aging walls throw up cracks. Purity as one sceptic said should not be a case of lack of opportunities but due to wilful choice.

But David’s greatness rested on his anointing by God. It rested on his heart that was ready to repent when his fault was pointed out. Despite his moral failing, God called him a man after his own heart. He worshipped with abandon. He humbled himself before God, was thankful and remembered his own humble origin. David repented wholeheartedly. God gave him victory and success all round. His own wife Michal reproached him but David preferred the honour or esteem of God over the esteem of people. David represented the combination of godly offices of king, prophet and priest. Each of us today is given this anointing of greatness, regardless of our origin, our lineage, our background, our past lives, our failings, to be king, prophet and priest. As spiritual kings, we are to rule over all the spiritual domains, powers and principalities of darkness. As priests, we are to continually worship the Lord in spirit, truth and the beauty of holiness. We are to intercede for the salvation of all nations and people. As prophets, we are to discern the times, signs and seasons. We are given intuition or premonition of things that are yet to happen. The fruit of the spirit that pertain to the kingly office are patience, kindness and self control. The fruit of the spirit that pertain to the priestly office are love, joy and peace. The qualities that pertain to the prophetic function are faithfulness, humility and goodness. Each of us is to be a perfect balance of grace and power. The sixteen hours of our waking days should see in operation one or other of the three offices, the three sets of qualities and the gifts of the spirit that are given to enable us to fulfil our God- mandated greatness. Grace is God-endowed and enabled greatness. God does not want just the odd great man of history but every believer is expected, endowed and enabled to be great. Greatness is not cultivated habit, accomplishment or aggrandisement but it is a calling and an anointing. David’s military exploits did not last, his monuments and palaces did not outlast the ravages of time and history. But the message of his life, his faith and his experience lasts to this day. The message of our lives will endure.

Prateep V Philip

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Looking to Jesus

UV 1378/10,000 Looking to Jesus

Therefore I will look unto the LORD; I will wait for the God of my salvation: my God will hear me.

Micah 7 v 7

We need to look unto the Lord for redemption not only of our souls after our demise but in the course of our lives, in all our situations and issues. We need to focus on the locus or the centre of our lives that holds us together. The difficulty is how do we constantly focus on the One who is invisible. When we look into the visible Word, we are actually looking unto the invisible Lord. He will manifest himself to us in a variety of ways: in an answer to a long hoped for prayer, in healing us in our sickness, in giving us a word of counsel in a dilemmatic situation, in dealing with our unjust foes and enemies, in providing for a long felt need, in an unexpected good fortune.

It always involves a period of waiting for the Lord to answer or to act. He will enable us to rise when we fall, to see the light when we sit in darkness, loneliness, anguish, confusion or sadness. We need to trust in His sense of timing. He will respond neither too late or too early. When He delays, it does not mean He denies us that which we seek. He is building patience and faith in us. The word “ wait” can be expanded to mean “ Worship and I trust”. Something is restricting us in our spirits in tough situations. It is at this time that the Lord wants us to soar in our spirits in worship even before we see anything on the horizon by way of redemption in our situation. For us, the gratification of our desires, the solution of our problems is foremost but for the Lord it is the purification and perfection of our faith that is foremost priority. But when we sync our wills, thoughts and emotions with the Lord’s, both our desire and His desire will be accomplished.

The Lord God is not just God of salvation but “ God of my salvation.” He orchestrates or arranges or executes “my salvation”. Though Jesus is the truth, the way and the salvation, He unrolls it in a different way for each of us. Each of us is in different unique situations in our lives. The Lord knows our past, present and future. He knows the totality of our circumstances. He knows the limits of our strength and our weakness. He knows how much we can bear and endure. He will not let either our temporal or spiritual enemy to rejoice or gloat over us. He will enable us to float above like the lotus flower that floats however much the water in the pond rises or however much the miry clay attempts to drag it downward. We need to exercise the faith that God hears us. As we wait, we need to affirm to ourselves and others, : “My God will hear me.” If He hears us, He will not remain inert or unresponsive. He will respond in marvellous ways, the way He responded to the cry of the Israelites in bondage in Egypt, in the desert and when they confronted formidable obstacles, natural and supernatural, enemies, spiritual and human in the promised land. Our eyes must be on Jesus even as the Israelites were exhorted by Moses to look at the raised bronzen serpent- a symbol of the healing power of medicine in the modern day. The enemy will bite the dust like the ancient serpent. He will enable us to rejoice in our victory, in the increase of our faith and consequent blessings. Our eyes must be on Jesus, our mind on the promises of God, our knees on the floor.

Prateep V Philip

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

The Authenticity of Hope

UV 1377/10,000 The Authenticity of Hope
For what is the hope of the hypocrite, though he hath gained, when God taketh away his soul?

Job 27 v 8

The hypocrite is the one who shows himself to be pious in public but does not have a personal relationship with God. He places his hope in his own abilities and resources. Yet in times of great need beyond his strength or understanding, he cries out to God. At such times, God will not hearken to his cry. He takes pride in his own achievements and calls himself a self-made man. Little does he realize that when God takes away his breath, he will lose all that he gained. His wealth will be of no avail. Job lost all that he owned, all that marked him out as a successful and blessed man but he did not lose hope in God. He knew that God who had given him everything had the right to take it away too and that He could also restore it if He wills. God allows tests to authenticate our hope.

God does not desire that we show ourselves to be religious people. He instead desires that we show ourselves to be straightforward, honest to God and honest to conscience, sincere and authentic in our faith and its application. His eyes penetrate right into our hearts. He knows the motive behind every thought of ours. He knows what we value most in our hearts. He does not like people to put up a façade of religiosity. He desires that we be practical and spiritual at the same time. He wants us to be fully involved in this world, to be in the world but not of the world, implying that we should apply spiritual values and principles that we learn every day from His Word and His Spirit to the challenges, problems, situations we encounter. He wants our faith to be cutting edge, real and down to earth.

We cannot please God by merely mouthing some words of praise or acknowledgement that do not come from our hearts or by going through the motions of some activities. Our hope is in Christ, the evidence of glory in this life as the next. We hope to avail His amazing grace to overcome all temptations and troubles. We hope to avail His power to achieve and accomplish His purpose for our lives. We hope to excel for His glory. We hope to run the race of grace and persevere till the end when we are declared overcomers and victors. When we fall sick, we hope to be healed by His stripes. We hope to have peace as He has faced the chastisement for our deeds and words. It is our hope that makes us joyful. It is our hope that enables us to trade all that we are, own and achieved for the sake of our faith knowing that our complete and eternal salvation comes only from that hope.

Prateep V Philip

Monday, April 6, 2015

The Personal Covenant

UV 1376/10,000 The Personal Covenant
And I will make an everlasting covenant with them, that I will not turn away from them, to do them good; but I will put my fear in their hearts, that they shall not depart from me
Jeremiah 32 v 40

The word “covenant” implies a sacred agreement, an agreement in which God is not just a witness for He witnesses all that we do but He is also a signing partner. The closest thing to covenant that people are familiar with is marriage. It is the beginning of what is meant to be an enduring relationship, a relationship that survives the vicissitudes or ups and downs of life. It is based on some written agreement or a permanent record. It contains some mutual or reciprocal terms and promises. It makes the partners bound in the covenant closer than even immediate family. It is a commitment to do good to each other, to help each other achieve one’s potential. The covenant with God is everlasting and even more impactful, intimate and fruitful than marriage. The eternal covenant is entered into individually, person by person. It is personal. It is holistic- it influences or impacts us in the totality of our personalities, in spirit, mind and body. It is comprehensive- no part of our lives is excluded from its purview.

To have a personal relationship with God implies that in Christ we have a covenant relationship with the Lord. He is the “Bridegroom of blood”. He is the stronger partner. He is the provider. He provides us spiritual food or manna for our souls. He is the protector. He is the warrior on our behalf. He ensures we are victorious though He does not guarantee that we will have challenges, difficulties and tests. For indeed, “ many are the afflictions of the righteous but the Lord delivers them from all. The afflictions are meant to purify, to strengthen, to perfect us in our frailties. God promises never to turn away from us and to do good to us. This is the reason that it is believed and affirmed that all things happen for good to them that love Him. The Lord places a sense of reverence in our hearts for Him and His Word. This reverence and awe keeps us faithful and make us stick to Him. If we do not stick to Him, sin will stick to us like a leech. Only salt can separate a leech that is stuck onto someone’s body. That salt is the Word of God. We must instead stick like glue to the Lord. It will keep us from departing or moving away from the Lord and His Word.
People want to get married to the beautiful. But when we get married to God, we become beautiful, our lives become beautiful. We will begin to see meaningful patterns emerge from the apparently meaningless. The broken parts of our lives will combine to form a beautiful pattern even as broken pieces of glass bangles form beautiful patterns on the screen of a kaleidoscope. The Lord will take the brokenness of our lives and make it stronger and purposeful. When we look back the times when we were seemingly strong and independent, confident of ourselves and self sufficient, were the times when we were not close to the Lord. It is when we are lost or broken, that He seems closest to us and speaks to us in every thought and word. He enables us to rise on wings of faith- the Word and prayer. Though we are meek as doves, He gives us the wings of a mighty eagle, to rise high above all our earthly battles. We ascend on word and prayer and transcend our foes and their weapons. The covenant with God unlike marriage is eternal, even death does not dissolve it.

Prateep V Philip

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Confiding to Have Confidence

UV 1375/10,000 Confiding to Have Confidence
Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:

Philippians 1 v 6

Paul was confident that God who had begun a good work in the believers would continue it until they met with Christ in eternity. Paul’s early zeal that worked against the will of God had itself been transformed into the most energetic and enthusiastic outreach to people in different nations. He focussed his eyes on the crown of glory he would receive on the day he met with Jesus in His eternal kingdom. This was the basis of his confidence. He knew that the three words that Jesus spoke on the cross, “ It is finished” has a prophetic significance. The word confidence implies that we need to confide in God our hopes, our concerns, our challenges and our needs. When we confide in Him at every point in life, He will connect the invisible dots and make things happen. Each of us is being finished and polished as a jewel in the kingdom of God.

We are a multi-faceted jewel in God’s hands. Each aspect of our lives is being examined, the flaws and strengths identified, the potential discovered and we are being worked on to make the strengths stand out and the flaws removed. God is in the details of our lives. He most delights in knowing the inner workings of our own hearts. He desires to see a deep yearning for Him in our hearts. He desires to see a deep longing in our hearts to become like Him and like Jesus.

As the Lord works on us as a master craftsman, He dislikes seeing us yield to our own insecurity and our fears. He hates to see us grumbling or murmuring against him. Like the four qualities of a diamond, He is pleased to see in us 4 Cs: Calmness, compassion, creativity and courage. Our belief that He is with us as Immanuel or God with us and Ebenezer or Helper should make us calm even in the most adverse of situations, in the greatest crisis of our lives. Jesus expected the disciples to be calm when the boat they were travelling in was caught in a storm. Jesus might appear to be sleeping but He is in control as long as He is in our lives. He desires that we are compassionate people, not concerned only about our needs but burdened to pray as well as to act for people in need everywhere and to do what we can to help our neighbour or the ones who cross our paths every day. He expects us to be creative multipliers and not mere consumers of grace and peace. He wants us to use, grow and hone the unique talents and gifts He has placed in us. He wants us to face and efface our fears and live lives full of courage and faith. He wants us to be strong and bold.

Prateep V Philip

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Post Resurrection Paradigm Shift

UV 1374/10,000 Post Resurrection Paradigm Shift
He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.

Matthew 28 v 6

Jesus had proclaimed that He is the Resurrection and the life. He knew with godly foreknowledge that He would be put to death but He also knew that even as He voluntarily submitted Himself meekly to death, He had the authority to take His life back, to be resurrected. But for the resurrection, Jesus would have been another great man who lived in the past. He overcame sin by not yielding to temptations all His life and leading a sinless life in continuous fellowship with God the Father and the Holy Spirit. But He overcame the penalty of sin- death by resurrecting Himself from death. His resurrection was proven by the fact that the Roman centurion made sure He was dead before lowering Him from the cross, by the empty tomb that had been securely sealed and guarded all the while His body lay there, by witnesses of the empty tomb on the third day and by the 11 disciples, several women, the two men on the road to Emmaus, by the sceptical Thomas who had placed his fingers in His wounds and by 500 others to whom the resurrected Christ had appeared.
It is His resurrection and the fact that He who had authority to raise Himself from the dead also had power and authority to raise us from the dead that gives us eternal hope. Though He had often taught about the events that were to unfold after His death on the cross, the disciples had least expected it to happen. They were amazed as any normal human being would be that He was certainly alive even though He was certainly dead. It is the witness of His resurrected body and the post resurrection teachings and empowerment by the Holy Spirit that transformed them from just being fickle followers to determined apostles, willing to stake their lives for the Lord. The word “ Lord” to my mind means “ Love that rises above death.”

His risen power or resurrection power is now at work in each of us who believes in His work and in His words to accomplish that which we cannot think of, imagine or ask for. No other teacher of humanity, no other leader claimed the ability to rise above death, to be able to return from a state of being dead, to have authority to deliver people from death. No other person was seen or heard who had risen from such a certain death. It became clear to His contemporaries that this was nothing but the power of God. It became clear that this risen Lord is the doorway to salvation. His words were the key to the gates of heaven. The grave could not hold Him prisoner. The purpose of sacrifice had been paid. Now the glory of God had to be seen in His resurrection. Till Jesus rose from the dead, it was believed that dead men tell no tales and that anything about a dead man rising from death is nothing but a tale. Now it became possible for the children of mortal men to live forever, to taste of eternity, to be immortal. Death which was till then a full stop, had become a mere comma in each of our individual stories as well as in our collective history. We see a paradigm shift in the commitment, clarity of vision, unity of mission and impact of the apostles hereafter. When we experience the resurrection power of Jesus, there is a paradigm shift in our commitment, our passion, our clarity of vision, our priorities and our impact.

Prateep V Philip

Friday, April 3, 2015

The Source of Wisdom and Understanding

1373/10,000 The Source of Wisdom and Understanding

Many shall be purified, and made white, and tried; but the wicked shall do wickedly: and none of the wicked shall understand; but the wise shall understand.

Daniel 12 v 10

Wickedness and injustice is increasing in these times and are rising up to our necks. The uni-verse says that “ none of the wicked shall understand.” It implies that wickedness is due to a lack of understanding. It is a kind of spiritual blindness. But those who are justified by their faith in Jesus are purified and sanctified by the Holy Spirit and the Word. Their faith is then tried and further purified and strengthened so that we will comfort those who go through trials like us. The faithful are the ones who are wise and are able to understand who God is, what His nature or character is and what His will is. They not only understand these spiritual truths but they are able to apply it in their lives and teach others too. They know that in order to truly understand what is happiness, one has to undergo sadness, in order to understand what is peace, one has to undergo misery and conflict, in order to understand the blessings of health, security and prosperity, one has to face sickness, fears and need. They know that the one who is forgiven much more, also loves much more.

Mankind tries to hide our folly and the shame of our misery and nakedness with the figleaf of ideology, good intentions, charity, empire building and religion. The wise will understand that nothing we do can save us from either our folly or our misery or our wickedness. We cannot pull ourselves up by our own bootstraps. We need a Saviour to justify or straighten us. We need the Spirit of God to sanctify, purify, comfort, counsel and teach us. The saviour is Jesus and the spirit is the Holy Spirit. The Word of God is compared to the cleansing properties of water from a spring. It springs from our hearts. It never dries up. It is perennial. It flows round the clock and all year long. It is clear and simple to understand. It makes the simple wise.

The garments of salvation Jesus gives us are pure and white. These are like the new clothes the father gives the repenting and returning prodigal son. The prodigal son is now wise and grateful for every blessing and unearned favour from the father. He no longer has a spirit of arrogance, stubbornness and entitlement. His folly was that he thought he could take better care of himself and his fortunes without the help or advice or presence of the father. He wanted to prematurely encash his inheritance. He once was spiritually blind and wicked but now he can see. He is wise and understanding. He now wears shoes that are ready to go places for the father. He wears the belt of truth to tie him always to the Word of the Father. He carries the sword or spiritual word of the Father sheathed in his heart and mind. He is surrounded by an invisible shield of faith made up with promises of the Father to put out the fiery arrows of both temptations and trials of life. He wears the signet ring of the Father’s authority to rule over His household. He walks around with the sense of security that he will never again have to move away from the Father’s love, protection and provision. He does not take any blessing for granted but is thankful at every turn. He no longer spends all his time, energy and resources only to satisfy his own need and desires but invests in others. The wise have a purpose larger, much larger than themselves. They discern the times, signs and seasons. They do not allow themselves to get bitter like the older son. They realize that staying with the Father and going through the motions of doing the right thing is not enough but it is necessary to keep renewing the right attitudes of the heart and spirit of man vis-à-vis the Father.

Prateep V Philip

Forgiveness -the Basis for Sustaining Relationships

Forgiveness –the Basis for Sustaining Relationships
Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted his raiment, and cast lots.

Luke 23 v 34

Jesus being the only begotten Son of God always addressed Him as “Father.” He asked the Father to forgive the sins of His tormenters, those who had beaten Him, nailed and crucified Him. He could have asked for justice or cursed the ones who crucified Him. This was the greatest instance of love in the world when despite His great suffering, He sought forgiveness for His accusers and persecutors who had so unjustly condemned Him to death. Jesus taught mankind the forgiveness ethic like no one else did. He practised it even on the cross. Today, without forgiveness no family can sustain itself, no relationship can continue. Even in the workplace, forgiveness is so necessary to avoid grudges and resentment.

Jesus pleaded for mercy for His foes and aggressors on the plea of their ignorance. He forgave the woman who had committed adultery even though He was the only One who could condemn her. He forgave the thief on the cross who repented of his sin and wanted Jesus to remember him when He came into His kingdom. Since we have been freely forgiven we too need to forgive those who have hurt us or opposed us or attacked us. It is not a sign of weakness as the world might think but the only way to maintain relationships.

The discipline of law and justice goes hand in hand with the dispensation of grace and mercy. Jesus forgave one thief who was crucified beside Him. The other one instead of asking for forgiveness was mocking Him. He did not seek forgiveness. Hence, repentance is necessary in order that God forgives us. David repented of adultery and murder and was forgiven by God. Joseph forgave the brothers who had conspired against him and sold him into slavery. When we judge others and take revenge, we are taking over the prerogative reserved for God who is the only righteous judge. The Israelites who repented for having condemned the sinless Jesus were forgiven. The Roman soldiers who recognized that Jesus was indeed the Son of God repented and were blessed. But those who were so hardened in their attitudes as to cast lots for His robe excluded themselves from receiving the grace and mercy of God. Forgiveness brings healing in relationships just as medicine heals diseases. Forgiveness precedes wholeness and blessedness. In contrast, when people are embittered and hold resentment against others, it affects their health. Receiving the forgiveness of God has many blessings accompanying it. As it is written in Isaiah 53 by His chastisement, our peace is purchased. Peace with God and man. Peace with self and others. Peace that is holistic. It includes spiritual peace, peace of mind, physical blessings, material or monetary prosperity, success, wholesomeness and well being.

Prateep V Philip

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Covetousness versus Contentment

UV 1371/10,000 Covetousness versus Contentment
Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.
Hebrews 13 v 5

Our conversation as well our inner self talk should not be marked by any sign of greed or covetousness. Jesus speaks of the foolish rich man who told himself that he would build bigger barns to store his produce and told his own soul that he had stored up enough for him to live a life of ease and to be able to eat, drink and be merry all his life. But he was foolish as God could take his soul anytime and anyway. The mouth will speak what the heart is full of . If our heart is full of covetousness, we might hear the Word of God but not do it. With our mouth or our words, we will show much love for God and people but our hearts will go after covetousness. What is thought of as normal for humankind, is abhorrent in the eyes of God. It is idolatry in His eyes. Our hearts are to be inclined to His testimonies and not to covetousness or the attitude of what’s in it for me or what can I gain or benefit materially and monetarily in everything I do or every person I know? Those whose hearts are full of covetousness are full of the cares, pleasures and riches of this life and cannot bring any fruit to perfection. Their potential will be choked. Their spiritual growth will be stunted. Their hearts will be where their treasures are. They will not even be able to enjoy the blessings that they have been given. They are not rich toward God but have poverty in their souls.
This morning as I sat and watched the birds in the garden these thoughts crossed my mind: What a delight to sit and watch through binoculars a bird perched high on a branch and discover the unseen and varied hues of its plumage. Why do birds chirp so much in the morning and remain largely silent through the day: they are thanking God for the opportunity to be awake and alive one more day, one more day to fly freely, one more day to see and experience the beauty and joy of living. These birds are not worried about how they are going to go through another day. They are not anxious if they would be able to gather enough food for themselves and their young ones. They are not worried about the threat from larger predators or the storms that might come their way during the day. They are secure in their instinctive knowledge that the God who had created them and all things bright and beautiful so wonderfully would see them through another day.

The Lord asks us not to compare ourselves with others who seem to be prosperous and better off than us. Instead to be contented with such things that we have which He has given into our hands. He asks us to be secure in the knowledge that He will never leave us nor forsake us. The Word promises that He will not leave us until He has done that which He has promised us. It further states that He will not leave us until we have done all the work for the service of the house of the Lord. We need not even fear for the future of our progeny as the Psalmist says that he has not seen the children of the righteous beg for any need. He will not leave us for the sake of His Son and the covenant we have made with Him. He will not leave us due to His faithfulness to His promises. This confidence and assurance should not disappoint us but rather, make us feel secure, fearless, bold, strong and courageous all the days of our short but eventful lives.

Prateep V Philip