Thursday, October 29, 2015

The Power of Hope

UV 1572/10000 The Power of Hope
Fear not, O land; be glad and rejoice: for the LORD will do great things.
Joel 2 v 21
The opposite of fear is not courage but joy and gladness. Fears evaporate in the presence of a glad and joyous attitude. The threats of death, disease, affliction, loss, defeat are still there but despite these threats, we are glad and joyful. The thorns of our lives are the key to our crowns. As we look back, each of us can see that He has done great, wonderful, amazing and awesome things in our lives this far. What our eye has not seen or what our ear has heard or entered into our thoughts has already been caused to happen in our lives. He turns our curses or shortcomings or hamartia into abundance, excellence and sources of joy and gladness. If there was no crisis of shortage in the wedding feast at Canna, Jesus would not have done the miracle of turning water into wine. At the end of the feast, there was joy, gladness, abundance, appreciation for the host and for Jesus, amazement and awesome manifestation of the presence and power of God. It is not as if we can sit back and watch or wait for miracles. We need to do what the servants did- keep our pots clean and fill it with water. We need to do all that the Lord wants us or asks us to do as His servants. We need to do all that we can in the natural before the supernatural happens. Two things result- human need is met and God’s glory is manifested. The sequence of this uni-verse is one, a negative negative- fear not, then a positive, be glad and rejoice and finally, a remarkable outcome, “the Lord will do great things.” The first two are our human responses while the third is the Lord’s response.

The Lord will not let us be ashamed or dismayed or disappointed. He always does more than we expect and more than we can ask. Our response is to be always rejoice in the Lord and be hopeful, optimistic, faithful and positive in our thoughts, feelings and our expressions. The kingdom of God is within us- hence, the miracle should first happen within us. The Lord is more interested in our inner being though He does not ignore the needs of our whole being- physical, emotional, intellectual, social, spiritual and psychological. Scripture says that the kingdom of God is not one of eating or drinking but of peace, righteousness and joy in the Holy Spirit. We should not depart from these three. The Lord wants us to be always steeped in or moored in these three elements of the kingdom of God. We need to dig our heels deep into these heavenly attitudes. We have a choice to be moored or marooned.

Our hope in Jesus is the source of our joy and not our earthly circumstances. Since we believe and trust Jesus, we hold a lively hope that He is present, that He will improve things even in a seemingly hopeless situation. We have the hope that Jesus will do great things in us, for us and with us. He will lift us up from the pits of depression and place us on the rock of hope and gladness. He will help us in whatever personal or professional difficulty or challenge we are currently facing. The range of the doing of Jesus is from the extraordinary to the exceptional.

Prateep V Philip

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

The Open Door

UV 1571/10000 The Open Door
I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name
Revelation 3 v 8
The quality of the Lord is that He is faithful and just. He shows no partiality to anyone but He sees our hearts, knows our words and our actions. His Word is tested and tried in the circumstances of our lives. If we are faithful to His Word in the exercise of our faith and the use of our time and talents, He is pleased and will certainly reward us. He sets an open door or an opportunity for our growth and blessing before us. Nothing in this world can close this door of opportunity.

The strength or size of our faith may be as small and insignificant as a mustard seed but as long as it is a living seed of hope that grows, the Lord will increase us from strength to strength. We should acknowledge the name of the Lord at every stage of our lives in every way. When Moses asked the Lord who appeared to him in the burning bush, “ Who are You?
What is Your name?” The Lord said, “ I am who I am.” He manifests Himself through different ways in our lives. There are some interlocking concepts in this expression used by God to define Himself: Person, Presence, Identity of Power, Integrity of Character, Manifestation of Grace. God is a person as much as each of us is. He is present everywhere. He is Almighty. He is righteous. He is loving and gracious. When we affirm the image of God in us, we manifest Him and do not deny Him. Inasmuch as we detract from any of these aspects of God in us, we deny Him.

The open door refers to the door of blessing. We become channels carrying blessings to people for persons need blessing of the Person of Persons as much as plants need water from the irrigation channels. It also refers to the door of power: we can experience and manifest supernatural signs and wonders or miracles in our lives. The door of wisdom, understanding and knowledge is opened to our minds to comprehend the secrets that are hidden in the Word and the world. The Lord gives us the key of David- the key to being a king and a priest at the same time. The open door also refers to opportunities to serve and minister to the deeper needs of others. The open door that no man can close implies that what God has intended for us in all these aspects of life, no man can seize or cease to happen. Each uni-verse is virtually a key to an open door. When we meditate on it, believe it, claim it and act on it, a door opens that no man can shut.
Prateep V Philip

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Foundations of Life and Leadership

UV 1570/10000 The Foundations of Life and Leadership
For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.
Hebrews 11 v 10
God is our creator as well as redeemer. He is also the architect and builder of our lives. Many people build the superstructure of their lives and then go looking for a good foundation to lay under it. Their family lives, their health, their finances, their lifestyles would be in such a mess they would have little or no clue how to come out of the crisis. Abraham made sure that the foundation of his life was the God who revealed Himself as Jehovah, the person of Persons. Faith was the foundation of his life. The foundation of his life was the promises spoken by God to him. The foundation of his life was his own trust and obedience to the commands or direction in which God led him. Faith was the vehicle that carried his vision, his burdens, his hopes, his whole life. Faith enabled him to look beyond the limits and boundaries of his earthly sojourn and existence to an eternal city, the kingdom of God, the city that is the Father’s house and yet has many mansions built and being designed and built for the children who adopted or were adopted by God as His children.

Normally, a whole city does not have a common foundation as it is built building by building. Hence, when an earthquake occurs, most of the buildings shake and fall. But the uni-verse talks of a city which is perfectly planned, executed, built and watched over. It will not be shaken. It will not be taken. It will not be vulnerable. The parallel for this uni-verse is Psalm 127 v 1 : “Except the Lord build the house, they labour in vain who build it. Except the Lord watch over the city, the watchmen watch in vain.” This verse confirms the bemoaning of the philosopher of Ecclesiastes that all is vanity in the absence of the Lord being involved in building our lives and in watching over us. God is the model leader and we can learn the art of consummate leadership only by studying the patterns of God’s leadership of the patriarchs and of Israel and of the church in the new covenant age. Leadership with a rock solid foundation should be based on faith in God. From a position of acceptance, we will move to a position of excellence and from a position of excellence to a position of exception. Faith will make us exceptional people. It will cause God to marvel even as Jesus marvelled at the faith of many Gentiles like the centurion. The principles of righteousness embedded in the Word are the plumbline for the building of every nook, corner and wall of our lives.
Yet another parallel verse is Matthew 5 v 14 “ You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hidden.” Light or positive influence is always emanating from faith-based and faith-led leaders. The Lord intends to place us on a pedestal so that all can see and be influenced. Our lives beckon people who are lost to a life of faith-based security, faith-derived power and strength, faith-produced vision. Elevation, enlargement and illumination are three concomitant aspects of faith-based leadership. We are watched over by the Lord and hence, we cannot be conquered or defeated. We are like an impregnable fortress city built on a hill. The designs, blueprint or roadmap for our lives are prepared by the Lord and hence, is bound to be perfect. We are built to divine design. Nothing happens by mere chance or accident. We need to only look intently and search diligently like Abraham and we will be elevated and illuminated.

Prateep V Philip

Monday, October 26, 2015

Six Spiritual Wings

UV 1569/10000 Six Spiritual Wings
And before the throne there was a sea of glass like unto crystal: and in the midst of the throne, and round about the throne, were four beasts full of eyes before and behind.
Revelation 4 v 6

The earth has seas that are full of salty water and are not clear while heaven as envisioned by John has a sea of glass-like crystal. The earth’s seas are a symbol of godly power as well as sinful abundance while the crystal sea of heaven is a metaphor that all things will be clear in the kingdom of God. The four beasts with head of a man, a lion, an ox and an eagle are symbols of a human who walks in fellowship and has a transparent relationship with the Lord. A person who is in a relationship with the Lord is in the world but not of the world. He is human and has human needs and abilities but he is also a lion in terms of courage. He is an ox in terms of the patient endurance with which he bears all pain and suffering and labours hard for the kingdom of God. He is an eagle who soars high on the wings of prayer and the Word, high above the mundane, the ordinary, the earthly, the evil of this world, the problems, challenges and circumstances of his life.

The eyes before and behind are metaphors that leaders should have not only hindsight but also foresight. We should know and see what has happened before us and we should know what is to be after us. We should realize that we are not here for keeps but that we are transient pilgrims on our sojourn from darkness to light, from death to eternity. The throne of God is located in the midst of the sea of crystal but it is simultaneously located in our little hearts. The Lord establishes His kingdom inside us. He will lead us into sinless abundance. He will give us treasures from secret places- treasures of knowledge and divine wisdom that cannot be searched or found on the earth’s search engines. These treasures are the hidden secrets of God’s Word that causes us to triumph over the world and overcome it.

When we see this vision of the Lord reigning in His glory over our past, present, future and eternity, our hearts and mouths will automatically and naturally break out into continual praise and worship that ushers us into the presence of the Lord and ushers the Lord into our present. The eyes on all the six wings of the beasts are a symbol of our continual envisioning of the Lord using a sanctified imagination. The first two wings that lift up our spirits are prayer and the Word, the second pair are the anointing of the Holy Spirit and fellowship with fellow believers, the third pair are worship and thanksgiving. But for these six spiritual wings, we would be but beasts who live without meaning and purpose, who just survive from day to day and eventually die. Through these wings, we can not only enter the awesome presence of the Lord but we can perceive Him in all His glory. The crown that we offer to the Lord are not made of precious metals and stones but are made of our best thoughts, words, actions and feelings. The human being the crown of God’s diverse creation offers himself or herself as the living crown to the sovereign Lord.

Prateep V Philip

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Mercy and Grace Precede Satisfaction

UV 1568/10000 Mercy and Grace Precede Satisfaction
Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.

Hebrews 4 v 16

Mankind’s greatest need is the mercy of God. It is not food, clothing or shelter but mercy. Once we obtain mercy or forgiveness for coming short of His perfection, we can seek and find His grace to overcome our many challenges in life. We cannot purchase peace with God through our good deeds or sacrifices for our sacrifices are incomplete and imperfect like us. Peace with God is obtained through faith in the perfect sacrifice of Jesus. Once we obtain mercy, we have peace with God and once we have peace, we can find grace or power to endure and to overcome.

Once our deep and spiritual need for mercy is met, we have a variety of need at different times of our lives. We need to enjoy the good times, endure the bad times and overcome the evil times. Grace is God’s help at different times of our lives. He gives us strength to climb the mountains or overcome the challenges. He gives us comfort and encouragement in our valleys. He gives us hope for the future as we know that all things happen for good as we love Him and honour Him in our lives.
No man has come to God and returned or left disillusioned. He turns our dead or dry bones into living bones. Bones are a symbol of strength, the support system of the body, the foundation. Once a person receives mercy, he or she can be bold and confident as a child who approaches the loving parent for whatever the need. Imagine the family members and children of a Head of State or Government of a country. How confident and bold they will be in approaching any issue in life! They know their need can and will be met. Similarly, when we recognize that we are children of an Almighty and loving God, we are absolutely bold and confident that our need however big or small will be met at the time of need and at the point of need. We have complete and absolute assurance that the Lord will meet our need abundantly. His strength will be revealed in our weakness, the sufficiency of His grace in our need. Once our relationship as Father and child is established through mercy and grace, He will give us the good things or blessings we need in life. We will not lack or be anxious about our need not being met. There are certain needs of one’s own children or family that an earthly king or ruler cannot meet – the inner need of the soul, the longing for immortality or eternal life- these can only be met by the Lord. We need to approach the throne of grace of the Lord as children and not the throne of judgement of God as fallen or rebellious creatures. If we ask in faith for fish, we will get fish. If we ask in faith for bread, we will get bread. If we ask in faith for wisdom, we will get wisdom. If we ask for strength, we will get strength. If we ask for fulfilment, we will be satisfied. If we ask for power, we will receive power. The Father is a provider, a protector, a helper, a guide, a wise counsellor, a comforter.

Prateep V Philip

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Declaring the Works and the Word

UV 1567/10000 Declaring the Works and the Word
I shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the LORD.
Psalm 118 v 17

The purpose of our lives is to declare the wonderful works of the Lord: the works of creation, the works of salvation, the works of righteousness, the works of healing, the works of restoration, the works of deliverance, the works of teaching of His great and transforming truths, the works of wisdom, the revelations, the provision and guidance. We should not hide our knowledge of the goodness and righteousness of God in our hearts. Faith is not a private matter but to be shared with others for their good too. It should be communicated appropriately to the next generation.
We are to declare His faithfulness and salvation, His love and truth to the congregation or gatherings of people as well as one to one in our day to day interactions. The personal knowledge of God is the salt of life as it preserves peace and enhances the flavour of our enjoyment of life. Out attempt must be to declare all the works of the Lord though the number of these are so great that we cannot possibly run through all of it or in the sequence.
When we declare the Word, we are declaring the righteous judgements of the Lord. These are not man-made or man-derived principles of right living or mere religious doctrines but matters that affects us deeply and practically on a daily basis. For instance, a lot of people have the fear of death and vulnerability haunting them and weakening them but when we declare , “ I shall not die but live to declare the works of the Lord,” the fear is countered and faith is established. When we declare the works of God in our lives, it becomes a personal testimony or evidence. When we declare the Word, we are affirming faith in the commands, precepts and promises of God and opening a door of faith for the Lord to enter and operate His grace and power in our lives. It is a positive confession of our faith that leads to blessing our lives and that of others. Just as exercising regularly builds our muscles and our overall fitness and health, so also regular declaration of the Works and the Word will build our faith and impact our lives in numerous ways.

Prateep V Philip

Friday, October 23, 2015

The Centrality of Trust in Relationships

UV 1566/10000 The Centrality of Trust in Relationship
It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in princes.

Psalm 118 v 9

Relationships are most vital for human well being. Trust is the basis of relationship. Personal knowledge is the basis of trust. Trust involves a set of principles, obligations and promises. When we trust a person, it implies that we believe that person would act in a certain manner as expected. Abraham was one of the first to trust God completely and to obey Him and His commands, to believe in His promises and he is therefore, known as a prince among men, a prince of God. God first gave him peace and then brought him prosperity. A person who follows principles based on the Word is a prince. He is a prince who rules over himself, a prince against whom the principalities and powers of darkness have no claim or control. Our confidence is not in human or spiritual powers but in the Lord Himself. Such a faith in God is excellent and marks one out for excellence. The Lord will enlarge our territory and use us to expand His influence. David trusted the name of the Lord and that it was sufficient to give him victory over Goliath.

When we place our complete trust in imperfect people, our confidence is bound to be betrayed. The human heart is deceitful and desperately wicked. It will look for opportunities to benefit often at the expense of the one who trusts. But the Lord cannot lie. He is trustworthy, capable and willing to perform His promises in our lives provided we trust Him. With His help, in good times we will enjoy, in bad times we will endure. We will hone our strengths and overcome our weaknesses. Our confidence should not stem from our own abilities, resources or connections but our faith in the absolute goodness of the Lord. As Paul wrote, we “ can do all things through Christ Jesus who strengthens us.” Jesus is the cornerstone or the main foundation on which the four corners or dimensions of our lives rest: the physical, the emotional, the intellectual and the spiritual. The physical is the first as first we need to exist before we can relate to God or man. The emotional is the second as a baby cries as soon as it is born. The intellectual is the third as the child begins to think and ask who made the world and what is the purpose of her existence. The questions we ask ourselves leads us to the spiritual. The spiritual dimension becomes the basis of our social connections. We ourselves become more trustworthy. Our hearts are cured of its inherent deceit and wickedness.

This uni-verse does not imply that we do not trust any human ruler or that we distrust our near and dear. It means that our personal relationship with the Lord should be the basis for our relationships and all aspects of our existence. The Word repeats at different places the idea that “blessed is the person who trusts and hopes in the Lord.” The rewards of such trust are to be enjoyed not just over our lifetime but eternally. When we trust in the Lord and His Word, we are enlarged, lifted up and enabled. Our mortal fears are replaced by hope that whatever be our current situation, things will start looking brighter and better over time. The uni-verse also helps us understand that human relationships are brittle and based on quid pro quo while our relationship with the Lord is enduring and everlasting. We do not become stale or familiar with the Lord.

Prateep V Philip

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Understanding, Wisdom, Creativity and Power

UV 1565/10000 Understanding, Wisdom, Creativity and Power
Gen 1:1 In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth

God is the one who creates. By definition God cannot fail and hence, the one with whom God is and with whom he is cannot fail. God created the heaven and the earth. He created the heaven with understanding and He created the earth with wisdom. It implies that when we desire understanding and act with understanding, we bring a sense of heaven into our midst. When we act with wisdom, we are imitating God. Heaven is His throne and the earth His footstool. All the creative and positive things in heaven and on earth originate in the Creator. He created all things by His word that brought the visible things out of the invisible, something creative out of nothing. When we imbibe the Word, we too become creative people. A believer in God is a creative person. His or her faith enables him or her to see things before they are brought into existence or before they happen. The Word initiates a creative process in our minds and hearts. Scripture says that God made all things wisely and carefully. His wisdom is revealed in nature but it is embedded in His Word. As we meditate on His Word, it triggers a creative process in us. We do not need to be wise and understanding in order to be saved as we need only faith to be saved. But once we are saved, we need to be understanding and wise.

This morning as I walked around the hill resort where our family has come for a short vacation, the profusion and beauty of nature struck me as evidence of the purpose of creation. The variety of flowers of different shapes and colours, the variety of birds and other creatures with different colours and cries declare the glory of God even if man is silent. The purpose of creation is to declare the greatness of God. Man as the most complex of God’s creation was formed not just with the Word but was formed by the hands of God. The parallel for this uni-verse is John 1 verse 1 which says, “ In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was same as God.” John used the metaphor of Word for Jesus. His disciples said, “ You have the words of salvation.” God is not only the One who creates all things but He is the One who saves all people through Jesus. Salvation is an even deeper and more enduring work than creation. It is not an event but a lifelong experience and intimate relationship with Jesus.

Our lives become creative, powerful, effective, meaningful, purposeful as we spend time in and with the Word. As we look through the lens of the Word at the world, the underlying patterns will be revealed. The Word communicates the pattern of love, the pattern of power, the pattern of beauty and the pattern of excellence to our minds. There are some parallels between heaven and earth, the supernatural or spiritual and the natural worlds. The physical and the spiritual, the natural and the supernatural, the intellectual and the emotional are all knit together. From the beginning of each day to its end, from the beginning of each project or work till its completion, we need to see in our mind’s eye these patterns and by our words and actions weave these patterns into our lives.
Prateep V Philip

The Inner Disciplines

UV 1564/10000 The Inner Disciplines
I the LORD search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.
Jeremiah 17 v 10
A horse is said to ten times more powerful than a human being. Reins are used to control a powerful horse by a human being. If the rein is tugged a little to the right, the horse will move to the right and if tugged to the left, it will move to the left. But a man himself is not in complete control of himself. The reins of self control reside in the human heart. The Lord searches human hearts to check and know what is the motive behind the thoughts and actions of every human person. Nothing is hidden from His penetrating sight. His Word penetrates even the tiny space between marrow and bone. It is incisive and discerns the spirit or essence of the character of every man.

If the reins are not strong enough, a horse can break free and run amuck. Similarly, the reins that hold back a man or woman from doing wrong, from acting against his or her conscience or better sense ought to be strengthened from childhood. A person should develop restraints from doing something that militates against God. His own spirit will warn and remind him of what he ought to do and what he ought not to do. The Lord sends various tests and experiences our way to check our reins. He checks to see if our words match our actions and beliefs. He cannot be deceived. If we bring upon ourselves certain results on account of our actions or inaction, He lets us face the consequences thought He Himself is merciful and gracious. He rejoices when we rejoice in the things that are close to His own heart. When we make the Lord our first love or our topmost priority, He makes us the top or a “tabernacle of peace.” The alternative is that we will spin like a top and come to a standstill in due course.

We need to rein back our passions or emotions, especially the powerful ones that can ruin our lives like anger, lust, lack of self control, lack of tolerance of an opponent’s viewpoint, pride and arrogance. The Lord sees the constant battle that is happening in our hearts that pull us in opposite directions. He sees our natural inclinations and tendencies and how we rebound from our moral and other failures. He rewards us based on our deeds as well as the motivation that lies behind our actions and words. The Lord is just and discerning. As a man sows so he reaps: this is a spiritual law just as the law of gravity operates across the universe. If we sow or invest in spiritual priorities, we are rewarded spiritually both in this life and in the hereafter. If we sow or invest in the works of the flesh and trust in our own strength or the strength of man, we also suffer the consequences.

Prateep V Philip

Monday, October 19, 2015

Spiritual Landscape

UV 1563/10000 Spiritual Landscape
For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and that spreadeth out her roots by the river, and shall not see when heat cometh, but her leaf shall be green; and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit.
Jeremiah 17 v 8

This beautiful uni-verse is a parallel to Psalm 1 verse 3 : “And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.” The Lord will make our lives evergreen. Our bones will not dry due to hopelessness. Even in the most hopeless situation, we will have hope. Who can guarantee our future like this except the Lord, our God? The Lord will nourish us with waters of many rivers- the Word, the Holy Spirit and the tributaries He causes to flow from our hearts as love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, humility and self control. These tributaries are life-giving and ever flowing. Our minds, souls and spirits are the hidden roots of our lives that spread out under ground in search of moisture or divine inspiration. Our souls should soak in worship and praise of the Lord. Then we will not feel the heat in times of drought or live vain, empty and useless lives. Our lives should be full of joy in the Holy Spirit, full of sap or the hope of eternal life. Sap in this context stands for “ spiritual attitudes and power.” The promises of God are like the oasis in the desert. The mountains are the challenges and problems we face but the source of all rivers are in the mountains and high places. The anointing of God is like a waterfall or cascade, a living fountain inside our souls. The trees are symbols of people who are rooted in faith and bearing fruit of character. The beasts are people who live and die without hope and trust in their Creator. If we live without hope, we will die without hope.

The Lord renews our strength as we absorb His word like a sponge would water, as drought -affected soil absorbs the first rain. We will then never cease from yielding fruit. The more we yield to the Lord, the greater would be our yield – both our blessings and the fruit or blessing we bring to the world. The words “ shall not see when heat cometh” is a huge promise that we will not experience the curses and afflictions of those who do not trust the Lord. We will not be ashamed in an evil time. We shall inherit the blessings on the earth and all spiritual blessings in Jesus of heaven and we shall never loose our inheritance- earthly, spiritual and heavenly. We might face difficulties and problems but the Lord will enable us to overcome. We will finally say that it was good it happened as it gave us a testimony which is evidence on which others can find hope and we ourselves are greatly strengthened for our next test. A life test that ends in more strength, more faith, more joy, more praise and more hope is what is called a testimony. If the Word is one root of eternal life, testimony of people like us is the other root.

The uni-verse clearly hints that there are different seasons in our lives but through all seasons, the Lord will be our stronghold and strength. He will vindicate us and see us through to victory in life. We will bear fruit or results when we are expected to and when we are not expected to and in unexpected ways. The supernatural and the miraculous will be a natural part of our lives. Our lives will not be either an unending test or an unending feast but the common thread or root that will hold us up in good times and bad times is the presence, hope and the love of the Lord.

Prateep V Philip

Sunday, October 18, 2015

The Two Commands of Jesus

UV 1562/10000 The Two Commands of Jesus
And to love him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the soul, and with all the strength, and to love his neighbour as himself, is more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.

Mark 12 v 33

The two commands to love God with all one’s heart and to love one’s neighbour as oneself encompass all the Ten Commandments given through Moses. For it implies that we will love and adore God passionately and honour His image in which we are made by aligning our thoughts and character as closely to His as possible. When our first love or passion is in the right place, all other love or passions will fall into their due place and be in balance. The first four commandments are our duties and obligations towards God while the second six commandments are related to humankind. The first command of Jesus ensures that we love, obey and serve God while the second command of Jesus keeps us from doing violence to our neighbour, our fellow beings. It keeps us from lying to him or her. It keeps us from stealing from him or her. It keeps us from damaging their names, reputations, carrying tales or bearing false witness. It keeps us from envying others. It keeps us from desiring to possess that which is legitimately his or hers. The Ten Commandments were negatively framed as prohibitions or injunctions not to do certain things. The Lord knows that mankind is afflicted by what psychologists call the “ embedded negative.” It is in our DNA and our psyche to do that which we are forbidden to do even from our birth and childhood. Our DNA wants us to disobey or do that which is not good for us in the long run. This is the reason why David wrote, “ In sin did my mother conceive me.” But original goodness preceded original sin. Now original goodness can also succeed original sin and deliberate as well as unintended sin. The Divine Nature of Jesus or dna wants us to obey or do that which is good for our well being. The two commands given by Jesus are not written in stone but on our hearts and minds by the Holy Spirit. These two are framed positively so that it not only encompasses the imperatives of the ten commandments but transcends these.

The old covenant which emphasized the ten commandments is like the engagement with mankind while the new covenant that hinges on the two commands given by Jesus is the wedding with those who pledge to love the Lord God as their first love, their greatest passion. The old covenant was but the shadow of the real thing to follow- the covenant of Jesus that had only two commands but ten thousand promises of divine help and inspiration. The Ten Commandments were like the minus sign or negative stroke while the two commands of Jesus is the downward sign that turns the minus into a plus or cross. The cross enables us to leverage on strengths and to overcome human weaknesses. The two commands of Jesus enables us to always stay on the side of goodness and not dabble or run the risk of dipping into evil. Jesus agreed with the scribe who said that these two commands outweigh religion, the show of outward piety and devotion through rituals and sacrifices. Jesus Himself through His life, death and resurrection obviated the need for further physical sacrifice or ritual.

We need to rely on Divine Nature or the DNA of God revealed in Jesus and not our own dna. He requires us to love His mercy, to walk humbly with Him and to do justly. We are not to just do it but do the just. The word “ just” implies that we should align our thoughts, words and deeds with the Lord’s. How do we know what is straight or correct or right? Not human standards and values that keep changing from generation to generation and age to age but the eternal values and principles embedded in the Word. Are we always able to follow or practice the two commands of Jesus? No, but we should keep trying. He fills the gaps in our belief and practice with His abounding grace and mercy. Our faithfulness and passion is measured in how hard and how often we try to practice these two commands. When we follow these two commands, we become inheritors of all the fourteen blessings of the Lord enumerated in the first fourteen verses of Deuteronomy chapter 29 and avoid all the curses of disobedience in the rest of the chapter.

Prateep V Philip

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Defining Now

Defining Now

And now, Israel, what doth the LORD thy God require of thee, but to fear the LORD thy God, to walk in all his ways, and to love him, and to serve the LORD thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul,

Deuteronomy 10 v 12

The definition of now is a period of two hours before and after this moment. A day then is a series of “nows”. A life too is won or lost in nows. The uni-verse emphasizes that if we regard ourselves as part of the spiritual Israel, we should stop resisting the Lord but to be always conscious of His presence and leading, to acknowledge Him in all our ways. All His ways should become all our ways. When we do all this we are truly loving Him with all our hearts and all our minds and all our strength. Nothing in our lives is excluded from the gaze and influence of the Lord and His Word. His Word makes our lives salty and influential. It will increase our passion for God and whet our appetite for the things of God. The question we need to ask ourselves is : what are we going to do “now”- in the past two hours, what did we do to revere the presence of the Lord in our lives, what did we do to imbibe His Word, what actions did we take to follow His leading, to align all our ways with His ways. How did we express our love for God in the past two hours and intend to in the next two hours?

When we identify the meaning of “now” with only the present moment, it becomes too transient and small to do anything. We end up doing little or nothing. But when we define “now” in terms of a couple of hours on both sides of the present moment, we are able to express our love in a variety of ways and identify our lives with the Creator and Redeemer. For instance, I worshipped the Lord sitting in the garden listening to a good number of new songs over the past two hours from six a.m. when I awoke. For the next couple of hours, I am meditating on this uni-verse. A window of time of two hours on this side and that side of the present moment is “now.” Scripture states that “ Now is the hour of salvation. Today is the day of salvation.” This kind of perspective on time makes us present-focussed.

The Lord exhorts us to love Him now and not in the indefinite future and to choose His ways now as it is good for us now and not in just an unspecified or indefinite future. It will benefit us the most. Israel as it struggled through the desert were led to an oasis called Elim. Elim had twelve wells and thirty palm trees that quenched their thirst and hunger. Human well being depends on twelve wells: the foremost is divine inspiration, followed by aspiration, perspiration, deep thought, good relationships, physical discipline, healthy habits, perfect communication, good attitudes, contentment, careful planning and execution. We were brought to life by the Lord with His breath. We were saved for eternity by the sacrificed blood of Jesus. Earlier blood sacrifices by Israel bought peace for a while. But now the new covenant sacrifice of Jesus is for once and for all. We can now continually breathe the breath of God- the Holy Spirit who sustains us and leads us. This deep well of divine inspiration is connected with eleven other wells – aspiration, perspiration, deep thought, good relationships, physical discipline, healthy habits, perfect or near perfect communication, good attitudes, contentment, careful planning and execution. The words " all your ways" in the uni-verse describes or sums up all these twelve wells of life. The thirty palms of Elim are the metaphor for the numerous challenges we face in our lives that enable us to grow spiritually, holistically and in all our ways to bear fruit.

Prateep V Philip

Friday, October 16, 2015

Pruning and Burning Tests

UV 1560/10000 Pruning and Burning Tests
The LORD is good, a strong hold in the day of trouble; and he knoweth them that trust in him.
Nahum 1 v 7

A spiritual stronghold is built on a belief on who God is or who we believe Him to be. On that foundation of belief is built, a series of thoughts, emotions, responses, words, actions and reactions. The Lord’s goodness is our source of strength. His complete goodness makes Him the most reliable and most effective source of help in our trials and troubles. We can confide in Him everything and anything. He is our recourse and resort, our refuge and shelter in the day of trouble. He is our comfort and counsellor. He becomes our stronghold when we place our trust in Him and His Word. Prayer and the Word are the shadows of the Almighty that are stronger than rock for rock can be drilled, cut through, blasted and shattered but not the power of prayer and the Word. These two channelize the strength and power of God in a quiet undemonstrative way to leaders and people who completely believe the Lord and trust Him to come to their help in days of trouble. The words “ day of trouble” shows that are testing times for leadership, for anyone who trusts in the Lord in order to prove and further strengthen our faith and deepen our relationship with the Lord.

But if our trust is complete and true, we will not wait for trouble to erupt before we turn to the Lord and pour out our hearts. We will continually communicate and resort to Him. He is not just the Rock but the fortress built on the Rock foundation. He is not just the fortress but He is the conqueror, the deliverer , the master of the fortress. He is not just the master, He is the buckler, the one who defends us with His sword, the Word. He is the high tower that shields us. He is the horn of salvation that proclaims victory for us in every situation and test. Yet His goodness cannot be taken for granted. We need to continually seek His wisdom and guidance. He cannot turn a blind eye to what is offensive in our lives. He needs to discipline us as a parent would a mischievous or rebellious child. If the Lord is not our stronghold, then other evil strongholds take a grip on our lives with a design to weaken, disempower and rob us of our power and potential. These strongholds build a nest in our minds and lives, twig by twig as a bird builds its nest.

He knows the quality of our faith, the extent, the depth. He knows our strengths, weaknesses, our fears and doubts, our desires and hopes. No man can exceed the limits of his strengths and weaknesses unless He seeks and secures the help of the Lord. For the Lord, SWOT means Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Tests. In our areas of strengths, He will show us our limits. In our areas of weaknesses, He will show us His strengths. He will give us grace to utilise opportunities that He sends our way. He will not let us be tested beyond our strength. From every test, we have a testimony of God’s goodness, help and blessing. With every test, those who truly trust Him will emerge better and not bitter. The Lord uses His deep and intimate knowledge of our inner selves to determine what tests and troubles we can withstand and endure, what will break us and make us or re-make us. The more we yield to His Spirit and trust His Word, the less stubborn and resistant to change we are, the less He has to work on us from inside. There are pruning tests and burning tests. He prunes us with tests, troubles and trials like an expert gardener so that no permanent damage is done but we get to bear more fruit. Sometimes, He takes us through a furnace of trials. The burning or furnace tests are the greatest tests of a person’s faith- disease, terrible accidents, bereavement, financial loss, break up of relationships. At a national scale, persecution, famines, drought, wars and pestilence are burning tests for large numbers of people. The good thing about the burning tests is that the Lord is closest to us during these times. He preserves us from complete burn-out with the clothing of His presence, comfort and strength. Since we are in a covenant relationship with the Lord, we can always pray, “ Lord, please send me pruning tests, if You will but not burning tests.”

Prateep V Philip

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Jacob's Well

UV 1559/10000 Jacob’s Well
O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee: my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is;
Psalm 63 v 1

Our lives without the Lord’s grace and mercy is like an arid desert - a place where there is no water and therefore cannot sustain life. But as Jesus told the Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well that with Him is the water of eternal life. Those who drink it will never thirst again. Jesus fulfils the need of the human soul for hope, love, mercy and grace as nothing else in this world can. The Word of God is Jacob’ s well for us where we can find Jesus and hear from Him the words of truth that will give us eternal life. In order to draw and drink from Jacob’s well we need to recognize our need for God. We should crave His mercy and grace as dry land in a period of drought thirsts for water. In order to be well, we need to draw water from “Jacob’s well”- the Word of Jesus. Like a desert traveller rejoices on seeing a well, we need to rejoice and delight in the Word. We often say, I am dying of thirst" meaning that we need to drink something to avoid death. But the Lord wants us to have a living thirst- a thirst for eternal life that will enable us to live fully and to live forever.

Water softens hardened and parched soil. So also the Word penetrates the pores of our souls and softens the soul to receive Jesus as He is the way, the truth and life. Everyone wants to know the way to success, to happiness, to prosperity, to immortality, to blessing, peace, to well being. The world is like a huge desert where there are no permanent paths, no roads, no signboards, no markers. The sands of change are constantly shifting. Jesus points the direction in which we should travel. We find our way to whatever we need through Jesus. In order to find Him, we need to commit to a personal relationship with Him where we invite Him to be our God. We need to seek Him early in life and early every day. The sequence is clear in the uni-verse: first, an invitation to the Lord to be our God, to enter and rule our lives is followed by an intense desire for His Word that reveals His will for our lives.

Our greatest longing in life should be for God. All other things should be secondary. The Lord promises to satisfy our thirst, our longing. His Word is the water that quenches our passions, fills us with wisdom, sows the seed of spiritual fruit, heals, strengthens and encourages, revives and renews, delivers and blesses. Longing for the Lord translates into delighting in the Word more than choice drink. Without the Lord and the Word, the world is but a valley of dry bones as seen by Elijah in his vision. The Word is what enables us to connect different parts of life to make sense of it all. Without the Word, we will become weary or tired and bored with what life has to offer us. With a constant intake of the Word, we will be able to run and not grow tired. To run implies to be enthusiastic or filled with the energy and passion of God. He is the Life-Giver and only when we are connected with Him more and more intimately will we find hope, meaning, purpose and power in this life. Without water, no plant can grow. Without the Lord and His Word in our lives, nothing can grow. With the Lord and His Word occupying the due place in our lives, we grow to our full potential. Jim Rohn wrote that “change is inevitable, growth is intentional.” Growth and fruitfulness is God intended. We only need to align ourselves with God’s design and not fight or resist it.

Prateep V Philip

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Dealing With Vanity and Futility

UV 1558/10000 Dealing with Vanity and Futility

Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity.

Ecclesiastes 1 v 2

The writer of the book of Ecclesiastes in scripture bemoans that “ vanity of vanities – all is vanity.” He found that pleasure, youth, wealth, accomplishments, sex, success, fame, beauty, work, scholarship, wisdom and knowledge were all a chasing of the wind. He found everything in life vain and futile or in short, meaningless. It is meaningless as it is tantalising and very often we end up where we started. The strong man becomes a weakling in his old age. The wise die just like the foolish. The wealthy leave their wealth to the unworthy. Life is full of sorrow and pain. It is meaningless as it is all transient and not lasting. The human senses and appetite for more is never ever satisfied. Without God in our lives, all these activities and pursuits are worth little and mean nothing. With God in control of our lives, every wisp of wind will begin to find meaning. All the happenings in our lives –both the good and bad, the joyful moments and sad ones too – will be rich in meaning. We will earn from success and learn from failure as we lean on the Lord and His word to gain a perspective and understanding in the light of eternity.

All that we value in life are but bubbles unless we include the Lord in our lives. When we love the Lord and His Word, everything becomes meaningful and a great blessing. We rejoice over every little wonder of nature that we observe. We develop a sense of balance and perspective. We will be fully committed to whatever we are doing and yet not get absorbed or attached to the fruit of our labour. We offer our entire lives as a living sacrifice to the Lord. He blesses and consecrates our every moment and effort. He gives us rewards in due time both in this lifetime and in the course of eternity. We have both hope and confidence that every effort of ours is not futile. He blesses our successors, our children and their children. We will neither be proud nor arrogant as we know that we are who we are only by the grace of God. He fills us with a sense of joy and gladness, with peace and the fruit of the Spirit of love, humility and kindness. He preserves us from lust from within and temptations from without. He will not let us be put to shame.

As a counter to the writer of Ecclesiastes, the man of faith can write, “ Everything is meaningful. “ We can feel fulfilled as we walk with the Lord in faith. He is the one who empowers us. Weakness and folly is bound in our hearts but He is the One who sets us free from both weakness , folly, emptiness and vanity. He vindicates us and preserves us from the envy of our foes. He satisfies us with what we need and gives us the abundant life. Jesus came to end our vain and futile lives. To replace every hamartia or shortcoming with the abundance of God. Life is no longer a chasing of the wind. It is full of meaning, purpose and power.
Prateep V Philip

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Green Pastures and Still Waters

UV 1557/10000 Green Pastures and Still Waters
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
Psalm 23 v 2

A leader has the role of a shepherd. He leads his followers to places of sustenance, opportunities to be blessed physically, mentally, spiritually and socially. These are referred to as “green pastures”. In the world, everyone is always looking for greener pastures or some improvement in their employment and emoluments, some improvement in the place they stay and the lifestyle they enjoy. People are never contented with what they have or where they have got to. But there are no greener pastures than what the Lord leads us to. He is the cause and source of Shalom or peace and prosperity. The “still waters” are a metaphor for peace while the “pastures” are a metaphor for prosperity. The abilities, talents and opportunities we have are also “green pastures”. Prosperity is useless unless it comes mixed with peace. Every promise of God written in scripture is a green pasture of heaven. It is provided freely like grass in the meadows. But it is our responsibility and response to graze, to chew on the promise and extract the nutrients to strengthen our inner being. Every holistic human need is met in the promises that I call uni-verses. We cannot chew on it just once in a week or once in while but daily and frequently. Chewing is meditating. The absorption of the nutrients is the distillation of spiritual wisdom from each verse and its practical application to our lives. Next to prayer, meditation is a great “still water.”

Peace is the absence of any permanent source of sorrow or grief. When God makes a man prosperous, He adds no sorrow to it. It implies that a person can become prosperous by his or her own brilliance, talents and efforts. But, if a sorrow is added, the prosperity becomes bitter. Peace is not the absence of worries. But by being prayer warriors, we cease to be worriers. Prayer gives us access to still waters. The Lord fills us with His peace, the kind of peace that passes human comprehension and apprehension. It is the peace that comes from a complete trust in our good Shepherd Jesus. In the course of His public ministry, Jesus is recorded to have handled every conceivable type of human problems- sickness, bereavement, storms, possession, financial challenge and every time shown mankind the victory of the Lord. This gives us the confidence that He can and will help us resolve every issue in our lives.

Another “still water” is just lying still in the presence of the Lord and knowing that He is supreme and sovereign, that He is in control and that He knows what we need and how to provide it. It is a quiet surrender of our total being to Him. Yet another “still water” to refresh us and to renew us, to satisfy our thirst is the Holy Spirit. We need to yield to the promptings and counsel of the Holy Spirit. Sheep do not move alone but move in flocks. Another still water the Lord calls us to is fellowship and unity in the spirit between believers. Where even two or three are gathered remembering the Lord, the Lord’s presence is guaranteed. The Lord’s presence is a still water that refreshes us and renews our strength. It is said, “ still waters run deep” implying that we need to communicate at a deep level with the Lord, at our deepest levels. We need to both listen and communicate.
Prateep V Philip

Monday, October 12, 2015

Be A Star Leader

UV 1556/10000 Be a Star Leader
And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever
Daniel 12 v 3

Leadership is not just influence but positive influence. The influence comes from wisdom and righteousness and not power or position or ability and accomplishment. Just as the stars declare the glory of God in the skies, godly leaders declare the glory of God on earth among mankind. Though there are a trillion stars in the universe, not one is exactly the same as the other. Leaders are stars in the eyes of the Lord, each a shining example forever and each unique and set apart. A leader by definition is one who leads people out of darkness, ignorance of God and His Word into His light and truth, into personal knowledge of the One who not only created us but redeemed us. The Book of Proverbs defines the wise as those who win souls for the Kingdom of God. Leaders who do not invest their lives in an everlasting purpose are but like fireflies that glow with some transient glory. Leaders are not worried about excessive or gross darkness in the world. They act as peacemakers, pace setters, problem solvers. The greater the darkness, the stars shine more brightly to light up the sky.

The stars and their formations are the ancient compass set in the sky for earthly sojourners to navigate their paths. Similarly, leaders help people navigate their lives and reach their divine destination. They become the cause and stimulus for changing the direction of people’s lives. Worldly leaders are set apart by their worldly knowledge- scientific, literary, economic or political. But godly leaders are set apart not by knowledge but by wisdom. The stars are an almost inexhaustible source of power and energy. Similarly, godly leaders have access to infinite power and energy. Their influence or light cuts through great distances and deep darkness. Just as stars have an orbit, leaders have certain positions and orbits in which the Lord has set them. They give out more light than they take.

The wise have a head star-t. They think ahead of priorities and focus on these. It implies that they start by allowing the Lord to touch and transform their thoughts, temperament, tongue, talent and time. They point people to Jesus who is the way, the truth and the life. They know they have no righteousness of their own and that it is the finished work of Jesus on the cross that makes them righteous in the eyes of the Lord. They build their lives and leadership on the solid rock principles embedded in the eternal Word of God and not the changing ideas, whims and thoughts of human beings. Though they develop amazing power and impact, they withdraw themselves to the background of the skies to remain tiny twinkling dots. They bow before the Sun of Righteousness and bask in His glory. Right through history numerous leaders in different fields including Newton and Edison have left their shining examples as star leaders who are bright, wise and righteous. In biblical times, Daniel and his three companions were star leaders. They excelled as much in saying , “No” to certain things as they said “ Yes “ to God. They subjected themselves to disciplining their appetite for the world and cultivating their taste for things of eternal value. They took a principled stand against the high and mighty of the land and were courageous enough to be willing to pay the price for it. They continue to inspire faith, hope, courage and integrity in succeeding generations of people of nationalities around the world while the memory of the great kings they served have only become faded or cited as examples of negative leadership or negative influence.

Prateep V Philip

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Metamorphic Leadership

UV 1555/10000 Metamorphic Leadership

And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.
Matthew 4 v 19

Other leaders ask their followers to follow them and keep them as followers all their lives while Jesus alone said, " Come and follow me and I will make you" a positive influence for the world, a leader, a leader of leaders, a leader-maker, a holistic leader, a truthful leader, a trained and discipled leader and a leader into eternity. He makes them too. It is metamorphic leadership. Instead of working for the mundane and perishable fishes and loaves of office or vocation, Jesus shifts the paradigm of leadership and management to a higher plane. This is the difference between a mere vocation and a calling. A calling meets an inner urge and an outward vision or a call of God. Instead, of working for men, we work for God. God will pay our wages or provide what is needed for our sustenance. Our perspective is transformed from the temporal and transient to the eternal. When Jesus said, “Follow me..”, He did not mean only physically but to follow what He says, to follow what He did and to follow Him where He went. The tracks of other leaders end at their grave but Jesus left a trail into eternity to follow Him into the Father’s mansion. The disciples journey begins and ends in Jesus. He does not lead us anywhere for He Himself is the commencer and finisher, He Himself is the way, truth and the life.

Jesus shows us that we need not feed fish to people or even teach them fishing but we only need to induce in them a belief that they too can fish or that they too can be saved and lead others to salvation. Jesus recognized that the greatest need of mankind is not food but salvation. The function of spiritual leadership is to point people to their salvation. A fisherman relies on his nets to catch fish while a leader depends on his network. He spreads his positive influence in the lives of people like salt spreads its flavour through an entire meal- invisibly, silently and without much fanfare. A fisherman always has his focus on the day’s catch while a leader has his focus on the impact of his whole life. Fishermen work in teams and never solo. Similarly, leaders need to work in teams. Fishermen are never contented catching a single fish or a few but they aim for abundance. Similarly, leaders aim to impact an abundant number of people.

The fisherman image can be extended to various professions in the contemporary world. If one is a physician, he now becomes through the call of Jesus a divine physician. If he is a police officer, he now becomes a watchman for the Lord. If a teacher, a teacher for the Lord. If a home-maker, a home-maker and keeper for the Lord. There is another implication of the fisherman metaphor: people without faith and hope in a living and loving God, without hope of living forever in fellowship with the Creator and Redeemer are like fish lying on the shore struggling for oxygen even though there is plenty of oxygen in the atmosphere. It is a strange case of “ oxygen, oxygen everywhere but not a molecule to breathe.” The oxygen needs to be mixed in water for the fish to breathe through its gills. Similarly, hope is plentifully mixed or dissolved in the Word. People need to be taught to swim in this living water instead of struggling and being desperate on dry land. Just as a fisherman needs to have certain natural strength, stamina, skills and discipline in order to fish successfully, in order to lead successfully, we need to use our natural gifts, skills and talents diligently, consistently and perseveringly. In the post-resurrection phase, Jesus again calls the disciples back from what seemed like a failed fishing trip by leading them into outstanding success and enabling them to catch abundant fish. So much so, the nets were filled to tearing point. Now their real calling as apostles to the world began. Similarly, outstanding success by divine enablement in our professions is not a confirmation that our calling is over or fulfilled but it might just be the beginning of a higher and deeper work of the Lord in and through our lives.

Prateep V Philip

Saturday, October 10, 2015

The Exception is the Rule in The Kingdom of God

UV 1554/10000 The Exception is the Rule In the Kingdom Of God
Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.
Luke 17 v 21

The kingdom of God lies within us and amongst us. How we lead and manage ourselves on a day to day basis tantamounts to God’s rule in our lives. God is sovereign in our lives. His Word is the law written in our hearts and minds. The kingdom of God does not have a physical location in time and space but it is where we are and it is inside us. Are our thoughts, desires and emotions directed and centered on Jesus, the author and finisher of life? The answer to this question determines whether the kingdom of God lies within us? Do we have a constant sense of the presence of the Lord that fills us with reverence and awe ?Are our hearts filled with an understanding of the agape love of God? Are we availing His grace to live from moment to moment?

Do we experience the freedom, joy and blessedness inside of us that comes from living a life that is pleasing and acceptable to the Lord, the Creator, Ruler and Redeemer of the world and of heaven? The answer to this question will enable us to test if the kingdom of God lies within us. Do we look to the Lord for enablement, empowerment and enrichment as He is the King or do we look to our own efforts, our connections or to other people? Do we seek the Lord’s help in resolving issues in our lives, to solve problems and to deal with difficulties and challenges? We should know that He is not only the Creator and Redeemer but He is the law giver, the law adjudicator and the executor. We realize that we are not just ordinary citizens or subjects of the kingdom of God but we too are kings having authority over the spiritual realms. We can be instruments or agencies to manifest the grace, greatness and power of God in everyday life.

When we are part of the kingdom of God, we have an abundance mentality. We are not bound by limitations in time, resources or ability. We do not wait till we get to heaven to practice a heavenly attitude, mentality and temperament. The love, power, wisdom, glory and grace of God can be perceived here and now and in so perceiving we are both transformed and we become transformers. We influence other people too that they too can experience the kingdom of God here on earth. As citizens of the kingdom of God, we exhibit the qualities and do the things described by Jesus in the sermon on the mount. We practice a poverty of spirit regardless of our status, achievements or success in life. It implies that we know we are always beholden to the Lord for salvation by grace. We will never show a trace of arrogance, pride or conceit. We will be contrite and broken before Him. We display a zeal for righteousness in the practice of our faith and in leading our lives in practical or real ways. When we are insulted, persecuted or harmed in any way for reasons of our faith and allegiance to Jesus, we comfort ourselves with the example of Jesus and the hope of rewards at His hand in His time. We will go to the Lord for comfort in the areas of our sorrows and pains frequently and without hesitation. He becomes the first resort of our comfort and counsel. We will do our best to maintain a pure, principled and chaste life style with discipline and integrity of heart without developing a judgemental, hypocritical or hypercritical view of others, extending to others the same benefit of faith and mercy the Lord extended to us in His grace. As we practice these qualities, we are greatly blessed and we become a blessing. To be blessed is to be exceptional. Joseph was exceptional among his brothers. David was exceptional among his brothers. We have heard this saying, “ It is the exception not the rule.” But in the kingdom of God, the exception becomes the rule. The ordinary are called into the kingdom of God but they are made exceptional through their encounter with Jesus, the King in a kingdom of spiritual kings.
Prateep V Philip

Friday, October 9, 2015

Our Stance Determines Our Circumstance

UV 1553/10000 Our Stance Determines Our Circumstance
And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom.

Luke 23 v 42

The two thieves were in exactly the same circumstances. Both admittedly had a similar past of crime. Both were condemned to die under Roman law. Both were crucified equidistant from the cross on which Jesus was crucified. Both were in the immediate presence of the King of the universe, the Prince of Heaven, the Commander in Chief of the armies of angels and archangels. Both had heard testimonies about the awesome miracles that accompanied the amazing words of Jesus. Both were disgraced and were in great physical pain. Both were powerless and dying for certain within a few hours. One mocked Jesus and challenged Him to prove that He was the Messiah, the Saviour. The other defended Him and believed that He could save Him in the after life. The individual responses to Jesus determines the fate of either. Today as yesterday and the day before and tomorrow, we human beings are born in exactly the same circumstances. We are born sinful or having a tendency to come short of God’s standards.

We can mock God or Jesus by challenging them to prove they exist or like the thief who believed Jesus to be the Messiah, the soon and coming King of eternity, we can trust Jesus to be our transport to the better life for eternal life begins the moment one trusts Jesus and not after one dies. It begins here and now. The thief was the first to gain entrance into paradise soon after the death of Jesus and the thief himself. Jesus had transformed his destiny from being thief to chief for every saved person is a chief, a servant leader, a servant king. The thief had received salvation that the chief priest of the day could not and did not. We receive grace to experience glory. The thief’s life had ended in a blaze of glory not because of anything he had done or not done. He himself felt that he deserved death and eternal death but in Jesus he saw the hope of eternal glory. The other thief condemned himself further by his own words and attitude. Having been condemned to death, he should not have added to his condemnation further but repented and turned to Jesus for salvation. We too should not add to our condemnation or our guilt by anything we say or think.

The thief who believed Jesus was neither naïve nor innocent. He had been hardened by a life of crime and struggle. Yet he allowed the Holy Spirit to soften his heart to receive the words of salvation. His was a life of failure that ended in success in a world where even the astoundingly successful end their lives in failure if they do not have belief in the after life and the hope of salvation. Jesus did not offer the thief a false hope, a sop or straw to hold onto as all three of them sank into death but He gave him the certainty of being with Him in paradise that very day. Despite His own pain, the physical pain and the pain of being separated from the Father by the guilt of mankind heaped on His shoulders, Jesus was mindful of the contrite thief. Similarly, when we are contrite and faithful, Jesus is mindful of us. Like the thief, we have entered this day into the Kingdom of God. God rules over our lives. All is not well with the world but it is well with my soul to know I am redeemed. I no longer have the guilt of my past haunting me. Instead, I am enlivened by my hope and certainty of eternal life in Jesus and with Jesus. When hope and certitude coincide that attitude is called faith. Our stance of faith determines and alters our circumstances from one of powerlessness, guilt and hopelessness into one of power, love, forgiveness and hope.

Prateep V Philip

Thursday, October 8, 2015

True Followership

UV 1552/10000 True Followership
Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.
Matthew 16 v 24

The cross an instrument of slow execution, a demonstration of absolute human cruelty and greatest public disgrace became the symbol within a few days after the execution of Jesus of the absolute mercy and grace of God. In fact, the thief on the cross received salvation and hope of eternal life while still dying on the cross. It implied that anyone who placed his or her faith in the finished work of Jesus on the cross would have hope and eternal life from then on till the end of time. Even in the most hopeless situation and for the most hopeless person, the light of God’s love and the power of His grace would begin to work. We need to understand the concept of true followership before we can understand what is true leadership.

Today, being a follower does not cost anything at least on Twitter, Facebook and other social media. It does not require our commitment or belief in the ideas and thoughts of the one we are following on social media. The follower is faceless and voiceless. But Jesus taught his disciples even before He ascended the cross that they too should deny themselves and take up His cross in order to follow Him. It implies that any follower of Jesus should deny his own lusts and desires and give priority to the will of God in their lives. It costs us our sinful desires and passions to follow Jesus. We should be willing to say “ No” to our sinful selves and say, “ Yes “ to Jesus. Why does Jesus compare the process of sanctification to dying on the cross? It is painful. One’s ego begins to die as we stop feeding it. Till then we lived for our own gratification or our own glory. Hereafter, we live for the satisfaction of God’s will and the glory of God.

We cannot be a true leader without being a true follower of Jesus. True followship implies that we need to offer our bodies daily as a living sacrifice and subject our minds to the discipline of the Word. Jesus urged his followers to sit down and calculate the cost of following him just as Proverbs says, “Even a fool will sit down and calculate the cost of a pillar he is planning to erect.” Yes, we are building a pillar in the kingdom of God, brick by brick, moment by moment, day by day, act by act, word by word and even thought by thought. We need to discipline our appetite for the world. We need to run filters on our thoughts and speech. We need to make a covenant with our eyes and our intellect not to entertain sexual lust. The act of Abraham attempting to sacrifice his only son Isaac on Mount Moriah implies that we should offer our lives as a daily sacrifice to the Lord in response to what He did on the cross to ransom us, to purchase for us so great a salvation. Abraham offered his first love, His only son Isaac to the Lord. Similarly, we need to offer our first love to the Lord. He does not want our dead sacrifices but He does want a living sacrifice. It might cost us our whole lives, all our talents, abilities, resources. It might seem scary at first that we are going to loose all to the Lord. The actual fact is that we stand to loose only all our negativities. True followship means that the Lord will remain our first love, our greatest passion for the rest of our lives. The passion of Jesus and the passion for Jesus will fan all our positivities into full flame. The cross that Jesus bore was to begin with a shameful cross. On His shoulders were heaped all the sin of mankind. The cross that we bear as followers is a glorious cross, a symbol of victory over sin, death, failure, misery, pride, lust and all that drags us into the dust.

Prateep V Philip

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Success-Failure as A God-Ordained Pattern

UV 1551/10000 Success-Failure as A God-Ordained Pattern
Thou shalt also decree a thing, and it shall be established unto thee: and the light shall shine upon thy ways.
Job 22 v 28

Leadership is rulership. If one does not rule over oneself and one’s actions and passions, then he does not and cannot rule or lead others. Decision making is a key aspect of leadership. Like rulers we decree and not just decide. When we decree with faith in God and His Word, then our decision is invested with the authority, power and blessing of the Lord and nothing in all the universe and the spiritual world can conspire against it. A decree is signed under the authority of a ruler. When we decide a thing, our spirit, mind and body should back it to the hilt and so nothing can halt it. If our decisions are aligned with the will and Word of God, He shall establish it for us and cause the light of His glory and grace to shine upon all that we do to execute that which we have decreed. Is our decision in keeping with the ordinances and statutes of God’s Word? A decision is not mere intention. The forming of the intent is just the initiation or the very initial stage. It is comparable to striking a match to light a fire. It requires a vision of the end result that we want established. It requires the vision to be translated into goals. The goals need to be then incorporated into a comprehensive plan. The plan needs to be executed with doing all that needs to be done thereafter in accordance with the intent, the vision, the goals and the plan.

The Kingdom of God is participatory democracy at its perfect best. We need to take every decision and decree it or proclaim it. God will not take the decision on our behalf or proclaim it. Our spirits should not be wavering. Our minds should not entertain doubts whether or not it will happen. The unstable mind or the wavering spirit will not receive anything from the hand of the Lord. We will see things with the clarity of daylight and pursue that which we decreed or decided with determination, confidence and faith. The Lord will not interfere with our efforts but will nudge us or guide us with His unseen hand. His peace and His presence will guide us till that which we decreed is established.
We need to acknowledge or trust Him in all our ways and not distrust or doubt that He can make even the impossible possible. We need to do due diligence on our part and not test God by not doing all that lies with us to do. We even need to go the extra mile in terms of being proactive and in terms of doing our very best. It also does not mean that the believer will not experience failure. Sometimes, the Lord teaches and establishes us through a series of failures that lead us to midstream corrections. He might want to help us learn something truly great and deep in a moment of failure that we cannot learn through success. Often, after a series of failures, we will experience outstanding success. From our perspective, we evaluate ourselves as successes or failures after each event or outcome but for the Lord, He is looking for the success-failure pattern. Success-failure is a pattern and not a one-off event or result. Our personalities are strength-weakness patterns and our lives are success-failure patterns. The Lord whose Name is Jehovah Nissi or Jehovah the Successful One is more concerned that the finishing point of the pattern is success. God declares our lives a success when we begin our lives in Jesus and end in Jesus who experienced absolute penalty of absolute sin, absolute disgrace, absolute desertion, absolute failure , absolute powerlessness and turned all of these into absolute success. Contrast this teaching with the heresy that the Pope spoke of recently when he said that Jesus ended his life in failure on the cross. E We live in an age where success is deified and worshipped as a demi-god and failure decried. But the Word reveals that we learn and are most benefitted from a mix of success and failure. All things- both success and failure add up to good for those who love Him and trust in His name.

Prateep V Philip

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Setting Up Inner Alarms

UV 1550/10000 Setting up Inner Alarms

For his anger endureth but a moment; in his favour is life: weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.

Psalm 30 v 5

We are in a covenant relationship with the Lord. It is the grace of Jesus that we who are sinful and mortal are elevated to an equal footing with God who is infinite, holy and all powerful. A covenant relationship is one that endures like the most lasting of ties on earth-marriage. It endures the ups and downs in our fortunes, our emotions and other upheavals. Sometimes, we might even provoke the displeasure or anger of God. However, the anger of the Lord does not last forever. The moment we truly repent of that which caused His anger, it turns to favour or grace. His grace gives us the experience and joy of abundant and eternal life. He turns our sorrows into joy, our tears into laughter. He is the morning star or the Sun of Righteousness. When He is pleased with us and smiles on us, we receive healing and blessing from His Word that is like the rays of light from the morning sun.

The Psalmist surprisingly describes His loving kindness or grace better than life. It implies that we should desire to live a life pleasing to the Lord more than we desire life itself. We need to continually thank and praise the Lord for His goodness. We should be like the prism that splits the white light into the seven constituent colours: the seven colours stand for seven blessings of the covenant that are part of the saving grace of the Lord: His presence with us, salvation and deliverance, a double portion of blessings in our areas of need, prosperity, victory over foes and enemies, blessings on the family and anointing. Together, these seven blessings constitute Shalom or wholesome peace and prosperity.
The enemy of our soul is constantly conspiring to rob, kill, steal and destroy our peace and joy. He attempts to rob us of our seven fold blessings. He robs us of our mental peace, our physical health, our prosperity. He attempts to disturb our relationships with each other sowing seeds of dissension. But Jesus guarantees us as no one else can that the peace and joy that He gives us cannot be stolen, robbed, destroyed or taken away by anyone. Angels or ministering spirits are sent to us for our physical security while the Holy Spirit is sent to us to guard our inner peace and joy. Whenever something happens to take away our inner peace and joy, we should recognize that this is not from God. We should not wrongly attribute it to the anger of God but to the acts of the thief of peace, joy and well being. We should set up the equivalent of burglar alarms to wake us up whenever we are under attack. The alarm can be a wrong tone of voice, a negative word or attitude, a downswing of our mood, a tendency to withdraw into oneself, a sharp reaction to something someone said or did, prayerlessness and so on.
Prateep V Philip

Monday, October 5, 2015

Dealing WIth the Fox of Anger and Rage

UV 1549/10000 Dealing with the Fox of Anger and Rage
Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath:
James 1 v 19

To be slow to speak and slow to wrath is the very characteristic of God. We imitate Him when we are slow to speak, quick to listen and slow to get angry. Jesus became angry only once in His entire public ministry when He saw the temple being desecrated and turned into a marketplace. He excelled in gentleness as no other ruler or leader did. This is the reason He is referred to in the book of Revelation as the Lamb upon the throne. In the book of Isaiah, He is referred to as one who would not break a reed.

Anger can be used effectively but it should be under one’s control. One who rules over his or her own spirit will not yield to a habit of showing anger or loose one’s temper. A person with uncontrolled anger is compared to a city without walls or without any defences. Anger is manifested in many ways at the individual, national and global levels. It manifests as disease in individuals, strife and quarrels in homes, street fights, riots, terrorism and wars. Anger, scripture says, dwells in the bosom of fools. It makes one hasty to speak one’s mind. The one who has perfected his self control is slow to speak. He is not in a hurry to express his views. Instead, he speaks with a lot of careful listening and careful thought.

Anger is a dangerous emotion. Last week a young man in a small town in Oregon, USA shot dead people as he was angry with people who had faith in Jesus. In another place in northern India, a mob murdered a man who had allegedly killed a cow. Instead, of expressing anger in these insane ways and destroying others and oneself, people need to learn to listen to God, their own conscience and better selves and calm their emotions. The Word of God as it contains eternal and living truths or practical truths builds defences inside a human being against such destructive thoughts, emotions and actions. Intolerance and hatred for people with other points of view, beliefs, convictions, practices surfaces as anger and violence. Cain became angry with Abel for offering a better sacrifice and winning the favour of God. Instead, he should have listened to the voice of God telling him to be wholehearted in his worship and sacrifice. It led to the murder of Abel and a curse on Cain. The ones who resort to violence and anger are the sons and daughters of Cain. They are unable to rule themselves and roam the earth restless, having no peace within themselves, they become agents of strife and folly all through their lives. Ruling oneself implies dealing with the negative thoughts, emotions and words in one’s own mind and heart. The remedy the Word offers is to slow down our emotions and our expression of it, to introspect and allow the Spirit of God to work within and bring healing to the inner man.

Prateep V Philip

Sunday, October 4, 2015

The Circle of Life, Strength, Joy and Love

UV 1548/10000 The Circle of Life, Strength, Joy and Love

I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last.

Revelation 22 v 13

Everything in this universe rotates or revolves around something else. But who or what is the pivot around which the whole universe and therefore our lives should revolve? This uni-verse helps us get a perspective or a grab on the big picture. We can visualize Alpha as the origin point around which a perfect circle is drawn. The circle itself is Omega. Jesus is the author of our life and He is the finisher. He is at the starting point with us and with us at the finishing point and thereafter. This circle represents the universe of our existence. Everything that happens in our lives are circles or sub sets within this universe. When we are dealing with faith as a religion, it is a separate circle from the rest of life that we ourselves draw. When faith in Jesus is the large circle enclosing all the areas and aspects of life, it is no longer religion but practical spirituality. The Word is the compass that enables us to draw the circles around all the areas of our lives whereby we can cut out what is not permissible or pleasing to the Lord and grow what is pleasing and permissible. Many of these circles overlap and intersect each other. For instance, how we think and speak affects our health. How we plan and execute affects the fulfillment of our dreams and goals. Invariably, there is a gap, shortcoming or hamartia in reality. Scripture says that “we fall short of the glory of God.” Faith enables us to avail the grace or strength of Jesus to fill the gaps in our efforts, the gaps in our performance, the gaps in our resources, the gaps in our relationships and emotions. Jesus fills these gaps so that we do not fall short of God’s amazing, awesome, abundant glory and grace. The consistent emotion or feeling the Lord wants us to experience despite our circumstances is joyfulness. The consistent belief He wants us to hold is that we are strong in Christ despite our weaknesses and frailties.

Jesus is the One who is and was and is to come. The earth might be 450 million years old but it is as good as yesterday for Jesus. He sees and controls as much into the future as into the past. He encompasses our past, present, future and eternity. Jesus said wisely, “ Each day brings its own troubles.” He is with us in the midst of the troubles and challenges we face right now and through the day. He gives us grace or strength to bear and leads us to victory moment by moment. We only need to willingly subject all the smaller circles within the larger circle of our lives to the Lord to His discipline, His guidance, His blessing. He surrounds us in all directions or in 360 degrees all through the year and all through our lives. The smaller circles represent our work, our family, our dreams, our needs, our burdens or challenges, our health, our finances, our expectations. All our fountains lie in His circle of protection and provision and guidance. All our sources of strength lie in Him.

Jesus draws and re-draws some of the circles in our lives within the larger circle of His love. We cannot hide any area from Him. He knows our past, present and future as well as our eternal potential. He trims the hedges around our lives as an expert gardener would. He draws the boundaries not to imprison us but to give us greater and greater freedom and blessing. He brings each area of our lives to fulfillment. Jesus wants the circle of life and love to coincide. He does not want these circles to be drawn in a vacuum or a perfect isolated atmosphere but in the real world of difficult people and circumstances. He does not insulate us from the real world but He builds our resilience from within.

Prateep V Philip

Saturday, October 3, 2015

The HIerarchy of Knowledge

UV 1547/10000 The Hierarchy of Knowledge
Wisdom and knowledge is granted unto thee; and I will give thee riches, and wealth, and honour, such as none of the kings have had that have been before thee, neither shall there any after thee have the like.
2 Chronicles 1 v 12

The Bible is called with purpose as “The Book” with a meaning and purpose. In no other book a word spoken to some person in the past will or can come alive for the current or contemporary reader. Though this uni-verse is spoken to Solomon as God is pleased with his prayer for wisdom rather than the goodies of this world: riches, honour, victory over enemies, longevity. Th Lord tells him that as he asked only for wisdom, He is pleased to grant him in addition riches, wealth, honour and each of these in such measure that it will outweigh that of any other king before or after him. Solomon even today is regarded as the wisest and wealthiest of kings of mankind. But the amazing thing is that this is not just a historic promise to a king but holds true for any believer even today. Solomon had the heart of a servant king. This is the reason he sought wisdom to serve his people better. Our motivation to get wisdom should not be our own well being, wealth, fame or honour but to serve His people better, to lead better as servant-kings. Solomon himself strayed from this path by marrying far too women of diverse cultures and being influenced by them. But the Son of God Jesus proved Himself to be the ultimate Servant-King, the personification of spiritual wisdom though it might seem foolishness to the worldly.

Knowledge is the leader’s edge or it is what give s him advantage. The hierarchy of knowledge is such that misinformation is at the base. The first step leading out of the pit of misinformation is data, followed by information, followed by knowledge, insight, understanding and finally, wisdom. The higher one’s leadership responsibility, the more one should operate out of the higher rungs of knowledge but the reality is that most leaders operate out of a mix of the first three levels only. It is indeed an irony that man first erred in the pursuit and desire for knowledge and continues to do so in pursuing all kinds of knowledge. These pursuits are like paths of red herrings that lead us away from true wisdom. Knowledge, insight, understanding and wisdom are of different types. There is considerable overlap between these categories. But wisdom that is the equivalent of the infra range of the light spectrum is the most valuable. Wisdom is of two types: worldly wisdom that helps one get ahead of the competition in this world and spiritual wisdom that is pure, peaceable, gentle, humble. It is not wisdom of this world or the wisdom of mankind but the wisdom of God. It is the wisdom that is hidden in the Word of God and is revealed by the Holy Spirit when we devote ourselves to its study and meditation thereon. The path to spiritual wisdom does not mean that we should progress step by step from misinformation to information to knowledge to understanding to worldly wisdom and then onto spiritual wisdom. We can take an elevator ride bypassing all these steps straight to spiritual wisdom and we will also be rich in knowledge and understanding.

The fear of God or respect and reverence expressed in faith and love of God acknowledges that the source of all true wisdom is God Himself. Wisdom is knowing and aligning oneself with the will of God. The Word reveals the will of God. He does not reveal all of it at once. He reveals it to us as we need it- line by line, precept by precept. We need to derive a principle from each verse and turn that into an act of obedience and eventually into a practice or a habit. Once we operate out of godly wisdom, the Lord who is the giver of good gifts to His children has no hesitation in granting riches, honour, long life in addition to the blessing of wisdom. Obtaining the spiritual wisdom of Jesus is the first step of being greatly blessed but it is not the end of our blessings but the beginning. The fear of the Lord is the beginning not just of wisdom but of wealth, honour and long life leading onto eternal life.

Prateep V Philip

Friday, October 2, 2015

Dealing With the Foxes of Gossip and Slander

UV 1546/10000 Dealing With the Foxes of Gossip and Slander
Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers
Romans 1 v 29

The talebearer sows strife like wood that is set on fire gives forth smoke. Just as smoke spreads in all directions carried by the wind, by word of mouth people’s lives, reputations, joy, families and well being are harmed. Scripture states that the gossip loves to hear tales and spread it about others. But this trait is hated by the Lord. It is in fact a characteristic of the enemy of our souls- to be an accuser who falsely accuses the brethren. Gossip and slander are two sly foxes that need to be trapped before it traps us.

The motive of gossip and slander is to make others look bad and in that the one who gossips will appear better. It is caused by envy and jealousy. Even lending our ears to such gossip and slander will make us equally liable. It is the pastime of the idle or busybodies. It is invariably done behind the back of the person we are speaking evil about and is therefore called “backbiting”. It is as if the foxes have attacked someone from the unsuspecting rear and ran off with a piece of his flesh. It causes much pain and harm in the lives of people.

Jesus expects us to be severe or at least truthful in judging ourselves and in being gentle and gracious in judging others. The spirit of judging others most often unjustly without giving them an opportunity to defend themselves and without any evidence amounts to taking the place of God. A “ whisperer” or a gossip monger separates close friends and sows the seed of discord. He resorts to deceit, lying and malice in order to achieve his object. People who flatter us in our presence are bound to resort to stabbing us in the back when we are absent. Such duplicity does not please the Lord and harms the fruitfulness of our lives. These foxes need to be trapped early and sent scurrying with their tails aflame lest they set lives on fire with their sordid tales.

Prateep V Philip

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Dealing With The Twin Foxes of The Fear of Death and Death

UV 1545/10000 Dealing With the Universal Fox of the Fear of Death
O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?

I Corinthians 15 v 55

From the very beginning of time ,the common enemy of man is death, was death and will be death. It robs kings of their glory, the wealthy of their pride, the famous of their renown, the powerful of their pelf, the common people of their hope. Death is the great leveller that brought Pharaoh and commoner to the ground. The grave defined the destiny of mankind. The grave became the door of the great unknown. The fear of death therefore envelops all of mankind from the least to the greatest. The fear of death is a fox that morphs at times as a snarling wolf and a roaring lion. It is not only cowards that fear death but every human being does. Dealing with death and the fear of death is the common need of every human being ever born into this world. Death gets its power from the fact that it is irrevocable. It gets its power from the sinfulness of the human being. It gets its power from the fact that God’s law itself defines sin and prescribes death as its wages or payment. As long as man lived and died in sin or a state of being spiritually unclean, incomplete or unfinished, death would hold him prisoner and the thought or fear of death would keep stinging him like a bee.

There is no other text or no other life that so comprehensively overcame death and promised eternity that does not wait till we die but commences at the first point of belief or faith in the life, death, resurrection and words of Jesus. The Unique Saving Proposition (USP) of Jesus and the gospel of Jesus is that He alone embraced death in its most cruel form and overcame it. Not only did He overcome it by taking His life back as He lived sinless and death had no power or authority to withhold it, He gave the right to anyone who believed in Him and His promise of eternal life would live forever beyond the grave. Pope Francis recently said that Jesus ended His life in utter failure. He could not be more wrong unless he hides under the cloak of infallibility. Jesus embraced absolute failure and shame but He overcame it and came out of it absolutely triumphant. Hereafter, anyone who lives believing in His triumph would treat death as only the sting of a bee. He could brush it off like the sting of a bee. It might hurt for a while the people who survive the believer who dies physically but for him or her, death is the happiest moment, the entrance to his or her rewards for a life of faith to be enjoyed for eternity. Jesus becomes the door to eternal life through which anyone can enter who believes. He is the all conquering hero who has conquered death and enables every believer to conquer death and the haunting fear of death is banished forever. Satan is the defeated foe – the killer who is defeated and destroyed. The lion’s carcass in which a beehive thrives that Samson makes a riddle out of is symbolic of the defeat of satan. The honey dripping from the beehive is a metaphor for the sweet and precious, life-strengthening, faith-enhancing promises of scripture that Jesus has given us the right to claim.

As a youth I would often say in my youthful brashness
“ what is the worst that can happen ? I would die. So what?” The Lord took me through two near death experiences to realize the full significance of my words. The worst thing that can happen to anyone is to die without hope of living forever in the presence of the Redeemer. Sure, my Redeemer lives but will I live in the presence of the Redeemer ? That is defined or secured by my faith and its expression here and now. The gospel is the perfect and complete antidote to death and the fear of death. I once wrote these lines: “ Gospel- go spell it out , by the way we live. Don’t talk of hell, No need to yell.” Jesus shifted the paradigm of justice from sin and judgement to grace and faith. Faith fills the gaps between us and the absolute standards of God. Faith fills the gaps in our understanding with wisdom from above. Faith fills the gaps in our relationships. Once we are liberated from death and the fear of death, the Lord gives us so much hope and freedom that we think and act as if we live forever. The tail of the fox of the fear of death becomes our firebrand to throw light on our paths. Death and the fear of death will literally turn tail and seeing us approach would speed away in the opposite direction. We now have the power to defy death, to challenge it and to even command it.

Prateep V Philip