Monday, February 29, 2016

The Threshing Process

UV 1686/10000 The Threshing Process
Arise and thresh, O daughter of Zion: for I will make thine horn iron, and I will make thy hoofs brass: and thou shalt beat in pieces many people: and I will consecrate their gain unto the LORD, and their substance unto the Lord of the whole earth.
Micah 4 v 13

The people from all nations will be gathered as sheaves of grain in the threshing floor of the Lord of the harvest. The faithful are given the task and responsibility to thresh the sheaves. They will be given strength and power and grace to do so by the power of the Holy Spirit. The metaphor used is one of a strong threshing bull with hoofs of brass and horns of iron. The grain or the souls that are collected by such a process of threshing are the gain or profit that is dedicated or consecrated to the Lord.

The source of power for labourers in the field is the food that they eat and the labour that they do turns their bodies strong and sinewy. Similarly, the labourers in the field of the Lord are given strength and power by imbibing and consuming the commands, promises and precepts, by practicing the principles, upholding the values, emulating and being inspired by the models of faithful men and women who lived by faith. The sowing and growing is done by the Lord. The faithful who are called the “daughter of Zion”, the bride of Christ or the church are asked to do just the threshing. We are to arise and thresh, to separate the grain from the straw and chaff. The whole process of discipleship is nothing but threshing, separating the grain or what is useful from that which is of little or no use for human beings. The troubles and tribulations we go through in life are also part of the process of threshing so that we develop a right order of priorities, so that our character is perfected, our strength to endure is built up.

The substance or material goods that we own are dedicated to the Lord of the whole earth and universe. We are to use our resources and earnings to bless the kingdom of God. The kingdom of God is not one of eating and drinking or festivities or accumulation of gain but it is peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. Our material gain is not the end of life but a means to an end. This kind of perspective will give us a sense of contentment and enable us to be useful for others. Of course, our need will be met for a worker as Jesus said is entitled to his wages. But we will be freed from identifying the source of our happiness with material or monetary possessions or wealth. We will be freed from the illusion that they will provide us permanent security. As Jesus said, “ Man does not live on bread alone but on every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.” It implies that we need bread or money or the wherewithal to survive and live in comfort but we live the abundant and eternal life by dwelling on, relying on, believing and appropriating the benefit from every word that the Lord has spoken to us in different ways.

Prateep V Philip

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Twin Purposes

UV 1685/10000 Twin Purposes
For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps:
I Peter 2 v 21

From the human perspective, we define the purpose of life to be the pursuit of happiness. In contrast, the Word of God says that the purpose of life is to participate or partake in the suffering of Christ for right reasons or just causes, not for doing wrong or due to our personal blunders or unwise decisions. It is also to participate in the glory of Christ for though Christ suffered much during His life on earth and He now enjoys eternal glory at the right hand of the Father. The suffering of Christ was extreme while our suffering is much less in comparison regardless of what we have gone through, are going through or will go through. The Lord gives us grace during our times of suffering so that we can endure it. Enduring the cross of suffering is what is meant by denying oneself and taking up the cross as opposed to gratifying oneself and satisfying one’s desires in the pursuit of his or her happiness. Suffering is intended to perfect us, to make us mature or robust in faith so that nothing and no one can shake our faith in the Lord. We should follow in the steps of Christ in not complaining and accepting suffering willingly. Suffering teaches us to be patient, in not second guessing the Lord and waiting for His will to be revealed and fulfilled.

Our suffering for the sake of righteousness is neither endless nor unlimited. Once we have suffered , like Jesus we too enter into our rest or times of peace and reward. The second purpose of the Lord for our lives is that we partake or participate in the glory or greatness of God. Like Jesus, we need to always point all the glory and greatness to our Father in heaven. An example of God’s glory being revealed in a man’s life is that of the young boy David being emboldened and enabled to defeat and slay the giant warrior Goliath. The glory of God enables a God-inspired ant (Gi-ant) to confront and overcome any giant. The operative belief that empowers and enables us is -greater is He that is in us and with us and for us and he that is with them.

Hence, suffering is meant to test and purify our faith, develop our patience and strengthen our character. Glory is meant to reveal the goodness and awesomeness of the Lord. Glory is also meant to encourage and edify or build up our faith further. We should not grumble during our times of suffering nor should we become proud in the times of glory. David did not gloat over his amazing victory over Goliath. He attributed all the glory to the fact that he went against Goliath in the name of the Lord. Neither suffering nor glory should increase our distance from the Lord but cause us to walk more intimately with Him. We find that life is neither a bed of roses nor of unmitigated thorns or sorrows but a balanced mix of suffering and glory.

Prateep V Philip

Thursday, February 25, 2016

The Paradox of Priest and King

UV 1684/10000 The Paradox of Priest and King
But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light
I Peter 2 v 9

In every generation, the believers are the ones chosen by the Lord. They are chosen not just for inheriting salvation or eternal life but to serve as royal priests or as kings and priests. “Many are called but few are chosen.” We are called and chosen as we respond to the call of Jesus with repentance at our sins and joy at our redemption therefrom. Tears are followed by laughter. On earth, the chosen are called the elite who are entitled and exclusive. But, we the chosen are not the elite but the elect of God – servant leaders in the mould of Jesus. We are called to be a righteous nation of which Jesus is the King and High Priest. As kings, we need to administer spiritual gifts and exercise authority on earth. As priests, we are to offer praises to the One who choose us to be brought out of the darkness and emptiness of a hopeless life into His wonderful presence for He is light and love. Each of us are to be a reflection of that light hereafter and a manifestation of that love. As priests, we need to humbly intercede for the burdens and issues of the people we are called to serve. As kings, we are to command or exercise authority over the spiritual world.

The words “show forth” the praises implies that our worship and praise of the Lord should not be merely from our lips but it should start deep within our hearts based on our experience of His grace and love. We need not just speak or sing it but manifest it in our thoughts, words, actions and reactions. The challenge is to do this while living in a world of darkness. We need to “show” it in practical ways in our homes and in the places we work in. We need to show it in our attitudes, our conduct, our relationships, our activities. The priests of Israel in Jesus’s time on earth used to “show off” their piety and their exclusiveness but we are required to be humble, accessible, down to earth, available, teachable and practical. We should offer ourselves as prisms for the Lord’s light to penetrate and to be magnified in a variety of ways. In terms of the metaphor of sound energy, we need to resonate the love of the Lord towards the world. He has put our life on song or in harmony with our pre-fallen nature, with others, with the environment, with His laws and His Word, with Himself. Hence, our lives need to be one elaborate song in many parts in praise of His name. The word “ marvellous” appended to light implies that we will experience many wonders, miracles and supernatural manifestations of the Light. We need to be ready for the awesome.

Light as we know comprises of seven colours “ VIBGYOR”. We need to manifest the light and love of God through the Victory of Jesus over sin and death that we appropriate by faith, the Integrity of Jesus in thought, word, deed and reaction that we emulate, the Boldness of Jesus in accomplishing the mission the Father had set for Him on earth, the Grace of Jesus, the Yearning of Jesus to reveal the love and compassion of the Father to people around through healing, by satisfying their physical hunger and in practical ways, the Offering of our bodies as a living sacrifice to the Lord and we Rejoice. We are a peculiar people as we are distinguished by the presence of God in our lives as He dwells in our hearts. We are a peculiar or unique people as our past is completely washed, forgiven and forgotten while our future and our eternity is guaranteed. We are a peculiar or strange people as we do not exhibit the values and follow the priorities of people of this world. We are a peculiar people as we play the paradoxical roles of priest and king. We are a peculiar people as we are chosen to opt out of the rat race of conflict, competition and bitterness into grace and everlasting life. We are a peculiar people as we rejoice in our hearts even when we are confronting suffering and persecution.

Prateep V Philip

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

The Capstone and the Diamond

UV 1683/10000The Capstone and the Diamond
To whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious,
I Peter 2 v 4

We are like ordinary stones with no value or beauty or utility but once we are chosen by God, we become precious stones since we are continually connected with the capstone, the cornerstone, the keystone- Jesus. We may often be rejected, suppressed, oppressed and looked down upon by fellow human beings. Jesus uses all our experiences, the good, the bad and the ugly, to shape us into precious stones through the Holy Spirit and by His grace. Our molecular structure or our basic character is changed and transformed so that we give up all malice, deceit, envy, hypocrisy and talking ill of others. We endeavour instead to build something beautiful, elegant and enduring on the one who is strong- the Rock of Ages. Jesus is both the foundation bedrock as well as the capstone or keystone, implying that He holds up the weight of the entire structure of our lives. He gives it purpose and design. We should wear our faith not just on our sleeves but just about everywhere- on our tongues as a sword, on our head as a helmet of protection, on our chest as an armour of defence, on our waist as a belt of righteousness, on our feet as the readiness to go places for the Lord.

The Lord shapes and forms us over a lifetime. He removes the rough edges and patches. While choosing a diamond, we need to look at its five Cs- cut, colour, carat, clarity and consistency. The cut stands for the suffering we have undergone in the name of Jesus. Are we able to endure under pressure? Do we wilt or are we able to stand up to persecution? The colour stands for our beliefs and the extent of our faith. The carat stands for the weight of good deeds that we do in the name of Jesus. The clarity dimension stands for the clarity of our vision of what we should do with our lives for the kingdom of God. Our thoughts, words and actions need to be consistent with our faith and the teaching of the Word. A diamond is the strongest stone. A diamond cutter is used to cut glass. We need to be internally very strong, to set our face like flintstone as Jesus did when he began his journey on earth towards the cross. He did not flinch or hesitate in accepting the cup of extreme suffering he was given to drink.

A precious stone like a diamond is crystalline in nature. The crystal character of the diamond prevents it from getting soiled by the dirt and dust of the environment around. It can lie buried in mud for ages without being affected inherently. Similarly, believers are crystalline and though in the world are not of this world. They do not get mixed up in the controversies and affairs of this world. Another aspect of the diamond is its indestructibility for as the saying goes, diamonds are forever. Believers are precious stones that last forever. We are living stones meant to live forever. We are however unlike diamonds not just for display or exhibition but we are to live holistically and practically displaying the qualities of a diamond in all that we are, all that we do, all that we speak. A diamond is cold and lifeless but we are to always have a heart of flesh and blood beating inside us, knowing at once our vulnerabilities as well as our potential for goodness and greatness in Christ and Christ alone. Only the Lord builds mansions with diamonds, sapphires and precious stones. We are used to build the kingdom of God. The Lord is looking for beauty of character rather than beauty of personality in us. He is looking for humility and love in our hearts rather than how exalted our titles and positions in life are. The challenge at the end of the day is not just to be all this but to retain a servant’s heart, an attitude of humility. We need to outdo the diamond in this for a pure diamond looks grand, regal and proud.

Prateep V Philip

Preparing the Heart for the Word

UV 1682/10000 Preparing The Heart for the Word
For Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the law of the LORD, and to do it, and to teach in Israel statutes and judgments
Ezra 7 v 10

Ezra was a ready and willing scribe for the Lord as he was filled with zeal for the Lord. By studying the Word, he added knowledge to his zeal. His tongue was the pen of a ready writer in the hands of the Lord. What he wrote, did and spoke was under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Just as the soil needs to be tilled and ploughed and watered in order to receive the good seed and grow it, so also our hearts and souls in order to be the good soil, need to be prepared. Ezra prepared his heart with aone time prayer of commitment to seek the Word lifelong and daily for he understood that it contained the law of the moral and spiritual universe in which we live. He committed his life to studying the Word diligently, applying it steadfastly and teaching it faithfully. He lived on every word that proceeded from the mouth of God. He used the Word of God to move the mountains in his life. The result was that he had the grace of the Lord and the favour of the king. The king granted whatever and whoever was needed for the project of re-building the temple at Jerusalem. Ezra had success in fulfilling his vision and mission in life. Hearing or reading the Word after prayer is the equivalent of cooking food but to live by it is equivalent of eating the prepared food. The people of Israel was attentive when Ezra taught and spoke from the Word and they were given understanding, reverence and wisdom. When we pray over and meditate on the Word, we prepare our own hearts for the Word. When we pray and teach the Word, we are preparing the hearts of others for the Word.

Unlike Ezra, most of us prepare not our hearts but our minds to hear and understand the Word. We, too in our day and time need to prepare our hearts to seek the Lord, to study the Word, to do it and to teach it to our generation. To seek means to actively and persistently search. We will find great wisdom and riches of understanding in the Word that will bless and enlarge our lives. It requires preparation of our hearts to seek and understand the Word. Ezra not only prepared his heart but he prepared the hearts of the people of Israel by beginning with praise and thanksgiving before the public reading of the Word. He read the Word aloud for half a day and it moved the people to mourning and repentance. Ezra then comforted them and asked them to rejoice. Whatever be our sorrow, when we read, memorize and meditate on the Word, we will be caused to rejoice. To rejoice implies to be joyful again. Our flow and our glow will come from the Lord. Despite the defeat, the humiliation and the captivity of the Jews in the Babylonian empire, they were able to rejoice again. This is the process of salvation: sorrow or repentance at our sinful state, understanding of God’s holiness, grace and mercy, blessings of eternal life and a harvest of peace and joy everlasting. The promises of God need to be sown with the sweat of obedience and the tears of repentance and persistence in prayer before we can have a harvest of joy and blessings.

The Word acts as a spiritual dual image mirror to reflect the image of God and our own. That image is not meant to make us feel inferior or guilty but to inspire us to apply the principles embedded in the Word so that we reap the blessings. Faithful application implies that we consciously and diligently try to bridge the gap between our own image and the image of God. The statutes of the Lord contain the principles and the promises. Knowledge becomes wisdom when we apply it. The judgements contain the application of the principles and promises to our everyday real-life situations. These principles teach us what we should do and what we should not do in every conceivable real life situation. They keep our eyes from tears and our feet from stumbling. They are guideposts, signboards, a lamp for every step we take as well as a light to give us eternal, long term perspective. Believing and claiming a promise is also obedience or application. Sometimes, due to miscued timing, we jump the gun like Sarah did when she suggested that Abraham needed help to fulfil God’s promise to him by offering him a surrogate mother - Hagar. Sarah tried to substitute God’s will, method and timing with her own will, method and timing. We should not end up substituting our will, method and timing for God’s will, method and timing. The Word is God speaking to us. The fulfilment is God acting in us and for us. We need to wait patiently, expectantly, thankfully, ‘praisefully’ and joyfully for God to act and not to try to jump ahead as we seem to be running out of time. Preparing our hearts amounts to waiting as long as it takes the Lord to act. Preparing our hearts to study the Word implies that we devote ourselves to understanding the Word, practicing it in our daily lives and communicating to others our understanding as well as our experience of the blessings of practicing, doing or believing it.

Prateep V Philip

Relational Communication

UV 1681/10000 Relational Communication
And the LORD spake unto Moses face to face, as a man speaketh unto his friend. And he turned again into the camp: but his servant Joshua, the son of Nun, a young man, departed not out of the tabernacle.
Exodus 33 v 11

Moses rose early daily and spoke with the Lord. His face shone with the Shekinah glory of the Lord when he returned from his communion with the Lord. God spoke to him personally as a person speaks to his friend. Moses trusted in the words spoken by the Lord even when they appeared near impossible, fraught with risk and danger. Today, the Lord speaks to us personally through His Word and we speak to Him in prayer. It is a face to face communication with the Lord, a two way communication. It is not motivated communication based on quid pro quo or mutual gain but relational communication. Relational communication is communication with a person just to celebrate that relationship, to sustain and deepen it and to affirm one’ faith in that person. Every time we communicate with the Lord, we perceive His glory and goodness and we appropriate His grace. Relational communication is real, holistic, wholesome and transformational. We are transformed into His likeness degree by degree, day by day by spending time in His presence. It is open and unveiled communication- without the veils of religion, philosophy, ritual, restraint, distrust, fear. His unseen presence is like the pillar of cloud that descended to the door of the Tabernacle when Moses enter to commune with the Lord.

This uni-verse tells us how we should talk with God. Just as a friend shares all the current happenings, the good things as well as the things that grieve, hurt him, burdens ,discourages him, worries him, we need to confide in the Lord. A friend shares the secret desires of his heart unashamedly and without embarrassment. A friend shares both his hopes and his frustration, the stories or accounts of his challenges, burdens, successes, failures, strengths and weaknesses. Our communication should be face to face with God and not indirect, not through any other mediator other than Jesus. As we talk with Him, He will write on the tablet of our hearts and minds by means of His Spirit what He wants us to do during the day. The day is a metaphor for what we know we should do. We need to be diligent in obeying it. The night is a metaphor for the things we do not know. The Lord being a fire by night is a metaphor in our times that He would handle the unknown aspects of our lives- the threats, the lurking dangers of our lives, the imponderables, the mysteries.

The most vital communication of our days is our talk with the Lord. The Lord speaks His promises into our lives. His promises are the resources He gives us to fulfil His mandate for our lives. Just as Joshua, the follower and successor of Moses never left the tabernacle, we should never leave the presence of the Lord. The presence of the Lord accompanies us wherever we go and gives us “rest”- rest implies Shalom or success, fulfilment, peace, grace, health, joy, wholesomeness, wisdom, guidance, leadership, power and victory. Talking with the Lord personally, intimately and privately was Moses’ way of plugging into the power and grace of God. It equipped and enabled Moses to fulfil his calling as the leader of Israel. When he was first called to be a leader, Moses saw himself as a poor communicator but his daily communication with the Lord enabled him to be a powerful communicator of the will and word of the Lord. Our daily communication with the Lord will fill the gaps in our leadership and our lives. The fact that the young Joshua also learnt to spend time in the tabernacle just like Moses shows that it was an anointing that was not unique to only Moses but that anyone who has a desire, a passion to relate and to communicate with the Lord will have access to this face to face, direct, personal, intimate and intense relationship. Joshua excelled his mentor Moses in that he never sought to depart from the presence of the Lord but remained immersed therein. Joshua went on to lead Israel through a miraculous crossing of the Jordan, the dismantling of the walls of Jericho and the defeat of 31 kings of Canaan. Every day or 31 days of the longer months, each of us is attacked by one or other of the princes or powers of darkness. The Lord will be our cloud of blessing, our firewall of protection during these days as we practice relational communication with Him. The greatest mentoring or discipleship that we can undertake in our lives is to teach, demonstrate, lead young people into a personal relationship and daily communication with the Lord.

Prateep V Philip

Sunday, February 21, 2016

The Good Confession

UV 1679/10000 The Good Confession
Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven.
Matthew 10 v 32

The word “confession” implies opening that which is closed or secret, to acknowledge to a third person that which one knows in one’s heart. Confessing one’s sin is confession per se but confessing that Jesus is the Son of God is called the good confession. It is a confession of faith. It is a confession of truth and righteousness. When we make this good confession, God the Father Himself dwells in us and with us. When we confess in this manner, Jesus will confess or admit before the Father and the angels who are denizens of heaven that we belong to Him. Jesus constantly intercedes with the Father on our behalf. He is our Advocate on high. He enlarges our territory or our domain of influence and impact. He delivers us from many afflictions. The word “ whosoever” in this uni-verse implies that the application is universal. There is no racial bias, gender bias, class bias, colour prejudice, religious prejudice. St Peter was one of the first to confess that Jesus is the Lord and his confession led to Jesus commending his faith. Upon this rock foundation of faith, the entire edifice of our lives is built. Jesus told Peter and the other disciples that this confession did not come from his own realization of his own mind but from the Holy Spirit who reveals all truth to mankind. It is the Holy Spirit who enables us to make the confession of faith. For the Jews with severe laws and punishment prescribed for blasphemy, it was a great leap of understanding that the carpenter’s son is the Messiah, the Saviour and Lord.

All the disciples had doubts about the identity of Jesus and His mission on earth till after the crucifixion and resurrection. But Thomas alone opened his mouth to express his doubt. That led to Jesus revealing Himself as the Resurrected Saviour and Thomas declaring his faith, “My God and My Saviour.” It is easy to admit that Jesus was a great human being and teacher but what is needed is to confess that He is our God and our personal Saviour. We need to admit that we are followers of Jesus. Such an admission of faith involves a cost as well as a reward. The cost is persecution of different kinds. The reward are the blessings contained in all the numerous promises of the Word. When we honour the Lord before people, when we are not ashamed to say we belong to Him, He too will honour us and affirm before the Father that we belong to Him, that we should be preserved, blessed and prospered forever.

Jesus will teach us how best to lead and manage our lives. Without Jesus it will be always be a case of the blind leading the blind. The blind leader leads the people following him into a ditch. The yoke of leadership rests lightly on our shoulders as Jesus bears the weight of it. We go through many hazardous situations in life on account of our faith but the Lord will redeem, guide and protect us in all these situations. We confess our faith not just with our words but with our actions and reactions. We confess our faith in Jesus by producing spiritual fruit like Him of love, joy and peace. Having made the good confession, we should conform to His character. The confession of faith brings great responsibility in its wake.

Prateep V Philip

Friday, February 19, 2016

Against Impossible Odds

UV 1678/10000 Against Impossible Odds
And Jonathan said to the young man that bare his armour, Come, and let us go over unto the garrison of these uncircumcised: it may be that the LORD will work for us: for there is no restraint to the LORD to save by many or by few.
1 Samuel 14 v 6

The Lord is not restrained by numbers. Jonathan had confidence in the Lord to confront an entire garrison of the Philistines single-handed, accompanied by only his armour bearer. He affirmed with his mouth the faith of his heart as we should all do: “ the Lord will work for us.” Jonathan had perhaps been influenced and inspired by the great victory he had seen his bosom friend David win as a very young man against the formidable uncircumcised Philistine champion and giant fighter, Goliath. Faith is a great force multiplier. Faith should be accompanied by the courage to act on one’s belief. By this means, he was able to overcome the entire garrison of soldiers. Jonathan like Gideon set a “test of the fleece” by telling his armour bearer that if the guards asked them to come over to them it is a sign that the Lord was going to enable them to overcome the entire camp. The soldiers as anticipated asked them to come over to their post and offered no resistance. Thereafter, the multitude of soldiers just melted away in the face of his faith and courage.

The Lord does not play favourites but He does make a distinction between those who know, acknowledge, trust and love Him and those who do none of this- the so called “ uncircumcised “ of heart as St Paul puts. When our hearts are dedicated to the Lord, our lives will be blessed. The opposition cannot resist our advance. The Lord can work with many or by few. Our strategies and actions may be against conventional wisdom and advice.

In our professions and business, we will all feel a certain spiritual impulse to act against all conventional logic and wisdom. We should look for some signs of the Lord’s favour or grace acting on our behalf and go ahead boldly. The Lord is ready to act big time and real time on our behalf. The battle has to be first won in the spiritual realm. The physical, intellectual, emotional and social triumphs will follow the spiritual victory. Indeed, with God nothing is impossible and if He be for us, it will be of no avail for anyone to be against us. He will help and enable us to overcome impossible odds of numbers and circumstances.

Prateep V Philip

Thursday, February 18, 2016

The True and Fruitful Vine

UV 1677/10000 The True and Fruitful Vine
I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.
John 15 v 5
The Lord abides in the midst of those who choose to abide in Him. Without the connection with the vine the branches are useless. With the connection or grafting onto the vine of Jesus, we are useful and fruitful. A vine or fruit tree does not enjoy its own fruit. But as human beings, we can enjoy our internal as well as external fruit. With Him, we are heroes. Without Him, we are zeroes. Without Him we can do nothing. With Him we can do all things. He empowers us, anoints us, enables us, delivers us, strengthens us, perfects us, purifies us. He is the one omnipotent person who makes us omni-competent. We need to cling or cleave to Jesus. He is the true Vine bearing eternal fruit that will never perish. We need to live in Him, live with Him and live for Him. St Paul wrote, “ For me to live is Christ, to die is gain.” It meant that in his thoughts, actions, goals and words, he attempted and achieved a complete identification with Jesus. As much as he was disconnected with Jesus when he was Saul, he was connected with Him after the encounter on the road to Damascus. Jesus is the Way, the Truth, the Life and the Resurrection. It implies that He is the way to eternal life, the way of eternal life, the way to everything good and useful in life. When we abide in Him, we need to abide in truth and righteousness. When we abide in Him, His resurrection power works in us. The reason the Lord allows us to go through deadly challenges in our lives is to prove, demonstrate and manifest the reality of His resurrection power.

When we abide in Him, we abide in His Word. We give priority to feed of His Word daily, constantly and frequently. When we abide in Him, we obey His commandments and believe His promises. When we abide in Him, we give no room to fears, doubts and negative thoughts and words. When we abide in Him, we abide in the Holy Spirit and bear abundantly the fruit of the spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, humility and self control. When we abide in Him, we use the gifts of the Spirit increasingly. When we abide in Him, we imitate Him in all things. When we abide in Him, we feel safe and joyful. When we abide in Him, we listen to His wise counsel. When we abide in Him, we experience and witness supernatural signs and wonders. When we abide in Him, we are always thankful and worshipful. When we abide in Him, we live in fellowship and oneness with other believers. When we abide in Him, He will cause us to flourish.

When we abide in Him, He is the wall that surrounds us on all sides. The Jews to this day turn to the Wailing Wall to mourn and pray. Jesus is the wall we turn to and pray all the time joyfully. Just as the walls of our homes surround us on all sides, so also Jesus surrounds us on all sides and at all times. Our life has many branches or aspects. The Lord will bless all the different dimensions of our lives. People who know about dog training understand that one of the most important commands a dog is trained to obey is "stay" where the dog just goes down on its haunches puts its paws forward and remains still in a sign of complete obedience and surrender. As humans we need to practice the spiritual equivalent of this command to abide or to stay in Jesus.

Prateep V Philip

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

The Walls of Salvation

UV 1677/10000 The Walls of Salvation
And my people shall dwell in a peaceable habitation, and in sure dwellings, and in quiet resting places;
Isaiah 32 v 18

Stephen Covey wrote of the power of principles: it gives wisdom, guidance, security and power. But principles should not be man-made or given by man, plumbing his own finite knowledge and wisdom. Only a true and eternal Prince of Peace can give the principles of righteousness. Indeed, the work of righteousness is peace and the effect of righteousness is quietness and assurance forever. The people who are saved by their faith in the Prince of Peace, Jesus are declared “righteous” by the Lord and His Word. Jesus rules by giving us peace. By virtue of our faith, we inherit the right to dwell in peaceful homes and in secure dwelling places. The power of righteousness manifested in Jesus works quietly in us to give us a sense of confidence, security and assurance.

Yet fact remains that fifty per cent of homes of believers are riven by divorce, conflicts and break downs. The homes of people are the favourite haunt of the enemy. He is the anaconda of deceit and attacks us in a variety of ways to destroy the peace, rob us of our sense of quiet assurance in the Lord, to kill our faith. Since marriage is the only covenant between man and woman that reflects the relationship between Christ and the church, it is the focus of attack of this anaconda. He is the prince of strife who rules by creating conflict and strife. He can manifest as arguments, disputes, conflicts, ego clashes, discontentment, adultery. The best leaders and managers of the world are defeated on their home ground and they cave in quite tamely even while they are hailed as heroes and champions in the public domain. Take the example of John F Kennedy, Bill Clinton and so many others. Every day we need to slay this anaconda who seeks to crush us. Much of the conflict in our homes are over a power struggle or an ego clash between the husband and the wife as to whose writ should run in the home. Scripture predicts this struggle in the book of Genesis: “ Thou shall desire to rule over your husband and he shall rule over you.” If we accept that Jesus is the head of our homes and we are co-equal partners, the source of these conflicts would cease. Jesus in response to our prayers will erect a strong fencing, a secure perimeter around the four corners of our homes- the Word, prayer, fellowship and worship. Sorrow and sighing shall flee away from our homes. Salvation shall be our walls and praise shall be our gates. The promises of the Lord are the bricks in the walls of salvation. The commands and principles and precepts of the Word are the mortar that holds the bricks together. We shall be surrounded by different manifestations of the promised salvation and we shall continually offer praise and thanksgiving with grateful and joyful hearts to the Lord. When the walls of salvation and the gates of praise are in place as they should be, no anaconda can enter or attack our homes. No wild beast or roaring lion or evil can roam in our homes. As a consequence, we can dwell therein with no fear and complete safety.

The Lord promises to build our homes with sapphire, carbuncle and precious stones. These are metaphors for the spiritual treasures with which our homes are built on the rock of faith. Our homes shall be a quiet resting place, guarded by angels. They are tabernacles of the Lord whose stakes cannot be taken down by anyone, whose foundation is secure and unshakeable. We shall rejoice in our tabernacles in the presence of the Lord.
Prateep V Philip

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Minding the Gap

UV 1676/10000 Minding the Gap
And of Benjamin he said, The beloved of the LORD shall dwell in safety by him; and the LORD shall cover him all the day long, and he shall dwell between his shoulders.
Deuteronomy 33 v 12

Benjamin was the youngest son of Jacob and the son by his favoured wife Rachel. Jacob bestowed a special paternal blessing in his dying moments as a parting gift to his twelve sons and of Benjamin, he prophesied that he shall dwell in safety by the grace of the Lord, that the Lord shall be his covering or protective shield all through, that he would be like a child that lies between the Father’s shoulders. The Lord God has no favourite son but Jesus is His most beloved son and all those who place their faith in Jesus are His favoured sons and daughters and He would cover them by His grace.

No human being can mind the gap: the gap between what he knows and what he does not know, the gap between what he is and what he ought to be, the gap between his goals and dreams and their fulfilment, the gap between his thoughts, words and deeds, the gap between his needs and his abilities, the gap between death and eternal life, the gap between intentions and performance, the gap between the reality and the ideal, the gap between the strength and guile of our adversaries and the chief enemy of our soul and our own, the gap between God’s character and man’s. It is only the grace of God that can fill this gap. Every day every human faces this yawning gap. It fills him with fears, with a sense of frustration, with a sense of inadequacy and failure, with guilt and a sense of insecurity. The Greek word for gap is “hamartia”. But when we are believers in Jesus, the Lord fills the gap with His grace and it becomes “hyperbole” or exceeding the goals. This is the reason, Abraham, the father of faith or the first person to taste of a personal relationship with God, affirmed, “ He is my shield and my exceeding great reward.” The Lord covers us as He shields His beloved children. He rewards us exceedingly, or in excess of our expectations, in excess of what we deserve.

People talk of a “prosperity gospel” or doctrine but why is there no mention of the “ security gospel” or doctrine that we have absolute safety and security in the Lord. His unseen but felt presence is the shadow that shelters us from all our insecurities, personal, psychological, financial, emotional, social, relational. All our fears are quelled and calmed. We trust that the Lord has the best reserved for us. We can lie like a child lying weaned, resting and satisfied between his mother’s shoulders. Our restless urge to do more, have more and be more will cease and we will be filled with the blessed assurance that we are the beloved of the Lord and He is our beloved. We are carried by the Father like a shepherd carries a young and vulnerable lamb cradled upon his shoulders. We acknowledge that we are not able to handle our vulnerabilities and surrender both our positive desires and our weaknesses to the Lord. It is up to Him to fill the gap with His grace.

Prateep V Philip

Monday, February 15, 2016

Neutralising Malice and Slander

UV 1675/10000 Neutralising Malice and Slander
Therefore prophesy and say, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Because they have made you desolate, and swallowed you up on every side, that ye might be a possession unto the residue of the heathen, and ye are taken up in the lips of talkers, and are an infamy of the people:
Ezekiel 36 v 3

Slander is a weapon that is used to crush our spirits. Our foes attempt to lay waste our potential, to deny us opportunities for advancement and destroy our hope by spreading lies and false accusations behind our back on all sides. But the Lord promises to deliver us from the lips of such malicious talk. He is our shield from this insidious weapon and He makes plans for our deliverance from such plots to defame us. Their own tongues become the swords with which they cut their own heads. The stone that they roll onto us will roll back on them. They will fall in the very pit they dig for us. Those who slander others do not stop with just talking but move on to scheming against those they talk about maliciously.

The spirit that moves people to slander is called the Jezebel spirit for Jezebel the queen of Ahab got people to falsely accuse the innocent and had them put to death. She attempted to do the same to the prophet Elijah but the Lord delivered him from all her plots. She was jealous of the power of God manifested in Elijah. When we are greatly blessed of the Lord, it provokes envy, jealousy and consequential slander. People will attribute motives to even the best of our actions or initiatives. Jealousy is like a kind of madness for which there is no medicine or cure. But the Lord can neutralise and preserve those who walk close to Him as He did with Mordecai, Esther and the Jews against the evil machinations of Haman, the powerful adviser to the King.

Jesus acts as our eternal Mordecai to nurture us and care for us when we are defenceless and vulnerable as the orphan Esther was. He is also the Mordecai who counsels and advices us in our difficult days. He is the Mordecai who raises us up and lifts us up in the eyes of our enemies and seats us at the banqueting table of the Lord. He is the Mordecai who for ever intercedes on our behalf and acts to deliver us from every form of evil, malice and threats. We therefore, need to trust Him and talk with Him, sharing our concerns and burdens.

Prateep V Philip

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Well Fenced, Well Watered and High Yielding Gardens

UV 1674/10000 Well Fenced, Well Watered and High Yielding Gardens.
A garden enclosed is my sister, my spouse; a spring shut up, a fountain sealed.
Song of Solomon 4 v 12

The believers taken together or as a collectivity are called the spouse or bride of Christ. We are in covenant relationship with the Lord even as a man is bonded to his wife. Each believer is also described as an enclosed garden. Indeed, we are a fenced garden and a well watered garden for our souls are the source of the eternal water of life that is always bubbling up like a hidden spring. All our fountains or all that gives us strength, hope and joy lie in Him. He is the source of our hidden strength, our resources, our provision, our blessings, our protection, our health, peace, prosperity and happiness. We are not growing wild and untended. We are a planting of the Lord to reveal His splendour. He is the spring of Shalom that never goes dry. When we are a well fenced garden, a well watered garden, we become a garden that yields many perfumed flowers, spices and fruit.

When I joined my first job with a large bank, I was posted in a hill station called Madikeri, the capital of the hill district Coorg. Every day almost on the way back I would stop at the beautiful garden with a panoramic view of the valleys below called Raja Seat. It was the garden of the king of Coorg or the Raja where he used to come for a daily walk and sit there to enjoy the view. Likewise, we are the garden of the King of Kings. But we are not just visited once in a way or once in a day but He dwells with us. We are sealed by the Holy Spirit so that rivers of life giving water flow from our hearts, rivers of love, joy and peace.

To be well fenced, we need to be in constant communication with the Lord through the Word and in prayer. A fence has many posts or pillars positioned at equal intervals and barbed wire tied between these posts. The pillars are the promises of God that give us hope and grace to stay close and victorious in life. The barbed wire that run across between the posts are rules of living or principles we derive from the Word that guide our thoughts, decisions, actions and reaction. They are barbed as even if we break these commandments and violate these principles, we will be hurt. Like the barbed wire of fencing, our obedience should run continuously without break or weakness across the length and width of the fencing. We have to mind the gaps and close it quickly whenever the Spirit points out a weak, loose or broken area of our inner life. With this kind of close fencing, we will not now be plundered by predators, foxes, rodents and visited by snakes and scorpions. We will be the home to doves, beautiful birds and butterflies. To be well watered, we need to constantly imbibe and meditate on the Word. To be yielding the best of flowers, spice and fruit, we need to be obedient to the Word and the move of the Holy Spirit in our lives. The question may be asked which is the most vital: the fencing, the watering or the yielding. Fencing is essential to survive, the watering is essential to thrive and yielding flower, spice and fruit is essential to fulfill the purpose. Every human being has this triune purpose-to survive, to thrive and to yield. To survive, we need protection. to thrive, we need to consume. To yield or serve, we need to produce. The faithful unlike the fittest not only survive but also thrive ahd serve.

Prateep V Philip

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Belief is Obedience, Obedience is Love

UV 1673/10000 Belief is Obedience, Obedience is Love.
For, lo, I will command, and I will sift the house of Israel among all nations, like as corn is sifted in a sieve, yet shall not the least grain fall upon the earth.
Amos 9 v 9

The Lord sifts, winnows and separates the corn and grain from the chaff. He begins with the house of Israel, the believers to purify and separate them to Him as a holy and peculiar people- a royal priesthood. Applying knowledge to work is like applying manure and fertilizer along with pesticides to a growing plant. The true and ultimate knowledge and wisdom is contained in the Word. We need to apply the Word to the world to understand it. We need to apply the Word to our work so that we excel in it. We need to apply the Word to our worship so that it is elevated and acceptable to the Lord. When we do these three applications on a consistent basis, we will produce abundant grain. The commands of the Lord are the furrows that is ploughed in our lives while the promises of the Lord are the seed that are sowed therein.

Grace is needed to produce lasting and good grain. When we willingly use the Word as a sieve, the Lord is not compelled to sift us with the sieve of experiences and afflictions. We are conditioned from birth and upbringing to always focus on race. It is ingrained in us to compete with others even as Jacob competed not only with his brother Esau but also with the angel of the Lord. We need to OBEY the promises of God that we need to rely on His grace When we learn the commands of the Lord from His Word and believe His promises for believing is reckoned by Him as perfect obedience. Disbelief is disobedience and it invites the Lord to use harsher methods of sifting and winnowing us. When we disbelieve and disobey it displeases the Lord and He will not allow a grain to fall in the ground, multiply and bear fruit. Believing is obedience, obedience is love, love produces spiritual fruit and grain that is pleasing to the Lord.

Sin or hamartia, shortcoming or failure, moral, spiritual and personal, sticks to us like a leech with multiple suck pads. A leech can be forced to release its clutches on us only by the application of the Word. It is the Word alone that makes us salty, tasty and productive. It is the Word that turns the bitterness of life into the sweetness of finest honey. We stop distrusting the Lord and begin to love Him as we taste of His abundant grace.

Prateep V Philip

Friday, February 12, 2016

The Former Rain and the Latter Rain

UV 1673/10000 The Former Rain and the Latter Rain
Then shall we know, if we follow on to know the LORD: his going forth is prepared as the morning; and he shall come unto us as the rain, as the latter and former rain unto the earth.
Hosea 6 v 3

The Lord shines on us as the morning sun in all His brightness and glory. He comes to us as the compassion and mercy of the morning dew and as the blessings of the spring rain and the winter rain. The spring rain are the promises, blessings and His presence in our good times while the winter rain are the promises, blessings and His presence during our difficult times. The dew will soften our hearts, the spring rain will cause us to rejoice and the latter rain or the winter rain will cause us to be comforted. Jesus said, “ Blessed are those who grieve and mourn for they shall be comforted.” We are not created only for good weather but for all weather. We will be comforted, encouraged and guided by the Holy Spirit. The sun and the rain metaphor in this uni-verse is a parallel pointing out the Son and His reign in our lives. If the sun’s heat is excessive or if the rain is excessive, the seed and the crop will be affected adversely. Similarly, the Lord shines and wets us just as much as we need and just when we need it.

All the above is ours if we acknowledge the Lord, increase in our knowledge of Him. Scripture describes the path of the sun across the sky: first it rises in all its crimson glory, it shines brightly with mild heat initially. It then travels like a bridegroom across the sky to take a position right above at noon. Thereafter, it begins its descent. During this time it causes the water in various water bodies to evaporate and form clouds. It sends light across the planet to places where it is nightfall to cause the moon and other planets to shine. It provides warmth to creatures and light to form food to plants. It causes the seed to grow upward towards it. It ends its daily path as it had begun in crimson glory. The sun causes the clouds to be seeded and to shed by precipitation its gathered moisture. Similarly, the Lord goes forth in our lives. He sends His Word to give us inner hope and strength. The more love, faith and hope we gather in our lives like moisture of the clouds, the more will be the rain or the blessing on ourselves and others. The Lord delights in doing new things in our lives. The latter rain is also a metaphor for the new turns, twists and happenings in our lives that will cause us to walk even closer to Him, to have a deeper insight and greater intimacy. The former rain is also the grace of the Lord upon our lives during the time of sowing while the latter rain is the grace of the Lord upon us during the time of harvest. Whatever we have sown in faith and laboured over will come to fruition and we will experience the joy of harvest or the fulfilment of hope.

We need to be thankful for the former rain- all the great promises and blessings of the Lord we enjoyed in former days, or in the past. We need to be hopeful of the latter rain- the promises and blessings for our future. Just as the sun shines brighter as the day proceeds, so also our knowledge, understanding and love for the Lord will increase with time. For every problem we face, there is a promise of the Lord. We need to hold the promise for some time in our hearts and minds like the clouds hold water. As we hold the promise true and dear, it will seed the spring rain as well as the latter rain. The spring rain might sometimes seem scarce and inadequate in order to test our faith but once tested and triumphant, the Lord does not hesitate to send us the abundant latter rain.

Prateep V Philip

Thursday, February 11, 2016

The Covenant that Is Better Than Life

UV 1672/10000 The Covenant that Is Better than Life
For the mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed; but my kindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of my peace be removed, saith the LORD that hath mercy on thee.
Isaiah 54 v 10

This uni-verse affirms the unshakeable and irrevocable commitment of the Lord to His relationship with us. Even the mountains and hills that seem so imposing and unshakeable can be brought down but the covenant of God’s peace with us cannot be broken or shaken or altered. This covenant brings us the promise of eternal mercy, peace and kindness of the Lord. The mediator of this everlasting covenant is Jesus who by His death paid for our unrighteousness, became the price to obtain eternal mercy for us. The mediator of the first covenant was Moses but the conditions of that covenant as well as the promises of that covenant were surpassed by the better promises of the everlasting covenant mediated by Jesus. He has made our salvation sure and certain. The conditions of the first covenant lapsed but the promises passed on and were fulfilled in and through the new covenant of peace with God through Jesus. The first covenant was sealed from time to time by the blood of animals while the new covenant was sealed forever by the blood of the blemishless Lamb of God- Jesus.

Now that we are so sure of so great a salvation in contrast to an earth and everything in it that will one day perish including all the symbols of greatness and power, we should be righteous and blameless in all manner of conversation and conduct. Our perspective is eternal and lofty, not mundane and worldly. We should think, speak and do all that is noble, pure, beautiful, praiseworthy, excellent and in keeping with our covenant of peace with the Lord. We should not place our faith or trust in a mediator other than Christ. We should not “stare” or worry about our needs, of how it will be met or about our security or our future.

We are confident and secure not because of who we are or what we have but on account of who we know and His covenant or sacred and inviolable personal accord with us. We experience first, His mercy that gives us a clean slate again and again, despite our messing up things. Then, we experience His peace through His presence with us and finally, His kindness through the fulfilment of His promises. Even the best laws or programs or management and leadership literature of man cannot promise us these three: mercy, peace and everlasting goodness of the Lord. This is the reason I seek to integrate writing on management and leadership with the truths of His Word. Who does not need mercy, peace and everlasting kindness? Who can guarantee it except the Lord? If we choose to exclude the Lord from our thought and life, we exclude mercy, peace and love from our lives. The Psalmist says, “ His loving kindness is better than life” for it transports our souls and spirits to the eternal and abundant plane.

Prateep V Philip

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Enlargement of Our Tents

UV 1671/10000 Enlargement of Our Tents
Enlarge the place of thy tent, and let them stretch forth the curtains of thine habitations: spare not, lengthen thy cords, and strengthen thy stakes;

Isaiah 54 v 2

A tent is a temporary dwelling place for a traveller in the desert or the wilderness. The Israelites lived in tents for forty long years while they were sojourning through the deserts en route to Canaan. Our lives on this earth are like travellers who live in a tent. Our bodies are like tents that can be taken down and moved from place to place. But the Lord wants us to enlarge our tents, enlarge the circle of our influence and impact. The Lord resides with us as He did in the tabernacle of Israel. The tabernacle was a moving tent with elaborate curtains and elegant decorations. Similarly, He adorns us with elaborate embroidered curtains. He lengthen the cords that bind us to Him and strengthens it so that none can break it. His presence covers us like an impenetrable tent. The uni-verse reveals that the Lord enlarges, lengthens, strengthens us.

The English expression , “the stakes are high” implies that what we stand to loose or gain are high. Those who have that perspective take a gamble with their lives and stake everything on chance. Instead, we should believe that the stakes are driven deep. We should have the perspective of St Paul,” For me to live is Christ, to die is gain. “ In other words, he was saying that he was a tent or dwelling place for the risen Christ. His shelter and shield from the elements was Christ. A tent is held in place by stakes that are driven into the earth beyond its four corners. The four corners of our tents are love of God, love of Jesus, love of His Word and love of people. The four stakes at the four corners are love, faith, joy and hope. These four stakes should be driven deep into our hearts so that the Holy Spirit dwells with us. We should keep strengthening our stakes in the Lord so that nothing can shake or loosen it. When the weather turns inclement, the winds and storms of life cannot pull our tents off the stakes. We will stand firm entrenched in our relationship with the Lord.

Spiritual cords, emotional cords, intellectual and material cords connect the four stakes to the four corners of the canopy of our tents or our lives. The purpose of all the experiences, both the good ones and the tough ones are to lengthen and to strengthen the cords of our connections to the stakes. The Lord is the stakeholder of our lives and He invests into our lives, designing and decorating the different dimensions of our lives. We should tie our cords in strong knots to the Lord that no one can untie or cut. He will make our tents the tent of His rejoicing, the tent of His victory, the tent of safe dwelling.

Prateep V Philip

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

The Purpose of Purposeful Productivity

UV 1670/10000 The Secret of Purposeful Productivity
And the land shall yield her fruit, and ye shall eat your fill, and dwell therein in safety.
Leviticus 25 v 19

When a farmer plans to cultivate a piece of land, at best he thinks to himself that the land may yield its fruit in due course, provided the seed is good, the rains are sufficient, not excessive or too inadequate, not late or early but on time, no locusts attack at the time of harvest, no rot sets in while the plants are growing. There are too many imponderables for him to be certain the land will yield in due time to meet his need. The same applies to a worker in any other field or an author who is writing a book. But this uni-verse promises that “ the land SHALL yield her fruit” without an iota of doubt or uncertainty. When we love and respect the Word of God, He will bless us with the former rain and the latter rain. He will multiply our seed. He will set His tabernacle or His habitation in us and amidst us. He will cause our hand and our land to yield in due time, not early or not late but just in time. We will enjoy the abundant life- a life full of the spiritual fruit as well as the fruit of our labour, the fruit of our lips, the fruit of our bodies, the fruit of our minds, the fruit of our hands and of our lands. He will give us treasures out of darkness, reveal secrets that will bless us. He will bless our food and our water. Even our footwear will not wear out too soon. The Lord will not let our enemies trample upon us. He will place a hedge around us. He will deny us no good thing. As we increasingly yield to Him, He will increase our yield or our productivity, creativity and contribution in this world.

We shall eat our fill of the blessings of the Lord. We shall eat and digest the Word and produce eternal and abundant fruit of the spirit of love, joy and peace. We will eat the fruit of our labour. The work of our hands or our contributions will be validated. We will be satisfied and suffer no lack. We will not be living in vain or chasing vanities like the rich, the glamourous and powerful. Our work will be rewarded adequately. We will be glad and contented with our lot or the portion the Lord has given us. The word “ portion” implies the allocation or allotment of our share of blessings- spiritual, material, physical, financial, filial, emotional and eternal. Of course, we will have our share of suffering in this world too. We have suffering so that our faith is tested, refined and purified. Suffering is like the pruning of a plant in order to make it yield better and more. We will have enough and more to spare, to give to others who are in need.
In addition to productivity and suffering, we have a sense of absolute safety and security with the Lord. No dog can raise its tongue against us. No hair on our heads will fall without his knowledge. Nothing will happen to us without His allowing it. We shall not be ashamed. We will be vindicated. Our enemies will be put to shame. We have to fear no one but the Almighty. We shall be like an enclosed well-watered garden, a walled vineyard that is well fenced. Our floors will be full of wheat and our vats will overflow with wine and oil. The Lord will deal wonderfully with us so that we shall dwell safely therein. He will cause the “evil beasts” to cease in our land. The word “evil beasts” refers to evil and unruly spirits. He will break every yoke of bondage or slavery or anything that limits or constrains our growth or fulfilment of our potential.

Prateep V Philip

Monday, February 8, 2016

The Hedge and the Hedgehog

UV 1669/10000 The Hedge and the Hedgehog
And I sought for a man among them, that should make up the hedge, and stand in the gap before me for the land, that I should not destroy it: but I found none
Ezekiel 22 v 30

The Spirit of God is a spirit of intercession. The Lord looks for intercessors for people. He is actively searching far and wide for such watchmen, spiritual guards of their homes, cities and lands. The intercessor’s role is to stand in the gap between the people and God, to plead that His mercy and grace fill the gap. They act as a hedge around homes, cities, states and nations. They are a hedge of protection to prevent the Lord’s wrath being released upon the land. Abraham interceded for Sodom and pleaded that even if there are ten righteous people in the city, the Lord should not destroy it. Abraham almost negotiated with the Lord and brought down the threshold of the Lord’s patience to a minimum of ten righteous people in a city for it to be saved. Intercession is a kind of reverential negotiation with the Lord. Moses interceded often for the people of Israel and prevented them from being punished for their frequent rebellion and faithlessness despite having seen and experienced the great salvation of the Lord from the bondage of Egypt. Samuel, the prophet and priest interceded for the nation of Israel. The Holy Spirit and Jesus intercedes with the Father for His children. Each age and each nation has its intercessors. The miracles that we see in every day life are often the answer to someone’s prayers. I recently prayed for the United Nations and the opening of the eyes of everyone starting from the Secretary General downward. I was surprised a little later to see the testimony on youtube of a man of God from the US who suffered a cardiac arrest in Australia, died and was resurrected by Dr Jesus. He shared this amazing story in front of the Secretary General Ban Ki Moon and other delegates of most nations in the General Assembly and stated that Jesus is the answer for the world’s ills. Who knows but the Lord that the opportunity he got to share that testimony in the UN came because of an intercessory prayer of someone in faraway Chennai. On another occasion, I heard the innocent prayer of our younger daughter for safety for those who travelled on airplanes. Some months later, I was amazed by the miraculous safe landing of an aircraft in distress on the Hudson river in New York. I repeat, the miracles we experience are the answers to someone’s prayers.

We need to form a hedge around our families, our children, our co-workers, our cities, states and nations. The Lord loves to see us as burdened with compassion to others as He is with us. It is in this spirit that I in my half hour daily prayer walk pray for the city, the nation, the police, the army, the leaders of the world and of the church, the persecuted across many nations, the travellers, the children, the youth, aged, the workers, farmers, the poor, the victims of trafficking, for Israel and the salvation of the people of the house of Jacob that they recognize that Jesus is the Messiah they are still expecting.
The hedgehog is a creature who when attacked by any fox or other creature just rolls into a ball with only hard spines visible all round. It remains that way till the threat is passed. Similarly, we need to roll into a ball or go into a time of prayer whenever we sense a threat to others or us. The hedgehog does it only for itself in order to survive. But we need to roll into a ball on our knees to place a hedge around the lives and souls of countless numbers of people who need our prayer every day in a perilous world affected by perversion, false doctrine, temptations of wealth and power, violence, terrorism, exploitation and oppression. We are to be both the hedge and the hedgehog. In order to be a hedge or a hedgehog, we need to be not only tough skinned but we need to have tough spines. We cannot be namby-pamby. We cannot be fearful, indecisive or weak. We cannot be over sensitive and react in the flesh to words or happenings in our lives. We cannot be conscious of only our own needs and comfort but be moved by the conditions and needs of others. Prayer is not the first resort of the weak minded or weak willed. It is the consistent resort of the resilient. When the going gets tough, the tough get praying. Our prayers, our faith and trust in the promises of the covenant, both old and new, make us the impenetrable perimeter of protection and safety for many people, the channel of blessing and healing for the nations and for generations, present and to come.

Prateep V Philip

Sunday, February 7, 2016

The Quest for Conquest

UV 1668/10000 The Quest for Conquest
Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.
Romans 8 v 37

Nations are caught up in a power struggle. Most human beings are in restless and perennial quest of conquest of one kind or other. Fear drives him to the feeling that either he has to conquer or he will be conquered. God has conquered us through love in Jesus. Napoleon, the conqueror confessed this about Jesus:” I know men; and I tell you that Jesus Christ is no mere man. Between Him and every person in the world there is no possible term of comparison. Alexander, Caesar, Charlemagne, and I have founded empires. But on what did we rest the creations of our genius? Upon force. Jesus Christ founded His empire upon love; and at this hour millions of men would die for him.” Yes indeed, He did not conquer us with bloodshed and force of power and fear. Having so conquered us, He makes us more than a conqueror. We are not foot soldiers or pawns to be sacrificed for the advancement of the cause of the conqueror as it was the case with all other conquerors. We are more than conquerors as the Commander- in- Chief, Jesus Himself shed His blood for us. We are more than conquerors as we do not wish to conquer for the sake of our selfish ambition but for the love and glory of the Lord. We do not seek to conquer territory or amass riches but we seek the salvation of the precious souls of people. Our influence spreads like a sweet smelling fragrance to all parts of the house, the city, the nation and the world. We are more than conquerors as the Lord Himself becomes a man of war and fights the battle for us without us ever drawing a sword. We are more than conquerors as the warfare we engage in is spiritual and non violent.

All other conquerors were eventually conquered or consumed by death. But eternal death shall not conquer the believer in Christ. The power of death to hold us prisoners in the grave came from our sin since sin pays its wages- death. Death has been swallowed by victory in Christ. But once we are declared sinless by our faith and God’s grace, death is rendered powerless. We rise from death to eternal life. Our new wages are eternal life and all that it means.

Besides death, we have conquered by faith and the power of prayer and the Word our circumstances, curses, misery, disease and the powers of nature and of darkness. We have the authority that no king or savant has to command such as these. The Lord has placed all things under our feet. We are more than conquerors like Alexander, the Great as He who is in us is greater than he who was with them. He will help and enable us to overcome or conquer our own lusts and pride. The power and wisdom of Christ will rest on us and equip us for every battle we face in our lives. We are more than conquerors as unlike other conquerors who are restless and never at peace with themselves or others, we have peace with God, self and others.
Prateep V Philip

Saturday, February 6, 2016

The Separation Process

UV 1667/10000 The Separation Process

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword
Romans 8 v 35
In Physics and Chemistry, there are different methods of separating a substance from other impure materials like heating and evaporation, distillation, smelting of ores, filtering and so on. Similarly, there are many methods of separation and refinement in matters of faith and the spirit. The Lord sits as a refiner of metals before a furnace to separate His people unto Him. Just as light was separated by God from darkness of the universe at the beginning, just as land was separated from water at the beginning, we have been separated by the Lord from the world and its ways. We have been united or grafted to Him by the love of Christ. Now, neither tribulation, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness, peril, threats, violence can separate us from the agape love of God in Christ Jesus. The enemy of our souls does make attempts continually but the Lord covers us with His wings as a hen covers its chicken. The presence of such threats and risks make us walk closer to the Lord and to lean on Him at all times.

The love of Christ is an all encompassing shield surrounding us in 360 degrees. He preserves us from our persecutors, from crisis, from natural disasters and man-made ones, from poverty, dangers, slander, scandals, physical risks and violence. Neither shall death, nor fallen angels or princes and powers of darkness, anything in our present, past or future. Neither the heights of success, fame or position or the depths of failure and misery can distance us from the grace and love of the Lord. He is closer to us than our own skin. We should stick to Him like a leech.

Why does the Lord allow us to go through the path of fiery trials and tribulation? He has gone through the same path and had overcome. We too, shall overcome. The path to the kingdom of God is through tribulations. It will develop patience or a certain depth of faith and character in us. As we undergo these troubles in this world, we should stand out by our purity, kindness, ability to endure, integrity, patience, firmness, gentleness, by our unfeigned love, by our peace and joy in difficult circumstances, by our knowledge of the power of God and our confidence in the word. Our tribulations work out to the glory of God as it demonstrates the power of God. It proves our commitment and the extent of our faith. It further prunes and perfects us.

Prateep V Philip

Friday, February 5, 2016

Heart Surgery

UV 1666/10000 Heart Surgery

A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh.

Ezekiel 36 v 26

The adamantine heart or the proud, stubborn and rebellious heart is replaced in us by a humble, faithful and obedient heart. The word “ Adam” is the root of the word “adamantine”. The moment Adam disbelieved God’s Word, believed Eve and the evil one’s words, his spiritual heart died and it was replaced by a disbelieving and dead heart. The spirit of God fled from that adamantine heart. When we believe the Word that the Father sent to redeem us, the adamantine heart is transplanted with a Jesus-like heart that beats or resonates with the Father’s heart.

The Lord does heart surgery on each of us. He replaces our hardened hearts that are insensitive to Him and the move of the Spirit of God in us. He replaces our hearts of stone with a heart of flesh. His Spirit, the Holy Spirit begins to dwell in our hearts the moment we set our faith upon Jesus. The Spirit releases His gifts in our hearts to serve the Lord. Our hearts take root in the Spirit and begin to grow and overflow with new life. Our hearts will shoot forth new branches that bear many kinds of spiritual fruit.
The Lord does a circumcision of our hearts. It implies that He cuts around our spiritual hearts so that the stony membrane of the love of the world is replaced by the membrane of the love of God. We will learn to love the Lord with all our heart, soul and strength. He renews the right spirit within us even as He casts out the wrong ones. Old things, priorities and perspectives will pass away and new heart attitudes, priorities and perspectives will develop. He will increase us from one level of greatness to another for His glory. He will write His Word in fleshy tablets of our hearts that will cause us to walk in His ways. From our new hearts will flow the new and abundant life: peace, joy, grace, mercy, kindness, faith, hope, love. Our spiritual hearts is like a pump that continually pipes in strength, wisdom, faith, hope, love and joy to all parts of our lives.
Prateep V Philip

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Born Not Free

UV 1665/10000 Born Not Free
Yea, thou heardest not; yea, thou knewest not; yea, from that time that thine ear was not opened: for I knew that thou wouldest deal very treacherously, and wast called a transgressor from the womb.

Isaiah 48 v 8

“Man is born free”, it was written by Rousseau, “but everywhere he is in chains.” But scripture says that we are transgressors from the womb, that we were conceived in sin. We are born with chains of ignorance of the truth and we grow into the chains of fears, pride, lusts and wickedness. We look but do not see. We hear but we do not listen. We are rebellious by nature. Our hearts are inclined to disobey right from our childhood. But the Lord woos and wins our hearts. He heals our hearts of its hardness so that we can see the truth, listen to it and obey it. He sets us free from the chains or inhibitions of ignorance, greed, pride, lust and other negativities. We are not born free but we can grow into freedom. We are born crying but we can learn to laugh over time. The fear of the tomb and the unknown future beyond it no longer makes us insecure. The fear of not having enough to get by leaves us as we learn that our Father in heaven will provide for us abundantly and on time and that in His economy there is no shortage. All we need is His favour or grace.

The Lord expects us to be faithful to Him, to be diligent in studying and applying His Word. He takes us through a furnace of afflictions to purify our hearts and restore us to His image that we had lost. Jacob was a transgressor from the womb. As he was being born, he held onto the heel of his twin brother Esau to get ahead of him. He was born a deceiver but became a believer over time. His deception caused him to flee from his home as a young man. He was then deceived by his father-in-law Laban to work for fourteen years to win the hand of Rachel. But an encounter with the angel of the Lord turned his life and his heart back to the God of Abraham. He was given the new name "Israel" or struggle with God. Ironically, the struggles of Jacob to get ahead, his struggles with others and self ended with the touch of God healing his heart of deception that commenced his relationship based on faith with God. The sibling rivalry that started with him from birth got the better of his sons and they conspired to first kill and then sell into slavery his favoured son Joseph. The chains of envy, jealousy and rivalry is today visible and evident to this day between brothers, sisters, organisations, groups and nations. It inspires the arms race, stimulates conflicts between individuals and wars between nations. The chains of our bondage grows thicker and stronger over time. Our own acts and words get us into trouble.

Our encounter with Jesus transforms us from being deceivers and being deceived by the enemy into being a believer and a Friend of God. We become the favoured sons and daughters of God. He sets us free from the powerful chains that grow from inside us to limit, restrict, bind and enslave us. We no longer need to deceive to get ahead or be deceived to let others get ahead of us. All we need is the grace of God that we receive freely through Jesus. We are born not free but we are "born again" free and grow in freedom, knowledge and favour with God and man. Our biological DNA is changed into Divine NAture. Our struggles with believing, understanding and knowing God will cease. We have peace with God. Salvation and sanctification are lifelong processes and not a one off event. Grace is the moment to moment appropriation of the strength, power and love of God to meet the struggles of our flesh and blood.

Prateep V Philip

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

A Full Reward

UV 1664/10000 A Full Reward
The LORD recompense thy work, and a full reward be given thee of the LORD God of Israel, under whose wings thou art come to trust
Ruth 2 v 12
This uni-verse was spoken by Boaz to the Moabite woman who was gleaning in his fields, widow of one of his kin. Boaz came from the lineage of Rahab, a prostitute who sheltered the Jewish spies sent to Jericho. Rahab’s confession of faith in the God of Israel altered her DNA, her destiny and her lineage. Boaz was born in the line of Rahab. He was upright, righteous and a prosperous farmer. He recognized the faithfulness of Ruth in her remaining with her mother in law Naomi even though death had dissolved all ties with her husband’s family. He encouraged her by blessing her in the name of the Lord. Boaz , a mere mortal could discern the inner attitudes of this stranger Ruth. How much more the Lord discerns our every thought, the motive behind every thought, word and action, our every need, our attitudes.

Indeed, the Lord rewards those who diligently seek Him. He rewards those who take shelter under His wings of faithful prayer and obedience to His Word. His promises and commands are the feathers that cover them. They are the wings which will take them to new levels of blessing and strength. The Lord does not reward partially or grudgingly but fully and generously. He rewards our work of faith as He is a just Master. He pays His workers their wages in full. He causes them to rejoice and be exceedingly glad. He makes a note of every act of faithfulness on our part. He does not overlook a single thing we do through Him, for Him and in Him.

The Lord takes responsibility to guard His own. He takes them under His wings as a hen takes its chicken under its wings on seeing the predator eagle. The Lord caused Boaz to issue instructions to his servants to leave deliberately an extra measure of grain so that Ruth could glean it. He also strictly instructed them that none dare to attempt to harass, molest or harm her as she moved about his fields. Similarly, when we glean from the fields of the Lord, He nourishes us, blesses us and safeguards us. The Lord altered the destiny of Ruth and through her made the desolate Naomi a fruitful and blessed one. Nobody comes close to the Lord and remain unchanged. Just as the hen’s wings surround the chicken in all directions or 360 degrees, so also He rewards us in 360 degrees, in multiple ways and through many days. Boaz was mindful of Ruth. Similarly, we need to respect and love the Lord and He will be mindful of us. Jesus intercedes with the Father and asks Him to bless us and reward us for our general faithfulness and for every specific act of faithfulness. He blesses us with the abundant and eternal life. He blesses us in the quantitative as well as qualitative dimensions of life.

Prateep V Philip

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

The Heart of the Matter

UV 1663/10000 The Heart of Matter
Again he said unto me, Prophesy upon these bones, and say unto them, O ye dry bones, hear the word of the LORD.
Ezekiel 37 v 4
The prophet was given a vision of a valley full of broken skeletons and dry bones, signifying the spiritual condition of the people of Israel. Indeed, when we have no hope, our entire life seems to disintegrate into a bare structure and fragmented bones. The skeleton of a Goliath is equal to the skeleton of a pygmy, implying the lives of the smallest to the greatest, the weakest to the strongest, the lowest to the highest on earth is lived in vain but for the hope in Christ, the Word from God. The hope that faith produces in our lives causes our bones to be strong and well nourished. The dryness of our spirits is healed as we hear the Word of God. The awesome, amazing and wonderful promises in the Word integrates the different parts of our lives as if all the bones are coming together and getting joined one to another.

Once we understand the purpose of our lives is not merely to exist and move around like any other creature of God but to know Him personally, become like Him and share that hope with others, everything in our lives will fall perfectly in place. Then, the Lord will breathe in His spirit once more in us so that we can pray, exert spiritual authority, claim victory and inspire hope in others. As we spend time imbibing the pure and undiluted Word, we will be strengthened in hope. We will receive power from on high.

Ezekiel saw the vision of the dry or dead bones coming to life by adding flesh, blood, sinews and skin. When we have a particular hope in life the reason why it takes time is that the flesh, internal and external organs, the vessels, the sinews and skin are being formed and added to what we hope for. It is like new life is taking birth. The expression “ hear the Word” does not just mean an auditory reception but just as the word ‘hear’ are the first four letters of ‘heart’, we need to hold it in our hearts, believe in it, and the Word should flow like blood to the different bones or parts of our lives – spiritual, emotional, intellectual, physical, social, artistic, financial – and nourish these parts or make them awash with hope. It is the living Word to be lived and not merely to be mouthed or spoken. If we are truly living the abundant life and not a skeletal existence, the Word should be constantly flowing from our hearts. We should hear the Word and it should affect our heart- hear-t where t stands for different parts of our lives :(thought) ( tongue), (time), (talent), (temperament),(treasure). The intention of the Lord is not an airy-fairy spirituality but a down- to- earth holistic growth and development of our lives so that we have our heads in the clouds but our feet firmly on the ground.
Prateep V Philip

Monday, February 1, 2016

Inspiration and Insulation, Multiply and Multi-fly

UV 1662/10000 Inspiration and Insulation, Multiply and Multi-fly
And I will multiply upon you man and beast; and they shall increase and bring fruit: and I will settle you after your old estates, and will do better unto you than at your beginnings: and ye shall know that I am the LORD.
Ezekiel 36 v 11

The Lord knows our humble beginnings. Everyone of us had a humble beginning as a tender, vulnerable , weak, helpless and innocent infant. He causes us to grow, increase and multiply. The word “ multi-ply” implies that in multiple ways He blesses us to increase, both man and even our animals, whether flocks or pets. We are made fearfully in terms of our fragility and vulnerability but we are also made wonderfully by the one who is called Wonderful in order to do “wonderfully.” The classification of all our acts are either under the label “ ordinary” or extraordinary. Only the Lord can do the supernatural and wonderful. The ordinary does not evoke surprise while the extraordinary evokes admiration. The wonderful or awesome evokes faith and worship. As we multiply, we should also “ multi-fly”, meaning we should grow to our full potential in Christ and use all our gifts for His glory. We should do wonderfully in many ways.

When we humans think in terms of “ fruit”, we think in terms of material or monetary or edible fruit. The seed of man causes us to multiply biologically but the seed of God enables us to multiply and multi-fly spiritually. The fruit from the perspective of the Lord is the spiritual fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, humility and self control. These nine fruit are the dimensions of all round moral, social, personal and spiritual excellence. We are chosen to bear such fruit and to bear it increasingly. His Word is meant for our inspiration as well as our insulation. Inspiration is intended to urge us to bear more fruit. Insulation is intended to protect us from the values or fruit of this world. Insulation is a kind of spiritual fencing around us to protect us from being preyed upon, from our spiritual fruit being pillaged and plucked by the enemy of our souls. The Holy Spirit will place a fencing around us as estates are girded or protected by fencing all round so that trespassing spirits cannot enter and cause harm or damage. He will settle or establish us so that we are rooted in the Lord and grow to flourish and not perish spiritually. Our “old estates” are a metaphor for our dwelling places on earth while our new estates are a metaphor for the mansions the Lord prepares for us in His eternal realm.

The uni-verse promises that the Lord will do better to us now than at our beginnings. Whatever men consider as “good” in this world, the Lord has reserved something better for us. Whatever we regard as good in our past, the Lord has something better for us in the future and in eternity. He will send us the latter rain and the morning dew of His compassion and love to bless the cultivation of spiritual fruit that is precious for Him. We will know the Lord more intimately and our dependence and love for Him will increase. We will know that every increase of joy, peace, prosperity, health, wisdom, influence, strength and grace has come from none but the Lord Himself.

Prateep V Philip