Sunday, April 30, 2017

The Abundant Life

UV 2266/10000 The Abundant Life
The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.
John 10 v 10

Jesus and the common enemy of our souls have diametrically opposing agenda. While Jesus wants to give us peace, the enemy wants to steal it. While Jesus blesses us abundantly and with abundance in all dimensions of life, the enemy robs us of abundance and creates conditions of scarcity and deprivation. While Jesus wants to give us eternal life, the enemy wants to destroy our lives in some way or other- physical, intellectual, socially, emotionally or spiritually. Jesus is the Saviour while the enemy is the destroyer. Jesus gives us freedom while the enemy wants to hold us in bondage. Jesus frees us from the heaviest load a man can carry-guilt while the enemy burdens us with accusations and guilt.

Jesus, the Christ or the anointed and chosen One of God, then is the thesis while the enemy is the antithesis-the anti-Christ. There can be no common ground or compromise between the two. Once we have absolution or absolute forgiveness in Christ, we find the solutions to the problems that life throws at us. We have the confidence, the hope and the power to face up to all the bag of dirty tricks the enemy tries against us to steal from us, to rob us, to kill or destroy us. Jesus becomes the high and strong wall around our lives to protect and preserve us from the designs of the anti-Christ. Jesus breaks by His word the power of every curse and removes every limitation on our lives so that we live the life abundant and eternal, life without end, life without spiritual failure, life without condemnation.

Jesus called all those who came before Him in the guise of prophets and leaders as thieves and robbers. These were the sheep in wolves’ skins, the agents of the implacable enemy of humanity. We need to be wary of the enemy and his army of agents. Jesus Himself declared with authority that He is the door to the pasture of abundance, the pasture of freedom, the pasture of security, the pasture of blessings and prosperity, the pasture of joy and peace. When we believe His declaration, we enter through the door into eternity and abundance. Jesus proved the legitimacy and authenticity of His claims by His life, teachings, actions, death and resurrection. The very purpose of the coming of Jesus from His place in heaven to earth is to unfold and reveal the eternal abundant life to us. If we fail to live this abundant and eternal life, we are trying to defeat that purpose. Unwittingly, we become agents of the enemy. The primary abundance that Jesus is promising in Him by reposing our faith and confidence in His assurances is not material or physical but spiritual riches of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, humility and self control. We should revel in such abundance and not in material abundance. Sometimes, the Lord might send material abundance our way but it should not become a snare to our souls. It should enable us to give and help others generously to meet needs and become channels and funnels of blessing. We need to develop our insecurity-inducing scarcity mentality and develop the abundance mindset: everything is possible in Christ if it is God’s will, everything is available in Christ if it is in accordance with God’s will, it is not possible to be defeated in Christ, we can do all things in Christ who strengthens us or reveals His strength in our times or areas of weakness.

Prateep V Philip

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Fullness of Joy

UV 2265/10000 Fullness of Joy
Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice.
Philipppians 4 v 4

Reiteration in scripture is used for emphasis as well as to convey different meanings in different contexts or situations of real life. Our belief in Jesus, our faith and hope in Him, our knowledge of His love should cause us to rejoice when things are going according to plan, when things are going good for us as well as when things are not as desired or as per plan, when things are not going good or are really going bad for us. We are to be armed and shielded by an “all weather” sword and shield of faith, all time security and not just part time. The emphasis on joy is due to the reason that we can wholeheartedly love and worship the Lord only with a joyful heart. Our bodies or minds might be in pain or undergoing suffering but our hearts can rejoice in the hope that we have in Jesus, that we will triumph in the end, no matter how things are turning out now for us.

Joy is like a bubbling, frothing brook flowing from our hearts. It is evident in our faces and in our attitudes. It manifests in our words, actions and reactions. It is not a joy or happiness based on happenings. Often it can be joy despite the happenings. It is not a trumped up or artificial joy propped up by stimuli to our senses. It is a deep, eternal, complete joy. It never dries up. Spiritual joy is inexplicable but expressible. Joy lightens our yoke and widens our wings of faith to its fullest span. Imagine a person with a very heavy unbearable load on his shoulders but suddenly, the burden is shifted from his shoulders, his sense of relief. Imagine a person facing death by hanging at the gallows and suddenly, he receives news of his pardon. He is freed to live a new life.

The Lord desires that in all circumstances, our joy should be full and not partial or shallow. It is an overflowing joy. It is not an emotion but a conviction that Jesus owns us. The sense of ownership and belonging as sheep to a good Shepherd fills us with joy. We are created for the pleasure of God. We are created to be participants and partakers of that pleasure and not mere objects. Though many things in life give us a sense of pleasure or joy, it is only immersing ourselves in the Lord that gives us true joy. When we are saturated in His presence and satiated by His word, we are truly joyful. Remembering and acknowledging the Lord with praise and thanksgiving in all our ways and at all times fills us with such joy. The joy that the world gives is a counterfeit joy. It deceives to flatter us. It deserts us in our times of need. It evaporates at the smallest provocation or symptom of pain or suffering.

Prateep V Philip

Friday, April 28, 2017

The Teacher

UV 2264/10000 The Teacher
Teach me thy way, O LORD, and lead me in a plain path, because of mine enemies.
Psalm 27 v 11

We can learn any subject from a domain expert of that field: mathematics from a math teacher, music from a music teacher and so on. But in order to learn how best to live, one can learn it only from the author of life. Life is a most complex and difficult subject both to learn and to live. Only the Lord can teach us how to live, how to live well and how to live forever. He does not speak to us in riddles and puzzles but He makes known His ways plain to us through His Son Jesus, through the Word and by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. But we need to have a teachable attitude. We need to humble ourselves and realize how messed up, how broken and how incomplete we are in the absence of the Lord teaching us His way. For the twelve disciples, Jesus was first their Teacher as they called Him, “Rabbi” and then, their God and Saviour. They moved from doubt to faith. For us who believe today without having seen Him, He is first our God and Saviour and then, our Teacher. We move from faith to learning. The time the disciples spent at the feet of Jesus and accompanying Him everywhere over three years of His public ministry had a decisive and transformational effect on their lives. Likewise, the time we spend at the feet of Jesus and in His company has a transformational effect on our lives as nothing else or no one else has.

The Lord teaches us to live in a blameless way. He teaches us to live fearlessly. He teaches us the secrets of powerful living. He teaches us how to overcome our enemies, foes, our challenges. One of our foremost enemies is we ourselves, our inner weaknesses and vulnerabilities. He teaches us how to overcome these by His grace. He is never done with teaching us. With other teachers, we can reach a point where we can say that we have learnt enough or that we have nothing more to learn from them. But with Jesus, our learning is lifelong. He teaches day by day, moment by moment. With other teachers, there is only a very limited period of “hand holding” but Jesus holds our hands all through and beyond. Other teachers may be par excellence at best while Jesus is par perfection. Other earthly teachers teach as they profit in some way from the taught while Jesus alone taught and still teaches without any demands on us. Jesus said, “Ask and you will receive.” Yes, we will receive answers to all our questions as He alone knows these answers. He is the only teacher who not only knows all the answers but He is our practical life coach and guide.

His way being always higher than our ways, His thoughts being higher than our thoughts, we need grace and discernment to understand His ways. The Holy Spirit is the bridge in the God-man gap in understanding, wisdom and knowledge. He also bridges the God-man gap in power and self discipline to do that which we have been taught. Jesus is a patient teacher. He waits for us to grasp and do what He has taught us. The words of other teachers only penetrate the mind of the pupil but the words of Jesus penetrate our hearts and transform our lives. Other teachers leave their students after teaching them while Jesus remains with us and He is a participant and helper to live out our lives. He enables us to walk the path that He Himself walked. He never leads us to any place where He Himself had not walked. He leads by example and His actions match His words while they outstrip our greatest expectations.

Prateep V Philip

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

The Wells

UV 2263/10000 The Wells
Therefore with joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation.
Isaiah 12 v 3

Each verse in scripture is as small as a cell. But each cell is a well of salvation. Each verse or uni-verse is a source of human well being, healing, deliverance, provision, vision, power and protection or in one word- salvation. It is a deep well. It requires us to drop the pail of our understanding deeper and deeper to draw the hidden and inner meaning of scripture. It is a well of living water. It is intended to fulfil our practical needs and purpose of life. It is not theoretical but meant to apply to all aspects of our day to day living: our morality is derived from it. Our philosophy of work and life is derived from it. Our world view is derived from it. Our hope is derived from it. The world is like a vast spiritual desert but the Lord leads us through His word to Elim, an oasis with many fruit bearing palm trees and many perennial wells.

Like the water from the wells dug or re-opened by Isaac, the practical instructions from the Word will lead to a hundred fold increase in our productivity or our harvest in different fields of our lives. It will lubricate our souls. It will give us examples to follow. It will inspire us. The people of this world collect water in broken cisterns or containers that cannot hold the water. No human author, being mortal and limited in knowledge and understanding can ever give us the words of eternal life. But we have this living fountain of joy and wisdom in Jesus and His words. As John the Baptist testified of Jesus, “ The One who is of this earth knows only of this earth but the Messiah, the One who is sent from heaven knows all about heaven and has revealed all that we need to know about eternal life and salvation. For every deep need of man, there is a specific well with living water in it.
The long passage to heaven is called life and it has three doors, one leading to the other in a linear way, faith being the first door, the second door being love of God and others, the third and final door is hope of living forever, sans tears and pain and full of joy. Each day we are taking one more step towards the next door. Between the doors, we need to delve deep into the water of everlasting life and delight in drinking from it. The living water will give us the strength to take the next step with a sense of peace, assurance and security. It will keep us from wandering off the chosen path to some other watering hole where some predator may prey on us. It will keep us from following the bait or red herrings cast on our path by the enemy of our souls to mislead us.

Prateep V Philip

Monday, April 24, 2017

The Flow

UV 2262/10000 The Flow
He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.
John 7 v 38

Psychologists state that the average human is said to be always in a fight or flight mode like any other animal. People do good to those who do good to us and try to hurt those who hurt us. We repay only those who are weaker than us and ignore the acts of the stronger or more powerful. We are fear and stimuli, passion or emotion –driven not faith and principle-driven. We are like flotsam and jetsam being driven in different directions by something or someone much larger and more powerful than us over which or over whom we have no control. Even the relationship with God is reactive: if good happens, we are thankful and glad and bitter and unthankful if anything bad happens in our lives. But the person who believes in Jesus is in a flow mode, not a reactive mode of thought, feeling and action. Several beneficial streams of thought, feeling and action flows from him continually. His thoughts about the Lord are in a continual flow. His feelings of joy at being saved by Jesus, ransomed and redeemed are continually flowing from deep within his heart. His good deeds following the example of Jesus are not in fits and starts but consistent and continuous. His communication or his words are flowing out of the depth of his heart and are sincere, wholesome and life and faith –enhancing.

The flow of the Holy Spirit in us leads to nine tributaries branching off from within our souls: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, humility and self control. These are the streams that flow below the altar of worship in our souls. These are unceasing and always bubbling forth, blessing, touching, leading, inspiring, healing all who come in touch with us. The internal spiritual rivers flowing in us cleanses, sanctifies, edifies us.
The changes that happen in us are not superficial, cosmetic or emotional. The flow of the Word in us imparts knowledge, wisdom and understanding that is not of this world. The Lord uses His word to change the course of our lives, the direction of our growth and the course of our minds according to His pleasing and eternal will. The flow mode of our being implies that we are not in a reactive mode but in a creative mode of being. It enables us not to repay back in the same coin whatever harm or hurt someone causes us. The flow mode is the flow of God’s grace and love and power to seep through our lives. The creative mode also means that there is always a flow of thanksgiving, praise and worship rising up from within us to the Lord. The flow perspective implies that everything that happens has some eternal value. Some movement forward towards our ultimate destiny in Christ is happening all the time, every moment and every day of our lives.

Prateep V Philip

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Perfection and Excellence

UV 2261/10000 Perfection and Excellence
Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.
Matthew 5 v 48

It is said that Maslow, the famous psychologist who wrote about the hierarchy of human needs starting with physiological needs at the base had one blank space to fill up above the need of self realization or self actualisation. But he died before he filled that up. That space which is the capstone is perfection in Christ. In whatever state we are in at the time we believe, we are perfect by grace. We are considered in God’s eyes as perfect when we affirm our faith in Jesus. We are considered perfect by attribution or potentially blessed with all the beautiful attitudes that Jesus said are the attitudes of the blessed of earth and heaven. Now it is up to us in real time to sanctify or perfect ourselves further to be like Jesus in our attributes.

When God called Abraham, who is known as the father of faith, He asked him to be perfect and to walk in His ways. Job was considered perfect and upright in his generation. The mark of perfection is that one loves good or the attributes of God as much as he hates and avoids evil- the attributes of Lucifer. One of the first hallmarks of perfection is perfection or accuracy in what one believes. Is it in accord with the written Word of God? Is there something added in it that comes from human or even church tradition? For instance, to believe in fate or luck is not in accordance with the Word but in accordance with human tradition. Incidentally, the word luck and Lucifer have the first three letters in common. The people of God or the children are God are not people of fate but of faith. We believe in the attributes of the perfect God, the one who is absolutely holy.

The second hallmark of those who are perfect by faith is faithfulness. We are to be faithful to follow the ways of God, the ways and words of Jesus, the ways the Holy Spirit gently nudges us to walk in. We know that we are imperfect people forgiven by grace but we also need to try to be perfect like the Father and the Son Jesus in all our words and ways. We should order our words or our conversations to be in conformity with the patterns indicated in the Word. We should not allow anger, envy or bitterness or negativity of any form to be manifest in our speech or our actions. St James wrote that a man who has control over his tongue is perfect. We should then strive to do good works that bring glory to God. In all our other ways, we might never be absolutely perfect but as long as we strive to keep improving degree by degree, moment by moment, day by day to be like Jesus, we are on track. When we are constantly trying to reach a place called perfection or the ideal, we will practically in real time be in a space called excellence.

Prateep V Philip

Friday, April 21, 2017

The Mourners

UV 2260/10000 The Mourners
Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.

Matthew 5 v 4

Just as Jesus turned the tables of the traders in the temple upside down, He turned the values of the world upside down. Rather, He set them right side up. He asked those who were outward looking for flaws and faults to turn their gaze inward upon themselves. He asked those who placed their trust in the riches of this world to turn their gaze inward and upward to the Lord instead. The values that Jesus taught gave mankind the greatest civilizational leap forward ever known to mankind. It sought to end the perpetual struggle for power, the negativities, the bloodlust, the cruelty, the exploitation of the weak by the strong and the thirst for domination and vendetta. Jesus echoed what the prophet had written, “Not by might or by power but by my Spirit, says the Lord.” The rule of might was replaced by the rule of law and the rule of law was fulfilled by the rule of love.

In this uni-verse, Jesus paradoxically asks us to rejoice when we are sad, grieving, distressed for the Lord Himself will comfort us and enable us to rejoice. When we go through difficulties and troubles, the Lord is closest to us and He sends the Holy Spirit, the Divine Comforter to comfort us and strengthen us from within. He turns our spirit of mourning into one of celebration and dancing. He takes off our sackcloth of repentance and guilt and replaces it with the robes of righteousness. He surrounds us with gladness and joy. Our sighs of regret will turn into the laughter of hope. Our tears will become the seed of our victories in life and in the hereafter. The anointing of the Holy Spirit will produce unusual joy and gladness in us which in turn will trigger praise and worship. Sorrows, curses and regrets will be fugitives, trying to escape from us. The Lord will replace the ugly ashes of defeat and failure in our lives with the beauty of victory and wholesome success.

Jesus in His death and resurrection took away “hamartia” or shortcoming, scarcity, guilt, eternal sorrow, eternal death. The risen and glorified Jesus is at work in us to glorify us or to make us partners in working for the greater glory of God. Now, we mourn not for ourselves but for the perishing world, with a godly sorrow or the sorrow that comes from compassion. This is a sorrow that purifies and does not destroy us. Jesus asked us to carry our cross but never asked us to wear a crown of thorns or frowns. As for us, we know for sure, Jesus has taken us from the miry pit of this world and placed us on a rock foundation on which whatever we build by faith will never be destroyed.

Prateep V Philip

Thursday, April 20, 2017

The Shepherd

UV 2259/10000 The Shepherd
I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.
John `10 v 11

History has a record of many bad shepherds who took the lives of their sheep and only one good Shepherd who gave His life for all. In the Napoleonic wars, 916,0000 French lives were lost for the sake of the ambition of one man – Napoleon Bonaparte. 15 million Germans including 6 million Jews were killed by Nazi Germany under Hitler apart from 30 million plus killed in the Second World War. Add to that the deaths caused by Mao of China, Stalin of Russia and so many other tyrants and dictators across the globe, and we have sordid picture of the rapacity, the lust for power and ruthlessness of bad leaders or shepherds. The distinction between the Good Shepherd and the bad shepherds is that the latter takes lives while the Good Shepherd laid down His own life in order to give eternal life to all.

The bad leaders or shepherds strive for the crown of their own glory. Jesus reserves a crown for His faithful followers or sheep. The bad leaders or shepherds give up easily on their lost sheep while Jesus seeks out the lost sheep, the fallen, the afflicted. The Good Shepherd knows His sheep or followers by name or personally and we too know Him personally. The Good Shepherd feeds the souls of His followers and provides daily for their needs. The bad shepherds feed off the fat of the land and deprive their people of the means of their sustenance. They are blood thirsty and willing to sacrifice any of their followers to sustain themselves in a position of leadership. The earthly forebear of Jesus , David as a shepherd wrestled with a bear and a lion to free his sheep from their deadly claws and jaws. Likewise, the Lord and Shepherd of our souls struggles with the enemy to free us from his clutches and jaws.

The sheep can recognize the voice of the Good Shepherd and distinguish it from the imposter. They flock together when they hear His voice. The Good Shepherd protects His followers from a variety of spiritual predators and the wolves who come disguised in sheep skin to prey on them. The Good Shepherd is all powerful and wise. Yet, He is humble and approachable by His followers at all times. The Good Shepherd Jesus knows not just our bleat or our voice but the very beat of our hearts. He knows each one individually and loves each one intimately. The bad shepherds are insecure and feel threatened if anyone else emerges as a rival shepherd or leader. The Good Shepherd is he chief Shepherd and Bishop of our souls. He is ever willing to share His position and power with other leaders He raises up as shepherds for His followers.
Prateep V Philip

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

The Overcomers

UV 2258/10000 The Overcomers
These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.
John 16 v 33

People of this world seek for plenty, under the assumption that prosperity would assure them of peace and happiness. But, the person who makes much more than he or she needs is like a fisherman who goes fishing, only to catch a whale. The whale of this world would pull him or her out of the boat and pull him or her to the bottom of the sea. His accidental good fortune would destroy him. Instead, we should seek the abundance of peace that Jesus gives those who place their trust in His words. Sufficiency of resources and abundance of peace is a more worthy goal. The words that Jesus has spoken to us in the gospels are the source of strength and help us to overcome the world and its afflictions.

Jesus did not promise His followers a life of ease but He warned them of the trials and tribulations they would face in life as they followed Him. He encourages us with His own example. He faced the most difficult of circumstances, trials and torment but He overcame the world. He overcame sin, He overcame sorrow, He overcame diseases, He overcome shortages of resources, He overcame poverty, He overcame betrayal and isolation, He overcame shame. These are the fiery arrows the enemy aims at each one of us. As we face these adversities, we should neither be troubled nor afraid, sad or depressed. We should be filled with the peace of Jesus. We can rejoice that by faith and grace, we can overcome each of these.

The cause of suffering in this world is the dialectic of the moral universe- the thesis and the antithesis, the Christ and the anti-Christ. The enemy, the anti-Christ is the prince of this world and is unrighteous. He therefore targets the followers of Jesus, the Prince of Peace for following the righteous standards of Jesus. Since Jesus who is with us greater than him who is in this world, we are able to overcome. With the historic victory of Jesus on the cross and from the grave, the antichrist is already defeated and judged. We are declared victors by faith and grace. We are overcomers, more than conquerors, winners and the heroes of yesteryears as without a struggle or efforts on our part, we have conquered, won and accomplished in the spiritual realms. We are adjudged and declared winners even before the fight is over, even before the race is finished.

Prateep V Philip

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Hide and Seek

UV 2257/10000 Hide and Seek
Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field; the which when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field.
Matthew 13 v 44

When Adam and Eve fell from God’s grace, they went and hid behind the trees out of shame and guilt. But today, when we sin we can hide in Jesus. Jesus has revealed all the secrets of heaven- all that we need to gain eternal life. The grace of God revealed in Jesus covers all our sins, past, present and future. It is our clothing, our honour, our righteousness, our food, our shield, our fortress, our promise of eternal life. It is the kingdom of heaven delivered on earth to us through Jesus. This great Truth is the most precious diamond that is hidden in a field. It is the source of our joy and our peace. When we give priority to Jesus and His word and will in our lives, we are selling everything else in order to buy that field with the most valuable treasure in all of the world.

Today, many of us are busy selling the field with our most precious treasure in order to obtain that which is not so valuable. It is obviously most foolish to do so. The decision to sell the field happens as we do not have the faith to realize that the most valuable treasure or diamond is hidden in the field the Lord has given us. We plough for some time in that field but give up too soon. We search for some time but do not persist. We are distracted from the Truth by the pleasures and worries of this world. Since Jesus is a treasure without measure, we are not threatened when others also possess Him. He is a shareable treasure. There is no struggle or competition involved in possessing this treasure of infinite value.

To find the diamond hidden in our field, we need to search and seek with all our heart. We need to seek till we find it. Having found it, we need to keep it in the most secure place- our hearts. In order to keep it in our hearts, we need to empty our hearts of all other treasures and concerns. We should not bargain away our greatest treasure- Jesus for the lesser treasures of this world as Esau did by exchanging his birth right as the elder son for a pot of meat or as Judas did for thirty silver coins. In Jesus are hidden all the treasures of knowledge and wisdom. As we hide in Jesus, the Diamond of Heaven- we need to shine forth with His qualities of the 4 C’s – calmness, compassion, courage and creativity as we confront the temptations and trials of this world. When we act out of fear, it is reaction, when we act out of love and faith, it is creativity. We should play a different kind of hide and seek game that we have been playing this far with God. We should hide in Jesus and seek His word and will in our lives. Hiding His word or keeping and constantly applying it in every field of our lives is equivalent to hiding in Jesus. When we do so, we find the treasure without measure in Him. We should seek our resources to fulfil our need in Him. We should seek His counsel to solve the problems and face the challenges we face in every field of life. We are constantly filled with joy as we are co-owners of the most valuable treasure of heaven and earth.

Prateep V Philip

Monday, April 17, 2017

The Word

UV 2256/10000 The Word
But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.
John 4 v 14

Jesus is described as the Word by John while Jesus interestingly refers to His words as the water of eternal life. In His person, His words, actions, sacrifice of His life on the cross and resurrection from death, Jesus answered all the searching and heart-searing burning questions of mankind as no one else has done or will ever do. Physical thirst can be quenched by water but spiritual thirst can be quenched only by the words of living water spoken by Jesus. Water has multiple uses and spiritual water or the Word has many more uses. The living water of the Word is used to cleanse us from deep within of pride, lust of the eye and lust of the flesh. It satisfies the thirst for joy. It satisfies the thirst for deliverance, for healing, for solutions, for meaning and purpose, for strength to endure suffering. It is used to satisfy the thirst for spiritual wisdom and understanding. It is useful to satisfy the thirst for spiritual power. It satisfies the thirst for love and the esteem of loved ones. It is useful to satisfy the thirst for nobility of the soul and for all round excellence. It is useful for the satisfaction of the thirst for eternal life.

The words spoken by Jesus strengthens the faith and quenches the thirst for intimacy with the Father, the Creator and the Redeemer. Once we store the word in our hearts and minds, dwell in it, meditate on it day and night, trust , obey, apply and delight in it, it wells up in us as fountains of spiritual life or the abundant life. First it begins as a spring, then it flows as a stream and finally, culminates as rivers that gush forth from our hearts. It is God alone who can direct the minds of rulers even as He changes the course of a river. He rules over our minds and hearts and directs the spiritual streams and rivers flowing therein according to the need of the hour. Each day He gives us the specific and apt word to live in and by. This is the rhema verse or portion of scripture that applies to us in the specific situation we find ourselves currently in. A river causes life on banks on either side to flourish: likewise the Word of Jesus causes our lives to flourish on either bank of life- the earthly and the eternal.

Where living water is and where rivers of living water flows, the trees of life would also grow and bear living fruit that enable people to live according to the purpose, design and will of the Lord. The words of Jesus becomes the living seed that the Holy Spirit plants in us to bear the spiritual fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, humility and self control. Self control implies that we have a significant role to play. Self management and leadership should go ahead of our leadership of others and management of other things. Self control is not self reliance or relying on one’s own limited wisdom but applying the principles embedded in the words of Jesus to our lives in every aspect. The words of Jesus imbibed by us should enable us to discipline our appetites for various things- material, emotional, intellectual and spiritual.

Prateep V Philip

Sunday, April 16, 2017

The Bronzen Serpent

UV 2255/10000 The Bronzen Serpent
And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up
John 3 v 14

The bronzen serpent lifted on a pole has become the symbol of modern medicine and of healing. The serpent symbolises all that can cause death and grievous harm to mankind. The bronzen serpent in itself had no power either to harm or help, to heal or to deliver. But Moses was asked to have it made so that the act of faith and obedience of the Israelites in looking towards it with faith would result in healing and deliverance received from the hands of the Almighty God. The bronzen fiery serpent lifted up is a metaphor for the Christ on the cross. The bronzen serpent is a lifeless one and cannot cause death or harm to mankind. Jesus took the place of the bronzen serpent in His death on the cross. In His death, He crushed the heads of the many serpents afflicting this world- death, disease, ignorance, hatred, envy, pride, lust, curses, conflict, pain, misery, poverty, evils of every kind.

Just as only those who looked to the bronzen serpent lifted up on the pole were protected, preserved, healed, delivered from the venom of the many poisonous snakes that roamed about the Israelite camp while they journeyed through the wilderness, we who look to the cross and believe in the resurrection of Jesus to be our living Saviour and personal Redeemer are delivered from the many serpents of this world. The bronzen serpent was a mere token. Being inanimate, it was only a representation of how the powerful serpent had become dead and powerless. But, Jesus being like us in flesh and blood, animate and alive, put to slow death on the cross was no mere token. His suffering, pain and misery on the cross was real and great. It was at once a sufficient payment. Jesus and His word are the antidote for the venom of the sin, curse and afflictions that affect this world. The enemy has lost the battle for the soul of man. He has been dethroned as the one to whom people look in fear and Jesus is lifted up as the King and Saviour to whom everyone can look with faith and receive His love. On the cross, He became the payment for all our shortcomings. He became cursed, weak and powerless for our sake. In Joseph’s tomb, He restored Himself to being the Wonderful Counsellor, the Mighty God, the Resurrection, the Prince of Peace and the Life. He is the True Vine in our lives that bears abundant fruit of various kinds.

In place of the excessive pain and hurt of the curses and afflictions of our wild and unruly past when we acknowledged no single ruler of our hearts, the Lord gives us new hope and strength. He fills our hearts with abundant peace. He helps us with our existential struggles and gives us victory in the challenges we face in our daily lives. As we look to Him as the author and finisher of our faith, He begins writing His story of love and triumph in our lives. He commences the work of strengthening our faith that He is the One who protects, sustains, provides for us. He fills the gaps in our knowledge and our faith and completes or finishes our faith. He defangs the enemy and removes his venom. His sting of death, diseases, loss, failure, accidents, conflicts still hurts us and bruises us but it cannot cause us permanent harm and is no longer lethal. Even for our hurts, Jesus provides His balm of Gilead through prayer and the word.

Prateep V Philip

Saturday, April 15, 2017

The Resurrection

UV 2254/10000 The Resurrection
Command therefore that the sepulchre be made sure until the third day, lest his disciples come by night, and steal him away, and say unto the people, He is risen from the dead: so the last error shall be worse than the first.
Matthew 27 v 64

As the Pharisees feared the second fact or truth of the resurrection from the dead by Jesus has even greater power and impact than the first truth that He surrendered Himself willingly to death to pay the wages that would otherwise have to be paid by every human being. Jesus reserved the greatest miracle for Himself – to resurrect Himself from the dead as it was the will of the Father. He had resurrected others from death like Lazarus of Bethany by the self -same power. But to command His own being to be resurrected was the ultimate exercise of His divine authority. The sin of the world that weighed Him down on the cross could not hold Him prisoner of death.
Jesus in His bodily form before death on the cross did His ministry only locally in Israel. But His resurrection with a glorified body restored Him to be the ruler of Heaven and earth. The ministry of deliverance that He did in Israel of healing, deliverance from demons and preaching the kingdom of God He now does on a universal and global scale. Neither time nor space can confine or constrain Him anymore. He could descend to the depths of hell to deliver the dead of the past. He ascended to heaven to report the fulfilment of His mission on earth. His power of resurrection is now at work in and among us who believe He died for our sins and rose again on the third day and now rules at the right hand of the Father’s throne in Heaven. No grave, however secured or deadly situation can lock us in. Like Jesus we might undergo great troubles but in the end will come out squeaking clean and even more strong and powerful.
With the resurrection power of Jesus now accessible and available to us, no situation is hopeless, nothing is impossible, transformation of our sinful hearts is possible. Acceptance of the death of Jesus on the cross for us makes us righteous from an eternal perspective for His righteousness becomes ours. Acceptance of the resurrection of Jesus makes it possible for us to be righteous in real time. We can rejoice for our physical death is no longer a full stop to our lives but just a comma , a momentary pause in our journey into eternity. The two truths together takes the sting out not only of death, but of shame, defeat, failure, sorrows, pain, suffering and misery. Belief in the resurrection of Jesus and our own appropriation by faith of the same power will make us not only resilient as we have the “bounce back” power in any situation but it makes us triumphant. Jesus became in this one act the one and only invincible hero and conqueror of death itself. Our hope of our own resurrection makes us also more than any earthly king, conqueror or hero. The enemies of Jesus continued to conspire against Him even after taking His life and yet their plans and plots were thwarted. No grave, however secured or deadly situation can lock us in. Like Jesus we might undergo great troubles but in the end will come out squeaking clean and even more strong and powerful.

Prateep V Philip

Friday, April 14, 2017

The Determination

UV 2253/10000 The Determination

And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.
Matthew 5 v 29

This uni-verse spoken by Jesus does not mean that we literally gouge out our eyes to end lust of the flesh and the lust of life, sexual lust as well as covetousness. It implies that we should be as determined not to sin as we would be if we knew it would result in the loss of vision in one eye or the loss of an arm. Jesus the sinless One became SIN so that the sinful become sinless. He became the curse so that the cursed become blessed. He had His whole body cast into hell for the sake of all who might repent. He had His whole body wounded and bruised for our sins. Now that the huge cost has been paid, we ought to sincere in our repentance and ruthless in our own attitudes to real time sins- thoughts, words or deeds that offend the Lord. We should be so ruthless that we are willing to pull it out by its roots, burn it to ashes, destroy it to its foundations, dismember every part of it.

Our whole being, spirit, minds and bodies are consecrated and dedicated to the Lord as His “live in” and living temple. Sin and its corollaries-death, disease, defeat and curses cannot and should not rule over us. The kingdom of Jesus and His law which is the word written into our hearts and minds rule over us. We need to introspect and examine our hearts constantly whether anything in us is offensive to the Lord and be ready to cast it down into the bottom of the sea. The old sinful man should be buried if not cremated so that it does not resurrect itself and the new man should be resurrected, revived, fed, strengthened, encouraged, developed. We need to amputate the cause of sin in our lives. We judge ourselves so that we are not judged.

The uni-verse is exhorting us to get rid of anything sinful in our lives, lock, stock and barrel so that it does not come back to haunt us again. Spiritual growth is much like the two way processes of the human body- the anabolic or the building up process and the katabolic or the destructive process. We need to practice death by crucifixion and resurrection in a spiritual sense and simultaneously. The litmus test to determine which aspects or elements of our lives we need to get rid of and which ones to nurture and develop is whether it is beneficial for us in the long term and in the eternal term. Instead of sweeping our weaknesses under the carpet, we need to place these in the garbage can or better still consign it to the shredder.

Prateep V Philip

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

The Bread

UV 2252/10000 The Bread

Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed
John 6 v 27

Jesus advices the people not to work for food that spoils but to work for food that endures to eternal life which He alone can give. It implies that all the techniques, solutions, methods of man are futile and ineffective in resolving life’s great issues of eternal death and eternal life. Even the manna provided by God to the Israelites during their journey to the promised land spoilt if kept overnight but the Bread of Life stays fresh forever. Jesus did not say that we should not work for our bread and butter or our livelihood but that it should not be the purpose of our existence. Jesus is the Eternal Bread sent by God for sustaining us eternally. The very act of believing this is accounted in God’s economy as labour. As we believe that He has been sent by God and that He is of God and is same as God, we too receive by faith the seal of approval that Jesus carries. Though we die physically, yet shall we live forever.

If believing in Jesus as the source of salvation is the Bread of eternal life, the water we drink is the Word. The Word answers every question of man, enables us to face every challenge of life, face every threat, overcome every difficulty. It becomes a wellspring or fountain of life from deep within our heart to satisfy our spiritual thirst. The bread or food and drink that the world provides is often contaminated and can be the source of disease and ill health. But, the Word in us is the source of spiritual as well as holistic health and blessing. We delight in consuming this spiritual bread and water. With the Bread of Life – Jesus in our hearts, we cease to be accursed beings and become blessed. We now have a higher purpose than to just keep body and soul together. Our perspective is transformed from the temporal to the eternal.

Belief in Jesus transforms us from working for ourselves and for our families to being the servants of the Lord. He pays or rewards us for our faith and our every effort with the wages of eternal life. Belief in Jesus and the Word applied in our lives becomes the source of nine spiritual rivers that flow out of our hearts - love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, humility and self control. It is through these nine streams flowing always from our hearts and minds that we are not only satisfied spiritually or blessed but we become a source of blessing and encouragement for others. In all that we speak and do, we sow the seed of the Bread of Eternal Life in other human beings.

Prateep V Philip

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

The Anchor

UV 2251/10000 The Anchor
Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast, and which entereth into that within the veil;
Hebrews 6 v 19

The concept of anchor is thrown up in this uni-verse as a precept to follow, a concept to understand and apply to life, leadership and management. Our souls or minds need an anchor as these are always travelling from one thing to another, sometimes at great speed. We need anchors for our souls and spirits to face the storms of life. When we worry over a particular thing we are facing a thought storm and we need to anchor our minds lest we get driven onto the rocks of sorrow, frustration and desperation. Our anchor needs to be strong and secure, so that the storm does not blow it this way or that. Anchoring then is a thought process based on trust and faith in the Lord. By means of this anchoring process, we can remain calm and peaceful even when a storm is raging all round us.

We need to view ourselves as boats and ships travelling in the ocean called God as He is more infinite than the universe itself, His creation. Jesus helps us anchor in this ocean. He is the anchor of our spiritual storms. He holds us in a place of safety when the world faces the wrath of His judgement. He is the anchor of our hearts and minds who is sure or stable and steadfast or faithful. His stability and faithfulness is proven in history. Now, we only need to have the certain hope that He will prove faithful, stable and able to fulfil His promises to us. Justification of our souls before God is His responsibility, rectification is our response implying that we need to make course corrections to the navigation chart of our lives. All the time we are personally related and connected with God through Christ we are anchored and all the time we are not connected, we are unhinged, unsafe, unprotected.

In the book of Acts when the ship on which Paul was being escorted under guard to Rome faced a tempest, they cast down four anchors to stabilise the ship and keep it from getting wrecked on the rocks of the nearby shore. Yet it was not these anchors that saved the lives of all on the ship but Paul’s faith in the saving power of Jesus. The ship itself was eventually lost but all the lives on board were saved. Very often in lives, we come upon situations that are like huge storms, situations over which we have no control. During these storms, the Lord reveals His grace and power by preserving us from great harm. It is always a temptation to trust certain physical or natural anchors like our finances, our earthly connections, our abilities but Jesus is the single and ultimate Anchor of our souls. He is the Anchor of human history, too and of eternity. We need to spend time each day anchored to Him or tethered to Him like a ship is tied with strong ropes that cannot be easily broken even by the mightiest winds and waves. The powerful ropes connecting us with Jesus are prayer, word, the Holy Spirit, faith, hope and love.

Prateep V Philip

Monday, April 10, 2017

The Power

UV 2250/10000 The Power
And when he saw a fig tree in the way, he came to it, and found nothing thereon, but leaves only, and said unto it, Let no fruit grow on thee henceforward for ever. And presently the fig tree withered away
Matthew 21 v 19

Jesus was hungry before He saw the fig tree from a distance and thought that it should bear enough fruit to satisfy His hunger. From a distance, the thick foliage of the fig tree made it appear as if it was loaded with fruit. On coming near, He discovered that it had no fruit fit for Him to eat. He pronounced a mild admonition that led to the tree withering away to its very roots. This puzzling incident is a metaphor for the hunger the Lord has to see useful fruit in our daily lives. There is no season for bearing spiritual fruit, no gestation period, no summer heat required to ripen it. We are to bear fruit daily in our lives to satisfy the hunger of the Lord. The fruit may be in terms of internal fruit- atttitudes and qualities or external fruit in terms of actions to bless others, good deeds and communicating in various ways both verbal and non verbally to share the love of God with people.

We cannot all our lives just be full of good intentions or words like the fig tree was full of leaves. God expects results or fruit in our lives and He cannot be disappointed. Even a mild admonition on His part can wither our whole being to our very roots. We cannot take His mercy and grace for granted. The withering of the fig tree is a warning to all mankind that we live for the pleasure of the Lord and not vice versa, that the Lord’s displeasure can have deadly consequences and we should do nothing to provoke it. Jesus warned people against being like white washed sepulchres or decorated graves with only the outer signs but denying the inner power and authority. We cannot appear to be grafted to Him without allowing the sap of His power to flow through us. We need to abide in Him or stay continually in fellowship with Him, learning from Him, trusting Him, obeying Him, following His example. Any branch that does not remain in Him is to be removed like the fig tree. Any branch that is not bearing enough and good fruit is to be cleansed or pruned so that it bears more and better fruit.

The withering fig tree is also a depiction of the devastating power of the prayer, thoughts and words of a righteous person. Just as the veil in the Temple was torn from top to bottom as Jesus died on the cross, our prayers and words can tear down evil strongholds down to its foundations or roots. It was a demonstration by Jesus to His disciples of the power and authority they wield over nature and to command any spiritual obstacle in their path to be removed.

Prateep V Philip

Sunday, April 9, 2017

The Presence

UV 2249/10000 The Presence
Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore
Psalm 16 v 11

The joys of this world are transient, ephemeral, tantalising, half empty and pyrrhic or extracting a greater cost than they give. The true fullness of joy one can have only in the presence of the Lord. Once we are continually related to Jesus, He shows us the path we need to take. He will lead us to the fountains of life though He takes us through a narrow and often rocky path. He will feed us as a shepherd feeds his sheep. He will wipe our tears or remove the root cause of our sorrows and pain as a shepherd removes the thorn pierced in the limbs of the sheep.

Instead of the transient and undependable or deceitful joys of this world, the Lord will give us eternal pleasures of being in His presence. Buddha taught the eight fold path to salvation, Mahavira taught the three fold path but Jesus Himself became our path to salvation and eternal joy and pleasure. He declared Himself as the Way, the Truth and the Life. He is the Way to a personal relationship with the Lord God. Once we are in a personal relationship with God, we find eternal joy in the Truth of His word and we have the eternal and abundant life, lacking in no good thing. We enjoy in His presence, the pleasure of divine wisdom, the pleasure of His strength, the pleasure of knowledge that He is in control of our lives, the pleasure of overcoming obstacles and hindrances in our lives, the pleasure of knowing we have immortality, that we will not suffer eternal death though we die physically.

The prophet Isaiah speaks of two eternal joys we have in the presence of the Lord: the joy of the farmer- a rich harvest, our diligent and faithful efforts will eventually bear a result and a reward and the joy of the victorious warrior. We also have the joy of knowing that we are fulfilling the purpose of our existence. True success is fulfilling the purpose for which we are created in His image and redeemed by His Son. The material presents of God are immaterial. The presence of God with us will make the place we are in just now part of heaven. We will enjoy eternal peace, gladness of heart and celebrate the kingdom of God in us with hymns, psalms and spiritual songs. The presence of the Lord with us will hae a moderating influence on us such that we will not go into an emotional high followed by a low. Nearness to Him makes us able and stable. The presence of the Lord with us will distinguish us as it did the ancient Israelites under Moses. People will see that we are special and different. The Israelites had consistent victory against multiple and formidable foes and enemies. They experienced miraculous intervention of the Lord. In contrast to a pyrrhic victory, we enjoy massive victory against heavy odds without paying the cost. We live the full, true, abundant and eternal life at the expense of Jesus.

Prateep V Philip

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Great News

UV 2248/10000 Great News
Behold upon the mountains the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace! O Judah, keep thy solemn feasts, perform thy vows: for the wicked shall no more pass through thee; he is utterly cut off.
Nahum 1 v 15

Every human being from the point of birth faces challenges. The greatest of challenges a man faces is death. Next to death is disease. Next to disease is poverty. Next to that is failure. Apart from these are the challenges of loneliness, the challenge of overcoming one’s own weaknesses and fears. We are never sure where the bad news or the difficulty will hit us from- the north, south, east or west. The purpose of life for the vast majority is not to seek happiness but to overcome these mountainous challenges. The tidings or news that tell us that it is possible to overcome these great challenges of life without paying the heavy cost of facing it alone brings great joy to our hearts. Part of the joy of hearing good news is sharing it with others. Jesus proved in the course of His earthly journey that He has power to deal with every human challenge including the disasters posed by nature. He has power to command the dead to rise to life. the sick to be healed, the mentally ill to be cured, the possessed to be delivered, the poor to be blessed, the depressed to be encouraged, the rich, powerful and wicked to be humbled. He has the power to smoothen the rough patches we go through and to prevent the wicked and powerful from oppressing us.

In the context of these challenges, the news of the resurrection of Jesus is the happiest twist to the saddest ending and it holds in it the good news of the promise and hope of the happiest ending to every human’s sad or glad story. It is not news that we will all one day die but the great news is that we will live forever thereafter in our resurrected bodies even as Jesus rose from the dead. It is not news that we will face challenges, problems, afflictions but the Lord will deliver us, redeem us, preserve us, heal us, strengthen us. We are not just to be receivers of good news like these but conveyors and publishers of peace and goodwill among all mankind. When we do so, even our lowest extremities, our feet will be as blessed as our heads and our entire being. Where our feet touch, the Red Sea and the Jordan will part. Obstacles as large as mountains will be flattened like plains before us.

The new covenant relationship that Jesus forges between us and God does not liberate us from our commitments to God and man but we can celebrate in a sober way and with reverence each moment of our lives as people saved by the Lord. The wicked one, the enemy of our souls has no more power of the yoke of death and sin over us. He can no longer drive us like oxen to plough his fields but we are called to be sowers of the seed of faith, the seed of good news of healing, deliverance, breaking of bondages of every kind, the seed of royal and priestly authority vested in each believer in Jesus, the seed of provision, the seed of salvation. These are not given to us in our laps as full blown plans or plants but as seed that we should through our commitment and patience and diligence grow to the maturity of the crops at harvest.

Prateep V Philip

Friday, April 7, 2017

God's Chosen Donkey

UV 2247/100000 God’s Chosen Donkey

Saying unto them, Go into the village over against you, and straightway ye shall find an ass tied, and a colt with her: loose them, and bring them unto me.
Mattew 21 v 2

Why did Jesus choose that particular donkey? The answer to that question will perhaps determine why He has chosen you and me. The donkey was not chosen as it was the most beautiful, strongest, fastest, youngest, smartest, wisest, most trained or obedient or disciplined or best. It was not chosen for its gender or colour or for its comfortable woolly coat or the contours of its structure. It was chosen as the Lord needed that donkey at that particular moment in His earthly journey to fulfil the prophecy: “Your King is coming to you, lowly and sitting on a donkey..” It was Jesus’ sovereign choice to ride that particular donkey as it is His sovereign choice to rule in our lives as King and Saviour. The permanent owner of the donkey was claiming the donkey’s use from the temporary owner. Hence, there was no need to seek permission or pay hire charges. Likewise, the organisations, the nations, the families, the society that we belong to are our temporary owners. When our Eternal Owner asks for us, none of these temporary owners can hold us back. The donkey knew that all the praise and appreciation that came along the way was for Jesus. Like the donkey, we should consider that it is enough of an honour to be used by Jesus to carry His message to the world and seek no reward or honour beyond that. For us like the donkey, seeking, doing the Lord’s will is the Kingdom of heaven. The important thing is to be ready like the donkey and his owner to respond immediately, without hesitation or reluctance to any call of the Lord. The Lord had a particular task cut out for the particular donkey. He did not compare it with any other contemporary and choose this one as it was better in comparison or competition. It is an unique calling, preparation and enablement. The Lord chose the time and place to declare his intent to ride this donkey.

Obviously, the donkey was strong and fit enough to carry Jesus. We too should ensure that we are physically, mentally, emotionally, socially, professionally and spiritually fit enough to carry the message of Jesus to the world around us. The donkey’ s owner or his servants did not resist the command of the Lord to send the donkey to fulfil Jesus’s mission. Neither we nor anyone close to us should resist the will of God concerning any talent, ability, resource He wants to use. We should not therefore be only fit and able but also willing to do the will of the Lord and not hold back anything that will advance the kingdom of God on earth. Everything we are and everything we own belongs to the Lord. He has lent it to us for a period of time but anytime He asks for it we should be ready to give it back to Him either temporarily or for good. The presence of Jesus on the donkey was enough reward and enough blessing. It was no guarantee that the donkey would get more fodder the next day or get less beating.

Jesus was using the natural, a mere donkey, to manifest the supernatural. The world assigns the meanest of tasks to the donkey-carrying burdens for others, trudging difficult terrain and hardy paths. Likewise, we can carry the burdens of the world for the sake of the Lord. Jesus could have chosen the grander beast- the horse to ride in glory into Jerusalem to the cries of Hosanna on Palm Sunday but He chose the humbler cousin of the horse, the donkey. Likewise, we might not be the smartest people in town or even in the street but the Lord knows our potential and can use us despite our stubbornness, our lack of the smart quotients of this world. Every believer can stay humble despite the great things God has accomplished through him or her by thinking of self as God’s chosen donkey. Jesus in me and Jesus on me can do all things that are pleasing to the Lord. We will never take credit for all that He has done in us, for us and with us. We will just be grateful for God’s grace that we have been chosen to do this or that or to receive this blessing or that. Like the donkey on Palm Sunday, we will be content to be led step by step on the path the Lord takes us. It might be a good idea that we are introduced in some meetings not as “great men or women of God”, as a remarkable leader, as a wonderfully gifted person but as God’s chosen donkey. For as the account of the donkey shows us that there are no great men of God but only men of a great God.

Prateep V Philip

Thursday, April 6, 2017

The Sword

UV 2246/10000 The Sword
Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword
Matthew 10 v 34

Believers in Jesus are the most peaceful people and yet ironically, they are the most persecuted and tormented right through the ages from Roman times to the present day world. They will have the utmost peace in their hearts but all around they face strife and trouble. They are neither violent nor disorderly and yet they will be falsely accused. Even persons belonging to their own homes and families often turn against them and try to harm them. Those who are not for Jesus act against those who are for Him. This uni-verse is confirmation of the promise that the believer would be hated by his own people.

The words of Jesus is like a sword of truth that penetrates the human heart. The ones who are inclined to knowing and obeying the truth will love and trust His words and Him while those who are not inclined to know the truth and obey it will hate and distrust Him and His words. Like a double-edged sword, the word of Jesus penetrates the speaker and the listener. Some like the Samaritan woman welcomed it and accepted it while some like Herod and Pilate resented it and opposed it tooth and nail. The latter were not willing to give up the evil of their hearts and lives and hence, turned a deaf ear to the words of Jesus. The darkness cannot comprehend the light and does not want to do so. Hence, it opposes the light or the truth.

Having said that, the words of Jesus brings eternal peace to the one who receives it with faith. It brings peace with God, with self and with others. It is the kind of peace that persists and cannot be affected by circumstances nor can it be disturbed or taken away by somebody. The words of Jesus bring inner healing and restoration. The words of Jesus imparts wisdom and understanding. The words of Jesus contained in the four gospels are the source of many blessings, both earthly and eternal. In the book of Revelation, the Lord is depicted as rider of a horse with a fiery sword coming out of His mouth. It implies that the words of Jesus in our mouths, minds and hearts is a purifying, cleansing, sanctifying fire as well as a weapon of defence, a source of power in our lives to enable us to emerge victorious.
Prateep V Philip

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

The Testing

UV 2245/10000 The Testing
That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ
I Peter 1 v 7

Our faith is many times more valuable than gold or any other precious stone or metal. The reason is that by means of the latter one can attain certain ends on earth but it is only faith that enables us to live forever beyond physical life and death on earth. But faith needs to be tested through suffering for its genuineness and its qualities of purity, strength, endurance even as gold is tested in fire. Often, objects that look like pure gold have only an outer coating while inside it is some other inferior metal. Likewise, the Lord is not deceived by outer appearances but looks at the qualities of the heart of a person.

Faith is also valuable as it gives us access to the agape love of the Lord. It gives us access to His power and grace, His anointing, counsel, leading and wisdom. In times of crisis and suffering, we are tested to see if we hold onto our faith or whether we deny our faith or act in contradiction to what we believe in or in disobedience to the Word. We are tested to see if we are willing to pay the price of following Jesus. Our inner motives are tested- whether we think, speak or do a certain thing in order to please our own inner compulsions or to please and honour the Lord. If our faith emerges intact and stronger after a particular test, it will bring great pleasure, joy and honour to the Lord. Gold that is impure will evaporate or melt under intense heat of the fire of the furnace but pure gold will outlast the fire and emerge even purer and stronger. The pure molten gold can be beaten into any shape, size and for any use by the maker. Likewise, if our faith is pure and strong, the Lord can put our lives to use. We should therefore, not strive for the approval of men but to do the pleasing and perfect will of the Lord.

Our faith is the treasure that we can store in heaven, that neither moth nor rust nor fire can destroy. What we are at the end of our lives, after facing many struggles, problems, challenges, tests, trials, suffering, oppression, persecution is the end product of God’s assembly line. We have passed all the quality tests and are fit for the kingdom of God. We are cleansed, perfected, equipped from within to shine for the Lord, to bring glory to His name. Each test or trouble we endure and overcome should make us better and better, a little more like the best- Jesus. This is what pleases, satisfies, glorifies the Lord.

Prateep V Philip

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

The Bread of Life

UV 2244/10000 The Bread of Life
And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.
John 6 v 35

Jesus referred to Himself as the Bread that came from heaven. He referred to His body as the Bread and His blood as the wine. The bread that came from heaven was called manna in the Old Covenant days. That manna did not last beyond a day. It was perishable and had virtually no shelf life. But Jesus is the eternal manna, Bread that is not perishable. He is the Bread that will never become spoilt, stale or out-dated. Every day of our lives and for the rest of eternity, Jesus satisfies us by His words, actions and what He had done in history. He is the Bread in our afflictions or the One who strengthens us and sustains us during our times of trouble. The account of the biblical hero Gideon talks of a dream seen by the guards of the enemy camp – a roll of bread hitting the enemy camp and flattening it. Likewise, Jesus is the Bread of Victory who flattens the enemy camp and gives us complete victory in our lives. In the Sermon on the Mount, He said, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness for they shall be satisfied.” That promise is fulfilled in His body being broken on the cross and His blood shed on the cross. Every human being has an inner hunger and thirst for righteousness or being right with God. That hunger is for justification or being declared right with God. The thirst is for a sense of personal righteousness in conformity with the image of God.

Faith in Jesus and feeding on His word provides food and drink for our souls. It strengthens us from within. It nourishes us. It enables us to do the will of the Lord in our lives. Our hunger and thirst for righteousness cannot be fulfilled by merely doing a lot of good deeds. The absolute level of righteousness or perfection of the Lord cannot be attained by any man. But Jehovah Tsidkenu or Jehovah Our Righteousness provides for our justification and righteousness through the sacrifice of His Son Jesus. Mere belief in the provision of righteousness by faith and grace satisfies our hunger and thirst for righteousness. We are declared righteous by faith before the Lord. The communion of bread and wine is an external symbol of this internal change in our lives.

Having been declared righteous by the Lord, we are now in a state of eternal blessedness as promised in the beatitudes of Jesus. We are now inheritors of the precious life-giving, life enabling promises of the Lord. We now have a responsibility to also do our best to be righteous in actual point of fact in terms of our attitudes, speech, conduct, actions and contribution. In this state of blessedness combined with responsiveness on our part, nine rivers of blessing flow from our hearts outward to others- love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, humility and self control. Faith then is a coin with two sides: our response to the facts, claims and promises of Jesus and our responsiveness to His teachings and commands.

Prateep V Philip

Monday, April 3, 2017

The Increase

UV 2243/10000 The Increase
He must increase, but I must decrease.
John3 v 30

The attitude of John the Baptist vis-à-vis Jesus was not one of rivalry but of humbling himself to give all glory to Jesus. John knew that his destiny was to be the precursor or forerunner heralding the Messiah, calling people unto repentance but that his mission, calling and anointing was far smaller and less significant than the anointing of Jesus. John did not resent the increasing stature of Jesus and his own declining significance. He said that he was not worthy enough to tie the sandals of Jesus. He knew that if he baptised people in water, Jesus baptises people with the Holy Spirit.

We need to emulate the attitude of John the Baptist and pray that “Jesus must increase in us while we must decrease.” Our egos must decline or decrease. Our pride and love of the world should decrease. His love and compassion in us should increase. Our own abilities and wisdom should play a lesser role and we should allow the grace and wisdom of Jesus to take control of our lives. John the Baptist was surrendering his claim of leadership to Jesus. We too should surrender the leadership and influence of our lives to Jesus. It implies a steady giving up on our own claims to greatness, fame, rights- a constant dying to self and living for Christ.
Once John had fulfilled his role as the herald of the King of Kings Jesus, he was imprisoned and brutally beheaded by Herod to please the latter’s wife and her daughter. We too after fulfilling the God-given responsibilities and role assigned to us should prepare to vacate our place on earth and leave for our heavenly abode. While we live we must constantly experience a decrease of our own selves and the increase of Jesus in our lives. His character and His word should increasingly impact and influence our thoughts, words and actions. The power and work of the Holy Spirit increases in us even as our reliance on our own understanding and knowledge declines over time. The anointing of the Holy Spirit will teach us all things. John experienced some doubt whether Jesus is the Messiah while he was imprisoned. Jesus told his disciples to tell him about the great miracles that He was doing as the evidence of His being the Messiah. Our fears, suspicions, doubts, regrets should decline and our faith, hope, love in Christ should increase as we see the evidence of the miracles Jesus has done in our lives this far. Our assurance of salvation in Jesus must be so sure that every act of us should be designed to bring greater glory to Jesus.

Prateep V Philip

Sunday, April 2, 2017

The Empathetic Saviour

UV 2242/10000 The Empathetic Saviour
For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin
Hebrews 4 v 15

Jesus suffered all the privations of life of the average human being of the time. He suffered hunger, poverty, pain, shame, loneliness, discomfort, rigours of journeying, homelessness, mental agony but He never complained or grumbled about His lot. He endured all these sufferings so that He would know the pain of every human born into a world of sin and afflictions. As the High Priest of the Most High God, He is holy and righteous but as a human being, He knew the extent and the types of weaknesses and temptations that humans face. He empathised with the pain and misery of the human condition. He endured the greatest pain and misery of the most cruel and prolonged form of punishment- the crucifixion. To this day, He feels the pain of people everywhere as if it is His own. He remembers the intense pains He suffered on earth. Only if a person is empathetic will He use His competencies and resources to help the needy. Jesus said, “ I came for the needy.” Not for the self righteous, the self satisfied, the complacent, those who think they are not in any need of a Saviour.

One with God for all eternity, He became one of us for a time, He won over sin and death so that He could own all of us. One of our kind had brought sin into the world. One of our kind had to break the power of sin and death. He was not exempted from the temptations of human flesh but His spirit proved stronger than flesh and blood. He could therefore make the full payment for our peace with God, peace with others and peace within ourselves. A High Priest offered some animal for blood sacrifice to redeem himself and others in the sight of God but Jesus as High Priest offered Himself as the blood sacrifice.

Jesus understands our weaknesses, our pain, our suffering and hence, He is most competent to offer us wise counsel as well as solutions or remedies for our afflictions. Since He commanded His own body to come alive again as a resurrected body, He is competent to be the living Saviour. During His earthly sojourn, He healed all types of afflictions –physical, moral, spiritual and is therefore, a proven Healer for our afflictions. His overcoming of the ultimate and absolute challenge to life- death proves that He is the greatest and mightiest of rulers and conquerors, greater and mightier than all the earthly kings and military leaders who ruled by their ability to put people to death. He rules by giving people the right to live forever in the presence of the Lord or eternal life. Jesus as High Priest did not remain distant and aloof from people. Jesus sought the company of sinners and gave them His love, demonstrating that He is a friend to every weak and sinful human.

Prateep V Philip