Sep 10, 2017

Failures and God's plan for us - Trial of Faith Series

Failures & God's plan for us
There's something in all of us that intuitively resists failure. Yet, all of us have been touched by failure at some point of our lives. We may have recovered from those failures, but even now, there is that shame that is associated with the failure. When we look back, we may think "God! Surely we knew better than that!". Today, I would like to meditate on failure as a great trial of our faith. We may have failed in our jobs, academics, in our family life, in our Christian walk, in our ministry. Let's ask the Lord for a faith and a relation with the Lord that's strong even in our times of failure.

Luke 22:31-32 "Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers." 

Peter was a strong apostle. Even before he was raised in the apostolic ranks, we see a strength of personality in him. A natural leader, an impulsive man, one who wouldn't hesitate to leave the boats and follow the Lord, one who would easily jump out of the boat to swim to the Lord or to leave the comfort of the boat to walk on water. The owner of a large heart - one who desired to do much for the Lord. We see him as a natural choice. Yet, the spiritual world operates on principles which are contrary to nature. In his very strength lay a weakness, which if allowed to continue, would bring down his ministry and life as a crack in the foundation can bring down the house that it's founded upon. Pls note: Peter was strong - but his confidence was in himself and not in God. The high degree of revelation that he received from God elevated his spirit and the calling as a leader further cemented the pedestal on which he had placed himself. The immense potential of Peter as a threat to his kingdom & the impetuous statements he made about his infallibility attracted satan's desire to sift Peter as wheat. But remember, God's on the throne! Can we start seeing satan as a mere instrument in God's hands to produce the transformation in us - to reveal our weaknesses, to cut us to shape, to remove our rough edges?

The greatest hindrance to Peter being used as a disciple and apostle is not satan. It is Peter himself. He is totally self confident but his confidence is not in God. He is rather proud of himself and thinks he'll never ever betray the Lord. Mat 26:33 - though all leave you, I will not be offended with you. (in other words, Lord, you don't know what you are talking about - I am made of better stuff than all the others!) 

The Lord sees pride as a greater danger than any other sin. God resists the proud and gives grace to the humble. Unless Peter learns to rely on Jesus and Him alone, he will never be able to qualify for the apostolic task that Jesus had for him. His current spiritual state meant that he had to be sifted before the Lord could use him. Sifting meant that the grain and chaff in Peter's life is to be separated. Sifting meant that the false foundations which he may have laid for his life (natural strength & ability) will be demolished before the true foundation (Christ) is laid. Sifting meant severe trials that he will go through. Yes, it even meant failure - to the point that Peter will deny the Lord before a little servant girl. How the mighty fall!

This is not just about Peter. It's about every child of God who has been given a promise by the Lord. In the above verses, the Lord says: I have prayed for you. Our High-priest (the Lord Jesus) is not one who is untouched by our weaknesses. He is not bothered about your failures. You may fail - But your faith shouldn't fail. Today, we can stand and say that we have been buffeted by forces and people stronger than us. And to our grief, we've failed far too many times. Yet, we are here by God's grace, thanks to His intercession for us. (therein lies the difference between the apostasy of Judas and the restoration of Peter)

A failed (and restored) Peter is a tender-hearted Peter. No more confidence in self. Humbled and yielded as a vessel in the Lord's hands. He is no more desirous of being No.1. But is thankful that his name is in the book of life. He doesn't compete with his brethren. He is able to stand with them on the day of Pentecost and preach the Good News. As the Lord prayed for him, once he was converted he was able to strengthen his brethren. It is such a person who is able to pen the verse 1 Pet 5:10 to the edification of the weak brethren who may be in a season of trials.  
And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ,after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast

Dear friend, if you have failed, you are in good company. We are in the hands of a potter who makes us into a beautiful vessel even despite our failures and shortcomings. But our faith - let it not fail!

Sep 5, 2017

Chastisement and Discipline - Trial of Faith Series

Heb 12:5-6 And you have forgotten that word of encouragement that addresses you as sons: "My son, do not make light of the Lord's discipline, ​and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, ​and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son."

Many of the trials of our life are because we have committed mistakes. The Lord prefers that we endure His punishment and disciplinary action than to suffer the judgment and be separated from Him for all eternity. Punishment  Judgment. In an earlier thought, we meditated on the Lord who tries the righteous (Jer 20:12). The same God chooses to discipline us with his chastisement because that is a mark of our Sonship!  I may observe many children in my neighborhood committing mistakes and sins. And I do not go about beating them for their sins. But if my own son does a mistake, I wouldn't think much about rebuking him and maybe even beating him, because I'd much rather that he accepts my punishment and be provoked to righteousness. The punishment that we endure as a child doesn't spoil our relation with the Father. In fact, our relation with Him is stronger after that.

The word says: Do not lose heart when He rebukes you. Job 5:17 says: Blessed is the man whom the Lord corrects. So don't despise His chastening. Rev 3:19 reminds us: that He is indeed interested in correction and repentance (Those whom I love, I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent.) Prov 3:11-12 reminds us the same fact, but also adds this truth - For whom the LORD loveth he correcteth; even as a father the son [in whom] he delighteth.      If the Lord delights in you, he will correct you! He is not done with you yet. He knows that your heart is still soft and tender and will yield to His correction. Heb 12:9 says: If you endured your father's punishment (and yet respected them for it), How much more should we submit to the Lord who holds our spirits and live unto eternity?!

One of the reasons why you lose heart is when you look around. You may observe many, even people who seemingly know the Lord, who seem to do their own evil plans and yet, they are not touched by God. They don't seem to be rebuked by Him or punished. Heb 12:8 soberly reminds us that it's only the True Sons who are chosen for discipline. The illegitimate children are not disciplined. They are left to reap the consequences of their evil.

For the ultimate good !
Heb 12:10-11 Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.

Dearly beloved, take courage and strengthen yourself (Heb 12:12). The reason why we maybe in a season of heaviness is because of His loving chastisement and punishment. It is going to produce a holy Fear in us which will provoke us to greater holiness and righteousness. Indeed, all things work together to the good of those who love God and those who are called unto His purpose to work in us the image of the Lord Jesus Christ himself.

Aug 18, 2017

Refining process - Trial of Faith Series

Trial of Faith - Refining process
Isa 48:10 Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver; I have tried and chosen you in the furnace of affliction
One of the difficult processes of the various trials of faith involve a deep cleansing of the heart of the saint of God. The Psa 17:3 reminds us that there indeed is a God who visits us to test us and to prove us! And His tests involve a refining process.

1 Peter 1:7 says - The trial of our faith is like the purification of precious gold. The refining of gold involves extreme heat which separates the pure gold from the base metals which are united into the matrix of the gold ore. (Jer 9:7says:  I will melt them and try them! Isa 1:25 says he will purge away the dross and take away the tin)  God sees in us the ability to hold the divine substance (nature of God). This is why He created us in His image and likeness. From the day that he saved us through faith in Jesus Christ, He is at work cleansing our heart from all filthiness of flesh. The refining process is designed to separate the base from the holy. That's why Job knew despite his many trials that once he is tested, he shall come forth as pure gold (Job 23:10)

Zec 13:9 reminds us that he will refine us like silver and test us like gold - before he calls us His people and His children. Mal 3:3 says: God shall purify the levites (a picture of the new testament royal priesthood) before His coming (so that the day of His coming will be hope & joy for us and not judgment). Many of our life circumstances are tailor-made to complete the good work that he has started in us.

Indeed most of the saints of God came to know Jesus personally as they went through difficult trials of refining in their life. Isa 48:10 says: behold I have chosen you in the furnace of affliction. Dear friend, take heart. the Lord knows what he is doing. 1 Pet 4:12 is our strong hope in trials - don't be surprised at the trial that you are going through. It's not something strange and unique for you. All saints of God go through it. You will not be tested beyond your ability and along with every trial, he will make a way of escape. If you hold onto Jesus, he will see you through the trial and you will emerge better finer and stronger (and more Christ-like) through it all. God bless!

Aug 3, 2017

When God Delays - Trial of Faith series

Ps 13:1 How long wilt thou forget me, O LORD? for ever? how long wilt thou hide thy face from me?

As we are on the topic of the trials of faith, one of the foremost tests for a disciple of Jesus is the trial of waiting. Or what we could call "Divine Delays". If you find yourself waiting, if you think the Lord has passed you by, if you find that the Lord has delayed beyond your expectation, take courage. You are in good company. All the saints of God have gone through this process. Abraham, Moses, David, even in the new testament the saints of God have waited fearfully for a lord who seemed delayed. But remember, the eyes of the Lord are always on those who wait on Him and whose hearts are perfect towards him. A quick search in the Old testament on the words "How Long" yields a rich set of verses of the heart cry of the dear ones who waited for the Lord Ps 6:3Ps 13:1Ps 35:17Ps 79:5Ps 80:4Ps 89:46Ps 90:13Ps 94:3Hab 1:2Zech 1:12

Does God need our advice ?
In the above Psalm, David (one who was after God's own heart - to whom the Lord revealed the greatest truths in that dispensation) goes through a period where he fears that the Lord has forgotten him and where He has seemingly hidden His face from David. In Psalm 40:17, the saint of God cries out that he is poor & needy and to not tarry, but to come to his help fast. You can't speed God up! Isa 40:13-14  says: What man has taught God or been His counselor ? We may yet face even physical anguish as we wait for the lord! (Psa 69:3) Indeed the promise of God says: Psa 25:3 - those who wait on the lord shall not be ashamed. In some of the earlier posts, I've written on this topic. I believe this is one of the most common, Yet most difficult tests of a christian disciple. Read these 2 posts for some thoughts on the same.

A Family that Jesus loved
John 11:5-6  - Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. Yet when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days
Is the Lord cruel to wait when His dear friend is sick unto death? The Lord's love is not an assurance that His loved ones shall not suffer or go through dark nights. But His love is indeed an assurance that He will be with us in those troubles. He will not leave us nor forsake us. While you are waiting, you may think the Lord could have done better (John 11:21). But as Jesus told the grieving family in John 11:40, only Believe and you will see the Glory Of God. The more He is making you wait, the more is the glory that will be manifest.

Be patient
James 5:7 - During the times of delays and waiting, sow the precious seeds patiently. And as a farmer rejoices not at sowing but when the fruit comes, you shall also rejoice surely. Heb 10:36 reminds us that we need to patiently wait and do the will of God before we reap His promises. The light momentary affliction is preparing us for an eternal weight of glory. As Job says: (Job 23:10) He knows the way I take. when He has tried me, I shall come forth as gold!

We faint not!
2 Cor 4:16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 2 Cor 4:1 - since we have received this ministry by God's mercy, we do not lose heart.
Having these promises, dear friend, don't lose heart. Hold on to the Lord.
David cries in his despair three times - that his soul was downcast. He addresses his soul's disturbance and decides " I will yet praise HIM". Psa 42:5Psa 42:11Psa 43:5 Praise Him, while you are yet to see Him move and surely at the right time, He will move heavens in your favor.

God Bless!

PS: In the days ahead, I hope to write on topics of the various trials of faith - like delays, choices we make, divine silence, suffering, difficult way, making great demands, illogical counsels from God etc. The first post of this series is here.

Aug 1, 2017

Trial of your Faith

Job 7:17-18 What is man that you make so much of him, that you give him so much attention, that you examine him every morning and test him every moment?

One of the most unpleasant parts of our Christian journey is the tremendous amounts of tests and trials that we have to endure. In the above word, there is a cry of a man who endured a tremendous testing, probably at a degree more than what we would ever experience or understand. The ways of God mandate that a believer should betested and tried. Faith that is untried and untested cannot be rewarded or recognized. Also, in the process of testing, the believer is made aware of his own weaknesses and, by the grace of God, he can work out his weaknesses to ensure success in the later trials of his life. The Lord also mandates that a believer should pass the tests that he has failed - so we are also aware that the circumstances that tested us to failure may appear again, and if we are diligent in the tests, we will succeed in them surely.

This experience is what makes the apostles write so soberly about the testing of mankind. 1 Pet 1:6-7 comfort us in our various tests.
Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: 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:
Read this earlier post where I noted a few thoughts on the same.

The Lord sees our hearts which are in heaviness through 'manifold' temptations. During this weary period, the Lord reminds us to hold on strong, for in His sight, this trial is very precious and this is real Gold in His sight. The Church of Laodiceans are exhorted to buy the 'tested' faith of Gold from the Lord (Rev 3:18) for this makes a Christian 'Rich' spiritually. This is why James writes the cryptic statement to rejoice in trials. James 1:2-3.

Remember dear saint of God - the promises of God are here to comfort us and to stand by us in our journey of Faith. 1 Peter 4:10 talks of the 'manifold' grace of God (Gk: ποικίλος). The very same word is used to describe the'manifold' trials that we face in 1 Pet 1:6. The literal meaning of the word is 'Many colors or hues'. This means that for every color of temptation or trial that we face, God offers to us the very same color of grace that is needed to overcome that trial. How great is our God! 1 cor 10:13 remind us that we will NOT be tested beyond our ability and along with every test, he will make a way of escape!

If you are in a season of continuous testing or trial or temptation, dear saint of God, the Lord has not passed you by! He is constantly monitoring your test and your response to it. He will NOT allow the test to be more than what you can bear. He will give you the right measure and flavor of grace to overcome. In fact, He has faith IN YOU that you will overcome. You will emerge from the faith finer and more precious than before. The success of this trial means an eternal reward for you. Take courage ! God bless.

PS: In the days ahead, I hope to write on topics of the various trials of faith - like delays, choices we make, divine silence, suffering, difficult way, making great demands, illogical counsels from God etc.

Jun 30, 2017

Meditation of my Heart

Ps 19:14 May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.

Dear friends, at the outset, let's just humbly echo the prayer of this dear saint of God - Oh Lord, Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight.

Meditation is what we think - what we dwell upon in our hearts. Meditation helps us to be in contact with the spirit world.  We are created with capability to allow our minds to communicate with the Lord God creator as well as evil forces. (As a side note, herein is the danger of 'other' forms of meditation like yogic, buddhist, etc - where you bare your mind in meditation and open your mind to intrusion from evil forces. See the testimony of a former new-ager mystic who understood this and turned to Christ

Our mind is very precious to God - He desires a deep fellowship with the human race which He has created in His image & likeness. One can't fellowship with a lower creation (for example, however much a person likes his pet dog, the dog will remain a dog and man will remain a man and the dog can never understand the mind of the higher being.) Contrast this with what Paul says in 1 Cor 2:16 For who has known the mind of the Lord ? that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ. A born again person has the ability to understand things of God & to have His mind in a sense. And I thank God for Him opening this way to deep fellowship with Him, Yea, even to the extent that we are now His sons! (John 1:12)

We are the temple of the Living God - and our mind is the sacred place, so it's so essential to keep it Holy & Blameless. The most valuable real-estate in the world is your mind. (The lord estimates a human soul to be more valuable than the full value of the created earth!).

The world system (i.e. TV, news, advertisement, media, internet, facebook, email, youtube, etc) are vying for finding a place in your mind and selling it's goods and ideas to your mind. Once it finds a place in our mind, we will tend to incubate it and meditate it till it influences our thoughts, values and actions.

At this juncture, the prayer of this Godly man in Psalm 19:14 comes to our mind. If ever we've needed it more than ever before, it is NOW. Dear child of God, make it a point to study the thoughts of your mind to see what is occupying your mind for most of the time. List them - are these thoughts of evil origin, worldly origin, fleshly origin, thoughts of harm or thoughts of the holy spirit. Let not satan and his world system occupy the precious space in the temple of the living God.

Meditation is dwelling on the thoughts
You are what you think.  Proverbs 23:7 says, “As he thinketh in his heart so is he.” . (If you see the portion in Ezekiel 8:8-12, it is a picture of the Lord seeing into the recesses of people’s heart.)  Proverbs 24:9 reads, “The thought of foolishness is sin...”  In Matthew 5:28, Jesus said that whoever looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart.

Beloved, A holy inner life is the only thing that pleases God. 1 Samuel 16:7 (The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart) Praise the Lord for His great power, love and grace to transform our meditations.  Ephesians 4:22-24 (4:22) You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; (4:23) to be made new in the attitude of your minds; (4:24) and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.

Dear Child of God, may we be gripped by this holy desire to have a mind that's renewed that meditates on the things of God always.

Jun 15, 2017

Salvation to the Uttermost

(Heb 7:25Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.

Often in our lives, after we experience the joy of salvation, we may get complacent about the grace that the Lord offers us and imagine that we have completed the race. This is so far from the truth! The race is ahead of us - this is why Paul says he is straining towards the mark of the high calling in Phil 3:13-14 and only in the epistle that he writes just prior to his death does he say that he has finished the race that was set before him (2 Tim 4:7). Here's an illustration for the stages of Salvation that Jesus offers us.
Stage 1Stage 2Stage 3
SavedBeing SavedShall be saved
PastPresent continuousFuture
Spirit renewedMind being renewedBody shall be renewed
Unable to not sin
(before the new birth)
Able to not sinUnable to sin
Given power to be sons of GodBeing led by the Spirit as mature sonsSons of God revealed in glory

Look again at the verse Heb 7:25 - He is able to save to the uttermost - those that come unto God by Him.

1) Jesus is able to save us to the uttermost - The ability of God is a great relief for us. When paul cries out the cry of despair (Rom 7:24-25) - Who shall deliver me from the body of this death ?!, he immediately is inspired by the Holy Spirit to thank God through Jesus Christ - for that is the key to victory! Jesus is able to save us! Jude 1:24says: Jesus is able to keep you from falling and He shall present you blameless before the presence of the glory of God with much joy! What a loving God ! His joy at presenting us on that day will be much greater than any joy we've seen.

2) Jesus is able to save us to the uttermost - Beloved, the hope for us is that the Lord is able to save us to the uttermost. As I have heard some of the servants of God say - The Lord is able to save the "Guttermost" to the "Uttermost". However dark and sinful and ugly your past was, the Lord is able to bring to completion the salvation plan for our lives and He is able to complete the good work that He has begun in us. (Phil 1:6). In other words, he is able to transform the chiefest sinner before the throne of heaven into a Glorified person who shall live and reign with the Lord Jesus forever enjoying the eternal rewards and a close fellowship with the Lord Himself - IF - he comes to God through Jesus! 1 Samuel 2:8 - In the inspired words of a Godly mother - Hannah, "He raiseth up the poor out of the dust, [and] lifteth up the beggar from the dunghill, to set [them] among princes, and to make them inherit the throne of glory"

3) Those who come to God through Jesus - The fullness of salvation is available only to the people who come to God through Jesus Christ. Many people try to come to God on the basis of their works, some on the basis of false human doctrines and philosophies, some through other people and so-called 'gods' and so-called 'saints'. 1 Tim 2:5 reminds us that there is one God and there is one mediator between Man & God - Jesus Christ! In John 14:6 Jesus says: I AM the way the truth & the life - No man comes to the father but by Me. Meaning, Jesus is the only way. He is the only truth and He is the only source of Life. The work of intercession that Jesus does for us is the basis of our standing righteous before God.

Why should we seek another way to save our souls when the Lord says: He is all-sufficient to save us to the uttermost ?!

May 29, 2017

Key to Progression - Faithfulness

Luk 16:10-12 ESV “One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much. If then you have not been faithful in the unrighteous wealth, who will entrust to you the true riches? And if you have not been faithful in that which is another's, who will give you that which is your own?

There's something in the heart of the Lord which looks at the people who are faithful in the humdrum things of life. His heart goes out to the shepherds in the wilderness, the watchmen on the towers, the farmer with the yoke of oxen, the woman at the well, the tax collector tallying his returns, etc. Often, we miss the opportunity to see God and to serve Him in the ordinary ; we wait for the extraordinary move of God and miss His sweet presence and favor in the ordinary essential phases of our life.

The tender eyes of God are looking at us to reward us at the station where He has placed us. His heart yearns to see us faithful, even as He was faithful. No one has taken a demotion as our Lord, (Phil 2:5-8) who being God emptied himself and took on the form of a servant. He who made all of creation with a Word toiled and sweated in a carpenter's shop to produce a perfect piece of furniture during His earthly years here.

In the above passage, we notice 3 conditions of catching His attention when he looks at us for faithfulness.

1. Be faithful in little (Luk 16:10) - While we are waiting for the Big things in life, be faithful in the little things. Bloom where you are planted! Bring forth the fruit in the things which no one notices and rewards. Be faithful when no one is watching. And the Father in heaven who sees it all, and sees your heart, will surely reward you - and yea, even reward you publicly. How can someone be given a charge of a large project or a task till his ability and faithfulness is proven in the simpler tasks ? If it's true in the secular world, how much more it is relevant in the spiritual world ?!
The moral choices that you exercise to be faithful in the little situations are the same choices that you will make in an enlarged place. The moral fiber has to be developed through the 'seemingly little' daily tasks and choices.
Once you are faithful in the little matters, have faith and expect God to bless you with greater things. (Mat 25:23, Luk 19:17). These rewards would be compounded in eternity as you demonstrate your faithfulness in spiritual matters as well.

2. Be faithful in the matter of money (Luk 16:11) - A believer is a person who has a radical attitude regarding everything. His attitude changes during his conversion towards himself, towards God, towards money, towards this world, towards sin, towards religion, towards his neighbors, etc. One of the key changes is regarding money. We read that love of money is the root of all evil (1 Tim 6:10) and we also know that Godliness with contentment is a great blessed state to be in (1 Tim 6:6). A disciple of Jesus has a refined attitude concerning money. He has a higher awareness that he is a steward of God's money and he will use it faithfully.
For example, if you take your money ($2000) to the bank and a few weeks later, you visit the bank and talk to the manager. The manager says: "Your account is now at $1500 - because I used $500 for a good charitable purpose" - How would you feel ? You would feel that the manager is an unfaithful steward. Now God is the person who gives His money into your hands. And he expects you to ask Him and get His approval before using it. The attitude of a disciple is : God's will over my will in every aspect of his life - including money.
Be the master over your money - and better still, allow God to be master over your money. Mat 6:24 - No one can serve two masters - It's either God or Money. If you are unfaithful in matter of money, we cannot expect the Lo0rd to grant us eternal riches.

3. Be faithful in another's (Luk 16:12) - When we are working in another's enterprise (whether secular or spiritual), our attitude and output matters for the Lord. Simply put, the Lord's expectation from us is that we would work in another's company or organization as we would for our own organization that we formed or created. May the Lord sharpen our hearts to come to the level of accountability that He expects and rewards. In Col 3:22-24, the Lord talks about the work ethic that he expects from us. Do it with sincerity, and heartily as though you are doing it for the Lord - and He shall reward you!
Col 3:22-24 NIV Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you and to win their favor, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord. Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men,  since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.

May the Lord enable us to fulfill these conditions that He may count us worthy of a progression in His sight. God bless you!

May 6, 2017

Sealed by the Holy Spirit - Assurance of Eternity

Eph 1:13-14 (1:13) In whom ye also [trusted], after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, (1:14) Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.

One of the greatest joys of salvation, as far as I am concerned is the hope of eternity that the Lord gives to everyone who is saved by Him. Personally, I find that more motivating for me to complete my race than all the blessings which we can enjoy here on earth. That fullness of salvation, where I am saved from my sins and my tendency to sin, where righteousness and peace reigns forever - where I shall be with the Lord Jesus forever - that gives me the desire to press on towards the mark of the high calling in Christ Jesus.

These verses above struck me as I was meditating the word today. In these verses, I see a divine progression for a believer towards eternity. Let's take a look at that.

1. Heard the Word of Truth

When we were without Christ, the Lord came seeking us and through His divine channels (I.e. the word of God, through human beings, through media, etc) He proclaimed the Word of Truth to us. It is this word of Truth that sets us free (John 8:32 Ye shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free). This is the reason why children of God (and especially those who would dare to call themselves servants of God) are exhorted to Show themselves approved to God, unashamedly dividing the Word of Truth (2 Tim 2:15). It is this truth that shines into our dark places and sets the captives free. In Eph 1:13, the Lord calls this the Gospel of our salvation. Blessed are the feet on the mountains of those who bring this good news and the message of hope to the masses.

But - It is not just sufficient for the word of Truth to be proclaimed, it is necessary for it to be heard! The word of God reminds us - let him that has ears, hear what the spirit says! Every one has ears. But few have the real "ears" to hear what the spirit proclaims through the word of truth. But blessed are those who really hear & respond positively to the Word of truth - for salvation is offered to such! As it is written in James 1:21 Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word (Implanted/Rooted in you), which is able to save your souls.

2. In Whom Ye Trusted

Gospel declared and heard is not completely effective. It is the gospel that is "believed in" that has the power of God unto salvation. The final choice of this belief rests on the person. God can't make you believe. It is a free will choice that you're going to make. Always. And always remember, when you hearken and believe the gospel, you are not trusting mere words, but you are trusting the Word of Truth, and you are trusting a person - Our Lord and savior Jesus Christ. A simple thought for us to store away - The Good news is a Person - Jesus Christ. It's all about Him, His love, His sacrifice, His church and His plan for it, His second coming and an eternity that is spent with Him. He is the author and finisher of our salvation, and He is indeed the reward that we are running for. Look to Jesus & trust Him implicitly - irrespective of the spiritual season of your life.

3. After you believed

Continuing from Point 2., The blessing of salvation is opened to us after we believe. I am not talking about an empty acknowledging of a fact - but a trust, a reliance, and a faith in the Lord and His salvation plan. I am talking about a Heb 11:1 kind of faith - one that appropriates and sets on a higher level the eternal, unseen realities of the Kingdom of God more than the reality of the present evil age that we live in. James 2:19 reminds us that even the devils also believe and they tremble. But that belief doesn't lead them to salvation. But the Lord in His mercy has opened to us the way of salvation, in that He enabled us to repent and to believe and become born again.

4. Sealed with the Holy Spirit

The blessedness of salvation is made manifest to the believer the moment he becomes born again. The Lord accepts him into the household of God (Eph 2:19) and gives him the ability to become a son of God and a partaker of His divine nature. He sends the Holy Spirit (which is Himself!) to dwell with us and we become the temple of the Living God! We carry in our body, the manifest presence of God himself. The spirit of God renews our spirit and begins the life-long work of renewal in us - which implies a renewal of the spirit - Justification, a renewal of the mind (Rom 12:1-2) - sanctification & Finally a renewed glorified body - glorification (Rom 8:21).

The word (Eph 1:13) says : This is a seal! Something which is an assurance which cannot be broken. This seal cries inside us convincing us that we are indeed the Sons of God! This assurance of God's love causes us to experience the freedom whereby we can call the creator of heavens and earth as our Father and witnesses the truth that we are indeed his children! Not just that, the spirit of God is sent to us as an earnest (or downpayment) of the eternal inheritance that He has stored for us.

Let me illustrate. Let's say, we are planning to purchase a house which costs $100,000. We do not make the full payment upfront. We just may give a small initial downpayment (Maybe $15,000) and then continue to make the payments as we progress in construction. Dearly beloved, the spirit of God that He has given in our hearts is just a small foretaste of divine glory. He is but one aspect of heaven that we are enjoying here on this earth. How much more glorious is our life in heaven and how much more we should be motivated and driven by eternity !

May the Lord bless you as you meditate on this reality. God Bless!