Aug 31, 2008

Devotional - trusting in God's arms

"On mine arm shall they trust."
- Isa_51:5

In seasons of severe trial, the Christian has nothing on earth that he can trust to, and is therefore compelled to cast himself on his God alone. When his vessel is on its beam-ends, and no human deliverance can avail, he must simply and entirely trust himself to the providence and care of God. Happy storm that wrecks a man on such a rock as this! O blessed hurricane that drives the soul to God and God alone! There is no getting at our God sometimes because of the multitude of our friends; but when a man is so poor, so friendless, so helpless that he has nowhere else to turn, he flies into his Father’s arms, and is blessedly clasped therein! When he is burdened with troubles so pressing and so peculiar, that he cannot tell them to any but his God, he may be thankful for them; for he will learn more of his Lord then than at any other time. Oh, tempest-tossed believer, it is a happy trouble that drives thee to thy Father! Now that thou hast only thy God to trust to, see that thou puttest thy full confidence in him. Dishonour not thy Lord and Master by unworthy doubts and fears; but be strong in faith, giving glory to God. Show the world that thy God is worth ten thousand worlds to thee. Show rich men how rich thou art in thy poverty when the Lord God is thy helper. Show the strong man how strong thou art in thy weakness when underneath thee are the everlasting arms. Now is the time for feats of faith and valiant exploits. Be strong and very courageous, and the Lord thy God shall certainly, as surely as he built the heavens and the earth, glorify himself in thy weakness, and magnify his might in the midst of thy distress. The grandeur of the arch of heaven would be spoiled if the sky were supported by a single visible column, and your faith would lose its glory if it rested on anything discernible by the carnal eye. May the Holy Spirit give you to rest in Jesus this closing day of the month.

Devotional - The End Of Our Strength

"Blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed" (John 20:29).

How strong is the snare of the things that are seen, and how necessary for God to keep us in the things that are unseen! If Peter is to walk on the water he must walk; if he is going to swim, he must swim, but he cannot do both. If the bird is going to fly it must keep away from fences and the trees, and trust to its buoyant wings. But if it tries to keep within easy reach of the ground, it will make poor work of flying.

God had to bring Abraham to the end of his own strength, and to let him see that in his own body he could do nothing. He had to consider his own body as good as dead, and then take God for the whole work; and when he looked away from himself, and trusted God alone, then he became fully persuaded that what He had promised, He was able to perform. That is what God is teaching us, and He has to keep away encouraging results until we learn to trust without them, and then He loves to make His Word real in fact as well as faith.

Aug 30, 2008

Devotional - Silence Not Denial

Here's a beautiful devotional from Come Ye Apart - J.R.Miller

“But he answered her not a word.”
Matthew 15:23

There is something very remarkable in this silence of Christ. Usually He was quick to hear every request made to Him by a sufferer. Scarcely ever had any one to ask twice for a favour. His heart was sensitive, as is a mother’s heart to her child’s cries, and instantly responded to every petition for help. Yet now He stood and listened to this woman’s piteous pleading and answered her not a word. Like a miser with hoards of gold, at whose gates the poor and suffering knock, but who, hearing their cries of need and distress, keeps his gates locked and is deaf to every entreaty, so Jesus stood unmoved by this woman’s cries, though He had all power in His hands.
Why was He thus silent? It was not because He could not help her, for His arm was never weak. The best of us have our weak hours, our days of emptiness, when we have nothing wherewith to help; but His fullness was never exhausted. It was not because He was so engrossed in His own approaching sorrows that He could think of no other one’s sorrow, for even on the cross He forgot Himself to show kindness to others. Evidently the reason for silence was to try this mother’s faith, and to draw it out into still greater strength. He was preparing her to receive in the end a better blessing than she could have received at the beginning.

Our Lord sometimes yet seems to be silent to His people when they cry to Him. To all their earnest supplications He answers not a word. Is His silence a refusal? By no means. Ofttimes, at least, it is meant only to make the suppliants more earnest, and to prepare their hearts to receive richer and greater blessings. So when Christ is silent to our prayers, it is that we may be brought down in deeper humility at His feet, and that our hearts may be made more fit to receive heaven’s gifts and blessings.

Isa 49:10 - Promises for protection & fountain of life

They shall not hunger nor thirst; neither shall the heat nor sun smite them: for he that hath mercy on them shall lead them, even by the springs of water shall he guide them.
(Isa 49:10 KJVR)

They shall not hunger nor thirst,.... Being fed in the ways and high places of Gospel ordinances with the love of God, with covenant mercies and precious promises, with Christ, the bread of life, and his grace the water of life, and with the doctrines of the Gospel; they do not desire carnal things, as formerly, but spiritual ones, which they have and are satisfied with, and desire no other food: it signifies that there shall be no famine of the word, nor want of spiritual provisions; it is applied to the New Jerusalem state, Rev_7:16 and so the following clause,
neither shall the heat nor sun smite them; not the sun of persecution, nor the heat of fiery trials and afflictions, particularly in the latter day; nor the heat of a fiery law and divine wrath, or of Satan's fiery darts; not however in the above mentioned state, or in the ultimate glory:

for he that hath mercy on them shall lead them; Christ, the great and good Shepherd of the sheep, who had mercy on them in eternity, and therefore undertook to feed them; and in time, and therefore laid down his life for them; and now in heaven, and sympathizes with him; and at the last day they shall find mercy with him: these he leads out of a state of nature, from the wilderness, where he finds them; out of their sinful ways, and from the pastures of their own righteousness; and he leads them in paths they had not known, in which they should go, in the way of truth, faith, and holiness; in right, though sometimes rough ways; he leads them to himself, his blood, righteousness, and fulness; into his Father's presence, and to his house and ordinances; into Gospel truths, and from one degree of grace to another, and at last to eternal glory; all which he does gradually, softly, gently, in proportion to their strength, and as they are able to bear:

even by the springs of water shall he guide them; or "fountains of water" even of living water; which are no other than God himself, and the plenty of his grace and mercy; Christ, and the fulness of grace that is in him; the covenant of grace, and the blessings of it; the Gospel, and its ordinances; see Rev 7:17 For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.

Isa 49:8-9 - Promise for help in days of salvation

Thus saith the LORD, In an acceptable time have I heard thee, and in a day of salvation have I helped thee: and I will preserve thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, to establish the earth, to cause to inherit the desolate heritages; That thou mayest say to the prisoners, Go forth; to them that are in darkness, Show yourselves. They shall feed in the ways, and their pastures shall be in all high places.
(Isa 49:8-9 KJVR)

Isa 49:8 The Lord - God the Father unto Christ. Heard thee - Though not so as to deliver thee from death; yet so as to crown thee with glory and honour. For a covenant - To be the Mediator and surety of that covenant, which is made between me and them. To establish - To establish truth and righteousness upon earth, and subdue those lusts and passions, which are the great disturbers of human society. Desolate heritages - That desolate places may be repaired and repossessed. That Christ may possess the Heathen, who were in a spiritual sense in a most desolate condition.

Isa 49:9 Prisoners - To the Gentiles who are fast bound by the cords of their sins, and taken captive by the devil at his will. Go forth - Come forth to the light, receive divine illumination. In high places - They shall have abundant provision in all places, yea even in those which commonly are unfruitful, such are both common roads and high grounds.

A promise - to christ and to us ! Special references to the salvation coming to the gentiles and christ being an instrument of the same.

Devotional - purpose in life

"Whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus."-- Col_3:17.

NOTHING IS more disastrous than aimless drift! God endows each soul for a distinct purpose. Probably in every life there is a lucid moment, when we take our bearings, and there flashes before us a glimpse of the life-work for which we were sent forth. We stand on the mount of vision, like Moses, and see the pattern of the tabernacle, which we are presently to erect. God has a purpose for the soul, as well as for the body, all the members of which were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them (Psa_139:16). Is it conceivable that He should spend thought and care on the body, and have no purpose for the soul? But if that be so, He will reveal His will; He will gradually unfold our life-purpose step by step. Let us go steadily forward reckoning on our Almighty Friend to supply the needed grace, wisdom, and strength.
When the captain of a cricket team leaves the pavilion for the wicket, the crowds watching his every movement, he is probably saying to himself: "I am going to score my hundred, to say the least!" As he faces the man yonder, who may be one of the swiftest and cleverest bowlers in the county, it is as though he says: "You may do your best, but I am going to win out!" It is in such a spirit that each of us should step out to face life: "I am going to win through, by God's grace."

Never forget that God is working with you. "The Lord will perfect that which concerneth me." He will not desert the work of His own hands! In my long life of eighty-one years, I have experienced more fluctuations and difficulties than fall to many, but I unhesitatingly assert that where God gives the plan He stands Surety for the result! Dare to trust Him and keep in step with Him as He leads you onward.

O God, the God of all Goodness and all Grace, Who art worthy of a greater love than we can either give or understand; fill my heart with such love towards Thee as may cast out all sloth and fear, that nothing may seem too hard for me to do or to suffer in obedience to Thee. AMEN.

Devotional - Living by God's Grace

And Joshua the son of Nun and Caleb the son of Jephunneh, who were among those who had spied out the land, tore their clothes . . . "If the LORD delights in us, then He will bring us into this land and give it to us . . . Only do not rebel against the LORD, nor fear the people of the land . . . the LORD is with us." (Num_14:6, Num_14:8-9)

Throughout the Old Testament, we can find examples of people living by the grace of God. They may not have been able to describe their experience in terms of grace. Yet, their reliance upon God to work on their behalf was just as valid as ours. Living by grace involves God at work in people's lives. Even though they may have been born under the law, they could not live by means of the law. The law supplied no resource for life. Without God at work, the only resource is from the flesh, from natural human sufficiency. This has always been inadequate for living as God intended. Joshua and Caleb were two men who realized that God's sufficiency (His grace) was the only reliable hope.

Twelve Israelites had just returned from spying out the Promised Land. Ten of them had a similar perspective. "We went to the land where you sent us. It truly flows with milk and honey . . . Nevertheless the people who dwell in the land are strong; the cities are fortified and very large . . . We are not able to go up against the people, for they are stronger than we" (Num_13:27-28, Num_13:31). Their bad report was based upon what they saw, measured against their own resources. By this evaluation, they concluded: "We are not able to go up against the people." They were comparing two sets of human resources. "They are stronger than we."

Joshua and Caleb were deeply distressed by this inappropriate evaluation. "And Joshua the son of Nun and Caleb the son of Jephunneh, who were among those who had spied out the land, tore their clothes." They knew that this outlook ignored what God had promised and what God could do. "If the LORD delights in us, then He will bring us into this land and give it to us." They realized that this majority report, which was based on human sight and human capabilities, was actually a form of rebellion against the Lord. "Only do not rebel against the LORD, nor fear the people of the land." Their rebellion was in fearing man and not trusting God. All the children of Israel needed to do was remember the Lord was committed to them. "The LORD is with us."

The Lord was willing and able to give them the land.

Lord God almighty, I am reminded that the majority report is so often based on human sight and earthly resources. Help me to be like Joshua and Caleb. I want a perspective that is based upon what You have promised and what You are able to do, Amen.

God's love - Jesus's love

A beautiful message from George H. Morrison - profound, moving. A strengthening message for the evangelists and those who suffer for His sake.

As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you— Joh_15:9

The Love of Christ

That their blessed Master loved them was one thing which the disciples never doubted. It was the crowning glory of their years. There are those who always find it easy to believe that other people love them. They accept love as the flowers accept the sunshine in an entirely natural and happy way. But there are some who find it very hard just to be certain that other people love them, and one or two of the disciples were like that. Our Lord had to deal with very various temperaments in that extraordinary little company. Some were responsive and receptive; others, like Thomas, wanted proof of things. And yet there was one thing that they never doubted through all the change and variableness of the years, and that was that their Master loved them. The fact was evident to every heart, and yet behind the fact they felt a mystery. There was something different in the love of Jesus from all the human love that they had known. No love of wife, nor of any precious child, nor of friend, nor of father nor of mother, fully interpreted the Master's love. It did what these had never done. It demanded what these had never asked. It spoke sometimes with an unearthly accent, quite alien from that of human love. They were baffled occasionally, and perplexed, so profoundly new was the experience that came to them in the love of the Lord Jesus. It was then that Jesus made this great comparison that threw such a vivid light on everything. "As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you." And long afterwards, when hours of darkness came and they were tempted to wonder if He loved them still, what comfort must these words have brought them!

His Father's Love Sent Jesus to Die

They would recall, for instance, how the Father's love for Christ inspired Him for the service of mankind. It was the Father's love that sent Him to the world, not to be ministered unto, but to minister. Human love is often prone to selfishness. It wants to grasp the dear one and to keep him. It shrinks from the thought of charging the beloved with any embassy whose end is death. Yet on such an embassy, whose issue was a cross, God sent not an angel, but His Son— and the Son was certain that the Father loved Him. Inspiring all His service for mankind, quickening Him for every lowly ministry, holding Him to His appointed task, was His profound conviction of His Father's love. And then, on that last night of earthly fellowship, He turned to His disciples with the words, "As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you." How these words would come back to them again in their evangelization of the world! It was love that had given them their work to do, no matter how difficult or perilous. And to find in our work, however hard it be, an argument for the love of the Lord Jesus is one of the quiet triumphs of the spirit. His is not a love that gives us ease, any more than the love of the Father gave Him ease. It sends us out, morning after morning, to a service which may be only drudgery. And what illumines duty and warms its chilly hands and brings a song into the heart of it is the certainty of love behind it all. It made all the difference to Christ that the Father's love had given Him the task. It made the task a love-gift and touched it as with the joy of heaven. And then He says to all His toiling followers in every century and country, "As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you."

The Father's Love Did Not Exempt Jesus from Suffering

They would recall again how the Father's love for Christ did not exempt Him from the sorest suffering. He was the well-beloved Son, yet a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. If there be one thing we all crave to do, it is to shield our loved ones from the sting of pain. That passion is in the heart of every mother as she clasps to her breast her little child. Yet here was the love of the Father for the Son, that gave the Son, and did it quite deliberately, to bitter suffering ending in a cross. Often when our beloved suffer we are powerless. We know the agony of being helpless. We have to witness excruciating pain, impotent to do anything that might relieve it. But the Father, clothed in His omnipotence, with a single word could have put an end to suffering—and yet He loved His Son and did not do it. I wonder if the disciples thought of that when afterwards they recalled this word of Jesus. Stoned, shipwrecked, persecuted, tortured—could it be possible their Master loved them still? And then, clear as a silver bell, these words would strike upon their ears again, "As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you." He was loved, and yet He suffered sorely. He was loved, and yet His face was marred. He was loved with an everlasting love, and yet all the billows of this mortal life went over Him. What an unspeakable comfort for these gallant souls, tempted through suffering to piercing doubts, this as and so of the Lord Jesus. All God's children must remember that when they are tempted so to doubt the love of heaven. Have not many cried beside some bed of agony, "How can God be love if He permits this?" In such an hour argument is powerless, but there is one Voice that is never powerless. It is His who suffered—and was loved.

The Father's Love Triumphed in the Resurrection and Ascension

They would recall, too, that the Father's love for Christ was a love that justified itself at last. There came at last the hour of resurrection and of ascension to the right hand in heaven. Was it love that gave Him to the earth? It was love that lifted Him above the earth. Was it love that permitted Him to suffer? It was love that crowned His sufferings in glory. The final issue of the Father's love was not the quietness of a garden-grave. It was song; it was dominion; it was liberty. What a magnificent hope for these disciples, persecuted and in prison. What a magnificent hope for every disciple just when things are growing unendurable! A little patience and the love that grips us is going to justify itself magnificently. That is bound, as with hoops of steel, to the as and so of the Lord Jesus.

Devotional - Divine healing

"He sent his word, and healed them, and delivered them from their destructions."Psa_107:20

What an effect a word from God can produce! Be it in reading; in hearing; on the knees; or in secret meditation; when a word drops from the Lord's mouth with any divine power into the soul, what a change it produces! And nothing but this divine power can ever bring a poor sinner out of his miserable condition. When this comes, it does the work in a moment; it heals all the wounds which sin has made, and repairs all the breaches in the conscience that folly has produced. One word from God heals them all. The Lord does not come as it were with plasters to heal first one sore and then another. He heals now as in the days of his flesh. When he healed then, he healed fully, at once, completely.

The earthly doctor heals by degrees; he puts a plaster on one sore, and a liniment on another; and heals one by one. But when the Lord heals, it is all done in a moment. The balm of Gilead flows over all the wounds, heals them up, and makes them perfectly whole. It is then with the soul as with the woman with the issue of blood;"she felt in her body she was healed of that plague."And this is healing! Any word from God, really from God, does it in a moment. If you can get but one word from God into your soul to make you believe you are a child of God, and savingly interested in his pardoning love and mercy, every wound, though there be a million, yes, every wound will be healed instantaneously. This is the only healing worth having.

To be healed by 'evidences' is like being healed by plasters. You need an evidence here, and an evidence there, as a man that has his body full of sores needs a plaster upon every wound. One word from God is the real panacea, the true, the only"heal-all;"and Jesus (Jehovah-rapha"the Lord my healer") the only true infallible Physician. Would you be healed completely, you must look to the Lord, and not to man; be a Hezekiah (2Kings 20), not an Asa(2Ch 16:12).

The healing could be applied to our bodily distress but more so for the ills of our mind which causes us to move away from God. Humbly submit our cares for the Lord to heal in His divine power and mercy.

Aug 28, 2008

Blessings for the children

Children are such precious gifts from our lord! What would I ask for my son if I were to ask our Lord for blessings ?! While my answer would have been different a few years back, I am convinced that the best thing that I could ask for Mathew is - that he be filled with the Godly spirit from his childhood, that God use him as a blessed instrument throughout his life, that he always abides in Him, that he always enjoys the constant soothing presence of the lord. I love my child - I would be happy to see him have a good life, get a good education, have a successful professional life, have a blessed married life, etc if God has bestowed these blessings on him ! But more than all this, I know that the main factor that would enrich his life is his personal relation with God. And that is enough !

A few verses from the bible which I saw today.

Psa 127:3 Lo, children are a heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward.

Joe 2:28 And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions:

Psa 8:2 Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings hast thou ordained strength because of thine enemies, that thou mightest still the enemy and the avenger.

Isa 44:3 For I will pour water upon him that is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground: I will pour my spirit upon thy seed, and my blessing upon thine offspring: Isa 44:4 And they shall spring up as among the grass, as willows by the water courses.

Joh 7:38 He that believeth on me, as the Scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.

Act 2:2 And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. Act 2:3 And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them.

Isa 54:13 And all thy children shall be taught of the LORD; and great shall be the peace of thy children.

Pro 22:6 Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.

Eph 6:4 And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.

Deu 30:2 And shalt return unto the LORD thy God, and shalt obey his voice according to all that I command thee this day, thou and thy children, with all thine heart, and with all thy soul;

Let us thank God for all our blessings and pray in our mind about the values that we would want to inculcate in our next generation. And while we are at it, also a (humble) thought about these values that we would want to inculcate in ourselves.

PS:I thought of having a break from my normal devotionals and snippets - and I thought of reflecting on a personal message and finally this was the topic that I came to.

Aug 27, 2008

Bible study - spiritual warfare - Eph 6:10-18

I would like this to be formed as a study on the various aspects of spiritual warfare.

In the beginning when the first Adam was in the paradise, came the first sin where in Adam disobeyed the word of God. There in the garden of Eden, Man fell to temptation and experienced sin which separated him from God. Sin is essentially a turning away from the living word of God. When a person becomes born again, he experiences a renewed closeness with God due to the fact that his heart has been reopened to the word. He turns away from sin by accepting the word of God made flesh and the promise of eternal life therein in the word of God.

Being in sin separates us from God. The only way to be together with him is in the new acceptance of Christ , His son, as our personal lord and savior. Till a person is born again, he is in conflict with God. But he is not at conflict with the flesh (the call of the flesh, the call of the body, the sensual life) since his mind listens not to the spirit within but to the flesh. But once you are born again, your old Adam is replaced by Christ the new Adam; your spirit is renewed by the Holy spirit and your mind undergoes a slow transformation or renewal.

Even after being born again, the believer has to be In this world. The world is devil's domain and thus we would be faced with temptations and battles (thus making the process of being renewed in the mind a painfully slow one - since it involves a constancy of being in the spirit and being away from the flesh; It requires us to be ever more in the word and listening carefully to the prompting of the holy spirit, discerning the deceptions of Satan)

Is it like our Father to lead us in His grace to the new life and not to give us the necessary things needed for our survival and victory ?! No sir. That’s not like Him at all. As always, He gives us the word to give us the necessary preparation for the spiritual battles which we could face when in this world. God knows the struggles in the world - His Son has faced all the struggles which we could face here - and emerged victorious (even victorious unto death!) Praise Him ! He was tempted on earth, by the devil himself - and He emerged victorious by the word.

There's a constant conflict that is happening in the spiritual realm - And once we are part of God's family, Satan takes a personal interest in leading a warfare against you - A worrying thought , till you remember the promises of the Lord who sends His angels to watch over you. And more than often, the battle rages on in your mind itself (in terms of circumstances, thoughts, giving into sin, etc).

When the Lord calls, some of us come to Him - in complete surrender, and in faith and follow Him. As a follower of Jesus Christ, you are a soldier. You are in a war. That war is against Satan. It is against the forces of darkness. The battle that the new Christian could face is called spiritual warfare. Here's the comfort for us from the word.
Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy. If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the Spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified.
(1Pe 4:12-14 KJVR)

For those who submit to God, He gives them His Spirit and power to overcome evil. Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.
(1Jn 4:4 KJVR)
Till the day you die (or are raptured), this battle can be expected to continue for your soul. The conflict inside you, at times, may seem almost unbearable, but do not give up or despair. For the Lord Jesus said, 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.
(Joh 16:33 KJVR)

But never underestimate the Satan and his ability to deceive. Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:
(1Pe 5:8 KJVR)

One of the best sections on spiritual warfare is Eph 6. Such a beautiful solace to us believers.

Eph 6:10-18 KJVR Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. (11) Put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. (12) For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. (13) Wherefore take unto you the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. (14) Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; (15) And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; (16) Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. (17) And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: (18) Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;

Hallelujah ! That's the message of the lord that I would like to share in study with you today.

(10)Firstly, our power comes from being in union with Jesus. We are in a struggle, and we need to defend ourselves using God’s ways, not man’s ways. We need His strength and His power. (which are ours through the Holy spirit he has given in us)

(11)In our battle, God advices us to use the spiritual weapons (Godly weapons) as against satan's worldly weapons. God's ways, traits and His weapons are what will help us in our spiritual battle. The armor mentioned here is for protection - protection against the fall , for release from the bondage of disobedience and sin, to discern the subtlety of Satan, stand against his wiles, protect our minds and for the ultimate victory which is ours through Christ.

(12)This is a battle for our soul. God in his mercy and love is not willing to let any of his loved ones perish. Satan tries to lead us away from God - towards him. In our battles, we do not grapple the physical enemy, but the battle is against the highest demonic authorities in this world - the utmost powers of the satan, against the unseen rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness (which could come down into our minds too unless we are guarded) When do we know we are wrestling in battle ? Often we have a choice of doing the right thing (scripturally right thing to do!), and the other options seem easier and more tempting to do. When there are tiny thoughts in your mind, leading you to sin. When the various small reasons keep us away from the word or from doing good deeds , etc, then we know that the struggle is on, and is being lost. Personally, at times, I can literally feel the struggle tearing me apart and screaming in my mind. Nevertheless, by FAITH we overcome all these struggles.

(13)Put on the complete armor as God tells us here - that we may be able to withstand (stand ground in strong defense). We need to understand that the weapons of our war are not carnal, but mighty through our God. (2Cor 10:4)We need to take care that when Satan comes charging, we do not lose heart, turn away from God, turn towards the enemy and fall. As God prompts us, his full armor would stand us in good heed when the evil days may fall upon us. [Let us take a few moments and examine our lives - are there areas of our life where we have not had the protection, and are exposed to the satan ? Do we reflect Christ in our public and private lives ? Do we display the fruits as we would if we were to be living Christian lives ? Do we sense the complete armor of God as written here ? Have we Christ centric lives ? You armor is chink free only if you consciously examine your life to be Christian.

(14)The lord starts this verse with a command to us to resist every attack of the devil. The girdle is what holds the entire armor together. Truth is supposed to help hold our defense together in times of trouble. Truth comforts. Truth enables faith. Truth is the essence of God. Truth helps conquer the lies of satan. Truth is the word of God. Jesus defeated Satan with the truth.
A man's core is his heart - pumping lively blood to all his body. The breastplate protects all these vital parts of a human being. When we are under attack, righteousness (Christian integrity, holiness, purity of life, piety, sincerity, etc) would protect our core from the arrows of the enemy. (Look at the righteousness of Job which enables him to face his trials in triumph through the lord!) And this righteousness can be given completely only by the lord - It is written that it comes to us through faith. We have to walk in righteousness, worthy to the calling we have received.

(15)Our ability to stand firm in our battle comes from our feet being shod with the Gospel of peace (In fact, god mentions - preparation for the gospel - which is our readiness to quote the word, which is our readiness to preach the gospel, etc) Even in a battle with a formidable adversary, our defense is the defense of Christ (the Gospel of peace)

(16)A shield protects the complete man and his armor - In our battle, Faith is our shield. It is the ultimate protection for us ! Faith is complete trust and dependence on God in all ways and for all things. It is an unwavering confidence in Jesus Christ. We need to have childlike faith. Faith in Jesus Christ (your shield) puts "Him" between you and the enemy. Through faith, all things can be overcome. (Immense are the promises for those who overcome - remember the promises which our Lord gives to the churches (to him that overcometh - etc - in revelation) 1 John 5:4 - And this is the victory that overcometh, even our faith. With our faith, we shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the enemy. (This also gives an indication of the strong attack on us by Satan - Fiery darts) And there's enough fuel in our adamic nature to destroy ourselves when the fiery darts come. (All attack on us comes through a combination of thoughts, emotions and flesh) The shield of faith comes from hearing, reading and believing the word of God. Also, it is promised - submit yourself therefore to God; Resist the devil and he will flee from you. How apt when you consider that faith is indeed submission to God. (And angels will minister to you in your weakness as they did when Jesus was victorious in temptation)

(17)No soldier can fight well unless he keeps his head (literally and figuratively!) And no soldier can fight a successful battle unless he has the hope of victory with him. Likewise, the hope of salvation is what protects the Christian's soul (likened to a soldier's head) in our spiritual battle. We cannot fight the devil unless we have the hope of salvation, and once we have the hope of salvation, we have nothing to fear ! (Also, a helmet protects our thoughts - truly, does the hope of salvation)
The word of God is mentioned as the sword, the only weapon in our battle against the devil. While the word of God can be used as a defense, it is also the main weapon for us! Also, here, God presses on us to invoke the Holy spirit in our battles - (sword of the spirit , which is the word of God!) It is with this weapon that Jesus met satan in the wilderness. Unless we are armed with the truth, we can never discern the lies of the devil (Also see Heb 4:12 about the word of God likened to a sword)
Study the bible to understand the truth
Let the mind be ready with the right scripture as our savior had (prompted by the holy spirit)
Do not depend on our wisdom but look to the word for the truth

Another thought - finally all these defenses centre on the word
Truth - the word of God is the truth
Righteousness - comes through faith (Rom 4:5) and faith through hearing the word of God (Rom 10:17)
Gospel of peace - the word of God
Salvation - by faith through grace (again from the word) - believing (in) the word of God (Christ)
Faith - comes from hearing the word of God
What a beautiful revelation !! The essence of spiritual warfare is the word of God !!

(18)Did you ever know of a Christian soldier who goes to battle without prayer ? Prayer crowns all lawful efforts with success and gives a victory where nothing else could. Prayer unleashes the grace of our lord. (and God says - "always" - meaning it is to be a constant factor in our lives , when we are facing our battle, when we are preparing for the battle, etc) I cannot even begin to examine the depth of this verse !! Oh it is so filled with meaning ! Some keywords - always, prayer, in the spirit, watching, perseverance, for all saints (Christians)

In summary - be cheerful in the lord in our spiritual battles - arm yourself with truth, righteousness, faith, gospel, faith , hope of salvation and the word of God. Be in prayer always - and our God has promised us victory in Him !

Aug 26, 2008

Delay in posting the bible study

I am very sorry for not having posted my weekly bible study yet.. Despite the long weekend, I guess I got a little distracted and slothful in this. Also, the topic that I chose was such a lovely classic (Spiritual warfare) - books have been written on it. Frankly I underestimated the amount of time I would need to come up with a study on this. I am trying to do this, focused on Eph 6:10-18 and its a topic which is supreme in importance to a believer (especially to a new believer) May God speak volumes more than my human work!

have a blessed week ahead. ~Thomas

Devotional - First steps of being lead by the lord

A good devotional from Gloria Copeland !

"The steps of a [good] man are directed and established of the Lord, when He delights in his way [and He busies Himself with his every step]."(Psalm 37:23)

God's will is to lead you on a day-by-day basis. He's given His Spirit to guide you every day.
Most believers don't know that. They expect God to reveal His complete will for their lives in one big revelation. Don't make that mistake. Don't just sit around waiting for God to show you whether or not He wants you to go to Africa for the rest of your life.

Let Him begin to lead you in little things first, to tell you what you need to do about this situation or that one. He'll show you what you need to change. And, as He does, you'll change one thing at a time.

The truth is, you probably already know one thing God wants you to do. You might not know why He wants you to do it. You may not know where it's leading, but you've heard His voice in your heart.

If you want to keep on hearing Him, you'll have to set aside your own ambitions and desires. Spend time in prayer and in the Word. Tune your ear to the voice of His Spirit.

Learn to trust Him. Remember that He's smarter than you are and be willing to do what He says whether you can understand it with your mind or not. Obey even His smallest instructions. If you do, He'll eventually change your whole little step at a time.

Aug 24, 2008

Holy enough to get to heaven ?

A simple thought -

No one is holy enough to enter heaven without going through Christ; And no one is such a big sinner that he cannot enter heaven by going through Christ.

My friend, if your mind has been prompting you that you - by your good works - could enter heaven, correct your mind and come to the truth.

And my friend, if your mind tells you - that your sin is too large for you to be in heaven - then look unto christ - realize the power of His blood in washing your sins away!

Mat 6:15 - Forgiveness

But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. (Mat 6:15 KJVR)

Our Saviour says we should forgive even if the offence be committed seventy times seven times, Mat_18:22. By this is meant, that when a man asks forgiveness, we are cordially and forever to pardon the offence; we are to declare our willingness to forgive him. If he does not ask forgiveness, yet we are still to treat him kindly; not to harbor malice, not to speak ill of him, to be ready to do him good, and be always prepared to declare him forgiven when he asks it, and if we are not ready and willing to forgive him; we are assured that God will not forgive us.

Mat 7:21 - Who shall enter the kingdom ?

Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. (Mat 7:21 KJVR)

This exhorts the believer into faith in Christ for life and salvation; which is the source of all true evangelical obedience, and without which nothing is acceptable to God. He that seeth the Son, looks unto him, ventures on him, commits himself to him, trusts in him, relies on him, and believes on him for righteousness, salvation, and eternal life, he it is that does the will of the Father, and he only; and such an one, as he is desirous of doing the will of God in all acts of cheerful obedience to it, without dependence thereon; so he shall certainly enter the kingdom of heaven, and have everlasting life; see Joh_6:40 but as these words chiefly respect preachers, the sense of them is this, that only such who are faithful dispensers of the word shall enter into the joy of their Lord. Such do the will of Christ's Father, and so his own, which are the same, who fully and faithfully preach the Gospel of the grace of God; who declare the whole counsel of God, and keep back nothing that is profitable to the souls of men; who are neither ashamed of the testimony of Christ, nor afraid of the faces of men; but as they are put in trust with the Gospel, so they speak it boldly, with all sincerity, not as pleasing men, but God, and commend themselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God: such as these shall have an abundant entrance into the kingdom and glory of God.

Job 17:9 - The righteous - a recurring theme

The righteous also shall hold on his way, and he that hath clean hands shall be stronger and stronger. (Job 17:9 KJVR)

Shall be stronger and stronger - He shall take encouragement from my case, stay himself on the Lord, and thus gain strength by every blast of adversity. This is one grand use of the book of Job. It casts much light on seemingly partial displays of Divine providence: and has ever been the great text-book of godly men in a state of persecution and affliction. This is what Job seems prophetically to declare.

Jas 4:6 - grace to the humble

But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble. (Jas 4:6 KJVR)
But he giveth greater grace - To all who shun those tempers. God resisteth the proud - And pride is the great root of all unkind affections.
Surely he scorneth the scorners: but he giveth grace unto the lowly. (Pro 3:34 KJVR)

Snippet - blessings for today!

God setteth the solitary in families: he bringeth out those which are bound with chains: but the rebellious dwell in a dry land. (Psa 68:6 KJVR)

Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you. And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart. (Jer 29:12-13 KJVR)

The LORD hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee. (Jer 31:3 KJVR)

My friend, these are your blessings - claim them from the Lord today in faith!

Psa 92:12-14 - Bring forth fruit in old age

The righteous shall flourish like the palm tree: he shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon. Those that be planted in the house of the LORD shall flourish in the courts of our God. They shall still bring forth fruit in old age; they shall be fat and flourishing; (Psa 92:12-14 KJVR)

Let us seek for ourselves the salvation and grace of the gospel, that being daily anointed by the Holy Spirit, we may behold and share the Redeemer's glory. It is from his grace, by his word and Spirit, that believers receive all the virtue that keeps them alive, and makes them fruitful. Other trees, when old, leave off bearing, but in God's trees the strength of grace does not fail with the strength of nature. The last days of the saints are sometimes their best days, and their last work their best work: perseverance is sure evidence of sincerity. And may every sabbath, while it shows forth the Divine faithfulness, find our souls resting more and more upon the Lord our righteousness.

Rom 4:5 - justified by faith

But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness. (Rom 4:5 KJVR)

But to him that worketh not - It being impossible he should without faith. But believeth, his faith is imputed to him for righteousness - Therefore God's affirming of Abraham, that faith was imputed to him for righteousness, plainly shows that he worked not; or, in other words, that he was not justified by works, but by faith only. Hence we see plainly how groundless that opinion is, that holiness or sanctification is previous to our justification. For the sinner, being first convinced of his sin and danger by the Spirit of God, stands trembling before the awful tribunal of divine justice ; and has nothing to plead, but his own guilt, and the merits of a Mediator. Christ here interposes; justice is satisfied; the sin is remitted, and pardon is applied to the soul, by a divine faith wrought by the Holy Ghost, who then begins the great work of inward sanctification. Thus God justifies the ungodly, and yet remains just, and true to all his attributes! But let none hence presume to "continue in sin;" for to the impenitent, God "is a consuming fire." On him that justifieth the ungodly - If a man could possibly be made holy before he was justified, it would entirely set his justification aside; seeing he could not, in the very nature of the thing, be justified if he were not, at that very time, ungodly.

Rom 16:20 - God of peace

And the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen. (Rom 16:20 KJVR)

And the God of peace - The Author and Lover of it, giving a blessing to your discretion. Shall bruise Satan under your feet - Shall defeat all the artifices of that sower of tares, and unite you more and more together in love. Shall give you the dominion over the great adversary of your souls, and over all his agents who, through his influence, endeavor to destroy your peace and subvert your minds.

Aug 22, 2008

Devotional - Promise of God's Completing Work

This is such a beautiful thought ! While it is easy to claim this promise in the earthly realm, I always think of this verse as the promise of goodness in the spiritual realm ! From the moment of our new birth, christ has begun a good work in us. This is indeed the promise of completing that same good work !

Courtesy - Hoekstra

Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ. (Phi_1:6)

Now, we return to the category we are calling "precious promises." (2Pe_1:4). Here we have a priceless one concerning God's commitment to complete the wonderful work of salvation that He began at our new birth.

If our faith is in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, God has started a tremendous saving work on our behalf: " He who has begun a good work in you."

He has made us new creatures in His Son. "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new" (2Co_5:17). He has supplied us with immeasurable heavenly resources. "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ" (Eph_1:3). What a grand work has been started in us. Yet, God's saving work is "so great a salvation" (Heb_2:3). Thus, whatever He has already been accomplished with us is only a part of the whole. Wherever we are in this glorious process, there is some completing work that God desires to do. He wants to bring into our understanding, our character, and our daily experience more of that which is fully ours in Christ.

Furthermore, our God wants us to be confident concerning this matter: "Being confident of this very thing." God does not want people living in self-confidence. That misplaced trust is just another form of pride. This does not mean that we Christians are to be without confidence in our lives. It does mean that all of our confidence is to be placed in the Lord. "And we have such trust [confidence] through Christ toward God" (2Co_3:4). Our Lord wants us to have strong assurance in Him that He will complete this work in us.

Also remember, this saving work of God is done within our lives: "He who has begun a good work in you will complete it." The Lord has established an eternal position for us with Him in heavenly places: "and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus" (Eph_2:6). Yet, He wants to effect a godly walk for us here on earth. "Walk worthy of the calling with which you were called" (Eph_4:1). This walk is not based upon human theories of behavior modification. Our Lord Himself develops this in and through our hearts. "Now may the God of peace . . . make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you what is well pleasing in His sight" (Heb_13:20-21).

Dear Lord, I long to walk in more of the reality of that which is mine in Christ. Thank You for these words that build my confidence in You. I humbly repent of my self-confident attempts to do what only You can do. I look to You anew and alone!

Aug 20, 2008

Devotional - Wrestling With God

"And Jacob was left alone; and there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day" (Gen. 32:24).

God is wrestling with Jacob more than Jacob is wrestling with God. It was the Son of man, the Angel of the Covenant. It was God in human form pressing down and pressing out the old Jacob life; and ere the morning broke, God had prevailed and Jacob fell with his thigh dislocated. But as he fell, he fell into the arms of God, and there he clung and wrestled, too, until the blessing came; and the new life was born and he arose from the earthly to the heavenly, the human to the divine, the natural to the supernatural. And as he went forth that morning he was a weak and broken man, but God was there instead; and the heavenly voice proclaimed, "Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel; for as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed."

Beloved, this must ever be a typical scene in every transformed life. There comes a crisis-hour to each of us, if God has called us to the highest and best, when all resources fail; when we face either ruin or something higher than we ever dreamed; when we must have infinite help from God and yet, ere we can have it, we must let something go; we must surrender completely; we must cease from our own wisdom, strength, and righteousness, and become crucified with Christ and alive in Him. God knows how to lead us up to this crisis, and He knows how to lead us through.

Is He leading you thus? Is this the meaning of your deep trial, or your difficult surroundings, or that impossible situation. or that trying place through which you cannot go without Him, and yet you have not enough of Him to give you the victory?
Oh, turn to Jacob's God! Cast yourself helplessly at His feet. Die to your strength and wisdom in His loving arms and rise, like Jacob, into His strength and all-sufficiency. There is no way out of your hard and narrow place but at the top. You must get deliverance by rising higher and coming into a new experience with God. Oh, may it bring you into all that is meant by the revelation of the Mighty One of Jacob!--But God

"At Thy feet I fall,
Yield Thee Up My ALL,
To suffer LIVE, OR DIE
For my Lord crucified."

Aug 19, 2008

Devotional : Consolation, support & Faith

This will be a short post - My apologies for that - Its more like its a very busy monday with the looming promise of an even busier tuesday :)

But for some reason, I don't feel like doing my usual selection from one of the good sermons or devotionals. While I thought of continuing the series with either the fruit of the spirit or the theme of salvation, I want to break the chain today on two verses which are very very dear to me. God has blessed me in experiencing the truth of these two sentences. I hope these verses cause some cheer, hope and more than anything, an absolute faith for the divine works in your life!

And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.
(Rom 8:28 KJVR)

Ah what a comforting thought for those who abide in Him !!
All things [my circumstances, trials, persecutions, insults, calamities, shortcomings, afflictions, relations, etc]
work together [ is in the process of continuously working together]
for good [ultimate good - may not be the temporal good as the temporal man sees it, but the eternal good as the eternal God sees it - a good state where we are brought many a step closer to God]
to them that love God [who submits to Him, truly pious children of God]
to them who are called according to His purpose [to the true christians, who have been chosen by God and who have chosen to be likened to him!]

Dear friend - the word that is mentioned above is the god-breathed truth. Abide in Him who is bigger than all your troubles, who longs to comfort you in all your trials and tribulations and who wishes to draw you near according to his purpose.

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
(Heb 11:1 KJVR)

It is the confidence of your hope in Christ - It is the deep rooted trust in God - its your confidence in the good things which God has kept for you - you may not have received them yet. But He has already unleashed it in His spiritual realm ! It is an ability to look beyond your past, your present and into the wonderful future that God has in store for you ! Beyond temporal things of the world, look unto Him for the eternal good.
Heavenly Father - we submit ourselves in prayer to you. I thank you for the messages of hope that you have sent me today. Even as I go through trials and difficulty, minister to me by your holy spirit that I may take another step towards being rooted in you in faith. Father, I trust that you (you alone) are in control of my life! I wish to be yielded to you, that you may shape me according to your will. Help me to overcome my trials by being drawn into you. I ask this in the mighty name of my lord and savious Jesus christ. Amen.

Aug 18, 2008

For the new visitor

Dear friend,

I have started off this blog as a very small attempt from my side to spread the gospel and Christ's message. I feel so privileged when I see so many wonderful messages coming my way and giving me the daily bread. It has often happened that the message I may receive as an email or a random verse which I see when I open the bible is exactly what I needed that day ! It helps me lead a life closer to the word, encouraging me when I need it most, really giving me that comfort that my saviour cares for me enough to feed me from His springs.

I hope this blog is a blessing for all of you who happened to pass by my garden ! :)

Feedback >> Feel free to drop a note if you have any comments for me. (you can also rate the posts on the blog and if you have any comments, you could mail me or use the meebo panel on the sidebar to send me a message)

What are my blogging patterns ?
- (work and connectivity permitting) I would like to post daily devotions (from various sources) on some topics which touches me the most that day [much as I would like this to be daily, I will be happy if I could post 2-3 devotionals a week]
- On weekends, I would like to post a bible study on a topic
- Occasionally, I would like to do a snippet (just a verse - and its meaning)

If you are new to the blog
I would suggest that you start with the salvation basics (available on the links section)
Then use the label cloud(or label list) to find a topic of your interest. The first 3 tags are generic (bible study/devotional/snippet) Use them to browse non-topical content. The remaining tags are topical - use them to browse on a topic of your interest.

Access all the posts here -

Subscription - If you like this small blog and it's contents, you can constantly be in touch with this by subscriptions (you have the option of using RSS feedreader and getting this as a feed into your regular feeds; Or you have the option of subscribing to this by email - and you would get a mail whenever I do a post on to the blog.) 

Other topics (your messages, prayer requests, needs, queries)

If you have an inspirational message (word based) or a testimony or a message or a prayer request which you would like to share with the others, you could send me an email - and I will post it with due credits.

If you have a specific query on christianity, you could send me an email. I may not know the answer, but I know someone who does - and He has left his book with me. :) Let us learn together.

God bless you !


PS: I have not been able to adapt a gender-neutral language since most of the existing devotionals and sermons address the Man. But in most of the cases, you should read it as equally applicable to Man and Woman

Devotional - Bearing much fruit

In the last couple of days, I have been having a lot of thoughts on the fruits shining forth in a christian's life. Here's a beautiful devotional on the same topic (Praise the lord for him having shown me this piece!)

Have a blessed week ahead !

Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.
(Joh 15:8 KJVR)

How can we glorify God? Not by adding to His glory or bringing Him any new glory that He has not. But simply by allowing His glory to shine out through us, by yielding ourselves to Him, that His glory may manifest itself in us and through us to the world. In a vineyard or a vine bearing much fruit, the owner is glorified, as it tells of his skill and care. In the disciple who bears much fruit, the Father is glorified. Before men and angels, proof is given of the glory of God’s grace and power; God’s glory shines out through him.

This is what Peter means when he writes: "He that ministers, let him minister as of the ability that God giveth, that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ." As a man works and serves in a power which comes from God alone, God gets all the glory. When we confess that the ability came from God alone, he that does the work, and they who see it, equally glorify God. It was God who did it. Men judge by the fruit of a garden of what the gardener is. Men judge of God by the fruit that the branches of the Vine of His planting bears. Little fruit brings little glory to God. It brings no honor to either the Vine or the Husbandman. "That ye bear much fruit, herein is my Father glorified."

We have sometimes mourned our lack of fruit, as a loss to ourselves and our fellow men, with complaints of our feebleness as the cause. Let us rather think of the sin and shame of little fruit as robbing God of the glory He ought to get from us. Let us learn the secret of bringing glory to God, serving of the ability which God giveth. The full acceptance of Christ’s Word, "You can do nothing"; the simple faith in God, who worketh all in all; the abiding in Christ through whom the divine Husbandman does His work and gets much fruit—this is the life that will bring glory to God.

Much fruit—God asks because he needs. He does not ask fruit from the branches of His Vine for show, to prove what He can do. No; He needs it for the salvation of men: it is in that He is to be glorified. Throw yourself in much prayer on your Vine and your Husbandman. Cry to God and your Father to give you fruit to bring to men. Take the burden of the hungry and the perishing on you, as Jesus did when He was moved with compassion, and your power in prayer, and your abiding, and your bearing much fruit to the glory of the Father will have a reality and a certainty you never knew before.

The Father glorified. Blessed prospect—God glorifying Himself in me, showing forth the glory of His goodness and power in what He works in me, and through me. What a motive to bear much fruit, just as much as He works in me! Father, glorify Thyself in me.

Dear Father, Bless us as we meditate today on your life giving word. I pray that ye give me the grace to be a yielded soul to you, and that your divine spirit work in me to bring forth the living fruits! Help me stay close to the vine and draw in the life-giving water which will bring me from spiritual dryness unto fruition. I ask this in the name of my Lord and saviour, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Aug 17, 2008

Devotional - To christ the living stone !

Courtesy : Hoekstra

Coming to Him as to a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God and precious, you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. (1Pe_2:4-5)

Coming to Jesus habitually for the grace that we need daily is at the heart of growing in grace. These closing verses of our previous meditation provide a profound example of this relational emphasis in the Christian life. The spiritual impact in view here is edification: "being built up." As we saw earlier, God's grace is the edifying resource for our lives. "And now, brethren, I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up" (Act_20:32). Now, we will look at the relational path that God has designed for accessing that edifying grace.
Jesus is likened here to "a living stone." He is solid and reliable, like a rock. Yet, a rock is lifeless, insensitive, unresponsive. Jesus is a "living stone." He is alive, tender, lovingly responsive. The Lord wants to build us up to be like Him (solid and stable, yet loving and caring). The Lord's way to build us up "as living stones" is to call us to an ongoing process of coming to Himself: "Coming to Him as to a living stone... you also, as living stones, are being built up." In order to practically grow "as living stones," we must be coming to the one who already is innately what He wants us to become. He alone can provide what is needed in our lives.

How do we come to Jesus in this manner? Well, again, it is a matter of relating to Him. When we get into the word of God, we are not merely looking for more biblical information. Jesus is the one we are to be seeking. When we are praying, we are not merely "saying our prayers." Jesus is the one in whose name we are praying and whose will and work we are seeking. When we are worshiping, we are not merely singing songs, we are singing to the Lord Himself. When we are going forth in ministry, we are not merely carrying out a valid task. We are looking to the Lord for enablement, while desiring to please and honor Him.

The more we come to Jesus in this way, to that extent His edifying grace will be building us up "a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ."

Dear Lord, You are the true living stone, stable and loving. So often I am unstable and unloving. I need to be built up as a living stone. I need to be more like You. Lord, help me to come to You daily, habitually. When I am studying the scriptures, praying, worshiping, or serving, help me to seek You in and through it all, in Your mighty name I pray, Amen.

Bible study tools - e-sword

One of the best computer based bible study tools that I have seen is e-Sword (Courtesy: Rick Meyers ) It is an awesome tool for the word as well as for bible study. It has features like multiple bible translations (say - KJV, NIV, AMP, etc); Commentaries; Devotionals; Bible reading plans; Topical notes; Gospel harmony; Dictionaries & concordances; Bible searches; facility to have bible study notes; etc. Its free. Use it once, and you wouldn't look at any other tool. What is really amazing is the amount of customization that you can do in terms of adding modules (bibles, commentaries, etc) !

If you decide to give it a shot, I would recommend the following things. (all downloadable from their website )

1. Get KJVR, ESV bibles (AMP & NIV are excellent bibles - but they need to be purchased)
2. Get Barnes/Clarke commentaries (verse by verse) - Be cautious about commentaries (nothing can beat the revelation of the true meaning by the holy spirit - which happens in the most personal manner)
3. Get treasury of scripture knowledge commentary (akin to a concordance - beautiful!)
4. Get all the devotionals in the site (and read it after completing your bible reading for the day)
5. Get the dictionaries (Nave & Torrey - I especially like Torrey! These are not dictionaries but more like topical concordances)
6. Go easy on the topic notes (There are a few gems there - but many are not of a sound quality)
7. Most important - Pray to the Holy spirit to use this tool to guide you in the truth and to open your mind to the word

Rick is very open to suggestions and comments - so you could always contact him using the comments form in the website. If you benefit from this software as much as I did, please leave a message for him (Though his reward is in heaven, its good for us to offer him a thanks! for his work!)

For the new believer

From [I am sure they wouldn't mind me mirroring their content on my site - since they are also evangelistic in a pure fashion]

We recommend you read your Bible faithfully every day. Read at least five chapters a day. Begin with the book of John and read it through three times. Then go to Matthew and read all the New Testament through to the end of the Revelation. Do this three times. Then go to the beginning of the Old Testament and read all the Bible through, continuing at a rate of not less than five chapters a day. As God opens up His Word to you, obey it. Be a doer of the Word and not a hearer only, deceiving yourself-ref Ja 1:22.

Mature born-again Christians should reflect the fruits of salvation (or fruits of the Spirit) in their lives, both in public and in private. Their relationship with Christ should be reflected in what they wear, how they act, how and what they speak, what they do, the places they go, and even their jobs. But above all their attitude and behavior toward the household of faith should be love.

When a person receives Jesus Christ as their only hope of salvation, they also must receive Him as their Lord.

To be born-again is a work of God’s mercy and grace. As a result of the new birth, a person becomes a new creature in Christ. He puts off the old nature and puts on the new. A change takes place in a person’s heart. They come under conviction for sin, which brings forth godly sorrow and repentance. Repentance and faith in Jesus Christ go hand in hand. Repentance is turning from sin and turning to God. Through faith we receive Jesus Christ as our only hope of salvation and turn our life, our dreams, our attitude and personality over to Him to change, guide, and direct. In effect, we overcome the world through faith and follow Him. As our faith and understanding of God's Word grow within us, we begin to overcome more and more. Our desires, actions, attitude, and personality should reflect this growth. As faith grows, things that bothered us yesterday, should bother us less today. Likewise, as we draw closer to Christ (Who is light), we can see "the dirt" in our lives much better. This growth should continue in a person’s life from the new birth until the end of their life. However, as we run the race that God has set before us, Satan throws many stumbling blocks in the way to try to hinder and discourage us. Many people fall by the side of the road, while others stumble over the stones, and still others get caught up in the thorns or choked by the weeds. Only a few finish the race and will hear the words in Mt 25:21-WELL DONE, THOU GOOD AND FAITHFUL SERVANT: THOU HAST BEEN FAITHFUL OVER A FEW THINGS, I WILL MAKE THEE RULER OVER MANY THINGS: ENTER THOU INTO THE JOY OF THY LORD. For those that trust in the Lord during times of temptation, the Bible says,...GREATER IS HE (the Holy Spirit) THAT IS IN YOU, THAN HE (the devil) THAT IS IN THE WORLD-1 Jn 4:6.

Find a good, Bible-believing church that teaches God’s Word, not just stories about worldly things and be baptized.

Salvation - A bible study

The most authentic reference for salvation is the bible! Below are a few verses on salvation (I have presented the fact coupled with the verse from the Word) - I have been guided in this by R.A.Torrey's concordance

Salvation by the appointment of God -
1Th 5:9 For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ,

God wills Salvation -
1Ti 2:4 God our Savior; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.

Salvation is by christ alone -
Act 4:12 Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.

Salvation was predicted by God -
Zec 9:16 And the LORD their God shall save them in that day as the flock of his people: for they shall be as the stones of a crown, lifted up as an ensign upon his land.

Salvation is for gentiles too -
Isa 52:10 The LORD hath made bare his holy arm in the eyes of all the nations; and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God.

Salvation is revealed in the gospel -
2Ti 1:10 But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Savior Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel:

Christ is the captain of salvation -
Heb 2:10 For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.

Christ is the author of salvation -
Heb 5:9 And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him;

Christ was appointed for salvation -
Isa 49:6 And he said, It is a light thing that thou shouldest be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved of Israel: I will also give thee for a light to the Gentiles, that thou mayest be my salvation unto the end of the earth.

Christ was raised up for salvation -
Luk 1:69 And hath raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David;

Christ has salvation -
Zec 9:9 Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass.

Christ brings salvation -
Luk 19:9 And Jesus said unto him, This day is salvation come to this house forsomuch as he also is a son of Abraham.

Christ is able to save -
Heb 7:25 Wherefore 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.

Christ came to save -
Mat 18:11 For the Son of man is come to save that which was lost.
1Ti 1:15 This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.

Christ died to effect salvation -
Joh 3:14-15 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.
Gal 1:4 Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father:

Christ is exalted to give salvation -
Act 5:31 Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Savior, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins.

Salvation is not by works -
Eph 2:9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.
Tit 3:5 Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;

Salvation is by grace -
Eph 2:5 Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, by (grace ye are saved;)
Eph 2:8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
Tit 2:11 For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men,

Salvation is by love -
Rom 5:8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
1Jn 4:9-10 In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

Salvation is by mercy -
Psa 6:4 Return, O LORD, deliver my soul: oh save me for thy mercies' sake.
Tit 3:5 Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;

Salvation is by the long suffering of our God -
2Pe 3:15 And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation;

Salvation is by belief in Christ -
Mar 16:16 He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.
Act 16:31 And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.
Rom 10:9 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.
Eph 2:8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
1Pe 1:5 Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time

Salvation - The basics

I am happy to start this blog with what I consider to be the essence of christianity & the gospel ; It is for good reason that this is the most famous verse in the bible.

Joh 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

A few thoughts on the greatness of this sacrifice [Synthesized from Adam Clarke's commentary]
1. The world was in a condemned state because of sin - and was sure to perish in eternity.
2. God , through his indescribable love (note the usage of "SO"), made a provision for it's salvation - by giving His Son as a sacrifice.
3. The sacrifice of Jesus was the only mean by which the redemption of man could be effected, and that it is absolutely sufficient to accomplish this gracious design.
4. Sin is an abhorred evil in God's eyes.
5. No man is saved through this sacrifice, but he that believes, i.e. who believes what God has spoken concerning Christ, his sacrifice, the end for which it was offered.
6. For those who believe, they are exempted from eternal damnation AND are brought to eternal glory - that they may have everlasting life!

As a result of salvation => The person is justified , by which the guilt of sin is removed, and consequently the person is no longer condemned to perdition. And is Sanctified, (his nature is purified by which he is properly fitted for the kingdom of glory.)

If you have received Jesus Christ, God’s only begotten Son, as your Lord and Savior, it is because God, in His mercy, has opened your understanding. For it is written : For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them. (Eph 2:8-10 KJVR)

What must I do to be saved?
1. Admit you are a sinner. For it is written : For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; (Rom 3:23 KJVR) For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Rom 6:23 KJVR)

2. Be willing to change, to forsake all sin, and live for Jesus. Repent. Be willing to ask God for His help, to help you make that change. For it is written : I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish. (Luk 13:3 KJVR)

Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.
(Jas 4:4 KJVR)

3. Believe in your heart that Jesus Christ is God’s only begotten Son and that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. Believe that He died for your sins. Believe on Jesus Christ as your only hope of salvation. Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.
(Act 4:12 KJVR)

4. Ask for forgiveness. Ask for God’s mercy. By faith, receive Jesus Christ as your only hope of being saved and do not be ashamed. Confess Him openly as your only hope of salvation. As the spirit prompts you, believe, repent and be baptized in the name of Father, Jesus and the holy spirit.

He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.
(Mar 16:16 KJVR)
Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.
(Rom 6:4 KJVR)

Surrender means "you give up." You stop putting your will before God’s will. You allow Jesus (God’s Word) to reign over you. You submit to Jesus and let Him become the Lord of your life.
If you have never humbled yourself, and totally surrendered to Jesus, and become as a little child (ref Mt 18:3), and continued steadfast in the faith, I would suggest that NOW IS THE ACCEPTED TIME; BEHOLD, NOW IS THE DAY OF SALVATION-2 Cor 6:2. Please submit to God, say this prayer, and mean it with all of your heart.

Dear Jesus, I am a sinner. I believe you are the son of God and died for my sins on the cross. Forgive all of my sins. Jesus, I repent. I ask you to have mercy on me, a sinner, and come into my life. Give me your spirit and your power. Help me to follow and obey your commandments, and to live for you. Lord God, I give you my life. Thank you for hearing my prayer. Thank you for opening my eyes and heart to receive you. Thank you for coming into my life. I ask it in the name of my lord and savior, jesus christ. Amen.
If you have said that prayer and meant it, God sees you in a different light now ! ! Immerse yourself in the word - Take your stumbling 2 steps towards God and watch Him run towards you !! May the Holy spirit reveal the scripture to you and take you forward in your new birth and life !

I pray for you my friend, as you read this. I pray that you find the peace that surpasseth all understanding. I pray that you find a new purpose in the new birth and life that you have come to. I pray for you to be wary of the world, and understand the subtleness of the adversary. I pray for you to wax in the spirit and to be filled with the abundant fruits!

God Bless!