Jul 20, 2013

Residents of the Lake of Fire

Rev 21:5 And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful.
Rev 21:6 And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely.
Rev 21:7 He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son.
Rev 21:8 But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.

In this marvelous portion of the Revelation of Jesus Christ, the holy spirit records the wondrous sight of new heavens and new earth and new Jerusalem. This is indeed the pinnacle of the redemption plan of God (all else – including the life on earth, etc are just temporary structures before the grand plan of God is revealed). The lord kindly reassures of the eternity in Glory and says – in v 5 – that these words are True and Faithful. Then He promises that the ones who overcome shall be the inheritors of all things, and his promise of eternal godship and sonship. (Rev 21:7)

Then we see the exact standard of God. These are times when we should realize the things that the lord loves and what he hates. In the pristine pure new heavens and new Jerusalem, there is no space for anything corruptible. The holyspirit warns that the people who possess one or more of the qualities will find their way into the eternal lake of fire (which is the second death). For a more detailed look at the same, I include below an excerpt from the Amplified Version of the new testament.

Rev 21:8 (AMP) But as for the cowards and the ignoble and the contemptible and the cravenly lacking in courage and the cowardly submissive, and as for the unbelieving and faithless, and as for the depraved and defiled with abominations, and as for murderers and the lewd and adulterous and the practicers of magic arts and the idolaters (those who give supreme devotion to anyone or anything other than God) and all liars (those who knowingly convey untruth by word or deed)--[all of these shall have] their part in the lake that blazes with fire and brimstone. This is the second death.(6)

It is to our benefit to introspect if we be found with any or all of these despicable qualities. Those who introspect and cleanse themselves with the blood of Jesus urgently will be able to spend eternity in the glory of God and others will have their part in the lake of fire (this is the reality whether we like it or not). We also see that God’s view regarding the “grossness” of Sin is different from our diluted human perspective.

For example, If I were to throw someone in a lake of fire, I may have given that punishment to the abominable, murderers, whoremongers (to what I consider to be a higher degree of sin). But look at the mind of God which reserves this extreme eternal punishment to all these categories of sinners. (For in the eyes of God All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God – Rom 3:23)
  1. Cowards : Those who fear men or the world system more than God
  2. Unbelieving : plain old unbelief – lack of trust in God – lack of faith in his eternal promises
  3. Abominable : Depraved and defiled with abominations – a real picture of the current times indeed
  4. Murderers : Good old-fashioned killers and the ones who mentally kill their brothers through gossip or anger
  5. Whoremongers : Lewd and adulterous generation – Can we stop pointing to others and look at the thoughts ? God sees all thoughts (Jer 17:10)
  6. Sorcerers : practitioners and admirers of dark arts and magic (harry potter, anyone ? divination ? palm reading ?)
  7. Idolators : the breakers of the first commandment – those who give their supreme devotion to anything or anyone other than the one true living god
  8. All Liars : let the holyspirit guide us to this truth –  This really touched my heart – how do I purify myself of this ?

Let the truth settle into our hearts and bring us back to repentance so that we be counted amongst the overcomers and not the partakers of the lake of fire. 
God bless us!

Jul 18, 2013

A Healthy Curiosity about the Divine

Exod 3:2-4 (KJV)
Exod 3:2 And the angel of the LORD appeared unto him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush: and he looked, and, behold, the bush burned with fire, and the bush [was] not consumed.
Exod 3:3 And Moses said, I will now turn aside, and see this great sight, why the bush is not burnt.
Exod 3:4 And when the LORD saw that he turned aside to see, God called unto him out of the midst of the bush, and said, Moses, Moses. And he said, Here [am] I.

We see the Man of God Moses being called from his humble setting as a shepherd for his father in law and given a heavenly mission – the redemption of the Children of God – the precious tribe of Israel. This was not an easy mission by any chance. The nation of Israel was numerous – numbering to about 700000 men alone, and along with the children and women, made up a substantial number about 3 million. And they were a motley bunch (as are we!) – Leading them took a lot of training. Moses was first trained with the pharaoh’s palace for 40 years (mainly to ensure he had the ability to record the foundational scripture of the bible – the Pentateuch) – Then he was broken and trained with Jethro for 40 years before he was able to lead the nation.

Moses saw a vision which was probably common in that wilderness setting. A burning bush – one can fathom that the intense heat would occasionally lead to a bush burning. But here was a fire with a difference – the fire was there – the bush was not getting burnt and consumed. Moses decided to turn and see why the bush wasn’t consumed. This may seem like a small thing for us, but in my mind, I see it as a key reason why the lord appeared to him.

The call of God is as meaningful as the mission. Here we see the desire of God to find a man who has a healthy curiosity. Lord loves seekers – Even the truth seekers in other religions and ethics. If you are a lover of the truth, be prepared to have an encounter with a God who steps down from the heaven.
Heb 11:6 But without faith [it is] impossible to please [him]: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is (God), and [that] he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.

In Exo 3:4, the word records that the lord called unto him out of the midst of the bush when he saw that Moses had turned aside to see. We are often on a journey to accomplish many earthly things. But when we see signs of a fire (of revival) and of a godly presence, we rush past that and ignore it. It’s almost like putting God on mute. Pause. Be like moses, who turned aside to look at the burning bush. Take a look around and see where the fire of God is burning and where the presence of the lord is. Look beyond religious and denominational biases and come to a real knowledge of God through his son Jesus Christ. In my heart, I see the thought of Moses. He knew he wasn’t in the centre of his calling yet, and he knew a visit from God was due some time. It is this anticipation which caused him to pay attention to a divine activity and to inspect it and to finally hear God in the midst of it.

For the believer who is IN Christ, this vision bears a great meaning (and as scripture is so dynamic, it can have different related meanings to us in different context). Any fire is enough to consume a bush. But a bush which stands in the presence of the lord will not be consumed. I remember an example that a preacher gave once. A man was caught in the midst of a forest fire. He was cornered and survived the fire by starting an opposite fire. Whether the incident is true or not, the example is clear – as the lord saved Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, once the fire of the lord is surrounding us, no other fire can consume us.

God bless us as we wait in the joyful hope of the coming of our lord and savior Jesus Christ. 

Jul 17, 2013

Judgment of Christ

John 19:13 When Pilate therefore heard that saying, he brought Jesus forth, and sat down in the judgment seat in a place that is called the Pavement, but in the Hebrew, Gabbatha.

The life of our lord and savior Jesus Christ was characterized by multitudes of people who underestimated His power and either ignored him or dealt with him wrongly or actively opposed him. We recollect Joshua (in Josh 5:13) in a similar state. He sees the angel of the lord and asks Him “are you for us or against us” – and he replies, nay I am come as the lord of hosts). Likewise Gideon saw the angel of the lord (Judges 6:22) and quite impertinently puts him on hold till he finishes his work! (A good point to note here, that the Angel of the Lord is a theophany – a presence of the divine) Likewise, Satan when he tempted the lord was quite unaware of the fact that the fullness of Godhead was there. Oh so many are there, who saw Christ up close yet missed him completely.

The man in this passage was one such. Here was Pilate who was about to judge Christ. What a joke! ! !  If he had any idea who this man was, would he have put his seal of judgment and send Christ to the cross ? Here was the divine law giver (yes, indeed the one who wrote the law was Jesus Christ himself) being judged and sent to the cross though he was proven innocent.
 Isa 33:22 For the LORD [is] our judge, the LORD [is] our lawgiver, the LORD [is] our king; he will save us.

We see him trying to pass a judgment on someone who will be seated on the white throne and he shall judge the world of the living and the dead.

Ps 96:13 Before the LORD: for he cometh, for he cometh to judge the earth: he shall judge the world with righteousness, and the people with his truth.
2Tim 4:1 I charge [thee] therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom;

How will Pilate stand before Jesus on that day ? Will he be able to excuse his ignorance ? Can he expect to receive mercy without having accepted jesus as lord and savior ? Can you imagine his state of being in a place for eternity (defined as a very very long time!) where the worm doesn’t die and the fire is not quenched ?

And yet, so many people today ignore the message which all true Christians tell them – that Jesus is the ONLY WAY to God and heaven and salvation. Till we repent and turn to Jesus, there is no salvation. Till we accept him as our lord and savior, heavens cannot help you. God is constrained by the law that he has put in place – that Man has to accept the personal sacrifice of Christ to be made part of the eternal family of God in heaven. So many people (Hindus, Muslims, atheists, nominal Christians) actively reject the love of God and the provision of God in Christ Jesus. They try to work their way into heavens. They try to pay their way into heavens. But you cannot cheat your way into the presence of God. You have to play by His rules – which is through Christ alone according to his eternal covenant with Man. The bible is God’s rulebook and instruction manual for man.

Listen to His call. If you repent today, if you accept Jesus as lord and savior, if you believe that Jesus died and was risen from the dead on the third day, if you loath your old life of sin and crave for a new life on a new slate, that is exactly what Jesus has in store for you. I welcome you into the family of God.

Heb 3:7 Wherefore (as the Holy Ghost saith, Today if ye will hear his voice,

Heb 3:8 Harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness:

Jul 16, 2013

Obedient to the heavenly vision

Acts 26:19 Whereupon, O king Agrippa, I was not disobedient unto the heavenly vision:
Acts 26:20 But shewed first unto them of Damascus, and at Jerusalem, and throughout all the coasts of Judaea, and [then] to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, and do works meet for repentance.

In this little snippet from Paul's life in the word of God, we see one of the ingredients of the making of a mighty man of God. Obedience to the heavenly vision. When we get the call, it is accompanied by a heavenly vision (If not immediately, in due course). Atleast God shows the path ahead in some form (as clear as the maturity of the called person, maybe). Here was a man who was fanatic about the doctrine of the pharisees, passionately rejecting christ when he was initially ignorant of the truth, and then equally passionately defending Christ in all forums, right up to the king's palace. The words of Jesus about Paul’s calling clearly conveyed the details of whom to convey the word to, and the glory of suffering for Christ’s sake.

Acts 9:15 But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel:
Acts 9:16 For I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name's sake.

Here in Acts 26, we see Paul being a very effective witness before one of the people whom God commissioned him to go to. King Agrippa (Remember, his calling included to witness to kings). He humbly starts with a brief on his times of ignorance which the lord winked at – the times of misguided zeal which the lord broke on his steed’s back (kind of zapped him to obedience!). This was a man who traversed many countries to persecute the true church of God – thinking it to be against the doctrine which he was familiar with.

We also have been part of this grave error – where we have often brutally criticized the real doctrine of God according to the word of God (often in defense of the religious observations which we were familiar with – which were formed by traditions of men and which were against the word of God). How kindly has God dealt with us in bringing us back to the right doctrine and how mightily he is still using many Paul’s and other zealous men after they have been broken by him. Now he is humbly addressing the king Agrippa as well as Festus, cleanly defending his position and even an insanity charge (Act 26:24).

Acts 26:16 But rise, and stand upon thy feet: for I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness both of these things which thou hast seen, and of those things in the which I will appear unto thee;
Acts 26:17 Delivering thee from the people, and [from] the Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee,
Acts 26:18 To open their eyes, [and] to turn [them] from darkness to light, and [from] the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.

We see Paul fully committed and obedient to his real calling in Christ. Oh the glory and reality of a call from the heavenlies. I crave for such clarity and presence of God in my calling (yet, in my heart I know, the same God who spoke to Paul is still there – and he is very much alive and yes, he is still speaking to us). Such obedience will result in mountain-moving evangelism – and Agrippa himself testifies. The king finds him blameless and lets him go.

Acts 26:28 Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian.

PS: When we see the rest of the word, we also remember humbly the sufferings that paul went through.
A few afflictions of paul as mentioned in 2Cor 11:23-27 (KJV)
2Cor 11:23 Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool) I [am] more; in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft.
2Cor 11:24 Of the Jews five times received I forty [stripes] save one.
2Cor 11:25 Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep;
2Cor 11:26 [In] journeyings often, [in] perils of waters, [in] perils of robbers, [in] perils by [mine own] countrymen, [in] perils by the heathen, [in] perils in the city, [in] perils in the wilderness, [in] perils in the sea, [in] perils among false brethren;
2Cor 11:27 In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness.

 Finally it's all about being obedient to the heavenly vision – at any cost. Since the suffering is just while we are soujourners on this earth. But the glory in the lord’s presence is for eternity ! And eternity is a long long time ! Let us patiently work for the eternal things and worry less for the things of this earth.

2Cor 4:17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding [and] eternal weight of glory;

Jul 13, 2013

A Divine Choice

Acts 22:13 Came unto me, and stood, and said unto me, Brother Saul, receive thy sight. And the same hour I looked up upon him.
Acts 22:14 And he said, The God of our fathers hath chosen thee, that thou shouldest know his will, and see that Just One, and shouldest hear the voice of his mouth.

The real walk with Jesus starts here – after you have received your sight. We were blind in our sins – we were quite comfortable in our past life. But the lord came and met us, and made us uncomfortable! (Remember Saul fell down from his steed and onto his knees before the lord!) Praise the lord for his mercy of giving that holy unrest till we are settled IN HIM. Oh what false comfort is there in the arms of a Delilah! But the night will end, the comfort will end; the world has nothing of eternal value to offer. Arise, awake and decide to dedicate ourselves to the Person who made us uncomfortable in this world, and prepared (and is preparing us) for eternity. How many have slept and not woken up ?! And yet, his mercy rests on us today for having given us this day to live for his glory. He (Jesus Christ) came to give sight to the blind and to set the captives free. Yes , that includes me and you; we who are blind to the things of the spirit were given the heavenly wisdom and vision when we received the gift of the holy spirit. We who were in the clutches of the world were truly given deliverance and freedom when Christ came into our lives.

When the calling of the lord is on you (and it is on every believer – Heb 3:1), the best thing that you can do initially is to realize that the calling is there. Oh so many have wasted their earthly lives in pursuit of the profane (and not the holy) gaining themselves huge sheaves of hay which shall be burnt up on the day of the lord. Let us prepare to refine our pursuits to make it aligned to God’s plan, so that we may use our lives to gain gold and precious stones which will be revealed when tested by the Holy fire.

A few of the thoughts from this passage (Acts 22:13-14) :-

Ananias: Please note that Saul (of a high estate) didn’t look to Ananias for his calling. Ananias was just a vessel used by the lord in those days to announce the calling to the mighty apostle of God. (And Paul was indeed baptized by Ananias). The calling was from God and Paul submitted to it.

Brother: Ananias calls Paul Brother. This is the amazing consequence of new birth. When we are born again, we are introduced into the family of God (Eph 2:19) and we are brothers (and sisters) with the rest of the saints of God. God becomes our father and Christ our elder brother. I have believer brothers and sisters who are closer to me in fellowship than my own blood relatives (because the holy seed takes precedence over earthly seed)

Receive thy sight: In our earthly ministry, we are reflections of how Jesus ministered on this earth.
Luke 4:18 The Spirit of the Lord [is] upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised,

And if he gave sight to the blind, so shall we when the lord commissions us for the same. Thus Ananias spoke the word which unlocked his sight in the heavens. And for a person who needs to minister to the needs of others (spiritual), he has to have his spiritual eyes opened. Else, it will be the state of the religious churches and world religions (where the blind are leading the blind on a fast track to eternal destruction)

Divine choice: The God of our fathers has chosen you. Amen. (Gal 1:15, John 15:16) It is always the will of the Father and Son that chooses us into any work for the lord. I really believe it. Even if we have no solid disposition towards Christian ministry and work, when the calling of the lord is on you, he will equip you (though he does take the person through a breaking process – Paul had to go to Arabia in isolation to learn of the holy spirit all the things which would later become foundational for the operation of the new covenant churches). It remains for us to make our calling and election sure.
2Pet 1:10 Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall:

Know His will: This is foundational for us – to know His will for us. The safest place for us is always to be in the center of the perfect will of God for us. Not the permissive will of God (which is always less than the perfect). Not as my will, but let it be according to your will. If you have really given the lordship of your life to Jesus, it’s always to be according to His divine will.

See that Just one: See the just one, the BRANCH, Jesus christ. All endeavors for the lord has to start with a fresh vision of the lord. The bible doesn’t say – see your resources, your intelligence, your ability, not even your anointing. But look to Jesus. Behold Him – whose face you should seek daily.

Hear the voice of his mouth: It is so easy to get lost in our heavenly pursuits when we hearken to the voice of the self, the flesh, other men or the devil. Yet, the lord promises to speak to us directly in this new covenant age (while he only spoke occasionally to the prophets and a few select ones in the old testament times). Continuously hear his voice – not just the “Saul, Saul” call in the beginning, but a continuous voice of the holy spirit who always speaks only from the will of the father and who leads us to Jesus always.

May the lord bless us as we desire to respond to the continuous call of God in our lives.