Feb 27, 2017

Being Washed By the Word of God

Eph 5:25-27 - That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.

As the days go by and as we draw one step closer to the coming of the Lord Jesus, this verse from Paul reminds us that we need to constantly be washed by the Word of God in order for us (i.e. the Church) to be glorious. Dear friend, it is so important that we become closer to the Word of God - As Jesus says: His Words are Spirit & Life. In the Old testament, we see a bronze basin in the design of the Tabernacle, which served two functions.. a) the mirrored base (Ex 38:8) made from the polished mirrors of women of Israel b) and water for the purpose of washing. The Word of God also serves this very same ministry in our lives.

1. Word of God reveals our need for cleansing

In James 1:22-24 , the Lord exhorts us to be not just hearers of the Word but doers and He compares the Word to a mirror which can reveal the dirt in our lives. It's like we approach a wash basin and look at the mirror to see the areas which need cleansing. Men may deceive themselves into thinking that they are living fine, when all the while, they are out of connection with God. It's only when we see the sin in our lives as God sees them, that we cry out to the Lord to save us from our sin. Only when we are aware of the sin are we aware of the need for a saviour in our life. The world around us deceives itself to think that Sin is normal, but the Lord discerns the heart and deals with each of us according to what He sees therein. (Jeremiah 17:9-10). It's only when we acknowledge our sinful state that we receive grace & forgiveness from Him. (Psa 32:5 , Psa 51:3-4).

Proverbs 30:12 reminds us that there is a group of people who are pure in their own eyes and yet, are not washed from their filthiness. As the word reveals our sin & faults, remember, we don't have to go anywhere else to be washed from our sin. The Word of God washes us.

2. The Word of God washes us and make us glorious (Eph 5:26-27)

The Lord Jesus said - John 13:8 - If I do not wash you, you have no part along with me! It's crucial for us to allow the Word of God to wash us and prepare us to be glorious, holy & undefiled. In the Old testament form of worship, we see that literally everything had to be washed before it was used of God. The priests, the sacrifices, etc needed washing. (Lev 8:6,21).

Dear friend, Whatever be your past, if you admit your sins and turn to the Lord Jesus, He can cleanse you and wash you and make you as a vessel fit for the master's use. As we are being washed by the blood of Jesus and as we allow the Word to wash us in our times of daily devotion with the Lord, He shall impart the divine nature to us (2 Peter 1:3-4)  - Our ways will change and we will be made prepared for our eternal destiny for Kingdom & Glory.

As we commit to this in our hearts, may the Lord bless you and make you experience the realities of the Kingdom of God.

Feb 13, 2017

Psalm 91 - A Covenant of God's protection

Among all the psalms, I know of few others which have been such a constant source of encouragement and security for one who believes in the one true Living God and His son Jesus Christ. We Christians are a motley bunch - We claim to be children of the living God, yet we face much insecurity in our lives. I have to confess I too sometimes fall prey to the lies of satan and live in a state where I am ignorant of my position in Christ and my covenant rights. The word of God is filled with so many references which remind us to fear not , but to trust in His promises. And today, I'd like to travel through this blessed psalm and understand the precious security that this word offers us. The Lord Jesus says : my words are spirit and life (John 6:63). As we go through this Psalm , I request you to take these words literally and apply them to your lives. God loves it when we take Him at the face value and trust Him.

The qualification for protection
(Ps 91:1) He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.

I wish I could say that the Lord's promises are unconditional, But they are often not. Here, we see a very easy way to enter into the protection of our Lord! We need to be one who lives in the secret place of our Lord Jesus. They shall abide in the shadow of the almighty. For a new covenant believer, this takes on a new meaning. Col 3:1-3 reminds us that If we are risen with Christ, seek the things which are above. Set your affection, your desires, on the things in heaven - not on the things on this earth. Be heavenly minded - not earthly minded. Don't be a friend of this world - be a friend of God. Friendship with the world is enmity with God. If we are born again, baptized and living in the light, as per this verse, the Lord says : we are dwelling in the secret place of the most high. and to such a person, He promises, that We shall be under the shadow of the almighty. Remember, when the children of Israel had gone through the wilderness on their journey, The Lord was the share - the pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night. This is the blessedness that the Lord desires for us too. The verse (Hos 14:7) reminds us "They that dwell under his shadow shall return; they shall revive [as] the corn, and grow as the vine: the scent thereof [shall be] as the wine of Lebanon.".

The covenant promise of protection
(Ps 91:2) I will say of the LORD, [He is] my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust.
For one who has thus received the covenant of protection from the Lord, our first response is one of acknowledging Him as the Lord and saying that Lord indeed, you are my refuge and none else. The word "Fortress" means an impenetrable castle defense. Indeed when we are in Christ, the enemy cannot come into our lives and go out at will. The Lord is the stronghold and defense. Indeed, the righteous run into Him and they are safe. Oh what peace we often forfeit because we don't take our fears and insecurities to Him in the time of our need. Like the psalmist says: My soul flees as a bird unto the mountain that He is. (Ps 18:2) The LORD [is] my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, [and] my high tower. What an amazing God we serve.

The protection from the traps of the enemy and pestilence
(Ps 91:3) Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, [and] from the noisome pestilence.

Surely - Surely - Surely - He shall deliver thee. Let's get this into our hearts. If the Lord says surely - He means surely. Oh how numerous are the snares that the evil one and his evil men have laid for the beloved of the Lord ?! Yet, the Lord promises to deliver us from all of those. Psa 124:7 says: Our soul is escaped as a bird fleeing from the snare of the fowler ; The snare is broken and we are escaped. Bless the Lord - oh Ye His children. For more encouragement: Read these verses.  Ps 141:9; Job 5:19; Ps 119:110; Prov 6:5;

The complete 360 degree protection
(Ps 91:4) He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth [shall be thy] shield and buckler.
What a picture ! the Lord shall cover us. Isaiah 31:5 says: As birds flying, the Lord shall preserve Jerusalem, and deliver and preserve it in passing over it.
Let's focus on the second part - His truth is our shield and buckler. The buckler is a shield which offers a surrounding protection (or a 360 degree protection). Another version reminds us that His Faithfulness is my shield and rampart. Friends, His word, His truth and His faithfulness are what forms our spiritual armor. He shall protect and deliver us.

The constant 24/7 protection
(Ps 91:5) Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; [nor] for the arrow [that] flieth by day;(Ps 91:6) [Nor] for the pestilence [that] walketh in darkness; [nor] for the destruction [that] wasteth at noonday.

Oh the night time when the forces of evil are waxing strong and the wild beasts come forth. Yet, for us, the Lord reminds us that we are to trust Him. His command (not his suggestion or feel-good remark) is to Fear Not !! The night has no power over us. In Christ is the fountain of life and by His light, we see the light and darkness shall flee before the presence of the light. Son 3:8 gives us the value of our spiritual sword - the Word of God - in the times of terror. Because of the night, the soldier of the Lord is expected to keep his sword near to him. Indeed he shall sleep peacefully (Prov 3:24) because of the sword that is near to him. The Word gives us the offensive and defensive weapons in our spiritual war against the enemy. While the enemy tries to attack us during all the 4 watches of the 24-hour day, the Lord says : don't worry about the terror or the arrow or the pestilence or the destruction. He is indeed our defense. His eyes are on us - and He is in control 24/7.

The protection even amidst the destruction happening around
(Ps 91:7) A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; [but] it shall not come nigh thee.
When we see the mass destruction happening around the world - be not afraid. The lord says: it shall not come near to thee.

The end of the wicked
(Ps 91:8) Only with thine eyes shalt thou behold and see the reward of the wicked.
The righteous become weary in seeing the flourishing wickedness and the wicked agents. But the Lord reminds us - that we shall indeed behold the punishment of the wicked. They shall be no more. When the wicked are multiplied, sin abounds, but the righteous shall see their fall. Asaph struggled with this - When he saw the wicked flourishing, He went to the sanctuary of the Lord and understood their end destiny of condemnation, consumption and destruction.

The protection for His temple - His household
(Ps 91:9) Because thou hast made the LORD, [which is] my refuge, [even] the most High, thy habitation;(Ps 91:10) There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling.
Another conditional blessing. Have we made Him our dwelling place ? our habitation ? If so, NO evil shall befall you nor a plague come near your dwelling. Because, guess what, it's the Lord's dwelling. We are the household of God and we are His holy temple. Deut 33:27 reminds us :  The eternal God [is thy] refuge, and underneath [are] the everlasting arms: and he shall thrust out the enemy from before thee; and shall say, Destroy [them].

The Supernatural protection
(Ps 91:11) For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways.(Ps 91:12) They shall bear thee up in [their] hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone.
In the modern world of skepticism and unbelief (even among the believers), it's tough to believe in the angelic ministry. But the fact is : We all have atleast 2, probably more, angels assigned to us as we go about our day to day life. I have personally enjoyed such protection so often, amidst accidents and mishaps, when I might have been taken from the world, the Lord graciously gave back my life. I believe it was the angelic ministry. Heb 1:14 reminds us that angels are ministering spirits who are sent forth to minister to them who are heirs of salvation. (That is, they are sent forth to minister to US!) Ever seen a prince go to school ? He will be accompanied by soldiers and plain clothesmen because he is of royal blood. And remember, when we are a disciple of Christ, the royal blood of the king of kings and Lord of Lords flows through us. Yes, what further excuse do we have to fear?

Not just defensive - but offensive
(Ps 91:13) Thou shalt tread upon the lion and adder: the young lion and the dragon shalt thou trample under feet.
Is this even real ? What an audacious promise ! Yet, it's the word of God. In the spirit or even in the physical realm, when our life demands such an action from us, the Lord shall enable us to do this. We shall tread upon the forces of darkness and we shall shake and do damage to the kingdom of darkness.

The son of man has already crushed the head of the serpent and the remaining victory is reserved for us - the church. Rom 16:20 says : The God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly. The Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you !

Daniel in the lions den was more powerful than the lions - because the Lord was with Him. Paul in acts 28:5 was more powerful than the viper because the royal blood was coursing through him.

The sure deliverance
(Ps 91:14) Because he hath set his love upon me, therefore will I deliver him: I will set him on high, because he hath known my name.(Ps 91:15) He shall call upon me, and I will answer him: I [will be] with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honour him.
Friends, everything in the kingdom of God is based on the relation that we have with Jesus Christ. Because we have set our love on Jesus, therefore He shall deliver us. Simple ! Because we have known His name, He shall set us on high.
If only we call out to Him, He shall answer us !

Do Christians have trouble ? Yes, we do. Salvation is not a guarantee against troubles. But the Lord promises that He SHALL be with us in trouble. AND he shall deliver us and HE shall HONOR us ! What an awesome God !And every disciple worth his salt will proclaim that the real life changing moments were those times that they had trouble. They walked away from their troubles with great treasures of darkness. (the treasures you can't get any other way !!)

Is the hand of the Lord shortened or His ears dulled against our cries ? Never. If we yield to a broken cry to Him, He shall answer from His throne.

The Eternal promise
(Ps 91:16) With long life will I satisfy him, and shew him my salvation.
with eternal life (not just a long life here on earth) - in the house of God - in the constant presence of the living God - shall he satisfy us ! and he shall bring us to the fullness of His salvation. Not a promise that ends with this world, but an eternal promise that spills over into all of eternity.

My prayer for us
As we read these verses, let the words become a part of you. Let it encourage you and build you up to make you into the man or woman of God that He has destined you to be. May the Lord establish you and strengthen you and settle you into a life of abounding fruitfulness forever. May the Lord break off the yokes and burdens of fear and insecurity and inadequacy to set you free and set you apart for his purposes.

God bless you much.

PS: Personally I pray-read this psalm DAILY and I find it such a blessing and it has been the source of deliverance throughout my faith life. I'd like to encourage you also to do the same and experience the real power of the Lord and His matchless word in your lives. Bless you.