May 29, 2017

Key to Progression - Faithfulness

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

May 6, 2017

Sealed by the Holy Spirit - Assurance of Eternity

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

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

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

1. Heard the Word of Truth

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

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

2. In Whom Ye Trusted

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

3. After you believed

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

4. Sealed with the Holy Spirit

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

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

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

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

May 1, 2017

God's power in our trials

1Pet 1:3-7 (1:3) Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, (1:4) to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, (1:5) who by God's power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. (1:6) In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, (1:7) so that the tested genuineness of your faith-more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire-may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

These passages come forth from the pen of Peter, inspired by the Holy Spirit to provide much strength and hope for the Christian who is buffeted by trials of their lives. The summary of the passage is the deep conviction that God is all powerful in our trial and that He is fully in control. I'd like to just touch upon a few things which ministered hope to me.

1. Living Hope
1 Pet 1:3 he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead
Your hope is only as powerful as your God. Your hope is only as alive as your God! We are blessed to know and serve a Living God - who submitted to death for a period to provide the precious salvation for all of us and who, by the power of the Holy spirit was raised from the dead and is alive for ever more, and is even now seated at the right hand of God! When we were born again, these verses remind us that we were born again to a living hope of our resurrected savior. Also see {2 Th 2:16} What is this living hope ? Read on...

2. An Inheritance
1 Pet 1:4 to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you
We all would love to receive an inheritance! (It's joyful because we didn't expect it when we were born, we receive beyond what we could have got out of our own work, and we receive the remaining portion of the fruit of a patriarch's entire life effort! All because we remained in the family). The heavenly riches have a great parallelism to this! The living hope of a believer is in the inheritance - but contrary to an earthly inheritance, it is imperishable, undefiled and unfading. It's kept in the heaven for us. It's the salvation package for our eternal life. It contains spiritual blessings, it contains intimacy with God, it contains an eternal ministry, Eternal rewards, etc. (We are joint heirs with Christ, and as Christ suffered and obeyed the Lord, so shall we inherit along with Him if we are obedient to the Lord!) 1 Cor 9:25reminds us that our effort for running this race is to win an eternal crown - so much more glorious than a medal that we receive when we win a race here on earth.

3. Power of God as our guard
1 Pet 1:5 who by God's power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time
Our salvation would be worth nothing if it were solely dependent on our human frailty to keep something so precious! Indeed, God has kept a role for us - we need to cooperate with His plan for our salvation. We have to repent, believe & submit to Him, we have to deny ourselves, take up the cross and follow Jesus. While this is true, the promise of God comes that it's finally God's power that is guarding these promises for us. We are kept by the power of God (see Jude 24 Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, see also Rom 16:25Eph 3:20) This protection is available to us through  faith. The full salvation package is ready to be revealed at the last time!

4. Rejoice in your trials
1 Pet 1:6 In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials
The Lord frequently makes impossible demands on our lives - Does anyone really rejoice in their trials? It's so unpleasant.  (Heb 12:11)
The constant running theme of scripture is the testing of mankind. From the book of Genesis to revelation, we always come across this theme.  (i.e. the testing of Adam, to the testing of every single patriarch, to the testing of kings and kingdoms to the testing of Jesus to the testing of the disciples and apostles to the testing of the Church to the testing of the inhabitants of the eternal kingdom whether or not they would follow satan). It's the Lord's good pleasure to try us and to test us to prove us worthy of His kingdom. Also the trials in your life produce the very precious proof of patience and endurance in your life. (Rom 5:3Jas 1:3).

1 Pet 1:7 says: so that the tested genuineness of your faith-more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire-may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ
The reason why the Lord tests us is because faith that is tested and proven is much more valuable than the faith that is untested. The fire of the trial doesn't just test us, it purifies the faith. As Job says in Job 23:10 - He knows my way. I shall come forth as gold when He has tried me. It's not forever that the test will continue - Heb 10:37. The Lord will not test you beyond your ability. His desire is to purify you - not to destroy you! Often He chooses you in the furnace of affliction (Isa 48:10)

1 cor 10:13 No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. The Lord says: After you have suffered a while through your trials, he shall restore, confirm strengthen and finally establish you! (1 Pet 5:10). Praise the Lord who truly makes all things work together for the good of those who love the Lord and those who are called unto His purpose.

May the power of God be manifest in your trials and may He strengthen you through these verses. God bless!