Monday, December 3, 2007
Reading: Romans 12:9-21
"Love your enemies... do good to those who hate you" (Mt 5:44)
"How can I love my enemies?" Every other Christian is bothered by this question. Enemies for a Christian are essentially those who are the enemies of the Cross and those who oppose the preaching of the Gospel. Occasionally there could also be some who, because of their differing tastes and temperaments, would hate you. Sometimes it becomes really impossible to get along with such folks. That's why the Bible admonishes, "If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men" (Rom 12:18). Here are some guidelines to help you improve your relationship with those who oppose or hate you-
First, meditate on God's love to them too! "He makes His sun rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the just and the unjust" (Mt 5:45). Each person is precious to God. Christ died for every man and woman, good or bad, so called.
Secondly, remind yourself of how patient God is towards you! He has not given up on us though we have failed or disappointed Him so many times. He, who is abundant in mercies, expects us to forgive others - not less than seven times seventy! Young Joseph pardoned his perfidious brothers who threw him in a waterless pit in the desert. How much our God loves this attitude!
Thirdly, pray for your enemies (Mt 5:44). Love grows in the soil of prayer. It always becomes easy to love or forgive someone who hates us when we start praying for that individual. Confess to God your inability to love and He will pour out His love into your heart through His Spirit and enable you to do what otherwise you cannot.
God does not allow us to curse even the devil (Jude 9). Guard your tongue lest you abuse someone. Let not bitterness ever take root in your heart. It defiles you and others as well (Heb 12:14,15). Vengeance is the Lord's. Don't take that rod in your hand. You will perish in that process (Mt 26:52). Look for opportunities to do some good to the one who has hurt you. Victory is yours! (Rom 12:19-21). "When a man's ways please the Lord, He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him" (Prov 16:7).
Doing bad for good is devilish;
Doing bad for bad is human;
Doing good for bad is Divine!
Thursday, November 29, 2007
Reading: Luke 8:40-48
"Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh;
Is there anything too hard for Me?" (Jer 32:27)
Some Churches teach that taking medicine is sin. Several believers who bragged that they would never touch medicine regretted afterwards with guilt when a situation necessitated medical treatment. The doctrine that believers should not use medicine is found nowhere in the Bible.
Several effective medicines are herbal extracts and they are actually God's provision for our health and strength (Gen 1:29). Rachel begged Leah for some mandrakes because it was a herb believed to promote fertility in women (Gen 30:14). Even after God promised King Hezekiah extension of life, it was Prophet Isaiah who advised medical treatment to the King (Isa 38:21).
Jesus endorsed the medical ministry to the sick (Mt 9:12). The good Samaritan applied oil and wine on the wounds of the robbed man and bandaged them (Lk 10:34). Luke was a "beloved" Physician, obviously because of his loving medical help to the believers and the ministers (Col 4:14). Paul encouraged Timothy to take a little wine for his chronic stomach ailment (1 Tim 5:23).
In the case of King Asa, he sought "only" the physicians. That was wrong. What was necessary on his part primarily was repentance (2 Chr 16:12). The woman with nonstop bleeding was not chided by Jesus for spending so much on doctors. Rather Jesus cheered her up and healed her (Lk 8:43-48). Medicine and Faith do not contradict each other. They can harmoniously coexist. In Christian hospitals, prayer, faith and medicine are administered together. Aren't doctors a gift from God? (Jer 8:22). There are surgeons who kneel down and pray in operating rooms before they pick up the scalpal.
There are godly men and women who would not touch medicine. It's a commendable faith. But that should not be thrust on others. "Do you have faith? Keep it to yourself before God" (Rom 14:22). All do not have the same "measure" of faith (Rom 12:3). Parents who don't immunize their children against polio are failing in their moral responsibility.
Preachers, especially healing evangelists, need not feel awkward to go to doctors, and then hide it from people. Let people know that preachers are perfectly normal human beings! (Acts 14:15; Gal 4:13). The full blessings of Redemption, especially for our bodies, can be realised only at Christ's return. Until then we enjoy just the firstfruits (Rom 8:23; Heb 9:28).
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
Reading: Proverbs 11:1-31
"It is possible to give freely and become more wealthy,
but those who are stingy will lose everything" (Prov 11:24)
The Indian Government categorizes people on the basis of what they "have." God does it on the basis of what we "give." If you give more than what you can, you belong to Forward Community. If you give just what you can, you belong to Backward Community. If you give less than what you can, you are from the Most Backward Community. Which community do you belong to?
To whom should I give? We must help anyone in need. Does not our Father make His sun rise on the evil as well as on the good, and send rain on the just and on the unjust? (Mt 5:45). Forty percent of Indians are below the poverty line. If you have one square meal a day, you are rich in this Country. No Christian can ever say he doesn't have enough to give. "Charity gives itself rich; covetousness hoards itself poor!"
How much to give? The Bible does not lay down a rule but it says, "God loves a cheerful giver" (2 Cor 9:7). The context of this verse is helping the poor. Why don't we celebrate a Festival of Charity, to specially feed and clothe the poor? How exceedingly joyful it would be? May the forthcoming Christmas be celebrated like this!
The blessings on those who give to the poor are manifold. There is material blessing: "He who has pity on the poor lends to the Lord, and He will pay back what he has given" (Prov 19:17). Then there's physical blessing: When you share your bread with the hungry and clothe the naked, "your healing shall spring forth speedily" (Isa 58:8). "Blessed is he who considers the poor...The Lord will strengthen him on his bed of illness; He will sustain him on his sickbed" (Psa 41:1-3).
Also there's spiritual blessing: "He has given to the poor; His righteousness remains forever... Now may He...increase the fruits of your righteousness" (2 Cor 9:9,10). The angel told Cornelius, "Your prayers and your alms have come up for a memorial before God." This was he who received the Holy Spirit before the preacher finished his sermon or he was baptized! (Acts 10:4,44,47). Finally, there's eternal blessing. When we are rich in good works, ready to give and willing to share, we store up for ourselves "a good foundation for the time to come" (1 Tim 6:18,19).
Oh, to bring some golden gleams from the land where glory beams;
Blessing others day by day, scattering sunbeams by the way!
(E.E. Hewitt, 1851-1920)
Sunday, November 25, 2007
I LOVE U!
Reading: Mark 7:14-23
"Guard your heart with all diligence;
for out of it emerges issues of life" (Prov 4:23)
Karthar Singh belonged to a wealthy Sikh family. When he accepted Jesus as his personal Saviour, his dad tried various methods to lure and turn him from his faith but in vain. Finally his father sent a beautiful girl to him when Karthar was alone, asking her to change his stand by hook or crook. But Karthar Singh said to her, "I have only one heart. I have already given it to Jesus. I'm sorry, I don't have another one to give it to you!"
All evil originates from the heart (Mk 7:21,22). God knows that "above all things the heart is deceitful, and desperately wicked" (Jer 17:9). That's why He demands our heart: to remove from us our "heart of stone" and replace it with a "heart of flesh" (Ezek 36:26b). With a lasting patience He goes on knocking at the door of our heart (Rev 3:20). If we open the door and let Him in, He gives us a "new heart" and fills it with a "new Spirit" (Ezek 36:26a).
Someday we might have given our hearts to the Lord. What is its present condition? Should there be any secret sins, it is time to repent, to confess it and renounce it. Let us carefully examine and find out whether love of the world which is hostile to God, pride which He detests, and envy that rots the bones have completely been wiped out of our heart (Js 4:4; Prov 16:5; 14:30). The Lord wants us to humble ourselves and get reconciled with those whom we have wronged (Mt 5:23,24) and forgive everyone wholeheartedly (Mt 6:15).
Let's decide once and for all to love God with "all our heart" (Mt 22:37). Doesn't our heart belong to Him? He sacrificed Himself and died for us. Don't give room for any rubbish, however tiny it may be, even in a corner of your heart. Tell God, "I love You!"
Let us bathe in the blood of Jesus every morning. As the Sun of righteousness He will brighten us everyday. "Our path will be like the first gleam of the dawn, shining and growing ever brighter and brighter till full light of the noon" (Prov 4:18).
Jesus wants me for a sunbeam, to shine for Him each day;
In every way try to please Him-at home, at school, at play.
I will ask Jesus to help me, to keep my heart from sin;
Ever reflecting His goodness, and always shine for Him!
Friday, November 23, 2007
Reading: James 1:1-16 "Every man is tempted when he is drawn away of his own desires, and enticed" (Js 1:14) The first two senten "No, Thanks!" Reading: James 1:1-16 "Every man is tempted when he is drawn away of his own desires, and enticed" (Js 1:14) The first two sentences each newborn babe in Christ should learn are, "Yes, Lord!" and "No, Thanks!" The first one is his instant response to whatever God says, and the next one his immediate reply to whatever Satan suggests. Adam as the first man of the human race was defeated because he failed to say, "No, Thanks!" to the devil, whereas Jesus the Second Adam leads humanity in triumph because He outrightly rejected Satan's suggestions. We will have a comparative study on this today, so we may not blame anyone or anything for our failure. Bodily cravings Jesus overcame the temptation when He was really hungry after forty days of fasting, whereas Adam and Eve failed even when they had all the fruits and vegetables at their disposal (Mt 4:2; Gen 2:16). God has given us enough and more. We must learn to be content. Be content with your wife, your husband, your possessions, and so on. "Foods for the stomach and the stomach for foods, but God will destroy both it and them. Now the body is not for sexual immorality but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body" (1 Cor 6:13). God was greatly displeased when David said yes to his flesh and took another man's wife. God expressed His grief and disappointment through Nathan (2 Sam 12:8,9). Don't throw the blame on your body saying the flesh is weak. That's why God has given us the Holy Spirit. If we walk in the Spirit, we shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh (Gal 5:16,24). Satan's suggestions Eve threw the blame on the serpent (Gen 3:13). May be she justified herself that Satan presented a temptation that was too much for her to resist. "Good for food... pleasant to the eyes... desirable to make one wise" (Gen 3:6). The temptations of Jesus in the wilderness had the same triple strength (Mt 4:4,7,10). The offer for Him was also quite attractive. But He refused. Because, He knew that "all that is in the world — the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life — is not of the Father but is of the world" (1 Jn 2:16). No doubt Satan is strong but that's no excuse for us because He who is in us is greater than he who is in the world (1 Jn 4:4). We ought to be victorious! Satan is a defeated foe. Christ is the Victor and Christians are to be victors, not victims of the enemy of God. No temptation is too strong to resist. For every temptation God has provided a way of escape (1 Cor 10:13). Yield not to temptation, for yielding is sin, Each victory will help you some other to win! (Horatio R. Palmer, 1834-1907)
Rock & Sand
Reading: Revelation 22:1-14
"No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived
what God has prepared for those who love Him" (1 Cor 2:9)
Christian life begins with obedience to the Gospel. From beginning to end Christian life is a life of obedience. That's why unbelievers are called the "children of disobedience" (Eph 5:6). No doubt obedience to God is difficult, but it is not a drudgery. This was made clear in one of the very early discourses of Jesus: "My yoke is easy... My burden is light" (Mt 11:28-30). To this the dear most disciple of Jesus, even John, said Amen when he testified at the end of his six decade of Christian life, "God's commandments are not burdensome" (1 Jn 5:3b).
Obedience becomes easy when we think of the future rewards God has promised to those who obey Him. "There remains a rest for the people of God... Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall after the same example of disobedience" (Heb 4:9,11). Obedience may be a struggle now, but this struggle will be over in eternity. When we enter the heavenly rest, we would cease from our works — struggles and efforts—as God did from His! (v10). One day of rest in God's literal presence will be worth all the efforts we took for thousands of days on earth to walk in obedience before Him!
Jesus spoke about two buildings in His Sermon on the Mount. One was built by a wise man and that was on a rock, the other by someone foolish and that was on sand. The wise man was one who lived and worked in obedience to God's will revealed in His Word. His building withstood all storms and floods. But the building of the disobedient man was washed away (Mt 7:24,25). This illustration was the conclusion of Christ's longest recorded sermon. It was a warning against disobedience, more so a motivation for obedience! If I believe in life after death I must choose to obey God in life before death. There may be some immediate gains if we choose the way of the world; but the ultimate rewards are only to those who stick to the principles of the Word of God.
A promise from the Old Testament is a great motivator for obedience: Deuteronomy 28:13, "The Lord will make you the head and not the tail; you shall be above only, and not be beneath, if you listen to the commandments of the Lord your God, and are careful to observe them!"
Firm as a rock, though surges dash around us!
Firm as a rock, though trials dark may fall!
Yet shall we cling to Him, the Rock of Ages,
Jesus, the Holy One, our All in All! (Fanny J. Crosby, 1823-1915)
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