Let the little children come to Me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it. – Luke 18:16-17 (NIV)
As I wrote earlier, God gave me a chance to go out with my nieces a day before my birthday. One of the reasons we chose our destination is it has a wonderful beach and our nieces have never been to one. Especially the elder one, Irene Charlotte, is a sweet heart and is very close to me.
When I first met her, she was afraid of almost everything, because her parents wanted to safeguard against anything happening to their first child. But, I and my wife taught her to be brave and above all, kept telling her how Jesus is fond of her and He is taking care of her.
On August 9th, as we went to the beach, I was already exhausted and had trouble walking in the sands. So, I chose to stay back near the boat house and everyone else went ahead to the seashore. It was sort of hard for me, because I always wanted to be with Irene when she faced the ocean for the first time, but I was very tired and did not want to be a kill-joy. So, when they came back from the beach, I wanted to know how my favorite niece faced the waters and everyone was talking about how fearless she was and how much she enjoyed playing in the waters.
As we were coming back, she was sitting next to me. I asked her why she was not afraid of water, and she said, “Uncle, but didn’t you teach me that Jesus created the waters and found that it is good. So why should I be afraid of water that Jesus created for us?” I could not help but smile. Then I asked if she felt the water pulling her and she said yes. “Weren’t you afraid even then?”, I asked. She looked at me, and said, “But, uncle, didn’t you teach me that Jesus is watching over me and He will protect me?”
Oh, how I used to have such simple faith. Like my niece, I used to believe the Word of God. Now, it has become so complicated. And as I go to sleep tonight, my wish that I have that simple faith – believe the Word of God, without any qualifications. So, help me, God.
The footnote in the New International Version at 2 Kings 18:4 is most interesting. When Hezekiah found the children of Israel worshiping the brazen serpent made by Moses in the wilderness, he destroyed it. Hezekiah called the serpent “Nehushtan.” The footnote explains the meaning of the word as “a serpent made of brass.”
We wonder how such an idol could have existed for so long. It would seem that it would have been destroyed in one of the reformation movements of one of the judges or kings. In my opinion, it lasted so long because it apparently was not recognized as an idol. Perhaps the children of Israel justified the worship by not calling it an idol. Hezekiah, however, came and called it what it really was-a brass image of a snake.
How often we justify sin by either ignoring it or calling it a different name! Some call adultery “a meaningful relationship.” We excuse covetousness by calling it “prudence” or “economy.” A life of sensual pleasure is “living with gusto.”
In answer to a critic, Abraham Lincoln asked, “How many legs does a cow have?” “Four,” was the reply. “If you call her tail a leg, how many does she have?” “Five,” was the answer. “No,” Lincoln said, “just calling a tail a leg does not make it a leg.”
Have we made a similar mistake? Do we think that sin is not sin just because we do not call it by the right name?
– From “2000+ Bible Illustrations.” Also read Nehushtan.
I waited patiently for the Lord. – Psalm 40:1 (NKJV)
Waiting patiently for the Lord seems to be a total failure at times. You are compelled by the Lord to stand still. You remember your calling; you are called to do great things for Him, and initially you are busy with so many things. Yes, trials, tribulations, afflictions and suffering – all are present, but none of that matters, because you are doing great work for the Lord, and then suddenly there is an enforced inaction.
Initially, you are not even sure if it is the will of God. As you attempt to do few things, all of them end up as failures and in disappointment. Slowly, as you see the hand of the Lord behind your standing still, initially there is a joy as you realize it is God Who is asking you to stand still, and there you are, standing still, like the sun over Gibeon, and the moon over the valley of Aijalon (Joshua 10:12-13).
Then you realize though your sun and moon are standing still, the earth is still rotating, and everyone’s life keeps going. They come to you often, complain about the various things happening in their life, but at least things are happening in their life. Though they are struggling, and are afflicted in every side, at least they are moving forward. For you, though, there has been no movement forward for so long. You are there, waiting patiently for the Lord.
And, you already know that, it is thousand times harder to stand still for the Lord, than being active in the work of the Lord amid the day-to-day’s troubles. It may look like a failure as the life moves on for others, but dear friend, this is one of the truest tests of your faith. To stand still, waiting for the Lord, without losing hope and losing your heart, to give up the work and honor to others, to be quiet, rejoicing in the promises of the Lord requires greater faith, especially when those busy multitude go ahead and go away. But you are chosen, by God, to stand still and see His salvation.
“I believe God, that it shall be even as it was told me” (Acts 27:25).
I went to America some years ago with the captain of a steamer, who was a very devoted Christian. When off the coast of Newfoundland he said to me, “The last time I crossed here, five weeks ago, something happened which revolutionized the whole of my Christian life. We had George Mueller of Bristol on board. I had been on the bridge twenty-four hours and never left it. George Mueller came to me, and said, “Captain I have come to tell you that I must be in Quebec Saturday afternoon.” “It is impossible,” I said. “Very well, if your ship cannot take me, God will find some other way. I have never broken an engagement for fifty-seven years. Let us go down into the chart-room and pray.”
I looked at that man of God, and thought to myself, what lunatic asylum can that man have come from? I never heard of such a thing as this. “Mr. Mueller,” I said, “do you know how dense this fog is?” “No,” he replied, “my eye is not on the density of the fog, but on the living God, who controls every circumstance of my life.”
He knelt down and prayed one of the most simple prayers, and when he had finished I was going to pray; but he put his hand on my shoulder, and told me not to pray. “First, you do not believe He will answer; and second I BELIEVE HE HAS, and there is no need whatever for you to pray about it.”
I looked at him, and he said, “Captain, I have known my Lord for fifty-seven years, and there has never been a single day that I have failed to get audience with the King. Get up, Captain and open the door, and you will find the fog gone.” I got up, and the fog was indeed gone. On Saturday afternoon, George Mueller was in Quebec for his engagement.
“Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.”
– Psalm 37:4.
Turn not disdainfully away from these words of God, as though they had no claim upon your attention. These words come to you, so to speak, upon your own invitation. For, what have you done all your life long, but rush hither and thither, into this path and into that, crying unceasingly, “How shall I obtain the desires of my heart?”
Behold here an answer to your life-long question. The explanation of all your disappointments, the remedy of all your sorrows, is here. Though there were on your table, waiting your perusal, numerous missives, some with the royal seal, others communicating news of enormous gains accruing to you, yet would it be wise in you to leave them all unnoticed rather than this text. If this be left to you, no matter though the wind carried them all away. Nay, if you should escape from a burning house with nothing but this word, you were richer than the richest of the sons of earth. For what all other things faintly and stammer in ugly promise to bestow, this positively promises.
What is anything good for, if it yield you not the desires of your heart? Do you take this to be one of those kind lies with which a mother lulls her child to rest? Or a flight of fancy with more strength of expression than depth of meaning? Is every foolish promise of the world to be believed before the deliberate promise of the most high God?
In order that the desires of a man’s heart should be gratified, it is needful that they should be rectified. He must let himself be led into the path that leads to felicity. He must delight himself in the Lord.
“But,” you reply, “this is mere mysticism, pietism. The world is full of beautiful and attractive objects, made so by God, and placed opposite to us, that we may look upon them and rejoice in them. Why should not a man rejoice in his own marvellous faculties, bestowed by his Creator? Why should he not rejoice in human society and in all the amenities that strew the path of life? Why should he not rejoice in art, in poetry, music, painting, in nature and in the representations of nature, in the characteristics of his time, the onward sweep of humanity, in the immense variety of literature, in the food so abundantly provided him? “What can there be better than to delight in these?”
Is thy heart satisfied with them? Is discontent a stranger to thy heart, and do murmurs remain far from thy lips? Canst thou say, I want no more?
Couldest thou answer these questions in the affirmative, there would still remain a difficulty. Thy beautiful things fade; the objects of thy delight vanish away. The more attractive a thing is, the more fatal will it prove to thy happiness. For all that is in the world is merely here on exhibition. It appears, is admired, and is then withdrawn.
No, it is no mysticism, but the truest philosophy, the only wisdom, to delight thyself in the Lord. Do this, not by despising his works, but by discerning the connection between them and him, and hearkening to the tale which they tell of him. All beautiful and excellent things are sent to show you the perfections of your God and to whisper to you of his love. Delight yourself in him who gave his Son to die for you; in other words love the things that he loves, shun what he disapproves; and it becomes as certain that your desires will be gratified as that the desires of God will be fulfilled. – From the “Daily Meditations” by George Bowen
A believer recently came to our church and was complaining to the ministers of God, how the devil has been sabotaging his business; whatever he earns is lost because the devil is creating one loss after another. How his family members have become sick one after another and hence could not take care of the business and all these are because the devil is working against him. And the ministers of God also prayed, rebuking the devil in the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Now, I have suffered enough due to many demonic attacks, and moreover, our ministry itself is deliverance ministries. So, I am not going to say that devil cannot do anything to saved Christian, who obeys the will of God. If Satan could hinder the plans of Apostle Paul (1 Thessalonians 2:18), then he could certainly hinder our plans. But there comes a point where we blame everything on the devil, instead of taking responsibility for our actions. There are times what we reap is what we sow. The same Apostle Paul tells in no uncertain terms in his Epistle to Galatians.
Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. – Galatians 6:7 (NKJV)
Now, this believer is known for his avarice. He already has few lands, but when he got a chance to buy one more land next to his home, he borrowed money from many and bought it. Some people may say that it is the right thing to do. But there are couple of problems.
Before this, he borrowed money from two women in our church. One is a widow and the other one suffers from marital problems because she has become a Christian. Both are tender hearted and when he asked them for money, they gave him happily; the second lady even lent him some of her jewels, with the assurance that he would return them within 6 months. Since her husband is against her going to church in the first place, if he comes to know that she has given her jewels to some believer as a loan, she would be in serious trouble. The widow is also in a poor situation as she has two daughters who are going to college now. She also gave the money, again hoping to get her money back within 6 months. Now, it has been 3 years since that, and he does not even talk about the money he owes to these poor women. Yet, he went ahead and borrowed more money from others to buy a land, and still had the temerity to stand in the church and witness that the Lord has blessed him with a land, while these two innocuous women watching him helplessly. The ministers of God have told him repeatedly to pay back those hapless women, but he does not care.
Then two years back, he bought a pickup truck for his business purpose – this time, he managed to get a loan from the bank and he needs to repay it in instalments; that debt will be cleared in another 2 years. Even then, some people pointed out that it was a costly venture and he would trouble making the payments; but he assured them that with his two sons and his wife working hard with him, he would be able to pay all those instalments easily.
But then last year, he went ahead and bought another pickup truck, again in a loan from another bank and again, it is going to take him 4 years to pay back that debt. His reasoning is if he has two trucks, he and his sons would be working around the clock and would be rich sooner and will be able to pay back all the debts within a year or two.
Then he became terribly sick and the doctors have advised him not to work hard. His wife became too weak from years of hard work and not eating properly. One of his sons met with an accident and is incapacitated for few weeks from driving a vehicle. The other son, who is a good student, got an apprentice from the Government of India and left.
Now he is having trouble to make the payments. Whatever they earn, they have to spend for the health of one or the other person in the family. Since he loves to take shortcuts to make a profit, he did not get the Fitness Certificate (FC) for his trucks; now a honest officer has been transferred to our area and is fining any vehicles which do not have a current FC. Since the FCs for this believer’s trucks have expired 5 months back, he has to pay a huge amount as fine now.
So, it is the devil that is making so many losses in his life. He wants to give to the ministries and support the church, but the devil is trying his best to stop this believer from doing that.
Yes, we can blame everything on the devil. But the LORD knows the truth. God cannot be mocked. We reap what we sow. It is time believers take responsibility for their actions. Our father Adam and mother Eve tried blaming others for their sins; but the Lord saw through their “blaming others” tactics. What makes us think we can fool the Omniscient God now?
The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord. – Psalm 37:23 (NKJV)
And the stops also. – George Mueller, in the margin of Psalm 37:23
Have you ever waited for the Lord? If you have, you will attest that waiting for the Lord is much more difficult than walking in the wilderness. Waiting needs patience and an absolute faith in God. Being active for the Lord needs faith, but waiting for the Lord needs faith with perfect patience. If you don’t believe me, ask Noah.
The toughest days of Noah were not when he was building the Ark. Yes, he would have been ridiculed by everyone. They would have mocked him. Even his great grandfather who was alive just a year before the Flood, that grand daddy of all, Methuselah, would have been wondering, “But what is a rain?” Nevertheless, in his faith, Noah was also busy working for the Lord. But his toughest days would have been those 7 days he was locked inside the Ark, with his family and all those living beings, without an inkling of rain. How hard it must be, shut inside by the Lord Himself, with no rain, and everyone making fun of him, and he was shut. It needs faith and absolute faith in God and His Word, and it needs perfect patience.
When the Lord builds a hedge around us, initially we are happy, because we know the purpose – to keep our enemies away from us. We rejoice in the Lord, knowing that this hedge is impenetrable. As the hedge grows higher, we magnify the Lord for this great fence He is building around us, that no enemy can breach. Then suddenly one day we realize that the hedge has gone so high, that we cannot see the other side. We do not hear the growling of our enemies anymore; if at all, we hear only their whimpers in being defeated. And, we want to see our enemies whining and whimpering; we want to get out and celebrate. Only then we realize, that those hedges are meant for our protection, but also to keep us inside.
But how can I be of any service to the Lord in such a small place, we wonder? How will the Name of the Lord be glorified if I do not have a larger audience, a larger environment, where I can proclaim the Majesty of His Name – Jesus, and His glory? Didn’t God call me for a greater purpose than being held up in this hedge, I wonder aloud.
The Bible says that the steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord. And in his Bible, George Mueller had written in the margin “And the stops also.” Yes, dear friend, just like our walks are ordered by the Lord, our holdups are also ordered by the Lord. Just like our ways have a greater purpose, our stops also have a higher purpose. If our calling builds our faith, our holdups strengthen our faith and make our patience perfect.
If the Lord has built a hedge around us, let us not try to break through them. Let us focus our eyes on Jesus, and the Pillar of the Cloud will move at the right moment, and then let us follow Him to our destiny. Amen.
Soon after I was admitted to the emergency ward, a nurse came in and was shocked to see me in such a condition. After sometime, I came to know that she is a Christian too, and once I was stabilized, as I was talking to my wife, she came to us, and in mock anger, slapped my hand, castigating for coming to the emergency ward in such a perilous situation. She also scolded, albeit mockingly, my wife for not taking care of me properly.
Later when I was shifter to the ICU, she would visit me twice a day, and with the other Christian nurses there, she showered so much love on me and my wife. Not only that, she even brought more Christian nurses (who were not part of ICU or emergency ward) and they would pray for me and say encouraging words. I was told that they all attend the same church, in a nearby area.
This showering of love continued even after I was shifted to the Special Ward. But the special ward was a little far from the emergency ward where she was working, so slowly the frequencies of the visits reduced. And then for nearly four days, she was unable to visit us, but she would call twice every day to make sure that everything was okay with us. Then four days later, she called us to inform that she was going to bring some more nurses to visit me that evening and if that was okay with us. Of course, we had no problem.
When I got admitted, I was noticeably rotund, especially my face and all my features. But after nearly two weeks, I had lost lots of weight and looked like my normal self. That evening, she came in with few more Christian nurses, and as soon as they saw me, they stopped walking and looked at her with a disappointed look: “He does not look like what you told us”, they told her. Then she told me that I had lost of lots of weight and did not have any resemblance with how I looked on the day I was admitted to emergency ward. Then they stayed for few minutes, and left. There was some sort of disappointment in the way all those nurses talked with me, but I could not understand what was wrong. That was the last time I met that nurse. Though she stayed in touch through phone, she did not visit us after that. So what happened? I finally got that answer on July 24th, 2016, the last Sunday I was there.
By then, I was able to stand up and move freely with little assistance. So, we decided to let the believer brother who accompanied us to the hospital to go to the Sunday service that day. Since he had also become friends with those nurses by that time, he decided to go to the same church where they go; of course, their church sends a minibus to pick up believers from the hospital and drop them off again also helped. When he came back, he told us about the worship and sermon. Then I asked him about the pastor and he hesitated for a moment. Then he said, “Please don’t misunderstand me. He exactly looked like you, when you were admitted to the Emergency Ward. He is quite rotund, and obese – and even the facial features were quite identical. But that was when you were sick.”
It was then I understood why those nurses took care of me so much – they all are attached to their pastor and I reminded them of him. So, they treated me as if they were treating their pastor. That was why so many nurses visited me and prayed for me. And, it was why they were so disappointed when I had lost weight and looked my normal self. We burst out laughing when we realized the reason for their disappointment.
Unfortunately this was not the first time it was happening to me. During the days I was doing my Masters in India, I was a Christian, but I also followed the ways of the world. And it made me very popular and I had many friends. I never had time to read the Bible, or to pray or to spend time with Jesus, because my friends took up lots of my time. Then I hit a rocky road, and one day, I realized that I had gone far away from my Savior. As I started to read my Bible and spend time with our Lord, I noticed that slowly many friends disappeared from my network as they were disappointed to find that I am after all a “Christian.” Then came a day, I suddenly realized that I had no friends left at all. No one to talk to, no one to laugh with. The weird part was I was still spending the same amount of time for them; I was not preaching the Gospel to them. It was my inner spiritual journey, yet they sensed that I am different than before, and some of them openly expressed their disappointment and disappeared from my life.
Isn’t it sad that even our best friends have their own vision of who we are; and the moment they realize that we are not the same person as in their vision, they are disappointed. Some try to change us to that image, but some move on to other better images.
But it also made me think. The Lord does have a vision for each one of us. In His great wisdom, He has chosen us to be His vessels, to show the world His love and grace. I don’t know about you, but I had fallen short of His vision so many times. I had failed our Beloved innumerable times. There were times I failed so miserably, I felt that He would simply forsake me, and go ahead with someone else with His plan.
But God’s love for me has not changed a bit. No matter how many times, His vision for me has tarred by my foolish acts, His love takes hold of me, in the same way He took hold of me when I was a small kid, seeking the love and shoulders of a father. For me, the vision may look blurred, but from the view of God, it is as if nothing has happened to blur that loving image He has carved of me in His forehands.
Yes, there were times I had displeased our Lord greatly; there were times, He was disappointed in me. But, then my Brother and my Friend Jesus, the Son of God, is there at the right hand of my Father; the great Advocate, the High Priest, Who understands my weaknesses, Who is willing to wash away any blemish that I am willing to confess and own up, with His own blood. And, the anger of my Father lasts only for a second, but He loves me with an eternal love. A love that is not disappointed with how I am changing. A love that keeps the glorious vision that the Lord has for me in its sight. A love that transcends all human love and all human understanding. The eternal love of the Eternal God. Oh, I am so blessed!
“Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises” (2 Peter 1:4).
When a shipwright builds a vessel, does he build it to keep it upon the stocks? Nay, he builds it for the sea and the storm. When he was making it, he thought of tempests and hurricanes; if he did not, he was a poor shipbuilder.
When God made thee a believer, He meant to try thee; and when He gave thee promises, and bade thee trust them, He gave such promises as are suitable for times of tempest and tossing. Dost thou think that God makes shams like some that have made belts for swimming, which were good to exhibit in a shop, but of no use in the sea?
We have all heard of swords which were useless in war; and even of shoes which were made to sell, but were never meant to walk in. God’s shoes are of iron and brass, and you can walk to Heaven in them without their ever wearing out; and His life-belts, you may swim a thousand Atlantics upon them, and there will be no fear of your sinking. His Word of promise is meant to be tried and proved.
There is nothing Christ dislikes more than for His people to make a show-thing of Him, and not to use Him. He loves to be employed by us. Covenant blessings are not meant to be looked at only, but to be appropriated. Even our Lord Jesus is given to us for our present use. Thou dost not make use of Christ as thou oughtest to do.
O man, I beseech you do not treat God’s promises as if they were curiosities for a museum; but use them as every day sources of comfort. Trust the Lord whenever your time of need comes on.
— C. H. Spurgeon
Beside my cottage door it grows,
The loveliest, daintiest flower that blows,
A sweetbriar rose.
At dewy morn or twilight’s close,
The rarest perfume from it flows,
This strange wild rose.
But when the rain-drops on it beat,
Ah, then, its odors grow more sweet,
About my feet.
Ofttimes with loving tenderness,
Its soft green leaves I gently press,
In sweet caress.
A still more wondrous fragrance flows
The more my fingers close
And crush the rose.
Dear Lord, oh, let my life be so
Its perfume when tempests blow,
The sweeter flow.
And should it be Thy blessed will,
With crushing grief my soul to fill,
Press harder still.
And while its dying fragrance flows
I’ll whisper low, “He loves and knows
His crushed briar rose.”