Monthly Archives: April 2016
As I woke up this morning, with so much gratitude in my heart as I am celebrating my 12-year wedding anniversary with my wife, the LORD spoke to me right away with this verse.
Consider what great things He has done for you. – 1 Samuel 12:24.
As I consider, I am awestruck at the great things the LORD has indeed done for us. Of course, I have to concede that in the eyes of this world, those things would not be great; the things that God has done in our life may even be despised by the world. But looking at the roller coaster ride that has been our 12 year marriage, for me, they are great and wondrous things that manifest the grace and the love of the Lord Jesus Christ.
12 years back, I had a very strong faith, and in my Christian life, I had no time for fools and no place for compassion. My emphasis was on “faith” and faith alone. But these 12 years have taught me that the grace of God is much deeper and sweeter than anyone could understand. It has made me compassionate towards, not only my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, but in also towards the suffering of others. These 12 years have taught me that I am still a babe in Christ. More importantly, 12 years back, I thought I had walked a long way in Christian life; now, I realize that all I have taken is just 12 steps towards Christ.
Sometimes I wish, though, I am not married. Because breaking and moulding me into the vessel that the LORD has planned, involved lots of heartbreaks, failures, dejections and prolonged waits. My wife, Glory, is so supportive of me, but I do know the heartaches that she has suffered when I was being broken; I know the pain I had caused because of my own mistakes and errors; and how much burden she has carried when others have insulted me because they have no idea what the Lord is doing in our lives. On one hand, I wish she did not have to suffer with me; but, on the other hand, the LORD in His infinite wisdom and mercy, has chosen her to be part of this process and He knows better. And, He has made me realize that if she was not part of this, I would have lost it long back.
In these 12 years, God has also given me a wonderful family. Great parents-in-law (is that even a word???), a good sister and two wonderful kids along with my loving wife. So, I was thanking Lord for that when I suddenly wondered, “But, why did God give me to them?”. I mean, I was a horrible husband, a meddlesome son-in-law, a condescending brother and over-sensitive parent. So, why did God give me to them? I hope, it is not to punish them.
With a grateful heart, as I thanked the LORD for these glorious 12 years, I asked Him to mould me in anyway He wants, but make me a good husband to my wife, better son to my parents, an understanding brother to my sister and a loving parent to my kids. Lord, thank You for these 12 years and looking forward for the days that are in Your right hand. Praise be to You alone. Amen.
And when Jesus had cried out with a loud voice, He said, “Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit.” Having said this, He breathed His last. – Luke 23:46
This is the seventh and the last of the utterances of our Saviour Jesus Christ from the Cross and it is the Word of Rest.
Just like God created the world and its order and finished everything on the Sixth day, Jesus said “It is finished!” as His sixth utterance from the Cross. And God rested on the Seventh day. And the seventh utterance of Jesus is a Word of rest.
Before “It is finished!”, the cry of the Lord is, “My God, My God why have You forsaken Me?” After it is finished, it is “Father”. Yes, dear friend, Jesus Christ has fulfilled the Law and has paid the price in full. Before it was “our God”; before we felt as if He has forsaken us. Not anymore, because God, Who is the Father of Jesus Christ, is also our Father in heaven.
Before “It is finished!”, Jesus felt as if the hands of Father had let Him down. But, once it is done, it is into those same hands, Jesus commits His spirit. We can rest knowing that the eternal God is our Refuge and underneath are His everlasting arms (Deuteronomy 33:27).
Before “It is finished!”, Jesus asked His Father, “Why have You forsaken Me?”. But now, He says, “I commit My spirit.” Dear friend, commit your life to our Father now. Commit your future to Him. Commit your everything to Him. As Paul said, we know Whom we have believed. Believe in our Father Who gave His only Son for us. May that faith bring rest unto our life. Amen.
So when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!”
The sixth utterance of the our Saviour Jesus Christ on the Cross is the voice of triumph – It is finished.
The Word of God always makes me tremble in fear. How much hidden treasures lay beneath them! And, these words, “It is finished!” have so much hidden beneath them, it is tough to know where to begin and when to end.
1. The demands of the Law are finished, for Jesus paid it in full. We are not under the Mosaic covenant anymore, as Jesus fulfilled the Law completely, as He bore the punishment and the curse of the Law on the Cross, for us.
2. The command of sin over us is finished. Since we are not under the Law anymore, but under the reign of grace, sin does not have any authority over us anymore.
3. The authority of devil over us is finished. The devil does not have any authority over a believer anymore, unless we give into his evil and cunning schemes. His head was crushed on the Cross.
4. Reconciliation of mankind with God our Father is finished. The veil that covered the Holiest of Holies is torn apart, allowing us to enter the throne of grace with confidence.
5. The Will of God, regarding the ministry of Jesus is finished. Our Father in Heaven sent Jesus for a particular ministry. To show how much He loves us and those of us who believe in Jesus Christ be saved (John 3:16). And that ministry is finished. Now, we know the love of God through Calvary and when we believe in the Sacrifice of Jesus Christ, we are saved.
There are many more hidden truths behind this proclamation. It is the voice of triumph from the Cross. When was the last time, you said words of triumph, while carrying your cross?
I was 18 years old when we went to visit a friend of ours. I remember that there was a mass that evening and all of us were Roman Catholics, so we went to the church that evening, with my friend and his family. There were few pews in the back of the church and in the front, it was just some blankets. In our town, generally old people sit in the pews, while the younger ones sit on the floor. So, trying to show my humility, I went to sit on the floor, hoping my friend and his family would appreciate my “humility”. But the reaction I got baffled me.
They were all shocked and some even started shouting at me for trying to sit on the floor with other Christians. My friend had a horrified look on his face, while his family were scolding him for bringing me into their home. Then he convinced them regarding something and asked me to sit in the pews with his family.
Later, I was explained that low caste people are not allowed to sit on the pews and it is mandatory that they sit on the floor. So, when I tried to sit down, it means I am from a low caste and an “untouchable”, and hence that reaction. The higher caste people only sit on the pews.
It broke my heart. That there would be such a discrimination among Christians. That was my first encounter with caste system among Indian Christians. Later I found out that it is prevalent among Roman Catholic and certain Orthodox churches. But I was told that it is not a problem among Charismatic/Pentecostal Christians. All are welcome. All are equal. I was told. And, now, I understand how naive I have been.
Few years back, there was a church function and a 16-year old boy was making a ruckus during the dinner. So, I asked him to take it easy and he advised me to cool it off. Since I was double his age and also, he was not even out of high school, I told him that he neither has the age nor the status to advise me. I thought it was over.
But then his family came back, accusing me of hurting a young boy because he belonged to a lower caste. I was horrified, for I did not even know that he belonged to a lower caste. For me, he is a Christian. But apparently when I said that he does not have the status to advise me yet, he thought that I was saying that he belonged to a lower caste and hence does not have the qualification to advise me.
And, then I found out that the people in our church knew that I belonged to a different caste, which is surprising because I never talk about the caste in which I was born into. For me, as a Christian, caste system is based on an idolatrous religion, so when I mention caste, I am like the family of Jacob, who left Laban, but carried all their idols along with them. For me, as a Christian, there is no caste. And as an Indian too, I hate caste system, for it is an abomination for the entire nation and has hampered the growth of India and will continue to hurt the nation.
Especially these days, the Christians openly talk about their caste. In Christian matrimonial sections, even in those “spiritually enlightened” magazines, you can see the caste playing a huge part. “The groom belongs to Pentecostal Nadar Christian and he wants a bride from the same or higher caste.” “The bride is a from a SC community. And only those from the same community are asked to contact for further details.” These are what we see today. Everyone has embraced the evil and has brought it into the Christian-fold. And even the church leaders are not denouncing this malady.
I know that many true Christians who live in Western countries pray for India. They pray that many more Indians accept Jesus Christ. But, my humble request is, pray that those who have accepted the LORD already, leave all their idols behind and may the Christian churches in India be truly “Christian”, without any discrimination, where all are equal, all are washed by the Blood of our Saviour and are His brothers and sisters. Please pray for the Indian Christians. More than persecution, this disease is what has been ailing the Christians in India. May the Church in India follow what Apostle Paul did:
For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. – 2 Corinthians 2:2
After this, Jesus, knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the Scripture might be fulfilled, said, “I thirst!” – John 19:28
There are many explanations why Jesus said, “I thirst!” and some of them involve His unquenchable thirst for souls to be saved and deeper spiritual meanings. I am not qualified to go so deep into the words of the Saviour, so I will talk about one of the simplest things that Jesus wants from us, something that will quench His thirst.
In John 4:7-32, we see our Blessed Saviour talking to the Samaritan woman. The icebreaker that the LORD used to start the conversation is, “Give Me a drink.” The Gospel clearly says that Jesus was exhausted and all His disciples had gone into the city to get some food. And, when the Samaritan woman came to fetch water from the well, the LORD asks her for some water to quench His thirst. And when the disciples come back, they ask Him to eat, but His response implies that He has eaten already.
Except that the Gospel does not record that the Samaritan woman gave Him water as He had asked. She talked with Him and asked Him lots of questions. And, personally, for me, it is something that the LORD wants from us.
Jesus saved us so that we can be His brothers and sisters, to be the children of God. Jesus wants us to be His disciples, His followers. But, He also wants us to be His friends; a chosen people, who are ready to converse with Him.
We pray, but most of the time, what we call “prayers” are not prayers in the true sense; they are more like supplications. We ask for this favour and that mercy. We cry, we give all our burdens to Him. We do all these things, because He is God and He is a Good God. But have you ever been to His presence as His friend? Or as Jesus as your Friend? Jesus longs to talk to us. HE loves when we ask questions. When we do not understand things, He is ready to explain the Scriptures, like He explained it to the disciples on the road to Emmaus.
Yes, dear friend, He thirsts for our friendship. Are we willing to quench His thirst today?
And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” that is, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” – Matthew 27:46
The fourth utterance from our LORD Jesus Christ. I had uttered these very words so many times in my life. As I was struggling with depression, I had to battle loneliness so many times. There would be so many people around me, laughing with me, but the wounds in my heart would tear me apart and this would be the silent cry from the heart, and at times, there were some feral screams too.
So, when I started to meditate on the Passion of our Lord, it bothered me. I was a sinner. I am imperfect. My heart rebels against God. So, I can understand if the LORD forsakes me. But why would Jesus Christ, the only Son of God utter these words in anguish?
Because God made Jesus who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. – 2 Corinthians 5:21.
Oh, now it makes sense. Jesus cried out because it was supposed to be me. It was I who was supposed to be forsaken. Instead, Jesus was made to be sin for us, that the Most Holy God, Who does not look at sin, had to forsake Jesus.
The love of God our Father Who was ready to hide His face from His only Son. The love of Jesus Christ, our Saviour and the Son of God, Who was ready to be forsaken for us. Is there any way to understand such a love? Especially when I think about the sin that has lived in me. For me. And because Jesus took my place and was forsaken, I know that promise the Lord gave me, when He brought me with a mighty hand into His fold, will never fail: I will never leave you nor forsake you.
When Jesus therefore saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing by, He said to His mother, “Woman, behold your son!” Then He said to the disciple, “Behold your mother!” – John 19:26-27
The third of the seven utterances of our Saviour from the Cross. Isn’t it amazing that when being nailed to the Cross, Jesus fulfilled His responsibility as a Son to His mother. Then, dear friend, imagine how much He will take care of you today as He is seated at the Right Hand of our Father, as a High Priest interceding for us.
But isn’t it amazing that the apostle John came back, to be at the Calvary, after deserting our Lord at the Garden of Gethsemane? It is the love for Jesus Christ that had compelled him to come back. If I had been in John’s place, I would have expected the Lord to give one of two things.
- Make me the chief of the Apostles, instead of Peter, who deserted You and thrice said that he does not know You. But here I am. Yes, I also left You, Lord, but see I have come back because Your love has compelled me. So, I deserve to be the chief of Your disciples.
- Or, Lord, give me a double-portion anointing, like Elisha received when he saw Elijah being taken away. Here I am, as You are in the last moments. And give me the anointing, double-portion.
And Jesus did give him a responsibility. It was not a promotion or an anointing, but taking care of an old woman, who had just witnessed her Son being crucified before her eyes and hence suffered so much.
Isn’t it odd that when Peter proclaims his love for our Saviour later, again he was given another responsibility – Feed my sheep. (John 21:17)
Dear friend, do you love Jesus Christ? Then here is the Voice of Love from Calvary. Asking you to take responsibility. Not a double-portion anointing, not a promotion in the church leadership. But to do ordinary menial tasks, taking care of the sheep, taking care of people who need your help, people who may not deserve your time… responsibilities that may not make your name prominent, but if you love Jesus, the Lord Who was crucified for you, He is asking you this day… Will you feed My sheep? Will you tend My sheep? Will you take care of those who are weak?
What will be your answer? It says about John – from that hour, he took Mary to his own home. From that hour. What will be your answer in the next hour?
And Jesus said to him, “Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.” – Luke 23:43
The second of the seven utterances of our LORD on the Cross. It is one of the most beautiful verses in the Bible. All the thief asks from our LORD is, “Lord, remember me.” But Jesus says, today you will be with Me in Paradise. Yes, we may pray for less, based on our understanding; but the LORD gives more than we can imagine.
The thief did not do any good works before and he had no chance to do any good works after. Yet, he became the first believer who was saved by the blood of Jesus Christ. I am not against good works, per se. But saying that we will not be saved unless we do good works is against the Gospel of our Lord. Must a Christian do good works? Yes, we must, because we are saved. Because we are the children of a loving God. Not the other way around.
This thief is the best example of saved by faith, through the grace of our LORD. Apostle Paul puts it beautifully in his epistle to Romans. But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness. – Romans 4:5
And I pray that I have the faith of this thief. Yes, I have faith; but do I have the faith of this thief?
- Here is a man, hanging on a cross, condemned to death and has no hope left for anything in his life. Yet he believes.
- And he turns around and sees another Man, nailed to the Cross, and vilified by everyone who had assembled to watch His crucifixion. They are not mocking the two thieves, but they are hurling insults after insults at this Man.
- There are only few people who are in support of this Man, and they are weeping, unable to help Him in anyway. From the viewpoint of this thief, the position of Jesus Christ has to be worse than his position. Yet, he calls Jesus as ‘Lord’.
- Everyone is saying, “Come on, Jesus, if You are the King, save yourself now.” Yet, the thief says, “Lord, when You come into Your Kingdom…”
- When there is no hope even for Jesus at the darkest hour, the thief believed in Jesus. Yet here I am. Jesus is not nailed to the Cross now. He is seated at the right hand of God our Father. When there is no hope for some problems in my life, I lose my faith in Jesus, my King.
- And the thief says, “Lord, remember me…” and when things go wrong, I cry, “Lord, why have You forgotten me?”
I have faith. But do I have the faith of the thief? I certainly don’t. And at this moment, my humble prayer is, “LORD, give me that faith. Since You are the Author and the Perfecter of faith, please give me that simple faith that thief had.”
Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.” – Luke 23:34
The first of the seven utterances of our LORD Jesus Christ, when He was on the Cross. We are told to forgive others, because Jesus forgave those who crucified Him. But, Jesus did not forgive them, He prayed for their forgiveness.
On numerous accounts, we see in the Gospels, Jesus forgiving the sins of many sinners. When the Scribes questioned His authority to forgive sins, Jesus clearly tells them that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins (Matthew 9:6). So, why didn’t He forgive the sins of those who crucified Him? Jesus could have simply said, “I forgive you, for you do not know what you do.” Instead, He prays to Father to forgive them.
There could be many reasons for this. But one of the reasons, IMHO, could be that Jesus is setting an example for what He preached in Matthew 5:44-45.
“But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven.”
In His infinite wisdom, our Lord knows that there will be certain offenses against us, that no matter how much we want to forgive those who offended us, we will not be able to. There will be certain bitterness remaining in our hearts. So, Jesus instructs us to pray for their forgiveness. As a Man, it would have been very difficult for Jesus to forgive those who were crucifying Him. So, He prays to His Father to forgive them. Yes, He is a High Priest Who understands our weaknesses.
Dear friend, there may be some who have hurt you so much, that your life has become bitter. You have tried your best to forgive them, but it is of no use. So, now is the example that the Saviour has set before us. Let us pray for them. Let us ask the Father our God to forgive them. If He forgives them, then He will surely pour His abundant grace into our hearts, that we will be able to forgive too.
But what can I say?
He has spoken to me, and He Himself has acted.
Once I was proud and bitter.
But now I will live the rest of my life free of pride.
52nd day. The last day of this rebuilding exercise I started. I can’t believe I did it. Because this is the first time I have started something and completed it. I have many notebooks at home. I would start a Bible study or something. For one week or two, it would go great. Then it would stop abruptly. Then another idea, another notebook, few more weeks, then stop. And when I was moved by the Spirit of God to start this Rebuilding the Wall in 52 days, to go back to the basics, I had postponed for it so long. Even finally when I decided to do it, I didn’t want to do it online. What if I had to abandon it as always? No “what if”… I would surely abandon, I told myself.
But the LORD asked me to trust Him and start. And, what can I say? He has spoke to me and He Himself has done this. And He will also fulfil all His promises to me in the same way. Once I was proud and bitter. Now I know it is not in me to complete even the smallest of tasks. May the LORD give grace so that I live the rest of my life free of pride. May His Name alone be glorified. Amen.