Monthly Archives: November 2016
Soldiers of Christ, arise,
And put your armour on,
Strong in the strength which God supplies
Through His eternal Son:
Stand, then, in His great might,
With all His strength endued;
But take, to arm you for the fight,
The panoply of God.
From strength to strength go on,
Wrestle, and fight, and pray,
Tread all the powers of darkness down,
And win the well-fought day.
Tomorrow, Lord, is Thine,
Lodged in Thy sovereign hand;
And if its sun arise and shine,
It shines by Thy command.
The present moment flies,
And bears our life away;
Oh, make Thy servants truly wise,
That they may live to-day.
To Jesus may we fly,
Swift as the morning light;
Lest life’s young golden beams should die,
In sudden endless night.
Our God of heaven is not like men think He is.
God is not helpless; He is almighty.
God is not frustrated; He is sovereign.
God is not subject to man’s will; man is subject to God’s will.
God is not in your hands; you are in God’s hands.
‘Our God is in the heavens; He has done whatsoever He has pleased’ (Psalm 115:3). God says, ‘I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like Me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all My pleasure … I have spoken it, I will also bring it to pass; I have purposed it, I will also do it’ (Isaiah 46:9-11). Yes, our God is an Awesome God.
– From “Grace for Today”, by Don Fortner.
One night of bitter cold and pitiless storm, a mother was out in the wilds with her child in her arms. Unable to carry her precious burden and find a shelter, she took off her own outer clothing and wrapping it about her little one she laid him in a cleft of the rock, and hastened on, hoping to find help. Next morning some shepherds heard the cry of a child, and found the babe safe and warm in the rock’s cleft. Then, not far away in the snow, they discovered the mother – dead. She had stripped off her own garments and died in the cold – to save her child.
Did not Jesus do the same? He took off His clothing and hung naked on His cross – that we may stand in the final judgment arrayed in His spotless robe of righteousness.
– From Daily Bible Readings in the Life of Christ, by James R. Miller
Could you not watch with Me one hour? – Matthew 26:40
A young lady whose parents had died while she was an infant, had been kindly cared for by a dear friend of the family. Before she was old enough to know him, he went to Europe. Regularly he wrote to her through all his years of absence, and never failed to send her money for all her wants. Finally word came that during a certain week he would return and visit her. He did not fix the day or the hour. She received several invitations to take pleasant trips with her friends during that week. One of these was of so pleasant a nature that she could not resist accepting it.
During her trip, he came, inquired as to her absence, and left. Returning she found this note: “My life has been a struggle for you, might you not have waited one week for me?” More she never heard, and her life of plenty became one of want.
Jesus has not fixed the day or hour of His return, but He has said, “Watch,” and should He come today, would He find us absorbed in thoughtless dissipation? May we be found each day, in the expectant attitude of those watching for a loved one.
– from Days of Heaven on Earth, by A. B. Simpson
“It is a singular member. God hath given man two ears; one to hear instructions of human knowledge, the other to hearken to his divine precepts. Two eyes, that with the one he might see to his own way, with the other pity and commiserate his distressed brethren. Two hands, that with the one he might work for his own living, with the other relieve his brother’s wants. Two feet, one to walk on common days to his ordinary labour, the other, on sacred days to frequent the congregation of saints. But among all, he hath given him but one tongue; which may instruct him to hear twice so much as he speaks; and to walk and work twice as much as he talks.” – Thomas Adams.
Sometime in March this year, an old friend of mine, messaged me about meeting in India and we were chatting back and forth, and all of a sudden, she asked me a singular question: “Patrick, are you really happy? I mean, really, really happy?” I felt like someone hit my forehead with a ton of bricks. As I pondered more on what I must reply. I realized I was not actually happy. I was energetic, positive and all that. But I was not happy. I was not filled with the joy of the Lord. I really felt bad about that. That despite all the promises of the Lord, I was not filled with the joy of the Lord. And then it dawned upon me that I had not been happy in a long time. Even when I went to sleep, unless I was very tired, I would be spending two or three hours, thinking about many things, sometimes praying, but most of the time, worrying. To be honest, as a Christian, I felt ashamed for not rejoicing in the Lord.
Then I became sick and was admitted to the ICU. The LORD taught me during my stay there. And recently, on this Sunday (27th November, 2016), I was asked the second question.
My daughter was visiting me and we were talking about a lot of things. Suddenly, she asked me, “Are you sad?” I did not even understand what she meant by that. She asked if I was sad about all the things that had happened in my life. Because in last one year, I had received offers from three Universities in USA, but due to financial reasons, could not accept them. Then I fell sick and literally I have no money now. I am in such an impoverished condition, I don’t have any money for Sunday offerings. And I am still recovering my sickness and am quite weak. So, she asked me if I was sad. And my answer surprised even myself. I said, “No dear, I am really happy and am filled with the joy of the Lord.” And I was not saying it for the sake of my daughter. I am really happy and satisfied.
Now, that does not make sense. In March, I had my health and some money. Yet, I was sad and had trouble sleeping. I was even prescribed sleeping pills. Now, I have nothing. Five months on, I am still recovering from my sickness. Absolutely no money left. But I am filled with the joy of the Lord. And the weird thing is, I take only 2-3 minutes to fall asleep and as my wife noticed, I am sleeping like a little baby. What happened at the ICU?
During my days at the ICU, though weakened I was, the presence of the Lord filled me. The peace I felt during those days. It was like the beloved disciple reclining on the Lord during the Last Supper. Though I was alone and was attached to so many tubes, in all those, I felt the embrace of our Lord Jesus Christ. I never felt like I was alone. In all the silence, He was communing with me; in all the darkness, He was teaching me (Matthew 10:27). HE made me understand how amazing are His ways, even in the valley of the shadow of death. Yes, I was not alone, not even for a second. My good Shepherd was and is always with me (Psalm 23:4). I have never felt such a calmness and assurance in my life, like I felt during those days.
There are times, now, I miss those silent days; when it was so dark around me. No, I am not missing the sufferings. But in the din of everyday life, it is so easy not to hear the tender voice of the Shepherd. However, now I yearn more for His presence, and His voice. And the more I hear His voice, I forget every single problem ahead of me. My heart is not filled with the worries of this life, but with the joys of His presence.
Yes, I know that by the standards of this world, I am a pauper. That I need to worry about even the vagaries of day-to-day life. But somehow, I am filled with this inexplicable joy, the joy that only the presence of the Lord can give; with peace, the peace that transcends all human understanding. And with David, I can surely say:
You have put gladness in my heart, more than in the season that their grain and wine increased.
I will both lie down in peace, and sleep; for You alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety.
– Psalm 4:7-8
Crucifixion was such a disgrace at that time, wrapped a name in such ignominy – that one who died thus was buried forever in shame. He never could be mentioned, but with thought and memory of dishonour. But Jesus, instead of being covered and borne down forever by the cross, in the black waters of reproach – lifted the cross itself to glory, until today it is the emblem of hope, of victory, of blessedness, and of joy wherever the Gospel has gone. Let no one be afraid to endure for Christ’s sake, for when the cross is taken up in His name – it becomes “an eternal weight of glory.”
“Overcome evil with good.” – Romans 12:21
From My Daily Meditations by John Henry: (as I was struggling to overcome my thoughts straying away from the Lord, this meditation helped me understand what I was doing wrong and helped me to correct my ways.)
For how else can we cast out evil? Satan cannot cast out Satan. No one can clean a room with a filthy duster. The surgeon cannot cut out the disease if his instruments are defiled. While he removed one ill-growth he would sow the seed of another. It must be health which fights disease. It will demand a good temper to overcome the bad temper in my brother.
And therefore I must cultivate a virtue if I would eradicate a vice. That applies to the state of my own soul. If there be some immoral habit in my life, the best way to destroy it is by cultivating a good one. Take the mind away from the evil one. Deprive it of thought-food. Give the thought to the nobler mood, and the ignoble mood will die. And this also applies to the faults and vices of my brother. I must fight them with their opposites. If he is harsh and cruel, I must be considerate and gentle. If he is grasping, I must be generous. If he is loud and presumptuous, I must be soft-mannered and self-restrained. If he is devilish, I must be a Christian. This is the warfare which tells upon the empire of sin. I can overcome evil with good.
Many years ago, I used to think of myself as a liberal Christian. Probably I was naive or just misunderstood the term “liberal” back then. I was told that being a “liberal” means, that you understand that others may see the same thing in a different way and it is not wrong for them to have a different opinion from the same set of facts that you have. That you understand that each of us are different in the way we perceive things and that is what makes us unique. I was initially confused that why I have to be a “liberal” Christian for that – I mean, should not that be the Christian way of living? Then I was told how “conservative” Christians try to make you fall in line with their own way of thinking.
During the same time, I made an American friend, who was a registered Republican, but he called himself a “liberal” Republican. I know that many will not agree that these two words – liberal and Republican, do not go together. But for me, he was a good friend and we used to talk about all kind of things. He even voted for the democratic candidates in two presidential elections. And he would explain patiently his reasons for doing so. It was amazing to have such a friend. Then the invasion of Iraq, under the command of President George W. Bush started.
From the beginning, I was against the war on Iraq, while my friend supported it, like most of the Americans at that time. So, we kept arguing about this all the time. When I say arguing, it was a pleasant banter, pulling our legs and laughing together at the absurdity of each one’s argument. Then one day, he got fed up with the “little Indian” always talking against the war. (Today, I know, if someone calls me a “little Indian”, it would be politically incorrect and most probably construed as a racist comment; hey, but for me, it was a friend pulling my leg and that is all. I am not a big fan of being politically correct. That comment did not hurt me, did not demean me, so I am okay with that.) So, my friend invited me to go for lunch with him and we both would present our case point by point and come to a final conclusion.
He went first and for nearly 45 minutes, explained his reasons why he believed that the war in Iraq was justified. And at the end of 45 minutes, he said, “This is it. The case is closed. No more talking on this subject. To invade Iraq is the right decision. No more listening to you.” I burst out laughing, for I know that he did not say that because he was arrogant or he was so sure of himself. I realized that he did not want to listen to me, only because he was afraid in his heart, that I may be right and that his beloved country may have taken a wrong step and he did not want to face that. I respected that and I never talked with him about the war after that. Of course, I kept pulling his leg for being afraid of the “little Indian” being right.
Then few months later, he told me that his father was in town and he was inviting some of his close friends for a lunch with his father, and I was also invited. I accepted the invitation and went to meet his father. An elderly man, who loved to smoke without a break and a hard-core Republican, was he. After the food, we were talking about various topics and it was getting late for me. As I was about to leave, the topic changed to the war on Iraq. My friend told his father that I was against the war, and hence to tread on the topic lightly not to hurt my feelings. His father was surprised and asked his son to explain the reasons why I was against the war. When my friend told that he does not know the exact reasons, his father was more surprised. He turned to me and asked, “You are against the war and yet, you have never told your friend the reasons behind that?” I smiled and told him how his son ended the conversation after his own monologue. His father went quiet for sometime. Then he said few things that impressed me.
First, he turned to his son and told him, “I am appalled that you did this. That is not the American way. You always listen to others, even if you don’t agree with them 100%.” Then he turned to me and said, “I apologize for my son’s behaviour. I hope you don’t think we Americans are all like that. Yes, we have a myopic way of seeing things. Still, the American way is to listen to what others have to say. Even if I am not going to agree with any of the things that you have to tell, I have to listen because we know that the world does not see us the way we see the world. Once again, I am sorry for my son’s behaviour.”
Of course, many people may not agree with this; and some may have had other bitter experiences. But for me, this experience is something I cherish. For me, it has become the American way. So, it is sort of hard for me to understand that the American way is slowly dying and it is dying because of the so-called “liberals” who think only they are correct and everyone else is ignorant or idiots or racist. Hopefully, the American way I know of, will come alive. May God bless America during these festival days.