Monthly Archives: August 2017
… and the rest, some on boards and some on parts of the ship. And so it was that they all escaped safely to land. – Acts 27:44 (NKJV)
As the ship faced the wrath of tempestuous head wind, Euroclydon, everyone in the ship lost their hope. It had been nearly two weeks since they saw sun or even a star, and they had no idea where they were. Amidst all those who had lost hope, Paul stood like a light shining in the dark, and declared that they all would be saved; not one man would lose his life. And he proclaimed, “I believe in God, and it shall be even as it was told me.” (Acts 27:25)
The Word came from God and it was believed by the man of God, and soon it came to fruition. Except not in the way we would describe as the majestic manner in which God delivers those who trust Him. The Bible says that some of them held on to boards and others to broken pieces from the ship and escaped.
How often in our life we have faced such circumstances? We were in a very tiring situation and the Lord gives His Word to us. That He would deliver us from evil. That He would not let us be ashamed because we put our trust in Him. That before the eyes of our enemies, He would exalt us, and show to them that He is with us and He loves us. And we are jubilant, waiting for that moment of great glory to come, where the Lord in His majesty, comes down from the Heavens, lifts us from our troubles and anoints us before our enemies.
But nothing of that sort happens. As we are waiting for the mighty arm of the Lord to appear, we see some wooden boards, some broken pieces passing by. Of course, we could take hold of them and reach land safely. But did not the Lord promise great things? Nah, these broken pieces and boards are for mere mortals. Not for the righteous who lives by faith. I will not use such mundane means to escape; no, no, I have suffered so much to escape in such a whimpering fashion. Let those broken pieces and boards pass. See the salvation of God. I wait. I wait. I am waiting. I am still waiting. I am wondering why God has not delivered me yet. Now, I am waiting, but confused. I am waiting, but my faith is shaken. A little. Okay, a lot. Now, there are doubts in my heart. Did I misunderstand what the Lord told me? Or did God lie to me? No, no, He does not lie. Have I lost something in the translation? I am wondering.
But as I wait with tired eyes, all I see are more boards and broken pieces. And a still voice telling my heart, “This is the way out. Grab it.” But I refuse. It cannot be the voice of the Almighty. It has to be the devil, trying to deceive me. I know that the Lord will deliver me in a spectacular fashion. That will shut the mouths of all my enemies. That will vindicate all my silent suffering.
Yet, all I see is more and more boards and broken pieces of wood, and that voice still telling me, “Grab it. Don’t ignore the little things that God, in His infinite wisdom, has provided you.” Now slowly, I realize that it is the Spirit of God talking to me. But, then, what about all the promises? Yes, they are still there, safe in Christ Jesus. They are “Yes” and “Amen” in my Savior and Redeemer. Then how come I have to be delivered in such a prosaic manner?
Then the Lord teaches me that lesson I must have learned long back. My faith must never feed my ego. My faith must make me humble. My faith must not fill me with pride. All those spectacular escapes I was dreaming about, those were to satisfy my ego, not for the glory of my Father. I was waiting for them, because my pride wanted such a great show for me, not for the Son of God Who loved and gave His life for me.
Oh, somewhere along being filled with faith, I have fallen prey to the oldest sin – pride. The broken pieces of ship represent what I have to be. The ship, though majestic and grand, could not take me to the land safely. But when it is broken into pieces, one of the smallest pieces is all God needs to fulfil His promise for me, and it will take me home safely.
When I am full of myself, like that ship, I may falter in reaching the destination. But when I am broken, tossed around by the wind and the waves, I know that I will reach the shore safely; and I will also help someone else to reach safely, by just hanging on to me.
Oh Lord, break me into broken pieces, so that my pride sinks in this sea. Break me, so that I can learn humility. Break me, so that You can fulfil Your promise and Your Name alone be glorified. In Jesus’s Name, I ask, Amen.
And not being weak in faith, he (Abraham) did not consider his own body, already dead (since he was about a hundred years old), and the deadness of Sarah’s womb. – Romans 4:19 (NKJV)
God visited Abraham when he was 99 years old and gave him a more pointed promise this time – that Abraham and Sarah would have a child of their own in the span of normal time of life. That is, within 10 months, they would be holding Isaac in their hands, filled with joy.
When God says this promise, we see that the first time, it was Abraham who laughed, and the next time, it was Sarah. The promise was meant for them, and the fulfilment of the promise depended on them, and yet, they both laughed because they knew the ground reality. Abraham’s body was dead as he was close to 100 years old and Sarah’s womb was also dead. But once the Lord repeats His promise, the Bible says this: Abraham did not consider.
How could he not consider? It was going to be his own seed, and his body was dead. It was going to be born out of Sarah’s womb, and her womb was also dead. Yet, Abraham chose not to consider the dead things in his life.
There are three things Abraham teaches here.
He chose not to consider. It was not like he did not know. He knew the circumstances, but he chose not consider. Often, believers who are filled with faith, who are waiting upon the promises of God, are accused of living in a dream world, not facing the realities of life.
Yes, it is true that some live in a bubble, not ready to face the realities of life. They do not want to know the harsh realities of life, they do not want to face the troubles that surround them.
But for those who faith are genuine, it is not like they do not know the realities of life; it is that they choose “not to consider” them.
He chose not to consider the “dead” things in his life. On the one side, Abraham had the Word of God, the Living Word of God – the Word that gives life; on the other side, he had his dead body and Sarah’s dead womb to consider. And he chose not to consider the dead things in his life.
For our Lord God is a Living God and He is the Author of all life. HIS Words are mighty and omnipotent; before His Words, nothing on this earth has any stopping power. When Jesus commanded, “Lazarus, come out”, neither death nor the grave had any authority or power over Lazarus. When the Lord declared, “There be light,” there was light.
So, dear friend, what are you going to consider? The living promises of our living God or the dead things in your life that are against those very promises? God’s Word has power to give life. So, do not look at the circumstances of your life. Don’t look at how “dead” the chances of the promises being fulfilled. Look only at the Word of God. Look only at the Lord.
Finally, Abraham did consider only one thing. That God Who promised is also able to do what He had promised (Romans 4:21). That was the only that mattered to Abraham. Who gave the promise? The Almighty God. Would He lie? No, He does not lie. Was He able to do what He had promised? Yes, He is able to do.
Dear friend, that must be our only consideration. Who gave this promise to you? Is it our Lord Almighty? Have you received those promises through Jesus Christ? Then those promises are “Amen” and “Yes” in Him. Has the Lord ever lied? No, He cannot lie. And is He able to do what He has promised? Yes, He is the Lord Omnipotent, and He is able to do what He has promised.
Then let us not consider those things that are dead, and consider only the Lord and His promise. And in His time, in due time, we will rejoice with our father Abraham, that our faith in the Living God and His promises through His Son and our Savior Jesus Christ, has been rewarded as He has told.
I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to Myself. – Exodus 19:4 (NKJV)
Fearing to launch on “full surrender’s” tide,
I asked the Lord where would its waters glide
My little bark, “To troubled seas I dread?”
“Unto Myself,” He said.
Weeping beside an open grave I stood,
In bitterness of soul I cried to God:
“Where leads this path of sorrow that I tread?”
“Unto Myself,” He said.
Striving for souls, I loved the work too well;
Then disappointments came; I could not tell
The reason, till He said, “I am thine all;
Unto Myself I call.”
Watching my heroes– those I loved the best–
I saw them fail; they could not stand the test,
Even by this the Lord, through tears not few,
Unto Himself me drew.
Unto Himself! No earthly tongue can tell
The bliss I find, since in His heart I dwell;
The things that charmed me once seem all as naught;
Unto Himself I’m brought.
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.