Category Archives: Personal

Faith, flesh and the Cross

Without faith, it is impossible to please God. – Hebrews 11:6

Hebrews 11_6

I was told that this is the only verse that I need to remember. No matter what my condition is, have faith. The situations may look bleak, but have faith in God. That is the only way to please God. Even if you have faltered, have faith in God – that would be pleasing to God and soon, He will deliver you from your failures. Even in sin, have faith in God. HE may hate your sin, but because you have faith in Him, He will be pleased with you and He will forgive your sins.

Initially such a preaching was very soothing for me. For, I had trouble controlling the lusts of my flesh. Whether it was pride, gluttony, lust of the flesh, arrogance,… okay, it looks like it is going to take a while to end this list, so I am just stopping here… I hope you get the picture. So, this concept of having faith in God, no matter how I live my life, was very pleasing.

Yes, I had sinned, but I have faith in God, so He is pleased with me. That was the argument. Now, looking back at this argument, it sounds so stupid that I had believed in this concept for so long. Oh, please don’t misunderstand me. I still believe that without faith, it is impossible to please God. I may lead the most upright life that a man can live, but if I lead that life without faith in the True and Living God, then I won’t be pleasing Him.

However, the Lord did not lead my life as such. There were moments, despite my faith in Him, I realized that the Lord was not pleased with me. Though my faith was very strong, instead of seeing His smiling face, I saw only the displeased frown of my Father in heaven. It made no sense to me. Yes, yes, I am that naive, trust me. Then the Spirit of the Lord moved me to read this verse.

Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. – Romans 8:8

Romans 8_8

Oops… so, I must have faith, but that faith must manifest in the way I live my life in the flesh. Okay, somewhere I missed it in the translation. So, how did I miss this verse for so long? Two mistakes. One, when I read my Bible, I had already filled my mind that, as long as I have faith, I will be pleasing to God. So, when I read that if I am living by flesh, I cannot please God, it never occurred to me, that it is meant for me. Second, I attended a church where the pastor talked for nearly an year about living a life that is pleasing to God. But he would never mention such verses. And for that one year, he never even mentioned the word “faith” in his sermons. It has been always, “Do you honour the Day of God? Do you give your tithes and offering? Do you honour the servants of God? Unless you do these things, God will not be pleased with you.” Now, I get all those three right, so… you see.

But at the end, all these were excuses and excuses. For I was the loser in all these things. Now, I have faith that is pleasing to God, but by the same faith, I also slay the deeds of my flesh. I belong to Christ and hence by faith, I have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires (Galatians 5:24). Oh, may the Spirit of God lead me in all truth. In Jesus’s Name, Amen.

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The love of God endures forever

Few days back, I had to endure some severe pain in my body. No medication, no pain killer, nothing worked. I was in tears because of the intensity of the pain. My entire family did not know how to deal with the situation. Though some suggested that I should be admitted to the hospital right away, I was in no condition to travel.

In such a severe pain, I wanted to divert my mind and opened my email, and there was this email I receive daily from gracegems.org, with the title, “HE cannot love you more – and He will not love you less.” As soon as I saw the heading, to be honest, my mind thought that it is going to be a devotional, where it says, God loves you so much and He would deliver you from this affliction… apparently, my mind has become so tuned to this century Christian teaching. But it was a devotional from Spurgeon and it was exactly opposite to what I thought… and it brought tears into my eyes… tears of joy and tears of love. And I surrendered myself, with all the pain and affliction, to the love of God and soon, the pain became tolerable. This is the devotional.

He cannot love you more–and He will not love you less! – Charles Spurgeon

“Having loved His own who were in the world–He loved them to the very end!” – John 13:1

Christian, God’s love to you is always the same. He cannot love you more–and He will not love you less!

Never, when afflictions multiply, when terrors frighten you or when your distresses abound–does God’s love falter or flag. Let the rod fall ever so heavily upon you–the hand that moves, like the heart that prompts the stroke, is full of love! Judge not the Lord by feeble sense–but trust Him for His grace. Whether He brings you down into the depths of misery, or lifts you up into the seventh Heaven of delight–His faithful love never varies or fluctuates–it is everlasting in its continuity!

“His faithful love endures forever!” – Psalm 136:1

“I have loved you, My people, with an everlasting love!” – Jeremiah 31:3

“The faithful love of the Lord never ends!” – Lamentations 3:22

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Unto the end!

Recently I had a chance to visit a fellow Christian who has been suffering from certain physical ailments for the last 10 months. He has been under tremendous discomfort and, occasionally, in severe pain. Though there were times it looked like he was recuperating well, his health relapsed quite a few times. After being pummelled repeatedly by sickness, he has become very weak now. When I met him, it was one of the bad days as he was suffering from intense pain.

We all started to pray for him and it was a potpourri of prayers. Few of them were commanding the demonic powers to leave right now; some were commanding that, by faith, his pain has gone away at this very second. And then a third group was pleading to God with tears, that he has suffered enough and he cannot take anymore; so the LORD must have mercy on him and deliver him at this minute.

Did you notice one common thing in all these prayers? Instant deliverance. Right now. This second. This minute. Guess the instant-noodles mentality has pervaded the Christians more than they know.

Anyway, as the prayers were continuing, this believer was shaking his head vehemently and everyone assumed that he was doing so in pain. So, the volume of prayers increased and the intensity of commands multiplied. As I was watching this, I realized that he was trying to say something. It took a while to calm everyone a little and asked him what he wanted to say to us. And what he said sort of shocked all of us.

He said, “No, don’t pray that my sufferings end right now. Instead pray that I may be tried unto the end.” Realizing that he was quoting Job 34:36, I asked him the reason. And he told that the Lord has told him that He has chosen him for a specific purpose and that he needs to go through the furnace of affliction, so that after the testing, he can come out like gold. (Job23:10) He told that through all these sufferings, he has learned so much about the grace and love of God; that certain evil things were hidden deep inside his heart were flushed out; and, he wants to be tried unto the end so that the purpose of God be accomplished in his life. And he was saying all these with tears running down as the pain was quite intense.

But what surprise me the most was when we started to pray, those who were praying so intensely had trouble praying. They are so used to pray for instant deliverance, commanding the demons and other evil forces to go away, they actually had no idea how to pray for the will of God be done in someone’s life. For them, suffering and afflictions can never be the will of God. I mean, these are not believers who are prosperous and affluent. Yet, it is so deeply ingrained in their minds that it cannot be the will of God for Christians to endure sufferings. Looks like the cross has been eliminated from Christian living.

Anyway, if you are a Christian, please pray to our LORD, that His will be done in the life of this believer and may the grace of our LORD sustain him, so that he may be tried unto the end, and may the purpose of God be accomplished in his life. Amen.

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23 years on…

It was on this day, February 6th, 23 years back, I received my baptism. I still remember my walk from the Prayer Centre to my college. After 3 days fast, all my friends were exhausted and they took the bus, but I could not control my joy. So, I walked the entire way, a nearly 10 km path, and all the way, I was singing and jumping. I was sure that my sinful life had gone and that I would not be committing anymore sins my life. Little did I know what indwelling sin means in the life of a believer.

For many years, I was told by “experts” that the chapter 7 of the Epistle to Romans was about what kind of life Paul lived before his baptism and it does not apply to a Christian anymore. But over the years, when I realized that there were sins lying dormant in my life, I had to struggle with my salvation. There were times I was shocked to see what kind of sins were indwelling in me, sins I had abhorred, sins that I had condemned from time to time… When I was a kid, I was known for one thing. That I would not tell a lie, no matter what. But after baptism, I had become an expert in lying, at times those who were with me, who knew I was lying, would be confused if I was telling the truth. This is just a tip of the iceberg.

Now, when I turn back and look at these 23 years, all I can see are the years that I had wasted, the ways in which I have hurt my Lord again and again, the compromises I had made with this world and, how I gave in to the lusts of flesh, lusts of eyes and the pride of life. Instead of being filled with joy today, I am filled with remorse.

And what adds to my sorrow is how faithful the Lord has been to me in all these years. There were so many times when I ended up being depressed and decided to kill myself. Suicidal thoughts had become a part of in between for few years. There were certain failures in my life that were so devastating and humiliating, that even after so many years, I am struggling to come to terms with those failures. Yet, through all those times, the LORD was with me and helped me. And those were the years when my life was not even pleasing to myself. I was not the prodigal son during that time, I was the pig in the pigsty. Yet the Lord showered so much compassion and was long-suffering.

As I was getting ready for my baptism, I had one problem. From childhood, I was raised a Catholic and had not been to any other churches or denominations. And where I was studying at that time, they were fiercely supportive of their Catholic beliefs and many of friends even stopped talking with me, when they realized I was going to get baptism in the Lord. I had no one to turn to for any spiritual advices. So, I went on my knees and asked the LORD for help and He promised me that “He will never leave me, nor forsake me.” (Joshua 1:5)

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And 23 years later, as I turn back, with a broken heart and deep sense of unworthiness, I can tell that the Lord has kept His promise till this very moment. Though I tried my best, or worst, to leave Him, that He would hate me and forsake me, the Lord remembered the covenant He had made with me in the wilderness, and till today, even in His discipline, I can see only the loving hand of God, my Father; in the eyes of Jesus Christ, His Son and my Saviour, I see only compassion and grace. Oh, unworthy I am, Lord, unworthy… yet You are faithful and loving!

What can I say, LORD? Time and again, I have failed You. Even now, I am scared that I would fall again and would disappoint You… all I can say truly is, Lord, with all my shortcomings and faults, along with Your apostle Peter, “Lord, You know all things and You know that I love You.” (John 21:17). Yes, Lord, that is all I can truly say to You. I love You, Lord, I love You.

The Ragi Flour Cake Mentality

Today we were eating a black cake, which was delicious. As we were making slices, one of the believers was there, so we gave her a slice too. She really enjoyed it and quite innocently, she asked us: “Is this cake made of Ragi flour?”

Cake

We ended up laughing so hard, she was quite embarrassed. Then I explained to her, that when she does not know what something is, she should just ask what it is, instead of trying to associate with something she knows. I don’t know if she understood what I meant.

But it made me thinking. She is quite uneducated and all she knew was the pulses that are typical Indian. So, when she ate something that looked black, she assumed it to be made of Ragi flour. While it was funny, I also realized something.

I am reading the Book of Job now and as I am reading, I saw many verses there, which have arguments defending God Almighty. And, I had used the same kind of arguments in the past to defend God, and in one case, I had used literally the same words. But the sad thing is all those verses were used by the friends of Job, who ended up accusing him of being wicked and then being reprimanded by our Lord.

By the grace of God, I don’t use such arguments anymore. But I realized that I too had a Ragi-flour-cake mentality. I did not know how great our Lord is; I had not understood how vast His love is for us; and, I had no inkling of what grace really meant. Whatever I knew little, whatever I had known from my little experiences, I had tried to defend the Lord. And now, I am ashamed how shallow I had been.

Lord, forgive me for all those instances where I tried to defend You with my “ragi-flour-mentality.” Instead of letting Your Son and His great sacrifice at Calvary take the centre stage, I let my little understanding and knowledge to explain Your ways. I deeply regret those who were hurt by me. May Jesus, Him crucified, be all in all in my conversations. May Your grace and mercy guide me in all my conversations. May Your Name alone be magnified. In Jesus’s Name, Amen.

The LORD Who is Compassionate

Many years ago, as I was leading the worship in our church, there is this elderly believer who would make me very angry. She would be on her knees, with her hands clasped together and head bowed down… except she would be sleeping. Even when the believers are asked to stand and praise the Lord, somehow she would manage to fall asleep standing. Never once, I had seen her lose balance and falling over. To be honest, I wish I could do that.

When I spoke about her to other believers, everyone pounced upon this chance to condemn her. Apparently, everyone knew about her sleeping problem, and for some reason, some of the believers who were sitting next to her, blamed her for all their unanswered prayers. She was even blamed for the stagnancy of church growth – how would God answer our prayers when she is sleeping through the entire service? Some even compared her to the wayside land in the Parable of the Sower. While I did not share in such sentiments, I could understand the resentment of the believers.

One Sunday, I was leading the worship and saw her asleep yet again. I was so angry, I shut my eyes and kept leading the worship, and asked the Lord about her and other believers. I was expecting a pat on my shoulders for my zeal towards the Lord. Instead, the Spirit of God moved gently in my soul and asked me to open my eyes and take a look at her and other believers. Nothing had changed. Now the Lord asked me to look at them, the way He is looking at them. And I could not understand what that meant.

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Then the Lord explained me, right there during the worship: all those who were sleepy or not worshipping happily are women. Women, who work for 6 days a week. They get up at 5 am, so that they can prepare everything for their family. Then they go to work and come back. Most of the time, they eat only one meal a day. And when they come back, they cannot take rest, as they have to get the food ready for their children, wash the clothes and clean their homes. No one would do that for them. The Lord asked: Whenever Jesus saw such a crowd, He was moved with compassion. Even now, He is compassionate towards them. Are you going to be angry at them?

Now, I am not very amenable. Yet, at the moment, the Spirit of the Lord broke my resolute nature and for the first time, I had compassion towards them. Slowly things changed. Honestly I don’t remember when she stopped sleeping during the worship service, but now just looking at her face, listening eagerly to the spoken word, praising the Lord with a smile on her face… it is such a blessing. Not just for me, everyone is talking about her child-like faith and her eagerness in listening to the Word of God. Once everyone wanted to throw her out; now she is being shown as an example to every new believer. Oh, how compassionate our Lord is! Why am I talking about this elderly believer? God willing, I will write, in another blog, more about two things that the Lord had done in her life, and may His Name alone be praised. Amen.

Whose fault is it?

On November 8th, 2016, we had a praise and worship service at our church. After finishing it, as we entered our home, there was a phone call from one of believers, asking us to check the breaking news of the day. On turning TV, we found that the prime minister of India had made the leading currencies of the Indian economy were invalid from midnight. While many people thought that it was a bold move, I was convinced in my spirit that it was a foolish move which would make many innocent people suffer.

But there are times where we know we are right, but wish we are not. The innocent people are not just suffering, there are many people who died; some because they lost all hopes and committed suicide and others, because they suffered cardiac arrest.

Recently, there was a news about a farmer whose crops were hit hard by drought and he needed some money to save the crops. He went to the bank to mortgage some family jewels, but the bank told him that they did not have enough currency to give him as there is a shortage of the new currency. They asked him to come the next day and, with hope, the farmer came to the bank next day. But the situation had not changed, the bank still did not have any currency notes to give him. He suffered a massive cardiac arrest and died right there inside the bank. His family is struggling now, not knowing what to do.whose-fault

On Wednesday, we were praying in our church and the prayer leader mentioned this incident and asked us: whose fault is it? Some believers said, it was the prime minister’s and others said, it was the Reserve Bank of India (RBI)’s fault. As I started to pray for all those innocent people, suddenly the Spirit of God moved my heart and asked me the same question: whose fault is it? When I tried to blame the prime minister and the RBI, the Holy Spirit kept asking me that question again and again… till I was broken and realized that it was my fault.

Yes, it was my fault. It is my fault.

I am a Christian. I have a duty to pray for my country. I have a duty to pray for my fellow citizens. I may not agree with what they are doing; I may dislike the rulers of the country. But I am a Christian. Above everything else, I have tasted the love of God for the fallen mankind.

Though I knew that this demonetization move would bring sufferings to innocent people, I failed to pray for them. I failed to bend my knees, bow down before the Almighty God to seek His intervention. I failed to humble myself before the Lord Jesus Christ and with humility, seek His mercy towards my country. Yes, it is my fault.

Oh Lord our Father in heaven, please forgive me for this sin. Through Your Son Jesus Christ, I seek Your forgiveness for failing to do my duty. Please wash away this guilty conscience and may Your Spirit enable me to come into Your holy presence, to plead for those who are suffering. In Jesus’s Name, I ask. Amen.

God is here!–a poem

In “pastures green”? Not always; sometimes He
Who knowest best, in kindness leadeth me
In weary ways, where heavy shadows be.
So, whether on the hill-tops high and fair
I dwell, or in the sunless valleys, where
The shadows lie, what matter? He is there.

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The losses and the one gain

2016. It was a tough year for me personally. For the entire year, I had no income at all. All my hopes of going abroad for my studies vaporized before my very eyes and to add to that, I had a near fatal experience. The sickness started sometime in April and I was still struggling with the effects and weaknesses even after 7 months. It was a debilitating year for me. In a sense, I only saw losses in 2016. Yet, there was something unsettling as I was approaching the end of the year.

Every year, I would be looking at the losses I had suffered and the things I had gained; and as the last week of the year approaches, I would be looking forward for that year to end, hoping that the dawn of new year would change everything. And in my heart, there would be always a sense of disappointment over that year. Hopes that vanished in thin air, the promises that were not fulfilled and the wasted opportunities – all these would weigh my heart. And when I lead the year-end worship service, I would be happy for two reasons – that the year is over and the coming year would be a blessing. It has been a long time since I was happy for the year that passed by.

But this year, it was very different. 2016 had to be worst year I had ever faced. In everything, I suffered loss. Yet, when I entered the last days of 2016, there was a divine serenity in my mind. And I was sad that 2016 was coming to an end. And when I led the congregation in worship on December 31st, I realized that I was very happy for the year 2016 – not that it is ending… but that I was very blessed during 2016. When I thanked the Lord with the congregation for 2016, there was a sense of gratitude that I had never felt before in life. Because, in all my losses, I have gained that one thing that mattered – being at the feet of Jesus and knowing Him.

Compared with the previous years, my Bible reading was less in 2016 as I was sick for nearly 4 months and due to an over-enthusiastic medical student, my eye sight was also affected for nearly 3 months. Yet, the Lord spoke to me through those verses I had known before; He spoke in whispers, through songs and through His prophets. In 2016, He made me realize how vile I had been; I was mortified to realize how at the very source, my heart itself was so depraved. The Lord made me realize that the grace He has showed me all these years is more amazing than I could ever fathom. Even at this very moment, if He withdraws His grace, even for a second, my heart would be in a free fall.

And, the Lord has made me realize how great He is. Though I am writing about certain things about my sickness, there is no way, yet, for me to write about my sufferings without breaking down. The suffering was so great. But in midst of all those sufferings, the comfort that the Lord provided me was also infinitely greater. And His deliverances were so simple and gentle, it felt as if I was in a dream – just like Peter felt when he walked out of the prison in Jerusalem.

Most importantly, the Lord made me realize that there is a greater purpose in life… not just for me, but for every single Christian who is saved by the sacrificial blood of the Lamb. In 2016, the Lord made me to know Christ, Him crucified in every believer.

Oh my Father in heaven, I am so grateful for the year 2016. I had lost so many things, but I am filled with joy because I gained the knowledge of Your Son and my Saviour Jesus Christ. May this 2017 bring me closer to Him, so that I know Him, and through Him, know You, my dear Father. In Christ’s name. Amen.

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If Jesus had not come…

“There’s a song in the air!
There’s a star in the sky!
There’s a mother’s deep prayer,
And a baby’s low cry!
And the star rains its fire
While the beautiful sing,
For the manger of Bethlehem cradles a King.”

Merry Christmas

A few years ago a striking Christmas card was published, with the title, “If Christ had not come.” It was founded upon our Saviour’s words, “If I had not come.” The card represented a clergyman falling into a short sleep in his study on Christmas morning and dreaming of a world into which Jesus had never come.

In his dream he found himself looking through his home, but there were no little stockings in the chimney corner, no Christmas bells or wreaths of holly, and no Christ to comfort, gladden and save. He walked out on the public street, but there was no church with its spire pointing to Heaven. He came back and sat down in his library, but every book about the Saviour had disappeared.

A ring at the door-bell, and a messenger asked him to visit a poor dying mother. He hastened with, the weeping child and as he reached the home he sat down and said, “I have something here that will comfort you.” He opened his Bible to look for a familiar promise, but it ended at Malachi, and there was no gospel and no promise of hope and salvation, and he could only bow his head and weep with her in bitter despair.

Two days afterward he stood beside her coffin and conducted the funeral service, but there was no message of consolation, no word of a glorious resurrection, no open Heaven, but only “dust to dust, ashes to ashes,” and one long eternal farewell. He realized at length that “He had not come,” and burst into tears and bitter weeping in his sorrowful dream.

Suddenly he woke with a start, and a great shout of joy and praise burst from his lips as he heard his choir singing in his church close by:

“O come, all ye faithful, joyful and triumphant,
O come ye, O come ye to Bethlehem;
Come and behold Him, born the King of Angels,
O come let us adore Him, Christ, the Lord.”

Let us be glad and rejoice today, because “He has come.” And let us remember the annunciation of the angel, “Behold I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people, for unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2:10-11).

“He comes to make His blessing flow,
Far as the curse is found.”

May our hearts go out to the people in heathen lands who have no blessed Christmas day. “Go your way, eat the fat, drink the sweet, and send portions to them for whom nothing is prepared.” (Nehemiah 8:10).

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