Let the Teacher choose the School – The Prison

You call Me Teacher and Lord, and you say well, for so I AM. – John 13:13 (NKJV)

Joseph was called for greater things. Even as a child, he had two dreams that told everyone, including his jealous brothers and his over-protective father, that he was destined for great things. Yet, there was one small problem. For all the glory and honor the Patriarchs possessed, they – Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, were tent-dwellers, sojourners passing through the Promised Land. They still were not city dwellers; naturally, any little inclination they would have had, would have vaporised with Sodom and Gomorrah, and with what happened to the progeny of Lot.

But the plan that the Lord had for Joseph included him being a city dweller, to live in a mansion, and take care of various chores. How many times it has happened with us? We have received great promises, but we have no idea about the demands that have to be met before those promises are fulfilled. So, the Lord took Joseph away from the protective hands of his father, from the safety of his tents in Canaan. Though he was sold as a slave, he was bought by Potiphar, the chief officer of Pharaoh, and the commander of the royal guard (Genesis 39:1).

There Joseph learned, though as a slave, what it meant to live in a mansion, working with so many others, and slowly being in charge of all of them. This was his calling, and again, I would have thought his education was complete and when the time was right, God would fulfil His promises to Joseph. Yet again, how little I know of God’s way of teaching!

Just like David, who had the basic training needed in the palaces of Saul and the battle fields of Israel, Joseph had his basic training in the mansion of Potiphar. But as it was with David, there was more training needed, for Joseph to become the refined gold that the Lord had in His mind. And like David, in one day, Joseph was taken out of the comforts of Potiphar’s mansion, and was thrown into the confines of a prison. And the most intense training that he needed, started there.

The Bible tells that the Word of the Lord refined him (Psalm 105:19) right there. Just like David became a shining diamond in the wilderness of Judah, Joseph became refined gold in the prisons of Egypt. As someone pointed out: If Joseph had not been Egypt’s prisoner, he would never have been Egypt’s governor; the iron chain about his feet ushered in the golden chain about his neck.

Dear friend, are you wondering why God has suddenly put you in a prison? Why are you confined to four walls, when you have all the basic training needed? Because the Lord needs you to be refined by His Word. For His plans are greater for you than you imagine. So, let His Word refine us when we are inside the prison walls. So, when we come out, may everyone be astonished as how pure we have become. Amen. Glory to be our God and to His Son Jesus Christ, and may His grace be upon us.

Psalm 105_19

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Where are You, God, in my trouble?

No matter how many times, my heart tells me not to feel, but believe in God, there are times in my life, when distressed all around, when troubles seem to engulf me, when the darkness seems to lost forever, when even my bones are in pain due to severe afflictions, my soul cries out as my eyes are looking at the heavens for a sign: But, where are You, God, in my trouble?

Every time, absolute silence comes as an answer from the heavens. Never knew that silence could break your heart so well. But it always leaves me confused. I used to remember those days, when I had been saved. Whenever I looked at the heavens, I always received an answer, a sign. Not anymore. Has the Lord changed? No, that can’t be. The LORD is immutable; Jesus Christ is the Same yesterday, today and forever. So, why am I not getting the answers and the signs I received when I came into His fold many years back?

The more I cried out to the heavens, asking where the Lord is in my trouble, more deafening the silence became. But, I also noticed that despite not knowing where the Lord is during my troubles, I am being delivered as He has promised. It tells me the Lord is near… but how near, it left me wondered, till one day the Lord gave me an answer through the Scriptures.

I will be with him in trouble. – Psalm 91:15 (NKJV)

Suddenly it all made sense. I understood why the heaven was silent when I was crying out. I understood that why, despite all the silence, I did not fall into unbelief. The LORD loves me so much, when I am in trouble, He is with me in my troubles. YHWH Shammah is with me when I am in trouble. Yes, the Lord Jesus Christ is my Immanuel, God with us. In trouble, now my eyes are not turning towards the heaven, and crying out in a disheartened voice, “Where are You, God?” Instead, when troubles surround me, I look at them and say with confidence: “The Lord is with me in my trouble; not only will He deliver me, but in grace, He will also honor me.”

Yes, dear friend, in your trouble, the Lord is with you. Cheer up. Be still. HE will deliver you and He will surely honor you. Amen. God bless us all.

Psalm 91_15

Being enlarged when in distress

“Thou hast enlarged me when I was in distress” (Psalm 4:1, KJV).

This is one of the grandest testimonies ever given by man to the moral government of God. It is not a man’s thanksgiving that he has been set free from suffering. It is a thanksgiving that he has been set free through suffering: “Thou hast enlarged me when I was in distress.” He declares the sorrows of life to have been themselves the source of life’s enlargement.

And have not you and I a thousand times felt this to be true? It is written of Joseph in the dungeon that “the iron entered into his soul.” We all feel that what Joseph needed for his soul was just the iron. He had seen only the glitter of the gold. He had been rejoicing in youthful dreams; and dreaming hardens the heart. He who sheds tears over a romance will not be most apt to help reality; real sorrow will be too unpoetic for him. We need the iron to enlarge our nature. The gold is but a vision; the iron is an experience. The chain which unites me to humanity must be an iron chain. That touch of nature which makes the world akin is not joy, but sorrow; gold is partial, but iron is universal.

My soul, if thou wouldst be enlarged into human sympathy, thou must be narrowed into limits of human suffering. Joseph’s dungeon is the road to Joseph’s throne. Thou canst not lift the iron load of thy brother if the iron hath not entered into thee. It is thy limit that is thine enlargement. It is the shadows of thy life that are the real fulfillment of thy dreams of glory. Murmur not at the shadows; they are better revelations than thy dreams. Say not that the shades of the prison-house have fettered thee; thy fetters are wings– wings of flight into the bosom of humanity. The door of thy prison-house is a door into the heart of the universe. God has enlarged thee by the binding of sorrow’s chain.
– George Matheson

Psalm 4_1

In Jesus

Not always OUT of our troublous times,
And the struggles fierce and grim,
But IN– deeper IN– to our one sure rest,
The place of our peace, in Him.
— Annie Johnson Flint

Not difficulties, but opportunities

“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1).

Psalm 46_1

The question often comes, “Why didn’t He help me sooner?” It is not His order. He must first adjust you to the trouble and cause you to learn your lesson from it. His promise is, “I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him and honor him.” He must be with you in the trouble first all day and all night. Then He will take you out of it. This will not come till you have stopped being restless and fretful about it and become calm and quiet. Then He will say, “It is enough.”

God uses trouble to teach His children precious lessons. They are intended to educate us. When their good work is done, a glorious recompense will come to us through them. There is a sweet joy and a real value in them. He does not regard them as difficulties but as opportunities.

Trials

Let the Teacher choose the School – The Wilderness

You call Me Teacher and Lord, and you say well, for so I AM. – John 13:13 (NKJV)

Our Lord Jesus Christ is the best Teacher we can ever have. Learning from Jesus is probably the easiest thing to do, as He is gentle and lowly in heart. Learning from Him will find rest for our souls (Matthew 11:28). Yet, we often see us not learning the lessons the easy way; we find His yoke to be difficult and His burden heavy – too much to bear. Why? The reason is, often because, we don’t let the Teacher and the Lord to choose the School where we are to be taught.

Let us go and make a checklist of things needed to be taught for a shepherd boy to be a king. David was anointed to be the next king of Israel. He did possess the qualities to be the king, because when the first time, one of the servants talked about him to king Saul, he said that David was skillful in playing, a mighty man of valor, a man of war, prudent in speech, and a handsome person, and the Lord was with him (1 Samuel 16:19). When we realize that this assessment was made before David slayed Goliath; before he became the armorbearer for Saul. But he was raw. He needed to be polished. He was a raw diamond. So, where would he polished? Our expertise would say in the palace of a king and in the battlefield.

Yes, he was in the palace of a king; he slayed Goliath; he led the Israelite armies to many great victories; he married the princess; he became best friends with the prince Jonathan; he had become the son-in-law of the king himself. He was learning everything he had to. And I would have thought when Saul’s time was gone, David was ready to become the king. But, alas, how little I know the School where our Lord teaches.

No, dear friends, it was not in the comfort of the palace, or in the forefront of deadly battles, did David learn the lessons he needed the most; his diamond did not shine yet. It was cut, but not yet polished. For that, David had to follow his Teacher into one place, where we would not have expected one of the greatest kings of history to be schooled – the wilderness of Judah.

The course was as tough as it could come. But the lessons he learned there were the very best, which he could not have learned from the confines of a palace. A battle field would have tested and proved his courage, but the wilderness of Judah made him tender-hearted when two hundred of his men became weary – the same men who were ready to stone him to death just hours before (1 Samuel 30). The lessons from the wilderness made him magnanimous, as he sent the spoils from the Amalekites to those who helped him, saying “Here is a present for you from the spoil of the enemies of the Lord” (1 Samuel 30:26). From a raw-cut diamond, he became the best diamond in the world, so that the Teacher Himself was, one day, called as the “Son of David.”

Dear friend, the wilderness we are in, is not a banishment, but is the best form of school we could ever attend. The wilderness may feel very lonely, but our Teacher is with us every step of the way, strengthening us in Him (1 Samuel 30:6). Every thing that breaks us in not meant to kill us, but to become the best vessels to carry the grace and love of the Lord to the world. Every lesson that we are learning is not pushing us away from the Lord God, but to rest on His bosom as John did. Yes, you may not know who you are, but if you are in the wilderness of Judah, your Creator knows that you are a raw-cut diamond, and He has chosen you to become a priceless diamond, that shines amidst the darkness of this world. Yes, dear friend, don’t sulk at the School you are in right now. Let the Teacher decide the School that you need to. Amen. May God bless us all.

John 13_13

Job’s Wife – Like a foolish woman

1. Job’s Wife – Introduction

2. Job’s Wife – Balaam’s Wise Utterance

3. Job’s Wife – The LORD Understands Depression

4. Job’s Wife – The Silent Sufferer

5. Job’s Wife – Her Broken Heart

6. Job’s Wife – To Bless or To Curse

7. Job’s Wife – Blessing While Sinning

8. Job’s Wife – Satanic Sarcasm

9. Job’s Wife – Bless God and die!

“You are talking like a foolish woman. Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?”
– Job 2:10 (NIV)

In the last blog about Job’s wife, I explained how Job’s wife did not ask Job to curse God and commit suicide; instead, she actually wanted Job to thank God for all the good things He had given them in their life and to prepare for death. However, that explanation has one last hurdle to cross – that would be Job’s response to his wife. “You are talking like a foolish woman. Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?” How could Job respond like this, if his wife was not asking him to curse God and kill himself?

Let us note that Job did not say that she was a foolish woman; instead says that she was talking like a foolish woman. So, she was apparently virtuous, but the recent happenings in their life made her talk like a foolish woman. But if she said, “Bless God and die!”, how could that be foolish?

Let me explain it from what I have undergone in the last 16 months, since I have become sick. There are times, I have praised the Lord and thanked Him for all the good things He has done for me, for all the sins He has forgiven, and for all the trials He has allowed in my life, and have asked God earnestly to take me away. If I turn back today and see those moments, two things are very noticeable. The first one is: those were the moments of weaknesses, not of strength. Second is: I have uttered those prayers only if either I had lost hope on all the promises of God and/or if I was unable to bear the excruciating pain I was undergoing. So, if you look carefully, I blessed God and prepared for my death, only when I was feeling weak. Whatever the reasons are, when I blessed God and prepared to die, it was not the right thing to do, but a very foolish thing to do. I did it, because either I had no hope or no strength left in me. I did not look at the Lord for hope or for strength.

So, when Job’s wife asked him to bless God and die, she was not saying it because of a grateful heart; nor because she knew her husband’s time was up. She said so, because she did not have any hope of Job being delivered from his disease, and/or, she wanted Job’s suffering to end.

Note that when she lost all her children and her fortune in one single day, she did not say so. Because she still had Job. She still had her upright, noble, blameless man, who held fast to his integrity, and was appreciated by the Lord Himself. There was a chance for Job to earn everything he had lost; there was a chance that they could bear more children together. But when he started suffering and his entire body was covered with boils, the scintilla of hope she had had vanished. She could not see any more good thing happening – ever again, in their life. So, she wanted Job’s pain to end sooner than later. She was looking all this from the world’s point of view – hence it was foolish.

Job’s answer explains her point of view more clearly. They were getting so many good things from God. They had ten children, they had money, a reputation to die for, and they were very prosperous. But did she ever feel that this was the zenith of their prosperity, that from the next day onwards, it would be downhill, so they must bless God and die? No, she never felt that way. Most of us never will. When we get blessing upon blessing from God, when we are prosperous by His grace, we would never think of blessing God and preparing for our death. Even when we know that we have received all the good things we were hoping to get from the Lord, we would not ask for that. Because there is always a hope that our tomorrow may be better than today.

But when things go downhill, when our afflictions seem to continue longer than we expected, when the pain becomes unbearable, we lose hope that tomorrow may be better than today. Instead, we have no hope left for a better tomorrow.

If we really believe that the Lord we serve is God Almighty, that everything that happens to us comes only with His explicit permission, that whatever happens, happens for the good of us, then even in the darkest of times, we will find hope; like David did at Ziklag. That was why David proclaimed that he would have lost heart, if he had not believed that he would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of living (Psalm 27:13). As the Scriptures point out that anyone who is among the living has hope, for a living dog is better than a dead lion (Ecclesiastes 9:4).

Ecclesiastes 9_4

Job’s response could be paraphrased like this: we received good from God, hoping that tomorrow He would bless us more. So, why are we not receiving the evil from God, with the same attitude; that tomorrow, He may send blessings on our way? And as long as I live, there is hope that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. But if I die, then there is no hope left. So, don’t talk like a foolish woman.

Yes, dear friend in Christ, as long as we are alive, there is always a hope that our God will deliver us from evil. Let us not yield to the circumstances that are fleeting and talk foolishly against the Spoken Word of God, which does not change. Yes, Jesus Christ does not change. HE is the Same yesterday, today, tomorrow, forever and ever. May the LORD God bless us. And I thank our Lord for helping me to conclude this small series on Job’s wife. Thank you for joining me. I hope it has been a blessing for you too. Praise be to His Name alone. Amen.

Psalm 27_13

Choosing not to choose

“And Patience was willing to wait.” – Pilgrim’s Progress

I longed to walk along an easy road,
And leave behind the dull routine of home,
Thinking in other fields to serve my God;
But Jesus said, “My time has not yet come.”

I longed to sow the seed in other soil,
To be unfettered in the work, and free,
To join with other laborers in their toil;
But Jesus said, “ ‘tis not My choice for thee.”

I longed to leave the desert, and be led
To work where souls were sunk in sin and shame,
That I might win them; but the Master said,
“I have not called thee, publish here My name.”

I longed to fight the battles of my King,
Lift high His standards in the thickest strife;
But my great Captain bade me wait and sing
Songs of His conquests in my quiet life.

I longed to leave the uncongenial sphere,
Where all alone I seemed to stand and wait,
To feel I had some human helper near,
But Jesus bade me guard one lonely gate.

I longed to leave the round of daily toil,
Where no one seemed to understand or care;
But Jesus said, “I choose for thee this soil,
That thou might’st raise for Me some blossoms rare.”

And now I have no longing but to do
At home, or else afar, His blessed will,
To work amid the many or the few;
Thus, “choosing not to choose,” my heart is still.

– Selected

Waiting for God

“Blessed are all they that wait for Him” (Isaiah 30:18).

We hear a great deal about waiting on God. There is, however, another side. When we wait on God, He is waiting till we are ready; when we wait for God, we are waiting till He is ready.

There are some people who say, and many more who believe, that as soon as we meet all the conditions, God will answer our prayers. They say that God lives in an eternal now; with Him there is no past nor future; and that if we could fulfill all that He requires in the way of obedience to His will, immediately our needs would be supplied, our desires fulfilled, our prayers answered.

There is much truth in this belief, and yet it expresses only one side of the truth. While God lives in an eternal now, yet He works out His purposes in time. A petition presented before God is like a seed dropped in the ground. Forces above and beyond our control must work upon it, till the true fruition of the answer is given.– The Still Small Voice

Let the walls of Jericho fall down by faith!

“And when you hear the sound of the trumpet, all the people shall shout with a great shout; and the wall of the city shall fall down flat, and the people shall ascend up every man straight before him” (Joshua 6:5).

The shout of steadfast faith is in direct contrast to the moans of wavering faith, and to the wails of discouraged hearts. Among the many “secrets of the Lord,” I do not know of any that is more valuable than the secret of this shout of faith. The Lord said to Joshua, “See, I have given into thine hand Jericho, and the king thereof, and the mighty men of valour.” He did not say, “I will give,” but “I have given.” It belonged to them already; and now they were called to take possession of it. But the great question was, How? It looked impossible, but the Lord declared His plan.

Now, no one can suppose for a moment that this shout caused the walls to fall. And yet the secret of their victory lay in just this shout, for it was the shout of a faith which dared, on the authority of God’s Word alone, to claim a promised victory, while as yet there were no signs of this victory being accomplished. And according to their faith God did unto them; so that, when they shouted, He made the walls to fall.

God had declared that He had given them the city, and faith reckoned this to be true. And long centuries afterwards the Holy Spirit recorded this triumph of faith in Hebrews:

“By faith the walls of Jericho fell down, after they were compassed about seven days.” – Hebrews 11:30
— Hannah Whitall Smith.

“Faith can never reach its consummation,
Till the victor’s thankful song we raise:
In the glorious city of salvation,
God has told us all the gates are praise.”

Hebrews 11_30