In January, I wrote about a believer in this blog, but forgot to follow up. Her name is Mary and I wanted to write something that happened in her life four years back. In 2013, her Christian daughter was engaged to get married. The wedding was to take place on the second week of February, 2014.
Weddings in India are very different from weddings in western countries. In India, the dowry plays a huge role in marriages and it is quite expensive for the bride’s side. Some 20 years back, Christians would not give or accept dowries, but nowadays, except few believers, everyone gives and accepts dowries.
In Mary’s household, her husband and her son are not saved. Her husband is a drunkard, but her son promised that he would take care of the wedding expenses of his little sister. So the wedding arrangements were being made and as the new year ushered, they received a set back. Mary’s son fell in love with a girl, eloped with her and got married. His sister, the bride-to-be got upset that he married a Hindu girl, as she was hoping her brother would be accept Jesus before she got married. So, she said few things and that upset her brother and his new wife. So, they decided not to help with the wedding expenses.
Then Mary’s husband informed her that he had saved some money for his daughter’s wedding and that weekend, he would bring that money for the wedding expenses. Except he never reached home. News reached Mary that her husband was out drunk in the road, wearing a garland made up of the most expensive liquor bottles available. All the money had gone.
By now, it was the second week of January and less than a month for the wedding day and Mary had no money to start any arrangements for the wedding. And she came for a prayer meeting in the church and I led the prayer based on Psalm 55:22: Cast your burden on the Lord and He shall sustain you; He shall never permit the righteous to be moved.
After the prayer service, all the women had gathered around her and were feeling pity for her condition. They were offering to pray for her, by binding her son, by binding the evil spirit that was working inside her daughter-in-law, by binding the drinking spirit in her husband, by releasing money for her son’s savings and all that. If you are Pentecostal, you would know what I am talking about.
As I was going upstairs, I saw all these women gathered around her and she was telling her sad story about how her son had betrayed her trust, I was moved in my spirit and told her tersely, “So, it is your son who is your trust. Jesus is not your Trust, then. If Jesus is your Trust, cast your burden on Him and He will sustain you” and I walked off. Later I found out that the women were very upset with me, for not understanding the “real” problems that people face in the “real” world and for being so insensitive to a believer’s suffering. However, Mary did not utter any word and she left.
Three days later, she came back for Friday prayer and told my mother-in-law, that when I asked her who was her trust, she felt as if some hot coals were kept deep in her heart and she could not help saying, “Jesus is my Trust. Jesus alone is my Trust.” And she told that from that day on, she is in a spiritually calm place, that Jesus would take care of all her needs. She refused to ask anyone for any money; her village people asked her to seek the help of her son, but she declined.
Then the first week of February came and all of a sudden, the flood gates were opened. Not literally. Suddenly money and help started pouring in from all directions, though she asked for none. Three days before the wedding, all the wedding expenses were paid, all the dowry was settled and every thing they wanted to buy for the wedding, they bought only the best. How it happened? She is not even able to recall.
However, she had one more prayer for the wedding day. Since her husband and her son are not Christians, she wanted the pastor, who is my father-in-law, to give the bride’s hand in wedding. Now, this is sort of a big deal in our male-dominated society. The man would do nothing for the family, but this is his chance to show the world that he is the “man” in his family. This would even cause blood baths in certain places. Since it was her simple trust in the Lord had helped her so far, we asked her to simply pray and wait for the Lord.
On the day of the wedding, we all had assembled by 5 in the evening. It was 5:30 and there was no sign of her son or her husband. So, the wedding started and, still they had not arrived. We tried calling them; but all their phones were switched off. Some of the villagers were supposed to come with them; we tried calling them, and again the phones were switched off. And the time came for the bride’s hand to be given in holy Matrimony to the groom, and since there was no “men” from the girl’s side, her pastor gave the bride away as per Mary’s wish.
After the wedding, the reception and dinner got over and by 8:30 in the night, Mary’s son entered with those villagers and his drunk father. Apparently, these villagers were very upset that a woman, who had left their religion and became a Christian, single-handedly managed to arrange a wedding. So, they went and told her son and her husband that if they did not do something about it, the women in the village may stop respecting men, after all. And they came up with a brilliant idea. The wedding was scheduled to start at 5 pm, let us go after 8:30. They had to wait for us, and by that everyone would know that we, men, wear pants in our family. But by then, the Lord changed their plan to humiliate Mary, to humiliate them instead. Those villagers who had attended the wedding started telling her son how grand the wedding was and how irresponsible he was to miss his own sister’s wedding and he left with his head down.
All these happened because of one woman and her childlike faith in Jesus Christ, our Lord. Praise be unto Him forever and ever. Amen.
Without faith, it is impossible to please God. – 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
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.
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.”
For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven, and do not return there, but water the earth, and make it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it. – Isaiah 55:10-11 (NKJV)
As the rain comes down… the Hebrew word used for rain here denotes a violent rain, something like a deluge. Here the Lord is not talking about a soft misty rain that we enjoy, but a severe rain fall. We know that when such a rain fall comes, two things happen.
- So much water goes waste and
- Whatever crop has grown already, it will be destroyed.
So generally severe rain causes much loss to us.
Probably your life looks like that at present. There are so many promises that the Lord has given to you and it sort of looked like a deluge. Whenever you prayed, the Lord comforted you with choice words. As you read the Bible, beautiful verses gave you so much consolation. Then the Lord confirmed His promises to you through His servants. You felt so happy.
But now, it looks like most of those promises have gone into the ocean as the rain water does. You see that there is no more chance for some or most of the promises to be fulfilled. And because you believed in those promises, you lost few things that you could have gained.
My dear friend, I have been there. And I can tell you only one thing. His Word never fails. Never. It may look like all those promises have gone waste. That those promises have caused you more loss. But the Word of the LORD never goes back to Him void. It will accomplish the purpose for which He sent it. And it pleases the LORD to bless you. (Numbers 24:1) Hold on to your faith, for His Word will prosper in due time.
Pete had become lost in the desert and had been chasing mirages. He thought to himself, “I’ll follow this last one.” It was a deserted town with a well in the very centre. His mouth parched from the intense heat, he ran to the well with his last ounce of energy.
He vigorously pumped the handle only to find that no water came forth. Then, he looked up to a note nailed to the post. It instructed its readers to “look behind the rock where a five-gallon container of water will be found” and warned against drinking or using it for anything besides priming the pump. Every ounce was needed, and not even a drop could be spared, the note emphasized.
“After pouring the water down the pump, pump the handle vigorously and all the water you desire will come forth,” the note said. One last instruction was to please fill the water can and place it behind the rock for the next weary soul who might happen to come along.
How hard it is for people to give up a “sure thing” for something they cannot see at the time. Pete had a sure thing in the bucket of water and yet was instructed to pour it “all” down the pump. Now Pete was not sure what to do. He was not sure when the instructions were written, and whether the instructions would work after all these years. Sure, he could have the five-gallon of water to refresh himself and move on, or he could risk all the water and get nothing out of it.
Pete finally decided to have faith and took the risk: he poured all the water into the pump and started to pump vigorously with hope. Nothing came out, but then slowly water started to dribble. Then the fresh water started to gush out of the pump. Pete drank enough water, saved as much as he could for the remaining journey, washed himself and finally filled the five-gallon container. Before leaving, he wrote below those instructions: “Trust me. To follow the instructions, you need faith. And faith works – always.” – Paraphrased from “2000+ Bible Illustrations”
True faith looks foolish in the eyes of common sense. True faith will cost us something, sometimes everything. But are you ready to take that leap of faith, trusting in the Word of God? For He is a Rewarder of them that diligently seek Him. (Hebrews 12:6)
Jesus Christ. The Son of God. The King of kings. Everyone was amazed at the way He preached. Yet, He can be amazed by us. Yes, we can amaze Him. The Bible mentions two such events where our LORD was amazed.
The first instance was recorded in Mark 6:6.
And He was amazed at their lack of faith. (NIV)
The lack of faith in Jesus Christ was so much, He was amazed. Our lack of faith can amaze Him, but that amazement will not make His heart glad. It leaves our LORD with sadness.
The second instance was recorded in Luke 7:9.
When Jesus heard this, He was amazed at him, and turning to the crowd following Him, He said, “I tell you, I have not found such great faith even in Israel.” (NIV)
The faith of the centurion was so great, that Jesus was amazed again. But this time, the amazement made His heart glad. Our LORD was pleased with the faith of the centurion. Yes, our faith pleases our LORD very much.
The point to note here is that the people of Israel amazed the LORD by their lack of faith, while a gentile Centurion amazed our LORD by his faith.
So, are we just taking pride in the fact that we are God’s people and amaze Him only by our lack of faith? Or, are we humble enough to acknowledge His greatness and amaze Him by our faith?
Let us choose to amaze our LORD by our faith, let us please His heart with our faith. God be with us. Amen.
|1 Peter 1:3“[Praise to God for a Living Hope] Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In His great mercy He has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,”
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Faith and love go together. If we truly love our LORD, then we will have unshakeable faith in Him.
Look at any political leader who gets stuck in a scandal. Everyone who believed in him, who voted for him, would be really upset. They would change their minds about this leader. But there will be always some people who know that leader personally. No matter what happens around them, no matter how the political wind turns against their leader, they would support him whole heartedly. Their only explanation: “I know him personally and he is not this kind of person everyone is saying he is.”
An intimate knowledge of a person gives us tremendous faith in that person. And, the one thing that the LORD craves from us is LOVE. The LORD is waiting for us to have an intimate relationship with Him. The LORD wants to be our Friend. He wants us to share our innermost secrets. Yeah, He already knows that, but He wants to hear it from us, His friends. The LORD wants to be our Father. He wants us to tell Him our fears. Again, He knows that we are scared of few things in our life. He knows that we are worried about our future. But, He just wants us to open up and confide in Him. And, He wants us to know Him. Not from a distant. Not from our parents. Not from our church. The LORD wants us to know Him, from Him. That intimate knowledge, not tainted by views of humans, will help us in our understanding of His love for us. The LORD wants us to know Him in a personal level.
For all his righteousness, Job did not have a first hand knowledge of the LORD. Job himself declares that.
Yes, just like us, Job also knew about the LORD from others. His understanding of God was what he heard from the experiences of others. We may really believe in our God, we may really have zeal for Him, but the real question is: is our belief, our faith and our zeal for our LORD is because of our love, because we know Him personally or it is from what we have heard about God?
A day came when Job experienced the LORD personally. That day changed his life forever. All his sorrows turned into joy. Today, my dear friend, whatever your sorrow is, experience our LORD personally, as a Friend, as a Father, love Him, let your faith grow because of that love, and all your sorrows will turn into joy.
God wants us to love Him, know Him personally, so that our faith is our own faith. Because, it is by HIS OWN faith, the righteous shall live. (Hab. 2:4) So, let us wear the breastplate of faith and love (1 Thess. 5:8) and let us please our LORD more and more. Amen.
|Jeremiah 23:24“Who can hide in secret places so that I cannot see them?” declares the LORD. “Do not I fill heaven and earth?” declares the LORD.”
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We are made righteous by our faith in our LORD Jesus Christ. And we shall live, we shall prosper by the same faith in Him. But many times after we are made righteous, we give in to common sense and logical thinking.
Sometimes it is so difficult not to think about the odds that are against us. It is really difficult to focus on Jesus when there are so many things against us, blocking our view; so much commotion around us, unable to hear the soothing voice of the LORD. But, the only way that we can survive this turmoil is by having faith in the LORD.
Though we have faith, it is the wrong kind of faith. Our faith is mostly on what we see, but not on the LORD who is not seen. True faith looks beyond the circumstances, looks beyond all the dark clouds. The only thing that true faith sees is the LORD who has the authority over everything.
When Jonathan saw the vast army before him, he knew that he had no chance of winning against them – the odds were really bad. 30,000 chariots, 6,000 horsemen and numerous soldiers against 600 men with only two swords. But beyond the vast Philistine army, Jonathan saw something – he saw the LORD of Hosts.
The LORD of Hosts, YHWH Sabaoth, the battle belongs to Him. Nothing, dear friend, nothing on this earth can restrain our LORD. And, the LORD of Hosts is for us, hence it does not matter how many of us are there, how many are against us, what the odds are against us, how bleak our situation is, nothing can restrain the LORD of Hosts to save by many or by few.
Jonathan saw that, believed in the LORD, hold on to his faith and received a great victory. Dear friend, let us look at the LORD of Hosts. Hold on to our faith. For the righteous shall live by his faith.
Revelation 21: 2-4“I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and He will dwell with them. They will be His people, and God Himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.””
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True positive should be based on the grace of the LORD and also on TRUE faith. Why just not faith? Why true faith? True faith has few indicators. Some of us born strong – not “Schwarzenegger” strong (Wow, I need to get an award for spelling that name without a mistake), but mentally strong. Often people who are mentally strong are taken to be strong in faith – unfortunately. True faith believes in the Word of God and has its foundation on the grace of the LORD. And, true faith does not boast on itself, but will give glory to the Author and Perfecter of our faith, our LORD and Savior Jesus Christ.
Let us look at one person who was not strong minded, but was filled with faith and how her positive attitude brought her blessings from the LORD.
3. Hannah. Hannah was the mother of prophet Samuel. And she was married Elkanah who also had another wife, Peninnah. Peninnah had children, but not Hannah. As a result of that, Peninnah often made derogatory remarks about Hannah and the Bible says, Peninnah would keep insulting till Hannah finally broke down and started weeping. So, we can see that Hannah was not that strong minded.
Finally, Hannah goes to the LORD. With her soul filled with bitterness, she pours her heart to the LORD. And here comes the three lessons that every Christian should learn about prayer.
The first lesson is how to pray. The Bible tells that while pouring her heart out, her lips were moving, but there were no sounds as she was praying in her heart. While there is nothing wrong in praying aloud, crying out to God… the prayers that only our Heavenly Father could hear have more punch than the prayers that everyone can listen to. (Matthew 6:6)
Second, when she was praying, Eli, the high priest was watching her pray. Since only her lips were moving and no sound was coming out, he thought that she was drunk. So he admonishes her. Now, Hannah tells him that she was just pouring her heart out to the LORD about her problems. But note that, she did not tell Eli exactly what her problems were. Imagine this for a second… what would we have done there, in that situation? We would have explained everything – what our problem is, why we are there pouring our heart to the LORD… but Hannah does not talk about her problems in detail. Because people can give us a temporary relief. But the LORD can solve our problems in ways that we cannot even fathom.
Finally, the most important thing is, Hannah had faith.
How do we know that? Now, Eli, who just a second thought she was a drunkard and admonished her, tells her to go in peace as the God of Israel may grant her what she had asked him. Again, what would be our immediate reaction – when someone, especially a priest, does not know the difference between us praying and us being drunk, blesses us saying that our prayers are heard – would we trust those words? No way. But Hannah trusted the words of Eli, because he was the priest of the LORD Almighty and the Bible says,
Her face was not sad anymore. – 1 Sam. 1:18b (NIRV)
She came to the LORD’s presence with sadness in her heart. Now, she goes out with faith, because the anointed of the LORD has told her to go in peace and she was not sad anymore. She believed that her prayers were heard and that she would get a definite answer from the LORD and her faith showed on her face.
How about you? Do you have faith that your prayers are heard by the LORD? Do you believe that He would surely answer you favorably? If you believe so, if you really have faith in the LORD, then your face will not be sad anymore.
With this positive attitude, Hannah goes home and now, she gets a son – Samuel, a prophet who anoints Saul, the first king of Israel and also, David, the greatest king from whose royal line, Jesus Christ, the Messiah and the Savior of all humankind was born.
But, there is a difference in the positive attitude of Hannah (which came from her true faith on the LORD) and Rachel (whose positive attitude is a result of positive reinforcement, saying the positive words again and again). When Hannah begot Samuel, she dedicated him to the LORD, while Rachel gets her son, she names him Joseph, so she could get another son.
See the end of these two women. Rachel gets what she wanted, she gets her son, but during delivery, she develops complications and dies right after getting what she wanted.
But when Hannah gave her only son to the LORD and magnifies God for answering her prayers (True faith: she does not claim that her son is the result of her faith, but honors the LORD), she is blessed and over the years, she had three more sons and two daughters.
What do you want today? How are you going to pursue your goals? Based on positive attitude, reinforcing positive words to yourself or are you going to have a positive attitude based on the faith on the never ending grace of our LORD? Both will take you to your goals. But with the former, that will be the end of it. But if you put your trust on the LORD and have faith in His eternal grace, dear friend, this is just the beginning. For the blessings of the LORD will make you rich and He shall add no sorrow unto it. Amen.
Romans 15:5-6 “May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
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