Hero worship is, unfortunately, a common problem among Christians today. We have our favourite preachers, evangelists, ministers and servants of God, authors and pastors. We may even have certain political leaders as our heroes. And we end up worshipping these heroes, knowingly or unknowingly.
There were few times when I saw some theology posted online and had the temerity to point out certain Biblical verses which directly contradict the said theology. And then the wolves would come out – how dare you question our pastor/preacher/minister of God? Do you have his anointing? No one knows who you are, but our pastor/preacher/minister has so many followers on Facebook, Twitter, etc,.
But no one would say whether what I wrote is correct or not, based on the Bible. That’s never the problem. How dare you question our ….?
Especially in Pentecostal churches, the hero worship is so easily visible to human eyes, except those who are into it. The church attendance would drop if certain pastor is not preaching; the church will be full when a certain person leads the worship.
There are some Christians who believe that God our Father do not listen to our prayers, but if such a minister of God prays, then there will be an immediate answer to those prayers. So when they need prayers, they will write to those ministers of God or call them, so that they can get an instant answer from God through the “direct line”.
Is it wrong to have someone else pray for us? Of course not. Is it wrong that some men of God are asked to intercede on our behalf. No, it is not. But to depend on them, to follow them blindly, is wrong and it will lead to spiritual idolatry and spiritual adultery.
In Exodus chapter 32, we see the idolatry of Israelites. But what we don’t read between the lines is most revealing.
That morning, they collected manna – which was provided by our Lord God.
That day, they drank water that came from the roc – again the provision was from our God.
During the entire day, when they were busy preparing the idols, they were under the shadow of the pillar of cloud – provided by God.
During that night, when they were worshipping the idols and celebrating, they were received light by the pillar of fire – provided by God.
If all these were not enough to remind them of the presence of God among them, they were at the base of Mount Sinai and the peak was covered with clouds, symbolizing the glory and presence of the LORD God.
There were thunders and lightning that would have reminded them the awesome power of our God.
Imagine this. After eating the manna and drinking the water provided by the Lord our God, they proceeded to create and worship an idol under the pillar of cloud and pillar of fire that the Lord had given them in His mercy. HIS awesome power and magnificent glory were visible whenever they looked up. Yet they went ahead and created the idols. Why? Because they were worried about their hero, Moses.
Exodus 21:1 says: Now when the people saw that Moses delayed coming down from the mountain, the people gathered together to Aaron, and said to him, “Come, make us gods that shall go before us; for as for this Moses, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.”
Since they could not see their hero and did not know what happened to them, they decided to choose another leader… no, wait, no, they did not do that. That would have been the right thing to do. Instead, when they thought they lost Moses, they replaced him with idols. Hero worship had led them to idolatry. And there were so many things that would have reminded them of the presence of the Lord among them, the LORD God Who actually brought them out of the land of Egypt. But when people have heroes, true and living God cannot be seen – only idols can be seen.
So, who is your focus? Are you looking only Jesus, Him crucified or your preacher? Are you focussing your eyes on Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of our faith, or some Christian author whose books have revived your faith? Let us focus our eyes only on Jesus and Jesus Christ alone. Amen.
LORD, You have never forsaken those who seek You! – Psalm 9:10
The promise of the Lord never to forsake the soul that trusts in him, looks familiarly and kindly forth upon us, from many a page of Scripture, old and new. But we have here an historical statement to the effect that he has never forsaken them that seek him. This is a bold averment. History is a very large affair. Ten thousand volumes were but a small part of its library. It is startled by the challenge contained in our text; and takes down volume after volume, saying, ” I will easily, with my voluminous records, levy an army of many thousand facts to confound this statement.” Unbelief nods assent, saying, ” The statement needs modification: We have often been forsaken of the Lord.”
The promise is not that we shall always have a sensible manifestation of the Lord. – That we shall always have a soul-gladdening consciousness of his presence. – That we shall always be able to understand his dealings with us. – That we shall be kept from disappointments, and from anguish of spirit.
The promise is not that we shall never be cast into a den of lions; – never into a fiery furnace, – never be a fugitive by the brooks Cherith, or under the juniper tree – never be brought before Nero. Look for the token that the Lord hath not forsaken you, in the right place. Look for it in the den of lions, and you will find it in the form of an angel. Look for it in the burning fiery furnace, and find it in the form of the Son of God. Look at Elijah under the juniper tree. He seems to have been surprised into a loss of faith, when he heard that the queen had sworn to take his life; to have imagined that the Lord had forsaken him; to have fled in dishonourable alarm; and to have cast himself, way-worn and anguish stricken, under the juniper tree, with a feeling that it was about as well to die, seeing that no degree of intimacy with the Lord would secure a man from being forsaken of him. But it was not the Lord that had forsaken him; it was he that had forsaken himself; and this he now discovered. Afterwards the still small voice came, saying, ” The Lord is in me, but thou canst not hear me nor discern
Him, if thou hearken to the voice of an angry queen; it is the privilege of faith to hear me even amid the thunders of God’s most agitated providence.”
– From “Daily Meditations” by George Bowen.
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)
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.
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.”
“Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.”
I had just got engaged and in 6 more months, we were going to be married. And I was busy with so many things, my prayer times were becoming less and less. One evening, I was scared that I am slowly drifting away from the LORD. So, I took the Bible and started reading and when I came across this verse, it broke my heart. LORD, You know all things; You know that I love You. I was filled with love of God and from then on, I sought Him first and by His grace, I still had plenty of time to take care of my wedding plans and I had more energy at the end of the days. This is the one verse I have confessed the most all these years and, now, Lord, You know all things and You know that I love You. I love You, LORD.
In Jewish tradition, they believe that after someone dies, his soul hovers over his body for three days. After that, the soul leaves the body and goes back to God, its Creator. So, Jews thought that for 72 hours, there is hope that a dead person can come back to life, but after that, there is no hope left for that person.
When we reach that stage of hopelessness, where there is no way for you to have any hope at all, it is difficult for us to believe that our LORD Jesus Christ loves us anymore. Yet, the Bible tells a different story.
When Jesus arrived, He found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days. – John 11:17 (ISV)
We need to note two things here.
This is not someone about whom the LORD did not care. When the sisters of Lazarus sent a message to Jesus, they were very emphatic about one thing: “Lord, the one You love is sick.” – John 11:3. Dear friend, you have been praying for so long and now the situation has become so hopeless, you are wondering whether the LORD loves you or not. No, dear friend, our LORD loves you. Even when your prayers are not answered, the LORD loves you. Even when all hopes are lost, the LORD loves you.
Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days. We don’t know when he died and how long after that, he was laid in the tomb. But it had been four days since he was there. Which means, according to the Jewish tradition, there was no chance for him to come to life again. Dear friend, probably people around you are telling that there is no hope left anymore. Tradition and the knowledge of this world are telling you that everything is gone.
Is this your ashes today? Hopelessness.
The deadlines are way past. The days for redemption is well over. You needed that money a week before, now it is too late and even now, there seems to be no way.
Probably you needed the understanding of your spouse few days before. Now, it is too late to reconcile the relation. It is over for good now.
If you had got that job at that time, it would have been just perfect. But, not only you did not get the job, your situation has gone from bad to worse. Now, even if you get that job, it would be impossible for you to get back on your feet.
But, wait a minute, my friend. Bring these ashes, all your hopelessness to our LORD. Bring every single thing where your hopes were dashed to our LORD. It does not matter how trivial it seems to be, bring it to Jesus. For the One who is visiting you now has the power to turn your ashes into beauty. And, remember these four things.
Jesus wept. – John 11:35. Dear friend, you don’t serve a stone-hearted dictator. We are worshipping Jesus Christ, God who feels your pains, who shares your burdens. And when you have lost all your hopes, when grave yard alone seems to be your destination, Jesus is not laughing there in Heaven. Jesus weeps for your condition, dear friend. Are you feeling so lonely that you are thinking that there is no one for you? Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Savior of all human kind, is there for you and He is weeping at your condition, dear friend. Tears are flowing from His gracious eyes, seeing how much you have to suffer.
Martha, the sister of Lazarus, told Jesus: “There must be a stench by now.” – John 11:39. At this hopeless situation, when you decide to pray, there will be your family members and your well-wishers who will be saying that it is too late now. They are not saying that because they hate you. For them, it is just reality. Even if God wants to show grace to you, isn’t it too late for that? Isn’t the situation beyond salvage now? Because they look at the material world, not at the Creator who created all these; they look at the laws of this Physical world, not at the One who created everything by His Word. So, don’t let their words dissuade you from coming to Jesus.
“Come out!” commands the voice of the LORD. – John 11:43. Dear friend, out of your hopelessness, out of the ashes that surround you, the Voice of the LORD commands, “Come out”. The Voice of the LORD is powerful; the Voice of the LORD is full of majesty. (Psalms 29:4) And that Voice is commanding now, dear friend, to come out of this hopelessness, out of this desperate situation. When the LORD commands, even the depths of the valley of death will open its mouth and will give you back into the land of living. Yes, dear friend, death is not your end. From this hopeless situation, the LORD is commanding you to come out. It does not matter whether the devil has a strong hold on you, he has to obey our Lord and Master now. Even if your hands and legs are bound by grave clothes, nothing can stop you now.
Finally, remember this, my friend. All these days, you were expecting a miracle to save your face. You were hoping that God would do something so that you can go around and tell others that you serve a Living God. But, everything went against you. Now, as the LORD has commanded you out of these hopeless, dear friend, you don’t have to go around telling people, people will come to you, to see you, and the best part, there will be throngs believing in Jesus Christ because of you. The Bible says, ‘because on account of Lazarus, many of the Jews went away and believed in Jesus.’ – John 12:11. Yes, dear friend, you will become a living testimony for the grace, power and majesty of our LORD.
All you need to do is just one thing. Bring these ashes, your hopelessness to our LORD and He will give beauty for your ashes.
|Matthew 2:4-6“When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Messiah was to be born. “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied, “for this is what the prophet has written: “‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you will come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.’””
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Years later, when he was exiled on an island, he reversed his opinion, and conceded, “Man proposes, but God disposes.”
Napoleon learned the attitude of “If it is the Lord’s will” the hard way. May we learn it now.
Let us say, truly, “LORD, may Your will be done in my life.” (Matthew 26:42)
From the “2000+ Bible Illustrations”
|Jeremiah 29:11“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
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True love does not boast. And the LORD wants us to love Him truly, with all our heart, all our soul and all our strength. The problem with us is we confuse the LORD’s love for us with the love we must have for the LORD. And in that misunderstanding, we not only hurt the LORD, we also hurt ourselves.
In the Gospel according to Apostle John, we see a beautiful example of this. There were multitudes who came to Jesus and received His blessings. They were cured of their sickness, evil spirits were cast out and they received spiritual nourishment from the our Lord. In the midst of all these, Jesus Christ received a message.
“Lord, the one whom You love is sick.” – John 11:3 (LITV)
Though this looks like a beautiful message by people who really loved our LORD, when we look through the light of the Scriptures, we see something. Here, the sisters of Lazarus gave emphasis to the fact that Jesus loved Lazarus. There was nothing about how much they love Jesus.
Often, this is one of the problems today with us. We know that the LORD loves us. We are sure that all His promises to us will be fulfilled because He loves. When we endure suffering, the question rises: if God loves me, then why do I have to suffer? So, in everything, whether in our expectations, in our successes and in our sufferings, our focus is on only one thing: that the LORD loves us. And we forget to notice something that is blurred in the background – we forget how much our LORD is yearning for our love. How much do we really love Him?
Also note that, the message said only one thing. That Lazarus was sick. It did not tell Jesus what to do. Once again, it looks like a statement of faith, that the LORD knows better. But later, Martha tells something that shows what she really thought Jesus Christ would do on hearing their message.
“If You had been here, my brother would not have died.”
– John 11:21 (NIV)
Yes, Martha thought that Jesus Christ, who she declared as the Son of God (John 11:27), would leave everything aside as soon as He received the message and would come and heal her brother. And, there was her boasting. In that small message, her boasting was encapsulated. The LORD loves our family. We will not ask Him anything, we will just tell Him what the problem is, He will do it immediately for us. Don’t we all have the same attitude at times?
The question here is how much do we love the LORD? Do we love Him so much, we know that no matter what the situation is now, it will be always for our good? Do we love Jesus so much, we have an unshakeable faith, that instead of asking Him to come to us, we will ask Him, as the centurion said, “Lord, only say the word.”?
True love will be humble, it will have enormous faith, that asks the LORD for just to say the word. But the love that is shallow will boast and instead of faith, it will try to show off. What do we have today? The LORD God, Creator of everything, El Shaddai – the God Almighty is waiting eagerly for our true love.
No matter what our current situation is, let us love our LORD whole heartedly. And if we need deliverance, let us ask Him with faith:
|Leviticus 19:18““‘Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I AM the LORD.”
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One of the most beautiful verses in the Bible is found in Luke 22:61.
Whenever I come across this verse, I have to pause for a minute. There are so many times we have been in the same position as Peter was.
Just like Peter was warned by the LORD, we are warned by the Spirit of God.
Just like Peter, we tell the LORD that no matter what happens, we would never ever sin against Him.
Just like Peter, we tell Him that even if everyone else may sin against Him, we will never sin even in our sins.
And just like Peter, we fail. Not just once, but many times.
We may not deny the LORD the way Peter denied that night. But, whenever we give in to our pride and our carnal temptations, whenever lust overpowers us, whenever we seek the company of those whose ways are not the ways of God, whenever we heed to the counsel of man over the voice of our God, we deny knowing our God. And each denial hurts the LORD’s loving heart more than we can ever understand.
But in the middle of all that hurt, the LORD turns around and looks at me, looks at you just as He looked at Peter that night.
It is not a look of wrath or resentment; it is not a look of disappointment or accusation. The LORD looks at us with great earnestness. His eyes are filled with concern. The LORD knows what we have done and now He is concerned about how we are going to deal with that guilt – like Judas or like Peter.
The LORD looks at us, during that time of darkness, when we are caught in our sin. There is pity in His eyes, because He knows that this guilty feeling is going to tear us apart. With pity, He looks at us, comforting us.
The eyes of our LORD is filled with love and mercy. More than everyone else, Jesus knows the burden of sin, for He carried the sins of the world. So He knows the terrible burden we are carrying in our heart. So, His eyes are filled with love and mercy, inviting us to purge our sins out of us and filled with grace to overcome sin, grace to accept the forgiveness that He has given, grace to live as the child of Most Holy Father.
The LORD’s look is a melting look. It breaks all our stubbornness and pride. Just the way He broke Peter’s pride.
Peter said that even if everyone else would leave Jesus, he would never. But after the LORD turned around and looked at him, the same Peter was asked one question three times. “Do you love Me more than these disciples?” Peter does not tell, “Yes LORD, I love You more than all these others.” Instead, with a heart clothed in humility, Peter tells, “LORD, You know everything and You know that I love You.” That’s all.
I don’t know about others, LORD. All I can tell You is, LORD, my Savior, Jesus Christ, You know everything and You know that I LOVE YOU. I love You, LORD, I love You.
|Ephesians 6:4“Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.”
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