… and the rest, some on boards and some on parts of the ship. And so it was that they all escaped safely to land. – Acts 27:44 (NKJV)
As the ship faced the wrath of tempestuous head wind, Euroclydon, everyone in the ship lost their hope. It had been nearly two weeks since they saw sun or even a star, and they had no idea where they were. Amidst all those who had lost hope, Paul stood like a light shining in the dark, and declared that they all would be saved; not one man would lose his life. And he proclaimed, “I believe in God, and it shall be even as it was told me.” (Acts 27:25)
The Word came from God and it was believed by the man of God, and soon it came to fruition. Except not in the way we would describe as the majestic manner in which God delivers those who trust Him. The Bible says that some of them held on to boards and others to broken pieces from the ship and escaped.
How often in our life we have faced such circumstances? We were in a very tiring situation and the Lord gives His Word to us. That He would deliver us from evil. That He would not let us be ashamed because we put our trust in Him. That before the eyes of our enemies, He would exalt us, and show to them that He is with us and He loves us. And we are jubilant, waiting for that moment of great glory to come, where the Lord in His majesty, comes down from the Heavens, lifts us from our troubles and anoints us before our enemies.
But nothing of that sort happens. As we are waiting for the mighty arm of the Lord to appear, we see some wooden boards, some broken pieces passing by. Of course, we could take hold of them and reach land safely. But did not the Lord promise great things? Nah, these broken pieces and boards are for mere mortals. Not for the righteous who lives by faith. I will not use such mundane means to escape; no, no, I have suffered so much to escape in such a whimpering fashion. Let those broken pieces and boards pass. See the salvation of God. I wait. I wait. I am waiting. I am still waiting. I am wondering why God has not delivered me yet. Now, I am waiting, but confused. I am waiting, but my faith is shaken. A little. Okay, a lot. Now, there are doubts in my heart. Did I misunderstand what the Lord told me? Or did God lie to me? No, no, He does not lie. Have I lost something in the translation? I am wondering.
But as I wait with tired eyes, all I see are more boards and broken pieces. And a still voice telling my heart, “This is the way out. Grab it.” But I refuse. It cannot be the voice of the Almighty. It has to be the devil, trying to deceive me. I know that the Lord will deliver me in a spectacular fashion. That will shut the mouths of all my enemies. That will vindicate all my silent suffering.
Yet, all I see is more and more boards and broken pieces of wood, and that voice still telling me, “Grab it. Don’t ignore the little things that God, in His infinite wisdom, has provided you.” Now slowly, I realize that it is the Spirit of God talking to me. But, then, what about all the promises? Yes, they are still there, safe in Christ Jesus. They are “Yes” and “Amen” in my Savior and Redeemer. Then how come I have to be delivered in such a prosaic manner?
Then the Lord teaches me that lesson I must have learned long back. My faith must never feed my ego. My faith must make me humble. My faith must not fill me with pride. All those spectacular escapes I was dreaming about, those were to satisfy my ego, not for the glory of my Father. I was waiting for them, because my pride wanted such a great show for me, not for the Son of God Who loved and gave His life for me.
Oh, somewhere along being filled with faith, I have fallen prey to the oldest sin – pride. The broken pieces of ship represent what I have to be. The ship, though majestic and grand, could not take me to the land safely. But when it is broken into pieces, one of the smallest pieces is all God needs to fulfil His promise for me, and it will take me home safely.
When I am full of myself, like that ship, I may falter in reaching the destination. But when I am broken, tossed around by the wind and the waves, I know that I will reach the shore safely; and I will also help someone else to reach safely, by just hanging on to me.
Oh Lord, break me into broken pieces, so that my pride sinks in this sea. Break me, so that I can learn humility. Break me, so that You can fulfil Your promise and Your Name alone be glorified. In Jesus’s Name, I ask, Amen.
And not being weak in faith, he (Abraham) did not consider his own body, already dead (since he was about a hundred years old), and the deadness of Sarah’s womb. – Romans 4:19 (NKJV)
God visited Abraham when he was 99 years old and gave him a more pointed promise this time – that Abraham and Sarah would have a child of their own in the span of normal time of life. That is, within 10 months, they would be holding Isaac in their hands, filled with joy.
When God says this promise, we see that the first time, it was Abraham who laughed, and the next time, it was Sarah. The promise was meant for them, and the fulfilment of the promise depended on them, and yet, they both laughed because they knew the ground reality. Abraham’s body was dead as he was close to 100 years old and Sarah’s womb was also dead. But once the Lord repeats His promise, the Bible says this: Abraham did not consider.
How could he not consider? It was going to be his own seed, and his body was dead. It was going to be born out of Sarah’s womb, and her womb was also dead. Yet, Abraham chose not to consider the dead things in his life.
There are three things Abraham teaches here.
He chose not to consider. It was not like he did not know. He knew the circumstances, but he chose not consider. Often, believers who are filled with faith, who are waiting upon the promises of God, are accused of living in a dream world, not facing the realities of life.
Yes, it is true that some live in a bubble, not ready to face the realities of life. They do not want to know the harsh realities of life, they do not want to face the troubles that surround them.
But for those who faith are genuine, it is not like they do not know the realities of life; it is that they choose “not to consider” them.
He chose not to consider the “dead” things in his life. On the one side, Abraham had the Word of God, the Living Word of God – the Word that gives life; on the other side, he had his dead body and Sarah’s dead womb to consider. And he chose not to consider the dead things in his life.
For our Lord God is a Living God and He is the Author of all life. HIS Words are mighty and omnipotent; before His Words, nothing on this earth has any stopping power. When Jesus commanded, “Lazarus, come out”, neither death nor the grave had any authority or power over Lazarus. When the Lord declared, “There be light,” there was light.
So, dear friend, what are you going to consider? The living promises of our living God or the dead things in your life that are against those very promises? God’s Word has power to give life. So, do not look at the circumstances of your life. Don’t look at how “dead” the chances of the promises being fulfilled. Look only at the Word of God. Look only at the Lord.
Finally, Abraham did consider only one thing. That God Who promised is also able to do what He had promised (Romans 4:21). That was the only that mattered to Abraham. Who gave the promise? The Almighty God. Would He lie? No, He does not lie. Was He able to do what He had promised? Yes, He is able to do.
Dear friend, that must be our only consideration. Who gave this promise to you? Is it our Lord Almighty? Have you received those promises through Jesus Christ? Then those promises are “Amen” and “Yes” in Him. Has the Lord ever lied? No, He cannot lie. And is He able to do what He has promised? Yes, He is the Lord Omnipotent, and He is able to do what He has promised.
Then let us not consider those things that are dead, and consider only the Lord and His promise. And in His time, in due time, we will rejoice with our father Abraham, that our faith in the Living God and His promises through His Son and our Savior Jesus Christ, has been rewarded as He has told.
I waited patiently for the Lord. – Psalm 40:1 (NKJV)
Waiting patiently for the Lord seems to be a total failure at times. You are compelled by the Lord to stand still. You remember your calling; you are called to do great things for Him, and initially you are busy with so many things. Yes, trials, tribulations, afflictions and suffering – all are present, but none of that matters, because you are doing great work for the Lord, and then suddenly there is an enforced inaction.
Initially, you are not even sure if it is the will of God. As you attempt to do few things, all of them end up as failures and in disappointment. Slowly, as you see the hand of the Lord behind your standing still, initially there is a joy as you realize it is God Who is asking you to stand still, and there you are, standing still, like the sun over Gibeon, and the moon over the valley of Aijalon (Joshua 10:12-13).
Then you realize though your sun and moon are standing still, the earth is still rotating, and everyone’s life keeps going. They come to you often, complain about the various things happening in their life, but at least things are happening in their life. Though they are struggling, and are afflicted in every side, at least they are moving forward. For you, though, there has been no movement forward for so long. You are there, waiting patiently for the Lord.
And, you already know that, it is thousand times harder to stand still for the Lord, than being active in the work of the Lord amid the day-to-day’s troubles. It may look like a failure as the life moves on for others, but dear friend, this is one of the truest tests of your faith. To stand still, waiting for the Lord, without losing hope and losing your heart, to give up the work and honor to others, to be quiet, rejoicing in the promises of the Lord requires greater faith, especially when those busy multitude go ahead and go away. But you are chosen, by God, to stand still and see His salvation.
“Thou art my King, O God: Command deliverance (victories, margin) for Jacob”
(Psalm 44:4 RV).
Here is no foe to your growth in grace, no enemy in your Christian work, which was not included in your Savior’s conquests.
You need not be afraid of them. When you touch them, they will flee before you. God has promised to deliver them up before you. Only be strong and very courageous! Fear not, nor be dismayed! The Lord is with you, O mighty men of valor– mighty because one with the Mightiest. Claim victory!
Whenever your enemies close in upon you, claim victory! Whenever heart and flesh fail, look up and claim VICTORY!
Be sure that you have a share in that triumph which Jesus won, not for Himself alone, but for us all; remember that you were in Him when He won it, and claim victory!
Reckon that it is yours, and gather spoil. Neither the Anakim nor fenced cities need daunt or abash you. You are one of the conquering legion. Claim your share in the Savior’s victory.
– Joshua, by Meyer
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.
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.
A little one shall become a thousand, and a small one a strong nation. I, the LORD, will hasten it in its time. (NKJV)
I still can’t forget how I received this precious promise from the Lord. I was in college and as I had mentioned earlier, I was undergoing severe depression and my wife, who was my girl friend then, knew about this and was writing to me continuously. We were in different towns and during that time, not many knew about depression. So, only she knew and she would write three letters a week to help me. Hmmm, how much I miss writing and receiving letters. All these whatsapps and smses are instantaneous, but they are fast food. I still have the very first card she gave me, but today, it is so easy to delete everything and move on.
Anyway, I was studying in a men’s college and during that time, in our college, only three of us were in a romantic relationship and even that was a big thing. It was a taboo during that time. Nowadays, everyone has three relationships . So, we three boys would be getting letters regularly from our respective girl friends. This sort of pissed the other hostel inmates. Some of them never received any letters at all; for others, receiving one letter per semester itself is a big deal. And here are three guys receiving at least three letters per week.
So, one afternoon, none of us received any letters. The boys decided to open and read what were written. And expectedly the other two guys had received letters from their girl friends with so much romance and some titillation. Everyone had a laugh and gave those letters to those two boys. For me, they came and sat around me and stared at me. The only question they had is: “Are there love letters or the Epistles by Paul?” Because my wife would always start with a Biblical quote and explain how the Lord loves me unconditionally and that she has been praying for me and would end the letter with a Biblical promise. This is the typical love letter she wrote to me. And in that particular letter, she had written the promise. A little one shall become a thousand, and a small one a strong nation. I, the LORD, will hasten it in its time.
That was the last time they ever bothered me regarding those letters. And, they showed a profound respect to me from that day onwards. Hmmm, the miraculous ways in which the Lord fulfils His Word. And I thank Him for His precious promise and for the precious gift my wife is.
Whenever we think about our LORD, we always associate pure white and lots of bright light with Him. So, when things go wrong in our life, when darkness surrounds us, when we have no idea what is ahead of us, we are scared; we feel as if the LORD has forsaken us. We think that the LORD is far, far away from us.
But the Bible tells us something more encouraging.
When clouds and thick darkness surround you, dear friend, don’t lose heart. Because it means the LORD is very near, nearer than you think. We may not know where the LORD is because you are surrounded by clouds and thick darkness. We may not know where we are headed because it is too dark around us. We may be confused about tomorrow.
But among those dark clouds, in that thick darkness, the LORD is there. His mighty presence is there. And the right moment, not the moment we want, but at the right moment, the LORD will reveal Himself to us from those clouds and thick darkness. Not only He will reveal His glory to us, the second part of that verse says,
“Righteousness and justice are the foundation of His throne.”
– Psa. 97:2
Yes, the Righteous LORD will give everyone their dues; the Just LORD will deliver His justice.
So, if you are worried about this darkness that surrounds you, take a second to realize His presence. For, the LORD is nearer than you think; your deliverance is at hand. Amen.
Galatians 5:13 “You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love.”
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There are times in our life when we are surrounded by darkness. So much dark clouds surround us, we don’t know whether it is day or night. It has been a while since we have seen the sun in our life. We have started wondering whether this situation would ever change. And the nights we spent, crying softly so that no one knows how our hearts are being broken, for we are desperate. Worried that these dark clouds may engulf our life as we know. What if this persists? What if these sufferings do not end? What if all these sufferings go in vain?
But today, the LORD has a promise for us:
When the clouds are heavy, the rains come down. – Ecc. 11:3 (NLT)
Yes, these dark clouds that surround us will bring rain into our life. We will see the Sun of Righteousness shining in our life yet again. We will bask in the glory of the LORD yet again. The flowers will blossom once again in our life. And, we will be singing the song of deliverance. Because no matter how dark our clouds are, no matter how hard our sufferings are , we will receive our rain and we shall receive our blessings. Amen.
1 Corinthians 1:10 “I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought.”
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One of the Names given to our LORD in the Bible is “The LORD who lifts me up from the gates of death.”
When I look back at life, I lose count of times when I was at the gates of death. How many accidents that could have easily taken my life out? I still remember January 22nd, 2008 when I was riding a motorbike with my brother-in-law. He was having trouble with the wind, so I gave him my helmet. He was having problem breathing with the heavy wind and he really needed to cover his face. But he refused my offer and within five minutes, I got into a major accident. As I was going down, I could see my face going to hit the ground, and I was thinking, “This is it. The end.” My legs got stuck under the motorbike and it went sliding for a while. When people came to pick me up, they thought either my face would have gone or at least my legs would have been broken. Though the palms of both my hands were severely hurt (I could not use either of them for nearly 2 months and after all these years, the wound in my right palm has not completely closed) and I had a huge laceration on my left hand which has left a huge scar like it was burnt, I had very minor injuries to my legs and nothing to my face. Even today, when I think of that accident, I can see how fast my face went down to hit the ground. If only my brother-in-law had accepted my offer, it would have been five years since my obituary was written. But the LORD lifted me up from the gates of death that day.
It is just one of the incidents. I can tell many more such accidents. But I didn’t face the gates of death only through accidents or the schemes of devil. How many times, I had wished that death come my way? How many times, in depression, I have thought of committing suicide? How many times, I have wondered, will anyone miss me if I am gone… or at least, will someone notice that I am gone? But every single time, the LORD lifted me up from the gates of death.
August 10th 2002. It was my birthday and by then, I had managed to lose all my friends. And no one wished me on that day. I sat all day, checking my emails and answering machine. Nothing. In the middle of the night, I started walking around in heavy rain. I was completely drenched and finally decided to go back to my apartment to end my miserable life. As I was getting closer to my apartment, in the middle of that night, in that heavy downpour, a beggar approached me, asking for some change. I don’t think he could see my tears as the rain was really heavy. And, I took my wallet to give him some money and to my despair, I realized that I didn’t carry any cash on me. I felt very guilty for making that beggar wait in that rain. I apologized profusely to him that I don’t have any cash on him. He smiled at me and said, “Why are you feeling lonely? Go home. The LORD is waiting for you.” Then he turned around and walked back.
I went home and though I have had my ups and downs, that encounter changed my life forever. I took my Bible after a long time and started reading it. The presence of the LORD engulfed me and I told Him all my sufferings and sorrows. The presence of our Savior Jesus Christ completely filled me and though I was alone in my apartment, I never felt alone after that.
The next morning, I went to that place where I met the beggar, hoping to find him, thank him and give him some money. And, everyone there said that there was never a beggar around in that place. I explained to them that I did meet someone the night before and they almost laughed, because the rain that night was one of the heaviest rainfall they had ever received. If there was no beggar during regular times, how can they believe that there was this one beggar that night?
I believe that there are angels among us, who the LORD sends on our way, when the hours are the darkest. Because, the LORD knows how lonely and depressing when the darkest hours come our way. For HE suffered the darkest night ever possible in the loneliness of the Gethsemane before He was crucified. Though HE is the Son of God, He Himself needed to be strengthened by an angel. So, HE knows that no matter how much we believe, how strong we are in our faith, there are times when we all need an angel to strengthen us. And the LORD does send angels our ways to strengthen our ways, to tell us that HE, indeed, is the LORD who has lifted us from the gates of death.
|Romans 6:23“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
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