Unique Calls at Critical Times


Unique Calls @ Critical Times
                Youth characteristically challenge others with their vigor, vitality, enthusiasm, intellectualism and creativity. They think, assimilate, move and act at unprecedentedly fast pace and beat every imagination. They are innovators with ingenious spirit and adventurers with courage and charisma. So the world is after them through technology and mind manipulations. Flesh is after them through temptations. Satan is after them through popularity, prominence and possessions. Opportunities knock at the doors of their lives with promise of achievement and recognition. Knowledge is after them with elation. So they run the race for all these mirages and become disillusioned about life itself. It is then that they are offered ways to feel ‘high’ with substance that work in their bodies and minds to drain them of purposefulness in life. In the process, they challenge many others to travel their ways, but little do they realize that their followers reach the same destination that they are bound to arrive at – feeling of emptiness in life.

                Youthful years are full of energy and ideas. They have an answer to every puzzle and a way out of every mountain trail. They have a whole life time to work on it all with best prospects. They have plenty of free time, with less responsibilities and very little accountability. They are invariably their own bosses. They don’t like anyone telling them what to do, eat, dress, study or accomplish goals in life. They think they are right and others must learn to become wise like them. They often forget that youthful years are the ripe time to consider the Creator and see what His ultimate plans for their lives might be.
God’s focus on the Youth 
                If one examines the account of creation in the Bible, one would easily see that man was created as a resourceful youth and his wife a beautiful young lady. Considering the present life expectancy, most of those whom the Creator called thereafter to work for him were young. Noah, Abraham, Moses, David, Nehemiah and the prophets were all called when they were quite young. When one looks into the gospels, it would be easy to see that the disciples of Jesus were all young men, in their late teens or early twenties. Then we are presented with an array of young people like Timothy, Titus, Silas, Epaphroditus and others in the early church who were young men. 

                Why God especially calls young people for His mission? It is because they have the energy required for special missions. They have the life span to establish and accomplish great things to touch the lives of people through the hands of God. They have the will to make a life-time of commitment. They have the capacity to develop a long term vision and the strength to see that it is implemented. They learn the ways of God in His school of faith as they work for Him. They have the drive to go after their vision relentlessly. 
Look into the history of the church 
                History of the church tells us that God has called scores of young men and women to accomplish His purpose in building up His kingdom here on earth. So God called a young lawyer named Charles Finny to lay the foundation for revivalism. He called a young shoe salesman named Dwight Moody to train young people for world evangelization. He called William Carey, Adoniram Judson and Hudson Taylor as founders of modern missionary movement. He made Martin Luther the founder of Reformation. His call to John Calvin and Zwingli was to interpret the Bible and to establish doctrinal foundation for the church. He called Billy Graham who founded Youth for Christ and to start mass evangelism using multimedia to preach to the entire world. God picked Jim Eliot and four of his friends to reach out to the savage mountain tribes. When they were martyred, God used their lives to call over 5,000 youth to obey His call for world missions. He called George Verwer to establish literature evangelism through Operation Mobilization in unreached shores of the nations. They were all young men who were totally committed to Jesus Christ. 
  

                During the last five centuries, God called scores of His men and women to write hymns, translate the Bible, develop music, write books and tracts, launch magazines, start training centers, establish mission hospitals and orphanages and innumerable other evangelistic and church planting ministries. For evangelizing India, God raised up missionaries like William Carey, Amy Carmichael and Silas Fox, native young men like Sadhu Sunder Sing, Bhakth Singh, K.V. Simon and others. These were all called at their prime youth. 
Critical Times
                If we examine the times at which God called His choice instruments for His mission, it was always during critical times.

·         When human race was utterly perverse, God called a young man named Noah to preach and warn against it and to build an illustrative ark to show God’s salvation.

·         When idolatry was rampant and faith utterly unheard of, God called Abraham to prove his simple and unquestionable faith in God and in His mighty power and faithfulness.

·         When morality and truth were unheard of, God called Joseph to stand for, holiness, faithfulness and hope in Him and to protect His people Israel.

·         When God’s people were experiencing hopelessness, oppression and suppression, God raised up Moses to fearlessly face the Egyptian Emperor and his nation to release God’s people and lead them to worship the only true God.

·         When the enemy destroyed God’s people and their livelihood, God raised up Gideon to fight and demolish the enemy as the leader of the army of God.

·         When monster-like Goliath became a threat to God’s people, He called David to kill him and defeat all His enemies to establish a kingdom with Jerusalem as its capital.

·         When the power of God disappeared from His people, He called Isaiah to preach and to warn people and to give them the good news that Jehovah lives to save them.

·         In the midst of hopelessness, God raised up Jeremiah to cry for His people as the great intercessor.

·         When the enemy tried to wipe the Jews from the face of the earth, God called Esther to intercede for them and to reestablish hope.

·         God called Peter and John with their brethren to follow the way of the cross against the pseudo-religious forces.

·         God called Paul to take gospel to new territories and to complete the writing of the New Testament.

·         God called Timothy to build up the church when commitment was unknown among people. 

These men and women were willing to take risks for God and for faith. They gave up everything they had and sacrificed their lives to stand for God. 
Need of the hour
Our times are critical in many respects. The world and its agents flesh and Satan, are after the minds of young people. We live at a time when many young people faint under the scorching heat of the world and its evil system. We see young people captured by Satan, flesh and world. Their minds are being manipulated to perpetuate the evil that is around them. We see youngsters shattered emotionally and confused spiritually and drifting away from God. Who will deliver them from the clutches of sin and the world? Who will train up young men and women to help them fight spiritual battles to salvage the lost youth around them?
God is still looking and calling
·         God wants somebody to stand in the gap for the youth around us (Ezekiel 22:30). If not, people will perish.

·         The prophet is crying and asking as to whether there is anyone to intercede for the lost (Isaiah 59:16)

·         God is looking for the Nehemiah’s around us to rebuild broken lives, character and families (Nehemiah 1:11)

·         God is looking for youngsters who are willing to listen to Him and obey unconditionally (Haggai 1:1 & 3; Luke 14:35)

·         God wants people to respond willingly and voluntarily to go for Him and capture lives for Him (Isaiah 6:8)
What does it cost?   
                                        
Obeying God’s call involves your time, holidays, weekends and evenings, your money and most of all yourself. God wants you to work hard for Him to reach out to the lost youth. He wants your abilities, talents, intelligence, enthusiasm, energy, education, profession and passion that you might be using for temporal gains and fame of this world. He wants you to pray, talk, cook, serve, walk, climb hills, encourage and counsel the youth around you. He wants you to be available and avail the opportunities around you. Open your eyes and see that there are youth all around you who are drifting away into a Christ-less eternity. Many youth are captured day by day by the world, flesh and Satan. Will you be concerned about them? Will you give God the freedom to call you right now to go after the Youth who are escaping His fold? 
If you don’t respond today, it will perhaps be too late because the opportunity may cease to exist. Perhaps you will be lured into some other permanent bonds in life from which you may not be able to detach yourself. It is likely that the people whom God wants to touch may never be available for you. 
Remember: Today is the day of opportunity and dire need. 

Choosing Between the Master and the World


Between the Master and the World! 


             


 

                The ‘world’ that is around us is Satan’s arm to influence the hearts and lives of people. He is the lord of the ‘world’ (Luke 4:7; 2 Corinthians 4:4) and works to portray his enmity to God and all God’s people. He wants to control the lives of God’s children and influence them to live in a worldly manner. He uses his entire arsenal to enslave us so that we would no longer create any spiritual impact in his world for God. He uses the same techniques against us which he once used against our Master (Luke 4:1-13). So let’s beware, lest he defeats us, neutralizes our testimonies and tarnishes our Christ-like image. 

The ‘world’ is a systemic entity that exists in the hearts, minds, paradigms, patterns, priorities, likes, dislikes, philosophies, goals, aspirations, strategies and programs of the natural man who lives on the face of the earth. It spreads over all the political, economic, psycho-social, biological, educational, technological, commercial and religious arenas of human life and activity in covert and overt manner. It penetrates into all human thinking and decision making. Its outward expression is reflected in materialism. Its focus is on the temporal. Its ultimate objective is destruction of the soul. It sells ‘free’ tickets for the vanity fair, but hides the fact that there is no exit once you enter.  

In the world, but not of the world!

               

                It is interesting to note that God has placed His children in the world controlled by Satan. God wants them to here to testify to His power and victory He grants His children over Satan and his world. Our place in the world is portrayed in the Bible in three distinct ways. They are:

1.       The Christian is from the world, but he is not of the world (John 17: 6, 14 & 16)

2.       The Christian is taken out of the world, but is kept in the world to represent God (John 17: 18)

3.       The Christian is in the world, but is separated from the world (2 Timothy 4:10, James 1:27, James 4:4, 1 John 2:15-17, 1 John 4:5 & 17)

This world with its systems is a comprehensive way of thinking, attitude and action promoted and controlled by Satan. Its corrupt system of iniquity is portrayed by Satan’s very character. It is reflected through rebellion, corrupt values, sinful cravings, filthy culture, ungodly traditions, destructive reforms, hypocritical religiosities, secular humanism, ambitious business ideologies, self-righteous social actions and moral degradation.

The world system uses all its tactics to tempt Christian disciples to its parlors. It makes its temporal reward systems so attractive as to manipulate the disciple to drift away from the narrow way which is the way of the cross (Matthew 16:24). It tries to attract the disciple to enjoy life of both worlds, just as it tempted Gehazi, Achen, Demas, Judas Iscariot, Cain and Balaam and eventually destroyed their lives. Today the world and Satan strive to capture God’s children of all age groups, and most especially the young disciples.

Claims: Christ’s or the world’s!

       

The claims of Christ on the life of a disciple are an indicator of his love for the Master (John 21:15). The cross of Christ demands from the disciple all that he is and has. He is challenged to forsake all to follow the Lord Jesus who forsook all in Heaven to come down to this earth to die for him (Luke 14:25-35). A true disciple’s loyalty is primarily and ultimately to Jesus Christ, His cross and His kingdom. Naturally then the disciple can no longer be loyal to this ‘world’ which is inimical to Christ. The disciple is challenged to show his love to Jesus Christ by making Him the highest priority in life. So he rejects bluntly and boldly all the approaches and styles of the world which come from Satan, its lord.

It is the affinity a person has for the world and its materialistic realm that is called the ‘love of the world’. The disciple is mandated to prove with his life how he rejects the love for the world (James 4:4). The ‘world’ will always try to lure him to itself by offering to make him rich, popular, prominent and prestigious. But it would be utterly impossible for the true disciple to live in love with the world and what if offers. He would be ever careful to keep away from all subtle ways of the world to make him love the world. He would refuse to drink from its mirages and broken cisterns or eat at its gourmets which would make him spiritually sick. The true disciple would have no desire for the entertainment and intellectualism that the world offers. The world’s rewards are what it gives us after draining us of all our energies to promote its own cause through employment or business. But the cross of Christ demands that these energies ought to be used for the Lord and His cause so that we can receive our rewards in Heaven.   

The true disciple recognizes the tactics used by the world to lure him into its pathways. He will have to develop the spiritual capacity to keep away from the world’s strategies to take him away from the narrow path of discipleship. He resents world’s attractions which try to work through his five senses to slowly, but steadily make him its slave. The powerful persuasions of the world mesmerize the disciple to control his thoughts, aspirations and priorities after the temporal glories the world offers. He resists these influences of the world in the power of the Spirit of God.  He prays to God to reveal to his heart the deceptions of worldliness that try to creep into his life. God will then give him the grace to distinguish between the spiritual and the carnal, the temporal and the eternal, the earthly and heavenly and the worldly and supernatural.  

Tough Choices

 The disciple makes cardinal choices which will portray him as the true follower of Jesus Christ. It takes several challenging forms.

a.       He blatantly disregards the fear and apprehension that the world will call him a ‘religious fanatic’ and a person of ‘strange character’ because he rejects the intelligent and profitable avenues the world offers to get riches, recognition, popularity, prominence and prestige.

b.      He resists the temptation to live for the world’s opinions, traditions, public recognition and appreciation at any cost.

c.       He willingly suffers rejection, loss, reproach and ridicule from the world for resenting opportunities to get the world’s acceptance.

d.      He bluntly refuses to be controlled with materialistic and filthy lucre, but deliberately chooses to live by faith, believing that his Master will meet all his needs.

e.      He will not give the world opportunity to claim that it made him rich, but live contended with what God gives him daily.

f.        He is unwilling to follow the philosophies and strategies of the successful people of this world, but instead live as a fool of Jesus Christ, never wanting worldly success and prosperity.

g.       He refuses to go after the attractions of the vanity fair to quench his inner cravings, but solely lean on the Spirit of God to satisfy his every craving.

h.      He has no desire for public praise from the world, but craves to live in humility and brokenness.

i.         He uses all his treasures, talents and time for the cause of Christ.

j.        He does nothing to promote his self-esteem or be a smart person.

k.       He has no craving for the comforts and luxuries of the world, and willingly chooses to live in austerity.

l.         It suffices him to have sufficient to eat and drink and purposely keeps away from amassing wealth for a bright future.

m.    He rejects the world’s avenues to pamper the self through rest, leisure and pleasure.

n.      He deliberately chooses a lifestyle to deny himself of all that the self can rightfully enjoy in this world.  

A Revolutionary Life

                A disciple values everything in this world on the basis of the claims of Christ on him. He will boldly follow his spiritual vision about his Master and live to follow His example. His allegiance is to the Master for whom he is ready to forsake all that he has including his life. He is no fool to hold on to what he is sure to lose in this world. He is keen to hold on to what he will never lose in the other world. He considers the world as his foe even when it appears in friendly attire with luring smiles. He takes a public stand against the world with spiritual boldness. He is an example to other believers as a true disciple of the Master (1 Timothy 4:12). The claims of Christ demand a revolutionary life and lifestyle from him to please the Master and none else.

Comfort for the Weary Soul: Hope for Dust and Ash

“Comfort for the Weary Soul”

Hope for Dust and Ash!

Psalms 113:7 – (The Lord) raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap.

Dust and ash are substances without much value or hope. No one would expect anything good to come from it. It is unthinkable to convert dust or ash into anything useful. Dust and ash are forgotten and despised by all. Those who dwell in dust and on ash heap do not have any hope. They are a forgotten set of people, rejected, resented and devalued by all around. They are scattered around when wind or storms of circumstances and situations blow over it. No force on earth can bring it back to its original place. But God visits these dust and ash heaps to pick up the forgotten people to see what He can make out of their hopeless lives. The God of hope comes to those who dwell in dust and ash heap to give them hope for a bright future. They are told that there is no need for them to feel hopeless and continue to feel lost in the dust and ash of their cumbersome circumstances. God visits the poor and needy in their hopeless situations and cheers them up with a message of hope that He will give them a bright future. He alone can transform the lives of those who dwell in dust and ashes and make princes and princesses out of them. They are invited to come and become the children of the heavenly King. Their position, prospects and potential are changed when they accept God into their lives. Such transformation is unthinkable without God. When God looks at a person, He always sees what the future will hold for them rather than what transpired in their lives in the yesteryear.

A person’s usability to God doesn’t depend on his background or his past life, but on his willingness to submit to God to make him what God wants him to be. God can put hope in all unusable and written off lives through His enabling and equipping power. All whom God has used in the past have come from humble background. He fills only the empty vessels. He remolds and redesigns the ruined, broken and shapeless. He took David the forgotten shepherd boy and made a king out of him. He took a schemer like Jacob and made him prince with God. He took a heathen widow like Ruth and made her the great grandmother of Jesus. He took a bunch of ordinary fishermen and made great Apostles out of them to turn their world upside down. Yes, our God is the God of impossibilities. He brings water and even honey from the rock. In His compassion, He makes the poor to rise from the dust of ruin and meets the needs of those who are on the ash heaps of frustration. He knows all our needs and situations and meets those needs and lifts us up from the dunghills of life. He has enough resources to meet all our physical, financial, spiritual and emotional needs. He always responds to the needy and the poor who go to Him asking for help.

Dear friend, are you dwelling in dust and on ash heaps of frustration and hopelessness today? Are you feeling purposelessness in life in your hopeless situations? Have you been experiencing rejection and resentment from all around? Is there a wind of despondency and despair beating brutally against you? Are you afraid that some cruel winds of circumstances might blow on you and scatter you without any base or foundation? But today you have the privilege to meet the God of all circumstances and possibilities who turns the prospects of the most hopeless dust and ash dwellers into partners with God for accomplishing His purposes in this world and in the lives of others.  God’s message comes to tell you that there is hope for you. You should not give up or quit, but should meet God who invites you to give you hope for tomorrow and to meet all your needs. He is bothered that you have been dwelling on the hopeless dust and ash because of your past experiences. But God is able to change your situation and make it useful for Him in this world. Remember, He sees your future if you entrust it with Him to remold. When we become His, our lives will be transformed with His power and enabling to accomplish what He equips us for. Then we become instruments in His hands to do what He wants us to do. There is no reason for us to become disillusioned because we are rejected and resented as dust and ash by those around us. Let our lives be given to God for His transforming work in us for His glory. He shows pity on us and our situation of dust and ash heap and will pick us up, clean us up and clothe us with His robe of dignity. He will carry us in His hands and keep us close to His heart. We can be rest assured that our God can change our situation and make us enjoy our position with Him in perfect fellowship, peace and joy. Let our prayer today be that God take hold of our lives and remold us to become instruments of His love and care.

Truth that challenges us to exercise our faith:
   When God puts His power into dust and ash, it becomes a channel of blessings.
 
Truth to meditate upon
  When we hand our lives of dust and ash over to God, He makes us living stones of splendor and grace for His glory.  

PSALMS IN THE DAY TIME! PSALMS AT NIGHT!!

PSALMS IN THE MORNING! PSALMS AT NIGHT! PSALMS OF DELIGHT! PSALMS OF DEVOTION!

A Psalm is a song of a special kind sung by God’s people on different occasions to meet challenges, face situations, handle people, go through unfamiliar circumstances, see unpredictability, and look through dark clouds and when patience drains down to ground level. It springs up in the heart out of nowhere as it is given to the longing hearts of the singers. It flows from the heart when songs are impossible and unnatural. When life is overwhelming, a Psalm springs up to comfort the singer and the listener to keep going no matter what the circumstances are. It waters the dry ground of human heart. It soothes the bruised reeds and smoldering wicks of a human life. It sends shock waves of cool breeze to calm the sea of life with its tempests and tornadoes. It opens the blind eyes to see the light of faith and the open doors. It strengthens the weak and puts hope in the eyes of the hopeless. It brings the homeless to the Father’s Home to dwell there to enjoy security and serenade. A ‘Psalm’ is a never ending and ever repeated poem of love and devotion to your Lord, a musical cantata with its intermissions and selah for praises and hallelujahs, a soft guzzle song for your meditative moments, a poetic mystery and a rhythm that needs eternity to interpret its emotions, a tune on the wings of the heavenly dove, an overwhelming sound of gasping of your soul in the dark valleys of life and the loud shout at the impossibilities of this world in the power of God. It is the melody of the soul and is full of medley of responses to situational experiences. It shatters all human myths and impossibilities. It is a positive volcano of unquenchable fire of love with unfathomable power to ignite emotions to help forget the situations to keep going. It’s been the songs in the night for the weary souls through the last four millennia, but its origin has been eternal because it is part of the eternally secured Logos. It touches you and me today to face the uncertain tomorrows of the New Year.

A Psalm is for the young and the old; for the child and the aged; for the sick and the healthy; for the bride and the groom as they build up a world of their own; for the child born with hope to live in a hopeless world and environment; for the busy and the lazy; for the poor and the wealthy; for the needy and the pseudo satisfied; it’s for all and sundry; it’s for you and me today as we face challenges of life. It is an eternally creative gift from the Sovereign Lord to fill us with Himself to meet all challenges in life.

Start the day and the year with a Psalm and get your every imagination shattered, positive or negative, in its fire to see a new light at the end of your tunnel to keep going! Make it your song in the darkest night, prayer on your sleepless bed, hymn on the sea billows of life, poem of worship to His Majesty the King of your life, testimony of the way He leads you by day and night and the exciting story of your life.

What do we do without a Psalm today!!

THE LORD’S SUPPER: SEMANTICS & SYNONYMS


The Lord’s Supper: 
Confusions of Semantics and Synonyms

 Introduction
The Lord’s Supper is often mistaken for the Lord’s Table due to semantics and synonyms. The Lord Jesus and the Apostles spoke clearly about His Supper and showed how it is to be observed. In spite of such Biblical clarity, our minds get cluttered in words and wrong practices which often emanate from traditions and lack of careful study of the Word. There are many who link the Lord’s Supper with ministries and even leadership roles rather than allow it to capture our minds and spirits and get ourselves lost in the wonder and awe of the greatness of the cross and the death of the Savior. Many often equate the ‘Lord’s Supper’ with the ‘Lord’s Table’ and give undue importance to the furniture and the settings of the table. Others think that worship is impossible without the ‘Table’ and confuse between worship and remembrance. Many go away from remembrance meetings without adequately remembering our Lord, His sufferings, His death and resurrection as their thoughts center on the Table and all the blessings the Lord has for us on His Table. 

The Lord wanted us to remember Him in more ways than one. He wanted us to remember what He has taught us and asked us to practice it to challenge the world and its ways. He wanted us to remember and proclaim His death and confess it in our lives by the observance of the Supper. At the same time, He has invited us to His table to partake in all that He has prepared for us all the days of our lives. These are distinctly different and distinguishable, yet there are truths which bind together if we meditate on it with expediency and devotional dynamism. He

Why the confusion?

The common confusion about the ‘table’ and the ‘supper’ originates from the similarities that we read in 1 Corinthians 10 about the bread and the cup in relation to His Table while the same elements mentioned in all passages related to the Lord’s Supper in the Gospels and in 1 Corinthians 11. It is true that both the supper and the table belong to the Lord and His people are the partakers of both. Both indicate privileges and responsibilities. These similarities make some think that they are one and the same. But if the table and the supper denote the same truth, why has the Holy Spirit used different words? Is there any possible difference between the two? Is it possible to understand the truth that is embodied in both, distinguish them carefully and experience both uniquely?

Blessings and Remembrance

1 Corinthians 10:16 speaks about blessings that we receive from the table of the Lord. So it is profitable to understand what is meant by ‘table’ in this and other passages in the Bible. As a matter of fact, we read about the ‘table’ of the Lord in many passages in the Old Testament to which Paul connects as he wrote to the Corinthians (1 Corinthians 10:1-3). Though the Table of the Lord is mentioned in both the Testaments, the Lord’s Supper is a truth that is taught, commanded and practiced in the New Testament only. The Lord spoke about the portion of the priests at the altar as the table of the Lord (Malachi 1:7, 12) which the priests were given to enjoy. Psalms 23:5 speaks about the table the Lord prepares for us. That table contains all the spiritual blessings that the Lord has in store for us as we tread the enemy territory. The table in the wilderness prepared by the Lord is spoken about in Deuteronomy 8:3, Psalms 78:19 and in Proverbs 9:2. In all these situations, the table speaks about the provisions, care and blessings that the Lord has for His people. Here the idea of wooden furniture is not at all envisaged, although sometimes even a literal table, like that of David from where Mephibosheth ate, can be seen as a physical illustration. Thus we see ‘table’ as a generic expression of all that the Lord gives to His children on a daily basis in terms of His care, caring, provisions and blessings. This is what Paul refers to in 1 Corinthians 10.

The Lord’s Table is for us to partake, enjoy and receive as we fellowship from it. It is what we receive from the Lord. Is that what we do at the Lord’s Supper? Not at all! The Lord’s Supper is not a time of receiving any blessing from the Lord, but a time to remember and proclaim the Lord and His death (1 Corinthians 11:24-26).

The Lord’s Supper is observed as often as we gather to remember the Lord (1 Corinthians 11:26) and proclaim His death. We read that it was being observed on the first day of the week (Acts 20:7), largely to commemorate the day of resurrection of our Lord. The Jewish day was from twilight to twilight which is why Paul preached till midnight which caused the sleeping Eutychus to fall down and die. But there is no mention of a particular time or day to gather at the Lord’s Table because we are always at His Table to receive all that He has spread before us. As we draw near, we don’t  need to do anything physically to draw from a physical table, but appropriate from a spiritual table that is full of all His goodness spread before us for as long as we are in this life and will extend to all eternity.

Remember how the Lord’s Table is differentiated from the table of demons (1 Corinthians 10:18-21) that the idolaters draw from! But we do not see any such distinctions about the Lord’s Supper which is solely set up by us to remember our Lord and to proclaim His death.

It is also interesting to distinguish the order given at the Lord’s Table and that of the Lord’s Supper. At the Lord’s Table, we have the cup first and then the bread whereas at the Lord’s Supper, we first take the bread and then the cup (Matthew 26:26-28; 1 Corinthians 11:24 & 25). The significance of this distinction is pertinent. The blessings of the Lord’s Table with all His care and provisions come to us through His shed blood and so we draw near unto the Table of the Lord through His shed blood. But when we come to the Lord’s Supper, we remember the Lord first by breaking and eating from the bread. The bread reminds us of the persecution that the Lord endured in His body, and how He was crushed and mutilated by men at first and then crushed in the hands of the Father during the three hours of darkness. Afterwards we remember His shed blood through the wine which was the purchase price of our salvation and how when the whole blood was shed, His life was completely given for us.

Let us also note that the Table of the Lord is invisible and that we enjoy all the blessings that the Lord spreads before us by faith. But the Lord’s Supper comprises of the visible bread and cup of wine which we see and partake of physically. We are asked to observe the Lord’s Supper, but there is no commandment to observe the Lord’s Table which is a continuous spiritual experience of all believers.We receive from the Lord’s Table all that the Lord gives us, but the Lord’s Supper is a time when we remember the Lord, His sufferings, His death and Resurrection till He returns for His Church. So the Lord’s Table is a continuous experience of receiving and enjoying what the Lord grants to all His children whereas the Lord’s Supper is heavenward from our hearts when remembrance and thanksgiving go up from our hearts. As we remember Him, we cannot but worship Him for what He is and what He has done for us.

Interestingly it is the Lord who invites all His children to His Table and gives them all His blessings all the time. They come and draw from His Table and get themselves enriched to live as His children. But the Church has the responsibility to administer the Lord’s Supper and even keep the visibly unworthy persons from partaking of it (1 Corinthians 5:11-12). 

It is also true that the bread at the Lord’s Table denote all believers and their unity as one body of Christ. But at the Lord’s Supper, we remember the broken body of our Lord as we partake of the bread. This is a serious distinction as we draw near the Lord’s Supper to remember Him.

The Bible warns all who ‘live’ in an unworthy manner as they enjoy the blessings made available to them at the Lord’s Table (1 Corinthians 10:21), but those who ‘eat and drink’ in an unworthy manner at the Lord’s Supper are warned of dire consequences (1 Corinthians 11:29).

The Whole Truth

Every child of God is expected to bear witness to these truths and must clearly distinguish between the Lord’s Table and the Lord’s Supper and partake of both in full significance and keep away from fallacies and fads which the enemy brings to confuse us. We must give thanks to the Lord at His Supper for everything that He has done for us on the cross. We must also gratefully enjoy all the spiritual provisions that He has filled His Table with so that we will all be enriched in every aspect of our Christian life day by day.

SAVED AND BE SURE OF IT!


Saved and Be Sure of It!


A well known evangelist, along with a few others, was invited to a believer’s home after the evening’s Gospel Meeting. After dinner, while all were exchanging pleasantries, the host softly requested the evangelist to go with him to their bed room for a brief chat. As they both entered the room, the host’s wife was waiting there. So the evangelist thought that probably they had some family concerns and that they expected him to help them resolve it. But when the door of the room was closed, the host told the evangelist that of late, his wife developed confusions and doubts about her salvation and that he could not remove her doubts in spite of great efforts. To the evangelist’s utter dismay, the host concluded by saying that as a result of discussing and handling his wife’s doubts and confusions, it seemed that he also started developing doubts about his salvation.

You are not alone!

All human beings face the reality of doubts and confusions at some time in their lives. Believers also sometimes develop doubts about their faith. Abraham was faced with doubts about God’s promises a few times. Elijah’s faith was shaken when Jezebel threatened him. Many of the Psalms of David indicate doubts and confusion as he was confronted by the enemies. The disciples of Jesus sometimes had doubts which they raised with Him. So doubts are a reality in human lives, but we do not need to live in doubt and perpetuate it. We should not allow doubts to enslave us. We must get our doubts cleared and live victoriously.

The Enemy’s Ploy

There are many believers who are confronted with doubts and confusions about their salvation. This is often a tactic used by the enemy of our souls to shatter our faith, drain our joy and make us backslide. That’s why the Holy Spirit instructed us through Paul that we must always wear the helmet of salvation when engaged in Christian warfare (Ephesians 6:17). The enemy knows that if he can shake the very foundation of our faith which is the salvation of our souls, then it would be easier for him make us coldhearted towards the Lord, His Church and His Word. So we are instructed to examine ourselves (2 Corinthians 13:5) to make sure about our faith. Regular self examination is foundational to our Christian life. 

This self-examination is not for the Lord, for His knows His own (John 10:14 & 27; Romans 8:16; 2 Timothy 2:19). It is for our confirmation and confidence (Lamentation 3:40) so that we will be able to draw nigh unto the Lord with courage and boldness when the enemy tries to shake our confidence in the salvation we have experienced. Then only we will be able to witness to others that we are saved and are children of God and that we are eternally secured in Him.

Genuine Self-examination

There are three groups of people who develop doubts and confusions about their salvation. The first group includes people who are not genuinely saved, but have a feeling that they are saved. They would have lifted up their hands at a gospel meeting or filled the columns in a booklet about salvation sometime in the past and have a feeling or impression that they are born again. Such people ought to face the following questions and find satisfying answers:

    Do I remember the moments when I got saved? 

   Did I experience guilt of sinfulness at the time I got saved and repent of it all?

Did I truly confess my sins and agree with God that I am a sinner and deserved only God’s punishment of eternal hell?

   Did I confess that the death of the Lord Jesus on the cross of Calvary was in my place as the only way to save me from my sins?

Did I truly receive the Lord Jesus into my heart as my Savior and Lord?  

  Am I walking in the newness of life and enjoying the inner witness and assurance that I am going to heaven? 

When a person who has doubts about his salvation examines himself on the basis of these questions, it will be clear whether he is genuinely saved or not. If there is still doubt, these questions will help him to get saved and be sure about it once and for all.

Doubts are Human

Secondly there are those who have genuine human doubts about their salvation. Such doubts often come as we are aware of our failures and inadequacies. But such doubtful occasions are for us to draw closer to the Lord, get confirmation about our salvation from His Word and be reassured.

The doubting backsliders

The third group with doubts and confusions about their salvation are those who are backslidden. It starts with carnality in life and repeated sins (1 Corinthians 2:3). They try to live victoriously, but for various reasons they are unable to get victory over sins. Then they wonder whether they are genuinely saved or not. These doubts overpower them and tend to make them believe that perhaps they are not truly saved. Doubts further lead them to lose their fervor for the Lord, His Word and for spiritual things. They slowly lose their first love for the Lord Jesus (Revelation 2:4). As a result, they do not enjoy fellowship and thus miss the gatherings of the assembly for prayer and the study of the Word. They continue in sin and lose the joy of their salvation (Psalms 51:12). They have poor or no desire for the Word which stunts their spiritual growth and drains their strength to resist sin. They lose spiritual discernment as the Spirit of God is grieved and sometimes quenched (2 Corinthians 2:14). Public witness becomes an embarrassment for them. They fall into a deeper love for the world and the things in it (James 4:4).

There’s a Way Back to God!

To the backslidden persons, the Word of God says that there is always a way back to God. It is possible only if we genuinely confess our sins, as did King David and Apostle Peter. The Lord Jesus is faithful, then, to forgive our sins, reestablish the joy of our salvation and help us grow spiritually. He is our advocate before the Father to argue our case and grant forgiveness for all our failures and weaknesses (1 John 1:7 & 9; 2:1-2; Psalms 32:1).

Baptism: A critical time!

The Bible teaches us that we can be truly and genuinely saved and that we can be sure of it. When we are genuinely saved and experience the joy of our salvation, we will be helped by the Holy Spirit to live a victorious Christian life. It is this victory that we publicly declare at the time of baptism. So it is important that every candidate for baptism is helped to find assurance of salvation before getting baptized.  

Divine Assurance

God wants to assure all His children all the time about their salvation and help them to enjoy their position as God’s children with all the privileges attached to it. Let us appropriate and appreciate such a great salvation all the days of our lives.     

RELATIONSHIP @ WORKPLACE


Relationships @ Workplace:

Timeless yet Timely Challenges!


The Prelude

Once a commander-in-chief went to war and returned with great victory. The whole nation was in jubilation and welcomed their hero with pomp and pageantry. As he marched the streets of the capital city, some of the girls in the community sang to felicitate him. They praised the commander and pictured his greatness to be ten times that of their king himself. This invited jealousy and wrath from the king and irritated him greatly. Subsequently the commander lost his position and was brought to a lower position. The king couldn’t put up with the high acceptance the commander found among his countrymen. But the commander had the grace to willingly accept the demotion and worked in the lower rank with humility. The commander in this story is David who later replaced the king himself (1 Samuel 18:6-13).

Bible characters like Daniel, the three Hebrew youth and Joseph also encountered such reprisals at workplace, but they received abundance of grace to handle their situations with humility. They exhibited their spiritually transformed personalities at the workplace and received acceptance from God. They never tried to seek after recognition from the world by making their conscience pawns in the hands of circumstances. We also find civil servants like Nehemiah putting the interest of God at the workplace high and kept their testimony bright and powerful as they stood their ground with humility and firmness. 

Biblical perspective of any relationship, at workplace or elsewhere, is bound by the extent of grace enjoyed by God’s children who prove their faith through attitudes and corresponding actions. They never bother about winning earthly wars, but are keen to exhibit faith and trust in God to rule and overrule their situations for His glory. They are assured by the Bible that there will be adequate grace to resolve conflicts at the workplace and help to take conflicts above human level. It is well understood that relationships are multidimensional and as such complex and thus prone to conflicts. There are resultant ego clashes and covert or overt encounters which make situations counterproductive and make individuals disillusioned. Conflicts create undue stress in all who are directly and indirectly involved and make the work atmosphere cumbersome and cluttered. It leads to inefficiency and waste of resources. Workers lose their peace in such situations and will find it difficult to enjoy work atmosphere. But for all such puzzling scenarios, the Bible has answers to lead us to a satisfying work life.  

Handling or getting subdued?

                Christians are invariably both employers and employees. Christian employers are executives in managerial cadre but are also employees in a general sense. But they are viewed as employers by their subordinates because they represent the owners or management. These Christian executives are bound to please their bosses by producing best possible results with the cooperation and support of their subordinates who are invariably unbelievers. Subordinates normally expect undue considerations and favours from the boss. When they are unable to meet such expectations, workplace relations become sour. Such situations pose several practical and ethical questions which need to be addressed. Do the Christian employees have the responsibility to support, obey, pray and please the unbeliever boss? Are the demands and expectations of the Christian employees a reflection of their Biblical values? How would the Christian boss meet the challenging expectations of the subordinates who are unbelievers? How would the Christian boss handle Union tactics like strikes and work-to-rule? The Bible provides answers to such questions and demands total compliance (Ephesians 6:5-7). At the same time, these situations will have to be handled in its context with wisdom from God.

                The Christian employer is admonished by the Bible to avoid favouritism, bias and particularism of all sorts and exhibit a spirit of friendliness and kindness rather than use tactics like threats, spying and resentment. Negative strategies will only invite suspicion, doubt and confrontation which would tarnish his Christian testimony at the workplace (Ephesians 6:9). We must understand that such worldly tactics come from the flesh and is often a result of physical, emotional or organizational insecurity. The Christian must guard against fleshly tactics and must try to influence the work atmosphere to make it one of mutual trust and support. Thus when the atmosphere becomes less tense, people and organizations become more productive which will lead to higher levels of performance and reduced cost. The Christian bosses and subordinates need to understand that they are called to exhibit Christ-likeness in actions and attitudes at the workplace as much as elsewhere (like home or church). It is true that heaven looks for spiritual behavior from the Christian at the workplace when the world looks for intellectual and emotional smartness. The devil is engaged in a battle for our minds so that we would fall into double life, one at workplace and a different one at religious and family circles. But this is resented by the Bible very strongly. We who are partakers of the divine nature and recipients of grace from God have no option to follow two masters at the same time, but must acknowledge Jesus Christ as our sole Master in all spheres of our lives (Matthew 6:24). So our work behavior, as in other arenas of life, gives us the opportunity to examine ourselves to determine to what extent we are controlled by the Spirit of God and how much we excel in producing the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:19-25). We are asked to examine to see whether we are in faith or not (2 Corinthians 13:5) and to make amends.

                It is interesting to see Apostle Paul admonishing Christian employees and employers about workplace relationships immediately after speaking about getting filled with the Spirit of God (Ephesians 5:19-20). Soon after talking about workplace behavior, he goes on to warn Christians about spiritual warfare and the need to pray for spiritual energy to fight (Ephesians 6:10-18).This pattern of divine instruction is somewhat repeated when Paul wrote to Colossians as well (Chapter 3).  These instructions demand total allegiance from us in our behavior at the workplace as much as in all other spheres of activity. In other words, we are to handle all challenges in our work relationships with the fullness of the Spirit and exhibit the fruit of the Spirit in all dealings with our bosses and subordinates. It includes all our words and body language (1 John 4:17b). Christ likeness might invite ridicule from our coworkers. We might become failures at the work situation when we use Christian values and motives in all our relationships. But we will be rewarded with blessings by our God for following the instructions in His Word that we ought to obey all authority at the work situation (Ephesians 6:7-8). 

Handling Ungodly Demands

                Pressure to comply with ungodly instructions by the unbeliever boss can be highly intimidating and causes great concern. The believer’s conscience is pricked when asked to compromise on quality, service, promotion and advertisement. The believer is often used as an instrument or becomes a prey to nepotism, favouritism, corrupt practices, exaggeration, victimization and suppression of facts. If we stand for the truth and do not comply, it affects our career prospects and even our job. But complying with such practices is against our conscience and acts against the biblical principles we hold. It is a greater challenge to communicate such convictions to the authorities. It is at this juncture that our hearts ought to dwell on fruit of the Spirit. Here we must stand firm and present our convictions with respect, humility and love and guard against the tendency to engage in covert or overt warfare with the boss or the organization in such circumstances, but show true Christian character. Daniel and the three Hebrew Youth stand out as prime example in the way they handled king’s ungodly demands and politely and humbly stood their ground. They were driven by faith and trust in the Lord to look after their life and future while they stood strong in their faith. Joseph of Arimathea on the other hand did not want to take a public stand on his faith in Jesus until Jesus was crucified, thus lost the opportunity of 42 months to be with Jesus.

Submission vis-à-vis Surrender of Faith

                Handling bosses who are harsh taskmasters and working under oppression requires extra grace. In authority-oriented cultures, working can be very frustrating. But plenty of joy and peace will be available for us for the asking as we employ the whole armor of God and fight the devil who tries to engage us in dirty warfare. Our motive in such circumstances should not be one of wanting to win by using dubious means, but to use God’s instruments and draw from His energy to fight through prayer (Ephesians 6:7-8). When we follow the instructions of the Word in our dealings with our bosses or subordinates, the Lord will deal with the unkind as appropriately (Colossians 3:25).

Ethical Issues @ Workplace

                The Christian employee should be above reproach in complying with rules and regulations and exhibit highest standards of work ethic. He should comply with punctuality and promptness to meet deadlines. He should desist from pilferage of all kind and should not have shadow warfare with the boss. He should desist from the use of employers’ resources for personal purposes, like telephone, transport, computer and the like. We are not expected to make personal gains at the expense of the employer and make people say that we are made rich by our employer (Genesis 14:22-24).

                When we are called upon to suffer under brutal and unkind employers, we have the prerogative to continue there until the Lord opens another door for us. It then is a time for us to learn patience and to live above our circumstances. These difficult job situations will be used by God to mold us to be strong and teach us to live by faith and trust God to look after us. It is then that we prove our righteousness as God’s children and live to comply with work norms even when we are resented. We must desist from negligence and cause undue delay in work. These are tactics of the flesh which we should keep away from. We should still be loyal, fair and considerate to the boss and the organization. Employers are also strongly admonished by the Word not to ill-treat employees, underpay and mistreat them because these will invite the wrath of God (James 5:4; Colossians 4:1).

                We should not forget the fact that there is divine reward for genuine faithfulness and earning the trust of our employers (Ephesians 6:8). These rewards are not spelt out but will pleasantly surprise us at unexpected times and in unusual forms. But we should be motivated to serve to get God’s acceptance and intangible rewards like internal peace and maintenance of testimony. We must be diligent and faithful and leave our future with God who will not forsake us (Colossians 3:24).

A Challenge to Respond! 

                The Bible guarantees honour and respect for a servant who looks after the affairs of the employer diligently (Proverbs 27:18). At the same time a Christian boss is like the shepherd of his employees to nourish, strengthen and develop them to reach the highest level of potential. In our unrighteous world, the Christian must draw upon God’s power through His Word and Spirit to fight the battles of the workplace as he serves God. May we take such a challenge and handle all its ramifications through battles in prayer for strength, patience and prudence! Remember! Your work situation is God’s way to take glory through you as you build up your relationships at work to serve and to lead for eternal consequences. Your response opens the doors for newer pathways filled with divine possibilities.


                 
             

YOUR QUESTIONS AND MY RESPONSE

Question: Help to understand a difficult context
     What is the meaning of Matthew 26:38? What does Jesus mean by saying ‘stay here and keep watch with me’?
When Jesus appointed the Twelve, it was His desire that they will be with Him till the end (Mark 3:14–15). He wanted the Twelve to be with Him even as He went through the Gethsemane experience. He wanted them to keep their fellowship with Him till the end. He was lonely and felt all alone and wanted His disciples to be with Him during His hours of trial. In spite of the knowledge He had that they will all run away from Him at the height of His difficulties, He still wanted them to be with Him for as long as they could. The word used here is “watch” with me and it literally means to abstain from sleep. He also wanted them to be vigilant or guard against danger. It also means to sympathize with Him, to unite with Him in seeking divine support for the ‘hour’ to pass and to prepare them for approaching dangers. But what we see is that they all slept while their Master suffered agony in Gethsemane and when He was arrested, they all ran away from Him.  At the finest hour, He was all alone to suffer and be crucified. He stood alone in front of the rulers and the religious leaders, carried the cross all alone and faced all challenges, despising, mockery and physical persecution and finally the three hours of darkness all alone. 
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YOUR QUESTIONS AND MY RESPONSE

Question on help in understanding basic truth
What is “MIND OF CHRIST”?
The Mind of Christ is what and how Christ thinks about everything around Him and translates these thoughts into action. He loved us and so He gave Himself for us totally. He humbled Himself and became a servant and so He demonstrated it by washing the feet of the disciples, fed the hungry and healed the sick. He was willing to give up all His heavenly glory and live like a poor man who had no place to lay His head and never murmur about it. He obeyed the Father in everything without questioning. He always acted under the power and control of the Spirit of God. He came to serve and never expected anything in return. He accepted the needy and kept company with those whose lives needed His touch. Christ was fully in the mind of God and we can only learn from Him to renew our spirits to develop such a mind, thinking, desires and priorities. Christ’s mind was demonstrated in action and we see His divine attitude in everything that He did and said. We are to develop such a MIND by spending time with Christ, talking to Him and be under His Spirit. (Please read Philippians 2:2-7 and Hebrews 3:1). It is knowing what Christ would do in all situations and try to follow suit. When such a desire to act like Christ freely flows from our hearts, we would be close to having the mind of Christ. It is a slow process and we develop His mind as we walk with Him on a daily basis with the help of His Word and Spirit.
Send your questions to todayintheword@gmail.com and the answers will be posted on the blog.
You may receive confidential Bible based counseling on real life issues by writing to todayintheword@gmail.com