Inheriting the promises of God

PromiseGod gave amazing promises to men. He told Abraham “I will make you a great nation, I will bless you. I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you, I will curse. Through you every family on earth will be blessed.” (Gen 12:2,3 GW). Joseph dreamt that the sun, moon and eleven stars bowed down to him (Gen 37:9). David was anointed king over Israel when King Saul was reigning (1 Samuel 16:13). But these men had to patiently wait in faith for the fulfilment of their promises: Abraham for 25 years, Joseph for 29 years and David for around 15 years.

Waiting is not meant only for Old Testament heroes. The Christians to whom the epistle of Hebrews was originally written had endured a lot of hardship and pain, were publicly insulted, mistreated and their property was violently seized from them (Hebrews 10:32-34). They were not asked to pray more or run to others for prayer nor were they asked to keep speaking and claiming the promises as popularised by the Word of Faith movement. Though these are not wrong, the Biblical advice given to them was to wait! They were told in Hebrews 10:35-36 (ISV) “Don’t lose your confidence, since it holds a great reward for you. For you need endurance, so that after you have done God’s will you can receive what he has promised.”

Similarly if God has promised you something but you don’t seem to receive it, confirm that you have understood His Word correctly and that there is no sin or disobedience blocking the answer. Seek Godly counsel and prayer and you may find reasons why you haven’t got an answer from God. But in some occasions God may just be asking you to wait! Unfortunately God does not tell us how long the wait will be and He seems to like to give His promises well before the time of fulfilment! God could have delayed giving His promise to Abraham and spared him many years of longing for a son or delayed Joseph’s dream and allowed him to stay longer with his family or delayed David’s anointing so that he did not have to keep running endlessly from King Saul. But God in His infinite wisdom gave the promises early and made these men to wait without a specific timeline. He does this since such testing of faith produces endurance (Jas 1:3). So if you have been made to wait don’t get desperate or give up. Some desperately approach a great number of persons for help and prayer or get frustrated with God. (At least I am guilty of these). You cannot artificially speed up the process. Waiting is not easy and this does not seem to be commonly taught.

God seems to be making me wait. How much ever I pray and seek his face for a very important issue in my life, He doesn’t seem to open any door. A keen reader will note that I have even made references to this waiting in my blog over the years ago in these articles Problems and Christians, I will be with him in trouble and God is not a genie. I have been told that my problem is because I have not done God’s will (i.e., LEF’s view of God’s will). The Daniels of the Laymen’s Evangelical Fellowship say that I need to repent and doors will be opened. Some would feel that because I write against wrong teaching in the Church, trouble has come upon me. But I believe that God’s message to me is “Be still in the presence of the Lord, and patiently wait for Him to act” (Psalm 37:7 NLT) and to be “followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises. (Heb 6:12). This post could probably be more appropriate to me than to my readers!

We start our life as a Christian by faith (John 3:16, Romans 10:9) and we continue to live by faith (Hebrews 10:38). But it is not often taught that along with faith, there is an element of waiting to inherit our promises. Although Abraham waited 25 years, Joseph 29 years and David around 15 years before their promises were fulfilled, in our age we do not always connect inheriting the promises of God with waiting. We seem to prefer to blame it on sin or lack of faith or other reasons and seek out our own solutions. But Hebrews 6:11,12 (ISV) teaches “we want each of you to continue to be diligent to the very end, in order to give full assurance to your hope. Then, instead of being lazy, you will imitate those who are inheriting the promises through faith and patience.

“Be strong and of a good courage” (Joshua 1:6). “We don’t belong with those who turn back and are destroyed. Instead, we belong with those who have faith and are saved.” (Heb 10:35 GW). By waiting, Abraham, Joseph and David saw the fulfilment of God’s amazing promises. Job received double for what he lost. So “endure until your testing is over. Then you will be mature and complete, and you won’t need anything.” (James 1:4 GW).

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Understanding the value of man

CrucifixionOnly the Bible describes God that dies for man. God undergoes an unfair and brutal death to free man from sin and death. “By oppression and judgment he was taken away” (Isaiah 53:8a ESV) and “His appearance was so marred, beyond human semblance, and his form beyond that of the children of mankind” (Isaiah 52:14 ESV). When we see God who sacrifices himself so that we may be saved from our sins and death we understand that the life of every person is very precious.

After going through such a horrifying process to save us, God could force us to follow Him. Instead he says “I am standing at the door and knocking. If anyone listens to my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he will eat with me.” (Revelation 3:20 ISV) “My sheep hear my voice … and they follow me” (John 10:27). When we see God who does not bully or compel, we understand the value of human freedom.

Sadly many do not understand the infinite value of a human being over any other creature. Many do not understand the value that God places on their life. Growing up in a country where animals are worshipped and given undue respect, many have lost respect for human life. Often cows get too much respect and people get killed for transporting them but basic needs of a human like food and water get withheld just because they get labelled as inferior. People are sometimes not free to even choose their religion or a spouse.

Sadly many Christians are not much better than their neighbours and have not understood the value and freedom that God has given man. The Church has not always been able to rise above the wrong values of the society. Even as Jesus said “I do not call you servants anymore” (John 15:15 ISV), we should treat one another with love, respect and with freedom. When India sees the Church implementing this, especially in the rural areas, I believe their eyes will be opened and they will run to the church. They will then demand such respect from the political leaders and government officials and we will have a transformed India.

In this season, may we understand the value of man which made necessary the death and resurrection of our God and be transformed and then transform our society.

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Let Jesus light up India

star-christmas-2“The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined.” Isaiah 9:2 (KJV)

Other than the Jews, no other society knew about the true living God. But after Jesus’ birth, death and resurrection, the light started shining upon the people all over the world. It is believed that Thomas the apostle of Jesus came to India and was martyred here. Although different people continued bringing the gospel to India, the pace picked up after 1500 as trade between Europe and India picked up. Due to the external influence, it was generally considered as a foreign religion. But even after the foreigners left after independence, the light of Christianity continues to illuminate Indian’s hearts, transform lives and cause us to believe on the Lord Jesus. The darkness opposes the light and many are persecuted, even in this season when there are many who want to stop Christians celebrating Christmas. But “the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” John 1:5 (ESV).

Psalm 27:1 says, “The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?” So let us not be fearful of the darkness that tries to overcome us. Even as the light of Jesus is shining across India and over the world, “let’s therefore put aside the actions of darkness and put on the armour of light” Romans 13:12b (ISV) and “clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus, the Messiah, and do not obey your flesh and its desire”Romans 13:14 (ISV).

I wish all my readers a Christmas filled with the light of Christ. Just as the moon lights up the night by reflecting the light of the sun, may we be a light to the dark world by reflecting the light of Jesus.

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Inspiration from the reformation

crossbibleThe quincentenary of the protestant reformation was celebrated recently. Although God inspired many to reform the church, Martin Luther stands out as the man though whom the reformation broke out with force. As taught by the Catholic Church of his time, Martin Luther tried to earn his salvation by penitence, good works, beating himself, sleeping without a blanket in the freezing cold, etc. His conscience was very disturbed by sin that he went to the confessional many times a day. He even took a pilgrimage to Rome and went on his knees whipping himself up the stairs of St. John’s church as it was believed to be the stairs Jesus climbed to stand before Pontius Pilate. But nothing helped him. Having learnt Greek, he read Romans in the original instead of the Latin Vulgate and his eyes were opened through Romans 1:17 “For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith” a quotation from Habakuk 2:4. He realised that it was impossible to attain the righteousness required by God how much ever hard he tried but that when by faith we believe on Jesus, God imputes the perfect righteousness of His Son freely to us. Horrified that this great truth was nowhere to be found and that instead penance and buying of indulgences were taught as a way to be free from sin, Martin Luther posted his 95 theses on the door of his church on 31 October 1517 as a way to stir up discussion. The theses were rejected, challenged by the pope and the Catholic Church but Martin Luther stood by it saying “I cannot recant, for I am subject to the Scriptures I have quoted; my conscience is captive to the Word of God. It is unsafe and dangerous to do anything against one’s conscience. Here I stand. I cannot do otherwise. So help me God. Amen.” This paved way for the nascent reformation to explode and millions of people have accepted the righteousness freely offered by Jesus Christ instead of trying to earn it.

Similar to Luther, I tried to get my salvation un-Biblically. As I attended the services of the Laymen’s Evangelical Fellowship and read and heard countless testimonies, I was deceived into thinking that we are saved when God gives us a verse mentioning that we were saved. I did not understand about why Jesus came to the earth and how by his sinless life, sacrificial death and resurrection I can receive forgiveness of sins and the righteousness of God. I was waiting for God to “give” me a verse and a “feeling” that I was saved. Thankfully this did not work and I learnt that salvation is obtained by faith and that getting a verse involved no faith! This sowed seeds of suspicion over the doctrine of the Laymen’s Evangelical Fellowship although I continued to be involved with them for many more years. Later as I saw the duplicity of the Daniels and certain others, I decided to leave. I was troubled as I saw Christians unable to understand simple truths of the Bible and no public critical views on the Laymen’s Evangelical Fellowship (LEF). So in June 2013, I started this blog with this unusual Greek name. I hoped that many people, especially those in the Laymen’s Evangelical Fellowship (LEF) will be transformed. Sadly my initiative was nowhere as successful as the reformation unleashed 500 years ago but I do believe some eyes have been opened. The quincentenary has stirred me up to continue my writing and that eyes may be opened. Thank you for your encouragement by reading and posing comments, especially “GE”. Do pray that more people will understand the truth and that eyes will be opened.

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Love

Sacrificial love is the hallmark of Christ’s character. Love is giving, and then giving more, and then giving still more. Unless we are broken of our self-centered, self-serving, prideful nature, we cannot give this kind of love.

Charles Stanley, The Blessings of Brokenness

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October 29, 2017 · 4:18 pm

Cult membership

Cult membership is actually a cop out from life. The proselyte who enters a cult thinks he is boldly stepping forward to commit himself wholly for the Lord’s cause. In actual fact, he has unconsciously chosen a way to flee from having to make decisions, to have to stand to the consequences of free choices. He has in effect said to Moses, “Take me back to slavery. I can’t stand freedom out here in the deserts of life. At least I knew how to behave there because everyone told us what to do. I didn’t have to think, I only had to behave.”

– John & Paula Sandford, Transforming the Inner Man

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April 2, 2017 · 9:00 pm

Has the Word become rare in Laymen’s Evangelical Fellowship?

stuartpuraminvitation

God rescued the people of Israel from slavery with mighty wonders and brought them into the Promised Land. But after Joshua and the elders died, “they abandoned the LORD God of their ancestors, who had brought them out of the land of Egypt” (Judges 2:12) and Israel plunged into a dark period of 350 years. The book of Judges contains some of the worst accounts of the degradation in Israel and ends with the sad note that “each person did whatever seemed right in his own opinion”. “The LORD would speak unto Moses face to face, as anyone would speak unto their friend” (Exodus 33:11) but by the time of Samuel was born, the people were gone so far away from God that “the word of the LORD was rare in those days” (1 Samuel 3:1).

The Laymen’s Evangelical Fellowship (LEF) started with revival in many churches in South India during the days of N. Daniel. After his death, it expanded under the leadership of his son Joshua Daniel. Instead of encouraging independent leaders and a formal structure for the expanding church, Joshua Daniel concentrated more and more power on himself and turned it into an exclusive cultish organisation. He maintained its exclusivity by many practices including publicly cursing defection, forcing people to marry inside LEF, stripping authority from those who did not toe the line, portraying himself as a special man of God (or prophet), etc. After Joshua Daniel’s death, his son John Daniel and his widow Lily Daniel have taken authority but seem to have no interest to leave the USA and come and minister in India. The few weeks that they minister in India, a lot of gossip and garbage gets preached. Just as “the word of the LORD was rare” in the dark ages of Israel, there seems to be nobody anointed to preach and lead the Laymen’s Evangelical Fellowship in India. So they have resorted to playing recorded videos of Joshua Daniel in public meetings, in the LEF centres and in their TV programs. They even seem to be deceiving people by making it appear as if Joshua Daniel is still alive. An invitation to their recent meetings in Stuartpuram, as posted in the LEF Whistleblower website and reproduced in the top of this article, shows as if Joshua Daniel is still alive and speaking! The people of Stuartpuram are “simple rustic people” (Christ is Victor, Feb 2017) and LEF seems to be openly deceiving them. Another big issue with the lack of leadership is that if there is a problem, there is no authority who can address it locally. If you refer it to those in the US, they will shrewdly pass the buck back to India. So it appears as if “each person did whatever seemed right in his own opinion” (Judges 21:25).

When Jesus ascended up above the heavens, “he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ” (Ephesians 4:11,12). Has God stopped blessing LEF with these gifts that they have to recycle the old messages and refuse to appoint new leaders? Has LEF reached the sad state of Israel when “the word of the LORD was rare in those days” and “each person did whatever seemed right in his own opinion”?

As a disciple of Jesus, we need to ask God to “keep giving us every day our daily bread” (Luke 11:3). Just as the mercies of God are “new every morning” (Lamentation 3:23), our bread should be new every day. We should not be like the people of Israel who tried to retain the manna for the next day and “it produced maggots and smelled bad” (Exodus 16:20). Since “man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God”, let us make sure that our food is fresh and balanced and is served by people that have received the gift from Jesus. Let us stop going to places where old food is served. If a specific person’s teaching edifies you, read or listen to it in private. Let it not be forced on the church.

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Jallikattu

jallikattuSouth India has a bull taming sport called jallikattu in which a bull is released into a crowd of people and one or more person try to hold onto the hump of the bull while the bull tries to escape. In 2014 the Supreme Court of India banned this sport as it was cruel to the bull. The bull tamers and spectators regularly get killed. Strangely people all over Tamil Nadu have been demanding the ban be lifted, risking human life and continue the cruelty to animals. Although most city residents have not watched the sport yet thousands have been protesting that the ban be removed.

The situation reminds me of the riot in Ephesus recorded in Acts 19. Paul had been ministering in Ephesus for two years and “all the residents of Asia heard the word of the Lord, both Jews and Greeks. And God was doing extraordinary miracles by the hands of Paul”. But Demetrius who made silver shrines incited people saying “Paul has persuaded and turned away a great many people, saying that gods made with hands are not gods …” Immediately there was a great riot and “some were shouting one thing and some another, since the crowd was confused, and most of them didn’t know why they were meeting.”

Although the history of jallikattu is skimpy, it appears that the shedding of blood during this sport was a form of blood sacrifice to appease the local deities during the Pongal harvest festival. Looking at it from this angle, there seems to be a good explanation why people who have no connection with this sport, have been taking to the streets for days and nights to keep it alive. It appears that evil spiritual forces are unhappy with the ban and have whipped up frenzy in the minds of the people to ensure that blood continues being spilt every year.

Ancient Rome had extremely violent games where gladiator fought against others or against animals or against slaves, wild animals including lions and bears fighting other animals or mauling slaves. Christianity slowly brought an end to these violent sports. In the 5th century, monk Telemachus when he witnessed the gladiators for the first time was so appalled that he jumped into the arena shouting “In the name of Jesus stop”. Though he was killed, the incident shocked the spectators and the emperor who immediately issued an edict banning gladiator sports. Let us not loose our saltiness in Christ and be “no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled on by people.” (Matthew 5:13) Let us be the salt and light of our world.

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Baby Jesus has become the King of Kings

I wish the readers of this blog a blessed Christmas. At the Christmas season, there is a lot of focus on Jesus as a baby and the incidents surrounding the birth. As God has put in us an instinct to love babies and children, it is very good to remember Jesus’ birth and show love to one another. But we should not stop at baby Jesus. Jesus grew up, studied the scripture, preached the gospel, did great miracles, drove out demons, was crucified, rose from the dead and is now seated at the right hand of God. Within 40 years of the birth of Jesus, Stephen no longer saw Jesus as a baby but saw Him at the right hand of God: “Look! I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!” Acts 7:56 (ISV).

The Bible teaches us that we need to wait patiently for the rewards of faith. “Moses preferred being mistreated with God’s people to enjoying the pleasures of sin for a short time. He thought that being insulted for the sake of the Messiah was of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward.” Heb 11:25, 26 (ISV). David said “I waited patiently for the LORD. He turned to me and heard my cry for help. He pulled me out of a horrible pit, out of the mud and clay. He set my feet on a rock and made my steps secure. He placed a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God.” Psalm 40:1-3 (GW) “We must focus on Jesus, the source and goal of our faith. He saw the joy ahead of him, so he endured death on the cross and ignored the disgrace it brought him. Then he received the highest position in heaven, the one next to the throne of God.” Heb 12:2 (GW).

If life is filled with seemingly insurmountable challenges, don’t lose heart! Keep praying and praising, waiting patiently for the Lord to act. Just as the baby was made the King of kings and Lord of lords we can overcome our challenges and the evil one. “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government will be upon his shoulder, and his name is called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:6 (ISV).

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Blessed is the one who considers the poor

God consistently shows His concern for the poor in the Bible and ask us to be considerate to them. Jesus showed his concern for the poor in his message in Nazareth: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord.” Thousands of years ago, the Bible set strict rules for lending and stricter rules if the borrower is poor. “When you loan something to your neighbor, don’t enter his house to seize what he offered as collateral … If he is a poor man, don’t go to sleep with his collateral in your possession. Be sure to return his garment to him at sunset so that he may sleep with it, and he will bless you. It will be a righteous deed in the presence of the LORD your God.” Deuteronomy 24:10, 12, 13 (ISV) .

Still the poor are often abused and exploited.  There is a crisis in India for a few weeks. Overnight, the majority of the currency notes have been made obsolete and people are facing difficulty in converting their own money into valid but difficult to find currency notes. People have died in the crisis and the poor who have limited access to banks have been put into a great predicament. The government claims that it has to restrict their citizens from withdrawing their own money for their own good and most people seem to be infatuated that this move will somehow stop “black money”. Very few seem to bother about the hardship that many are facing. Farmers are unable to sell the produce or buy seed, poor people especially those who live in remote areas cannot repeatedly leave their work and families in search of a working ATM or bank, those who need medical help do not have the “right” notes to pay. The list is endless.

Among the people that I have personally communicated about this difficult situation, those voicing concern for the genuinely disadvantaged are generally Christians. It is encouraging to see that the message of the Bible has touched these people.  Some of the verses protecting the poor and oppressed are “don’t take advantage of a hired person who is poor and needy” Deuteronomy 24:14 (ISV), “defend the poor and fatherless: do justice to the afflicted and needy” Psalm 82:3 (KJV) and “oppress not the widow, nor the fatherless, the stranger, nor the poor” Zechariah 7:10a (KJV). I hope the Bible will transform you and give you concern for the poor, the needy and the afflicted.

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