Tag Archives: Jesus

God’s system of justice

inequalityMany cultures have traditional moral stories. Aesop’s fables from ancient Greece, Panchatantra from ancient India and many more. These commend good and denounce wrong by making the characters derive benefit from good deeds and suffer punishment from wrong deeds, usually very quickly. This philosophy is not restricted to moral stories and most of us subconsciously subscribe to this thought process. When the Biblical character Job suddenly lost his oxen, sheep, camels, children and his health, that is what his friends and towns folk believed. Eliphaz said “Who, being innocent, has ever perished? Where were the upright ever destroyed? As I have observed, those who plow evil and those who sow trouble reap it. At the breath of God they perish; at the blast of his anger they are no more.” Job 4:7-9 (NIV). Bildad said “Does God pervert justice? Does the Almighty pervert what is right? When your children sinned against him, he gave them over to the penalty of their sin.” Job 8:3,4 (NIV). Zophar said “Surely you know how it has been from of old, ever since mankind was placed on the earth, that the mirth of the wicked is brief, the joy of the godless lasts but a moment. Though the pride of the godless person reaches to the heavens and his head touches the clouds, he will perish forever, like his own dung.” Job 20:4-7(NIV). On the contrary, God gave a completely different appraisal of Job saying “There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil.” Job 1:8 (NIV).

We know that “God is true, even if everyone is a liar” Romans 3:4 (ISV). So we have to dismiss the philosophies of the ancients, Job’s friends, our own ideas and turn to the Bible for answers. Job himself observed and said “Why do the wicked live on, growing old and increasing in power? They see their children established around them, their offspring before their eyes. Their homes are safe and free from fear; the rod of God is not on them. Their bulls never fail to breed; their cows calve and do not miscarry. They send forth their children as a flock; their little ones dance about. They sing to the music of timbrel and lyre; they make merry to the sound of the pipe. They spend their years in prosperity and go down to the grave in peace.” Job 21:7-13 (NIV). Such observations are not limited to Job and it is found in other parts of the Bible. Asaph says “… I saw the prosperity of the wicked. They have no struggles; their bodies are healthy and strong. They are free from common human burdens; they are not plagued by human ills. Therefore pride is their necklace; they clothe themselves with violence. From their callous hearts comes iniquity; their evil imaginations have no limits. They scoff, and speak with malice; with arrogance they threaten oppression. Their mouths lay claim to heaven, and their tongues take possession of the earth. Therefore their people turn to them and drink up waters in abundance. They say, “How would God know? Does the Most High know anything?” This is what the wicked are like — always free of care, they go on amassing wealth.” Psalm 73:3-12 (ISV). Another Psalmist says “… How long will the wicked be jubilant? They pour out arrogant words; all the evildoers are full of boasting. They crush your people, Lord; they oppress your inheritance. They slay the widow and the foreigner; they murder the fatherless. They say, “The Lord does not see; the God of Jacob takes no notice.”” Psalm 94:3-7 (NIV). Jeremiah says “Why are wicked people successful? Why do all dishonest people have such easy lives?” Jeremiah 12:1b (NET). We would also personally know people who live wicked lives but are prospering.

Job gives us a clue about the punishment of the wicked “Here is the fate God allots to the wicked, the heritage a ruthless man receives from the Almighty: However many his children, their fate is the sword; his offspring will never have enough to eat. The plague will bury those who survive him, and their widows will not weep for them. Though he heaps up silver like dust and clothes like piles of clay, what he lays up the righteous will wear, and the innocent will divide his silver.” Job 27:13-17 (NIV). This principle is found in other parts of the Bible. The Lord said to Solomon, “Since this is your attitude and you have not kept my covenant and my decrees, which I commanded you, I will most certainly tear the kingdom away from you and give it to one of your subordinates. Nevertheless, for the sake of David your father, I will not do it during your lifetime. I will tear it out of the hand of your son. Yet I will not tear the whole kingdom from him, but will give him one tribe for the sake of David my servant and for the sake of Jerusalem, which I have chosen.” 1 Kings 11:11-13 (NIV). The word of the Lord came to Elijah the Tishbite saying “have you noticed how Ahab has humbled himself before me? Because he has humbled himself, I will not bring this disaster in his day, but I will bring it on his house in the days of his son.” 1 Kings 21:29 (NIV). It may surprise us but that is also how God introduced himself to Moses when he went up to Mount Sinai saying “The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children and their children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation.” Exodus 34:6,7 (NIV). It is also an integral part of the 10 commandments “I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me.” Exodus 20:5 (NIV).

When people are quickly punished, they avoid doing wrong just to escape punishment. Jeremiah 17:10 (ISV) says “I am the LORD who searches the heart, who tests the inner depths to give to each person according to what he deserves, according to the fruit of his deeds.” When justice is meted out immediately it is impossible to test the heart and the motives. So God may defer his justice to subsequent generations to verify if the person truly believes and fears God. This does not exempt man from having a judicial system and passing out justice quickly. God clearly specified the judicial system for Israel and for the church. There also remains a final judgment that nobody can escape. Acts 17:30,31 (ISV) mentions “God now commands everyone everywhere to repent, because he has set a day when he is going to judge the world with justice through a man whom he has appointed. He has given proof of this to everyone by raising him from the dead.”

Many find it difficult to believe in God when they see injustice everywhere Are you willing to believe that there is a God who metes out justice to every one, even if it is not instant? God is testing us to see if we will walk in His walks even if not walking in His ways does not seem to have consequences. Do not live a life ignoring God’s commands just because God seems to be ignoring your rebellion. Your future generations will face the wrath of God and you cannot escape the day of judgment.

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Jesus, The Perfect Lamb of God

lambMost of us know how the shepherds were told by an angel “unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:21 ESV). The sign given to them was “you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger” (Luke 2:12 ESV). Since we are not familiar with many Jewish customs, this sign has not meant much to most of us. These shepherds who were in the vicinity of Bethlehem and Jerusalem would have been those who took care of sheep meant for temple sacrifice. When a lamb was born, it often thrashed around and sometimes got hurt in the process. But Leviticus 22:20 (ESV) says “You shall not offer anything that has a blemish, for it will not be acceptable for you.” So to keep the lamb safe and un-blemished, shepherds seemed to have had a habit of wrapping their lambs in swaddling cloth and put it in the manger away from the other sheep! New born Jewish babies seem to have been usually dressed in baby clothes and not normally wrapped in swaddling cloth! When these temple shepherds were given the sign of baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger by the angel, it was the perfect sign that the baby was the true Lamb of God that they had been eagerly waiting for!

Another interesting custom was that before a lamb was taken for sacrifice, it was cleaned and its legs were again swaddled so that it will not become dirty and it was carried over the shoulders to the temple for sacrifice. When Jesus entered Jerusalem a few days before his crucifixion, he didn’t walk in! Matthew 21:7-8 (ISV) says “they brought the donkey and the colt and put their coats on them, and he sat upon them. Many people in the crowd spread their own coats on the road, while others began cutting down branches from the trees and spreading them on the road.” Another proof that Jesus was indeed the true Lamb of God!

Hebrews 9:22 (ESV) says “under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.” Hebrews 9:28 (ISV) says “The Messiah was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people.” With this fresh understanding, spend some time this Christmas meditating on how God prepared Jesus Christ of Nazareth, to be our perfect lamb to take away our sins. If you have not believed on his sacrifice to cleanse you from your sins, this is the perfect time to do it.

Wish you all a blessed Christmas and a happy 2019.

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Effective fervent prayer

the-power-of-prayer-2I have not been very comfortable with prayer! Jesus said in Matthew 6:8 (GW) “Your Father knows what you need before you ask him” and so fervent prayer didn’t make sense. Would not a simple prayer be enough as He already knew everything? Unfortunately my life turned upside down in an unexpected way and I don’t seem to be able to turn it the right way up how much ever I try. Churches, family and friends have been unable to help, one of the main reasons being that Laymen’s Evangelical Fellowship is involved! LEF doesn’t seem to mind my life being turned upside down as long as I don’t return to LEF. The Daniels keep slandering me. So I have no other choice but to cry out to God for help and recently I have been meditating on what the Bible speaks about effective fervent prayer.

James 5:17,18 (ISV) says “Elijah was a person just like us, and he prayed earnestly for it not to rain, and rain never came to the land for three years and six months. Then he prayed again, and the skies poured out rain, and the ground produced its crops.” In 1 Kings 17:1 (ESV) we read Elijah saying to King Ahab “as the LORD, the God of Israel, lives, before whom I stand, there shall be neither dew nor rain these years, except by my word.” Then in 1 Kings 18:1 (ESV), we read that God tells Elijah “Go, show yourself to Ahab, and I will send rain upon the earth.” Elijah presents himself to Ahab, sets up a showdown with the priests of Baal and God proves Himself to be the true God. Elijah then says that a storm was approaching, fervently starts praying and sends his servant seven times to check till a small cloud appears. It seems strange that Elijah prays fervently after God had personally promised rain and he had just won the big showdown.

Daniel and many others had been brought captive to Babylon in 605 BC (Daniel 1:1-6). Nearly 70 year later (539BC), Daniel 5:30,31 (GW) tells us that “King Belshazzar of Babylon was killed. Darius the Mede took over the kingdom.” Although Cyrus was the Persian king, it appears that Darius ruled a few years before Cyrus took control. More than hundred years earlier Isaiah had prophesied even before Jerusalem was captured that “it will be inhabited”, and of Judah’s cities “they will be rebuilt”, and of her ruins, “I’ll raise them up”. (Isaiah 44:26). He even prophesied of Cyrus before he was born, “He’s my shepherd, and he’ll carry out everything that I please: He’ll say of Jerusalem, “Let it be rebuilt,” and of my Temple, “Let its foundations be laid again.”” (Isaiah 44:26). In Jeremiah 29:10 (ISV) the Lord said, “When Babylon’s seventy years are completed, I’ll take note of you and will fulfill my good promises to you by bringing you back to this place.” In Jeremiah 25:12 (ISV) the Lord said “When seventy years are accomplished, that I will punish the king of Babylon, and that nation.” Daniel seeing all these incidents with his own eyes writes “In the first year of Darius … I, Daniel, perceived in the books the number of years that, according to the word of the LORD to Jeremiah the prophet, must pass before the end of the desolations of Jerusalem, namely, seventy years.” Daniel 9:1,2 (ESV). Instead of celebrating the imminent release of his people, Daniel writes in verse 3 “I turned my face to the Lord God, seeking him by prayer and pleas for mercy with fasting and sackcloth and ashes.” In verse 19 he prays “O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive. O Lord, pay attention and act. Delay not, for your own sake, O my God, because your city and your people are called by your name.” Daniel’s prayer was answered soon as we see in Ezra 1:1-3 (ESV) ” In the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled, the LORD stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, so that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom and also put it in writing: Thus says Cyrus king of Persia: The LORD, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth, and he has charged me to build him a house at Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Whoever is among you of all his people, may his God be with him, and let him go up to Jerusalem, which is in Judah, and rebuild the house of the LORD, the God of Israel—he is the God who is in Jerusalem.”

Jesus prayed always and instructed the disciples to pray. In Luke 6:12 (GW), we read “Jesus went to a mountain to pray. He spent the whole night in prayer to God. When it was day, he called his disciples. He chose twelve of them and called them apostles.” In Luke 18:1 (ISV) “Jesus told his disciples a parable about their need to pray all the time and never give up.” The parable is about a widow who repeatedly bothers a judge till she gets justice and Jesus strangely gives us this widow’s example to get justice from God. Jesus’ prayers inspired His disciples and in Luke 11:1 (ISV) we read “Once Jesus was praying in a certain place. After he had finished, one of his disciples told him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.”” That is how we got the Lord’s Prayer! Just before His betrayal and arrest Jesus “knelt down, and began to pray … in his anguish he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat became like large drops of blood falling on the ground.” Luke 22:41b,44 (ISV). Jesus found His disciples sleeping and told them, “So, you men couldn’t stay awake with me for one hour, could you? All of you must stay awake and pray that you won’t be tempted.” Matthew 26:40b,41a (ISV).

Although Elijah and Daniel had the clear promises of God, they prayed fervently with fasting that God may fulfil His promise. Although Jesus was the Son of God, He was always praying. God has given me great promises that He will turn my life around and make it better. “You must not fear, for I am with you; you must not be afraid, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, indeed I will help you, indeed I will take hold of you with the right hand of my salvation. Look! All those who are angry with you shall be ashamed and humiliated; your opponents shall be like nothing and shall become lost. You shall seek them, but you shall not find them; your opponents shall be like nothing, and the men of you war like nothing. For I, Yahweh your God, am grasping your right hand; it is I who say to you, “You must not fear, I myself, I will help you.” Isaiah 41: 10-14 (LEB). It feels strange that I need to pray when God has promised great victory but I don’t want to sit back and relax.As James 5:16 (KJV) says “the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much”, I want to imitate the example of the people of prayer and see God’s promises being fulfilled in my life.

So if God has given you a promise, don’t sit back and relax. Pray till the promise is fulfilled. Don’t worry if you don’t have a specific promise to your problem. Jeremiah 29:11-13 (ISV) says “I know the plans that I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for well-being, and not for calamity, in order to give you a future and a hope. When you call out to me and come and pray to me, I’ll hear you. You will seek me and find me when you search for me with all your heart.” So insist that God fulfils His promise and see firsthand that that “the insistent prayer of a righteous person is powerfully effective” just as the World English Bible translates James 5:16.

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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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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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The unbelievable story of all time

A Google search for unbelievable stories brings up a list of odd stories, but the story of Jesus Christ is the unbelievable story of all time. The creator of the universe leaves His heavenly abode to become part of His creation. He could have appeared on earth as an alien or a special being but He chose to be born as a (helpless) baby to an insignificant family in an insignificant town. At least when He grew up He could have boasted to the world about His heavenly credentials but he avoided talking about it and generally kept off the limelight. Without any fanfare he performed amazing miracles, made the blind to see, healed the lame and raised the dead. He made no effort to escape a horrible death. After three days, His tomb was astonishingly found empty but still He revealed Himself only to limited friends before returning to His heavenly abode.

This story seems so utterly far-fetched and bizarre but still millions have believed in this story and even given up their lives for this story. I am grateful that I knew this story from childhood. Sometimes I wonder if it was because of early exposure to this story that made me believe it. What would have happened if I grew up in a hostile environment? I can’t say; but even though the story about Jesus Christ seems unbelievable, I know that I am drawn toward it by Jesus Himself so that in spite of problems that arise due to my faith, my faith strangely gets deeper.

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