• Category Archives Seeds For the Minds
  • Love’s A Dirty Job… But Someone Has To Do It

    Rice Patty

    Practical Patience

    Love is patient. That’s what the Bible says in 1 Corinthians 13:4. Love is patient. What does that mean? Patience is the kind of thing that has to be learned by kids when they’re on a long trip in the car with their parents, and that parents have to learn while waiting for their kids to be quiet. Patience is keeping your cool in a traffic jam. Patience is hoping your kid to gets in the game when you know they are as good, if not better than the starters on the team. The list goes on. It always takes time. There is always angst. We want to see results.

    Hate to Wait

    We hate to wait. We’ve been conditioned to hate to wait. We need it now. We want to rip open the package, add the water, throw it in the microwave, take it out and eat it all in one minute or less. No that’s too long! Why add water?

    Patience Hurts

    Ministry to others tries our patience. We say to ourselves, “Why hasn’t that person changed? What’s wrong with them? Hello it’s in the Bible! That guy should be a pastor by now! Can anybody be on time, just once?

    To be patient is to be “long suffering.” Could there be a better synonym for patience? Long suffering means it hurts for a long time. It means you don’t see results for a long time. It means you don’t get what you want for a long time. It means that you have to be around people you sometimes don’t like for a long time. It’s long, and it hurts. Get it?

    The Dirty Job of Love

    Love is patient. Love suffers long. Love does not need immediate results because it is love, and if it did, then it wouldn’t be love. That’s what love is, it’s patient. It’s a dirty job. It means I stay when the feelings are gone, with the hope that they will return, because long ago I chose to love. Love is patient, and that means sometimes love equals suffering. It’s something we don’t want to do. It’s like unplugging the toilet. It’s like working in a coal mine. It’s like cleaning a sausage factory. We don’t want that job because it’s dirty and smelly, but someone has to do it, and that someone is us. So let’s man up and do the job we don’t want to do. That’s love.

    What Love Does

    Jesus came to a bunch of thankless hypocrites and loved them, even though they didn’t love Him back. He knew the job was dirty. He knew it was hard. He knew few would appreciate the difficulty of the task or the sacrifice required, but someone had to do it. He was that someone.

    Love is doing things we don’t want to do and changing things we don’t want to change. It’s being the someone that Jesus was. It’s a dirty job, and you’ll have to clean under your fingernails, but to reveal God’s true nature of love it must be done. We haven’t always been successful; therefore, we have not always loved in situations and relationships where patience was required, where suffering was necessary. Instead we’ve walked away. Don’t condemn yourself for those failures. Be patient. Suffer long and suffer well. Get to know love that’s beyond the superficial emotion people associate with the word. If you do, you’ll reap rewards as you get your hands dirty completing the task that God has put before you. In doing so you’ll understand better the true sense of the cross. You’ll get dirty but others will get clean. It’s what love does.

    Kim Anthony Shibley

    Kim Anthony Shibley

    Kim is currently the pastor of Greater Grace Christian Fellowship, a GGWO affiliated church in Silver Spring Md.

  • The Towel and the Way of Service

    It was Passover, a holy time that included a holy supper. The Apostles would share this moment with Jesus in an upper room in Jerusalem, a city on edge in reaction to the arrival of this Teacher, this Healer, this Multiplier of Loaves and Fishes.

    The moment seemed ripe for Jesus to reveal Himself in power and majesty to hundreds. Perhaps, this was an unspoken desire welling up in the hearts of those following after Him. Singing and chants greeted Him; His path to town covered with palm branches and garments.

    Rather than pander to the crowds and bask in His popularity, Jesus brought His band of men together, alone and away from the buzz. The pivotal moments of history were just hours ahead. Gethsemane, the Cross, the Tomb — things the Savior had set His face toward since before the foundation of the world were coming.

    A Stunning Display

    Around the room sat the 12, all of them, including Judas, who would betray Jesus before the dawn of the next day. They all had eaten the traditional meal celebrating Israel’s deliverance from Egypt and Pharaoh. Jesus had turned the supper into an object lesson about His Body and His Blood. They were surprised at His words and pondered what it all meant.

    Then, Jesus shocked them all.

    He laid aside His garments and tied a towel around His waist, poured water into a basin and began washing their feet. Singer/songwriter Michael Card calls it a “parable about to come alive.”

    Jesus, the Son of David, the King of kings, the Lord of lords, was serving His men from the bottom up. This was a powerful point He sought to impress upon the Apostles. Not long before this scene, these men had been engaged in a strong and forceful discussion. The topic? Who was the better and the best among them.

    Jesus settled that argument, which they tried to hide from Him, by setting a child in their midst. The greatest, He told them, is the one who believes as a little child, a person who trusts and rests in the will of his father. Now, in taking the towel, Jesus revealed how the great acted in faith and love.

    The whole encounter stunned the disciples and confounded them. Their Master, their Lord, wiped the muck and the mire from their toes. Aghast, Peter stood to stop Jesus. “Never, Lord, never shall You wash my feet!” But Jesus insisted, “If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me.” The impulsive Peter had been rebuked, again. “Get thee behind me, Satan” it wasn’t, but this was a rebuke nonetheless.

    Go to the Low Point

    Through the next chapters of the gospel of John, Jesus provided deep instruction and clear promises. First, however, He showed them the Way. Serve, He told them and reveal the fruit of love. Give yourselves to the lowest task. Wash feet, even the feet of your enemies.

    At the table, Jesus took the bread and pointed to His Body, the bread of life that would be broken to feed all who choose to eat of it. He took the cup and considered His Blood, the precious flow that makes whiter than snow those who receive it and drink it in.

    After the table, Jesus revealed the essence of His heart. The Servant of all, He stripped down and bent low to make us clean.

    Again, this was not an act performed on a stage in a stadium and broadcast to millions. Only the few were there — and one of them stepped from the light and love in the room and went out into darkness.

    Just this small group saw, felt, and heard Jesus that evening. And, oh what these men heard. Surely, they were told some of the most significant words ever spoken:

    “Let not your hearts be troubled.”

    “I am the Way,  the Truth, and the Life.”

    “Ask anything in My Name and I will do it.”

    “The Comforter, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send, shall teach you all things.”

    “The Spirit will guide you into all truth.”

    “Love one another as I have loved you.”

    “Be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”

    The Spirit Fuels the HeartDid the disciples hear these things? Yes, and no. The night and the day to come would test them sorely and shatter their fragile faith. Some would sleep; one would swing a sword only to deny knowing Him later; and all would run and hide.

    The third day would come, however. Jesus, risen, would be among them to speak and to eat for some days. He would leave though, flying away to His seat on high.

    But Day 50 — Pentecost — would come, too. The Spirit sent, God would breathe, and the life of the Church would be born and inaugurated with mighty wind and fire and new ways of speaking.

    By this, servants of the Savior, then and now, are equipped to go forth, to live, to love, to serve, to take the towel for each other and for all.

    For more on serving with love, check out “Take the Towel,” a message preached by Thomas Schaller,  pastor of Greater Grace Church of Baltimore.

     

    Steve Andrulonis

    Steve Andrulonis

    Spent more than 25 years as a newspaper reporter and editor before entering full-time ministry in 2006. He assists the Senior Pastor of Greater Grace, helps manages church services, coordinates the Grace Hour radio broadcast, and teaches at Maryland Bible College and Seminary.

  • Know the Word, Know Jesus, Behold His Glory

    Their hopes and dreams crushed, two disciples of Jesus snuck out of Jerusalem. Fear gripped them. They were sure that religious leaders with Roman soldiers were looking for them and the other followers of the Teacher from Nazareth.

    Jesus had been crucified and buried on Friday, but once Sunday dawned their world exploded into chaos. A group of women went to the tomb to anoint His body and were met by angels who proclaimed Jesus to be alive. The men among the disciples weren’t sure what to think. Peter and John visited the tomb, found it empty, but there was no sign of Jesus. Now, the Apostles had hidden themselves away in the city somewhere.

    These two men figured the best option was to create some space between them and the epicenter of these events. From a distance, they would have a safer vantage point and, perhaps, a head start on their escape route from Judea. They purposed to get out of town and set out for Emmaus, a village about 7 miles from Jerusalem.

    Ruined Expectations

    Sadness rested upon their hearts, but they couldn’t stop talking about Jesus and all that He meant to them. Their expectations had been like most of those raised in Jewish homes. The Messiah they were looking for would be something of a superman who would rescue Israel, triumph over the Roman occupiers, and establish a mighty kingdom above all kingdoms.

    The “rumor” of Jesus’ resurrection did nothing to assuage their disappointment. Rather, it only made matters worse in their minds. They had followed Jesus to the Cross; they believed Him to be the Christ, the Anointed One, the Son of the living God. This had been revealed to Peter first, and they had come to accept it. But now all seemed lost.

    Angels’ words to weeping women, could these be trusted? They were confounded and confused and concluded that they could not put their faith in such news, as good as it sounded to their ears. Between them there was not even a thread of hope. Their words and countenances exposed their desperation.

    Just then, the Stranger came alongside them.

    Where was the Hope?

    This account in Luke 24 reveals just how lost we can get in circumstance and emotion. These two men had walked with Jesus for some period of time. They had heard Him speak and watched Him work. They were convinced of His authority and even His royalty. Still, the words they heard from Jesus carried little weight at this point in their lives. He had spoken clearly and frequently about His death and His resurrection. It would happen on the third day, Jesus said.

    This was the third day. Where was the hope?

    Granted, we should be careful how we speak of these men. The crisis of the moment was unlike any other. Overwhelmed and leaderless, most of us would be pressed beyond measure to exhibit even a bit of courage.

    How did the Stranger help them? He took them to the Word of God. “Then he said unto them, O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken: Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory? And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself” (Luke 24:25-27).

    Hearts Afire, Hopes Lifted

    The Word did its work in these men. It set their hearts afire. At last, as the Stranger broke bread for the evening meal, the scales of disappointment fell off their eyes and they realized that it was Jesus Himself with them. And then He was gone, but not for long. They would rush back to Jerusalem, locate the others, and share the encounter among those who had also seen Him alive. Chaos and confusion seemed to be melting into nervous expectation.

    Then, He was there, standing among them, saying, “Peace be unto you!”

    Jesus invited them to touch Him. He ate a piece of fish. With their attention fully upon Him, He again pointed to His Word, opening their minds to understand the Scriptures.

    This account speaks to us about the power of the Bible. Yes, it does testify mightily to the reality of the resurrection, but woven through the report is Jesus reminding His disciples and us that it is the Word of God that really matters.

    The Difference-Maker

    Bible understanding is a real difference-maker. John 1 defines the nature of God the Son and His eternal being with these words: “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth” (John 1:16). To know the Word of God is to know Jesus and behold His glory.

    Amos the prophet was sent by the Lord to address a very religious group of people in Israel. However, their religion was an empty show, and the prophet’s message bothered the king and the people. They generally ignored it. A lot of things were being done in the name of God. There were feasts and songs aplenty. What was lacking? The hearing of the Word of God. “Behold, the days come, saith the Lord GOD, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD” (Amos 8:11).

    Recent years have seen a great expansion of many things Christian. A plethora of media, music, publications, conferences, seminars, etc., have become available. Time was when church was the only place a believer could hear a song about Jesus. Now cities have two or more radio stations devoted to contemporary Christian tunes.

    God, of course, is in all of this. He stands above and has watched over this movement. Still, it is the Word of God that remains the effectual element for life.

    Let’s learn the Word more so that we would know God more fully. Let us not grow famished for lack of doctrine. Let us feed on the Word.

    May our hearts burn brightly within us as we hear Christ speak to us by His Spirit in these days.

    This message, “Glory in Knowing God,” preached by Steve Scibelli, a pastor and Missions Director for Greater Grace World Outreach, has more to say about the Word and its power for us.

    Steve Andrulonis

    Steve Andrulonis

    Spent more than 25 years as a newspaper reporter and editor before entering full-time ministry in 2006. He assists the Senior Pastor of Greater Grace, helps manages church services, coordinates the Grace Hour radio broadcast, and teaches at Maryland Bible College and Seminary.

  • Two Things People Don’t Know About Being a Missionary

    Well, it was our last Sunday in Malawi. Everyone thoughtfully greeted us and wished us safe travels. We have an amazing church. To think that just nine months ago we did not know a single Malawian person, and today we know so many; and greater than that, we now have so many Malawian friends.

    1. It is Easy and 2. It is Hard

    Who knew missions would be so easy and so difficult at the same time? It’s the personal challenge of living in a foreign place and dealing with very different people, but in that place and with those people we are doing something so easy, we are making friends.

    This is the secret to missions, and really why we can all be called missionaries. Missions is not figuring out what is wrong with people and then telling them about it. It’s just simply being like Christ in whatever place we are in. Christ made friends and made disciples and ultimately gave his life for them; can we not do the same?

    Show Christ

    I don’t have to change who I am to be a missionary. I don’t need to be more spiritual. In fact, I don’t need to be spiritual at all. My life is submitted to God each and every day, and I expect that anything that follows is all Him.

    Lisa and friends

    What ends up happening is we show people the Christ in our lives without even knowing it. We show people grace, and we give people truth. We live such a liberated life that people cling to us in hopes that some of us will rub off on them, and it does.

     

     

     

    Qualified by Grace

    On several occasions over the past nine months, we have chronicled our personal sense of being unqualified to live the life of a missionary. We have come to realize that we were actually the most qualified people all along. To be receivers of the grace of God was the only qualification we ever needed.

    Some of the greatest missionary names we can think of today went out without an understanding of grace. Many of them paid a dear price to learn it, but once they did, the world was truly never the same.

    The truth is that being a receiver of grace makes us givers of grace. It’s not I but Christ that lives within me. I can’t think of anything the world needs more now than the grace and truth of Jesus Christ. Missions life can be hard but grace makes it easy.

    by Matthew Sliva on www,ggwo.org


  • Redeeming an Eternal Time

    An important question to be asked in order to define what true blessing is. “Do you have to be rich to be blessed?” “DO you have to have everything going right in your life to be blessed?” Not really! We are blessed because we are in Christ. We are blessed because we are saved. We are blessed because we are meeting God one day. Ephesians 5:14 commands, “Redeem the time.” Time is eternity’s investment in this world. We as believers are always making choices. The spiritual is also practical. As you live in this world, walk as a wise person. Your time is important.

    Our works cannot satisfy the demands of Holy God. They can only tire us more. And you come to Christ and you receive Grace. Jesus says, “Take my Yoke upon you”. That means I am going to give you new purpose in life. That means I am going to use you. That means your life is no more vanity. That means you are not going to live directionless. That means you are going to be productive. That means there would be a new kind of order. Jesus says “Follow Me.” Jesus is going somewhere. The person who is not going somewhere cannot validly say to someone “Follow Me.” If you are looking for a leader, teacher, or guru, you are looking for somebody whom you can look upto all your life. Yes, that’s who Christ is.

    In Matthew 5-7, the famous Sermon on the Mount, Jesus spoke some amazing things. When we follow Christ, things happen in our life. Changes occur, and the transformation is real. This is a shift of a kingdom. This sermon moves from external to internal. These things are possible when there is an inner relationship with God which we are growing in. We all are called to have a relationship personally with Christ. We enjoy each other’s personal relationship with God as we gather together. Just because it happens on the inside, it doesn’t mean it won’t affect your world.

    One of the summary verses in the Sermon on the Mount is Matthew 5:20. “Unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.” The study of usage of Greek terms in original language points to the word ‘exceed’ to carry the idea of not only exceeding in quantity but also in quality. Jesus admires Great Faith. However the issue of greatness of faith is not of quantity, but of quality as illustrated by comparisons with mustard seed.

    We need to seek the things which are above, despite our situations and circumstances. ‘Redeeming the time’ carries idea of quality. We have a fellowship with God and we are listening to Him and we are speaking to Him. We are believing Him. That is quality and then there can be quantity. We can learn to meditate on the word of God day and night. In 1 Peter2:2 we are meditating on word of God because we are hungering and thirsting for righteousness. His word tastes like honey because of that quality. The work that we do for God qualitatively speaking is to walk with God. Our primary work is to have personal relationship with God. In Psalm 26:12, there is an even place? Even place is where I don’t have to strive. Where there is a fellowship in the spontaneity in the moment. It is a Place of rest. It is a Place where we are convinced that there is love. It is Place where there is peace.

    In Exodus 3, Amazing conversation between God and Moses has been recorded. It appears in the story that Moses was looking for something more, and very hungry for God. He went to the back side of the desert looking for God. Normally, backside of the desert wouldn’t be the most appropriate place to take sheep to. Similarly, in our life God leads us. His words are loving and personal. The effect of Moses entering into the tabernacle is seen on the people around him. Our walk with God with other people influences our personal walk with God. One complements the other. In Matthew 6, Sermon on the Mount, Jesus gave an indication that our life at the altar affects our life around the altar. They are both intermingled, yet so independent.

    In Exodus 20:25-26, God is not interested in shape of altar, but in the essence of altar. External are not as important as the internal. But often external can be the product of internal. In context of our relationship with God, we need to focus on the internal. God doesn’t want the noise of flesh in our relationship with Him. Altar was not be high enough that if one climbed, people would be able to see one’s nakedness. In church, we don’t relate to people based on their personality, but we are blessed because they are in Christ. God does not like the sweat. We should protect ourselves from striving. God taught Moses how to fellowship with Him. We are responsible for worshiping God in our Tents. Yet our tents are together. I want more of God in my life. We learn Bible in Grace. If there is sound of chisel and hammer in the message, it doesn’t make clear sound of Grace.

    Devotionally speaking, our mornings can be more productive. In the Bible, men of God rose up early in the morning to meet God. Joshua woke up early in the morning, Moses woke up early in the morning. We can practice rising early in the morning to meet God, knowing that the time is evil. For those who struggle to discipline themselves in rising early, must discover this secret. Often they need a simple thing as night alarm to make their morning alarm fruitful. There is an enemy to be faced in the day. The kingdom of God provides opportunities to experience its victories. By seeking the kingdom first, we are able to redeem the time. The returns are eternal.

     


  • What is so Great about Faith?

    What is Faith after all? In Mark 11:22-26, Jesus encouraged us to pray in faith, and this promise has been misinterpreted by many. I would like to claim that every time I pray, answers come right away. But, I can’t claim that unless i pretend. Great faith is not the issue of quantity, but of quality. Jesus, in the gospel accounts, often looked for faith when He was ready to perform a miracle or a healing. He drew out faith from people. Every man has potential of believing in God. God is interested in a man’s belief in Him, as it is good for him.

    The book of Hebrews is about faith. Chapter 11 of this book celebrates faith. The Glory of our faith is not based on the one who has faith, but glory of our faith is based upon the One on whom we have faith. The value of faith is not on faith itself, but on the object of that faith. Our faith is great faith because it is upon Christ. In verse 6, we see the definition of faith. Great faith trusts the nature and character of God. “God is a rewarder….” God is a good God, a caring God, a loving God. So, what is Faith? I believe that God exists. But that is not enough. I also believe that God is a rewarder.

    There is a mountain mentioned in Jesus’ statement. We have mountains of various kinds which need to be cast down by prayer – sickness, troubles, pain, closed doors, demons etc. The mountain seems to pose questions to you,

    “Does God love me?”

    I need to speak to the mountain, “Yes, God loves me.”

    “Does He care?”

    “Yes, He cares.”

     You pray to God, not to the mountain. This was not meant to be a lesson on will power or positive thinking, neither about having blind faith or complete knowledge of an upcoming healing. What if I don’t have the determination? God will provide the determination.
    Faith is not the same as feeling of faith. There is difference between the two.  Many people think that having great faith involves having great feelings. Your faith is amazing because it is faith upon Jesus. In Matthew 8:23-27, the storm came while Jesus is in the Boat. Yes, challenges can come to faithful believers. Bad things can happen to good people and good things can happen to bad people. We don’t need form formula out of Bible. Sometimes, the storm may be the evidence that Jesus is in the boat. If God is for us, then we are no more neutral. Anybody who is God’s enemy is now our enemy now. Satan is our enemy now.
    Faith brings us to a place of vulnerability. If the trial was supposed to be within your limits, then it is not a test. It is so because Faith means leaning on someone else’s (God’s) strength. Faith is that i am not going to depend on myself. I am going to depend on God’s strength. FOR EVERYTHING. When i am weak, He is my strength. That is why Salvation is not by works. Jesus does not require any good works for salvation, but only faith – Not before, nor at the time of nor after salvation.  that.
    Is great faith assurance about my future? No, not necessarily! Mountain is asking you,

    “Does Jesus care?”

    “Yes. I know He does.”

    “Will He change everything in my life here?”

    “I don’t know. I would like Him to.”

    Expressing your pain, or uncertainty, is not lack of faith. Answers, or no answers -both ways, Jesus cares for me. Jesus often admired people of great faith and challenged people of little faith. Great faith is not working up of certain kind of emotions which seem to be sure of a future deliverance. I may doubt my future but i don’t doubt my God. In any case, i have an eternal future. LITTLE faith questions the character of God. The difference between little faith and great faith is of single eye and a divided heart (Hebrews 11:13, 10:22).
    In 2 Corinthians 11:3, there is a warning that demons try to corrupt our minds from simple things. ‘Make the simple complicated,’ The devil roars in darkness. Our recent encounters with some demon possessed individuals have been very illuminating. Ministers are not supposed to focus on elaborate exercises trying to cast out demons. Only God casts demons out, we pray simple prayers of faith. And we love the people. Our ministry is not towards the demonic realm, but the suffering humanity. Believers are responsible to be a Bible-believing and Bible-centered Christians. Faith is a simple thing. Behind the focus on the miraculous and the sensational, even within the Church, is the most common work demons are performing in these last days. False doctrines are demon’s primary work. Demons are liars. They are lying in churches too. They are taking believers away from simplicity of the great faith – faith upon Christ, leaning on His strength, learning of Him, embracing His promises without receiving them.

    Have a Great Faith!


  • A Battle of Images in the Chambers of Imagery

    We as people carry images in our minds. Many of these images are influenced by factors outside us. Once I stood in a chamber in an amusement park which comprised mirrors of various designs on its walls. These mirrors reflected on me my own picture in a great variety of amusing shapes. We laughed as we saw each other in unimaginable length, breadth and slenderness. However, we also knew that none of these images were the real person, who we actually were. Thank God, in a little while we were out of the chamber and did not even consider making our residence in a chamber like that.

    However, spiritually speaking we live in a world which is bombarded by similar images in people’s minds. In the Bible, prophet Ezekiel was led by the Holy Spirit into an inner chamber between the walls within the temple, where the prophet saw the elders of the people bowing before many false images which were not supposed to legitimately be in that place. Our world and often our minds tend to be intruded by similar distortions. It is unfortunate how often a believer can get caught in such a contradicting battle of images in his own mind. Here are some of the images we see in the emotional and spiritual realm.

    First, image the man received was from his Creator Himself. It is the most bonafide of all, in which he was expected to dwell upon. In Genesis 1:26, the Bible informs that God created man in His own image and likeness. Man was created as crown of God’s creation, to rule, to create, to design, to protect, to have meaningful relationships, to know God and to worship Him. He was called good. He was not designed to live in guilt, shame, fear, rebellion, sin, revenge, reaction and such. Even though man failed in the garden of Eden, God did not ever take this image back from man. He still has those capacities. He can still exercise his free will and live victoriously.

    However, in the garden of Eden, was introduced another image in man. Satan suggested, “You will become like god.” Actually Bible tells us in Isaiah 14, that it was the good old devil who originally had that desire. “I will be like the Most High.” By receiving his suggestion, man forever succumbed to this false concept of himself. He was created to live a blessed life under the submission of the Sovereign One. But now, and for centuries man has tried to live his life like demi-god, a life of independence, wanting to be in control of things. It has frustrated him. The joy so easily vaporizes. Yet he needs to have his own wishes met. He has in him an image – the image of sinful and the evil one.

    Not much afterwards, man found another pursuit. He started making God in his own image. A. W. Tozer once said that man and his society can never rise above their concept of God. In the world of man made religions, philosophies, idols and concepts of God, man has also lost meaning and purpose. I like challenging my listeners often with questions like this, “How big is your God?” or “What’s the size of the box in which you tend to fit God?” In Isaiah 55:8-9, God challenged man’s idea by informing, “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways, declares the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth,  So are My ways higher than your ways And My thoughts than your thoughts.”

    Life is challenging for a believer if makes a habit of living in such distorted image. His self efforts to be good and godly often frustrate him. His attempt to religiously define and follow God takes his joy away. In a life of that kind one is always evaluating, judging and striving. But God has answered man’s image problems with another image. Apostle Paul describes God’s work in a believer’s life in these terms. In Romans 8:30, he guarantees us that we are being conformed to the image of Lord Jesus Christ. It’s a glorious reality of the life of a person who has been redeemed by the Blood of the Lamb. His burden is light and yoke is easy. All he needs to do in his life is to learn to behold the glory (nature) of God in the face of Christ as in a mirror (2 Corinthians 3:18), and he finds a new image. He grows from glory to glory. He no more hears the voice of condemnation or self determination. He hears with clarity how God thinks of him. Instead of withdrawing from the presence of God into religious activities, he should learn that God loves him as he is. The battle is already won in God’s mind. He is never to be separated from the love of God. He should recognize that any ideas which mar his image enough to make him run from the presence of God, are being drawn from the false images in the chambers of imagery of his fallen mind.

    The man with the marred face (Isaiah 52:14), Jesus Christ on the Cross has loved us enough. He took our image upon Himself. The Glorious One became sin for us (2 Corinthians 5:21), the Beautiful One became uncomely that we may become His righteousness. He entered the chambers of imagery and has spoken clearly. May we hear it as clearly as He has said it,

    “The King’s Daughter is all glorious within.”

    “Your are black, but comely.”

    O thou believer, hear that voice, be drawn to Him, face Him as you are, let His light shine upon you, until you can see the image of Christ in you. If your life seems marred with marks of sins, remember it is not in your acts that you will find His image within you but it is in being face to face with Him beholding in His mirror. More you want to run far, more you need to be before Him. Stop trying, just behold and hear. He is in us, we in Him. Just stare at Him long enough, you will know when the image of Christ starts rising within you, by the hunger and joy you will experience in His presence. It will not matter any more what the other voices may be suggesting.

    What an intercourse of Glory!

     


  • God’s Fields, in the Way

    Lord I smelled the fields

    Walking out of my little life

    And I saw the real needs

    When I looked beyond myself

     

    Thou lift my eyes above horizontals

    Make my life like Thine

    Where I could behold Heaven’s desires

    To touch all that is mine

     

    Prepared fields awaiting the laborers

    For Thee O silent and longing Savior

    Create in me Thy desires

    Speak a vision into my heart and care

     

    The flame is kindled and fanned so deep

    Gospel burns and glows within

    The fragrance moves my reins, they leap

    Burden for souls is calling me in

     

    Have your wonders move my heart

    Along with thy needs

    Move my prayers with thy plans

    To shake the mountains, to own the fields

     

    I could stay in my little world

    But You have called, “Come Away”

    Oh fill me to love them with your Love

    And lead me to fields, in the Way!

     

    Sheetal Zachariah


  • The Invasion of God against the Invasion of Man

    On my way back from a recent Goa trip along the Konkan railway, I was captivated and fascinated by the scenic beauty of creation as I looked. Everything from the golden shore to the roaring blue waves, from the lush valleys to peaks fading into the horizon, from the silent breeze to sunset splattering orange into blue sky represents the beauty of the fingers of God. Oh, how marvelous is everything you created O Lord! And then my mind returned to the day to day world we live in. What a contrast – the fallen man has invaded the creation.

    Let us contemplate about the places that are not yet invaded by man. They are so beautiful, pure, precious and attractive. The moment man invades them the beauty of these places comes to nothing. Here are some:

     

    The depths of the seas, the sky, the stars, the constellations…
    The throne room of heaven, Holy of Holies with no curtain….
    The cross, the place where our Savior touched the manger, the womb..
    The eternal moment where i met my Savior,
    The closet where i fall on my knees,
    In John 8, when a woman taken in adultery met Jesus,
    The depths of heart where spirit inside of us cries out Abba Father,
    The place where the widow put her two mites,
    The garden where God clothed Adam and Eve,

     

    The pnature2lace where Jesus asked Peter, “do you love me?”
    The place where the thief on the cross said to Jesus,”Remember me when thou comest into Thy kingdom”,
    The place where Abraham was told there is lamb in the thicket,
    The place where Rebecca fed the camels,
    The night where Jacob wrestled with God,
    The room where Joseph wept with his brothers,
    The moment where jacob blessed his children leaning on a staff,
    The place where Ruth told Naomi “intreat me not to leave thee”…
    The place where Boaz said to Ruth “Blessed be thou of the Lord, my daughter: for thou hast shewed more kindness in the latter end than at the beginning.”

    The Bible is such a place ….. Couldn’t be invaded through the history of man’s attempts to contaminate it.

     

    In a way there is no place left by God, that the eternity has not touched and redeemed.

    Grace is another such place – place where the prodigals are welcomed in Father’s loving arms.
    The place where Esther said, “If i perish, I perish.”
    The place where the tax collector fell on his knees not daring to look towards the heavens cried out, “Forgive me, I am a man of unclean lips.”
    In Luke 7 when Jesus said to Simon, “Do you really see this woman?”
    The place where Jesus wept for Lazarus,
    The place where the disciples saw Jesus in His glorified body.
    The place where Jesus was placed in a tomb.

     

    Every place that was invaded by man has been invaded again by God to make it beautiful, attractive, pure and precious. The redeemed man, when takes on the nature of God, creates such beautiful places.
    Like the place where hands serve the Body of Christ,
    The place where feet are washed, and robes are changed,
    The place where selfish desires die for the Agape of God.
    The place where the unwanted, little, weak, poor are seated with the privileges of a prince.
    The place in our hearts where the love of the Calvary rules …………

     

    Thank you Lord!
    For invading our world.
    No.. For invading your world which we had invaded. You have regained the beauty, the purity and the eternal. The eternal has invaded the time and penetrated the depths of our hearts..

     


  • The Eternal Romance of Heaven and Earth

    In the Bible in Jeremiah 31:3, the Word of God was addressed to a humanity lost and fallen in sin.
    The LORD appeared to him from afar, saying, “I have loved you with an everlasting love; Therefore I have drawn you with lovingkindness.”
    Man questions the love of God when He is far from God. God expressed His heart through prophet Isaiah in this way.
    But Zion said, “The LORD has forsaken me, And the Lord has forgotten me.”
    “Can a woman forget her nursing child And have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, but I will not forget you.
    “Behold, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands; Your walls are continually before Me. ( Isaiah 49:14-16 )
    The Christmas is about the good news of God becoming a man to save the mankind from impending punishment in Hell. Jesus Christ was not a simple man. He was God appearing in human flesh to pay for the human sins on the Cross. The journey that began with announcement of angels, singing of heavenly choir, gifts from the wise men of east, proceeded to unprecedented miracles performed by Jesus in the first century Isreal culminated at the Cross of Calvary in 33 AD.
    Prophets over the years before His coming predicted his birthplace, his mother, his nature, his hometown, his enemies, his miracles, his death, his grave and also his resurrection. God gives ample evidence of His love.
    The story climaxed at the Cross which hung between heaven and earth. For six hours He suffered the pain and suffering on behalf of us and cried to the Father in heaven, “Father forgive them, they know not what they do.” To the thief who was on the cross beside him and made a confession of his belief on Him in his dying moments, He said, “I assure you today you will be in paradise with Me.” John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever may believe in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.”
    This is the romance. God has initiated an eternal love through the cross. All He requires is a response of faith. Love thrives on faith response. He calls to all who would, “Come to Me!” He spreads His hands wide open. To love anyone and everyone. He tied His hands to the Cross so the hand may never be folded for anyone. If someone is living on the edge, the life can be very risky. But if that person finds the embrace of the loving arms on the edge, he can live. God is waiting to love you and pour His grace and goodness upon you.
    This Christmas receive the romance of God and the love of God – freely!


  • Discovering the Face of God in Darkness

    In Genesis 32, a man of God who spent years running from himself and God, had an encounter when the night was possibly at its darkest. Man can be very typical in the hours of darkness and fall. We have all known the feelings like insecurity, fear, shame, anxiety and discouragement and ask the questions in such hours.
    “Where is God in my life?”
    “Does He really love me?”
    “Am I accepted?”
    “Will He ever leave me?”
    “How long will He be silent?”
    These questions are very familiar to human mind – believers and unbelievers alike. Such feelings produce a response in our lives. A man trying to see in dark makes too much effort. That effort doesn’t help because in His darkness he needs to find something else. Critical spirit, lack of forgiveness, gracelessness, insecurity tend to incapacitate man further in this situation.

    A. W. Tozer made a statement in ‘The Knowledge of the Holy.’ “The low view of God entertained almost universally among Christians is the cause of a hundred lesser evils everywhere among us… The decline of the knowledge of the holy has brought on our troubles. A rediscovery of the majesty of God will go a long way toward curing them.”

    Old Testament states that no one has ever seen God and lived. The New Testament counter-explained that verse by saying that Jesus Christ is the express image of God. I may say that Jesus Christ is the face of God. Many Old Testament saints cried out to God, “Make Your face shine upon us.” On that great night in Peniel, Jacob said, “I was face to face with God. Still I am alive.” How could that happen? How would he explain that to his peers. I believe he would say something like this :

    “It was a dark night. I saw the silhouette of a man. I thought maybe its an enemy. I fought with him. I thought I will defeat him and have my way into some more profits and wealth. He confronted me in that deep, still darkness. But he was very gentle. He would bring me to the points of collapse and then I felt as if he held me. He wouldn’t let me fall, yet he would let me fight. Oh! it took me so long to understand. I saw moments of glory on his face. It seemed like a bush burning. I thought so much exhaustion is causing me to lose my mind. I seemed to hear angelic songs some moments. He seemed to look into my soul through the piercing darkness. He seemed to strangely love me through the pain I caused him. And then slowly but surely it struck me. No, I am not just talking about his hand on my thigh. A blow came upon my heart. I was fighting my God whom I worshipped. I was bringing him to the level of man in my mind. But He loved me through all this. He called me a prince. He went away very fast. Fast enough to leave me with only an option to believe in Him. I saw His heart in His face in the dark. I am no more Jacob. I am Israel.”

    God reveals Himself in most unusual occasions and ways. He is much higher than we think. We need to adjust in our mindset about who He really is to us. Jesus Christ came to show us His face. Even though Jacob still surrounded himself with the gifts to please Esau out of his own fear. The sequence of gifts in Genesis 32-33 is interesting. First came the least important ones and after many layers came the most important one. But God is different. He gave us His best gift first. His own Son on the Cross and through Him, an eternal salvation. And then comes a life of discovery. Discovering the love and grace of God in the darkness and troubles of life. Our theology must accommodate pain, darkness and confusion and many failures. This doesn’t leave an option of insecurity and selfishness in Christian life. It brings in choices of making a sacrifice of praise and service to our fellows. Vengeance is no option, because there is a higher vengeance – blessing those who curse you.

    Truly a person may say, “I have seen Him face to face. No, let me correct it – I have become His face for you. I can pour it out until it hurts. Yet it doesn’t hurt because His face is shining upon me, even in utter darkness.”


  • Calvary Love by Amy Carmichael

    CROSS_RAINBOWIf I belittle those whom I am called to serve, talk of their weak points in contrast perhaps with what I think of as my strong points; if I adopt a superior attitude, forgetting “Who made thee to differ? And what hast thou that thou hast not received?” then I know nothing of Calvary love.

    If I find myself taking lapses for granted, “Oh, that’s what they always do,” “Oh, of course she talks like that, he acts like that,” then I know nothing of Calvary love.

    If I can enjoy a joke at the expense of another; if I can in any way slight another in conversation, or even in thought, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

    If I can write an unkind letter, speak an unkind word, think an unkind thought without grief and shame, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

    If I do not feel far more for the grieved Savior than for my worried self when troublesome things occur, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

    If I can rebuke without a pang, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

    If my attitude be one of fear, not faith, about one who has disappointed me; if I say, “Just what I expected” if a fall occurs, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

    If I am afraid to speak the truth, lest I lose affection, or lest the one concerned should say, “You do not understand,” or because I fear to lose my reputation for kindness; if I put my own good name before the other’s highest good, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

    If I am content to heal a hurt slightly, saying “Peace, peace,” where there is no peace; if I forget the poignant word “Let love be without dissimulation” and blunt the edge of truth, speaking not right things but smooth things, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

    If I hold on to choices of any kind, just because they are my choice, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

    If I am soft to myself and slide comfortably into self-pity and self-sympathy; If I do not by the grace of God practice fortitude, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

    If I myself dominate myself, if my thoughts revolve round myself, if I am so occupied with myself I rarely have “a heart at leisure from itself,” then I know nothing of Calvary love.

    If, the moment I am conscious of the shadow of self crossing my threshold, I do not shut the door, and keep that door shut, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

    If I cannot in honest happiness take the second place (or the twentieth); if I cannot take the first without making a fuss about my unworthiness, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

    If I take offense easily, if I am content to continue in a cool unfriendliness, though friendship be possible, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

    If I feel injured when another lays to my charge things that I know not, forgetting that my sinless Savior trod this path to the end, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

    If I feel bitter toward those who condemn me, as it seems to me, unjustly, forgetting that if they knew me as I know myself they would condemn me much more, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

    If souls can suffer alongside, and I hardly know it, because the spirit of discernment is not in me, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

    If the praise of others elates me and their blame depresses me; if I cannot rest under misunderstanding without defending myself; if I love to be loved more than to love, to be served more than to serve, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

    If I crave hungrily to be used to show the way of liberty to a soul in bondage, instead of caring only that it be delivered; if I nurse my disappointment when I fail, instead of asking that to another the word of release may be given, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

    If I do not forget about such a trifle as personal success, so that it never crosses my mind, or if it does, is never given room there; if the cup of flattery tastes sweet to me, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

    If in the fellowship of service I seek to attach a friend to myself, so that others are caused to feel unwanted; if my friendships do not draw others deeper in, but are ungenerous (to myself, for myself), then I know nothing of Calvary love.

    If I refuse to allow one who is dear to me to suffer for the sake of Christ, if I do not see such suffering as the greatest honor that can be offered to any follower of the Crucified, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

    If I slip into the place that can be filled by Christ alone, making myself the first necessity to a soul instead of leading it to fasten upon Him, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

    If my interest in the work of others is cool; if I think in terms of my own special work; if the burdens of others are not my burdens too, and their joys mine, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

    If I wonder why something trying is allowed, and press for prayer that it may be removed; if I cannot be trusted with any disappointment, and cannot go on in peace under any mystery, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

    If the ultimate, the hardest, cannot be asked of me; if my fellows hesitate to ask it and turn to someone else, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

    If I covet any place on earth but the dust at the foot of the Cross, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

    That which I know not, teach Thou me, O Lord, my God.

    Amy Carmichael, “Calvary Love,”


  • The Rooster – By P Schaller

    The rooster crowed. Twice.

    We know the story from the Gospels. Peter boasted to Jesus and the other disciples that he would never turn his back on the Lord. Jesus knew better: “Before the rooster crows twice, you will deny that you ever knew Me.” Peter, and the others, insisted it would never happen.

    The rooster crowed. Twice.

    And Peter’s heart sank as he caught Jesus looking at him across the shadowy courtyard. Three times Peter had denied his relationship to Jesus, punctuating the final one with a curse.

    The rooster crowed. Twice.

    Peter wept, bitterly. He was not the man he thought himself to be. The good news is that Jesus arose from the dead and re-commissioned Peter. The denying one would be used mightily in the early church and would eventually lose his life as a martyr for the Gospel.

    What about us? Today’s Church says much about Jesus, but are we really with Him? What if push came to shove as it did with Peter? The world we live in is already far down the road away from Jesus Christ and His teaching. In some cases the local church has not made disciples. There is no salt and light, no doctrine, no spice, no cross, no message, no Christ.

    Others have embraced Christ and taught Him. They are disciples as Peter was in the sense of continuing in His word. You are my disciples if you continue in my word (John 8:32).

    The rooster is about to crow, I think.

    In our state of Maryland, voters will face choices on two critical ballot issues: One related to homosexual marriages and the other regarding the expansion of casino gambling.

    The rooster is about to crow. Twice, it seems.

    These issues and how we answer them as believers are sounds in a culture that wants so much to silence the Gospel message. But perhaps they will also alert us to our denial. They are the evidence of a culture going awry. Will we deny the Lord’s message about the depraved nature of man and his need for the Savior? Will we live compromised lives?

    Let’s recognize coldness where it exists in us.
    Let’s see the shadows and cobwebs in corners of our hearts.
    Let’s pray prayers that put fire in the hearts of the men behind our pulpits.
    Let’s drown out the strange sounds of the world with the message of grace and salvation.
    Let’s hold fast to the Book and lift up the Cross.
    Let’s preach Christ and deny Him not.


  • Prayer – why? why not? what? what not? how? how not?

    What you think about God will determine how you see prayer. Prayer can also be termed a mystery. Before we see how it is a mystery, let us first consider a few quotes on prayer from some of the most philosophic minds from human history :

    The fewer the words, the better the prayer.—Martin Luther

    I have lived to thank God that all my prayers have not been answered.—Jean Ingelow

    All things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.—Matthew 21:22

    And Satan trembles when he seesThe weakest saint upon his knees.—William Cowper

    To pray well is the better half of study.—Martin Luther

    Nothing costs so much as what is bought by prayers.—Seneca

    Prayer does not change God, but it changes him who prays.—S. A. Kierkegaard

    Heaven is full of answers to prayers for which no one ever bothered to ask.—Billy Graham

    Some people think God does not like to be troubled with our constant coming and asking. The way to trouble God is not to come at all.—D. L. Moody

    We seem and claim to know prayer, yet not pray as much. In Luke 11, the disciples came to Jesus and made a request, “Lord, teach us to pray..” The idea of prayer as presented in the Bible seems to present many seeming contradictions:

    Ask and you will receive (assurance) vs Many unanswered prayers recorded in the Scriptures and human reality.

    The Lord knows before you ask vs You have not because you ask not.

    Do not pray with vain repetitions vs Keep asking over and over again until He answers.

    When you pray, go alone in the closet vs Pray when you are together.

    Pray continuously – how can that be literally…

    Pray believing vs Pray by faith (Hebrews 11 without seeing the answer)

    Here is the beginning part of the way Jesus taught His disciples in response to their request. “When you pray, say, “Our Father, You are in heaven…..” Prayer is not a religious activity, it is a relational activity. Prayer is not about a holy person practicing his religion, prayer is a weak child before a gracious Father. Prayer is not heaven’s ATM machine, but it is a two-way communication.

    Let me get to the crux of it – PRAYER is not really focussed on man’s condition, but it is focussed on God’s goodness. In prayer I recognise He is a good God. In prayer I learn to trust His nature, more than a religious norm or my ideas. In prayer, I learn that He is not an invention of human mind, but He is truly my creator, my saviour & my father. In prayer I have a communion with Him, who is almost unreachable. In prayer, before my needs are answered, my heart is quenched – and often a lot of times needs are transformed as well. In prayer, I discover a new hunger for My God, My Father, a renewed love story with Him – that I get desperate to come back to Him even without any needs. Truly, David wrote as he learned to pray, “Lord is my Shepherd. I shall not want.” (Psalm 23:1)

    Shall we say this in our hearts? “Lord, teach us to pray!”


  • Sharpened in our Disagreements !

    In John 2:4 Jesus addressed His mother Mary in a surprising unusual way “Woman, What do I have to do with you?….” This leads to two awesome principles regarding spiritual relationships. This year we desire to learn from God the reality of spiritual relationships in our lives personally and the Church. 1. Woman…

        Looking at relationships from God’s perspective rather than just a human standpoint. I hope men started treating our wives first as sisters in Christ and vice versa. The list can be long. Young dating couples, older folks, people in Churches, parents, children – we all can see someone first as a Child of God, Saint in Christ, the Called Out ones before seeing our siblings and spouses and friends in them. Didn’t the bridegroom in Ecclesiastes address his fiancee, “My sister, my beloved”? If we related to people around us like that, then things would be pretty different. Won’t they? 2. “What do I have to do with you?”

        It’s a statement of disagreement. It is an interesting study from the Bible to see occassions in which this statement is made. The person is saying, “I love you and honour you, but the facts of the matter force me to stand on the opposite side.” Disagreements are natural in relationships, not to be turned into despise, or debate, or to be buried under the undefined. In relating to people at natural levels, especially in close relationships, there is a tendency to demand agreement at any cost. In Acts 5:9, Peter posed the question to Saphira, who chose to agree with her husband against the will of God. The false need to get someone to agree often results into manipulating, controlling tendencies.

        Often commands to love or submit or unity can be seen to infer as if disagreements shouldn’t be brought to table and possibly the person with a bit of timidity should give up their opinion in order to seemingly agree. False unity is often manifested in the world we live in. Bible records many classic examples of false unity. In Psalm 2, the nations unite against returning Christ. In Revelation 12:7 and Job 38 Satan and demons are absolutely united. In the story in gospels four conflicting groups Pharisees, Sadducees, Roman governor Pilate and Herod, the king united against the Saviour to put Him on the Cross.

        However, Biblically speaking, disagreements in spiritual relationships are a place of discovery – discovering Christ in You and Myself. We really do not need to always agree for the sake of agreeing. In relationships we can retain and let other retain their rights to express disagreement and bring it in prayer before the Lord and allow Him to bring us to a place of discovering His perspective on the situation. Often, it is very much possible that we both were partly wrong to start with. We grow in our relationships when we learn to properly communicate disagreement, define it for what it is and then correctly deal with it before God. It’s the process of iron sharpening iron (Proverb 27:17).

        There is a classic Biblical passage on marriage and relationships in Ecclesiastes 4:9-11, “Two are better than one….. For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow…… if two lie together, then they have heat: but how can one be warm alone?…. and a threefold cord is not quickly broken.” We are not called to be uniform, but we are called to be united. We are called to be sharpened, warmed up and be lifted up in spiritual relationship. Be sharpened and sharpen someone – both happening together because of God in the middle of it.

        Awesome! Let’s declare this year that we have an expectation from God to make us deeper, thoughtful, more meaningful, genuinely loving and very fruitful in Spiritual Relationships – with God, with our family, in the Church, in our Communities. God bless!

    Pastor Devendra

    January 16, 2012