Thursday, December 22, 2011

Keeping Christ in Christmas: A "Cross-less" Christmas is a "Christ-less" Christmas

Anybody notice the Christmas decorations out there at the end of November already?? Store circulars are out in full force with the familiar holiday merchandise. You can see, "For Every Wish" signs in the big stores instead of "Merry Christmas" and even Winnie the Pooh and Tigger standing with Santa these days in displays. Anyone also notice less and less angels and nativity scenes? Even less of "Christmas" trees because now they're called "holiday" trees. Just like happy holidays instead of "Merry Christmas." It is the most wonderful time of the year. No doubt, the most universally festive occasion in the entire world. The post offices throughout the nations gain special attention during this time as mail and gifts are transported to millions of recipients in a flurry of activity everywhere. Most people would like to be home but some like the military cannot. Special tokens of affection are sent to them and others in a similar situation who are, "out of station", as they say. The atmosphere is absorbed with a general pause on the realities of life and death and replaced with a tremendous emphasis instead on a fantasy world. Entertainment and plenty of seasonal refreshments are necessary staples, without which Christmas would not be the same.
For the believer, it is even more wonderful. Christmas cheer to us is supposed to be something genuine and lasting. We know our, "Reason for the season" and so our celebration has depth and breadth and height etc. because it is the love of God that sent the Lord Jesus Christ to earth as a baby born in a manger. Wouldn't it also be a good time to do some soul searching this year? Perhaps, it is time for a truly, spiritual look at our whole approach to the season. What if we humbly yield to the Holy Spirit and ask Him to weigh our hearts and correct any misconceptions and wrong attitudes or sinful actions that may have been routinely entertained in our hearts and minds during the past Christmas celebrations?
We may have been brought up with just the celebration part (and the associated preparations) in mind during Christmas. Even in the church, this may be common as everyone gets ready to stage that musical or banquet. Christmas can be a joyful time for all believers and it should be, but perhaps another angle to it is there that has not been considered by most. The leap from the status quo of nominal Christian celebrations during Christmas to a deep, soul cleansing experience of lasting joy for the mature believer can be found at the Cross of Christmas. May it be something that will touch your soul as you read the following paragraphs. It will make your Christmas that much more meaningful and joyful.
Please know this: because the Cross is not remembered as it should be at Christmas, (which is the reason why He came in the first place), the world has been given the space and necessary ammunition it has required to steadily take Christ out of Christmas. Instead of God and His Christ being honored, everything but Jesus is recognized and idolized. Many Christians are faithful patrons of Christ-hating merchants and businesses who make it a point to take Christ out of Christ and who have no doubt that their merchandise will sell to so-called believers because the nominal believers do not really care about whether the Christ in Christmas should remain there. But then again, without the Cross, what kind of Christ is one left with anyway?
Sadly, for many nominal believers and even good church going people, Christmas is about getting those gifts stored up for the grand day which is more important than defending the honor of the One Who gave us Christmas in the first place. One can get so caught up in the festivities, decorations etc., that in actuality, the Jesus of the Bible is nowhere to be found in their Christmas celebrations.
Christmas shopping, music, concerts, dinner, parties, laughter, good times, gifts all topped off with a security measure: prayer! A Christmas prayer to, calm or anaesthetize the conscience. Usually, among most church goers, Jesus is given a lot of lip service but He does not have any say in their lives at all! This is the season to be jolly! But they want to celebrate Christmas. A few sentimental holiday carols and some charitable deeds perhaps. Yet, truth be told, they are self-centered, frivolous, busy-bodied, worldlings who have their eyes fastened on this material world after all with no real affection for things above. The fact that prayer was made is supposed to make it Christian. Think worldly, act worldly but have a Christmas prayer and perhaps some Bible reading or a sermon in the church. To such nominal folk the cross of Christ is distasteful and repulsive. In all honesty, dear reader, does this describe you?
Talk about the Cross at Christmas time, one may ask? Now, who would ever opt to think about the crucifixion of Jesus Christ at Christmas? Indeed, it is a rare thing for anyone to think about the Cross of Calvary at Christmas time. Yet, the Truth is that the two are inseparable.
A true Christian will always follow Jesus as He reveals Himself in His Word. However, the majority of those who call themselves Christians are fond of the world. Therefore, the majority must never be the Christian's guide. It is readily understood by at least some professing believers that the majority in the world are in gross error doing as they please as they use the Name of the Lord God in vain with mock manger scenes and sentimental carols because they do not believe in His Name to begin with. However, let it not surprise the person who would follow the Lord and inherit eternal life to know that the majority in the visible church are also following a Christ child of their own making reveling in the vanities of the season, arm in arm with the world.
The Christ child was formed in the womb of the virgin girl in order to die for the sins of the world. To minimize this Truth or to ignore it at Christmas would be meaningless. While we do not celebrate Easter at Christmas, nevertheless we cannot deny the atonement and the resurrection at Christmas. The conspicuous absence of a reverent and holy approach to the season celebrating the birth of the King of kings and Lord of lords is due to the glaring fact that the Cross of Christ is not central to the life of so-called believers.
In fact, the Christmas story presented by the inspired writers has more of the Cross than many would think or may wish to acknowledge. Listen to what the Scriptures say during that very first Christmas season:
"And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins." Matthew 1:21
And Simeon blessed them, and said unto Mary his mother, Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel; and for a sign which shall be spoken against; (Yea, a sword shall pierce through thy own soul also,) that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed. And there was Anna, a prophetess, daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher, she was much advanced in days, having lived with an husband seven years from her virginity, and she [is] a widow of about eighty-four years, who did depart not from the temple, with fasts and supplications serving, and she, at that hour, having come in, was confessing, likewise, to the Lord, and was speaking concerning him, to all those looking for redemption in Jerusalem. night and day Luke 2:34-38

Here is another passage that is usually read around this time:
For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even forever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this. Isa 9:6 -7

The peace which the Prince of Peace in this "Christmas passage" is revealed to be the peace that was purchased by the Blood of His Cross:
"And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself " Colossians 1:20
Now let's see how this child grew up and the whole reason why He was born into this world:
For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him.
He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.
But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.
All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.
He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.
He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken.
And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth.
Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand.
He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities. Isaiah 53:2 -11

Dear friends, please set apart some time to deliberately think about the cross and what it meant for the Christ Child who was destined to die for our sins and what it means to you and it will surely revive your soul and give real meaning to your celebration of His birth this Christmas season.

O Lord, thank You for Your Mercies toward us in sending Your Beloved Son Jesus Christ to be born into the lowest estate amongst animals, to walk in the midst of a hateful, selfish, sin-loving society, and to die on a horrible cross for sinful people like us, so that we can be freed from a masquerading lifestyle that calls itself Christian, while in truth it actually seeks to court the world's favor and idolize the passing vanities of this life.
Help us, dear Father to glorify only You from now on as we truly ought, by approaching Christmas with a childlike wonder coupled with spiritual maturity in wisdom and adoration. May this year mark for us a permanent departure from a worldly attitude towards Christmas. Help us to become spiritually mature by meditating on the Cross of Christ which was set up for our redemption from the foundation of the world.
Yes, Lord, by Your grace, may we worship You in holy reverence, gratitude, and complete surrender to Your Will in our lives this Christmas season. Help us to know the Eternal Joy that is ours now, through the suffering of our Loving Savior, Jesus Christ on our behalf on the Cross. In His Name we thank You, Amen.

Have a Blessed, Christ-centered Christmas!

Written By: Bro. Pradeep Stephen, New York, USA.

Friday, December 02, 2011

Andrew Murray

This is a biography of an amazing Christian writer, dynamic preacher, and a missionary statesman of the 19th century. The highlights of this write-up on the life history of Murray are "Revival" and "Work of the Holy Spirit."

Andrew Murray hailed from a remote Dutch-Reformed Village, Graff Reinet in South Africa. He was born on May 9, 1828, as the second of the 11 children of Rev. Andrew Murray Sr. and Maria Murray. Rev. Andrew Murray Sr. was pastoring a Dutch-Reformed Church. He was a man of prayer and was constantly praying for revival in his country. Young Murray’s life was influenced greatly by his father’s prayer life and by other great men of men of God such as David Livingstone and Robert Moffat.
Andrew Murray completed his formal studies in Scotland and his further studies in Theology and Dutch language in Holland. He returned to South Africa after being ordained at The Hague. Andrew Murray was just 20 years of age when he started preaching the Word of God. He rode on his horse for miles and days and conducted meetings for the Dutch-Speaking South African Farmers. His dynamic preaching about Christ Jesus often attracted a huge multitude of people. However, at one point, he was so desperate that he said, “when I look at my people, my peace forsakes me. I am forced to flee to the Master to seek a new and a more entire surrender to His work. My prayer is for service, but I am held back by the increasing sense of my own unfitness for the work. I lament that awful pride and self-complacency that have till now ruled in my heart. O that I may be more and more a minister of the Spirit.”
God took him through a path wherein Andrew fought against his pride and understood the greatness of humility. This enabled him to produce a masterpiece on ‘Humility’. Andrew Murray writes in his book, “The deepest humility is the secret of truest happiness - a joy that nothing can destroy.”
In his book called “Absolute Surrender”, Murray gives a beautiful illustration on just what absolute surrender means. “God claims absolute surrender from us. It means everything has to be given up to its special, definite object and service. Pen in my hand must be absolutely surrendered to my hand if I am to write properly with it. If another holds it partly, I cannot write properly. God cannot work His blessed work in us without absolute surrender from our behalf. If our hearts are willing for absolute surrender there is no end to what God will do for us and to the blessing God will bestow.’’ Later, Andrew recalled the lessons God had taught him as follow: “If only we did not so often hinder Him with our much trying to serve, how surely and mightily would He accomplish His work of renewing souls unto the likeness of Jesus Christ.”
Andrew Murray was a multifaceted man of God. He was not only a preacher, pastor, and writer but also a missionary statesman. Andrew Murray was invited to speak in the Keswick Convention in 1895 and he was responsible for bringing this movement to South Africa. These conventions enabled people to progress in holiness, faith, and prayer. These conventions are considered to be the best place for recruiting the missionaries. He also wrote, “The Key to the Missionary Problem.’’ This book emphasizes more fervent prayer and fresh dedication for the cause of the missions.
Andrew Murray was a prolific writer who continued to write until he crossed over into glory in 1917. He has written more than 240 books and most of his writings were focused on sanctification and edification of the believers. Originally, his books were written in Dutch, later they were translated into English and various other languages. Andrew Murray’s life and writings have touched the lives of the Christians across the globe. His books such as, With Christ in the School of Prayer, Abide in Christ, The Deeper Christian Life, and Absolute Surrender have been found to have great impact on the prayer life and the ministry of the readers. Andrew Murray has greatly blessed the Christendom with the richness of his spiritual wisdom and his ability to perceive and to cater to the needs of God’s people.
All his life Murray had been working and praying for revival in South Africa, but he did not understand when the actual outpouring took place in his own church. He realized it after being convicted by the Holy Spirit that it was the work of the Spirit.
We Christians are called to move into deeper experiences in Christ Jesus.
In Luke 5:4-6 we read, “Now when he had left speaking, he said unto Simon, ‘Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a draught.’ And Simon answering said unto him, ‘Master, we have toiled all the night, and have taken nothing: nevertheless at thy word I will let down the net.’ And when they had this done, they inclosed a great multitude of fishes: and their net brake.” Here we see the fruitless efforts of Simon Peter and when he goes deeper with Jesus and casts his net as per Jesus’ direction, he is able to obtain a splendid fortune and much happiness. Our Lord Jesus Christ wants us to go to the depths of the fullness of the Holy Spirit and not just knee deep, but to be inundated in the River of God and be led by the current of the Holy Waters to bring forth revival in our house, locality, and nation.

Fixed ideas, preconceived notions, and certain convictions will sometimes hinder the working of the Holy Spirit, but discerning things with the help of the Holy Spirit and the Word of God will keep us cautious about new doctrines that crop up everyday in these last days as well pave way for a true revival.

God bless you as you yield to go into deeper waters to be led by the Spirit of the Living God!!

Written By: Shanta Daniel
[Copyright@ Permission is granted to duplicate this article in its entirety, but only without additions, alterations or omissions of any kind, including the author and ministry name at the end]

Friday, November 25, 2011

God's Great Faithfulness!!

I was not sure what I was supposed to write until this evening after waiting the whole day asking God to reveal the word for the blog. I wanted to be impeccably led by the Spirit of God. Finally, Job’s life came to my mind with a few songs related to it. Job’s story speaks of Job’s integrity and God’s blessings to a man of Integrity. But the Spirit of God highlighted the faithfulness of God in Job’s life. God’s faithfulness is amazing. Bible says “Taste and see that the Lord is Good.” We can boldly say that God is good in good times, when we see the blessings in our lives. The truth is He is ALWAYS good. God is good all the time and all the time God is good.
One of the most astounding personality traits of God is His faithfulness. None of us can surpass God in any of His characteristics. For example, we cannot outgive God or we cannot be more truthful to him than He to us. Likewise, we cannot be more faithful than Him and prove that we are more faithful to Him than He to us. The reason is HE ALWAYS EXCELS. He is the ZENITH of every good character and the PINNACLE of every virtue. Psalms 57:10 & Psalms 36:5 Your love, LORD, reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies. He is the fullness of love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, kindness, gentleness, faithfulness, self-control, all the 9 virtues of the Spirit.
Well, let’s get to the story of Job. Job had to go through a time of trials, in which he lost all his wealth, people, and health. He was brought to nothing, but he still had breath in his nostrils. His friends became judgmental and started advising him. His wife was ready to see him die. In such a situation, Job said “Though HE slay me, yet will I hope in Him.” Job 13:15 He kept his integrity before the Lord in word and deed, in attitude and in action. Job chapter 19 describes his pathetic state, in verse 20 we see “I am nothing but skin and bones; I have escaped only by the skin of my teeth.” However, in verse 25 he confesses by faith “I know that my Redeemer lives.” He implies that God will surely redeem him.

But do you think Job’s faithfulness was much greater than that of God. No!! When God revealed His faithfulness to Job, it was AWESOME!!! Job got double-fold blessings!! He got back his children, servants, animals, and wealth, all double-fold. Double for all his troubles!! That’s God's faithfulness.

The Lord says in Isaiah 61:8 "For I, the LORD, love justice; I hate robbery and wrongdoing. In my faithfulness I will reward my people and make an everlasting covenant with them."

God’s faithfulness is revealed to give double-portion of blessings. Isaiah 61:7 Instead of your shame you will receive a double portion and instead of disgrace you will rejoice in your inheritance. And so you will inherit a double portion in your land, and everlasting joy will be yours.

God’s faithfulness is revealed to comfort (Isaiah 61:3) all who mourn and provide for those who grieve in Zion— to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise, instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of His splendor.

The following song of Marty Nystrom was and is one of my favorites. This has been my confession and I have sung this song umpteen times with tears rolling down my cheeks. I love this song soooo very much. The lyrics are so powerful and have carried me through the tough times. Sharing the lyrics here so that you be blessed as you sing before Him, the ultimate in faithfulness.

God bless you as you celebrate God’s faithfulness this day of Thanksgiving and forever!!
My redeemer lives
And I will see His glory
As He works all things
Together for my good
Whatever things occurred
Of this I can be sure
I know my redeemer lives
I know my redeemer lives

Even though I walk through the valley
I will fear no evil for He is with me
And on the battlefield although the pain is real
My struggle soon will fade as His glory is revealed

My redeemer lives
And I will see His glory
As He works all things
Together for my good
Whatever things occurred
Of this I can be sure
I know my redeemer lives
I know my redeemer lives

Psalm 40:10 - I do not hide your righteousness in my heart; I speak of your faithfulness and salvation. I do not conceal your love and your truth from the great assembly.

Written By: Shanta S. Daniel
[Copyright@ Permission is granted to duplicate this article in its entirety, but only without additions, alterations or omissions of any kind, including the author and ministry name at the end]

Friday, November 18, 2011

Like a little child!!

This post revolves around a prayer time with one of my friends. We were talking to each other before we started off with our prayer time. Her little one came to her saying that she did not understand the Scripture portion that she was reading. It looks like twice my friend had sent her child away saying not to disturb, but third time she said “okay, let me explain it to you, and then you’re up on the bed.” The scripture portion was Isaiah 60, the whole chapter. She read out the chapter, verse by verse, and gave explanation in simple words that the child can relate and understand. Once she finished with it, we started praying. As we prayed, we realized that the Lord has actually spoken to us from the Scripture portion. He has reaffirmed what He had spoken to me the previous week. Also, to my joy and surprise, it was a reconfirmation of my personal promises (most of the verses in that Chapter are my personal promise. I received them in 1997, at which time I did not understand the meaning of those verses fully, but I was jumping with joy as I knew it was the Lord’s Rhema Word).
We never expected for such a move by the Holy Spirit. He chose the child to be instrumental in bringing out His Word on the day that Indians celebrate as “Children’s Day” November 14. Jesus said in scriptures, “Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it” Luke 18: 15-17. To be like a little child is to be simple, innocent, completely trusting, submissive, confiding. There is openness, transparency, guilelessness. We have to completely trust the Lord’s word. Many times our analytical intellectual abilities and reasoning skills of the grown-ups will not help our walk in the KINGDOM, because they contradict the KINGDOM BELIEFS. We just need to simply trust the Word of God “like a little child”  and will have to believe 100% that our DADDY GOD is faithful to fulfill His Word in our lives.
Isaiah 35: 8 (AMP) and a highway shall be there, and a way; and it shall be called the Holy Way. The unclean shall not pass over it, but it shall be for the redeemed; the wayfaring men, yes, the SIMPLE ONES and fools, shall not err in it and lose their way.

Matthew 19:14 (NIV) 14 Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”

Matthew 18:3-5: And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me.

 Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me.

Philippians 2:15 so that you may become blameless and pure, "children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation." Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky.

Dear Child of God be blessed as the Holy Spirit ministers to you!!

Written By: Shanta S. Daniel
[Copyright@ Permission is granted to duplicate this article in its entirety, but only without additions, alterations or omissions of any kind, including the author and ministry name at the end]

Friday, November 11, 2011

The Christian Cop!!

Every Monday morning (IST), my friend/my mentor, Kiruba Stephen and myself pray together for a specific prayer point. This Monday I mentioned a word "police" in our conversation. The very same day, when I happened to see their website, I came across this article. I felt the urge to share this article, but I was not sure if it was God's will. On Wednesday night, there was an incident happened, which has caused me to share this article. This article may not be applicable to all, as this is written for a cop,however, could be informative for all of us who are not "cops."
A couple who are working in my office lost their way to their home on Tuesday evening because of "traffic diversion," they being not familiar with Chennai routes as they are not native of Chennai, and reached home after midnight. The wife (who also works in my office)is in her 8th month of pregnancy. I did not want them to waste much time in the busy traffic like the previous day and I offered to lead them on the way to their home as they have to pass through the area where I live on Wednesday night. I went along with them in my Honda. I rode ahead of them until we reached their familiar route. While I was returning home, I was suddenly hit from behind by rash-riders. The impact was great as I could feel the intensity, but somehow I was not thrown off the vehicle. I could manage to stop my vehicle decently without skidding. There was no damage in any way, but it could have happened!!(Amazing is the Lord protection!!) There was a gentleman, passerby, stopped these speeding miscreants and questioned them. One of the guys, started fighting with that gentleman, while the other left the scene. All of a sudden, a man in civilian clothes came and caught the guy who was fighting and took him a little further up on the road where there was a patrol jeep and a couple of uniformed officers. Near the jeep, another cop was having another guy caught. The cop in civilian clothes questioned me if these were the ones who rear-ended my vehicle. I identified them that one of them was and other was not the one. As soon as I confirmed, they slapped the guy right royally and got him into their patrol van. This is the first time such a thing happened in my life, a person caught by police, the person being identified by me! As a Criminologist, I do know how important is the work of Police Personnel in this crime-filled society. I wonder how much more would be the importance of a Christian Police Personnel!! How much more is their significance in their work place and in society!! Go ahead and read and be blessed!!
Cops. We are the custodians of public safety. At least that's the way society looks upon us for the most part. That's what the local government entrusts us with. We are supposed to be alert to any potential disturbance of the peace, remain calm under great pressure and use professionalism and courage in responding to conflict and crime.

What a great pressure that itself could be sometimes! Peer pressure doesn’t help any either.

For those who would deny the temptations particular to our profession, there is only one logical conclusion. They are either not trying at all to live up to their duties or are living in a fantasy land, where there are no moral absolutes.
(But is there an answer?) One might say, that there are no morals anymore. Evil and wrong seem to be the dominant force in today’s world. Anything goes. Well, that again is a, "copout" from our moral responsibility as human beings first to not harm but help our neighbor. Even more so especially as enforcers of “law and order.”
(But what’s the solution?) Not what, but WHO?
Jesus Christ, God the Son. Well, then what about the cop who knows there is a God. The Christian Cop who knows that the Lord Jesus Christ died at Calvary to redeem fallen people like ourselves all over the world from a life of misery and eternal damnation?
What impact does Jesus have on my professional career? What do I do when I’m around, “the boys” (and “girls” in uniform for that matter)?
Do I get numb after a while from seeing the murders and suicides and so on. Can I use that as an excuse for behaving like the wicked world? Like unsaved fellow officers?
The Christian is still in a fight, that’s for sure. He has to keep his guard up or he will fall. But the Lord says, we have to be holy inspite of an ungodly atmosphere. That’s His demand upon our life and our great privilege. To truly follow Him, by keeping those commandments we know we should keep. He gives us great encouragement and power for living the, “straight and narrow” kind of life in the broad way of hypocrisy and drunkenness that characterize those who are trusting in themselves. The Bible calls them fools, as you know. Why? Because they cannot keep themselves alive even for a millisecond much less save themselves from God’s wrath and Hell and yet they have a macho mindset that they’ll beat the odds somehow and make it ok inspite of living in sin, inspite of rejecting the Almighty God of the Universe.

A police officer faces lies and shameful stories and ungodly speech and arrogance not only on the streets everyday but also “inside” among the ranks as well. Lots and lots of hypocrisy and backstabbing and stepping on shoes to get ahead. Just like in the corporate world; only here, it’s the very people who are supposed to uphold the moral law for all. Some of them are doing the very things (and sometimes worse) that they lock others up for.

What is the Christian Cop to do under such assault from the Devil’s people?
How can this cop who claims to have met the Living Lord cope? Not just cope, but be actually victorious over evil?
Well, he has got to depend upon and seek the Lord. And that means to have a habit of praying always. Pray that God would give him/her the grace to go through the day without presumptuous sin especially. What’s presumptuous sin? It is willful sin.
May God have mercy upon us. Every thing we do for Him, including policing the neighborhood or the government buildings and territories, the hospitals, the violent school districts, the Metro system etc., will be rewarded one Day. Do we realize that?
It’s not just to make that salary and get through that day all beat up. Sure we can have days where we get an extra serving of Satanic opposition, but it’s all in the knowledge of our Father in Heaven Who gives us the opportunity to be victorious inspite of that.
The tough cop, hero image, the TV and movies’ product are all aimed at boosting that ego; the self. A true hero sacrifices yes, but for right reasons. You see, the Christian Cop wants to truly give Jesus the Glory for any acts of heroism that he is able to accomplish. Not just say, “I was just doing my job” as we hear so many times.
If we focus on Christ and His Honor in all we speak and think and do, then we will be a light in that dark district. In that dark precinct for that matter.
Isn’t it ironic that the place that is supposed to deter and punish crime so very often becomes a safe haven for, “uniformed criminals” within?

How can you be that light, dear Christian Police Officer?
The Bible says that law enforcement personnel should not oppress civilians and take advantage of them. This includes not only false arrests and so forth, but also slander and mockery of the ordinary citizens and foreigners too. Those who don’t really have a voice; those who can’t retaliate when a cop treats them unjustly. You know what I mean.
Luke 3:14, “And the soldiers likewise demanded of him, saying, And what shall we do? And he said unto them, Do violence to no man, neither accuse any falsely; and be content with your wages.” {Do violence…: or, Put no man in fear} {wages: or, allowance}
At the same time, we must not wink at sin; that is, not pretend that there is no evil going on. Rather, we must be bold and call sin, sin! Whether it concerns civilians or co-workers (superiors included).
“Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!”{call…: Heb. say concerning evil, It is good, etc}Isaiah 5:20

Conversation, Conduct and Company.
Watch your speech. the words you use should not displease the Lord but be fitting for a Christian. Even under pressure. For you are a born-again soldier in God’s army first and foremost before you are anything else.

Watch your conduct.Restrain yourself from foolish outburst of anger and arrogance. Be noble. Know that God’s eyes are on you all the while you are on your beat (as well as off duty, of course). Be humble. Meekness is not weakness in the eyes of the Lord but rather praiseworthy before His Presence. You are to conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of His Great Name and not to please others who are lost in the filth and folly of this world.

Watch the company you keep. If there are lewd jokes, if there is deceit and fraud occurring to your knowledge among your co-workers, then separate yourself from them. The Bible says that we should not be deceived; evil company corrupts good morals. If you are forced to work with the one(s) who are immoral in their behavior and unethical in the way they work, then you must not participate in the same. As the Holy Spirit leads you must have the courage and concern to object to that unrighteousness. Pray in faith and ask the Lord to lead you to fellowship with other believers who are serious about following the Lordall the way.

A Christian who is not undergoing persecution in some form from their environment for being godly, are probably playing with God and their so-called Christianity. The Lord will say, “I never knew you” on that Great and Terrible Day of Judgment.

Following Sept 11, Police Officers especially here in New York City were suddenly elevated to hero status just by virtue of wearing the uniform it seems. God is the hero. We are zero. Even if we have those coveted stripes or medals or other insignia or the best firearms and latest tactical training and the greatest mental/physical ability. We are still zero. Without saving faith in Jesus, we would all be going straight to Hell.

Christian Cop, are you a living testimony that your fellow officers can see? A testimony of righteousness and holy sobriety? A testimony of kindness and humility?

You may be thinking, well that’s a pretty tall order! Well, God has given us the Holy Spirit to make all that godly statement possible in our lives! So we have to, “grow up and fit into our clothes”; our, “uniform” of righteousness as it were!

Are you a witness of the Lord? Do you look for and avail yourself of the opportunities to, “rescue” souls from falling under God’s final wrath against evil and evil doers and to help those willing to listen from going to Hell?

Pray before you start on your way to work. Pray during roll call. Pray during your tour.Pray during meals. Pray at sign off time. Thank God on the way home. Pray all the time for grace and wisdom and thank God for everything as the Scriptures say and you can’t go wrong. God never let anyone down who asked Him in faith.

If you live holy, you’ll be that light in the darkness indeed and even the people you arrest will know the difference between a Christian Cop and the rest. For the Glory of God, be Blessed today as you Obey Him!

One more thing, just remember please …

In God’s sight right now and on Judgment Day, CPR (courtesy, professionalism and respect won’t keep you safe from destruction and certainly won’t get you that promotion into Heaven (cause even evil men and women can muster up some manners and pride), but only being washed in the HOLY BLOOD of JESUS CHRIST and obeying the three C’s (CCC holy conversation, conduct and company) will.
(Please go back up a little bit and re-read the definitions for those three C’s if you will and live out a life of Power and Love for Jesus, especially on the job! May God Bless you dear reader.)

Written By:
Bro. Pradeep Stephen

Friday, November 04, 2011

Salvation from Sheol!!

This devotion is very deep and thoughts for this devotion kept coming to my mind since early this week. The thoughts/points are immense and I was not sure if all the thoughts could be penned in a crisp and clear manner.

Early this week, the Lord was reminding me of the life of King Saul, the rise and fall of the goodly king. The beginning of this person was good but the end was very unfortunate. There are various reasons for his fall including shifting of his priority from God to post, position, people, and success, leading to disobedience, etc. The one major factor that made him to deviate from walking blameless before God was that his priority shifted from God to people. Holy Spirit gave the following verses as the key to walk blameless before God and to continue to work out our salvation with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12),
Psalm 16:8-11 (Amp) I have set the Lord continually before me; because He is at my right hand, I shall not be moved (shaken). Therefore my heart is glad and my glory [my inner self] rejoices; my body too shall rest and confidently dwell in safety, For You will not abandon me to Sheol (hell), neither will You suffer Your holy one [Holy One] to see corruption. You will show me the path of life;

This is the Psalm of David, King Saul’s successor. In Psalm 16, David tells us the way to keep oneself from the destruction of one's soul. David says in a simple way that he has kept the Lord before Him continually and therefore, he says that his soul will not go to hell, and God will show him the path of life and utterly save him. Keeping the Lord before oneself is a deep truth to be practiced. The Lord searches our heart (Romans 8:27), therefore nothing can be hidden from Him. PEOPLE JUDGE BY THE OUTWARD APPEARANCE, ACTIONS, BUT THE LORD WEIGHS THE HEART. So, David says in simple words “WHAT MATTERS TO ME IS THAT WHETHER I AM PLEASING JESUS ALWAYS. WHAT MATTERS TO ME IS TO WALK IN SPIRIT AND NOT TO BE LED BY FLESH. I WILL NOT BE SHAKEN IN MY FAITH NO MATTER WHAT HAPPENS. THE LORD SHALL SHOW ME THE PATH OF LIFE AND LEAD ME TO SAFETY FROM ETERNAL CORRUPTION.”

King Saul did not keep the Lord always before him and that has led to his downfall. The story of Saul begins with him searching for his father’s lost donkeys and when he is about to give up the search, his servant says to him to go to the seer (prophet) who lives in that town, where they have come, and ask him about the lost donkeys. Meanwhile the Lord says to Samuel the Prophet, "I have found a ruler over Israel who is a Benjamite who will come to you shortly and you will anoint him as king over Israel." When Saul meets Samuel the Prophet, Samuel says that his donkeys have been found and the entire desire or attention of Israel has been turned towards him and his family line. Saul says then “But am I not a Benjamite, from the smallest tribe of Israel, and is not my clan the least of all the clans of the tribe of Benjamin? Why do you say such a thing to me?” Samuel reveals the plan of God to Saul saying that he has been chosen by God to be the King of Israel. When he is anointed, the Spirit of the Lord descends upon Saul and he starts prophesying and people start wondering what has happened to Saul and if Saul also is one of the prophets like Samuel. To cut short the story, when the lot is drawn to select the ruler of Israel, Saul name comes up, and they seek for him to bring him up before people as he is now hiding behind the goods. When he is brought before people, some of the people despise him saying that “is he the ruler over us? Is he going to save us?” The people cannot accept Saul though he is chosen by God.

I Samuel 10:20-27
20 When Samuel had all Israel come forward by tribes, the tribe of Benjamin was taken by lot. 21 Then he brought forward the tribe of Benjamin, clan by clan, and Matri’s clan was taken. Finally Saul son of Kish was taken. But when they looked for him, he was not to be found. 22 So they inquired further of the LORD, “Has the man come here yet?”
And the LORD said, “Yes, he has hidden himself among the supplies.” 23 They ran and brought him out, and as he stood among the people he was a head taller than any of the others. 24 Samuel said to all the people, “Do you see the man the LORD has chosen? There is no one like him among all the people.” Then the people shouted, “Long live the king!” 25 Samuel explained to the people the rights and duties of kingship. He wrote them down on a scroll and deposited it before the LORD. Then Samuel dismissed the people to go to their own homes. 26 Saul also went to his home in Gibeah, accompanied by valiant men whose hearts God had touched. 27 But some scoundrels said, “How can this fellow save us?” They despised him and brought him no gifts. But Saul kept silent.

Let us move on in the life of Saul under the light of the verses I Samuel 13: 7 through 14:Saul remained at Gilgal, and all the troops with him were quaking with fear. 8 He waited seven days, the time set by Samuel; but Samuel did not come to Gilgal, and Saul’s men began to scatter. 9 So he said, “Bring me the burnt offering and the fellowship offerings.” And Saul offered up the burnt offering. 10 Just as he finished making the offering, Samuel arrived, and Saul went out to greet him.
11 “What have you done?” asked Samuel.
Saul replied, “When I saw that the men were scattering, and that you did not come at the set time, and that the Philistines were assembling at Mikmash, 12 I thought, ‘Now the Philistines will come down against me at Gilgal, and I have not sought the LORD’s favor.’ So I felt compelled to offer the burnt offering.”
13 “You have done a foolish thing,” Samuel said. “You have not kept the command the LORD your God gave you; if you had, he would have established your kingdom over Israel for all time. 14 But now your kingdom will not endure; the LORD has sought out a man after his own heart and appointed him ruler of his people, because you have not kept the LORD’s command.”

I would like to draw your attention to Saul’s reply, “When I saw that the men were scattering, and that you did not come at the set time, and that the Philistines were assembling at Mikmash, 12 I thought, ‘Now the Philistines will come down against me at Gilgal, and I have not sought the LORD’s favor.’ So I felt compelled to offer the burnt offering.” When he saw the men scattering, when he saw that men were restless because of the delay, when he saw that he would lose people strength, when he saw that he would lose people support or manpower to fight the enemies, he wanted to do something to retain the people on his side and he was compelled to offer the burnt offering, which he was not supposed to do. Although he says that he wanted to seek the Lord's favor, he wanted to fight against the enemies of God, he should have been aware of the ways to win the Lord's favor. Saul did not have a personal relationship with God as David had. He did not love the Lord and did not yearn to learn His Ways. Saul was not justified by his excuses. The prophet rebukes Saul for his action saying that the Lord wants our obedience than our offerings.

When we look into the root cause of this disobedience, deep beneath there has already been a shifting of his priorities from God to his post, his position, people strength and to prove himself as a King.
God chose Saul when he was going behind the donkeys. When he was in obscurity, the Lord brought him out in public and honored him. When he was brought before the public declaring that he was the chosen King, there was unacceptance of the people; some despised him. The Lord established Saul by giving him victories over the battles. The victories and people support made him to deviate from the course before the Lord. We see that many people do well and are applauded of their walk when they are in wilderness, in obscurity, but faltered before God when they are established and "settled."

Let this truth be established in our hearts, people will come to us only when we have something that is appreciative like talents, looks, money, status, etc. But the Lord sought after us when we were nothing and while we were yet sinners God loved us and gave His only son Jesus. THE TRUTH IS WE CAN AFFORD TO BE REJECTED BY MEN; BUT WE CANNOT AFFORD TO BE REJECTED BY GOD. WE CAN AFFORD TO BE A FAILURE BEFORE THE EYES OF MEN. BUT WE CANNOT AFFORD TO BE SAID "Thou art weighed in the balance and art found wanting" BY GOD.

When everything that adorns us is stripped away from us, we are nothing less than the dead; our closest one will abandon us (life of Job). When breath of life is taken away from us, we are no more among the living. God is the giver of life. He makes everything out of nothing. He transforms nobody into somebody. He remembers us in our low estate. He lifts us up from the miry clay and makes us to stand on the Eternal Rock. If this TRUTH is etched in our hearts, we will not fail to set the Lord before our eyes, we will not falter from dying daily to flesh and self. We will work out our salvation with fear and trembling, our soul will not be abandoned in sheol; our soul will not see corruption!!

Dear Lord, thank you for speaking to us a word of caution. Lord give us grace to keep you before our eyes continually. Give us grace to WALK IN SPIRIT continually. Your word is the lamp unto our feet and light unto our path. Help us to walk according to your WORD. Help us to work out our salvation with fear and trembling. Help us not to be a superficial Christian. Help us not to be shallow in our Christian Walk. Lord give us the grace to have an appreciable ending of our Christian Walk inheriting the Crown of Life. In Jesus Name, Amen.

Written By: Shanta Daniel
[Copyright@ Permission is granted to duplicate this article in its entirety, but only without additions, alterations or omissions of any kind, including the author and ministry name at the end]

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Wilderness – Way to Spiritual Growth

The key verse to this message from God is Luke 1:80 (Amp) “And the little boy grew and became strong in spirit; and he was in the deserts (WILDERNESS) until the day of his appearing to Israel [the commencement of his public ministry].”
What is Wilderness?
Wilderness, in the literal meaning, is a wild and uncultivated region, as of forest or desert, uninhabited or inhabited only by wild animals; a tract of wasteland. Wilderness in the spiritual sense is a state of being in loneliness, deprivation of companionship, dreariness, barrenness, depopulation, lack of abundance, uncomfortable situations, lack of safety and security, and in OBSCURITY (the condition of being unknown/ not popular/inconspicuous).

Why Wilderness Experience?
Thou shalt remember all the way in which Jehovah thy God hath led thee these forty years in the wilderness, to afflict thee, to tempt thee, to know what was in thy heart. He fed thee in the wilderness with manna, which thy fathers knew not, to afflict thee, and to tempt thee, to do thee good in thy future time (Deut. 8:2, 6).

1. In wilderness, the Lord tries us to know what is in our heart. (Deut 8:2)
2. In wilderness, our Spirit becomes STRONG. (Luke 1:80)
3. In wilderness/ in times of trials, we are formed and molded for the DIVINE PURPOSE.
4. In wilderness, we get qualified to receive blessing (goodness) from the Lord after being tested and tried (Deut 8: 2, 6).

Who were some of the people who went through such wilderness experience in the Bible?

Abraham and Sarah – Abraham was righteous, god-fearing, was having an intimate relationship with God Jehovah. Nevertheless, Abraham and Sarah were barren until the age of 100 and 90 respectively. The promise of God for Isaac came at the age of 75 to Abraham and He waited for 25 years for the accomplishment of the promise.

Zechariah and Elizabeth - “In the days when Herod was king of Judea there was a certain priest whose name was Zachariah, of the daily service (the division) of Abia; and his wife was also a descendant of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. And they both were righteous in the sight of God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and requirements of the Lord. But they had no child, for Elizabeth was barren; and both were far advanced in years.
The couple was praying for a child for a long time and they became very old, yet the prayer was not answered until the Angel of the Lord visited Zechariah and says that their prayer was answered. Luke 1: 13 “But the angel said to him: “Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to call him John.”

Hannah: She was the wife of a man named Elkanah. Elkanah had 2 wives one was Hannah and another was Penninah. Penninah had children and Hannah had none. Hannah was going a through a wilderness of barrenness and reproach. “and the LORD had closed her womb. Because the LORD had closed Hannah’s womb, her rival kept provoking her in order to irritate her. This went on year after year.” I Samuel 1:6,7

Joseph: Joseph is a well-known bible character who went through wilderness experience in his life. He was hated by his brothers because of their envy, was separated from his father, sold as slaves to strangers, spent his precious time of his youth as a slave doing all kinds of chores. He exhibited loyalty, sincerity in his work, did good but got back bad, was falsely accused of committing adultery, was put in prison. He did good things to his fellow prisoners but was forgotten. He was going through wilderness experience for 13 long years.

Moses: He was brought up as a prince and was educated in the palace, yet he had run to out of his country in order to save his life and had to take up a profession which was totally not related to his upbringing and education. His wilderness was taking care of his father-in-laws sheep and cattle for 40 long years.

What is the outcome of the wilderness experience in these people lives?

Abraham and Sarah: Got Isaac the promised son, who is the Old Testament shadow of Christ. Abraham is blessed by God as Friend of God, Father of Faith, and Father of Many Nations. Sarah is blessed by God to be the mother of a nation through whom the world is blessed.

Zechariah and Elizabeth: Became the parents of John the Baptist, the fore-runner of Christ, the messiah, and the greatest among all who were born of women. Matthew 11:11 “Truly I tell you, among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist.”

Hannah: Became the mother of the greatest Prophet of Israel Samuel. She also became the mother of Samuel’s siblings. God blessed her with multiple children with the first one being the one of the greatest in the History of Israel.

Joseph: He became the second-in-command to the King of Egypt, The Pharaoh. He also became the savior of his community and fulfilled the God’s Purpose of saving the Israelites and sustaining them in a foreign land.

Moses: He became the leader, law-giver, prophet of Israel. He led the Israelites out of the land of bondage to the Land of Milk and Honey.

In summary, the duration/severity of the wilderness is directly proportionate to the outcome that is purposed in our lives. The greater is the outcome lengthier/tougher is the wilderness. The above-said people got an extraordinary outcome of their wilderness in their lives. There are no short-cuts for spiritual growth and maturity. We can find a way to escape the wilderness and be smart to learn from other’s experiences, and we will surely get points for preaching and praying, but character formation and molding of our personality to fulfill the god-ordained purposes will be lacking. We have to yield ourselves to go through experiences of wilderness for our growth and for fulfillment of our God-Ordained Purposes.

In conclusion, WILDERNESS is the WAY TO OUR SPIRITUAL GROWTH and there are no other short-cuts to grow and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. (Ephesians 4:13), James 1:2-4

But the GOOD NEWS is that “THE LORD IS WITH US” as we go through the god-ordained wilderness experiences. He fed thee in the wilderness with manna, which thy fathers knew not, to afflict thee, and to tempt thee, to do thee good in thy future time (Deut. 8:2, 6). HE SUSTAINS US IN THE WILDERNESS AND TAKES US INTO THE PROMISED LAND. WE HAVE TO LEAN ON TO THE BELOVED WHILE PASSING THROUGH THE WILDERNESS as mentioned in Song of Solomon 8:5 “who is this coming up from wilderness leaning on her lover?”

Dearly beloved, it is our part to prove faithful and obedient to Him through the testing times. May the Lord strengthen us to successfully pass through the wilderness, maturing unto the fullness of Christ.

Be Blessed!!

Written By: Shanta Daniel
[Copyright@ Permission is granted to duplicate this article in its entirety, but only without additions, alterations or omissions of any kind, including the author and ministry name at the end]

Saturday, October 22, 2011


Protection is the act of protecting or the state of being protected; preservation from loss, injury, or annoyance. It also means defense and shelter; as the weak need protection.

Are we thoroughly protected from annoyance, loss, injury (emotionally or physically)? – No!! The fact is everybody is attacked in some form or the other. Certain things are the consequences of one’s own act and some do happen without any reason. Psalmist says in 109: 3, “With words of hatred they surround me; they attack me WITHOUT CAUSE.” Psalm 35:19 “Let not those gloat over me who are my enemies WITHOUT CAUSE; let not those who hate me WITHOUT REASON maliciously wink the eye."

You and I are in this world full of pride, deception, dishonesty (with no integrity), ungodliness, wickedness, hatred, jealousy, envy, sarcasm, and all kinds of evil. We are in a ruthless dog-eat-dog society. People may become malicious and jealous about other's growth and opportunity and somehow want to pull others down, if not for any other reason than to just derive a kind of happiness (utterly sadistic!!).

Christians are called to be like “innocent children amidst the perverse generation.” Though we are innocent in conducting our matters, are we well-guarded from the harmful actions and attitudes of others in family, office, church, and in society? Are we protected, safeguarded, covered, sheltered, screened, and shielded from the evils against us. INNOCENCE IS NO PROTECTION FROM THE EVILS IN OUR SOCIETY. Are we always in the victim mode from the attacks that harm us? Do we have to get hit at all times even for doing the right thing? Are we to just keep running like King David away from the pursuing people?

Over the years, I have understood that we can be attacked in all spheres of life and no area of life can be excluded from harmful attacks.

I was looking for some prayer format for protection that could be offered for protection against outside jealousy, envy, malice, etc. I came across the following one of Patrick, the missionary of Ireland.

Prayer for God's Protection and Christ's Presence:
“As I arise today, may the strength of God pilot me, the power of God uphold me, the wisdom of God guide me. May the eye of God look before me, the ear of God hear me, the word of God speak for me. May the hand of God protect me, the way of God lie before me, the shield of God defend me, the host of God save me. May Christ shield me today...Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me, Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me, Christ on my right, Christ on my left, Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit, Christ when I stand, Christ in the heart of everyone who thinks of me, Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me, Christ in every eye that sees me, Christ in every ear that hears me. Amen. “

According to history, Patrick is a missionary who led multitude of pagans in Ireland to Christianity. History also adds that he almost changed Ireland to a Christian Nation.
Though the in-depth meaning of this prayer is impressive, I was not quite satisfied until I GOT the RHEMA WORD OF PROMISE from – Psalms 121: 4 through 7.
“Behold, He who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. The Lord is your keeper; the Lord is your shade on your right hand [the side not carrying a shield]. The sun shall not smite you by day, nor the moon by night. THE LORD WILL KEEP YOU FROM ALL EVIL”

The latter part of the verse is sooo convincing and I am thoroughly satisfied in mind and spirit. This is the confidence we have in the ONE who protects us. He is a constant guardian, faithful keeper, completely shielding us from all evils. We can sleep and rest without worry, knowing that ONE who keeps us will neither slumber nor sleep. THE LORD PROTECTS US FROM ALL EVIL. 
If anything tries to hurt you, it has got to penetrate through the hedge of God around you. Surely and certainly it turns out for your GOOD and not for EVIL, because as it gets through HIS hedge the effect of the attack is altered from EVIL to GOOD by the MIGHTY GOD.

The Lord says, “Because ______ (put your name) loves me, I will rescue her/him. I will protect her/him, for she/he acknowledges my name. She/he will call upon me and I will answer her/him. I will be with her/him in trouble, I will deliver her/him and honor her/him. Psalm 91: 14, 15

So, we have the blessed assurance that we are well-protected by the Almighty God and let us claim and declare the promise of God for protection in our lives.

Be Blessed!!

“And He never sleeps, He never slumbers, He never tires of hearing our prayer. When we are weak He becomes stronger. So rest in His love and cast all of your cares on Him”

Written By: Shanta Daniel
[Copyright@ Permission is granted to duplicate this article in its entirety, but only without additions, alterations or omissions of any kind, including the author and ministry name at the end]

Thursday, October 20, 2011

How Can You Have a Truly Fulfilling Marriage?

The fullest statement of Divine Love in any earthly relationship, is that which should be found in a Christian marriage. The husband is given the glorious privilege of representing Jesus Christ in the relationship and the wife has bestowed upon her the great privilege of representing the Church.

It is indeed a mystery. The implications of such a correlation of the eternal, Divine relationship between the Lord Jesus Christ and the Body of Believers with that of the temporal, human relationship between a husband and wife is, to say the least, an astounding wonderment!

Matthew 19:5-6: And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.

Eph 5:31-32: For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.

What do we really understand about all this?
The husband and wife actually become one in spirit and flesh! This unregenerate, perverse world only knows and centers on the, "flesh" part.
(Also, please note how many problems come in the picture when parents become involved in, "running the marriage!") Once the man has left his parents, there is now a whole new family of which the husband is the, new authority in the home and he is directly under the authority of Christ.

Now, God does not expect us to have an absolute, perfect understanding of this marvelous mystery. However, He does expect us, indeed commands us, to obey those clear instructions, which He has spelled out in His Holy Word, the Bible.

Question: Does your marriage reflect the Divine Love of the Savior?

Here is a checklist for the Husband and Wife:

Things to do:
Husband, do you?

1. Love your wife (love her as Christ loves the church, love her like you love yourself; like you love your own body; [assist her(sacrificially)even in menial duties(love expressed)])? Eph. 5:25, 28
2. Honor your wife (treat her as the most special person in the whole world; cherish her)? 1 Pet 3:7
3. Live with your wife with understanding (are you considerate of her needs, being aware her emotional/psychological makeup etc.)? 1 Pet 3:7

Wife, do you?

Read Proverbs : 10-31
1. Love your husband (are you concerned about his every need and are generally supportive of him)? Titus 2:4, 1 Pet 3:6
2. Obey your husband (as the church submits herself to Christ, quick to do what he says [as long it is not contradictory to Lord's Will] without giving a debate, without challenging him or expressing bitter sarcasm)? Eph 5:22, 24, Col 3:18, Titus 2:5, 1 Pet 3:1
3. Respect your husband (privately and publicly) that is in thought as well as in words, tone, facial expressions, gestures, in speaking to others about him etc.) Eph 5:33a
Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; Eph 5:22-25

Any major problem in marriage is usually due to a lack of proper love (which really covers the other qualities mentioned above as well) on the part of one or both of the individuals.
Note: God does not say to modify or regard as non-applicable any of His commands because the other partner does not measure up to our expectations spiritually, mentally, emotionally or physically. Nor does he ever mention that these commands are culture-specific. This is Love Divine.

As far as the physical (sexual) relationship in marriage is concerned, Scriptures declare that the spouse is to give his/her body over to the other spouse and not regard it (selfishly)as his/her own. Again, the self-sacrificing statement of true love is expected once again in everything, including in the sexual relationship between a husband and his wife.

You can be happy in every way, (including experiencing sexual fulfillment) when you are obedient to Jesus.

Let thy fountain be blessed: and rejoice with the wife of thy youth. Proverbs 5:18

Let the husband render unto the wife due benevolence: and likewise also the wife unto the husband.

The wife hath not power of her own body, but the husband: and likewise also the husband hath not power of his own body, but the wife.
Defraud ye not one the other, except it be with consent for a time, that ye may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again, that Satan tempt you not for your incontinency. 1 Cor 7:3-5
Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge. Hebrews 13:4

Things not to do:
Husband, do you?

1. Behave unfaithfully to your wife (are you adulterous? do you flirt with anyone in gesture, speech or thought?)Ex. 20:14, Malachi 2:14, Matt 5:28
2. Get bitter with your wife (do you despise her, refuse to forgive or forget any past difficulties or communicate with her?) Colossians 3:19

Wife, do you?
1. Behave unfaithfully to your husband (are you adulterous? do you flirt with anyone in gesture, speech or thought?) Ex. 20:14, Prov. 12:4
2. Try to lord it over your husband? (are you bossy in speech or gesture, privately or publicly?) 1 Tim 2:12

If any of these above mentioned things are present respectively in either partner, then it is no wonder that there is so many troubled marriages today, especially in the Church!
The whole trouble with people begins when any of God’s commands is treated as optional instead of instantly giving, implicit obedience once the knowledge of God’s Law of Love is made known to the understanding.

What to do when you are right and he/she is wrong?
Here is perhaps the most famous initial complaint heard in marriage counseling sessions all around the world.

First, we must be sincere before God because He will call us into judgment one day if we are not truthful in our speech or motives (Prov 21:2). Is it really true that you are right with regard to the above-listed commands that apply to you particularly? Is the other person truly the only one to blame for your marital problems/difficulties?
If not, then you do your part; obey the commands of God which apply to you; whether you are the wife or whether you are the husband) and the problem may well, solve itself all of a sudden.
1 Pet 3:1

If it is true that you are the completely, “innocent” party, then here is a wonderful solution for your situation, the “only” (workable) solution. Do your part faithfully and continually anyway, regardless of whether that person is obeying the Lord and doing, his/her part or not. This is not optional! It is the command of God!
Then God can also use us to be His instrument in, winning over our spouse back to God and ourselves. 1 Pet 3:1

If you are provoked or simply lose it, then ask God for forgiveness right away and forgive one another as Christ forgave you.
Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath:
Ephesians 4:26 - Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye. {quarrel: or, complaint}

Colossians 3:13 - We refuse to obey to our own peril and will be held responsible (before the Lord) with the other disobedient partner for the ruin of our marriage.

Of course, the Good News is that with God all things are possible. That is even a failing marriage, a marriage that is about to "die" can be, "resurrected". This can and will happen, if we, in faith, simply obey God, putting all our feelings aside. God never says, you may obey some of my commands when you choose to do so or you may obey my commands when you really feel like it. No! We must follow His marriage preserving, peace producing, love-fulfilling commandments and then we will not grieve the Holy Spirit but rather enjoy Life and Divine Love with our spouse! (Psalm 128)

All couples would do well to read, the Love chapter, 1 Corinthians 13 in the Bible in order to remember/understand what Divine Love really is.

Pay particular attention to verses 4-7:
(Charity is used here for love)
Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, {vaunt meaning to speak boastfully} Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; {in the truth: or, with the truth} Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.

The Lord does not want an immature, self-pleasing, lustful, carnal, material-oriented, superficial, worldly love that is so prominent in this age. As Christ is the head, so the husband is given the authority in the marriage relationship. As the Church is the body of Christ, so the wife is given the duty of submitting to the Head, which in the marriage context is the husband. The husband must lead the family and the only way he can do this properly is to seek God daily himself and then give of the wisdom and Christlikeness he receives daily to the family. The husband is the priest of the house; he must read the Bible and pray daily for guidance from God and in turn, lead and guide the family, ensuring a spiritual atmosphere in the home. The wife must also seek God daily in reading the Bible and praying sincerely, in order to support her husband in maintaining that spiritual atmosphere. Both the husband and wife must obey the Word implicitly and their goal should be to become more and more Christlike in attitude and action. This point cannot be emphasized enough. There are many spouses who read and pray daily, like a mechanical chore and never grow up spiritually because they don't apply the Word to themselves and obey God immediately.

Also, in passing it must be pointed out that the children will only grow up right in the presence of God and before the husband and wife when they(the children) don't see hypocrisy. Instead, in a godly family, the children will see love and faith in action, daily. Many a conflict between a husband and wife result from playing the blame game for the disobedience of rebellious children when actually the spouses have been hypocritical before the children, who have been subsequently "driven" away from God. If you have sinned, husband and/or wife, then repent and God will mend that which is broken. He is a God of miracles and He is able!

If ever you are tempted to think, "How can I ever forgive my spouse for doing such and such a thing to me; to irritate me, to embarrass me, etc., just remember that God in Christ has forgiven you a much greater debt of sin on your part than you'll ever have to forgive your spouse for. If you are sincere, then you will readily forgive him/her and show self-sacrificing love.

As simple and straightforward as the checklist may appear, it is actually the measuring stick by which we can know how we are doing in making our marriage, "heaven on earth" for ourselves and for our spouse. So, please, please just do it.

God does not beg for obedience but commands us.
However, we in the Spirit of Christ, like Paul the apostle, are constrained by love to plead with you, so as to help you foil the devil's plan of creating unnecessary tensions and quarrelings amongst yourselves and showing you that the battle, first of all, is spiritual in nature.
We must not deal with anyone after the flesh(carnally/worldly) anymore, especially our spouse.
We beseech you, because most probably you don't know what joy, what happiness you are missing when you are not doing what the Word says about walking in the Spirit in married life. This article is intended to lead you to be truly fulfilled in what God has for you in marriage. That is please, just obey what God tells you to do (husband and/or wife), turning your back on all other negative things the devil tries to make you feel or think.

Please obey your Heavenly Father without questioning and without delay and He will strengthen you and pour out His Love upon you in an even greater measure and will make you and your spouse a most powerful, united weapon against the devil and his demons!

Just remember that a man and his wife united in prayer is the thing the devil hates most in a marriage! Why? This seeking of God together in prayer will lead to their effectiveness as a couple in the kingdom of God. It is like Christ and His Church united forever; NO MORE DEVIL IN THE PICTURE! HE (THE DEVIL) CAN'T COME IN BETWEEN THEM ANYMORE AND SO THEY WILL BE IN LOVE ALWAYS; WITH GOD AND WITH EACH OTHER!

In the midst of a decadent, hopeless world in which actually, the love of many will wax cold because of the all pervasive nature of sin in society (Matt 24:12), we are commanded to be the expression of the Divine Love between our Blessed Savior and His Body, the Church, as everyone witnesses our Christian marriage to the praise of His Glory.

Written By: Bro. Pradeep Stephen
New York, USA

Monday, October 10, 2011

The Proverb 31 Woman!!

Proverbs 31: Portrait of a Godly Woman
For thousands of years, God-fearing women have looked to the noble, or virtuous (KJV), woman of Proverbs 31 as their ideal. Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ, probably had this role model of the virtuous woman in the forefront of her mind from earliest childhood. Most Jewish women did, for this poem was traditionally recited in the Jewish home every week on the eve of the Sabbath.
But what about today’s woman? Of what value can this ancient poem be to the diverse, complex life-styles of women today? To the married, to the single, to the young, to the old, to those working outside the home or inside the home, to those women with children or without children? It is more relevant than you might at first expect — although it is also too good to be true.

The Proverbs 31 woman was the wife of a city elder (verse 23) and a respected figure in her own right (verse 31). Some of her many responsibilities included buying and selling merchandise. Illustration by Larry Salk

When we examine this ancient biblical ideal of womanhood, we do not find the stereotyped housewife occupied with dirty dishes and laundry, her daily life dictated by the demands of her husband and her children. Nor do we find a hardened, overly ambitious career woman who leaves her family to fend for itself.
What we find is a strong, dignified, multitalented, caring woman who is an individual in her own right. This woman has money to invest, servants to look after and real estate to manage. She is her husband’s partner, and she is completely trusted with the responsibility for their lands, property and goods.
She has the business skills to buy and sell in the market, along with the heartfelt sensitivity and compassion to care for and fulfill the needs of people who are less fortunate. Cheerfully and energetically she tackles the challenges each day brings. Her husband and children love and respect her for her kind, generous and caring nature.

But with all her responsibilities, first and foremost, she looks to God. Her primary concern is God’s will in her life. She is a woman after God’s own heart. Let’s examine the characteristics of this remarkable woman — a role model for Christian women today.

"A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies." The Hebrew word chayil, translated here "noble," or "virtuous" (KJV), means a wife of valor — a strong, capable woman with strong convictions. This description of the ideal wife does not agree with those who associate femininity with weakness and passivity.

"Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value." Her husband trusts her management of their resources. Her industriousness adds to the family income. 

"She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life."  This woman does not do right only when it is convenient and profitable. Her actions are not based on how she is treated by others or by what others think. Her character is steady. She is reliable and dependable.

"She selects wool and flax and works with eager hands." This woman enjoys working so much that she plans ahead for what she needs in order to accomplish her responsibilities.

"She is like the merchant ships, bringing her food from afar." The trait not to settle for the mediocre is portrayed by a woman who goes the extra mile for quality items.

"She gets up while it is still dark; she provides food for her family and portions for her servant girls." Though the woman described here has servants to take care of many of the household duties, she sets the pace. She understands that good managers have a responsibility to take care of those under their authority. That is one of her top priorities.

"She considers a field and buys it; out of her earnings she plants a vineyard." Every woman doesn’t have to go into real estate and horticulture — the principle here is that this woman uses her mind. She does not act on a whim, but logically analyzes a situation before making a decision. Her goals are not only short term — she envisions the long-range benefits of her decisions.

"She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks." We get a picture of a woman who vigorously goes about her duties. She keeps herself healthy and strong by proper health practices — good diet, adequate rest and exercise. Many people depend on her.

"She sees that her trading is profitable, and her lamp does not go out at night." She knows that her merchandise is good and takes pride in doing a good job. Night or day, no one worries that her responsibilities are not taken care of.

"In her hand she holds the distaff and grasps the spindle with her fingers." The example she sets is one of skill and industriousness. Whether this woman would be a computer programmer, a concert pianist, a mother, or all three, she develops her talents and hones her skills through education and diligent application.

"She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy." Although it’s good to donate to needy causes, this means far more than writing a check. This woman shows personal concern. She visits the sick, comforts the lonely and depressed, and delivers food to those in need.

"When it snows, she has no fear for her household; for all of them are clothed in scarlet." Providing clothing for the family is one of her responsibilities. She takes this seriously, and plans ahead. She does not practice crisis management.

"She makes coverings for her bed; she is clothed in fine linen and purple." This woman has high standards and dresses properly for the occasion.

"Her husband is respected at the city gate, where he takes his seat among the elders of the land." This man does not have to spend half his time trying to straighten out problems at home, and his success in the social world comes partly from her support, just as her success comes partly from his support. The original woman of Proverbs 31 couldn’t phone her husband for his opinion on matters. She made many of the day-to-day decisions about their property and goods. He trusted her to manage the estate efficiently.

"She makes linen garments and sells them, and supplies the merchants with sashes." This woman runs a business from her home. Her efforts and industry add to the family income.

"Strength and honor are her clothing; she shall rejoice in time to come" (NKJV). Not only does this woman benefit each day from her wise and diligent actions, long-term lifetime benefits and rewards lie in store for her.

"She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue." This woman is well read and has the facts. She knows what she is talking about. Whether about her job, her personal values or her opinion on world events, she is able to express herself intelligently, tactfully and diplomatically. People come to her for good advice.

"She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness." She is an organized, energetic person who carries out her responsibilities.

"Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her." This woman is not a doormat, slavishly trying to appease and please her family, no matter how unreasonable their demands. She is honored in her home. Here we gain an insight into the character of her husband as well. He teaches their children to respect her and the virtues she personifies.

"Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all." High praise for this extraordinary woman — a role model for women of all time.

"Charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised." Here is the key to this woman’s effectiveness. Her priorities are determined by God’s will, not her own. She is concerned about what God thinks, rather than with what other people think. Physical beauty and clever conversation are admirable qualities. But if a woman’s beauty and charm are the extent of her virtues, what happens when time and the trials of life take their toll? This woman does not depend on beauty and charm for her success. She recognizes her need for God.

"Give her the reward she has earned, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate." This woman is actively doing, not merely talking. She does not boast about her plans for the future or her successes of the past. They are obvious.

Does this woman sound too good to be true? Perhaps she is. The woman described here is an idealized woman, a composite of many capable women. After all, not all people have the same skills. Some women’s strengths are in music or art. Others may be in mathematics, teaching or business. Some are better managers and organizers than others. While some women may excel at coming up with ideas, others may be more skilled at creating or producing what has been invented by someone else. No one excels at everything.
Some women work for several years after high school or college before marrying. Others, for one reason or another, do not marry at all. Does this mean that unmarried women cannot be Proverbs 31 women? No. Although this chapter describes a married woman, marriage and motherhood are not prerequisites for the successful Christian female’s life. The essential characteristics of the Proverbs 31 woman can be applied to the single woman, too.

The model woman described in Proverbs is a portrait of ideal womanhood. The focus of this portrait is a WOMAN'S RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD, NOT HER SPECIFIC ABILITIES OR MARITAL STATUS. The Proverbs 31 woman realizes that regardless of her natural talents or acquired skills, or all her accomplishments, her strength comes from God.

WHO IS A VIRTUOUS WOMAN TODAY? Proverbs 31 tells you that IT IS THE WOMAN WHO PUTS GOD FIRST. The ideal woman of Proverbs 31 should encourage all women everywhere. Cultures change, but this woman’s God-inspired character still shines brightly across the centuries.

Sheila Graham
Copyright © 2003

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