Total Surrender

Total Surrender

 

A week ago I was listening to Bishop T.D. Jakes quote a verse from 2 Timothy 1:12 and that caught my attention ever since. I am going to write about that today.

2 Timothy 1:12

For this reason I also suffer these things; nevertheless I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day.

May God bless you richly as you continue to read this blog.

 

Paul writes this passage from a Prison in Rome. He writes to Timothy, a young Pastor, whom he had trained and appointed at the church in Ephesus. Timothy was more than a fellow co-worker. Paul calls Timothy as a true son in the faith. It’s is clearly evident that Paul’s relationship with Timothy crossed the regular boundaries of a “minister and co-worker relationship.” There were many who worked along with Paul in advancing the gospel but Timothy out of all of them seemed to have caught Paul’s heart that Paul wrote two letters to him to impart the valuable lessons and to motivate and to encourage him in ministry.

At this point in time; Paul is in Prison. So Timothy, his son in the faith, might have been ashamed of his spiritual father, mentor and guide because of his imprisonment. Imprisonment was not something to be celebrated. That is why Paul writes, 2 Timothy 1:8 says, “Do not be ashamed of me(Paul).”

As a young servant of God, Timothy would have been going through emotionally turbulent times. He’s young; not sure of everything that needs to be done; Timothy might have needed Paul the most at this time but Paul is imprisoned; He had very few people to stand with him in ministry; He was concerned about his life and future probably worrying if he would also be imprisoned one day like Paul.

I could sometimes relate with what Timothy is going through; being a young person in the ministry can be heavy lifting task. A task bigger than life; it can be overwhelming and daunting; fear of future could overtake at times.

But Paul as he pens this beautiful teaching to Timothy. Paul knowing what Timothy was going through; Paul does not address the problem directly but turns his focus towards what’s more important. Paul turns timothy’s attention towards life and on the God who leads it.

Paul writes, “For this reason, I also suffer these things; nevertheless, I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day”

Paul begins by saying that he is not ashamed because of one reason. The reason is that he knows whom he has believed and knows for sure that He is able to keep what Paul has committed to him until that day.

When Paul received the calling, he wasn’t a jobless rogue going around the streets causing strife but he was an important and highly respected person in the society. But when God called him, he left the life that he considered worthy of honor and respect to follow God.

When God calls, he begins with an act of surrender. We surrender our plans, desires and will to follow God’s plans, desires, and will. In other words, we are exchanging our life with his life. That is why Paul writes, “I no longer live but Christ lives in me, the life I now live I live by faith in the son of God.”

And so when you think about life after coming to ministry. It is often easy to say, “Oh, I need a build a good life.” I need to make sure I have all that need.” I need to make sure I am financially stable and well to do. I need to make sure I hold an honorable position, status and respect in the society. Eventually, we become so full ourselves in ministry that we still control some part our lives. But Paul lived a life of total surrender. He knew that his life was not his own but that he had given it to the Lord when he found him. So his life was not precious to him nor the pleasures but knowing God and accomplishing his will mattered to him the most. That is why he says,

Philippians 3:7. But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ

So when he writes this to Timothy, He writes a very affirmative and a bold statement that his life did not matter to him because he knew who he had given it to. And he knew that God is able to guard what he had committed till that day.

When we look at ourselves. Sometimes there are so many things we could look back and say I wish I had that, I wish that happened in life. We often desire things that we had left for the Lord. Sometimes there is so much of struggle in our flesh that makes us think the past was better than the current times. The past days were simpler than the ones now.

We are stuck in such thinking because we are still holding on to our own lives than surrendering it to God completely. We have not given every part of our life to him. We might have given to God but we are still looking at the past and saying that those days were somewhat good.

We have to arrive at such a commitment to God’s will and plan. Paul did not consider his life precious but knew that he trusts a God who is able to keep his life until that day when he sees him face to face.

I could go on writing more and more about his verse. There’s more to say and learn from this passage but I want to end it saying that our Life isn’t worth living until it is fully surrendered into the hands of God. Because he only can make us arrive at our Goal. Our abilities, our talents, and gifts will never lead us to our goal but only entrusting our lives in God’s hands will bring us that far.

Paul arrived at the end of his life and said, “I have finished my race.”  He was so confident that he had completed what God had wanted him to do.

Let us also arrive at such a point in our life where we can say boldly that I have finished my race because I entrusted my life in the hands of God.

The Past that hurts

The Past that hurts

We all have a past. If we look back, it hurts.

Though there are good memories, if we look back there are memories that can hurt us.

If you step outside and ask people in their mid 30’s to share a memory from their past; they will answer with extra caution because they wouldn’t want to let out the dark part of their past to any stranger. But if you were to ask a kid what he did in the past year, he would have a ton of happy stories to tell you.

So, why are we that way? Why do we, in our 20’s and 30’s, clearly remember the past hurtful memories more than the good and happy ones?

Why do we remember the times when our hearts were broken, more than the times when we found peace, joy, and happiness in Christ?

Why do we remember the times we were embarrassed in front of a people than the times we were praised and appreciated in front of people?

Why ?

Maybe such memories burn deep into our heart that often times we leave them there with a desire to keep them as the monument of our past. Some like to keep their memories that way. Some like to erase it. Some like to keep but at the same time erase it (Torn apart between two things). But one thing to remember is that the more we cause the past to linger the more it will become the weight that pulls us down.

No matter how we move forward in life, we find ourselves coming back to the same memories, life and habits. We really haven’t moved forward rather we have only moved forward carrying with us the shackles of the past and chains of guilt and hurt still tied on to us.

I love this scripture, Psalmist says,

Psalms 130:3. If you, LORD, kept a record of sins, Lord, who could stand? 

The Psalmist had a deeper revelation, he knew that God never kept a record of his past when he prayed to God and said, “I am sorry.”

he goes on to say,

Psalms 130:4. But with you there is forgiveness, so that we can, with reverence, serve you. 

God knows our past and knows all that we have done but still offers forgiveness. So that we can be called his children.

So now, because God has forgiven our sins and hasn’t kept a record of our past. We as his children do not have any obligations, rights or responsibilities to keep the past alive in us.

We are now, called to serve him with all our heart, soul, and mind: throwing away the past that hurt us, throwing away the past that kept us back all these days, throwing away the past that told us we are incapable of achieving anything in life. We are now, called to serve him with peace, joy, and tranquility.

If God doesn’t keep a record of our sins then we shouldn’t.

God is able to make all things new in our life.

Heb 8:12 says, For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.”

Forgetting past hurtful memories is a miracle. Only God can help us get out of it. Ask him and he will heal you of every past hurtful memory.

And now that you have been forgiven, restored and set free; set yourself on the course to run.

Heb. 12:1-2 Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

Let’s us throw away every hurtful memory by asking God to heal and help us get over it. And set ourselves on the course to run by fixing our eyes on Jesus, the one who started the faith and the one who can perfect the faith.

In my former days, I was a pornography addict but now I have developed a hate and displeasure towards it. It’s been five years since I gazed my eyes on any of those websites. That is something only God can do. God has changed my life so much that the past doesn’t hurt. Rather when I look back at it, I rejoice because I’ve been forgiven and set free.

If God can do that for me. He can do it for you.

Allow God to take control of your life. He will make it GLORIOUS.

I was inspired to write this blog after I read a blog(and the comments) titled, “Reclaiming Childhood” by Beauty Beyond Bones. Read that article here

He came to give us Peace

He came to give us Peace

Christmas is a time of fellowship, joy, giving and even taking gifts or for some demanding gifts. 😀

It is often easy to give materialistic things but not so easy to give peace. Why is that? Because we ourselves don’t have peace in life. As a result, we struggle with sadness, depression, and addictions.

Two thousand years ago. The world at that time,  specifically world of the Jewish people were going through the dark ages. This was called as the “Intertestamental Period” or “Silent Years”. It lasted for 400 Years.

During those times there was no prophetic word from God. Everything seemed to be dark and dull. It was at this time Jesus was born into the world bringing joy and gladness and putting an end to the silent period. He was born in a manger as a king. He split time. The years before him were called as BC, i.e. “Before Christ” and the ones after him as AD, a latin word called as “Anno Domini” means “After Christ.”

When he was born the Angels brought news to the shepherds, “They said, We bring you good news of Great Joy that will be for all people.” So when Jesus was born, there was a joy for the whole world, and there was peace for all mankind.

Later when Jesus began his ministry, He said these words, and it is recorded in John 10:10, “I have come so that you may have life and life in abundance.”

Quite often, I get to meet young people and counsel them. I was talking to a young boy a few days ago. He is in the early twenties. He called me to ask for prayers, He was saying, that he tried to kill himself but somehow survived. He made a few decisions that changed the course of his life, and it took away the peace from him. And for the past few weeks, he has been battling with suicidal thoughts.

The World Health Organisation, released a statistics many years ago saying, that around the world, one person dies every six seconds.

I’m not sure if you are following the news in our country(India). There are people, who are asking our Government to make suicide legal. As of now, Suicide is illegal in our country but there are people who are asking to make it legal, saying that they have the rights to take their own life.

It is estimated that more will die in the next 10 years out of depression than anyone has ever died of cancer in the last 10 years.

You may be reading this and thinking, come on man, this is the season of Christmas, why are you writing about suicide and depression.

The truth is this, we make the mistakes of seeing Christmas only as a time of Celebration..i.e. sing a few songs, party a bit, enjoy the festival season, hang out with friends late night, do what you want and enjoy life to the fullest.
And quite often, we miss the message of Christmas.

The Message of Christmas is this, that Jesus came down into this world to give peace, hope, and Joy to all mankind.

John 3:16, For God so loved the World that he gave his only begotten son that whosoever believes in him will not perish but will have everlasting life.

Often times, we miss this message. That is why we end up in a bad state of life.

There are people who borrow money just to enjoy the Christmas in a glamorous way; at the end of the festival season, the lenders will come knocking at their door to get their money back. But, by then, they are totally out of all our resources. Some try to indulge themselves in drinking and partying so that they can forget all their worries and sadness.

I tell you this, worries and sadness are like your money lenders, they will come looking for you everyday…if they don’t find you or if they are not able to attack you that day…they will come back another day to attack and eventually Kill you.

Now the Question is this, How can I get this peace?

If we read the scriptures we see time and time again, God promises peace. In the Old Testament, Jesus has been given a name that is “Immanuel” which means “God with us”.

Many of us feel lonely at times. We feel like we need people to happy. We want someone to be around us always so that we can feel like, Yes I have someone. And when we don’t have anyone around us, we begin to feel lonely and depressed. We feel like we need someone to keep us happy.

Some of us try to live lives so that they can be accepted by others or accepted by their group of friends. So they do all it takes to fit into the lifestyle that others prefer. Even if it’s good or bad they are ready to embrace it because they want to be around people and not alone.

Lecrae, a gospel artist said like, “If you live for people’s acceptance, you will die of their rejection.”

Truth is, A person who has never learned to be happy alone can never be happy when he is in a group.

People suffer from sadness.

A Man when to Psychiatrist, to get himself treated for depression. He was depressed. The doctor looked at him said, instead of taking medicines, I suggest you go to this circus and watch this clown.. probably he will make you happy. When this man heard those words from the doctor. He put his head down. The Doctor asked what happened. He said I am the clown from the circus that you spoke about.
A Man who made everyone laugh with his tricks was never happy himself.

So the Bible clearly says, Jesus is Immanuel, that is, he is “God with us” and goes on to say,
In Isaiah 9:6, He will be called wonderful Counselor, mighty God, everlasting father, Prince of Peace.
I want you to keep this word in your mind, “Prince of Peace”.
You see, the Immanuel, “God with us,” came down to be with us, and “because he came, we have peace”

We try to look for peace and happiness in relationships, in people, in movies, in songs, in our work and in everything we do. But we have failed to look unto Jesus for our peace.

He was called the “Prince of Peace” and an “Everlasting father”. There is no God like him. He gives peace to people who seek him and is a father to the fatherless and the orphans.

When Jesus said I have come so that you may have life and life in Abundance. That means. When you believe in Him. You won’t get to live life on a day-to-day basis or fight for survival but live life to the fullest and even continue to live in eternity with him.

Your life will be happy, joyful and peaceful. And also you will be able to give that peace to others.

In our celebrations of Christmas, we have failed to identify that one true God who came down to this earth to Give us peace.

I want to end this blog with few more real life examples of How God can give us peace.

I live today as a testimony of what God can do in our life. I was born into a Christian family. My parents have been in the ministry even before I was born. So, I was basically brought up in a church. I thought because I was born into a Christian family, I am saved. But truth be told, I wasn’t saved. I was highly guarded and protected as a kid. Didn’t know what the world was like. My family moved from one city another, that is when I found something that caught my attention on the internet. It was the dark side of the internet. Before I completely realized, I was addicted to pornography. I was heavily depressed. I was a short-tempered. I tried to run out of the home. I tried to cut myself with a knife. You see, one habit led me to another and to greater depths of depression and darkness.

The reality hit me when I went to college. I was in the third of Theology studies. I realized one day that I wasn’t saved. In other words, Jesus wasn’t the God of my life. I lived life the way I want and went to him when I needed him. I used him as a crutch.

I gave myself to God and he slowly began to work in my life and set me free from addictions to pornography and made me a happy person.

One day, I struggled with suicide. I heard this voice in my mind that said, “You are worthless. There is no reason to live. God has rejected you and now go kill yourself. This voice that was talking to me, gave me instructions as to how to kill myself.” I remember that night clearly. But God saved me. If it wasn’t for God, I wouldn’t be alive today.

I write this as a testimony, It’s been almost 5 years since I visited any of those sites on the internet. God has kept me safe and has made me happy. Now if you ask me, what depression feels like, I honestly don’t know. God has put his peace in my heart that works beyond all understanding. He has kept me joyful in him and because of that, I am able to share this joy with others.

And if God can do that in my life. He can do that in your life also.

You may be suffering from depression, sadness, broken relationship, suicidal thoughts, and might be worried about your future. I want you to know something, only God; only Jesus can give you peace, happiness, can remove all your worries and can give you a hope for the future.

Augustine of Hippo, who lived around 400 AD wrote these beautiful words,

He writes this in a book called “Confessions of Augustine”. And I’m paraphrasing it, He writes, “You have created us for yourself O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they can find it’s rest in you”

Some of you may be trying to find God, you have been to several places and tried to find peace but haven’t found any peace and meaning for your life. I would say to you, Jesus is the only one that can give you peace. He is the Prince of Peace. He gives what he promises and never fails in his word. Come to Jesus and He will transform your life.

Some of you have given up all hopes on God, and have turned into an atheist thinking that this is a comfortable way. Because I can live life the way I want and do the things that I want to do. No one will or should question me or ask me anything. The Bible says, in Ecclesiastes 11:9, Rejoice O, young man, let your heart cheer you in the days of your youth. Walk in the ways of your heart and the sight of your eyes.

But, “Here’s the important thing”, know that for all these things God will bring you to judgment. Although you may not believe in God. Time will come when you stand before God in Judgement. He will call all things to account.

And the scripture also says, “Remember your creator in the days of your Youth”
I tell you this, one day, you will run out of all the reserves of happiness you have. People who are with you will leave and then you will realize that you need God in your life. I Hope that stage does not come when you are too old and have when you have lost all the vigor in your body. Turn back to God before it’s too late.

Some of you faithfully follow God. You trust in him but still struggle with depression and short-tempered behavior. This is what I say to you, Hold on to Jesus.

Many times in our Christian life, we begin to expect too much of blessings, promises, and prophecies to be fulfilled. But often times we miss the point. We hold on to the blessings, promises, and prophecies and leave Jesus. You have to understand that Jesus is the greatest blessing in your life, He is the promised one, and the prophesied one. You hold on to him and you will have everything.

I want to leave you with one last thing, As you celebrate Christmas, remember this, Jesus is the God who came to give what we needed the most. Often times we have a big list for Christmas. We have a lot of wants. But keep all that aside and ask Jesus for what you need the most. Ask God to fill you with peace. Because when you have peace you have him. When you have him in your life, you have everything.

God bless you. Have a wonderful Christmas Season.

The power of forgiveness

The power of forgiveness

There is a power in saying, “I forgive you”

In the Hebrew language the sentence “I forgive” meant, “I will not talk about it again.”

So when God says, I forgive you, He means that “I will not talk about your sin anymore.” Satan will remind you of your past sins but God will never remind nor remember them anymore.

Jesus while he was on this earth. He delivered one of the greatest sermons of all times. The Sermon on the mount. Those sermons are recorded in Matthew chapter 5 through 7.

David Guzik, in his commentary on the sermon on the mount writes like this,

It has been said if you took all the good advice for how to live ever uttered by any philosopher or psychiatrist or counsellor, took out the foolishness and boiled it all down to the real essentials, you would be left with a poor imitation of this great message by Jesus.

That statement is true. Many philosophies in the world today imitate the sermon on the mount. Many non-Christians follow it too. But quiet sadly, many Christians including me have failed to follow teachings of the sermon on the Mount.

I am going to write on single principle from the sermon on the mount.

Matthew 5:43-48 KJV

Mat 5:43 Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy.
Mat 5:44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;
Mat 5:45 That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for He maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.
Mat 5:46 For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same?
Mat 5:47 And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so?
Mat 5:48 Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.

Historical Context
Jesus is dealing here with the age old problem of people hating their enemy. The Jewish teachers of those times started twisting the laws and the commands to their own benefit. In Leviticus 19:18, a command is given to “Love thy neighbour as thyself.”

The Pharisees and the teachers of the law had interpreted the word “neighbour” according to their own interests. They limited the word “neighbour” to people whom they loved and they showed enmity to people whom they hated. In other words, they chose who their neighbour should be.

The word neighbour in Hebrew is “ray’-ah” which means, an associate either close or not so close to you: a brother, companion, fellow, friend, husband, lover, neighbour or any other.

 

In simple terms, the word “neighbour” covers a span of all relationship that you and I will build throughout our life on this earth.

Jesus is now speaking to such a audience who were influenced by this misapplied teaching. He beings with saying, “You have heard that it was said,” and begins his discourse of loving your neighbour

Applications/Implications
There are several applications that can be understood from this passage. Now, based on the title that I am writing i.e. The power of forgiveness. I will be limiting the applications to the title.

Although we’ve lived the Christian life. We haven’t experienced the power of forgiveness. Why? Because we always find it difficult to forgive people who wronged us, hurt us or used us for their personal benefit. It is a struggle to say, “I forgive you” and quite easy to hold a grudge against such people.

But Jesus commands us to forgive. it’s not a request or a something to consider but a command.

On reading these verses there are three applications that can be drawn from this passage.

  1. Forgive so that you will receive your reward. v.44 – 45a
  2. Do not hold a grudge after you’ve forgiven them. v.45b – 47
  3. Set your eyes on being perfect. v.48

 

  1. Forgive so that you will receive you reward. v.44 – 45a

Jesus gives this stern command saying “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven:”

Jesus here is dealing with a few issues.

  • Love people who are your enemies.
  • Bless people that curse you
  • Do good to those that hate you.
  • Pray for them that despitefully use you.
  • Pray for them that persecute you.

 

The moment you read this, you may be like… No! How can I forgive that person.! He/she might be one of those terrible people on this earth and they might be your greatest enemy. When you pass by them your blood pressure shoots up, you don’t spare a chance to mock them, gossip about them and turn your face away when you see them coming opposite to you.

But, this is what Jesus said.!

Love people who are your enemies
When Jesus said love your enemies…it goes more than just saying, “I forgive you.” When you show love to people who have become enemies to you. You begin to set a new standard of loving people. It is easy to love people who love you but hard to love people who hate you.

Here’s something important to understand. People who generally hurt others…are the people who are deeply hurt. Because of their hurt or wounds in their own life… it is easier for them to hurt others with their words. All the positivity, happiness, and joyfulness in their life is clouded by all the hurt that they have been through.

So when you show love to them despite their enmity towards you…they will be surprised to see the unconditional love that you show to them. When you do. Their hearts will be transformed. They will be interested to know how you can love them in spite of their enmity towards you. And by doing so you will show the unconditional love of God to them. You will show that you are the citizens of the kingdom of God.

Bless those who curse you
Bless those who pronounce curse on you. People will hate you and can misunderstand you easily which can lead them to cursing you for no reason. You do the opposite. Bless them. Do not return curse for a curse but bless them. Do the opposite. By doing that you will reveal the unconditional blessings of God in their life. Because, Romans 6:23 says, our sins deserved death. We deserved to be cursed but Jesus did the opposite. He came down to die for our sins. At a point when we deserved to be cursed we were given blessings beyond measure. Now it is our responsibility to speak blessings into lives of people who curse us.

By doing this you will prove yourself to be the citizens of the kingdom of God.

Do good to those who hate you
Those who hate you are going to do the worst things to you. They will work against your promotion in office. Inform lies about you to your superiors. They will tell all people who come to your office about how bad person you are. But you, you, treat them well.

There was man who would give a box of sweets to anyone who would talk bad or gossip about him. The secret behind this, I believe is this, the moment you do good when they show bad behaviour to you. They will stop doing bad to you. They will begin to wonder. I did wrong to them but they returned me with a good thing and how can I even now do anything bad against them.

Proverbs states this well on how to treat your enemy.
Pro 25:21 If thine enemy be hungry, give him bread to eat; and if he be thirsty, give him water to drink:
Pro 25:22 For thou shalt heap coals of fire upon his head, and the LORD shall reward thee.

Pray for them that despitefully use you
Oh well, we’ve all been there. We’ve been through times when people have used us for their personal benefits. We know we are being used but we feel powerless and weak to get out of such situation. We are trapped. But Jesus said, Pray for them that use you…not just use.. “despitefully use” the word despiteful means, contemptuous treatment. Imagine that!. Jesus is saying, pray for those who contemptuously treat you and use you for their personal benefit. In other words, they hate you…so they use you even more ruthlessly with hatred in their heart.!

Pray for such people. Why does Jesus say Pray instead of Love or bless them?
Yes, if you notice the previous points, Loving and blessing is already part of the whole package but Jesus adds one more to the list.. saying “Pray for them”. For such people the only transforming power can be the work of God.

What does prayer mean at this point? Why did Jesus use the word pray instead of love or blessing?
When Jesus said “Pray”. He said, don’t take the matters into your own hands but pray and allow God to work.
By praying you will show that you have father in heaven that listens to your prayers and petitions. You belong to the kingdom of heaven.

Pray for them that Persecute you
Ever been through persecution? Then you may know how difficult it is to pray for them at that point? Like a Prayer of blessing?

Perhaps if we were asked to pray so that the fire would come consume them alive…we may gladly pray…

And If we were asked them to sue them in court we would find the best Christian lawyer to get the punishment they deserve for persecuting you.

Persecution is not just limited to being tortured for the name of Christ. It can also mean a physical abuse or harm caused to you.

Matthew 5:38-42 talks on these lines about a persecution, i.e., someone who slaps you or abuses you. Jesus said, if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. Generally, when someone slaps you on one cheek they will slap with the palm of their hand but when Jesus said show the other cheek also…that means when they slap you again they will use the other part of your hand to slap you – which is actually considered disgraceful in Israel.

Jesus says it clearly. Don’t return evil for evil but good for an evil act. The easiest way to do good for an evil act is pray for them. Don’t take matters into your own hands but pray and allow God to work in their lives.

The Reward
The point of forgiveness is this… that you may be called the children of God. Forgiveness is a virtue we have to master. Jesus forgave people who brought him to trial and hung him on the cross saying.. “Father, forgive them for they do not know what they do.” (Luke 23:34) We ought to say the same thing. People who commit acts of evil against us, actually are not fully aware of what they do. Because sin blinds their eyes.. So we have to ask God to forgive them. When we do. We will be called the children of God. Because we imitate what God does. We forgive others just as He forgave our sins.

 

  1. Do not Hold a grudge after you’ve forgiven them.

We’ve heard people say. I forgive you but I don’t want to see your face again.! That’s not forgiveness at all…! That is only partial forgiveness. Partial forgiveness causes partiality or favouritism to creep into our life

If there were two people standing before you. One who is loving towards you and another who caused problems but you’ve forgiven…more like partial forgiveness!

Who will you be favourable to? To one who loves you or the one whom you’ve forgiven but still hold a grudge?

Usually, you will be favourable to the one who loves you and not so favourable to the one you forgave. Because past memories can haunt you and so you have not forgiven completely. So now, partiality creeps in. No matter what that person tries to do to.! You will always look on them with a bit of dislike. You will favour the one who loves you and treats you well.

The Bible clearly says in James 2:1, to not show partiality
Even in our passage, Mat 5:45, it goes on to say God causes the sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain both on the righteous and the unrighteousness

If we call ourselves the children of God but practice partiality, then we are deceiving ourselves. The verses goes on to say, If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even tax collectors doing that?

Returning love for love gets you nowhere. You get no reward for such a action. Tax collectors, during those times, were considered as people who cheat people of their money. The repentance of Zacchaeus speaks for itself. How he repented and paid back all money he had charged double. Tax collectors were filthy rich and made money out of charging double or triple the amount of money that was required to be collected. Jewish people regarded them as the highest of sinners. They also practiced the same, Loving people who loved them. So Jesus said, if you love only those who love you… then you are practicing what the tax collectors practice. He gives them stern call for repentance from a life of double standards.

The verse continues, “And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even the pagans do that?”

In a fellowship, in a church setting we like to greet people whom we like to greet. We like to talk to people whom we like to talk to. We keep the rest away, ignore them or don’t even go to a place where they are. Jesus gives them a stern call saying… By doing so, aren’t you practicing what the pagans do? To the Jewish community, they considered pagans as someone outside their own Jewish community. They wouldn’t associate with such people easily but Jesus points out saying, Hey, You are practicing what they pagans are doing although you claim to be God’s chosen one.

 

  1. Set your eyes on being perfect

Here’s the cream of the whole passage. Jesus ends this portion of the command to love and forgive by saying this. Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

The greek work for “perfect” actually means “Complete”. Jesus is actually saying, “Be complete.”

Forgiving people who hurt you makes you a complete person.

James 1:2 Count it all joy my brethren when you fall into various temptations. Knowing this, that the trying of faith produces patience. But let patience have it’s perfect work, that you may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.

In other translations it says, so that you may be complete.!

God desires for us to complete, to be perfect. He wants us to grow to a point where our self is dead and he begins to live in our life. Even if anybody hurt us. We will be ready to forgive more than argue. When we reach that point of self-death and Christ living is us. We will be perfect, in other words complete, just as the heavenly father is complete.

That’s the power of forgiveness. It makes you a complete person. Lacking nothing. The beautiful thing is, when you are complete. It is hard for the enemy to shake you. The sorrows of the world will not put you down. No work of the enemy can harm you.

In Mat 5:20 For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. (NKJV)

Do you know which righteousness exceeded the righteousness of the Pharisee? The righteousness of loving people who hate you. Forgiving people that worked against you. That is a righteous act.

Pharisees were undoubtedly the most righteous people. They were evangelistic in nature. They were good at winning souls. But what they lacked was that they never forgave people so easily.

Maimonides one of their writers said, (Source: John Gill exposition of the Bible)

“A disciple of a wise man, or a scholar, whom a man despises and reproaches publicly, it is forbidden him to forgive him, because of his honour; and if he forgives him, he is to be punished, for this is a contempt of the law; but “he must revenge, and keep the thing as a serpent”, until the other asks pardon of him, and then he may forgive him.”

They were too self-righteous to see the forgiveness of God and understand what it means to love their enemy.!

The power of forgiveness is this…
You will only reach a Perfection in your life only when love your enemies and forgive those who hurt you.

Jesus said, be perfect just as your heavenly father is perfect. That is our goal. Be perfect just as your father is perfect.

Let’s us strive towards to attain that perfection so that we may become people who lack nothing.

Do not be ashamed

Do not be ashamed

2 Timothy 2:15

Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the truth.

I read this passage at a time when I was questioning myself about all the things I was doing and the decision that I had made. That moment of confusion, doubt, and uncertainty.

The sentence that spoke to me powerfully was this. “…. a worker who does not need to be ashamed”

We face moments when we are ashamed of the decisions we make. I was going through a time of discouragement…where I said, God, I know what I am doing…but time to time I feel ashamed of the decisions that I have made.

The word ashamed is defined as, “embarrassed or guilty because of one’s actions, characteristics or associations.” 

Here’s a story of what happened and what led me to have the feeling of being ashamed. 

Few weeks ago, I came out of an association after I felt clearly in my heart, that this was not the place for me to be. So, I made up my mind, spoke to people that I should and left the place (it was smooth exit but a bit drastic in someways). After leaving those memories kept haunting my mind…telling me.. that I am not consistent enough with my decisions. I had to also face some flak for it. At the end of it…I started to be ashamed of myself for the decisions that I had made. I struggled this for about 3 weeks till until I read this verse.

Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the truth.

Although, in this context, Paul talks about preaching the truth of God’s word to people without being ashamed but there is something we can take away from this verse and apply it to our other areas of life.

Paul outlines two important principles that anyone in the ministry should follow.

  1. Present yourself to God as one approved.

If Paul had written, present yourself to MAN as one approved, probably we would know how to present ourselves as one approved. But it says, Present yourself to God as one approved. 

Romans 12:1 says, ”Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.” Presenting our self as living sacrifices also means, that we present our self as one blameless, and upright. In the Old Testament times any sacrifice that is offered on the altar should be one without blemish

God prescribes a practice for sacrifice.

Exodus 12:5 says, 

The animals you choose must be year-old males without defect, and you may take them from the sheep or the goats.

Coming back the context of my blog.

This is what I would say, when we present our self to God every day — we have to present ourselves without any doubt of our calling, without any fear of our actions and without any uncertainty of the decisions we make.

Blemish in a goat meant it was not approved for sacrifice. Likewise, if we have doubt, fear and uncertainty we are not presenting our self as an approved sacrifice before God.

We have heard the story of Cain and Abel. God favored Abel’s offering while he didn’t favor Cain’s. (Genesis 4). There are many interpretations that are drawn from this verse. Either Cain didn’t present the best of his fruits to the Lord or he did not have the right motive. One thing is clear, that is Cain did not present his sacrifices in an approved manner.

We, now living in the New Testament period, we should offer ourselves as living sacrifices. That is, offer our self without any blemish or defect. In other words, we have to offer ourselves without any doubt, fear or uncertainty and with faith that God is in control.

The Second thing Paul writes is this,

“a worker that does not need to be ashamed”

As a worker of Christ. The enemy loves making us feel ashamed of ourselves. He wants us to feel low and down all times. One of his easiest way to put us down is by making us feel ashamed. We can easily stand false accusations, talks or any such arguments. We can prove ourselves right and get out of such situations easily. But the moment we feel ashamed of our self we will lose our sense of self-worth. It can take a long time to recover.

We have to make decisions in life that are clearly guided by God but may not be appreciated by people.

As a result, people will talk negatively about your decisions, character, and attitude. That can make us feel ashamed or even if they don’t talk about…the enemy will feed lies into your mind saying…this is what people think of you…!

We have to run away from all that and remind ourselves that, “I need to be a worker who does not have to be ashamed…”

In Conclusion,

Do what God has called you to do. God will guide you and you listen to that. Be obedient to his will. He will lead you. Although you may become a topic of talk for many people but do not be ashamed. Continue to do the Good work that you are doing.

Always remember to present yourself as one approved — Bringing the right sacrifice in the Old Testament was mainly the responsibility of the offeror himself and now in the New Testament, when we present our self as a living sacrifice…it is our responsibility to present ourselves to God without doubt of our calling, fear of our actions, and uncertainty of the decisions we make and never be ashamed of anything because, at the end of the day, God is leading us.

Leave a comment below, if you have faced any such situation and how you overcame. Would love to hear from you.!

 

Do not let anyone look down on you

Do not let anyone look down on you

Do not let anyone look down on you because you are young,
but set an example for the believers’ in

speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, and in purity
1 Timothy 4:12

Timothy was a young pastor of the Church at Ephesus. Paul writes to him encouraging to be strong in his leadership in the church.

Timothy seemed to be younger than most people of his times who were serving in the ministry. It is easy for anyone to look down at a young pastor and find faults with him but Paul encourages saying, even though you are young, do not let anyone look down at you…but set an example that even older people will see and follow.

There are five areas in which we have to set an example. This is applicable everyone; for the believers and ones serving in the ministry.

  1. Speech
  2. Conduct
  3. Love
  4. Faith
  5. Purity

Speech
We have to watch the way we talk. People can assess our character and attitude based on words we speak. When we speak we have to make sure we sound thoughtful, considerate of other people, ethical, and honest. We have to be very calculative of the words we speak. Sometimes being calculative might seem extreme because we like to talk our minds. We can talk our minds to people but if they don’t understand the way we see it then we are in trouble. We will fail to be an example. There are times when you have to talk in a formal and sometimes in a casual tone. Use whenever it is appropriate. But never mix both together otherwise, you can be easily misunderstood.

Set an example in your speech

 

Conduct
Watch the way you carry yourself. People can assess based on the way you conduct yourself. Your body language, posture, gestures, facial expressions can make all the difference when you talk to people. There are times when you have to maintain a very formal way of conduct and sometimes casual. It is always better to keep a good amount of distance when talking to a person of the opposite gender. Even when you walk, show yourself humble. Your conduct is best seen when you talk to a street vendor or someone who is not financially sound. Your actions speak more than words. Keep a watch over them as you conduct yourself among people.

Set an example in your conduct

Love
The scripture says, in 1 John 4:8, God is love… and we as followers of Him, we should show love for one another.

When we conduct ourselves. It is necessary to do it out of love. Without love, all our actions will be void and meaningless. When someone talks against us…such people need to be shown, extra love. When we do, we will set an example for love to the people around us.

Faith
As people in the ministry, we have set an example for living the life of faith. People who did great things for the Lord were always the heroes of faith. They were the ones who believed that nothing was impossible for God. God can perform miracles and can even bring the dead back to life.

Many times we have to display our life of faith for people to see so that they can learn and be inspired.

Purity
The last thing that Paul encourages to set an example is in Purity. One word that is quite synonymous with Purity is Holiness and it is the word that should not be forgotten. The bible says, 1 Peter 1:16, “Be Holy Because I am Holy.”

God expects purity and holiness from our lives. Holiness and purity can be said as a lifestyle that is pleasing to God. Purity not only in our public life but also in private life… times when we are alone…when no one is watching us.

Although purity is written as one of the last items on the list. Our lives wouldn’t be complete if we are not pure in the sight of God. We can do many things for God but none of that would be acceptable if purity and holiness are not part of the lifestyle.

You know, it’s easy to spot someone who is living a pure life. When people see that in us, they will be inspired and be motivated to live of purity and holiness.

In Conclusion, 

Going through these list of things seem like going back to basics of the Christian Life. Often times these characteristics are forgotten and sometimes compromised. But what God always expects from us…is that we should be rooted and grounded in the basics. He expects us to be heroes in setting an example in speech, conduct, love, faith and purity.

Are we living in Darkness ?

Are we living in Darkness ?

Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates a brother or sister is still in the darkness. 1 John 2:9

When I read this verse, I thought to myself, do I hate anybody? If I do, I am living in darkness.

It is often easy to hate than to love because we expect people to be faithful and perfect to us. We expect them to never change in character, in attitude or anything, but when we see a change, all that love can turn to hate within few seconds.

I heard someone say, “I don’t feel that same love towards that person anymore.” or a more popular phrase, “He has changed. He is not the same anymore.”

More than people changing around us, or we reacting to such changes; I think we have changed. We have changed ourselves from loving to hating people.

Well, you may ask, people hurt me, there is a change in their character and attitude but I haven’t changed. I’m still the same.

The answer to that question is found in the life of Jesus.

John 13:1 (MSG) says, just before the Passover Feast, Jesus knew that the time had come to leave this world to go to the Father. Having loved his dear companions, he continued to love them right to the end.

Jesus knew Judas was going to betray him in a short while but still knowing, He loved his disciples including Judas in the same way he had loved them in the beginning. His love for Judas Iscariot never changed.

I think of this incident and ponder to myself, Wow.! That’s amazing.!

Knowing that someone is going to hurt you, but you still love them the same way! How is this possible?  

How is it possible to keep love consistent?

There are two things,

First: Live in the Light

John the Apostle, the writer of this letter, begins saying,

“Anyone who claims to be in the light” The word light here refers to God. 1 John 1:5, God is light; in him, there is no darkness at all.

After we have accepted the salvation. We begin to live in the light, where we are now filled with God’s unconditional love, grace, and mercy. The important task now is to display those God’s unconditional love, grace, and mercy to our brothers and sisters.

One of my favorite verse is this,

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8. We have heard several preaching’s on God’s unconditional love, but we have failed to practice it. We have to live as testimonies of the light. It is important to show the world that you are living in the light. 

Second: Show the world you are living in the light. 

Now that you have accepted the salvation and have started living in the light. Display those characteristics of light.

To begin displaying those characteristics we have to do two things,

Practice loving people,

  • Love them with unconditional love.
  • Be gracious when you feel they don’t deserve it.
  • Show mercy when they hurt you…forgive them when everything goes wrong

Why should we do that?

Because Christ did that for us.

  • Jesus Loved us with unconditional love. Romans 5:6-8
  • God showed us grace. It is a gift from God. (Eph 4:7) By grace, we are saved. We received salvation not because of our works but because of his Grace towards us. (Eph. 2:8)
  • God showed us mercy when we deserved to die because of our sins. He forgave us. Psalms 103:10 says, He did not punish us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities.

John the Apostle, the writer of this passage, makes one thing clear, that is; If we claim to be in the light but do not love the people around us then we are living in darkness. We are deceiving ourselves. We think we are living in the light, but we are living in darkness.

We need to check ourselves. We may claim to have a great relationship with God, but if we are unable to show love to people around us then we are not living in a true relationship with God. We can always make claims but our claims cannot be true unless we practice it.

Jesus, during his ministry on earth, taught and reminded people to love, honor and have a healthy relationship with the people around them. Mark 12:31 says, the second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”. If you love people just as you love yourself, you will love them unconditionally, honor them and seek to maintain a healthy relationship with them.

Let us remember to love people just the way God loved us.