Know where to Hide

Know where to Hide

“Knowing where to Hide” is the key factor to living a christ-centered life.

Job, a man found in the scriptures, whose piety and devotion towards God was far greater than any of the people living during his time. He would have lived around the time of the patriarchs; either Abraham, Jacob, Joseph or Moses. And God saw something so unique about Job and his devotion towards him that God called him an upright man.

Woah! That’s a valid certification of man’s character.

God certified Job saying;

Job is

  • Blameless
  • Upright
  • Fears God
  • Turns away from Evil

I wish we all could get such a certification from God.

Now, we know what happened to Job later; He lost his property, servants, and children and had painful sores from the crown of his head to the sole of his feet.

This pain that job faced came in two phases: first, property, servants, and children were killed and destroyed; second, he was inflicted with painful sores.

After the first phase of troubles: Job tore his robe, shaved his head, fell to the ground and worshiped. And said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return” The Lord gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD. (Job 1:20-21)

If you read those verses over and over again. You will notice something remarkable about those statements.

A man who lost property, his livestock which was an important wealth of measure in those time, servants were killed and children, his own progeny dead, says those words.

This situation isn’t a hypothetical one. It’s not a tale or a myth. It’s real. The pain, the suffering is all real.

But why did he say those words?

If I were in Job’s position, I would have loaded my donkey went the spot where the livestock was stolen; ordered my men to chase those people down and get all that I lost. And visit the spot where the children died, mourn for them, bring them back and bury them. I would have done all of this. This would have been my immediate action. But Job didn’t seem to do any of that. The moment he heard what happened, he stays where he his and praises the name of the LORD.

Job did something that proved he is upright, blameless, fears God and turns away from evil.

When Job faced pain this is what he did.

As I read those passages I realized, Job knew where to hide when troubles came. And because he knew where to hide himself, he praised the name of the LORD in spite of reacting to this painful moment.

Here’s where the truth is,

Job 1:20;
Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head and fell on the ground and worshiped.

The key word in that verse is: worshiped

Job’s reaction to this painful moment was worship. Job worshiped God in that painful moment. Job had lost property, servants, and children but he worshiped. Worship was Job’s hiding place. Job knew where to hide. He hid in worship, he hid himself in the presence of the LORD. As he hid in worship he knew that this was the Lord’s doing and said, “The Lord gave and Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.”

Let’s be honest. If you and I face such situation what will our response be; will we blame God and people around us for all things that went wrong?

How do we react when anxiety strikes? How do we react when we face pressure to perform? How do we react when problems come? How do we react when we face challenges?

How do we combat them?

In our Christian life, we face many battles. Many spiritual warfares. Sometimes it’s too overwhelming to stand strong. It’s easy to fall. It’s easy to loose our temper. It’s easy to shout at someone when things don’t go the way we expect. In a small moment, we speak words that show anger and hurt others. We speak words that shouldn’t be spoken. We dishonor parents, family, and friends. We dishonor relationships.

There’s something important to understand: The anxiety we face in life is an arrow from the enemy. Unwanted pressure or untimely pressure is an arrow from the enemy. People gossiping and talking bad about us are arrows that are induced by the enemy. Problems and challenges are arrows from the enemy. And when such situations come we have to hide in worship instead of reacting to all that has gone wrong.

But often times in our stand against the arrows of the enemy; we begin to shoot back arrows and we fail.

When people talk bad about us…we will find who they are and give an answer for all they spoke. When somebody causes trouble we make sure they get twice of what they did to us.

But that’s not what we are supposed to do. Rather we should hide in worship when people gossip. We should hide in worship when anxiety strikes. We should hide in worship when challenges come. We should hide in worship when pressure builds up. We have to develop the habit of hiding in worship and in the presence of the LORD when anything goes wrong.

Remember those are arrows. When they fly towards you instead of dodging; hide in worship. Hide in the presence of the LORD.

What does hiding in worship mean?

Hiding in worship means to set your mind in worshipping and praising God for all that he has done in the past and now continue to seek his protection and strength as you face this challenge. When you do that, God will give you the strength to overcome and also protect you from any harm.

The Psalmist realized this and writes.

Psalm 91:1 Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
Psaln 91:7 A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you.

Psalm 32:7 You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance.

Job knew where to hide when arrows flew towards him. David knew where to hide when arrows flew towards him. Even today when arrows fly towards you, learn to hide in the presence of the LORD.

When you learn to hide you will live a christ-centered life.

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Bad habits master us. Good habits don’t

Bad habits master us. Good habits don’t

Paul writes this statements to the church at Corinth,

1 Corinthians 6:12
“All things are lawful for me,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful for me,” but I will not be dominated by anything.

Background
Paul is writing these words in the context of sexual immorality. Some of the believers at the church in Corinth took the liberty of indulging themselves in sexual pleasures that were against God’s design for mankind.

What we can learn
The simple message we can learn is this. “Right habits don’t master you. Only bad habits will master you.”

It’s time to check our habits.
It’s time to check whether we have become slaves to our habits.

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.!

 

Holding on to what seems impossible

Holding on to what seems impossible

Though the fig tree does not bud

    and there are no grapes on the vines, 

though the olive crop fails 

     and the field produce no food, 

though there are no sheep in the pen

     and no cattle in the stalls,

yet I will rejoice in the Lord

     I will be joyful in God my saviour

Habakkuk 3:17-18

This is such a bold statement of faith.

I must admit, it’s hard to rejoice in the Lord and hold on to him when all the odds are against us. 

A personal story: I went out looking for an apartment today. After looking for a few apartments…i came back to my room frustrated because I couldn’t get what I wanted. Either it was too expensive or far away from where I was looking.

Reading this verse, it seems to me that Habakuk had figured out a way of rejoicing in the Lord when all things don’t seem favourable.

Let’s delve into this verse and understand how Habakkuk was able to hold on to promises that seemed impossible.

First, The Background

Here’s an excerpt from the NIV bible explaining the background of the book,

The Prophet begins by asking how long God will allow evil to triumph. The divine reply is that God is raising up the Babylonians as his tool of correction. This leads to Habakkuk’s second question: Why do you allow the wicked to swallow up those more righteous than themselves ?  God replies again, explaining that the Babylonians will be judged just like the Assyrians, and that the righteous must await this in faith and patience. 

There are two prayers here;

First prayer, 

God answers and acts on the word he spoke.

Second prayer,

God answers Habakkuk but he is asked to wait in patience before it can happen.

When we pray, God answers prayers through a promise but often times it takes time for God’s promises to be fulfilled. A delayed promise does not mean God is unable to do what he promised to do. We see in the life of Abraham. God promised Abraham, You will be the father of many nations. (Genesis 17:1-6) It didn’t happen overnight. He had to wait for those promises to come through. Abraham had to hold on to these promises, believing that one day it will come through. 

During those waiting periods, what God promised for us will seem too impossible to hold on. It will seem impossible for such a thing to come to pass. 

We expect all things to be fulfilled immediately but God doesn’t work that way. He has a different perspective. He uses such times to build our faith and patience on him. We often think believing in God, having faith and patience is an easy task. I can tell by experience. It’s not easy. But God expects such characters to grow and bloom in us. Building up belief, faith and patience in God is a task and it is something that needs to be practiced and nurtured every day. 

When I think of Abraham, I think of it this way. The faith that He had at that time when God promised and to the time when it was fulfilled (When Isaac was born) his faith and patience in God would have grown tremendously. God is more interested in transforming…making us more like him than just fulfilling his promises. He is more keen on transforming us than just providing us with what we need.

Habakkuk held to promises that seemed hard to hold on to…and did it so with a huge statement of faith. He understood the secret of how God works and so we also need to do . that is saying, no matter what the situation seems to be like, I will rejoice in God my saviour.

When situations seem hard and nothing seems favorable to us. Let us learn to rejoice in God. When we rejoice we build faith and patience… that will eventually lead to fulfill God’s promises for our lives. 

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.

Keep your eyes fixed

Keep your eyes fixed

You may have heard of this passage on fixing your eyes on Jesus and running away from everything that entangles you. Although we have heard several times, there is still an important truth that we can learn here.

Hebrews 12:1-2
Therefore, since we are surrounded by
such a great cloud of witnesses,
let us throw off everything that hinders and
the sin that so easily entangles.
And let us run with perseverance the race
marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus,
the pioneer and the perfecter of faith.

Often times, the circumstances around us demand attention and focus more than anything. That can distract us from being focused on Jesus. But we have to keep reminding ourselves constantly that we need to fix our eyes on Jesus.

So, let’s delve into the scripture and see what God has to teach us.

One important theme that resounds in the first three verses is, Fixing our eyes on Jesus

What does it mean when it says “Fix your eyes”?

It’s easy to fix our eyes on Jesus when everything goes right and when all situations are perfect. How about, when you face troubles, will you still be able to fix your eyes on Jesus? I must admit, in moments like those, it’s hard. Our flesh steps up, trying to give ideas and solutions to our problems. In such moments, even when it’s tough, we should make a conscious choice to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus.

When the author of Hebrews writes, fix your eyes, that means, fix your eyes on Jesus even when you feel troubled, distracted and tempted.

 

So, why should we fix our eyes?

It is inevitable that you will face troubles of many kinds. Jesus said to his disciples, “…In this world, you will have trouble. But take heart I have overcome the world.” John 16:33b. Troubles and trials are an inevitable part of our life. In spite of that, we have to fix our eyes on Jesus so that we can get through all troubles of life and enjoy the peace that God has promised us. (John 16:33a). Only God can fill us with the peace that surpasses all understanding. (Phil 4:7). Faith is the foundation of our life. Our life of faith can be sustained only when we fix our eyes on Jesus because He is the one who begins and the one who ends it.

 

How can we fix our eyes ?

The disciples asked Jesus, Lord, teach us to pray. As Jesus taught them the Lord’s prayer, He taught them to do three important things that can help us also stay focused on Him.

  1. Praise Him
  2. Seek His Kingdom
  3. The desire for his will to be done.

 

Praise Him

Praising God every day, every moment even when things go wrong helps us stay focused on him. Problems can take us away from Him but Praising God during those times can make us stick to Him more  because praising reminds you of what He has done and what He can still do for you. The more you praise him the more you will be able to fix your eyes on Jesus.

 

Seek His Kingdom

Jesus said, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and its righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Mathew 6:33. The secret of seeking the kingdom of God  is that you are seeking and asking God to be the King of your life. Many things can rule us, money, situations, friends, close buddies and loved ones. But we need to seek God and ask him to be the ruler of our lives. When God becomes the King of your life you will begin to focus more on what he has to say — in other words, you will fix your eyes on him waiting for his instructions and guidance for your life.

 

The Desire for his will

The goal of our Christian life is to fulfill the task that God has for us, the purpose for which we were created. We have to see what God wants of us. Maybe He wants us to reach out to our friends, community that is in depression and sadness. The more we desire for his will the more we will understand God’s purpose for our life. The more we desire the more we will be focused on him and will be intently waiting on what he has to say to us.

In conclusion,

We need to fix our eyes on Jesus every day of our life. It is something we need to consciously choose to do. It always does not happen automatically or supernaturally but it is a decision that take in life.

When we praise him, seek his kingdom and desire for his will. We will be able to fix our eyes on Jesus.

 

 

Clothe yourself with Humility

Clothe yourself with Humility

“God opposes the proud

 but shows grace to the humble.”

We have heard this said many times but still there’s something that makes us proud of who we are. 

Let’s explore and see what the bible has to say, 

1 Peter 5:5

In the same way, you who are younger, submit yourselves. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another

Peter writes an important advice to the Church that is, “clothe yourselves with humility”. Often times we do not wear the cloth of humility, it might be lying somewhere in our closet unused for many years. Because we get used to the culture of being praised, exalted, spoken well and given high position by people around us. We enjoy the attention, respect and the care we receive because of who we are and the status in our workplace. But those can lead to our downfall.

Pride is like a drug; the more you take, the more you will want it. It will never be enough. Eventually it will take away everything from you.. 

Clothe yourselves means, wear the cloth of humility in life. In the Old Testament days, people wore sackcloth to show mourning, heartfelt sorrow and repentant heart. (Genesis 37:34) Peter takes the same concept and applies to say, Clothe yourselves with Humility, i.e., wear the cloth of humility everyday in life.

Why Humility ? and Why be humble ? 

When we think of the word “Humble”. We think of someone who has an inferiority complex or someone who is naive. No, that’s not humility. 

Philippians 2:6-8. explains Humility in the best way possible. It is explained from the life of Jesus Christ who set the greatest example of humility. 

6. Jesus, who, being in very nature God.

     did not consider equality with God.

          something to be used to his own 

          advantage;

7. rather, he made himself nothing

     by taking the very nature of a servant

     being made in human likeness. 

8. And being found in appearance as a man, 

     he humbled himself

     by becoming obedient to death — 

          even death of a cross.

The key point of being humble is making yourself nothing. 

Making yourself nothing is a process where you strip down everything thing that makes you proud of yourself; your family background, financial status, talents, skills and abilities.

God created us in unique ways to reflect his glory. When you strip down everything that makes you proud, that is when you will begin to show yourself the way you were created. That glory will be revealed only when you empty ourself.

Making yourself nothing makes you trust less in yourself and be fully dependant on God.

Peter goes on to write, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” 

If you have pride in your life. That will make you to be the god of your own life. It will make you the idol of your life. That is why God opposes such a behavior. 

Peter finally ends with an Exhortation. 

Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in the due time.

Being humble can also make us feel suppressed at times. We may stay quiet, respond with silence when people talk against us. It’s important to know, even though you feel the same way at the moment, God will lift you up in the right time. 

In Conclusion,

Be Humble. Empty yourself of everything that makes you proud so that you can be more dependent on God.