Sunday, July 31, 2011

Dead flies

As dead flies give perfume a bad smell, so a little folly outweighs wisdom and honor. (Ecclesiastes 10:1)

In a car lot on the outskirts of Kabul, three saloon cars and a truck lay abandoned due a numerical curse that has swept Afghanistan. A strange phenomenon that equates the number "39" with prostitution has become a nightmare for the car industry, as buyers avoid car licence plates having the dreaded number for fear of being ostracised. The car yard's owner complained that it was no longer just a social issue; it was an economic issue. "It has been months and no-one is buying them," he said, pointing at the white, black and blue sedans. "39" got its bad reputation through an erstwhile pimp who was often identified by the number on his car plates as he drove around Herat, the western city. The man's shady image and illicit business meant that the number became associated with immorality. The tale spread to other Afghan cities and the curse was born. Now anyone seen travelling around in a vehicle with a "39" licence plate is in danger of being linked to the illicit sex industry.

The danger of a believer being involved in sexual immorality is that it will have lasting disastrous consequences. It would be like a curse, with unbelievers and other believer's always looking at that person with judgemental eyes and with suspicion even though the person repents.

The Bible speaks strongly against this sin and advices extreme restraint.
Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body. (1 Corinthians 6:18)
Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. (Colossians 3:5)
It is God's will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality. (1 Thessalonians 4:3)

Always best to heed what the Bible advises and advocate restraint, rather than be a fool.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

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Blame Game

Be very careful, then, how you live - not as unwise but as wise.. (Ephesians 5:15)

A Massachusetts man facing a criminal complaint for failing to appear for jury duty apparently had a good excuse. He had been dead for five years. The late Georgetown resident was issued a notice to serve on jury duty five years ago in 2006 but at the time he was in hospice care and had cancer. He died a few months later but the commission continued to send letters about his failure to report. Wylie's family says they tried to tell authorities that he had died but officials say the family never sent a death certificate.

Difficult to know who was at fault there, but the blame game is common. Even in the lives of believers, this is not uncommon. Believers pitted against believers and ministers against ministers. Of course, everyone has their side of the story and it may be very convincing. But is that part of the real christian life that Jesus taught?

The Apostle Paul wrote to the believers in Philippi,
If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. (Philippians 2:2)

Likemindedness and being one in spirit was what Paul taught. He also wrote,
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. (Philippians 2:3, 4)

Considering others better than ourselves, however spiritual we be, can bring greater unity among the body of believers. Shall we strive for that then?

Wednesday, July 27, 2011


Be careful, however, that the exercise of your freedom does not become a stumbling block to the weak. (1 Corinthians 8:9)

A 80 year old South African man awoke to find himself in a morgue fridge 21 hours after his family thought he had died. This was after his family called in an undertaker who took him to the morgue after an asthma attack. The morgue owner said he sent his driver to collect the body after the family reported the death. "When he got there, the driver examined the body, checked his pulse, looked for a heartbeat, but there was nothing," the morgue owner told the press.
But a day after staff put the body into a locked fridge, morgue workers heard someone shouting for help. They thought it was a ghost. The morgue owner called the police.
When the police arrived, the group entered the morgue together. He said the man was pale when they pulled him out. "He asked, 'How did I get here?'" The man was then taken to a nearby hospital for observation and later discharged by doctors when they felt that he was stable. The man's family was informed that he was alive as they were making funeral arrangements. Funny as this may seem, here the family were careless not to call a doctor who was qualified to ascertain whether the man had really died.

The Apostle Paul urges the believers in Corinth to be careful in how they exercise their freedom so that they do not become a stumbling block to the weak. He was specifically dealing here about eating food sacrificed to idols. He said,
"For if anyone with a weak conscience sees you who have this knowledge eating in an idol's temple, won't he be emboldened to eat what has been sacrificed to idols? So this weak brother, for whom Christ died, is destroyed by your knowledge. When you sin against your brothers in this way and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ. (1 Corinthians 8:10-12)

Believers who are new to the Christian faith closely watch the ones who have been believers for a long time and emulate them in several areas of their spiritual life. It thus becomes imperative that the latter do not become a stumbling block to the proper growth of the new ones, but guide them in the right path, not serving themselves but serving Christ wholeheartedly.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Acknowledge God

The fool says in his heart, "There is no God." They are corrupt, their deeds are vile; there is no one who does good. (Psalm 14:1)

A billboard supporting atheism was taken down from a property owned by an Ohio church after the pastor complained. The ad put up in Columbus by a foundation that supports freedom from religion featured the happy face of a local nonbeliever and the man's message: "I can be good without God." The sign had upset Rev. Waymon Malone of Christ Cathedral Church. The church owns the land where the billboard went up so the pastor ordered the ad be removed. It was removed immediately but was back up at another site soon.

There will always be people who think that they can be good without God. But they forget that the very breath that they take is God given and they cannot argue in the least if he decides to take it back. So why the haughtiness?

The Bible exhorts us,
Acknowledge and take to heart this day that the LORD is God in heaven above and on the earth below. There is no other. (Deuteronomy 4:39)

Also, Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD and shun evil. (Proverbs 3:7)

The best course for every man or woman should be to acknowledge God who allowed his son Jesus to die on the cross for the redempion of mankind. The intent of the heart should be as we read below.
Let us acknowledge the LORD; let us press on to acknowledge him. As surely as the sun rises, he will appear; he will come to us like the winter rains, like the spring rains that water the earth." (Hosea 6:3)

Thursday, July 21, 2011

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Then and Now

Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief. (1 Timothy 1:13)

An unusual video of a seagull stealing a digital camcorder and flying off with it had emerged online sometime back. In the video clip, the cheeky bird creeps up to the camera after a man puts it down somewhere in Cannes, France. Amazingly, the bird, undeterred by the man shooing it away, takes it and soars off into the night sky, filming some amateurish scences. The seagull then lands on the edge of a castle wall where the sound of the bird’s squawking can be heard as it unknowingly starts filming itself.
How the man retrieved the camera from the bird later on is a mystery, but whether it’s real or fake, the seagull’s flight looked convincing. It can truly be said that the seagull acted out of ignorance. No offence intended.

The Apostle Paul writing to Timothy speaks about what all he did in ignorance and unbelief. He was a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, yet he was shown mercy by God because he did it out of ignorance having no relationship with God whatsoever though he was a scholar of God's laws. Paul repented and was a new creation after being born again.
The Apostle Peter exhorts us in this manner,
As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: "Be holy, because I am holy." (1 Peter 1:14-16)
Can we take up this challenge?

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The God of Jabez is your God too

Jabez was more honorable than his brothers. His mother had named him Jabez, saying, “I gave birth to him in pain.” Jabez cried out to the God of Israel, “Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let your hand be with me, and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain.” And God granted his request.(1 Chronicles 4:9-10)

The first few chapters of 1 Chronicles are full of names. Yet we see God in his great wisdom including this small but significant prayer of Jabez in Chapter 4. His mother had named him Jabez because she had given birth to him in pain. Jabez means sorrow or trouble. But Jabez cried out to the God of Israel. He prayed three specific things in his prayer. One, that the Lord would bless him. Two, that the God would enlarge his territory. Three, that the hand of God would be with him and keep him from harm so that he would be free from pain. The Bible says that God granted his request.

All prayers that we pray are valuable, but prayers where we pray with specific details could be much more effective. Things start changing in our lives as we set aside prayers prayed for the sake of praying and start praying specifically and persistently. Even if you are or feel you are insignificant, uncared for by people, and called good for nothing, God is able to change your circumstances. He is able to lift you up. He is able to bless you, like he blessed Jabez.

The Bible says Jabez was more honorable than his brothers. He was more honorable because God brought about a blessed change in his life by answering his prayers. You and me, we too can pray like Jabez, with specific details of the problem or problems at hand. If God heard the prayer of Jabez, God will hear your prayer too. If God granted the request of Jabez, he will grant your request too. The God of Jabez loves you. He will bless you.

The Apostle Paul says in rhetoric,
......If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all - how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? (Romans 8:31, 32)
Blessed be the name of the Lord Jesus Christ who answers our prayers.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Shake off that viper!

Shake off that viper!

Paul gathered a pile of brushwood and, as he put it on the fire, a viper, driven out by the heat, fastened itself on his hand. When the islanders saw the snake hanging from his hand, they said to each other, “This man must be a murderer; for though he escaped from the sea, the goddess Justice has not allowed him to live.”(Acts 28:3-4)

This is the account of the apostle Paul who along with others were ship-wrecked and landed on the island called Malta. The islanders showed them unusual kindness. They built a fire and welcomed them all, because it was raining and cold. Paul gathered a pile of brushwood and as he put it on the fire, a viper, driven out by the heat, fastened itself on his hand.

When the islanders saw the snake hanging from Paul’s hand, they said to each other “This man must be a murderer; for though he escaped from the sea, the goddess Justice has not allowed him to live.” The islanders (or barbarians as KJV puts it) who have seen the man Paul for only just a little while, immediately pass judgement on him. But we see Paul just shaking off the viper into the fire and suffering no ill effects.
Perhaps we can overlook the attitude of these islanders because they were barbarians and perhaps idol worshippers for they believed in the goddess Justice, but even believers, often judge others, jumping to conclusions, looking only superficially, without knowing the truth.

But when Paul shook off the snake into the fire and suffered nothing in his body, the people were surprised. They expected him to swell up or suddenly fall dead. They waited for a long time and seeing nothing unusual happen; they changed their minds and said he was a god. That’s how people are; they just change their opinions, they change their minds. They may blatantly accuse you in front of others, but later on when they know the truth they just change their minds, perhaps say "i'm sorry" and carry on as if nothing happened.

But we see that Paul did not make a big fuss about the whole thing. He just went about his work on that island. He was called into pray for some of the sick, and in the name of Jesus he healed them. Paul was not unduly disturbed by the things the people said. Neither should we be. When people judge us unwantedly, we must maintain peace and go about doing our work and the Lord will establish that He is with us. The false accusers will eventually know that they were wrong in their judging. Maintain your calm when people speak against you and the Lord will definitely give you justice. He cares for you!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Being obedient to the heavenly vision

“So then, King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the vision from heaven.”(Acts 26:19)

This is the account of Paul, the Apostle, standing trial before king Agrippa. Paul begins his defense by saying that he has lived as a Pharisee all his life and it is because of his hope in what God has promised that he’s on trial. He tells his life story of how he was persecuting the church of God and how Jesus appeared to him. Quoting Paul's words from the book of Acts, “On one of these journeys I was going to Damascus with the authority and commission of the chief priests. About noon, King Agrippa, as I was on the road, I saw a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, blazing around me and my companions. We all fell to the ground, and I heard a voice saying to me in Aramaic, ‘Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.’ “Then I asked, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ “ ‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,’ the Lord replied.” (Acts 26:12-15)

Paul continues his defence speaking of how Jesus told him that He had chosen him (Paul) as a light to people who were living in darkness and also that He will rescue him (Paul) from his own people and from the Gentiles; that He will be sending him to them to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who were sanctified by faith in Jesus. Paul finally tells king Agrippa that he was not disobedient to the vision from heaven.

God speaks to those who have put their trust in him by accepting Jesus as Savior, through visions and dreams and through his Word as one meditates on it. It may not be as great a experience as the apostle Paul had in his life, yet most of us are prompted in our spirit by the Holy Spirit. He shows the right paths that we should choose, whether it is in our personal lives or in the ministry.

The Apostle Paul was obedient to the vision from heaven. There was a great change in his life because of that. First to those in Damascus, then to those in Jerusalem and all Judea, and to the Gentiles Paul preached that they should repent and turn to God and prove their repentance by their deeds.
We too have to be obedient to the vision we have received from heaven, especially if we are called to work for the Lord, to do service for the Lord, to minister to the Lord. Being obedient will bring lasting peace and satisfaction in our lives even in the midst of strife.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Pregnant with evil

Whoever is pregnant with evil conceives trouble and gives birth to disillusionment. Whoever digs a hole and scoops it out falls into the pit they have made. The trouble they cause recoils on them; their violence comes down on their own heads. (Psalm 7:14-16)

The psalmist says here that those who plot evil will land up in trouble themselves. Throughout the Word of God, we read of many arrogant people who have conceived trouble; those who have dug holes for others. But this has led to their own downfall sooner or later.

In the book of Esther, we read of a wicked man called Haman who plotted against the people of God and against Mordecai, a righteous man. He plotted evil to destroy them because Mordecai would not kneel down to him or pay him honor. Haman wanted to destroy him but he scorned the idea of killing only Mordecai, so he decided to destroy Mordecai’s people, all the Jews. He had a big gallows made for Mordecai to be hanged on and he decided on a date to destroy all the Jews together. But Mordecai and queen Esther (Mordecai's cousin) fasted and prayed to the Lord for three days and the king held out the golden scepter to Esther, telling her, "What is your request? Even up to half the kingdom, it will be given you.” Esther invited the king and Haman to a banquet twice. On the second occasion she made it clear to the king that it was Haman who wanted to destroy the Jews, including her. The wrath of the king rose against Haman and he was hanged on the same gallows that he had made for Mordecai.

It's very true when the Bible says that, "he who digs a hole and scoops it out, falls into the pit he has made. The trouble he causes recoils on himself, his violence comes down on his own head." Haman is just one example.

If there are people who are plotting against you; who are digging holes so that you may fall into them, remember, the Word says that the trouble they cause will recoil on themselves. You must trust in the Lord and pray to Him and praise Him and you will see the mighty arm of the Lord working in your favor. You do not have to fight against those who are fighting with you. The Lord will fight for you.
Be assured this day, that God will protect you and guide you and give you victory.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Be merciful to me O Lord, for I am faint

LORD, do not rebuke me in your anger or discipline me in your wrath. Have mercy on me, LORD, for I am faint; heal me, LORD, for my bones are in agony. My soul is in deep anguish. How long, LORD, how long?(Psalm 6:1-3)

The psalmist here is crying to God for mercy; pleading that God may not chastise and rebuke him in his anger and discipline him in his wrath. He’s crying for mercy to the Lord for he has suffered much for some sin in his life. He is suffering not only bodily, but also mentally. He says “heal me O Lord for my bones are in agony”. His soul is in anguish, he’s been suffering for a long time and he is asking the Lord how much more he must suffer. He cries and prays to the Lord, “O Lord, turn and deliver me.”

We must remember that the love of the Lord is unfailing. Even if we sin, after becoming Christians, we can approach the throne of grace with confidence and confess our sins to the Lord and receive forgiveness for our sins and unrighteousness. God loves us with an everlasting love. And because of this everlasting love we can go back to him even though we have sinned and ask for forgiveness and cleansing.

The psalmist here is in distress – bodily and mentally, and his soul is in anguish. But he’s trusting in the grace, mercy, and compassion of the Lord and he believes that the Lord would deliver him. In verse 9 of the same psalm he says, “The Lord has heard my cry for mercy; the Lord accepts my prayer.” The psalmist is confident that if he confesses his sins to the Lord, the Lord would forgive him. We must also remember that our God is a forgiving God.

Trust in the mercy of the Lord. He will forgive your sins if you confess and repent of them . If you have been suffering bodily or mentally because of sins in your life, God will heal you as you repent. Approach his throne of grace with confidence because you are his child. He will never leave you nor forsake you.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

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Circumcision of the heart

A person is not a Jew who is one only outwardly, nor is circumcision merely outward and physical. No, a person is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code. Such a person’s praise is not from other people, but from God. (Romans 2:28-29)

Here we read the apostle Paul telling the Romans not to put too much of emphasis on outward things. The Jews gave emphasis on outward things such as circumcision. Paul was pointing that out to them saying that circumcision is merely outward and physical. A person who is in Christ should not be one only outwardly but his insides must be changed and renewed by the spirit of God. He tells the Romans and the Jews that a man is a Jew if he is one inwardly. True circumcision is circumcision of the heart by the spirit and not by the written code, which was the law.

Even these days we see Christians placing a lot of emphasis on outward things rather than the renewing of the heart by the spirit of God. It’s like the prophet Samuel who went to the house of Jesse to anoint one of the sons of Jesse as the future king of Israel. God did not tell him which son was to be the king of Israel. When Samuel the prophet, saw the sons of Jesse who were in the army of Saul; Eliab, Abinadab and Shammah, he thought they must be truly the ones that the Lord was going to anoint as the king of Israel. But the Lord spoke to Samuel and told him that man looks on the outward appearance but the Lord looks at the heart. That is what is true of Christians in this day. Even if the people around us, the Christians that we deal with, or the people that we deal with, place a great emphasis on our outward appearance like how we should look and the other things; the Lord places a lot of emphasis on how our heart is.

That’s why Paul here is telling the Romans and the Jews that if you have to be called a ‘Jew’ you have to be one inwardly. And if you’re placing emphasis on circumcision, the circumcision of the heart is the most important. Jesus said that the heart is desperately wicked. There are all kinds of evil things coming out of the heart. It’s the Lord’s will that we circumcise our hearts and cleanse our hearts, that we be pure in his presence. That is what the Lord is pleased with. Paul ends by saying “Such a person’s praise is not from other people, but from God.” Truly we must seek praise from God and not from men. For people look on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at our hearts. Let us not be Christians just outwardly and physically, but let us be true Christians, whose hearts have been circumcised by the Holy Spirit.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Are you ashamed of the Gospel?

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile. (Romans 1:16)

Here you see Paul proclaiming his boldness about being a witness for Jesus Christ. He is saying that he is not ashamed of the gospel. There are many Christians who are ashamed to even say that Jesus is their Savior or they often find it difficult to witness for the Lord and bring other people to Christ. There are some who wouldn’t even carry their Bibles in public, thinking what others would think or talk about them. But Paul here is boldly proclaiming, that he is not ashamed of the gospel because it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes.

The gospel is the power. The good news is the power of God for the salvation for everyone. We should be bold enough to witness for Christ and talk to others about the power that can be available in their lives too, if they believe in the Lord Jesus Christ . We can witness about the healings that we have received from Lord, the deliverances that we have received from the Lord and the peace that we have received from the Lord. Our witness, our testimonies can bring about a great change in the lives of those who are listening to us.
Paul also says and we read in verse seventeen, “For in the gospel, the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.”

So it is all a matter of faith, how much faith we exercise and utilize. Paul here is saying that the righteousness of God is revealed in the gospel and this righteousness is by faith, from the beginning to the end. Even if we see the beginning, we see that everything was brought about into being by faith and even in the end it will be so. Yes, it’s true that the righteous will live by faith. We do not have to be ashamed of the gospel because, it is, the power of God. Next time, if you feel timid and shy regarding telling others of Jesus, think about what Paul writes to the Romans. He says, "he is not ashamed of the gospel", neither should you be. Because the power of God for salvation can really be passed on to others and you can witness about the saving grace of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Surely, we may not bring every person to salvation by testifying, but we can plant a seed. Jesus will make it grow and finally he will achieve the purpose that He desires in the life of the person that we have spoken to. So, do not be ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes. Everyone, to whom we speak the Word of God, the power of God becomes available for the salvation of their souls. So be bold and be strong and witness for the Lord for he has given you the faith to do it.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Dr. Johnson's Devotionals 2011

How priceless is your unfailing love! Both high and low among men find refuge in the shadow of your wings. (Psalm 36:7)

An antarctic emperor penguin was found on a New Zealand beach sometime in June 2011. How it reached there remains a mystery because its home is around 3000 kilometers away. It had swallowed sand which it mistook for snow which penguins eat to hydrate themselves during winter. Doctors at the Wellington Zoo flushed its stomach by doing an endoscopy and removed most of the swallowed sand. The penguin was in the wrong place and had done enough unknowingly to almost die.

Some of us tend to be like this penguin, going awry, landing up in the wrong places doing things detrimental to our own lives. But for the unending compassion and mercy of God, we would have died. We must remember that the everlasting love of God is that which sustains us through each day of our lives. Lets trust in Him to guide us each day and pray for His divine protection at all times.
He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the LORD, "He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust." (Psalm 91:1, 2)