Saturday, March 30, 2013

Daily Bible Blessing-107

The next day as they were leaving Bethany, Jesus was hungry. Seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to find out if it had any fruit. When he reached it, he found nothing but leaves, because it was not the season for figs. Then he said to the tree, "May no one ever eat fruit from you again." And his disciples heard him say it. (Mark 11:12-14) Mark, the gospel writer mentions that it was not season for figs; yet Jesus went to find out if the tree had any fruit. Nothing strange regarding that if one knew the real story of the fig tree. By the time of the passover, there should have been small forerunners of figs on this tree which had leaves, but Jesus did not find any. These small knobs of fruit called "Taqsh" was plucked by people to satisfy their hunger while travelling. And the fact remains that if a fig tree does not put out these small knobs of fruit, their won't be real figs that year. But Jesus' dealing with the tree symbolized much more than what the disciples thought. Here was a nation whom God had chosen and given much, but there wasn't any fruit to be seen; not even forerunners of the fruit. And so the stern response. We can be "all leaves" Christians without any fruit and there remains the risk that God deals strictly in such cases. We read of another fig tree in another parable mentioned by Jesus....Luke writes, "Then he told this parable: "A man had a fig tree, planted in his vineyard, and he went to look for fruit on it, but did not find any. So he said to the man who took care of the vineyard, 'For three years now I've been coming to look for fruit on this fig tree and haven't found any. Cut it down! Why should it use up the soil?' "'Sir,' the man replied, 'leave it alone for one more year, and I'll dig around it and fertilize it. If it bears fruit next year, fine! If not, then cut it down.'" (Luke 13:6-9) It was 3 years since Jesus had been proclaiming the kingdom of God, but there were not many takers among his own people. Of course, there were huge crowds following him because of the miracles, but most of the Jews did not want to take the narrow path that he preached. And so the parable of a fig tree planted in a vineyard but not bearing fruit for 3 years in a row. It was using up soil; the owner wanted it to be cut down; but the man who took care pleaded that the tree be given some more time....another year...eventually judgement came upon the nation because of their failure to bear fruit. Jesus tells you and me this day, "This is to my Father's glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples. (John 15:8)". Let us then, fulfil this desire of our Saviour and bring glory to our Father in Heaven.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Daily Bible Blessing-106

I call on you, O God, for you will answer me; give ear to me and hear my prayer. (Psalm 17:6)

The psalmist here affirms his faith in God, because he had experienced answers to his prayers and that makes him pray again for God to give ear to his prayer. Prayer is one of the most vital links between a believer and God; probably can say that it is "the" vital link. In many Psalms, we read of the Psalmists crying to God, "Hear my prayer" or "Listen to my prayer". In this Psalm, the Psalmist David starts by saying, "Hear, O Lord, my righteous plea; listen to my cry. Give ear to my prayer - it does not rise from deceitful lips. (Psalm 17:1)"

Praying with guile in one's heart is a great hindrance to receiving answers to prayer, so David checked himself to be sure that there was no deceit in him while he prayed. He is sure of being innocent at heart and so he tells God, "Though you probe my heart and examine me at night, though you test me, you will find nothing; I have resolved that my mouth will not sin. As for the deeds of men - by the word of your lips I have kept myself from the ways of the violent. My steps have held to your paths; my feet have not slipped. (Psalm 17:3-5)"
In Psalm 51, where David confesses his sins and prays for cleansing from God, we can sense how much he missed his close relationship or fellowship with God because of him committing sins. He cried out..... Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. (Psalm 51:10-12)
He realized that God delighted more in a humble and contrite heart rather than sacrifices. We, as believers are a praying people, so we must make it a point to check our hearts continually to see whether there is any guile in us, because that then will be a hindrance to us receiving answers to our prayers from God Almighty. Let us submit ourselves to God as Jesus did; let us make it a point to follow in his footsteps..........During the days of Jesus' life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. (Hebrews 5:7)

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Daily Bible Blessing-105

To each of them he gave new clothing, but to Benjamin he gave three hundred shekels of silver and five sets of clothes. (Genesis 45:22)

People do amazing things when they love someone deeply from their heart. Here Joseph shows his love to his younger brother Benjamin by giving him much more than he gave to his other brothers. Long back, his father Jacob had showed his deep love for Joseph by giving him a richly ornamented robe. His brothers hated him for that and Joseph underwent a lot of persecution from them and finally landed in a different country. Now things had changed and he had great power and riches.
He loved his younger brother very much and could not and did not hide it when he met him after many many years. 

We read in Genesis 43 & 45,
When portions were served to them from Joseph's table, Benjamin's portion was five times as much as anyone else's.......(Genesis 43:34)
Then he threw his arms around his brother Benjamin and wept, and Benjamin embraced him, weeping. (Genesis 45:14)

Much greater is God's love for you and me. The Bible says,
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.(John 3:16)
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 8:32)

And the love of Jesus.....for the Father....and for us, was (and is) so deep that he.... made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness and being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death - even death on a cross! (Philippians 2:7, 8)

Isaiah prophesied,
He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. (Isaiah 53:3-5)

Salvation, eternal life, peace and healing for all who believe.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Daily Bible Blessing-104

I also told them about the gracious hand of my God upon me and what the king had said to me. They replied, "Let us start rebuilding." So they began this good work. (Nehemiah 2:18)

What the enemy destroyed had to be rebuilt and Nehemiah received grace from God to do it. As he said, the gracious hand of God was upon him and God gave him like minded friends, so they began the good work. The walls of Jerusalem lay in ruins in many places after the Babylonian invasions and God placed the burden of rebuilding the walls upon a cup bearer (to King Artaxerxes) named Nehemiah who was among the exiles who returned from Babylon. He mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven. He prayed to God for granting him favour in the presence of the king and he received it. 

There were many oppositions to the work and Nehemiah had to battle in prayer and answer his enemies wisely on all occasions, trusting in God rather than his own might. He was ridiculed and mocked and threatened by his enemies....... 
Tobiah the Ammonite, ...........said, "What they are building - if even a fox climbed up on it, he would break down their wall of stones!" (Nehemiah 4:3)
Also our enemies said, "Before they know it or see us, we will be right there among them and will kill them and put an end to the work." (Nehemiah 4:11)
Sanballat and Geshem sent me this message: "Come, let us meet together in one of the villages on the plain of Ono." But they were scheming to harm me; (Nehemiah 6:2)

False prophets and a prophetess intimidated Nehemiah, yet he remained steadfast in prayer and built the walls and the gates completing the task in 52 days.

Opposition to the work that God has given us to do is common, but we have to persist in prayer and work (like Nehemiah) and not give up. Sometimes we may not be able to achieve as much success as we did, say in the past year or years, still we must work and work hard. 
God will defeat our enemies and we will be able to complete the task that God has given us.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Daily Bible Blessing-103

After this, the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision: "Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your very great reward. "(Genesis 15:1)

Do we consider the Lord Jesus Christ as our "very great reward"?

At a time when Abram very greatly desired a child, God Almighty told him that he himself was Abram's shield and very great reward. Abram lamented,
"O Sovereign Lord, what can you give me since I remain childless and the one who will inherit my estate is Eliezer of Damascus?" "You have given me no children; so a servant in my household will be my heir." 
Sometimes believers wonder why God takes so much time in answering their prayers. He remains quiet about issues that greatly disturb them.
That's exactly how Abram felt, so the question.....what can you give me since I remain childless.

God's reply was comforting and reassuring, though he did not immediately give Abram a time frame as to when he would have a child. 
"This man will not be your heir, but a son coming from your own body will be your heir. Look up at the heavens and count the stars - if indeed you can count them." Then he said to him, "So shall your offspring be." 
That was a big, big promise, but the best thing about Abram was that he believed God he credited it to him as righteousness.
And till the promise of the offspring was fulfilled, God kept reminding him of the promise. Finally, when Abraham was 99 and Sarah 89 years old, God gave him a time frame. He said,
Is anything too hard for the Lord? I will return to you at the appointed time next year and Sarah will have a son." (Genesis 18:14)

And God was faithful regarding fulfilling his promise to Abraham. And mind you, he has not changed. He will fulfil every promise that he has given you and me too. 

The best promise of all being......For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. (1 Thessalonians 4:16, 17)