Are We Prepared for Eternity?
How To Augment Kingdom Values?
Death in the Pot
Update on Building Project
13/Issue 3 M Vol. arch-A pril 2016
DIVINE COMMITMENT I
n this issue, we sharpen our focus and consider various perspectives of the Kingdom of God. We need to understand from Biblical view point what the Kingdom of God is all about. Where is this? We might try and answer that the Kingdom of God is where Christ reigns. Though invisible now, the ushering in its totality will mark greatness, glory and completeness when Christ returns to earth as King. Any thing of the Kingdom above has to do with God Himself. It is a staggering thought to ponder that God has made us co-heirs of the Kingdom together with Christ. That way, He had provided us the privilege of reigning with Christ. We are called as the Royal Priesthood. But what do these things signify? Are the values of the Kingdom long forgotten by Christians? Do we, for sure, know what its values are? Do we find ourselves qualified to inherit God's Kingdom? What does Jesus mean when he said: “The Kingdom of God is within you” (Luke 17:21). The
Greek word 'entos' actually means 'within' and 'in the midst of.' In a sense, God's Kingdom ushers into the lives of individuals rather invisibly. The great Russian writer Leo Tolstoy wrote a non-fiction book: “The Kingdom of God is in you” which was banned in his home country Russia but was published in 1894 in Germany. For about thirty years Tolstoy's thinking was shaped by the literal interpretation of the Christian scriptures. Tolstoy saw hypocrisy of the church. In reading Jesus' words in the Gospels, Tolstoy notes that the modern church is a heretical creation and states: “Nowhere nor in anything, except in the assertion of the Church, can we find that God or Christ founded anything like what churchmen understand by the Church.” If we belong to the Kingdom above, we are to conduct ourselves in a certain way. No doubt, the Kingdom is governed by the laws of God. God as the Supreme Judge exercises love and justice, meekness and righteousness, forgiveness and punishment, patience and wrath. Those who fail to qualify VOL. 13 ISSUE 3
as per God's moral standards do not enter the Kingdom of God (1 Cor. 6:9,10; Gal.5:19-21; Rev.22:15). In order that man qualifies himself to the Kingdom, God Himself paves the way. For God knows how helpless man is. Mission Accomplished: “….giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints of the kingdom of light. For he as rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves (Col.l:13)”. We are told in the passage that it is the Kingdom of the Son! Paul further states that we belong to a Kingdom that is not made with hands (2 Cor. 5:1). However imaginative, we are still baffled or perplexed about how that Kingdom would be like. We are so accustomed to seeing the material world which is visible to our eyes. Therefore Paul encourages: “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him (1 Cor.2: 9).” Before leaving this world, our Lord encouraged his disciples: “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, trust also in me. In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would not have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you (John 14:1-3)”. VOL. 13 ISSUE 3
If God had made His divine commitment in order to rescue and reinstate us to His Kingdom, we have a divine obligation to reciprocate and respond positively. It calls for a qualitative outlook of life in this world and quintessential upward look for the world to come. Both are complementary. It involves duality of citizenship both here and hereafter. The one experienced here is subtle and the other to come is substantial. They are both mystical yet real. If these truths, unless realized will help in no way girding up oneself for Kingdom values that are so forgotten. Done Away With: Many churches around the world are observing the Season of Lent (Latin: Quadragesima - English: Fortieth) is a solemn religious observance in the liturgical calendar of many Christian denominations that begins on Ash Wednesday and covers a period of approximately six weeks before Easter Sunday. It is a time when the believer is encouraged to make personal reflection on the suffering, and atoning death of Jesus Christ. The sting of sin which bothered mankind for countless generations had been paid off in full at the cross. The curse of sin removed and death
vanquished. God's righteous standards and demands for justice has been fulfilled. Now to man is given a new way of living. That calls for putting away falsehood and living truthfully. In keeping with God's nature, people of the Kingdom set higher goals and values. As believers, risen together with Christ, we are exhorted to “seek things above” (Col.3:1). Unfortunately, the community of Christ had been suffering from 'down-ward-syndrome' for centuries. We live as though we will be here for all eternity. Fanny Crosby the blind hymn writer sang: “Watching and waiting looking above, filled with his goodness, lost in His love.” What blessed assurance she enjoyed being the person who belonged to the Kingdom. What wide difference it makes between her and us. Making The Difference: Jesus said: “You are the light of the world.” He never said: “You ought to be or will be light of the world.” Referring to Himself, Jesus said: “I am the light of the World.” Both the citizen and the ruler share c o m m o n qualities. While teaching further on the values of the Kingdom, our Lord said: “You are the salt of the earth.”
Salt makes a difference when added to the culinary process. It adds taste and flavor. It penetrates and preserves. It creates even thirst! That is to say, that others seeing our character, conversation and conduct are positively attracted to us. Some, however, grow envious – for the Kingdom's life-style in us so condemns them. Jesus was calling us to bring an impact to the society by the way we live. Sadly though, this is not happened much over the centuries. We have failed Christ time and again. Remain Uncompromised: This may sound quite negative. Christians need to respond negatively to some things. Here is how: “The grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say “NO” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live selfcontrolled, upright and godly lives in this present age (Titus 2:11). We live in times when we respect so much of what our Church leaders say rather than Christ. Most of our liberal thinking teachers of the scripture have lowered the standards of Christian faith and conduct. The have misled the flock from faithfully following Christ. The VOL. 13 ISSUE 3
church in many ways have become accommodative to the world, lest it may be rejected by it. We feel that we must not make others uncomfortable by what we do or say. In the process, we find no difference between the worldly people and Christians whose desire should be always to please Christ. Now Or Never! It is time we take this divine commitment seriously. Has it been too far or too long since we have strayed away from Christ and His Kingdom's values? It is high time we return. In the case of the prodigal son, he began to think sensibly to return to his father (Luke 15:17). Until such a time we come to our senses, we will deliberately wander away from Christ. We might be those who are respected in Christian circles – serving as an officer in the church, or the committee. Perhaps, we are admired for our contribution in the areas of mission and evangelism. Who knows? We have won souls for Christ! A good part of our time and financial resources are given away for the work of the church. Alas, the principles and the virtues of the Kingdom were all duly forgotten. The result: The joy of the Lord is gone. There is no right relationship between VOL. 13 ISSUE 3
Christ and us. We have become mechanical in all our religious utterances. Many of us have a mistaken idea that as long as we serve the church, everything will be fine with us. But the truth is not to be so. We must move beyond the Church. We must be able to relate to Christ- for He is the Head of the Church. Do we conduct all our affairs with a Headless body? Christ ushered in his ministry by proclaiming: “The Kingdom of God is near. Repent, and believe the good news” (Mark 1:15). It is the gospel of Christ which again is the gospel of the Kingdom. There is no gospel such as the gospel of the church. The Church must always submit to the Headship of Christ bearing in mind it has members who are the citizens of the Kingdom. Remember, the Church is not an end in itself. We shall do well to serve the Kingdom through the Church. And when we pray: “Lord, let your Kingdom come,” we will find ourselves as those who will do Christ's bidding. Are we rightly connected with Christ and His Kingdom? Do we enjoy this divine commitment? Think!
ntil now, I cannot go up to heaven – or see a God who dwells in unapproachable light. My efforts to reach out to a God who is high and lifted up are all in vain. It is always God – who comes down to meet me. Through Jesus Christ He met me. When Jesus ascended to heaven, the Father sent His Holy Spirit – and He descended on the Day of Pentecost. Since then, He indwells in those who are washed by the blood of the Lamb. Christ had to come down and had to go up after his death and resurrection. In the case of ourselves dying in Christ, we shall go to be in the presence of God instantly. This is the greatest hope of being a follower of Jesus Christ. It is a confirmation of our faith which provides us the hope of life after death. Our being here on earth could also mean much which will be a reflection of heaven. It could be anywhere on the face of the earth when two are three believers gather in the name of the Lord. This is the flock of Jesus Christ left behind in the earth as kingdom people. They are a group or assembly that gathers together in the name of Jesus Christ, around Christ, with Christ, in Christ and for Christ. These are those who enjoy sweet communion in the spirit and experience the Kingdom of God among themselves. They joyfully sing songs of praises, hymns, psalms and exhort each other – not to break but to uphold, care, pray not for themselves alone, but for larger interests – for preparation, for warfare, to bear the cross and to stand, to witness, to profess and to proclaim: “Holy be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven”. J.D. Have you been reading CTS for years and blessed by the articles therein? If so, would you consider supporting various aspects of our ministry – thus helping us reach many others too? Call: 093809875 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org For more details of our work, please see last cover pages. VOL. 13 ISSUE 3
KINGDOM VALUES (Principles From Beatitudes – Matthew 5:3-12)
hat is the single most factor in human life which we might call true blessedness? ? Power and Riches ? Prestige and Popularity ? Wealth and Honour Would these and many other earthly gains constitute true blessedness? What is the deepest cry of our heart? What are we seeking after? Is there still a deep void even after our claims to have been “born again?” What is that missing factor even after we have served Christ for many decades? We are trying to emphasize the fact that however our external claims may be, we need to reflect the character of the Kingdom people from inside out. Jesus kept teaching to the crowds (what we call the Sermon on the Mount), about what it is to belong to the Kingdom. Once he picked up a little child and said this: “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the Kingdom of heaven(Matt.18:3)”. Simply put it, Kingdom values are qualities that exhibit humility, straightforwardness, VOL. 13 ISSUE 3
s i m p l i c i t y, t r a n s p a r e n c y, trustworthiness and teachability. I am afraid to mention (though I am aware, that I too will be judged accordingly), about the brazen, unchanged attitude often exhibited by the “converted Christians.” We often say we are changed yet not being able to recognize that the old nature still lurks within us. We shall now look at Matt. 5:3: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven.” Declare Spiritual Bankruptcy: That is to say: “Apart from God, I can do nothing.” Our righteousness is as filthy rags (Isa.64:6). Spiritual people are those who constantly recognize their unworthiness before God. There is no place for spiritual superiority. Oh, how much of spiritual extravaganza is going around in Christian circles. Each of us is trying to show one's relatively superior spiritual mettle to the other. That is how the Pharisee prayed: “I fast twice a week, I give alms to the poor, I am comparatively better off…” We need to watch out lest we too blabber like the Pharisee in our prayer meetings. May not our Bible-study places become centres for gossip and
godless superfluity. Our mission boards and training centres are not to be places of authoritarianism and autocracy. By being so earthly, we have nothing to show to the people around us the values of the Kingdom. Thank God. All is not lost. There is no need to be gloomy. The remnant of God's people are per vading everywhere as light and salt and as a leaven working quietly its way through. V.4. “Blessed are those who mourn for they will be comforted.” Deplore Your Spiritual Condition: It is timely we rend our hearts during this Lent. Is there are a sense of despair and mournfulness of our own spiritual wretchedness? How often have we been broken in our hearts when sin took center stage in our lives? The Bible declares; “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” (Rom.3:23). Sin is a horrible thing. If you are truly a child of God, you cannot simply get on with it comfortably. It will bother you. It will strike at the root of your conscience. I heard a sermon last Sunday in my Church and the preacher said: “Sin thrills, but kills!” That is the effect of sin. Deal with sin squarely and sternly. V.5 “Blessed are the meek for they will inherit the earth.” Display A Gentle Spirit:
While writing this, my own conscience is troubled. I ask myself: “Do I have this spirit?” It appears as though a voice is heard saying: “You need to work on this!” In my own life, I often found the element of 'righteous indignation' which had crossed it's barrier and crash landed with a horrific thud. I have often struggled to strike a balance between love and justice. How true this is with so many of us. Our Lord was the meekest person who lived on the planet earth. We are never to wrongly understand meekness as an indication of weakness. In fact, the meek person is a strong person who knows how to control his emotions. He may be a person who expresses such qualities like politeness, courteousness and so on. V.6. “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness.” Desire Righteousness: James Merritt, the pastorpreacher whom I admire and from whose message I have picked up most of the sub-titles says that we need to have a “heart-hunger” than a mere “intellectual hunger” concerning spiritual matters. Mental assent is what we call it. We have a lot more believers and upcoming youth leaders in our churches who have a thorough knowledge of God. Everything about God, Sin and Salvation is VOL. 13 ISSUE 3
studied well and kept intact at the mental level. At times, even Christ becomes a principle rather than a Person to them. Some Bible study fellowships are notoriously famous for this kind of teaching. Is your spiritual appetite same as your financial thirst and hunger? “I will not be satisfied until I will be like you Lord.” Is this what we are saying? The number one goal is to be certain about the life of God living through our lives. That alone will be a state of blessedness. V.7. “Blessed are the merciful for they will be shown mercy.” Deliver Mercy: James Merritt in his sermon explains that justice is what we deserve and mercy is getting what we do not deserve. We are called to invest mercy in someone's life. When we violate the rules of traffic, we are dealt with the laws of justice. But isn't it true we plead for mercy at such times? As per God's righteous standards, we all deserve to be punished. But God delivered mercy instead of justice. God made a provision for meeting His own righteous demands. In that, God placed His Son on the cross to pay the penalty. By being merciful, we can express the love of the cross. This may be difficult, but possible with the grace of God. V.8 “Blessed are the pure in heart VOL. 13 ISSUE 3
for they will see God”. Demand Purity In Heart: What comes to my mind is David's prayer of confession in Psalm 51:6: “Surely, you desire truth in the inner parts.” What does it mean? It means that God is looking for truth at the deeper level – say even at the subconscious level. Most of us have a working knowledge of being superficially truthful. We fall out at the deeper level. God is not looking at our head or hand but the heart. Is purity, sincerity and integrity found deep beneath our being – our soul?
Are all forms of filth, sinful imagination (the Bible calls this as the inclination of the thoughts of the heart which is evil –Genesis 6:5), from our lives are done away with? We are living in times when our thoughts and imagination are contaminated by the media – the digital one being the villain of all. I have a friend who have loved and ser ved Christ sacrificially for decades. Now he confesses that he had been t r a p p e d i n t h e we b o f pornography. How easily these
things can strike a believer who in their hearts truly love Christ. Let us beware lest we become prey to devil's devices. V.9. “Blessed are the peace makers for they will be called sons of God.” D e t e r m i n e To M a ke Peace: Let us remember: Christ became our peace (Rom.5:1; Col.1:20;Eph.2:14). The Son of God was the peace maker between God and man. Most of us have difficulty working with conflict management or crisis management. We tend to win through arguments or through raising of our voices. There are more p-i-e-c-e makers around than peace makers. Families separate because of such people. They divide and rule. Spouses fall apart because of a friend who gossiped about any one of them. Committees in the Churches go through sessions of heated debate without resolving the issues. It is such a rare thing to find peace makers. Paul had this to say: “Let the peace of God which passes all understanding guard your hearts (garrison you), and your minds in Christ Jesus (Phil.4:7). Peace within is prerequisite for peace without. If there are tumultuous waves raging within, the peace incomprehensible is impossible without. Are we experiencing peace which surpasses all understanding? V.10-12. Blessed are those are
persecuted because of righteousness. For theirs is the kingdom of heaven…….. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven. Decide To Love Your Enemies: Tough, isn't it? Jesus said: 'Pray, bless and feed your enemies….' At the cross, with excruciating pain, he spoke out: “Father forgive them.” That was the prayer for His enemies. Alexander Pope said: “To err is human, to forgive divine.” The ability to forgive has in itself the divine attribute. Not many of us have been doing well in this area of forgiving our offenders. It is one thing to pray about this, yet another thing to work consciously in this area of our weakness. We can ask for the Holy Spirit's help to be able to forgive our enemies. Let us make a list of our enemies! Are they many or few? What reaction do we get when we think of them? What injustice and wrong have they done to us? Let us begin praying for them. Then God will help and guide u s t o ove r c o m e h a t r e d , bitterness and resentment against those we were holding grudge. Do we recognize how vast the difference and incomparable the values of the Kingdom are? Are you par t of this Kingdom? VOL. 13 ISSUE 3
ARE WE PREPARED FOR ETERNITY?
tremble at the thought of writing something which is scientific- and I confess my limitation. I had never been a student of science at the collegiate level. But of late, something interests me. I read about the collision of two stars (black-holes), and the effects it had in the space. Here are some more details: Feb 11, 2016 - Physicists have announced the discovery of gravitational waves, ripples in the fabric of space time that were first anticipated by Albert Einstein a century ago. The scientists detected their cataclysmic event using an instrument so sensitive it could detect a change in the distance between the solar system and the nearest star four light years away to the thickness of a human hair. “The colliding black holes that produced these gravitational waves created a violent storm in the fabric of space and time, a storm in which time speeded up and slowed down, and speeded up again, a storm in which the shape of space was bent in t h i s w a y a n d t h a t w a y, ”
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C. HENZE/NASA AMES RESEARCH CENTER I n l ay m a n ' s l a n g u a g e, stretching and contracting of time and space happens through gravity waves when stars collide. The scientists have used a phrase “fabric of space and time.” Now scientists also tell us that space is a not just void but is made up of matter which we cannot see or feel. Due to the gravitational waves that occur because of the collision of stars, there happens the bending – stretching and contracting of space! Therefore, scientists conclude that space is not just void but is solid matter. Scientists seem to agree that someday the sun will stop giving light and it's 'gas' would run out. This was foretold by our Lord before 2000 years. “The sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky and the heavenly bodies will be shaken” (Matt.24:29). Jesus was a carpenter by trade. But He was the Son of God in human flesh. He indicated the heavenly bodies will be shaken. Today, scientists call this as 'gravitational wave.' It's effect they say could cause compression or expansion of space and time.
Therefore, we are given to understand that space is like a fabric – a kind of a web, not intangible. For example, think of the ozone layer. It is a kind of a belt in the earth's atmosphere which absorbs the harmful ultraviolet rays from the sun. We cannot see it with our naked eyes. But it can be depleted with the earth's atmosphere getting heated up due to pollution containing chemicals. Imagine, getting tangled up with a cob-web in a dense forest. The cob-web is a tangible thing. It can be stretched or bent. Unless noticed from close range, it is not visible to the eyes. In the same way, scientists are trying to explain that the space is like a fabric, it has a certain length and width. When earth's tectonic plates jostle with one another, it creates seismic waves. Seismic waves are the waves of energy caused by the sudden breaking of rock beneath the earth which results in earth-quake or the explosion of volcano. We measure seismic waves through means of an instrument called Richter Scale which measures the magnitude of the earth-quake. This is an earth bound discovery made years ago. Now, scientists have found the gravitational wave due to the collision of stars which causes some pressure in the space
which can alter the length and time of space. This is a recent space-bound discovery! We know that the Bible is not a science textbook. But there are wonderful insights that are scientific. The Psalmist declares: “The heavens declare the glory of God. The skies proclaim the work of his hands” (Ps.19:1). Here are a couple of examples in the Bible and how scientists give explanation to some of them. The Singing Stars: Job 38:7 declares the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy. Scientists have been able to convert patterns from star's light into audio wavelengths, according to Discovery News. The “amount of hiss” in the audio reportedly allows scientists to measure the surface gravity on a star and gauge where it is in its stellar evolution. The heavenly garment: In at least 11 Old Testament texts God is described as stretching out the heavens like a garment. For example, in Job 9:8, we are told He alone stretches out the heavens. Likewise, elsewhere we read that God spreads out the heavens like a tent (Psalm 104:2) and that God is the One Who stretches out the heavens like a veil and spreads them out like a tent to dwell in (Isaiah 40:22). Again, it's easy for us to brush past these passages, VOL. 13 ISSUE 3
absorbed in the sheer beauty of their poetry, and miss an obvious textual detail. As we saw above, biblical writers could and did refer to individual heavenly bodies—the stars, the moon, and the sun, so the heavens are not synonymous with these things (although they certainly included them). Had the authors of the above verses wanted to simply convey the idea that God was placing stars and planets in the sky another analogy would seem more fitting—verbs like scattered, studded, or decorated, come to mind. One has to ask, in what sense are the “heavens” capable of being stretched out like a “veil” or a “canopy?” Is this poetry alone or is there a thread of scientific truth contained in these verses? Indeed, modern science—as developed just over the last century or so—tells us that it is useful to think of empty space like a fabric. According to Albert Einstein's theory of general relativity, space is not flat, as understood by Newtonian physics. Instead, the space-time continuum is flexible, capable of being stretched and bent by matter, such as stars or planets. Gravity is understood as the curvature caused by the presence of a large body (Stephen Beale). In the context of His Kingdom being near, Jesus said: “Heaven and earth shall pass away, VOL. 13 ISSUE 3
but my words will never pass away.” (Luke 21:31-33). A Bible scholar suggests a better translation could be: “The universe shall pass away.” Christians everywhere are stricken with an unhealthy curiosity about the coming of Christ and of the end of age. But a thorough study of the scriptures point to the fact that the heavens or the sky will no longer be there. We must never be given to thinking that such a premise is being built on isolated texts. Rev. 21:1 “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea.” Rev.22:5 “There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the Sun…” Rev.6:14 “The sky receded like a scroll, rolling up, and every mountain and island was removed from its place.” More than a couple of thousand years before, Isaiah prophesied: “All the stars of the heaven will be dissolved and the sky rolled up like a scroll; all the starry host will fall like withered leaves from the vine, like shriveled figs from the fig tree” ( Isa.34:4). “Lift up your eyes to the heavens, look at the earth beneath; the heavens will wear out like a garment” (Isa.51:6) What do these passages
signify? Scholars of Biblical interpretation will have to grapple with the principle and the problem involved in interpretation. No matter what, our Lord had clearly indicated events preceding His coming: “Immediately after the distress of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken” (Matt.24:29). Biblical scholars, in their zeal for maintaining hermeneutical purity must not destroy or muffle what is being said plainly. There are passages in the scripture which are obscure and ambiguous. Our attempt to interpret such passages may pose a problem. Plain texts repeatedly occurring both in the Old and the New Testament provides ample scope for us not just to examine but make preparation for the Coming of the Lord. Lastly, see what the apostle Peter says to this effect: “The heavens will disappear with a roar, the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare” (2 Peter. 3:10). Whatever the global effects may be, one thing is clear: The coming of the Lord is near. We need to pray as the first century Christians prayed: Maranatha! The NRSV of 1 Cor 16:22 translates the expression as: "Our
Lord, come!" but notes that it could also be translated as: "Our Lord has come"; the NIV translates: "Come, O Lord"; the Messag e version puts it differently as: "Make room for the Master!" As understood here ("O Lord, come!"), it is a prayer for the early return of Christ. If the Aramaic words are divided differently (Maran atha, "Our Lord has come"), it becomes a credal declaration. The former interpretation is supported by what appears to be a Greek equivalent of this acclamation in the Book of Revelation 22:20 "Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!" Christians everywhere seem to be making preparation for everything pertaining to their life on earth. There are two things that most of us are not prepared to face: 1) Death, and 2) The coming of the Lord. Any one of these may precede the other. But the question remains: Do we live keeping in view of eternity? If death comes to us unexpectedly, would we be sure of ourselves ushering into God's presence? Are we ready to meet Christ if His coming is sudden? When cataclysmic events occur globally, would our hearts tremble? We should live and work constantly praying: “Holy Father, may your Kingdom come”. J.D VOL. 13 ISSUE 3
HOW TO AUGMENT KINGDOM VALUES?
ere is an advice given by a servant of God who lived between the years 1847-1929. Our souls are clad with the flowing garments of various tastes, appetites, affections and propensities, which hand loosely around us, constantly catching in the things of the world, and hindering us in the Christian race. We must not let them stream as they will – or we do so at our peril. Absalom rued the day when his luxuriant tresses floated behind him in the breeze. We must ‘gird up’ the habits of our souls, and trim ourselves, so as to pass quickly and easily as possible through the thorny jungle of the world. ? Hold your spirit in a tight hand. ? Put a curb on appetite. ? Say ‘No’ to luxuriant pleasure-seeking. ? Curtail your expenditure on yourself. ? Do not spread yourself too widely. ? Watch eye and lip, thought and wish, lest any break from the containing cords of self-control. ? Keep thy heart with all diligence. ? Give Vanity Fair as little chance as possible, by passing swiftly and unostentatiously through. Be sober! Sobriety is a great word. It is constantly inculcated in the New Testament on elders, deacons, women, aged men, young men and maidens. It means temperance, self-control, and a just estimate of one’s self in the world. There are some who counterfeit it by assuming an austere and forbidding attitude, denouncing much that is innocent and natural, and looking severely on some who do not yield to their scruples. The truly sober man, on the other hand, moves freely through the world, strews with beautiful and innocent things: using them without abuse, rejoicing in every good thing which the Lord God gives; but never allowing any of them to usurp too great an influence on his affections, or to tyrannize over his will. (F.B. Meyer). VOL. 13 ISSUE 3
DEATH IN THE POT E ( 2 Kings 4: 38-41)
lisha returned to Gilgal and there was a famine in that region. While the company of the prophets was meeting with him, he said to his servant, “Put on the large pot and cook some stew for these prophets.” One of them went out into the fields to gather herbs and found a wild vine and picked as many of its gourds as his garment could hold. When he returned, he cut them up into the pot of stew, though no one knew what they were. The stew was poured out for the men, but as they began to eat it, they cried out, “Man of God, there is death in the pot!” And they could not eat it. Elisha said, “Get some flour.” He put it into the pot and said, “Serve it to the people to eat.” And there was nothing harmful in the pot. Here is an Old Testament account of the school of young prophets who were trained under the leadership of the prophet Elisha. It so happened that one day when their food stock apparently seemed to be scare, Elisha ordered the young men to prepare a stew, The young men, who were trainees, knew little about natural vegetation – and one of them did not know even to distinguish the wild herb or some gourds which were poisonous from
eatable greens or herbs. PA L A TA B L E O R POISONOUS? C h r i s t i a n believers can learn many spiritual lessons from this story. For the team of prophets, that noon meal had become a poison. Something poisonous had gone into what other wise was a meal to be eaten. Therefore, the young men cried: “Man of God, there is death in the pot!” Often, the pot with poison can be compared to our own life. It had been made corrupt or contaminated. Our life has become useless since it has poisonous elements within. In which case, something needs to be done urgently. You cannot break open the pot or pour out the contents. We are created by God in such a way that others must be blessed and satisfied. As long as there is poison within, we cannot share the inner contents with anyone. There has got to be an antidote which has to go in. At times it must be administered by the man of God – so the effect of poison may be removed. THE POISON WITHIN: What is there in the very depths of our inner beings? David VOL. 13 ISSUE 3
while confessing his sins to God said: “Lord, surely you desire truth in the inner parts” (Ps.51:6). This is a true confession whereby the expression: the 'deep calling deep' (Ps.42:7), may have denoted David's deepest cry of agony from the depths of his heart which may have reached the very depth of the heart of God. In the midst of life's tempest, when a child of God is battered with bitter experiences, he will appreciate the “awful harmony between God and man, the mystery of God's purposes through pain and suffering; and the secret of human wickedness paralleled by divine grace” (Charles Spurgeon). Aren't there times when a child of God is forced to drink from the cup of suffering filled with bitter 'wormwood and gall?' Within the permissive will of God, we are made to go through agonizing situations when we are so vulnerable to eat from the 'common pot' which is filled with poison. One may have to cry out then: “There is death in the pot!” POISON SHARED: It was because there was a common pot. Think of one's family pot, the pot in your christian fellowship. Is there poison in that pot? Do you cry out: “Man of God, there is poison in the p o t . ” We h a v e g r o w n accustomed to endure poison of all sorts – and have built up an VOL. 13 ISSUE 3
immune system which does not seem to bother us at all! When there is pain and mysery of all sorts, the deep must cry out to the deep: “O man of God. there is poison in the pot!.” Now, when we talk about poison, it may even mean a little leaven – and the wickedness of the heart of man which is deceitful and beyond cure (Jer.17:9). Recently, I sat on an early Sunday mor ning Church service. The pastor, though good and eloquent for most part of his sermon, suddenly stated: “Well, none of us can ever be perfect. Just do not bother for this or that. When you get to heaven, you will see Jesus as the only perfect person.” Such teaching in an instance appears harmless. From Matthew 5: 43-48 Jesus is clarifying that (despite popular opinion) the intent of God's commandment was for His people to love everyone -- even their enemies. He then goes on to provide evidence that God exhibits this kind of impartial love (by citing His care for the wicked), thereby establishing the basis for His clarification of God's commandment. Jesus then clarifies that the attitude that you will "love those who love you" is nothing special; even the wicked do this. He then concludes with the following:
"Therefore you are to be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect." In other words, having just explained how the Father is "perfect," and instructing God's people to behave similarly, He is now concluding with a summary statement. So the flow of the paragraph could be summarized as follows: You have heard "love with partiality" but I say to you "love impartially" so you can be sons of the Father; for the Father loves impartially. If you love with partiality, you are nothing special... even the wicked do that. Therefore, you are to love perfectly as the Father loves perfectly. We are not to misunderstand perfection or equated it with God's moral perfection or knowledge. This admonition from Jesus is repeated in other Gospel accounts and developed in the New Testament Epistles. Our question should not be "is it possible?" Rather, it should be "How is it possible?" How do we respond? Perhaps our problem with both understanding and responding is that we confuse the meaning of the word, "perfect". Filtering this word through our linguistic limitations, we may come up with a false translation and, as a result, not even attempt to
respond to the admonition. Please read the following verses which will further highlight this: Phil. 2:15,16, James 1:27; I Pet. 1:14. God is calling us not for superficial experience with him, but for an everlasting love. He expects us to reciprocate with the same depth of love. When this happens, the bitter herb will be neutralized, the poison removed from the pot. There will be truthfulness within. POISON PURGED: More often, a man of God has a business to detect the poison in the pot. A pot where things are 'cooked-up' from inside. “For from within, out of men's hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these evils come from inside and make a man 'unclean.' (Mark 7:21,23)” There can be a purification process without extraction or elimination. God's touch has a power to make the unholy –holy, poison-palatable. In that the man of God has a 'word' in his mouth which has power both to cleanse and heal. Every where the man of God goes – he sees there is a kind of death in the pot. Through the prevailing power of God's word, he can bring about change- a removal of the poison within. The springs of living water will purge out the poisonous effect VOL. 13 ISSUE 3
from within. Sometimes, the man of God may have to administer an antidote in the form of a scroll which may taste bitter in the stomach, but will do the cleansing work (Rev.10:10). “You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you.” (John 15:3).
Have you been made clean by the word of God? Is there a kind of poison in your pot which is ruining your own life and of others? This needs purging. God's Word has that power to purge out the effect of poison.
Readers write…. I am touched by your small article on Spiritual Obesity. I evaluated and found I am Spiritually Obese person. Being an IT person, during my break times, I used to navigate various web sites and used to read articles - Even download. I am little confused on their arguments on some subjects - but used to read their faith if published first. Now I decided to stop this exercise and restrict myself to reading useful materials only. Thanks for this eye opening article. Mr. Vinod Robert, Cochin. I have always enjoyed reading Christian Thought Series. Please pardon my inquisitiveness. Are you a graduate of UBS (Union Biblical Seminary)? If so, which years did you spend in UBS? I was a professor there from 1079-89. Dr. Andrew Swamidoss, Ikkadu,Tiruvallur I praise God for the sustained ministry for the extension of God's Kingdom in this land and touching and transforming the lives of people in “Bharat.” Please accept a small contribution sent as token of our commitment to support the efforts which is being done under difficult circumstances and opposition. May God continue to bless your ministry so that this land will be won for the Lord and creator of this earth. Mr. R. Jayakumar, Chennai. Just finished reading the CTS January issue. "Great is thy faithfulness" and it is good to see the development in your ministry and the building project. Mr. Rajesh, Tiruvalla I am privileged to get a copy of CTS. I have read through it and found they are inspiring and useful for Christian growth. I like this series. Can you please send it to my address? I am contributing Rs.300/- towards the same. Mr. Dexterson Poshna, Meghalaya. Setting Right Goals & Priorities – Jan-Feb 2016 issue is topical and thoughtprovoking. I have read it again and again to absorb the contents meaningfully for 'inner reinforcement.' Mr. Renchy Koshy Verghese, Chennai VOL. 13 ISSUE 3
Update on Building Project By the grace of God, we have begun weekly fellowship meeting every Saturday evening in our base. This is our preliminary effort. We shall, with God's enablement conduct retreats, discipleship camps and training programmes for lay pastors and evangelists in the near future. The small hall presently would accommodate about 25-30 people. We have boldly ventured into the second phase of construction which will contain two bed-rooms for staying purposes. Thus far we have witnessed unprecedented provision of God which is timely and unexpected. We still have financial needs to be met for the remaining work. Faith partners may share in this work if they are led of the Lord to do so.Any financial contributions may be sent to:
Disciples For Christ, HDFC Bank A/C No.50200007377501, IFSC HDFC0000124, Kellys Branch, Chennai 10.
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