Faith is Crown with seven jewels

Supplements of faith

J.N. Manokaran

“For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins.10 Therefore, brothers,[g] be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall.”  (II Peter 1:5-10)

Faith is like a crown

St. Peter writes few practical suggestions for Christian growth.  Faith is the basic foundation on which the whole edifice of a Christian spiritual life is built upon.  In fact faith is like a crown decorated with seven jewels.

The life journey of a disciple of Christ begins with faith.  Indeed faith is a gracious gift of God.  It is based on the knowledge revealed through the Holy Scripture. The object of faith is the triune God:  Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  It is not possible to please God without faith.  (Hebrews 11:6)  Whatsoever that does not originate with faith is sin.  (Romans 14:23)

Jewel 1: Virtue   (moral excellence)

Goodness or virtue or moral excellence is the natural divine quality that should be expressed in a Christian lifestyle.  This is not an external appearance but an inner quality.  In fact, St. Peter places virtue or moral excellence before knowledge.  The world may prefer the other way round.

Moral excellence is beyond legal and courteous requirements.  For example, as required by Law, Pharisees paid tithes but neglected justice, mercy and love.  (Matthew 23:23 and Luke 11:42)

For example, a person may not verbalize his thought about his brother. Outwardly,  the person is courteous and respectful, but inwardly he harbours hatred and bitterness.  Even the very attitude and thought of hatred towards his brother is sin.  Moral excellence in thought and attitude is a mark of a Christian that could not be scrutinized by legal measurements and social niceties.

Jewel 2:   Knowledge 

The knowledge Peter writes, is based on the revealed Word of God.  “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.” (Proverbs 1:7) King Solomon asked for wisdom rather than riches or military conquests.   (I Kings 3: 1-15)  Worldly knowledge puffs up a person.  (I Corinthians 8:1) “But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.” (James 3:17)  True knowledge is holy and pure, without criminal intention or corrupt mindset or biased and judgmental.  The knowledge that God provides is peaceable and gentle (courteous, polite).  A person with divine wisdom is humble, willing to learn, serve and to accept correction. This knowledge is merciful and gracious in relationships.  The fruit of this knowledge is good, pleasing and a blessing.  This knowledge does not allow people to discriminate or be partial.

There are people with knowledge which is used for ignoble purposes.  For example: Political wisdom to manipulate people, bureaucratic wisdom to abuse power, criminal wisdom to do ID thefts and do white colour crimes, legal wisdom to exploit and oppress others.  Such worldly smart wisdom is not rooted in faith on Lord Jesus Christ.

Jewel 3:  Self-control

This means to have full grip or control over oneself.  Firm grasp over thoughts, attitude, reason, desires, ambitions and longings.  Our body has to serve the spirit and soul and not vice versa.  Body has to be disciplined and brought under absolute control.  (I Corinthians 9:27)  Instead of listening to the body, a believer should train the body to listen to the soul and spirit.  For example, the body would prefer to sleep rather than toil; or the body would prefer feasting in place of fasting. Such preferences and choices should not be entertained.

There is need for self-control in the thought life too.  “Mind is a monkey” states a Tamil proverb meaning the thoughts jump from one to another like a wandering monkey.  Mind could stray from godly thoughts to ungodly thoughts.  A believer should immediately apply the brake and stop such unwarranted wanderings that leads to sin.

Jewel 4: Steadfastness (Perseverance)

Steadfastness is doing right, even when circumstances are not favourable.  Steadfastness is doing right even when there is loss, pain, sorrow, grief and suffering.  Steadfastness is consistency and reliability.  It is easy to predict the behavior of a steadfast person.  For example, a person cannot be lured or made to compromise for Rs.100 or Rs. 100 or Rs. One million.  The response would be consistent. A steadfast parent or teacher would be consistent in disciplining and guiding.

Jewel 5: Godliness

Godliness is a spiritual experience that makes us God conscious all the time.  The presence of God is understood, grasped and practiced in day to day life.  Godliness is the mark of a blessed persons who are awake, agile and alert for His Coming.  When the Master returns, the servants should be ready, alert and should have done what they ought to have done. (Luke 12:37) Moses pleaded with God that God’s presence should go with him as he goes on to lead the Children of Israel. (Exodus 33:15)

“But Godliness with contentment is great gain.” (I Timothy 6:6) Godliness dispels consumerism, covetousness, and greediness. A person of faith will be godly, which is true spirituality.  A jaywalker crosses the road, believing  that the traffic police is not around.   A godly person is conscious that God watches over, even when there is no cctv or a traffic police, hence abides by the law.

Jewel 6:  Brotherly affection  

“Brotherly affection denotes that all disciples of Lord Jesus Christ belongs to one family, the Family of God. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”  (Galatians 3;28)  The brotherly affection crosses all human boundaries of culture, race, caste, class, clan, language, and nation. This relationship in Christ is more intimate and deeper than any other relationship of kinship in the world.

The Parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37) demonstrates brotherly love which the world describes as human value.  The Good Samaritan was not like the Priest or Levite but different.  His affection transcended boundaries of race, language, region, class and religion.  Christians are called to demonstrate such brotherly affection.

However, this quality is missing in churches today.  People like to celebrate their personal relationship with God but ignore the fellow worshipper. Sacrificial giving for fellow brethren is mark of Christian maturity.

Jewel 7:   Love

“For God so loved the world,[i] that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)  Lord Jesus Christ demonstrated true love that is sacrificial, gracious, generous even towards sinners, rebels and ungodly.  (Romans 5: 1-5)  God expects the same kind of love towards fellow believers and fellow human beings.  “By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.”  (I John 3:16)

However, In the last days, love of many will grow cold.  (Matthew 24:12)  Also there is another sign or trait in the last days: people will be lovers of self and lovers of money.  (II Timothy 3:2)

Challenge

Faith in Lord Jesus Christ is basic requirement for Christian life.  The faith has multiple effect that transforms a person.  In other words, true faith is demonstrated and expressed through the seven things:  Moral excellence, knowledge, self-control, steadfastness, godliness, brotherly affection and love.  In fact, faith cannot be latent or hidden but always revealed and displayed in the lifestyle of the disciples of Lord Jesus Christ.

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Prayer is neither a mantra and a formula

Prayer is neither a mantra nor a formula

J.N. Manokaran

“We will dominate by the power of prayer,” said one pastor.  “Prayer always brings victory”, said another.  “Prayer is power.”  These are some statements which are exaggeration and untrue.  The Bible has so many verses that teach prayer, models of saints praying to God and prayer requests of a variety of subject.  However, Lord Jesus Christ’s teaching on prayer is very crisp and provides great insights for spiritual maturity and not spiritual pride or bragging.

Lord’s teaching on prayer

“And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

“And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. Pray then like this:

“Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
10 Your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us this day our daily bread,
12 and forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.

14 For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, 15 but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.  (Matthew 6: 5-16)

  1. Christian prayer is unique

Prayer is unique or special in Christian spirituality.  Prayer is not one way street or only petitions but conversation with God.  This conversation is based on a firm relationship.  This relationship provides privilege of prayer for the people of God and God eagerly listens to prayers. Psalmist gives a name to God as One who answers prayers. Psalmist states: “O you who hear prayer, to you shall all flesh come. (Psalms 65:2)  God is alive and is active to be involved in our lives.   Prayer is not monotonous toil, or pointless chants, or desperate mumblings but delightful fellowship with God.

  1. Who is the audience?

There are people who pray in religious places like synagogues and even in street corners, and their performance or gimmick is seen by other people – a huge captive audience.  Lord Jesus Christ said that if people have seen their performance and applauded it, then the purpose for which the prayer was done – praise of people, is received and thus the reward is immediate. Such prayers have only immediate effect on audience and no further.  Prayer is neither a performance to be seen and admired by people nor for public consumption.  Prayer is humble worship and adoration of God.

  1. Privacy and Prayer

Lord Jesus Christ taught that the prayer is not a public display but a private conversation with God.  Yes, there is a place for congregational prayer, however, most prayer time is an intimate, private conversation and fellowship with God.  When people pray in secret, secluded form the crowd, God answers such prayers openly for all people to see. In nutshell, prayer should be private while answers to prayers would be public.

Intimate conversations happens in private.  Husband and wife could have intimate private conversations, however, in public their conversation is limited.  Spiritual fellowship with God happens in sweet ‘alone’ time with God.

  1. No Empty phrases (mantra)

Lord Jesus reinforces the fact that prayer is a meaningful conversation not chanting of mantras.  Pet phrases and repetition of such phrases is not prayer.  There are no sacred or power phrases. The mindless mechanical repetition is not considered prayer in Biblical spirituality.  Yes, there are situations when a person is unable to utter words because of distress and pain like Hannah.  (I Samuel 1: 13)  Prayer is not mindless repetition or chants of some words or phrases but delightful heartfelt conversation with God.

That means, involvement of mind is essential is Christian spirituality.  Paul writes, “What am I to do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will pray with my mind also; I will sing praise with my spirit, but I will sing with my mind also.” (I Corinthians 14:15)  Christian spirituality does not bypass mind or ignore mind.  Mind is active in spiritual experience and not a passive spectator.

  1. Not many words (Formula)

Lord Jesus Christ pointed out to those who made prayer a vocabulary gymnastics.  Ornamental words, technical words, theological words, evangelical words, pietistic words, sacred words in prayer do not impress or impact God.  In a parable taught by Lord Jesus Christ: The prayer of the Pharisee was rejected while the simple commoner’s prayer from his heart was accepted.  (Luke 18:9-14)  Pharisee’s prayer was from his head without the involvement of his whole being, while commoner’s prayer was utterance from his whole being.  The words of Pharisee also shows pride.  Prayer was a platform to display his pomp and pride: social and spiritual.  God rejects pride and is against the proud.  (James 4:6)

  1. Based on relationship: Father

Christian spirituality is based on a relationship with the creator God as Father.  This relationship is possible only through His Son Lord Jesus Christ.  Those who come to the Eternal God who is the Ultimate Judge, have to come through the Saviour, Lord Jesus Christ the Son of God.  Without this faith relationship based on the knowledge that a person is sinner and is forgiven by the virtue of the death and resurrection of Lord Jesus Christ; there is no relationship with God.  This understanding of God as Father reveals a family relationship that is homely and intimate.  Also it makes disciples as children who are dependent on His Power, His Grace, His Wisdom and His Timing.  This relationship transforms every conversation with the Father as prayer.

  1. Approach with Fear: Holiness

Prayer is to approach God with reverence, fear and worship.  God is Holy that means he is without sin or evil or impurity or defile and any trace of unholy intention.  Those who come to his presence know their unworthiness; worship and exalt God for His Holiness; plead with repentance and then petition their requests.  Moses understood God as Holy.  (Exodus 3:1-15)  Isaiah saw the vision, where God is seen as Holy.  (Isaiah 6:1-6)  Peter falls at Lord Jesus feet and declares himself as sinner.  (Luke 5:8)  This moral and spiritual attribute of holiness of God is unknown in many religions.

  1. About Him, His Kingdom, His will

Prayer is God-centered and not human-centered.  Prayer is to acknowledge His Kingship and be grateful citizens of His Kingdom.  God as Sovereign ruler has his Will that has to be acknowledged and accepted.  Prayer helps a person to move from petty and personal fiefdom mentality to God’s Kingdom paradigm; selfish desires, aspirations, and will to God’s will.  Prayer is to know the responsibilities as a citizen has in the Kingdom of God, discerning God’s will in the world and actively execute it.

  1. Physical or worldly needs

Christian prayer is about pouring our hearts to God perplexed by the pressing needs in a puzzling world.  However, this comes after discerning Kingdom values and God’s will.  Physical, material, emotional, moral, intellectual and spiritual needs could be asked and received with gratefulness. God provides these according to his Will. Power and Riches and not human whims and fancies.   (Ephesians 5:20-21)

  1. Spiritual need of forgiveness

Christian prayer reminds a person that s/he is a forgiven sinner.  Forgiveness is God’s gracious offer and gift.  It cannot be demanded as birth right of humans. Lord Jesus Christ took the penalty of sin, i.e. death on himself and hence we could plead for forgiveness. God expects those who experience graciousness to be gracious and generous towards others.  Hence, forgiving others, even when they do not repent or request is higher form of Christian spirituality.

  1. Spiritual strength and protection

As long as humans live on this earth, there would be struggles against satanic forces, temptations and imperfection and immaturity of others.  There is a great need for strength to face the power of darkness and world.  Spiritual victory and protection is needed which only God almighty could provide.  Hence, prayers are expression of human weakness and vulnerability, pleading for His powerful protection.

  1. Transformation: Forgiving others

Prayer results in personal transformation.  The selfishness is replaced by other-mindedness.  Narrow-mindedness is replaced by broad-mindedness.  Condemning or judging attitude is replaced by redemptive attitude.  Hence, a person becomes God conscious that s/he is always grateful to God.  That grateful heart is expressed in gracious attitude towards others.  Thus, forgiving others becomes expression of Christian spiritual maturity.

Challenge

Prayer is a vital aspect of Christian spirituality.  It is a dynamic, living, and intimate relationship with God.  Prayer has no power apart from prayer answering God.  Prayer is not piety that earns merit for our salvation.  The rich meaningful, purposeful and delightful communication with God is real Christian prayer.

 

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Who is responsible for Jesus’death?

Jesus’ Death – who is responsible?

J.N. Manokaran

As Jesus hung on the cross, the world almost stood still.  Darkness filled the earth at noon, for the sun stopped shining.  The curtain of the temple was torn in two.  And then Jesus died.

Every Christian is familiar with this event, which occurred centuries ago.  But, who really was responsible for Jesus’ death?  Mel Gibson’s film: The Passion of The Christ has triggered a debate in United States and around in the global village.

This question may bring out various answers, depending on the person who gives the answer.  Some may point so Judas as any child would.  A political science student may pin point Pilate.  A rationalist may point to Jewish fundamentalists.  But the answer is not so simple.  Let us try to analyse each of these characters.

  1. Judas

He must have been the most honest person in the band of disciples.  Otherwise, he would not have become the treasurer.  It is long process for a wise steward to become a traitor and it could not have happened overnight.

When Mary anointed Jesus with perfume, Judas revealed his attitude towards money. (John 12:5)  He valued money more than Christ.  Usually, those who give less for God’s work criticize more about God’s work.  Generally, the problem is not lack of money, but our attitude towards money.  So, St. Paul warned against love for money.  Money is a faithful slave, but a cruel taskmaster.

Judas was a wise person who calculated and planned things.  He might have thought if Christ is caught, He can easily escape.  Ultimately, it is win-win situation where Jesus also escapes and he gains a hefty amount.

Satan seeks instruments for his purposes.  Judas was obsessed and disappointed as he estimated Jesus as a powerful Messiah, the king – a descendant of David, who would throw out the Roman government. Judas would have become the finance minister of the new free state of Israel. Satan offered the alternative or a short cut on a platter.  Judas became an instrument by consent.  He sold Christ for 30 pieces of silver, the price of a slave.

Jesus talked with him.  He brought his folly to his notice.  He even appealed to him in love.  The last supper shows how Christ wanted to win him back.  He showed him His perfect love.  But he was unmoved.  He was a manipulator and hypocrite.

But within a few hours, Judas hated the money he loved.  Wealth obtained by selling Christ will be a curse (Matt 27:3-10).  Judas shipwrecked his faith and future.  And those who gave the money did not take it back.  A potter’s field was purchased to bury strangers.

Judas regretted his blunder.  He confessed, but to the wrong persons.  He went to confess to those who lead him astray.  He should have returned to Christ, but sadly did not.  Even today there are many who repent and confess, but do not come to Christ.  They are sadly lost, like Judas.

We cannot serve two masters. We have to love one and hate the other.  Jer 6:13 declares that all are covetous.  And it includes each one of us.  The only antidote for this is to learn to give to the Lord.  It must become our habit.  We must store up in heaven.

  1. High Priest

Jesus was very popular with the masses.  His love, compassion, teachings, and miracles attracted many people towards Him.  This caused a sense of insecurity in the minds of Jewish leaders.  This insecurity and envy were revealed in their words and actions.

Caiphas was the high priest when Jesus was crucified.  Annas was the father-in-law of Caiaphas.  Pilate could sense that the high priest had accused Jesus out of envy. (Matthew 27:18)  Envy was the root cause for the other sins, which caused the violent death of Jesus.

The bazaar of Annas had a notorious history.  The priest officiating in the temple used to turn away all offerings brought from outside the bazaar of Annas.  And in that bazaar, a dove could have cost 20 times more than the market price.

Annas and Caiphas hated Jesus because Jesus cleansed the temple.  They were looking for an appropriate opportunity to take revenge.

Jesus used to condemn the hypocrisy of priests and Pharisees.  This truth pricked them.  They were losing their reputation among common people.  They also hardened their hearts.  They were bitter against Jesus.

Envy, insecurity, hatred, bitterness and an attitude for revenge made them conspire against Jesus.  They prepared Judas for that purpose.  And they gathered their cronies who would give false witness against Jesus.  They arrested Jesus in the night with the help of Judas.  The children of darkness perform their dark deeds in the cover of darkness.  And the high priests were no exception.  They arrested Jesus and interrogated him in the night.  The Sanhedrin never met at night. They broke the law and framed charges against Jesus.  In the Sanhedrin, the charges were religious: blasphemy and allegation about destroying the temple and building it again.

Since they did not have the authority to give capital punishment, they took Jesus to Pilate.  In John 18:28 we read an intriguing note.  The high priests did not want to go inside the judgment hall fearing defilement.  But they were ready to murder the Son of God with false charges.  Do we not see the same situation today?

Before Pilate, they changed the charges against Jesus.  All charges were political.  He was portrayed as a revolutionary (Luke 23:5), who forbade people from paying tax, and who claimed Himself as king.  They even declared Caesar as their king (John 19:12).  It was life according to convenience and not according to Scriptures.

Envy rots the bones (Proverbs 14:30) and is condemned by the apostles (Galatians 5:26 and James 3:16). Love dispels jealousy.  Christ still loved them and prayed for their forgiveness.

  1. Pilate

 

Pilate was the Roman governor at that time.  He was a shrewd and strict administrator.  This case exposed all his weak points.

He tried to avoid the responsibility given by God. Power and responsibility could either be used for His glory or abused.  It is the same with the talents, gifts and skills provided by God.  He asked the Jewish high priests to judge the high profile case by themselves.

Later, he sent Jesus to Herod.  He expected someone else to take decisions on his behalf.   Christendom is full of such personalities.  They need someone else to pray or to preach or go as missionaries.  Pilate opted for the easy means.

Secondly, he tried to compromise.  He had Jesus flogged, which was unlawful, to pacify the crying crowd.  But it did not please the unruly mob.  So he offered to release for them one of the prisoners.  He tried to do the right thing in a wrong way.  “End justifies the means” is the world’s philosophy.  Noah could have easily arranged a dinner party in the ark.  All would have flooded in.  He need not have preached at all.  Will the end justify the means? Never.

At last, he washed his hands, according to the Jewish custom (Deut 21).  He failed to do what was right and had power to do good but did not so he sinned against God (James 4:17). Pilate gradually lost control of the situation.  If he had taken his responsibility seriously and applied his mind, it could have been different.  He was behaving in an irresponsible manner.

We must not forget that he was not ignorant.  His conscience and insight declared that Jesus was innocent.  Also, as a senior administrator, he could see through the minds of the high priests.   He understood that Jesus was arrested out of envy.  He had a keen sense of justice.  Apart from that, his wife had warned him.

Now the question arises, why did he do so?  It could be because of fear.  They threatened that they shall complain to Caesar.  He feared losing his position, power, wealth, etc.  One who fears God, need not fear man.  God has not given us the spirit of fear.

He was aspiring for promotions.  That was his ambition.  Pilate was a selfish person.  He could allow justice to suffer for the sake of personal gain.  Also, he wanted to please all.  One who wants to please all, can please none.  Man must seek to please God alone.

He had no value for human life. If one more person was executed, will it make any difference?  For Pilate, it would not.

How must we decide in such circumstances?  Conscience, Scriptures and Holy Spirit can help us to decide such matters.  Any decision that violates the principles of Scripture is wrong.

  1. Mob

The law of Moses clearly warns about mob violence (Exo 23:2).  Group dynamics and mass hysteria operate in a mob.  Usually, damage is done before the truth is ascertained.  And clever persons manipulate such groups for their own benefits.

Man has been gifted with fremese will.  This will does not guarantee right choice nor does it give us freedom to make wrong choices.  It is like a driving license.  The license is to permit a person to drive lawfully and not for running over people.  Similarly, free will is provided to take lawful decisions and not to exploit fellow human beings.

William Barclay comments about the mob’s action clearly.  They chose lawlessness, instead of law.  One who takes the sword shall fall by the same.  Taking law into our won hands is a sin.

Secondly, he says that they chose war, hatred, violence and bitterness.  Instead of peace and love.  Barabbas symbolized evil and Christ symbolized holiness.  Men in darkness prefer darkness to light.

The reason for their choice could be ignorance and ungratefulness.  Ignorance,  because they could have been manipulated by the high priests.  Christ’s ministry must have blessed many including some of their relatives.  But they were ungrateful.  This mob brought down the curse on themselves and their children.

  1. Herod

Herod had heard about Jesus.  His guilty conscience thought that John the Baptist has come alive.

He expected Jesus to show some sign or miracle.  It was out of curiosity and not out of love for truth.  He had no intention of following Jesus.  He wanted it as sensation.  Even today, many attend healing crusades to enjoy miracles, not to follow Christ.

The gift is always inferior to the giver.  When Christ Himself was present, Herod sought a gift.  While Christ wants to dwell in our hearts, we expect only miracles from Him.

Herod hoped that Jesus would perform a miracle.  But Jesus was different.  This annoyed Herod.  It offended his inflated ego.  So he commanded his soldiers to beat and mock him.  He also joined them in mocking the Son of God.

Do we come to Jesus only for miracles?  Do we view Him as a magician and trouble shooter?  Or, do we regard Him as Lord and Saviour?

  1. The Official

This man slapped Jesus for no reason. (John 18:22)  He must have been expecting a favour from his boss.  It could have been a promotion or some materialist benefit.

I know one teacher who got a job in a Christian school as she professed Christianity as her religion.  When she needed a house on rent she understood that  the house owner was interested to give only to a non-Christian.  She then declared that she was not a Christian and got the house for rent.  She pretended to be a Christian for the job’s sake. Many slap Christ’s face with words, deeds, and thoughts.  Using Jesus just for materialistic benefit is sin.

Though he was not directly involved, he acted as a catalyst.  He rubbed salt to Jesus’ wounds.

Conclusion

 

Love for money, materialism, hypocrisy, envy, sense of insecurity, hatred, bitterness, falsehood, violence, avoiding responsibility, compromise, fear, wrong ambition, wrong motives, ungratefulness, pride, seeking signs for sensation, etc., are self evident in these characters.  As we stand before the mirror of the Scriptures, do we not see ourselves? Yes, you and I are responsible for the death of Jesus.  God’s wrath was upon Him because of us.  Must we not repent?  Let us repent. Today is the day of salvation.

 

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Lessons learnt from the First Palm Sunday

Lessons learnt from the First Palm Sunday

  1. N. Manokaran

Palm Sunday is celebrated the Sunday before Easter, marking the Triumphal Entry of the Lord Jesus Christ into Jerusalem. It has been recorded in the gospels of Matthew (Chapter 21), Mark (11), Luke (19) and John (12). It was a panoramic sight, Jesus riding on the donkey; children shouting ‘Hosanna, in the highest’; people spreading their cloaks; cutting branches and waving the palm leaves. It was a popular celebration among the disciples and common people while the religious leaders were upset, envious and even complained to the Lord Jesus Christ.

  1. Lord Jesus uses the Meek: It is interesting to note that the Lord Jesus chose a donkey as his vehicle for a triumphal procession. The meek and humble animal was chosen by our Lord instead of highly rated horse that was the vehicle of kings and nobles. It is a myth that God uses only those who are extroverted, highly talented, educated, skilled, trained, equipped, and capable people. God can use anyone who is available. In His paradigm, ones availability ranks higher than the ability. The mule was readily available.
  2. Lord Jesus as our Model: The Lord Jesus Christ is our model. The world worships pomp and show, while the Lord chose a humble procession. It was not planned as a mega show with media persons clamouring for bytes. Humility was one of the greatest virtues of the Lord Jesus Christ. Even when he had opportunities to choose a better place for his birth, he chose an unhygienic setting for the Incarnation episode. He always chose the level where the least, the marginalized, the ostracised, and the poor could be comfortable with Him.
  3. Lord Jesus teaches a Moral: The Palm Sunday cannot be disconnected from the cleansing of the temple. The Temple in Jerusalem looked like a Bazaar (historically dubbed as Anania Bazaar, named after the corrupt Chief Priest) where the noise of animals, the money being changed (temple tax coin were to be purchased with other currencies brought by Jewish Diaspora), the vendors shouting and advertising their products, wooing potential customers. And the poor worshippers—appalled as they were—tried to strike the best bargain for buying worship materials including a sacrificial animal or a bird. Instead of praises in the temple there was a lot of noise; while the streets were filled with praises instead of noise. What an irony? Jesus cleansed the temple and restored the worship with quietness and a calm atmosphere. Immediately the blind and lame came to be healed and were healed (Matthew 21:14). The Lord Jesus was indigent towards those who commercialized worship but blessed those who came to worship. A place of worship cannot become a ‘den of thieves’. Our body is the ‘temple of Holy Spirit’ it cannot become den of thieves with commercial and distracting interests.
  4. Lord Jesus reveals a Mystery: The Pharisees and Sadducees as usual were not happy with the praises and worship the Lord Jesus received from the people. They wanted silence, not praises. (They could tolerate noises in the temple- that became a bazaar but not praises in the streets). The Lord Jesus simply said that the ‘stones’ would cry out if the worshipers keep silence. (Luke 19:40) He was talking about the present Information Era. In fact, ‘micro-chips’ would cry out, if people quit praising and worshiping Him.
  5. Lord Jesus was not swayed by the Masses: The Lord Jesus was not swayed by the praises and the mass hysteria. He was living with purpose, fulfilling the Will of God. He at least did three important things. First, he cleansed the temple. He restored the worship in the proper place. Second, he healed the blind and the lame who came to him after the cleansing (Matthew 21:14). Third, he wept for Jerusalem. (Luke 19:41) The city failed to discern and accept the Messiah.

Challenge

The Palm Sunday reminds us that God can use us if we are ‘available’. It also challenges us to be meek and humble as modelled by the Lord Jesus Christ. Our priorities should be right. Worshipping the Lord is paramount in our lives. We are not only called to be disciples, but to be true worshippers. Let not the noises of the world marginalize our life of praises as we are the Temple of the Holy Spirit. Technologies, including micro-chips are for glorifying God. Christians should redeem technology and science for the purpose of glorifying the Creator. The Lord Jesus was focused on God’s purpose and was not swayed by the people around Him. He was not a “men pleaser” nor played for the gallery, nor was he directed by his critics. May God help us to lead focused lives? Let us join the procession shouting ‘Hosanna in the Highest’. Amen.

 

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Are you seeking Great things for yourself?

Are you seeking Great things for yourself? J.N. Manokaran “And do you seek great things for yourself? Seek them not, for behold, I am bringing disaster upon all flesh, declares the Lord. But I will give you your life as a prize of war … Continue reading

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Worldview of Money and Wealth

Worldview of Money and Wealth

J.N. Manokaran

I           Introduction

For some money is ‘good’ and some miss one ‘o’ and is ‘god’; for some money is equal to god but not god yet.  There are many who see money as evil or devil or equal to devil.  But, all said and done, money is enigma for most of humanity. However, Lord Jesus Christ was clear in his teaching: “You cannot serve God and money.” (Matthew6.24)                                                                                        

II         What is money and wealth?

Money and wealth are considered as a security ring by many.  Having enough money now and surplus in deposits will provide secure future.  In case of emergency, like sickness, this kind of savings would help.  (Some may have medical insurance).  Or a business loss could be offset if there is enough money to bear the loss.

Wealth is money in different forms: shares or assets or real estate or gold.  The values for these are expected to go up, so when converted to cash, the money is larger than the amount invested.  In a way, surplus money is channeled into creating wealth.  Some time, people try to create future wealth by savings and investing.

Few have surplus money to invest.  Others like to use all the money for themselves.  That is utilizing all beyond their need, which could be termed as multiplying the comfort and taken to extreme level termed as luxury.  Wise people save for future while foolish people spend all and face insecure and unknown future.

III        Paradox of money

The paradox of money and wealth is difficult to fathom.  Here are some of the ideas about money and wealth.

  • In Vs. out

Human beings do not bring anything – material thing into the world.  So, they do not bring money or wealth with them when they are born.  Similarly, they cannot take anything with them.  Naked you come into the world and naked you go away from the world.  Job declares that he came naked from mother’s womb and would return naked i.e. without any wealth from the earth.  (Job 1:21)  That means the money and wealth could be used only while living on earth.

  • Temporal Vs. Eternal

Is money temporal?  Money or currency in one country may not be valid in another country.  In that situation, how it could be valid in eternal sense?  Both Job 1:21 and Ecclesiastes 5:15 expound the principle that material things belong only to this world.  These things do not have lasting value so irrelevant in the eternal perspective.  So, contentment cannot spring from the material things.

Money could be used in such a way that the rewards are eternal.  Using the wealth in such a way, that makes difference in the lives of people.  Earn with temporal things the eternal rewards.  This is not reward points offered by airlines or retail chains.  May be money given to print a tract, and through that tract one person comes to the Lord.  That means the money has earned eternal rewards.  This is the meaning of storing treasure in heaven.  (Luke 12:34)

3.3      Save and spend

Money should be saved or spent?  Some economies are based on savings.  The saved money is invested to create wealth or business.  But in some economies, people spend their future income.  That means they borrow and spend the money and pay back later.  Which economy is healthy is matter of debate and speculation.

Ant is shown as an example in Proverbs that saves for winter in summer. “Go to the ant, O sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise. Without having any chief, officer, or ruler, she prepares her bread in summer.”  (Proverbs 6:6-8)   It is wise to save or invest for future.

  • Creating wealth Vs. Creating consumerism

The Parable of Talents  (Matthew 25:14-30) teaches about creating wealth. The five talented person was expected to earn and he earned five more talents; so did the person with two talents.  That means they invested and created wealth.  Another extreme was the one talented man did not use it up or invest but buried it.  It did not do well either for him or others.

Another option was to eat up the one talent – use it for selfish purposes.  In a way that is the methodology of mindless consumerism.  God expectation is that the talents are to be invested and multiplied.

  • Earn or extort

Earning profit is not sin.  The parable of talents is a good example of Lord Jesus teachings that attests the business of profit making.  The profit should be reasonable, sustainable to continue to the business but not extorting the people for luxurious living.  Extortion by unlawful means like corruption and bribery is also sin.

  • Content or discontent

Money inherently is not evil, but the attitude towards money.  The Christian goal is a genuine relationship with God, our source of contentment, and a healthy detachment from material things.  This gives a bonus of Great Gain. (1 Timothy 6:6)  Contentment is true spirituality and is obtained when a person is not all attracted by money or covetousness or greed.  In fact, such person is grateful always to God and does not murmur or grumble.

  • Need or greed

There is a vast difference between need and greed.  God has promised to meet our needs and not greed.  Greed is insatiable desire to have more.  It drove Judas one of the disciples of Lord Jesus to sell Lord Jesus for thirty pieces of silver.  He loved the illegitimate, murderous and easy money and betrayed the Lord.  Then he hates the very same money and throws it in the temple (Matt 27:3).  The wealth earned by greed could become bitterness to the soul.

  • Legitimate and illegitimate

Wealth earned should be legitimate, according to the law of the country.  Using corrupt means, to usurp other’s wealth or inheritance is prohibited.  King Ahab used unlawful means to obtain the vineyard from Naboth (I Kings 21).  In the Parable of Talents the Master commended and rewarded the five talented and two talented servants as they multiplied wealth by legitimate means.  (Matthew 25:14-30)

  • Wealth Vs. Worth

There are some people who believe a worth of a person is determined by the wealth he or she possesses.  Life does not consist of abundance of riches.  (Luke 12: 15)

IV        Attitude towards Poverty

Lord Jesus Christ said that the poor will always be among you.  (John 12:8)  Poverty will be part and parcel of the Fallen humanity and imperfect world.  The systems and structures are taken advantage of by smart and intelligent people and it is also manipulated by the criminal minded, vile and wicked people to amass wealth.  Hence, the riches mostly is lopsided which deprives a chunk of population.  Poverty is created by human selfishness.

God has allowed poverty in the world to test the non-poor.  Their compassion, concern, generosity and mercy is hard tested by the presence of poverty in the society.  Instead of asking why God is allowing poor to suffer, we have to think how I can help poor to come out of their poverty.  It is also test of disciples whether they demonstrate brotherly love to other fellow believers.  (II Peter 1:7)

V         Attitude of rich towards poor: Three aspects

There was no attitude of caring, sharing and providing dignity to others.  The Parable of Richman and Lazarus brings out the attitude towards the poor.  (Luke 16: 19-31)

  • Arrogance:

The pavement dwellers from the rich man’s balcony were clearly visible.  This beggar was annoyance.  Even today, the rich want the slums to be out of sight, poor to be invisible in the city.  In an honour and shame culture, India has to be displayed as city with malls, skyscrapers, space power, nuclear power and quest for water from moon.  For these, getting pizza in fifteen minutes is progress.  Police or ambulance arriving few hours later in rural areas is not newsworthy and such news should be banned from media.  The media that gives such news is irresponsible and is tarnishing the image of the country, hence anti-natiional.

  • Overfed

This man was overfed and was not willing to share.  However, this man wanted to dictate the other person eats.  The menu would be dictated by this man.  Eggs were withdrawn from mid-day meals provided in the schools in one State of India.  Only 25 percent are vegetarians.  Most of these vegetarians do not send their children to schools where mid-day meals is served.  However, they want to dictate what others eat.

  • Unconcerned

The rich man was unconcerned, did not have sympathy or mercy on that beggar named Lazarus.  It was easy, simple and possible for the rich man to provide one good meal for the beggar.  It would have hardly made any difference in this home budget.  Graciousness and generosity is not a natural human virtue.  This rich man thought he was fortunate, lucky and even divinely blessed that he need not be concerned about less fortunate, marginalized and deprived.  He did not understand, God has placed this man right there to test his character.  The rich man failed miserably in the character evaluation.  A wise poor man saves a city from peril.  However, his contribution is not recognized or rewarded or remembered.  (Ecclesiastes 9:15)  This is the general attitude of people towards poor.

VI        Attitude towards Possession

The attitude of the Rich Young Man towards possession kept him away from following Lord Jesus Christ.  (Matthew 19: 16-30 and Mark 10:17-27)

  • Victim of discontent

This man who came to Jesus was a rich man.  He had more than enough.  It is said that Socrates once exclaimed, looking at the sea port’s vast merchandise: “How many things are here that I do not need at all.”  Today’s malls also pile up a variety of things, which may not be even be used once in a lifetime.  Wealth is good but not good enough for a meaningful life.

  • Deceitfulness

Riches have an inherent quality of deceitfulness to numb a person from spiritual things.  The Word of God, which is like a seed, cannot fully grow when the deceitfulness of riches chokes it. (Matthew 13:22) Riches also can make a person arrogant, overfed and unconcerned. (Ezekiel 16:49) as were the citizens of Sodom.  When Lord Jesus Christ said that we have to choose between God and money (mammon), it is obvious Satan has personified himself as money and wealth.  No human being would deliberately choose Satan.  Hence deceiver Satan has made money as idol to trap innocent people.

  • Consumerism

Riches lead to consumerism and materialism.  There is a futile attempt by people to substitute all aspects of life by material things.  Instead of love for children, parents offer gadgets.  Instead of time for children, parents offer tour to Singapore, Thailand and Hong Kong.  In the same vein, they try to offer God huge sums of money in lieu of worship, love and obedience.

  • Mind-set of commercialization

Riches give the mind-set of commercialization.  With market forces dominating the thinking of our post-modern world, time, service, water and other things become commodity for trade.  If riches have so much power in the world, then why not forgiveness and even citizenship in heaven purchased?

  • Root cause of all evil

Money is not the root of all evil, but love of money is the root cause of all evil in the world. (I Timothy 6:10) Young people in the cities have so many opportunities to earn money, and yet that has led them into all kinds of evil habits such as drug abuse, sex abuse, alcoholism, and hedonism.  Young people working in BPOs and children of rich studying in educational institutions are trapped in a variety of sins.

  • Possessed by possession

An eagle had a big fish clutched in its claws.  It was quite a good meal for the eagle.  It has got a prime catch which all eagles cherish.  As the eagle began to fly up the weight of the fish was little heavy.  As it tried to fly higher it became too heavy.  It tried to shake off the fish from its claws, but could not as the claws have dug deep.  In the struggle, the eagle was pulled down into the water and it died by drowning.  This is same as for the rich people who love to become richer and richer.  Like the eagle they are possessed by the possession.  There is no relief or release, it leads to ultimate death.

VII      Mirage of money

As a deer becomes thirsty, searches for water.  It can see water little further away and run towards it.  However, deer runs but the water body seems to be out of reach.  This optical illusion phenomenon is known as mirage.  The deer is chasing a mirage to quench the thirst.  If it pursues little more vigorously it would die.  It is same with money, wealth and assets.  In the world, people pursue possessions to quench their inner quest.  Even if they inherit possessions, their quest for truth, life and purpose is not quenched.  Many people perish in this pursuit.  Lord Jesus Christ is the Truth, Reality, Absolute, when we have Him, we have all we need in this world and in eternity.

Today, there are many young people are pursuing dreams of easy money, unlimited entertainment and riches for generation.  Like deer pursuing a mirage, they run and run and at the end perish without hope.  They could think themselves as smart in the world, however, they do not understand the Word of Christ:  “For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? For what can a man give in return for his soul?” (Mark 9:36,37)

VIII     Challenge

Money or assets or wealth are neutral things in the world.  They could be used for the glory of God.  If not, these possessions could become our only focus in the world.  That results in the slavery to the riches.  That means life without purpose or meaning.  As disciples of Lord Jesus Christ, our attitude towards money, possession, assets and wealth should be according to biblical principles.  We ought to be stewards of riches rather than be slave of riches.

 

 

 

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Fasting an essential spiritual discipline

Fasting an essential spiritual discipline

J.N. Manokaran

Fasting can be termed as abstaining from food, drink, sleep or sex to focus on a period of spiritual growth.  In the modern times, fasting from FaceBook or Social Media is also considered as spiritual discipline.

In other religions also similar fast is done.  It is called as ritual fast and some are called as ‘tapsya’ a kind of penance to gain supernatural power.  This supernatural power can be used for taking revenge, destroy others and can have wicked intentions.  Power without purpose and meaning can be destructive.  Some religions use fasting as a way to immerse with the eternal being.  By not taking any food or water, some die which they term as ‘samadhi’.

Fasting can be used as tool to fight oppression in democracy.  However, Christian fasting is not for that.  It cannot be used as emotional black mail against God.

Biblical examples of fasting

  1. To Repent

People of Nineveh repented when Jonah preached against the city. (Jonah 3: 6-9)  Though Jonah did not expect people of Nineveh to repent.  Ezra prayed, fasted and mourned for the sin of Israel.  (Ezra 10: 6-17) Saul went to persecute the church of God.  On his way, Lord Jesus Christ confronted him.  He repented and fasted and prayed. (Acts 9:1-9) Lord spoke to the Nation of Israel to fast, pray and return to the Lord through Prophet Joel.  (Joel 2:12)

  1. To show grief

Nehemiah when received the bad report about Jerusalem, he fasted and prayed.  He was grieved for the city of Jerusalem. (Nehemiah 1:1-4)  It was burden and concern for the people of God and their misery.  This kind of burden should grip us when we see sin and blunders in the church and disobedience of Christians not involved in the Great Commission task.

  1. To seek God’s wisdom

The elders of the church in the city of Antioch fasted and prayed.  (Acts 13: 1-3)  They leaders wanted to know God’s plan, purpose and future strategy of the local church.  God revealed that to the small group of leaders.  Paul and Barnabas sought the wisdom of God to appoint elders in the churches they planted. (Acts 14:23) They needed discernment to choose right kind of leaders.

  1. To prepare for ministry

Lord Jesus Christ fasted and prayed before he began the ministry. (Matthew 4:1-2)  When people begin their ministry in response to God’s call, it is essential to fast and pray to get guidance, wisdom, courage and resources.

  1. To seek deliverance and victory

The People of Israel fasted and prayed for deliverance.  (Judges 20:26)  When Satan and his cronies try to conspire against us, we need deliverance and victory.  Esther fasted and prayed for the protection and deliverance of Israel from the hands of conspirator Haman, who wanted ethnically destroy the nation of Israel.  (Esther 4: 15-17)

  1. To worship God

Anna fasted and worshiped God in the Temple of Jerusalem. (Luke 2:37)  Anna though an old woman was following strict discipline of fasting and worshipped the Lord.

  1. To express need

Hannah prayed and did not eat as she was depressed.  (I Samuel 1:7) Hannah received her desire and God blessed her with Samuel.   David prayed for the healing and deliverance from death for his son. (II Samuel 12:1-23) However, God rejected his prayer.  David accepted that and immediately resumed his normal duties when his son died as punishment for his sin of adultery.

  1. To Intercede

Daniel interceded for the children of Israel.  (Daniel 9:3)  By reading the prophecy of Jeremiah, Daniel understood that the Babylonian captivity will last for 70 years.  So, he fasted and prayed for delivering the nation of Israel from the slavery of Babylon. Intercession is a privilege for Christians.  They should pray for others.  Most religions teach people to pray for themselves and their family.  Christian prayer embraces the whole world.

  1. To receive the Law

Moses fasted for forty days and nights to receive the Law. (Deuteronomy 9: 9-18)  Moses had to prepare himself in humility to receive the sacred Law and covenant.

  1. For spiritual discipline

Pharisees fasted two days a week as a spiritual discipline.  (Luke 18:12)  This was their regular practice.  There is church tradition like Lent, when people fast for 40 days before Easter.  Seasons of fasting prayer is essential to take stock of our spiritual life and progress.

Wicked fast

Ahab wanted to have the vineyard of Naboth but he was not willing to sell.  His wife Jezebel the queen instigates the local leaders to proclaim a fast and bring false accusation that Naboth has cursed the Lord and king and stone him to death. (I Kings 21:9-10)  Later Ahab takes possession of Naboth’s vineyard.

Unwarranted fast

There are people who like to show the world they fast. King Saul was rejected as King, Prophet Samuel was not in favour with him.  Hence, Saul wanted to keep the people on his side.  To show people that he was pious and religious, he declared a fast during war, until he avenged his enemies. (I Samuel 14:24)  Can an army fast and indulge in war.

Fasting a lifestyle

Prophet Isaiah writes about true fasting.  It is not just a ritual or ceremonial discipline, it is true lifestyle of a person who worships the righteous God.  ‘Why have we fasted, and you see it not?   Why have we humbled ourselves, and you take no knowledge of it?’ Behold, in the day of your fast you seek your own pleasure,  and oppress all your workers. Behold, you fast only to quarrel and to fight and to hit with a wicked fist. Fasting like yours this day will not make your voice to be heard on high.Is such the fast that I choose, a day for a person to humble himself? Is it to bow down his head like a reed, and to spread sackcloth and ashes under him? Will you call this a fast, and a day acceptable to the Lord?

“Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the straps of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover him, and not to hide yourself from your own flesh? Then shall your light break forth like the dawn,     and your healing shall spring up speedily; your righteousness shall go before you;  the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard. (Isaiah 58: 3-8)

 

  1. Humility

Fasting means to be humble before God.  We come to his presence with humility knowing that we are just human and He is Sovereign Lord.  Humility is a virtue Lord wants to reward.  As water flows towards the lower ground, God’s grace flows towards those who are humble.  Humility is created in our minds and hearts when we see the awesome majesty of God.

  1. Not take personal pleasure

Coming to the Lord with fasting is not for personal pleasure, but give glory and honour to God.  It is an act of sacred worship and consecration. It is not a fun or entertainment gathering.

  1. Do not quarrel and fight

The children of Israel quarreled and fought.  It was not a pious, religious, spiritual, and sacred assembly but gathering in which conflicts, divisions ruptured.    There was nothing spiritual there only carnal emotions.

  1. Do not involve in violence

The Israelites used their fist to attack others. Their language for settling scores was violence.  This wicked deed could have been against poor, marginalized and workers.  Instead of treating with dignity the powerless, helpless and hopeless, they used violence to suppress them.

  1. Loosens the chains of injustice

God expected them to have fast which means to loosen the chains of injustice.  They have to be pursuing righteousness.  They should expel injustice from their mindset, attitude, relationships, systems and structures of the society.

  1. Unties the chord of yoke

The children of Israel could have put people under yoke instead of untying them.  Giving loans on exorbitant interest and other yoke.  Bonded labour, child labour and other forms of yoke are tied upon innocent and poor people.  Releasing such victims should be the goal and purpose of a fast.

  1. Freedom to the oppressed

The oppressed are under constant pressure.  Children of Israel oppressed others as they were oppressed by taskmasters in Egypt.  They were holding fellow Israelites as slaves, they ought to free them.

  1. Food for the hungry

Fasting means to give food for the hungry.  The food they have not taken due to fasting ritual should be distributed to the hungry, poor and needy.  Finding ways and means to feed the poor is essential outcome of fast.

  1. Provision for the poor

God expected them to be generous and give to the poor.  “One gives freely, yet grows all the richer; another withholds what he should give, and only suffers want.” (Proverbs 11:24) Fasting should teach us to be grateful to God, generous towards others.

  1. Clothe for the naked

God expected the Israelites to provide for those who are naked.  Clothing them is giving them dignity and security. There would be always less privileged people around us who own less than what we own.  Considering them and providing for them is a Christian virtue.

How to fast?

“And when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. 17 But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, 18 that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.” (Matthew 6: 16-18)

  1. Not gloomy

Those who fast should not go around with long face.  They should not reveal to others about their fast.  It is sad that there are people who advertise their fasting time table, which is not necessary.  Instead, the person who fasts should be normal in appearance and attitude.

  1. People as audience?

Fasting is not for the people.  It is not performance or entertainment show.  It is a sacred duty to be done in the presence of God and not human beings. That means, our fasting should be seen only by God and not human beings.

  1. God is secret

God is invisible and children of God should approach him in secret. The prayer conversation during fasting has to be secret and not a public discourse.  Even what we whisper in darkest night in a lonely place is heard by God.  He even understands our groaning and responds to the same.

  1. Reward in open

God hears the secret conversations and rewards or answers in open.  People will never know that we have prayed but see the glorious results of answered prayers.

Results of fasting

There are four results of fasting according to Isaiah.

  1. Light will go forth

There will be breakthrough in our lives. Light will shine in darkness.  The end of tunnel will be there in our journey.

  1. Healing

God will heal us.  It is not just physical healing, but emotional and spiritual healing.

  1. Jehovah will be rear guard

A small child in his enthusiasm tries to lift all the stuff from the portico and walk back home.  His father walks just behind the son.  Each article or toy that is dropped is delightfully picked up by the father.  This is the picture of my life.    “Then shall your light break forth like the dawn, and your healing shall spring up speedily; your righteousness shall go before you; the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard.”  (Isaiah 58:8)  He is my rear guard and picks what I fail or drop and makes it perfect.

  1. Answer to prayers

The Lord will be Immanuel:  God with us.  He will be encircle us with His presence.

Challenge

Fasting is not a tool to exploit God, or intimidate enemies and impact others.  Fasting is a discipline and life style that will make us more humble, dependent on God, seek his favour and receive marvelous blessings.  Receiving blessings is to give comfort, consolation, encouragement, inspiration, guidance and blessings to others.  Fasting is not a selfish act but a sacrificial act for His Glory and Kingdom.

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