|Posted by Shalem India Pentecostal Church, New Jersey on January 8, 2012 at 12:50 AM||comments (2)|
Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead…
• As we know the background of this epistle, Paul was in Roman prison.
• While being there he was writing to the Philippians.
• The central theme of the epistle is to rejoice.
• So he started this chapter by saying, “Finally, my brothers, rejoice in the Lord!” (3:1)
• We know that it is impossible for us to rejoice in difficult circumstances.
• It is because we are under our circumstances.
• What Paul says here is that we can rejoice in the Lord, because He is above circumstances.
• Only a person who can find joy in the Lord can forget what is behind and press toward what is ahead as we read in our text.
• We have come to the end of a year and entering another year.
• As God’s people we must do two things now: (1) Forget the past and (2) Look forward to what is ahead.
1. Forget the past
• We should not allow ourselves to rest in our past works whether failure or success.
• Many people are trying to live in the past experiences.
• Paul had a celebrated past.
• He was circumcised when he was eight days old.
• He was a pure-blooded citizen of Israel and a member of the tribe of Benjamin—a real Hebrew if there ever was one!
• He was a member of the Pharisees, who demand the strictest obedience to the Jewish law.
• He was exceedingly zealous for his convictions.
• As far as righteousness by the law, he was blameless.
• He further said, “I once thought these things were valuable, but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done.” (3:7)
• A lot of people make the mistake of trying to live in the past.
• There are a lot of bad experiences as well as good experiences in the past.
• There are people who are constantly going back and going over those bad experiences.
• And they are not really going ahead in life at all, because they are so involved in the past.
• Such people can't go ahead because they are looking backward.
• Living in the past, there is always that danger of discouragement, which shuts off initiative for the future.
• They always go back to the past, and they pick up the failures of the past, and they are discouraged to try anything new in the future.
• Looking back to the past, oftentimes, we look at our failures and we are discouraged from trying to go on.
• "Hey, I tried it before. I tried it for so long. It just doesn't work. I just can't do it. If I could, I would have done it a long time ago," and looking back I am discouraged of trying to go ahead.
• On the other hand, there are people who looks back and glories in their victories of the past.
• Such people are always looking at their past and doing nothing now or they do not have any motivation to do anything now.
• “You know what an experience I had when I met with the Lord. I was dancing all around when I received the Holy Spirit.”
• You know how many thousands of gospel literature I distributed. All through the street I was testifying and preaching.
• They are living in the past, the past glories.
• Have ever watched in Television what these retired baseball and football players do.
• They just hang around the bars drinking lite beer, talking about the past.
• It is sad when a person is resting in the past, not pressing ahead.
• Of course, there is a certain value in looking back.
• If the past experiences have not been transformed into the present, they are not valid.
• One is to see what God has done.
• Knowing what God has done in the past through His mighty power, gives me confidence to know that He is the same, and He is able to deliver today.
• The second value in looking back is to show me how far I have slipped away from Him.
• To the church of Ephesus Jesus said, "I have this against you in that you have left your first love. Remember from whence you have fallen, and repent."
• Many people had a past experience like Paul's where they met Christ and for the joy gave up the past life, to enter into the new life in Him.
• In the meantime, trying to live on that past experience they have picked up some of the old ways and habits by which they were once bound.
• We are not interested in what God did in their life twenty five years ago, but we are interested in what He is doing in their life today.
• The past has been glorious, it has been exciting to see what God has done, but you know, I am more excited about what God is going to do.
• That’s why Paul is exhorting us to push ourselves ahead.
2. Push ourselves ahead.
• It simply means, we must look forward what God has in store for us in this New Year.
• We haven't seen anything yet.
• The best is yet to come.
• What God has done in the past is very important, but let's look forward to what God wants to do.
• We haven't yet scratched the surface of the work that needs to be done in the hearts and lives of the people in this Edison area, in New Jersey, across the United States, even in other parts of the world.
• We have only begun to see the work of God; we have only begun to see the glory of God poured out.
• Let's not just sit back and rest, let's press forward to what God has for us in the future.
• As William Carey said, let’s “Expect Great Things from God, Attempt Great Things for God.” In this New Year.
• What Paul says here is, “I press toward the goal.”
• I press or pursue – the Greek word is agonizo.
• It is agonizing when we run toward the goal - you have got to go till it hurts, and you have to work yourself through the pain.
• You run until you ache and you think you can't go anymore, but you keep going.
• What is the goal? To receive the prize of the high calling of God.
• What is this prize that you and I are going to receive?
• I want the prize.
• The prize is the approval of Jesus, my Lord.
• I long to hear the words, "Well done, My good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of Thy Lord."
• We will share with Him the eternal glories of His Kingdom.
• Our God has a glorious plan and a purpose for your future.
• He has a plan for your life now.
• What God has done in the past is nothing compared with what He wants to do in our life today, and in the future.
• He wants us to have the Excellency of the knowledge of Jesus Christ.
• Our responsibility is to press on toward the goal of receiving the prize of the high calling of God.
• Anything I do for myself is a waste of time and effort and thereby I am prevention the plan of God in my life.
• So what do I do? I forget those things which are behind and pressing toward the goal.
• Let this be the same rule for our life and let this be our thoughts!
• Let’s run our race desiring more and more of Jesus in this New Year!
|Posted by Shalem India Pentecostal Church, New Jersey on November 26, 2009 at 5:04 PM||comments (0)|
Today we are celebrating the Thanksgiving Day in America. Thanksgiving Day is a harvest festival. Traditionally, it is a time to give thanks to God for the harvest and express gratitude in general. It is a holiday celebrated primarily in Canada and the United States. Though the earliest attested Thanksgiving celebration was on September 8, traditional "first Thanksgiving" is venerated as having occurred at the site of Plymouth Plantation, in 1621. The Plymouth celebration occurred early in the history in one of the original thirteen colonies that became the United States, and this celebration became an important part of the American myth by the 1800s. Today, Thanksgiving is celebrated on the second Monday of October in Canada and on the fourth Thursday of November in the United States. Thanksgiving dinner is held on this day, usually as a gathering of family members and friends.
While I was going through the Psalms in the Bible I found out that Psalm 100 is the only one titled "of thanksgiving.” Psalms are the prayers of the people of God. Psalms of Thanksgiving are expressions of thanks often with reference to celebration with friends or the assembly. The different psalms of Thanksgiving have different connotations and meaning. It was sung by worshipers in the temple as they entered into the gates and went into the temple for the service of thanksgiving. The Psalmist not only invites us to give thanks, but also encourages us to give thanks to God.
Basis of our Thanksgiving
V.3 says, “Know that the Lord is God.”Our knowledge of God is the basis of our thanksgiving. How we worship God and give thanks to Him depends on what we know of Him. We don’t worship an unknown God like the Athenians. So knowledge and understanding play an important part in our worship and thanksgiving. In this Psalm we see how important is our knowledge of God’s goodness which is the basis of our thanksgiving.
Four things about God’s goodness:
1. The Lord is God…
2. The Lord is good…
3. His love endures forever…
4. His faithfulness continues through all generations.
His goodness is demonstrated to us in three Relationships:
God’s goodness is demonstrated to us – Who God is to us.
1. He made us – It is he who made us – He is the creator. What a tragedy to see the self-made man today.
2. We belong to Him – we are his; we are his people – he is the owner
3. The sheep of his pasture – He is our shepherd.
We should never forget the fact that we are living in God's earth. We are breathing God's air. We are drinking God's water. We are eating God's food. We are burning God's oil. We are heating our home with God's gas. We are eating God's cattle, God's fish. "The earth is the Lord's and everything it belongs to him” (Ps. 24:1). We are actually just grazing in His field. Everything that we have, everything that we see, everything that we're surrounded with belongs to God. So v. 4 says, “Let’s enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name.” In the Old Testament time, people of Israel were allowed to enter only the gates and the outer courts. Only the priests were allowed to enter the holy of holies. Now we as God’s people can come to the presence of God to see his face and worship him without the need of any mediator. That’s the greatest goodness and mercy of God that he has accomplished for us through His Son, Jesus on the Cross of Calvary. So along with the Psalmist, “Let’s shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth. Worship the Lord with gladness; come before him with joyful songs.”Now if we can't worship the Lord with gladness, it's better that we not worship Him. Now if we can't serve the Lord with gladness, it's better that we not serve Him. If we can't give joyfully to the Lord, we're much better off not to give. No one is to be pressured or forced to worship him or serve him. God doesn't want our giving ever to be out of pressure, out of constraint, out of someone pushing us.
So let all people give thanks and praises to God for his protection and provision on our land today. Let’s thank for His goodness, His love, His mercy, and for His truth. May God just cause our day to be filled with thanksgiving and praise unto Him! We should also not confine our thanksgiving to a get together once a year, but every day must be a day of thanksgiving for us as God’s people!
|Posted by Shalem IPC, NJ. on February 16, 2009 at 9:18 AM||comments (3)|
Usually we honor those who do some favour to us. We like to honor those who honor us. For example, the Kings in olden days honored people who helped their kingdom or protected their lives. If an employee has worked in a company for many years and has been loyal to the company, usually the company honors such a person at the time of his or her retirement. Likewise our God honors those who honor Him when we live here on the earth. We must bring glory and honor to Him because He is our creator and sustainer. We must honor Him as holy before the people. We see a beautiful story of how God honors those who honor Him in the book of Esther chapter 6: 1-14.
Background: The passage talks about how the King Xerxes honored Mordecai, the King?s gate keeper. Mordecai was a Jew of the tribe of Benjamin. He brought up his cousin named Hadassah, who was also known as Esther and now she became the queen. The incident of honoring Mordecai happened five years after the elevation of Esther as the queen. In the background we see Haman?s plot to destroy the entire Jews in the Kingdom (Esther 3:8, 9). This happened because Mordecai was not willing to bow down before Haman. It may be because Haman was probably an Amalekite and Jews were in enmity with them for generations, which was also the command of God to the Israelites (Exodus 17: 14-16)). So it was not an act of disobedience to the King?s command on the part of Mordecai when he did not kneel down before Haman, but obedience to the King of Kings, the God of Israel who commanded them to blot out the memory of Amalek from under heaven (Deuteronomy. 25:17-19). As a result, we see Haman?s conspiracy to hang Mordecai (Esther 5:14). In the light of all these events, things were not going well with Mordecai and the Jews. But there is a biblical principle: God works out everything for the good of His people? (Romans 8:28). If God opens a door for His people, no one can shut it. God intervenes at the right time because He is a well-timed helper. Here God works for the good of Mordecai. From this story let?s see how God honors His people?
1. God honors His people at the unexpected time (v.1): ?That night the king could not sleep.? God worked for Mordecai at ?that night.? I don?t know whether ?night? has some importance in the lives of God?s people, but I see something special about it from different examples in the Bible. I see God sometimes works at night for His people when everybody sleeps! For example, we read in Genesis 41:1-5 that God worked in the night when He wanted to save Joseph from the prison. We see in Daniel 2 that God worked in the night when he wanted to lift up Daniel in Babylon. We read in Acts 12 how God worked in the night when He wanted to save Peter from imprisonment. Look at Matthew 14 and see Jesus worked in the fourth watch of the night to save his disciples from the storm. Believe me friends, there is going to be a night in your life too that the Lord will work for your needs. Psalm121:4 says, ?Indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.? In our passage, God worked for His servant Mordecai who stood for him and honored him in that heathen land. God will always work for our good if we truly love him and honor him. And He works in a surprising way!
2. God honors His people by working in the hearts of others (vv.2-6): God worked in the heart of the King to do favor for Mordecai. The King found out from the record that Mordecai saved his life by exposing a conspiracy by two of his officials to assassinate the King. This event had actually happened 5 years earlier. In v. 3-6, the King asked, ?What honor and recognition has Mordecai received for this?? ?Nothing has been done for him? his attendants answered. In vv. 4-6, the King asked Haman, ?What should be done for the man the king delights to honor?? We see a God who moved the heart of the King Cyrus to build the temple of the Lord (Ezra 1:1ff.) and also the King Artaxerxes to build the wall of Jerusalem (Nehemiah 2:8). Friends, God works in the hearts of authorities for His people. Especially, if we do something good, it will always be remembered. We may not get a reward immediately, or people may not take notice of it at once, or we may not be even appreciated on the spot. We should not do anything just to please someone, thinking that they will appreciate us. We must do everything as if we do it unto the Lord. There is a God who sees everything in secret. He will never forget to honor the one who honors Him even if we think it is too late! He always works at the right time and even in ways that we sometimes can?t understand!
3. God honors His people in front of their enemies (vv. 7-11): We see in vv. 7-11, the King?s command to Haman to honor Mordecai. As per the King?s command, Haman clothed Mordecai with the royal rob and placed a royal crown on his head. Then he put Mordecai on the King?s horse and led him through City Street, proclaiming before him, ?This is what is done for the man the King delights to honor.? Dear people of God, when God wants to honor you, He will do the best for you. Psalms 23:5 says, ?You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.? That is what exactly happened here. Our honor comes from God. If at all people honor you, know that it is not they, but God who works in their hearts, has honored you in front of your enemies. Our help and blessings come from above (Psalm 121: 1).
4. God honors those who humble themselves before Him (v. 12): There is something very interesting in this verse: ?Afterward Mordecai returned to the King?s gate.? If I were Mordecai, I would not go immediately to the security cabin again. I would hover around the palace and demand my rights and privileges and expect others to honor me. Look at Mordecai. He did not show himself off in any such way. He was a humble man (cf.4:1-2). He returned to his place immediately and began to do his work as closely as he had done before. Look at what Haman did. He rushed back home, his head covered in grief. God always lifts up the humble. He hates the haughty and proud individual. Biblical principle is this: "Whoever humbles himself will be exalted; whoever exalts himself will be humbled" (8:15).. Honor is given to those who are not made proud and idle by it, and will not think themselves above their duty
5. God honors His people by destroying their enemies (v. 13): In v. 13, Haman's advisers and wife told him this: ?Since Mordecai is of Jewish origin, you can't stand against him.? They look like miserable comforters. Instead of advising him to repent and ask forgiveness to Mordecai, they were predicting his ruin. It looks like they knew very well about the Jewish people and the God of Israel. Otherwise, his wife would not say, "you will surely come to ruin." Friends, be assured of the fact that we are God?s children and of His origin. No one can stand against His people. The biblical principle is this: "If God is for us, no one can be against us?" (Romans 8:31). Let others know that we belong to Christ and we are His people. Let Satan tremble and the fear of the Lord fall upon the people who come against us. The Lord is going to honor you and lift you up for His glory.
Conclusion: God is looking for many Mordecais in today?s churches, government, business, and work places. He wants you to be a Mordecai in the place where you are now. May the good Lord help us to live a life that will bring glory and honor to His name!
By Mathew Philip
|Posted by Shalem IPC, NJ. on February 9, 2009 at 11:54 PM||comments (0)|
Introduction: Incidents do occur in our every day lives when we must be steadfast. For Example, the school going students ? They know how much they have to hold fast to their studies in order to pass their annual examinations. In the field of sports, we see guarding the goal to win football game needs a lot of effort and determination. In gardening, the farmer knows how hard he has to work and to wait for the plants to yield good crop in its season. Likewise, in our Christian lives things happen when we must be steadfast. Incidents occur in our lives that cause us to sometimes get discouraged and go away from God?s presence. It may be disappointment, doubt, fear, sickness, persecutions, financial crisis, business loss, job insecurity, family problems, or loss of our dear ones. God?s Word admonishes us that we must hold on to our faith in Christ Jesus even in the midst of all these problems. How is it possible? That is what we read in Hebrews 4:14-16. This passage shows that every Christian should hold fast to his or her faith even in the midst of great difficulties. Let us now turn to God?s Word to consider the reasons why we should hold fast to our faith in times of great difficulties.
1. We should hold fast to our faith because Christ is victorious for us (v. 14): The word hold fast comes from the Greek word for strength which means to ?hold fast with all strength.? It gives us the idea that we must hold fast to our faith at any cost. Why should we hold fast to our faith? It is because we have a great high priest. This talks about Christ?s high priestly work on behalf of us. Jesus Christ became the great high priest by offering himself. In the Old Testament, Aaron was the high priest. He offered sacrifices in the presence of God on behalf of his people for the remission of their sins. But Christ came and offered the great sacrifice of himself on the Cross of Calvary once for all. The blood that was shed on the Cross of Calvary is sufficient for the remission of the sins of the entire world. Thus Christ offered a greater sacrifice and became the great high priest for his people. If any one who accepts this great sacrifice done once for all, he or she will be saved and Jesus Christ will be the great high priest over their lives. What is the quality of this great high priest? He has ?gone through the heavens.? This clause speaks of the ascension and exaltation of Christ in victory. Having defeated sin and Satan, he was ?received up into glory.? And now he is seated at the right of the Father, interceding for us. Jesus Christ, our great high priest is victorious for us.
What kind of a victory has He won for us? This is illustrated in Paul?s portrayal of a victorious Roman General leading defeated enemies behind his chariot (Colossians 2:14-15): ??And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.? Whenever the Roman soldiers won the victory over their enemy, they took them as captives. They tie the defeated captain of the enemy behind their chariot and the defeated army stands behind him having put down all their arms on the chariot. The victorious Roman General takes the captives throughout the street while people watch and applaud and the air is filled with the sweet smell released by the burning of spices in the street. Thus they have a triumphal entry into the palace. What do we learn from this? Our Lord Jesus Christ has defeated sin and Satan on the Cross of Calvary and thus he has won the victory for us. Christ?s ascension and exaltation at the right hand of God is your guarantee of victory over every evil spiritual force or satanic oppression. The victory that the Lord Jesus Christ has won for us is not a partial victory, but a complete victory. Therefore we have a hundred percent victory over every evil that comes against us. Remember this: in every conflict, you are not fighting the enemy FOR a position of victory, but FROM a position of victory! We are on victory side. What fight we have today? It is not for victory, but for the defense of our faith we profess in Christ Jesus. We are defending and celebrating so that Satan may not find a loophole in our faith life. Do you know what we are doing in the church when we sing songs, clap our hands, lift up our hands and say praise the Lord and Halleluiah, we celebrate the victory the Lord has won for us. So let us continue to celebrate and rejoice in the presence of God. You can hold fast to your faith because Christ is victorious for you!
2. We should hold fast to our faith because Christ sympathizes with us in our needs (v. 15): The word, ?sympathize? literally means ?to suffer with.? It is the English word, compassion. Jesus Christ is the one who sympathizes with our weaknesses. He cries with those who cry. He suffers with those who suffer. Only Jesus can understand our exact situation. We read in John 11:35 that Jesus wept at the tomb of Lazarus. Mary fell at his feet and said, ?Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.? When He saw her and the Jews who had come along with her weeping, He was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. We also read in Luke 7:13 that Jesus was moved in his heart when He saw the widow of Nain crying over the death of her only son. Hebrews 5:7 says that during the days of Jesus? life on earth he offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears. See, we have a great high priest who sympathizes with our needs.
Why can Christ sympathize with us? It is because He is the ?One who has been tempted in every way just as we are, yet was without sin.? In his humanity Jesus identified himself with us. He has gone through all the temptations, pains and sorrows just like we experience. He has gone through the hardness of labor when he engaged in carpentry work along with His father, Joseph in Nazareth. He has experienced hunger when he and his disciples were walking through the fields. He has experienced financial crisis when the time came to give tax. He sent one of his disciples to catch a fish and take the money out of the fish to pay the tax. He experienced pain and agony at the time of crucifixion. Finally he experienced death on the Cross of Calvary. Friends, He has gone through every situation that you and I go through today. He knows how much we can bear. Psalms 103: 14 says that our God knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust. He knows our problems; he hears our cry and sees our difficult situation. Psalms 103:13: reads, ?As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear.? This can be illustrated in the story of a little boy who went with his father to a supermarket. His father bought certain things and sent it home with his son. It was a bit heavy and an old lady approached him on the way and asked, ?Little boy, how can you carry all these things. It is too heavy for you. Who sent it with you?? The little boy said, ?It is my daddy and he knows how much I can carry.? Dear people of God, if an earthly father knows how much his son or daughter can bear, how much more our heavenly Father knows our needs (Luke 11:13). Our Jesus knows our needs. He hears our cry and our God is the one who collects all our tears and reward us. Even our hairs are numbered. I don?t think our wives will ask how many hairs we lost when we come from our office, but our heavenly Father knows how many we lose every day! Jesus cares for you! Whatever your grief, your pain, your problem, Christ feels your need. Jesus came to this world not to take away our pain and suffering, but to share in it. He himself has gone through it to show us how we can also victoriously come out of it. Our God is a God who is able to supply all our needs according to His riches and glory (Philippians 4:19). Hold fast to your faith, because He is a sympathizing Savior.
3. We should hold fast to our faith because Christ will help in time of need (v. 16): Help in time of need means a well-timed help. The grace and help are always ready, but they come at God?s timing. God sometimes allows our crisis to continue for a long time before he directly intervenes. It is illustrated in Peter?s deliverance from prison (Acts 12: 6-11). Peter was there in chain for a few days, but the deliverance only came the night before his trial. The Angel of the Lord came in the night and led him out. Even the Iron Gate was opened before him. Friends, if there is any closed door before you, however strong it may be, it is going to open for you, if you walk with faith in the Lord. Another example is seen in Matthew 14:22. Here, Jesus? disciples were doing their best to get out of the storm, the whole night. They tried in the first, second and third watch of the night, but help did not come. In the fourth watch of the night - early in the morning 3-6 o? clock - Jesus came to their aid walking on the lake. Looks like our God does not sleep - He is always awake and working for His people (Psalms 121). The people of this world may sleep in the fourth watch of the night. Even then we have a God who is always watching over us. The holy places in this world may be opened for some seasons for people to visit and pray. But heaven is always open for you! You can go at any time and call him Abba Father.
We should never question God in the dark hours of life. Quite often we question God when we go through difficult times. Why does God allow these things in my life? Why am I suffering even though I follow Him? Once a farmer was sitting under his walnut tree questioning God for all that happened against his life. When he looked up he saw some small walnuts hanging from strong branches. At the same time he could see big pumpkins on week plant creeping on the ground. He said, ?O! God himself created everything crazy - topsy-turvy. He created small walnut on strong branches and big pumpkins on weak creeper. Immediately a wind blew and a walnut fell on his head. He jumped up and said, ?Thank God that it was not a pumpkin up there.? Friends, we may not understand God?s ways. His ways are higher than our ways and his thoughts are higher than our thoughts. He works in ways that we do not know. He is a God who works beyond our imagination and expectation. He always works for the good of His people. We will always have need for Christ?s help. You might face persecution, loneliness or conflict, but Christ guarantees you timely help. His delays do not mean that you are forgotten.
Conclusion: Every Christian should hold fast to his or her faith in time of great need. Remember these truths: Christ is victorious for you; Christ sympathizes with you in your need; and Christ will help you just at the right time. God can do everything except fail! The Lord will protect you and supply all your needs according to his riches and glory. He will never despise a broken spirit and a contrite heart.
By MATHEW PHILIP
|Posted by Shalem IPC, NJ. on February 6, 2009 at 2:52 AM||comments (4)|
All of us like something new - new dress, new house, new vehicles, etc. We are excited about those things in the initial stage. These things become old after sometimes and we want to change them. Paul in Rom 12: 1-8 talks about one thing that will never become old. That is the NEW LIFE that Christ brings. The life that Jesus brings is newer everyday! In order to possess this new life, there must be a total change in our whole life. To be something new, there cannot be anything of old. It is like the old has gone, and the new has come (2 Co.5: 17). Only in Christ we can have this new life. How to possess this new life? Paul talks about four ways that we can possess this new life.
1. We can possess this new life by offering our bodies as living sacrifices (v.1): We must offer our bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God. Here is a decision to glorify God with our body. In the new life that Christ brings, we cannot fulfill the desire of the flesh, but only bear the fruit of the Spirit. By presenting of our bodies to God, we will be able to avoid the sins that are committed with or against the bodies. It will also help us to use our bodies in the service of God so as to glorify God. So we must surrender our bodies to God to possess this new life in Christ. When we offer our bodies to God, His Spirit will start dwelling in us. Thus our body becomes the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Co.3: 16). We are not supposed to defile or abuse our body (1Co.3: 17). Here is a call to live holy.
2. We can possess this new life by renewing our mind (v.2): We must renew of our mind. One translation says, ?Let God change the way you think.? This is offering our mind to God. There comes a change in our thinking. We need to think the way God thinks. We must have ?the mind of Christ.? A person with the mind of Christ will see things the way God sees and not the way people see. Then we will be able to see and evaluate everything from God?s perspective. When we perceive our present life and future plans from God?s perspective, specifically in the light of God?s Word, we will be able to know God?s will in it. A change in our thinking is an absolute requirement to possess this new life in Christ.
3. We can possess this new life by offering our self/being to God (v. 3): V. 3 says, ??Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment?? This is offering our ?self?/ ?being? to God. There occurs a change in our self-understanding. A change in my understanding about myself ? ?Who I am.? Before I accepted Christ, ?I thought I was somebody ? I am better than others.? Now I consider others better than myself (Phil 2:3). We do not think highly of us. Now we do not compare ourselves with others in regards to the amount of faith/number of talents/ use of gifts/ amount of blessings, etc. A self-evaluation/ a self-criticism in daily life is what we need to possess this new life in Christ.
4. We can possess this new life by offering our service to God (vv. 4-8): We must be aware of our responsibilities in the body of Christ. We must know our function in the body of Christ? There must be a change in our function. All of us do not have the same function in the church. One may do a greater job and the other may do a smaller one. A person who is not transformed to the likeness of Christ will always think of his position highly before others. Such a person thinks his or her role is important and greater than others. Since we received this new life in Christ, we think that all are one in Christ and belong to each other. Functional differences are there, but in our being we are equal in the sight of God. All of us are equally important to God. It is a call for unity and equality (V.5). This is an attitude to serve cheerfully and joyfully. Here we offer our service to God. In the old state of our life, we wanted to be served by others, but in the new life that is brought by Christ, we want to serve one another. Earlier we did it with grumbling and murmuring, but now we do it faithfully, joyfully, cheerfully, humbly and according to the grace given to us. There happens a change in our attitude. We should never think that one gift is greater than the other. We must exercise them in proportion to our faith ? it simply means that we should not expect everyone to do in the same measure, but differently. We must do it according to our enabling ? it simply means that we should do our best, according to one?s capacity. We must do it generously ? simply means liberally, without any reservation and partiality. We must do it diligently ? simply means with hard working and painstaking, and not with carelessness. And finally, we must do it cheerfully ? willingly and joyfully and not with grumbling and murmuring. So we need a change in our attitude in the service of God. May the Lord help us to enjoy this new life every day of this New Year!
By Mathew Philip
|Posted by Shalem IPC, NJ. on January 31, 2009 at 3:05 AM||comments (0)|
All of us go through difficulties and problems in life. Crises are part of every day life. It may be some acute health problem, financial crisis, business lose, employment problem, misunderstanding in the family, and many others. We should fight against them and take victory over those crises that come to defeat us. For example, take the case of physically challenged people. We have heard thrilling stories of people who fought against their physical disablement and won victories in life. Such people are able to envision a future beyond their difficult circumstances. Another example is seen in the sports field. A group of people, as a team do their best in planning and practicing with strict discipline to defeat their rival team. Likewise in our Christian life Satan, our greatest enemy comes quite often to fight with us. Thus we as believers are in a spiritual battlefield. Apostle Paul reminds every Christian of taking his or her stand against the devil?s schemes in Ephesians chapter 6. How can we take victory over Satan when he tries to defeat us?
The Bible has the answer. We read about an interesting story of Jehoshaphat, the king of Judah fighting against his enemies in 2 Chronicles 20:1-23. The lessons that we lean from this narrative are much useful for us in our present spiritual battle against the evils that come to our life. This story teaches us on how to confront enemies of different kinds that come against our life and ministry. How to overcome Crises in life?
1. We can overcome crisis by knowing the fact that it is part of life (vv. 1-2): What happened here in our text? Jehoshaphat was ruling over Judah. The Lord was with Jehoshaphat because in his early years he walked in the ways of God. The Lord established the kingdom under his control. He had great wealth and honor. His heart was devoted to the ways of the Lord and he removed idolatry from Judah. He lived in Jerusalem. Now the Moabites and Ammonites with some of the Meunites came to make war on Jehoshaphat. Some men came and reported to the King that the enemy is so near to him. We must be able to see problems as problems and enemy as enemy. We should never see problems as simple and never ignore our enemies. We should take notice of crises that happens to us as spiritual attack of our enemy. Crisis may be small or big, but it should be taken seriously. We should expect those in our life, and then we will not be taken into surprise. We will be prepared enough to face those evils that come against us. Christian life is not a bed of Roses as someone said. Specially, when we decide to live for the Lord and serve him, spiritual battle will be stronger. It is because Satan, our greatest enemy doesn?t like us to work for the expansion of God?s Kingdom. If we know that problems, crisis, evils and such things are part of our life, we will better be prepared to face them. Those students who know that examination is a part of their study and expect it will not be taken into surprise, but will be ready to face them.
2. We can overcome crisis if we seek the Lord in the midst of crisis (vv. 3-13): The first thing that the King did was that he resolved to inquire of the Lord (Vv. 4-5). He did not call for his army or enquired of the counsel of his ministers, but sought the face of the Lord. Jehoshaphat did three things when enemy came against him. (1) He proclaimed a fast ? fasting; (2) He gathered all the people ? unity; and (3) He stood up in the assembly of Judah and prayed ? prayer. In his prayer he acknowledged few things: (1) He acknowledged God?s sovereignty; (2) He recognized God?s powerfulness; (3) He remembered God?s deliverance in the past; (4) He assured their loyalty and allegiance to Yahweh; (5) He understood their present problems; (6) He accepted their powerless; (7) He agreed their helplessness; and (8) Finally they trusted in the saving power of God. We find a beautiful illustration of the same case with Queen Esther. When Haman plotted against the Jewish people in the kingdom, Esther sought first the face of God by declaring a fast before she went to seek the favor of the King (Esther 4:15-16). If you and I seek the Lord for His help, He is a well-timed helper in the midst of our crisis.
3. We can overcome crisis by being assured of God?s deliverance (vv. 14- 21): How can we be assured of God?s deliverance? The Holy Spirit of God is the one who assures us of victory (v.14). The Holy Spirit has a message of courage and boldness. He has the message of deliverance and victory. Why do we have the assurance of victory? It is because the battle belongs to the Lord (v.15). We see that the King and his people got the instructions from the Lord as to how to go against their enemy (v. 16). God said they would not have to fight this battle. He promised, ?Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the Lord will give you.? When he got the assurance of victory Jehoshaphat did certain things there. He worshipped God. He bowed with his face to the ground, and all the people of Judah and Jerusalem fell down in worship before the Lord (v. 18). Then they praised God with loud voice and gave thanks to Him. In order to have an assurance of victory over our enemies, we must completely rely upon the Holy Spirit. He will empower us for the battle. He will guide us and lead us into all truth. He will comfort us in our struggles. We must learn to worship God and praise him in every circumstance. We must worship God and praise Him even in the midst of our struggles. The more we worship and praise God, the more we are assured or our deliverance. Final victory is ours, because He is victorious and powerful enough to deliver us.
4. We can overcome crisis by experiencing God?s deliverance (vv. 22-30): Jehoshaphat and all his people began to march against their enemies just as the Lord commanded them. They did not rely upon their own wisdom or armies or their weapons, but completely trusted the living God. How did they go against their enemies? They began to sing and praise God. When they began to sing and praise God, the Lord set ambushes against their enemies. The nature of this ambush is indicated in v.23. This ambush was confusion. The Lord confused their enemies. They began to fight each other. We see a beautiful illustration of the similar victory under Gideon (Judges 7). It is written that their enemies helped to destroy one another. When the Israelites looked toward the vast army, they saw only dead bodies lying on the ground; no one had escaped. Praise the Lord! There was so much plunder that it took three days to collect it. They returned joyfully to Jerusalem. The fear of God came upon all the kingdoms of the countries when they heard how the Lord had fought for His people. If you and I are willing to fight against our enemies just as the Lord commands, the victory is ours. We don?t need any weapons or a great number of mighty people. We need only to sing and praise God?s victory. The fear of God will fall upon the people around us when they see how the Lord fights for his people. Thus His name will be known to all people
Do you want to live in victory throughout the year 2009? Remember, crisis is a part of life, but final victory is ours. Jesus is victorious for us. In every conflict, be assured of the fact that we are not fighting the enemy for a position of victory, but from the position of victory. Our present battle is not for victory, because Jesus has already won the victory for us on the Cross of Calvary. We must make sure of our stand and firmness before God and see the deliverance the Lord gives us every day in our life. Let us celebrate every day and every moment the victory the Lord has won for us over every evil that comes against our life and ministry. Do you think you need deliverance in life? Is there anything or anybody that bothers you? Is there anything that you want to win victory over? Is there anything in life that you want to get rid of? Do you have fear over your future? Bring that particular thing that bothers you before Jesus. Bring that particular person whom you think stand against your life and ministry. Take to Jesus that particular habit that you want to get rid of. Bring your sickness before Jesus. He is always ready to speak a word to your particular problem. If Jesus speaks a word, you will be healed and delivered!
By Mathew Philip