You Will Find Fullness Of Joy Only In His Presence!

Psalm 16:11; “You will show me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”
 
I remember a few years ago, when my son was little, certain illnesses required a visit with his pediatrician. At home the symptoms manifested by him required our absolute attention. However, as soon as we entered the pediatrician’s office, he was completely different. It seemed as if he gained this strength from somewhere, that he had the energy to function without any help from his parents. In fact, he even wanted to be independent, and moved away from us. What gave him the strength at that moment was not that he had experienced some supernatural healing. The boy had been profusely dripping from his nostrils, and even had a high fever. Even then it seemed as if he was completely different from the time we entered the office. I’m sure all of you might be wondering as to the reason for this phenomenon.
 
All that caused this change in my son at that moment is the fact that his pediatrician had set up an extravagant toy room in the office. As I drew closer to peek into the room, I noticed a joyful fellowship of several sick infants, all with mucus dripping from their nostrils, all the way into their mouths. You get the point. Playrooms at pediatrician’s offices are designed to distract sick children from the pain of their problem until it is fixed. In other words, the playroom gives them joy even in a bad situation.
 
Through the difficult situations of his life, David puts his trust in God, assured of the truth that it is only in His presence that he (David) is completely preserved, knowing that any goodness in him, it is only because of God (Psalm 16:1—3). David sings with confidence to God, “5 O Lord, You are the portion of my inheritance and my cup; You maintain my lot. 6 The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places; yes, I have a good inheritance. 7 I will bless the Lord who has given me counsel; my heart also instructs me in the night seasons. 8 I have set the Lord always before me; because He is at my right hand I shall not be moved. 9 Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoices; my flesh also will rest in hope. (Psalm 16:5—9).”
 
Let us be mindful of the truth that it is He who showed us the path of life through Jesus Christ, and drew us to His presence, where we can find joy unspeakable and full of glory. At His right hand are pleasures forevermore.
 
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Stop! Take Some Rest!

Mark 6:31 – ‘And He said to them, “Come aside by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.” For there were many coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat.”

We live in a world of relentless pursuit of “Achievement.” And in that vein, we even forget to stop and take a breather or two.

This morning, I attended a men’s bible study at my church. The bible teacher related the story of two foresters, who decided to compete against each other and see who could chop down more trees in a day. One was young and new to his profession, while the other was considerably older and more experienced. On the day of the competition, the younger forester rose up bright and early, and began chopping trees. For eight long hours he continuously toiled, without even taking a break. He was determined to outdo his opponent. “After all, I am much younger, more energetic, and a lot stronger than him,” he thought to himself. Moreover, as the day progressed, he noticed his opponent taking a ten minute break, every hour. “Victory is certainly mine,” of this he was assured of. At the end of the day, count was taken to determine the victor. To his utter surprise, his opponent chopped down forty trees, while he ended up with twenty-one.

“How is it possible, old man?” In shock he asked. “You took a break every hour, and yet you downed twice as many trees as I did? How did you accomplish that?” The old man, in a quiet, deep voice replied, “Yeah, yeah, I understand your question. It is true that you were working hard, grunting and groaning, sweating profusely. But every hour I sat down for ten minutes, I did two things.” He said, “First of all, I recovered. Secondly, during the recovery time, I also sharpened my axe. It is true, you were working hard, but you were working with a dull equipment.” Friends, even Jesus, seeing His disciples weary because of the people around them, and the fact that they hadn’t eaten anything, tells them to “Come aside by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.” I pray that God will help us to take time to rest, in order to prevent exhaustion.

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Temptations Cannot Overtake You

James 1:13—16
“Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death. Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren.”

Fishermen use worms to attract fish. It’s not at all about the worm! The real deal from the fisherman’s standpoint is the hook beneath the worm. The role that worms play is to entice the fish. Not many hours later, the fisherman enjoys a savory meal. I am sure that none of you have ever seen, or heard of a mouse looking for a mousetrap. What entices the mouse is the cheese. The cheese is set on the trap, and its “lust” for the cheese, deceives the mouse, making it unable to recognize the snare. An interesting point to note is the genuineness behind the object of attraction used, so as to lure or entice the prey, and thus create the opportunity for its ultimate destruction.

This is the exact picture that James is trying to portray in the minds of his readers by using the word “entice.” The bible is replete with examples of men like Adam, the patriarchs, Noah, Moses, Samson, David, Solomon, and many, many more. Men, just like us, who were enticed by “objects” of attraction.

ALL, and I mean, ALL of them had their shares of successes and failures during such enticements. Joseph when enticed by Potiphar’s wife day by day, responded by running away from her (Genesis 39:10). While it did not take too much for David to be tempted and pursue the woman he noticed naked in the pool outside the terrace (2 Samuel 11). We don’t need to talk about Solomon. Moses succumbed to righteous anger. Samson fell prey to pride. Peter also fell prey to the same. Paul fought with Barnabas over John Mark, because of his egotistic zeal for God’s work, to the extent of rejecting Mark, as though he was doing God a favor. It was this religious zeal that led him to murder an untold number of Christians before he was confronted by the Master on the Road to Damascus. Somehow he succumbed to the same temptation even in the case of Mark.

But as Paul matured in Christian walk, he became convinced of the truth that it was none other than the faithfulness of God that kept him, both away from, and during temptation. He clearly states, “No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it (1 Corinthians 10:13).” This is only because we have a High Priest who sympathizes with our weaknesses, who Himself was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin (Hebrews 4:15). Therefore, my beloved friends, the only way to resist the devil is by submitting to God, and he will flee from you (James 4:7). Take courage, He is able to, and will aid us when we are tempted (Hebrews 2:18).”

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Judge not, that you be not judged!

Judge not, that you be not judged! (Matthew 7:1)

Dr. Charles Swindoll, a respected and admired bible teacher in the Christian world, was invited to speak at a camp. A gentleman came to him and said, “Oh, Dr. Swindoll, I have waited so long for this week, I am going to eat up everything you have to say.” Swindoll thanked him.

Sunday night, the man was sitting on the front row, and the man started nodding. Swindoll figured that he had a long drive and was probably tired. Tuesday night, the man started nodding, and so it was on Wednesday night also. Swindoll was now getting a little upset. How could this man sit on the front row and nod away? Swindoll thought. As a preacher who had prepared well for this occasion, it didn’t feel good to see someone sleeping on him. He was getting frustrated with the man. Thursday night, the story was the same.

On Friday morning, the woman sitting next to him came to Swindoll and said, “I want to thank you for the ministry this week. Oh, and by the way, I apologize about my husband sleeping on you. You see, he has terminal cancer and the doctors have given him a couple of weeks to live. When we discussed about what he wanted to do before he died, he said, ‘I want to go hear Chuck Swindoll.’ Dr. Swindoll, the doctors have put him on strong medications to alleviate his pain, but they make him extremely drowsy. I sincerely apologize that he has been sleeping, but I honestly wanted thank you for making this the best week of his life before he goes home to be with the Lord.” Swindoll later said he would have crawled under a rock, because he misjudged, and reacted without proper investigation.

James cautions his readers about discriminating and misjudging people when he writes, “For if there should come into your assembly a man with gold rings, in fine apparel, and there should also come in a poor man in filthy clothes, and you pay attention to the one wearing the fine clothes and say to him, “You sit here in a good place,” and say to the poor man, “You stand there,” or, “Sit here at my footstool,” have you not shown partiality among yourselves, and become judges with evil thoughts? (James 2:2—4)”

In the last couple of months, God has been teaching me to be sensitive, and not fall into the trap of misjudging and writing people off, but rather, work towards building people up so that they are lead to a closer walk with God. And my sincere prayer is that He will grant everyone reading this article also to do the same.

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The Wrath of God

The wrath of God brings a picture of an erratic capricious deity, who loses His temper, and is out to get humanity. On the contrary, God’s wrath is devoid of any such unprincipled quality.

What Does The “Wrath” of God Mean?

‘Wrath’ is an old English word defined as a ‘deep, intense anger and indignation’. ‘Anger’ is defined as ‘stirring of resentful displeasure and strong antagonism, by a sense of injury or insult’; ‘indignation’ as ‘righteous anger aroused by injustice and baseness’. Such is the nature of wrath. The bible talks about ‘wrath’ with reference to both God and man.

There are two terms used in the bible to express “Wrath.” The word θυμός (Thumós), which is derived from thuō means “rush along, getting heated up, breathing violently.” The English words “Thermos” or “Thermometer” originates from this word.  It is strictly a passion driven behavior, that is, actions emerging out of strong impulses or intense emotion. It is mostly with reference to the gods of the heathen and humans, indicating rage.

The word ὀργή(orgḗ) which is derived from the word orgáō, means “to teem, swelling up to judiciously oppose.” This is, a properly settled, firm, controlled, and just feeling; an aversion to that which is unjust or evil. The moment we hear the word “Wrath” in relation to God, we think of an erratic, uncontrollable, capricious deity, who loses His temper, and is out to get humanity. On the contrary, God’s wrath is devoid of any such unprincipled quality.

When Isaiah says, “Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord of hosts… (Isaiah 6:3),” he is talking of an infinitely holy God who has a constant aversion to ALL that is evil. That is why, Paul says, “the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men… (Romans 1:18).” Paul uses the present tense, when depicting this attribute of God. That is, God’s aversion to ALL that is evil, is constant. Please understand that this wrath of God is only revealed to mankind who “…suppress the truth in unrighteousness… (Romans 1:18).”

Notice what they do for the wrath of God to be revealed against them. First of all, they “… suppress the truth in unrighteousness… (Romans 1:18).” The word “suppress” means “to hold down,” “conceal,” “stifle,” or “restrain.” There is a deliberate cover-up, or willful denial of the all-powerful God, who is the creator. Calvin in his Commentaries on the Epistle to the Romans explains, “Man was created to be a spectator of this formed world, and that eyes were given him, that he might, by looking on so beautiful a picture, be led to the author himself….” However, mankind deliberately suppresses the truth of the existence of a creator God, although His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse (Romans 1:21). “It takes a concerted act of the will to deny that a vastly powerful God made and sustains the Creation (Kent Hughes).” By deliberately suppressing the truth of the existence of God, they became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise in their own eyes, they became fools. No wonder did David say, “The fool has said in his heart, ‘There is no God’ (Psalm 14:1).” As a result, they turned to idolatry, immorality and gross iniquity (Romans 1:21-32).

Secondly, notice that they “…suppress the truth in unrighteousness… (Romans 1:18).” Humanity without Christ suppress the truth God has faithfully revealed. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me (John 14:6).” The good news of the Gospel is that the love of God surpasses anything that mankind can suppress. Because “God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ… (1 Thessalonians 5:9).” Jesus said, “He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe in the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him (John 3:36).” The only way to escape the wrath of God is by embracing the Truth, who is Christ.

Discipleship – Jesus’ View

The early Church grew almost four-hundred fold during the first three decades after Pentecost, and continued to do so for three centuries thereafter. Then what led to the gradual decline?

Webster defines “Disciple” as one who accepts and assists in spreading the doctrines of another. “Mathetes” , is its Greek equivalent. In the 4th century B.C., the Greek philosopher Plato, introduced the viewpoint that separated the physical realm from the spiritual. In 335 B.C., Aristotle, his disciple who founded the school “Lyceum,” in Athens, took it a step further. Here, the academic world systematized the Platonic viewpoint and made it transferable. The school birthed doctors, lawyers and teachers, who passionately began to infiltrate their respective realms of influence with this Platonic worldview.

Years later, Rome conquered Greece. However, the Platonic logic continued to penetrate into the Roman culture, insomuch that, some historians did not shy away from using the term, Greco-Roman world. How influencing the power of discipleship!

It was in this context that Jesus enters into the scene and introduces a new teaching, unlike the existing Jewish or Aristotelian models, which only brought about fractions within segments of the socio-economic strata. Judaism was accessible only to the Jews, leaving everyone else (Gentiles) without hope and Aristotelean philosophy only to intellectuals. Jesus came, neither to promote philosophy nor religious fervor. He addressed something much deeper; one that came from the heart, based on “Love.” “For God so ‘loved’ the world…. (John 3:16).” As a result, bringing unity by breaking down barriers of separation (Ephesians 2:14).

Jesus invested three and half years into twelve men, a tax-collector, some fishermen, and others – to whom He commissioned prior to His ascension, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations… (Matthew 28:19).” However, they were not ignorant on how to accomplish this task. Primarily, because Jesus had already modeled the process in them, which was a replication of the one between Him and the Father. “I have declared to them Your name, and will declare it, that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them (John 17:26).” Moreover, He had given them the new commandment to love one another, just as He had loved them (John 13:34). And it’s the love we have for one other which is the only tangible evidence to the world of being, His true disciples (John 13:35).

History is clear that the early Church grew almost four-hundred fold during the first three decades after Pentecost, and continued to do so remarkably well for three centuries thereafter (Coleman, Robert E., The Master Plan of Discipleship (Grand Rapids, MI: Fleming H. Revell, 2001), 30). The reason for this was that a major emphasis was placed on Discipleship. Early church fathers like Ignatius, Bishop at the church of Antioch in Syria, Polycarp, Bishop of Smyrna and Ireneaus, Bishop of Lyons, heavily emphasized discipleship (Wilkins, Michael J., Following the Master, A Biblical Theology of Discipleship (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1992); Hull, Bill, The Complete Book of Discipleship (Colorado Springs: NavPress, 2006)). After this period began a gradual decline, which can be attributed to the lack of effective discipleship, and one doubts if the church is really focused on her obligation to raise up true disciples any longer!

Let’s face it! Somehow, the church has lost the understanding of “Discipleship.” The measurement of growth is quantitative, rather than qualitative. We are eager to lead people to salvation but not disciple them. Salvation in its truest form always leads to discipleship. And discipleship is the “way of life.”

Friends, the love of God has been poured out into our hearts by the Holy Spirit (Romans 5:5). What marvelous love the Father has shown us in allowing us to be called “His Children” – and that is not merely what we are referred to as, but indeed are (1 John 3:1). May the world know by our love that we are “disciples” of Jesus Christ.