Most of us have fire extinguishers at homes. At least that's the norm in the place that I stay in the Middle East now. Looking at the fire extinguisher attached to the kitchen wall this morning, I wondered how the thing worked, so I took a closer look. There were instructions for using it; they were simple. In case of a fire, remove the pin at the top, point the nozzle at the base of the fire and press the lever to release the gas to extinguish the flames.The thought that crossed my mind was that the thing had been there for a long time but I had cared not to read how it could be used. Why wait for an emergency and then read the instructions when there may be very little time.
It's the same with some Christians. They have their Bibles at home, kept neatly somewhere, but they care not to open it, nor read or meditate on it. Of course they give it some importance on Sundays; a few don't bother about it then too.
But for them who read, meditate and live it, it is life giving and much more; even an extinguisher of fires started by the enemy of their souls.
Here is a trustworthy saying: If we died with him, we will also live with him; if we endure, we will also reign with him. If we disown him, he will also disown us; if we are faithless, he will remain faithful, for he cannot disown himself. (2 Timothy 2:11-13)
Moses did it himself. David got it done through someone else. We are talking of nothing else but murder. They did it after knowing God intimately (David especially) and they had to pay the price for it. Both went through a period of spiritual wilderness experience. But the thing that perplexes many is that God still used them for his purposes. Now that's something great. But God 's love is so amazing; none can truly fathom it's dimensions. And so these two could again do great things for God. God uses many for the building of his kingdom, but sometimes the chosen ones make light of these blessings and act as if they could do anything and everything and then they fail. Overconfidence was the undoing of Joshua too; he gained a great victory at Jericho, but failed in the conquest of Ai, a smaller target compared to Jericho. He failed because there was sin in his camp. Sin brings failure, but failure is not final and rooting out sin can again make God's face shine upon the chosen one. So Joshua conquered Ai after sin was rooted out of his camp. The wilderness experience is tough, but God does not leave nor forsake according to his everlasting promise and his showers of mercy can be felt in the wilderness too, though they may be sparse. Just an indication from him that he has not abandoned.
A few verses to remember in this context.....
In a large house there are articles not only of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay; some are for noble purposes and some for ignoble. If a man cleanses himself from the latter, he will be an instrument for noble purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work. (2 Timothy 2:20, 21)
"I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. (John 15:5)
But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him. (2 Corinthians 2:14)
Much to learn for all those who are chosen to carry on the work that Jesus started. Best to look to the Master at all times and follow in his footsteps.
For he spoke, and it came to be; he commanded, and it stood firm. (Psalm 33:9)
A single affirmative word from the Lord is all you need for your problem to be solved or your request to be granted. So what's the delay? you may ask. I have asked that many times myself, but you see, God is a perfectionist or to be more precise "The Perfectionist" and he does everything, including answering mine and your request at his perfect time. So what's he upto when I have been praying all this while may be the next question. To this, Jesus answers, "My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I, too, am working." (John 5:17)" Well, that seems to be a very dicey situation, 'cause I don't see anything.
Hmmm...Watch closely, he's at work. All that straining at the oars of prayer and your boat is heading towards the desired destination of deliverance. If you stop now, you'll be stranded in the midst of the river, seeing nothing but swirling waters around you. How about settling for something less? Abraham (Genesis 17) had similar thoughts. But God had already taken up his lamentation issue of not having a child of his own and he was not quitting now and he wouldn't let Abraham quit too. You see, when your issue has been taken up by your Lord, he doesn't back out even if you want to and he won't let you back out too. Perhaps you have toned down your prayers that once were fervent. Better change gears and accelerate your pleadings with thanksgiving. The deliverance may be just around the corner.
God loves you and he is always willing to answer your righteous requests through Jesus Christ. He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all; how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? (Romans 8:32)
Once more a remnant of the kingdom of Judah will take root below and bear fruit above. (2 Kings 19:30)
How important it is to take root below so that one may bear fruit above. For a believer in Jesus Christ, it is of paramount importance that one delves deep into the Word of God and takes root firmly, so that the fruit bearing starts. The more one lives out the Word, the more the fruit bearing.
In Psalm 80, the Psalmist sings of 'taking root' and bearing fruit regarding the Israelite's whom God had redeemed from Egyptian bondage.
You brought a vine out of Egypt; you drove out the nations and planted it.You cleared the ground for it, and it took root and filled the land.The mountains were covered with its shade, the mighty cedars with its branches.It sent out its boughs to the Sea, its shoots as far as the River.(Psalm 80:8-11)
But then Israel rebelled and their downfall ensued....the Psalmist lamented thus...
Why have you broken down its walls so that all who pass by pick its grapes? Boars from the forest ravage it and the creatures of the field feed on it.(Psalm 80:12, 13)
And then the prayer for restoration....
Return to us, O God Almighty! Look down from heaven and see! Watch over this vine, the root your right hand has planted, the son you have raised up for yourself.(Psalm 80:14, 15)
The prophet Isaiah prophesies,
In days to come Jacob will take root, Israel will bud and blossom and fill all the world with fruit. (Isaiah 27:6)
And this is what God expects of each of us as believers in Jesus Christ....To take root, bud, blossom and bear abundant good fruit. May the Holy Spirit of God work in each of us to fulfill this.
"Therefore the Lord, the God of Israel, declares: 'I promised that your house and your father's house would minister before me forever.' But now the Lord declares: 'Far be it from me! Those who honor me I will honor, but those who despise me will be disdained. (1 Samuel 2:30)
This was what Eli the priest, had to hear through a man of God. Eli's problem was that he honored his sons more than God; that's what we read in v.29 of the same chapter. The priesthood had come to Eli. He was chosen. And because he was chosen by God, he expected Eli to honor him more than he honored others.
The question that arises thus is, "Do we honor God more than we honor others?" Because God says, "Those who honor me I will honor." Honoring others, be it family or friends, more than God, usually brings problems to lives of believers.
The Apostle Peter writes,
But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. (1 Peter 2:9, 10)
And those who are chosen, must not be yoked together with unbelievers.
The Apostle Paul writes to the Corinthians,
Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? What harmony is there between Christ and Belial ? What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever?
What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: "I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people." "Therefore come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you." "I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty." (2 Corinthians 6:14-18)
Jesus said, "God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth." (John 4:24)
Remember that if you are in Christ, you are chosen. Declare his praises, do not be yoked together with unbelievers, come out from them and be separate, worship God in spirit and in truth. If you honor God, he will honor you.
I was invited to speak at a convention in Tiruvananthapuram in Kerala, India. The message that the Lord had given me to preach was the following:
"We are doomed to die!" he said to his wife. "We have seen God!" But his wife answered, "If the Lord had meant to kill us, he would not have accepted a burnt offering and grain offering from our hands, nor shown us all these things or now told us this." (Judges 13:22,23)
This is a happening in the Old Testament of the Bible where a childless couple meet an angel of the Lord who gives them the message that they are going to be blessed with a child. When Manoah, the man realizes that they had seen the angel of the Lord, he felt they were going to die, but his wife corrected him saying that,"If the Lord had meant to kill us, he would not have ......... shown us all these things or now told us this."
My message that day was about dreams and visions that the Lord gives his children. I said, "If the Lord shows a blessing coming to you, pray that it may come to pass, whereas if the Lord showed something calamitous was going to happen, pray fervently that it may not happen and the Lord will hear your prayer and the disaster will be averted." I stressed the point that....."If the Lord had meant to kill, he would not have shown......" and when I repeated it, a man in the crowd raised his hand and shouted, "Praise the Lord."
Later, after the meeting was over, the same young man approached me, shook my hand and said, "Thank you, that message was definitely for me. I had seen a couple of dreams last week, in which I saw my wife die. I have been very sad and depressed because of the same since almost a week. I believe the Lord has spoken to me and heard my prayer and will bless my wife with a long life. I prayed with him briefly.
Travelling back, that evening, I marvelled at how much the Lord cares for each of his children. The Holy Spirit had chosen just the perfect verses to speak to one of his, who was burdened and feeling low.