GOD FIRST – Giving Him the highest place

If we say we are believers in Christ, there is a pertinent question to ask ourselves. The question is – ‘Am I a lover of God?’. You see, when the Pharisees asked Jesus what the greatest commandment is, He answered, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment.” Why do you think Jesus said that loving God with all that we are and all that we have is the greatest commandment? It is because that is God’s greatest desire. He wants us to love Him with all our heart, soul and mind. He’s not a God who will force Himself on us. He is a God who showed us the greatest love of all and with that love gently summons us to embrace Him. That is why, it is so important for us, as believers, to be lovers of God – because it is God’s greatest commandment and more so, His greatest desire.

I love a statement that I’ve been reading for a few years now, here and there – “When people tell me say that I take this Jesus thing too seriously, I say, Well Jesus took me pretty seriously when He died for me on the cross”. It’s true, God, our Father, and our Lord Jesus took us very seriously when Jesus DIED for us. How hard would it be for us to LIVE for him?

So what does it mean to love God with ALL our heart, soul, mind and strength? Loving Him with our everything would mean putting God first in our heart, soul and mind. It means placing Him above yourself, people and everything in this world. The word ‘FIRST’ literally means , ‘foremost in position, rank, or importance’. Is God foremost in all aspects of our lives?

It is so important for us, as believers, to be lovers of God – because it is God’s greatest commandment and more so, His greatest desire.

In fact, in 2 Timothy 3:1‭-‬5, Paul tells Timothy how people who know God might become in the end times. He says, ‘But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.’

He points out at all that they shouldn’t have become and the one thing they should have become. They should have been LOVERS OF GOD. I do believe that since it has been more than 2000 years after Jesus proclaimed the Kingdom of God, and the end may be nearer than we anticipate.

There is no middle ground – we are either putting God first or putting Him last.

Are we going to be lovers of God by putting GOD FIRST, or are we going to be these lost people in the end times that Paul is talking about? There is no middle ground – we are either putting God first or putting Him last. It is time to check our hearts and lives and see where we’ve placed Him and if we are truly LOVERS OF GOD.

As lovers of God, GOD SHOULD BE OUT FIRST –

1. FIRST ONE WE LOOK UP TO –

The Psalmist knew well where He could find all his answers and purpose. That’s why He says, ‘I lift up my eyes to the mountains— where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord , the Maker of heaven and earth.’ (Psalms 121:1‭-‬2).

Who are you looking up to? Your own self? Family? Friend? If you think the creation can be looked up to, how much more the creator?

We shouldn’t become lovers of ourselves and others, rather grow to become lovers of God. And the best part is we always have the creator to go to, who loves us and is ever present to help us, lead us and guide us, as He says in Deuteronomy 31:8 – “The Lord is the one who goes ahead of you; He will be with you. He will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.”

2. FIRST ONE WE RELY ON –

Too often we find ourselves relying on or trusting tangible things (things that give us a hundred percent guarantee of results), yet God calls us to trust in Him, His wisdom, His timing and above all, His omnipotence.

Things of this world like money, people, career, earthly possessions can be here today and be washed away tomorrow, but God is the only one who will remain.

Noah relied on God, that is why when the entire world was washed away, He was saved.

Too often we find ourselves relying on or trusting tangible things, yet God calls us to trust in Him, His wisdom, His timing and above all, His omnipotence.

Let God be the one you rely on first and foremost, because only He remains and only He can save.

3. FIRST ONE WE OBEY –

Have you come across a situation where your near and dear ones tell you to do something, but God directs you differently? In these situations, we tend to quickly obey these close people and disobey God. Most of the time, our own desires stand in our way of obeying God wholeheartedly. Our pride, wicked ways, evil desires and selfish gain. That, however, only goes on to show whom we place first in our lives and in obedience.

Who created us? Who laid down His life for us? Who is everlasting? If the answer is ‘Jesus’, then doesn’t He deserve our foremost obedience in everything in life? No wonder Jesus said to his disciples in Matthew 16:24, “…Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.”

4. FIRST ONE WE DESIRE –

Paul pointed out to Timothy that in the end times people will be lovers of pleasure. This is one thing that we see our generation moving into. In fact, living for pleasures has slowly made its way into the church too. It’s not wrong to have a good meal or enjoy, yet when the thing we’re wanting is replacing our desire for God, we know we’re placing the pleasure above God.

King David has realised that nothing on earth can satisfy the human heart, except God himself. So he says to God in Psalms 73:25, “Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you.”

When the thing we’re wanting is replacing our desire for God, we know we’re placing the pleasure above God.

5. FIRST ONE WE THANK AND ARE GRATEFUL FOR –

Of ten lepers who were healed by Jesus, only one came back to thank Him. You know why? Simply because He knew that Jesus was the one who healed him.

In all circumstances in life, as believers, we know that God is sovereign over us and helps us no matter what. Yet when something turns out for good, do we actually go back and thank God? Do we realise that He is the one who turned our situation around? Or do we go on praising other people and ourselves for what happened?

Let God be the first one we thank and be grateful for because if not for Him, we can do nothing.

In another instance, we find ourselves grumbling over something that God gave us rather than being grateful that He gave us that thing/person in the first place.

Let God be the first one we thank and be grateful for because if not for Him, we can do nothing. (John 15:5)

In a time such as this, let us be found and known as LOVERS OF GOD, as we put Him first in everything – heart, mind, soul and strength.

POSITIONED TO THRIVE

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.

PROVERBS 3 : 5,6

Cacti are meant to grow in extremely hot conditions because they can store up a lot of water. They can also typically take in a one-time heavy rainfall. But, can they survive in continuously damp or wet soil? The answer is no, they rot.

This is exactly what will happen to us if we position ourselves in an environment that is not meant for us – we will rot (a process of deterioration). On the other hand, when we position ourselves in the right environment, we will see how we thrive, grow and accomplish all that God has ordained for us. Unlike plants who cannot control where they are positioned, we, human beings, can very well position ourselves. God has also given us His Spirit to discern when and how to do it.

If the environment we position ourselves is not where we are created to be, we will shrink, dry up and struggle to survive.

Looking at the life of Joseph, one of the sons of Israel, we can evidently see how he intently chose where he positioned himself in the midst of challenging circumstances. In fact, he was placed in the most uncertain places – a pit, a prison and a palace – yet, he thrived in all of them. How did he do it? It is only by the way he positioned himself. One of the things we read constantly through Joseph’s story in the bible is ‘the Lord was with him’. If we want to accomplish what God ordained for us like Joseph did (by becoming the Prime Minister of Egypt), this aspect of positioning ourselves in the right environment is something we have to learn from him.

  • Resisting Temptation –

Sometimes we willingly or unwillingly find ourselves in a spot where we are tempted. It becomes very difficult for us to fight it out and overcome it.

Yet, the right thing to do at the time is to resist it – by moving away from it.

You see, you cannot always choose the situation you are placed in, but you can choose where and how you position yourselves in it.

In the midst of a serious temptation to commit adultery with Potiphar’s wife, Joseph said ‘..how can I sin against God?’ and ran away from there. He resisted the temptation. The Bible clearly tells us that no other servant was in the house that day; Joseph could have given into his flesh. But, because he was conscious of God, he realised that the best thing to do when no one else was there in the place was to move away from there. Joseph positioned himself in an environment where he does not give way to temptation. We really don’t know how different Joseph’s life would have been had he positioned himself differently by staying in that place and not resisting the temptation. However, because Joseph knew that it was not God’s will for him to be there or do that – he was able to position himself rightly.

Don’t underestimate the importance of positioning yourself in the right environment in the midst of temptation. It can change the trajectory of your purpose and calling!

What is that temptation that you keep facing? Sometimes you need to completely move out of the place where you’re being tempted, or move away from the people causing you to be tempted or remove the thing that causes you to sin.

1 Corinthians 15:33 says, “Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.”

Position yourself to resist temptation, and you will watch yourself thriving. Joseph might have been falsely accused and sent to prison for resisting – but in due time, he was made the second in-command of the entire nation!

Don’t underestimate the importance of positioning yourself in the right environment in the midst of temptation. It can change the trajectory of your purpose and calling!

Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. – James 4 : 7

  • Persevering through trials –

Another place we often find ourselves in is TRIALS. Be it struggling with depression, loss, a dead-end or an uncertain circumstance. Joseph found himself in these kind of situations quite often – thrown into a pit and sold as a slave by his own family (brothers), sent to prison for no fault of his, betrayed by people. Yet something that stands out is how Joseph thrived through it all. Nowhere in his story do we read that he was defeated by the circumstances he faced.

Maybe you are the only believer in your family and are being questioned for your faith every day, or maybe you are in a place in life where nothing seems to be working out, or maybe you have just lost someone or something who you depended on – it could be anything. The question is – Are you allowing the situation to determine your response or are you positioning yourself to face it?

Learn to trust and lean on God to help you position yourself in the right environment, even in unlikely places.

When Joseph was sold as a slave to Potiphar’s household – he did not lament about being sold off by his brothers, instead he trusted God (we read again – God was with him) and depended on God to face the challenge. What happened? He was able to work at Potiphar’s house so well, that Potiphar entrusted everything in his care. When he was put in prison – Joseph refused to mourn about being innocent of the accusation, instead he did what he was given to do in the prison with utmost sincerity (again by trusting God and God being with him).

Joseph learnt how to position himself correctly in the right environment despite being placed in tough places only by leaning on and trusting God.

Each trial is unique and so the way we position ourselves in them is unique. So, who can guide and direct us how to do it? God can. Learn to trust and lean on God to help you position yourself in the right environment, even in unlikely places.

“Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, And whose hope is the Lord. For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters, Which spreads out its roots by the river, And will not fear when heat comes; But its leaf will be green, And will not be anxious in the year of drought, Nor will cease from yielding fruit. – Jeremiah 17 : 7-9

We have the choice to position ourselves in the right environment by seeking God’s direction and grace to do what is right. And, resisting temptation and persevering through trials will always help us position ourselves correctly to face all that comes our way.

Let us be cacti that are positioned to thrive – be it in the desert or a hilly region. The choice is ours!

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TRAINING THAT LASTS ETERNALLY

GROWTH METER: MERE INFANTS OR MATURE IN CHRIST?

Series : PART III

About the series

A lot of us have come to the point where we believe in Jesus. Some of us are also dedicated to go to church, participate in church activities, and sometimes even lead groups, worship, children’s ministry and so on. But, when it comes to our walk with Jesus, we move on with life and watch ourselves constantly going back and forth with the core aspects of our faith like overcoming sin, our very belief and faith in Jesus, indecisive about what is good and evil and so on. Why is that? It is simply because we are not making efforts to GROW, to MATURE in Christ. There are three portions of Scripture where our growth in Christ is compared to the growth of an infant to adulthood – and this is a great growth meter for us to see where we stand in our life. In this three-part series, we are going to learn why we should not be infants and instead become those who are mature in Christ and how to do this.


We have much to say about this, but it is hard to make it clear to you because you no longer try to understand. In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. Nevertheless, solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil. Therefore let us move beyond the elementary teachings about Christ and be taken forward to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death, and of faith in God, instruction about cleansing rites, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. And God permitting, we will do so.

Hebrews 5:11 – 6:3

Training – we come across this word so often in our lives – be it school, college or work. Any training is to help one grow from knowing very little or nothing to excelling in a particular task or subject. Today, laypersons are taking up training classes and becoming professionals in so many things.

Think about it. If a layperson needs training to grow in a particular field here on earth – how much more do we, believers, need to grow in Jesus Christ to become like Him? We repeatedly say that we want to be like Jesus – but the truth is, we cannot become like Him unless we train ourselves in His character, mind and ways. And, this is a training that will not be rewarded here on earth alone, but has its reward in eternal life.

One of the sign that shows us that infants are growing up well is in their ability to digest food from liquids to semi-solids and then solids. An infant needs to be gradually trained to digest semi-solids after liquids and then gradually fed solids until the child can actually chew and swallow solid food. It is a process, yet it is an intentional process that parents undertake to help the infant grow and mature.

Training yourself to maturity in Christ is a training that will not be rewarded here on earth alone, but has its reward in eternal life.

Therefore, while addressing a group of believers, the author of Hebrews tells them that they cannot be fed solid food because they still need milk. While they ought to be teachers, they still need to be taught.

The author is pointing out at their lack of growth in the Lord. So, he is telling them how a mature person is someone who has trained themselves to distinguish good from bad by constant use of what they learnt from the beginning. Whereas, a person who is an infant still needs to be trained in elementary teachings of the faith. What are these elementary teachings? The author mentions it – repentance from acts that lead to death, and of faith in God, instruction about cleansing rites (baptism), the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment.

This is the clearest distinction between someone who is still an infant in the faith and someone who is maturing in Christ. Are you constantly going back to the essence of your faith in Jesus? Doubting and questioning your faith in His life, death and resurrection? Are you thinking twice about being baptized? Debating about leaders or mentors or if gifts exist in the first place? Confused about how those who pass away in the Lord will live eternally? Or not sure about heaven and hell? Well, if these are questions you keep going back and forth with – you know you are still an infant in the faith and need to be taught these elementary teachings.

Maturing in Jesus Christ is an option for all of us. It requires an intentional effort of knowing Him more, practicing what we learn from Him and obeying Him in every decision – be it big or small.

Yet, if you train yourself in these elementary truths day after day, minute after minute – you will be taken forward into maturity where now the elementary teachings will become a sure and firm foundation and you will be able to discern good from evil. What this means is that you will slowly and steadily grow in the righteousness of Jesus Christ and becoming more and more like Him.

Maturing in Jesus Christ is an option for all of us. It requires an intentional effort of knowing Him more, practicing what we learn from Him and obeying Him in every decision – be it big or small. One cannot be going to church Sunday after Sunday and maybe even serving in church, but not practicing what they have learnt from the Lord, and expect to grow in Him. No! Growing in Him is by consciously training yourself by knowing Him through His word and through prayer and being completely obedient to Him – in the easy as well as tough decisions. As the author of Hebrews says, by constant use train yourselves – Are you constantly meditating on God’s word to know Him deeper? The Psalmist says in Psalms 1:2 – Blessed is the one…whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night. Are you prayerful and praying in the Spirit at all times? Paul says in Ephesians 6 : 18 – And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. Are you acknowledging God always and in every area of your life? Proverbs 3:6 says, ‘in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.’ This is how we need to train ourselves to become mature in Christ.

Being taken forward in maturity in Christ would mean that now you are not questioning God’s existence when trouble strikes you, but you trust in Him and are actually thinking about how to share about Him to others even in the midst of a storm in your life. Maturity in Christ means you are not fighting people who do something against you or hurt you or treat you badly, but you are fighting against principalities and powers of darkness in the spiritual realm through prayer. Maturity in Christ would mean you have left your petty ways of gossiping, fighting, and arguing and instead you are focused on loving everyone the same way.

We know we are growing in Maturity when we are growing –

  • In Jesus’ Character –

Hebrews 1 : 3 says, “The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word…”. Jesus is like the Heavenly Father in every way – compassionate, kind, patient, loving, zealous and more.

The more we grow in a relationship with Jesus, the more we will grow in His likeness and character. That is why John says in 1 John 2:6, “Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did” Ask yourself every single day if you are growing in His likeness, imitating His character.

  • In Jesus’ Ways –

Jesus said He came to save the lost (Mark 2 : 17). In fact, when we read the gospels, we see that Jesus preached the good news about the Kingdom of God and healed all who came to Him, drove out impure spirits. He moved in the power of God.

When Jesus was talking to the disciples about ascending to heaven, he said this in John 14: 12, “Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.”

He said we would do greater things than Him. What does that mean? He wants us to move in the power of God. He wants us to save the lost, to heal the sick, drive out impure spirits. Are we moving in the power of God? Are we maturing to become more like Jesus in the way He moved and did things?

  • In Jesus’ Mindset or Thinking –

One of the things that Jesus spoke about a lot was about the heart and mind. In fact, He said that the greatest commandment is to love the Lord with all your heart, all your soul and all your mind. He also said that the mouth speaks what the heart is full of (using the example of trees and their fruit). He talked about how what comes out of you is what defiles you rather than what you eat.

You see, Jesus knew that everything we think and understand decides what we believe and how we act. That is why He spoke about our thinking and the place of our hearts so much.

In fact Paul tells us to become like Jesus is our mindset or thinking, who being in the likeness of God did not consider equality with God (Philippians 2 : 5-7). Are we growing in thinking like Jesus? Are our thoughts aligned to His word?

Like the author in Hebrews said in Hebrews 6 : 1 – “Therefore let us move beyond the elementary teachings about Christ and be taken forward to maturity…”

A GOD-LED OR WORLD-LED LIFE?

GROWTH METER: MERE INFANTS OR MATURE IN CHRIST?

Series : PART II

About the series

A lot of us have come to the point where we believe in Jesus. Some of us are also dedicated to go to church, participate in church activities, and sometimes even lead groups, worship, children’s ministry and so on. But, when it comes to our walk with Jesus, we move on with life and watch ourselves constantly going back and forth with the core aspects of our faith like overcoming sin, our very belief and faith in Jesus, indecisive about what is good and evil and so on. Why is that? It is simply because we are not making efforts to GROW, to MATURE in Christ. There are three portions of Scripture where our growth in Christ is compared to the growth of an infant to adulthood – and this is a great growth meter for us to see where we stand in our life. In this three-part series, we are going to learn why we should not be infants and instead become those who are mature in Christ and how to do this.


Brothers and sisters, I could not address you as people who live by the Spirit but as people who are still worldly—mere infants in Christ.  I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready. You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere humans?

1 Corinthians 3 : 1 – 3

When we try feeding infants solid food, they either throw up, cry or push the food away. Some infants accept the solid food, but they vomit it out because their body is still not ready to digest it. Some others do not even accept it because they cannot enjoy it – one bite and they will zip their mouths and cry if you try giving them more.

Apostle Paul understood this aspect about infants very well. That is why when he was addressing the church in Corinth, who were quarreling, having strife and jealousy among themselves, he told them that they were behaving like mere infants in the faith. What Paul was saying was that he could not talk to them like those who have matured, who can digest solid food, simply because they were still worldly. He is saying this because even if he talks to them about deeper truths of God, they simply will not accept it or even if they do hear him out, they will spit it out.

When he says ‘worldly’ – he is pointing out to their attitude, their understanding and lifestyle. As we read the book of Corinthians, we understand that believers in the church in Corinth were jealous of each other and having fights among themselves because they were simply making decisions based on worldly values and perspectives rather than making God-led (Spirit-led) decisions. They were getting into fights with each other and not talking to one another. They were jealous of each other, so much so that they rejected people – including Paul himself. They were divided based on idolising men (choosing either Paul or Apollos), they took each other to court instead of talking things out among themselves, one expected women to behave a certain way and other expected another. All these divisions and fights came up because these people were thinking, living and talking like the world – based on the principles of the world.

The Mature in Christ are people whose lives and minds are rested on the Kingdom of God and Kingdom values.

This is exactly why when Paul begins dealing with the issues among them, he starts off by saying that he can’t talk to them as ‘people who are led by the Spirit’.

In fact, Paul goes on to tell the Corinthians that they are behaving like mere humans. Why is Paul questioning them for behaving like ‘mere humans’? It is because he knows that those who are led by God live as though earth is not their home. They are people whose life and mind is rested on the Kingdom of God and Kingdom values.

That’s right! Being mature in Christ would mean being wholly dependent and led by the Spirit, living every moment and making every decision based on what God desires.

Maturity, according to the word of God here in 1 Corinthians 3 : 1-3, is living according to God’s standard and God’s leading. Maturity is what Abraham did, when he obeyed God and left his land to go to an unknown land that God promised to give him, not worrying about his security. It is what Rahab did when she hid the Israelite spies because she understood that the God of Israel is the living God, not fearing mere men. It is what Ruth did when she went along her mother-in-law after her husband’s death at a young age, not worrying about what her future would look like. It is actually what Jesus Christ did when he died on the cross forgiving those who rejected and crucified Him.

On the contrary, the Spirit of God teaches us to bless those who curse us, to love the unlovable, to forgive the worst of sins, to embrace the lonely.

In today’s world, it is so easy for us Christians to be ‘worldly’, to go with the flow, to please the world and live the way culture demands us to and according to our flesh. The Corinthians were doing that, they were going with the worldly culture – that demanded idolising someone, that demanded showing themselves greater than one another and that demanded fighting their way forward. The world and flesh refuses to submit to correction, refuses to love those who are against us, and refuses to forgive those who have hurt us. On the contrary, the Spirit of God teaches us to bless those who curse us, to love the unlovable, to forgive the worst of sins, to embrace the lonely. The Spirit of God teaches us to trust God and take steps that seem like foolishness in this world but wisdom in Him. Like Mary, the mother of Jesus, who didn’t let go of the child she conceived as a virgin, instead bore the shame in society to bring forth the Messiah, the savior of the world. Like the disciple Peter, who walked on the water when the waves were crashing and heavy winds were blowing. Paul says in Galatians 5 : 22-25 – But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.  Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.

Maturity in Christ means keeping in step with the Spirit and living according to God’s standard.

Are you being God-led or World-led? Introspect and ask yourself.

Say this prayer with me if you desire growing out of infancy to maturity in Christ – Lord, would you help me to grow from infancy by living according to this world’s standard to maturity by being completely led by your Spirit. Give me the spirit of discernment to discern between what is from you and what is not, that I may walk in step with you. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.

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STANDING ON SOLID GROUND

GROWTH METER: MERE INFANTS OR MATURE IN CHRIST?

Series : PART I

About the series

A lot of us have come to the point where we believe in Jesus. Some of us are also dedicated to go to church, participate in church activities, and sometimes even lead groups, worship, children’s ministry and so on. But, when it comes to our walk with Jesus, we move on with life and watch ourselves constantly going back and forth with the core aspects of our faith like overcoming sin, our very belief and faith in Jesus, indecisive about what is good and evil and so on. Why is that? It is simply because we are not making efforts to GROW, to MATURE in Christ. There are three portions of Scripture where our growth in Christ is compared to the growth of an infant to adulthood – and this is a great growth meter for us to see where we stand in our life. In this three-part series, we are going to learn why we should not be infants and instead become those who are mature in Christ and how to do this.


So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.

Ephesians 4 : 11 – 16

Have you seen a little baby, an infant, moving around? I’m a mother of an infant now and I often observe that my child does not stay on a particular object or in a particular space for more than a few seconds. She does not even know which object is good for her and which is not, and so she goes around trying to touch, pick and put everything that she comes across in her mouth.

When Paul addresses the church in Ephesus, one thing that He tells them is that all the works of service is for the church to be built up until we become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.

Then He points out to this aspect about infants – how they easily believe and follow anything that seems good to their senses. He says in Ephesians 4 : 14-15, “Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming.  Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.”

What does Paul mean by ‘infants being tossed back and forth by the waves’? He’s talking about how when tough situations hit some people, they are tossed back and forth. They are not stable. At one point, they say I will pray about the situation but in no time they question if God can possibly answer, help or deliver them. Being tossed around means – not fully trusting God, instead also following the opinions, suggestions and ways of the world.

For some people, who are like infants, these waves are their emotions. They feel really good when someone says something that they can hear and accept, but get utterly offended when they are corrected, rebuked or even redirected in another way. They feel happy when appreciated, but feel upset and snubbed if their work is not acknowledged. They show love to those who are good to them, but mock or ignore those who are not. They feel jealous of those doing better than them and feel boastful or superior over those that they assume are not doing as good as them.

Another aspect of those of us who are like infants is that they are blown by every wind of teaching and deceived by the craftiness of certain people. They are people who blindly believe certain teachings, traditions and beliefs, which have been passed down or taught to them, without checking what the word of God says about those things.

If we remain infants in our faith, it is as if we know the very basic things and think we can survive on that knowledge.

Just like a little baby is clueless and gullible, those who remain as infants in their faith in Jesus Christ, tend to lose track and are easily stirred by teachings, emotions or circumstances that come their way. This is simply because they know very little and try to face the world with that. This is, in fact, why infants need parents supervision all the time. If we remain infants in our faith, it is as if we know the very basic things and think we can survive on that knowledge. No! That is why, Paul tells us that we should no longer be infants, but grow and become mature in Christ.

So who is mature in Christ?

He answers that too. He says that mature people speak the truth in love. They speak it and they live it.

A person who is mature in Christ is completely reliant on the word of God and surrendered to God’s will. Everything that such a person does is based on the word of God as a solid foundation. That is why, if trials, temptations or even wrong teachings come their way, they are not moved. They constantly seek God to learn His truth and put it into practice to become mature in Christ.

Jesus also taught His disciples this key instruction. He used the example of a wise man who builds his house on a rock and a foolish man who builds his house on sand (Matthew 7 : 24-27). Jesus compares the man who builds his house on sand to someone who hears the word of God, believes it but does not practice it. And, he compares the wise man who builds his house on a rock to someone who hears the word of God and puts it to practice. Waves come, wind blows – the wise man’s house stands, while the foolish man’s house is destroyed.

This is exactly what Paul was saying too. If we believe in the elementary truths about Jesus and then remain satisfied with that without living out God’s word in every area of our life, growing in our calling and understanding deeper truths of God, we will remain infants – easily tossed around. But, that is not wise and that is not what God desires of us.

A person who is mature in Christ is completely reliant on the word of God and surrendered to God’s will. Everything that such a person does is based on the word of God as a solid foundation.

What God desires of us is to mature – to reach a point where we can know and speak His truth in love. We can grow towards maturity in Christ when we diligently seek Him in prayer, grow in our knowledge and understanding of Him through His word and obey Him in the smallest to greatest decisions of our lives.

Peter says in 2 Peter 3 : 18, “But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ…”

Let me tell you, we are all on the journey of reaching complete maturity as Paul says in 1 Corinthians 13 : 12, “For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.”

So, the question to ask yourself is – Am I easily tossed around by situations, my emotions, wrong teachings or beliefs? Am I able to grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus? Am I growing closer to Him in prayer?

Grow in maturity by standing on the solid ground of believing and practicing God’s word in every area of your life, unlike infants who know very little and are easily swayed by whatever comes their way.

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BE SET FREE

Series: Understanding Scriptures

Part 4

A lot of us love hearing sermons, worshipping Jesus but when it comes to reading the Bible, we slack behind. I’ve heard common reasons like “I don’t like reading much”, “I don’t have time to read, so I just pray”, “I feel sleepy”. Let me tell you, it is by knowing (understanding) the TRUTH (the word of God), that you and I can be set free from chains, bondage and every weapon that the enemy attacks us with. That is why Jesus told those who believed in Him, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

I know there are so many of us who read the bible, maybe every day, and still do not experience this freedom or closeness to God. Do you know why? It is simply because you are reading the bible like any other book, sometimes just for the sake of following what your parents or church or friend taught you.

That is not going to work.

Jesus asked us to ‘hold’ to His teaching. Holding on to someone’s teaching would mean to accept it, imbibe it and follow it practically in our life. No wonder He said that only those who ‘hold’ to His teaching are really his disciples. In Matthew, 7 : 21, Jesus said that in the end some will come to Him saying ‘we prophesied in your name’, ‘we did this in your name or that in your name’, but He won’t ‘know’ them. Why? He says, it is because they didn’t do what He wanted them to do. They didn’t do His will. The real disciples of Jesus are those, who by understanding His word and practicing it in their lives, do the will of God.

Know the truth and the truth will set you free. This truth that Jesus talked about is the very words in the Bible that you have with you in your rooms. The only way to learn how to hold on to God’s word is by meditating on it through prayer and dependence on the Holy Spirit, by allowing the Holy Spirit to minister to you through God’s word.

Holding on to someone’s teaching would mean to accept it, imbibe it and follow it practically in our life. No wonder He said that only those who ‘hold’ to His teaching are really his disciples.

Too long and too many times, we see Christians struggle. Struggling to overcome sin, sinful patterns, an addiction, a broken relationship, an emotional breakdown, and certain ungodly traditional mind-sets and so on. But, the fact is that someone who believes in Jesus and has access to His Word and Spirit really need not struggle with these. If only we understand His word, the truth, all these shackles around us will begin to break and we’ll be set free.

The word of God is the SWORD OF THE SPIRIT (Ephesians 6 : 17) and any sword is meant to be used to fight against enemies. So, the Word of God is key to fight all those enemies attacking you and tying you down.

Let’s BE SET FREE –

  • FROM BEING SLAVES TO SIN TO BECOMING SLAVES TO RIGHTEOUSNESS

When we meditate on God’s word and allow God to work in our hearts by making us obedient to His teaching, the WORD will sanctify us (John 17:17). The word of God in us will help us overcome sin and do what is right.

Obeying God’s teaching redeems us from being tied down by sinful patterns and sets us free to live Godly lives.

Paul says this in his letter to Romans, “But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you have come to obey from your heart the pattern of teaching that has now claimed your allegiance. You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness… But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life” (Romans 6 : 17-18, 22).  

Obeying God’s teaching redeems us from being tied down by sinful patterns and sets us free to live Godly lives.  

  • FROM DISOBEDIENCE TO PURPOSE

In Colossians 3 : 9,10 – Paul reminds believers in Colossae about putting off their old self (when they disobeyed and rebelled against God and His will for their lives) because they are now made new through the knowledge that they received in Christ Jesus.

Understanding scripture transforms us inside out and we will then know the will and purpose God has for us.

The word of God, as James puts it, acts like a mirror to show us what is wrong in us and in turn, we realise the right way and the purpose for our lives. When we understand the word, we are set free from disobedience and our minds our renewed to understand God’s will and purpose for us. And, we all know that if we pursue God’s purpose for our life, it will only bring forth fruit and fruit that will last. That is what Paul says in Romans 12 : 2 – “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

Yes, understanding scripture transforms us inside out and we will then know the will and purpose God has for us.

  • FROM CONDEMNATION TO CONVICTION & REPENTANCE

“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.” (Romans 8 : 1-2)

Jesus Christ died on the cross for the forgiveness of sins of all mankind, and through Him we now have access to everlasting life.

It is true that you need to realise your sins and turn away from them, but in Jesus you are set free from condemnation and guilt.

Paul is reiterating this truth to the church in Rome – that if we believe in Jesus, we are no longer going to be condemned but we will only be convicted of our sins for which Jesus has already forgiven us. God desires repentance from us, not guilt. It is true that you need to realise your sins and turn away from them, but in Jesus you are set free from condemnation and guilt.

  • FROM DEPRESSION TO REJOICING

King David is pouring out his heart before God, and then He declares, “You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.” (Psalms 16 : 11)

This path of life is God’s instruction and word that guides us into His presence that will fill us with his everlasting JOY. When we are depressed and low, going to God’s word and understanding ( knowing and believing) what He is saying, turns our sorrow to joy. It gives us eternal pleasure and not earthly or temporary joy, setting us free from the yoke of darkness that enslaves us (Psalms 107:14).

Beloved, understanding scriptures will help set you free from every bondage that stands against you. Reach out to God, read His word, listen to Him and obey His word, and watch shackles break away from your life.

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BEARING FRUIT THAT LASTS

SERIES: Understanding Scriptures – Part 3

“You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will last.”

JOHN 15 : 16

Have you tried to change that habit or that sin over and over again and failed? Or you’ve tried to do better in life but continue to struggle? Jesus says in John 15 : 5, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”

Jesus is reminding us here that we can do nothing without him. Therefore, the only way that we can be fruitful is when we ‘abide’ in Him. 

What does abiding mean? It means to stay connected with and in the person, or thing. As Jesus describes it, the branches need to be connected to the vine in order for it to bear much fruit. It needs to abide in the vine so that it can be strengthened and nourished. The branches once broken or disconnected from the vine will automatically dry up and bear no fruit.

What you abide in, is what you become. And so, if we want to bear fruit, fruit that will last for eternity – we must abide in Christ, who is eternal. 

You see, we could abide in anything. Abide in our family, in relationships, in our career, in our leaders or mentors and everything in this world. Yet, sadly but truthfully, none of that can sustain us and none of that will help us bear fruit the way we are meant to. At some point, we will dry up and fall away. 

That is why Jesus said, ‘I am the TRUE vine’, and ‘apart from me you can do nothing’. Why would Jesus make such a statement? It is because he is not talking about bearing fruit for this earthly life alone, he is talking about bearing fruit for eternity. You see, if we abide in any other vine like our career, we can earn loads of money and soar high, but that will cost us our family, our relationship with God and so much more. The same goes when we abide in anything of this world, the result will be bearing fruit only in that aspect. Whereas, when we abide in Christ, we will bear fruit in every way, beginning with an inward change that shines through on the outward. 

We are ‘jars of clay’ – weak, feeble and breakable. But, when we allow God’s word and truth to dwell inside us, we immediately become valuable because the power of Christ in us transforms us.

Also, these branches of a vine are not strong and sturdy, instead they’re really flimsy and weak. Yet, it is this weakness that gives them reason to stay with the true vine that builds them up. It is the same with us. As Paul puts it, we are ‘jars of clay’ – weak, feeble and breakable. But, when we allow God’s word and truth to dwell inside us, we immediately become valuable because the power of Christ in us transforms us. This is why we need to abide in Christ. In Matthew 7:17, Jesus says, “Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit.”

What you invest in is what you will harvest. If you invest your time, energy and efforts in filling yourself with earthly things, you will bear fruit accordingly. And, if you invest in filling yourself with godly things, you will see yourself becoming godly. What you abide in, is what you become. And so, if we want to bear fruit, fruit that will last for eternity – we must abide in Christ, who is eternal. 

So, how do we really abide in Christ? Jesus answers that too, in John 15 : 3-4, “You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you.  Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.”

Abiding in Christ really means understanding His word and obeying it. We can stay connected to Christ through His word. When we soak ourselves in God’s word, we begin to abide in Him, stay in Him, rest in Him, remain in Him and eventually bear fruit. It is not about merely reading God’s word, but more about understanding it and obeying it. 

In John 17 : 17, Jesus prays that we would be ‘sanctified’ through the word. This is why understanding scriptures is very crucial to us staying connected to Christ and bearing fruit. 

Abiding in Christ really means understanding His word and obeying it.

Paul reminds us in Ephesians 4 : 17 -24, that we need to stop living the way we lived, before we knew Christ. And, he points out that those who don’t believe in Christ are ‘darkened in their understanding’ and so separated from God. But we who believe in Jesus, have been taught (through the word of God) to put off our old self and be made new in the attitude of our minds. He shows us how understanding God’s word truly transforms us and helps us bear much fruit. He repeats the same in Romans 12:2, where he says, ‘be transformed by the renewing of your mind’. 

Even when we look at the life of Joseph, one of the sons of Jacob, who was betrayed by his own brothers and sold off as a slave. We see how because he abides in God, he bears the fruit of forgiveness and love. In Genesis 50:20, he was able to love his brothers who betrayed him only because He understood God’s heart, His word.

Understanding scriptures is very crucial to us staying connected to Christ and bearing fruit. 

Beloved, if you are struggling to see fruit in your life, go back to God and stay connected to Him by understanding His word and you will see how you bear so much fruit that lasts forever.

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GROWING INTIMACY WITH GOD

SERIES: Understanding Scriptures – Part 2

Have you ever watched a shepherd calling out and leading his sheep? It is a fascinating affair. All that the shepherd does is speak a word to call out to them, and in no time, his sheep listen to him from no matter how far they are, come to him, and flock around him.

Watch this short clip to
see how the sheep hear their
shepherd’s voice
and flock around him!

Source:
https://youtu.be/Coq_grSFlNs

It is no wonder that Jesus used the relationship between a shepherd and his sheep as a parable to explain His relationship with those who love Him and believe in Him.

In John 10 : 14, Jesus says, “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me”. Jesus does not say ‘all sheep’, ‘few sheep’, ‘many sheep’, but He says ‘my sheep’. You see, not every sheep is His sheep. There are only a set of sheep that are Jesus’ sheep. So, how is Jesus separating His sheep? How are the ones who He is calling ‘my sheep’ different from the rest?

He gives us the answer in John 10 : 27, where He says, “My sheep listen to my voice, I know them, and they follow me”. That is it. His sheep listen to His voice and follow Him. Like the sheep of any shepherd, who listen to their shepherd’s voice and follow him.

Listening to the shepherd’s voice goes beyond merely hearing his voice. It is a process of understanding, accepting and obeying what He says. It involves a sense of commitment to the shepherd. The sheep have to commit to train themselves to recognise their shepherd’s voice from all the other voices. They have to stay under the guidance of their shepherd. And, it is only by listening to their shepherd’s voice constantly, that the sheep begin to know their shepherd, and the shepherd begins to know them.

The key to go from knowing about God to knowing God is listening to His voice and following Him.

It is one thing to know about someone, but another thing to know the person. I can know about the president of my country, but do I really know the president of my country personally? In the same way, some of us know about Jesus, about God; but only some know God. Today, let us become sheep who know their shepherd unlike the sheep that wander hopelessly lost without one.

We can know our Lord Jesus intimately, but the only way is by listening to His voice – understanding His word. The key to go from knowing about God to knowing God is listening to His voice and following Him. The Bible is full of God’s words to us, his voice to us. His words are there to teach us, train us, correct us and rebuke us (as Paul puts it in 2 Timothy 3 : 16). But, the question is – Are we listening to His words? Are we understanding and obeying them?

There are 3 keys to listening to our good shepherd’s voice to grow in intimacy with Him –

  • STAY CLOSE AND CONNECTED TO HIM

Spending more time meditating on God’s word is one of the most important aspects of listening to His voice. The Bible teaches us that all scripture is God-breathed. So, that in turn means that we need God’s help, through the Holy Spirit, to understand His word. That is why just reading the Bible with no desire to understand God will become a mundane task that is religious and forceful. However, reading the bible to truly understand God with the help of the Holy Spirit will fill us with an unquenchable thirst for more of Him.

Stay in the light of His presence, and see how the Lord becomes your closest companion!

Job, at a time when he had lost everything including his wife, said in Job 23 : 11, “My feet have closely followed his steps…”. How did Job endure all that He was going through and not doubt God? It was simply because he was so close and intimate with God. The only way he could believe in God at that point was because he understood God’s word; a result of him walking closely in step with God.

The Psalmist says in Psalms 89 : 15, “Blessed are those who have learned to acclaim you,
    who walk in the light of your presence, Lord.”

Stay in the light of His presence, and see how the Lord becomes your closest companion!

  • LET HIS WORD BE THE FINAL WORD

Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.”

Beloved, closeness to God is so intricately knit to obeying His word. Jesus wants to make His home with us and be with us all the time, only if we can truly accept Him in our lives by obeying what He says. Your disobedience to Christ reflects your distrust in Him and His ways, which inevitably pulls you away from His heart.

When you and I put God’s words above our thoughts, the thoughts of this world and the lies of Satan, we immediately begin to embrace His closeness to us and our lives. Slowly, everything in our life becomes an easy affair of handing over our situations to Him and resting in His presence.

Jesus wants to make His home with us and be with us all the time, only if we can truly accept Him in our lives by obeying what He says.

Look at Shedrach Meshach Abednego in Daniel 3, simply because they let God’s word to them be their final word, God himself walked with them in the fire. Close to them in the furnace!

  • PURSUE HIS DEEPEST DESIRES

Something so unique about Moses was that he is the only man whom the Lord knew face to face in all of Israel (Deuteronomy 34 : 10). Wow! Don’t you long to be in that place? How did Moses get so close to the Lord? Well, as we read his journey with the Lord, we see how Moses often secluded himself from everything and everyone and pursued God in the tent of meeting. He feared the Lord. He longed for God.

God will confide His heart’s deepest desires to those who pursue Him in reverent fear.

And, the word of God says, in Psalms 25:14, “The LORD confides in those who fear him; he makes his covenant known to them.”

God will confide His heart’s deepest desires to those who pursue Him in reverent fear. He wants to make his covenant known to us. But are we pursuing Him? Are we longing to know Him more and more?

The journey of knowing God is endless. Each time you know Him a little more, there is still more to know. That is why, this is so crucial to listening to His voice – longing to know God’s deepest desires.

Truly understanding God’s word and following it is key to drawing closer to His heart.


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CULTIVATING A STEADFAST MIND

SERIES: Understanding Scriptures – Part 1

How often do we find ourselves fluctuating between good and bad moods, joy and sorrow, fearlessness and being fearful, like a wave tossed back and forth, high and low? For some of us, this is a reality that we are getting used to and beginning to live with.

Yet, the word of God tells us that this is not God’s will for us. In fact, the Bible teaches us to rejoice ‘always’, to give thanks to God in ‘all’ circumstances. God wants us to be steadfast in our lives, relationships, purposes and more than anything, in our minds. A steadfast mind is one that is unwavering and at peace at all times because it is a mind that trusts the Lord, His heart and His word. Isaiah puts it clearly – You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you (Isaiah 26 : 3)

God wants us to be steadfast in our lives, relationships, purposes and more than anything, in our minds.

This constant fluctuation in our mind and emotions results in hurtful, broken and wrong attitudes and responses.

In the Gospels, we notice that there is something different in the responses of Jesus’ disciples (particularly Peter) about Jesus’ death and resurrection at two different occasions.

In Matthew 16 : 21-22, we see Peter, the one who knew that Jesus was ‘the Messiah’, rebuke (reprove) Jesus when He tells them about how He is going to suffer at the hands of the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that He must be killed and after three days rise again. Peter told Jesus, “Never, Lord! This shall never happen to you!” He didn’t understand that what Jesus was saying was to fulfil scriptures. Then, Jesus rebukes him back, even calling him ‘satan’. He points out to Peter, ‘you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns’. Jesus knew that the reason Peter was overcome with sadness and fear was because his mind was being ruled by the flesh and not the Spirit of God, the word of God. He knew that Peter’s mind was closed and he could not understand what Jesus said.

Later, in an instance after Jesus’ resurrection where he met the disciples and then ascended to heaven, Luke records that they (the disciples) worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy and they stayed continually at the temple, praising God (Luke 24 : 51-53).

The same disciple, Peter, who was at one point sad and fearful about Jesus’ death and resurrection, was filled with ‘great joy’ and ‘praised God continually’ after Jesus’ ascension to heaven.

Wonder what changed it all for him? How did he transform from being sad to having great joy about the same situation?

Well, we see that just before Jesus ascended to heaven, He opened their (disciples) minds to understand scriptures (Luke 24 : 45). That opening of their mind to understand scriptures not only changed Peter’s perspective of Jesus’ death and resurrection but also changed his heart. His heart was now filled with great joy.

Beloved, it is going to be very easy for some of us to waver, be fearful and shaken by what is happening in our lives and around us. Sometimes the fear of the past troubles us, sometimes the worries of the present or, sometimes insecurities of the future. Peter, too, was shaken, upset, fearful, and worried by the thought that his Master and Teacher was going to die. Note that though Jesus did share about rising again on the third day, Peter’s focus was on his Master’s death.

That opening of their mind to understand scriptures not only changed Peter’s perspective of Jesus’ death and resurrection but also changed his heart. His heart was now filled with great joy.

You may know scriptures, even read them regularly, but unless you allow God to help you understand them, God’s word will not quite transform you. True transformation that changes us inside out is a result of understanding (which includes believing) the word of God. So ask God to open your mind to understand His word just as He opened Peter’s mind – who now understood that the resurrection of Jesus succeeded his death. That the resurrection of Jesus is the hope of all mankind to overcome sin and death by believing in Jesus. When Peter’s mind was opened to understand God’s word, we see that he was filled with great joy – a transformed response. Pray and persist in prayer to have open minds to understand the word of God.

Your situation might seem miserable, but run back to the word of God. What does God tell you in His word? Is your mind open to understand it? If you allow God to minister to you through His word in your toughest battles, and your mind is open to understand it, your mind will be steadfast. You will begin to be at peace even when the harshest storm rages around you.  

Peter’s mind was once concerned about not having Jesus beside him in the world, but now His mind was concerned about taking the resurrected Jesus to the ends of the world. Once wavering, but now steadfast. This shift in his response and attitude was only because his mind was now opened to understand God’s word.

Open your mind to understand His word, trust Him and you will see your mind being steadfast. A steadfast mind that will keep you in perfect peace and fill you with great joy!


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AN INWARD SHINE, TRUE HOLINESS

‘Wash me White as Snow’

An earnest prayer of a humble king

It is so easy for us, as human beings, to portray on the outside what we want others to see in us. There are so many times, we catch ourselves off-guard portraying something so different on the outside from what is really in our hearts. Thinking evil on the inside, portraying goodness on the outside. Lustful in thoughts, but acting pure on the outside. Judging on the inside but portraying agreement on the outside. Righteous on the outside but wicked on the inside.

So called ‘holy’ on the outside, but wretched, bitter and unclean on the inside.

In 2 Peter 3:11,12 , Peter says, “Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives, as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming…” He is reminding believers that in the end, when the bridegroom comes, the bride needs to be found “holy and godly”. We, the church and bride, need to prepare ourselves. But, the question is, what does it really mean to be holy in God’s sight?

The Pharisees and teachers of the law knew scripture and they condemned anyone who didn’t follow it to the letter. But, do you know what Jesus called them? He called them, ‘White washed tombs’ in Matthew 23:27. He pointed out on how they were righteous on the outside but hypocrites on the inside. Most of us know and have seen one of the seven wonders of the world – ‘Taj Mahal’. It is breath taking to view from the outside. Numerous historians and artists have failed to sum up its beauty in words. Yet, inside, it is dark and dingy. The Pharisees knew it all, but didn’t do it all. They said the right things, but did the wrong things. They were teachers of the law, but scorners of Christ himself. It is just like going to church all clean and tidy but gossiping about your fellow brother or sister. It is like judging someone for keeping their eyes open in prayer, but keeping your eyes closed and your mind elsewhere during your prayer. This outward show is not the holiness that Christ desires to see in His bride.

The true holiness that Christ desires in each of us is beautifully portrayed in King David, a man after God’s own heart, also a man who had committed adultery. To God, King David is like snow. Just as David prayed, ‘Wash me white as snow’. Like snow, clean inside out. In his prayer of repentance, David shows us how we can truly be holy –

  • ACKNOWLEDGE YOUR NEED FOR HOLINESS

David cries out to God in Psalms 51:3-5, “For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight; so you are right in your verdict and justified when you judge. Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.”

The beginning of becoming holy is identifying the stains, the dark spots in your life and acknowledging them before God.

He acknowledges his sin before God. It is one thing to commit a sin, but it takes humility to accept and acknowledge one’s sin before God, the most Holy one. The beginning of becoming holy is identifying the stains, the dark spots in your life and acknowledging them before God.

Paul, the apostle who took the gospel to the gentiles and established churches, says that he does what he doesn’t want to do and he doesn’t do what he wants to do. He acknowledges what a wretched man he is and how he is thankful to God who saved his life. (Romans 7:14-15,24-25)

  • HOLINESS IS A GOD-GIVEN TREASURE

This king, with all his might and power, knew that he cannot overcome his sinful nature on his own. He knew only God could make him clean, so he asked God, ‘Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.’ (Psalms 51:7)

When we seek God’s grace and remind ourselves of what Christ did for us on the cross, we will begin to see holiness emerging in our lives.

That is why Jesus had to die for us. God knew that man cannot overcome sin by his own efforts, so he sent His only son. Paul captures this crucial truth while comparing the relationship of a husband and a wife to that of Christ and the church. He says, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.” (Ephesians 5:25-27)

That’s why Paul admonishes us in Romans 13:14, to clothe ourselves with the Christ (who is our righteousness) and not gratify the desires of our flesh. When we seek God’s grace and remind ourselves of what Christ did for us on the cross, we will begin to see holiness emerging in our lives.

  • KNOWING GOD IS KNOWING HOLINESS

Something amazing about David’s relationship with God was He knew God intimately. In Psalms 51:1, 6, we see that he knows that God’s love is unfailing, that God is great in compassion and that God desires faithfulness from man and taught us wisdom in the womb. Because David knew this, he was able to understand what holiness means. He knew God is holy.

Knowing God’s word (His heart) is very crucial to be sanctified and made holy.

Peter also realizes the truth that knowing who God is will guide us to know what true holiness is. He says in 1 Peter 1:15-16, “But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”

Knowing God’s word (His heart) is very crucial to be sanctified and made holy. So, Paul prays for the church in Philippines, ‘…this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ,filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God.” (Philippians 1:9-11)

  • WILLING TO ATTAIN HOLINESS

True holiness also involves your desire to be made holy. King David, in Psalms 51:10 says, “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.”

That is why, in Isaiah 1:18, God calls us to go to Him and settle the matter. And He promises to make us white as snow.

He asks God to make him holy which shows his willingness to be made holy. We need to reach out to God. That is why, in Isaiah 1:18, God calls us to go to Him and settle the matter. And He promises to make us white as snow.

Paul also reached out to God. He is willing to press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of him (Philippians 3 : 12)

  • HOLINESS BEGINS AS AN INWARD CHANGE NOT AN OUTWARD SHOW

True transformation begins from your heart which flows out to every area of your life. And, King David understood this very well. So he tells God in Psalms 51:16,17, “You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise”.

True holiness is an inward cleansing that makes all things clean, but false holiness demands our effort to only make the outward clean.

Jesus rebuked the Pharisees and teachers of the law, “Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.” (Matthew 23:26) Beloved, true holiness is an inward cleansing that makes all things clean, but false holiness demands our effort to only make the outward clean.

His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires. 2 Peter 1 : 3,4

Holiness cannot be attained by man-made efforts alone, it is a God-given treasure to be sought out! The resurrection power of Christ is at work in us.

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