Written by Bro. Christopher Tharalla
Printed in May, 2012
The following people for their prayers and fellowship:
Apostle B. V. Ebenezer - who not only water-baptized me but also ordained me for ministry.
Bro. A. Ravi kumar Reddy and Sis. Vimala Reddy - for their encouragement and opening new avenues for ministering.
Bro. Duke Jeyaraj and Sis. Evangelin - for their inspiration to write.
Bro. G. Chitty Suvarna Rao - for his consistent companionship in ministering.
Bro. Benedict James Jayapaul - for his ministerial advice.
Bro. Ravi Kiran Parry - for ‘being with me’, wherever he may be.
Bro. Thomas George - for being always ready to help.
Bro. B. S. Raj Kumar - for firmly standing by me at all times.
Bro. K. P. Sudhakar - for his brotherly-concern.
Bro. N. Balachandran (Gideon) - for his love and support.
And the list goes on . . .
In the year 2005, when we came to the city of Hyderabad following the dictates of God to establish a ministry to bless the Google Generation, God has already spoken to a certain man of God, unknown to us at that time, to render help to us. That man of God was Bro. Christopher, eldest son of Late Rev. Tharalla Isaac Chinniah, CSI, Medak Diocese, the author of this book. He was amazingly sensitive to the Voice of God that spoke to him in his spirit that he came to our rented home and kept helping us in many ways, even as we struggled to place our roots in the city of Hyderabad. And in this book he talks about the same topic – hearing the voice of God through events we encounter in our lives. His presentations here merit concentrated reading and quick life application because it comes from a man who has been listening to God’s Voice in his many years of close walk with God, amidst many challenges and turmoil. In this book, you will also discover deep answers to questions that you may have on various aspects of your Christian life. These answers are straight from God’s Word and down-to-earth practical. One of the highlights of this book is that it is dotted with anecdotes and illustrations that will stay in your heart long after you have read them. “The music in my heart I bore; long after it was heard no more!” so goes a line from the poem “The Solitary Reaper.” “The message of this book in my heart I bore; long after it was heard no more!” – That was our testimony when we first read this book. It will be yours as well. We wish God’s bountiful blessing upon this book written by our dear brother and hardworking laborer in God’s Vineyard. We wish that you chew this book, for men like him, who teach God’s Word faithfully, without any ulterior motive, without expecting any worldly reward, are quite rare these days. God bless you!
Duke Jeyaraj & Evangelin Duke
1 May 2012
II. Listen through the events to be saved
III. Listen through the events to come closer to God
IV. Listen through the events to know the will of God
V. Listen through the events due to rebellion
A man had been under a curse for 30 years. He walked for miles over rugged terrain and climbed a mountain to find a guru who could free him. When he got to the top of the mountain, the guru asked, “Why have you come?” He said, “I need for you to remove a curse that was placed on me.”
The guru said, “I can remove the curse, but I must know the exact words that were used to put the curse on you. What were they?” The man answered, “The words were: ‘I now pronounce you husband and wife!’" ( kentcrockett.com)
Laugh and forget it! Yes, this is what we generally do after reading anything like this.
And please read this event:
In the spring of 1894, the Baltimore Orioles came to Boston to play a routine baseball game. But what happened that day was anything but routine. The Orioles John McGraw got into a fight with the Boston third baseman. Within minutes all the players from both teams had joined in the brawl. The warfare quickly spread to the grandstands. Among the fans the conflict went from bad to worse. Someone set fire to the stands and the entire ballpark burned to the ground. Not only that, but the fire spread to 107 other Boston buildings as well. (Our Daily Bread, August 13, 1992)
We have to think seriously about this incident. Doesn’t this tell us how dangerous anger is, how fast it spreads and how much damage it can cause?
Some events are very pleasant to experience and interesting to listen-to. But many times circumstances leave us really confused. Why we ask, do those things happen, things that are really confusing and frustrating? The fact is every event that we read or hear about or experience has a message from God for us. And we are expected to get that message and apply to our life so that we can be saved from going to hell, come closer to God and fulfill His will for our life, so that we will not be rebels in His sight.
We should believe the fact that listening to God is very vital as it gives purpose for our living and a direction for our life. Whenever He speaks, He has a clear cut intention and purpose to accomplish as we read in Job 33:17 (CEV): “God does this to make us turn from sin and pride.” Job 33:14 (CEV) says: “God speaks in different ways and we don't always recognize his voice.” Let us decide to listen and make sure whether we are in His will or not.
The purpose of writing this book is with the hope that the reader will take some time to look into the past or present and sense what God has been trying to tell us through the circumstances, in the light of what follows in this book. We shall briefly look at some of the Scriptural passages in the Bible which throws light on certain events and the messages that emerge out of such events. Please continue to read this book to know about listening to His voice through events. The events taken from various web sites are printed in italics.
Yes, at least now, let us listen to the Lord through our circumstances or events.
II. Listen through the events to be saved
In Luke 5th chapter, we read about Peter and his companions who tried all night to catch fish in vain. But upon heeding to Jesus’ suggestion, they got a ‘net-breaking and boat-sinking miracle,’ as some put it. When blessed with such great catch, what was expected of Peter? Naturally, he was expected to thank the Lord, but instead, he made a statement that gives us tremendous insight. We find that in Luke 5:8 (CEV): when Simon Peter saw this happen, he knelt down in front of Jesus and said, "Lord, don't come near me! I am a sinner." It’s obvious, Peter realized that he was not worthy to receive such a great blessing. He felt convicted of his sinful nature that made him confess that he was a sinner.
We should compare our past with present situation. Is there any change in our spiritual life? Growth in material or financial areas is good but that cannot be the purpose for our living. Usually, material blessings are the by-product when one’s spiritual life is good. All is not well with a person who is not growing spiritually, even if he is prospering materially or financially. Such people have a message from the Lord saying: ‘even through you are rebellious; I am blessing you so that you will realize your unworthiness and turn to me.’
In Luke 19, we read about Zacchaeus. The Lord decided not just to visit his house but to have a meal with him. This deed of Jesus puzzled the people around as it was well-known that Zacchaeus was not honest in his profession. The result was Zacchaeus repented of his sins and promised to restitute for his cheatings. Thus, he was won over by the Lord. To draw people unto Himself, the Lord first blesses them so that they would realize that they are not worthy of these blessings and repent of their sins. These blessings may be called repentance-oriented blessings. Such people should not think that it is because of their goodness that they received the blessings. Of course, not all blessings are repentance-oriented blessings. Our own conscience will tell us what kind of blessings we are being blessed with.
If the repentance-oriented blessing is not achieving its intended purpose, the Lord may change the circumstances, like, taking away our material or financial blessings or allowing certain problems, so that we will turn to God for help, as it happened to King Nebuchadnezzar. Daniel 4:32 (GNB) says: “You will be driven away from human society, live with wild animals, and eat grass like an ox for seven years. Then you will acknowledge that the Supreme God has power over human kingdoms and that he can give them to anyone he chooses.” Indeed, God humbles the proud and gives grace to the humble. Finally, King Nebuchadnezzar justifies God’s punishment. Daniel 4:37 (GNB) says: "And now, I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise, honor, and glorify the King of Heaven. Everything he does is right and just, and he can humble anyone who acts proudly." Such problems may be called repentance-oriented problems.
It is quite possible for a rebel to be unaware of his rebellion. He may even defend to be an obedient person. Anyway, God uses correctional- methods that are best suitable for us, however hurtful they may be for which we alone are responsible. For our own good, He tries to drill sense into us by cornering us through circumstances, thus, try to draw us unto Himself. You may say: “but Lord is very loving and faithful.” No doubt He is, but because He is faithful, He faithfully punishes us. Psalms 119:75 (GNB) says: “I know that your judgments are righteous, LORD, and that you punished me because you are faithful.” Again Psalmist declares in Psalms 119:71(GNB): “My punishment was good for me, because it made me learn your commands.”
Salvation is free
A young man was very happy when he found an opening in the army after struggling to get a job for a very long time. After sometime, he wrote a letter to his mother expressing his happiness in the new environment with so many facilities available, like free accommodation, free education for children in schools, etc. Later, his mother was informed about her son’s death in action. Yes in army everything is free, but a price has to be paid. This is what the Lord has done; He paid the price with His death on the cross so that we can freely enjoy the whole precious package of blessings like forgiveness for our sins, clear-conscience, peace, happiness and eternal life.
Revelation 20:15 says, those whose names are not written in the book of life will be thrown into the lake of fire, which is hell. Hell is a place where one will be tormented day and night, forever (Revelation 20:10). Matthew 23:33 says, none can escape hell, unless, as the Scripture says, the free gift of salvation through Jesus Christ is accepted.
Be saved with all humility
Read this incident:
It was John Wesley’s belief that he would preach to the Indians (in Georgia) and lead them to Christ. Wesley sailed for Georgia, America from England on October 14, 1735. On the four month long trip, a storm came up suddenly and broke the main mast. While the Englishmen were crying, a group of Moravians (who were Germans) calmly sang hymns and prayed. John Wesley was impressed by their personal faith in the face of a dangerous, life-threatening storm. He became convinced of his inner weakness while the Moravians seemed to possess an inner strength he did not. It was through his friendship with Moravians that Wesley discovered what seemed to be missing in his faith. (Adapted from Wikipedia)
Indeed, it requires real humility on the part of a ‘preacher’ to sincerely accept whatever spiritual-lack exists and to pursue the matter until the need is met.
Some one is said to have asked Wesley, "Are you sure, Mr. Wesley, of your salvation?" "Well," he answered, "Jesus Christ died for the whole world." But again he was asked, "Yes, we all believe that; but are you sure that you are saved?" Wesley replied that he was sure that provision had been made for his salvation. The third time he was asked, "But are you sure, Wesley, that you are saved?" It is said in his biography that it went like an arrow to his heart, and he had no rest or power until that question was settled. (Moody’s Anecdotes)
Does not this prove that it is possible for one to live a ‘Christian’ life or ‘serve’ God or even ‘preach’ Christ, without actually being saved?
Martyn Luther, once said, “It is one thing to say, ‘Christ is a savior’ and quite another thing to say ‘Christ is my savior’”. Then he said, “The devil can say the first sentence but only a true Christian can say the second sentence.”
Did not the Lord say in Mark 7:6, that some people honor God with their words but their heart is really far away from Him? Yes, many say they believe in the Lord but in reality they do not. Consider this episode that best illustrates this point.
There was a great tightrope walker known as The Great Blondin. In the late 1890s he strung a tightrope across Niagara Falls and then before ten thousand screaming people, inched his way from the Canadian side of the falls to the U.S. side. When he got there, the crowd began shouting his name, "Blondin! Blondin! Blondin!" Finally he raised his arms, quieted the crowd and shouted this to them, "I am Blondin! Do you believe in me?" The crowd shouted back, "We believe! We believe! We believe!" Again he quieted the crowd and once more he shouted to them, "I'm going back across the tightrope but this time I'm going to carry someone on my back. Do you believe I can do that?" The crowd yelled, "We believe! We believe!" He quieted them one more time and then he said, "Who will be that person?" The crowd went dead. Nothing. Finally, out of the crowd stepped one man. He climbed on Blondin's shoulders and for the next three and a half hours, Blondin inched his way back across the tightrope to the Canadian side of the falls. The whole crowd said that they believed, yet only one man truly believed. (The source4ym.com)
Indeed, how easy it is to just say that we believe in the Lord without actually meaning it. Real faith in the Lord involves giving our life to the Lord practically and working out our salvation with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12), until we experience a real born-again transformation.
Finally, a saying goes like this: “The man, who trusts God, is the man who can be trusted.”
A story goes like this. A beggar used to sit under a particular tree and beg from those passing-by. Having lived all his life begging at the same spot, he died at the same place. The people around gathered to bury the dead body. Upon discussing as where to bury him, they decided to do so at the very same spot where he sat all his life. When they hardly dug a few inches, the story says, they felt a metal container. They were surprised to find lot of gold in it. Had the beggar at least, once in his life would have just dug the earth with his bare hands; he would have been the richest person around with no need to beg. The lesson is, most people are just like that, instead of reading the Word and digging out the building-up truths to apply to their lives; they lead a deprived life, spiritually.
Indeed the Lord will not force anyone to accept Him as Lord, but at the same time, He does all He can to draw people to Himself with love. Luke 13:34 (CEV) says: “. . . I have often wanted to gather your people, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings. But you wouldn't let me.”
In 1981, a Minnesota radio station reported a story about a stolen car in California. Police were on an intense search for the vehicle and the driver, even to the point of placing announcements on local radio stations to contact the thief. On the front seat of the stolen car was a box of biscuits that, unknown to the thief, were laced with poison. The car owner had intended to use the crackers as rat bait. Now the police and the owner of the car were more interested in apprehending the thief to save his life than to recover the car. So often when we run from God, we feel it is to escape His punishment. But what we are actually doing is eluding His rescue. (sermonillustrations.com)
Many people misunderstand our Saviour’s love and runaway from Him. In so doing, they are actually avoiding His rescue from punishment.
But not everyone responds to the love of our Creator. Consider this extract:
Lord Kenneth Clark, internationally known for his television series Civilization, lived and died without faith in Jesus Christ. He admitted in his autobiography that while visiting a beautiful church he had what he believed to be an overwhelming religious experience. "My whole being," Clark wrote, "was irradiated by a kind of heavenly joy far more intense than anything I had known before." But the "gloom of grace," as he described it, created a problem. If he allowed himself to be influenced by it, he knew he would have to change. So he concluded, "I was too deeply embedded in the world to change course." (Our Daily Bread, Feb 15, 1994)
Yes, God by His Grace gives everyone a fair chance to commit ourselves to Him, as the judgment that awaits us is called eternal judgment, meaning, there will not be any reversal of the judgment.
An unsaved person, feeling the deficiency in life, when hears the testimonies of those who believed in the Lord and found contentment in Him, is actually brought, by His grace, to a point of decision making. At that point of time, if positive step is not taken, the heart becomes harder. It means every time gospel is resisted, the heart becomes harder. This explains why elderly people find it harder to come to the Lord compared to teenagers and teenagers find it harder to come to the Lord than children.
Priority in life
Read this happening:
Two brothers were discussing their life goals after Sunday school. The first brother’s goal was to be rich and famous. The second brother’s goal was to follow Christ to the fullest. The second brother went on to reach his goal. His name was David Livingstone, the renowned medical missionary and explorer of Africa. The first went on to be rich, but his fame came from another. The epitaph on his tombstone reads: “Here lies the brother of David Livingstone.” (ccbiblestudy.org)
Does not the above result clearly vindicate Matthew 6:33 (KJV) which says: “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you?” How important it is to make a sane decision of committing our self to the Lord Jesus Christ. Is anything more important than salvation? All achievements would come to just nothing if unsaved. First be sure of your salvation, only then think of all other issues of life.
Decide at least now to follow the Lord. Also, seal your decision with the baptism of water. May be, you almost faced death. Many times we see people pressed through anxieties, confused through perplexities and shaken due to terminal sicknesses, coming to the Lord. Why not come to the Lord voluntarily, when all is well? Psalms 32:9 (GNB) says: “Don’t be stupid like a horse or a mule, which must be controlled with a bit and bridle to make it submit." Surrendering yourself to the Lord when all is well relieves you from going through repentance-oriented problems; that may involve so much stress and strain.
2Peter 3:9 (GNB) says: “The Lord is not slow to do what he has promised (referring to His second coming), as some think. Instead, he is patient with you, because he does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants all to turn away from their sins.” Yes, the loving Lord is holding-back His second-coming so that you will not miss your salvation. He may wait longer but our life-span has its limit. How about getting saved from going to hell through this simple prayer said meaningfully?
Lord Jesus Christ, I acknowledge that you have been drawing me to your self through so many circumstances in my life. I am a sinner and I need your forgiveness as only your precious blood has the power to cleanse me from every sin. Please forgive me of my sins and cleanse me with your blood. Come into my heart Lord Jesus and make me your child. Thank you, Lord. Amen.
A saying goes like this: "It is fatally easy to think of Christianity as something to be discussed and not as something to be experienced."
III. Listen through the events to come closer to God
Luke 15:17-18 (CEV) says: Finally, he came to his senses and said, "My father's workers have plenty to eat, and here I am, starving to death! I will go to my father and say to him, 'Father, I have sinned against God in heaven and against you.’”
We read about the parable of the prodigal son who chose to go away from his father and spent all his money on pleasures. When his pockets became empty, the Bible says, he came to his senses. The father in the parable though very anxious to see the return of his son did not venture out in search of him, instead waited for all that his son was depending on to be exhausted so that he could come to his senses. What actually triggered his repentance is the level of his condition equaled to that of the pigs. To make people come to their senses, God makes them realize what they are depending on is useless, thus bringing them to a situation that will draw them closer to Him. Yes, He is in control of everyone and everything. The prodigal son’s decision to go back to his father proved that he understood the message of the heavenly Father through his new environment and acted accordingly.
Yes, the son had to come to the father on his own. The attitude of some people is really very pitiable when they say they are waiting for the Lord to save or revive or perform whatever change that is required in them. Our heavenly Father has done all that is required for our salvation. Now, we have to play our role of willingly coming closer to Him and not be waiting for the Father’s move, as we read in James 4:8 (GNB): “Come near to God, and he will come near to you. . . .” Decide to come closer to Him, then He will take care of the rest. Matthew 24:32 (CEV) says: “Learn a lesson from a fig tree. When its branches sprout and start putting out leaves, you know that summer is near.” Likewise, every circumstance clearly tell us that God is alive and at work of drawing us closer to Himself. When this simple message is not understood by anyone, they end up unwisely waiting for the Lord to act in their life.
Exodus 8:28 (ESV) says: So Pharaoh said, "I will let you go to sacrifice to the LORD your God in the wilderness; only you must not go very far away. . ." Pharaoh instructed Israelites not to go far way from him. This is what the devil always says: “go but not far away from me.” Yes, the devil does not want us to go away from him, for that would mean getting closer to God. So he does his best to retain us in his vicinity.
To really come closer to God one must be a part of a church and be committed to it. Hebrews 10:25 commands us to do so. Attend that church where all the 66 books of the Bible are honored. Derek Prince defined the church this way, “Church is the demonstration of God’s manifold or many-sided wisdom.” Thus, one cannot afford to keep away from it. Also, reading the Bible in an order is a requisite for proper understanding of the Scriptures. As per Matthew 17:21, certain problems will be solved only by fasting and prayer. Regular fasting and prayer must be a part of a believer’s life. Prayer is the life-line of a Christian. As commonly said, there are three answers to prayer; ‘Yes’, ‘no’ or ‘wait’. One should learn to accept these answers, failing to do so results in giving place to the devil to mess-up our spiritual life.
God, out of His great love towards us, promises us so many good things. But, Scripturally, no promise will be fulfilled automatically unless we fulfill certain conditions and follow few steps. The conditions are:
1. Should not indulge in rebellion – Jeremiah 18:9-10 (GNB) says: “On the other hand, if I say that I am going to plant or build up any nation or kingdom, but then that nation disobeys me and does evil, I will not do what I said I would.” Rebellion can block the fulfillment of God’s promise in our lives as all His promises are based on His covenant with man, that is, if we do our part, He will do His part ( Exodus 34:27 ).
2. Exercise faith - James 1:6-7 says a doubtful mind should not expect to receive any thing from the Lord. Trust Him as He is trustworthy.
3. Be patient – Hebrews 10:36 (GNB) says: “You need to be patient, in order to do the will of God and receive what he promises.” Patience is required as many times God’s timing is different from our timing.
The steps are:
1. Prayer – 1John 5:14 (KJV) says: “And this is the confidence that we have in him that, if we ask any thing according to his will he heareth us. . .” Obviously, just knowing the will of God is not enough. Enough amount of prayer has to be offered for its fulfillment.
2. Praise - Mark 11:24 (KJV) says: “Therefore I say unto you, what things so ever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.” Thus, believing that our prayer is answered, we should offer thanks to God.
3. Peaceful –As Psalms 131:2 (GNB) says: “Instead, I am content and at peace. As a child lies quietly in its mother's arms, so my heart is quiet within me.” We should not be worrying about its fulfillment. Just relax in Him.
Mark 6:20 (GNB) says: “Herod was afraid of John because he knew that John was a good and holy man, and so he kept him safe. He liked to listen to him, even though he became greatly disturbed every time he heard him.” John the Baptist was not bothered about how Herod felt whenever he spoke to him, he just spoke the truth. How badly we need preachers of this kind who tell us what we need to know and not what we like to hear? A saying goes thus: “The function of preaching is to disturb the comfortable and to comfort the disturbed.” 2Timothy 4:3 (GW) says: “A time will come when people will not listen to accurate teachings. Instead, they will follow their own desires and surround themselves with teachers who tell them what they want to hear.”
A Spanish proverb goes like this: “Flattery makes friends and truth make enemies.”
This is well known incident that leaves a message for us. Aviation pioneer Handley Page had to fly into a remote area and land. His landing went fine, so did the takeoff... He heard gnawing. It must be a rat, probably a huge jungle rat! Page’s stomach sank as he thought about how much damage a gnawing rat could do to delicate aviation systems. . . Just then he remembered that rats can’t live at high altitude. So he pulled back on the stick and began to climb. Higher the plane soared, until Page found it hard to breathe. Gasping for breath, he listened. The gnawing stopped. He didn’t hear it again, so he hoped for the best and waited to land. At his next stop, sure enough, Handley Page found a dead rat behind his cockpit. (WhyGodWaits.WordPress.com)
Does not this incident clearly show us how sin, like rodents, will lose its hold over us at greater ‘altitudes’, that is, by coming closer to God? Coming closer to Him is the only way to overcome sin.
Yielding to God
A story goes like this. A beggar used to sit by the way-side and beg from those passing-by. One day he saw the king of that country passing-by and was happy as he expected something big. Much to his surprise the king himself stretched out his hand towards the beggar. Now knowing what to do, having been caught-up in an unexpected situation, the beggar just put his hand in his bag, took out a hand full of rice-grains and gave to the king. The king counted the number of those rice grains and in return gave that many golden-grains to the beggar and went away. This left the beggar hold his head, saying, had I known this is what the king would do, I would have given him my entire bag of rice and would have profited the maximum without having to beg anymore. Likewise, when God is commanding us to surrender all areas of our lives to Him, it is only to bless those areas and give them back to us. It is for own good. The more areas of our life we surrender to Him, the more we will be blessed. Realize that He can do without us but we cannot do without Him. If the Lord is commanding us to surrender something to Him and we are deliberately holding-on to it, it is actually an idol for us.
In Scripture, we see how idolatry was the main obstacle for people to come closer to God. Realize that idolatry is nothing but loving anything or anyone more than God. Jacob loved his son Benjamin so much that his life was ‘wound around the life of Benjamin’ (Genesis 44:30-31). Scriptures commands us not to idolize any human-being, whoever they may be. The Lord caused circumstances to be changed so that Jacob had to let-go of Benjamin. The pressure of famine made him do that. Genesis 43:10 (CEV): says: “If we had not wasted all this time, we could already have been there and back twice." This is what his eldest son told him. It means Jacob really held on to Benjamin for a long time. Finally, he had to give in. Some people say: “we are just human-beings.” This is why the concept of anointing of the Holy Spirit has been instituted that enables ordinary human-beings to overcome what humans think is impossible. In this context, understand that not even ministry can be idolized.
2Kings 18:4 (GNB) says: “He destroyed the pagan places of worship, broke the stone pillars, and cut down the images of the goddess Asherah. He also broke in pieces the bronze snake that Moses had made, which was called Nehushtan. Up to that time the people of Israel had burned incense in its honor.”
This verse talks about King Hezekiah of Judah. At one point of time the bronze snake that was made and displayed so that those who looked at it were healed of the snake bite, had significance. Once its purpose was made use of, it was left out to be nothing but a piece of metal. But the Israelites continued to value it to the extent that sacrifices were offered to it. The message that emerges out of this passage is, we should not idolize anything that was a channel of blessing to us in the past but holds no significance now. For example, we should not blindly hold on to old methods or ways that the Lord used in the past. He is a creative person. He does things in different ways in different times. We should be open for His fresh guidance every time as His will for us may change with passing of time. This makes His guidance so very exciting.
Consider this event:
I once heard the late Dr. F.E. Marsh tell that on one occasion he was preaching . . . and urging upon his hearers the importance of confession of sin and wherever possible of restitution for wrong done to others.
At the close a young man, a member of the church, came up to him with a troubled countenance. "Pastor," he explained, "you have put me in a sad fix. I have wronged another and I am ashamed to confess it or to try to put it right. You see, I am a boat builder and the man I work for is an infidel. I have talked to him often about his need of Christ and urged him to come and hear you preach, but he scoffs and ridicules it all. Now, I have been guilty of something that, if I should acknowledge it to him, will ruin my testimony forever."
He then went on to say that sometime ago he started to build a boat for himself in his own yard. In this work copper nails are used because they do not rust in the water. These nails are quite expensive and the young man had been carrying home quantities of them to use on the job. He knew it was stealing, but he tried to salve his conscience be telling himself that the master had so many he would never miss them and besides he was not being paid all that he thought he deserved. But this sermon had brought him to face the fact that he was just a common thief, for whose dishonest actions there was no excuse.
"But," said he, "I cannot go to my boss and tell him what I have done or offer to pay for those I have used and return the rest. If I do he will think I am just a hypocrite. And yet those copper nails are digging into my conscience and I know I shall never have peace until I put this matter right." For weeks the struggle went on. Then one night he came to Dr. Marsh and exclaimed, "Pastor, I've settled for the copper nails and my conscience is relieved at last."
What happened when you confessed to your employer what you had done?" asked the pastor.
"Oh," he answered, "he looked queerly at me, then exclaimed, 'George, I always did think you were just a hypocrite, but now I begin to feel there's something in this Christianity after all. Any religion that would make a dishonest workman come back and confess that he had been stealing copper nails and offer to settle for them, must be worth having.'" ( H.A. Ironside, Illustrations of Bible Truth)
I John 1:9 says, all that we have to do is to confess our sins to the Lord and He promised to faithfully forgive us. But real repentance must be followed by restitution.
Matthew 6:15 says, “If we do not forgive others, God will not forgive our sins.” If we are outside the will of God, we will not be able to have His help in fulfilling His plan for our life.
Please read this:
When Leonardo da Vinci was painting the "Last Supper," he had an intense, bitter argument with a fellow painter. Leonardo was so enraged that he decided to paint the face of his enemy into the face of Judas. That way the hated painter's face would be preserved for ages in the face of the betraying disciple. When Leonardo finished Judas, everyone easily recognized the face of the painter with whom Leonardo quarreled. Leonardo continued to work on the painting. But as much as he tried, he could not paint the face of Christ. Something was holding him back. Leonardo decided his hatred toward his fellow painter was the problem. So he worked through his hatred by repainting Judas' face, replacing the image of his fellow painter with another face. Only then was he able to paint Jesus' face and complete the masterpiece. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
In John 15:5(GNB), Jesus declared: “you can do nothing without me.”
A saying goes like this: “Forgiveness is the most powerful thing you can do for yourself. If you can’t learn to forgive, you can forget about achieving true success in your life.”
IV. Listen through the events to know the will of God
Numbers 22:32-33 (GNB) says: The angel demanded, "Why have you beaten your donkey three times like this? I have come to bar your way, because you should not be making this journey. But your donkey saw me and turned aside three times. If it hadn't, I would have killed you and spared the donkey."
Balaam put-up a very convincing show that he was pursuing God’s will, while actually he was pursuing his own will of making money. Seeing his heart was set on money, the Lord told him to go ahead with that money mission, even though it wasn’t His will. Yes, the Lord gives revelations as per to our heart-setting. Thus, it is very important on what our heart is set on.
The donkey gave a ‘message of sense’ to Balaam saying it wasn’t God’s will for him to go to King Balak (Numbers 22:22). We do not have ‘talking donkeys’ around to tell us when God puts obstacles in our way. Therefore, we should get the message ourselves through the events. This is what I am trying to facilitate through this book.
A Latin proverb goes like this: “A wise man learns from the mistakes of others, a fool by his own.”
In the Old Testament, God used mechanical means of communicating His will to the stone-hearted man, like flees or signs. During the pre-Holy Spirit age, lots were cast to know the will of God but in the Holy Spirit age we see God directly speaking to the people to reveal His will.
Consider the verse where God tells Ananias about Paul: “But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel” (Acts 9:15 KJV). God’s will is always very precise. The Lord will certainly reveal His will to us as we are expected to fulfill it. Accomplishing His will is the primary purpose of our existence. Bible is God’s will for all in general. For our personal issues, He reveals His will through revelations. For Paul, God planned that he bears witness among Gentiles, Kings and the Israelites.
All the above three purposes of God in the life of Paul were accomplished. Acts 9:20 says, Paul went to the Jewish meeting places and started telling that Jesus is the Son of God. Basically, after finishing ministering to the Jews, he went to the Gentiles. What I wish to focus is the transition of his ministry from among Jews to the Gentiles, how did that happen? Was there a farewell-party arranged by the Jews and a welcome-party arranged by the Gentiles? We know the answer is no. The circumstances brought about the transition that God has already planned. How were the circumstances? The Jews tried to kill him, so he ran to the gentiles. What do we understand from this passage of the Scripture? God allows only those things in a believer’s life that turn us in the direction of His will. How wisely the Scriptures say that all things work together for good for those who are called according to His purpose! (Romans 8:28). Next, how did Paul make it to the Kings or rulers to bear witness? Did he become a ruler or a VIP? That would have been an easy way to get the gospel across to them. But God has His own ways of guiding His people. His guidance generally involves humbling process. When Paul faced many false accusations leveled against him, he had to defend himself before kings. When his life was at stake, he appealed to the Emperor. We read that he made full use of the opportunity to defend himself to get the gospel across to these rulers. In other words, as an accused criminal he could and had to meet these rulers. Not a pleasant designation tag with which any one would like to meet a VIP. But Paul accepted the Lord’s way of guidance to accomplish His will by accepting the circumstances as endorsed by God and bearing witness for the Lord, however embarrassing it has been. The conclusion of the whole matter is this, the Lord is in control of our lives and so no human being or circumstances can stop us from doing the will of the Almighty God as long as we are willing to do so. Every ‘problem’ that the Lord allows works precisely for good in fulfilling His will.
In these days when marriages are breaking-down liberally even though Scripture is clearly against divorce, the only cause for this kind of situation is pure rebellion against God’s plan.
The breaking of the Jewish wedding glass is one of the most beloved traditions of a Jewish wedding ceremony. At the conclusion of the ceremony, generally, the groom smashes a glass with his foot. One of the interpretations for the tradition of breaking a glass is meant to remind us that marriage is as fragile as glass. The glass symbolizes the love and relationship of the couple. It is difficult to put it back once broken. Hence, the needs for proper care in this regard.
Bible says marriage is basically permanent. It does not encourage divorcé (Mathew 19:6; Malachi 2:16). Incase of stray adultery cases, forgiveness must be encouraged (Mathew 6:15). God is merciful with those who are merciful and will rise-up on their behalf (Mathew 5:7). Anyway, God will not spare the adulterous partner and it is left for Him how He deals with such a person.
Ruth Graham once said: “A happy marriage is the union of two good forgivers.”
Derek Prince talked about a man of God who was asked what he thought of a particular believer-brother. His reply was, “I do not know because I have not met his wife yet,” much to the amusement of others. Then he explained, “If his wife looks happy and confident, it implies he is a responsible husband but if she is gloomy and insecure, it implies he is not a responsible husband.” In other words, wife is the reflection of her husband.
On the other hand, if a man is doing every thing possible to make his wife happy but she still puts up a gloomy appearance and has a complaining attitude; it would certainly put him off. Therefore, one should learn to appreciate and be glad with every move one’s husband makes to make her happy.
A saying goes like this: "The best thing parents can do for their children is to love each other."
It seems, a newly married man took-up two jobs just to please his wife with gifts and material comfort but she left him for another man with her complain being that, ‘she wanted her man to spend time with her.’ Balanced Christian life is really required in order not to give place to the devil.
A story goes like this. One Sunday morning, a father told his little son to stay in the house while he would go out to attend to an important work. He went straight to a bar and was quenching his usual thirst. After a while he was surprised to find his son enter the bar and come straight to him. He asked his son how he knew he was there. His son replied it was not difficult to know as all that he had to do was to carefully follow the footprints left behind by his dad on the ground. The message is, no matter how much you tell your kids, they will mostly go by your footsteps. Therefore, watch your lifestyle.
A man of God once said: “Children reflect what their parents are”
Let us consider the general will of God as seen in the verse Esther 1:22 (GNB): “To each of the royal provinces he sent a message in the language and the system of writing of that province, saying that every husband should be the master of his home and speak with final authority.” Also, consider Proverbs 22:6 (KJV) that says: “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” The consequence of breaking these two simple rules is the cause of break-up of so many families leading to confused society. Also, it puts extra and avoidable pressure on God’s servants, that steals their precious time in settling family disputes; instead of concentrating on preaching and reaching the unreached.
2Samuel 13:32 (GNB) says: But Jonadab, the son of David's brother Shammah, said, “Your Majesty, they haven't killed all your sons. Only Amnon is dead. You could tell by looking at Absalom that he had made up his mind to do this from the time that Amnon raped his sister Tamar.”
Absalom got Amnon killed. A shrewd person like Jonadab could discern what Absalom was up to, but king David, could not discern a deed that can be counted as a failure on David’s part. This tragedy in the family of David could very well have been averted had David punished Amnon for his behavior, a slackness that caused Absalom to take law into his own hands. David probably did not punish his adulterous son as he himself indulged in adultery when he messed-up with Bathsheba. What is the message that emerges out of the whole episode? If the head of the family lacks integrity, the whole family is venerable to the attacks of the evil one. Anyway, in such cases, this cannot be used as an excuse by the rest of the family members to have their own rebellious way and conveniently blame the head for the situation. Once, a person knows the truth, that is, knows the Lord in a personal way, then he is responsible for his deeds, whatever the spiritual condition of the head of the family may be.
Oneness among parents is required (in all issues for that matter) while punishing their children as they tend to take the support of one of the parents when the other one is dealing with them. They should be made to understand that they are being dealt with by both the parents and not just one of them, such that the punishing parent is not put in the bad light in the sight of the children.
A saying goes like this: “The well-mannered child is its parent’s best achievement.”
Consider this episode:
Shortly after World War II came to a close. . . Much of the Old Country had been ravaged by war and was in ruins. Perhaps the saddest sight of all was that of little orphaned children starving in the streets of those war-torn cities. Early on chilly morning an American soldier was making his way back to the barracks in London. As he turned the corner in his jeep, he spotted a little lad with his nose pressed to the window of a pastry shop. Inside the cook was kneading dough for a fresh batch of doughnuts. The hungry boy stared in silence, watching every move. The soldier pulled his jeep to the curb, stopped, got out and walked quietly over to where the little fellow was standing. . . . The soldier’s heart went out to the nameless orphan as he stood beside him. “Son...would you like some of those?” The boy was startled. “Oh, yeah...I would!” The American stepped inside and bought a dozed, put them in a bag and walked back to where the lad was standing in the foggy cold of the London morning. He smiled, held out the bag and said simply: “Here you are.” As he turned to walk away, he felt a tug on his coat. He looked back and heard the child ask quietly: “Mister ... are you God?” We are never more like God than when we give gifts fit for a king. John 3:16 says: for God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but has everlasting life. (Adapted from The Sermon Notebook)
Giving is a Godly quality. But the one motivating others to give should give first then expect others to do so.
Consider this incidence: Charles Spurgeon, the great English preacher, was once invited by a wealthy man to come to preach in a certain country church, to help the membership raise funds to pay off a debt. The man told Spurgeon he was free to use his country house, his town house, or his seaside home. Spurgeon wrote back and said, “Sell one of the places and pay the debt yourself.” (Sermoncentral.com)
Consider another incident:
Mr. Alter's fifth-grade class at Lake Elementary School in Oceanside, California, included fourteen boys who had no hair. Only one, however, had no choice in the matter. Ian O'Gorman, undergoing chemotherapy for lymphoma, faced the prospect of having his hair fall out in clumps. So he had his head shaved. But then 13 of his classmates shaved their heads, so Ian wouldn't feel out of place. "If everybody has his head shaved, sometimes people don't know who's who," said 11-year-old Scott Sebelius in an Associated Press story (March 1994). "They don't know who has cancer and who just shaved their head." Ten-year-old Kyle Hanslik started it all. He talked to some other boys, and before long they all trekked to the barber shop. "The last thing he would want is to not fit in," said Kyle. "We just wanted to make him feel better." Ian's father, Shawn, choked back tears as he talked about what the boys had done. He said simply, "It's hard to put words to." "Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ" (Galatians 6:2). (Biblecentre.com)
Romans 15:1 (GNB) says: “We who are strong in the faith ought to help the weak to carry their burdens. We should not please ourselves.” According to this verse, those people are said to be strong who help the weak in carrying their burdens.
A saying goes like this: “When love and skill work together, expect a master piece.”
The devil tends to throw cold water on the little job that the Lord has entrusted us to do by whispering into our ear, “It will not make any difference, anyway.” Please read this incident:
Sir Michael Costa was conducting a rehearsal with hundred of instruments and voices. The piccolo player, who sat up in a far corner of the orchestra, thought, "Over the sound of the rolling drums, blaring trumpets and full choir, what difference will one piccolo make?" He put his instrument down and sat silently. The famous conductor raised his hands and stopped the performers in the middle of the song. "Where is my piccolo?!" he demanded. (Preceptaustin.org)
Yes, people may not notice what we do, but the Lord does notice and counts on our role, however insignificant it may seem.
A saying goes like this: “Only one life, it will soon be past, only what is done for Christ will last.”
Strong in crisis
One of the signs of a real child of God is, he or she will not fear death, something most people dread to face. Just look at how they can face death courageously.
When the Empress of Ireland went down with a hundred and thirty Salvation Army officers on board, one hundred and nine officers were drowned and not one body that was picked up had on a life-belt. The few survivors told how the Salvationists, finding there were not enough life- jackets for all, took off their own and strapped them upon even strong men, saying, "I can die better than you can." This courageous deed of the Salvation Army Officers made millions recognize how that saved Christians can face death fearlessly. (Salvationarmy.org)
That is the power of the Holy Spirit that empowers us to go through anything, including death. How truly Proverbs 24:10 (GNB) says: “If you are weak in a crisis, you are weak indeed.”
A saying goes like this: “You cannot appreciate the strength of the anchor until you go through the storm.”
How do you face death news among your near or dear ones? Because flesh and blood cannot enter heaven (or hell), death occurs to one and all (1Corinthians 15:50). Overcoming bereavement is a promise that the anointing of the Holy Spirit bestows upon His children.
Around 125 A.D., a Greek by the name of Aristeides wrote to one of his friends, trying to explain the extraordinary success of the new religion, Christianity. In his letter he said, "If any righteous man among the Christians passes from this world, they rejoice and offer thanks to God and they accompany his body with songs and thanksgiving as if he were setting out from one place to another nearby." (Today in the Word, April 10, 1993)
Yes, Scripture commands us to thank our Lord for everything. Even in sorrowful environment, one should not cease to thank Him. Holy Spirit helps us to do so.
As per the Scripture, attempts were made to kill the Lord Jesus but every time He escaped because the Scripture says: ‘his hour was not yet come’ (John 7:30). But only when the Father’s appointed time came, people were able to lay their hands on Him.
When David Livingstone was asked if he didn’t fear that going into Africa was too difficult and too dangerous, he answered, “I am immortal until the will of God for me is accomplished.” (Bible.org) Indeed, God protects His children from all harm until His appointment time for us to leave this planet earth. If one rebels against God’s purposes and is outside His will, it is a different matter altogether.
As Vice President, George Bush represented the U.S. at the funeral of former Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev. Bush was deeply moved by a silent protest carried out by Brezhnev's widow. She stood motionless by the coffin until seconds before it was closed. Then, just as the soldiers touched the lid, Brezhnev's wife performed an act of great courage and hope, a gesture that must surely rank as one of the most profound acts of civil disobedience ever committed: She reached down and made the sign of the cross on her husband's chest. There in the citadel of secular, atheistic power, the wife of the man who had run it all hoped that her husband was wrong. She hoped that there was another life and that that life was best represented by Jesus who died on the cross and that the same Jesus might yet have mercy on her husband. (Christianity Today, October 3, 1994)
Isn’t it wonderful that when it comes to hope after death, cross is the only way?
However frightening death in a family may seem, it cannot destroy the faith of a spiritually strong child of God.
I was driving with my children to my wife's funeral where I was to preach the sermon. As we came into one small town there strode down in front of us a truck that came to stop before a red light. It was the biggest truck I ever saw in my life, and the sun was shining on it at just the right angle that took its shadow and spread it across the snow on the field beside it. As the shadow covered that field, I said, "Look children at that truck and look at its shadow. If you had to be run over, which would you rather be run over by? Would you rather be run over by the truck or by the shadow?" My youngest child said, "The shadow couldn't hurt anybody." "That's right," I continued, "and death is a truck, but the shadow is all that ever touches the Christian. The truck ran over the Lord Jesus. Only the shadow is gone over mother." (Donald Grey Barnhouse)
Does not this incident bring out the truth about what the death of Christ on the cross has done? A simple explanation to any confused mind!
A saying goes like this: “The most important thing that parents can teach their children is how to get along without them.”
As John Wesley lay dying, his friends gathered around him, Wesley grasped their hands and said repeatedly, "Farewell, farewell." At the end, summoning all his remaining strength, he cried out, "The best of all is, God is with us," lifted his arms and raised his feeble voice again, repeating the words, "The best of all is, God is with us." (Wikipedia)
Yes, whether we are in our body or out of our body, God being with us is a wonderful assurance for all of His children. Should we be surprised if a non believer reacts in exactly the opposite manner in the face of death?
A story goes like this. A little boy was travelling all alone in a train and was enjoying the journey, much to the surprise of the passengers. One of the passengers asked him why he wasn’t afraid to travel alone. The boy replied, “The driver of this train is my father and at the end of the journey, at the last station, he will come to me and take me home.” Yes, at the end of our earthly journey, He comes to us to take us to His home.
A saying goes like this: “The Christian does not consider death to be the end of his life, but the end of his troubles.”
Anointing of the Holy Spirit
The dynamic power of anointing of the Holy Spirit enables us to go through whatever God has planned for us.
Eric Barker was a missionary from Great Britain and he had spent over 50 years in Portugal preaching the gospel, often under adverse conditions. During World War II, the situation became so critical that Barker was advised to send his wife and eight children to England for safety. His sister and her three children were also evacuated on the same ship. Although his beloved relatives were forced to leave, he remained behind to carry on the work. On the Lord’s Day following their departure he stood before his congregation and said, “I’ve just received word that all my family has arrived safely home!” He then proceeded with the service as usual. Later, the full meaning for his words became known to his people. Just before the meeting, he learned that a submarine had torpedoed the ship and everyone on board had drowned. (Sermonoutlines.org)
Isn’t it wonderful that the anointing of the Holy Spirit enables us to rise above the natural circumstance and continue with His work?
A saying goes like this: “The Spirit of God will not lead a man where the grace of God cannot keep him.”
V. Listen through the events due to rebellion
Jonah 4:8 (CEV) says: During the day the LORD sent a scorching wind and the sun beat down on Jonah’s head, making him feel faint. Jonah was ready to die, and he shouted, “I wish I were dead!”
Jonah, in spite of all that the Lord has done for him, in terms of bringing him safe from the sea, still was not open or sensitive to the will, guidance and concerns of God. Obviously, the Lord is left with no option but to communicate to him through circumstance instead of talking. He made a plant grow overnight that gave shelter to Jonah from the heat of day and caused a worm to destroy the plant that ended up Jonah to complain and murmur so that the Lord could use the same argument to defend His decision to forgive the people of Nineveh. Yes, one must at least listen to God through circumstances.
Matthew 18:15-17 (KJV) says: “Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglects to hear the church, let him be unto thee as a heathen man and a publican.” Thus, if you are ignored by your spiritual leaders, you need to do lot of introspection if rebellion is the cause, though not always. Humbly accepting rebukes is the best response expected from believers instead of reacting in an aggressive manner. Such a response would be for your own good and for the good of your near and dear ones.
Judges 2:16 (GNB) says: “Then the LORD gave the Israelites leaders who saved them from the raiders.” Likewise in these New Testament days the Lord has given us spiritual leaders, whose instructions from the Scriptures should be given heed. It is for our own good. Consider this example. Acts 27:21 (GNB) says: “After everyone had gone a long time without food, Paul stood before them and said, you should have listened to me and not have sailed from Crete; then we would have avoided all this damage and loss.” We read that those travelling with Paul never listened to him and so faced so much of unnecessary hardship. Yes, listening to spiritual leaders relieves one from unnecessary troubles.
Though being a professing believer, do you consciously or unconsciously, crave to be in lime-light in any environment? Ego-conscious people tend to indulge in such sort of things. Such people should understand that Matthew 23:12 (CEV) says: “If you put yourself above others, you will be put down. But if you humble yourself, you will be honored.” Scriptures says to ‘always considering others better than you.’ (Philippians 2:3). If one understands that he or she can do nothing without the help of God (John 15:5), these attitudes can be easily over-come. We should not forget that the Lord looks at the intention while helping others. Is it to show off? Such deeds fetch no rewards. Or is it so that one can boast about what he or she has done? No place for boasting of achievement or self-exaltation is allowed by the Scripture. In fact, the Scripture says, “Whoever wants to boast must boast of what the Lord has done.” (1 Corinthians 1:31).
Which of these categories given below do you identify yourself with?
A fool tells what he will do;
A boaster tells what he has done;
A wise man does it and says nothing. (Author unknown)
1Corinthians 11:30 gives some consequences for rebellion, that is, sickness, weakness and death. These occurrences are usually taken to be natural happenings but there could be spiritual reason behind them which should be looked into. According to 1Kings 8:35, the Lord can even hold-back rains due to rebellion. When some unexpected thing happens in our lives, we should check as to why it has happened. Also, if what is expected does not happen, check why it has not happened. Understand that the Lord can withhold certain blessings with a purpose that should be accepted, without sin being the cause. Consider, Luke 1:6-7 (CEV) that says: “Both of them were good people and pleased the Lord God by obeying all that he had commanded. But they did not have children. Elizabeth could not have any, and both Zechariah and Elizabeth were already old.” The Lord blessed them with a son at His time. Ecclesiastics 12:13 (KJV) says: “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.” Isn’t it really relieving to know that our duty is to just obey the Word and leave the rest to Him?
Genesis 42:21 (GW) says: They said to each other, "We're surely being punished for what we did to our brother. We saw how troubled he was when he pleaded with us for mercy, but we wouldn't listen. That's why we're in trouble now." Joseph’s brothers understood the message clearly and realized they were reaping what they have sown. None can escape from reaping whatever they have sown.
Leviticus 26:18 (GNB) says: “If even after all of this you still do not obey me, I will increase your punishment seven times.” This verse clearly shows that when one does not turn to the Lord even after chastisement, He would not just increase the punishment, but increase tremendously.
Amos 5:19 (CEV) says: “You will run from a lion, only to meet a bear. You will escape to your house, rest your hand on the wall, and be bitten by a snake.” If anybody tries to flee from the Lord’s chastisement, they only land in a bigger problem. This what the above verse means. Psalms 94:11 (GNB) says: “The LORD knows what we think; he knows how senseless our reasoning is.”
1Kings 22:34 (GNB) says: By chance, however, a Syrian soldier shot an arrow which struck King Ahab between the joints of his armor. "I'm wounded!" he cried out to his chariot driver. "Turn around and pull out of the battle!" If one reads about the life of King Ahab, it will be understood that he was a man committed to do evil. Even though he went to war in disguise, he could not escape death. Bible says, by chance, an arrow that was shot, struck Ahab between the joints of his amour. So many ‘coincidences’ fell in line that lead to his death. The clear message that emerges out of this situation is that, however, ‘smart’ one may think he is, none can escape the punishment planned by the Lord. Hence, the care-less should be warned.
2Chronicles 24:19 (GNB) says: “The LORD sent prophets to warn them to return to him, but the people refused to listen.” Ezekiel 2:5 (GNB) says: “Whether those rebels listen to you or not, they will know that a prophet has been among them.” This indicates that God respects the personal decision of individuals. He will not force Himself on any one. The Lord does His part of warning but none can escape the consequences. Jonah 1:4 (GW) says: “The LORD sent a violent wind over the sea. The storm was so powerful that the ship was in danger of breaking up.” Even prophet Jonah wasn’t spared when he rebelled.
Thus, by yielding to God’s will, one can escape His wrath. In this context, understand that one should never mock at the anointing of other men of God, something the Lord takes a very serious note of and generally acts instantly.
2Samuel 3:1 (GNB) says: “The fighting between the forces supporting Saul's family and those supporting David went on for a long time. As David became stronger and stronger, his opponents became weaker and weaker.” The Lord either puts down or lifts up people according to their attitudes and obedience to the Word of God. In either case, the Lord always does it firmly but gradually and usually not instantly. This is so because for a faith-less observer, such changes are made to look like a natural process and not due to divine intervention. He deals with people according to their faith.
Acts 28:4 (GW) says: “When the people who lived on the island saw the snake hanging from his hand, they said to each other, "This man must be a murderer! He may have escaped from the sea, but justice won't let him live.” How easily people evaluate a person by the happenings around him and if their hypothesis goes wrong, then immediately the impression is changed. Consider, Acts 28:6 (GW): “The people were waiting for him to swell up or suddenly drop dead. But after they had waited a long time and saw nothing unusual happen to him, they changed their minds and said he was a God.” To get the right assessment about a person, Scripture says ‘you shall know them by their fruits’ (Mathew 7:20).
People around may have a very good opinion about us but our own conscious is the best to tell us what actually we are. A person’s reputation and the reality of what actually he or she is may vary to the extent of being quite opposite. Revelation 3:1 (GNB) says: “To the angel of the church in Sardis write: . . . I know that you have the reputation of being alive, even though you are dead!” What it means is, a person could be very good in the sight of people but can be exactly opposite in the sight of God.
The fortified city of Jerusalem was thought to be very secure, but the Lord says in Jeremiah 6:6 (CEV) says: “I am the LORD All-Powerful, and I will command these armies to chop down trees and build a ramp up to the walls of Jerusalem. People of Jerusalem, I must punish you for your injustice.” This verse indicates that nobody is out of reach of God. He can pull down any rebel who thinks he is secure and bring to justice. All seven letters written in the book of Revelation addressed to the seven different churches begins with the common word, ‘I know’, implying that the Lord knows every thing about us. Nothing can be hid from Him.
What actually is the intention of the Lord in punishing us when we rebel? Revelation 3:19 (CEV) says: “I correct and punish everyone I love. So make up your minds to turn away from your sins.” Revelation 2:21 (GNB) says: “I have given her time to repent of her sins, but she does not want to turn from her immorality.” This show how just God is as He gives us enough time to repent before taking action.
Consider this event:
A young man from a famous family was about to graduate from high school. It was the custom in that affluent neighborhood for the parents to give the graduate an automobile. Bill and his father had spent months looking at cars and the week before graduation they found the perfect car. Bill was certain that the car would be his on graduation night. Imagine his disappointment when, on the eve of his graduation, Bill's father handed him a gift-wrapped Bible! Bill was so angry; he threw the Bible down and stormed out of the house. He and his father never saw each other again. It was the news of his father's death that brought Bill home again. As he sat one night, going through his father's possessions that he was to inherit; he came across the Bible his father had given him. He brushed away the dust and opened it to find a cashier's check, dated the day of his graduation, in the exact amount of the car they had chosen together.
(Chicken Soup for the Christian Soul)
What do we understand from the above event? Every thing we receive should be coming through the Bible, that is, due to our obedience to the Word. But things obtained through any kind of manipulation or garbing or cheating or stealing actually do not last long. They even turn out to be a problem.
Evangelist Bill Glass was once speaking in a prison to an audience of over 1,000 prisoners. He asked them this question, “How many of you were told by your parents that one day you would end up in prison?” Almost every one of them lifted his hand. (Mentoring-disciples.org)
It obviously means that they never bothered to pay attention to the Lord’s rebuke through their parents, hence got into the process of tasting the consequence.
A little boy was playing with his paper-boat on the banks of a lake. After a while strong winds started drifting the boat away from the shore. In desperation the boy cried out for help. A man who happened to pass-by understood the situation the little boy was in. He picked up some stones and started throwing towards the boat. The response of the man puzzled the boy who thought for himself that the man instead of helping him was creating more problems by throwing stones at it. Only latter did the boy understood what that man had done. Stones were actually thrown beyond the paper-boat so that the waves could drift the boat towards the shore and that is what happened. Yes, many times we misunderstand God for the way He responds when we ask Him for help. It may look like the problem is made to increase, but actually what He does is to help us out. This calls for trust on our part to believe that whatever He does, He does for our own good and that He has His own ways of solving our problems.
Lack of integrity
One could be very faithful in some areas of life but exactly opposite in other areas of life. Read this:
Some time ago, I heard about a fellow in Long Beach who went into a fried chicken place to get some chicken for himself and the young lady he was with. She waited in the car while he went in to pick up the chicken. Inadvertently, the manager of the store handed the guy the box in which he had placed the proceeds of the day instead of the box of chicken. You see, he was going to make a deposit and had camouflaged it by putting the money in a fried chicken box.
The fellow took his box, went back to the car and the two of them drove away. When they got to the park and opened the box, they discovered they had a box full of money. Now that's a very vulnerable moment for the average individual. He realized there must have been a mistake, so he got back in the car and drove back to the place and gave the money back to the manager. Well, the manager was elated! He was so pleased that he told the young man, "Stick around, I want to call the newspaper and have them put your picture in it. You're the most honest guy in town."
"Oh no, don't do that!" said the fellow.
"Why not?" asked the manager.
"Well," he said, "you see, I'm married, and the woman I'm with is not my wife!"
(Charles R. Swindoll, Man to Man)
Scripture says, whoever obeys all the laws and breaks one law, he is guilty of breaking all the laws (James 2:10).
History records this event.
In ancient China, the people desired security from the barbaric hordes to the north. So they built the Great Wall of China. It was too high to climb over, too thick to break down and too long to go around. Security achieved! The only problem was that during the first hundred years of the wall’s existence, China was invaded three times. Was the wall a failure? Not really—for not once did the barbaric hordes climb over the wall, break it down, or go around it. How then did they get into China? The answer lies in human nature. They simply bribed a gatekeeper and then marched right in through a gate. The fatal flaw in the Chinese defense was placing too much reliance on a wall and not putting enough effort into building character into the gatekeeper. (Sermoncentral.com)
How important faithfulness is, the absence of which, as in the above case, the whole investment in building the wall has gone down the drain. God’s calling for each one of us is to be faithful.
An imaginary illustration goes like this: Two little teardrops were floating down the river of life. One drop said to the other, "I am the teardrop of a girl who loved a man and lost him." Who are you? The second teardrop answered, "Well, I am the teardrop of the girl who won him." (Bible.org)
The Lord Jesus once said: “. . . In the world ye shall have tribulation: but to be of good cheer; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33 KJV). It is clear we will face troubles even if we are in the will of God or outside His will. Either way, we can’t skip troubles, so why not suffer by being in the will of God? In this context, let me distinguish these two kinds of troubles. The troubles that come our way when we are outside the will of God cause us to be just restored into His will; while the troubles that come to us while in the will of God make us grow in the Lord. Therefore, the latter kind of troubles should be gladly faced and the other kind of troubles should be avoided.
David Livingstone once said, "I had rather be in the heart of Africa in the will of God than on the throne of England out of the will of God."
Purpose of suffering
Consider this episode:
A daughter complained to her father about how hard things were for her. "As soon as I solve one problem," she said, "another one comes up. I'm tired of struggling."
Her father, a chef, took her to the kitchen where he filled three pots with water and placed each on a high fire. Soon the pots came to a boil. In one he placed carrots, in the second, eggs and in the last, ground coffee beans. He let them sit and boil, without saying a word.
The daughter impatiently waited, wondering what he was doing. After a while, he went over and turned off the burners. He fished out the carrots and placed them in a bowl. He pulled the eggs out and placed them a bowl. He poured the coffee into a bowl. Turning to her he asked, "Darling, what do you see?"
"Carrots, eggs and coffee," she replied.
He brought her closer and asked her to feel the carrots. She did and noted that they were soft. He then asked her to take an egg and break it. After pulling off the shell, she observed the hard-boiled egg. Finally, he asked her to sip the coffee. She smiled, as she tasted its rich flavor.
She asked, "What does it mean, Father?" He explained that each of them had faced the same adversity—boiling water—but each reacted differently. The carrot went in strong, hard and unrelenting, but after being subjected to the boiling water, it softened and became weak.
The egg was fragile. Its thin outer shell had protected its liquid interior, but after sitting through the boiling water, its inside hardened.
The ground coffee beans were unique, however. By being in the boiling water, they changed the water.
He asked his daughter, "When adversity knocks on your door, which are you?"
(Leadership Journal; biblecenter.com)
When the Lord clearly said that even the hair of our head will not fall without His consent, will not whatever happens in our life, happen with His permission and with a definite purpose? It has never been His intention to make us suffer in any way. He created man to have fellowship with him. Man has been created in the image of God. That image has been tarnished when man fell into sin. If a coin gets its image tarnished, the only way the image can be realized is by putting it back into the furnace. Likewise for God’s image to be realized in us, suffering is inevitable. But in all situations, the Lord promised comfort and strength.
A saying goes like this: “Great trials prepare for great service.”
Protection is one of the blessings that come from God.
Read this incident. Frederick Nolan is the new name of a Christian who lived in North Africa during a time of persecution. Frederick was pursued by soldiers who were hunting him to kill him. He had been running and hiding for days and one night he realized he was surrounded by the soldiers. He saw a small cave in the side of a hill and he crawled into it. It was only a shallow depression about six feet deep, so it was not a good hiding place. He could hear the soldiers hunting for him, so he couldn’t risk running out. He feared he would be found and killed, so all he could do was pray.
Frederick watched as a large spider began to weave a spider web over the opening. Within an hour, the arachnid had woven a beautiful lacework across the mouth of the cave. Soon after the soldiers arrived looking for him. As they looked toward the shallow cave, Frederick feared for his life. But when the commander of the soldiers saw the spider’s web he said that it would impossible for their prey to have entered the cave without breaking the spider’s web. So, the soldiers left and Nolan escaped. Later, as he reflected on this event, Frederick Nolan wrote in his journal: “Where God is, a spider’s web is like a wall. Where God is not, a wall is but a spider’s web.” (gabc.org)
Never choke out God’s presence out of our life as wherever His presence is; there will be no lack whatsoever.
A saying goes like this: “It's better to stand alone with the truth than to be wrong with a multitude.”
Matthew 24:37-39 (GW) says: “When the Son of Man comes again, it will be exactly like the days of Noah. In the days before the flood, people were eating, drinking, and getting married until the day that Noah went into the ship. They were not aware of what was happening until the flood came and swept all of them away. That is how it will be when the Son of Man comes again.”
The Lord is very clear in telling us when His second coming will be. When the circumstances around us turn out to be like the days of Noah, which is the time we can expect Him. Therefore, message emerging out of such an environment should not be ignored.
Exodus 15:26 (ESV) says, "If you will diligently listen to the voice of the LORD your God, and do that which is right in his eyes, and give ear to his commandments and keep all his statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you that I put on the Egyptians, for I am the LORD, your healer." Isn’t this a wonderful promise to enjoy good health? But the conditions laid down should be fulfilled. For the same reason, our sanctification is required for the blessings of miracles to happen in our life (Joshua 3:5).
Let us examine ourselves with questions like: ‘Have I ever voluntarily taken a stand that expresses my love for God?’ If your answer is ‘no’, you need to be saved. ‘Are my deeds and practices that I so carefully follow, mentioned in the Scriptures?’ If your answer is ‘no’, then instead of coming closer to the Lord, you are actually drifting away from Him, whatever your claims may be. ‘Have I chosen a path that pleases God when I faced testing cross-roads?’ If your answer is ‘no’, you have an unscriptural priority in life and heading for frustration.
When Bro. B.V. Ebenezer heard about water-baptism for the first time through a servant of God in a Sunday service, immediately he was led by the Spirit of God to be baptised in the name of Jesus Christ as per Acts 2:38, without any delay (Acts 16:33). This is how the Spirit of God leads a person willing to obey Him. How willing are you ?
Nehemiah 1:4 (ESV) says: “As soon as I heard these words I sat down and wept and mourned for days, and I continued fasting and praying before the God of heaven.” Just consider how self-less Nehemiah’s commitment to God was. Nehemiah was safe and secure, working for the king in his palace. But when he heard that the temple lay in ruins, he wept and worked out things until the temple was repaired. He voluntarily stepped out of his comfort zone for the sake of matters pertaining to God’s concern. Again, Nehemiah 13:10-11 (GNB) says: “I also learned that the Temple musicians and other Levites had left Jerusalem and gone back to their farms, because the people had not been giving them enough to live on. I reprimanded the officials for letting the Temple be neglected. And I brought the Levites and musicians back to the Temple and put them to work again.” God’s servants should not be exposed to discouraging environment so that His work would not take a back step. Therefore, the Lord warns in Deuteronomy 12:19 (GW): “Don't forget to take care of the Levites as long as you live in your land.” Are we learning these lessons from Nehemiah’s life?
Someone is reported to have asked a concert violinist in New York’s Carnegie Hall how she became so skilled. She said that it was by “planned neglect”. She planned to neglect everything that was not related to her goal. (sermoncentral.com) How focused are we on the Lord’s work?
How wisely is your time spent? Consider how serious Elisha was when he instructed his helper to go to the house of the boy who died: “. . . If you meet anyone, do not greet him, and if anyone greets you, do not reply. And lay my staff on the face of the child.” (2Kings 4:29 ESV) How important it is not to get distracted from doing Lord’s work?
In 1Corinthians 11:1 (GNB) Paul says: “imitate me, then, just as I imitate Christ.” In a way, what Paul is saying is, as new born believers; try to imitate me now so that later-on, you will find it easier to imitate Christ.
A saying goes like this: “Stay one step ahead of your people and you are called a leader. Stay ten steps ahead of your people and you are called a martyr.”
In Luke 17:17, Lord Jesus asked where the other nine were who were healed of the dreaded skin disease as only one of them returned to thank the Lord. This shows that the Lord expects be thanked for His blessings. Ungrateful people did exist in the time of Jesus and it is not at all difficult to find such people with such attitudes even these days. This incident talks about the extent to which ungratefulness has crept.
Many years ago, one stormy night in Lake Michigan, Illinois a side-wheeler steamboat was rammed by another boat. The steamboat sank just a mile offshore from the village of Winnetka, Out of 393 passengers on board, 279 drowned. Students from Northwestern University formed themselves into rescue teams. One student, Edward Spencer, saved seventeen people from the sinking ship. When he was carried exhausted to his room, he asked, “Did I do my best? Do you think I did my best?” However, the strain on this young man caused him to collapse. The nerves in his legs were so completely destroyed that he could never walk again. He was an invalid wheel chair victim for his entire life.
Years later, R. A. Torrey was talking about this incident at a meeting in Los Angeles and a man in the audience said that Edward Spencer was present. Dr. Torrey invited Spencer to the platform. An old man with white hair slowly climbed the steps as the applause rang. Dr. Torrey asked him if anything in particular stood out in his memory. “Only this, sir,” he replied, “of the seventeen people I saved, not one of them thanked me.” (findthepower.net)
Ungrateful attitude of those 17 people whom Edward Spencer rescued stood out in his memory; in fact, making the pleasure of the good deed done took a back-seat in his memory. Are we grateful to God for all that He has done for us? If so, what are we doing about it?
Claim your inheritance
Jamie Buckingham tells a story in his book, Power for Living. It was a story first told by Fred Craddock while lecturing at Yale University. He told of going back one summer to Gatlinburg, Tennessee, to take a short vacation with his wife. One night they found a quiet little restaurant where they looked forward to a private meal—just the two of them.
While they were waiting for their meal they noticed a distinguished looking, white-haired man moving from table to table, visiting guests. Craddock whispered to his wife, “I hope he doesn’t come over here.” He didn’t want the man to intrude on their privacy. But the man did come by his table.
“Where you folks from?” he asked amicably.
“Splendid state, I hear, although I’ve never been there. What do you do for a living?
"I teach homiletics (the art of preaching) at the graduate seminary of Phillips University.”
“Oh, so you teach preachers, do you? Well, I’ve got a story I want to tell you.” And with that he pulled up a chair and sat down at the table with Craddock and his wife.
Dr. Craddock said he groaned inwardly: Oh no, here comes another preacher story. It seems everyone has one.
The man stuck out his hand. “I’m Ben Hooper. I was born not far from here across the mountains. My mother wasn’t married when I was born so I had a hard time. When I started to school my classmates had a name for me, and it wasn’t a very nice name. I used to go off by myself at recess and during lunch-time because the taunts of my playmates cut so deeply.
“What was worse was going downtown on Saturday afternoon and feeling every eye burning a hole through you. They were all wondering just who my real father was.
“When I was about 12 years old a new preacher came to our church. I would always go in late and slip out early. But one day the preacher said the benediction so fast I got caught and had to walk out with the crowd. I could feel every eye in church on me. Just about the time I got to the door I felt a big hand on my shoulder. I looked up and the preacher was looking right at me.
“Who are you, son? Whose boy are you?’
I felt the old weight come on me. It was like a big black cloud. Even the preacher was putting me down.
But as he looked down at me, studying my face, he began to smile a big smile of recognition. “Wait a minute,” he said, “I know who you are. I see the family resemblance. You are a son of God.” . . . and said, “Boy you’ve got a great inheritance. Go and claim it.”
The old man looked across the table at Fred Craddock and said, “That was the most important single sentence ever said to me.” With that he smiled, shook the hands of Craddock and his wife and moved on to another table to greet old friends.
Suddenly, Fred Craddock remembered. On two occasions the people of Tennessee had elected an illegitimate to be their governor. One of them was Ben Hooper.
(“But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God. . .” John 1:12 KJV and “now I commend you to God and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified.” Acts 20:32 ESV)
Yes, at least listen to the Lord’s voice through circumstances or events around us or involving us.