Tuesday, August 27, 2013


The very word ‘love’ activates any environment, sweeps people off their feet, touches hearts, tends to reciprocate, motivates to care for others, generates curiosity to estimate its strength and the list goes on. Let us see what the Bible says about God’s love, to start with.

The Holy Bible says:

a.God’s love never fails. Psalms 136:2 (CEV) says: 'Praise the God of all gods. God's love never fails.'

b.God’s love is great. Ephesians 2:4 (GNB) says: 'But God's mercy is so abundant, and his love for us is so great,'

c.God’s love is greater than mother’s love. Isaiah 49:15 (GNB): 'So the LORD answers, "Can a woman forget her own baby and not love the child she bore? Even if a mother should forget her child, I will never forget you.'

d.God’s love draws people unto Himself. Jeremiah 31:3 (ASV) says: 'Jehovah appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with loving-kindness have I drawn thee.' 

Please read the following incident that illustrates this point:

Several years ago an eastern paper reported this story: One evening a woman was driving home when she noticed a huge truck behind her that was driving uncomfortably close. She stepped on the gas to gain some distance from the truck, but when she sped up, the truck did too. The faster she drove, the faster the truck did. Now scared, she exited the freeway. But the truck stayed with her. The woman then turned up a main street, hoping to lose her pursuer in traffic. But the truck ran a red light and continued the chase. Reaching the point of panic, the woman whipped her car into a service station and bolted out of her auto screaming for help. The truck driver sprang from his truck and ran toward her car. Yanking the back door open, the driver pulled out a man hidden in the back seat. The woman was running from the wrong person. From his high vantage point, the truck driver had spotted a would-be rapist in the woman's car. The chase was not his effort to harm her but to save her even at the cost of his own safety. Likewise, many people run from God, fearing what he might do to them. But his plans are for good not evil-to rescue us from the hidden sins that endanger our lives. (Illustrations for Preaching & Teaching Editor Craig Brian Larson, Baker Books, p. 98.)

In the book of Jonah, we read about the great city called Nineveh whose inhabitants’ sin caught the attention of God that caused Him to declare that in 40 days it would be destroyed. But the ALMIGHTY God took back His words when the people of Nineveh repented of their sins. Yes, His love is immeasurable. And His love is such that He will not force His will on anyone as He respects the self-will of each and every individual, but none can escape the consequence involved.

“The Christian does not think God will love us because we are good, but that God will make us good because He loves us. - C.S. Lewis.


Respond to God's love:

The Lord practically expresses His love directly or through His servants or through His children and it is up to the recipients as to how they respond to His love. In Acts, chapter 9, we read about Saul, who was on his way to prosecute the church with authority from the High Priest when the Lord Himself encountered him. In verse 5 (ESV), we read: 'And he said, "Who are you, Lord?" And he said, "I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.' The Almighty God revealed Himself to a mere rebel who responded with humble submission.

Deuteronomy 10:12 (KJV) says: 'And now, Israel, what doth the LORD thy God require of thee, but to fear the LORD thy God, to walk in all his ways, and to love him, and to serve the LORD thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul.' Here, we are commanded to reciprocate His love for us. Love Him.

In Daniel 3rd chapter, we read about Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who refused to obey the king to worship an idol though the consequence involved being thrown into a furnace of fire. Such was their love for God that they resolved not to rebel against His Word. Shouldn’t we examine ourselves to see if we have at least a little bit of the love that these men had for God? Sadly, there are many who do not have a real love for God that even caused Jesus to say in John 5:42 (GW): 'But I know what kind of people you are. You don't have any love for God.'

Nehemiah 1:5 (GNB) says: “LORD God of Heaven! You are great, and we stand in fear of you. You faithfully keep your covenant with those who love you and do what you command." Doesn’t this verse clearly say that God will fulfill His promises in our lives provided we love Him?

How to love God?

John 14:15 (CEV) says: "Jesus said to his disciples: If you love me, you will do as I command.' Yes, we love Him if we obey His Word.

Those who love God will not neglect any of the following four basic ways of connecting with Him, on a regular basis:

a. Reading the Bible. Matthew 4:4 (CEV): Jesus answered, "The Scriptures say: 'No one can live only on food. People need every word that God has spoken.'

b. Praying to God. Philippians 4:6 (GNB): 'Don’t worry about anything, but in all your prayers ask God for what you need, always asking him with a thankful heart.'

c. Fellowshipping with God’s children. Hebrews 10:25 (GW): 'We should not stop gathering together with other believers, as some of you are doing. Instead, we must continue to encourage each other even more as we see the day of the Lord coming.'

d. Witnessing for the Lord. Acts 1:8 (CEV): 'But the Holy Spirit will come upon you and give you power. Then you will tell everyone about me in Jerusalem, in all Judea, in Samaria, and everywhere in the world."

Remember, the more one loves God, the more loving that person will turn out to be.

Loving people:

Rom 5:5 GW says:'. . God's love has been poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.' God’s love can flow through us provided we are connected to God. Those with experience of infilling of the Holy Spirit can have the flow of God’s love to be liberal and sacrificial. 1John 3:19 (CEV) says: 'When we love others, we know that we belong to the truth, and we feel at ease in the presence of God.' If one has the willingness to love others, God will lead with creative ideas.

"If we have got the true love of God shed abroad in our hearts, we will show it in our lives. We will not have to go up and down the earth proclaiming it. We will show it in everything we say or do." - D.L. Moody.

Leviticus 19:34 (GW) says: 'Foreigners living among you will be like your own people. Love them as you love yourself, because you were foreigners living in Egypt. I am the LORD your God.' Here, we see the Lord reminding the Israelites that they themselves were foreigners in Egypt and so were well-aware of the insecure feeling one has by living in a foreign land. Such people desperately look for security and loving them covers all their concerns. Conscious and determined efforts should be put to express love for people- not doing just so as an obligation. Only those who love God can really love people.

In Acts, chapter 11, we read about the prediction that a famine was coming up shortly through out the whole land through Prophet Agabus in Antioch. The believers responded immediately. They collected offerings to be sent for the poor believers in Judah for use during famine. This shows the willingness and eagerness of the people of Antioch to help the needy. Yes, the Lord reveals the needs of people and enables to help them if we are willing and eager to do so. It is wise to follow the Holy Spirit guidance in matters of giving or in anything for that matter.

"You can always give without loving, but you can never love without giving." - Amy Carmichael.

Bible teaches us to give and lend without expecting anything in return (Psalms 37:26). Our giving should not have any selfish intention. Sadly, many help provided they are benefited in some way in return or some mileage is obtained like name and fame. Such people will not even move their little finger if they do not get anything in return. Hence, if a miser blesses you financially or materially, watch out, the actual intention could be something else!

"On the whole, God's love for us is a much safer subject to think about than our love for Him." - C.S. Lewis.

Effects of love:

Philemon 1:7 (GNB)says: 'Your love, dear brother, has brought me great joy and much encouragement! You have cheered the hearts of all of God's people.' The writer says, the love they received brought joy, encouragement and cheer. What a tremendous effect love has on people! Because love has such great potential, it is important to release it in a proper controlled and decent manner.

In Genesis 24:21-22 (GNB), we read: 'The man kept watching her in silence, to see if the LORD had given him success. When she had finished, the man took an expensive gold ring and put it in her nose and put two large gold bracelets on her arms.' Abraham’s servant was sent to find a girl for his master’s son. He made sure it was God’s will (verse 21) before he let loose the flood of love in the direction of Rebecca with costly gifts of gold. Letting loose ‘floods of love’ in the wrong direction (that is, not according to God’s will) reminds me of what Derek Prince has once said in this context in one of his messages: Once a magician called for a flood and forgot the formula to recall it – resulting in heavy destruction. Undoing such destruction is very difficult. Hence, before releasing flood of love in any direction, make sure it is God’s will. Holy Spirit’s guidance with proper discernment is a requisite to let loose love in the right direction in any matter. Only then it leads to fulfillment of God’s will and results in God’s blessings.

Love heals. Some years ago, Dr. Karl Menninger, noted doctor and psychologist, was seeking the cause of many of his patients' ills. One day he called in his clinical staff and proceeded to unfold a plan for developing, in his clinic, an atmosphere of creative love. All patients were to be given large quantities of love; no unloving attitudes were to be displayed in the presence of the patients, and all nurses and doctors were to go about their work in and out of the various rooms with a loving attitude. At the end of six months, the time spent by patients in the institution was cut in half (Sermonillustrations.com).

God’s love leads people in a way that always results in unity, peace and glorification of His name.

What are the hindrances to love?

Matthew 6:24 (ESV) says: “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money." According to this verse, money-lovers cannot be God-lovers and so cannot be people-lovers too. For example, Paul wrote in 2Timothy 4:10 (GNB): "Demas fell in love with this present world and has deserted me,"

Genesis 37:3 (GNB) says: Jacob loved Joseph more than all his other sons . . . Jacob’s partiality towards Joseph created a lot of problem in the family. Again, in Genesis 43:34 (GNB), we read: 'Food was served to them from Joseph's table, and Benjamin was served five times as much as the rest of them. . . . .' It must have been a horrible experience for the rest of the brothers to digest the way they were treated – food being served unequally. It is quite clear that Joseph did what he learned from his father – to be partial. But, God hates partiality (Acts 10:34). He loves everyone equally and commands us to do the same.

Blocking the flow of God’s love through His children is an act done deliberately under the influence of idolizing money or material things, not realizing that an opportunity to show love that is lost is usually lost forever. These kinds of evil attitudes originate from the devil. Self-exalters and jealous people find it very hard to love those in limelight. Those whose hearts are immersed in the world, will not have the spiritual sense to think about the concerns of others.

Consider the following story:

A very wealthy man was asked to make a donation to the church building fund. The case was made very compellingly, the situation explained, and an appeal was made for his assistance. The man listened to the appeal and said, "Look, I completely understand why you think I can give a hundred thousand dollars to the building fund. I have my own business and, as you've probably noticed, I have all the signs of wealth. But there are some important factors you aren't aware of. For instance, did you know that my mother is in an expensive nursing home?" "Well, no, we didn't know that," replied the churchmen. "Also, did you know that my brother died, and left behind a family of five, and that he had absolutely no insurance?" "No, we didn't know that either." "And did you know that my son is a deeply committed Christian, is working with the poor, and earns less than the national poverty level to support his family?" "No, we didn't." "Well, then, if I don't give any of them a cent, what makes you think I'd give anything to you?" (hotsermons.com). 

Charity begins at home:

1Timothy 5:4 (GW) says: 'The children or grandchildren of a widow must first learn to respect their own family by repaying their parents. This is pleasing in God's sight.' Isn’t it clear from the above verse, that there is an order in which love should be shown – from family to beyond? Those who cannot love their family members cannot really love others. Again, there are those who are concerned only about themselves and their families. What would such people say when asked about their concern for others in the light of the verse: “love your neighbor” at the judgment?

"Charity begins at home but it should not stop there," so goes a saying.

Choose to love:

In the book of Ruth, chapter 1, we read about Naomi telling both her daughters-in-law, Orpah and Ruth, the hopeless future that awaits them if they were to accompany her back to Bethlehem. Orpah went back to her people not caring about Naomi’s welfare and we read about her no more. But Ruth took a step of faith in caring for Naomi by resolving not to leave her alone and so was eventually blessed. Those who choose to love will not lack love. Ruth experienced this as she later found genuine love in Boaz.

No separation from His love:

Romans 8:38-39 (ESV) says: 'For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.' As nothing can separate us from the love of God, nothing should hold us back from loving people.

Ephesians 1:15 (CEV) says: 'I have heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all of God's people.' Paul writes the same verse in Colossians 1:4 & again in Philippians 1:5. Check the word all’ occurs in all the three verses. Sadly, there are those who consider members of their fellowship as brothers but treat those belonging to other fellowships almost as enemies. What answer can such people give in the context of 1Corinthians 13:1-3 (CEV) where it says: 'What if I could speak all languages of humans and of angels? If I did not love others, I would be nothing more than a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. What if I could prophesy and understand all secrets and all knowledge? And what if I had faith that moved mountains? I would be nothing, unless I loved others. What if I gave away all that I owned and let myself be burned alive? I would gain nothing, unless I loved others?

Please read the following illustration:

Two men met on a plane and one man asked the other, "Are you a Christian?" "Yes I am." "Wonderful! Are you Protestant, Catholic, or Orthodox?" "I’m a Protestant." "That’s great. So am I. Are you Calvinist or Arminian in your theology?" "I’m happy to say that I’m a staunch Calvinist." "That’s fantastic. So am I. If you don’t mind my asking, are you a Calvinistic Baptist or a Calvinistic Presbyterian?" "I’m a Calvinistic Baptist." "What a coincidence. I’m a Calvinistic Baptist, too. Are you a Northern Calvinistic Baptist or a Southern Calvinistic Baptist?" "By heritage and by choice I am a Northern Calvinistic Baptist." "Unbelievable! So am I. May I ask if you are a Northern Regular Calvinistic Baptist or a Northern Conservative Calvinistic Baptist?" "I’m a Northern Conservative Calvinistic Baptist." "This is truly astounding. There are only 200 of us in the world—and two of us happened to meet on this plane. Tell me, sir, would you happen to be a Northern Conservative Calvinistic Baptist Convention of 1844 or a Northern Conservative Calvinistic Baptist Convention of 1868?" "I am a Northern Conservative Calvinistic Baptist Convention of 1844." "This is a miracle! Are you a Northern Conservative Calvinistic Baptist Convention of 1844 King James Version or a Northern Conservative Calvinistic Baptist Convention of 1844 New International Version?" "I am a Northern Conservative Calvinistic Baptist of 1844 New International Version." With that the first man ceased to smile, turned away and refused to speak any further to that ‘heretic’ (Sermoncentral.com).

Finally, let us close with 2Thessolonians 3:5 (CEV) that says: I pray that the Lord will guide you to be as loving as God and as patient as Christ.

Monday, July 22, 2013

The Preciousness of GOD’S WILL

 Introduction: One of the most distinguishing characteristic of Lord Jesus Christ is that He always practiced what He preached during His earthly life on this planet earth. John 8:29 (ESV) makes this point very clear, that goes like this: “And he who sent me is with me. He has not left me alone, for I always do the things that are pleasing to him." Jesus adds one more truth here: God’s presence will be with those who do His will. One should realize the preciousness of God’s presence; for wherever the Almighty God is present, there will not be lack of any good thing, whether its protection, provision, guidance, honor, grace or anything else.

But how are we to know God’s will? The Bible (God’s Word) talks about His likes and dislikes. Hence, it is our responsibility to study the Bible, know His will for any given situation and obey accordingly.

Let me highlight 7p’s that the Lord has prescribed in His Word to those who are desirous to know His will. Relevant quotes are given wherever necessary.

1. Pattern of thinking: Romans 12:2 (GNB) says: “Do not conform yourselves to the standards of this world, but let God transform you inwardly by a complete change of your mind. Then you will be able to know the will of God---what is good and is pleasing to him and is perfect.”

The above verse clearly says, to know the perfect will of God, we should change our thinking pattern. It obviously means, we should change our thinking from being worldly-based to Scripture-based. In other words, we can choose either worldly way of thinking or Scriptural way of thinking, but not both ways of thinking; as the consequences or rewards that follow will be different for both the ways. Some of the marks of worldly-based thinking are, not being content with what the Lord has given and craving for more, being possessive of possessions, proud of the position in the society, trying to exalt, trying to come up by hook or crook and so on. On the other way round, Scriptural-based thinking shows itself in being content in the Lord, finds pleasure in giving or sharing with the needy, humbly considers others better than themselves; waits for the Lord to help to come up in life and so on. This kind of change or transformation will take place in a person if one sincerely commits to the Lord Jesus. Only then, one can know the will of God.

A saying goes like this: ‘The safest place is to be in the will of God.

2. Personal life-style: As per Mark 12:14 (GNB) ‘some people came to Jesus and said, "Teacher, we know that you tell the truth, without worrying about what people think. You pay no attention to anyone's status, but teach the truth about God's will for people. . . .’
Those people mentioned above were actually Jesus’ critics. Even such people valued and declared His teachings to be priceless as it talked about God’s will without any bias. But how are we to respond to the critics of Jesus’ teachings? 1Peter 2:15 (ISV) gives the answer, where it says: ‘For it is God's will that by doing right you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish people.’ As per this verse, by doing right or doing well or by our good behavior, we can silence such people. In other words, it is the responsibility of professing believers to authenticate to the world, the tremendous authority, holiness and power of the Holy Scriptures through the Bible-based life-style. In this context, no one can say, “I will live my life, my way.”

Please read the following extract:

Years ago the communist government in China commissioned an author to write a biography of Hudson Taylor with the purpose of distorting the facts and presenting him in a bad light. They wanted to discredit the name of this consecrated missionary of the gospel. As the author was doing his research, he was increasingly impressed by Taylor’s saintly character and godly life, and he found it extremely difficult to carry out his assigned task with a clear conscience. Eventually, at the risk of losing his life, he laid aside his pen, renounced his atheism, and received Jesus as his personal Savior. Whether we realize it or not, our example leaves an impression on others. (www.Bible.org)

“A clear conscience is absolutely essential for distinguishing between the voice of God and the voice of the enemy. Unconfessed sin is a prime reason why many do not know God's will.” - Winkie Pratney

3. Purity: 1 Thessalonians 4:3 (GW) says: “It is God's will that you keep away from sexual sin as a mark of your devotion to him.”

Yes, it is the nature of God to be holy and He commands His children to be holy likewise. In the above verse, sexual purity is demanded- a vulnerable area of attack by the devil. Thus, anyone leading an immoral life and still professes to have God’s presence with him/her, is actually a person living in deception. Samson was in such a deception when he thought he could fight his enemies, the Philistines, just like how he has done the previous times, being unaware of the fact that the presence of God had left him due to his uncontrolled behavior towards the opposite sex, that resulted in his eyes being gouged-out followed by his untimely death – the consequences he could not evade (Judges 16:20-30). This is the consequence of choking God’s presence out of our lives – plain destruction. Therefore, if anybody thinks they are too smart in covering up secret sins, sugar-coat cunning attitudes, secretly lead a cruel or violent life, pamper jealously - whether secretly or openly, derive pleasure out of the suffering of others or indulging in any such deeds, cannot escape the consequences, as the Scriptures says, the Lord takes the crafty by their own craftiness and bring them to justice.

“God is interested in developing your character. At times He lets you proceed, but He will never let you go too far without discipline to bring you back. In your relationship with God, He may let you make a wrong decision. Then the Spirit of God causes you to recognize that it is not God's will. He guides you back to the right path.” - Henry Blackaby

4. Passing test: 1Thesselonians 3:3 (GNB) says: “so that none of you should turn back because of these persecutions. You yourselves know that such persecutions are part of God's will for us.”

The devil does all he can to block people from knowing God’s will. Even if His will is known, he will do all he can to deviate them from obeying Him. Hence, we are commanded in the Scriptures to hold-on to the will of God despite distractions and obstacles.

Read the following extract:

Let me tell you a story of a man you know. He is called by some 'a man of sorrows.' He was born into a poor family in 1809. His mother died when he was 9 years old. He ran for state legislature when he was 22 – lost. His fiancĂ©es died when he was 26. He marries at the age of 33 – she suffers from sever depression. He ran for US Congress at the age of 34 – lost. At 39 he ran for congress again – lost. At 41 his second oldest son dies. At 46 he ran for US Senate – lost. At 47 he ran for Vice President of the US – lost. At 49 he ran for Senate again – lost. By this time most people would have given up. But he wasn’t like most people. He dared to be different and at the age of 51 he ran for President of the United States and was elected. His name – Abraham Lincoln. Many may not know – but he was a devout Christian. He set himself apart, did not give in to criticism or disappointment. He dared to be different.  (Sermoncentral.com)

“In all things seek to know God's Will and when known obey at any cost.” - Jonathan Goforth

5. Prayer: 1John 5:14 (ISV) says: ‘And this is the confidence that we have in him: if we ask for anything according to his will, he listens to us.’

Many pray to God and expect an answer from Him. But the above verse says, He will answer our prayer if we pray according to His will. Therefore, knowing God’s will comes first, then praying accordingly makes our prayer effective, though not all issues are addressed in this order.

"Nowadays Christians appear to treat prayer as a means to accomplish their aims and ideas. If they possessed just a little deeper understanding, they would recognize that prayer is but man uttering to God what is God's will." - Watchman Nee

Matthew 26:39 (GW) says: After walking a little farther, he quickly bowed with his face to the ground and prayed, "Father, if it's possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. But let your will be done rather than mine."

In the above prayer, said just before His arrest that lead to His crucifixion, Lord Jesus, esteemed the will of the Father over His will – a tremendous lesson for us to follow – to accept God’s will, brushing aside our own will or wish, for He alone knows what is best for us.

“Pray till prayer makes you forget your own wish, and leave it or merge it in God's will.” - Frederick W. Robertson

6. Praising: 1Thessolonians 5:18 (KJV) says: ‘In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.’

Whoever thanks God in any situation, however unpleasant it may be, in obedience to this commandment, expresses faith in Him – a requirement to please Him.

Read the following extract:

Scottish minister Alexander Whyte was known for his uplifting prayers in the pulpit. He always found something for which to be grateful. One Sunday morning the weather was so gloomy that one church member thought to himself, "Certainly the preacher won't think of anything for which to thank the Lord on a wretched day like this." Much to his surprise, however, Whyte began by praying, "We thank Thee, O God that it is not always like this." (Daily Bread, August 26, 1989.)

“In almost everything that touches our everyday life on earth; God is pleased when we're pleased. He wills that we be as free as birds to soar and sing our maker's praise without anxiety.” - A.W. Tozer

7. Purpose of existence: 1Peter 4:2 (GNB) says: ‘From now on, then, you must live the rest of your earthly lives controlled by God's will and not by human desires.’

Living our life being controlled by His will should be the motivating reason for our existence. It implies we should be willing to change according to the knowledge of the Scriptures we acquire. The Scriptures say, if anyone just listens to the Word and does not follow it, will be like a person who builds his house upon sand – he can’t stand storms (problems). Even if God’s will look or seem to be very hard to take it, it’s the one and the only best plan for us. Once, we tune our lives to be controlled by His will, we will surely be blessed and will be a blessing to others. But, if any one will not accept the will of God or too careless to hold-on to it, end up being a loser.

“The surest method of arriving at the knowledge of God's eternal purposes about us is to be found in the right use of the present moment. God's will does not come to us in the whole, but in fragments and generally in small fragments. It is our business to piece it together and to live it into one orderly vocation.” - Frederick W. Faber

Consider another extract:

Bob Mumford in 'Take Another Look at Guidance', compares discovering God’s will with a sea captain’s docking procedure: A certain harbor in Italy can be reached only by sailing up a narrow channel between dangerous rocks and shoals. Over the years, many ships have been wrecked, and navigation is hazardous. To guide the ships safely into port, three lights have been mounted on three huge poles in the harbor. When the three lights are perfectly lined up and seen as one, the ship can safely proceed up the narrow channel. If the pilot sees two or three lights, he knows he’s off course and in danger. God has also provided three beacons to guide us. The same rules of navigation apply—the three lights must be lined up before it is safe for us to proceed. The three harbor lights of guidance are: 1. The Word of God (standard). 2. The Holy Spirit (witness). 3. Circumstances (providence.)

Isn’t this a very practical instruction on how to be sure about God’s will? The following quote says something similar.

“When we want to know God's will, there are three things which always concur: the inward impulse, the Word of God and the trend of circumstances. Never act until these three things agree.” - F.B. Meyer

Conclusion: The Lord delights so much in watching people accept His will that He declared in Mark 3:35 (ISV) : ‘For whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother."’ Brother or sister of Almighty God! Can there be a greater designation that anyone can achieve in this world?

As per 1Corinthians 1:1 (ISV), Paul introduces himself to the church in Corinth this way: ‘From Paul, called to be an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God . . .’ How true it is that one’s very calling into any venture has to be according to the will of God. In Acts 18:21 (ISV) we read: ‘As he told them goodbye, he said, "I will come back to you again if it is God's will." Then he set sail from Ephesus.’ Here again, we read about Paul, who told a group of believers in Ephesus that he would come back to them only under one condition, that is, if God wills. Yes, our desires should be molded into accepting the will of God in all matters, however big or insignificant they may seem to be.

Logically, who gets the revelation about God’s will for their lives (in finer detail, for that matter)? Those who are passive or active? ‘It’s easier to steer a moving vehicle than a stationary one’ so goes a common saying. Yes, the Lord guides those who are willing and doing something for Him. Consider the following passage where we read about how Paul and his friends were finally led to Macedonia when they were actively involved in God’s work.

Act 16:6-10 (CEV) says: 'Paul and his friends went through Phrygia and Galatia, but the Holy Spirit would not let them preach in Asia. After they arrived in Mysia, they tried to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus would not let them. So they went on through Mysia until they came to Troas. During the night, Paul had a vision of someone from Macedonia who was standing there and begging him, "Come over to Macedonia and help us!" After Paul had seen the vision, we began looking for a way to go to Macedonia. We were sure that God had called us to preach the good news there.'

Consider the following examples:

When David Livingstone was twelve years of age, he read an appeal for missionaries to go to China and he decided to go. His next decision was to be a medical missionary. With this in view he began to complete his medical studies. About the time he was ready to go, the Opium War broke out and Englishmen could not go to China. Robert Moffat was in England at that time telling of the South African mission. Livingstone was interested in Moffat’s story and said: “What is the use of waiting for the end of this abominable Opium War? I will go at once to Africa.” Thus the Holy Spirit led Livingstone to Africa and the dreadful slave trade was laid bare to the world. Alexander Mackay prepared for work in Madagascar, but was directed to Uganda, to aid in founding one of the most remarkable missions in the world. Carey proposed to go to the South Sea, but was guided divinely to India, to give the Bible in their native tongue to its teeming millions. (www.TanBible.com)

Being open to God’s guidance without holding-on to our past helps us in not missing out on His wonderful plan and purpose for our lives.

Please read the concluding illustration:

Wordsworth, in one of his poems, tells about a bird that was carried from Norway by a storm. It fought hard against the gale in its effort to win its way back to Norway, but all in vain. At last it yielded to the wind, and instead of being carried to destruction it was borne to the warm shores of England, to the green meadows and forests. So when we try to fight against God's will we are making efforts which will come to naught, and are doing so to our own injury and loss. But if we willingly accept God's will, it will be for our good; we shall be borne on to blessedness and joy.—John T. Montgomery, M. A. (www.moreillustrations.com)

Yes, there is grace of God in yielding to His will.

Matthew 7:21 (KJV) says: Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.

Behind our lives the Weaver stands,
And works His wondrous will;
We leave it in His all-wise hands,
And trust His perfect skill.—Selected.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Prevention of sexual assault - Biblically speaking . .

written by Bro Christopher Tharalla

The Chief Minister of Delhi herself had to acknowledge the fact that Delhi has become the ‘rape-capital of India’. One of every four rapes in Indian cities takes place in Delhi (Indiatimes.com). Only one person has been convicted out of 635 rape cases reported in New Delhi in the year 2012 (Indiatoday.intoday.in). According to latest data, the Union Home Ministry suggest, India stands third, when it comes to rape cases, after United States and South Africa (Expressindia.com).

The frightening fact is that any one can be raped anywhere and at any time. It’s a universal problem. The law of the land deals with the culprits, whose crime is comparable to murder, enhancing the quantum of punishment to control the menace, if required. While the Government through its various agencies and the women welfare associations do all they can to prevent such incidents; is there any role the women can play to prevent its happening? Some say, “No, it is only the mind-set or attitude of men that has to change.” Fine, but what is the guarantee that this change will come about after all the necessary efforts of educating men? Even if possible, isn’t it a matter of time? Until then, isn’t it safer for women to take precautions?

The Bible is never silent about any matter. Though written thousands of years ago, it is the most relevant book for all times, for the simple reason that its author is God Himself, whose wisdom none can fathom. The purpose of this article is to show some of the general instructions Bible offers to women which are especially needed in these days of physical and emotional insecurity.

Bible says: “Nothing is more disgraceful than rape” (Genesis 34:7 CEV). According to the Old Testament, rapists were to be put to death (Deuteronomy 22:25). The New Testament is even stricter as it says, “anyone who looks at a woman and wants to possess her is guilty of committing adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:28), let alone rape. This is the level of holiness that God expects from all people and no violator can escape the consequences.

We should not forget that we have an enemy called the devil whose main aim is to destroy us. He will conveniently use people who are available in our environment to achieve his goal: people who are mentally unsound or drunk or those with no proper up-bringing or whose parents themselves have set a bad example for them or those influenced by evil companions or those who have exposed themselves to enticing visuals that media offers and the sort. Such people are controlled by the evil spirits that make them do many harmful and unnatural things. For example, according to 2Samuel 13:1, Amnon fell in love with his step-sister (Tamar) – an unnatural idea. Being her step-brother, Amnon, instead of being protective of her, turned out to be her rapist. All kinds of abnormality come from the devil through those who choose to yield to him.

According to 2Samuel 13:13 (GNB), Tamar told Amnon (when he attempted to rape her): “How could I ever hold up my head in public again? And you---you would be completely disgraced in Israel. Please, speak to the king, and I'm sure that he will give me to you." First, she tried to drill sense into his head by talking about the consequence of his evil plan. It did'nt work. (Proverbs 14:16 CEV says: "Only a stupid fool is never cautious - so be extra careful and stay out of trouble.") Then, obviously, just to escape from the impending predicament, she asked him to speak to the king and that the king would oblige him. (Incest was forbidden in Old Testament - Leviticus 20:17). Yes, anyone under such circumstances will do their best to escape by saying such things with the hope that the predator may change his mind and that is what she did. But she wasn’t successful. Being stronger than her, he overpowered her and raped her. Divine intervention is really required at this point of time.

The best thing one can do for protection from any assault is to come under God’s protection. In this context, consider Psalms 91:14 (GNB) where God says, "I will save those who love me and will protect those who acknowledge me as LORD. Psalms 31:20 (ESV) says: “In the cover of your presence you hide them from the plots of men.” Yes, come to Jesus for protection. Commit your life to Him and experience His protection and honor. Once when He is in control of your life, everything will be different.
We shall look at some of the instructions that the Bible offers:

1. Your close friends/companions.

2Corinthians 6:14 (CEV) says: “Stay away from people who are not followers of the Lord! Can someone who is good get along with someone who is evil? Are light and darkness the same?” (This verse is commonly quoted in the context of choosing life-partner but is applicable to all in general). Again in 2Corinthians 6:17 (GNB): the Lord says, "You must leave them and separate yourselves from them. Have nothing to do with what is unclean, and I will accept you.” Obviously, these verses do not say that we should cutoff all links with non-believers; it means we can have anyone as friends but only believers should be close friends. Many decisions are made under the influence of close friends; hence, it is important to decide on the kind of close friends we keep.

The Old Testament is the shadow of the New Testament. The establishing of this principle has its shadow in the Old Testament where it says: “Thou shall not plow with an ox and an ass together”  (Deuteronomy 22:10 KJV).

As an example, consider Nehemiah 13:26 (ESV) that says: “Did not Solomon king of Israel sin on account of such women? Among the many nations there was no king like him, and he was beloved by his God, and God made him king over all Israel. Nevertheless, foreign women made even him to sin.” The Lord loves everyone equally, whether believers or non believers, but He will not find pleasure with those who allow themselves to be influenced by the heathen to withdraw from following Him. Once God’s presence is choked-out of our life, we can anticipate every kind of attack from the evil one.

2. Visiting certain places.

Psalms 1:1 (BBE) says: “Happy is the man who does not go in the company of sinners, or take his place in the way of evil-doers, or in the seat of those who do not give honor to the Lord.”

This verse does not need any explanation.

Consider, Proverbs 20:1 (BBE) that says: “Wine makes men foolish and strong drink makes men come to blows; and whoever comes into error through these is not wise.” How can one practically follow this verse? Suppose you plan to go to a party or a place where you very well know that liquor would be served. The question is, don’t you know that once men are intoxicated (anyone for that matter), they will not be able to realize the consequence of what they do? Are you not putting yourself in a vulnerable situation by going there? Isn’t it something like jumping into a lion’s enclosure in a zoo and expecting to be safe?

Also, Ephesians 5:18 (CEV) says: “Don't destroy yourself by getting drunk.” Drinking reduces the tendency to resist any intruder and the net result could be disastrous. So is the case with (forbidden) drugs.

3. Avoid.

Yes, avoid going to or going through lonely and irrelevant places, especially late nights without proper security.

2Samuel 13:9 (GNB) says: . . . Amnon said (just before raping Tamar), "Send everyone away"---and they all left. Then the assault took place. Notice that lonely environment is an ideal one for things like this to happen. Job 24:15 (GNB) says: “The adulterer waits for twilight to come; he covers his face so that no one can see him.” Yes, night is the time when the devil and his followers will be most active.

Consider the passage, Genesis 34:1-2 (GNB): “One day Dinah, the daughter of Jacob and Leah, went to visit some of the Canaanite women.” When Shechem son of Hamor the Hivite, who was chief of that region, saw her, he took her and raped her. Now the question is, what was the need for Dinah to go to the Canaanite women? Was it-

• To learn their customs? The Lord clearly told the Israelites that they should not follow the customs of any heathen nation.

• To show off her beauty? Whatever her foolish reason was, the fact remains that she went there and put herself and her family in trouble.

4. Maintain limits.

According to statistics, in most of the cases, the rapists were known to the victims (implying involvement of friends, cousins, colleagues etc). Many cases are not reported for fear of social stigma attached. Thus, relevant distance has to be kept with any one of the opposite sex, whether known or unknown. Once certain limits are crossed, one step leads to the next and stopping then would be next to impossible. Ultimately what happens, happens as no brakes were applied in the initial stages.

You have to set your own personal boundaries for your self, taking into account your areas of weakness, vulnerability and your culture and be firm about not crossing them. For example, avoid inviting or receiving or initiating intimate form of physical contact, like embracing, kissing, caressing, etc. Also, discussing personal issues and interacting behind closed doors with the opposite sex have to be avoided. Under the banner of being social and broad minded, limits should not be crossed. This is for your own safety.

Consider 2Samuel 13:2 (GNB) that says: “. . . it seemed impossible for him (Amnon) to have her (Tamar); as a virgin, she was kept from meeting men.” This verse clearly shows that this principle was understood and followed well in that particular culture during those days.

5. Clothing/Appearance.

1Timothy 2:9 (ISV) says: “Women, for their part, should display their beauty by dressing modestly and decently in appropriate clothes, not by braiding their hair or by wearing gold, pearls, or expensive clothes.” Key words used are: Modestly and decently. These should be the norm for professing believers. The question is, why has the Lord given instruction to the fairer sex to be dressed that way? What could be the reason? What will happen if it is not followed? Will the nature around us or the animals around be affected in any way? Isn’t provoking men the only thing that can possibly happen ? (Note that we are talking about indecent dress not decent dress). But why? Men throughout history have reacted that way. Isn’t it why the Lord has given this command about dressing? Hence, if anyone says, "If my clothes provokes men, it’s not my problem."; isn’t it a childish statement made out of ignorance? We are individuals but living in an environment consisting of other individuals. So the environment we live in has to be taken into consideration even while making our own personal decisions. Thus, no believer can say, “I will dress however I like”.

Some might say: “but decently dressed people are also molested, even children and the old”. Isn’t it simple to understand that for a mentally unsound molester, the clothes of the victim or children or aged, do not matter but what about the others? Also, understand that rapists do not decide to victimize any women by looking at the kind of dress they may be wearing (modest or immodest), they attack helpless and the vulnerable. Thus, the question of one’s clothes being the cause of rape does not arise. But statistic show that indecent clothing contribute to the increase in sexual assualts on women in any society.

Rapists are not interested in just sex, if so, they would have gone to prostitutes (God forbid). They basically want to be in the position of power and violate the helpless. Specific causes for molestation can vary from case to case and thus can’t be generalized. Better to trust in the Lord with all our heart without leaning on our own understanding by just doing what God’s Word says about dressing and leave the rest to Him.

6. Provocation.

After Amnon had his way, he threw her out of the house. 2Samuel 13:16 (GNB) says: "No," she (Tamar) answered. "To send me away like this is a greater crime than what you just did!" But Amnon would not listen to her. Obviously, he wanted to blame her to be responsible for what has happened (even though it was he who was completely responsible) and thus chased her away. In other words, after raping her, he wanted to falsely brand her as one who provoked him.

Consider Joseph, who was wrongly accused of molestation by his master’s wife. Genesis 39:14 (GNB) says: she called to her house servants and said, "Look at this! This Hebrew that my husband brought to the house is insulting us. He came into my room and tried to rape me, but I screamed as loud as I could. In fact, it was she who consistently provoked him to sin but he did not yield to her secret wishes.

Consider a particular case of molestation. Is provocation involved? If so, who provoked whom? This is something only the ones involved will know. They may blatantly lie and blame the other person to be responsible for whatever happened. But God knows the truth. He is a just God. He will see that truth is kept safe by disproving the words of liars. Proverbs 5:21-23 (CEV) says: “The LORD sees everything, and he watches us closely. Sinners are trapped and caught by their own evil deeds. They get lost and die because of their foolishness and lack of self-control.” Thus, provocation, whether directly or indirectly, secretly or openly, even for fun’s sake, is dangerous and none can escape its consequences.

7. Fear.

Entertaining fear, fear of being sexually assaulted, amounts to inviting the devil. (Attackers are more likely to go for those who are fearful and those they think cannot defend themselves). Job 3:25 (Darby) says: “For I feared a fear, and it hath come upon me, and that which I dreaded hath come to me.” Lot of devastation has taken place in Job’s life. He later confessed that what he feared most had happened to him. Biblically, fear is from the devil. Thus, devil feels welcomed where fear is entertained and he will cause destruction as that is what his nature is. On the other side, boldness brings God’s presence with all its fullness. Hence, numerous times in the Scriptures we are commanded to be bold. Hebrews 13:6 (GNB) says: Let us be bold, then, and say, "The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid. What can anyone do to me?" Repeat this verse aloud.



After Tamar was raped “. . . she soon moved into Absalom’s (Tamar’s brother) house, but she was always sad and lonely (2Samuel 13:20 CEV). Many say a rape-victim can never be the same anymore. (Of course, with God all things are possible; He can erase a person’s history and fill her with the power of the Holy Spirit, if sincere commitment to Him follows. According to the Bible, Lord Jesus Christ alone can do this as He alone overcame sin and defeated death). The physical and emotional trauma caused by a sexual assault can be intense and long-lasting. What is done can’t be undone. Therefore, as an old saying goes, ‘Prevention is better than cure’.

If any one will say, “I will wear whatever I want and I will go wherever I want and drink whatever I want with anyone I like at any time. It’s my right. But nobody should touch me”. Fine. It’s your life. But then, you should realize that these are the thoughts of an unbeliever and not of one who is a child of Jesus Christ.

(The corresponding article for men is found in my older posts with the title: On what is your heart set on ?)