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Posts Tagged ‘Christian living’

(Originally posted in Guide to His Word/-heroes of Faith of 24 July,2018)

In the transfiguration of Jesus Christ we have a clue as to the state of our bodies after death. Jesus took his disciples Peter James and John apart, and at the mount occurred an event that Jesus wanted them to keep to themselves “Tell this vision unto no man, until the Son of man be risen again from the dead(v.9).” God had refused Moses to enter the Promised Land, right? But after death he is deputed with a delicate task by God. It is the point we shall try to understand.
So our present purpose our focus is on Moses and we read thus:“Behold there appeared unto them Moses and Elias talking with him (v.3 ) Matt.17:1-8. In short Moses after death was pressed into service. Does this not inform us that Christian Living in essence is service whether we are in physical or spiritual body? The Parable of the Rich man and Lazarus also gives us a clue: the rich man in agony asking Abraham to let Lazarus cool his tormented soul (Lk.16:24) would indicate that there is life after life.
Our topic here is to show from the life of Moses how faith grades entire life experience of a child of God, both seemingly unfortunate and fortunate events consistent about it. Christian Life similarly is about faith holding spiritual blessings in body and spiritual bodies find match in the Body.
Our lives about faith, which was invisible as Spirit so we may speak with conviction our spiritual discernment leading step by step to Christ owes to the spirit of faith, a gift from the Creator God. In the life of Moses we shall see this very clearly from scriptural passages in the Old and New. Spiritual discernment of Moses persuaded him to suffer affliction with the people of God than enjoy pleasure his pomp and circumstance allowed. In order to become a hero of faith he had to be trained in the way God had in mind. In submitting to them he became a hero of faith.

When God called him out by the burning bush that did not consume itself Moses was nervous first, but God had to make his faith grow. He asked Moses to cast his stick on the ground. He did and it became a snake. He ran in fright (Ex.4:3). God insisted that he took back his rod and he did. Having given him an idea of faith that overcame his natural nervousness God sent him to cause ten plagues on the whole land of Egypt. As commanded of God he obeyed him. On one occasion he stretched forth his rod and the Lord sent an east wind upon the land all that day and all that night. It was the wind and God who made the locusts fill the land. “Before them there were no such locusts as they, neither after…(Ex.10:14).” In a manner of speaking His rod was extension of his faith and he in turn was figuratively faith of God. Remember the expression finger of God? It is how Jesus qualified his healing(Lk.11:20). This is how it is while we are on the earth. Our lives are extension of God in faith.

So what is Christian Living? Is it not our spiritual body within glory of God? When our faith radiates the holy city of New Jerusalem shall be lit with glory. In short this glory connects with Christ Jesus the Head and the glorious Church, his Body.
Moses was a hero of faith that made him spokesman for his people. “And there arose not a prophet since in Israel like unto Moses whom the Lord knew face to face. (Deut.34:10;Ex.33:11;Nu:12:8).
ii
Let us apply the law of gradation to distinguish peaks and lows of his life. Due to lack of space we shall merely limit to a few instances
Alienation.
Baby Moses was plucked from the bosom of his mother and cast down along the river. Moses when came of age must have been aware of the circumstances of his infancy and probably sublimated hatred of the nation against his race. On an impulse he came between a private quarrel between an Egyptian and a Hebrew. He killed the Egyptian. Next day it was a quarrel between two Hebrews. His attempt to make peace was brutally rebuffed by his country man and his sense of alienation needed no further proof. He did not belong to the race of man. All that leisurely study and scholarship of his mature period was a waste. Against this let us place his self-imposed exile for forty years. While he tended the flock of sheep for his father-in-law at Midian what made him survive but the sense of alienation? He must have realized he belonged neither to his own nation who rejected him and to the adopted nation for their prejudice. Seething anger and a family to take care must have kept him going. Psychologically his alienation allowed him to come to terms with his exile.
When God chooses anyone for service He makes the many earlier vicissitudes and blessings come to terms with one other. Law of Gradation shall always make room for faith to fill in the gaps of emotional and psychological scars and work complete healing.
Benny

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A Fable :What Price Grace? ©
One pastor having misled his flock by heretical teaching wanted to put a stop to it. Not from any sense of guilt but he had made millions and besides was diagnosed with terminal cancer. He had made people believe white was black,- that in his case was making God pass for the Angel of Disobedience. Now in his battle with cancer all his illgotten gains went into his physician’s fees and the undertaker’s bill.
Before he died he had utmost satisfaction that he made peace with God. Only that he didn’t specify exactly who heard his confesson or pardoned his wicked life. God or Devil?
When angels came to the throne of God the Ancient of the Days said, ‘He made peace with me or I forgave his foolishness from the day he climbed the pulpit.’
Angels read out his life and his work and said the dead man’s flock was still going strong and was perverting his Word. Angel Gabriel was certain that the megachurch of the late pastor was still a Coven of Wickedness. ‘O Lord God you only have the dead carcass. The soul of the dead is still waxing eloquent.’
God called Satan and said, ‘You have your man. Do what you will.’
God who had forgiven was the god of the living so He set things in motion to clean up the Church.
benny

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Luk 24:5-6

“Why do you look for the living among the dead? 6He is not here; he has risen!

I consider Christian living quintessentially is a point of view of an individual correctly understood and lived from that standpoint. Unless one knew his mind it would be a constant struggle to right himself and hold the position where he ought to be. If we seek thus a clear point of view others also are entitled to theirs. As a Christian my concern is with the living. Of these Risen Christ is like the pole star that mariners of old took their bearing. If others seek their salvation from dead works what am I to fault them? They serve their masters gurus,shamans and preachers. I have found my savior and it suits me to live in the land of the living and to seek His Will in charting my course.

Nu 21: 9 So Moses made a bronze snake and put it up on a pole. Then when anyone was bitten by a snake and looked at the bronze snake, he lived.

We read in the Old Testament of putting up a bronze snake. Material to make the snake came from the free will offerings of the people. There were also men whose art excelled in fashioning snakes as well as ark of the covenant.

The saving of their lives was not in their own works, art or in their symbols. Instead it counted on their faith. We read that their murmurings didn’t end with it. They were rebellious people whose attention span for things of God was indeed very short. Like Simon Peter who could receive the revelation from God and could not mind the things of God just as easily he received it. The same Simon Peter wanted to experience what it is to be Jesus. But his faith was so little he could not keep up with his master.(Mt.14:28-31)The children of Israel were of divided mind so God’s majesty could not be appreciated or kept in their rebellious hearts. Bronze serpent or a miracle of Jesus to men of little faith are dead works. Then there are false preachers who wish to establish their control over others. Even this day we are of little faith we can only be moved by supposedly miracles performed by preachers and healers who are in most cases dubious and of little merit. Those who seek Christ among the dead works remain like the proverbial house divided.

The lesson of Easter teaches us to fix our standpoint correctly. The Word, Life and Vision are three legged stool to give us stability. Many stranded rope is, as the Bible teaches us, not easily broken. A tripod is stable. Our stability is established on His Word,our life and in our vision. Of the last our vision is focused on Risen Christ and not an historical Jesus.  Simon Peter looked at the boisterous waves rather than his master and he began to sink. Easter celebrates Risen Christ and life, and not death. Not dead works either.

Simon Peters plight in this context teaches us to keep our focus on the Risen Christ. ‘I am the Resurrectiion and life, said he. If what we believe cannot be translated into action it is of little use. Apostle James speaks analogy of Christian living to the mirror. We see our lives reflected in the Word but we soon forget what we saw thereon since we do not do what we need to do.

We live in an age of instant gratification; we also have cultivated many attitudes to prove we are in the swim of things. There are buzz words like quality time,tough love and proactive. Do they really mean anything worthwhile? Of course not. If we cannot make our time count in quality we are wasting it. In driving our children on the wrong path by our negligence and foolishness any toughness we imagine by doling out love is non starter.

The angel announced to the women to proceed to Galilee but we read that Jesus himself appeared to them. Angels are all  right but salvation is not for them to give. (Mt 28:5-9)The sign of New Age it must be that people are talking of their guardian angels as though they are talking of houseplants. They will need much more than pruning and quality of mulch to make sense of what they mean by angels. A guardian angel for them is like a security blanket to hold on to in times of their stress. Well it suits them to feel secure with their buzz words. These buzz words are short cuts to thinking. As a Christian my point of view is set on Christ whose words are unchangeable. Since he has overcome death, his words also shall live on. We need to seek him among the living.

Mt 28:”All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. vs.18.And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” vs.20

benny

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Turning the other cheek principle of Jesus Christ well illustrates the process of making an unmerited hurt to something better. It is indeed of an higher plane.  By submitting to the unjust action you have warded off natural human reaction. It is human response to react in the same manner to an action. Iron sharpens iron and hatred draws hatred and if a kick in the shins is given who would not kick back? If one can stop reacting from the guts to a hurt, one is in control of himself.

Grace can only work with those who are in control of one self.

Fruits of grace are shared but you change your old ways by having  taken a conscious decision. If you give water to drink when your enemy is thirsty it is said you win him over. You crushed his enmity and won a friend as well.  Grace is positive. Grace is potent that it can change person’s attitudes and thinking as well.

Grace is process of life where decisions are consciously taken and the effects serve a Christian to rise higher as a pelican will use the thermal. It is said God has made us sit in heavenly places. Grace makes you climb ever higher. Changing and impacting others in a positive way.  Next I shall discuss the difference between the works and grace.

benny

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Two prostitutes during  the  time of King Solomon decided to have  children. Both believed they were better off with a child who would be their support. Bearing a child meant for them hardship since they had nothing much to live on during the time they carried their babies in their womb. Nevertheless their future security outweighed everything else.

In due time they gave birth.  Of course one child died. Its mother put the dead child by the other mother and took here child. She claimed it was her child. The two mothers  quarrelled and took the matter to the wise King.  The child’s mother let her claim aside when the king decreed that the baby should be split into two each part going to one.

Here we see a mother lifting her sorrow that passed into something sublime. The other remained eaten by her hatred. She invited herself a painful memory that would dog her to the grave. An orphan makes himself a double orphan by griping all his life against his orphan state.

In My Sunday Best I mentioned how Israel could have ennobled her tragic history when she was an outcast in Russia and Europe and many other places. Israel unfortunately has locked itself in its own past and thrown the key away. I do not think any one is going to search the key and give it back.

If I cannot make my experience however black, and embroider with hope, good will and tolerance I keep my life none the wiser. By making a change if I fail I shall know my limits. By pursuing a new way of giving it a certain color (worthy of me), I would have set a higher goal for myself. Perhaps it may become my reality and very much part of my being.  Only I can do it. Why? Because I trust in God as the ulimate in goodness.  Grace for me is the process it is not cut and paste job but genuine. Consider Joseph who outgrew his terrible past. When his brethren came for a hand out his friendliness was not put on. Instead it was his unshakeable faith in the Lord God.

benny

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Text

Isaiah 6:1-10(NIV)

1 In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted, and the train of his robe filled the temple. 2 Above him were seraphs, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. 3 And they were calling to one another:
“Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty;
the whole earth is full of his glory.”

4 At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke.

5 “Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty.”

6 Then one of the seraphs flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. 7 With it he touched my mouth and said, “See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.”

8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?”
And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”

9 He said, “Go and tell this people:
” ‘Be ever hearing, but never understanding;
be ever seeing, but never perceiving.’

10 Make the heart of this people calloused;
make their ears dull
and close their eyes. [a]
Otherwise they might see with their eyes,
hear with their ears,
understand with their hearts,
and turn and be healed.” (NIV)

Footnotes:

  1. Isaiah 6:10 Hebrew; Septuagint ‘You will be ever hearing, but never understanding; / you will be ever seeing, but never perceiving.’ / 10 This people’s heart has become calloused; / they hardly hear with their ears, / and they have closed their eyes

Introduction

Isaiah’s vision was primarily regarding the nation of Israel and also concerning himself.  His role in it was very clear: he was sent to be among the children of Israel.  A prophet by definition is one who is sent.

Each of us is placed and we have a mission too. My present intention is not to explain the vision in terms of history of Israel  but in its broadest sense. What is the role of a Christian among those who do not share the same calling as he has?

Now who witnesses the vision? Isaiah.

What has set up the vision?  Here we need to get the nature and role of soul right.

soul

Soul of man is aware of the deeper things of God. Soul that is in the cross-hair of man’s destiny and in his present circumstances is where the Word of God makes contact. It is also where man begins in his search for truth. It is not anything of a body that may be anatomically located. Think of it something of an aura that each of us bear about as magnetic lines about the earth. ( True North and magnetic North are two different aspects of the same Soul and being are somewhat similar.)

When we speak of art and literature  and we impact others soul is at work.  A literary characte like Don Quixote holds mirror to our nature and it is soul that convinces the truth of human condition. Secular literature that lifts us to a higher plane and sets truth of human condition from particular to general owe to the soul for force and effect.

Profane and sacred art and literature use the same symbols and literary artifices  and where these make us examine Truth however little, belongs to the realm of soul.

The vision of Isaiah therefore we may consider as a projection of his soul.

Nature of man -Israel and gentile

Isaiah saw this vision not because he was any better than other children of Israel.  Of them we read thus:Be ever hearing, but never understanding;
be ever seeing, but never perceiving.’ vs.9

The Children of Israel show certain traits as we read the Scriptures. They give reverence to their prophets but their hearts are far from them. They stone their prophets and inter them in beautiful tombs.   They are like the elder son in the parable of Jesus: quick to promise and loath to fulfil it.  Jesus lived some six centuries later than Isaiah but found them as stiff necked and stubborn as Moses had earlier. They were like wine with the lees well settled at the bottom. The exile to Babylon as well as the destruction of their temple in 70 AD were a kind of shaking up the unruly nation from their complacency. Even now we see something of that in their handling of Palestine problem. Having tasted the heartache of being hounded out everywhere they now close their hearts to their brothers whose tragedy is pendant on them. In their success of  finding home their shame begins.  Do they not respect memory of their own suffering ? No.  They could lifted  their experience to something noble and divine had they shown mercy  and generosity of spirit.  Their implacable hostility even to yield an inch is merely a sad comment on their nature.

Even so they are humans and they are far from perfect.

We are also, even as they,  imperfect beings. While we attribute God with Absolute values we as finite beings can only handle truth as humans. We represent  certain kind of truth and speak truth when it suits us but we shall never be Truth as God is God of Truth. We also show certain kind of love and love dearly when it suits us. But we can never measure up to Love in its Highest. Religion is for the imperfect beings. They first of all need to know truth about themselves.  In the previous post Overheard I had touched on the role of religion. We ought to know the truth of ourselves in our mind and hearts. Only when we know that we can go onto the perfection that the Scriptures talk about.

The children of Israel rejected Jesus saying they had Moses and Abraham. They could only see the Son of man as from the devil. We are in no way better.  We hold on to our antecedents, name, family that we cannot bear the cross. We are full of ourselves that we cannot accept the truth we have to become like children and learn lessons in humility. In short we starve in land of plenty. When grace is poured from high we cannot recieve it.

We deceive ourselves.

We taint the earth.

In the vision Isaiah hears: ‘The whole earth is full of His glory’.. If seraphs should attest that it must be so. For they see the face of the Lord Creator day and night. Whereas what do we see? We see so much misery and violence; we see wicked prosper and innocent people for lack of understanding get caught in the wiles of the rogues. We invent new ways only for the ungodly to use more ways to enrich themselves. Phishing, a new word for the times we live in! The wicked hear words like’ wages if sin is death or God is the refuge of widows and the poor’.

Do they care? Of course not. We also hear God’s voice and it may be a whisper sweetly dropped in our REM state. Do we hold on to it. Thorns of our daily lives choke it. Cares of the world sometimes come from Satan. These are like thorns and tares crowding out the qualities that speak of us.  Because of such concerns that what shall we eat and what shall we put on we become more focused on body than our soul. We miss out the more vital truth about ourselves in our hurry to make a living.

Why, we have  seen how the wicked prosper and cynically assume  the riches of the world are to the evil and wicked. We may not do evil but our shortcomings are only matter of degrees. Therefore we shall make no impression by trying to improve them. Our unbelieving heart will not make disbelief of another go away. It is like pot calling the kettle black. Hypocrisy of a Christian is to preach good news when his own life does not celebrate good news. (I mean in the real sense that it does not reach deeper and change some of his persisting habits that still cling to him.)

We speak of child molesters and murderers as evil and we still keep hatreds and deprive children their chances. When we beggar the resources of the earth and leave a poor environment are we not doing violence to them? What did Jesus speak of those who put a stumbling block in the way of children. We cannot escape by pointing by comparing with others.

Glory of God still visible”-He who has eyes let him see 

How many of us can claim the vision of seraphs since vision or glory of God is  not whatis our priority or what eats us in our daily lives.

Merely because we do not see as Prophet Isaiah it would not mean such visions do not exist.

God’s glory will always fill the earth. One may dismiss this as nonsense. His glory fills every crevice and interstices of man and nature. How can God deny His own because man cares not forsuch things?”

A Christian is a sign

A man in his imperfection is still a key and a sign. This is what the vision driving at. Isaiah was as imperfect as you and me. But God asks ‘who shall be a witness for me?’ I do not believe God wanted a sinner to go to the nation and preach,’Sin no more!’ I do not subscribe to the idea that  we can convert truly without converting ourselves first in a way acceptable to God.

Let me quote:” Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty.”

6 Then one of the seraphs flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. 7 With it he touched my mouth and said, “See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.”

These verses have always quickened me then as now. We have all our favorite verses. These in particular have always made me as though I were instantly transported to His presence.

A live coal is something burnt beyond its former state. The green freshness of life is absent and yet it still has power: the twig is torn of its tree and being burnt has no sap. It is still hot and live. It must indicate regenerative power and is not former life continuing after its fashion. Every Christian living on grace must hold something similar. He knows he is nothing but still has power to lead his life as a witness. This is the crux of the vision of Isaiah.

We are bundles of imperfections but when covered with His grace we are Christians and live on an enhanced level like hot coals. Grace is all that we can show before others and not our own righteousness.

benny

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Soul as I mentioned in the earlier posts has its own language; so has our rational mind. Soul of man is a finite representation of something otherworldly. Thus we have two components :body and soul. Both work often at contrary purposes.
Let us take the life of Patriarch Abraham. He was seventy five when the Lord God promised him a nation (Gen 12:2). In the land of Sichem, a Canaanite land God appeared to him in a vision. ‘Unto thy seed will I give this land.’ It is Soul that sets up visions that to a believing heart shall have a great impact. Moses sees the burning bush and what does he do? He removes his sandals in obedience to the vision of God.  Similarly the day of Pentecost prompts Ananias and Sapphira. Soul’s prompting must have been sufficiently strong for them to sell their possession as so many others. But did they follow it through?
Others brought the proceeds from the sale to the common fund. Cold logic however prompted Ananias and his wife to reconsider. ‘If they gave away all their wealth on what shall they live on? (Ac 4:32, 5:1-3) Here we see how differently soul and body exert their pull on man?
Coming back to Patriarch Abraham could not in his worldly wisdom believe Sarai could bear children. He chose to go into Hagar and she bore Ishmael as a result of the union. Since then Ishmael’s seed posed an ever present threat,- and still is, to the children of Israel. We see how sometimes our intellect can trip us up.
Spirit is what settles a man to walk the line after he had believed the Soul’s prompting. Spirit is part of the equation where each and everyone who takes the name of the Lord may live a fruitful life. (2 Pe.1:3-8)
St. Peter begins the second epistle with the idea of divine power, which is a two- fold impact of soul and spirit on a body that is imperfect. We wear our corruptible bodies and yet we are slowly undergoing a certain process that can only be called divine. Since God has begun this change in us we may say godliness begins even in our very imperfections. Only that we are subject to a higher authority while we go through the motions of living on this side of paradise.
Tailpiece: For a Christian the scriptures is the work of Holy Spirit (2 Pe 1:21) Even so how a Christian can be settled in a life of godliness is a slow process. Spirit has much to do since it is a spirit of belief, of knowledge and so on.
benny

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