From sorrow to Joy

September 30, 1986: A lanky and frail in flesh but superbly strong in Spirit man was taken into an operating room in the Christian Medical College, Vellore, for a triple bypass open heart surgery. Even on his way to the operating room, he was recorded to have been cheerful as he was always. He was joking with the doctors telling them that they should not stitch him after the surgery but just sew a zip on him so that they could easily open him should there be a need to in the future, as he was taken to the surgery which nearly took six hours to complete. Following the surgery, the heart that was in his frail body failed. It was a heart that was dedicated to take the good news of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the Bondo tribe in Malkangiri, Orissa, as no one else had. It was the heart of the missionary, Dr. R.A.C. Paul. It was a heart that was a heart after God’s own heart. It was the heart of my earthly father, my ‘Appa’.

A few days later, when my brother Ragland Remo Paul and I came to learn of my father’s departure from this present world into the glorious one that is to come, I wailed and cried with deep sorrow in my heart, accepting little to no consolation from my mother, Dr. Iris. G.R. Paul or Dr. Jeyapaul Sitther and his family, the missionary friends who accompanied her. I missed my dad and I was sorrowful.

September 30, 1990: I, an young child was on my knees in the cold floor of the service hall in Public School in Sunabeda, Orissa as the lanky preacher, Dr. R. Stanley who founded Blessing Youth Mission (BYM) was giving a fiery message in which I remember, he was calling out a  checklist of sins. I also remember that I seemed to have a check mark, pretty much against every sin that was on that list. It weighed heavy in me and as I knelt down, tears were streaming from my eyes when I recognized that while I was still a sinner and an enemy of God, God sent His Only begotten Son Jesus Christ, who sacrificed Himself and died for me to pay the wages of my sins.  Preacher Stanley then proceeded to give the call to Salvation stating that all who put their trust in Jesus will not be ashamed and all who believe in Him [Jesus] will have  their mourning turned in joy for He shall turn their sorrows into joy. In response, I committed my life to the Lordship of Jesus accepting his Grace and Salvation, Trusting and Believing in Him. After praying the prayer of repentance, I remember vividly that I felt elated and joyous when I learned that a byproduct of my confession in faith, snatched me from the clutches of eternal death, where I was heading otherwise. I had been adopted into the family of God, and the Creator God who had made me had now remade me as new creature that could address Him as ‘Abba’ father.

Not until late that evening while traveling back home to Malkangiri from Sunabeda, did it dawn on me that four years earlier, exactly to that day, I had lost my earthly father.

September 30, 1986 was a day of sorrow, robbing me of the joy of being a son to a father, as I had lost my wonderful earthly father, Dr. R.A.C. Paul.
September 30, 1990 was a day of joy, a joy that no man can take away from me, as I had gained the Wonderful heavenly Father, the Great I AM.

Today, many years later since that life changing day, I can confidently state that My God is indeed the Father to the fatherless.
He [Jesus] had turned my day of sorrows into a day of joy (literally).

Jeremiah 31:13 (KJV)
13 Then shall the virgin rejoice in the dance, both young men and old together: for I will turn their mourning into joy, and will comfort them, and make them rejoice from their sorrow.

John 16:20,22 (KJV)
Verily, verily, I say unto you, That ye shall weep and lament, but the world shall rejoice: and ye shall be sorrowful, but your sorrow shall be turned into joy.
22 And ye now therefore have sorrow: but I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man taketh from you.

Pillars of God

Two of the four definitions of the word ‘Pillar’ in the Merriam-Webster’s dictionary are
1. a firm upright support for a superstructure and
2. a supporting, integral, or upstanding member or part

The Bible informs us that the church is the pillar and ground of the truth (1 Timothy 3:14). You and I who believe in Jesus Christ, are the church which is a pillar. We must be firm and upright as God has made us (Ecclesiastes 7:29) so that we can support and be an integral upstanding member that holds up Jesus Christ.

Points(s) to ponder:
How are you and I as pillars of God? Are we firm and not falling to our own inventions/schemes? Those who stand firm till the end shall be saved (Matthew 24:13). Are we upright and supportive as an integral part of the body of Jesus Christ?

Jesus is not only freeware but shareware

Those in the technology industry are familiar with software that is labeled as freeware, which means that it costs the recipient nothing. In many cases, freeware is usually also shareware, which means that it is to be shared. But often, the recipient does not bother to share what they have freely received. In our Christian life, many of us Christians act in such manner as well. We hoard Jesus whom we have freely received instead of sharing Jesus with others, who don’t know or have Him.

One of the songs I learned when I was a child was the one by Carol Owens, “Freely, freely (God forgave my sin)”.
The lyrics of this song are as follows:
God forgave my sin, in Jesus’ Name. I’ve been born again in Jesus’ Name
and in Jesus’ Name, I come to you, to share His Love as He told me to.
He said: ‘Freely, freely, you have received; freely, freely give

Go in my Name and because you believe, others will know that I live’
All power is given in Jesus’ name, In earth and heaven in Jesus’ name
And in Jesus’ name I come to you; To share His power as He told me to.

I never paid much attention to the words of this song till recently, when I was reminiscing on what we, who believe in Jesus Christ, have received. We have received Jesus Christ, the most precious treasure of All, the very essence of God, and the possessor of ALL possessions. In other words, we have received everything one wants and needs when we believe in Jesus Christ. Freely, we have received, but this free gift did not come cheap, it came at a cost, which was equitable to the wages of death, a ransom that cost God, God. We have received it ALL from God at no cost to us but at all cost to the Blessed Triune Godhead. Jesus made himself of no reputation (in other words nothing) so that it wont cost us anything to be restored into a familial relationship with God.

When one receives a gift, it is not the gift that is important but the giver and God the giver of all things, gave us His Son freely. Why? So that we may give Him freely to those who know Him not, so that they can receive it ALL from God as well. Jesus said, ‘Freely, freely, ye have received, freely give’, and He meant every word of that command (Matthew 10:8b).

Matthew 10:7-8 (KJV)
7 And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand.
Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give.

The Pre-requisite for Holiness

The first requirement of man is to be Holy as God is Holy (Leviticus 19:1-2).  From Christian upbringing, I was given to understand that to be Holy is to be sanctified or set apart; to be blameless and righteous and pure. But while researching on what the word “Holy” exactly meant, I came across many words that are synonymous to the word Holy, some of which are adored, among the angels, consecrated, divine, enthroned, glorified, inviolable, redeemed, resurrected, revered, rewarded, sacred, sacrosanct, saved and unprofane.

The one word that caught my attention is the word “resurrected“. This means that to be Holy is to be resurrected. Every one needs to be spiritually resurrected in order to fulfill the very first requirement of God. The good news is that everyone who is in Christ Jesus is a new creature, resurrected to walk in newness of life, relinquishing the ways of death. The prophet Obadiah writes that upon mount Zion shall be deliverance, and there shall be holiness (Obadiah 1:17). Only those who are washed pure by the pure blood of Jesus, are those who are delivered from the power of the devil and the fear of death, and are resurrected (Holy) to eternal life. Without deliverance (from the bondage of sin), there can be no holiness. The pre-requisite for Holiness is Deliverance, i.e., belief in Jesus Christ, the Son of God, for him whom the Son (of God) delivers (sets free from the bondage of death) is resurrected (Holy) indeed (John 8:36).

Obadiah 1:17 (KJV)
17 But upon mount Zion shall be deliverance, and there shall be holiness; and the house of Jacob shall possess their possessions.

Lessons from the 3 Hebrew men :: No other God

From the account recorded in Daniel 3, we learn that the 3 Hebrew men, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego refused to bow down and worship anyone other than their one true God, Yahweh. For them, there was no other God, who was to be worshiped or served. Interestingly, the very king who had ordered them to be thrown into the burning furnace acknowledges that there is No Other God who could deliver as was evident.

When we stand firm without compromise, expressing that we shall have no other gods before us, then we can trust that God will show up and deliver us, making those around us, including those who are against us, to recognize that there is indeed NO OTHER GOD who can deliver us from impending doom, except Jesus Christ (Daniel 3:29).

Lessons from the 3 Hebrew men :: In Fire

When the 3 Hebrew men, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, chose to follow God’s command of not worshipping any other god or idol and refused to follow the king’s command that required them to worship the image of the king, they were thrown into a blazing furnace. However, miraculously God shows up in the fire and delivers them from their bondage.

The Holy Spirit of God is often likened to Fire. In the day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit symbolically appeared as tongues of fire (Act 2:3). When God was pleased with a sacrifice, Fire descended from heaven as a means to demonstrate God’s acceptance of man’s sacrifice (1 Chronicles 21:26). Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego offered their bodies as a living sacrifice and God was pleased with their offering and accepted their willingness to sacrifice themselves, by showing up in the fire.

Point(s) to ponder:
Have you and I offered our lives as a living sacrifice to God? When we believe in Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit is poured into us and God shows up in our life. And when one is filled with the Fire of God (Holy Spirit), then the external fiery trials of life can’t consume us. Are you and I filled with the Fire of God? In other words, have you and I accepted Jesus Christ to be our Lord and Master?

Lessons from the 3 Hebrew men :: In whose Hands?

Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, the 3 Hebrew men, were posed a question by king Nebuchadnezzar who threatened to throw them into a blazing furnace for their defiance of his edict, wherein they refused to bow down to and worship the image that the king had erected. The question was “Who is that God that shall deliver you out of my hands?” Mistakenly the king felt these men were in his hand, while they knew that they were in the Hands of the One

  • who was the Creator; who had not only created all of creation but who had fashioned man in His own image as well (Genesis 1,2).
  • who was the Deliverer; who smote the Egyptian captors and delivered them from physical bondage (Exodus 3:20), who could now deliver again.

While the king threatened them by stating that they were in his hands, they recognized that there was nothing to fear about, because they feared the one in whose Hands they would fall into, if they chose to follow the king’s command. The knew very well that it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God (Hebrews 10:31).

Point(s) to ponder:
In whose Hands are you and I? Let not the world threaten us of anything, for when we are in the Hands of the living God, there is nothing else to fear, except the One in whose hand it is fearful to fall into.

Lessons from the 3 Hebrew men :: The accused are NOT guilty

Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, the 3 Hebrew boys who chose to defy an earthly king were accused by some Chaldeans that they did not serve the king, nor bow down (worship) to the image that the king had set up. Upon interrogation by the king, they were found guilty of not following the king’s edict and sentenced to a fiery death. Though cursorily it may seem that the accusation that the 3 Hebrew boys were charged with, was that they disobeyed a king, in reality, the accusation that they were charged with was that they obeyed, worshiped and served Yahweh, the Only King that mattered. And while they were found guilty by men, they were found NOT guilty by God who miraculously intervened and saved them from certain  impending death.

Point(s) to ponder:
What are you and I being accused of?
Is it that we serve, worship and obey the Only King of kings, Jesus Christ, who lives forever?

Lessons from the 3 Hebrew men :: What’s in a Name?

If I was to ask you, what are the names of the three Hebrew boys who defied king Nebuchadnezzar, and refused to bow to His image, even if it meant that their life could end, chances are that most of us will respond, “Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego”. Even our beloved 4 year old son, Reuben, has this Veggietales DVD entitled “Rack, Shack and Benny” which is a rendition of the story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abenego. Unfortunately, most of us are familiarly acquainted with this fantastic 3 by their Babylonian names but their real Hebrew names were Hannaniah, Mishael and Azariah. Why is this important?

With one’s name is closely tied that individual’s identity. This is why we have rechristening which often includes a name that signifies that we belong to Christ. The Babylonians had changed the names of these faithful worshippers and servants of the One true God (Yahweh), to names that had ties to the gods of Babylonia (Shadrach purportedly means the command of aku, a Babylonian moon god; Meshach supposedly means the servant of a Chaldean god and Abednego means the servant of Nabu/Nego, another Babylonian god).

But from the 3 Hebrew boys, we learn that while the world may rename us or know us by names that it gives us, our true identity must be as one bearing the name of Jesus Christ, the one TRUE God. And when we recognize that, we can be confident that no weapon formed against us shall prosper. Hannaniah (Shadrach) means ‘Yahweh is gracious’, Mischael means “Who is like Yahweh?” and Azariah means “Yahweh has helped”.  Shadrach must have known, that God was true to His Name and that God was gracious. Meshach must have known that there was no one like Yahweh and interestingly Abednego must have recognized that God has helped. Note, Azariah does not mean God will help, but God has helped.

What do people know you as? And when they call us by our name, does it reflect on the One who has the Name above all names?

Faith and Action – 2 sides of the same coin

In the beginning was Jesus – the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God (John 1:1). Faith comes from hearing and hearing by the word of God (Romans 10:17). In other words, faith comes from the word of God and this means that the source of our faith is Jesus Christ – the Word of God.

But since faith OPERATES by works (actions), we are to OVERTLY respond to the will of God and OBEY the word of God. The Bible tells us that  faith without works (actions) is dead. Faith and action are akin to the two sides of the same coin, in the Hand of God. It is not mere preaching (VERBAL Faith) but practicing (VISIBLE Faith) that God seeks from all who believe in Him. Jesus is not only the PROVISION OF our faith, but He is also the PURPOSE OF our faith.

The Bible leaves the following question unanswered,”When the Son of man (Jesus) comes [again], will He find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:8). Think about it and act on it by faith.