The double reward of Obedience

From obedience not only comes pardon (from our sins) but protection as well. The Lord has promised to be on the side of all them that obey Him and when God is on our  side, we can be assured that no one can be against us (Romans 8:31).

From obedience comes not only pardon but protection; not only salvation but safety/security.

Exodus 23:21-22 (KJV)
21 Beware of him, and obey his voice, provoke him not; for he will not pardon your transgressions: for my name is in him.
22 But if thou shalt indeed obey his voice, and do all that I speak; then I will be an enemy unto thine enemies, and an adversary unto thine adversaries.

Obedience comes with knowledge

And Pharaoh said, Who is the LORD, that I should obey his voice to let Israel go? I know not the LORD, neither will I let Israel go (Exodus 5:2). Pharaoh could not obey because he did not know “whom” he should obey! The Bible says, that the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD as the waters cover the sea (Habakkuk 2:14), but until that day comes, those who know the LORD God Almighty, need to be sharing about Him and His grace to those who don’t.

Obedience comes with knowledge. If one does not know who the LORD is, how will they obey him? Our responsibility is to make Him known and the responsibility of those who know him is to obey Him.

Exodus 5:2 (KJV)
And Pharaoh said, Who is the LORD, that I should obey his voice to let Israel go? I know not the LORD, neither will I let Israel go.
3 And they said, The God of the Hebrews hath met with us: let us go, we pray thee, three days’ journey into the desert, and sacrifice unto the LORD our God; lest he fall upon us with pestilence, or with the sword.

Better than Sacrifice is Obedience

The following account is recorded in the Holy Scripture in the first book of Samuel chapter 15. 

Requirement: of God for Saul, the appointed king of Israel was to utterly destroy the sinners (Amalekites, led by king Agag) and everything that belonged to them. No one (including their livestock) was to be spared.
Response: of Saul, the appointed king of Israel was not total obedience; He spared king Agag and the best of the land.
Reason: that Saul gave was that he wished to sacrifice what he had spared as an offering to the LORD.
Result: of Saul’s action was rejection. God rejected Saul from continuing to be the king of Israel.

Though Saul’s reason sounds superficially as a good reason, but in reality it was not. Why, God wanted to completely (utterly) destroy sin and avenge His people. But the appointed king (Saul), disappointed the King of kings by not totally obeying God’s commandment (requirement). To OBEY is better than sacrifice!

Point(s) to ponder:
1. What may seem like a good reason (even if it is about sacrificing and worshipping God) can be unacceptable if it contradicts what God has commanded us to.
2. Disobedience (even partial disobedience) can lead to total rejection from God.
3. Total obedience is better than any sacrifice we can give to God.

1 Samuel 15:22 (KJV)
22 And Samuel said, Hath the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams.

Beyond Belief comes Obedience

When growing up, I learnt the song, Trust and Obey, for there is no other way to be happy in Jesus but to Trust and Obey. But it was not until recently that I learned from the Bible that Trust and Obedience are like two sides of the same coin. After one places their trust in Jesus, they must Obey Him.  This is the next step that one must take after they believe in the Lord Jesus Christ according to the Scripture to inherit eternal life (Hebrews 5:9). Not every one that saith unto Him, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth (obeys) the will of my Father which is in heaven (Matthew 7:21). Beyond belief comes obedience.

Points to ponder:
Have you/I believed in Jesus Christ? If you/I have, do you/I obey Him and do the will of God the Father? 

Hebrews 5:8-9 (KJV)
8 Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered;
9 And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him;

What is Easter? Easter Acrostics

It is Easter morn and as my darling wife Sangeetha, beloved son Reuben and I view the Harbor from our hotel in Hong Kong, I can’t help but wonder the beauty of God’ provision of life unto mankind. Just as the sun rises over the clouds in the Harbour, Jesus Christ rose on Easter day by the resurrection Power of God defeating the power of death, over the cloud of sin and death to give each of us a spectacular view of His beauty.

What is Easter? Easter in essence is death abolished and Life abundant.

Death – Erased, Abolished, Slayed, Terminated, Eliminated, Rescinded (EASTER)
Life – Enlivened, Abundant, Sprung, Teeming, Enlightened, Renewed (EASTER)

May you all have a God blessed Easter. Happy Easter 2011.

Father, into thy hands I commend my Spirit

The seventh saying of Jesus Christ, from the Cross of Calvary, was “Father, into thy hands I commend my Spirit” (Luke 23:46). I remember when I was growing up in Malkangiri village, in the state of Orissa, to drink water from a borewell, as it was pumped, I would have to cup my hands so that the water could collect in my hands and then I could drink from my hands.

Jesus poured out His Spirit in the hands of God. The Bible says that it shall come to pass, that God will pour out His Spirit upon all flesh (Joel 2:28, 29). The question that remains is that when God pours out His Spirit on us, will we have cupped our lives to receive Him so that we can take in (drink) Jesus Christ, the Living Water who quenches the thirsts (desires) of our present life and eternally quenches the fire (of second death) in the life to come.

Points to ponder:
Jesus told God the Father, “Father, into your hands I commend my Spirit.”
If today, He told you “Son/Daughter, into your life, I commend my Spirit”, are you ready to receive Him and believe in His Name? Think about it and tarry no longer, if you have not already accepted Him.

Luke 23:46 (KJV)
46 And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said, Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit: and having said thus, he gave up the ghost.

It is Finished

The sixth saying of Jesus Christ from the Cross of Calvary was “It is finished.” (John 19:30) Jesus had mentioned that He had come to do the will of God the Father (John 6:38) and now in His status report, He was affirming that the task of saving mankind and reconciling man back to God was complete. God’s will for Jesus was to be the substitutionary acceptable Sacrifice, by drinking the cup of God’s wrath as a means of judgment against sin, so that each of us would not have to. This was the “Saving” will of God and It is Finished.

But God also wills that each one of us are Holy as He is Holy (1 Peter 1:16). In other words, God wants us to be perfect. His will is for us to be blameless before Him. The Only One who can present us blameless before God is Jesus Christ (Jude 1:24). This is the “Sanctifying” will of God for us through Jesus Christ. But you and I are far from being blameless and in our fraility, many times we disappoint God with our willful disobedience.

The Bible says that we ought to work out our own salvation (Philippians 2:12). This does not mean that we need to or can earn our salvation of eternal life by living a life of piety or penance. Though some religion mistakenly prescribe a life of piety or penance, no one can earn his/her own salvation. It is a free gift of God that is granted to all who believe in God’s Only Son, Jesus Christ. Then what does the Bible mean by “work out your own salvation”? The first thing to realize, as someone mentioned, is that “Salvation must be worked in, before it can be worked out”. In other words, we must first trust and believe in Jesus to SAVE us (working IN of Salvation) and then we must trust and believe in Jesus to SANCTIFY us and make us perfect/blameless (working OUT of Salvation).

Points to ponder:
For the “Saving” will of God, Jesus said, “It is Finished.”
Now for the “Sanctifying” will of God, wherein we must conform to His image and be Holy as He is Holy, can Jesus say to God the Father, when He presents you and me before God’s Holy and Just throne, “It is Finished.” as well? Think upon it and act.

John 19:30 (KJV)
30 When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost.

I thirst

Jesus’ fifth saying from the Cross, which is “I thirst” has often been expanded as one which was the result of his physical needs for being quenched due to dehydration or metaphorically as one in which Jesus thirsted for the souls of those lost and those who had not yet placed their trust in him. But as I pondered on this saying, I wondered if there is the possibility of another dimension to this saying.

Jesus communed with God the Father, periodically while he was in his ministry.  But now with Him taking the sins of the world upon Himself, that communion (relationship) with God was severed because God is a Holy and just God and can have nothing to do with darkness (sin). It is probable that Jesus’ thirsted/yearned/longed for the communion he had with God the Father.

Points to ponder:
Do you thirst for having communion with God/Jesus?

Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?

[Scene: Courtroom; Location: Heaven; Defendant: You; Plaintiff: The accuser of the brethren a.k.a. Satan or the Adversary; Judge: God; Prosecutor: Jesus Christ]

Judge (God): Plaintiff, you may present your case.
Plaintiff (Satan): You see this filthy and guilty person. He deserves no mercy or grace for he has broken every law you have established. He is guilty of giving god like status to other things beside you.
Judge (God): Such as?
Plaintiff (Satan): His family, and his work. He is guilty of idolizing the materialistic possessions that you have given him, often refusing to give them back to you. He even takes your name in vain.
Judge (God): What do you mean?
Plaintiff (Satan): He professes with his lips your name but denies you by his life.
He does not keep your day holy, and works when he should be resting in your presence and gazing on your beauty in your house. He did not deserve the length of life that you had blessed him with, because he did not honor his father or his mother. He is guilty of murder, adultery, kept from giving back to you what you gave him thereby robbing you. He is a liar and a cheat, coveting all which does not belong to him. Most importantly, he does not love you nor his neighbors.
Judge (God): So, what is your charge against him?
Plaintiff (Satan): He is filthy of sin and guilty of unrighteousness; His penalty must be death! He is a good for nothing God-forsaken person.
Prosecutor (Jesus): I object your Honor.
Judge (God): Sustained
Prosecutor (Jesus): The plaintiff is incorrect. Yes, it is no doubt that this person deserves death, but He is not God-forsaken! You cannot forsake Him, Judge.
Judge (God): Why not?
Prosecutor (Jesus): Because you forsook me in his place. Remember, my agonizing and questioning cry from the cross – “Eloi, Eloi lama sabachthani?” I asked you “Why” (Lama) but now I see the answer. This man here and all like him are the reason as to why you had to forsake me.
Verdict: Blameless and Not Guilty!
Plaintiff (Satan): How can this be?
Judge (God): God forsook God so that God did not have to forsake man. This courtroom is adjourned.

Point(s) to ponder:
Man does not have to ask of God, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?” because Jesus did in our stead.

Mark 15:34 (KJV)
34 And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani? which is, being interpreted, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?

Woman, behold thy son … Behold thy mother

“Woman, Behold thy son” and to the disciple he said, “Behold thy mother”. This is recorded in the Scripture as the third saying of Jesus Christ from the Cross. From  cursorial evaluation of this text, it may seem like Jesus was ensuring that Mary his mother was provided for, however, close inspection of this saying reveals certain profound truths and hidden treasures.

This third saying on the cross establishes two facts
1. The brotherhood of Jesus and
2. The sonship of Jesus

Jesus commissioned his disciples to serve one another, but called them not servants but friends (John 15:15) but then after his resurrection from death,  he told the women to hurry and tell the news about his living, to his disciples, whom he referred to, not as friends but as brothers (John 20:17). Now with Jesus, telling Mary, his earthly mom, that the disciple who stood by her (and him), was her son, Jesus was stating that he was more than just a friend to the disciple; He was his brother. What is more is that all who trust in him are co-heirs with Him (Romans 8:17). In other words, we are adopted into God’s family as sons and daughters, and the Spirit enables us to address God as Abba, Father or in other words address Jesus as our brother (John 20:17).

Now, did you notice that Jesus told the disciple who stood by Mary, “Behold thy mother” and not “Behold MY mother”. In fact, he addresses Mary, as “Woman” and not Mother, though he addresses God as Father in his first and last saying from the Cross. His address of his mother as Woman and his statement to his disciples asserts that He was indeed the begotten and given Son of God and not just the child of Mary. The familiar verse from the book of the Prophet Isaiah establishes this fact as well – For unto us a child (of Mary) is born; unto us a Son (of God) is given.

Points to ponder:
Have you trusted in Jesus and believed in Him so that you can address God as Abba, Father and Jesus as your brother? He is the Son of God given for the salvation of mankind.

John 19:26-27 (KJV)
26 When Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the disciple standing by, whom he loved, he saith unto his mother, Woman, behold thy son!  
Then saith he to the disciple, Behold thy mother! And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home.