LIGHT-bearing to the end …

September 30, 2012, marks 22 years of my life as a born again believer. It was on this very day, 22 years ago, that my day of sorrows was changed into a day of joy, when I accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. On this day, a year ago, I pledged to run the race of my life for Jesus Christ, not aimlessly but to run with a goal to win the prize (1 Corinthians 9:24) by “finishing well.” This year as I pondered of what to wish for, on my spiritual birthday, I was led to think of my early days as a believer. Soon after my salvation experience, some of us (including my brother, Ragland Remo Paul) who had experienced the adoption into God’s family (Romans 8:15), were so fired up for Jesus, that unashamedly and boldly we praised and proclaimed the name of Jesus to our friends in the public school (at Sunabeda, Orissa) where we stayed and studied. Being branded as crazy, ridiculed, humiliated, and all other forms of persecutions did not seem to bother us. This believer’s gathering came to called as the “BCPS”, which stood for the “Burning Candles of Public School” and the idea behind the name was that we would be poured out and melt away, holding and showcasing Jesus, the LIGHT of the world to our peers.

Since then, fast forwarding over two decades, as I reflect on my life, I find that many a times, I have forgotten my first Love (Jesus who loved me first – 1 John 4:19) and passion (for and of The Christ), and succumbed to the deception of the devil to forsake Jesus Christ and follow my own sinful ways. So this spiritual birthday, I sought the Lord and repented as I remembered to redo the first works of being a candle that is always on the hill, from where came and comes my Salvation (Psalm 121:1-2). I remember, repent and return to be a candle(stick) that would bear Jesus Christ, the LIGHT of the world (John 8:12), till the very end of my life and apropos, I covet to prayers.

What is your wish today? Please do not leave this question unanswered …

Revelation 2:5 (KJV)
Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.

Finishing well

September 30, 2011, marks 21 years of my life as a born again believer. It was on this very day, 21 years ago, that my day of sorrows was changed into a day of joy, when I accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. And in this past 21 years, the journey with my God, Jesus Christ, has had its ups and downs. I’ve had mountain top experiences with Jesus being transfigured in my life and I’ve had the death valley experiences when I felt like I had lost the joy of my Salvation as a result of my own disobedient and rebellious lifestyle, having succumbed to the fiery darts of the evil one. And now as I reminisce of the past, looking forward to the future, I was wondering as to what I’d like to strive toward. I’d like to strive toward “finishing well.”

Recently, Sangeetha and I watched the movie, “The Book of Eli”, which was certainly a good entertainer, but what was even more impressive is the angles of faith that is portrayed in the movie. Denzel Washington (who plays the character Eli) is on a mission to take the Bible to the western shores, despite all the challenges and roadblocks he comes across, in a post apocalyptic world. Toward the end of the movie, he borrows from Apostle Paul’s final words as he prays the following prayer: “Dear Lord, thank you for giving me the strength and the conviction to complete the task you entrusted to me. Thank you for guiding me straight and true through the many obstacles in my path. And for keeping me resolute when all around seemed lost. Thank you for your protection and your many signs along the way. Thank you for any good that I may have done, I’m so sorry about the bad. …  Thank you for finally allowing me to rest. I’m so very tired, but I go now to my rest at peace. Knowing that I have done right with my time on this earth. I fought the good fight, I finished the race, I kept the faith.

21 years have gone by, and I don’t know how many more are ordained, but whenever it is the Lord’s appointed time, I’d like to finish well. I’d like this to be said of me that “Mano fought the good fight, Mano finished the race, Mano kept the faith.” and should it be that I depart from this world before the Lord’s return, I’d like the words that Jesus prayed, to be true, as my epitaphI have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do.” (John 17:4).

Points to ponder:
Jesus prayed “I have glorified thee (God) on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do.” Can that be said of you and me, should today be the last day ordained for our life?

John 17:4 (KJV)
I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do.

2 Timothy 4:7 (KJV)
7 I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:

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.

Lessons from Zacchaeus – Grace, Found and Blessed

When Zacchaeus the sinner  encounters the Savior Jesus Christ, he receives Jesus joyfully and promises to return and restore all that he had falsely and deceptively acquired. In response to Zacchaeus change of heart, Jesus makes an interesting and profound statement of assurance by saying “Today, salvation has come into this (Zacchaeus’) house and that Zaccaheus is also a son of Abraham.”

While superficially it may seem that Zacchaeus promise of works (to return and restore) is what earned him his salvation, we must be careful to not fall into the trap that our good works can earn the gift of eternal life. It is important to carefully review this encounter and understand that the recognition of Jesus as Lord by Zacchaeus (verse 8 ) is what gave Zacchaeus his salvation as a free gift. Note, how Jesus did not say, go do this and do that and then Salvation will come into your house. Zacchaeus ‘ promise to return and restore (good works) was merely a byproduct of his change of heart and opened eyes by which he saw Jesus as sovereign Lord. It is only by the grace of God and grace alone that one can be saved and not by any works.

For Zacchaeus a man of prominence (chief among the publicans) and a Jew, recognition of Jesus as Lord would mean blasphemy to the other devout and legalistic Jews, but to him it meant that he who was lost and caught up in barren foolishness (syke from where we get ‘syco’ refers to the fig tree signifying barreness – Luke 13:6 and moria from where we get ‘more’ means foolishness or folly) is now found and blessed; found to be blessed as a son of Abraham.

If today we are to meet Jesus, let us not fail to recognize Him as Lord for such a recognition makes us, who are lost in the barren foolishness of trying to work our way to salvation, to be found and blessed, and adopted as children of Abraham, the one who was promised God’s blessings and through whom the nations are blessed. Through you and me, will the nations be blessed?

P.S: This is the day (September 30), 19 years ago, I accepted the Lord Jesus Christ as my personal Lord and Savior. In other words, this day (19 years ago), Salvation came into my heart and I was adopted as a child (son) of God.

Luke 19:6-10 (KJV)
And he made haste, and came down, and received him joyfully.
And when they saw it, they all murmured, saying, That he was gone to be guest with a man that is a sinner.
And Zacchaeus stood, and said unto the Lord: Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have taken any thing from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold.
And Jesus said unto him, This day is salvation come to this house, forsomuch as he also is a son of Abraham.
For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.