What’s the reason for (your) running?

The Running Father (God)People run – they run toward or from something or some goal, they run for a cause like to be fit, they run by opportunities…

My good brother and believer in the Lord, Patrick Pitchappa, was a member of the Goldman Sachs Mixed running team that won the gold medal in the prestigious Puma Urban stampede event in August 2015. He was also named the running Ambassador in the 2012 Hyderabad Marathon. I asked him the question, “Why do you run?” and his response was in addition to the obvious physical health benefits, when he runs, he feels that it connects him closer to our Creator God. He quotes one verse after all his runs from Psalm 139:14 which states, “I praise you (God) because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” In other words, Patrick was expressing that not only was he running to be physically fit, but more importantly to be spiritually fit, as well. Eric Liddell, Scottish missionary to China and winner of the 400 meters event in the 1924 Olympics in Paris, refused to run his more favored event of 100 meters because it was going to be on a Sabbath, choosing God over gold. As an heptathlon athlete, I ran during my high school years in several intra- and inter-school events, sprinting in individual events, winning the gold medal or in relay races with a team, enduring to win. I now run to be physically fit and for conditioning the body to be fit to do Shaolin Do Kung Fu with our beloved firstborn son, Reuben. So while there may be many reasons as to why people run, the fact of the matter is people run.

In the Bible, we see accounts of people running as well. The Father of the prodigal son ran toward his returning son (Luke 15:20). Elijah, God’s true prophet ran faster than king Ahab’s chariot (1 Kings 18:44-46) when God’s power came upon him. David ran toward the giant Goliath before winning the battle for Israel in the Name of the Lord (1 Samuel 17:48,51). Ahimaaz, the son of Zadok the high priest ran irrespective of what the outcome could be (2 Kings 18:19-28).

In the account of the eldest servant of Abraham, seeking a wife for Isaac, his the master’s son, we see that the servant ran to fulfill the master’s mission (Genesis 24:17), while Rebekah the wife-to-be ran to serve the servant (Genesis 24:18-20) and her brother Laban ran to invite the servant into their household (Genesis 24:29-30).

Cursorily it may seem that Laban the brother of Rebekah was an extremely hospitable man as was the custom of that day and age, however, with the Bible completely canonized by the Holy Spirit of God, with deeper scrutiny, we have more insights into Laban’s character. Laban beguiled his nephew Jacob by giving Leah his first daughter in marriage instead of Rachel the second daughter as promised (Genesis 29). Laban agreed quickly to Jacob’s proposal when he felt that it would be more favorable for him in the distribution of the sheeps and goats (Genesis 30-31). These accounts, in addition to the record that Laban ran after he saw the jewelry (earrings and bracelet) that the servant of Abraham had given to his sister Rebekah indicates that he was likely driven to run for selfish gain instead of a sense of serving or hospitality.

Points to ponder:
You and I may be running toward, or from, or for, something or someone. What are we running for? Are we running to fulfill our Master’s mission (John 13:13) i.e., God’s mission? Are we running to serve as people of God? or Are we running for personal gain? What is the reason for (your) running?

Genesis 24: 29-30 (KJV)
29 And Rebekah had a brother, and his name was Laban: and Laban ran out unto the man, unto the well.
30 And it came to pass, when he saw the earring and bracelets upon his sister’s hands, and when he heard the words of Rebekah his sister, saying, Thus spake the man unto me; that he came unto the man; and, behold, he stood by the camels at the well.

Hebrews 12:1-2 (KJV)
Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,
Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Jesus – The True Ram (Lift up your eyes and look)

Genesis 22:13 reads “And Abraham lifted up his eyes, and looked, and behold behind him a ram caught in a thicket by his horns: and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burnt offering in the stead of his son.” Isaac’s question of “Where is the lamb for the offering?” to Abraham is answered temporarily here by God providing a ram (not a lamb) that was caught in a thicket, whcih Abraham went and took and offered it as a burnt offering instead of his son.”

In the book of Daniel chapter 8, we see that the kings of Medes and Persia are represented by two horns of a ram on rampage, with nothing standing in its way until it is overthrown by the king of Greece, represented by a he-goat. So the ram  is symbolic of  strength and authority as that of a kings.

Points to ponder:
Jesus Christ, the supreme authority to whom all blessing and glory, wisdom and thanksgiving, honor  and power and strength is given/ascribed (Revelation 7:12) – the ruler over all of creation (Ephesians 1:21-22) – The True Ram – was lifted up on the Cross of Calvary, with his head wrapped in a thicket (thorn) crown (Matthew 27:29). All of his Lordship, Kingship and authority was willfully relinquished by himself. Jesus being God, he made himself of no reputation (Philippians 2:5) as a king caught in the thickets of God’s plan for the redemption of mankind. Instead of us, the sons and daughters of God through Adam, Jesus, the Only begotten Son of God, was the offering provided for the salvation of all mankind. Just as Abraham went and took the offering provided, we must also go to Jesus and take (accept) him, but this begins with us first lifting up the eyes of our heart and looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12:2).  Jesus is the True Ram (King) – Do you see – Lift up your eyes and look (believe)?

Genesis 22:13 (KJV)
13 And Abraham lifted up his eyes, and looked, and behold behind him a ram caught in a thicket by his horns: and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burnt offering in the stead of his son.

Woman, behold thy son! … Behold thy mother!

Jesus’ third saying from the Cross was directed to his mother and to his beloved disciple who was standing by her. To her, he said, “Woman, behold thy son!” and to him, he said, “Behold thy mother!” The action verb in both these statements is “Behold”. This word is a word that is a call to attention and literally has it roots from combining the words “be” and “to hold”. It is more than just a glance or a look – it means to keep the gaze on and to hold on to that sight.

As part of dispensing his duties (as any Son should), in this saying, Jesus was profoundly establishing a truth – the truth of holding on in sight to relationships – never losing focus on familial relationship.

Points to ponder:
To all those who have believed in Jesus, and who have received and accepted him, God has given them the power to be called the sons (children) of God (John 1:12). In other words, we are part of God’s family, if we believe and receive Jesus Christ, to be our Lord and Savior. God is reminding us to look at and hold on to that familial relationship, we have with God.

The Bible makes it amply clear that this is what we are counseled and commanded to do – Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising its shame (Hebrews 12:2a). Notice how this rendition is “looking” and not just “look”, implying that this is a constant action – to behold – to keep the gaze – to hold on in view.

To the Church, the Woman (bride of Christ), God, the Father is saying, Behold his Son, Jesus Christ – looking on to him perpetually. What are you beholding?

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!
27 Then saith he to the disciple, Behold thy mother! And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home.

Hebrews 12:2 (KJV)
Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Lesson from Lot’s wife – the Pillar of Salt

For those who are familiar with the Bible, the story of Lot’s wife turning into a pillar of salt, when she disobeyed and looked back at the wicked cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, is not unknown (Genesis 19:26).

Since the Bible is not explicit on the details of this transformation, there are quite a few questions left unanswered. What is this pillar of salt? Was Lot’s wife’s body tissue calcified from within or was she covered with the residue of the brimstone poured out of heaven? Was she punished because of the allegiance of her heart to the wickedness of the city she lived in or was it because of her disobedience in looking back? Why did the angels not ask Lot about his wife, but asked his sons, daughters and even his sons-in-law? (Genesis 19:12). Did they already know that this unnamed wife of Lot would look back even after she had the knowledge of her salvation, and is that why they warned the family to not look back? There are so many questions that the natural mind warrants answers for and it would be mere speculation and futile of man to even attempt to answer these. However, the answers to the spiritual mind are more evident than the natural ones.

From this account, we can learn a few hidden truths that is well substantiated by the Bible.

  1. The consequences of disobeying God willfully after the foreknowledge of salvation is death (Hebrews 10:26) as the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23).
  2. To look back is to consider the ways of the past – our lives before we come to know of the saving grace of Jesus Christ – a life that is sinful and contrary to the will and ways of God. But anyone who is in Christ Jesus is a new creature; the old has gone and the new has come (2 Corinthians 5:17). The new can have nothing to do with the old for the new shall burst out the old as new wine bursts out the old wineskin if put in it (Matthew 9:17). Instead of looking back at our wicked pasts and be drawn to it, we must look on forward unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12:2).
  3. A pillar is usually erected to hold something on top of it or as a monument of remembrance. Lot’s wife was one who had lost her saltiness (Luke 14:34) only to find out that she would serve as a monumental reminder to the truth that friendship with the world is enmity with God (James 4:4).

Points to ponder:
Where are you looking at and more importantly who are you looking at? To look behind and be drawn to a wicked lifestyle after having seen the Salvation of the Lord bears the consequences of death – Look not behind at the world but unto Jesus. Are you a friend of the world (James 4:4) or are you a Friend of God (James 2:23)?

Genesis 19:23-26 (KJV)
23 The sun was risen upon the earth when Lot entered into Zoar.
24 Then the Lord rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the Lord out of heaven;
25 And he overthrew those cities, and all the plain, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and that which grew upon the ground.
26 But his wife looked back from behind him, and she became a pillar of salt.

Hebrews 10:26-27 (KJV)
26 For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins,
27 But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries.

Romans 6:22-23 (KJV)
22 But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life.
23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

James 4:4 (KJV)
Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.

James 2:23 (KJV)
23 And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God.

Hebrews 12:2 (KJV)
Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Jesus Christ – The Ark :: God’s Window

This article is part of the series, Jesus Christ – The Ark, where in we learn of Noah’s ark as a pre-type of God’s only Son, Jesus Christ, as The One and Only Ark to save mankind.

God told Noah to build the ark with gopher wood and make rooms in it, pitch it inside and out and then explicitly gave Noah the fashion (dimensions) in which Noah was to build the ark. Additionally, God told Noah that he was to make ‘A’ window. The dictionary defines a window as “an opening in the wall of a building, the side of a vehicle, etc., for the admission of air or light“. This window that God was asking Noah to make in the ark was to be a cubit in dimension and it was to be finished above (on top). Notice, not only the singularity of the window, but also its position and its completeness (finished). There was to be ‘A’ window and it was to be finished on top, implying that there was only one window, that was finished (complete) and it was made in a place above which would require Noah and his family (and the other creatures in the ark) to have to look up for their source of light and life (air). I also believe that God was making sure that Noah and his family (and the other creatures in the ark) looked up to him and not focus on the stormy situation around them during the flood.

Points to ponder:
Jesus said, if you have seen me, you have seen God the Father (John 14:9). He is the portal – the Window – the Only Window – through whom, we can see God. We should not focus on the stormy situations of our lives, but instead, we must look up at Jesus and through him to light our life and redeem it from all darkness (sin). We must look at Jesus for the very breath of life, for only in Jesus, is found life – not just abundantly (John 10:10), but everlasting as well (John 3:16). As the writer to the Hebrews state, we must be constantly “Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith (note: A window was to be finished above), who for the joy that was set before him endured the Cross, despising the shame, and is set down (seated) at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:2). Jesus is God’s Window! Is Jesus on top of your life and mine?

Genesis 6:16 (KJV)
16 A window shalt thou make to the ark, and in a cubit shalt thou finish it above; and the door of the ark shalt thou set in the side thereof; with lower, second, and third stories shalt thou make it.

John 14:9 (KJV)
9 Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Show us the Father?

John 10:10 (KJV)
10 The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.

John 3:16-17 (KJV)
16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.

Hebrews 12:2 (KJV)
Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.

My beloved

Sangeetha Johnson

My beloved

An obedient daughter, a wonderful mother, and a loving wife
would be an understatement to describe my beloved, my love, my life
A woman of faith expressed in action,
is how I choose to describe my beloved to whom I am married to in union.

A decade plus one year ago, to be made one flesh, we vowed,
leaving earthly ties and cleaving to a heavenly relationship, we bowed,
before God our maker, the first braid in our threefold cord
who strengthens us, to tide over trying times, our staff and our rod.

Like the denying Peter, not once, not twice, but thrice, have I broken her heart,
only to find out, that each time, she forgave me and accepted me, in full, not in part,
just as The Savior did, from whose Love, nothing can bid us depart,
and emulating that Sacrificial Love, unmerited favor and mercy to me, does she perpetually impart.

Two wonderful children has God loaned us to cherish.
My beloved teaches them to grow in his knowledge, lest they perish.
Her tutelage, “Always be focused, humble and caring, loving God and loving your neighbor”,
expressing her words in action, does she arduously labor.

As she celebrates her arrival on earth
bringing to all around her, joy, happiness and mirth
My prayer for her is that God grants her, her heart’s desire
and makes her shine even brighter, refining her in his fire

A woman of faith expressed in action,
is how I choose to describe my beloved to whom I am married to in union.
I promise to love her, as I have been loved
For in my beloved, I see the fingerprints of God’s Beloved.

Proverbs 5:18 (KJV)
18 Let thy fountain be blessed: and rejoice with the wife of thy youth.

Ephesians 5:21-33 (KJV)
21 Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.
22 Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.
23 For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body.
24 Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.
25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;
26 That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,
27 That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.
28 So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself.
29 For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church:
30 For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones.
31 For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.
32 This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.
33 Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband.

Glance or Gaze – Where is our focus?

The most important thing for a row boat to make it back to shore, when it is in the middle of the sea, is for the boatman to have his eyes fixed on the lighthouse and not on the waves in the sea. Many a times, when we are surrounded by the storms of life, we focus our attention on the ups and downs of our life, instead of fixing our eyes on the calmer of all storms – Jesus Christ.

We intently gaze on our problems while merely glancing on God (the storm calmer). The Bible counsels us otherwise. Our heart should be like that of king David, who desired, one thing, which was to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord, all the days of his life (Psalm 27:4). We must fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12:2). We need not even merely glance on our problems but we must intently and solely gaze on God. Jesus Christ is the guiding Light and when we fix our focus on Him, only then can we be assured of reaching the other shore, over the buffeting effects of life.

Points to ponder:
1. Where is your/my glance?
2. Where is your/my gaze?

Psalm 27:4 (KJV)
4 One thing have I desired of the LORD, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to enquire in his temple.

Hebrews 12:2 (KJV)
2 Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Where are our eyes focused?

A fish is caught in a hook because it has its eyes focused on the lure and not the string that is attached to it.

Genesis 13 records the account of Abram and his nephew, Lot, separating to avoid strife between them, but what is interesting to note in that account is that both Abram and Lot had their eyes focused differently. Abram’s priority was to build and altar and call on the name of the Lord, first (Genesis 13:4). In other words, his eyes were focused on the Lord (Provider) and not the land (provisions). And when Abram asked Lot to take his pick of the land, the Bible states that Lot lifted up his eyes and looked in one direction and saw the lush lure of the land and chose it for himself (Genesis 13:10). In hindsight, we learn that all that glitters is not gold, for the  land that Lot had chosen was evil and punished by the Lord. The choicest of the land may not be the choicest of the Lord. We see later in this account that God asks Abram to lift up his eyes and look in ALL directions, promising Abram and his heir all that he saw (Genesis 13:14). When we fix our eyes on Jesus, He promises and provides for us and our heir in ALL aspects of life, blessing us to be a blessing to others.

There are strings attached with the lures of this world and if we don’t lift our eyes on to Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12:2), we can can be caught in the hooks and lures that the world (an enemy of God) has to offer. Where are our eyes focused?

Psalm 121:1-2 (KJV)
I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help.
My help cometh from the LORD, which made heaven and earth.

I wonder why

Lord, with the rising of the sun, a new day does dawn
and as I reminisce of the days gone by, I wonder why
I, a mortal sinner am beloved by a God who is Love personified!

What You have in store for me,
I pray that I will see
and this is what I pray,
that in all things I trust and obey.
May my heart yearn after your own
and through me, your GOSPEL sown.

May I always seek to conform to your image
and not be held the world’s hostage.
To die to sin and self is my plea
and exercise my soul each day on my knees.
Each moment I pray, to me you speak
so that O King, of yours, a faithful servant, I’ll be.
To be pure and prepared I earnestly seek,
Looking unto Jesus who can make me complete.

Should you exalt me, Lord,
let yours be all the glory.
Should you humble me, Lord,
may my life be still a story
that brings honor to Your Name
whether it is pleasure or pain, famine or fame.

Should it be Lord, that by Your plan
my breath should fail and my life pass,
let those who succeed me, remember me
merely as a sinner redeemed by the Cross,
for my fruits and not my gifts,
for each soul that to Your Kingdom I lift,
not for the things I have done in this world,
but for those in the one to come.

Lord, with the rising of the sun, a new day does dawn
and as I reminisce of the days gone by, I wonder why
I, a mortal sinner am beloved by a God who is Love personified!