For my servant’s sake

Genesis 26:24 records an interesting phrase – “For my servant Abraham’s sake.

In this account, we see that Isaac, the son of Abraham, is assured of God’s blessings because of Abraham. Not only does this signify the faithfulness of God in keeping the covenant, God made with Abraham (Genesis 22:16-19) in the same place (Beersheba) where Isaac was now (Genesis 26:23), but it also assures that God blesses others for the sake of those who serve him. Isaac was not blessed on account of his own merit, but because of God’s faithfulness to Abraham, who was faithful in serving God.

Points to ponder:
Jesus, the Son of God, who was prophesied as the Servant of the Lord (Zechariah 3:8; Isaiah 42:1), took on the form of a servant (Philippians 2:7) and demonstrated that we ought to serve one another just as he served – in action and not just words (John 13:14-15; Matthew 20:28).

For the sake of Abraham, Isaac (and subsequently the nation of Israel) was blessed.
For the sake of Jesus, the Servant Son of God, all of the nations (Matthew 12:21; Colossians 1:27) are blessed.

Remember, the greatest accolade that one can receive is the title of a ‘good and faithful servant.’ Let us live our lives in a manner looking forward to the greatest honor we can receive, when we face Jesus face to face, when he says “Well done, my good and faithful servant. Enter into the joy of thy Lord.” (Matthew 25:23).

The questions we need to ask ourselves then are:
– Are we servants of the Lord?
– Are others around us (especially our family – both natural and spiritual/church) blessed for our sake by the Lord?

In other words, can God say “I will bless so and so for your sake, because you are my (good and faithful) servant?” Now don’t leave this question unanswered.

Genesis 26:24 (KJV)
24 And the Lord appeared unto him the same night, and said, I am the God of Abraham thy father: fear not, for I am with thee, and will bless thee, and multiply thy seed for my servant Abraham’s sake.

Willingly, Hastily and Completely Serving

Rebekah - ServingWhen the eldest servant of Abraham asked Rebekah, just a little water to drink from her pitcher, the Bible records that she said, “Drink, my lord:” and she hasted and let down her pitcher and gave him drink. She however did not stop there. The Bible records that when she had done giving him drink, she offered to draw water for his camels as well, until they have done drinking and she hasted, pouring the remaining water from her pitcher into the trough there and she ran again to the well to draw water, and drew water for all of his camels.

From this account, we can learn that Rebekah was a woman with a serving heart, but not only was she willing to serve, she hurried (for she hasted and ran) to serve.

National Geographic reports that a thirsty camel can drink as many as 30 gallons (135 liters) of water in about 13 minutes. And for all the camels to have drunk not only was an time-consuming task but an ardous one as well. And from this account, we can also learn that Rebekah was someone who serve not only willingly and in haste, but she served completely – for she did not stop until all of the camels had done drinking.

Points to ponder:
As the Church; the woman to wedded to Christ Jesus (Revelation 19), are we willing to serve not only willingly, but hastily as well and not only willingly and hastily, but completely as well? Will you and I be commended by the Lord, who can say of us, “well done, my good and faithful servant”? Think about it!

Genesis 24:17-20 (KJV)
17 And the servant ran to meet her, and said, Let me, I pray thee, drink a little water of thy pitcher.
18 And she said, Drink, my lord: and she hasted, and let down her pitcher upon her hand, and gave him drink.
19 And when she had done giving him drink, she said, I will draw water for thy camels also, until they have done drinking.
20 And she hasted, and emptied her pitcher into the trough, and ran again unto the well to draw water, and drew for all his camels.

Approved of God :: Action

Th Bible avers that Jesus Christ, was a man approved of God (Acts 2:22) and since we are counseled to be imitators of Jesus Christ (Ephesians 5:1), we ought to be approved of God as well. We learn from the Scripture that the one who is commended by God is the one approved of God (2 Corinthians 10:18).

In my article, “Approved of God :: Faith“, I wrote that to be commended is to be entrusted for care or preservation or be considered worthy of confidence or notice. Both these have to do with faith. For in believing (faith) in Jesus, we are entrusted into the hands of God the Father, from where no one can snatch us away and we are kept safe from evil, and in believing (faith) in Jesus is one imputed Jesus’ own righteousness on him/herself, making him/herself worthy of confidence or notice.

But to be commended also means to be mentioned with approbation or praise.  This has to do with serving (action). While faith in Jesus Christ approves us with God, we learn from the book of James that faith without action is dead.  To receive the highest accolade (praise) one can recieve which is “Well done, my good and faithful servant”, one must be a servant as was Christ, humble and obedient.

Points to ponder:
Are you approved (commended) of God not just for your faith, but also your action. Remember, faith without action is dead (and needs to be resurrected by the power of Christ Jesus).

Acts 2:22
22 Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know:

2 Corinthians :10:17-18 (KJV)
17 But he that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.
18 For not he that commendeth himself is approved, but whom the Lord commendeth

James 2:26 (KJV)
26 For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also. 

The two fold calling of God – Salvation & Servanthood

When God calls, he calls with intent. He calls you unto Salvation and to Servanthood. In other words, he calls us to be believe in Jesus Christ, his only begotten Son, which brings about Salvation (2 Corinthians 5:20), but he also calls us so that once you have Jesus, the Light of the World in our life, we would not hide Christ under a bushel but serve God by showcasing this glorious Light that brings Salvation to the people around us. We are Saved to Serve.

Points to ponder:
Some of us have not yet responded to the call of Salvation, meaning we have not believed in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior.
Some of us have responded to the call of Salvation, but not responded to God’s call of servanthood. We have believed in Christ Jesus as our Lord and Savior, but our lives don’t transmit Him to those around us.
Some of us have responded to both the call of Salvation and to Servanthood and are eagerly looking forward to the day, when Christ Jesus shall meet us face to to face and we would be given the highest accolade – “Well done, my good and faithful servant
Which one are you/I?
If you are in the first category, I beseech you as God did beseech (call) you by us, to believe in Jesus Christ and be reconciled to God.
If you are in the second category, I pray that you would act on the words of God for wise is the man who hears the word of God and puts it into action.
If you are in the third category, be strong and stand firm and endure till the end, for great will be your reward.

2 Corinthians 5:20-21 (KJV)
20 Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God.
21 For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.

Hebrews 9:14 (KJV)
14 How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God

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!

Lessons from the Ox – leadership antithesis

WhiteOxEzekiel 1 records a fascinating account of the prophet of God on whom God’s hand was (verse 3), seeing a thrilling vision with the heavens being opened (verse 1)
He describes the four living creatures, he sees, with precise details. While each aspect of his description can be expanded upon in volumes, I want to focus on a few important aspects as it pertains to the Ox (a Bible animal).

Ezekiel describes the likeness of the faces of the living creatures was as follows – each had four faces, one was that of a man, the second was that of a lion, the third was that of an ox and the fourth was that of an eagle (verse 10). This is another testament to Colossians 1:16-17, which records that it is by Jesus and for Jesus, that all things have been created and do exist. Let me explain
Jesus –
in Matthew is described as a king, the Lion of Judah (face of a lion)
in Mark is described as a servant (face of an ox – an ox is animal of burden signifying servanthood)
in Luke is described as the son of Man (face of a man)
in John is described as the Son of God (face of an eagle representing habitation on high and divinity)

So what can we learn from the Ox?
Servanthood. Jesus said he came to serve and not to be served. He not only took the form of a man, but humbled himself as a servant (Philippians 2), even to the point of death. Imagine that, the creator serving his creation – an antithesis to all we know of a master/servant or leadership relationship.

Likewise we will be commended to follow in Jesus’ example – as diligent as an Ox serving its master. Remember, the final accolade will be (for those who serve), “Well done, my good and faithful SERVANT“.

Ezekiel 1: 1,3,5,6,10,11
Now it came to pass in the thirtieth year, in the fourth month, in the fifth day of the month, as I was among the captives by the river of Chebar, that the heavens were opened, and I saw visions of God.
3 The word of the LORD came expressly unto Ezekiel the priest, the son of Buzi, in the land of the Chaldeans by the river Chebar; and the hand of the LORD was there upon him.
And I looked, and, behold, a whirlwind came out of the north, a great cloud, and a fire infolding itself, and a brightness was about it, and out of the midst thereof as the colour of amber, out of the midst of the fire.
Also out of the midst thereof came the likeness of four living creatures. And this was their appearance; they had the likeness of a man.
And every one had four faces, and every one had four wings.
10 As for the likeness of their faces, they four had the face of a man, and the face of a lion, on the right side: and they four had the face of an ox on the left side; they four also had the face of an eagle.
Thus were their faces: and their wings were stretched upward; two wings of every one were joined one to another, and two covered their bodies.

Colossians 1:16-17
16 For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:
And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.

Lessons for the Donkey – pure and faithful

Balaam's Donkey By RembrandtNumbers 22 in the Bible, records a fascinating story of an apostate and greedy man named Balaam that was summoned by Balak, the king of Moab, to ensure victory over the Israelites, the children of God. Balaam saddles his donkey and gets going, but the angel of LORD appears to be seen first only by the donkey, that refuses to proceed. This makes Balaam angry who strikes the donkey, not once, not twice but three times. Many preachers have expanded on the characters, Balaam and Balak, the angel of the LORD etc but there is a lot to be learned from, whom I deem is another main character in the story – the donkey.

What can we learn from the donkey?

  1. The donkey was able to see the angel of God.
    (Verse 23 – Balaam’s donkey saw the angel of the Lord standing in the road with a drawn sword in his hand.)
  2. The donkey could not only speak but also count. Fascinating, isn’t it?
    (Verse 28 Then the Lord gave the donkey the ability to speak. “What have I done to you that deserves your beating me three times?” it asked Balaam.)
  3. The donkey was faithful as a servant.
    (Verse 30 “But I am the same donkey you have ridden all your life,” the donkey answered. “Have I ever done anything like this before?” “No,” Balaam admitted.)
  4. The donkey saved a life.
    (Verses 32 and 33
    32 “Why did you beat your donkey those three times?” the angel of the Lord demanded. “Look, I have come to block your way because you are stubbornly resisting me.
    Three times the donkey saw me and shied away; otherwise, I would certainly have killed you by now and spared the donkey.”)

Point(s) to ponder.

  1. Are we able to see the messengers (angels and people) of God or are we so stubbornly resisting God’s will that we are blind to seeing those around us, who are warning us to live Holy and Blameless lives? Jesus said in Matthew 5:8, Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God (not only be able to see God’s messengers, but God himself)
  2. We may feel many a times like the donkey, foolish and not very wise, weak and not very strong, yet God was able to open the mouth of the donkey to speak and open his mind to count. When we feel foolish and weak, we can take solace in 1 Corinthians 1:27 that states “But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.
  3. The final accolade that all those who believe in Jesus and are called to serve must be to receive the following testament from God – “Well done, my good and faithful servant”. The donkey has subserviently catered for his master faithfully, all his life. Are we doing the same?
  4. Are we saving the lives of those around us by sharing with them the glorious and beautiful story of Salvation and preventing them from proceeding in their way to the second death (spiritual death) in hell.

Numbers 22:21-34 (New Living Translation)
So the next morning Balaam got up, saddled his donkey, and started off with the Moabite officials.
But God was angry that Balaam was going, so he sent the angel of the Lord to stand in the road to block his way. As Balaam and two servants were riding along,
Balaam’s donkey saw the angel of the Lord standing in the road with a drawn sword in his hand. The donkey bolted off the road into a field, but Balaam beat it and turned it back onto the road.
Then the angel of the Lord stood at a place where the road narrowed between two vineyard walls.
When the donkey saw the angel of the Lord, it tried to squeeze by and crushed Balaam’s foot against the wall. So Balaam beat the donkey again.
Then the angel of the Lord moved farther down the road and stood in a place too narrow for the donkey to get by at all.
This time when the donkey saw the angel, it lay down under Balaam. In a fit of rage Balaam beat the animal again with his staff.
Then the Lord gave the donkey the ability to speak. “What have I done to you that deserves your beating me three times?” it asked Balaam.
“You have made me look like a fool!” Balaam shouted. “If I had a sword with me, I would kill you!”
“But I am the same donkey you have ridden all your life,” the donkey answered. “Have I ever done anything like this before?” “No,” Balaam admitted.
Then the Lord opened Balaam’s eyes, and he saw the angel of the Lord standing in the roadway with a drawn sword in his hand. Balaam bowed his head and fell face down on the ground before him.
32 “Why did you beat your donkey those three times?” the angel of the Lord demanded. “Look, I have come to block your way because you are stubbornly resisting me.
Three times the donkey saw me and shied away; otherwise, I would certainly have killed you by now and spared the donkey.”
34 Then Balaam confessed to the angel of the Lord, “I have sinned. I didn’t realize you were standing in the road to block my way. I will return home if you are against my going.”

My epitaph

Ever wondered what people would say of you in your funeral service. Should it be that I have to pass away today, what would be put on my tombstone (my epitaph)?

I once asked my friend, Vidyuth Sreenivasan, who used to be my relay team partner in athletics, what he would say as my obituary and and he responded eloquently, “The best anchor a man could have, if only he was one step faster.” I used to run in the anchor (last) position in the relay, finishing the race, but our team came second place in an inter-school race by a distance that was just about a step behind or so, than the one who finished first.

I have thought about this question, time and again, and recently, when pondering this issue, I felt that my epitaph (departure sign) without the mention of my time on earth or my name (since it is recorded already in the Lamb’s book of Life) should read just the following-

“Here was an unworthy sinner, who, believed in Jesus Christ sent by God the Father, saved by GRACE because he believed, called to be a servant of God, strived to live with God the Holy Spirit as his guide, sowed in tears to be reaped in Joy by his God”

More important is that my arrival into God’s presence when leaving earth, is preceded by “Well done, my good and faithful servant; Come and inherit the kingdom that is prepared for you.

Point(s) to Ponder:
What would your epitaph read?