Sunday, December 27, 2009


In the 60’s, the Beatles rocked the world through their mesmerizing songs. John Lennon the lead singer wanted to send a tantalizing message to the world so he wrote a song on “Love” which was performed live; and watched by 400 million in 26 countries. If you listen to the song closely you can read the mixed messages.
“There's nothing you can do that can't be done
Nothing you can sing that can't be sung
Nothing you can say but you can learn how to play the game
It's easy “All you need is love, all you need is love; All you need is love, love, love is all you need.”
One way this message was saying you can do everything; does that make you special? No, because what you can do some one else can also do, perhaps better than you, then what makes you special? The only thing that makes you special is love. All you ever need and want is love” Because love is all you need. The Beatles were successful in convincing millions about their version of love but they did not quite know how to point people in the right direction. Could it be because they themselves were looking for love in the wrong places such as, music, drugs, sex, and popularity and so on?

The question however you must ask is what makes me special? Or what can set me apart from the rest? Where can I find true love? Who can truly love me unconditionally? If we were sincere; then our search for true love would lead us to Jesus who came into the world as an expression of God’s love for humanity.

When God wanted to show the world that he loved the world he did not simply say it in words “I Love You” but demonstrated it by sending his only son Jesus Christ into the world. That is the essence of Christmas. In John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” How else did God manifest his love? The prophet Hosea highlights several acts of God’s love toward his people. I would look at three amazing acts of love: His redemption; his care and his correction.

Hosea was the last prophet in Israel. He preached during the reign of Jeroboam II (793-753) B.C His mission was to call the nation of Israel to repent. Upon God’s command Hosea marries Gomer who was practicing harlotry. Hosea’s dealings with Gomer and the names given to the children who were born to him and conceived by Gomer was an object lesson to the Israelites. Just like Gomer was found unfaithful to Hosea the children of Israel too were unfaithful to God. Hosea pursued his unfaithful wife with a love similar to the love with which God perused unfaithful Israel. Inspite of their unfaithfulness God called out to the them to return.

Though the nation of Israel was turning away from God; he loved them; out of his great love for them he called them to come back to him. Just like the nation of Israel we too can go away from the Lord. The call of God is still the same even today. He is calling out to the unfaithful, and rebellious to come back to him in repentance. Vs 1. “When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son.” The first part of the verse indicates that God loved the nation of Israel from its infant stage. The statement “Out of Egypt I called my son” was not only referring to God redeeming Israel from the oppression of Egypt but also carried a futuristic message about the upcoming messiah. It was fulfilled in Mathew 2:15 “Out of Egypt did I call my Son.”
In Exodus 4:22, 23 “My son” was referring to Israel and in Matthew 2:15 “My Son” was referring to Jesus.

The words “my son” indicates a special and intimate father and son relationship God enjoyed with the nation of Israel. God loved Israel so much that he redeemed them from their oppressors. In Psalm 130:8 - 131:1 “He himself will redeem Israel from all their sins.” Exodus 6:6 “Therefore, say to the Israelites: 'I am the LORD, and I will bring you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians. I will free you from being slaves to them, and I will redeem you with an out stretched arm and with great judgments” What does redemption mean?
The word redemption means: The repayment of a debt. The act of purchasing back something previously sold. Theologically it is the act of delivering from sin or saving from evil. In any case the one who is being redeemed depends on the mercy of his redeemer. The Bible says every one who sins becomes a slave to sin. Christ came to set the captives free.

Keith Green a popular American music artist searched r true love in the wrong places, In his mid teens, he became heavily involved in drug use, eastern religion, astrology, and mysticism. His search came to an end when he finally received the true love of God; so he wrote:
“Like a foolish dreamer, trying to build a highway to the sky
All my hopes would come tumbling down, and I never knew just why
Until today, when you pulled away the clouds that hung like curtains on my eyes
Well I've been blind all these wasted years and I thought I was so wise
But then you took me by surprise
Like waking up from the longest dream, how real it seemed
Until your love broke through
I've been lost in a fantasy, that blinded me
Until your love broke through”
Your problem may not be drugs; or astrology and mysticism likes; it may be something else but if you have not yet found the true love of God; you might be searching for it in the wrong places like the Beatles and Keith Green.

II. God’s Caring Love: Hosea 11: 3 “Yet it was I who taught Ephraim to walk. I took them in my arms. But they did not know that I healed them. This verse explains how the Lord dealt with Ephraim or Israel as a father would deal with his son. By emphasizing it was I the Lord wanted the nation of Israel to know it was indeed God who has done the caring, teaching and healing and not their idols as they were led to believe.

God showed his love, care and instruction to the Israelites as a loving father would do to his children. Kidner states, “Fatherly love, in Hosea 11:1, is now in vs 3 charmingly portrayed in a scene that any family will recognize, with father absorbed in coaxing and supporting the child’s first staggering steps; picking him up when he tries or tumbles.”

I am familiar with this kind of training. I remember how I used to enjoy helping my three daughters when they started to walk. I would hold them by their arms and walk with them. Marriage and family are the most important institutions on the earth. Through a mother and a father God wants to demonstrate his loving nature. But unfortunately the very foundation of marriage and family are brutally attacked by Satan. As a result we have families breaking apart; marriages are failing; single moms are raising children and so on. Children growing up in families without a father figure at all in the first place or with abusive parents have difficulty relating to a heavenly caring and loving father. Have you ever doubted whether God loves you?

A famous poem of Foot prints by Mary Stevenson.
One night I dreamed I was walking along the beach with the Lord. Many scenes from my life flashed across the sky.
In each scene I noticed footprints in the sand. Sometimes there were two sets of footprints, other times there was one only.
This bothered me because I noticed that during the low periods of my life, when I was suffering from anguish, sorrow or defeat, I could see only one set of footprints, so I said to the Lord,
“You promised me Lord,
that if I followed you, you would walk with me always. But I have noticed that during the most trying periods of my life there has only been one set of footprints in the sand. Why, when I needed you most, have you not been there for me?”
The Lord replied, “The years when you have seen only one set of footprints, my child, is when I carried you.”

Some times we question God’s caring love don’t we? We wonder where God is when we are going through tough times in our lives. Though we do not see him with our physical eyes it doesn’t mean he is not involved in our lives. God wanted the Israelites to realize that it was he who taught them (by giving them the law and the prophets, it was he who fed them for 40 years in the wilderness. It was he who healed them when they were sick; in Psalm 107:20 “He sent forth his word and healed them; he rescued them from the grave.” The unseen God is very much present in the lives of his people through many acts of his loving care. Psalm 77:19 “Your path led through the sea, your way through the mighty waters, though your footprints were not seen.” Whether we recognize it or not God cares for his people. I Peter 5:7 “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you”

Discipline is one word many of us would wish it did not exist in the dictionary. It certainly is true that in some people’s lives it doesn’t exist. No one particularly enjoys discipline but it is essential for growth and success. If you want to progress and get ahead in life you need to learn discipline how ever unpleasant it may be. There are 36 scriptures in the Bible pertaining to discipline: Let me mention a few:

The friends who came to comfort Job in his time of distress gave this advice to him.
Job 5:17 “Blessed is the man whom God corrects; so do not despise the discipline of the Almighty.” For he wounds, but he also binds up; he injures but his hands also heal.”
God rebukes and discipline’s men for their sin regardless of who they are especially those he loves the most. Hosea 5:1-2 we see that the priests and the royal house have rebelled against God so he says “I will discipline all of them” When it comes to discipline God doesn’t spare any one of his children. Psalm 39:11 “You rebuke and discipline men for their sin”

Why should we embrace discipline in our lives?

Proverbs 12:1 “Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates correction is stupid.” Proverbs 13:18 “He who ignores discipline comes to poverty and shame, but whoever heeds correction is honored.”
Hebrews 12:5-9 "My son, do not make light of the Lord's discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son." Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it.”

If God disciplines his children because he loves them then how can we withhold love from our children by not disciplining them?

Parents please take note; I can not over emphasize the importance of disciplining our children. Let’s not neglect our God given responsibility to discipline our children while they are young. Partly the kind of mess we are in with the crime; youth violence; drug abuse is because many parents have abdicated their responsibility. If we discipline our children well today tomorrow the courts don’t have to punish them for their wrong and unruly behavior.

The Bible doesn’t mince words when it comes to how to parent our children. Proverbs 22:6 “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.
Proverbs 29:17 Discipline your son, and he will give you peace; he will bring delight to your soul.
Proverbs 19:18 Discipline your son, for in that there is hope; do not be a willing party to his death. In NLT it says “Otherwise you will ruin their lives.”

A.W Tozer (1897-1963) a well known Christian author of over 40 books including “The pursuit of God and the Knowledge of the Holy” He was considered by many Christian leaders as a modern day prophet. This is what he says about discipline in the American Church. “We must face the fact that many today are notoriously careless in their living. This attitude finds its way into the church. We have liberty, we have money, we live in comparative luxury. As a result, discipline practically has disappeared. What would a violin solo sound like if the strings on the musician's instrument were all hanging loose, not stretched tight, not "disciplined"?

The numbers tell us how undisciplined we are “The Percentage of American's who own running shoes but don't run is 87%”

Some of us wonder whether God still loves us after all what we have done to grieve him. The truth of the matter is that he still loves us inspite of all the wrong things we have done. He will punish us for our sins but he never with hold his love from us like he promised to king Solomon in 2 Samuel 7:14-15.

How does God demonstrate his amazing acts of love towards you? When you fall down he will pick you up; when you are wounded he will heal you; when you are feeling lonely he will come near you and stay with you. When you are hurting he will comfort you. When you are struggling financially he seeks to teach you and train you. When you disobey his commands he will rebuke and discipline you. When you are in danger he will send his angels to protect you. When you repent of your sin he will forgive and redeem you.

Because his great love God redeems us, cares for us and disciplines us. Revelation 3:19 “Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent.” Therefore Let’s turn back to God in repentance and bring our lives under the Lordship of Jesus Christ.

Sunday, December 20, 2009


When Pope Julius I authorized December 25 to be celebrated as the birthday of Jesus in A.D. 353, who would have ever thought that it would become what it is today. When Professor Charles Follen, lit candles on the first Christmas tree in America in 1832, who would have ever thought that the decorations would become as elaborate as they are today. It is a long time since 1832, and longer still from that first dark night brightened by a special star in which Jesus the king was born. Yet, as we approach December 25 again, it gives us yet another opportunity to pause, and in the midst of all the excitement and elaborate decorations and expensive commercialization which surround Christmas today, to consider again the event of Christmas and the person whose birth we celebrate.

How things have changed since the first Christmas. It was angels who announced the message of first Christmas. Now it’s the Macys on November 27th they ushered in the holiday season by lighting the Christmas tree in downtown Boston; announcing it is time to start emptying our pockets on Christmas gifts; replacing Christ with Santa. At the first Christmas the shepherds came longingly to Bethlehem to see the savior of the world; today both the adults and children alike come around the Christmas tree can hardly wait to unravel their Christmas presents. When the wise men mentioned to the then King Herod about the birth of the King of the Jews; along with him all of Jerusalem was disturbed. Today the very mention of Christmas is politically incorrect. How come we have replaced the eternal truths with material things? Is it time for us to consider again the true meaning and the message of Christmas?

Joseph perhaps is the most forgotten man of Christmas. He is Joseph the silent. In the word of God, Joseph never says a word. He is talked to and talked about, but not a single syllable comes from the mouth of Joseph, the adoptive father of Jesus. Joseph has the role of an extra. He is a character with minor credits. When we deal with our nativity scenes, he may be the last one set up and first one toppled over. Even though there are fifteen cities in the United States named after him, Joseph is the forgotten man of Christmas.

Many can identify with Joseph in the Christmas story; he is the forgotten man of Christmas; have you ever felt like Joseph lately? You may be feeling left out or lonely; thinking no one remembers you; no one seem to care enough even to send you a Christmas card; You may be surrounded by family and friends but emotionally unfulfilled, that may be your situation. The truth of the matter is that this Christmas season no one is left out or forgotten by God.

As promised, God remembered the prophecies concerning the messiah. The birth of Jesus was prophesied around 700 BC, by the prophet Isaiah. In Isaiah 9:4 “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace.”
In Malachi 4:5 “See, I will send you the prophet Elijah, before the great and dreadful day of the LORD comes.” This birth was referring to John the Baptist. In Biblical history, the approximately 400 years that separate from the time of Nehemiah to the birth of Christ, are known as the intertestamental period. Some times called the “silent years” they were anything but silent. Just imagine for 400 years; No visions! No revelation? No angelic visitations from God? In other words God was silent; the heavens were shut.

Oh! what hard years they must have been? Even though nothing spectacular was happening there were people like Zechariah and Elizabeth who were upright in the sight of God, observing all the Lord’s commandments and regulations blamelessly.(Lk 1:6)
How ironic it is; today like never before in the history we have access to the best Bible teachers and preachers through TV, Radio and Internet; all the best available Christian literature. How careless and callous have we become when it comes to obeying God and his commandments?

In Galatians 4:4 “But when the fullness of time came God sent forth his son born of a woman” Paul captured God’s timing beautifully here; the Greek words “pleroma chronos” meaning complete; fulfillment; the state of being full. God’s timing is never too early neither it is too late but his timing is perfect. The arrival of Christ the messiah has changed the face of the earth. God never forgets; he remembers his promises.


In the year 63 BC Pompey the Roman general, captured Jerusalem, and the provinces of Palestine became subject to Rome. Herod was the great King over Judea. During these unhappy years of oppression and internal strife the Jewish people were looking for the messiah to come and deliver them from the tyranny of the Roman Empire. It was a long wait; but finally that wait ended when Gabriel appeared to Zachariah who was the priest at that time. He was told that his wife was going to have a baby. At first Zachariah was skeptic; but when the promise came through he prophesied Luke 1:69-74 “He (God)has raised up a horn (strength) of salvation for us in the house of his servant David)…salvation from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us…to rescue us from the hand of our enemies..”

Christmas is a time of deliverance; It was not only meant for the Jewish people then but it is also for us today. The culture we live in today gives prominence to self reliance and self actualization. As a result there are a lot of “self help” and “do it yourself” books out there. This in itself is not necessarily bad but some times these books make us think we are invincible; we can do any and everything. We become gods in our own eyes. No doubt there is definitely place for taking personal responsibility when it comes to dealing with life; but certain situations are too hard; they are beyond us, that is when we must cry out for outside help.

In the Celebrate Recovery a twelve Step Christ centered recovery program by the way our church offers such a program right here; they begin their process of recovery by reminding people with addictions: “we were powerless over our addictions and compulsive behaviors, that our lives become unmanageable” Secondly, We came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.” I like this approach in recovery because it is a cry for help; a cry for a deliverer who can come and deliver people from their addictions and compulsive behaviors. We need a deliverer who is much stronger than ourselves.

When the Israelites faced the Red Sea in front of them and their enemies were fast approaching behind them Moses said to them: Exodus 14:13"Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the LORD will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again.” Psalm 33:17 “A horse is a vain hope for deliverance; despite all its great strength it cannot save.” Paul learned not to rely upon himself but entrusted his life to some one who can deliver him from his troubles so that he could say, 2 Corinthians 1:9-10 “Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us,”

John Paton (1824-1907) was a missionary in the New Hebrides Islands New Hebrides was the colonial name for an island group in the South Pacific that now forms the nation of Vanuatu.. One night hostile natives surrounded the mission station, intent on burning out the Patons and killing them. Paton and his wife prayed during that terror-filled night that God would deliver them. When daylight came they were amazed to see their attackers leave. A year later, the chief of the tribe was converted to Christ. Remembering what had happened, Paton asked the chief what had kept him from burning down the house and killing them. The chief replied in surprise, "Who were all those men with you there?" Paton knew no men were present--but the chief said he was afraid to attack because he had seen hundreds of big men in shining garments with drawn swords circling the mission station.”

God is our strong deliverer. Psalm 34:7 “The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them.”


C.S Lewis once said, “Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition, when infinite joy is offered to us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in the slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.
Men and women have pursued joy in every avenue imaginable. Some have successfully found it while others have not.

Perhaps it would be easier to describe where joy cannot be found:
Not in Unbelief -- Voltaire was an infidel of the most pronounced type. He wrote: "I wish I had never been born."
Not in Pleasure -- Lord Byron lived a life of pleasure if anyone did. He wrote: "The worm, the canker, and grief are mine alone."
Not in Money -- Jay Gould, the American millionaire, had plenty of that. When dying, he said: "I suppose I am the most miserable man on earth." Barney Madoff might say the same
Not in Position and Fame -- Lord Beaconsfield enjoyed more than his share of both. He wrote: "Youth is a mistake; manhood a struggle; old age a regret."
Not in Military Glory -- Alexander the Great conquered the known world in his day. Having done so, he wept in his tent, before he said, "There are no more worlds to conquer."
Where then is real joy found?

Did you know that there are more scriptures in the Bible speak of joy than sorrow and misery? Sad 9; Sorrow 34; Misery 34; Pain 39, Joy 210;. If these numbers should say any thing they should say that our God is a God of joy and not of sadness and misery. If God is not the source of sadness, sickness and misery then who else could be the source?

How can we differentiate joy from happiness? According to Webster: “Happiness is the pleasurable experience that springs from the gratification of desires; enjoyment; good fortune; luck; prosperity.” It is based on luck or good fortune. Joy on the other hand is described as a vivid emotion of pleasure. Thus happiness depends on circumstance; joy on our emotional well being. When we win a lottery we feel happy; but we feel joy when we look at our children or grand children. The following Alive website article reads:

“One way to understand the differences between joy and happiness is to think about their opposites. While the opposite of happiness is unhappiness, the opposite of joy is fear.
William Blake showed us the dichotomy between opposites. He wrote that two opposing emotions such as fear and joy expand and contract in direct relation to the presence of the other. We cannot feel total joy and total fear at the same time. This is why real joy is the absence of fear. Happiness happens when things go well. Joy on the other hand comes from a swell of emotion within us and sometimes has to be learned.”

If Joy is the absence of fear could it be for that reason when the angels visited Zachariah, Mary; Joseph; and the shepherds the first thing they said was “Do not be afraid”? Because the news followed afterwards would no longer be good news because if they were afraid. During his earth several times Jesus assured his disciples saying “fear not”; After, his death and resurrection the angels told the frightened women don’t be afraid Whenever God appeared to his people in the Bible and even today the first thing he wants to take care of is fear because you can not have fear and trust God at the same time.

The Bible is full of scriptures that say; do not be afraid.
Do we dare to let go of our fears and rejoice that the Savior has come? Or are we like the Presbyterians at a conference in Omaha who were put to a little “Joy test”. People were given helium filled balloons and told to release them at some point in the service when they felt like expressing the joy in their hearts. Since they were Presbyterians, they weren't free to say "Hallelujah, Praise the Lord." All through the service balloons ascended, but when it was over 1/3 of the balloons were unreleased. Let your balloon go! Lift up you head and let your heart sing. Joy to the world the Lord has come… Let earth rejoice his

Sunday, December 13, 2009

THE SPIRITUAL WAR ZONE:(The Three Battle Grounds)

The sights of exploding bombs, Army tanks, burnt down buildings, and gun shots, grimly remind people that they are in a War Zone. A group of academics and historians compiled this startling information: Since 3600 B.C., the world has known only 292 years of peace! During this period there have been 14,351 wars large and small, in which 3.64 billion people have been killed.

For many of us war is not a new concept. According to this article the world has been literally at war since 3600 B.C but another war has been going on since the creation of the world that is Spiritual warfare. The Argentinean Evangelist Ed Silvoso says, “The Church in the West today presents too easy a target for Satan. We do not believe we are at war. We do not know where the battleground is located, and, in spite of our weapons, they are neither loaded nor aimed at the right target. We are unaware of how vulnerable we are.”

Though we may not visibly see the exact location of where this Spiritual warfare is taking place, the fact is that we are indeed in a Spiritual War Zone. Paul compares Spiritual warfare to a wrestling match in Ephesians 6th chapter. Like wrestling, spiritual warfare is constant and the battle is absolutely constant. When I say the battle is constant, it does not mean that we must struggle to maintain which God has done. We don’t need to struggle to achieve salvation. The grace of God has placed us in that position. We stand, not for our salvation but because of it. Let’s look at the strength of the enemy, his impact in the world and his three battle grounds.

How often do we think about angels fighting? Until the publishing of Frank Peretti’s book, “This Present Darkness” in 1986 many did not consider the Biblical reality of angels and demons. Even now many Christians do not consider it at all. Daniel 10 gives us a peek into the cosmic unseen realm. Daniel fasted and prayed for twenty one days. Many of us would give up after praying for twenty minutes. As a result of his prayer God sent an angel, “Daniel 10:12-13 Then he continued, "Do not be afraid, Daniel.” Since the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to them. 13 But the prince of the Persian kingdom resisted me twenty-one days. Then Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, because I was detained there with the king of Persia.” Later the angel says, “But I shall now return to fight against the prince of Persia.” Vs 20.

In the story of Daniel we see how evil forces can oppose God’s angels. Let’s not under estimate the power of Satan. Jesus often delivered people who were possessed by demons by a simple rebuke. The freeing of the demoniac gives us a glimpse into the power of Satan. Mark 5:1-5 “When Jesus got out of the boat, a man with an evil spirit came from the tombs to meet him. This man lived in the tombs, and no one could bind him any more, not even with a chain. For he had often been chained hand and foot, but he tore the chains apart and broke the irons on his feet. No one was strong enough to subdue him. Night and day among the tombs and in the hills he would cry out and cut himself with stones.” The strength and the power of this man was unusual no wonder he was controlled by over 2000 demons. With one command Jesus freed the demoniac. Another hilarious incident explains the power of the evil spirit.

We read in Acts 19:14-16 “Seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, were driving out demons by using Jesus’ name. One day the evil spirit answered them, "Jesus I know, and I know about Paul, but who are you?" Then the man who had the evil spirit jumped on them and overpowered them all. He gave them such a beating that they ran out of the house naked and bleeding.” Pretty embarrassing’ right? That shows the power of the evil spirits. Don’t play with evil spirits.
The Bible refers to Satan and his power a lot does it mean it is giving too much prominence and publicity to the devil? I have been sharing for the past three weeks on this subject matter as well. Why do I do that? As I have mentioned earlier, most spiritual warfare is won in our awareness of the work of the enemy.

Let’s be aware of the enemy; but be impressed by our God and His power!

Think of the most grotesque and evil things people do to one another. Think of the 9/11 terrorist attacks where 2,976 innocent people were killed. In 2008 Mumbai attacks, nearly 200 people were killed and 300 were wounded. Think of all the violence, crime, and wars, the killing of innocent babies, broken marriages and families, and other devastations in the world. Does this make you wonder who could be behind all this tragedy? Dean Sherman the author of Spiritual warfare writes, “We recoil in horror from these terrible things that men do to one another. For the most part, we are sheltered from the terror of these realities. But these things have all been spawned by our enemy. Satan is far worse than anything real or imagined.”

Satan seems to be having the control over the world. He is publicly worshipped. Many are being deceived by listening to his lies, and blindly following him. There are Satanic Churches and there even is a Satanic Bible. How does one gets into the grip of Satan? It is through disobedience to God and willing exposure to satanic activities. Satan intends to destroy our minds, bodies, character, reputation and our relationships. The Bible warns us against certain evil practices. In Deut 18:10-12, “There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or daughter pass through the fire, one who uses divination, one who practices witchcraft, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, or one who casts a spell, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead, For whoever does these things is detestable to the Lord.”

Why should Christians avoid these abominable practices? Because, when we consult a supernatural source for understanding we open up ourselves to the powers of darkness. God wants us to consult him when we need understanding. He wants us to ask him for wisdom. According to Dean Sherman,“the growth and widespread acceptance of the occult has been increased in the recent decades.” The other day I went to the RITE AIDE store to pick up some medicines while checking out, my eyes fell on a glittering gold color horoscope book titled “Know your future 2010 by reading your Stars” Hm! Here I’ve been fasting and praying to sense God’s direction for me, my family and the Church in 2010, how easy it would be to just flip through something like that?

Unfortunately every morning over coffee, millions flip to the horoscope section of the daily news paper to find out what their day will be like. If you have more money, you can even hire a personal psychic who could predict your future. Undoubtedly these days Satan is targeting Christian homes and families with an intention to destroy them. As parents we have an awesome responsibility to bring up our Children in the ways of God. Parents let’s be careful on what we let our children read, listen, watch and play with. For example, tarot cards, Ouija boards, Dungeons and Dragons games, certain comic books with demonic characters, palm reading, certain computer and video games, music and so on. Like any other sin all these, usually start out as innocent fun and exploration, but what people don’t realize is that they get caught in a web of evil powers that can ruin their lives. What are some of the prime targets of the enemy? Let’s look at the three battle grounds.

Coming back to my war analogy in the beginning, in any war strategic areas such as Bridges, Roads, Airfields, Television, Radio Station, and Telecommunication are highly protected from the enemy. There will be intense and heightened security around these targets. Whoever will hold these key places can eventually win the battle. In the same way in spiritual warfare the enemy likes to target three main areas in a believer’s life. 1. The mind 2. The heart. 3. The mouth. If he could get hold of these three areas he can destroy your life.

Every thought that enters our mind has three possible sources. Firstly, God has created us with a unique ability to think our own thoughts independent of any other source, these are our thoughts. Secondly God can speak into our minds, while praying, reading the scriptures or listening to a sermon or listening to wise council. Thirdly, the forces of darkness also speak to us. Unfortunately, many Christians listen to the enemy, are influenced by him and suffer the consequences. Why is the mind the first strategic target? Because everything begins in our minds. Most spiritual warfare takes place in our minds. The more we listen, and believe the lies of the enemy in our minds the more we behave like. What we think is often what we tend to believe.

There were times I needed to catch myself from thinking negative and critical thoughts of other leaders and ministries. Satan is the accuser of the brethren (Rev 12:10). He takes delight in filling our minds with accusations against our husbands or wives, our leaders, our friends, or people from a particular country or city or against God himself. In 2 Corinthians 10:4-5 “The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”(NASB).

Two mental strongholds are extremely common today among Christians and non Christians a like: thoughts of inferiority and thoughts of condemnation. Inferiority thoughts constantly tell us, “you are not tall enough” “you are not beautiful” “you are not smart enough” “you are not really making it in life” “No body loves you” In my own life I struggled with these thoughts and also ministered to many people who have entertained such thoughts. For some Satan brings thoughts of condemnation saying, “You are not pleasing to God, you are not spiritual enough, you are not reading your Bible enough, not praying enough, you are not close to God. These thoughts make us feel like we could never experience God’s fullness in our lives.

Some Christians live constantly with thoughts of inferiority and condemnation. Through spiritual warfare we must pull down these two strongholds. How can we do that? It is possible by renewing our minds or replacing the lies of the enemy with the truth from the scriptures. The truth of the matter is “there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”(Romans 8:1)
We are called to watch our hearts with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life (Proverbs 4:23). When the Bible refers to “the heart” it may mean many things. In regards to spiritual warfare, I am taking two of the Bible meanings – the attitudes and the emotions. We know the utmost importance of the head and the heart in our body. In a battle if a soldier looses a leg or a hand can still survive but a wound to the head or heart can bring fatal.

We Christians are good at dealing with sins of actions but we seldom pay attention to what goes on in our heart, our attitude and emotions. Great many number of books out there in the market dealing with the subject “Attitude” Jeff Keller wrote a book titled “Attitude is everything: “Change your attitude and Change your life” secular people understand the importance of having the right attitudes. We can do and say the right thing but if our attitude is bad nothing we do or say pleases God. We should be just as responsible when it comes to dealing with wrong attitudes. Putting on the old self and putting on the new self (Eph 4:22-24) means taking daily responsibility to deal with our wrong attitudes.

How about dealing with our emotions like anger, harboring bitterness in our hearts. Ephesians 4:26 "In your anger do not sin": Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry and do not give a foot hold to the devil. Why is it important to check our anger quickly, when we remain angry for a long time we will give entry to the devil; If we give him one foot he will come in ten feet into our hearts. Bitterness is another thing that can destroy lives. Hebrews 12:15 “See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.” It is our responsibility to get rid off anger and bitterness, Ephesians 4:31Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Please don’t remain angry and bitter and miss out on God’s grace.

So often we who are supposed to be encouragers of the brethren and proclaimers of truth allow our mouths to become tools of destruction in the hands of the devil. In the name of freedom of speech we talk any and everything that comes to our mind; we justify it saying “this is my opinion.” Even Christians at times let unwholesome talk come out of their mouths without blinking an eye. What does the bible say about our words and our tongue?
Ephesians 4:29-31 “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.” Much can be said on our speech; I will keep that for another time.

How could we have the victory over our mouth? Firstly, by repenting of our loose talk, secondly, by asking God to give his fear over our mouth thirdly, asking God to shut our mouths like David did, Psalm 141:3 “Set a guard over my mouth, O LORD; keep watch over the door of my lips. So far we have learned that we are in a spiritual warfare, the warfare is consistent, our enemy is indeed strong and powerful, he is causing havoc in the world, he attacks us in our mind, heart and mouth. Let’s guard these three crucial battle grounds of the enemy.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

KNOWING YOUR ENEMY(Regaining Spiritual Power)

We are in the thick of the Basket ball season. After a brief bump in the road, where our Celtics lost three of four games in mid-November, all seems to be right again in Boston. The Celts are riding high with a five-game win streak. To ensure his team’s victory any good coach understands that knowing the strengths and weaknesses of his own team is only half the game; knowing and understanding the opponents personnel is the other half. Basket ball strategist Clint Adkins says, “Learning about the opponent is best accomplished by scouting, which includes going to opponents games, watching tapes of them play and looking for players statistics.”

Scouting is not only used in basket ball games but also in military combating. This is not a new thing; it was used a long time ago by military strategist Moses when he dispatched the first CIA (Canaan Investigation Agency) ever. He sent out twelve spies with specific instructions to investigate the land of Canaan: “See what the land is like and whether the people who live there are strong or weak, few or many. What kind of land do they live in? Is it good or bad? What kind of towns do they live in? Are they un-walled or fortified?”(Numbers 13: 18-20)

In my previous message I have shared that whether we like it or not, whether we are prepared or not we have an enemy to fight and a war to win. This is unlike any other warfare; this is Spiritual Warfare. The enemy we are dealing with is much smarter, more powerful and wiser than we think and above all he is vicious and wickedly harmful. He has a bagful of schemes and plans to deceive and possibly destroy God’s people. As a good spiritual coach and a caring pastor I do not want any one of us to be as gullible and ignorant as to succumb to his tactics.

How can we fight the enemy on a daily basis? How can we become victorious in our battles? At the end of every famous GI Joe episode, the network would play on the famous GI Joe Public Service announcement it would always go something like this: The Kids would say "Thanks now we know. G.I. Joe Soldier would respond saying "knowing is half the battle!" in the same way knowing about the origin, the nature, strengths, limitations, his battle strategies and the destiny of our enemy is half the battle. So let’s explore.

All Bible believing Christians acknowledge the reality of Satan or the Devil. I Peter 5:8, “Be self controlled and alert. Your enemy the Devil.” The word Satan both in Hebrew& Greek means adversary, the accuser, the superhuman figure, the enemy of God and his people. Has Satan always existed like God or has been created at one point? What does the Bible say about his origin? Though we don’t read much about how he was created; nonetheless he was a created being like everything else.Colossians 1:16 “For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him.” All things; yes including Satan was created by God.


When we think of Satan or the Devil we imagine a shady character in dark clothes, with two horns on his head, two wings, long tail, with a pitch fork in hand terrorizing people. Neither does he walk around with a red band on his forehead which says “SATAN.” When God created Satan was he as ugly and bad as Hollywood and cartoonists tend to project? No! Like everything else that God created he was a good Cherub (angel); God anointed him and placed him as a guardian cherub. “He was the model of perfection full of wisdom and perfect in beauty” (Ezekiel 28:12).
He was blameless until wickedness was found in him. In other words until Satan sinned. What was his wickedness? What caused Satan to loose his position of being the guardian worshipping angel? The scripture says, that his heart became proud because of his beauty and wisdom, he exalted himself above God. Therefore God drove him in disgrace from the mountain of God to the earth.( Ezekiel 28:16,17) along with him he brought a third of angels who later became his followers, (Rev 12:4). He’s now along with his evil forces fighting for control of the world and the souls of humans. Pride became the downfall of SATAN.

What does the Bible have to say about Pride?
Proverbs 11:2 “When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.”
Proverbs 29:23 A man's pride brings him low, but a man of lowly spirit gains honor.
Ecclesiastes 7:8 The end of a matter is better than its beginning, and patience is better than pride.
Romans 12:16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.
James 4:6 But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: "God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble."
Proverbs 16:18 Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.

In the summer of 1986, two ships collided in the Black Sea off the coast of Russia. Hundreds of passengers died as they were hurled into the icy waters below. News of the disaster was further darkened when an investigation revealed the cause of the accident. It wasn't a technology problem like radar malfunction--or even thick fog. The cause was human stubbornness. Each captain was aware of the other ship's presence nearby. Both could have steered clear, but according to news reports, neither captain wanted to give way to the other. Each was too proud to yield first. By the time they came to their senses, it was too late.

At times we take pride in our achievements, and accomplishments, thinking that it was all because of us. But we fail to give the glory back to God who enables us to accomplish things.
May we learn from this call for National humiliation and Fasting & Prayer day by Abraham Lincoln on April 30th 1863.

Excerpts from that proclamation: “We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of Heaven. We have been preserved, these many years, in peace and prosperity. We have grown in numbers, wealth, and power as no other nation has ever grown. But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace, and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us; and have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own.
Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us!”
While much can be said about pride, here we have an example in Abraham Lincoln who was humble enough to call the nation back to acknowledge their sin of pride and ask God for his mercy and forgiveness.

The Bible doesn’t keep silent when it comes to exposing Satan. There are number of names mentioned for Satan in the Bible which give us a glimpse into the nature of Satan.
Accuser (Rev 12:10),
Beelzebub (Mt 12:24)
Devil (Mt 4:1)
God of this age (2 Co 4:4)
Murderer (John 8:44)
Prince of Demons (Mt 12:24)
Prince of the kingdom of the Air (Eph 2:2)
Prince of this world (John 14:30)
Ruler of darkness (Eph 6:12) Serpent (Gen 3:4) Tempter Mt 4:3) Unclean Spirit (Mt 12:43) Evil one Mt 13:19)

Jesus further revealed the nature of Satan by saying, John 10:10 “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” John 8:44 “He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.”

Satan has been a liar, murderer and deceiver from the beginning. Satan deceived Eve by causing her to question the goodness, love and motives of God. Did God really say? You must not eat from any fruit from any tree in the Garden? In other words has God placed any restrictions? He created a doubt in the mind of Eve, to further strengthen that doubt he told her a half truth, “You will not surely die” your eyes will be opened and you will be like God knowing good and evil.” Nancy Leigh Demos the author of “Lies Women Believe” says, “Eve had listened to that lie, believed that lie, and acted on that lie. Every problem, every war, every wound, every broken relationship, every heartache—it all goes back to one simple lie.”

Sin always begins with a doubt and followed with a lie. For example having an affair and committing adultery, when the Bible says “You shall not commit adultery” you doubt the good intentions of God in a committed relationship to one spouse. You will believe a lie which says, no one will notice your affair, your wife is not hear, by they way cheating on wives is a common thing these days, in fact it makes you more of a human like some one said in the recent celebrity cheating case of Tiger Wood. Be careful your sin can always catch up with you; sooner than latter. The enemy is a deceiver from the beginning. To deceive means “To cause to believe what is not true; to mislead.” Many ads on the TV and magazines can be misleading. Our culture is steeped in deception. It is everywhere. Many of us have been sorely disappointed rather deceived by certain ads either on the TV, Billboards or magazines. Don’t be deceived, everything that glitters is not gold.

Satan is deceiving millions with half baked truths. Leigh Demos deals with 40 lies that women tend to believe, “I am not worth anything, I need to learn to love myself, I can’t help the way I am, Physical beauty matters more than inner beauty, I can sin and get away with it, I have to have a husband to be happy, My husband is supposed to serve me, If I submit to my husband I will be miserable, Sometimes divorce is a better option than staying in a bad marriage.”

How about men? Are they any better? No they too believe lies. What are the lies that men believe? The following list is taken from a blog article. It may not be true with all men but it gives us an idea of the lies we men tend to believe:
No one will find out. I won’t be caught viewing pornography The consequences won’t be that bad.
I don’t need other people. No one else faces the same temptations I do.
More money and possessions will make me more happy.
I can’t help who I am. I could never do anything great for God.
The best way to provide for my family is to work, work, and work.
Its uncool to be humble, ask forgiveness, seek help.
Its uncool to be kind, considerate, and show grace.
A little time in church on Sunday is enough.
God has nothing to do with my work and hobbies.
My marriage is never going to be great.
If my wife is unresponsive its okay to look elsewhere for what I need.
Its impossible to relate to my wife.
Little sins are okay – everyone does them.
Church is for wimps. God is not able.”

May be there are other lies you believe that are not included in this list. How about the lies young people believe? It is cool to be a rebel, quit school; it is for wimps, Pre marital sex is great; every one is doing, it better prepares you for marriage, For boys: if you drive a cool car, girls will fall for you. For girls: if you wear sexy and revealing clothes you become popular. Life is short so enjoy everything now.

Unfortunately even in Christian circles lies are rampant. According to Leigh Demos, “Tune into many religious radio and television broadcasts, listen to many popular Christian mental health professionals, and you will find respected Christian leaders who are deceiving their followers. They promise God’s blessing and grace to people who do not qualify because of their willful disobedience and unrepentant hearts. Through their teaching help people justify:
Anger (“healthy expression of your true feelings”)
Selfishness (“You’ve got to place boundaries between you and demanding people)
Irresponsibility (“you are dysfunctional because you have been deeply wounded by others) and infidelity (“You are free to divorce your mate and marry some one else; God is the God of the Second Chance). At the same time through their teaching, they make the righteous “feel” sad or guilty: For taking personal responsibility (“You are codependent”)
For demonstrating a servant’s heart (“you shouldn’t let others take advantage of you) and for being faithful to their vows (“God doesn’t expect you to stay in that marriage.”)

From the beginning, the enemy has tried to make right look wrong and the wrong look right. How can we encounter the lies of the enemy? Jesus gave a principle to follow in combating the lies that the enemy bring to your mind. John 8:31-32, "If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” It is only by holding on to the teachings of Christ, we will know the truth and the truth will set us free from the bondage of Sin. We looked at the origin, the fall, the names and the nature of the enemy. Knowing our enemy is half the battle.