Sunday, January 31, 2010


What was initially created as a nerve tonic, stimulant and a headache remedy in 1886 became a world renowned brand today; Coke. Most of us enjoyed a can of Coke at one time or the other in life! Right? But how many of us know what the vision and the mission of the Coca-Cola Company is? Here is how they look at the future and their mission statement:

Changing Context: The world is changing all around us. To continue to thrive as a business over the next ten years and beyond, we must look ahead, understand the trends and forces that will shape our business in the future and move swiftly to prepare for what's to come. We must get ready for tomorrow today. That's what our 2020 Vision is all about. It creates a long-term destination for our business and provides us with a "Roadmap" for winning together with our bottler partners.

Their Mission: To refresh the world: To Inspire moments of optimism and happiness: To create value and make a difference :

In order to stay in business the Coke Company is studying and understanding the changing trends and swiftly preparing to face every business challenge in the next 20 years. They motivate their staff, employees, partners to be committed to the vision and the mission of their company. This is a secular company understanding the power of vision and mission.

Having a vision and mission is very Biblical. “The Men of Issachar understood the times and knew what Israel should do.” (I Chronicles 12; 33). The men of Issachar lived during (1010-970 B.C) changing times. They have just lost their fearless leader and King, Saul. They understood what was going on in Israel at that time and came up with a plan of action for Israel. We too are living in changing times. Things are not the same as they used to be sixty years ago. The message and the mission have not changed but how we do missions in the postmodern context must be given some thought. We can not do things the same old way.

For the past five years my wife and I have been pondering how to witness to people who seemed to have every thing yet are poor without Christ. Since I became the pastor of this church I have been wrestling with questions such as, how can our church remain relevant and impactful in the changing community? What is the New Paradigm of Missions? In order to grasp the new paradigm of missions let’s look at how missions have been done in the past.

A typical individual believer gets a call from God and decides to go to oversees to preach the gospel to the heathen living in the jungles of Africa or dusty villages of Asia. We call these mission fields. The mission’s board adopts that missionary, raises support and sends him out, in some cases the individuals have to raise their own support. The traditional way of doing Missions meant traveling to foreign countries for many centuries. But now the times have changed we don’t have to go to other countries, people from all over the world are coming to USA, and moreover the Air travel is costly and not so safe these days. It doesn’t mean that God won’t call people to go to other countries as missionaries, but he is calling us to open our eyes to see the tremendous need to share the gospel right here in our own cities and communities.

David Brainerd (1718-1747) was a missionary to the American Indians in New York, New Jersey, and eastern Pennsylvania. He was born in Connecticut in 1718. By almost every standard known to modern missionary boards, David Brainerd would have been considered a real risk and rejected as a missionary candidate. He was tubercular -- from his youth was frail and sickly. He never finished college, being expelled from Yale, prone to be melancholy and despondent. Yet this young man became a missionary to the American Indians and, in the most real sense pioneered Modern missions. He died of tuberculosis at the age of twenty-nine.

In traditional Missions the focus has been oversees, the heathen in foreign lands. While that focus still continues let’s not forget the millions who do not know Christ right here in our communities. We need to develop new strategies to reach them with the gospel.

If you have to describe the mission of Jesus in one word what would you say? A wealthy philanthropist once offered to telegraph one of the founder of the Salvation Army William Booth’s sermon worldwide. Booth excitedly accepted the offer. There’s one stipulation. The philanthropist cautioned “Your sermon can only be one word long” General booth was quick to comply. Here is the master piece one word sermon of Booth “Others” What a fantastic message. William Booth took Paul’s words to Philippians seriously.

Let me read. Philippians 2:4-11 “Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death-- even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

In this scripture we see a model for missions. We are called to step out of our comfort zones. Some times it is lot easier to do missions in poorer nations than to do missions in the cities of America or to just give money to missions; but actually going out to share the gospel with our friends, colleagues, relatives and neighbors calls for more courage and boldness.

William Booth, David Brainerd D.L Moody, Jonathan Edwards, Billy Graham and many other American believers over the centuries have understood the mission of Jesus. They followed in his foot steps they cared for others, travelled far and wide to bring the good news. Because of those efforts the gospel has reached to the four corners of the globe. However in the recent decades that tide has turned other way around. England, the once great Christian missionary-sending nation for centuries, before America, now has more mosques than churches, and must itself be reached all over again with the Gospel! We are on this same path. The picture of the so called Christian nations is not that pretty. Consider the following shocking statistics:
According to Leighthon Ford, evangelist and Christian leader, "North America is now the largest mission field in the English-speaking world"

According to George Barna: "With its, 195 million unchurched people, America has become the new mission field.

According to one study, "In 2000, the United States sent out 118,200 missionaries, but it also received 33,200. Ironically, the world's largest missionary-sending country now needs missionaries. The number of churches in Chicago has decreased by 900 in the last 10 years! In many cases what were once churches are now condominiums. While Christianity is drastically decreasing other faiths are showing explosive growth in the USA. The world's largest Buddhist temple is located in Boulder, CO,! The world's largest Muslim training center is in New York City, The world's largest training center for transcendental meditation is in Fairfield, Iowa,”

What’s happening? What has brought this lethargy in the Church in America? How have we drifted so far off from the “Primary Purpose”? We have no one else to blame except ourselves. How do we understand Missions in this depressing, and overwhelming context? How can we over come lethargy and regain our lost passion for souls?

David Shibley, writes in his book “The mission’s Addiction” “The Antidote for lethargy is to get outside of ourselves and embrace a greater vision of God and His unflinching determination to receive glory from every people and nation.” Look at the hundreds and thousands of Immigrants pouring in to the USA and many of them are from closed countries to the gospel. Who will reach them with the gospel? I firmly believe this is the time for the Church of Jesus Christ to rise up from its slumber and get involved in local missions. If we as a Church want to be relevant and make a difference in our communities we need to have a new paradigm of Missions. The new paradigm of Missions is to become Missional in our thinking and living. Let me explain:


In the past decade or so I have started hearing the term Missional more and more. Recently I attended a pastor’s network meeting where pastors and new church planters were working on a book called “Think Missional”: Becoming the people God intended by Les Welk. Let me share a few thoughts from this book: “The word missional is a relatively new term but has been used by mission strategists since 1950. It is important that individual Christ-followers and faith communities seek to grasp the meaning of missional living and pursue such a lifestyle.

A missional life is where “the way of Jesus’ informs and radically transforms our existence to one wholly focused on sacrificially living for him and others and where we adopt a missionary stance in relation to our culture.” Being Missional is to participate in the Mission of God which is to participate in what Christ is doing in the world. Therefore the church is not to determine its own agenda but rather participate in God’s agenda according to His call and guidance. Missional church is more concerned being God centered than program centered.” Missional churches do not see themselves as a “vendor of Christian marketing” but rather view the Church as the “sent people of God sent on the Mission of Jesus.”

Some times we have a wrong nation of missions, Darrel Gudder in his book “Missional Church” stated, “The mission is not merely an activity of the church. Rather, mission is the result of God’s initiative, rooted in God’s purpose to restore and heal creation.” We think missionaries are special people with a special calling to deliver a special message to a specific group of people. We esteem these people in high honor. Which is well and good; but do you know that in one way we all are missionaries? We have received the call to go? And we all have the same sender sending us with a same message on a mission. John 20:21 Again Jesus said, "Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you." To do what? To share the good news with the lost. What was and is the Mission of Jesus?


Throughout his earthly ministry Jesus always was mindful of the needs of others. He never lost sight of his mission. He did not hold anything back for himself including his life in order to accomplish his mission. What did Jesus say about his mission on earth?
Luke 19:10 “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.” He illustrated his mission through parables and demonstrated it through his miracles. The parables of the lost sheep and the lost coin illustrate the fact that lost souls are on God’s top priority list.
He reminded his disciples of his primary purpose time and again. On one occasion he said to them; Mark 1:38-45 "Let us go somewhere else-- to the nearby villages-- so I can preach there also. That is why I have come. So he traveled throughout Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and driving out demons.”

If we claim to be his followers then we have an obligation to fulfill. Let’s ask ourselves as individuals and corporately as a church how are we fulfilling the great commission? How is Evangelical Congregational Church of Atlantic fulfilling the great commission? In efforts to become a relevant church in the community the leadership of this church met together last year and came up with a vision statement and mission statement.

When the world around us is changing rapidly, we can not afford to do the same old things in the same old way year after year. Each of us needs to rise up and ask, Lord how do you want me to be involved in building this church? How can I use my gifting and skills to serve you better? When the world out there is dying without Christ how can we the followers of Christ keep this wonderful gift of salvation to ourselves? May the Lord help each of us and our Church to be fully committed and engaged in the Mission of God. Amen

Sunday, January 17, 2010


Are you overwhelmed with life’s challenges and problems? Are you tested in your faith? Are you facing a mountain that can not be moved? Are you worried and afraid about your future? Is it possible that you have lost some perspective on the greatness of God? Welcome to the club of frail humans who are trying to make some sense of this life. Isn’t it true that at one time or the other we all struggle with unbelief?

How can we stop worrying? Is there a cure for anxiety? Is it possible to hold up our faith in an age filled with skepticism? Where can I find true freedom? Can I trust God with all my life’s challenges? Does God still perform miracles? These and many more questions can be answered when we have the right perspective of who God really is.

In 1792 A.D William Carey understood the amazing power of God’s saving grace therefore he challenged his Baptist colleagues to get involved in the missionary enterprise with these words “EXPECT GREAT THINGS FROM GOD AND ATTEMPT GREAT THINGS FOR GOD” Carey not only made a bold statement but he acted on it and showed to the world that our God is indeed a great God. How about us? Do we only remain at the level of making bold statements or can we actually expect great things from God and attempt great things for God? Who has ever reached great heights by just only dreaming of them?
The great inventors and achievers of all times were not jut dreamers but they attempted something bigger than them, they were not afraid to fail they went and did great things. Has not Jesus said you will do greater things than these? Then what is stopping us? Why are we not seeing breakthrough in our lives? How great is (Y) our God?

When it comes to explaining the doctrine of God each of us bring our own understanding of who God is therefore my explanation of God is not comprehensive, nevertheless let me explain the indescribable, uncontainable, all powerful and (untamable) God of the universe. Why is it necessary that we understand the greatness of God? I believe it will help us develop a Holy reverence towards the almighty God. Weather we like it or not the skepticism around us influences us a great deal. We fail to see how God is at work in our day to day life. In order to discover God’s greatness I will be sharing several scriptural illustrations from God’s word and real life stories. Hopefully by the end of this study you will get a glimpse of how great and awesome your God truly is? Let’s begin!

What a beautiful world we live in! Though through the fall of man and sin much has been damaged, yet there is still a lot of beauty out there. If only we have an eye for it the beauty of God can be seen and felt every where. Majestic mountain peaks, thundering water falls, magnificent sun sets, glorious rainbows, the brilliance of a frosty winter landscape, a crisp New England autumn day, the beauty of human love and the tenderness of a babies smile all these tend to reflect the glory of their awesome Creator.

When we look at this wonderful creation do we ever pause and ask ourselves how did this all begin? Whose master mind was behind all this? The Bible says in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth and everything in them. Not only has he created everything by his spoken word but also He sustains and rules everything by his awesome power. God’s creation doesn’t fail to reveal his greatness and give him glory.

The following scriptures convey how majestic and glorious our God is:

Psalm 89:5-11 “The heavens praise your wonders, O LORD,…For who in the skies above can compare with the LORD? Who is like the LORD among the heavenly beings?... You rule over the surging sea; when its waves mount up, you still them. The heavens are yours, and yours also the earth; you founded the world and all that is in it.”

Psalm 19:1-6 “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard.”

Psalm 104:12 “The birds of the air nest by the waters; they sing among the branches.” Psalm 148 explains how all of God’s creation is praising God because His name is alone exalted his splendor is above the earth and the heavens.”

I grew up in a country where people worship trees, mountains, rivers, animals, the sun and the moon etc. They see everything as god. It is called Pantheism where people believe that the universe or the nature itself is god hence they worship the nature. This popular eastern religious belief is increasingly becoming popular in the west. On the contrary the scriptures tell us that the whole nature is revealing God’s greatness by giving him the glory. If the nature is glorifying God are we as the cream of his creation expected to do any thing less?

We are fascinated with people who do extraordinary things that no one else has ever done before. Their names are entered into the Guinness book of world records: Chad Nederland who holds nine world records, for his 10th one held back two Cesna 206 airplanes from taking off by hand for one minute 6 seconds. Pretty impressive isn’t it? The funny thing about these records is that either the person who makes the record or some one else breaks it.
But some of the spectacular things that God had done in the history of humanity have been recorded in the Bible and preserved for thousands of years and no one can break those records.

Rightly so! God’s challenge to mankind: Isaiah 40:25-26 “To whom will you compare me? Or who is my equal?" says the Holy One. Lift your eyes and look to the heavens: Who created all these? He who brings out the starry host one by one, and calls them each by name. Because of his great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing.”

In the Old Testament the greatness of God often referred to His strength and mighty power. To name a few such mighty acts: Exodus 15:7 “In the greatness of your majesty you threw down those who opposed you. You unleashed your burning anger; it consumed them like stubble.” Not to mention the other mighty acts like parting of the Red Sea, the killing of the mighty Egyptian army, bringing water from a rock, providing Manna from heaven for forty years, rescuing people from a fiery furnace, shutting the mouths of the lions, causing the mighty King Nebuchadnezzar to eat grass like an animal and so on.

Job 26:7-14 He spreads out the northern skies over empty space; he suspends the earth over nothing. He wraps up the waters in his clouds, yet the clouds do not burst under their weight. He covers the face of the full moon, spreading his clouds over it. The pillars of the heavens quake, aghast at his rebuke. By his power he churned up the sea; By his breath the skies became fair; his hand pierced the gliding serpent. And these are but the outer fringe of his works; how faint the whisper we hear of him! Who then can understand the thunder of his power?" All these great and mighty acts of God are just a small display of his power.

We only get a glimpse of God’s power how it would be like when God display’s all of his power at once? Who could possibly stand before such a fierce God?

Throughout the Bible we read of Kings, leaders, prominent and common people glorifying God upon seeing his mighty acts. Deuteronomy 32:1-4 After the great deliverance of God Moses proclaimed in the midst of the whole assembly of Israel: Deuteronomy 32:1 “Listen, O heavens, and I will speak; hear, O earth, the words of my mouth…I will proclaim the name of the LORD. Oh, praise the greatness of our God!”

After building a magnificent temple for God to dwell the King Solomon proclaimed God’s greatness: 1 Kings 8:22-27 “Then Solomon stood before the altar of the LORD in front of the whole assembly of Israel, spread out his hands toward heaven and said: "O LORD, God of Israel, there is no God like you in heaven above or on earth below-- The heavens, even the highest heaven, cannot contain you. How much less this temple I have built!” When we accomplish something great do we turn back and give glory to God?

After his sanity was restored this is what the mighty King Nebuchadnezzar had to say: God was great: Daniel 4:34-35 At the end of that time, I, Nebuchadnezzar, raised my eyes toward heaven, and my sanity was restored. Then I praised the Most High; I honored and glorified him who lives forever. His dominion is an eternal dominion; his kingdom endures from generation to generation. All the peoples of the earth are regarded as nothing. He does as he pleases with the powers of heaven and the peoples of the earth. No one can hold back his hand or say to him: "What have you done?"

King Nebuchadnezzar finally learned his lesson and recognized God as a mighty God. Isn’t it amazing that instead of standing in awe of such a mighty God we carry attitudes? Are we so used to getting our way that we are upset when things turn out different? One of life’s lessons on the road to maturity is that we cannot control everything in life. A very hard lesson to learn for many of us on top of that for Christians it is even harder to digest when God doesn’t answer all our prayers and doesn’t fulfill all our desires. True character growth and maturity takes place though, when we can look up to God through our tears and pain and say “Lord I don’t understand everything that is happening to me; but you are still God and it is well with my soul and I trust in you.

God is great and powerful. Recognizing God as the almighty, all powerful is redeeming. When we know who we are and who he truly is then we have nothing to boast, except to fall on our faces and give him the glory. We worship Him for who He is not for what he can do for us. Yet this great and awesome Creator of the Universe loves to hear us call Him Father or Papa. I hope today that you will answer the call of God’s heart and that you will seek to know Him. Is your God too small that you can not trust him to do greater things in and through you? Some of us have some repentance to do. The greatest that you can do for God right now is to give him your heart and try your best to lead a live that is pleasing to God.

When we finally grasp how great our Lord then we can say the following: 1 Chronicles 29:11 Yours, O LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor, for everything in heaven and earth is yours. Yours, O LORD, is the kingdom; you are exalted as head over all. Amen

Sunday, January 10, 2010


The story is told of a missionary's gift of a Bible to a native on a remote island where the Bible was unheard of. In the missionary's words: I was very gratified at the native's expression of gratitude for the gift. He just couldn't thank me enough. Consequently, I was puzzled when I next saw him a few months later and he showed me the Bible which was now battered and torn. "I thought you would take better care of the Bible I gave you," I scolded. "I assumed you really wanted it and would treasure it." To which he replied, "It is the greatest gift I have ever received. It is such a wonderful gift that I gave a page to each person on the island."

How many of you when you receive a love letter from your lover would keep it for a year before opening it? Isn’t it ironic that the world’s greatest love letter has not been cherished by all those to whom it was written? Some let years pass by without completely reading it. The Bible is a precious gift and the greatest love letter from God to his people. The natives understood how precious this gift was for them. They cherished it, read it and distributed it among themselves.

Hold the Bible in your hands; How grateful are you to hold this precious gift? Did you know how many have lost their lives while translating it into other languages? In A.D. 303, by the Emperor Diocletian’s command many Christians were put to death and sacred writings were destroyed. The persecution on Christians continued. Any attempt of translating the scripture was dealt with severely. Between 1400 and 1557A.D nearly 1000 people were burned to death for defending the Word of God. John Wycliffe was the first one to translate the Bible from Latin to English in 1380 A.D. The pope at that time was so infuriated by his teachings and translation, 44 years after Wycliffe had died he ordered the bones to be dug up crushed and scattered in the river.
William Tyndale produced the very first English language New Testament to ever come off a printing press. He was burned at the stake in 1536 for the “crime” of printing these magnificently Illustrated English New Testaments.

Charles Haddon Spurgeon exposed the Biblical illiteracy of his time, "You know more about your ledgers than your Bible; you know more about your magazines and novels than what God has written; many of you will read a novel from the beginning to the end, and what have you got? A mouthful of foam when you are done. But you cannot read the Bible; that solid, lasting, substantial, and satisfying food goes uneaten, locked up in the cupboard of neglect; while anything that a man writes, a best seller of the day, is greedily devoured.” Wow!! What a challenge? We have time to read news papers, books, magazines, and novels but do we take time to read the Bible?

Many skeptics today try to discredit the Bible stating that its message is not relevant to the 21st century. They are completely wrong. Josh McDowell was once a very hardened skeptic. As an unbeliever, he set out to disprove the Bible as being God's Word. As he examined the facts, though, the exact opposite happened! He is now one of the most respected Christian Apologists in the world! God’s word is still alive, relevant and active and changing lives. Why should you read this wonderful book? While there are several reasons, I would like to talk about three major reasons why you and I should read the Bible on a consistent basis.

The great reformer Martin Luther once said where to look for God. “God is everywhere. However, He does not want you to reach out for Him everywhere but only in the Word. Reach out for it and you will grasp Him aright. Otherwise you are tempting God and setting up idolatry. That is why He has established a certain method for us. This teaches us how and where we are to look for Him and find Him, namely, in the Word.” The Bible is God’s revelation to mankind.
The Bible reveals God’s greatness, his dealings, his redemptive plan; and the destiny of mankind.
2 Timothy 3:16 "All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness"

Amos 4:13 “He who forms the mountains, creates the wind, and reveals his thoughts to man, …the LORD God Almighty is his name.” This Almighty God made his plans known to Moses and his deeds to the children of Israel and they were recorded for our benefit.

Psalm 103:7-8 “He made known his ways to Moses, his deeds to the people of Israel: The LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love.”

The Bible not only reveals God but also shows us how we should relate to Him, to ourselves, others and to the world. I don’t know how else a born again believer can grow in the knowledge of God without ever reading the Bible? It is great to hear preachers and teachers share wonderful truths from the Bible but that is only second hand revelation. Have you discovered how exciting it is to have God directly speak to you through his word? Where else would you otherwise find about a God who is loving, merciful, compassionate and forgiving other than in the Bible?. After my conversion in 1982 I became an ardent reader of the Bible.

It is a well know fact that mother’s milk is important for the health of infants. There are many advantages in breastfeeding: A bonding develops between the mother and the child. The child will learn to trust the mother in a stress free, tender, and loving environment. Why is mother’s milk is better than formula? Because it contains natural antibodies, that provide immunity against certain bacteria and viruses commonly responsible for a newborns gastrointestinal distress. A study following children from infancy to adolescence found that the average IQ of children who were breast-fed scored higher than formula-fed children.
Another classic study determined that the longer a child is breast-fed, the greater the enhancement of his or her cognitive ability.”

Paul used the analogy of an infant to illustrate a powerful truth. He showed how feeding on mother’s milk is essential for the growth of the babies in the same way feeding on God’s word is absolutely essential for new Christians. 1 Peter 2:2 “Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation,” We may have seen how newborn babies latch on to their mother because they knew their total survival depends on it. Paul compared the word of God to “Pure spiritual Milk” The words of God is compared to many things in the Bible but most often it was compared to food that provided nurture and growth:

David said; in Psalm 119:103 “How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!”

The Prophet Jeremiah confessed: Jeremiah 15:16 “When your words came, I ate them; they were my joy and my heart's delight,”

God told the prophet Ezekiel to eat his words: Ezekiel 3:1-3 And he said to me, "Son of man, eat what is before you, eat this scroll; then go and speak to the house of Israel." 2 So I opened my mouth, and he gave me the scroll to eat. Then he said to me, "Son of man, eat this scroll I am giving you and fill your stomach with it." So I ate it, and it tasted as sweet as honey in my mouth.
This is a wonderful picture of how exactly we are to absorb and integrate the Word of God into our lives. God wants us to study the scriptures with a passion of a hungry person, hungry for wisdom, strength, encouragement and even his correction. A hungry person comes to the table expecting to be nourished and satisfied. We should also approach the bible with same expectation. When we understand just how life-giving God’s word really is, how can we fail to delve into it?


Have you ever wondered whether God has a plan for your life? A title of a book goes “If God has a plan for my life why can’t I find it? This title suggests two things, it proposes that God has a plan for individuals and it challenges them to find it out. The Bible tells us that God has a plan for our lives. God’s plan is both general as well as specific.

There are treasures to be found in the Bible that every person would do well to pay attention to as it says in Proverbs “to acquire a disciplined and prudent life, doing what is just and right”. A tremendous type of training takes place in a person’s life when he or she is simply committed to the reading, meditating and applying of the truth of God’s Word.
Hebrews 5:12-14 In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God's word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! 13 Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. 14 But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.

The general plan and purpose of God for all of mankind is revealed all through the Bible. His specific plan for individuals however differs from person to person. The prophet Isaiah knew from his childhood that he was called to be God’s servant. Isaiah 49:1-2 “Before I was born the LORD called me; from my birth he has made mention of my name. He made my mouth like a sharpened sword, in the shadow of his hand he hid me; he made me into a polished arrow and concealed me in his quiver.”

The Psalmist notes in Psalm 139:13-16 “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. This scripture tells us that when God created you he had a specific plan in his mind. He has gifted each differently.

Paul acknowledges that each of us is differently gifted. Ephesians 4:11-12 “It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers,” In 1 Corinthians 12:11 “he gives them to each one, just as he determines.”
God gives different gifts to people but the purpose is the same that is to build his Kingdom. As we grow in an intimate relationship with God by listening to His voice through the reading of His Word he will lead and guide us in the specifics of our life.

Several times God has led me to do a specific thing through his word and I am grateful to God for his direction. The more we read His Word the more we will learn to discover His good and perfect will for our lives. God speaks to us through His written word. When you are making crucial decisions in life do take time to consult God through the reading of his word, you might be surprised by the wisdom you will find in His word. When you don’t know what to do and where to go turn to the pages of the Bible you may find the direction that would be just right for you at that moment.

Young people can discover a life without regrets by simply living according to God’s word. There is wisdom in the words of David; Psalm 119: 9-11 “How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to your word. I seek you with all my heart; and not let me stray from your commands. I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.
For more than one reason I can not over emphasize how indispensable is the daily reading of the Bible for a child of God. You should read the Bible because it reveals God, it is essential for your spiritual growth and it reveals God’s plan. If reading God’s word is such valuable why not pick up a Bible reading plan today and make a resolution to read God’s word this New Year?

A few practical tips to help you in this exciting journey of reading God’s Word:
1. Start with one year Bible reading plan. Choose a plan that fits you.
2. Pick a version (New International Version) that is easy to understand.
3. Choose a time preferably morning when you are fresh and your mind is not cluttered by the things of the day.
4. Read prayerfully and expectantly for God to speak to you through His word.
5. Encourage your children to read the Bible, ask for their feedback and discuss God’s truth with them.
6. Memorize scriptures; they will help you in times of trouble and temptation.
7. Apply the truths that you are learning from God’s word in other words aligning your life with God’s word.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

DISCOVER YOUR PURPOSE: (Finding your place in Life)

In December 2001, the American Society of Plastic Surgeons issued a report suggesting that many Americans are making plastic surgery one of their New Years resolutions. New Year resolutions are a traditional part of life. Look at some of the most popular ones that people will be making this year. What is your resolution for 2010? The strange thing about these resolutions is that it takes more than a “January 1st” on the calendar to bring about a real change; it takes determination; self control and perseverance even when we don’t feel like it; then with the help of God by the end of the year we can see the desired change.

Have you ever wondered what on earth you are here for? Rick Warren the author of “The purpose driven Life” notes, “The purpose of your life is far greater than your own personal fulfillment, your peace of mind, or even your happiness. It’s far greater than your family, your career or even your wildest dreams and ambitions. If you want to know why you where placed on this planet, you must begin with God. You were born by his purpose and for his purpose.”

I believe each of us is born for God’s purpose. Jeremiah 29:11 “for I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD; plans to prosper you and not to harm you plans to give you hope and a future.” The apostle Paul discovered his purpose on the road to Damascus. I have discovered my purpose in life in 1982. A friend of mine sent me a New Year greeting which said, “May God put a Rush in your life to Know Him more this year.” I think it is a worthy resolution to make in 2010 that we would know God more this year.

We are living in an age in which we pay high price to gain Knowledge. Plato the famous Greek Philosopher once said “Knowledge is the food of the soul” Many philosophers today concede that Greek philosophy has shaped the entire Western thought since its inception. As Alfred Whitehead once noted, with some exaggeration, "Western philosophy is just a series of footnotes to Plato."[1] Greek thought is focused on the role of reason and inquiry. Isn’t that true that we place so much emphasis on “reason and inquiry”?

In ancient time’s silver was a precious commodity people would do anything to posses silver. In Proverbs 2:3-5 “and if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding, and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, then you will understand the fear of the LORD and find the knowledge of God.”

Where did this quest for knowledge begin? It goes back to the garden of Eden when eve saw the fruit this is how she reasoned, “Genesis 3:6 “When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it.” Even today Satan appeals to our curiosity to know everything. We spend millions of dollars on “research”. There is nothing wrong in education, and acquiring knowledge but the question we must ask is what kind of knowledge? Knowing in itself is not enough but knowing the right thing is life giving.

Paul was dealing with a group of Gnostics who believed; “A person attains salvation by learning secret knowledge of their spiritual essence: a divine spark of light or spirit. They then have the opportunity to escape from the prison of their bodies at death.” The Gnostics saw Christ as the revealer or a liberator rather than a Savior or Judge” While certain Greeks were saying Knowledge is the way to salvation certain Jews were emphasizing circumcision is the only way of salvation.

Paul wrote in Philippians 3: 10-11 “I want to Know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow to attain to the resurrection from the dead.” In order to Know Christ Paul was willing to give up everything. Phil 3:7-9 “Whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish that I may gain Christ and be found in him.”

Nothing in the world can even come close to the value of knowing Christ. It is far more worth than winning a million dollars in a lottery. Nothing can be compared with the thrill and joy you find when you know Christ. It is beyond all our imaginations and human understanding. Knowing Christ is eternal life. (John 17:3) Throughout the centuries many believers have tried to live out the words of Paul when they sought after Christ more than anything. Fanny Crosby one of the most famous American Hymn writers wrote more than 9000 Hymns. One of her Hymns was “Take the whole world but give me Jesus” We don’t sing these Hymns these days; they are not appealing to carnal Christians. Instead some may sing; Give me the world and take Jesus” or some others may sing “Give me the world and Jesus.”

You can not have both the world and Jesus at the same time.

For Paul and many saints who have gone before us Knowing Christ was everything. They considered everything else as rubbish when it comes to gaining Christ. What is that you need to give up in 2010 so that you may know Christ and the power of His resurrection? Knowing Christ is everything because knowing Christ is Salvation and it is eternal life.

In any church there could be three categories of people. Firstly, there are those who sincerely attend Church; show up at every church event; but have never been born again or made Christ the Lord of their life. Secondly, there are those who have accepted Christ but have become stagnated in their growth, they may go through motions but other things take precedence in their life, they are sleeping Christians. Thirdly, there are those who are steadily growing in their faith, they are Kingdom minded and truly seek to live for God and bear fruit for Him. In which category do you belong?

If you have never accepted Christ or have back slidden there is hope for you. I don’t worry about those who are steadily growing in the LORD. But I fear for those sleeping Christians. One way knowing Christ is everything but it is not then end in itself. Paul wrote to the believers in Ephesus and encouraged them to discover God’s purpose in life. Ephesians 5:14-17 "Wake up, O sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you. Be very careful, then, how you live-- not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord's will is.” This text reminds us that we are to wake up from our sleep, we are to be wise and not to be foolish and miss God’s will. We are to redeem our time. We have to discover our purpose.

I often hear New the England Christians are called “the Frozen Chosen” this is not something new; D.L Moody one of America’s great evangelist observed in his Boston campaign in 1877. I quote “Christianity has been on the defensive long enough, especially here in New England. The time has come for us to open a war of aggression. Remember during the War of the Rebellion some of the generals kept their armies on the defensive until they got frustrated. I guess a good many Christians here in New England have just got into their cushioned pews and gone to sleep.”

Unquote, nothing much has changed since then, by and large we are still in a frozen state. My prayer is that in 2010 God would send His Holy Spirit fire among us to thaw our frozen hearts so that we will rise up from our slumber and discover His purpose for our lives and for our Church.

Paul reminded the Corinthian believers of their responsibility. He did not want them to be idle and do nothing about their faith. II Corinthians 5:14-15 “For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.”

If you are a born again Christian you are not to live for yourself but for Christ who died for your sins. If Christ emptied himself; gave up everything including His very life so that you and I could live then what right do we have to hold on to things in life? If we are indeed the followers of Christ then we are called to follow in his foot steps. I know it is easier said than done. Nevertheless can we make a resolution not to seek our own selfish interests instead we seek to please Him. Paul said; “For Christ’s love compels us” The word to compel means “drivingly forceful; irresistible” In other words Paul was driven by Christ’s forceful and irresistible love. The media and the advertisements are compelling. In order to persuade customers or clients compelling ad writers keep two things in mind: 1. knowing their product 2. Knowing their audience. In business terms Paul knew his product, knew his audience and also knew how to sell his product convincingly. He was convinced without a doubt that Christ died and rose again for all people, therefore all people can be saved.

Paul also knew that if any one is in Christ he is a new creation; the old has gone the new has come. If you are a believer in Christ today you are to ask for yourself how far am I living according to the new nature Christ has given me? Or am I letting my old nature dominate and make me a slave all over again? If you are in Christ indeed you are a new creation which means you are not meant to go on living a sinful life.

Paul wanted the believers to know their purpose, one metaphor he used was “you are Christ’s ambassadors” The word ambassador means: an official envoy; the resident representative of his or her own government in a foreign country, an authorized representative or messenger. The government vests it’s authority in the ambassador. In the same way God has committed his message to us and Christ has sent us into the world with his authority.

What is his message that God has committed to us? Through Christ you and I can be reconciled back to God. We tend to have a wrong concept of ministry. We think ministry is only for those who had been to a seminary or a bible college, for pastors and evangelists. No! To every child of God he has given a ministry of reconciliation. You and I are to go out and bring people back to God. You can do that at your school; work place; at the soccer field; market place and every where.

Knowing Christ is eternal life. Do you know Christ as your personal savior today? Knowing Christ is not the end in itself. After knowing, comes making Him known. We are called to reach out to our generation with the gospel. Only by surrendering your life to Christ; you can discover your purpose in life. Have you found your purpose? If you have not yet given your life to Jesus it is never too late; you can do it today. All you need to do is to confess that you have sinned; believe that Christ has died for your sins; ask Jesus to forgive your sins and then come into your heart and to enable you to live for him for the rest of your life. May be you have been a Christian all your life; but you need some fire in your walk with God. Ask God to forgive you for being lukewarm. Rededicate your life afresh. Ask him to fill you with his Holy Spirit to keep your flame burning for Christ.

May the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you in 2010 with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Hebrews 13:20-21 Amen.