Sunday, September 23, 2012



In an earlier century, there lay a large boulder in the middle of the roadway. Traveler after traveler walked past the boulder, veering off the side of the road to get around it. All the while, they were shaking their head and muttering, "Can you believe that? Someone should get that big thing out of the way. What an inconvenience! "Finally, a man came along and, seeing the boulder, took a branch from a tree and pried the boulder enough to get it rolling and rolled it off to the side of the road.

Lying underneath the rock, he found a small bag with a note. The man picked up the note and read it. It read as follows: "Thank you for being a true servant of the kingdom. Many have passed this way and complained because of the state of the problem and spoken of what ought to be done. But you have taken the responsibility upon yourself to serve the kingdom instead. You are the type of citizen we need more of in this kingdom. Please accept this bag of gold that traveler after traveler have walked by simply because they didn’t care enough about the kingdom to serve."[1]

I wonder what "bags of gold" we’re missing each day, simply because we don’t bother to get involved in serving our heavenly kingdom. When I gave my life to Jesus in the 80’s I realized that I belonged to the Kingdom of God. In those days it was a major theme in the Christian world. But unfortunately in the 21st century many Christians don’t even know there is something called the Kingdom of God, let alone getting involved in Kingdom service.  For the next few weeks we will look into this all too important, yet largely over looked subject the Kingdom of God. Today we are going to learn about why a Christian should know about the Kingdom of God and how this would impact their day to day living.

When I talk about the Kingdom of God I am not talking the movie called “the Kingdom of Heaven” produced in 2005 but I am talking about the Kingdom of God found in all four gospels and in the Apostle Paul’s letters. It is a foundational concept in the Abrahamic religionsJudaismChristianity and Islam. What is the significance of the kingdom of God? Five reasons, why the Kingdom of God is significant?

Kings and Kingdoms were well known to the Old Testament people. When God called Abraham from among the heathen nations his intention was to form a Kingdom for Himself through the offspring of Abraham. Rightly, so Abraham was called, “A mighty prince” literally meaning “prince of God.”(Gen 23:6) We know the rest of the story, Abraham had two sons namely Ishmael and Isaac. Ishmael became the father of 12 princes but the covenant of God was established through Isaac. Later on Isaac became the father of Jacob out of whom came the twelve tribes of Israel. At one point Israel was one huge united Kingdom.
The greatest king who ever lived in Israel was King David. Several OT prophets predicted that one day God will establish His Kingdom on earth through the offspring of David. In 722 B.C the prophet Isaiah prophesied, Isaiah 9:6-7, “For a child has born for us the gift of a son for us! He’ll take over the running of the world. His names will be: Amazing Counselor, Strong God, Eternal Father, Prince of Wholeness. His ruling authority will grow, and there’ll be no limits to the wholeness he brings. He’ll rule from historic David throne over that promised kingdom. He’ll put that kingdom on a firm footing and keep it going, with fair dealing and right living beginning now and lasting always. (The Message).

This scripture is predicting that one day all nations, including the sovereign and the so called rouge nations, as a matter of fact, the whole earth will come under the rule of Christ. The second reason of significance is Jesus’ birth.


Hundreds of years later after Isaiah’s first prophecy we began to see its fulfillment. Do you recall the Carols we sing during Christmas season, what are they all about? They were the announcements of the angles about the birth of the Savior of the world. The angel said, “Don’t be afraid. I’m here to announce a great and joyful event that is meant for everybody, worldwide: A Savior has just been born in David’s town, a Savior who is Messiah and Master. This is what you’re to look for: a baby wrapped in a blanket and lying in a manger.” Luke (2:9-12 The Message).We know that the baby was not an ordinary baby.

The wise men from the east came to worship him. This is what they said to the King Herod, “Where can we find and pay homage to the newborn King of the Jews? We observed a star in the eastern sky that signaled his birth. We’re on pilgrimage to worship him.” (Mat 2:2). Think of the gifts they presented to the baby Jesus. They were not toys or kids cloths but of great value and significance. One of them was gold; again gold represents the royalty and the kingship of Jesus.
The little boy Jesus matured, growing up in both body and spirit; blessed by both God and people. At age 30 he was baptized by his cousin John. Immediately after that he was led by the Spirit to be tempted in the wilderness for 40 days. After victoriously overcoming Satan’s temptation at age 30 Jesus preached his first message saying, “Repent for the kingdom of heaven is near.” (Matt 4:17)

Throughout his life time on numerous occasions Jesus preached to the crowds and taught his disciples about the kingdom of God which were recorded by all four gospel writers. The phrase, “the kingdom of God or the kingdom of heaven occurs over 26 times in the gospels. Not only during his life time; even after he rose from the dead Jesus spent over a period of 40 days before he ascended to heaven teaching the principles of the kingdom of God to his disciples.(Acts 1:3) If the kingdom of God placed such high priority for Jesus don’t you think it should also be our number one priority? Why else is the kingdom of God significant?

When we talk about the kingdom of God we have a notion to anticipate a futuristic kingdom that one day will be established at the culmination of the world. Yes that will happen sooner than. we expect; but do we only have wait until such time? No! we can experience all the blessings of the kingdom of God right here while we are still alive. Matthew 6:33 tells us “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” This is one of the most misquoted scriptures in the Bible.

I heard preachers used this scripture and mislead many people. They would say if you seek God’s kingdom first God will give you whatever you want. That is not simply true. The text is simply promising food, clothing and water to those who seek God’s kingdom first. In other words your basic needs will be taken care and anything else is a bonus from God.

Elsewhere Jesus answered Peter who was concerned about what he was going to get since he had left everything to follow Christ. “Jesus replied, Yes, you have followed me. In the recreation of the world, when the Son of Man will rule gloriously, you who have followed me will also rule, starting with the twelve tribes of Israel. And not only you, but all who sacrifices home, family, fields- whatever- because of me will get it all back a hundred times over, not mention the considerable bonus of eternal life.”(Mat 19:28-29)

These scriptures tell us that seeking the kingdom of God first yields heavenly rewards as well as earthly blessings. It doesn’t mean you become super rich as many wealth and health gospel preachers suggest. I know many who are sincere kingdom seekers are poor by earthly standards but they are super rich in faith, relationships, generosity, in helping others and loving and serving the unlovable and marginalized. What does it mean to seek God’s kingdom and his righteousness first? It means keeping God’s priorities first in our lives. It means living out the kingdom principles found in scriptures to the best of our ability. It means making a commitment to live lives that are pleasing to God. It means fearing God and voiding evil.

I can share many examples of God’s blessings both spiritual and material over my three decades of seeking God’s kingdom. I have seen both abundant provision and need and lack. When it comes to providing for his children God seems to have a sense of humor. At times He can overwhelm you with unexpected ways and undeserved blessings. He can throw in your lap a free trip to the Disneyland or a vacation on Cape Cod, a free car, a free Air Ticket a overseas trip, a new house, or a job. God knows how to take good care of the citizens of his Kingdom

For me the last and perhaps the most exiting reason of significance of the kingdom of God is that it is our heavenly destination. If you are a follower of Christ, that’s where you are going to live forever.
Sadly, many people today are busy in pursuing earthly happiness thinking that here on earth they are going to live forever. The truth of the matter is that we are not permanent residence here on earth. They have no clue about the wonderful life that is yet to come.
Let me Illustrate, “The man who is about to sail for Australia or New Zealand as a settler, is naturally anxious to know something about his future home, its climate, its employments, its inhabitants, its ways, its customs. All these are subjects of deep interest to him. You are leaving the land your nativity; you are going to spend the rest of your life in a new hemisphere. It would be strange indeed if you did not desire information about new abode.
Now surely, if we hope to dwell for ever in that “better country, even a heavenly one,” we ought to seek all the knowledge we can get about it. Before we go to our eternal home we should try to become acquainted with it.” These are the words of J.C. Ryle in his book on Heaven.[2]

This explains the significance of knowing about the kingdom of God. Jesus before he was taken up to heaven said to his disciples, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you; I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.” (John 14:1-3)

Jesus is taking over two thousand years to prepare a place for you in heaven. There is place for every body, but does that mean everyone will automatically get there? No! Only those who believes in the one who said I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.(John 14:6) If you don’t know the way to your heavenly destination; you can find it today by accepting Jesus as your Lord and Savior by repenting of your sins, then by faith you too will become a citizen of the Kingdom of Heaven. Amen

Sunday, September 16, 2012


When genuine Church going Christians hear a compelling presentation on the need to evangelize the world they come under conviction and undue guilt. Is it because they don’t want to share their faith with others? Not necessarily! It is often they don’t know what to share, some though they know what to share they don’t know how to do it the right way. Have you ever struggled with how to share your faith with your friend, family member or a colleague at work? If you did, you are not alone I too have struggled before and at times I still struggle when it comes to sharing my faith with others in a culture that is far removed from any normal human interactions or connections.

For tech savvy people one ministry has introduced a cool app called “Shareyourfaithapp” which is supposed to help share your faith with your friends or colleagues who might be open. It does look like a helpful tool. There is no scarcity of resources such as TV, radio, internet, movies to spread the good news, and we spend millions of dollars on local and foreign missions yet why aren’t we seeing people getting saved in great numbers?

Have you wondered about what is the proven of sharing the Gospel?  In the midst of many methods what is the right way to do the gospel? If you ask any Church growth expert they would tell you that most effective way to preach the gospel is person to person. The statistics tell us that most people in the world came to faith in Christ because some one took time and either invited them to a church or told them about Jesus. This form of sharing the faith is called “Personal Evangelism” Life Way Research did a study and asked how many times they have personally invited an un-churched person to attend a church service or some other program at your Church this his how people have responded:
§                       48% of church attendees responded, “Zero.”
§                       33% percent of people say they’ve personally invited someone one or two times.
§                       19% say they’ve done so on three or more occasions in the last six months.[1]

Even if personal invitations are the most effective form of increasing visitors to a church nearly half of the people surveyed never invited an un-churched person. The scriptures tell us that our Lord often reached out to the individuals and they in turn went out and reached others. One such example is found in John 4:1-42. I would like to share three key principles on how to share our faith and do it the right way.


We are living in a socially disconnected world. In spite of all the sophistication and development many are living in isolation.  People are looking for someone to talk to or connect with, yet they are afraid of making those connections partly because of the fear of rejection and insecurity. In the story we see how Jesus connected with a woman who was living in isolation and rejection from the society. In Vs 4-5 we read, “Now he had to go through Samria. So he came to a town in Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of ground Jacob had given to his son Joseph.”
Why did Jesus have to go through Samaria? Technically, it was not a necessity at all, and culturally, it was not customary to do so. If you will look at a map, you will see that Samaria lies between Galilee on the north and Judea to the south. The shortest distance between points is obviously a straight line, which would mean passing through Samaria to get from Judea to Galilee. But because of the animosity between the Samaritans and Jews, scrupulous Jews chose to avoid passing through Samaria by traveling around it to the east.” Jesus chose a path that was avoided by many for convenient reasons because he wanted to teach his Jewish disciples, an important lesson that God loves all people and He doesn’t want any one of them to perish.

Jesus overcame several barriers in order to connect with the Samaritan woman. What barriers do you need to overcome so that you can connect with your neighbors, friends, collogues and family members? Unless we tell people the good news how will they ever come to know the love of Christ? Therefore, let’s make every effort to connect with people.  After connecting with people how do we proceed further with them in sharing the gospel? The natural way to build bridges is by establishing a common interest.

In the story we read, Jesus being tired of his journey comes to Jacob’s well and sat by it. It was about noon time. His disciples were out to buy food. A Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “will you give me a drink?” that one question opened up a whole range of conversation. The woman came to draw water and Jesus was thirsty he needed water to satisfy his thirst. They both found a common interest to talk about and that was water.

Similarly when you meet strangers look for a common interest and see how that will develop into a conversation. Recently I met a Cambodian translator in a court room where I went to translate for a client. We talked a bit about translation and about our professions and our beliefs. He was a Buddhist. After explaining my understanding of Buddhism and asked him certain questions pertaining to Buddhism, he sheepishly admitted that he doesn’t know much about his own religion. Then I asked him whether he had ever been to a Church; he said he went to a Catholic church; then he asked me to explain him the concept of “Trinity” that led me to talk freely about God; Jesus and the Holy Spirit. At the end of the conversation he said; “No one ever explained to me the way you have explained; it makes a lot of sense.” Now this man may not have become the follower of Christ after our conversation but he heard the clear gospel.

In the story we see how cleverly Jesus led the conversation from merely talking about physical water to living water. He made his presentation not only relevant but also appealing to the woman. He didn’t reveal who he was but let her know that he could give her the living water. The woman must have thought it was a cool thing to drink the “living water.” Not only that she must have surprised by the offer, that Jesus could actually give her the living water.” In her life she was approached by many men and they all wanted to get something from her but here this man; Jesus was different instead of getting he wanted to give her something of eternal value.

What we can learn from this conversation is that; we need to make our gospel presentation exciting and relevant to people that we are meeting with. Don’t give the whole truth all at once instead lead them step by step.
We need to let people talk, ask questions, give answers to their questions and you ask questions to slowly turn their focus from the mundane things to the things that really matter. After establishing the common interest what comes next?

In our presentation of the gospel let’s be careful on one thing that we are not too quick to convict people. Jesus never said that we must go and convict people instead he said go and preach the gospel. Our job is simply to present the truth and leave people to make up their mind whether to believe or not to believe. Conviction of a sinner is the work of God precisely is the work of the Holy Spirit. In John 16:8, “When he comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment.” So let’s do what we are called to do and let the Holy Spirit do what He only can do.

I met several Christians in their zealousness to preach the gospel they adopt unwise methods and crude approaches as a result they further alienate people from God than drawing them closer to Him. They bash people with a gospel of truth than a gospel of grace and love.

I was at a train platform with my wife going to the Hay market; all of a sudden we heard a thundering voice of a street evangelist with a card board sign hanging around his neck warning people that they would go to hell if they didn’t believe in Christ. Though I admired his courage at the same time felt a bit ashamed hearing the sarcastic comments of the fellow travelers. Latter on we saw him again in the market; same approach, shouting at every body saying, “If you don’t believe in Christ you will go to hell.” I went up to him to appreciate him for what he was doing; I got my share of bashing from him. When he heard that I was a minister he turned at me and preached a sermon on why I should not ware shorts and how those who are frivolous will go to hell.
These zealots, unwise self proclaimed evangelists do more harm than good to Christianity. They preach a message of fear and hate. No doubt they are presenting the facts but they fail to extend grace and mercy. A friend of mine tells me that; “Christianity is a good religion but gets a bad press because of the way Christians package it and promote it.” Jesus Christ was always kind, considerate, gentle and gracious with sinners but took a whip at the Pharisees and the Hypocrites. Jesus was full of grace and truth.

In the story Jesus was more gracious to the Samaritan woman than the Pharisees, scribes and the fellow town people. He never once rebuked her she was doing; as we know she was a commercial sex worker instead made her realize what she was doing was wrong by using her own words to convict her. In the end she realized that Jesus was just more than a mere man but was a prophet.  After a bit of theological discussion Jesus revealed that he was the Messiah. Upon that revelation the woman ran into town and said to the people, “Come and see a man who told me everything I ever did, Could this be the Christ. The whole town came; and urged Jesus to stay two more days. Now Jesus got an opportunity to preach to the whole Samaritan village.

At the end of the day many had believed in Jesus and said, “We know that this man really is the Savior of the world.” What powerful principles we learn in this story. First God wants us to leave our comfort zone and connect with people because they matter to him.
Secondly, the best way to lead people to believe in truth is by establishing a common interest. Thirdly, we are called to convey the facts of the gospel through love and grace and the Holy Spirit will do the job of conviction. May the Lord help all of us to be a power witnesses in His hand that we might preach a gospel of grace, love and of hope. Amen

Monday, September 10, 2012


A clergyman from New York, during a call on President Lincoln at the White House, said: "I have not come to ask any favors of you, Mr. President; I have only come to say that the loyal people of the North are sustaining you and will continue to do so. We are giving you all that we have, the lives of our sons as well as our confidence and our prayers. You must know that no boy’s father or mother ever kneels in prayer these days without asking God to give you strength and wisdom."

His eyes brimming with tears, Mr. Lincoln replied: "But for those prayers, I should have faltered and perhaps failed long ago. Tell every father and mother you know to keep on praying, and I will keep on fighting, for I know God is on our side."

As the clergyman started to leave the room, Mr. Lincoln held him by the hands and said: "I suppose I may consider this as sort of a pastoral call?" "Yes," replied the clergyman.
"Out in our country," replied Lincoln, "when a minister makes a pastoral call, it was always the custom for the folks to ask him to lead in prayer, and I should like to ask you to pray with me today. Pray that I may have the strength and the wisdom." The two men knelt side by side, and the clergyman offered the most fervent plea to Almighty God that ever fell from his lips. As they arose, the President clasped his visitor’s hand and remarked in a satisfied sort of way: "I feel better."[1]
I don’t know how many times “I felt better” in my life after getting up either from a personal or corporate prayer time! There is something powerful that happens whenever we come into the closet of prayer, and get hold of the almighty God. Let me talk about the power of prayer.

In the 21st century we are confronted with skepticism and godlessness as it was predicted in 2 Tim 3: 1-4, “There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves…treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure than lovers of God.  While skeptics deliberately deny the very existence of God some politicians deliberate on whether or not to include the words “God and Jerusalem” in their political agenda. The truth of the matter is that can we really exist by excluding God from our day to day life? That’s what Abraham Lincoln realized many years ago and he aptly sought God’s intervention in his life and in his presidency.

Where are the politicians who actively seek God to fix the enormous problems our country is facing today? Where are the moms and dads who are not only crying out to God for their own children’s salvation but that of the emerging generation? Would God only act on behalf of a few people? Or all people? God is ready to intervene in any situation and on any ones behalf as long as they acknowledge Him to be powerful and seek his favor.

What does the word prayer actually mean? Biblical writers used several verbs for prayer throughout the New Testament. One is Aiteo which means "to want something, to ask." It means the seeking by the inferior from the superior, by a beggar from a giver, by the child from the parent.
Within that context Jesus uttered these words to his disciples. “On that day you will ask in my name.... (John 16:26). In Matt 7:7-8 "Ask and it will be given to you, seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.”

An even stronger verb is “erotao”, which means to ask or beg. This word was used by the Greek visitors who told Philip, “‘Sir, we wish to see Jesus' " (John 12:21). In other words “Sir we beg you please show us Jesus.” Paul used the same word when he prayed about his own thorn in the flesh. "Three times I appealed (begged) to the Lord about this..." (2Corinthians 12:8).

Another moving verb for prayer is the Greek word “krazo” literally means "to cry" and conveys the idea of crying for help. The Apostle Paul uses this word" And by him we cry 'Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s Children.” (Romans 8:15, 16). Let this truth deeply sink into you. You are the son and the daughter of the most powerful God in the universe for whom absolutely nothing is impossible. What confidence that should give us; to come boldly into the presence of our loving heavenly Father and tell him all our desires and difficulties; struggles and challenges, fears and failures. As a popular song suggests, “give them all to Jesus. Shattered dreams wounded hearts broken toys. Give them all, give them all give them all to Jesus. And He will turn your sorrow into joy.

Let me share two biblical and one real life story where God’s children implored the father in prayer and have seen the power of God at work in their lives.
I.                   WHEN SURROUNDED BY TROUBLE PRAY TO GOD.( 2 Kings 6:8-23)
The story of Elisha and his servant Gehazi is a fascinating story. It is a war time story packed with action and excitement. King Aram was at war with Israel. All his secret plans were being revealed to the king of Israel by the Prophet Elisha which annoyed the Arameans to no end. The king sent an entire army to capture this single prophet of God. A strong army with horses and chariots came and surrounded the city where Elisha was residing at night.

The next day when the servant got up he had the shock of his life seeing this vast army. So he ran to the prophet saying “Alas! My master! What shall we do? He said, “Don’t worry about it” there are more on our side than on their side.” Elisha knew that there was greater strength in the unseen reality of the hosts of heaven than in the visible reality of the Aramean forces. Then Elisha prayed, Vs 16 “O God, open his eyes and let him see. The eyes of the young man were opened and he saw. A Wonder!

The whole mountain side was full of horses and chariots of fire surrounding Elisha.” (The Message Bible) In other words God opened the eyes of his servant to see the protecting power of the heavenly hosts gathered around Elisha. Little boys, even grown up men would get a kick out of the idea of flames pouring out of the chariots and huge horses snorting and rearing to go. They would perhaps also enjoy the way how Elisha tricked the enemy by asking God to strike them with blindness. But what is more fascinating for me here is to see the absolute trust and faith Elisha had in the incredible power of God. He expected God to do great things. He expected those great accomplishments to bring glory to the Lord almighty.

Have we perhaps forgotten the mighty power of the one we serve? Have we become timid about asking God anything out of the ordinary? Let me share a true story of a little boy who trusted God to do the impossible.  This little boy was suffering from leukemia. His parents lived in the outback of Australia and he had never seen snow. They planned a holiday with another family near one of the few mountains that ever received snow. They were all in a cabin on the mountain. They were really disappointed to arrive without any snow in sight. Just before bed time the little boy ran out with his toy dump truck and said to his mother, “I am going to leave this outside tonight as I have asked God to fill it with snow for tomorrow morning”

All the adults were filled with dismay and we were trying to think of some way to prepare him for disappointment in the morning. Probably God smiled at their lack of trust in him because the next morning our little friend ran straight to the back door and returned with his truck filled with snow. He was not surprised at all and the adults had tears in their eyes and marveled at the mighty power of God.”[2]  In Job 38: 22 we read, “God stores snow and hail in storehouses.”

Another story of a congregation earnestly rallied together in prayer for the release of their leader from a prison. This happened in the early church in the first century. The gospel was spreading like wildfire in the region of Judea.  King Herod arrested some who belonged to the Church including the main leader Peter. Peter was kept in prison until Passover. He was chained to two soldiers and there was heavy security all around the prison.

What was the congregation doing? They were praying earnestly for the release of Peter. The scriptures tell us, that night, suddenly and angel of the Lord appeared and the cell was filled with bright light. Peter’s chains fell of. The angel lead Peter out of the prison passing through the first and second guards and when they came to the iron gate leading to the city, it opened for them by itself. When this was all happening Peter thought he was perhaps watching a vision, but when the reality struck him he realized that God had sent an angel and set him free from his imprisonment.

What a powerful story? This encourages us when persecuted and put in prison for our faith we must not panic and loose hope instead pray to God who is powerful to deliver us. This reminds us to intensify our prayers for the release of the Iranian Pastor Yousef Nadarkhani; who has been in prison in Iran for the past three years for the sake of His faith. God not only sets the real prisoners free from jail but he also sets captives free, those who are bound by Satan through sin. Satan imprisons those who knowingly and unknowingly follow him. However the scriptures tell us that Christ came to set us free. If indeed the Son sets you free you are free indeed.

Here is another 21st, century story where a whole Church has earnestly prayed for their pastor’s daughter’s chains to be broken and for her home coming. This was the story of the daughter of a Pastor of a mega church in New York. John Cymbala says, “Our oldest daughter, Chrissy, had been a model child growing up. But around age sixteen she started to stray.

Chrissy not only drew away from us but from God and eventually left our home.” While all that was going on Pastor Cymballa kept preaching, leading the church but was agonizing before God for their daughter to come back home.
In one of the Tuesday prayer meetings the whole congregation rallied around the pastor and the family and earnestly began to cry to the Lord for Chrissy’s home coming. Thirty two hours later on a Thursday morning, while the pastor was shaving; his wife told him to go down Chrissy was waiting to see him. He wiped off the shaving foam and headed down the stairs. In his own words, “My heart was pounding. As I came around the corner, I saw my daughter on the kitchen floor, rocking on her hands and knees, sobbing. Cautiously I spoke her name: Chrissy? She grabbed my pant leg and began pouring out her anguish.  Daddy, Daddy I’ve sinned against God. I’ve sinned against myself. I’ve sinned against you and Mommy please forgive me…Then she said, Daddy who was praying for me on Tuesday night…she continued, “in the middle of the night, God woke me and showed me I was heading toward this abyss. There was no bottom to it- it scared me to death. I was so frightened. I realized how hard I’ve been, how wrong, how rebellious. She asked again.. Daddy who was praying for me on Tuesday Night? We know the answer! [3] The Church has prevailed in prayer.

The two biblical stories and the story of Chrissy are real stories that demonstrate the power of prayer. What trouble are you facing today? Fear not! Cry out to the Lord! He wants you to call on Him. “Call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you and you will Honor me. Psalm 50: 15.  Therefore let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. (Heb 4:16)Amen.

[1] (From a sermon by George Bannister, Praying For America, 7/1/2010)

[3] Jim Cymbala, “Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire, pages 59-66

Sunday, September 2, 2012


It is the time of year again; kids and their parents are gearing up for yet another hectic school year with mixed emotions. Parents may be relieved that summer vacation has finally ended so that they can get their kids out of their hair where as some kids may be dreading to go back to school. While some kids are eager to get on with further education and can hardly wait again to get back onto the “honor’s list,” some might carry a “who cares” kind of an attitude and yet others might be quitting in their hearts before they even began, thinking what is the point in all of this hard work; why should I study in the first place?

Does it really matter whether you study or not and get a good education? Well if you ask any sensible person they would tell you the benefits of getting a degree and the draw backs of not getting one. From my personal experience I can tell you that getting a higher education will be beneficial in the long run. Not only will you get a better paying job but also if you are a committed Christian God can place you in a place of greater influence.

Does God care about education?  What does the Bible say about learning? Does God expect excellence from his children? What examples of excellence do we find in the Bible? How about those who are not highly educated can they be still used by God? To begin with let’s look at the word “excellence.” It means the fact or state of excelling, superiority, eminence, to surpass others, to be superior in some area or other, and to do something extremely well. For example, Michelangelo the Italian Renaissance sculptor, painter, architect, who exerted an unparalleled influence on the development of Western art. He was considered the greatest living artist in his lifetime, and ever since then he has been held to be one of the greatest artists of all time.[1] His work can not be compared with any others.

But there is some one who is Par excellence! which means “beyond comparison” that is God Himself who challenges us with these words, “To whom will you compare me? Or who is my equal? says the Holy One. (Isaiah 40:25) Our God is beyond all comparison and comprehension, since we belong to Him he expects his children to aim for excellence. Let me share three biblical stories of those who aimed for excellence.

The first story is about Moses. What comes to your mind when you think of Moses? Do you see him as an old man who was reluctant to obey God’s orders and gave lame excuses saying, “I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servenat? I am slow of speech and tongue.”(Ex 4:10) But was he really dumb? No! He was anything but dumb, the scriptures tell us from his birth onwards he was an extraordinary person.

In Acts 7:22, we read, “Moses was educated in all the wisdom of the Egyptians and was powerful in speech and action.” I am sure all that education later on helped him to lead nearly half a million people from a land of slavery to a land flowing with milk and honey. How about Joseph a young Hebrew slave who excelled in his character more than his brothers, rose in ranks of responsibility both in a palace and a prison and eventually became one of the top most officials of Egypt.
Then there was King Solomon who asked for wisdom more than earthly riches. He was one of the wisest kings that ever lived in Israel. He was a scholar, biologist, zoologist, poet and a philosopher. He spoke 3,000 proverbs and wrote1005 songs. In 2 Chro 9:22-23 we read, “King Solomon was greater in riches and wisdom than all the other kings of the earth. All the kings of the earth sought audience with Solomon to hear the wisdom God had put in his heart.”

In the book of Proverbs Solomon gives sound advice on learning. Listen to his advice. “I give you sound learning, so do not forsake my teaching when I was a boy in my father’s house still tender, and an only child of my mother, he taught me and said, Lay hold of my words with all your heart; keep my commands and you will live. Get wisdom, get understanding; do not forget my words or swerve from them. Do not forsake wisdom, and she will protect you; love her, and she will watch over you. Wisdom is supreme therefore get wisdom.”(Prov 4: 2-5)

The interesting insight here is that learning flows from connectedness. God has designed for some of the most significant learning to take place in the earliest years of a child.  The time you spend playing, talking, walking, feeding or reading with your child is not wasted.  It is an opportunity to teach and build a love of learning in your child.   We have entered a new era of high definition digital world; though there are many benefits to this, as Christian parents we also have to be aware of the hidden dangers in these developments. As parents we don’t want to be so virtually engrossed that we neglect the emotional need for real life connectedness in our children.  Also we want to be wise as parents to set boundaries for the amount of screen time or texting time we allow our children to engage in. 

The third story is about four Hebrew boys who excelled beyond their contemporaries in a God forsaken country. I am talking about Daniel and three of his friends. This story is found in Daniel chapter one. The king of Babylon invaded Judah and took some of the Israelites from the royal family and the nobility, young men without any physical defect, handsome, showing aptitude for every kind of learning, well informed(educated), quick to understand, and qualified to serve in the king’s palace. They were to learn the language and literature of the Babylonians and to be trained for three years. In other words they were to go to school in Babylon.

That was not a problem for them any way because they were smart and have the aptitude to learn, but the real problem was the food, they were required to eat the meat that was not fit according to their ceremonial laws. What did they do? Did they simply comply? No! Daniel, perhaps the wisest and the oldest of the four resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine. God rewarded that resolve by granting him favor with the chief official. Upon Daniel’s request they were only given vegetables and water to drink for ten days. When the time came for the official to test them; all the four young men looked healthier and better nourished than any of the young men who ate the royal food. It is interesting to note that, “to these four young men God gave knowledge and understanding of all kinds of literature and learning. And Daniel could understand visions and dreams of all kinds.”(vs 17)

Now it was graduation time; what do you think? Did Daniel and his friends graduate after those three years of intense learning? You better believe it, they not only graduated but they did it with flying colors. When King Nebuchadnezzar talked with them, he found none equal to them; so they entered the king’s service. This is a true story of excellence and success.
There are three principles here that are applicable for all of us, especially for all those who are pursuing an education or a carrier. Firstly, like these Hebrew boys we belong to a royal family. The blood line of our King Jesus runs through our vines. The Bible says, we, are “a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God.” Don’t you ever forget to whom you belong! You don’t belong to the devil. You belong to the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords. In other words you are princes and princesses. Therefore don’t embarrass your royal heritage by stooping down to the enemy’s schemes and pressures, just like prince Harry who recently brought such disgrace to the British royal family by going all naked in Los Vegas. We are made of better stuff than that.

Secondly, don’t compromise when you are forced by circumstances and situations that pressure you to act or react contrary to what you were taught from the Bible by your parents and at Sunday school or youth group. Don’t give into peer pressure to throw away your values and don’t give up your faith. Thirdly remember that God has a purpose for you in letting you go through all the learning and training at school. He wants you to enter into His service, whatever shape or form that may take. Who knows one day you may become the next president of the USA or some other powerful person of influence. Can you imagine what godly influence those four God fearing Hebrew boys may have brought in Babylon?

It is always a good to have righteous people in places of influence and power. God would use them for His purpose. When I was in India there was a Christian police officer named Mr. Sen. He was a sincere, hardworking and a man of integrity. In 2004 he became the District General of Police for an entire state of South India. Whenever he came to our Church on Sundays two rows were kept vacant for his security guards, some of them were Hindus and Muslims. They had no other option but to sit through the entire service listening to the worship songs and the message. It is ironic the way God chooses to make his name known in the world. Therefore dear friends don’t despise education, don’t quit, and work hard at it in the end it will you will have no regrets.

Lastly, we read that Jesus grew in wisdom, and stature, and in favor with God and men. At age twelve he could take on the intellectuals of his day in a debate. Jesus had a perfectly balanced approach to life and learning. He excelled in all four dimensions of life such as spiritual, physical, and intellectual and social. What this tells us is that life is not only about education, or only about spirituality, we also need to learn in the area of right relationships and that of course starts with our families which will help us build other good relationships later on. 

Also we need to take care of our bodies, it is OK to play sports and have some fun. Listening to these highly intellectual and over achieving examples, those of us who are perhaps neither intellectual nor highly educated may wonder; saying, is there a place for me in this highly competitive world? Can God use me for his service? Of course there is a place for you in the world and God’s Kingdom. He longs to use you as much as any one else whose hearts are totally committed to Him. Think about the disciples, they were unschooled fishermen but when they followed Jesus leaving everything behind they became a power house. They shook the earth by the power of the gospel.

In Acts 17:6, “These who have turned the world upside down have come here too.” In another incident this was what the Pharisees and the teachers of the law have said of them. “Now as they observed the confidence of Peter and John and understood that they were uneducated and untrained men, they were amazed, and began to recognize them as having been with Jesus.” Acts 4:13, (New American Standard Bible)

Let me close, with these thoughts. The God we serve is a God of excellence. He is beyond comparison. His desire for his children is that we too will walk in a path of excellence. Whatever we do we must do as if we are doing it unto the Lord. He wants us to be the head not the tail. Don’t settle for the second best but aim for excellence. Whether you are a high school, or college student, or a single mom, a hardworking individual, highly educated or uneducated, single, unmarried, married or divorced, it doesn’t really matter God has a plan for your life. His plan is to prosper you and give you hope and a bright future.

Proverbs 13:20 suggests, “He who walks with the wise grows wise, but a companion of fools suffers harm.” So let’s choose our friends carefully. If you really want to become wise, then walk with Jesus daily in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge! Amen.