Faith Ladies International Ministries
Blessed are the pure in heart for they will see God (Matt 5:8)
Monthly Devotional - Nov- 2015
THE COST OF DISCIPLESHIP
Rachel Varghese, M.B.B.S; D.G.O
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God, not by works, so that no one can boast.
Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said: “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life-such a person cannot be my disciple.
In the first passage we get the impression that Salvation is absolutely free but from the second passage we conclude that it costs your very life. You may protest, “That’s a contradiction! How can something be both free and costly at the same time?”
Let me illustrate: Consider a friend who offers you a free ride in his airplane. He invites you to come along at his expense. In accepting his free offer, you’ve just committed your very life to him. If he flies safely, you are safe. If he crashes, you die. The instant you say yes to his free offer, you are totally committed to him. You have entrusted your very life into his hands.
Salvation is free by Grace. We don’t have to pay or do anything to be saved except truly repent for our sins. That is not costly. For everyone born in this world needs salvation from sins because the whole humanity is conceived in sin. For in Romans 3: 23 we read all have sinned and come short of the Glory of God. Romans 3:10 we read No one is righteous, not even one. This is what God says about each one of us. The only one who knew no sin and lived on the face of the earth was Jesus Christ, the son of the living God. As we read in John 3:16 God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved (Romans10:9)
That is not the case when it comes to becoming His true disciple. From the following scriptures; Luke 14:25-35, Matthew 8:18-22, Luke 9:61-62, & Philippians 3:7-11 we can understand that following Jesus is not easy. Whenever people expressed their desire that they want to follow Jesus His response was very wise and measured. He did not jump and say sure you are welcome to follow me or join me immediately except he told that to the disciples because He knew even before he called them to follow him that they will give their lives for Him and the Gospel. In each situation we notice that He was actually gauging or searching their hearts for their real intention. Therefore his responses were very intriguing and interesting. Read Matt 8:18-22. When Jesus saw the crowd around him, he gave orders to cross to the other side of the lake. Then a teacher of the law came to him and said, “Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.”Jesus replied, “Foxes have holes and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.”Another disciple said to him, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father. But Jesus told him, “Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead.” Why did he say that? Jesus Knows he said that out of impulsive emotions because when he saw all the miracles Jesus was performing he got excited and got carried away by his immediate enthusiasm and told him quickly without thinking,” Jesus I will surely come with you once I bury my father". Actually that statement tells us that his priority was not really following Jesus. His priority was all other responsibilities and once he finishes all that, then he will think of following him. And by the time he completes his responsibilities his interest may even fizzle off. Jesus knew his heart and that is why he said Follow me right away. The dead will bury the dead.
In Mathew 19; 16-21 we read about a rich man who wanted to know from Jesus what good thing he should do to inherit eternal life. Jesus said to obey the commandments. Jesus mentioned to him some of the commandments and the rich man’s answer was I am following strictly all those commandments. Then Jesus confronted him with something which he might not have expected or even did not want to hear. He said go sell your possessions, give it to the poor so that you will have riches in heaven and then come and follow me. Was he happy to hear that reponse from Jesus? NO. It was the last thing he wanted to hear. What does Bible say about the rich man after he heard Jesus’s answer? His countenance fell. He became sad and went away because he had great wealth. Whoever asked him that question of wanting to follow Him He replied very wisely to make them literally see what they were asking was not as easy as they have thought it to be. In all his responses He was indirectly asking them are you sure you fully understand what you are asking? Or do you have any idea how bumpy and tedious that road and journey is going to be. And are you willing to take that path?
Following Jesus Superficially
Large crowds did not fool Jesus. He knew that many were following Him for selfish or superficial reasons like healing, miracles or even for being fed. It was the exciting thing to do. But Jesus was not a false recruiter. He wanted to weed out those who followed Him for superficial reasons, because when they would be put to real test, He knew that they would fall away and cause damage for His very purpose of coming into this world.
According to Jesus a true disciple should be willing to pay the following costs if demanded.
1). JESUS CHRIST ABOVE THE NEAREST AND DEAREST ( Luke 14:26).
a. Denial of Family:
In this passage (Luke 14:26 ) He is asking are you prepared to forgo every mortal relationship? If you have to choose between God and your dear ones which includes sisters, brothers, father, mother, children, wife and finally yourself what are you going to choose?. On the other hand we read in Exodus 20:12 Honor your father and mother. In Ephesians 6:2 we read love your wives, and in Ephesians 6:4 we read Do not provoke your children. Jesus’ call to follow Him is recorded at least 19 times in the Gospels. In Deut 6:5, Matt 22:37, Mark 12:30, 31, & Luke 10:27, we read Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength and with all your minds. In none of these scriptures or anywhere in the Bible it is written Love your family which includes father, mother, children, wife, yourself with all your heart, soul, strength, and mind. So what it means is if this is how you should love the Lord then a time will come in your life or a time comes in your life to choose between God’s call and your family. Whom will you choose?
b. Suffering for Being a Christian:
Also it is the willingness to endure shame, embarrassment, reproach, rejection, persecution and even martyrdom for His sake. Obviously the extent of suffering and persecution varies from believer to believer, from time to time, and from place to place. Not all the apostles or disciples were martyred but all of them were willing to die for the sake of the Gospel. The one who suffered much for Christ was Apostle Paul. We read about his sufferings both physical and emotional in 2 Cor 11; 22-33. Again Apostle Peter in 1Peter 4:12-14 writes to all the elect scattered in different parts of the world (Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia)
Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice in as much as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when His glory is revealed. If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler. However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name. For it is time for judgment to begin with God’s household;
(2) WE MUST CARRY OUR OWN CROSS (Luke 14:23-26)
Then he said to them all: "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self? If anyone is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.
Here we can picture Jesus carrying his own cross and going to Golgotha. That cross is different from the daily cross that Jesus is talking about. He was carrying the sins of the whole humanity in the past, present, and future once for all on his shoulders and paid the penalty once for all. He is not going to carry that cross again. That is why salvation is free for He already paid the price for our salvation on the cross at Golgotha and we are declared free and free indeed. He will come for the second time only as King of Kings and Lord of Lords to receive all those who are washed by the blood of the Lamb.
Taking up cross daily means denial of self daily: It is not carrying a cross in your pocket or wearing a cross around your neck. This particular passage is commonly misunderstood or misinterpreted. Carrying cross is mistakenly considered as a symbol of pain and suffering. Lot of times we hear people using this metaphor I have no other choice but to carry my cross. Don’t know for how long! Some think it is some kind of physical ailment that they have to live with like cancer or any incurable ailment or living with a difficult spouse or going through some financial crisis. The real meaning is often missed. In Jesus’ time everyone knew what is meant by carrying one’s own cross literally. As they have seen hundreds of people carrying their own crosses. They also knew that a man carrying a cross had only one destiny-Death. It was always a one way trip or one way ticket. It is never a round trip. No coming back with the cross or without the cross. So here Jesus is not talking about pain or suffering but about death (not physical) but death to self. A disciple’s cross demands death to self will, death to self interest, death to self pride, death to self centeredness, and death to self seeking. Crucifying every selfish and self centered desire and making God’s will, your will. That means not doing what you want to do but what God wants you to do. In short, totally and completely surrendering yourself to His will. You have to come to that point where you can say confidently what I want does not matter anymore but what God wants matters always. We all struggle every day wrestling between obedience to God’s will and obedience to our own will. In other words Jesus is implying whoever really wants to follow Him have to put to death every plan and desire of the flesh and turn their lives over to His total will. Simply it means saying No to ourselves and Yes to Jesus.
(3) GIVING UP EVERYTHING (LUKE 14:33)
In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples. The Greek word for giving up everything is Apotasso (say farewell to or take leave or renounce)
Matt 6:19-21 “Do not accumulate for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal. But accumulate for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Peter, James, and John leave their nets and Zaccheus gives half of his fortune to the poor. On the other hand the rich ruler was not willing to give up all his riches and he went away sad. Money held the rich man from becoming a disciple. In this story Jesus is speaking to us about the state of his mind. Where his heart is! Now we know where exactly his heart was. Jesus knew it. That is why he said go and sell all your possessions. If he was really yearning for eternal life he would have instantly followed the advice of Jesus. That means the worldly possessions were more important and dear to him than eternal life. Today I ask the same question to myself and to each one of us. Where is our heart? Is it in all the possessions and riches that we have and we made or is it to follow Jesus as a true disciple? If we want to be a true disciple one day Jesus may ask us to give up on our jobs or house or car or any earthly possession we have. If we truly desire in our hearts to be His disciples on earth then we may have to give up everything we have and live a life as if we own nothing. I still remember a lady who sold everything she had and gave it to her church when she became a believer and lived the rest of her life on handouts. God is not asking you to be foolish and take decisions emotionally. He wants you to think wisely and take decisions.
He should become “Lord of all” in your life. Of course, in return we gain all the riches of heaven for all eternity. But, still we need to sit down and determine if we’re willing to follow Jesus as Lord of everything from our families, to our possessions, to our very lives.
Salvation or being born again and discipleship are two different experiences. Accepting the Lord or knowing the Lord is not discipleship. Salvation is free but discipleship is costly because there is a commitment that goes with it. Let us examine ourselves today what is holding us back from following Jesus or becoming His disciple. Is it our relationships, is it our unwillingness to self denial or is it our earthly possessions coming in the way of true discipleship. Let us have a self introspection. Let the Holy Spirit convict our hearts where we are in this journey? If we have not started the journey are we willing and ready to start this challenging journey? Is He the Lord of your plans, your thoughts, and of all that you are blessed with? If you don’t hate your own life and daily carry your cross, you cannot become His disciple. Jesus never discouraged anyone from following him. In fact in the Gospels Jesus mentioned many times to the people “Follow me”. Because He wants us not only to be saved but also become His disciples each one of us so that we can all sit at the table with Him in eternity.
Prayer: Heavenly Father I thank you for your free gift of salvation but help me to become your true disciple while I am on earth so that your name be lifted up through my discipleship. In Jesus name I pray. Amen.
Monthly Devotional - Dec 2015
FROM CONDEMNATION TO FREEDOM
Rachel Varghese, M.B.B.S; D.G.O
Scripture reference John 8:1-11
1 but Jesus went to the Mount of Olives.
2 At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. 3 The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group 4 and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. 5 In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” 6 They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.
But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. 7 When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” 8 Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.
9 At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. 10 Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”
11 “No one, sir,” she said.
“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”
This incident teaches us three important truths. Firstly, the Subtle lies of the devil, secondly the Sinful nature of mankind, and thirdly the Freedom in and through Jesus Christ.
Subtle Lies of the devil:
The teachers of Law represent the subtle wicked nature of the enemy. The very fact that they dragged a helpless woman into the crowd speaks about their arrogance, conceitedness, and self righteousness. Not bringing in the man without whom there could not have been an act of adultery exemplifies their hypocrisy and male chauvinism. The way they worded their question and demanded an answer from Jesus indicates their conniving intention of trapping him in His own words. This is how we all invariably fall into the booby trap set by the devil. The omniscient Jesus knew it was a trap and so used His wisdom and turned the tables such that they fell very badly into their own trap.
Sinful nature of mankind:
There is no one righteous, not even one (Romans 3:10). All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23) This is the sad plight of every person born into this world. If you look at sin through the eyes of Jesus there is no difference at all between adultery or anger or jealousy or envy or bitterness or pride or self righteousness or gossip. The list goes on ! That is why when Jesus was forced to give an answer to the teachers of Law He very wisely responded by saying “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” He could have easily said one who did not commit adultery throw the first stone at the adulteress because the central question was about the punishment for the sin of committing adultery. On the contrary He very wisely worded his answer, the one without sin be the first to cast a stone at the woman. Jesus’ answer reminds us that we are no better than that woman who was full of shame, guilt, and hopelessness and who knew by Mosaic Law she should be stoned to death. All of us are like this woman. We are truly guilty in the eyes of a Holy God. All have sinned, all are caught by God’s justice, and all deserve death. We are helpless and unable to change our condition. We are doomed unless someone steps in to help us. We can’t buy our way out of trouble and we can’t deny our own condition. We are condemned by our conscience, condemned by our true moral guilt, and often condemned by others. If people knew us better than they do, they would condemn us even more than they do.
Freedom in and through Jesus Christ:
After all the men who accused the woman left, Jesus straightened up and asked her “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”
“No one, sir,” she said.“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”
These are very powerful and profound statements made by Jesus which speaks volumes to all who can discern His heart through the Holy Spirit. “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” (John 3:17) “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8:1) Just when we are about to be condemned, Jesus steps in to rescue us. Some people may have grumbled that day that sin should be paid for. But it was paid for on a Roman cross outside the city walls of Jerusalem when Jesus died for the sins of the world. Jesus didn’t condemn this woman because he knew that not many days hence he would be condemned for her when he died on the cross. This is what Paul means when he says in Galatians 3:13 that Christ has become a curse for us. He took our pain, our shame, and our guilt, and the heavy load of our sins was laid fully on him. This woman was not condemned by Christ, but he was condemned on the cross for her sake.
Every forgiven person in Christ has a past and every sinner has a future. If you are a born again believer, you do indeed have a past and you would be a better believer if you remembered your past and considered the pit you were in before Jesus found you. When Jesus looked up and no one remained except Him and this woman, the well known theologian Augustine portrayed the scene pictorially and wrote “Two things were left alone, misery and mercy.” She was in her misery from her guilt and Jesus looking at her with all the compassion in His eyes extending her His mercy. Jesus wants to extend mercy and grace to take care of our misery. If you are a sinner, then by God’s grace alone you can have a hopeful future if you will come to Christ and trust him as your Lord and Savior.
This woman walked away a free woman. However, as far as the townspeople were considered she would’ve still been looked at as an adulteress. We can suffer the same fate. Whether it’s from people or Satan we may be dealing with accusations, labels, and shame of our sinful past. And because of these things we can feel anything but free. That’s when we need to cling to the label that God has put on us through Jesus. We declare our identity through who we are in Christ, not who we were in our sin. Because of what Jesus did for us we have a clean slate and a fresh start. We have been set free.
Finally I want to leave us with one question of Introspection
Who are we like? Are we like the Pharisees or do we want to be like Jesus? When we see someone do something wrong are we more like the Pharisees with legalistic, judgmental condemnation attitudes or are we like Jesus who is loving and forgiving? The Pharisees weren’t wrong in holding this woman accountable with her sin but they just had the wrong attitude in addressing it. Jesus didn’t condemn the woman but that doesn’t mean he condoned with her sin. He told her to go and leave her life of sin. We need to be like Jesus. When we know that our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ are living in sin we need to have a Jesus approach, not a pharisaical approach. “Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently.” (Gal 6:1) We need to be humble in our approach when confronting people in their sin. We need to remember that we’re not perfect. We need to acknowledge that we are guilty too when we try to speak into people’s lives. Who are we like? When we encounter the one who has sinned are we bending down to grab a stone or are we bending down to help them up? The Pharisees watched for every mistake and punished accordingly. They were not trying to help people leave their life of sin. They were solely concerned with punishing people for their sins. Do we care? Do we typically expose and highlight people’s faults or are we trying to help people have less of them? Are we encouragers or are we discouragers? The Pharisees didn’t care about helping people. Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples: "The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. So you must be careful to do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach. They tie up heavy, cumbersome loads and put them on other people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them". (Matt. 23:1-4). Another comparison to notice was the contrast where the religious leaders made a public spectacle of the woman’s sin and Jesus could have also exposed their sins but He did not. How about us? When we are aware of another’s sin do we gossip about it or do we address it privately? Jesus was humble. Jesus practiced what he preached. Jesus helped people. What about us? Who are we like?
Let the Holy Spirit, the helper, the Counselor, the spirit of truth reveal to us who we are in this story. If we are like Pharisees let the Holy Spirit guide us and teach us to be like Christ. If we are like the woman, do not be discouraged and feel hopeless because Jesus, the son of God left His portals of Glory 2000 yrs ago and came into this world as the son of man just for you and me not to condemn but to set us free from the bondage and shame of sin. If we are truly willing to repent and confess with our mouths Jesus as the Lord, and believe in our hearts that God raised Him from the dead He is more than willing to give us the final verdict “NOT GUILTY AND SET FREE”.
Monthly Devotional - January 2016
WOMAN HEALED FROM BONDAGES
Rachel Varghese, M.B.B.S, D.G.O
Scriptures: Luke 8:42-48
In this passage Luke describes a miracle performed by Jesus. And what is the Miracle? As we read a woman being healed of her sickness which was a sickness of issue of blood.
It was apostle John who wrote in John 21:25 “Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written. Every Gospel writer under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit had to pick and choose from many incidents and sayings in Jesus’ life and decide just what to include and what to exclude. Luke is no exception. If Luke decides to include a few sentences about this woman with the issue of blood we need to ask the question Why? What point is Luke trying to pass on to his readers? As we examine this passage let’s keep the question before us: What are we supposed to learn from this passage?
By the way we read about this miracle also in Mathew 9:20-22 and Mark 5:26-29. But if you read carefully all these passages you get more information of the same incident which gives you more spiritual insights from the same miracle.
Let us ponder on what Jesus is teaching us from this miracle or from this incident which is recorded in three Gospels. The miracle has to be true because it is recorded by three different people at three different time period. The gospel of Mathew it is believed to be written by Matthew, the disciple of Jesus in A.D 50-60. The Gospel of Mark was written by Mark, who was the cousin of Barnabas in A.D 64 or 65 after the death of Peter. He had significant contact with Peter, the disciple of Jesus and other leaders of Church like Paul. And the Gospel of Luke is written in AD 68 by Luke, a very learned man, a physician, probably the only gentile who wrote this book of the new testament, and a follower of Paul as we read in Col 4:14. Unless it was true and witnessed by so many people especially the disciples of Jesus I am sure this miracle would not have made it’s way into the Bible.
From these passages we learn that this woman had three kinds of bondages
The first one is the bondage of uncleanness (sin):
Let us read Leviticus 15; 19-22. As we read when a woman is in the menstrual cycle she is considered unclean and needed ritualistic purification at the end of the menstrual flow. If a man touches a menstruating woman he will be considered unclean till evening. Anything she sits on is unclean. If anyone sits on the bed on which she was lying then that person becomes unclean and the list goes on. He has to wash his clothes and take bath to become clean. Do not be surprised as these practices are prevalent even today in some countries like India and Middle East countries. For 12yrs she was living as an unclean woman rejected by all in the society which was dominated by men. She was a social outcast. In Mark 5:26 we read She spent all her money going to the best doctors at that time to get rid of this unclean situation in her life but it was in vain. Only her condition got worse. That’s exactly is the condition of every person born on this earth. We are conceived in sin. Her bondage of uncleanness in other words is the bondage of sin. Let us read Isaiah 64:6. All of us have become like one who is unclean. And all our righteous acts are like filthy rags. According to Bible commentary filthy rags refer to garments stained during menstruation.
The second bondage is the bondage of low self esteem or worthlessness:
When you read the books of the Old Testament like exodus, Leviticus, numbers and Deuteronomy in all these books you can notice one thing about the Jewish people. It is a Patriarchal society in which the women were considered inferior to men in all respects. It is said that Jewish men pray like this: I thank you God for I am not born as a gentile. I thank you God for I am not born as a woman. The mosaic law was not same for man and woman. In Deut 24:1-4 you read that the divorce law is not same for man and woman. I can attest to this discrimination of women even in this 21st century. I was in Saudi Arabia from 1986 to 1998. Every day for 12 yrs I was dealing with women with all kinds of problems, physical, emotional and Psychological problems because of their husbands not being faithful to the wives. They can get away with their unfaithfulness because it is a male dominated society. Polygamy was allowed by religion and was rampant. A man can have four wives at the same time. Women cannot drive a car. Women have no voice and they live in constant fear of rejection by their husbands. In western developed country like America also there is discrimination between men and women as far as salaries are concerned. For the same job the salary scales are different. In more than 200 yrs of American history we have yet to see a female president.
W e read from the gospel of Mathew to John that when Jesus was on earth he healed hundreds and thousands of sick people having different kinds of sickness from blindness, deafness, paralysis, epilepsy, demonic possessions, and even raised dead people. In all these healing instances we read that people boldly asked Jesus to heal them. One example we see in Math 20: 29-31. There were two blind men sitting by the road side and when they heard that Jesus was passing by they shouted Lord Son of David have mercy on us. Further we read that the crowd that followed Jesus rebuked them to be quiet but they shouted all the more louder Lord Son of David have mercy on us. They were not ashamed to ask Jesus to heal them. However the woman with the issue of blood did not have the same boldness like these men to openly ask Jesus to heal her. Why because she was ashamed of the kind of sickness she had. She did not want anyone around her to know about her sickness. She felt un-worthy and inferior. In other words she had the problem of low self esteem. She thought people will look down upon her if they come to know what kind of sickness she has. That is the reason why she quietly waited for the right moment to go from behind Jesus to touch the hem of his garment making sure that no one noticed her touching the garment. The touch was not accidental. It was intentional with a purpose. And the purpose was that she wanted to be healed. Not only her desire was to be healed but she had faith that she will be healed.
The third bondage is the bondage of physical infirmity:
This lady was in the bondage of sickness for 12 yrs. This was no normal menstrual cycle. She had continuous non stop bleeding for 12 yrs. In my medical practice as a Gynecologist I have seen and treated many women with issue of blood either because of some pathology or no pathology when we call it dysfunctional uterine bleeding. But in all these conditions usually we don’t see women with continuous bleeding. Usually it is intermittent unless it is very serious condition like cancer. Atleast I have not seen a patient with continuous bleeding for 12 yrs. If that is the case untreated she will either die of severe anemia or any related other complications. Here we read about a woman who had continuous loss of blood for 12 yrs. In Mark 5:26 (She suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors and had spent all she had, yet instead of getting better she grew worse). No one could heal her. You can imagine how serious her ailment was. She lost all hope in doctors and the remedies that they can offer to her. She reached a point of helplessness.
From the study of this passage we learn that there are three kinds of bondages that one may be living in;
The bondage of sin, the bondage of worthlessness, and the bondage of physical sickness. You may be living in all the three bondages or one or two of them. It is for you to have an introspection and come to a conclusion what kind of stronghold or bondage is controlling your life.
Dear friends, the good news is that the compassion of Christ is the answer and the remedy to all our bondages.
There are many religions in this world which depicts God as a power to be always feared and with no positive emotions. A God who is only interested in punishing you and condemning you to hell. But Bible is the only book which clearly talks about the infinite compassion of God through Jesus Christ. One of the emotions expressed repeatedly by Jesus was compassion. In both old Testament books and New Testament Gospels we read about the compassionate God, (The father) and the compassionate Son, (Jesus Christ). Psalms 86: 15, Nehamiah 9:17&19, and Matt 14:14 we read that god is compassionate, gracious, forgiving, and loving. In Matt 9:56 we read "When he saw the crowds he had compassion on them because they were harassed and helpless like sheep without a shepherd."
The compassion of Jesus can deliver you from the bondage of sin. All of us are born in sin and lived in sin and some of us are still living in sin. In Romans 3:23 we read “All have sinned and fallen short of the Glory of God. In Rom 3:10 we read “There is none righteous not even one. But in His compassion He stooped from Glory to Golgotha for our uncleanness. Motivated by His Agape Love for mankind he took flesh and blood in exchange of heaven’s throne to be crucified. He humbled himself to the brutal death of crucifiction which was reserved only for worst criminals by the Roman law. Through His death he has given us the free gift of eternal life. All that you have to do is believe in your heart that Jesus died for your sins and confess with your mouth that He is the Lord. It is very simple. If you do that, You will be delivered from your bondage of sin and will be saved. Jesus is sensitive to the needs of all people whether man or woman, child or adult, rich or poor. He broke all traditional and social barriers. He allowed the unclean woman to touch him without caring about the prescribed routine of cleansing and purification ritual.
The compassion of Jesus can deliver you from the bondage of low self esteem or rejection just as the woman with issue of blood. One can suffer from this bondage for various reasons. You may feel worthless because you are not born rich. You may feel worthless because you may not have outstanding education. One may feel worthless because you may not have great physical beauty. You may feel worthless because you think nobody loves you or your family has abandoned you. The very fact that the woman with issue of blood came from behind and touched the hem of Jesus' garment confirms that she considered herself abandoned and rejected. Though Jesus was pressed from all sides by the uncontrollable crowd and though the disciples retorted that he should not bother about finding out specifically who touched him in this unusual situation, yet Jesus persisted that he wanted to know who touched him. Do you think He did not know who touched Him. He is all knowing but he wanted the woman to know that he was concerned about her and her healing. In Matt 9:22 we read (Jesus turned and saw her) Why because he wanted her to know that he is sensitive to her need and wanted her to experience His compassion.. He knows each one of us by our name and by our need. He will not abandon you even if the whole world has abandoned and ignored you. He is sensitive to your pain. He recognizes your frustration. Even in the crowd he sees you with his compassionate eyes so intensely and so lovingly that you will literally feel there is no more crowd but just Him and you. Touch the hem of his garment in faith and you will be instantaneously freed from the bondage of low self esteem.
Only the compassion of Jesus Christ can deliver us from the bondage of physical infirmities. Through out the scriptures in the New Testament we read wherever Jesus went he healed people from all manner of sickness. Both minor and major. From simple fever to raising the dead. Whatever may be your physical bondage Jesus will deliver you. All you need is just to believe like a child. Nothing is impossible with God. Just as the woman with issue of blood reached out in Faith and touched his garment for healing you can also touch his garment in faith for healing of any kind of sickness you have. The same Jesus who healed crowds of people from all kinds of physical ailments 2000 yrs ago is ready to heal you of any kind of infirmity for we know He is the same yesterday, today and forever. The doctors may have given up on you or your family may have given up on you but Jesus has not given up on you because He paid a price for your sins and your sickness on the cross 2000 yrs ago. The same blood is available today for your cleansing and for your healing.
Lord Jesus I pray for every person reading this devotional. You know the needs and desires of their hearts. You are sensitive to those needs and those desires. I believe that you are looking into the eyes of each person with your love and compassion to free them from whatever bondage they are entangled in. I thank you in advance for your divine deliverance. In Jesus name I pray. Amen.
Monthly Devotional - Feb-2016
Fighting a good fight, Finishing the Race, and Keeping the Faith
Rachel Varghese, M.B.B.S; D.G.O
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have kept the faith.
(2 Timothy 4:7)
What Apostle Paul wrote to Timothy, his dear spiritual son in A.D. 67 is absolutely applicable even today to every person who is a follower of Jesus Christ.
Really speaking a true believer’s life boils down to these three truths. (1) Fighting a good fight (2) Finishing the race (3) keeping the faith. If we can demonstrate these three profound truths in our lives, then like Apostle Paul our Christian life is complete and we can boldly join him in saying “ Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness which the Lord, the righteous judge will award to me on that day.”
Fighting the good fight:
It means to fight first against the evil within ourselves and then the evil in the world; In my own Christian walk I feel fighting against the evil within me is much more difficult and challenging than fighting against the evil in this world. It is a daily fight within us against our sinful nature especially our constant sinful thoughts and actions. As it is written in Galatians 5: 19-21 “The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. Let us have a sincere introspection of all the evil thoughts that are tormenting us every single day and every single moment. As long as we are in flesh we will have those thoughts constantly bothering us. Even Apostle Paul, who was sold out for Christ frankly admitted in Romans 7:19-24 “For what I do is not the good I want to do. No the evil I do not want to do-this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it”. In verse 24 he expresses his helpless state by saying “What a wretched man I am”. If Apostle Paul, a Hebrew, a descendant of Abraham, a man caught up to the third heaven, and a servant of Christ candidly admits his mortal weakness where do we all stand!
Evil of this world: Look at the perils that Paul faced after he encountered Jesus on the road to Damascus. As we read in 2 Corinthians 11:23-29 Paul went through Persecution, hunger, thirst, physical battering, shipwreck, dangers, sleeplessness, and poverty. He withstood all these tribulations because he trusted in God’s strength in times of his weakness as we read in Philippians 4:13. “I can do everything through Christ who gives me strength”.Yes! we too can fight against the evil within ourselves and the evils of this world if we learn not to trust in our strength but to totally and completely trust in His strength.
Finishing the Race:
What is meant by finishing the race? It is accomplishing what God created us for and what God called us to do on this earth before he calls us home. Everyone is in the race. Paul did not say I got the first prize but he only said I finished the race. However in 1 Corinthians 9:26 he said “Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize”. Let us pause for a moment and ask ourselves for what kind of race God has set us apart. May be to serve, may be to preach, may be to evangelize, may be to show hospitality, may be to help people financially, may be to counsel and comfort others, may be to raise children in the fear and knowledge of God, and may be to intercede in prayer. Are we engaged unceasingly in what God called us to do? Can you say confidently like Paul I finished my race?
Keeping the Faith:
“Faith is the substance of what we hope for and the evidence of what not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1) How many of us can say we have the kind of faith that the ancients were commended for in Hebrews chapter 11? Because Paul had that kind of faith he was not worried about his mortal life. He knew he was going to be killed for his faith in Christ. He knew his life is going to be poured as a drink offering. In spite he said “for me to live is Christ. If not in Christ then death is my gain.” In the same chapter verse 6 we read “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him.”
None of us have forgotten the painful and tragic crash of Malaysian aircraft MH 370 which took place on March 8, 2014 with 239 people on board. I am sure no one on board was expecting that kind of tragic end to his or her life. Each individual in that flight must have had a dream and a purpose but in a fraction of a moment all their dreams were shattered and the very life was gone. From this incident it is very clear that no one is excluded from that kind of fate or any kind of unexpected catastrophe. It can hit anyone at anytime. No one is immune to death. Everyone born in this world must die whether we like it or not or whether we are ready for it or not. The important question is are we ready to meet our Lord whenever he calls us home to receive the crown of righteousness just like Paul who was so confident not only for himself but for all those who fought a good fight, finished the race, and kept the faith. May this profound reality speak to all of us especially to those who have not yet invited Jesus Christ into their lives. May be today is your day of salvation. If you make that decision, as we read in Luke 15:10 there is rejoicing in the presence of angels of God over one sinner who repents.
Conclusion: If you are a true follower of Christ aiming for the crown of righteousness then focus on how to fight a good fight, how to finish the race and how to keep your faith like the heroes commended in Hebrews chap 11 so that just like Apostle Paul you can look forward to that exciting moment when you would hear the Lord and your master say “Well done, good and faithful servant! Come and share your master's happiness" (Matthew 25:21)
Dear Lord grant us your divine strength daily to fight a good fight, finish the race set before us and keep an unwaivering faith in you untill we hear you say " Well done, good and faithful servant.
Monthly Devotional - March - 2016
Submit to one another
Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. (Ephesians 5:21)
This is a very sensitive text in the Bible which many preachers do not want to talk about and many women do not want to listen to because it raises many questions as per today’s norms. It is a controversial subject that many Christians don’t really understand or apply in their lives or just blatantly ignore probably because it has with it many commands that are extremely difficult to follow and apply in our Christian lives. Apostle Paul on the contrary by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit clearly sees a reason to instruct the saints in Ephesus on this very important attribute of submission. I truly believe that this passage is applicable to every person who calls himself or herself a child of God.
Definition of Submission:
The action or fact of accepting or yielding to a superior force or to the will or authority of another person (Oxford dictionary). The Greek word for submitting does not refer to being under the absolute control of another but to voluntarily placing oneself under the authority of another. When the word submit is used in the Bible, it refers not only to a yielding and obedient attitude of the heart, but also to an attitude of co-operation and support. Submission also comes out of respect and honor. Yet the way the world sees submission is very different from the way a Christian sees it and deals with it. Christian submission goes far beyond obedience to those in authority over us. To really understand submission, we need to explore the biblical definition of it – and its definition becomes clearer when we contrast it with the world’s view.
In the world, submission is usually viewed as a kind of weakness in a person. It is not considered as one’s strength. Therefore we try to submit as little as possible whenever and with whom ever we can. We tend to measure people’s worth by their status, wealth or their position. Their status is determined by how few are above them when compared to how many are below them– a perfect example is the corporate ladder, where the goal is to reduce those in authority above you and to increase the number under you so that you become the greatest!
Unfortunately, we understand from the scriptures that the same kind of power struggle was prevalent among the disciples of Jesus, who continually argued with one another as to who was the greatest. Let us read Mark 10:43-45 to understand what Jesus said it takes to be greatest in the kingdom of God. “But it shall not be so among you. Instead, whoever desires to be great among you let him be your servant. And whoever of you desires to become first, he shall be servant of all. For even the Son of man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.
Order and levels of Submission:
To God: (applicable to all)
We all know the highest authority is always God. Our true desire should be how we can be totally submissive or obedient to God. As we read in 1 Samuel 15:22 “The Lord does not delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the voice of the Lord. To obey is better than sacrifice. In 1 Peter 2: 23 we read how Jesus Himself submitted to His Father – He committed Himself to Him that judges righteously, to God the Father, and that’s the example we are supposed to follow.
To Authorities: (applicable to all)
1 Peter 2: 13-15 Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every authority instituted among men. When you are on earth you have to obey the rules and law of the land where ever we are placed just as Jesus said "Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's. And so when the law of the land instructs you to pay tax – you pay tax; if you are asked to follow certain traffic rules like following the specified speed limits – you follow those rules. Even though the government of a country may be evil, God is still in control. He allowed them to come to power for a specific purpose and very often that purpose is judgment of the people. The Bible says we reap whatever we have sown. whatever we may want to believe, the facts of the matter are that God ordained them to be there. So although we may not really understand why a particular government is chosen, we must accept that they are there in order to accomplish God’s purposes and we have to obey them. Romans 13:2-3. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. Give everyone what you owe him. If you owe taxes pay taxes, if revenue, then revenue, if respect, then respect, if honor, then honor.
To Husbands: (applicable to wives)
Eph 5:22. Gen 2:20, In Ephesians 5:22 we read that man is the head of the wife or in other words leader of the house. In Genesis 2 we read that God made man first and then he made woman from one of his ribs to be his helper and companion. Today we are living in a world that talks a lot about women’s liberation, rights, and freedom. We talk about equal rights for men and women. In a developed country like America there is inequality in the wages between men and women. And people, especially the current democratic government is talking about bringing down that difference. However for believers in Christ our standard is the Word of God. In the Old Testament also we see men as leaders and women as helpers. In the New Testament Paul very clearly talks about a woman’s duty towards her husband. I am sure ladies have a lot of questions when it comes to submission to husbands. It needs a separate discussion which I will share in another monthly devotional.
To parents: (applicable to children)
Eph 6:1-3 Children obey your parents in the Lord for this is right. Honor your father and mother which is the first commandment with a promise that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth. As the spoken Word of God cannot change and will not change it applies to every generation of children without any exception that they should obey and be submissive to parents in order to be blessed.
To one another: (applicable to all in Christ)
This is the most important category of submission as far as the body of Christ (the church) is concerned. In other words this is Godly submission which comes out of pure love, joy, humility, meekness, and most importantly the fear of God. Unfortunately we all struggle to be submissive to one another as believers just like the disciples of Jesus Christ had struggled. We always hear messages about humility, submission, and living in unity. So many churches are splitting only because no one wants to exercise submission. Every person in the church wants to be a leader but not a servant leader. That means everyone thinks others should submit to him. In what way are we different from the worldly people? I will say we are worse than them. At least they have an excuse. They do not know the Lord or the word of God. What about us? We know the Lord’s commandments and we know the Word. Do we have any excuse to behave the way we behave in the body of Christ? It is really very, very deplorable. Let us remember at this juncture the servant leadership of Jesus Christ when He washed the feet of His disciples. By this humble act, the king of Kings, the Lord of Lords, and the creator of the universe was demonstrating to His disciples the meaning of servant leadership. What is really hindering us from being submissive to one another in the Body of Christ? Is it pride, rebellious heart, or envious heart? It boils down to “heart issue”. If our hearts are not right with God then it becomes very difficult to submit to anybody including God. Satan revolted against God because of pride and rebellion. Even today he is rebelling against God. He is using every weapon at his hand not to submit to God.
God has a prescribed order in everything. We see that order, for example, in the Trinity, where the Son and Holy Spirit are in submission to the Father, and each has a specific role in the Father's ministry. Scripture is full of examples of the principle of such Godly hierarchy. Now the same is true of God-established unit known as the Christian home or the Christian family. There is a prescribed "order", a hierarchy, and prescribed roles to be fulfilled, if the home and marriage are to function the way God wants it to function. That order is: Christ-Man-Woman-Children; all answerable to each other in that order. If you put this relationship in ascending order it is SUBMISSION and if you put it in descending order it is LOVE. In the ascending order, Children submit to parents, Wife submits to husband, husband or man submits to God. In the descending order, God loves man, man loves woman, his wife, and woman or man together love their children.
The husband and wife relationship is a profound mystery which even Paul did not understand fully well. Though he clearly states not once that Wives should submit to husbands and husbands should love their wives but his main concentration was on Christ and the Church. He says further up in Eph 5:21 “SUBMIT TO ONE ANOTHER OUT OF REVERENCE FOR CHRIST.” Though Paul talks about submission in various contexts of relationship his ultimate goal was how as a body of Christ we submit to one another and finally submit ourselves to Christ. For this kind of submission we need again His grace and humility on our part. Whether it is submission to God, or authority, or to husband, or to one another in the body of Christ the key is humility, obedience, and total surrender. Jesus submitted himself to be slaughtered like a lamb. He sacrificed himself on the cross because of His agape love for us to set us free from the bondage of sin. Are you ready to submit yourself to God, to your authority, to your husband and to one another in the body of Christ just as Christ submitted himself to the worst kind of death on earth? If your prideful or rebellious heart is coming in the way of your submission then you need to come to the feet of Jesus and ask the lord to transform your heart to one of submission just as Christ was submissive to His Father’s will to embrace a brutal death on the cross for the sins of the whole mankind. May the Holy Spirit, a great teacher teach each one of us to be submissive to one another as believers out of reverence for Christ.
Lord Jesus teach us as the members of the body of Christ to be submissive to one another just as you were submissive to the father's will even unto the death on the cross so that we may present ourselves as a radiant church without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish but holy and blameless on the day of judgement. In Jesus name. Amen!