Studies have shown that human beings have an inherent need to
be loved and nurtured. Attachment theory suggests that children are born into
this world pre-programmed to seek out attachment. Babies who are deprived of
touch, particularly in the first 6 months grow up to be psychologically
damaged. Long term deprivation of love, attention and care can consequently
lead to delinquency, reduced intelligence, increased aggression, depression or
affectionless psychopathy. Without love, something inside us breaks.
The very nature of God is love. The bible does not shy away from reminding us of God’s
everlasting, steadfast, quieting, poignant love.
Jeremiah 31:3 says “I have loved you, my
people, with an everlasting love. With unfailing love, I have drawn you to
myself.” 1 John 3:1 “See
what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called
children of God!” Romans 5:8 “but God shows His love for us in that while we were still
sinners, Christ died for us”
Popular content and culture subliminally
trains people to chase love, to feel devastated by rejection, to feel happy and
fulfilled only by gaining attention. Generations live in pursuit of likes and
emoticons. But the power of loving first, of enduring for another, of building
true bonds is forgotten. But the bible strongly calls us not just to receive
love but also, to love one another.
Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. 1 John 4:7-8 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 1 John 4:9-11 “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.”1 Peter 4:8. “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.” John 15:12.
Interestingly, psychology also supports this.
As much as we are born in inherent need for love and nurture, we also have a
need to bestow love and care on others. Research shows
that expressing love or benevolence for others benefits not just the recipient
of affection, but also the person who conveys it. Loving others, acts of
generosity & kindness, showing empathy & compassion are all equally
important in experiencing happiness, as is being the object of love. Psychology
basically says, if you want to be happy, first you need to be loved and second
you need to love others.
The love of God is demonstrated on the
cross for all to know. No matter what your experience with love has been in
this world, there is a God who sees you, loves you and seeks you. He intends to
bless you and prosper you. But the word of God doesn’t stop there. The bible
then calls us forth as vessels that carry this divine, unblemished, sacrificial
love to pour out into this world. More and more people suffer from depression,
anxiety and other mental disorders. Many around us are in unimaginable, hidden pain.
The need of the hour are people who are willing to pay attention, to pay the
price and to offer love which is the antidote to the poison of the enemy that
has infected mankind.
Then, let us love as we have been loved. Let us treat our
fellow believers, our neighbours, our partners, our minsters with compassion
and understanding. Let us treat ourselves as precious to God, created for the
purposes of God. Let us love enough to
yield to one another, to carry one another and to bear one another.
Love is the gift and the commandment. Let our hearts be full of love and not offense or selfishness. We cannot put on the likeness of Christ unless we put away the childishness. Let us do all things in love as we grow in the image of Christ. No matter what we face, no matter what circumstance or trial, no matter the current political climate, the bible assures us that we can fulfill every need in us through Christ. In all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us- Romans 8:37.
Goliath of Gath had been terrifying King Saul’s army for forty days. Yes, Goliath was a giant. He was loud-mouthed and threatening, equipped with note-worthy armor, shield and sword. He looked formidable, he sounded formidable. Saul and his army believed their eyes and the enemy and cowered before him. But this kind of cowardice did not happen overnight. We see the root of this around 25 years ago, as recorded in 1 Samuel 13.
When the men of Israel saw that they were in trouble the people hid themselves in caves and in holes and in rocks and in tombs and in cisterns.-1 Samuel 13:6
Now there was no blacksmith to be found throughout all the land of Israel, for the Philistines said, “Lest the Hebrews make themselves swords or spears.-1 Samuel 13:19
So on the day of the battle there was neither sword nor spear found in the hand of any of the people with Saul and Jonathan, but Saul and Jonathan his son had them.-1 Samuel 13:22
King Saul was anointed to be the leader of Israel. He was anointed to be used by God to give victory to Israel. Yet, under his rule, the people became scattered, defenselessly hiding in caves, stripped of weapons and convinced of defeat.
Saul was led by fear. He was afraid of the people scattering
leading him to offer an unlawful sacrifice to God (1 Samuel 13:12). He saw
himself as small, operated from insecurity and accumulated that which God
commanded to destroy (1 Samuel 15:17). Instead of rallying the people to move
in faith in God, he stood with them, silenced against the challenge. He gave excuses
instead of truly repenting and he led the people into unbelief.
The nation of Israel stood facing old enemies quaking with fear. Until
Young David shows up as an errand boy/shepherd boy/ musician. When David saw
the enemy smearing the name of God, David adjusted his resume before King Saul and
“Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; and this
uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, since he has taunted the
armies of the living God.”
David had the same or worse limitations as everyone else in the country. A long history of war against powerful enemies, lack of armor, weapons, and fitting leadership. He was easily discounted by his own family and he was altogether nonthreatening to Goliath with his stick and his sling. But He had trained with God. He had felt God move through him when he killed the lion and the bear. He didn’t fight from a place of self-reliance. He didn’t trust in his physical prowess or his great skill or Saul’s armor but as he ran towards the giant. He was singularly propelled by his conviction. And before him, Goliath fell, slain by his own sword.
The enemy had planned well and stripped away the weapons from Israel, terrorized them and oppressed them. But when an anointed man of God stepped into the battle field with a clear conviction, the enemy’s weapon was turned against his own head.
Saul continued on his downward spiral being
consumed by madness and envious rage against the anointed, prosperous, faithful
David. When David fled from Saul weapon-less, afraid and hungry, true to form,
he ran to the house of God. There he met the priest Abhimelech who gave him the
holy bread and armed him with a familiar sword.
The priest said, “The sword of
Goliath the Philistine, whom you struck down in the Valley of Elah,
behold, it is here wrapped in a cloth behind the ephod. If you will take that,
take it, for there is none but that here.” And David said, “There is none like
that; give it to me.” 1 SAMUEL 21:9
Dearly beloved, the weapons of the enemy may seem advanced.
The tricks and strategies may seem insufferable. The challenges we face may
appear insurmountable. But we can overcome the oppressor as we are anointed and
convicted by the Holy Spirit. God has a PLAN. God is in CHARGE. God only wants
People around us may fail, may step back and fall off track.
People may reject us or attack us. But if we rise like David, God will turn the
enemy’s advantage against him. When we are overwhelmed, if we respond like
David, God will remind us of the lions, the bears and the sword of giants that
we slayed by the power of God and we will build the Kingdom just like David.
Centuries have passed but the city of David
stands. The throne of David lasts. That’s the power of God upon an anointed man
whose convictions are focused on God.
Transformation is an integral thread in the whole Bible. Abram, the childless idol worshiper, was transformed to Abraham, the father to many nations. Jacob, the deceiver, was transformed to Israel, the one who rules with God. The persecutor, Saul, was turned to Apostle Paul, the missionary. A volatile Simon became Peter, the rock. The name Peter comes from root word ‘Petros’ which means ‘rock/stone’. The term, petrified wood, also comes from the root word ‘Petros’.
Petrified wood literally means wood turned to stone. In nature, there is an amazing process by which wood becomes stone. The wood gets buried under a layer of volcanic ash or sediment in a way that it escapes the natural process of aerobic decay. Over thousands of years, ground water flows through the buried wood. The minerals that the water carries starts replacing the organic matter of the wood. Little by little silicates, iron oxides, manganese oxides are deposited into the buried wood till cells of the wood gets replaced with minerals that the water brings it. Cell by cell, year by year, drop by drop the water turns the wood to stone.
This process can be used to illustrate our own process of
transformation. When we are buried with Christ under the Grace of God, we, who
were meant for quick decay and rotting under the law, gets preserved for the
process of transformation. As long as we lay buried and sealed under grace, the
decay of sin under law will not set in. Then works the waters of the Holy
Spirit, bringing to us the imperishable fruit and gifts of God. Transforming us
daily, reaffirming us in our weakest parts with precious minerals, colouring us
and drawing us in the image of God. The more we are open to the living water,
the more we receive. The Sovereign Lord wills to transform us, yet He limits
Himself from enforcing His will. He waits for us to be still under His blanket
of grace and awaits our hearts to open up to allow His life to flow through us
depositing in our mortal bodies, His eternal glory. How do we open ourselves up
2 Corinthians 3:16,
18 says “whenever a person turns to the Lord, the cover is taken away. But
we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the
Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just
as from the Lord, the Spirit.
We are required to position our hearts to God and behold Him in Faith. Through this submission to the guidance of the Holy Spirit, we are transformed from glory to glory. From Saul to Paul, Abram to Abraham, Simon BarJonah to Simon Peter. The stone is a symbol in the Bible for firm and strong. It also represents truth. The hasty, volatile, shaky, drowning and inconsistent Simon, the disciple of Christ, became Apostle Peter, the martyr for the Gospel, laying himself as a firm and steady stone of truth of the revelation of Jesus as ‘Christ the Son of the living God’. (Mathew 16:16)
1 Peter 2:4 says ‘As you come to
Him(Christ), a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and
precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up’.
Each of us experience the transforming power of God when we
receive Christ in to our hearts. Let us continue to allow the living waters to
flow through us, filling us with His life and glory as we grow to be fully
mature children in the image of their Father.
In the Bible, Jerusalem had Bethesda where many invalids, the blind, lame, and paralyzed, laid waiting for a miracle. Among them was a man who had been an invalid for thirty-eight years.
The man lay on a portico by the healing pool unable to move forward, unable to access the miracle, being denied an escape from his miserable life for almost 4 decades. Then he has a conversation with His maker and his life changes forever.
John 5:6-9 says – When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had already been there a long time, He said to him, “Do you want to be healed?” 7 The sick man answered him, “Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, and while I am going another steps down before me.”
8 Jesus said to him, “Get up, take up your bed, and walk.”
9 And at once the man was healed, and he took up his bed and walked.
The Gospel of John records this important conversation for those of us who are stuck in bed, literally or metaphorically who are waiting for the miracle. The pain of wasting away, time washing over you, having no one to help is a miserable reality for multitudes.
Some of us waste away in front of our gadgets. Some are stuck in the past and its mistakes, the losses and failures of the days gone by. Some have the misfortune of inherited traits that keep them on the ground, sharing in the misery passed on from generation to generation. Families of broken wings, dreams and tragedies.
Many among us are living in a crippled economy, rejection letters piling up in our inboxes, unemployed, disillusioned, in debt, and suffocated. Always left watching someone stronger, smarter, faster or abler walk away with the opportunity that could have changed our lives.
A lot of us are like that invalid man, awaiting our chance to improve our life, to be set free from the insufferable place of immobility. A lot of us are in desperate need of a conversation with the only one who can save us.
“Do you want to be healed?”
Imagine if Christ stood before you asking you this very same question. Do you want to be set free from your state of immobility? Do you want things to change? Examine your heart, face the years of disappointments and allow the Holy Spirit to reignite a desire to leap forth from whatever has been holding you back.
“Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, and while I am going another steps down before me.”
It HURTS to be so abjectly alone with no one to lend you support or wisdom or understanding. This man couldn’t find a single person who would help him for four decades. Nothing stopped Christ from saving him. No matter how great a betrayal/tragedy/rejection/ abuse you may have faced Christ can save you.
“Get up, take up your bed, and walk.”
The conversation with Jesus ends with instruction and immediate obedience.
“In a dream, a vision of the night, When sound sleep falls on men,
While they slumber in their beds, Then He opens the ears of men,
And seals their instruction.” -Job 33:15,16
Jesus left the splendour of heaven to freely give us the Kingdom of God. He is speaking to each of us, within our hearts, His spirit is convicting us, instructing and empowering us today to walk in His salvation. It doesn’t matter how deeply stuck or abandoned you are at this moment, for the miracle is no longer out of reach. Will you be as brave and ready as the invalid man to have this conversation with God today? If yes, the miracle worker stands at your bedside today with instructions for you to get up and walk in His way- The way of new life.
At Caesarea there was a man named Cornelius, a centurion
in what was known as the Italian Regiment. He and all his family
were devout and God-fearing; he gave generously to those in need and
prayed to God regularly. One day at about three in
the afternoon he had a vision. He distinctly saw an angel of God, who
came to him and said, “Cornelius!”- Acts 10:1-3
At a recent Christian conference, I met a missionary, who has been working with the refugees from the conflict areas of the Middle-East. He shared accounts of many refugees from other faiths, approaching him with accounts of visions and dreams of Jesus Christ and asking him to tell them more about Jesus. One day, such a young man approached him and asked about Jesus and the shaken missionary shared the Gospel with him. The next day, the young man brought 25 other young men to him and they all heard the gospel again and they asked him to pray for them. This is not an isolated incident. Hundreds are getting baptized there daily. The light of God is almost always most visible to those who are suffering in abject darkness.
Cornelius prayed. From the biblical account we
know that He and his family were devout and God fearing. Yet he hadn’t heard
about Christ. An angel visited him not to convert him but to direct him to
“The angel answered, “…Now send men to Joppa to bring
back a man named Simon who is called Peter. 6 He
is staying with Simon the tanner, whose house is by the sea.”- Acts 10:6
God gave Cornelius a supernatural encounter but
gave the assignment of sharing the gospel to Apostle Peter. One man’s encounter
lead to the transformation of all Gentiles. The bible tells us that Cornelius was
expecting Peter and had called together his relatives and close friends. When Peter went inside Cornelius’s home, he found a large gathering
Not only was Cornelius a man of prayer, but his family also
sought God with him. When Cornelius received a response from God, he didn’t
hesitate. He stepped out and obeyed. Even before becoming a Christian he became
a missionary by gathering his folks at his home to hear from Apostle Peter.
For the gentiles, the receiving of the gospel began with one
man seeking and praying with his family for God. It began with one man willing
to open his heart, his family and his home to be blessed by the Gospel of
Christ and then readily share that blessing with his friends and relatives.
This very event is going on right now in the Middle East. If it can happen in a
war zone, it can happen anywhere. Even in your own city.
This blog is just a reminder to us that God hasn’t changed.
He is still reaching out to the lost sheep. He is very busy connecting sheep to
shepherds. People are searching for God amidst the shattered remains of their
abusive homes, broken economies, unravelling social morality and war torn
nations. Are the shepherds ready? Are you ready to live lives
worthy of the calling that Peter received one afternoon at the tanner’s house?
It’s not about us anymore it’s about millions of
people whose cries and petitions are before the Lord. Let us send our prayers
before God, share in His burden for the people, answer when He calls and not
allow convenience to prevent obedience.