Ordinary to Extra-ordinary

Jesus was by the sea. To minister to the people He got into a boat and moved into the waters. He sat on the boat and addressed the people who stood on the beach.

With a little effort Jesus could convert the ordinary setting of the sea side into a grand theater for His ministry.

We live in a time when it has become the norm to have so many complex, pre-conditions, pre-requisites, and preparations fulfilled before doing the ministry. Often the ministry part is ‘in waiting’ before the conditions are met. And then there is the investment needed both in terms of labor and money to meet all the criteria.

This is not to say that organized events do not have a place in God’s work. They are needed and we need to strive for excellence. At the same time, ministry need not wait for any other factor. In the same spirit of excellence, with the help of God’s wisdom and a slight rearrangement or positioning of oneself a great event can be held. Whether one person is blessed or too many, when we create a moment for God to move, it is a blessed privilege indeed.

And there is no doubt, for every step of faith from us, God will move and the people will be blessed.

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Understanding Life – Old and New

“In days to come, Jacob shall take root,

Israel shall blossom and put forth shoots

And fill the whole earth with fruit.” – Isaiah 27:6

 

The life of Jacob the patriarch may be taken as a type for understanding the purpose of God for the people of Israel as a nation. Furthermore, it may also be understood as a shadow of Christian life.

The ‘Old Man’ typified by the name Jacob – it says – ‘shall take root.’ It speaks of the necessity of dying. So also the ‘Old Man’ or the ‘Old Nature’ in each of us needs to die and be buried.

In this world we see that human nature tries to preserve itself. We are fine with trying to modify, rectify, or improve the ‘Old Man.’ We simply do not want to let it go. But life in Christ Jesus calls for letting the ‘Old Man’ die in Jesus Christ and be buried in Jesus Christ – as an experience of faith.

In God’s way of doing things, when the old person dies, we are not destroyed but we are made alive in newness of life. So, it is said – Israel, the new man, ‘shall blossom and put forth shoots.’ We are made ‘New Creation,’ in Christ Jesus.

In the incident at Jabbok, Jacob wrestled with God who had manifested Himself. He came out limping, a loser in terms of physical prowess. He became restricted in his physical capacities. But then he also came out a winner in the spirit. He came out with a new name, as a new person, Israel.

And then the purpose of this process is nothing else, but to bear fruit. It is written – ‘and fill the whole world with fruit.’ So also, Christian life is all about becoming a New Creation and bearing fruits for the glory of God.

Passionate Faith

Abiding faithfully in Jesus Christ is a call for being proactive. The challenge to be faithful is seen mostly in relation to the one true God, and walking in His ways. It seems, there is some factor or law in us that tends to remove us from faithful fellowship with God. Putting it in simple terms – going bad and staying bad is relatively easy; and, consistency is hardly an issue. On the other hand, staying true to the one true God can never be taken for granted by us human beings.

If we don’t do anything to nurture our faith that which remains in us is in serious danger of being lost.

Joshua, as a leader with vast experience, knew it very well that the basic drive at work in all human beings, even the people of faith, was to turn them away from God. He understood that in this logic is not at work. That the people may actually end up doing illogical, stupid things.

It is with this very passionate burden that he says to the people of faith – “choose whom you will serve, as for me and my household we will serve Yahweh God.”

If we are not eager, conscious, and proactive in matters of our faith then there is a great possibility that we may end up wrong.

When We React Wrong

Usually we are very careful with our behavior. We do our best to be good and nice. But then, there are those awkward moments when the worst from within us, no longer hidden and contained inside, just comes out. Most of the time it happens in relation to those who are most close and dear to us – those who actually matter the most to us.

Firstly, it is the result of being caught off-guard. When our programmed behavior is surprised by some action and so we react wrongly. And mostly, it is the response from the base (animal)-instinct. It is the realm of fear, insecurity, inner-wounds, etc.

Secondly, it can also be the reaction to things that we do not like. It is like a personal code that we try to live by in order to cope and survive in this world. That when something that we do not like happens to us, we make sure that everyone around knows our dislike and the resulting frustration.

In the first reason that we saw, since it is based on our being caught off-guard we may have it in us to apologize. The second reason, on the other hand, being a law that we have formed for ourselves to live by,  we may end up justifying ourselves even for all the wrong reactions from our part.

The error in all this is more in our attempting to blame the external factors for the way we behaved. Rather, we should be able to acknowledge that what came out did come out from within us. The problem is inside us!

However, the good news is that – God sees all that and yet He loves us so much. Jesus Christ accepts us as we are and He transforms us by His love.

The much needed transformation may or may not be quickly received. Nevertheless, when we become the vessels that contain the love of God, our life will become a different story altogether. So let us take time every now and then to receive the love of God within us. Let us allow God to love us – that we should take time to cherish God’s love for us and then we are also nourished and cured by His eternal love.

May God continue to work in us, transforming us by His unconditional love, and conforming us into His own likeness and image.