Jesus’ Serene Ministry

Isaiah 42: 2
He will not cry out, nor raise His voice, Nor cause His voice to be heard in the street.

The first few verses of this chapter speaks about Jesus and His character. In the above verse, we read about how His style of ministry work will be. There is no pomp, no show, no extra stuff. When we read through the Gospels, we can see the way He conducted his ministry remained true to the prophesies spoken from prophets years ago.

He never had to cry out or raise His volume. There was power in His words, in the serenity of His ministry. There were healings, miracles manifold, demons were cast out, people were freed from the bondage of their sins. Yet, Jesus never needed to advertise Himself for people to gather around Him. Wherever He went, crowds flocked together to hear from Him.

Today, we see if there is any convention or program taking place, it is advertised umpteen times on the TV or on flyers. Even then, only few people may even attend the program. Let’s learn from JESUS. He didn’t need to advertise Himself, He didn’t need His disciples to give any special intro for Him. He did the work appointed to Him from God. He didn’t care about gaining any attention to Himself. His work was to point the right way to the lost crowd.

Are we trying to seek attention for ourselves when we do the Lord’s work? Do we crave for the recognition of our peers and superiors when we have done a seemingly good job at our church? God alone deserves all glory and take heart that your reward is in heaven. If there is reward even for giving water in His name (Mathew 10: 42), you can be assured that He will not forget.

Are You Desensitized To Jesus’ Miracles?

Luke 10: 40-42
But Martha was distracted with much serving, and she approached Him and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore tell her to help me.” And Jesus answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.”

Martha and Mary are two sisters with whom almost all of us are familiar with. In the above passage we see that Jesus came to pay them a visit. Martha was much troubled with serving and looking after the household chores whereas Mary chose to quietly sit at Jesus’ feet and learn from Him. Mary’s action was highly favored in Jesus’ sight as well and He commended her for “choosing the good part“. Now, I do not believe that Mary was a lazy person. We can quite rightly assume that she too took part in her share of taking care of household matters. But, Jesus came to visit them. The difference we see is in the sisters’ reaction to His visit. While Martha went about doing what she always did, Mary dropped everything because she knew and understood the significance of having her Savior visit her home. She lost no time and scrambled to the opportunity of learning directly from Him.

When we read John 11, we are taken to another significant event with relation to the sisters – Jesus raised Lazarus, their brother, from the dead. Jesus did not arrive at the time Lazarus was sick (which was what was expected). Instead, He chose to come after Lazarus died. In v. 21, 22, we read about Martha’s reaction to His arrival.

Now Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that whatever You ask of God, God will give You.”

She proclaims of her utmost belief in Jesus to perform any miracle. However, we see a very contrasting reply in v. 39, when Jesus told them to roll the stone away from Lazarus’ tomb. Martha was the first to oppose in words that seem to convey the message that there is nothing Jesus can do now.

Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha, the sister of him who was dead, said to Him, “Lord, by this time there is a stench, for he has been dead four days.”

Her faith was not deeply founded as Mary’s was. After Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, we read in John 12:2, 3 –

There they made Him a supper; and Martha served, but Lazarus was one of those who sat at the table with Him. Then Mary took a pound of very costly oil of spikenard, anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped His feet with her hair.

A striking difference can be seen in the sisters’ expressions. Jesus had just performed one of the greatest miracles in His walk on earth. Even after being a witness to Lazarus’ resurrection, Martha continues doing what she did from before – serve and take care of household matters, whereas Mary, who understood the significance of the miracle performed found a way to express her love and gratitude to Jesus. There seems to be no indication of any effect the miracle had on Martha.

Just think of it – everyday we see, we hear, we know the amazing miracles that God performs in our lives and that of others. Yet, if only we are sensitive to His Word and have a daily relationship with Him, will it ever make a difference in our lives; or else, like Martha, we may hear, we may witness Christ’s manifold miracles and yet be so insensitive that we go about our usual activities as if nothing ever happened. Let’s learn from Mary’s example – to give thanks, to give our offering of love and gratitude to Jesus for all that He is and has done for us.

Resist the Devil

James 4:7
…Resist the devil and he will flee from you.

The above verse is one which is most familiar to most of us. Written in simple and plain language for all to understand. Almost everyday we are faced with situations where we need to make a choice. The decision we make has the corresponding consequence linked to it – either good or bad. When you are faced with making a choice between right and wrong, how strongly are you able to resist the devil. Do you show any resistance at all? Or do you easily give in?

Eve was once faced with a situation, where she had to make a choice (Genesis 3:1-6). She came face to face with the serpent. Satan, with his cunning nature, tempted Eve and compelled her to eat of the fruit which God had forbidden Adam and Eve to eat. Instead of ignoring his words, she chose to listen to them and as we know, it led to their downfall. If only she had resisted the urge to listen to his words, a very different outcome might have occurred. However, that was not the case.

In comparison we read in Matthew 4:1-11 about Jesus who was tempted by satan. However, Jesus’ reaction was totally different. In verse 10, He tells satan strongly – “Away with you, Satan!”. Jesus never bothered to entertain any of the words of satan. He knew whom He had to trust. He knew whose voice He needed to listen to.

Now, when you are faced with a similar situation, what is your reaction. When you sit to pray, your mind may begin to wander towards thoughts of your office or anything else. Do you resist that distraction or do you allow your mind to think of other things. When you make a decision to go for a church meeting, you may suddenly feel tired or lazy and a small voice may tell you to take rest at home and skip church. Do you resist that thought or do you give in? There are several more examples which can be told of.

In the main verse, we read that if you resist the devil, he will flee away from you. It doesn’t say that he will walk away from you or just run away from you but that he will flee away from you. God has given you authority over satan. It is upto you to exercise that authority. If you refuse to entertain him, but instead keep your focus on Jesus alone, there is nothing that satan can do to you. Let us be able to pray that we have the grace to make the right and correct choices and follow the example that Jesus set for us.

We Are His Temple

God is to be worshiped in His Holy Temple. David longed to build one for Him but was forbidden from doing so by God Himself (1 Chronicles 28:2, 3). His son, Solomon built His temple (1 Kings 5-8). We have beautiful structures today all over the world which we call churches where people gather together for the purpose of worship. Of course, a church is essential but time and again God has said that He cannot be contained in any man made structure but instead prefers to reside in our hearts. If, indeed, He is to reside in there, how much importance do we give to it? Do we even spend half the time and effort we take to beautify our churches for our hearts?

1 Corinthians 3:16, 17
Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him. For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are.

Here, a different kind of temple has been spoken of by Paul – ourselves, our bodies. Something that we often tend to forget. No matter how big or beautiful our physical churches may be, if our hearts are not in the right place, God can’t be kept in there. We are to offer ourselves as a temple for Him to reside in. But is it fit for the King of Kings? It says clearly in verse 17, His temple is Holy for He Himself is Holy and there is no place for filth and dirt to dwell there. And if His temple is defiled, He will destroy it because He shows no tolerance to sin.

What happened when Jesus entered the temple and saw what was going on in there.

Mathew 21: 12, 13
Then Jesus went into the temple of God and drove out all those who bought and sold in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who sold doves. And He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you have made it a ‘den of thieves.’”

He drove them out. He didn’t tell them that they could sell and do their stuff in one corner and that He would worship God in another corner. NO. He told them in plain words to get out. Why was that? If He tolerated sin, He would have tolerated them. But there is no place even for the tiniest speck of dirt in Him. God loves His children but He never tolerates or ignores the sin they do. This is because He wants us to be faithful and true to Him (sin keeps us separated from Him).

Now, let’s come back to 1 Corinthians 3:16, 17, we are the temple of God. God has to reside in our hearts. But is it fit for Him? You cannot expect to store the junk of this world and tell God to stick to a corner of your heart. No. It doesn’t happen that way. He wants to have full access to our hearts. He wants to fully partake in our lives. Make sure to throw away anything which is still sticking onto you which is not worthy to be shown in front of the Lord of Lords. After all, we are His temple and we need to set our hearts and lives in order to receive Jesus into it. God bless.

Last Chance

Levi was woken up by the loud sound of the ringing bell. He didn’t want to get up. He knew what awaited him. Yet he was forced to pry open his eyes. The stench and filth of the dingy, cold prison cell made him feel nauseous. As he brought himself to a seated position, he turned his head to look at the tiny window situated at the top of the room – the only pathway for a few sun rays to brighten his gloomy, dark cell. He rubbed his eyes with the back of his hand and slowly the events of his life began to unravel in his mind like the pages of a book. One by one he saw flashes of images, conversations, bits and pieces from here and there.

From the time Levi could remember, he had had to steal in order to live. If not, he would have to spend the day with no food and sleep with an empty stomach. Life hadn’t been fair to him. He had never known his family. He had been abandoned at a very young age. He knew no love. He knew no compassion. Bitterness had dug a massive hole in his heart and soul. He did what he knew best – steal and survive. He knew nothing else and neither did he care for anything else. He had been caught several times before but never had the punishment been this severe. He had dared to steal the jewels from the Magistrate’s home. The guards had caught him, beat him and threw him into prison.

Now all he had to look forward to was his execution. He wanted to scream. He didn’t want to die but he also knew that he had no way out. Levi had never been a believer in God. However, he had heard that a Man who called Himself the Messiah was in town – Jesus. He had seen Him on a few occasions. The Man seemed to be genuine. There was a particular serenity that surrounded Him as He moved among the crowds. There was even a time when he felt the Man had looked directly at him as though He knew him. Levi had quickly turned away and thought no more of it. As he pondered over this in his lonely dark cell, a funny thought crossed his mind. “Why not pray to God?” However, he dismissed it even before the thought could be complete. He laughed to himself. “Have I really become so pathetic?” Yet he felt an urge within him. “I am anyway going to die. What have I got to lose?” he thought.

He found himself kneeling on the hard floor of his cell. He had never prayed before and neither did he know how. But he said out the words that came to mind. “God, if you are true, please reveal yourself to me” he cried. No sooner had he prayed that the door to his prison cell opened and the guards pushed forward a man into his cell. Levi could see the man was soaked in blood. He had been mercilessly beaten and bruised. As he approached him, the man suddenly lifted his head and gasped out, “water”. Levi grabbed his tumbler and poured a few drops of what was left in it. The man fainted soon after.

It was then that it suddenly struck him. This was no ordinary man. This was the so called Messiah. He couldn’t understand why or how this had happened to Him. After all, what harm had this Man done. Levi couldn’t bear to look at His state. His flesh had been ripped apart and blood covered every visible portion of Jesus. He couldn’t understand why he felt so much compassion for a Man he didn’t even know. Somewhere along his train of thoughts, he drifted off to sleep.

The next morning, the guards again entered his cell and roughly dragged him and the Man out of there. As they pushed and hurried him along the way, he could see people spitting, accusing and hurting the Messiah. “Can’t they see this Man has gone through enough?” he thought. The guards took him to the top of the hill, placed him over a cross and bound him tightly to it. That’s when reality struck him. This was it. This was his end. He could hear the Man’s cries of agony. He could hear them nailing Him to the cross. “Why does this Man suffer so much in silence?” he wondered again and again.

As they erected him on the cross, he found himself placed aside the Messiah and one of his previous counterparts in some of his thefts – Ceselfis. Without any aggravation, Ceselfis started ranting and raving against Him. “If You are the Christ, save Yourself and us”, he said. Levi didn’t say anything for awhile but his patience run thin. He couldn’t just let him accuse the Messiah without any valid reason. As if out of nowhere he heard himself saying, “Do you not even fear God, seeing you are under the same condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we receive the due reward of our deeds; but this Man has done nothing wrong”. He then turned to Jesus and said, “Lord, remember me when you come into Your kingdom.” Inspite of the pain, He gathered enough strength to reply to him and say, “Assuredly I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.”

Levi felt peace washing over him like a flood. He hadn’t known happiness or joy his entire life but here in the last few moments of his life on earth, he experienced them for the very first time. His eyes welled up with tears of relief and comfort and they blurred his vision. He wanted to part his lips and thank Jesus. He wanted to tell Him how much he loved Him. He could do neither. The last thing he remembered was seeing Jesus face looking at him with so much love and compassion as he closed his eyes for the last time.