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shibu
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 Word For The Week - by Zac Poonen

March 2005
[b]2. The example of Apostle Paul[/b]

We have a very great responsibility to demonstrate to the next generation what Christlikeness really means. People who look at us – the way we live, preach and serve - should be able to see in us what it means to be a true servant of the Lord, in the style of the apostles and prophets of old, and not in the style of 20th-century film-star-like evangelists.

Whether we realise it or not, we’re leaving behind us an image, wherever we go – an image that’s going to remain in people’s minds long after we’ve gone away and long after they have forgotten the messages that we preached to them.

When Paul called the elders of the church in Ephesus to bid farewell to them, notice what he told them in Acts 20:17-35. He reminded them that he had been with them for three years (verse 31) and that he had preached to them night and day. Three years is more than 1000 days. And so if Paul actually preached twice every day, as it seems to imply here, he must have preached over 2000 sermons there.

Ephesus was the place where they had once had a great revival and where Christians had burnt their old books of magic and witchcraft costing nearly half a million rupees. It was also the place where handkerchiefs that had touched Paul’s body were used to heal the sick and deliver the demon-possessed. God did some amazing miracles through Paul in Ephesus on a scale that hadn’t been seen anywhere else (See Acts 19:11,12,19).

At the end of all this, what does Paul remind the elders of? Does he remind them of his sermons or the miracles? No. He tells them to remember the humble way he had lived among them, from the first day they had seen him (v.19). Even if they forgot his sermons, they could never forget how he lived among them. His life had made a permanent impact on them. They could never forget his compassion and his simplicity. They’d remember that he had worked hard with his own hands as a tentmaker to support himself and his coworkers – so that he would not be a burden to them and also to be an example to other Christian workers (v.34,35). They would never forget that during all those three years, Paul never desired money, or gifts, or even a new set of clothes, from any of them (verse 33)!

Paul also reminded them how he had proclaimed the WHOLE counsel of God to them uncompromisingly (Acts 20:27). He hadn’t been a man-pleaser, seeking popularity for himself. He had preached repentance and every other unpopular subject, if it was profitable for his hearers, even if some got offended thereby (Acts 20:20, 21).


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Shibu Clement

 2005/11/8 5:33Profile
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 Word For The Week - by Zac Poonen

March 2005
[b]3. Faithfulness at home and at work[/b]

Jesus is our Example in all things. The Father had arranged for Jesus to spend the first thirty years of His earthly life in two places basically - His home and His place of work (the carpentry shop). It was Jesus' faithfulness in these two places that brought forth the approval of the Father. This is a matter of great encouragement for us, for we all find ourselves in these two places constantly - our home and our place of work. And it is in these two places basically that God tests us.

Jesus's home was a poor home. Joseph and Mary were so poor that they could not even afford to offer a lamb as a burnt offering. The Law had commanded that "if she cannot afford a lamb, then she shall take two turtledoves or two young pigeons......"(Lev.12:8). And Joseph and Mary took "according to what was said in the Law of the Lord, 'a pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons'." (Lk.2:24). Jesus had at least four brothers and two sisters, younger to Him living in the same house. Mark 6:3 tells us that the people of his home-town remarked concerning Jesus, "Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, and brother of James and Joses, and Judas, and Simon? Are not His sisters here with us?" One can imagine the pressures and struggles that Jesus faced as He grew up in that poor home. To top it all, his younger brothers were unbelievers. It is written that, "not even His brothers were believing in Him." (Jn. 7:5). They must have taunted Him in many ways. He had no private room in his house to retreat to, when facing the pressure of temptation from others in the house. There must have been the fighting and the squabbling and the scolding and the selfishness (common to all homes) in that home too. And amid such circumstances, Jesus was tempted in all points as we are; and He never sinned even once in deed, word, thought, attitude or motive or in any other way.

If Jesus had come in some different form than us, in some flesh that was incapable of being tempted, then there would have been no virtue in his living in purity in such circumstances. But He was made like us in all things. The Word of God says, "He HAD TO BE MADE like His brethren in all things, that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God" (Heb.2:17). He has undergone the pressure of every temptation that we can ever face. This is what gives us great encouragement in the moments when we are tempted, that we too can overcome. This is the hope that Satan seeks to rob us of, by trying to hide from us this glorious truth that Christ came in our flesh and was tempted exactly as we are.

As a carpenter in Nazareth, Jesus must have faced the temptations that all who engage in any form of business face. But He would never deceive anyone to whom He sold anything. He would never demand too much for any article and He would never compromise on any point of righteousness, whatever the cost (or loss) to Him may have been. He was not in competition with the other carpenters in Nazareth. He only worked to earn His living. Thus, through buying and selling and the handling of money (as a carpenter), Jesus faced all the temptations that we face in the area of money. And He overcame.

Jesus lived in submission to imperfect foster-parents for so many years. This must have exposed Him to various forms of inward temptations (in the realm of attitudes); and yet He never sinned. Joseph and Mary were still under the old covenant, and so they certainly did not have victory over sin. They must have raised their voices and argued with each other, just like all married couples who don't have victory do. Jesus, on the other hand, was living in perfect victory. Yet He never despised them. If He had, He would have sinned. He respected them, even though He was far purer than them. There we see the beauty of His humility.

Thus we see, that far from living an uneventful life during those thirty years in Nazareth, Jesus was in the midst of a conflict against temptation all the time - a conflict that increased in intensity as each year went by - for the Father had to take the Captain of our salvation through the entire range of temptations possible to human beings, before He could become our Saviour and our High Priest. God's Word says, "It was fitting for Him, for whom are all things, and through whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to perfect the author of their salvation through sufferings."(Heb. 2:10). There were still a few temptations (such as the ones that come through nation-wide fame etc.,) that Jesus would face in the last three and a half years of His earthly life. But the common temptations that we all face at home and in our place of work, He had encountered and overcome in the first thirty years. And the Father gave Jesus His certificate of approval at His baptism. I f only our eyes were opened to see the basis on which God gives us His approval, it would revolutionize our lives totally. No longer would any of us covet a worldwide ministry but rather faithfulness in the moments of temptation in daily life. We would stop admiring physical miracles and start admiring transformed lives. Thus our minds would be renewed to have our priorities right. What a tremendous encouragement this is, to know that God's greatest rewards and His highest commendations are reserved for those who face temptation with the same attitude that Jesus faced it - that is: "I would rather die than commit a sin or disobey My Father at even one point." This is the meaning of the exhortation in Philippians 2:5-8, which says, "Have this attitude in you which was in Christ Jesus...Who became obedient even to the point of death." Thus all of us have the same opportunity to be overcomers and to be among the called, chosen and faithful, irrespective of our gift or our minis try, and irrespective of our sex or our age.


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 Word For The Week - by Zac Poonen

March 2005
[b]4. Example of Jesus in His speech[/b]

Jesus used His tongue to encourage and admonish others, thereby making His tongue an instrument of life in God's Hand. He used His tongue to speak soothing words to the weary (Isa. 50:4), and also as a sword to cut down the proud and the haughty (Isa. 49:2).

How greatly encouraged the Roman centurion and the Syrophenician woman must have felt when they heard Jesus praise them for their faith, publicly (Mt. 8:10; 15:28). The sinful woman who was praised for her love (Lk. 7:47) and Mary of Bethany who was praised for her sacrificial offering (Mk. 14:6) would never have forgotten the words of Jesus.

How strengthened Peter must have been through Jesus' assurance that He would pray for him (Lk. 22:32). Just a few words, but what strength and encouragement they conveyed.

Many others must have heard words from Jesus' lips that lifted their weary spirits, for it says in Isaiah 50:4 that Jesus listened daily to His Father's voice so that He might have an appropriate word for the weary souls that came across His path each day.

The righteousness of Jesus was not one that gave Him a gloomy appearance. No. He was anointed with the oil of gladness (Heb. 1:9). He had such overflowing joy on the eve of His crucifixion, that He could say to His apostles, ".....that my joy may be in you" (Jn. 15:11). He went everywhere spreading that joy to joyless, dreary souls.

He was gentle with all men, never breaking a battered reed or quenching a dimly burning wick, (Mt. 12:20). He saw the good points in weak, sinful people and hoped for the best in everyone. He was the sort of person one longed to be with, for He was understanding, kind and gentle. Only the proud and those with secret sin avoided Him.

The love of Jesus was not sentimental. It sought the highest good of others. And so He did not hesitate to give a word of admonition where He saw that there was need for such a word. He rebuked Peter for trying to turn Him away from the cross - and that too with such strong words as, "Get behind Me, Satan" (Mt. 16:23).

He rebuked James and John for seeking places of honour and for wanting to take revenge on the Samaritans (Mt. 20:22,23; Lk. 9:55). And He rebuked His disciples seven times for their unbelief.

Jesus was never afraid of speaking the truth, even if it hurt others, for His heart was filled with love for them. He was not concerned whether His reputation for kindness would be lost by speaking strong words. He loved others more than Himself and so He was willing to sacrifice His reputation in order to help them. Therefore He spoke the truth firmly, lest men be ruined eternally. The eternal welfare of men mattered far more to Him than their opinions of Him.

It is the warmth of love in the words that we speak that produces fruit for the glory of God in others. Although there is plenty of light at the North and South Poles, nothing grows there, because of the lack of warmth.

Jesus saw that people were far more important than things. He loved men so greatly that He identified completely with them, and made them feel wanted. He shared their burdens and had words of kindness for the downtrodden, and words of encouragement for those defeated in life's battles. Never would He consider any human being as worthless. They may be crude or coarse, but they were still people who needed to be redeemed.

Jesus never belittled others or passed remarks or jokes about them that hurt them. He never made any subtle wounding statements. He never discussed the shortcomings of His disciples behind their backs. It is truly amazing that in three years, He never exposed Judas before the other eleven disciples - for even at the last supper, the eleven could not guess who was going to betray their Master.


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Shibu Clement

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 Word For The Week - by Zac Poonen

April 2005
[b]1. Living for the glory of God[/b]

In the prayer that the Lord taught His disciples to pray, the very first request is, "Hallowed by Thy Name." This was the primary longing in the heart of the Lord Jesus. He prayed "Father, glorify Thy Name," and chose the way of the Cross since that was to the Father's glory (Jn. 12:27,28). One supreme passion governed the life of the Lord Jesus - the Father's glory.

Everything He did was for the Father's glory. There were no separate sacred and secular compartments in His life. Everything was sacred. He made stools and benches for the glory of God as much as He preached and healed the sick for the glory of God. Every day was equally sacred to Him; and money spent on the necessities of daily living was as sacred as money given to God's work or to the poor.

Jesus lived in perfect rest of heart at all times, because He sought only the Father's glory and cared only for His Father's approval. He lived before the face of His Father and did not care for the honour or praise of men. "He who speaks from himself seeks his own glory," said Jesus (Jn. 7:18). The soulish Christian, however much he may appear or pretend to be seeking the glory of God, is really, deep down, interested in his own honour. Jesus on the other hand, never sought any honour for Himself. That which originates in man's cleverness and is carried out through human ingenuity and talents, will always end in glorifying man. That which begins in the soul will only glorify the creature. But there will be nothing in heaven or in earth in the ages of eternity that will bring honour or glory to any man. Everything that survives time and enters the portals of eternity will be what was from God, through God and to God. It is the motive behind an action that gives value and merit to that action, as far as God is concerned. What we do is important, but why we do it is far more important.

Jesus waited on His Father to receive His plan, and also waited on the Father for the power to carry out that plan, so that He did all the will of His Father in the power of God. But that was not all. Jesus went to prayer after some of His greatest achievements - to give the glory to His Father. He offered up the fruit of His labours as a sacrificial offering to His Father. He neither sought honour for Himself, nor received it when it was given Him (Jn. 5:41; 8:50). When His fame spread far and wide, He retired to the mountains to glorify His Father (Lk. 5:15,16). He was determined never to touch that glory Himself. The result of such an attitude consistently held, was that at the end of Jesus' life on earth, He could honestly say, "Father I have glorified You on earth" (Jn. 17:4).

He had come to earth to glorify the Father as a man. He lived each day with that as His aim. He prayed earnestly that the Father alone would be glorified, whatever the cost to Him. And He finally died that the Father would be honoured and exalted and glorified on earth as He was in heaven.

The ministry of Jesus was spiritual. The proof of that is seen in the fact that He left behind a number (small though it be) who also became spiritual, and not soulish. To manifest His glory, we must follow in His footsteps here. Jesus so sought the glory of God that He Himself was quite prepared to pave and prepare the way for His apostles to do something greater than He ever did, after Him (Jn. 14:12). This greater work was, no doubt, the building of the church, with the members therein becoming one as the Father and the Son are one (Jn. 17:21-23). During Jesus' lifetime on earth, not even two of His disciples had become one as the Father and the Son are one. They all sought their own. But after the day of Pentecost, many of His disciples have become one as He desired. This was the greater work. Jesus paved the way for others to do a greater work. He died and laid the foundation and His disciples built on that. There was no self-interest in Jesus. It did not matter to Him if someone else got the credit for what He did, provided the Father was glorified. It is this spirit that has to animate us, if we are to minister life to the church, the Body of Christ, today, and if we are to build it, to the fullness of the stature of Christ.


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Shibu Clement

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 Word For The Week - by Zac Poonen

April 2005
[b]2. OBEDIENCE & SUFFERING – Part of our syllabus in spiritual education[/b]

God has always required obedience from man. Under the old covenant, the Israelites were given commandments to obey. But they discovered that they could not keep God’s laws perfectly. Under the new covenant, God promises to write His laws in our hearts and minds so that we will not only obey Him but love to obey Him. God’s promise is: “I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances.”(Ezek. 36:27) It is only through obeying His commandments that we can have fellowship with God.

Obedience however is something that many believers have not understood. Most believers have so misunderstood ‘grace’ that they consider obedience to be an Old Covenant requirement. God’s commandments, as a result, are considered to be a heavy burden. This is a Satanic deception. It is the result of an ignorance of God’s love. All of God’s commandments are for our good and are meant to set us free. They all originate in the heart of a God Who loves us perfectly. Moses says (concerning God giving His laws to Israel at Sinai), “At God’s right hand there was a fiery law for His people - indeed (this proves that) He loves His people” (Deut.33:2,3 - margin). The fact that God gives us His laws is a proof of His intense love for us.

Some of God’s commandments may require self- denial on our part. But in the long run we will discover that they are for our very best. A father doesn’t give commands to his children to burden them or harm them - but only to help them. This is how we need to see the commands that God gives us too. To have faith is to believe in a God Who is perfect in love. When we have such faith, we will delight to do God’s commandments, at any cost. Here lies the reason for so much of our defeat. The Devil has convinced people that God’s commandments are either unnecessary, or a burden. If we don’t understand why God calls us to do something, that only proves our own immaturity. One day, when we are a little more mature, we will understand. When children are compelled to go to school, they may not understand why their parents won’t allow them to stay at home and play. They may think their parents are being very hard towards them. But it is love that makes those parents compel their children to get an education. Like those little children, we too don’t often understand God’s ways. But if we believed in His love, we would obey all His Word and submit to all His dealings, without any question. Consider the matter of suffering. Why does a God of love allow us to go through suffering? That’s because suffering is a part of the syllabus in our spiritual education. It is through suffering that God leads us on to maturity. If you have not had much opportunity to suffer, you certainly could not have learnt much in life that has any spiritual value.

Perhaps you grumbled and complained so much the last time you had a little suffering, that God now allows you to go your own way. That is sad, when God puts you on the shelf like that. I’d rather go through suffering every day of my life than be set aside by God on a shelf. It is foolish to compare ourselves with others, when God leads us through suffering. That would be like your children wondering why they have to go to school when the poor children in the slums can play in the mud all day. All of God’s dealings with us are in perfect love. He wants us to be happy - not with the superficial, frothy happiness of the world, but with that deep, everlasting happiness that comes through holiness of life. And there is just no way to be holy except through suffering. “He disciplines us for our good, that we may share His holiness.”(Heb.12:10).

Jesus was the happiest man Who ever walked on this earth. Yet He was the One Who suffered the most. His happiness came out of doing the will of His Father - not by having an easy way through life. He knew His Father as perfect love and so He joyfully submitted to all that the Father sent His way. That was the secret of His life.


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Shibu Clement

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 Word For The Week - by Zac Poonen

April 2005
[b]3. A COVENANT RELATIONSHIP[/b]

In 1 Sam. 18:1-8, we read of Jonathan entering into a covenant with David. This is a beautiful picture of what the covenant relationship should be like in the body of Christ. It says there that Jonathan's soul was knit to the soul of David. The 'knit' used here is the same word used in Neh. 4:6 where it refers to the wall being built in such a way that there was no gap at all in it. So too was Jonathan's heart was knit with David's - there was no gap between their hearts for the enemy to come through. It says further that Jonathan loved David as himself. This is our calling in the body of Christ too - to be joined together as ONE, such that there is no gap between us (no gap of misunderstanding, jealousy, suspicion, etc) whereby the enemy can come through and bring a division.

Jonathan should have been the one person in Israel who should have been most jealous of David, for he was a threat to Jonathan succeeding Saul as the next king of Israel. Yet he overcame jealousy and loved David as his own self. How Jonathan puts New Testament believers to shame!

Jonathan then made a covenant with David; and as a symbol of the covenant, he took off his royal robe and put it on David. This was symbolic of Jonathan's desire to die to himself as the next king of Israel and to make David king. We are commanded in the body of Christ to "outdo one another in showing honour" (Rom. 12:10 margin). We are to so die to ourselves that we sincerely and earnestly long that our brothers will be greater and higher and more regarded than ourselves. And we take our robe, if necessary, to cover a brother's nakedness wherever it is seen. Thus we can make our brother glorious in the eyes of others. This is what it means to enter into a covenant relationship with the brothers in the body of Christ.

It is impossible to enter into such a covenant without dying to self persistently. All the problems that riddle almost every assembly of believers arise because the believers therein have not entered into such a covenant relationship with one another. Everyone seeks his own. The net result of this is that Satan triumphs. But such assemblies are not the church that Jesus is building, for Jesus said that the gates of hell would not be able to prevail against the church that He builds (Matt. 16:18).

Jesus is building His church in this world today. If we are to be a part of that church and to have a part in building that church, then we need to take to heart covenant relationships and should seek to learn with all our hearts what it means to make our brother glorious.

Then we read that Jonathan also took his armour, his sword, his bow and his belt and gave them to David. Entering into a covenant with our brothers, we surrender every possible weapon with which we can harm them in any way. This is the meaning of Jonathan's action.

The weapon with which the maximum damage has been done in Christendom is the tongue. Are we willing to lay down this weapon in a covenant relationship with our brothers in such a way that we will never again speak evil or backbite or gossip against another, even once.

This surrender of our weapons also implies a trust in our brother such that we can afford to be defenceless before him, because we know that he will never harm us. It is through such trust and confidence that the brotherhood is built.

In 1 Sam. 19,20, we see Jonathan's steadfast loyalty to David even at the cost of having to stand against his own father. Jonathan stood by his brother David in the presence of carnal relatives. Truly he is a worthy example for all of us to follow. We are to love the brotherhood more than our blood relatives.


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Shibu Clement

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 Word For The Week - by Zac Poonen

April 2005
[b]4. GOD'S PLAN IS THE BEST[/b]

It is the height of folly not to seek God's guidance. If you were alone in the middle of a thick forest on a pitch dark night, not knowing which way to turn, you would be glad to have with you someone who knew every inch of the forest and whom you could trust fully. You would gladly follow him without question whichever way he took. It would be foolish to ignore his advice and to move on your own into that dark and dense forest, full of hidden dangers. Yet many believers do just that sort of thing.

The future that lies before us is darker than anything on earth could possibly be. We can see nothing ahead. Yet we have to move forward.

We sometimes come to crossroads in our lives, where we have to make decisions with far-reaching consequences. Decisions such as the choice of a career and a life-partner affect our entire future. How are we to decide at such times? We know nothing of the dangers and the hidden pitfalls along each path. We know nothing of the snares Satan has laid for us. And yet - we have to decide which path to take.

It would therefore be not only desirable but necessary for us to have someone beside us at such times whom we can trust fully, who knows the entire future. In the Lord Jesus Christ, we have just such a Person, and He is more than eager to guide us along the safest and best path.

The Bible teaches that God has a specific plan for each of our lives (Eph. 2:10). He has planned a career for us, chosen a life-partner for us and even planned where we should live and what we should do each day. In every case, His choice must be the best, for He knows us so well and He takes every factor into consideration. It is wisest then to seek His will in all matters - major as well as minor.

It is not only foolish, but dangerous also to follow the reasoning of our limited intellects and the dictates of our emotions alone. Unless we are gripped by the conviction that God's plan is indeed the best, we are not likely to be in earnest about seeking it.

Many have made shipwreck of their lives by failing to seek the will of God right from their youth. It is indeed "good for a man that he bear the yoke in his youth" (Lam. 3:27). In Matthew 11:28-30, Jesus invites us to take His yoke upon us. What does it mean to take the yoke? When a pair of oxen are used to plough a field, they are kept together by a yoke upon their necks. When a new ox is to be trained to plough, it is yoked together with an experienced ox. The new one is thus compelled to walk in the same direction and at the same speed as the older ox.

This is what it means to take the yoke of Jesus upon us. We shall have to walk with Jesus in the path that pleases Him, never rushing ahead to do anything without His leading, nor lagging behind when He calls to some new step of obedience. Few understand this meaning of the yoke. Fewer still are willing to accept it. The ox is forced by its owner to take the yoke upon its neck. But Jesus invites us. There is no compulsion here. How foolish we are to reject this invitation! We would rather take the heavy yoke of our own self-will with its accompanying frustrations, defeats, and regrets, than the light yoke of Jesus that brings true liberty and deep rest!

"Come to Me and I will give you rest - all of you who work so hard beneath a heavy yoke. Wear My yoke.....and let Me teach you (as the older ox teaches the inexperienced one)....and you shall find rest for your souls; for I give you only light burdens" (Matt. 11:28-30- TLB).

We read of Enoch that he "walked with God" (Gen. 5:22) - i.e., he did not rush ahead nor lag behind, but walked in God's appointed path as one under the yoke - for three hundred years. As a result, God testified that He was pleased with Enoch's life (Heb. 11:5). This is the only way that we can please God - by living and moving under His yoke, in His perfect will. Only thus shall we be able to stand before Him without regret when He comes again.


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Shibu Clement

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 Word For The Week - by Zac Poonen

May 2005
[b]1. Deliverance From Indecision[/b]

Many times we will have to take a step forward while still not perfectly sure about God's will. This too is a part of the discipline of walking by faith, for certainty can sometimes be the equivalent of walking by sight. God sometimes gives us clear assurances to encourage us lest we faint. But many times He expects us to move forward without visible evidences of His approval. Having ascertained the mind of the Holy Spirit to the best of our knowledge, we should move ahead without waiting indefinitely. The Bible says, "We should make plans - counting on God to direct us" (Prov. 16:9-TLB). Looking back over such decisions later, we will find that in spite of the dimness of our vision, God did not let us go astray. In other words, although there may have been much uncertainty in prospect, there will be much certainty and rejoicing in retrospect.

"The very dimness of my sight Makes me secure - For groping in my misty way I feel His hand, I hear Him say, 'My help is sure'".

If when taking a step in uncertainty we miss the path of God's perfect will, He can be trusted to deliver us. The promise in Isaiah 30:21 (TLB) is, "If you leave God's paths and go astray, you will hear a Voice behind you say, `No, this is the way; walk here'". God can order circumstances to alter our course when we miss the road. But we should not remain in perpetual inaction waiting for spectacular guidance for every move. A ship can be turned around much quicker when moving that when stationary: so can we.

In Acts 16:6-10, Paul and Silas tried to go into Asia not as a result of any clear leading from the Lord but yet desiring to do His will. They were hindered - perhaps by God-ordered circumstances. Next, they attempted to enter Bithynia. Again their way was blocked. But because they were actively seeking God's will, and not passively waiting for guidance, He led them finally to the place of His choice - Macedonia.

In the smaller details of daily life, guidance is not necessarily a question of constant conscious enquiry. It is a matter of walking in the Spirit. Right relationship with the Lord will lead to right action. In such small details, the guidance of God is not something that we should be acutely aware of all the time. We may be unconscious of it. It is our basic relationship with the Lord that is the important factor, for guidance is a spiritual matter and not a mechanical technique.


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Shibu Clement

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 Word For The Week - by Zac Poonen

May 2005
[b]2. DELIVERANCE FROM REGRETS[/b]

Regrets over past failures may torment the minds of some of us. We may have missed God's will in some issue and are now unable to correct it. But regret is futile, for it will only eat up our spiritual vitality and leave us totally unfit for any service for God. Failure should be confessed to God, Who is faithful to forgive us and to cleanse us immediately (1 John 1:7,9). He has also promised not to remember our past sins (Heb. 8:12). If God does not harp on our past there is no need for us to agonize over it. We should therefore turn our back once and for all on those failures. It may not be possible to rectify the blunders, but we can ask the Lord to use the rest of our life, for His glory.

David fell very low when he sinned with Bathsheba and then had her husband, Uriah, killed. Yet instead of living the rest of his life in regret, he came back to God in brokenness and repentance. Accepting God's forgiveness, he lived thereafter for God's glory. The Holy Spirit recorded later that David pleased the Lord in all his life, except in the matter of Uriah (1 Kings 15:5). If David had allowed regret to plague his mind, he would only have grieved the Lord further. Those who live with the weight of regret perpetually on their minds only succeed in adding failure to failure. We must forget past failures and press forward to fulfil God's will (cf. Phil. 3:13,14). God can restore to us the years that have been lost (Joel 2:25).

Another temptation is to worry over a past decision which at the time we felt convinced was in the will of God, but which we now doubt. Perhaps the decision has led us into trouble. Or maybe we are now aware of facts which had we known then, might have led us to a different decision. The principle we should always bear in mind is: Never doubt in the darkness what God has shown in the light. If we sincerely sought the will of God and decided according to the light we then had, there is no need to look back now in regret. God is not a cruel despot who delights in making fools of us. He is a loving Father and He will not give us a stone if we ask for bread. If we sought His will sincerely, we can be sure God overruled everything to let us decide rightly. Even the facts that we were ignorant of then, must have been withheld by God with a purpose.

God gave Paul and Silas clear directions at Troas to go to Macedonia, and they went immediately. Yet soon after arrival, they were locked up in prison with their feet in stocks. They could have wondered then whether their sense of guidance was wrong. Had they known their fate in advance they might never have left Troas. But God gave them no warning. Though put in prison, Paul and Silas trusted God. Refusing to doubt in the darkness what God had shown them in the light, they continued to praise Him (Acts 16:8-26). Later events clearly showed they were indeed in the will of God. Getting into trouble is, by itself, no indication that we are out of God's will. If we trust God we shall praise Him in the thickest darkness without any regrets.
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Shibu Clement

 2005/11/8 5:56Profile
shibu
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 Word For The Week - by Zac Poonen

May 2005
[b]3. DELIVERANCE FROM FEAR[/b]

Fear of men and of circumstances can make us miss the will of God. Many believers are governed by considerations of security and safety when seeking guidance. They feel that certain places and occupations are insecure and dangerous, and so rule them out of their minds altogether. But there is no place or occupation in this world totally free from danger. The safest place in all the world is always the centre of God's perfect will. We step into danger only when we step out of God's plan. The one who makes his decisions without seeking God's guidance will be vulnerable to Satan's attacks. But "the one who lives and works in the appointed place of the Most High will be protected by the shadow of the Almighty" (Psa. 91:1 - adapted).

We need to be delivered too, from the fear of making mistakes. The only man who will never make a mistake is the man who never does anything. We are students in God's school and we shall doubtless go wrong occasionally. But the Lord is ever near, ready to put things right. Apart from the Lord Jesus Himself, no man ever learned to walk in God's perfect will without making many mistakes. The greatest saints learned to walk in the will of God just as a child learns to walk - through many falls. The child who is afraid of falling may never learn to walk! We must never let such fear keep us from moving forward. Walking in God's will may not be easy but it is a great adventure with Him and He has promised to hold us when we fall - "The steps of good men are directed by the Lord..... If they fall it isn't fatal, for the Lord holds them with His Hand" (Psa. 37:23,24- TLB).

Finally, remember that guidance is essentially a personal matter between God and you. The way God led another person may never be the way He wishes to lead you. The broad principles are the same for all believers, but the exact mode varies from individual to individual. You will only be confused if you seek for the same type of guidance you heard someone else describe in his testimony. Leave it to God how He should guide you. Let your concern be, to be always available to Him, to do whatever He desires. He will make it His concern to ensure that you are made aware of His will, and that you are strengthened to fulfill it.


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Shibu Clement

 2005/11/8 5:57Profile





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