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Power of God

Hi There!

This is just a start to write out a blog of what we discuss and share in our “Dunamis” Monday meetings, here in Anushakti Nagar.

Please share your thoughts on this!

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Robe of Righteousness

Suppose a rich man’s daughter is planning her wedding with her fiance; do you know what will be the bride’s top priority? Yes, you guessed it – to answer the question “what dress should I wear on that day?”

A wedding has been announced; the “Tailor” has His job cut-out; and the dresses have been made ready on time- the garments of salvation and the robe of righteousness.

There is music in the air and a fresh fragrance of expectation. There is songs in the street and great rejoicing; all because of the wedding. As it says in Isaiah 61:10 NKJV: I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, My soul shall be joyful in my God; For He has clothed me with the garments of salvation, He has covered me with the robe of righteousness, As a bridegroom decks himself with ornaments, And as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.

The Bridegroom Jesus is coming; and on that day it will be said ‘The Bride (the Church), has made herself ready.’

Revelation 19:7 NKJV Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready.”

Readying is actually putting away the old clothes and putting on the new ones. (Been part of a wedding…you know it!).

The thing is, all our righteousness (by doings) are like filthy rags; ready to be thrown away. And the gift of righteousness (Rom. 5:17), is to be received, and this robe of righteousness (by faith) is to be worn. This is the Bride making herself ready.

The Bible says in Ephesians 5:31-32 NKJV “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” [32] This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church.

Remember Joseph? The dreamer and interpreter of dreams? Now when Joseph was called from prison by the Pharoah for interpretation of his dream (mystery), Joseph first went home, shaved and changed his clothing, before he came before the king. He made himself ready.

Genesis 41:14 NKJV Then Pharaoh sent and called Joseph, and they brought him quickly out of the dungeon; and he shaved, changed his clothing, and came to Pharaoh.

Beloved, as believers in Jesus Christ, the gift of righteous robes is extended to us, the Bride- the Church. The train of this His robe fills the entire temple. Let us therefore make ourselves ready. Let us prepare to meet our King.

The scene, the scent… the song, the feast; everything to look forward to. The voice of the Bridegroom is heard:

Song of Solomon 2:12-13 NKJV The flowers appear on the earth; The time of singing has come, And the voice of the turtledove Is heard in our land. [13] The fig tree puts forth her green figs, And the vines with the tender grapes Give a good smell. Rise up, my love, my fair one, And come away!

What is the Bride’s response?

Revelation 22:17 NKJV And the Spirit and the bride say, “Come!”

And let him who hears say, “Come!”

And let him who thirsts come.

Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely.

[Update: I was searching online to put a picture of the kingly robe (representing righteousness) and was about to add the picture when His Spirit impressed upon me that the robe was too short and reminded me of the verse of how the train of His robe filled the entire temple.

And I was like Wow! Maybe that is why the Bride in her wedding use a very very long veil.

If at all you trip, you are going to trip on His righteousness! :)]

Amen.

Dove’s Eyes

Song of Solomon 1:15 NKJV: Behold, you are fair, my love! Behold, you are fair! You have dove’s eyes.

Song of Solomon 4:1 NIV: How beautiful you are, my darling! Oh, how beautiful! Your eyes behind your veil are doves. Your hair is like a flock of goats descending from the hills of Gilead.

Have you ever wondered what is so special about Dove’s eyes? 

As far as my interaction with youth goes, I find that none of them have used such a description for their spouse or would-be spouses. 

Even in the Song of Songs, the Bridegrom had to say this twice, before the Bride responds in characteristically similar manner. The friends of the Bride wants to know what’s so special about her Groom (the typical Mumbaikar syndrome “Toh kya? Woh ud be sakhta hai kya?”). She responds in Song of Solomon 5:12 NIV: His eyes are like doves by the water streams, washed in milk, mounted like jewels.

What? Doves eyes again?

Did you know that doves have their eyes fixed and cannot rotate (or ogle)? They need to turn their heads to see in another direction. (Yes, go ahead…  google it).

Undivided attention and undistracted devotion is what it symbolises- Doves eyes. And that’s what the Shulamite bride realised… That the groom has eyes only for her. Undistracted devotion.

And that is what happened as Jesus went to Martha’s house that day. Here was Mary looking on and listening to Jesus. Undivided attention and undistracted devotion. But Martha was distracted with much serving (Luke 10:40). 

Think of the two sisters in one house-both loved by Jesus and in turn loving Him, in their own unique ways. I can imagine Martha looking forward to some help from her sister in the kitchen, and trying to catch the attention of Mary. Maybe she waved her hand from a corner discreetly; maybe she made some light hissing noises! I don’t know. All I know is Martha failed to get her sister’s attention; because Mary eyes was transfixed on Jesus. (and no, it was not pretension just to escape daily chores!). She indeed had dove’s eyes.

And Martha goes straight to Jesus complaining. I like that, her love-confidence. And Jesus defends Mary. I like that too, yes, the better part chosen by her. 

There is no doubt that the Bridegroom Jesus has doves eyes for His bride – the Church. It is time for the Church to have doves eyes for Jesus.

And that is what the author of Hebrews probably means when he says, let us FIX our EYES on JESUS (HEB. 12:2, NIV). And that is what Paul probably means when he says in 2 Corinthians 3:18 KJV:
But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.
Amen and Amen.

Sheep becomes Shepherd

– Grace and David Nesaraj

Have you heard of shepherds that care for their sheep? Even to the extent of risking their own lives, to save the young ones from the mouths of wild animals. David is an example that immediately comes to mind. Moses too was a shepherd before God called him to be a shepherd to Israel. 

In a classic confession of trust beyond all that can be seen or felt,  David exclaims in one of the most loved of Psalms-Psalm 23:1 “The LORD is my Shepherd, I shall not want”. David considered himself a sheep-and the LORD as his Shepherd, before God called him to shepherd Israel and Judah, testifying about him- “a man after My own heart”. 

And in our own lives too, we have experienced the gentle hand of the Good Shepherd-who laid down His life for the sheep. And it sometimes amazes us- “How did I ever get here?” or “How did I ever get over that?” 

And I am talking about green pastures- not just enough food to eat for the day (as some do portray) – no, no! That’s NOT our Shepherd, there is enough to eat and also to rest, because He makes me to lie down in green pastures. And I am talking about still waters… Not the slushy, dirty waters stirred up with strife. And I am talking about a bountiful table prepared for us, even in the presence of our enemies. Yes, haven’t you experienced all this in your own life? 

That is why it is unimportant what “other people” think about us. David’s father almost forgot he even had this little shepherd boy, when prophet Samuel was seeking to anoint the coming king. David’s own brothers thought David was a pride-filled person when he enquired about reward for slaying Goliath. Even prophet Samuel thought David’s elder brothers were fit to be anointed as king because of their outward appearance. But you know, there is a God who sees the heart. Hallelujah! 

So David became the people shepherd. I will establish one shepherd over them, and he shall feed them-my servant David. (Eze. 34:23)

Psalm 78:70-71 NKJV: He also chose David His servant, And took him from the sheepfolds; [71] From following the ewes that had young He brought him, To shepherd Jacob His people, And Israel His inheritance.

You and I are also called to be shepherds in the New Covenant. The Good Shepherd, the Great Shepherd, the Chief Shepherd – He is the One who called us, chosen us. 

In Jeremiah 3:15, God says, “And I will give you shepherds according to My heart, who will feed you with knowledge and understanding.”

Remember Peter? Yes, that Peter who was always the first one to speak and do – sometimes confessions of faith, sometimes walking on water by faith, and at other times advising even Jesus. Here he was, one day, boldly declaring that he would follow Jesus even to death. As in John 13:37 Peter said to Him (Jesus), “Lord, why can I not follow You now? I will lay down my life for Your sake.” (Notice the “I” before “You” in Peter’s sentences?)

Now here was, after denying Jesus 3 times – a dejected man, a failure in his own eyes. So much so he went back to his old trade-fishing, even while knowing Jesus is risen from the dead!

But such a heart is the right one for our Good Shepherd who meets him by the sea and feeds him first! The breakfast by the sea as recorded in John 21.

Jesus takes Peter aside and asks him- thrice, Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me? And all the three times, Peter completes his answer with “You know Lord that I love you” (Notice the “You” coming before “I”). The only motivation for ministry must be love for Jesus. When this motivation is settled, it is but natural to be given the shepherds’ ministry by the Great Shepherd Himself: Feed My lambs, feed My sheep and tend My sheep. 

Peter passes this on to other “sheeps” of Jesus. 

1 Peter 5:2-4 NKJV

Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly; [3] nor as being lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock; 

And adds in verse [4] 

and when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that does not fade away.

Amen. 

Jeremiah 23:4-6, “I will set up shepherds over them who will feed them, and they shall fear no more, nor be dismayed, nor shall they be lacking,” says the LORD. “Behold, the days are coming,” says the LORD, “that I will raise to David a Branch of righteousness; a King shall reign and prosper, and execute judgment and righteousness in the earth. In His days Judah will be saved. And Israel shall dwell safely; Now this is His name by which He will be called: THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.”

And that is how the sheep becomes shepherd-speaking about THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS. Filled with this knowledge and understanding of the loving, gentle and Chief Shepherd-Jesus Christ to whom belongs all glory, now go ahead and be the shepherd God wants you to be- willingly and eagerly. Feeding and not fleecing, caring and not beating…

Amen. In Jesus’ name. 

Remember to be Thankful

-By Grace Nesaraj

Have you noticed pairs in the Bible? Mercy and Truth, Mercy and Grace, Righteousness and truth, blessing and honour, grace and truth… and so on. Today let us meditate on this pair of action-words – Remember, Give-Thanks.

Isn’t it true? You can be thankful, only if you remember. That is why the Psalmist says “Bless (Thank) the Lord, O my soul… and forget not all His benefits” – Ps. 103:2. And today, I want to share something from the life of Joshua, as he and the children of Israel crossed the Jordan. Here were the people waiting to cross over to the Promised Land – a land flowing with milk and honey. And before them is the river Jordan, OVERFLOWING all its banks, because it was the time of harvest. We read about this in Joshua 3:15. A most significant event happens there!

As soon as the feet of the priests holding the Ark of the Covenant touched the river Jordan, the waters were cut-off and stood in a heap far away from them. They all cross-over safely – the twelve tribes- men, women and children.

Now it was time for symbols, that generations coming after them too will remember and give thanks. So, as God instructed, Joshua sends 12 men-one from each tribe, to enter the dried-up Jordan, where the priests were still standing, and to take out 12 large stones (on their shoulders) and bring them to their tents. This was specifically done, that when the children to come ASK what these stones meant, they should REPLY that it was when God cut-off the waters of Jordan for them to cross over.

Have you ever asked what this meant or what that meant, anytime in your home? I know in your teens, it is difficult. But you know, little children WILL ask questions. God is counting on that, and then you can remind them of God’s goodness.

Have you kept symbols for you to remember the goodness of the Lord, in your own lives? Because if you are reminded, you will remember; and it will become just a matter of habit to give thanks to the Lord.

Peter too writes to the believers in 2 Peter 1: 12-15

“For this reason I will not be negligent to remind you always of these things, … to stir you up by reminding you… I will be careful to ensure that you always have a reminder of these things….”

So we are reminding each one of you today to briefly turn back and remember of God’s goodness in your life. Just as the priests stood in the midst of Jordan, our heavenly High Priest Jesus, stands with us in the midst of our problems. He Himself has said, “I will never leave you, nor forsake you.” Therefore, we can have sure confidence through our trials, and praise on our lips, as we cross through.

In some cases, each one of you would have been a priest holding up the presence of God in situations in your home – maybe some sickness, some tests. As the Bible calls each one of us, believers in Christ Jesus, as a holy nation and a royal priest hood. Even then, you can write it down in your diary, or store it in your mobiles, post it in Facebook; that you may have a reminder of the things that God has done for you.

Be blessed in Jesus. Amen.

Big Points in the New Covenant

Let us first understand what is the kingdom of God. We have heard Matt. 6:33 many times over which says, Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and ALL these things (food, shelter and clothing) shall be added unto us. But do you know that the kingdom of God itself is not in meat and drink, but RIGHTEOUSNESS and PEACE and JOY in the Holy Spirit (Ron. 14: 17).

Put these verses together and you know that the central theme is His righteousness.

Now it is expedient for me to say that this righteousness is not cultivated by social upbringing or attained by doing the right things (works of law) , but is simply received as a GIFT (Ron. 3:22 and Rom. 5:17). Once we have believed in Jesus, we have the right to receive this free gift as children of God. Why? Because Jesus is our High Priest.

Beloved, this is the foundation of New Covenant living. Heb. 8:1 says that this is the Main point of whatever has been said in the previous 7 chapters: Jesus our High priest forever. He became sin and died, now ascended to the Father and seated at the right hand. As we reach out to receive what our High Priest offers, we become the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus.

God has Sworn and will not relent… Jesus our high priest FOREVER according to the order of Melchizedek (and not Levi). The author of Hebrews says that this is like double confirmation: one, it is impossible for God to lie; and two, He has sworn with an oath and therefore Jesus is our surety for righteousness (Heb. 7:20-22 and 1 Cor. 1:30,31).

Remember, when Jesus spoke of His ascension and the coming of the Holy Spirit in John 16:8-11? In this passage is mentioned three different group category – 1. the world that does not believe: 2. Believers and 3. Ruler of this (unbelieving) world-renowned devil. And the work of the Holy Spirit is different for these categories or groups: 1. to convict the world of sin (of unbelief) 2. to convince the believers of their righteousness in Christ and 3. Judge the ruler of this world.

Jesus is our righteousness. That is His name – ‘THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS” (Jer. 23:6)- unchanging, sure, because He is undefined, harmless and holy. That is why the New Covenant is SO MUCH better than the Old one based on our works, which is now made obsolete and is passing away.

Hold on to His righteousness… That is the kingdom of God for you. And I have not even come to peace and joy part of the kingdom.

But let me tell you this in closing. If the swearing of God is double confirmation, go ahead and find out for yourself what and all God has sworn for us in the New Covenant. See Isaiah 54:9,10 for instance.

Stay blessed in Jesus. Amen.

Word Drawn Near

Last week, we saw how one shepherd boy David represented the entire nation of Israel, when the battle lines were drawn against the Philistines, and overcame the giant Goliath. And how it all relates to the representational and REAL victory Jesus has wrought for us on Calvary-on behalf of us and as a Man. Some Biblical scholars point out that when David cut-off the head of the giant, he brought it to Jerusalem and buried it in a place that later came to be known as “the place of the skull” – Golgatha. This is the same place on Mount Calvary, where Jesus, as he hung on the cross, had the prophecy fulfilled that the Seed of the woman would crush the head of Satan, as written in the book of Genesis 3:15 “He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel.”

And we see how in Rev. 13:3, there stands a “brain-dead” beast whose head had had a fatal wound, and that his fatal wound was healed. It is our Savior-Jesus who triumphed over the beast- over sin, over death, crushing the head of Satan and stripping him and his cronies of their powers, and making them a public spectacle (yes, again just as David did) as written in Col. 2:15.

This beast and Satan is that accuser of the brothers and sisters (of Jesus), and he constantly accuses them before the throne of God. What then is the victory for us? As it is written, “They overcame him by the blood of the lamb and by the word of their testimony…” The word of our testimony simply means that we confess and witness what the blood of Jesus has done for us in totally cleansing our sin, and what Jesus death has bought for us – victory and everlasting life, and what Jesus’ resurrection means for us now – our Justification and a right standing before God. And when we make this our testimony, the accuser of the brothers and sisters is hurled down. (Rev. 12: 10. 11). As I said earlier, the blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony is like the sling and the stone of David against Goliath, that will surely make the enemy fall flat on his face.

Now this representational victory is not uncommon even in the world. For example, when Neil Armstrong landed on the moon, he spoke thus: “One step for man – a giant leap for mankind”. And when Tenzing’s son was asked why he too had not climbed Mt. Everest, he replied: “My father climbed Everest so that we wouldn’t have to“. What significant statements made by these; they understood what a representational victory means to them.

Tenzing's son

And now today, we will see how the victory actually relates to righteous by faith (in Jesus), and not righteousness by law (of works).

In Deut. 30:11-15, 19, we find Moses giving his final instructions, actually as a prophecy that will be fulfilled in Jesus. He says, “Now what I am commanding you today is not too difficult for you or beyond your reach. It is not up in heaven, so that you have to ask, “Who will ascend into heaven and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?” Nor is it beyond the sea, so that you have to ask, “Who will cross the sea to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?” No, the WORD is very NEAR you; it is in your mouth and in your heart so you may OBEY it. See, I set before you today, LIFE and PROSPERITY, death and destruction. [19] This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you LIFE and death, BLESSINGS and curses. NOW choose LIFE, so that you and your children may live.”

In this passage, there is a mix of righteousness by law (and works) and righteousness by faith in Jesus (WORD). And thank God, for Apostle Paul who rightly divides the word of God for us in Romans 10: 5-11.

Moses writes this about the righteousness that is by the law: “The person who does these things will live by them.” BUT the righteousness that is BY FAITH says, “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’ ” (that is, to bring Christ down) “or ‘Who will descend into the deep?’ ” (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). But what does it say? “The WORD is NEAR you; it is in your mouth and in your heart,” that is the MESSAGE concerning FAITH that WE PROCLAIM; For it is with your HEART that you BELIEVE and are JUSTIFIED, and it is with your MOUTH that you PROFESS YOUR FAITH and are saved. As the Scripture says, “Anyone who believes in Him [JESUS] will NEVER be put to shame.

Rom. 10:4 says, “CHRIST is the culmination of the LAW so that there may be RIGHTEOUSNESS for EVERYONE who BELIEVES.”

We must realise this, beloved, that we are not saved by good works and righteousness that is by the law; neither are we saved by repentance and confession of sins as some do preach. And no, we are not saved by saying a coined “Salvation Prayer”.

We are saved by BELIEVING in JESUS; this FAITH is immediately, to us, credited with RIGHTEOUSNESS, just as Abraham believed (even before law came), and IT was accounted to him for righteousness (Gen. 15:6, and incidentally the first time “righteousness” appears in the Bible). This is the righteousness by faith that we preach and profess!

Apostle Paul says in another place, “and be found in Him (JESUS), NOT HAVING my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith;” – Phil. 3:9

If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. (Rom. 10:9). This the WORD that is in your mouth and in your heart, that leads to LIFE and wholeness (salvation).

Choose Life! Choose Jesus!

No Jesus! No life! Know Jesus, know life!

Today we can believe in Jesus and what He has done for us on Calvary, and how he rose up the third day. We may then confess, “I am the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus.”

 

David and Goliath

There was a man from Gath, a trained warrior and a huge giant – Goliath by name, from the ranks of the Philistines when they were gathered together to fight Israel and Saul’s army. Between them was the valley-of-Elah (valley of Oak /Terebinth trees). And there was a shepherd boy – David, who withstood this giant and killed him. The place of battle was Ephes-Dammim, literally the “border of blood-shed”. We read about this in 1 Sam. 17: 1-58.

Oh, how we love this “story” right from our Sunday-school days! But, actually it’s a real-life event in the history of Israel.

Here is David, sent by his father Jesse, to inquire about the welfare of his brothers; there were three sons of Jesse – Eliab, Abinadab and Shammah . And David was the youngest of eight brothers, a ruddy, good-looking boy (1 Sam. 17:13, 14). His father had given him ten loaves of bread, and some measure (about 16 kg) of roasted grain, and ten cheeses. But when he came to the battle field, his brothers ridiculed him; calling him proud and arrogant. Isn’t that strange! This is the David of whom God testifies that he is a man after God’s own heart. And his name means “Beloved”.

I have come to know that there is more to this battle-event, than meets the eye.

It is Jesus who is revealed throughout! “This is My Beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased” is the witness of God from heaven. Jesus is the bread of life, come down from heaven, sent by the Father. He came to His own brethren – the Jews, but they rejected Him (John 1:11).  (except for a remnant of Jews who believed and received Him).

For forty days, the Philistine giant defied the armies of Israel, so much so that the people ran away from him, and were terribly afraid. It signifies the forty days of lent season, before the glorious Resurrection Sunday (Easter).

And the Philistine said, “I defy the armies of Israel this day; give me a man, that we may fight together.” (1 Sam. 17:10). Just one man! That’s what he asked for. Just One Man – that’s what he got. For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man’s (Jesus’) obedience many will be made righteous. (Rom. 5:19)

Then David said to the Philistine “You come to me with a sword, with a spear, and with a javelin. But I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts…Then all this assembly shall know that the Lord does NOT save with sword and spear; for the battle is the Lord’s…” (1 Sam. 17: 46, 47). The whole of Israel was terrified saying “Who will save us?” and here was David calmly taking his position. Jesus entered Jerusalem a few days before Passover, on a lowly donkey, and to shouts of “Hosanna, Hosanna” meaning “Save us, save us” and “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord”. Just like David, Jesus came in the name of the Lord. And in the garden of Gethsemane, Jesus calmly posed a very similar question: “Why do you come against me with sword and clubs? (Luke 22:52)

David took 5 smooth stones; Jesus took 5 deep wounds. Just one stone, was enough to fell the giant. Just one word on the cross – “Finished” and the giant devil with the “power of death” fell. Suddenly the devil lost his powers, even as Jesus in flesh and blood died.

David did not have a weapon to slay the giant; he ran over and took the sword of Goliath, out of its sheath and cut-off the giant’s head (1 Sam. 17:51). And the same is written about Jesus. “Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He (Jesus) Himself shared in the same (that is, as a Man) that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and release (free) those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.” (Heb. 2:14-15).

And on the third day, Jesus rose again from the dead. Freedom from fear of death – because sin is taken away, the written laws have been fulfilled and has come to an end. That is why there is NOW no fear of death, for those who believe Jesus. Both the sting and the strength that brings death is gone, because Jesus died. The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. That is why we who believe in Jesus can boldly say, “O death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory? (1 Cor. 15: 55-56).

Because we behold Him – Jesus, who gloriously announce “Do not be afraid; I am the First and the Last. I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen. And I (Jesus) have the keys of Hades and of Death.” (Rev. 1: 18)

So David prevailed over the Philistine with a sling and a stone, and struck the Philistine and killed him. (1 Sam. 17: 50). The sling symbolises the blood of the Lamb, and the stone-the word of our Testimony. Remember this verse?And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony… (Rev. 12:11). This is the heritage of believers in Jesus. We overcome the “giant” by the blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony.

Another thing that struck me in this entire passage in 1 Sam. 17 was that the giant was decked in BRONZE – from head to toe, even his shield and spear. Now bronze symbolises self-righteousness, and the keeping of the law. Even this giant must be slayed. But that is for another blog-post. Cheers!

Be blessed in Jesus. Amen.

Benjamin (Part-1)

What a poignant picture is this? Here is the most powerful ruler of Egypt, and indeed maybe of the whole world, which was reeling under a severe famine, asking for an evidence of truth from his own brothers (who did not recognise him)!

“Bring me the youngest brother you are talking about. And I will believe you, that you are not spies!”

We read about this in Genesis 42. And Simeon was bound before their eyes by Joseph (the ruler in entire Egypt under Pharaoh) and put in prison. The rest of the brothers return to Canaan and to their father, only to find all their money returned to them along with abundant provision that would sustain them for at least a year, and they were afraid.

And the father Jacob’s grief: “Joseph is no more, Simeon is no more, now you want to take Benjamin. Why did you tell the man that you had another brother?”

And Judah’s response: The man pointedly asked about our father whether he is alive and whether we had another brother.

Look at God our Father in Jesus Christ. Jesus is the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world – a picture of Joseph “lost” in Egypt. And his own brothers were dying of famine; they needed to live, needed food to survive. And now Benjamin has to go. That is again a picture of Jesus – the Son at the right hand of the Father. For Benjamin means “son of the right hand”. Rachel was dying as her son was born, and she named him “Ben-Oni” meaning son of sorrow; but his father named him “Benjamin” meaning son-of-the-right-hand. (Gen. 35: 18)

Jesus, the Darling-of-Heaven, the Son at the right hand had to go. We did not know him (just as Joseph’s brothers did not know Joseph); but He knew us, that we are His brothers. (He is not ashamed to call us His brothers! – Heb. 2:11). And the Father’s love for us was so great that He sent BENJAMIN – the Son of His right hand. For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. (John 3:16).

The father’s (Jacob) most-treasured son Benjamin finally left for Egypt. Because his brother Judah had taken a stand – “Send the lad with me, and we will arise and go, that we may live and not die, both we and you and also our little ones. I myself will be surety for him; from my hand you shall require him. If I do not bring him back to you and set him before you, then let me bear the blame forever…” – Gen. 43: 8, 9

And there was a divine exchange-Jesus coming in the line of Judah, the surety for Benjamin. That He may take the blame forever… And He took our sins. Our sin-bearing Messiah came in the line of Judah, who was always close to Benjamin and the place Bethlehem – the house of bread.

Judah and Benjamin dwelt together. That is why it is written: “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of you shall come forth to Me The One to be Ruler in Israel, whose goings forth are from of old, from everlasting.” And again in Matt. 2: 16-18 when Herod killed male infants below 2 years, it was Rachel weeping for her children – the children of Benjamin.

Jesus has come according to the Father’s great love. Our heavenly Benjamin was sent to this world; the divinely exchanged Judah took the blame for us-dying on the cross. And the lion of Judah has roared back to life from the dead, again becoming our heavenly Benjamin – ascended and sitting at the right hand of the Father. Jesus is able to intercede for us as our own High Priest forever – for He knows our weaknesses.

One of the most recurring verses in the Bible is this: The LORD said to my Lord, “Sit at my right hand, till I make Your enemies Your footstool.” (Psalm 110: 1, Matt. 22:44, Mark 12:36, Luke 20:42, Acts 2:34)

Therefore let all the house of Israel know ASSUREDLY that God has made THIS JESUS…both LORD and CHRIST. (Acts 2:35)

Our Lord is from the tribe of Judah (and Benjamin). It was the tribe of Judah and Benjamin who rebuilt the temple at Jerusalem (Ezra 1: 5). We too belong to the tribe of Judah and Benjamin, rebuilding the temple made without hands – the heavenly Jerusalem.

It was the tribe of Benjamin that dwelt in the land of Galilee, where Jesus loved to spend time preaching, teaching and healing. His own (Judah) rejected Him, but people in Galilee gladly heard Him.

You belong to this tribe of Benjamin, if you will hear Jesus gladly. Today, if you will hear His voice…do not harden your heart.

May YOUR TRIBE INCREASE. Amen in Jesus’ name.

 

 

About Grace and hyper-grace

Grace

Why are people so scared of grace? Grace is simply saying “I am fully dependent on God” and many don’t like that… They would like to have some “insurances” just in case, just some way to take back control of their lives.

But almost every epistle in the New Testament starts and ends with wishes of grace to BELIEVERS in Christ Jesus. Also, is it not a habit among us Christians to gather around the table during every meal and say “Grace”? God bless it! – for that’s how it is translated.

1. And yes, the FOOD we eat becomes a blessing to us!

Grace, Grace

For example the famous verses in Zech. 4: 6, 7 goes like this:

So he answered and said to me: “This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel: ‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit.’ says the LORD of hosts, ‘Who are you, O great mountain? Before Zerubbabel you shall become a plain! And he shall bring forth the capstone with shouts of “Grace, grace to it!””

That is GRACE appearing twice in the same verse. And NIV translates it as “God bless it! God bless it!”

2. And yes, shouts of grace will bring down the mountain!

Grace, Grace, Grace

Now look at one of Paul’s argument: But by the grace of God I am what I am, AND HIS GRACE TOWARD ME was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me. – 1 Cor. 15:10

That is Grace, Grace and Grace appearing thrice in that one verse. And abundant labour (works, if you will) in the Lord!

3. And yes, GRACE propels us to do more for Jesus!

My question is, if given grace made Paul hyper-active (he worked more than all other apostles – 1 Cor. 15:10), should we or should we not call grace “hyper-grace”?

I had thought for quite sometime on this and that someday I’m going to write on “hyper-grace”. I believe that the word itself has been coined by a crack-pot to crack the whip on specifically those who preach grace. I later came to know that this was some brown man (or is it the quick brown fox?) with fire on his tail or some such school who had coined it; and was always ready to jump over the lazy dog of anonymity.

But before I could put pen to paper, the brown fox had actually jumped over and cozied up to the grace-preacher saying, he too is a brother of Christ from Singapore; and that there were more things he agreed with him than the few points he disagreed with. You can read about it here.

Aww! Welcome brother Brown! Grace be to you in the name of Jesus.

Thankfully, there are several others like me who know grace surpasses any comparative or superlatives one may use or even propose to use. Here is an example of answers given by Dr. Paul Ellis to Mr. Brown’s queries on the subject. Or see this link on “Why I am hyper-graceby Jeremy White.

The Apostles of Christ – Peter, John and Paul were effusive while describing grace. Look at some examples:

1. Manifold grace.

1 Peter 4:10 NKJV: As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the MANIFOLD GRACE of God.

2. Exceeding grace

2 Corinthians 9:14 NKJV: and by their prayer for you, who long for you because of the exceeding grace of God in you.

3. Exceeding riches of His grace

Ephesians 2:7 NKJV: that in the ages to come He might show the EXCEEDING RICHES of His GRACE in His kindness toward us in CHRIST JESUS.

4a. Abundance of grace: Rom. 5:17 NIV: For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man (Adam), how MUCH MORE will THOSE who RECEIVE God’s ABUNDANT provision of GRACE and of the GIFT of RIGHTEOUSNESS REIGN in LIFE through the one man, JESUS CHRIST!

4b. Exceedingly abundant grace: 1 Timothy 1:14 NKJV: And the GRACE of our Lord was EXCEEDINGLY ABUNDANT, with faith and love which are in CHRIST JESUS.

5. More Grace and Much more grace

James 4:6 But He give MORE GRACE. Therefore He says: “God resists the proud. But gives grace to the humble.”

Romans 5:15 NKJV: But the free gift is not like the offense. For if by the one man’s offense many died, MUCH MORE the GRACE of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, JESUS CHRIST, abounded to many.

6. Fullness of grace John 1:16 NIV: Out of His (Jesus’) FULLNESS WE have ALL RECEIVED GRACE in place of GRACE already GIVEN.

If you will, you may please go through the CAPITALISED words above once more. It has been done on purpose!

And look at the most popular gospel song EVER which was written by John Newton and it starts with…Amazing grace

The Welsh revival song of 1905 had these words: Grace and love like mighty rivers… Poured incessant from above. And heaven’s peace and perfect justice – kissed a guilty world in love.

Another popular hymn which goes: “Grace, Grace- God’s grace, Grace that is greater than all my sin! … Marvelous, infinite, matchless grace – Freely bestowed on all who believe… Will you this moment His grace receive?”

Grace defies reason and logic, as Bono (U2) puts it. Love interrupts the consequences of karma (do good get good, do bad get bad philosophy). One Man – Jesus has turned karma upside down.

No longer under fear, we who believe in Jesus, entirely rely on grace – God’s unmerited favour.

In the song of love by Korah in Psalm 45:2, He says of Jesus “You are fairer than the sons of men. Grace is poured out on your lips: therefore God has blessed You forever

How can we demean grace! How can we make it any lesser than what it is? How can we neglect the grace part-which is the greatest part in our salvation? How can a church be, where “grace” has become a word frowned-upon?

I remember the time when I was in Moscow, and we were taken to this shopping place Äashaan. It was called as “gyper-market” in Russian – literally Hyper-market. It was way bigger than the Walmart super-store I saw in Pittsburg, US. Now, if man could devise something “hyper”, why can’t God? Think about it! 🙂

Finally, grace is NOT something that can be explained: it HAS TO be experienced. And may the hyper-grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen.

Hebrews 10:29 NKJV: Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace?

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