Amidst the aftermath of natural catastrophes like the storm, landslides, earthquakes etc, the economic enigma like demonetization and its sequel coupled with flocks of farmers committing suicide down south we have completed a month of the new year that recently blossomed. Injustice exists everywhere. However, instead of questioning or grumbling over such situations, as followers of Christ let us endure besides being active agents in bringing about change that we would like to see.
Prophet Habakkuk had already experienced this pathetic state and has emphatically stated, “Though the fig tree may not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, though the labor of the olive may fail, and the fields yield no food, though the flock may be cut off from the fold, and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation” (Hab 3:17-18). Pure form of gladness which springs only from the Fountain of Israel Who is the Way, Truth and Life can make anyone rejoice (Joh 14:6).
In this connection, the personality of Paul is peculiar - a rare ruby. He was indeed a vessel chosen by Lord Jesus Christ to be an apostle who became everything for everyone so that he could save all those whom he met for the sake of the One who met him on the way to Damascus. The divine intervention was so powerful that he considered his high profile as trash and finally followed the One who revealed Himself to him. Paul had the boldness to praise God even in prison. He was beaten to death but he walked away unhurt. His handkerchief performed miracles. He is the author of half of the books in the New Testaments which are in the form of epistles.
One need not dream of anything if the God of love and peace is with them. We all want to have a close walk with God this year and He also desires to dwell with us. God’s heartbeat is to live with His people. When can we expect God to live with us? Paul in his second letter to the Corinthians briefs this by saying, “Finally, brethren, farewell. Become complete. Be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace, and the God of love and peace will be with you” (2 Cor 13:11).
“Be of good comfort” means living a life of gladness. One of the signs that definitely declare us to be followers of Christ is a face that glows with gladness. A grumpy one belongs to the evil one. David pretended madness before Abimelech, who drove him away. Even while departing from his presence he sings, “I will bless the Lord at all times, His praise shall continually be in my mouth. My soul shall make its boast in the Lord, the humble shall hear of it and be glad” (Psa 34:1-2).
In yet another incident, while contemplating on the treachery of friends, David says “Cast your burden on the Lord, and He shall sustain you; He shall never permit the righteous to be moved” (Psa 55:22). In Hebrew it literally means throw your burden to the Lord. In one of David’s prayer where placing his confidence in final salvation he tells, “As for me, I will see Your face in righteousness; I shall be satisfied when I awake in Your likeness” (Psa 17:15) While expounding about the safety in abiding in the presence of God, El-Elyon – Most High, and Elshadai - Almighty are the two names personified to Jehovah. “He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High, shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty” (Psa 91:1)
Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might (Ephesians 6:10). “Be strong in the Lord” means a life empowered by the Holy Spirit. Resurrected Redeemer says, “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8). Salvation is the first step and being filled by the power of the Holy Spirit follows. In these ends times being filled by the Spirit of excellence is mandatory for everyone who desires to be called a Christian. “For without Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). “ ‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit’ says the Lord of hosts” (Zec 4:6). Jesus Christ has given this authority to His followers and Mark 16:17 can be claimed by all those who are His true disciples.
God of peace promises to be with us when we depart from evil and do what is good. Paul says, “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy – meditate on these things” (Phil 4:8). “Meditate on these things” means living a life of righteousness. Wherever possible replace negative thoughts with positive ones which will propel your life towards betterment.
A sister testified: “Earlier, I murmured that I had too many vessels at home to clean. It was cumbersome and a laborious task that I abhorred. Later, when God showed me families who did not have such basic amenities, I dropped the idea of muttering and started praising God for so many vessels which He has given for my family.” Likewise, we can find ways and means to glorify God and when we do so, there will be no room left for negative virtues like murmuring, grumbling, gossiping and so on. Paul continues to say, “The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you. (Phil 4:8)
Our Lord promises to establish you and guard you from the evil one throughout this year. In the book of Deuteronomy it is stated, “but the land which you cross over to possess is a land of hills and valleys, which drinks water from the rain of heaven, a land for which the Lord your God cares; the eyes of the Lord your God are always on it, from the beginning of the year to the very end of the year” (Deu 11:11-12). God is concerned about the well-being of His children who live on planet earth. His eyes are always upon it.
Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may run swiftly and be glorified…(2 Thes 3:1). “For God’s word to run swiftly and be glorified” means we must have a life of prayer. Prayer alone will cause the enemy to flee. Followers of Christ must consider it a great privilege and a duty of prime importance to spread the word of God. There can be no compromise on this aspect. Everyone is called. The calling may be different but it is the same God who works all in all. Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may run swiftly and be glorified, just as it is with you, and that we may be delivered from unreasonable and wicked men; for not all have faith. But the Lord is faithful, who will establish you and guard you from the evil one. (2 Thes 3:1-3).
Finally sisters and brothers, we are called to be glad which is the inner sign of God dwelling in us. We are chosen to be bold for others to witness that we are strengthened by the power of the Holy Spirit. We are separated to lead a righteous life and spread the word of God with fervent prayers. Then surely the God of love and peace will abide with us always. Amen.