Tuesday, October 29, 2013

You need a lot of grace in marriage

I liked the article  ''Grace at Home (1)'' written by Bob & Debby Gass.

'...But where sin increased, grace increased all the more.' Romans 5:20 NIV

You need a lot of grace in marriage. Even in the best of relationships, things happen that cause misunderstanding and hurt. Speaking about his marriage, therapist Michael Sytsma says: 'Before I was married, God said, "Mike, you have some rough edges. To help you become more Christ-like, I'm giving you Karen. That should do the trick." So he brought Karen...into my life to identify all my shortcomings. My first response when she points out my flaws? Not gratitude! Instead, I strike back: "How dare you point out those things? What's your problem?" Then I have the opportunity of either denying my feelings, or owning them and maturing. And Karen can either harbour anger and resentment, or offer grace and forgiveness. Imagine a marriage filled with grace: a spouse who extends joy, pleasure, sweetness, kind speech and unmerited favour. My wife does that. I'm still working at it.' Here is the first of four ways you can show grace to your spouse: (1) Try to look at it differently. Focus on the positive. If you think your spouse is stubborn, feeling loving toward them is hard. But if you exercise grace and choose to see them as persistent and tenacious, loving them becomes much easier. If they're disorganised, by grace you can choose to see that as a sign they are spontaneous, or creative, or the flexible type, or even over-extended. '...whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable - if anything is excellent or praiseworthy - think about such things.' (Philippians 4:8 NIV) People usually try to live up to the image you hold of them!

Debra K. Fileta of truelovedates.com says: We all think of the deep spiritual and physical benefits of oneness, but do we ever consider these things: One house. One bed. One bathroom. One mirror above the bathroom sink. One bank account. One budget. In marriage, you relearn the preschool lesson of “sharing,” but you learn it in a very non-preschool kind of way. You learn to let go of the mine and yours mentality, because in marriage, everything is truly ours. There’s something really hard, but something really beautiful about that. It’s a reminder that at the end of the day what’s mine is yours…but everything we have, is actually His.

Before you’re married it’s easy to see marriage as the grande finale. It’s the thing we dream of and live for. It’s the force propelling us forward into this destination we call life. And then it finally comes! Now what? There’s this strange moment when you realize that this relationship that God has blessed you with is a fraction of the grand scheme He has for your life. Your purpose and passions will extend far beyond the reach of your relationship with your spouse. Even more exciting, is seeing God at work because of this relationship that He’s given you as the love between you and your spouse is reflected to the world around. Marriage is not the end, it’s only the beginning. God’s got so much more up His sleeve.

John UpChurch in his ‘‘5 Steps to Becoming Marriage Material’’ says:   This is one of my biggest pet-peeves, and also one of my biggest flaws. Although I still struggle with admitting when I am wrong, the struggle is nothing compared to how I once was. Pride can be something that can ruin a friendship or relationship before they even begin. And although not everyone is perfect, nobody wants to be with someone who thinks that they are. The reality of life is that you are going to be wrong sometimes! Even though sometimes it’s really annoying to admit it, confessing your mistakes will show a sense of humility to those around you. Drop the pride. Nobody wants to marry an arrogant know-it-all. Read (Proverbs 11:2)

Abundant Grace - Marriage!

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless.

So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself; for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church.

Ephesians 5:25-29 NASB

Wives, be subject to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them.

Colossians 3:18,19 RSV

Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you; for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble; for in this way the entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be abundantly supplied to you.

2 Peter 1:10,11 NASB

Walk Worthy!

Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

Ephesians 4:1-2 NASB

God wants the fellowship of His people because He wants us to be the very best that we can possibly be. Sometimes, He will put us into situations that seem desperate because God wants us to turn to Him in prayer so that we will grow into better people. We must realize that our challenges and difficulties are never meant to be cruel and punishing – rather, they are given with great love and caring for our own good.

Besides requiring effort, walking implies a destination, a goal. When a person walks, he is moving purposefully to accomplish something regardless of whether it is to flip a light switch, shop at a store, get some exercise, or go to work or school. God requires that we "walk in newness of life." It is our God-appointed goal in life and the reason He invites us into His presence. Our lives cannot consist of aimless drifting; we are headed somewhere, even as Israel's goal was the Promised Land. When you go your own way, you miss the very best part of life. In fact, walking with God is so much better than a worldly life that one day spent in fellowship with God is better than a thousand days out of fellowship with Him.

God bestows upon His followers gifts tailored to each one's ordained assignments. The Holy Spirit reveals our calling, and we're to give our best effort. Of course, no matter what the task may be, the result will be worthless unless the Father breathes life into it. In other words, we are entrusted with God-appointed work. He assigns the duty, provides the skills, and causes growth. The Lord deserves all of the glory. We are blessed simply to be a part of His plan.


Raj Kosaraju

Monday, October 28, 2013

Faith, wisdom, and opportunities

A college student walked into a photography studio with a picture of his girlfriend...

He wanted the picture duplicated...

The owner of the store noticed the inscription on the back of the picture, it said, "My dearest Tom, I love you with all my heart… I love you more & more each day... I will love you forever & ever… I am yours for all eternity..."

It was signed "Diane," and it contained a P.S.: "If we ever break up, I want this picture back..."

Friends, when Christ calls us and we follow Him, there’s no “PS” with Christ… You’re His and He’s yours...

It’s a serious commitment. There’s no turning back.

As you and I come into contact with the world, we are going to become defiled. We don’t need a bath all over. We are already saved. But each day we must ask God to search our hearts and cleanse us from our sins. 

On the surface, it is pretty difficult to explain why you believe in God. No one has seen Him face-to-face, touched Him, or smelled Him, yet His fingerprints are everywhere. You must get beneath the surface where the intangible becomes tangible. God is made visible through Jesus Christ. Paul writes that Jesus is "the image of the invisible God" (v. 15). If you want to know about God, learn about Jesus. If you want to see God, look at Jesus. If you want to please God, follow Jesus. He is God in the flesh!

No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him.
(John 1:18)

"Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on My own authority; but the Father who dwells in Me does the works. Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father in Me, or else believe Me for the sake of the works themselves. Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father. And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son."
(John 14:10-13)

We sin in a similar way when we place our security in money, possessions, or the strength of our nation. There will be days when things don't just go wrong, they self-destruct totally. When we feel we've gone as low as we possible can, something else comes along to drive us deeper still. From those depths there is only one place to turn: God. He has seen all, He knows how you feel, and He patiently waits to take you into His arms to comfort and soothe you. When we feel pushed beyond our ability to cope, it is good to know God is there.

The reality is, when someone is suffering we don’t know what they’re going through. Even if we have experienced similar circumstances as a person who is suffering we don’t process the world the way they do. And we don’t have the same personal history, biological makeup, or support system. When someone is going through the meat grinder we can only know a tiny portion of what they are really experiencing.

Our limited ability to know the suffering of others is what makes 2 Corinthians 7:6 so precious. It says, “But God, who comforts the downcast….”

Jesus knows us fully. He knows our strengths and weaknesses, our family history, our biological makeup, our worldview. He knows every nook and cranny of us. He knows us better than we know ourselves. And he also knows suffering on an intense, personal level. Jesus’ knowledge of suffering is not abstract, ivory tower, textbook knowledge. Jesus was a man of sorrows. He was mocked, betrayed, and humiliated. As he hung on the cross he was cut off from the Father. Jesus knew excruciating, overwhelming, crushing sorrow.

The combination of Jesus’ omniscience and personal experience with deep suffering perfectly equip him to comfort us in our own suffering. He really does know what we’re going through, and he is ready to comfort us when we are downcast. He doesn’t leave us to muddle and slog through suffering on our own. He doesn’t tell us to suck it up, buck up, and get up. He meets us in our downcast state and pours out grace upon us.

Suffering tempts us to withdraw from God when in reality we should press hard into God. Are you downcast? Are you suffering? Do you feel like you’ve been chewed up and spit out? Do you feel like butter scraped over too much bread? Draw near to the God who comforts the downcast. Draw near to the God who knows you exactly and knows exactly what you need. Draw near in your weakness and weariness and ready-to-call-it-quits-ness.

So what is the role of works in our lives? Are we allowed to simply live however we want and abuse the grace of God? Certainly not! We’re told by the apostle Paul in today’s verse that good works are a product of our salvation. Faith alone saves, but the faith that saves is not alone!

Because of our salvation, God has given us the amazing title of His workmanship… those who are created to do good works. So as you live a life of faith, let your works be evidence of the new life within you!

  “Please let me be healthy, please let me find a job, please let my car not break down.”These are things everyone prays for, but what happens when we grow so concerned about our lives that we forget to ask God for more faith, or wisdom, or opportunities to exercise His Grace? Walking with Christ means balancing the physical with the spiritual, because while our bodies were made for this world, our spirits were made for somewhere else.

The realm of Christ’s reign covers everything that happens in heaven and on the earth. No one—not even those who deny His existence—can be free of His rule or outside His sphere of authority. Although Satan tries to convince us that liberty is found in doing what we want, true freedom is acquired only through submission to Christ’s loving lordship.

Even death cannot release anyone from the authority of God’s Son. He is Lord of both the living and the dead. All people must decide to either yield or rebel against Him, but they have the opportunity to make this choice only while they are still living. After death, they will acknowledge Christ’s lordship through accountability to Him. If we have not bowed the knee to Jesus in life, we will be forced to bend it in the judgment.

We become better, greater, and deserving of even more blessings. Prayer is the greatest change agent that there is. When we pray, we think about what is truly important to us and we regret all of the mistakes that we have made; we pledge to move forward with greater appreciation for what we have and determination to be better people.

We don’t pray to God so that He will change His mind. We pray to God so that we will change – and if we change, our situation can change.


Raj Kosaraju

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Who Lives in Unapproachable Light

How can a believer be a partner with an unbeliever? (See 2 Corinthians 6:15)

Many people today, in the name of interfaith and multiculturalism, misinterpret the “Love thy neighbor” command of the Bible (Leviticus 19:18; Matthew 22:39). Instead of helping unbelievers embrace salvation through Jesus (thus obeying the Great Commission Jesus gave us to make disciples, teaching them to obey him – Matthew 28:18-20), they embrace whatever non-Christians believe. They adopt a policy of “live and let live.” They think that there are many ways to reach God and that perhaps Jesus is also among other paths. This deliberately devalues the uniqueness of what Jesus said: “No one can come to the Father but through me” (John 14:6).  Such an attitude or interpretation is an obvious indication of breaking the Covenant with God. In fact, it amounts to spiritual treason on the part of those who call themselves followers of Christ. Such views and behavior desecrate the Divine Truth and actively encourage others to do so as well, thus paving the way for eternal destruction. (1)

Jesus commands us to love one another as He loves us (John 13:34). If God is impartial and loves us with impartiality, then we need to love others with that same high standard. Jesus teaches in Matthew 25 that whatever we do to the least of His brothers, we do to Him. If we treat a person with contempt, we are mistreating a person created in God’s image; we are hurting somebody whom God loves and for whom Jesus died.

Malcolm Gladwell authored a secular marketing book entitled Tipping Point. A tipping point is when an idea, product or movement becomes accepted by the masses. Gladwell says "It is the best way to understand the emergence of fashion trends, crime waves, or unknown books becoming bestsellers." He says ideas, products, messages and behaviors spread just like viruses do but he has discovered there are usually three types of people involved in the marketing process for this to happen. He calls them connectors, mavens, and salesmen.

Connectors are people with a special gift for bringing the world together. They know lots of people who have an ability to make impact.

Mavens are people who accumulate knowledge about a particular area. They are information brokers who like to get information and share it with others to help solve their problems.

Salesmen have an ability to persuade when we are unconvinced of what we are hearing. They are critical to the tipping point for word-of-mouth epidemics.

I believe these three people correlate to the apostle (connectors), often defined as "one who is sent"; the prophet (mavens), defined as 'one who proclaims truth" and the evangelist (salesmen), "one who wins the lost" - all described in Ephesians 4:11. (2) 

For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Hebrews 4:12 NIV

Atheism cannot be proven, and God’s existence must be accepted by faith. Obviously, Christians believe strongly that God exists, and admit that God’s existence is a matter of faith. At the same time, we reject the idea that belief in God is illogical. We believe that God’s existence can be clearly seen, keenly sensed, and proven to be philosophically and scientifically necessary. “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world” (Psalm 19:1-4).

But anyone who's committed to living a godly life must be willing to stand alone and face ridicule or even persecution (2 Tim. 3:12). At other times, we consent to activities that violate our conscience just to avoid conflict, but peace at any price means we have to sacrifice obedience to God.

However, the temptation to compromise doesn't always originate with others. In fact, James 1:14 says we are tempted when we're carried away by our own lusts. How many Christians have fallen into sexual immorality or pornography by desiring a second look? Greed is another motivation that drives us to compromise. If you fudge on your income tax or take a few things home from the office, you've stepped over the line of obedience to God. Our choices should be based on scriptural truth, not on our feelings and desires.

In order to stand firm against compromise, we must make God's Word the standard for our conduct. If you begin each day with the Lord in His Word, He will guide your way. Then when the Spirit gives a warning, obey immediately, because giving consideration to the temptation opens a door for Satan.

6 But godliness with contentment is great gain. 7 For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. 8 But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. 9 Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.11 But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. 12 Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses. 13 In the sight of God, who gives life to everything, and of Christ Jesus, who while testifying before Pontius Pilate made the good confession, I charge you 14 to keep this command without spot or blame until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 which God will bring about in his own time—God, the blessed and only Ruler, the King of kings and Lord of lords, 16 who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see. To him be honor and might forever. Amen.

17 Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. 18 Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. 19 In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life. (1 Timothy 6)

The Lord gives us all the ability to rise above the things that limit us. If we will only lean upon Him, He will give us the will and drive to succeed in every situation. His power can be our power when we call upon His holy name.


  (1)  Jesus to Muslims , Dr. Steven Masood, www.jesustomuslims.com 
  (2)  Tipping Point by Os Hillman, Marketplace Leaders.


Raj Kosaraju

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Walking requires effort

Benjamin Franklin once decided to become morally perfect. He chose 13 qualities he felt embodied moral perfection and tried to perfect one a week - at the end of 13 weeks he would be morally perfect. He failed, yet later wrote he had become a much better man for trying and failing than if he had never tried at all. Our situation with the Lord is similar. We will never become morally perfect, as Paul writes, but we can experience maturation as we grow into the image of Christ.

Many people find no satisfaction in the work they do. Their lives lack purpose and meaning. Christians have an alternative source of meaning in their lives. If a Christian does a job, no matter how large or small, to God's glory, then that person will find satisfaction. God doesn't much care what we do, but He is always interested in how we do our jobs. If we do our work without grumbling and with a joyful heart, then we are witnessing to His power in our lives and we are pleasing to Him.

Daniel Kolenda in one of his Bible studies: What If I’ve Already Missed the Will of God? says,
 I love Lamentations 3:22-23: “The Lord’s lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness” (nas). God’s mercy is truly an unfathomable wonder. Often we have a difficult time wrapping our minds around the scope of God’s grace, but it is true—His mercy is new every morning! Every day is a new day. God is willing to forgive and offer us another chance every single day.

One of the most exciting developments of our day is GPS (global positioning satellite) technology. These amazing GPS devices have the capacity to navigate someone, with audible instructions, from wherever they are in the world to within a few feet of anywhere else on the globe they desire to be. One of the wonderful things about GPS devices is that they are full of grace and mercy. If the driver misses a turn, the GPS doesn’t begin to scream, “You stupid idiot. I told you to turn. You missed it! That’s it. Find your own way home. I quit!” It simply says in a calm voice, “Recalculating,” and then begins to plot another course that will correct the mistake. I did hear of one person who, after having missed a turn, heard his GPS say, “Go straight ahead three hundred twenty-four miles and then turn right.” Those kinds of instructions from a GPS are rare, but even if the driver had followed that unusual command, eventually the GPS would have gotten that person back to the place where he wanted to go.

When we miss a turn in our negligence, ignorance, presumption, or rebellion, if we will stop, acknowledge our sin, ask for forgiveness, repent, and receive God’s grace for a fresh start, we will hear the gentle and gracious voice of the Good Shepherd saying to our hearts, “Recalculating.” He will then assign a new course that will get us back on track. It may take extra time and effort. It may be long and painful. It may even require that we “continue straight ahead three hundred twenty-four miles” before the next turn. But that turnaround will come if we keep following Him. God is a master at turning mourning into dancing and creating beauty from ashes.

Walking requires effort, the expending of energy, to arrive at a desired destination. Are any works involved in the salvation process? "For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them" (Ephesians 2:10). These works most assuredly do not earn salvation, but at the same time, God requires them. In fact, this verse says we are being created for the very purpose of doing them! Such works are covered within the general term "walk."

Besides requiring effort, walking implies a destination, a goal. When a person walks, he is moving purposefully to accomplish something regardless of whether it is to flip a light switch, shop at a store, get some exercise, or go to work or school. God requires that we "walk in newness of life." It is our God-appointed goal in life and the reason He invites us into His presence. Our lives cannot consist of aimless drifting; we are headed somewhere, even as Israel's goal was the Promised Land.

When you go your own way, you miss the very best part of life. In fact, walking with God is so much better than a worldly life that one day spent in fellowship with God is better than a thousand days out of fellowship with Him. 

Honor is misplaced unless it goes directly to the One who creates, sanctifies, and sustains. God created you for specific tasks to further His kingdom. He wants to use your life--and will allow you to watch His powerful hand at work. Listen for His leading, and praise Him for all He accomplishes.


Raj Kosaraju

Friday, October 25, 2013

Selfish Christianity

Selfishness is the source of most interpersonal conflict. Someone is taking something from us (materially, emotionally, socially, etc.) that we don't want to give, and we fight to keep or gain our desires. Unselfishness is the source of most interpersonal harmony. Think about the people you really like - even famous people you don't know personally. Usually the reason you like them is because they are gracious and kind, and give of themselves. If you want to be a harmonious, likable person, you must be unselfish.

Charles Stanley in his article ''Selfish Christianity'' says: Think honestly about this question: Which interests you more—who Jesus is or what He can do for you? I’m afraid that too many of us are more concerned about what the Lord can give us than we are about getting to know who He is.
But this is nothing new—Jesus had the same problem when He walked on earth. The crowds often sought Him out for what He could do for them. Even though their needs were quite often legitimate, Christ knew their motives.
There is a fine line between selfishly trying to use the Lord to get what we want and humbly coming to Him with our needs and struggles. Some of the issues we bring to Him are so pressing and urgent in our minds that our desire for Him to take action in the way we want becomes greater than our willingness to submit to His will. At times, what we call “faith” is really a demanding spirit.
We must remember that our earthly needs will come to an end, but Jesus Christ will remain forever. If our prayers have dealt only with presenting our requests to the Lord, then we are missing a great opportunity to get to know the One with whom we are going to spend all eternity. Let’s invest time in pursuing intimacy with the great God who created us. Then we can enjoy all the benefits of that relationship forever.

Think of what you’re missing when you don’t put God first in your life!

When you go your own way, you miss the very best part of life. In fact, walking with God is so much better than a worldly life that one day spent in fellowship with God is better than a thousand days out of fellowship with Him.

Someone who has not experienced the joy of God’s blessing and favor and presence cannot fathom this. To them the Christian life is just a bunch of don’ts and a hard slog of battling to do better.

But we who have experienced a close relationship with God know that Christianity is not about “doing better” but about knowing and loving God and experiencing His loving presence. What could be better than that? Nothing!

God does not show partiality or favoritism (Deuteronomy 10:17; Acts 10:34; Romans 2:11; Ephesians 6:9), and neither should we. James 2:4 describes those who discriminate as “judges with evil thoughts.” Instead, we are to love our neighbors as ourselves (James 2:8). In the Old Testament, God divided humanity into two “racial” groups: Jews and Gentiles. God’s intent was for the Jews to be a kingdom of priests, ministering to the Gentile nations. Instead, for the most part, the Jews became proud of their status and despised the Gentiles. Jesus Christ put an end to this, destroying the dividing wall of hostility (Ephesians 2:14). All forms of racism, prejudice, and discrimination are affronts to the work of Christ on the cross.

As GotQuestions states, "The evidence of a true Christian is displayed in both faith and action. “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” (2 Corinthians 5:17). James says, “I will show you my faith by my works” (James 2:18). Jesus put it this way: “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12). A true Christian will show his faith by how he lives. Despite the wide variety of beliefs that fall under the general “Christian” label today, the Bible defines a true Christian as one who has personally received Jesus Christ as Savior, who trusts in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ alone for forgiveness of sins, who has the Holy Spirit residing within, and whose life evinces change consistent with faith in Jesus."

We are supposed to care who says they are a Christian because Christians are supposed to have the truth of Jesus in us and abide by the Spirit. If we do then we're brethren, and we build each other up, pray for each other, and help each other. If they are not, we know to evangelize them with our words, witness to them with our lives, and separate from them in our spirit. Mindlessly accepting everyone who utters "Jesus" like a magic password, blurs those lines and foils the notion that we are supposed to be separate, holding onto the only truth in a dying world of relativism. This unwillingness to engage in what is at root a problem of discernment is the number one problem in the church.

The Christian life is a battle of the sinful flesh against the new nature given by Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17). As fallen human beings, we are still trapped in a body that desires sinful things (Romans 7:14-25). As Christians, we have the Holy Spirit producing His fruit in us and we have the Holy Spirit's power available to conquer the acts of the sinful nature (2 Corinthians 5:17; Philippians 4:13). A Christian will never be completely victorious in always demonstrating the fruits of the Holy Spirit. It is one of the main purposes of the Christian life, though, to progressively allow the Holy Spirit to produce more and more of His fruit in our lives—and to allow the Holy Spirit to conquer the opposing sinful desires. The fruit of the Spirit is what God desires our lives to exhibit and, with the Holy Spirit's help, it is possible!


Raj Kosaraju