What you need today above everything else is peace

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Is there something troubling you today? Is it something to do with your health, or with the health of someone in your family? Perhaps it’s a problem in your job or business? Is it the relationship with your spouse? Or some problem your child is having? Or is it a general anxiety about the world situation today? Or is it that you need money for something urgent, and you just don’t have it and don’t know where you will get it from? Or could it be it is a secret sin you are struggling to overcome?

Listen, dear child of God. If you are going through one or more of the problems I mentioned earlier, I have an encouragement for you today that can bring you what you need above everything else right now. Many preachers give encouragement from their knowledge of God’s Word, but in many cases they do not speak from their personal experience. Which is quite ok. You can’t expect every preacher to experience directly what they preach about. The testimony of God’s Word is more than enough for them. But when a preacher occasionally gives you an encouragement from his direct experience of it, then I think there is an extra dimension of comfort and assurance in it.

I have gone through all the problems I mentioned in the beginning, plus some. And I have gone through them all in severe intensity, sometimes to such an extent that but for God’s timely intervention, death and destruction would have devastated my family. So please listen carefully, for I have an encouragement for you, if there’s something in your life today that is taking your peace away.

Perhaps you had been praying fervently for some time and nothing happened, and you feel it is useless continuing to pray as earnestly as you had been doing. Nothing may have happened in response to your prayer yet, but here’s how you will surely receive your answer — DON’T GIVE UP! Don’t give up praying for a miraculous deliverance. Never, never, never give up praying fervently for a miraculous deliverance! Because that’s exactly what the Enemy wants you to do. If you don’t give up praying for deliverance, then your answer is surely on the way. The delay in God’s answering you is purposeful. It is creating in you a steadfastness that only serious problems can produce in you. Continue asking fervently, perseveringly, and surely one of two kinds of deliverances will come to you.

This is the first kind of deliverance:  God will remove the problem that is troubling you by a miraculous intervention. Your healing will come, or your money will appear from an unexpected source, or something else will happen that will end the problem.

The second kind of deliverance is, the problem will not go away soon, and you will have to just endure it until it goes away by itself. Sometimes the problem may continue your whole life. If you had prayed fervently and the problem continues on and on, then that is EXACTLY what God wants you to go through. Just as he wanted Paul to experience the pain of a thorn in his flesh for his entire life, though Paul prayed for his deliverance from it repeatedly.  2 Cor 12:8-9  When permanent UNdeliverance is God’s answer to your prayer, then keep this truth in the forefront of your mind: He may allow your trouble to go on for a long time, or even for a lifetime, BUT ONLY AFTER HE HAS PROVIDED YOU THE MIRACULOUS STRENGTH FOR IT.

Remember this promise of your Savior whenever you begin to worry that you don’t have the strength to endure your trouble :

No temptation [regardless of its source] has overtaken or enticed you that is not common to human experience [nor is any temptation unusual or beyond human resistance]; but God is faithful [to His word—He is compassionate and trustworthy], and He will not let you be tempted beyond your ability [to resist], but along with the temptation He [has in the past and is now and] will [always] provide the way out as well, so that you will be able to endure it [without yielding, and will overcome temptation with joy].   1 Cor 10:13 AMP

When I look back at nearly 50 years of various troubles I and my wife went through, I see that both kinds of deliverances have happened to us. I can’t say the exact proportion, but probably in the case of about half of our troubles, we were delivered out of them miraculously, and in the other half, we were delivered THROUGH them miraculously. Some of the troubles have continued to afflict us to this day even after nearly half a century since they began. But we have perfect peace in these troubles. We can easily endure them.

It is this peace that my wife and I are enjoying today that I want you too to be blessed with.  The way to that peace is simple, but it requires a firm decision on your part.  This is the way: First, don’t give up praying for a miraculous deliverance, and, second, don’t give up expecting God to deliver you miraculously in one of the two ways he always delivers his people from troubles.

Pour out your heart to him. Take ALL your troubles, bundle them into a sack and then, on your knees, throw them upon your Deliverer. That’s exactly the way the Bible tells you to do it. Listen to this verse.

Casting the whole of your care [all your anxieties, all your worries, all your concerns, once and for all] on Him, for He cares for you affectionately and cares about you watchfully.   1 Pe 5:7 AMP

The word ‘casting’ in Greek literally means ‘throw upon, place upon’. The trouble that you throw upon him then becomes his personal trouble.

That’s what George Muller, one of the greatest servants of God, did, when he was pressed down with the burden of caring for ten thousand orphans. When asked how he could be so calm in the middle of a hectic day with so many uncertainties at the orphanage, George Muller answered, ‘I rolled sixty things onto the Lord this morning’. Now that great burden was off his shoulders, and was on God’s shoulders.

Precious child of God, who is going through some trouble right now, don’t give up praying for a miraculous deliverance.  Every morning when you get up, and every night before you go to bed, roll all your anxieties one by one into a sack, and then, while on your knees, throw them all upon the Lord. Trust this encouragement from your Lord:

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.  Phil 4:6 NLT

And this is what is going to happen to you if you do that:

Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.  Phil 4:7 NLT

 

Pappa Joseph

 

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You will remain trapped in your troubles…until you surrender unconditionally – Part 1

Surrender of Republican Soldiers, Somosierra, Madrid 1936

 

In warfare there is a conditional surrender and there is an unconditional surrender of one party to the other. Conditional surrender is usually called a truce. The two warring factions negotiate a ceasefire by each conceding something to the other, with the stronger faction demanding more concessions than offering.

I don’t know if there is any truce made in the history of mankind which was permanent. Sooner or later, the two parties will resume their hostilities, until one of them reaches such a state of defeat, and the other such a state of conquest, that the latter demands an unconditional surrender and the former is forced to submit absolutely to the other or be further devastated by the enemy. The defeated party realizes that they have only two choices: give up everything to the victor and hope that at least their lives and some basic essentials of their livelihood are spared, or be absolutely destroyed by their enemy.

Many times in history, including in many of the wars mentioned in the Bible, the vanquisher is not willing to accept even the absolute surrender of the defeated party, but destroys them completely. So actually, for the conquered, absolute surrender is a mercy shown by the conqueror. Even if they have left nothing else, the enemy has allowed them to keep their most precious possession – their lives.

The Christian life, says various scriptures in the Bible, is a constant warfare. Against the arch enemy, Satan, and his evil hordes, against his human agents, and against the deadly temptations he throws at God’s people. A person who has decided to follow Christ understands that this is an unavoidable part of his Christian experience and accepts it. This is what our good preachers exhort us to do, reiterating Paul’s admonition to ‘fight the good fight’, and that ‘we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places’.  1 Tm 6:12; Ep 6:12

A serious error committed by many preachers is that their exhortation to fight and wrestle refers, in 99 percent of their messages, to battling the enemy – Satan, the world, and the temptations lurking within us. In my entire life so far, having been exhorted to a surfeit with battle messages from the captains of our souls, I have found only four or five preachers who told me that the far greater battle is with God our Savior. The only wrestling with God they sometimes mention is the one where he had to put Jacob’s thigh out of joint to end the bout.

As in all battles that the Lord fights, in victory he is far more merciless and unrelenting in his terms for unconditional surrender than those of most human vanquishers. He demands nothing less than the giving up of all the vanquished’s possessions except the clothes he or she wears and es daily food, and submitting to him as an abject slave.

Actually, our battle with God, unlike other battles, does not involve defeating the enemy, obviously because God is not our enemy. Let me start from the basics about this battle.

It is not generally emphasized in the Christian salvation message that the first experience of the true Christian life is a tragic death. Too many people of God realize this only years after they repent and are baptized. Sadly, not many baptizers tell them this fundamental fact of the Christian life before they dip the repentant ones into the watery grave. Oswald Chambers, in his widely used inspirational book, My Utmost For His Highest, says,

If we get away from dwelling on the tragedy of God on the Cross in our preaching, our preaching produces nothing. It will not transmit the energy of God to man; it may be interesting, but it will have no power.

It is the same tragedy of God on the Cross that is replayed in the God-child’s life, starting with es repentance. At repentance, a person realizes that he or she has broken God’s law, and that the penalty of sin is death. But what many who repent do not initially realize is that the baptism that follows es death is the symbol of es inward death – a death that comes at a cost and pain far exceeding the pain of a physical death. No man can naturally die such a death. The man convicted of sin realizes there is absolutely no way he or she can obey God by the keeping of all his commandments. E knows that if e breaks just one of them, e breaks them all Jm 2:10 and is condemned.

The moral law…simply demands that we be absolutely moral…The moral law, ordained by God, does not make itself weak to the weak by excusing our shortcomings. It remains absolute for all time and eternity. If we are not aware of this, it is because we are less than alive. Once we do realize it, our life immediately becomes a fatal tragedy. “I was alive once without the law, but when the commandment came, sin revived and I died”.  Rm 7:9

Let me go from the words of that great man of God, Oswald Chambers, to the words of Jesus himself.

What did Jesus say is the first step to following him, to becoming a Christian? Getting prepared to die a painful death! Not a sentimental emotional kind of death, where the repenter feels he is a new person in Christ and his past life with all its sins is now buried under water at baptism. Jesus meant a death that, I repeat again, involves a dying process that is more painful than that of a physical death caused by an accident or illness.

Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me”.  Mt 16:24

If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple. And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.  Lk 14:26-27

If you desire to follow Christ, the first step is to take up the cross. And what does taking up the cross mean? It has come to mean to most people, taking up a heavy burden or enduring a difficult trial. Jesus did not mince his words, ‘whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me…’ Taking up the cross means taking it up exactly in the same attitude as Jesus took it up, and then following in his footsteps until, after a short distance, you give up your life.

When Jesus took up the cross, it was the absolute confirmation he was going to die in a matter of hours. You don’t take up the cross, then realize you are going to die, lay it down, and go back to your old life. You have to count the cost of what you are about to do. You have to realize that when you repent and are baptized you are confirming to God that, if he so requires, you are willing to give up everything you desired and held most precious in life – even your wife or husband and children – for the one Person who is desirable above all the others in your life. Yes, you have to sit down and literally count the cost of what you are about to do.

For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it – lest, after he has laid the foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish’? Or what king, going to make war against another king, does not sit down first and consider whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? Or else, while the other is still a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks conditions of peace. So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple.  Lk 14:28-33

In most cases, God does not require the surrendered person to ‘forsake all’ immediately. What he requires above all is an attitude of willingness to give up all. The word ‘does not’ in the original Greek is ouk and it is the same word used a little later in the same sentence for ‘cannot’ in the phrase ‘cannot be my disciple’. So what Jesus meant is that, to follow him, a disciple should always have the attitude that if any of his possessions and relationships is a hindrance to his following Christ, he can forsake all to follow him. This obviously is what Jesus meant, because Peter and some other apostles did not forsake their wives when they went preaching Christ.  1 Cor 9:5

As I said, no person can naturally give up all es possessions and hand over es life to Christ in his or her own strength. But with God’s grace, with his power working in em, all things are possible for em that God requires of em.

And again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” When His disciples heard it, they were greatly astonished, saying, “Who then can be saved?” But Jesus looked at them and said to them, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”  Mt 19:24-26

With God’s help, even the billionaires in today’s world can enter the Kingdom of God. So don’t worry at all about your ability to give up what God requires you to give up to follow him. If he wants you to give up something most precious to you, but which is hindering you from the Kingdom of God, he will first equip you mentally, emotionally and spiritually to be able to give up that most precious possession and only then expect you to give it up. And remember, whatever precious blessing he takes away from you now – perhaps a relationship, perhaps your family, your house, your land, perhaps even your health – you will inherit that very same blessing a hundredfold someday in your life.  Mt 19:29

So where do you stand today in following Christ?

Today, you are in one of these two states: you have completely surrendered your life to Christ, taken up his cross and are following him; or you are still resisting giving up certain things in your life which are hindering you from surrendering your life completely to God. And if you are not sure in which state you are now, there are sure ways to know that.


You have to realize that when you repent and are baptized you are confirming to God that, if he so requires, you are willing to give up everything you desired and held most precious in life – even your wife or husband and children – for the one Person who is desirable above all the others in your life.


If your life is not fully surrendered to the will of God, there are definite fruits, or symptoms, of this unsurrender manifesting in your thoughts, words and actions. I will mention some of the prominent ones.

I think, from my personal experience, the most deadly of the symptoms of living an unsurrendered life is fear. Not just fear of one kind or in one area, but fear of every sort in almost every area of your life. It could be fear of premature death happening to you or to your loved ones; it could be fear of being overcome by a powerful temptation; it could be insecurity, that is, fear of not having enough resources to support yourself and your family either because of losing your job or losing some other resource that is now serving to prop you up; it could be fear for the safety of your children; it could be…think of the fears lurking deep within you constantly.

For some unsurrendered people, more deadly than their greatest fear is a symptom called depression. In my own life, I cannot tell which was more deadly and frightening – the times I lived in great fear, or the occasions a terrible depression enveloped me in its dark and morbid pits. If depression is not a big symptom in your life, then perhaps its lesser version called ‘having the blues’, or ‘feeling low’ or ‘being down in the dumps’, ‘being moody’ could be a frequent and persistent demon in your life.

Other symptoms could be: short temper or sudden outbursts of rage; some form of addiction from which you could never free yourself so far; some terrible secret sin – perhaps some perversion – you may be committing regularly; resentment and unforgiveness at the people who have done you wrong or hurt you; suspicion; jealousy…and more.

Less obvious symptoms include: suppressed frustration that your life is not moving in the direction you want; tension and pressure in your job; lack of zeal and zest in your daily activities; workaholism, lethargy; constant fatigue though there is nothing physically wrong with you.

There are far more symptoms in the life of an unsurrendered person than what I have mentioned above. The symptoms, whatever they are, are deadly in their eventual consequences.

Now let me mention some of the fruits of a life fully surrendered to God.

Just as the greatest fruit of unsurrender is fear, the greatest fruit of surrendering your life completely to Christ is freedom from fear. When you are freed from fear, then another fruit keeps growing fast in every area of your life: peace. Just as the entrance of light drives away darkness from every nook and corner of the lighted area, the entrance of Christ’s peace in your life drives away every fear lurking deep in the recesses of your mind.

Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.  Jn 14:27

A surrendered person can never be overcome by depression. He would certainly get moments of low feelings, perhaps even actual depressions, now and then – as I have experienced and continue to experience occasionally – but these dark demons are never able to shake the rock base of es daily peace and joy of living. Depression, while it may cast its old ugly shadow over em occasionally, will never again be able to influence the thoughts and actions of the one who has surrendered totally to Christ.

Since my surrender to Christ – twelve years ago at the time of writing this – depression stalked me and tried to overwhelm me two or three times, and for a while I could feel the horrible clouds of gloom and despondency hovering menacingly over me, desperate to envelop me. But that’s as far as depression could come close to my life. I know my mind can never be overpowered by depression – and that’s only because Christ, ever shining brightly in within me, can never be overpowered by any dark force.  What affects me from outside actually affects him and he knows how to respond to it effectively. I was three times held for several weeks, once upto two months – in some of the dankest and frighteningly depressing places on earth.  In the dungeons of Arabia, where I was shackled along with murderers and psychopaths as punishment for not being able to repay on time some debts I had incurred by my naive financial dealings in those days. Yet, as painful as my experience was, I never felt depressed or frightened, whereas even a fraction of that experience in my pre-surrendered days could have drastically altered my whole personality for worse. I know of one man, a confident and ambitious executive, who had to spend one month in the same prison. He came out a totally different person, totally broken in spirit, his countenance and outlook in life altered, and no more able to speak or deal cheerfully with his wife and other family members like he used to do before he was incarcerated.

Depression, along with fear, is the most deadly fruit of unsurrender to God.

Depression is for those who don’t know what’s the purpose of their lives. They dont know where they are eventually headed. I know with absolute certainty what my life purpose is, and I know with absolute clarity where my life is headed. I know with absolute certainty that what is happening each moment in my life is that Christ is living his life in my surrendered body, and I know with absolute certainty that he knows what will happen to my life at any time and I need not worry a bit about it. I would not exchange this peace for literally any other happiness or blessing in this life. Or rather, I would not exchange this peace even for my own life, for I don’t fear death in the least anymore.

This fruit of peace alone is worth all the surrender in a person’s life. But that’s not all.

Another fruit that the person who has handed his or her life over to God will experience is a growing amazement at, and love for, the Law of God. The Law of God is summed up in the 10 Commandments and expounded in the various testimonies, statutes and precepts given in the Bible. And this love of God’s Law further reinforces and increases the fruit of peace in him. He will declare, as the psalmist did,

Oh, how I love Your law! It is my meditation all the day.  Ps 119:97

As he grows in loving and keeping all the laws of God, his assurance of divine protection in all his ways will keep him calm in any adverse situation, which in the case of an unsurrendered person would cause him to stumble and fall into a deep pit of devastation.

Great peace have those who love your law, and nothing causes them to stumble.   Ps 119:165

The second part of that verse in the original Hebrew literally is ‘they have no stumbling block’.

The surrendered child of God finds that there is no more room for panic or desperation in es life, no matter how terrifying the outward situation may seem. Es confidence in God’s presence always at es right hand is rock firm and e remains unshaken until e is out of the danger.

I have set the Lord always before me; because He is at my right hand I shall not be moved.  Ps 16:8

He or she will see that the danger that came to cause em to stumble has stumbled itself and fallen into destruction.

The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? When the wicked came against me to eat up my flesh, my enemies and foes, they stumbled and fell. Though an army may encamp against me, my heart shall not fear; though war may rise against me in this I will be confident.  Ps 27:1-3

This message, already so long, will not end even after a hundred pages if I were to write more of the fruits of a surrendered life. But I will close this part with one more fruit of the fully surrendered life, a fruit that brings goosebumps and adds immeasurable thrill to my personal life every single day. I don’t have a dictionary name for it, but I call it variously as the ‘Wonder Years’ or the ‘Wonder Moments’.

A child between the ages of six and ten begins to explore and discover all of nature around em. A first sight of a grasshopper, a wildflower in full blossom that e has never seen before, a multicolored bird on the lemon tree outside es bedroom, es first gaze at a star-spangled night sky – everything he or she sees, hears, and feels is a ‘wonder’ experience for em – that is, it brings an overflowing sense of wonderment in em.

In my younger days, I used to occasionally watch a tv series called ‘The Wonder Years’. It was about an eleven- or twelve-year-old boy discovering one by one life’s wondrous experiences. And that exactly is how a person who has abandoned emself totally to  Christ feels every single day – even when he or she is going through big troubles. E ponders what e sees and experiences of God’s creation and feels a continual sense of amazement at God’s handiwork. E contemplates the institution of the relationship between man and woman, between parent and child, between God and man, and cannot cease praising God for his creative abilities, and above all for his love that caused him to make all these things for man in the first place.

No matter how old a person is when he or she surrenders es life to es Creator, e will start feeling the Wonder Years in em from the very year e begins to follow Christ in unconditional surrender. His or her youthfulness is renewed in es spirit and emotions to such an extent that even physical youths will find it hard to match es zeal and vigor of daily living.

Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall, but those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like an eagle, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.  Is 40:30-31

Yep, the renewed man or woman feels e is soaring high through life like a swiftly gliding eagle under the skies. Yep, the youthful person, even in his or her senior years, can run and not feel weary, and, oh yes, e can walk with a spring to es steps, and not faint even if e treks eight kilometers up a mountain trail without stopping to rest, as I did a few weeks ago in my sixty-eighth year.

The fully surrendered person feels so youthful he or she wants to take up new hobbies and recreations which seemed daunting or wearisome activities to em in es earlier life. I got a guitar at the age of thirteen, and I would strum on it now and then and try to learn a few chords. I never could summon the perseverance and stamina to sit through a proper training course to learn this instrument. Then, in my fifty-eighth year, I picked up a guitar again, after doing so in vain nearly half a century earlier. I was not a whit better in producing some pleasant sounds from the instrument than I was five decades ago. But this time, with the Holy Spirit as my encourager, I persevered and learned my first scale. Soon, amazing things were happening to my fingers and my muses. Within a year, I was composing original melodies, and even attempting to shred in the style of guitar virtuosos like Yngwie Malmsteen. Today, I consider my ability to play the guitar one of the great accomplishments in my life, a skill which I began to acquire in my senior years. Indeed, those who wait on the Lord shall mount up with strings like the Eagles; they shall strum and not be weary; they shall shred and not fail.

Praise God for his wonder life in his surrendered children!

 

Pappa Joseph

 

End of Part 1 of ‘You will be trapped in your troubles…until you surrender unconditionally’.  Click here to go to Part 2.

 

 

Be Always Prepared to Live the Basic Life

What would you do when a disaster strikes your place and there is no electricity, water, basic facilities? No home. No food.

We are living in a global civilization today that makes daily living convenient for the average person more than at any other time since the first human community formed. How many of us, on turning a faucet handle, pause to gaze at the wonder that is pouring out of the spout? When I was a teen, such a sight would have been a real wonder for me, at a time when the latest technology in my village was a pulley on my well to make drawing water easy. In those days we never sat on a ceramic commode but over an awesomely awful hole in the ground (which may be a remote reason some babies in the third world, who grew up to be famous people, in those days were named Sithole – to squat over that hole, the depths of which were frighteningly dark and abyssal, required some fortitude).

Decades ago, I was fascinated by the lifestyle of a minister of Christ, who said he began his day at dawn by having a shower. And that minister lived in a cold country! For me, even in a tropical country, taking a bath early in the morning was a shivering experience. It was only when I was an adult and taking early morning showers in a developed country did I realize what the minister meant. He meant a ‘hot’ shower. Now how could a youth in my primitive circumstances ever imagine that steaming sprays of water could be available 24 hours at the mere turning of a knob in the bathroom?

Well, I suppose by now you see what I am getting at. The simple daily appurtenances of modern life are wonders that we take for granted and don’t give a thought to…until… Until one of them stops functioning. The handle is turned, and not a drop comes out. The switch is oned, but the room still stays dark. The lift stops halfway down. The car breaks down. And worst of all in this cyber age, the internet is down. As one denizen of the virtual world said, ‘You disconnect from the internet and get this awful feeling, as if you just pulled the plug on a loved one’.

When one of our daily life-facilitators fail, panic strikes and our only thought from then on is about getting back the indispensable facility we hadn’t once given a second thought to until now.

During the first Gulf War when Iraq annexed Kuwait, and bombs started falling close to the borders of neighboring countries in the region, I was living alone in the United Arab Emirates, while my family was safely away in India. I continued my life as usual. But those with families in the country began to panic. Nobody knew if the war would spill over to the nearby countries. Supermarkets began to run out of bottled water as households stocked up essentials for a siege. But Saddam soon ran out of cartridges in his ammo boxes, and people were all back in their comfort zones as before, wondering what to do with the excess water and grains in the house.

This message is of no relevance to people living in, say, Syria, where, at the time of writing this, Christians are being targeted by both government and rebel forces. Many have fled the country and are barely surviving in makeshift refugee camps. A mattress, just enough water for a full bath, a small bite of something delicious occasionally, a little privacy for the couple to sleep together, a rudimentary school where their little ones can go safely, a few currency bills for a little shopping, a tv to pass their dreary time, some little other facility they had been enjoying all their lives before the war drove them out of their cozy sofas…these are the wonders the refugees are dreaming of at the moment now, even as I am debating with my stomach about lunch – whether I should settle for a tuna salad in the office itself or walk to the food court nearby for a couple of KFCs, which I hadn’t savored in quite a while.

The purpose of this message is not to persuade you to daily gaze in wonder at all the little blessings of daily living that you are taking for granted, though that would be good thing if one could do it. I have given scenarios of surviving without the basic amenities of daily living so that you can be watchful and be always prepared for the time of severe trouble that is coming upon the whole world. God counsels us in the Bible,

Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen   Lk 21:36 NIV

Child of God, keep the following basic understanding in the forefront of your mind:

The race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, nor bread to the wise, nor riches to men of understanding, nor favor to men of skill; but time and chance happen to them all. For man also does not know his time: like fish taken in a cruel net, like birds caught in a snare, so the sons of men are snared in an evil time, when it falls suddenly upon them.   Eccl 9:11-12

A person may be wise and prescient about the state of the world today. He plans his life accordingly and lives prudently. He has everything ready to face any adversity in life and still…and still evil times can overtake him suddenly, like a snare springing out of nowhere upon a bird and trapping it inside.

Time and chance happens equally to God’s people as to those who do not know God. I could give you countless examples of evil times swiftly befalling God’s people throughout history – from the day Joseph was abducted without the slightest indication of prior hostility from his brothers, to the moment Job was instantaneously transformed from the most content man in the world to the most afflicted, and from the time that David knew his family was abducted by enemies, to the days when faithful Christians were dangerously stranded between warring factions in World Wars I and II.

I had some relatives living as expatriates in Kuwait when that country was suddenly invaded by Saddam’s soldiers. These expatriates were regular church attendees, and grateful to God for all the abundant material blessings they enjoyed in the rich sheikhdom. Then one morning, they woke up to find their city overrun by Saddam’s forces. The expatriates were allowed to flee the country, and nobody was shot dead while trying to cross the border. But none of them was able to take to es own country any item of possession apart from the clothes e was wearing and possibly a suitcase of essentials. I heard the sorry tales from my kinsfolk of the huge quantities of precious stones, gold, money and other treasures they had accumulated over decades of hard work in that country and how they had to leave them all behind in the plush apartments they abandoned when they fled. Many of these expatriates when they finally reached their homeland had to start life all over again with the merest of basic necessities.

Disaster struck them suddenly. As it does millions of other innocent families and communities around the world every year. It could be a manmade calamity such as war, terrorist attack, persecution, or a natural catastrophe such as earthquake, tornado, tsunami, fire, plague. But the effects are the same: the affected people are left with barely anything other than the clothes on their bodies. And that is when the difference between survivors who trusted God and survivors who trusted in their own abilities begins to be clearly seen.

So, first of all, understand that time and chance happens to everyone. Destiny’s presently favored children, who are basking in their luxurious lifestyles, will wake up sooner or later to their shocking realization that destiny favors no one, not even the good people. Our Creator has deliberately made it impossible for any man or woman, even those closest to him, to know if tomorrow he or she would be protected from adversity, or if e would be allowed to go through some unexpected trouble that arises suddenly without any warning. Therefore, let this truth never fade from your mind:

When times are good, enjoy them and be happy. When times are bad, think about this: God makes both good and bad times, so that no one really knows what is coming next.   Eccl 7:14 The Voice

The New Living Translation puts it this way:

Enjoy prosperity while you can, but when hard times strike, realize that both come from God. Remember that nothing is certain in this life.

The Message version says:

On a good day, enjoy yourself; on a bad day, examine your conscience. God arranges for both kinds of days so that we won’t take anything for granted.


The simple daily appurtenances of modern life are wonders that we have taken for granted and don’t give a thought to…until. Until one of them stops functioning.


The next understanding I wish to share with you is about the state of mind a person should have during both hard times and good times.

The very first principle of Godly survival in a disaster is to maintain a state of mind called ‘basic happiness’ or ‘primary contentment’ constantly, daily, in every situation, under any circumstances.

Actually, a person can never acquire the state of basic happiness by his own diligent application of ways to attain it. But that’s not what secular motivational writers and speakers teach. Their books and seminars show how one can apply various ‘secrets’ or ‘keys’ to maintain a positive frame of mind in any adverse life situation.

I recall the years when my boyhood favorite band, The Beatles, looked to an eccentric guru, The Maharishi, for their spiritual guidance. The fab four grew up as Christians, at least nominally, but obviously they did not find Christ charismatic enough to be their guru. The Maharishi had a better message of happiness for them. He wrote: ‘Being happy is of the utmost importance. Success in anything is through happiness. Under all circumstances be happy. Just think of any negativity that comes at you as a raindrop falling into the ocean of your bliss…within everyone is an unlimited reservoir of energy, intelligence, and happiness’.

Now if celebrities can somehow discover within themselves, through the guidance of their gurus, the reservoir of happiness, why do they need Christ, who has never once mentioned anything about ‘success’ or ‘happiness’ anywhere in his Gospel. He did, however, promise his own peace and his own joy within us though, even when we are going through a lot of unhappy and unsuccessful situations.

Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid…These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full.   John 14:27;15:11

Now, if we look at the fruits of what the celebrities learn from their spiritual teachers, where do you find the unhappiest marriages and the brokenest families on earth today? Don’t most celebrities in Hollywood and other woods have one or more gurus to lead them to the fountain of lifelong cheer? Yet the most successful of them are the most miserable as well. Just a few weeks ago, as I write this, came the shocking news of the suicide of one the cheeriest actors in filmworld, Robin Williams. His gurus gave him everything for the successful life except basic happiness.

Understand that only if God enables you by his Spirit can you be in a state of basic happiness always. This basic state of mind is a pure gift of God, and not the product of one’s effort in keeping any laws of happiness. So ask God regularly and persistently for this gift. And while asking God, there is some groundwork you can do for yourself to be prepared for any eventuality.

A prerequisite of basic happiness is that you should consciously keep reverting your mind to the one overriding reason for your living – to prepare for the incredibly thrilling life in the sooncoming Kingdom of God. No matter how dreary and gloomy the world around you, the clear vision of the joys and pleasures of Paradise should be more than enough for you to tide over every unhappy but temporary circumstance in your life. And then – of even greater encouragement – you have God’s promise that he personally will see to it that you survive through every adversity and be able to stand victorious and faultless before him.

Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy, to God our Savior, who alone is wise, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and forever. Amen.   Jude 1:24-25

Another absolute prerequisite of basic happiness is a determination to delight in and live by The 10 Commandments no matter how bad the times are. God’s Word promises that a person who loves and keeps God’s Laws will never be perturbed by any adversity or unhappiness.

Great peace have those who love your law, and nothing causes them to stumble.’   Ps 119:165

Says the Contemporary English Version:

You give peace of mind to all who love your Law. Nothing can make them fall.

Nothing can make you fall if you love God’s laws and keep them. No electricity, no money, no food, no water, no home – nothing can make a person who loves God’s law be overcome or devastated or panicked by any unhappy circumstance but he is always able to rise above every adversity by holding on to his Helper’s hand which is ever extended to him.

Sudden staggering disaster drives the Christless person, no matter how successful e is in the world’s estimate, to desperate acts of survival, and if that doesn’t bring him or her deliverance, e resorts to what e thinks is the only way out of es misery, suicide. But for the man or woman who has a passionate love for God’s laws and keeps them with zeal no crisis will overwhelm em.

Unless Your law had been my delight, I would then have perished in my affliction. I will never forget Your precepts, for by them You have given me life.   Ps 119:92-93

If I had not found happiness in obeying your Law, I would have died in misery. I won’t ever forget your teachings, because you give me new life by following them.’   CEV

Finally, basic happiness is not possible without contentment.

Now godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content.’   1 Tim 6:6-8

The man or woman gifted with basic happiness will never moan or grumble as long as e has food, clothing and a place for em and es family to lie down safely. Such a person will trust God to supply em with everything else at the right time, but until then e will be content with the barest essentials of life.

When bad times fall upon a Christ-based person, he or she doesn’t focus es prayers too much on getting out of the situation immediately, though e would daily be asking God to deliver em as early as God’s will allow. But es greater focus is on asking God to strengthen em to go through the trouble that God has allowed in his or her life until e emerges out of it smiling. In the meantime, as e waits for es deliverance, e looks around at what remains in es life, and renews es gratitude for each and every one of them. E praises God more than e did in the past because e has been given the basics to live through each day so that e and es family do not have to suffer acute deprivation.

Now, you can confidently ask God to provide you always – in adversity just as in prosperity – the three absolute essentials for your and your family’s daily living: food, clothing, and shelter.  As long as God supplies you daily with these three basic needs, you have no reason in the sight of God to be unhappy or complaining about any lack of provisions.

You may not have a job, you may not have meat for meals regularly, you may not have matching shoes for your trousers, you may not have a tv, or a car, you may not have even a bicycle to ride on…but you can have basic happiness if you are able to feed your family and yourself two or three meals a day, have at least untorn clothes you can wear without embarrassment in public, and a place to sleep in safely.

Note, that I used the word ‘place’, not home. It may happen in some rare instance that a person may not have a home of his own to sleep in and have to find refuge elsewhere. But God in his great mercy ensures that such periods are very brief, and always restores a home for those who look to him for every need. I speak from experience, dear child of God, as most of my messages are.

One day – suddenly, as a bird caught in a snare, exactly as the Bible mentioned it – I found myself, my wife and our tween daughter on the street, evicted from our residence for no fault of ours. (The owner of the apartment we had rented didn’t pay his municipality taxes on time, and the officials sealed the entrance to it.) One hour, I was basking in security, the next, I was looking desperately for shelter.

We were in another country, and we had no relatives or friends to go to immediately. And I didn’t have the money to take a hotel room. The nearest person I could get help from was in another state. And night would be upon us soon. But, fortunately (for God-trusters, there is no word ‘fortunately’ or ‘luckily’ in their vocabulary; I use it here just as a common expression), I realized I had my office keys with me. Nobody will be in the office at night. I took my family to the office. And we spent a not-uncomfortable night there, sleeping on the office couches. Next morning, before the office staff arrived, I took my family to the next state and put up with a friend for about three days. On the fourth day, we found ourselves in a good hotel room, without having to pay a cent from my side. After about a week, we were able to return to our residence.

If God allows you to be without shelter suddenly – say, because a whirlwind blew your roof away, as happens in tornado-frequented countries – dont panic. It becomes God’s responsibility then to provide you temporary shelter until you are back in the comfort of your own home. Such times will be extremely rare, most likely not more than once a lifetime.

But whirlwind or earthquake or war, one thing you will not be deprived of for even a single day is your daily food and clothing and a place to sleep safely. That is God’s promise you can count on with your and your family’s whole lives.

You will be wise to be mentally equipped at all times to face any unexpected change in your circumstances. And when bad times come, understand that the trouble is not a sign that God is not protecting you or that he is not pleased with you. Instead, understand it is the surest sign that God has found you spiritually mature enough he can now trust you to go through the flood or the fire safely. Let him hold your hand as he gently and steadily leads you and your family out of the danger zone and to safe shore.

He will feed His flock like a shepherd; He will gather the lambs with His arm, and carry them in His bosom, and gently lead those who are with young.’   Is 40:11

Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; You are Mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, nor shall the flame scorch you. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior’   Is 42:1-3

If you tend to fret because you are not having a more comfortable life, then God may have a mild rebuke for you, as he had for one of his faithful but complaining servants. In the words below, instead of Baruch, put your name there. God is no respecter of person, and what applies to Baruch applies to every man and woman of God:

This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says to you, Baruch: You have said, ‘I am overwhelmed with trouble! Haven’t I had enough pain already? And now the Lord has added more! I am worn out from sighing and can find no rest.’ Baruch, this is what the Lord says: ‘I will destroy this nation that I built. I will uproot what I planted. Are you seeking great things for yourself? Don’t do it! I will bring great disaster upon all these people; but I will give you your life as a reward wherever you go. I, the Lord, have spoken!’   Jer 45:2-5 NLT

I have faced a few critical situations in life where my family and I had to live the basic life for several days and even weeks. The latest was about two years ago, but mercifully, it was relatively mild compared to what we had gone through in the past, and it lasted only a few hours.

On that morning I rose from bed tired, having woken up several times in the night to attend to my senile mother’s needs. My first need in the morning was for a cup of refreshing coffee. I turned on the tap to wash my coffee mug. There was no water. I then switched on the water pump, but the pump was silent, and I noticed the electricity meter showed no electricity coming into the house. The meter had conked. I took my mobile to call the electrician. He was not picking up, even after several attempts.

The situation could have been panicky for me had I not known Christ, and had I not some months earlier decided that no matter what acute contingency happens to disrupt my daily life, I will not allow myself to panic or become desperate because I know my God is in total control of everything that happens in my life.

But it was indeed a critical situation. I found comfort in the fact that at least I could get some essential water by drawing it from the well manually. But that would require a bucket and robe, and they were not available. Then, I suddenly remembered with dismay. My income for our monthly needs was totally dependent on my freelance work, for which I was absolutely dependent on the computer. And that very day was the deadline to submit an important work. Without submitting this work on time, I would be in financial straits. There was only one thing that could deliver me from this crisis. I appealed to our Father in heaven in my desperate situation. And he sent an immediate answer.

A thought came to my mind seemingly out of nowhere. The thought was, ‘Open the meter box, and check one of the fuses’. I am a greenhorn in technical matters. Nevertheless, I opened and pulled out one of the fuses. The fuse wire was burnt out. I was able to replace the wire, and the electricity came back.

But what if the thought of opening the complicated switchbox hadn’t come. My whole day would have been one continuous affliction, and if I didn’t get the electrician somehow, it could go on to two or more days of severe crises in several areas of my life together.

If a day ever comes in your life that you have to resort to the three-blessings basic life, here is another of God’s assurances to you and your family for such a time, paraphrased in parenthesis by me:

Though the fig tree may not blossom,
(Though the economy of my country has crashed)
Nor fruit be on the vines
(Nor do I have any means of income)
Though the labor of the olive may fail,
(Though all my projects have failed)
And the fields yield no food;
(And my business is yielding no profit)
Though the flock may be cut off from the fold,
(Though creditors have seized all my assets)
And there be no herd in the stalls—
(And I and my family are left with only our basic lives)
Yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
I will joy in the God of my salvation.
The Lord God is my strength;
He will make my feet like deer’s feet,
And He will make me walk on my high hills.
Hab 3:17-19

Child of God, as long as your Father in heaven has daily provided you all that you need for your basic happiness, rejoice. Rejoice daily.

Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!   Phil 4:4

 

Pappa Joseph