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MESSAGE FOR THE FORTNIGHT
 






    






Turning the Tables....



First things first! For the uninitiated the full meaning of the phrase “turning the tables”... The Oxford dictionary sums it up as reverse one's position relative to someone else, especially by turning a position of disadvantage into one of advantage.

Heard of an awl (a pointed object used usually for boring a hole- Deu 15:17) which was “awful” in its work at one time in an individual’s life but after some years became an “awesome” (read very useful) instrument in the hands of that very individual so as to lend a new meaning to lakhs of blind people across the world thence? Welcome to the inspirational Louis Braille story... whose father was a saddle maker in a small village namely Coupvray which incidentally lies in the north-central region of France. His Dad’s workshop was quite close to their house. In his childhood when young Louis (all of 3 years) was playing in his Dad’s workshop, he happened to take the “awful awl” into his hands. He tried to replicate his father’s work of boring a hole into leather with it. However unfortunately -quite accidently at that- he ended-up piercing one of his eyes with that “awful object”. It led to not only instant blindness of that eye but also severe infection of the same whereby the other eye also got infected. Very soon young Loius would sadly enter the world of total blindness with his future seemingly as “dark” as night.

Fast forward by 25 years and what do we “see”? After several twists and turns in his life, Loius Braille had created “raised dotted –system” using an awl (awesome one in this case) of all the 26 alphabets (by piercing holes suitably on the pieces of leather) for the blind to read using their sense of touch. Today, the Braille language is used universally so as to serve as virtually “a lamp in the darkness” for the blind.

Coming to the spiritual realm Dear Friends, have you ever contemplated of how greatly our Almighty wise God used objects or situation which initially were a “curse” to become a “blessing” later on? In this message, Yours Truly aims to focus on those Biblical events using words beginning with the letter “T” (what else...considering the Title...sic), where one clearly discern how the good Lord “turned the tables” as it were to foster blessings upon His chosen ones’...

Tree...


Hmmm…the tree of knowledge appeared quite pleasing to the eye of our first parents (Gen 3:6) though there were commanded by their loving Creator to stay away from it, leave alone admire its beauty from a distance. The result of their “adulterous advance”, so to say, towards it is now history. Oh yes, they ate of its fruit at the behest of the crafty tempter bringing curse upon themselves and all mankind (Gen 3:1-19). Tree of knowledge truth to tell brought in its wake spiritual darkness to all of mankind, This darkness can be dispelled only when one comes near yet another Tree which by its appearance ironically is at once ugly. Friends let’s travel to the Tree at Calvary…

If love for God which can be exhibited only by implicit obedience to His commands (2 John 1:6) was conspicuous by its absence in the behaviour of the First Adam when exposed to the lure of Tree of Knowledge, then by stark contrast the Final Adam (read Jesus… 1 Cor 15:45) personified obedience by wilfully hanging on the Cruel Tree (Gal 3:13) as per the Father’s will (John 6:38/ John 14:30-31) right in the middle of the Earth (Ezekiel 5:5).

If the Tree of Knowledge proved to be a bane for mankind bringing in its wake spiritual ignorance, then again ironically the Tree of foolishness (so-called by the scholarly Greek peers of Apostle Paul- 1 Cor 1:18) has been a cause for manifold blessings to it ushering in spiritual emancipation and enlightenment. Stretching the comparison further, if the enticing words of the sly snake spoken even while “hanging” onto the former brought forth terrible curse to mankind, the energizing words proclaiming completion of redemption plan (John 19:30) spoken by the suffering Saviour even while "hanging" on the energy-sapping cruel Tree of execution (Gal 3:13/ Deu 22:21) have heralded from the First Good Friday onwards the free release from that curse to anyone appropriating it in his/her life (Romans 10:8-10). We who are all connected to the First Adam (genetically and spiritually) need not remain “chained” to the Former but seek our liberty by looking with saving faith (John 3:14-15/ Numbers 21:4-9) at the Latter where the Final Adam completed the onerous work of providing free salvation at a great cost (can anyone put a price tag on the Saviour’s sufferings?).

Gospel would be a palaver only to the perishing, blinded as they are, by the arch-enemy of every human soul (2 Cor 4:4) but to those being redeemed by it, it is the power of God in action (1 Cor 1:18-TLB).

Trees...(Garden)

Gen 3:19                                                             John 19:41-42/ John 20:1-18

If the first death was pronounced on mankind amidst the trees (read Eden Garden- Gen 3:19-20), then the Heavenly Father ensured that resurrection proclaiming victory over death also took place amidst the “trees” (Jesus rose victoriously from death in a “Garden” – John 19:41-42).

Today, we armed with a “Blessed hope” (Titus 2:13) can look at our timeless foe Death seemingly as it were, on its face and taunt “O Death, where is thy sting” (1 Cor 15:55) because Jesus rose from the Garden grave on the First Easter as the “First fruits” symbolizing the future resurrection of all the Christians (1 Cor 1:20/ 1 Thess 4:13-18-TLB ).

Tongue...



The farewell message of Moses, as the children of Israel, were at the threshold of the Promised Land, is what the Book of Deuteronomy all about. The amazing aspect of that moving speech does not lie in Moses’ taking a lengthy inventory of his followers’ obedience graph in the last 40 years nor does it lie in his frequent and fervent pleas’ to the people of Israel to walk in the “straight and narrow”. Yes, they do punctuate his passionate speech but the most amazing thing about that parting speech is the speech itself! Many years ago, had not same Moses cited his “stammering” debility as a disqualification for taking up any leadership role (Exodus 4:10)? Now we see the same Moses “the stammerer” giving the longest recorded speech in the Bible! We see Moses speaking through 33 of the 34 chapters in Deuteronomy, with eloquence, which was at once unmistakable! Now if this does not leave one speechless, then what would!

The words of the Scripture that God transforms the weakness of His faithful ones’ into their strength (Heb 11:34) never ring more true than in the case of man of speech impairment giving the longest recorded speech in the Bible after being Divinely strengthened! In God's service, more than the ability, it is the availability, which counts. Once, we give ourselves to Him, with all our innate frailties, His strength would flow through us in overflowing measure for the World to marvel at (2 Cor 12:8-10)!

Thorn…



Bearing the pain of a prickly thorn in the flesh constantly (read a “painful situation like being a victim of injustice” - 2 Cor 12:7-12) becomes possible only when one clasps the liberating truth (John 8:32) that this “thorn in my flesh” is actually helping me spiritually rather than harming me.

Apostle Paul turned the tables on an adverse situation in his life by looking at it from the Lord’s wise perspective that the “thorn in his flesh” instead of hindering him is actually keeping him humbly dependent on the Lord.

“Cross bears those who bear the Cross” observed the wise Sadhu Sundar Singh wisely and why not for we cling to the indwelling, joyous Holy Spirit for sustenance in the wake of purifying painful experiences coming our way (ah the Holy Spirit comes into the picture now... He has to come into the picture at some stage or the other when we are speaking about the Christian life...Boy without Him, there is no Christian life in the first place- Rom 8:9).

Mind you where there is presence of the Lord, there is that indescribable joy and where that Heavenly joy is (not dependent at all on favourable circumstances), there is that strength of the Lord to strengthen our inner man to carry the Cross (Psalm 16:11, Nehemiah 8:10, I Peter 1:7-8, Romans 15:13, Eph 3:16, 2 Cor 12:7-12).

It would make sense only to the faithful Christians who have faithfully carried the Cross for many years with the inner strengthening of the Lord when I observe that Christian character (Romans 5:3-4/ 2 Cor 3:18) gets built only in the rarefied atmosphere, as it were, of “pressure outside and pleasure inside”.

Sadly some of us attribute power of God to awe-inspiring miracles like parting of the Red sea or raising of the dead without realizing that it is that same power which is equipping us also to bear the “thorn in our flesh” faithfully.

It is not out of place to quote the following Scripture portions verbatim to underscore the point that the words “God’s grace and His power” have also been used interchangeably in the Bible...

“And with great power the apostles were giving their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all.”- Acts 4:33

“...My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”- 2 Cor 12:9

At once “turning the tables” on the “thorn” in her life says Joni Earekson Tada a quadriplegic (paralyzed neck downwards and confined to a wheelchair now for 50 years) and a “great” Servant of God who preaches very effectively not only through lip but also through her life itself ...

“He has chosen not to heal me, but to hold me. The more intense the pain, the closer His embrace!!! My wheelchair was the key to seeing all this happen—especially since God’s power always shows up best in weakness....”

Tenderness…



That God is love is the pivotal statement of the Scriptures but where do we find it? As we scrutinize the OT section of The Bible, the Gospels and even the Epistles of eminent Apostles’ like those of Paul, Peter and James (though one can sense this overarching truth) this Statement is conspicuous by its absence. Only as we draw towards the end of the Scriptures, we see that is it is John the Apostle who is Divinely inspired to profess this truth. In fact love is the common thread running through the pages of all his three epistles. That this statement should emanate from a person who was named originally as one of the “Sons of thunder” by the Lord Himself, considering his volatile temper (Mark 3:17/ Luke 9:51-55) is the very definition of the idiom “turning the page” for good (Heb 11:34). Post the Pentecostal experience, it was must have been quite a journey (now being led by the Spirit- Rom 8:14) for this tempestuous “Son of Thunder” to become “an Apostle of Tenderness”.

Dear Sojourner of faith, do you perceive rough edges in your personality like being given to temper tantrums? Surrender your weaknesses’ to the Lord. He can transform your weaknesses into your strengths. Amen.



Click on the link below to access the second part of the message “Turning the Tables”…


Suresh Manoharan
An Unworthy Servant