Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Attitude


As I mentioned on my other blog of NYT bestseller book, I read "The Happiness Equation" by Niel Pasricha is an excellent quick read. In one of the 9 secrets, he talks about a quote from Charles Swindoll a famous Texas preacher who said the following about Attitude.



The Longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude to me is more important than facts, it's more important than the past, it more important than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness, or skill. It will make or break a church....a home...a friendship. The remarkable thing is we have a choice each day regarding the attitude we will embrace for the day. We cannot change our past...we cannot alter the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable.  The only thing we can do is play on the one we have, and that is our attitude. I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to us and 90%  how I react to it. And so it is with you..we are in charge of our Attitudes. 

The author brings to attention the second last statement in the quote "I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to us and 90% how I react to it." 




A research publication that came out of University of Califonia's psychology department authored by Sonja Lyumbomirsky tells us exactly how much of our happiness is based on life circumstances. Surprise...surprise they empirically calculated it at to be around 10%. It is  10% of what happens to us. 90% of our happiness is basically how we see or react to the world around us.  As Niel puts it "it is our pre-disposition, and our intentional responses and they affect mental happiness'.  The author also cites some cool quotes that I find inspiring and insightful.

Aristotle says "Happiness depends on our ourselves."

Viktor Frankl, the Nazi Holocaust survivor, famously said: "Everything can be taken from a man, but one thing: the last of human freedoms - to choose one's attitude in any  given set of circumstances"

Winston Churchill "Attitude is a little thing that makes a really big difference"

Walt Whitman writes "Keep always your face towards the sunshine - and shadows will fall behind you." 

Today in my reading of Proverbs 17: 23 perfectly lined up to my thoughts "A Joyful heart is a good medicine" ... and indeed it is! It sums it all up for me in the adage: "My attitude will determine my altitude."  

So my prayer for today is:
"O Lord keep in me a tender heart and teachable spirit. Let you face shine on me, and the countenance of your favor keep my attitudes centered around love, focused on You! Let my going out and going in be in the majesty of who Christ is and who Christ is for me. Let your Holy Spirit govern, renew and illuminate my spirit, so my heart, mind, and body are tools for the demonstration of your power and your love". 


Blessings & Shalom,

Dr. Sam Kurien

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Psalm 119 - Testimonies

Psalm 119 is testimony Psalm and one of my favorites! It has been a companion, a fountain source that has refreshed my soul from time to time. I am fascinated by the number of occasions the Psalmist mentions the word "testimony" or "testimonies" of the Lord. He purposefully centers his heart in remembering his personal history with God, His goodness and His mighty acts in his life. I think here
in this psalm lies a secret of a spirit filled life; the key in suspending our hearts in thankfulness and remembering the testimonies of the Lord. By tradition, in my personal journals, I have written some of my favorites verses from this treasure trove at least once a year.  If you by happenstance stumbled on this post, these verses recorded here hopefully become a blessing and things you will ponder upon in your own journey.

Psalm 119

18 Open my eyes that I may behold wondrous things out of your law.
22 Take away from me scorn and judgment, for I have kept your testimonies.

24 Your testimonies are my delight they are my counselors 
27 Make me understand the way of your precepts, and I will meditate on your wondrous works. 
31 I cling to your testimonies, O Lord let me not be put to shame.
32 I will run in the ways of your commands when you enlarge my heart!
36 Incline my heart to your testimonies and not to selfish gain. 
37 Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things and give me life in your ways.
46 I will speak of your testimonies before kings and shall not be put to shame.
59 When I think of your ways, I turn my feet to your testimonies.
73 Your hands have made me and fashioned me; give me understanding that I may learn your commandments.
76 Let your steadfast love comfort me according to your promise to your servant. 
79 Let those who fear you turn to me that they may know your testimonies. 
80 May my heart be blameless in your statutes that I may not be put to shame. 
88 In your steadfast love give me a life that I may keep the testimonies of your mouth. 
95 The wicked lie in wait to destroy but I consider your testimonies
96 I have seen the limit of all perfection, but your commandments are exceedingly broad. 
99 I have more understanding that all my teachers for your testimonies are my meditation. 
103 How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth. 
105 Your word is a lamp to my feet and light to my path. 
111 Your testimonies are my heritage forever, for they are the joy of my heart.
116 Uphold me according to your promise that I may live and let me not be put to shame in my hope!
123 My eyes long for your salvation and for your fulfillment of your righteous promise. 
124 Deal with your servant according to your steadfast love and teach me your statutes. 
125  I am your servant; give me understanding that I may know your testimonies. 
129 Your testimonies are wonderful; therefore my soul keeps them. 
130 The unfolding of your words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple.
132 Turn to me and be gracious to me as is your way with those who love your name.
137 Righteous are you, O Lord and right are your rules. 
138 You have appointed your testimonies in righteousness and in all faithfulness
140 Your promise is well tried, and your servant loves it. 
144 Your testimonies are righteous forever give me understanding that I may live.
146 I call to you; save me that I may deserve your testimonies.
152 Long have I known from your testimonies that you have founded them forever.
157 Many are my persecutors and my adversaries, but I do not swerve from your testimonies. 
162 I rejoice in your word like the one who finds great spoil. 
165 Great peace have those who love your law; nothing can make them stumble. 
167 My soul keeps your testimonies; I love them exceedingly.
168 I keep your precepts and testimonies for all my ways are before you. 


Blessings & Shalom,

Dr. Sam Kurien

Monday, January 09, 2017

7 points from Exodus 33

I  am sitting on the grounds of a castle built in the late 1800's by General William Palmer for his wife, Queen. Taking a break away from our leadership strategy meetings and enjoying these beautiful grounds and nature around me.  Today's morning devotional from Exodus 33 was good for my soul, and it centers around the Lord's presence. The story is about Moses entering the tent of meeting where God hangs out with him. Whenever Moses went to commune with God, the Israelites stood outside their tents and worshiped God as the pillar of God's glory cloud came down at the entrance of the tent of meeting. In the description of chapter 33 Moses on this occasion makes a distinct demand of God as he has come interceding for a congregation that has just disobeyed, danced around the golden calf exchanging the Glory of God for a graven image. Moses in this place of intercession reveals his heart and requests the Lord that he would not want to leave this place if the presence of God did not go with them.  The Lord in His kindness listens to Moses because He has favor, position and rest with God. Psalm 103 records I paraphrase  'Moses was aware of the ways (nature) of God while the children of Israel were aware of his works.'  It is very much evident in Exodus 33 and here are seven points I desire and take away from this passage.

1. When God's presence goes with us He gives you Rest (Exodus 33:14)

2. The Glory of God is His Goodness towards us. I want God's goodness surrounding me and passing in front of me. I want to see the Glory of God.

3. I want to not only see God's Glory; I want to see His face. Moses saw God's glory as well as stand with Yeshua beholding the son's Glorious face. He ministered unto Him on Mt. Carmel.

4. In intimacy with Him, I not only find favor for myself but He positions me to come in boldness to reason, negotiate, plead, intercede for others and be blasted away by His love, blessings, and His goodness.

5. Exodus 33 reveals how God talked to Moses. The English Bible does a poor job translating "God spoke to Moses as a man speaks to his friend." The Hebrew is much more visual "God talked to Moses by putting His face on Moses' face and his lips on Moses' lips."  I want that intimacy!

6. God is looking for leaders who are His close ones!

7. As Psalm 27 says I want to hide in the secret shelter of His tent!.That is surest and safest place to be.

Blessings & Shalom,

Sam

Thursday, January 05, 2017

Hearing

Jesus in His remarkable ways of teaching and placing us in paradoxical tensions often talks about "Those who have ears let them hear and eyes let them see" and many times he goes on to say "They have ears and yet do not hear and eyes yet do not see." I believe Kingdom truths are for all and yet they remain unveiled for hard hearts who do not believe in His testimony.  Remember the verse I quoted a few days back from Revelation "the testimony of Jesus is the Spirit of Prophecy."  What we believe in our hearts through hearing will often come as declaration through our mouths. Jesus indeed quotes proverbs when He says "Above all else guard the heart for it is the wellspring of life." 

 I often wonder if our physical senses are designed receptors for knowing Him and enjoying His presence. From my own experience, I have smelt the fragrance in the room change when I have sensed His presence....this may sound bizarre to many of you.  I believe we can train and discipline our minds in knowing Him and His presence very intimately. The Psalmists of old seemed to have experienced this in their meditations during the different seasons of their lives. Think of the word "Taste and see the Lord is good"  I know the palpable goodness of the Lord filling me with His Spirit, and I wish and long for more. I could go on with lots of scripture references here, but I do want to leave something here that I have been thinking about.

Remembering the goodness's of God in our lives is one thing that we can consciously practice.  It is indeed a powerful and a useful habit/pattern we can develop in exercising our spiritual discipline. The simple act positions our heart to receive and tunes our ears to hear the Spirit of the Lord. What you hear sinks in your heart and positions you to see the acts and wonders of God.

Job 33: 15- 18 records an intriguing verse


15-18  In a dream, in a vision of the night, when deep sleep falls on people as they slumber in their beds, he may speak in their ears and terrify them with warnings, to turn them from wrongdoing and keep them from pride to preserve them from the pit, their lives from perishing by the sword .

What a strange verse? It is mysterious indeed ...but I do know that the Lord opens the ears and speaks wisdom into it and conceals it in His children's heart to keep them from arrogance and impending disasters. For the new covenant believer, I believe through our ears when we have hearing and
Believing hearts, He deposits riches that He draws out for His Glory when we go through trying times or seasons of wilderness. As our reflection gets polished because of the transformation from glory to glory, the richness of God has revealed in our life manifested through our senses.  

I have a theory about 'Glossolalia' the gift of speaking in tongues, and it's just a theory so take it with a grain of salt. Speaking in tongues is strange, but it's the only gift that edifies oneself. If it is we should all pray and speak in tongues more, shouldn't we? Paul states in one of his epistles that he was talking in tongues more than anyone else. That tells me he exercised this gift frequently. All the other gifts are to edify the body (the church). The heavenly language bypasses the mind and intellect, and it is our spirit talking to the Spirit of God. It's as if the Lord is drawing out back what He has deposited through our ears into our hearts. Again this is just a theory, but I suspect some divine holy transaction is going on while speaking in tongues. 

Holy Thoughts for SDG!

Blessings & Shalom

Grace


Thomas Paine, a Puritan speaker, once said there is little difference between Grace and Glory. "Grace is Glory Militant and Glory is Grace is triumphant."  I was reading in the book of Romans today and verse 5: 20 states:


20 The law was brought in so that the trespass might increase. But where since increased, grace increased all the more.”

Tozer writes in 'The Attributes of God I'  about the finest titles ever given to a book was by John Bunyan who wrote "Grace Abounding Toward the Chief of Sinners."  Bunyan believed he was the least of which could ever receive the grace of God. But God's grace abounded and overflowed that lead to his transformation. We rightly stand under the disapproval of God, but God's gift in Jesus has literally moved us fast into His presence;  as the old author of Romans defends God's mighty work moved us quickly from justification to reconciliation and sanctified us unto Him to  His righteousness. I cannot help but quote one of my favorite verses from Galatians 2:19-21


19 - 21: "For through the law, I died to the law so that I might live for God. I have been crucified with Christ, and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not set aside the grace of God for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!

Blessings & Shalom,
SDG

Monday, January 02, 2017

Thankfulness

The last few years have been tough, but I am reminded of God's kindness to me all the time. I often say to my friends and acquaintances that Jesus is the kindest person I have ever met. I want these testimonies of my life or better worded "stones of remembrance" as times when I saw the remarkable things the Lord has done for me.  A testimony is just that... it is your personal history with God.  When you can relate His faithfulness to people, it is an invitation for Jesus to do it again in a new way or whatever way He chooses. That is the power of testimony!  Interestingly there is a fascinating verse in Revelation 19:10 "the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy."  I have exercised the gift of prophecy often with people. In simple terms, its a revelation of what God thinks about the person and is usually for edifying the person and building the church.  This verse is interesting because what Jesus has done... all His acts throughout history and in the affairs of men now has become the spirit of prophecy. This literally means a prophetic declaration is an invitation for Him to do it again! And that is really exciting if you think of it.  I don't know all the relationship between thankfulness and testimonies, but I know there is some and I would say a heart of thankfulness piles up and collects testimonies which you can always share and who knows you would be able to give the word as a prophetic declaration or bring healing to a person's life.

I want the posture of my heart to be always thankful. I have observed over the past two years recording carefully in my thankfulness journals that it keeps my heart in the place of not only being grateful for what has been given to me but also as mile markers that I can always fall back to in trying situations.

As the Psalmist recounts, I have discovered thankfulness and praise is how we enter into His courts. It is a sweet offering to the Lord. Thankfulness is our response to the works of God; Praises to Him are our response to the nature of God and when we worship Him it is our response to His presence (manifest or hidden). Thankfulness and Praise are often referred as a sacrifice that we bring to Him. However, worship in scripture is never considered or referred to as a sacrifice. In worship, we become or are to become the offering where He can do whatever He wants with us.

Psalm 84 personally has been a dear companion to me in the last year. His presence I have desired in the seasons of my wilderness. I have chosen to enter into His courts with thanksgiving. In His presence, I am left with a longing for even more. The first three verses sum it all up for me in the physical:


6 How lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord of hosts! 2 My soul longs, yes, faints for the courts of the Lord; my heart and flesh sing for joy to the living God. 3 Even the sparrow finds a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, at your altars, O Lord of hosts, my King and my God..”

Shalom and Blessings,

Dr. Sam Kurien

Monday, November 11, 2013

Spring of Living Waters

I love the hebrew names of our God and saw this one again.


He is the Spring of living waters. A few years back I had a video link on a song praising our Lord with this name. The song was done by Zemar Levav which I repost here today.

Also on the left here is a picture from Michael Belk a fashion photographer which also reminded me of this beautiful name of Our Lord . The picture shows Yeshua's relevance in a modern context through his amazing amazing Photographic book "Journeys with the Messiah". The woman at the well here is depicted as the bride and Jesus giving her the Kingdom stock wine..what a powerful visual!

The stories of the old testament show the complete fulfillment in Yeshua in every name, character, story and nature of Yahweh in His ministry is mind blowing and awesome indeed! King David was both a lover and a warrior of God. In Psalm 63 he expresses the sentiment of his thirst and panting that can only be filled by God. Believers in Yeshua get even more....drink O lovers of God His offer of intoxicating wine!


I say again:

May He the Spring of living waters quench your soul and then let him also offer you the intoxicating wine of His Holy Spirit  that will bring you in even more -  to a greater intimacy with Him!!

Blessings & Shalom,

Sam

Saturday, November 02, 2013

From My Journals: Understanding

From entry on 10/18/2013

I was recently reading an ancient book called "Euclid's elements"  written by Euclid a greek mathematician. He is known as the father of Euclidean geometry who famously  quoted "The laws of nature are the mathematical thoughts of God". A neat quote indeed irrespective of what your beliefs in God are. Euclid is also know as the father of Geometry even when there were other famous greek mathematicians like Pythagoras who preceded him. I think its mainly because of his 13 volume treatise he wrote explaining the measurement of "Geo"(earth) and hence the term "Geometry".  His volumes were in the original greek, later on shepherded by the Arabs, translated to Latin and then finally made its translation into English around 1570's. Euclid's Elements was the second most published book after the Bible. In fact there was a time when one was not considered educated if he or she hadn't read Euclid's Elements.

Anyway this post is about "Understanding" I will try to correlate. As I was reading Euclid's elements
I also came across an amazing quote by Abraham Lincoln who seem to have studied Euclid's Elements. He said:

'In the course of my law reading I constantly came upon the word "demonstrate". I thought at first that I understood its meaning but soon became satisfied I did not. I said to myself What do I do when I demonstrate more than when I reason or prove? How does demonstration differ from any other proof? I consulted Webster's dictionary. They told of a certain proof "a proof beyond the possibility of doubt.'; but I had no idea of what sort of proof that was. I thought great many things were proved beyond the possibility of doubt without recourse to any such extraordinary process of reasoning as I understand demonstration to be. I consulted all the documents, dictionaries and books of reference I could find but with no better results. You might well defined the color blue to a blind man.  At last I sad - Lincoln, you never will make a good lawyer if you do not understand what demonstrate means and I left my situation in springfield, went home to my father's house and stayed there till I could give any proposition in the six books of Euclid at sight. I then found out what demonstrated means and went back to my law studies.'
When I read this I thought to myself the men of old had little access to all the information and knowledge we have today but differ from us that they had a deep yearning for understanding.

Proverbs 2:2-6  comes to my mind which aptly gives us insights on the importance of 'understanding':

"Listening closely to wisdom and directing your heart to understanding. Furthermore if you call out to insight and lift your voice to understanding
If you seek it like silver and search for it like hidden treasure, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and discover the knowledge of God.
 For the Lord gives wisdom, from His mouth come knowledge and understanding
I am also reminded of the root word of demonstrate is also linked with dunamis as in the writings of Paul when he says "When we entered a city we came in demonstration of the power of the Holy Spirit and then we preached" (Paraphrase mine).  An understanding that helps in demonstration and demonstrating beyond the possibility of any doubt.

Interestingly Raphael's painting of Euclid is a poignant reminder of the same as an effective teacher he was demonstrating to his students and not merely teaching. Fascinating!!



Blessings and Shalom,

Sam Kurien

From My Journals: Our Atonement


Wow its been a long time that I have now written or posted here. I have been so busy working, traveling and then working some more :). However I have been a constant in writing my journals. Four journals in a year is personally outstanding for me. So to fill posts here I may cheat a little bit by transferring things from my journal to bits on this blog. Of course I will be selective as capturing and transferring everything will take me hours of typing.

Entry from: 10/27/2013:

Just finished reading "The Happy Gospel" by Benjamin Dunn. Some facts that blew me away again on the compassion and kindness of the Lord is regarding the Day of Atonement.

In Leviticus chapter 23 we see how how the Lord is zealously jealous of the day of atonement. If you don't remember well - the idea was the High priest on this day sprinkled blood upon the mercy seat as instructed by the Lord to cover Israel's sins. On this particular day the Lord commanded that no one, absolutely no one should work, otherwise they would be destroyed. This is amazing as it reveals that  not only our our efforts are not required and unnecessary for salvation; it was commandment of the Lord not work but celebrate...party!!.

I love the fact that we must yield to the ease and effortlessness of the Gospel (as He says His yoke is indeed easy!). We like the Israelites on the day of the atonement must completely surrender to the divine grace of Yahweh.  Today, unfortunately the day of atonement for the Jewish people is somber day a sober day  because of the uncertainty of their forgiveness when historically the day was filled with jubilation and celebrating the mercies and goodness of God.  The absence of this ecstatic joy in the contemporary experience of the Yom Kippur is taken for granted in the Talmud - the book of rabbinical discussion of the law and the customs of the jews. This was very different in temple times as the talmud records that there was a red string tied on the temple door that urned white serving as a visible reminder of God's forgiveness of man. When this sign was shown celebration erupted in the camp of Israel. This type of joy was spontaneous even when it was a yearly occurrence. The women of Yerushalaiym would dance in the vineyards singing and celebrating the Lord's goodness.

Rabbi Yishamel says: "But they had another sign too; a thread of crimson wool was tied to the door of the temple and when the goat (hazozeal - scapegoat) reached the wilderness the thread turned white. As
it was written "Though your sins be a scarlet they shall be white as snow" (Yona 68b). This is also prophetically referenced in Isaiah and the Psalms.  On the head of the scapegoat the piece of thread that was tied also turned white. Tradition of the jews states that if God accepted the sacrifice the scarlet thread turned white but if God had not accepted this expiation the redness continued and the year was spent in mourning (Adam Clarke commentary).  The ancient Hebrews write that 40 years before the destruction of the temple which was about the time of Christ's death this red string turned no more white. I believe Yeshua paid for the atonement of sins for all mankind there was no need for another visible reminder. Tradition holds Yeshua was resurrected in white garments as He had supernaturally passed through the blood stained grave clothes that He had left in the tomb.

Let the Joy of atonement once again explode in the people of God. Our sins are completely been paid for. The sin offering and the perfect offering has been given by the The Anointed One Himself. He has saved the world single handedly and our efforts are not required. So let our hearts erupt in unquenchable abiding joy. When God looks on us at He looks at His perfect offering for those who have believed in this simple truth that Christ died for us and have been made righteous because of the Righteousness of the One that pleases the Father.

Blessings and Shalom

Sam

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

His Presence

Just finished the gospel of Mark. And again, how I love this Savior. Some of the challenging passages that I have seen in this Gospel was training my mind to think with heaven's principles. For example the incident of the withered tree where the Master came looking for fruit. Because He lived by Heaven's mandate and knew
what He was looking for in the tree... didn't find it commanded it to die. It fascinates me that He addressed it as living creature. If I had read this passage a few years ago I would have thought boy that was harsh and cruel to curse a tree when its not the season to bear fruit. It was naturally doing what it was supposed to do.  but now I see His kindness, His love and even His nurturing through this incident. Shouldn't have the tree known who was it that was asking fruit?

Anyway that's not the point of the post...I wanted to record here about His presence and paint the picture.  Some thoughts I have had is if we are to live by Heaven's thinking, Heaven's principles and seeing through His perspective we cannot take His presence for granted. The presence of God was taken for granted in the first Garden. The scriptures say in the first Garden, The Lord came to walk with Adam in the cool of the evening. In the second garden at the tomb, when Mary Magdalene encounters the risen savior she holds on to Him and Jesus gently tells her that He has to go so that the Holy Spirit can be send. His Spirit is in us and we need to grab on to Him as HE prepares us from Glory to Glory. Bill Johnson in his book "Hosting the Presence of God" states accurately - "use now your faith to discover God's abiding presence on your life. He never disappoints. The overwhelming outcome is learning to live from the Presence of God towards the issues of life". This Jesus did perfectly.

Our last vacation to California was a stressful one - traumatic news of mother's cancerous tumor, a ticket from the state patrol, the car's air conditioning blown out, irritations with the home in CA, surviving an accident that left us side swiped with dinged doors. As I thought all of this and ran into the presence, I am reminded that I have been given power and authority over issues of life  - as all authority in heaven and earth is Jesus's. We are indeed seated in the heavenly places with Him. And if we are His ...overcoming and enforcing the King's domain into the world is our new reality.

My prayer from my journal - "O Lord make aware and help me to live from heavenly places. O Lord hear my prayer it is your desire and will that I exercise my authority. I cannot afford to have thoughts in my mind that are not yours. I know your promises over my life define my purposes. And my purposes are centered in Your presence, you have promised your purpose and my partnership with You will automatically position me in Glory and help me to stand for your Glory be it in plenty or in want...my soul will thrive and prosper."

Amen Amen
SDG

Thursday, March 07, 2013

Supernatural Joy

Joy is the very nature of our God. His entire being is Joy and we as His children are recipients and inheritors of this supernatural Joy!! Yet it is a choice we must make. The Psalmist says "This is the day the Lord has made, I will be glad and rejoice in it". Rejoicing is an act of worship that gives us access to His very character of Joy. Rejoicing and thanksgiving attracts the very presence of God. 2nd Chronicles 20 tells us the story of King Jehoshaphat who is brought the news of a large army of Moabites and Ammonites coming down to attack his kingdom. 2 Chronicles verse 4 says "He is afraid". However his fear does not drive him to remain in the place of insecurity and depression but instead he resolves to inquire and seek the face of God. He reminds God of His promises, that the enemy has come to displace His children from the land and that He gave them in the first place. As soon as he does that the Bible records God's answer to his prayer. Here is the account from 2nd Chronicles.


4 Then the Spirit of the Lord came on Jahaziel son of Zechariah, the son of Benaiah, the son of Jeiel, the son of Mattaniah, a Levite and descendant of Asaph, as he stood in the assembly. 15 He said: “Listen, King Jehoshaphat and all who live in Judah and Jerusalem! This is what the Lord says to you: ‘Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s. 16 Tomorrow march down against them. They will be climbing up by the Pass of Ziz, and you will find them at the end of the gorge in the Desert of Jeruel. 17 You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the Lord will give you, Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Go out to face them tomorrow, and the Lord will be with you.’” 18 Jehoshaphat bowed down with his face to the ground, and all the people of Judah and Jerusalem fell down in worship before the Lord. 19 Then some Levites from the Kohathites and Korahites stood up and praised the Lord, the God of Israel, with a very loud voice. 20 Early in the morning they left for the Desert of Tekoa. As they set out, Jehoshaphat stood and said, “Listen to me, Judah and people of Jerusalem! Have faith in the Lord your God and you will be upheld; have faith in his prophets and you will be successful.” 21 After consulting the people, Jehoshaphat appointed men to sing to the Lord and to praise him for the splendor of his[c] holiness as they went out at the head of the army, saying: “Give thanks to the Lord, for his love endures forever.” 22 As they began to sing and praise, the Lord set ambushes against the men of Ammon and Moab and Mount Seir who were invading Judah, and they were defeated. 23 The Ammonites and Moabites rose up against the men from Mount Seir to destroy and annihilate them. After they finished slaughtering the men from Seir, they helped to destroy one another. 24 When the men of Judah came to the place that overlooks the desert and looked toward the vast army, they saw only dead bodies lying on the ground; no one had escaped. 25 So Jehoshaphat and his men went to carry off their plunder, and they found among them a great amount of equipment and clothing[d] and also articles of value—more than they could take away. There was so much plunder that it took three days to collect it. 26 On the fourth day they assembled in the Valley of Berakah, where they praised the Lord. This is why it is called the Valley of Berakah[e] to this day.

Notice verse 21 King Jehoshaphat "appoints" people  and encourages the people to sing and praise. As the army goes out Praise worshippers are at the helm  worshipping and singing praises to the Lord. This act releases the move of God.  The Lord sets ambushes among the Moabites and Ammonites and the result is without a fight the children of Israel come away with a huge plunder of treasures. More importantly there was a multiplication of rejoicing and the Joy of the Lord in the camp. 

Rejoicing in the Lord results in the multiplication of Joy. The act of worshipping Him (again rejoicing) is a gateway to enter into the Joy of the Lord. When this happens it attracts heaven's resources to work for you, allows God's presence to change things through the Kairos moments and creates chaos in the enemy's camp. In the book of Nehemiah or Ezra when the book of law is read...the children of Israel are downcast and saddened in the realization that they are so far away from the perfect law of the Lord. However Nehemiah and Ezra had priests run up and down the congregation urging/encouraging them to rejoice and celebrate because they as a people were acceptable to God and were moving in the direction of seeking His face. This very moment was not to recoil and be depressed but to celebrate and rejoice. 

So let us resolve as Paul urges us to do in Philippians 4:4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I say it again: "Rejoice!"



Shalom & Blessings,

Sam Kurien

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Shalom Rav


I love the song "Shalom Rav" which express's Psalm 119:165 "Abundant well-being have all who cherish your instruction; they encounter no cause for stumbling" (Psalm 119:165)

Below is a audio clip of the version expressing this theme music performed by my friend Tim Undheim (a hebrew scholar)in Philippines and beautifully sung by his lovely daughter Raquel Undheim.



My friend Tim was gracious to send me the sheet music and the lyrics.


The version from Jeff Kepler as it pertains to the prayer for Israel goes this way:

Shalom shalom rav l'olam
Shalom rav al Yisrael amcha tasim, tasim l'olam, shalom rav l'olam
Ki atah hu melech adon l'chol, l'chol hashalom, shalom rav, l'olam
Shalom, shalom rav l'olam
V'tov b'eineicha lvarech et amcha Yisrael, shalom rav, l'olam
B'chol et uv'chol sha'ah bishlomecha, shalom rav l'olam
Shalom, shalom rav l'olam
Bishlomecha, shalom l'olam, shalom rav l'olam

Translation from Mishkan T'fillah:
Grant a full and lasting peace to Your people Israel,
For You are the Eternal Sovereign of peace.
It is good in Your eyes to bless Your people Israel,
in every season and hour, for the sake of Your Name

Blessings & Shalom,

Sam Kurien

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Seeking His Face


Seeking God's face is the ultimate quest anyone can pursue in this life. This quest comes with an incredible desperation, divine favor and lying in wait for where He is and following closely to what He is up to. Recently I learnt the word "waiting" in the Bible essentially means "setting up an ambush". It's almost militant in nature rather than the conventional sense of the meaning we understand of "waiting. This word is mentioned 53 times in the Bible and 49 times it is mentioned as with the definition of "writhing in pain as in child labor" or "whirling in the air in dance"....how fascinating! Both of these require intense focus and passion. So the meaning when the Psalmist writes "My soul waits patiently for the Lord" - it is an intense focus of seeking His face, seeking His presence. It's a tenacity of people who are desperate enough to almost ready to die...is where I believe (through the examples in the Bible) that God is quickly attracted to.

Look at the example of the woman with the blood issue, Jacob in his wrestling match not letting go of the Lord till he is blessed, King Jeoshapat and Hezekiah or Hannah looking on for His face for their personal and corporate deliverances. Shall we then lie in wait - "set up an ambush" for God?. And in response I know God is looking for people who anticipate His every move and grab every chance to reach out to Him. 

Psalm 37:9 "But those who wait on the Lord will inherit the land."; yet another verse says "Those who look upon His face shall never go ashamed". 

Recently I learnt something new from the story of Elijah and Elisha. I always thought Elijah was taken away in the chariot of fire from heaven but closely reading 2 Kings 2:11  reveals that he was taken up in the whirlwind. Elisha was Elijah's protégée and successor as the prophet of the land.  However Elisha would only take his master's mantle if he got double the portion of his spirit. Elijah puts up  this test for young Elisha. If he was able to see him when he was take away from earth he would have his request. Elisha' sees an extraordinary event - an invasion of the supernatural act from heaven and yet he was not distracted from it because a mantle of authority was at stake. We are called hence to look upon His face with such focus, adoration and zeal (passion) that even the greatest gifts from heaven should not distract our gaze on His loving face. Seeking the Giver and His face is indeed the ultimate quest!

We wee God's heart for us in 2 Chronicles 7:14 which says "If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land." The promise of seeking His face with honest hearts of repentance and worship comes with a blessing of our land being healed of its barrenness. Seeking His face brings prosperity and healing. Seeking His face aligns us back into our read identity in Him and His life overflows in us. 

Abba Father you are so merciful let me see your face as Moses did. As he sought your face he desired to know your ways to know you intimately and be known by you. Israel was aware of the acts of God but Moses knew about His ways because he sought His face daily. Israel thought seeing his face would mean death for Moses seeing His face meant "worth dying" so he could live eternally.  I like the hebrew expression more than how it renders in the english Bible in Exodus when God talks to Moses face to face like a man talks to his friend.  The hebrew version literally says God put His lips on Moses lips and that's how they communed or talked. The level and depth of intimacy Moses has is so deep because He lived before His face. The patriarch  Jacob names the place "Peniel" where he survives a wrestling match with God which means - "I have seen the face of God and lived". His name changes , life altered and eternal identity engraved in God plans and purposes. Shall we then not be in thus desperation of seeking His face?

Oh to seek His beautiful face and to be lost in adoration and wonder of Jesus is our call. Oh how I long to see His face. John in the book of revelation sees His face and is like a dead man yet we know His lovingkindness and His mercy enables us to stand before that Glorious face of God. As John says in that day "looking at His face we shall not be ashamed." is our great promise. 

God's desire when He tells Moses this is how you shall proclaim the Blessing to Israel...Numbers 6:22-27 records

"The Lord Bless you and keep you. The Lord make His face shine upon you and be gracious to you. The Lord lift up His countenance of favor upon you, and give you His Shalom. So they shall put My name on the children of Israel and I will bless them."

Beloved, God's desire as we seek His face is to give you His shalom, to be gracious to us and bear His name for His Glory. 


Blessings & Shalom,

Sam Kurien

Supernatural Favor!

Starting to blog again after almost a year long break. However last year I almost wrote two and half journals and now on to almost finishing my third.(And its only February!!!)  It has been amazing recording my thoughts, prayers, lessons learnt and logging my travels to various countries. It's about time to return to the digital format and keep penning this pilgrim's thoughts from time to time. The only thing to caution myself is to be regular and consistent at this.

This year I already was out on a 15 day trip to Singapore, Thailand and Indonesia. I have loved it and sneaked in some restful times at the beach. I am so thankful that the Lord gives me time and space to enjoy the beauty of His creation in spite of the busyness I so easily slip into. As I ponder on last year theme the Lord gave me to concentrate on was 'Supernatural wisdom' and 'His lovingkindness'. Both have been exciting, leading me to a deep pondering's, and enjoying the goodness of the Lord at deeper levels. Actually my journals have recorded on these two themes a lot of revelation's that He has shown me. I suspect this year (though nothing has stood out as distinct impression from the Lord) I am still on this journey of increasing in favor and increasing in wisdom and using that for blessing others and see His lovingkindness in my life and others multiply.

Some thoughts from my journal on favor:

We have been given incredible favor as His children because it empowers us to serve more effectively and brilliantly. If everything in creation was made for His pleasure and delight we have a God given capacity as a born again believer to manifest the favor of the Lord to His glory.

We see God's divine plan of favor expressed in Psalm (23:5) "You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies." The idea is in the intimacy and rest of God, it's as if God is saying to satan - "My people love me and I love them and you are going to watch"

Increase in favor goes hand in hand with increase in wisdom. The Bible says Jesus grew in favor and in wisdom before God and man. Though fully God He took on flesh to be fully man and grew in favor and wisdom so how more shall we not grow in favor and wisdom and its freely available to us.  Wisdom gives us hence the keys of understanding of how to use the favor according to God's purposes.  Provers 8:35 says "For he who find me finds me finds life and obtains favor from the Lord". Jesus interestingly says "I am the Life" so pursuing Him is pursuing the font of all wisdom and favor.

Blessings & Shalom,

Sam Kurien