Where is the Lord? Is He with us?

Job 23:3, If only I knew where to find him;
    if only I could go to his dwelling!

We all believe there is a Lord and we devotedly pray to Him. At some crossroads in life we happen to question ourselves, Is there a Lord? If there is, is He with us? The Lord Himself had certified about Job that he was a righteous man. Job 2:3, Then the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil. And he still maintains his integrity, … Job had many bitter experiences owing to his faith and devotion to the Lord. Under circumstances, his wife who should have comforted and supported him is seen as pulling him down even further into misery.

Job was very rich and wealthy. He lost all his wealth. When he lost his wealth he was hopeful that atleast his children are safe. When he lost his wealth and children he found hope that atleast his health is good. He lost his health too and he was ridden with sores and illnesses. His three friends came to meet him. The friends who should have been his pillar of strength and support insulted and humiliated him saying that his suffering is due to his sins. After being shunned by everyone, Job thought that even the Lord had shunned him from His sight. Even after losing everything Job did not give up or condemn the Lord. Job 2:10, 10 He replied, “You are talking like a foolish woman. Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?” In all this, Job did not sin in what he said. Job is full of faith even in his suffering and says,

Job 23:3-5, If only I knew where to find him;
    if only I could go to his dwelling!
I would state my case before him
    and fill my mouth with arguments.
I would find out what he would answer me,
    and consider what he would say to me.

He says, Job 23:8-9, “But if I go to the east, he is not there;
    if I go to the west, I do not find him.
When he is at work in the north, I do not see him;
    when he turns to the south, I catch no glimpse of him.

Can we also say like Job in Job 23:10, But he knows the way that I take;
    when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold.
Are we blameless like him?

Job does not forget his good days. He says that the Lord is all powerful and there is nothing impossible with the Lord. He even prays tot the Lord for forgiveness if he has said something in his ignorance. Job says he had not seen the Lord and hence was ignorant. Now, having seen the magnificence he repents.

Job: 42:5-6, My ears had heard of you
    but now my eyes have seen you.
Therefore I despise myself
    and repent in dust and ashes.”

Even after suffering innumerable trials and sufferings, Job does not shake or waver in his faith for the Lord. In the end, we see that the Lord blessed Job multifold. Job 42: 10, 10 After Job had prayed for his friends, the Lord restored his fortunes and gave him twice as much as he had before.

Job 42:16-17, 16 After this, Job lived a hundred and forty years; he saw his children and their children to the fourth generation. 17 And so Job died, an old man and full of years.

Under such circumstances, just think how would you and me react? Will our response be like Job? Will you condemn the Lord for the sufferings? Will you weaken in faith and go astray?? Think. Reflect. The Bible teaches us that the Lord saw us even when we were unformed in our mother’s womb. He knows even the last moments our lives. Is it possible for each of us to accept the good with the evil like Job??

The Lord did not send suffering into the life of righteous Job of His own will. The Lord did this due to the Devil. Job 2: 3,.. though you incited me against him to ruin him without any reason.” The old evil serpent of the Bible continues to follow man even today. He tests and tempts those people more who abide by the laws of the Lord and do what is right in His sight. Just like our father on earth believes in us, the Father in heaven too looks down on us with faith.

Hebrews 12:4-11, In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. And have you completely forgotten this word of encouragement that addresses you as a father addresses his son? It says,

“My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline,
    and do not lose heart when he rebukes you,
because the Lord disciplines the one he loves,
    and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.”

Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? If you are not disciplined—and everyone undergoes discipline—then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live! 10 They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness. 11 No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.

In moments of doubt think, Judges, 6:12-13, 12 When the angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon, he said, “The Lord is with you, mighty warrior.”

13 “Pardon me, my lord,” Gideon replied, “but if the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us? Where are all his wonders that our ancestors told us about when they said, ‘Did not the Lord bring us up out of Egypt?’ But now the Lord has abandoned us and given us into the hand of Midian.”

Think. Find out your own answers.

Whose way will you follow? Abraham or Jacob?

Jacob ran for his life after deceiving his father and brother. His mother was his aid in this act. She planned it all and saw it went through. Genesis 27:43-44, 43 Now then, my son, do what I say: Flee at once to my brother Laban in Harran. 44 Stay with him for a while until your brother’s fury subsides. Following the instructions of his mother, Jacob sought refuge in the house of Laban. For twenty long years, Jacob worked like a slave in his maternal uncle Laban’s house. Laban deceived Jacob ten times. Jacob married both the daughters of Laban, Rachel and Leah. Jacob understood that Laban and his sons did not think favorably of him.

Jacob was not forgotten by the Lord of his forefathers. Genesis: 31:3, Then the Lord said to Jacob, “Go back to the land of your fathers and to your relatives, and I will be with you.” Yahweh asked Jacob to return to his land. When Jacob had fled from his brother Esau, the Lord has promised that He will never abandon Jacob. Genesis 28:15,15 I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.” When Jacob was in the house of Laban we do not read about him maintaining the relationship with the Lord. Jacob was preoccupied in gathering material wealth. Jacob had two wives, several children, servants, herds of animals, etc. But it must be noticed he was bankrupt spiritually.

Jacob was yet again in the midst of troubles. He was about to meet his brother whom he had deceived twice. Here too we see the cunning brain of Jacob come to the forefront. He tried to bribe his way by sending several gifts and presents to his own brother. He divided his wealth and belonging into two parts. He though that if he lose one part atleast he will be left with the other half. Jacob sent all his possessions across the ford and was alone himself. Genesis 32: 23-24, 23 After he had sent them across the stream, he sent over all his possessions. 24 So Jacob was left alone,…When Jacob was left alone he wrestled with an angel of the Lord till daybreak. Seeing that Jacob could not be overpowered the angel touched the socket of Jacob’s hip and Jacob lost. But not before he sought blessing. Genesis 32:26, 26 Then the man said, “Let me go, for it is daybreak.” But Jacob replied, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” It was time when Jacob was left all alone. The angel blessed him and he was renamed Israel. Genesis: 32:28, 28 Then the man said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with humans and have overcome.” This must be noticed and given prime importance. Dear children of God, pay attention that when Jacob was lonely, Lord was the only refuge and succour. All the fears of Jacob were unnecessary as all that he feared never came to be. Esau on meeting Jacob after 20 years hugged his brother and wept. Revenge and hate all were wiped away by the tears.

Dear brothers and sister, think what did Jacob gain after deceiving his father and brother. For what did he get into squabble with Laban and his sons, and work as a slave for his own uncle?? Upon returning to his own land can you imagine the thoughts and feelings that he experienced?? Fear, uncertainty, sorrow, doubts about the future, how will he be received at his home, etc????

Genesis 12:1, The Lord had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you. Here we read that our forefather Abraham was called out by the Lord to go the land He will show. Abraham left everything behind to follow the Lord. Lot too went along with Abraham. When their servants got into a fight, Abraham decided to part ways for the betterment of both the groups. Abraham gave the deciding power to Lot as to which land he will have. Lot lifted his head and seeing the beautiful land near Jordan river he decided to go to that land. Abraham got the wilderness of Canaan. The Lord blessed Abraham with abundance. The land Lot chose was full of wickedness and sin. Genesis 13:13, 13 Now the people of Sodom were wicked and were sinning greatly against the Lord. Lord decided to destroy Sodom-Gomorrah owing to its sinful ways. When the Lord decided to destroy the city He thought of Abraham, and decided to save his brother’s son Lot and his family. Lot had to flee the city his wife and two daughters leaving all their possessions behind. They had been strictly told not to turn to look back. But Lot’s wife turned back to look and was turned into a salt pillar.

Dear children of God, there are several Jacobs and Lots among us. No matter how they see and hear, their hunger for wealth and authority does not subside. Today’s world is one which is filled with lust for earthly wealth and pleasure. the reason is simple. Today the means to satisfy this hunger and lust are innumerable. What has it lead us to??? We are incapable of loving and respecting each other in our families. Those with children in their old age are left at the mercy of the servants and helpers. The children are long gone to seek their wealth. The others are sent into old age homes, cages for old people. Today only those who are equal in wealth and status are accepted in the family. Or else own siblings are humiliated and insulted. What do we expect from the coming generation who are growing seeing and hearing this consumeristic attitude???? All the siblings in the families need to ponder and reflect here. What example are we giving to the next generation?? The way that Jacob followed must be a lesson before us. Father Abraham must be the ideal that we live our lives.

Proverbs 15:16, 16 Better a little with the fear of the Lord
    than great wealth with turmoil.

Proverbs 22:1, A good name is more desirable than great riches;
    to be esteemed is better than silver or gold.

The Perfect Stephen

Saint Stephen, the First Martyr – Feast - My Catholic Life!

The Bible tells us very little about Stephen, (Acts 6-7). He was one of those martyred for speaking about our Lord Jesus. Let us now look at some of the qualities that the Bible tells us about him.

1. Complete Faith in the Lord: Acts 6:5, This proposal pleased the whole group. They chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit;

In Hebrews 11:1, Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. It tells us what is faith.

Hebrews 11:6, And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. It tells us that we cannot please God if we lack faith in Him.

Stephen pleased God through his strong faith. Due to his faith he was strengthened by the Holy Spirit. His faith was so strong that no one could argue with him. Acts 6:10, 10 But they could not stand up against the wisdom the Spirit gave him as he spoke. This is one of the qualities that we can see in the Apostles of Christ. The Bible teaches us that those who have faith see the magnificence and glory of God. Stephen was blessed to see this glory with his own eyes. Acts 7: 55-56,  55 But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. 56 “Look,” he said, “I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.”

2. He was filled with grace from God: Divine grace( Kripa) means being bestowed with blessing we do not deserve. Those who receive divine grace also receive divine blessings, for eg: Mother Mary. An ordinary girl, she received divine grace and was greeted by Archangel Gabriel as ” Hail, full of grace…”. Those are blessed with divine grace experience physical and mental transformation. Acts 6:15, 15 All who were sitting in the Sanhedrin looked intently at Stephen, and they saw that his face was like the face of an angel.

3. He was full of wisdom: Acts 6: 10, 10 But they could not stand up against the wisdom the Spirit gave him as he spoke. He was full of wisdom as he was blessed by the Holy Spirit. When he was brought before the Sanhedrin on charges of blasphemy, he spoke with wisdom about our forefathers. From Abraham to Solomon he spoke to them about the glory of God. He replied in full confidence that they persecuted all those proclaimed about the coming of the Messiah( Lord Jesus). John 1:1,In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

The Bible teaches us that the Word was with God. Stephen proclaimed these words. Divine wisdom does not let us succumb to the traps of emotions and feelings, rather it helps develop wisdom and stature. These people are led by the Holy Spirit. Proverbs 18:15, The heart of the discerning acquires knowledge,
    for the ears of the wise seek it out.

4. Full of Love: Our Heavenly Father loves us so much that He gave up His only Son as sacrifice to pay for our sins. The Son prayed for forgiveness for those who crucified Him at the time of His crucifixion. The Lord taught us to pray for the enemies and to love them. Holy Stephen too followed the path of the Lord. He prayed for those who were stoning Him, Acts 7:60, 60 Then he fell on his knees and cried out, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” When he had said this, he fell asleep.

1 Corinthians 13:2-7, If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

People like Stephen are lost in families, society and parishes today. Due to this people are not being used with divine grace. This is true since even after 2000 years of Christ’s crucifixion, there are millions who are still unaware of His mercy, Grace and Salvation.

Before the coming of the Messiah, John the Baptist paved way to make ready a people prepared for the Lord. He gave up his life for the truth. Stephen was also martyred for the truth. One who has dedicated himself/herself can only prepare others for the Lord. This was made possible by the strength they received from the Holy Spirit. Acts 7:55, 55 But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God.

May the Lord strengthen and bless many with the Holy Spirit before the Second Coming of the Lord. May several be prepared for the Lord.

AMEN

The Apostle in India

The Bible teaches us that the apostle Thomas was a doubting disciple.  When Jesus appeared after His resurrection before the disciples, apostle Thomas was not among them. John 20:25-27, 25 So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!” But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”

26 A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”

It is known that in AD 52 apostle Thomas arrived in India, Kerala. Before His ascension into heaven Jesus sent His disciples to the four corners of the world to spread his word, Mark 16:15, 15 He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. In this manner apostle Thomas came to India having travelled the distant seas. The difficulties that apostle Thomas faced are beyond one’s imagination. The journey that apostle Thomas undertook to India  was something he had not prepared for since he didn’t know a land named India, its language or its people. We can certainly believe that the apostle Thomas arrived in India in accordance with the Lord’s plan. Who would believe a man who arrived suddenly one day to spread the word of the Lord? The time that he had come to India it was every way possible that he would suffer major injuries and suffering  and could even die for his mission. The question arises why did he then arrive in Kerala? 

The first miracle that apostle Thomas performed was near a water tank where the Hindu brahmins of Kerala were performing ablution to the Sun god by throwing water in the air and chanting vedic mantras. Seeing this action, apostle Thomas was amused and he inquired what they were doing.  When they informed him that they were performing worship to the Sun god, the apostle Thomas challenged them that if he made water from the tank to stop in the mid air would they then believe in the Lord he came to spread the word about. They agreed. He prayed to the Lord and made the water stop in the mid air. Seeing this miracle, the brahmins present there believed in the lord and were baptized by him there itself.  Another miracle performed by the apostle Thomas in Kerala was that he took a huge amount of money from a famous king who ruled at that time saying that he would build him a huge mansion.  But apostle Thomas used the money to help the needy and the poor.On hearing what the apostle Thomas had done the king was furious and had him imprisoned. After a few days the king’s brother died and on reaching heaven he saw that a beautiful golden mansion was built in heaven for his brother owing to the good deeds done in his name by the apostle Thomas. The king’s brother came back alive and shared this with the king who then set the apostle free and became a believer. 

Apostle Thomas has established more than seven churches in Kerala. The first church was established in Palayur, Kerala. In this way the Christians in Kerala came to be known as Marthoma Christians.  The mission which began with apostle Thomas arriving in Kerala continues till date. The question which arises in the mind now is how many people continue to walk in the same path which he undertook of faith and truth? Today it is all about comfort and convenience.  Faith has taken a backseat and everyone follows the path which the apostle showed us in tandem with one’s own personal comfort and convenience. 11 disciples of Jesus became Martyrs. Apostle John was exiled to the island of Patmos which at that time was inhabited. Apostle Thomas was also martyred in Tamilnadu by the people there in Mylapore. He was stabbed from behind by a spear and died there. July 3rd is observed in India as the feast day of Saint Thomas remembering his sacrifice and his mission to spread the good news and the coming of the Lord.

Today along with me several people in India proudly say and believe that we have a living Lord. The Bible teaches us that the Heavenly Father loves the world so much that He gave his only son as sacrifice for our sins. John 3:16-18, 16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.

Dear children of God, take a moment here to pause and think the Lord loved us so much that he gave His only Son for us. But how much love do we have for him? And how much do we really Express in our daily life for Him?  Dear Children of God, the blessings and salvation that we daily receive are desired by everyone. But just think how would they get what they desire if they have not heard the good news?  How will they believe without hearing? Let us all make an effort to spread the word of God and express our gratitude and adoration to apostle Thomas for having brought the good news to us all. Let us pray together that we too experience the power of the Holy Spirit, Pentecostal experience that the disciples had in the old days. May millions experience that glory and power. 

Amen

Romans 10:13-15, 13 for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”[

14 How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? 15 And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!

I remember the old times

David's Dance (2 Samuel 6:12-23) – Growing Up, God, and Being Busy

Psalm 143: 5, I remember the days of long ago;
    I meditate on all your works
    and consider what your hands have done.

1.David: After David became king, he brought the ark of the covenant to the city of David. When the ark reached the city, they offered sacrifices to the Lord to honor Him. 2 Samuel 6:14,14 Wearing a linen ephod, David was dancing before the Lord with all his might,15 while he and all Israel were bringing up the ark of the Lord with shouts and the sound of trumpets. Michal, the daughter of Saul saw all this from a window. 2 Samuel 6:16,  And when she saw King David leaping and dancing before the Lord, she despised him in her heart. When David had placed the ark inside the tent pitched specially for it, David sacrificed burnt offerings and fellowship offerings before the Lord. Being a benevolent king, 2 Samuel 6:18-19, 18 After he had finished sacrificing the burnt offerings and fellowship offerings, he blessed the people in the name of the Lord Almighty. 19 Then he gave a loaf of bread, a cake of dates and a cake of raisins to each person in the whole crowd of Israelites, both men and women. And all the people went to their homes. David returned to the palace. He wanted to bless his household. Michal on the other hand despised him and ridiculed him for dancing half naked. David remembered his old days, from the day he was a shepherd boy to his being anointed the king. Since Michal had ridiculed the Lord in ridiculing David for his adoration and love of the Lord. The Lord punished her, 2 Samuel 6:23 23 And Michal daughter of Saul had no children to the day of her death.

David was the youngest son of Jesse. The eldest three were part of Saul’s army. The young boy David was a shepherd. Yet, the Lord chose young David to slay the giant Goliath. When Michal ridiculed David, he remembered his old days till the time of him being a king. 2 Samuel 6:22, I will become even more undignified than this, and I will be humiliated in my own eyes. But by these slave girls you spoke of, I will be held in honor.”

Psalms 138:3, When I called, you answered me;
    you greatly emboldened me.

2. Joseph: Joseph was hated by his elder brothers for being the beloved of their father. They threw him into a dry well and later sold him to Egyptians as a slave. In all these actions, the grace of the Lord was working in protecting him and leading him to future glory. Joseph had reached Egypt as a slave. The Lord brought him to the position of second in command after the Pharaoh. It is to be noticed that the Pharaoh got Joseph married. Genesis 41:45, 45 Pharaoh gave Joseph the name Zaphenath-Paneah and gave him Asenath daughter of Potiphera, priest of On, to be his wife. And Joseph went throughout the land of Egypt. Joseph had two sons. When we read the Bible we see how he gives glory to the Lord. Genesis 41: 51-52, Joseph named his firstborn Manasseh and said, “It is because God has made me forget all my trouble and all my father’s household.” 52 The second son he named Ephraim and said, “It is because God has made me fruitful in the land of my suffering.”

David and Joseph did not forget the grace they received from the Lord. Instead it became the reason for them to be blessed with more abundance and glory.

Parents today find satisfaction in giving in all the available luxuries to their children. In the rush to give them all facilities and luxuries, parents often forget to tell their children about the hardships they faced in their lives to reach where they are, and the hand of God which always guided and protected them and blessed them. The result is that today’s generation in the journey of life are not able to face the hardships and sacrifices that life throws at them. They often fall down. They do not experience the hand of God in their lives. Isn’t this a serious matter, just think???? The people of Israel forgot what the Lord had done for them and started to crib about everything in sight. The result was that their words and actions angered the Lord and they were punished. Let us not make our children forget the several blessings and graces that we receive from the Lord daily.

Deuteronomy 11:19,19 Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.

Psalm 138:5, May they sing of the ways of the Lord,
    for the glory of the Lord is great.

Let us all follow the steps of our forefather David and not forget the time gone by. The life of Joseph should always be before us as an example that in the midst of trials and tribulations we can trust and have faith in the Lord to draw us out of it.

Amen.

Abraham and Lot

ABRAHAM AND LOT | Abraham and lot, Bible illustrations, Bible pictures

Genesis 13:12-13,12 Abram lived in the land of Canaan, while Lot lived among the cities of the plain and pitched his tents near Sodom. 13 Now the people of Sodom were wicked and were sinning greatly against the Lord.

In today’s time one of the most common scenario in most homes is that of the young generation moving out of the safety of their homes to new unknown countries for the purpose of education or jobs. Most often we do not get a housing we desire. At times this affects our lives in unexplainable manners. If we do not have good neighbors and friends we might end up in trouble.

Let us now observe the lives of two people. Following the instructions from the Father almighty, our forefather Abram set out with whole family into an unknown land. He did not question or doubt the saying of the Lord. Abram was accompanied by Lot, his brother’s son. The Lord had blessed both of them with abundance and wealth.

Genesis 13:5-7,Now Lot, who was moving about with Abram, also had flocks and herds and tents. But the land could not support them while they stayed together, for their possessions were so great that they were not able to stay together. And quarreling arose between Abram’s herders and Lot’s. …. Abraham built an altar to the Lord and gave thanks and praised Him. There is no mention that Lot too thanked and praised the Lord. The two of them then travelled in opposite directions. Abraham had given him the freedom to chose whichever direction he wanted to go. Genesis 13:10-13,10 Lot looked around and saw that the whole plain of the Jordan toward Zoar was well watered, like the garden of the Lord, like the land of Egypt. (This was before the Lord destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah.) 11 So Lot chose for himself the whole plain of the Jordan and set out toward the east. The two men parted company: 12 Abram lived in the land of Canaan, while Lot lived among the cities of the plain and pitched his tents near Sodom. 13 Now the people of Sodom were wicked and were sinning greatly against the Lord.

In chapter 14 we read that a war happened in the land. The king of Sodom fell while fleeing for his life from the enemy kings. All that Lot and his family has accumulated was plundered. Genesis 14:14-16, 14 When Abram heard that his relative had been taken captive, he called out the 318 trained men born in his household and went in pursuit as far as Dan. 15 During the night Abram divided his men to attack them and he routed them, pursuing them as far as Hobah, north of Damascus. 16 He recovered all the goods and brought back his relative Lot and his possessions, together with the women and the other people. It is important to observe who received Abraham when he returned from defeating the other kings.

Genesis 14, 18-20, 18 Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. He was priest of God Most High, 19 and he blessed Abram, saying,

“Blessed be Abram by God Most High,
    Creator of heaven and earth.
20 And praise be to God Most High,
    who delivered your enemies into your hand.”

We need to ponder about what kind of people did Abraham live with.

Sarah had died. He went looking for an appropriate place to bury her. Genesis 23: 2-6, She died at Kiriath Arba (that is, Hebron) in the land of Canaan, and Abraham went to mourn for Sarah and to weep over her.

Then Abraham rose from beside his dead wife and spoke to the Hittites. He said, “I am a foreigner and stranger among you. Sell me some property for a burial site here so I can bury my dead.”

The Hittites replied to Abraham, “Sir, listen to us. You are a mighty prince among us. Bury your dead in the choicest of our tombs. None of us will refuse you his tomb for burying your dead.” It is noticeable and to be appreciated the way the Hittites respect and are polite towards Abraham. We should think how the people around us perceive us, God’s own children.

Lot had selected the sinful land of Sodom-Gomorrah only having seen the green land and abundance. Due to the sinful ways of the land Lord decided to destroy everything in it. Two angels of the Lord reached Sodom. Lot was standing near the gates of the city. Even though Lot was a newcomer, by this we can understand that he had made himself a man of status and position there. It is possible that the sinful ways of Sodom disturbed Lot during his initial stay. Slowly slowly he became accustomed and habitual to their ways.

Lot took the two angels who had reached Sodom to his house. Seeing the two angels, it is unthinkable what the people of Sodom wanted to do with the angels. Genesis 19:4-8,

Before they had gone to bed, all the men from every part of the city of Sodom—both young and old—surrounded the house. They called to Lot, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us so that we can have sex with them.”

Lot went outside to meet them and shut the door behind him and said, “No, my friends. Don’t do this wicked thing. Look, I have two daughters who have never slept with a man. Let me bring them out to you, and you can do what you like with them. But don’t do anything to these men, for they have come under the protection of my roof.”

“Get out of our way,” they replied. “This fellow came here as a foreigner, and now he wants to play the judge! We’ll treat you worse than them.” They kept bringing pressure on Lot and moved forward to break down the door.

In his search for more wealth and luxury in life, Lot had selected the evil and sinful land of Sodom. Even though Lot was a righteous man, he had to pay a heavy price for having chosen to live in Sodom. He lost all his wealth and his wife. What his daughters did to him is beyond the thinking of any of us. It was incest that they impregnated themselves through their own father, without his knowledge. Abraham was man of the Lord who always praised and glorified Him. When Lot was with Abraham it is understood that he too must have praised and glorified Lord. The time that Lot was with Abraham he was blessed both spiritually and in material terms as well.

Abraham and Lot had travelled out together. We have seen with whom and how Abraham spent his life. On the other hand, what kind of people did Lot have as neighbors??? Dear children of God, this lapse can happen even from us. In our run after the material luxuries of this life we should always remember these two people. When his teacher was being handed over to be persecuted, Peter chose to be among the enemy camp. The result, he denied Lord Jesus three times. Think, if we came to the situation these people were in which way would we take, Abraham, Lot or Peter??? Think over where we were and where we are now. Try and balance between what you have gathered here and what you have lost. Think among whom do you live??

Psalm 1:1-6,

Blessed is the one
    who does not walk in step with the wicked
or stand in the way that sinners take
    or sit in the company of mockers,
but whose delight is in the law of the Lord,
    and who meditates on his law day and night.
That person is like a tree planted by streams of water,
    which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither—
    whatever they do prospers.

Not so the wicked!
    They are like chaff
    that the wind blows away.
Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
    nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.

For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous,
    but the way of the wicked leads to destruction.

Do not become a fool when you see wealth

Summer Blockbusters: The Rich Fool - Main Street UMC

Luke 12: 13-21, The Parable of the rich fool

Is it wrong to say that man labors each day to accumulate some wealth for himself and his family??? The answer is, No. A farmer has to work really hard for his crop to reach harvest. He needs to get the soil ready for irrigation. Besides that he needs to ensure that the crop is of good quality as well the fertilizers that would help the crop grow. If there is no rain on time, he needs to find a way to water the crop. If he finds the existing barns not enough to store the surplus crops, he will break it down and build a bigger one.

The things mentioned above are really essential. One reaches desired destination or results only if practical mind and capabilities go hand in hand. Why does Lord Jesus then call the rich man in the parable a fool? Let us look upon certain things:

1.No one knows what will happen tomorrow: There is no one on earth who can predict what will happen in the next moment. The rich man does not say that with grace of God I will be able to build bigger barns. He trusted only his own capabilities and says “I will”. He forgot about the Lord who has the power to reduce or increase our life on earth. He forgot the Lord who blesses our hard work and labor. The rich man forgot himself when he saw his rich crop and the wealth it would bring. He forgot to glorify the Lord for the flourishing harvest.

2.He forgot about those who labored for him: Being a rich man he must have had acres of fields to himself. To have them cropped he must have had several laborers too who slaved day and night to get a good harvest. He forgot about their hard work and sweat. He became selfish and self centered on seeing such an abundant harvest and wanted all luxuries for himself. He forgot to share the abundance. He does not even say me and my family… He sees his workers as mere tools to get richness and wealth. It is important to look within ourselves and see if we too have this mindset. We should never forget the labor and sweat of people in the background who have helped each one of us reach where we are. Today, the times are so vile, that we often forgot about our own parents who have sacrificed so much for our success and to get us to have a status/position in society.

3.Al things belong to the Lord Almighty: If we introspect and look deep with ourselves, don’t we too have this illusion like the rich man that everything is mine. This is selfish and handicap thinking. Man is only a caretaker on this earth of all things created by the Lord. We should never forgot that we are mere visitors on this earth and do not have a permanent stay here. Each day there is a birth and a death. This is happening since the dawn of creation and will continue till the end of time. We often forgot that we brought nothing to earth when we were born, and would take back nothing when we die. It is the vicious cycle of life for everyone; no matter how much you and I have labored and worked hard, or have luxuries, we have to pass it on to someone else when we die. The Lord Almighty decides the next heir and for how long. This should be a warning for those living with the I, ME MINE concept.

4.He forgot the one who gave favorable conditions for abundance: James 5:18, 18 Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops.

Leviticus 26:4, I will send you rain in its season, and the ground will yield its crops and the trees their fruit.

Deuteronomy 11:14, 14 then I will send rain on your land in its season, both autumn and spring rains, so that you may gather in your grain, new wine and olive oil.

The rich man very easily forgot the Lord who provided him with favorable conditions for his crop to harvest in abundance. The Lord knows the labor each one of us puts into our work and how it can be destroyed in a blink. Yet He controls the nature and blesses man with rain and sunlight, and other conditions for advantage of man. Job 5:10,

10 He provides rain for the earth;
    he sends water on the countryside.

Like the rich man, today man has become self centered in all areas of his/her life. To accumulate wealth man is blinded in his greed and often forgets people around him, and destroys or harms nature beyond repair. We forget what we are passing on to the coming generation. Man is already paying the price for harming nature and destroying the balance.

Dear children of children, let us not become selfish like the rich man. Let us care for the people around us and also the beautiful nature gifted to us. If not, the Lord Himself gives a warning to those who run blindly after wealth.

Luke 12:20-21, 20 “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’

21 “This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God.”

The eyes of the Lord are always upon us

Hagar (Agar) e Ismael, uma questão de justiça e de graça - Notícias de  Israel - Cafetorah

1.Hagar: Genesis 16:13, 13 She gave this name to the Lord who spoke to her: “You are the God who sees me,” for she said, “I have now seen the One who sees me.” Abraham and Sarah were a childless couple. When they did not have kids, Sarah in the hope of having a child asked Abraham to take one of her servants. The child then borne from her, Sarah would take as her own. Abraham agreed to her plan. He slept with Hagar, the Egyptian slave Sarah had given him, and she conceived. The joy was short lived. When she knew she was pregnant, she began to despise her mistress, Sarah. Then Sarah mistreated Hagar; so she fled from her into the desert. There the angel of the Lord appeared to her and asked her, Genesis 16:8,  And he said, “Hagar, slave of Sarai, where have you come from, and where are you going?” She replied that she was fleeing from the ill treatment meted out by Sarah. Then the angel of the Lord told her, “Go back to your mistress and submit to her.”

Hagar had no status or position. She was only a slave yet the most compassionate Lord saw her broken heart. The Lord sent His angel to her to help heal her pain. Genesis 16: 10-12,10 The angel added, “I will increase your descendants so much that they will be too numerous to count.”

11 The angel of the Lord also said to her:

“You are now pregnant
    and you will give birth to a son.
You shall name him Ishmael,
    for the Lord has heard of your misery.
12 He will be a wild donkey of a man;
    his hand will be against everyone
    and everyone’s hand against him,
and he will live in hostility
    toward all his brothers.”

2.Jacob: Jacob fled for his life after cheating his own father and brother, to his maternal uncle, Laban’s place. Jacob was dearly loved by his mother. She helped him in tricking her own elder son, Esau. Even here, he fled the country under his mother’s instructions for safety. He is alone now, disheartened and lonely. He was amidst the mental storm of the memories of his home and family, and the anxiety for his future. Genesis 28:11, 11 When he reached a certain place, he stopped for the night because the sun had set. Taking one of the stones there, he put it under his head and lay down to sleep. 

Genesis 28:12-15, 18, 12 He had a dream in which he saw a stairway resting on the earth, with its top reaching to heaven, and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it. 13 There above it stood the Lord, and he said: “I am the Lord, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac. I will give you and your descendants the land on which you are lying. 14 Your descendants will be like the dust of the earth, and you will spread out to the west and to the east, to the north and to the south. All peoples on earth will be blessed through you and your offspring. 15 I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.”

18 Early the next morning Jacob took the stone he had placed under his head and set it up as a pillar and poured oil on top of it. 19 He called that place Bethel, though the city used to be called Luz.

3.Israelites: The Pharaoh was afraid of the increasing number of the Israelites in Egypt. So he started to ill treat them and torture them. He made them his slaves. Exodus 3:7-8,10, The Lord said, “I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering.  So I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey—the home of the Canaanites,….10 So now, go. I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt.” The Lord performed numerous miracles. He rescued them from the hands of the Egyptians and looked after them. After the death of Moses, the Lord chose Joshua as the next leader and led them to the promised land, Canaan.

4.Daniel: The young boy decided that he will not defile himself by eating or drinking what was offered by the king. Daniel asked for help from the guard whom the chief official had appointed. The guard was scared of the king. Daniel pleaded with him,  Daniel 1:12, 12 “Please test your servants for ten days: Give us nothing but vegetables to eat and water to drink. 13 Then compare our appearance with that of the young men who eat the royal food, and treat your servants in accordance with what you see.” 14 So he agreed to this and tested them for ten days. The Lord was with Daniel. After ten days in comparison with other boys Daniel and his friends looked healthier and better nourished than any of the young men who ate the royal food. The Lord again saved Daniel and his friends from the pit of fire and from the lions. He is a Lord who always sees us.

5. Apostle Peter: Acts 12, Peter’s Miraculous Escape From Prison

Apostle Peter was imprisoned by King Herod for talking about Jesus, and spreading His words. He was arrested and put into prison, handing him over to be guarded by four squads of four soldiers each. The night before Herod was to bring Peter to trial, he was sleeping between two soldiers, bound in chains. An angel of the Lord appeared before him and asked him to get up. Immediately his chains feel off. The angel then asked him to clothe himself and follow him. Acts 12: 9-10, Peter followed him out of the prison, but he had no idea that what the angel was doing was really happening; he thought he was seeing a vision. 10 They passed the first and second guards and came to the iron gate leading to the city. It opened for them by itself, and they went through it. When they had walked the length of one street, suddenly the angel left him. Peter thought he was seeing a vision, but when the angel disappeared it dawned on him that it was all real. He was saved by the Lord through the angel.

Dear children of God, be it a desert, a servant, a slave, a boy or an apostle, the Lord always sees us. This is not the witness of just one person. There are uncountable examples in the Bible. Even today there are several around the world who experience and witness the glory and presence of God.

Psalms 33:18, 18 But the eyes of the Lord are on those who fear him,
    on those whose hope is in his unfailing love,

Psalms 139: 8-10, If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
    if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
    if I settle on the far side of the sea,
10 even there your hand will guide me,
    your right hand will hold me fast.

Psalms 139:13-18, 13 For you created my inmost being;
    you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
    your works are wonderful,
    I know that full well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you
    when I was made in the secret place,
    when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed body;
    all the days ordained for me were written in your book
    before one of them came to be.
17 How precious to me are your thoughts,[a] God!
    How vast is the sum of them!
18 Were I to count them,
    they would outnumber the grains of sand—
    when I awake, I am still with you.

Dear sister and brother, may each example given above and words of God, fill us with hope and help us live in contentment. Place your hope and trust in the Creator. He will never abandon you.

Isaiah 49: “Can a mother forget the baby at her breast
    and have no compassion on the child she has borne?
Though she may forget,
    I will not forget you!
16 See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands;
    your walls are ever before me.

Do not trivialize the word of God

In the Old Testament we have several times read that when the sins of the world increased, there is intervention from the Lord. It is not necessary that the sins and actions that man considers as trivial are trivial before the Lord as well. The Lord is holy, there is nothing unholy in Him. In the New Testament, Jesus, the Son of God, repeats these happenings before everyone. He then reiterates that His coming also would be like this-without any forewarning. He told us to look around ourselves, observe and be vigilant about the changes. During the time of Noah, the great floods destroyed the whole world. Before the floods, Noah too prophesied the word of God before everyone. We see that everyone mocked and ridiculed his words. What about today???

1.Noah and family: Genesis 6:13, 13 So God said to Noah, “I am going to put an end to all people, for the earth is filled with violence because of them. I am surely going to destroy both them and the earth. Without any questions or doubt, Noah and his family followed every instruction that was given by the Lord. Noah wanting to save other must definitely have shared the word of God with others too. It is regretful that they were so seeped into the sin that they did not pay heed and ridiculed him. In the great floods, the whole earth was destroyed, except for the Family of Noah and the animals and birds inside the Ark. The Bible teaches us that the Lord blessed those with abundance who follow His instructions with obedience.

2.Lot and his family: The sins of the people of Sodom and Gomorrah had increased manifold. Two angels were sent to Sodom-Gomorrah by the Lord. They came to Lot, son of Abraham’s brother. Genesis 19:12-14, 12 The two men said to Lot, “Do you have anyone else here—sons-in-law, sons or daughters, or anyone else in the city who belongs to you? Get them out of here, 13 because we are going to destroy this place. The outcry to the Lord against its people is so great that he has sent us to destroy it.” 14 So Lot went out and spoke to his sons-in-law, who were pledged to marry his daughters. He said, “Hurry and get out of this place, because the Lord is about to destroy the city!” But his sons-in-law thought he was joking. They paid no heed to the words of God and had to suffer the consequences.

Genesis 19:24, 24 Then the Lord rained down burning sulfur on Sodom and Gomorrah—from the Lord out of the heavens. They considered the words of warning as rather trivial and paid no attention. Hence, they too were burned down with the rest of the people of Sodom-Gomorrah. The Lord had said to them that while none of them should turn back. Genesis 19:26, 26 But Lot’s wife looked back, and she became a pillar of salt.

3.King Hezekiah: King Hezekiah after the complete purification of the temple decided to celebrate the Passover festival. 2 Chronicles 30:10, 10 The couriers went from town to town in Ephraim and Manasseh, as far as Zebulun, but people scorned and ridiculed them. The people did not purify themselves as the Lord had instructed and also said by King Hezekiah, and celebrated the Passover. The King who had desired to please the Lord by doing what is right in the eyes of the Lord prayed for them. 2 Chronicles 30:18-20, 18 Although most of the many people who came from Ephraim, Manasseh, Issachar and Zebulun had not purified themselves, yet they ate the Passover, contrary to what was written. But Hezekiah prayed for them, saying, “May the Lord, who is good, pardon everyone 19 who sets their heart on seeking God—the Lord, the God of their ancestors—even if they are not clean according to the rules of the sanctuary.” 20 And the Lord heard Hezekiah and healed the people. Let us all also pray for the healing of the world.

4.Jonah: The city of Nineveh was drowning in sin. The Lord chose Jonah and sent him to prophecy the destruction of the city if they did not repent. What did Jonah do? Instead of going to Nineveh he went to Tarshish. Tired and exhausted, Jonah slept peacefully below the deck of the ship. Our Father wanting to protect His children from sin, made the winds blow wildly across the sea and there was a violent storm. Jonah 1:6, The captain went to him and said, “How can you sleep? Get up and call on your god! Maybe he will take notice of us so that we will not perish.” The same question is put before each one us by the Father in heaven. Accepting his mistakes, Jonah asks the captain to throw him into the sea. The raging sea became calm. Jonah 1:17, 17 Now the Lord provided a huge fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights. Jonah cried out to the Father in heaven, Jonah 2:1-10,


From inside the fish Jonah prayed to the Lord his God. He said:

“In my distress I called to the Lord,
    and he answered me.
From deep in the realm of the dead I called for help,
    and you listened to my cry.
You hurled me into the depths,
    into the very heart of the seas,
    and the currents swirled about me;
all your waves and breakers
    swept over me.
I said, ‘I have been banished
    from your sight;
yet I will look again
    toward your holy temple.’
…….

But I, with shouts of grateful praise,
    will sacrifice to you.
What I have vowed I will make good.
    I will say, ‘Salvation comes from the Lord.’”

10 And the Lord commanded the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry land. Jonah reached the city of Nineveh and gave the Lord’s warning. From the King to the common man, everyone was afraid and had a change of heart. They repented from their sins. Jonah 3:6-10, When Jonah’s warning reached the king of Nineveh, he rose from his throne, took off his royal robes, covered himself with sackcloth and sat down in the dust. This is the proclamation he issued in Nineveh:

“By the decree of the king and his nobles:

Do not let people or animals, herds or flocks, taste anything; do not let them eat or drink. But let people and animals be covered with sackcloth. Let everyone call urgently on God. Let them give up their evil ways and their violence. Who knows? God may yet relent and with compassion turn from his fierce anger so that we will not perish.”

10 When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, he relented and did not bring on them the destruction he had threatened.

The word of God clearly teaches us that the Lord takes sin very seriously. The result of sin is death of the spirit/soul. Today, repentance and sins are meaningless words for everyone as they live life on their own terms sinking in worldly pleasures. Certain group of people think that the second coming of Jesus and the final judgement are all old school thinking, rudimentary and baseless.

We easily say that the sins of the world were not as severe as they are in today’s time. We have read and seen those who have followed the word of God and those who have ignored them. Today, the children of God are testing His patience. Unlike Noah, they have fled from the sight of the Lord and living on their terms and desires. The end result will be like those who ignored, either under water or in the belly of the fish.

Jesus has said that during Noah’s time people lived according to his/her desire. Everything was destroyed in the flood that came unexpectedly. Dear children of God, the earth and sky may disappear but the word of God will not disappear.

Dear Children of God, pause and think. Like the sons in law of Lot, like Lot’s wife, we can either take the words as trivial and ignore them. Or like Nineveh and Noah be rescued and blessed. Think. Just think if these things were to happen without any warning, where does each of us stand?? The Lord selected Noah and Lot from among several families on Earth. Will He do the same for each of us or will we be destroyed? If you desire to be rescued, pay attention to the word of God and obey them will complete submission. Let us all rescue ourselves and the world.

1 Samuel 12:23-24, 23 As for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord by failing to pray for you. And I will teach you the way that is good and right. 24 But be sure to fear the Lord and serve him faithfully with all your heart; consider what great things he has done for you.

The one who sold great things

Genesis 25:32, 32 “Look, I am about to die,” Esau said. “What good is the birthright to me?”

Exodus 13:1-2,The Lord said to Moses, “Consecrate to me every firstborn male. The first offspring of every womb among the Israelites belongs to me, whether human or animal.”

The firstborn child had many privileges. They were entitled to twice the share than rest of the children. In royal families, the eldest son was anointed as king. 2 Chronicles 21:3, Their father had given them many gifts of silver and gold and articles of value, as well as fortified cities in Judah, but he had given the kingdom to Jehoram because he was his firstborn son. Among the two sons of Isaac, Esau was the firstborn. The blessed privilege of being the firstborn was seen as trivial by Esau.

Like this, one day, Esau returned back home, famished after hunting. Jacob was cooking some red stew, and Esau asked some stew to eat. Jacob asked him for his birthright in exchange for the stew. Esau did not think twice and swore his birthright to Jacob.

Hebrews 12:16, 16 See that no one is sexually immoral, or is godless like Esau, who for a single meal sold his inheritance rights as the oldest son. Esau gave up his most valuable birthright for the momentary satisfaction of hunger. Philippians 3:19, 19 Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is set on earthly things. It is regretful to say that this is the desire of the body which made Esau weak.

Judas was one of the twelve disciples of Jesus. The word of God teaches us that Judas was the one who looked after the money, he had the money bag with him. We can believe that in the early times with Jesus, he must have loved and adored the Lord. Judas was also among those whom He had selected to be His apostles. Even though he spent his time with the Son of God, Judas was weak and gave in to temptation of power and money.

It can be said that the hunger for money rose its head within Judas from time to time. For eg: John 12: 4-6, But one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, who was later to betray him, objected, “Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year’s wages.” He did not say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it. Hence it is no surprise that he betrayed the Lord for mere thirty pieces of silver. Exodus 21:32, 32 If the bull gores a male or female slave, the owner must pay thirty shekels of silver to the master of the slave, and the bull is to be stoned to death. This was how trivial Judas valued the life of the Son of God.

Judas had expected the worldly happiness of earth instead of heavenly happiness from Jesus. Instead he had Jesus telling them about the coming days leading to His crucifixion and death. Judas saw all his calculations and plans failing. Judas must have been capable in handling money, which was why Jesus had given the money bag to him to handle. This weakness or flaw was used as advantage by Satan. It is true that even today we have many Judas around us. The end of Judas should be a lesson for each one of us. He had spent more than three and a half years with the Saviour who had come to rescue the sinners. under the grip of Satan, Judas selected suicide rather than reaching out for forgiveness at the feet of the Lord at the time of crucifixion.

Dear children of God, we too would have situations where we would be caught like Esau or Judas. Think before you the final decision. Since somethings once lost can never be retrieved.

Philippians 4:12-13, 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength.

1 John 2:15-17, 15 Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. 16 For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world. 17 The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.