Where does your hope lie??On earth or the Heavenly abode??

Image by Peter Ahrend from Pixabay

Scripture Passage: 1 Peter 1: 13-14: 13 Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming. 14 As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance.

Think: Where does your hope lie?Is it more important to gather wealth and worldly gains, or create a heaven of your imagination on earth? But one doubt, for how long will it last? One day we would have to leave everything and die. Then what ? There is heaven and hell is also there as taught by our Lord Jesus.

Example: Mark 9: 44, ‘the worms that eat them do not die, and the fire is not quenched.’ Also in Matthew 13: 41-43, 41 The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. 42 They will throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 43 Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Whoever has ears, let them hear. Here we read that those who do evil things are sent to the fire of hell and those who follow God’s words will shine like the sun. These are the words of Jesus Himself. Let’s ask a question: The way children of this world live is not the same as the children of God. Understanding this is truth, is it not the time to transform our life??

This century is of high importance, the world is unable to stand the burden of corruption and violence. Wouldn’t the prayer and cries of the truthful and the godly have reached our Father? A similar cry is heard of in the Old Testament, Genesis 6: 11-12, 11 Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight and was full of violence. 12 God saw how corrupt the earth had become, for all the people on earth had corrupted their ways, and in Genesis 6: 5-7, The Lord saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time. The Lord regretted that he had made human beings on the earth, and his heart was deeply troubled. So the Lord said, “I will wipe from the face of the earth the human race I have created—and with them the animals, the birds and the creatures that move along the ground—for I regret that I have made them.” This is before the Great Flood when the earth was full of evil. Don’t you see the signs of the second coming of Christ? If you ask when would Jesus come, it is humanly impossible to set a date, month, or year. And if someone does set a date he/she is a blasphemer/false preacher. The Lord will come again. It is not the discovery of science or the findings of a researcher.

Matthew 24:3, As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately. “Tell us,” they said, “when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?”

Matthew 24: 29-31, 29 “Immediately after the distress of those days “‘the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.’ 30 “Then will appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven. And then all the peoples of the earth will mourn when they see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory. 31 And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other.

Matthew 24: 10-13, 10 At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, 11 and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. 12 Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold,  but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.

These are the words of the Lord Jesus Christ. He will certainly come down to collect believers.

1 John 2: 28, 28 And now, dear children, continue in him, so that when he appears we may be confident and unashamed before him at his coming.

1 John 3: 23, 23 And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us.

Those who have hope in His coming will keep themselves pure and clean. Jesus should be born within us all. This world will be destroyed in its evil. Those who have hope in the Father and Son will repent and change their ways. 2 Corinthians 7: 1, Therefore, since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God.

My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.

It is time to read and ponder over these words of the scriptures. Philemon 3: 18-21, 18 If he has done you any wrong or owes you anything, charge it to me. 19 I, Paul, am writing this with my own hand. I will pay it back—not to mention that you owe me your very self. 20 I do wish, brother, that I may have some benefit from you in the Lord; refresh my heart in Christ. 21 Confident of your obedience, I write to you, knowing that you will do even more than I ask. Our abode is in heaven with the Father. Is there a bigger hope than this???

If our abode is not here on earth then why do we mix into these worldly desires like water and sugar?? 2 Corinthians 5: 1, 5 For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. Those who believe in Jesus and hope in Him should have these engraved into their hearts. With this hope in us, we read in this scripture that we would purify and cleanse ourselves to receive Him.

Abraham was a wealthy man but on God’s calling he left everything and lived in a tent. 2 Peter 3: 14, 14 So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him. Jesus has described the coming of Satan as that of a thief, through many of His parables and preaching. A child of God who believes in Jesus and His words would ponder over them and will consider it the right time to call upon the grace of Holy Spirit

1Corinthians 15: 19, 19 If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied. Our hope should not be limited to this life only. When the distance between the eyes and the goal increases, hurdles, and difficulties also increase manifold. Thus, we should make our goal the heavenly abode and our hope should be in Christ. Let’s go together to the palace in heaven, let’s co-operate with each other, and try together to reach there. Let’s all meet up there. May this be possible for us. May this belief be in us all. May our faith bind us together.

AMEN

Undeserved Wealth

Image by istara from Pixabay

What is undeserved wealth? Without hard work how can one gain wealth? These questions are very meaningful. Money coming from sources other than your income like bribe, interest, etc. are undeserved wealth. Lord created man in the heavenly garden of Eden. Instead of being happy with what they have, they wished to be like God. The result: they were cursed and sent out of Eden. Satan had deceived the woman then. Today both man and woman fall before the temptations of Satan. To be able to live a luxurious life with riches, glamour, and festivity, man does not flinch from taking any possible means to earn money. The christian brothers and sister who earlier used to help each other, are now so tight-fisted that they refuse to look each other because there isn’t enough money for their own lifestyle. The result is that man is now running after minting money and has no time to rest.

The Bible describes the righteous in Psalms 15: 5, who lends money to the poor without interest who does not accept a bribe against the innocent. Whoever does these things will never be shaken. Similarly, the pure mind is described in Ezekiel 18: 7-9, He does not oppress anyone, but returns what he took in pledge for a loan. He does not commit robbery but gives his food to the hungry and provides clothing for the naked. He does not lend to them at interest or take a profit from them. He withholds his hand from doing wrong and judges fairly between two parties. He follows my decrees and faithfully keeps my laws. That man is righteous; he will surely live, declares the Sovereign Lord.

On the other hand, the man in the clutches of wealth and Satan is described as Ezekiel 22: 12, 12 In you are people who accept bribes to shed blood; you take interest and make a profit from the poor. You extort unjust gain from your neighbors. And you have forgotten me, declares the Sovereign Lord. Also in Deuteronomy 23: 19, 19 Do not charge a fellow Israelite interest, whether on money or food or anything else that may earn interest. The Bible warns us against it in Proverbs 28: 8-9, Whoever increases wealth by taking interest or profit from the poor amasses it for another,  who will be kind to the poor. If anyone turns a deaf ear to my instruction, even their prayers are detestable.

Bible asks us to be open-handed, Deuteronomy 15: 7-11, If anyone is poor among your fellow Israelites in any of the towns of the land the  Lord your God is giving you, do not be hardhearted or tightfisted toward them.  8 Rather, be openhanded and freely lend them whatever they need. 9 Be careful not to harbor this wicked thought: “The seventh year, the year for canceling debts, is near,” so that you do not show ill will toward the needy among your fellow Israelites and give them nothing. They may then appeal to the Lord against you, and you will be found guilty of sin. 10 Give generously to them and do so without a grudging heart; then because of this, the Lord your God will bless you in all your work and in everything you put your hand to. 11 There will always be poor people in the land. Therefore I command you to be openhanded toward your fellow Israelites who are poor and needy in your land. Also in Exodus 22: 25, 25 “If you lend money to one of my people among you who is needy, do not treat it like a business deal; charge no interest.

The creator of heaven and earth was born among men in a poor carpenter’s house. Jesus could have taken birth in a royal family, but that would have adversely affected the purpose for which the Father had sent Him. There are limitations as a king/prince. It would not be possible to move or live among the poor, needy, and the sinners. In the same way, the Lord has a plan for each of us. But man does not try to understand it and forget that life on earth is momentary. He keeps running after money and wealth, and that is his goal. In truth, man has forgotten how to live. All that we see around us on earth is God’s creation. Thus, everyone has equal rights to it. Yet there are some who claim everything on earth is theirs to claim.

It is the duty of a Christian to lend a helping hand to those facing trials in life. In Psalms 41: 1-2 we read, Blessed are those who have regard for the weak; the  Lord delivers them in times of trouble. The Lord protects and preserves them— they are counted among the blessed in the land— he does not give them over to the desire of their foes. It describes that it pleases Heavenly Father as well when we help people in need. Matthew 25: 40, 40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ The one who earns and hoards wealth through unfair means is detestable in the eyes of the Lord.

Repentance

Scripture passage: Psalms 51: 10, 10 Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.

Everyone remembers the history behind the verses. King David desires Bathsheba ( 2 Samuel 11: 1-3). There was no sin in David looking at the woman. But Satan enters him and he asks his messengers to get her. Due to Satan’s workings his eyes pollute his mind and ensnare him in the trap of lust. He desires her and wants her for himself. A person who has self-control and faith only can defeat the evil plans of Satan. Those who are unable to do so fall into Satan’s evil trap.

From being a shepherd, God blessed David and he became a king with wealth, provinces, and several wives. Even then his desires were not quenched. He slept with Uriah’s wife and had him killed. Man’s evil desires lead him to temptations. A man should learn to be satisfied with what they have. Instead of looking at the wealthy, one should look at how the poor live. While eating food, instead of complaining and criticizing the food, just think about how many people go hungry every day. The rich and wealthy even when living in palaces, desire more wealth and palaces. Instead, wait and think of those who have no shelter and live in the open or on the streets.

David committed a sin. When prophet Nathan reminds him of his sin, David begs two things from God- A pure heart and steadfast spirit. This enables him to pray for the less privileged. Satan cannot work in a pure heart. (Genesis 4:7,If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.”)

Temptations are always before us. For a child of God with a pure heart, he/she will know God and walk in His path. In a pure heart resides the laws of God. God gives a pure heart to know Him and recognize Him. (Jeremiah 24:7,I will give them a heart to know me, that I am the Lord. They will be my people, and I will be their God, for they will return to me with all their heart.)

Jeremiah 31:33, 33 “This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel after that time,” declares the Lord. “I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people.

Psalms 73:1, Surely God is good to Israel, to those who are pure in heart.

David secondly asks God to give him a steadfast spirit (Matthew 26:41, 41 “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”) So to renew spirit and to strengthen it one must pray with his/her whole heart. There is no child of God without the Holy Spirit. But do we prepare our body to receive the spirit. It desires to stay within us forever. Due to evil thoughts and temptations from Satan, will the Spirit leave us?? Are we eager to pray?? Have our conscience been pricked by the Spirit?? The Lord says in Matthew 5: 3, “Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Along with a religious Christian living, confession of sins and repentance is given high importance by Christ to transform into a new creation. This spiritual thirst, or poverty, in other words, leads to the realization of impoverished spirit without Christ. One with a vulnerable and unstable heart is easy to fall into the clutches of temptations. For this, it is essential to have a steadfast spirit. There is only one who can give us a new spirit, the one who resides in the spirit.

Would you also plead to the Lord Almighty like David to be blessed with a pure heart and new steadfast spirit????

Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem

A week before His crucifixion, Jesus went to Jerusalem. Days before His crucifixion Jesus makes a triumphal entry into Jerusalem upon a colt of donkey. As Jesus and His disciples approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage and Bethany, He sent two disciples and asked to bring Him a colt tied there( Matthew 11: 1-12). Jesus gave them instructions like He saw everything with His own eyes (Hebrews 4:13, 13 Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.) Just like He had instructed they found the colt untied it with the permission of the owner and brought it to Jesus. A huge crowd followed Jesus. The disciples placed their robes on the colt, Jesus sat on it. Like a king’s grand entry, Jesus made a triumphant entry. This is where the words of prophet Zechariah come true ( Zechariah 9: 9, Rejoice greatly, Daughter Zion! Shout, Daughter Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and victorious, lowly and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey. )

The Lord’s entry into Jerusalem was grand and beautiful. He was not seated on a horse like a king lusting for ultimate power and authority. Rather he looked like a gentle king seated on a colt. We can look upon it as the entry of King Of Kings, and the Ruler of Rulers. During ancient times, princes traveled on mules and kings traveled on white horses or chariots driven by white horses (Judges 5:10, 10 “You who ride on white donkeys, sitting on your saddle blankets, and you who walk along the road, consider…) (1 Kings 1:33, 33 he said to them: “Take your lord’s servants with you and have Solomon my son mount my own mule and take him down to Gihon.) Hence the ride on the colt is meaningful. He is the King of Peace.

A lot of crowd gathered around Jesus. Among them were the twelve apostles and disciples. Those who followed Jesus into Jerusalem including children sang Hosanna. The people not realizing that He really is the king gathered around him singing Hosanna (Matthew 21: 9, The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” “Hosanna in the highest heaven!” A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from trees and spread them on the road. Let us also Hosanna.

Jesus could have made use of horses and chariots for His entry, instead His life and the entry are examples of His humility and meekness. There is no change even when He enters on a colt. He uses an animal which considered dumb and always insulted by humans.. All that a donkey/mule does is to carry people around or the burden that people put upon it. The colt got a blessed opportunity to be part of an important part of the glorious entry of Jesus. He was blessed to be carrying the Son of God, the creator of heaven and earth. Let us pray to the Lord that we may also become His vehicle.

Every year we celebrate this day with zest and fervor. Let’s try to seat Jesus into our hearts and not pass the day with mere celebration and festivity. Today even if a man starves with hunger, there is no stopping His pomp and show if he can. There is lack of respect for morals and principles. Humility is seen as weakness. Pride rules over many people. Man forgets that the journey of life is like a pilgrimage, but rather joins in the rat race to amass wealth and property. Journey loaded with excess baggage is dangerous. Be it wealth or sin, both are dangerous. Instead we should try and apply to our daily lives the simplicity and humility in the birth and life of Jesus, rather than just praising Him from our lips.

The colt was tied down to a post. To be a vehicle for Christ it needed to be untied from the bonds. Jesus had asked the disciples to untie it. Similarly, the Lord who resides in us, asks of us to untie the worldly chains. So dear brothers and sisters, let us untie the chains that bind us and accept and carry Jesus in us, with us. Let us pray together that He may enter our hearts and reside there, guide us and lead us.

AMEN.

Respect Others

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Scripture Passage: Romans 12: 10, 10 Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.

Respect others. Today its one of the biggest difficulties before us. In the last phase of the twentieth century and the first phase of the twenty first century it can be seen evidently that children feel they are lowering their position by being respectful to parents. The first lesson of respect should be taught and learnt from our homes. Wives that respect their husbands, similarly, husbands that respect their wives’ personality and love and respect them. Young children learn to respect and love aged people only when they see their parents treating grandparents with love and respect. Those who criticize their own brothers and sisters before their children forget that they cannot reprimand their child for doing the same. After all parents are the role models for children.

Relations are now business. When they are of no use/ gain, parents and relatives are thrown out. They are no longer loved, cared or respected. Grandparents who are treated as burden in families leave children with no moral values. Parents without discipline in life are not respected by their own children.

John 1:12, 12 Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—

1 John 3: 1, 3 See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.

Genesis 1: 27, 27 So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. We are created like God in His form as God’s children. And yet we do not cultivate godly blessings like love, care, respect and acceptance. Not just in person but even on the phone we have forgotten to respect people or follow code of conduct. At times after receiving a call we engage in talk with people in front of us, we don’t ask the person on the phone to excuse us, or answer the phone properly. Aren’t all these actions disrespectful and insulting??

The world has progressed in all dimensions but we humans have only deteriorated. we talk in harsh voices with our brothers and sisters and hurt them. 1 John 3: 10-12, 10 This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not God’s child, nor is anyone who does not love their brother and sister. 11 For this is the message you heard from the beginning: We should love one another. 12 Do not be like Cain, who belonged to the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own actions were evil and his brother’s were righteous.

Love and respect are like the two sides of a coin. The one who loves would also respect. We all know about the brother who neither loved nor respected his elder brother. Instead of giving soup to his elder brother who is hungry, he barters it for the rights as the first born i.e. Jacob. Jacob stoops down in the greed for wealth and property. The most sad part is that the mother is his accomplice in cheating her elder son, Esau. Jacob deceives his father Isaac and receives all the blessing as first born which were rightfully Esau’s. Even today we have have mothers like Rebecca.

Just see God’s judgement: Jacob flees his own land to save his life. He loves Laban’s younger daughter, Rachel, but marries the elder daughter, Leah (Genesis 29: 23-30, 23 But when evening came, he took his daughter Leah and brought her to Jacob, and Jacob made love to her. 24 And Laban gave his servant Zilpah to his daughter as her attendant. 25 When morning came, there was Leah! So Jacob said to Laban, “What is this you have done to me? I served you for Rachel, didn’t I? Why have you deceived me?” 26 Laban replied, “It is not our custom here to give the younger daughter in marriage before the older one. 27 Finish this daughter’s bridal week; then we will give you the younger one also, in return for another seven years of work.” 28 And Jacob did so. He finished the week with Leah, and then Laban gave him his daughter Rachel to be his wife. 29 Laban gave his servant Bilhah to his daughter Rachel as her attendant. 30 Jacob made love to Rachel also, and his love for Rachel was greater than his love for Leah. And he worked for Laban another seven years. Its an old saying: those who dig holes for others, fall into it themselves. The Lord gave the results for for Jacob’s actions.

Genesis 27, tells us about Joseph. Jealousy and the dreams seen by Joseph drive his elder brothers to sell him for 20 silver coins. The elder brothers could not find it in their hearts to love their younger brother. They became enemies just because the father loved him more than his other sons. Genesis 45, in times of famine when the brothers came to Egypt , Joseph recognizes them. Instead of seeking revenge, he is in full power to do so. But he chooses to help them out.

In Genesis 45: 2, And he wept so loudly that the Egyptians heard him, and Pharaoh’s household heard about it, we read that Joseph cries out loudly. Man who could make others cry was crying himself. In Genesis 45:14, 14 Then he threw his arms around his brother Benjamin and wept, and Benjamin embraced him, weeping. 15 And he kissed all his brothers and wept over them. Afterward his brothers talked with him, we read he hugs his brothers and cries. Be it elder sibling or younger one we should love and respect them equally. Those who respect others are seen highly by others. Their value increases and not decreases. Those who respect their brothers and sisters, treat others also with respect. Those who treat others with contempt or look down upon others are wrong. Always remember before you are disrespectful to someone. Step into their shoes and feel the prick of your words and actions. Let this thought guide us to love and respect others.

Is your faith dead??

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Scripture Passage: James 2: 17, 17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

The word of God tells us that faith is dead if it is merely followed by words and actions are something else. The soul is destroyed if we only sing of His praise through our lips while through our actions we betray Him (John 14:12, 12 Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.)

Mark 5: 25-34, speaks of a woman who had been bleeding severely for the past 12 years. She had lost all her wealth and prosperity in the hands of many doctors. She heard of Jesus. Believing in Him, she followed Him in the crowd saying to herself,” If I just get to touch His clothes, I will get well”. It was not just that Jesus healed her, rather His power had gone out of Him and she was healed. Jesus realized that power had gone out of Him, so He turned towards the crowd and asked,” Who touched my clothes?”.

According to Jesus it was a right question but the disciples didn’t feel so. They asked Him, ” You see how the people are crowding around you, why do you ask who touched you?”. Touch caused by pushing and shoving in the crowd and the purposeful touch are two different things. Every came and touched Him in the crowd, while only the woman touched Him with a purpose.

Now lets ask a question: Does our heart in faith follow Him in a crowd or does it touch Him and His heart?? Let Jesus turn around upon our touch also, and ask “Who touched me?”.

Even the disciples selected by Jesus were caught up in the crowd. Prayer and worship without sincerity is of no use. In today’s world, the special days and occasions are celebrated with such pompous show and lavish style that its become routine for us all. It now lacks meaning and depths. We are satisfied with the momentary and worldly gains. It is one which lacks touch and presence of Jesus. Let us learn a lesson from the woman who was healed of her bleeding. Without bringing anyone’s attention towards herself, she secretly touched Jesus all the while firmly establishing her faith. This turned into a blessing for her.

Lets ask ourselves: How is our faith?? Firmly Established?? Like an upturned vessel?? Or like a vessel with holes?? Hearts with holes or upturned hearts cannot receive grace from God. Even if God’s blessing reach them how would they fill the hearts?? How is our worship service nowadays?? Does it create a crowd?? The distance between our touch and Jesus in the crowd is the same as the distance between Bible and us. Those who believed and affirm in the word of God would follow it in action in daily life.

Changes and amendments should be made. Holes should be filled and upturned vessels/hearts should be set straight. Then we should pray: My Lord, fill me with your grace though I am filled with holes. Fill me with your life-giving water and Holy Spirit. The Lord showers us with His grace at His appointed time. E.g.Elizabeth became pregnant at her old age. She lived away from the public eyes (Luke 1:25, 25 “The Lord has done this for me,” she said. “In these days he has shown his favor and taken away my disgrace among the people.”) This blessing was revealed only to Mary. The Lord showers us with blessings secretly. Lazarus was terminally ill. Jesus did not arrive even when called. Lazarus died. Jesus came uncalled and rose him from the dead. What is needed of us is firm faith (John 11: 21-22, 21 “Lord,” Martha said to Jesus, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.”) Let’s make our actions, worship, prayers and devotion ways to transfer the strength of the Lord and also the touch and presence of God. Let not the faith be dead.

Action is the best teacher. First it experiments and then teaches. Everyone keeps and eye on their goals but not everyone is able to pull the trigger. Let this not happen to us. Let us pray that our actions are followed with firm faith and belief.

Amen.

Why do we suffer?

Image by congerdesign from Pixabay

Sufferings. What do you understand by the term? There is a common thinking that sufferings are a result of sins committed by man. But the Bible says about Jobin 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, though you incited me against him to ruin him without any reason.”,and even the he suffers much more than any human can endure in a life. And even at the time of suffering he did not complain or sin against God. Job 2:10, 10 He replied, “You are talking like a foolish woman. Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?”

The Bible says that suffering is not just due to sin but to display the works of God. John 9:1-3, Then Job replied: “Indeed, I know that this is true. But how can mere mortals prove their innocence before God? Though they wished to dispute with him, they could not answer him one time out of a thousand. When the king of Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar threw Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego into blazing furnace because they disobeyed his orders. The Lord protected them (Daniel 3: 27, 27 and the satraps, prefects, governors and royal advisers crowded around them. They saw that the fire had not harmed their bodies, nor was a hair of their heads singed; their robes were not scorched, and there was no smell of fire on them.) Then what is suffering?? Suffering is not just a result of sin but its lord’s way to show His greatness. The Lord has given knowledge and right to decide what is good and what is wrong. A drunkard suffers the result of excessive drinking. Due to carelessness, man suffers from accident or loss. Is God responsible for man’s carelessness?? Irresponsible living leads to doom. Is God responsible?? The moment there is shortage in easy and pleasant luxurious living man calls it suffering. The hunger for wealth leads man to temptation and away from God. It is man’s own choice/ decision as to how he lives on earth. Greed, materialistic hunger, lust , envy, jealousy leads to temptation and destroys the spirit. This leads to suffering and man blames God. Thus, it is clear that it is the result of man’s sinful living and a life polluted by temptations. Is God responsible??

Hebrews 12: 3-15, 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.”…12 Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. 13 “Make level paths for your feet,” so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed. The Lord punishes those He loves. Lets believe that He is punishing us. Is there any father who has not reprimanded or punished his sons or daughters?? Punishment is not pleasant we agree but it results in discipline and the child does not go astray. Thus we see it serves its purpose. E.g. Joseph(Genesis 37). Joseph is sold by his envious brothers to the Ishmaelites who then sell him to Egyptians. Separated from parents, Joseph suffers a lot at the hands of the Egyptians, seduction by Potiphar’s wife, imprisonment. But these suffering end and he becomes the governor. Thus the suffering he endured were to show God’s greatness. It turned to be a blessing as he is able to help his family in famine. He serves God’s purpose. He submitted himself to God’s purpose and God worked wonders through him.

Why do we humans dislike the lessons taught by God? If we look at God as the father who punishes and teaches us lessons in life, it will be easy to face the trials. If we try to emulate the qualities of our forefather Abraham i.e. total submission before God, we will sail easily through problems and understand His purpose behind them. Romans 8: 28, 28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

Man’s life on earth is like a soap bubble. To seek comfort man resorts to drinking. Some take drugs while others commit suicide. To push away the darkness that enveloped his life Job sought relief in God’s presence. And it turned to be a blessing for him. When we suffer from trials, we must have faith and believe that God has not left us. Just like gold is purified in fire, God purifies us through these tests. So face the tests with the thought that they are the ways to prepare us for the happiness that awaits us later and helps us walk with God. So pray that He gives us strength, faith and a steadfast heart that looks up to Him.

Compassionate Shepherd

Scripture passage: Mark 6: 34, 34 When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began teaching them many things.

A huge crowd assembled whenever the news of Jesus’ presence was heard. When we read this passage we understand that the crowd did not leave Jesus or His disciples to even collect food. But even then Jesus was not annoyed with them, rather he felt compassion for the people and taught them many things. The love and compassion that the Lord showed towards the Jews is the same he has for us. Instead of understanding the value of the gem that is the word of God, are we not ignoring it in our daily lives?? ” Christ has died, Christ has risen, Christ will come again.” Are these words a treasure to cherish or not?? We should not forget, 1 Corinthians 15: 3-4,  “that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures, and that he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day according to the scriptures,”. Also when we are running the race of life we should pause and think upon, 1 Peter 3:15, As we assent to the gospel message, may we “set Christ apart as Lord in your hearts and always be ready to give an answer to anyone who asks about the hope you possess,”.

In the Old Testament, we come to know of the compassionate Lord when He delivers the Israelites from Egyptian slavery (Exodus 6). Hearing their weeping and distress, the Lord sends Moses to deliver them. On the other hand, in the New Testament, to deliver the whole mankind from sin and temptation, and to protect them from its captivity the Lord sent His only Son for us.

In the Old Testament,the Lord upon hearing the pains and sufferings of His children sends a man from among them to deliver them from bondage. On the other hand, in the New Testament, Jesus the Son of God came to earth as a mortal. He went among us humans to rescue us. He gave up Himself as sacrifice at the cross for our sins. 1 Peter 2: 24, 24 “He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed.”

In Luke 7:11-17, we read how Jesus raises a widow’s dead son. She did not ask for help from Jesus. Jesus looks at her and understands her pain, her loss and suffering, Luke 7: 13, 13 When the Lord saw her, his heart went out to her and he said, “Don’t cry.” He brings back her son to life.

In the Old Testament, the Lord hardened the heart of the Pharaoh and so he paid no heed to the words of Moses. In the New Testament, the Pharisees considered it blasphemy that Jesus claimed Himself to be the Son of God. So they made Him suffer and crucified Him on the cross. There was no one to support Him, none of the people he had cured or Lazarus, none. It is because they were held captive by the thoughts of the flesh and not the spirit that empowers, Romans 8:5, Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. But the Lord did not hold grudge against his people rather He is always with us, His flock. John 14: 18, 18 I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. What powerful and strengthening are these words!!!

He is a compassionate shepherd who always tends to His flocks without fail. The Lord shows His love and compassion on us children always, as seen both in Old and New Testament. Psalms 121 reads,

I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
    where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,
    the Maker of heaven and earth.

He will not let your foot slip—
    he who watches over you will not slumber;
indeed, he who watches over Israel
    will neither slumber nor sleep.

The Lord watches over you—
    the Lord is your shade at your right hand;
the sun will not harm you by day,
    nor the moon by night.

The Lord will keep you from all harm—
    he will watch over your life;
the Lord will watch over your coming and going
    both now and forevermore.

AMEN.

Do you want to be healed??

Scripture passage: John 5: 1-9, When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, “Do you want to get well?”

This question is posed by Jesus towards each and everyone of us. Do you want me to heal your wounds, wipe your sorrows and solve your family problems?? Our Lord Jesus is standing before us with open arms. What is your response?? “Yes, my Lord I am willing”. Or like the invalid do you give excuses / reasons and blame family, friends ad church for being indifferent.

We forget we are talking to the one who knows everything. The invalid did the same. He did not know Jesus. He said to Jesus John 5:7, “Sir,” the invalid replied, “I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me.” In our community there are many around us who are overburdened by their own sorrows filling their heart and mind. Such people are unable to see or feel the pain or sorrow of others. What would happen if a blind man guides another blind man?? Both would fall into a hole.

There are some people with whom no one is willing to talk, and some with whom it is never enough. Sometimes we forget we are humans. Every living being born on this earth has some problem or difficulty, be it animal or bird, Some face more and some face less.

For ants, a lump of sugar is heavy just as a trunk or log of wood is heavy for an elephant. We lessen each other’s burden by helping each other whenever we can. We decide beforehand that we are alone in this world with no one to help. Then how can we end this condition? The result is disappointment like the invalid. We forget that we have someone who is willing and capable of ding anything, Jesus. Instead we rely on our capabilities. Lazarus’s sister Martha says to Jesus, John 11:21, 21 “Lord,” Martha said to Jesus, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” What a beautiful faith it is!! A person who is unable to comfort himself/ herself cannot comfort others.

Now let us look at family life. Depressed, and dejected parents cannot raise up children in the path of Christian life. What we have can only be shared.

When we read further we discover that no rule is strong enough an obstacle to stop Jesus from coming near us. Even on Sabbath He cured the invalid. Again we see that the invalid does not recognize Jesus. Even us, who believe ourselves to be devout believers of Christ, and have Jesus with us always, fail to recongnize Him.

The word of God says that the guardian of Israel neither sleeps nor rests. He protects us without rest and sleep. Psalms 121: 3-4, He will not let your foot slip— he who watches over you will not slumber; indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.

Jesus at the temple saw the invalid. He revealed Himself to Him, instructed Him .John 5: 14, 14 Later Jesus found him at the temple and said to him, “See, you are well again. Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you.” Have we experienced change/transformation when in church? Just like the invalid, Jesus instructs us also. Are we listening???

Listen dear brothers and sisters , you are going from here receiving strength in mind, soul, and body. The Holy Spirit resides in you now. Do not sin anymore. Stop sinning before something worse happens to you. Let the Lord Almighty open our inner eyes/ eyes of our soul so that we listen, look and follow Him. Let us pray for the awakening.

AMEN.

Jesus lost to the two Mary

According to Jewish law when a boy attains the age of twelve, he should have learnt the laws and rules of the religion. When the boy turns 13, he should abide by the laws and perform all rituals obediently. For this, the parents prepare their children. Our Saviour also took part in the rituals and did not part away from this. According to the law when Jesus was 12 years old He went to the temple with his parents. Think how much dedicated and attentive are we towards the youth in preparing them in the rules and practices of our faith.

This is what we learn about our Lord Jesus in His youth (Luke 2:40, 40 And the child grew and became strong; he was filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was on him.) For the youth today to grow in this stature and strength, it is up to us to prepare them and mould them.

When Mary and Joseph took Jesus to the temple, they believed He was with them. So they returned from the feast in the temple (Luke 2:43- 44, 43 After the festival was over, while his parents were returning home, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but they were unaware of it. 44 Thinking he was in their company, they traveled on for a day. Then they began looking for him among their relatives and friends). It was only after a day’s travel that they realized He was not with them. Today those believing themselves to be staunch believers in Christ too face the same situation. They begin their journey close to Christ. Later, when they fail to renew their relationship with Lord and are in the false belief that the Lord is still with them they continue to walk forward. Like them we fail to recognize where we lost out touch with Him.

Brothers and sisters, this is the time. look carefully. Is Jesus travelling with you? Is He journeying with you? (Matthew 7:7, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.)

Mary and Joseph came back to the temple. They take Jesus with them (Luke 2:51, 51 Then he went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them. But his mother treasured all these things in her heart.) He followed his parents dutifully. Here too Jesus teaches us the lesson of obedience to parents ( Ephesians 6:1-3, Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother”—which is the first commandment with a promise— “so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.”)

The second Mary is Mary Magdalene ( Mark 16: 9, When Jesus rose early on the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had driven seven demons.)( John 20:1, 20 Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance.) We can clearly see that Mary’s love and devotion to Lord was so deep that she did not fear darkness or Roman soldiers. When she reached the tomb she saw that the rock kept at the mouth of the tomb was rolled aside and Jesus’ body was not there. She searched for the resurrected Christ among the dead. S he was unable to believe that the Lord had risen. she says to the angel, John 20:12-15, 12 and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot. 13 They asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?” “They have taken my Lord away,” she said, “and I don’t know where they have put him.” 14 At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus. 15 He asked her, “Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?” Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.”

Jesus calls out her name John 20:16 , 16 Jesus said to her, “Mary.” The Lord God always calls out our name and calls us. Do we recognize His voice?? Do we recognize Him?? Are we able to say to Him, “I am listening My Lord”, or like Thomas you would be a non believer too???

Remember the parable of the 100 sheep. The lost sheep on hearing his master’s voice, cries out loud. This story reminds us of the good shepherd, our Lord Jesus Christ who keeps us safe and protected always. When we go looking for greener pastures, He calls us by our name, Son, Daughter. Do you hear Him and retrace your steps from the wrong path??

Let us pray that the Lord Helps all sons and daughters to return from the wrong path and not lose Him.

AMEN.