Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead

This miracle is talked about only in the book of John. Jesus reaches Bethany after days of travel and preaching. A woman named Mary lived there in the village. She had a sister named Martha and a brother named Lazarus. When Mary heard about the arrival of Jesus, she went to receive Him. In John 10:40-41,40 He went away again across the Jordan to the place where John had been baptizing earlier, and he remained there. 41 Many came to him, and they were saying, “John performed no sign, but everything that John said about this man was true.” We read that Jesus went back to Jordan. In those days Lazarus feel severely ill. Mary and Martha had full faith in Jesus and so they sent a word to Him about the illness. They believed that on hearing about Lazarus’s illness, Jesus would come as soon as possible. Instead nothing like this happened and two days passed by waiting for Him(John 11:6,after having heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was.)To the human mind it would seem as cruel and heartless that the Lord showed no mercy and did not come to them immediately. Mary and Martha too felt like that. The plan of God is beyond the thinking of man and is revealed in His own words, John 11:4,But when Jesus heard it, he said, “This illness does not lead to death; rather it is for God’s glory, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.”

Lazarus dies. But Mary and Martha do not inform Jesus about it. But Jesus knows everything and says in John 11:11, 11 …, he told them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I am going there to awaken him.” and in John 11:13, 13 Jesus, however, had been speaking about his death, but they thought that he was referring merely to sleep, He further clarifies. All the prayers said by men are like this. They should be answered instantly. They are not patient enough to offer them up to God and wait for His plans. When answers are not received, like Mary and Martha, we come disheartened and disappointed. We begin to think,” Why bother the Lord with out prayers?”. We think He is not listening. And many give up their faith completely. But we should remember Isaiah 59:1,See, the Lord’s hand is not too short to save,nor his ear too dull to hear,and Jeremiah 29:12-1312 Then when you call upon me and come and pray to me, I will hear you. 13 When you search for me, you will find me; if you seek me with all your heart. The Lord keeps His word. W e should leave our prayers to be answered according to the Lord’s time and plan.

It is more wonderful and miraculous that Jesus raises Lazarus four days after his death rather than from illness. By witnessing this glorious miracle, the disciples and the Jews present there affirmed their belief in Jesus. This was the Lord’s plan and is also revealed in John 11:4 , 40-42, 40 Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?” 41 So they took away the stone. And Jesus looked upward and said, “Father, I thank you for having heard me. 42 I knew that you always hear me, but I have said this for the sake of the crowd standing here, so that they may believe that you sent me.”

Jesus arrived in Bethany four days after the death of Lazarus. But for Jesus, four days, four weeks, four months or four years is not the problem. All He wants is full and strong faith in Him(John 11:40).Mary says to Jesus that I believe whatever you ask from the Father you will receive ,John 11:22,22 But even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask of him.” This is faith. In John 11:40, we find the answer to this. If we wish to see the glory of God we must strongly believe in Him

Jesus says to each one of us. If you believe in Me fully you will see the glory of God.

Lazarus’ tomb was actually a cave. Jesus comes to the tomb and prays to the almighty father. Jesus calls out to Lazarus, “Lazarus come out”. The dead man came out alive. The Lord never betrays those who have full faith and trust in Him and who love Him sincerely. He blesses them with His grace.

There are many famous personalities and families that we know about. But this family is known through the miracle of Jesus, Romans 8: 28, 28 We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose. This miracle when read by us should strengthen the faith and belief of all I pray to the Lord. Come let is dedicate and offer ourselves to the Lord’s plan and His will, Psalms 16:1-3,

Protect me, O God, for in you I take refuge.
I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord;
    I have no good apart from you.”

As for the holy ones in the land, they are the noble,
    in whom is all my delight.

AMEN

A word to the parents

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1 Samuel 1 speaks about two priests. One is Eli and the other is Elkanah. Elkanah had two wives, Peninah and Hannah. Hannah did not have any children. She was blessed with a son by the Lord when He heard her weeping bitterly in the worship place at Shiloh. She named him Samuel because she had asked him from God. When he turned three, she took Samuel to Eli and handed him over to the priest as she had promised. The little boy separated from his beloved parents grew up under the protection and shadow of Eli. The boy grew up before Eli and served Yahweh.

1 Samuel 3:1, We read that Yahweh calls upon Samuel. In 1 Samuel 3:10, we see that Yahweh calls him for the third time. As instructed by Eli, Samuel replied, 10 The Lord came and stood there, calling as at the other times, “Samuel! Samuel!” Then Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant is listening.”

There were two people at the worship place, Eli the priest and Samuel. Yahweh had appeared to speak about the sons of Eli, but he had called upon Samuel and not Eli. Yahweh said to Samuel in 1 Samuel 3:11-14, 11 And the Lord said to Samuel: “See, I am about to do something in Israel that will make the ears of everyone who hears about it tingle. 12 At that time I will carry out against Eli everything I spoke against his family—from beginning to end. 13 For I told him that I would judge his family forever because of the sin he knew about; his sons blasphemed God, and he failed to restrain them. 14 Therefore I swore to the house of Eli, ‘The guilt of Eli’s house will never be atoned for by sacrifice or offering.’”

In 1 Samuel 2:27 we read that a man of God had appeared before Eli and given a forewarning. But Eli could not bring his sons to the right path and both his sons died on the same day.

After weaning, Samuel was separated from his parents. Just three month old Moses was placed inside a basket and set afloat on the river Nile. His mother has covered it with tar to make it waterproof(Exodus 2:3). Not only that, his sister Miriam kept watch from far to see what would happen to him.

Dear parents it is inevitable that we let our children out into this world. They should be taught to fear God, faith in God, hope in God, love God and devotion the Lord. Are we sending them out into the world with these shields? Do you pay attention to what is happening to them?? Elkanah and Hannah would visit Samuel only once a year. His mother 1 Samuel 2:19,19 Each year his mother made him a little robe and took it to him when she went up with her husband to offer the annual sacrifice. He grew to be content with what he had.

Samuel was a prophet of God. Moses was an instrument used by Yahweh to deliver the Israelites from the bondage of Egyptians. Similarly, the Lord has a plan for our children also. Moses was set adrift on water, but children today are stepping into the ocean. Drugs, sexual immorality, alcohol and luxurious lifestyles, these are sharks that devour our children. Once captured by them its near to impossible to escape. What we see today in the media is enough to pollute any mind and sight.

We should not be parents who lack any purpose or direction. We pride ourselves on pampering our children with everything they need. No one is heard saying that they have brought up their children not just with love , but as people who are loved for by both men and the Lord. Today children even before the age of understanding right and wrong, irrespective of the the gender are staying away from their homes for education and jobs. Are we paying attention to the kind of friends they keep and their lifestyle away from home?? Are we aware or looking closely that the lifeboat on which we send our children into the ocean of the world can drown them?? Money, mobile and other gadgets and their misuse is a big challenge before today’s generation. Just as David payed to the Lord, may our children also pray to the Lord, Psalms 51: 10-15,

10 Create in me a pure heart, O God,
    and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
11 Do not cast me from your presence
    or take your Holy Spirit from me.
12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation
    and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.

13 Then I will teach transgressors your ways,
    so that sinners will turn back to you.
14 Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed, O God,
    you who are God my Savior,
    and my tongue will sing of your righteousness.
15 Open my lips, Lord,
    and my mouth will declare your praise.

1 Timothy 4:12, 12 Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.

Parable of the Sower

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Scripture Passage: Luke 4: 22, 22 All spoke well of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his lips. “Isn’t this Joseph’s son?” they asked.

Jesus drew pictures in the minds of people with His words. Thousands of people desired to listen to Him, Even after 2000 years, the preachings of Jesus, parables, and commandments are preached by many and also listened to attentively. Those who preached the words of Jesus were severely punished. Many became martyrs, even today there are people being persecuted and becoming martyrs. The reason behind this is that the words of the teacher, language, and style was such that it left a lifelong impression on the minds and hearts of ordinary people. Jesus taught people by using parables revolving around daily life and the language was easy to understand by everyone. Times have changed today. Christians today have many big issues to talk about. They have proficiency in the language. A large variety of books and magazines are also easily available. But they don’t have time to read the Bible. Even if we get an opportunity to read and teach the Bible, do we look at our style and presentation?? Does your style leave an impression on others??

Luke 8:4-8, Parable of the Sower

While a large crowd was gathering and people were coming to Jesus from town after town, he told this parable: “A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path; it was trampled on, and the birds ate it up. Some fell on rocky ground, and when it came up, the plants withered because they had no moisture. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up with it and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up and yielded a crop, a hundred times more than was sown.” When he said this, he called out, “Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear.”

Jesus sowed the seeds of love in this world which increased manifold. What we should sow in this world is the love of Jesus and the words He left for us. Every farmer must pay close attention to what he sows so that it produces crop. Similarly, Jesus too desires that His words too be sowed with close attention. Today’s man lacks patience. They want instant and immediate results. Failure is something they cannot live with. Disappointed and disheartened they roam aimlessly not knowing what to do. To them Jesus say to pay attention and caution to what they sow.

Those who lack faith in Jesus lack hope. Eg: Many farmers and several students commit suicide. Even those who score well come under this category. There are those with good academic background and a good profession who lose hope over what they lack and commit suicide. In that phase they cannot concentrate on what they can achieve. One should instead learn from the failures and try not to repeat the mistakes. We have seen in many wildlife films that several times the prey escapes its predators. But that does not mean that the predator stops hunting after failed attempts and starve. There is something which we human possess and not the animals, i.e. pride. It is this pride which does not allow us to step down from where we stand.

Jesus displayed love and humility through every action. He washed the feet of His disciples. As for us, we find it shameful to even wash the dishes after dinner. Jesus purposefully gave Himself upon the cross when He surrendered. Through His surrender and sacrifice, the whole mankind received salvation and deliverance. Not one man on earth can say they have not faced failure. Jesus faced truths boldly. He could have made His death impossible or less painful. But what should happen, happened as per the Father’s will.

Let’s look at ourselves: As we sow, so we reap. If we reap good thoughts, we reap good actions. If not have you thought why? If a seed remains a seed, how would you reap a crop? Unless the old is changed, transformation into new is not possible. Jesus concludes, “Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear.” If you want to hear the word of God then open your ears and heart to Him. For that grace pray to God with an earnest heart.

Sometimes we do not recognize the words, for e.g. Samuel. Yahweh called out to him thrice but he did not realize who it was. Eli, the priest then told him that it is the voice of Yahweh. But what about today??Who is there to guide you and me?? So let us pray that the Father guides us to Him.

Let us pray: God, my Father, instead of being disappointed over my failures, please give me strength to utilize the last opportunity. Just like the thief on the cross. Let me know your presence and also be witness to your words to others. Open my heart to receive your grace. Give the caution to watch what I sow so that I reap good crop. And if I lose let me not lose hope, give me the strength to keep moving on. AMEN.

Colossians 4:5-6, Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.

Every journey starts with one step. Let us hold on the Almighty and walk forward.

Meaning of the Cross

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Be it Christians or non Christians, what is the meaning of the cross? Is it an accessory to be worn as fashion statement? Or is it a term of joke and humor? Youth now casually comment, ” Oh God! This is my cross.” He/ She is a cross. Anyone crossing on the temper is labelled as a cross. People who casually use it do not know it’s real value. Just think for a moment. Jesus gave His life on the cross for our sins. He bore the humiliation and jest of the Romans for us. It was painful and hard. Cross was seen as a sign of curse, suffering and damnation by the Roman ( Galatians 3:14, 14 He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit.) He became a curse Himself for us. Thus with crucifixion of Christ, the cross became a symbol of victory over evil, a symbol of protection and security, hope and blessing for all. Christ is the Blessed one. Praise the Lord, Praise His name.

1.Cross-Symbol of sacrifice: Jesus is the Son of God. The one to be seated at the right of the Father, gave up that place for us. Instead, He came down to be humiliated and crucified on the cross for us. After that people saw the cross as a sign of sacrifice and of martyrdom.

Galatians 2: 20, 20 I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

Galatians 5: 24, 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

Galatians 6: 14,14 May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.

The world craves and follows money, power and authority, beauty and worldly gains. But those who believe in Christ praise and follow the cross which means redemption. It is the only way to salvation.

2. Cross- a sign of new creation: The first parents, Adam and Eve were deceived by Satan and thrown out of Eden. The relationship with Father tampered. With crucifixion and resurrection, the relationship between us and our Father in heaven was re-established and re-confirmed. The way of sin leads to death of the soul. This was changed by the cross.

2 Corinthians 5:19, 19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.

Ephesians 2:14-16, 14 For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, 15 by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, 16 and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility.

Romans 7: 24, 24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death?

Colossians 2: 13-14, 13 When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, 14 having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross.

3. Cross- a symbol of obedience: Jesus Christ came down to earth and took birth as a human, as the Father Almighty asked of Him. Jesus was already well aware of the pain and suffering in store for Him. The prayer at the Mount of Gethsemane is clear proof of it. Mark 14: 36, 36 “Abba, Father,” he said, “everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.”

42 “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” 43 An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. 44 And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.

Yet He gave up His life to fulfill the will of the Father.

4. Cross- a symbol of fellowship: Mark 8: 34, 34 Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.

Hebrews 2: 17-18, 17 For this reason he had to be made like them, fully human in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people.  18 Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.

Matthew 16:24, 24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.

Luke 9:23, 23 Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. We are weak in spirit and thus when we face the problems and issues in the world, knees buckle and we fall. Thus, we should look at the cross and remember the pain, humiliation.

Cross- Earlier symbol of curse, Now symbol of love and redemption

Hebrews 12:2, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him, he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Cross became the symbol of security and hope. With the crucifixion of Christ, those who did not believe in Him believed in Him. And still, we look upon the cross with the hope waiting for His second coming.

6. Cross- victory over evil- Cross is the symbol of victory over sins. Satan deceived Adam and Eve and won. This continued till the crucifixion of Christ. With the crucifixion and resurrection, Satan was defeated forever and we got salvation and were renewed. Colossians 2:15, 15 And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross. Just as Christ has arisen we too would get new life after death. Understanding the value of the cross, whenever we look upon the cross and wear it, let us remember the cross with faith and respect.

7. Cross- the symbol of remembrance- To give us all a new life, God Almighty gave up His beloved Son for us. The cross is a symbol of remembrance of love, John3: 16-18 1For 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. For us sinners, the Son of God was crucified and His blood spilled on the cross. It is a remembrance of the sacrifice, the hope of new life.

8. Cross- symbol of continuing faith: Even after 2000 years, the world offers praise and worship to Christ and come together to partake in Holy Communion.

9. Cross- a sign of salvation and glory- Christ gave salvation to the robber who repented from his sin at the cross. He saved his soul with repentance. This is an example for us. Those who repent from their sins receive salvation and defeat Satan. The cross strengthens those who repent.

Thus, when you wear the cross, do not wear a mere symbol but remember the suffering and humiliation behind it.

Prepare for Holy Communion

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Scripture Passage: Luke 22: 19-21, 19 And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.” 20 In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you. 21 But the hand of him who is going to betray me is with mine on the table.

It’s been more than 200 years after the crucifixion of Christ. All parishes and churches participate in Holy Communion on every Sunday and other special occasions. Select few of the believers experience transformation after the Communion. Before we eat our food we wash our hands. The same is done after we have eaten. We pay attention to have meals on time and food which is nutritious. It’s amazing how much care and concern we pay to this mortal body which we would leave one day. Do we pay enough attention to preparation for Communion? If we plant our crops before weeding and cleaning the soil we cannot get a good harvest. Similarly, incomplete preparation for confession is not fruitful.

During Communion, the priest says to the congregation, and we repeat after him.

I confess that I have sinned against you, O Father, Son and Holy Spirit, in thought, word and deed. I am sorry with all my heart for these my sins. I believe in your promise that you will receive those who truly repent. O Lord, who are merciful and full of grace, accept me even as you accepted the publican, the woman who was a sinner, and the thief on the cross, and comfort me by the consolation of your Word, O Lord, grant that your Holy Body and Holy Blood in which I now partake may not bring me to judgement and condemnation, but to life and wholeness. Amen

Before partaking in the Communion, how many of us ask to ourselves, ‘Am I worthy to receive it?’. The answer is, No.

We should have a clean body and clean pure soul to partake in Holy Communion. We should pay extra attention towards leading a blemish free, pure and vanity free life. A heart full of pride, impure thoughts, unforgiving heart, full of worldly pleasures & desires, should pray for release from these worldly chains.

All human beings have some limitations. But one prayer to the Lord to help overcome them and you will be strengthened in spirit. Do vile and impure thoughts enter your mind during worship service? Do try and push them away or do you surrender yourself to the temptations of Devil in the church?? Just because no one can see this, do you ignore it?? The priest conducts service with full faith and devotion, and prays that the bread & wine be blessed as the Body & Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Just think about it. Do you really believe that you partake in the Holy Body and Holy Blood of Christ? Luke 22: 19-21, Do you remember this and receive Communion? Do you ask for forgiveness for the mistakes and sins you have committed? During confession do you lay open your heart before the Lord? After receiving Communion do you offer thanks to Him for having shed his Body and Blood for us?? Do you partake in Communion as a family?? Do you share your experiences and it’s meaning with your children??

Let us pray together: Lord, I am not worthy to receive you. But by your grace and mercy, forgive my innumerable sins and make me worthy to receive you.

AMEN.

What have you gained in life?

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Generally speaking, everyone has some time or the other asked this question to themselves. But no one asks for self: what have I gained in my life? In answer to this question most would reply, good job, house, wealth, vehicle, status, and so on. In truth, have you really gained these things?? Do you believe in the grace of God?? At this time I remember the parable of the rich fool, Luke 12:16-21, 1And he told them this parable: “The ground of a certain rich man yielded an abundant harvest. 17 He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’ 18 “Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain. 19 And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.”’ 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 Lord calls him a fool. After even the own mother/father becomes a mere dead body. It is inevitable and no amount of wealth can stop it. We come into the world empty-handed and empty-handed will we go.

What is a family? Parents and children living together or people who delight in each other’s company. In a family, everyone knows each other because they live together and are related to each other. One question? We pray daily, Our Father in heaven, do you want to see Him just as an owner of a supermarket who resides in heaven and fulfills whatever our needs whenever we ask for?? We should love and respect our heavenly Father who gave us this life because we are His children. But have you given His only Son a place in your home, when He shed His body & blood on the cross for us sinners? Who is He for you?

Is He just an image on the wall along with the pictures of grandparents and uncles? The word of God says, 1 John 4:12-13, 12 No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us. 13 This is how we know that we live in him and he in us: He has given us of his Spirit. Also in 1 John 4:18, 18 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. Does Love reside in our homes today? In how many homes do members pray and eat together? Are husbands and wives spending time together, sharing daily concerns and expereinces, opening their hearts together? How much relief it provides? The image of the Holy Family is so comforting because the Saviour stands beside His loving Mother & Father. He calls to us with open arms standing between them. Do we invite Him to be a member of our family? Head of our family? The place where God lives is called heaven. Let’s make our homes,heaven. Let us pray that Jesus resides in every home.

Let me share a story:

One day a man was walking around in his neighborhood. Just then he saw his ten year old neighbor jumping with joy. He went over to him and asked, ‘Why are you so happy? What happened?’

The boy was looking up and jumping with joy. He looked at the man and said, ‘My kite is soaring up in the sky. It’s reaching new heights.’ The man looked up. But he saw nothing. He said to the boy, ‘ There is no kite’. The boy replied, ‘ There it is up in the sky, I can feel it because it’s string is in my hand. Here feel it.’ The man understood what he meant. He smiled and moved on.

Even though we cannot see God we can feel His presence through faith, devotion and belief. John 20:29, 29 Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

How to lead a Christian life?

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Have you thought how to lead a Christian life?

1. Our physical cleansing: In 1 Thessalonians 4: 3-5, we read, It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control your own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the pagans, who do not know God;.

When we hear the word of God there is cleansing of the soul. But not for all. Some are not affected by it no matter how much they read or hear the word of God. It does not filter inside them. Just like regular rainfall makes land fertile and the harvest yield is great. When we regularly read and hear the word of God, our minds and hearts are cleansed of all impurities.

Hebrews 6:7-8, Land that drinks in the rain often falling on it and that produces a crop useful to those for whom it is farmed receives the blessing of God. But land that produces thorns and thistles is worthless and is in danger of being cursed. In the end it will be burned. But if the land produces thorns, it is of no use and should be burned. We should move away from the path of sin and temptation. For God wants us to live a pure life. 1 Thessalonians 4: 7-8,For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life. Therefore, anyone who rejects this instruction does not reject a human being but God, the very God who gives you his Holy Spirit.

1 Corinthians 3: 16-17, 16 Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst? 17 If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person; for God’s temple is sacred, and you together are that temple. We should always remember one thing that the Bible says, When we move closer to God, Satan also tries to move closer to us. Job 1: 8,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.” When God Himself spoke about Job in this manner, Satan challenges God and Satan punishes Job to make him turn against God. In the same way, did the Father proclaim about His own son, Matthew 3: 17, 17 And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him, I am well pleased.”Satan was courageous enough to put temptations before the Son of God. But how can we, weak and sinful stand up to Satan?? There are temptations of various kinds, first in the garden of Eden, Adam and Eve; Jesus in the desert and now finally us, all the believers in the world.

The various temptations come in the form of good food, which calls upon our bodily needs and worldly desires. Even Jesus was tempted in the desert to turn stones to bread. Next, it tries to lure us with things pleasing to the eyes which call upon the desire of the eyes and then the body. Jesus was tempted saying that the world is yours. Then we have a hunger for power which even Jesus faced as Satan said, You will not die, and will be like God to Eve. In Matthew 4: 5, we read of the temptation of Jesus, Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written: “‘He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.

Jesus defeated and crossed the temptations. We can also win victory over Satan through the one who loves us. Romans 8: 37, 37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.

Mark 14:38, 38 Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

2.Spiritual cleansing: Spiritual cleansing happens with 1. Repentance; 2. Confession; 3. Experiencing Holy Communion, Leviticus 19: 1-2, The Lord said to Moses, “Speak to the entire assembly of Israel and say to them: ‘Be holy because I, the Lord your God, am holy. In Luke 7:37, we read about the sinful woman. The woman repents from her sinful ways. She was detested by the whole society and was labeled sinful by them. She wet the feet of Lord Jesus with her tears and wiped them with her hair. So just think how much did she repent and cry to be able to wet his feet. Along with washing the feet of Jesus, she also washed her heart. She saved her life and soul from destruction. Even the robber at the cross realized his faults and sinful living and asks for forgiveness. He knew he deserved his punishment, Isaiah 43:25, 25 “I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more. And the Heavenly Father lovingly forgives us. He is waiting for us to repent and return to Him, John 14:15-17, 15 “If you love me, keep my commands. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— 17 the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.

Blessed are the weak in spirit. There is no one as weak as a sinner. Weak are aware of their situation and do not feel shameful to plead for help for themselves before the Father. Revelation 3: 17-20,

17 You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. 18 I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see. 19 Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent. 20 Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me. We the sinful are pitiful and only Lord can protect us.

1 John 1:9, If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. Would you beg to the saviour to fill you with the Holy Spirit and purify you??

3. Blessed are the pure in heart, Matthew 5:8, Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. The Bible says about the human heart,

Jeremiah 17:9, The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?

Jeremiah 4:14, ….wash the evil from your heart and be saved. How long will you harbor wicked thoughts?

Father calls upon us to wash our sins and cleanse ourselves. The pure in heart are called the children of God. The kingdom of Heaven belongs to them.

4. Do not make idols and worship, Leviticus 19:4,“‘Do not turn to idols or make metal gods for yourselves. I am the Lord your God. Give the first place and priority to the Father in your life. Ezekiel 14:3, “Son of man, these men have set up idols in their hearts and put wicked stumbling blocks before their faces. Should I let them inquire of me at all? Who has priority in your life?? Money? Power? Property? Beauty?Children? Worship should be inside our hearts and not that of an idol. Galatians 6:6-7, Nevertheless, the one who receives instruction in the word should share all good things with their instructor. Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.

Ephesians 4:4-7, There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.

It is time now to think who is it that you have placed in your hearts and worshiping?? Jesus? Or worldly desires?

Daily troubles in a Christian life

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In our daily lives when we face the stormy situations of trials and tribulations we often get depressed. It is like stormy weather with dark clouds and lightning around us. We are all aware that Jesus could calm the storm and the sea, Matthew 8:23-27 and Mark 4: 35-41. Jesus was sleeping in the stern of the boat. With Jesus, with them, the disciples should have had faith. But they were scared of the storm and woke Him up. Jesus called them men of little faith and cowards. Today even we of proclaimed strong faith behave like the disciples. Even without us calling upon Him, Jesus travels with us in our lifeboat. But we do not remember this at all. He is waiting, listening for us to call Him into our lives.

Let us make our forefather, Abraham a model to live a Christian life. He took his only son, Isaac to offer sacrifice to God. How did he endure the pain on the way to Moriah? Any heart would melt and shatter at the question asked by the boy carrying wood for the sacrifice. The innocent Isaac asks in Genesis 22:7-8 Isaac spoke up and said to his father Abraham, “Father?” “Yes, my son?” Abraham replied. “The fire and wood are here,” Isaac said, “but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?” Abraham answered, “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” And the two of them went on together. The answer by Abraham reflects his complete faith in God. ” God himself will provide the lamb”, What a beautiful faith it is!! The faith Abraham had in God was magnificent and unfailing.

Every Sunday we attend worship service in the church. How many times does the priest say “Peace be with you all”. Seven times. And we answer with “And also with you”. Are these only words to be repeated every Sunday or do we believe and experience it?? We are all aware of the story of the prodigal son Luke 15: 11-32. Now let’s imagine if the story went like this:

The father holds a grand feast to celebrate the return of the prodigal son. But the son was sad and dejected, and sat down alone in a corner. Seeing him sitting in a corner, the father went up to him. He said,” Son, I have held this feast for you. Why are you unhappy?”. The son replied,” Father, the guests are calling me names-cruel, shameless, selfish, self centered. They are all mocking me.”

The son continues,” Father, I did not misuse or squander the money. When I left home and traveled , I saw a poor family and helped them. Then I saw a man who had no clothes, so I gave him money to buy clothes. Later I met a man under a lot of debt. I helped him also with the money. Like this I helped a lot of those who needed money. Finally I ran out of money.”

He started crying and said,” I went back to all those I had helped. But none of them recognized me or helped me. They did not even offer me a drink of water. They all threw me out.” Sobbing into his father’s shoulders he said,” Then I finally took the job of a caretaker for pigs and fee them. I was hungry and longed to fill myself with the pods that pigs were eating. But no one gave me anything.”

“I thought of you father. If i fall at your feet and begged for forgiveness, you would forgive me. So I came back home back to you.” The father held the son to his bosom and kissed him. And said,” I had sent my men after you. I know you are a simple person and kind hearted. You will never refuse anyone who asks for help when you have money.” Shocked,the son cried, ” Father you let me suffer so much for the money”. Smiling the father replied,” My dear son, this property is yours. I only want you. I was scared for you that once you got the money and left home, you would never return back home. That is why I sent men after you and told them to refuse to help you”.

This means that our heavenly Father is also well aware of our trials faced in daily lives. Our Father desires that we do not fall for the temptations and instead always walk His path in His presence. He wishes to keep us in the palm of His hand. Do you understand and experience this?? Whenever we face a problem, do we pray with our hearts, O Father in heaven, lead me to the path of righteousness by holding my hand. Do we submit ourselves before Him?? He is waiting for us to call Him to take control of our lifeboat.

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.

Luke 13: 34,…how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing.

AMEN

Submit all unto the Lord

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Scripture passage: John 6: 1-14, Jesus Feeds the Five Thousand

In this little passage we read that Jesus traveled to far shore of Galilee which is Tiberias. A huge crowd followed Him because they saw the miracles He had performed, and so they wanted to speak to Him and be healed. They forgot hunger and thirst and were attentively listening to His preaching. It was near to dusk. If they were sent back for food, they would faint and collapse. Jesus having compassion for them asked Philip where could He buy food, John 6: 5-6 , When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming toward him, he said to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?” He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do.. To this question Philip answers, John 6: 7, Philip answered him, “It would take more than half a year’s wages to buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!” Here we see that Philip had little faith in Jesus.

Then Andrew, brother of Simon Peter came to Jesus with five loaves of bread and two fish. He asks Jesus how can we feed so many with this? Here too is an example of little faith. The disciples were with Jesus all the time and had seen Him perform miracles, yet they lacked faith that He was capable of feeding a multitude. The boy with the bread was just an instrument for the biggest miracle performed by our Lord Jesus Christ.

Now let’s take a look at the boy here:

1.His pure thoughts: His pure thoughts and desire to see and hear Jesus had led him to the mountainside at Tiberias. The boy instead of playing with friends took permission from home to hear Jesus preach. Have we created this eagerness in out children??

2. His preparation: He came to Jesus with good preparation. There must have been encouragement and support from his mother. This is because no matter how much time he listens to Jesus, his mother had packed food for him so that he is not distracted or leaves in between. Are we teaching qualities to our children and helping them imbibe it in their lives??

3. Pleasant approach: Among the crowd present there, how was it that this little boy stood out? He was not seated in the back of the crowd nor in a far corner. With the strong desire to see and hear Jesus, he must have have sat close to Jesus and His disciples. This is evident when Andrew brings him to Jesus, John 6: 8-9, Another of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up, “Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?” Because he came up to Jesus, he is famous. Would our children also follow in the example of the little boy?? At the time of prayer and worship how devoted and attentive are our children??

4. Beautiful mind: Among the crowd, a small boy carried a basket with five loaves of bread and two fish for himself to satisfy his hunger. It was not necessary that the boy would have given his food willingly. Andrew must have understood that the boy was willing to share. Otherwise he would not have come with the boy and his basket. The boy had a beautiful mind and heart. He gave up his whole basket to the Lord. Look at what a blessing it turned to be. It fed more than five thousand people. The boy was humble and his humility brought him before Christ, James 4: 10, Humble yourself before the Lord, and He will lift you up.

This passage teaches us to have complete submission and surrender to out Lord. It teaches us how our submission to Lord can be turned into a blessing. The qualities in the boy are valuable and we should try and cultivate them in our children and ourselves.

2 Timothy 1: 7,  For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.

AMEN

Jesus Christ: Son of God, Son Of Man

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All the Gospels in the Bible desire and want us to believe that Jesus Christ is the Son Of God. How? Why? Let’s see:

1. Authority/ control over diseases: In all the four gospels we can read about Jesus curing people with several diseases (Matthew 8: 2-4, A man with leprosy came and knelt before him and said, “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.” Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!” Immediately he was cleansed of his leprosy. Then Jesus said to him, “See that you don’t tell anyone. But go, show yourself to the priest and offer the gift Moses commanded, as a testimony to them.”) The same is found in Mark 1: 40-43, Luke 5: 12-14.

2. Authority over demons recognized: The demons recognized the Son of God when He appeared (Mark 1: 23-28; Luke 4: 31-37, 23 Just then a man in their synagogue who was possessed by an impure spirit cried out, 24 “What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God!” 25 “Be quiet!” said Jesus sternly. “Come out of him!” 26 The impure spirit shook the man violently and came out of him with a shriek. 27 The people were all so amazed that they asked each other, “What is this? A new teaching—and with authority! He even gives orders to impure spirits and they obey him.” 28 News about him spread quickly over the whole region of Galilee.)Jesus commands the demon to come out and it obeys.

3. Authority over nature: Jesus Christ calmed the stormy seas and walked over the waters (Matthew 8: 23-27; Mark 4: 35-41; Mark 6: 45-56; Luke 8: 22-25) Matthew 8: 23-27, 23 Then he got into the boat and his disciples followed him.  24 Suddenly a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. 25 The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!” 26 He replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm. 27 The men were amazed and asked, “What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him!”

4. Authority over Sabbath/ Law of Moses: The laws of Moses were strictly followed by people, but our Lord had supremacy over them as well, Mark 2: 27-28; John 5: 16-18, 27 Then he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. 28 So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.”

5. Deliverer of sins: Jesus is the deliverer of sins, John 8: 2-11, At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him. But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground. At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. 10 Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” 11 “No one, sir,” she said. “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”

6. He feeds the hungry: We can read in all the gospel of how he fed thousands of people with just five loaves of bread and two fish, Matthew 14: 16-21, Jesus replied, “They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.” 17 “We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish,” they answered. 18 “Bring them here to me,” he said. 19 And he directed the people to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people. 20 They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. 21 The number of those who ate was about five thousand men, besides women and children. ( Mark 6: 37-44; Luke 9: 12-18; John 6: 9-14)

7. The world’s greatest teacher: He made use of parables to make the people and disciples understand the meaning of the words of God. He also taught us how to pray to our Heavenly Father, Luke 11:1-4, 11 One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.” He said to them, “When you pray, say: “‘Father, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread. Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us. And lead us not into temptation. (Matthew 6: 9-13)

8. He has authority over death: In many instances we have read how he raised the dead to life. Lazarus: John 11: 39-44, Widow’s son: Luke 7: 11-17, Officer’s daughter: Matthew 9: 23-34/ Mark 5: 23-34/ Luke 8: 49-56.

Among the disciples there were some who desired supremacy and power over the others. E.g. Zebedi brothers. There was an argument once among the disciples as to who is the greatest (Luke 9:46-48, 46 An argument started among the disciples as to which of them would be the greatest. 47 Jesus, knowing their thoughts, took a little child and had him stand beside him. 48 Then he said to them, “Whoever welcomes this little child in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. For it is the one who is least among you all who is the greatest.”( Mark 9: 33-36). We also read about the question as to who would be seated to His left and right , Mark 10: 35-38, 35 Then James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to him. “Teacher,” they said, “we want you to do for us whatever we ask.” 36 “What do you want me to do for you?” he asked. 37 They replied, “Let one of us sit at your right and the other at your left in your glory.” 38 “You don’t know what you are asking,” Jesus said. “Can you drink the cup I drink or be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with?”

Even today, the same thing happens. Instead of worshiping Christ and adoring Him, people prefer and want to worship power. Christ wants us to believe in Him as the Son of God. He asks His disciples who people say He is. They answered, Matthew 16: 13-16, 13 When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” 14 They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” 15 “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” 16 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” Peter confesses He is Christ, Mark 8:27-29; Luke 9:18-21.

Jesus informs His disciples about His death and suffering as the Son of man. He explains to them about His impending death and resurrection. Hearing this, Peter rebukes Him for being a man of the world, Matthew 16: 21-22, 21 From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life. 22 Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. “Never, Lord!” he said. “This shall never happen to you!” (Mark 5: 31-33).

On one hand there are the Zebedi brothers who wanted a Jesus who gave power. The Christ who suffered and died for us is not wanted. Even Peter who boasted to stand by Him at the time every trial, denies Him three times. If we do not reside in Christ and if Christ does not reside in us, we too would become only power hungry mortals. Satan erodes away our goodness of heart, the seeds of the word of God and it’s strength within us.

Jesus before Pilate ( Matthew 27: 11…;Mark 15: 1-2, Luke 22:66-70): The chief priest ask Jesus,”Are you the Son of God?”. Jesus replied, “I am”. All the Gospels proclaim and bear witness that Christ is the Son of God. Jesus, the Son of God too desires that we believe in Him. To give us everlasting life, He gave His life for us on the cross. He rose again on the third day and even today He lives among us. Yes, this is the Lord we need, the one who lives among us even today, not a God who only looks down from above.

If you and I call upon Him with out whole heart and soul, He can never leave us and go. Brothers and sisters, will you call Him?? He is listening, waiting eagerly for us to call Him.

AMEN.