True Faith

Hebrews 10:22, 22 let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.

When Jesus reached the lands of Tyre and Sidon, He was approached by a Canaanite woman.In Matthew 15 we read, 22 A Canaanite woman from that vicinity came to him, crying out, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is demon-possessed and suffering terribly.” A mother seeing the pains endured by her daughter, with a broken heart but with full faith came to Jesus. She had a heard a lot about Jesus from others, and having full faith in His healing power approached Him. We can understand this from her cry for help, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! Jesus had said to the sister of Lazarus in John 11:40, 40 Then Jesus said, “Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?” The poor mother cried out for help with full faith but Jesus did not answer, how strange!!!

The disciples of Jesus requested Jesus to send her away when they saw her following them. It cannot be said that they asked this feeling sympathy or mercy for her. The reason being they did not ask Jesus to heal her daughter. When the blind Bartholomew called out to Jesus, it must have been the disciples who asked to keep silence. They must tried to get rid of the nuisance. Yet, the mother had full faith and assurance that Jesus was the only person who had the power to cure her demon possessed daughter. She came before Jesus and knelt before Him. In the Good News version of Bible we read that she fell down at his feet. We can believe that the mother knelt before the Lord with folded hands, blocking His way forward. The lament of Bartholomew stopped Jesus in His tracks and he was cured by Jesus. But here we see that the woman received no response from Jesus. We can observe two things here:

1. Never dying Faith: The reply to the cry of Canaanite woman was not of assurance. Jesus replied, 24 Then Jesus replied, “I have been sent only to the lost sheep of the people of Israel.” She must not have expected such a response from the Lord. Was Jesus testing her faith?? Reason because she could have come with the only aim of getting her daughter healed. Jesus did not heal the paralyzed man near the pool of Bethesda because he had asked for it (John 5:1). Whoever has full and deep faith in Jesus was never returned empty handed.

The poor woman was not ready to give up. Even after repeatedly pleading with the Lord, she did not receive a favorable answer. But she did not step back. Her faith also did not diminish. Even after receiving unfavorable answers from the Lrd, she held on to Him.

2.Faith that compels: Lord had used harsh words with her, Matthew: 11:25, 25 At this the woman came and fell at his feet. “Help me, sir!” she said.

26 Jesus answered, “It isn’t right to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.”

To which she replied with full faith, 27 “That’s true, sir,” she answered, “but even the dogs eat the leftovers that fall from their masters’ table.”

Her answer was from faith and belief. Jesus has said, “Ask and you shall receive”. Luke 11: 1, The Lord teaches disciples(us) how to pray. Jesus also used a parable to explain this better, And Jesus said to his disciples, “Suppose one of you should go to a friend’s house at midnight and say, ‘Friend, let me borrow three loaves of bread. A friend of mine who is on a trip has just come to my house, and I don’t have any food for him!’ And suppose your friend should answer from inside, ‘Don’t bother me! The door is already locked, and my children and I are in bed. I can’t get up and give you anything.’ Well, what then? I tell you that even if he will not get up and give you the bread because you are his friend, yet he will get up and give you everything you need because you are not ashamed to keep on asking. And so I say to you: Ask, and you will receive; seek, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened to you. 10 For those who ask will receive, and those who seek will find, and the door will be opened to anyone who knocks. 

To her faith Jesus answers, 28 So Jesus answered her, “You are a woman of great faith! What you want will be done for you.” And at that very moment her daughter was healed. She did not step back even after receiving a defeating answers from Jesus, the result was she was blessed and her daughter healed. Like the above mentioned parable she too pleaded before Jesus without shame and insistently. Her faith came out to be victorious in the test put by Jesus, and hence Jesus said, “You are a woman of great faith!.

In today’s world, everything is available to us at the press of a button. Those pray also expect the same, no one is willing to wait. Dear children of God, our faith can also be tested by God. We should be able to pray without fail and not give up.

Jacob on the way home met an angel of God, lets see what happened, Genesis 32: 24-26, Then a man came and wrestled with him until just before daybreak. 25 When the man saw that he was not winning the struggle, he hit Jacob on the hip, and it was thrown out of joint. 26 The man said, “Let me go; daylight is coming.” “I won’t, unless you bless me,” Jacob answered.

The word prayer mean talking to God or conversing with God. Just like a child pleads with his/her mother, let us also plead and pray to our Father.

Isaiah 49: 15-16, 15 So the Lord answers,

“Can a woman forget her own baby
    and not love the child she bore?
Even if a mother should forget her child,
    I will never forget you.
16 Jerusalem, I can never forget you!
    I have written your name on the palms of my hands.

He never breaks His won words. Sometimes when we pray and not receive is because of lack of content, selfish motives and despite having everything we crave for more.

Luke 11:11-13, 11 Would any of you who are fathers give your son a snake when he asks for fish? 12 Or would you give him a scorpion when he asks for an egg? 13 As bad as you are, you know how to give good things to your children. How much more, then, will the Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”

Our Lord knows what we need, not want. So introspect what we pray for and plead for to our Lord. May our faith be never die and be ever compelling.

Hebrews 11:1, To have faith is to be sure of the things we hope for, to be certain of the things we cannot see.

The Lord who gives sight to the blind

Mark 8:22-26, 22 They came to Bethsaida, and some people brought a blind man and begged Jesus to touch him. 23 He took the blind man by the hand and led him outside the village. When he had spit on the man’s eyes and put his hands on him, Jesus asked, “Do you see anything?”

24 He looked up and said, “I see people; they look like trees walking around.”

25 Once more Jesus put his hands on the man’s eyes. Then his eyes were opened, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly. 26 Jesus sent him home, saying, “Don’t even go into the village.”

We learn how some men brought a blind man to Jesus to be healed by Him. Here we can learn about three conditions:

1.The time he was blind: The man who was brought up to Jesus was blind by birth is what we understand. The man who lived in darkness and poverty , came to Jesus with lots of hope. He did not come to Jesus, but was brought to Him by some people. The people who brought the blind man, and the blind man himself believed and had faith in the healing power of Jesus.they requested Jesus to touch him. What did Jesus do?? Jesus took the man by his hand and led him outside the village. Jesus spit on the man’s eyes and placing his hands on him asked if he could see anything. Here we see that Jesus led him out of the circumstances/conditions he was in. His blindness that could have been healed by just a word or touch by Jesus was dealt differently here. Jesus saw that he needed more than just healing/ treatment from blindness, and He gave him. Today we also need this, we have sight or we can see. But due to worldly desires and desires of the flesh has created a cataract in our vision. We need to be treated for it. We live in a make believe world that the conditions we are in is safe from temptations and hence live inside a bubble that we are believing and following the word of God. We believe and affirm that what we see, say and do is right in the eyes of the Lord.

We should reflect that does the cataract affecting our sight enables us to see our loved around us, our family, our friends,our relatives and our colleagues?? We think that the blame or faults are with others and if they changes or rectify themselves, everything will be fine. If anyone happens to correct or tell us our faults we do not like it. What is the way out of this situation? God’s help and His words. The rest follows.

2.Half-sight: Jesus spat on the man’s eyes, and placed His hands on him and asked him if he could see anything. The man said he could see people, walking around like trees. Many of us are in this condition. We do not see people as they are. We see them as objects or instruments to be used. We love them with the intent how they can be of use to us,;money, beauty, position, this is what we love. Those without these are seen as outcastes or neglected. When a person dies there is immediate love for the person. the reason can be sense of loss or remorse/guilt/regret. 1 Corinthians 13:12-13, 12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

The blind man had imperfect vision, so Jesus placed His hands on his eyes and restores his sight (Mark 8:25). Our vision cannot be cleared or corrected by our own efforts, we need the Lord’s intervention and healing touch to cure our blindness.

3.Complete vision: When Jesus placed hands on the man for the second time, the man had complete vision. After he gained sight, Jesus commands him to not enter his village. This reflects that Jesus asks him to not go back to his previous state/circumstances. Jesus expects us to live a transformed life and become a new creation in Him after His healing touch in our lives. How is our personal life?? Are we able to see our fellow people and loved ones clearly?? Usually we trivialize God. The Lord resides on heavens above and we live on earth. We have turned our Lord into a magician. Someone who gives us what we want. A Lord who ignores and turns a blind eye to our follies and transgressions.

We read that the man came before Jesus in complete submission. He allowed Jesus to spit on him and place hands on him repeatedly. Let us make him an example for us and submit ourselves before the Lord and ask for transformation.

Proverbs 30: 12-13, those who are pure in their own eyes
    and yet are not cleansed of their filth;
13 those whose eyes are ever so haughty,
    whose glances are so disdainful;

May the Lord never say this to us,His children.

Is our faith capable of saving us?

Mark 5: 25-34, 25 And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years. 26 She had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors and had spent all she had, yet instead of getting better she grew worse. 27 When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, 28 because she thought, “If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed.” 29 Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering.

30 At once Jesus realized that power had gone out from him. He turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who touched my clothes?”

31 “You see the people crowding against you,” his disciples answered, “and yet you can ask, ‘Who touched me?’ ”

32 But Jesus kept looking around to see who had done it. 33 Then the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell at his feet and, trembling with fear, told him the whole truth. 34 He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.”

In the gospel of Mark 5:25-34, we read how the faith of a woman who had been bleeding for 12 years heals her. Bleeding for twelve long years she must have made several visits to medicine men, and done lots of treatment leading loss to of property and must have felt disheartened and lost all hope of being cured. She heard about Jesus. And thought to herself, “If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed.” She reached behind Jesus and touched His cloak. The power went out of Jesus and healed her completely.Immediately Jesus realized that power had gone out of Him and healed someone. He turns around and asks who touched Him. With respect to Christ it was valid question. But the disciples considered it trivial and say, 31 “You see the people crowding against you,” his disciples answered, “and yet you can ask, ‘Who touched me?’ ” But there is huge difference when someone touches in a crowd unintentionally and when someone touches intentionally. The disciples and the people around created a huge crowd around Jesus. But only one woman, with full and firm faith/belief that the Lord’s power can heal her, touches Him.

The disciples too became a part of the crowd that surrounded Jesus. It is time to reflect and think how do we worship, adore and pray to our Lord. Is it automated like a machine?? Or, like the woman above, is our faith powerful and firm enough to make Jesus turn and look at us?? The incidents in the Bible are not fictional happenings. No matter how many times we hear or read it does not stay in out hearts. Its like a pot with holes, everything seeps out slowly. The Lord says to the bleeding woman, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.”

Let us ask a question to ourselves, how is our faith?? Like the bleeding woman? Like the woman from Canaan?? Who does like to hear this, “Daughter/Son, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.” We also pray. But when we do not receive an answer instantly, our faith depletes. Sometimes we give up prayer completely.

Children of God, this is not what the Father expects of us. Pray. The time and moment is His. Let our faith be powerful to defeat all shackles/traps/temptations by the evil one.Pray and have faith.

The Good Samaritan

Luke 10:30-37, the background to this parable is that an expert in law wanted to test Jesus. The expert asked what should I do to get eternal life? The Lord answered, 26 “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”. To this the law expert replied, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” When the expert asked Jesus, Who is my neighbor? The Lord narrated this parable.

30 In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. 31 A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. 32 So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. 34 He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’

We can observe three things here:

What will I get: In today’s world, be it in family or society, this is the first thought that comes to a majority of people’s mind. Here too we see the same thinking. The robbers attacked the man, robbed him of his belongings, beat him and went away. Their aim was to only acquire whatever the man possessed. They did not spare a thought to what would happen and what happened to the man after they beat him up. Even if others die, what is it to me, my purpose should be fulfilled. For this, at times people can stoop down to the lowest level.

What will happen to me: This group thinks about what will happen to me if I do this?.this thought prevents them from doing things which matter. The priest and the Levite fall to this category. They must be having several explanations to their actions. Eg: On the way to worship, if I stop on the way, I won;t be able to reach the worship place on time. If the man is dead I would become impure, and I would have to do cleansing for that to be able to worship again. On the way from Jerusalem to Jericho, robbery was a normal affair. If he is pretending to be wounded, then his purpose is to rob and then I would get hurt and might even die. They did not have time to waste for the man. They had definite destinations to reach.

What can I do: There is a common streak of nature in all humans. They think what can I do for those in my family, society, and those in need. The Samaritan too was on some purpose when travelling to Jericho from Jerusalem. The above two thoughts did not bother him. He felt sympathy for the wounded man and gave him first aid. He led him to an inn and paid the innkeeper to look after him and also told to pay for the extra expenses if incurred. The Samaritan does not lament about the time or money spent on the wounded man. He spend time and money for the man on the road he barely knew, and saved a life.

When Jesus finished narrating he asked, 36 “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”

37 The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”

Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”

Let us conclude, what will I get?? what will happen to me?? what can I do??. Let us ask these questions. Where do we stand in these three questions?? In families and at workplaces today, it is a very common question: What good does it hold for me?? Instead of this we should all ask ourselves what can I do here? Everyone desires peace, joy and contentment. We also desire to do good. But what stops us from putting the thought to action???Fame, popularity, applause, wealth, the pursuit of these sees no time constraint or money issues. Why do we feel contempt or disdain for the poor in dirty clothes, a leper and those who are helpless?? It would be so good if we could replace contempt with the thought that what can I do that would help/better the situation?

If we could spare a minute and think if our loved ones or friends were in their position and everyone thinks like I do, then how would the world function?? Today’s wealth and health can be gone in the blink of an eye. Let us remember the Lord’s word. We should also what the Samaritan did for the stranger. Every journey begins with the first step. Let us all step forward towards it.

Pride goes for a fall

Luke 18:14, 14 “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”

In the book of Esther chapter 1 we read that King Xerxes held a grand banquet in his kingdom of Susa. In the banquet he had invited many military leaders of Persia and Media, the princes, and the nobles of the provinces. The banquet was held for seven days. On the seventh day, when the king was in drunken stupor, he asked the seven eunuchs who served him—Mehuman, Biztha, Harbona, Bigtha, Abagtha, Zethar and Karkas to bring before him Queen Vashti, wearing her royal crown, in order to display her beauty to the people and nobles, for she was lovely to look at. Queen Vashti was very beautiful. She did not accept the orders issued by the king. This infuriated the king. He took advice from his experts in law and justice about what action should be taken against the Queen. They said that the queen should be expelled from his presence forever and a new queen be placed on her position.

Esther 1:4 onward, we read that King Xerxes intended to exhibit Queen Vashti just as he exhibited his wealth and splendor. The description of his wealth and the banquet laid for the people are witness to his pride. He wanted to show off his queen also just like a property and not respect for her as a person. Queen Vashti violated the royal order, humiliated the king before the nobles and his subjects. He was undressed of his ego and pride here.

Queen Vashti too had organised a banquet for the women. The royal orders must have reached her when she was enjoying her time with her womenfolk. She did not obey the royal traditions nor abide by duties as wife and queen. She could have atleast send a letter to the king through one of the eunuchs. She didn’t do that also. She did not only violate the royal orders but also quiet upon it. As a result, her vainglory goes for a fall, she is stripped of her ego and pride. She lost the position as a queen.

In the book of Daniel 4:30, 30 he said, “Is not this the great Babylon I have built as the royal residence, by my mighty power and for the glory of my majesty?”, we see that King Nebuchadnezzar say these words in his pride. Even before he completes his words the Lord says,

31 Even as the words were on his lips, a voice came from heaven, “This is what is decreed for you, King Nebuchadnezzar: Your royal authority has been taken from you. 32 You will be driven away from people and will live with the wild animals; you will eat grass like the ox. Seven times will pass by for you until you acknowledge that the Most High is sovereign over all kingdoms on earth and gives them to anyone he wishes.”

33 Immediately what had been said about Nebuchadnezzar was fulfilled. He was driven away from people and ate grass like the ox. His body was drenched with the dew of heaven until his hair grew like the feathers of an eagle and his nails like the claws of a bird. His pride goes for a fall.

From the above given three people, we can learn a lesson. One day or the other we would be stripped of our pride. We should remember that the wealth and fame on this earth is fleeting and momentary, and a gift from God.

Luke 12: 16-21,16 And 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.” Who can say that the source of life will say no to giving us new life??

Today in families, pride is killing the bond and connection between members. We today prefer to be showpieces or exhibits. To fulfill this egoistical desire, we borrow money to get things we might not need just to show them off. Jesus taught the lesson of humility to His disciples. He washed the feet of His disciples after walking for miles and even dried them. That is not what is expected of us. Life of humility and a humble personality attracts everyone. Humility/meekness is not weakness rather a strength and a step to victory. The thought of “I” in a person kills all the other virtues in him/her.

The virgin girl who was selected to be the mother of the Saviour of the world calls herself a servant of the Lord , Luke 1:48, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed,…The result of her humility is that the world today worships her as the Blessed mother of Christ.

Proverbs 21:24, 24 The proud and arrogant person—“Mocker” is his name—behaves with insolent fury.

Isaiah 2:12, The Lord Almighty has a day in store for all the proud and lofty, for all that is exalted (and they will be humbled)

Home is where the Heart is

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Scripture passage: Mark 5: 19, 19 Jesus did not let him, but said, “Go home to your own people and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.”

In Mark 5 we read about how Jesus heals a demon possessed man. So when he was healed and transformed he went to Decapolis and proclaimed what the Lord had done for him. He was possessed by Legion. On being healed he wanted to follow Jesus. This is the first time that after being healed Jesus asks the person to go home and tell what He had to others. The man who was possessed by many demons, one day came back home fully transformed and healed. A house, a family. and the whole village bore witness to the magnificence and grace of God. Let us see the condition he was in before Jesus heals him.

1.The man used to live among the graves: An ordinary man will not like to sit in a graveyard even during the daytime. But we read that this man used to live in a graveyard. Graveyard is home for the dead and not the living. James 2: 26, 26 As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead. Similarly we can see that the Holy Spirit was dead in him, instead he was possessed by demons/evil spirits.

Saul was jealous of the rise in fame and popularity of the boy, David. I Samuel 18: 8- 9, Saul was very angry; this refrain displeased him greatly. “They have credited David with tens of thousands,” he thought, “but me with only thousands. What more can he get but the kingdom?” And from that time on Saul kept a close eye on David. then we read, in 1 Samuel 18:10, 10 The next day an evil spirit from God came forcefully on Saul.He was prophesying in his house, while David was playing the lyre, as he usually did. Saul had a spear in his hand 11 and he hurled it, saying to himself, “I’ll pin David to the wall.” But David eluded him twice. The worldly desires make man captive to sin and temptations, as a result the Holy spirit leaves him/her. Holy spirit does not and cannot reside in an impure heart and soul. If man is to be a temple for the Lord, he/she needs to be cleansed and pure of all impurities.

Let us introspect and see which all evils have made a residence inside us. Love of power? Jealousy? Sexual desires?Sexual Immorality? Adultery? Drugs? Evil desires is the mother of sin and the devil is the father. Hence when you follow or becomes slaves of desire you do his bidding. John 8:44,For you are the children of your father the devil, and you love to do the evil things he does. He was a murderer from the beginning. He has always hated the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, it is consistent with his character; for he is a liar and the father of lies.

2. Mark 3: 3-5,This man lived in the tombs, and no one could bind him anymore, not even with a chain. For he had often been chained hand and foot, but he tore the chains apart and broke the irons on his feet. No one was strong enough to subdue him. Night and day among the tombs and in the hills he would cry out and cut himself with stones. Each child of God is given yardsticks of the Ten Commandments to follow and observe in his/her life. Those who do not observe them or follow them reach a dead end like the legion possessed man. When we become captives by the devil we lose self control and are unable to be controlled or guided by others. We forget the way to our own home. Eg: The prodigal son, Luke 15:11, The younger son desiring freedom and independence from his father’s care and love, goes away from the protection of his father. He wanders aimlessly among several graveyards(World desires) and jungles(temptations). He became addict to sin and could stoop down no further. When he regained his senses, he remembered the happy life he led with his father. He repented and returned to his father. We do not read that the father forgave him. Because the father was filled with love and there was no place for his son’d mistake or transgressions. The relationship was broken only by the son and not by the father.

A word of caution to all those who seek freedom and independence from the chains of love at one’s home. Your loved ones and friends and the time you spend with them is limited. Make the best use of the time you have with them. The gates of your home and the eyes of the loved ones wait for you with open arms with unconditional love.

How are our homes? Like travelling in a bus?? Travelling together but not connected to each other? Not bothered or care about others in family? Each person has their own aims and preferences?? You can get down or climb on whenever you want?? There is no one to ask…. There is relation in homes. The absence of one person creates a void in the family. The Lord also says the same to the man, to be a good example to his family and his village.

3.He used to cut himself with stones: While working, a small bruise or cut can cause immense plain to us. And here was a man who was hurting himself with stones, unbelievable!!. Dead bodies are sent for post mortem where they are cut and studied. It does not hurt them as they are not living. He too was like a living dead, no feeling. If we hurt ourselves or if others hurt, the place for healing is our home. Return to your homes today. Days are fleeting by fast, you cannot hold them together and cannot get them back. And we do not know if we have a tomorrow.

There is a reverse side to this. If we are hurt at our homes, where do we go to for healing?? Those who go out looking for healing and relief away from home are later unable to return back even if they want to. Man names buildings according to the purpose it serves like temple, school, office, beverage shop, mall, etc. A home is where we live with our parents, siblings, children, and share our joys and sorrows together. A home is where we love each other, respect each other and forgive each other.

What the Lord Jesus said to the legion possessed is what He is saying to each one of us. Be a good example to your family/home. The best school for any person is their own home. Let us begin our lessons from our homes. May the Lord bless and prepare each of us for the lessons.

The Lord who never abandons-2

God created man in His own image, pure and of free will. But our first parents, Adam and Eve misused this free will and followed their desires. Those created as man desired to be like God Himself. They fell prey to the snare laid down by Devil, were cursed and lost everything they had. As punishment, they were sent out of Eden. They lost their relationship with the Heavenly Father and it still continues. Three things need to be taken notice of:

1. Beware of temptations/traps: 1 Peter 5: 8, Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. If there are angels in heaven , there are devils lurking in every corner on earth. Angels guide us on the right path and devils take us on the wrong path. We all here two voices inside our head; one voice says that don’t do that, it’s wrong (inner conscience), and the second voice says it is alright since everyone does it (devil). 2 Peter 2:19, 19 They promise them freedom, while they themselves are slaves of depravity—for “people are slaves to whatever has mastered them.” One who falls prey to the temptations of devil, becomes a slave to the devil. One can read about this in a book “Doctor Faustus” by Christopher Marlowe (PDF attached) Psalms 78: 1, My people, hear my teaching; listen to the words of my mouth. These are the lamentations by our Heavenly Father for us. The teachings of our Lord and the word of God are our only shield against falling prey to temptations. So understand them well, remember them and follow them with your whole heart. Romans 13:9, The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not covet,”and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” and in Romans 13:14, 14 Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh. The Lord clearly has given us His commandments and also what He expects from us His children. The root cause and beginning of every sin is desire, and the sin by our first parents is an example. The Bible says in 1 John 3:8, The one who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work. The decision lies with us to make wise choice: whom do we select, Our Father or the Devil.

2. Admit your mistakes when you are wrong: 1 John 1: 8-9, If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. Adam and Eve hid themselves when the Heavenly Father called out to them in the garden of Eden. They were not willing to accept their mistakes before Him. They blamed each other for the mistakes. Adam said in Genesis 3:12-13, 12 The man said, “The woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.” 13 Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”

We also read in 2 Samuel 11:1 onward about David and Bathsheba, wherein we see the sin he commits succumbing to carnal desires. In 2 Samuel 12 :1 onward we read how prophet Nathan rebukes David through a story which was meant to make him understand his mistake. Understanding his mistake and its gravity, David wept in repentance and sought forgiveness from God. In his repentant ways he penned down Psalms 51, which begins with a cry of mercy and grace from the Father. The devil even dared to tempt the son of God, our Savior, Jesus Christ. Matthew 4, we read about Jesus being tested in wilderness. Jesus defeated him with the words of God. May the word of God be our weapon also.

3. God’s loving care and protection: Due to sin, our first parents who were as innocent as children, realized that they were naked. They made clothes for themselves out of leaves. Heavenly Father clothed them in the skin of an animal. The animal most probably must have been a lamb. This was the first sacrifice that took place. This was just the beginning to the plan Father had in mind to rescue us all through the sacrifice of His son, our Lord, Jesus Christ. 1 John 3:8, …The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work. And in John 1:29, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! These words were said by John the Baptist when he saw Lord Jesus Christ.

Jesus through the parable of the prodigal son teaches us all that the return of the son was his acceptance of his fall and mistakes. Father even before listening to him speak, kisses him and hugs him close to his bosom. He dressed him in new clothes/robes and gave him new slippers, removing the filth of the world from him. He put a ring on his finger reinstating him to the position of his son. The father celebrates his return forgetting everything. The same love and acceptance is seen in the parable of the lost sheep. Luke 15: 6-7, ….‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent. This is what the Father in heaven expects us His children to repent and accept our mistakes before Him.

Children of God, there are eyes which are waiting for us( Heavenly Father, Son, Holy Spirit, Virgin Mother) and hands as strong as iron in Heaven. We don’t know if we have a tomorrow. Wake up and retrace your steps from the wrong ways.

Let me tell you a story: A shepherd had many sheep. One lamb from his flock was very naughty. Due to his naughty nature, the shepherd faced a lot of difficulties. One day the lamb while crossing a rocky cliff fell down and broke its leg. The shepherd bandaged the leg and hugged the lamb close to him and reassured the poor lamb. He gave it food and water, and carried it around on his shoulders. He didn’t let it walk on its own. The lamb, on receiving so much love and care from the shepherd, changed its ways. It became an obedient lamb and followed the shepherd everywhere.

If a lamb can change so much with love, are we any different from it?? Are we without gratitude?? Why do we children of God become children of Devil?? Lets introspect into ourselves. Whose child am I?? Father in Heaven or the Devil?? If you say Father then, the acts and deeds should also be in accordance. Let the Holy Spirit fill us and guide us in the right path.

AMEN.

The Lord who never abandons-1

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Deuteronomy 31:8, The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”

Yahweh, the Lord decided to destroy the city of Nineveh due to their wicked acts and sinful nature. But more than their destruction, He desired a change of heart and soul. Lord sent the prophet Jonah in their midst to prophecy about the Lord’s decision. Lord said three things, (Jonah 1:2, “Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me.”) their sins have reached up to me; go and preach. Jonah did not approve of the decision of the Lord. He knew very well that the Lord is patient and highly merciful. If the people had a change of heart then his prophecy of destruction would be false. The priority of ‘self’ or ‘I’ was more in Jonah than saving the whole city of Nineveh, including all men and animals. Following the Lord’s instructions, Jonah set foot to travel. But instead of travelling to Nineveh, he went to Tarshish. Jonah must be having his own explanations in doing so. Man violating the instructions of Lord is punishable. Who is man to go against the wishes of the Lord?? Jonah’s experience is a lesson for all of us who go against the word of God.

God rocked the ship that Jonah sailed upon with heavy storm and rocky waves. To lessen the weight, the sailor started to throw the loads into the sea. What do we children of the Lord do when our life boat is rocked by turbulent winds of sin and desires?? What should be done?? Do we throw away the sacks of sins and resume the journey in the right direction?? Jonah was sleeping peacefully when the ship was being rocked. Are we also sleeping blissfully like Jonah without a care in this world?? Wake up and think where am I going??

This is the state of affairs in many of our homes.Even if the family gets caught in the midst of stormy times due to their own actions, he/she sleeps peacefully. Due to God’s anger on one person, God could have destroyed the whole ship. Only if God could open the eyes of Jonah’s in our own lives/ homes. Alcoholics, drug addicts, sexual immorality, pride, selfishness, anger, hatred, slaves to these cause pain to those around them. If only God would open their hearts and eyes. Jonah admitted his mistake and was ready to take the punishment for it. Jonah recognized that this was all the Lord’s doing.

Jonah said to the fellow sailors to throw him into the sea as he was the cause of the turbulent seas. Jonah was thrown into the sea. The Lord has a plan for everyone, similarly, when Jonah was thrown a whale was waiting to swallow him up. This is a warning for those who go against the wishes of God, their way will be stormy and many fishes will be there to swallow them up. Jonah cried out loud. Merciful Lord heard his cries. the whale spit Jonah out at the place the Lord had decided upon. Can you believe that a man was inside a whale’s belly for three whole days.

Our family is like a ship. The world is like the ocean. When our ship sets sail it comes across high waves and stormy weather. At these times we say that the Lord has forsaken us. When the ship goes the wrong way, it is the Lord’s way of bringing us back in the right direction by tossing us here and there. God left Jonah on his way. He reached Nineveh. The Lord does not desire the destruction of sinners, He waits and wants a change/transformation of the heart. The Lord has set many of His people to guide His children in the right direction. Lord desires us to bravely say what is the truth without fear of reactions and repercussions, looking squarely at the faces. We do not know what tomorrow holds for us. What if we would not be given a chance for repentance??

Jonah preached in Nineveh. The whole city, from the king to the ordinary man and animals repented from their sinful ways and asked for forgiveness. Seeing their repentance, Lord’s anger melted, changed His decision and did not destroy them. This experience teaches us that even the words one person is enough to bring about change of hearts in people. We do not know whom the Lord will use as an instrument of change. May the Holy Spirit fill us with power to be able to say the truth in the word of God.

Joshua 1:9, Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

Isaiah 41:10, 10 So do not fear, for I am with you;
    do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
    I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Routine or Habit?

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Since the time we mature or are able to understand, we often hear the terms routine or habit?? Making a few things as habit is a good thing. Yet on the other hand some things become bad habits. Let us see three good habits:

  1. Prayer: Every religious denominations says the prayer in their own ways. In several Hindu homes we can see there is a puja room. In truth, it is a welcoming sight. In our homes we have a dining room/area, bedroom, living room/TV room. When a guest comes visiting we receive him/her with such aplomb. But do you have a permanent place or atmosphere for prayer to receive??? When we sit together for family prayer, we should remember the promise made by Jesus Matthew 18: 20, For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” Our Saviour is true to His words; First, He is part of us when we sit together for family prayer; Second, He desires that we come together in His name; Third, we should pray in His name, John 14: 13-14, 13 And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.

2. Jesus used to pray before every duty: Luke 22: 39-46, 39 Jesus went out as usual to the Mount of Olives, and his disciples followed him. 40 On reaching the place, he said to them, “Pray that you will not fall into temptation.” 41 He withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed, 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.

45 When he rose from prayer and went back to the disciples, he found them asleep, exhausted from sorrow. 46 “Why are you sleeping?” he asked them. “Get up and pray so that you will not fall into temptation.”

Similarly in Luke 6:12-13, 12 One day soon afterward Jesus went up on a mountain to pray, and he prayed to God all night. 13 At daybreak he called together all of his disciples and chose twelve of them to be apostles.

Have we made this a habit? Do we pray to our Lord before the start of every duty??? A heartfelt prayer said from the bottom of the heart can make miracles. We can see the difference between those who trust their own potential and those who leave the results in the hands of the Lord, Luke 5: 5-6, Simon answered, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.”When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break.

3. Worship, Confession, Holy Communion: The fourth commandment was the observe the Sabbath as holy/sacred. But some do not observe it seriously or follow it wholeheartedly. Nowadays, it can be seen that people attend worship as a routine or do not attend out of boredom. To attend the worship on Sunday, we prepare ourselves through the week. Those regularly confess their sins and partake in the Holy Communion receive the opportunity to return to the Heavenly Father just like the prodigal son returned to his father. John 16:8, 42 Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom, said the thief on the cross. Jesus replies, 43 Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.” The thief received salvation when he accepted his faults before the Lord and shows us the way that a true confession is the road to deliverance and salvation.

Forgetting the presence of our Lord, attending the Holy worship service without purpose or attention, talking between the service and gossiping, sleeping/yawning, and attending without prior preparation just a word of advice for them: just attending the worship service does not mean you are abiding by the fourth law of keeping Sabbath sacred. The above said habits are equivalent to violating the law, are a cause of God’s ire and hence needs to be avoided or corrected.

4.Reading the Bible: Just as food provides nutrition to the body, the word of God provides nutrition to the soul. If made a habit, this can help protect our souls just as a vitamin protects the body. It protects from diseases of the soul. If one applies the word of God to his/her personal life, then remember that we walk together in His presence. 2 Timothy 3:14-17, 14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, 15 and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

During childhood each parent should train them right and wrong through Bible stories. 2 Thessalonians 1: 10, 10 on the day he comes to be glorified in his holy people and to be marveled at among all those who have believed. This includes you, because you believed our testimony to you. Jesus used parables to make people understand the deeper essence of things He spoke about. The word of God is the guide in our life. Proverbs 16:20, Whoever gives heed to instruction prospers,and blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord. And in Psalms 19: 8-10,

The precepts of the Lord are right,
    giving joy to the heart.
The commands of the Lord are radiant,
    giving light to the eyes.
The fear of the Lord is pure,
    enduring forever.
The decrees of the Lord are firm,
    and all of them are righteous.

10 They are more precious than gold,
    than much pure gold;
they are sweeter than honey,
    than honey from the honeycomb.

Jesus defeated Satan and He used the words of God, Matthew 4,

Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted[a] by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.”

Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.”

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 answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.”

Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.”

10 Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.”

The first teacher for any child is the mother, prayer, bible stories like David & Goliath, Daniel, Joseph, Samuel, Jesus feeds thousands, Good Samaritan, Prodigal Son, etc are some that teach values. May the children grow in stature ans in grace of God with the seed of faith taking deep roots within them. May our children know and believe in Jesus. Let the word of God be the beacon for every family.

Hebrews 4:12, 12 For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.

What is the aim of your life dear believer?

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Everyone asks this question once, what is the aim of your life? For some its money, professional success, societal fame, international fame, etc. These are necessary for man I admit. But to reach them, man keeps running in circles without looking where he/she is going. Man turns back to look where he has come only when they have traveled ahead too far. By then you are stuck in the middle, unable to move forward or backward. Those who win the race are happy in their victory, but those who lose become slaves to addiction like alcohol and drugs to drown their misery. Then it becomes impossible to escape from the clutches of these addictions. Where does man go for mental peace, satisfaction and contentment? There is only one way; the way of God.

Some people do not have any aim/goal in life. They like to splurge and live a luxurious life. I read a befitting story about such people a long time back. In America there is a lake Erie that meets into Niagara waterfalls. One day a vulture found a body floating in the lake. It sat on the dead body and forgetting itself, dug its claws into the body to eat the flesh. Just when the body reached the tip of the falls did the vulture realize that it was about to fall. It made desperate attempts to fly. But by then the claws had dug deep into the dead body and were not coming loose. The vulture died falling into the waterfall along with the dead body it was feasting on. Those who become too engrossed and involved in the material world and the worldly desires, often fall into the waterfall of bad habits and addiction and die. Try to escape before the fall.

All who are born have to die one day. But does everything end with death? No, the Bible says. Matthew 16:27, 27 For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what they have done, says that the Son of God will come down with His angels, and judge each one according to his/her deeds. God has given full freedom to chose what we like. But what we should chose should be done diligently; this world or the heavenly abode above? Jesus is true to His words and He will come again. That day if you want your name to be among the selected let us see what needs to be done.

John 3:3, Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.”, we read unless we are transformed we cannot enter the kingdom of Heaven. Similarly, John 3: 15-21, 15 that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.”16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. 19 This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. 20 Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. 21 But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God. It says that all those who believe in Jesus should do good deeds or else they will be tried before the Heavenly Father. Romans 10: 9 , If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. It says that you need to proclaim Him as Lord and you will be saved. But remember that it is not mere words but needs actions as well. Let us see how

  1. Live a pure life: The book of Ecclesiastes says that there is a time for everything. Ecclesiastes 3:1-8, There is a time for everything and a season for every activity under the heavens:

    a time to be born and a time to die,
    a time to plant and a time to uproot,
    a time to kill and a time to heal,
    a time to tear down and a time to build,
    a time to weep and a time to laugh,
    a time to mourn and a time to dance,
    a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
    a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
    a time to search and a time to give up,
    a time to keep and a time to throw away,
    a time to tear and a time to mend,
    a time to be silent and a time to speak,
    a time to love and a time to hate,
    a time for war and a time for peace.

But there is no lesson on living pure life which means that one needs to have pure thoughts and live a pure life always. In Galatians 5:16-17, 16 So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. 19 The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other. Hence we see that we either follow the flesh or the spirit.

Then we read in 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. So dear brothers and sister be mindful of your thoughts and actions because what you say or do is to the sacred temple of the Lord.

1 John 3: 3-10, All who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure. Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness. But you know that he appeared so that he might take away our sins. And in him is no sin. No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him.Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray. The one who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous. The one who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work. No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in them; they cannot go on sinning, because they have been born of God. 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.

2. Love each other: 1 John 4:7-12,Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 11 Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 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. The Lord teaches us to love each other and to see His image in each other. This was His commandment:John 13:34, 34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.

Jesus does not ask us to name our neighbors, But he asks us how is our relationship with them. He does not ask us how big is our house, rather He asks how many people can seek refuge in our house. Jesus narrates to tale of the good Samaritan and teaches us who is a true friend in Luke 10: 30-37.

In conclusion read, Matthews 5: 7,Blessed are the merciful,  for they will be shown mercy. Be merciful to each other, to find mercy with Lord.

3. Follow His commandments: Solomon is known as the wisest among the wise. In Ecclesiastes 12:1, 12 Remember your Creator
    in the days of your youth,
before the days of trouble come
    and the years approach when you will say,
    “I find no pleasure in them”—

We read that if we lead a sinful life in our youth we cannot expect to reach Heaven. Yet again He says in Romans, 13: 8-10, Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law. The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not covet,” and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” 10 Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law. Can you follow this??

A Christian is a pilgrim on earth and his pilgrimage is seeking Heaven. Moses led the Israelites, Jesus leads us. He is the way, the truth and the life. He is the light of the world. In 1 Timothy 4: 7, I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.

In conclusion to it all, follow,

Ecclesiastes 12:13, 13 Now all has been heard;
    here is the conclusion of the matter:
Fear God and keep his commandments,
    for this is the duty of all mankind.