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Munching with the Word

Youth Sunday: Life Focused on the Word

Luke 10:25-38

25 And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” 26 He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?” 27 And he answered, “You shall 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 your neighbor as yourself.” 28 And he said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.”


I am sure you all might have heard the familiar story of the man who wanted guidance about a major decision. He started to close his eyes and not knowing where to look, wanted God to answer him. In the dilemma, he opened his Bible, put his finger down to get guidance from whatever verse his finger happened to land on. His first try brought him to Matthew 27:5, “Judas went out and hanged himself.” Thinking that verse was really not much help, he determined to try again. This time his finger landed on Luke 10:37, “Go thou and do likewise.”  Still undeterred and not ready to give up, he tried it a third time and his finger landed on John 13:27, “What thou doest, do quickly.”

Today our church celebrates as Youth Sunday and meditates on the theme Youth Sunday: Life Focused on the Word.

The lawyer who comes before Jesus is well versed with the Word of God. When he comes before Jesus asking a genuine doubt he is faced with a counter question by Jesus. What is written in the law? What do you read there?

He answered: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind; and, ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.”

What is curious about his response is that we won’t find this quote anywhere in the Old Testament together or at one place. Instead, it is a combination of two verses: Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord you God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.” (Deut. 6:5) And, Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against one of your people, but love your neighbour as yourself. I am the Lord.” (Lev. 19:18)

We see that the lawyer was well versed with the Word and linked these two verses to give as an answer. His answer was perfectly right. And Jesus responds with a nod, “Do this and you will live.” But he did not understand the meaning and to make him understand what it is to have a life focused on the Word Jesus tells this parable.

How can we have a life focused on the Word? Is our life focused on the Word?

  1. I Need To Journey From Head To Heart

All the characters in this story are revealed except the man who has been robbed and found in a half dead position. He is the only one who is completely anonymous. The other characters can be identified with a group. A priest, a Levite and a Samaritan.

The abandoned man could have been a priest, a Levite or a Samaritan or a Jew. We do not know which particular group he belongs to. He could have been one of these. He could not be identified due to the following reasons:

a. He has been stripped of one of the most distinctive cultural signs, his clothes.
b. Because he was abandoned half-dead he cannot talk, so he cannot be identified with any linguistic group.
These are the two ways by which we can identify a person.

The priest was the first one to come along the road. He sees the person. If the man isn’t a Jew, it creates a problem, for a Jew would not want to touch a non- Jew. And if he is dead, then the priest will be defiled, which creates an even greater problem.

Priests collected and distributed the tithe brought to the Jerusalem temple. If the priest touches this man, especially if he is dead, then the priest will be defiled, unable either to take food at the temple or to distribute it to his family or servants. He will have to go through a full week of cleansing, and then suffer humiliation by having to stand at the Eastern Gate with the defiled. In the end, he will lose four weeks’ pay.

The priest was smart for bypassing the robbed man. Anyone with a reasonable brain would know he had to look after himself, his family and his servants first.

Then, along comes the Levite, the lowest of the three orders in Israel’s priesthood. It is his job to assist the temple priests on Sabbaths and feast days. He too like the priest ahead of him, is bound by the same laws of uncleanness as the priest. Furthermore, he is afraid of robbers. When he arrives at the scene, he knows the priest has gone on, so how can he, a lesser person in the religious pecking order, do what the priest refused to do?

But the Samaritan was different. The difference that we see in the priest, levite and Samaritan is the way they thought – the priest and Levite with their mind and the Samaritan with his heart.

V.33,34 tells why the Samaritan could not move forward seeing this man whose identity was unknown. He felt compassionate.

Compassion comes only when we think with our hearts. Jesus didn’t think logically. He was so in love with the world that he could not think logically or with mind. He thought with heart and so was ready to give away his life for our sake.

Much more than any generation we today think more with our mind than with our heart. A child’s love towards his father or mother once he/she is grown up resembles with the attitude of the priest and the Levite. But a parent’s love for their children even after they are grown up is like that of the Samaritan’s. They always think with their heart. If a problem comes they are ready to sacrifice everything for the sake of their children. But the vice versa is seldom true.

2. I Need To Journey From Concepts And Thoughts To Behaviour

It is not at all an exaggeration if we say that the lawyer was well versed with the Law and Word. Jesus too accepts it. Jesus’ reply refers to the Law and the lawyer’s understanding of it.

According to Joachim Jeremias, German Lutheran theologian, scholar of Near Eastern Studies and university professor for New Testament studies., in his book The Parables of Jesus says that the Greek verb anaginosko does not mean “to read” but “to recite.” Therefore, the question of Jesus should be understood as: “How do you recite?” which implies a daily recitation such as regular prayer.

The lawyer knows the law, he knows what he must to do to inherit eternal life, but he does not practice it. It has only been a recitation but he never knew how to interpret it or translate it.

Today most of the misunderstandings that have happened in our family or social life if analyzed is because our thoughts and concepts have not been translated into action.

3. I Need To Journey From Being A Professional Christian To A Professing Christian.

If the priest and the Levite were bound by the laws of uncleanness then it applied to the Samaritan also.

The Samaritan also faces the problem of contamination. As well, he is a prime target for robbers. The thieves might respect the priest or the Levite, but who cares about Samaritans? The priest and the Levite have ignored the man in trouble and he may ask himself, “Why should I help?”

But through his acts he shows that the instinct of helping one in need is a God instinct. We mirror God when our lives reflect God’s imprint.

What the Samaritan does is also symbolically important. He uses wine to disinfect the wounds and oil as salve to aid the healing process. And where else are these elements used? In the temple. They are used in worship back up in Jerusalem.

The Samaritan connects temple worship to everyday life. What we do in worship on Sunday is not removed from the situations we meet the rest of the week. As oil and wine are used to worship God in the temple, so are they to be used to disinfect and heal.

The priest and the Levite, as professionals, used oil and wine in their temple worship. In fact, they have just finished their work in Jerusalem. But when human need stares them in the face, it never occurs to them that what they use for worship can also be used for healing. Instead, it is the hated Samaritan who gives the ultimate worship, and by obedience used temple material for good.

Have we today become professional Christian or professing Christian?

Jesus sets the parable between Jerusalem and Jericho. And what do they represent? Jerusalem is the center of worship, the holy place where people go to meet God. There the highest form of worship is experienced and expressed. Jericho is the city Joshua cursed when the children of Israel first broke into the promised land: “Cursed before the Lord in the man who undertakes to rebuild this city, Jericho” (Joshua 6:26)

Jesus connects these two cities and by doing so tells us that in his world there is no distinction between the divine and the profane, sacred and secular, holy and worldly. We cannot worship in Jerusalem and then walk to Jericho as if what we have done in the temple has nothing to do with what we see on the road.

For my life to be focused on the word I need to travel long and the path is not easy.

  1. I Need To Journey From Brain To Heart
  2. I Need To Journey From Concepts (ആശയം) And Thoughts (സങ്കല്പം) To Behaviour (പെരുമാറ്റരീതി)
  3. I Need To Journey From Being A Professional Christian To A Professing Christian.
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Can I Become Witness ‘of’/’to’ the Laity

Luke 10:36,37
Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbour to the man who fell among the robbers? He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” And Jesus said to him, “You go, and do likewise.”

Larry Crabb in his book Connecting: Healing Ourselves and our Relationships shares the following story. A young boy often used to wear his grandmother’s glasses. Though everyone in the house had glasses, he would take only his grandmother’s? Everyone wondered why he didn’t take anyone else’s. Once his dad asked him, “Why do you always wear grandmother’s glasses? He replied, “My grandmother has a different angle to everything. She always sees when people are tired or sad, she knows just what to do to make them feel better. You all eat the same thing, wear the same type of dress and the only difference I see is the glasses that my grandmother wears. I want to see the world as my grandmother sees it.

Like the parable of the “Prodigal Son,” the “Good Samaritan” story is familiar and comforting across time and across time zones. As the old saying goes, familiarity breeds contempt there are chances of us thinking that there is nothing new that this parable can offer. Let us pray that God may provide us a new outlook and fill us with his insight which is always new and refreshing. Though familiar I believe all of Jesus’ parables are eternally charged and challenging.

When we look at the parables that Jesus spoke it had one element in it. Jesus always had a counter way of doing and understanding things. Also in most of the cases Jesus’ parable was not just an admonition to “be nice.” But on the contrary Jesus was always redefining the relationship between righteousness and a living faithfulness.

The background for Jesus telling this parable is known to us all. A lawyer came and asked Jesus a question. What shall I do to inherit internal life. When a youngster comes and asks this question Jesus tells him what was commanded in the scriptures. But the lawyer is not satisfied with the answer. To explain things in a way that is clear to the lawyer Jesus tells this parable.

Today the Mar Thoma Church celebrates as the Voluntary Evangelists’ Day (Edavaka Mission) and meditates on the theme – Witness of Laity. Edavaka Mission is one of the strong pillars of any church.

As we celebrate Voluntary Evangelists Day based on the gospel portion let us ask the question Can I become the witness “of” the laity and “to” the laity. If we want to be so I believe the parable poses few questions before us which we need to answer.

  1. Am I Travelling the Jesus Path?

Being called as Christians we are expected to follow the Jesus-path. The way of life on this path is the opposite of what the world offers or proclaims. This path emphasizes that our eyes should be opened to suffering in a transforming manner by Jesus.

In this parable, the surprise is that two distinguished travelers come along shortly after we find a man who was injured on his way to Jericho from Jerusalem. The first was a priest, the second was a Levite. Both served the Temple and were respected members of the religious establishment in Jerusalem. In the real world, an average “man” might journey down from Jerusalem to Jericho road by himself, but a priest and Levite would surely have had an entourage of some sort.

But neither of these official figures of religious authority, these emblems of bureaucratic righteousness, stop to help the injured man. Maybe their fear was of ritual impurity. After all, he was “half dead.” Or maybe he was dead. Priests and Levites were forbidden to come in contact with corpses. Or maybe it was just plain fear. Were the robbers that had attacked this man still in the area? Or maybe they were in a rush. Whatever the reason, neither of these religious figures nor any member of their companions stopped to help this injured man.

When we look at the travel path we see that Jesus says that the man was going from Jerusalem to Jericho. The same word ‘going down’ (v. 29,31) is used for the priests and the Levite. From this one thing is clear that they too were coming down from Jerusalem to Jericho.

Jerusalem has been considered to be a sacred place. Jesus showed us the path that leads to Jerusalem should be a path of resurrection, of transformation. Here also Jesus is explaining by telling this parable to the lawyer that our journeys should not to be those which are heading away from suffering, but on the contrary ones which actually notices it, and even accepts it, as Jesus did his own. We are a community which should make space to hear each other’s struggles, failures, griefs and losses.

How can I be sure that I am traveling Jesus’ path? Two things which this parable beautifully brings out are:

  1. Position/Status won’t matter – For the Priest and the Levite there are chances that it was the position or status they held that made them not to help the one in need.
  2. Money won’t matter – the Samaritan offer him first aid. He gives the injured man his mode of transportation. He “put him on his own animal.” It doesn’t end. He goes further in helping the injured person. He not only gives first aid and travel to a safe place, he paid for a room at an inn and stayed to care for the injured man. He then gives the innkeeper enough money for about a three week stay and a promise to pay any other expenses the injured man might incur.

Pope Francis has said, “We pray for the hungry, and then we feed them, because that is how prayer works.”

What Jesus was trying to tell the young man over here is – when you are travelling from a sacred place what is it that you have gained from that sacred place?

Are you able to follow the path you heard, saw and read when you were in the temple?

How many times have we looked at someone and thought inside, “You are not one of us”?

How many times have we looked at someone and judged their looks?

  1. Do I Need a Neighbour or Should I Become a Neighbour?

Is the parable of the good Samaritan a tale about doing good? Was that Jesus’ intention? The parable of the good Samaritan is about re-imagining the “imago Dei,” the image of God, in our everyday life.

The essence of Jewish teaching (Deut. 6:4-9 more commonly known as Shema) in Jesus’ day and as said by the lawyer in the parable: love of God and neighbor. The two parts of The Great Commandment can’t be separated: love God and love neighbor–passion for our Creator, compassion for creation’s creatures. But Jesus suggests in this parable that the very category of “neighbor” is part of the problem and that there is only one commandment: Love.

Leonard Sweet in his book ‘Well Played Life’ says “If you love God, you will love the image of God in every person you meet. To love God is our ultimate task. To love each other is our penultimate task. To love another person is our proximate task.”

Jesus asks the lawyer the question – Who proved to be a neighbour to the man who fell among the robbers? He replied – the one who showed him mercy.

So what does it mean to be a neighbour to someone? Paul Ricoeur (French philosopher) says, “to be a neighbour to someone is to cultivate hope in that person.” Being a neighbour, he claims, involves showing another person that he/she can expect good from me.

We don’t engage in helping others as we commonly say that I am not capable of doing it. I don’t have enough money. I am not physically strong to go out and help and the list of excuses goes on and on and on.

But if we look in the Bible and in this parable also we come to know God always chooses the one which the world never thought would be capable of doing such an act. Moses against the big Pharoah, David against Goliath, Gideon against Midianites and so on.

Edavaka Mission of a church can be called the pillar of the church. This is the only organization in which the whole of the church can be its members. There are no restrictions in age or gender. It began as a people’s movement and should continue as a people’s movement. The seven point programme which the Edavaka Mission holds on to (1. Intercession, 2. Bible Study, 3. Sharing of experience, 4. House Visit, 5. Serving the sick and the needy, 6. Conduct of prayer meetings, 7. Gospel work among people of other faiths and ideologies) can become meaningful if we can be the neighbour rather than go out in search of a neighbour.

Jesus’ path is an intentional path. The Samaritan acted intentionally – he saw, and he moved towards what he saw, and what he saw was a person made in the image of God, who needed another person to be compassionate.  He used his own resources, his oil and wine.  He spent his money – which never happens “by chance” but is always the result of intentional decision making.  Are we on the same path?

There is still time to make decisions, intentionally to get on the right path.  Jesus is calling us to get on the path today and asking us to Go and do likewise.

GodSprings – June 13, 2017 – Matthew 7:7-8

Am I Satisfied With Asking When I Am Supposed to Knock?
“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened .”
Matthew 7:7-8

William Wilberforce, English politician, philanthropist and a leader of the movement to stop the slave trade, was discouraged one night in the early 1790’s after another defeat in his ten-year battle against the slave trade in England. Tired and frustrated, he opened his Bible and began to go through it. A small piece of paper fell out and fluttered to the floor. It was a letter written by John Wesley shortly before his death. Wilberforce read it again: “Unless the divine power has raised you up…. I see not how you can go through your glorious enterprise in opposing that (abominable practice of slavery), which is the scandal of religion, of England, and of human nature. Unless God has raised you up for this very thing, you will be worn out by the opposition of men and devils. But if God be for you, who can be against you? Are all of them together stronger than God. Oh, be not weary of well-doing. Go in the name of God, and in the power of His might.

Some people think verse 7 is a blank check. Is it really? Verse 8 says that for everyone that asks receives and everyone that seeks finds and to him that knocks it shall be opened. Is it that simple? I don’t think so.

These verses are not blank cheques. There are certain conditions that Jesus has already mentioned in the Sermon he was delivering. So we need to consider this verse in purview of the whole of the Sermon on the Mount. This becomes a blank cheque when the conditions are right. Which means that we are His obedient child and we ask according to His will, in order that He may be glorified.

When we look at the verse we can notice that it’s not that simple. There is progression and perseverance involved in it. We need to keep on asking, keep on seeking and keep on knocking.

Asking is very simple. Every child does that. But there is no involvement and participation. We just ask. Seek on the other hand is stronger than just asking. There’s a participation in it. It can be said that at least we are moving our eyes to seek. But when it comes to knocking there’s a greater participation.

For example, I cannot just sit at my home and say, “Lord, I want to preach a great sermon this coming Sunday. Please, I ask you, give me a great sermon.” Just by simply asking I won’t be able to deliver a sermon. What I have to do is that I have to ask the Lord all week for that and then I seek that by going through the Word of God and reading and reading. And then I begin banging on the Lord,  which on most occasions happen on Saturday night saying, “Lord, I’m struggling with this portion and I want to understand it.” I realize that God is the only one who can produce through me, but at the same time, I have got to be involved in the process.

Why does God want us to be involved in this fashion? Is it because He loves seeing His creation banging for certain things? I don’t think that we have to bang to get God to act, but the more we are involved in the process, the greater the relationship becomes. The deeper, the richer and the more meaningful communion I can have with Him.

Let us pray – Dear Lord, help us to have the attitude of perseverance when it comes to having a relationship with You. Amen.

 

GodSprings – June 12, 2017 Matthew 7:6

Do I Proclaim The Gospel With Discernment?
“Do not give dogs what is holy, and do not throw your pearls before pigs, lest they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you.”
Matthew 7:6

In his book The Gospel According to Starbucks, Leonard Sweet tells the story of Ed Faubert. Faubert is what you call a “cupper” – in layman’s terms he’s a coffee-taster. And his sharp taste buds are actually certified by the state of New York. So refined is Faubert’s  sense of taste for coffee that even while blindfolded, he can take one sip of coffee and tell you “not just that it is from Guatemala, but from what state it comes, at what altitude it was grown, and on what mountain.”

Spiritually we need to cultivate this skill of discernment that will enable us to know right from wrong, best from better, pure from defiled and principles from pragmatics.

In verses 1-5 we saw that Jesus says we should not be overly judgmental. And here Jesus says that we should do things with discernment. What exactly does Jesus mean in this verse? Dogs, holy things, pigs, pearls. Who and what is Jesus talking about?

The dogs that Jesus is referring to are not the cuddly pets with friendly behaviour that we keep at home. Pigs and dogs are often coupled together in the Bible and are both emblems of uncleanliness.

What did Jesus mean when he mentioned dogs and pigs? In the Messianic Psalm it is recorded “For dogs encompass me; a company of evildoers encircles me; they have pierced my hands and feet – I can count all my bones – they stare  and gloat over me; they divide my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots” (Psalm 22:16-18). Who are these dogs? These are the people who did not pay any heed to the gospel that Jesus told.

Jesus is saying that we should not take the gospel and throw it to those people who glory in their shame like the dogs and take the precious pearls of the gospel and throw them to those who love sin like pigs. Why shouldn’t we do this? Because these people don’t appreciate the gospel. They regard it as foolishness. The dogs and pigs are not just unbelievers. They are unbelievers who had an opportunity to hear the gospel but have decided to reject it.

The word of God is not to be laid open to abuse and mockery. We must use discernment. It is no use to try to explain Christianity to someone who just want to mock, argue and ridicule. When we persist beyond a point in offering the gospel to such people, we are just inviting them to reject it with contempt. And Jesus advices us not to push it.

Jesus applied the same principle to the twelve apostles when He send them on their first mission. He warned them that they will meet two kinds of people. Some will be receptive to their message, others will not be receptive. Jesus said in Matthew 10:14 – “And if anyone will not receive you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet when you leave that house or town.”

So, what Jesus is asking from us is some discernment. But then it doesn’t mean we keep quiet. Jesus’ life is an example. The gospel can be proclaimed both by our words and by our life. When we don’t talk, let the holiness of God be seen in our life. St. Paul says in 2 Corinthians 3:3 – “And you show that you are a letter from Christ delivered by us, written not with ink but with the spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.”

Through us let them see the gospel. And let us hope that one day they too will long for holy things, for these pearls that we have been blessed with, and they will come to us and say, ‘What must I do that I may have these pearls too?’

Let us pray – Dear Lord, help us to have the discernment in proclaiming Your gospel at the right moment and at the right place so that it will never be brought to condemnation but will be for life and salvation to all. Amen.

 

GodSprings – June 11, 2017 – Matthew 7:3-5

Am I Able to Judge Who I Am?

“Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.”
Matthew 7:3-5

Once upon a time in Persia there was a judge. This judge was bribed. And so he rendered a wrong verdict, for money. Cambyses was the Persian king. And he heard what happened. And so he ordered the judge to be executed. And after the judge was executed, he ordered his soldiers to skin him. Strip off all his skin. He took all of the skin of that judge, and with it, he covered a chair. And on that chair sat every judge from then on who judged in that court in Persia.

We are prejudiced by our own egos and so we are unfit judges. We are partial in our own favour and tend to think we have a different standard than everybody else, because we are hopelessly and utterly blind when it comes to perception.

Most of us when we have a problem with someone else, we focus on what that person did wrong. We think the problem will get better if the other person would change. Jesus tells us what to do in such situations. Jesus says that we must focus on our own weakness and changes we need to make. This does not mean that those around us don’t have faults in their life. Jesus wants us to focus first on what we must do and how we can and must change.

The plank referred to here is the word used for a plank in a large building often 40 feet long and 5 feet around. In other words, if we have a plank this large in our eye it would be utterly impossible to see the speck in our brother’s eye.

The plank is a picture of our self-righteousness. We are totally blinded by it. When it comes to seeing the sins of others we think we have 20/10 vision not realizing that we are blinded by our own self-righteousness. Or to put it in the words of Charles Spurgeon, “we see our brother’s sin with a microscope but we see our sin through the wrong end of a telescope”

As long as we’re self-righteous, and we think we’re all right, there’s no way we are going to help anybody. We are blind and it’s a plank in our own eye.

Let us pray – Dear Lord, help us not to pull splinters out of people’s eyes with a plank in our own eyes and help us see ourselves the way we are. Amen.

 

GodSprings – 10, March, 2017

Am I a Murderer?

21 “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ 22 But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire.

Matthew 5:21-22

There was a little boy with a bad temper. His father gave him a bag of nails and told him that every time he lost his temper, to hammer a nail in the back fence. The first day the boy had driven 37 nails into the fence. Then it gradually dwindled down. He discovered it was easier to hold his temper than to drive those nails into the fence. Finally, the day came when the boy didn’t lose his temper at all. He told his father about it and the father suggested that the boy now pull out one nail for each day that he was able to hold his temper.

The days passed and the young boy was finally able to tell his father that all the nails were gone. The father took his son by the hand and led him to the fence. He said, “You have done well, my son, but look at the holes in the fence. The fence will never be the same. When you say things in anger, they leave a scar just like this one. You can put a knife in a man and draw it out. It won’t matter how many times you say ‘I’m sorry’, the wound is still there.”

Murder was the very first crime in the Bible. It didn’t just happen. Before the outward crime many things happened inwardly in Cain which made him to murder Abel.

If we think that when God said that you should not murder, it is only the outward expression of murder then we too are like the Pharisees. This is where Jesus precisely wanted to attack them and us. As we saw yesterday Jesus is raising the fallen standard of righteousness. The Pharisees had convinced themselves that because they didn’t kill anybody they were holy and righteous. Jesus blows that concept to bits.

Jesus says that they have interpreted the law only partially and have satisfied themselves and justified themselves. Jesus is not adding a new commandment but just making them realize that they left God away from the commandment. They didn’t mention God or divine judgment. They didn’t read the whole of Old Testament together. Psalm 51:6 we see that God desires truth in the inward part.

The part of the law they left out was internal part. Jesus adds on to that and says. It wasn’t enough for you not to kill. God is concerned about what is going on inside.

Jesus simply says that it isn’t murder alone. The issue is also of anger and hatred in your heart. If there is hatred in your heart, you are same as a murderer.

You have hatred, you are a murderer. You have anger, you are a murderer. And Jesus says that in God eyes, it’s no different than a man who goes out and does the crime.

This Lenten season can we just try to recollect how many murders we have committed? Can we resolve not to be angry and leave out hatred and accept love which was shown on the cross?

 

 

 

 

 

GodSprings – February 04, 2016

God’s Plan: Illogical But Best

Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, had borne him no children. She had a female Egyptian servant whose name was Hagar. And Sarai said to Abram, “Behold now, the Lord has prevented me from bearing children. Go in to my servant; it may be that I shall obtain children by her.” And Abram listened to the voice of Sarai. Genesis 16:1-2 (NIV)

Logic/Reason Vs. Faith is beautifully described by Charles H. Spurgeon using a story: Faith and Reason were often fellow travelers. Faith was a healthy man and he could walk 30 to 40 miles a day without any problem. Reason was more child-like and could only walk 3 or 4 miles. The whole walk Reason complained and griped each step.

One day Reason asked to walk with Faith. Faith said, “Reason you cannot walk with me, we have different purposes.” Reason persisted and the journey was begun. As the journey progressed, Reason could not keep up the pace that Faith set. Faith quietly marched onward. Reason discussed all the possibilities and the potentials and lagged far behind.

The two neared a large river. Reason says, “We can never ford this massive stream. Let us wait and build a bridge.” Faith waded into the river and sang a song of praise, as the river was no obstacles at all.

Faith and Reason approached a big, high mountain. In great despair, Reason said, “This mountain is too great, we can’t climb this. There is no way we can climb such a great land mass. Let us sit down hear and evaluate this situation.”

Faith looks at Reason, and sees his value, so in order not to leave Reason behind, Faith is obliged to carry Reason over the mountain.

There is a lesson we must learn: Oh! what luggage reason can be to faith! We need balance to understand: Faith launches, where Reason is idle.

Sarah was a woman of God. She had seen, time and time again, how God had miraculously provided, saved, and promoted her husband Abraham. But the lack of one thing continued to eat at her: a child. Sarah refused to wait any longer and decided to take matters into her own hands. Her idea was a perfectly legal solution to the problem. She would give Hagar, her servant, to Abraham, and the child Hagar bore would belong to Sarah.

Having a surrogate mother was the logical answer to Sarah’s infertility. But God had other plans. God’s plans are not always logical, but they are the best option.

GodSprings – January 21,2016

The Bigger Picture

This is the account of Terah’s family line. Terah became the father of Abram, Nahor and Haran. And Haran became the father of Lot…But when they came to Harran, they settled there. Terah lived 205 years, and he died in Harran. Genesis 11:27-32 (NIV)

I recently saw an ad on Facebook about Channel 10 News. There was a woman sitting in a car. She’s minding her own business, and suddenly this man comes out of the blue, rips the door open, grabs her, and pulls her out of the car roughly. It looks like he’s attacking her, and we look on in horror. Then the camera pulls back, and we see that the car is actually on fire, but the woman didn’t know it. The man wasn’t assaulting the woman; he was rescuing her. The ad finishes by saying, “You need the bigger picture. Channel 10 News gives you the bigger picture.” The ad makes a good point. We need to have the bigger picture.

Terah was the father of Abram, Nahor and Haran. Chapter 11 recounts hundreds of years of family lines down to when, Abraham, was finally born. This illuminates a key point in Abraham’s life and in the lives of all Christians. Over and over again, the Bible begins a person’s story by telling where they came from, who their parents were and what land they originally inhabited. This is all to show that our story begins long before we do.

Before Abraham ever lay Isaac on the altar, before he married Sarah or traveled to Egypt or even heard the voice of God, God was planning his story. God knew He would bless the nations through this one man. He knew Abraham would be a very important marker in the long, beautiful story of human salvation. But God also knew that, as important as Abraham’s story was, he was still only a part of something much larger.

The story of Abraham tells us one truth: there was a before Abraham and an after Abraham, and the same is true for us. Countless stories have taken place to allow us to live at this precise moment in time. Countless more will be written after we are gone.

Our story is part of something infinitely larger. We are God’s children, God’s chosen. To God, we are every ounce as important as Abraham, and he will take care of us with the same amount of care and love and power as He did for Abraham.

GodSprings – January 20, 2016

Fear or Faith?

Moses answered, “What if they do not believe me or listen to me and say, ‘The Lord did not appear to you’?”Exodus 4:1 (NIV)

There is a story that the midshipmen at the US Naval Academy are told as an inspirational legend. The story, entitled “A Message to Garcia,” goes back to the Spanish-American War in the late 1890s.

When the war broke out between Spain and the US, it was very necessary to communicate quickly with the leader of the Cuban insurgents. A certain general named Garcia was somewhere in the mountains of Cuba … no one knew where. No mail nor telegraph message could reach him. President William McKinley, however, needed to secure Garcia’s cooperation, and quickly. But how would he get a message to Garcia?

Someone told the President that there was a man named Rowan who could find Garcia and deliver the message if anyone could. They sent for Rowan, and standing before the President of the United States a letter was placed in his hand as he was given the charge to deliver the message to Garcia.

The story goes that Rowan took the letter, sealed it up in an oil-skin pouch, strapped it over his heart, and just four days later he landed by night on a beach in Cuba. He instantly disappeared into the jungle, and three weeks later he came out on the other side of the island, having traversed the hostile countryside on foot, delivering the message to General Garcia.

Now the legend is passed on to the midshipmen at the Naval Academy because it carries a powerful example. President McKinley gave Rowan a message to be delivered to Garcia. Rowan took the letter and did not ask, “Where do I start? Where do I find him? How will I get there and back? Will there be pay for this?” He simply accepted the assignment and the message. He acted promptly without question, concentrated his energies, and accomplished his assignment to “Carry a message to Garcia!”

We all have been afraid of what people might think of us at some time or other. Maybe you felt this way during that awkward, overly self-conscious period in the first year of college or high school, where popularity and acceptance from peers meant everything. We all have been concerned at one time or another about what others may think about us.

Moses was certainly afraid of how he would be perceived by his fellow comrades, and he wondered if they would even receive him and God’s message of deliverance. God had a Promised Land flowing with milk and honey awaiting Moses and the children of Israel, but Moses seemed content to stay in the desert.

We can do the same. We can limit the fullness of God’s blessing in our lives when we allow ourselves to be swayed by fear. By faith, we can overcome any fear. Let us not miss out on the abundant life that God has planned for us by allowing fear to keep us from serving and following God’s plan for our life.

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