----- "Let your light shine before men" (Matthew 5:16) -----

 
   
 
Internet Edition No. 60 --- December 2007 ---
TABLE OF CONTENTS

Title Author
   Editorial - Vachanathintey prasakthi kurayunnuvo? Mathews Paul
   Stones of witness Rev. Dr. Baby Varghese
   The valley of the shadow of death Jefreys K. Samuel
   10 reasons to believe Christ rose from the dead RBC Ministries
   News & Views Johnson K. Samuel
   Personalities encountered
by Jesus - 5: Simon's Mother-in-law
   "Children's corner" "Rosamma Aunty"
   Malayalam section:Kopam Thomas Nainan
   Malayalam section:Lakshyam maargathey saadhookarikkumo? K.V. Varghese (Saji), Houston
   Malayalam section:Kristhumas Eva.Jose Mathew, Rajasthan
   Malayalam section:Ruth Sabu Karamvelil
   Malayalam section:Suvisesha pravarthanangalku aasthaanam aavasyamo? Varghese Kollakompil



Editorial - Vachanthintey prasakthi kurayunnuvo?
Mathews Paul

[editorial]

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Stones of witness
Rev. Dr. Baby Varghese
The writer points out that the stones from River Jordan served as motivation to new generations of Israel to serve the Holy Lord. Is there anything for us now to show to the new generation?

"Take you hence out of the midst of Jordan, out of the place where the priests' feet stood firm, twelve stones...Pass over before the ark of the Lord your God into the midst of Jordan...that this may be a sign among you, that when your children ask their fathers in time to come, saying, What mean ye by these stones...stones shall be for a memorial unto the children of Israel forever" (Joshua 4:4-7)

The two words "young generation" in the current time makes parents worried. This is the age of immortality and perverted life-styles. If we glance at the various cinema posters around the streets, we can see the declining morality of our culture. When we switch on the TV, we see the scenes of perverted life-styles and worldly pleasures awaiting us. Is our young generation going away from the right way of living? Are they really in a terrible situation? We all are busy aiming to get a high standard of education, high-class status, and a great future for our children. We are worried about their future.

The stories of the previous young generation make parents worried. Fear wraps us like a poisonous snake. These same thoughts were the cause of the sleepless nights of the people of Israel who were going to enter the Promise Land.

Even though they were going to the Promised Land, they feared that the next generation would marry the women in Canaan. Will they break the covenant of God? Will they copy all the restricted habits of them? Will they worship Canaanite idols and make the Holy Lord angry? The God who comprehended the mind of Israel said, "Take you twelve men out of the people, out of every tribe a man, and command ye them, saying, Take you hence out of the midst of Jordan, out of the place where the priests' feet stood firm, twelve stones, and ye shall carry them over with you, and leave them in the lodging place, where ye shall lodge this night. Then Joshua called the twelve men, whom he had prepared of the children of Israel, out of every tribe a man."

Is there any evidence or sign for our new generation concerning the promise of God? Can our new generation find something that motivates them to serve the Holy Lord? Are we just like a shapeless stone that makes everyone to stumble down?

God asked the Israelites to take 12 stones from the middle of Jordan where the priests stood. The people could not cross Jordan until 12 people took the stones and put them into Canaan . Then, the river Jordan stood up in a heap. In the current time, miracles are not being repeated as before. It was only once that the river Jordan divided in front of Israel. The sight of the stones put up in Canaan portrays the vision of the miracle done on Jordan. This vision was transferred from generation to generation.

When trials and temptations flow down on us like the river of Jordan, it is Christ, the rock of our salvation that makes us stand firm. Do we neglect the rock from Jordan when we have the prosperity in all aspects of our life? Those who have neglected the stones have no right to cry for their young generation. However, the people who have the stones never need to be worried about their young generation.

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The valley of the shadow of death
Jefreys K. Samuel
The writer reminds us of our Good Shepherd who is with us always to lead us safely to the Promised Land

"Yea, Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me" (Psalms 23:4)

The darkest valley that any of us will ever go through is the "valley of the shadow of death". The loved ones on the death bed, young and old; people involved in serious accidents; people in the midst of tornadoes, floods and earth quakes; people in the midst of war and tyranny; people who face political and religious persecutions and people who are attacked by cruel animals are some of the examples of experiences of valleys of the shadow of death.

David's use of the word "shadow" has a special meaning. The Hebrew word it came from means, "a phantom, an illusion or a shadow". To David, the valley of the shadow of death is only an illusion. Webster's dictionary gives the following meaning for illusion: a false impression or belief; a perception of a thing which misrepresents it, or gives it qualities not present in reality. Perception of something objectively existing in such a way as to cause misinterpretation of its actual nature.

Children always complain that they are afraid to sleep alone in their room because there is something hiding in their room, but most of the time they are seeing shadows.

David is saying that death itself is like an illusion or shadow. It does not portray the real nature. It seems like an ending, but it is really a beginning. The world views death as a tragedy, but for Christians it is a triumph. That is the reason Apostle Paul wrote: "For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain" (Phil. 1:21). David said, it is the valley of the shadow of death. When you get to the other side, you will see there was never really anything to fear.

Matthew Henry comments: "There are four words which lessen the terror. It is but "shadow" of death, there is no substantial evil in it. The shadow of a serpent will not sting nor the shadow of a sword kill. It is the "valley" of the shadow, deep indeed and dark and dirty, but valleys are fruitful, and so is death itself fruitful of comforts to God's people. It is but a "walk" in the valley, a gentle, pleasant walk. It is a walk "through" it, they shall not be lost in the valley, but get safely to the mountain of spices on the other side of it". (Matthew Henry's commentary in one volume, Zondervan, pages 600-601)

David knew the dangers of the valley. There could be avalanches, rock slides, flood, poisonous plants and ravages of predators. He has handled his sheep and managed them with care under all these conditions. He was fully prepared to safeguard his flock. Nothing took him by surprise. Our Good Shepherd Jesus Christ is with us always to lead us safely to the Promised Land. Christians more often talk about moving onto the higher ground with God. We desire mountain top experiences. But they often forget the fact that one only gains higher ground by climbing up through the valleys.

Philip Keller described his own experience as a sheepherder in East Africa and in the United States in his book, "A shepherd looks at the 23rd Psalm' (Zondervan). Keller tells about leading his sheep through the steep walled canyons and gulches with towering cliffs above them on either side. Those valleys of shadow and darkness were infected with coyotes and wolves to prey on the sheep. Sheep passing through these canyons are safe as long as they are under the watchful eyes of the shepherd. Keller points out two observations about these valleys: (1) They are where there is plenty of tall grass to feed on and (2) they are often the only route to the high country. God's protection and provision are there when you go through the dark valleys. The road to the mountain top experience and divine blessing invariably leads us through "valleys" of suffering and adversity. Those valleys even if dark or dim can be the road to higher ground in our walk with God. The question is how do we react to the valleys? How do we cope with the calamities that we face?

Most of us do not want valleys in our lives. We fear them because of uncertainty. We like to stay on the mountain top. But it is usually impossible to go on the mountain top without the valley. We want God to drop us at the top without us climbing. But those who went through the valley experienced great benefits from God. They had lasting peace. Let us not try to avoid the dark and distressing days. They may well prove to be the way of greatest refreshment to ourselves and those around us.

Let us not forget what Jesus Christ said: "I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep" (John 10:11).

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Ten reasons to believe
Christ rose from the dead

"RBC Ministries"
1. A PUBLIC EXECUTION ASSURED HIS DEATH.

During the Jewish feast of Passover, Jesus was swept away by an angry crowd into a Roman hall of justice. As He stood before Pilate, the governor of Judea, religious leaders accused Jesus of claiming to be the king of-ne Jews. The crowd demanded His death. Jesus was beaten, whipped, and sentenced to a public ,execution. On a hill outside of Jerusalem, He was crucified between .two criminals. Brokenhearted friends and mocking enemies shared in His deathwatch. As the Sabbath !neared, Roman soldiers were sent to finish the execution. To quicken death, they broke the legs of file ~two criminals.~; But when they came to Jesus they did not break His legs, because from experience they knew He was already dead. As a final precaution, however, they thrust a spear into His side. It would take more than resuscitation for Him to ever trouble them again.

2. A HIGH OFFICIAL SECURED THE GRAVESITE.

The next day, religious leaders again met with Pilate. They said Jesus had predicted He would rise in 3 days. To assure that the disciples could not conspire in a resurrection hoax, Pilate ordered the official seal of Rome to be attached to the tomb to put grave robbers on notice. To enforce the order/soldiers stood guard. Any disciple who wanted to tamper with the body would have had to get by them which wouldn't have been easy. The Roman guards had good reason for staying alert - the penalty for falling asleep while on watch was death.

3. IN SPITE OF GUARDS, THE GRAVE WAS FOUND EMPTY.

On the morning after the Sabbath, some of Jesus' followers went to the grave to anoint His body. But when they arrived, they were surprised at what they found. The huge stone that had been rolled into place over the entrance to the tomb had been moved and Jesus' body was gone. As word got out, two disciples rushed to the burial site. The tomb was empty except for Jesus' burial wrappings, which were lying neatly in place. In the meantime, some of the guards had gone into Jerusalem to tell the Jewish officials that they had fainted in the presence of a supernatural being that rolled the stone away. And when they woke up, the tomb was empty. The officials paid the guards a large sum of money to lie arid say that the disciples stole the body while the soldiers slept. They assured the guards that if the report of the missing body got back to the governor they would intercede on their behalf.

4. MANY PEOPLE CLAIMED TO HAVE SEEN HIM ALIVE.

About AD 55, the apostle Paul wrote that the resurrected Christ had been seen by Peter, the 12 apostles, more than 500 people (many of whom were still alive at the time of his writing), James and himself (1 Corinthians 15:5-8). By making such a pubic statement, he gave critics a chance to check gut his claims for themselves. In addition, the New Testament begins its history of the followers of Christ by saying that Jesus presented Himself alive after His suffering by many infallible proofs, being seen by [the apostles] during forty days and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God" (Acts 1:3).

5. HIS APOSTLES WERE DRAMATICALLY CHANGED.

When one of Jesus' inner circle defected and betrayed Him, the other apostles ran for their lives. Even Peter, who earlier had insisted that he was ready to die for his teacher, lost heart and denied that he even knew Jesus. But the apostles went through a dramatic change. Within a few weeks, they were standing face to face with the ones who had crucified their leader. Their spirit, was like iron. They became unstoppable in their determination to sacrifice everything for the one they called Savior and Lord. Even after they were imprisoned, threatened, and forbidden to speak in the name of Jesus, the apostles said to the Jewish leaders, "We ought to obey God rather than men (Acts 5:29). After they were beaten for disobeying the orders of the Jewish council, these once cowardly apostles "did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ" (Acts 5:41).

6. WITNESSES WERE WILLING TO DIE FOR THEIR CLAIMS.

History is full of martyrs. Countless men and women have died for their beliefs. For that reason, it is not that significant to point out that the first disciples were willing to suffer and die for their faith. But it is significant that while many will die for what they believe to be the truth, few if any will die for what they know to be a lie. That psychological fact is important because the disciples of Christ did not die for deeply held beliefs about which they could have been honestly mistaken. They died for their claims to have seen Jesus alive and well after His resurrection. They died for their claim that Jesus Christ had not only died for their sins but that He had risen bodily from the dead to show that He was like no other spiritual leader who had ever lived.

7. JEWISH BELIEVERS CHANGED THEIR DAY OF WORSHIP.

The Sabbath day of rest and worship was basic to the Jewish way of life. Any Jew who did not honor the Sabbath was guilty of breaking the law of Moses. Yet Jewish followers of Christ began worshiping with Gentile believers on a new day. The .first day of the week, the day on which they believed Christ had risen from the dead, replaced the Sabbath. For a Jew, it reflected a major change of life. The new day, along with the Christian conversion rite of baptism, declared that those who believed Christ had risen from the dead were ready for more than a renewal of Judaism. They believed that the death and resurrection of Christ had cleared the way for a new relationship with God. The new way was based not on the law, but on the sin-bearing, life-giving help of a resurrected Savior.

8. ALTHOUGH IT WAS UNEXPECTED, IT WAS CLEARLY PREDICTED.

The disciples were caught off guard. They expected their Messiah to restore the kingdom to Israel. Their minds were so fixed on the coming of a messianic political kingdom that they didn't anticipate the events essential to the salvation of their souls. They must have thought Christ was speaking in symbolic language when He kept saying over and over that it was necessary for Him to go to ;Jerusalem to die and be resurrected from the dead. Coming from one who spoke in parables, they missed the obvious until after it was all over. In the process, they also overlooked the prophet Isaiah's prediction of a suffering servant who would bear the sins of Israel being led like a lamb to the slaughter, before God "prolong(ed) His days" (Isaiah 53:10).

9. IT WAS A FITTING CLIMAX TO A MIRACULOUS LIFE.

While Jesus hung on a Roman cross, crowds mocked Him. He helped others, but could He help Himself? Was the miracle suddenly coming to an end? It seemed like such an unexpected ending for someone who began His public life by turning water into wine. During His 3-year ministry, He walked on water; healed the sick; opened blind eyes, deaf ears, and tongue-tied mouths; restored crippled limbs; cast out demons; stilled a violent storm; and raised the dead. He asked questions wise men couldn't answer. He taught profound truths with the simplest of comparisons. And He confronted hypocrites with words that exposed their cover-up. If all this was true, should we be surprised that His enemies didn't have the last word?

10. IT FITS THE EXPERIENCE OF THOSE WHO TRUST HIM.

The apostle Paul wrote, "If the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you" (Romans 8:11). This was the experience of Paul, whose heart was dramatically changed by the resurrected Christ. It is also the experience of people all over the world who have "died." to their old ways so that Christ can live His life through them. This spiritual power is not evident in those who try to add belief in Christ to their old life. It is seen only in those who are willing to "die" to their old life to make room for the rule of Christ. It is apparent only in those who respond to the overwhelming evidence for Christ's resurrection by acknowledging His lordship in their heart.

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News & Views
Johnson K. Samuel
Debate over "microchipping"

Two workers of CityWatcher.com who manufacture surveillance equipment, were fitted with radio frequency identification tags (RFID) to restrict access to vaults that held sensitive data. RFID is a microchip only as long as two grains of rice and as thick as a toothpick which can be implanted inside human bodies. But the news that Americans had been fitted with electronic identifiers to perform their jobs has triggered a debate. Many people would consider the chip as a wonderful invention to increase security at nuclear plants and military bases, help authorities identify wandering Alzheimer's patients, allow consumers to buy their groceries, etc. But others would consider it as an invasion on privacy and the right to go and do as they pleased without being tracked. Chipping might start with Alzheimer's patients or Army Rangers, but would eventually be suggested for convicts, then parolees, then sex offenders, then illegal immigrants - until one day, a majority of people falling into one category or another, would find themselves electronically tagged. Microchips are now fixed to car windshields as toll-paying devices, on payment cards, in tyres, library books, passports and on a host of individual items in department stores. But employees are not appliances or pets: they are people.

These developments are preludes to events which are to happen in the days of the 'Great Tribulation' when Antichrist will force all human beings to carry identification marks. Thank God that His people will not have to pass through those perilous times because they will be raptured and will be with their Lord. Will you be one among the Lord's people who will be taken away at His coming, or will you be left behind to pass through the 'Great tribulation'?

Six nuns excommunicated for heresy!

Six Catholic nuns have been excommunicated for heresy after refusing to give up membership in a Canadian sect whose founder claims to be the reincarnation of the Virgin Mary. The Vatican has declared all members of the sect called Army of Mary excommunicated. Rev. J. Gaston Hebert, the diocese administrator, who excommunicated the nuns said at a news conference that the nuns "became entranced and deluded with a doctrine that is heretical as the sect's members believe that its founder, Marie Paule Giguere, is the reincarnation of the Virgin Mary and that God speaks directly through her". But 82-year old Sister Mary Theresa Dionne, one of the nuns excommunicated said, "We are at peace and we know that for us we are doing the right thing. We pray that the church will open their eyes before it is too late. This is God's work through Mary, the blessed mother, and we're doing what we're asked to do".

So, what is heresy? Is it not heresy to worship Virgin Mary? How does it become heresy only when another Mary comes along? Think about it!

Identified: Jezebel's seal

[Jezebelseal]
An ancient royal seal discovered in Israel in 1964 has recently been identified on close scrutiny of its engravings as belonging to queen Jezebel. Marjo Korpel, an Old Trestament scholar at the University of Utrecht conducted the research on the seal. According to her, the lion-sphinx with female head and female crown clearly points to a queen. The lotus was a symbol of gender definition and refers to a female owner. The winged sun was a well-known symbol of royalty in and outside Israel. Other symbols on the seal, probably adapted from Egypt, such as the double cobra also reinforce the connection to a monarch. The seal confirms that Jezebel was a powerful figure who conducted business independent of her husband.

Jezebel who lived in 9th century B.C. was married to King Ahab of Israel. As a Phoenician, she attempted to sway the people to abandon God and accept her deity Baal. With her own seal, Jezebel was able to exert a powerful influence upon people around her, much like the Egyptian queens.

The identification of her royal seal confirms the description of Jezebel given in the Bible as a very powerful and wicked woman who was really the power behind the throne of Ahab.

Bishops banned from Western Wall in Jerusalem

A group of 20 Austrian Catholic bishops were denied access to the Western Wall in Jerusalem by Rabbi, Shmuel Rabinovitch, because they were wearing crosses. 'The Wall' dates from the time of the Jewish Second Temple (516 BC - 70 AD) and is the holiest site of the Jews. The Rabbi said: "Cross is a symbol that hurts Jewish feelings. They did not have to take them off, just hide them".

The Jews are offended at the sight of the cross. Their conscience must be pricking them. But we know from the Scriptures that a time is soon coming when they will look at the Person whom they pierced and seek His forgiveness.

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Personalities encountered by Jesus - 5:
Simon's Mother-in-law

[SimonInLaw]
"And Simon's wife's mother was taken with a great fever; and they besought him for her" (Luke 4:38)

It was Sabbath and Jesus together with some of the disciples had just left the synagogue. Mark tells us that "when they were come out of the synagogue, they entered into the house of Simon and Andrew". There they found that Simon's mother-in-law was seriously ill with some kind of fever. "And He stood over her and rebuked the fever; and it left her and immediately she arose and ministered unto them".

It is noteworthy that when Jesus healed the sick, the cure was instantaneous and complete. Simon's mother-in-law was so wonderfully restored to health that she arose and ministered unto them.

Like most women of Jesus' time, Simon's mother-in-law exercised an important influence in her home. Not only was she in charge of such domestic matters as supervision of the housekeeping, but also of preparation of meals. So it is not unusual that, as soon as she was well again, her first thought would be of her guests - especially of the important guest who had just cured her infirmity.

And at sunset, as soon as the Sabbath was ended, "all they that had any sick with divers diseases brought them unto him; and he laid his hands on every one of them and healed them". Being hostess at such a reception must surely have taxed even the tremendous new strength imparted to Simon's mother-in-law by the touch of the great Healer.

- selected

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Children's corner
"Rosamma Aunty"
When I was reading last month's "Children Corner" in Suvartha, God inspired me to write my childhood testimony. I was nine years old when I accepted Jesus as my personal Savior and after a week He filled me with the Holy Spirit. From that day, I had a great desire to serve my Lord. When I was in 6th grade, I had to learn a poem titled, "Sunny liked to be a bird". The poem described the beauty of sky, the nature and birds that fly high. This thought influenced Sunny and he wanted to be a bird. After teaching the poem, the teacher asked each student, "What do you like to become in future?". One by one each student stood up and said their desires. When my turn came, I said I want to become a teacher and a missionary, because I knew that I could share the love of Jesus to my students. Everyday in school we used to have prayer sessions during our lunch time. These prayer sessions inspired me so much because I saw many students coming to the saving knowledge of Christ. From that day I started to pray to God to fulfill my ambition. God helped me miraculously and gave me strength and wisdom to reach my goal. God opened ways to teach Sunday School in churches and colleges. This desire was implanted into my life in 1957 and even today God is faithful in opening doors to share the gospel to students and others.

If you have a good desire for the Lord, He will guide you to reach your goal. Children, you must have a goal. You must magnify God's name in your life. Pray and find out God's purpose for your life. If we choose our own ways, we will lose many blessings from God. When other children spend their time for different activities, you should pray and train yourselves according to the Word of God. I remember when I was in our college dormitory, my roommates and others were enjoying, but I used to pray and meditate from the Word of God. You need to use the talent that God has given you for His glory. You share Bible stories, teach songs and pray with your friends, and try to sow the seed of God's love.

"Trust in the Lord with all thine heart, and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct your paths" (Pro. 3: 5, 6)

May God bless and guide you.

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Malayalam section: Kopam
Thomas Nainan
[mal-art1]

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Malayalam section: Lakshyam maargathey saadhookarikkumo?
K.V. Varghese (Saji), Houston
[mal-art2]

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Malayalam section: Kristhumas
Eva. Jose Mathew, Rajasthan
[mal-art3]

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Poem: Ruth
Sabu Karamvelil
[mal-art4]

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Suvisesha pravarthanangalku aasthaanam aavasyamo?
Varghese Kollakompil
[mal-art5]

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