Editorial Some thoughts for the new academic year
Johnson K Samuel
In one of the devotional messages that I was reading recently, the writer was discussing about the temptations that Satan brought to confront Jesus Christ while He was fasting and praying in the wilderness. The circumstances in which Jesus was tempted are well worth a comparison with the circumstances in which Adam was tempted by Satan.
The devil tempted Jesus when He was in the "wilderness". It was a barren desert and a wasteland of rock and sand. But Adam was in the most beautiful and fruitful garden man had ever known. Jesus in the wilderness had nothing to eat whereas Adam lacked nothing. Jesus triumphed over the temptations, but Adam failed. Look at all the miseries that Adam brought about into the lives of mankind! Apostle Paul tells us: "By one man's disobedience many were made sinners" (Rom. 5:19). Christ the Second Adam obeyed God perfectly and we all can be made righteous before God. Adam failed even in favorable conditions, whereas Jesus overcame temptations in adverse situations.
Jesus had no one with Him for fellowship and support. The wild animals were His only companions. He had to fight the temptations all alone. But Adam and Eve had each other for companionship and fellowship. They had each other's support to stand against the enemy. But they failed. Jesus overcame.
This time is the beginning of a new academic year. Many of our young people will be leaving schools and joining colleges and professional courses. Many graduates may be taking up jobs in different fields and getting posted in various locations. Let us congratulate them for their academic achievements and wish them great success in their lives.
Many of them may be going away from the comfort of their homes and also the boundaries set by their parents. They may also be losing the fellowship of the church family. But whatever may be the new circumstances, whether in plenty or poverty, or where there are no other believers for fellowship, our young people have to be extra-careful and more alert. We must be overcomers like our Lord Jesus. Joseph was alone while tempted. There was no fellowship in the pit or palace or prison. Joseph came out triumphant in all situations of poverty and prosperity. What one learns in the fellowship of God's children should be put into practice while alone. God wants us to be victorious whether we are in a green garden or a dry desert, whether in plenty or poverty. We are not to go "under" the circumstances but live "above" them.
Apostle Paul shouts, "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?" (Rom. 8:35-39)
This is a summary of Rev. Dr. John Cherian's TV sermon, where he talks about some of the notable songs recorded in the Bible
Holy Bible specializes in songs. At the heart of the Bible is a book of songs: it is called 'Psalms'. To our Lord Jesus songs were quite important. Bach and Handel were renowned musicians of the church, who employed singing to inspire masses with God's word put to music. Let me list for you in this message a number of choice songs of the Bible.
The songs of Moses (Exo. 15, Psa. 90, Deut. 32)
God does not have a Plan B.
Here in Exo. 15, the Red Sea scene, we have the more important of the three songs of Moses. We read: "Then sang Moses and the children of Israel this song unto the Lord .... He has thrown the horse and riders into the sea". Through Moses, God had parted the waters of the sea, bringing about a mighty miracle. God's purpose in choosing Israel as a redeemed community was being unfolded here, which Satan tried to attack. But God made it clear that day that His purpose was not going to be watered down. His original plan was being carried out. He did not need to have a Plan B. Therefore Moses and the Children of Israel took up this note of victory through the song of Moses. It was the same theme that resounded in his song in Psalm 90, composed at the time of Aaron's death: "O Lord, Thou hast been our dwelling place in all generations .... O satisfy us early with Thy mercy". In Deut. 32, toward the end of his life, Moses calls up the elders of Israel and urges them to renew their covenant with God, and includes a song as part of the address saying, "Give ear O ye heavens ... .1 will publish the name of the Lord .... He is the Rock, His work is perfect". Once again it reflects the irrevocable nature of God's covenant with His people. All plans and experiments without God are bound to fail. The Bolshevik experiment introduced by the Soviets is an example. The experiment with Communism beginning from 1917 brought Russia to a state worse than at the beginning, according to World Christian Encyclopedia. There was a huge, frightening deficit in the government's balance sheet. The government was unable to provide housing to all citizens; the amount of living space was only about 60 square feet per person. Kitchen and lavatory facilities were shared frequently by numerous families. The experiments of the Tower of Babel, Nebuchadnezzar's "mighty Babylon" and Hitler's Nazi empire - all these met the same doom.
The song of Deborah (Judges 5)
Get more control by controlling less.
In another victory song, Deborah the lady judge of Israel offers thanksgiving to God for the shameful defeat of Sisera, the Canaanite king. And yet, Deborah was an unassuming leader with the least of pomp and fanfare. She judged her subjects from under a palm tree (Judg. 4:5). She got more control by controlling less. Her leadership was a far cry from that of Rehoboam who tried unsuccessfully to impose on his subjects the motto: "My little finger shall be thicker than my father's lions" (1 Kings 12:10).
Church leaders would do better in their ministry today if they would learn to sing with their flocks and exercise the gifts of the Spirit more and more. Then they would see the demonstration of the supernatural as Deborah did in her battle against Israel's ferocious enemy.
Songs of King David (2 Sam. 6:14; 22:2-4)
A man is rich according to what he IS, not what he HAS.
David's rise from the caves of Adullam to the riches of the Jerusalem throne, caused him to sing songs of spiritual exultation. Even during those days of temporal lack and humiliation, David was rich in God's estimate, because here we see David singing God's praises with leaping and dancing with all his might before the Ark of the Covenant. He was not holding back on account of a huge celebration crowd. So, after David won great victories over a series of battles, and God established his throne in Israel firmly, he sings: "The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer. .. In Him will I trust .... By Thee I have leaped over a wall" (2 Sam. 22:2,30).
$1.5 Billion gift to Salvation Army.
David expressed his gratitude also in more tangible forms. He channeled his wealth into the construction of a magnificent temple. Although Solomon was the final architect of the temple project, much of the preparatory work and the storing of silver, gold and precious stones were undertaken by David. To this day, God's people have continued to have a reputation for being the best givers in the world. For instance, a donor by the name Joan Kroc of San Diego recently left for the Salvation Army an unusually large bequest worth $1.5 billion; it is believed to be one of the most outstanding charitable gifts ever made in the nonprofit world! Mrs. Kroc was the wife of Ray Kroc, the founder of McDonalds restaurant chain. Atheists or communists cannot produce from among their ranks a substitute for a St. Francis of Assissi. Let me repeat. A St. Francis who gave away all his wealth to serve the poor, or a Mother Teresa who gave up all her security to serve the poorest of the poor m me city of Calcutta cannot be duplicated among the thousands of the elites communism.
Songs of the Psalter (The Book of Psalms)
The Psalms appear in the form of five books: (1) Psa. 1-41, (2) Psa. 42-72, (3) 73-89, (4) Psa. 90-106; (5) Psa. 107-150. Psalms urge us to bring praises to the Lord Almighty. The last song, Psalm 150 is a grand finale of praise with a note of exuberance. It calls for a volume of praise that is enriched with trumpets, psaltery, harp, timbrel and loud cymbals. "Let everything that hath breath praise the Lord".
Much of revival consists of singing. You would note that during periods of spiritual awakenings down through church history, singing of God's praises has been the predominant mode of worship. Even the ministry of the Word takes second
place in some revivals. About Welsh revival in particular, it is recorded that three-fourths of each service was music in content. That great awakening was brought about by the prayers and spiritual preparation of Evan Roberts. Like David, the chief psalmist, his heart was full of exuberance. And he spent much time with God in praise and worship. For more than ten years he had looked ahead to a mighty revival. He was able to sit up all night to talk or read about an outpouring of the Holy Spirit. His biographer says that in the spring of 1904 Roberts entered into an experience of such close communion with God that it seemed to remove him out of the body into the third heaven.
Song on the way to Gethsemane (Mark 14:26)
The Garden of Gethsemane restores to us everything we lost in the Garden of Eden.
On the historic night of the Passover, after the sacred group under Jesus' leadership celebrated the Lord's Supper, we are told; "When they had sung a hymn, they went out into the Mount of Olives"
Praise is more powerful than prayer. In prayer, many times we reach out to God in error due to our selfish motivations. But in praise, all we do is accept and appropriate God's blessings, knowing that Christ has already won the battle for us at Gethsemane. All that man lost in the Garden of Eden has been restored to us in the Garden of Gethsemane. It was there that He drank the cup of humanity's sin to the dregs.
Do the work of an Evangelist: Part 4 Prepare for the last days
Pastor Mathew Philip, Philadelphia, USA
Pastor Mathew Philip continues with the exhortations of Apostle Paul to Timothy about how he has to do the work of an evangelist. The exhortation is for us too!
Apostle Paul writes to evangelist Timothy to do the work of an evangelist (2 Tim. 4:5). The first work of an evangelist is to be faithful to his call (2 Tim. 1:1-2:13). The second is to be diligent in his work (2:14-26). As a third work of an evangelist, Paul cautions Timothy to be prepared for the last days (2 Tim. 3:1-9). How to prepare for the last days?
1. By being aware of wicked people in the last days (vv.1-5):
An evangelist must always be sensitive to the unpleasant incidents that will happen in the last days. Apostle Paul warns Timothy so that such terrible things and wicked people should not take him by surprise. Paul instructs Timothy to be aware of wickedness in the last days. Here the 'last days,' refers to the time beginning with Christ's first coming (Acts 2:17; 1 Tim. 4:1; Hebrews 1:1; 1 Peter 1:20; 1 John 2:18). It is not necessarily the future days just prior to Christ's return. Last days are marked by terrible times. It is a time that is not favorable to the preaching of the Gospel. Why is it not favorable to the Gospel? It is because of the kind of people who rise in the last days. Paul clearly tells the nature of people in the last days. He talks about eighteen traits of such people: Lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, and lovers of pleasure. What should be our response to such people? Have nothing to do with them. Let them do what they want to do, but you keep on doing the work of an evangelist.
2. By being aware of false teachers (vv. 6-7):
Paul talks two things about false teachers (a) They deceive people: They are always learning, but never able to acknowledge the truth. They learn to twist the truth and thereby lead people to wrong practices. They teach a little bit of truth along with their false teaching and thereby deceive many. Apostle Paul called these false teachers "Savage Wolves" who will not spare the flock (Acts 20:29). Apostle John instructs us to test the every spirit (1 John 4:1). He further enunciates that every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God (1 John 4:2-3). (b) They entice people for immorality: Here in our text what Paul says is that these false teachers will not spare the unstable women who are guilt ridden because of their sins. Such women are persuaded by all kinds of evil desires and victims of various false teachers. In many societies today, sexual immorality is a serious problem that can threaten the effectiveness and purity of the church. We have to deal seriously with sin. The answer to this problem was teaching in the church and a firm faith in Christ. We must give importance to the teaching of God's Word. There must also be a constant focus on the person and work of Christ.
3. By being aware of rebellious people (vv. 8-9):
Rebellion is an open or willful defiance or resistance to an authority. Such people not only rebel against authorities, but also lead others into rebellion. Rebellion is something that God cannot tolerate. We are aware of the rebellion of Korah (Numbers 16:1ff) and that of Miriam with Aaron against Moses (Numbers 12:1ff). What are the characteristics of rebellious people? Paul tells four things about such people. (a) They oppose the truth; (b) They have depraved mind; (c) They eventually reject faith; and (d) They will not ultimately triumph. Though such people have great influence and large following, they will not succeed at the end because God knows their inner disposition. Their folly will be clear to everyone and truth will be revealed. As an evangelist, you should not be disheartened by seeing the way the wicked and rebellious people act in the last days against God's people and His work. We must be prepared to do the work of an evangelist in spite of great opposition in the last days.
‘The Parable of the Good Samaritan’ unveiled: A true story of humankind - Part 2
Pastor Shibu Cherian, Atlanta
Pastor Shibu Cherian, Atlanta, USA, expands one of the unique parables narrated by Lord Jesus Christ as it conveys high moral principles in the salvation that has been provided to the fallen humankind. In Part - 1 of the article, the 'conscious and deliberate' decision of a man to travel down from Jerusalem to Jericho was described. The arrival of the good samaritan and the concluding principles can be read in this Part - 2.
A Levite passes by
As the parable continues, a Levite also reaches the same spot in the Jerusalem-Jericho roadside a little later. As the priest did earlier, this Levite came and looked, and passed by on the other side (Luke 10:32). The Levites are people belonging to the tribe of Levi, who assisted the priests in the temple in enforcing the law through WORKS like ceremonies, washings and feasts. On a spiritual analogy, the Levite represents the works that are done by humankind to please God. However, God describes His revulsion of these works in Isa. 1:11-14: "...bring no more futile sacrifices; incense is an abomination to Me. The New Moons, the Sabbaths, and the calling of assemblies- I cannot endure iniquity and the sacred meeting..." Just like Torah and keeping of the commandments could not help humankind, the works of humankind could not help either.
A Samaritan arrives
It was soon after that a certain Samaritan came to where the wounded man was lying. The Samaritans originate from Samaria, and were a mixed breed of descendents born out of Jews and the people from Samaria. They were a despised set of people with whom the Jews had no dealings with (John 4:9b). On a spiritual analogy, the Samaritan represents our Lord Jesus Christ, who came down to His own, but His own did not know or receive Him (John 1:10-11). He was despised and rejected by men (Isa. 53:3a) as the Samaritans were rejected by the Jews. When this Samaritan saw the wounded man, instead of passing by like the Priest and Levite earlier, the narrative says that he had compassion on the wounded man. This is similar to the compassion felt by God in Eze. 16:6-7, and did what the Psalmist (King David) describes in Psalms 40:2. The narrative states explicitly that the Samaritan went to the wounded man (Luke 10:34a), just like Jesus Christ left his heavenly abode and came down to earth in order to rescue humankind from the clutches of sin and death (Phil. 2:6-8). This Good Samaritan, an outcast from the Jewish society, and considered unclean, came near by the side of the wounded man to help.
The passage further says that the Samaritan bandaged the wounds of the wounded man by pouring in oil and wine. While the oil was meant to soothe and ease the pain (acting like a pain killer), the wine was meant to purify and cleans the wound (acting like an antiseptic). On a spiritual analogy, both oil and wine can be linked to our Lord Jesus Christ. The oil that the Samaritan carried can be inferred as olive oil (prevalent during those times in the land of Israel) that was extracted by crushing the olive fruit. In the similar vein, Jesus was wounded for our transgressions, bruised for our iniquities (Isa. 53:5), and it pleased the Lord to bruise Him (Isa. 53:10a). The wine used on the wounds signifies the blood of Jesus Christ that was shed on the cross of Calvary to cleanse us from all our sins (1 John 1: 9). Gal. 3:13 says that Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, "Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree").
While analyzing verses 34-35 of Luke 10, all the aspects of the Good Samaritan's care for the dying man highlight the merciful, tender and bountiful care of Jesus Christ towards the sinful humankind through the following actions of His saving grace: (1) He bound up His wounds - to heal him of all the past hurts inflicted by Satan; (2) He poured oil and wine on his wounds - giving him the anointing (Psalms 92:10) and divine life (Matt. 9:17); (3) He placed the wounded man on his own donkey that signifies his lowly life (Zech. 9:9); (4) He brought this wounded man to an inn, which signifies the church as well as the God's protective hands (John 10:28-30; Psalms 27:1-2); (5) The inn is under the care of the inn-keeper, which may refer to the Holy Spirit (John 16:7, 13); (6) The Samaritan hands out two denarii to the inn-keeper, which may signify the first fruit of resurrection; and lastly, (7) the Samaritan promised that he would repay at his return whatever more was spent, declaring that whatever the church spends in this age (on one who is saved by the Lord) will be repaid at the His coming back. Our Lord Jesus has promised that He will come back again soon (John 14:1-3; Rev. 22:20a), and this has been even confirmed by the angels in Acts 1:11. So, in these brief two verses (Luke 10:34, 35) the entire process of salvation, the earthly life saved believer, and the second coming of the Lord are portrayed as part of the spiritual analogy.
The parable concludes with a question from Jesus back to the lawyer about who the neighbor was for the wounded man who fell among the thieves. The lawyer correctly infers that it was the Good Samaritan who showed mercy to the wounded man, and Jesus finishes his lesson with the words: "Go and do likewise" (Luke 10:37b). The lesson learned here is that we should love our neighbor as ourselves, and show mercy and compassion to others in times of their need even if they are unable to pay back in return (Prov. 3:27; Matt. 5:44; James 1:27a)
Through the parable, Jesus attempted to unveil the following truths: (1) The entire human race has been condemned to death under the law, and unable to take care of the fallen nature; (2) It is only the Lord Jesus who can provide complete salvation for humankind (John 14:6; Acts 4:12). As believers left on this earth and waiting for the return of our Lord Jesus Christ (who may come back any time), there are five things for us to do in our daily lives:
1. Focus on the kingdom of God through prayer, reading His word and worship,
2. Face life's problems with other believers through fellowship,
3. Fortify our Christian faith and growth through discipleship,
4. Find and use our talents for the glory of God through service and ministry, and
5. Fulfill our life's mission through compassionate evangelism and witnessing (Matt. 9:36-38).
Above all, we need to watch - watch and pray that we do not fall into temptation (Matt. 26:41a), watch and stand fast in the faith (1 Cor. 16:13), and finally, watch out for the soon return of our Lord Jesus Christ (Matt. 24:42) who is coming very soon back to earth.
Meditation: Witnessing: An urge from within
Reading passage: John 1:35-51
"The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, "We have found the Messiah" (that is, the Christ). And he brought him to Jesus..." (John 1:41-42).
John the Baptist introduced Jesus as the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! Hearing this testimony, two of John's disciples went to Jesus and even stayed with him for a day. They were convinced Jesus was the Messiah.
On their return, Andrew, one of the disciples, found his brother Simon. (Andrew was, in fact, seeking Simon. NIV renders it correct... the first thing Andrew did was to find...) Andrew was so excited. He could not suppress the joy of finding the treasure - Jesus the Messiah! (Matt. 13:44) He started "evangelizing!" He witnessed, and even brought his brother to Jesus and that ended up in Simon's conversion!
Andrew did not wait for a theological degree so he could start witnessing. He did not wait for a "mega crusade" stage or even charismatic gifts so that his witnessing would be effective. He was simply pouring his heart out before his brother!
Witnessing is just telling others what you have found... in Jesus. When you do it from your heart, that's it! All who have found Jesus and stayed with him at least for a day cannot keep themselves from witnessing.
Andrew started witnessing the next morning he found Jesus. He did not wait for a "big opportunity." He started with his own brother. Start with small. To be faithful in small things is a big thing. To him, his brother was important. The truth that I found, my brother should find also... that was his mind. Witnessing should be an urge from within.
May be Andrew was not a big preacher. (Preaching, at times, is a "head" business where words are important. Witnessing, on the other hand, is a heart business and words are not that important). But it is Andrew who brought the little boy with five loaves of bread and two fish to Jesus (John 6:8-9). Like wise, the first convert of Andrew - Simon Peter, his brother - became a mighty preacher who won 3,000 souls in his first sermon. I am sure Andrew would also receive a portion of the reward for that big catch on the day of Pentecost!
Prayer: Lord, help me to be your witness, everywhere, every time. Amen!
Youth Forum: PYPA: Summer mission trip - 2010
Reported by: Binoy Punnoose & Robin John
Almighty God gave an opportunity to Maharashtra State PYPA to go on a Mission Trip on May 21-22, 2010 to Navapur and Nandurbar, the Mission Districts of IPC Maharashtra State. The Mission trip took us to people of a different culture and language living in the borders of Maharashtra and Gujarat. Our purpose was to empower the youth, introduce and start PYPA in all the IPC local churches in
Navapur and Nandurbar.
Some of the participants including PYPA President Pr. Joseph George, Dr. Saji Mathew, Bros. Gladson Varghese, Benny Varghese, Robin John, Jaison Varghese, Mathews John, Justin Kuncheria and Jeffin James gathered at Ulhasnagar and began the 8-hour journey to Navapur at 3 a.m. Later, Pastor Abraham (from Mahanaidan Church, Ulhasnagar) joined and remained with us till the end of the programme with his Tempo Traveller.
Another team comprising PYPA Secretary Bro. Binoy Punnoose, Bros. Bobby Thomas and Soji George, the Music Team, 'Gospel Voice' and PYPA Vice President Pr. Santhosh V Rajan, joined us at Navapur.
We visited different churches and demonstrated the various programmes like Solo Song, Group Song, Bible Quiz, Bible Reference and Elocution to help create a PYPA structure in these adivasi villages, so that the upcoming youth could dedicate their precious time for our Savior Jesus Christ rather than wasting it away in unrighteous paths. 'Gospel Voice' provided music in all the meetings with a good collection of songs.
To coordinate further activities in the area, a district PYPA committee was formed in a General Body meeting presided by Pr. Babuji Samuel. Office bearers for this year are: Pr. Timothy Gavit (President), Bros. Ajith K Gavit (Vice-President), Paulose Gavit (Secretary) and Suresh (Treasurer). It was decided that one member each from all the churches should be committee members.
After a good night's rest in village atmosphere and open fields, we moved on to Wakdi in the next morning. We got an opportunity to participate in the inauguration of a church building by Pr. Babuji Samuel. We felt the powerful presence of God in the meeting when we saw the intensity with which the adivasi church members were praying. It was really a moment to treasure. We could get a first hand experience of how the Lord's work was spreading in these areas.
We reached Nagare in Nandurbar In the afternoon. Pr. Joseph George gave an inspiring sermon targeting the youth and explained the responsibilities associated with the roles provided to them.
That was the conclusion of our Mission Trip. It was an amazing experience to witness the spread of the gospel in this remote place and to share in this work. We have loads of memories from this journey like the troubled collector at the toll gate, the thatched roofs in those villages, driving on dirt roads, visiting spirit homes, a Pastor who raised a person from the dead, etc. We also express our hearty gratitude to Pr. Samuel John, Pr. Latif Gavit, Pr. Pasrha Bhai Gavit and churches for the local arrangements and hospitality..
From the pulpit: A person who mends broken hearts!
Rev. Dr. Baby Varghese
"Lord is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit"
There was a famous cathedral in an ancient place in Europe. It became famous because of the beautiful artwork that was done on its windows. This was set as an example for good artwork. Lots of people came to see this from far places. Since it was a good example of beautiful art renowned around the world, many people came to see the beautiful monument. One day the city was struck by a great storm. The power of that storm did not even miss the windows. A beautiful window that was glorified by the people was crushed into pieces by the storm. All the people were sad to hear about the pathetic condition of this window than any other thing. This was the subject of all the people's conversations. They did not throw away the glass pieces. They kept it within a sack.
After a long time, a stranger came and visited the Cathedral. His goal was to see the beautiful artwork of its windows. When he had heard the tragic news, he asked about the glass pieces. They showed him the sack that was kept in the corner of the church. He asked if they would give the pieces to him. They agreed and he left with the glass pieces. Weeks had passed and one day, the keeper of the Cathedral received a letter. The letter was from a famous artist. The letter was an invitation for them to see modern artwork done on glass. The custodian of that church went to see that work. The artist removed the covering from the canvas. Wonderful!! There was a beautiful window glass more beautiful than its former. They were all amazed to see it. The artist said, "This new creation was made on the same pieces of glass which I took from the Cathedral."
When they left, they took this new glass window along with them and placed it in its previous spot. Once again, many tourists came and marveled at this work. It became even more famous than the previous window.
Do you think that your future hopes are destroyed? Remember one thing...Jesus is able to rebuild your life to a new creation.
Ancient fortifications recently excavated in Jerusalem, dating back 3,000 years to the time of King Solomon support the biblical narrative about the era, says an Israeli archeologist, Mazar, from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. She was speaking to reporters at the site. If the age of the wall is correct, the finding would be an indication that Jerusalem had a strong central government that had the resources and manpower needed to build massive fortifications in the 10th century B.C. It would match the Bible's account that the kings David and Solomon ruled from Jerusalem around that time. It means that at that time in Jerusalem there was a regime capable of carrying out such construction. The fortifications, including a huge gatehouse and a 70-meter long section of an ancient wall, are located just outside the present day walls of Jerusalem's Old City, next to the holy compound known to Jews as the Temple Mount. According to the Old Testament, it was Solomon who built the first Jewish Temple on the site. That temple was destroyed by Babylonians, rebuilt, renovated by King Herod 2,000 years ago and then destroyed again by Romans in 70 A.D. The compound now houses two important Islamic buildings, the golden-capped Dome of the Rock and the Al-Aqsa mosque.
Whatever critics may say, the historical truths in biblical accounts cannot be disputed. Archaeologists will eventually discover the proofs, if at all any one is looking for them.
Scientists' vain hope: Finding extraterrestrial life
Prof. Martin Rees, President of the Royal Society (academy of science), said in a conference that science had made enormous progress in the search for planets grouped around other distant stars. He said: "Most of the stars, like the sun, are likely to have planetary systems around them and we have every reason to suspect that many of them have planets that are rather like our earth". The launching of NASA's Kepler spacecraft, a space observatory designed to find earth-like planets in the cosmos is significant in this regard. Rees, who is professor of cosmology and astrophysics at Cambridge University and holds the honorary title of Astronomer Royal, also believes mankind is on the cusp of unlocking one of life's greatest mysteries. He adds: "I am certainly pretty confident biologists will understand the origin of life on earth this century. I suspect in 20 years we will have much clearer ideas of how life began. And that is going to be very important to answering how likely it is to have started elsewhere and where to look. If we understood how life began on earth, that would give us a clue to how likely it was to originate elsewhere and what the optimum environments were". Many top minds believe extraterrestrial life may be totally beyond our sensory abilities and comprehension.
It is obvious that scientists still are groping around like blind men in the dark, in spite of the present phenomenal advancement in space technology. I believe, they will continue to do so as long as they keep the Creator out of their thinking process!
Nepal churches are growing
According to reports in 'Worthy News', churches in Nepal are on the growth curve despite the political turmoil prevailing there. Sandy Anderson, who spent the last 25 years working with Christians in Nepal, says: "Churches are growing by leaps and bounds everywhere despite the difficult situation. The church presence has grown from tiny numbers in the 1950s for more than 100,000 active members today".
The gospel of Jesus has no boundaries. It penetrates all kinds of iron curtains and transforms the lives of people. Praise God!
Evangelical march in Brazil
The Associated Press reports that more than 1 million evangelical Christians gathered recently from hundreds of Protestant churches around the country for Brazil's annual "March for Jesus". The event is organized in Sao Paulo and has been taking place for the last 18 years. Brazil is predominantly Roman Catholic. The evangelical presence has grown significantly in the last 15 years. In 1995, evangelicals accounted for just nine percent of the population, while Catholics made up 84 percent. Five years later, evangelicals had climbed to 15 percent, while Catholic affiliation dropped nine percent.
When marvellous light of the gospel shines, souls will be delivered from darkness. We see a great revival happening in different parts of the world.
Religious tolerance at its lowest in Pakistan
European Union has passed a resolution on religious freedom in Pakistan just as the country banned the popular YouTube and Facebook for their "sacrilegious content against traditional Islam". The resolution calls for the review and amendment of the controversial blasphemy laws, which are often used to justify censorship, criminalization, persecution of minorities.
Let us hope that freedom of expression becomes an integral part of the rule of law in all nations of the world.
Scientist demoted for his belief
David Coppedge, a technical specialist who worked as a team leader in NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, was demoted and given a "written warning" for allegedly pushing his beliefs on other colleagues. Some one reported to the management that he discussed "intelligent design" (the biblical concept of a Creator and the plan of His creation) in his laboratory, although none of his co-workers complained to him about the conversation! He is filing a complaint against the agency for "the censorship against his views, politics and religion and keeping him each working day under a cloud of suspicion and threat of termination".
How terrible is that even in a free country like US, where there is freedom of thought and expression, Satan is generating anger and hatred in the minds of people against anything relating to the Sovereign Lord! No wonder, Jesus Christ told His disciples: "When the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?" (Luke 18:8).
Afghanistan: Suspension for two Christian aid groups
Two Christian aid groups have been ordered to suspend their activities in Afghanistan until they are cleared of complaints of sharing Christian messages with the local people. The Afghan government office that oversees nongovernment organizations, (NGO) is investigating and assessing what is the impact of closing these NGOs. Both organizations have denied the charges.
We see similar trends in many countries. They want aid to satisfy their hunger, but they do not recognize the fact that aid is coming out of Christian love.
Personalities encountered by Jesus - 20: Pontius Pilate
Once more Pilate came out and said to the Jews, "Look, I am bringing him out to you to let you know that I find no basis for a charge against him" (John 19:4)
Pontius Pilate, who became procurator of Judea under Tiberius Caesar in AD 26, was a product of Roman society during the early Empire. He was military in bearing, tactless, skeptical, arbitrary. Almost from the first day of his arrival in Judea, there existed an implacable hatred between him and the people he ruled. He regarded the Jews with haughty contempt. From his point of view, they were a superstitious, refractory rabble, wrangling among themselves over religious usages for which he felt only a profound scorn.
Twice before the trial of Jesus, he had been forced to yield to the will of the populace, or risk open rebellion that might cost him his position. The first time occurred when he brought army standards bearing the likeness of the Roman emperor into Jerusalem, thus profaning the holy city. On another occasion, the Jews forced him to remove a set of Roman tablets from Herod's palace, which he occupied in Jerusalem. The people appealed that time directly to Tiberius, who ordered them taken back to Caesarea.
Pilate knew that Jesus was innocent. He had secret spies among the people who had reported almost daily on the Nazarene's activities. Moreover, there is good reason to believe that Pilate's wife, Claudia Procula, had actually met Jesus, and was one of His secret followers. During the trial, she sent Pilate a message, warning him to "have nothing to do with that just man".
But, "when Pilate saw that he could prevail nothing, but that rather a tumult was made, he took water and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, I am innocent of the blood of this man ..."
In the most critical decision of his career, the "fearless" Roman - had again bowed to the shouting, factious, bloodthirsty mob.
Tradition says he never forgot this tragic hour. A few years afterward, in exile, "wearied with misfortunes", he killed himself.
Children's corner: The boy with the five loaves
Jesus asked His disciples to feed the crowd gathered to hear Him preach. The disciples found a little boy with five loaves and two fish. The boy readily gave them to the disciples. Jesus blessed the five loaves and broke them to pieces which were then distributed to the crowd. Everyone ate and twelve baskets of broken pieces were left over. There were about five thousand men, besides women and children. (Matt. 14:15-21). The little boy had brought the food for himself. But he willingly gave it to Jesus. That simple act of his, turned into a miracle which is remembered throughout the ages. The name of Jesus was glorified through that incident.
Dear children, if we give ourselves and all that we have to the Lord, He will bless us and also make us a blessing to others. But many times we are unable to give ourselves to the Lord. We keep ourselves and all that we have selfishly for ourselves. We want to make a name for ourselves and do what we feel best. But if we are willing to let God take control of our life and do what He feels best with our life, He will use us for His purpose and make us a channel of His blessing to many lives. Thus the name of the Lord will be glorified in us. Just as the little boy gave all that he had to the Lord without selfishly keeping it for himself, let us also give ourselves to the Lord and He will use us to bless many lives and glorify His name. God bless you.