Editorial "Let your gentleness be known to all men"
Johnson K. Samuel
"Let your gentleness be known to all men; the Lord is near" (Phil. 4:5)
Apostle Paul wants a Christian's quality of gentleness to be made known to all others. We live in a publicity oriented world. If our product is to be known by others, advertise, advertise .... in newspapers, television channels, sports stadia, etc. In the same fashion if we want our gentleness to be made known to all, what do we do? Tell our friends about it when we meet each other? Preach from different platforms? Advertise in papers?
Paul uses two expressions in connection with gentleness on two different occasions. In Col. 3:12, he asks us to clothe ourselves with it. When he writes to Timothy, he asks him to pursue it (1Tim. 6:11). The Apostle desires that we make a very conscious effort to display our gentleness. Others should notice it as they notice our dress and also recognise our motive that we pursue after. They must see it in our dealings with them and in our actions and words. In other words, our inner character of gentleness should be visible in our day to day life.
Jesus is our role model. He declared: "Learn from Me, because I am humble and gentle" (Mat 11:29). We see His gentleness when accusations were being hurled at Him with a hostile crowd chanting behind Him. Prophet Isaiah describes the Sovereign Lord thus: "He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young" (Isa. 40:11). Gentleness requires us to come down to the level of our brother and understand his feelings and mental condition as the shepherd understands the need of each individual sheep and takes care of it.
We are very much aware of our rights as a citizen of the country and as a member of the church. And we are ever prepared to fight for our rights and privileges. But consider the example of Isaac. He wanted to dig his father's wells. When someone started disputing his right, he moved away and kept on yielding until there was no more quarrel (Gen. 26:15-22). He was a powerful person with a lot of servants to stand with him and could have fought for his rights. But he kept yielding. What an exemplary behaviour? The temptation is always to crush the opposition with authority. Let Isaac be the example for the pattern of our behaviour, too.
With a spirit of gentleness we learn to be patient with the faults of others. The quality is indispensable specially in those in leadership. See how the Jesus is described: "A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out" (Mat. 12:20). Moses cast away his royal upbringing and his haughty nature and earned the name as "the meekest man on the face of the earth" (Num. 12:3) because of his dealings with the people as a leader for forty years in the wilderness.
Paul is quick to add the reason for being gentle. Our Lord is coming and we are accountable to Him. All of us - both leaders and followers, both shepherds and sheep, both pastors and church members - have to stand before His judgement seat and give account of our thoughts, words and deeds.
"That I may know Him" - Developing a closer relationship with Jesus
Pastor Sunny Philip, New York, USA
Pastor Sunny Philip begins a series of articles, entitled "That I may know Him" based on the passage Philippians 3:8-11 from the epistle of Apostle Paul: Part - 1
One of the passages that I am still struck by, despite reading and mediating on it for years is Philippians 3: 8-11. In these series of articles, I want to break down the passage into snippets and see if we can get hold of the richness of it finally. But, at the outset, my conviction is that I will end the series with a proclamation like that of Paul, "I do not consider to have apprehended it."
There is another reason for venturing to undertake this. When we look around, we have to admit that Christianity is in trouble. Across the board, it has become very liberal and therefore meaningless. Let us face it. If the people inside the church and outside of it the same way, why should any one bother to go to church? More than that, why should people give money to support an institution that has become irrelevant? Hence the exodus from Catholic Church.
But, the real Christianity is more relevant than ever in our broken world. As history has come full circle to the conditions of the first century (abortion, euthanasia, gay marriage etc.), it is time for us to find out why Christianity was a force to reckon with in the first century, whereas Christianity has become a laughing stock in our world.
It is time for us to rediscover what it means to be a Christian. It is time for us to move away from the institutionalized versions of Christianity and embrace Christ again. It is time for pulpit to stop 'teaching as doctrines the commandments of men' (Mark 7:7) and start emphasizing what Jesus emphasized.
Instead of falling in love with our religion or our denomination, we need to fall in love with Jesus again! It is time for Christians to live as Christians again, so that we can bring the relevancy of our faith back to the marketplace.
We notice that the picture about Jesus presented in the media is totally distorted. Jesus does get much coverage on History channel, Discovery channel etc. But the Jesus they present is so different from the Jesus of the Bible.
The current dilemma was started by a group of liberal theologians. Man's attempt to reinvent Jesus was spearheaded by Bible College professors! Although there was trend starting with the Higher Criticism movement of Germany in the 1900s, things came to a head only recently. The group called "Jesus Seminar" played a key role in it. Their seminars, which started in 1985, were intentionally marketed to the media as new revelations on Jesus. It began to get a lot of coverage soon. Their book, "The Five Gospels" which was published in 1990, was a hit. It generated a lot of talking points. Because of its success, a lot of other authors starting writing books like The Gospel of Thomas, The Gospel of Peter, and The Gospel of Mary Magdalene etc. A woman writer name Elaine Pagels is one person who really took advantage of this. Every one knows the impact of 'Da Vinci Code.' Their catch phrase always seems to be that the Bible we have now is not the real Bible and that it was concocted by the religious establishment in the fourth century. (The truth is available for anyone who dares to seek).
The end result of this media attack for the last two decades is that the average person is confused about Jesus. What about the people in the church? Do we know Jesus well?
If we say that we know Jesus, it must be a personal knowledge. There are three different ways to gain this personal knowledge. One is by reading the Bible. The historical account about the life of Jesus is given to us there in detail. More historical accounts can be gleaned from Roman, Jewish and even Talmudic writings of the time. The second way is to listen to the testimonies of the people whose lives were changed by Jesus Christ. So much of that is available in the form of books, audio and video. One of the amazing things on YouTube is the testimonies of direct visitation of Jesus by ex-Muslims. The third is your personal encounter with Jesus. How far does that go? How deeply you desire to know Jesus? Has it become a driving force in your life, as in the life of Paul?
Secondly, our knowledge about Jesus must be an intelligent knowledge. The Bible does not demand anyone to blindly believe it. Jesus never demanded blind faith from anyone. "Come and see" was his invitation always. If you dare to study the life of Jesus with open mind, you will see that everything written about him is true and he is indeed the Son of God. You will fall in love with him and begin to walk with him at a personal level. We know the story of the conversion of C.S. Lewis. Recently we know how Lee Strobel became a believer. These people, like many others did not start out as Christians. They wanted to disprove Christianity. But they kept an open mind. Eventually they realized that their prejudices were wrong and they humbled themselves before their Savior and became his ardent followers. It is true that 'wise men still follow Him.'
Thirdly, if we really know Jesus, it must be a fulfilling knowledge. It must meet your spiritual thirst. It must bring an end to your spiritual quest. A cursory knowledge of Jesus is meaningless. A utilitarian view of Jesus as the miracle worker on whom you can call on to meet your needs is a cheap substitute for real Christianity. If he has not transformed you, you do not know the real Jesus yet. Jesus is still fulfilling thirsty souls with the living water that only he can give. All over the world people are finding him, knowing him, standing up for him and even dying for him. What about us?
Once we begin to know the real Jesus, it becomes so transformational that nothing else can be equated to it. Most of us are educated in this generation. But our education cannot be compared to it. That is why Paul called it 'the excellence of knowledge of Christ.' We know that Paul was an educated man. He learned at the feet of Gamaliel all the wisdom of the rabbis. He knew Greek classical literature and philosophy. (Allusions to it are available in his speeches and writings). He knew the Roman legal system, which he used to defend himself. The revelation knowledge that he began to gain after his conversion was far superior to all of these that he proclaimed, "I do count them but dung" (KJV).
That is an amazing statement. Especially when we consider how proud we are of our education. Take a look at what he considered as dung in Philippians 3:5-6.
A. His heritage: He was a Hebrew of Hebrew, a true Jew in every sense of the word, who could trace his lineage all the way back to Abraham. He used to boast about it until he came to Christ. Once he knew Jesus, once he had the revelation of 'though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich,' (2 Cor. 8:9) his heritage was nothing but dung to him. If Jesus could be born in a manger, grow up in a carpenter's home and live a peasant's life, why should his followers waste time and effort to prove that they are 'from a good stock?'
B. His lineage: He was born in the tribe of Benjamin. The tribe that had the privilege to provide the first king to Israel. His family had a good name. Once he became he member of the 'household of God' it became nothing but dung to Paul.
C. His religious position: Paul was a Pharisee, a strict observant Jew who could challenge others about his devotedness. Pharisees fasted twice a week, gave alms in everything, and lived a very clean life. No females except family members were even allowed to wash their clothes. No wonder they had respect in the first century world! But Paul says all that religiosity is nothing but dung because he was trying to gain righteousness apart from Christ. When he found how a sinner is freely justified by Christ, all that religious stuff became nothing but dung to him. A man who would not allow his female slaves to wash his cloth was ready to 'become a Barbarian that I may win the Barbarians.' He was ready to accept that in Christ 'there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave [nor] free.' (Col. 3:11)
D. His past zeal as a defender of Judaism: He gave his consent to kill Stephen (Acts 7) because he was zealous of his religion. All across the world we see the same zeal at work- whether it among Hindus in India or Muslims in Pakistan. To a lesser extend it is present among Christians also. Look at all the infighting among us! He willingly gave that up and became a gentle lamb emulating the example of his dear savior.
E. His self-righteousness. The tell tale sign of a person caught up in religion is self-righteousness. Paul's life prior to his conversion was mired in it. It took the encounter at the city gates of Damascus for him to realize that his elf-righteousness was nothing but stained rags.
Oh! How much we need to come back to the cross! How much we need to preach the real gospel that transforms people! How much we need to be liberated from the clutches of religiosity! When will we learn to truly value Jesus more than everything mentioned above?
We can say that this was an emptying process. If everything that he considered valuable was gone from the life of Paul, what did he replace it with? Christ! In the place of boasting about heritage, Christ. In the place of boasting about his lineage, Christ. In the place of accolades about his religiosity, Christ. In the place of standing up for man made institutions, Christ. Christ truly became all in all in his life.
This is where our dilemma is. When we first come to the cross and begin to fall in love with Jesus, we begin to see things as Paul saw it. We even start getting rid of all these baggage in our lives. But we fail to replace it with anything! We walk on empty for a while. It provides room for everything that left us to come back into our lives and we live as religious Christians, than radically transformed Christians empowered by the cross.
Paul started moving with a new goal in his life: That I may gain him. Our true inheritance as children of God is possessing Him, not what He gives us. "Faith, if it is to be sure and steadfast, must lay hold upon nothing else but Christ alone." (Martin Luther).
On the practical side, our lives become a partnership with Jesus. When we keep the sanctity of our homes and marriages, it is keeping a partnership with God. (Mal. 2:14). When we honor God with our tithes and offerings, we are maintaining our financial partnership with God. (Mal. 3:8-11). When we keep the Lord's Day as a day of rest, we are keeping our partnership with God. It will be even better for your health! The more we know Him, the more there will be a desire to honor him.
"Ye call me master, and obey me not. Ye call me Light and seek me not. Ye call me Way and walk me not. Ye call me Wise and follow me not. Ye call me Fair and love me not. Ye call me Rich and ask me not. Ye call me Eternal and seek me not. Ye call me Gracious and trust me not. Ye call me Noble and serve me not. Ye call me Mighty and honor me not. Ye call me Just and fear me not. If I condemn you, blame me not." (An inscription on the ancient Cathedral in Lubeck, Germany).
Let us develop a closer walk with our Lord. Let us truly desire to know Him. "Learn of Me," he beckons us. Let us hearken and earn and be transformed.
Do the work of an Evangelist: Part 2 Be faithful to your call
Pastor Mathew Philip, Philadelphia, USA
After explaining in the previous article how a believer has to persist in his conviction, Pastor Mathew Philip, Philadelphia, USA, goes on to describe the fist work of an evangelist - to be faithful to his call.
Apostle Paul writes to evangelist Timothy to do the work of an evangelist (2 Timothy 4:5). Evangelism is one of the primary functions of the local church. Its members are called to proclaim the good news of salvation. One of the works of an evangelist that Paul describes in 2 Timothy 1:1-2:13 is to be faithful to one's calling. How to be faithful to our call?
1. Be assured of our call
We must first be assured of our call and commitment to the ministry of evangelism (vv. 1, 9): We must be sure that we are called and appointed by our God. As an apostle, Paul's appointment is by God's will and not by the will of any human being or human institution (1 Tim. 1: 12; 2:7; 2 Tim. 1: 11; Titus 1:3). He was appointed according to the promise of life that is in Christ Jesus, which is the Gospel. What kind of a call is ours? God has saved and called us to a holy life (v. 9). In our evangelistic work, always remember that the One who called us is holy and we must do anything that will honor His name as holy before others.
2. Receive God's grace, mercy and peace
We must receive God's grace, mercy and peace (v. 2): These are Christian qualities that are reserved only for God's people. Since evangelistic work faces a lot of persecutions and suffering, these qualities are very much needed in our lives. Who is the source of these qualities? It is God the Father and Christ Jesus. Our source is eternal source. Since these qualities are given to us, we will be able to faithfully serve the Lord according to our call.
3. Serve with a clear conscience
We must serve with a clear conscience and a sincere faith vv. (3-5): Paul claims that he served with a clear conscience. He also appreciates the sincere faith in Timothy. Since we live in the midst of a perverse and crooked generation, there are always chances that our conscience can become callous and evil. There are chances of loosing our faith as we continue to live in the midst of problems and difficulties. We will be faithful to our call only when we live with clear conscience and genuine faith till the end of our lives.
4. Fan into flame the gift of God
We must fan into flame the gift of God (vv. 6-7): Gifts and talents are not given in full measure. They are to be developed and used. We must fan into flame the gift only in power, love and self-discipline. There are people who exercise the gift without love and self-discipline. Some use it for money, popularity and prestige. We also don't have to be afraid to use this gift, for God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.
5. Never be ashamed of the Gospel
We must never be ashamed of the Gospel (vv. 8-12): People will insult you, persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you (Matthew 5:11). As an evangelist, you should never be ashamed of the gospel nor of the people who are already suffering for the sake of Christ. Why we should not be ashamed of the gospel? It is because we have the power of God, who has saved us and called us to a holy life. We have His grace. He has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality. It is God who appointed us to preach and teach the gospel. Finally, we know whom we believe and we are convinced that he is able to keep us faithful till the end.
6. Safeguard the good deposit that was entrusted to us
We must safeguard the good deposit that was entrusted to us (1:13-2:2): Paul asks Timothy to guard the good deposit that was entrusted to him. It is the sound teachings that Timothy heard from Paul. We are able to guard the Gospel with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us. We must entrust this gospel to reliable people who will be qualified to teach others. To be faithful to the training of God's people is to be faithful to our call.
7. Endure hardship for the sake of Christ
Endure hardship for the sake of Christ (2:3-13): Evangelism requires a lot of sacrifice and hard work. We must be patient enough to go through it. Three examples are cited here to encourage us: (a) A good Soldier who always wants to please his commanding officer will not get involved in civilian affairs. A soldier has to endure vigorous training which helps him to become a good soldier. (b) An Athlete who competes according to the rules will always receive the victor's crown. It may not be pleasant to go through forceful exercises and follow the rules of the game. If he or she does so, the victory is sure. (c) A hard working farmer who toils in his field and wait patiently for a good crop. Enduring hardship is absolutely required in evangelism. God promises eternal reward for those who endure hardship. Only those who endure hardship till the end can be faithful to their call.
From the pulpit: A little cloud
Rev. Dr. Baby Varghese, Dallas
The pleasant fertile valley of Hermon was dried up. The greenery that had covered Mount Hermon had turned to ashes. It seemed that the pleasant valley had decided to fast. Never in the life of the people of Judea had they seen such a great summer in the period of Elijah. They did not even have a gentle breeze during that time period of 3 1/2 years.
At the top of Mount Carmel, we can see a man kneeling down and crying under the red hot sun. At frequent intervals, he was sending his servant to see whether there was any sign of rain. The Mediterranean Sea was glittering as the sun reflected off of its surface. Each time he went and came back, his answer was "no." At the last seventh time, he came and said, "Behold a small cloud like the shape of a hand is rising from the sea." The cloud was so small but that was the result of Elijah's faith. Elijah came to know that God had heard his prayer.
He was feeling the cool breeze near. He was ready to hear the beautiful music of the valley. The time of goodness and prosperity is near...
However, we are not like Elijah. Until the sky is full of dark clouds, we are not satisfied. We think to ourselves, "Why has God not heard our prayers?" How did this small cloud rain on all parts of Judea? Our heart is filling with clouds of doubt.
God's plans are as follows: It is not just a lotto or bumper prize. God's blessings are given in small amounts. When we accept it with a great heart, it becomes a great rain for us. If you are faithful in a small thing, He will make you a master in big things.
How are we receiving the small blessings of God? If we hope for big and receive small, are we really feeling bad? When we see the small clouds in our life, know that it is the beginning of God's blessings. This is the period of a great promise. Remember, the unclear beginning is from God who can finish it well.
"The ark and Israel and Judah dwell in booths; ... shall I then go to my house, to eat and to drink, and to lie with my wife? (2 Sam. 11:11)
It was wartime. Kings were expected to be in the battleground! King David, nevertheless, decided to take rest and, that culminated in his moral fall. Lazy people fall in to sin. Had David gone to the war front, he would never have seen Bathsheba bathing and fallen in to adultery with her. (At least he could have prayed for the soldiers... After all, it was evening, his prayer time! Psa. 55:17) Satan speaks more to idle people. Better be busy with Godly matters.
Stumbling on a steep path does not end up in one single fall. We fall and roll! This is what happened to David. To cover up his one sin, he committed many more sins! Crookedly he asked his soldier Uriah, the Hittite, husband of Bathsheba, to go home and spend the night with his wife. Remember, he was a Hittite, not pure Israelite. Nevertheless, he said... "The ark and Israel and Judah dwell in booths; and my lord Joab and the servants of my lord are camping in the open field; shall I then go to my house, to eat and to drink, and to lie with my wife? As you live, and as your soul lives, I will not do this thing" (2 Sam. 11:11). Look how loyal he was towards his mission! He could think of nothing, but war! His personal pleasures did not touch him...
Here, is an underlying question to David... King David, how could you eat, drink and indulge in lustful pleasures when your people are camping in the open field to capture terrains for you? You even went for illegitimate pleasures, while Uriah chose to deny normal things like eating and drinking at home and sleeping with his wife...
We see a pleasure loving society around us. Even people like David, mighty men of the Lord, men "after Gods own heart" are after personal pleasures! "What is wrong with enjoying life?", they ask. The answer is... the battle of the Lord is undone... How can we?
Prayer: Lord, I know that I cannot indulge in worldly pleasures as the battle of the Lord is yet unfinished. Help me to be busy with Godly affairs, Amen
Further reading: 2 Samuel 23:13-17; 1 Corinthians 7:29-31
Youth Forum: Resources for spiritual growth
Dr. J. Varghese, ICPF
Dr. J. Varghese, Inter Collegiate Prayer Fellowship, lists prayer and meditation as major resources for spiritual growth, making one being aware and letting God become real in his/her experiences.
Spiritual vacuum is the talk of the youth. Recent surveys indicate that youth are more open to spiritual matters but they do need proper direction in this matter. Spiritual growth gives one a meaningful philosophy of life that provides trust and hope in facing the inevitable problems of life. Some powerful instruments such as Prayer and Meditation are to be used appropriately to attain this.
Prayer and meditation are complementary devotional disciplines that can enrich each other. Both are direct ways to open oneself to the creative power of God's love. For many in our hectic, secularized culture, prayer has little meaning. Even though they go through the motions of praying, it does not empower them. The inner channels of their spirit are blocked by logjams of guilt, grief and anger (including anger towards God), which prevent them from experiencing the enlivening flow of God's love.
Meditation is a method of quieting and centering one's consciousness, of getting into a clear, uncluttered space psychologically. Letting one's mental motor idle for even ten minutes each day can quieten one's consciousness, increase awareness of one's body and put one in touch with one's spiritual centre. Keeping one's stream of consciousness quiet for a few minutes helps one become reenergized and centered, which allows one to be more present with one and others.
The New Testament phrase to pray without ceasing (1 Thess. 5:17) means seeking to maintain a continuing awareness in the background of one's consciousness, of the here-and-now presence of the Spirit of love and liberation. It means keeping oneself open to the flow of the inner Light of the divine presence. It will also help one to see that he/she is enveloped in this Light and enable oneself to handle his/her problems effectively. It can lead to a form of intercessory prayer.
Prayer and meditation are resources for spiritual growth and making one being aware and open to letting God become real in his/her experiences. This helps deepen and enrich one's own life, and enhances relationships with others. Let their vacuum be filled with spiritual resources namely prayer and meditation. Prayer can change situations and lives too.
A massive earthquake brought devastation to Haiti in January. Many are dead and many more are left homeless. Large number of Christian organizations like Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, Compassion International, Global Aid Network, Food for the Hungry, Samaritan's Purse, and World Vision are engaged in relief work there. Relief workers say: "Haitians are amazingly courageous, resilient people. And above all else, we find such a love for Jesus Christ there, it's just overwhelming to me how close these people are to their Lord and Savior in times of tragedy".
Haitians keep churches alive amid tragedy:
"Christian Today" reports that Haitian Christians have not given up their faith despite the devastating earthquake. In Port-au-Prince they still put on their best clothes and walked to church on Sunday. Many churches have continued to meet in open spaces even when their houses of worship have been destroyed.
Leena Samuel, Program Officer, Emergency Relief Unit, "Food For The Hungry" wrote from Haiti on January 18, 2010:
"My first morning in Port Au Prince I woke up to the sounds of worship. I couldn't see their faces, but I could hear their voices, joined in unison to worship and bless the One who offered hope and strength in the midst of devastation and tragedy. "Onward Christian soldiers", they sang. I couldn't tell if they were singing in English or Creole but the tune was clear. "with the cross of Jesus going on before." The congregation was reminding themselves and the rest of us who could hear their hopeful song that the battle was the Lord's and not ours to bring restoration to a land devastated by a horrifying earthquake.
One can't help but be overwhelmed by all that is seen and heard in Port Au Prince. The collapsed buildings, the people crowding the streets, their faces covered in masks to block the dust and stench of decaying bodies buried under the rubble, people camping outside even if there homes are still in tact, afraid of another deadly tremor striking, the stories of lost loved ones, relief efforts hampered by poor road access and shortage of fuel.
It is easy to focus on the devastation and all the failures of relief efforts in Haiti, and yet, there is restoration that is already taking place. Even before the first relief responder set foot in Port Au Prince, the Haitian people themselves were in action, digging out family members, neighbors and friends buried under the rubble and bringing comfort to each other in their time of loss, roads have begun to open up and much needed medical care and aid is starting to reach communities hardest hit by the earthquake. People are still being rescued alive from under the rubble, some merchants have resumed selling their wares on the streets and small markets are opening up, returning some semblance of normalcy.
The Haitian congregation reminded me my first morning in Port Au Prince that the battle is the Lords and not ours. "With the cross of Jesus going on before," there is certainly hope and restoration for a devastated land".
Most influential living preacher: Rev. Billy Graham
According to a recent survey conducted among pastors by LifeWay Research, Rev. Billy Graham topped the list of most influential living preachers. He received almost three times as many votes as any other pastor. The 91-year-old pioneering evangelist has preached to more than 200 million people in 185 countries. LifeWay Director Ed Stetzer said he was surprised at the results, considering that the sampling included liberal and conservative, all races and ethnicities, mainline and evangelical pastors".
No one can dispute the fact that Rev. Billy Graham reached a large number of people by presenting the gospel of Jesus Christ in a most simple fashion and lived a sincere, transparent and exemplary life both in public and private.
Bible verses on weapons
Trijicon, a company based in Michigan, USA have been selling high-powered rifle sights to the American military for many years. Under its founder, Glyn Bindon, a devout Christian, the company began the practice of inscribing references to Bible verses from the books of Revelation, Matthew and John dealing with Jesus as "the light of the world" on its products. Tom Munson, director of sales and marketing for Trijicon, said the inscriptions "have always been there" and said there was nothing wrong or illegal with adding them. The sights are used by US troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. The company's vision is described on its website: "Guided by our values, we endeavor to have our products used wherever precision aiming solutions are required to protect individual freedom. We believe that the goodness of American people has been based on Biblical standards throughout our history, and we will strive to follow those morals". After a storm of protests from Military Religious Freedom Foundation and others, Trijicon has voluntarily decided to remove the Bible references from their products.
It can certainly be appreciated if Christian standards and values are maintained in the working of a company and the manufacture of its products. But it is not appropriate to inscribe Bible verses on weapons of war!
Only 2 in 5 Presbyterians believe Jesus as the only way!
According to the Presbyterian church's latest "Religious and Demographic Profile of Presbyterians" report, only 39 percent of members agree that "only followers of Jesus Christ can be saved". The number drops to 35 percent in the case of pastors!
Personalities encountered by Jesus - 18: Judas Iscariot
Jesus replied, "Have I not chosen you, the Twelve? Yet one of you is a devil!" (He meant Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, who, though one of the Twelve, was later to betray him.) (John 6:70,71)
Of all the twelve who were called to be disciples, the character of Judas remains the most mysterious. The Gospel writers tell us nothing of his life or background before he met Jesus, and very little of his association with the Master, except always to identify him as the betrayer.
But, as Dr. Hales observes, "the treachery of Judas Iscariot, his remorse and suicide are occurrences altogether so strange and extraordinary that the motives by which he was actuated require to be developed as far as may be done, where the Evangelists are in a great measure silent concerning them".
It is obvious that Judas had some overwhelming weakness, some ruling passion that made him, when under its influence, powerless to resist evil. But what was that weakness? Was it covetousness, as the Gospel narratives imply - a lust for money that was so great that he stole even from the disciples themselves?
The Gospels tell us that, stricken with remorse, Judas tried to undo the betrayal of Jesus, and returned the 30 pieces of silver, which the priests refused, and which were eventually used to buy a potter's field .
In profound despair, Judas went out and hanged himself; but in the act, apparently the rope broke and he fell down a steep precipice at Aceldama where "he burst asunder in the midst". (Acts 1:18).
As Papini observes in his "Life of Christ": "Only two persons in the world knew the secret of Judas - Christ and Judas".
Onesiphorus was a member of the Church in Ephesus. He and his family served God in obedience to God's word. He was always available for God's people in their time of need. He helped Paul in his missionary endeavours and also served Paul when he was in the prison for the sake of the Gospel. In 2 Tim. 1:16-18, Paul commends him for his service. He helped Paul in all that he could do for him. Paul tells that Onesiphorus was not ashamed to go and serve Paul in the prison. Paul prays that God would grant him mercy in the day of judgement for his devotion to God and God's people.
Dear children, God has given us talents and resources so that we could be useful for His glory. When we use our talents and resources for serving God and His people, it is a pleasing sacrifice to God. Heb. 13:16 says "..and do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased." Gal. 6:9-10 says "Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up ....let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers." God would bless us for our service in the day of judgement. We should not lead selfish lives for our own interests. Rather we have to live for the interests of God. Just as Onisephorus used his time and all the resources for the purpose of God, we also should serve God's people for the interests of God in this world. There is a famous saying which says, "there is only one life and it will soon be past. But only what is done for the Lord will last".