Editorial Hold on to your spirituality
There are certain virtues which have been either entrusted to us or been acquired by us in our life. Many people consider wealth as the greatest asset and they count everything in terms of money. They live for money and have no will to share even a small part of it to others. We should have the will to help others with the wealth which God has entrusted to us. A disease or an accident can wipe out our entire wealth in a short span of time.
We should hold on to the virtues which we have acquired in our life. This has been acquired in years and is possible to lose it in a moment. Our spirituality, morality, faithfulness, ethics, family relationships, patience etc. are some of the virtues to hold on in our life. There could be many instances in life which may provoke us react negatively and lose the virtues, the divine treasures. This has happened in the lives of many people including the servants of the Lord. It is a matter of shame to the Church that many pastors, believers and even well known preachers were caught in immoral act. Some are still 'shining' in ministry, preaching the message of 'holiness'.
The modern Pentecostal people have very little spiritual qualities to hold on as compared to the first or second generation of Pentecostalism. The spiritual degeneration has become a widespread disease and the Churches have failed to demonstrate the Christian values to the world around.
Satan may bring favorable circumstances in our life so that we may neglect our virtues and be tempted to sin. Whatever we have acquired all throughout the years can be lost in a moment and you may be stamped as an adulterer, criminal, thief, unfaithful, cheater and so on. The palace of morality that you have built in years can collapse in a moment. Beware of the lust which enters to your mind, it can kill you. Say NO to the temptations and avoid such circumstances. It is better to AVOID SIN rather than FIGHTING SIN. As Jesus taught, we should pray, "LORD, lead us not into temptations" (Matthew 6: 13).
In the message to the Church in Thyatira, the Holy Spirit says, " Hold on to what you have until I come" (Revelation 2:25). Apostle Paul says to Timothy, "Guard what has been entrusted to your care" (1 Timothy 6:20).
What do we have to hold on? Do we still hold the faith, prayer life, commitment to Lord and His ministry, love, purity in life etc.., which we had in the earlier days of our spiritual life? It is our duty to HOLD ON TO OUR MORALITY & SPIRITUALITY TILL OUR DEATH.
Rev. Dr. Paulson Pulikkottil heads the Department of Biblical Studies at Union Biblical Seminary, Pune and pastors ‘The Community of the Redeemed’ Church, Pune. He presents Bible Studies on 'Power Vision TV' under the title 'Vachanavum Lokavum'.
His blogs can be read at http://paulsonp.blogspot.com/
The Duckback (a trademark) raincoats were a craze in my school days. As its name makes it clear, the coats made of waterproof material rolls the water just like water doesn't make a duck's back wet. I had water proof watches, the manufacturers claimed you can wear underwater (scuba diving, snorkeling); but I did not go that deep but tried it while swimming. However, during my recent visit to Christian bookstore in the city, I came across a rare exhibit: The Waterproof Bible!
What is the Waterproof Bible for? For scuba-divers, swimmers, surfers, white water-rafters? Do they have enough time to read the Bible while their mind is on their activities? Are they down there to read the Bible or to watch the corals and fish? The manufacturers doesn't have any suggestions regarding its possible uses. However, they suggest a catch-all use: it is safe to take it outdoor without the fear of being spoiled by water. I understand that, on a rainy Sunday morning, when you run from the car park to the church building you can even hold it over your head to protect you from rain. When you get to the church foyers just wipe it on your trousers. You can read it holding a cup of coffee in the other hand without the fear of the coffee spilling over it. The pages are printed on synthetic waterproof material, the manufacturer says on the cover.
Great idea! A bible for outdoors! Wait a second, is not what the Bible meant for?
The Bible has been a indoor book for centuries. The Jews venerated the Torah and followed the rabbinic traditions. They had it rolled up around gold-plated handles and kept inside jackets. It was taken out from the room where it was kept with great reverence and handed over to the reader very carefully on the Sabbath in the Synagogues. After the reading it was returned to its place again ceremonially with reverence. It was kept away from contact with anything that may make it unclean. Some Jewish sects took it once in a year on the festival of the Revelation of Torah. They took it out to the street in a procession, but still carefully covered and guarded.
That is what the Christian church did with the Bible as well. It was kept in door, away from the people for its message was intended. Until William Tyndale, Martin Luther and other reformers, the ordinary people never had a chance to see what the Bible look like. It belonged to the monasteries and church altars. It was in languages that common people did not understand.
However, the situation changed almost five hundred years ago. Tyndale put in the commoners tongue and he had to pay for it with his life. Martin Luther and many others did the same and the work goes on. The Bible is available now in all the major languages of the world.
Bible is for common use, Saint Paul had told Timothy long back. It should be read by everyone who can read and afford to have a copy or read to those who can't read or have access to it. "Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching" (1 Tim. 4:13 ESV).
What was public reading of the Bible in the early centuries like?
It has to be taken out to street corners and coffee shops. I remember preaching in a street corners when I was hardly thirteen! That was part of the training elders of my Bible-loving church insisted that boys (growing up to serve the Lord) should have. They went preaching in the streets almost every Sunday. Then when I grew up I had a Soul Winners Bible, which helps one to lead a friend from Bible verses to another which talks about human depravity to salvation through Christ. Finally, comes the point when you lead the friend to Christ and you prayed the sinners prayer together. So we had to take the Bible to coffee shops, hostel rooms and any place where two people can sit together.
Carrying a copy of the Bible was a mark of an identity for the members of the Christian community that I grew up in. We clutched our Bible proudly as we walked to the Bus stop to catch the bus to church or Sunday School in view of the people in our neighborhood. It was a proud statement that I am a Bible-believing Christian. It meant a lot in a world where Christians who did not take Bible seriously abounded.
The Bible has gone through changes in its physical appearance and in the process it has become more fit for the outdoor. From the tablets of stone on which the Ten Commandments were written to the leather scrolls was a big change. Then, from the rolled leather to bound papyrus sheets was another huge change. From there on to paper and then to the printed books and now on synthetic waterproof material. Somewhere in between it came on computer media: floppies, CD's and On-line. Instead of public reading to communities gathered around in candle lights now we have dramatized audio-Bibles. It is not sheets of paper bound together but an app on our mobiles and digital devices. It is now more portable, user-friendly (one doesn't have to know the order of the books to locate a passage), and the audio one makes us multi-tasking (listen to it while you drive or having a foam bath in the bathtub!).
It was expensive to buy a copy of the Torah scroll in the ancient days. Only the rich could afford it. Only rich monasteries could have a copy of the Bible. Having a copy of the printed Bible still an expensive affair for many Christian communities. However, some of us are so fortunate, We can have one in our bath, one in our car, one in our lap-top and another on our cell phone. We don't have to carry one to church also, it will be on the screen, scrolling to the exact verses the preacher refers to.
Does this mean that we are becoming too casual about the sacred scripture? Yes, it is a possibility. Is Bible now a product too personal. Just for me? It seems so. The reformers liberated the Word of God from the specialists and gave to the commoners so that they can hear the voice of God directly through its pages. That they may grow and share it with other and make others grow in the knowledge of God.
That's what the Bible is for and as long as that purpose is served, I don't care a bible that is not waterproof. However, a waterproof one is welcome.
"The Bible stands though the hills may tumble,
It will firmly stand when the earth shall crumble;
I will plant my feet on its firm foundation,
For the Bible stands".
Lazarus is dead and I am glad
Rev. Shibu Samuel, Detroit, USA
The writer declares that God will rescue us from the clutches of our most tragic circumstance and resurrect us to a new life in Him.
When Jesus walked the cobblestone streets of Jerusalem and Judea, He manifested a mastery over demons, depravity, and disease - and at the tomb of Lazarus, even over death itself.
The story of Lazarus begins with Mary, who wiped Jesus' feet with oil, sending word to Jesus that His friend was sick in Bethany. It is an obvious strategy, but it is worth mentioning. If there is a need for the miraculous, send word to Jesus.
The Lord declared to His disciples that His friend's sickness would not end in death. Jesus did not deny his sickness. He even knew that he would die, but it would not "end" at that. The acceptance and admission that sickness and death are realities is a part of understanding that trials and tragedies happen to all people. The insight and vision that Christ stressed was that, regardless of what you are facing, it is not the end. Jesus brought hope. In everything, sickness or even death, God brings us hope to see us through our struggle.
Jesus' purpose in Lazarus' death is revealed in John 11:4, "It is for God's glory, so that God's Son may be glorified through it". Realities of difficult times, even tragedies, can turn people to God. Our dependence on Him through the darkest hours of our lives places our focus on our need for a relationship with Him. God not only receives glory from us as He delivers us, but others witness His miracle-working power, as well, and glorify God as a result.
Upon hearing the news and telling His disciples that Lazarus' sleep was not to be unto death, Jesus did not rush to Lazarus' side but, rather, stayed where He was for two more days.
Jesus made it clear that Lazarus was dead and that He was glad that He wasn't there to intervene when he died. What a seeming paradox! Lazarus, a friend of Jesus, had just walked through death's door and Jesus said He was glad. The Bible records that Jesus loved Lazarus. They had been waiting for Him and He had not moved. Now, He declared that Lazarus is dead and He is glad. The Lord revealed that the reason for His statement was so they might believe (v. 15).
When Jesus met Mary and Martha, Lazarus' sisters, He found them hanging out with the mourners. They had their funeral clothes on and there was great weeping. But these weren't just any mourners. It was the custom for a family to hire people to mourn during a loved one's funeral. All the weeping and talking will not resurrect your dead. Remember, you are not a mourner. You are a warrior!
Martha told Jesus, "If You would have been here, our brother Lazarus would not have died". Jesus responded, "Martha, don't worry about it. I am the resurrection and the life." Martha countered, "Jesus, I know in the last day he will be raised from the dead." Many are always looking for the sweet by and by and don't realize that they can walk in the power of Jesus' resurrected life today.
Jesus finally quit discussing Lazarus' death with his sisters and simply said to them, "Take me to the place where you laid him". In essence, Jesus said, "Take me to the place where you lost hope". Only a miracle can eclipse the tragedy of the moment.
In the shortest verse of the Bible, the book of John records that Jesus began to weep. (See v. 35). Jesus didn't weep because Lazarus was dead. He knew He was going to raise him from the dead for the glory of God. He was weeping because Mary and Martha had allowed religion to bind him up in grave clothes, put him in a tomb, and put a stone at the door. It grieves the heart of God when we stay sick or in bondage and do not stand upon our covenant rights.
News must have spread that Jesus was in town because when they arrived at Lazarus' tomb, a crowd had already gathered. They began to wonder aloud how Jesus of Nazareth could have made the blind to see and yet failed to prevent his friend's death. Jesus never argues with His critics; instead, He silences them through the miraculous.
Next, Jesus told them to roll away the stone. Through this physical act, He was commanding the people to move aside their doubt and unbelief. Yet, with the blind-man-healer and water-walker in their midst, Martha still doubted. She proclaimed, "By this time he stinketh: for he hath been dead four days." (v. 39).
In Jesus' day, it was believed by some that a person's spirit stayed around the tomb trying to get back into the body for about three days. So He waited four days. I can only imagine Mary and Martha meeting Jesus, saying, "Jesus, it is too late. You waited too long. You should have come when things weren't so bad".
Jesus wanted to make sure when He showed up on the scene that He would get the glory for this resurrection miracle. He didn't arrive right away at the tomb of Lazarus, and He may not come right away to where you are, but hold on. Weeping may last for a night, but joy comes in the morning. (See Psalm 30:5.)
Lastly, Jesus commanded, "Lazarus. Come forth". Gloriously, Lazarus walked out of the tomb - the dead brought back to life. Yet, that wasn't enough. Jesus told those at the tomb to "loose him and let him go". God not only wants you walking in the new life of His Son, Jesus Christ, as your personal Savior, He wants you to walk in the freedom appropriated through His blood.
Your friends and family may already have you dead, buried, and wrapped in grave clothes. But beyond the tomb of death and despair, Jesus is crying out to you, "Come forth!"
Satan may have counted you out. He may have thought he buried you along with your hopes and dreams. But God is about to command you to, "Come forth!"
Your situation is not final, and your future is not fatal. God will rescue you from the clutches of your most tragic circumstance and resurrect you to new life in Him.
Ancient man lived in caves. Modern man has comfortable houses and even mansions. However, they fail to find a room for their troubled hearts.
Jesus said, "Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me" (John 14:1).
No Jack and Jill can come and console you like this.
You need a reason to quench your fear. Jesus is giving you a reason. ''Trusting in God and trusting in me will solve your puzzles". Only Jesus can say this.
Trust is total dependence. Imagine, you are fainting and about to fall, you lean on someone. Now, you are not standing on your own ... You cannot! You have lost all strength. You put all your weight on the person you are leaning on ... That is "trust". If you trust in God, in Jesus, in such a manner, you don't need to be troubled, ever!
Why do many of our celebrities commit suicide even after they own mansions in every continent? Their trust is in their money and fame, but those fragile things can never bear their burden. All their expensive, fine clothes are inadequate to wipe away the inner tears of their troubled hearts. They try to lean upon their friends, but they too are like "leaning walls." (Psa. 62.3) They collapse! Oh! Let them lean upon Jesus, the Rock of Ages, who can bear all their burdens!
Jesus is preparing a mansion for you in heaven; but you have to find a home in Him here. Jesus asks you to abide in Him! (John 15:4). Then the eternal mansion that Jesus prepares is yours.
Abiding is not just visiting. Abiding is staying. It is like the branch abiding in the vine. It is a 24/7 business. You make Jesus your permanent home. You find no rest in something or somebody else. If you find abode in Jesus and Him alone in this world, He will never leave you orphan. He will come back and take you to be with Him, that you also may be where He is".
Abandon yourself in to the hands of the Lord, and He will never abandon you into somebody else's hands.
Prayer: Lord, I am weary. I lean upon you. l know I am in your safe hands. Amen.
From the pulpit: God's time
Rev. Dr. Baby Varghese
"Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time"
News came out through a business weekly called American National Institute of Standards and Technology that they had invented a new clock. It worked on the movement of a Cesium atom. To make this clock go slow, it needs almost 3 lakh years. That is how much accuracy it has got.
The scientists of that same organization are now trying to make another clock. A laser beam controls it. It would take almost 10 billion years to change the accuracy half a second.
God's clock is even more accurate than any human made clock. Naomi and Ruth came to Bethlehem from Moab at the right time. We think it was incidental, but it was God's plan. From where will they get food? For the widows and fatherless, it was the commandment of God to leave some of the grains in the fields. It was the right of the widows and fatherless to collect these grains. If it was not the time of the harvest, what would they have done? However, God made them be there at the time of the harvest. Remember, God has kept a time for all to come to the divinity and receive blessings. He has kept an exact time for it.
If it was not the time of the harvest, what could have been done for food? Boaz, the master of the harvest, came there only because it was the time of the harvest. This lead Boaz to be acquainted with Ruth and their marriage took place. See how accurate their visit was? If you need to come to God's presence and have blessings, remember that God has planned a time for it.
God's time is so accurate that it does not even have the difference of 1/10000th of a second. Sometimes, we may be fast or slow to do something. God controls time. God sent His only begotten Son to this world at the perfect time. "But when the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth His Son, made of a woman, made under the law".
Faith: A precious foundation
V.C. Mathai, Jabalpur
The writer talks about the absolute need for total trust in our Lord in our Christian life
"They that trust in the LORD shall be as Mount Zion which cannot be removed and abideth for ever" (Psalms 125:1)
How firm and sound confidence in God is absolutely necessary in a believer is clearly stated in the above verse. When we think of mount Zion, it is the sacred mount that stands for ever and the powers of nature cannot produce any damage to it. The Word of God emphasizes and reminds us that the spiritual status and existence of a believer should also be like this. Because in daily life we have to face multifarious temptations and afflictions, sometimes we may have to pass through shadow of death. The strength to face and overcome these problems cannot be achieved from wealth, health, name and fame or from any other worldly comforts, it shall come only from our Lord Jesus Christ. All our efforts and hard work are fruitless. Holy Bible says "Except the Lord build the house, they labour in vain that build it, except the Lord keep the city the watchman waketh but in vain" (Psalms 127:1).
When we study the Holy Bible we find a man who had faced trials and tribulations, sorrows and multiple sufferings in his life greater than any man would have ever faced in this world - that man Job. Job was a God fearing and blessed man having huge wealth, properties and livestock. Certificate given by Bible about Job is: "there is none like him on the earth a perfect and upright man, one that fears God and eschews evil". Because of this certificate, Satan sowed hellish problems into his life. All his properties, wealth and livestock were lost unexpectedly in a single day, rendered him penniless and in misery. His ten beautiful children died altogether in a day, he turned helpless and became a serious patient. All his friends, relatives and even his life partner abhorred him. They told Job to refuse and reject his God, compelled him to die than to lead a life full of misery. But all these times Job held on to his faith in the Lord with more and more confidence. The Lord who called him and found him still sincere, raised and restored him according to Bible promise: "And being fully persuaded that what he had promised he was able also to perform". What amazing thing happened! The Lord restored Job with the treasures of the world, health and properties than that he ever had. "Lord gave Job twice as much as he had before". "So Lord blessed latter end of Job more than his beginning" (Job 42:10-12).
Think about the firm trust which Job had in Lord, the firm trust which Abraham (the father of believers) had in Lord, the confidence of that woman who was suffering from bleeding continuously for a period of 12 years who came behind Jesus to touch the edge of his garments for healing. The faith of this lady in the mighty powers of the living God is the greatest healing incident in the Holy Bible which touched my heart very deeply. Because (whatever may be the reasons) she did not think of explaining her problems and sufferings to Jesus, she never thought to approach Jesus through His disciples for recommendation to heal her (as is prevailing at the present time in religious and political fields) but she determined in her mind to go behind Jesus and touch the border of His robe; this confidence in her was enough for her healing. What happened? When she touched, she got healing from that hour (Matt. 9:20-22). See the miracle! What a marvellous, inexplicable, wondrous and super experience which none can imagine and express.
When compared to the above incidents with present conditions of the believers, we are reminded of the startling statement of St. Paul in his epistle (Gal. 3:1): "Oh foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you that you should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you".
Undoubtedly our mind, eyes and ears are bewitched by Satan. Whenever we try to hide the truth we deceive ourselves. Nowadays Christianity remains only as a name. Spiritual enlightenment is diminishing day by day, everybody runs around to get worldly comforts through different means. But, Lord Jesus Christ does not expect such Christianity from His followers. He wants each one of us to prove Jesus Christ to the world through our daily deeds and hearty devotion. Those who see us should see Jesus and those who hear us should hear Jesus. Unfortunately, only a small number of Christians are truly following our Lord's guide lines. The disastrous consequence is foretold in Malachi 4:1: "For behold the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud do wickedly shall be stubble: and the day that cometh shall burn them up, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch".
A new survey published in the American Sociological Review has found that attending church with a close-knit community does increase personal well-being. Prof. Chaeyoon Lim, the study leader says: "90% of the correlation between church attendance and life satisfaction can be explained by the close interactions between members of the church". Nancy Ammerman, professor of sociology of religion at Boston University concludes that there is a high trust level in congregations and the ability to call on people for social support is very high.
The findings of the study will not come as a surprise to those who know the Biblical teachings about a Christian congregation. Bible teaches us to bear the burdens of one another. It tells us not to neglect assembling together. It teaches us to build one another and consider out brother greater than ourselves. A congregation which practices Biblical principles will have its members happy, surely.
Jesus is irrelevant to Christmas for half of Britain!
Quoting a new survey by theology think tank, 'Theos', Christian Today reports that 49 percent of British adults do not find the birth of Jesus relevant to their celebration of Christmas. For 51 percent, the event is still relevant to them. 'Theos' director Paul Woolley said, "It's clear that society is split right down the middle regarding the religious significance of Christmas". As a surprise finding, young adults of ages 18 to 24 more than any other age group believe that Jesus's birth is relevant to Christmas.
The findings of the survey may be relevant to all countries. Christmas has become a purely social and commercial enterprise with no relation to the birth of the Saviour of the world!
Christian site in the United Arab Emirates
A National newspaper in Dubai reports that a 1,400 year-old monastery that is the only known pre-Islamic Christian site in the United Arab Emirates has opened to visitors. The monastery on Sir Bani Yas island in Abu Dhabi emirate is believed to be the only permanent settlement ever established on the island. It is believed to have been built around 600 AD by a community of 30-40 monks and was discovered in 1992, said the Abu Dhabi Tourism and Development Company which is developing the island. Dr. Joseph Elders, the chief archaeologist for the Church of England, is leading the team excavating the site. Dr. Elders says: "Twenty years ago, we had no idea that Christians came this far south and east" in the Gulf region. We don't have many monasteries from this period".
Typical Atheist Has Religious Parents!!
Members of a fast-growing atheist association in USA called "The Freedom from Religion Foundation" are typically highly educated, married white males who grew up with religious parents according to an informal survey. When asked about their primary reason for joining the group, about a third of respondents said "religion doesn't make sense". Seventeen percent said religious hypocrisy or bigotry was the cause; 9 percent said reading skeptical authors; 5 percent cited reading the Bible. 42 percent of the members are from Protestant background, 30 percent were raised Catholic and 27 percent were raised Jewish. The association grew from 5,500 in 2004 to about 16,000 members in 2010!
It only goes to show that the church has miserably failed in its primary duty of presenting Christ to the world.
Christmas extravagance in Abu Dhabi!
Christmas celebration had its share of extravagance even in the desert emirate of Abu Dhabi! The Emirates Palace hotel unveiled the "most expensive Christmas tree" on its premises in the Christmas season 2010. The 40-foot tall tree is decorated with silver and gold bows, ball-shaped ornaments and small white lights. The tree's branches are draped around with necklaces, earrings and other jewelry. It holds a total of 181 diamonds, pearls, emeralds, sapphires and other precious stones. The tree itself costs about 10,000 dollars. The jewelry has a value of over 11 million dollars. Hans Olbertz, general manager of Emirates Palace hotel said that they are contacting the people at the Guinness book of world records seeking entry of the tree into the book.
(Just for the sake of information: The hotel boasts of other items of luxury too. It bills itself as a seven-star hotel and has a package for a seven-day stay priced at 1 million dollars which includes a private butler and a chauffeur driven luxury car at their disposal, as well as a private jet available for trips to other countries in the region. The hotel has a gold vending machine also and is the first place outside Germany to install one.)
On the first Christmas day, Mary did not have a place to give birth to the Saviour of the world. Nowadays Christmas is celebrated in luxurious hotels without even a mention of the Birthday Boy!!
Pentecostal churches continue to grow!
According to figures compiled by the National Council of Churches, mainline Protestant churches in the U.S. continue to experience decades-long decline while the memberships of Pentecostal traditions are on the rise. The yearbook of NCC is considered one of the most reliable recorders of church membership. The Presbyterian Church, the United Methodist Church, the Evangelical Lutheran Church, the Episcopal Church as well as the Lutheran Church reported significant decline in their memberships. The membership declines in mainline churches led to a 1 percent decrease in total U.S. church membership, to 145.8 million. Pentecostal churches like the Assemblies of God and the Church of God increased in membership. Rev. Eileen Lindner, the editor of the yearbook says: "Churches which have been increasing in membership in recent years continue to grow and likewise, those churches which have been declining in recent years continue to decline".
Businesses run on Christian principles stand to gain
Baptist Press reports in a new survey that 43 percent of Americans would be more likely to buy from a company that "manages its business according to Christian principles". 58 percent have no opinion. The research shows that the consumers are divided between those who favor Christian companies and those who are simply indifferent.
There appears to be a significant opportunity for enterprises that understand and value faith to express their faith through their business practices.
Personalities encountered by Jesus - 24: The "Bad Thief"
One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: "Aren't you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!" (Luke 23:39)
Even in his death throes, the "bad thief" reviled Jesus, echoing the mockery of the mob. But the other thief, recognizing Jesus and trusting in his promise of a life to come, rebuked his unrepentant companion: "Don't you fear God," he said, "since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong."
But, although this may have silenced the unregenerate man's jeers, it apparently did not persuade him that Jesus was indeed the Redeemer.
The story of the two thieves vividly illustrates the quality of man. His nobler nature responds to Truth with the humble request: "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom"
But his mortal, physical mind, with its accumulation of evil thoughts, rejects the good.
The words of forgiveness, uttered by the dying Jesus, found no echo in the heart of the bad thief. Only bitter selfishness and resentment that this Man who claimed to be the Messiah could not save Himself and His two companions along with Him. But He could not even ease His own suffering. The insults flung up at Him by the crowd were justified. He was a fraud, an impious imposter, the bad thief thought.
Jesus was ready with forgiveness even in the final hour of His earthly life. It was His plan that even the least among men - even a thief - might inherit the kingdom of God. For no man who lifted up his yearning to Him was denied an answer. But the bad thief did not ask for that kind of salvation. And thus he closed the door on everlasting life.
Ruchi was an average student. She took geology as her major subject. Her friends were critical about her choice of subject. All her friends chose science and math. They all thought she was foolish to learn geology which did not have much scope like science. She completed her post graduation in geology and did research on soil and rock structure. And all her friends were proved wrong when she was chosen to represent India in the delegation that went to Antarctica to do research about climate change. She got the opportunity to work in international organization.
Dear Children, our choices are very crucial in deciding what we are going to become. Choices are made not only for our career, but also for our character building. Little thoughts that we often brood on can shape our habit and character. Bible tells us "guard your heart with all diligence, for out it springs our life" (Prov. 4:23). If we choose to dwell on pure and godly thoughts we will become a godly person. If we choose to dwell on self-love and selfishness, we will become a self-centered person. Phil 4:8 says " whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable........think about such things." Col. 3:1-2 says "set your hearts on things above where Christ is seated......set your minds on things above and not on earthly things" Let us have a Christ-centered perspective and set our minds on that which is pleasing to God in the light of God's word. Let us build our character on the godly principles given in the Bible. God bless us.
Readers' Forum - 4: Can you answer this?
Visualized and compiled: Johnson Thomas
Question of the month:
Should a Christian save money or wealth? Should a Church save?
Read what believers around the world think.
Also you are invited to assign credit points to the views of each writer ranging from 1 to 10 points and send your evaluation by an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bobby Varghese, Mumbai (CFO - Multinational Organization, CA, CPA)
"Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds!" (Luke 12:24, NIV). This is one passage which many Christians interpret wrongly and say that there is no need to save money for the future. Is this really the meaning of this passage? Is it a sin to save money?
In my opinion, everyone should save money including Christians. In all our dealings, we must act prudently and provide for the future. God helps only those who help themselves. In all our dealings we have to act prudently and prayerfully, including in financial matters and God will bless us abundantly.
Some of the verses in the scripture that support saving money for the future are as follows:
"In the house of the wise are stores of choice food and oil, but a foolish man devours all he has" (Prov. 21:20). "Even ants store up provisions for the coming winter" (Prov. 6:6-8).
There are two key aspects to be remembered in this context: (1) One must be financially responsible and prudent, not wasting money having no thought for the future. (2) Money should not be an idol which keeps us away from holiness and our spiritual growth. The minute we give more importance to money rather than spending time for God, money becomes an idol for us.
In Luke 12:18-21, Jesus talks about a man who hoards up for himself and spends time eating, drinking and being merry. Jesus calls him a fool and tells us about the importance of being richer towards God. Hence, it is important to save and curtail wasteful expenditure. Money should not be a vice in our life.
The other important teaching in the Bible is the principle of giving. Giving is at the heart of the teachings of Jesus and there is a special joy in compassionate giving. The Bible talks about the evils of excess saving prompted by greed but it does not say anything about excess giving. The idea is to have a right balance between saving and giving. In fact, if we are financially sound, we can support many fellow believers and Christian causes. This will help us in laying up our treasures in heaven. None of our savings in this world will go with us when we die.
With regard to the church saving money, a similar concept works as outlined above. The church should save money in order to be able to be financially independent. This will help the church in allocating more money to deserving causes, supporting missionaries and also ensuring that a conducive environment is created for the believers in the church to grow spiritually. More importantly, the office bearers who are handling money of the church should have absolute integrity and should exercise all prudence as they would do with their own money with a prayerful attitude.
To conclude, saving money is not evil provided money is not an idol in our life. Good saving must be balanced with abundant and compassionate giving!
In my opinion and little knowledge, the Bible tells us to be diligent and wise by saving but not at the expense of our offering or supports for the gospel outreach. We also need to understand that saving is NOT a synonym to greed or accumulating wealth by ignoring the needs of the Church or the poor believers.
Money is not a parameter for judging the givers' closeness to God but every individual and Church is accountable to God and hence the individual and Church should save without ignoring their financial responsibilities. Read Prov. 6:6-8: "Go to the ant, sluggard; consider her ways and be wise; who having no guide, overseer, or ruler, provides her food in the summer and gathers her food in the harvest". 1 Cor. 16:2: "On the first day of every week each one of you is to put aside and save, as he may prosper, so that no collections be made when I come"
C J. Samkutty, Mumbai, (Scientific Officer, Church Senior)
If a Christian did not save money for him, then who will save it for him? Yes, one has to, but a Christian has to understand he is not living just to make wealth and save money. Jesus asked his disciples to store treasure in heaven, not in earth, but also told them to learn lesson from ants too.
Earning and saving money or wealth with greed in mind is definitely prohibited to a Christian. Making too much of wealth without lying and cheating! Is it possible? I doubt. I heard a story of a man who decided to go to forest and meditate for a month. After some time feels very close enough to God, to ask Him what is 'million years' to you? God replies, my son, it is like a second to me. Again he asks, God, what is million dollars to you? God replies, a million dollar to you is less than a penny to me, then the man asks, God, can you give me a penny from your pocket? His greed overtook even his ambition to be with God. You are back, where your heart is.
The WORD says, "One's life does not consists in the abundance of the things one possesses" (Luke 12:15) We push very hard every day to make more money, to gain power and recognition in the society. On the way, we neglect our health, making joyful moments with family and the hobbies we love.
Every Christian has to understand that, life is not just about making money, acquiring power and recognition. Life is definitely not about work only! But work as much as necessary to keep us living so as to enjoy the beauty and pleasure of life according to the Creator's will. Life is a balance of work and play, family and personal, physical and spiritual. One has to decide how these are balanced. Define your priorities, set your goals with eternity in mind. Let all your decisions be reasonable and divine in nature. Apostle John warns us "love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man loves the world, the love of the father is not in him. ---- The world passes away and the lust thereof, but he that does the will of God abides forever" (1 John 1:15-17). Let this be the attitude of every Christian.
The principle is equally applicable to church too. Some churches amass wealth and money. The members will fight each other later staring at those treasures. There are others who do not have a place even to bow down and worship. This is an irony, I see around.
Alternate theory, Author
Once I met a person who asked me: why should one SAVE? The thought provoked me to think the opposite, what should one do with Money or Wealth, if he or she doesn't want to save? May be the following: (May be you can add a few more....)
1. Spend for your aspirations
2. Lend it to someone who needs
3. Deploy expecting it to increase/ multiply
4. Gift / offer to the needy
5. Repay your loans / obligations
6. Invest in a business / venture of your interest
7. Spend on further education
8. Invest for a research and a better future
For one to SAVE, he or she will have to compromise one or many of the above options. That's when I realized the worthlessness of saving money / wealth. If so, why should a Christian or Church SAVE, instead why not use it for all it can do....???
Question for next month: Can you answer this?
What's the role for Children in a Church?
To answer the above question or to send in a question or give feedback, please email to email@example.com
The first believers who came to the city did not find a suitable gathering for worship and fellowship. In the midst of troubles and sorrows, they started praying together under the shade of a tree. With Psalms & praises & spiritual songs they worshipped the Lord. This was the origin of the church in Pune. In 1963, CPM and Brethren churches were the only gatherings in the city. The first believers, Bros. T.G. John (NDA), P.D. John, V. Mathew, Joseph (EME), etc and a few others attended English, Hindi & Marathi worship services. The desire for a Malayalam worship encouraged them to form the new church.
In the earnest search for a Malayalam gathering, in 1968, the believers contacted Pastor M.P. Oommen (AG Rasta pith) who was conducting a Marathi service. At their request, Pastor Oommen started an independent Pentecostal church in Malayalam with the early believers in the AG church premises.
As Pastor Oommen left for Singapore during that year, Evg. C.C. Chacko who graduated from Kumbanad, was invited to take charge of the church. The church later evolved into IPC, Pune. The decision to that effect was taken in the general body held on 31st Aug. 1969 as the believers felt that it was desirable for the church to merge into a registered Pentecostal church.