Editorial Starving flocks - A worsening state of the church
"In the beginning was the WORD, and the WORD was with God and the WORD was God. Through him all things were made" (John 1:1,2)
Paul tells Timothy to preach the word for the spiritual edification and growth of believers. Peter tells believers to be desirous of drinking pure milk - the word of God. All through the scriptures, we see a lot of references which show the importance of studying and practicing the word of God.
The word of God has the power to create anything and it has the strength to penetrate to the innermost being of a person. It can discern the human thoughts and is like a powerful radar or a high beamed X-ray to which nothing is hidden. The word of God is the medium through which God wants to communicate with His people. It is packed with words of love, care, encouragement, peace, kindness, happiness and so on.
But it is a fact that the people of God have shown their back to the word. Surprisingly, the Pentecostals, who claim to be the caretakers of the word of God, have totally ignored the power of the word of God and neglected it and have no time to be with the WORD.
Few years ago, our parents or grand parents used to travel kilometers to hear the word of God. But now listening to the word of God has become a boring business to their children or grand children and they have no time to read or listen or study it. They are happy to listen to the 'powerful' messages based on prosperity and deliverance and there is no dearth of shouts of praises on these messages. But the doctrines of Holiness and Christian living are not appealing to them. These messages are considered as the old, out dated fashions which has no value in the present advanced society. This is the case of the ordinary members of the church.
The condition of some Pastors are also not different from this. They are appointed to take the flocks to the green pastures of the word of God. But the sad situation is that many of the shepherds have forgotten the day in which they themselves had some green grass! Nowadays they eat only dried grass, having no freshness. They usually ponder over the old paper cuttings or notes for a 20 minute sermon in the church. They have no time to sit at the feet of the Lord to get some fresh and green 'grass' for their flock. But we do not forget the fact that there are, certainly, a few Pastors who sit in God's presence to get a message for their believers. Their life will reveal their relationship with the Lord and they will be called as faithful servants of the Lord.
Some Pastors do not preach on Sundays for the excuse of lack of time. I consider this as a 'spiritual crime' and such people cannot be spared.
The number of "spiritual patients" are increasing day by day in all churches. The scarcity of 'doctors' and a surplus of 'infected doctors' worsen the situation. Such patients live according to the flesh, ignore spiritual fellowship, neglect worship meetings and fulfills the secret agenda of Satan.
This situation has to change. Pastors should give priority to preach the word in its full depth with the guidance of the Holy Spirit. They should encourage members of the church so that they may love and practice the word of God.
Bible is NOT just a book to preach, but a great guide to practice and follow. The reason for all spiritual degeneration is the lack of understanding of the word of God. Let us try to change this grave situation of spiritual imbalance and disorientation. Let us love the WORD and practice it in our life. This will be a lamp unto our feet and light unto our path.
Resurrection of Jesus Christ: A fact or myth? - Part 1
Rev. Mathew Philip, Philadelphia, USA
Rev. Mathew Philip emphasises that the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead is the central fact of the Christian faith
There are things that are important to our lives. A job is very important to make our lively hood, to get the insurance coverage, and to make a good credit history. Marriage is important to build up family, society, relationship and future. Likewise, something very important for a Christian is the fact of resurrection. Paul explains in 1 Cor. 15:1-34, why the resurrection of Christ is important in the lives of believers. The resurrection of Christ is important in our lives because:
First, Our Faith is anchored on the fact of Resurrection (vv. 1-11): The bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead is the central fact of the Christian faith. The entire structure of Christianity - any hope for eternal life and any meaning to human existence - stands or falls with Christ's resurrection.
A. Wrong concept of resurrection - the context
One of the purposes of Paul writing this letter to the Corinthians is to correct false teachings concerning the resurrection of Christ. Paul found some in the Corinthian church who were influenced by Greek philosophy and religion, denying the resurrection of the body. He also found some others who were in the line of Sadducees (Matt. 22:23) saying that there was no resurrection. In his answer to these both errors, Paul recalls the resurrection of Jesus.
B. The heart of the gospel is the death, burial and resurrection of Christ (vv. 1-4)
The gospel is simple and nothing to argue about it. What is the gospel? Paul says in 2 Timothy 2:8, "Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, descended from David. This is my gospel." The gospel is that Jesus died for our sins, that he was buried and that he was raised from the dead. What Paul preached to the Corinthians was that 'Jesus Christ and Him crucified.' The Corinthians received Paul's message as God's own Word, by which they are saved, continue in their faith, established and stand firm. They took their stand with God. So the gospel has the power to save those who believe in it and establish them in their faith in Christ Jesus.
C. The evidence for the resurrection of Jesus Christ (vv. 4-11)
Is the resurrection story a myth or a fact? The fact of the resurrection is impossible for many modern people to accept. But the fact of His resurrection is the most important event of history and therefore, appropriately, is the most certain fact in all history. Paul talks about the evidence for the resurrection of Jesus. To prove the resurrection, he had to first of all, establish the fact of Jesus' death. It was because there were people who denied the physical death of Jesus Christ. They say that Jesus died spiritually. Some others say that Jesus did not actually die, but swooned on the Cross because of the weakness and heavy loss of blood (Swoon theory). The coolness of the tomb and the fragrance of the aromatic spices together with the hours of rest revived him. When he came back to his conscience, he emerged from the tomb, appeared to his disciples and led them to believe that he was raised from the dead. Paul brings out two lines of evidences for the death and resurrection of Christ:
i. Firstly he brings out the testimony of the Old Testament (Psa. 16: 8-11; Isa. 53:5-6).
Paul argues that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures. Apostle John says in John 19:33 that soldiers made it sure that Jesus was already dead. They did not break his leg. John the apostle was the witness to this incident (19: 35). Then Paul establishes the fact that Jesus was buried - We see the account of Jesus' burial in Gospels. When Joseph of Aremathea went to Pilate and asked for Jesus' body to bury him, Pilate made it sure that Jesus had already died (Mark 15:43). Paul enunciates the fact that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures. The Jews counted parts of days as whole days. Thus three days would include part of Friday afternoon, all of Saturday, and Sunday morning.
ii. The second major fact supporting the resurrection is the testimony of eyewitnesses.
Six resurrection appearances are listed here:
1. Peter - The appearance to Peter occurred on Easter Sunday (24:34).
2. The Twelve - The appearance to the twelve seems to have taken place on Sunday evening Luke 24:36-43; Jn. 20:19-23).
3. More than five hundred - This appearance may be the one in Galilee (Matt 28:10).
4. James - He was the half brother of Jesus (Matt 13:55) who became prominent in the Jerusalem church (Acts 15:130.
5. All the apostles - Probably at the time of his ascension (Acts 1:6-11)
6. To Paul - Last of all he appeared to me - this appearance to Paul occurred several years after the resurrection (Acts 9:1-8). The one abnormally born - it simply means that he was not part of the original group of apostles. He had not lived with Christ as the others had. His entry into the apostolic office was not normal.
The resurrection of Jesus Christ is an undeniable fact of history. And that's not just anyone's opinion. That was the opinion of Dr. Simon Greenleaf, the greatest authority on legal evidence of the nineteenth century. In fact, he was the famous Royal Professor of law at Harvard and was directly responsible for the school's rise to eminence among American law schools.
After being prompted by his students into examining the evidence for the resurrection, Greenleaf suggested that any cross-examination of the eyewitness testimonies recorded in Scripture would result in "an undoubting conviction of their integrity, ability, and truth." Dr. Greenleaf not only became a Christian, but in 1846 wrote a defense of the resurrection titled, An Examination of the Testimony of the Four Evangelists by the Rules of Evidence Administered in the Court of Justice.
Dear people of God, like Paul we were not also deserved to be called the children of God, but he appeared to us.
He died for our sins, buried, and raised on the third day for you and me. We must hold fast to the fact that Christ died, buried, and raised. If we fail to believe this fact, our faith is groundless and empty. May the Lord help us to continue in our faith and be established and to take our stand with God!
The writer explains that while people of this world believe in luck, we believe in the help of God for success.
Recently I read an article in DNA about what luck has to do with success ("What's luck got to do with success" by Vivek Koul, DNA, Feb 21, p.22). In that article the writer says success is much more than talent. He asks, "Are people who are successful more talented that people who are not successful?" The writer cited two examples of those who are successful and proved that luck played an important role in their success. The first one was our Railway Minister Mr. Lalu Prasad Yadav.
In 1973 the non-congress student bodies of the Patna University needed a leader to contest for the post of president of the Patna University Students Union. Lalu Yadav, at that point of time was an employee of the Patna Veterinary College. He had quit student politics in 1970, after having lost the election for the president of Patna University Students Union to a congress candidate.
Lalu Yadav agreed to contest. He quietly buried his job at Patna Veterinary College and got a backdated admission in Patna Law College. He won the election. Eventually he contested 1977 general election and was elected to Loksabha.
Another example was Bill Gates, the co-founder of Microsoft. In August 1990, IBM was looking for a program called "operating system" for their "home computer". A group of executives from IBM went to meet Gates, who at that point of time was running a small company. But Gates couldn't provide that same and directed them to another programmer Gary Kildall. But that too didn't work out. Around the same time Jack Sams an IBM employee saw Gates again. They both knew of another operating system that was available. Sams, apparently not appreciating the implications, said, "by all means you get it". Gates got the operating system for around $ 50,000, made few changes and renamed it DOS (Disk Operating System). IBM, with little faith in the potentials of its new idea, licensed DOS from Gates for a low per copy royalty fee, letting Gates retain the rights. And the rest is history.
From the above two examples the writer was trying to tell that luck played a major part in their success. All those who have talent do not taste success in their life. All of the successful people were not the most talented. Talented people seldom get success. Success is noted in history, with or without talent. So success is more important in life.
People of this world believe in luck but we believe in the help of God for success. Talent is needed for success, but talent alone cannot bring success. Goliath was a talented man without success, but David was successful because the Lord was with David. "The horse is made ready for the day of battle, but victory rests with the Lord" (Pro. 21:31 NIV). "No king is saved by the size of his army; no warrior escapes by his great strength. A horse is a vain hope of deliverance; despite all its great strength it cannot save" (Psa. 33:16-17 NIV) No amount of talent will work without help from God. Most of us, even believers forget that. We ask for God's help only when we fail with our talents.
The chief editor of Malayala Manorama was once interviewed in Surya TV and asked about the reason for his success. He answered, "99 percent of our success is because of the blessing of God, what we have done is only 1 percent and that 1 percent is important". How many of us can give all credit to God for our success? King Nebuchadnezzar once said "Is not the great Babylon I have built as the royal residence, by my mighty power and for the glory of my majesty" (Dan. 4:30 NIV). He forgot the role of God Almighty in his success and the Lord took out his royal authority from him.
We should always remember that success does not depend on talent alone but success comes from the Lord. So let us humbly submit our talent before God and seek His guidance and help for success in our life.
Self-will and free will of man
Sebastian P. Joseph, Mumbai
Sebastian P. Joseph, Mumbai reminds believers that in order to keep our faith, governed by the Holy Spirit in the perfect will of God, we need to wage a lifelong war against wiles of the devil
When we look at behavior of man, it seems that man is unpredictable and complex in all his ways. Being created of flesh, life and soul in the likeness and image of God, he was having a free will to choose best things for his life in the fellowship of his creator, God. But with sin of disobedience and subsequent curse, he became subjected to his own flesh, laws of nature, death and decay of the earth ruled by the satanic spirits. There was an irreparable gap between holy will of God and vulnerable self-will of man. As an offspring of the Almighty, when he lived in harmony with a will bonded with God's, he enjoyed life with free will like angels in heaven. After his fall, he lost his integrity and with that both his self-will and free will.
God remembered man that he is dust and a breath short of extinction. He surrendered his son, Jesus as a ransom, to be crucified and to shed blood for sanctification and regeneration of humans. By the sprinkling of blood of Jesus, for them who believe in Him, there is redemption and reconciliation of the minds with that of God's will. Thus the gap between the minds of man and God can be filled in and man can live in perfect harmony of the will of God. Such a life is not very easy.
Saint Paul says, "I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith" (2 Tim. 4:7). What is the fight he is referring to here? In another epistle he exhorts us, "Finally my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against the blood and flesh, but against the principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. (Eph. 6: 10-12 ). He means that, to keep the faith, governed by the Holy Spirit in the perfect will of God, we need to wage a lifelong war against wiles of the devil. The devil first, enters the mind, then influences the body, justifies our thoughts emanating from worldly standards and natural or biological laws, and makes us go in his will in committing sins. That means, if we lead a life governed by a standard code of conduct defined by the word of God filled in our heart, we live in the will of God, whereas if we do not 'eat and drink' the word of God daily and do not produce fruits accordingly in our day to day life, then we shall go worldly in the devil's way . The wicked ways might bring us wealth, glory and power of this world. That might give us pleasure and pride for some time. Man being a social creature, impressed by the glory of present life, may easily forget the glory of the promised and eternal life to come and get enticed to go in line of the rulers of the darkness of this world.
Many of the modern believers have devised a middle or balancing path as a solution to this problem. They are so clever that they walk Monday to Saturday in the will of devil in a worldly standard and Sundays in the will of God. To be more specific, I will narrate the life style of Bro. Tomy, my friend. He iprofesses to be a born again Christian. His boss in his work place assigns him task to manipulate income taxes and to make profits in crores for his company. He divides the commission between himself and tax officers. The lacs of rupees thus earned as bribes make him immensely rich. Sundays he spends in worshipping God in the church. After a few years, with lot of persuasion and warning by the church, he leaves the job for some time. As he is unable to withstand the attraction of free money, he rejoins the establishment and continues to serve the same wickedness in high places after a gap of few months.
The poor man with a lost identity of self-will and free will is tossed between the will of devil and will of God. Alas! He has nothing like his own free will now. Lord Jesus teaches us the consequences of such a life in Matt. 12:42-45: "When the unclean spirit is gone out of man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest, and findeth none. Then he saith, I will return to my house from whence I came out; and when he is come, he findeth it empty, swept and garnished. Then goes he and taketh with him several other spirits more wicked than himself and they enter in and dwell there; and the last state of that man is worse than the first. Even so shall it be also unto this wicked generation".
What is Jesus trying to explain to the scribes and pharisees through this parable? The Jews saw how Jesus healed people, cast out devils and did many other wonders, which were told of the Messiah to come in scriptures. Still, unwilling to believe Him and accept His words of salvation, they blasphemed and asked for more signs. He is explaining that it was wickedness. He reminds them and us that there is nothing like a freewill of human being. By faith in the Messiah and words of God, we get freedom from sin and salvation; and having been adopted sons and daughters of God, we will be governed by Holy Spirit in the will of God. But those who do not believe in the Son of Man, do not obey and practice his words, will have to suffer like the man in the parable told above. He will be a slave to the evil spirits and sins. Being subject to his own bodily impulses and worldly lusts, he will be always restless and defeated by evil thoughts and deeds like the last state of the man in the parable. Even though the parable is said to the unbelieving scribes and pharisees, St. Peter in his second epistle (2:20-22), tells us that it is equally applicable to believers also. "For if after they have escaped the pollution of the world through knowledge of the Lord and Saviour JESUS CHRIST they are again entangled therein and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning. For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known them, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them. But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, the dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire".
<>>Therefore, what is conclusion of these teachings? We need to learn the word of God daily, having filled our hearts with the words and Holy Spirit, we need to obey the Lord in our day to day life to escape the pollutions of our own bodily lust and worldly temptations. We cannot serve two masters at a time. As a true believer, we must mean true business of our heavenly Father, walking in the Holy Spirit. We must live by faith as is said, "the just shall live by faith".
From the pulpit: Process of diamonds
Rev. Dr. Baby Varghese, Dallas, USA
"He must increase, but I must decrease."
Humility is a word that is against the basic nature of man. When a baby is conceived in a mother's womb, it starts to grow. We measure each stage of growth with different scales. These man-made measurements grow with time. We can see the tendency of growth in life and all man-made work. Business organizations compete with one another to increase their stock market value. With all these ambitions, the population of man is also growing rapidly.
Will we have anything to deduct while we look towards growth? When a man desires to grow toward great heights but ultimately falls from it, it causes dishonor and shame. When we discover a diamond stone, it is in a shapeless form. However, when it is molded with suitable instruments, after a long time of hardship, it becomes the shining diamond. This diamond may divide into two. You may think that will lose the diamond's beauty. However, that is not the end of it. It may be divided so many more times. Those who divide make it a useful ornament. Its glory will be a thousand times better than the previous one. Finally, it may reach the King's palace as a diamond stone in the ring of a king.
Our sufferings and miseries mold us into a shining person. At times, we may question God, "What have I done in my life to endure all these sufferings?" But, we have to remember, when we undergo trials and sufferings, it is to make us shine more. God's grace acts on small things rather than big things.
Our lowly state of life is not forever. It is just a starting step to God's blessings. Let us try to be small.
"By faith Enoch was taken up so that he should not see death; and he was not found, because God had taken him. Now before he was taken he was attested as having pleased God." (Heb 11:5)
Usually, we only speak good of departed souls. Once, a filthy, arrogant and wicked miser died. Not wanting to hurt the sentiments of the bereaved with their 'truth', everybody at the funeral praised him as generous and compassionate. Listening to all the false appraisals, the widow beckoned to her son and said; "son, did you hear what they said about your dad? Go to the casket, watch closely and make sure it's your dad indeed!"
If you live a good life, people will certainly praise you when you die. The real testimony you get for your life, however, is not at death but while you are still alive.
Enoch lived a life of faith. What does it mean? He lived a life totally surrendered to God. He was always pleasing God. Somehow, he wanted to bring a smile upon God's face! He always sought God's will and obeyed. He pleased God by keeping himself holy enough to walk with the holy God.
This doesn't mean that everyone was pleased with Enoch. I am sure Enoch displeased many of his contemporaries. You cannot please God and men at the same time. ('Men', here, means people with human understanding... people without Godly insight!) Even when people disliked Enoch for his piety, he stood alone and pleased God. However, even people who did not appreciate him attested to one thing from their heart: "This guy only has one thing in his mind... somehow to please his God!"
May be people of his time considered Enoch crazy, a misfit for earthly living... Yes! May be that's the reason why God said, "come on boy, I will put you in a place fit for you!"
Do you want to live a life that will bring a smile upon the face of your God? That would be costly, but worth it. Will people around you... your family, friends, neighbours, colleagues, fellow travellers in a metro, grocery shop attendant... attest your life as one pleasing only your God?
Prayer: Lord, help me bring a smile upon your face, Amen!
Youth Forum God's sovereign choice
Dani Mathews, Dombivli
Dani Mathews, Dombivli, asserts that with each one of us God might have planned different things. But the choice is always entirely His and His sovereign choice never fails.
All of us being children of God have indeed got the greatest privilege and the opportunity to serve the living God and that is what many people in this world are deprived of.
But many of us least realize that importance and we take this blessing for granted. If we just sit back and think of these blessings and try to find out the reason behind that then probably we will land nowhere.
But God has got a reason for everything that has happened in our life. In Romans 9:16 we read "It does not, therefore, depend on man's desire or effort, but on God's mercy. He chose us and brought us till this day so that He might fulfill His purpose in our life."
From the above verse itself we can clearly make out that just because God wanted His purpose to be fulfilled in our life He raised us from the miry pit and brought us to this level and if we train ourselves in such a way that we may be useful instruments in His hand then God can indeed do great things with us. But things can turn to be otherwise if we depart from His ways.
We were made by God and for God and He has great purposes with each one of us. When we travel through grave situations in our life we must realize that all such sufferings are for the fulfillment of his mighty purposes in us. God is more interested in our character than our comfort and He wants to make our life holy than making our life happy. We can be happy here on earth, but that should not be the ultimate goal of our life. The goal should be to grow in to the spiritual maturity, the Christ-likeness.
Some may have to travel through really painful situations in their life so that they may reach the goal that God has fixed for them while some others may not have to taste such bitterness while they are heading towards that goal.
We can focus on our purposes, or on our problems. If we focus on our problems, we are going into self-centeredness and in turn we may become frustrated. But one of the easiest way to get rid of problems, frustration and pain is to get our focus off our self and fix it on God and His scriptures.
We are just clay in His hands and we never have the authority to ask our Creator for justifications for all that is happening in our life. All we have to do is to remain obedient in His hands and allow Him to make use of us the way He likes. With each one of us He might have planned different things. But the choice is always entirely His and His sovereign choice never fails.
Let us train ourselves each day so that we can really be useful instruments in His mighty hands.
Oxford project: to study why mankind believes in God
The Ian Ramsey Centre for Science and Religion of the University of Oxford will spend nearly £2 million in a three-year programme to determine why mankind embraces God. The study will bring anthropologists, theologians, philosophers and other academics together to find out whether belief in a divine being is a basic part of mankind's makeup. According to Roger Trigg, the centre's director, anthropological and philosophical research suggests that faith in God is a universal human impulse found in most cultures around the world even though it has been waning in Britain and western Europe. He adds: "One implication that comes from this is that religion is the default position and atheism is perhaps more in need of explanation".
Let us hope the study comes to some conclusion in three years! But a student of the Bible knows for sure that Bible presents unequivocally a Creator God who created man in His nature. Man cannot have rest and peace until he is in the right relationship with his Creator.
Ramses II bust found in Egypt
Culture Minister of Egypt announced that archaeologists found the bust of pharaoh Ramses II in Egypt's Nile Delta. Experts hope to find a temple belonging to the king, soon. The red granite bust, which formed part of a colossal statue of the king, was found during routine excavations in the Tell Basta area, 80 kilometers north of Cairo. The head is 76 cm high, the nose is broken, and the false beard that was once attached to the king's chin is missing. Tell Basta is going through a major development plan, according to Egyptian officials, who say that a museum and a visitor's centre are currently under construction in the area. Ramses II reigned over Egypt for about 68 years, from 1304 to 1237 BC, and is believed to have lived to the age of 90. He covered the country with monuments to his exploits. His mummy, on display in Cairo's National Museum, is one of the country's biggest tourist attractions.
It may be mentioned that Ramses II is believed to be the Pharaoh of Exodus in Bible. He covered the land with buildings in a way no king before him had done. When he built, he built on a scale unlike almost anything before. The population was put to work on changing the face of Egypt. Rameses is mentioned and named in the Bible, as a site where the Israelites were forced to work hard for the pharaoh (Exo. 1:11). (Source: "Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia").
Have you heard of 'de-baptism'?
A group called the National Secular Society in Britain is trying to make some money selling certificates of 'de-baptism'! A Londoner, named John Hunt, approached the Church of England to ask it to remove his name from the church register. The church asked Hunt to place an announcement in the London gazette. His notice of renouncement was published in the Gazette. A few other Britons have also followed suit. Now the National Secular Society have found it to be a lucrative business to sell these people decorative certificates of 'de-baptism'!
One wonders why these people are bothering to make a song and dance about baptism and de-baptism! Are they under the false impression that the church will collapse without their names in the register? "The gates of hell shall not prevail against" the church of God. Let us pray that they repent of their sins and their names are written in the Lamb's Book of Life.
A man's worldwide trek carrying a cross
Arthur Blessitt carried a 12-foot cross across the U.S. in 1969. Since then, however, he has walked 38,000-miles for 40 years across 315 nations, territories and islands around the world. The Guinness Book of Records says it's the longest walk in documented human history. He says: "I didn't just walk - I carried a cross. So that suddenly gave purpose and meaning to every person who saw it. They knew I am on a mission, and the cross is about Jesus". The following statements are taken from Arthur Blessitt's website, www.blessitt.com:
"Walked around the world since Christmas Day, 1969 carrying a 12 foot cross for Jesus.
Now 38,102 miles (61,319 k.m.).
315 countries, Island Groups and Territories.
Walked on all seven Continents including Antarctica.
Been through 52 countries at war.
Arrested or jailed 24 times (Not for Crimes)
Listed in the Guinness World Records for the 'World's longest walk'.
Arthur says, "Jesus did it, I give Him all the glory".
He has traveled constantly with his wife, Denise, since their marriage in 1990".
The journey has now been made into a film, titled "The Cross".
It is indeed a remarkable achievement. It iwould be all the more remarkable, if at least a few people who came in contact with him were attracted to Jesus, who gave His life for mankind on the cross.
Tailpiece: Coffee vending machine!
A man put his one ruppee coin in a vending machine and watched helplessly while the cup failed to appear and a nozzle sent coffee down the drain while another poured cream after it.
"Now that's automation!" he exclaimed. "The machine even drinks for you!"
Personalities encountered by Jesus - 13: Blind Bartimaeus
""As Jesus and his disciples, together with a large crowd, were leaving the city, a blind man, Bartimaeus (that is, the Son of Timaeus), was sitting by the roadside begging" (Mark 10:46)
Blindness was a common affliction in the time of Jesus, as it is today. It is easy to understand the unpleasant appearance of Bartimaeus, the blind begggar of Jericho with the sightless, staring eyes. Probably the disciples turned away from him in disgust. But Jesus perceived the strong light of faith that shone through his inner darkness that led him to know that he was in the presence of the Master.
It is evident that Bartimaeus did so recognize Jesus, for he addressed Him by His messianic title:
"Jesus, thou Son of David, have mercy on me".
Mark describes in his gospel that "Many rebuked him and told him to be quiet". But blind Bartimaeus would not be suppressed. He cried out louder than ever.
Jesus stopped and said, "Call him." So they called to the blind man, "Cheer up! On your feet! He's calling you." 50Throwing his cloak aside, he jumped to his feet and came to Jesus.
"What do you want me to do for you?" Jesus asked him.
The blind man said, "Rabbi, I want to see."
"Go," said Jesus, "your faith has healed you." Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus along the road.
In our day, it is by such faith as that of this blind beggar of Jericho that we receive our spiritual sight and can follow,Him "along the road".
Children's corner: Are you trying to be a Christian?
A visiting pastor asked Mrs. Whyte, an old, bedridden woman whether she was a Christian. She said she was trying to be a Christian:
The pastor asked: "Are you trying to be Mrs. Whyte?"
"No, I am Mrs. Whyte.", she replied.
"How long have you been Mrs. Whyte? "
"Ever since I got married".
The pastor told her: "That is how it is with me. I do not try to be a Christian. I have been one ever since I put out my empty hand and received Christ as my Saviour".
An invading army was about to capture the capital city of another country. The army captain entered the palace of the king and gave him an ultimatum to surrender if he wished to save his life. Hoping to gain time, the king told the captain that he needed to think over the ultimatum and consult his ministers. He would give an answer later. The captain drew a circle on the floor around the king and said, "Decide before you step out of that circle".
The heaven we read of in the Bible is real. The God it speaks of is holy, almighty and glorious. His throne is immovable and He rules over all. He offers mankind salvation and forgiveness through Jesus Christ. And He tells us to make our decision concerning Him before we step out to do anything else.