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

 
   
 
Internet Edition No. 65 --- September 2008 ---
Cover Page of print edition
Table of contents
Title Author
   Editorial
      Anniversary Thoughts
Johnson K. Samuel
   Dealing with temptations Thomson K. Mathew D.Min., Ed.D., ORU, USA
   A Global Positgioning System -
       Designed just for you
Paulson Thavu, USA
   Paul's attitude towards preaching Pastor Shibu Joseph, Mumbai
   Meditation:
       Pray or praise, but never you worry!
Saju Mathew
   Young writer's corner:
       1. "Jesus - a good model of leadership"
       2. "Overcome evil with good"

Princey Thomas
Christy Philip
   News & Views Johnson K. Samuel
   Personalities encountered by Jesus - 9:
       Army Captain of Capernaum
Selected
   "Children's corner" "Shiny Aunty"
   Malayalam section:
      Naam nammey vidhikkathathu Enthu?
Pastor Veeyapuram Georgekutty, Dallas
   Malayalam section:
      Roga soukhyam
Thomas Nainan, Mumbai
   Malayalam section: New writer's forum
      1. "Athyaagraham"
      2. "Kristheeya utharavaadithwam"

Valsamma Sebastian, Ulhasnagar
K.S. George, Kalyan
   Malayalam section:
      Congratulations (Abhinandanangal)
1. Persis Ann Johnson, IPC Dadar
2. Dr. Annie M. Thomas
   Malayalam section:
      Kavitha: Ruth
Sabu Kaarammelil
   Malayalam section:
      Kristheeya sabhayum peedanangalum
Evg. K.R. Rajesh, Palghar
   Malayalam section:
      Kaalaghattathintey aavasyam
Vargese Kollakompil



Editorial
Anniversary Thoughts

Johnson K. Samuel

17th year of publication:

We, in Suvartha Ministry, joyfully note that we are in the seventeenth year of publication. We have given the magazine a fabulous look from January this year by printing the cover pages in full colour. Even though we had quite a few trying times in the past, we happily remember the love and respect that we earned from several people along the way.

To tide over our financial difficulties, we ventured into a new initiative this year and requested our friends and well wishers if they could sponsor individual issues of the magazine. With immense pleasure and gratitude, we record here that every issue published in 2008 was fully sponsored by different people. We have received promises of sponsorship for a few forthcoming issues, too. We take this opportunity to thank specially Dr. Thomson K. Mathew, Bro. Oommen Abraham, Bro. Thomas Varghese, Bro. Johnson Thomas, Bro. Paulson Thavu, Bro. Mathew Philip, Bro. Radhakrishnan, Bro. Jaison Joseph, Bro. K.B. Ninan, Bro. Raju Ponnolil, Bro. Sam T. Samuel and Bro. Saji Thattayil and their families for their generous support and encouragement.

Nurture leaders for future!

Leaders must be trained and prepared ahead in order to preserve the precious and abundant fruits of revival. The twelve disciples of Jesus Christ were fully trained by the Lord and therefore, they were prepared to organize the thousands of folks who flocked in and the huge amounts of funds which flowed in, without corruption. How many times we have observed today the loss of moral and ethical values following the increase of flocks and funds in ministries! Charisma alone is not sufficient for leaders, they need character, too.

During His earthly ministry Jesus was consciously training the twelve for the worldwide ministry ahead. He gave them the finishing touch before His ascension. We read how He dealt with Peter, the leader of the twelve, in John's Gospel. He asked him three times specifically, "Do you love Me?" (John 21:15-17). Love for the Lord is the foundation for a Christian leader. The Lord commissions him to be a good shepherd of the flock. The fisher of men was, thus, commissioned to be a shepherd of men. Love for the Lord should propel a leader, at first, to win souls for Him and then to lead the sheep into green pastures, not forgetting the proper use of "the rod and the staff". When several thousands of people were added to the church in the next few days, the apostles were prepared to deal with the situation. Added to their training was also the continuous, active guidance of the Holy Spirit. Souls grew in number and grew in stature! As a Master trainer, Jesus also prepared Peter for the cross that he was to bear in future.

The present leaders of our churches should turn their attention to train the next generation of leaders so that the Lord's work proceeds uninterruptedly.

Our website:

We are very happy to note that our website is proving immensely popular these days. Dozens of visitors are browsing through our pages every day. They are reading our articles, enjoying the songs (both audio and video), listening to sermons of servants of God and writing to us their appreciation. We hope to add more materials on the website for the spiritual edification of the browsers in the coming days. We sincerely hope and pray that Suvartha Magazine and Suvartha website continue to provide spiritual nourishment to our readers.

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Dealing with temptations
Thomson K. Mathew D. Min., Ed. D., Oral Roberts University, USA

The writer explains that Jesus' response to temptation demonstrates how we too can overcome temptations. The main weapon against the devil is the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

It is no news that God's people have an enemy. He uses temptations to cause backsliding of Christians because his desire is to steal, kill and destroy. All Christians are tempted, not just the weak ones. In fact, Jesus our Lord Himself was tempted by the devil. Being tempted is not a sin, yielding to temptation is.

The devil normally strikes believers at their weakest spots. For instance, Jesus had been fasting for forty days and nights. Naturally, He was physically weak and hungry. The devil approached Him with the issue of bread at such a time.

In spite of what the Godless have tried to make of the temptation of Jesus, we can learn much from it. This incident is included in the gospel for our good.

First, notice that He was led into the desert by the Holy Spirit to be tempted. This is a mystery, but it seems that the Spirit knew that Jesus would overcome the enemy in such a way that we could learn from. The One who did not sin but became sin for us knew how to teach us to overcome temptations.

Jesus was tempted in the areas of appetite, pride and ego. He was tempted with the bread question first. This had to do with appetite. This was followed by the temptation of idolatry. The devil asked Jesus to worship him. In return he would give Him the whole world! The Son of the living God was being offered all the kingdoms of this world! The devil was working on pride issue here, but he fully failed. The next temptation was about power and ego. Jesus was asked to jump off the pinnacle of the temple to demonstrate His power and command over the angels. This was a temptation of presumption. The devil was dealing with Jesus' ego here, but Jesus defeated the enemy once again.

The devil tempts the followers of Jesus the same way. They are tempted regarding the lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. They are tempted often during the most vulnerable times of their lives.

Jesus' response to temptation demonstrates how we too can overcome temptations. The main weapon against the devil is the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God (Eph. 6:17). Jesus kept on quoting the word of God. "It is written....," He said responding to each temptation.

We not only have the written word. We also have the living Word - Jesus - dwelling in us.

Yes, the Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead resides in us. We need to be aware that "greater is He that is in us than he that is in the world". We have been given everything that is required to overcome the snares of the enemy.

We should grieve whenever a believer falls. Fallen Christian leaders are monuments of the strategy of the devil to defeat God's servants. We should pray for one another and strengthen each other. We must pray especially for our leaders who are sure targets of the enemy. Above all, resist the devil and cause him to flee.

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A Global Positioning System -
Designed just for you

Paulson Thavu, USA

'Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, "This is the way; walk in it"' (Isaiah 30:21)

The navigation equipment based on the Global Positioning System (GPS) is one of the greatest and most useful technological achievements of our day. It functions with the help of a network of 24 satellites launched by the US Department of Defense. An instrument installed in our car captures signals transmitted by these satellites continuously. These signals help the equipment to determine the exact position of the vehicle. Initially, when we begin our journy, we feed information about our starting place and the destination to the equipment. Its software calculates the distance of our journey and begins to give us directions. As we move forward, we get advance information about the turns we need to take at every intersection. It makes our driving easy and helps us reach our destination without any trouble. Everyone who has used the GPS navigation system would admire its power and its usefulness.

When we are confronted with problems in our life or when we reach a juncture of our life where we are required to take major decisions to move forward, we would desire such a system which could guide us and give directions to what to do next and what decision to take and at which time. How wonderful it would be, if we could get such a wonderful GPS system for our life!

Is there a GPS of that kind? Can we get one? Certainly, the answer is 'Yes'. If we study the Bible carefully we can understand that God has really provided such a GPS to all His people. There is such a system within us which can guide us and show us the right directions, to take the right decision at the right time. But the sad thing is that most of us are not aware of it or do not exercise it properly.

Here are some verses from the Bible which talk about God's provision for us:

Isaiah 48:17: "I am the LORD your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go".

Isaiah 30:21: 'Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, "This is the way; walk in it"'.

Psalms 32:8: "I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you".

John 16:13: "But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth".

Continuing further with the GPS analogy, let us find out where God has positioned His satellites and where to obtain the maps and the routes.

The big and powerful satellite is God Himself. The signal comes through the Holy Spirit sent by God for our guidance. Our heart is the receiver. Bible, God's written Word is the map. God created us with a definite plan and a definite route to go - the only route that we should go. Dear friend, if you are not able to receive the signals from God, then you should examine and find out what has gone wrong with your GPS system.

The problem is that you have lost your communication with God. How do you remedy the situation?

First of all, the system should be turned on. You should have an earnest desire in your heart to know God's specific plan about you and also a willingness to obey the directions you get from God. It turns the system on. The Bible says: "Seek and you will find" (Matt. 7:7),

Secondly, you should understand that GPS will not work in underground tunnels or in the shadow of huge buildings. If there is any major hindrance between the equipment and the satellite, then the equipment cannot receive signals. What could be the major hindrance between you and God? The Bible says that it is sin.

"But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He will not hear" (Isa. 59:1-2).

What is sin? Sin is any kind of violation of God's laws. Man inherited sinful nature from Adam and Eve who disobeyed God and ate of the tree of knowledge. Even those who have not murdered or committed adultery will find themselves convicted of lying or of worshipping false idols. So, every person has committed sin in one way or the other. "All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Rom. 3:23). "If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us" (1 John 1:8-10).

Sin is further defined: "Whatsoever is not of faith is sin" (Rom. 14:23). "To know to do right and not do it is sin" (Rom. 7:20). "All unrighteousness is sin" (1 John 5:17).

To explain in other words: when you do something that goes against real trust and faith in God, that's sin. When you know to do right and don't do it, that's sin. When you know something pleases God, something God has commanded, and you don't do it, that is sin. All unrighteousness is sin. All sin is lawlessness.

Sin in any amount will distance you from God. God wants you to recognize all your sins and be delivered from them. Once your sins are removed from your heart then you will start receiving God's signals.

"If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in him and he in God" (1 John 4:15). When you really confess your sins and accept Jesus Christ into your heart, you will feel that all your sins have been washed away. You will experience a new life in you. You will have the desire to know more and more about Jesus. You will hate sin and love righteousness. There will be a great change in you. Your attitude towards life will be changed. You will find the real meaning and purpose of life. You will know God very closely and will start seeking God's plans for you.

You will then start receiving the signals sent by God. But you should be aware that there are other signals that come to your heart which are not from God. How can you differentiate God's signals from other signals? You know, there are so many different radio signals available in the universe transmitted by different sources. But how does the navigation equipment understand the right signals? The frequency of the signals sent by all the GPS satellites is 1575.42 MHz. The equipment in your vehicle is tuned to receive only the signals with this particular frequency. That is the reason why it is not confused by other signals. You should always be tuned to God's voice and meditate the word of God.

Then you can clearly differentiate God's signals from other signals coming from all other sources. You will not be confused by any other signals.

The most important piece of information required by your GPS equipment is your present location and your desire to reach the destination safely. The satellites will then guide you through the proper route. This is what exactly required by God to show you the way, if you are unable to understand His plan for you. You must honestly confess to Him your present condition, the situation you are currently in and your helplessness in finding the way. Then God will tell you how to come out of it and proceed in the right direction.

God has already provided you with a GPS. But the switch to turn it on is in your hands. Switch it on, remove all hindrances and listen to the will of God and then He will guide you in the right path.

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Paul's attitude towards preaching
Pastor Shibu Joseph, Mumbai
The writer portrays the attitude of St. Paul with regard to the glorious Gospel of Jesus Christ and challenges all of us to reset our minds and adopt Paul's attitude.

Although, the historian Luke did not record that Paul was an eloquent and rhetoric preacher like Apollos, ever since Christianity had begun, Paul with his presence and works led then known world into the pinnacle of Christian revelation. More amazingly, no one could reach to that top or even cross that land mark till today. A man from the city of Tarsus reputed for science and philosophy could not digest the utterances of simple fishermen from the backward Galilee. However the unexpected encounter with Jesus of Nazareth on the Damascus road transformed his precepts and made him the preacher of Christ. The terror master then became the bond slave to Jesus of Nazareth.

He, then was such a preacher who enhanced the unalterable truths revealed in the Holy Scriptures. He not only had the anointing of the Spirit but awareness and conviction of his speech and situation also. When the persecutor of the Church became the preacher of Christ, the Lord, his mental frame was renewed by the presence and power of the Holy Spirit. He, by the influence of the power of the Holy Spirit had led his audience to the revelation of Christ. This is unfortunately not happening today. Everyone wants to enthrone himself, rather than lead people into the revelation of Christ.

Looking into the attitude of Paul's preaching, one can draw up classy and sensible truths. Even though pages could have written about the same topic, here we abridge the details.

There are some points to be mentioned here; to perceive the mind of Paul.

1. In the first place, Paul focussed on the Revelation of God in Christ. He wanted to enhance the message not based on the reports he collected from the co-workers (Gal. 1:11,12).

2. Related to the first, his focal point was surrounded in the centrality of Christ and His Cross (1 Cor. 1:23).

3. Magnifying God in Christ was the active principle in his sermons (1 Cor 1:24, 2:2).

4. Concerned about the reliability and truthfulness of the Gospel message, he never agreed with even slight change and diversion of cream of the message (Gal. 1:8).

5. He did not follow the human wisdom or wisdom of the world (1 Cor. 2:6,7).

6. He did not want to philosophize the message of the cross, as Greek expected. He was more a witness, not a philosopher (1 Cor. 1:18, 2:1)

7. Obviously he had an aim to bring people into the knowledge of Christ, never put any effort to popularize himself. He preached to reach the unknown. (Today many do preach not to reach, but to 'reap' personal gains, fame, funds, etc).

8. With simplicity and clarity he preached Christ, the hope of glory, however in fear.

9. By magnifying the person and work of Christ, he wanted to reconcile people in Christ (2 Cor. 5:20)

10. He spoke not to divide the Church but rather unite the Body of Christ.

In short, Paul had a proper state of mind in which to preach the gospel. He did see the vitality and centrality of the power of the cross and its message, and it is the only means of salvation. He therefore did not dilute or duplicate the message as some do today. He did assure that the blessing and prosperity of humanity lie in the good tidings, but is not apart from the cross. He visualized blessing in the brokenness, richness in the renunciation of worldliness, prosperity in the poverty of Christ, life in dying Christ, utmost love in utter rejection, power in the weakness and exaltation in humiliation.

When many are perverting the message of the Gospel today, St. Paul stands as the pillar in the history of the New Testament.

Is this not a challenge for all of us to reset our mind. He made every opportunity as his pulpit to portray the Christ crucified into the hearts of his hearers. He was so concerned and zealous that the message of the cross should not become folly. Doubtless, our right altitude would lead to appropriate results. Let us also have the same attitude like St. Paul, while we stand before the glorious Gospel of Jesus Christ.

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Meditation:
Pray or praise, but never you worry!

Saju Mathew
Reading Passage: James 5: 13-19

"Is any one of you in trouble? He should pray. Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise" (James 5:13 NIV).

It is said that human life is a blend of afflictions and affluence! We all are in either of the situations. James says, we should pray when we are afflicted and praise when we are blessed. These are the only two attitudes that we should keep.

During times of affliction, we pray, but also we worry! We worry and pray. Most of our prayers spring from fear and worry. However, God wants us to trust and pray. Remember, trust and worry doesn't ever go together. They are oxymoron contradictory words! (Fear and worry are siblings.) If you trust, you cannot worry and if you worry, you cannot trust. When you are afflicted, if you trust that to a God, who is concerned about you and who is able to help you, your prayers will spring not from worry or fear, but from faith.

What do we do when we are blessed? James asks us to praise! Praise is the spontaneous expression of a thankful heart. We pray when we are in trouble, we forget to give thanks to the Lord when we are blessed. The people of Israel received hundreds of blessings when they were in the wilderness. We see they sing praises to the Lord at the other shore of the red sea after their deliverance from Pharaoh and his army. In their journey, they had to face many more troubles. Even though they witnessed God's concern and power many times in their lives, they always murmured, instead of praying. And when God delivered them, they never thanked Him! They were a thankless people.

Again, praise is an expression of humility. When you praise God for the blessings, you confess that you are not worthy to receive it. You give the credit to God.

A praying man is a humble man, for he admits that he cannot face any given situation on his own. A praising man also is humble, for he admits that he does not deserve what he received!

Prayer: Lord, forgive me for I worry many times. Give me faith. Also, help me to be thankful, AMEN.

Further reading: Phil. 4: 4-7; Matt. 6:25-34

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Young writer's corner:
1. "Jesus, a good model of leadership"

Princy Thomas
Reading Passage: James 5: 13-19

Leader means one who leads a group of people. Any one can become a leader good or bad. Who is a good leader, how to judge who is the best or whom to make our model? The leader is the one who shows his people the way, what they are supposed to do. There is a saying: "It is difficult to practice what you preach". A good leader or a role model should be the one who himself practises the things what he preaches. He should follow what he preaches and set an example before others. He should be able to answer if any one questions him: "Yes, I do what I preach".

A good model of leadership is Jesus Christ, the Son of God. It is because He always laid an example before others that no body had any doubt.

The first and foremost thing or quality in Him was that He did all things which He wanted His people to follow. The best example for this is the baptism of Jesus Christ.

The heavenly Father wants every one to repent and get baptized. And to make every one understand, Jesus, even though pure of heart, the Son of God, got baptized at the hands of John the Baptist. It is clearly given in Matt. 3:13 that Jesus got baptized because He wanted everyone to follow it.

He always explained things in simple manner, i.e., through parables which a lay man can understand.

He taught us and wanted us to love each other, not only the one who loved you but also your enemy. For this also He showed example. Zacchaeus the tax collector who looted people wanted Jesus in his life; Jesus gave him one opportunity as He loved him. Even when He was denied by Peter, He still loved Peter. This tells us to love one another.

He taught us that we should constantly pray and what to pray. In Matt. 6:5 onwards He explains us how to pray.

Jesus said in Matt. 5:13, "I am the light of the world". And we have to accept it because He fulfilled the will of God and always set an example before others. Same way, God wants us to be the light of the world.

Jesus said, you are the salt for all mankind so do not loose your saltiness.

All these evidences clearly tell us who is the good role model as leader. Of course Jesus Christ should be our model leader. By following His godliness and righteousness we must try to be lights of the world and be called as the people of the good leader.

May God enable each one of us to follow His good leadership.

Young writer's corner:
2. "Overcome evil with good"

Christy Philip, Badlapur


Once there was a boy named Rahul studying in a high school. He was rude and cruel to others. He beat others and abused without any reason. Once there came another boy named Abin in the same school and was in the same class with Rahul. He was a God fearing child, baptized and full of God's love. On the first day Abin was advised by his friends to be careful with Rahul who beat everyone. But it went into deaf ears as Abin was friendly with everyone he met.

On the very first day Abin went to Rahul and asked him whether he is interested to have friendship with him. Rahul abused Abin and gave a good slap on his right check. As Abin was full of God's love, he showed his left cheek also to beat. Rahul did not leave that chance, too. But Abin did not stop talking with Rahul.

Every time Abin approached Rahul, he beat him and abused.

One day Abin noticed that Rahul was not coming to school for many days. He enquired and found that Rahul was beaten up by a college student who saw his mischief and was admitted in the hospital. Although Abin was beaten and abused by Rahul many times, he was willing to meet Rahul in the hospital. Next Sunday after the worship, Abin set out to meet Rahul. On that Sunday Abin requested the church members to pray for Rahul. When Abin reached hospital Rahul was feeling guilty. He asked forgiveness and from that day he became a good child.

A great news was heard that Rahul started to go church with Abin.

As it is written in Romans 12:21, do not be overcome by evil but overcome evil with good. When Abin was beaten and abused by Rahul, he would also have done evil by beating and abusing Rahul, but as he was a boy filled with God's love, he did good acts such as showing love, being friendly, showing his other cheek to have a slap and praying for the bad boy whom no one liked. In this way, Abin overcame evil with good. If we overcome evil by doing good deeds, we will get to the Kingdom of heaven.

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News & Views
Johnson K. Samuel

Archbishop says: "Christian doctrine offends Muslims"

Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, is known for his liberal views. Now he declares that Christian doctrine is offensive to Muslims. Religious commentators and conservative British lawmakers have condemned the bishop saying that he is supposed to lead the Church and "not apologize". He had caused controversy earlier this year when he said aspects of Islamic Sharia law should be introduced into the British legal system.

As many critics have said, the leader of world's Anglicans has lost his way around. If God's love for mankind and the way He has made for man to take free gift of salvation through Jesus Christ is offending certain people, what can we do about it? "The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God" (2 Cor. 4:4).

Inflatable church on the beach



Summer time is holiday season. Big cities like Rome and Milan empty in August, when Italians head to the beach for summer holidays, leaving streets and churches empty and many businesses closed. So church authorities have found a novel way to follow their flocks to the beach - an inflatable church. A 30-metre long blow-up church - staffed by priests and singers- will be ready on the beach to serve faithful believers and to receive confession. It is reported by Italian news agency ANSA that the efforts are appreciated by the vacationers on the sands.

Let us hope, the sight of the church turns people's minds to God in the midst of their fun and revelry.

Oldest Bible - To be available on line

A fourth century Greek version of the New Testament, Codex Sinaiticus, is its oldest surviving copy. But its different parts, Gospels and epistles are spread across the world. The various parts are held in Britain, Russia, Germany and a monastery in Egypt's Sinai Desert. According to the British Library, the Codex was discovered at the Monastery of Saint Catherine at Mount Sinai by German Bible scholar Constantine Tischendorf in the mid-19th century and much of the Codex eventually wound up in Russia. They do not say how the parts of Codex reached Russia. Scot McKendrick, the British Library's head of Western manuscripts, says that only a few people have ever had the opportunity to see more than a couple of pages of the Codex. He adds that this "unique treasure" will be available as a whole on the internet sometime next year after digitally reconnecting the different parts held in different countries.

The miraculous ways in which the Holy Scriptures have been preserved are truly mind boggling. The absolute authenticity of the Bible that we hold in our hands can never be disputed. "For ever, O LORD, thy word is settled in heaven" (Psa. 119:89).

Resurgence of Christian beliefs among Jews in Israel

Although Jesus and the early disciples were Jewish, the gospel has been viewed as a religion mainly for Gentiles for nearly 2,000 years. Even the name Jesus or Yeshua has been a forbidden word among many Jews. But in the last few years, Messianic leaders in Israel say something important is happening. It is believed there are about 120 congregations now and 10,000-15,000 Jewish believers in Jesus living in Israel. It may not sound like a big number out of nearly six million Jews, it is a great improvement over 3500 Jewish believers ten years ago. Messianic leader Asher Intrater says that Messianic movement may be on the brink of a great revival in Israel. He adds: "This is the first time where we've seen Israeli society in general being so open to consider who Yeshua is". Tel Aviv pastor Avi Mizrachi says: "I believe with all my heart, after we have come back to the land, we are seeing the Lord, the Holy Spirit, is removing the veil from the eyes of the Jews".

These are sure signs for the return of the Lord. Let us all rejoice!!

Inter-related: beliefs and goals in life

A recent study by The Barna Group finds that goals of life set by people are dependent on their spiritual commitment. The study was conducted in an American context as the people declared themselves as Evangelicals, nominal Christians and atheists. The three faith groups gave significantly different answers when they were asked to rate what goals are important to them in life. The results from the data collected are as follows:

1) Evangelicals are intensely driven by their faith. Their life is substantially influenced by their beliefs, and their life-style choices and aspirations reflect the centrality of their spirituality.

2) Nominal Christians treat faith as just one of many dimensions of their life that serves a purpose, but it is not a driving force at all.

3) Atheists or skeptics have replaced faith with a passion for healthy longevity and personal pleasure gained through world travel, sexual experiences and obtaining knowledge.

Man is created for eternity and God has an eternal purpose for every man. "Eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die" is the philosophy of the foolish. Wise is the man who establishes a right relationship with his Creator.

Bibles & other books at Beijing Olympics

It is reported by 'The Christian Post' that publishers provided 30,000 New Testaments and 10,000 complete Bibles for athletes at the Beijing Olympics. Surprisingly, American evangelist Luis Palau was also given permission to distribute copies of his book, 'A Friendly Dialogue Between an Atheist and a Christian', to the athletes. The book records a conversation between atheist Chinese diplomat Zhao Qizheng, a high-ranking Chinese government official and Palau. The book offers a summary of Christian beliefs and philosophy of religion from the perspective of Chinese culture.

It appears that the Olympics did open many doors for the Word of God to enter China. Surely, "the word of God is not bound" (2 Tim. 2:9).

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Personalities encountered by Jesus - 9:
Army captain of Capernaum

"Selected"

"When Jesus had entered Capernaum, a centurion came to him, asking for help" (Matt. 8:5)

Unlike most soldiers of the Roman legion who occupied Palestine during the time of Jesus, this centurion had a great deal of respect for the Jews and their religion, and was considered by them as a godly man. Luke reports that the elders of the Jews spoke to Jesus on his behalf: "He loves our nation and he has built us a synagogue". It is believed that the centurion probably commanded some Roman troops maintained in Capernaum by Herod Antipas who was the tetrarch ruling Galilee.

The centurion sought the favour of Jesus for the healing of a servant "who was dear to him" and was at the point of death. His character is all the more remarkable when viewed in its historical perspective. In those days a servant was a little better than a slave. If he fell ill and was unable to serve his master, he was usually banished to an infirmary, or taken to the home of relatives or friends. When he asked Jesus to help the sick servant, Jesus told the Roman: "I will come and heal him".

But the centurion had so much faith in the Master's power that he said: "Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. But just say the word, and my servant will be healed".

When Jesus heard this, He turned to His followers and said: "I tell you the truth, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith". The servant was healed "at that very hour".

This faith was a far cry from Roman pride. He could have been brutal to his servants, but instead he sought the help of Jesus for a favoured servant.

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Children's corner:
Let us be faithful

"Shiny Aunty"

William Carey was a missionary to India. He translated the Bible into many Indian languages and his work has helped greatly in the evangelization of India. But even before he came to India, he was pastoring churches in different parts of England. He also worked as a school headmaster and a shoe maker. He was very faithful in all his undertakings. He devoted himself to God and God-given vision. Therefore God used him wonderfully to do His work.

Dear children, we should be faithful in the little things that God entrusts us. If you are a Sunday school student you have to faithfully attend it and learn God's word that is taught there. If God has given you talents you need to faithfully use it to glorify God. You should be faithful in your responsibilities in your local church. You have to be punctual and regular in attending your local church activities - like attending the Sunday school, youth meetings and every spiritual fellowship that the church arranges. When you are faithful in your local church, God will use you to glorify His name in other places. If you are not faithful in the little responsibilities that you are given, then He will not give you more responsibilities. God is looking for those who are faithful in little things so that He can use them for doing great things for Him. The famous words of William Carey were "expect great things from God and attempt great things for God". William was very disciplined and faithful in fulfilling whatever God entrusted him with. Initially, even when he was a poor shoe maker, he was faithful in that job. Therefore God promoted him to greater responsibilities later on.

Dear children, let us be faithful in whatever God has entrusted us with right now. God bless you.

Read: Luke 19:7, Matt. 25:21

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