Malankara World Journal - Christian Spirituality from an Orthodox Perspective
Malankara World Journal

Focus: Great Lent Week 3 - Sin and Healing

Volume 3 No. 126 February 21, 2013

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If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.

Psalm 139:8-10 (NIV)
TABLE OF CONTENTS
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Foreword

An integral part of lent, in addition to prayer and fasting, is alms-giving. Think of these as a three legged stool. You need all the three. ..

Bible Readings for This Sunday (Feb 24)

Third Sunday of Great Lent (Paralytic/Palsy Sunday)

Sermons for This Sunday (Feb 24)

Sermons for the Third Sunday in Great Lent (M'shariyo / Palsy - Paralytic- Sunday

http://www.Malankaraworld.com/Library/Sermons/Sermon-of-the-week_3rd-sunday-in-lent.htm

Message for Lent by His Eminence Yeldho Mor Theethose

May reconciliation and mutual love be the guiding principles of your fasting this year. ..

Featured: Jesus Heals a Paralyzed Man

Reflection on Mark 2:1-12 - This Sunday's Gospel Reading
To us, this is one more proof that Jesus was the Son of God. If an average sinful human being claimed to be able to forgive sins, we would know he was blaspheming. But when a virgin-born, sinless, miracle-working person forgives someone's sins, it's just one more proof of what we would already suspect: God had become a man! ...

A Strange Thing Jesus Said to a Paralyzed Man

God sees things rather differently than we do. There is much to consider the fact that Jesus says to a paralyzed man, "your sins are forgiven." ..

Defend Your Soul Against Sins

Without realizing it, many Christians have allowed Satan to establish strongholds in their lives. One of the greatest hindrances to living a godly life is carnality, which can prevent us from praying and knowing the mind of God. If left unattended, carnality can build power bases of self-centeredness deep within our hearts and minds. ...

Captive No More

Sin is a horrible master, and it finds a willing servant in the human body. Sin wants to dominate you, but the good news is that as a Christian, you don't have to be dominated by sin any longer. ...

How Spiritual Are You? - Restoration From Sin

To be "caught in any transgression" can mean to fall suddenly into sin, like stepping into a bear trap. We didn't mean to get angry, but got into an emotional discussion and next thing lashed out in anger. We didn't intend to lust, then an image presented itself, and we gave into it. ...

Should I Fight or Be Still?

We must fight to keep righteousness in our own lives, refusing choices which lead to sin and death. We must fight for love, which means making really hard choices and overcoming our natural selfish inclinations. We must fight for endurance, keeping promises, covenants, and our integrity in a way worthy of Christ Jesus. Sometimes God calls us to fight, and sometimes he tells us to be still. How can we decipher it? ...

Malankara World Great Lent Supplement

Great Lent is the time for personal reflection, meditation, reconciliation, and prayer. Malankara World has a great resource that helps you accomplish that. We provide you daily reflections, meditations, prayer, bible readings etc. If you had been with us last year, you will find that this year's offering has expanded. Read the articles about how to practice lent. Then do the reading for the day specified. We will guide you week by week. You can find the resources here.

Malankara World Great Lent Supplement http://www.Malankaraworld.com/Library/Lent/Default.htm

Daily Reflections - Bible Readings, reflections and prayers for each day of the week: Week 3 of Great Lent
http://www.Malankaraworld.com/Library/Lent/Lent_week3.htm

Health: Five Grocery Staples for Youth & Vitality

"When people shop on the go, they tend to gravitate toward old standbys and foods they can multipurpose with - usually not the most nutritious choices possible. But by substituting a few items on your list, you can not only look and feel more youthful, you'll boost your resistance to certain cancers and other illnesses." ...

Recipe: Warm and Spicy Salad

A hot favorite from Thailand for your lenten taste buds.

Family Special: Wives, Words can Captivate Your Man

Want a happy marriage with a dream husband? Here are some tips...

Humor: The Pastor's Wife

About Malankara World

Foreword

by Dr. Jacob Mathew, Malankara World

In Great Lent, the Holy Church recalls a miracle performed by Jesus on each of the Sundays. On the first Sunday, we recalled Jesus changing water into wine at the marriage in Cana; last week, we recalled Jesus healing the leper. This Sunday, we will read about Jesus healing the paralyzed person.

These miracles were carefully picked by our church fathers because they teach us something important during the Lent. One simple explanation is that they illustrate different types of prayer. We can pray for ourselves or we can pray for others (intercessional prayer). Let us examine the miracles in this context. In wedding at Cana, St. Mary intercedes on behalf of the hosts. The leper, last week, fell on his face and prayed to Jesus. He prayed for his own healing. In this week's story, four friends carry a paralyzed man to Jesus. So, it is the friends who did the work - they, by their action, interceded to Jesus. Next week, the Canaanite woman intercedes for her daughter. The next two weeks, Jesus initiate the healing for the crippled woman and the blind man. So, God can answer your prayer, He can answer your prayer and help someone, or He can initiate the action Himself.

God likes it when you pray for someone else. That is unconditional love and service, something that is quite pleasing to God. The theme that is running through all these stories is also the fact that the people involved had strong faith in the outcome. They knew that Jesus can do the healing and that he will. For instance, Jesus was reluctant to do anything at Cana. ("My time hasn't come yet.") But St. Mary knew better. She instructed the servants to "do whatever he tells you to do", quite convinced that Jesus will do it. And He did. That is faith! The leper, came from the leper colony, knowing very well that he can get into serious trouble by leaving the isolation colony when he heard that Jesus was coming that way. He fell on his face on the ground and pleaded to Jesus, "Lord, if you want, you can heal me." No question in his mind that Jesus can heal him. The only question was if he would. Again, strong faith. The Canaanite woman had no doubt that Jesus can heal her daughter. She was persistent. Jesus ignored her first; but she would not take no for an answer. She got her prayer answered in the end.

This week's story caps all others. How far four ordinary people will go to help a friend? They knew that Jesus can and will help their friend if somehow they can present him in front of Jesus. The house and surroundings were filled with people. These people won't give up. They manage to climb the narrow stairs with a man in the bed. Digs a hole on the root through several feet thick of baked clay, so that they can lower their friend down in front of Jesus. That is faith, pure unadulterated faith. This is the faith God loves. In this week's issue of Malankara World Journal, we cover another aspect of this miracle most people overlook, viz., sin. A strange thing happened there. Jesus told the man, "son, your sins are forgiven! For the complete healing you have to heal the mind, body and soul. Jesus is the only person who can do all the three. Jesus came to this world to save the sinners. He made it very clear several times in his ministry. Only God can forgive sins; so, Jesus was telling people that he is the second person of trinity with the power to forgive sins. We look at this aspect of this miracle from several angles in today's Journal. I want to go back to faith.

What I love about these stories is that they demonstrate simple faith. It is not complicated, they just believe. Jesus said later, that if you have faith as big as a mustard seed, you can ask a mountain to move and it will. But you need two things: you need faith and you are willing to take action. The leper had faith; he also took the risk in coming to Jesus. The Canaanite woman had faith. She was willing to risk being ridiculed by all and presented herself in front of Jesus and persisted. The four people in today's story had faced major hurdles that would have prompted many of us to turn back. But they found a way. And they succeeded in their goal. St. Paul said, "faith without action is useless." We need both.

When I was young, most of the villages in Kerala had no electricity. We had small kerosene lamps in our houses. I read about an American missionary visiting Kerala. He wrote that what impressed him most was that around 5:30 in the morning, when it was still dark, one by one the lamps will get lit at all the houses in Kumbanad and you can hear the morning prayers. That is simple faith in action.

A Chinese missionary explained the simple faith recently thus:

"Every morning when you wake up, don't get up, just stay in bed and for ten minutes thank God for anything that comes into your mind. It might be the wallpaper, it might be for friends, it might just be for life. Anything. Once you get going, you discover that the world is full of grace...God's grace. With that attitude you are ready to live the day for God because you are overwhelmed at how generous God is to you."

It's so simple, and yet isn't there something in us that finds the simplest activities so hard to keep up? Maybe that is why we pack our lives with an infinite variety of routines and habits. Anything but just continually doing what is simple.

A Vietnamese evangelist said, "We are to stay in the first grade, grateful to Jesus, repentant for our sins, expectant of his coming. Don't graduate or you'll leave the basics behind."

How true! Pope Benedict said a few months ago reiterating the importance of faith, "in Jesus, all the anguish and all the longing of the human heart finds fulfillment". Emphasizing that action should be an integral part of faith, pope said that faith and charity comes side by said. You cannot have one without the other. "Faith helps people recognise the face of Christ in those who are suffering, and it is his love that impels us to assist him whenever he becomes our neighbour along the journey of life."

During this lent, let me remind you that an integral part of lent, in addition to prayer and fasting, is alms-giving. Think of these as a three legged stool. You need all the three. Theethose thirumeni has initiated a project to help the people in Syria who are suffering under the civil war. I hope that we all will help these children of God. Jesus, said, "I was hungry, you fed me; I was naked, you gave me clothes; I was thirsty, you gave me drink. When you do that to any of the little ones, you do that for me." If we don't, who will?

This Sunday in Church
Bible Readings for This Sunday (Feb 24)

Sermons for This Sunday (Feb 24)
This Week's Features

Message for Lent

by His Eminence Yeldho Mor Theethose
Archbishop and Patriarchal Vicar
Malankara Archdiocese of the Syrian Orthodox Church in North America

Dearly beloved in Christ,

We are happy to see that our parishes are providing spiritual nourishment to our faithful under the leadership and guidance of our beloved clergy. As the Great Lent begins, we advise you all to observe the Lent in a meaningful manner, and, in a way that is pleasing to God. Fasting reminds us of our dependence on God, as reminded us by St. James, "that every good and perfect gift comes from above and comes down from the Father of Lights..." (James 1:17). While fasting, let us purify our hearts, sanctify our souls, and defeat all evilness.

As St. John Chrysostom states, "It is folly to abstain all day long from food, if you fail to abstain from sin and selfishness." Also in the Morning Prayer for Monday of Lent, we are reminded that, "Though the Fasting is great, if it is not observed with love, it is futile. If love does not enable its wings, it cannot rise to the presence of the Most High". Hence, may reconciliation and mutual love be the guiding principles of your fasting this year.

As part of the observance of Fasting this year, we wish to raise some funds to support the members of our Holy Church in the Middle East who are suffering with no food, gas or electricity and live in a dreadful and violent situation. We advise each one of you to contribute to this noble cause. The amount collected will be sent to His Holiness, the Patriarch, directly for that purpose.
 

Featured: Jesus Heals a Paralyzed Man

Reflection on Mark 2:1-12 - This Sunday's Gospel Reading

Can you imagine what it would have been like to witness this miracle? Four men brought their paralyzed friend on a pallet to a house where they heard Jesus was staying. Upon arrival, they discovered that the house was jammed with people, and many others were standing outside looking in, blocking all the doors and windows. There was no way to get their friend close to Jesus.

But they would not be discouraged. The roofs of the houses in Capernaum were flat, and many of them had stairs that went from the outside of the house up to the roof. So they carried their paralyzed friend to the roof of the house, dug an opening through the clay, and then lowered him on his pallet by ropes right in front of Jesus. It must have taken a lot of time and effort to dig through the hardened clay roof and caused some commotion inside the house when the clay dust began falling from the ceiling. I wonder what the people inside were thinking as they coughed, wiped dust from their eyes, and watched a hole slowly form in the ceiling above their heads.

What was Jesus thinking then? He was thinking about the faith of the men who were going to so much trouble. The Bible says that it is "impossible to please God without faith" (Hebrews 11:6). Because of their faith, the paralyzed man was forgiven and completely healed within seconds. If they hadn't believed, they would never have gone to so much trouble, and their friend would have remained unforgiven and paralyzed, even though it was obviously God's will for the man to be forgiven and healed.

Why did Jesus first tell the paralyzed man that his sins were forgiven? No one knows for sure, but perhaps the paralyzed man was coming to Jesus both for healing and forgiveness. Certainly being forgiven of sins is even more important than being healed. Or, perhaps the paralyzed man, because of all his sins, had doubts that he would be healed, so Jesus removed his doubts by assuring him of forgiveness. Or, possibly the man had become paralyzed as a direct result of some sin he had committed. In that case, Jesus took care of the cause before giving the cure.

Regardless, when Jesus told him that his sins were forgiven, it caused quite a stir among the religious teachers who were present. They knew that only God could forgive sins, so Jesus was claiming to be God! They thought He was guilty of blasphemy (saying something that was very offensive to God).

Jesus knew what the religious teachers were thinking, so He proved, right before their eyes, that He had the right to forgive sins, also proving His deity. Anyone could pretend to have the authority to forgive sins because there would be no visible result. But no one can convincingly pretend to have authority to heal paralysis, because the result would be plain for everyone to see. When Jesus instantly healed the paralyzed man, it proved He had authority to heal, and it gave credibility to His claim to be able to forgive sins.

To us, this is one more proof that Jesus was the Son of God. If an average sinful human being claimed to be able to forgive sins, we would know he was blaspheming. But when a virgin-born, sinless, miracle-working person forgives someone's sins, it's just one more proof of what we would already suspect: God had become a man!

Q. We read that Jesus actually saw the faith of the four men and their paralyzed friend. How can faith be seen?

A. By actions. The Bible says, "faith is dead without good deeds" (James 2:26). Many people say that they believe in Jesus, but only those who have corresponding actions really do. Sometimes, Christians say they believe certain promises in the Bible, but their contrary actions prove that they really don't.

Q. Just like this man whom Jesus healed, our sins have been forgiven by Jesus. If we truly believe our sins are forgiven, we will act like forgiven people. How do forgiven people act?

A. At the minimum, they would be happy and grateful to God for their forgiveness, and would show their gratitude by obedience to God.

Application:

There has never been another person in history like Jesus. Other people in history may have claimed to forgive sins, but their lives proved they were phony. Any honest person who examines the evidence will be convinced that Jesus was God in the form of a human being.

Source: Family Style Devotions; Used with Permission

A Strange Thing Jesus Said to a Paralyzed Man

by Msgr. Charles Pope, Archdiocese of Washington

The Gospel passage contains a rather peculiar and somewhat awkward moment. Jesus looks at a paralyzed man and says to him, "As for you, your sins are forgiven" (Lk 5:20). What a strange thing to say to a paralyzed man!

The Pharisees and scribes, of course, are all worked up for other reasons, but their reason is not ours. We know that Jesus has the authority to forgive sins. Let us stay focused on the strange thing to say to a paralyzed man, 'your sins are forgiven.'

One of us, modern folks, might be tempted to tap Jesus on the shoulder and say, "Ah excuse me, Lord, this man is paralyzed. His problem is paralysis. That's what he needs healing for."

Of course Jesus is not blind or unintelligent; he knows this. But looking at a paralyzed man, he does not see the paralysis as his most serious problem. The man has a far more serious problem, his sin.

Now most of us, who live in the world, have the world's priorities, and we do not think like this. The Lord sees something more serious than paralysis, and we think, "What can be more serious than paralysis?! "But not as man sees, does God see. For God, the most serious problem we have is our sin. But again, we don't think like this, and even being told we should think like this, we still don't think like this.

For most of us, influenced by the flesh, are far more devastated by the loss of our physical health, or the loss of money, or the loss of a job, or some large worldly asset, than we are by the fact that we have sin. Threaten our physical health and well-being, or one of our larger physical assets, and we're on our knees begging God for help. Yet most human beings have far less concern for their spiritual well-being. More often than not we are not nearly so devastated by sin that can deprive us of eternal life, as we are devastated by the loss of our health or some worldly thing.

Even many of us who have some sense of the spiritual life struggle with this obtuseness, and misplaced sense of priorities. Even in our so-called spiritual life, our prayers are often dominated by concerns that God will fix our health, improve our finances, get us a job, etc. It is not wrong to pray for these things, and we should. But, honestly, how often do we pray to be freed of our sins, do we really and earnestly pray to grow in holiness and to be prepared to see God face-to-face? Sometimes it almost sounds as if we are asking God to make this world more comfortable and we'll just stay here forever. This attitude is an affront to the truer Gifts God is offering.

And so it is that Jesus, looking at a paralyzed man, says to him, your sins are forgiven. In so doing he addresses the man's most serious problem first. Only secondarily does he speak to the man's paralysis, which he almost seems to have overlooked in comparison to the issue of sin.

We have much to learn about how God sees, and what really are the most crucial issues in our life.

Joseph and Mary were told to call the child "Jesus," for he would save his people from their sins. Of this fact Pope Benedict speaks in his latest book, Jesus of Nazareth: The Infancy Narratives:

…Joseph is entrusted with a further task: "Mary will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins" (Matthew 1:21).… On the one hand, a lofty theological task is assigned to the child, for only God can forgive sins. So this child is immediately associated with God, directly linked with God's holy and saving power. On the other hand, though, this definition of the Messiah's mission could appear disappointing. The prevailing expectations of salvation were primarily focused upon Israel's concrete sufferings - on the reestablishment of the kingdom of David, on Israel's freedom and independence, and naturally that included material prosperity for this largely impoverished people. The promise of forgiveness of sins seems both too little and too much: too much, because it trespasses upon God's exclusive sphere; too little, because there seems to be no thought of Israel's concrete suffering or its true need for salvation.

Pope Benedict then cites this same story of the paralytic and says:

Jesus responded [to the presence of the paralyzed man] in a way that was quite contrary to the expectation of the bearers and the sick man himself, saying: "My son, your sins are forgiven" (Mark 2:5). This was the last thing anyone was expecting; this was the last thing they were concerned about.…

The Pope concludes:

Man is a relational being. And if his first, fundamental relationship is disturbed - his relationship with God - then nothing else can be truly in order. This is where the priority lies in Jesus' message and ministry: before all else he wants to point man toward the essence of his malady.

Yes, God sees things rather differently than we do. There is much to consider the fact that Jesus says to a paralyzed man, "your sins are forgiven."

Defend Your Soul Against Sins

By Michael Youssef, Ph.D.

Without realizing it, many Christians have allowed Satan to establish strongholds in their lives. One of the greatest hindrances to living a godly life is carnality, which can prevent us from praying and knowing the mind of God. If left unattended, carnality can build power bases of self-centeredness deep within our hearts and minds.

When we study God's Word, we quickly discover that prayer is instrumental in dissolving carnality and the desires that go with it. In fact, prayer is the primary key to uncovering and pulling down every stronghold Satan seeks to establish in the life of a believer.

In the Greek translation, the word stronghold literally means "fortress." In other words, the enemy of our souls seeks to set up a fortress within our lives to prevent us from discovering God's will and from living for Jesus Christ. For example, worry and fear are emotions each of us has experienced. When these become obsessions, we quickly realize that a stronghold has been established. Uncontrollable lust, hate, anger, and bitterness are strongholds that can lead us further from God's will for our lives.

However, we are not without a strong defense. There is hope because we have been given a powerful weapon. Prayer equips us for spiritual victory. Therefore, we do not have to battle against an enemy greater than we are. God fights for us through prayer. As evidence of this, read what Paul has written to us in 2 Corinthians 10:3-6.

Our weapons are not carnal; they are not of the flesh. They are supernatural and powerful, able to tear down the dark fortresses of the enemy. Don't hesitate to call out to your heavenly Father who loves you with an unconditional love.

Prayer:

Father, search my heart and show me any strongholds in my life. Please grant me the strength to demolish them, so that nothing will hinder my testimony for you. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.

"For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds"
(2 Corinthians 10:3-4).

Source: My Devotional; © 2012 Leading The Way

Captive No More

by Greg Laurie

Is there a certain sin that seems to have a foothold in your life? And does it almost seem as though the sin is getting more and more powerful each month, each year, and tragically, each decade? Do you wonder if you ever will gain victory over it? Or worse, are you beginning to wonder if you are really a Christian?

Sin is a horrible master, and it finds a willing servant in the human body. Sin wants to dominate you, but the good news is that as a Christian, you don't have to be dominated by sin any longer. The Bible says, "For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin" (Romans 6:6 NIV). There is a part of us that is drawn to the holy things of God, and there is a part of us that can still be drawn to the unholy things of this world. We all have that struggle. It is almost shocking, especially if you have been a believer for many years, that there still can be an attraction to sinful things.

Here is what we need to remember: We will never get to a point where we are temptation-proof. But I do think we can get to a point where sin will not be so alluring. It comes with growing deeply in our faith, learning more about Jesus, and being so enraptured with His love that we see this world for what it is. I think the classic hymn says it well: "Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in His wonderful face, and the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace."

To overcome sin, we need to know, we need to reckon, and we need to yield. Romans 6:11 says, "Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord" (NKJV).

To know has to do with the mind, and it is implied in the phrase, "likewise you also." These three words refer back to the truths in Romans 6:1–10. The apostle Paul laid the groundwork, showing us that we are no longer under the jurisdiction of sin, and it no longer has a rightful claim over our lives as children of God. For Christians to live out the fullness of their new lives in Christ, they must realize what God has done for them. We are not merely remodeled sinners; we are remade saints.

To reckon focuses on the heart. The word "reckon" used in Romans 6:11 means "to take into account," or "to count as true." Reckoning is not acting as if it were so; it is acting because it is so. Reckoning is not claiming a promise as much as it is acting on a fact. God does not command us to be dead to sin. Rather, He tells us that we are dead to sin and alive to God. Then He commands us to act on it. And even if we don’t act on it, it is still true.

To yield deals primarily with the will. Romans 6:13 tells us, "And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God" (NKJV). The word "present" means, "to give into." God is saying, "Yield to Me. Present yourself to Me." Each and every day, we are to present ourselves to God. Think of those in the Bible who presented their lives and their bodies to God and how powerfully they were used. For example, a sling in David's hand defeated the Philistines. Paul's dedicated feet took him from city to city to proclaim the gospel. John's eyes saw visions of the future, his ears heard God's message, and his fingers wrote it all down in the Book of Revelation. It is your choice to what and to whom you are going to yield yourself. And it is an intelligent decision to base your actions on what God has said in His Word.

You have more than enough power to live this Christian life. You have the righteousness purchased by Christ with His own blood. So start taking hold of what God has already given you. Live in the newness of life for which Jesus gave His own.

Source: A New Beginning by Greg Laurie, Harvest Ministries

How Spiritual Are You? - Restoration From Sin

by Mark Altrogge

How do you know if someone's spiritual?

If he quotes Bible verses, sports Christian t-shirts or plasters his bumpers with rapture stickers? If she has visions or utters long, flowery prayers? If he can find the book of Habakkuk within 30 seconds? (Now that's really spiritual).

Apparently some in Galatia thought they were spiritual, perhaps for their law-keeping, so Paul set them straight:

Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. (Galatians 6.1).

Spiritual people restore sinners with gentleness.

To be "caught in any transgression" can mean to fall suddenly into sin, like stepping into a bear trap. We didn't mean to get angry, but got into an emotional discussion and next thing lashed out in anger. We didn't intend to lust, then an image presented itself, and we gave into it.

Being "caught in any transgression" can also mean we've become enslaved by a habitual sin.

How do we react at finding brothers or sisters ensnared by sin? Do we look down on them in disgust or judge them? When our children blow it do we shake our heads and say, "What were you thinking?" (This was one of my parents' favorite questions when I was a kid. Obviously, I wasn't thinking anything.) Do we gasp in disbelief, "How could you do this?" or bludgeon them with, "After all I've done for you…"

How would you respond if a brother confided to you he was enslaved to pornography? Or if your daughter confessed she was pregnant? What would you do if you caught your teenager lying?

Think how Jesus spoke to the woman caught in adultery - he didn't condemn or grimace in disgust, but restored her gently and compassionately. He didn't ask "How in the world could you be so unfaithful?" but said, "I don't condemn you. Go and sin no more." I'm sure one of the reasons society's outcasts were attracted to Jesus was they knew how gently he dealt with sinners.

I want my fellow sinners, whether friends or family, to feel they can confide their temptations and sins with me, knowing I'll seek to gently restore them to Jesus. After all, it might be me confessing next time.

Source: theblazingcenter.com

Should I Fight or Be Still?

by Debbie Wright, Crosswalk.com Family Editor

You have commanded your precepts to be kept diligently. Oh that my ways may be steadfast in keeping your statutes! (Psalm 119:4-5)

Do you often find yourself confused, unsure of how to best live according to God’s will? This is a struggle for me. Should I speak or stay silent? Will this action offend or edify? Is this a time for action or inaction? Should I fight? Or should I stay still?

Though every situation is different and every person unique, the Bible paints both stillness and action as pleasing to the LORD, depending on the variables at hand.

One example is when the Israelites were fleeing from Pharaoh and the Egyptians. The LORD had fought for them in Egypt by displaying horrors and miracles through Aaron and Moses. Finally their oppressors relented and the Israelites were free - but not for long. Pharaoh changed his mind, and Exodus tells the account of their suspenseful chase after the newly freed slaves. "What have you done to us?" the people cried to Moses (Exodus 14:11). They knew there was nothing they could do to protect themselves from the mighty King of Egypt.

But then God made his will known through Moses. No, the Israelites would not be able to defeat Pharaoh.

But the LORD did not ask them to.

"The LORD will fight for you," Moses proclaimed. "You need only to be still."

But there are other times, are there not? Times when we have the choice to stretch out our hands to either right or wrong, and there is no in-between. Paul writes to Timothy,

"But you, man of God…pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith" (1 Timothy 6:11-12).

Sometimes we must fight. And make no mistake; this is not a direct call to fist-fights or military service. It is a direct command to use the Armor of God. We must fight to keep righteousness in our own lives, refusing choices which lead to sin and death. We must fight for love, which means making really hard choices and overcoming our natural selfish inclinations. We must fight for endurance, keeping promises, covenants, and our integrity in a way worthy of Christ Jesus.

Sometimes God calls us to fight, and sometimes he tells us to be still. How can we decipher it?

Sometimes it will be hard. But from these passages, I would risk saying that God knows when we are facing a foe that’s too big for us. Sometimes we ache and long to fight, but we know the battle is beyond us, out of our hands. It is those times we must remember that God is a God of the weak, the poor, and the broken. The LORD will fight for you. You need only to be still.

Other times we can and must fight. When we are faced with injustice, and we have some measure of control, we must fight for the small ones. When we are faced with personal crises, we must fight for our children, parents, marriages, relationships, churches – not against them. We must use every weapon in our spiritual arsenals to build the Kingdom of God and protect it from the ever-watchful forces of darkness. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance. Fight the good fight.

Intersecting Faith and Life:

What are you struggling with now in your life, or your walk with the LORD? Spend some time in prayer to see whether God wants you to fight, or lay down your weapons and give the battle to him.

Further Reading:

  • Ephesians 6:10-20
  • Exodus 14
  • Hebrews 12:3-17

Source: Crosswalk the Devotional

Malankara World Great Lent Supplement

Great Lent is the time for personal reflection, meditation, reconciliation, and prayer. Malankara World has a great resource that helps you accomplish that. We provide you daily reflections, meditations, prayer, bible readings etc. If you had been with us last year, you will find that this year's offering has expanded. Read the articles about how to practice lent. Then do the reading for the day specified. We will guide you week by week. You can find the resources here:

Malankara World Great Lent Supplement http://www.Malankaraworld.com/Library/Lent/Default.htm

Week 3 of Great Lent
http://www.Malankaraworld.com/Library/Lent/Lent_week3.htm

Daily Meditations and Bible Reading:

Day 14 - Feb 24 - Third Sunday of the Great Lent

Day 15 - Feb 25 - Third Monday of the Great Lent

Day 16 - Feb 26 - Third Tuesday of the Great Lent

Day 17 - Feb 27 - Third Wednesday of the Great Lent

Day 18 - Feb 28 - Third Thursday of the Great Lent

Day 19 - Mar 1 - Third Friday of the Great Lent

Day 20- Mar 2 - Third Saturday of the Great Lent

Bible Readings for Week 3 of the Great Lent

Health Tip: Five Grocery Staples for Youth & Vitality
Next Time You Stop at the Store, Pick Up These Tasty, Nutrition-packed Foods, Physician Advises

It's the question we ask ourselves almost every day: What's for dinner?

Entwined in this daily dialogue is wondering whether we'll need to dash into the grocery store on the way home from work. The next time we make one of those supermarket pit stops, Dr. Eudene Harry, author of "Live Younger in 8 Simple Steps," (www.LivingHealthyLookingYounger.com), would like us to veer in a new direction.

"When people shop on the go, they tend to gravitate toward old standbys and foods they can multipurpose with - usually not the most nutritious choices possible. But by substituting a few items on your list, you can not only look and feel more youthful, you'll boost your resistance to certain cancers and other illnesses."

Some of the most nutrition-packed foods not only taste great, they're readily available at the grocery store and easy to prepare, Harry says.

"The more you eat, the more you'll crave them."

Here are five food combos for shoppers with healthy eating on their minds:

• Tomato, garlic, chicken and almonds: Tomatoes contain one of the world's most concentrated sources of cancer-fighting lycopene, which is best absorbed from tomatoes that are cooked. Garlic has been used for centuries for various health purposes and is a known free-radical destroyer. Nuts help to lose weight, maintain healthy blood pressure and support moods; almond crumbs are a great substitute for bread crumbs on chicken. Pair these goodies with whole wheat couscous for a full dinner.

• Pomegranate-Balsamic tempeh: With its high protein, fiber and isoflavones content, and meaty texture, tempeh is heavily utilized by vegetarians. It's made from soybeans processed in a manner similar to cheese making. Like tofu, tempeh takes on the flavors with which it is cooked or marinated, including zesty-tangy balsamic vinegar - perfect for accentuating salads.

• Mashed cauliflower gone Greek: Not only does the "original" yogurt have a thicker texture and richer taste, it's also denser in lactobacilli, the healthy bacteria that may delay the onset of cancer. And yogurt is low in fat and high in protein, which is essential for many body functions, including building and repairing muscle tissue, organs, bones and connective tissue. Rather than add fatty, cholesterol-filled butter and sour cream to starchy potatoes that stick to your ribs, why not pair two healthy options with mashed cauliflower with Greek yogurt and fresh black pepper for simple goodness?

• Sushi - wild salmon, minced cucumbers, shredded carrots, kelp, sesame seeds and rice: A sushi roll is much more filling and satisfying than a non-sushi eater would think. Many grocery chains offer ready-made rolls, but they are also fairly easy to make. A bamboo roller is a great start; place a sheet of nutrient-dense kelp as the first thing on the roller, and add, lengthwise, desired ingredients. Your first try is not likely to be perfect, but the tasty and healthy ingredients will be there.

• Fruit salad for dessert: Bring together chopped apples, strawberries, cantaloupe, watermelon and pineapple with blueberries and grapes for a sweet and juicy post-dinner palate-cleanser. Lemon juice prevents fruits from bruising. If that's not enough, combine the salad with Greek yogurt - perhaps blended with vanilla or almond extract - and fiber-filled granola for a parfait.

About Eudene Harry, M.D.

Dr. Eudene Harry holds a bachelor's in biology from New York University and completed both her medical degree and residency training at Thomas Jefferson University. Currently the medical director for the integrative and holistic Oasis Wellness and Rejuvenation Center, she has practiced medicine for nearly 20 years, is board certified in both emergency and holistic medicine, and for more than a decade practiced emergency medicine as an attending physician in Level II trauma centers. In 2005 she opened Oasis for Optimal Health, a private practice focused on integrative, holistic wellness and empowering and educating the patient.

Recipe: Warm and Spicy Salad
If you love hot foods, you should try this salad from Thailand. Who says Lenten Season cannot be fun?

Ingredients:

4 tbsp oil
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 chawa chilies, seeded and sliced
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp turmeric
1 red onion, cut into thin wedges
1 small red bell pepper, seeded and cut into thin strips
6 oz okra, trimmed and lightly pricked with a fork
1-1/2 cups peeled, seeded and chopped tomatoes
1-1/2 cups wiped and sliced oyster mushrooms
1 tbsp freshly chopped cilantro
sour cream, to serve

Directions:

Heat the oil in a wok or large pan and stir-fry the garlic and chilies gently for 2 minutes. Add the spices and stir-fry for a further 1 minute.

Increase the heat slightly, then add the onion and pepper and cook for 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the okra, chopped tomatoes and mushrooms and stir-fry for a further 3 minutes, or until the vegetables are cooked but still retain a bite.

Stir in the chopped cilantro and serve on individual plates, topped with spoonfuls of sour cream.

Yield: Serves 4

Source: Gina Steer, "The Great Chili Pepper Cookbook"

Family Special: Wives, Words can Captivate Your Man

by Sharon Jaynes

"A wife of noble character, who can find? She is worth far more than rubies,"
(Proverbs 31:10).

Today, I want you to use your imagination. I want you to imagine your husband sitting at his desk or at a quiet place at work. Imagine him lost in thought about how blessed he is to have you as his wife. He holds your framed picture in his hand and moisture begins to pool in his eyes. He is captivated.

All the riches in the world are not to be compared with the jewel I have in this woman, he muses. What did I ever do to deserve her? God has given me such a gift. All our married life, she has done nothing but love me, bring out the best in me, and look out for my best interest. All the guys at the office are envious of our relationship. I see the way their eyes soften when she comes by just to tell me hello, grabs my hand when we're at office functions, or pecks me on the cheek for no apparent reason. I notice that her loving words to me are in stark contrast to some of the cutting remarks of other wives…and so do my friends. I look around at the accomplishments of my life, but having this woman as my wife is my greatest. Oh sure, there are many women out there in the world who are accomplishing great feats, but my wife…well, she surpasses them all.

What a picture! That's the woman I want to be, don't you? And amazingly my words can be the determining factor as to whether this scenario is possible or not. Did you know that there are words your husband longs to hear? Let me give you a few from my book, The Power of a Woman's Words.

Words Your Husband Longs to Hear

I've been thinking about you all day.
What can I do for you today?
How can I pray for you today?
The best part of my day is when you come home.
You are one of God's most precious gifts to me.
You are so wonderful.
You look so handsome today.
I don't feel complete without you.
I will always love you.
I trust your decisions.

Today, pick just one of these phrases. Try it out on your husband and watch his eyes light up! When you love your husband well, God says "Well done, my good and faithful servant!"

Let's Pray

Dear LORD, thank you for giving me the gift of my husband. Help me to never forget that one of the greatest places of ministry is in the home, and that You are well pleased when I love my husband well. Help me to love my husband with my words and my actions today.
In Jesus' Name,
Amen.

Now It's Your Turn

Just as there are words that your husband longs to hear, there are words he doesn't. I don't think God looks at us and says "Well done," when these words come out of our mouths. Here are just a few:

I told you so.
You're always in a bad mood.
You just don't think.
It's all your fault.
What's wrong with you?
All you ever do is complain.
I can't do anything to please you.
You made your bed, now lie in it.
You should have thought about that before.
You never listen to me.

Now, go back up the list in the devotion. Which list more reflects the words that you speak to your husband?

Which list do you want to reflect the words that you speak to your husband?

Is there anything you need to do to change?

Source: Girlfriends in God, Bible Gateway

Humor: The Pastor's Wife
On Christmas afternoon, the Pastor's wife dropped into an easy chair saying,
"Boy! Am I ever tired."

Her husband (the Pastor) looked over at her & said,
"I had to conduct two special services last night, three today, & give a total of five sermons. Why are you so tired?"

"Dearest," she replied, "I had to listen to all of them."

About Malankara World
With over 6000 articles and hundreds of links to outside resources covering all aspects of Syriac Orthodoxy that are of interest to Family, Malankara World is the premier source for information for Malankara Diaspora. In addition to articles on spirituality, faith, sacraments, sermons, devotionals, etc., Malankara World also has many general interest articles, health tips, Food and Cooking, Virtual Travel, and Family Specific articles. Please visit Malankara World by clicking here or cut and paste the link on your browser: http://www.MalankaraWorld.com/Library/default.htm

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