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

Theme: Discipleship - Challenges and Sacrifice

Volume 4 No. 224 June 20, 2014

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Malankara World Journal
TABLE OF CONTENTS
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1. Bible Readings for This Sunday (June 22)

2. Sermons for This Sunday (June 22)

Sermons For the Second Sunday After Pentecost

http://www.Malankaraworld.com/Library/Sermons/Sermon-of-the-week_2nd-sunday-after-Pentecost.htm

3. Inspiration for Today: Two Kinds of Peace

There are two kinds of peace: experiential and judicial. Experiential peace (Philippians 4:7) is the day-to-day existence a believer can have -- or forfeit. ...

4. Cost of Discipleship

What does it mean to be a disciple of Jesus Christ? In the first three centuries of Christianity's existence, following Jesus often quite literally entailed the kinds of conflicts that are delineated in today's gospel lesson. It could mean alienation from one's family; for Matthew's community in particular, it meant alienation from "members of one's own household" (Mt 10:36), i. e., one's fellow Jews who could not accept Jesus as bringing the law to fulfillment. Once systematic persecution by the Roman empire set in, the decision to be a Christian became a life-threatening one. It was a choice not entered into lightly. ...

5. Battle Your Heart to Keep Jesus First

"Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword" (Matthew 10:34 NIV), Jesus said. For Jesus wages total war against the prince of this world, the enemy far worse than any Hitler or Kamikaze pilot. And you, dear friends, are on the front lines of this war. You could find a kind of peace by appeasing the prince of this world and surrendering to him. Or you could keep on following Jesus, though it is a daily battle of conflict and lose. ...

6. Discipleship, Conflict and Peace

Those Christians who loudly proclaim the church's endorsement of "family values" must surely have difficulty with this Sunday's gospel text, " I have come to set a man against his own father, and a daughter against her mother. Anyone who loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me." This harsh teaching complements in difficulty the story of the sacrifice of Isaac, found in the Old Testament. Anyone who loves a son or daughter more than God is evidently not worthy, either. ...

7. You Can Do This

Christians can sometime have the same problem when it comes to their faith. We keep telling ourselves we are not ready, that we need just a little more time to prepare ourselves. We underestimate our ability to be of service to God. Take a moment to read this excerpt from the book of Acts. ...

8. Whom Will You Serve?

We must make a choice. God has chosen to save all men, but not everyone will come to Him. Those who do will immediately be saved and will spend eternity enjoying the love and intimate devotion of our Heavenly Father. Those who don't will spend an eternity separated from Him. ...

9. Our Readiness When God Calls

When God speaks, many of us are like people in a fog, and we give no answer. Moses' reply to God revealed that he knew where he was and that he was ready. Readiness means having a right relationship to God and having the knowledge of where we are. We are so busy telling God where we would like to go. Yet the man or woman who is ready for God and His work is the one who receives the prize when the summons comes. ...

10. Recipe: Mutton Korma

A great North Indian delicacy.

11. Family Special: Confirmed by Others

As we mature in our natural and spiritual lives, God uses our parents, teachers, uncles, coaches and priests to affirm the gifts and callings that are on our lives. At the time, it often seems like these people are trying to get in the way of what we want to do. However, God uses authority figures to provide key direction during the early teen and twenty-something years. He is using these people to help guide us to the ultimate destiny He has for our lives. ...

12. About Malankara World

This Sunday in Church
Bible Readings for This Sunday (June 22)
 

Sermons for This Sunday (June 22)
This Week's Features

Inspiration for Today: Two Kinds of Peace
Hiroo Onoda was an Imperial Japanese Army officer who remained at his jungle post on an island in the Philippines for an astonishing 29 years, refusing to believe that World War II was over.

Mr. Onoda spent three decades in hiding, not experiencing the peace that had come from his country's surrender.

There are two kinds of peace: experiential and judicial. Experiential peace (Philippians 4:7) is the day-to-day existence a believer can have -- or forfeit.

Judicial peace is standing before God and being declared righteous, because Jesus paid the price for our crimes. The war with God is over (Romans 5:1), whether or not we acknowledge it.

Are you like Mr. Onoda? Or have you accepted the peace of God, through His Son, Jesus?

-- Anonymous

"Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us." - Romans 5:1 

Cost of Discipleship

by Dennis E. Tamburello

Scripture: Matthew 10:34-42

What does it mean to be a disciple of Jesus Christ? In the first three centuries of Christianity's existence, following Jesus often quite literally entailed the kinds of conflicts that are delineated in today's gospel lesson. It could mean alienation from one's family; for Matthew's community in particular, it meant alienation from "members of one's own household" (Mt 10:36), i. e., one's fellow Jews who could not accept Jesus as bringing the law to fulfillment. Once systematic persecution by the Roman empire set in, the decision to be a Christian became a life-threatening one. It was a choice not entered into lightly.

The "cost" of discipleship has been conceived in a number of different ways over the course of our history. That cost certainly seemed to go down after Christianity was tolerated by Rome and ultimately was declared to be the official state religion. One of the great tragedies of Christian history is that the church, now generally free from the threat of persecution, became a persecutor itself (especially of Jews).

Partly in reaction to the laxity that had set in after toleration, certain Christians decided to remove themselves from the mainstream of society to live the gospel more intensely. Some were hermits or solitaries; many more came to live as members of formal religious communities, both monastic and apostolic.

Unfortunately, this led to a bifurcation of the notion of discipleship. Although the medieval church declared marriage a sacrament, thus recognizing it as a way of life that gave witness to God's active presence in the world, it also tended to value formal religious life more highly. To live according to the "evangelical counsels" of poverty, chastity (here understood as celibacy) and obedience was to follow a more perfect way. Even now, the Roman Catholic Code of Canon Law continues to speak of members of religious institutes as "following Christ more closely" and "totally dedicated to God" (see Canon 573, Code of Canon Law, trans. Canon Law Society of America, Washington, DC, 1983, p. 573). One might legitimately ask: are not all Christians called to follow Christ as closely as possible and be totally dedicated to God?

The reformers of the sixteenth century rejected the medieval understanding and tipped the balance in the other direction, exalting marriage as the primary or even as the only legitimate context for serving God, and denigrating religious orders as nothing more than bastions of corruption and works-righteousness that perverted the meaning of baptism.

Today's gospel text itself may seem, at first glance, almost to favor a celibate existence, as when Jesus says, "Whoever loves father and mother more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me." (Mt 10:37, NRSV). But Jesus was not against the family, as can be seen in texts like Mt 15:3-6 and 19:3-12. The last verse of this latter pericope speaks of those who have "made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven." This verse at least defends the legitimacy of choosing a celibate life as a powerful way of witnessing to the priority of the reign of God.

The real issue is precisely this: whether we are willing to put Jesus and the reign of God ahead of all other priorities. Today, most theologians share the view that all Christians are called to the fullness of discipleship. This discipleship can take many different forms, and there is no need to label one form as inherently "better" than another. In every age, there have been people who have taken discipleship with the utmost seriousness. They may have been married, single, or members of religious orders; but what they had in common was a surpassing desire to love and follow Jesus in all things.

The letter to the Romans reminds us that our relationship with Jesus is rooted in the gift of faith (see especially Romans 3-5). Jesus does speak of the "rewards" of discipleship at the end of today's lesson, but we should not understand this in the sense of good works laying claim to salvation. It is better to say, as Augustine did, that God chooses to crown as merits what in fact are his own gifts. The sixteenth-century reformers could accept this kind of formulation, as can be seen in this statement from Calvin's Institutes: "Yet those good works which [God] has bestowed on us the Lord calls 'ours,' and testifies that they not only are acceptable to him but also will have their reward" (McNeill-Battles translation, Philadelphia: Westminster, 1960, 3.15.3, vol. 1, p. 790).

Being a true disciple of Jesus in the twentieth century can be just as dangerous as it was for the early Christians. Disciples of Jesus have lost their lives for trying to protect Jewish brothers and sisters during the Nazi Holocaust; Christian missionaries have been murdered in third-world countries because they have dared to stand up for the rights of the poor and the oppressed. Most of us will not be asked to pay the ultimate price for our discipleship. Nevertheless, all of us must answer the question of how dedicated we will be to our life with God.

Source: Sermon Mall

Battle Your Heart to Keep Jesus First

by Gregg Bitter

Gospel: Matthew 10:34-42

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. The Word from God through which the Holy Spirit points us to Jesus is Matthew 10

[Jesus said,] "Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword. For I came to divide a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. A man's enemies will be his own family members.

"Whoever loves father or mother above me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter above me is not worthy of me. Whoever does not receive his cross and follow after me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life because of me will find it.

"Whoever welcomes you welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. Whoever welcomes a prophet in the prophet's name will receive a prophet's reward. Whoever welcomes a righteous man in the righteous man's name will receive a righteous man's reward. And whoever give one of these little ones even just a cup of cold water in a disciple's name, truly I say to you, he will certainly not lose his reward." (Matthew 10:34-42)

Dear friends in Christ:

There could have been peace instead of war in 1939. Great Britain and France could have just let Hitler have Poland. That had worked the year before when they let Hitler have part of Czechoslovakia, and British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain returned from Munich declaring "peace for our time."

There could have been peace instead of war in December 1941 if the United States had just let Japan do what they pleased, instead of labeling December 7 as "a date which will live in infamy." So what if they bombed Pearl Harbor?

World War II could have been avoided if the rest of the world would have let Hitler and the Empire of Japan keep on taking as much as they wanted. There could have been peace. But not the kind of peace we would want to live under.

"Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword" (Matthew 10:34 NIV), Jesus said. For Jesus wages total war against the prince of this world, the enemy far worse than any Hitler or Kamikaze pilot. And you, dear friends, are on the front lines of this war. You could find a kind of peace by appeasing the prince of this world and surrendering to him. Or you could keep on following Jesus, though it is a daily battle of conflict and lose. Yet the distant triumph-song of heavenly peace rings out from the empty Easter tomb. So battle on, dear Christians, battle on. Battle your heart to keep Jesus first. That's our theme, our military cadence, today. Battle your heart to keep Jesus first.

A. Though bombarded by conflict and loss

1. Why does placing Jesus before family cause conflict?

In this battle you are bombarded by conflict and loss. That's part one. Jesus puts it all out in front of us. He's not like a recruiter who paints a rosy picture of national honor, military glory, and exciting world travel to get you to sign up.

Jesus has told his disciples that they will face persecution and now he explains why. "Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn 'a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law -- a man's enemies will be the members of his own household'" (Matthew 10:34-36 NIV).

The world can tolerate many different religions, but it cannot tolerate Jesus and his followers. They are enemies. Why? Because Jesus condemns the world's power. Because he claims to be the only Savior. Because anyone outside of Jesus is lost and damned. You see, all other religions give some credit to the power of humanity. But the Christian faith confesses: "I cannot by my own thinking or choosing believe in Jesus Christ, my Lord, or come to him" (Luther's Small Catechism, The Third Article). The world wants the different religions working together recognizing that each one has contributions to make. But the Christian faith confesses Jesus alone as the only Savior, without any help from anyone else. And those two truths together, namely, that we're powerless to save ourselves and that only Jesus saves, means that those who do not believe in Jesus are lost. The world will not put up with that kind of exclusiveness. So the world hates Jesus and his followers

Even those closest family bonds are cut apart by the world's sword of hatred against Christians. It turns son against father, daughter against mother. What conflict! It brings us to the point of saying, "Wouldn't it be better to compromise a little bit in our faith to keep peace in the family? Hasn't God given us our family and told us to love each other?"

Yes, God holds family in high regard, but not higher than he is. Compromising faith in Jesus for the sake of family puts family before Jesus. Family becomes first instead of Jesus. Listen to Jesus dire warning against that: "Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me" (Matthew 10:37, 38 NIV). How clearly those words speak! To place family before Jesus is to make family our God. "You shall have no other gods before me," the Lord God declares. "We should fear, love, and trust in God above all things" (Luther's Small Catechism, The First Commandment). Above all things includes family.

What a battle in our hearts to place Jesus first before family! Our natural affections draw us to our family. From the world without and from our hearts within we are bombarded to place family first. What a blessing when a family shares the true faith and supports each other in it, when we don't need to choose between family or Jesus! But when it comes to either keeping family peace or following Jesus, there is only one right answer. What a battle when following Jesus and holding to his truth alone earns us the anger and rejection of family members! How heavy the conflict that bombards us! How tempting to compromise God's truth to keep family peace! But that's loving family more than Jesus. Remember his words: "I did not come to bring peace, but a sword (Matthew 10:34 NIV). Anyone who loves family more than me is not worthy of me.

2. What is a cross?

But it's not just with family that placing Jesus first can become a battle in our hearts. For, battling to keep Jesus first brings suffering, sacrifice, and lose in so many areas dear to our hearts. Just as soldiers risk great lose under bombardment from the enemy, so also in following Jesus. He says, "Anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me" (Matthew 10:38 NIV). When Jesus talks about the cross, he's not referring to the troubles, disasters, pains, and diseases that believers and unbelievers likewise suffer. You don't have any choice in bearing those things. They come because of the sinful world we live in. And crosses are certainly not the troubles or pains we bring on ourselves by disobeying God's commands.

Rather a cross is a hardship or sacrifice that you could avoid. How? By compromising God's truth, hiding Jesus, demoting him in your heart. Yes, crosses are the troubles, pains, hardships, sacrifices, and loses that come only because we follow Jesus. Demote him from first place and the crosses would disappear. How tempting to do that to gain superficial peace! But Jesus did not bring that kind of peace. Heed his warning, "Whoever finds his life will lose it"(Matthew 10:39 NIV). Compromising Jesus to avoid the crosses for a better earthly life loses eternity for you.

Yet even though bombarded by conflict and lose as you keep Jesus first, yes even if you lose everything, even your family's love and life itself, even if you lose everything for following Jesus with your cross, take heart, dear Christian friend. Eternal life is still yours. " . . . and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it"(Matthew 10:39 NIV), Jesus promises. Martin Luther confessed: "And take they our life, Goods, fame, child, and wife, Let these all be gone, They yet have nothing won; The kingdom ours remaineth" (The Lutheran Hymnal, "A Mighty Fortress Is Our God" 262:4). Battle your heart to keep Jesus first.

What wonderful promises like that Jesus makes as we follow him, listening to his voice, holding to his truth, keeping him first! His promises brace us against all that the world may bombard us with, which brings us to part two.

B. Braced with God's gracious promises

1. What does it mean to receive the apostles?

Battle your heart to keep Jesus first, braced with God's gracious promises. First, consider whose side you're on. In World War II France was overrun by Germany. Only with the other allies, Britain, the Soviet Union, and the United States was France retaken. As you battle to keep Jesus first, remember who is your ally. Jesus told his disciples that those who received them and their message received Jesus. He said, "He who receives you receives me" (Matthew 10:40 NIV), and then he added, "he who receives me receives the one who sent me" (Matthew 10:40 NIV), namely, God the Father.

Still today the testimony of the apostles sounds out from the Scriptures. You have received it, that is, you have heard it and welcomed it into your heart. You believe it and put it into practice. You have received the apostles' testimony, so you have received Jesus, who says to you, "he who receives me receives the one who sent me" (Matthew 10:40 NIV). You are on the side of God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. In God you are braced to battle on keeping Jesus first.

2. What does Jesus mean by reward?

Next Jesus talks about reward. Keep in mind that rewards from God are never merited as something God owes us but come as a free gift from his grace. Jesus brought this home at another time with a short story. Suppose you had a slave plowing the fields. Now when that slave came in, would you say, "Sit down and I'll get you some food"? Rather wouldn't a slave be told, "You, wait on me first and then see to your own food"? Would such a master thank a slave for doing only what he's told? Then Jesus concluded, "So also you, when you have done all that was commanded of you, say, 'We are worthless slaves. We have done only what we ought to have done'" (Luke 17:10).

But what a gracious God we have! Even though we are unworthy slaves, he rewards us out of the bounty of his grace. Listen to what Jesus says here, "Anyone who receives a prophet because he is a prophet will receive a prophet's reward, and anyone who receives a righteous man because he is a righteous man will receive a righteous man's reward"(Matthew 10:41 NIV).

A prophet faithfully proclaims God's word. A righteous person believes God's Word. For you see, no one is righteous before God based on their own work and effort. The only righteousness that stands up before God is the perfect righteousness of Jesus Christ. A sinner, like or me, is righteous only when God freely credits us with Jesus' righteousness. That's exactly what God's Word promises. Faith believes this promise. So a righteous person is one who believes God's word of promise. The Apostle Paul put it this way in Romans 4: "To the man who . . . trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness" (Romans 4:5 NIV).

So when you welcome someone who is faithfully proclaiming God's Word because he is bringing you that word like the prophets of old, then you will receive a prophet's reward. When you welcome a fellow believer because they are righteous before God through faith in Jesus Christ, you will receive a righteous man's reward.

What is a prophet's reward? What is the reward of the righteous?Not earthly pleasantness or goods or fame or power or health or wealth. In fact welcoming a prophet or a righteous man may well cost you those things as we talked about before with taking up your cross and losing your life for Jesus' sake. Rather this gracious reward includes the deep assurance that God's Word is faithful and true. He will keep his promises no matter what. It includes the spiritual peace that rests in Jesus and his righteousness, confident that your sins are forgiven, sure that you, dear Christian, are reconciled to God through Jesus' death. That's the real peace the angels sang of when they proclaimed at Jesus' birth: "Peace on earth, good will toward men." The reward includes the strength to stand up for Jesus, braced with God's gracious promises, not a strength that relies on your inner power, but a strength that gives up on our natural power and looks only to the power the Holy Spirit works in us through God's Word and Sacraments.

3. What's the final peace God's promise bring us?

And we could go on talking about how God rewards his people with other spiritual blessings and gifts such as joy, love, patience, perseverance, knowledge, insight, wisdom, discernment, kindness, service, leadership, generosity, hospitality and so on. But let's wrap in up with the last verse, "And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is my disciple, I tell you the truth, he will certainly not lose his reward" (Matthew 10:42 NIV). These words take my mind to the Last Day as all people stand before the King, Jesus Christ, and he says to his believers, "Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink . . . I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me" (Matthew 25:34, 35, 40 NIV). What an inheritance awaits you! Could there be any greater gift or reward of grace? That final peace will never be disturbed. No earthly war or victory can claim that. Anticipate that final peace no matter what conflict or lose, no matter what sacrifice or cross. Hear the distant-triumph song as the risen Savior says to you: " My peace be with you."

So battle on, dear Christians, battle on. Battle your heart to keep Jesus first. Battle on though bombarded by conflict and loss. Battle on braced with God's gracious promises. Battle on. Amen.

The peace of God that surpasses all understanding keep your hearts and mind sin Christ Jesus. Amen.

About The Author:

Pastor Gregg Bitter is with St. John's Evangelical Lutheran Church, Hancock, MN. This sermon was preached on August 16, 2009

Discipleship, Conflict and Peace

by Mary Louise Bringle

Scripture: Matthew 10:34-42

Those Christians who loudly proclaim the church's endorsement of "family values" must surely have difficulty with this Sunday's gospel text, " I have come to set a man against his own father, and a daughter against her mother. Anyone who loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me." This harsh teaching complements in difficulty the story of the sacrifice of Isaac, found in the Old Testament. Anyone who loves a son or daughter more than God is evidently not worthy, either.

There are all kinds of bad ways to interpret the Matthean text. Clearly it cannot have been intended to create active disrespect for parents, since just a few chapters later (15:4 and 19:18) Jesus repeats the commandment to honor our fathers and mothers. Nor can it have been intended to sanction abuse or neglect of children. Just a few verses before Jesus recites the fifth commandment, he lays his hands upon the little ones brought to him and says that the kingdom of heaven is theirs (19:14). In encouraging his followers to pray, he acknowledges that we as parents, even though we are "evil," still "know how to give good gifts to [our] children"; how much more, then, will God who is the perfect parent give unto us! (7:11) To take the text from Matthew 10 as sanction for destroying family loyalties would be as wrong-headed as to take any other isolated passage from the New Testament as evidence that "family values" are, at heart, what Christianity is all about.

What, then, do we do with this difficult text? Certainly, it offers us an opportunity to reflect upon the fact of tensions in the ordering of our affections. The whole question of what it would mean to love one beloved person more than another is an intriguing - and a vexing - one. Do parents of multiple offspring love one child more than another? Or do they love them all equally, albeit in differing ways? When we move out of our childhood home into a relationship with a life-partner, do we love our spouse more than our mother and father? Or are these loves, too, equal but incommensurate and incomparable? When we work late at the office in order to meet a looming deadline, does that mean that we love our job more than the members of our household? Or does it simply mean that we have made a calculation based on the distinctive demands of a particular situation, knowing that under another set of circumstances, the ordering of our commitments would be quite different?

If we "who are evil" know how to understand our apportioning of attentions based on the needs of specific persons and situations, "how much more" will God know how to assess the variable expressions of our devotion? To give money to a love offering at church while one's own children starved at home would seem a misplacement of priorities; to go repeatedly to prayer meetings while one's aged parent languished, unvisited, in a rest home across town would seem similarly inappropriate. Heaven surely knows that any dualism which interprets divine love as competitive with and contrary to all human loving is dangerously overly simple.

As Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote in his Letters and Papers from Prison: "For a man in his wife's arms to be hankering after the other world is, in mild terms, a piece of bad taste, and not God's will. We ought to find and love God in what he actually gives us." [1]  If God has seen fit to grace us with spouses, children, parents (and even parents-in-law), we ought to find blessing in those very relationships - not in their denial or renunciation. More often than not, we love God in and through our extended families, not in opposition to them; dialectic rather than dualism connects our divine and human loving. Even as we cherish ones of the least of these, our brother and sisters (fathers and mothers, daughters and sons), we do honor unto Christ.

The problem animating Matthew's text emerges when this dialectic becomes imbalanced - when our human loves do not express and enhance, but rather impede and imperil our devotion to God. When loves come into conflict, when loyalty to any human relationship gets in the way of God's calling to us, then the proper priority is clear, however difficult: the demands of discipleship take precedence over our allegiance to the wishes of any who would prefer that we cling to safety or to the status quo.

Ultimately, then, the peace which Jesus brings to our lives is not evasion or the avoidance of conflict. Rather, it can land us in the very center of conflict, with those whose opinions matter to us the most. Still, if we take the Matthew text together with the Hebrew lesson of the sacrifice of Isaac, the final word of the morning on the balancing of loves remains dialectical rather than dualistic, a message of recovery rather than of renunciation. Abraham who is willing to sacrifice his son discovers that the sacrifice is not finally required; those who are willing to give up their lives find that they gain them instead. We who risk controversy and letting go of our closest relationships may find therein ultimate paradox of the dialectic of human and divine loving , the paradox expressed by William Blake when he wrote:

He who binds to himself a joy Doth the winged life destroy. But he who kisses the joy as it flies Lives in eternity's sunrise. [2]

References:

1. Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Letters and Papers from Prison: the Enlarged Edition, ed. and trans. by Ebehard Bethge (NY: Macmillan Publishing Co., 1972), p. 168.

2. William Blake, "Several Questions Answered [Eternity]," in The Poetical Works of William Blake, ed. by John Sampson (London: Oxford University Press, 1913), p. 196.

Source: Sermon Mall

You Can Do This

By Ryan Duncan

Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. - Luke 6:30

Every other day, just after finishing with work, I head to the gym and spend some time exercising. I like to work out. It's a great way to stay healthy and burn off stress at the same time.

My routine is pretty simple. I start by running on a treadmill, then I wander around the free-weight section for a variety of exercises. Finally, I try to finish off by swimming a few laps in the pool. When it's over I always feel tired and sore, but good that I completed such a full workout.

One day, I was invited to work out with a friend of mine. As we made our way around the weight room, my friend stopped at the bench press and placed two huge weights on the side of the bar. Immediately, I became nervous. I had done the bench press before, but never with that much weight. I wasn't sure I'd be able to lift it. Pride got the better of me though. Instead of saying something, I just braced myself and lifted the bar with all my strength.

To my surprise, it wasn't that heavy. Sure, it took more effort than usual, but I realized my continuous workouts had made me a lot stronger. I had underestimated my own strength.

I think Christians can sometime have the same problem when it comes to their faith. We keep telling ourselves we are not ready, that we need just a little more time to prepare ourselves. We underestimate our ability to be of service to God. Take a moment to read this excerpt from the book of Acts.

After this, Paul left Athens and went to Corinth. There he met a Jew named Aquila, a native of Pontus, who had recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla, because Claudius had ordered all the Jews to leave Rome. Paul went to see them, and because he was a tentmaker as they were, he stayed and worked with them.
- Acts 18: 1-3

Acts continues to explain that while Paul ministered in Corinth, Aquila and Priscilla opened their home, helped with his teaching, and even followed him on some of his travels. Now read the verse again. Aquila and Pricilla weren't anything special, they were tent makers. If anyone had an excuse to think they weren't ready for ministry, it was them. Instead, they gave what they had while serving where they could and God did amazing things through them.

So, instead of wondering if you ready to serve, ask yourself what could you do to serve?

Intersecting Faith & Life:

Make a list of your strengths. How can these be used to serve God?

Source: Crosswalk the Devotional

Whom Will You Serve?

By Michael Youssef, Ph.D.

Even in His death, Jesus was thinking of you and me. He was preparing a way for us to know the Father and for us to receive His gift of salvation.

It was no mistake that Jesus was crucified between two thieves. One was repentant, and the other blasphemed the Lord.

One believed, and the other denied the Truth of God. One accepted God's wondrous gift of mercy and grace; the other turned his back on the offer and lost his soul.

There is no escaping the Truth. We can choose eternal life or settle for an endless death that is far worse than any torment we can imagine. The two men that hung dying beside the Savior could be any one of us.

Just like them, we must make a choice. God has chosen to save all men, but not everyone will come to Him. Those who do will immediately be saved and will spend eternity enjoying the love and intimate devotion of our Heavenly Father. Those who don't will spend an eternity separated from Him.

Joshua challenged the nation of Israel with these words:

If serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord (Joshua 24:15).

Prayer:

Lord, I want to serve You and You alone. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.

"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life" (John 3:16).

Source: My Devotional; © 2013 Leading The Way  

Our Readiness When God Calls

by Oswald Chambers

"God called to him . . . . And he said, 'Here I am'"
- Exodus 3:4

When God speaks, many of us are like people in a fog, and we give no answer. Moses' reply to God revealed that he knew where he was and that he was ready. Readiness means having a right relationship to God and having the knowledge of where we are. We are so busy telling God where we would like to go. Yet the man or woman who is ready for God and His work is the one who receives the prize when the summons comes. We wait with the idea that some great opportunity or something sensational will be coming our way, and when it does come we are quick to cry out, “Here I am.” Whenever we sense that Jesus Christ is rising up to take authority over some great task, we are there, but we are not ready for some obscure duty.

Readiness for God means that we are prepared to do the smallest thing or the largest thing - it makes no difference. It means we have no choice in what we want to do, but that whatever God's plans may be, we are there and ready. Whenever any duty presents itself, we hear God's voice as our Lord heard His Father's voice, and we are ready for it with the total readiness of our love for Him. Jesus Christ expects to do with us just as His Father did with Him. He can put us wherever He wants, in pleasant duties or in menial ones, because our union with Him is the same as His union with the Father. “. . . that they may be one just as We are one . . .” (John 17:22).

Be ready for the sudden surprise visits of God. A ready person never needs to get ready - he is ready. Think of the time we waste trying to get ready once God has called! The burning bush is a symbol of everything that surrounds the person who is ready, and it is on fire with the presence of God Himself.

Source: My Utmost for His Highest
(The Golden Book of Oswald Chambers)

Recipe: Mutton Korma

by Dr. Shila Mathew, MD., Food and Living Editor, Malankara World

Ingredients

½ kg Mutton, Washed and Pieces
2-3 Large Sized Onion, Chopped
2-3 Green Cardamom
1 Black Cardamom
1 Bay Leaf
5-6 Cloves
6-7 Black Peppercorns
1 tsp Ginger Paste
1 tsp Garlic Paste
¼ tsp Turmeric Powder
1 tsp Coriander Powder
1 tsp Red Chilli Powder
½ cup Yogurt
½ cup Cream
¼ tsp Cashew nut Paste
1 tsp Garam Masala Powder
1 cup Water
Few Coriander Leaves, Chopped
Oil for fry
Salt to taste

Directions

1. Heat oil in deep thick pan, add bay leaf, green cardamom, black cardamom, cloves and black pepper corn. Sauté till it is fragrant. Then add onion. Fry until light brown.

2. Add ginger-garlic paste and sauté for a minute. When garlic changes the color, add mutton pieces to the garlic mixture. Mix well and cook over high-medium flame about 5-10 minutes then make it on simmer.

3. Add turmeric powder, coriander powder and red chilli powder. Keep stirring. Pour yogurt and a cup of water into the mutton. Add salt as per taste and keep it covered. Bring it to the boil at simmer heat. Stir well till the mutton is cooked properly.

4. Add cashew nut paste and garam masala powder and cream. Keep cooking for another 15-20 minutes. Turn off heat. Sprinkle few coriander leaves and serve hot.

Yield: Serves 3 - 4 Persons

Family Special: Confirmed by Others

by Os Hillman

"The LORD was with Samuel as he grew up, and he let none of his words fall to the ground. And all Israel from Dan to Beersheba recognized that Samuel was attested as a prophet of the LORD" (1 Sam 3:19-20).

When I was 14 years old, I was an exceptional junior golfer. This is not pride on my part, but merely a fact. I had already broken 70 several times and had three hole-in-ones. I competed in the US Junior Amateur and eventually turned pro after attending college on a four year golf scholarship. Those who knew me affirmed the gift and calling that appeared to be on my life. I turned professional for about three years, but God later redirected my life into business and vocational ministry. All of these experiences have combined over many years to contribute to the calling I am living out today.

As we mature in our natural and spiritual lives, God uses our parents, teachers, uncles, coaches and priests to affirm the gifts and callings that are on our lives. At the time, it often seems like these people are trying to get in the way of what we want to do. However, God uses authority figures to provide key direction during the early teen and twenty-something years. He is using these people to help guide us to the ultimate destiny He has for our lives.

When we are young, we are often more impressionable than at any other time in our lives. The young person who can allow wisdom to rule over immaturity and impatience is a rare individual. However, if you are able to receive from the people God puts in your life at this stage, you will be so far ahead of your peers and you will be amazed.

"God is continually preparing His heroes, and when the opportunity is right, He puts them into position in an instant. He works so fast, the world wonders where they came from," said A. B. Simpson.

Let God do the foundation work so that he can advance you to His ultimate destiny He has for your life.

Source: Today God is First Devotional

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