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

Volume 4 No. 228 July 19, 2014

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Psalm 116:1-2
TABLE OF CONTENTS
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1. Bible Readings for This Sunday (July 20)

Bible Readings For the Sixth Sunday After Pentecost

http://www.MalankaraWorld.com/Library/Lectionary/Lec_6th_sunday-after-pentecost.htm

2. Sermons for This Sunday (July 20)

Sermons For the Sixth Sunday After Pentecost

http://www.MalankaraWorld.com/Library/Sermons/Sermon-of-the-week_6th-sunday-after-Pentecost.htm

3. Inspiration for Today: Promise Yourself

Promise yourself to be so strong that nothing can disturb your peace of mind.

To talk health, happiness and prosperity to every person you meet. ...

4. Featured: Miracles for the Multitudes - Reflection on Matthew 15:29-39

Do you want to be a man or woman, who trusts God for the future? Be a student of the past. Read your Bible and see what God has done for Israel. Read your Bible and see what Jesus has done for your soul. Look back in your life and continue to remind yourself how much God has done for you. Look back and see how He has guided you through your difficulties in the past. You had the mounting guilt of a life that was lived in rebellion against God, and He wondrously forgave your sin as you believed in the suffering of the death of Christ to forgive your sin. You had financial difficulties, and God helped you through them. You had marital difficulties, and God helped you through them. You had difficulties at work or at home and God was faithful. You were dead in your sin, but God drew you to Himself. Then, remember that Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. ...

5. The Eucharist: Foundation of the Christian Family

We do not normally associate the Holy Eucharist (Qurbana) with marriage and the family. But we should. Without the Eucharist, there would not be a livable Sacrament of Matrimony or a stable Christian family.

What are we saying? We are saying that Christ intended these two sacraments to be related as condition and consequence. The Eucharist is the condition, and matrimony as the core of the family is the supernatural consequence. ...

Nineteen plus centuries of Christianity proves that the Holy Eucharist is absolutely necessary for married Christians to remain faithful to each other, and selfless in their mutual love. The Holy Eucharist is absolutely necessary for Christian families to remain united in a world of selfish instability. ...

6. Something Big Is Happening Here

When we face hard times and when life makes no sense whatsoever, we need to stop and say to ourselves, "Something big is happening here." God never wastes anything. Not even the tiniest tear falls without a purpose. ...

7. Some Amazing and Unknown Facts

8. Engine Fire on Air India Flight From Newark to Mumbai

The real life story of how the courageous actions of crew saved the lives of over 300 people. ...

9. Simply Amazing!!! An Inspiring Story of Rags to Riches

Naresh is special. His parents are illiterate. He has no legs and moves around in his powered wheel chair. (In fact, when I could not locate his lab, he told me over the mobile phone, 'I will come and pick you up'. And in no time, he was there to guide me.)

Ever smiling, optimistic and full of spirit; that is Naresh. He says, "God has always been planning things for me. That is why I feel I am lucky."

Read why Naresh feels he is lucky. ...

10. About Malankara World

This Sunday in Church
Bible Readings for This Sunday (July 20)
 

Sermons for This Sunday (July 20)
This Week's Features

Inspiration for Today: Promise Yourself
Promise yourself to be so strong that nothing can disturb your peace of mind.

To talk health, happiness and prosperity to every person you meet.

To make all your friends feel that there is something in them.

To look at the sunny side of everything and make your optimism come true.

To think only of the best, to work only for the best and expect only the best.

To be just as enthusiastic about the success of others as you are about your own.

To forget the mistakes of the past and press on to the greater achievements of the future.

To wear a cheerful countenance at all times and give every living creature you meet a smile.

To give so much time to the improvement of yourself that you have no time to criticize others.

To be too large for worry, too noble for anger, too strong for fear and too happy to permit the presence of trouble.

Christian Daa Larson
1874-1954, New Thought Leader, Teacher, and Author

Featured: Miracles for the Multitudes - Reflection on Matthew 15:29-39

by Steve Brandon

Gospel: Matthew 15:29-39

[Editor's Note:

Although this week's prescribed lectionary Gospel Passge is Matthew 15:32-39, this article adds three more verses, viz., 29-31 to the passage. These three verses provides the necessary background information to the Jesus' miracle of feeding the 4000. It was a healing ministry; the miracle happened at the close of the ministry. As you go through the article, you agree that this information gives rich meaning to the miracle itself. The sermon was edited due to space considerations.]

1. Jesus heals (verses 29-31).
2. Jesus feeds (verses 32-39).

Much of what is contained in our passage this morning has already been discussed in Matthew. For instance, verses 29-31 speak about the breadth of Jesus' healing ministry -- how He healed the multitudes. Matthew writes, "And departing from there, Jesus went along by the Sea of Galilee, and having gone up to the mountain, He was sitting there. And great multitudes came to Him, bringing with them those who were lame, crippled, blind, dumb, and many others, and they laid them down at His feet; and He healed them, so that the multitude marveled as they saw the dumb speaking, the crippled restored, and the lame walking, and the blind seeing; and they glorified the God of Israel" (Matt. 15:29-31). This ought to sound familiar, because Matthew has already given us six other statements like this in the book of Matthew, where he has squeezed a few verses speaking about the extent of Jesus' ministry in between narrative sections. There are two more occasions in which he does this as well. [1]

Also familiar to us are verses 32-39, which speak about Jesus feeding the multitudes. Matthew writes,

"And Jesus called His disciples to Him, and said, 'I feel compassion for the multitude, because they have remained with Me now three days and have nothing to eat; and I do not wish to send them away hungry, lest they faint on the way.'

And the disciples said to Him, 'Where would we get so many loaves in a desolate place to satisfy such a great multitude?'
And Jesus said to them, 'How many loaves do you have?'
And they said, 'Seven, and a few small fish.'

And He directed the multitude to sit down on the ground; and He took the seven loaves and the fish; and giving thanks, He broke them and started giving them to the disciples, and the disciples in turn, to the multitudes. And they all ate, and were satisfied, and they picked up what was left over of the broken pieces, seven large baskets full. And those who ate were four thousand men, besides women and children.

And sending away the multitudes, He got into the boat, and came to the region of Magadan"
(Matthew 15:32-39).

Many of the details here are almost identical to what took place in Chapter 14 and verses 13-21, when Jesus fed the 5,000. This week, I put the narratives side by side and counted up 11 different things that are exactly the same in these two accounts. [2]

And so, because of the familiarity of these accounts, many preachers have chosen to go over these verses quickly, assigning them as a final sub-point of a sermon. Everything in my heart cries out, "Not so fast." I believe that narratives are included for a reason. I believe that they instruct us exactly where we need to be instructed. And I'm not willing to relegate this passage to a final sub-point of a sermon. As the spirit of God has inspired His word to include these things in the book of Matthew on several occasions, I believe that we need to hear this message again. They deserve our fullest attention.

And so, this morning, we are going to go through some Scripture passages that may sound familiar to you. They sound familiar because they are! We have heard of Jesus healing the multitudes on six different occasions already. We have heard of Jesus feeding the multitudes only six weeks ago. And so the challenge of my message this morning isn't going to be some great new truth or some great new insight.

The challenge of my message this morning for you is to believe and apply what you have heard before and what you will hear again this morning. It's like the story of the new pastor of a church, which has been told often. Indeed, I have heard it told by some in our own congregation.

On his first Sunday, the congregation gathered excitedly and expectantly. Everyone was suitably impressed afterward with his sermon.

"My, how well he spoke," remarked one.
"A superb sermon to be sure," said another.
A third chimed in, "If he keeps this up we're in for a treat."

On the following week he preached exactly the same sermon. The people were puzzled, but generously surmised that it had probably been too busy a week to prepare a new sermon. After all, he was moving into a new house and meeting all the people.

Yet he preached the original sermon the following week as well, and the week after that. The people were very concerned, and the church leadership decided it was time to confront their new pastor. They met him after the service and asked whether he had any other sermons or whether he planned to preach the same one for his entire ministry. "I certainly hope not," said the pastor, "I plan to begin a new one as soon as you start putting the first sermon into practice."

As familiar as my message might be this morning, remember that it would have been familiar to the disciples as well. The disciples needed this sermon twice, and they still didn't get it. Our text breaks down nicely into two sections. The first is found in verses 29-31 in which Jesus heals the multitudes. The second is found in verses 32-39 in which Jesus feeds the multitudes. I have entitled my message, "Miracles for the Multitudes." This morning, we need to see Jesus in all of His power, splendor, and authority. We need to taste and feel once again what it must have been like for the disciples to witness Jesus heal thousands of people. We need to understand what actually took place when Jesus fed thousands of people. We need to be reminded of the power and authority of Jesus.

1. Jesus Heals (verses 29-31).

We are going to pull three observations from these three verses. One from each verse. My aim is to expand your understanding and love for Jesus by seeing His power.

When Jesus heals, ...
a. He heals without announcement (verse 29).

Look at verse 29, "And departing from there, Jesus went along by the Sea of Galilee, and having gone up to the mountain, He was sitting there." Mark gives us more precision about where Jesus went on this occasion. He records that Jesus went into the region of Decapolis, which is along the eastern border of the Sea of Galilee (Mark 7:31). This is gentile territory. We are told that Jesus went "up to the mountain" (verse 29). Let's face it, you don't see many people up high on the mountain. This is somewhat the point. He wasn't seeking a crowd. He was in an obscure place. Those who wanted to be healed would have to make great effort to come to Him.

How different this is from the faith healers of our own day. When they have their healing meetings, they often announce months beforehand where they will be. And they always go to the biggest of cities, where there are many, many people. I have never heard of a miracle crusade taking place in some obscure little town in Montana. But, this is what Jesus did. In the past month or two, I have received five different computer-generated phone calls highlighting some upcoming miracle crusades. The healing ministry of Jesus was vastly different. The miracles of Jesus were so compelling that He could go up into the mountainside to a desolate region without announcement and there attract a crowd of 4,000 people. The ministry of Jesus was powerful.

When Jesus heals, ...
b. He heals everybody (verse 30).

If you were brought to Jesus for healing, you were healed. You never came away from His presence sick. Verse 30, "And great multitudes came to Him, bringing with them those who were lame, crippled, blind, dumb, and many others, and they laid them down at His feet; and He healed them." When Matthew writes that Jesus "healed them," he is referring to those who were brought to Jesus. The lame, who had to be carried to Jesus, were healed. The crippled, who had to be helped to Jesus, were healed. The blind, who had to be guided to Jesus, were healed. The dumb, who had to be brought to Jesus, were healed. The "many others," who had various other diseases, were healed.

People simply didn't leave the presence of Jesus unhealed. In Matthew 4:23, it says, that He was "healing every disease and every affliction among the people" (ESV). They brought to Him, "all who were ill ... demoniacs, epileptics, paralytics; and He healed them" (verse 24). Matthew 8:16, "He healed all who were ill." Matthew 12:15, "many followed Him, and He healed them all." If you just touched the fringe of His cloak, you were healed (Matt. 14:36). The ministry of Jesus was powerful. If you know even a little bit about the healing ministries today, you know that this isn't the case. Many who come sick, return sick.

When Jesus heals,
c. He heals completely (verse 31).

Verse 31 reads, "the multitude marveled as they saw the dumb speaking, the crippled restored, and the lame walking, and the blind seeing." Those who couldn't speak before they came to Jesus could speak when they left the presence of Jesus. Those who had withered arms or legs before they came to Jesus had fully functioning arms and legs when leaving. Those who couldn't walk before they came to Jesus would take up their bed and walk home. Those who needed a guide to find Jesus because they couldn't see, no longer needed a guide, because they could see.

We have seen examples of these types of miracles already in the gospel of Matthew. Turn back to chapter 9. At the beginning of the chapter, a paralytic was brought to Jesus. This man couldn't walk, and so he needed to be brought by his friends. In verse 6, Jesus says, "'Rise, take up your bed, and go home.' And he rose, and went home." He was completely healed. In verse 27, we find two blind men following after Jesus saying, "Have mercy on us, Son of David!" He then asked them, "Do you believe that I am able to do this?" they said, "Yes, Lord" (verse 28). So, Jesus touched their eyes and they could see. In verse 32, a dumb man was brought to Jesus. After Jesus cast the demon from this dumb man, the man spoke. Turn over to chapter 12. In verse 10, a man with a withered hand was brought to Jesus. After a bit of discussion, Jesus restored his hand "to normal."

You have to catch the extent of Jesus' healing. We have some people in our congregation who are sick with some of these diseases. I think of one woman who many of you know, who has had a good portion of her left leg amputated and has been confined to a wheel chair for more that ten years. Her hands have been deformed because of rheumatoid arthritis. If she were one of this multitude that came to Jesus, Jesus would have created a new leg for her, restored her hands to normal, and given her the strength to walk. She would come to church next Sunday in standing upright. I think of another man in our church, who was born with a hearing problem. He was up front at the beginning of the service, calling us to worship. Recently, he has had a cochlear implant to help him hear. It has helped, but it hasn't fully solved his hearing difficulties. If he had been among the multitude that came to Jesus, he would have left with perfect hearing and understanding. We don't have any blind people in our church, but just imagine those who you know who are blind being blind no more. Perhaps some names like Stevie Wonder or Ray Charles come to mind. Imagine Christopher Reeve or Joni Erickson Tada walking once again. This was commonplace in the time of Jesus.

The multitudes saw what Jesus was doing, and they were totally amazed. They understood that Jesus was doing something entirely miraculous. They could see new limbs that were formed. They could see people walk who clearly couldn't walk before. They saw people who had never spoken before in their life begin speaking fluently and clearly. They saw how the blind people could now see. Verse 31 says that "the multitude marveled" as they saw these things take place. They marveled because the miracles were evident. The verse also says, "they glorified the God of Israel." Remember earlier that I said that this was gentile territory? You have gentiles glorifying the God of Israel.

This is our application this morning: Worship Jesus! I have labored with these verses to attempt to demonstrate exactly how powerful Jesus was. He healed without announcement. He healed everybody. He healed completely. Jesus didn't walk the planet as a weak, sentimental little man. He walked the planet as a very powerful man who could heal anybody who came to Him. He is worthy of all of our worship. Rock Valley Bible Church, let's be about worshiping Jesus!

2. Jesus Feeds (verses 32-39).

Let's begin looking at this wondrous miracle by beginning with verse 32, "And Jesus called His disciples to Him, and said, 'I feel compassion for the multitude, because they have remained with Me now three days and have nothing to eat; and I do not wish to send them away hungry, lest they faint on the way'" (Matt. 15:32).

This is a great picture of our Lord. Here Jesus is, up on the mountains, pouring Himself into this needy multitude for three days. He has set up His clinic and has begun to receive His severely diseased patients. Each of them have gone away from the presence of Jesus totally healed. And it appears as if they didn't go back home when they were healed, but remained with all of the others who came to see Jesus. In fact, they remained for three days!

I want to linger here for a few moments. They were with Jesus for three days. Can you imagine? There are 4,000 men in this crowd (verse 38). Matthew indicates clearly that this was only a count of the men, which indicates that women and children were certainly present, probably in sizable numbers. Perhaps this translates into 3,000 families that have come to see Jesus. With a few children in each of these families, the size of the crowd could easily excel 10,000 people! We are told that they stayed with Jesus for three days. When the sun set, they didn't go home. Rather, they found a place along the ground where they might sleep for the night. When it was morning again, the Jesus' Clinic was opened once again for business.

I know that there are some of you who don't like camping. You don't like the noisy bugs, the pesky mosquitoes, the hard beds, the poor night's sleep, the campfire smoke, the lack of showers, the dirt, and things like that. These people faced all of these difficulties. These people faced them all unprepared. Do you have any idea how long it takes to prepare for a three-day camping trip? When we have gone camping, it takes several days of planning and preparation, and several hours of work to pack it all up. I don't think that they heard about Jesus being up in the mountains, only to spend half of a day packing up their camping gear. They had no idea that they were going to be there for three days! They were unprepared for such a long stay. Their food was scarce and their sleeping arrangement were poor.

Why did they endure the inconvenience? The presence of Jesus was so wonderful. It was wonderful to watch Him heal the people as they came, one by one. It must have been breath-taking. If I were there, I think that I would have squeezed my way into the front to watch everything that Jesus was doing. It would have been amazing watching him form legs and hands. It would have thrilling to see the expression of those blind from birth, who could see for the first time. It also would have been eager to listen to everything that Jesus was saying. We have no indication that He was formally teaching, but Jesus was always teaching. Certainly, heavenly wisdom was pouring from His lips on this occasion as it always did. It lasted for three days.

Have you ever tasted of this? Have you ever been in a church service, or attended a conference, where you were really disappointed that things were finished? I've been there. I have been in church services that have been stunning. I know that every time that I have had the opportunity to go to Minneapolis for the Bethlehem Conference for Pastors, I am often saddened when the final hour of the conference is finished. I spoke this week with a pastor who had the opportunity to travel to Los Angeles this past week and attend the annual Shepherd's Conference at Grace Community Church. He told me that on Friday night, R. C. Sproul was speaking on the Sovereignty of God, and when it was finished, my friend was disappointed that it was over. He told me that he wanted R. C. to keep on going! He said it was so wonderful that he was going to give me the tapes. This is what these people experienced. Being with Jesus was so wonderful that they didn't want to leave.

Would you have remained with Jesus for three days? Or would the prospect of remaining in the mountain, outside, for three days have been too much for you to take? When the desire is there, people will put forth great effort. Inconveniences will be overcome. Some of you know that the boys basketball team from Winnebago High School made it to the state finals this past weekend. They ended up in 2nd place. I play soccer each Friday night on a team with several non-Christians guys from Winnebago. One guy I play with told me of how he drove 2 ½ hours to watch the quarter-finals game on Friday afternoon. After the game, he drove 2 ½ hours back to Rockford. He was planning on driving back down there again to watch their other games on Saturday. I have seen parents drive for hours to see their sons play basketball. I have seen grandparents drive for hours to see their grandchildren recite some poetry and Scripture for three minutes. Here, we see thousands of people remaining in the outdoors to be with Jesus for three days. When the heart is willing, the feet are swift.

I ask you, do you have a passion to see Jesus? Do you have a passion to be with His people? Do you have a passion to hear His word expounded? Because if you do, you will make great efforts to be at church and to read His Word. You won't be externally coerced. You will be internally driven to seek what you desire most to experience. These people had a passion to see Jesus. They were there for three days and didn't leave. Jesus constrained nobody to stay.

But in verse 32, it was time for them to turn off the lights, because the party was over. Why? I believe it was because every last diseased person was healed. There was nobody left with any disease that needed healing. But, those who remained until the end got a treat to enjoy.

Last Sunday we had a potluck here at church. Really, it's not a potluck at all. Here at Rock Valley Bible Church, we don't believe in luck. Everything happens through God's providence; luck has nothing to do with it. So, we actually had a "pot-providence" after church last Sunday. Anyway, our habit, as a family, is to be one of the last families out the door. There are a couple of reasons for that. We want to be with the church. We don't want to leave. We find our joy with you. Also, if you want to talk to me, you just need to hang around the church after the service. You'll be able to talk to me then. As your pastor, I want to be accessible to you.

Anyway, last Sunday, we were almost the last ones to leave (somewhere near 3:15pm) and there was this blueberry dessert still sitting on the counter. I tasted it and it was wonderful! There was something about the bottom crust that I liked very much. Yvonne can give testimony to this. I even made her taste a bit on Sunday. Since nobody had claimed it, and since we were the last ones out of the building, guess what kind of dessert we were going to enjoy all week long? If your pastor begins to expand at the waist, you'll know why: the desserts at our "pot-providences" are too good to pass up. That's the fringe benefits of hanging around.

Those who remained until the end of Jesus' ministry on the mountain received a treat to enjoy. They got a free lunch. Before Jesus dismissed them, He was concerned with the welfare of this multitude. He said, "I feel compassion for the multitude, ... and I do not wish to send them away hungry, lest they faint on the way" (verse 32). This is the compassion of Jesus. He has been working hard for three days. He has healed every person that has come to Him. He has turned nobody away. Now, it's time to go, and He is concerned for their stomachs. He is concerned that they might travel back to their homes in comfort. This isn't a life-or-death issue. You don't die from lack of food for three days. Oh you may be weak. You may have a headache. You may need help along the way. But you won't die.

Jesus isn't merely looking out for His own personal interest. Rather, He is looking out for the interests of others (Phil. 2:4). Why do you think that He went to the mountain in the first place? Perhaps He wanted to pray, as He did in Matt. 14:23. Perhaps He wanted a bit of peace and quiet, away from the crowds. But, when the crowds came, He welcomed them and began to heal them. They weren't an inconvenience. They weren't a bother. He had compassion on them, and he wanted to help them. And then, when it was time for them to be dismissed, He still cared for them. This is like the doctor, who treats an individual, and then makes a house call when his patient comes home in order to see how his patient is doing. This is like the waiter, who comes back to your table and says, "Is everything here alright?" This is like the father, who tucks his children in bed at night, so that the last thing that they remember before they go off to sleep is the kind intention of their father, kissing them on the cheek. This is Jesus. Don't ever think that Jesus is only concerned about forgiving your sin, and then letting you alone to deal with the difficulties of life after that. Jesus was caring for their diseased bodies as well as their empty stomachs. Jesus is concerned with your illnesses. Jesus is concerned with your financial difficulties. Jesus is concerned with your marital problems. Jesus is concerned with your anxieties. Jesus is concerned with your welfare. He said, "Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give your rest" (Matt. 11:28).

In the instance of our text this morning, He wants to give them food as they travel. I travel from time to time. And when I do, I know the value of a little food in my stomach. I am always certain of packing my bags with a few granola bars or some fruit. I often take along a can of pop to drink. So, Jesus mentions to His disciples that He would like to get some food for these people. In verse 33, "the disciples said to Him, ‘Where would we get so many loaves in a desolate place to satisfy such a great multitude?'"

We look back at these disciples and can't believe that they said this. We can't believe how quickly they have forgotten what Jesus did only a few months before along the northern shore of the sea of Galilee. We wonder, "What is wrong with these disciples?" But, it is easy to forget the provision of God in the past. It is hard to believe that He will provide again in the future.

One of the greatest illustrations of this is Israel, when they were redeemed out of the bondage of Egypt. They saw God display His awesome power in the plagues. Many of these plagues only struck the Egyptians, but not the Hebrew people. In one case, it was dark over the whole land, except in Goshen where the Israelites were. On the night of the Passover, "the LORD struck all the first-born in the land of Egypt, from the first-born of Pharaoh who sat on his throne to the first-born of the captive who was in the dungeon, and all the first-born of cattle" (Exodus 12:29). But, none of the Hebrew children or cattle died. They saw the angel of God move the pillar of cloud between the Egyptians and the Hebrew people to protect them (Ex. 14:20). They saw the LORD split the Red Sea, so that they could escape the Egyptians who were pursuing them (Ex. 14). Yet, when they escaped into the wilderness and were thirsty, what did they do? Did they say, "God, you have provided for us miraculously thus far! Will you be gracious to us and provide for us the needed water?" No, they grumbled against the Lord (Ex. 15:24). Why? They lacked faith to believe that the same God, who had provided for them in the past would provide for them in the future.

The disciples find themselves in the same situation as Israel. Though they had seen Jesus feed the 5,000 only a few months before, they didn't even think about the possibility of Him doing it again. There were many mouths to feed. Feeding four thousand men, some with wives and some with children is not an easy task. Last night, a bunch of us attended the annual fund-raising banquet for the Rockford Area Pregnancy Care Center. I heard that there were 625 people at the banquet. It was amazing to watch the effort that it took to feed that many people. This weekend, my nephew, Colin has been staying with our family. Yesterday afternoon he was in our kitchen with the other children watching Yvonne bake some bread. Yvonne was explaining to him how she needed to bake a lot of bread because uncle Steve likes to use objects when he preaches to make a point. She explained how I was going to be preaching on the feeding of the 4,000. He asked, "Are you going to make 4,000 loaves of bread?" Even he understood what a huge task this would be.

It would take 2,000 pounds of fish and 400 dozen rolls of bread to feed this many people. And these disciples didn't even think about what Jesus had done before. In their minds, there was no way that they were going to be able to feed this many people, especially out in the boondocks where they were. The disciples asked, "Where would we get so many loaves in a desolate place to satisfy such a great multitude?" (verse 33). Why? It is easy to forget the provision of God in the past. It is hard to believe that He will provide again in the future.

Do you want to be a man or woman, who trusts God for the future? Be a student of the past. Read your Bible and see what God has done for Israel. Read your Bible and see what Jesus has done for your soul. Look back in your life and continue to remind yourself how much God has done for you. Look back and see how He has guided you through your difficulties in the past. You had the mounting guilt of a life that was lived in rebellion against God, and He wondrously forgave your sin as you believed in the suffering of the death of Christ to forgive your sin. You had financial difficulties, and God helped you through them. You had marital difficulties, and God helped you through them. You had difficulties at work or at home and God was faithful. You were dead in your sin, but God drew you to Himself. Then, remember that Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Heb. 13:8). He was faithful to you in the past. He will be faithful to you today. He will be faithful to you in the future. He provided for you in the past. He will provide for you today. He will provide for you in the future.

The disciples should have known this. In verse 34, I believe that Jesus was trying to jog their memories. He said, "How many loaves do you have?" And they said, "Seven, and a few small fish." Perhaps when they pulled out the bread and the fish to show Jesus what they had, they may have begun to remember what He did with the 5,000.

Perhaps these disciples remembered what Jesus had done when "He directed the multitude to sit down on the ground" (as verse 35 said). "Oh, yeah, I remember when Jesus did this before. I know what's going to happen." Perhaps it clicked when Jesus "took the seven loaves and the fish; and gave thanks" (verse 36), saying a typical Jewish blessing like, "Blessed are You, O Lord our God, King of the universe, who bring forth bread from the earth."

Perhaps it clicked when Jesus broke the bread "and started giving them to the disciples" (verse 36). Perhaps it all clicked when they began to see the bread miraculously multiply as they reached into their bags to get bread or more fish, as the disciples were distributing the food among the multitudes (verse 36). The bread that takes three hours to rise and 20 minutes to bake was created instantly in their bags, with the appearance of age. The fish, that takes three months to grow, were not only instantly created, but also pickled and preserved perfectly, as if it was done by the best chef in Jerusalem.

Perhaps it all clicked when they began to offer more bread and more fish to people, but they gave them the "No thanks, I'm full" look. You know what I'm talking about, right? You go to a restaurant and eat a bunch of food, and then comes the dessert tray. The waitress says, "Any room for dessert?" And, you look at her, like she's crazy. You reason in your mind, "You saw how much food you served me. And you now see that it is all gone. How in the world could anybody have room for dessert?" The disciples were getting this look from people. They attempted to give them more bread or more fish. But, they had eaten and "were satisfied" (verse 37). Perhaps it all clicked when "they picked up what was left over of the broken pieces" and filled seven large baskets to the rim (verse 37). The seven large baskets were filled with more fish and bread than they started with. [3]

Perhaps it all clicked when they counted the number of people that Jesus fed: 4,000. "Wow, that is almost as many as Jesus fed before!" Perhaps it never clicked at all. Look down to Matt.16:9-10, "Do you not yet understand or remember the five loaves of the five thousand, and how many baskets you took up? Or the seven loaves of the four thousand, and how many large baskets you took up?" Jesus had done a miraculous thing in front of their eyes. They may have seen it. They may have experienced it. They may have even tasted of the food that they were given. But, they failed to grasp the meaning of it. Jesus said, "You men of little faith, why do you discuss among yourselves that you have no bread?" (Matt. 16:8).

In the presence of Jesus, you have no physical worries. If you lack food, Jesus can create it. In their minds, Jesus was small. But as Jesus ministered to the multitudes, He demonstrates His power. He can heal thousands. He can feed thousands. Don't doubt the authority and power and majesty of Jesus. Our passage this morning causes us to reflect upon His power. He is capable of wiping your sins away. Believe Him and trust Him in these things.

References/Notes:

[1] To help you get a feel of the nine passages that Matthew squeezes into his narrative to focus our attention upon the extent of the healing ministry of Jesus, I have listed them below.

Matthew 4:23-24 (These verses come just after Jesus calls His first disciples and right before He preaches the Sermon on the Mount). "And Jesus was going about in all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness among the people. And the news about Him went out into all Syria; and they brought to Him all who were ill, taken with various diseases and pains, demoniacs, epileptics, paralytics; and He healed them."

Matthew 8:16 (This verse comes just after Jesus heals Peter's mother-in-law and just before He challenges a few men who want to follow Him). "And when evening had come, they brought to Him many who were demon-possessed; and He cast out the spirits with a word, and healed all who were ill."

Matthew 9:35 (Jesus had just healed a dumb man and is just about to send out His twelve disciples to announce the nearness of His kingdom). "And Jesus was going about all the cities and the villages, teaching in their synagogues, and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness."

Matthew 12:15 (The context here is of Jesus withdrawing from the Pharisees, who were seeking to kill Him). "And many followed Him, and He healed them all."

Matthew 14:14 (This verse is found just after the story of John the Baptist's execution and the feeding of the 5,000). "And when He went ashore, He saw a great multitude, and felt compassion for them, and healed their sick."

Matthew 14:35-36 (At the end of the feeding of the 5,000, we have another one of these all-inclusive statements). "And when the men of that place recognized Him, they sent into all that surrounding district and brought to Him all who were sick; and they began to entreat Him that they might just touch the fringe of His cloak; and as many as touched it were cured."

Matthew 15:30-31 (These verses come from our text this morning, just after the account of the Canaanite Woman and the feeding of the 4,000) "And great multitudes came to Him, bringing with them those who were lame, crippled, blind, dumb, and many others, and they laid them down at His feet; and He healed them, so that the multitude marveled as they saw the dumb speaking, the crippled restored, and the lame walking, and the blind seeing; and they glorified the God of Israel."

Matthew 19:2 (This verse comes just after Jesus explained what Biblical forgiveness looks like and just before the Pharisees confront Him again, this time, on the issue of divorce). "and great multitudes followed Him, and He healed them there."

Matthew 21:14 (In this verse, we find Jesus in the midst of a crowd, battling the Pharisees. It is almost parenthetical). "And the blind and the lame came to Him in the temple, and He healed them."

[2] There are many similarities about these miracles.

1. They both take place in a desolate place (14:15; 15:32)
2. Jesus was motivated by His compassion for the multitudes (14:14; 15:32).
3. The disciples were confused as to how they would be able to feed this many people (14:16-17; 15:33)
4. Jesus begins with only a few loaves of bread and a few fish (14:17; 15:34).
5. Jesus orders the multitudes to be seated (14:19; 15:35).
6. Jesus took the food, gave thanks, broke it, and gave it to the disciples, who distributed it among the people (14:19; 15:36).
7. When every one was finished eating, they were all satisfied. Nobody left hungry (14:20; 15:37).
8. After the meal, the disciples gathered the leftovers, which amounted to more than Jesus began with (14:20; 15:37).
9. When the crowd was counted, it was only the men that were counted (14:21; 15:38).
10. Jesus dismissed the multitudes (14:22; 15:39).
11. As soon as the crowds were gone, Jesus left the scene (14:23; 15:39).

[3] There were probably more leftovers here, than when they fed the 5,000. When they picked up the scraps from the 5,000, they picked them up in hand-baskets, which you could carry in your hands. When they picked up the scraps from the 4,000, they picked them up in large provision-baskets, which were large enough for a person to sit in, as the apostle Paul was when he was let down over the wall at Damascus (Acts 9:25).

Source: www.rockvalleybiblechurch.org

The Eucharist: Foundation of the Christian Family

by Fr John A Hardon, S.J.

We do not normally associate the Holy Eucharist (Qurbana) with marriage and the family. But we should. Without the Eucharist, there would not be a livable Sacrament of Matrimony or a stable Christian family.

What are we saying? We are saying that Christ intended these two sacraments to be related as condition and consequence. The Eucharist is the condition, and matrimony as the core of the family is the supernatural consequence.

Surely this calls for an explanation, and a clear explanation.

Needless to say, this is a most important subject. It is so important that the survival of Christian marriage and the Christian family depend on it. Are we serious? Yes. The Holy Eucharist is indispensable for living out the supernatural, and therefore humanly impossible, demands that Christ places on those who enter marriage in His name.

Our plan is to cover the following areas of this fundamental issue.

• Christian marriage in the family is a life long commitment to selfless love.

• This selfless love is impossible without superhuman strength from God.

• The principal source of this superhuman strength is the Holy Eucharist.

• Christian spouses and their families are a living witness to Christ's power to work moral miracles in the world today.

• The single most important need for Christian families is a renewed faith in the Holy Eucharist.

Christian Marriage and Selfless Love

Christ instituted the sacrament of marriage in order to restore marriage to its monogamous position before the fall of our first parents.

When some Pharisees came to test Jesus by asking Him: "Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for any reason?" Jesus answered and said to them, "Have you not read that the Creator from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘For this cause a man shall leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? Therefore now, they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man put asunder."
(Matthew 19:3 6).

But Christ did not stop there. He not only told His followers that marriage is a lifelong commitment that no human authority can dissolve. He further commanded those who call themselves Christians to love one another with such selfless charity as to be willing to die for one another after the example of His own selfless love of dying for us on the Cross.

This is Christian marriage as elevated by Him to the Sacrament of Matrimony. It is a lifetime covenant between husband and wife, to remain faithful to each other until death. It is also a lifelong promise, made to God under oath, to love one another with selfless charity, enduring patience, and whole hearted generosity. Even more, it is a solemn vow to accept the children that God wants to send them and educate their children for eternal life in Heaven with God.

Since the time of Christ, there have been many breaks in Christian unity. There have been many departures from the Catholic/Orthodox Church. There have arisen numerous churches, calling themselves Christian. Why the departures? The main single reason has been the unwillingness to accept Christ's teaching on the indissolubility and fruitfulness of Christian marriage, founded on selfless charity.

Need for Superhuman Strength

It takes no great intelligence to see that a faithful and fruitful marriage requires superhuman strength. Change the word "superhuman" to "supernatural" and we begin to see what we are talking about.

Catholic/Orthodox Christianity is unique among the religions of the world, whether ancient as among the Egyptians, Babylonians, Greeks and Romans before Christ, or among the living religions of the human race.

Catholic/Orthodox Christianity is unique in making demands on the morality of its believers that are beyond human nature by itself to live up to. The two hardest demands are the practice of Christian chastity and Christian charity. Combine these two virtues, and we begin to see why Christian marriage and the family require, indeed demand, superhuman power from God to remain faithful to for a lifetime.

This is what Christianity is all about: living a superhuman life by means of superhuman grace provided by Christ to those who believe that He is God who became man to enable us to witness to His name.

That is why Christ elevated marriage to the dignity of a sacrament. He had to, otherwise what He commanded His married followers and their families would be an idle dream.

There are certain things that human nature, by itself cannot, and the word is "cannot" do. Like what? Like living for a lifetime in loving family partnership, without being seduced by selfishness and sexual perversion that surround us like the atmosphere we breathe.


The Eucharist Provides Superhuman Strength

Entering marriage for believing Christians is one thing. Living in Christian marriage and raising a Christian family are something else. That is why Christ instituted the Sacrament of the Eucharist. The moment we say, "Sacrament of the Eucharist," we mean a triple sacrament:

•The Sacrifice Sacrament of the Mass

•The Communion Sacrament of Holy Communion, and

•The Presence Sacrament of the Real Presence of Jesus Christ in the Blessed Sacrament.

Jesus Christ instituted the Holy Eucharist to give those who believe in Him the power they need to remain alive in His grace. For married Christians and their families this means the light and strength they must constantly receive if they are to live out the sublime directives of the Holy Spirit for Christian believers.

They have no choice. The world in which they live is

• an adulterous world
• a contraceptive world
• a masturbating world
• a homosexual world
• a fornicating world
• an abortive world, that murders unborn children in their mothers' wombs.

Not to be deceived by this world, whose prince, Christ tells us, is the devil, Christian husbands and wives and their families need the light that only Christ can give. He is available with this grace through the Holy Eucharist.

Not to be seduced by this world, master minded by Satan, Christians need the courage that only Christ can give. He tells us not to be afraid. Why not? Because, as He says, "Have confidence, I have overcome the world."

What is He telling Christian spouses and their children? He is assuring them that He is still on earth in the Blessed Sacrament; that He is still offering Himself daily on our altars in the Sacrifice of the Mass; that He is literally, physically giving Himself to them in Holy Communion. Why? In order to enable them to do what is humanly beyond their natural intelligence to comprehend and beyond their natural will power to perform.

Christian families have no choice. The psychological pressure from the world, the flesh and the devil is too strong to cope with by themselves.

The Holy Eucharist must remain, if it already is, or become, if it is not, the mainstay of their family lives. This is no option. It is a law of spiritual survival for Christian marriages and families in every age, and with thunderous emphasis, in our day.

At the turn of the twentieth century, Pope St. Pius X identified the first meaning of the petition of the Lord's prayer, "Give us this day our daily bread." The primary meaning of this petition refers to the Eucharist. We are asking God in the Our Father to open the minds and hearts of believers to their need for daily Mass, daily Holy Communion, and some daily praying before the Blessed Sacrament. Why? To provide us with the daily sustenance that our life of grace requires.

I am speaking to professed Christians. I am speaking about Christian marriage and the family. I am speaking to those whose union in Christ must be preserved by Christ, nourished by Christ, grow in loving chastity and charity as prescribed by Christ.

Nineteen plus centuries of Christianity proves that the Holy Eucharist is absolutely necessary for married Christians to remain faithful to each other, and selfless in their mutual love. The Holy Eucharist is absolutely necessary for Christian families to remain united in a world of selfish instability.

Witness to Christ's Power to Work Miracles

If there is one thing that stands out in Christ's visible life in Palestine it is His power to work miracles.

In one chapter after another of the Gospels, Christ performed signs and wonders that testified to His claims to being one with the Father and that, without Him, we can do nothing to reach our eternal destiny.

• Christ changed water into wine at Cana in Galilee.
• Christ restored sight to the blind, and speech to the mute.
• Christ cured paralytics so they could use their limbs.
• Christ calmed the storm at sea by a single word.
• Christ even raised Lazarus from the grave. When He told the dead man to "Come forth," what had been a decaying corpse came out of the tomb as a living human being.


But Christ's greatest miracles were not His power over the physical laws of nature. They were His power to change unbelieving hearts to become men and women of heroic virtue.
The pagans of the first three centuries A.D. were converted to Christ when they saw Christians practicing chastity and charity. It was especially the faithful and fruitful love of married Christians and the stability of Christian families, that changed pagans into believing Christians and, in the process, changed the history of the human race.

Where did the early Christians receive the incredible strength they needed to live in Holy Matrimony and propagate the faith through their saintly families? Remember, to become a Christian in those times meant to expect martyrdom. Where did Christians receive the superhuman power to live such superhuman lives? Where? From the Holy Eucharist.

It is not commonly known but should become known that in the early Church Christians heard Mass and received Holy Communion every day. The Holy Eucharist was brought to them in prison as they were awaiting martyrdom by fire or the sword, or by being devoured by wild beasts. We turn to our own day. What Christ did during His visible stay on earth in first century Asia Minor, He has continued doing down the ages by the exercise of His almighty power available in His invisible presence in the Holy Eucharist.

It is the same

• Physically same,

• Historically same,

• Geographically same,

• Really same Jesus Christ who worked miracles at the dawn of Christianity, who is now present in the Blessed Sacrament, offering Himself in the Mass, and received by us in the Holy Eucharist.

What do we conclude from this? Obviously, that Christian families be witnesses in our day to Christ's power in their lives, as were the Christians who were mangled by lions in the Roman Colosseum, or, like St. Thomas More, were beheaded by order of a lecherous king who discarded his wife in sixteenth century England.

The Greatest Need Today

This brings us to our final reflection. I make bold to say that the single most important need for Christian marriage and the family is a renewed faith in the Holy Eucharist.

There is an outstanding statement in the Gospels about Christ performing miracles. The evangelists tell us that Jesus could not work miracles among some people because of their lack of faith.

Notice what we are saying. We are saying that the Almighty Master of Heaven and earth, the Creator of the sun, moon and stars, when he became Man was unable to exercise His omnipotence because of some people's lack of faith. Of course, this means that He could not, because He would not, work miracles where the people refused to submit their minds in humble belief to His Divinity.

Now we turn to our own time and place. Would anyone doubt that in our nation in the last decade of the twentieth century, we need an avalanche of moral miracles to preserve marriage and the family from disintegration by the demonic forces let loose in our country today?

Only God can work a miracle and we need to change the figure, an ocean of miracles in America, as in Canada as in England, and France and Germany and Scandinavia, to mention just a few materially wealthy countries that are in desperate need of divine grace where so many are walking in darkness and the shadow of eternal death.

Jesus Christ is the infinite God who became man. He became man not only to die for us on Calvary. He became man to live with us in the Holy Eucharist. Christians have a grave responsibility. They are to stir up their faith in this continued presence of Jesus, now on earth, in our midst, in our day.

They are to obtain for themselves and for their contemporaries the power to live their married lives according to the teaching of Jesus Christ. He instituted the Sacrament of Matrimony and the Christian family to be a constant witness in an unbelieving world to what only God become man can achieve.

This divine power is accessible in the Holy Eucharist to those who have the humility to believe.

====

Catholic/Orthodox Christianity is unique in making demands on the morality of its believers that are beyond human nature by itself to live up to. The two hardest demands are the practice of Christian chastity and Christian charity. Combine these two virtues, and we begin to see why Christian marriage and the family require, indeed demand, superhuman power from God to remain faithful to for a lifetime.

Source: www.therealpresence.org

Something Big Is Happening Here

by Dr. Ray Pritchard, Keep Believing Ministries

Scripture: Ephesians 3:10

Sometimes you discover a new truth by accident.

That happened to me recently as I was reading through Ephesians. Actually I've been reading and re-reading Ephesians for the last few months. When I read David Powlison's advice that we should master Ephesians and be mastered by it because "in a pinch you could do all counseling from Ephesians" and "It's all there: the big picture that organizes a myriad of details," I decided to go back and make it the focus of my daily Bible reading. So that's what I've been doing for the last few months. Sometimes I read a few verses, sometimes a chapter or two, sometimes I read the whole book. Occasionally I ponder a single verse.

I've been struck repeatedly by how Paul emphasizes the cosmic dimensions of God's plan. He does it in Ephesians 1 where he talks about God bringing all things together under the headship of Christ (v. 10) and how Christ is now seated far above all authority and power (v. 21). He does it again in chapter 6 when he says that we wrestle against principalities and powers and the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms (v. 12). Paul sees what happens here on earth as being closely connected to events in the spiritual realm. So with that in mind, I'm reading along in chapter 3 where Paul talks about how in the church Jews and Gentiles stand on an equal basis, with the same standing and the same privileges. That's a tremendous truth to think about. Then you come to this verse:

"His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms"
(Ephesians 3:10).

That's the sort of verse you might read quickly and not think about. But it deserves closer examination. Paul says that God has arranged things so that the church of Jesus Christ displays the "manifold" wisdom of God. The word means "many-colored." Picture a bouquet of multi-colored flowers or a piece of fabric with a vast variety of colors, red and pink and blue and brown and green and yellow. I have seen computer programs that promise that they can print pictures in "millions of colors." That's the idea here. God's wisdom has many hues, many varieties, and God intends to use the church (meaning those of us in the church) to display that wisdom.

Ray Stedman explains it this way:

The word translated manifold here is literally the many-colored wisdom of God. Why did the apostle choose this poetic adjective? It is because life consists of many colors. We all have blue days. And red hours of anger and passion. And golden moments of glory. And dark, somber valleys through which we must pass. And lush, green pastures into which we are sometimes led. God's love is manifest in all of these hues of life. So when you go through a blue time, it is God's love that you are learning. When you go through a dark and pressured time, the love of God is being manifested there. You may not see it, but God knows how to make it clear. And even the joyful times are manifestations of the many-colored wisdom of God.

So far, so good.

When you go through a blue time, it is God's love that you are learning.

But then look at that last phrase. God intends to display his "many-colored" wisdom to "the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms." That can only be a reference to the angelic beings watching from heaven. When Ligon Duncan preached on Ephesians 3:8-13, he painted this word picture:

The Apostle Paul is saying that God has put you up on the stage of history and that when you look up into the galleries and into those expensive boxes you are going to see the angelic powers of heaven, good and evil, because God is putting them in graduate school to learn from you of His wisdom and glory. In other words, God is going to display His glory to good angels and bad angels. He's going to display the wisdom of His plan to principalities and powers through you as the church.

Kenneth Wuest offers this succinct summary:

The Church thus becomes the university for angels, and each saint a professor.

The Church becomes the university for angels.

Folks, that's a mind-blowing insight. It's telling us that what happens to us on earth has a purpose that goes far beyond us personally. God intends to use the events of this life, the good and the bad, the happy and the sad, the positive and the negative, all of it together and each part individually, to make a display for all the universe to see. He does it so that the angels scattered across the universe, in all their various ranks and orders and levels, will see something of God's wisdom worked out through what happens to us here on earth.

Unanswered Questions

I find this perspective helpful because so much of what goes on around us seems to make little sense. I'm thinking of the heartaches of life, how one person gets cancer and dies while another person is spared cancer and yet another person gets the same cancer, goes through chemotherapy and survives. Why does one child live and another die? Why is one family hit with a seemingly endless series of trials? Why did this husband decide to walk away from his marriage? Why did the car wreck leave this man crippled but the man next to him walks away unscathed? The list goes on and on and on.

Why was this person promoted and that one passed over?
Why do some people want to get married but never find the right person?

Ephesians 3:10 offers us a unique perspective that we need to consider. I can say it in one simple sentence:

Something big is happening here.

Something much bigger than us.
Bigger than our own personal agenda.
Bigger than anything we've ever dreamed.

If we are Christians at all, we know that life isn't about us.
We've heard that for years.

But here is an insight that may bring light on some of those "why" questions.

God intends to use us as a demonstration of his wisdom to a whole galaxy of angelic beings who watch with great interest as we move through life on our way to heaven. They see us struggle, they watch us grapple with tragedy, they see us deal with setbacks, they pay attention when we cry out to our Father for "grace to help" in the nick of time. They see in ways we don't see how God's plan is moving forward through our suffering and pain and tears.

Now if this is so–and this seems to be exactly what Paul is inferring in Ephesians 3:10, lots of things that happen aren't just about us. Something much bigger is going through our struggles in this world. We wouldn't understand it even if God tried to explain it to us. But we get little hints of it in verses like this.

As I pondered this some more, I remembered that Jonathan Edwards commented that in heaven we will spend the vast stretches of eternity marveling with other believers about how the wisdom of God was displayed in his plan to save us and shape us into the image of his Son. When I first heard that, I thought to myself, "Well, fine. But I think after maybe 250 years or so, I'll have fully covered all the mysteries of my own earthly journey." I admit that's a very human way to look at it, but that's what I thought. But suppose God intends to use our life journey as a canvas on which to paint the richness of his wisdom for the angelic beings to study. Suddenly that lifts us into a realm of cosmic purpose that will truly stretch across the endless ages of eternity.

Something much bigger is going through our struggles in this world.

I think it means that at some point when we face hard times and when life makes no sense whatsoever, we need to stop and say to ourselves, "Something big is happening here." God never wastes anything. Not even the tiniest tear falls without a purpose.

We are giving lessons to a heavenly audience.

Sometimes we think that life should get easier as we get older. I doubt that is the case for most people. If anything, the mysteries of life become more profound as we realize how little we understand about why things happen the way they do.

Two people die every second.
But you are not dead.
Why?

Three Quotes

As a means of helping us think about this a little deeper, consider these three quotes gathered from very different authors in very different places.

The first quote comes from a pastor who asked the following question, "Where in the Bible did God ever give someone an easy job to do?" Now we may quibble with the question, but I think the larger point is quite true. It's hard to think of anyone in the Bible to whom God gave a truly "easy" job. Now why is that? God puts all of us to the test so that we will be forced to trust in him. If he only gave out "easy" assignments, we wouldn't have to trust him very much. Maybe we would conclude we didn't need him at all. But hard assignments drive us to our knees in prayer.

Earthly prosperity tends to be no friend of spiritual growth.

The second quote comes from a certain TV preacher. A few months ago, while listening to a snippet of a program, I heard him offer this insight: "God will never bring us to the place where we no longer need him."

And all God's children said, "Hmmmm."

That'll make you stop and think. Down deep there is a part of us that would like to come to a place where we don't have to trust in the Lord so much. Not that we don't want to pray, but secretly we'd like to be in such a place of earthly fulfillment where we didn't have to pray desperate prayers to the Almighty. It would be wonderful (or so we think) if things were going so well that all we had to do was to praise the Lord all day long.

Not going to happen.
Not this side of heaven.

God will never bring us to the place where we no longer need him.

If all our needs were met, we'd end up forgetting God just like the children of Israel did in the Old Testament. Earthly prosperity tends to be no friend of spiritual growth. And total prosperity generally means total disaster. I think that preacher was right on in what he said. God intends to bring us again and again to the place where we are crying out to the Lord, begging for his mercy and his grace.

That's not a fun place to be.
But it's where we need to be.
Anything that drives us to our knees is good for the soul.

The third quote comes from my friend Peter who pastors a house church in China. Last month he and his wife came to the U.S. for a special seminar in Dallas where they spent a week with leaders from other countries at a fancy retreat center. Peter said it was a very good week, but there was one drawback. "We had a beautiful room, wonderful meals, and everything we needed was provided for us. We didn't even need to pray."

It's always easier to pray when we have a consciousness of our own need. While we were with Peter, he prayed powerfully for us and for my wife in particular who was going through some physical difficulties at that time. It was a transforming moment to hear this Chinese pastor pray so fervently to the Lord.

So much faith!
So much earnest desire!

Later he told us that the Chinese church has no choice but to pray and ask God for healing. Given the pressures of the last sixty years, the church has learned to call upon the Lord fervently. I know I've used that word twice, but then I think of James 5:16, which in the King James Version tells us that the "fervent" prayers of a righteous man avail much with God.

The end of the whole matter is clear. Do not lose heart when hard times come. Something big is happening here.

Do not lose heart when hard times come.

Something bigger than you can see.
Something bigger than you can imagine.
Something so big that you can't begin to figure it out.

I believe God brings us back again and again to these times of desperation so that we will see that it's not about us and our problems. God intends to use our trials to teach us to pray and to trust him more so that (and this is the point of Ephesians 3:10) the angelic beings will behold in us the many-colored wisdom of God.

When we see a fellow saint going through hard times for which there seems to be no earthly explanation, let us erect over that spot a sign with these words:

Quiet
God at Work

When I was a teenager, I used to attend country churches where they would sing, "We'll understand it better by and by." Back then I didn't appreciate the depth of theology behind that song, but with the passage of many years I see it more clearly now. And in this one verse Paul pulls back the curtain to give us a peek at God's purposes that we would not otherwise know. As you face the trials of life, keep this truth in front of you and make it a bedrock of your faith:

Something big is happening here.

© Keep Believing Ministries

Some Amazing and Unknown Facts
★ Ants never sleep!

★ When the moon is directly overhead, you will weigh slightly less.

★ Alexander Graham Bell, the inventor of the telephone, never called his wife or mother because they were both deaf.

★ An ostrich's eye is bigger than its brain.

★ "I Am" is the shortest complete sentence in the English language.

★ Babies are born without knee caps – actually, they're made of cartilage and the bone hardens between the ages of 2 and 6 years.

★ Happy Birthday (the song) is copyrighted.

★ Butterflies taste with their feet.

★ A "jiffy" is an actual unit of time for 1/100th of a second.

★ It is impossible to sneeze with your eyes open.

★ Leonardo Da Vinci invented the scissors.

★ Minus 40 degrees Celsius is exactly the same as minus 40 degrees Fahrenheit.

★ No word in the English language rhymes with month, orange, silver or purple.

★ Shakespeare invented the words "assassination" and "bump."

★ Stewardesses is the longest word typed with only the left hand.

★ Elephants are the only animals that cannot jump.

★ The names of all the continents end with the same letter that they start with.

★ The sentence, "The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog" uses every letter in the English language.

★ The shortest war in history was between Zanzibar and England in 1896. Zanzibar surrendered after 38 minutes.

★ The strongest muscle in the body is the tongue.

★ The word "lethologica" describes the state of not being able to remember the word you want.

★ Camels have three eyelids to protect them from the blowing desert sand.

★ TYPEWRITER is the longest word that can be made using the letters on only one row of the keyboard.

★ You can't kill yourself by holding your breath.

★ Your stomach has to produce a new layer of mucus every two weeks or it will digest itself.

★ The dot over the letter "I" is called a tittle.

Engine Fire on Air India Flight From Newark to Mumbai

by Capt GS Bakshi

On Sunday evening 13th July 2014, the Air India's flight AI-144, a B-777, was ready for a routine flight from Newark to Mumbai with 300 passengers and 15 crew. The weather in New Jersey was heavy passing showers here and there.

It was a routine departure at about 5 pm (local time) for a long 15-16 hrs flight to Bombay nee Mumbai. The aircraft naturally was at its maximum take off weight, as it was fully loaded with the fuel required for this long transcontinental flight.

The take off run was a normal routine one. Immediately on lift off, the worst nightmare of a pilot, the loss of an engine at maximum take off weight, happened. The left engine caught fire, and, at the same time, the cockpit engine fire warnings did not function. The passengers and crew sitting on the left side were horrified to see flames from the left engine. Other airplanes and Air Traffic Control warned the Pilot of the engine being on fire. The Pilots, till that time unaware of the engine fire, checked up and carried out the emergency drills as per the required procedures. The B-777 is a 2 engine aircraft, and loosing one engine (50% power) at the maximum a/c weight on take off is a nightmare for the best of Pilots and in the best of circumstances.

In such an emergency, the Pilots will first think of making the aircraft light, which is done by dumping the extra fuel. For this, Pilots need to climb up to a designated minimum height and dump the fuel in areas already specified by the local airport authorities. The time to reach the dumping height and area could have taken 15 to 30 minutes, because of heavy weight and loss of an engine. The actual fuel dump can take another 30 to 40 minutes, depending on the amount of fuel to be dumped out. The exercise of dumping fuel to lighten the aircraft would have taken any thing around 60 to 70 minutes, a valuable time they did not have.

The Pilots had a serious emergency of an engine having been on fire at hand. This could have caused, secondary as yet unknown failures. They had to take an instant decision, which they rightfully took to land as soon as possible, rather than use up precious time to try and dump fuel.

The immediate landing back, of course, had its own problems - the very high landing weight. This, in turn, will need the aircraft to be landed at a much higher speed. The immediate anxiety of the Pilots in this case would have been three fold. Firstly, will the airplane stop in the available runway length, landing at about 200 Knots (which is 370 kms/hr), the minimum speed required at the weight. Secondly, will the landing gear take the load of landing at such a high speed and weight (85 tonnes more than the maximum design landing weight). Thirdly, they were flying only on one engine, which has its own problems of aircraft handling and control.

The Pilots averted a major emergency into becoming a possible catastrophe by landing the aircraft successfully back. The handling skills and good cool airmanship displayed by the Pilots was the primary reason of this emergency being converted into just an incident, which the Indian media thought was of no consequence of being reported or being commented upon. The visual media (all channels of TV) was only concerned on a non issue of why one 'Ved Pratap Vaidik' met a certain ' Hafiz Saeed' on a visit to Pakistan. The print media was merely interested in printing and commenting some dubious statistics where the ATC Controllers and Pilots have erred. Regrettably the media just shut their eyes to this incidence as it made no juicy news for them. They were not interested in how a major catastrophe was averted and lives of 315 persons were saved by the good professional handling and competent decisions of AIR INDIA PILOTS.

My congratulations to Capt Gautam Verma and his crew (2nd Commander Capt Niranjan Singh & First Officers Capt Pankaj Wadhawan & Capt Shilpika Das) for displaying airmanship and professional competence of the highest order in handling a most difficult situation competently and successfully.

It is disappointing that the PRO of Air India has also failed in bringing the true facts of the incidence to the notice of the visual and print media and getting the competence and proficiency of their employees due national recognition. It should also be a matter of great national concern that the Indian media had nothing to say about the competent handling of this grave in flight situation and preventing it becoming a catastrophe.

About Capt GS BAKSHI:

The writer is a retired Air India & Indian Air Force Pilot with over 40 years of fight experience.

Simply Amazing!!! An Inspiring Story of Rags to Riches

by Noshir Mistri

Naga Naresh Karutura has just passed out of IIT Madras in Computer Science and has joined Google in Bangalore.

You may ask, what's so special about this 21-year-old when there are hundreds of students passing out from various IITs and joining big companies like Google?

Naresh is special. His parents are illiterate. He has no legs and moves around in his powered wheel chair. (In fact, when I could not locate his lab, he told me over the mobile phone, 'I will come and pick you up'. And in no time, he was there to guide me.)

Ever smiling, optimistic and full of spirit; that is Naresh. He says, "God has always been planning things for me. That is why I feel I am lucky."

Read why Naresh feels he is lucky.

Childhood in a village

I spent the first seven years of my life in Teeparru, a small village in Andhra Pradesh, on the banks of the river Godavari. My father Prasad was a lorry driver and my mother Kumari, a house wife. Though they were illiterate, my parents instilled in me and my elder sister (Sirisha) the importance of studying.

Looking back, one thing that surprises me now is the way my father taught me when I was in the 1st and 2nd standards. My father would ask me questions from the text book, and I would answer them. At that time, I didn't know he could not read or write but to make me happy, he helped me in my studies!

Another memory that doesn't go away is the floods in the village and how I was carried on top of a buffalo by my uncle. I also remember plucking fruits from a tree that was full of thorns.

I used to be very naughty, running around and playing all the time with my friends.. I used to get a lot of scolding for disturbing the elders who slept in the afternoon. The moment they started scolding, I would run away to the fields!

I also remember finishing my school work fast in class and sleeping on the teacher's lap!

January 11, 1993, the fateful day

On the January 11, 1993 when we had the sankranti holidays, my mother took my sister and me to a nearby village for a family function. From there we were to go with our grandmother to our native place. But my grandmother did not come there. As there were no buses that day, my mother took a lift in my father's friend's lorry. As there were many people in the lorry, he made me sit next to him, close to the door.

It was my fault; I fiddled with the door latch and it opened wide throwing me out. As I fell, my legs got cut by the iron rods protruding from the lorry. Nothing happened to me except scratches on my legs.

The accident had happened just in front of a big private hospital but they refused to treat me saying it was an accident case. Then a police constable who was passing by took us to a government hospital.

First I underwent an operation as my small intestine got twisted. The doctors also bandaged my legs. I was there for a week. When the doctors found that gangrene had developed and it had reached up to my knees, they asked my father to take me to a district hospital. There, the doctors scolded my parents a lot for neglecting the wounds and allowing the gangrene to develop. But what could my ignorant parents do?

In no time, both my legs were amputated up to the hips.

I remember waking up and asking my mother, where are my legs? I also remember that my mother cried when I asked the question. I was in the hospital for three months.

Life without legs

I don't think my life changed dramatically after I lost both my legs. Because all at home were doting on me, I was enjoying all the attention rather than pitying myself. I was happy that I got a lot of fruits and biscuits.

'I never wallowed in self-pity'
July 28, 2008

The day I reached my village, my house was flooded with curious people; all of them wanted to know how a boy without legs looked. But I was not bothered; I was happy to see so many of them coming to see me, especially my friends!
All my friends saw to it that I was part of all the games they played; they carried me everywhere.

God's hand

I believe in God. I believe in destiny. I feel he plans everything for you. If not for the accident, we would not have moved from the village to Tanuku, a town. There I joined a missionary school, and my father built a house next to the school. Till the tenth standard, I studied in that school.

If I had continued in Teeparu, I may not have studied after the 10th. I may have started working as a farmer or someone like that after my studies. I am sure God had other plans for me.

My sister, my friend

When the school was about to reopen, my parents moved from Teeparu to Tanuku, a town, and admitted both of us in a Missionary school. They decided to put my sister also in the same class though she is two years older. They thought she could take care of me if both of us were in the same class. My sister never complained.

She would be there for everything. Many of my friends used to tell me, you are so lucky to have such a loving sister. There are many who do not care for their siblings.

She carried me in the school for a few years and after a while, my friends took over the task. When I got the tricycle, my sister used to push me around in the school.

My life, I would say, was normal, as everyone treated me like a normal kid. I never wallowed in self-pity. I was a happy boy and competed with others to be on top and the others also looked at me as a competitor.

Inspiration

I was inspired by two people when in school; my Maths teacher Pramod Lal who encouraged me to participate in various local talent tests, and a brilliant boy called Chowdhary, who was my senior.

When I came to know that he had joined Gowtham Junior College to prepare for IIT-JEE, it became my dream too. I was school first in 10th scoring 542/600.

Because I topped in the state exams, Gowtham Junior College waived the fee for me. Pramod Sir's recommendation also helped. The fee was around Rs 50,000 per year, which my parents could never afford.

Moving to a residential school

Living in a residential school was a big change for me because till then my life centred around home and school and I had my parents and sister to take care of all my needs. It was the first time that I was interacting with society. It took one year for me to adjust to the new life.

There, my inspiration was a boy called K K S Bhaskar who was in the top 10 in IIT-JEE exams. He used to come to our school to encourage us. Though my parents didn't know anything about Gowtham Junior School or IIT, they always saw to it that I was encouraged in whatever I wanted to do.. If the results were good, they would praise me to the skies and if bad, they would try to see something good in that. They did not want me to feel bad.

They are such wonderful supportive parents.

Life at IIT- Madras

Though my overall rank in the IIT-JEE was not that great (992), I was 4th in the physically handicapped category. So, I joined IIT, Madras to study Computer Science.

Here, my role model was Karthik who was also my senior in school. I looked up to him during my years at IIT- Madras.

He had asked for attached bathrooms for those with special needs before I came here itself. So, when I came here, the room had attached bath. He used to help me and guide me a lot when I was here.

I evolved as a person in these four years, both academically and personally. It has been a great experience studying here. The people I was interacting with were so brilliant that I felt privileged to sit along with them in the class. Just by speaking to my lab mates, I gained a lot..

'There are more good people in society than bad ones'

July 28, 2008

Words are inadequate to express my gratitude to Prof Pandurangan and all my lab mates; all were simply great. I was sent to Boston along with four others for our internship by Prof Pandurangan. It was a great experience.

Joining Google R&D

I did not want to pursue PhD as I wanted my parents to take rest now.

Morgan Stanley selected me first but I preferred Google because I wanted to work in pure computer science, algorithms and game theory.

I am lucky

Do you know why I say I am lucky?

I get help from total strangers without me asking for it. Once after my second year at IIT, I with some of my friends was travelling in a train for a conference. We met a kind gentleman called Sundar in the train, and he has been taking care of my hostel fees from then on.

I have to mention about Jaipur foot. I had Jaipur foot when I was in 3rd standard. After two years, I stopped using them. As I had almost no stems on my legs, it was very tough to tie them to the body. I found walking with Jaipur foot very, very slow. Sitting also was a problem. I found my tricycle faster because I am one guy who wants to do things faster.

One great thing about the hospital is, they don't think their role ends by just fixing the Jaipur foot; they arrange for livelihood for all. They asked me what help I needed from them. I told them at that time, if I got into an IIT, I needed financial help from them. So, from the day I joined IIT, Madras, my fees were taken care of by them. So, my education at the IIT was never a burden on my parents and they could take care of my sister's Nursing studies.

Surprise awaited me at IIT

After my first year, when I went home, two things happened here at the Institute without my knowledge.

I got a letter from my department that they had arranged a lift and ramps at the department for me. It also said that if I came a bit early and checked whether it met with my requirements, it would be good.

Second surprise was, the Dean, Prof Idichandy and the Students General Secretary, Prasad had located a place that sold powered wheel chairs. The cost was Rs 55,000. What they did was, they did not buy the wheel chair; they gave me the money so that the wheel chair belonged to me and not the institute.

My life changed after that. I felt free and independent.

That's why I say I am lucky. God has planned things for me and takes care of me at every step.

The world is full of good people

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