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

Focus: Christian Life

Volume 4 No. 239 September 26, 2014

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The Assyrian Green Church in Tikrit, Iraq, built in the 7th century, which was destroyed by ISIS
The Assyrian Green Church in Tikrit, Iraq, built in the 7th century, Destroyed by ISIS
[See the article below for details.]
TABLE OF CONTENTS
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1. Bible Readings for This Sunday (September 28)

2. Sermons for This Sunday (September 28)

Sermons For the 2nd Sunday After Sleebo Feast

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

3. Beware of the Leaven of the Pharisees and Sad'ducees

For the Jews, leaven was a sign or symbol of evil influence. It signified anything which rots and corrupts, not just physically but spiritually and morally as well. Jesus warned his disciples to avoid the way of the Pharisees and Sadducees who sought their own counsels rather than the mind of God. They were blinded by their own arrogance and were unable to recognize the truth and wisdom which Jesus spoke in the name of his Father in heaven. What kind of leaven (spiritual, moral, intellectual) do we allow to influence our way of thinking and living? ...

4. Jesus Criticizes the Religious Leaders

Knowing the Pharisee's thoughts, Jesus used the occasion to illustrate the basic flaw of all the Pharisees. They were primarily concerned with outward cleanliness at the neglect of inward cleanliness, making themselves hypocrites. Jesus said that God made both inside and outside, so both were important, but the Pharisees' insides were full of greed and wickedness. The only way for them to become inwardly clean was to repent, and Jesus said that the way to repent of greed was to give to the needy what the Pharisees greedily possessed. ...

5. The Good Life - A Call to Purity

"The Good Life" isn't found in getting away from your trials. Rather, (as we shall see), the good life exists when you have the favor of God upon your life, so that you are saved through your trials. ...

6. Tongue - The Forgotten Vital Organ

The "words of the wise," as Proverbs says, heal and strengthen as they spread encouragement, wisdom, peace, and the Gospel message. The wise actually use their tongues less than other people. The more powerful the tongue, the less it needs to be used. It's like the heart of a well-trained athlete - when someone is really in shape, the beats per minute actually decrease as the heart becomes more and more efficient. In the same way, why don't I condition my tongue to speak fewer words with more meaning? ....

7. The Word In Your Mouth And Heart

The door of your heart is a doorway into your spirit and once something is in your spirit and you open the door of your mouth that thing is released into your life. Jesus said that this way, "For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh. A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things." ...

8. Five Evils of a Bad Attitude

Over the course of our lifetime we will struggle and fight against many sins. Some we will overcome easily, while others will follow and haunt us for most of our lives. I believe for some of us, the struggle to maintain a good and godly attitude in all circumstances is a problem we don't give much attention to. Is a bad attitude really that bad? I was convinced about this myself. ...

9. Recipe: Fish Molee

Tangy fish cooked in coconut milk from Kerala. It is very healthy too. ...

10. Family Special: Do You Know How Lucky You Are?

Next time someone approaches you and asks, "Do you realize how lucky you are? These days are going to fly. Enjoy them." Be prepared to look them in the eye, smile warmly and respond, "I know! That's why I celebrate each day as being an absolute gift!"

The best is yet to come. Starting Now. ...

11. Inspirational: The Carpenter

Once upon a time, two brothers, who lived on adjoining farms, fell into conflict. It was the first serious rift in 40 years of farming side-by-side, sharing machinery and trading labor and goods as needed without a hitch.

Then the long collaboration fell apart. It began with a small misunderstanding and it grew into a major difference and finally, it exploded into an exchange of bitter words followed by weeks of silence. ...

12. Islamists Destroy Seventh Century Church in Tikrit, Iraq

According to a report by BBC Arabic, Islamists in Tikrit have destroyed The Assyrian Green Church, built in 700 A.D., and Forty Shrine, the oldest Islamic religious shrine in Iraq.

Islamists, most likely ISIS, planted explosives around the Assyrian Green Church, which is located inside the presidential palaces compound in the center of the city, and detonated them, completely destroying the ancient church, which belonged to the Assyrian Church of the East. ...

13. About Malankara World

This Sunday in Church
Bible Readings for This Sunday (September 28)

Sermons for This Sunday (September 28)
This Week's Features

Beware of the Leaven of the Pharisees and Sad'ducees

by Don Schwager

Gospel: Matthew 16:5-12

5 When the disciples reached the other side, they had forgotten to bring any bread. 6 Jesus said to them, "Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sad'ducees." 7 And they discussed it among themselves, saying, "We brought no bread." 8 But Jesus, aware of this, said, "O men of little faith, why do you discuss among yourselves the fact that you have no bread? 9 Do you not yet perceive? Do you not remember the five loaves of the five thousand, and how many baskets you gathered? 10 Or the seven loaves of the four thousand, and how many baskets you gathered? 11 How is it that you fail to perceive that I did not speak about bread? Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sad'ducees." 12 Then they understood that he did not tell them to beware of the leaven of bread, but of the teaching of the Pharisees and Sad'ducees. - Matthew 16:5-12

Meditation:

Do you allow anxiety or fear to keep you from trusting in God's provision for your life? The apostles worried because they forgot to bring bread for their journey. And that was right after Jesus miraculously fed a group of five thousand people (Matthew 14:17-21), and then on another occasion four thousand people (Matthew 15:34-38)! How easy it is to forget what God has already done for us and to doubt what he promises to do for us in the future as well. Scripture tells us that "perfect love casts out fear" (1 John 4:18). Ask God to flood your heart with his love and to increase your faith in his provident care for you.

Jesus cautioned the disciples to beware of bread that corrupts, such as the "leaven of the Pharisees." When leaven ferments a lump of wet dough, it transforms the dough and changes it into life-enriching bread when heated. Left-over dough which had been leavened eventually rotted and became putrified. For the Jews, leaven was a sign or symbol of evil influence. It signified anything which rots and corrupts, not just physically but spiritually and morally as well. Jesus warned his disciples to avoid the way of the Pharisees and Sadducees who sought their own counsels rather than the mind of God. They were blinded by their own arrogance and were unable to recognize the truth and wisdom which Jesus spoke in the name of his Father in heaven. What kind of leaven (spiritual, moral, intellectual) do we allow to influence our way of thinking and living? Jesus sharply contrasts the bread and leaven which produces life, especially the abundant life which God offers through Jesus, the true bread of heaven, with the bread and leaven which rots and corrupts both body, mind, and soul.

As the apostles continued to worry about their lack of physical bread for the journey, Jesus reminded them of his miraculous provision of bread in the feeding of the five thousand and the four thousand. He then upbraided them for their lack of trust in God. Aren't we like the apostles? We too easily get preoccupied with the problems, needs, and worries of the present moment, and we forget the most important reality of all -- God's abiding presence with us! When the people of Israel wandered in the desert homeless and helpless for forty years, God was with them every step of the way. And he provided for them shelter, food, water, and provision, as long as they trusted in him. Each day he gave them just what they needed. Jesus teaches us to trust in God's abiding presence with us and in his promise to provide us what we need each and every day to live as his sons and daughters. Do you pray with joyful confidence, "Father, give us this day our daily bread"?

"Lord Jesus, you alone are the true bread of life which sustains us each and every day. Give me joy and strength to serve you always and help me to turn away from the leaven of sin and worldliness which brings corruption and death."

Source: The Gospel of Matthew: A Commentary & Meditation; (c) 2007 Don Schwager

Jesus Criticizes the Religious Leaders
Gospel: Luke 11:37-54

Although the Pharisee we first read about today may have wanted to appear as if he was a hospitable person, you can be sure he wasn't being motivated by kindness when he invited Jesus to share a meal at his house. Rather, he was hoping to find fault with Jesus in order to report it to his fellow Pharisees. And it didn't take him long. He was amazed to see that Jesus "sat down to eat without first performing the ceremonial washing required by Jewish custom" (Luke 11:38).

Knowing the Pharisee's thoughts, Jesus used the occasion to illustrate the basic flaw of all the Pharisees. They were primarily concerned with outward cleanliness at the neglect of inward cleanliness, making themselves hypocrites. Jesus said that God made both inside and outside, so both were important, but the Pharisees' insides were full of greed and wickedness. The only way for them to become inwardly clean was to repent, and Jesus said that the way to repent of greed was to give to the needy what the Pharisees greedily possessed.

Also, for the sake of outward appearance, the Pharisees majored in minors. That is, they emphasized the least important things and neglected what was most important. For example, when they picked some of their garden herbs, they would be careful to take a tenth of them and give them to the priests, because the Law of Moses required the Israelites to tithe on their increase. Jesus endorsed their tithing, but criticized them for neglecting other much more important things, like teaching people about and sharing God's love, or defending those who were treated unjustly.

The final proof of the outward show of the Pharisees' religion was their love of the seats of honor at the synagogue and the respectful greetings they received from people in the marketplace. They were not the kind of people who gave secretly to the poor or who prayed behind closed doors. Everything they did was a show so that people would see how holy they supposedly were. They loved it when they were honored by others for putting on their act!

In the same category were the religious teachers who considered themselves experts in the Law of Moses. They taught the common people their own strict interpretations of what God required, putting burdens on them that God never intended for them to carry. They made it next to impossible for people to please God. Jesus said they were no different than the evil religious leaders of the Old Testament who persecuted and killed the prophets whom God sent. In fact, Jesus predicted that they would persecute and kill future prophets and apostles whom God would send, one of them, of course, being Himself. Both Pharisees and religious teachers were very religious people who, unless they repented and believed in Jesus, would spend eternity in hell.

Q. Why do you suppose Jesus said that the generation of His day would be held responsible for the murder of all God's prophets from the creation of the world, from Abel to Zechariah? Is that fair? Will He not hold responsible the actual murderers?

A. Jesus knew that His generation would be responsible for His own death, and certainly, as God's only Son, Jesus was much more valuable than all the former prophets combined. They were men created in God's image and sent by God, but Jesus was God! So perhaps He meant that His generation would lay up more guilt by killing Him than if they had been responsible for the death of every prophet God had sent since the creation of the world.

Application:

All of us, and especially Christian leaders, can become guilty of being Pharisaical. Here are some healthy questions that we need to ask ourselves from time to time: Does my religion consist mainly of outward conformity to a few aspects of the Christian faith, such as going to church once a week and paying my tithes? Am I living for Christ every hour of every day, spreading God's love, giving to the needy and defending those who are treated unjustly? Do I act more holy when I'm in church than I do at home? Do I do any good deeds privately, proving that my Christianity is not just an act to gain the praise of others?

Source: Family Style Devotions

The Good Life - A Call to Purity

by Steve Brandon

Scripture: 1 Peter 3:10-12

1. Watch Your Speech (verse 10b).
2. Watch Your Actions (verse 11a).
3. Watch Your Relationships (verse 11b).
4. He Watches (verse 12).

In our exposition of 1 Peter, we find ourselves midway through chapter 3 at verses 10-12. Let's begin by considering the passage.

1 Peter 3:10-12
For, "The one who desires life, to love and see good days,
must keep his tongue from evil and his lips speaking deceit.
He must turn away from evil and do good;
he must seek peace and pursue it.
For the eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous,
and His ears attend to their prayer,
but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.

With these words, Peter introduces our subject this morning, which is, "The Good Life." You can see it right there in verse 10, "For, 'The one who desires life, to love and see good days.'"

As we have seen from our previous study in 1 Peter, he is writing to a people who are facing very difficult times. They are experiencing "various trials" (1:6). They are facing slander from those outside the church (2:12). Some are facing difficulties in the work environment (2:18-20). Some are facing hardships from within their own families (3:1). They were "suffering in the flesh" (4:1). They were being "reviled for the name of Christ." They were suffering as a Christian (4:16).

And yet, through it all, Peter promises "the good life" to those who would seek it. Here in America, we can think that "the good life" only exists when we have financial security, or when we have the toys of the world to occupy our time in pleasure, or when we have the stable job that provides for an opportunity to spend our weekends at the lake. In other words, we tend to look toward a life of ease.

But, that's not the good life that Peter is talking about here in verse 10. "The Good Life" isn't found in getting away from your trials. Rather, (as we shall see), the good life exists when you have the favor of God upon your life, so that you are saved through your trials. Consider well the words of verse 12, "For the eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous, and His ears attend to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil." That's Peter's conclusion. "The good life comes when you so live in such a way that God's favor is upon you." The good life doesn't merely come when you receive blessings in this world. Rather, the good life comes when God sustains you through the troubles of the world.

I heard a man say this week, something to this effect, "The trials that I have faced in the past few years, I would wish on nobody. But, the lessons that I have learned from the Lord, I would not exchange for the world." That's Peter's message. That's my message this morning. The good life is found, not when you can enjoy the pleasures of life, but when you experiences the sustaining hand of God through the difficulties of life. And when you do, you will desire nothing other than the sustaining hand of God upon your life.

Now, Peter's message happened to be the exact message that David recorded for us in Psalm 34. As you can probably see in your Bible, these three verses that I read are a direct quotation from the Old Testament. Every single word comes from Psalm 34, with the exception of the first word, the word, "for." Everything else is from the Old Testament. As such, it calls us back to spend some time in Psalm 34 before coming to 1 Peter.

So let's consider Psalm 34 as an extended introduction to our text this morning. If you look at your Bible, you can see that Psalm 34 begins with a superscription, which describes the historical context to the Psalm, that is, the circumstances surrounding David's writing of this Psalm. The superscription reads, "A Psalm of David when he feigned madness before Abimelech, who drove him away and he departed." These words are a reference to a circumstance that took place in David's life shortly before he wrote the words of Psalm 34. They are recorded for us in 1 Samuel 21.

So, let's consider 1 Samuel 21. These words will serve as a good introduction to Psalm 34, which will serve as a good introduction to our text. (Eventually, we will get back to Psalm 34).

1 Samuel 21 starts off with David on the run. He is fleeing from Saul, who wanted to kill him (1 Sam. 20:33). He's fleeing alone, without his best friend, Jonathan, without any protection (he has no armor or bodyguards to protect him), and without food. In his flight, he came to Nob (verse 1), where he encountered a friend of his: a priest named Ahimelech. As David was hungry, he asked the priest for some food. Ahimelech gave them some of the sacred bread. Let's pick up the story in verse 8, ...

1 Samuel 21:8-10
David said to Ahimelech, "Now is there not a spear or a sword on hand? For I brought neither my sword nor my weapons with me, because the king's matter was urgent." Then the priest said, "The sword of Goliath the Philistine, whom you killed in the valley of Elah, behold, it is wrapped in a cloth behind the ephod; if you would take it for yourself, take [it.] For there is no other except it here." And David said, "There is none like it; give it to me." Then David arose and fled that day from Saul, and went to Achish king of Gath.

At this point, you need to realize what David has done. He has fled the danger of Saul, only to arrive in a greater danger. He has jumped out of the frying pan and into the fire. Think about his new danger. First of all, he is alone. He has no one to defend him. He has no one to come to his aid. Second, he flees to Gath, as coastal town of the Philistines. During the days of David, the Philistines were great enemies of the Israelites. There were constant wars between them, fighting for the Shephelah, the hilly region between the Mediterranean Sea and the mountains of Jerusalem. Gath was a Philistine stronghold. He has come into the heart of enemy territory. Thirdly, he is carrying the sword of Goliath! Goliath was from the city of Gath. The sword that David was carrying was the very sword that he used to chop off the head of Goliath. And they recognized David. Look at verse 11, ...

1 Samuel 21:11-12
But the servants of Achish said to him, "Is this not David the king of the land? Did they not sing of this one as they danced, saying, 'Saul has slain his thousands, And David his ten thousands'?" And David took these words to heart, and greatly feared Achish king of Gath.

David knew that his life was in great danger. David was public enemy number 1, walking into town, alone and without defense! Can you imagine Osama Bin Ladin, fleeing a skirmish in Afghanistan, only to find himself at ground zero in New York. People start talking, "Is this not Osama Bin Ladin, who orchestrated the acts of terror that resulted in the death of thousands of innocent Americans?" David was in trouble, and he knew it. His escape was ingenious, which is described in verse 13, ...

1 Samuel 21:13
So he disguised his sanity before them, and acted insanely in their hands, and scribbled on the doors of the gate, and let his saliva run down into his beard.

Children, I don't suggest this course of action the next time that you are in trouble and want to avoid being spanked. David's circumstances were unique, and not recommended for your application.

Back to David, you can only imagine this scene. His beard is soaking wet with the saliva that he refused to swallow. He was defacing the property of the Philistine city. You can probably assume that strange sounds were coming out of his mouth. His eyes were probably glazed over. But, his performance was so good that it would have earned him an Oscar award, which is what verse 14 indicates, ...

1 Samuel 21:14
Then Achish (who was also called "Abimelech") said to his servants, "Behold, you see the man behaving as a madman. Why do you bring him to me? Do I lack madmen, that you have brought this one to act the madman in my presence? Shall this one come into my house?"

For some reason, the LORD turned the heart of the king of that place like channels of water to send David away (Prov. 21:1). He had escaped his danger. As chapter 22, verse 1 informs us, he escaped to "the cave of Adullam," where he was soon thereafter joined by some of his companions. It was in the cave, in relative security, that David wrote the words of Psalm 34.

And so, let's consider the words that David wrote in Psalm 34. This Psalm begins with David's determination to worship and praise the Lord. He says, ...

Psalm 34:1-2a
I will bless the LORD at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth. My soul shall make its boast in the LORD;

David's pledge here is to lift high the LORD! And his worship is not without its effect upon others. Verse 2 continues, ...

Psalm 34:2b
The humble shall hear it and rejoice.

Finally, David calls others to join him in worship.

Psalm 34:3
O magnify the LORD with me, And let us exalt His name together.

What's so encouraging about this Psalm is the circumstances that surrounded it! David had been delivered from great danger. And His deliverance turned to worship. This is what the next four verses explain....

Psalm 34:4-7
I sought the LORD, and He answered me, And delivered me from all my fears.
They looked to Him and were radiant, And their faces shall never be ashamed.
This poor man cried and the LORD heard him, And saved him out of all his troubles.
The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear Him, And rescues them.

David worshiped the LORD because he was delivered out of all his troubles. This is why we worship the LORD as well. We worship Him, because He saved us at the cross of Christ! Do you want to be stimulated in your worship? Reflect upon the cross on which the prince of glory died! Realize what God has saved you from. And then, you will be able to say with David, "I will bless the LORD at all times; and His praise shall continually be in my mouth" (verse 1).

Perhaps as you reflect upon your own desire to worship the LORD, it may seem as if you don't have much of a desire. Perhaps it is because you haven't been rescued from your sin. If this is you, I exhort you to call upon the Lord, in a day in which he can be found. Perhaps you are here this morning, and are trusting Christ, but are walking through some particular difficulties of life, and thus, are finding it difficult to worship the Lord. Well, take heart, because David turns from a worshiper (in verses 1-3) to a teacher in verses 8 and following. He will teach us how to rejoice through trials.

Psalm 34:8-10
O taste and see that the LORD is good; How blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him!
O fear the LORD, you His saints; For to those who fear Him, there is no want.
The young lions do lack and suffer hunger; But they who seek the LORD shall not be in want of any good thing.

What a great picture of the goodness of God to those who trust in Him. Tribulation and distress and trials and persecutions all await the child of God. David will later say this in verse 19, "Many are the afflictions of the righteous." But, the goodness of God will see to it that he will be delivered out of them all (verse 19b). So, take refuge in the Lord (verse 8). So, fear the Lord (verse 9). Because, ... He is good.

The illustration of verse 10 is great.

Psalm 34:10
The young lions do lack and suffer hunger; But they who seek the LORD shall not be in want of any good thing.

We know that lion as "the king of the forest." He is the strongest and the mightiest of all animals. Among the lions, the young lions are the strongest, able to capture their pray with relative ease. But, even the strongest, of lions face times of hunger, when their prey gets away. But, in contrast to that, the one who seeks the Lord will not lack any good things (verse 10). In verse 11, David then explains how the fear of the LORD expresses itself.

Psalm 34:11
Come, you children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the LORD.

Do you want to know the fear of the LORD? Do you want to know the goodness of God upon your life? Do you want to experience "the good life"? Look at verse 12, ...

Psalm 34:12-16a
Who is the man who desires life, And loves [length of] days that he may see good?
Keep your tongue from evil, And your lips from speaking deceit.
Depart from evil, and do good; Seek peace, and pursue it.
The eyes of the LORD are toward the righteous, And His ears are [open] to their cry.
The face of the LORD is against evildoers,

Peter quotes these words in our eventual text this morning. Suffice it to say here that David exhorts his listeners to a righteous life as the key to the good life! That's why the title of my message this morning is, "The Good Life - A Call to Purity." Each of David's exhortations are a call to righteousness. Now, at this point, I need to be clear, neither David nor Peter are saying that these actions merit salvation. Each of them would contend that you are saved by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone. However, the blessing of God comes upon those who live righteously.

Be righteous in what you say. Be righteous in what you do. Be righteous in your relationships. Why? Because the Lord is watching us. And His favor comes upon the righteous. But, His fury comes upon the unrighteous. Verse 16 ends with these chilling words, ...

Psalm 34:16b
... To cut off the memory of them from the earth.

When difficulties come, the righteous will live to see another day. The righteous will live to see the good days. But, with the wicked it isn't so. They may escape today. They may escape tomorrow. But, eventually, they will be cut off from all remembrance of the earth. The promise of deliverance comes in verses 17 and 18.

Psalm 34:17-18
[The righteous] cry and the LORD hears, And delivers them out of all their troubles.
The LORD is near to the brokenhearted, And saves those who are crushed in spirit.

One of the things that you really need to catch this morning is that righteous aren't protected from the trouble and hardship and difficulties of life. Rather, the righteous are protected through the trouble and hardship and difficulties of life. When the troubles come, those of faith cry out to the LORD, and He delivers them. When heartache comes, the LORD knows and will sustain us through those times. David concludes with a fine summary of how we ought to face the trials that come our way,

Psalm 34:19-22
Many are the afflictions of the righteous; But the LORD delivers him out of them all.
He keeps all his bones; Not one of them is broken.
Evil shall slay the wicked; And those who hate the righteous will be condemned.
The LORD redeems the soul of His servants; And none of those who take refuge in Him will be condemned.

What has amazed me in studying this Psalm this week is that it's the message of 1 Peter! D. A. Carson points out that Peter alludes to this Psalm on up to eight occasions, saying that Peter refers to "Psalm 34 as a foundation passage for Christian ethics." [1] What is Psalm 34 teaching? It's not that the Christian life is free from trials. Rather, it's that the Christian will be brought through the trials. Or, to expand it a little bit, "Suffer now, and God will preserve you through your suffering, so that you will experience glory later."

This takes us back now to 1 Peter. After that long introduction (and background), we are now ready to understand Peter's point in chapter 3. The good life isn't obtained through possessions and pleasure, Rather, the good life is obtained through a life of faith that God will preserve THROUGH the difficulties of life. Do you want to live the good life? Live a life of purity.

Peter (and David) give us four application points. Number 1, ...

1. Watch Your Speech (verse 10b).

"The one who desires life, to love and see good days, must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit." (verse 10).

The point here is simply that you need watch what you say. Watch what comes out of your mouth. Peter tells us not to allow evil to come out of our mouths. Peter tells us not to allow deceitful things to come out of our mouths.

The Proverbs are packed with illustrations of the damage that our tongues can do. "Death and life are in the power of the tongue" (Proverbs 18:21). You can say things that will absolutely destroy others. Parents, you can wound your children for a lifetime with the words that you say. Church family, you can wound people deeply with your words.

I know, because I have done it. I have wounded people with my words. I know because it has been done to me. There have been times that I have received an email, and have instantly broken down in tears, because of the crushing power of words. I remember a time when my wife was on the phone with someone. The words and the wrath and the anger came so strongly from the other side of the conversation that after hanging up the phone, my wife was physically shaking from shock at the depths of the anger that came from the one on the other side of the phone. I merely say with Peter, if you want to know the good life, keep such words far from your mouth.

"A fool's lips bring strife, and his mouth calls for blows" (Proverbs 18:6). It is your tongue that can bring contention and strife among people. It is your tongue that initiates the fights we have. Think in your mind about a time when you remember seeing people fighting with each other. Perhaps it was back in middle school, where I remember fights breaking out every week. Something happened which caused a hostility between two people. And then, the offending party lets the other party know how much they didn't appreciate what was done. And then, another sharp comment comes back. Pretty soon, they are yelling at each other. And then the punches come.

It's not that punches come first and the words follow. No, it's the words that provoke the fight. The punches follow the words. You can destroy people with your words. Your words start fights. Your words will ensnare you.

Consider another Proverb: "A false witness will not go unpunished, and he who tells lies will not escape" (Proverbs 19:5). When you speak falsely against another person, your sin will find you out. You aren't going to escape from the lies that you tell. God has made this world in such a way that the falsehood that you speak is like a boomerang. It proceeds out of your mouth and floats around. Eventually, it will come back and harm you.

For your own good, let your mouth speak forth only what is good and right and honorable and edifying. "Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear" (Eph. 4:29). Let your mouth speak forth what is good and edifying, that it might give grace to others.

Is this easy? No! It's incredibly difficult. Oh, how easy it is for our tongues to speak evil. It's easy because our tongues are wild and reckless and dangerous. James tells us that "every species of beasts and birds, or reptiles and creatures of the sea, is tamed and has been tamed by the human race. But no one can tame the tongue; it is a restless evil and full of deadly poison" (James 3:7-8).

You can go to the zoo and see all sorts of wild and ferocious animals. You can see tigers. You can see grizzly bears. You can see elephants. You can see gorillas. You can see alligators. You can see piranhas. You can see wild boars. You can see all sorts of dangerous snakes: cobras and pythons and rattle snakes. But, one animal that you will never see caged up in a zoo is the human tongue. Nobody has learned how to tame the tongue.

The reason is really quite simple. Nobody has learned how to tame the human heart. See, the tongue isn't merely a muscle that rests in our mouth. Rather, our tongues are muscles that reach deep into our hearts. What is in our hearts comes out when we speak. And so, in order to tame the tongue, you need to tame the heart.

There is only one way to tame the heart. You need to give it to God! You need to confess your failures. You need to repent of your sins. You need to cry out to God for help. You need to tell God, "My heart is sinful and wicked and in need of much help. Change my heart, O God! Conform it to the image of your Son. Help me to stay away from gossip. Help me to refrain from speaking poorly of anyone. Help me to avoid complaining. Help me to insult no one." Only then will you be able to (1) Watch Your Speech (verse 10b).

In order to live the good life, not only do you need to watch Your speech (verse 10b). But, you also need to ...

2. Watch Your Actions (verse 11a).

That is, the things that you do. Peter said in verse 11 (quoting from David), "He must turn away from evil and do good."

It doesn't take much to explain this! The words are simple and straightforward. Peter's words describe the act of repentance. They describe the act of turning from sin and seeking righteousness, turning from that which is bad, and turning to that which is good.

You might easily think of this like a kickoff returner, who avoids the opposing would-be tacklers.[2] Just imagine yourself being Devin Hester. The kickoff comes your way. It hangs in the air. You catch it. And now, you begin to head for paydirt on the other side, but there are many hindrances to you getting there. You have eleven guys running toward you, trying to tackle you. So, you start off to the right. As you head that way, you see that there are five guys coming your way, with only three blockers. And so, you turn to your left. And as you do, you notice a guy who tried to take the long way around the block and so you step up and follow into his gap toward the left. And just about that time, you see someone who beat his block, looking right at you. And so, you fake left and turn back to the right. A guy gets close to you and reaches out his hand to grab your jersey, so you dip your shoulder, and he misses high. Then, you come upon a guy on the ground, who's trying to grab at your heals, and so you give a little hop to get over him. And then, a guy comes from the right, shooting at your hips, and so, you stiff-arm him and turn up field. Just when you think that you are in the clear, someone grabs you around the waist, but they don't quite have their arms all of the way around you. And so, as you keep your legs moving, you are able to shed the tackle. And then, with nothing between you and the goal-line, you put forth all of your effort to run just as fast as you can to the goal line, so that you can earn six point for your team.

That's a great picture of what it means on a practical level to "turn away from evil and do good." Evil is all around us, beckoning to grab us and tackle us, and pull us down. It may come in many forms. It may come by way of your television. It may come by way of the things that you read. It may come by way of the internet. It may come in the form of another person, who agitates you and provokes a fight. It may come in the form of temptations that arise when facing difficulties of life, like losing a customer at work, like dealing with your declining health, like facing a wayward daughter, or like living with an unloving husband. And when these evil would-be tacklers come along, you are to avoid them like the plague. Stay away from them. Shun them. Stiff arm them.

In the midst of all of the evil, we need to keep our goal in mind. We need to head up-field. It does no good for Devin Hester to avoid the tacklers by heading backwards toward his own goal-line. Nor does it do him any good to merely go from side to side. Can you imagine him coming off the field after running back and forth across the field, only to be tackled without gaining any yards. When Lovie said, "What were you doing?" Devin says, "Coach, they didn't tackle me for 20 seconds. Wasn't that great?" See, it's not enough merely to avoid the evil. We also need to do the good.

God doesn't merely say, "You shall not have any gods before me" (Ex. 20:3). He also says, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength" (Mark 12:30). God doesn't merely say, "Make no covenant with [the Hittites and the Girgashites and the Amonites and the Canaanites and the Perrizites and the Hivites and the Jebusites] and show no favor to them" (Deut. 6:1-2). He also says, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself" (Lev. 19:18). This is the spirit of Paul's constant exhortations to put off the old man and put on the new man. It's not good enough merely to refrain from speaking lies, you must "speak truth ... with your neighbor" (Eph. 4:25). It's not good enough merely to refrain from stealing, you must turn around and give (Eph. 4:28). It's not good enough to steer clear of conflicts with other people, you need to reach out and be kind and loving toward others (Eph. 4:31-32). Or, as Paul wrote succinctly in Romans 12:9, "Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good."

Do you want to live the good life? (1) Watch Your Speech (verse 10b); (2) Watch Your Actions (verse 11a); and thirdly, ...

3. Watch Your Relationships (verse 11b).

We find this in the last half of verse 11, "He must seek peace and pursue it."

At this point, Peter isn't talking about being at peace with God. He is talking about being at peace with others. The good life is a life of peace with other people. But, it's more than merely a life of peace. It's a life that "seeks" for peace. It's a life that "pursues" peace.

There is a very active flavor about Peter's words. He is calling for you to be active in your relationships, seeking peace and pursuing peace. The idea here isn't that peace in your relationships simply "happens." Rather, the idea is that you are to go forward, making efforts in your relationships to establish peace. The idea is the same as Romans 14:19, "pursue the things that make for peace and the building up of one another."

I know from experience that, it's hard to pursue peace, once there has been a breach in a relationship. I know that it's hard. I've experienced it first hand. Nothing stresses my life more than when relationships are damaged and broken.

When there are issues that come up between my wife and I, it tears me up. It draws me to approach Yvonne and talk with her, put my arm around her, cry with her, pray with her, and establish peace.

When I've known conflict with people, it has torn me up inside. It's hard. It's hard to come and pursue peace. That's why Jesus said, "Blessed are the peacemakers" (Matt. 5:9). It's hard work! Those people who make the effort to maintain and restore peace in a fractured relationship are blessed of the Lord. This is Peter's teaching as well. The good life is a life of experiencing peace with others.

You say, "Steve, how do I do this?" How can I be active in my relationships with other people? The key to it is found in verses 8 and 9, which we looked at last week. In those verses, Peter was calling his readers to a life of harmony. Peter gives us a list of seven how-to's. Be ...

1. Harmonious,
2. Sympathetic,
3. Brotherly,
4. Kindhearted,
5. Humble in sprit,
6. Not returning evil for evil,
7. Not returning insult for insult.

This is the way to "seek peace and pursue it."

Another good list is given in 1 Corinthians 13. We need to be loving. Be patient. Be kind. Don't seek your own. Don't be provoked. Don't take into account a wrong suffered. Bear all things. Believe all things. Hope all things. Endure all things.

At this point, I'll have you to note that when you are not at peace with others, don't consider it their problem. Rather, consider it your problem. You are called to sympathize with them. You are called to be brotherly toward them. You are called to have a kind heart as you interact with them. You are called to be humble in all of your dealings with them. You are called not to retaliate toward all of those who are against you.

There may be times where you seek to do all of these things, and there still is no peace in your relationship. In that case, Romans 12:18 applies, "If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men."

In that case, give it to God. But, this doesn't mean that you give up. There are still some things that you can do. Even if you have a severed relationship, with no contact, you can still seek peace, by seeking the Lord's help. You can pray for those with whom you are having conflict. You can fast over the situation and plead for the Lord to change things. You can speak kindly to others of those in conflict with you.

Do you want to live the good life? (1) Watch Your Speech (verse 10b); (2) Watch Your Actions (verse 11a); (3) Watch Your Relationships (verse 11b); and finally, know that ...

4. He Watches (verse 12).

Verse 12 reads, "For the eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous, and His ears attend to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil."

This verse is the foundation of the good life. The only reason why we ever experience the good life is because the favor of the Lord is upon us. That's the point of the first two phrases, "the eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous, and His ears attend to their prayer."

God looks down from heaven and looks upon the children of men. And those who are living a life of faith, trusting God with their words, serving God with their lives, and seeking peace among others, God looks down upon them with favor. When they pray, He hears them. On the contrary, when the wicked pray, God ignores their prayer. And when His eyes fall upon them, His hand is against them.

Church family, here's my final application to you this morning. Live your life with a heavenly gaze. As you live your life, see the choices set before you for what they really are. They are often a choice between the blessing of God and the curse of God. However, they don't often have those labels. Sin is attractive to us! It calls. It beckons. It lures. It entices. But, in the end, it brings the curse of God.

Perhaps an illustration might help. Evil is like a cinnamon-sugar roll that is wrapped around a mud-ball. On the outside, it looks delicious. We want it badly. We think that it will bring us happiness. But, after we have taken a bite, pretty soon we have mud in our mouths and it is awful. If you had realized what was inside, you probably wouldn't have made the effort to eat it.

On the other hand, righteousness is like whole-wheat bread. It tastes pretty good. It is easily tolerated. But, it's not our first choice, like a cinnamon-sugar roll. But, think about what takes place after you eat your whole wheat bread. It doesn't wear off as quickly as the cinnamon-sugar roll. Rather, it's actually pretty good for you. And, you don't mind it so much.

This is just like good and evil. In the end, good really isn't too hard to do. Oh, it may not be the things that we want to do at the moment. But, it's not intolerable. And, once done, we often feel good about what was done. How many of you have done the good and right thing, only later to regret it? That's not the case. We always look with fondness upon what we have done that is good.

Often, when the good choice is presented to you, it's not so much that you are dead-set against doing it. Rather, it merely appears to be difficult. For instance, it's Sunday afternoon and you are exhausted. You think about attending a home Bible study. But, you say, "I'm too tired. I can't come." But, then, you get up and go. And how many times have you come home and said, "That was good. I'm glad I went. My soul has been strengthened."

That's how God's economy works. The way of righteousness may seem to be hard at the time, but in the end, it is good. Sin is attractive and fun, but in the end, it is bitterness. It's all because God is watching us and blessing the righteous and cursing the unrighteous.

References:

[1] D. A. Carson, Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament, p. 1037.

[2] The seed for this illustration was taken from Matt Waymeyer's excellent message on this passage preached on September 10, 2006, entitled, "A Life of Blessing in the Body of Christ." You can chase it down here: http://www.cbconc.org.
 

Tongue - The Forgotten Vital Organ

by Katherine Britton

The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.
Proverbs 18:21

I have decided that many, many medical textbooks are wrong. Each and every one of them has actually left out a vital organ. Yes, they've remembered the heart and the brain and even that strange thing called a pancreas (I know it's important, I just forget why sometimes). But look through the books all you want, and you'll find not one mention of the most obvious vital organ of all: the tongue.

Then again, I myself often choose to ignore the importance of the tongue. I'd rather not believe it has "the power of life and death." I'd like to pretend my tongue is more like an appendix or a gall bladder - easy to forget about because it's not that important - but that's just not the case. Snapping at my family when I'm tired, nagging, and complaining all release a poison from my tongue that works its way through my whole being (James 3:6). Not only that, I infect others with my attitudes and motivations. I begin to spread a disease.

Contrast that with the "words of the wise," as Proverbs says many times. Their words heal and strengthen as they spread encouragement, wisdom, peace, and the Gospel message. Oh, and - get this - the wise actually use their tongues less than other people. The more powerful the tongue, the less it needs to be used. It's like the heart of a well-trained athlete - when someone is really in shape, the beats per minute actually decrease as the heart becomes more and more efficient. In the same way, why don't I condition my tongue to speak fewer words with more meaning?

In Genesis 1, God spoke into the darkness, and there was light. Those "mere words" created something from nothing, showing the power of speaking out. My pastor in college told us that this verse had meaning for us, too, since we are created in God's image. We are meant to speak out and bring light from the darkness as He did. That's the power of the tongue in a crazy world. The question is whether we choose to speak light or just add to the darkness.

That little muscle called the tongue holds the power of life and death. That's no small matter. So let's be careful how we exercise it.

Intersecting Faith & Life:

Grab a concordance and look up the words "mouth" and "tongue." The reference lists are extensive. It gets even bigger if you include the words "speak" and words." Then, take a seven day challenge to "tame the tongue" in just one way. Perhaps try encouraging instead of complaining. Even taming just that one area is like trying to control a wildfire (James 3:5). Don't get discouraged, but take each opportunity to thank God for the "new song" that He has given you to sing (Psalm 40:3).

Source: Crosswalk the Devotional

The Word In Your Mouth And Heart

by Frank Broom

The word belongs in two places in your mouth and in your heart. Because whatever gets into your heart and mouth will make it's way into your life. Jesus said it this way, "For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith." Because your heart and mouth are doorways for things to come into your life and also out of your life. Because Jesus also said, "For verily I say unto you, If ye have faith (in your heart) as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove: and nothing shall be impossible unto you." That mountain can represent a problem in your life.

Notice in both of those scriptures your heart and mouth are involved. Notice what Jesus said in Revelation 3:20, "Behold, I stand at the door, and knock; if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me." What door is he knocking at, the door of your heart (spirit). Jesus (the word) wants to come into your heart, so there is a door of your heart. But, also notice what David said in Psalm 141:3, "Set a watch, O Lord, before my mouth; keep the door of my lips." So there is also a door of your mouth.

Notice a door serves two purpose as an entrance and an exit. So things are coming into and out of your life when you know how to work your mouth and heart together. I believe David tapped into that when he said, "Let the words of my mouth, and the meditations of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength, and my redeemer." But, notice the heart and mouth working together.

The door of your heart is a doorway into your spirit and once something is in your spirit and you open the door of your mouth that thing is released into your life. Jesus said that this way, "For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh. A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things."

Take salvation for instance, with your heart you believe and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. You work your heart and mouth together and salvation shows up in your life. It's with the heart you believe and with the mouth you speak. So, it's not just speaking and it's not just believing, but both working together. When the word enters you it first works on you (renewing the mind and bringing faith to your heart) and after it works on you now it's ready to be released into your life and work on your situations. So, any word of God that you can get in your heart and speak out of your mouth will make it's way into your life.

Let's take Mary for instance an angel brought Mary a word "And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS." And Mary believed that word and not just believed, but she also spoke, "Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word." And Jesus showed up and we can live according to the words she believed and spoke. When that outside word became an inside word and she spoke it, Jesus came in the earth.

How about the woman with the issue of blood she heard about Jesus and according to what she heard she said, "If I may touch but his clothes, I shall be whole." And straightway the fountain of her blood was dried up; and she felt in her body that she was healed of that plague. And Jesus said, "Daughter, thy faith hath made thee whole." So by her heart and mouth working together healing came into her life.

So, if you have a situation in your life put the word in your mouth and heart and keep it there and watch the word work (Hebrews 6:12 Isaiah 55:11).

Five Evils of a Bad Attitude

by Jen Thorn

Over the course of our lifetime we will struggle and fight against many sins. Some we will overcome easily, while others will follow and haunt us for most of our lives. I believe for some of us, the struggle to maintain a good and godly attitude in all circumstances is a problem we don't give much attention to. Is a bad attitude really that bad? I was convinced about this myself as I read a section from the book "The Rare Jewel Of Christian Contentment" by Jeremiah Burroughs. He explains that a bad attitude is not a small problem, but a dangerous sin that does far more damage than we imagine.

A bad attitude is evil in five ways:

1. It's unworthy of a Christian.

We have been adopted into the household of God (Romans 8:15). We have been made royal priests. We are the bride of Christ, and God paid a dear price to make us his special possessions (1 Peter 2:9). We are a people who have been guaranteed a future so glorious that we can't even begin to imagine it. Therefore it is below our station to have a bad attitude when plans don't go our way or when seasons of life are hard. If anything we end up imitating Satan instead of Christ.

"The Devil is the most discontented creature in the world, he is the proudest creature that is, and the most discontented creature, and the most dejected creature. Now, therefore, so much discontent as you have, so much of the spirit of Satan you have." - Jeremiah Burroughs

2. It has evil companions

A bad attitude is always accompanied by a number of ungodly friends. Melancholy, ingratitude, complaining, envy, jealousy, and anger just to name a few. It is a popular sin that gathers many others in its fellowship. The longer our bad attitude goes unchecked the more our sins will multiply.

3. It stems from pride

Bad attitudes flow from a prideful heart. A heart that says that we deserve for our day to go the way we had planed or for people to act in a way that we approve of and for life's circumstances to be free of hardships, annoyances and frustrations. It is foolish living and will rob us of our comfort both mentally and physically.

When we have a bad attitude we lessen all the blessings and mercies God has shown us in our lives. In the moment we live as though God has dealt unfairly with us. We momentarily forget how awesome and good He is to us.

4. It drags out your troubles longer.

The person who can accept the providence of God in their lives will be able to go about their day without worry. Joy and peace will be the character of our lives when we do not pit our desires against what God has for us.

There will be hard days, messed up plans, and difficult people but the more we fight and rail against them the harder and longer our troubles will seem.

5. It spreads to others like an infection.

Think back to a time when you were hanging out with a group of people who were complaining, badmouthing, or otherwise expressing a bad attitude towards someone or something. How easy is it to join in? This is because attitudes are contagious. They influence and rub off on people causing others to act in the same way. (1 Cor. 15:33)

A bad attitude mars Christ's likeness in us and robs us of our calling to encourage others.

Sometimes I have bad attitude. And what a bad attitude reveals is my ongoing need for Jesus. We all continuously need his forgiveness, his help, his wisdom, and his Spirit working in us to conform us more to his own image. It is impossible to do this on our own. When we find ourselves with a bad attitude we need to repent and look again to Jesus and all we have in him. There we will find joy and peace to overcome our circumstances and strengthen us as we follow Jesus.

About The Author:

Jen Thorn lives in Illinois where she serves alongside her husband, Joe, at Redeemer Fellowship. She loves studying theology, reading the Puritans, and has a passion for all things chocolate.

Source: Christianity.com Daily Update

Recipe: Fish Molee

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

Tangy fish cooked in coconut milk from Kerala

[Note from Dr. Mathew: This is a healthy recipe from Kerala. The health benefits of fish are well known. Add to it several spices which are loaded with health benefits according to the latest research studies, you will get a dish that is delicious and, at the same time, healing too. At one time, coconut was suspected to be not good for health; contributing to cholesterol like other tropical oils. But recent research has shown that coconut is very healthy. So, enjoy without feeling guilty.]

Estimated Preparation Time: 30 minutes
Cooking Time - 46 minutes

Ingredients

750 gm/ 26 oz Fish. cleaned, spiced
1 tsp/2 gm Turmeric powder
11/2 tsp/ 4.5 gm Garlic chopped
1 Dry red chilli
2 Coconuts
4 tsp/60 ml/2 fl oz Vegetable oil
2 Onions, medium sized
1 Ginger - 1 inch piece
6 Green Chillies, split
1 tbsp/ 15 ml Lemon Juice
Salt - to taste
250 gm/9 oz Tomatoes, big, chopped

Method

1 Grind the Turmeric powder, 1/2 tsp garlic, and the skin of dry red chilli together

2. Make 2 extractions of coconut milk: the first extraction 1.5 cups and the second 2 cups.

3. Heat the oil in a pot. add the onions, ginger, green chillies, and the remaining garlic.
Sauté for a few minutes.
Add the ground spice paste from step 1 and sauté.

4. Pour the second extract of coconut milk, lemon juice, and salt.
When It comes to a boil, add the fish.
Cook on low heat for half an hour.

5. When the fish is cooked, add the first extract of coconut milk and arrange the tomatoes on top. Bring to a boil.
Remove the pot from the heat.
Serve hot.

Yield: 4 servings

Family Special: Do You Know How Lucky You Are?

by John O'Leary, risingabove.com

"In life, one has the choice to take one of two paths: to wait for some special day – or to celebrate each day as being special." - R. Ogunlaru

Friend,

It requires Herculaneum effort, advanced planning, a bit of craziness and absolute audacious resolve to accomplish.

It's much easier to skip, much less stressful to give in, and much more exhausting to attempt. It's not for the weak of heart or the weak of spirit.

I'm of course referring to trying to get a bunch of kids bathed, dressed, fed, and out the door for church on Sunday mornings!

After all the effort and stress, parents then have the daunting responsibility of somehow policing a small mob of fired-up, energetic, and often very verbal children through an hour-long service.

Last week ours ended with one child clinging to my legs, another clutching onto my neck, and sweat dripping from my body. An older lady I'd never met before approached, smiled warmly and asked, "Do you have any idea how lucky you are? These days are going to fly. Enjoy them."

My friend, this kind reminder is echoed frequently by other parents who have lived through this same phase. It seems that everyone with older children realizes now how beautiful those earlier days were. They realize the diapers and running noses and screaming that kept them "too busy" are now what they remember most fondly.

"Do you realize how lucky you are? These days are going to fly. Enjoy them."

This sentiment isn't just shared with young parents, though. How many people told you in grade school to enjoy that time, because it would zip past? How often did they remind you to enjoy the sock hops, school plays, two recesses and close friends?

How many older cousins told you to relish high school, because pretty soon you'll have to grow up?

How many aunts and uncles reminisced about their college experience reminding you to enjoy your years in college: very few responsibilities, those fraternity parties, that amazing class schedule, those late nights? They'd remind you that they were certain to be the fastest five years of your life ;-)

Here's the point: looking back we all realize the absolute gift of each stage. We appreciate the wonder of childhood, the energy in high school, the freedom of college, the awe of raising kids, the joy of launching them forward. Yet, in our own little space, in whatever stage we find ourselves today, too frequently we are experts at ruminating how great the past was, but less skillful at embracing the great gift that is our life today.

My friend, the time has come to stop longing to get past this phase and hoping for the next thing to come our way.  Maybe it's time to wake up from either living in the past of who we were or longing for the future of who we might become. Maybe it's time to realize that there are two paths before each of us today: to wait for some special day – or to celebrate each day as being absolutely special.

Next time someone approaches you and asks, "Do you realize how lucky you are? These days are going to fly. Enjoy them." Be prepared to look them in the eye, smile warmly and respond, "I know! That's why I celebrate each day as being an absolute gift!"

The best is yet to come. Starting Now.

Copyright © 2014 Rising Above, All rights reserved.

Inspirational: The Carpenter
Once upon a time, two brothers, who lived on adjoining farms, fell into conflict. It was the first serious rift in 40 years of farming side-by-side, sharing machinery and trading labor and goods as needed without a hitch.

Then the long collaboration fell apart. It began with a small misunderstanding and it grew into a major difference and finally, it exploded into an exchange of bitter words followed by weeks of silence.

One morning there was a knock on John's door. He opened it to find a man with a carpenter's toolbox. "I 'm looking for a few days' work," he said. "Perhaps you would have a few small jobs here and there I could help with? Could I help you?"

"Yes," said the older brother. "I do have a job for you. Look across the creek at that farm. That's my neighbor. In fact, it's my younger brother! Last week there was a meadow between us. He recently took his bulldozer to the river levee and now there is a creek between us. Well, he may have done this to spite me, but I'll do him one better. See that pile of lumber by the barn? I want you to build me a fence an 8-foot fence -- so I won't need to see his place or his face anymore."

The carpenter said, "I think I understand the situation. Show me the nails and the post-hole digger and I'll be able to do a job that pleases you."

The older brother had to go to town, so he helped the carpenter get the materials ready and then he was off for the day. The carpenter worked hard all that day -- measuring, sawing and nailing. About sunset when the farmer returned, the carpenter had just finished his job.

The farmer's eyes opened wide, his jaw dropped. There was no fence there at all.

It was a bridge .. A bridge that stretched from one side of the creek to the other! A fine piece of work, handrails and all! And the neighbor, his younger brother, was coming toward them, his hand outstretched..

"You are quite a fellow to build this bridge after all I've said and done."

The two brothers stood at each end of the bridge, and then they met in middle, taking each other's hand. They turned to see the carpenter hoist his toolbox onto his shoulder.

"No, wait! Stay a few days. I've a lot of other projects for you," said the older brother. "I'd love to stay on," the carpenter said, "but I have many more bridges to build."

Remember This...

  • God won't ask what kind of car you drove, but He'll ask how many people you helped get where they needed to go.
  • God won't ask the square footage of your house, but He'll ask how many people you welcomed into your home.
  • God won't ask about the clothes you had in your closet, but He'll ask how many you helped to clothe.
  • God won't ask how many friends you had, but He'll ask how many people to whom you were a friend.
  • God won't ask in what neighborhood you lived, but He'll ask how you treated your neighbors.
  • God won't ask about the color Fish Moleeyour skin, but He'll ask about the content of your character.
  • God won't ask why it took you so long to seek Salvation, but He'll lovingly take you to your mansion in Heaven, and not to the gates of hell.
Islamists Destroy Seventh Century Church in Tikrit, Iraq
(AINA) -- According to a report by BBC Arabic, Islamists in Tikrit have destroyed The Assyrian Green Church, built in 700 A.D., and Forty Shrine, the oldest Islamic religious shrine in Iraq.

Islamists, most likely ISIS, planted explosives around the Assyrian Green Church, which is located inside the presidential palaces compound in the center of the city, and detonated them, completely destroying the ancient church, which belonged to the Assyrian Church of the East.

ISIS has destroyed churches, religious shrines and mosques in the provinces of Kirkuk and Nineveh, including the tombs of the prophets Jonah, George, Daniel as well as a number of ancient churches in the provinces of Salahuddin and Nineveh. In Mosul ISIS has destroyed or occupied all 45 Christian religious institutions.

The Green Church

Assyrian Green Church in Tirkit, Iraq

The Assyrian Green Church in Tikrit, Iraq.

[Also See the cover for another photograph of the Green Church]

The Green Church was considered the most famous church of Tikrit and the most beautiful. It was built by the Metropolitan of Tikrit, His Holinesss Dinkha II, and was called the church of Saint Ahoadamah in remembrance of the Patriarch who was killed by the Persian King Khosrow I.

Buried in the Church were the founder Mar Dinkha II, and his successors Daniel, Thomas, Basilious III, and John II.

In 1089 the church was ordered destroyed by the Muslim governor and it was looted and damaged, but was later restored and returned to Assyrians.

In 1258 Assyrians took refuge in the church during the Mongol invasion of Tikrit. They were killed in the Church and only a few escaped to tell their story, that Timurlane built two minarets and three domes from the heads of the dead Christians.

The Church was restored on the orders of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein in the nineties and during the restoration several coffins were found of Christian clerics. One of these coffins contained rusty ferrous material, a silver scepter and seals decorated in the shape of a cross, with Assyrian inscriptions saying "I am Anaseous, Bishop of Tikrit."

Destroyed Assyrian Green Church in Tirkit, Iraq

The Destroyed Assyrian Green Church in Tirkit, Iraq.

Tikrit is an ancient Assyrian city, dating back to the Assyrian Empire (1000 B.C.). It remained predominantly Assyrian and Christian in the early centuries of Islamic rule. But restrictions by Muslims forced some Assyrians to migrate northward. The city remained predominantly Assyrian until it was sacked and nearly destroyed by Timurlane. The last of the Assyrians left by 1700 A.D.

© 2014, Assyrian International News Agency. All Rights Reserved.

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