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

Evangelism - Third Sunday After Pentecost

Volume 5 No. 290 June 12, 2015

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Sower with Setting Sun - Van Gogh
The Sower with the Setting Sun - by Vincent Van Gogh
TABLE OF CONTENTS
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1. Foreword

The disciples were 'green' or 'interns' when they were sent out first for evangelism. They had not been with Jesus for long. (Perhaps one year.) They had no training on theology. They were just ordinary people like fishermen, tax collector, etc. when Jesus chose them to be his disciples. Their only 'education' was the time spent with Jesus - listening and observing - like our ancestors did in the "Gurukula" system of education. ...

This Sunday in Church

2. Bible Readings for This Sunday (June 14)

http://www.MalankaraWorld.com/Library/Lectionary/Lec_3rd_sunday-after-pentecost.htm

3. Sermons for This Sunday (June 14)

http://www.MalankaraWorld.com/Library/Sermons/Sermon-of-the-week_3rd-sunday-after-Pentecost.htm

This Week's Features

4. Inspiration for Today

5. Mission - Being God's Message To The World

Jesus came not just to deliver a message. He was the message.

And the same is true of us. We are the message. Where we live.. where we study.. where we work.. we are the message.. and people are reading us all the time. Are they seeing Jesus? Are they seeing God? ...

6. Let Your Light Shine!

We must understand that before everything else, our own lamps must be lit with the unmistakable glow of the holiness of Jesus Christ. That's the light that leads the way. When people meet us, they have to be meeting Christ in all of his love, in all of his goodness, in all of his holiness. They must be seeing the Holy One of God in us. That's what we call witnessing. It's the highest form of witnessing, to glow in this world with the goodness and holiness of Christ. We cannot waste time hiding the light under a table, putting it under a bushel basket with what is an absolutely false humility. We must let that light shine, and we must cry out with Mary, "God has done great things in me, and holy is his name" (Luke 1:49). ..

7. Evangelism How To - Focus on the Gospel

Spend the bulk of your time on theology. Teach who God is, who man is, how we got so messed up, what that really looks like, and what God did by sending his Son on our behalf and how his death and resurrection is the key to EVERYTHING! Let the students glory in the gospel. That was the secret of the early church - they gloried in the gospel. When we do the same, we'll see the kind of results they saw 2000 years ago. ...

8. The Gospel Jesus Preached

The Kingdom of God is the goal of God's great purpose, and if we desire to have a part in it with Him, it must be our goal too. Jesus' preaching of the gospel of the Kingdom of God provides us with our objective, as well as with all of the component parts needed to reach it. ...

9. When We Say Yes ... Good Things Happen

This single sermon of Peter's changed church history. And I find it interesting that it all started in a place called Joppa. Remember Jonah? He was connected to Joppa too. When God told him to take the gospel to the people of Nineveh, Jonah boarded a ship in Joppa that was sailing in the opposite direction.

So Joppa was the place Jonah went to get away from God, but it is also the place where Peter answered God's call to go to Caesarea and reach some Gentiles. ...

10. Poem - Oh Jesus, You Are my Love

Oh Jesus, You are my Mission!
Oh Jesus, You are my Answer!
Oh Jesus, You are my All! ...

11. Recipe: Kashmir Lamb

Kashmir foods are normally very rich and creamy due to the use of the nuts grown in the area. ...

12. Family Special: Don't Go It Alone, You Were Made for Community

Individualism and doing life on our own is not part of God's design. After all, God is a community in himself. Existing for all of eternity past, God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit have enjoyed the love and fellowship of their perfect triune community. In creating mankind, God desired for us to participate in that community and know the perfect and joyous love the Godhead share. ...

13. Praying for Daily Bread

We need not worry about tomorrow and pray to our Heavenly Father to give our daily bread for all the days to come. But we need to pray for today's bread and that is all. ...

14. About Malankara World

Foreword
This Sunday is the Third Sunday after the Pentecost. We are well into the public ministry of Jesus. The main gospel reading is from John 6:35-46, "I am the Bread of Life." Since we have covered this topic, in detail, on several editions previously, today we look at the alternate lectionary readings, viz., Mark 6:4-13 and Luke 9:1-11. We can add to this Matthew 9:35-11:1 that also covers the same topic. Basically, Jesus sends his 12 disciples out two by two. Their mission: to cast out devil, heal the sick and to preach to good news about the New Kingdom. In short, He sends them for evangelism.

The disciples were 'green' or 'interns' when they were sent out first for evangelism. They had not been with Jesus for long. (Perhaps one year.) They had no training on theology. They were just ordinary people like fishermen, tax collector, etc. when Jesus chose them to be his disciples. Their only 'education' was the time spent with Jesus - listening and observing - like our ancestors did in the "Gurukula" system of education. They did not have much faith yet. Jesus pointed out their lack of faith many times.

So, why did Jesus sent them out for mission work before they were ready? I can think about two reasons. First Jesus wants to tell us that we do not need any special training or education to work for his mission. Everyone can do it if those untrained disciples could do it. Second, Jesus want to tell the disciples that He is training them for the "Great Commission." That is their job after Jesus departs. No way to make it clearer to them on their #1 priority than an "on the job training." It is like teaching someone how to swim by throwing them into the lake!

That worked! The disciples came back and reported their "successes" to Jesus. (Luke 9:10, Mark 6:12-13) There is no better way to get confidence and inspiration than by celebrating little successes. Everyone heard what each of these 6 teams accomplished.

Jesus, certainly was inspired. He sent out 70 people next time for evangelism (Luke 10:1-24).

It is interesting how Jesus did this. Let me quote Dr. Walter W. Harms from Austin, Texas:

"They were sent - no money, no extra clothes, no lunch money, no bag of things a person can't live without. They were to be dependent on the people they went to see. They weren't to have it all together. They needed people to provide everything but their shoes.

Jesus is pretty open with them. Some will reject their message (whatever it was) in favor of some previous message and faith. Shaking off the dust was a symbol of rejection. Not to waste time with such; but to bring healing, reconciliation to those who need it. ...

So they went and preached, not as preachers, but as proclaimers of the Good News about Jesus. This caused people to repent, change their attitude and direction in life, start new, give up the old; have hope when like seemed hopeless. After people heard the message from these disciples, they gave up hatred and anger. They were reconciled with people. They were anointed with oil and got healed. No longer squealing in pain and despair, but well oiled with the oil of gladness coming from the Good Shepherd. It worked, their message!

But, of course, these little faith-ed people could do what Jesus promised because they believed in him. They trusted him. If he said it, it was going to happen, and it did!"

Pope Francis, in a sermon a few years ago, clarified the importance of evangelism in the lives of the first Christians.

"They left their homes," Pope Francis recalled, "they brought with them only few belongings, and going from place to place proclaiming the Word. They were a simple faithful, baptized just a year or so - but they had the courage to go and proclaim," the Pope said.

The early Christians, he stressed, had nothing but "the power of baptism," which "gave them apostolic courage, the strength of the Spirit."

"The believers must be faithful to the Spirit, to proclaim Jesus with our lives, through our witness and our words."

Pope Francis is a true believer in Evangelism Mandate for Christians.

If Christians do not proclaim Jesus with their lives, then the Church becomes "not the mother, but the babysitter," Pope Francis said in another occasion.

When believers share their faith, "the Church becomes a mother church that produces children (and more) children, because we, the children of the Church, we carry that. But when we do not, the Church is not the mother, but the babysitter, that takes care of the baby - to put the baby to sleep. It is a Church dormant," Pope Francis stated.

The solution to this is "to proclaim Christ, to carry the Church - this fruitful motherhood of the Church - forward," he said.

This issue of Malankara World Journal will provide you more information on the importance of evangelism for Christians. Evangelism is not optional; it is a commandment from Jesus.

On a personal note, I will be travelling to Hawaii in a few days to attend the completion ceremony of 'internal medicine residency program' of my son on June 26. We will be spending the "Father's Day" being tourists in Hawaii guided by our son. Can you imagine a better Father's Day? I hope to write about my experiences (and post some photographs of the Island life) in the future editions of the Journal.

Dr. Jacob Mathew
Malankara World

This Sunday in Church
Bible Readings for This Sunday (June 14)
Sermons for This Sunday (June 14)
This Week's Features

Inspiration for Today
"Christ had a specific evangelizing goal in mind when he prayed at the Last Supper that all his disciples 'be one.' The Church's evangelizing mission, therefore, moves along the path of ecumenism, the path of unity of faith, of evangelical witness and authentic fraternity."
- Pope Benedict XVI
Mission - Being God's Message To The World

by Linton Smith

There is a story about a life saving station. It has been around for a long time.

Let me read it to you..

We are always in danger of going down that pathway.. of losing sight of our purpose.. and evolving into a mere club. We need to remind ourselves of that as we build.. and at all times!

We need to remind ourselves again and again that we have a mission – given to us by Jesus – to make Him known to people.. to introduce people to Him.. so that they can know and worship God.. be part of His family.. and spend eternity with Him!

Warren writes, Jesus calls us not only to come to him, but to go for him. Your mission is so significant that Jesus repeated it five times, in five different ways, in five different books of the Bible [TPDL p282].

The five different books of the Bible are Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Acts.

In Matthew, Mark, Luke, and Acts Jesus tells us what to do.

In John He tells us how to do it..

In John 20:19-21 we read..

On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you!" After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord. Again Jesus said, "Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you."

As the Father sent me, I am sending you. Literally.. Just as the Father sent me.

We are to continue the mission of Jesus.. and we are to go about it in the way He went about it. Let's explore this today..

At the very beginning of John's Gospel we discover that

THE FATHER SENT JESUS..

> TO BE HIS VERY IMAGE!

John writes.. John 1:14.. The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

The Word is Jesus. In John 1:1 we are told that the Word was with God, and the Word was God. Jesus was with God the Father.. and was fully God.. and became flesh.. one of us.. and pitched His tent among us! And so John could say, We have seen His glory!

In John 14:9 Jesus says.. Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father.

People who were privileged to see Jesus.. saw the Father!

In Colossians 1:15,19.. Paul says that Jesus [He] is the image of the invisible God.. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him..

Jesus was God in human form. He was the message. He could say.. Look at me.. at my character.. and see the Father – see what He is like!

Here is the first thing to note about carrying out the mission of Jesus.

We ourselves are the message. We are not the same as Jesus. He was God in human form. We are not gods in any form but we are to be like Jesus in character, and so like the Father!

In Ephesians 4:24 Paul urges us to..

Put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.

In Galatians Galatians 5:22,23 he shows us how to become like God..

The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

We cannot be godly people, have a Christ-like character.. in our own strength. Only the Spirit of God can make us like Jesus.. and does.. when we believe He lives in us.. depend on Him.. and allow Him to do His work.

In an old song.. William Longstaff tells us what we are to do..

Take time to be holy; The world rushes on;
Spend much time in secret with Jesus alone.

By looking to Jesus, Like Him thou shalt be;
Thy friends in thy conduct His likeness will see.

Jesus came not just to deliver a message. He was the message.

And the same is true of us. We are the message. Where we live.. where we study.. where we work.. we are the message.. and people are reading us all the time. Are they seeing Jesus? Are they seeing God?

We read on in John's gospel and we discover that

THE FATHER SENT JESUS..

> TO DO HIS WORKS!

In John 5 we read about a man who had been an invalid for 38 years. Day after day he lay on a mat by a pool in Jerusalem .. waiting for the waters to be stirred.. hoping that when they were someone would lift him into the pool.. and he would be healed. Jesus came by. Saw him. Asked.. Do you want to get well? The man told Him why he lay there day after day.. and Jesus said.. Get up. Pick up your mat and walk. And he did!

Then we read in..

John 5:16-19.. Because Jesus was doing these things on the Sabbath, the Jews persecuted him. Jesus said to them, "My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I, too, am working." For this reason the Jews tried all the harder to kill him; not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God.

Jesus gave them this answer: "I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.

The Son - Jesus - can do nothing by himself; he can do only what He sees his Father doing. The Father was working.. and so was Jesus.

When people looked at Jesus.. they saw the character of the Father.. and when they looked at the things He did.. they saw the Father at work.

In Acts 10:38 Peter says..

God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and.. he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him.

He went around doing good.. and healing..

When people saw what He was doing.. they saw the Father at work.

Here is the second thing to note about carrying out the mission of Jesus.

We are not the same as Jesus. He was God in human form, but we are to do good works.. we are to demonstrate the message by the good deeds we do!

In Matthew 5:16 Jesus says.. Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.

Paul.. Ephesians 2:10.. We are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

Peter.. 1 Peter 2:12.. Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.

And Paul says.. in Titus 3:8.. This is a trustworthy saying. And I want you to stress these things, so that those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good. Literally.. good works!

These good works may be 'out of this world' kind of good works.. because God still does extraordinary things.. [Cranium May 2005..] or they may be simple, loving things.. that touch the heart.

Whatever the good deed.. large or small.. spectacular or ordinary..

The things we do speak much louder than the words we say!

The ultimate work Jesus did was to lay down His life.

In John 10:14,15 He says.. I am the good shepherd.. and I lay down my life for the sheep.

He laid down His life as the atoning sacrifice for our sin. We cannot do what He did. He was God in human form. But we are called to be like Him.. to offer our bodies as living sacrifices.. to pay the price.. whatever it may be.. to live for Him!

We read on in John's Gospel. and we discover that

THE FATHER SENT JESUS..

> TO SPEAK HIS WORDS!

In John 8:28 we read.. So Jesus said, "When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am the one I claim to be and that I do nothing on my own but speak just what the Father has taught me."

And in John 17:8 Jesus said to His Father.. I gave them the words you gave me and they accepted them.

Jesus came to be the very image of the Father.. to do His works.. and He came to speak His words!

He spoke about the Father who loves us.. whose heart breaks over our rebellion.. who longs for us to return to Him.. trust Him.. be part of His family.. and ultimately spend eternity with Him!

Here is the third thing to note about carrying out the mission of Jesus.

We are not the same as Jesus. He was God in human form. But we are to speak the words of God.

The early believers have left us a great example..

Not very long after Jesus had died and risen.. and the Spirit had come.. and the number of believers grew dramatically to many thousands.. persecution broke out in Jerusalem .. and many of the believers were scattered..

We read.. in Acts 8:4.. Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went.

Literally.. they gossiped the gospel!

Later.. In Acts 11:19-21 we read.. Those who had been scattered by the persecution in connection with Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia , Cyprus and Antioch , telling the message only to Jews. Some of them, however, men from Cyprus and Cyrene , went to Antioch and began to speak to Greeks also, telling them the good news about the Lord Jesus. The Lord's hand was with them, and a great number of people believed and turned to the Lord.

And then Barnabas was sent to Antioch to teach these people.. and he enlisted Paul.. to help.. and Paul got started on his mission.. taking the message about Jesus to Turkey .. Greece .. and to Rome !

Here were believers who were passionate about speaking God's words.. speaking His message.. telling people about Jesus.. so that they could be reconciled to God!

Paul wrote to the Corinthians..

2 Corinthians 5:19.. God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men's sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.

Our mission is the same as theirs. We are to be like Jesus.. we are to do good deeds.. and we are to speak.

We must speak! Paul tells us why..

Romans 10:17.. Faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.

I think most of us find it hard to speak about Jesus.

If we do.. listen to Peter.. I find what he says very helpful..

Peter wrote to people who were suffering because they were Christians.. were likely to be put in prison.. perhaps killed.. at least put on trial.. He said..

1 Peter 3:15.. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect..

He tells us how to go about speaking to others about Jesus..

  • Be prepared.. be ready.. study.. learn.. so that when an opportunity comes.. you will know what to say..
  • Be gentle when you do speak..
  • Respect the person to whom you speak.. listen.. ask permission to speak..

We began with a story about a life saving station. They forget their mission!

Are we like them? Let's admit it to God.. say we are sorry.. ask for forgiveness.. and make a fresh start!

Jesus said.. As the Father has sent me, I am sending you!

I am sending you to be the message, to demonstrate the message by your good deeds and to speak the message.

Let's respond by saying, Here am I, send me! 

Let Your Light Shine!

by Fr. Tom Forrest, C.Ss.R

Do you believe that you can be a living miracle in your neighborhood?

This is the vision God gives us--to work together to be a light in this world of darkness. This is where we're supposed to be going, and we're supposed to be able to see the way because each of us is helping to illuminate the way for one another. This vision is not like that other vision called television, where you sit passively observing silliness and worse, and going out and doing nothing. No, this vision is an invitation. It is an opportunity, a calling from God to go out and do something great for God, to do something great with God and with each other for the salvation of the whole world.

We must understand that before everything else, our own lamps must be lit with the unmistakable glow of the holiness of Jesus Christ. That's the light that leads the way. When people meet us, they have to be meeting Christ in all of his love, in all of his goodness, in all of his holiness. They must be seeing the Holy One of God in us. That's what we call witnessing. It's the highest form of witnessing, to glow in this world with the goodness and holiness of Christ. We cannot waste time hiding the light under a table, putting it under a bushel basket with what is an absolutely false humility. We must let that light shine, and we must cry out with Mary, "God has done great things in me, and holy is his name" (Luke 1:49).

Be a Saint

If you have ever had the privilege of being with Mother Teresa, before you left her, you would have naturally said, "Mother, please pray for me." And before she left you, she would have said to you, "Please pray for me." But then she would have added something else: "Pray that I do not damage the work of God."

I remember being with her at the first worldwide retreat for priests. A sister from Ireland was asked to accompany her and take care of her, but she couldn't do much for her. Mother Teresa wouldn't even take a cup of tea, she lived so simply. But this sister had the chance to talk with this well-known, recognized saint. So she asked, "Mother, when they introduce you and they call you a living saint, how do you feel?" Mother Teresa replied, "That's what we're all supposed to be. And when they say it, I just let it go in one ear and out the other."

There's another story about Cardinal Suenens from Brussels. Once, he was in Rome attending the canonization of a saint from Belgium. After the Mass, a reporter asked him, "What is a saint?" And Cardinal Suenens said, "A saint is a normal Christian. Our trouble is we're all too abnormal."

Now I loved Mother Teresa. I counted her a real friend. But I have one complaint about her. Do you want to hear what it is? I have only one complaint: It's not enough. Every single one of you should be doing in this world exactly what she did, shining with the light of Christ, letting the light of his holiness, his goodness, love, his dependence upon the Heavenly Father light the path for others. Be a people of light. Bring your light together, and shine together. During this new millennium of grace, lift up an absolute storm of prayer for the darkness to be swept away and for the light to shine.

The Battle of Prayer

I want to tell you a story from Scripture that says how you should pray. This is a story about the people of Judah being called together to prayer in a time of battle. Let me give it to you in a paraphrase from 2 Chronicles 20.

"All of Judah stood before the Lord, with their little ones, with their wives, and their children. All Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem fell down before the Lord in worship. And the Levites stood up to praise the Lord, the God of Israel, with a very loud voice. Jehoshaphat, the king, appointed some to sing to the Lord, and some to give praise. They sang and they thanked God for his mercy and enduring love. They came to Jerusalem, to the house of the Lord with harp and lyre and trumpet, and they won the battle."

We can win the battle, but it will start with prayer. We have to be seen as a people of prayer. We have to be known as a people of praise when we go out to do battle. We have to learn to work together in a world where even husbands and wives can't stay together. Children and parents can't stay together. But we as a people of God, as the church of Christ, must shine in our togetherness.

Be a Miracle. Now if we were in New Orleans, and we all walked outside and walked across the Mississippi River, right on top of the water, that would be impressive. But do you know what that gets? Not much more than chicken feed. If we did that, we'd only be working a miracle. That's not enough for Jesus. He says be a miracle. Be a miracle of oneness, of unity. Be the one body of Christ. Be the local church. Help each other so that the world can believe, so that the world can see that the Father sent me.

In order that the world might see, be united as one body. And then let your light shine in the world. When was the last time you wrote an article for the newspaper? Write one. Send something in to a magazine. Talk about Jesus on the street corners. You don't have to have a guitar, but if you're out there, smile. And if somebody says, "You look different because you're smiling," be ready to answer.

Scripture says, "Always be prepared to make a defense to any one who calls you to account for the hope that is in you" (1 Peter 3:15). Do you know what hope means? It means I'm going to have a great tomorrow. If I think I'm going to have a rotten tomorrow, that's despair. But we can have hope. In your universities, in your factories, in your office buildings, in your ball parks, in every big city and every tiny town of the world, bring light, bring joy, bring happiness. But before anything else, let the light of Jesus Christ's holiness shine in you.

Holiness and Evangelization

In his great document 'The Mission of the Redeemer', Pope Benedict says that there is an intimate connection between our call to holiness and our call to evangelize. When we bring our light into the mission field, we have to make sure it's shining with the holiness of Jesus. What does that mean? It means that if you skip the mission to evangelize, you're no saint, and it means that if you're no saint, you won't do a great job at the mission. You have to do both.

Can we let the Holy Spirit bring our lights together? He's good at that. His light can shine within us, and as we come together, this combined light is capable of illuminating the whole world. If we do that, we will see the light of Christ spreading around the world. Let's make this our goal, so that we can see the great prophecy of Isaiah 9:2 come to pass: "The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light. And on those who live in the shadow of death, light has shined."

The name of that light is Jesus Christ. You are a people of the light. Now carry the light. Be kind, be loving, be angels, messengers, people, children of the light, and I'll see you some day, and together we will see the face of God in the light of the Lamb. Amen.

Source: The Word Among Us

Evangelism How To - Focus on the Gospel

by Dr. Ray Pritchard

A friend wrote me saying that he had been asked to give a course on evangelism and wanted any ideas I might have. Here is what I wrote back to him:

Focus on the gospel, not on technique. Too many evangelism courses focus on saying specific sentences and on how to "close the deal." I think that matters but it's not the main thing. Most evangelism fails because Christians don't understand the gospel. The more we marvel at the great gospel of Jesus, the easier it will be for us to share it. I guess I'm saying that it's not enough to "know the truth," but the truth must amaze us and humble us and move us to joy and to prayer. When that happens, sharing it with others will come naturally.

So spend the bulk of your time on theology. Teach who God is, who man is, how we got so messed up, what that really looks like, and what God did by sending his Son on our behalf and how his death and resurrection is the key to EVERYTHING! I would teach it like that - in caps - so that the students glory in the gospel. That was the secret of the early church - they gloried in the gospel. When we do the same, we'll see the kind of results they saw 2000 years ago.

© Keep Believing Ministries

The Gospel Jesus Preached

by Richard T. Ritenbaugh

Ask any nominal Christian what Jesus' gospel was, and the answer is likely to be, "He preached a gospel of grace" or perhaps, "a gospel of salvation."

Mark 1:14-15 provides the inspired answer to our question:

"Now after John [the Baptist] was put in prison, Jesus came to Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, and saying, 'The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel'" (see also Matthew 4:23; 9:35; 24:14).

His message, then, was bigger than grace and salvation - as wonderful as they are - or even bigger than Himself, for that matter. His message was about the reign, the rule, the dominion, of God the Father, as well as of the Son, the One who is to be the King of that Kingdom (see John 18:37; Revelation 19:11-16).

The phrases "Kingdom of God" and "Kingdom of Heaven" are found over a hundred times in the New Testament, the majority of them in the four gospels. "Kingdom of Grace" never appears, nor - to the surprise of many - does "Gospel of Grace." "Gospel of Peace" is found twice, in Romans 10:15 and Ephesians 6:15, both probably echoing Isaiah 52:7 and Nahum 1:15. In Ephesians 1:13, Paul calls it "the Gospel of your Salvation." Yet, by far, the gospel is most often called "The Gospel of Christ," "The Gospel of God," or something similar. From the Bible's own wording, then, we can conclude that the divinely inspired gospel is about the Kingdom of God.

"The Gospel of the Kingdom of God" encompasses grace, faith, redemption, justification, sanctification, salvation, glorification, and all the other doctrines of Christianity because all of these teachings comprise the major tenets of God's way of life and the process of fulfilling His plan for humanity. The Kingdom of God is the goal of God's great purpose, and if we desire to have a part in it with Him, it must be our goal too. Jesus' preaching of the gospel of the Kingdom of God provides us with our objective, as well as with all of the component parts needed to reach it.

As many know, the word "Gospel" derives from an Old English word, gödspel, which literally means "Good News" or "Good Tidings." Thus, when Christ preached, He proclaimed the good news of the soon-coming Kingdom of God. But, some may wonder, is this not God's world? Is He not its Creator? Is He not sovereign of the entire universe? Why, then, did Jesus have to announce that God's dominion was on its way?

The answer is simple: This is not God's world! Yes, He created it. Yes, He governs all things. However, from the time of Adam and Eve's sin in the Garden of Eden, God and man have effectively been separated from each other. The Holy God cannot abide sin: "But your iniquities have separated you from your God; and your sins have hidden His face from you," declares Isaiah 59:2. In turn, sin has made humanity hold God at arm's length for thousands of years, and man's banishment of God from his life has resulted in his perpetually miserable condition: war, poverty, disease, deception, distrust, and death.

Taking advantage of the vacuum, as it were, Satan the Devil has enthroned himself "the god of this age" and blinded the minds of men and women to the truths that would set them free (II Corinthians 4:4). He has managed to deceive the whole world (Revelation 12:9), not only about himself, but about God and His way of salvation. This is why, among the first things He had to do, Jesus had to endure the Devil's Temptations and overcome him and them without sinning (Matthew 4:1-11; Luke 4:1-13). He had to prove Himself superior to Satan's devices and worthy of His throne over the whole earth and all mankind.

Luke, in particular, shows the link between Jesus' overcoming of Satan and His preaching of the gospel of the Kingdom of God. Just three verses after the end of the temptation narrative, Luke recounts the episode of Jesus' announcement of His Messiahship in Nazareth's synagogue (Luke 4:16-21). He quotes from Isaiah 49:8-9, which provide His job assignment:

The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed; to proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD. (Luke 4:18-19)

His mission, He says, is to preach the good news to the spiritually poor people of this world, whom Satan has imprisoned and deceived, and to begin the process of freeing them from the oppression of sin. He would proclaim liberty from their debt of sin, just as the year of Jubilee freed the Israelites from their financial debts (Leviticus 25:8-12). The Jubilee is a type of Christ's thousand-year reign, often called the Millennium, which will begin with His second coming and the binding of Satan (see Revelation 20:1-6).

The Gospel of the Kingdom of God balances these present and future elements of God's purpose. By His calling, God is selecting a few chosen servants to be the firstfruits of His Kingdom (John 6:44; Matthew 22:14; James 1:18; Revelation 14:4). These elect, who believe the gospel, are put through the process of salvation: They hear God's Word, believe, repent of their sins, are baptized, and receive the gift of God's Holy Spirit. God forgives and justifies them through His grace, and then they become sanctified both by the imputation of Christ's holiness as well as through the lifelong process of overcoming their sins, growth in righteousness, and bearing fruit of godliness. At Christ's return, they will be resurrected and changed into spirit, given eternal life, and glorified as God's sons and daughters. They, as the Bride of Christ forever (Revelation 19:7-9), will reign as kings and priests (Revelation 5:10).

Such is the gist of Jesus' message of good tidings to mankind. In reality, it is the message of the entire Bible - God's wonderful plan of salvation and the establishment of His everlasting Kingdom.

Source: CGG Weekly, April 4, 2008

When We Say Yes ... Good Things Happen

by Greg Laury

Then he invited them in and lodged them. On the next day Peter went away with them, and some brethren from Joppa accompanied him.
- Acts 10:23

Sometimes when we share the gospel, people don't want to hear it. I have had many situations like that when I got up to speak somewhere. I could see it on the faces looking back at me, as if they were saying, "What are you going to tell me?"

But then there are times when people are receptive and responsive and drink in every word.

That is what we find in Acts 10, when Cornelius and his friends and family had gathered to hear Peter speak to them. Peter gave them a classic gospel presentation. He reviewed the life of Jesus (verse 38). He spoke of His death and His resurrection (verses 39–41), telling everyone that He will return as Judge (verse 42). Then Peter offered salvation through Christ. And notice that Peter got the memo about it being for both Jews and non-Jews: "To Him all the prophets witness that, through His name, whoever believes in Him will receive remission of sins" (verse 43).

This single sermon of Peter's changed church history. And I find it interesting that it all started in a place called Joppa. Remember Jonah? He was connected to Joppa too. When God told him to take the gospel to the people of Nineveh, Jonah boarded a ship in Joppa that was sailing in the opposite direction.

So Joppa was the place Jonah went to get away from God, but it is also the place where Peter answered God's call to go to Caesarea and reach some Gentiles.

In contrast to Jonah, who didn't really want to go to his enemies, we have Peter, who was willing to go. If Peter had said, "Never, Lord!" that could have been the end of it. But he responded to God's call.

Where is God calling you to go today?

Source: Harvest Daily Devotion.
Copyright ©2013 by Harvest Ministries. All Rights Reserved.

Poem - Oh Jesus, You Are my Love

by George Ettuparayil

Oh Jesus, You are my God!
Oh Jesus, You are my Lord !
Oh Jesus, You are my Love !
Oh Jesus , You are my Master!
Oh Jesus, You are my Saviour!

Oh Jesus, You are my strength!
Oh Jesus, You are my Hope!
Oh Jesus, You are my Passion!
Oh Jesus, You are my Redeemer !
Oh Jesus, You are my Faith !

Oh Jesus , You are my Light!
Oh Jesus, You are my Path !
Oh Jesus, You are my Truth!
Oh Jesus, You are my Life!
Oh Jesus, You are Immanuel!

Oh Jesus, You are my Wisdom!
oh Jesus, You are my Motivation!
Oh Jesus, You are my Joy!
Oh Jesus, You are my Happiness!
Oh Jesus, You are my Dream!

Oh Jesus, You are my Mission!
Oh Jesus, You are my Answer!
Oh Jesus, You are my All!

Oh Jesus, I love you from my Heart!
Oh Jesus, I praise You from my Heart!

Recipe: Kashmir Lamb

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

Kashmir dishes are generally red in color. This is from the use of ratan jot, a red herb food coloring. Kashmir foods are normally very rich and creamy due to the use of the nuts grown in the area.

Ingredients:

3 tbsp sunflower oil or ghee
1 large onion, sliced
2 garlic cloves
2 or 3 red chilies, seeded and sliced
1-inch piece gingerroot, peeled and grated
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp ratan jot or few drops of red food coloring
1 lb lamb tenderloin, trimmed and cubed
4 tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped
2 cups lamb or vegetable stock
2 tbsp pistachio nuts
1/3 cup cashew nuts
2 tbsp golden raisins
1 tbsp freshly chopped cilantro
Freshly cooked rice, to serve

Directions:

Heat the oil or ghee in a large pan and saute the onion, garlic, chilies and ginger for 5 minutes.

Add the spices and saute for a further 3 minutes. Stir in the ratan jot or food coloring. Add the lamb in two batches and cook for 5 minutes, or until sealed, stirring frequently.

Add the tomatoes and stock. Bring to a boil. Cover with a lid; reduce the heat and simmer for 40 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the nuts and golden raisins, and simmer for a further 15 minutes, or until the meat is tender.

Stir in the cilantro and serve with freshly cooked rice.

Yield: Serves 4

Family Special: Don't Go It Alone, You Were Made for Community

by Christina Fox

While visiting family in Alaska this past summer, I asked our cousins about the best places to go hiking.

Then I asked my most important question: "What about the bears?"

"Attacks usually happen when people go by themselves," she responded. "That's what happened to a woman last week. She was running alone and got caught between a cub and a momma bear."

"We don't need to go hiking while we're here...." I said.

"We are safer if we all go together," she said.

Doing Life Alone vs. In Community

We once were a society that centered around family. Multiple generations often lived together under one roof and when families did live separately, they never moved very far. These days, we are more of an individualistic culture. We rely on ourselves. We live far away from where we were raised. Our connections with other people take place most often in the workplace. But those connections are usually shallow, fickle, and short lived.

In the church, we see this sense of individualism and disconnectedness as well. Many people serially date churches, never staying in one place very long. Some may stake a claim on a church but remain distant and on the margins, attending only when something better isn't going on. And then there are those who may indeed have a committed relationship with a church but they are not all in. They aren't fully known by their community. They don't rely on the Body when they are struggling or in need. Instead, they wear masks that cover the pain of their lives, pretending that everything's okay, even though it's not.

Yet individualism and doing life on our own is not part of God's design. After all, God is a community in himself. Existing for all of eternity past, God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit have enjoyed the love and fellowship of their perfect triune community. In creating mankind, God desired for us to participate in that community and know the perfect and joyous love the Godhead share.

But God didn't stop there. He didn't create man to be in community with him alone. After he created the world and Adam, God said, "It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him" (Genesis 2:18). God created man and woman to be in community together, to create families and live together, bearing the image of and reflecting the three-in-one God.

Scripture is all about community. God chose the Israelites to be his people. "And I will walk among you and will be your God, and you shall be my people" (Leviticus 26:12). They lived and worshipped him together in community. Following the death, resurrection, and ascension of Christ, God then instituted the church, the Body of Christ as a community of believers. "Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it." (1 Corinthians 12:27).

Here's what Paul Tripp says in his book, 'Whiter Than Snow: Meditations on Sin and Mercy:'

"We weren't created to be independent, autonomous, or self-sufficient. We were made to live in a humble, worshipful, and loving dependency upon God and in a loving and humble interdependency with others. Our lives were designed to be community projects. Yet, the foolishness of sin tells us that we have all that we need within ourselves. So we settle for relationships that never go beneath the casual. We defend ourselves when the people around us point out a weakness or a wrong. We hold our struggles within, not taking advantage of the resources God has given us." (p. 147)

Safer Together

Not only were we created to be in community but we also need community. As I learned hiking in the Alaskan mountains, there is safety in numbers. Though there aren't bears out there in everyday life, there ar size="3"e wolves who seek to destroy us. False theology abounds at every turn. Satan and his legions try to distract us with temptations. Our own sin leads us astray. We need godly brothers and sisters to watch our back. We need to be connected in community where we can all be on alert together for the dangers th trust, rely on, and depend upon other believers. God gave us each other to walk alongside, encourage, and spur one another one in the faith. The writer to the Hebrews says, "And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near" (Hebrews 10:24-25). James 5:16 says, "Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working."

We are to carry each other's burdens (Galatians 6:2), care for each other's practical needs (Romans 12:13, Hebrews 13:16), warn each other of sin (1 Thessalonians 5:14) and rejoice and mourn with each other (Romans 12:15).

Despite my concern about the bears, we did end up going hiking and I enjoyed every moment of it. Though we saw evidence of bear activity on the trail, we never saw a single one. As our cousin said, we were safer together. And we are safer together in the community of the Body of Christ as well. Though society might tell us that we can do life on our own, God's word tells us that we simply can't function without each other (1 Corinthians 12). We need each other and we need community.

For Reflection:

Do you know what it means to be in community, where you are safer together? What do you think keeps people from engaging in real community?

About The Author:

Christina Fox is a counselor and writer. Read more from Christina at www.toshowthemjesus.com.

Source: Christianity.com Daily Update

Praying for Daily Bread

by V T John

Referring to MW Journal issue no.288 (Golden Friday Special)

ܗܰܒ ܠܰܢ ܠܰܚܡܐ ܕܣܘܢܩܳܢܰܢ ܝܰܘܡܳܢܐ
Haab laan lahmo d'sunqo-naan yawmo-no

This is how we pray in Syriac

In my humble view we have to translate it as "Give us the bread necessary for this day" and as "Njangalkku inne-kkuve-nta appam nalkaname

We need not worry about tomorrow and pray to our Heavenly Father to give our daily bread for all the days to come. But we need to pray for today's bread and that is all.

Yuhanon Baar Thoma alias V T John

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