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

Heavenly Love

Volume 5 No. 295 July 17, 2015

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Sunset in Holnolulu, Hawaii Photo by Dr. Jacob Mathew
Sunset in Honolulu, Hawaii as seen from the Star of Honolulu

Photo by Dr. Jacob Mathew, Malankara World

TABLE OF CONTENTS
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This Sunday in Church

1. Bible Readings for This Sunday (July 19)

http://www.MalankaraWorld.com/Library/Lectionary/Lec_8th_sunday-after-pentecost.htm

2. Sermons for This Sunday (July 19)

http://www.MalankaraWorld.com/Library/Sermons/Sermon-of-the-week_8th-sunday-after-Pentecost.htm

This Week's Features

3. What You Need is Love

God has designed us to live with others in a community of love. When I read 1 Peter 1, I'm always struck by how God has placed a call to love at the end of a discussion of hardship. As Peter summarizes what God is doing here and now, he uses three words: "suffer, grief, and trial." None of us wants these things! But Peter reminds us that they're tools of refinement in the hands of a loving Redeemer intent on completing in us what he's begun. Then Peter begins to lay out how to live productively in the middle of these hardships. ...

4. Christ's Love For Us

Let us stand still, and admire and wonder at the love of Jesus Christ to poor sinners; that Christ should rather die for us, than for the angels. They were creatures of a more noble extract, and in all probability might have brought greater revenues of glory to God: yet that Christ should pass by those golden vessels, and make us vessels of glory, Oh, what amazing and astonishing love is this! This is the envy of devils. and the admiration of angels and saints. ...

5. Why We Must Love

Satan loves it when God's children are self-righteous and prideful. He cheers when we willfully hurt each other. Remember that all Christians who are active in their faith, will face opposition and persecution from the unbelieving world. Why should they have to defend themselves from other believers? ...

6. Wasted Love

We should also respond in kind to His generosity. From natural creation to Exodus to the parables of Christ, we see how God "wastes" His love on us in order to teach us not only to trust Him, but to imitate Him by "wasting" our love on others without counting the cost. Our lives and all of creation are made for generous and "wasteful" - or perhaps more accurately, sacrificial - giving of self in imitation of Christ. ...

7. Love is On the Move

It's so hard to translate Christ's mandate to love the poor into modern, daily city life. What if I give someone money and they just go buy drugs or cigarettes? What if I help a hitchhiker and they put a gun to my head? How could my pitiful Tupperware container full of fruit possibly help a genuinely struggling man? But Christ made no bones about it: we at least have to try. Not just the important, desperate, convenient people. God's empathy extends to "even the least of them" - He feels both their pain and their gratitude. ...

8. No Greater Love Than This

Jesus says the ultimate test of true love is the willingness to die for others. Of course, He personally demonstrated this Himself in giving His life on the cross for you and me. And today he continues to call those who follow Him to make this sacrifice as well. ...

9. Recipe: Hawaiian Chicken

An easy way to bring the taste of Hawaiian islands to your home.

10. Praying for Your Marriage

Choose to understand that love isn't always a feeling. Many days love will be a choice. It's a choice to press through and learn to enjoy the fragile blend of both the bliss and disappointments of two people learning to become a family. ...

11. Eight Clues To Happiness

Having lived a reasonably contented life, I was musing over what a person should strive for to achieve happiness. I drew up a list of a few essentials which I put forward for the readers' appraisal. ...

12. About Malankara World

This Sunday in Church
Bible Readings for This Sunday (July 19)
Sermons for This Sunday (July 19)
This Week's Features

What You Need is Love

by Paul Tripp

Life in this fallen world is hard. Preparation is hard. Change is hard. It's easy to get discouraged. It's easy to feel overwhelmed. It's easy to remain or revert to being self-absorbed. It's easy to feel alone. It's easy to think that no one understands what you are going through.

It's tempting to think like Moses that God must have gotten the wrong address, that this trial couldn't have been intended for your doorstep. It's easy to give in to wondering if the hardships of the Christian life are worth the trouble. It's easy to look over the fence and yield to debilitating envy. It‘s easy to let go of good and godly personal spiritual habits. It's easy, at the end of a long day, to try to numb or distract yourself by whatever temporary pleasure lies within reach.

It's easy to deceive yourself about the need to change, to grow in godliness. It's easy to lose your way and give up. But it's important for you to remember that life and ministry in the fallen world are hard, not only for you, but also for everyone in your care.

That's why God has designed us to live with others in a community of love. When I read 1 Peter 1, I'm always struck by how God has placed a call to love at the end of a discussion of hardship. As Peter summarizes what God is doing here and now, he uses three words: "suffer, grief, and trial." None of us wants these things! But Peter reminds us that they're tools of refinement in the hands of a loving Redeemer intent on completing in us what he's begun. Then Peter begins to lay out how to live productively in the middle of these hardships.

Listen to his final directive: "Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for your brothers, love one another deeply, from the heart" (1 Peter 1:22). Peter is saying something very powerful here. God hasn't simply called us to endure the refining fires of sanctification. He's ordained us to incarnate his love through the community he's placed around us. This community of love gives us hope and strength. But it also encourages us with the reminder that the One who tests and trains is the One who loves.

This community of love is meant to comfort the person who's discouraged, to strengthen the person who's weak, to encourage the person who has no hope, to come alongside the person who's alone, to guide the person who's lost his way, to give wisdom to the person lost in foolishness, to warn the person who's beginning to wander, to correct the person turning the wrong way, to give eyes to the person blind to God's presence, and to physically represent God's presence and love. No one, including pastors, is wired to live outside this community.

So as you're living and ministering in this broken world, what does God call you to do? There's one sure and reliable answer to the question: he calls you to seize every opportunity to be an instrument of his love.

An an ambassador of Christ, you've been called to participate in a community of love that is the church:

• That teenager attracted to the world needs God's love.

• That single person facing the death of personal dreams needs God's love

• That immigrant brother or sister who feels so out of place and so misunderstood needs God's love.

• That mom overwhelmed with her parenting responsibilities needs God's love.

• That man tempted to walk out of his troubled marriage needs God's love.

• That little boy who lost his father to divorce needs God's love.

• That woman living through the ravages of cancer needs God's love.

• That couple facing debts they can't pay needs God's love.

• The woman who now faces life without the man who's been her companion for decades needs God's love.

• That pastor carrying a heavy weight of spiritual responsibility needs God's love.

• That university student facing spiritual warfare needs God's love.

We could multiply example after example. There is no location, situation, or relationship this side of heaven where this love is extraneous. This love isn't about liking people. It isn't about romantic affection. It's something more than cultural niceness. It's deeper than being respectful or mannerly.

This love finds its motivation, hope, and direction at the cross of Jesus Christ. It's active, persevering, tender, understanding, forgiving, compassionate, and self-sacrificing love. The people in your care need this cross-shaped love, and so do you. You can love others because the One you represent never fails to love you perfectly this way in both your best and worst moments.

© Copyright Paul Tripp Ministries • All Rights Reserved

Christ's Love For Us

by Thomas Brooks

Let us stand still, and admire and wonder at the love of Jesus Christ to poor sinners; that Christ should rather die for us, than for the angels. They were creatures of a more noble extract, and in all probability might have brought greater revenues of glory to God: yet that Christ should pass by those golden vessels, and make us vessels of glory, Oh, what amazing and astonishing love is this! This is the envy of devils. and the admiration of angels and saints.

The apostle, being in a holy admiration of Christ's love, affirms it to pass knowledge, Eph. iii. 18, 19; that God, who is the eternal Being, should love man when he had scarce a being, Prov. viii. 30, 31, that he should be enamored with deformity, that he should love us when in our blood, Ezek. xvi., that he should pity us when no eye pitied us, no, not our own. Oh, such was Christ's transcendent love, that man's extreme misery could not abate it. The deploredness of man's condition did but heighten the holy flame of Christ's love. It is as high as heaven, who can reach it? It is as low as hell, who can understand it? Heaven, through its glory, could not contain him, man being miserable, nor hell's torments make him refrain, such was his perfect matchless love to fallen man. That Christ's love should extend to the ungodly, to sinners, to enemies that were in arms of rebellion against him, Rom. v. 6, 8, 10; yes, not only so, but that he should hug them in his arms, lodge them in his bosom, dandle them upon his knees, and lay them to his breasts, that they may suck and be satisfied, is the highest improvement of love, Isa lxvi. 11-13.

That Christ should come from the eternal bosom of his Father, to a region of sorrow and death, John i. 18;
that God should be manifested in the flesh, the Creator made a creature, Isa. liii. 4;
that he that was clothed with glory, should be wrapped with rags of flesh, 1 Tim. iii. 16;
that he that filled heaven, should be cradled in a manger, John xvii. 5;
that the God of Israel should fly into Egypt, Mat. ii. 14;
that the God of strength should be weary; that the judge of all flesh should be condemned; that the God of life should be put to death, John xix. 41;
that he that is one with his Father, should cry out of misery, 'O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me!' Mat. xxvi. 39:
that he that had the keys of hell and death, Rev. i. 18, should lie imprisoned in the sepulcher of another, having, in his lifetime, nowhere to lay his head; nor after death, to lay his body, John xix. 41, 42;
and all this for man, for fallen man, for miserable man, for worthless man, is beyond the thoughts of created natures.

The sharp, the universal and continual sufferings of our Lord Jesus Christ, from the cradle to the cross, does above all other things speak out the transcendent love of Jesus Christ to poor sinners. That wrath, that great wrath, that fierce wrath, that pure wrath, that infinite wrath, that matchless wrath of an angry God, that was so terribly impressed upon the soul of Christ, quickly spent his natural strength, and turned his moisture into the drought of summer, Ps. xxxii. 4; and yet all this wrath he patiently underwent, that sinners might be saved, and that 'he might bring many sons unto glory,' Heb. ii. 10.

Oh, wonder of love! Love enables Jesus to suffer. It was love that made our dear Lord Jesus lay down his life, to save us from hell and to bring us to heaven. As the pelican, out of her love to her young ones, when they are bitten with serpents, feeds them with her own blood to recover them again; so when we were bitten by the old serpent, and our wound incurable, and we in danger of eternal death, then did our dear Lord Jesus, that he might recover us and heal us, feed us with his own blood, Gen. iii. 15; John vi. 53-56. Oh love unspeakable! This made [Bernard] cry out, 'Lord, you have loved me more than yourself; for you have laid down your life for me.'

It was only the golden link of love that fastened Christ to the cross, John x. 17, and that made him die freely for us, and that made him willing 'to be numbered among transgressors,' Isa. liii. 12, that we might be numbered among the 'general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven,' Heb. xii. 23.

Christ's love is like his name, and that is Wonderful, Isa. ix. 6; yes, it is so wonderful, that it is above all creatures, beyond all measure, contrary to all nature. It is above all creatures, for it is above the angels, and therefore above all others. It is beyond all measure, for time did not begin it, and time shall never end it; place does not bound it, sin does not exceed it, no estate, no age, no sex is denied it, tongues cannot express it, understandings cannot conceive it: and it is contrary to all nature; for what nature can love where it is hated? What nature can forgive where it is provoked? What nature can offer reconciliation where it receives wrong? What nature can heap up kindness upon contempt, favor upon ingratitude, mercy upon sin? And yet Christ's love has led him to all this; so that well may we spend all our days in admiring and adoring of this wonderful love, and be always ravished with the thoughts of it.

See that you love the Lord Jesus Christ with a superlative love, with an overtopping love. There are none have suffered so much for you as Christ; there are none that can suffer so much for you as Christ. The least measure of that wrath that Christ has sustained for you, would have broke the hearts, necks, and backs of all created beings.

O my friends! There is no love but a superlative love that is any ways suitable to the transcendent sufferings of dear Jesus. Oh, love him above your lusts, love him above your relations, love him above the world, love him above all your outward contentments and enjoyments; yes, love him above your very lives; for thus the patriarchs, prophets, apostles, saints, primitive Christians, and the martyrs of old, have loved our Lord Jesus Christ with an overtopping love: Rev. xii. 11, 'They loved not their lives unto the death;' that is, they slighted, contemned, yes, despised their lives, exposing them to hazard and loss, out of love to the Lamb, 'who had washed them in his blood.'

I have read of one Kilian, a Dutch schoolmaster, who being asked whether he did not love his wife and children, answered, Were all the world a lump of gold, and in my hands to dispose of, I would leave it at my enemies feet to live with them in a prison; but my soul and my Savior are dearer to me than all. If my father, says Jerome, should stand before me, and my mother hang upon, and my brethren should press about me, I would break through my brethren, throw down my father, and tread underfoot my mother, to cleave to Jesus Christ.

Had I ten heads, said Henry Voes, they should all be cut off for Christ. If every hair of my head, said John Ardley, martyr, were a man, they should all suffer for the faith of Christ. Let fire, racks, pulleys, said Ignatius, and all the torments of hell come upon me, so I may win Christ. Love made Jerome to say, O my Savior, did you die for love of me?-a love sadder than death; but to me a death more lovely than love itself. I cannot live, love you, and be longer from you. George Carpenter, being asked whether he did not love his wife and children, which stood weeping before him, answered, My wife and children!- my wife and children! are dearer to me than all Bavaria; yet, for the love of Christ, I know them not. That blessed virgin in Basil being condemned for Christianity to the fire, and having her estate and life offered her if she would worship idols, cried out, 'Let money perish, and life vanish, Christ is better than all.' Sufferings for Christ are the saints' greatest glory; they are those things wherein they have most gloried Your cruelty is our glory, says Tertullian. It is reported of Babylas, that when he was to die for Christ, he desired this favor, that his chains might be buried with him, as the ensigns of his honor. Thus you see with what a superlative love, with what an overtopping love, former saints have loved our Lord Jesus; and can you, Christians, who are cold and low in your love to Christ, read over these instances, and not blush?

Certainly the more Christ has suffered for us, the more dear Christ should be unto us; the more bitter his sufferings have been for us, the more sweet his love should be to us, and the more eminent should be our love to him. Oh, let a suffering Christ lie nearest your hearts; let him be your manna, your tree of life, your morning star. It is better to part with all than with this pearl of price. Christ is that golden pipe through which the golden oil of salvation runs; and oh. how should this inflame our love to Christ! Oh that our hearts were more affected with the sufferings of Christ! Who can tread upon these hot coals, and his heart not burn in love to Christ, and cry out with Ignatius, Christ my love is crucified? Cant. viii. 7,8. If a friend should die for us, how would our hearts be affected with his kindness! and shall the God of glory lay down his life for us, and shall we not be affected with his goodness i John x. 17, 18. Shall Saul be affected with David's kindness in sparing his life, 1 Sam. xxiv. 16, and shall not we be affected with Christ's kindness, who, to save our life, lost his own? Oh, the infinite love of Christ, that he should leave his Father's bosom, John i. 18, and come down from heaven, that he might carry you up to heaven, John xiv. 1-4; that he that was a Son should take upon him the form of a servant, Phil. ii. 5-8; that you of slaves should be made sons, of enemies should be made friends, of heirs of wrath should be made heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ, Rom. viii. 17; that to save us from everlasting ruin, Christ should stick at nothing, but be willing to be made flesh, to lie in a manger, to be tempted, deserted, persecuted, and to die upon a cross!

Oh, what flames of love should these things kindle in all our hearts to Christ! Love is compared to fire; in heaping love upon our enemy, we heap coals of fire upon his head, Rom. xii. 19, 20; Prov. xxvi. 21. Now the property of fire is to turn all it meets with into its own nature: fire makes all things fire; the coal makes burning coals; and is it not a wonder then that Christ, having heaped abundance of the fiery coals of his love upon our heads, we should yet be as cold as corpses in our love to him. Ah! what sad metal are we made of, that Christ's fiery love cannot inflame our love to Christ! Moses wondered why the bush consumed not, when he sees it all on fire, Exod. iii. 3; but if you please but to look into your own hearts, you shall see a greater wonder; for you shall see that, though you walk like those three children in the fiery furnace, Dan. iii., even in the midst of Christ's fiery love flaming round about you; yet there is but little, very little, true smell of that sweet fire of love to be felt or found upon you or in you. Oh, when shall the sufferings of a dear and tender-hearted Savior kindle such a flame of love in all our hearts, as shall still be a-breaking forth in our lips and lives, in our words and ways, to the praise and glory of free grace? Oh that the sufferings of a loving Jesus might at last make us all sick of love! Cant. ii. v. Oh let him forever lie between our breasts, Cant. i. 13, who has left his Father's bosom for a time, that he might be embosomed by us forever.


Source: http://gracegems.org

Why We Must Love

by Sindhu George

"Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God. But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love. - 1 John 4:7-8

If you are paying attention, you will find bickering in almost every place Christians gather. Especially in those where they are of different denominations or backgrounds - there will be disagreements as to how Christ is to be worshipped. Log into any Christian Internet forum or website to see the arrows fly.

We are so quick to point out a mistake or a misstep.
You are studying the wrong Bible translation.
You misunderstand baptism.
You are doing church on the wrong day or in the wrong way.
You are too casual in your worship.
You are too formal in your worship.
Your music is too loud.
Your music is too slow.

Satan loves it when he sees Christians being unkind. His pleasure is doubled when they are unkind to other Christians.

At the table during what we refer to as the last supper, Judas had just exited the scene to do what Satan had prompted him to do. Now in the room, were only Jesus and His beloved disciples. Each one could feel the love flowing – the love God the Father had for Jesus and the love Jesus had for each of them. He told them that soon He would go away from them. They would not be able to follow Him, so He gave them a new command. He wanted them to love one another. He wanted them to love in the same way that He loved them. Jesus' love was pure and sacrificial. He extended grace. He stood nothing to gain and everything to lose because of His love. This is the kind of love He wanted them to share. He told them that this behavior would prove to the world that they were His disciples. John 13:30-35

Jesus' followers weren't always successful in upholding this command. The stories about the young church reveal several disagreements between Christian brothers and sisters. Each side thought their own style of living or of worship was right. Christians today continue the tradition. For all our self-righteous indignation at someone worshipping in a way that seems wrong to us, we ourselves neglect this most important command. Love one another sacrificially.

There are a few basics that are important for Christians to agree upon:

God the Father is Creator of heaven and earth
Jesus Christ is his only Son and our Lord and Savior.
Jesus was born of a virgin, crucified, died and buried to pay for our sins - once for all.
After three days, Jesus rose from the dead - the resurrection.
Jesus ascended into heaven where He sits at the right hand of God the Father.

If we agree in these important truths of the Christian faith, what is there to argue about? There are loving ways to discuss differences.

Christian brothers and sisters, Satan loves it when God's children are self-righteous and prideful. He cheers when we willfully hurt each other. Remember that all Christians who are active in their faith, will face opposition and persecution from the unbelieving world. Why should they have to defend themselves from other believers?

Again and again, the Bible shows Christians how to love one another.
Accept one another, making adjustments in our own behavior to accommodate others. Romans 15:7
Bear with one another, being humble and patient. Ephesians 4:2
Encourage one another. Hebrews 10:25, Ephesians 5:19, Hebrews 3:13
Avoid conflict. 1Corinthians 1:10
Be kind and compassionate with one another. Ephesians 4:32

Wasted Love

by Fr. Jerry J. Pokorsky

Gospel: John 13:31-33A, 34-35

"I give you a new commandment: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another" (Jn 13:34).

The magnificence of God's good creation is enigmatic. The first chapter of the Book of Genesis recounts God's mighty acts of creation - from the light and the heavens to the earth and all of the creatures in the sea and on the earth. God views all of His creative handiwork and in litany-like fashion, the sacred writer reveals that "God saw that it was good." God does not create useless junk. Yet for all its beauty and magnificence, all of creation apparently is - one way or another - "wasted" in time.

Still, we cannot but rejoice in creation. Psalm 104 provides a wonderful remedy to a weary soul. The psalm begins with "Praise the Lord, my soul" and then proceeds to describe the reasons for joy by enumerating God's creative handiworks. "The Lord wraps himself in light as with a garment; he stretches out the heavens like a tent … ." Even inanimate creation comes alive in the melody of the psalm: "He makes winds his messengers, flames of fire his servants" and "at your rebuke the waters fled, at the sound of your thunder they took to flight; they flowed over the mountains, they went down into the valleys, to the place you assigned for them."

The psalmist continues with the divine gifts that lead to man's nourishment: "He makes grass grow for the cattle, and plants for people to cultivate - bringing forth food from the earth: wine that gladdens human hearts, oil to make their faces shine, and bread that sustains their hearts." As the psalm moves to conclusion, we are reminded of the absolute dependence of creation on the Creator (the words have become the basis of a familiar devotional prayer to the Holy Spirit): "When you hide your face, they are terrified; when you take away their breath, they die and return to the dust. When you send your Spirit, they are created, and you renew the face of the earth."

But nature also seems to waste its beauty. From the depths of the sea to the expanse of wilderness only a small fraction of it is ever viewed or appreciated by man. One need not seek the wilderness to behold the beauty of nature and to observe the inherent "waste." Inching through the details of a backyard yields something similar: the construct of a blade of grass or a dandelion or the lighting of a blue jay on a tree branch all have details that even a master artist can only hope to simulate.

What does all this "waste" reveal about the nature of God's love?

In the Book of Exodus, we hear of the Lord feeds the sojourners with manna, the mysterious "bread from heaven." The Israelites were instructed to "gather as much as they (needed)" and, as a result, "the one who gathered much did not have too much, and the one who gathered little did not have too little. Everyone had gathered just as much as they needed." Further, Moses instructed them not to hoard and when some of them kept part of their gatherings until morning, it was wasted- "full of maggots and began to smell." God gives in abundance to sustain us, but He is willing to spoil His gifts when we fail to trust in His continuing generosity.

Christ provides us a similar lesson in the parable of the rich fool. The ground of a certain rich man yielded an abundant harvest. In an effort to "take life easy; eat, drink and be merry" he plans an early retirement by building bigger barns to store the surplus grain. He trusts in himself, not in God's continuing generosity. Instead of recognizing his abundance as God-given, he fails to take the opportunity to be generous himself. The grand finale of the parable should be sobering to anyone too fixated on IRAs or other retirement plans and elaborate retirement schemes: "But God said to him, 'You fool. This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?' This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God" (Lk 12: 20-21).

The lessons should be clear. God desires that we trust in His loving providence. Reliance on God's gifts is a day-to-day and a moment-by-moment virtue. As Christ advises after the parable of the rich fool, "Do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothes" (Lk 12:22).

But we should also respond in kind to His generosity. From natural creation to Exodus to the parables of Christ, we see how God "wastes" His love on us in order to teach us not only to trust Him, but to imitate Him by "wasting" our love on others without counting the cost. Our lives and all of creation are made for generous and "wasteful" - or perhaps more accurately, sacrificial - giving of self in imitation of Christ. "For greater love than this no man has than to give up his life for his friends" (Jn 15:13). That is precisely the wasteful kind of love Christ means when he says, "As I have loved you, so you also should love one another."

About The Author:

Fr. Pokorsky is pastor of St. Michael Church in Annandale.

Source: Arlington Catholic Herald

Love is On the Move

by Debbie Holloway, Crosswalk.com Family Editor

"Then the righteous will answer Him, 'Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink? And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?' The King will answer and say to them, 'Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.'"
 -Matthew 25:37-40

"On the corner of 5th Street /
a homeless man needs to eat /
down on the edge of town…"
-Leeland, "Love is On the Move"

Actually it was 14th Street. 14th and Cary.

I was driving slowly across the cobblestone of downtown Richmond, one block away from pulling into my parking garage before work. However, I noticed a new addition to my morning drive: a middle-aged man with sandy hair sitting on the corner, facing me. He was holding a cardboard sign which read "STUCK LIKE CHUCK." I had never seen him there before. On my way to work this morning I had already passed a beat-up looking group of teenage boys hitch-hiking on the side of 95 south, so by now my maternal instincts were driving me crazy.

I specifically made sure that I made my way to the office via the man with the sign. Before I walked past him I stopped and asked, "Sir?" He looked up at me. His skin was very weathered and tan, but his eyes were electric blue. Almost shocking. "Do you need some food?" I asked.

He sort of looked down, as though thinking, Well, I can't pay my bills with food… But he looked back up at me and hesitantly conceded, "It sure would help." I gave him part of my lunch I had packed for the day, said "God bless you, sir," and tried not to cry.

It's so hard to translate Christ's mandate to love the poor into modern, daily city life. What if I give someone money and they just go buy drugs or cigarettes? What if I help a hitchhiker and they put a gun to my head? How could my pitiful Tupperware container full of fruit possibly help a genuinely struggling man? But Christ made no bones about it: we at least have to try. Not just the important, desperate, convenient people. God's empathy extends to "even the least of them" - He feels both their pain and their gratitude.

"If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, and one of you says to them, 'Go in peace, be warmed and be filled,' and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that?" –James 2:15

"Listen, my beloved brethren: did not God choose the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him?"
–James 2:5

Intersecting Faith and Life:

How can you be a powerful, physical force for God's love? In your life, who are the poor, "the least," that Christ would have you notice?

Further Reading

Matthew 25:1

James 2:1

Source: Crosswalk the Devotional

No Greater Love Than This
"Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends."
- John 15:13

Jesus says the ultimate test of true love is the willingness to die for others. Of course, He personally demonstrated this Himself in giving His life on the cross for you and me. And today he continues to call those who follow Him to make this sacrifice as well.

The mortar rounds landed in an orphanage run by missionaries. The missionaries and one or two children were killed outright and several more children were wounded including one girl about eight years old.

The medical staff who arrived to help soon realized that the young girl was the most critically injured. Without quick action she would die from shock and loss of blood.

When explained to the other children that a blood transfusion was imperative, the request for a blood donor met with wide-eyed silence.

Then one small hand went up and a young boy volunteered. He was quickly laid on a pallet, his arm swabbed with alcohol, and the needle inserted into his vein.

Through the ordeal, he lay stiff and silent but continued to sob later turning into steady, silent crying. The medical team kept asking if it was hurting but he would shake his head and continue to cry.

After a while the boy stopped crying, opened his eyes and looked questioningly at the nurse who took the needle out of his arm. When she nodded, a look of great relief spread over his face.

The boy had all along thought he was dying. He misunderstood, thinking that he was to give ALL his blood so the other little girl could live. And she was his friend.

RESPONSE:

Jesus calls me today to show sacrificial love - especially for those I consider friends.

PRAYER:

Pray that this depth of love will become a reality in the church of Jesus Christ and in your life.

Source: Standing Strong Through the Storm - A daily devotional message by Paul Estabrooks

© 2010 Open Doors International. Used by permission

Recipe: Hawaiian Chicken

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

An easy way to bring the taste of Hawaiian islands to your home.

Ingredients:

3.5 -4 pounds boneless chicken (preferably boneless, skinless chicken)
1/2 sweet onion
3-4 cloves garlic
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 cup pineapple juice
3/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup olive oil
1 1/2 cups Teriyaki sauce
1/2 cup brown sugar

Directions:

1. Mince onion.
2. Mince or crush garlic in garlic press.
3. Whisk together olive oil, Teriyaki sauce, pineapple juice, soy sauce, brown sugar, pepper, onions, and garlic. Divide into two 1-gallon freezer bags.
4. Divide chicken into two bags of marinade. Marinate for 30 minutes or more, or press out air from bag and freeze.
5. Thaw if frozen. Grill 6-8 minutes per side. Baste with additional marinade, if desired.

Yield: 8 servings

Praying for Your Marriage

by Lysa Terkeurst

"The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth."
- Psalm 145:18 (NIV)

I was cleaning my kitchen counter the other day and brushed past a framed snapshot taken on my wedding day. Someone caught that moment we were driving away, waving to all our wedding guests.

I stared at the photo taken 22 years ago. I laughed at how big my hair was. I sighed at how much smaller my waist was. And I wished I could pull that young bride aside and give her some advice and perspective that would certainly have benefitted me.

I would have whispered …

"Sweetheart, there is only one day where marriage naturally looks like the storybooks. It's this day. This day, your wedding day, is where every hour has been arranged and planned to be beautiful and special. And as you wave goodbye to this one day, realize what happens from here is all about choices.

"Choose to understand that love isn't always a feeling. Many days love will be a choice. It's a choice to press through and learn to enjoy the fragile blend of both the bliss and disappointments of two people learning to become a family.

"Being married is amazing. Being married is incredibly difficult. Being married can seem impossibly hard. Being married can seem incredibly beautiful. There is no other person who can frustrate me the way my husband can. There is no other person who can make me feel as loved as my husband can.

"Yes, marriage is a fragile blend of all this and more.

"Remember to keep little things little through the power of prayer, humility and the discernment to know how to address them. Watch these kinds of disillusioning thoughts and capture them before they take root:

"He didn't load the dishwasher even after I asked him to. He doesn't listen to me.

"He just handed me a brochure about the new gym opening down the street. I'm never good enough for him.

"He took a phone call while we're on date night. He doesn't love me enough to give me his full attention.

"Yes, the unraveling places of relationships often occur in these kinds of spots with these kinds of thoughts. Little discouragements can grow into big wedges of discontentment.

"And most of all, remember to pray your marriage through. Don't fall into the trap of just thinking about your differences, discussing your issues, complaining about your challenges and attempting to fix these things on your own.

"Thinking, talking, complaining and working on those things is not at all the same as praying for them."

And then I would end this sermonette to my young bride self with the best advice of all:

"Remember, the more you do battle for your marriage on your knees, the less you will fight in the flesh."

And as I finished imagining this conversation I would have so loved to have, I felt challenged that even 22 years later, I needed a fresh dose of applying my own advice.

I still need to bring every concern I have and blessing I desire for our marriage to the Lord in prayer.

Dear Lord, You have called me to this great honor of being a wife, but I can't do this without You. I don't want to do this without You. Help us to put You at the center of our marriage every day, so we may glorify You through our relationship. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

TRUTH FOR TODAY:

Jeremiah 29:12, "Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you." (NIV)

REFLECT AND RESPOND:

Commit to praying these Scriptures over your marriage each day this week:

"He reached down from on high and took hold of me; he drew me out of deep waters … You, LORD, are my lamp; the LORD turns my darkness into light"
(2 Samuel 22:17, 29, NIV).

"Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone"
(Colossians 4:6, NIV).

"What then shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?"
(Romans 8:31, NIV).

"For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms"
(Ephesians 6:12, NIV).

"Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful" (Hebrews 10:23, NIV).

© 2015 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

Eight Clues To Happiness

By Khushwant Singh

Having lived a reasonably contented life, I was musing over what a person should strive for to achieve happiness. I drew up a list of a few essentials which I put forward for the readers' appraisal.

1. First and foremost is GOOD HEALTH. If you do not enjoy good health you can never be happy. Any ailment, however trivial, will deduct from your happiness.

2. Second, A HEALTHY BANK BALANCE. It need not run into millions but should be enough to provide for creature comforts and something to spare for recreation, like eating out, going to the pictures, traveling or going on holidays on the hills or by the sea. Shortage of money can be only demoralizing. Living on credit or borrowing is demeaning and lowers one in one's own eyes.

3. Third, A HOME OF YOUR OWN. Rented premises can never give you the snug feeling of a nest which is yours for keeps that a home provides: if it has a garden space, all the better. Plant your own trees and flowers, see them grow and blossom, cultivate a sense of kinship with them.

4. Fourth, AN UNDERSTANDING COMPANION, be it your spouse or a friend. If there are too many misunderstandings, they will rob you of your peace of mind. It is better to be divorced than to bicker all the time.

5. Fifth, LACK OF ENVY towards those who have done better than you in life; risen higher, made more money, or earned more fame. Envy can be very corroding; avoid comparing yourself with others.

6. Sixth, DO NOT ALLOW OTHER PEOPLE to descend on you for gossip. By the time you get rid of them, you will feel exhausted and poisoned by their gossip-mongering.

7. Seventh, CULTIVATE SOME HOBBIES which can bring you a sense of fulfillment, such as gardening, reading, writing, painting, playing or listening to music.

8. Eighth, every morning and evening, devote 15 minutes to INTROSPECTION. In the morning, 10 minutes should be spent on stilling the mind and then five in listing things you have to do that day. In the evening, five minutes to still the mind again, and ten to go over what you had undertaken to do.

RICHNESS is not Earning More, Spending More Or Saving More, but ...

"RICHNESS IS WHEN YOU NEED NO MORE"

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