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This Sunday in Church
Fifth Sunday after Pentecost
This Week's Features
|Inspiration for Today|
Life is short and death is sure; the hour of death remains obscure.
A soul you have, and only one; if that be lost all hope is gone.
Waste not your time, while time shall last; for after death ‘tis ever past.
The all-seeing God your Judge will be, and Heaven or Hell your destiny.
All earthly things will fleet away, Eternity will ever stay.
by Dr. James Hamilton, Associate Professor of Biblical Theology
We Christians sin. All the time. But most of us don't set out to spit in God's face. We don't mean to attack God by our sin, nor do we get up in the morning planning to transgress his boundaries.
What happens to us?
How is it that a genuine Christian can sin, and so often, sometimes so flagrantly?
In Hebrews 5:2 we read of how people are "ignorant and wayward," of how we are all "beset with weakness." One of the first steps to overcoming ignorance, waywardness, and weakness is recognizing it for what it is.
I had a dream the other night that brought this home to me.
We recently celebrated "Father's Day" here in the US (June 17, 2012), and the dream I had was probably connected to the fact that I didn't feel I had done enough to communicate to my dad how grateful I am for him.
In the dream I was in the office at Southern Seminary where the faculty have mailboxes. I was talking with a student as I poked my head into that office to see if there was any mail in my box. I noticed on top of my box a glass jar full of change that my wife had wanted out of the house, so I took it up to the school. Not wanting it in my office, I had stuck it on top of my box.
Seeing the change now, I thought to myself that I could buy a coke with it.
I stuck my hand in and counted out what I thought were four quarters.
But when I looked at them, I realized what I held in my hand, and my heart smote me.
These were old coins, and valuable. Silver dollars, Susan B. Anthonys, pre-1963 quarters, none of which, now that I realized what they were, I wanted to throw away on a can of coke. These were coins that my father had collected, coins that he had looked for, found, kept, and passed on to me.
Suddenly the old coins I held in my hand—in the dream there was a silver dollar from 1903, there were coins with designs on them that have long since passed out of circulation, coins that clearly came from this country but that were so old they had become exotic—suddenly these coins in my hand were much more than merely pieces of change. They had become mementos. Mementos of my father. Gifts he had given to me.
The gifts evoked memories of my Pappaw, my dad's dad, sitting on the couch, almost lying down really, with a stack of coins on his chest, rubbing the quarters together until their faces were smooth. They reminded me of times when I was the ages my own sons are now, 8, 6, 4, times when my dad and my sister Dayna and I would sit at the table or sprawl on the floor and sort coins. The Gifts I held in my hand made me think of recent days when my dad has done the same thing, sort coins, with my sons, only now he wears reading glasses to see the dates and designs.
Those memories showed themselves to be linked in a vital way to my whole relationship with my dad: all the ground balls and free throws and conversations in the car. All the ways he shaped me and loved me and cared for me. All the time he spent with me, the mound of moments we have enjoyed together.
There I was in my dream, holding those coins in my hand. They had become priceless to me because of what they signified, and I was horrified that I had almost thrown them away on a cola that wouldn't have been good for me anyway.
This is how our ignorant, wayward, and weak hearts find their way to sin. We forget the gifts our God and Father has given us. We become unmindful of what his mercy means to us. We neglect the mementos, the testimonies, the stories and songs of the Scriptures.
And all too often we are prepared to cash in our relationship with the living God for filth, filth that would ruin our lives and destroy everything precious and sacred to us. We are ignorant, wayward, and weak enough to throw away the world to come in exchange for a syrupy mixture of caffeine, sugar, and fizzy water, or worse, far worse: shameful things not to be named. God help us get hearts of wisdom.
"Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil. It will
be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones"
About The Author:
James Hamilton serves as associate professor of biblical theology at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He has written Revelation: The Spirit Speaks to the Churches (Crossway) God's Glory in Salvation through Judgement: A Biblical Theology (Crossway) and God's Indwelling Presence: The Ministry of the Holy Spirit in the Old and New Testaments (B&H).
Source: Christianity.com Daily Update
by Luann Prater
"'Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants.'" Luke15:18-19 (ESV)
Kay was a prodigal. She had been stunningly beautiful, but now her beauty was hollow and worn. Downcast with shoulders slumped, she walked through the doors of her childhood church.
Heads turned and steely whispers followed her as she made her way to the front of the church during an invitation. She fell to her knees at the altar. A group gathered around her and prayed for what seemed like an eternity. She slowly rose to her feet and was asked, "Did you pray through?" to which the weary wanderer replied, "I think so."
I don't remember ever seeing Kay back in church again.
In my small town church the phrase "pray through" was synonymous with striving, straining, and working to find grace and deliverance. When I became a prodigal myself and wanted desperately to find answers and deliverance, I remembered the forlorn look of Kay and decided to keep wandering. It just seemed easier than trying to "pray through" somehow.
Have you been wandering through life looking for answers? Do you long to return to the Father after being far away but hesitate, wondering how you will make it back to Him and what it will cost you?
When coming "back home" we often have the same mentality as the prodigal son in our key verses, Luke 15:18-19: "'Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants.'"
Feeling worn down and unworthy, we come to our Heavenly Father thinking we have to work like hired servants to earn our place.
After many years, I discovered that forgiveness and salvation aren't chores for us to labor over. They are tremendous free gifts from an amazing God! How incredibly liberating to know that Jesus offers these to any and all who believe on His name.
Jesus says, "Come to me." Period. It really isn't any more complicated than that. He loves you. He has been waiting for you and He welcomes you with open arms. We don't have to work for forgiveness or "pray through" like those well-meaning people in my childhood church felt the need to do.
God's heart for us is the same as the prodigal son's father in Luke 15:20. "So he [the prodigal son] got up and went to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him" (NIV).
When you come to Jesus, or when you allow Him to walk through the doors of your heart, no pleading or striving is necessary, only faith that His salvation and grace are your gifts. No need to "pray through." He is watching, willing and waiting to receive you.
Dear Lord, thank You for giving us the gift of salvation through Your Son Jesus Christ. Today I come to You and believe that You are my Savior. I ask You to come into my heart and forgive me. Help me to live in the freedom that You promised to give. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
John 6:37, "All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away." (NIV 1984)
Hebrews 10:22, "...let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water." (NIV 1984)
© 2012 by Luann Prater. All rights reserved.
Source: Encouragement for Today, Bible Gateway
by Oswald Chambers
"He is . . . a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief" - Isaiah 53:3
We are not "acquainted with grief" in the same way our Lord was acquainted with it. We endure it and live through it, but we do not become intimate with it. At the beginning of our lives we do not bring ourselves to the point of dealing with the reality of sin. We look at life through the eyes of reason and say that if a person will control his instincts, and educate himself, he can produce a life that will slowly evolve into the life of God. But as we continue on through life, we find the presence of something which we have not yet taken into account, namely, sin— and it upsets all of our thinking and our plans. Sin has made the foundation of our thinking unpredictable, uncontrollable, and irrational.
We have to recognize that sin is a fact of life, not just a shortcoming. Sin is blatant mutiny against God, and either sin or God must die in my life. The New Testament brings us right down to this one issue— if sin rules in me, God’s life in me will be killed; if God rules in me, sin in me will be killed. There is nothing more fundamental than that. The culmination of sin was the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, and what was true in the history of God on earth will also be true in your history and in mine— that is, sin will kill the life of God in us. We must mentally bring ourselves to terms with this fact of sin. It is the only explanation why Jesus Christ came to earth, and it is the explanation of the grief and sorrow of life.
Source: My Utmost for His Highest (The Golden Book of Oswald Chambers)
by Michelle Vu
People who end up in hell do not repent, from what the Bible tells us, said respected New Testament scholar Don Arthur (D.A.) Carson at The Gospel Coalition National Women's Conference in Orlando.
Carson said that as far as he can see in the Bible, "there is no hint anywhere that people in hell genuinely repent."
Pointing to the well-known parable of the rich man and Lazarus in Luke 16:19-31, Carson, who is research professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Ill., noted that in the story the rich man dies and from hell he looks up and sees Lazarus and Abraham. But instead of admitting that he was wrong to treat Lazarus poorly while they were alive, the rich man continues to boss him around.
"Wouldn't you expect him (rich man) to say, 'Oh Lazarus, did I get that one wrong. I am so sorry. Would you please forgive me?'" Carson posed. "But he doesn't even address him. He was a nobody in the days of his flesh. The rich man doesn't deal with nobodies, he goes straight to the top."
Paraphrasing verse 24, the theologian recalls the rich man saying, "'Father Abraham, tell Lazarus to go dip his finger into water and bring something to cool my tongue. It's pretty hot here.'
"Where is the repentance in that? He still thinks he is the center of the universe! He is still going to order Lazarus around! There is no brokenness, there is no contrition, there is no shame!"
Moreover, the rich man argues theologically with Abraham, "'No Father Abraham you got that one wrong. If someone rose from the dead that would really make a difference, don't you see?'
"Hell is not filled with people who are deeply sorry for their sins," Carson stated. "It is filled with people who for all eternity still shake their puny fist in the face of God almighty in an endless existence of evil, and corruption, and shame, and the wrath of God."
Carson's explanation of hell was part of a wider message based on Revelation 21-22, titled "Home at Last: The Spectacular God at the Center." In that message Carson spoke at length about the symbolism behind the descriptive vision of the new heaven and new earth, noting that there are not sufficient categories and understanding for the writer and people presently to grasp what kind of world will come about. He compared our inability to understand the new heaven and new earth to a people group living in a pre-Stone Age culture trying to understand how electricity works.
Nonetheless, Carson explained some of the symbolisms in Revelation 21-22, including Revelation 21:1 where it says "there was no longer any sea." He said that the Bible doesn't mean there will literally be no more sea as in a body of water, but sea in the Old Testament is connected to the wicked. Isaiah 57: 20 reads, "But the wicked are like the tossing sea, which cannot rest, whose waves cast up mire and mud." Therefore, the verse in Revelation saying there will be no more sea means that there will be no more chaos and evil in the new heaven and earth, said Carson.
He also explained Revelation 21:22, which says there will be no temple in New Jerusalem. There is no temple in the city because no mediating structure is needed because the entire city is the most holy place and God dwells in the whole city.
Source: Christian Post
by Laura MacCorkle
One of the things I have come to appreciate more and more in a liturgical church service each week is the time of confession.
In this week’s time of "Public Confession of Sin," we recited the following:
The last two lines of this confession brought a lump to my throat and really caught my attention when reciting it along with others in the congregation.
… although I am in the wilderness it is not all briars and barrenness.
It’s not? Yes! Praise God, it’s not. Take a look around your wilderness right now. And I’ll stop and take a look around mine, too. What do you see?
I have bread from heaven, stream from the rock, light by day, fire by night, Your dwelling place and Your mercy seat.
After a week of feeling like I was trapped in the briars and the barrenness of my life, I had a light bulb moment when reading through the Truth of what I do have—no matter my circumstances or what the world may be telling me. And I was convicted all over again of a poor attitude and a life not being lived in right response to our God. I silently acknowledged what was being revealed to me: my sinfulness.
Confession will do that for you. It shines the light on what is really going on in our hearts and what is Truth in our lives. And hopefully, if we are in step with the Holy Spirit, we will have already been convicted of what we are bringing to God when we come to a time of confession.
I know that in the past week, there were several times where I felt the pangs of conviction in my own heart. I had either said something, thought something or done something that I knew was not pleasing to the Lord. And instantly, every time, I was reminded of that in my spirit.
While it’s good that I was convicted and knew that something was not right in my heart, I needed to take the next step and confess my sins to the Lord so that I could be reconciled and grow deeper in my relationship with him.
It is hard to experience the stench of our hearts. But when you and I confess our sins, we are cleansed and we are restored. Let’s aim to do that today, so that we may be forgiven, so that we may be a fragrant offering, so that we may enjoy fellowship and a right relationship with our Father in heaven.
Intersecting Faith & Life:
To quote a Scottish proverb: "Open confession is good for the soul." When is the
last time you confessed your sins to the Lord?
Further Reading: Psalm 51, NIV Psalm 103, NIV
Source: Crosswalk.com - The Devotional; Laura MacCorkle is Crosswalk.com Senior Editor
Psalm 51, NIV
Psalm 103, NIV
Source: Crosswalk.com - The Devotional; Laura MacCorkle is Crosswalk.com Senior Editor
Oh my dearly beloved, my heart rejoices greatly when I think about my Heavenly Father's wondrous love towards you and me; sinners saved by His grace and mercy (John 3:16-17, 1 John 3:1-4). To all of us that know God the Father by means of Jesus Christ our Savior, we are called His sons or children (John 1:12, Rom 8:14-19, 1 John 3:1-3)! Such wondrous truths cannot even begin to be fully comprehended by His redeemed ones (1 Cor. 2:9)! It will take all of FOREVER just to begin to experience and enjoy the PERFECT LOVE of our Heavenly Father.
Such wondrous truths cannot even begin to be fully comprehended by His redeemed! It will take all of FOREVER just to begin to experience and enjoy the PERFECT LOVE of our Heavenly Father.
My dear friends, DO NOT ever limit the will of God the Father for your life here in time, for to do so is to only lie and cheat yourself from the Father's HIGHEST and BEST (Rom. 8:28-39). DO NOT ever second guess the Father's love for you, for to do so is the height of foolishness and to be a liar and deceiver unto ourselves (Rom. 8:31-32). DO NOT ever doubt the Father's wondrous concern and innumerable thoughts toward you, for to do so is to call the Father a liar (Luke 12:6-11). My dear friends, we only will cheat and rob ourselves and then open ourselves up to Satan's lies and falsehoods when we are unbelieving and unstable in the ALL that the Father has spoken to us in TRUTH. Satan despises with all his being the PERFECT LOVE of Almighty God, which is in PERFECT TRUTH and in RIGHTEOUSNESS (John 8:44). He rebelled against it in the beginning and will continue to be vindictive and full of rage against it FOREVER (Rev. 20:10).
DO NOT ever doubt the Father's wondrous concern and innumerable thoughts toward you!
As the Holy Scripture states; "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose." The Father LOVES us and we as His children need to let Him do so. The hardest thing for a child of the Father to do is to let God the Father LOVE us. For the LOVE of the Father again seeks only the HIGHEST and BEST for the object (you and me) of His PERFECT LOVE!
The Lord Jesus spoke to those fathers who were sincere and concerned in seeking their children's well being in a dark and trying day stated these powerful words, "Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone? Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent. If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?" (Matt. 7:9-11)
God's ETERNAL and PERFECT LOVE transcends the realms of time and ETERNITY. It seeks ONLY our HIGHEST and BEST in RIGHTEOUSNESS for this world and our ETERNAL future.
God's ETERNAL and PERFECT LOVE transcends the realms of time and ETERNITY. It seeks ONLY our HIGHEST and BEST in RIGHTEOUSNESS for this world and our ETERNAL future. It is the Father's delight to give us good things! And the majority of those good things that He gives us are NOT material blessings but spiritual blessings and wisdom, heavenly discernment, reality, truth, ETERNAL and Heavenly perception, earthly provisions, good, sound believing friends in the Lord, Divine protection from the evil one, opportunities to bring glory to His WONDROUS Name (1 Cor. 1:30, Phil. 4:19).
Remember WITH ALL OUR BEING our Heavenly Father and His ETERNAL goodness towards us in a world that despises and hates His Person and RIGHTEOUSNESS (1 John 3:1)
The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand!
Source: IFB - The Ignorant Fisherman
by Dibyajyoti Chaudhuri
The summer might be a good time to lose some weight and the king of fruits, mango, helps in losing weight. Interested in going for the lean look?
Head for some fresh mangoes, for the fruit is packed with nutrients and is full of fiber. Experts say that mangoes are fleshy and a snack of fresh mangoes is usually helpful in keeping one full. "Mangoes have a high content of beta carotene and rank among the top providers of beta carotene. However they are also a great source of nutrients in the concentrated form. In order to reduce the consumption of calories, mangoes are a very good choice," said an expert. Beta carotene is also known to reduce the risk of certain forms of cancer.
To get the right amount of nutrition not too many mangoes need to be consumed. A single fruit is capable of providing of almost a day's supply of Vitamin C to the body. It also helps in making bones stronger since it contains minerals, calcium and magnesium as well as B vitamins. They are also rich in a carotenoid called lycopene, which is an effective antioxidant. In order to lose weight, mangoes can form an important part of the diet however it has to be coupled with other fruits and a complete meal, only after consultation with a nutritionist. Not only losing weight, daily consumption of mangoes make the skin complexion brighter and makes skin softer.
Source: Times of India
July 4th is the day of celebration all over the United States as it is the Independence Day. This year, July 4th will be a day of celebration for Kunjumon Mathew family of New Rochelle, NY. Their son Ajish Mathew will be ordained as Quoroyo by H.E Mor Titus Yeldho, Archbishop and Patriarchal Vicar of the Malankara Archdiocese of the Syrian Orthodox Church in North America, on this independence day. Several prominent priests and deacons are expected to attend the ceremony which will take place at the historic St. Mary’s Jacobite Syriac Orthodox Church of White Plains, NY.
Ajish Mathew is the only son of Kunjumon and Mary Mathew. Ajish was born on July 24th, 1994 in New Rochelle, NY. His father, Kunjumon Aluvila Mathew (Hillview Bungalow Pallom) is a long time member of White Plains Church and has held different roles in the church administration. Ajish's mother, Mary Mathew is the Assistant head Mistress of the Sunday School in White Plains. Ajish has two sisters, Ashley and Ancy.
Ajish hails from a family of priests. Ajish's grandfather is the Late Rev. Fr. Koshy Mathai of (Ezhamkulam- Adoor), who presided as Vicar of St. Ignatius Church known as Kallooparambil church in Pallom Kottayam and also the Vicar of St. Mary’s Jacobite Syrian Church, Nedumon, Adoor. Ajish’s paternal Grandmother's uncle is Late Very Rev. Fr. K.P Thomas Corepiscopa of Kallumkathra St. George Church. Ajish’s second cousin Rev. Fr. James Cherian, is the Assistant Vicar of St. Thomas Orthodox Church in Detroit, Michigan.
Ajish has grown up with a good sense of spirituality, from a tradition of going to Church every Sunday and attending Sunday school with his sisters. On July 24th, 2005, at the age of 11, he took his first steps in becoming an Altar Assistant. He was led to the Altar with the guidance of His Eminence Mathews Mor Ivanios of Kandanad Diocese in Kerala, India in the presence and blessings of his Grandfather Rev. Fr. Koshy Mathai. He has been serving as an Altar assistant at St. Mary's Church, White Plains ever since.
In 2010, Ajish successfully completed all of his Sunday school studies by achieving top rank in Region 1 of the Malankara Archdiocese Sunday school Association. As of now, he acts as a Substitute Teacher in Sunday school, eager to help when needed. He is also an active member and the Treasurer of the St. Mary’s Church Youth league.
Ajish plans on attending Seminary and continuing his religious studies after his Ordination. He is also studying to become an Aeronautical Engineer.
by Stuart Briscoe
"You can fool yourself, you know. You'd think it's impossible, but it turns out it's the easiest thing of all." —Jodi Picault, Vanishing Acts
A couple years ago I wrote a book based on the Apostle's Creed entitled 'Belief Matters.' I liked the double meaning in that title. It dealt with theological matters of belief, but it continually reminded me that what we believe matters tremendously.
A dear friend, Dave, learned this the hard way. During a season when his marriage was "drifting," a lovely young woman came into his office. He had unmet desires; she had unfulfilled needs. He met her needs and she fulfilled his desires. Willingly, he was drawn into her seductions. Consciously, he ignored the heartfelt warnings of his friends at church. Intentionally, he decided to leave his wife and two small kids for the affections of this younger woman.
The pastor of the church engaged him. Looking across the table at him at a diner, his words were clear and few: "We've got to talk about church discipline, Dave. Until you are walking with Christ again, you're not welcome to worship and fellowship with us. We look forward to seeing you come back." The pastor got up and walked out.
It was a slap in the face, but the shocking truth woke him up. With no one else to blame, he felt the shame and realized the consequences of everything he had lost.
That day he went home to his wife and begged her to forgive him. By God's grace and in His power, she did. In time, they restored their marriage and have been together ever since.
It's a stunning story, but what stunned Dave was how easily and thoroughly he was deceived by the evil one. He told me, "Pete, I actually got to a place where I thought it was God's will for me to leave my wife for that other woman. I believed it's what He wanted for me...." He was a living example of 2 Corinthians 11:3:
But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent's cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ.
Is it possible that you, a believer in Jesus Christ, could be deceived by the Father of Lies too?
Abba Father, humble me. Show me my blind spots. Reveal where I think I can stand on my own before I fall. Right now, right here, show me where I am already in sin, where I am already taking control of my life in my own limited strength and flawed wisdom. I surrender to Your loving leadership and Your eternal wisdom again. I trust You in me to do what is right. Amen.
Source: Experiencing LIFE Today
How the world works lately...
If a man cuts his finger off while Slicing salami at work, He blames the restaurant...
If you smoke three packs a day For 40 years and die of lung cancer, Your family blames the Tobacco company.
If your neighbor crashes Into a tree while driving home drunk, He blames the bartender.
If your grandchildren are Brats without manners, You blame television.
If your friend is shot by a Deranged madman, You blame the gun manufacturer..
And if a crazed person breaks
I must have lived too long to Understand the world as it is anymore.
So, if I die while my OLD ... is parked in front of this computer, I want all of you to Blame Bill Gates.
Have a nice day. !
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