Monday, 29 July 2013

WORLD YOUTH DAY (Rio, Brazil) - POPE'S WELCOME SPEECH.

Dear Friends,

“It is good for us to be here!”, Peter cries out after seeing the Lord Jesus transfigured in glory. Do we want to repeat these words with him? I think the answer is yes, because here today, it is good for all of us to be gathered together around Jesus! It is he who welcomes us and who is present in our midst here in Rio. In the Gospel we have heard God the Father say: “This is my Son, my chosen one; listen to him!” (Lk 9:35). If it is Jesus who welcomes us, we too ought to welcome him and listen to his words; it is precisely through the welcome we give to Jesus Christ, the Word made flesh, that the Holy Spirit transforms us, lights up our way to the future, and enables us joyfully to advance along that way with wings of hope (cf. Lumen Fidei, 7).

But what can we do? “Bota fé – put on faith”. The World Youth Day Cross has proclaimed these words throughout its pilgrimage in Brazil. “Put on faith”: what does this mean? When we prepare a plate of food and we see that it needs salt, well, we “put on” salt; when it needs oil, then you “put on” oil. “To put on”, that is, to place on top of, to pour over. And so it is in our life, dear young friends: if we want it to have real meaning and fulfilment, as you want and as you deserve, I say to each one of you, “Put on faith”, and your life will take on a new flavour, it will have a compass to show you the way; “put on hope” and every one of your days will be enlightened and your horizon will no longer be dark, but luminous; “put on love”, and your life will be like a house built on rock, your journey will be joyful, because you will find many friends to journey with you. Put on faith, put on hope, put on love!

But who can give us all this? In the Gospel we have just heard the answer: Christ. “This is my Son, my chosen one. Listen to him!” Jesus is the one who brings God to us and us to God. With him, our life is transformed and renewed, and we can see reality with new eyes, from Jesus’ standpoint, with his own eyes (cf. Lumen Fidei, 18). For this reason, I want to insist with you today: “Put on Christ!” in your life, and you will find a friend in whom you can always trust; “put on Christ” and you will see the wings of hope spreading and letting you journey with joy towards the future; “put on Christ” and your life will be full of his love; it will be a fruitful life.

Today, I would like each of us to ask sincerely: in whom do we place our trust? In ourselves, in material things, or in Jesus? We are all tempted to put ourselves at the centre, to think that we alone build our lives or that our life can only be happy if built on possessions, money, or power. But it is not so. Certainly, possessions, money and power can give a momentary thrill, the illusion of being happy, but they end up possessing us and making us always want to have more, never satisfied. “Put on Christ” in your life, place your trust in him and you will never be disappointed! You see how faith accomplishes a revolution in us, one which we can call Copernican, because it removes us from the centre and restores it to God; faith immerses us in his love and gives us security, strength, and hope. To all appearances, nothing has changed; yet, in the depths of our being, everything is different. Peace, consolation, gentleness, courage, serenity and joy, which are all fruits of the Holy Spirit (cf. Gal 5:22), find a home in our heart, and our very being is transformed; our way of thinking and acting is made new, it becomes Jesus’ own, God’s own, way of thinking and acting. During the Year of Faith, this World Youth Day is truly a gift offered to us to draw us closer to the Lord, to be his disciples and his missionaries, to let him renew our lives.

Dear young people: “Put on Christ” in your lives. In these days, Christ awaits you in his word; listen carefully to him and your heart will be warmed by his presence; “Put on Christ”: he awaits you in the sacrament of Penance, to heal by his mercy the wounds caused by sin. Do not be afraid to ask God’s forgiveness! He never tires of forgiving us, like a father who loves us. God is pure mercy! “Put on Christ”: he is waiting for you in his flesh in the Eucharist, the sacrament of his presence and his sacrifice of love, and in the humanity of the many young people who will enrich you with their friendship, encourage you by their witness to the faith, and teach you the language of charity, goodness and service.

You too, dear young people, can be joyful witnesses of his love, courageous witnesses of his Gospel, carrying to this world a ray of his light.

“It is good for us to be here”, putting on Christ in our lives, putting on the faith, hope and love which he gives us. Dear friends, in this celebration we have welcomed the image of Our Lady of Aparecida. With Mary, may we be disciples and missionaries. Like her, may we say “Yes” to God. Let us ask that her maternal heart intercede for us, so that our hearts may be open to loving Jesus and making others love him. He is waiting for us, and he is counting on us. Amen.

WORLD YOUTH DAY - TEXT OF POPE FRANCIS' MESSAGE

“Go and make disciples of all nations”. With these words, Jesus is speaking to each one of us, saying: “It was wonderful to take part in World Youth Day, to live the faith together with young people from the four corners of the earth, but now you must go, now you must pass on this experience to others.” Jesus is calling you to be a disciple with a mission! Today, in the light of the word of God that we have heard, what is the Lord saying to us? Three simple ideas: Go, do not be afraid, and serve.

1. Go. During these days here in Rio, you have been able to enjoy the wonderful experience of meeting Jesus, meeting him together with others, and you have sensed the joy of faith. But the experience of this encounter must not remain locked up in your life or in the small group of your parish, your movement, or your community. That would be like withholding oxygen from a flame that was burning strongly. Faith is a flame that grows stronger the more it is shared and passed on, so that everyone may know, love and confess Jesus Christ, the Lord of life and history (cf. Rom 10:9).

Careful, though! Jesus did not say: “if you would like to, if you have the time”, but: “Go and make disciples of all nations.” Sharing the experience of faith, bearing witness to the faith, proclaiming the Gospel: this is a command that the Lord entrusts to the whole Church, and that includes you; but it is a command that is born not from a desire for domination or power but from the force of love, from the fact that Jesus first came into our midst and gave us, not a part of himself, but the whole of himself, he gave his life in order to save us and to show us the love and mercy of God. Jesus does not treat us as slaves, but as free men, as friends, as brothers and sisters; and he not only sends us, he accompanies us, he is always beside us in our mission of love.

Where does Jesus send us? There are no borders, no limits: he sends us to everyone. The Gospel is for everyone, not just for some. It is not only for those who seem closer to us, more receptive, more welcoming. It is for everyone. Do not be afraid to go and to bring Christ into every area of life, to the fringes of society, even to those who seem farthest away, most indifferent. The Lord seeks all, he wants everyone to feel the warmth of his mercy and his love.

In particular, I would like Christ’s command: “Go” to resonate in you young people from the Church in Latin America, engaged in the continental mission promoted by the Bishops. Brazil, Latin America, the whole world needs Christ! Saint Paul says: “Woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel!” (1 Cor 9:16). This continent has received the proclamation of the Gospel which has marked its history and borne much fruit. Now this proclamation is entrusted also to you, that it may resound with fresh power. The Church needs you, your enthusiasm, your creativity and the joy that is so characteristic of you. A great Apostle of Brazil, Blessed José de Anchieta, set off on the mission when he was only nineteen years old. Do you know what the best tool is for evangelizing the young? Another young person. This is the path to follow!

2. Do not be afraid. Some people might think: “I have no particular preparation, how can I go and proclaim the Gospel?” My dear friend, your fear is not so very different from that of Jeremiah, a young man like you, when he was called by God to be a prophet. We have just heard his words: “Ah, Lord God! Behold, I do not know how to speak, for I am only a youth”. God says the same thing to you as he said to Jeremiah: “Be not afraid ... for I am with you to deliver you” (Jer 1:7,8). He is with us!

“Do not be afraid!” When we go to proclaim Christ, it is he himself who goes before us and guides us. When he sent his disciples on mission, he promised: “I am with you always” (Mt 28:20). And this is also true for us! Jesus does not leave us alone, he never leaves you alone! He always accompanies you.

And then, Jesus did not say: “One of you go”, but “All of you go”: we are sent together. Dear young friends, be aware of the companionship of the whole Church and also the communion of the saints on this mission. When we face challenges together, then we are strong, we discover resources we did not know we had. Jesus did not call the Apostles to live in isolation, he called them to form a group, a community. I would like to address you, dear priests concelebrating with me at this Eucharist: you have come to accompany your young people, and this is wonderful, to share this experience of faith with them! But it is a stage on the journey. Please continue to accompany them with generosity and joy, help them to become actively engaged in the Church; never let them feel alone! And at this point I would like to express my heartfelt thanks to theYouth Ministery groups, to the Movements and the new Communities that accompany the young people in their experience of being Church. They are so creative, so audacious. Carry on and do not be afraid!

3. The final word: serve. The opening words of the psalm that we proclaimed are: “Sing to the Lord a new song” (Psalm 95:1). What is this new song? It does not consist of words, it is not a melody, it is the song of your life, it is allowing our life to be identified with that of Jesus, it is sharing his sentiments, his thoughts, his actions. And the life of Jesus is a life for others. It is a life of service.

In our Second Reading today, Saint Paul says: “I have made myself a slave to all, that I might win the more” (1 Cor 9:19). In order to proclaim Jesus, Paul made himself “a slave to all”. Evangelizing means bearing personal witness to the love of God, it is overcoming our selfishness, it is serving by bending down to wash the feet of our brethren, as Jesus did.

Three words: Go, do not be afraid, and serve. Follow these three words: Go, do not be afraid, and serve. If you follow these three ideas, you will experience that the one who evangelizes is evangelized, the one who transmits the joy of faith receives joy. Dear young friends, as you return to your homes, do not be afraid to be generous with Christ, to bear witness to his Gospel. In the first Reading, when God sends the prophet Jeremiah, he gives him the power to “pluck up and to break down, to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant” (1:10). It is the same for you. Bringing the Gospel is bringing God’s power to pluck up and break down evil and violence, to destroy and overthrow the barriers of selfishness, intolerance and hatred, so as to build a new world. Jesus Christ is counting on you! The Church is counting on you! The Pope is counting on you! May Mary, Mother of Jesus and our Mother, always accompany you with her tenderness: “Go and make disciples of all nations”. Amen.

Sunday, 28 July 2013

EXPECT ONLY FROM GOD!

Then said he unto the disciples, It is impossible but that offences will come: but woe unto him, through whom they come!
It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he cast into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones Luke 17:1

But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth.
This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish.
For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work.
But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisyJames 3: 14-1

In another article i had written that satan does not appear in front of us with blood-dripping fangs and razor sharp talons and horns. He comes to deceive us as 'an angel of light' ! Offence (envy, strife, evil work, lies) will surely block you from receiving God's best for us!

God's dream (plan) for us has always been THE HOLY SPIRIT. If we were created in God's image and likeness, then we must have THE LIFE OF GOD IN US - The Holy Spirit in us! To keep us distracted from 'God's Best' for us, satan has devised religion, the worst enemy to God's Kingdom and a daunting obstacle in achieving God's best for us.

And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high - Luke 24:49

But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth - Act 1:8

The same cowardly apostles and disciples of Christ who had fled from the scene at Jesus' capture, trial and crucifixion, are suddenly transformed into mighty men of God who are not afraid to die for Jesus and attract thousands into a relationship with Christ.

Without the Power of the Holy Spirit we cannot impact anything! Absolutely nothing!

Get involved in God's dream and He will get involved in yours

Thursday, 25 July 2013

I AM THE WAY ...

Yesterday was the last day of Bro. Johnson's retreat for this month. He was on fire! He continued on the message of OFFENCE and how it can block our blessings. What i write about however, are some other revelations that i got from the message.

There was a point in his message that he spoke about getting lost in Dubai. Bro. J was called to pray over a sick brother somewhere in Jebel Ali and the person who knew the way could not pick him up and so he had to go with another brother who said 'he thought he knew the way'! When they actually reached Jebel Ali, they completely missed the way and got hopelessly lost! The person who could not pick brother up (the one 'who knew the way') reached the venue in 15 minutes! Ultimately, after speaking to the one who 'knew the way', they ultimately reached the destination about an hour late!

Moral of the story? WHEN YOU DON"T HAVE THE PERSON WHO 'KNOWS THE WAY' WITH YOU, YOU CAN BE HOPELESSLY LOST!

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me - John 14:6

Therefore,Find 'the way' and find 'the truth' !


Tuesday, 23 July 2013

THE SNARE OF THE FOWLER

Yesterday, I attended Bro. Johnson's first day of his July retreat in Dubai. He spoke about how in his younger days he set up snares for rabbits on their coffee estate. They would survey the plantation for rabbit footprints. When they found a well used path (Apparently, rabbits follow the same path up and down from their burrows!), They would stretch a line between two plants, with many loops in it. The rabbits would get snared inside the loops and try to push their way through only to find the noose getting tighter!

(Note: A snare is a device that is secretly but strategically set up to capture a targeted subject.)

I reflected on just this illustration and came to know of many types of snares according to the bird or animal that it is designed to trap! Some use lures like food and some just plain mechanics! But whatever the case be, a snare is a snare and there are a few things one needs to learn form it (Inspired by a sermon by Spurgeon):

1. The fowler's snare is intimately connected with secrecy.

The fowler carefully covers up his trap; so that it is utterly ignorant of his intention to take it in the trap, little thinking that the food laid there for its banqueting is really placed there for its enticement and destruction. 

The temptations of the world are of this secret sort to a Christian, though not to the wicked man, for the wicked man sins with his eyes wide open; dashing into the net knowing it is a net, even when destruction stares him in the face. He will commit a sin that he knows is condemned even by the law of the land; he will rush into a crime, concerning the guilt of which no doubt can be entertained. Not so the Christian: he is taken by secrecy. "Ah!" says one, "if I thought such-and-such a thing were really wrong; if I were perfectly convinced of its wrongfulness, I would give it up." It is just there the difficulty lies. 

Many a man has been entrapped into sin by Satan; not knowing that it was evil! 

Many a man has taken in an evil thing, because it has been varnished and glossed over, and not apparently an evil; and he has thought in his heart, there is not much harm in it; so he has let in the little thing, and it has been like the breaking forth of water—the first drop has brought after it a torrent. The beginning has been but the beginning of a fearful end. 

2. the snare of the fowler is generally noted for its adaptation

You do not find a fowler setting the same snare for one bird as for another; he knows his bird and he adapts his bait to it. He would be an unwise fowler who should go to work with the same machinery to catch the lark that flies on high as the duck that swims along the stream. The fowler is wiser than that: he adapts his snare to the condition of the bird which he desires to take. Satan the fowler does just the same. A drunkard? He tempts him to drunkenness. Perhaps that would naturally be his sin, if left without grace in his heart; and Satan, knowing it to be his weak point, attempts to overcome him by surfeiting, gluttony, and drunkenness. A lustful man? He tempts him with pornography - makes it easy for him to access it until he falls deeper into the sin and destroys his life in brothels.

3. the fowler's snare is frequently connected with pleasure, profit, and advantage.

In the bird's case it is for the seed scattered on the ground that he flies to the snare. It is some tempting bait which allures him to his death. And usually Satan; the fowler, uses a temptation wherewith to beguile us.

Your fairest pleasures will harbour your grossest sins. Take care; take care of your pleasures. Cleopatra's asp was introduced in a basket of flowers; so are our sins often brought to us in the flowers of our pleasures. Satan offers to the drunkard the sweetness of the intoxicating cup, which rejoices him, when his brain is rioting in frolic, and when his soul is lifted up within him. He offers to the lustful man the scenes and pleasures of carnal mirth, and merriment, and delight, and so he leads him astray with the bait, concealing the hook which afterwards shall pain him. He gives to you and to me, each of us, the offer of our peculiar joy; he tickles us with pleasures, that he may lay hold upon us, and so have us in his power. I would have every Christian be especially on his guard against the very thing that is most pleasing to his human nature. I would not have him avoid every thing that pleases him, but I would have him be on his guard against it.

4. Sometimes the fowler very wisely employs the force of example

We all know the influence of the decoy-duck, in endeavouring to bring others into the snare. How very often Satan, the fowler, employs a decoy to lead God's people into sin! You get with a man; you think him to be a true Christian; you have some respect for his character; he is a high professor, can talk religion by the yard, and can give you any quantity of theology you like to ask for. You see him commit a sin; ten to one but you will do the same, if you have much respect for him; and so he will lead you on. And mark, Satan is very careful in the men whom he chooses to be decoys. He never employs a wicked man to be a decoy for a good man. It is very seldom, when Satan would decoy a Christian into a snare, that he makes use of an open reprobate. No; he makes use of a man who is pretendedly religious, and who looks to be of the same quality as yourself, and therefore entices you astray. 

5. Sometimes the fowler, when he fails to take his bird by deceit and craft, will go a hawking after it!

He will send his hawk into the air, to bring down his prey. It often happens, when the devil can not ruin a man by getting him to commit a sin, he attempts to slander him; he sends a hawk after him, and tries to bring him down by slandering his good name.  I have learned this lesson—to do with the slanderous hawk what the little birds do, just fly up. The hawk can not do them any hurt while they can keep above him—it is only when they come down that he can injure them. It is only when by mounting he gets above the birds, that the hawk comes sweeping down upon them, and destroys them. If any slander you, do not come down to them; let them slander on.

So ....Take heed to the first two lines of Psalm 91 to be delivered from the snares that are set for you!

He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust.
Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler

Monday, 22 July 2013

I AM THE BREAD OF LIFE

NOTE: THIS ARTICLE HAS BEEN TAKEN FROM 'THE VINE' (A Devotional ... sent to me by Pastor D) 
........................................................................................................................

Jesus answered them, "This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent." - John 6:29

People are puzzled and wonder how they can eat spiritual food. They cannot see it and cannot take it into their hands. When they are told to work for the food which gives eternal life they ask how they can do it. Here Christ says that the way to work for the spiritual food is to “believe in Him.”
Of course believing in Christ must be taken in its fullest sense. Merely believing that bread will satisfy hunger will not in itself satisfy any hungry man; he must eat of the bread and digest the nutrients in it. In the same way, merely believing that Christ is able to meet all our soul's needs will not in itself bring to us spiritual satisfaction. Christ must be received into our lives.
There are different ways of believing. One may read in a book on astronomy that the sun is some ninety-three million miles away. He or she believes the statement but it has no particular effect on his living tomorrow. It is not calculated to have any effect of this kind, but when he reads that whoever believes in the Lord Jesus Christ will be saved, the truth is meant to bless him by leading him or her: first of all to entrust himself or herself to Christ for salvation, then to follow Him as his Master, then to have his or her unholy life transformed into beauty like Christ's. That is how it is with all spiritual truth.

The mere reception of it is not enough; it must be digested, as food is digested in the body. The Bible verses of the morning must become the Christian's joy or refuge, inspiration or warning or transforming influence throughout the day's struggles and burdens. It must be clear also that we are not to get this spiritual food by working for it but by believing in Christ.
We live by faith -- not works alone.
..............................................................................................................................
Reference: John 6: 35-40
Then Jesus declared, I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. 36 But as I told you, you have seen me and still you do not believe. 37 All those the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away. 38 For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. 39 And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all those he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. 40 For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.”

Sunday, 21 July 2013

MONEY - THE ROOT OF ALL EVIL?

For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs - 1 Tim. 6:10

From the above scripture, we understand that money by itself is neither good nor evil. It is love for money that makes it evil. We know that God can also bless us with lots of money (provided we pass the test of good stewardship ... that calls for another message :-)

An unrighteous relationship with money can lead us into destruction whilst the act of 'unloving' money with the 'right sense' though the Word of God, can bring us Biblical Prosperity which is not just limited to money! For example, consider the scripture passage below:

The naive believes everything, But the sensible man considers his steps. - Proverbs 14:15

Many of us are gullible and get ripped off very easily. Recently, I've heard of many sad stories in Dubai. There was this wonderful massage lady, who my wife and i went to at least twice a month. One day she was weeping inconsolably because someone from China had set up a financial establishment in Dubai and had convinced many Chinese living in Dubai to send money through them at very cheap rates! Sadly, he collected much money and made off with it! Our masseuse had lost 50,000 hard earned dirhams!

A colleague of mine invested in some crude oil business that initially gave him pots of money (on paper of course). Soon, they had enticed him to put in all his savings. He even advised me to put in a 125,000 dirhams but i declined saying that the Lord is providing me all that i need without taking such big risks. He reassured me (with words and reports) that it was not unsafe. Recently, he had a shock of his life when he had lost ALL HIS MONEY!

As the scripture suggests, we should not believe everything that people in the business offer as advise. We must do hours of our own research and praying before we decide to invest into anything!

There are great clues found in Solomon's Proverbs. Solomon was known to be the richest man who ever lived. His assets are touted to be a trillion dollars by today's standards! What was the secret of his success? I will not spoon feed you. Go and dig deep into the Word and find out for yourself how Solomon, Jesus and even Paul were 'prosperous'.

There are many proverbs related to money/wealth in the Book of Proverbs. Reflect on them. Ask the Holy Spirit to guide you, to teach you. But, Above all, ask for WISDOM!


Friday, 19 July 2013

A PRAYER FOR REVELATION


video

Dear Bros and Sisters in Christ,

I thought i'd try to put into good use the recording interface ( Apogee One) gifted to me by my beloved wife.Please excuse me for the bad audio mixing but with the help from the H.S.  i promise to get better as time goes by :-)

Please note that everything in the above video is from the Holy Bible!

God bless you all.

Joseph

Thursday, 18 July 2013

LIVE A 'CRUCIFIED' LIFE

If i asked you what form Satan and his demons take nowadays, how would you describe the creeps?
Would you paint the following picture? Terrifying face and body, fangs dripping with blood, fire from the nose, talons for nails, a long slimy tail ending in an arrowhead .... NO!

The bible says in 2 Cor. 11:14 - "And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light".

If a professional thief was to steal the queen's jewels, what replacements would he keep behind in the cases? duplicates made of papier mache? NO! He would ensure that he uses an alloy that looks like gold or silver and coloured glass that appears to be like the real gems!

You would be a fool to think that Satan is a fool!

Let me tell you at least one way how i have been fooled myself!

Some years ago, my wife and i were coerced into joining a 'Rosary Prayer Crusade'. About 5-10 people would gather together in different houses each week to pray the rosary. Honestly, the reason why we joined was to see the 'miracles in wax' that would happen during the rosary! In fact, the very first day we joined, there was a beautiful wing of an angel that got formed in the plate that was holding the candles. It was so detailed that one could even see the indentations of the feathers! We attended a few more sessions, specially those which were held in my sister-in-law's house. By then, more people had joined the prayer group. There we saw the wax forming beautiful rose buds as well as roses as in full bloom. There were even angel forms on the side of the candles! Sadly, the people who were joining were coming there more for the 'sensation' than for any tangible blessing!

Satan has been fooling God's people through sensation and superstition throughout the centuries! 

When Jesus healed, He told them not to tell anybody! The sin of sensationalism has entered almost all churches now. It is so powerful that it seduces people much more that the sin of the flesh! Religion (Both Roman Catholicism and Protestantism) has encouraged such seductions and use this as a tool to pull people in their hordes towards themselves. The power to dictate and rule has blinded the hearts of many religious leaders!

In Gal 2:20, Paul impresses upon the Christians of his day : "I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me".

Most times i wonder, " If religion is from God, why does it divide instead of unite?" People who are religious even go to the point of exhibiting demonic traits in them. Let us be warned through the following scripture:

"Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it" - Mat. 7:13

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

'LITTLE GOOD' CAN BLOCK 'THE BEST'

Organised religion does have 'some good' in it but then, IT BLOCKS THE FOLLOWER FROM RECEIVING 'GOD'S BEST'!

(I was talking to Pastor 'D' this evening about Churches in general and i thought I'd blog a few 'observations' he made before those thoughts disappear from my mind).

When we read a passage describing what the End Times will be like, the Word ends by describing a form of Christianity "which has an appearance of godliness but denies its power" and commands us "from such people turn away" (2 Tim.3:5). It is useful to actually read the whole passage: 2 Tim.3:1-5 and a parallel passage in 1 Tim. 4:1-5. I believe you will agree that both passages describe features found in many churches today.

This counterfeit church model will fool millions who are not taught the complete and powerful Word of God. It will also contain some good things in it, so that people will be deceived into believing it is the "real thing." But in truth it is a phony, a very dangerous wrong turning and false path, and through it the enemy will succeed in misleading millions and weakening the impact of the True Church which should be radically concentrating on walking in the power and glory of the Holy Spirit.

The enemy is not only vicious and ruthless; he can also be incredibly devious and subtle. This is why one of his most potent and effective lines of attack is to substitute God's true model of a church of glorious faith, holiness and power with a church full of carnal ritual which impresses men's souls, ie. impressive buildings, artwork, music, incense, lighting effects, men in fancy dress, an annual calendar of feast days, statues, icons, talismans, etc.

 "all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." (Rom.3:23). The Greek word translated as "sin" in English Bibles is "hamartia" which literally means "missing the mark" or "falling short of a benchmark."

A PERTINENT QUESTION: ARE WE FALLING SHORT OF GOD'S GLORY BY 'MISSING THE MARK'?

Beware when Jesus says: "Because you are lukewarm, I will spit you out" (Rev.3:16).



Sunday, 14 July 2013

THE EXTERMINATOR OF FAITH

Continuing from where i left off with my report on my first visit to a Hospital to pray over Christian patients, Let me now tell you of the other patients who were devoid of Faith and therefore full of fear and anxiety. Their body language was enough to confirm that fact. They lay on their beds in foetal positions with their blankets covering faces almost entirely!

One such patient was a young Filipino lady who had cysts on both her Fallopian tubes. More than her malady, it was the bill that was worrying her. Whilst we were praying for another patient next to her, i overheard her saying to the nurse,"Who will pay my bill?" When we approached her asking if she would like us to pray with her, she at first had a blank look on her face but then she quickly nodded. When she had told us about her case, I was able to tell her the testimony of my sister-in-law, Reva, who had suffered from the same problem. HOPE CAME. Her face changed. She brightened up and after we had prayed, she had stretched out her legs into a more relaxed position! It is amazing what HOPE can do!

Let me share Reva's testimony with you ...

When my brother married her, he was aware that the doctors had told her that she would not be able to bear children. My brother still insisted on going ahead with the marriage. God blessed them with a healthy boy against all odds (She had only one ovary and the other one already had signs of cysts! We have a truly awesome God. Your faith in Him can get you mighty miracles. If only you believe!)

After three years of having the first child, Reva was told that she had to remove the second ovary too. The doctors in Dubai had estimated the cost of surgery to be around AED. 17,000 ( $ 4,625 ). Since Reva did not have a medical insurance, the family decided that she go to Goa and get it done there for a lot cheaper!
When Reva arrived in Goa, my brother Cosme who has regular prayer services led by Bro. Alex, a mighty man of God (I call him 'Fiery Prophet' - Ministers to vegetable sellers in South Goa), suggested that she soak herself in prayer for 3 days and only then go ahead with the decision to remove her ovary. Although Reva came against strong opposition from her family, her husband (my bro) stood by her decision to dedicate the 3 days in prayer. On the third day, Reva had a terrible pain in her abdomen and fell to the ground screaming and rolling and moaning in pain. They continued praying without getting distracted and by the end of the session, she became totally calm. Later Reva testified that she felt as if something had left her body. Bro. Alex told her that the Holy Spirit had already operated on her and the doctor would find no reason for the surgery. INDEED IT WAS SO! THERE WAS NO TRACE OF CYSTS ON HER OVARY! Reva then had another healthy baby to seal her testimony!

We then visited an Ethiopian brother who was infused with hope by Brian in his previous visit to the hospital. He had come to the hospital with badly infected toes, full of puss. The doctors were going to amputate his toes to arrest the spread of the infection to other parts of his leg.There were many tubes placed inside his toes to drain out the puss. Brian had prophesied that the Lord had healed him the last week he came on a hospital visit. On Friday when we went there, he was sitting on his bed reading the Bible! There was no pain, no tubes, and HIS TOES WERE STILL THERE! Apparently, the infection had strangely disappeared and he was well on his way to full recovery! A HOPE - LESS situation had been turned into a HOPE - FULL one!

There were at least three patients who had been discharged. I know this because Brian specifically asked for them and the nurses confirmed that they had gone home healed!

I could keep writing about a few more cases like this but i believe what I've written above is enough to get the message! But let me leave you with a little something from the Bible ....

Here’s what Paul says in Rom 15:13 –
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.

Paul says God is a God of hope — which means those who trust Christ always have reason to be full of hope.

He also says God can change our discouraged hearts so we abound with hope.
How?  By the power of the Holy Spirit — who works “in [our] believing.”

When we turn our hearts to trust Jesus and His promises, the Holy Spirit will — in time — cause us to abound in hope.

Saturday, 13 July 2013

YOUR ATTITUDE DECIDES YOUR ALTITUDE!

Yesterday, Brian, Adrian and I went to pray over 'Christian Patients' in Rashid Hospital. Christian patients only, because it is forbidden to go around praying for patients of other faiths unless they have specifically asked you to. For the sake of this article, I will only concentrate on three out of the 20 patients we must have prayed over.

One was a Hyderabadi man who had a broken leg and rib due to a bad car accident. Even before we reached his bedside, we could feel the love radiating out of him. The secret of his attitude was that he was totally in love with Jesus and kept on praising Him for this 'new life' which was given him. As soon as he would get discharged from hospital, he was going to testify to everyone what the Lord had done in his life.

Another was a young boy (under 30), who had shattered both his legs and lay in excruciating pain. He had steel poking out from his bandages everywhere. Yet, he was joyful. He had a well worn Bible on his side. All he was doing was praising God for giving him another chance at life.

There was yet another who had broken both his ankles after miraculously surviving a fall from 4m. He had landed on both his feet when he had fallen off a building scaffold! There was no doubt in his mind that the Lord had saved him for a purpose and kept praising Him.

What could be the source of their joy in their intensely painful situations?

Writing from a prison cell in Rome, the apostle Paul wrote about the attitude a Christian should have:

 “Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ” (Philippians 1:27). He’s telling us that no matter what unexpected disruptions, frustrations, or difficulties come our way, we are to respond with a Christ-like attitude.

Paul also writes, “Your attitude should be the same as that of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 2:5).

He also encourages us in Ephesians 5:1 to be “imitators of Christ as dearly beloved children.” As children love to imitate what they see and repeat what they hear; we also are charged to imitate and model Christ’s behaviour and to be clear reflections of the Lord (Matthew 5:16).

Each time we try to control our circumstances, our future, and the people around us, we’re only demonstrating that we want to be a god. But we must understand that, as creatures, we will never be the Creator. God doesn’t want us to try to become gods. Instead, He wants us to become like Him, taking on His values, His attitudes, and His character.

We are meant to “be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (Ephesians 4:23-24).


Thursday, 11 July 2013

THE STRUGGLE WITHIN ME

I received Holy Communion at age 7 and I was confirmed in the faith at age 12. In those days, the good old Carmelite Monks meant everything to us. I literally ate and drank at their table and was even given a room to myself (usually a month before every exam), so that I could focus on my studies. I still remember sitting on those hard wooden benches, gathered around Fr. Silva/Fr. John/Fr. Simon Stock, who would tell us stories from the Bible and quiz us on the Catechism. We were too young then to understand how the host and wine could change into the real body and wine into the real blood. I served at mass till the age of 22 and I struggled with what was explained to me as a 'mystery'. Even today, at age 47, I have still not comprehended how this can happen although there are many 'Eucharistic Miracles' talked about on the Internet and church bulletins.

As you can see, I am still trying to make sense out of 'this whole thing'! (Readers, do let me know if you understand this differently)

John 6: 48 to 55: I am the bread of life. 49 Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and are dead. 50 This is the bread which comes down from heaven, that one may eat of it and not die. 51 I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world.”

52 The Jews therefore quarreled among themselves, saying, “How can this Man give us His flesh to eat?”

53 Then Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you. 54 Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. 55 For My flesh is food indeed,[a] and My blood is drink indeed.

I agree that when many disciples left Jesus that day due to the above 'shocking' words of Jesus. Many say that the fact that Jesus did not stop them and explain that it was only a parable, is reason enough to believe that the consecrated host does indeed change into the body of Christ (and wine into blood).

In  Jn.6:33, He says that the bread of heaven is not His earthly flesh but He Who (personally and now incarnately) came down to give life to the world. When in 6:34, the believers said to Him `Lord, give us this bread evermore!'- Jesus did not pick up a piece of earthly bread and turn it into Himself.
Instead, in 6:35, He said to them `I am the bread of life' (and not `I will become the bread of life'); he who comes to Me (and not `he who comes to a piece of earthly bread that I will turn into Myself) shall never be hungry."

In John 6:48f, Jesus added: "I am that bread of life." He did not say: `Earthly bread will become Me.' Of Himself He then said: "This is the bread that comes down from heaven (not `that earthly bread will become Me). If any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever (not `even if any man eats the consecrated host on earth, he might still end up in hell' ????). And the bread that I will give [not `the consecrated host ????], is My flesh which I will give for the life of the world."

In John 6:52-58, "the [(nbelieving) Jews therefore strove among themselves, saying, `How can this man give us his flesh to eat?"' This shows that they had a carnal, cannibalistic and materialistic misunderstanding of what Jesus was saying.

In 6:53, "Jesus said to them, 'Very truly I tell you, unless you keep on eating the flesh of the Son of man and keep on drinking His blood (Is He talking about coming to mass everyday here?), you have no life in yourselves. Whoever keeps on eating My flesh and keeps on drinking My blood, has everlasting life. "'

"For My flesh is food indeed, and My blood is drink indeed. He who keeps on eating My flesh and keeps on drinking My blood, keeps on dwelling in Me (not physically but spiritually), And I in him (not physically but spiritually).

He who keeps on feeding on Me (does not appear to be talking of the consecrated host ...), even he shall keep on living by Me. This is that bread which came down from heaven (and not `you must physically eat my flesh which came forth from Mary') .... He who keeps on eating of this bread (namely the Christ from heaven), shall continue living for ever (and not `might end up in heaven after a reasonable term in purgatory, yet could possibly still end up in hell for ever')!"

Jesus said: "The hour is coming, and is now, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit.... .... God is Spirit; and they that worship Him, must worship Him in spirit .... It is the Spirit Who enlivens. The flesh profits nothing. The words which I spoke to you, they are Spirit!" John 4:23f & 6:63.

In John 6:61, when even His disciples kept on murmuring about this, Jesus said to them : "It is the Spirit Who keeps on enlivening! The flesh profits not at all! The words which I have spoken (or keep speaking) to you, they are Spirit and they are life!

..............................................................................................................................................................
Plausible? .....

Later, in Acts we know how there were only 120 gathered together on the day of Pentecost (What happened to all the other disciples who walked with Jesus?) . On that day after receiving the power from the Holy Spirit, thousands were added to their fold. Could it be that the very same disciples who walked away from Jesus FINALLY GOT THE MESSAGE?










  




 

Thursday, 4 July 2013

A JEALOUS GOD

God told Elijah one day to go and hide himself by the brook Cherith – and he went at once (1 Kings 17:3). There the ravens brought him bread and meat and he drank from the brook (v.6). At 8 o’clock every morning, a raven would bring him some food. Again at 5 o’clock in the evening, another raven would bring him some food. These ravens would bring him meat and for a raven to bring meat (which it loves!) is a great miracle! That’s how God provided for Elijah. But gradually, after a few days, Elijah began depending on the ravens and not the Lord!

The Lord then told Elijah to go to Zarephath, just outside Israel. When he reached Zarephath, what he found was a poor widow who was just about to have her last meal! (not some rich businessman who he may have imagined!).  And the Lord told Elijah, “She will support you!” God’s ways are truly amazing. God does things like that because He is a jealous God. He wants us to trust in Him and not in ravens or rich businessmen. He will use a weak person whom you least expect to be able to help you, and use him, so that no flesh may glory in His presence.

The widow said, “We were just about to have our last meal and die.” Elijah told her, “Don’t be afraid. Make me a little bread cake from it first. The bowl of flour shall not be exhausted nor shall the jar of oil be empty, until the day the Lord sends rain on the face of the earth” (1 Kings 17:13, 14). And the bowl of flour was not exhausted and the jar of oil did not become empty.


Many a times, we ourselves start out trusting the Lord for our financial needs. But after a few years, we are no longer depending on the Lord, but on some ravens – (Kind human beings, charitable organizations, etc.) That is exactly what happened to Elijah. So what did the Lord do? He stopped the ravens! God wanted to shake off Elijah’s dependence on ravens and to teach him once again to depend on the Lord.