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Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Bartholomew - The Faithful Disciple

- As seen on https://www.facebook.com/ministrywitness/posts/770437306352532

Bartholomew was one of the twelve disciples of Jesus.
We read very little about him in the Bible.

His name is mentioned in the synoptic gospels - Matthew, Mark and Luke.
Bartholomew means, “Son of Tolmai” and he is generally presumed to be the same person called Nathaniel in John’s Gospel.

We might call him, Nathaniel, son of Tolmai, Bartholomew.
It was Philip who introduced Jesus to Bartholomew first as Jesus of Nazareth, son of Joseph.

Bartholomew was reluctant to believe it.
He asked Philip, “Can anything good come from Nazareth?”

But when he met Jesus personally and heard Him say of him,
“Here comes an honest man - a true son of Israel”, Bartholomew was astonished.

When Jesus further said, “I saw you while you were still under the fig tree before Philip called you, Bartholomew had no second thought. He said, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God - the King of Israel.”

Bartholomew knew Jesus on the day and from that day forward he never turned back.
Early Church historians generally agree that Bartholomew took the gospel as far as India where he translated the Gospel of St. Matthew and preached to the people in their own language.

But persecution drove him to Greater Armenia where he brought King Polimius and twelve cities to Christian faith.
This irritated the priests who turned the king’s brother against Bartholomew.


He was arrested and was accused for “perverting King Polimius”, to which Bartholomew responded humbly that he had only preached the true worship of God. Infuriated, the King’s brother ordered that Bartholomew be suspended upside down on a cross.

Some sources say that he was beheaded with an axe to end his suffering. His famous words were,
“I would rather seal my testimony with my blood than suffer the shipwreck of my faith or conscience”.
(Martyr’s Mission).



Dear friends, Nathaniel alias Bartholomew was not famous like Peter or Paul, yet he paid the ultimate sacrifice for his faith.
How will our faith be in times of persecution?

PRAYER: Heavenly Father, though at first Bartholomew did not believe that Jesus was the Messiah, when he met Him personally all his doubts flew away. He became His faithful disciple and lived so till his death. Like him, let me also be zealous for you till my last breath. Amen.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Temptation

James 1:12English Standard Version (ESV)

12 Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.


You'll never be exempt from temptation.

 Each season of life just brings temptation in a different form.

When you're young you'll struggle with the need for companionship and sexual fulfilment.

In business you'll be tempted to distort the truth, cheat and pocket the money.

When you become successful, if you're not careful you'll become ego-driven, controlling and opinionated.

The truth is, you never become so spiritual as to be exempt from temptation.

 After forty days of prayer and fasting, Satan tempted Jesus.
So you are as vulnerable to attack after a great spiritual experience as you are in your lowest moments.

Satan understood Jesus' assignment and he was out to stop Him from accomplishing it.
And he is out to stop you too!

The battle you're in is not over the past, it's over the future.

In the face of repeated temptation Jesus defeated Satan by using the Word of God, and you must too.

Without it you have no defence.

In what specific areas do you struggle?
 What's your strategy for victory?

What percentage of the time are you successful?

Which Scriptures have you memorised to help you conquer the tempter when he comes against you?

 Look at Samson, God's champion: blinded, chained, grinding corn like an ox in a Philistine dungeon.

Sin has a blinding effect, a binding effect and a grinding effect.

Prisons are filled with people who were too weak to stand up against Satan. Dreams crash daily on the rocks of temptation. Move the ship of your life away from those rocks while you still can.

From thewordfortoday.au

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

'Genie, you're free': How not to talk about suicide?

- DR. JIM DENISON, PRESIDENT










After Robin Williams died, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences sent a tweet that has been seen by as many as 69 million people.  It pictures the Genie from Aladdin, a character voiced so memorably by Williams, with the caption, "Genie, you're free." 

What's wrong with the tweet?







Christine Moutier, chief medical officer at the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, says,
"If it doesn't cross the line, it comes very, very close to it. Suicide should never be presented as an option.  That's a formula for potential contagion." 

According to The Washington Post, vulnerable people can be encouraged to commit suicide in the way a well-known person does, a phenomenon known as "suicide contagion" or "copycat suicide."

It is understandable to wish Robin Williams well even after his death.  For instance, Henry Winkler tweeted,
"Robin you are an angel now!!" 

Jason Alexander tweeted,
"I'm so sorry the earth couldn't stay worthy of you.  Hope happiness awaits you."

At the same time, we don't want to say or do anything that unintentionally encourages others to take their lives. 
Suicide is never the answer.


Here's another wrong way to talk about suicide:
Making it seem inevitable for those with depression. 

We know that Robin Williams was suffering from what his publicist called "severe depression."

  And we know that there is a strong link between depression and suicide.  Research shows that two-thirds of those who complete suicide are depressed at the time of their deaths.  The risk of suicide for those with major depression is 20 times that of the general population.  This is a staggering fact, given that depression affects one in six persons in the United States.

However, suicide is not inevitable, even for those suffering from depression.  As one psychotherapist and professor states,
"the suicide of any one person . . . never is or was inevitable.  As long as the suicidal person is alive, there is hope for change.  Anything can happen in life at any moment to change the person's situation, suffering or outlook."

Tragically, as many as two thirds of people with depression do not realize they have a treatable illness and do not seek treatment.  Only 50 percent of people diagnosed with major depression receive any kind of treatment.  So if you are dealing with depression, get help.  Know that mental illness is not a sin.

Depression is caused by many factors, including heredity, biology, and life experiences. 
As with other diseases, help is both essential and available to you.  If you know someone who is depressed, help them find help.

And know that suicide is never the answer, and is never inevitable. 

King David knew the pain of depression

Psalm 6:2-3New International Version (NIV)

Have mercy on me, Lord, for I am faint;
    heal me, Lord, for my bones are in agony.
My soul is in deep anguish.
    How long, Lord, how long?


Psalm 25:16New International Version (NIV)

16 Turn to me and be gracious to me,
    for I am lonely and afflicted.

Psalm 31:10New International Version (NIV)

10 My life is consumed by anguish
    and my years by groaning;
my strength fails because of my affliction,[a]
    and my bones grow weak.

  And yet he discovered that 


Psalm 9:9New International Version (NIV)

The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed,
    a stronghold in times of trouble.



So can you.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Fear Has No Power Over Me


God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.
(II Timothy 1:7)

For many years dissidents in Eastern Europe lived under oppressive regimes that tended to promote a sense of fear. These people met in secret, used code words, avoided public telephones and published pseudonymous essays in underground papers.

In the mid-seventies however, Polish and Czech intellectuals began to realize that the constant double life had cost them dearly. Quite simply, they had lost the most basic sense of freedom and human dignity. By working in secret, always with a nervous glance over their shoulder, they had succumbed to fear, which in fact was the goal of their communist opponents all along.

So the dissidents made a conscious decision to change tactics.
“We will act as if we are free, at all costs.”

Defense Committee in Poland began holding public meetings, often in church buildings despite the presence of known informers. They signed articles, adding their addresses and phone numbers and distributed them openly in street corners. In effect the dissidents agreed to start acting the way the society should become. The authorities did not know how to respond. Sometimes they cracked down - nearly all the dissidents spent time in prison - and sometimes they watched with frustration bordering on helplessness.

Meanwhile this new approach emboldened the dissidents and they discovered that inner freedom gives sustenance even when external freedom is snatched away. Their daring philosophy spread to even other countries giving courage to the dissidents in China, Latin America and South Africa and they too were liberated. (Philip Yancey - Finding God in unexpected places.)

Dear friends, a fearful person organizes his or her life around a common perspective of fear. Whatever happens feeds that fear. Whereas a faithful person organizes his or her life around a common perspective of trust, not fear. He believes that despite the apparent chaos of the present moment, God does reign;

“Faith sees even the darkest deed of all history - the death of Jesus, as a necessary prelude to the brightest”, writes Philip Yancey.

satan tries to paralyze us with fear but let us boldly confess, “The One who is in me is greater than the one who is in the world”, and overcome Satan by faith in our Lord Jesus.

PRAYER:
Dear God, satan may try to paralyze me with fear showing me the complexity of the situations. Let me never succumb to him but let me boldly, and openly confess my faith in You. Help me to believe that a glorious crown follows the cross. Amen.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Through it all

Acts 4:12New International Version (NIV)

12 Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.”

I've had many tears and sorrows,
I've had questions for tomorrow,
There've been times I didn't know right from wrong:
But in every situation God gave blessed consolation
That my trials come to only make me strong.

Through it all, through it all,
I've learned to trust in Jesus,
I've learned to trust in God;
Through it all, through it all,
I've learned to depend upon His Word.

I've been to lots of places,
And I've seen a lot of faces,
There've been times I felt so all alone;
But in my lonely hours,
Yes, those precious lonely hours,
Jesus let me know that I was His own.

Through it all, through it all,
I've learned to trust in Jesus,
I've learned to trust in God;
Through it all, through it all,
I've learned to depend upon His Word.

I thank God for the mountains,
And I thank Him for the valleys,
I thank Him for the storms
He brought me through;
For if I'd never had a problem
I wouldn't know that He could solve them,
I'd never know what faith in God could do.

Through it all, through it all,
I've learned to trust in Jesus,
I've learned to trust in God;
Through it all, through it all,
I've learned to depend upon His Word
.


Update to the previous post: Just two days before the test, I got fever and an insane body ache. But thanks to GOD, on the day of the exam, everything turned out to be just fine, as if I never had the wound or the fever or the aches. :D

Also, today I dreamt I saw apparitions of Mother Mary, thrice - in the sky and on the wall of a classroom I've never been to. I was trying to convince people in the room, and one of my friends said she saw it too. All of this was in the dream.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Sutures!

Verse of the Day (BibleGateway)

“Even to your old age and gray hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you.” -Isaiah 46:4 Listen to chapter 

So, last week I was watching an episode of House, and I decided to make a coke float. The ice cream was in a glass container in the freezer. It was insanely cold. Anyhow, I tried to close the lid. Nope, not happening. I kept the bowl on my hands and used my thumbs to do the same, which did work. And then I noticed that the bottom part moved upward. The glass had broken and caused multiple lacerations on my fingers. Blood started gushing out from my right hand. By the time my grandma washed the wound, I started feeling all light headed. My ears began to shut down. So did my eyes. Textbook syncope. However, thank GOD, no glass had gone into my body.

After regaining consciousness, I was taken to a hospital. Seeing pictures of Jesus everywhere made me a little calm, I have to say. After four inspections by nurses and doctors, they finally concluded that tight dressings and stitches would do the job. I felt like I was in an episode of House (hoped this was all just a bad dream, nope). I ended up getting ligatures on one finger on each hand with two stitches on one of those. Did I mention that they stitched the wound without any sedation and that it pained like crazy? I was prescribed a few medicines and was asked to come every other day to change the dressing, until the 10th day, when they would take the stitches out. In short, my hands were rendered inoperative.

Days passed by very fast, and my dysfunctional hands were supplemented by my mother's. The stitches were removed two days earlier than the expected date, and the wound started healing well. Thanks to GOD, the wound almost completely healed right in time for a couple of tests I have to write. The first two paragraphs were typed using just my left hand. Not so now! :D

Update: Just two days before the test, I got fever and an insane body ache. But thanks to GOD, on the day of the exam, everything turned out to be just fine, as if I never had the wound or the fever or the aches. :D

Moral of the (true) story: GOD is always in control, all you need to do is trust in HIM! :)






Monday, September 8, 2014

Do You Feel Useful?

Psalm 139:11-14New International Version (NIV)

11 If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
    and the light become night around me,”
12 even the darkness will not be dark to you;
    the night will shine like the day,
    for darkness is as light to you.
13 For you created my inmost being;
    you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
    your works are wonderful,
    I know that full well.





Ask a flower in the field:
‘Do you feel useful? After all, you do nothing but produce the same flowers over and over?’

And the flower will answer:
‘I am beautiful, and beauty is my reason for living.’

Ask the river:
‘Do you feel useful, given that all you do is to keep flowing in the same direction?’



And the river will answer:
‘I’m not trying to be useful, I’m trying to be a river.’

Nothing in this world is useless in the eyes of God.
Not a leaf from a tree falls, not a hair from your head, not even an insect dies because it was of no use.

Everything has a reason to exist.

Even you, the person asking the question. ‘I’m useless’ is the answer you give yourself.
Soon that answer will poison you and you will die while still alive, even though you still walk, eat, sleep and try to have a little fun whenever possible.



Don’t try to be useful.
Try to be yourself: that is enough, and that makes all the difference.



Paulo Coelho