Friday, December 3, 2010
Monday, June 14, 2010
Monday, April 19, 2010
Romans is a letter written by Apostle Paul to the church in Rome. Paul writes about basic gospel and God's plan of salvation for all people. Salvation is available to all, regardless of a person's identity, sin or heritage. We are saved by grace through faith. Paul also talks about freedom from power of sin, freedom from the domination of the law, freedom to become like Christ and discover God's limitless love. Paul also gives some practical advice as to how a Christian should behave. Paul almost concludes this letter by letting the church know about his plan to visit them and by giving his personal greetings to many people.
But just before the end he gives a final instruction to the church, Paul says that he is making one more appeal. I want to bring out few things out of that here.
And now I make one more appeal, my dear brothers and sisters. Watch out for people who cause divisions and upset people’s faith by teaching things contrary to what you have been taught. Stay away from them. Such people are not serving Christ our Lord; they are serving their own personal interests. By smooth talk and glowing words they deceive innocent people. (NLT)
In these verses Paul is making an appeal. In NIV version it says "I urge you". He is making this appeal to everyone. What is Paul’s appeal? His appeal is that watch out for people who cause divisions and teach things contrary to what you have learned. These types of teachings not only upset people but also put obstacles in the faith of people. We are living in times when Christianity has been highly commercialized by people who claim to be teachers of Bible and in reality they are not. They earn millions by selling their books and other things which they claim to be biblical in nature but they are not. Lot of books and sermons comes on our way which looks too good to be avoided in the first place. But we should check what the content is and make sure it goes in line with what is taught by Jesus Christ.
Now we see lot of people like this. What should we do? Paul’s instruction is simple- Stay away from them. They are not serving Christ our Lord; but they are serving their own personal interests. Paul gives identification about such people. By Smooth talk and glowing words they deceive innocent people. In NIV version it says that they deceive the minds of naïve people. How true it is. Mind manipulation has always been a strategy which Satan has used from beginning to deceive people. He will try to manipulate the minds by bringing ideas and thoughts which are completely contrary to the command of God. They will sound good. They use smooth talk, flattery or glowing words to make people think that it’s true. In the Garden of Eden also similar thing happened. We have to careful to avoid any resources which can corrupt or manipulate our minds.
Acts 17 talks about the church in Berea. It says that they searched the scriptures day after day to see if Paul and Silas were teaching the truth (Acts17:11). We should be people who search the scriptures on a day to day basis and make sure that we are following the truth as it is revealed in the word of God. When it comes to the truth of word of God remember that Ignorance is not bliss.
May God Bless You!
Monday, March 1, 2010
A group of Christian missionaries met in Delhi, India, with representatives of other religions to discuss their beliefs. In the course of their talks a member of a major non-Christian religion said to a missionary, "Tell me one thing your religion can offer the Indians that mine can't." The missionary thought for a moment and replied, "Forgiveness! Forgiveness!"
Forgiveness is an important teaching of the Bible. Jesus in his teaching stressed the need of forgiveness very much. During the sermon on mount, Jesus taught about forgiveness. At one point of time Peter came to Jesus and asked an important question. Peter wanted to have a numerical number as to how many times he should forgive someone. Peter also had a suggestion for Jesus. Is it seven times? You can find this in Matthew 18:21-35. I guess that since Jesus stressed on forgiveness many times during his teaching and since forgiving someone is not an easy thing, Peter wanted to know the upper limit. How many times? Till what extend should I tolerate. Till what point should I wait before I give up? Rabbis taught that people should forgive those who offend them three times. Peter was trying to be more generous and suggested the perfect number seven.
Jesus gave an interesting answer and continued with the parable of unforgiving debtor. Jesus said seventy times seven. It means four hundred and ninety (490) times. It’s not easy to count or keep tract of 490 times. Jesus was meaning that we shouldn’t even keep track of how many times we forgive. To say that I forgive is easy but to forget, it’s very difficult. That’s why we keep history and remember exactly the number of times someone has offended us. One story which I read recently was interesting and it clearly exposes our problem.
Eunice, a former missionary to Liberia, told a story about forgiveness. An African man worked for her, and one day she caught him stealing clothes from her house. "Please forgive me," he pleaded. “I did wrong. I promise not to do it again." She forgave him and allowed him to continue working for her. But less than a month passed before she caught him stealing again, "Look at you!" she said. "You've stolen again!" The bright fellow stared at her and yelled back, "What kind of a Christian are you?" Eunice, dumbfounded, had no idea how to respond. "If you forgave me, you do not remember it." the man said. "If you did not remember it, such a thing did not happen."
How true it is. I have seen people bring all the old historical events and problems when they discuss some issues. They have already asked forgiveness and said that they have forgiven. But our human nature tends to keep old things and its shows lack of genuine forgiveness from our side. Now in the parable, this man couldn’t forgive his servant who owed him much less compared to what he had to pay to the king. In the end the angry king sent the man to prison to be tortured until he had paid his entire debt. Jesus concludes the subject by saying that “That’s what my heavenly Father will do to you if you refuse to forgive your brothers and sisters from your heart.”(Matthew 18:35) It’s a strong warning for us. It’s very important that we forgive people from our heart. It’s also important that we forget what we have forgiven. It’s difficult. At least make a conscious effort not to speak about or argue about the matters you have already forgiven. Don’t dwell on the issues you have already forgiven. Just imagine if God brings back all our sins and put it in front of us every time we ask him forgiveness. We were sinners and we are saved by the grace of God and when we asked forgiveness he accepted us and forgave all our sins. Remember that our king has cancelled all the big debts when we asked him. Can’t we forgive the small things which other people may do against us? Let’s be genuine disciples and develop the habit of forgiving and forgetting.
Augustine once said - "if you are suffering from a bad man's injustice, forgive him lest there be two bad men.”
Sunday, February 14, 2010
Many times believers go around carrying the guilt of their sins or wrong doings. In many cases people don’t confess their sin. Sometimes people get used to some sinful actions in their life to such an extent that they no longer feel like confessing it or asking God’s forgiveness. It becomes a habit in their life. But deep inside of their heart they will know that it’s wrong and that will make them feel guilty. There are also people who confess their sin but still carry the guilt in their life. They don’t trust God to forgive them
The result of such life style is that you will never be able to serve the Lord or worship the Lord with freedom. The guilty feeling will always pull you back. It will always be there as a hindrance in your relationship with God.
The theme of psalms 32 is the true joy which comes with forgiveness. We have to ask God to forgive our sins and then only He will give us real happiness and relief from guilt. David says that what a joy for those whose disobedience or transgressions are forgiven and whose sin is covered. Again David says about the joy of those whose record the Lord has cleared of guilt and whose lives are lived in complete honesty.
But there was a time when David refused to confess his sin. He was silent about it. During those times his body wasted away and he groaned all day long. Day and night the hand of God’s discipline was heavy upon him and his strength evaporated like water evaporates in summer heat. Many times we can also have such times in our lives. We know it’s all going wrong but still we try to keep silent or refuse to confess our sin. When we read psalms 32:5, David says that finally he confessed all sins to God and stopped trying to hide his guilt. He took a decision or said to himself that he will confess his rebellion to the Lord. When he did this the result was that God forgave his sins and all his guilt was gone.
The key to receive forgiveness and lead a guilt free life is to confess your sins to God and stop trying to hide your guilt. There are people who say that you don’t have to worry about your sin and there is no need to confess it as Jesus has already died for you. There is no need to worry about the guilt as Jesus has already forgiven your future sins also. You just have to change your thinking. But it’s not a biblical teaching but a lie from the hell to destroy people’s relationship with God. Proverbs 28:13 says that “He who conceals his sins does not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy.” 1 John 1:8-10 says that “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives.”
Let’s not deceive ourselves but rather experience the Joy which we receive at being forgiven.
Yours in Christ,
Sunday, February 7, 2010
“Who may climb the mountain of the Lord? Who may stand in his holy place? Only those whose hands and hearts are pure, who do not worship idols and never tell lies. They will receive the Lord’s blessing and have a right relationship with God their savior. Such people may seek you and worship in your presence, O God of Jacob.” Psalms 24:3-6 (NLT)
In psalms 24, David is asking a question. The question is who may climb the mountain of the Lord? And who can stand in the holy place. In the very next verse he gives the answer to this question. There are three things mentioned there. They are:-
- Only those whose hands and hearts are pure.
- Who do not worship idols.
- Never tell lies.
David continues and says that such people will not only climb or ascend to the hill of God but will also receive Lord’s blessing and have right relationship with God their savior. Many times we struggle to maintain our relationship with God. These verses tell us some of the basic things needed in our life to maintain a good relationship with our God. I want to encourage you to make sure that you have a good relationship with your God. That’s the most important relationship in your life. If you have a good relationship with God then all other relationship will fall in the right place. Without having a good relationship with God, it’s very difficult to have a good relationship with other people.
Sometimes we say that our circumstances are not allowing us to lead a life in close walk with God. A Christian should not permit circumstances to affect his relationship to God, but rather he should allow his relationship with God to affect his circumstances.
Above everything else in your life make sure that you have right relationship with your God!
Yours in Christ,
Monday, February 1, 2010
"Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives" 2 Peter 3:11
Holiness is an important subject of the Bible. Bible clearly tells that our God is holy and He expects us to be holy. God says that “Be holy because I, the Lord your God, am holy” (Lev 19: 2). Many times God asked his people to consecrate themselves before He did wonders among them.
When we read about the revivals which took place, one common thing we see is that people where confessing their sins and turning back to God and had a deep desire to lead a holy life. Some of the fiery preachers of yesteryear's where known for their preaching against sin. Exposing the lie of enemy and encouraging people to lead a holy life in the sight of God was one of the main subjects. But times have changed. Nowadays mostly we hear compromising messages. Preachers are concerned and focused about preaching what people want to listen. The attempt is mostly made to make people comfortable and make them feel that everything is going good and fine. Changing the word of God to suit people’s lifestyle is a big deception. The result of such practice is that disciples are losing their saltiness. Christians are no longer able to make an impact since there is not much difference between a believer and non-believer. Everything a worldly person does is done by people who claim to be Christians. Somehow we have gone so much into the world that world has got into us. That's why we don't feel any regret or feel anything when we are leading a sinful life. As long as we go to church once or twice a week we feel that everything is ok. Many Churches makes people comfortable. For some people spirituality has become a weekend activity. I want to put down a provoking statement here. If you are leading a sinful life and still feels very comfortable attending your church then its time you think twice. A church service and the sermon should lead you closer to God and for that to happen, your sinful life style has to go away. You can never get close to God if you continue in your sinful life.
God has called us to be holy. In everything we have to reflect the character of Jesus Christ through our life and holiness is an important area. You may ask why there is so much emphasis in our church on this. We are called to live holy and godly lives. Again 1 peter 1:15 says that "But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do;”
Few days ago I read some facts about Ermine which was taken from Our Daily Bread. I want to share it with you
“In the forests of northern Europe and Asia lives little animal called the ermine, known for his snow-white fur in winter. He instinctively protects his white coat against anything that would soil it. “Fur hunters take advantage of this unusual trait of the ermine. They don't set a snare to catch him, but instead they find his home, which is usually a cleft in a rock or a hollow in an old tree. They smear the entrance and interior with grime. Then the hunters set their dogs loose to find and chase the ermine. The frightened animal flees toward home but doesn't enter because of the filth. Rather than soil his white coat, he is trapped by the dogs and captured while preserving his purity. For the ermine, purity is more precious than life”.
We are called to preserve our purity in the sight of God. In this world we are called to lead a holy life. We have a short time in this world when we compare it with eternity. Make sure that we are not compromising and missing the blessings of God in our life.
So be Holy since our God is a Holy God.
Yours in Christ,
It’s sometime since I wrote any blog. Lot of things kept me busy during the last few months. Some of you are aware of MPA but some of you may not be. We started a Pentecostal church in Minnesota. As far as I know, it’s the only Pentecostal church in the state which conducts service in Malayalam. We have services held in English and Malayalam. Right now I am giving leadership in this church along with few other brothers. So its keeping me very busy. Keep me in your prayers.
It's exciting as I have always enjoyed being part of something which is getting started or which is very small. It's not the first time when I am part of a ministry which is at its beginning stage. I trust in a God who gives growth and believes that if your motives and intentions are clear in the site of God then He will bless you. It's a different kind of challenge to stand for God when nothing is established. For about 1.5 yrs before MPA started I had been part of some big churches and enjoyed my time there in a different way. It was good to sit and watch. But fellowship factor is main issue. Christian life without fellowship with other people is just useless. Don't take me wrong. Fellowship is a big factor which I missed in churches. In this generation I feel that somehow the meaning of church is understood in a different way than the way it is in Bible. For many people, just attending a church for 1 hr on a Sunday or Saturday is everything. They think that's all it takes to be a Christian.
One particular incident is worth mentioning here for all the readers to understand some facts. I was at a Pentecostal church on a Sunday morning. Since the church belonged to a major denomination, I was expecting that there will be a good message from the Bible which will be my manna for the week. I will elaborate on manna for week sometime later if you haven't got it. Anyway I came crying out of the church. The preacher showed a clip from some movie. Explained the story of the movie. Explained how the hero and heroine got together in the end after going away from each other. I am not joking here. Not even a single verse from the Bible was displayed on the screen. If it was an evangelistic meeting or something of that sort then it would have made some sense. The point is somehow the world has got into the church in a big way. Hollywood has captured the church pulpits also. The word of God is getting pushed to back for making churches "SEEKER-FRIENDLY".
There are many incidents like this to share. But for now back to MPA. Few of us started meeting for prayer meetings and then as per the guidance of Holy Spirit went ahead with MPA. I don't want to go into to much of detail at this time. You can visit www.mnpassembly.org for more information. But we as a church are focused on three areas. They are
- Worship and Prayer
Our mission statement is "To make disciples who will make disciples". Discipleship is a subject which is very close to my heart. Right now we gather every Saturday and Sunday for meetings. Saturday meetings are held at a church facility in Eagan, MN. Right now mostly the songs are Malayalam and English. Sometimes in Hindi also. Hindi is my favorite language anyway due to many reasons. If you are looking for growing in the Lord, looking for solid word of God which will challenge you against compromise and fellowship which is not intended to increase church attendance but to help you become disciples of Jesus Christ then feel free to join us. One more thing - we are bit conservative and not liberal. Hope you understand what I mean by it. At MPA we will not customize things to make you feel comfortable in the way you are from a spiritual perspective and from the point of standing for the word of God. At MPA we will pray and try to build each other so that we will grow towards perfection.
Weekly messages and bulletins are updated every week. Feel free to visit us if you stay or come anywhere near twin cities in Minnesota.
Do visit the church website for few more details. www.mnpassembly.org
God Bless You!
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