He appointed some of the Levites to minister before the ark of the LORD, to make petition, to give thanks, and to praise the LORD, the God of Israel: Asaph was the chief, Zechariah second, then Jeiel, Shemiramoth, Jehiel, Mattithiah, Eliab, Benaiah, Obed-Edom and Jeiel. They were to play the lyres and harps, Asaph was to sound the cymbals, and Benaiah and Jahaziel the priests were to blow the trumpets regularly before the ark of the covenant of God. (1 Chronicles 16:4-6)
Sounding the cymbals may not seem to be an exciting job but that was what Asaph was appointed to do as part of the worship and he was supposed to do it faithfully. There are many unsung heroes in every church, every worship and even every forum. They do the work that they are called to do without much or any fanfare. Everyone is important, though many do not realize it. The success of a venture does not only depend on the person at the helm but also the unknown “behind the curtain man or woman”. But even though people may not appreciate or commend such people for their efforts, God rewards them in his infallible ways.
Asaph had a calling to be one of the chief musicians during the reign of King David and he fulfilled his role faithfully. He authored 12 beautiful psalms, namely psalm 50 and psalms 73-83. Later on, we read of his children playing important roles in leading the worship.
When the builders laid the foundation of the temple of the LORD, the priests in their vestments and with trumpets, and the Levites (the sons of Asaph) with cymbals, took their places to praise the LORD, as prescribed by David king of Israel. (Ezra 3:10)
Faithfulness is what God desires from each one of us and the rewards are sure, in God’s time and in God’s ways. Reawrds may not be monetary though, but what more blessing can believing parents receive from the Lord than seeing that their children follow in their ways of serving the Lord and being blessed by the Lord in every aspect of their lives.
So even if your role doesn’t seem important, hang in there, for God has a purpose and plan for you and he will bless you and your family for whatever you are doing for him and his kingdom these days.
I will make rivers flow on barren heights, and springs within the valleys. I will turn the desert into pools of water, and the parched ground into springs. (Isaiah 41:18)
Sometimes, we as believers can hit a barren patch in our lives. Gone is the excitement to worship, the zeal to pray and hunger for the Word seems to have died out. Perhaps it's some long sanding problem that has played on our minds and is the cause, but often it's difficult to figure out what the problem is.
After all the excitement in the first 40 years of his life living in the palace with the Egyptian ruler Pharaoh, Moses hit a barren patch for the next 40 years. Though he got married and had kids in Midian, Moses must have often remembered his days in Egypt. He must have wondered whether things could have been different if he had not taken matters into his own hands by killing an Egyptian. Like Moses, many questions may plague our minds when we go through a barren patch. Things don't seem to move swiftly, dreariness sets in, we go through the motions, but are left unsatisfied.
To preachers who have preached almost everyday and sometimes several times each day, not getting enough oppurtunities to preach or teach the Word can bring a sense of unwantedness. Is it a satanic attack or is God involved? The answers do not come easily.
Moses, finally seemed to have accepted the new life that he was living, taking care of his family and tending to Jethro's flock. The memories of Egypt were fading. "This is it", must be what he felt in his mind. And "this is it" must be what you are thinking in your mind. But wait! God had not finished with Moses and he's not finished with you. A sudden call came to Moses from God at a time when he least expected it and Moses thought he was unprepared for the job. He didn't want to accept it. But God wouldn't take "No" for an answer for he was preparing Moses for this work for 40 years.
If you are going through a barren patch in your spiritual life, God is preparing something new for you. Persist in prayer, worship and meditation of God's Word even if you don't feel excited about it. Things will change. God will do a miracle for you. He will make rivers flow on barren heights, and springs within the valley for you.
For twenty-three years - from the thirteenth year of Josiah son of Amon king of Judah until this very day - the word of the Lord has come to me and I have spoken to you again and again, but you have not listened. (Jeremiah 25:3)
The people of Judah were stubborn and did not care for the godly counsel that Jeremiah gave them. They persecuted him and tried to kill him on several occasions, but God saved him time and again.
Over the past 17 years as a minister of the Gospel, there have been many who have approached me wanting me to pray for them and tell them what the Lord's counsel is regarding a certain situation they are facing in their lives. Perhaps it's a new job or a new location that they are planning to shift to or regarding buying a plot of land to build a house. The situations are diverse and the seekers are keen to know what the Lord's will is. Whether to----or not to-----. But many a times, I have noticed that the seekers have already made up their minds regarding their situation. And even if I tell them that it is not the Lord's will, they anyway go ahead and do as they like.
In the infancy of my work for the Lord, I used to get upset that the seekers were not obeying the Lord's counsel that I gave them. A few years back, once, when something like this had happened, I was upset because the seeker was a member of my Church and he directly did the opposite of what counsel I gave him. But as I spent time in prayer one of those nights and as I put the matter in the Lord's presence, he spoke to me quite clearly and said, "Let me handle it from here."
When I heard that, I was so relieved, that from then on, I was, and am now, never perturbed when seekers do not follow the counsel that I receive from the Lord and give them. May the Lord have mercy on them is what I pray.
We, as servants of the Most High must faithfully do what we are called to do. If our calling is to tell what the will of the Lord is in the lives of those who ask and seek counsel regarding their life matters, we must do it faithfully. What the seekers do with the counsel that we give should not disturb us unduly. Such matters will be handled by the Lord as per his infinite wisdom and impartial justice.
May the favor of the Lord our God rest upon us; establish the work of our hands for us - yes, establish the work of our hands. (Psalm 90:17)
Psalm 90 is titled as "A prayer of Moses the man of God."
In the verse given above, we see Moses praying to God for God's favor to rest upon him and the Israelites and that he may establish the work of their hands; a prayer that we all should pray regularly.
The Bible says,
Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord. (Genesis 6:8)
God chose Noah in a depraved and wicked generation to fulfil his plans and purposes. Noah walked with God and did as God commanded him. The task was mighty, but because God's favor rested upon him, he could complete the mission God called him to.
We all need God's continued favor upon our lives as did Joseph, the son of Jacob. Though he passed through adverse circumstances, we see God being with him continually and delivering him and blessing him mightily. The following verses attest to that.
The Lord was with Joseph and he prospered, and he lived in the house of his Egyptian master. (Genesis 39:2)
Joseph's master took him and put him in prison, the place where the king's prisoners were confined. But while Joseph was there in the prison, the Lord was with him; he showed him kindness and granted him favor in the eyes of the prison warden. (Genesis 39:20, 21)
The warden paid no attention to anything under Joseph's care, because the Lord was with Joseph and gave him success in whatever he did. (Genesis 39:23)
The story of Joseph did not end with that. God fulfilled everything that he had spoken to him through dreams long ago.
A person on whom the Lord's favor rests is truly blessed. That doesn't mean that, that person will not have problems while living in this world, but it means God's continued presence and deliverance in his/her life. Let's make it a point to pray for God's favor to rest upon us continually. Praise the Lord.
The Lord lives! Praise be to my Rock! Exalted be God, the Rock, my Savior! (2 Samuel 22:47)
How wonderful it is to worship and serve a living God! A privilege that many don't have has been given to you as a child of God.
The Old Testament saint Job was sure about him serving a living God. He said,
I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth. (Job 19:25)
The Psalmist outlined the characteristics of them that are not living gods. He said,
"But their idols are silver and gold, made by the hands of men. They have mouths, but cannot speak, eyes, but they cannot see; they have ears, but cannot hear, noses, but they cannot smell; they have hands, but cannot feel, feet, but they cannot walk; nor can they utter a sound with their throats." (Psalm 115:4-7)
He also spoke about the living God whom he served and said,
"Our God is in heaven; he does whatever pleases him." (Psalm 115:3)
King David experienced the living presence of God in his life and praised God saying,
"Exalted be God, the Rock, my Savior."
The Apostle Peter writes,
"Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy..." (1 Peter 1:8)
It's true that we have not seen our God (well, most of us haven't);yet we believe. How wonderful a faith that is. Praise God. We are also sure that we shall see him some day. How glorious a hope that it. Praise God.
Like David we too must praise the Lord, for he is the Rock, our Savior.
Praise: O Triune God, I praise you because you live and you have given me the privilege to know you and live for you. I exalt you for you are the Rock, my Savior.
Jane was a scholar. She had won many awards. She was brilliant right from childhood. She even excelled in sports. She now worked as a top consultant in an IT firm. The only drawback to such an illustrious life was her being an atheist. She was raised by Bible believing parents, but after their early demise and after joining college, she slipped into questioning the existence of God and relied more on science to be the answer to everything. And then the unexpected happened. She woke up one day with sudden loss of vision. The doctors couldn't pinpoint the cause despite a battery of tests. A week into the malady, she was feeling depressed and words from friends and relatives did not comfort her any more. Her friend Ranie was with her during the day in the hospital, helping her in her tragedy. At nights, she was looked after by the nurses. She preferred to stay in the hospital hoping and believing that the doctors would find a cure.
Six weeks into her blindness, one night as she slept, she saw a dream. She saw thousands of angels coming towards her in brilliant light and in the midst of them was one whose eyes were like blazing fire, and on his head were many crowns. He was dressed in a robe dipped in blood and he stood smiling at her. She wondered who he must be, but felt a great peace when in his presence. He stretched out his right hand and touched her eyes. She wanted to be close to him, but soon he and all the angels disappeared. She woke up the next morning with great peace in her heart and though now without any vision, she was cheerful, when her friends came to see her.
When alone she pondered the dream that she had seen the night before. She usually did not see dreams but this was so graphic. A couple of days later when the hospital chaplain came by to see how she was doing, she told him of her dream. Earlier she had derided the chaplain in her heart when he had prayed for her, but now she felt that he had the answer. "Well, that's Jesus that you saw and angels accompanying him."said the chaplain. "Jesus", why would I see him? I never even think about him, she replied. "But he thinks about you and knows you. In fact, he gave his life for you on the cross, so that you could be set free from your sins if you believed in his work on the cross." The chaplain prayed and left. She was intrigued and for a long time thought about what he had said. Was it true? And why did he touch her eyes in the dream?
She wanted someone to desperately tell her more about Jesus and asked her friend to call for the Chaplain the next day. When the Chaplain arrived, her queries regarding Jesus were myriad and when he left after a long time, answering her to her satisfaction, she decided that it was time to seek Jesus by herself. She didn't know how or where to begin, the words wouldn't come to her mouth and she felt a choking sensation in her throat. She cried and confessed her sins and there were no end to her tears that night. She slept finally with a great burden lifted off her being. The next morning, when she woke up, she could see partly from her left eye. The doctors were amazed for she had not been on any specific treatment. They couldn't explain the sudden change. Her vision cleared day by day and after 2 weeks, she could see everything as before. She had taken a decision to live for Jesus and her joy knew no bounds. Anyone who encountered her thereafter had this to hear...I had a dream....Jesus touched me.
Give thanks to the Lord, call on his name; make known among the nations what he has done. (Psalm 105:1)
The Lord once spoke to me and said, "If you think if you are suffering, take a look at a few others."
My 2 year daughter was sick and he brought to me a mother with her child as a patient, who was far worse in bodily health than mine.
When I felt that my salary was inadequate, he pointed to me, a helper in the place that I worked, who had a very meagre earning and I realized I earned almost 22 times more than him.
I was not happy with my car breaking down now and then and he showed me people who walked to or travelled in packed buses to their workplace.
Sometimes we tend to consider trivial the blessings that the Lord gives us. The tendency is to look at what blessings we don't have rather than be grateful for how much more we have than many.
The Psalmist spoke to himself and said,
Praise the Lord, O my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name. Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits. (Psalm 103:1, 2)
One verse that the Lord has reminded me often in my troubles is from the book of Job. It says,
You will surely forget your trouble, recalling it only as waters gone by. (Job 11:16)
We, as believers, must glorify and thank God for all his mercies, small and great. As the Psalmist says,
I will praise you forever for what you have done; in your name I will hope, for your name is good. I will praise you in the presence of your saints. (Psalm 52:9)
Being a faithful witness of his goodness in our lives is what God expects of us. We too must always say this one thing that the Psalmist said,
Come and listen, all you who fear God; let me tell you what he has done for me. (Psalm 66:16)
I call to the LORD, who is worthy of praise, and I am saved from my enemies. (2 Samuel 22:4)
David sang to the Lord the words of this song when the Lord delivered him from the hand of all his enemies and from the hand of Saul. (2 Samuel 22:1)
God is worthy of praise and the reasons for it are innumerable.
But in this song, David specifically praises God for delivering him from the hands of his enemies, especially from Saul.
Time and again God has delivered you and me from the enemy of our souls-satan.
We can sing along with the psalmist,
He reached down from on high and took hold of me; he drew me out of deep waters. He rescued me from my powerful enemy, from my foes, who were too strong for me. (2 Samuel 22:17, 18)
The Lord not only rescues us from evil satanic forces but he also arms us with strength for battle to rout the enemy. Great is his faithfulness.
David again praises God while he sings this song saying,
The Lord lives! Praise be to my Rock! Exalted be God, the Rock, my Savior! (2 Samuel 22:47)
...You exalted me above my foes; from violent men you rescued me. Therefore I will praise you, O Lord, among the nations; I will sing praises to your name. (2 Samuel 22:49, 50)
Yes, the Lord is worthy of praise and we as believers must give him praise from the depths of our hearts.
Praise: O Triune God, I praise you because you rescue me from evil satanic forces and strengthen me to war against them by your power. Truly, you are worthy of praise.
For you have delivered me from death and my feet from stumbling, that I may walk before God in the light of life. (Psalm 56:13)
Six of us doctors were travelling back to our homes after the evening shift at the clinic on September 19th 2011. It was around 9 pm and we were travelling at a casual speed. It was a clear night and I was sitting in the front with the driver looking at the scenes that passed by. Reaching a round-about, I could see that the road ahead was wet and as soon as the van went over that area, the vehicle started swerving to the left and right alternately like a drunk. It was then we realized that it was oil and not water that must have spilled from tanker or other vehicle. For a moment, we felt that we were all facing a major disaster or death itself, for the van would overturn or be hit by another vehicle. But after a while the vehicle steadied and we continued the rest of the journey without further problems.
I noted several things here. There were no vehicles ahead of us or to the left or right. There were a few vehicles behind us but not very close. In fact one of the drivers later came along at our right side and showed an action to our driver asking whether he was crazy. It was not the driver's fault though.
God ensured safety even though we had to go through a moment of uncertainity. I make it a point to regularly pray morning and evening and always before travelling for God to cover me and my family and whatever vehicle I am travelling in, by the blood of Jesus.
Jesus' blood is our protection. I praise God for that.
The Apostle Paul writes,
He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, (2 Corinthians 1:10)
Amen to that.
When David heard that Nabal was dead, he said, "Praise be to the LORD, who has upheld my cause against Nabal for treating me with contempt. He has kept his servant from doing wrong and has brought Nabal's wrongdoing down on his own head.".... (1 Samuel 25:39)
Isnt' it wonderful that God upholds our cause? God restrained David from doing wrong and he does that in our lives too as believers. The Psalmist says in Psalm 125,
The scepter of the wicked will not remain over the land allotted to the righteous, for then the righteous might use their hands to do evil. (v3)
Often evil forces instigate us to do wrong, but the Holy Spirit is the one who restrains us. When other people wrong us, we may feel like retaliating with words or actions that God would not approve of. In these circumstances, the Counsellor, the Holy Spirit restrains us from doing wrong. He reminds us of what God would want us to say or do in those circumstances. If we do not follow the advice given to us by the Holy Spirit, then we bind God's hands from restraining those who work against us. But if follow the leading of the Holy Spirit and restrain ourselves, then God will deal in his inimitable ways with those who work against us.
David sang many a time regarding God upholding his cause.
My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me. (Psalm 63:8)
I know that the LORD secures justice for the poor and upholds the cause of the needy. (Psalm 140:12)
The LORD upholds all those who fall and lifts up all who are bowed down. (Psalm 145:14)
We must be thankful to God always for he upholds our cause at all times.
Praise: O Triune God, I praise you because you uphold my cause and keep me from doing wrong.
David said to Abigail, "Praise be to the LORD, the God of Israel, who has sent you today to meet me." (1 Samuel 25:32)
David gives praise and credit to God for sending Abigail, Nabal's wife to him; for if she had not come, David would have killed all the males in Nabal's entire family for treating him with disdain. In David's own words.....
May you be blessed for your good judgment and for keeping me from bloodshed this day and from avenging myself with my own hands. Otherwise, as surely as the LORD, the God of Israel, lives, who has kept me from harming you, if you had not come quickly to meet me, not one male belonging to Nabal would have been left alive by daybreak. (1 Samuel 25:33, 34)
When Joseph's brother's decided to kill him, God touched Reuben's heart and he said,
"Let's not take his life," "Don't shed any blood. Throw him into this cistern here in the desert, but don't lay a hand on him."
Later Judah spoke and said,
"What will we gain if we kill our brother and cover up his blood? Come, let's sell him to the Ishmaelites and not lay our hands on him; after all, he is our brother, our own flesh and blood." His brothers agreed.
Thus started Joseph's journey to Egypt under God's watchful eyes.
God arranges many things for us, though we do not often realise it or acknowledge it. He often works quietly and circumstances that we think as coincidences are matters perfectly planned by God for our betterment.
"My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I, too, am working." (John 5:17)
Praise: O Triune God, I praise you because you are always watching over me and working towards the fulfillment of your plans for my life.
He told the crowd to sit down on the ground. When he had taken the seven loaves and given thanks, he broke them and gave them to his disciples to set before the people, and they did so. They had a few small fish as well; he gave thanks for them also and told the disciples to distribute them. (Mark 8:6, 7)
I had a question for Jesus sometime back when my salary was delayed. I had been praying regularly regarding my salary and tithing and giving to the poor and needy. I had not withheld what I was to give others lawfully. Then why was my salary being delayed? Not once but every month for several months. And he answered me through the verses given above.
Giving thanks for what little was available was what Jesus did when he had to provide for more than 4000 people. And he did the same when he had to feed more than 5000.
The latter miracle is mentioned by all 4 gospel writers. Mark writes,
"Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to his disciples to set before the people. He also divided the two fish among them all." (Mark 6:41)
Of course, we may give thanks when we get what we ask for, but God expects a heart full of gratitude when we have little too. The little that Jesus was given in his hands (7 loaves and a few fish) (5 loaves and 2 fish) were multiplied when Jesus gave thanks to the father in heaven. And the best part of the miracles were that.......
Afterward the disciples picked up seven basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. (Mark 8:8)
They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces of bread and fish. (Mark 6:42, 43).......The people ate and were satisfied.
Satisfaction & some left overs......May God be glorified.
The women said to Naomi: "Praise be to the Lord, who this day has not left you without a kinsman-redeemer. May he become famous throughout Israel!" (Ruth 4:14)
Naomi had suffered much. Her husband and 2 sons had died in a foreign land and she had come back to Bethlehem as a woman without much to hope in, except Ruth, one of her daughter-in-law's who chose to stay beside her, come what may.
We read in Ruth Ch.1.
So the two women went on until they came to Bethlehem. When they arrived in Bethlehem, the whole town was stirred because of them, and the women exclaimed, "Can this be Naomi?" "Don't call me Naomi, " she told them. "Call me Mara, because the Almighty has made my life very bitter. (Ruth 1:19, 20)
But then things changed dramatically for Naomi and Ruth. Ruth went to pick up leftover grain from the fields and found herself working in a field belonging to Boaz, a relative of Naomi's husband Elimelech. Boaz was kind to her and told her:
"My daughter, listen to me. Don't go and glean in another field and don't go away from here. Stay here with my servant girls. (Ruth 2:8)
Boaz became Naomi and Ruth's kinsman-redeemer and he married Ruth, who gave birth to a son whom they named Obed. Naomi found comfort and joy in her grief from Ruth, Boaz and Obed.
The women praised God for his goodness to Naomi by granting her a kinsman-redeemer.
Praise: O Triune God, I praise you because you comfort me in my sufferings in ways only you can. I praise you because you grant me joy when I am grieved.
On that day Deborah and Barak son of Abinoam sang this song: "When the princes in Israel take the lead, when the people willingly offer themselves - praise the Lord!" (Judges 5:1, 2)
Willingly offering ourselves......is what God desires from each one of us.
There was a call from Deborah the prophetess and Barak to the tribes of Israel to assemble for war against the Canaanite king and his army.
Some of them were reluctant to go but others offered themselves willingly.
Deborah sang regarding their willingness and reluctance in this manner:
The princes of Issachar were with Deborah; yes, Issachar was with Barak, rushing after him into the valley. In the districts of Reuben there was much searching of heart.
Why did you stay among the campfires to hear the whistling for the flocks? In the districts of Reuben there was much searching of heart. Gilead stayed beyond the Jordan. And Dan, why did he linger by the ships? Asher remained on the coast and stayed in his coves. The people of Zebulun risked their very lives; so did Naphtali on the heights of the field. (Judges 5:15-18)
Deborah again praised the Lord for those who were willing.
My heart is with Israel's princes, with the willing volunteers among the people. Praise the Lord! (Judges 5:9)
Are you offering yourself willingly to do the work that the Lord has called you to? Or are you doing it reluctantly?
Praise God if you are doing it willingly. If not, you need to search your heart as to why you are reluctant after all that he has done for you.
Praise: O Triune God, I praise you for your servants who grant themselves willingly to the work that you have called them to.
They told him, "Joseph is still alive! In fact, he is ruler of all Egypt." Jacob was stunned; he did not believe them. (Genesis 45:26)
The pistol shrimp is an amazing creature. It makes communication sounds by snapping it's claws. But it does something far more profitable using the same claws. It uses the claw as a weapon that can stun smaller shrimps by dealing a deadly blow. It cocks it's claw like a pistol and then fires at it's prey stunning it. As the claw snaps shut, it fires a burst of bubbles. As the bubbles collapse, they temporarily reach a very high temperature and the resultant shockwave stuns the prey and the pistol shrimp has a hearty meal.
Consider these two breaking news that Jacob heard from his sons:
They took the ornamented robe back to their father and said, "We found this. Examine it to see whether it is your son's robe." He recognized it and said, "It is my son's robe! Some ferocious animal has devoured him. Joseph has surely been torn to pieces." (Genesis 37:32,33)
So they went up out of Egypt and came to their father Jacob in the land of Canaan. They told him, "Joseph is still alive! In fact, he is ruler of all Egypt." Jacob was stunned; he did not believe them. (Genesis 45:25,26)
Jacob was stunned; first when his sons lied to him regarding Joseph's death and then when they told him the truth regarding Joseph being alive as ruler in Egypt. Imagine Jacob lamenting for 22 years even though his son Joseph was alive. Some people lie for their own profit or to hide their wrongdoings. We must be careful of them to avoid unwanted misery.
The Holy Spirit will guide us in all things..i.e. if we let him.
I will proclaim the name of the Lord. Oh, praise the greatness of our God! (Deuteronomy 32:3)
Moses was 120 years old. It had been a long journey for him leading the people of God through the wilderness for the last 40 years of his life. Moses proclaimed that God's works are perfect and all his ways are just. He confessed that God is faithful, he does no wrong and that he is upright and just.
Moses reminded the Israelites the goodness of God in the midst of their unfaithfulness.
"For the Lord's portion is his people, Jacob his allotted inheritance. In a desert land he found him, in a barren and howling waste. He shielded him and cared for him; he guarded him as the apple of his eye, like an eagle that stirs up its nest and hovers over its young, that spreads its wings to catch them and carries them on its pinions." (Deuteronomy 32:11)
God sheilded them and cared for them. He guarded them as the apple of his eye. He made his people ride on the heights of the land and fed them with the fruit of the fields. He nourished them with honey from the rock, and with oil from the flinty crag, with curds and milk from herd and flock and with fattened lambs and goats, with choice rams of Bashan and the finest kernels of wheat.
God is your shield if you have trusted in him. He will guard you as the apple of his eye. Praise him for his faithfulness.
Praise: O Triune God, I praise you because your works are perfect, your ways are just, you are faithful and you do no wrong. I praise you because you are upright.
The other Jews joined him in his hypocrisy, so that by their hypocrisy even Barnabas was led astray. (Galatians 2:13)
A learner driver took a wrong turn during her driving lesson in Austria and landed up in a fast flowing river. The 17 year old had just crossed a bridge over the River Enns with her dad in the passenger seat when she suddenly turned straight back to the river bank. Her father's friends rescued the pair after they realised they were trapped in the river and dialled 999.
Sometimes things happen when we least expect it. Often it may be due to some carelessness like it happened in the case of this new learner driver. There are many things that believer's tend to do carelessly and land up in trouble. The Apostle Paul writes about Peter the Apostle who was not careful regarding his being a right example to other believers at a timepoint in his ministry.
"When Peter came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he was clearly in the wrong. Before certain men came from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles. But when they arrived, he began to draw back and separate himself from the Gentiles because he was afraid of those who belonged to the circumcision group. The other Jews joined him in his hypocrisy, so that by their hypocrisy even Barnabas was led astray. When I saw that they were not acting in line with the truth of the gospel, I said to Peter in front of them all, "You are a Jew, yet you live like a Gentile and not like a Jew. How is it, then, that you force Gentiles to follow Jewish customs? "We who are Jews by birth and not 'Gentile sinners' know that a man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by observing the law, because by observing the law no one will be justified." (Galatians 2:11-16)
If we are careful, we can avoid unwanted troubles that not only makes us miserable but also brings misery to others.
He is your praise; he is your God, who performed for you those great and awesome wonders you saw with your own eyes. (Deuteronomy 10:21)
The book of Deuteronomy, known as Devarim in Hebrew, is a review of the laws in the previous 3 books of the Bible, namely Exodus, Leviticus and Numbers. Traditionally, it's contents were spoken by Moses during the last 37 days of his life, after which he died in the 40th year following the exodus from Egypt.
The last 40 years of Moses' life was so very different from the first and second 40 years. The first 40 years he spent in Pharaoh's palace, the second 40 years in Midian where he married and had two children and the last 40 years in the wilderness, travelling to and leading the Israelites to the promised land. But the experiences of the first 80 years of his life was nothing compared to the awesome experiences in the last 40 years. Moses had close fellowship with God as a man has with his friend.
The Israelites on the other hand were out of slavery and bondage and experienced the mighty acts of God on their behalf. Moses recounted the great works of God and told them that "God is their praise."
It's always good to reminisce God's wonders on our behalf and praise him for it.
Is God your praise too? Or have you given that place to someone else? Perhaps a friend or a member of your family or a relative? Remember, no one can love you more than God does, so make him your praise, if you haven't already done so.
Praise: O Triune God, I praise you because you are my praise. I praise you for your great and awesome wonders on my behalf.
Before very long, a wind of hurricane force, called the "northeaster," swept down from the island. (Acts 27:14)
'Dawazi' or high-wire walking is a traditional stunt with a long history in Xinjiang, China. A Chinese high-wire artist lost his footing as he attempted to walk across a tightrope 100m above the ground with no safety net in August 2011. Strong winds left him desperately clinging on to the 15m long steel wire in front of stunned onlookers in China's Hunan Province. The wire was attached to two hot air balloons which were affected by the winds. After successfully walking across the wire at 30m in just five minutes, he took on the 100m challenge. He failed.
The man failed in his attempt because of strong winds. He must have been disappointed but surely he would try again. Luke, the physician and Paul, the apostle were on a ship, travelling to Rome but as Luke writes in the book of Acts, the winds were against them and they landed in trouble. Deep trouble, in fact. The "northeaster" or "Euroclydon" hit them hard.
We took such a violent battering from the storm that the next day they began to throw the cargo overboard. On the third day, they threw the ship's tackle overboard with their own hands. When neither sun nor stars appeared for many days and the storm continued raging, we finally gave up all hope of being saved. (Acts 27:18-20)
They gave up all hope of being saved. They were at their wits end. But God was in their midst during the crisis and saved them in his mercy. None of the people on the ship lost their lives though the ship was destroyed. Paul and Luke were saved miraculously by God.
God is merciful. He saves us just in the nick of time from so many perils. We can sing along with the Psalmist regarding God's mercies in our lives too.
I will sing of the mercies of the LORD for ever: with my mouth will I make known thy faithfulness to all generations. (Psalm 89:1)
Do not neglect your gift, which was given you through a prophetic message when the body of elders laid their hands on you. (1 Timothy 4:14)
Kann Trichan of Chiang Mai, Thailand, has the nickname "Superhands" for his amazing ability to scoop up pieces of chicken from burning-hot oil with his bare hands. He holds the Guinness Record for picking 20 pieces of chicken from oil heated to 480 degrees Celcius, in just one minute. He says he can feel the oil is hot when he dips his hands in it, but it simply leaves no damage. His amazing ability has won him international fame. People from all over the world come to his “Fried Chicken Iron Hands Man” food stall to see Kann use his hands to scoop out the chicken and he and his wife travel all around the world showing off his gift. "Superhands" has no idea why he can do what he does, but he’s just happy it brings a lot more customers for his business.
None of us, I guess can equal or even come anywhere near this man in his unique ability; but there's one thing noticable. He's putting his gift to good use even if it is for his own good.
Christian believers too have God given gifts, but many neglect these gifts. Gifts which can be vital in strengthening other believers spiritually. Paul, the Apostle, is advising Timothy (title verse) not to neglect the gift that was bestowed upon him. Infact, he advices him to fan into flame, the gift that he has been given by God.
I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. (2 Timothy 1:6)
The Bible speaks in detail of the gifts given to New Testament believers in the 1st book of Corinthians, Chapter 12:4-11. We read of a few more gifts in Romans Chapter 12:6-8.
Using these God given gifts will definitely be a blessing to believers and unbelievers alike, so if you have been given any such gift, fan it into flame. If you feel that you have no such gift (which is unlikely), here is a piece of advice from the Apostle Paul:
Follow the way of love and eagerly desire spiritual gifts, especially the gift of prophecy. (1 Corinthians 14:1)
Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives' tales; rather, train yourself to be godly. (1 Timothy 4:7)
In 1955 in a small village in Morocco, 26 year old Zahra Aboutalib was looking forward to giving birth to her first child, but after 48 hours of painful labour, she was rushed to the local hospital where doctors informed her that she would need a caesarean section. She fled the hospital after she saw another woman die in labour. In the ensuing days Zahra continued to suffer severe labour pains but the baby remained in her womb. After a few more days the pains ceased and the baby stopped moving. In Moroccan culture, it is believed that a baby can sleep inside the mother to protect her honour. Zahra believed this myth and put the pregnancy out of her mind. She adopted three children. When Zahra was 75 years old, the pains suddenly returned. Her son took her to a specialist, Professor Taibi Ouazzani who suspected the distended belly was being caused by an ovarian tumour and did an ultra-sound scan which revealed a large mass that he could not identify. He referred Zahra to a specialist radiographer who took a detailed MRI scan to reveal that it was the baby Zahra had conceived 46 years earlier.
The woman in question believed in a myth and it came back to trouble her 46 years later. There are many myths propogated regarding the Christian faith too that people believe in and are led astray. Christians should check what the Word of God says regarding what they are taught and what they hear. The Apostle Paul adviced young Timothy to refrain from going after myths, as we read in the title verse.
Luke, the physician, writes about a good quality of the Bereans.
Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true. (Acts 17:11)
Christians should examine the things that they receive as teachings to see whether what they are being taught are true and according to the Word of God.
Test everything. Hold on to the good. (1 Thessalonians 5:21)
When you have eaten and are satisfied, praise the Lord your God for the good land he has given you. (Deuteronomy 8:10)
This was an exhortation from God through Moses to the Israelites before they entered the promised land of Canaan. The Israelites had craved for food in the wilderness. They had murmured against God and Moses. God had given them manna and quails for food.
He had provided them with water miraculously time and again. Some of the Israelites did not follow the commands regarding the manna. They were obstinate and doubted the faithfulness of God. Yet he was merciful to them that he did not destroy them all, though some had to pay dearly for their trespasses.
Must we praise God for the food and water that he gives us? You bet, we must. There are millions who starve everyday because of poverty or famine or natural disasters, so when we eat food or drink water we must be thankful to our Provider and praise him for it.
There are many who suffer from many sicknesses and can't find satisfaction after they eat food. If you are able to eat food and find satisfaction from it, you must praise the Lord.
Praise: O Triune God, I praise you for the food and water that you give. I praise you for giving me satisfaction when I eat. I praise you for the promise of eternal life.
But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil. (Hebrews 5:14)
Getting stuck at the top of a rollercoaster is one of the worst nightmares that rollercoaster enthusiasts might have. It happened for nine people at a Strathclyde theme park in Scotland on July 3rd 2011. Their afternoon ride turned into a long evening with nowhere to go as the Tsunami ride in the park suffered a mechanical failure. Their car stopped 60ft or around 18 metres up. Atleast they were not upside down when it happened otherwise it would have been tragic instead of traumatic. A difficult rope rescue by police and rescue teams, which saw the riders aged from nine to 49 saved one by one, was eventually completed at 12.45am in the morning.
Some believers also get stuck regarding their spiritual lives. The reasons may be diverse but the outcome similar. A stagnation. The writer of Hebrews mentions this regarding believers who do not mature spiritually.
In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God's word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil. (Hebrews 5:12-14)
Are you stuck in your spiritual life? Stagnating?
Here's a piece of advice from the writer of Hebrews,
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:1, 2)
In the fourth year all its fruit will be holy, an offering of praise to the LORD. (Leviticus 19:24)
God gave the Israelites a specific rule regarding fruit trees that the Israelites would plant in the promised land of Canaan. He said,
When you enter the land and plant any kind of fruit tree, regard its fruit as forbidden. For three years you are to consider it forbidden ; it must not be eaten. In the fourth year all its fruit will be holy, an offering of praise to the Lord. But in the fifth year you may eat its fruit. In this way your harvest will be increased. I am the Lord your God. (Leviticus 19:23-25)
Notice that God spoke in specifics. The first three years they were not to eat the fruit. The fruit of the fourth year would be holy and was to be an offering of praise to the Lord. And they were given permission to eat the fruit from the fifth year onwards.
Why all this trouble? Only for God to bless and increase their harvest. An offering of praise was what God desired.
The writer of the book of Hebrews exhorts us in this manner:Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise - the fruit of lips that confess his name. (Hebrews 13:15)
A continual offer of praise? Is that possible? Definitely!
Why not try it if you have still not tried it?
Praise: O Triune God, I praise you because I have access to you at all times. I praise you because you accept my praises.
He said, "Praise be to the Lord, who rescued you from the hand of the Egyptians and of Pharaoh, and who rescued the people from the hand of the Egyptians. (Exodus 18:10)
Moses told his father-in-law Jethro about everything the Lord had done to Pharaoh and the Egyptians for Israel's sake and about all the hardships they had met along the way and how the Lord had saved them. Jethro was delighted to hear about all the good things the Lord had done for Israel in rescuing them from the hand of the Egyptians.
Jethro praised God because God had rescued Moses and the Israelites from Pharoah and the Egyptians. He brought a burnt offering and other sacrifices to God. He acknowledged that omnipotence of God and said,
"Now I know that the Lord is greater than all other gods, for he did this to those who had treated Israel arrogantly." (Exodus 18:11)
We read in the book of Revelation of a proclamation by God. He says,
"I am the Alpha and the Omega," says the Lord God, "who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty." (Revelation 1:8)
The four living creatures around the throne of God in heaven praise and glorify God day and night. They never stop saying: "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come." (Revelation 4:8)
Do you acknowledge that your God is Almighty and that he has no equal?
Praise: O Triune God, I praise you because you are Almighty and you rescue me from the power of evil.
No doubt there have to be differences among you to show which of you have God's approval. (1 Corinthians 11:19)
Wintertime mood disorder or Seasonal Affective Disorder as it is called, affects people in some countries. Those affected sleep more, gain weight and crave high carbohydrate foods, and tend to slow down and socially hibernate from late fall to early spring. But some get Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) in the summer. As hot weather approaches, those with summer SAD sleep less, eat less, and lose weight. They're extremely irritable and get angry.
People differ so much and in so many ways. Even believers in Jesus Christ are so different in their outlook towards life in general and even in their spiritual life. The Apostle Paul writing to the Church in Corinth mentions this specifically as we read in the title verse.
Believers there, were in a contest as of who would have the approval of God. So eventually there were divisions. He adviced them to be of one mind. So also while writing to the church in Philippi, he says,
If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. (Philippians 2:1-3)
We must remember as believers in Jesus Christ that there will be differences in the ways that we worship and serve him. But we should not look down on those who do not match up to our spiritual standards or are different in their approach towards their spiritual lives. Even if we think that anyone needs correction, let it all be done in love.
The Lord is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation. He is my God, and I will praise him, my father's God, and I will exalt him. (Exodus 15:2)
There was singing and dancing in the Israelite camp. God had destroyed Pharaoh and his army. God had split the Red Sea for his people so that they could walk across. Moses praised God for the great miracles he had done for his people. The song came naturally to him and the Israelites because they had experienced the mighty deeds of the Lord first-hand .
Moses proclaimed, "Who among the gods is like you, O LORD? Who is like you - majestic in holiness, awesome in glory, working wonders? (Exodus 15:11)
Moses declared, "In your unfailing love you will lead the people you have redeemed. In your strength you will guide them to your holy dwelling. (Exodus 15:13)
Mighty are the deeds of God in our lives too. He deserves our praise day in and day out. He destroys the evil forces which try to create havoc in our lives. He opens up unknown ways for our deliverance. He puts a song in our mouth. He is glorious.
Praise: O Triune God, I praise you because you defeat the evil forces that rise up against me time and again. I praise you because you open up ways unknown to me for my deliverance.
She conceived again, and when she gave birth to a son she said, "This time I will praise the LORD." So she named him Judah. Then she stopped having children. (Genesis 29:35)
Jacob had 2 wives, Leah and Rachel. He loved Rachel more than Leah. When the Lord saw that Leah was not loved, he opened her womb, but Rachel was barren. Leah became pregnant and gave birth to a son. She named him Reuben, for she said, "It is because the Lord has seen my misery. Surely my husband will love me now." She conceived again, and when she gave birth to a son she said, "Because the Lord heard that I am not loved, he gave me this one too." So she named him Simeon. Again she conceived, and when she gave birth to a son she said, "Now at last my husband will become attached to me, because I have borne him three sons." So he was named Levi.
Leah had great expectations from Jacob that he would love her because she had borne him not one, but three sons. Sadly, that was not the case.
She conceived again, and when she gave birth to a son she said, "This time I will praise the Lord." So she named him Judah........(Genesis 29:35)
Leah finally realized there was one who would love her at all times and that she should lean on him continually to have true happiness. When she gave birth to her fourth son, she took a decision to praise the Lord instead of desiring her husband's affection. She named her son Judah which means Praise.
God cares for us even though sometimes people around us may not care. We must praise him for that.
Praise: O Triune God, I praise you because you love me and care for me at all times.
Then the man bowed down and worshiped the LORD, saying, "Praise be to the Lord, the God of my master Abraham, who has not abandoned his kindness and faithfulness to my master. As for me, the Lord has led me on the journey to the house of my master's relatives." (Genesis 24:26, 27)
Abraham's chief servant had been commissioned by his master to go to his country and to his own relatives to get a wife for his son Isaac. The journey ended with the servant landing up in the house of his master's relatives. His prayer for God to grant a suitable wife for Isaac materialized sooner than he thought. And that's why he bowed down and worshiped the Lord and gave him praise. He praised God for not abandoning his kindness and faithfulness to his master and for bringing him to the right place.
Our God is a prayer answering God and like Abraham's chief servant, we must also praise the Lord for making our journeys successful. We must praise him for not abandoning his kindness and faithfulness to us.
Praise: O Triune God, I praise you for making my journeys successful and for not abandoning your kindness and faithfulness to me.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6,7)
"Rehearse" death with a mock funeral, is being practiced in a Thai temple to end a run of bad luck and bring good luck. There are many who go to this temple to start life afresh. The Pram Manee temple, 107 km northeast of Bangkok, holds two rituals every day: at 9:09 a.m. and 1:09 p.m.; the number nine is believed by Thais to bring good luck. Those who take part, stand in front of their designated coffins, holding flowers and praying for bad luck to go away, then they pray to receive good luck. While the participants lie in their coffins, monks chant prayers. After this, they get up from their coffins to be blessed with holy water by a monk. $6 is paid for the flowers, a white sheet and a "merit set" (contains food, toothpaste, toothbrushes and other necessities) which is to be offered to monks for prayers and the promise of a better life.
The ritual that we read of above is just one of the innumerable ways that people try to get a better life. When in a whirlpool of disasters, people try frantically to solve their problems by turning to every other method available. The question is, "As a Christian, what would your plan of action be if in a whirlpool of disastrous situations?". Anxieties run rampant in such circumstances, but the Bible advices....Do not be anxious about anything......Then what??? In everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
But will it work? Could it be so simple? is a question that many believer's ask themselves. The answer is....Yes, a miracle can happen immediately or sometimes the deliverance may take some time, but it will work. But one wonderful result of presenting our requests to God with prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, is that the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard our hearts and our minds in Christ Jesus.
Instead of panicking and resorting to unbiblical means to get deliverance, it is best for believer's to wait upon the Lord, with prayer, petition and thanksgiving and he will work wonders at the right time.
When Judas, who had betrayed him, saw that Jesus was condemned, he was seized with remorse and returned the thirty silver coins to the chief priests and the elders. (Matthew 27:3)
A thief who stole a woman's wallet in a New Hampshire supermarket showed up at her door 8 days later to return $90 and a GPS, and brought an apology letter too. The woman said she was surprised to see a stranger at the door and found it even more strange when the man said he was sorry, returned her belongings, gave her the long letter and ran away. Perhaps he found something in her wallet that made him remorseful and prompted him to give back her belongings. But would he be justified if he stole again?
Judas was seized with remorse when he saw that Jesus was condemned, but instead of going to Jesus and asking for forgiveness, he chose to go to the chief priests and the elders and returned the thirty silver coins for which he had betrayed Jesus.
"I have sinned," he said, "for I have betrayed innocent blood." "What is that to us?" they replied. "That's your responsibility." (Matthew 27:4)
Deep regret or guilt for a wrong committed is good, but it must lead to seeking forgiveness and repentance which truly means turning away from the wrong done. Then and only then does remorse matter.
Judas could have approached the one who really could do away with his guilt i.e.Jesus, but instead he carried his guilt and seeing that he was no longer in favor with the chief priests, went away and hanged himself. (Matthew 27:5)
It's never too late to go to the Savior and ask for forgiveness for one's sins. The sooner, the better.
See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ. (Colossians 2:8)
Oleander, an attractive flowering shrub, is one of the most poisonous of all commonly grown garden plants. It grows in many countries, and with beautiful, fragrant blossoms, it is tempting to include it in any garden. But touching it or tasting the leaves or stems can pose serious health problems. Handling leaves itself can cause symptoms. Upon consumption, the poison causes vomiting, diarrhea, excess salivation, and cramping. It can also cause a rapid, irregular heart rate, poor circulation, tremors, seizures, coma, and death.
Oleander is attractive because of its beautiful fragrant flowers but it is deceptively dangerous. Anyone without the knowledge of the truth regarding it can be cheated and many are. And so are many Christians deceived by hollow and deceptive philosophy which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world. They are fed what is attractive but way away from the truth. They are not told the true gospel and fall prey to lies which seem attractive but are deceptively fatal leading to eternal punishment.
Writing to the churches in Galatia, The Apostle Paul writes,
I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel; which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned! (Galatians 1:6-8)
The message to us is clear: Beware of them who pervert the gospel of Christ.
Avoid godless chatter, because those who indulge in it will become more and more ungodly. (2 Timothy 2:16)
A 39-year old woman, talked for more than half a day while on an Amtrak train going from Oakland to Salem. The loud mobile conversation lasted sixteen hours after which police stopped the train to arrest the woman. In the train compartment, a few passengers asked the woman to end the call but she kept on talking. Staff members were unable to convince the woman to end the conversation; finally they stopped the train and police arrested the woman.
What could a person possibly talk for 16 hours? For most of us, even speaking for an hour would be an ordeal. Godless chatter is forbidden by the Bible. Some believers have the habit of talking without restraint. This the Bible says, will lead to more ungodliness.
The Apostle Paul advices Timothy,
Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to your care. Turn away from godless chatter and the opposing ideas of what is falsely called knowledge, which some have professed and in so doing have wandered from the faith......(1 Timothy 6:20, 21)
Believers should exercise self control while talking among themselves and with unbelievers. Better to be hearers than talkers and while speaking adhering to the Apostle Paul's advice to the Colossian believers:
Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone. (Colossians 4:6)
Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers. (1 Peter 3:7)
A Finnish pair won the country's annual wife-carrying competition for the third year in a row in June 2011. Taisto Miettinen and Kristiina Haapanen defended their title in front of 6,500 spectators who turned out to watch the event in Sonkajarvi. The 46-year-old lawyer, his partner's legs wrapped around his head, sprinted 253 metres, leaping hurdles and negotiating a water pool along the way, all in a time of one minute.
Even if this pair did it for the sake of competing, it has some significance when we see that they did it in public for 3 years in a row.
Being considerate and treating wives with respect and as co-heir of the gracious gift of life is not commonly seen. But the Word of God advices husbands to be like that. Even followers of Christ fall short in this matter unless they are committed to obeying God and his Word.
The commands given to husbands and wives in the New Testament of the Bible are not optional. Only obeying them would bring lasting peace in a person's married life. Often husbands and wives complain about their partners not being conformed to the Word, when in fact, what they should be doing is checking whether they are doing their part to perfection.
Lasting peace, satisfaction and joy can be achieved by husbands and wives in their married lives by knowing God's requirements of themselves, as is put forth in the Word of God and striving to achieve that by the help of the Holy Spirit of God.
He answered, "I am a Hebrew and I worship the LORD, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the land." (Jonah 1:9)
A pony who escaped from a circus in Germany tried to board a tram in its getaway attempt, only to be prevented by the driver and other passengers. The stallion was waiting patiently with people at a tram stop in central Germany, and wasn't shy about trying to board when the doors opened. Other passengers and the tram driver were not in favor and held the animal back. It was later known that the pony had just escaped from a circus that was in town. Circus employees finally put an end to the pony's adventure by taking it back.
Jonah the prophet, was told by God to go to the city of Nineveh and tell them of God's impending judgement upon the city's inhabitants. Instead he ran away and headed for Tarshish in a ship. He lay fast asleep below the deck though a storm had hit the ship.
The captain went to him and said, "How can you sleep? Get up and call on your god! Maybe he will take notice of us, and we will not perish." Then the sailors said to each other, "Come, let us cast lots to find out who is responsible for this calamity." They cast lots and the lot fell on Jonah. So they asked him, "Tell us, who is responsible for making all this trouble for us? What do you do? Where do you come from? What is your country? From what people are you?" (Jonah 1:6-8)
And that is when Jonah gave the answer that we read in the title verse. True he was a worshipper of God Almighty, but he had defied the orders of the Lord. Thus the storm. Jonah advised the sailors to throw him in the sea so that the storm would subside. They threw Jonah into the sea and he was swallowed by a fish in whose belly he was for three days and three nights. There he repented and the fish vomited him onto dry land. He submitted to God's command to go to Nineveh and told the inhabitants of God's judgement coming upon them. They repented and God withheld his judgement upon them.
The Bible advices us,
Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. (Proverbs 3:5, 6)
Have you been going astray lately? Better to obey the voice of the Lord and have peace rather than disobey and land in troubled waters.
Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. (Ephesians 6:11)
A German chemicals company reported that its managers have begun keeping their mobile phones in biscuit tins during meetings in order to guard against industrial spying.
"Experts have told us that mobile phones are being eavesdropped on more and more, even when they are switched off," said an official. Biscuit tins have a so-called Farraday cage effect, she said, blocking out electromagnetic radiation and therefore preventing people from hacking into mobile phones, not only for calls but also to get hold of emails.
The managers here were not going to be outwitted by rivals. They found a way to secure their cellphones from scheming spies. We should secure our spiritual lives too by putting on the full armor of God, as the Apostle Paul says in the above verse. He tells us of how to dress up for warfare against the evil one.
"Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests....." (Ephesians 6:14-17)
Looks tough wearing all that and at all times, but it's possible if we take the help of the Holy Spirit, the Counselor. You have been wearing the full armor, haven't you? It's not optional. It's imperative if you have to overcome the wiles of the evil one and be acknowledged as overcomers by Jesus.
Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. (Colossians 3:13)
The migration of diamondback terrapin turtles happens every year at New York's Kennedy airport, which is built on the edge of Jamaica Bay and a federally protected park. In late June or early July the animals heave themselves out of the bay and head toward a beach to lay their eggs. About 150 turtles crawled onto the tarmac at New York's Kennedy airport on a Wednesday in June 2011 in search of beaches to lay their eggs, delaying dozens of flights. Within three hours starting 6.45 am, there were so many turtles on Runway 4L and nearby taxiways that controllers were forced to move departing flights to another runway. Flight delays averaged about 30 minutes. Workers from the Port Authority scooped up the turtles and moved them across the airport.
Sometimes people, even believers, may seem like an unwanted intrusion in our lives. But it maybe because they are not as strong as we are spiritually or may be they are in need of help because of their weaknesses. Like the turtles that we read of, they may not realize that they are causing trouble to others. They would be going about their businesses, yet causing discomfort to others. The Apostle Paul exhorts believers in this manner,
"Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ." (Galatians 6:2)
Writing to the believers in Rome, Paul reminds them,
"We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves." (Romans 15:1)
We can pray to the Lord that he grants us more grace that we maybe able to fulfil these teachings, which if we do fulfil, would be pleasing to the Lord.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. (Psalm 139:14)
21-year old Taisia Sidorova, from Saint Petersburg, Russia, was involved in a terrible car accident that crushed her skull and bone fragments were wedged in her brain. Doctors were not sure whether she would survive, but even after she had the left hemisphere of her brain removed, she did not die. The family never gave up on her. The girl’s mother stayed by her bedside praying, massaging her limbs and talking to her. On New Year’s Eve, while she was crying on Taisia’s bedside, the girl moved her arm trying to wipe away her mother’s tears. It was a miracle and in two years’ time she regained her strength, started to speak and even learned to hold a pencil and paintbrush. Although she had shown no interest in drawing and painting, before the accident, Taisia began sketching to pass the time, and when her family saw some of her sketches, they decided to buy her some paints. Her art teacher remembers Taisia showed no artistic talent before her ordeal, but says she now has a natural talent for art and is at the top of her class. Doctors who treated her opine that her brain seems to have compensated for the missing section, and has activated a previously undiscovered talent for art.
The human body is a marvellous creation of God. Scientists are still discovering many new things regarding the human body. It's amazing that so many organs function in so many varied ways. As long as every organ functions smoothly, we hardly realize the significance of it. But when any one organ ceases to function or is decreased in its capability, how much it affects our lives. Another thing notable in the above story is that the mother never gave up. She did what she had to and they experienced a miracle. She hoped against hope and things happened for the good.
Some of the gifts that God has bestowed upon an individual lie latent and need to be discovered. Even natural inborn talents often go unnoticed and unless they are nurtured when noticed, they may not bloom to perfection.
The Psalmist praised God because he realized that God's creation of him was a wonderful piece of work. He sang,
For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. (Psalm 139:13-16)
Best if we all lived with the kind of acknowledgement of the Creator as the Psalmist did.
As dead flies give perfume a bad smell, so a little folly outweighs wisdom and honor. (Ecclesiastes 10:1)
In a car lot on the outskirts of Kabul, three saloon cars and a truck lay abandoned due a numerical curse that has swept Afghanistan. A strange phenomenon that equates the number "39" with prostitution has become a nightmare for the car industry, as buyers avoid car licence plates having the dreaded number for fear of being ostracised. The car yard's owner complained that it was no longer just a social issue; it was an economic issue. "It has been months and no-one is buying them," he said, pointing at the white, black and blue sedans. "39" got its bad reputation through an erstwhile pimp who was often identified by the number on his car plates as he drove around Herat, the western city. The man's shady image and illicit business meant that the number became associated with immorality. The tale spread to other Afghan cities and the curse was born. Now anyone seen travelling around in a vehicle with a "39" licence plate is in danger of being linked to the illicit sex industry.
The danger of a believer being involved in sexual immorality is that it will have lasting disastrous consequences. It would be like a curse, with unbelievers and other believer's always looking at that person with judgemental eyes and with suspicion even though the person repents.
The Bible speaks strongly against this sin and advices extreme restraint.
Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body. (1 Corinthians 6:18)
Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. (Colossians 3:5)
It is God's will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality. (1 Thessalonians 4:3)
Always best to heed what the Bible advises and advocate restraint, rather than be a fool.
Be very careful, then, how you live - not as unwise but as wise.. (Ephesians 5:15)
A Massachusetts man facing a criminal complaint for failing to appear for jury duty apparently had a good excuse. He had been dead for five years. The late Georgetown resident was issued a notice to serve on jury duty five years ago in 2006 but at the time he was in hospice care and had cancer. He died a few months later but the commission continued to send letters about his failure to report. Wylie's family says they tried to tell authorities that he had died but officials say the family never sent a death certificate.
Difficult to know who was at fault there, but the blame game is common. Even in the lives of believers, this is not uncommon. Believers pitted against believers and ministers against ministers. Of course, everyone has their side of the story and it may be very convincing. But is that part of the real christian life that Jesus taught?
The Apostle Paul wrote to the believers in Philippi,
If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. (Philippians 2:2)
Likemindedness and being one in spirit was what Paul taught. He also wrote,
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. (Philippians 2:3, 4)
Considering others better than ourselves, however spiritual we be, can bring greater unity among the body of believers. Shall we strive for that then?
Be careful, however, that the exercise of your freedom does not become a stumbling block to the weak. (1 Corinthians 8:9)
A 80 year old South African man awoke to find himself in a morgue fridge 21 hours after his family thought he had died. This was after his family called in an undertaker who took him to the morgue after an asthma attack. The morgue owner said he sent his driver to collect the body after the family reported the death. "When he got there, the driver examined the body, checked his pulse, looked for a heartbeat, but there was nothing," the morgue owner told the press.
But a day after staff put the body into a locked fridge, morgue workers heard someone shouting for help. They thought it was a ghost. The morgue owner called the police.
When the police arrived, the group entered the morgue together. He said the man was pale when they pulled him out. "He asked, 'How did I get here?'" The man was then taken to a nearby hospital for observation and later discharged by doctors when they felt that he was stable. The man's family was informed that he was alive as they were making funeral arrangements. Funny as this may seem, here the family were careless not to call a doctor who was qualified to ascertain whether the man had really died.
The Apostle Paul urges the believers in Corinth to be careful in how they exercise their freedom so that they do not become a stumbling block to the weak. He was specifically dealing here about eating food sacrificed to idols. He said,
"For if anyone with a weak conscience sees you who have this knowledge eating in an idol's temple, won't he be emboldened to eat what has been sacrificed to idols? So this weak brother, for whom Christ died, is destroyed by your knowledge. When you sin against your brothers in this way and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ. (1 Corinthians 8:10-12)
Believers who are new to the Christian faith closely watch the ones who have been believers for a long time and emulate them in several areas of their spiritual life. It thus becomes imperative that the latter do not become a stumbling block to the proper growth of the new ones, but guide them in the right path, not serving themselves but serving Christ wholeheartedly.