December 11, 2011

posted 9 Dec 2011, 08:01 by C S Paul

December 11, 2011

SERMON OF THE WEEK 
                                   (Prepared by: Rev. Dr. V KurianThomas Valiyaparambil)
Provided by Mr. K. Kuriakose

This Sunday we commemorate the revelation to Joseph of the birth of Jesus. The truth is revealed to Joseph concerning his beloved Mary. Gospel reading is from Mathew 1:18-25.

Gospel Reading:


18
 This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. 

19Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly. 

20 But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 

21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus,because he will save his people from their sins. 

22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: 

23The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel(which means God with us). 

24 When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. 

25 But he did not consummate their marriage until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus."
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Message:                                     

St. Joseph was by birth of the royal family of King David, but was living in humble obscurity as a carpenter. God raised him to the highest sanctity to become the spouse of St. Mary and foster father of Jesus. The Bible says Joseph was a just man, he was innocent and pure. He was faithful and obedient of divine calls. When he learrned that Mary bore  within her womb Jesus, he feared to take her as his wife, but an angel helped him remove his fear.

Joseph probably thought earlier that his life was pretty simple. His marriage and vocation were all arranged neatly for him, but then his world came crumbing down on him. He discovered that his bride to be was pregnant. Joseph was a man of great integrity. He wanted to do the right thing. He considered divorcing Mary when he learned of her pregnancy but wanted to do so without calling attention to the reason for his decision. He could have had her publicly disgraced or even stoned her to death for adultery. Instead, without questioning her pregnancy, he married her.

Although Joseph came from the royal lineage, he has lived a pious life. He was a quiet man willing to endure hardships and disappointment.

We learn 6 things from Josephs life:

1.The Righteous Man: Joseph was a righteous man committed to do Gods commandments. He had no fear or shame for his commitment to God. Joseph is an example to every man: Do not be afraid to be a man of prayer in union with God. He had surrendered completely to Gods will, avoiding evil and doing the good things in life.

2.Man of Pure Love: Joseph had a pure and honest love toward Mary. He respected her devotion to him.

3.No Exposure to the Public: Joseph did not want to expose Mary to public disgrace. It was very easy for Joseph to bring her to public condemnation when he had found out she was pregnant.

4.The Openness and Listening to Gods explanation of what was going on: He listened to what the angel had told him in the dream. With his openness, Joseph understood the Mystery of the Virgin and his vocation.

5.Not Suspicious. When Joseph woke up from sleep, he did as the angel and the Lord had commanded him. Love believes everything.

6.Welcoming Mary and Jesus. The angel said to Joseph, "Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary to your house." Joseph welcomed Mary and Jesus to his house. Thats what we can learn from Joseph, to take Mary and Jesus to our hearts, family and life.

 

Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ 

Author: Lew Wallace

PART ONE

Biblical references: Matt. 2:1-12, Luke 2:1-20

Three Magi have come from the East. One, Balthasar, sets up a tent in the desert. Melchior, a Hindu, and Gaspar from Athens join him and as the three men each tell their stories and they realize they have been brought together by their common goal. As they prepare for the journey to come, they see a bright star shining over the region, and they take it as a sign that they are to leave. They follow the star through the desert towards the province of Judaea.

At the Joppa Gate in Jerusalem Mary and Joseph are traveling through on their way from Nazareth to Bethlehem. They stop at the inn at the entrance to the city but there is no room. Mary is pregnant and, as labor begins, they head to a cave on a hillside behind the inn and here Jesus is born.

In the pasturelands outside the city, a group of seven shepherds are keeping watch over their flocks. Angels from heaven announce the Christ's birth. The shepherds hurry towards the city. They are rebuked by one of the men supervising the khan but nevertheless, inspired by the angels' message, they enter the caves on the hillside and worship Christ.

They spread the news of the Christ's birth and many come to see him. The Magi arrive in Jerusalem and inquire for news of the Christ. Herod the Great is angry to hear of another king challenging his rule and asks the Sanhedrin to find information for him. The Sanhedrin brings out a prophecy, written by Micah, telling of a ruler to come from Bethlehem Ephrathah, interpreting it to signify the Christ's birthplace.     

BOOK FIRST - CHAPTER XIII

That evening, before sunset, some women were washing clothes on the upper step of the flight that led down into the  basin of the Pool of Siloam. They knelt each before a broad bowl of earthenware.

A girl at the foot of the steps kept them supplied with water, and sang while she filled the jar. The song was cheerful, and no doubt lightened their labor. Occasionally they would sit upon their heels, and look up the slope of Ophel, and  round to the summit of what is now the Mount of Offence, then faintly glorified by the dying sun.

While they plied their hands, rubbing and wringing the clothes in the bowls, two other women came to them, each with an empty jar upon her shoulder.

"Peace to you," one of the new-comers said.

The laborers paused, sat up, wrung the water from their hands, and returned the salutation.

"It is nearly night--time to quit."

"There is no end to work," was the reply.

"But there is a time to rest, and--"

"To hear what may be passing," interposed another.

"What news have you?"

"Then you have not heard?"

"No."

"They say the Christ is born," said the newsmonger, plunging into her story.

It was curious to see the faces of the laborers brighten with interest; on the other side down came the jars, which, in a moment, were turned into seats for their owners.

"The Christ!" the listeners cried.

"So they say."

"Who?"

"Everybody; it is common talk."

 "Does anybody believe it?"

"This afternoon three men came across Brook Cedron on the road from Shechem," the speaker replied, circumstantially, intending to smother doubt. "Each one of them rode a camel spotless white, and larger than any ever before seen in Jerusalem."

The eyes and mouths of the auditors opened wide.

"To prove how great and rich the men were," the narrator continued, "they sat under awnings of silk; the buckles of their saddles were of gold, as was the fringe of their bridles; the bells were of silver, and made real music. Nobody knew them; they looked as if they had come from the ends of the world. Only one of them spoke, and of everybody on the road, even the women and children, he asked this question--'Where is he that is born King of the Jews?' No one gave them answer--no one understood what they meant; so they passed on, leaving behind them this saying: 'For we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.' They put the question to the Roman at the gate; and he, no wiser than the simple people on the road, sent them up to Herod."

"Where are they now?"

"At the khan. Hundreds have been to look at them already, and hundreds more are going."

"Who are they?"

"Nobody knows. They are said to be Persians--wise men who talk with the stars--prophets, it may be, like Elijah and Jeremiah."

"What do they mean by King of the Jews?"

"The Christ, and that he is just born."

One of the women laughed, and resumed her work, saying, "Well, when I see him I will believe."

Another followed her example: "And I--well, when I see him raise the dead, I will believe."

A third said, quietly, "He has been a long time promised. It will be enough for me to see him heal one leper."

And the party sat talking until the night came, and, with the help of the frosty air, drove them home.

Later in the evening, about the beginning of the first watch, there was an assemblage in the palace on Mount Zion, of probably fifty persons, who never came together except by order of Herod, and then only when he had demanded to know some one or more of the deeper mysteries of the Jewish law and history. It was, in short, a meeting of the teachers of the colleges, of the chief priests, and of the doctors most noted in the city for learning--the leaders of opinion, expounders of the different creeds; princes of the Sadducees; Pharisaic debaters; calm, soft-spoken, stoical philosophers of the Essene socialists.

The chamber in which the session was held belonged to one of the interior court-yards of the palace, and was quite large and Romanesque. The floor was tessellated with marble blocks; the walls, unbroken by a window, were frescoed in panels of saffron yellow; a divan occupied the centre of the apartment, covered with cushions of bright-yellow cloth, and fashioned in form of the letter U, the opening towards the doorway; in the arch of the divan, or, as it were, in the bend of the letter, there was an immense bronze tripod, curiously inlaid with gold and silver, over which a chandelier dropped from the ceiling, having seven arms, each holding a lighted lamp. The divan and the lamp were purely Jewish.

The company sat upon the divan after the style of Orientals, in costume singularly uniform, except as to color. They were mostly men advanced in years; immense beards covered their faces; to their large noses were added the effects of large black eyes, deeply shaded by bold brows; their demeanor was grave, dignified, even patriarchal. In brief, their session was that of the Sanhedrim.

He who sat before the tripod, however, in the place which may be called the head of the divan, having all the rest of his associates on his right and left, and, at the same time, before him, evidently president of the meeting, would have instantly absorbed the attention of a spectator. He had been cast in large mould, but was now shrunken and stooped to ghastliness; his white robe dropped from his shoulders in folds that gave no hint of muscle or anything but an angular skeleton. His hands, half concealed by sleeves of silk, white and crimson striped, were clasped upon his knees. When he spoke, sometimes the first finger of the right hand extended tremulously; he seemed incapable of other gesture.

But his head was a splendid dome. A few hairs, whiter than fine-drawn silver, fringed the base; over a broad, ll-sphered skull the skin was drawn close, and shone in the light with positive brilliance; the temples were deep hollows, from which the forehead beetled like a wrinkled crag; the eyes were wan and dim; the nose was pinched; and all the lower face was muffed in a beard flowing and venerable as Aaron's. Such was Hillel the Babylonian! The line of prophets, long extinct in Israel, was now succeeded by a line of scholars, of whom he was first in learning--a prophet in all but the divine inspiration! At the age of one hundred and six, he was still Rector of the Great College.  
-to be continued 

Laughter the best medicine

Creating opportunities to laugh

Watch a funny movie or TV show.

Go to a comedy club.

Read the funny pages.

Seek out funny people.

Share a good joke or a funny story.

Check out your bookstore’s humor section.

Host game night with friends.

Play with a pet.

Go to a “laughter yoga” class.

Goof around with children.

Do something silly.

Make time for fun activities 

Developing your sense of humor: Take yourself less seriously

One essential characteristic that helps us laugh is not taking ourselves too seriously. We’ve all known the classic tight-jawed sourpuss who takes everything with deathly seriousness and never laughs at anything. No fun there!

Some events are clearly sad and not occasions for laughter. But most events in life don’t carry an overwhelming sense of either sadness or delight. They fall into the gray zone of ordinary life–giving you the choice to laugh or not.

Ways to help yourself see the lighter side of life:

Laugh at yourself. Share your embarrassing moments. The best way to take ourselves less seriously is talk about times when we took ourselves too seriously.

Attempt to laugh at situations rather than bemoan them. Look for the humor in a bad situation, the irony and absurdity of life. This will help improve your mood and the mood of those around you.

Surround yourself with reminders to lighten up. Keep a toy on your desk or in your car. Put up a funny poster in your office. Choose a computer screensaver that makes you laugh. Frame photos of you and your family or friends having fun.

Keep things in perspective. Many things in life are beyond our control—particularly the behavior of other people. While you might think taking the weight of the world on your shoulders is admirable, in the long run it’s unrealistic, unproductive, unhealthy, and even egotistical.

Deal with your stress. Stress is a major impediment to humor and laughter. 

Pay attention to children and emulate them. They are the experts on playing, taking things lightly, and laughing.

Did You Know

·         The shortest war on record took place in 1896 when Zanzibar surrendered to Britain after 38 minutes.

·         The longest was the so-called 100-years war between Britain and France. It actually lasted 116 years, ending in 1453.

·         Annual global spending on education is $1.1 trillion. Annual global spending on military is $1.3 trillion (45% by USA).

·         Money notes are not made from paper, it is made mostly from a special blend of cotton and linen.

·         The first credit card was issued by American Express in 1951.

·         Statistics show that people with high, medium and low income groups spend about the same amount on Christmas gifts.

·         80% of millionaires drive second-hand cars.

·         The NASDAQ stock exchange was totally disabled in one day in December 1987 when a squirrel burrowed through a telephone line.

The Power of Positive Thinking

by Norman Vincent Peale

Chapter 4 continued

If you have not experienced this power, perhaps you need to learn new techniques of prayer. It is well to study prayer from an efficiency point of view. Usually the emphasis is entirely religious though no cleavage exists between the two concepts. Scientific spiritual practice rules out stereotyped procedure even as it does in general science. If you have been praying in a certain manner, even if it has brought you blessings, which it doubtless has, perhaps you can pray even more profitably by varying the pattern and by experimenting with fresh prayer formulas. Get new insights; practice new skills to attain greatest results.

It is important to realize that you are dealing with the most tremendous power in the world when you pray. You would not use an old-fashioned kerosene lamp for illumination.

You want the most up-to-date lighting devices. New and fresh spiritual techniques are being constantly discovered by men and women of spiritual genius. It is advisable to experiment with prayer power according to such methods as prove sound and effective. If this sounds new and strangely scientific, bear in mind that the secret of prayer is to find the process that will most effectively open your mind humbly to God. Any method through which you can stimulate the power of God to flow into your mind is legitimate and usable.

An illustration of a scientific use of prayer is the experience of two famous industrialists, whose names would be known to many readers were I permitted to mention them, who had a conference about a business and technical matter. One might think that these men would approach such a problem on a purely technical basis, and they did that and more;  they also prayed about it. But they did not get a successful result.

Therefore they called in a country preacher, an old friend of one of them, because, as they explained, the Bible prayer formula is, "Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them." (Matthew 18:20)

They also pointed to a further formula, namely, "If two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven." (Matthew 18:19)

Being schooled in scientific practice, they believe that in dealing with prayer as a phenomenon they should scrupulously follow the formulas outlined in the Bible which they described as the textbook of spiritual science. The proper method for employing a science is to use the accepted formulas outlined in the textbook of that science. They reasoned that if the Bible provides that two or three should be gathered together, perhaps the reason they were not succeeding was that they needed a third party.

Therefore the three men prayed, and to guard against error in the process they also brought to bear on the problem various other Biblical techniques such as those suggested in the statements: "According to your faith be it unto you." (Matthew 9:29) "What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them." (Mark 11:24)

After several thoroughgoing sessions of prayer the three men together affirmed that they had received the answer. The outcome was entirely satisfactory. Subsequent results indicated that Divine guidance was actually obtained.

These men are great enough scientists not to require precise explanation of the operation of these spiritual laws any more than in the case of naturalistic laws but are content with the fact that the law does operate when "proper" techniques are employed.

"While we cannot explain it," they said, "the fact remains that we were baffled by our problem and we tried prayer according to the formulas in the New Testament. That method worked and we got a beautiful result." They did add that it seemed to them that faith and harmony are important factors in the prayer process.

A man opened a small business in New York City a number of years ago, his first establishment being, as he characterized it, "a little hole in the wall." He had one employee. In a few years they moved into a larger room and then into extensive quarters. It became a very successful operation.

This man's method of business as he described it was "to fill the little hole in the wall with optimistic prayers and thoughts." He declared that hard work, positive thinking, fair dealing, right treatment of people, and the proper kind of praying always get results. This man, who has a creative and unique mind, worked out his own simple formula for solving his problems and overcoming his difficulties through prayer power. It is a curious formula but I have practiced it and personally know that it works. I have suggested it to many people who also found real value in its use. It is recommended to you.

The formula is (1) PRAYERIZE, (2) PICTURIZE, (3)

ACTUALIZE.

By "prayerize" my friend meant a daily system of creative prayer. When a problem arose he talked it over with God very simply and directly in prayer. Moreover, he did not talk with God as to some vast and far-off shadowy being but conceived of God as being with him in his office, in his home, on the street, in his automobile, always near by as a partner, as a close associate. He took seriously the Biblical injunction to "pray without ceasing." He interpreted it as meaning that he should go about every day discussing with God in a natural, normal manner the questions that had to be decided and dealt with. The Presence came finally to dominate his conscious and ultimately his unconscious thinking. He "prayerized" his daily life. He prayed as he walked or drove his car or performed other everyday activities. He filled his daily life full of prayer—that is, he  lived by prayer. He did not often kneel to offer his prayers but would, for example, say to God as to a close associate, "What will I do about this, Lord?" or "Give me a fresh insight on this, Lord." He prayerized his mind and so prayerized his activities.

The second point in his formula of creative prayer is to "picturize." The basic factor in physics is force. The basic factor in psychology is the realizable wish. The man who assumes success tends already to have success. People who assume failure tend to have failure. When either failure or success is picturized it strongly tends to actualize in terms equivalent to the mental image pictured.

To assure something worthwhile happening, first pray about it and test it according to God's will; then print a picture of it on your mind as happening, holding the picture firmly in consciousness. Continue to surrender the picture to God's will—that is to say, put the matter in God's hands—and follow God's guidance. Work hard and intelligently, thus doing your part to achieve success in the matter. Practice believing and continue to hold the picturization firmly in your thoughts. Do this and you will be astonished at the strange ways in which the picturization comes to pass. In this manner the picture "actualizes." That which you have "prayerized" and "picturized" "actualizes" according to the pattern of your basic realizable wish when conditioned by invoking God's power upon it, and if, moreover, you give fully of yourself to its realization.

-to be continued 

Story of the Week

A Glass of Milk

One day, a poor boy who was selling goods from door to door to pay his way through school, found he had only one thin dime left, and he was hungry.

He decided he would ask for a meal at the next house. However, he lost his nerve when a lovely young woman opened the door. Instead of a meal he asked for a drink of water! She thought he looked hungry so brought him a large glass of milk. He drank it so slowly, and then asked, "How much do I owe you?"

"You don't owe me anything," she replied. "Mother has taught us never to accept pay for a kindness."

He said, "Then I thank you from my heart."

As Howard Kelly left that house, he not only felt stronger physically, but his faith in God and man was strong also. He had been ready to give up on God.

Many years later that same young woman became critically ill. The local doctors were baffled. They finally sent her to the big city, where they called in specialists to study her rare disease.Dr. Howard Kelly was called in for the consultation. When he heard the name of the town she came from, a strange light filled his eyes. Immediately he rose and went down the hall of the hospital to her room. Dressed in his doctor's gown he went in to see her. He recognized her at once.

He went back to the consultation room determined to do his best to save her life. From that day he gave special  attention to her case. After a long struggle, the battle was won.

Dr. Kelly requested the business office to pass the final bill to him for approval. He looked at it, and then wrote something on the edge, and the bill was sent to her room. She feared to open it, for she was sure it would take the rest of her life to pay for it all. Finally she looked, and something caught her attention on the side of the bill. She read these words:

"Paid in full with one glass of milk."

(Signed) Dr. Howard Kelly.

Tears of joy flooded her eyes as her happy heart prayed: "Thank You, God, that your love has spread abroad through human hearts and hands."

There's a saying which goes something like this: Bread cast on the water comes back to you. The good deed you do today may benefit you or someone you love at the least expected time. If you never see the deed again, at least you will have made the world a better place. And, after all, isn't that what life is all about 

ACTS International

Just for Laughs

Word From God

I always remember the story of the preacher who had a very busy week...Didn't quite get around to doing more than a cursory reading of the assigned readings for the week, kept getting sidetracked with other preacher-type activities.

Finally, late Saturday night, he was so exhausted, he fell into bed thinking, "I will just have to trust the Holy Spirit and wait for a word from God."

The next morning he got up, got in the shower, thinking "Surely, the word will come to me as I'm getting ready."

He got dressed, got in the car to drive to the church, thinking, "I know the Spirit will speak to me if I can just empty my mind."

He got to the church, went into his study to pray for guideance. Met with the choir to pray, thinking, "Please, God, send me your word."

Finally, as they were entering the chancel, the Word of the Lord came to him and the Holy Spirit spoke, saying, "YOU SHOULD HAVE TAKEN TIME TO PREPARE YOUR SERMON!"

Water to Wine

A Lutheran minister is driving down to New York and gets stopped for speeding in Connecticut.

The state trooper smells alcohol on the minister's breath and then sees an empty wine bottle on the floor of the car. He says, "Sir, have you been drinking?"

"Just water," says the minister.

The trooper says, "Then why do I smell wine?"

The minister looks at the bottle and says, "Good Lord! He's done it again!"

 

 


                       
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