January 15, 2012

posted 14 Jan 2012, 01:27 by C S Paul   [ updated 15 Jan 2012, 04:28 ]

January 15, 2012

                                   (Prepared by: Rev. Dr. V KurianThomas Valiyaparambil)
Provided by Mr. K. Kuriakose

This Sunday is the 2nd Sunday after the baptism of our Lord. Gospel reading is from John 1:43-51.

Theme: Jesus calls Phillip and Nathaniel. Nathaniel asks Phillip: "Can anything good come from Nazareth? Phillip answers: "Yes, come and see"

43 The next day Jesus decided to leave for Galilee. Finding Philip, he said to him, Follow me”.

44 Philip, like Andrew and Peter, was from the town of Bethsaida.

45 Philip found Nathanael and told him, We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph”. 

46Nazareth! Can anything good come from there? Nathanael asked. 
Come and see, said Philip. 

47 When Jesus saw Nathanael approaching, he said of him, Here truly is an Israelite in whom there is no deceit. 

48 How do you know me? Nathanael asked. 
Jesus answered, I saw you while you were still under the fig tree before Philip called you.

49 Then Nathanael declared, Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the king of Israel.

50 Jesus said, You believe[ because I told you I saw you under the fig tree. You will see greater things than that.

51 He then added, Very truly I tell you, you will see, heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on, the Son” 

Message: One of the key themes of Jesus' public ministry is the calling of his disciples. In today's gospel, Jesus begins this with a search for a team of inner circle of faithful disciples who would take the leadership after Jesus completes his mission. Jesus began a three year venture of leading the spiritual journey that would alter the course of human history which would stand for ever. 

The first disciple Jesus chose was Andrew. He was an ordinary man. He chose to follow Jesus wholeheartedly. His brother Peter was also chosen who was extraordinary. Peter did things in a big way. He succeeded big as well as failed big.  He wrote letters that became books of the Bible named after him. Peter always stands first when the disciples are listed. 

Today's gospel talks about others who Jesus chose. Phillip was from the same town of Bethsaida as Andrew and Peter.  Phillip was encountered by Jesus and later Jesus invited him to follow him.

Phillip then went to Nathaniel to talk about the Messiah. Nathaniel's response was, "Can anything good come out of Nazareth?" Phillip replies, "Come and see."

Nathaniel asks this question about Nazareth when Phillip introduced him to Jesus as the prophet from Nazareth. Nazareth was not an important city for the national and religious life of Israel. It had a bad reputation in morals and religious life. Even the Galilean language had  crudeness to it. Due to these factors, Nathaniel was surprised that the Messiah would come from Nazareth or be identified with it. 

Nathaniel starts out as a doubter, but then when he encounters Jesus, he is welcomed as one who knows Jesus well. Nathaniel's doubts vanish instantly. He claims Jesus as the "Son of God" and "King of Israel." Jesus promises Nathaniel that the heaven would be opened up for him and he will be granted insight into the spiritual truth of the Kingdom of Heaven. This is the time for all of us to look for a healthy appraisal of ourselves -- who and what we are. 

Many of us are searching for something. It is Jesus Christ what we need.  Jesus says to us, come and see - experience his presence and power. Jesus invites us to follow him for a purposeful and rewarding life. 

The invitation is still there. "Come and See." Jesus is the light that came to the earth to clarify our path and soul. His mission was to guide us and to let us know him. It was to show a better path full of trust, security and promises. Jesus came to redeem us from things which shaped our souls that were not quite right.

He came to deliver the truth in a world of false beliefs. What we need is spiritual guidance which we cannot fill with gains in this life such as profits and pleasure. 

Laughter the best medicine

Laughter establishes -- or restores -- a positive emotional climate and a sense of connection between two people, In fact, some researchers believe that the major function of laughter is to bring people together. And all the health benefits of laughter may simply result from the social support that laughter stimulates.

Now comes hard new evidence that laughter helps your blood vessels function better. It acts on the inner lining of blood vessels, called the endothelium, causing vessels to relax and expand, increasing blood flow. In other words, it's good for your heart and brain, two organs that require the steady flow of oxygen carried in the blood.

At this year's meeting of the American College of Cardiology, Michael Miller, M.D., of the University of Maryland reported that in a study of 20 healthy people, provoking laughter did as much good for their arteries as aerobic activity. He doesn't recommend that you laugh and not exercise. But he does advise that you try to laugh on a regular basis. The endothelium, he explains, regulates blood flow and adjusts the propensity of blood to coagulate and clot. In addition, it secretes assorted chemicals in response to wounds, infection or irritation. It also plays an important role in the development of cardiovascular disease.

"The endothelium is the first line in the development of atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries," said Dr. Miller. "So given the results of our study, it is conceivable that laughing may be important to maintain a healthy endothelium. And reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease."

At the very least, he adds, "laughter offsets the impact of mental stress, which is harmful to the endothelium."

The researcher can't say for sure exactly how laughter delivers its heart benefit. It could come from the vigorous movement of the diaphragm muscles as you chuckle or guffaw. Alternatively, or additionally, laughter might trigger the release in the brain of such hormones as endorphins that have an effect on arteries.

It's also possible that laughter boosts levels of nitric oxide in artery walls. Nitric oxide is known to play a role in the dilation of the endothelium. "Perhaps mental stress leads to a breakdown in nitric oxide or inhibits a stimulus to produce nitric oxide that results in vasoconstriction."

Dr. Miller offers a simple prescription that won't bankrupt you and could save your life. "Thirty minutes of exercise three times a week, and 15 minutes of laughter on a daily basis is probably good for the vascular system," he says.


                          BEN-HUR: A TALE OF THE CHRIST 

by Lew Wallace

Part Two

Biblical references: Luke 2:51-52

Judah Ben-Hur is a prince descended from a royal family of Judaea. Messala, his closest childhood friend, the son of a Roman tax-collector, leaves home for five years of education in Rome. He returns as a proud and avaricious Roman. He mocks Judah and his religion and the two become enemies. Judah decides to go to Rome, as Messala had, for military training but use his skills to fight the Roman Empire.

Valerius Gratus, the fourth Roman prefect of Judaea, passes by Judah's house. As Judah watches the procession, a roof tile is loosed, falls into the street and hits the governor. Messala betrays Judah, who is arrested. There is no trial; Judah's family is secretly imprisoned in the Antonia Fortress and all the family property is seized. Judah vows vengeance against the Romans. He is sent to become a slave aboard a Roman warship. On the way to the ship he meets Jesus, who offers him water, which deeply moves Judah.


With the foregoing explanation in mind, the reader is invited to look into one of the gardens of the palace on Mount Zion. The time was noonday in the middle of July, when the heat of summer was at its highest.

The garden was bounded on every side by buildings, which in places arose two stories, with verandas shading the doors and windows of the lower story, while retreating galleries, guarded by strong balustrades, adorned and protected the upper. Here and there, moreover, the structures fell into what appeared low colonnades, permitting the passage of such winds as chanced to blow, and allowing other parts of the house to be seen, the better to realize its magnitude and beauty. The arrangement of the ground was equally pleasant to the eye. There were walks, and patches of grass and shrubbery, and a few large trees, rare specimens of the palm, grouped with the carob, apricot, and walnut. In all directions the grade sloped gently from the centre, where there was a reservoir, or deep marble basin, broken at intervals by little gates which, when raised, emptied the water into sluices bordering the walks—a cunning device for the rescue of the place from the aridity too prevalent elsewhere in the region.

Not far from the fountain, there was a small pool of clear water nourishing a clump of cane and oleander, such as grow on the Jordan and down by the Dead Sea. Between the clump and the pool, unmindful of the sun shining full upon them in the breathless air, two boys, one about nineteen, the other seventeen, sat engaged in earnest conversation.

They were both handsome, and, at first glance, would have been pronounced brothers. Both had hair and eyes black; their faces were deeply browned; and, sitting, they seemed of a size proper for the difference in their ages.

The elder was bareheaded. A loose tunic, dropping to the knees, was his attire complete, except sandals and a light-blue mantle spread under him on the seat. The costume left his arms and legs exposed, and they were brown as the face; nevertheless, a certain grace of manner, refinement of features, and culture of voice decided his rank. The tunic, of softest woollen, gray-tinted, at the neck, sleeves, and edge of the skirt bordered with red, and bound to the waist by a tasselled silken cord, certified him the Roman he was.

And if in speech he now and then gazed haughtily at his companion and addressed him as an inferior, he might almost be excused, for he was of a family noble even in Rome--a circumstance which in that age justified any assumption. In the terrible wars between the first Caesar and his great enemies, a Messala had been the friend of Brutus. After Philippi, without sacrifice of his honor, he and the conqueror became reconciled.

Yet later, when Octavius disputed for the empire, Messala supported him. Octavius, as the Emperor Augustus, remembered the service, and showered the family with honors. Among other things, Judea being reduced to a province, he sent the son of his old client or retainer to Jerusalem, charged with the receipt and management of the taxes levied in that region; and in that service the son had since remained, sharing the palace with the high-priest. The youth just described was his son, whose habit it was to carry about with him all too faithfully a remembrance of the relation between his grandfather and the great Romans of his day.

The associate of the Messala was slighter in form, and his garments were of fine white linen and of the prevalent style in Jerusalem; a cloth covered his head, held by a yellow cord,  and arranged so as to fall away from the forehead down low over the back of the neck. An observer skilled in the distinctions of race, and studying his features more than his costume, would have soon discovered him to be of Jewish descent. The forehead of the Roman was high and narrow, his nose sharp and aquiline, while his lips were thin and straight, and his eyes cold and close under the brows. The front of the Israelite, on the other hand, was low and broad; his nose long, with expanded nostrils; his upper lip, slightly shading the lower one, short and curving to the dimpled corners, like a Cupid's bow; points which, in connection with the round chin, full eyes, and oval cheeks reddened with a wine-like glow, gave his face the softness, strength, and beauty peculiar to his race. The comeliness of the Roman was severe and chaste, that of the Jew rich and voluptuous.

"Did you not say the new procurator is to arrive to-morrow?"

The question proceeded from the younger of the friends, and was couched in Greek, at the time, singularly enough, the language everywhere prevalent in the politer circles of Judea; having passed from the palace into the camp and college; thence, nobody knew exactly when or how, into the Temple itself,

and, for that matter, into precincts of the Temple far beyond the gates and cloisters--precincts of a sanctity intolerable for a Gentile.

"Yes, to-morrow," Messala answered.

"Who told you?"

"I heard Ishmael, the new governor in the palace--you call him high priest--tell my father so last night. The news had been more credible, I grant you, coming from an Egyptian, who is of a race that has forgotten what truth is, or even from an Idumaean, whose people never knew what truth was; but, to make quite certain, I saw a centurion from the Tower this morning, and he told me preparations were going on for the reception; that the armorers were furbishing the helmets and shields, and regilding the eagles and globes; and that apartments long unused were being cleansed and aired as if for an addition to the garrison--the body-guard, probably, of the great man."

A perfect idea of the manner in which the answer was given cannot be conveyed, as its fine points continually escape the power behind the pen. The reader's fancy must come to his aid; and for that he must be reminded that reverence as a quality of the Roman mind was fast breaking down, or, rather, it was becoming unfashionable.

The old religion had nearly ceased to be a faith; at most it was a mere habit of thought and expression, cherished principally by the priests who found service in the Temple profitable, and the poets who, in the turn of their verses, could not dispense with the familiar deities: there are singers of this age who are similarly given. As philosophy was taking the place of religion, satire was fast substituting reverence; insomuch that in Latin opinion it was to every speech, even to the little diatribes of conversation, as salt to viands, and aroma to wine. The young Messala, educated in Rome, but lately returned, had caught the habit and manner; the scarce perceptible movement of the outer corner of the lower eyelid, the decided curl of the corresponding nostril, and a languid utterance affected as the best vehicle to convey the idea of general indifference, but more particularly because of the opportunities it afforded for certain rhetorical pauses thought to be of prime importance to enable the listener to take the happy conceit or receive the virus of the stinging epigram.

Such a stop occurred in the answer just given, at the end of the allusion to the Egyptian and Idumaean. The color in the Jewish lad's cheeks deepened, and he may not have heard the rest of the speech, for he remained silent, looking absently into the depths of the pool.

"Our farewell took place in this garden. 'The peace of the Lord go with you!'--your last words. 'The gods keep you!' I said. Do you remember? How many years have passed since then?"

"Five," answered the Jew, gazing into the water.

"Well, you have reason to be thankful to--whom shall I say? The gods? No matter. You have grown handsome; the Greeks would call you beautiful--happy achievement of the years! If Jupiter would stay content with one Ganymede, what a cup-bearer you would make for the emperor! Tell me, my Judah, how the coming of the procurator is of such interest to you."

Judah bent his large eyes upon the questioner; the gaze was grave and thoughtful, and caught the Roman's, and held it while he replied, "Yes, five years. I remember the parting; you went to Rome; I saw you start, and cried, for I love you.

The years are gone, and you have come back to me accomplished and princely--I do not jest; and yet--yet--I do wish you were the Messala you went away."

(to be continued)

Just for Laughs

Bible Verses

A minister parked his car in a no parking zone in a large city because he was short of time and couldn't find a space with a meter. So he put a note under the windshield wiper that read: I have circled the block 10 times. If I don't park here, I'll miss my appointment. FORGIVE US OUR TRESPASSES.

When he returned, he found a citation from a police officer along with this note. I've circled this block for 10 years. If I don't give you a ticket, I'll lose my job. LEAD US NOT INTO TEMPTATION.


The Hotel Is Full

A Jewish lady named Mrs. Rosenberg many years ago was  stranded late one night at a fashionable resort - one that did not admit Jews. The desk clerk looked down at his book and said,

"Sorry, no room. The hotel is full."     

The Jewish lady said, "But your sign says that you have vacancies."

The desk clerk stammered and then said curtly, "You know that we do not admit Jews. Now if you will try the other side of town..."

Mrs. Rosenberg stiffened noticeable and said, "I'll have you know I converted to your religion."

The desk clerk said, "Oh, yeah, let me give you a little test. How was Jesus born?"

Mrs. Rosenberg replied, "He was born to a virgin named Mary in a little town called Bethlehem."

"Very good," replied the hotel clerk. "Tell me more."

Mrs. Rosenberg replied, "He was born in a manger."

"That's right," said the hotel clerk. "And why was he born in a manger?"

Mrs. Rosenberg said loudly, "Because a jerk like you in the hotel wouldn't give a Jewish lady a room for the night!"


The Power of Positive Thinking

by Norman Vincent Peale

Chapter 4 -  continued

My friend Grove Patterson, editor of the Toledo Blade, is a man of remarkable vigor. He says that his energy results, in part at least, from his methods of prayer. For example, he likes to fall asleep while praying, for he believes that his subconscious is most relaxed at that time. It is in the subconscious that our life is largely governed. If you drop a prayer into the subconscious at the moment of its greatest relaxation, the prayer has a powerful effect. Mr. Patterson chuckled as he said, "Once it worried me because I would fall asleep while praying. Now I actually try to have it so."

Many unique methods of prayer have come to my attention, but one of the most effective is that advocated by Frank Laubach in his excellent book, Prayer, the Mightiest Power in the World. I regard this as one of the most practical books on prayer, for it outlines fresh prayer techniques that work.

Dr. Laubach believes that actual power is generated by prayer.

One of his methods is to walk down the street and "shoot" prayers at people. He calls this type of praying, "flash prayers." He bombards passers-by with prayers, sending out thoughts of good will and love. He says that people passing him on the street as he "shoots" prayers at them often turn around and look at him and smile. They feel the emanation of a power like electrical energy.

In a bus he "shoots" prayers at his fellow passengers. Once he was sitting behind a man who seemed to be very gloomy.

He had noticed when he entered the bus that the man had a scowl on his face. He began to send out toward him prayers of good will and faith, conceiving of these prayers as surrounding him and driving into his mind. Suddenly the man began to stroke the back of his head, and when he left the bus the scowl was gone and a smile had replaced it. Dr. Laubach believes that he has often changed the entire atmosphere of a car or bus full of people by the process of "swishing love and prayers all around the place."

In a Pullman club car a half-intoxicated man was quite boorish and rude, talking in an overbearing manner and generally making himself obnoxious. I felt that everyone in the car took a dislike to him. Halfway down the car from him I determined to try Frank Laubach's method. So I started to pray for him, meanwhile visualizing his better self and sending out thoughts of good will toward him. Presently, for no seemingly apparent reason, the man turned in my direction, gave me a most disarming smile, and raised his hand in the gesture of salute. His attitude changed and he became quiet. I have every reason to believe that the prayer thoughts effectively reached out toward him.

It is my practice before making a speech to any audience to pray for the people present and to send out thoughts of love and good will toward them. Sometimes I select out of the audience one or two people who seem to be either depressed or even antagonistic and send my prayer thoughts and good-will attitude specifically toward them. Recently addressing a Chamber of Commerce annual dinner in a southwestern city, I noted a man in the audience who seemed to be scowling at me. It was altogether possible that his facial expression was not in any way related to me, but he seemed antagonistic.

Before starting to speak I prayed for him and "shot" a series of prayers and good-will thoughts in his direction. As I spoke, I continued to do this.

When the meeting was over, while shaking hands with those around me, suddenly my hand was caught in a tremendous clasp and I was looking into the face of the man. He was smiling broadly. "Frankly I did not like you when I came to this meeting," he said. "I do not like preachers and saw no reason for having

you, a minister, as speaker at our Chamber of Commerce dinner.

I was hoping that your speech would not be successful.

However, as you spoke something seemed to touch me. I feel like a new person. I had a strange sense of peace—and doggone it, I like you!"

It was not my speech that had this effect. It was the emanation of prayer power. In our brains we have about two billion little storage batteries. The human brain can send off power by thoughts and prayers. The human body's magnetic power has actually been tested. We have thousands of little sending stations, and when these are turned up by prayer it is possible for a tremendous power to flow through a person and to pass between human beings. We can send off power by prayer which acts as both a sending and receiving station.


Stories for the the week

The Jars

The preacher placed two identical jars on the table next to the pulpit. He quoted 1 Samuel 16:7 " The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart."

These jars came from the same factory, were made of the same materials, and can hold the same amount. But, they are different he explained.

Then he upset one, and it oozed out honey. He turned over the other, and vinegar spilled out. When a jar is upset, whatever is in it comes out.

Until the jars were upset, they looked alike. The difference was  within, and could not be seen. When they were upset, their contents were revealed.

Until we are upset we put on a good front. But when we are upset, we reveal our innermost thoughts, and attitudes, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.

What if someone tipped you over today?

What would flow out?

Would you reveal the honey of grace, and patience, or the vinegar of anger and sarcasm?

Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. (Peter 4:8.)

Have a terrific day knowing that the one who upsets you may be just looking for some honey.

Provided by Free Christian Content.org


Open My Heart

 "Tomorrow morning," the surgeon began, "I'll open up your heart...". " You'll find Jesus there," the boy interrupted. The surgeon looked up, annoyed. "I'll cut your heart open," he continued, "to see how much damage has been done..."

"But when you open up my heart, you'll find Jesus in there." The surgeon looked to the parents, who sat quietly. "When I see how much damage has been done, I'll sew your heart and chest back up and I'll plan what to do next." "But you'll find Jesus in my heart.

The Bible says He lives there. The hymns all say He lives there.

You'll find Him in my heart."

The surgeon had had enough. "I'll tell you what I'll find in your heart. I'll find damaged muscle, low blood supply, and weakened vessels. And I'll find out if I can make you well."

"You'll find Jesus there, too. He lives there."

The surgeon left. The surgeon sat in his office later, recording his notes from the surgery, "...damaged aorta, damaged pulmonary vein, wide-spread muscle degeneration. No hope for transplant, no hope for cure. Therapy: painkillers and bed rest.

Prognosis: here he paused, "death within one year." He stopped the recorder, but there was more to be said."Why?" he asked aloud. "Why did You do this? You've put him here; You've put him in this pain; and You've cursed him to an early death. Why?"

The Lord answered and said, "The boy, My lamb, was not meant for your flock for long, for he is a part of My flock, and will forever be. Here, in My flock, he will feel no pain, and will be comforted as you cannot imagine. His parents will one day join him here, and they will know peace, and My flock will continue to grow."

The surgeon's tears were hot, but his anger was hotter. "You created that boy, and You created that heart He'll be dead in months. "Why?"

The Lord answered, "The boy, My lamb, shall return to My flock, for he has done his duty: I did not put My lamb with your flock to lose him, but to retrieve another lost lamb." The surgeon wept.

The surgeon sat beside the boy's bed; the boy's parents sat across from him.

The boy awoke and whispered, "Did you cut open my heart?"

"Yes," said the surgeon. "What did you find?" asked the boy. "I found Jesus there," said the surgeon.

Provided by Free Christian Content.org


Did You Know ?

  • Music was sent down a telephone line for the first time in 1876, the year the phone was invented.
  • Top-selling albums used to reach sales of 20 million copies before the advent of online piracy – by 2009 it had dropped to about 5 million.
  • The number of recorded CDs and blank CDs sold were about equal.
  • The LP (long-playing) record was invented by Paul Goldmark in 1948. The LP is not dead yet: more than 10 million LPs are sold every year.
  • Since 1495, no 25-year period has been without war.
  • Since 1815 there has been more than 210 interstate wars.
  • Of the more than $50 billion worth of diet products sold every year, almost $20 billion are spent on imitation fats and sugar substitutes.
  • Excessive use of credit is cited as a major cause of non-business bankruptcy, second only to unemployment.
  • In the 17th century, wool fabrics accounted for about two-thirds of England’s foreign trade. Today, the leading wool producers are Australia, New Zealand, Argentina and China