January 8, 2012

posted 5 Jan 2012, 18:56 by C S Paul   [ updated 7 Jan 2012, 08:11 ]

January 8, 2012

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

This Sunday is the first Sunday after the baptism of our Lord (or "Danaha" -January 6th)). Gospel reading is from Mathew 4:12-22.

Theme: "Follow me and I will make you fishers of men" - (Mathew4:18)

Gospel: "Jesus Begins to Preach

12 When Jesus heard that John had been put in prison, he withdrew to Galilee. 

13 Leaving Nazareth, he went and lived in Capernaum, which was by the lake in the area of Zebulun and Naphtali 

14 to fulfill what was said through the prophet Isaiah:

15Land of Zebulun and land of Naphtali,the Way of the Sea, beyond the Jordan,Galilee of the Gentiles

16 the people living in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned.

17 From that time on Jesus began to preach, Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.

Jesus Calls His First Disciples

18 As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. 

19 Come, follow me, Jesus said, and I will send you out to fish for people.

20 At once they left their nets and followed him.

21 Going on from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John. They were in a boat with their father Zebedee, preparing their nets. Jesus called them,

22 and immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him."

Message: The central core purpose of Christian life is outlined in these verses: Evangelize, Incorporate, and Disciple. Jesus says, go therefore and make disciples of all nations; evangelize with the strength of the gospel and teach the world about the kingdom of God; and follow me, I will make you fishers of men.

As Jesus was walking by the sea of Galilee, he saw two brother casting a net into the sea. They were fisherman. Jesus said to the, "Follow me, and I Will make you fishers of men."

In order to understand this command, we need to look at the following questions.

(1) What does it mean to follow Jesus? Follow me is an invitation to the believer for services. The decision to follow Jesus is not a simple task. It is to set aside one's personal goals and pleasures in order to embrace the purposes for which God created us. The purpose is to know God in a personal way and make disciples by teaching them Christ's commandments. To follow Christ means to give up personal affections, goals and priorities.

When Jesus called Peter and Andrew, their goal was to become successful fishermen. In asking them to forsake their goal, Jesus commanded them to follow him and would make them fishers of men's souls.

(2) How does one become fishers of men? When Jesus told Peter to cast his nets on the other side of the boat, then Peter said "Master, we have fished all night and caught nothing." But when they used the very effective method of using the light of Jesus, fish were attracted to it.

(3) How to fish for Christ? Jesus uses an effective method to draw people to himself. Apostle John quotes Jesus in 8:12, "I am the light of the world, he who follows me shall not walk in darkness but in the light of life."

Just as the fish is attracted to the light of the disciples, God wants people to be attracted to his light shining through the disciples. The light of every believer is the presence of Jesus in their lives. Paul says in Corinthians 4:6-7, "For it is God who commanded light to shine out of darkness and who has shown in

their hearts to give the lights of the glory of God."

(4) What does it require to follow Jesus? It is a call that requires complete and immediate attachment to God. Peter and Andrew "left their nets." James and John left their father. The requirement for following Jesus are not the same for everyone.

Basically it is the willingness to exchange their affections, goals and priorities in life.

Peter was a disciple who actually left everything to follow Jesus.

However, he failed Jesus by denying him on the night of Jesus' arrest. A few days later, Peter with some of his disciples decided to go for fishing. They got out to do the fishing but couldn't catch a single fish. Jesus calls them from the shore and ends up performing a miracle by filling their nets with fish. After they have enjoyed a fish breakfast together, Jesus comes up to Peter and asks, "Do you love me more than these fish, nets, and the bread?

All of us can also imagine Jesus asking us the same question.

Jesus may mention our family, all our assets, cash, position, career and all that. Do we love Jesus more than all our possessions?

Jesus wants us to respond something like, "Yes, Lord. I love you more than all my possessions. And I want to prove it with my actions. I am prepared to follow you, for I am your disciple.

Laughter the best medicine

Laughter reduces pain, increases job performance, connects people emotionally, and improves the flow of oxygen to the heart and brain.

Laughter, it's said, is the best medicine. And there's lots of evidence that laughter does lots of good things for us.

It reduces pain and allows us to tolerate discomfort.

It reduces blood sugar levels, increasing glucose tolerance in diabetics and nondiabetics alike.

It improves your job performance, especially if your work depends on creativity and solving complex problems.

Its role in intimate relationships is vastly underestimated and it really is the glue of good marriages.

It synchronizes the brains of speaker and listener so that they are emotionally attuned.

Stories of the Week

Mirror Image

"Instead, we will hold to the truth in love, becoming more and more in every way like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church."

Dr. William Barker tells about the actor, Ben Kingsley who "starred as the main character in the motion picture GANDHI. He spent months preparing for the role, visiting the various Indian locales Gandhi had frequented. He even learned to spin cotton thread on a wooden wheel while holding conversations as Gandhi did. The physical resemblance between Gandhi and Kingsley was almost startling. After filming a scene in a village south of Delhi, Kingsley stepped out of a car, and an elderly peasant knelt to touch his feet. Embarrassed, Kingsley explained that he was merely an actor playing Gandhi. 'We know,' replied the villager, 'but through you he will surely live again.'"

As Christians, if we truly follow and serve the Lord, we will become more and more in every way like Christ. May God help us to so live that others will see the likeness of Jesus in us—as this is by far the most powerful and effective witness of our Christian faith that any one of us could ever have.                             

Angels of Mercy

by Michael Josephson

A few years ago, Dave, a dear friend, went through a terrible throat surgery and long hospitalization. Though he's a professional motivational speaker who frequently talks about the power of positive thinking, he told me he was surprised to really see how much his attitude affected the amount of mental anguish and physical pain he experienced. Even more, he was surprised how much his attitude was affected by the attitudes of the health care workers he saw each day.

"You could just feel the difference between the few who genuinely cared about you as a person and those who thought of you as one of their daily burdens," Dave said. Unfortunately, the majority of men and women who came in and out of his room were coldly indifferent. They treated him as a medical problem rather than as a person suffering from a medical problem and he found the experience demoralizing, depressing and deeply disrespectful.

Many doctors and nurses seemed annoyed by his presence and his problems. They would often talk about his condition in front of him as if he weren't there. Most failed to demonstrate the slightest concern with the effect their callous words and demeanor might have on their patient. Dave found this attitude outright toxic.In contrast, the few workers who went out of their way to lift his spirits and brighten his day with simple but sincere expressions of concern and encouragement weren't just good medical professionals. They were good people. These "angels of mercy" who bring their hearts to their work, knowing that mental sunshine and flowers can be as important as drugs, deserve our love and admiration.

This is Michael Josephson reminding you that character counts.


                   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.

BOOK SECOND  - Chapter I continued

Judea had been a Roman province eighty years and more--ample time for the Caesars to study the idiosyncrasies of the people--time enough, at least, to learn that the Jew, with all his pride, could be quietly governed if his religion were respected. Proceeding upon that policy, the predecessors of Gratus had carefully abstained from interfering with any of the sacred observances of their subjects. But he chose a different course: almost his first official act was to expel Hannas from the high-priesthood, and give the place to Ishmael, son of Fabus.

Whether the act was directed by Augustus, or proceeded from Gratus himself, its impolicy became speedily apparent. The reader shall be spared a chapter on Jewish politics; a few words upon the subject, however, are essential to such as may follow the succeeding narration critically. At this time, leaving origin out of view, there were in Judea the party of the nobles and the Separatist or popular party. Upon Herod's death, the two united against Archelaus; from temple to palace, from Jerusalem to Rome, they fought him; sometimes with intrigue, sometimes with the actual weapons of war. More than once the holy cloisters on Moriah resounded with the cries of fighting-men. Finally, they drove him into exile. Meantime throughout this struggle the allies had their diverse objects in view. The nobles hated Joazar, the high-priest; the Separatists, on the other hand, were his zealous adherents.

When Herod's settlement went down with Archelaus, Joazar shared the fall. Hannas, the son of Seth, was selected by the nobles to fill the great office; thereupon the allies divided. The induction of the Sethian brought them face to face in fierce hostility.

In the course of the struggle with the unfortunate ethnarch, the nobles had found it expedient to attach themselves to Rome.

Discerning that when the existing settlement was broken up some form of government must needs follow, they suggested the conversion of Judea into a province. The fact furnished the Separatists an additional cause for attack; and, when Samaria was made part of the province, the nobles sank into a minority, with nothing to support them but the imperial court and the prestige of their rank and wealth; yet for fifteen years--down, indeed, to the coming of Valerius Gratus--they managed to maintain themselves in both palace and Temple.

Hannas, the idol of his party, had used his power faithfully in the interest of his imperial patron. A Roman garrison held the Tower of Antonia; a Roman guard kept the gates of the palace; a Roman judge dispensed justice civil and criminal; a Roman system of taxation, mercilessly executed, crushed both city and country; daily, hourly, and in a thousand ways, the people were bruised and galled, and taught the difference between a life of independence and a life of subjection; yet Hannas kept them in comparative quiet. Rome had no truer friend; and he madehis loss instantly felt. Delivering his vestments to Ishmael, the new appointee, he walked from the courts of the Temple into the councils of the Separatists, and became the head of a new combination, Bethusian and Sethian.

Gratus, the procurator, left thus without a party, saw the fires which, in the fifteen years, had sunk into sodden smoke begin to glow with returning life. A month after Ishmael took the office, the Roman found it necessary to visit him in Jerusalem. When from the walls, hooting and hissing him, the Jews beheld his guard enter the north gate of the city and march to the Tower of Antonia, they understood the real purpose of the visit--a full cohort of legionaries was added to the former garrison, and the keys of their yoke could now be tightened with impunity. If the procurator deemed it important to make an example, alas for the first offender!

(to be continued)

Just for Laughs

The Church Car

The minister of a well-attended, strong, and enthusiastic church often showed himself ready and able to deal with any situation that might come up.

One Sunday, just as the minister was reaching the climax of his sermon, his own young son entered the church, ran to the center aisle, started making loud beeps and brrrmms like a car without a muffler, then zoomed right toward him.

The minister stopped his sermon, pointed directly at his son, and commanded, "Jimmy, park the car immediately beside your mother on that bench (pointing), turn off the ignition, and hand her the keys."


Why Don't I See You?

A friend was in front of me coming out of church one day, and as always the preacher was standing at the door shaking hands as the congregation departed. He grabbed my friend by the hand and pulled him aside.

The Pastor said to him, "You need to join the Army of the Lord!"

My friend replied, "I'm already in the Army of the Lord, Pastor."

Pastor questioned, "How come I don't see you except for Christmas and Easter?" 

He whispered back, "I'm in the secret service".

The Power of Positive Thinking

by Norman Vincent Peale

Chapter 4 -  continued

Personally, I believe that prayer is a sending out of vibrations from one person to another and to God. All of the universe is in vibration. There are vibrations in the molecules of a table. The air is filled with vibrations. The reaction between human beings is also in vibration. When you send out a prayer for another person, you employ the force inherent in a spiritual universe. You transport from yourself to the other person a sense of love, helpfulness, support—a sympathetic, powerful understanding—and in this process you awaken vibrations in the universe through which God brings to pass the good objectives prayed for. Experiment with this principle and you will know its amazing results.

For example, I have a habit, which I often use, of praying for people as I pass them. I remember being on a train traveling through West Virginia when I had a curious thought. I saw a man standing on a station platform, then the train moved on and he passed from sight. It occurred to me that I was seeing him for the first and last time. His life and mine touched lightly for just a fraction of an instant. He went his way and I went mine. I wondered how his life would turn out.

Then I prayed for that man, sending out an affirmative prayer that his life would be filled with blessings. Then I began praying for other people I saw as the train passed. I prayed for a man plowing in the field and asked the Lord to help him and give him a good crop. I saw a mother hanging up clothes, and that line of freshly washed garments told me she had a large family. A glimpse of her face and the way in which she handled the clothes of the children told me she was a happy woman. I prayed for her, that she would have a happy life, that her husband would always be true to her and that she would be true to him. I prayed that they might be a religious family and that the children would grow up strong, honorable young people.

In one station I saw a man leaning half asleep against a wall,and I prayed that he would wake up and get off relief and amount to something. Then we stopped at a station, and there was a lovable little kid, one pants leg longer than the other, shirt open at the neck, wearing a too-big sweater, hair tousled, face dirty. He was sucking a lollipop and working hard on it. I prayed for him, and as the train started to move he looked up at me and gave me the most wonderful smile.

I knew my prayer had caught him, and I waved to him, and he waved back at me. I shall never see that boy again in all likelihood, but our lives touched. It had been a cloudy day up to that point, but suddenly the sun came out and I think there was a light in the boy's heart, for it was revealed on his face. I know that my heart felt happy. I am sure it was because the power of God was moving in a circuit through me, to the boy and back to God; and we were all under the spell of prayer power.

One of the important functions of prayer is as a stimulus to creative ideas. Within the mind are all of the resources needed for successful living. Ideas are present in consciousness which, when released and given scope together with proper implementation, can lead to the successful operation of any project or undertaking. When the New Testament says, "The kingdom of God is within you," (Luke 17:21) it is informing us that God our Creator has laid up within our minds and personalities all the potential powers and ability we need for constructive living. It remains for us to tap and develop these powers.

 For example, a man of my acquaintance is connected with a business where he is the chief of four executives. At regular intervals these men have what they call an "idea session," the purpose of which is to tap all the creative ideas lurking in the minds of any of the four. For this session they use a room without telephones, buzzers, or other usual office equipment. The double window is fully insulated so that street noises are for the most part eliminated.

Before starting the session the group spends ten minutes in silent prayer and meditation. They conceive of God as creatively working in their minds. Each in his own way silently prays, affirming that God is about to release from his mind the proper ideas needed in the business.

Following the quiet period all start talking, pouring out ideas that have come to their minds. Memos of the ideas are written upon cards and thrown on the table. No one is permitted to criticize any idea at this particular juncture for argument might stop the flow of creative thought. The cards are gathered up and each one is evaluated at a later session; but this is the idea-tapping session, stimulated by prayer power.

When this practice was inaugurated a high percentage of the ideas suggested proved to be without particular value, but as the sessions continued the percentage of good ideas increased. Now many of the best suggestions which have later demonstrated their practical value were evolved in the "idea session."

As one of the executives explained, "We have come up with insights that not only show on our balance sheet but we have also gained a new feeling of confidence. Moreover, there is a deeper feeling of fellowship among the four of us and this has spread to others in the organization." Where is the old-fashioned businessman who says that  religion is theoretical and has no place in business? Today any successful and competent businessman will employ the latest and best-tested methods in production, distribution, and administration, and many are discovering that one of the greatest of all efficiency methods is prayer power.

Alert people everywhere are finding that by trying prayer power they feel better, work better, do better, sleep better are better.

(to be continued)

Did You Know ?

  • If a statue in the park of a person on a horse has both front legs in the air, the person died in battle. If the horse has one front leg in the air the person died as a result of wounds received in battle. If the horse has all four legs on the ground, the person died of natural causes.
  • The glue on Israeli postage is certified kosher.
  • The first CD pressed in the US was Bruce Springsteen's "Born in the USA."
  • Sherlock Holmes NEVER said, "Elementary, my dear Watson."
  • A rat can last longer without water than a camel.
  • Your stomach has to produce a new layer of mucus every two weeks or it will digest itself.
  • At General Motors, the cost of health care for employees now exceeds the cost of steel.
  • A Brussels Airlines flight to Vienna was aborted because the pilot was attacked in the cockpit. The attacker was a passenger's cat, who got out of its travel bag.
  • A chef's hat is shaped the way it is for a reason: its shape allows air to circulate around the scalp, keeping the head cool in a hot kitchen.
  • Life expectancy for Russian men has actually gone down over the past 40 years. A Russian male born today can expect to live an average 58 years.