November 13, 2011

posted 11 Nov 2011, 05:27 by C S Paul   [ updated 11 Nov 2011, 05:27 ]

November 13, 2011

SERMON OF THE WEEK 
                                        (Prepared by: Rev. Dr. V KurianThomas Valiyaparambil)

Provided by Mr. K. Kuriakose

This Sunday is commemorated as the day when the birth of John the Baptist is announced to Zachariah by Angel Gabriel.

Theme: "Nothing will be impossible for God. Gospel Reading: (Luke 1:5-25) 

5 In the time of Herod king of Judea, there was a priest named Zechariah, who belonged to the priestly division of Abijah; his wife Elizabeth was also a 
descendant of Aaron. 

6 Both of them were upright in the sight of God, observing all the Lord's commandments and regulations blamelessly. 

7 But they had no children, because Elizabeth was barren; and they were both well along in years. 

8 Once when Zechariah's division was on duty and he was serving as priest before God, 

9 he was chosen by lot, according to the custom of the priesthood, to go into the temple of the Lord and burn incense. 

10 And when the time for the burning of incense came, all the assembled 
worshipers were praying outside. 

11 Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing at the right side of the 
altar of incense. 

12 When Zechariah saw him, he was startled and was gripped with fear. 

13 But the angel said to him: "Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to give him the name 
John. 

14 He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth, 

15 for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He is never to take wine or other fermented drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even from birth.

16 Many of the people of Israel will he bring back to the Lord their God. 

17 And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous�to make ready a people prepared for the Lord." 

18 Zechariah asked the angel, "How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my 
wife is well along in years." 

19 The angel answered, "I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I have 
been sent to speak to you and to tell you this good news. 

20 And now you will be silent and not able to speak until the day this happens, because you did not believe my words, which will come true at their proper time." 

21 Meanwhile, the people were waiting for Zechariah and wondering why he 
stayed so long in the temple. 

22 When he came out, he could not speak to them. They realized he had seen a 
vision in the temple, for he kept making signs to them but remained unable to 
speak. 

23 When his time of service was completed, he returned home. 

24 After this his wife Elizabeth became pregnant and for five months remained in seclusion. 

25 The Lord has done this for me," she said. "In these days he has shown his favor 
and taken away my disgrace among the people." 

Message: In the land of Israel about two thousand years ago 
at the time of King Herod, a priest by the name Zachariah 
lived there with his wife Elizabeth. They were married for a 
long time but didn't have any children. Both of them were 
upright in the sight of God, observing all the Lord's commandments without blame.

One day as Zachariah was praying in the Temple where he was serving as a priest, an angel appeared and said, "Do not 
be afraid, Zachariah; your prayers have been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, 
and you are to give him the name John." Then Zachariah asked the angel, "How can it happen? 
I am an old man and my wife is well along in years." The angel answered, "I am Gabriel. I 
stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to tell you this good news. And because 
you did not believe my words, you will remain silent and not be able to speak until the day it happens."

Meanwhile, the people were waiting for Zachariah and wondered why he stayed so long 
inside the Temple. When he came out, he could not speak. He kept making signs to the worshipers and remained unable to speak.
After this, his wife Elizabeth became pregnant and for five months they both remained in seclusion. She said, "The Lord has done this for us. "
The story teaches that believing in God will guide us to many possible impossibilities. It will make us stronger.

At the end of the story, Elizabeth's child is born. The neighbors and friends wanted their son's name to be Zachariah. But Elizabeth said they are going to call him John because that's what 
God told them through the messenger. The tongue-tied Zachariah wrote on a tablet, "His 
name is John"

Zachariah couples believed that nothing was impossible for God. They had the courage to do what God wanted them do.

If we also trust in God and do things His way, then God will give us the strength to heal our broken life. If God wants to give us a gift, just wait for that. Believe in it. It will come. It will 
be ours. Nothing will be impossible for God.

According to Jewish historians, John the Baptist was a Jewish preacher in the time of Pontius Pilate. John called the people to repentance and to a renewal of their Covenant relation with God. He was imprisoned and eventually put to death by Herod Antipas, son of Pontius Pilate, 
for denouncing Herod's marriage to Herodias, the wife of his still living brother Phillip. In 
order to marry Herodias, Herod divorced his fist wife who was the daughter of King Aretas of Damascus. Aretas subsequently made war on Herod which was regarded by many devout Jews 
as a punishment for Herod murdering John the Baptist.

After John the Baptist had reached adulthood, he spent much of his time in the wilderness. He preached and baptized besides the Jordan river in the wilderness. He called on his hearers to repent their sins, be baptized, changes in their lives, and prepare for the coming the 
Kingdom of God. He spoke of one greater than himself who was to come after. Jesus came to be 
baptized, and john told his disciples, "This is the man I spoke of. My mission is to proclaim J
esus as Christ. He must increase, and I must decrease."

John represents the climax of a long tradition of Jewish prophets looking forward to the promised Messiah. He lived in the wilderness, a life with no frills where food and clothing are concerned. He had renounced the joys of family life and dedicated completely to the mission 
of preaching, of calling people to an observance the law, to the ordinary standards of virtue.
 He represented the Law at that time.
                   

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.

PART ONE - CHAPTER X.

At a certain hour in the evening the shouting and stir of the people in and about the khan ceased; at the same time, every Israelite, if not already upon his feet, arose, solemnized his face, looked towards Jerusalem, crossed his hands upon his breast, and prayed; for it was the sacred ninth hour, when sacrifices were offered in the temple on Moriah, and God was supposed to be there.

When the hands of the worshippers fell down, the commotion broke forth again; everybody hastened to bread, or to make his pallet.

A little later, the lights were put out, and there was silence, and then sleep.

* * * * * *

About midnight some one on the roof cried out, "What light is that in the sky? Awake, brethren, awake and see!"

The people, half asleep, sat up and looked; then they became wide-awake, though wonder-struck. And the stir spread to the court below, and into the lewens; soon the entire tenantry of the house and court and enclosure were out gazing at the sky.

And this was what they saw. A ray of light, beginning at a height immeasurably beyond the nearest stars, and dropping obliquely to the earth; at its top, a diminishing point; at its base, many furlongs in width; its sides blending softly with the darkness of the night, its core a roseate electrical splendor.

The apparition seemed to rest on the nearest mountain southeast of the town, making a pale corona along the line of the summit.

The khan was touched luminously, so that those upon the roof saw each other's faces, all filled with wonder.

Steadily, through minutes, the ray lingered, and then the wonder changed to awe and fear; the timid trembled; the boldest spoke in whispers.

"Saw you ever the like?" asked one.

"It seems just over the mountain there. I cannot tell what it is, nor did I ever see anything like it," was the answer.

"Can it be that a star has burst and fallen?" asked another, his tongue faltering.

"When a star falls, its light goes out."

"I have it!" cried one, confidently. "The shepherds have seen a lion, and made fires to keep him from the flocks."

The men next the speaker drew a breath of relief, and said, "Yes, that is it! The flocks were grazing in the valley over there to-day."

A bystander dispelled the comfort.

"No, no! Though all the wood in all the valleys of Judah was brought together in one pile and fired, the blaze would not throw a light so strong and high."

After that there was silence on the house-top, broken but once again while the mystery continued.

"Brethren!" exclaimed a Jew of venerable mien, "what we see is the ladder our father Jacob saw in his dream. Blessed be the Lord God of our fathers!"

(to be continued)


The Power of Positive Thinking

by Norman Vincent Peale

Chapter 3 continued

A famous statesman who made seven speeches in one day was still boundless in energy.

"Why are you not tired after making seven speeches?" I asked.

"Because," he said, "I believe absolutely in everything I said in those speeches. I am enthusiastic about my convictions."

That's the secret. He was on fire for something. He was pouring himself out, and you never lose energy and vitality in so doing. You only lose energy when life becomes dull in your mind. Your mind gets bored and therefore tired doing nothing. You don't have to be tired. 

Get interested in something. Get absolutely enthralled in something. Throw yourself into it with abandon. Get out of yourself. Be somebody. Do something. Don't sit around moaning about things, reading the papers, and saying, "Why don't they do something?" The man who is out doing something isn't tired.

If you're not getting into good causes, no wonder you're tired. You're disintegrating. You're deteriorating. You're dying on the vine. The more you lose yourself in something bigger than yourself, the more energy you will have. You don't have time to think about yourself and get bogged down in your emotional difficulties.

To live with constant energy it is important to get your emotional faults corrected. You will never have full energy until you do.

The late Knute Rockne, one of the greatest football coaches this country ever produced, said that a football player cannot have sufficient energy unless his emotions are under spiritual control. In fact, he went so far as to say that he would not have a man on his team who did not have a genuinely friendly feeling for every fellow player. "I have to get the most energy out of a man," he said, "and have discovered that it cannot be done if he hates another man. Hate blocks his energy and he isn't up to par until he eliminates it and develops a friendly feeling." People who lack energy are disorganized to one degree or another by their deep, fundamental emotional and psychological conflicts.

Sometimes the results of this disorganization are extreme, but healing is ever possible.

In a Midwestern city I was asked to talk with a man, formerly a very active citizen of that community, who had suffered an acute decline in vitality. It was thought by his associates that he had had a stroke. This impression was given by the shuffling manner in which he moved, by an extraordinary lethargic attitude, and by his complete detachment of himself from the activities to which he had formerly given a large portion of his time. He sat despondently in his chair hour after hour, and often he would weep. He exhibited many of the symptoms of a nervous breakdown.

I arranged to see him in my hotel room at a certain hour. My door was open and through it I could see the elevator. I chanced to be looking in that direction when the elevator door opened and this man came shuffling down the hall. It seemed that at any moment he would topple over, and he gave every evidence of scarcely being able to negotiate the distance. 

I asked him to be seated and engaged him in conversation, which conversation was rather fruitless, for it revealed little enlightenment because of his tendency to complain about his condition and his inability to give thoughtful consideration to my questions. This was apparently due to his enormous self-pity.

When I asked him if he would like to be well, he looked up at me in the most intense and pathetic manner. His desperation was revealed by his answer which was that he would give anything in the world if he could regain the energy and the interest in life which he formerly enjoyed.

I began to draw out of him certain facts regarding his life and experience. These were all of a very intimate nature and many of them so deeply imbedded in his consciousness that it was with the utmost difficulty that his personality yielded them up. 

They had to do with old infantile attitudes, fears that stemmed from earliest days, most ot them deriving from the mother-child relationship. Not a few guilt situations appeared. It seemed that over the course of the years these factors had accumulated like drifting sand across the channel of a river. The flow of power was gradually decreased so that an insufficient amount of  nergy was passing through. The man's mind was in such a complete state of retreating that a process ot reasoning and enlightenment seemed quite impossible.

I sought for guidance and found myself, quite to my surprise, standing beside him and placing my hand upon his head. I prayed, asking God to heal the man. I suddenly became aware of what seemed to be the passing of power through my hand which rested upon his head. 

I hasten to add that there is no healing power in my hand, but now and then a human being is used as a channel, and it was evidently so in this instance, for presently the man looked up with an expression of the utmost happiness and peace and he said simply, "He was here. He touched me. I feel entirely different."

From this time on his improvement was pronounced, and at the present time he is practically his old self again, except for the fact that he now possesses a quiet and serene confidence which was not present previously. Apparently the clogged channel in his personality through which the passage of power had been impeded was opened by an act of faith and the free flow of energy was renewed.

(to be continued)


Laughter The Best Medicine

THE HEALTH BENEFITS OF HUMOR AND LAUGHTER

Humor is infectious. The sound of roaring laughter is far more contagious than any cough, sniffle, or sneeze. When laughter is shared, it binds people together and increases happiness and intimacy. In addition to the domino effect of joy and amusement, laughter also triggers healthy physical changes in the body. Humor and laughter strengthen your immune system, boost your energy, diminish pain, and protect you from the damaging effects of stress. Best of all, this priceless medicine is fun, free, and easy to use.

Laughter is strong medicine for mind and body

Laughter is a powerful antidote to stress, pain, and conflict. Nothing works faster or more dependably to bring your mind and body back into balance than a good laugh. Humor lightens your burdens, inspires hopes, connects you to others, and keeps you grounded, focused, and alert.

With so much power to heal and renew, the ability to laugh easily and frequently is a tremendous resource for surmounting problems, enhancing your relationships, and supporting both physical and emotional health.


Just For Laughs

Good news and Bad news

A teen phoned her father at work for a chat on her new cell phone.

"Sorry, Darling," he said, "I'm really busy at the moment. I haven't got time to talk."

"Oh, this won't take long. It's just that I've got good news and bad news."

"Look," he repeated, "I really am busy. Just give me the good news!"

"Well," she said, "the air bag works."

 

 "Pun in Cheek" on Parenting

It now costs more to amuse a child than it once did to educate his father.

It rarely occurs to teenagers that the day will come when they'll know as little as their parents.

Money isn't everything, but it sure keeps the kids in touch.

Never lend your car to anyone to whom you have given birth.

You can learn many things from children ... like how much patience you have [or don't have].

Summer vacation is a time when parents realize that teachers are grossly underpaid.

The first sign of maturity is the discovery that the volume knob also turns to the left.

There are three ways to get things done: 1) do it yourself, 2) hire someone to do it, or 3) forbid your kids to do it.

Those who say they "sleep like a baby" haven't got one.

There would be fewer problems with children if they had to chop wood to keep the television set going.

The best thing to spend on your children is time.

   

Story Of The Week

Red Marbles

During the waning years of the depression in a small southeastern Idaho community, I used to stop by Brother Miller's roadside stand for farm fresh produce as the season made it available. Food and money were still extremely scarce and bartering was used extensively.

One particular day Brother Miller was bagging some new potatoes for me. I noticed a small boy, delicate of bone and feature, ragged but clean, hungrily apprising a basket of freshly picked green peas. I paid for my potatoes but was also drawn to the display of fresh green peas. I am a pushover for creamed peas and new potatoes.

Pondering the peas, I couldn't help overhearing the conversation between Brother Miller and the ragged boy next to me. "Hello Barry, how are you today?" "H'lo, Mr. Miller. Fine, thank ya. Jus' admirin' them peas.....sure look good." "They are good, Barry. How's your Ma?" "Fine. Gitt in' stronger alla' time." "Good.

Anything I can help you with?" "No, Sir. Jus' admirin' them peas." "Would you like to take some home?" "No, Sir. Got nuthin ' to pay for 'em with." "Well, what have you to trade me for some of those peas?" "All I got's my prize marble here." "Is that right? Let me see it". " Here 'tis." " She's a dandy. I can see that. Hmmmm, only thing is this one is blue and I sort of go for red. Do you have a red one like this at home?" "Not 'zackley.....but, almost." "Tell you what. Take this sack of peas home with you and next trip this way let me look at that red marble." "Sure will."

Mrs. Miller, who had been standing nearby, came over to help me. With a smile she said: "There are two other boys like him in our community,all three are in very poor circumstances. Jim just loves to bargain with them for peas, apples, tomatoes or whatever. When they come back with their red marbles, and they always do, he decides he doesn't like red after all and he sends them home with a bag of produce for a green marble or an orange one, perhaps."

I left the stand, smiling to myself, impressed with this man. A short time later I moved to Utah but I never forgot the story of this man,the boys and their bartering.

Several years went by each more rapid than the previous one. Just recently I had occasion to visit some old friends in that Idaho community and while I was there learned that Brother Miller had died.They were having his viewing that evening and knowing my friends wanted to go, I agreed to accompany them.

Upon our arrival at the mortuary we fell into line to meet the relatives of the deceased and to offer whatever words of comfort we could. Ahead of us in line were three young men. One was in an army uniform and the other two wore nice haircuts, dark suits and white shirts ...very professional looking.

They approached Mrs. Miller, standing smiling and composed, by her husband's casket. Each of the young men hugged her, kissed her on the cheek, spoke briefly with her and moved on to the casket. Her misty light blue eyes followed them as, one by one, each young man stopped briefly and placed his own warm hand over the cold pale hand in the casket. Each left the mortuary, awkwardly, wiping his eyes.

Our turn came to meet Mrs. Miller. I told her who I was and mentioned the story she had told me about the marbles. Eyes glistening she took my hand and led me to the casket. "Those three young men, that just left,were the boys I told you about. They just told me how they appreciated the things Jim 'traded' them.

Now, at last, when Jim could not change his mind about color or size...they came to pay their debt. "We've never had a great deal of the wealth of this world," she confided, "but, right now, Jim would consider himself the richest man in Idaho."

With loving gentleness she lifted the lifeless fingers of her deceased husband. Resting underneath were three, magnificently shiny, red marbles.

We will not be remembered by our words, but by our kind deeds. 

More stories like Red Marbles.

Did You Know ?

  • The blue whale can produce sounds up to 188 decibels. This is the loudest sound produced by a living animal and has been detected as far away as 530 miles.
  • Erosion at the base of Niagara Falls (USA) undermines the shale cliffs and as a result, the falls have receded approximately 7 miles over the last 10,000 years.
  • There are two credit cards for every person in the United States.
  • The Main Library at Indiana University sinks over an inch every year because when it was built engineers failed to take into account the weight of all the books that would occupy the building.
  • North Dakota has never had an earthquake.
  • Hawaii is moving toward Japan 4 inches every year.
  • The leg bones of a bat are so thin that no bat can walk.
  • If you keep a goldfish in the dark room, it will eventually turn white.
  • In England, the Speaker of the House is not allowed to speak.
  • Almonds are members of the peach family.


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