September 11, 2011

posted 9 Sep 2011, 03:00 by C S Paul   [ updated 9 Sep 2011, 23:47 ]

September 11, 2011

 

SERMON OF THE WEEK

Prepared by: Rev. Dr. V Kurian Thomas, Valiyaparambil

(Provided by K.Kuriakose)


Gospel Reading: (Mathew 5:38-48)

38 "You have heard that it was said, 'Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.'[a]

39 But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the     other  also.

 40 And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well.

41 If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles.

42 Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you

 43 "You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor[b] and hate your enemy.'

44 But I tell you: Loveyour enemies[c] and pray for those who persecute you,

45 That you may be sons of your  Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 

46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 

47 And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 

48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect."

Message: In the gospel we read in verse 38, Jesus says, "You have heard that it was said, "an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth", but I say to you, do not resist an evildoer. If anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other cheek also."

 In reality, the intent of "Eye for an eye"law was to restrict retaliation to the value of the loss. The literal meaning is that a person who has injured another is instructed to give equal  to the value of his loss in compensation. Its purpose was based on the principle to provide an equitable restitution for the offense.

 This principle of "eye for an eye, and tooth for a tooth" is a quotation from the passages in Leviticus 24:19-21,  Exodus 21:22-25, and Deuteronomy 19:21 in which a person who has injured another is instructed to give in equal value for the other person's loss in compensation. It was not intended as revenge, but only to implement strict justice. However, in some instances, unfortunately, it resulted in vengeance.

Jesus talks about this law, "Eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth," and asks for new interpretation. This saying of Jesus is frequently interpreted as criticisms of the Old testament teaching and often taken as implying this law encourages excessive retaliaation. 

In reality, the law was intended to restrict retaliation to the value of the loss.     Jesus says not to resist an evil person. If someone slaps you on the right cheek, offer the other cheek also. Jesus focuses on mercy. Going for revenge is, of course, part of human nature. It is self-centered and destructive at best in the sense that it desires to strike at another person to gain self satisfaction. If one takes out vengeance on another through litigation or retaliation, the other person will eventually end up ruling the litigant's life. Justice might be served but the litigant's life would become much more miserable later because he will be thinking about new ways to get even with the other person who will exercise more control over the litigant even without any  personal contacts. If the litigant could let it go, then he would become much happier and become much easier to talk to.

Jesus is saying that we don't have to take the law to its limits in order to get even. Jesus says we should see the law from the standpoint of wanting to exercise mercy rather than vengeance. God chooses mercy over vengeance. Taking someone to court could end up misery on us later on. Jesus asks us to bring something good out of a bad situation. If possible, offer mercy and forgiveness.

 1 Peter 3:9 repeats this principle. "Don't repay evil with evil, or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing."

 Going an extra mile of forgiveness is not at all difficult when we can see the benefit it has for us. Instead of exercising bitterness or resentment and then spending the entire life griping, complaining and employing ourselves in self-pity is not worth it. Instead, we can enjoy the privilege of being able to serve others better or do better things for others by exercicing mercy and forgiveness. 

 Just because we have the right to retaliate doesn't mean we have to engage in that process. Let's pray to God to help us focus our life on mercy. Relationships are more important than keeping our rights. Let's help ourselves to do everything we can to find agreement first and always .          

             

Title: 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.

CHAPTER III 

To speak in the style of the period, the meeting just described took place in the year of Rome 747. The month was December, and winter reigned over all the regions east of the Mediterranean. Such as ride upon the desert in this season go not far until smitten with a keen appetite. The company under the little tent were not exceptions to the rule. They were hungry, and ate heartily; and, after the wine, they talked.

"To a wayfarer in a strange land nothing is so sweet as to hear his name on the tongue of a friend," said the Egyptian, who assumed to be president of the repast. "Before us lie many days of companionship. It is time we knew each other. So, if it be agreeable, he who came last shall be first to speak."

Then, slowly at first, like one watchful of himself, the Greek began:

"What I have to tell, my brethren, is so strange that I hardly know where to begin or what I may with propriety speak. I do not yet understand myself. The most I am sure of is that I am doing a Master's will, and that the service is a constant ecstasy. When I think of the purpose I am sent to fulfil, there is in me a joy so inexpressible that I know the will is God's."

The good man paused, unable to proceed, while the others, in sympathy with his feelings, dropped their gaze.

"Far to the west of this," he began again, "there is a land which may never be forgotten; if only because the world is too much its debtor, and because the indebtedness is for things that bring to men their purest pleasures. I will say nothing of the arts, nothing of philosophy, of eloquence, of poetry, of war: O my brethren, hers is the glory which must shine forever in perfected letters, by which He we go to find and proclaim will be made known to all the earth. The land I speak of is Greece. I am Gaspar, son of Cleanthes the Athenian.

"My people," he continued, "were given wholly to study, and from them I derived the same passion. It happens that two of our philosophers, the very greatest of the many, teach, one the doctrine of a Soul in every man, and its Immortality; the other the doctrine of One God, infinitely just. From the multitude of subjects about which the schools were disputing, I separated them, as alone worth the labor of solution; for I thought there was a relation between God and the soul as yet unknown. On this theme the mind can reason to a point, a dead, impassable wall; arrived there, all that remains is to stand and cry aloud for help. So I did; but no voice came to me over the wall. In despair, I tore myself from the cities and the

schools."

At these words a grave smile of approval lighted the gaunt face of the Hindoo.

"In the northern part of my country--in Thessaly," the Greek proceeded to say, "there is a mountain famous as the home of the gods, where Theus, whom my countrymen believe supreme, has his abode; Olympus is its name. Thither I betook myself. I found a cave in a hill where the mountain, coming from the west, bends to the southeast; there I dwelt, giving myself up to meditation--no, I gave myself up to waiting for what every breath was a prayer--for revelation. Believing in God, invisible yet supreme, I also believed it possible so to yearn for him with all my soul that he would take compassion and give me answer."

"And he did--he did!" exclaimed the Hindoo, lifting his hands from the silken cloth upon his lap.

"Hear me, brethren," said the Greek, calming himself with an effort. "The door of my hermitage looks over an arm of the sea, over the Thermaic Gulf. One day I saw a man flung overboard from a ship sailing by. He swam ashore. I received and took care of him. He was a Jew, learned in the history and laws of his people; and from him I came to know that the God of my prayers did indeed exist; and had been for ages their lawmaker, ruler, and king.

What was that but the Revelation I dreamed of? My faith had not been fruitless; God answered me!"

"As he does all who cry to him with such faith," said the Hindoo.

"But, alas!" the Egyptian added, "how few are there wise enough to know when he answers them!"

"That was not all," the Greek continued. "The man so sent to me told me more. He said the prophets who, in the ages which followed the first revelation, walked and talked with God, declared he would come again. He gave me the names of the prophets, and from the sacred books quoted their very language. He told me, further, that the second coming was at hand--was looked for momentarily in Jerusalem."

The Greek paused, and the brightness of his countenance faded.

"It is true," he said, after a little--"it is true the man told me that as God and the revelation of which he spoke had been for the Jews alone, so it would be again. He that was to come should be King of the Jews. 'Had he nothing for the rest of the world?' I asked. 'No,' was the answer, given in a proud voice--'No, we are his chosen people.' The answer did not crush my hope. Why should such a God limit his love and benefaction to one land, and, as it were, to one family? I set my heart upon knowing. At last I broke through the man's pride, and found that his fathers had been merely chosen servants to keep the Truth alive, that the world might at last know it and be saved. When the Jew was gone, and I was alone again, I

chastened my soul with a new prayer--that I might be permitted to see the King when he was come, and worship him. One night I sat by the door of my cave trying to get nearer the mysteries of my existence, knowing which is to know God; suddenly, on the sea below me, or rather in the darkness that covered its face, I saw a star begin to burn; slowly it arose and drew nigh, and stood over the hill and above my door, so that its light shone full upon me. I fell down, and slept, and in my dream I heard a voice say:

"'O Gaspar! Thy faith hath conquered! Blessed art thou! With two others, come from the uttermost parts of the earth, thou shalt see Him that is promised, and be a witness for him, and the occasion of testimony in his behalf. In the morning arise, and go meet them, and keep trust in the Spirit that shall guide thee.'

"And in the morning I awoke with the Spirit as a light within me surpassing that of the sun. I put off my hermit's garb, and dressed myself as of old. From a hiding-place I took the treasure which I had brought from the city. A ship went sailing past. I hailed it, was taken aboard, and landed at Antioch. There I bought the camel and his furniture. Through the gardens and orchards that enamel the banks of the Orontes, I journeyed to Emesa, Damascus, Bostra, and Philadelphia; thence hither. And so, O brethren, you have my story. Let me now listen to you."


The Power of Positive Thinking

by Norman Vincent Peale

Chapter I (Continued)

Lack of self-confidence apparently is one of the great problems besetting people today. In a university a survey was made of six hundred students in psychology courses. The students were asked to state their most difficult personal problem. Seventy-five percent listed lack of confidence. It can safely be assumed that the same large proportion is true of the population generally.

Everywhere you encounter people who are inwardly afraid, who shrink from life, who suffer  from a deep sense of inadequacy and insecurity, who doubt their own powers. Deep within  themselves they mistrust their ability to meet responsibilities or to grasp opportunities.

Always they are beset by the vague and sinister fear that something is not going to be quite right. They do not believe that they have it in them to be what they want to be, and so they try to make themselves content with something less than that of which they are capable.

Thousands upon thousands go crawling through life on theirhands and knees, defeated and afraid. And in most cases such frustration of power is unnecessary. The blows of life, the accumulation of difficulties, the multiplication of problems tend to sap energy and leave you spent and discouraged. In such a condition the true status of your power is often obscured, and a person yields to a discouragement that is not justified by the facts. It is vitally essential  to re-appraise your personality assets. When done in an attitude of reasonableness, this evaluation will convince you that you are less defeated than you think you are.

 For example, a man fifty-two years of age consulted me. He was in great despondency. He revealed utter despair. He said he "was all through." He informed me that everything he had built up over his lifetime had been swept away.

"Everything?" I asked.

"Everything," he repeated. He was through, he reiterated.

"I have nothing left at all. Everything is gone. There is no hope, and I am too old to start all over again. I have lost all faith."

Naturally I felt sympathetic toward him, but it was evident that his chief trouble was the fact that dark shadows of hopelessness had entered his mind and discolored his outlook, distorting it. Behind this wisted thinking his true powers had retreated, leaving him without force.

 

"So," I said, "suppose we take a piece of paper and write down the values you have left."

"There's no use," he sighed. "I haven't a single thing left. I thought I told you that."

I said, "Let's just see anyway." Then asked, "Is your wife still with you?"

"Why, yes, of course, and she is wonderful. We have been married for thirty years. She would never leave me no matter how bad things are."

"All right, let us put that down—your wife is still with you and she will never leave you no matter what happens. How about your children? Got any children?"

"Yes," he replied, "I have three and they are certainly wonderful. I have been touched by the way they have come to me and said, 'Dad, we love you, and we'll stand by you.' "

"Well, then," I said, "that is number two—three children who love you and who will stand by you. Got any friends?" I asked.

"Yes," he said, "I really have some fine friends. I must admit they have been pretty decent.

They have come around and said they would like to help me, but what can they do? They can't do anything."

"That is number three—you have some friends who would like to help you and who hold you in esteem. How about your integrity? Have you done anything wrong?"

"My integrity is all right," he replied. "I have always tried to do the right thing and my  conscience is clear."

"All right," I said, "we will put that down as number four— integrity. How about your health?"

"My health is all right," he answered. "I have had very few sick days and I guess I am in pretty good shape physically."

"So let's put down as number five—good physical health. How about the United States? Do you think it's still doing business and is the land of opportunity?"

"Yes," he said. "It is the only country in the world I would want to live in."

"That is number six—you live in the United States, land of opportunity, and you are glad to be here." Then I asked,

"How about your religious faith? Do you believe in God and that God will help you?"

"Yes," he said. "I do not think I could have gotten through this at all if I hadn't had some help from God."

"Now," I said, "let's list the assets we have figured out:

"1. A wonderful wife—married for thirty years.

 "2. Three devoted children who will stand by you.

"3. Friends who will help you and who hold you in esteem.

"4. Integrity—nothing to be ashamed of.

"5. Good physical health.

"6. Live in the United States, the greatest country in the world.

"7. Have religious faith."

I shoved it across the table at him. "Take a look at that. I guess you have quite a total of assets. I thought you told me everything had been swept away."

He grinned ashamedly. "I guess I didn't think of those things. I never thought of it that way. Perhaps things aren't so bad at that," he said pensively. "Maybe I can start all over again if I can just get some confidence, if I can get the feel of some power within me."

Well, he got it, and he did start all over again. But he did so only when he changed his viewpoint, his mental attitude. Faith swept away his doubts, and more than enough power to overcome all his difficulties emerged from within him. This incident illustrates a profound truth which is expressed in a very important statement made by the famous psychiatrist, Dr. Karl Menninger. He said, "Attitudes are more important than facts." That is worth repeating  until its truth grips you. Any fact facing us, however difficult, even seemingly hopeless, is not so important as our attitude toward that fact. How you think about a fact may defeat you before you ever do anything about it. You may permit a fact to overwhelm you mentally before you start to deal with it actually. On the other hand, a confident and optimistic thought pattern can modify or overcome the fact altogether. I know a man who is a tremendous asset to his organization, not because of any extraordinary ability, but because he invariably demonstrates a triumphant thought pattern.

 

Did You Know ?

·         An eagle can kill a young deer and fly away with it.

·         In the Caribbean there are oysters that can climb trees.

·         Intelligent people have more zinc and copper in their hair.

·         Mark Twain didn't graduate from elementary school.

·         Pilgrims ate popcorn at the first Thanksgiving dinner.

·         They have square watermelons in Japan - they stack better.

·         Iceland consumes more Coca-Cola per capita than any other nation.

·         The first Fords had engines made by Dodge.

·         A mole can dig a tunnel 300 feet long in just one night.

·         Peanuts are one of the ingredients in dynamite.

 

Just for laughs.

Oxymorons

* wise fool

* only choice

* jumbo shrimp

* almost exactly

* same difference

* pretty ugly

* definite maybe

* original copy

* found missing

 

Story of the week

The Enemy's Perfect Plan

Author Unknown

Let's not allow the enemy to distract us...

Satan called a worldwide convention. In his opening address to his evil angels, he said, "We can't keep Christians from going to church. We can't keep them from reading their Bibles and knowing the truth. We can't even keep them from conservative values. But we can do something else. We can keep them from forming an intimate, abiding relationship experience in Christ. If they gain that connection with Jesus, our power over them is broken. So let them go to church, let them have their conservative lifestyles, but steal their time, so they can't gain that experience in Jesus Christ. This is what I want you to do, angels. Distract them from gaining hold of their Savior and maintaining that vital connection throughout their day!"

"How shall we do this?" shouted his angels.

"Keep them busy in the nonessentials of life and invent unnumbered schemes to occupy their minds" he answered. "Tempt them to spend, spend, spend then borrow, borrow, borrow. Convince the wives to go to work for long hours and the husbands to work six or seven days a week, ten to twelve hours a day so they can afford their lifestyles. Keep them from spending time with their children. As their family fragments, soon their homes will offer no escape from the pressures of work."

"Over stimulate their minds so that they cannot hear that still small voice. Entice them to play the radio or cassette player whenever they drive, to keep the TV, VCR, CD's and their PC's going constantly in their homes. And see to it that every store and restaurant in the world plays non-biblical music constantly. This will jam their minds and break that union with Christ."

Fill their coffee tables with magazines and newspapers. Pound their minds with news 24 hours a day. Invade their driving moments with billboards. Flood their mailboxes with junk mail, sweepstakes, mail order catalogues, and every kind of newsletter and promotional offering, free products, services and false hopes."

"Even in their recreation, let them be excessive. Have them return from their recreation exhausted, disquieted, and unprepared for the coming week. Don't let them go out in nature to reflect on God's wonders. Send them to amusement parks, sporting events, concerts and movies instead. And when they meet for spiritual fellowship, involve them in gossip and small talk so that they leave with troubled consciences and unsettled emotion."

"Let them be involved in soul-winning. But crowd their lives with so many good causes they have no time to seek power from Christ. Soon they will be working in their own strength, sacrificing their health and family unity for the good of the cause."

It was quite a convention in the end. And the evil angels went eagerly to their assignments causing Christians everywhere to get busy, busy, busy and rush here and there.

Has the devil been successful at his schemes? You be the judge.

 

 


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