September 25, 2011

posted 23 Sep 2011, 07:28 by C S Paul   [ updated 24 Sep 2011, 00:06 ]

September 25, 2011


SERMON OF THE WEEK

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

(Provided by K.Kuriakose)

This Sunday is the 2nd Sunday after Sleebo. The gospel  reading for Sunday is from Matthew 16:5-12.

 Theme: "Beware of the leaven (yeast) of the Pharisees and  Sadducees."

Scripture: (Mathew 16:5-12)

 5.When they went across the lake, the disciples forgot to take bread. 

6."Be careful," Jesus said to them. "Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees."

7.They discussed this among themselves and said, "It is because we didn't bring any bread." 

8.Aware of their discussion, Jesus asked, "You of little faith, why are you talking among yourselves about  having no bread?

9.Do you still not understand? Don't you remember the five loaves for the five thousand, and how many     basketful's you gathered?

10.Or the seven loaves for the four  thousand, and how many basketful's you gathered?

11.How is it you don't understand that I was not talking to you about bread? But be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees."

12.Then they understood that he was not telling them to guard against the yeast used in bread, but against the  teaching of the Pharisees and Sadduces.

Message: There is an important command of Jesus Christ found  in today's gospel in verse 6. Jesus said, "Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees. The command is  again repeated in verse 11 where it reads, "How is it you don't  understand that I did not speak to you concerning bread? - but  beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees."

Let's consider this command by asking and answering a series of questions:

First, "What is leaven?" Leaven (or yeast) is a powerful fungus that can cause a hump of dough  to rise into bread, ferment liquids into alcohol , or cause painful infections.  It causes fermentation and make bread rise before baking. For people living in the New Testament age, the way  to reproduce yeast was to save a small piece of the unbaked dough, which would later be used to start fermentation in the next batch of bread.

Second, "What does the Bible say about Leaven?" Like a small piece of yeast is able to cause a relatively large amount of dough to rise, the term here is used figuratively to  represent bad influence.

Third, "What is the Leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees?" It is against the doctrine of the Pharisess and Sadducees that Jesus warns his disciples. He calls their teaching "yeast" because of the potential of affecting not only their own lives but everyone that they come in contact with. The doctrine of the Pharisees and Sadducees contained a mixture of God's truth and man's traditions. The danger of the yeast is that when spread, it will quickly affect the thought process of individuals that could corrupt their hearts and minds away from the true meaning of God's words and commandments.

The very nature of leaven is that even a small portion of it will permeate an entire batch. This is the warning that Jesus gives and uses leaven (yeast) as a symbol of sin. 

       

Title: Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ 

Author: Lew Wallace

(CONTINUED)

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 V

The vivacious Greek broke forth in expressions of joy and congratulations; after which the Egyptian said, with characteristic gravity: "I salute you, my brother. You have suffered much, and I rejoice in your triumph. If you are both pleased to hear me, I will now tell you who I am, and how I came to be called. Wait for me a moment."

He went out and tended the camels; coming back, he resumed his seat.

"Your words, brethren, were of the Spirit," he said, in commencement; "and the Spirit gives me to understand them. You each spoke particularly of your countries; in that there was a great object, which I will explain; but to make the interpretation complete, let me first speak of myself and my people. I am Balthasar the Egyptian."

The last words were spoken quietly, but with so much dignity that both listeners bowed to the speaker.

"There are many distinctions I might claim for my race," he continued;

"but I will content myself with one. History began with us. We were the first to perpetuate events by records kept. So we have no traditions; and instead of poetry, we offer you certainty. On the facades of palaces and temples, on obelisks, on the inner walls of tombs,we wrote the names of our kings, and what they did; and to the delicate papyri we intrusted the wisdom of our philosophers and the secrets of our religion--all the secrets but one, whereof I will presently speak. Older than the Vedas of Para-Brahm or the Up-Angas of Vyasa, O Melchior; older than the songs of Homer or the metaphysics of Plato, O my Gaspar; older than the sacred books or kings of the people of China, or those of Siddartha,

son of the beautiful Maya; older than the Genesis of Mosche the Hebrew--oldest of human records are the writings of Menes, our first king." Pausing an instant, he fixed his large eves kindly upon the Greek, saying, "In the youth of Hellas, who, O Gaspar, were the teachers of her teachers?"

The Greek bowed, smiling.

"By those records," Balthasar continued, "we know that when the fathers came from the far East, from the region of the birth of the three sacred rivers, from the centre of the earth--the Old Iran of which you spoke, O Melchior--came bringing with them the history of the world before the Flood, and of the Flood itself, as given to the Aryans by the sons of Noah, they taught God, the Creator and the Beginning, and the Soul, deathless as God. When the duty which calls us now is happily done, if you choose to go with me, I will show you the sacred library of our priesthood; among others, the Book of the Dead, in which is the ritual to be observed by the soul after Death has despatched it on its journey to judgment.

The ideas--God and the Immortal Soul--were borne to Mizraim over the desert, and by him to the banks of the Nile. They were then in their purity, easy of understanding, as what God intends for our happiness always is; so, also, was the first worship--a song and a prayer natural to a soul joyous, hopeful, and in love with its Maker."

Here the Greek threw up his hands, exclaiming, "Oh! the light deepens within me!"

"And in me!" said the Hindoo, with equal fervor.

The Egyptian regarded them benignantly, then went on, saying, "Religion is merely the law which binds man to his Creator: in purity it has but these elements--God, the Soul, and their Mutual Recognition; out of which, when put in practise, spring Worship, Love, and Reward. This law, like all others of divine origin--like that, for instance, which binds the earth to the sun--was perfected in the beginning by its Author. Such, my brothers, was the religion of the first family; such was the religion of our father Mizraim, who could not have been blind to the formula of creation, nowhere so discernible as in the first faith and the earliest worship. Perfection is God; simplicity is perfection. The curse of curses is that men will not let truths like these alone."

He stopped, as if considering in what manner to continue.

"Many nations have loved the sweet waters of the Nile," he said next; "the Ethiopian, the Pali-Putra, the Hebrew, the Assyrian, the Persian, the Macedonian, the Roman--of whom all, except the Hebrew, have at one time or another been its masters. So much coming and going of peoples corrupted the old Mizraimic faith.

The Valley of Palms became a Valley of Gods. The Supreme

One was divided into eight, each personating a creative principle in nature, with Ammon-Re at the head. Then Isis and Osiris, and their circle, representing water, fire, air, and other forces, were invented.

Still the multiplication went on until we had another order, suggested by human qualities, such as strength, knowledge, love, and the like."

"In all which there was the old folly!" cried the Greek, impulsively. "Only the things out of reach remain as they came to us."

The Egyptian bowed, and proceeded:

"Yet a little further, O my brethren, a little further, before I come to myself. What we go to will seem all the holier of comparison with what is and has been. The records show that Mizraim found the Nile in possession of the Ethiopians, who were spread thence through the African desert; a people of rich, fantastic genius, wholly given to the worship of nature. The Poetic Persian sacrificed to the sun, as the completest image of Ormuzd, his God; the devout children of the far East carved their deities out of wood and ivory; but the Ethiopian, without writing, without books, without mechanical faculty of any kind, quieted his soul by the worship of animals, birds, and insects, holding the cat sacred to Re, the bull to Isis, the beetle to Pthah.

A long struggle against their rude faith ended in its adoption as the religion of the new empire.

Then rose the mighty monuments that cumber the river-bank and the desert--obelisk, labyrinth, pyramid, and tomb of king, blent with tomb of crocodile. Into such deep debasement, O brethren, the sons of the Aryan fell!"

Here, for the first time, the calmness of the Egyptian forsook him: though his countenance remained impassive, his voice gave way.

"Do not too much despise my countrymen," he began again.

"They did not all forget God. I said awhile ago, you may remember, that to papyri we entrusted all the secrets of our religion except one; of that I will now tell you. We had as king once a certain Pharaoh, who lent himself to all manner of changes and additions.

To establish the new system, he strove to drive the old entirely out of mind. The Hebrews then dwelt with us as slaves. They clung to their God; and when the persecution became intolerable, they were delivered in a manner never to be forgotten. I speak from the records now. Mosche, himself a Hebrew, came to the palace, and demanded permission for the slaves, then millions in number, to leave the country. The demand was in the name of the Lord God of Israel. Pharaoh refused. Hear what followed. First, all the water, that in the lakes and rivers, like that in the wells and vessels, turned to blood. Yet the monarch refused. Then frogs came up and covered all the land. Still he was firm. Then Mosche threw ashes in the air, and a plague attacked the Egyptians. Next, all the cattle, except of the Hebrews, were struck dead. Locusts devoured the green things of the valley. At noon the day was turned into a darkness so thick that lamps would not burn. Finally, in the night all the first-born of the Egyptians died; not even Pharaoh's escaped.

Then he yielded. But when the Hebrews were gone he followed them with his army. At the last moment the sea was divided, so that the fugitives passed it dry-shod. When the pursuers drove in after them, the waves rushed back and drowned horse, foot, charioteers, and king.

You spoke of revelation, my Gaspar--"

The blue eyes of the Greek sparkled.

"I had the story from the Jew," he cried. "You confirm it, O Balthasar!"

"Yes, but through me Egypt speaks, not Mosche. I interpret the marbles. The priests of that time wrote in their way what they witnessed, and the revelation has lived. So I come to the one unrecorded secret. In my country, brethren, we have, from the day of the unfortunate Pharaoh, always had two religions—one private, the other public; one of many gods, practised by the people; the other of one God, cherished only by the priesthood.

Rejoice with me, O brothers! All the trampling by the many nations, all the harrowing by kings, all the inventions of enemies, all the changes of time, have been in vain. Like a seed under the mountains waiting its hour, the glorious Truth has lived; and this--this is its day!"

The wasted frame of the Hindoo trembled with delight, and the Greek cried aloud, "It seems to me the very desert is singing."

From a gurglet of water near-by the Egyptian took a draught, and proceeded:

Part One Chapter V -to be continued


The Power of Positive Thinking

by Norman Vincent Peale

(CONTINUED)

Chapter 2

A Peaceful Mind Generates Power

AT BREAKFAST IN A HOTEL dining room three of us tell to discussing how well we had slept the night before, a truly momentous topic. One man complained of a sleepless night.

He had tossed and turned and was about as exhausted as when he retired. "Guess I'd better stop listening to the news before going to bed," he observed. "I tuned in last night and sure got an ear full of trouble."

That is quite a phrase, "an ear full of trouble." Little wonder he had a disturbed night. "Maybe the coffee I drank before retiring had something to do with it," he mused.

The other man spoke up, "As for me, I had a grand night. I got my news from the evening paper and from an early broadcast and had a chance to digest it before I went to sleep.

Of course," he continued, "I used my go-to-sleep plan which never fails to work."

I prodded him for his plan, which he explained as follows:

"When I was a boy, my father, a farmer, had the habit of gathering the family in the parlor at bedtime and he read to us out of the Bible. I can hear him yet. In fact, every time I hear those Bible verses I always seem to hear them in the tone of my father's voice. After prayers, I would go up to my room and sleep like a top. But when I left home I got away from the Bible reading and prayer habit.

"I must admit that for years practically the only time I ever prayed was when I got into a jam. But some months ago my wife and I, having a number of difficult problems, decided we would try it again. We found it a very helpful practice, so now every night before going to bed she and I together read the Bible and have a little session of prayer. I don't know  what there is about it, but I have been sleeping better and things have improved all down the line. In fact, I find it so helpful that even out on the road, as I am now, I still read the Bible and pray. Last night I got into bed and read the 23rd Psalm. I read it out loud and it did me a lot of good."

He turned to the other man and said, "I didn't go to bed with an ear full of trouble. I went to sleep with a mind full of peace."

Well, there are two cryptic phrases for you—"an ear full of trouble" and "a mind full of peace." Which do you choose?

The essence of the secret lies in a change of mental attitude.

One must learn to live on a different thought basis, and even though thought change requires effort, it is much easier than to continue living as you are. The life of strain is difficult.

The life of inner peace, being harmonious and without stress, is the easiest type of existence. The chief struggle then in gaining mental peace is the effort of revamping your thinking to the relaxed attitude of acceptance of God's gift of peace.

As an illustration of taking a relaxed attitude and therefore receiving peace, I always think of an experience in a certain city where I lectured one evening. Prior to going on the platform I was sitting backstage going over my speech when a man approached and wanted to discuss a personal problem.

I informed him that at the moment it was impossible to talk as I was just about to be introduced, and asked him to wait.

While speaking I noticed him in the wings nervously pacing up and down, but afterward he was nowhere about. However, he had given me his card, which indicated that he was a man of considerable influence in that city.

Back at my hotel, although it was late, I was still troubled by this man so I telephoned him. He was surprised at my call and explained that he did not wait because obviously I was busy. "I just wanted you to pray with me," he said. "I thought if you would pray with me, perhaps I could get some peace."

"There is nothing to prevent us from praying together on the telephone right now," I said.

Somewhat in surprise, he replied, "I have never heard of praying on the telephone."

"Why not?" I asked. "A telephone is simply a gadget of communication. You are some blocks from me, but by means of the telephone we are together. Besides," I continued, "the Lord is with each of us. He is at both ends of this line and in between. He is with you and He is with me."

"All right," he conceded. "I'd like to have you pray for me."

So I closed my eyes and prayed for the man over the telephone, and I prayed just as though we were in the same room. He could hear and the Lord could hear. When I finished I suggested, "Won't you pray?" There was no response. Then at the other end of the line I heard sobbing and finally, "I can't talk," he said.

"Go on and cry for a minute or two and then pray," I suggested. "Simply tell the Lord everything that is bothering you. I assume this is a private line, but if not, and if anybody is listening, it won't matter. As far as anyone is concerned, we are just a couple of voices. Nobody would know it is you and I."

Thus encouraged, he started to pray, hesitantly at first, and then with great impetuosity he poured out his heart, and it was filled with hate, frustration, failure—a mass of it. Finally he prayed plaintively, "Dear Jesus, I have a lot of nerve to ask you to do anything for me, because I never did anything for you. I guess you know what a no-account I am, even though I put on a big front. I am sick of all this, dear Jesus. Please help me."

So I prayed again, and asked the Lord to answer his prayer, then said, "Lord, at the other end of the telephone wire, place your hand on my friend and give him peace. Help him now to yield himself and accept your gift of peace." Then I stopped, and there was a rather long pause, and I shall never forget the tone in his voice as I heard him say, "I shall always remember this experience, and I want you to know that for the first time in months I feel clean inside and happy and peaceful." This man employed a simple technique for having a peaceful mind. He emptied his mind and he received peace as a gift from God.

(to be continued)

 

Just for Laughs

 The merits of Drinking

At a downtown mission one evening the minister was preaching a sermon on the evils of drinking. To illustrate the point he put two glasses on the pulpit. The first glass he filled with water, the second glass he filled with a very good bourbon whiskey. Then he dropped a healthy earthworm into the glass of water.

Immediately the worm started to swim around. Then he took the worm and dropped it into the glass of whiskey. Immediately the worm shriveled up and died.

The minister asked the congregation of drifters, "What does this prove to you?" Immediatley an old drunk enthusiasticly raised his hand and said, "Preacher, if you drink good whiskey, you won't get worms."

  

Did you know ?

  • In space, astronauts cannot cry, because there is no gravity, so the tears can't flow.
  • Over 1,000 birds a year die from smashing into windows.
  • Slugs have 4 noses.
  • Owls are the only birds who can see the color blue.
  • The average American drinks about 600 sodas a year.
  • It's against the law to slam your car door in Switzerland.
  • A company in Taiwan makes dinnerware out of wheat, so you can eat your plate.
  • The elephant is the only mammal that can't jump.
  • Newborn babies are given to the wrong mother in the hospital 12 times a day worldwide.

 

Story of the Week

God and the Spider

During the War, a US marine was separated from his unit.  The fighting had been intense, and in the smoke and the crossfire he had lost touch with his comrades.

Alone in the hills, he could hear enemy soldiers coming in his direction. Scrambling for cover, he found his way up a high ridge to several small caves in the rock. Quickly he crawled inside one of the caves. Although safe for the moment, he realized that once the enemy soldiers looking for him swept up the ridge, they would quickly search all the caves and he would be killed.

As he waited, he prayed, "Lord, if it be your will, please protect me. Whatever your will though, I love you and trust you. Amen."

After praying, he lay quietly listening to the enemy begin to draw close. He thought, "Well, I guess the Lord isn't going to help me out of this one.." Then he saw a spider begin to build a web over the front of his cave.

As he watched, listening to the enemy searching for him all the while, the spider layered strand after strand of web across the opening of the cave.

"Ha, he thought. "What I need is a brick wall and what the Lord has sent me is a spider web.

God does have a sense of humor."

As the enemy drew closer he watched from the darkness of his hideout and could see them searching one cave after another. As they came to his, he got ready to make his last stand. To his amazement, however, after glancing in the direction of his cave, they moved on.

Suddenly, he realized that with the spider web over the entrance, his cave looked as if no one had entered for quite a while. "Lord, forgive me," prayed the young man. "I had forgotten that in you a spider's web is stronger than a brick wall."

We all face times of great trouble. When we do, it is so easy to forget the victories that God would work in our lives, sometimes in the most surprising ways. As the great leader, Nehemiah,reminded the people of Israel when they faced the task of rebuilding Jerusalem,

"In God we will have success!" [Nehemiah 2:20] 

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