In rejecting Jesus as the Messianic King, the Jewish leaders proved that they did not understand the very scriptures they were reading and teaching others. Satan had blinded their eyes in the name of religion and in their efforts to hold on to their traditions, they failed to accept the greatest Gift from God. Jesus wanted to highlight His rejection to prepare the disciples for the persecution that was coming their way.
When watching a nature documentary we realise that even though big cats like lions and tigers are ferocious killing machines, their hunts are usually covert operations. A tiger uses its skin pigmentation to hides among the tall grasses and patiently waits for its hunt. Watching a pack of deers enter its field of vision, would be a mouth-watering prospect for sure, but it still waits for the deer to be separated from its group. Only when the deer is alone perhaps drinking water with its back turned does the tiger pounces on its prey. For an animal who is starving for the flesh, it still knows how to pick the opportune moment. Similarly, satan who is desperate for our soul knows when to stay silent and when to attack. When we feel disconnected from God, satan takes advantage of our situation and tries to separate us from God. He does not have to do much but uses the compassion of our father to sow seeds of doubt in our minds. The same compassion that has sustained us for all our lives, he seeks to use against us. The Pharisees had Jesus cornered and had home-field advantage. All they had to do was just remain silent till Jesus showed His compassionate heart. Then they would pounce on him with a flurry of accusations that will sow seeds of doubts in the hearts of His followers, leaving Jesus vulnerable and be caught by them.
Usually, we ask this kind of question, “how then can you say to me?” to a person who has levied some wild accusation against us. It is not a question but an answer to a baseless argument. The aggressive form of this question is “How dare you say that to me”. It conveys the meaning that the other person knows nothing about us. When Jesus prayed to His Father to forgive His killers, He prayed that they do not know what they were doing because they neither know me nor my authority. In a situation like a betrayal, we ask God that how could they do it to us. The simple answer is they did not know that we are His child. Often, we torment ourselves because we fail to remember that we are His children.
Faith can work wonders and bring us even the unexpected. The men had brought their friend to Jesus to make his life on earth easier but by forgiving his sins, Jesus made his eternity better. Jesus knows the heart and he knew what was in the paralyzed man’s heart. When someone around us gets blessed, we try to equate their past actions and try to justify their path to their blessing not knowing anything about their relationship with God. People would have written off the paralysed man as a sinner but Jesus forgave his sins as He looks at the heart. Do we realise that Jesus knows the ins and outs of our hearts, or is our spirit paralysed to not even feel the presence of the Creator in our lives?
The past year has pushed everyone to experience a different lifestyle of working from home, leaving aside the hassles of getting ready on time and travelling a long way in traffic. Initially, people found it difficult because of their lifelong habit of coming to the office.
The people of Corinth had started corrupting the greatest temple of the Lord, their own bodies and Paul sought to make them realize the gravity of their actions.
Although the other Gospel writers, place the arrest of John the Baptist much later, Mark starts his account of Jesus’s ministry after John had been put in prison. On hearing about the arrest of John, Jesus proclaims to His followers that the time has come. The political leaders of Israel were cognizant of the role that the chief priests, Rabbis and even prophets played in keeping the peace. Throughout the Gospel, we read how the Pharisees wanted to prevent an uprising, the very reason they gave to put Jesus on the cross. But the imprisonment of John, a prominent prophet who had a lot of followers from the Judean countryside meant that the government officials were ready to capture and execute the previously protected group of the Jewish leaders. According to them Jesus also fell into that group and coupled with the fact that He was traveling with anarchists within His disciples, made it easier for them to execute Him. This would still happen a couple of years later but Jesus knowing all this told His disciples beforehand.
In 1994, UNESCO earmarked 5th October as World Teachers’ Day to garner attention on the profession and the welfare of those who have dedicated their lives to the teaching profession. The main motive of these celebrations is promoting the idea of “Education for All.” Similarly, every child of God is responsible for spreading the Good…
While the accounts of Luke and Matthew tried to capture the early years of Jesus, Mark jumps starts his version from the start of Jesus’s ministry. Since Mark only knew what he heard in the sermons of Peter, Paul and the other apostles, his account seems like a fast-tracked version of Jesus’s ministry. His Gospel often does not match with the chronology followed by the other writers and focuses only on revealing the identity of Jesus as the Messiah and not so much on the minor details that are included in other accounts. Amidst the impending persecution of the Roman churches, Mark’s theme for the Gospel seems to be that Jesus is the Son of God, the Messiah who did not come to overturn the Roman government but to restore the bridge between humanity and God, by humble dying on the cross.
God loves all of us unconditionally, and those who rely upon the conditional love as defined by laws and its regulations are sustained by His grace till they experience the unconditional love of God.
The modern world runs on the philosophy which states that we should never settle for anything less than what we deserve. That’s the motto of every tech company as well as what they higlight when launching their ‘new and improved’ version of the same device, hoping to make an impression on their potential consumers. In the corporate world, attaining a level of satisfaction is labelled as complacency.
While we pray for our protection and blessings, we often forget to pray for the oppressed in our society. While we are ignorant of other’s sufferings, our suffering appears as a big mountain. We might be thinking that people who do not have any problem can only address the issues found in another’s life. For…
Jesus has one last meal with His disciples before His arrest, followed by a lightning-fast trial that would lead Him to the cross the very next day. But His work among His disciples was not done, as He continued to enlighten them with His teachings during what is now known as His Last Supper.
Thanking each other is the best etiquette in our society, and it encourages a person to give their best. It is an act of showing the person who helped us that we have identified or realized their kindness.
Paul started addressing specific incidents that deeply troubled him because of how sexual immorality was running rampant in the church of Corinth. He cites one particular incident of a congregation member who was having sexual relations with his father’s wife, perhaps a callback for us of how Reuben slept with his father’s wife.
Peter and Andrew left their nets and followed Jesus to fulfil the desire of His Father. However, these followers depended on what they saw and failed to visualize the unseen God, who had sent Jesus to this world.
Nature reveals the wondrous work of God, but unfortunately, we do not have the time to admire His creations. The wise of the earth are known for their inventions and their masterpieces, while the creator of heaven and earth is an unsung hero.
Jesus did not have a large following in Jerusalem but His followers were those who had seen him in their own hometowns and were in the city just for the festivities. It is very easy to get swept by the atmosphere of our surroundings and people started joining in the chants even though many of them would have only known hearsay about Christ and not realized His true purpose.
The festival of Passover was approaching and the hill city of Jerusalem would soon see an influx of pilgrims to the holy land and its neighbouring towns. Jesus also made the trip to Judea one last time, just six days before His crucifixion. On His way to Jerusalem, He visited His followers in the nearby town of Bethany where He had raised Lazarus back to life.
Taking refuge in God is a unique experience. In a worldly context, taking refuge is about staying in the refugee camps or a rehabilitation centre. People staying at a rehabilitation centre do not need to carry a shield, but the people at the battlefield need to have a shield.
The raising of Lazarus would be a precursor to His own resurrection from the grave on the third day. We have read that He had raised at least two people from the dead but they had not been in the grave for four days. The disciples and the Jews gathered around this tragedy, would soon be the witnesses to Jesus’ big reveal, that He indeed is the Resurrection and the Life.
We instinctively look for the approval of others but do not like their disapproval or corrections. Criticisms, though intended to be constructive, often discourages us and even pushes us to the extreme of withdrawing from our missions. Till the time we do not realize our mistakes, we won’t be ready for corrections.
People live in vanity, and they want to show off things that they do not have and do not want to disclose the things they have. A poor person tries to present himself as a rich person, whereas a rich one does not care for such a presentation. A coward speaks much of his imaginary brave acts, while the brave keep quiet. A self-righteous person behaves like a righteous one, while the righteous do not reveal their spiritual standard. People build up false images and hide behind these lies to make a convent with death.
At the pool of Bethesda, Jesus met an invalid man and asked if he wanted to be healed. A weird question to ask someone who had been patiently waiting for thirty-eight years to receive his healing. But Jesus’ words always have a purpose and putting it in the right context helps us understand its true meaning.
The opening words of this Psalm highlights the confidence that David has in his relationship with God. To attract the attention of a person who is listening to many, we say “Listen to me.” Children use the technique of crying to attract their parent’s attention. The opening words of this Psalm also resemble the action of an adamant grown-up child persistently irritating his parent by repeatedly asking them to grant permission.
On the first Easter morn, the disciples were all terrified as they were hearing mixed news about their leader whom the Roman officials had killed just a couple of days ago. A narrative unique to the gospel of Luke, lets us know about two followers of Christ who were traveling back to the nearby town…
Jesus entered the holy places carrying His blood to secure our eternal redemption. The blood of Jesus shed on the cross sanctifies our conscience from dead works so that we may serve the Living Lord forever and ever as our eternal redemption is secured.
Fear always chases faith to weaken its strength. No one in this world can say that they do not understand what fear is. We are all driven by fear in some areas of our lives. Fear gives us restlessness and steals our confidence. With fear, we are not able to arrive at the right decision at the right time, but it leads us to the wrong decisions.
The creations reveal the existence of the Creator and the way they function projects the knowledge of the sovereign God. Somehow, many do not reach out to this ultimate truth, but they restrict themselves from this understanding by focusing only on the creations.
The Philistines had all their soldiers and chariots, “numerous as the sands of the seashore”, and the Israelites were running scared and running out of places to hide. Somehow Saul managed to muster up his troops who were still quaking in fear. He patiently waited seven days for Samuel to arrive and perform his priestly obligations, but after waiting for so long in fear, he finally gave up on waiting for Samuel and performed the offertory ceremony himself. I’ve often asked myself, why was Samuel late and why does Saul after having waited for seven days couldn’t wait a few more hours for Samuel to arrive?
Jesus deemed the pharisees guilty of sin as they were not blind but refused to change their ways. Another argument between Jesus and the pharisees ensued ending up with Jesus revealing another aspect of His identity by comparing himself to a shepherd.
In today’s context, this Psalm reminds me of a telephonic conversation with our friends and relatives. After changing our phone numbers, many would not recognize us, as the number does not appear on their phone-book.
While the Pharisees were focused on their quest to crucify the Messiah, Jesus continued to walk on the path that God had set before Him, touching yet another life on His way to Calvary. As Jesus and His disciples were walking the streets of Jerusalem, they saw a man who had been blind from birth. The disciples could not help but pass judgement and wanted Jesus to weigh in on who is responsible for this man’s condition, his parents or he himself.
Just as the women were hurrying from the tomb filled with mixed emotions of fear and joy, they came face to face with the one they were looking for. Jesus Himself was standing in front of them and they fell at His feet and began to worship Him.
“Don’t be over-righteous” is a familiar caution often given to those who seek God in truth. These are from ‘well-wishers’ who tell their fellow brothers and sisters to attend a Sunday Service and discourage them from involving in spiritual activities like meaningful Bible Studies, Outreach Ministries or Personal Devotion. They are satisfied with what they hear in the Sunday sermons and want others to be satisfied with that without ever reading the Word of God.
Through each character of the Bible, God wants to teach us some valuable lesson so that we may enter His kingdom without having to succumb to our life situations. The element of evil seen in Judas Iscariot’s life is a common sin called greed. None of us can boldly say that we are not greedy. Judas’s life may teach us how not to be entangled in sin through greed and how to come out of it.
In his farewell speech Samuel recounted all the good that God had done for His people and how they had always reciprocated His grace on them with betrayal at every corner. He warned them not to test the anger of the Lord and reminded them of all the destruction that came upon them when they walked away from God and held on to their precious idols.
Jesus saved the adulterous woman from being stoned and did not condemn her. But now the crowds had picked up the stones once again, this time, to kill Jesus.
The chief priest and the elders started making plans to have Jesus executed. They bound Him and handed him over to the Roman governor Pilate, as executions were under Roman jurisdiction.
Israel’s desire to be like other nations led them to reject God and have a mortal human ascend the throne. Samuel was handed the task of finding Israel a new king, one that would lead them to battles. Among the twelve tribes of Israel, the tribe of Benjamin was one of the smallest with a history of seditious revolt against the other eleven tribes. However, God’s ways are unfathomable to us, as no one would have expected the first king of Israel to come from the tribe of Benjamin.
Jesus came alone to Jerusalem and stood out in the crowd, He did not wait for the consensus to be formed about Him before He spoke out against the leaders. By the power of God, He took a stand against the leaders who had diluted the Gospel and made it a religion. Are we waiting for a consensus in our lives or are willing to stand out for God?
We are certainly all-in when we can see Jesus working miracles in our lives. But our faith gets shaken when we cannot see His works and start doubting even the existence of God. If our faith is based on the works of God in our lives then we will not go far with Him but like a drug addict keep coming back to Him only when we run out of money/blessings. Peter was still immature and did not understand what his response should be when Jesus foretold his denial.
The Israelites put away all their gods and gave their loyalty to Yahweh, but a plot to overthrow their eternal king was soon to enter their minds.
Just like satan blinded the eyes of those disciples who abandoned Jesus that day, he is doing the same even today for the believers who are satisfied with eating the symbolic bread and wine and will never desire to taste the Bread of Life.
The chief priests and the elders were assembling in the palace of the high priest, Caiaphas, and were trying to figure out the best way to dispose of Jesus. They were looking for a way to secretly kill Jesus without riling up His followers. When they were perplexed and could not find a way to dispose of with the Jesus problem, satan presented them with an opportunity that they quickly grabbed on to.
In the Bible we see people like Cain, Jacob and Martha getting diverted by their family members. People who are close to our heart can hurt us more than strangers. We won’t remember the abusive language used against us in yesterday’s traffic jam but we won’t be able to forget a simple statement given against us by our kith. Satan knows how to use the people around us to dishearten us.
The Israelites mourned that the Ark had departed from them but the Glory had long been departed from their midst.
Once again Jesus had riled up the Jewish leaders simply by giving a man the ability to pick up his mat and walk as they started questioning His authority.
For many of us have been given lamps but only few are wise enough to carry the extra oil that is needed to keep our flame alive.
As soon as Jesus was baptized, the Spirit of God led him to the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. The primary temptations are that the devil wants us to prove to him that we are the children of God. This precious relationship is personal between us and our God. Repeatedly. the devil asked Jesus to prove his relationship with His Father, but Jesus firmly denied to prove it to the devil.
Eli was a Levite from the priestly clan of Israel and was used by God to lead Israel for forty years. But along the way something happened in his life that He had started taking the Lord for granted and not payed heed to His warnings.
During one of Jesus’ trips to Jerusalem, He encounters a man sitting by the poolside at Bethesda waiting for healing when the Healer himself came to him.
As the fig tree can let us know if summer is nigh, similarly the signs of the end of days would let us know that Christ’s coming is near.
Quite ironical that the Jews , through whom the salvation was to come rejected the Messiah but the ‘pagan’ Samaritans were the first to proclaim Jesus as the Savior of the world. Jesus revealed His true identity in this Samaritan town, something that He would not do in the Jewish towns.
After stumping the Pharisees with His question, Jesus proceeded to call them out on all their wrongdoings.
For all the accounts of great wars and conquests recorded in the book of Samuel, it still starts with the story of humble beginnings from a lowly town in the hill country of Ephraim.
The living water represents His Spirit in us who gives us the joy that comes from knowing that our sins are forgiven. The joy in our hearts that gives us a new life, a new beginning with the knowledge that the slate has been wiped clean. That is what Jesus has to offer.
Let us learn from the bitter experience of Paul and his fellowship with the Corinthians that we should not depend on human beings for love and compassion but on God for His grace and mercy.
Everyone knows John 3:16 by heart but the next verse is equally important, for Jesus did not come to condemn us but save us. If he wanted to condemn us for our wrongdoings, He would have brought the day of judgment upon us but rather He came with the sole intention to be an atonement for our sins.
Jesus came with the purpose of introducing or reintroducing God to everyone, those who loved Him and even those who hated Him. The questioning session that the Pharisees and the Sadducees had been using to unmask Jesus before His followers, turned into Jesus revealing the identity as the Messiah.
Depending on our fellow believers will only get us so far and might even lead us away from God. The only way to defeat death is to depend on the heavenly man and follow His path.
Jesus did not answer their demands by giving them a sign immediately but foretold about His own death and resurrection that will be the ultimate sign of His authority given to everyone.
The purpose of group worship is to gather together and praise God. If the purpose was for each one to talk to God personally, that could have been done from the comfort of their homes.
Two days after gathering His disciples, Jesus arrived at a wedding in a place called Cana in the region of Galilee. During the festivities, Jesus’s mother brought a matter of concern to Him saying that the wedding party had run out of wine. Of all the requests brought before Jesus, this would have been the most trivial of the lot.
Jesus came down to extend the invitation of His Father’s banquet to everyone as Israel had rejected and rebelled against God by prostituting themselves to the pagan cultures that surrounded them.
Our society has both wicked and righteous people. Both of them share the same arena to earn their livelihood. The wicked will always be with us in the form of our neighbours, colleagues, friends and relatives who distort us from fulfilling the purpose of God in our lives.
With the growing thirst for Spiritual Gifts among the church at Corinth, Paul points out the greatest gift that they all needed in their lives, something greater than any other gift and without which all other gifts are worthless.
The ministry of Jesus spread through people sharing their personal experiences of their encounter with the Messiah. Even today, in a world filled with countless religions and distractions, the work of God continues through the personal testimonies of people who have experienced Christ in their lives.
The fallout from the temple clearing incident perhaps did not sit well with the chief priests and the elders as surely that would have opened the eyes of the people to the corruption that had infiltrated the walls of the temple.
Being a relatively new church, the Corinthians had lot of queries regarding their order of worship. One of the main concerns was the mystery that surrounded the spiritual gifts given to the members by the Spirit. They saw these gifts as a means to create a hierarchical order between themselves rather than using it for the purpose that God intended.
The conversation between the other John and the Jewish leaders where he denied comparisons to three of the most famous Old Testament figures.
Kings would usually come back from wars to triumphant welcome by their countrymen. These lavish parades would have the valuables plundered in their latest victory along with the procession of the prisoners of the war who were going to be humiliated and tortured by the locals. The kings would always choose a warhorse or a prized camel, to make their grand entrance back to their palace rather than riding on a colt and that too of a donkey.
God teaches us to show sympathy towards others, and sometimes He allows us to go through pain to understand other’s pain so that we may sympathetically pray for their remedy. At the same time, we should expect God to show His compassion to us rather than expecting pity from others.
This is probably one of the few chapters from the Bible that we know by heart. But do we actually know what it means or is it just part of our Sunday school memories? I am not sure that even King David understood it completely as he was simply writing about his life experiences. But unbeknownst to him, God was using David to give us the greatest assurance that we would ever need that He is our Shepherd.
Christ came to save us from our own sins but did not come to start a religion to help us save ourselves. The world around us has done its best to try and subvert the true meaning of Christmas from us.
While there are different opinions about the time of the birth of Jesus, we should also know the origins of Christmas. When people gathered in great numbers to celebrate the birth of Jesus, this was named Christmas during the late twelfth century, with its literal meaning being Christ’s Mass. With the coining of the name Christmas, the noble theme of God’s love has been distorted with some fictional characters of fantasies.
Our Remembrance of Jesus’s sacrifice should not be only on Sundays when we are standing in the communion line but throughout the week and should be reflected in everything we do.
The Gospel of John does not share any similarities with the other Synoptic Gospels, but this unique account of the life of Christ has a completely different purpose. Written by most probably John, the disciple, during the latter half of the first century to a predominantly Gentile audience of the Greco-Roman city of Ephesus, its…
In this chapter we see three separate instances of people’s selfishness as they tried to prevent others from receiving what they already had.
As the church in Corinth continues to struggle with the rampant sexual immorality, Paul tries to rein in the congregation by taking them back to the very purpose of creation. After dealing with cases of unfaithfulness among the men and women in the church, Paul tries to take a step back and addresses the need for discipline in hopes of bringing back order to the worship in the church.
Amidst criticism, Prosperity Gospel still survives because there are people who need that kind of gospel. All of us love to be blessed, and we speculate and await our turn. Various schemes are devised to derive blessings, such as blessings through prayers, blessings through partnership or membership, blessings through donations or offerings, and blessings through anointed oil, handkerchiefs and servants of God.
In his letters to the believers in Corinth, Paul not only addresses the failures of the church but also addresses the allegations levelled against him. When immorality is allowed to take the driver seat in a church, it will try its best to bring down the workers of God. If Paul’s ego would have been…
Some might question the purpose of the story of Ruth in the Bible, but her response to tragedy in her life is something we can learn a lot from. There were two women who were dealt the same hand in Naomi and Ruth. Both responded to it in different ways and Ruth left her comfort zone and moved to Bethlehem to be a comfort for her mother-in-law.
Based on our positions, we rank ourselves highly and feel proud of ourselves. When a problem occurs, irrespective of its severity, we always look at it as a gigantic figure. Our pride locks us within a small world, and we do not understand that the problems are everywhere and with everyone.
Corinth being a melting pot of cultural diversity, made it hard for the new believers to separate themselves from the pagan traditions that surrounded them. One such issue that Paul tries to address is eating of meat that was sacrificed to the pagan gods. Since only part of the animal was used for sacrificial purposes,…
A rich man came to Jesus and asked “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life ?” Jesus tells the man to keep the commandments to which he promptly replies saying that he has been doing that for a long time and asks Jesus what he still lacked.,,,
The Bible portrays Peter, James, and John as the close associates of Jesus. Out of these three disciples, Peter’s inconsistent spiritual growth is a source of encouragement for all of us, as we are also inconsistent in our spiritual walks but the spiritual journey of Peter started when he was only an illiterate fisherman.
From its very inception, the institution of Marriage was supposed to unite two individuals to serve God as one body. Over the years mankind, especially the forefathers and other leaders have had a hand in corrupting this sacred union. Marriage became a means to bear offspring and not a way for its members to unite in their sole purpose to connect with God. However, Paul’s instructions to the Corinthians on the subject of marriage may seem like a concession rather than the norm.
The purpose for our lives is to worship God with all our mind, soul and body at all times. Worship means submitting our freedom in God’s hand by using the freedom that Jesus gave us. In order to move forward in the tasks assigned to us by God, we should have a clear mind to discern the things that discourage us. We often fail to remove the beam from our own eyes but continue to peck at our neighbour’s eyes in search of specks and injure them in the process.
Perseverance Or Forbearance Many a time the meaning of the word “perseverance” is misunderstood for forbearance and tolerance. People also have a wrong notion of bearing with wickedness and treachery of our fellow believers as perseverance. Tolerating friends who continue to betray our trust and us being aware of it can hinder us from coming…
Forgiveness is important but what is more important is to forgive from our hearts. We often miss out the second part and dwell on it. We also tend to forget the huge debt that God forgave us by sending His Son. We are forgiven an unimaginable amount by God, yet we do not show even a part of that to our fellow beings.
Is your faith fetching people to Jesus or is it rather driving them away from Him? Are you discouraged by the spiritual trait of some people? Here is an encouraging truth from the Bible, come near to Jesus and don’t see the crowd around Him.
Holding On A shrewd person once withdrew a large sum of cash from his bank and carried it in a dirty old bag in a crowded train. While everyone else placed their luggage on the shelf above, this person was standing amidst the crowd, tightly holding his bag with one hand and holding the roof…
The grace of our Lord makes all our hurdles lighter so that we can push them away and move forward with the task that God has assigned us.
The nature acquaints us with the creative power of God, and when we keenly observe those creations, we will understand the immeasurable power of God that pursues us to believe in His existence. In our present day scenario, because of the upcoming technologies, the current generation is unable to reach God even while utilizing all…
Nehemiah led with his heart rather than listening to the voice of God and always expected God to reward him for the sacrifice he was making in trying to rebuild Jerusalem, both physically and spiritually.
The saying, “Tell me who your friends are, and I will tell you who you are” is true and practical, because friendship builds on a common goal. When our thoughts are the same, our attitude will also be in line with each other.
Even the wisest man in the world was fooled by satan and lured away from God. Is there any hope for us?
It is obvious that even evil doers are flourishing every day on this earth and that might sprout up hundreds of doubts in our mind.
Sometimes in our lives, we face problems after problems, like waves of the sea, leaving us to stumble.
For Christ to increase, we need to decrease, but leaders sometimes are worried about their followers and disciples perceiving them as imperfect people. They put on a show in front of their congregations, lest someone should think of them as sinners like the rest of us.
Are we misusing our freedom, forgetting who gave us that freedom. Remember that our freedom is in Christ and not on the things of this world. Let us not continue to misuse our freedom and come to Him with anxious hearts to experience our Father’s love.
We do not get to choose our parents neither can we opt for any colour, race or religion, yet we were born of our Father’s will. The only thing that is guaranteed is that God will accomplish His Purpose in our lives.
We have been given the Spirit of God to judge for ourselves what is right and wrong. The Spirit of God within us will make known the plans that God has for us. Let us not get swayed by human leaders and apostles and forget what Jesus wants in our lives.
Jesus is keen on keeping our relationship with Him as personal and He is eager to reward us personally. If we expose His intimate relation to earn riches and fame, then Jesus warns us that we have already been ‘rewarded’ with riches and fame. If we keep it personal between ourselves and Him, He is assuring us a reward from our heavenly Father.
I remember the days of 8-bit games when having only three lives in a game was the norm. There were no cloud syncs and no chance for any do-overs. We had to play a game from start to finish in one sitting. Nowadays we can restart our campaign from the exact point where we left-off…
Jesus left all His glory and came in a human form to save us from our sins. It is because of our sins that we were driven out from God’s presence and have created a distance between heaven and earth. Jesus came down to bridge that gap and connect us back to our Father.
A common perception of people about evil is that it is a force against God’s will to do good. It may be a force against man’s will to perform good things but not for God. Because no power in heaven and earth is greater than that of God’s (1 John 4:4) as He is the creator of both good and evil.
Paul wrote letters to the church in Corinth in response to various allegations and accusations he heard among the church members.
In the entire history of civilization, the importance of removing the social disparities that have widened due to status, colour and race are strongly felt. Human rights are being valued highly and people have become conscious about equality. However, all these endeavours have failed in removing the social disparities and the differences have become wider, resulting in endless debates and social unrest.
The events of that Famous Easter day and the confusion and disbelief that followed.
We see many miracles happening. But sometimes when it comes to our personal needs we are unable to experience the blessings that we have seen in the life of others. Most of the time we strive hard to experience it but in the process we lose our hope and often even leads to frustration.
We are constantly discouraged by satan, when he reminds us of our sins and makes us feel guilty. He will try to end our lives before we get rid of our guilt. He often deceives us by telling that we are not worthy of asking God forgiveness and motivates us to sin while at the same time, he appears before God and accuses us day and night.
Real change can only be brought upon by the transformation of the heart and as we saw throughout the accounts of the post-exile writings, the Israelites only ever changed their words but never their ways. Like Nehemiah, let us not waste time in forcefully correcting the actions of our fellow beings but rather connect them to God who is the only one who can intervene and make real change in their lives.
One of the reason for our spiritual immaturity is that we are consider our body to be worth more than our soul. Often we do not realize that we do have a soul. We fear people who can only harm our body or hurt our emotions and do not fear God who has redeemed our soul from eternal death.
Sometimes we ask God for signs as proof, but is that wrong? We see a lot of people in the bible asking for signs and God graciously provided them with signs. As long as our intentions are pure, God would be happy to help us if that leads us to understand His will.
Unlike the returning exiles, we must renew our faith in Christ everyday and not wait for such moments to make us realise the need for God in our lives.
Our words reflect the thoughts of our heart and if we do not have God guide our hearts, we will be giving way to the evil one to take over and defile us in the process.
After rebuilding the wall, the exiles realized that they needed structural changes in their lives also.
While we are striving hard, not to conform to the pattern of this world, do we conform to the Word of God or do we struggle to not desire the things of this world?
Our walk with God is similar to that of Peter’s, the winds don’t stop raging on us but when our focus is on God, we are able to walk on all waters.
Like the fictional agency “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.”, satan also has his agents placed all over this world and in every part of our lives and he will activate them when he sees us coming closer to God.
No doubt that these liturgies contain meaningful statements while the hymns are someone’s inspiration and experience. The question here is not about the spiritual richness of the liturgies and hymns but how it is being sung by the believers.
The pattern repeats itself again later in the final chapters of the book, where Nehemiah thinks he has won over the enemy only to find the enemy had already infiltrated their camps.
We may recall the Government officials hiring Judas Iscariot to identify the Messiah, as they were unable to recognize Jesus on their own, as they did not have the Spirit of God. Whereas the ten lepers who were staying away from their village, were able to recognize Jesus in a remote place.
By sending His Son into this world, God has shown His unconditional love towards us. It is difficult for mankind to understand God’s love, as the world looks at love in an entirely different perspective.
God gives equal chance to the good and the evil doers and allows the evil doers to be among the good. He just wants us to end up in the good bundle at the end.
We have a habit of not leaving anything to chance. We feel the need to plan for our future and have a five year plan for our personal and work lives but seldom for our spiritual lives.
Hope is an optimistic attitude of expecting something good to happen in our future. When such expected things don’t happen, it sometimes causes agony and depression in some of our lives.
In the present Pandemic situation, people frequently ask “Why is God punishing this world?” Some people think that the wrath of God is upon the earth and some take this as a sign for the second coming of Jesus as a Judge.
Nehemiah got off to a rocky start and as he will learn the lesson the hard way, that his efforts of securing the city had no effect on the hearts of the people, as they had already fortified their hearts to keep God out.
In the prevailing pandemic, because of community transmission, it becomes hard to track the chain of transmission of the virus in a large number of cases. The virus has started circulating within the community and can also infect those individuals who have neither traveled to a country affected by the outbreak nor have come into contact with a person infected by the virus.
Ezra, who was sent to teach the scriptures to the exiles, spent his first stint in Jerusalem, separating families to purify the people rather than letting God deal with His people.
When we read the above verse without synchronising our minds with the mind of Jesus, we start encouraging believers to earn money by whatever means (even unrighteous ways) to cater to the needs of the Church and its projects.
The Messiah was amongst us and no one wanted to believe in His existence, neither the pharisees nor the teachers of the law and not even Jesus’ own family.
When God guides our paths, all the arrangements are made for us. Ezra did not have to worry about the finances for his trip or the funds for the temple sacrifices and ornaments or even to gather his troops, everything was prepared by God.
No one can harm us because the God who loves us, loves the people who intend to harm us too and no one can stand against His love. We may fail in showing love to our enemies but God is able to love our enemies to the extent of transforming their darkest lives into a light shining for the Truth.
Fifteen years after the work on the temple had been halted due to numerous oppositions that the exiles faced, God sent his word to the people of Israel. First through the prophet Haggai (Haggai 1) and then two months later through the prophet Zechariah (Zechariah 1), God spoke to the people commanding them to restart the work on the temple.
Storing our treasures in heaven does not mean that we have to store all the mortal things of this earth in heaven, rather it means that when we shift our focus to the things of heaven, our rewards will start to accumulate in heaven. And if our rewards continue to accrue in heaven, our hearts will cling to our Lord Jesus to inherit His belongings.
Jesus humbly calls us to take up His yoke and learn directly from Him to help our souls find rest. He wants us to accept His yoke as a connector between Him and us, so that we don’t need to look to anyone or anything else.
While the returning exiles continued work on the temple, the natives took notice of their new neighbors’ plans and offered help to Zerubbabel and Co.
Let our love be without hypocrisy. If we hate evil, our love will be complete but unfortunately we love evil.
…something was missing as in the midst of the shouts of joy, there was mixed, the sound of weeping also. No one could distinguish between who were shouting with joy or who were crying, overcome by their sorrow. God’s presence was missing which could only be felt by the older generation, the ones who had witnessed the glory of the previous temple before their land was conquered.
We are placed in this world with the purpose of spreading the Kingdom of God to others and God will help us in every way when we are on this mission. He will never leave us nor forsake us just as He taught His disciples while sending them out into the world. It is up to us if we are ready to depend on Him to carry out His mission.
Who does not want joy in this world? Irrespective of their faith, people will take a chance to grab any joy offered in this manner.
The intentions of the returning exiles were noble, leaving everything behind to rebuild the city of Jerusalem but as we will see in the following chapters, they did little to rebuild their broken relationship with God.
On the basis of the above verse, we are trained to walk on eggshells when confronting our fellow brethren of their mistakes. While we want to do the right thing and correct our brethren, we are plagued with guilt because of the above verse. If we do adhere to our inclination and confront the offender, he might quote the above verse and say ‘Are you not aware of Jesus’ teaching Do not judge others?’
The people chosen to proclaim the good news of the kingdom and His love were busy following traditions and burdening the people with rules and regulations and failed to do their work. We are now the shepherds who have tasted the love of God and should let the others know of that love.