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Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance / Patience the race marked out for us. Hebrew 12:1

Patience is a hard to find 'fruit' in today's fast moving world. We want everything at the finger tips on the click of a button; we do not have time for others and definitely not for the extra mile we ought to walk with them; when someone cuts the line at the grocery store or overtakes us on the road we feel this sudden rage to respond to them negatively, the list goes on...

But as believers Patience is one of the 'fruits' we need to produce. So, how do we go about developing that?

Verse above suggests the following solutions:
* Let us throw off everything that hinders
Let us throw off the sin that so easily entangles
* Let us run with perseverance (patience) the race marked out for us
First, let us identify the root cause for our impatience. The immediate answer would be that we don't have the time. Why we don't have the time? Are we trying to juggle too many things in too short a time? Are we simply trying to please everyone? Are we always aiming for the 'bigger & better' - such a moving target? Is there anything we can remove from our agenda to make room for exercising little more patience?

Next, is it our sinful nature that causes the impatience? Are we angry all the time? Are we just waiting for a moment to retaliate? Why do we take things too personally - at work, at home? Why is that we can't handle a criticism very well? Do we strive to always prove our self? Are we loving our self a little too much? Do we assume we have failed by being patient?

Finally, are we giving up too soon? Are we saying this christian walk is just too hard or it's too narrow a path? It's not by our merits, right? It is by His grace - right? In that case, it is not that hard of a fruit to develop in us - is it? Let's at least try!

P.S: On a lighter note, just the fact that you read through this post shows you have the fruit of patience already! :)
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* Peace I leave with you; my Peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. John 14:27
* And the Peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:7

Shalom is a regular greeting among the Jews, very similar to our usage of 'Hello, how are you?'. These salutations and benedictions are generally matters of custom and polite ceremony, given without much thought to it. However here the Prince of Peace is not talking mere empty words but brings the attention to the word PEACE as in consolation. When He says 'my peace' He means the kind of peace only He can impart. This promised peace is very different from the empty promises given by the world.

When we are at peace it gives us a tranquil spirit. We are not in a rush to find a solution for matters. We learn to unwind at His feet and be still. We completely surrender for His will. Have you sensed this peace lately? If not, please join me over this little prayer:

"Our Heavenly Father! Thank you for this new day at your presence Lord! Thank you for the heavenly peace you have promised us Lord. Often times we are so overwhelmed by many things that we tend to overlook the peace you have promised us Lord.

Today we surrender all such matters at your feet  Lord. Please forgive us for running away from your presence trying to figure out our own solution Lord. Thank you that you are in control and you will take care of all matters Lord. The battle is yours Lord.

Please fill us once again with this promised peace Lord. May the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, guard our hearts and our minds Lord. We thank you and praise you for the peace you are giving us all this very moment Lord. All glory, honor and praise be to your holy name Lord. In our Prince of Peace's name we pray, Amen!"
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"As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my Joy may be in you and that your Joy may be complete." John 15:9-11

Surprisingly Joy goes hand in hand with Love! When we are in love - with our Savior, with our dear ones, with our friends and family, with our neighbors, co workers, - then our Joy is full. It is complete.

Also we know salvation brings Joy. What is salvation? Salvation is believing that God came in human form to love us, to take away our sin; died on the cross for our sin, resurrected, ascended to heaven and continues to reconvene with the Father for us. It is believing we are no more sinners but washed in His blood and made saints! Hallelujah!

Just the feeling of freedom brings an unspeakable JOY. This is the joy of salvation; the joy that stems from hope for an eternal life.

I invite any of you who haven't yet felt this joy to surrender your hearts to Jesus now - right at this coffee table as we join hands with fellow believers and readers. Let's pray:

"Dear Lord, we come at your presence rejoicing in the joy of our salvation Lord. Thank you for dying on the cross for my sin and for the sins of other believers in Christ who have joined me around this coffee table today Lord. Yet there are some of us who are not quite sure of this joy of salvation Lord. Prepare their hearts Lord; open their eyes Lord. Speak to them Lord. Guide them Lord. Help them understand you have died for their sins too Lord. Help them see that they are free indeed Lord. Bless them with the joy of your salvation Lord - right at this minute Lord. We praise and glorify your name this morning Lord. You alone be glorified! May all the glory, honor and praise be to you alone Lord. Thank you for the joy of salvation you have renewed in our hears too Lord. In Jesus' joyous name we pray, Amen!"
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"A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must Love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you Love one another." John 13:34-35

Love is the very fundamental foundation of Christian faith. God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten son that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. Amen!

Time and time again our Lord Jesus Christ talked about loving one another. Probably because He knew how difficult it is to truly love one another. It is beyond human nature to love unconditionally. Oh, yes we can love our self, our family, our children - no doubt about it. But how about loving others? Now, how about loving others as we love our self? To go to the next level, how about loving others as God has loved us?

Few questions I lay before us for discussion: (my answers within parenthesis)
* Is it even possible to love others as God has loved us? (Has to be; otherwise Bible wouldn't teach us to do so.)
* Where can we begin in our attempt to love others as God has loved us? (By forgiving others)
* What does it take to stay loving? (By constantly reminding ourselves about the Love of God)

What would be your thoughts; care to share?
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* A tree is identified by its fruit. If a tree is good, its fruit will be good. If a tree is bad, its fruit will be bad. Matthew 12:33
* By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Matthew 7:16
* But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.  Galatians 5:22-23

Symbolically our life is identified to a tree here. A good tree will bear good fruits; same way a good person will have good deeds.

Specifically the Bible talks about nine kinds of fruits we ought to bear as followers of Christ. We see the list in Galatians: Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control.

In the next couple of days, let us discuss each fruit in detail. Please come prepared to share from your experience too. Let us pray God to open our eyes as we get ready to prepare the soil and bear these fruits.
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Celebrate the Feast of Ingathering at the end of the year, when you gather in your crops from the field. Exodus 23:16

One of the instructions given to the Israelites for the end of the year was to celebrate the Feast of Ingathering. Here we are in the last week of 2011. So let us also celebrate the Feast of Ingathering!

First, go and find a piece of paper and list down all the ways God has blessed you all through this year. Don't dismiss anything as "nothing". Scan your mind from last New Years' day, then the all of January, next February, then March, go on to April, May and all the way to December, today!

Got it all down? I am sure it is a pretty list! Now, go over each blessing one by one and say a sincere "Thank you Lord!". Every single one of them was God's blessings showered on us. If you can understand the full extent of it, you will scream, "Thank you! Thank you! And yes, Thank you!".

Don't stop with that just for today. Go on and celebrate it for the rest of the year! Happy Feast of Ingathering!
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"Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is sacred to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength." Nehemiah 8:10

Wishing you all a VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Some of you may dismiss the greetings as you are grieving a loved one. This is what the Lord says to you this morning, "Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength!" Amen!

Repeat this to yourself whenever grief tries to engulf you today. May the tender arms of God embrace you once again. This is my prayer for you! God bless you!

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Remove sorrow from thy heart - Ecclesiastes 11:10

Just as holidays can make us merry, holidays can make some sad, very sad. Remembering loved ones long gone, missing fun old days and more importantly whatever you are facing at the current times may make it impossible to enjoy like the rest of the clan. If that's you, this message is for you! Read on...

It takes an active commitment in our part to remove sorrow from our heart. Just as "Be happy" is a command, "Remove sorrow" is a command to us. It starts with you!

Let's say you are feeling alone, why not invite a friend over? You may be ministering to her/him. What about sharing about your loved ones whom you are grieving about, over the dinner table with your family? Sure it will ease some grief and will allow them to share their recollection too.

Above all, how about taking it to God's feet? Let us sit down at His presence, be it in the car, or your closet, or kitchen table, find a few minutes to be alone with God. Pour out all your grieving thoughts, whatever is bothering you this very moment. Cry it out. Ask Him to remove sorrow from your heart and He will!

I truly believe God is talking to each one of us through this blog post. Remain happy in the Lord! That is our strength. God bless you!
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"He arose, and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a great calm" Mathew 8:26 (KJV)

"He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, "Quiet! Be still!" Then the wind died down and it was completely calm" Mark 4: 39 (NIV)

"He got up and rebuked the wind and the raging waters; the storm subsided, and all was calm" Luke 8:24 (NIV)

Some of us could be experiencing a great storm in our lives at this very moment. It may look like the storm may never end; the wind might seem to have the upper hand; that we are about to sink into the depth of our sorrows. I encourage you to please meditate on the verses above, where Jesus rebukes the storm and the wind and it was "completely calm" or "a great calm" or "all was calm" as the Gospel authors put it.

Jesus is the same, yesterday, today and forever! Amen! Is He not powerful enough to calm your storm? Does He not have the authority to rebuke your wind? Why are you afraid? Why do you doubt Him? Repeat these words, "Quiet! Be still!" against all your stormy situations.

Be it peace in the family, joblessness, financial difficulties, health conditions, disobedient children, abusive relationships or bondage to sin - whatever your storm may be, however strong your wind may appear, when you call unto Jesus He will say "Quiet! Be still!" Soon there will be a great calm. He will fill you with the peace from above. You will start rejoicing in the Spirit and before you know it, the storm will subside and the wind will die down! Hallelujah!!

Let us pray, Our Father in Heaven! We come to your presence in one accord, as one family Lord. You see some of us are struggling with huge storms Lord. Please command against our storms Lord so that there will be complete peace and a great calm Lord. Please help us rid of all our doubts Jesus! Please help us overcome our fears Jesus! We trust and believe you are still able to rebuke our storms Lord. Thank you for the complete deliverance you are granting us Lord. Thank you for the peace from above Lord, for the joy of salvation Lord. Thank you that we are soon going to praise your name seeing the calm you have ordered Lord. Bless this day for each one of us Lord. We completely surrender us at your feet Jesus. In Jesus mighty name we pray, Amen!

Remember to share your prayer requests and praise reports. The best way we can help each other is to pray for one another.
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Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it. Psalm 34:14

Let's look closely at how to turn away from our wicked ways as part of our discussion on 2 Chronicles 7:14.

Ask the behavioural experts, they will tell you that one can't really get rid of a bad habit, but only replace a bad habit with a good habit. That's exactly what we see in today's Scripture. Turn from evil and do good!

Every one of us, whether we are believers or non-believers, young or old, rich or poor, we all know for sure what is good vs. what is evil. That is the only way we humans differ from animals - the sense to know the good from the evil. Which ultimately means only one thing - we are solely responsible when we choose to live in wicked ways. No, it is not satan, nor the world; but the self in us is to be blamed.

This self dies when we are born again, resulting in a brand new sparkling fresh self! This is what we read in 2 Corinthians 5:17,  If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!

So, the ultimate solution to turn from wicked ways is to give our hearts to Jesus Christ! He will guide us in the paths of righteousness. Then we will turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it. Amen!
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As the eyes of slaves look to the hand of their master, as the eyes of a maid look to the hand of her mistress, so our eyes look to the LORD our God, till he shows us his mercy. Psalm 123:2

As part of our ongoing discussion on 2 Chronicles 7:14, today we will see how to seek His face?

The Scripture above explains how King David sought His face. If a King could so humble himself and relate to a slave or maid while seeking His face, why is it hard for us to humble ourselves?

True, we are His royal priesthood, His own children, but when it comes to seeking His face, we need to humble ourselves like a servant or slave or maid. A slave or maid has one goal and one goal only - that is to please the master. Such should be our desire to serve our Maker!

When we come before His presence let us acknowledge how limited our abilities are compared to the awesomeness of His power. Let us develop a servant's heart to bless our Master. He who looks at the heart will embrace us as children and will grant us our petition.
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This is in continuation of our discussion on 2 Chronicles 7:14

Our focus today is on how to pray?

The best passage on prayer in my opinion is from the Gospel of Matthew chapter 6, verses 5-14 especially because these words were spoken by Jesus Himself:
And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full.

But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

"This, then, is how you should pray: "'Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.'

For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.

It is interesting to note that forgiving others is mentioned as part of the prayer. So even if we pray for hours together but have not forgiven our neighbors, our prayer is of no use. A clear conscious is key for effective prayer. Ready?
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A man's pride brings him low, but a man of lowly spirit gains honor. Proverbs 29:23

Yesterday we discussed 2 Chronicles 7:14 and understood that one of the reasons our prayers have not been answered yet is that we may not have humbled ourselves. Today we will see how to humble ourselves.

Humble by definition means: "Having or showing a modest or low estimate of one's own importance."

Right away some of us DO NOT want to humble ourselves. Mainly because the world teaches and expects one to be just the opposite - to think high of his/her own importance.

But the word of God clearly says that God opposes the pride but gives grace to the humble. Anytime pride shows up to steal the credit for an achievement, let us be careful to quickly shun it and give all glory to God Almighty who enabled us in the first place.

Let us repeatedly remind ourselves it is His grace that keeps us hale and healthy, happy and contend. It is His grace that enables us to work, to buy a home or any other material things we have. It is His grace that keeps our family bonding together filling our hearts with peace, love and joy! It is His grace we are saved. It is His grace we are not fallen. It is His grace we have risen every time we fell.

As we remind ourselves with such thoughts, we will automatically develop a dependency on God and would stop thinking too high of ourselves. It will come natural to be humble at heart. Soon our prayers will be answered. Seeing our humble heart God will lift us up! Amen!
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If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land. 2 Chronicles 7:14

Some of us wonder why our prayers are not answered. Here is the direct message for us. The reason could be one or more of the following:

* We have not humbled ourselves enough
* We have not prayed
* We have not sought His face
* We have not turned from our wicked ways

As we are at the close of the year, there is no better time than this to humble ourselves, pray and seek His face and turn from our wicked ways to receive forgiveness of our sins and healing of our land. Shall we do that today?

If you don't know how, stay tuned for the next couple of days we will discuss each of these in detail. God bless you!
Pin It Now! He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers. Malachi 4:6

This was a prophetic message about John the Baptist who came before Christ to prepare the way, preaching people to repent and be baptized. The exact words are repeated again in Luke 1:17 while Zachariah - John's father, was serving at the temple, an angel of the Lord appeared to him to foretell the birth of his son who was to be called John.

The same verse, as is, stand alone, out of context, can still do miracles in our lives. That is the power of the Word of God. We will hold on to this very promise for our families today. Even among the so called christian families rifts between parents and grown children and misunderstandings between adult siblings are not uncommon. Some of us who think we have figured it all out, can't ignore the frictions from time to time. Pride and selfish agenda are main causes for that. Many of us have given up saying there is nothing we can do about it.

However, prayer can do wonders. Let us pray over our situation using this Scripture today. The Prince of Peace who rules our hearts will heal the wounds and bind the broken hearts. We will rejoice at the family reunion and praise the name of our Lord! Amen!
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Some tough questions in front of us this morning - asked by our Lord Jesus Christ Himself:

* If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you?  Even sinners do that.
* If you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that.
* If you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. (Luke 6:27-36)

Knowing that we are speechless, He also gives us the answers: (our immediate response within parenthesis)

* Love your enemies (mmm will try...)
* Do good to your enemies (now that is getting harder...)
* Lend to them without expecting to get anything back. (what?!)

The reward:  We will be sons (daughters) of the Most High (wow! that's something! who wouldn't want that?!)

Take away: Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. Can we at least try?
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"The horse is made ready for the day of battle, but victory rests with the LORD." Proverbs 21:31

Here's a verse which reminds us that God indeed is in control of all things. I remember yet another verse anytime I come across this one: "The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the Lord" Proverbs 15:16

Doesn't mean we shouldn't train the horse for the day of battle or that we shouldn't be prepared to meet the worst. What it really means is that when we are finally granted victory, it is not because of the strength of the horse or our merits. The victory is from the Lord. It is because He fights our fight! Amen!

Even as the governments discuss many situations, as the corporate managements deal with different issues, we need not fear as ultimately what God allows for us will only happen, not what man intends. Those who believe say amen.

I encourage you all to hold dear to these verses as you practice dependency on God every single day.
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"See, I will make you into a threshing sledge, new and sharp, with many teeth. You will thresh the mountains and crush them, and reduce the hills to chaff..." Isaiah 41:15

Barnes' Notes on Bible has a beautiful explanation for this verse which I would like to share with you:
The object of the illustration in this verse and the following is, to show that God would clothe them with power, and that all difficulties in their way would vanish. To express this idea, the prophet uses an image derived from the mode of threshing in the East, where the heavy wain or sledge was made to pass over a large pile of sheaves, and to bruise out the grain, and separate the chaff, so that the wind would drive it away. The phrase, 'I will make thee,' means, 'I will constitute, or appoint thee,' that is, thou shalt be such a threshing instrument. It is not that God would make such a sledge or wain for them, but that they should be such themselves; they should beat down and remove the obstacles in the way as the threshing wain crushed the pile of grain.
And Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary has it this way:
The Lord will make Jacob to become a threshing instrument. God will make him fit for use, new, and having sharp spikes. This has fulfilment in the triumphs of the gospel of Christ, and of all faithful followers of Christ, over the power of darkness.
Isn't that something to be a new and sharp threshing sledge?!
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*I also made provision for contributions of wood at designated times, and for the firstfruits. Remember me with favor, O my God. Nehemiah 13:31

*Remember me for this, O my God, and do not blot out what I have so faithfully done for the house of my God and its services. Nehemiah 13:14

*Remember me with favor, O my God, for all I have done for these people. Nehemiah 5:19

*Remember this also in my favor, O my God, and spare me according to the greatness of your steadfast love. Nehemiah 13:22

Nehemiah was a cup bearer to King Artaxerxes. He requested and got permission from the king to rebuild Jerusalem walls. He gathered volunteers for the project. He arranged for the best wood and craftsmen who could work on it. Jerusalem was rebuilt after many generations. The walls were all employed. People started worshipping in the temple. The Levites and Priests returned to their duty back in Jerusalem. There was a well trained choir in place. It was indeed a tremendous success for Nehemiah and his people.

It is interesting how Nehemiah had one constant prayer throughout his book: "Remember me with favor, O my God!". Which makes me to believe that Nehemiah might not have received the credit that was due him for his successful execution of the work at hand.

There may be times when we undertake a great effort for the Lord and do it well - above and beyond our imagination or others' expectations, people may fail to appreciate it. The only person who will remember our hard work and sincere efforts and bless us accordingly is our Lord. Therefore, let us not be discouraged but make it our prayer too: "Remember me with favor, O my God." Amen!
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Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds. James 1:2

Can Monday mornings be as good as Friday evenings? I didn't think so. Is it even possible to consider it pure joy when we face trials? I wonder why? Let's read on...

... because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. James 1:3,4

Trials enable us to mature in our faith. Trials allow us to recognize our dependency on God. Trials teach us to acknowledge His deliverance. Trials are allowed to prepare us to minister to others when they pass through similar circumstances. Above all, trials makes us long for His kingdom.

So, Mondays aren't that bad after all! Let's consider it all JOY; shall we? Have a great week ahead and His presence will be with you!
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The LORD will make you the head, not the tail. If you pay attention to the commands of the LORD your God that I give you this day and carefully follow them, you will always be at the top, never at the bottom. Deuteronomy 28:13

Have you noticed that every promise in the Bible comes with a condition? It is only fair, I believe.

In the scripture quoted we read, if we keep the commands of the Lord and carefully follow them, He will make us the head, not the tail; we will always be at the top, never at the bottom. Our focus today is the underlined text.

It is not just the ten commandments we are talking here, it would be all the commands and commandments of God that we read throughout the scriptures. Feel free to check out this link where someone has painstakingly compiled a list of commandments he/she calls a Complete List.

As you see it is a very long list. I am sure you would agree it is not a one time effort to keep His commandments; it is a lifelong process ... but trust me while you are at it, during the process itself, the promise will be fulfilled. He will make us the head and not the tail; we will be at the top and not at the bottom!
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Behold, he comes with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen. Revelation 1:7

Amen! Our King is coming soon! Here's a beautiful song about it... The lyrics are given below the video so that you can join the singing too!

These are the days of Elijah,
Declaring the word of the Lord:
And these are the days of Your servant Moses,
Righteousness being restored.
And though these are days of great trial,
Of famine and darkness and sword,
Still, we are the voice in the desert crying
'Prepare ye the way of the Lord!'

Behold He comes riding on the clouds,
Shining like the sun at the trumpet call;
Lift your voice, it's the year of jubilee,
And out of Zion's hill salvation comes.

These are the days of Ezekiel,
The dry bones becoming as flesh;
And these are the days of Your servant David,
Rebuilding a temple of praise.
These are the days of the harvest,
The fields are as white in Your world,
And we are the labourers in Your vineyard,
Declaring the word of the Lord!

There's no God like Jehovah.
There's no God like Jehovah!
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For I am the LORD, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you. Isaiah 41:13

Did you notice one thing? It is not we who are holding His right hand, but the Lord holds our right hand. That clearly shows how protective He is of us. It is like we care for our children when they are little. We always hold their hands not trusting that they will hold our hands.

We know that they could be easily distracted by things around and get lost if we do not hold them. We know that they could fall and get hurt if we do not hold them. Same way, our Lord doesn't expect we will hold on to Him as strongly as He is holding on to us. Isn't it comforting to know our Lord holds our right hand?

Whatever it is you are facing today - may be an interview, may be a corporate decision, may be a test result, may be about a transfer order, whatever it is, remember He holds your right hand.

King David sings in Psalm 16:8, "I have set the LORD always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken." True! Because He is at our right hand we will not be shaken! Praise God!

Let us repeat the verse, slightly altered: For you are the Lord, my God, who takes hold of my right hand and says to me not to fear and that you will help me. Amen!
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Abraham called that place The LORD Will Provide. And to this day it is said, "On the mountain of the LORD it will be provided." Genesis 22:14

We are all familiar with Abraham's trekking trip with young Isaac to one of the mounts in Moriah. We have heard about it time an time again and admire at Abraham's faith.

Let us for a moment think of the plight Abraham was in. He was childless for all his life holding on to God's promises for over 80 years and now finally God has blessed him with a son, but asks him to sacrifice him. Just imagine how hard it is.

Reading the passage carefully we can see that Abraham already knew what was going to happen at the eleventh hour! He knew his son was in safe hands, he knew God was not that cruel after all, he knew it was a test for him, he knew God's promises to bless his descendants like ocean sand will be fulfilled through Isaac, he knew they were both going to return from their trip safe and sound, and above all he knew God was going to provide for the offering! It all came to pass just as he believed.

Now, how are we doing when it comes to believing that the Lord will provide? On hearing a bad news such as job cut or pay cut or hours cut, what is our reaction? Do we panic or do we keep our cool believing that it will be provided at the Lord's mountain? Do we immediately withhold our tithes and offering or continue to open our hands to bless God's ministry and the poor and the needy?

If we are not certain, let us pray "Help me overcome my unbelief!" Mark 9:24
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On the eighth day, when it was time to circumcise him, he was named Jesus, the name the angel had given him before he had been conceived. Luke 2:21

How sweet - Jesus! Say it with me, Jesus! You will agree it is the most popular name ever, of all age and time. It is the name above all names! Jesus!

For those who still think Jesus as a man, here's something to think about. Only for about 3 1/2 years Jesus was publicly preaching, doing miracles and the like. There was no TV or Internet to broadcast His messages across the universe at that time. How do you suppose His name has stood the test over thousands of years?! Can you change a life by telling someone about any other person who have lived on this earth - past & present? good and bad? How is it that the name Jesus is still changing lives? Still working wonders?

Philippians 2:5-11 has the answer. It says, Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.

And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death— even death on a cross!

Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Amen! Jesus is the name above every name. We are so privileged to have such a personal relationship with Him. Not only that. He knows us by our name and loves us the best. Isn't that something?!
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* Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall. Psalm 55:22
* Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. I Peter 5:7
* I am the one who answers your prayers and cares for you. Hosea 14:8
* And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you Matthew: 6:30
* You saw how the LORD your God cared for you all along the way as you traveled through the wilderness, just as a father cares for his child. Deuteronomy 1:31

Today's message is specially for those who constantly worry about this or that. The verses here make it crystal clear that our Lord will sustain us through our tough times as long as we cast our cares on Him. What does it mean to cast our cares on the Lord?

It simply means bringing our burdens to His feet, praying it over from the depth of our hearts, crying it over (if we feel like) at His feet (not to anyone else), and then no longer be burdened by it but rejoice in His love. You might ask how is it even possible not to be burdened by it?

The answer is if you truly believe God will answer your prayers and handle it for you, you will know better to refrain from worrying further. Or in other words if you continue to worry it only means you have not trusted Him to lead you through.

I am casting all my worries right away; hope you will join me too!
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Jeshurun grew fat and kicked; filled with food, he became heavy and sleek. He abandoned the God who made him and rejected the Rock his Savior. Deuteronomy 32:15

New Living Translation helps us understand it better: Israel soon became fat and unruly; the people grew heavy, plump, and stuffed! Then they abandoned the God who had made them; they made light of the Rock of their salvation.

We read in the verses before that how God nourished Jeshuran. It says, "He made him ride on the heights of the land and fed him with the fruit of the fields. He nourished him with honey from the rock, and with oil from the flinty crag, with curds and milk from herd and flock and with fattened lambs and goats, with choice rams of Bashan and the finest kernels of wheat.You drank the foaming blood of the grape..."

Yet, they abandoned the Lord... how sad is that...

Sadly we too do just the same - from time to time. When blessed by the Lord we tend to forget the one who blessed us and go after the "blessings". With much prayer we start a job or business and soon it takes the upper hand on us - we give into the demands neglecting the closeness with our God who blessed us with the flourishing business in the first place. When health is suffering we cling to His feet and when we feel better we get too busy doing everything else other than sitting at His feet.

It is important to claim God's promises for ourselves and receive His blessings and nourishment for our physical & spiritual needs; but it is even more important to hold on to our Rock & Salvation when we are fat and merry! A grateful heart is all we can offer and that is all what is expected of us! Is it hard?!
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* Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs. Psalms 100:2
* Rejoice before the LORD your God, you, your sons and daughters... Deuteronomy 12:12

It is a beautiful new day, a brand new week - is it not?! As we get ready to go worship the Lord in the congregation of fellow believers, let us remember these verses and the emphasis today is on gladness.

In Isaiah 35:10 we read, "...the ransomed of the LORD will return. They will enter Zion with singing; everlasting joy will crown their heads. Gladness and joy will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee away."

Aren't we the "ransomed of the Lord"? Are we glad this morning? In spite of everything going on in our lives, we are still breathing - which alone is enough to be singing joyful songs at His presence.

For the rest of the day let us cast away our cares and go before him with joyful singing... shall we?
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"If you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift." Matthew 5:23,24

Since we all can relate to gifts this time of the year, thought we will do a "gift" scripture today.... how's that?! The scripture is very clear as is and and I don't think we need any explanations.

The question today is, does your brother/sister, mother/father, son/daughter, aunt/uncle, friend/coworker/neighbor have something against you? Let's sit back and think it over. The question is not who is right. I am positive you are right, but if someone got offended, let's quickly go and reconcile first before offering our gifts this season.

Hey, how about sending them a nice letter with a family portrait? Or how about go knock at their door a Sunday afternoon? I did just that. It seems a little awkward I am sure, but trust me you will be glad you did it! You will feel lighter and merrier and better yet your gift offering will be more pleasing to God.
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"Awake, awake, O Zion, clothe yourself with strength" Isaiah 52:1

We have discussed this verse several times at the coffee table before. Today also the Lord intends to speak to us through this very message: "Awake, awake; put on thy strength!".

What does it mean to clothe our self with strength? That brings us to yet another question: What is strength?

A quick look up in the dictionary suggests many meanings for the word 'strength':
1. The state, property, or quality of being strong.
2. The power to resist attack; impregnability.
3. The power to resist strain or stress; durability.
4. The ability to maintain a moral or intellectual position firmly.
5. Capacity or potential for effective action

Now that we know the meaning of strength, we kind of get an idea of what it means to "put on our strength". In simple words it means to "resist the attack" or "being strong".

These are very important for our spiritual life. We cannot be weak swaying whichever way the wind blows. We need to be strong in our fundamental beliefs in accordance with the Word of God, which will enable us to resist the attack from the devil, from the world and even from within.

So, hopefully you will add some 'strength' to your wardrobe this season - won't you?!
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The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. John 1:14

True! The Word became flesh! But making a dwelling among us is not something He forces on us. It is true only if we allow Him to dwell among us - within us! Otherwise He stands at the door knocking!

In Revelation 3:20 we read, "Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me."

If you think about it, we only live with the people we love, eat with the people we are friends with, not just any strangers. Dining together is an intimate experience where we are no longer at guard but relaxed, where our true self is revealed, where we have open conversations forgetting about our backgrounds & social differences and where we come together to connect better.

What a privilege it is to have Him dwell in us, dining with us! How wonderful it is to experience Him so close, at an arm's length, sharing the same meal with us, taking in conversations on our mundane activties! All we have done (or for some, yet to do) is open our hearts.

When we open our hearts, the Word that became flesh will dwell among us! Amen!