Daily devotions for the Lentel season from Sunday, 19th February 2012 onwards - A Joint venture of the Mar Thoma Sabha Office and Mar Thoma Yuvajana Sakhyam(Outside Kerala).
You can send your Prayer requests at: http://marthoma.in/prayerrequest
Day 50:8th April 2012
The cross of the Mar Thoma Church proclaims that Christ has risen. It is a symbol of hope.
The cross has always been offensive to some. The apostle Paul explicitly mentioned that “the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing” (1 Cor. 1:18). To be saved eternally by the unjust execution of a Jew centuries ago—what an offense to human pride, goodness, and self-sufficiency! Without that cross, however, the empty tomb would be meaningless. That is why Paul gratefully exclaimed, “God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Gal. 6:14).
In Luke 23 and 24, note how many times the body of Jesus and the tomb are mentioned. On that first Easter morning, the women came to a grave to anoint a corpse with spices for proper burial. In the deep sorrow of that awful finality, they were stunned by news that seemed too amazing to be true: “He is not here, but is risen!” (Lk. 24:6). Nearly 2,000 years ago, Jesus’ arrest and subsequent crucifixion caused many of His followers to despair. The disciples themselves had lost hope. But their despondency evaporated on that first Easter morning when they found that the stone sealing the tomb had been moved aside (John 20:1). Jesus had risen!
Jesus soon appeared to Mary Magdalene (vv.11-16) and then to His disciples, who had gathered behind locked doors (v.19). His visit brought a remarkable change in them. As one version renders it, they were “overjoyed” (v.20 NIV). It was a transition from a dead faith to an alive faith. He rose! And with Him hope arose, and life and light. Men said, “Not Christ, but death, died yesternight.” And joy and truth and all things virtuous Rose when He rose.
As we remember our Lord’s death on the cross, our hearts are filled with love and gratitude. But we don’t linger on that Palestinian hillside where death seems to have triumphed. We hasten on to resurrection morning with its jubilant hallelujahs of victory. All the events of Holy Week are woven into an awesome tapestry of grace. The blood-stained tree and the empty tomb belong together. To leave the cross out of Easter is a fatal omission.
THE EMPTY CROSS AND THE EMPTY TOMB ARE THE TWO PILLARS OF SALVATION
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About 200 youths have been assigned to fast and pray for these requests.
Day 49:7th April 2012
Something strange is happening - there is a great silence on earth today, a great silence and stillness. The whole earth keeps silence because the King is asleep. The earth trembled and is still because God has fallen asleep in the flesh and he has raised up all who have slept ever since the world began. God has died in the flesh and hell trembles with fear.
He has gone to search for our first parent, as for a lost sheep. Greatly desiring to visit those who live in darkness and in the shadow of death, he has gone to free from sorrow the captives Adam and Eve. The Lord says “see on my face the spittle I received in order to restore to you the life I once breathed into you. See there the marks of the blows I received in order to refashion your warped nature in my image. On my back see the marks of the scourging I endured to remove the burden of sin that weighs upon your back. See my hands, nailed firmly to a tree, for you who once wickedly stretched out your hand to a tree.
I slept on the cross and a sword pierced my side for you who slept in paradise and brought forth Eve from your side. My side has healed the pain in yours. My sleep will rouse you from your sleep in hell. The sword that pierced me has sheathed the sword that was turned against you.”
M.T.Y.S: The disciples who lived through Friday and Sunday learned that when God seems most absent He may be closest of all. When God looks most powerless He may be most powerful, when God looks most dead He may be coming back to life. They learned never to count God out.
Good Friday and easter Sundays are perhaps the most significant days of the entire church calendar, and yet in real sense, we live our lives on Saturday the day in between.
An achen once delivered a stirring Good Friday sermon titled “It’s Friday, but Sunday’s Comin’.” In a cadence that increases in tempo and volume, his sermon contrasts how the world looked on Friday—when the forces of evil seemed to have triumphed—with how it looked on Sunday. The disciples who lived through both days never doubted God again. They learned that when God seems most absent, He may be closest of all.
The sermon skips one day, though—Saturday—the day with no name. What the disciples lived through in small scale, we now live through on cosmic scale. It’s Saturday on planet earth; will Sunday ever come?
That dark, Golgothan Friday can only be called good because of what happened on Sunday. Easter opened up a crack in a universe winding down toward decay. And someday God will enlarge the miracle of Easter to cosmic scale.
Meanwhile, we wait in hopeful anticipation, living out our days on Saturday, the in-between day with no name.
THE SILENCE OF THE WOMB AND THE SILENCE OF THE TOMB CHANGED HISTORY AS WE KNOW IT
Day 48:6th April 2012
Now this word that Christ employs well deserves our attention, for it shows that the whole accomplishment of our salvation, and all the parts of it, are contained in His death, but Christ only intends to keep our faith fixed on Himself alone and not to allow it to turn aside in any direction whatsoever. The meaning therefore, is that, everything which contributes to the salvation of humans is to be found in Christ and not to be sought anywhere else. The perfection of salvation is contained in Him. There is also an implied contrast, for Christ, contrasts His death with all the ancient sacrifices and with all the figures. It is as if He had said, “of all that was practised under the law, there was nothing that had any power in itself to make atonement for sins, to appease the wrath of God, and to obtain justification, but now the true salvation is exhibited and manifested to the world.”
So many of our hopes and dreams remain unfulfilled. Composer Franz Schubert departed this world leaving behind his “Unfinished Symphony.” Similarly, prolific author Charles Dickens was unable to fully develop the plot of his novel The Mystery of Edwin Drood.
We too undoubtedly have aspirations that we will be unable to fulfill. But, what a blessing to know that the work of our redemption was totally and perfectly accomplished by Jesus on the cross.
The last words of Jesus, “It is finished,” are actually a single word in the original language (John 19:30). But that word holds oceans of meaning. What Jesus gasped was “Completed!” or “Ended!” That cry from the cross announced that not only had His suffering come to an end but also His redemptive work was eternally accomplished. All that He had come to achieve in His human life was finished. Done! Jesus, “the author and finisher of our faith” (Heb. 12:2)
God in the beginning said “it is good” those were the affirmative words of creation. “it is finished” is the proclamatory words of recreation. The second Adam’s ending words, should become the starting words of the third Adams i.e. we. It should recreate in us the Imagio Dei.
‘IT IS FINISHED’ THE FIRST WORDS OF RE—CREATION AND REDEMPTION
Day 47:5th April 2012
In the priest Melchisedek we see prefigured the sacrament of the sacrifice of the Lord, Now he was a priest of the most High God, and blessed Abraham. And that Melchisedek was a type of Christ. For who is more a priest of the most high God than Our Lord Jesus Christ, Who offered a sacrifice to God the Father, and offered the very same thing which Melchisedek had offered, that is, bread and wine, i.e. His Body and Blood. For if Jesus Christ Our Lord and God is Himself the chief priest of God the Father, and has first offered Himself a sacrifice to the Father, and has commanded that this be done in commemoration of Himself, certainly the priest truly discharges the office of Christ.
From the moment when He broke His Body for His disciples, and gave it to them, one begins to count the three days during which He was among the dead. Adam practically, after eating of the fruit of the tree, lived a long time, even though he was counted among the dead for having disobeyed the commandment of God. God had spoken to him thus 'The day when you eat of it, you will die.' Thus it was for Our Lord. It was because He had given them His Body to eat in view of the mystery of His death that He entered into their bodies as He entered later on into the earth.
In Genesis 14:18 Melchisedek the High Priest and King of Salem offers a sacrifice of bread and wine. In Hebrews 7 Christ is priest after the order of Melchisedek in fulfillment of the prophecy of Psalm 110:4: "Thou art a priest forever according to the order of Melchisedek." The Apostles offered the Eucharist in Jerusalem and Troas (Acts 2 and 20), and in Corinth the sacrifice of Christians is contrasted with the sacrifices of the Temple and to the sacrifice of the pagans (1 Cor. 10-11). In Malachi 1:11 the last of the Old Testament prophets declares: "From the rising of the sun to its setting, my name is great among the gentiles, and in every place there is sacrifice, and there is offered to my name a clean oblation" (Mal. 1:11).
When Jesus instituted the Lord’s Supper (Matt. 26:26-29), it was surely with an eye toward creating this same kind of prophetic, spiritual, generational and emotional bond. Our participation in the Lord’s Table honors His sacrifice while also granting us a connection to Him unlike any other act of remembrance. It connects us to a time that predates even the birth of Jesus in flesh. The last supper, became the first supper of it’s kind.
It is a supper of:
Solidarity: solidarity with the suffering of Christ
Sacrifice: Just as Christ offered himself as a sacrifice , so are we to offer ourself as a sacrifice
The last supper, is the focal point of the Passion of Christ. A meeting point of the past, the present and the future. Let us see the supper and in the supper see Jesus. For then the supper is complete.
A SUPPER THAT PROVIDED NOURISHMENT THROUGH DEATH: THE LAST SUPPER.
Day 46:5th April 2012
The savior teaches nothing in a merely human way, but teaches His own, with Divine and mystic wisdom. Therefore, we must search out and learn the meaning hidden in them. For, what the Lord seems to have simplified for the disciples requires even more attention than puzzling statements because of its overabundance of wisdom. In addition, the things He explained to His children require even more consideration than the things which seem to have been simply stated. Those who heard such explanations did’nt ask questions, because the Lord’s words pertaining to the entire design of salvation were meant to be contemplated with awe and a deep spiritual mind. We must not receive these words superficially with our ears, but must apply our minds to understanding the spirit of the savior and the unspoken meaning of His words
M.T.Y.S: The Taj Mahal in India is a magnificent mausoleum. Built entirely of white marble, it was commissioned by the Emperor Shah Jehan in memory of his wife, who died suddenly. It took 22 years to complete. Millions of tourists visit this memorial annually in order to see this grand structure the emperor ordered to be built in memory of the woman he loved.
Millions of people also throng to Jerusalem to look at another site—a tomb that some say may have been where Jesus was buried. No matter what tomb He lay in, Jesus occupied it for only a few days. It has been empty for thousands of years.
Jesus doesn’t need us to build a memorial to Him. Instead, He gave us the Lord’s Supper (communion) as a memorial to remember Him. On the night He was betrayed, Jesus took bread and the cup and gave thanks to His Father before offering them to His disciples (Luke 22:14-21). Each time we partake of those elements in church, we are first to examine ourselves and our relationship with God (1 Cor. 11:28). “As often as [we] eat this bread and drink this cup” we are to do so in remembrance of the One we love, till He comes (vv.25-26).
The Lord has given us an enduring memorial to remind us of what He has done for us. The bread and cup, speaks of His love sublime.
THE LORD’S SUPPER IS CHRIST’S MEMORIAL OF MELODIES AND MALADIES
Day 45:4th April 2012
Spending long time in prayer isn’t as some think, the same thing as praying “with much speaking.” Multiplied word’s are one thing, but the sustained warmth of desire is another. It is written that the Lord continued all night in prayers and that His prayers were prolonged when He was in agony. This is an example for us. If we are paying attention to our souls far be it from us to use ‘much speaking” in prayer, or to refrain from “prolonged prayer.” To talk a lot in prayer is to cheapen and overuse our words while asking for something necessary. But to prolong prayer is to have our hearts throb with continuous pious emotions towards the One we pray to. In most cases prayer consists more of groaning than of speaking, of tears rather than words. He sees our tears. Our groaning isn’t hidden from Him. For He made everything by a word and doesn’t need human words.
M.T.Y.S: After washing His disciples’ feet and celebrating the Passover with them, Jesus led them into a familiar garden and “began to be sorrowful and deeply distressed” (Matthew 26:37). Going a bit farther with Peter, James, and John, He said, “My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here and watch with Me” (v.38).
Then, walking a short distance away, Jesus “fell on His face” before God, saying, “O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will” (v.39). He did this three times (v.44).
How do we account for such a surge of emotional turmoil? Only by understanding the “cup” that Jesus asked His Father to take from Him. He was about to bear “the iniquity of us all” (Isaiah 53:6). That “cup” was filled with the sins of the whole world.
The agony of Gethsemane would culminate on the cross in His heart-wrenching cry: “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” (Matthew 27:46). Jesus’ physical pain was nothing compared with Calvary’s deepest pain—the awful reality of being abandoned by His Father. God made Jesus “to be sin for us” (2 Corinthians 5:21), so the Father had to turn away from Him.
THE AGONY OF GETHSEMANE CONQUERED THE ATROCITIES OF GOLGOTHA
Day 44:3rd April 2012
The Lord Jesus loves his people so much, that everyday he is still doing for them much that is analogous to washing their soiled feet. Their poorest actions he accepts; their deepest sorrow he feels; their slenderest wish he hears, and their every transgression he forgives. He is still their servant as well as their friend and master. . . Humbly patiently, he yet goes about among his people with the basin and the towel. He does this when he puts away from us day by day our constant infirmities and sins . . . It is a great act of eternal love when Christ once for all absolves the sinner and puts him in the family of God; but what condescending patience there is when the saviour with much longsuffering bears the oft recurring follies of his wayward disciples; day by day, hour by hour. While we find comfort and peace in our Lord’s daily cleansing, its legitimate influence upon us will be to increase our watchfulness, and quicken our desire for holiness. Is it so?
M.T.Y.S: Once, a person was given a small towel with a hand-stitched design symbolizing Jesus washing His disciples’ feet. That towel served mostly as a decoration for a few years until one of his daughters accidentally used it to clean the car. The commemorative towel has been scrubbed with stain remover and sent through the washer, but it’s indelibly marked by grease and grime.
At first the person was miffed at having his memento used to wash the car. But then he began to see that towel as a picture of himself, and it caused him to ask some questions. When it comes to serving others, do I reserve myself for special occasions instead of doing an ordinary job today? When Jesus washed and wiped His disciples’ feet, didn’t His towel get dirty? What’s a towel for—decoration or demonstration?
Jesus said, “If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet” (Jn. 13:14). Jesus knew that one of His disciples had already decided to betray Him. Another would deny Him, the next morning, this night everybody will desert Him, in the next hours they would repeatedly display ignorance, laziness and lack of trust. He had good reasons to deny the entire group. But He deliberately washed their feet. His washing of their feet was for:
1. Strengthening it to be swift, for spreading the Gospel
2. Strongholding it to crush the head of Satan
3. Empowering it to kneel diligently
4. Focussing it to run for the race, the race of eternal prize.
WHEN JESUS WASHED HIS DISCIPLES’ FEET HE STOOPED DOWN TO MEET THEIR NEED Day 43:2nd April 2012
Christ’s public entry into Jerusalem seems so altogether different from, inconsistent with His previous mode of appearance. Evidently the time for silence so long enjoined had passed, and that for public declaration had come. And such indeed this entry was. From the moment of His sending forth the two disciples to His acceptance of the homage of the multitude, and His rebuke of the Pharisee’s attempt to arrest it, all must be regarded as designed or approved by Him. Not only a public assertion of His messiahship, but a claim to its national acknowledgement. And yet even so, it was not to be the messiah of Israel’s conception, but of a prophetic picture. In contrast to the earthly warfare and kingly triumph, another kingdom, of which the just king would be the prince of peace, who was meek and lowly in His advent, who would speak peace to the heathen, and whose sway would extend to earth’s utmost bounds.
M.T.Y.S: HOSANNA IS A CONFLUENCE OF IGNORANCE: The people who enthusiastically cried, “Hosanna!” on Palm Sunday shouted, “Crucify Him! Crucify Him!” a few days later. Some may have been keenly disappointed, even angry, that Christ didn’t use His miraculous power to establish an earthly kingdom. Hadn’t He created a golden opportunity to rally popular support by parading into Jerusalem and offering Himself as King? They ignored His love, His care, His compassion, His miracles, His prophecy, His spirituality, His kingdom.
HOSANNA IS A CONFLUENCE OF CONTRASTS: He who is the Bread of Life began His ministry hungering. He who is the Water of Life ended His ministry thirsting. Christ hungered as a man, yet fed the hungry as God. He was weary, yet He is our rest. He paid tribute, yet He is the King. He was called a devil, but He cast out demons. He prayed, yet He hears prayer. He wept, and He dries our tears. He was sold for 30 pieces of silver, yet He redeems sinners. He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, yet He is the Good Shepherd. He gave His life, and by dying He destroyed death. On that first Palm Sunday, one might have expected Jesus the King to enter Jerusalem on a mighty steed. But He chose instead a lowly donkey.
HOSANNA IS A CONFLUENCE OF COMMITMENT: The donkey was the most committed, submitting itself to it’s master, the children donned the scene with their praises, the poor decorated the road with palm leaves and clothing, the elderly remembered the prophecies of the old and were loyal to the extension of the kingdom of David. This hosanna let us commit ourselves to the Lord. Hosanna, glory to God in Highest!
HOSANNA IS NOT JUST A DECORATION OF PRAISES BUT A DEDICATION OF PIETY
Day 42:1st April 2012
The God of all things and of His holy angels was made known beforehand through the prophets… As a result, all the Jewish people hung in expectation of His coming. After Jesus’ arrival, however they fell into a keen dispute with each other. A large number acknowledged Christ and believed Him to be the object of prophecy while others did’nt believe in Him…Instead they dared to inflict upon Jesus cruelties , which His disciples truthfully and candidly recorded. But both Jesus and His disciples desired that His followers would’nt believe merely in His Godhead and miracles, but that they would also see that He had descended into human nature and into the midst of human miseries. He assumed a human soul and body. From Him there began the union of the divine with human nature, in order that the human, by communion with the divine, might rise to be divine…Everyone who lives according to Jesus’ teaching rises to a friendship with God and communion with Him.
M.T.Y.S: What if the donkey on which Jesus was riding had thought all the cheering was for him? What if that small animal had believed that the hosannas and the branches were in his honor? The donkey was only a Christ-bearer and not the object of praise.
The triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem a few days before His death focused attention on Christ as Lord. When Jesus sent His disciples to get the colt He was to ride, He instructed them to tell its owners, “The Lord has need of it” (Luke 19:31). And when the crowds shouted their praise, they quoted Psalm 118:26, saying, “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord!” (Luke 19:38).
In recording Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem, Matthew referred to the prophecy of Zechariah: “Tell the daughter of Zion, ‘Behold, your King is coming to you, lowly, and sitting on a donkey, a colt, the foal of a donkey’” (Matthew 21:5; see Zechariah 9:9).
On Palm Sunday, the donkey was merely a Christ-bearer, bringing the Son of God into the city where He would give His life for the sins of the world.
If we could develop a healthy “donkey attitude,” what an asset that would be as we travel the road of life. Instead of wondering what people think of us, our concern would be, “Can they see Christ Jesus, the King?” Rather than seeking credit for service rendered, we would be content to lift up the Lord.
HOSSANA WAS THE ROAD FILLED WITH PALMS, PRAISE AND PERSECUTION
Day 41:31st March 2012
All life has need for food: it is sustained by nourishment which it takes in from without. The heavenly life must have heavenly food. Nothing less than Jesus is the bread of life. This heavenly food ,Jesus, is brought near to us in two of the means of grace: the word and the Lord’s supper. The word comes to present Jesus to us from the side of the emotional life, by the physical senses. The supper is the pledge that the Lord will change our body of humiliation and make it like His own glorified body by the working whereby He subdues all things to himself. In the supper, Christ would take possession of the whole man, body and soul, to renew and sanctify it by the power of His body and blood. Even His body shares in His glory, even His body is communicated by the Holy Spirit. Even His body is communicated by the Holy Spirit. Even our body is fed with His hly body and renewed by the working of the Holy Spirit.
M.T.Y.S: We live in a time where people give their bodies for enjoyment of all sort of pleasures good or bad, notwithstanding. Not so, for Mr. Sanu Abraham. Sanu, a member of Bethel, Krishnarajapuram Mar Thoma Church was diagonised with cancer. As a result of it, his one arm had to be amputated. Working as a male nurse in a hospital, he utilised the time and opportunity to witness for Jesus. He propagated the message of how Jesus is with you in your times of trouble. His message was the message of the cross. Many sick patients especially those suffering from cancer were motivated and strengthened in their faith through Sanu. His body became his message.
Theological insights about the suffering Jesus endured in His body from Friday second part, sandhya namaskaram, pg 137, 144 & 145
1. He held the burden of the whole creation in His hands on the cross
2. He, the second Adam was stripped of his clothes, in obedience to the father, whereas the first Adam, clothed his nakedness in disobedience.
3. The blood that flowed from head to toe of Jesus, through the wounds, vanquished sin ( Rom 3:25)
4. His head was decorated by the crown of thorns so that our head will be adorned by the crown of Life ( John 19:5, Zechariah 9:16, Rev 2:10)
5. The nail pierced hands and legs, and the spear pierced chest, was the lament of love (Col 2:14)
After breaking bread and giving it to His disciples, Jesus said, “Take, eat; this is My body” (Matt. 26:26). Breaking bread was a traditional part of Passover, but adding “this is my body” was a striking departure from the familiar liturgy. The disciples must have been bewildered. Later the meaning became clear. Jesus was born in Bethlehem, which means “house of Bread.” He was laid in a manger—a feeding trough. He once said, “I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is My flesh” (John 6:51). On the cross, the perfect Lamb of God, was broken so that we can be whole. “This is My body which is broken for you.” May we taste and see that the life He offers is sweeter than anything we concoct for ourselves.
His head, His hands, His feet,
Sorrow and love flow mingled down;
Did e’er such love and sorrow meet
Or thorns compose so rich a crown? —Watts
Day 40:30th March 2012
It is indeed the lowliest of all memorable processions which He plans, and yet in its very humility, it appeals to ancient prophecy, and says unto Zion that her king cometh unto her. The monarchs of the east and the captains of the west, might ride upon horses as for war, but the king of Zion, would come unto her as meek, and sitting upon an ass, upon a colt a fool of an ass. Yet there is fitness and dignity in the use of “ a colt whereon no man sat,” and it reminds us of other facts, such as He was the firstborn of a virgin mother, and rested in a tomb which corruption had never soiled.
Thus He came forth, the gentlest of the mighty, with no swords gleaming around to guard Him, or to smite the foreigner who tramples Israel, or the worse foes of her own household. Men who will follow such a king must lay aside their vain and earthly ambitions, and awake to the truth that spiritual powers are grander than any which violence ever grasped.
M.T.Y.S: Once in church when people came for the Hossana Sunday, they were amazed and surprised to see palm leaves shaped in the shape of a cross, strung on every window, bench and door. To add to it they were gifted with on ‘palm cross’ to take back home and treasure it as a reminder. But what they didn’t knew was that, it was made possible by one youth named Vinu who laboured a week, to prepare all these palm leaves among his busy schedule. Vinu was suffering from cancer. It was his ‘palm offering’ in his own small way. It is said that, from that hosanna Sunday, every hosanna Sunday, youths of that church used to come together and prepare palm crosses to be taken by everyone. Vinu died eventually, but his memoirs still lingers as a ‘palm offering’.
Jesus chose a time when all Israel would be gathered at Jerusalem, a place where huge crowds could see Him, and a way of proclaiming his mission.
WHAT IS OUR PALM OFFERING? OUR ACTIONS? OUR ATTITUDE? OUR ALL IN ALL?
TIME- PLACE- WAY: The three pillars of fame. Many invent, discover, alter it in such a way so as to be famous. But not for the Son of Man.
TIME- Probably a wintery night
PLACE- No place to stay, with only the womb of the virgin as refuge
WAY- Humane of human, vulnerable to the core.
TIME- A time to run away, when all the leaders were plotting to kill Him
PLACE- Jerusalem, not the high places but the streets of the lowly and the weary
WAY- Claded on a donkey
TIME- At an age of 33 when the young, climb the ladder of their career
PLACE- Golgotha, the place of shame where the sinful are transgressed
WAY- Crucifixion, a punishment associated with the lawless
Can we be the learners of this truth. I am the Truth said he and showed us the Way, the way of the Truth.
Day 39:29th March 2012
What sort of garland did Jesus Christ submit to on behalf of humanity? One made of thorns and thistles, a symbol of our sins produced by the soil of the flesh. However, the power of the cross removed this thorns, blunting death’s every sting in the Lord’s enduring head. Yes, even beyond this symbol, contempt, shame, disgrace, and fierce cruelty disfigured and lacerated the Lord’s temples. This was so that now you might be crowned with laurel, myrtle, olive and with roses and with both kinds of lily, violets of all sorts and perhaps with gems and gold, garlands that will rival even the crown Christ obtained afterwards. If you owe your own head to Him for these things, repay it if you can. He presented His for your’s. That is, His mercy.
Theological insights about the mercy of God from Friday second part, sandhya namaskaram pg 141 & 142
God in His mercy:
1. Renewed the creation through his unimaginable obedience
2. Nullified the disobedience of the first Adam
3. Even though been the only begotten word, allowed his persecutors to say false words against Him
4. Carried the cross to Golgotha
5. Allowed them to place the crown of thorns, spit on Him, to pierce Him with the spear and put a red garment on Him.
A. W. Tozer recalled the prayer of a man who had the idea that he could earn heaven as a reward for trying to keep the Ten Commandments. It went something like this: “Now, God, I admit I have not kept number 1 and number 3 and number 7 and number 9. But remember, Father, that I have kept all the others.”
How foolish! This man failed to see that if he had broken one commandment, he was guilty of breaking them all (Jas. 2:10). His works were earning him condemnation, not salvation.
As the apostle Paul reviewed his 30-plus years of sacrificial service, he saw himself as the “chief” of sinners and totally dependent on God’s mercy. Although he undoubtedly anticipated the rewards he would receive, he gloried only in the cross (Gal. 6:14). There Jesus paid the price for sin so that everyone who trusts in Him will receive mercy.
It was on the cross that a sin-canceling atonement was made by the Savior, Jesus Christ. Now, full and free forgiveness is granted to anybody and everybody on the basis of faith alone. All calculation of merit is excluded. All weighing of good deeds on a scale is ruled out.
The demands of God’s perfect justice were met when our substitute, Jesus Christ, bore our sin on the cross, suffered our penalty, and paid our debt (Rom. 3:24). It was because of God’s great love that He saved us. Titus 3 says, “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us” (v.5). Mercy immense and free, found out us sinners.
MERCY IS, NOT RECEIVING WHAT WE DO DESERVE
Day 38:28th March 2012
If a single sin is so awful that you think it’s safer not ven to aim for a holy life, how much more awful it is for an entire life to practise sin, and remain absolutely ignorant of the purer way! How can you in your indugent life obey the crucified? How can you obey paul when he urges you to “….present your body as living holy sacrifice…” when you are conformed unto this world and not transformed by the renewing of our minds. How can you do this when you aren’t walking in the newness of life, but still pursue the routine of “the old man”? does all these seem insignificant to you? What greater blessings can we imagine for you, if you make light the consequences of these things? For the consquences of being crucified with Christ, is that we will live with Him, be glorified with Him and reign with Him. That is our hope.
M.T.Y.S: On June 26, 2010, His Grace Joseph mar Thoma, The Metrapolitan of the Mar Thoma Church celebrated his 80th birthday. Lot of wishes and accolades followed from all quarters of society and church. But the words that stood out amidst these were of his Grace’s himself. He expressed his desire to raise money for people suffering from life threatening disease. One crore each. Thus was born ‘snehakaram’ a project of hope for the hopeless and helpless. The Mar Thoma Church is a church of hope for many.
we are all ambassadors of hope. But when our hope dies out, we can have hope beyond this earthly life! All we need to do is embrace by faith the saving message of the cross: Jesus died for our sins and rose again so that we might live eternally with Him. Do you believe in that hope? Then join with the apostle Paul in affirming that “we trust in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of those who believe” (1 Tim. 4:10). Stand at the foot of the cross, and your only possible conclusion is that Jesus is divine. Listen to Him forgive those who sought to destroy Him, and you realize that only God can forgive with such grace. Overhear Him speak hope to the dying criminal at His side, “Today you will be with Me in Paradise” (Lk. 23:43). Catch His words above the wails of the mourners as He does what no human can—He commits His spirit to God the Father, in effect releasing Himself to death (Lk. 23:46; Jn. 10:17-18).
This was no mortal hanging below a sign with the mocking words that underestimated His identity (Lk. 23:38). This was God Incarnate, doing the work He alone could do—by becoming Immanuel, God with us (Mt. 1:23).The cross is our hope for eternity, no merit have we of our own, the shed blood of Christ our only plea, our trust is in Jesus alone.
HOPE IS A DAILY REFLECTION OF THE ETERNAL CROSS
Day 37:27th March 2012
You must be saved by God’s plan. It was love that prompted God to send His Son to save us and shed His blood. That was the plan. And without the blood what hope have you? There is not a sin from your childhood. From your cradle, up till now that can be forgiven, unless by the blood. Let us take God at His word: “without the shedding of blood there can be no remission of sins.” Without the blood, no remission whatever. I don’t see how man can fail to comprehend this. That’s what Christ died for on calvary. If a man makes light of that blood, what hope has he? How are you going to get into the Kingdom of God? You cannot join in the song of saints if you don’t go into heaven that way. You must accept the plan of redemption and come in through.
M.T.Y.S: Can any ‘homosapien’ imagine a living body without blood. No. we can’t. Blood is the fluid that not only supplies oxygen and all essential nutrients to the body, but also removes the waste from the body. It helps in regulating the body temperature, self-repairing mechanism and the list can go on and on. So, if biologically the natural blood is of such value, how much more valuable is the blood of Christ, spiritually.
In the Old Testament, the people of God, offered sacrifices over and over to cover their sins. But the blood of the animals didn’t actually “take away sins” (Heb. 10:11). Only the precious sacrifice of Jesus could do that!
Animal sacrifices are no longer needed because Christ’s sacrifice . . .
• was once for all—unlike animal sacrifices, which had to be offered “continually year by year” (vv.1-3,10).
• cleanses us completely from all guilt and sin—unlike the blood of animals that was a reminder of sin’s penalty and could never take away our sins (vv.3-6,11).
“By one offering [Christ] has perfected forever those who are being sanctified” (v.14). Only through Jesus can we be declared completely clean.
In Colossians 1, Paul uses a powerful word picture to describe what God had done for them all: “He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins” (vv.13-14). Let us trust in that blood.
THE BLOOD OF CHRIST, OXYGENATES THE SPIRITUAL BODY, THE CHURCH.
Day 36:26th March 2012
Satan had indeed been already accustomed to lie against God, for the purpose of leading men astray. He deceived adam and Eve by three falsehood in the garden of Eden, (Gen 3:1, 4, 5). In the garden of God he disputed about God, as if God was not there, for he was ignorant of the greatness of God. But that God was true, and the serpent a liar, was proved by the result, death having passed upon them who had eaten. For along with the fruit they did also fall under the power of death, because they ate in disobedience; and disobedience to God, entails death. Wherefore, as they became forfeit to death, from that [moment] they were handed over to it.
The Lord suffered death, in obedience to His Father, upon that day on which Adam died while he disobeyed God. Now he died on the same day in which he ate. The Lord, therefore, recapitulating in Himself this day, underwent His sufferings upon the day preceding the Sabbath, that is, the sixth day of the creation, on which day man was created; thus granting him a second creation by means of His passion, which is that [creation] out of death. For they died who tasted of the tree; and the serpent is proved a liar and a murderer, as the Lord said of him (John 8:44)
Those who eat of the tree on which Jesus died will live eternally.
M.T.Y.S : Satan’s sway over humankind began when he turned the minds of Adam and Eve against God. In order to pull it off, he had to lie to them about God—and they had to fall for it. In that defining moment, he lied to them about God’s goodness, God’s Word, and God’s intentions (Gen. 3:1-6). The Bible tells us that Satan is also in the business of fooling people with disguises. He “masquerades as an angel of light” (2 Cor. 11:14 NIV), but the Lord Jesus Christ has unmasked him as “a liar and the father of it” (John 8:44).
It should not be surprising, then, that when trouble interrupts our lives, the father of lies whispers in our ears and suddenly we are questioning God’s goodness. Thankfully, Jesus’ victory in the face of temptation provides a great example when we find ourselves in the wilderness of Satan’s sinister seductions.
Notice that the tempter caught Jesus at a time when He was tired and hungry. Satan uses the same tactic with us. Waiting for those vulnerable moments, he lures us with the bait of seductive suggestions that offer quick relief and opportunities for self-advancement. When facing such challenges, it’s important to follow Jesus’ example—throw “the Book” at Satan! Jesus responded to temptation by quoting Scripture
Our problem is that we, like Adam and Eve, believe Satan’s lies. And when we do, our loyalty to God is compromised. Then our enemy slithers off to his next assignment, leaving us alone to face our regrets and the realization that his lies have seduced us away from our truest and dearest Friend. Who have you been listening to lately? Satan can catch you by surprise and stop you in your tracks, so keep on guard and trust God’s Word, Resist his strong attacks.
JESUS POWER SUPER POWER, SATAN POWER POWERLESS POWER.
Day 35:25th March 2012
O, the divine mystery of that cross! Weakness hangs on it, power is freed by I, evil is nailed to it, and triumphal trophies are raised toward it. One saint said: “Pierce my flesh with nails for fear of thee.” He doesn’t mean nails of iron, but of fear and faith. For the chains of righteousness are stronger than those of punishment. Peter’s faith bound him when he followed the Lord, as far as the high priest’s hall. No person had bound him and punishment didn’t free him since his faith bound him. Again when Peter was bound by the jews, prayer freed him. Punishment didn’t hold him because he hadn’t turned from Christ.
Do you also crucify sin’s that you can die to sin? Those who die to sin live to God. Do you live for Him who didn’t even spare His own Son so that He could crucify our sins in His body? For Christ died for us so that we could live in His revived body. Therefore, our guilt and not our life died in Him who, it is said, “bare our sins in His own body on the tree; that being set free from our sins we might live in righteousness, by the wound of whose stripes we are healed.”
M.T.Y.S: Under the arch of India Gate, is a shrine, in which is a flame, burning since 1971. It is called Amar Jawan Jyoti ( the flame of the immortal soldier) which marks the tomb of the immortal soldier. It was unveiled by the then prime minister of India, Mrs. Indira Gandhi, after the India-Pakistan war of 1971. It was a homage, on behalf of the whole nation. It is a homage to the country’s fallen soldiers.
Loss comes to us all, and we often carry our grief for many years. We struggle with our emotions. Is there a place where we can leave our sorrows and find healing for the wounds of life? what can sweeten the painful experiences of life? “Only the cross of Christ.” The flame of the cross should burn in us eternally, Christ burned for us, in the flames of Sin on the cross.
The healing of the bitter waters of Marah in Exodus 15, is a prophetic picture of Christ’s sacrifice for our sin. Moses “cried out to the Lord, and the Lord showed him a tree. When he cast it into the waters, the waters were made sweet” (v.25).
The New Testament uses “the tree” as a metaphor to describe the cross on which our Savior died. In 1 Peter 2:24, for example, we read that Christ “Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree.”
Isaiah 53 speaks of the Messiah as the One who “has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows . . . . By His stripes we are healed” (vv.4-5). When we receive Jesus Christ as our Savior from sin, we also come to know Him as the One who can lift the weight of sadness from our shoulders. We can bring our grief to the Man of sorrows. There is help and healing and closure at the cross for the deepest pain of our hearts.
THE CROSS IS THE HOMAGE OF THE ETERNAL AND IMMORTAL ONE. JESUS CHRIST.
Day 34:24th March 2012
Now the most powerful meditation needs a spirit of counsel because “if the prince of this world had known it, he would not have crucified the Lord of glory” (1 Cor 2:8) But the Son of God hid His glory of divinity, revealing only the weakness of flesh, without sin. Thereby He took away the envy of the hostile wickedness by the holiness of his life. Through His weakness the enemy hoped to be victorious over Him.
Christ also aroused satan’s envy by His accompanying miracles which He used to strengthen man’s faith in Him as reconciler. Satan, the deceiver, having been deceived, inflicted on Christ, who was unworthy of punishment for sin, the penalty of sin, that is, a very cruel death.
Since the death was not incumbent upon Him- for He was without sin- by sharing this victory with sinful man, He absolved the accused through the punishment of His innocence.
M.T.Y.S: Different countries have different Intelligence agencies. These agencies, are filled with spies. Some are dead loyal to the organisation, while some trade their loyalties for some other countries. Money, sex, power, revenge and many other reasons can be stated for their mixed loyalties. They come to be known as ‘The Mole’ in the organisation.
Judas was the ‘mole’, within the fold of Jesus’ disciples. One of the most sobering lists in the Bible is God’s itemization of the seven things He hates, beginning with “a proud look” and concluding with “one who sows discord among brethren” (Prov. 6:16-19). Between those two are five other acts of betrayal, each represented by parts of the body: tongue, hands, heart, feet, and lips. With the lips he kissed Jesus, with the feet he was swift in bringing the soldiers to Jesus, with his heart he renounced Jesus, with his hands he took the silver coins and with his tongue he spoke out identifying Jesus.
Jesus knew about betrayal. He invested 3 years into the lives of His 12 disciples, one of whom was Judas. Jesus had taught him, performed miracles before his eyes, and even washed his feet. Yet Judas sold his allegiance for 30 pieces of silver. When Jesus predicted His own betrayal in John 13:18, He quoted David, who also knew what it was like to have a friend turn on him (Ps. 41:9). Let us see the Jesus in our brethren, and let us not betray the brethren.
THE KISS OF BETRAYAL: THE PARADOX OF CHRISTIAN HISTORY
Day 33:23rd March 2012
We Can say the ways of the lord are the courses of a good life, guided by Christ. He says, “I am the way, and the truth and the life.” The way, then , is the immense power of God. For Christ is our way, and a good way, too. He is the way that has opened the kingdom of heaven to believers. In addition, the Lord’s ways are straight. It is written: “make thy ways known unto me, o Lord,” Christ then is the beginning of our righteousness. He is the beginning of purity. Christ is the beginning of frugality, for He became poor even though He was rich. Christ is the beginning of patience, for when He was abuse verbally, He did not lash back. When He was struck, He did not strike back. Christ is the beginning of humility, for He took the form of a servant, even though He was equal with God the Father, in the power of His majesty. Every virtue has its origin in Christ.
M.T.Y.S: Once a seminary professor, was teaching to a group of minister wannabes. The professor wrote on the board the name of different religions. Then He drew a line from each religion and made it come to one point, and he named the point: God. That raised many eyebrows in the classroom.
Jesus made it clear to His disciples that He is “the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6). He didn’t say, He is one of the ways, and there are other ways that lead to God the Father, He said He is The way. He is the only way to the Father, and our belief and commitment to Him results in love and obedience—and leads to an eternal home in heaven.
And Peter said, “There is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). The only ticket to heaven goes to those who have put their faith in Jesus Christ and His death on the cross as payment for their sin. Not all roads lead to God, As many people claim, there’s only one true way, Christ Jesus is His name.
THE WAY OF CHRIST, IS THE WAY OF THE CROSS, THAT IS THE WAY TO HEAVEN: THE ONLY WAY
Day 32: 22nd March 2012
We are renewed day by day by making progress in our righteousness and true holiness through the knowledge of God. For those who do so transfer their love from temporal things to eternal things, from visible things to invisible things, from fleshly things to spiritual things. They do this in proportion to their help from God. For God said “without me ye can do nothing.” When the last day of life finds them holding on tightly to their faith in the mediator through such progress and growth, they will be welcomed by the holy angels. They will be led to God, whom they have worshipped, and will be perfected by Him. As a result they will receive an immortal body at the end of the world. They won’t be led to punishment, but to glow. For our likeness of God will be perfected into His image when our sight of God is perfected.
M.T.Y.S: The concept or better said the reality of self help group(SHG) is fast growing in India. In fact, it is mostly found in India rather than other countries. It is a group that operates in a village and consists of 10-20 local women. Regular savings are made by the members of the concerned SHG, and when substantial money is accumulated, then it is lended to those in need. This scheme has benefited a lot of poor women in rural India.
Christians are not in the business of self-help. Quite the opposite! To become a Christian requires that we admit our helplessness and acknowledge our total dependence on God. “Without Me, you can do nothing,” said Jesus (John 15:5).
The ancient Israelites were always getting in trouble for trusting human strength rather than God’s (Jer. 17:5). Yet even after their failures, the Lord said, “Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, and whose hope is the Lord” (v.7).
John 15 records Jesus’ lesson to His disciples about abiding in Him as the only means to a fruitful life. In the midst of His imagery of the vine and the branches, Jesus said: “You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you” (v.3). It is through the word that we depend on God. That’s why it is said” man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.”
IT’S NOT IN OUR ABILITY , BUT IN OUR AVAILIBILITY
Day 31: 21st March 2012
Don’t fish for compliments, lest you defy God while you are applauded. For Christ’s soldiers march on through good talk on the right hand and evil talk on the left. No praise excites them. No criticism crushes them. They aren’t puffed up by riches nor do they withdraw because of poverty. They despise both joy and sorrow. The sun does’nt burn them during the day nor the moon by the night. Don’t pray on street corners for the fear that human applause would interrupt your straight course of your prayers. Don’t wrap yourself in the self-interest of the Pharisees. Do you know what kind of dress the lord requires? Wisdom, justice, self-control, courage. Let these be the four edges of your horizon. Let them be a four horse team to carry you, Christ’s charioteer, to your goal at full speed. No necklace can be more precious than these. You are decorated by them, you are fastened in, you are protected on every side. They are your defense as well as your glory. For every gem is turned into a shield.
M.T.Y.S: “Cricket is my religion and Sachin is my God”, these, is a familiar sign, or a banner, if you are watching an Indian cricket match. The whole slogan is debatable, but this and other such banners, has no effect on the great cricketer of an era: Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar. His greatness doesn’t just lie, in the sublime technique and range of class shots that he possess, but it also derives from the fact that, he is a gentleman on and off the field. Even if a decision goes against him, he never shows his angry frustration to the bowler, the players on the field or the umpire. He just soaks it in, and embraces it with grace. He is unfazed by the expectations from him or the applause that greets him or the accolades that keep showering on him. In one commentator’s words “….He is humble to the core….” That makes him great.
The values of the kingdom that Jesus came to establish were radically different than those of His day. The Pharisees and teachers of the law clamored for the spotlight and sought the adulation of the crowds. Many of us still do this today. Many of us “advertise” for Jesus. We may attend church, speak in “Christianese,” and mingle nicely with others. But when our conduct does not align with our hearts, our first-class behavior is just a performance of piety. When Jesus confronted the Pharisees, He said, “You . . . outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness” (Matt. 23:28).
In Luke 14, Jesus told a parable that taught His followers not to be like that. The parable talks about people who chose the most honored seat for themselves at a wedding feast (vv.7-8). He said they would be embarrassed when the host asked them publicly to take their rightful place (v.9). Jesus went on in His story to talk about whom to invite to such dinners. He said they shouldn’t invite friends and family, but “when you give a feast, invite the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind. And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you” (vv.13-14). Hypocrisy is a common sin, that grieves the Lord above, He longs for those who’ll worship Him In faith and truth and love