Saturday, March 1, 2014

Welcome March

March flower is daffodil. 

Welcome March 2014.

Few events I can think of this month:

Mar 3 - Orthodox lent begins
Mar 4 - Mardi Gras
Mar 5 - Ash Wednesday
Mar 8 - International Women's Day
Mar 9 - Daylight savings time
Mar 16 - Purim
Mar 17 - St. Patrick's day
Mar 20 - First day of Spring
Mar 30 - National Doctor's Day

This month, I've been asked to teach Bible lessons at a new church, during the second Sunday. While I am not the biblical scholar, I pray that Lord tells me what to teach.

Proverbs 1 Mar 2014

The wise sayings of King Solomon are written down for us to live well and right. These writings should be treated as a manual for living. The Book of Proverbs is presented in the Bible for the reader to receive wisdom, justice, judgment and equity.
  1. We should always start with God - by bowing down to Him. 
  2. Pay close attention to what our father tells us, and remember those things we learned at our mother's knees. 
  3. We should never go along with bad companions, hurting others. 
  4. Listen to what Lady Wisdom has to tell us. 
  5. Lady Wisdom is ready to pour out her spirit and tell us all she knows. 
  6. Those who laugh at the counsel of Lady Wisdom will never find her in time of need, however hard they look. 
  7. Carelessness kills and complacency is equivalent to murder. 
  8. Once we pay attention to Lady Wisdom, we can relax as we are in good hands. 

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Matthew 20

Jesus told the parable of the workers in the vineyard - a vineyard owner paid workers one denarius for a day’s work. Later, other workers were added to his workforce, at different times of the day. All of them, regardless of what time they began their work received the same amount of pay, despite the protest of those employer who worked all day.

The reply the owner gave was, "Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?"

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Jesus predicted his death a third time, “We are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and the teachers of the law. They will condemn him to death and will hand him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified. On the third day he will be raised to life!”

The mother of James and John asked Jesus for her sons to be seated on either side of Jesus in His kingdom. Jesus said that such a place was not His to give.

Jesus spoke about servant ministry, "Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” True greatness lies in service, and not in being served.

While at Jericho, Jesus healed two blind men, who called Him, "Lord, Son of David, have mercy upon us." 

Mark 10

While Jesus was in the Judea region, on his way to Jerusalem, a Pharisee asked him if it was lawful for a man to divorce his wife. Jesus replied, "At the beginning of creation God ‘made them male and female. For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”

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When the returned home, the disciples talked regarding this topic. Jesus added, “Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery against her. And if she divorces her husband and marries another man, she commits adultery.”

Jesus taught his disciples that children are the very center of God's Kingdom. We need to think and behave as little children to receive entry into the kingdom of God.

When a rich man asked Jesus how to acquire eternal life, Jesus told him to sell all his possessions and follow him. "It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God," Jesus said.

When his disciples were puzzled at this statement, he said those who abandon everything for Jesus' sake will be rewarded 100 times.

Jesus then predicted his suffering, death and resurrection. James and John requested that they may be enthroned on either side of Him. Jesus replied that such a decision is not His, and that they should think in terms of sacrifice rather than self-glory.

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Jesus healed a blind man named Bartimaeus, who was pleading, "Son of David, have mercy on me," when he heard Jesus of Nazareth was in town. After receiving his sight, he followed Jesus along the road.

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Matthew 19

Jesus was heading towards Jerusalem, while some Pharisees came and asked him a tough question regarding divorce.

They asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason?”

Jesus responded, "Haven't you read (your Bible)?" He said let no man separate what God has joined. He then repeated what he said about divorce and adultery on the sermon on the mount. Many are not mature enough to lead a married life, which requires certain aptitude and grace. Celibacy is fine for those who can lead such a life.

Next, Jesus blessed little children, despite the attempts of his disciples rebuking them.
Matthew 19:14 Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”

Note that throughout his ministry, Jesus was speaking about the "Kingdom of Heaven."

Hearing the emphasis on "Kingdom of Heaven," a rich man approached Jesus and asked him what he should do in order to have eternal life in the "Kingdom of Heaven."
Matthew 19:21 Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
The rich man went back disappointed.
Matthew 19:23 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly I tell you, it is hard for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven.
24 Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”
Upon hearing this, the disciples were astonished.
Matthew 19:26 Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” 
The disciples wondered what their fate would be, as they had left everything and followed Jesus. To them, he said that when the Son of Man sits in glory, the disciples will sit on twelve thrones, judging the tribes of Israel. Those who have abandoned everything for the sake of Jesus will find their returns to be 100 times plus they will gain eternal life. Many who are first will be last, and the last first.

Proverbs 27 Feb

  1. Self praise is not a wise idea. 
  2. Putting up with a fool is the heaviest task. 
  3. Nobody can survive jealousy. 
  4. A sweet friendship refreshes the soul. 
  5. A nearby friend is better than a distant relative. 
  6. Prudent people can smell trouble brewing. 
  7. One who honors his/her boss will be honored. 
  8. Our face mirrors our heart. 
  9. Hell and lust have a voracious appetite. 
  10. Possessions don't last forever. 

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Luke 18:1-14

Jesus told his disciples a story to explain that it was necessary for them to pray consistently and never quit. He told them the parable of a persistent widow.

A certain judge had no fear for God nor cared what people thought. A woman kept approaching him with a petition for justice. She kept going to him despite the turn downs. Finally, the judge granted the petition of the widow, simply because she had been persistent.

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God will avenge his elect much more this unjust judge.
Luke 18:6 And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says.
7 And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off?
8 I tell you, He will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?”
Then Jesus narrated the parable of the Pharisee and Tax collector. The Pharisee in his own righteousness, thanked heaven as he was not like those others - robbers, evildoers, adulterers, or even the tax collector. The tax collector, on the other hand, would not even look up to heaven, but prayed to God for mercy. Jesus made the point that the tax collector was justified before God.

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All those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.

Luke 17:11-37

Jesus on his way to Jerusalem, traveled along the border between Samaria and Galilee. En route, he healed ten lepers, and told them to go show themselves to the priests. One of them, a Samaritan,  when he found out he was healed, he returned to Jesus, fall at his feet and thanked him.

Jesus was bit disappointed that the rest of the nine did not return to give glory to God. He asked the Samaritan to get up and go on his way.

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Once, in response to a question from a Pharisees about when the kingdom of God would come, Jesus replied, “The kingdom of God doesn’t come by counting the days on the calendar. Nor when someone says, ‘Look here!’ or, ‘There it is!’ And why? Because God’s kingdom is already among you.”

Jesus warned about the arrival of false Messiahs. He said he must suffer and be rejected. Moral corruption, similar to those from the days of Noah, and in Sodom will form the backdrop to the coming of the Son of Man. In both cases, people were having loads of fun till Noah boarded the ark, and till Lot's family walked out, respectively. He advised them not to be attached to materialistic things.

On the day Jesus comes, some will be taken suddenly and others will be left behind.

John 11

Mary of Bethany, the who anointed Jesus’ feet with aromatic oil, and wiped with her hair, has a brother named Lazarus. Mary and her sister approached Jesus about Lazarus' sickness. Jesus waited for two days before heading for Bethany. However, his disciples objected going to Bethany, as Jews were looking to kill Jesus.

Jesus arrived in Bethany when Lazarus has died and been buried for four days. At the outskirts of city, Martha came to meet him and said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.”

Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.”

Martha answered, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”

“Yes, Lord,” she replied, “I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.”

Then Mary, her sister, joined Jesus and together they went to the tomb. Jesus wept. He then commanded the stone of the tomb to be rolled away.

Then Jesus looked up towards Heaven and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.”

When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face.

Jesus said to them, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.”

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The Jewish rulers heard this, and were worried as more people may start believing in Jesus. Caiaphas, who was the high priest that year said, "It is better for you that one man die for the people than that the whole nation perish.”

They started plotting Jesus’ death. Jesus no longer walked publicly among them. He stayed with his disciples in a wilderness village called Ephraim.

Proverbs 26 Feb

  1. Don't give honors to fools. 
  2. Avoid looking foolish by never responding to the stupidity of a fool. 
  3. Sending a message via a fool is asking for trouble. 
  4. A fool does not fit well in a place of honor. 
  5. Hiring a fool or a drunk is as good as harming yourself. 
  6. Dreamers fantasize being smarter than an entire college faculty. 
  7. Grabbing a mad dog's ear will certainly invites worthless quarrel. 
  8. When gossip ends, quarrel dies down. 
  9. Watch out for an enemy who shakes hand and greets you like an old friend. 
  10. Liars hate their victims. 

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Luke 17:1-10

We are instructed to forgive anyone who offends against us and then repents, even if they do it seven times a day.

Next, Jesus tells us to have the faith of a mustard seed. Even a mustard-seed of faith would be sufficient to make a mulberry tree uproot itself and be planted in the sea.

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Dutiful care is expected of us, as it is of servants.

Additional Info
Here is an article for those interested. Tap to read:
Faith So Simple, As a Mustard Seed... So Why Does Religion Complicate Faith?

Luke 16

Jesus told his disciples the parable of a dishonest manager. A manager steward who was about to be fired, curried favor with his master's debtors by writing off some of their debts. The master commended his shrewdness.

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Luke 16:10 Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much. 
We cannot server two masters - especially God and Mammon. The Pharisees who loved money were sneering at Jesus. He said God can see right through their hearts.

Additionally the told them, "Using the legalities of divorce as a cover for lust is adultery; Using the legalities of marriage as a cover for lust is adultery."

The Rich man and the Lazarus was the next parable. Lazarus, a beggar, sat at the gate of the rich man. Both died and Lazarus went to Abraham’s bosom, while the rich man arrived in hell. The rich man asked Lazarus to dip his finger in water to cool his tongue. However his request was denied. The rich man in his sorry state wanted to warn his brothers of the hell. Again, he was told that they have Moses and other prophets for issuing such warnings.

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Riding a dead horse

The tribal wisdom of the Dakota Indians - passed on from generation to generation—says that when you discover that you are riding a dead horse, the best strategy is to dismount.

However, in business we try other strategies with dead horses, such as:

  1. Buying a stronger whip.
  2. Changing riders.
  3. Saying things like "This is the way we always have ridden this horse."
  4. Appointing a committee to study the horse.
  5. Arranging to visit other sites to see how they ride dead horses.
  6. Increasing the standards to qualify as a dead horse rider.
  7. Appointing a tiger team to revive the dead horse.
  8. Pass legislation declaring that "This horse is not dead."
  9. Unilaterally declaring, "no horse is too dead to beat."
  10. Blaming the horse's parents.
  11. Providing additional funding to increase the horse's performance.
  12. Do a Cost Analysis Study to see if contractors can ride the horse cheaper.
  13. Declare the horse is "better, faster and cheaper" dead.
  14. Revisit the performance requirements for horses.
  15. Promote the dead horse to a supervisory position.

Credits; TYSK News

Luke 15

Several men and women of questionable reputation were hanging around Jesus, listening intently. The Pharisees and teachers of law muttered, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”
Luke 15:3 Then Jesus told them this parable:
4 “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn't he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it?
5 And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders
6 and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ 
There is more rejoicing about the recovery of one lost sheep than the ninety-nine which never went missing.

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A lost coin that is found is also a matter for rejoicing.
Luke 15:10 In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”
Jesus then narrated the parable of the Prodigal Son. When the younger son returned, the father called the elder son and rejoiced.
Luke 15:31 “‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours.
32 But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’” 
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Luke 14

One Sabbath, Jesus was dining at the house of a prominent pharisee. It was common for Jews to invite others to their homes after synagogue service. Jesus defended himself against those who criticized him for healing on the Sabbath. He healed a man suffering from abnormal swelling in his body.

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When he noticed how people elbowed into the place of honor, he had a piece of advice. At a wedding feast, we should not take the highest place of honor on your own initiative. Whoever humbles himself will be exalted, and vice versa.

He also taught us whom to invite - we are supposed to invite those poor to dinner, who cannot repay us.
Luke 14:12 Then Jesus said to his host, “When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or sisters, your relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid.
13 But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind,
14 and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”
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Jesus then narrated the parable about a great feast. Those who were invited gave excuses and therefore, the poor and dispossessed were invited to the banquet instead.

Jesus explained the cost of his discipleship. To follow Jesus, we must love Jesus more than our family members, father, mother, spouse, children, brothers, sisters, even our self.

If salt has lost it's flavor, it is good for nothing.

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Luke 13

Jesus said that human tragedies are not always a result of divine punishments. He quoted the example of those eighteen Galileans killed by Pilate at a sacrifice, by a falling tower at Siloam.
Luke 13:2 Jesus answered, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way?
3 I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.
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God is looking for us to be fruitful, just like how a farmer looks for fruits on a fig tree – if the tree is not producing fruit, it will be destroyed.

Jesus was criticized for healing a woman on the Sabbath, who was crippled for eighteen years. He rebuked those who opposed it.
Luke 13:15 The Lord answered him, “You hypocrites! Doesn’t each of you on the Sabbath untie your ox or donkey from the stall and lead it out to give it water?
16 Then should not this woman, a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has kept bound for eighteen long years, be set free on the Sabbath day from what bound her?”
People delighted at his answer, and his opponents were humiliated.

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The kingdom of God, according to Jesus, is like a mustard seed that grew and became a tree, and yeast that worked through all the dough. Jesus encouraged us to enter through the narrow gate of God's salvation, which will eventually be shut, causing wailing and gnashing of teeth.

Jesus was told to run for his life as Herod was looking to kill him. Jesus lamented for Jerusalem. He desired to gather its children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings.
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Luke 12

Jesus was primarily concerned about his disciples and issued a warning, "Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. Do no be afraid of persecution, but fear Him who has the power to cast you into hell after your death."

If God can remember birds, and keeps track of all those hairs on our head, he will not forget us. The Son of Man will acknowledge to God, those who publicly acknowledges Him before others. He will forgive words spoken against the Son of Man, but not the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. If we are ever dragged before rulers, police, judges etc, for speaking about the the Son of Man, we need not worry how to defend ourselves - the Holy Spirit will assist us by providing us with those right words when the time comes.

When someone in the crowd approached Jesus to help his brother share the family inheritance, he said not to be greedy and narrated the parable of the rich fool. It was about a man who lay up treasure for himself, but was not rich toward God.
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God will look after us and provide our needs. We cannot fuss in front of the mirror and become an inch taller. Jesus pointed them to look at the wild flowers - the lilies neither toil nor spin, yet they are richly dressed than King Solomon.

Jesus does not want us to store things in this world. He wants us to store treasure in heaven. He says:
Luke 12:32 “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom.
33 Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will never fail, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys.
34 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
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We are told to be watchful and alert when the Master shows up. We are supposed to be ready with burning lamps, for we do not know at what hour the Son of Man is coming.

Jesus said he wished he could blaze fire on earth right now. He said, "You know how to tell a change in the weather, so don’t tell me you can’t tell a change in the season, the God-season we’re in right now."

Now is the time to get things right with God - not when we are up before Him in judgment.

John 10:22-42

During Hanukkah, Jesus was at the temple courts walking in Solomon's Colonnade. The Jews who met him asked, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly.”

Jesus said, “I did tell you, but you do not believe. The works I do in my Father’s name testify about me, but you do not believe because you are not my sheep. My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.”

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Hearing this, the Jews picked up stones to stone him. For this, he said, “I have shown you many good works from the Father. For which of these do you stone me?”

They were angry because Jesus claimed to be the God. Jesus responded saying he was quoting their own inspired scripture, and the Father and the son were One and the same. 

When they tried arresting Jesus, he slipped through their fingers and went to Jordan, where John the Baptist used to baptize. Many followed him and believed him. 

Proverbs 23 Feb

Few notes from Proverbs 23:
  1. Behave yourself while dining out with an influential person. 
  2. Restrain yourself trying to get rich. 
  3. Politely decline the meal of a tightwad. 
  4. Never waste time talking sense to fools. 
  5. Do not cheat orphans out of their property. 
  6. Pay attention to tested knowledge. 
  7. Be bold in correcting your young ones
  8. Parents of a wise child will dance and sing with happiness. 
  9. Soak yourself with the Fear-of-God. 
  10. Point your life in the right direction by not drinking too much wine and not eating too much food.