Showing posts with label Holy Spirit. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Holy Spirit. Show all posts

Friday, June 28, 2013

The Letter to Galatians



We tend to believe that we live in the most modern age in the most advanced country with the most powerful military and currency on earth, equipped with the latest technology. You will be amazed at the parallels we have with the Roman civilization about 2000 years ago.

Let us have a bird's eye view at the Epistle of Galatians.

Brief background on Galacia:
Galacia was under the Roman empire and many believe it is where the French came from. Galacia was a prosperous country economically as a result of garment export and many traders used to conduct. Due to economic prosperity, and the influence of Greek culture, people used to lead a lavish and carefree lifestyle.

About St. Paul:
St. Paul is undoubtedly one of the greatest minds who ever lived and the chief architect of Christian church. As with any author, we get to take a peek into the author's mind by reading his/her works. In this case, by reading his epistles, we get to glance into his heart and can even learn the secrets of his power. In him, we can find a man of highest intellectual and spiritual powers, equally great in passion and action. Further, he repeats, "It's not I; It's the Christ that lives in me", thus expressing the zeal towards Jesus.

Trips to Galacia:
St. Paul visited Galacia three times between AD 51 and 54. The first trip was in AD 51, and he was not feeling quite well at that time. During these trips, he founded few churches spreading the word of Jesus Christ, converting numerous people (towards Christianity). He continued his travels to other places such as Ephesus, Corinth, Rome, etc., leaving preaching and church administration to others. During the absence of Paul, these preachers conveniently succeeded in troubling and perplexing the faithful - the formula they used to mesmerize the crowd was that of half-truth - i.e., revealing only parts of the scripture thus bending the truth in their favor. Ultimately, these preachers were preaching a whole new 'gospel' and sure enough, it was favored by many.

Word reached Paul about those happenings at Galaaice, and during his later visits (to Galacia), he found such uneasiness in the way people were leading their 'Christian life'. The plain speaking apostle considered issuing them a warning in the form of a handwritten letter - which is known to us as the Epistle to Galatians.

In Galatians 1:8-9, it says, "But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let them be under God’s curse! As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let them be under God’s curse!"

This is precisely the song we sing at church, "Paul the Lord's Apostle said... " or Paulosu slee-haa, dha-nnya-nn choll-kka-ttaee.... " It is referring to those priests in Galacia who were teaching the 'other gospel.'

Theme of the letter:
The overall language of Paul to Galatians is quite harsh. We find some of the toughest language here such as in chapter 3:

1 "You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified.
2 I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by believing what you heard?
3 Are you so foolish? After beginning by means of the Spirit, are you now trying to finish by means of the flesh?
4 Have you experienced so much in vain - if it really was in vain?
5 So again I ask, does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you by the works of the law, or by your believing what you heard?
6 So also Abraham “believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.”.

One of the biggest topic being debated in Galacia (during the absence of Paul) was about circumcision - which stemmed from the doubt whether Christians should follow the law of Moses or not. Christianity was viewed pretty close to Judaism at that time. Next, Paul talks about righteousness and the importance of faith. He concludes that circumcision is not really necessary for those gentiles being converted into Christianity, and faith brings righteousness.

He then encourages Galatians to walk by the Holy Spirit, and warns not to walk in the desires of the flesh. Flesh is what is possessed by a human body and what we own in our own power. Walking in the power of flesh, it is even possible to carry out religious activities - to go to church, preach a sermon, etc.. The deeds of the flesh are evident and certainly visible when the flesh is not led by the Spirit. Just like today, every activity of the flesh we can think of, was being practiced by the Galatians in a much louder sense.

In the letter to Galatians, Paul says, "For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please." - 5:17.

Next, Paul goes on to explain the deeds of the flesh and the fruits of the Spirit. Those deeds of flesh really does not require much explanation, being so common around us. The fruits of the Spirit - well, deep inside we know they are noble traits which every human being appreciates. It is an irony that men journey in the ways of flesh, searching and desiring those fruits of the Spirit - Love, Joy, Peace, Forbearance, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness and Self-control.

If we plant a mango seed, we can expect to grow a mango tree with mangoes - not a coconut tree. This is what Paul writes in Galatians 6:7-10.

7 Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.
8 Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.
9 Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.
10 Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.

My dear readers, ignorance of the Holy Scripture lies at the foundation of our religion and how unfortunate that we are ignorant about our own ignorance. Our church teachers tend to shy away from discussing about the general outline of this epistle and the intricate details, because it's quite embarrassing to explain this particular letter. To me, it is analogous to picking up a mirror, looking at my face and seeing my own ugly reflection in it. For those who are thirsty, the scripture it out there to be picked up and read.

Wisdom and truth are out there in plain sight so much to the extend that we utterly fail to see it; some pretend they did not see it. Amid the clash of contending opinions, there is one infallible source of truth - The Holy Bible. In the midst of numerous teachers, there is one infallible guide - The Holy Spirit. Both Holy Bible and the Holy Spirit are guaranteed to guide us in the right direction - always! The real question is, "Do we want to be heading in the right direction?" The idea of heading in that right direction sounds good to our ears, however, "Thank you - maybe later" is what mostly many of us may think - plus, "The Bible and the Holy Spirit can always wait - right now, let me enjoy a bit more."

Know that Paul wrote some parts of the epistle in uppercase and even in large letters - just how we emphasis importance using large fonts and uppercase while yelling at someone. Even that is documented by Paul in his letter.

See what large letters I use as I write to you with my own hand! - Galatians 6:11.

I encourage you to read this epistle when you get a chance - it contains just 6 chapters. Being a slow reader, I completed all 6 chapters in 15 minutes.



----------------
Of all the books we read and study during our lifetime, the one we tend to ignore the most - the Holy Bible is crucial for an individual. It contains all the wisdom required to lead a wonderful life in the eyes of God. For an occasional reader, it may be hard to understand what's written in it; but believe me - if anyone looks for it as for silver and searches for it as for hidden treasure, the Holy Spirit will guide us in mysterious ways. All I can tell you is that, my friends, God is still in the business of working miracles around us. As a priority, our allegiance should always be to the one God who created us, who gave us a chance to live our life, and He who takes care of our entire needs - and not toward any human beings.

Finally, of all the books we read, every one of it becomes old fashioned during the course of time. The only one that withstands the test of time and lives forever, is the Bible - wonder why?

.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

The relationship between Spirit, Soul, and Body

Many Christians (like myself) do not learn from church about the functional understanding of Spirit, Soul, and Body in our daily lives. Maybe I was not paying keen attention to all those sermons. Many of us have heard sermons where we were made believe about the two-part identity (body and soul), and are ignorant of our spiritual identity.

Here is a verse which sheds some light on the constituents of a human being:

May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spiritsoul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. - 1 Thessalonians 5:23

When God created man in His image, man had the nature of Trinity - spirit, soul, and body. In simple terms, the Spirit serves God; the Soul serves the Spirit and the Body serves the Soul.

Spirit is that part which communicates with God (God-conscious).

Soul is that part which makes up of our will, intellect and emotions proceeding from our senses (Self-conscious).

Body expresses what the soul tells it to do (World-conscious).


The spirit of man is the communication link between man and God and vise versa. That communication channel was broken due to the original sin of Adam, which triggered God's wrath.  The soul is under the spirit. The spirit is a link to the soul and when the soul is in control of the spirit regardless if the control were coming from the Holy Spirit or the evil spirit, then it would come out from the heart of that person whatever the spirit has inspired. The body, simply follows those desires of the soul.

During the creation of man, God already provided with everything we need - which is contained in the Spirit. It is up to each individual to open up that channel from the Spirit to the body.

This was something that came to me as a revelation that unlocked my brain. Now, I have to go through the Holy Scripture and read it again to have a better grasp - there are numerous verses which talk about the Spirit, the Soul and the Body which I need to understand better. One thing that always baffled me (for quite some time) was when Jesus said, we could do greater things than Jesus Himself. I used to wonder, "Better than Jesus? How is this humanly possible - you gotta be kidding me." Well, Jesus has to be saying the truth; it's my limited knowledge and understanding with which I could not comprehend it in the physical realm. 

Wish I knew these things earlier!

---------------
John 14: 8-14

8 Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.”
9 Jesus answered: "Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 
10 Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you I do not speak on my own authority. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. 
11 Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the works themselves. 
12 Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. 
13 And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 
14 You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it."


Friday, May 24, 2013

The best friend


All of us, we need friends. Some like to have numerous friends surrounding them, while others are content with few they can count on. Regardless of the number, there is always someone who is closer to us than the rest. This is the one who would love us the most for who we are, the one who cares about us all the time, the one who listens to all our problems and provides guidance and finally shares our happiness. Quite naturally we expect this beloved friend to be perfectly honest with us, to tell us the truth even when it hurt, to point out our faults with kindness in order to help us improve. Further, we want this friend to be better than us, stronger and even wiser. Such a friend could teach and guide us. This friend could answer our questions, however complex or silly they appear to be. This friend would understand the challenges we face and spend time together answering them, without appearing to be busy. By being associated with this friend, we could transform more like the friend - better, stronger and wiser. If we come across such a person, we seldom want this friend to go away from our reach and it would be fantastic if this friend could be with us forever.

Jesus was such a fabulous friend to his disciples and when His time arrived, he said, "But very truly I tell you, it is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Advocate (Holy Spirit) will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you." Thus came the Holy Spirit to the midst of his beloved disciples, on the day of Pentecost.

Treat the Holy Spirit as your very best friend - the one whom we can trust completely, always available to meet our needs; far superior than any human friend we come across during our lifetime. The choice is our's  whether to accept this friend into our life or not. The best part is that the Holy Spirit is available 24/7, thus giving us company and comfort anytime anywhere. Often times we ask our best friend, "What should I do under this circumstance?" "What should I do next?" When the Holy Spirit dwells within us, we can pose these exact same questions to Him. The answers we receive from the Holy Spirit are superlative thus guiding us towards the best possible solution ever.

Beyond doubt, there are few life changes we ought to make in order to accommodate the Holy Spirit within our life by giving the Spirit room to live and grow. These changes include a dedicated life of prayer and walking in the way of truth everyday, without succumbing to worldly pleasures.

Next, the biggest step is handing over the control of our life to the Holy Spirit to lead us the way. This is one of the most difficult part to everyone. We are not used to doing so. We hardly let other humans, including our parents, to have complete control our life - thinking they do not know the 360 degree view of a particular scenario. The remarkable strength about the Holy Spirit is that He knows the past, present and the future from every possible angle. One such person who had faith and allowed the Holy Spirit to take control of her life was Mary, the mother of Jesus. She is a role model for all of us and hence we preserve her picture at home. When we look at her picture, it reminds us how a young girl had such tremendous faith in the Holy Spirit. Mary had to endure disgrace and suffering during her lifetime; but in the end, she emerged with the greatest honor among mankind. She was willing to give control of her life to the Holy Spirit.

A man is known by the company he keeps, and also by the company from which he is kept out. Those who keep the company of the Holy Spirit will exhibit the fruits of the Spirit - love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. These fruits are time proven and everyone acknowledges them. When we have Holy Spirit as our best friend, we will be able to discern right from wrong through His wisdom and guidance.

Make the Holy Spirit your best friend and in Him you will find an everlasting friend. If you still haven't accepted His 'friend request', consider adding Him to the top of your friend list.




.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Elephant and the blind men




Once in a village, there were six blind men who stood by the roadside every day, and begged from the people who passed by. They had often heard of elephants, but had never seen one. Being blind, how could they?

It so happened one morning that an elephant was passing by the road where they stood. When they were told that the great beast was before them, they asked the mahout to stop so that they might see him. Of course they could not see him with their eyes; but they thought that by touching the elephant they could learn just what kind of animal he was.

The first one happened to put his hand on the elephant's side. "Well, well!" he said, "now I know all about this beast. He is exactly like a wall."

The second felt only of the elephant's tusk. "My brother," he said, "you are mistaken. He is not at all like a wall. He is round and smooth and sharp. He is more like a spear than anything else."

The third happened to take hold of the elephant's trunk. "Both of you are wrong," he said. "Anybody who knows anything can see that this elephant is like a snake."

The fourth reached out his arms, and grasped one of the elephant's legs. "Oh, how blind you are!" he said. "It is very plain to me that he is round and tall like a tree."

The fifth was a very tall man, and he chanced to take hold of the elephant's ear. "The blindest man ought to know that this beast is not like any of the things that you name," he said. "He is exactly like a huge fan."

The sixth was very blind indeed, and it was some time before he could find the elephant at all. At last he seized the animal's tail. "O foolish fellows!" he cried. "You surely have lost your senses. This elephant is not like a wall, or a spear, or a snake, or a tree; neither is he like a fan. But any man with a particle of sense can see that he is exactly like a rope."

Then the elephant moved on, and the six blind men sat by the roadside all day, and quarreled about him. Each believed that he knew just how the animal looked; and each called the others hard names because they did not agree with him.

We, who have eyes, sometimes act just like these blind men. We, in our limited capacity and observation, think we know how something looks or even feels like. If you, who have vision, were standing next to these blind men while they were examining the elephant, you could have guided them saying,  "The spear is the tusk, the snake is the trunk, the trees are the legs," and so forth. You could have clarified each and everyone's doubts and settled any difference in opinions. Now, if you were compassionate and caring, you may have even asked the mahout to give these blind men a ride on the elephant :-)

It is only with the power of the Holy Spirit that we will be able to visualize the 'big picture' since our vision is limited and impaired. Hence the need to ask for wisdom and guidance from the creator, who has been around since the dawn of the universe.

.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Holy Spirit - Taking care




You have the Holy Spirit within you and you are anxious how to take good care of it, without hurting the Holy Spirit. In the Christian faith, God forgives all sins except for the one unpardonable sin: blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. This is serious stuff. While you have the greatest gift that you can have, there is always the danger of committing the most deadliest sin.

Here are those Bible passages:

Mark 3:28-30: "Truly I tell you, people will be forgiven all their sins and all the blasphemies they utter. But whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven, but is guilty of an eternal sin. He said this because they [the Pharisees] were saying, ‘He has an evil spirit’."

Matthew 12:30-32: "Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters. And so I tell you, people will be forgiven every sin and blasphemy. But the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come."

Luke 12:8-10: "I tell you, whoever acknowledges me before men, the Son of Man will also acknowledge him before the angels of God. But he who disowns me before men will be disowned before the angels of God. And everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven."

'Blasphemy' means - to speak irreverently or profanely of or to the Holy Spirit.

The 'unpardonable sin' is one of the largest debate topic in Christianity and has numerous thoughts surrounding it. Many have different views and I've been reading a lot on this topic. Am still in the dark and still seeking for answers. The closest I came to is about the grief of Holy Spirit.

One of the places in Scripture where we read about grieving the Holy Spirit is in Ephesians 4:29–32. The apostle Paul writes:

"Don't use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them. And do not grieve God's Holy Spirit by the way you live. Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of malicious behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you."

In my case, I certainly don't want to hurt the Holy Spirit by using any foul or abusive language. I can try to say good and helpful things to others. Getting rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, slander and malicious behavior - these sound not too easy.

As far as language is concerned, the safe ground for me is to:

THINK.

THINK is an acronym:

T – Is it Truthful?
H – Is it Helpful?
I – Is it Inspiring?
N – Is it Necessary?
K – Is it Kind?

Before saying something, I need to perform a mental checklist of THINK. That should prevent me from hurting the Holy Spirit (for now till I learn more). To practice other things and to live in a manner pleasing to the Holy Spirit is worth a try. The positive things to look forward are those fruits of the Holy Spirit. Unlike any investment, or the growth of a tree, the fruits of the Holy Spirit begin to show up quite immediately.



.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

God's Temple


Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple? God’s Spirit lives in you. If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. God’s temple is holy. And you are that temple.
~ 1 Corinthians 3:16-17

Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.
~ 1 Corinthians 6:19-20

Men tend to look all over the world to seek God and do not find Him anywhere. If the search continues, ultimately man will find God within himself. These two Biblical passages (above) do not need any further explanation - they are pretty simple. Many cannot accept this fact and would like to see God stay at either temple or church. The reason is because they are afraid of bringing God or Holy Spirit into their bodies and carrying Him around. In that circumstance, it is better to keep God  or Holy Spirit at a safe place so that we can visit Him once a week on Sundays.

For those who seek Him earnestly, He dwells within us - that's what the Bible says.



.





Sunday, May 19, 2013

Preserving the Holy Spirit



Our parents want us to have a good education and are willing to do whatever they can. They will entrust us with their assets once we are well behaved and reach a certain age. Similarly, God, our Father, strongly urges us to be filled with the Holy Spirit. He will grant the Holy Spirit only to those whom prove to be responsible and trustworthy children - just like our parents.

It's very easy to meet someone new and form a new friendship. The hardest challenge is to maintain it - especially if you are interested in forging a long lasting relationship. So is the story with the Holy Spirit. Lets assume we received the Holy Spirit. The next biggest challenge is to maintain the presence of the Holy Spirit within us. How do we do that?

First of all, If you have the will to live a life full of the Holy Spirit, God will allow it. He will help and bless you. But if you do not want it, nobody can help.

For those interested to live a life filled with Holy Spirit, we must live and walk by the will of God even in difficult situations. This is what it means to live a righteous life.

Here is what the scripture has to say about maintaining our life with Holy Spirit in Ephesians 5:6-20

6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient.
7 Therefore do not be partners with them.
8 For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light
9 (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth)
10 and find out what pleases the Lord.
11 Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them.
12 It is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret.
13 But everything exposed by the light becomes visible—and everything that is illuminated becomes a light.
14 This is why it is said:
“Wake up, sleeper,
 rise from the dead,
 and Christ will shine on you.”
15 Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise,
16 making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.
17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.
18 Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the (Holy) Spirit,
19 speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord,
20 always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

The scripture pretty much sums it up. Those who are interested in learning how will find this passage quite meaningful.

The way I look at this is, since the Holy Spirit is represented by a white dove, how can I make room for this dove to live within me? I need to make room for a nest that's free of noise and threats. Later, I have to provide proper nourishment for this dove from time to time. Further, I need to communicate with this dove as frequently as possible and do not make it feel lonely. In my own observation, there are two simple things we can do to maintain the glow.

Now, maintaining that glow does not mean just appearing to be smiley & happy - any good actor can do that. I am talking about that internal glow which emits and radiates outwardly. When you glow, you will become God's reflection and in you people will see the goodness of God.

1. Preserve our body as the holy temple. To me, our bodies are more important than the temple or church built with stones and mortar. This means we should maintain and cleanse the body with utmost purity - watching out what goes in and out of the body. Cleanse the body externally and internally. Make room for the Holy Spirit to dwell within us by removing all impurities. But how? Have the will to cleanse our body and God will help us do it - all we need to do is have that desire and faith. Remember we are supposed to produce those 9 fruits upon receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit - 1. Love, 2. Joy, 3. Peace, 4. Patience, 5. Kindness, 6. Generosity, 7. Faithfulness, 8. Gentleness, 9. Self-control.

2. Have constant contact with God through prayers. Enjoy walking with God just like how you would with a loving father, holding His strong hands. He knows our strengths and weakness and he will give us the energy to overcome our day to day challenges. There is not a single challenge that God does not understand and has not known - He knows it all and if we are willing to fight it, he will be on our side.

Preserve the Holy Spirit within you forever and radiate that glow. May those around you and with you, receive and enjoy the fruits you produce.


------
Does anyone have any suggestion or experience with the Holy Spirit? I would love to hear those.

.





Car Wash




Friday, May 17, 2013

Holy Spirit on Pentecost



Holy Spirit, the third person of the Trinity, is one of my favorite subjects and I love discussing about it. I could spend days and weeks just talking about the Holy Spirit (and am still learning). The New Testament is filled with numerous quotes about the Holy Spirit and there is such great emphasis on receiving the Holy Spirit. Just to make it easy, I'll make this posting as brief as possible.

Holy Spirit is something God wants us to receive. All we have to do is - ASK! Wait - just asking won't do. Acts 5:32 says, "God gives the Holy Spirit to those who obey Him." Isn't that true - when we love God, we tend to obey God. When we obey His commandments, we become best friends with Jesus, for Jesus is the one who completely obeyed God. Those with exact same nature and thinking end up being friends for ever.

Jesus explained to his disciples that He will ask God, the Father to send the Holy Spirit.  Pay attention here - Jesus is the one who is requesting the Father to send out the Holy Spirit.

“When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father - the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father - he will testify about me. (John 15:26)

The same night, when Jesus told his disciples that He had to return, those disciples felt extremely lonely. They did not want someone whom they loved so much (Jesus) to leave. At that time, Jesus tried to comfort them and this is exactly what Jesus told them about the Holy Spirit (John 14: 15 - 31).

“If you love me, keep my commands. And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever - the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.”

Then Judas (not Judas Iscariot) said, “But, Lord, why do you intend to show yourself to us and not to the world?”

Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. Anyone who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.

“All this I have spoken while still with you. But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. 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.

“You heard me say, ‘I am going away and I am coming back to you.’ If you loved me, you would be glad that I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. I have told you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe. I will not say much more to you, for the prince of this world is coming. He has no hold over me, but he comes so that the world may learn that I love the Father and do exactly what my Father has commanded me.

“Come now; let us leave."

Did you notice Jesus addressing the Holy Spirit as the Spirit of Truth (Truth with a capital T). We know how hard it is to stand up for truth, without hurting our friends and without the fear of losing our friends' approval. Here is one of my favorite quotes about Truth. I don't know who said it, but it's been etched in my mind the very first time I heard it - "Everyone wants Truth on their side, but nobody wants to stand on the side of Truth." Let me tell you from my own experience - it's extremely hard to stand by the side of Truth. It's been like this from the very beginning of time. Truth is absolutely indispensable in our relationship with God. Nothing can ever take it's place. Everything that can be done must be done to secure and safeguard the truth.  The one who wants to be God’s servant is admonished to: (1) call upon God in truth; (2) serve God in truth; (3) walk before God in truth;  and (4) worship God in truth. Since truth is that what holds the creator and creation together, satan is continuously trying to come in between and break that bond. King Solomon in his proverbs says, "Buy the truth, and do not sell it, Also wisdom and instruction and understanding."

In order to receive the Holy Spirit, Jesus asked His disciples to stay and pray.

"And now I will send the Holy Spirit, just as my Father promised. But stay here in the city until the Holy Spirit comes and fills you with power from heaven." - Luke 24:49

The disciples, along with Mary spent 10 days in prayer. Then the most wonderful thing in the history of earth happened - the Holy Spirit descended  upon them and they received spiritual gifts that transformed their lives and gave them the power to touch the lives of other people.

There are 7 gifts of the Holy Spirit:
1. Wisdom
2. Understanding
3. Counsel (right judgment)
4. Fortitude (courage)
5. Knowledge
6. Piety (reverence):
7. Fear of the Lord

Then again, there are 9 fruits of the Holy Spirit:
1. Love,
2. Joy,
3. Peace,
4. Patience,
5. Kindness,
6. Generosity,
7. Faithfulness,
8. Gentleness,
9. Self-control

Earlier, I used to wonder, "What's the difference between 'gifts' and 'fruits' of the Holy Spirit?" Later, I learned that 'gifts' come all at once from an outer source - in this case, from God (just like how we distribute gifts on auspicious occasions to one another) and 'fruits' are something that gradually grows within ourselves (like how a good and healthy tree produces delicious fruits by itself).

Jesus did not limit the availability of Holy Spirit only to His disciples and those gathered there. It was certainly not something reserved for a select few, rather available for everyone who repented and had faith. It says in Acts 2: 38:

Then Peter said unto them, "Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit."

Thousands of people believed Peter and took that path of experiencing the Holy Spirit.

Our church celebrates the feast of Pentecost by symbolically sprinkling water over it's believers. There is lack of coaching and training about the importance of the Holy Spirit in our church - hardly anyone knows the significance. On Sunday, take a look at those standing beside and around you. Make note of  how many (including you and I) are really waiting to experience the presence of Holy Spirit and how many are prepared to accept it. To many (in my observation) it is a fun event when water droplets fall upon them, without realizing what it actually represents. Can we spot anyone in the crowd filled with Holy Spirit who's empowering and emboldening?

------------
Children, here is some food for thought:

Now, what do you think about the Holy Spirit?

Do you think the Holy Spirit would come this Sunday, if you obeyed God?

Do you think the Holy Spirit would bring you 'gifts' and you could produce those 'fruits'?

Do you think you could handle the arrival of Holy Spirit, if it came onto you today?

----------------
.


Sunday, May 27, 2012

Pentecost Sunday


Today is the birthday of our church - the day Holy Spirit came over to all those who were gathered. Today also marks the end of Easter. According to the scriptures, the Holy Spirit created joy and peace to the disciples and provided them authority and responsibility.

Acts 2 describes about this feast in more detail. 

May this Pentecost Sunday be an enlightening experience for you. 

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Choosing to Love



During our day to day encounter with people - with our family members or that irritated person in the traffic, we have choices to make. We can either act according to their actions in the same coin, or try to be gentle and kind. Two thoughts come to our mind - we can either ignore the Holy Spirit and respond reflexively by being rude, or listen to our inner calling from the Holy Spirit and choose to be patient and kind.

When we choose the path according to the way of the Holy Spirit, we are exercising love, and we are creating our soul a fertile place for the Holy Spirit to take root. By following the Holy Spirit's path over a period of time, it becomes more natural to yield to the Spirit, and respond with love.

1 Corintians 13 is a place to visit, while talking about love. Few characteristics of love include:

Love is patient,
love is kind,
love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude.
It does not insist on its own way;
it is not irritable or resentful;
it does not rejoice in wrongdoing,
but rejoices in the truth.
It bears all things,
believes all things,
hopes all things,
endures all things.
Love never ends.

Finally, it says in the chapter, "And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love."

By associating ourselves with others filled with Holy Spirit, we will be naturally influenced to follow the path of Love.



Friday, March 30, 2012

Man's wisdom


Have you ever thought about mankind's endless search for truth in this world? Think about it. Even in the twenty-first century, in a time of the greatest knowledge in the history of man with all the technological developments that have accelerated the rate of acquiring knowledge at fingertips in real-time, the restless mind of man still struggles with discovering the reason for his very existence.

Part of the trouble is looking for that answer through worldly wisdom versus Godly wisdom. Worldly wisdom leaves us empty and a bit cynical.

Godly wisdom is different - totally different. It reveals to us ultimate truth and that truth is found in one person - Jesus Christ. Take time to pursue ultimate truth in the person of Jesus and in the teachings of His Word, the Bible, and you will find wisdom that is out of this world. Continue walking with Him just few more days until His crucifixion and resurrection. Jesus is the one and only person recorded in Human history to have defeated death.

Discover godly wisdom. To be precise, discover the wisdom of God, provided by the Holy Spirit over the wisdom of the world, and in the process we will discover our answer for life.

--------------------
Countdown: 9 days till Easter (we're down to single digits)
-------------------- 




Image Credit: ChrsitArt

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Pride

 
C. S. Lewis once said, "The utmost evil is pride. Unchastity, anger, greed, drunkenness etc., are mere flea bites in comparison. It was through pride that the Devil became the devil. It is the complete anti-God state of mind."

Lucifer was an anointed cherub of God, the very "seal of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty." Pride transformed Lucifer into Satan, the devil, the father of lies, the one for whom Hell itself was created. We're warned to guard our hearts against pride so that we don't fall into the same condemnation as the devil.

Pride is a feeling there is no need for God, considering yourself self-reliant. Pride is thinking more highly of ourselves than we should - feeling we are far better off than others on many aspects. Pride is a sin and both words 'pride' and 'sin' has the middle letter 'I'. Pride is all about 'me, myself and I.'

People filled with pride are under the influence of the devil himself. Pride is contagious and if we associate ourselves with those filled with pride, we inherit their qualities and thought process - slowly transforming us into one among them.

Pride will just love getting hold of us. Once it gets hold and establish possession, it will not be easy to get rid of. It will hang right on. It will own us and we will serve them. Pride will take over our calm, objective, healthy mind, impose it's own perverted, twisted thought patterns, and lead our mind into all kinds of foolishness.  It will warp and muddle our thought processes, impair our judgment, deceive us, trick us and ruin us. It will link up together with other sins and take us down roads we don't want to go - roads of despair.  They will destroy the most important possession we have: the healthy, well-balanced, properly functioning mind.

If we are infected with pride we won't see it. Only with the help of the Holy Spirit and viewing it from the perspective of a humble mind we can detect pride.

--------------------
Countdown: 24 days till Easter.
--------------------   


Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Bearing the cross



"For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous." - Romans 5:19.

Many philosophers blame God, and have asked this questions, "How can a loving God allow so much pain, immorality and suffering in the world?"

Upon creating human beings, God gave us a free will.  He did not program us like robots - to do mundane tasks just one way.  Instead, He gave us the ability to choose:
to choose our house,
to choose items that go inside our house,
to choose the food we eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner,
to choose our friends,
to choose those friends we talk and walk more often with,
to choose those friends we bring over to our house,
to choose the places/gathering we go to, etc.

If you feel that you landed at a place filled with disobedience, you could reverse that with the help of Jesus Christ.  It's not all that easy; instead it's a road filled with hardships, backstabbing and hatred.

It's through obedience to God, and total submission that you could make the entire place righteous. Intense prayer and fasting will take you there. Do not expect any miracles overnight, but prepare yourself for a long haul where everyone could abandon you - even your loved ones.

Are you upto that challenge?  If so, you need to fast and pray for the intervention of the Holy Spirit. You need to become a totally new person and get ready to embrace that change. Are you willing to be that role model and let people learn from your actions, thoughts and kind deeds? In short, you need to carry your cross and follow Him.

Cross is not just a burden - it's far more than that.  It was the instrument for Jesus' death and total sacrifice.

While carrying the cross, it's not our personal priorities that we should be caring for.  Now, it's God's priorities that need to be attended to, without fail and with 100% dedication.

While we carry the cross, where are we heading to?  Jesus told his disciples that He was going to die.  Be prepared to die, when carrying your cross. Death is not always just the physical death - it could be death to the popularity you gained, the death of the good name you acquired in the society, it could mean 'game over' to many of those things you cherish as valuable today.

--------------------
Countdown: 39 days till Easter.
--------------------
.

Monday, February 27, 2012

The Helper



"But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you." - John 14:26

The above verse is from the New American Standard version. It translates the Greek word "paraclete" ("Holy Spirit") as the Helper.

In the King James Version,  Helper = Comforter.

In the New International Version, Helper = Counselor.

In the New English Version , Helper = Advocate.

All four translations give us a more complete picture of the Holy Spirit. He is our Helper, Advocate, Counselor, and Comforter.

Helper = He empowers us with a “want to” to follow Jesus.

Advocate = He reminds us that God is for us and He loves us.

Counselor = He is our teacher and guides us in how to understand and apply God's Word to our everyday life. He gives us wisdom.

Comforter = He is our greatest, most compassionate encourager in a time of need.

To know Jesus means receiving the most fabulous and wonderful gift - the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Walking with Jesus - an exciting adventure and THE TRIP of a lifetime.


Monday, December 5, 2011

Preparing for Jesus' arrival

"If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”  - Luke 11:13

Anybody observing the Advent Lent?  In other words, anybody preparing themselves for the arrival of Baby Jesus into your life this Christmas?

While there are so many guidelines on lent such as, "No eating meat, but fish is ok; No eating eggs, but milk is ok," etc., I don't treat it that way, and actually find it very funny. In this land, there are so many yummy foods around us that are even better than meat or eggs.

I have a simple equation to observe the lent - identify that "one thing you love doing the most" and do your best to stay away from it. It could be dining on that irresistible '12 oz Royale Ground Steak and lobster,' or drinking that 'Two pump Mocha Blended Cream Frappuccino.' Needless to say, I control my food intake as well. Here is what I am having for lunch these days - salad, soup and water.



Communication with the Lord - prayers during lent will help us accomplish our motive. One of the fruits of the Holy Spirit is Self Control and we can ask the Holy Spirit to provide that.

Finally, you are answerable to your own consciousness and not anybody else.

Welcoming Jesus into our lives simply means we are welcoming the Holy Spirit!!




Walking with Mary - Day 5


The Bible teaches us that the Holy Spirit came onto Mary. Certainly in that case, Mary had to possess those 9 fruits of the Holy Spirit: 

Love
Joy
Peace
Patience
Kindness
Goodness
Faithfulness
Gentleness
Self-control

When we pray to receive the Holy Spirit, these are His divine attributes and qualities that will start to move into the core of our personality - like Mary. 

God wants us to share His divine nature by allowing His Holy Spirit to transmit and impart these nine divine qualities right up into our soul and personality - like Mary. 

Dear Mary,
Blessed be your purity,
May it be blessed forever,
For no less than God takes delight,
In such exalted beauty.
To you, heavenly Princess,
Holy Virgin Mary,
We offer on this day
Our whole heart, life and soul.
Look upon us with compassion,
And be with us.


.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Fruits I seek in my life



"The Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: 
Love, 
Joy, 
Peace, 
Patience, 
Kindness,
Goodness,
Faithfulness,
Gentleness and 
Self-control.” 

- Galatians 5:22-23

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Spiritual Hero

HOLY SPIRIT

I said good morning to Jesus
As I slipped out of my bed
My eyes were barely open, while
I yawned and scratched my head

I continued talking to my Lord
For I had something on my mind
T'was about the Holy Spirit
So sweet, so gentle, so kind. 

I thanked Jesus for the many times
The Holy Spirit spoke to me
Pulling me from trouble's door
Exposing sin... I didn't see

Or the many times, when in harms way
He led me towards the light
And the times he gave me peace
On a lonely or fearful night

Those times I felt so sick and tired
Not wanting to face another day
Is thwne I'd hear His quiet whispers
To have faith... He'd led the way

Lord, I'm grateful that you sent Him
He'll be there for me... I know
Teaching, guiding, spreading His light
For He is... my spiritual hero. 




Copyright Judith Johnson Kypta

Friday, October 14, 2011

Paraclete


 

In John 14: 15-31, Jesus Promises the Holy Spirit.

“If you love me, keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father: and he shall give you another Paraclete, that he may abide with you for ever - the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.”

Then Judas (not Judas Iscariot) said, “But, Lord, why do you intend to show yourself to us and not to the world?”

Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. Anyone who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me."

“All this I have spoken while still with you. But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. 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."

 “You heard me say, ‘I am going away and I am coming back to you.’ If you loved me, you would be glad that I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. I have told you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe. I will not say much more to you, for the prince of this world is coming. He has no hold over me, but he comes so that the world may learn that I love the Father and do exactly what my Father has commanded me."

“Come now; let us leave."
---
I listed the entire passage to show you the big picture, because a single verse taken from the big picture could mean something different.

Notice - the word Paraclete in bold, well that was just me, to catch your attention. Today let's look at what this Paraclete is. This is a word most of us (may) have heard occasionally, but without any clue and too shy to ask. In Malayalam, the word Paraclete is pronounced something like Paara-ka-lee-tha  (പാരകലീത്ത).

Paraclete is a Greek word, and when translated into English could mean "advocate", "intercessor", "teacher, "helper", "comforter" etc.

All of us, we are familiar with substitute teachers at Sunday school.  When the main teacher is not around, the Substitute teacher steps in, and guides the students. If you got that concept right, then it makes my explanation easy. Even though I may appear to be a primary teacher, I have had the opportunity to substitute as well.

Based on what St. John quotes in the Bible (John 14), the mission of the Paraclete is to fill in, once Jesus has withdrawn his visible presence from this world. This is the Holy Spirit itself. When Jesus left the world, the disciples felt sad because they missed Him. Jesus knew this and told them to cheer up and be excited about the arrival of the Paraclete (Holy Spirit) who will comfort them. Go back and read the passage now - you will see it. The Holy Spirit takes the role of the comforter in our lives. He comforts those souls that are mourning.

Another role of the Paraclete is to encourage us to love one another. Romans 5:5 quotes "....because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us."  Emphasis is on love here.  Remember - the greatest commandment is to love our God, and the next one to love our neighbor.  Charity, gifting etc. comes with it - one cannot do it in the absence of love.

Now we know the Holy Spirit is our Paraclete in this world. Wouldn't it be interesting to know who our Paraclete or advocate is, when we reach Heaven?  1 John 2:1 has the answer: "My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One."

Wow, I now have some hope - justice will be served at least somewhere.  Just imagine Jesus Christ being our own advocate and arguing our case on our behalf.


.