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EDITORIAL

Year of Change

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ew Year celebrations! Fire works light the sky and crackers burst the ear drums. Are the people celebrating the arrival of a new year? Is it a sign of a new dynamism and determination to face the challenges of the coming year? Or just a means of burning up the black money to start a new year to continue the same old way until the time for black money burning comes again! Many of us do not burst crackers at New Year. Instead, there are the ritual watch night services, testimony meetings, and the mega conventions to gather enough spiritual food for the whole of next year. After all these annual rituals, what do we take to the New Year? The same old dirt: rivalry, hatred, revenge, gossip, greed, position mongering, lust for power and money, the list can go on. Often we are so used to the existence of these in our attitudes and actions that we seem to be unable to live without them. Doesn't that make one feel like a hypocrite? What does it take to effect drastic changes in areas which have been considered so sacrosanct that many of us are scared that even a mention of any change will make the powers that be to bring down the coals of hell on the head of that person? But right thinking people are always present in the churches. Let's learn our lessons from history. King David introduced a new revolutionary form of worship with choirs in which even women were allowed to take part (1Chr. 25:5,6; Ps. 68:25). Did the priests revolt against his reforms? Not at all! They accepted and supported the changes wholeheartedly. What was God's attitude to such changes? Did God just turn His eyes away because He had a soft corner for him? By no means! Instead, David has been called 'the man after the heart of God'. In other words David was a man who understood the deep thoughts and concerns of God. Many think that unless we worship God exactly the same way as our forefathers did, God will be deprived of His greatness. We cannot add even an iota to the greatness and glory of God with all our worship, whichever way we offer it. On the other hand true worship lifts us puny little creatures to a higher plane. The question we need to ask after a worship meeting is not whether God has received enough praise to reward us. Neither should the question be about our enjoyment of the worship service. The worship that does not lift us and raise us closer to God is no worship. Another area that a church concerns itself with is communication of the gospel. How do we do that? Christians seem to have made preaching (of propositional truth) the only 'approved and privileged form' of communicating the Word of God. If an evangelist uses written form of communication, through books or internet, it is considered inappropriate and he is often looked upon as doing things unworthy of his call. But what matters is whether we communicate the gospel or not. Written communication modes have greater reach and the readers get the gospel in a more permanent form. One who uses traditional Indian folk art forms and musical plays for gospel communication are likely to be ostracized by many churches. All these call for change. But at what cost? Whereas David escaped the censure of the priesthood, Christ had to pay with His life for His revolutionary messages that went against the traditions. What revolutionary changes are you working towards in the coming year? Are you prepared to pay the price for it? High time we made up our minds!

Sam N Jacob samnjacob@gmail.com Harvest Times for Your Family

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January 2013 / Volume 10 Issue 01


DEVOTIONAL

God of My Making

- K. J. Joseph

There is a God we want, and there is a God who is. They are not the same God. The turning point of our lives is when we stop seeking the God we want and start seeking the God who is. - Patrick Morley

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od, who created the universe and sustains it by His word, is Omnipotent, Omnipresent and Omniscient. He is Supreme and un-created. This world creates gods of their whims and fancy wild imagination and weird thinking - a god they can carry with them and bargain with. But, what about us who have experienced God! Do we also create a god we want? This is the story of the Israelites who turned to Aaron to make a god for them.

gospel you received from us!” (2Cor. 11:4 GNT) Richard Foster underlines the need to dig deeper to know and stick with the one who is True God: "superficiality is the curse of our age... The desperate need today is not for a greater number of intelligent people, or gifted people but for deep people." The people, whom God delivered, longed for a god to lead them. They rejected the God who led them and fed them. While Moses was communing with God, people were compromising in the world. The people gifted their ear-rings and Aaron obliged to make some thing of their imagination. They celebrated with enthusiasm this new awakening with of this new found god and religion.

God Who Is The Almighty God delivered them, guided them, fed them and protected them from all dangers on their desert journey to the Promised Land. He gave them the command in writing that they should not make any god of their own. Though they experienced the miraculous ways of God they forgot the God who is.

God Is Grieved God was grieved and Moses became totally upset even to throw the stone tablet and break it. This is our story. We drift from the True God to a god of our making and assume that all is well with us. This is far from Truth. The self help gospel to boost our image and worth is far from the Gospel of the Kingdom. The Gospel of the Kingdom makes us stewards and disciples of the Kingdom. It results in Salvation, Sanctification, Service and Sacrifice. Any other gospel is no gospel.

God We Want But when Moses went to meet with God on the mountain, the restless Israelites insisted on making a calf god to go before them with their gold. They had experienced Jehovah's power and enjoyed His presence. He had talked with them and walked with them all the way, yet they rejected and made a god they wanted.

The root cause of this is, not knowing the God of the Bible. Even when we know Him close, we often rebel and drift from the living God to a God we can manipulate and manage resulting in deterioration and decay instead of bearing fruit.

We do this often with the blessing and co-operation of our religious leaders. We crave for a god we can manipulate and manage. But we forget that it is no god and it has no life or power to do any good. We drift from the God who is, to a god we want. This is the idolatry now thriving among the so called believers.

“Know that the Lord is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture” (Ps. 100:3 NIV).

We shift from the gospel of the Bible to a gospel of our creation. Paul raised this heart breaking complaint to the Corinthian church, “you gladly tolerate anyone who comes to you and preaches a different Jesus, not the one we preached; and you accept a spirit and a gospel completely different from the Spirit and the Harvest Times for Your Family

Dear Lord! Help me to stay awake and alive to the True and living God by reading, reflecting and receiving the Truth of the Word of God. 4

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THEOLOGY

God's Revelation by Incarnation – Dr. George Samuel

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n the person of Jesus, God disclosed Himself in a fully personal way. Natural revelation or what we can know about God from the natural world only leads us to believe that He exists. It does not give sufficient grounds for beliefs about God's nature.

In the fullness of time, God came to mankind in a most significant setting – in a manger. He was available to all who approached Him for help. The sorrowing and the afflicted, the open sinners and even the selfrighteous ones could reach Him. He showed His power over nature and, and worked miracles to comfort people in need. He was able to live with people and show how He could get firsthand information about their fears and aspirations. Incarnation made it possible for people to touch Him. He was sensitive to the needs of people. When a woman touched His garment in faith in the midst of a crowd around Him, He identified the sickness she was suffering from for twelve years in one look and healed her. He went about doing good and preaching the Kingdom of God. He was moved with compassion when He saw that the multitude was lost, and was meeting their physical and spiritual needs.

The relationship between the infinite God and finite human beings is revealed to us in the incarnation of Christ. The incarnation of Christ denotes the addition of God into humanity and mingling, that is, the union of God and humanity. In Jesus, God became one with man and man became one with God. The matter of “God mingling with man” is inconceivable to our understanding. Yet, this mysterious union was fully accomplished in the person of Jesus Christ. We read in 1Timothy 3:16 that God was manifested in the flesh, and in Colossians 2:9 that in Christ dwells the fullness of the Godhead bodily. God did not change into man; instead He adopted human nature and united it with His divine nature in the unity of one person. As Michael Ramsey said, “God is like Christ, and there is nothing unlike Christ in God.”

The God of the universe and beyond is concerned about the details of our lives here and now. Here He calls us into His service. He gave us hope and meaning in life. The goal and hope in a meaningful future should be beyond the reach of death, and yet not in such a manner as to destroy the significance of all that lies on this side of death. The curtain of death lies across the path to the future. Jesus opened a way through the curtain and has come to lead us on the way, which He is. We can go forward with confidence because Jesus has gone before us. We can go forward confidently even when the future is hidden, as we have a reliable track. We know our future hope is of the immortal and the imperishable. Incarnation made it possible to build our life not on the instability of the temporal, but on the permanence of the eternal. We eagerly look toward His second coming (John 14:3).

When He took humanity, He did not make Himself immune from the frustrations common to humans. The Bible presents Jesus as one who had feelings just like us and who was thus capable of being tempted. But it also presents Him as being sinless. He was not a superhuman being above human struggle, and so we can identify with Him. His humanness is wellexpressed in His vulnerability to tiredness and physical weakness. Wearied as He was with all His labour, He fell asleep. In contrast to the usual practice of the condemned criminal carrying his own cross to the site of crucifixion, Jesus was too weak to carry it beyond a certain point on the way to Golgotha. Harvest Times for Your Family

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STUDY

Other Sheep Not Of This Fold - Dr. George P. Koshy “And I have other sheep which are not of this fold; those also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one flock, one shepherd.”(John 10:16)

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ohn 10 should be studied with John 9 as its context, especially from John 9:39. John 10 begins with the expression, “Verily, verily, I say to you.” This expression always precedes the introduction of a doctrine Jesus Christ's hearers were not familiar with. He was telling the Pharisees, that they are being blind teachers who entered not through the door into the Jewish fold. He also told them that He entered into the Jewish fold according to the ordinances established by Jehovah, their God. The evidences of His legitimate entry were all the good works that He had fulfilled for their benefit. All the miracles, preaching, and teachings were for the manifestation of God's glory and His messiahship; but they refused to accept them as witnesses of His claim to be the Messiah and rejected Him. He told them that though they occupied the fold, He entered into it by the door that was opened to Him by the Porter. The Potter opened the door, because He was the Shepherd of the sheep. The porter recognized Him and that is why the door was opened for His entry. He also told the Jews that He is not only the Shepherd, but also the Door for His sheep to be led out of the fold. The underlying teaching was that the entrances of false teachers as well as that of Harvest Times for Your Family

other sheep (Gentiles) were not decided by those in the fold, but by the Porter, the door for entering and the going out. In this connection, it will be interesting to keep our mind on the three words: 1. The fold (a??? – AULEE) 2. The sheep -- p??ßat ?? (PROBATON) 3. The flock (p??µ?? – POIMNEE) The purpose of incarnation of the Son was to save and not to judge or rule. When He came into the Jewish fold, the sheep in that fold were a mixture of those who were His and those who belonged to the thieves and robbers who came not by the door. These two groups were to grow together until the harvest, so that those who were not His will be cast into the fire. He taught this truth to the Jewish leaders at different times. He did not come into the fold to condemn the world, but to take His sheep from the fold, to save them. The sheep are saved by calling them by their names and taking them out to be fed by the shepherd. His sheep hear His voice and follow Him. The prescribed order of entrance of the shepherd into the fold was fulfilled perfectly by Jesus Christ. Those who 6

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came not by the door were thieves and robbers. The door of the fold was not opened to them by the Porter, the Holy Spirit. Therefore, they could not come by the door. They did not fulfill any of the signs required of a shepherd. The Shepherd came to the fold of the sheep, which was the place of the scrutiny of the character of the true shepherd. Those who failed to recognize Him as the true Shepherd were those who were not His sheep. They heard a voice and not their names; as the Jewish leaders said that they heard a thunder, when the Father said, “I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again” at the temple. All His sheep were not in the same fold. This was the Jewish fold. The sheep that were in the fold that did not recognize the voice of the Shepherd must be independent sheep that seek to be lead against the voice of the true Shepherd. The 'voice' of the Shepherd has the power to separate the sheep that are of the Shepherd's and that are not. This voice was heard by the sheep of the Shepherd. Those who were not His were engaged in works that were directed towards their condemnation. The thieves and robbers entered into the fold by climbing in some other way. The true shepherd does not climb into the fold, but He enters through the door that was opened by the Porter, the Holy Spirit. This Shepherd, the Messiah, did not just come “to the sheep” but He came “to the fold of the sheep.”

are not called the 'flock.' The Good Shepherd comes to the fold. He calls His sheep by name. The objective of coming into the fold was to take them out of that fold. He came into the fold as we read in John 10:2. He did not enter into the 'flock,' therefore the flock is not mentioned there. Only the sheep is mentioned. He leads His sheep out of that fold. Those sheep led out of the fold, is called “Flock.” The reference of the fold is to the Jews (John 9:39-41). The Shepherd will lead His sheep out of the fold through the only Door. That Door was the Good Shepherd who gave His life for them. When He spoke those words, the leading of the flock out of the fold was a future event to the Pharisees. His death on the cross was still a future event. The Shepherd “puts forth His own sheep,” out of the fold and goes before them. Let us look to the actions of His sheep that know Him as their Shepherd. The sheep follow Him. They know their path because He is leading them and they are following Him. They know the Shepherd's voice. They not only know the Shepherd's voice, but they know that it is His voice. They are His own. They will not follow a stranger. They will flee from strangers. Here is the safety and security of the salvation of the sheep. Those that do not do this are not His sheep, though they may pretend to be. The sheep have personal knowledge of the Shepherd. They do not follow but flee from strangers, because they know that their voices are not of the Shepherd. Their defense is completely entrusted in the Shepherd. When they follow the Shepherd, they are outside the fold. They are no more inside that fold. They are outside the fold with the Shepherd who came into the fold to call them by their name. But the sheep that are still remaining in the fold with the thieves and robbers are those who did not know the voice of the Shepherd and whom the Shepherd did not call by their names. The Shepherd and His sheep are outside the fold, because the sheep knew His voice and followed Him.

So far, we have seen that the Porter, the Holy Spirit, has the power and titleauthority to open the door of the sheepfold. We also should observe that the sheep in that fold are not mentioned as a flock, but as the sheep in the fold. The Greek word for 'sheep' in John 10 is p??ßat ?? (PROBATON) and its literal meaning is: 'something walks forward.' The Greek word used for 'fold' is a??? (AULEE). With this background information, let us consider John 10:16, “And I have other sheep (προβατον PROBATON) which are not of this fold (αυλη AULEE)); those also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one flock (ποιµνη – POIMNEE; in KJV it is translated as 'fold'), one shepherd (ποιµνην – POIMNEEN).” It is true that p??µ??? (POIMNEEN) is translated as 'shepherd.' The shepherd is the one who takes care of the sheep in the fold. His sheep in the fold that He led out of it are called the flock. The sheep that are not His but are in the fold Harvest Times for Your Family

So far we have been discussing John 10:1-15. What about John 10:16? “And I have other sheep which are not of this fold; those also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one flock, one shepherd.” When the Lord Jesus Christ told the Pharisees about leading His sheep out of the fold in which they were the thieves and robbers, they understood that t the parable 7

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was addressed to them. However, they were ignorant about how He came in by the door of the fold that was opened to Him by the Holy Spirit, the Porter. They were also ignorant about what that exactly meant. He had entrance into the fold that was opened to Him by the Porter, the Holy Spirit. However, He led His sheep out of that fold through another Door, “I am the door of the sheep.” “I am the door: if any man enters by me, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.” When His sheep enter through the Door, which is the Shepherd, they have a right to go 'in and out.' This 'in and out' are not into the old fold or out of the old fold, but to find pasture as being led by the Shepherd and in obedience to the Shepherd. The Shepherd was the Door for His sheep to get out of the system of that fold, the Jewish system. He alone came as the Jewish Messiah; as He explained in John 4 to the Samaritan Woman, according to God's appointed way. Therefore He is God's appointed way to others, Jews and Gentiles. He is the Door. He is their way out of the Jewish system. He is the way to become the flock that He mentioned as “Little Flock” (µ????? p??µ???? – MIKRON POIMENION) in Luke 12:32.

who were led out of the Jewish fold were told to go into the fold and also into the Gentile fold, and take those who are His out of it and bring them out. Thus the 'in and out' of His sheep is brought before us. We read in Acts 15:14 that when those of His sheep that were led out of the Jewish fold and called them to be “Little Flock” were preaching the gospel as commanded, God was taking a people out of the folds, the Jewish and Gentile folds, for His name. Those sheep that were led out of the Jewish fold and taken out of the Gentile fold are now one flock, the “Little Flock.” We should never forget that the Good Shepherd did not go to the Gentile fold. He sends His 'Little Flock' to the Gentile fold to complete the “Little Flock.” He came to the Jewish fold and died for His sheep, laid down His life for His sheep, went to the Father after his resurrection commanding that the flock from the Jewish fold should go to the other fold. John 10:16 is misinterpreted in the Book of Mormons. We read in the Book of Mormons, that the other sheep in “not of this fold” are about the members of the Mormon Church. It is not true. To understand this, we should study John 10 as told by Lord Jesus Christ. In the Book of Mormons, they claim that the Good Shepherd went to certain nations in the Americas, against what is written in the Scriptures. Therefore, they claim that it was a special revelation, outside the revelation of God and they give it equal authority with that of God's revelation. God has said that no one should add to His revelation and we read in Revelation. The Revelation is from God through Christ through His angel to Apostle John to be given to the Assembly. No one should add or take away anything to or from it. If any does, he/she is cursed.

When the Good Shepherd came into the Jewish fold and took His sheep, which had the ability to hear Him and follow Him out of the fold, they were not put again into another fold, but He called them “Little Flock.” He then sends them into the other fold that He talked about in John 10:16. This He did when He gave the command, “Go into all the world, and preach the Gospel to all creatures” (Mark 16:15). Before the cross, when He sent them to preach the gospel of the kingdom, the disciples were commanded to go only to the lost sheep of Israel. After His death and resurrection, they were commanded to go to the Jewish fold and also the other fold and preach the gospel. We read this in Acts 1:8. Thus those sheep

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CONTEMPLATION

Showing Courtesy to Fellow Believers – Dr. Samuel Chandran & Dr. Roselin Chandran

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being.

ourtesy is an attitude which every individual should posses. But it is a very rare thing to see in this world.

This will help them to stand firm in Christian fellowship and also in their relationship with God because they will surely believe it is God who make the other person remember about them and enquire their well being. It will be the truth most of the time among believers.

For a Christian, courtesy should be a prominent trait found in his life. The word for Courtesy – 'philophronos' in Greek means 'with friendly thoughts'. In Acts 28:7, this word id used to refer to the hospitality shown by Publius to Paul and his fellow shipwrecked travellers.

As Christians it is our bounden duty and responsibility to show courtesy to the fellow believers. On the Day of Judgment, surely Sheep and Goats would be separated. He will cause the sheep to stand at His right hand, but the goats at His left. “Then the King will say to those at His right hand, 'Come you blessed of My Father; inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave Me food, I was thirsty and you gave Me something to drink, I was a stranger and you brought Me together with yourselves and welcomed and entertained and lodged Me, I was naked and you clothed Me, I was sick and you visited Me with help and ministering care. I was in prison and you came to see me… Truly I tell you, in so far you did it for one of the least of these My brethren, you did it for Me.” He will say to those at His left hand, “Depart from Me, you cursed into eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave Me no food, I was thirsty and you gave Me nothing to drink. I was stranger and you did not welcome Me and entertain Me, I was naked and you did not clothe Me, I was sick and in prison and you did not visit Me with help and ministering care. Then they also (in their turn) will

Our love and care for the fellow believers should be a natural corollary to God's love to us. “Beloved, if God loved us so (very much), we also ought to love one another” (1 John 4:11). “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind, you shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Matt 22:37,39). “You are My friends if you keep on doing the things which I command you to do” (John 15:14). “He cares for you” (1Pet. 5:7). As every believer who is a member of the Universal church is an adopted child of God, he/she is a part of the family of God. So we need to ask the question, “Am I showing that care and concern, helping hand to my co-believer who is my brother in Christ?” This care and concern which is called diakonia (serving one another) must be developed within the Church and it should be extended to the society. Heart to heart communication is very much the need of the hour. Let us try and start making a courtesy phone call or sms or email, whichever communication mode is available. It will do a great difference in the lives of others when they know that somebody is there to care for their well

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CONTEMPLATION

The Importance of Believing in Creation -1 – Peter S. C. Pothan

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n a Bible Study group of students, one young person said, “Why worry about Adam and Eve and things we are not sure about. Let us concentrate on Jesus and the gospel!” The Bible Study Leader replied: “If we ignore Genesis 1 to 3, there was no need for Jesus to die on the cross.” The Problem Unfortunately, many evangelical Christians even today take a similar attitude as the young man in this issue. They have never deeply considered this issue and since they have often no base in science, they have no answers. One evangelical Theology Professor told me, “You don't have to see Creation as from God and Evolution from the Devil.” I beg to differ. Yes, evolution is from the Devil to distract us from our view of God as the Creator and thus supreme. In the 1960s Hal Lindsay in his best seller Late Great Planet Earth identified several “bombs” the Devil used on human minds in the twentieth century. They included Darwinism (Evolution), Marxism, Fascism, Humanism, etc. It was these that took the modern mankind away from God. In his recent paper “Prospects of Pentecostalism” Dr. Jean-Daniel Pluss of Switzerland identified several questions that the second generation Pentecostal youth had in his country that were not answered by the Church authorities and so they left the church because they could not make sense of it all. One of them was questions relating to scientific claims. In his words: Especially by those that grew up during the student revolts around the year 1968 were suddenly asking Harvest Times for Your Family

questions relating to scientific discoveries on one hand and claims affirmed by faith on the other. Unfortunately, they were only told that the claims of the teachers were false, that the others were telling lies, and that they simply had to believe the Bible and the word of the pastor. There was a clear division between mind and heart. How strange this separation appears to us when we recall the great Commandment: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength” (Mark 12:30)...It would be better if we were living with the principle, “Every serious question deserves a serious answer.” If young people have questions, we should be willing to answer as well as we can… (March 1, 2010: 3) That was a true problem in those days I know since I was a young college student then. We had to struggle to find our own evangelical answers then. The same is true for youth today. Unfortunately Dr. Jean-Daniel Pluss' solution is this: Many Christians believe that the Bible is more than a religious book that also answers to historical and scientific data. But maybe that is not what God had in mind. Nowhere, do we read in the Bible that it claims to be authoritative in scientific matters. However, we do read the Bible as a book that speaks with inspiration and authority about matters of faith and life. (ibid) This is what I would call a “cop out” and will not answer any young person today. The modern youth are more knowledgeable than the earlier generation 10

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and they want genuine answers not 'wish-washy” statements. Yes, the Bible is not a “scientific text book” but as God's Word, it is both authoritative and trustworthy. How can it be “a book that speaks with inspiration and authority about matters of faith and life” if it cannot deal with Creation and the formation of the universe? A God who is not a Creator cannot be a Redeemer either! And to say “Nowhere, do we read in the Bible that it claims to be authoritative in scientific matters” is ridiculous. The so-called difference between Science and Religion is a 19th century invention of a few atheist scientists and has no credibility what so ever. The Bible is God's Truth and therefore True Science will back it. On the other hand, False Scientific Theories will try to discredit it. In fact, I have found that when people try to bolster up evolution with so called facts, they don't hesitate to tell lies or use half truths. We need to use discernment in this area. In reality history shows that scientists in England from Newton onwards were trying to discover the laws of the universe so as to discover what God had done. They all believed in God. Sir James Simpson, one of the most learned scientists of his time and the discoverer of the anaesthetic properties of chloroform, when asked what he considered the most wonderful discovery he had ever made said without hesitation, “The greatest discovery I ever made was that I had a Saviour.” He then set out to find out the wonders that God had created. The same was true of scientists in Europe. They may have challenged the wrong teachings of the Roman Catholic Church, but that did not mean they were heretics or atheists. For instance, Johannes Kepler, who set out the Kepler's Laws of Planetary Motion following Copernicus' idea that the planets (including the earth) revolved around the sun, said just before he died that he believed “only and alone in the service of Jesus Christ. In Him is all refuge, all solace.” 2009 was designated by several evolutionists as the “Darwin Year” as it was the 200th birth anniversary of Charles Darwin, who was born on February 12, 1809. So February 12 became “Darwin's Day”. If 201 years down the line we still do not have evangelical answers to the lie of evolution, then as Paul says, “we are to be pitied more than all men.” Harvest Times for Your Family

The Reasons for Believing in Creation: There are several reasons why we as Christians should believe in Creation. 1. The Bible clearly teaches it as a fact and takes it for granted. Genesis starts with God creating the world. It emphasizes both creation ex nihilo (out of nothing) and that human kind is a special creation in the image of God. In the Psalms and other Old Testament books this is repeated. The Psalmist for instance says, “When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him? You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honour. You made him ruler over the works of your hands; you put everything under his feet:” (Ps 8:3-6) Jesus confirms God as the Creator who is still currently working saying, “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them” (Matt. 6:26 and “My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I, too, am working.”(John 5:17). If then we claim to be evangelicals and do not accept the written word we are being foolish. 2. If we refuse to accept the record of Genesis chapters 1 to 3 with the Creation and the Fall, and call it myths or fables, we really have no gospel. The death of Christ on the cross is based on the creation and the fall. Without these there is really no need for the Lord Jesus to die a sacrificial death on the cross. This lays the basis for the gospel of reconciliation to the Creator whom we have been separated from by our first ancestor's sin. 3. Our Gospel is that of the Creator who became man to die for us. Only the Creator could be the Wounded Saviour. That is the glory of the incarnation. Without that Jesus would be just a human. But the Bible insists that He is both Creator and Sacrifice. That is why John starts with “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of men” (John 1:1- 4). In his first epistle he says, “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have 11

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looked at and our hands have touched — this we proclaim concerning the Word of life” (1John 1:1). Why does John emphasize the Creation “in the beginning”? Because he sees the importance of the fact that the Saviour is the Creator. Paul emphasised the same fact to the Colossian Church saying, “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. …For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross” (Col. 1: 15-20). Paul clearly understood that Creation is linked to Redemption. The Creator is the Wounded Saviour! This truth only could defeat the Gnostic “Colossian Heresy”.

areas of ethical reflection. Fifthly, a failure to believe in the Creator leads to Secular Humanism. This is based on the belief that there is no Creator and humans evolved from animals and therefore humans can make all decisions by human reason based on desires and relative values of people. This causes disunity, dictatorship and oppression. Communism adopted this attitude and since they rejected the Creation they rejected the only basis for equality of all people and so evolved into an oppressive regime. Sixthly, this view also leads to Post-Modernism with no belief in anything! It leads to lack of hope. Therefore, if we fail to take Creation seriously, we fail in every aspect of our Christian faith. (To be continued)

Showing Courtesy to Fellow Believers

4. The Creation is the basis for all ethical lifestyle. The Creation rests on God's initiative and depends on God's activity. While the Creation accounts are not scientific theories of origin yet certain fundamental principles are enshrined there. Firstly, we are told that the earth belongs to God because he made it (cf. Ps. 24:1). At the same time it also belongs to humankind as God has entrusted it to our care (Gen.1:28, cf. Ps.115:16, Ps. 8:4-8). Therefore, we are responsible to God as stewards for what we do with it, which is the basis of all individual, social and ecological ethics. Secondly, we are told that God made man and woman in his own image (Gen. 1:26 - 27) and they are created to have fellowship with God. Thus the dignity of human beings is asserted in the creation account. The image of God is evident in their given ability to know God and exercise authority over all creation (Gen. 1:28, 2:19-20). Thus human beings stand in a special relationship to God. This therefore talks not only of stewardship but also of uniqueness. Thirdly, each human stands in relation to his or her fellow humans. Human rights, equality and freedom are God given rights to humankind. This, therefore, deals with problems of gender, marriage, caste and social inequalities, suicide, euthanasia, capital punishment, genetic engineering, etc. Hence, it can be seen that the Creation and especially the theological concept of humankind created in God's image is basic to most Harvest Times for Your Family

contd. form 19 answer, Lord when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison and did not minister to You? And He will reply to them, Solemnly I declare you, in so far as you failed to do it for the least of these, you failed to do it for Me” (Matt 25:41-45). As a Child of God, is there Christian love and courtesy in me? Am I showing that simple words or action of courtesy to my fellow brothers is a question to be answered? Do I honestly communicate from the depth of my heart? Asking, “How are you? How things are going on?” These are examples for words of courtesy to begin with. Am I using a word or action of kindness – Courtesy without any expectations from my fellow brother, sister or family? May the grace of God enable us to examine ourselves often, commit ourselves to show courtesy and act upon it! blossomschandrans@gmail.com 12

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01/13

5 - 10 years

Story 1

Paul before the King

In Acts 25: 13-22, Governor Festus tells King Agrippa about the prisoner Paul. Agrippa then asks to be allowed to hear Paul for himself.

READ: Acts 25: 13-22 & 26: 13-32

KEY VERSE: Acts 26: 22 Ask someone to help you find this verse

In Acts 26: 13-32, Paul defends himself before King Agrippa. Sometimes during holidays you may visit several different relations. They all seem to want to know how you are getting on at school. After you’ve told the third or fourth one you may think to yourself,“How many more times?" Paul may have felt like this as he had to stand trial before various officials who had been appointed to try him. Yet he didn’t mind because he used every opportunity to tell them about the Lord Jesus. Q: Write in the answers to the following questions and then circle them in the Word Puzzle. (They are written backwards, forwards, diagonally, up or down.) 1.In Acts 26: 24 Paul is described as crazy or __ __ __. 2.Who described him as this? ............................. 3.Who captured Paul in the Temple? (26: 21) ............................................................... 4.What was the visitor’s royal title? (25: 13) ............................................................... 5.Where was Paul put on trial? (25: 13) ............................................................... 6.Who left Paul a prisoner? (25: 14) ............................................................... 7.In which city was Paul charged? (25: 15) ............................................................... 8.What is Jesus, or Messiah, sometimes called? ...............................................................

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9.Who always gave a fair trial? (25: 16) .......................................................... 10. Who was the visiting king ? ............................................................... 11.Who prayed that the king would become a Christian? (26: 29) ............................................................... 12.Who accompanied the king? ........................... Q: Write out the letters that remain (from left to right moving down the Word Puzzle) to find out what Paul spoke to King Agrippa about.

......... / .............. / ............. / ............. / ............... Q: From the Key Verse answer TRUE OR FALSE: God helped Paul to witness. ........................ Paul only witnessed to great (important) people. ........................ Q: What did Festus say as he heard Paul speak?

Q: What is the challenge Paul gave to King Agrippa?

What is your answer to the searching question,“Do you believe?” Will you put off answering as Felix did? (Acts 24: 25) Or perhaps like Festus, in this Bible Reading, you think it’s only crazy people who become Christians. Or maybe like King Agrippa, you are almost persuaded, but have never trusted in the Lord Jesus. All these men had a wonderful opportunity to be saved, and forgiven, but sad to say, they failed to come to the point where they received the Lord Jesus as their Saviour and Lord. Make sure you don’t do the same as they did and miss your opportunity. Instead, be like Paul who could answer his own question and say: “I know whom I have believed”. (2 Timothy 1: 12) Harvest Times for Your Family

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Story 2

READ: Acts 27: 13-14, 20-44 & 28: 1-9

KEY VERSE: Acts 27: 25 Ask someone to help you find this verse

Shipwreck

If you want to enjoy fully this exciting end to Paul’s adventures read all of chapters 27 and 28. Have you ever found yourself in a difficult situation and felt worried or afraid? When we give the Lord Jesus the control of our lives as Paul had done, He doesn’t take all our problems away but He does promise to help us through them. Q: The storm hit them after they passed the island called... (Acts 27:13).

Q: Search the Word Puzzle and shade in the two things they had not seen for many days.

Q: Now write out the remaining letters from the Word Puzzle in the order given, to discover how everyone felt during the storm.

Paul encouraged everyone on the ship with a special message from God. Q: Using Acts 27: 24, write IN YOUR OWN WORDS what it was God had said to him.

After God had spoken to Paul he encouraged everyone on the ship to eat. (See Acts 27: 33-44) Q: Answer TRUE or FALSE: Paul gave thanks to God for the bread.

................

Afterwards, the men felt sad and angry.

................

The centurion wanted to save Paul’s life.

................

Everyone escaped safely to shore.

................

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Q: What was the name of the island on which they were shipwrecked?

Q: Take the first letter of each object to find out who looked after Paul on the island.

Q: Write on the calendar the number of days Paul stayed with him. Q: Cross out the wrong answers to find out what happened in his home.

Number of Days:

Publius’ son / father / wife was sick with a fever / broken leg / headache, so Paul shouted / cried / prayed and laid his hands on him and healed him.

After three months, Paul continued his journey to Rome, where he was kept a prisoner in his own home but was still allowed to have visitors. You will see by reading the very last verse of the book of Acts what he did. Yes, right up to the end of his life he was still telling people about his Saviour, the Lord Jesus. Once again, Paul had trusted the Lord through difficult situations. He knew God would never let him down. If we, like Paul, trust the Lord Jesus, He will forgive our sins and help us in every situation in life. He will also never let us down.

Dear parents and Sunday school teachers, You may make photo copies of Kidz Bible Time (4 pages) and distribute them among children. Please collect the answer scripts and send them to Candelina. Editor Answer scripts will be returned after correction. Harvest Times for Your Family

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January 2013 / Volume 10 Issue 01


Proud to Be Humble? - Cynthia John

W

hat do your friends put on Facebook? Pictures of their new gadgets? Holiday pictures? Minor achievements? Read ten Facebook updates, and see how many of them are motivated by pride. It seems so natural and common to show off, or feel proud of yourself. But God has a radically different way of seeing things.

If Jesus Himself took the nature of a servant, and wanted us to follow His example, how does that change your view of being great? Here are some things that Jesus says. They are very different from what many people believe. Think about them and see if you really believe them: “...learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” Matthew 11:29

If we start thinking about the number of things that we do and say, which have pride at the base, we could go on and on. All of us are guilty of pride. God gives us a totally different view of being 'great.'

“...'You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, 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 a ransom, for many.' “ Matthew 20:25-28

Matthew 23:11, 12 says, “The greatest among you will be your servant. For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” That's just the opposite of what people want to do. The common view of being great means to be honoured and respected, and to get others to serve us. But this verse clearly tells us that those who are the greatest must be the servant of others, serving with love.

“...I am among you as one who serves.” Luke 22: 27 “...For he who is least among you all – he is the greatest.” Luke 9:48 “Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 18: 4 In the light of Jesus' words, how can you change your life? Here are a few things you can do: w Ask God to remove pride from your heart, and help you see your sin. w Reflect on your attitudes and actions that reflect pride and confess them to God. w Sincerely ask for forgiveness and ask Him to fill your heart and live in you.

And our example is Jesus, “And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death – even death on a cross!” Philippians 2:8 Paul says, “Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.” Philippians 2:5-7 Harvest Times for Your Family

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w Depend on God to help you overcome the sin of

to destruction in hell, we can't help feeling humble.

pride.

When we focus on God and His greatness, it will keep our thoughts away from our selves, and help us realise the truth that we are nothing by ourselves; and everything in Him.

w Focus on God, knowing Him, praying for His plan,

and letting Him guide your life. w Reflect on the greatness of God, His creation, His

When we do acknowledge the fact that we are nothing, when we empty our hearts of any pride in our own selves, we open the doors for God's blessing and power to flow through us. Like Paul, we can also say, “I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:13

work and His plans for eternity. w Reflect on your sinfulness, and the fact that you

just can't do anything about it on your own. w Reflect on the fact that you cannot even make a hair

from your head fall – without God, we can do nothing at all.

There is a right way to boast, though. “This is what the LORD says: 'Let not the wise boast of their wisdom or the strong boast of their strength or the rich boast of their riches, but let the one who boasts boast about this: that they have the understanding to know me, that I am the LORD, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight,' declares the LORD.” Jeremiah 9:23, 24

w Try to avoid situations where you may be tempted

to focus on yourself or show off. w Make a conscious effort not to show off, speak

boastfully, or think highly of yourself. When we realise that we can do nothing by ourselves, and that when we follow our own path, we are doomed

?

Answers of Nov. 2012 BQ

BQ December 2012 [All Questions from Matthew 11 to 13]

For 11 to 14 year olds 1. Which disciples were witnesses to Jesus' transfiguration?

1. Herod the Tetrarch [Matt. 14:1] 2. To a desert place [Matt. 14:13] 3. Fed 5000 people with 5loaves and 2 fish [Matt. 14:19-20] 4. Went up to the mountain to pray alone [Matt. 14:23] 5. A spirit [Matt.14:26] 6. Worshipped Him

[Matt. 14:33] 7. Transgressing the commandment of God by their tradition [Matt. 15:3] 8. What comes out of the mouth [Matt.15:11] 9. Blind leaders [Matt. 15:14] 10. Son of David [Matt. 15:22]

2. Who came visiting Jesus at that place?

Winners of Nov. 2012 BQ

3. What did Peter want to make? 4. Who spoke from the cloud at that place?

Sorry! No Winners!!

5. What did the disciples do when they heard the voice from the cloud? 6. Until when were the disciples not to tell others about the vision?

The answers and names of the winners will be published after two months. Answers should reach us before 7th February 2013. Answers to be sent only on postcards. The publisher’s decision is final. Answers received without name, address or age will not be evaluated. Send your answers with your name, age and complete postal address to:

7. What was the problem with the boy whom the disciples could not heal? 8. For what did Jesus rebuke the disciples? 9. What did the authorities come to collect from Jesus at Capernaum?

HT-Explorers, GLS Publishing, Udyog Bhavan, 250 D, Worli Colony, Mumbai 400 030

10. From where did Peter get the money for paying the money? Harvest Times for Your Family

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Joseph in Prison - Abey Kuruvila

T

here are some good lessons we can learn from the life of Joseph during his imprisonment years.

prison years remains a worthy example of holiness and hard work for us to follow. Yet, this man Joseph had still a lot more to learn about God.

Those years were particularly tough for Joseph. Not just because he had been betrayed by his own brethren but also because he was now put in the prison for wrong reasons. When you read his words in his interaction with the chief butler, you see him trying to make some arrangements with the butler for his release. Joseph was quite aware that God was with him even in the prison as he was with him when he was sold into Egypt. But yet as any normal human, he was struggling to cope with the fact that he was in the dungeon.

Notice his responses in two situations: First in Genesis 40:8, “Do not interpretations belong to God? Tell me them, I pray you.” Compare that with his response to Pharaoh in Genesis 41:16, “It is not in me: God shall give Pharaoh an answer of peace.” Second in Genesis 40:15, “For indeed I was stolen away out of the land of the Hebrews…” Compare that with his response to his brethren in Genesis 45:7, “And God sent me before you to preserve you…” The change in Joseph is quite subtle. He's more dependent on God now than before. What he professes about his God is not just facts but experiences. When he said, “Do not interpretations belong to God?” it was a fact he firmly believed in. But when he said, “God shall give Pharaoh an answer of peace,” he was not just telling that God is responsible for interpretations, he was also attesting to the fact through his experience of God in his prison years that God's answer will be one that satisfies and brings peace.

He had done nothing wrong for to suffer a punishment like that. We read in 1Peter 3:14 that happy are they who suffer for righteousness' sake. But for that to be an encouragement for Joseph in such a time was far beyond reality. As his days of unjustified imprisonment went on from days into weeks and weeks into months, he would've certainly asked many hard questions to God in his lonesome moments in that dungeon. It would've been a struggle for Joseph at that time to overcome his emotions of dejection, rebellion and depression and draw courage, patience and strength from the faithful God he had experienced thus far.

Joseph was able to see God more vividly through the situations he's going through. He realized that he was not just a case of family conspiracy and kidnapping, but he was on a mission from God. Wow! I imagine Joseph getting goose bumps all over as he testified aloud this before his brethren. It was a great thing for Joseph to say for he had all the authority to take revenge against his brethren. But yet, being subject unto the divine counsel of God, he dealt kindly with his brethren. I see that as a great challenge for the children of God who go through immense sufferings to count it all as a mission from God towards

Even in our Christian walk, it remains a challenge for us to cling on to the Word of God through the hardships we face for righteousness' sake. Waiting for the right time for God to fulfil his plans in our lives is a greater challenge. Joseph tried to get his release done soon through the butler. But God's time for that to happen was a good two years later. Through it all, Joseph came out a more refined man of God after his prison years. Already his life prior to his Harvest Times for Your Family

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something beautiful.

today?�

Finally, in both on these situations, notice also how the 'I' loses importance in the latter response. Indeed he was learning a lot about God!

It's an important lesson that we need to learn from Joseph's life. To have a heart of love in ministry is equally important as being faithful in ministry. Without which ministry becomes dry and unproductive. Notice that word 'today'. It shows the regularity in Joseph's love. Not a Sunday affair alone. Joseph made it a daily practice to love his fellowprisoners. He showed diligence even in his love for them because of which they were free to open up their hearts to him and tell him their dreams.

This man Joseph was loved by all. He was trustworthy, hardworking and faithful in all his matters. But these qualities came not from a responsibility-driven or work-driven life. It was something that came out of a true heart. He had a character that was lovable and attractive because he himself showed concern and love for all people. When in prison he was put in charge of all the prisoners. Yet he ruled not over them but interacted with them in love and concern. We see that in his words he asked the butler and the baker, “Why are your faces so sad

January 2013 CROSSWORD 15 - 19 years 2

1

4

3

6 7 9

8

10

11 13

12 14 15

16

17

5

Joseph is yet a beautiful example for us to follow. Even though it was a dungeon he was put in to, yet his life never stopped radiating the beauties of a child of God.

Across 1. He cheated his brother and had to flee from his home. [5] 6. Teacher [5] 7. Place where God confused the language of the people. [5] 8. Paul calls the Corinthian believers these because they had refused to grow up. [5] 10. Jacob hid all the strange gods under this tree. [3] 12. When David became king, Mephiboseth was living in the house of this man's son. [6] 14. One kind of people Jesus healed [4] 15. In Damascus governor of this king tried to arrest Paul. [6] 17. The bronze serpent Moses had made in the wilderness later came to be known as this. [9] Down 1. At this ford a man fought with an angel. [6] 2. One of the Midianite prince Gideon killed. [4] 3. A prophet who was rebuked by an ass. [6] 4. David cried to the LORD not to remember these of his youth. [4] 5. One of the names of the Saviour mentioned by

Prophet Isaiah. [9] 9. Son of this man rebelled against Abimelech a son of Gideon. [4] 11. Moses' sister Miriam died here. [6] 13. This part of Jesus' body was not broken by the soldiers. [3] 15. One of the letters of Hebrew alphabet used in Psalm 119. [3] 16. Jesus went riding on this animal to Jerusalem to a rousing welcome. [3]

Nov. 2012 Crossword Answers 2

1

P E A C E A E P R I D E E A A R O R I L I WO E R E V A E S T E P H

3

6

9

10

12

13

14

4

C L A O C O M K G MA E D I N A S

7 8

A N G E R A

11

5

P L E I A D E S

Nov. 2012 Crossword Winners Mandeep Kaur, Mukandpur, Punjab Michael Jacob, Belgaum, Karnataka Rubie Antony, Ankleshwar, Gujarat

Answers should reach us before 7th February 2012. The Answers and Winners will be published only after 2 months.Answers should be sent only on postcards. The publisher's decision is final. Answers received without name, address or age will not be evaluated. Send your answers with your name and complete postal address to: HT-Challengers, GLS Publishing, Udyog Bhavan, 250 D, Worli Colony, Mumbai 400 030.

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Spiritual Mothers and Special Sons - Mrs. S F Alva

W

hen Samson consorted with Delilah, would he have ever dreamt that 3000 years later, his affair would be made into a Hollywood movie? The world craves for sordid stories and honours persons involved in them as celebrities. God honoured Samson's mother by personally giving her instructions about the future judge of Israel. The angel appeared to her twice and only later on to her husband, Manoah. Spiritually discerning, she recognised the messenger as the Angel of the Lord. The Lord revealed that she would have a special son, who all his life would be a Nazarite. He would begin to deliver Israel from the Philistine rule. She too was a part of the Nazarite vow by abstaining from any part of the vine during pregnancy. When Manoah mistook the Angel to be a man and asked his name, He replied 'Wonderful' (Isaiah 9:6). Only when their offering went up in flames and the Angel ascended did he realise who their visitor was. The couple threw themselves face down. Manoah was sure they would die. His wife's faith triumphed. She assured her husband that after revealing such a wonderful message God would fulfil His Word. 'Samson' means 'sunny'; doubtless the child brought joy and delight to his parents. All precautions were taken to bring him up as a Nazarite. Time and again she restrained him from eating grapes or its juice. Lovingly she explained that he was special and God had a great purpose for his life. From childhood she must have cared for his seven locks of hair. In his youth Samson's long hair must have been cumbersome. She encouraged him to tolerate it by reminding him that he was dedicated to God. She kept instilling in Samson that God would use him to deliver Israel from their enemies. The Lord blessed and Harvest Times for Your Family

strengthened Samson. His Spirit of power began to move in him. Self willed young Samson walked into the enemy country and chose a Philistine bride. He had no respect for his father's disapproval or mother's pleadings. His sorrowful mother must have thought her careful upbringing was in vain. En route to the wedding Samson made a detour into a vineyard and broke his Nazarite vow. Empowered by the Lord, he killed a roaring lion. Later he took honey from its carcass and broke another vow. He gave some honey to his parents but did not reveal its source. Not only had he lost respect for his parents, but stopped communicating with them. Could Samson, who was to deliver Israel from Philistine rule, marry one of them? His mother must have claimed the Angel's promise and cried out to the Lord. Samson, by his own pride and folly, never consummated the marriage. God accomplishes His purposes either with us or in spite of us! Samson found many reasons to avenge himself. He kept fighting, killing and destroying the Philistines. He had some novel ways – he caught 300 foxes, tied torches to their tails and let them burn Philistine cornfields, vineyards and orchards. He killed 1000 men with the jaw bone of an ass. The Spirit of God used to come on him powerfully. He was a one man army fulfilling God's purpose. Twice we read of him calling on the Lord for help. He was a man of faith but not a faithful one! He gave in to his passions of lust, anger and pride. Samson's own nation did not approve his destroying the Philistines. Judah had become so complacent, that they never cried to the Lord for forty years of Philistine domination. A spiritually dark time, yet his 21

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mother's faith shone brightly. A sword must have gone through her soul when 3000 Israelites tied and handed Samson to the Philistines. Only some of Samson's deeds are rewarded, for he truly did begin to deliver Israel from Philistine rule. Samson's mother was not aware that he was fulfilling God's purpose, but in an unobtrusive way. Samson's tragic yet triumphant end completed God's mission. All the lords of the Philistines and 3000 important men had gathered to celebrate their god Dagon's festival. The temple was full of men and women. They rejoiced ascribing victory to Dagon. With a last cry to the Lord Samson pulled down the temple pillars and killed all of them.

God chooses spiritual mothers to have special sons. We have numerous examples – Hannah, Jochebed, Elizabeth, Mary and Lois. These mothers endured heart rending sorrow, exercised strong faith and hoped against hope before and while their sons were accomplishing God's purposes. Former slave trader John Newton's mother prayed for him till her death. Similarly, Samson's mother may not have comprehended her son's achievements till the end. Believing, praying mothers need never despair of their children's ultimate spiritual well being (Proverbs 22:6). Our promise keeping, faithful God never fails.

Practical Tips

Stress Management “Let the peace of God rule in your hearts” (Col.3:25).

disobedience to God's command. It is a distrust of God's care and ability. Pretty severe, right? But it's true.

“Stress” is a very commonly used word these days. People often confess that they are “stressed out.” “Stress management” has become a much sought after skill. Some fallouts of a stressful life are physical ailments like high blood pressure and heart problems. Reports shows that heart attack, which used to be associated with older men in earlier generations, afflict much younger men now. Besides, many women suffer from heart diseases that used to be considered gender selective.

With the command not to worry comes a command to do something else: 'in everything, by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God' (Phil.4:6). Thus we are not expected to be passive but active. The antidote for worry is trust in God and prayer. And this action produces a happy result: 'the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus' (Phil.4:7). So we can stop worrying and start living.

Overwork is one reason for stress. Most of us have too much to do, with too little time and energy. We often feel that we just can't cope. 'Are you moving so fast that you feel you're spinning your wheels?' asks a country gospel song. We would answer 'yes', wouldn't we?

The other day, someone narrated an incident. Fire broke out in a train and the passengers panicked. But an elderly woman sat peacefully, with no sign of fear. A young man in the same compartment noticed her reaction and asked her how she could keep so calm. She explained that her life was in God's hand and she had nothing to fear. Then she shared the Gospel with him. He was converted and later served God in his hometown, resulting in many others coming to the Lord.

Another cause of stress is worry. Worry over circumstances, worry over the future, worry over the children. There never is dearth of reasons for worry. And worry is second nature to many of us. So you have a fatal combination there. This is why the word of God specifically commands us to not worry. 'Be anxious for nothing' (Phil. 4:6) rings out loud and clear. I remember reading a book titled How to Win over Worry and Care many years ago. In it the author, Dr. Edmund Haggai, emphatically states that worry is a sin. It is Harvest Times for Your Family

- Malsawmi Jacob

Before leaving the world, our Lord told his disciples “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you” (Jn.14:27). Let's gladly take hold of this gift and let it control our lives. 22

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STIMULUS

Important Though Not Fundamental - William MacDonald

T

here is a class of subjects that, while not fundamental is nonetheless important. Jesus implied such a distinction when He said to the Pharisees, “You pay tithe of mint and anise and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith (Matthew 23:23). In other words, some parts of the law are 'weightier' than others. But Jesus reminded them that even the less weighty matters of the law require obedience; “these you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone.”

disagreement as to the mode and meaning of baptism. Some practice baptism by immersion, some by immersing three times and some by sprinkling. Some see baptism as signifying identification with Christ in His death, burial and resurrection. Others see sprinkling as a picture of the descent of the Spirit. You can be a true believer and hold any of these views and this should not be a bar to fellowship. But once an assembly has adopted a position on the subject no one should cause trouble by pushing alternate views. It is a different matter when a person believes in baptismal regeneration, that is, that a person must be baptized in order to be saved, or that by baptizing an infant, you make the child a member of Christ and an inheritor of the kingdom of God. This is a false gospel, a denial of the truth that salvation is by faith alone. Because it is contrary to a fundamental of faith, it precludes the fellowship of Bible-believing Christians.

So in the New Testament, there are matters which aren't fundamental, but which require obedience. They are matters on which the Bible speaks. Some are described as commandments of the Lord (1Corinthians 14:37). We should not treat them as non-essentials or treat them as such. These subjects include baptism, divorce and remarriage, the outline of prophecy, the eternal security of the believer, women's head covering, women's public ministry in the church, the gifts of the Spirit and the topics related to divine election and human responsibility.

Divorce and Remarriage Some say, "No divorce. PERIOD." Some say, "Divorce, but no remarriage." Others say, "Divorce for unfaithfulness, but no remarriage.” Still others say, "Divorce for unfaithfulness with freedom for the innocent party-to remarry: Some even say, "Divorce for desertion." There is no end to the different views, and it's doubtful that there will ever be unanimity on this subject as long as we are here on earth.

The problem is that Christians hold differing views on these matters. While there is only one right interpretation for each of these matters, believers do not agree on which interpretation is correct. Great and godly believers don't see eye to eye. Let's look at some of these issues.

Sooner or later, every local assembly must adopt a position on this subject and adhere to that position in the fear of God. Individuals may hold other

Baptism In the Christian church, there is considerable Harvest Times for Your Family

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interpretations, but they must not press their views publicly or privately lest they cause division.

instructions concerning head coverings were just for the culture in which he lived. Others insist that they are the commandments of the Lord. Paul bases his instruction on the order and purpose of creation. While praying or prophesying, a woman “ought to have a symbol of authority on her head because of the angels.� For these reasons, the instruction applies to all time and not just for the culture of Paul's day.

It should be added that even after an assembly adopts a position, the elders will still have to consider each case individually. Such complex situations arise today in the marriage relationship that no stated policy will cover every case. The Outline of Prophecy

Questions arise such as whether the head covering is just for meetings of the church (and if so, what is a meeting of the church?) and what constitutes a proper covering? If the elders of an assembly don't adopt a policy on the subject, there is bound to be confusion. They owe it to the saints to state clearly what they believe the Scriptures teach.

Some believers are pre-millennial, others are postmillennial and still others are a-millennial. Even among pre-millennialists there are four major views: pre-tribulation rapture, mid-tribulation rapture, prewrath rapture and post-tribulation rapture. There are problems connected with every position. A person can hold any of these views and still be a good Christian.

Women's Ministry

It is proper that we know what we believe and rejoice in it. But it is also proper that we remember there are godly, sincere believers who hold other views. Honest differences should not prevent us from breaking bread together. On the other hand, those who hold alternate views should respect the prophetic stance of an assembly and not push their views, thereby causing dissension. When someone insists that everyone must agree with his minority view, there is bound to be trouble.

When may a woman sing or speak in a meeting of the church? The answers given today are too numerous to list. With a sincere desire to obey the Scriptures as closely as possible, elders should adopt a clear, united position. These prayerful conclusions become the policy of the assembly. The Sign Gifts Another issue that holds the potential for trouble is the charismatic question. Tongues, healing, and prophesying seem to be the gifts around which the most controversy has swirled. The differing viewpoints, even among Charismatics themselves, are legion.

Eternal Security Many Christians believe that when a person has been truly born again, he or she will never lose their salvation. They believe that to deny the eternal security of the believer questions the sufficiency of the work of Christ and mixes faith and works.

We can and must love Christians who disagree with us, but we must not allow this issue to cause division. Therefore, an assembly must decide what the Bible really teaches on this score. The elders have both a right and a responsibility to deal firmly, with any who insist on teaching views that conflict with accepted teaching and threaten the peace of the assembly.

There are other people who love the Lord and yet they sincerely believe that Christians can forfeit their salvation through sin. To refuse fellowship with these saints means that you would not break bread with John Wesley and men of that spiritual stature.

Divine Election and Human Responsibility

Again, we say to the elders of each assembly, "Know what you believe and why you believe it." Say to those who believe differently, "You can hold a different view, but don't teach it in public or in private. If you would like to discuss it, please speak to the elders."

A Five-point Calvinist believes in man's total depravity, Cod's unconditional election, limited atonement (i.e. only for the elect), irresistible grace, and the perseverance of the saints. Accurate definition of these terms is essential before an intelligent judgment can be formed.

Women's Head Covering On the one side are those who hold that Paul's

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THOUGHT

- Richard Masih

T

hanksgiving is not an option. It is compulsory. It's indicated in the following commands. These commands must be obeyed. If not, we are ungrateful and disobedient.

proper among the saints. There should not be filthiness or foolishness or crude joking among us. These are out of place. Backbiting, gossiping, lying, cursing, complaining, grumbling, abusive language or corrupt talk should not come out of our mouths (Eph. 4:29). These neither glorify God nor edify the saints or the sinners. What should come out of our mouths is only thanksgiving (Eph. 5:4).

Offer to God a Sacrifice of Thanksgiving Psalm 50:4 This is a sacrifice, no doubt. Any sacrifice is costly. We should offer to God that which costs us something – in terms of money, privacy, physical discomfort, mental and emotional drain, inconvenience, etc. David refused to offer to God a sacrifice which cost him nothing (2Sam. 24:24). The presenting of our bodies to God as a living sacrifice is not only costly but painful also (Rom. 12:1). As priests of God, we offer spiritual sacrifices to God (1Pet. 2:5).

Give Thanks Always and For Everything Ephesians 5:20 Giving of thanks to God should be natural to us. It should come to us naturally. We should give thanks to him always, not only once in a while when it is convenient and when we feel like. Giving of thanks should be for everything – even hurtful things. He is in sovereign control. He is a good God. He always wants his best for us. Thanksgiving is something which we give to the Lord. Other times, we are at the receiving end. In thanksgiving, we are at the giving end. When we are giving thanks we are honoring God, glorifying God and expressing our gratefulness to God.

When we offer to God sacrifices of thanksgiving, we honor God and open the way for him to do wonders and miracles in our lives (Ps. 50:23). We think mistakenly that we can thank God only when we are happy, peaceful, cheerful and joyful. But the truth is, we can also thank God when we are tearful. “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise” (Ps. 51:17).

Make Your Requests Known to God with Thanksgiving Philippians 4:6 When we apply butter and jam on the bread it goes smoothly down our throat. When we mix ripe banana with peanut butter, it becomes smooth to swallow. Otherwise, it is sticky. Mixing our prayer requests with thanksgiving has that buttering effect. Our prayer and intercession become smooth, enjoyable and easily operable. Thanksgiving has that lubricant effect which keeps the wheels of prayer easily rolling without any friction or sparks. Thanksgiving creates faith in us and gives us confidence to call upon God.

Forget Not All His Benefits Psalm 103:1-3 We are prone to forget all the blessings and benefits bestowed on us by our all benevolent God. We take his blessings for granted. So we fail to be thankful to him and give him our thanks. There are four benefits that the Psalmist records here – Forgiveness, healing, redeeming and crowning. We can count our blessings, name them one by one, add them to this list and thank God for each one of them, without forgetting anyone of them.

Abound in Thanksgiving Colossians 2:7

Let There Be Thanksgiving Ephesians 5:4

Another translation puts it as 'overflowing with thanksgiving.' Our thanksgiving should not be shallow like Elijah's brook which eventually dried up by the passing of time (1Kings 17:7). It should be

Sexual immorality, all impurity and covetousness must not be even named among us. They are not Harvest Times for Your Family

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rather like the river Jordan which overflows all its banks throughout the time of harvest (Josh. 3:15). It should be like the widow's oil which kept overflowing when it was poured from one vessel to another (2Kings 4:5). Our thanksgiving should be like the spring of the living water, welling up to eternal life (Jn. 4:14). We should not be miserly but generous in our thanksgiving.

Important Though ..... contd. form 24 Of these five points, many believers accept only the fifth, perseverance of the saints, although they would prefer to call it the perseverance of Christ. They insist that Christ's atonement was for all in its sufficiency and availability. They also point out that Calvinism rules out man's free will, whereas Christ constantly appealed to man's will in the matter of salvation.

Be Thankful Colossians 3:15 Unless we are thankful we cannot give thanks or overflow with or abound in thanksgiving. Being thankful is the basic requirement for thanksgiving. If we are not thankful, even saying 'thank you' will be painful if not impossible. Being thankful is the spring from which the streams of thanksgiving overflow.

Spiritually minded, soul-winning Christians are found On both sides of this issue. The fireworks begin when someone insists on pushing his own view when it is not welcome, or when he harps on one subject as if it were the only doctrine in the Bible. When silenced, he leaves the assembly and influences others to leave with him.

As we meditate on the goodness, greatness and the mercies of God that our hearts begin to overflow with thanksgiving. As we meditate on the word of God, the Spirit of God fills the dry river bed of our hearts with cooling and soothing water of thanksgiving, like the ever deepening river of Ezekiel's vision (Ez. 47:1-5).

The path of wisdom is to enjoy privately one's convictions on the subject, but not to force them as if they represented the whole truth.

Combine Prayer and Vigilance with Thanksgiving Colossians 4:2 Of course, it could go with 'Make your requests known to God with Thanksgiving'. But I have put them separately to separate Philippians from Colossians and to bring Philippians first, then the Colossians, as they appear in the Scripture.

On all these subjects that are important though not fundamental, an assembly, under its leaders, should adopt a clearly stated position. This should be done after careful study and research, after much prayer, and with a sincere desire to adhere as closely as possible to the Scriptures. Since each assembly is autonomous, that is, responsible to the Lord alone, no other church or outside individual can dictate policy with regard to these important doctrines.

Yes, we should be steadfast in prayer. In other words, we should be constant in prayer (Rom. 12:12). If we are lax in maintaining prayer and prayer time, we will find that our prayer life is dwindling and evaporating. It will become dull, dry and finally dead. It will be a hard chore and a burden to be borne. The same is true of vigilance. We should be vigilant all the time. We do not know when and from where the enemy of our soul will attack. Watch and pray is the Scriptural injunction (Matt. 26:41). It's not just watch but pray also. It's not just pray but watch also. And both the watching and the praying must be combined with thanksgiving, or they will become drudgery.

If an assembly adopts a position that is not Scriptural, it is conceivable that some believers will want to withdraw. If so, they should do so graciously and without seeking to draw others away with them. We should have a spirit of love toward those who disagree with us. Some Christians are poorly taught and simply do not know any better. And we should always remember that if we could see ourselves in the light of God's perfection, we would realize that wisdom will not die with us. All should walk humbly before the Lord.

May God enable us to be grateful and thankful, and give thanks to him all the time, always and in everything! Harvest Times for Your Family

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Harvest Times for your family  

January 2013 issue

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