Sunday, February 28, 2010


Irish novelist and playwright Samuel Beckett received great recognition for his work--but not every one savored his accomplishments. Beckett's marriage, in fact, was soured by his wife's jealousy of his growing fame and success as a writer. One day in 1969 his wife Suzanne answered the telephone, listened for a moment, spoke briefly, and hung up. She then turned to Beckett and with a stricken look whispered, "What a catastrophe!" Was it a devastating personal tragedy? No, she had just learned that Beckett had been awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature! Why couldn’t she rejoice with her husband’s success? Is this reaction common?

Haven’t we all felt jealousy of some sort with someone or the other? Why can’t we truly rejoice when others succeed? Why does it hurt when you don’t get what you want? Is jealousy only a modern day phenomena? Is there any connection between jealousy and anger? Who can stand before jealousy? Paul addressed the issue of jealousy and anger in the Corinthian Church and offered some practical suggestions on how to overcome them? Are our lives and our Church any different than the Corinthian Church?

Paul wrote this letter to the Corinthians probably in the winter of A.D 55. Located on the Mediterranean, the city of Corinth was a wealthy trading center. It was also a wicked city and was known for that throughout the Roman world. The Church in Corinth was fairly new and it was hard for the Christians there not to act like their neighbors. In response to a complaint received from one of the House holds in Corinthian Church Paul wrote this letter to address several problems.

Why do we have to learn about today what happened around A.D 55? In this letter to Corinthians Paul reminded them of the history of Israelites which happened over 4000 years ago so that they could learn valuable lessons from the past and avoid pitfalls. In the same we too can learn from the Church in Corinth. The typical problems that occurred in Corinth were not only limited to the Church of that time alone we could find them in any church today. What are those problems? 1 Corinthians 3:3 “for you are still fleshly. For since there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not fleshly, and are you not walking like mere men”? (NASB). In NIV it says “Jealousy and Quarrelling. These two crucial issues are detrimental for right relationships.

Let’s admit that we all have struggled with jealousy and anger to a certain degree; right? How about the saints do they struggle? According to Paul even Christians are not immune to this struggle. Proverbs 27:4 poses a challenge, “Wrath is fierce and anger is a flood, But who can stand before jealousy?

What is jealousy anyway? Both envy and jealousy are synonyms however according to Dr. Gary Collins there is a distinction between these two. “To envy is to want something which belongs to another person.” In contrast, jealousy is the fear that something which we possess will be taken away by another person.” The Dictionary definition of Envy is, selfish and unfriendly grudging of what another enjoys, in a mild sense longing for a good possessed by another. Jealousy on the other hand is afraid of being displaced by a rival in affection or favor. In other words envy is coveting what others have and jealousy is being afraid of what you might loose to another person who is better than you. It could be your job, spouse, children, opportunity to excel, power, control etc.
John MacArthur, notes, “There are basically two kinds of jealousy. One is superficial and the other is deep down bedrock, rotten, stinking, jealousy. Shakespeare called jealousy "The green sickness." And Solomon called it "rottenness of the bones." Pro 14:30 “A tranquil mind gives life to the body, but jealousy rots the bones. And someone else chose to call it "The sorrow of fools. A superficial jealousy says: "I want what you have." or "Oh, I wish I had that." But that's not the deepest level. The deepest says: "I wish he didn't have it."

Two shopkeepers were bitter rivals. Their stores were directly across the street from each other, and they would spend each day keeping track of each other's business. If one got a customer, he would smile in triumph at his rival. One night an angel appeared to one of the shopkeepers in a dream and said, "I will give you anything you ask, but whatever you receive, your competitor will receive twice as much. Would you be rich? You can be very rich, but he will be twice as wealthy. Do you wish to live a long and healthy life? You can, but his life will be longer and healthier. What is your desire?" The man frowned, thought for a moment, and then said, "Here is my request: Strike me blind in one eye!"

One sign of jealousy is when it's easier to show sympathy and "weep with those who weep" than it is to exhibit joy and "rejoice with those who rejoice." The meaning of Hebrew and Greek words can be translated with “jealous” and “zealous.” Both words imply great emotion one in a good way and other in a bad way. When it is referring to God it is always for our good. God is jealous means that he will not accept a rival. “I am the LORD that is my name! I will not give my glory to another or my praise to idols” (Isaiah 42:8). To be zealous means to be passionate about something, to be eager in pursuing your goals.

God is both jealous and zealous. In a bad sense it is used to explain man’s jealousy, envy, factions, party strife etc. Where did jealousy first appear? How is it linked with anger? Paul was concerned about the spiritual condition of the Corinthian Church. He addressed them as worldly because there was jealousy among them. Why is it so important that we must take note of jealousy? Jealousy is one of the deadly sins. Nothing can more thoroughly embitter the human spirit and poison personal relationships than the spirit of envy or a jealously. As one thing can lead to another, jealousy could open the door for many other sins.

Some commentators say that jealousy was the direct cause of the first crime in the story of the human race. In the Garden of Eden Satan tempted the first lady of the earth Eve saying “you will be like God.” Satan planted a seed of jealousy in the mind of Eve; she wanted to be like God. Eve sinned and the human race fell. The next sin was murder. Cain killed Able for what? He was jealous because his brother’s offering was accepted over his. The young Hebrew dreamer boy was sold as a slave by his brothers for what? Again for what? Jealousy! Not only among brothers but jealousy was also among two sisters Leah and Rachel; Genesis 30:1 “Now when Rachel saw that she bore Jacob no children, she became jealous of her sister.” This was all happening in Genesis only; and the list can get pretty lengthy here.

Were Kings spared from jealousy? No! Saul the mighty King who won many mighty battles for Israel was not exempt from jealousy. On one occasion where David was returning after killing the Philistine the women came out into streets singing and dancing; they sang” Saul has slain his thousands. And David his ten thousands” Upon hearing Saul became furious wanted to Kill David. From that day on Saul was jealous of David. (I Samuel 18:9)

Is there any connection between jealousy and anger or they both are separate? In my study of the scriptures I found that in a number of passages jealousy is mentioned next to anger. Let’s look at few of them:
Proverbs 6:34 “For jealousy enrages a man, And he will not spare in the day of vengeance.”

2 Corinthians 12:20 “For I am afraid that perhaps when I come I may find you to be not what I wish and may be found by you to be not what you wish; that perhaps there may be strife, jealousy, angry tempers, disputes, slanders, gossip, arrogance, disturbances;”

Galatians 5:20 idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions,

Romans 13:13 “Let us behave properly as in the day, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual promiscuity and sensuality, not in strife and jealousy.”

Is it a coincidence that the biblical authors clubbed jealousy and anger together or is there a real connection between these two? There has been a lot of study done in this area to establish the link between jealousy and anger.

In a Journal of Family Violence they identified the cause between alcohol use and Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) “Two risk factors, anger control and jealousy, were hypothesized to moderate the relationship between IPV and problem drinking in a sample of 453 community couples.” Another report says; “jealousy presents an intractable problem for relationships, both monogamous and non-monogamous. It is often a point of strife within relationships. It is also a frequent cause for breakups. It provides a convenient excuse for abusive partners. There is a persistent association of jealousy with violence.”

An advice of a counselor to a young wife who was having trouble in her marriage because of her husband’s past. This woman felt unhappy, Jealous and angry and often thought of killing herself; but now seeking help to save her marriage. Listen to the advice; “Jealousy is bad for any relationship. It is unpleasant, anxiety and anger producing and at times, embarrassing. If you continue to let the jealousy and anger fester it has the potential to seriously damage your marriage.”

The more I study both the Biblical text and what secular counselors have to say I am convinced that there is a direct correlation between jealousy and anger. I also believe that un dealt jealousy and uncontrolled tempers can ruin marriages, families and other relationships. No wonder why God has strictly warned us against jealousy saying “you shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or servant, his ox or donkey or anything that belongs to your neighbor.” (Exodus 20:17)

Are you quick to become angry? An eastern proverb says; “Your anger is your own enemy” The Bible doesn’t mince words when it comes to addressing this problem. There are over 266 scriptures related to anger and most of them related to God being angry. Here are a few scriptures related to man’s anger.
2 Corinthians 12:20 For I am afraid that perhaps when I come I may find you to be not what I wish and may be found by you to be not what you wish; that perhaps there may be strife, jealousy, angry tempers, disputes, slanders, gossip, arrogance, disturbances.” Why was Paul afraid of jealousy and anger? Because he knew what damage it could do to relationships.

Psalm 37:8 “Cease from anger, and forsake wrath; Do not fret, it leads only to evildoing.”
Proverbs 19:19 “A hot-tempered man must pay the penalty”
Proverbs 30:33 “For the churning of milk produces butter…So the churning of anger produces strife.”
James 1:20 “for man's anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.”
James 1:19 “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry,
We understand that anger is an emotion. Anger in itself is not bad but how we channel our anger can be detrimental to both us personally and others on whom it is projected. The Bible doesn’t say we should not be angry but we should be slow to become angry and when we do become angry we don’t sin. Ephesians 4:26 “Be angry, and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger.”

As we conclude; we could compromise and say we all are human therefore we all struggle with jealousy. The question is: Is jealousy a friend of ours that we are comfortable to live with? How long can we tolerate and entertain jealousy? By the worlds standards jealousy is normal and acceptable. Paul called the Corinthians worldly because there was jealousy and strive among them. He pointed them to a higher way of living and relating.

Let’s not forget that the Lord is not done with us, he dearly loves us and is committed to removing impurities from our lives in order to transform us into the likeness of His Son Jesus Christ. When we come to him with our struggles, by no means will he turn us away. When Christ sets us free we will be free indeed. Amen

Sunday, February 21, 2010


Frank Lloyd Wright was an American architect, interior designer. Wright was recognized in 1991 by the American Institute of Architects as "the greatest American architect of all time". He was given the challenge of building the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo in 1923 one of the most earthquake-prone cities in the world. Wright's investigation showed that a solid foundation could be "floated" on a sixty-foot layer of soft mud underlying the hotel, which would provide a shock-absorbing but solid support for the immense building. Shortly after the hotel was completed it withstood the worst earthquake in fifty-two years, while lesser buildings fell in ruins around it.

A few years ago scientists noticed that the 810 year old The Leaning Tower of Pisa in Italy is going to fall. Although intended to stand vertically, the tower began to sink after construction had progressed to the third floor in 1178. This was due to a mere three-meter foundation, (10 feet) set in weak, unstable subsoil, a design that was flawed from the beginning.

What is the major difference between these two structures? One withstood the worst earth quake in 52 years and other one began to sink five years after the start of construction? The difference is the foundation. One went sixty feet below and the other was only ten feet below. The church of Jesus Christ has been surviving for the past 2000 years. Why has it survived so long? What is the Church’s one foundation? Paul wrote to the believers in Corinth reminding them of the futility and the dangers of building their lives on faulty foundations such as the standards of this world. Instead they should build their lives on the Church’s one foundation.

Paul wrote this letter to the Corinthians probably in the winter of A.D 55. Located on the Mediterranean, the city of Corinth was a wealthy trading center. It was also a wicked city and was known for that throughout the Roman world. The Church in Corinth was fairly new and it was hard for the Christians there not to act like their neighbors. What prompted Paul to write this letter? The Christians in Corinth were not getting along with one another- they were taking sides. Some of them were living very sinful lives. What was the purpose of this letter? It was written to scold the believers, to teach them how Christians should act and to encourage them to build their lives upon the one sure foundation of the Church; Jesus Christ.

The typical problems that occurred in Corinth were not only limited to that Church. Certain incidents in history grimly remind us that the Church did not always represent Christ rightly in the society. Instead of being an example of love, acceptance and forgiveness at times it became an agent of hatred, separation and violence. For example the Crusades; in the name of liberating Jerusalem; jealous Christians massacred many Muslims and Jews. We are still reaping those consequences. No wonder why today there is such hostility projected by non Christians towards the Church and her sure foundation Christ.

Paul was truly concerned about the state of affairs in the Church of Corinth and he wrote a loving but firm letter to the Corinthian Church. I wonder what would Paul say if he came to our Church today? How different are we from the Church at Corinth? In the beginning of the letter he addressed the Church saying; 1 Corinthians 1:2 “To the church of God in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be holy, together with all those everywhere who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ-- their Lord and ours.”

The true picture of any Church is that it is a gathering of believers sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to live out Holy lives in unity in the world. In other words the Church should be different than the rest of the world. After establishing their true position he addressed some real problems. In fact he was responding to some what of a complaint received from one of the households of that Church. What were the problems that Paul was addressing?

I. GROWING UP IN CHRIST: I Corinthians 3:1-2
1 Corinthians 3:1-2 “Brothers, I could not address you as spiritual but as worldly-- mere infants in Christ. I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready.” These words of Paul must have irked the believers in the Church; nonetheless they explain the exact spiritual condition. As if Paul was saying to them Come on! Stop behaving like kids it’s time you grow up!

Paul could not address them as spiritual but as worldly. That was a heavy statement. What was going on in that Church that made Paul to call them worldly? The Greek word literally means fleshy, belonging to the realm of the flesh, weak, sinful. Often times the word “flesh” represents the old sinful nature. What is the sinful nature?

Paul makes it very clear elsewhere what exactly the acts of the sinful nature are. Galatians 5:19-21 “The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; some of you may think well that’s not me, I’m not involved in such gross things. But wait a minute you are not of the hook yet the list goes on…. hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.”

In Galatians 5: 17-18, “For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature.” In other words; the sinful nature and the Spirit can not go together. How about us today are we compromising with sin? Are we being led by our sinful nature instead of being led by the Holy Spirit? According to Paul if we act immature we are like infants in Christ, then we are not ready for solid spiritual teaching of God’s truth. Sadly speaking some of us never get passed that spiritual infant stage. We may be Christians for years; attend Church regularly; serve faithfully yet lack spiritual maturity and at times behave like infants in Christ. Instead of solving problems in Christ’s way we employ worldly methods.

What are some of the ways of the world? We operate just like the world does when instead of being loving and forgiving we become hateful and revengeful. Instead of serving God’s purposes we serve our own purposes. Instead of shining like stars in a depraved generation, we let the world come into our lives and into Church. Timothy Keller pastor of Redeemer’s Church in New York explains how far the Church has moved from being Christ like; “Church communities seem, if anything, to be characterized by more fighting and party spirit than do other voluntary organizations. Church officials seem to be at least (if not more) corrupt than leaders in the world at large. At the same time there are many non Christian people who live morally exemplary lives. If Christianity is all it claims to be, wouldn’t Christians on the whole be much better people than everyone else?

When I read people like Keller, see our Church and some name sake Christians in the light of God’s word, I can not help but think that we all have some growing up to do in Christ.

One of the major problems Corinthian Church facing was division. There were seemingly four groups in the Church. One group was following Paul another one Apollos, another Peter and still another one was following Christ. Who was Apollos? He was a learned Jew the native of Alexandria who became a helper of Paul in his church planting efforts. (Acts 18, 19). Paul wanted the whole church to be one and only follow Jesus. But to his dismay each one was following their favorite leaders teaching. Hence they were divided in their thought and action. Paul appeals to them to agree with one another so there may be no divisions among them.

Disunity in the Church is perhaps one of the biggest hindrances for the furtherance of the gospel in the world. Disunity is a disgrace in the church; it brings shame, diminishes the power of the cross. Where as unity releases blessings Psalm 133:1-3 “How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity! …For there the LORD bestows his blessing, even life forevermore.”

When we are united we can do any thing. God said of the people who came to build a tower for themselves after the flood, “Genesis 11:6 “The LORD said, "If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them.” Someone said “Snowflakes are one of nature's most fragile things, but just look at what they can do when they stick together.” Truly there is power in unity.

Why else unity is important? Unity is important because it is a sure key for evangelism. In John 17:20-21 "I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me” You and I and all the believers were included in that prayer; that we might live in unity.

Jealously and quarreling were among many other problems that Paul was addressing in the Corinthian Church. Are we entirely free of jealousy and quarreling in our church? Are we jealous when others are given prominence? Instead of rejoicing with other’s success do we envy and become contemptuous? Do we like power and seek to control? Do we quarrel? As parents at times we have to tell our children stop quarrelling otherwise they can truly harm each other if not physically certainly emotionally. Paul like a father was telling the Corinthians to stop quarrelling, why? In Galatians 5:15 we read “If you keep on biting and devouring each other, watch out or your will be destroyed by each other.” By the way what is a quarrel? Definition: An un-friendly, angry, or violent dispute. A falling out or contention; what happens when we quarrel? More than often relationships and friendships are broken and relationships are ruined.

Proverbs 17:14 “Starting a quarrel is like breaching a dam; so drop the matter before a dispute breaks out.”
Proverbs 17:19 “He who loves a quarrel loves sin; he who builds a high gate invites destruction.”
Proverbs 20:3 “It is to a man's honor to avoid strife, but every fool is quick to quarrel.
What adds fuel to a quarrel? Proverbs 26:20 “Without wood a fire goes out; without gossip a quarrel dies down.”
James 4:1-2 “What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don't they come from your desires that battle within you? You want something but don't get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight.”

After hearing this message you might be saying to yourself this is real heavy stuff! Well it is; you may not like to hear this but I need to bring this to our notice because of its devastating effects on people. We Christians belong to the light; people are watching us therefore we can not afford to act like those who do not know Christ. For those in ministry of any kind even higher standards apply. 2 Timothy 2:23-24 “Don't have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. And the Lord's servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful.”

Right relationships are so key for effective and fruitful ministry. How can we say that we love God and at the same time hate our brother or sister in Christ? The Bible says, “Anyone who does not love remains in death. Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life in him.” I John 3:15

Those who deal with domestic violence would know what causes domestic violence. “Domestic violence may start when one partner feels the need to control and dominate the other. Abusers may feel this need to control their partner because of low self-esteem, extreme jealousy, difficulties in regulating anger and other strong emotions” No wonder God warns us against Jealousy. Proverbs 6:34 “For jealousy makes a man furious, and he will not spare when he takes revenge.”

Are we building our lives on a faulty foundation? Do we have to say sorry and make amends in certain strained relationships? Are there certain sins we need to repent and ask God’s forgiveness? A wise man builds his house upon the rock similarly we want to build our lives upon Christ the rock by obeying his Word. May God help us to build our lives on the one sure foundation Jesus Christ our Lord.

Sunday, February 14, 2010


February 14th is observed in many parts of the world as “Valentines day” We give and receive Valentine’s Day cards and gifts. Watch out what you might get in the mail: A guy walks into a post office one day to see a middle-aged, balding man standing at the counter methodically placing "Love" stamps on bright pink envelopes with hearts all over them. He then takes out a perfume bottle and starts spraying scent all over them. His curiosity getting the better of him, he goes up to the balding man and asks him what he is doing. The man says, "I'm sending out one thousand Valentine cards signed, 'Guess who?' "But why?" asks the man. "I'm a divorce lawyer," the man replies. Some cards may be not as bad as these. Some children’s Valentine’s Day cards seem to communicate the crying need for love and friendship.

During the winter, even more so around “Valentines day” many people feel rather lonely and depressed. According to a new study by sociologists at Duke University and the University of Arizona “Americans' circle of close confidants has shrunk dramatically in the past two decades and the number of people who say they have no one with whom to discuss important matters has more than doubled.”
Chuck Swindoll talks about a Kansas newspaper where someone took out a one-line ad that reads, “I will listen to you talk for 30 minutes, without comment, for $5.00.”Swindoll said, “It wasn’t long before the person was receiving 10 to 20 calls a day. The pain of loneliness was so sharp that some were willing to try anything for a half hour of companionship” Mother Theresa once said, “The most terrible poverty is loneliness and the feeling of being unloved.” Everyone needs a friend. Everyone needs to love and be loved. Everyone needs someone to watch over their soul. Right!!

We all need someone who doubles our joy and divides our grief. We all need someone who understands our silence. We all need someone who comes in when the whole world has gone out. Let me introduce to you someone who must have felt lonely, depressed, and abandoned. At age five he lost all his family in a war, while being hurried to safety by a nurse he fell down and was left paralyzed. He lived in obscurity and isolation in his servant’s house. He had all the reasons to consider his situation was hopeless. But one day he was blown away by an unexpected invitation from one of the most powerful Kings of all time which changed his life forever.

This story is found in 2 Samuel 9th Chapter. Let me break it for you. King Saul and his son Jonathan both were killed in a fierce battle. In the course of time David defeated the Philistines and eventually was confirmed as King over Israel. Soon after that he remembered the promise he made to his best friend Jonathan. Remember the amazing friendship between these two? A great example of a deep, healthy male friendship. He wanted to find out if there was any one who survived from the household of Saul to whom he might show kindness for the sake of Jonathan. Through a servant by name Ziba he found out that there was still a son of Jonathan. His name was Mephibosheth. The king sent an invitation to Mephibosheth who was crippled in both feet.

It is not every day that one gets to be invited by the president of the United States. It’s a once in a life time opportunity. It is not that easy to get the invitation in the first place. Let’s say out of the blue you get an invitation from the President to come for a dinner party. How would you respond? When you finally get to see the president what would you say to him?

Mephibosheth represents an unworthy and undeserving person like you and me. In Biblical times, persons with disabilities were often overlooked and had to struggle to be recognized and valued as human beings. Certainly that was true of Jonathan’s crippled son, Mephibosheth. He considered himself to be no better than the scum of the earth.

We may not be crippled physically like him but we may be crippled nonetheless spiritually, emotionally and in some cases physically. We reap the consequences of sin as a result we carry the wounds and the pain caused by sin. We often do not like the way we see ourselves and certainly we can not carry a high opinion of ourselves either. We could even get angry at God for our situation. We see our weakness as a reason for God not to love us. But that is the very thing that qualifies you and me to get a royal invitation.

David’s invitation to Mephibosheth has a parallel to God’s invitation. When God wanted to restore the nation of Israel he sent an invitation through Jeremiah saying, Jeremiah 30:21, “I will bring him near and he will come close to me, for who is he who will devote himself to be close to me declares the Lord.” Another version reads “I will invite him to approach me," says the LORD, "for who would dare to come unless invited”? Jesus gave a similar invitation to a hurting world. Matthew 11:28 "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” The invitation is open for all.

Whether we like it or not there is a certain aura that surrounds earthly Kings, Prime ministers and the Presidents of nations. We may fumble, mumble and be awkward in their presence. Jack Hayford, pastor of the Church on the Way in Van Nuys California was touring Great Britain in1977 and had a chance to watch the royal procession on the day of the silver Jubilee anniversary of Queen Elizabeth’s coronation.

The procession drove the royals down The Mall to Buckingham Palace, where an estimated one million people lined the pavements to see the family wave to onlookers. A further 500 million people around the Commonwealth watched on live television. There were parties and celebrations in the honor of the Queen and their country’s rich history. ” Seeing all the glitter and the glamour surrounding a mortal queen Jack Hayford imagined how awesome it would be to see the King of Kings in his absolute splendor and glory, this led him to write down one of the all time favorites in recent Christian history “Majesty, Worship His Majesty”.

Rightly so, when Mephibosheth entered the presence of King David, he bowed down to pay him honor. Can you imagine how frightening it must have been to poor Mephibosheth who was crippled in both feet, lived in isolation and all of a sudden find himself in the presence of a mighty King? He must have been visibly shaken by looking at the royal palace and the imposing presence of the King. He must have wondered whether this was pay back time by David for all the harsh treatment he received from the house of Saul.

If earthly Kings and rules command such authority and honor how much more should we tremble in the presence of the almighty and awesome God? Do we have any clue of how majestic our God is.? The following scriptures describe the splendor, the glory and the majesty of our God. He is truly indescribable.
“1 Chronicles 29:11 Yours, O LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor, for everything in heaven and earth is yours. Yours, O LORD, is the kingdom; you are exalted as head over all.”

Psalm 93:1 The LORD reigns, he is robed in majesty; the LORD is robed in majesty and is armed with strength. The world is firmly established; it cannot be moved.

Psalm 72:11 “All kings will bow down to him and all nations will serve him.”
Psalm 22:27 “All the ends of the earth will remember and turn to the LORD, and all the families of the nations will bow down before him.”David being a mighty King himself confessed that God is the great King above all

Psalm 95:3-6 “For the LORD is the great God, the great King above all gods. In his hand are the depths of the earth, and the mountain peaks belong to him. The sea is his, for he made it, and his hands formed the dry land.”

When we could have a glimpse of the splendor and the majesty of God how could we not tremble in his presence? Yet there are so many these days who take God for granted and some behave like “little gods in France” And others instead of trembling before God they are angry at God and even curse God. There is a challenge to such people through the prophet Jeremiah 5:22 “Should you not fear me?" declares the LORD. "Should you not tremble in my presence? I made the sand a boundary for the sea, an everlasting barrier it cannot cross. The waves may roll, but they cannot prevail; they may roar, but they cannot cross it.” One day whether you like it or not we all will have to stand in the presence of that Glorious God.

2 Samuel 9 Vs 6, “When Mephibosheth first came to David he bowed down to pay him honor, David said, “Mephibosheth!” “Your servant” he replied. Mephibosheth is showing us a position that prophets, priests and even kings have taken in the presence of God. It is a position of humility, giving honor and submission. David affirmed and assured frightened Mephibosheth saying “Don’t be afraid” It is assuring to know that whenever God approaches a man or a man approaches God the first thing we hear from God is “Fear Not” With these two words God can put all our fears to rest.

One of Wilma’s and my favorite scenes in the famous children story of the Chronicles of Narnia is the allegorical conversation between the beavers and the children: The book has more details than the movie. The children ask: who is Aslan? Well, Aslan is the King and the Lord of the whole wood, Narnia, but he isn’t always there. But the word is, Aslan is back, or at least on his way back. And he would fix the situation in Narnia.

There’s an old saying, "Wrong will be right, when Aslan comes in sight,
At the sound of his roar, sorrows will be no more,
When he bares his teeth, winter meets its death,
And when he shakes his mane, we shall have spring again."
You see, Aslan is not just a lion, but he’s a great Lion. He’s the King of the Beasts, and the real ruler of Narnia. Now, Susan asks the beavers, "Is he safe?"
Mrs. Beaver says, "If there’s anyone who can appear before Aslan without their knees knocking, they’re either braver than most or else just silly."
Lucy asks, "Then he isn’t safe?"
And Mr. Beaver says this famous line about Aslan: "Of course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you."

The Witch, whose favorite tactic is turning people and creatures to stone, can’t do that to Aslan. This is the King certainly not safe, but most certainly good. And when he arrives, he will dispel the winter and bring in the spring and break the Witch’s curse and bring new life.”
Aslan in the movie represents the Lion of Judah that is Jesus who broke the curse of fallen humanity, in a world of always winter and never Christmas. How about you, has your heart been turned to stone by pain and suffering? Does life feel like an endless winter? Be assured before long there will be spring time and you will find life again. Mehpibosheth received a royal invitation; he was blown away by the royal presence after that he received royal treatment.

2 Samuel 9:7 “Don't be afraid," David said to him, "for I will surely show you kindness for the sake of your father Jonathan. I will restore to you all the land that belonged to your grandfather Saul, and you will always eat at my table.” Before his encounter with David, Mephibosheth’s self-worth was at an all time low. He considered himself not worth more than a dead dog. But when he met David his life took a new turn. David not only restored his lost dignity and self-worth, but also gave him an identity by bringing him back to the royal family. His live took a new turn. He moved to Jerusalem and ate from the table of the king for the rest of his life.

What a powerful presentation of the gospel in this story. We see here how God reaches out to hurting, broken, wretched and lost people like us. For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” If you feel like Mephibosheth today, thinking that your situation is beyond redemption, there is hope for you. All you need to do is to respond to the royal invitation and come into the royal presence of God and he will provide a table for you. He can heal and restore what the enemy has stolen from you, He can give you a new identity so you can walk once again as His sons and daughters.

Jude 1:24-25 “To him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy-- 25 to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen.

Sunday, February 7, 2010



Once upon a time, there was a rescue station on a far away shore, intended to save lives from ships that had been broken up on its rocky shoreline. Those who served in the station had time on their hands between emergencies, so they built a recreation room with pool tables, bowling lanes, a hot tub, and a sound system with couches and recliners. As a matter of fact, their quarters became so enjoyable, that soon those they had needed to save became a nuisance, upsetting their society.

Over time they had virtually given up their initial purpose and had become a club for recreation. However many were incensed at the departure from their roots and purpose. They split off and moved down the coast to begin a new rescue station committed to the original charter. Soon however, the new station also sought diversions and became distracted from its purpose and it too split.

Its original charter however, was kept mounted on a table with a model of a ship beside it illuminated by soft lighting to remind all of its historic, noble beginnings. Still the new work had the same struggles, the same temptations, the same distractions, and the same splits. Gradually, a shot of buildings rimmed the coast as a testament to a once gallant effort. Each station had its old documents and relics mounted in soft lighting to remind them of what they once were. And the clubs continued as did the shipwrecks… and men perished.
(Taken from "Think Missional becoming the people God intended; Les Welk)

This story depicts the sobering picture of many Churches who have started of with a great vision and passion to save lives in time wholly became clubs for personal interest, with members unconcerned for people perishing all around them. What a sad reality of lost vision and purpose. It could be said of individual Christians too because Church is people not a building.
Some churches merely exist for the sake of existing, without any mission. These churches have grown inward instead of aiming outward. I hope this does not reflect our Church. If it does then we have some serious thinking and a job to do in order to get our Church AIM OUTWARD
In order to assess where we have been as a Church, with the data provided by Erik Matson our historian let’s look at the history of our Church. Hopefully we can observe certain trends.


This church has been in existence for over 125 years. After the World War II, growing families moved in droves to Quincy to take advantage of the cheap housing and spacious yards. From the 1940s through the 1950s, the church grew to 600 members. Most of the congregation members lived in the neighborhood of Atlantic region in North Quincy. Roughly 200 children attended the Sunday school during the 1950s.
In 1959 it started to decline. The trend continued for years before the council noticed. This decline was largely due to members moving to near by towns such as Plymouth, Pembroke and others in search for cheaper housing to raise their children in the southern suburbs and others relocated as far as Florida. In 1960, as they celebrated its 75th Anniversary, the church membership stood at 496

In 1977, Rev. Arthur R. Curtis joined as Interim Minister and was installed as Pastor on January of 1978. New families arrived and the church experienced a modest growth. But the growth didn’t last. The 1990s began with decline.

In 1994, the Lord’s Planting was founded. On that same year, the financial crisis hanging over the Memorial Congregational Church was set on the path towards recovery. The church grew when several members of the Dorchester Christian Fellowship joined in 1996.

In 2007 this church went through some turbulent times which caused another exodus of people leaving the Church. This trend of growth and decline is normal in the life cycle of any Church. In the life of any church there is a time for growth and at some point it reaches its peak and then plateaus. If it only exists, for the sake of existing it will start to decline; if some radical steps are not taken that church will slowly but surely die.

I wonder what causes a Church that once was passionate and focused on the mission to loose it’s focus and turn inward? What does the church need to do to remain missional? Last week I talked about the term Missional. Mission strategists, church planters and pastors have used this concept to help churches discover their original purpose. A missional life is where “the way of Jesus’ informs and radically transforms our existence to one wholly focused on sacrificially living for him and others and where we adopt a missionary stance in relation to our culture.” Being missional is to participate in the Mission of God which is to participate in what Christ is doing in the world. What is Christ doing around the world?

The factors that contribute to the inward focus of established Churches.
1. The natural drift of organizations is inward.
2. Cultural shifts have outpaced the shifts and changes within the church, resulting in the church becoming increasingly out-of-touch and culturally irrelevant. In other words we should not ignore the changing demographics and cultural trends in the neighborhood.
3. Faulty theological beliefs have been embraced regarding separation from the world and the priesthood of all believers.
4. Over time, Christians have fewer relationships outside the church making it increasingly difficult to connect with people who do not have the same faith in Christ.
5. The church and believers have become essentially consumeristic, concerned more about what they want, than what needs to be done to reach those outside of Christ.
6. Maintaining doctrinal purity becomes a driving factor more than a deep passion for reaching the lost, we become inward focused and missionally ineffective.
(Taken from Think Missional Becoming the people God intended; Les Welk)

In pursuit of a better life for us and for our children we work very hard some times doing two jobs. We are busy and our schedules are over packed, by the end of the day we are exhausted. There is hardly any time left to do any thing for God. The routine continues. There is nothing wrong with work; infact it is the right thing to do. Hard work is commended by God. But in the midst of all that we tend to forget the primary purpose why we were created in the first place and why God has delivered us from sin. Peter reminded the saints that they were to be different than the rest of the world. In other words the pursuits of God’s people must be different than of those who do not know God.

We can draw three principles from I Peter 2:9-12, which can help us as individuals and as a Church to remain on the cutting edge for God and to be missional in our thinking, outlook and our lifestyle.
1 Peter 2:9-12 “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul. Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.”

As born again Christians we can remember how miserably lost we were before we accepted Christ as our Savior. In Ephesians 2:8-9 we read “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith-- and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God-- not by works, so that no one can boast.” We are saved only by His grace not by our works.

Apostel Peter paints the before and the after picture of a Christian so vividly. Before we were saved we were under the influence and the power of Satan and his evil forces. Satan is a hard task master without any mercy. He tempts people through his schemes. Our disobedience and outright rebellion enslaves us to sin and Satan. Before we accepted Christ we were lost and searching for true love and meaning for life; in all the wrong places. But thank God, by his mercy he delivered us from the power of the evil one and transferred us into His wonderful light. Colossians 1:13, reads, “For He delivered us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son” Because of that wonderful transfer you now have a new identity and a new purpose. We are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God. Knowing, believing and acting according to this truth keeps us missional.

Once enlightened by the truth, and having tasted the goodness of God, how can we afford to live like the pagans or heathens who do not know God? Historically both these words "pagan" and "heathen" been used to describe any one who is an unbeliever or who do not follow Judeo Christianity. What is the difference between a true Christian and a non Christian? Why are we to be different? Are there any standards where by we must conduct our lives? Yes!!
God’s word has absolute standards of Holiness. Peter gives two reasons why we must abstain from sinful desires. Firstly we are aliens and strangers in the world; secondly the sinful desires wage war against our soul. Why is it that Christians are expected to maintain higher standards? Why can’t we be just like any body else? 1 Peter 1:14-16 “As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: "Be holy, because I am holy."

The world is watching us. We belong to the light so whatever we do is highly visible. We have a higher calling to be different and to be Holy. For doing so we may be ridiculed and labeled by others nevertheless that is the mark of a true Christian. When we know we are called by God we choose to do His will. What is his will for our lives? According to I Thes 4:3-5 “It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control his own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the heathen, who do not know God.” God’s will is not only that we should be Holy but according to 2 Peter 3:9 “not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” Knowing our calling helps us to be missional.
Both Peter’s letters to the saints are a great reminder for us. Peter was addressing a certain lethargy that was creeping up among the saints of his time. They were losing hope and a sense of purpose because of suffering. They were becoming impatient about the promised return of the Lord. On top of that there were scoffers and mockers who were scoffing at their faith. So Peter writes to remind them of their position, calling and their mission while they wait for the Lord to come back. 1 Peter 2:9 “But you are not like that, for you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, and God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light.” (NLT).
After getting saved what? We have to show others the goodness of God. How are we to show it?

God’s goodness can be seen in a nurse who is kind in spite of the work load. God’s goodness can be seen in the patience of a 1st grade teacher. God’s goodness can be seen in the integrity and honest dealings of an auto mechanic, plumber or carpenter. God’s love and compassion flows when we reach out to people in need beyond the call of duty.
The father heart of God is expressed through the time and attention a parent gives to a child. These and a myriad of other ways we can let our light shine before men, so that they may see our good deeds and praise our father in haven. (Mat 5:16)

Here is an example of some one who let his light shine in the world.
Bob Pierce was a broken man. He cried his way home from seeing firsthand the aftermath of the Korean War. On the way home, Pierce wrote in the flyleaf of his Bible, “Let my heart be broken by the things that break the heart of God.” He founded World Vision in 1950, twenty year latter he founded “Samaritan Purse” World vision operates in more than 90 countries and Samaritan Purse works in more than 100 countries. Bob Pierce was broken because he felt the broken heart of God for the countless of millions who were dying and entering eternity of Christ. One man’s vision gave birth to two organizations and these are currently touching many lives in sharing the goodness of God through their rescue and relief work in Haiti.

We work hard many hours a day. Naturally we get tired by the end of the day. We dread the idea of another “Missions Outreach” I am not here to make us feel guilty. But I want to encourage us to rise up, cease the opportunity and make a difference in our community, school, office, business or work place. You don’t have to spend thousands of dollars to go on missions trips. If only you can see the Mission field is all around you. You can be a missionary right where you are. More and more church leaders are convinced that having more events, run more programs is not necessarily the answer for reaching our communities for Christ. Then what does it take? I believe it takes the Holy Spirit empowering all of us to understand our position in Christ, our calling in life and our mission in this world. With His help we can aim outward. Amen