[ecko_quote source="Matthew 10:39"]He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for My sake shall find it[/ecko_quote]
We have nothing that God needs. Think about that. If I were to give God my riches, I couldn’t make Him richer. He owns everything. If I were to give God my wisdom, I wouldn’t make Him wiser. He is the all-wise God. If I were to give God my power, I couldn’t make God more powerful. He is omnipotent.
God wants only one thing from His children—our hearts. Proverbs 23:26, "My son, give me thine heart, and let thine eyes observe my ways." Isn't that a strange request? God is using the words "Give me.'' Usually, we are the ones who say, "Give me,"' and now the table is turned. That is not the creature saying to the Creator, "Give me,'' but rather the Creator saying to the creature, "Give me.'' The great Benefactor becomes the petitioner. The great Giver becomes the receiver.
The Landlord becomes the tenant. The Provider becomes the beggar. The Satisfied becomes the seeker. The Door seeks entrance. The Living Water thirsts. The Bread of Life is hungry. The Prince of Peace fights to get you. God wants your heart. Not for His benefit but for our prosperity for both spiritual, mental and physical (3 John 1:2).
Why does God want our hearts? There is only one possible reason: He loves us! There is nothing that He needs that we have apart from our love. He simply seeks after our love. That is why He made us. He wanted somebody to love Him and to fellowship with Him voluntarily. It seems so strange that we should not gladly accept this offer when the great omniscient, omnipresent, and omnipotent God wants our hearts.
It is so necessary that the Christian give his heart to God first. To give wealth without giving the heart is an abomination. To pray without giving the heart is a mockery. To sing without giving the heart is a sounding brass and tinkling cymbal. To work without giving the heart is an insult. To teach without giving the heart is ignorance. To preach without giving the heart is hypocrisy. To serve without giving the heart is fraud. To witness without giving the heart is perjury.
God is saying to you today, “Give Me your heart.” How will you respond? He has a right to my heart, and He has a right to your heart, for He gave His heart to us. When He died on the cross, a soldier pierced His side, and the Bible says there came forth blood and water. Doctors tell us that this means the heart had ruptured. He died of a broken heart. He gave you His heart; He wants yours. He says to you today, "Give me thy heart.'' The happy Christian responds in the affirmative.
[Image Source: http://jonah.uec.nz/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/fellow.jpg]
Pastor Jonah Ravinder- United Telugu Church- Auckland, New Zealand; Pastor Jack Hyles
[ecko_quote source="Micah 6:8"]He has shown you, O man, what is good; And what does the Lord require of you; But to do justly, To love mercy, And to walk humbly with your God?[/ecko_quote]
I love Micah 6:8 It is one of the greatest verses in all of the Old Testament. It says, “He hath shown thee, O man, what is good and what doth the Lord require of thee.” Historically, Micah 6:8 has served as one of the most celebrated verses within Scripture. This passage has served as the basis for numerous songs, sermons, and conferences. This text has become the core text deployed by the Church as a rallying cry for justice and advocacy.
Number one, what is good? Number two, what does God want? Do you want to know and hear what is good? The rest of the verse tells you:“He has shown you, O man, what is good; And what does the Lord require of you but to do justly, to love mercy and walk humbly with your God? God says, “Show mercy to people, do right yourself and just walk with Me.”
If you ask people, “What does God want?” some might say, “Well, God wants us to serve Him.” Friend, if all God wanted was service, He could just use the angels. They would do a better job than we—always innocently obeying, always on the job, full of power. God doesn’t want mere service, even though we should serve Him, but that is not why He created us.
Some might answer, “Well, God wants scholars. God wants us to learn all the facts about Him.” No. He wants you to study, but what is the bottom line? God wants to walk with you. Why did He create you? He created you in His image so He could have fellowship with you. You are created for fellowship with Him. ‘To walk humbly with thy God.
Can two walk together unless they be agreed? (Amos 3:3). For walking with God there must be communion, based in love, and resulting in imitation. And that communion must be constant, and run through all the life, like a golden thread through some web.
The message of Micah is still relevant today. Religious rites, no matter how extravagant, can never compensate for a lack of love (1 Corinthians 13:3). External compliance to rules is not as valuable in God’s eyes as a humble heart that simply does what is right. God’s people today will continue to desire justice, mercy, and humbly walk with God.
[Image Source: http://jonah.uec.nz/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/walking-with-God.jpg]
Pastor Jonah Ravinder- United Telugu Church- Auckland, New Zealand; LWFM- Andrian Rogers
[ecko_quote source="2 Timothy 3:16-17"]All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good works[/ecko_quote]
In November of 1991, a freak dust storm caused a massive pileup along Interstate 5 near Coalinga, California. Over a dozen people were killed, and many more were injured as the massive cloud reduced visibility to zero.
By the end of the storm, a three-mile trail of twisted, burning vehicles lay in its wake. It was then that what happened began to make sense. It wasn't just one collision. Rather, over the course of the storm, motorists continued to drive blindly ahead into the disaster.
How many people, like those motorists, drive blindly ahead into spiritual disaster? They go about their days and weeks making decisions like normal, but failing to realise that the road they've put themselves on will ultimately lead them to harm.
So how do we steer clear of being spiritually blindsided? We stop trusting in ourselves and let God's Word lead us. We don't do what "feels right," but what we know is right because we've searched the Scriptures. Because when the things of the world keep us from seeing clearly, you can trust God's Word to bring clarity and conviction!
Trust in the LORD with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight(Proverbs 3:5-6).
Ask God to use His Word to guide the path of your life and bring clarity and conviction where you need it.
[Image Source: http://jonah.uec.nz/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/l.jpg]
Pastor Jonah Ravinder- United Telugu Church- Auckland, New Zealand
[ecko_quote source="Luke 18:8"]“Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall He find faith on the earth?”[/ecko_quote]
Our faith in Jesus has been tested so greatly in this 21st century than any other century. People are much focused on what they see, hear and perceive than looking at and putting the trust in the Lord (Hebrew 12:2) They are fully convinced in what they could see are true and based their decisions on this. I believe with all my heart that the call needs to go out today more clearly than ever before for Christians to keep the faith.
William Booth, the founder of the Salvation Army, said, “The chief danger of this century will be religion without the Holy Ghost, Christianity without Christ, forgiveness without repentance, salvation without regeneration, politics without God, and Heaven without Hell.” We are but one generation away from paganism. If this generation doesn’t keep the faith and pass it to the next, there will be no faith.
In the Old Testament, Moses sent out 12 spies to spy out the land of Canaan to see what the land is like, whether the people who dwell in it are strong or weak, few or many. They departed and came back to Moses and Aaron and all the congregation of the children of Israel in the wilderness. They told that it truly flows with milk and honey and people who dwell in the land are strong. There we saw the giants, and we were like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight. So, all the congregation lifted up their voices and cried, and the people wept that night.
Now the question comes into our mind whether the above report was true or false. There was no doubt what they reported back on what they saw and perceived. However, Joshua and Caleb saw it not only what other ten spies saw and understood but also, they could see clearly with the power of God’s hand they could nullify the effect of what their physical senses (five senses) perceived and possess the land at once. Therefore, the Bible says the ten spies report as “evil report/ bad report”( Numbers 11:32). Their report may be true in physical senses, but that report was not “ULTIMATE TRUTH”. Joshua and Caleb said to the congregation that (without denying the fact) “do not rebel against the Lord nor fear the people of the land, for they are our bread, their protection has departed from them, and the Lord is with us. Do not fear them” (Numbers 14:9).
We need to be like Joshua and Caleb denying what our physical senses observe, and live in a spiritual realm where our faith would take control of it…..because we walk by faith, not by sight (2 Cor 5:7). Always bring our Heavenly Father into the equation then only we could receive impossible things; because our Heavenly Father is a specialist in impossible things.
Are you passing the faith to the next generation? Here is your commission from the Lord: “Therefore you shall lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul, and bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall teach them to your children, speaking of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. And you shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates” Deuteronomy 11:18-20
[Image Source: http://jonah.uec.nz/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/spies.png]
Pastor Jonah Ravinder- United Telugu Church- Auckland, New Zealand
[ecko_quote source=" Luke 18:8"]“ Nevertheless, when the Son of Man (Jesus) comes, will He really find faith on the earth? ”[/ecko_quote]
Wish you a Happy and blessed New Year in Jesus to all my brothers and sisters. Welcome back from your long enjoyable holiday break. I was really busy in God's business during this holiday season and I will update you my forthcoming programmes and activities shortly. However, please accept my sincere apologies for not attending the matters related to our daily devotions. I will try to post as many devotions as possible during the week.
While we continue our pilgrim's journey towards our Lord, it is paramount to encourage each other through our faith in Jesus. In this incredible journey, all we need is "FAITH". Because only through faith and patience we inherit what has been promised to us(Hebrew 6:12)
Coming to our today’s reading Jesus after concluding the parable he put a question to the people that when He returns will He really find faith on the earth. He did not give an answer to this question and also a couple of other questions too in the Bible (Matthew 16:26). It is evident from the question that when He comes, He is certainly looking for faith, not our possessions, buildings, bank balances, popularity or even our education. During Jesus earthly ministry, He always used stories, illustrations and asking questions when He spoke to the crowds. In fact, He never spoke to them without using parables. His teachings are simple yet profound. Most learned men found difficult to understand His saying. However, uneducated people were able to appreciate what He had to say. The reason appears to be simple; the uneducated people received Jesus sayings with childlike faith. Others applied their human reasoning. Their heads refused to accept the simple engrafted Word.
The increase in knowledge and advancement of technology produced a negative effect in receiving the Word of God. The world says “seeing is believing and believing is seeing”. In contrast, the Bible states, “see not to understand that you may believe but believe that you may understand”. Further, "to have mountain moving faith, submission to God’s Word must be a lifestyle".
Have you ever wondered why some people have so much faith, others have weak faith and some have no faith at all? Is God unfair? God is no respecter of persons (2 Chronicles 19:7). He has given to every man a measure of faith (Romans 12:3). And so, what is faith? Let me first say what it is not.
Faith is not positive thinking or optimism. It is not a feeling that you can do something. It is not a hunch or looking on the sunny side of the street.
Faith is getting a word from God and acting on it. Acting on the Word of God is what we call faith. You see, you can get a Word from God and believe that Word. That is belief. We believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that and they tremble in fear. The demons believe, but they are reluctant to act upon it. My dear ones when you act upon it (on what you believe), that is faith. Faith is belief with legs. Sadly, so many of us are in 'belief' realm and are reluctant to act upon it. Consequently, we could see so many unanswered prayers and people falling from their Christian journey.
God will give you a word as you are waiting on Him, but then you should go out there and act on it. If Peter had not gone out of the boat and walked on water, Jesus could never have helped him. Peter had to physically get out of the boat and actually walk towards Jesus. Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.”
Today is the day that you put your foot of faith upon the promises of God and say, “That promise is mine!”. Faith is a doing word
[Image Source: http://kingofwallpapers.com/believe/believe-017.jpg]
Pastor Jonah Ravinder- United Telugu Church
[ecko_quote source=" Luke 1:45"]“ Blessed is she who believed, for there will be a fulfilment of those things which were told her from the Lord”[/ecko_quote]
In the kingdom of God, believing is a prerequisite to receiving. God spoke to Mary and gave the assurance He always gives when He assigns the impossible to His people. Everything was in place for God to act. Everything waited on Mary to believe Him. Once she believed, it was done! It takes an undivided heart to believe under such circumstances and a pure heart to see God (Matthew 5:8; Hebrew 12:14)
This has always been God’s way with His people. Mary could not see all that had been arranged and assembled in the courts of heaven. She could not see the legion of angels prepared to protect her and her baby. She was unaware of the future and all that she and her child would face. All she knew was that God had spoken to her, and that was enough. So she responded: “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word” (Luke 1:38)
When God speaks about His plans, He does so with everything already in place to fulfil His word. God never speaks hypothetically. He knows exactly what will come to pass. He simply asks you to believe Him. You will experience great blessings when you place your absolute trust in Him. Mary could not have dreamed all that would result from her faithful obedience. Likewise, you cannot possibly imagine all that God has in store for you when you trust Him. He knows exactly what He will do to bring salvation to someone you have prayed for or to heal your friend or to provide for your needs. God has everything in place. Will you believe Him?
God still does the impossible! Too often we acknowledge our belief that God can do whatever He wants: then we add a safety clause: “ But I just don’t think God will do that with me!” We become practically atheists, believing that God can perform miracles but never expecting a miracle in our own lives.
Mary not only believed God could perform a miracle but also adjusted her life to the awesome work He planned to do through her. The difference between a Christian and a moral person is the divine. The difference between a Church and a social club is the miraculous. Some can duplicate the morality of a Christian, but no one can reproduce the miraculous that should be a part of the Christian experience. Do you believe that nothing is impossible for God?
[Image Source: http://kingofwallpapers.com/believe/believe-017.jpg]
Pastor Jonah Ravinder- UEC and Henry & Richard Blackaby
[ecko_quote source="Matthew 2:1-2"]“Behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem saying, ‘Where is He that is born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the east, and are come to worship Him.”[/ecko_quote]
Not all “wise men” are wise men. You may be a great entrepreneur, a great businessman, engineer, or nuclear physicist. You may be a physician, lawyer, a gifted artist. But if you don’t know Jesus, you’re not truly wise. There’s a kind of wisdom that’s not wisdom at all; it’s the wisdom of this world. “PhD” may stand for “phenomenal dud” if you don’t know Jesus
Omar Bradley, a great American five-star general, once said, “We’re living in a time when our achievement, our knowledge of science, has gone far beyond our power to control it. We have too many men of science and too few men of God. We’ve brought about brilliance without wisdom, power without conscience. We’re living in a time of nuclear giants and spiritual pygmies.”
That’s well said. What is real wisdom? Number one, wise men will seek Jesus.
Do you know the mark of wisdom, how to determine wisdom? Just tell me what motivates you, tell me the consummate ambition of your life, and I can tell you clearly whether you’re wise or not just by what you seek. The apostle Paul summed up his life in one sentence: “For me to live is Christ and to die is gain.” (Philippians 1:21) What he meant was the source, the substance, the subject, the satisfaction of his life was Christ.
Wise men today are still seeking for Jesus. We don't look for him in Bethlehem because he is no longer there. He is on his throne in heaven. We don't need a map to help us find him -- we don't even need a star to help us find him. We can find our way to Jesus by reading God's Holy Word! The Bible is our map and our star that leads us to Jesus.
While it is true that wise men still seek Him, it is more wonderfully true that He still seeks us–whoever we may be. Now, today, from His place in the heavenly comes His divine invitation: “Behold, I stand at the door and knock: if any man hear My voice, and open the door, I will come into him, and will sup with him and he with Me” (Revelation 3:20).
Could you put your life in a sentence like that? “For me to live is Christ.” Pause and think about that.
[Image Source: https://www.lds.org/bc/content/bible-videos/videos/images/Wise-Men-Seek-Jesus/the-wise-men-find-jesus.jpg]
Pastor Jonah Ravinder- UEC and LMF
[ecko_quote source=" Luke 1:37-38"]Mary said…. Let it be to me according to Your Word[/ecko_quote]
When God told Mary she was going to give birth to the Christ-child, she asked how it could be possible. Perhaps God has been telling you things He wants to do through you, but you are looking at your own limitations and asking, “How will this be? (Luke 1:34) “You are telling God, I do not have the training the experience, the skills, or the connections. And I certainly don’t have the strength to accomplish it alone”.
Like Mary, you are thinking only in the natural, that you must have man’s help to do it. If you have been wondering how God will make things come to pass in your life, remember, He will accomplish the task. No man will get the credit for your deliverance. He told Mary, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you” (Luke 1:35). The Holy Spirit can impregnate you with a vision, inspire you with creative ideas, introduce you to the right people, and empower you to do the job. God had a special plan for Mary, and He has one for you too. You are not privileged to see the future. You do not know all that He has in store for you. However, He has a plan. He will tell you as you obey step by step.
After the angel spoke to Mary, do you know what she said? Let it be to me according to Your Word (Luke 1:38). Not according to my martial status, or my job, or my finances, or what I deserve. No, “Let it be to me according to Your Word”. Was that easy to do? No, she was taking an extreme risk; to be pregnant brought dire consequences in those days. Yet she gave herself willingly to God- and the result was truly miraculous.
The most blessed Word for me in the Bible is Zechariah 4:6 which states “Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the LORD of hosts”. This verse is often quoted when speaking of doing the work of God, and doing so follows a correct spiritual principle. When God does something, it is not done through physical strength. It is interesting that might literally means "arms," and power refers to physical activity. The work of God is not going to be done through feats of arms, military victories, or anything that requires physical fighting or contention. Nor can it be accomplished by any amount of physical activity.
As much work and effort as men put into it, they are not what will get God's work done properly. They will be helpful, certainly, because God works through men, and men must exert themselves in order to do God's will. Nevertheless, He says clearly here that all the credit goes to His Spirit. God Himself is at work! Our job is to submit, to do the things that must be done. We must do what the Spirit directs us to do, but God will receive the credit, not us. We could do none of these works by our own means.
God gives the ability. He gives the inspiration, the strength, and the endurance. He opens the doors. He supplies the manpower, the money, and the other resources to go through those doors. He supplies favour so that the doors can be opened. We merely walk through them.
[ecko_quote source=" Isaiah 9:6"]For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace[/ecko_quote]
In a world filled with war and violence, it’s difficult to see how Jesus could be the all-powerful God who acts in human history and be the embodiment of peace. But physical safety and political harmony don’t necessarily reflect the kind of peace He’s talking about (John 14:27).
The Hebrew word for “peace,” shalom, is often used in reference to an appearance of calm and tranquillity of individuals, groups, and nations. The Greek word eirene means “unity and accord”; Paul uses eirene to describe the objective of the New Testament church. But the deeper, more foundational meaning of peace is “the spiritual harmony brought about by an individual’s restoration with God.”
In our sinful state, we are enemies of God (Romans 5:10). “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). Because of Christ’s sacrifice, we are restored to a relationship of peace with God (Romans 5:1). This is the deep, abiding peace between our hearts and our Creator that cannot be taken away (John 10:27–28) and the ultimate fulfilment of Christ’s work as “Prince of Peace.”
But Christ’s sacrifice provides more for us than eternal peace; it also allows us to have a relationship with the Holy Spirit, the Helper who promises to guide us (John 16:7, 13). Further, the Holy Spirit will manifest Himself in us by having us live in ways we couldn’t possibly live on our own, including filling our lives with love, joy, and peace (Galatians 5:22–23). This love, joy, and peace are all results of the Holy Spirit working in the life of a believer. They are reflections of His presence in us. And, although their deepest, the most vital result is to have us live in love, joy, and peace with God, they can’t help but spill over into our relationships with people.
Ironically, the lightest definition of peace, that of the appearance of tranquillity in a person, can be the most difficult to grasp and maintain. We do nothing to acquire or maintain our spiritual peace with God (Ephesians 2:8–9). And, while living in unity with other believers can be extremely difficult, living in peace in our own lives can very often feel impossible.
Note that peaceful doesn’t mean “easy.” Jesus never promised easy; He only promised help. In fact, He told us to expect tribulation (John 16:33) and trials (James 1:2). But He also said that, if we called on Him, He would give us the “peace of God, which surpasses all our understanding/ comprehension” (Philippians 4:6–7). No matter what hardships we are faced with, we can ask for peace that comes from the powerful love of God that is not dependent on our own strength or the situation around us.
Christians have to struggle through periods of grief and hurt like everyone else. But we have divine help and assurance to hold us up. Though our physical circumstances may be gloomy and dark, the peace of God that lies within us keeps us settled, sure and steadfast, confident in the hope of Jesus Christ’s return, when His peace will at last encompass all the earth.
[ecko_quote source=" Luke 2:10"]Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people[/ecko_quote]
No Christmas carol list would be complete without the cheerful celebration song, “Joy to the World.” This lively tune can be easily memorized and simple to play on an instrument. But do you know the interesting story behind this well-loved hymn?
Isaac Watts (1674-1748), author of around 750 songs, is commonly called “The Father of Hymns” due to his popularity as the first English hymn writer. A few of his most well-known songs still sung today include: Come ye that Love the Lord; When I Survey the Wondrous Cross; At the Cross; and the topic of today’s post, Joy to the World. Isaac Watts was a young man when hymns other than Psalms were allowed to be sung in the Church of England.
If you notice the lyrics of the song, Joy to the World, you will see nothing about shepherds, a manger, wise men, angels, or any other character or element that we normally associate with the Christmas story. The reason being that Isaac Watts did not write Joy to the World to be a Christmas song. The original theme of this song was intended for the second coming of the Lord. Christmas won’t always be a joyful time, but when Jesus comes back, even the rocks will sing!
I have not been able to establish when or why this hymn became associated with Christmas. Certainly, we can look at the message in the song and see that it can be applied to Christ’s appearance as a babe in Bethlehem. We must prepare the room for Him in our hearts and lives. This is a joyous occasion!
As you hear and sing this beloved carol this season, think about the words. Yes, they apply to the Christmas story in which the 'Lord is come!' We should rejoice! But, let the lyrics all point you to the reason Jesus came: to save the world. Be ready because He is coming again! What a glorious day THAT will be when the whole earth celebrates His appearing!
Jesus’s birth was not Luke’s final word about our joy. Even in the midst of the very worst circumstances — the awful persecution of Jesus and his disciples — Jesus’s message remained the same, “Rejoice.” “Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man! Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven” (Luke 6:22–23).
Christmas encourages us to embrace this companionship and “repeat the sounding joy” throughout our lifetime. This verse is one of my favorite Scriptures in the Bible, where the angel of the Lord declares Jesus’ birth to the shepherds. From that, we know our message is GOOD NEWS. Our message brings GREAT JOY. Our message is for ALL PEOPLE. Let’s determine to keep a great spirit throughout this Christmas season and forward.