Presentations of the Youth
Presentation Title Author

"The distractions of Martha!"
(Luke 10:38-42)

Koshy "Siju" John

"Afflictions in the lives of God's children"
(Psalms 119:153-160)

Koshy "Siju" John

"Psalm 36: The steadfast love of God"

Johnson Thomas

"The persistence of Jacob"
(Genesis 32:26)

Johnson Thomas

Psalms 119:33-40 - "Stay connected with
God's Word and His love"

Koshy "Siju" John

"Be strong and courageous; Do not be afraid"
(Joshua 1:1-9)

Johnson Thomas

Psalms 30 - "Be joyful"

Koshy "Siju" John

Proverbs 17:17 - "What a friend we have in Jesus"

Koshy "Siju" John

Psalm 139:1-18 - The Omniscient, Omnipresent and Omnipotent God

Koshy "Siju" John

Psalm 115 - Put our trust only in God

Lijo Varghese

Psalm 19 - Designer behind the design

Koshy "Siju" John

Love without borders

Marilyn Johnson

Psalm 119:161-168 - Delight in God's Word

Koshy "Siju" John

Psalm 119:9-16 - Places left untended

Koshy "Siju" John

"The distractions of Martha!"
(Luke 10:38-42)

Koshy "Siju" John

Through data collected from over 20,000 Christians in 139 countries, 'The Obstacles to Growth' survey found that, on an average, more than 40 percent of Christians around the world say they "often" or "always" rush from task to task. About 60 percent of Christians say that it's "often" or "always" true that the business of life gets in the way of developing their relationship with God. It's clear that business does distract us from our fellowship with Him.

Our busy schedules:

It seems Martha too allowed business to distract her from spending time with Jesus. When she welcomed Him and His disciples into her home, she was occupied with preparing the food, washing their feet, and making sure they were comfortable. All of these things had to be done, but Luke seems to imply that Martha's business of caring for the guests degenerated into busy work that distracted her from reflecting on Jesus' words and enjoying time with Him.

What about us? Are we rushing from task to task, allowing the business of life and even working for Jesus to distract us from enjoying sweet fellowship with Him? We need to ask God to help us diminish our distractions by making Jesus our focus.

Examine our schedules during the week: work, school, taking care of the family and so on. Some people are just too distracted to spend a little less than an hour in God's presence. If little things like T.V, playoffs, games, video games, cell phone (I know some people can't live without them) are distractions, then how are we going to face serious things that happen in our life? Just like the Israelites were in the wilderness on the way to reach the Promised Land, we too are in a wilderness situation out here and it's not going to be easy. These little experiences that we go through are to make us stronger so that we'll be ready for tougher times. So we need to get it right. Where do we do that? Right in here when we're among believers and especially in the house of God with fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. This is where we practice and train ourselves. It's all about changing our mindset and retraining our minds. When a stressful or undesirable thing happens, we tend to go to the 'default mode'. Instead of applying our mind, we just react. That's the old way of thinking or handling situations before Christ came into our life. It's all about changing our mind and training our minds. (Ref: Romans 12:2)

We need to change our old ways of thinking and start thinking with the mind of Christ. When a person encounters Christ, a transformation takes place inside of him. We realize our old ways of thinking, attitudes, and behaviors don't line up with what the Lord wants in our life. We begin to be convicted and convinced that certain things in us need to be "put off" or done away with. We begin to start cutting off our old friends, and relationships. So slowly, but surely, little by little Christ starts the transformation inside us and it will develop in our actions. We stop going to the old places, stop associating with ungodly people and start going to places where it pleases God. We start hanging out with godly people and start godly relationships as opposed to godless relationships. Amen!!!

So don't live any longer the way the world lives. Let your way of thinking be completely changed. Then you will be able to test what God wants for you. And you will agree that what He wants is right and right for you. His plan is good and pleasing and perfect. How very rich is God's wisdom and knowledge. The way He deals with people is more that we can know. Who can ever know what is in the Lord's mind? Or who can ever give Him advice? Has anyone ever given anything to God, so that God has to pay him back? All things come from Him. He directs all things. All things are for His good. May God be given glory.

Notice that Martha received Jesus into the house and Mary ended up choosing the good part. That is sitting at the feet of Jesus and listening to the Word of God.

Sometimes that can happen to us as well. We received Jesus into our hearts and into our lives. Then the Martha-type of person in us can get busy with all the things that had to be done. We put the Word of God aside and we put off prayer, reading the word, going to church, and end up being too busy for God. We want to be solely focused on our careers, our education, building and fixing our relationships, our children, cars, businesses, etc. At the end of it all we end up complaining like Martha did.

Or we can be like Mary. Instead of being worried and upset about all the things going on around us, we sit at the Lord's feet listening to His Word. If our eyes are focused at the Lord's feet, He will melt away all our problems and will lift us up out of our situation. He will put us up on a pedestal so that we may glorify God as having victory in our helpless situation.

We need to start praying, "Lord, I don't want to miss out on moments of intimacy with you. Help me not to be so busy and caught up that I fail to devote time each day to prayer and reading from Your word". Amen.

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"Afflictions in the lives of God's children"
(Psalms 119:153-160)

Koshy "Siju" John

How do we handle affliction when it comes? What are the first thoughts to enter our minds? Usually, we just want it to be over. We cry out for deliverance.

This section of Psalm 119 shows us the heart of the psalmist as he pleads with God for deliverance, revival and strengthening. Earlier in the psalm he has spoken concerning his affliction: "Before I was afflicted I went astray: but now have I kept thy word" (Psalm 119:67), "It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn thy statutes" (Psalm 119:71), "I know, O LORD, that thy judgments are right, and that thou in faithfulness hast afflicted me" (Psalm 119:75). Now he says, "Consider mine affliction, and deliver me…"

Affliction brought the psalmist to focus on his relationship with God and His Word. Rather than feeling sorry for himself, he realized how blessed he was to know God and to rest upon His promises.

What about us today? Where are we in our relationship with our Lord? Do the trials and tribulations move us away from our faith, or do they reaffirm where we stand? As children of God, we have the advantage of calling out to the Lord for His help in the time of trouble. We have the advantage of leaving all our burdens at His feet when we go to the throne of grace in prayer. As the Psalmist is asking the Lord to save him during his sufferings, we can do likewise. He asks God to save him because he hasn't forgotten the laws of God. He asks the Lord to stand up for him and set him free. He knows he's going through some difficulties in his life. But he knows also that God has given us promises as well to keep us alive during hard times. For those things to be fulfilled in our lives, we need to be faithful and obedient children in our Father's eyes.

The Psalmist had a real thirst and a real zeal for the Lord. He sincerely loved the Lord. He knew the Lord loved him, and because of that, He will bring justice and prosperity in his life.

God wants good things for us today also. He doesn't want us to go after the desires of our flesh or the desires of the world because those things are momentary or temporary. They will be here today and gone tomorrow. If we follow after those things, so will be our end or circumstances. We were created to be eternal creatures. So do not sell ourselves short by chasing things that are momentary and ungodly. God has better plans for us (Jeremiah 29:11-14). God wants to bless us. "I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord. I want you to enjoy success. I do not plan to harm you. I will give you hope for the years to come. Then you will call out to Me. You will come and pray to Me. And I will listen to you. When you look for Me with all your heart, you will find Me. I will be found by you, announces the Lord".

God did not want us to be stagnant and going through the motions of a routine life. God's plan and will is good things for us. He wants us to be obedient to His guidelines and commandments written in His word. We need to search for the Lord with all our heart. We need to get on the winning side. That side is with God. Amen!!

We need to follow the commandments of God. Jesus summed up all the commandments into two great commandments. One is to "love the Lord with all your heart, your entire mind, and all your soul". The second greatest commandment is to "love your neighbor as you love yourself." (Matthew 22:35-40)

Have you ever wondered why the cross is the way it is - one horizontal piece of wood and the other vertical? God sent His Son to mend relationships. He came to mend our relationship with God the Father. That is the vertical line. Once we rectify that relationship we can go ahead and fix our relationship with our fellow brothers and sisters seen in the horizontal level. If we look closely at the 10 commandments, we see that the first 4 commandments deal with our relationship with God, the vertical relationship. Once we are able to straighten that out, we should work on the latter 6 commandments that deal with our relationship with our fellow humans, which is the horizontal relationship.

Let us start seeking the Lord earnestly and sincerely with humility, with all our hearts. God thinks of each and every single one of us. The Creator of the universe wants something to do with us. He considers us and thinks about us on a daily basis. Don't be fooled by what the devil is saying. God listens to our prayers. He wants to turn us away from captivity. He wants to restore us and bless us.

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"Psalm 36: The steadfast love of God"
Johnson Thomas

A psalm of David, the servant of the LORD

David in this psalm is identified - not as a king or as a shepherd - but as a servant of the Lord.

Verse 1: "The transgression of the wicked saith within my heart, that there is no fear of God before his eyes"

When we observe the deeds of the wicked, what characteristics can we see? The servant of Lord sees that he "lack fear of God", that there is no fear of God in his eyes. Paul cites this verse in Romans "it is written, there is no fear of God before their eyes" (Rom 3:18). Paul here expands this observation from 'his eyes' to 'their eyes', more like a class of people. Let's read from verse 10 to know whom is Paul referring to as 'their'. "As it is written, there is none righteous, no, not one ...there is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God" (Rom 3:10). "Their" here includes everyone.....Let's take a moment here to consider if we are the wicked that the servant of the Lord identifies. ....YES, it is us, but it is our past condition of not fearing God...even Paul was once without fear of God.

Verse 2: "for he flattereth himself in his own eyes". 'flattereth' means 'decieves' himself. How does he decieve himself?

Paul quotes from David's Psalms 14 and 53: "the fool saith in his heart there is no God". So it seems our knowledge / education deceives us by clouding our understanding.

Verses 3 and 4: "he abhorreth not evil...he does not have contempt for wrong doing". The condition of the wicked is that he cannot save himself....and all of this resulting from not fearing God.....

Verse 5: However, "the steadfast love of God comes from the heavens, his faithfulness reacheth to the clouds". From the heavens to the clouds, from the mighty mountains to the great deep, those who fear God and know God can experience the power of God and experience the steadfast love of God, His faithfulness, His righteousness and His judgements.

God reveals Himself to those who search for Him, and His revelations will come in your life experiences and you will know them when there are troubles, doubt, uncertainty, great problems, turbulence, threatening situations, accidents and freak events happening in and around us...the servant of Lord reminds us that God's love and mercy is above all in the heavens and He never fails, nor forgets, nor falters nor forfeits His words....His faithfulness reaches to the clouds...His righteousness is firm, unmoved, lofty like the mighty mountains....and His doings in our life are preplanned and with great thought and are unsearchable like the deep oceans.

Verse 7: "How excellent is thy loving kindness, O God!" This statement is not a question, "How" rather ends with an exclamation, which denotes the unexplainable. The servant of the Lord cannot describe the boundless excellence of his loving kindness.

Where does he experience this excellent loving kindness? "Under the shadow of thy wings". We can experience the loving kindness of God through various characteristics of God. No one has seen God but all of us have experienced God's loving kindness, His faithfulness under the shadow of His wings.

Verse 8: "Those who remain under the shadow of his wings will be abundantly satisfied with the fatness or fullness of his house; and thou shall make them drink of thy river". Which is this river?

Verse 9 talks about the source of this river, it the fountain of life. In John 4:14 Jesus reveals this fountain of life that many enquired about. Jer. 2:13 talks of how the fountain of living waters or life giving waters is rejected. Jer. 17:13: "O Lord, all that forsake thee shall be ashamed because they have forsaken the fountain of living waters".

The servant of the Lord is not writing a poem here but it is a divine revelation to him of the fountain of life. Those who reject this water will not be satisfied and will remain in darkness. In contrast, those who drink of this water will never thirst again and those who are in the light will not be in darkness.

Let's pray with the servant of the Lord that the loving kindness and the righteousness of God should continue and we should not be deceived from this grace by pride or by the wicked.

Verse 12: Finally the servant of the Lord sees the destruction of those in darkness.

Hence the Psalmist urges and admonishes us to:

a) fear God

b) know the characteristics of God (His loving kindness, His faithfulness, His righteousness and His judgments)

c) remain under the shadow His wings

d) drink from the river of life, for the river is here in our midst and finally encourages us to:

e) save many from being cast down in darkness who shall not rise.

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"The persistence of Jacob"
(Genesis 32:26)

Johnson Thomas

"I will not let thee go, except thou bless me" (Gen. 32:26)

These are Jacob's words during a wrestling event between him and a man. I like the persistence of Jacob that we see here and it has inspired me. Jacob here is very concerned about meeting his brother Esau the next day and now he is alone by himself. He had sent away his wives, handmaidens and sons ahead across the river.

Let's consider how he reached here this night and what encouraged him to take this fight. During his young days, Jacob was an unskilled man (unlike his brother Esau, who was a very clever hunter). And his father, Isaac liked Esau more than Jacob. Esau got all preferences and was the obvious choice as the heir after Isaac. Jacob was, of course, no match for Esau in any manner.

Have we faced similar competition from better qualified people and what would you do to win?

Jacob used worldly means and trickery to receive all the blessings from his father: a) He got the birthright from his twin older brother Esau by taking advantage of his hunger and b) he deceived his father, Isaac, into giving him Esau's blessings. Isaac made Jacob lord over Esau and over all his wealth (Gen. 27: 37). But the paradox was that he could not receive or enjoy these blessings --- and he had to flee from the situation even to survive.

Then the second part of his life began at Padan-aram with Laban and his family, where Laban was his master. He had in his possession, his father's blessings and God's promises that he received at Bethel. "I will be with you and will keep you in all the places you go" (Gen 28:15).

How would we win in our area of work and what would we do to get rewarded, being well aware that God's promises are with us?

Here he got his blessings and reward through hard work and relationship: so he seems to have changed now. He got his wife as wages for his hard work! But the paradox was that he was tricked by his master Laban - instead of Rachel he got Leah. Unlike his previous history, here he was honest and hard working but the result was unexpected, he was deceived!

But let's not forget the blessings he received from his father Isaac and God's promise at Bethel. Through Jacob, Laban was blessed and his flocks increased (Gen 30:27). Laban appreciated all the efforts of Jacob and the blessedness that Jacob had and offered to compensate him. Finally Jacob was going to claim his reward, position, his blessings. But you know what happened? His master, Laban, tricked him again.

Have you been tricked by your employer / master by not sharing the blessings that he received through your efforts? What would you do?

Jacob decided to go solo! He used his tricks and raised cattle, he became very prosperous, but with all his prosperity he had to flee from Laban for his life! Finally, he was going back to his brother Esau and he was going to face his fears in life because he realized that the only way to succeed and receive his blessings was by claiming it.

That night a man comes to wrestle Jacob. He is alone here - his sons, wives, maids are all away. If somebody wrestles with you, it is not for fun, right? Wrestling today is a sport but in those days it was a fight, just without weapons. That night he is all alone with nothing. Whatever he earned through deceit, hard work, love, honesty, nothing remained with him. As he was looking uncertainly for the next day, there was this man who had come to attack him in the night.

You know what Jacob did, Jacob did not give up. "Seeing that he could not prevail, he touched the hollow of Jacob's thigh and it was out of joint, and he wrestled with him" (Gen. 32:25). He continued to fight till the dawn when this stranger requested to let him go. "I will not let thee go, except thou bless me" (Gen. 32:26 ).

"And Jacob called the place Peniel which means 'face of God', for I have seen God face to face" (Gen 32:30).

This wrestler was not an ordinary man, but from heaven. And to prevail against him with a thigh out of joint, imagine how desperate Jacob must have been to win! Jacob perhaps realized that all his worldly blessings would come and go, probably most of them he could not even enjoy and could be stolen. But only if God blessed, he could live to see and enjoy his blessings. That morning he received a new name, he became a new nation, Israel.

My friends, let us not give up, situations may break us but we have the example of Jacob. We will not give up against trials and tests and we will prevail

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Psalms 119:33-40: "Stay connected with
God's love and His Word"

Koshy "Siju" John

A 'New York Times' article linked the increase of computer storage with the decrease of data in the human mind. Our electronic aids now remember phone numbers, driving directions, and other information we used to learn by repeated use. In schools, memorization and oral recitation are disappearing from the curriculum. We have become, according to the "Times," products of a culture that does not enforce the development of memory skills.

"Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed thereto according to thy word. With my whole heart have I sought thee: O let me not wander from thy commandments. Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee" (Psalm 119:9-11). Yet never have we as followers of Christ been in greater need of hiding God's word in our hearts. Scripture memory is more than a helpful mental exercise. The goal is to saturate our minds with God's truth so that our lives will conform to His ways. The psalmist wrote: "Teach me , O Lord, the way of Your statutes, and I shall keep it to the end." Then he wrote "Turn away my eyes from looking at worthless things, and revive me in Your way" (vs. 33-37)

We need to start committing scripture to memory. Daily consistency and review are the keys to success. Just like physical exercise, this spiritual discipline is enhanced when done in a small group or with a friend. Let's not forget to remember and follow the life-giving wisdom of God's word. God's word will change your life, if you will do your part to read, to study and obey. And hide it in your heart. Let the Bible fill your mind, rule your heart and guide your life. It will help our daily walk with the Lord.

"And He saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men" (Matt 4:19). A lady named Jennifer was at a missions conference in Marion, North Carolina. Jennifer spoke of a Bible study she had held with one woman. The two were discussing Matthew 4:19, and the woman told Jennifer about a word in her native language, which means "follow". She said, "It is the word for following closely, not at a distance".

To illustrate, Jennifer held up slippers used by the native women, showing one far behind the other. Then she moved one slipper right up against the back of the other one, and said that the word means "to follow right on one's heels." It suggests that we are to follow Jesus as closely as possible.

Later, when Jennifer was reading over the journal she had been keeping, she was surprised to see that she often questioned, "Is Jesus enough?" She had been working her way through culture shock, loneliness, illness, and childlessness. But when through prayer and faith she had drawn as close to Him as she could, walking "right on His heels," He had calmed her soul, restored her strength, and given her peace.

Are you feeling far from the Lord - empty, weak, and afraid? It's time to follow close on His heels. We need to examine how close is our walk with the Lord. Are we lagging behind or following right behind Him? Ask the Lord to give you the faith of a little child - a faith that will look to Him, that will never falter and never fail, but follow Him trustingly. The closer we walk with God, the clearer we see His guidance.

You have to live in the divine flow of love and life. Today you have to claim your divine birthright - saying I am a child of God, immersed in the energy of light, love and joy. Regardless of any outer appearances, I know that all things are working together for my highest good. I have faith in that divine flow that supports and sustains me in all circumstances. As you relax and accept your blessings, you freely move toward a greater good.

We got to have faith in God's great love for us. Realize, with the deepest gratitude, that God's love is unconditional, freely given and freely experienced. That love spills over into all areas of our lives. It's a joy to live in the divine flow of life and love. We got to stay connected to it.

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"Be strong and courageous; Do not be afraid"
(Joshua 1:1-9)

Johnson Thomas

Joshua the servant

Joshua was born as a slave in Egypt. He was the son of Nun, of the tribe of Ephraim (1 Chronicles 7:20,27). Originally named Hoshea (Numbers 13:8), meaning salvation, Moses renamed him Joshua, meaning The Lord is Salvation (Numbers 13:16). Joshua was an active participant in the Exodus, and was Moses' military commander when the Israelites defeated the Amalekites in Rephidim about 2 months later (Exodus 17:8-16). Joshua was between 60 - 85 yrs old when he became a leader and he died at the age of 110. The book of Joshua, thus, spans about 25-40 years after entry into the Promised Land. He was buried in Timnath-serah (Joshua 24:28-30). Joshua was one of the twelve men sent by Moses to explore the land (Numbers 13:16-17), but only Joshua and Caleb gave an encouraging report. Joshua was a close aide / minister to Moses (servant) and was Moses' military commander (Exo. 24:13). Before Moses' death, the leadership of Israel was formally transferred to Joshua (Deuteronomy 31:23). The people were encamped at Shittim when he assumed the command (Joshua 1:1, 2:1).

He who would lead well must first learn how to serve well (Another example: Elisha's ministry to Elijah - 1 Kings 19:21)

Joshua the successor

God had specific assignments for Joshua (Joshua 1:2-4)

* Go over Jordan (with all the people)

* Every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon, I have given unto you, so go an take it. (From the wilderness - the area on the south and east of Canaan - to Lebanon on the north upto river Euphrates on the northeast upto the great sea, Mediterranean, on the West - all the land of Hittites, meaning the regions of Canaan and Syria occupied by one of the large ethnic groups and a traditional power, a buffer state between two great powers Assyrians and Egyptians).

* Divide and allot the land

* Observe to do according to all the law, turn not to the right or to the left, meditate day and night.

God's promise: "I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee" (Joshua 1:5) - Till date God has not failed or forsook them, unless they have disobeyed. Even if they did, God has not forgotten His promise / covenant to Abraham and Moses for a promised land - The land flowing with milk and honey, best fertile soil, and everything in abundance - a kind of paradise. So God reassures Joshua again and again to be strong and courageous and not to fear (Joshua1: 6,7, 9 - repeated from Deut. 31:6,7,23).

Joshua's personal capabilities

As a military commander, Israel could perform only when Moses' hand was lifted up to heaven (Exodus 17:8-16). When there was sin of Achan, Joshua lost his strength, courage and he feared (Joshua 7: 7-8)

What does it mean to 'Be Strong, Courageous and Fearless'?

Strong: Physical strength and also mental strength - Unwavering, resolute, (opposite of being weak)

* Moses' song: The Lord is my strength and song and my salvation (Exo. 15:2)

* Hannah's song: He will keep the feet of his saints for by strength of shall no man prevail (1 Sam. 2:9)

* David's song: The Lord is my rock and fortress and my deliverer and my strength in whome I will trust (Psa. 18: 2)

* Apostle Paul: I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me (Phil. 4:13)

Where does your strength come from? Are you strong today? Are you unwavering, resolute or are you weak and succumbing?

Courageous: The quality of mind or spirit that enables a person to face difficulty, danger, pain - BRAVE

Courage in this context is bravery in battle and heroic courage

Fear: A distressing emotion aroused by danger etc... Fear in this context is fear of consequences and fear due to doubts

After Jesus chose the twelve disciples He gave them their mission, warning and instructions and added:

"Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell" (Matt 10:28)

"Don't be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows" (Matt 10:31).

Joshua the winner

Preparation of conquest:

o The crossing of the Jordan River involved a miracle, The Lord stopped the flow of water so that the Israelites, led by the Levites carrying the The Ark Of The Covenant, could cross on dry ground (Joshua 3:15-17)

o Once across the Jordan, the Israelites camped at Gilgal where they observed the Passover (Joshua 5:10). The next day, when they began eating from the produce of the Promised Land, the Manna stopped being supplied to them as it had been through their Wilderness Journey (Joshua 5:11-12).

o Canaan itself became politically divided into several small states that were often at war with one another. God had arranged the details of history in such a way that conditions would be just right for the Israelites conquest of Canaan.

Program of conquest:

o After the taking of Jericho (The Fall Of Jericho), Joshua led the Israelites on their campaign to take the land that God commanded them to live in - 6 nations and 31 kings fell to them (Joshua 11:18-23, 12:24).

o After the Promised Land came under the effective control of Israel, Joshua divided the land among the tribes, according to God's instructions, with Timnath-serah in Mount Ephraim given to Joshua as his own.


The book of Joshua is a record of God's faithfulness and it is a call for the believer to be obedient if he would appropriate all that God has designed for him and a testimony of the might and grace of a sovereign and holy God.

Finally, be strong and courageous and do not fear because our strength comes from our Lord and He has promised to be with us always!

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Psalms 30: "Be joyful"
Koshy "Siju" John

This is a Psalm of David for the dedication of the temple which his son Solomon built. It is a celebration of God's deliverance. Earthly security is uncertain, but God is always faithful.

Does anyone know about the children's book Pollyanna? It's the story of the optimistic young girl who always found something to be glad about even when bad things happened. I read a story of a girl named Marianne that reminded me of that literary character. She fell and broke her arm while riding her bicycle. She said that she was thankful because she was still able to ride all the way back home and how grateful she was that she wouldn't need to have surgery. It was her left arm (she's right-handed), so she said she would still be able to work. She was also happy about the fact that she had good bones and the doctor said she'd heal fine. Then she said that "wasn't it wonderful that it hadn't been any worse!!"

Marianne is an example of someone who has learned to rejoice in spite of trouble. She has a confidence that God will care for her - no matter what. Suffering eventually touches us all. And in times of difficulty, thankfulness is usually not our first response. But God looks at us with pleasure when we find reasons to be thankful. Amen!!

Read 1Thess. 5:16-18. It says to "always be joyful. Never stop praying. Give thanks no matter what happens. God wants you to thank Him because you believe in Christ Jesus." This is God's will for you.

These verses were written by Paul, who was a prisoner in the hands of the Romans. How can someone who's in prison write these things? He was persecuted for preaching the Gospel. He calls himself a "prisoner of Jesus Christ." Everywhere he went, he was in shackles or chains, and he still spoke the good news of Jesus Christ. He was not ashamed.

Read Matthew 10:32-33: Jesus said that if you are ashamed of Him, He will also be ashamed of you before God the Father. But if you talk about Him, confess, or tell the good news, Jesus will also speak good things about you to God the Father. Praise the Lord!!

Paul the Apostle was able to write these encouraging words because of the encouragement, empowerment and inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Not by might, not by power, but by my Spirit says the Lords of Hosts. Amen!! He believed in his faith with fervour. He was always ready to speak about the goodness of the Lord.

As we realistically look for the good despite our bad circumstances, we can be grateful that God is holding us close. It is when we trust in His goodness that we find gladness. Thankfulness finds something good in every circumstance. In the middle of trouble, acknowledging God's role in our lives can redirect our thinking from the hurts of our hearts and force us to dwell instead on the greatness of our God.

Read Psalm 30:5: "His anger lasts for only a moment. But His favor lasts for a person's whole life. Sorrow, weeping, or sadness may come through the night. But joy comes in the morning". Hallelujah!! Praise the Lord.

Sometimes we can be a sorry and a negative bunch of people. Yes troubles come, sadness will come and rough times will come. But we have to able to see the good in every situation. What good will it if we became angry at everything life throws at you. We'll end up storing that anger and building up all this resentment inside. We'll never let things go and end up being grumpy and annoyed old men/women.

Look at Psalm 30:9: Have you watched some of the elderly? Some of them walk around murmuring to themselves, always angry about something. It's all the things he/she has been harboring inside themselves all those years. What good will he be if he died an angry old man? Will he help anyone or even himself?

Instead, if he sought some help and shared his issues then it could be resolved. A problem shared is a problem lessened. Amen. Anger and hate are all things of the devil. They are works of the flesh.

Read Gal 5:17-21: If you harbor any of these works, the kingdom of God is not for you. But what you should harbor is written in the next few verses in verses 22-23.

This is what we should work on. The flesh and spirit is constantly at war every day. There is a struggle inside yourselves everyday whether we believe it or not. It's happening if we like it or not.

If you feed yourself this list of negative things, then you're feeding the flesh and you will die on earth. And you'll have a second death right after judgment in front of God, the Lord of all creation who has everything at His subjection.

But if you feed yourself love, joy, peace, patience, etc., you're feeding your Spirit. Then you have hope. What is our hope?

Read 1Corinth 15:51-54: Some of us might not die the earthly death. Christ is going to come to gather His church. This is called the Rapture. He's going to come soon in the clouds to receive His faithful servants. If you want to be in that number, renew your spirit daily and feed your mind with the things of God so that it will take root in your hearts. And the blessings will show in your speech and actions. Praise the Lord. God bless you.

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Proverbs 17:17: "What a friend we have in Jesus"
Koshy "Siju" John

The theme of my message today is "what a friend we have in Jesus." The author of this poem is Joseph M. Scriven. He was devoutly religious; he gave freely of what money he had, even his own clothing and his services to all poorer than himself who needed them.

Those of you who know the history of Scriven know that this man went through so much agony and sorrow in his life. The night before his wedding, his fiancée drowned. The grief stricken young man moved to Canada. There he again fell in love, was due to be married and the young woman suddenly fell ill of pneumonia and died. He then devoted the rest of his life to helping others. In 1885, this is the poem that he wrote to comfort his mother in Ireland.

Let's look at Proverbs 17:17. "A friend loves at all times and a brother is born for adversity." I'm going to read that again but this time I'm going substitute Jesus in the place of friend. "Jesus loves at all times, and in times of adversity He becomes a brother." Each of us may have many friends and we may love many of them. Let me ask you a question. If any of us here has someone that we love even a little, isn't there a reason behind it? Or it is so that you'll receive something back from them. If one person loves another person, will he/she be able to love them at all times? And even if we can love at all times, can you love someone the same way all throughout? Can you love someone unconditionally? Wouldn't there be some differences in the depths or heights of that love? There may be some incidences when love is lost as well.

But I want to turn your attention to a special friend named Jesus who does not ask for something back in return. There was no reason for Him to love us. We were not worthy of such love. Still He loved us and will continue to love us from the beginning until the very end and He loves us unconditionally. There is only one friend we have and that is the Son of God, Jesus Christ who made us his friend. How great a friend we have in Jesus, Amen. Let's lift up our hands to give glory, thanks and praise to our Lord for giving us the grace to meet this friend who is always and always by our side at all times. We have a great friend in Jesus. Hallelujah!! Praise the Lord.

I will tell you why I love the Lord in just a few words. At the birth of Jesus, heaven spoke to the people (shepherds) saying 'Today in the city of David is born unto "you" a Savior.' So He was born for me. Again in 1 Corinthians 15:3, it says that "...Christ died for 'our' sins according to the scriptures, that he was raised on the third day according to the scriptures." So not only was He born for my sakes, He died for me and He rose again on the third day for me. Praise the Lord!! And again He said, it is profitable for 'us' that He leaves the world as He was ascending to Heaven. So from there He did not go to Heaven for His own desires or pleasure. He went because it is profitable for 'me.' And when He is in Heaven, He won't take care of things concerning Himself. But what is He doing in Heaven? He's not sitting there and enjoying the glory of Heaven. He sits on the throne on the right side of the God the Father, making intercession for me. So when He's there, He is concerned about me and things concerning me. Praise the Lord!! Not only that, He gave us word that He's going to prepare a place for me and you, so that where He is, we will be also. Hallelujah!! And He gave word that He will come back again. He's is even coming back and returning for me and my sake.

So think about it. He was born for me. He died for me and rose again for me. Ascended to heaven for me and makes intercession in Heaven for me. Not only that, He's coming back again for me. That is truly a good friend. Have you had the opportunity to meet such a great friend? Let's give Him praise. What a friend we have in Jesus. Let's be thankful to the Lord and give Him praise. Praise the Lord.

Proverbs 20:6 says, "Many a man claims to have unfailing love, but a faithful man who can find?" Friends of the world may have been good to us once in a while in some way or another. Potiphar was kind or good to Joseph. Laban was good to Jacob. But can either one of them be counted as faithful to his friend? Can you count on our friends at all times? They might've been good to us once in a while, but can they be counted faithful to us? My Jesus is not that kind of friend. My Jesus is not a friend that's good to me once in a while, but He is always faithful and I can count on Him at all times. I can tell Him anything and everything. Sometimes we're afraid to tell someone our prayer requests, because some people will look down on us or use it against us. But let me ask you, Has Jesus ridiculed, criticized, mocked or made you feel bad about any of your health issues or shortcomings that you've told Him? Has he made a gossip or a mockery and made you feel bad about any of the secret things that you've told Him? No, certainly not. You can confess any sin to Jesus. You can tell Him any pain or sorrow you're going through. Any secret thing can be kept with Jesus. There is only one person you can really open up your mind and your heart to, that alone is Jesus Christ. You can always count on Him to keep the innermost things you've told him and He'll keep it safely. He'll never criticize or ridicule you about any of it. That is our Lord Jesus Christ. "What a friend we have in Jesus, All our sins and grief's to bear, What a privilege to carry, Take it to the Lord in prayer"

Once, a righteous man said that when He gets to Heaven, He'll go near Jesus and hug Jesus' feet telling Him, "Jesus, thank you for forgiving me of all my sins." After that Jesus would reply, "Friend, I remember forgiving your sins but what sin it was, I do not remember but forgot it right then." Did you get that? He remembers forgiving us, but will not keep a record of our sins. 'He keeps no record of evil.' He doesn't keep a record of the bad things or the sins we have done. The only record He keeps is if we've done anything good in the world to reward us when we get to heaven. It is written in His book. So whatever sins or wrong things we may have done are washed away by the precious blood of the Lamb that was shed for us on that cross on Calvary 2,000 years ago. Praise be to His holy name. Let's give praise to this great God who forgives our trespasses and only remembers the good that we have done for His kingdom. Hallelujah!! Let's take this opportunity to just worship Him and give glory and honor to His great name because He is such a wonderful friend and companion especially in times of trouble. May God bless you with these words.

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Psalm 139:1-18:
The Omniscient, Omnipresent and Omnipotent God

Koshy "Siju" John

This is one of my favorite Psalms and the author we know is David. Every time I read it, the Spirit of the Lord moves my heart and I'm filled with the love of God. It shows His grace and His mercy upon our lives.

The Psalm further depicts the 3 great powerful attributes of God. These attributes are that God is omniscient, God is omnipresent, and God is omnipotent. The prefix "Omni" means all and the word attached to that prefix describe the characteristic.

'Omniscient' means God is all knowing. He knows everything. His wisdom is infinite. That's why we have to ask Him for wisdom in everything we do. He is the source of all wisdom and knowledge.

'Omnipresent' means God is all present. He can be everywhere and somewhere specific at the same time. He can handle an earthquake in California and a tidal wave in India. He can be there at both places.

'Omnipotent' means God is all powerful. He is able to heal the worst diseases known to mankind and He's able to calm the greatest storms or natural disasters.

If we look at verses 1-6 we can see the omniscient aspect of God. He knows what's in your heart. What you're contemplating in your head, even though you think He is far away. He knows when you sit down and when you get up. He knows when you go to work and come back home. Even before you speak, He knows the exact words you're going to say. When you think nobody in the whole world understands you, it's amazing how well He knows and understands you. It's more than we can fathom or understand. He knows you more that you'll even know.

We can see the omnipresent aspect of God in vs 7-12. How can you get away from His Spirit? Where can you go to escape from the Almighty? If you go up to the sky or heavens, He is there. If you lie down in the depths of the seas, He is there. If you go all the way east or all the way around to the west, God is still there. Many of us might have tried to run away from Him, but He's always been there waiting for us to learn and understand like a patient Father. Sometimes we try to hide in the back or dark where people can't see us, but the Lord is telling you today He saw you and still sees you. He knows what you're going through.

Finally, the omnipotent aspect of God is seen in vs 13-18. He created the intricate parts of your being. He knit and put you together while you were in your mother's womb. Before you were even conceived, my God knew you. Medical science is still trying to figure out how the human body works because it is such a complex and wonderful unit. But only your Creator knows how it fully works. The human body works like a perfect unit because He who made you is perfect.

Some of us might've yelled at our friends or parents, "you don't know me, you don't know what I'm going through?" Well, you're right. The only person that truly knows you, He is the Lord Jesus Christ. He knows you by your name and He calls you His own. Before even time began, your life was in His hands. He knows how long you're going to live. It's written in His book. Before you even lived through your days, He knows it all together.

Read vs 17,18: His thoughts of you are precious. He considers you and thinks of you on a daily basis. If you tried to count the times He thought of you, you'd fall asleep counting because it's more than the grains of sand. For a God who created the world and all that we see with great amazement but still thinks of you, that must mean you are worth something to Him. You are precious and dear to Him. Of all created things, you are His best creation. That's why He thinks of you so much because He cares if you do the right or the wrong. How many times have we thought of Him? Have you ever thought of Him? When we were out there with our "busy" lives, did we think of Him? But He still thinks of you. His hand was always there guiding you, nudging you to the right direction but sometimes we don't listen. He still held you close with His right hand, so that you were out of harms way. When you are going through the darkest days, He was right there with you. When you cried those tears in the darkest place/room in your house thinking no one is watching, He was there right next to you. He saw those tears and stored them. Did you know that He stores your tears?

Read Psalm 56:8-9: There's a place in heaven with a room that's filled with bottles of tears. He sees each tear that fall and hears you when you call. He keeps a record of it in that room.

Looking at verse one, ask God to see what's in your heart and know what is there. To know what you're thinking. See if there's anything in your life He doesn't like. To help you live in the way that is pleasing and acceptable to him. Let's make a decision as this year comes to an end to serve the Lord and live for him more. God bless you with these words.

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Psalm 115: Put our trust only in God
Lijo Varghese

I was thinking about some of the current events going on around us recently and something that caught my attention was the story of an 89-year old civil engineer from California. His name is Harold Camping.

I'm sure most of you know by now the story behind this man and the recent events that unfolded, so I don't want to go into too much detail about it.

What I am more interested in talking about are his followers. It intrigued me that one man can cause so much mayhem and lead so many people down the wrong path.

What it tells me is that there are a great number of people that are yearning for God and yearning to do His will. Of course in this case, they went about it all wrong! These people, even though they had good intentions, made the disastrous mistake of trusting in a man rather than trusting in God alone.

There is a story of a man who drove to California on May 21st hoping that at 6pm he would see Jesus. Again, while his intentions were good, he was counting on the capacity of a man instead of looking to God for hope.

Harold Camping was a mathematician, who by claiming to have figured out the moment of the second coming of Jesus, sought his own glory and not the glory of God.

Let us look at Psalm 115:

V 1 talks about giving God the glory due to His name. It says it twice "Not to us, O Lord, Not to us…". Not to us be the glory but to the Lord alone.

Another famous verse that I am reminded of at this moment is found in Psalm 146:3.

The story of Harold Camping is a great example of the failure you face when you put your trust in man and not in God alone.

Vs 2 and 3 talk about people questioning God. While it is interpreted that these are non-believers, I think that even the faithful sometimes get weary and question God.

When that happens, it gives people like Harold Camping a chance to convince children of God to look to them for salvation. They even claim that they are men of God when they are "wolves in sheep's clothing".

Vs 4-8 talks about those who worship idols and v 8 says that those who make them and trust them will end up being like them.

What this means for believers is that the minute you lose focus on God and look to the "things below", you will be in danger of being destroyed along with all the other things that are of this world.

Vs 9 and 10 remind Israel to continue to trust in the Lord who in times past was their help and their shield.

It is not a new thing that God's people went astray from God and looked to other things for salvation. In the Old Testament times, we see that Israel grew weary of waiting for Moses to come down from the mountain and looked to Aaron to make them an idol.

History also has shown that in times of weakness people will look to a leader and that leader can take them down the path of destruction.

We see this in Biblical times with Aaron and also in WWII in Germany under Adolf Hitler. He similarly took advantage of the poor condition the people of that country were in and took control.

The point is again, the ways of man lead to destruction but the ways of God lead to everlasting life.

Vs 11 and 13 say that if you fully trust in the Lord and fear Him, He will bless you and help you.

Those that trust in the "Harold Campings" of the world will time and time again be let down.

Let us not grow weary and let us continue to wait upon the Lord.

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Psalm 19: Designer behind the design
Koshy "Siju" John

When the great physicist Albert Einstein was asked if he believed in God, he responded: "We are in the position of a little child entering a huge library filled with books in many languages. The child knows someone must have written those books. It does not know how. That, it seems to me, is the attitude of even the most intelligent human beings toward God. We see the universe marvelously arranged and obeying certain laws but only dimly understand these laws". Although Einstein marveled at the design he saw in nature, he did not believe in a personal Creator.

David wrote this particular Psalm. He shared Einstein's sense of awe about nature but took the next step and believed in the Designer behind the design. Verse 1 tells us "The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows His handiwork".

The wonder that we feel as we behold our universe should serve as a road sign pointing to the One who created it. The scriptures tell us exactly that in John 1:3:

"All things were made through Christ, and without Him nothing was made that was made". If you're struggling in your beliefs, look up at the stars any night. In the sky is crafted an amazing road sign pointing to the Designer behind the design. Amen!

"God wrote His autograph up in the sky, in the stars we can never see a signature so bright". Praise God.

Remember, the accuser of the brethren, Satan, is out there telling us otherwise. He will attack your mind with meaningless thoughts. All he has to do is put a little bit of doubt in your mind, and sometimes we'll run with that. This is exactly what he did in the Garden of Eden. "Did God really tell you not to eat from that tree? No, not this tree. You'll be like gods if you eat from this tree. That was enough for Adam and Eve, that simple doubt. So, we need to guard our thoughts on a daily basis. Read Phil. 4:8:

Perfect practice makes perfect or we hear practice makes perfect. But I believe perfect practice makes perfect. The famous philosopher Aristotle said, "We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an act but a habit."

"Fix (focus) your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice (putting into action over and over again) all you learned and received from me - everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.

When should we think on these things? All the time!! We must train ourselves to do this. Not just when we are in church or study time or prayer time or with other believers. BUT ALL THE TIME!!! When at work or with friends or nonbelievers - all the time, everywhere, always. Then our behavior will change, or WE WILL BEAR FRUIT, and our fruit will remain. THINKING IS SPIRITUAL - a transformed life (the fruit of the Spirit) is the result of a transformed mind. We are talking about the Word as a filter. Our secret thoughts shape our life. The human brain exercises 50,000 thoughts a day. 90% of our thoughts are from yesterday. This is the reason for our resistance to change. The Spirit fights against the flesh. Read Gal 5:16-18: Our old thoughts are fighting against the new.

Where did Jesus say these things come from? Matthew 15:18 says that out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. So, thinking is our responsibility.

Read Rom. 12:2: Transformation is a result of a renewed mind. When our minds are renewed, Circumstances take care of themselves. We write our own life story with every thought. Thinking negatively and expecting positive things is like planting arsenic and expecting peaches.

Lets start thinking positively, bearing the fruits of the Spirit, transforming our lives and the lives that we touch. Amen!!

When we live like this, the words of our mouth and the meditation of our hearts will be pleasing and acceptable in His sight, our Lord, our Rock and our Redeemer. Amen!!

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Love without borders
Marilyn Johnson

January 2008, old burdens resurfaced and I found myself in Maharashtra, India on a short-term mission's trip along with PYPA and India Pentecostal Assembly. We began our days in the city of Mumbai, with daily group devotions empowering us for the day ahead. Here, we met Navajeevandhara, a team of young people, who have dedicated their lives to spread the gospel of Christ through music ministry. We were also touched by the ministry of SEAL, an organization of believers who rescue the wounded, sickly and orphaned left to die in the streets of Mumbai.

Prior to leaving for Maharashtra, I vowed to be faithful in observing and learning all I could from those around me. However, my self-titled role as 'observer' was short lived. One morning, Pastor Finny asked if I would speak at an orphanage. I was petrified. "One willing heart is all God needs, the Holy Spirit will do the rest", my sister gently reminded me. Yet, each time Pastor asked me to speak, my mind was filled with conflict. I rummaged through every reason why I could not be the one God wanted to use. I was silenced by my fears. I felt ill-prepared and yet so fully determined to give something of myself to the children of Mumbai. The next morning, as I stood to my feet, a rush of boldness, love and power filled my entire being. Several portions of Scripture I had meditated on, took on new meaning as the Holy Spirit filled my mouth with His words. You see, God does something wonderful with our 'willingness'. It's quite surprising and unbelievably exciting to tap into this power that is beyond our understanding. Somewhere between "Praise God" and my last "Amen", God found a way to take me across the mental bridges I had built.

One evening, I recall the believers from the tribal villages of Navapur welcoming us with a garland ceremony. When I asked a young girl why we were being received in such a grand manner, she simply replied, "Do you not come in the name of Jesus Christ? Is this not how you should be welcomed? I realized then, the depth of love these men, women and children had for the Lord. They knew something that we so often forget - you only give your best to the Lord and His people.

We are a new generation of warriors whose strength does not come from skill, but obedience. For in God's army, it is always the obedient who trump the skillful. Obedience requires us to come out of our protective, comfortable turtle shells. There will always be an internal conflict; the desire to step forward and the impulse to retreat. Fortunately, from time to time, we get curious about how much courage we have inside of us and we are willing to move, to act, and to speak. I've learned that we can only cultivate this curiosity by making it an ordinary part of our lives.

There is a turning inside when you go on a mission's trip; when you stare at hungry, eager faces, searching for truth, love, and peace. You realize what you know is too powerful a truth to keep inside of you; too wonderful a love to lock within you.

The mission trip to Maharashtra changed my life. I see with greater clarity and better understand the greatness of God and the depth of His love for me. As the missionary C.L. Studd so aptly stated, "what is done on earth will quickly fade, only what is done for Christ will last...let us not glide through this world and then slip quietly into heaven, without having blown the trumpet loud and long for our Redeemer, Jesus Christ".

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Psalm 119:161-168 - Delight in God's Word
Koshy "Siju" John

There was a family, Scott and Mary Crickmore. They poured 15 years of their lives into helping to translate the New Testament in the Maasina dialect. This was the Fulani tribe in the West African nation of Mali.

After the initial draft, Mary visited nearby villages and read it to people. She sat in huts with a group of men or women listening to them discuss what they understood. That helped her to make sure the words they were using in translation were accurate and clear.

Some people would think that this family's sacrifice was too great - giving up their comfortable lifestyle, changing their diet to mush and rice, and living in less-than-ideal circumstances for those 15 years. But the Crickmore's say it was a "fair trade," because now the Fulani people have the Word of God in a language they can read.

The Psalmist also delighted in God's word. He stood in awe of it, rejoiced over it, loved it and obeyed it. He found great peace and hope in the word. Because of this family's sacrifice, the Fulani people are now able to discover the "great treasure" as mentioned in verse 162. Verse 164 says "7 times a day I praise you for your righteous ways." Some of us will be lucky to get one or two times a day in. One measure of our love for God is what we're willing to do to share His word with others. It's not the saved that needs help, but the lost.

How many of us have seen the slogan "life is good?" We've seen it on commercials, t-shirts, blimps, etc... Is it really good? Was it good for us in the past week? Sometimes we need to remind ourselves of that simple truth.

When the work of earning a living, raising a family, maintaining health and fitness, and managing relationships starts to overwhelm us, it's good to think about how small our part in the universe really is.

While we obsess and make a big fuss over it, God quietly does His. He keeps the earth rotating, the planets revolving, and the seasons changing. Amen!! Without any help from us, He makes the sun to rise every morning and set every evening. Every night He changes the pattern of the night-lights in the sky. He turns out the light so we can sleep, and turns it on again so we can see to go to work, school and be about our leisure time. Without lifting a finger, we get to enjoy sunrises and sunsets. Every year the seasons change on schedule. They change right on schedule. We don't need to pray about it or tell God that it's time to send spring. Everything He does reminds us that He is good. Read Acts 14:17

The verse says: "But He has given proof of what He is like. He has shown kindness by giving you rain from Heaven. He gives you crops in their seasons. He provides you with plenty of food. He fills your hearts with joy." Life will at times be difficult, often it is painful, and for now it is imperfect. But still it is good, for in all these things nothing can separate us from God's lavish expressions of love. Let's turn to Romans 8:38-39

The Spirit of the Lord is telling us today that "I am absolutely sure that not even death or life can separate us from God's love. Not even angels or demons, the present or the future, or any powers can do that. Not even the highest places or the lowest, or anything else in all creation can do that." Why?

Why does Paul think this way? Paul clears that question or thought at the end of that verse.

"Nothing at all can ever separate us from God's love because of what Christ Jesus our Lord has done."

Dear brothers and sisters, I'm telling you today that God loves you. Each and every one of you. His love is unconditional. His love is everlasting. If you've been running away from Him, He's calling you today to come back home. Turn to Romans 10:9-13.

What's written there? "Say with your mouth, Jesus is Lord. Believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead. Then you will be saved. With your heart you believe and are made right with God. With your mouth you say that Jesus is Lord. And so you are saved." The scripture says the one who trust in Him will never be put to shame.

There is no difference between those who are Jewish and those that are not, not anymore. The same Lord is Lord of all. He richly blesses everyone who calls on the name of the Lord. The scripture says, everyone ... everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved." Amen!! God bless you.

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Psalm 119:9-16 - Places left untended
Koshy "Siju" John

A family had just arrived at the lake cottage they had rented for a week's vacation. They came there with much anticipation. But the wife had discovered spiders and mice in the house. It's not like they've never encountered these things, but they had expected the cottage to be cleaned and prepared for their stay there. Instead, the counters, cabinets, and beds were littered with the residue of infestation, requiring much cleaning before they settled in. It wasn't a bad house; it had just been left untended.

We might be guilty of dealing with our hearts the way that cottage was managed. Our "untended places" can become breading grounds for infestations of wrong thinking, poor attitudes, or sinful behaviors - creating problems that require significant attention to correct. The wise path is to recognize our need to tend our hearts by staying in God's Word and embracing in its truths.

In Psalm 119:11, the Psalmist recognized the danger of not building our lives on the scriptures. He said, "Your Word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You." With a focus on the Word, we can build strong spiritual lives that will help us avoid the dangers that inevitably grow in untended places. To grow spiritually strong, we have to read the Word. Read Prov6:16-19

When I was younger, one of our favorite board games was Risk. World conquest was the objective. Each player mobilized his troops to take possession of countries and continents. It always amused me that the person who initially was leading the game usually does not win. The reason is obvious. When other players sensed his mounting pride, they would join together against him.

Whether consciously or unconsciously, it's easy to dislike powerful people who have proud looks. Their very countenance seems to encourage others to throw obstacles in their paths or to be silent objectors. This is because everyone has a sense of pride within himself or herself. So one persons pride will not let the next person to be proud.

This portion from Proverbs tells us that God hates 7 things. The first is Pride. When someone overvalues himself by undervaluing others, he inevitably reveals it with his proud look. Puffed up in self-conceit, he may also devise evil and sow discord or an uproar. This is why God hates proud looks. Proud and powerful people may think they can disregard the displeasure of others, but they cannot disregard God's opposition. Read 1Peter 5:6

Peter reminds us not to trust in ourselves but in the One who will exalt us in "due time." It's not our time, but His time for us. As we submit to Him, we avoid the risk that pride brings to our character and we become thankful, humble servants of God. Amen!! No one can glorify self and Christ at the same time.

Pride is the sin that caused Satan's fall and ours too. We see that in Gen 3:1-6. The devil came in the form of a serpent and discovered them. He told them they would be like gods. He lied, cheated, and killed them. Because of their disobedience and pride of wanting to be like God, they lost the glory they were in. They were created to be eternal beings. But they lost that and death entered the world. Lucifer was the son of the morning. But he wanted to be like the Most High because of his pride. Read Isaiah 14:12-15 and Ezekiel 28:13-15

Lucifer was the chief Musician and the most beautiful angelic being God made. The other angels made comments on how great he looks and how wonderful the music sounds when he leads. This made him think big of himself and he took a (1/3)third of the angels in heaven to rebel against God. But God stripped him and his minions of their heavenly beauty and glory. They were cast down to the earth. These are the demons or evil spirits we hear of.

Notice: The devil took a third of the angels with him to go against God. Why didn't he go and handle it alone? This is because he was a coward. He was a coward then and his is a coward now. He is still going around the world like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour. The devil is at work and he is trying to get as many people on his side as possible. He who has an ear, let him listen.

Another warning the Spirit of God is telling us today is beware when you listen to music. Make sure you're listening to the right kind of music because he will fill your mind and heart with the things of the world through music. Remember, Lucifer was the number one musician in heaven. So he knows more about music than you think and he knows how to manipulate you. He knows your weaknesses. But don't be afraid, our Lord defeated him on the cross. He has given you the victory over the devil already. Victory is certainly yours. So fill your heart with the Word of God. Meditate on it day and night. Seek it early in the morning. Learn to love it, because it is a lamp unto your feet and light unto your paths. The Word is the Sword of the Spirit.

Ephesians 6:11-18 tells us exactly that.

Jesus Himself used the Word of God to defeat Satan when He was tempted in the wilderness 40 days and 40 nights. How much more will we need it? So learn and hide the word in your heart. So when trials and temptations come, you'll be well equipped with the Sword of the Spirit.

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