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August 24th, 2015

Encounter With Jesus

Encounter With Jesus

When we travel, say a train journey, we meet people. They are not friends but we call them acquaintances. But certain people who enter our lives help us, support us, stand by us, transforming us to reach the sky, the zenith of glory, the summit of success or the pinnacle of joy. Such transformation leaves everlasting memories, gratitude and breath of a new life in our hearts.

Encounter with Jesus

The word ENCOUNTER means “bring a change after contact so that you are no more the old self.” i.e. leaves an impression on someone. The same happens with our relationship with Jesus. We all know him as God, His life, His glorious finish and so on. This knowledge cannot help us in any way.

When Jesus was walking along the roads of Jerusalem and Judea many people flocked around him. They were all gifted to see him face to face which none of us got. Yet how many of them benefited? Only the ones who allowed Jesus to transform them completely.

Let us now look at three encounters people had with Jesus:

1. Bartimaeus [Mark 10:46-52]

Bartimaeus, a beggar on the roadside, totally blind, has heard so many talk about a man named Jesus. He pondering over His power, fully desires to meet Jesus, awaits with anxiety, as his last chance of hope in life. Bartimaeus cries out yelling in full surrender “Jesus, son of David, have mercy on me” as He passes by him. Jesus, fully aware of the situation, moves forward. Now the beggar hears (for he cannot see) the sound fade and Jesus moving beyond him, his last ray of hope fading, throws himself and yells “Jesus, son of David, have mercy on me”. Now Jesus turns back, calls him and asks “What can I do for you?”. He answers “I want to see You”. That is it. His sight was restored! This is what Encounter is all about!

2. The Woman with Hemorrhage [Luke 8:43-48]

A woman with heavy bleeding for 12 years comes to Jesus, “For she said in herself, If I may touch but his garment only, I shall be whole.” A huge crowd was pressing Jesus, still He particularly felt some power leaving him. He knew that a woman with full hope of being healed is touching Him. Jesus asks “Who touched me?” Peter says “Master, the multitude throng thee and press thee, and sayest thou, Who touched me?”. This is the difference between being pressed by a crowd and touched by a single one with faith, full of hope and surrender to be transformed. At this perfect timing healing becomes instantaneous. The woman certainly had an Encounter with Jesus.

3. Martha and Mary [John 11]

The dynamics between the two sisters and Jesus is just awesome, revealing and releasing many graces and blessings in stages. When Lazarus dies, the whole of Bethany gather in their home in mourning. Martha comes to know that Jesus is in town. She runs to the street, meets Jesus and says “Lord, if you had been here my brother would not have died”. Then she runs home, tells her sister and brings her to Jesus and now Mary repeats every word of Martha “Lord, if you had been here my brother would not have died”. Jesus is deeply moved and seeing the crowd weeping He too weeps. The crowd says “He who opened the eyes of the blind, can he not prevent this man from dying?” Again Jesus is deeply moved. Now comes the glorious finish. “Lazarus come out”! The whole audience then had an encounter with Jesus…dumb struck, standing in awe to see a dead man coming out to dine with them! Amen.

We can go on with many more examples like Centurion, Zacchaeus, Leper – they all had a desire to go to Jesus with their whole heart and faith. We also see that Judas, Pilate, High Priest, Herod, Pharisees – they all had the greatest chance of seeing Jesus face to face, yet they were lost in their own world of mortality, filled with hidden agendas and missed the mark and lost the valuable eternal life.

Let us seek Jesus to get transformed, to have an encounter with full confidence, hope, trust and faith, without even the slightest ray of doubt or apprehension. We are sure to be transformed in our six areas [Job 5:19] of life viz: physical, mental, spiritual, family, society and finance. Amen!

– – – written by Cecilia Francis

August 5th, 2015

Adultery and Idolatry

Adultery and Idolatry

24 Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, 25 because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.

26 For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; 27 and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.

28 And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. 29 They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32 Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them. [Romans 1:24-32]

Ten Commandments into One Commandment

This passage is nothing but the ten commandments (Exodus 20:1-17) put in a different way! The first 3 commandments tell us how to relate to God and the other 7 tell us how to relate to fellow beings. They fall under two main categories: Adultery and Idolatry.

I would put all the 10 as one commandment i.e. “DO NOT TAMPER THE IMAGE OF GOD THAT IS IN YOU”

Male and Female

The word of God is 100% absolute truth and 100% pure and full of life, valid anywhere anytime. The Holy Bible is a book beyond space and time. So just follow The Word. Genesis 1:27 says “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them”. It is not written male OR female but male AND female.

“He is before all things, and in him all things hold together”[Colossians 1:17]. Every tissue in our body is bound and has the shape of cross. Our God is a Father and Mother to us. He has both the nature and He is beyond gender.

The Image of God – The Image of the Cross

Suppose for example, we take the image of God to be a cross with 2 lines.
1. Vertical (male)
2. Horizontal (female)

When God created Adam, He blew His breath into his nostrils. But when Eve was made, He removed a part of Adam and brought her to life. That is why when they come together, they reproduce the full image of God through matrimony, a replica or model of Christ and Church (unlike animal union). In marriage their souls become one and this soul is the throne, the temple of God, united by God and no man shall undo this.

Our life should be so that the image of the cross (God’s image) becomes zoomed in, starting from:
1. A single cell
2. Our body – a temple of God
3. Marriage
4. Family – with husband as head, wife the body and children as the blood
5. Church – with Christ as head and members as the body
6. The whole world – the world as one body with one God, Lord Jesus Christ

Single people, religious people, widows and widowers can complete this image by fixing their thoughts on God. If God is absent, they will tend to lead astray.

Adultery

In our relationship to fellow beings we must always be conscious of the sacred image not being tampered. Except the sacred marriage, all other relationships add more lines in the image of the cross and the Cross will not be a cross any more. Homosexuality (lesbians and gays) and self-abuse of the body are not from God. Some people argue that they are homosexuals by birth. No, God never created them so.

In Romans 1:24-32, we see the words “GOD GAVE THEM UP” three times. Not only those who practice but also those who approve or stay silent and support such deeds. The punishment is “deserve to die” (Romans 1:32). All sins related to adultery like prostitution, pre and post-marital relationship cravings physically or mentally or emotionally produce severe distorted or mosaic image, tampering the original image of the cross.

Idolatry

Romans 1:25 says “they served the creature rather than the Creator.” The word IMAGE means copy, replica, a symbolic of the original. So we always have an original. But the word IDOL means ‘false’ in thesaurus. Thus any craving towards any person, properties, things, hero-worship of self or others, addictions, other practices that take you far away from God is idolatry. When you run after false things, removing His beautiful image in you, LIFE ceases and you begin only to EXIST and die in flesh, becoming mortal like animals, for the soul is already dead. It is as dangerous as that.

Ten commandments strongly protect us from “TAMPERING THE IMAGE OF GOD THAT IS IN US”. Take care to see nothing removes the image of God in you! Amen.

– – – written by Cecilia Francis

July 18th, 2015

The Seven Deadly Sins

The Seven Deadly Sins

What is Sin?

Sin is separation from God and thus separation from source of Life. That is why death is a consequence of sin. Only through Jesus we understand the abysmal dimension of sin [Youcat 67]. Anything that takes you away from your prayer life, your communication with God and reverts your priority, is a sin.

What is your priority?

Our priority should follow this order:

1. God
2. Family
3. Career
4. Ministry
5. Charity and Outreach

When these priorities get shuffled, it leads to chaos, a messy life, an uncontrolled chain reaction I should say! A series of sin and disaster follows. The Devil comes to ‘KILL, STEAL, DESTROY’. He kills the presence of God in you, steals your peace of mind and destroys your soul to mortality. This is the abysmal dimension of sin. “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” [John 10:10]

The Seven Deadly Sins

Classifying sins based on their roots of cardinal nature, we have Lust, Pride, Greed, Gluttony, Anger, Sloth and Envy. All other sins will fall under one of these categories.

Vice and Virtue: St.Ignatian spirituality on virtues and vices, gives us a practical exercise to overcome the vices through virtues. All we have to do is just march opposite to the direction of vice, towards virtue, towards God…our way, truth and life.

A VIRTUE is something we do with PASSION. A VICE is something which we cannot stop because of PASSION. So both are habit-forming. Nobody is a born smoker or a daily mass goer. The passion makes them pursue. Therefore once we master our habits and replace vices with virtues we win. For every vice, there is a virtue. We must take a 180 degree turn and march in the opposite direction literally, towards the virtue.

Seven Deadly Sins In Detail

1. Lust: This desire comes as lust of eyes or flesh, nobody is in exception to it and no age limit too. It’s just like placing food before a hungry person. This can be overcome by filling ourselves with true unconditional, pure love of a Mother (whatever gender we may be) and passing this love to that person in abundance without getting annoyed. This would build an everlasting relationship pure and dependable. Even pornography can be overcome by looking with the eyes of a Mother with the grace from above.

2. Pride: Just humble yourself before God and others, following Jesus who is the masterpiece of Humility. ‘But emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men and being found in human form he humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross.’ [Philippians 2:7,8]

3. Greed: Avarice or craving for material perishable things can be overcome by realizing that nothing is precious before our IMMORTAL and INVISIBLE God. Once this is well understood, generosity flows like a fountain as in the life of Zacchaeus. Now to the King of ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen. [1 Timothy 1:17]

4. Gluttony: Practice fasting following Lord Jesus. “Feeding the crowd, fasting alone” goes the song. When you skip meals due to work schedule it can cause fatigue. But proper fasting, backed up with long hours of prayers, silence and light work, will energize you and heal many sickness.

5. Anger: Jesus says ‘You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, You shall not kill; and whoever kills shall be liable to judgement. But I say to you that every one who is angry with his brother shall be liable to judgement’ [Matthew 5:21,22]. So anger is as grave as murder. The word of God is 100% true to the core. We must overcome anger by building the fruits of the spirit viz : self-control and patience.

6. Sloth: Wasting away time. Lack of prayer can slowly remove God’s presence in us. God’s path is a narrow door full of sacrifices and self denials. If your alarm rings at 5am and you are unable to get up, next day keep it at 4.50am and force yourself to get up. As days go by, even without alarm you will get up. This is what habit-forming is all about. ‘Strive to enter by the narrow door; for many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able.’ [Luke 13:24]

7. Envy: Jealousy is as cruel as the grave. It’s flashes are flashes of fire, a most vehement flame. [Song of Solomon 8:6] Jealousy, anger and killing go together. They not only destroy others, but much more the person who harbors them. Developing motherly love and compassion is the only way to overcome them.

Jesus was no exception to these temptations, he overcame them by fixing his eyes on God the Father, winning every battle one by one. So lets march ahead from vice towards virtue, towards Holiness, towards one and only true God.

Turn back to God. About turn…mark time…march.

– – – written by Cecilia Francis

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