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July 3rd, 2012

Jesus Refuses To Heal, Thrice

Jesus Refuses To Heal Thrice

Jesus often resists to grant the several prayers petitioned to Him. He does not give away, just like that for free. He often refuses. He may humiliate. He may intimidate. He may discriminate. He often tests. He may grant you your dark hour. In Matthew 15:21-28 we read the three rounds of denials before a miracle is delivered to the daughter of the Canaanite woman, pursuant to the intercessory trial of her biological mother – the Canaanite woman. The dark hour of the Canaanite woman with Jesus.

Jesus is not always easy to go with, if one takes on Him. He tests faith, before he delivers the Glory of God. In my world as a Cost Accountant, we implement performance management systems to reward performance in organisations. I remember what my counsellor Bro Paulose, during my retreat at Christu Jyothi in 1999. He said, “Kingdom of God, is for the determined. You need the strength and tactic of an unreserved-passenger getting into an overcrowded Kerala State Transport bus”.

You have to use the strength of your determination, to overcome the hurdles of tests and faith to qualify for an explicit miracle from Jesus. With His Grace, strategy of competing in the test of faith will produce profitable results. Jesus has responded with silence, taken more time, allowing some deliberate delays and presented some unusual excuses before he granted miracles for several of the prayers. We try to discern, a sample of the process practiced by Jesus in delivering a miracle, granting a prayer, in enacting the drama of salvation to the daughter of the Canaanite woman.

Jesus denies to cure, The First time

The Canaanite mother is praying to Jesus to save her demon-possessed daughter. First, I observe the presence of a relationship between the intercessor and the affected – a mother and daughter relationship. She then prays to Jesus as an intercessor on behalf of her daughter. And Matthew 15: 23 records, Jesus did not answer a word in response to her prayer.

By not answering, Jesus denied her the first time. Or by silence he discounted the prayer value down to zero. Often silence is His communication style, before a miracle. A prayer being un-answered is thus the labour pain preceding the birth of a miracle. I see this silence when the sisters Martha and Mary prayed for the healing of their dying brother Lazarus.

In several places Jesus is a “silent God”, a “blind God”, a “deaf God” , a “sleeping God” until we burn our faith offering in good volumes, until we breath out enough faith, until we build the bridge of faith to an adequate length, until we climb high enough on the graph of faith, establishing a live Holy Spirit connection between our prayer and His miracle. Let us examine how the Canaanite mother laboured her pain to give birth to a miracle for her demon-possessed daughter.

Jesus refuses to cure, The Second time

Since the mother was humble enough, she did not feel hurt by the way Jesus ignored her prayer. Fr Varghese said, “It is our pride, which prevents us from pursuing prayer”. Once we are intimidated by the silence of Jesus, by the first rejection by Jesus, our pride is hurt, we are frustrated and quick to abandon. Our faith is burnt out by the dry heat of silence, by the storm of a ridicule, by the non-conforming behaviour of a church member.

She, did not weigh her shame against her prayer. She prayed again and again weighing her faith in Jesus with the love she had for her daughter. She was humble, she was determined, so she prayed again ignoring the silent intimidation of Jesus. Her determination was overwhelming the silence of a powerful and silent God. As Jesus reduced the decibel of his response to zero, she increased the decibel of her faith proportionately. As Jesus went silent, she went louder. As Jesus intimidated, she overcame her shame with her determination, her humility, her faith.

Here I discern that the disciples including apostles intercede for her cause, so that they are saved the shame of a crying mother pestering Jesus. They also intercede with their style of prayer with Jesus to get rid of the “discomfort” of a praying, crying petitioner. The apostles, at that hour, display a low valuation for the Charisma of Jesus to perform a miracle. They ask Jesus to just give away a miracle , a cure, to save them from the shame of a crying, nagging Canaanite mother. The Charism of the Holy Spirit are not given away to keep beggars away from us. Charism of the Holy Spirit to perform miracles is not a piece of bone to saves us from the annoying bark of a street dog. Jesus shows no mercy and is firm and raises his Second denial.

This denial is in the form of a technical, legal, legitimate objection. He does not have adequate powers, adequate authority, and adequate relationship with the petitioner. Jesus disowned the crying mother as a non-Israelite. He discriminated her. He defined his domain as “exclusive to the lost sheep of Israel.” And she was outside his focus. She does not matter to his mission or mandate. She is not in the Will of His Father. She is an outcast, she is not a child of God, she is just another human being descended from the several sins after Adam and Eve, but not a child of Abraham. She is a dog. She cannot compete for his attention. She is disqualified to enter the race of faith.

Thus Jesus raised the technical and legal excuse to restrict his mission to Israelites. He was unwilling to extend his value to the non-Israelites. Here Jesus is declaring loud at that hour, that it is illegal to the mandate given by His Father to deliver the Glory of God to an out-cast. He loudly discriminates the crying mother. The apostles showed more mercy than Jesus. They were more inclusive than Jesus. They were more secular and modern than their Master. Or may be they did not understand the exchange value the power required for a miracle, or valued them so less, relatively; so that it can be given away, for the first and second asking, to save their ears from the nagging cry of a Canaanite woman.

Jesus refuses to heal, The Third time

In spite of the Jesus ignoring her, the praying mother knocked at the ears and eyes of Jesus, into the mouth of Jesus. She prayed shamelessly, and the Word of God broke its silence and blocked her flow of prayer with an insulting dam, she was downgraded to a dog, she was discriminated, and the language was as abusive and insulting then as it could be today. Do you re-call this rude, aggressive Jesus, but here he is, surrounded by the caucus of his disciples, taunting the poor, mother.

I had since shared this part of Jesus, to a friend of mine. And I asked him, what will you do, if you present your son’s need for the medical miracle, and the anointed Priest denies a counsel to you saying, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs. See you no more”. He loves his son, who needs a medical miracle. But his answer was I will be very angry and throw away my prayers at night vigil and go my way, will not attend the service by that priest any more, I may even diminish or wipe out my faith. And this is a Son of St Thomas, son of Abraham attending a Syro Malabar service in Perth.

There are a few whose feelings got hurt, when they were denied by the Parish Priest, a counsellor, a prayer leader and for that reason, refuses to enter church and prayer again and some have even re-valued their faith to a non-performing asset, pursuing for a foreclosure. The Canaanite woman is the role model for all who are insulted by church and its leaders.

Jesus is not the God of the Proud. Jesus is the God of the abused, the discriminated, the denied, the ignored, the spat, the God of dogs and bitches. On his way to his Cross, he was abused, discriminated, denied, ignored, spat and was treated lesser than a stray dog. He was a worm.

The Break-even Point of Miracle – From labour to birth

A prayer being un-answered is thus the labour pain preceding the birth of a miracle. In my profession, as a Cost Accountant, we use the term break-even point, where the income equals the costs of earning the same income. The costs are classified as fixed and variable in relationship to the business of earning income.

Read The Poem: I believe in miracles

When we enter into the domain of a miracle, we should have a starting firm faith (similar to fixed costs). Then the production of miracle, is the variable component of faith, in proportion to the specific challenges on faith posted by Jesus. Once we overwhelm the Lord, with our variable and proportionate volume of faith, in competitive measure, we win, Jesus wins. Faith triumphs, even over a live and active Word of God.

– – – written by Johnson Edakalathur

February 10th, 2012

What Does Crossing The River Jordan Mean?

Crossing The River Jordan

God instructs us to obey every commandment and to occupy the land promised to us.

Lewis and Clark spearheaded the westward expansion of United States of America from St Louis. A memorial on the banks of Mississippi reminds us of the westward expansion of America. The famous memorial is the arch at St Louis.

Crossing of The River Jordan

Thousands of years ago God asked Joshua to make a memorial to commemorate the crossing of river Jordan. The memorial was erected to remember another westward expansion. This expansion was a God-ordained expansion.

Joshua 3:14-17 — So when the people broke camp to cross the Jordan, the priests carrying the ark of the covenant went ahead of them. Now the Jordan is at flood stage all during harvest. Yet as soon as the priests who carried the ark reached the Jordan and their feet touched the water’s edge, the water from upstream stopped flowing. It piled up in a heap a great distance away, at a town called Adam in the vicinity of Zarethan, while the water flowing down to the Sea of the Arabah (that is, the Dead Sea) was completely cut off. So the people crossed over opposite Jericho. The priests who carried the ark of the covenant of the LORD stopped in the middle of the Jordan and stood on dry ground, while all Israel passed by until the whole nation had completed the crossing on dry ground.

The Israelites crossed the Jordan. The river parted when the feet of the high priest touched the water. The high priest carried the Ark of the Covenant. Every Israelite walked on dry ground and reached the other side of the river while the priest held the Ark of the Covenant. God instructed Joshua to get twelve stones representing the twelve tribes of Israel and to erect a memorial commemorating the crossing of river Jordan.

What does it mean by crossing river Jordan?

What does it mean by westward expansion? What does it mean by the memorial of twelve stones? How should we behave in the new land? What has changed when we crossed the river?

Crossing river Jordan is the most significant thing in the life of any person. We cross from the old order to the new order. We cross from old habits to new habits. We cross from the old paganism and slavery to the freedom of the new world. We cross from sinful life to holy life. We cross from complaining to God to complimenting God. We have a new vigor. We are born again.

God instructs us to obey every commandment and to occupy the land promised to us. He will give us spiritual authority over the land where we walk. We are elevated to higher level of accountability and responsibility. We cannot complain any more. We are mature. We are carrying the palpable and manifest presence of God. We should be careful to treat the holy of holies with the great respect. We cannot be indifferent anymore.

There are consequences when we take the crossing of Jordan lightly. Remember how Jericho fell when people worshipped God with a clean heart. Remember how Joshua’s men fell at Ai when Achan stole the possessions of Ai. We cannot win a battle when there is sin in the camp. We cannot serve a holy God with unholy minds after crossing the Jordan.

Read the article: Sacred Jordan River

When we cross the Jordan, we are transformed into the nature of Christ! Remember, it is a one way crossing. We can never go back.

January 22nd, 2012

Nothing Is Impossible For God

Nothing Is Impossible For God

Faith is trust in a person that He will not leave us alone. Faith in God is the strong assurance one has at the bottom of his or her heart that all those things that are impossible for human being are possible for God.

Once I had an opportunity to interact with a couple and our discussion is still fresh in my mind. The Husband is around 48 years old and the wife is 46. They have no children yet. They prayed a lot but no answer was favored to them. With great enthusiasm I asked them a question, “Do you still pray for a child even today in this situation? Do you believe that God can work miracles even in this crisis?”

Their response was just a hum which was so interesting and thought-provoking. I believe that the answer cannot be Yes, as I noticed their grieving face, desperate eyes and in their eyes I could read the answer to my question “How can a child be conceived at this age? Even the uterus was also removed due to the illness” there is no scope for a different answer than this.

This made me to think more about the man’s faith in God. Most of our faith is not much different from those couple I interacted with. Since there is always a logic involved in our faith like that of the couple, our trust is more relying on our abilities than God’s power to do greater things in our lives.

1. Child who is brilliant and has the capabilities to study better will win in the Exams
2. Since the uterus is capable and the age is suitable, a child may be conceived..
3. Since the body is responding to medicine, healing may happen.

Our logical thought goes like this; If that is the case, the God who formed the heaven and earth even before you were formed in your mother’s womb and given you name is an omnipotent God and for Him everything which is impossible for man is possible.

Abraham and Sarai

Nothing different is the experience of Abraham the father of all believers and his beloved wife Sarai. Genesis 13:14-16 says that “The Lord said to Abram, after Lot had separated from him; Raise your eyes now and look from the place where you are, northward and southward and eastward and westward” For all the land that you see I will give to you and your ‘offspring’ forever. I will make your offspring like the dust of the earth, so that if one can count the dust of the earth, your offspring also can be counted. Rise up, walk through the length and breadth of the land for I will give it to you. What a strange promise when one looks at this with his logic because Abram is Childless when God promised this and they must have longed for a child after Abram and Sarai become one.

Still Abram was sure that God will favor his prayers and God is faithful to his promises and that is the reason that Abram went towards the Promised land which is offered to his own descendents even when he was childless. Abraham experiences a delay to reach in to God’s promises and probably which could have caused his heart to go dim and to doubt than trusting in God’s promises.

Again the merciful and compassionate God speak to Abraham in a vision that we read in Genesis 15:1-6, “After these things, the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision, ‘Do not be afraid Abram, I am your shield, your reward shall be very great. But Abram said, ‘O Lord God what will you give me, for I continue childless and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Demascus?’ And Abram said, you have given me no offspring, and so a slave born in my house is to be my heir.’

But the word of the Lord came to him, “This man shall not be your heir no one but your very own child shall be your heir.” He brought him outside and said “look towards heaven and count the star, if you are able to count them”. Then he said to him “so shall your descendents be and he believed the Lord and the Lord reckoned it to him as righteousness.

However, after long-awaited interval Abraham still experience the withdrawing faith and he listened to Sarah’s words and obeyed Sarah’s advice to go to her slave girl and obtain children by her. It clearly tells us that even Abraham or Sarah could not believe what God promising many a times in their lives before.

However, we see the merciful and compassionate God again and again intervening in his life and promising the same thing even at his age of 99 in Genesis 17: 1-6 God tells him “I am God Almighty; walk before me, and be blameless. And I will make my covenant between me and you, and make you exceedingly numerous.” Then Abram fell on his face, God said to him, as for me this is my covenant with you: You shall be the ancestor of a multitude of Nations. No longer shall your name be Abram but your name shall be Abraham; for I have made you the multitude of nations; and I will make you exceedingly fruitful. “

Now it is Sarai’s turn because the logic is that a woman cannot conceive after certain age, and see in Genesis that God even making Abrams heart strong to believe that everything is possible for God we see in Genesis 17:15-19, God said to Abram, “As for Sarai your wife, you shall not call her Sarai but Sarah shall be her name. I will bless her and moreover I will give you a son by her. I will bless her and she shall give rise to nations; King of people shall come from her. At this time when God spoke to him Abram fell on his face and laughed as his logic questioned him if a child can be born to such an old lady like Sarah who was 99 years old and Abraham who was 100 years old.

However, even the merciful and compassionate God comes down to meet Abraham again and again whose faith had grown down and could not believe in God’s providence and promises as he being completely a human being crammed with logics.

In Genesis 18:9-15, God appears to him and ask where is your wife Sarah, “There in the tent, then one said, I will surely return to you in due season and your wife Sarah shall have a son.” Sarah was also listening to this conversation at the tent entrance behind him, could not believe as to how can an old woman like her and her old husband have pleasure was her argument.

Still what had happened in their lives? Abraham and Sarah’s life is not different from those couples whom I had introduced you before. Genesis 21 ;1-2 gives us an answer to that question” The Lord dealt with Sarah as he had said, and the Lord did for Sarah as he had promised. Sarah conceived and bore Abraham a son in his old age at the time of which God had spoken to him.Here we clearly understand that one who waits for God’s own time will experience God’s greater miracle. The wonder here is that the Bible says that the 99-year-old lady nursed her son Issac with her own milk till he grew up instead of substituting it with any other food.

All these incidents in Abraham and Sarah’s life gives us ample evidence and proof that nothing is impossible for God Almighty and God works in one’s life in his own time. Therefore, it is good to believe in God’s power and ability than trusting in one’s own abilities and capabilities. God can work in your life in a mighty way even when there is no hope in your life and you feel you are left out with no scope for things according to your logic and ‘reasons. If you are willing to believe strongly inside your heart that God will do great things in your life, certainly it will be done for you.

The wax melts at a certain degree Celsius is a scientific proof and hence we believe it. However, faith means believing that God can work even where science has no scope. Each and every Christian has a call to grow in faith which goes above ones logic. If Christian life is not growing beyond rituals and if the rituals are not becoming an outward expression of an intimate and unbreakable relationship with Christ, One cannot experience the depth of the deep-rooted faith in God’s ability. It is difficult for a human being to have such strong faith in God when his logic rules him.

When we question about the place of God in Man’s life, the answer is correct that the place of God in Man’s life is extremely high. However, man’s reasoning limits him to think about God as a powerful person who is extremely high and above from man’s reach and slow in answering his prayers. However when we realize that our Lord is the God who is powerful, compassionate and merciful and that He came down from the heavens to the earth to live with us humans, we will flee from our sins and come out from the lack of faith in his abilities and will have a passionate desire to live with him and this will enable us to acquire a strong faith to believe that nothing is impossible for God.

Read Nothing is impossible for The Lord

When God becomes an intimate and loving family member who always stays with us, we stop wandering for materialistic pleasures and seeking reasons in everything else than God’s ability. May the Holy Spirit help us to experience him more closely so as to have a strong faith in his ability.

– – – written by Thomas Philip

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