Monday, May 28, 2012

But if we are on God's side, no foe is too great.


David’s Mighty Warriors

2 Samuel : 23 :8-23 These are the names of David’s mighty warriors:

Josheb-Basshebeth,[a] a Tahkemonite,[b] was chief of the Three; he raised his spear against eight hundred men, whom he killed[c] in one encounter.

9 Next to him was Eleazar son of Dodai the Ahohite. As one of the three mighty warriors, he was with David when they taunted the Philistines gathered at Pas Dammim[d] for battle. Then the Israelites retreated, 10 but Eleazar stood his ground and struck down the Philistines till his hand grew tired and froze to the sword. The Lord brought about a great victory that day. The troops returned to Eleazar, but only to strip the dead.

11 Next to him was Shammah son of Agee the Hararite. When the Philistines banded together at a place where there was a field full of lentils, Israel’s troops fled from them. 12 But Shammah took his stand in the middle of the field. He defended it and struck the Philistines down, and the Lord brought about a great victory.

13 During harvest time, three of the thirty chief warriors came down to David at the cave of Adullam, while a band of Philistines was encamped in the Valley of Rephaim. 14 At that time David was in the stronghold, and the Philistine garrison was at Bethlehem. 15 David longed for water and said, “Oh, that someone would get me a drink of water from the well near the gate of Bethlehem!” 16 So the three mighty warriors broke through the Philistine lines, drew water from the well near the gate of Bethlehem and carried it back to David. But he refused to drink it; instead, he poured it out before the Lord. 17 “Far be it from me, Lord, to do this!” he said. “Is it not the blood of men who went at the risk of their lives?” And David would not drink it.

Such were the exploits of the three mighty warriors.

18 Abishai the brother of Joab son of Zeruiah was chief of the Three.[e] He raised his spear against three hundred men, whom he killed, and so he became as famous as the Three. 19 Was he not held in greater honor than the Three? He became their commander, even though he was not included among them.

20 Benaiah son of Jehoiada, a valiant fighter from Kabzeel, performed great exploits. He struck down Moab’s two mightiest warriors. He also went down into a pit on a snowy day and killed a lion. 21 And he struck down a huge Egyptian. Although the Egyptian had a spear in his hand, Benaiah went against him with a club. He snatched the spear from the Egyptian’s hand and killed him with his own spear. 22 Such were the exploits of Benaiah son of Jehoiada; he too was as famous as the three mighty warriors. 23 He was held in greater honor than any of the Thirty, but he was not included among the Three. And David put him in charge of his bodyguard.

Surviving a physical wilderness takes more than the skills to build a shelter, start a fire, and purify water. It requires a certain psychology, a mindset, a will to live that overcomes the fear and stress associated with crisis. In fact, some people who possessed the skill still died when stranded in a physical wilderness because they lacked the will. And others who lacked the skill but had the will, found a way to survive.

Seeing in advance how the Lord will work evil or hurt for our benefit is very difficult, if not impossible. My limited human perspective doesn’t allow me to grasp His greater plan. However, I can confirm the truth of this biblical promise because the Father’s good handiwork appears all through my pain, hardship, and loss. I have experienced Him turn mourning into gladness and have seen Him reap bountiful blessings and benefits from my darkest hours.

As believers, we must accept that God won’t always make sense to us. Isaiah teaches that His ways and thoughts are higher than our own (Isa. 55:9). He sees the beautifully completed big picture. We can rely on the fact that God is in control, no matter how wildly off-kilter our world seems to spin.

When God goes to war, there are no accidents. Just as He uses Gideon and an army of only 300 to rout the Midianite army that was "without number," so He uses a boy with a slingshot to rout the Philistine army. In 2 Chronicles 18:33, "a certain man drew a bow at random," but it "struck the king of Israel between the joints of his armor." There are no accidents when God goes to war.

We can take comfort in this fact in relationship to the spiritual warfare in which we all find ourselves. The obstacles may seem insurmountable. But if we are on God's side, no foe is too great.

Blessings,

Raj Kosaraju

Friday, May 18, 2012

What does the Bible teach about human trafficking?"

They are trapped in lives of misery—often beaten, starved, and forced to work as prostitutes or to take grueling jobs as migrant, domestic, restaurant, or factory workers with little or no pay. We’re working hard to stop human trafficking—not only because of the personal and psychological toll it takes on society, but also because it facilitates the illegal movement of immigrants across borders and provides a ready source of income for organized crime groups and even terrorists.
 Human sex trafficking is becoming a big problem in not only the states, but the world. Sources say human trafficking is a 40-billion dollar a year industry world-wide. Human trafficking is a hard crime to get good statistics on because there is so much fear in the victims to come forward and the traffickers are usually very well hidden. Women are usually the ones taking in to trafficking crimes. They are unable to defend themselves and many of the women are immigrants in a foreign country with no resources to receive help. Women then are basically sold for sex and then receive very little if any payment in return for their sexual actions. Many women are raped repeatedly to make sure they understand their male attackers are in control. It is like the women are treated as property and not a human being.

Question: "What does the Bible teach about human trafficking?"

Answer:
Simply put, human trafficking is a modern term for slavery. Anytime a person is held in a forced labor situation, regardless of the reason, it is defined as human trafficking.

The United Nations defines human trafficking as “the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation. Exploitation shall include, at a minimum, the exploitation of the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labour or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude or the removal of organs.”

Experts have noted that human trafficking is the fastest growing criminal activity in the world and one of the most lucrative. Overall the International Labour Organization estimated the human trafficking industry at over $31 billion per year in 2005. Some estimate that as many as 29 million people exist in slavery worldwide, more than twice the number of slaves transported during the entire Trans-Atlantic slave trade.

The problem is clearly large and growing. What does the Bible teach about human trafficking? This question cannot adequately be answered without a clear understanding of God’s value of human life. The Bible records that when God created humans, He created them in His image (Genesis 1:26). Every life is of infinite value and God loves all individuals.

As a result, God teaches love for our neighbor (Matthew 19:19) as well as love for those in need (Luke 10:25-37). Jesus was the one who taught the Golden Rule: “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets” (Matthew 7:12). Further, Proverbs 31:8-9 teaches us to “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.” These principles certainly all apply to those hurt through the illegal practice of human trafficking.

How can people today practice these biblical principles of helping those in the bondage of slavery? First, we must pray for those in bondage. As James 5:16 notes, “The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” Human trafficking is a clear need that requires God’s power for any adequate change to occur.

Second, we must speak out on behalf of those in need (Proverbs 31:8-9). Those in our schools, businesses, churches, and community often are unaware of the problem of human trafficking and how to help. Perhaps God is calling you to be one of the people who would speak out and help provide justice to those without a voice in this area.

Third, we must act to help those in bondage. These actions can involve a variety of means, ranging from volunteering in an anti-trafficking organization to financial giving to teaching about the topic where you live. A growing number of organizations have emerged in recent years that provide new opportunities for Christians to serve in this area. International Justice Mission (www.ijm.org) provides many international opportunities, while others, such at Mercy Movement (www.mercymovement.com) concentrate on addressing the issue in the United States.

One additional way to provide practical assistance is through supporting fair trade and survivor-made products. Fair trade products include items sold by those who adhere to practices that remove any unfair labor practices, especially slavery. Coffee, teas, chocolate, and fresh flowers are common products that offer fair trade alternatives to help keep slavery out of the supply chain.

The retail chain Ten Thousand Gifts is an example of this practice applied to an entire store, while the Christian organization Worldcrafts (www.worldcrafts.org) offers the opportunity to buy international gifts from artisans who have escaped slave situations and other poverty-related conditions.

In summary, human trafficking is a gross indignity against men, women, and children who have been created in God’s image. As followers of Christ, we have a responsibility to pray, to speak out against human trafficking and modern slavery, and to live in ways that help create change in the lives of those impacted by this tragic crime.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

President Obama on same sex marriage



President Obama on same sex marriage-God is in the Mix.

“I believe that marriage is the union between a man and a woman,” Obama told Rick Warren. “Now, for me as a Christian, it’s also a sacred union. You know, God’s in the mix.”
Obama on Wednesday said his views on same-sex marriage have evolved and he openly offered his support for lesbians and gays to enter into that “sacred union” where “God’s in the mix.”

Obama set off a firestorm on Wednesday when he told ABC News, “It is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same-sex couples should be able to get married.”

President Obama's position on the issue of marriage became an issue earlier this week after Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan each stated their support for same-sex marriage. The comments were applauded by advocates for same-sex marriage who hoped that the President would also speak out in favour of it.

The Word of God is not evolving.  Its already been settled in heaven for eternity!. You can take scripture out of context and make it say anything you want to.  No where in the Bible does it even address "same sex marriage" - it addresses the sin of homosexuality that wants this.  Jesus settled this issue in Matthew 19:4-6 "Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning made them male and female, and said, 'For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh'? So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate."  Jesus is saying marriage is between a man and a woman.  You can't take that out of context Mr. President, judges, Democrats and Republicans and distort it.

 Jim Campbell, litigation staff counsel at the Alliance Defence fund, said the about-face shows that the Obama administration doesn’t understand the public purpose of marriage. “Marriage—the lifelong, faithful union of one man and one woman—is the building block of a thriving society. It’s not something that politicians should attempt to redefine for political purposes,” Campbell said. “The president has spoken eloquently about how fatherless homes often hurt children and society. [His] statement is a tragic contradiction that promotes the creation of even more fatherless and motherless homes.”

Question: "What does the Bible say about gay marriage / same sex marriage?"

Answer: While the Bible does address homosexuality, it does not explicitly mention gay marriage/same-sex marriage. It is clear, however, that the Bible condemns homosexuality as an immoral and unnatural sin. Leviticus 18:22 identifies homosexual sex as an abomination, a detestable sin. Romans 1:26-27 declares homosexual desires and actions to be shameful, unnatural, lustful, and indecent. First Corinthians 6:9 states that homosexuals are unrighteous and will not inherit the kingdom of God. Since both homosexual desires and actions are condemned in the Bible, it is clear that homosexuals “marrying” is not God’s will, and would be, in fact, sinful.

Whenever the Bible mentions marriage, it is between a male and a female. The first mention of marriage, Genesis 2:24, describes it as a man leaving his parents and being united to his wife. In passages that contain instructions regarding marriage, such as 1 Corinthians 7:2-16 and Ephesians 5:23-33, the Bible clearly identifies marriage as being between a man and a woman. Biblically speaking, marriage is the lifetime union of a man and a woman, primarily for the purpose of building a family and providing a stable environment for that family.

The Bible alone, however, does not have to be used to demonstrate this understanding of marriage. The biblical viewpoint of marriage has been the universal understanding of marriage in every human civilization in world history. History argues against gay marriage. Modern secular psychology recognizes that men and women are psychologically and emotionally designed to complement one another. In regard to the family, psychologists contend that a union between a man and woman in which both spouses serve as good gender role models is the best environment in which to raise well-adjusted children. Psychology argues against gay marriage. In nature/physicality, clearly, men and women were designed to “fit” together sexually. With the “natural” purpose of sexual intercourse being procreation, clearly only a sexual relationship between a man and a woman can fulfill this purpose. Nature argues against gay marriage.

So, if the Bible, history, psychology, and nature all argue for marriage being between a man and a woman—why is there such a controversy today? Why are those who are opposed to gay marriage/same-sex marriage labelled as hateful, intolerant bigots, no matter how respectfully the opposition is presented? Why is the gay rights movement so aggressively pushing for gay marriage/same-sex marriage when most people, religious and non-religious, are supportive of—or at least far less opposed to—gay couples having all the same legal rights as married couples with some form of civil union?
The answer, according to the Bible, is that everyone inherently knows that homosexuality is immoral and unnatural, and the only way to suppress this inherent knowledge is by normalizing homosexuality and attacking any and all opposition to it. The best way to normalize homosexuality is by placing gay marriage/same-sex marriage on an equal plane with traditional opposite-gender marriage. Romans 1:18-32 illustrates this. The truth is known because God has made it plain. The truth is rejected and replaced with a lie. The lie is then promoted and the truth suppressed and attacked. The vehemence and anger expressed by many in the gay rights movement to any who oppose them is, in fact, an indication that they know their position is indefensible. Trying to overcome a weak position by raising your voice is the oldest trick in the debating book. There is perhaps no more accurate description of the modern gay rights agenda than Romans 1:31, “they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless.”

To give sanction to gay marriage/same-sex marriage would be to give approval to the homosexual lifestyle, which the Bible clearly and consistently condemns as sinful. Christians should stand firmly against the idea of gay marriage/same-sex marriage. Further, there are strong and logical arguments against gay marriage/same-sex marriage from contexts completely separated from the Bible. One does not have to be an evangelical Christian to recognize that marriage is between a man and a woman.

According to the Bible, marriage is ordained by God to be between a man and a woman (Genesis 2:21-24; Matthew 19:4-6). Gay marriage/same-sex marriage is a perversion of the institution of marriage and an offense to the God who created marriage. As Christians, we are not to condone or ignore sin. Rather, we are to share the love of God and the forgiveness of sins that is available to all, including homosexuals, through Jesus Christ. We are to speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15) and contend for truth with “gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15). As Christians, when we make a stand for truth and the result is personal attacks, insults, and persecution, we should remember the words of Jesus: “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you” (John 15:18-19).

Our life in Christ is constituted by repentance.  If we are to be faithful Christians, we must be constantly turning toward God, away from our sins and passions, realizing the seriousness of our sin in a spirit of repentance, and striving to change our lives.  We cannot approach the Holy Mysteries without living a life of repentance, and examining our consciences and confessing our sins. When we have fallen, we repent, and try to stop our sinful behaviour. Otherwise, we risk communing unto judgment and condemnation. This discipline of the Christian life leads to salvation, enlightenment and the healing of our souls. We must be faithful to that discipline of life, if we are to call ourselves Orthodox Christians.

We are all called as Christians to live a life of chastity, pleasing to the Lord, married or single.  If we are Christians we are all called, whatever our attractions or past habits, to the same saving discipline that will heal our souls.  Otherwise we are living in hypocrisy, a living death; just as when we judge others struggling with their sins.  This has been delivered to us from the Apostles and Holy Fathers, and remains unchanged to this day. The Orthodox teaching on chastity and Christian marriage is a fundamental element in Christian life and discipline.  We are called to conform our lives to the Church and its disciplines, not alter the teachings of the Church to fit either a cultural fad or our own passions.  Where we stand against the prevailing cultural trends, we must stand fast, because we know that obedience to the Church’s teaching leads us to communion with God and eternal life; and disobedience leads to alienation from God, spiritual death.

The Lord says that regarding any sinful behaviour (including homosexuality), practicing Christians should speak the truth in love, God's Word the only truth there is. What homosexuals are failing to realize is that when a Christian points them to the truth of God's Word and how they must confess and abandon their sin or suffer the eternal consequence of their rebellion and disobedience, those pointing the way of salvation are the only ones who truly love them. It may take lots of time, prayer and witnessing, even while those who desperately need deliverance act out, become angry, accuse, shout and call names, etc., although staying in the fight and steadfastly continuing to speak the truth in love regardless of anything else is what Christians must continue to do, the church and all the angels of Heaven rejoicing over a single rescued sinner who finally sees the light and comes into the fold. God give us strength to daily fight the good fight of faith!

Dr Michael Youssef from the Apostolic Church in Atlanta says but although I love them enough to appeal for their repentance so they can be restored in fellowship with God, they trample this type of love underfoot. They say, “You cannot accept me without accepting, approving, and even celebrating my sin.”

If we want to please the Lord, and if we believe that obeying His Word is a matter of life and death, then we must not fall for that trap.

Like our Christian forbearers, we must ask: Do we obey God or Caesar? Do we sell our birthright in exchange for acceptance by those who reject the authority of God? Do we abandon our convictions (at our immeasurable cost) for the approval of society?

The deliberate and definitive answer to those questions must always be: God’s Word must be obeyed over the trends of culture and the perceived need to give Christianity a “good” image.

If anyone insists that we must accept their argument or else be called names, the answer is found in Matthew 5:11: “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.”

We must stand on the solid rock of Jesus Christ and not the sinking sand of the world. For those who are faithful to the Word of God, we can say with Martin Luther, “Here we stand. We can do no other.”

Blessings!

Raj Kosaraju

Friday, May 4, 2012

A Match Made in Heaven

A Match Made in Heaven

Inside Mary’s house, the prayer meeting had come to a halt and a debate was raging. Some said Peter had been delivered. Others said it was just an apparition standing at the door, but all the while Peter continued knocking.

After all the fasting and prayer had been done, there was still something those faithful intercessors needed to do before they could receive the miracle they so earnestly desired. They had to get off their knees and go answer the door. This is a powerful illustration because the truth is that prayer, while powerful and necessary, is not enough.

Prayer must be accompanied by action, just as a gun must be equipped with bullets. James made the connection when he said, “…Faith without works is dead also” (James 2:26). Jesus told the disciples to pray for laborers to be sent out into the harvest, and then He turned to those very same men, and said, “…GO into all the world and preach the gospel…” (Mark 16:15 NKJV). The disciples had become the answer to their own prayers!

Evangelist Reinhard Bonnke has asked this question: If every Christian would lock themselves in the prayer closet 24 hours per day, 7 days per week, 365 days per year, and do nothing but pray for the salvation of this world, what would happen? The answer is…nothing. Nothing will happen until someone wakes up in the prayer meeting and goes out into the highways and byways to tell a sinner that Jesus saves!

If you could draw close enough to God to lay your head on His chest and listen to His heartbeat, this is what it would sound like: “Sal-va-tion, Sal-va-tion, Sal-va-tion.” God loves the world so much that He sent His only begotten Son who paid the ultimate price to purchase our salvation. Could there be any more ardent explanation of God’s deepest desire? How can a person claim that they are intimate with God and yet have no burden for the lost? And how can a person claim to have a burden for the lost and yet do nothing to reach them? The deduction is simple: True intercessors are also soulwinners.

But the pendulum swings both ways. Any ministry not born out of intimacy is a hoax.God is not looking for hired hands…He is looking for sons and daughters. If prayer is the right leg, the preaching of the Gospel is the left leg. One without the other produces a crippled Church. Since God has given us both, there is no need to hobble about, but we can march down the gates of hell when these two ingredients come together.
It’s amazing that in some circles there is a rivalry between those called to pray and those called to preach.

Those who feel a special calling to pray often think that everyone should be as they are – praying for hours every day and fasting constantly. Those with a special gifting to evangelize think everyone should be standing on street corners with Bibles and bullhorns. But both prejudices are wrong. While it’s true that every intercessor must also be a soulwinner and every soulwinner must also be an intercessor, God gives different gifts to different people and we need each other. Actually, it is absolutely imperative that the evangelists and the intercessors work together if we hope to facilitate this great end-time harvest of souls in our generation.

In one decade (2000-2009), our ministry — Christ for all Nations, founded by Reinhard Bonnke — has seen over 53 million people receive Jesus Christ as their Savior in our massive evangelistic events… but I believe that the greatest days of harvest are still ahead of us! Someone once said, “The opportunity of a lifetime must be seized during the lifetime of the opportunity.” In order for us to seize the moment that God has given to our generation, it is going to require a strategic, divine alliance between the soulwinners and the intercessors who will unite around the agenda of Jesus – to seek and to save those who are lost.
I believe with all my heart that the greatest move of God in the history of the world is standing on the front porch, knocking on the door. Together we will answer it for Calvary’s sake.

Evangelist Daniel Kolenda