Friday, May 31, 2013

He is not the cause of evil in this world




Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children. Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God.

Let there be no sexual immorality, impurity, or greed among you. Such sins have no place among God's people. Obscene stories, foolish talk, and coarse jokes - these are not for you. Instead, let there be thankfulness to God. You can be sure that no immoral, impure, or greedy person will inherit the Kingdom of Christ and of God. For a greedy person is an idolater, worshiping the things of this world.

"If you, O Lord, kept a record of sins, O Lord, who could stand" (Psalm 130:3).

One of the most common questions every person wrestles with in life is this: "God, if You are loving, just, and all-powerful, why do You allow good people to suffer?" Many choose not to believe in God because they cannot adequately explain this question. Evangelist Billy Graham addressed this question in his book Answers to Life's Problems:

We do not know all the reasons why God permits evil. We need to remember, however, that he is not the cause of evil in this world and we should therefore not blame Him for it. Remember that God did not create evil, as some believe. God created the world perfect. Man chose to defy God and go his own way, and it is man's fault that evil entered the world. Even so, God has provided the ultimate triumph of good over evil in Jesus Christ, who on the cross, defeated Satan and those who follow him. Christ is coming back and when He does, all evil will be ended forever and righteousness and justice will prevail.

Have you ever thought about what would happen if God suddenly eliminated all the evil in this world? Not one person would be left, because we are all guilty of sin.

Because Jesus suffered and died for us, our suffering can be made like His -purposeful and meaningful. Evil, suffering and death came into the world when the first man and woman listened to Satan and committed the first sin. Evil was never part of the Garden of Eden. The moment Adam and Eve crossed the boundary of God's command, evil became the terrible reality of this world.

AW Tozer said, “The sovereign God wants to be loved for Himself and honored for Himself, but that is only part of what He wants. The other part is that He wants us to know that when we have Him we have everything—we have all the rest.”

Salvation: Jesus bore our sins upon the cross and died in our place so we could be reconciled to God and receive eternal life.

Service: Jesus said He “did not come to be served, but to serve and to give His life a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45). Christ’s supreme act of service was dying on the cross so we might have eternal life. Our Savior calls us to deny ourselves and follow Him through sacrificial service to others (Luke 9:23). As we embrace a lifestyle of humility and servanthood, we will bring glory to our heavenly Father.

Sacrifice: His first 30 years were spent in obscurity, without recognition of His Messiahship. During His public ministry, He faithfully carried out God’s plan all the way to His death on the cross. We admire Christ, who was “in very nature God” (Philippians 2:6 niv), chose to leave the perfection of heaven and live among sinful people. Laying aside His divine authority, He was born a helpless baby, completely dependent upon. Jesus’ days on earth are an example to us of the sacrificial life (Romans 12:1–2).

If we are to fulfill God's purpose for our life, we will become like Jesus. We will humble ourselves before God and say, "Not my will, but Yours, be done" (Luke 22:42). When our purpose is to fulfill God's purpose, His will will be done. Paul had a similar thought in mind when he wrote to the Philippians, "Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 2:5). He wanted the Philippians to be like Christ in a particular area of life: humility. When Christ entered the world, He humbled Himself by giving up any aspiration except that which was the Father's purpose for His life. He set aside His rights and prerogatives as the Son of God and humbled Himself, taking on the lifestyle and behavior of a servant. In that way, Christ fulfilled God's purpose for His life. His purpose was to know and carry out God's purpose for His life.

Blessings,

Raj Kosaraju



Thursday, May 30, 2013

Two categories: the hopeless and the hopeful.


Why doesn't God do something about the evil in the world? Sometimes I wonder if God even cares about the bad things that happen to people today. I don't understand why He doesn't just destroy everything that's evil.

One of my favorite preachers of all times Evangelist Billy Graham quite rightly answers:
I suspect almost everyone reading this has asked themselves the same question, because evil is real, and at times our world seems completely in its grip. And to be honest, we don't always know why God allows evil things to happen. The Bible talks about "the mystery of iniquity" -- and that's what evil often is: a mystery (2 Thessalonians 2:7, KJV).
But the Bible tells us two important truths about evil that we need to remember. First, evil doesn't come from God; He didn't create it, and He doesn't cause it. Evil comes instead from the Evil One -- Satan -- who is absolutely opposed to God and His goodness. It also comes from within our hearts, as we turn away from God and live only for ourselves. Jesus said, "For from within, out of men's hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly" (Mark 7:21-22).
Second, the Bible assures us that God has already done something about evil! He sent His only Son into the world to defeat it -- and He did. When Jesus died on the cross and then rose again from the dead, He confronted the powers of death and evil and Hell -- and He defeated them. Some day the final battle will be fought, and He will come again to destroy all evil.
Don't put your hope only in this world's solutions; they'll always disappoint you. Instead, put your hope in Jesus Christ, for He is with us, and one day His victory over evil will be complete.
Have you ever thought about what would happen if God suddenly eliminated all the evil in this world? Not one person would be left, because we are all guilty of sin.

Whenever we suffer, we should remember that the Son of God went before us, drinking the cup of suffering and death to the dregs. Because Christ is fully man and fully God, we know that God understands our fears, sorrows and suffering. He identifies with us. Most important of all, the Father has given us the gift of His Son so that we don't have to die and suffer forever in eternity.
Because Jesus suffered and died for us, our suffering can be made like His -purposeful and meaningful. Evil, suffering and death came into the world when the first man and woman listened to Satan and committed the first sin. Evil was never part of the Garden of Eden. The moment Adam and Eve crossed the boundary of God's command, evil became the terrible reality of this world.

Thankfully, Jesus doesn't lose keys. He has the key to every lock. Jesus can open every door. God is in control of all events in the history of this planet—past, present, and future. God will open some doors, and He will close others. He will determine how long we will live. That is not up to us; that is up to Him. The doors God closes are closed for good. And the doors He opens will be opened for good. No power on earth can change this.

It is a good reminder for us to remember that God is in control. We don't have to be afraid to commit an unknown future to a known God. He is in control of our lives.

There are some questions that will remain unresolved until we are able to meet face to face with our Creator in Heaven.

Finally, 

I was reading a devotional by Bob & Debby Gass. I thought it is wonderfully written and I should share it with you. It says what happens “When a Believer Dies”. It is for you, for me and for every believer in this world.

'...God will bring back with [Jesus] the believers who have died.' 1 Thessalonians 4:14 NLT

Dealing with death separates us into two categories: the hopeless and the hopeful. The hopeless believe that they have nothing to look forward to. Their losses feel permanent - the end of life and all that's good. But the hopeful have everything to look forward to. Their losses are temporary - the beginning of an endless life filled with God's finest gifts.

God wants you 'to know what will happen to the believers who have died so [you] will not grieve like people who have no hope' (1 Thessalonians 4:13 NLT). Our hope results from knowing these truths: (1) 'We believe that Jesus died and was raised to life again' (1 Thessalonians 4:14 NLT). All hope begins here: believing in Jesus' death for our sin and His resurrection to represent us before God. (2) Since we believe this, we also believe that...Jesus returns. Faith in Christ's physical return to earth gives us confidence that 'God will bring back with Him the believers who have died.' God will raise us from our resting places and bring us back again with Jesus (Romans 8:11). At that moment, 'He will take our weak mortal bodies and change them into glorious bodies like His own...' (Philippians 3:21 NLT).

Never again will you be vulnerable to cancer, diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, strokes, Lou Gehrig's disease, paralysis, disabilities, weariness, weakness, grief, fear, depression, temptation, addictions, failure, remorse, suicidal thoughts, bipolar disorder, OCD or PTSD or any kind of ailment. You'll be transformed into the very likeness of Christ. Isn't that wonderful?


Blessings,

Raj Kosaraju


Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Between Two Worlds




In his article One God, Two Worlds, Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein has described a wonderful description about One God as against many.

There is a story told about a rabbi fighting for religious freedom in communist Russia. One morning as the rabbi prayed in synagogue, three men rushed in and arrested the rabbi for his actions. Facing a council of determined men, the rabbi reaffirmed that he would not give up his religious activities. One of the agents pointed a gun at his head and said, “This little toy has made many a man change his mind!” The rabbi replied, “That little toy can only intimidate men with many gods and one world. But I have only one God and two worlds, so I am not impressed by your little toy.”

What an incredible display of courage and faith!

As the rabbi explained, some people have many gods. They are beholden to many things – people, jobs, money, passions, and so forth. In addition, for many people, this is the only world that matters. Some deny the existence of life after death; some acknowledge it but are far too focused on the comforts of this world to value the reality of the next one. However, this rabbi was beholden to no one and nothing other than God. His faith was unshakable since he believed with all his heart that he would live beyond death and be judged by his Creator. His only worry was what God might think of him.

In Psalms 123, the psalmist writes: “As the eyes of slaves look to the hand of their master, as the eyes of a female slave look to the hand of her mistress, so our eyes look to the LORD our God …” With these words, the psalmist expresses his complete dependence on God – and only God. Like a slave looks to his master as the only person in the world who can provide for him, protect him, and determine his fate, so too, do we look upon God. Only God can help us, only He can save us, and our destiny – both in this world and in the next – lies in His hands.

It has been said that, “He who fears One, fears none, but he who fears many, fears any.” When we are slaves to God and fear only Him, we have nothing to fear – not even an entire army of men. But when we are slaves to many people and things, we will fear even the smallest threat from a lowly individual. 

Henry Ford once said, “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t – you’re right.” What we believe to be true about ourselves often becomes our reality.

How we see ourselves will ultimately determine our abilities. Do you know that you are created in the image of God? Do you know that you are capable of amazing things? Or are you stuck in the grasshopper mindset? Do you see yourself as small, irrelevant, and inconsequential?

He also knows there will be times when the enemy will tempt you to feel fearful and out of control. When this happens, you need to remember that you serve a sovereign God who has good things in mind for your life.

After all, we live in a world that is filled with distractions: iPads, iPods, TV, Internet, movies... there are so many things demanding our time and attention, often at the expense of our time with Christ. The world is filled with so much noise, so much distraction, how often do we really get the chance to listen to God? I don’t know about you, but this is something I struggle with on a daily basis. Don’t allow the toys of this world to distract you from your Heavenly Father. Instead, the next time you pray, turn off your cell phone and find a place far away from your computer. Pray to God in the silence and listen to his reply. 

Even when troubles come, we may begin to wonder if we will ever realize the hopes and dreams that God has given us. Joseph, Daniel, Moses, David, and the disciples probably faced the same temptation to doubt God’s blessing and goodness. However, these men of faith remained steadfast in their belief in the Lord’s ability. They had to come to a point of faith where they boldly confronted their fears—and we do, too.

Only once we see our own greatness will we be able to achieve great things for God.


Blessings,

Raj Kosaraju






Friday, May 24, 2013

Every trial has its escape route



In 1962, the Mariner I space probe was scheduled to travel to Venus and provide information to NASA scientists. It never got there, as it plunged into the Atlantic Ocean four minutes after takeoff. An investigation was launched into the cause for the crash and was later traced to the computer program directing the spacecraft. It turned out that somewhere in the program a single minus sign had been left out.

For some people, living out the basics of the Christian faith isn't exciting enough. Too insignificant. Not brave enough. However, the way a follower of Jesus handles small things, both in attitude and execution, determines to a large extent how they will handle larger things.

We live in a society of wanting more. There is always something else to want, to have, to own, leaving us feeling that there is no such thing as enough, let alone the possibility of having too much. Whatever it is that we have, we believe that we need more.

But while having too much seems enticing, the truth is that it can lead us to consequences just as unpleasant – or worse than – the test of having too little.

This point is driven home when the children of Israel complained that they did not have enough. God didn’t punish their complaining by taking away the blessings they already had; rather He gave them more than they needed. He gave them too much!. There was so much food to eat that the people became sick from it. The point was made – it is possible to have too much.

We all want to win the lottery, but do some research and you will find out that for many lottery winners, dreams turned into nightmares. Having so much money caused the breakdown of marriages, fights between family members, even kidnapping and death. Yes, there most definitely is such a thing as too much.

Sometimes less is really more and what we lack may be our greatest blessing. Trust in God – He will provide exactly what we need.

But while having too much seems enticing, the truth is that it can lead us to consequences just as unpleasant – or worse than – the test of having too little.
  
Let us look at the other side of the coin:

“Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” 1 John 2:15

It stands to reason: if you love health, you're going to hate germs. If you love flowers, you’ll hate weeds. If you love cleanliness, you’ll hate dirt. If you love God, you will hate sin.

And so the Bible says, “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world.” What is worldliness? And why should a Christian not love this world?

Three reasons: Number one, because of the character of the world—what it is. Number two, because of the corruption of the world—what it does. Number three, because of the condemnation of the world—where it’s headed.

Not everything in life does the way we would like it. Sometimes we make out okay, other times things just don't seem to work out. In both cases, the Lord is with us, and He wants to help us make the best of things. God has given good things to His children, and when one thing doesn't work out, we can rest assured that something else is soon to come along. When things do work out, we need to remember to give thanks to the one who made it all possible.

Whatever the crisis in your life, God is prepared for it and has made sure you are equipped to endure it. Many other people have experienced exactly what you're going through. Some have made it through victoriously. No matter what the temptation God promised to '...make a way to escape, that you may be able to bear it' (1 Corinthians 10:13 NKJV). Every trial has its escape route. They are inseparable. But the devil doesn't want you to know that. Every time you're in the middle of a test, he insists there's no way out.

In this world we can expect hostility and even hatred, for Jesus experienced this from some of those around him. The reason for this is that the world is a place where many do not honor God, trust in his love, or walk in his ways. The world is also a place where Satan, the evil one, is actively at work, seeking to keep people satisfied with anything but the worship of God alone.

Blessings,

Raj Kosaraju




Wednesday, May 22, 2013

But it’s not hard to be a Christian



I read one of Pastor Adrian Rogers snippets about Christian life which goes like this:

I’ve heard it said so many times that it’s hard to be a Christian. Where did you get that? You didn’t get it out of the Word of God. It’s not hard to be a Christian.

Listen, the Bible says that “the way of the transgressor is hard” (Proverbs 13:15), but it’s not hard to be a Christian. I’m having a wonderful time serving the Lord Jesus.

You say, “You mean there’s no suffering?” There’s suffering in this world whether you’re saved or lost. You’re not going to get out unbent, unbloodied, or unbowed. But I want to tell you, there is joy in the Lord Jesus Christ; and Jesus is the One who makes the sufferings of this life worth it all.

I know some of you are carrying heavy loads of exhaustion. Free living might sound like a promise for other people, but not for you. Perhaps you are dealing with a constant strain in your life. God sees you, friend. He knows your struggles. He’s able to work out the details. Trust Him for strength and rest...whether He delivers you from the exhaustion or through it.

Sometimes our lives are like the science fair project. We invest in others and are eager to see the harvest. We obey God, trust His plan and walk according to His Word. We plant seeds into the soil of our marriages or dating relationships and water them with love, hope and truth. We plant seeds into the life-soil of our friends and co-workers and water them with loyalty, time and encouragement. As parents and grandparents we “grow” our children and our grandchildren. We water them with love, feed them with the Word. We water and we wait with great expectations in our hearts and a desire to see some growth. We long to see the fruit of our labor.

At times we see fruit.

Many times we see God working in our lives.

Sometimes we have to wait.



Sometimes, not only is God greater than to be held by any one place, he is also said to be in all places. The psalmist writes, “Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there! If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me” (Psalm 139:7-10). There is no place we can go to escape from the presence of God. For the believer, this is a most reassuring thing to know. No matter where we go, God knows where we are, and he watches over us. For the unbeliever, however, this is one of the most frustrating and angering ideas possible. Nothing they do is hidden from the Lord. God is always with us; either in a loving, caring way, or in a judging, wrathful way. God is everywhere!

It is important that we know the character of God, and honor and revere Him in our prayers, actions, and thoughts. God’s character is pure, holy, flawless, loving, compassionate, righteous, just, merciful, kind, long-suffering, honest, true, dependable, faithful, and understanding.

The more we know about God, the more we grow in fellowship with Him. This carries over into our prayers. Placing Him first and foremost in our minds keeps our focus on Him instead of on our needs and desires.

Throughout his ministry, Paul suffered disappointment and rejection at the hands of those he loved. But when people fail you it drives you into the arms of God. Being rejected by others can actually bring a greater intimacy with Him. When they stoned Paul and left him for dead, 'he got back up' and went on to greater things (Acts 14:19-20). Being rejected makes you lean on God like never before, because you've nowhere else to turn! In fact, at times like that, unless you hear from God, there's no other word of hope coming! When others reject you, God has a way of opening doors to new levels of blessing you'd otherwise miss.

Sometimes it seems as though everywhere we turn, there is an attack. There is temptation. There is a problem. There is an issue. But listen: God will give us the strength to get through.

Your greatest spiritual growth will generally result from your greatest trials. The Psalmist wrote: 'You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies [vindication]: you anoint my head with oil [daily empowerment]; my cup runs over [greater blessing]' (Psalms 23:5 NKJV). The truth is, without some pain and opposition, you wouldn't get to sit at God's table and enjoy His best.

Blessings,

Raj Kosaraju





Friday, May 17, 2013

Five Different Roads by Whitt Madden



I liked the article written by Whitt Madden. It is a good piece of work. It is also very true as Whitt says five very different roads claiming a variety of different things.   “So many roads to nowhere” as the song goes… Two of these are masquerading as “Christian” beliefs. One claims to believe in nothing, but even that statement is an oxymoron, and the other two resemble nothing of the God in Scripture.  So which one of these roads leads to Jesus? the Bible makes a very bold claim that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life, and that no one can come to the Father except through Him.  None of these five roads will lead you to that conclusion, as you will see further into this study.

We continue in our series – Who Determines Truth? by taking a look at five really popular and very different systems of belief.  Five different roads, but do any of them lead to Jesus?


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The text for our study is John 14:6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.

Throughout this series we will look at the following claims from Jesus:
  • He is the Way.
  • He is the Truth.
  • He is the Life.
  • There is no other way to the Father, except through Him.

In this post I want to introduce to you 5 different religious viewpoints.  We will dig deeper into each one of these throughout the study.  Keep in mind these are summary statements about each one from key leaders in each of these movements.

1) The Muslim.


The Muslim believes  Allah is the proper name applied to the true God Who exists necessarily by Himself comprising all the excellent Divine names and attributes of perfection. Allah is One and Unique. He has no son, partner, or equal. He is the sole Creator and Sustainer of the universe. Every creature bears witness to His Oneness, Divinity, Allah has revealed His final Scripture, the Qur’an, to the last of His Messengers, Muhammad, peace be upon him, who was responsible for conveying the Message of Islam to mankind.

2)The Buddhist.


Buddhist Zen master, says “Do not be idolatrous about or bound to any doctrine, theory, or ideology, even Buddhist ones. Buddhist systems of thought are guiding means; they are not absolute truth.” If you want to learn about Buddhism, I suggest putting aside all assumptions. Put aside assumptions about Buddhism, and then assumptions about religion. Put aside assumptions about the nature of the self, of reality, of existence. Keep yourself open to new understanding. Whatever beliefs you hold, hold in an open hand and not a tight fist. Just practice, and see where it takes you.”

3) The Atheist


Richard Carrier,  Author of Sense and Goodness without God – “There is simply no more evidence for Jehovah than there is for Zeus. Christians find no reason to believe that Zeus exists, so they do not believe in him. For the same reason, I do not believe in Jehovah. In fact, It offends me that an invisible god is given credit for every good thing that happens in the world, while every evil is blamed on humanity.”

4) New Age Spirituality


Henry Nouwen, a Catholic Priest who has written over 40 books on spirituality and battled depression for much of his life  - “Today I personally believe that while Jesus came to open the door to God’s house, all human beings can walk through that door, whether they know about Jesus or not. Today I see it as my call to help every person claim his or her own way to God.”


5)  The Post Modernist.


Rob and Kristen Bell, formerly of Mars Hill Church – “Life in the church had become so small.  It had worked for me for a long time, then it stopped working.” – Kristen.  The Bells started questioning their assumptions about the Bible itself “discovering the Bible as a human product, rather than the product of divinity.  The Bible is still center for us, but it’s a different kind of center.  We want to embrace mystery, rather than conquer it.  I grew up thinking that we’ve figured out the Bible, that I knew what it means, but now I have no idea what it means.  Life used to be black and white, and now it’s in color.”

So Many Roads to Nowhere…


Five very different roads claiming a variety of different things.   “So many roads to nowhere” as the song goes… Two of these are masquerading as “Christian” beliefs. One claims to believe in nothing, but even that statement is an oxymoron, and the other two resemble nothing of the God in Scripture.  So which one of these roads leads to Jesus?

The Bible makes a very bold claim that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life, and that no one can come to the Father except through Him.  None of these five roads will lead you to that conclusion, as you will see further into this study.

I admit, a part of me thinks it would be nice to say that you can believe whatever you want to believe. You can do your thing, and I can believe what I want to believe, and it’s all good, because whether you choose Jesus or Muhammad, Buddha, or you just want to trust in yourself, that we’ll all be together in the end as one big happy family.  Life would seem a lot simpler if Jesus was one of many ways and all roads would lead to Heaven.

The truth however, is that the Bible is not that kind of book.  Jesus doesn’t teach this, and all roads do not inevitably lead to Heaven.  I’m going to go one step further and tell you that none of the roads mentioned in this post will get you there either.

The Bible stands in direct opposition to the world and all of it’s false belief systems.  Jesus taught a message that was offensive to the world then, and it still stands just as offensive today. He makes exclusive claims that are hard for us to accept.  His message stood against every thing the culture believed and stood for, even  had been taught their entire lives.  Their hatred of Jesus crucified Him on a cross, where He died, mocked, beaten, spit upon, whipped, and physically crushed.

Today, the message of the Gospel is still offending the world, and His followers are receiving the same kind of response. Millions of Christians around the world are being beaten, tortured, exiled, and murdered simply because they chose to put their faith in a risen Savior instead of the endless gods and hopes this world tried to offer them.

What causes a man to stake his very life on the words in a book?  A man who would rather die than renounce this person of Jesus Christ?  I think of the verse in Matthew 13:44
“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. (Matthew 13:44)
I guess the next question I want to ask, is do you really know what it is that you believe?  Can you explain it, or even defend it?  Why do you believe what you do?  In the next post, I am going to share my journey with you about how I came to believe Jesus is the only way, only truth, and only life, and my prayer is that it will challenge and encourage you.

Discussion Questions:
  • Looking at the 5 different views listed, were there any that surprised you with what they had said?
  • Which one of these 5 seems to be the most dangerous path to be on?
  • What do you think causes a man to die for what he believes is truth?
  • How well do you know what you believe?  Can you explain or defend why you believe what you do?
The post Five Different Roads appeared first on Treasuring Christ by Whitt Madden.

Blessings,

Raj Kosaraju



Jesus... God forever





As God incarnate, Jesus Christ is omnipotent. His power is seen in the miracles He performed—His numerous healings, the feeding of the five thousand (Mark 6:30-44), calming the storm (Mark 4:37-41), and the ultimate display of power, raising Lazarus and Jairus’s daughter from the dead (John 11:38-44; Mark 5:35-43), an example of His control over life and death. Death is the ultimate reason that Jesus came—to destroy it (1 Corinthians 15:22; Hebrews 2:14) and to bring sinners into a right relationship with God. The Lord Jesus stated clearly that He had power to lay down His life and power to take it up again, a fact that He allegorized when speaking about the temple (John 2:19). He had power to call upon twelve legions of angels to rescue Him during His trial, if needed (Matthew 26:53), yet He offered Himself in humility in place of others (Philippians 2:1-11).

Jesus is God and we are not. Most of us get that. But what we dont always understand is that God loves us just as much as He does His son. Many times in the Old Testament, God refers to human beings as His beloved. But when God called Jesus "my Beloved", Jesus did something truly remarkable: He believed Him.

Let us examine:

What Old Testament Prophecies Did Jesus Fulfill?

The Old Testament, though often thought of as filled with dry history, contains important tests concerning Christ's claims to be the Son of God and the Messiah. These tests, or prophecies, have and could only be fulfilled by

Jesus:
       As the Son of God
Psalms 2:7
Fulfilled
Luke 1:32, Luke 1:35
·         As the descendant of Abraham
Genesis 17:7 ; 22:18
Fulfilled
Galatians 3:16
·         As the descendant of Isaac
Genesis 21:12
Fulfilled
Hebrews 11:17-19
·         As the descendant of David
Psalms 132:11; Jeremiah 23:5
Fulfilled
Acts 13:23; Romans 1:3
·         His coming at a set time
Genesis 49:10; Daniel 9:24, Daniel 9:25
Fulfilled
Luke 2:1
·         His being born a virgin
Isaiah 7:14
Fulfilled
Matthew 1:22, Matthew 1:23; Luke 2:7
·         His being called Immanuel
Isaiah 7:14
Fulfilled
Matthew 1:22, Matthew 1:23
·         His being born in Bethlehem of Judea
Micah 5:2
Fulfilled
Matthew 2:1; Luke 2:4-6
·         His miracles
Isaiah 35:5, Isaiah 35:6
Fulfilled
Matthew 11 4-6: John 11:47
·         His rejection by his brethren
Psalms 69:8; Isaiah 63:3
Fulfilled
John 1:11,  7:3
·         His being a stone of stumbling to the Jews
Isaiah 8:14
Fulfilled
Romans 9:32; 1 Peter 2:8
         His being sold for thirty pieces silver
Zechariah 11:12
Fulfilled
Matthew 26:15
·         His price being given for the potters field
Zechariah 11:13
Fulfilled
Matthew 27:7

The great mystery is that this power can be shared by believers who are united to God in Jesus Christ. Paul says, "Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me" (2 Corinthians 12:9b). God’s power is exalted in us most when our weaknesses are greatest because He “is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us” (Ephesians 3:20). It is God’s power that continues to hold us in a state of grace despite our sin (2 Timothy 1:12), and by His power we are kept from falling (Jude 24). His power will be proclaimed by all the host of heaven for all eternity (Revelation 19:1). May that be our endless prayer!

Blessings,

Raj Kosaraju

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Coveting and idolatry



We know that He is always walking with us.  We know that He sees everything we are struggling with and everything we are going through.  We know that He sees what we need, and we know that He will provide it for us.  Praise Him today for His omniscience, His omnipotence, and His omnipresence, and rest in the knowledge that He will never leave you or forsake you.

Even though Israel had seen the invisible God in action, they still wanted something familiar that they could see and shape into whatever image they desired. In doing so, they were ignoring the command he had just given them: "You must not make for yourself an idol of any kind or an image of anything in the heavens or on the earth or in the sea" (Exodus 20:4). They may even have thought they were worshiping God. Their apparent sincerity was no substitute for obedience and no excuse for disobedience.

Our great temptation still is to shape a god to our liking, to make him convenient to obey or ignore. Even if we do not make idols, we are often guilty of trying to make God in our image, molding him to fit our expectations, desires, and circumstances. When we do this, we end up worshiping ourselves rather than the God who created us—and self-worship leads to all kinds of immorality. The gods we create blind us to the love that God wants to shower on us.

First, According to CEO, S. Michael Houdmann, of Gotquestions we worship at the altar of materialism which feeds our need to build our egos through the acquisition of more “stuff.” Our homes are filled with all manner of possessions. We build bigger and bigger houses with more closets and storage space in order to house all the things we buy, much of which we haven’t even paid for yet. Most of our stuff has “planned obsolescence” built into it, making it useless in no time, and so we consign it to the garage or other storage space. Then we rush out to buy the newest item, garment or gadget and the whole process starts over. This insatiable desire for more, better, and newer stuff is nothing more than covetousness. The tenth commandment tells us not to fall victim to coveting: "You shall not covet your neighbor's house. You shall not covet your neighbor's wife, or his manservant or maidservant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor" (Exodus 20:17). God doesn’t just want to rain on our buying sprees. He knows we will never be happy indulging our materialistic desires because it is Satan’s trap to keep our focus on ourselves and not on Him.

We worship at the altar of our own pride and ego. This often takes the form of obsession with careers and jobs. Millions of men—and increasingly more women—spend 60-80 hours a week working. Even on the weekends and during vacations, our laptops are humming and our minds are whirling with thoughts of how to make our businesses more successful, how to get that promotion, how to get the next raise, how to close the next deal. In the meantime, our children are starving for attention and love. We fool ourselves into thinking we are doing it for them, to give them a better life. But the truth is we are doing it for ourselves, to increase our self-esteem by appearing more successful in the eyes of the world. This is folly. All our labors and accomplishments will be of no use to us after we die, nor will the admiration of the world, because these things have no eternal value. As King Solomon put it, “For a man may do his work with wisdom, knowledge and skill, and then he must leave all he owns to someone who has not worked for it. This too is meaningless and a great misfortune. What does a man get for all the toil and anxious striving with which he labors under the sun? All his days his work is pain and grief; even at night his mind does not rest. This too is meaningless” (Ecclesiastes 2:21-23). (1)

We read in Colossians 3:5, “Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.”

It is not a sin to admire something. It is not a sin to want to be successful in business or to make a good living. But if you become obsessed with it and are willing to do whatever it takes to get it, when that is the most important thing in life to you, that can become coveting and idolatry.

Blessings,

Raj Kosaraju



References:

(1) CEO, S. Michael Houdmann, http://www.gotquestions.org/idolatry-     modern.html#ixzz2TIDOB0u0





Monday, May 13, 2013

The Creation Story


The story of how God made everything is, naturally, at the very beginning of the Bible:

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was empty, a formless mass cloaked in darkness. And the Spirit of God was hovering over its surface. Then God said, "Let there be light," and there was light. And God saw that it was good. Then he separated the light from the darkness. God called the light "day" and the darkness "night." (NLT, Genesis 1:1-5)

That was the first day of God's creation.

On the second day, God created the sky.

On the third day, God created the land, the oceans and all the plants.

On the fourth day, God created the sun, moon and stars.

On the fifth day, God created the birds, fishes and other sea creatures.

On the sixth day, God created all the land animals and people.

On the seventh day, God rested:

By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done. (NIV, Genesis 2:2-3)

It means that God rules over all space and time and history. It means that God created the world for his glory and directs the cosmos to his purpose. It means that no one can truly thwart his plans or frustrate his determination. It means that we are secure in the knowledge that God’s sovereign purpose to redeem a people through the atonement accomplished by his Son will be fully realized. And it also means that human leaders, no matter their title, rank, or job description, are not really in charge.

But, not only is God greater than to be held by any one place, he is also said to be in all places. The psalmist writes, “Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there! If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me” (Psalm 139:7-10). There is no place we can go to escape from the presence of God. For the believer, this is a most reassuring thing to know. No matter where we go, God knows where we are, and he watches over us. For the unbeliever, however, this is one of the most frustrating and angering ideas possible. Nothing they do is hidden from the Lord. God is always with us; either in a loving, caring way, or in a judging, wrathful way. God is everywhere!

First, let's look at the prefix "Omni-"

Omni - Generally means "In all ways" or "infinite in nature."

Therefore:

Omni-potence - All Power; Unlimited and Absolute. Self-destruction is impossible, by nature.

Omni-present - All Places and everywhere present; Unlimited and beyond Space and Time. Everywhere and nowhere are identical.

Omni-science - All knowledge; arises from both Omnipotence and Omnipresence. Intrinsic knowledge by infinite potential and Self-Existence.

The conclusions:

Everything is God; nothing is outside of God - that which is All Reality and Existence; infinite potentiality and beyond space and time. This means God is Eternally not subject to a location; cannot be a "dude" who waits around and neither does He posses any human characteristics, names or emotions.

He cannot be destroyed or Create non-existence because of what He Is. If the "God is invincible and so must destroy himself" and "God is infinite and therefore must be finite" arguments were true, they should simultaneously be false to maintain consistency, which is even more nonsensical. Such arguments of God's limitations (fail to) refute God with illogical premises and have no valid foundation, often ignoring the non-dualistic paradigm.
The bottom line is this – we are merely stewards, not lords, of all that is put into our trust. The sovereignty of God puts us in our place, and that place is in God’s service

As God incarnate, Jesus Christ is omnipotent. His power is seen in the miracles He performed—His numerous healings, the feeding of the five thousand (Mark 6:30-44), calming the storm (Mark 4:37-41), and the ultimate display of power, raising Lazarus and Jairus’s daughter from the dead (John 11:38-44; Mark 5:35-43), an example of His control over life and death. Death is the ultimate reason that Jesus came—to destroy it (1 Corinthians 15:22; Hebrews 2:14) and to bring sinners into a right relationship with God. The Lord Jesus stated clearly that He had power to lay down His life and power to take it up again, a fact that He allegorized when speaking about the temple (John 2:19). He had power to call upon twelve legions of angels to rescue Him during His trial, if needed (Matthew 26:53), yet He offered Himself in humility in place of others (Philippians 2:1-11).

The great mystery is that this power can be shared by believers who are united to God in Jesus Christ. Paul says, "Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me" (2 Corinthians 12:9b). God’s power is exalted in us most when our weaknesses are greatest because He “is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us” (Ephesians 3:20). It is God’s power that continues to hold us in a state of grace despite our sin (2 Timothy 1:12), and by His power we are kept from falling (Jude 24). His power will be proclaimed by all the host of heaven for all eternity (Revelation 19:1). May that be our endless prayer!

God is all knowing, He is everywhere, and He is all-powerful. There are six and a half billion people in the world, yet God is intimately acquainted with each one. He knows all about each one of us, where each one is, and indeed knows where you are. He even knows the eternal story of every grain of sand. He is also present everywhere with His people. He is in the hospital rooms with the sick, in the “valley of the shadow of death,” in the depth of bereavement, the camps of cholera breakouts, in the many wars waged on earth, even in the atrocities of such wars – He is there, no matter what the circumstance, and not one person is able to hide from Him. God is absolutely inescapable and all-powerful in His sovereignty. As an anonymous philosopher’s statement summarizes, “God’s center is everywhere, His circumference is nowhere.”

We know that He is always walking with us.  We know that He sees everything we are struggling with and everything we are going through.  We know that He sees what we need, and we know that He will provide it for us.  Praise Him today for His omniscience, His omnipotence, and His omnipresence, and rest in the knowledge that He will never leave you or forsake you.

It has nothing to do with wealth, accomplishments, stature in life, or standard of living. It has to do with living a life of obedience to the Father. And when we live a life of obedience to the Father, we will fulfill the purposes that God had in mind when he made you and me.

Blessings,

Raj Kosaraju 

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Godly parents




God exhorts us to honor father and mother. He values honoring parents enough to include it in the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:12) and again in the New Testament: “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. Honor your father and mother which is the first commandment with a promise, so that it may be well with you, and that you may live long on the earth” (Ephesians 6:1-3). Honoring parents is the only command in Scripture that promises long life as a reward. Those who honor their parents are blessed (Jeremiah 35:18-19). In contrast, those with a “depraved mind” and those who exhibit ungodliness in the last days are characterized by disobedience to parents (Romans 1:30; 2 Timothy 3:2).

Obviously, we are commanded to honor our parents, but how? Honor them with both actions and attitudes (Mark 7:6). Honor their unspoken as well as spoken wishes. “A wise son heeds his father's instruction, but a mocker does not listen to rebuke” (Proverbs 13:1). In Matthew 15:3-9, Jesus reminded the Pharisees of the command of God to honor their father and mother. They were obeying the letter of the law, but they had added their own traditions that essentially overruled it. While they honored their parents in word, their actions proved their real motive. Honor is more than lip service. The word “honor” in this passage is a verb and, as such, demands a right action.

Jonathan L. Perz in his expository notes finds that in many homes, children have been provoked to wrath because of the father's absence. In some cases, a mother has chosen a lifestyle that precludes a father, sometimes for selfish reasons. A mother will have to deal with these consequences. Yet, more often than not, it is due to the neglect, irresponsibility, and selfishness of a father that the home does not feel his presence. In many seemingly normal homes (i.e., both parents in the home in a fairly stable situation), children are provoked to anger because the father is simply too busy to be a father (e.g., climbing the corporate ladder, pursuing personal hobbies, etc.). In other situations, the father is too overbearing. In some cases, the father is abusive, both physically and emotionally. In many homes, the father is hypocritical, demanding things of his family that he does not demand of himself. All of these things can and will provoke a child to wrath and must be avoided.

The second primary aspect of a father's responsibility is to bring his children up in the training and admonition of the Lord. The need for this command to be realized in today's society could not be more keenly felt. Under Christ, the father is the spiritual head of the home (cf. Eph. 5:22-24; 1 Cor. 11:3). His presence (i.e., Christ's through the example and teaching of the father) should be felt in the home, in its rules, its worship, and through the father's gentle love, leadership and example.

Jack North of Ambassador for Christ says our goal with our children is to prepare them for the day when they launch out of our home into their own lives!

When our children are small we work hard to protect them physically and emotionally and spiritually from things that could harm them and to teach them how to live. But we must always remember that our job is not just to protect them; and our job is not to keep them with us as long as possible.

Rather, our job is to develop them in life and in their relationship with the Lord so that one day they are able to step out of our harboring home and live fruitful, God-glorifying lives on their own. And we are preparing them to lead families of their own one day.

Whether your kids are small or teenagers, God wants you to constantly think about how you can develop them spiritually to be able to walk with God apart from you, and how to develop them as people for the same purpose.

Lastly, but not the least I liked the following quotes by Sharon Jaynes.

You, too, can pray that your children will:
  1. Know Christ as Savior early in life. (Psalm 63:1, 2 Timothy 3:15)
  2. Have a hatred for sin. (Psalm 97:10)
  3. Be caught when guilty. (Psalm 119:71)
  4. Be protected from the evil one in each area of their lives: spiritual, emotional, and physical. (John 17:15)
  5. Have a responsible attitude in all their interpersonal relationships. (Daniel 6:3)
  6. Respect those in authority over them. (Romans 13:1)
  7. Desire the right kind of friends and be protected from the wrong friends. (Proverbs 1:10-11)
  8. Be kept from the wrong mate and saved for the right one. (2 Corinthians 6:14-17)
  9. Be kept pure until marriage (as well as the one they marry). (1 Corinthians 6:18-20)
  10. Learn to totally submit to God and actively resist Satan in all things. (James 4:7)
  11. Be single-hearted, willing to be sold out to Jesus Christ. (Romans 12:1-2)
  12. Be hedged in so they cannot find their way to wrong people or wrong places and that the wrong people cannot find their way to them. (Hosea 2:6)
The Lord uses godly mothers and fathers to build character into the lives of their children. The most effective parents explain a biblical principle and seek to live it out themselves. If you haven't been the mother or father God has called you to be, don't let Satan condemn and discourage you. Surrender your life to God, and ask Him to help you correct your course.

Blessings,

Raj Kosaraju



Friday, May 10, 2013

Gospel is a major test for God's children





Here is the gospel: Man is hopelessly, eternally lost. Left to his own devices, he will not only destroy himself, but everything and everyone around him. But on a cross hung a bleeding, dying Savior who said, "I am doing this for you." We are saved through the shed blood of Jesus.

In a perfect world, Christians would be people without any disagreements. Unfortunately this isn’t a perfect world, it’s a fallen one, and even the Church sees its share of conflict between members. Pastors argue, Churches split, and professed Christians hold grudges against their brothers and sisters. This last one is something I particularly struggle with. A few years ago I was in a really bad place; I was feeling hurt and angry because of something some other Christians had said to me.

Christ lists three ways people show their ill-feelings toward others. Cursing indicates verbally denigrating others and working to destroy their reputation; gossiping. Hatred implies an active, passionate feeling against another. Spitefully using and persecuting means continually at war with, harassing, always being on another's case.

He also specifies three ways a Christian can combat these actions. We can bless, meaning giving good words for bad. We can also do good for our enemies, not merely restrain ourselves from retaliation. Lastly, we can pray for them and for their welfare, asking God to change their hearts so a two-way love can exist.

This is a major test for God's children. God wants us to do this so that we may resemble Him—be in His image—because this is the way He is. If a man has this love, he is like God. God shows us His love in this very manner. Despite what we do on His great green earth, the sun still shines, the rain still falls, and He is constantly providing for and working toward our salvation.

However, salvation is not the product of good works. We come into the world with a corrupt nature, and all our wrongdoing is born of a heart turned away from the Lord. Because we are sinful people, we sin. It's that simple. The good news is that in the salvation experience, we are given a brand-new nature (2 Cor. 5:17). Our sin is wiped away because Jesus Christ sacrificed Himself for us. From the moment we trust in Him, the Holy Spirit dwells in our heart so that we can live righteously.

The whole system of Christianity rests upon the fact that “Christ is risen from the dead;” for, “If Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain: ye are yet in your sins.” The divinity of Christ finds its surest proof in his resurrection, since he was “Declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead.” It would not be unreasonable to doubt his Deity if he had not risen. Moreover, Christ's sovereignty depends upon his resurrection, “For to this end Christ both died, and rose, and revived, that he might be Lord both of the dead and living.”

There are people in our world who have lived their entire lives by selfish and evil means. It's as if something good was left out of them, and they are incapable of doing what is good. The way we deal with people like that is to forgive them and vow we will never be like them. Evil people are not to be hated, but pitied. They are our mission in life. Lives devoid of the Good News are lives not worth living. Reach out to people who do wrong through your prayers. They need them most of all.

While the enemy may make a last-ditch effort to discourage you and to divert the plans God has for your life, he will not win.

When Jesus died on the cross and rose from the grave, He secured the victory for us. Jesus’ triumph over death also gave us the victory over death’s grip, both here on earth and in eternity. No longer do we have to be held in bondage to sin on earth. No longer do we have to pay the price of death for our sins on earth either.

Jesus’ sacrifice covered it all.

God loves you and when you place your faith and hope in Him, He will deliver you from all the wiles of the enemy. The victory has already been won!

God promises us in the gospel that He will not only forgive and cleanse us, but also be with us. There is instant access for those who trust in Jesus to the Presence and glory of God. As we worship, pray, read the Scripture, walk in Christian community, we sense that we are not alone. And never will be again.

Blessings,

Raj Kosaraju