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REPENTANCE — LIVE IN HOLINESS
2 Peter 3: 8-13
"But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells." (2 Peter 3:13)
'Jesus is coming back. It can happen any time. Is it good news or bad news for you?' In the second epistle, Peter emphasizes the need for fruitful growth in faith, warns about the destructive doctrines and false teachers and finally about the need for a life in holiness. The third chapter starts with the assurance that God's promise is not slack. Peter writes that scoffers will challenge the promise of the second coming of the Lord. But here is the reality:  The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise. (Verse 8) What may seem a long delay in our eyes is a brief moment for the Lord. That is why Peter says "with the Lord one day is as a thousand years and a thousand years as one day." Psalmist also says that in 90:4. Peter assures that the promises of the Lord never change. Then why …

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COVENANT: A CALL FOR RENEWAL
Nehemiah 10:28-39

The people of Israel, including the Levites, are to bring their contributions of grain, new wine and olive oil to the storerooms, where the articles for the sanctuary and for the ministering priests, the gatekeepers and the musicians are also kept. (Nehemiah 10:39)
Nehemiah continues the history of the Jews after their homecoming from exile in Babylon where Ezra leaves off. He went to Jerusalem and encouraged the people to repair the city walls. With Ezra he provided religious leadership for the people too. The first half of the book (chapters 1-7) is devoted almost completely to Nehemiah's work of rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem. The second half of the book (chapters 8-13) presents the combined climax of the two reformers' work in the spiritual renewal of the community and related matters. The community enters into a binding agreement to observe various aspects of the Law, mostly, though not entirely, related to the support of the…

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CHURCH — A COMMUNITY OF COVENANT
1 Thessalonians 3:11-4:2
May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else, just as ours does for you. May he strengthen your hearts so that you will be blameless and holy ... (1 Thess. 3:12)
1 Thessalonians is an epistle, a public letter in the sense of being addressed to a whole group, but at many places it reads more like a personal letter to an individual, as it highlights the relationship between the author and the recipients. The purpose of the letter is usually to inform, and this letter informs the Thessalonian church about Paul's feelings toward them, events in his own life and Christian doctrine and practice. The most prominent theme in 1 Thessalonians is the second coming of Jesus. It is mentioned in every chapter of the book.
Paul's joy towards the Thessalonian Church: Thessalonica was the proud capital of the Roman province of Macedonia with a population of over 100,000. It was a free city and was g…

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FAMILY — A SANCTUARY OF COVENANT
Joshua 24:14-15

"But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve... But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord." Joshua 24:15
The last chapter of the book of Joshua, chapter 24, concludes the life and reign of Joshua. In this chapter we read about the great care and pains Joshua took to confirm the people of Israel in the true faith and worship of God, that they might, after his death, persevere in that faith. He therefore charges them to serve God, and wants them to make religion their deliberate choice; and to do so with solid reasons for their choice, and be determined to adhere to their choice as a covenant. He then commits himself and his household into the covenant to serve the Lord.
We live in a world where so much change is happening around us. One such entity that is experiencing considerable change in its structure and function is the family. Most of us continue to en…

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COVENANT: A COMMITMENT OF THE PEOPLE
Joshua 24:22-25

Then Joshua said, "You are witnesses against yourselves that you have chosen to serve the Lord..."Now then," said Joshua, "throw away the foreign gods that are among you and yield your hearts to the Lord, the God of Israel." (Joshua 24:22-23)
In this passage from Joshua, he asks people to make a commitment to serve God, "And the people said to Joshua, "We will serve the LORD our God and obey him." On that day Joshua made a covenant for the people, and there at Shechem he drew up for them decrees and laws." (V.23-24). Shechem was an important place for Israelites; it is also a reminder of their history. This is the place where the bones of Joseph, which had been carried up from Egypt, were buried. This is a reminder to them that God's faithfulness in delivering them from Egypt was by God's choice and not because they deserved it. Therefore, Joshua is choosing this place symbolically t…

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COVENANT: GOD'S PLAN FOR A NEW WORLD ORDER
Genesis 9:9-17
"I will remember my covenant between me and you and all living creatures of every kind. Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life" (Genesis 9: 15)

We live in an age where we engage in various short and long-term commitments. The vows that we make lack permanence and the guarantee that we give lasts only for a very short period, which disrupts relations and destroys life. In Bible we see 'Covenant' as a recurring theme. In today's passage God is making Covenant, which is eternal and life affirming.
God's Covenant: A Guarantee of Sustenance
The Noahic Covenant has a promissory character and inclusiveness for all generations (v.15). This is not only a promise which God gave to Noah or to his children; rather it is a purpose confirmed in the heart of God and is cosmic in nature. The Noahic Covenant is given in the aftermath of flood. The creator God reverses the disaster and re-affirms …

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DISCIPLES WHO WALKED AHEAD
Luke 10:1-11

"Go I am sending you out like lambs among wolves" ( Luke 10:3) In Luke chapter 9 we read about Jesus sending out his 12 apostles. In this chapter we read about sending another 72 apostles (70 in some manuscripts). Some theologians suggest that 70 represent the number of nations known at that time signifying Jesus' ministry to the whole world. They are appointed to go ahead of him in teams of two. We know that Jesus had many followers who were not with him all the time but tried to follow His teachings. Chapter 9 ends with the warning that Jesus demands wholehearted devotion.
Discipleship - A Team Work: Christianity is not a one-man ministry. When we work as a team the members must be ready to adjust and accommodate. Openness and transparency are needed for effective teamwork. There is no question of 'who will be the greatest?'(9:46) Jesus gives them clear instructions regarding their response when they meet people. They have to…

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JOSHUA — WALK IN HOLINESS
Joshua 3:1-8

Joshua told the people, "Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do amazing things among you." (Joshua 3:5)
Joshua the chosen leader: Joshua has become the leader of Israel after the death of Moses. In Joshua Chapter 1:1-9, we read Yahweh re-commissioning Joshua. The Lord asks him, to be strong and courageous and assures him that He will be with him where ever he goes. Only such a person, in whom the spirit of the Lord dwells (Numb 27:8), can cleanse the people. The Israelites cross Jordan and enter Canaan under the leadership of Joshua. He gives strong warning to the people highlighting the need for faithful obedience of the law.
Holy God: Holiness is an attribute of God. The Seraphims who surround God's heavenly throne proclaim "holy, holy, holy" both in the vision that Isaiah has seen (Isaiah 6:3) and that of John (Rev. 4:8) Even the name of the third person of the trinity - the Holy Spirit - indicates that God is…

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WALK IN THE WORD
Psalms 119:105-112
"Your Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light to my path." (Psalm 119:105)

God gave us the Bible as a light to shine through darkness in the world. In Psalm 119, the longest chapter in the Bible, the psalmist shows us his reasons for loving the Bible: it brings light to our path, it teaches us how to satisfy God, it inspires us when we are suffering, it helps us not to wander from God's truth, and it gives us joy.
The last semester of social work school, students are enrolled in a field practicum seminar course. This course allows students to take what they have learned in the classroom and apply it in "real life" practical situations. The students in the course complete their field practicum in various settings like hospitals, prisons, protective agencies, etc. The class meets once a week to discuss and process the experiences that the students encounter. At the end of the semester that I had my field practicum, my professor han…

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JESUS WALKED AHEAD TO THE CROSS
Mark 10:32- 34 "We are going up to Jerusalem," he said, "and the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and the teachers of the law. They will condemn him to death and will hand him over to the Gentiles." (Mark 10:33) As parents of a two year old little girl, one of the lessons we learned very quickly is the fact that no matter what, most suggestions and warnings we give to our daughter must be repeated, and too often, repeated multiple times. Parents of older children have said this often gets worse as they get older. Not only do we repeat ourselves, but the degree of seriousness in our explanation and tone increases. For example, if our daughter is doing something that may cause her to fall we'll say, "Don't do that, you'll fall." Then our next line will be, "Stop doing that, you're going to fall and get hurt." Finally, out of frustration we'll walk over and stop her and say, &qu…

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EMMAUS — A WALK TOGETHER WITH CHRIST
Luke 24:13-35 As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; but they were kept from recognizing him. (Luke 24:15-16) Luke's narrative of the journey to Emmaus by the two followers of Jesus is a unique and beautiful compilation of the post resurrection appearances of Jesus. Emmaus is not only a geographical place but also a place which was perceived as a place which gives some kind of relief from an immediate tragedy, a place for a temporal escape, a runaway place, and a place to where you can withdraw yourself. This journey begins from a despair of shattered dreams or career, from a despair of broken expectations and from a despair of loss and defeat. Here we understand Jesus' engagement with the people who are in despair and trouble.
Journeying with the desperate: The disciples who travelled to Emmaus were on the journey of desperation. They were arguing about what happened in Jeru…

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A WALK OF LITTLE FAITH
Mathew 14:22-33 Jesus reached out his hand and caught him, "You of little faith, why did you  doubt?" (Mathew 14: 31) The disciples witnessed numerous miracles that Jesus performed during their life with Jesus. Just after seeing the miracle of feeding five thousand people with five loaves of bread and two fish, Peter stumbled over the water while walking with Jesus and cried for help. It is at this time, Jesus held his hand and said, "You of little faith, why did you doubt?" Often times the situation is not different in our case. We have experienced numerous blessings from God in our lifetime, but do not have the faith to continue when facing crisis situations.
There is a story about a newly wedded couple who were on their honeymoon trip. They were crossing a sea in a small boat. Suddenly the sea became very violent and the boat was about to sink. Everybody started to panic and pray to their own gods. The wife became so afraid and believed that t…

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MOSES — WALK AHEAD OF THE PEOPLE Exodus 17:1-6 The Lord answered Moses, "Walk on ahead of the people. Take with you some of the elders of Israel and take in your hand the staff with which you struck the Nile, and go. I will stand there before you by the rock at Horeb. (Exodus 17:5,6) The people of Israel wandered in the wilderness for 40 years as God led them through the desert until they reached the promise land. During this time, He was using his servant, Moses, to guide them and teach them His Law that would be handed down through the generations. The people were led by clouds of smoke and pillars of fire. They witnessed the Glory of God many times during this journey as a community. Yet they quarreled with God and tested Him relentlessly. God had just given them the miracle of Manna in the previous chapter of Exodus, so that they had an endless supply of bread to nourish them.
A grumbling people, forgetting God's grant plan on their life: The Israelites just like us today, we…

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CALLING AND APPOINTMENT OF APOSTLES Matthew 10:1-15 As you go, proclaim this message: 'The kingdom of heaven has come near. 'Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give. (Matt. 10:7&8) This passage is about the call and commission of an alternative community, the Apostles. Jesus called ordinary people and commissioned them to continue His mission in the community around them. The term Apostle is mentioned only in this passage in the Gospel of Matthew. The Apostle is "one who is sent away". The purpose of such a sending away is to convey a message. This passage instructs us about the identity and activity of Apostleship. 1. The identity of an Apostle: - This whole chapter narrates the identity and lifestyle of the community of disciples. Here Jesus renamed or ordained the disciples into a new office, 'the Apostle'. The community of disciples is constituted not by birth but by God's …

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HARDSHIPS OF THE APOSTLE
2 Corinthians 11: 16-29 I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches. (2 Cor 11:27-28) This passage indicates powerful and emotional statement of St. Paul in light of the various criticisms and oppositions he encountered in his ministry among the Corinthian church (II Cor. 10:10). He sought to guide the new believers and Jewish Christians (most likely his opponents who emphasized Jewish origins of the faith) towards a deeper understanding of the true Christian lifestyle characterized by selfless love.
True Weakness, through self-exaltation to the world: In this passage, St. Paul adamantly decries the "value" of prideful assertions and claims for the followers of Christ. In fact, he notions that this is not of the divine but that such is "according to human s…

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CALLED TO INTERCEDE Genesis 18: 23-33 Then he said, "May the Lord not be angry, but let me speak just once more. What if only ten can be found there?" He answered, "For the sake often, I will not destroy it." (Genesis 18:23) A deep concern for neighbors:
Abraham takes a bold initiative to plead with God for the forgiveness and mercy for the despicable people of Sodom and Gomorrah. This is the first example of a humorous, step by step bargain-riddled, negotiation or intercession in the Bible. Through obedience and hospitality Abraham received an intimacy with God to enjoy friendship and freedom. This helped him to care for others. In the frankness and transparency of Abraham's relationship with God he was able to question the very essence of a just and righteous God. Abraham is not seeking his own deliverance. His concern is totally other-centered. But why did he stop with ten righteous p…

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STRENGTH OF AN APOSTLE Galatians 6:12-16 "Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything, what counts is a new creation". Gal. 6:15 Galatia was a Roman province in central Asia Minor (modern Turkey). Galatians became Christians as a result of St. Paul's missionary work. However, later on, some other preachers came and confused the Galatians by teaching them that the gentile Christians needs to be circumcised to as per Jewish law. So, St. Paul became very concerned about the hearsay that crept in to the Galatian church, which perverted the gospel of Jesus Christ. So, in very strong words, he condemns the Galatians in Ch. 1:8. In Ch.6: 11,the authenticity of the letter is being established. St. Paul wants to make sure that the Galatians take his letter seriously as it is written by his own hands. He further explains the motivation behind those promoting the false teachings. He also reminds them that even those who are circumcised do not keep the law. But still they co…