Fireside

HT March 2017 quiz 27
HT Feb 2017 quiz

Optimism built on solid foundation

 

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Being content and happy pay rich dividends in our lives. If we have an attitude of looking on the bright side of life, there is a chance of good health. According to a report appeared on Daily Mirror regarding optimism and health, people who have high optimism may engage in a healthy lifestyle that minimizes health risks and increases health and well-being. Perhaps, when people have a positive outlook on life, they undertake actions more likely to produce good outcomes. Research team led by Dr Eric Kim of Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health in Boston conducted a study on 70000 women about the positive effects of optimism. They found out that optimistic people a third less likely to die from conditions like cancer, heart diseases and stroke than more pessimistic people. Dr Eric Kim said, “While most medical and public health efforts today focus on reducing risk factors for diseases, evidence has been mounting that enhancing psychological resilience may also make a difference. Our new findings suggest that we should make efforts to boost optimism, which has been shown to be associated with healthier behaviours and healthier ways of coping with life challenges.”

Christians have one of the greatest optimistic teachings imparted by our Master. “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?  Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? (Matthew 6: 25-26). While the world’s optimism is totally depend on things on earth, a Christian’s optimism is completely relied on his faith in Jesus. Biblical optimism does not give much stress on earthly things. It can cope with any hard situations because it believes that “all things work together for good to those who love God and are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28).

Randy Alcorn’s writing about Biblical Optimism is an eye opener. “If we build our lives on the solid foundation of Jesus Christ’s eternity-shaping redemptive work, we can be optimists. Why? Because even our most painful experience is but a temporary setback. Our pain and suffering may or may not be relieved in this life, but will certainly be relieved in the next. That is Christ’s promise—no more death, crying or pain; he will wipe away all our tears (Revelation 21:4). Indeed, any other foundation is sand, not rock. It will inevitably disappoint us.”

Jack Wellman in Patheos.com puts reasons for Christians to be optimistic. “Don’t we have every reason to be optimistic?  We have had our sins forgiven (Colossians 1:14).  We have had the righteousness of Christ imputed or accounted toward us (2 Corinthians 5:21) and we who have repented and trusted in Christ have eternal life (John 3:16).  This means that when Christ returns, we won’t have to face the so-called second death (Revelation 20:14) and that gives believers every reason to have optimism about their future.”

“Christ said to His disciples, who would suffer much, “Rejoice that your names are written in heaven” (Luke 10:20). Our optimism isn’t “health and wealth gospel” wishful thinking which claims that God will spare us from suffering here and now. Peter said, “Rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed” (1 Peter 4:13). Christ’s future glory, in which His children will participate, is the reason for our present rejoicing while suffering,” writes Randy Alcorn. Biblical optimism is much higher than the worldly optimism. It is rejoicing in sufferings and it helps us to trust in heavenly things, not the things on earth.

By Prakash P Koshy

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Life Changing New Year Resolutions

    1. Resolve to prepare for His second coming

Earth quakes, terrorist attacks, natural disasters and war wreck havoc in many nations. Even the safest places are not free from such unpredictable catastrophes. Such events indicate that the coming of Lord is at hand. So it’s time to seek things that are above and live in hope of eternity. “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.” Colossians 3:1-2

    1. Resolve to fight sin.

Sin is easily accessible now than ever before. Human inventions, technology, mobility, communication facility and the new world order make sin viable, affordable, accessible and fashionable. The word of God does not change according to times and evolving technology. Recognize the aspects, people and situations that set off temptations and resultant sin. Keep away from such things. “You were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.” 1 Corinthians 6: 20. “Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry.  Because of these, the wrath of God is coming.” Colossians 3: 5- 6

    1. Resolve to be grateful.

Be grateful to God for the wonderful life and the greatest gift, Jesus Christ. Also, be thankful for the innumerable blessings in our lives. Many people around the world are in pathetic situations because of war, calamities and famine. They may be near to us or on the other side of the globe. Think about them and do not worry about what we do not have. Praise God for spiritual and earthly blessings. A thankful attitude brightens up our own lives and lives around us.  “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.” Colossians 3: 15

    1. Resolve to spend more time on Scriptures

It is a common resolution most Christians take and follow it during the initials days of the new year. But, later many ignore this resolution. If we are away from the word of God, we are closer to Satan. Though many will not accept this fact, it is true. Scripture is the light in our dark paths, a right indicator at crossroads, a solace in gloomy situations and a purifying factor in culture cauldron. Make reading and meditation of the Scripture a strict habit.  Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly….” Colossians 3: 16

    1. Resolve to know Jesus better

Paul has known Jesus Christ for thirty years and has experienced celestial visitations and visions. But still he wants to know Him more. We cannot compare our lives with Paul’s. He was the greatest warrior of the Lord, fighting till the last breath.. Paul was a truly passionate follower of Jesus Christ. If such a person wants to know Him better, where are we?   “But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ.  What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ  and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in  Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith.” Philippians 3:7-9.

    1. Resolve to allot time for prayer

Prayer is power, so less prayer means less power. It is a dominant spiritual tool. “And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.” Ephesians 6:18. Jesus Christ, son of God had shown us a great example that He spent a considerable time in prayer when He was on earth. The effectiveness of a prayer depends not on its length, but on its intensity. When we grow in Christ we will understand prayer is not about asking things, but it is a continuous communication between two closed persons.

    1. Resolve to consider others’ needs

We live in a world where brands revolve around ‘I’. And people believe nothing is wrong in selfish motives and selfish gains. Be different. Take a decision to offer small help to others. Sometimes a smile can bring cheers on others’ faces. Separate a portion of our materials, wealth and time for others and the unfortunate. We may not spend our entire life in serving others, but we can make others happy by offering timely help in their distress. Instead of focusing on our lives and its troubles look around and be aware of the needs of others.  “Not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” Philippians 2:4

By Prakash P Koshy

 

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HE was SURE

“A man with leprosy come to Him and begged Him on his knees, ‘If You are willing, you can make me clean.’ Filled with compassion, Jesus reached out His hand and touched the man.  ‘I am willing ‘, He said. ‘Be clean ’. Immediately the leprosy left him and he was cured. ” (Mark 1 : 40-42)

Jesus spoke with clarity and sincerity.

Because He was the Truth. the words He spoke were acceptable to the openminded hearer. Only His enemies tried to twist their meaning. Jesus acted decisively. On numerous occasions, He was confronted with emergency Situations. Many times He was called upon to deal instantly with complex cases. He did so without hesitation.

His handling of His itinerary gave Him the confidence of His disciples. His leadership was evidenced in many eventful ways.

He was sure, and wanted the disciples to be sure. Peter said to Jesus, “We believe and know that You are the Holy One of God.” (John 6 : 69). And Jesus, in His High priestly prayer was able to pray, “They knew with certainty that I came from you… ” (John l7 :8;

After Jesus had gone back to heaven. Peter was put in prison and the Lord let him: “Then Peter came to himself and said, ‘Now I know without a doubt that the Lord sent His angel and rescued me. ’” (Acts 12 : 11).

Doubt causes wavering, but certainty emboldens, strengthens and reassures.

His words were plain and they were sure.

They would for even more endure.

Of hesitancy there was none,

The Saviour spoke and it was done.

How many times He said, ‘I will’,

And to the sea said, ‘Peace be still’.

So positive His tendency,

The Saviour spoke with certainty.

His promises He will fulfill,

He has the power to instill

His life to ev’ryone who will

Let Him come in. the heart to fill

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Lessons on Money

 

When it feels overwhelming to look at your budget, your wallet, your bank account, or your bills in general, keep the following things in mind:

  1. God is in control. It bears repeating that no matter what kind of a mess you have made out of your money, God sees it and knows what you have done. He knows what it will take to bring you back to a place of financial stability and freedom, and what must be done in order to achieve your long-term financial goals. Stressing over it and giving yourself an ulcer will not bring you one cent closer to financial peace, but trusting that God will help you through it as long as you obey His commandments will let you sleep at night.“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” ~ Philippians 4:6-7
  2. You cannot fix it overnight. It took longer than a day to make the financial debt, and it will take longer than a day to fix it…unless you are one of those insanely lucky people who inherit millions and get out of debt instantly.
    “Permanence, perseverance and persistence in spite of all obstacles, discouragements and impossibilities: It is this, that in all things distinguishes the strong soul from the weak.” ~ Thomas Carlyle
  3. God’s promises are never lies. If you find a promise in the Word of God, you can rest assured that it will not return void. There is absolutely no chance of God reneging on something that He says that He will or will not do, so trust Him implicitly. Even when what He has commanded seems outrageous or downright foolish, do it; you will never be let down by the results. However, I cannot stress enough that you must seek God and be sure that you are hearing His voice…if there is doubt, seek counsel from a Godly person that you trust, and if it goes against His Word in any way, it is NOT God.“God is not a man, that He should lie, nor a son of man, that He should repent; has He said, and will He not do it? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good? “Behold, I have received a command to bless; When He has blessed, then I cannot revoke it.” ~Proverbs 23:19-20
  4. You might mess up sometimes. In fact, I can almost guarantee that there will be a setback or two (or ten) in your journey to financial freedom. We are human, things break or need replacing, and sometimes things just change. Most of these situations we cannot control, but that is what your emergency fund, savings account, etc… covers. If you do not have one yet, do not panic. Just do your best to get back on track, keep focused, and dedicate every expenditure to prayer until you are once again meeting your goals.“You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. In fact, it may be necessary to encounter the defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you can still come out of it.” ~Maya Angelou
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Learn to Know His Voice

“…and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name … and his sheep follow him because they know his voice”. John 10:3-4 NIV

How do we learn to “know his voice”?

First we expect God has something to say to us. As parents we always have something to say to our children and the same is true of God. Often it may simply be the assurance of his love and care.

Not only is expectation necessary, but also a desire to hear from God. Jesus often said, “whoever has ears, let them hear”. This phrase speaks of deliberately tuning in to what God is saying.

Sometimes I find myself reading the Bible, yet my mind is elsewhere. Even in church I can be singing and yet my mind is far away. Lately I have been challenged to pay attention and focus on God. It’s not always easy. I may not want to listen to God for fear of what he might say. Yet I know, and remind myself, there is no need to fear him who loves me perfectly.

God speaks in many ways. Through reading the Bible, praying and other spiritual disciplines we prepare ourselves to listen. Sometimes words will grab our attention in a way they haven’t done before, or an impression or a desire comes to us after prayer, or maybe an idea drops into our mind that we know is not our own, but is it from God?

It takes preparation and practice to “know his voice” but it will happen as we make the effort to listen.

Meditation by  Susan Barnes

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HE is FAITHFUL

“Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised us is faithful. ” (Hebrews 10 : 23)
Jesus was faithful to his Father. He was faithful to his disciples. He faithfully completed His mission at great cost to Himself. He is faithful to His followers in the present age.
How reassuring to know that He is faithful to us. “He will remain faithful ” (2 Timothy 2 :13). “But the Lord is faithful and He will strengthen and protect you. ” (2 Thessalonians 3 : 3).
Jesus commended faithfulness. On more than one occasion He told parables in which a master commended his servant with the words ‘Well done, good and faithful servant’.
We, His followers, are exhorted to be faithful to our Lord. It is a great encouragement to know that He is faithful to us. Jesus said of His followers. “I know them and they follow Me… no-one can snatch them out of My hand. ” (John 10 : 27-28).
Faithfulness brings its own rewards. “A faithful man will be richly blessed. ” (Proverbs 28 : 20). And we are helped in the knowledge that Jesus was and is faithful. “God who has called you into fellowship with His Son Jesus Christ our Lord, is faithful. ” (1 Corinthians 1 :9).

Lord when we try your patience sore.
As we’ve so often done before.
Do silly things You can’t ignore,
You’re still our Faithful Lord.
We are but sheep, Great Shepherd King,
And prone to go a-wandering.
Your voice is heard gently calling
Good Shepherd, Faithful Lord.
We would be faithful Lord to You.
There’s so much work for us to do.
You help us to be faithful too.
You’re still our Faithful Lord.

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