Friday, July 19, 2013

Envision God's Invincible Protection



"And when the servant of the man of God arose early and went out, there was an army, surrounding the city with horses and chariots. And his servant said to him, “Alas, my master! What shall we do?”
So he answered, “Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.”  And Elisha prayed, and said, “Lord, I pray, open his eyes that he may see.”  Then the Lord opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw.  And behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha."

(2 Kings 6:15-17) 


The big edge for Christians is that God is with us. Believers caught in the grinder of life sometimes find that truth hard to imagine.  In a see, smell, taste, hear, feel world invisible protection doesn't seem too invincible!  So, before we become critical of this young servant, we ought to take a good look at ourselves. 

Awareness of God's insurmountable hedge of protection can be a real key to emotional security.  Getting mental images of how he might be shielding us from danger can go a long way toward putting our fears to rest.  Try it!  Then believe it is true.  In fact, God's security system is far more sophisticated and elaborate than anyone can imagine.  Absolutely nothing enters our lives that he does not permit. 

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Thursday, July 18, 2013

THINE IS THE KINGDOM…



There are certain mountains only God can climb. Ascend them and you’ll end up bruised and embarrassed. Stay away from them and you’ll sidestep a lot of stress. These mountains are described in the final phrase of the Lord’s prayer, “Thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.” A trio of peaks mantled by the clouds. Admire them, applaud them, but don’t climb them. 

It’s not that you aren’t welcome to try, it’s just that you aren’t able. The pronoun is thine, not mine; thine is the kingdom, not mine is the kingdom. If the word Savior is in your job description, it’s because you put it there. Your role is to help the world, not save it. Mount Messiah is one mountain you weren’t made to climb. 

Nor is Mount Self-Sufficient. You aren’t able to run the world, nor are you able to sustain it. Some of you think you can. You are self-made. You don’t bow your knees, you just roll up your sleeves and put in another twelve-hour day … which may be enough when it comes to making a living or building a business. But when you face your own grave or your own guilt, your power will not do the trick. 

You were not made to run a kingdom, nor are you expected to be all-powerful. And you certainly can’t handle all the glory. Mount Applause is the most seductive of the three peaks. The higher you climb the more people applaud, but the thinner the air becomes. More than one person has stood at the top and shouted, “Mine is the glory!” only to lose their balance and fall. 

“Thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever.” 

What protection this final phrase affords 

As you confess that God is in charge, you admit that you aren’t. 

As you proclaim that God has power, you admit that you don’t. 

And as you give God all the applause, there is none left to dizzy your brain. 

Max Lucado  


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Saturday, July 13, 2013

How the Apostles Died




This is an eye opener, and a review on how those real martyrs died for their belief; it makes us question ourselves: How strong is our belief???  And how much we are ready to sacrifice for JESUS, HE who gave all to save us???  All HE expects from us is just to live by The Word...

Jesus said: "Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed!!!"  (John 20:29)


1 - Matthew
Suffered martyrdom in Ethiopia, killed by a sword wound.

2 - Mark
Died in Alexandria , Egypt , after being dragged by horses through the streets until he was dead.

3 - Luke
Was hanged in Greece as a result of his tremendous preaching to the lost.

4 - John
Faced martyrdom when he was boiled in huge basin of boiling oil during a wave of persecution in Rome .. However, he was miraculously delivered from death.  John was then sentenced to the mines on the prison island of Patmos. He wrote his prophetic Book of Revelation on Patmos . The apostle John was later freed and returned to serve as Bishop of Edessa in modern Turkey . He died as an old man, the only apostle to die peacefully.

5 - Peter 
He was crucified upside down on an x-shaped cross. According to church tradition it was because he told his tormentors that he felt unworthy to die in the same way that Jesus Christ had died.

6 - James
Just The leader of the church in Jerusalem , was thrown over a hundred feet down from the southeast pinnacle of the Temple when he refused to deny his faith in Christ. When they discovered that he survived the fall, his enemies beat James to death with a fuller's club.
* This was the same pinnacle where Satan had taken Jesus during the Temptation.

7 - James the Great
Son of Zebedee, was a fisherman by trade when Jesus called him to a lifetime of ministry. As a strong leader of the church, James was ultimately beheaded at Jerusalem . The Roman officer who guarded James watched amazed as James defended his faith at his trial. Later, the officer walked beside James to the place of execution. Overcome by conviction, he declared his new faith to the judge and knelt beside James to accept beheading as a Christian.

8 - Bartholomew
Also known as Nathaniel Was a missionary to Asia . He witnessed for our Lord in present day Turkey . Bartholomew was martyred for his preaching in Armenia where he was flayed to death by a whip.

9 - Andrew
Was crucified on an x-shaped cross in Patras , Greece . After being whipped severely by seven soldiers they tied his body to the cross with cords to prolong his agony. His followers reported that, when he was led toward the cross, Andrew saluted it in these words: 'I have long desired and expected this happy hour. The cross has been consecrated by the body of Christ hanging on it.' He continued to preach to his tormentors for two days until he expired.

10 - Thomas
Was stabbed with a spear in India during one of his missionary trips to establish the church in the sub-continent.

11 - Jude
Was killed with arrows when he refused to deny his faith in Christ..

12 - Matthias
The apostle chosen to replace the traitor Judas Iscariot, was stoned and then beheaded.

13 - Paul
Was tortured and then beheaded by the evil Emperor Nero at Rome in A.D. 67. Paul endured a lengthy imprisonment, which allowed him to write his many epistles to the churches he had formed throughout the Roman Empire . These letters, which taught many of the foundational doctrines of Christianity, form a large portion of the New Testament.


Perhaps this is a reminder to us that our sufferings here are indeed minor compared to the intense persecution and cold cruelty faced by the apostles disciples during their times for the sake of the Faith. And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake:


But he that endureth to the end shall be saved.  (Matthew 10:22)


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Wednesday, July 3, 2013

1 - HUMILITY: THE GLORY OF THE CREATURE




1 - HUMILITY:
THE GLORY OF THE CREATURE  


"They shall cast their crowns before the throne, so saying: Worthy are You, our Lord and our God, to receive the glory, and the honour and the power: for You did create all things, and because of Your will they are, and were created."  Rev. 4:11


When God created the universe, it was with the one object of making the creature partaker of His perfection and blessedness, and so showing forth in it the glory of His love and wisdom and power. God wished to reveal Himself in and through created beings by communicating to them as much of His own goodness and glory as they were capable of receiving. But this communication was not a giving to the creature something which it could possess in itself, a certain life or goodness, of which it had the charge and disposal. By no means. But as God is the ever-living, ever-present, ever-acting One, who upholds all things by the word of His power, and in whom all things exist, the relation of the creature to God could only be one of unceasing, absolute, universal dependence. As truly as God by His power once created, so truly by that same power must God every moment maintain. The creature has not only to look back to the origin and first beginning of existence, and acknowledge that it there owes everything to God; its chief care, its highest virtue, its only happiness, now and through all eternity, is to present itself an empty vessel, in which God can dwell and manifest His power and goodness.

The life God bestows is imparted not once for all, but each moment continuously, by the unceasing operation of His mighty power. Humility, the place of entire dependence on God, is, from the very nature of things, the first duty and the highest virtue of the creature, and the root of every virtue.

And so pride, or the loss of this humility, is the root of every sin and evil. It was when the now fallen angels began to look upon themselves with self-complacency that they were led to disobedience, and were cast down from the light of heaven into outer darkness. Even so it was, when the serpent breathed the poison of his pride, the desire to be as God, into the hearts of our first parents, that they too fell from their high estate into all the wretchedness in which man is now sunk. In heaven and earth, pride, self-exaltation, is the gate and the birth, and the curse, of hell. (See Note "A" at end of chapter.)

Hence it follows that nothing can be our redemption, but the restoration of the lost humility, the original and only true relation of the creature to its God. And so Jesus came to bring humility back to earth, to make us partakers of it, and by it to save us. In heaven He humbled Himself to become man. The humility we see in Him possessed Him in heaven; it brought Him, He brought it, from there. Here on earth "He humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death"; His humility gave His death its value, and so became our redemption. And now the salvation He imparts is nothing less and nothing else than a communication of His own life and death, His own disposition and spirit, His own humility, as the ground and root of His relation to God and His redeeming work. Jesus Christ took the place and fulfilled the destiny of man, as a creature, by His life of perfect humility. His humility is our salvation. His salvation is our humility.

And so the life of the saved ones, of the saints, must needs bear this stamp of deliverance from sin, and full restoration to their original state; their whole relation to God and man marked by an all pervading humility. Without this there can be no true abiding in God's presence, or experience of His favor and the power of His Spirit; without this no abiding faith, or love or joy or strength. Humility is the only soil in which the graces root; the lack of humility is the sufficient explanation of every defect and failure. Humility is not so much a grace or virtue along with others; it is the root of all, because it alone takes the right attitude
before God, and allows Him as God to do all.

God has so constituted us as reasonable beings, that the truer the insight into the real nature or the absolute need of a command, the readier and fuller will be our obedience to it. The call to humility has been too little regarded in the Church because its true nature and importance has been too little apprehended. It is not a something which we bring to God, or He bestows; it is simply the sense of entire nothingness, which comes when we see how truly God is all, and in which we make way for God to be all. When the creature realizes that this is the true nobility, and consents to be with his will, his mind, and his affections, the form, the vessel in which the life and glory of God are to work and manifest themselves, he sees that humility is simply acknowledging the truth of his position as creature, and yielding to God His place.

In the life of earnest Christians, of those who pursue and profess holiness, humility ought to be the chief mark of their uprightness. It is often said that it is not so. May not one reason be that in the teaching and example of the Church, it has never had that place of supreme importance which belongs to it? And that this, again, is owing to the neglect of this truth, that strong as sin is as a motive to humility, there is one of still wider and mightier influence, that which makes the angels, that which made Jesus, that which makes the holiest of saints in heaven, so humble; that the first and chief mark of the relation of the creature, the secret of his blessedness, is the humility and nothingness which leaves God free to be all?

I am sure there are many Christians who will confess that their experience has been very much like my own in this, that we had long known the Lord without realizing that meekness and lowliness of heart are to be the distinguishing feature of the disciple as they were of the Master. And further, that this humility is not a thing that will come of itself, but that it must be made the object of special desire and prayer and faith and practice. As we study the word, we shall see what very distinct and often repeated instructions Jesus gave His disciples on this point, and how slow they were in understanding Him. Let us, at the very commencement of our meditations, admit that there is nothing so natural to man, nothing so insidious and hidden from our sight, nothing so difficult and dangerous, as pride. Let us feel that nothing but a very determined and persevering waiting on God and Christ will discover how lacking we are in the grace of humility, and how impotent to obtain what we seek. Let us study the character of Christ until our souls are filled with the love and admiration of His lowliness. And let us believe that, when we are broken down under a sense of our pride, and our impotence to cast it out, Jesus Christ Himself will come in to impart this grace too, as a part of His wondrous life
within us.

NOTE A--

"All this is to make it known the region of eternity that pride can degrade the highest angels into devils, and humility raise fallen flesh and blood to the thrones of angels. Thus, this is the great end of God raising a new creation out of a fallen kingdom of angels: for this end it stands in its state of war betwixt the fire and pride of fallen angels, and the humility of the Lamb of God, that the last trumpet may sound the great truth through the depths of eternity, that evil can have no beginning but from pride, and no end but from humility. The truth is this: Pride may die in you, or nothing of heaven can live in you. Under the banner of the truth, give yourself up to the meek and humble spirit of the holy Jesus. Humility must sow seed, or there can be no reaping in Heaven. Look not at pride only as an unbecoming temper, nor at humility only as a decent virtue: for the one is death, and the other is life; the one is all hell, the other is all heaven. So much as you have of pride within you, you have of the fallen angels alive in you; so much as you have of true humility, so much you have of the Lamb of God within you. Could you see what every stirring of pride does to your soul, you would beg of everything you meet to tear the viper from you, though with the loss of a hand or an eye. Could you see what a sweet, divine, transforming power there is in humility, how it expels the poison of your nature, and makes room for the Spirit of God to live in you, you would rather wish to be the footstool of all the world than want the smallest degree of it." --Spirit of Prayer, Pt.II, p.73, Edition of Moreton, Canterbury, 1893.
Humility - Andrew Murray 


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Monday, July 1, 2013

Saint Moses The Black



24th Day of the Blessed Month of Baounah

Martyrdom of the Great Saint Anba Moses The Black



On this day, St. Moses the Black, whose life story is remarkable, was martyred. This saint took the Kingdom of Heaven by force, exactly as our Lord Jesus Christ said: "The Kingdom of Heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force." (Matthew 11:12)

In his early life, St. Moses was a slave to people who worshiped the sun. He was a mighty man who loved to eat and drink excessively. He killed, robbed and committed all evil. No one could stand up before him, or challenge him. On many occasions, he lifted up his eyes to look to the sun and to talk to it saying, "O Sun!! if you are God, let me know it."  Then he said, "And you O God whom I do not know, let me know you."

One day, he heard someone saying to him, "The monks of Wadi El-Natroun know the real God. Go to them and they will tell you."

Instantly, he rose up, girded his sword and went to the wilderness of Shiheat. He met St. Esidorous (Isidore) the priest, who was frightened when he saw him, because of his appearance. St. Moses comforted him by saying that he came to the monks so that they might let him know the real God.  St. Esidorous took him to St. Macarius the Great, who preached to him, taught him the faith and baptized him.  He accepted St. Moses as a monk and taught him to live in the wilderness.  St. Moses dashed in many worships, and fought a spiritual fight which was greater than that fought by many saints.

However, the devil fought him intensively with his old habits of excessive eating, drinking, and fornication. He informed St. Esidorous about everything which came upon him in his fight with the Enemy. He comforted him and taught him how to overcome the snares of the devil.
It was told about him, that when the elders of the Monastery slept, he used to go round to their cells and take their water pots and fill them with water which he brought from a well at a far distance from the monastery.

After many years in spiritual struggle, the devil envied him, and struck him with a sore on his foot which made him sick and bed-ridden. When he knew that this was from the devil, he increased in his asceticism and worship, until his body became as a burnt wood. God looked to his patience, healed his illness, and removed all his pains.
 
The blessing of the Lord came upon him.  After a while, he became the Father and the spiritual guide of 500 brothers, who elected him to be ordained a priest.  When he came before the Patriarch to be ordained, the patriarch wanted to test him by asking the elders, "Who brought this black here? Cast him out." He obeyed, and left saying to himself, "It is good what they have done to you, O black colored one." The Patriarch, however, called him back and ordained him a priest, and said to him, "Moses, all of you now has become white." 

One day, he went with some elders to St. Macarius the Great, who said to them, "I see among you one to whom belong the crown of martyrdom." St. Moses answered him, "Probably it is me, for it is written: 'For all they that take with the sword, shall perish with the sword.'" (Matthew 26:25)  

After they returned to the monastery, it did not take long until the Barbarians attacked the monastery.  He told the brethren, "Whoever wants to escape, let him escape."  They asked him, "And you O father, why do you not also escape?"  He replied that he had waited for this day for long time. 

The Barbarians entered the monastery and killed him with seven other brothers.  One of the brethren was hiding, and saw the angel of the Lord, with a crown in his hand standing by and waiting for him. He went out from his hiding place to the Barbarians and he was also martyred.

Beloved Ones, contemplate in the power of repentance, and what it did.  It transformed an infidel slave who was a murderer, adulterer and robber into a great Father, teacher, comforter, and priest who wrote rules for the monks, and saint whose name is mentioned on the altar in our prayers. 


His Body is located now in the Monastery of El-Baramouse.  
May his prayers be with us, and glory be to God forever Amen.

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