Posted in Ages 11 & above, Life Skills

Watch what you watch

During our free time, we long to do those things that we enjoy. Reading books, watching our favorite TV show, playing computer games, listening to our favorite music band, catching up with our friends, etc., are few options we would consider. We need our eyes and ears to be functioning well to indulge in these favorite pass times. Do you know that our eyes and ears also play an important role in determining the course of our life?

Let us open the treasure book to find clues.

OPENING THE TREASURE BOOK undefined

The significance of eyes and ears

Proverbs 23:7 says, “A man is what he thinks”. What fills the inside – the heart, is what comes outside – our actions. So what we fill our hearts with, influences our actions. How do we fill our hearts? We fill our hearts with the information that we “take in” through our eyes and our ears. Let us look into an example that we are all familiar with.

We all know Adam & Eve were deceived by the serpent in the garden of Eden and they sinned. God had clearly instructed them not to eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. They knew very clearly that they should not eat the fruit. But how were they enticed into sinning? How did this idea of eating the fruit get into their heart? The serpent started a conversation with the woman and lied to her.

Then the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

Genesis 3:4-5

So first, they heard the voice of the serpent. This information, even though a lie, got into their hearts through their ears as the voice of the serpent. Secondly, this information they heard from the serpent was strengthened by the sight of the tree.

So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. 

Genesis 3:6

Eve saw the tree was good for food and that it was a pleasant sight to the eyes. She took the fruit and ate it. She also gave her husband and he too ate it without any hesitation. What they heard from the serpent and what they saw with their eyes, influenced their action. Their action was wrong because it was disobedience to God and a sin. God threw them out of the garden. It cost them their good life and comfortable place of living.

Things are not different even today. The information that we collect from what we watch/see and what we hear, influences our thinking and our actions. Even though most of such information contradicts the word of God, we still go behind it and end up sinning. So it is very important to consciously monitor what we watch and listen to – the shows, movies, music and even games because they can lead us to sin. The friend circle around us also matters as we take in information from them too, that influences our action.

In Jesus ministry, many people believed in Him and followed Him when they heard and saw the miracles he did.

Eyes and ears are the “entry ways” for information into our heart – good or bad. So what we watch and listen affects our thinking, our actions and our behavior.

Guard eyes and ears

It is important to guard our eyes & ears as these influence our actions and could lead us to sin. Jesus taught that if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out because it is better to enter life blind than to rot in hell. Word of God is the ultimate truth that teaches us to walk right and act right. So if we fill out hearts with the word, then our actions will be influenced by it.

My son, give attention to my words;
Incline your ear to my sayings.
Do not let them depart from your eyes;
Keep them in the midst of your heart.

Proverbs 4:20-21

We should incline our ears to the word of God and do not let it depart from our eyes. So when we have the word of God take up our eyes and ears, it will go into our hearts too. However, if it departs from our eyes and ears, it will slowly depart from our hearts too!! Haven’t you heard the saying – “out of sight, out of mind“. If the word of God goes out of sight, then eventually it will go out of mind too. The reason why God gave tassels on the garments of Israelites.

In Numbers 15 (37-40), we read that God spoke to Moses to tell the children of Israel to make tassels on the corners of their garments throughout their generations. The tassels were given to them so that each time they look on it they should remember all the commandments of the Lord and do them, and that they do not follow the desires to which their hearts and eyes are naturally inclined to. Cloths are a necessity in life and hence by putting tassels on them, God made sure His words and commands did not depart from their eyes.

Incline your ears to the Word of God and do not let it depart from your eyes. For if it goes out of sight then it goes out of mind.

What to hear and watch

God abides in you. Whatever you listen to and watch, He too is listening and watching. There are certain things that you wouldn’t watch or listen when you are in the company of others. So remember, God is always with you and so watch and listen to only those things you can watch and listen in His company.

Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.

Philippians 4:8

We are instructed to meditate on things that are true, noble, pure, lovely, praise worthy and of good report. We cannot meditate on them unless we hear them or see them. So we need to listen to and watch those that are pure, true, noble, pure, lovely, praise worthy and good things. Abstain from watching and listening to wicked and evil reports. Do not watch intimidating murder or horror or cheating stories that will have an adverse effect on us. As we already established, what we watch and listen to influences us and can lead to sin. So watch out and be conscious about the things you see and listen to. Meditate on the good things.

Treasures uncovered

Eyes and ears are the entry ways for information into our heart – good or bad. So what we watch and listen affects our thinking, our actions and our behavior.

Incline your ears to the Word of God and do not let it depart from your eyes. For if it goes out of sight then it goes out of mind.

Listen to and watch those things that are pure, true, noble, pure, lovely, praise worthy and good things.

Prayer:

Father, we thank you for teaching us that our eyes and ears play an important role in determining the course of our life. Help us to incline our ears to your word and not Iet it depart from our eyes. Help us to fill our heart with good by listening and watching good things acceptable to your sight. In Jesus name, Amen.


Posted in Ages 11 & above, God & Me

Shhh… It’s a Secret !!!

Do you have secrets? Remember the time you bunked classes and went for a movie with your friends? Shhh!!! it is still a secret!!! We all have several secrets that we either keep to ourselves or we share with our most trusted friends.

Even in different walks of life, we see people holding on to different types of secrets. Governments and political leadership have their secret strategies, each country has its own secret defense operations, FBI has their secret missions, restaurants keep their secret recipes, businesses keep their trade secrets and so on.

What does the bible tell us about secrets? Does God have secrets?

Let us open the treasure book and find clues.

Does God have secrets?

The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but those things which are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.

Deuteronomy 29:29

Surely the Lord God does nothing,
Unless He reveals His secret to His servants the prophets.

Amos 3:7

For the perverse person is an abomination to the Lord, But His secret counsel is with the upright.

Proverbs 3:32

God has secrets too. However, His secret counsel is only with the upright. Similar to how we share our little secrets with our most trusted friends, He too shares His secrets with His trusted friends – the upright. The floods during the time of Noah is an example. Noah was upright before God and He revealed the plans of flood only to Noah. We see another example in Genesis 18. God and His angels after visiting Abraham were leaving to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah. Even though it remained a secret to other people, He chose to share with Abraham what He was about to do. Abraham was called “Friend of God” and God revealed His secret mission to His friend, Abraham. Throughout the ages we see that, without revealing His secrets to His friends, God has not done anything in the world. God remains the same yesterday, today and forever.

The mysteries of the kingdom of heaven were kept a secret from the foundation of the world as written in Matthew 13:35. Jesus, while on earth, spoke about these mysteries using parables and those parables were not understood by everyone. Jesus explained them to His friends – the disciples, later on when they were alone. Even today, these things are not understood by all people in the world. They are only revealed to His friends – the ones who does His commands and walks in His ways. To others, it still remains a secret.

God has secrets and He reveals it to the upright – His friends.

Does God know our secrets?

“Can anyone hide himself in secret places,
So I shall not see him?” says the Lord;
“Do I not fill heaven and earth?” says the Lord.

Jeremiah 23:24

Would not God search this out? For He knows the secrets of the heart.

Psalm 44:21

And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.

Hebrews 4:13

God is omniscient, meaning He is all knowledgeable. He knows everything and nothing is hidden from Him. No creature can hide from His sight. He also knows the secrets hidden in people’s hearts. He is a discerner of thoughts and knows the very intend behind those thoughts. Every thing is wide open before Him. All secretive plans that people make to hurt, to ambush or to destroy one another is all open before Him. Even your secret desires and ambitions whether good or bad is wide open before God. So no matter how deep you bury your secrets, or how efficiently you hide it, those secrets are naked and open to His eyes. Simply put, God knows all our secrets. Ugly or bad, He knows it all – even the shameful things which are done in the dark. So beware, next time you make an ugly secretive plan in your heart, God knows exactly what you are planning. You cannot hide your secrets from God.

No secret is deep enough to be hidden from God – He knows it all.

Does God expect us to do anything in secret?

But when you do a charitable deed, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, that your charitable deed may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you openly.

Matthew 6:3-4

But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly. 

Matthew 6:6

But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, so that you do not appear to men to be fasting, but to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.

Matthew 6:17-18

There are certain things that God expects us to do in secret. As we already established, God knows all our secrets. So God expects us to do those things in secret so that it stays only between us and Him. Our prayers, our fast and our charitable / good deeds should be done in secret. These should be affairs between only us & God, and not public to get praises from people.

Our prayer life and fasting should not be limited to corporate prayers and fasts that we do at Church meetings only. In such cases, the only intention is to show others that you are upright. Pray when you are alone with God and fast without making it public. Similarly, when we do good deeds, it should not be for being recognized or praised or for fame and publicity. The good deeds that we do should be done in secret where God is our only audience. All our deeds should be focused on pleasing God and not pleasing people. God who sees these in secret will reward us openly. So be vigilant, so that we are not cheated by our own selfish desires and ambitions. Remember, our heart’s desires are wide open before Him and He knows the exact intentions behind each action. So do these in secret with the right intentions and rise up to His expectations.

Our prayers, our fasts and our good deeds should be done in secret – to be seen only by God. Our Father who sees in secret will reward us in the open.

Treasures uncovered

God has secrets and He reveals it to the upright – His friends.

No secret is deep enough to be hidden from God – He knows it all. Our secrets are wide open before Him.

Our prayers, our fasts and our good deeds should be done in secret – to be seen only by God. Our Father who sees in secret will reward us in the open.

Prayer:

Father, we thank you for revealing your secrets to the upright. Help us to always remember that our secrets are wide open before you and that we cannot hide anything from you. Help us to concentrate on pleasing you and secretly carry out our good deeds. We love you. In Jesus’ name, Amen.


Posted in Ages 11 & above, Life Skills

Can we judge?

Social media has become an inseparable part of our daily lives. We spend many hours browsing through other people’s Instagram profiles, TikTok videos, YouTube videos, Facebook updates, Twitter updates etc. It is because we are very much interested to know what is happening in other people’s lives, the reason why we watch their profiles even when we don’t like them much. We would then criticize their actions and gestures, gossip about them and even post hatred messages for their posts. We are too quick in doing so. Is it right to judge others and speak ill of them?

Let us open the treasure book and see what it says.

OPENING THE TREASURE BOOK undefined

The rightful Judge

But why do you judge your brother? Or why do you show contempt for your brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.

Romans 14:10

And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books. The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works.

Revelation 20:12-13

All of us will have to stand before a judgement seat one day. The judge on the judgement seat is JESUS, who will judge everyone of us in righteousness and truth. There is no room for any kind of partiality. Whoever we are – great / meek / powerful / influential – will be judged according to our deeds. Every thing that we do in this life will be written down and every soul will have to give account for each of their deeds. As we all know, each deed whether good or bad, will be evaluated based on the intention behind it because God weighs our hearts. Since each individual (including us) will be judged by a very rightful judge, who are we to take-up His job? Let us leave the judging part to the law giver, the rightful judge – Jesus, and concentrate on the better things in life.

Each individual will be judged by JESUS – the righteous & true judge.

Judge NOT, Condemn NOT

“Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

Matthew 7:1‭-‬5

Judge not, and you shall not be judged. Condemn not, and you shall not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.

Luke 6:37

Therefore you are inexcusable, O man, whoever you are who judge, for in whatever you judge another you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things. But we know that the judgment of God is according to truth against those who practice such things. And do you think this, O man, you who judge those practicing such things, and doing the same, that you will escape the judgment of God?

Romans 2:1‭-‬3

The first question we should ask ourselves before judging others is “Do I like to be judged? Do I like to be condemned?” If not, don’t judge and don’t condemn others. This is what Jesus Himself taught during His ministry – Judge Not and You will Not be Judged. Condemn Not and You will Not be Condemned. There won’t be any excuse for any one, no matter who you are or what position you are in – unlike the world we live. In this world, influential people come out of their crimes using their power. However, since our judge is righteous and true, there is no excuse for anyone. We will be judged by God with the same measure we judge others. When we judge others, we in fact condemn ourselves because we too practice those things that we judge. Each of us have a lot of flaws and imperfections. Our imperfections is considered to be a plank before the imperfections of others which is insignificant as a spec. Jesus is emphasizing that other’s flaws and limitations might be negligible compared to ours. We have to first concentrate on perfecting our character and behavior before judging others.

Do not speak evil of one another, brethren. He who speaks evil of a brother and judges his brother, speaks evil of the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. There is one Lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy. Who are you to judge another?

James 4:11‭-‬12

We should also not speak ill of others. It is considered evil. If we speak evil of others, then we are not only judging them but also judging the law. The law is given by God Almighty and so He is the lawgiver and the rightful judge. Do you have the power to save a soul or destroy it? – this power is only with the law giver. Then who are we to judge one another as we are only doers of the law. So do not judge or speak ill about others.

Do not speak evil of others. Judge Not and You will Not be Judged. Condemn Not and You will Not be Condemned.

How did Jesus judge? John 8 : 2-11

One day when Jesus was teaching in the temple, the scribes and the Pharisees brought to Him a woman caught in adultery. They set her in the midst and said to Him, “Teacher, this woman was caught in adultery. The law commands us to stone her, but what do You say?” They said this to test Him, so as to find something to accuse Him. But Jesus stooped down and wrote on the ground with His finger, as though He did not hear. When they continued asking Him, He rose and said to them, “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.” Again He stooped down and wrote on the ground. Those who heard it being convicted by their conscience, went out one by one – the oldest even to the last. Jesus was left alone with the woman standing in the midst. When Jesus rose, He saw no one but the woman. He said, “Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said to her, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.”

As per the law, a woman caught in adultery should be stoned to death. However, when this woman was brought to Jesus, He remained silent. When people insisted that He should tell His judgement, Jesus reminded everyone of the accusers that each of them is a sinner, just like the adulterous woman. Each of them deserved punishment just like her. How can a sinner condemn another, who is just like him? With a very simple sentence, Jesus made each of them realize that they could not judge anyone as they themselves were also imperfect like her. Each of them were convicted by their own conscience and left the scene immediately. All human beings whether small or big, meek or powerful, are imperfect. So how can we judge others?

You judge according to the flesh; I judge no one. And yet if I do judge, My judgment is true; for I am not alone, but I am with the Father who sent Me.

John 8:15‭-‬16

Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment.”

John 7:24

JESUS do not judge according to appearances as flesh does, He judges in truth and in righteousness as He proved in this example.

Treasures uncovered

Do not speak evil of others. Judge Not and You will Not be Judged. Condemn Not and You will Not be Condemned.

When we judge others, we condemn ourselves because we also practice what we judge. Since we are humans, we too are imperfect like the others we judge – so leave the judging to the perfect lawgiver who has the power to save and destroy.

JESUS is our rightful judge who judges every soul in righteousness & truth. No one is excused from this judgement.

Prayer:

Father, we thank you for being our righteous judge who judges us in truth and righteousness without any partiality. We thank you for reminding us that we two are imperfect like others and do not have any authority to judge others. Help us to remember this when our hearts rise to judge others. Thank you for loving us and caring for us even through our imperfections. In Jesus name, Amen.


Posted in Ages 11 & above, God & Me

Pleasing God

Our parents have the highest authority over our lives as long as we remain under their care and protection. If we are disobedient with them, we will be punished for sure. However, if we put on our best behavior by being obedient and carrying out the things that are expected of us, our parents will be happy and pleased with us. For instance, if we obey and respect our parents, do all our chores with perfection, get good grades at our school, etc., our parents will be very pleased with us. This will make sure we have an edge over our siblings in everything. The same at schools and colleges too. Our teachers too will be very pleased with us, if we do what is expected of us – respect them and be obedient to them, complete our assignments on time, score good grades, etc. We will also see them favoring us over others.

If pleasing parents and teachers brings us benefits, how will it be if we pleased God, the supreme authority over all creations. Can we please God by any chance? Let us look into the treasure book to hunt out clues.

OPENING THE TREASURE BOOK undefined

Is it possible to please God?

When all the people were baptized, it came to pass that Jesus also was baptized; and while He prayed, the heaven was opened. And the Holy Spirit descended in bodily form like a dove upon Him, and a voice came from heaven which said, “You are My beloved Son; in You I am well pleased.”

Luke 3:21-22

While he was still speaking, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them; and suddenly a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him!”

Matthew 17:5

In the first passage from Luke, Jesus is getting baptized. When He prayed, the heaven opened and Father God confirmed that He is well pleased with Jesus, His son. In the second passage from Matthew, Jesus took Peter, James, and John on a high mountain and He transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became white as light. There they heard the voice of God from heaven confirming to them that Jesus is His son and that He is well pleased in Him.

Jesus during His life time on earth, pleased God so very well.

By faith Enoch was taken away so that he did not see death, “and was not found, because God had taken him”; for before he was taken he had this testimony, that he pleased God.

Hebrews 11:5

Enoch walked with God all his days (Genesis 5: 21-24). He too pleased God.

We saw that Jesus and Enoch pleased God. So it is possible to please God. If they could, definitely we too can.

How to please God?

Faith

But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.

Hebrews 11:6

Faith pleases God. Faith is a thorough belief without seeing or having any solid proof. We do not see God, but definitely believe in the existence of God. Believing in the all powerful God and having faith that He rewards those who diligently seek Him pleases Him. We see many people with extraordinary faith in the Bible. During the ministry of Jesus, many were healed because of their faith. The woman with the issue of blood is one such example. Jesus tells her – “Daughter, be of good cheer; your faith has made you well. Go in peace” (Luke 8:40-48). There were even times when Jesus Himself marveled at the faith of certain people like the centurion who is mentioned in Matthew 8. So faith pleases God and brings about deliverances.

Faith pleases God

Doing what is expected of us

Doing what God expects from us pleases Him. So we should get to know what He expects from us.

“And now, Israel, what does the LORD your God require of you, but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all His ways and to love Him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul,

Deuteronomy 10:12

God expects us to love Him and serve Him with all of our being. As Jesus taught, the first and greatest commandment is to “Love the Lord with all our heart, all our soul and all our mind” (“Give it all”). Keeping the greatest commandment pleases Him. We also have to serve Him with all our heart and soul. Only if we love Him with all our being, we will be able to serve Him with all of our being. And this pleases God.

To Fear the Lord is to hate wickedness and all evil ways as we already learned in “The Fear of the Lord”. So God expects us to hate all evil and wicked ways.

We are also expected to walk in all His ways. We saw Jesus and Enoch walked with God and in all His ways, no wonder God was pleased with them! Walking in His ways is to keep His commands. How do we get to know His ways?

But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.

John 14:26

The word of God teaches us about God, His likes & dislikes, His commands and everything else about Him. By reading and meditating the word of God, we get to know His ways and commands. As we know, Holy Spirit lives inside of us from the time we accept Jesus as our savior. Holy Spirit is the one who reveals to us the word and teaches us His ways. Doing good, loving, sharing, obedience, humility, gentleness, kindness, forgiveness, faithfulness, etc., are few of His ways. As you read and meditate on the word, more of His ways will be revealed to you. Walking in all His ways also pleases Him.

So we, His children, are expected to love and serve Him with all our being, walk in His ways and hate evil & wicked ways.

If we do what is expected of us, God will definitely be pleased with us!!!

Example of Solomon I Kings 3:4-‬13

After King David, his son Solomon became the king of Israel. We will look into an instance from Solomon’s life that pleased God and see how it benefited him.

After Solomon offered sacrifices, the Lord appeared to him in a dream by night and said, “Ask! What shall I give you?” Solomon said: “You have shown great mercy to David my father. Now, O Lord my God, You have made me king, but I am a little child in the midst of Your people who are too numerous to be numbered or counted. Therefore give me an understanding heart to judge Your people rightly.” This pleased the Lord, that Solomon had asked for wisdom. Then God said to him: “Because you have not asked long life nor riches for yourself, nor the life of your enemies, but asked for understanding to discern justice, I have done according to your words. I have given you a wise and understanding heart. There has not been anyone like you before you, nor shall any like you arise after you. And I have also given you what you have not asked: both riches and honor, so that there shall not be anyone like you among the kings all your days.

Israel was the chosen people of God and had become a big nation by now. David had many sons besides Solomon, but he was chosen as king of Israel after David. Handling the affairs of God’s chosen people and serving them is serving God. Solomon knew, he had to take care of the nations affairs in justice as this is God’s way. He needed divine wisdom to serve the people. When God appeared, Solomon asked only for a wise heart to judge His people, when he had the opportunity to ask for riches, long life, or anything else he desired. But he put God first. Serving God & His ways were a priority over his own desires. This pleased God. God not only gave him the wisdom he asked for, but also riches and honor which he did not ask. God made him the wisest of wise amongst all generation. Fame, Riches and Honor followed Him. The one instance that pleased God changed Solomon’s life forever.

And whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do those things that are pleasing in His sight.

1 John 3:22

As we established before, Walking in His ways and keeping His commandments pleases Him. If we please Him, we will receive whatever we ask for. From Solomon’s life we see that we will receive more than what we ask for.

Treasures uncovered

Faith pleases God.

Doing what is expected of us pleases God. God expects us to love and serve Him with all our being, walk in His ways and hate evil & wicked ways.

If we please Him, we will receive whatever we ask for and even more.

Prayer:

Father, we thank you for teaching us what is expected of us. Help us to walk in all your ways, love you & serve you with all our being and hate all evil & wicked ways. Holy Spirit, teach us the ways of God and help us to have faith in God. Help us to live a life pleasing in your eyes. In Jesus name, Amen.