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Mile markers are stones buried on the sides of highways that help us to determine direction and distance when we travel. In the USA, they generally increase from the South to the North,and from the West towards East. The exit numbers are generally lined up with mile markers so that you can calculate how long you have travelled and how much distance is left to the destination. Without them, we become lost and vulnerable. If you call for emergency help, they will ask your location about your mile marker or exit number to get to you quickly. These exit numbers give us a sense of comfort and peace in knowing where we are and what direction we are heading.

The prophet Samuel set up a stone to commemorate the victory over the Philistines at Mizpah (1 Samuel 7:12). He called it Ebenezer which means 'thus far the Lord has helped us.' It is a mile marker in his life and the peoples' lives. We all have mile markers like birthday, firstday of school, sweet 16, graduation, marria…
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Reception at home

Jesus explained many spiritual truths by using ordinary life stories called the 'parables'. These are simple stories in life that reveal just enough truth to raise intense curiosity, promising more for interested listeners. These are to be studied in context of the life of Jesus. The parable of the 'prodigal son' is one of the most well known among them (Luke 15). It is about a sweet home where a kind and wealthy father lived with his two sons. The younger son claimed his inheritance and ran off to a far away place. He eventually returned after squandering his money and life. His father received him back as a son restoring his full inheritance.

The son's rejection of the home led to destruction and despair in his life. His remembrance of the home led to his repentance and return. The father rejoices at the return of his son. Having another son at home does not fill the void. Heaven is incomplete with one soul missing. It is like one key missing on a piano. Each o…

Return to home

Jesus explained many spiritual truths by using ordinary life stories called the 'parables'. These are simple stories in life that reveal just enough truth to raise intense curiosity, promising more for interested listeners. These are to be studied in context of the life of Jesus. The parable of the 'prodigal son' is one of the most well known among them (Luke 15). It is about a sweet home where a kind and wealthy father lived with his two sons. The younger son claimed his inheritance and ran off to a far away place. He eventually returned after squandering his money and life. His father received him back as a son with full inheritance restored.

Rejection of the home led to a wasted life time. Remembrance of the home led to repentance and return. Repentance is not just admitting guilt nor it is being regretful when get caught. It is an action that makes a change with a determination to turn around and return. It is asking for forgiveness to God and to the victims th…

Remembrance of a home

Jesus explained many spiritual truths by using ordinary life stories called the 'parables', a word that is derived from the Greek word 'parabole' that means ‘viewing things side by side’. There are thirtyone unique parables, found in the first three gospels (the synoptic gospels). They reveal just enough truth to raise intense curiosity, promising more for interested listeners. They are not to be taken as doctrines or prophecies, rather must be studied in context. The parable of the 'prodigal son' is one of the most well known among them. It is about a sweet home where a kind and wealthy father lives with his two sons. The younger son claimed his inheritance from his father and ran off to a far away place. He eventually returned after squandering his inheritance and was received by his father with full restoration as a son.

The younger son remembered about his home while he was living far away. "When he came to his senses, he remembered ‘How many of my…

Rejection of a home

Jesus explained spiritual truths by using ordinary life stories called parables. “All these things Jesus spoke to the multitude in parables.” (Matthew 13:34). The word “parable” “is ultimately derived from the Greek word parabole that means ‘putting things side by side’. There are thirtyone unique parables, only found in the first three gospels (the synoptic gospels). They reveal just enough truth to raise intense curiosity, promising more for interested listners and seekers. They are not to be taken as doctrines or prophecies, rather must be studied in context.

The parble of the 'prodigal son' is one of the most well known among them. It is about a sweet home where a kind and wealthy father lives with his two sons. The younger son claimed his inheritance from his father and ran off to a far away place. The older one lived with his father dissaisfied and dissilusioned. One was lost away from home while the other was lost in the home. The younger son returned after squan…

Lion's den or Daniel's?

After the time of King Nebuchadnezer and Belthshassar, the Persian King Darius invaded and took over Babylon. As a historian puts it, “The sunset of Babylon’s kingdom has now become the dawning of the Medo-Persian empire.” According to scholars, the “Darius” in the 6th chapter of Daniel is Cyrus the Great, the Persian ruler who eventually allowed the Jews to return to Jerusalem after about 70 years of captivity. Daniel was probably about 85 years old at this time. He had served three kings, Nebuchadnezzar, Belshazzar and Darius.

King Darius was so pleased that he made Daniel the chief of the governors. Everything was going well for Daniel. Then came the judgment, a plot deviced by jealous colleagues to trap Daniel. They asked the king to make a rule that nobody could worship anyone else besides the king for thirty days. Anyone found disobeying the order would be thrown into a den of lions. After hearing the judgment, Daniel went up to the upper room and prayed three times as he us…

A Friend in the Furnace

Daniel chapter 3 is called the Fire Alarm chapter by a writer. What are you supposed to do when the fire alarm goes off? We are aksed to run to the exit and get out as soon as you can. As we hear in the air plane announcements, in case of a low pressure, the oxygen masks will drop and make sure you wear yours first before you help your child or someone else. In a fire, we are told to take our safety and run to the exit. Do anything possible to get out. But the three Hebrew boys, Shadrak, Meshak and Abednego, instead of running for the exit, they decided to go to the fire.

In 605 B.C., Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon, conquered the Southern Kingdom of Judah and took into captivity a group of bright young men to train them with skills in administration and leadership. The King ordered to change their names from their Hebrew names to those that reflected Babylonian gods. Hannaniah (The Lord is gracious) became Shadrach honoring the sun god, Mishael (God like) was named Meshak to …

Radiance in desolation

The book of Daniel is full of stories about how God's servants showed radiance on their face in desolate circumstances. Desolation means a state of bleak and dismal emptiness. Radiance on a person's face brings a ray of hope and purpose in such situations. Daniel prayed to God, “Let your face shine upon your desolate sanctuary” (Dan 9:17). Jesus said, "When you see the abomination of desolation spoken of by the prophet Daniel, standing in the holy place, let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains." (Matthew 24:15). The 'abomination of desolation' is mentioned three times in the book of Daniel, 9:27, 11:31 and 12:11.

Jews are a group that was persecuted and scattered through history. They were taken as slaves many times to Egypt, Babylon, Syria and Rome. Over one millon Jews were killed by Emperor Titus who invaded in 70 AD. They were scattered all over the earth without a land to call their own. During the second world war, under Hitler's hol…

A touch of faith

A man went to see a psychiatrist because he was extremely depressed. The psychiatrist just could not get him to snap out of it. So he said to the man, “Tonight I want you to go to the circus in town because they have a clown named the Great Rinaldi, he is the funniest clown I have ever seen. Whenever I go to see the Great Rinaldi it always lifts my spirits.” The man responded. “You don’t understand doctor, I am the Great Rinaldi.” Life is made of joys and sorrows. The saying is that misery loves company and, if that’s true, there’s plenty of company. But the Bible teaches that you don’t have to be a victim. God wants you to have victory over them.

We read in all the synoptic gospels about Jesus healing a woman with the issue of bleeding (Matthew 9:20–22, Mark 5:25–34, Luke 8:43–48). She had been in pain for a long 12 years, physially, emotionally and spiritually. She must have been under a lot of physical pain with the loss of blood feeling pale and tired. She definitely had a lo…

Fathers Day

A father was hiking a mountain with his 3 year old son on his shoulders. After some time the dad said he was tired and asked the son to get down, to which the boy replied, “You can’t be tired. You’re my daddy!” We all have stories to tell about our fathers, or about being fathers. Mark Twain said, "When I was a boy of 14, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be 21, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in 7 years."

Our famiies are facing a great crisis today. More and more fathers are disappearing from the scenes. It is now common to meet young people in our big city schools, foster homes and juvenile centers who do not know their dads. Most of those children have come face-to-face with their father at some point; but most have little regular contact with the man, or have any faith that he loves or cares about them. Statistics show 1 in 4 children live without a father figure in the household in the …

Through the roof

All synoptic gospels tell the story of Jesus healing a paralyzed man who made his way through the roof to get to Jesus (Matthew 9, Mark 2, Luke 5). Four unnamed friends convinced the paralytic man that they were determined to take him to Jesus. Imagine how their hearts must have sunk when they saw that the house Jesus stayed was packed with people. Lots of people in town had come there with their sick people and there is no way to get into house, not to mention a man on a stretcher. The men decided to climb up on the roof, break it open, and lower the paralytic down. You can only imagine the reaction of the people in the room below when the pieces and debris started falling on them.

Many Christians are oblivious to the damage they cause and the barriers they build. They refuse to think or admit the traffic jam they cause at the doorway blocking others to come to church. Many churches are very supportive to each other and work together shoulder to shoulder and interlocked so tig…

Speak to the mountains

Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘"Be moved into the sea, and does not doubt in his heart but believes that what he says, it will be done for him." (Mark 11:22). Jesus talked to inanimate things like a fig tree, water, waves and wind and they all responded. He wants us to speak to the mountains that may come across in our journey of life. It is not speaking about your mountain, but it is about speaking to your mountain. Speaking about your mountain will magnify the problem in your thoughts and minds. The problem will begin to look bigger and bigger in your sight as you continue to dwell on it. But speaking to your mountain keeps things in proper perspective. Sir Edmund Hilary who was the first man to climb the Mount Everest said, “It is not the mountain we conquer, but ourselves.” The statement is a game changer when we approach mountains.

Mountains are real and there is no way to hide them or hide from them. Running away from a prob…

Trust God when troubled

"Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. " (John 14:10). Martin Luther called this passage "the best and most comforting sermon that the Lord Christ delivered on earth, a treasure and a jewel not to be purchased with the world's goods." Jesus continued, "I go to prepare a place for you.. I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also...I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me."

Picturing life as a journey is a very old concept. We move from one day to the next, one year to the next, one period of our life to another, just as on a journey one travels from place to place. We travel the journey of life that will lead to the destination. Our jouney takes us through a series of stages: baby stages, growing up, leaving home and so on until the journey in this world ends with death. A lot of us set goals at various stages and places we want to…

Keep the faith that keeps you

Google introduced 'Ngram Viewer' which is a seductively simple tool online that generates a chart tracking the popularity of a word or phrase in books and writings during a selected period in history. Ngram is a computational linguistics and probability study to look for contiguous sequence of 'n' items from a given sequence of text or speech useful to build linguistic models. It will search for a particular word like 'faith' or a phrase like 'faith in God'. A search of Ngram database shows the word 'faith' winning over 'doubt' in American English during the 1800s. But 'doubt' ran past 'faith' in the early 1900s and later the two terms tracked rather closely. During the 1980s, however, 'faith' won over 'doubt' ! But 'Faith in God' shows a poor graph in the 2000s!! There are still studies to be completed before we can know the reason for variations.

No one can live a single day without exercisi…

Job's wife

The second Sunday in May is celebrated as mother's day to honor all mothers around the world. Michelle Duggar, 43 years old is the mother of 19 children as of 2015; nine sisters and 10 brothers. There is a TV show called “19 kids and counting” based on their family . The Duggars' oldest child Josh, is 23 and the youngest Jennifer is 3 years. There are two sets of twins. The fast-growing family lives in Tontitown in northwest Arkansas. All the childrens' names start with the letter J. Mom Duggar has been been pregnant for more than 12 years of her life, and that’s with two sets of twins; otherwise it would have been close to 14 years of pregnancy.

Job’s wife spent about 15 or more of years carrying children.There are only 3 verses in reference to Job's wife; they are Job 2:9 (curse God and die), Job 19:17 (My breath is offensive to my wife} and Job 31:10 (may my wife grind another man's grain). She is not looked upon as a good person. I've heard many pre…

Not seeing yet believing

In the 1970s, a group of people in the audience in the front row of a cinema theater fled from their seats before the oncoming train on the screen. A great grandmother waved her handkerchief as the queen’s carriage passed by on the screen. There are those who refuse to believe that man landed on the moon because the pictures look like they were made in a lab with shady black and white images. We learn from experience that not all we see is real and all that glitters is not gold. Supermarket discounts appear to offer products at half-price turn out to be not real when you go there to shop. In the age of electronic mass media when video clips on social media go 'viral’, people doubt about what is real and what isn’t.

Seeing and believing may seem easy. Jesus said, "Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed." (John 20:29) and “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” There is a significant difference between believing without seeing and bel…

Faith like a mustard seed

"Faith is simple and religion complicates it", says an author. When Jesus taught the disciples about having faith like a mustard seed (Luke 17), he was not saying faith comes in varying quantities, as in small, medium or super-sized. This is how so many religious people have mistakenly taught and understood His words. They teach that if you have a little bit more faith, your problem would be solved, or your sickness would be healed. Jesus is actually teaching about lack of faith and not sizes of faith. To be sure, faith the size of a mustard seed is better than no faith at all.

The kind of teaching that one's size of faith was the cause of a disaster or sickness or death has turned many people against the church and God. It produces guilt and people have been hurt by such teachings. We have been raised in a culture that says bigger is better—that size is the truest measure of success. It takes a strong person to resist that trend, especially if he or she is laboring …

God of the living

A newspaper reported about a man who showed up in good health after being reported missing more than 25 years earlier. At the time of his disappearance he had been unemployed, addicted, and hopelessly behind in child support payments. So he decided to go into hiding. On his return, however, he discovered that the court records showed he was dead. When the man went to court to reverse the records, the judge rejected his request, citing the statute of limitations that says there is a three year time limit for changing a death record. He is a living man with a death record.

In the first three (synoptic) gospels we see the Sadducees who did not believe in resurrection (Matt 22, Mark 12, Luke 20) pose a question to Jesus. A widow marries seven brothers in sequence as each brother dies. They assume that if there is a resurrection, the woman would be guilty of polygamy with seven husbands in heaven. Jesus answers, “ God is not the God of the dead, but of the living, for to him all are ali…

A good man and his dreams

Dreams begin even before we are born and we continue to dream, usually between two to five times a night until we die. We forget almost all our dreams. Experiences of dreams can be fantastic, pleasant, frightening or revelatory, and reactions to them are diverse. Modern studies help elucidate some of the mechanisms of dreams and do not discount the revelatory nature of dreams (Journal of Neurology). Bible contains numerous instances where God speaks to people in dreams as revelatory messages.

The Gospel writer Matthew describes Joseph, the earthly father of Jesus having four dreams. The first dream is where an angel telling him not to be afraid of taking Mary as his wife because the son to be born is by the Holy Spirit (1:20). In the second chapter Joseph receives messages in dreams to flee to Egypt with the baby (2:13), then to return to homeland (2:19), and another dream telling him not to go to Judea and he went to Galilee(2:22). By following the dreams as visions from God he …

Baby Pictures - A Christmas Message

Some people are anxious to show the pictures of their children, grandchildren or other dear ones. They are the proud people who approach and ask you "Have I shown you the most recent pictures of my so and so?" You may want to say, “Yes, thank you, I have seen them three times already”. People have taken pictures from the beginning of history, not as photographs but as stories narrated in words. They might go around and say, "Our baby came last night, a boy, about 7 pounds, brown eyes, little bit of hair, got his father's nose or whatever". Such narratives seem to be more graphic since they leave more room for imagination.

There are some such pictures of the baby Jesus of Nazareth in the Bible. The earliest picture of Jesus is recorded by Luke when a group of shepherds went to see the baby in the manger. The shepherds took some pictures with their eyes, stored in their memory and went and proclaimed with their mouth. "When they had seen him, they spr…

Honey in the lion

Samson was from a Jewish family chosen by God, to lead Israel to fight against the Philistines. An angel of God visited his parents who did not have a child for a long time and promised that they would have a son and he would become a very strong man. He should not cut his hair forever because his hair will be the source of his strength. Samson grew up to be a man of super-human strength (Judges 13, 14). He killed a thousand Philistines with the jawbone of a donkey. At times, he was a mad man. He tied up three hundred foxes tail to tail and set them with fire torches and burned up the enemy’s wheat fields. He murdered thirty men for their clothes. Philistines were very afraid of him. But he sadly fell for a woman’s seduction for a haircut (Judges 16) and lost his superhuman strength. In spite of his weakness and madness, God chose him to fulfill His divine plans.

Samson loved riddles. A Riddle is where an uncertain and unexpected answer is key to the riddle. Choosing the appopriate…