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Even if we have thousands of acts of great virtue to our credit

“Even if we have thousands of acts of great virtue to our credit, our confidence in being heard must be based on God’s mercy and His love for men. Even if we stand at the very summit of virtue, it is by mercy [ of God ] that we shall be saved.” – St John Chrysostom

Joseph of Arimathea, Nicodemus and Jesus

Lets first read the following verses as we reflect on the Lord Jesus Christ and how he brought change in Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus by his death. Here we go:

31 The Jews therefore, because it was the preparation, that the bodies should not remain upon the cross on the sabbath day, (for that sabbath day was an high day,) besought Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away.

32 Then came the soldiers, and brake the legs of the first, and of the other which was crucified with him.

33 But when they came to Jesus, and saw that he was dead already, they brake not his legs:

34 But one of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side, and forthwith came there out blood and water.

35 And he that saw it bare record, and his record is true: and he knoweth that he saith true, that ye might believe.

36 For these things were done, that the scripture should be fulfilled, A bone of him shall not be broken.

37 And again another scripture saith, They shall look on him whom they pierced.

38 And after this Joseph of Arimathaea, being a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews, besought Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus: and Pilate gave him leave. He came therefore, and took the body of Jesus.

39 And there came also Nicodemus, which at the first came to Jesus by night, and brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about an hundred pound weight.

40 Then took they the body of Jesus, and wound it in linen clothes with the spices, as the manner of the Jews is to bury.

41 Now in the place where he was crucified there was a garden; and in the garden a new sepulchre, wherein was never man yet laid.

42 There laid they Jesus therefore because of the Jews’ preparation day; for the sepulchre was nigh at hand.

(John 19:31-42)

 

Joseph of Arimathaea is not heard of in most part of the Gospels except just after the crucifixion and death of Jesus. Who was this man and what did he have to with Jesus? Also what does Nicodemus have to do in all this?

From what we read in the Gospels (Matthew 27:57–60; Mark 15:42–46; Luke 23:50–53; and John 19:38–42) it’s known that he was a disciple of Jesus Christ. However he followed Jesus secretly as he feared the Jews. He was actually a part of the Sanhedrin which was the council of Jewish religious leaders who strived for Jesus’ crucifixion. However,  the Gospel says that Joseph of Arimathaea did not give his consent but rather opposed their decision. That makes him a good man doesn’t it. Besides he was rich. God made him wealthy for a purpose that only few can ever receive from the Lord God. He took a personal risk of life and of reputation when he went to Pilate to receive the dead body of the One True Savior of the World who is none other than Jesus Christ. And by his wealth he could arrange for Jesus to be laid in a tomb (sepulchre). When Jesus was born he was born in manger as there was no place available for him. But at his death this one man from Arimathaea did all he could so that the Savior could be given some dignity after his death.  Joseph of Arimathaea did not care for his life anymore as he knew he had to honor the Son of God the giver of eternal life more than anything.

Now to speak about Nicodemus. This man due to his short height had to first meet Jesus by climbing the sycamore tree. Though this man was a great sinner, Jesus came to dine in his house much to the dismay of the religious leaders. Yet Jesus led this man Nicodemus to repentance and salvation. In the due course of time, when Jesus died on the cross, Nicodemus did not flee nor abandon Jesus like most of the disciples of Jesus Christ. Very few men were brave enough to stand up for the Lord in public after the crucifixion. This man was one of them. He served the Lord well by bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes so that Jesus’ body could be wrapped in linen with these spices as per the Jewish burial custom. 

Jesus at his death caused Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus to manifest the courage and right action no matter what the circumstances for the sake of the Lord. If you were in place of these men at that would you have done the same for Jesus? It’s a hard question to be honest. But the simple answer would be your actual actions in such times. However there should be nothing keeping you from standing up for Jesus Christ no matter where and when, if you truly believe that he is the Son of God. Yet again, were only courage and good works what Jesus woke these to men to by his death? Not at all, because by his agonizing death on the cross and his glorious resurrection from the dead he made available not just for them but for everyone who believe complete justification and salvation. You don’t earn your salvation by your good works but yes once you accept your salvation by your faith in Jesus and his Gospel then by your good works you can indeed give glory to God. The power of the Lord Jesus in his death and resurrection goes beyond inspiring courage and good deeds. For it has healing for sick, forgiveness for the sinner, deliverance from the darkness, friendship with God and life everlasting. Blessed are those who have not seen Jesus and yet believe. Amen.

Keeping Secrets (Part 3) – Keep it secret when…

When tempted to reveal a secret out of pride,
Then instead in the Word of God abide.
When holding the confidence of others in honor,
Then never let faithlessness be in your corner.

When God tells you to refrain,
Then telling your secret is insane.
When secrets can cause strife,
Then have regard for your life.

When the Holy Spirit wants you to be tactful,
Then with your words be thoughtful.
When hidden things can cause sin,
Then except for the Lord hold them all within.

When Jesus’ word in the Gospel does remind,
Then let not your good deeds anyone find.
When you know you shouldn’t gossip bad,
Then don’t be a selfish lass or lad.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Whoever goes about slandering reveals secrets, but he who is trustworthy in spirit keeps a thing covered. (Proverbs 11:13)

 

Related Articles:

Keeping Secrets (Part 1)

Keeping Secrets (Part 2) – Keeping quiet where you have to

Keeping Secrets (Part 1)

secrets2

 

A secret is like money, it can be used wisely or misused wickedly. There are secrets which (ironically) should not be kept as secrets while there are secrets which can and must be kept secret. The people of God need to know how to discern between both such types of secrets. This will be covered in detail in series of ‘Keeping Secrets’ posts which I’m writing up. However for now I share a few good reasons for keeping secrets. This basically comes from the Gospel of Matthew, Chapter 6. So here we go:

 

1) Keep secret your good deeds of charity so that you don’t seek pride nor fame in your acts which causes you to lose your reward from the Lord God.

“Beware of practicing your piety before men in order to be seen by them; for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven. “Thus, when you give alms, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by men. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your alms may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you. (Matthew 6:1-4)

 

2) Keep secret your prayer life in a such a way that you pray like how the Lord God wants you to pray without being a self seeking hypocrite but rather exalt the name of God alone. This will ensure your reward from the Lord God.

“And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by men. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

“And in praying do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do; for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. Pray then like this:

Our Father who art in heaven,
Hallowed be thy name.
10 Thy kingdom come,
Thy will be done,
On earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us this day our daily bread;
12 And forgive us our debts,
As we also have forgiven our debtors;
13 And lead us not into temptation,
But deliver us from evil.

14 For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father also will forgive you; 15 but if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. (Matthew 6:5-14)

 

3) Keep secret your fasting so that you don’t get undue praise by people and so miss out on your reward from your Heavenly Father the Lord God.

16 “And when you fast, do not look dismal, like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by men. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. 17 But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, 18 that your fasting may not be seen by men but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

 

The three reasons above are good enough to consider keeping secrets that are meant not to be paraded before people so that you indulge in self glory and so lose your reward from your Father in heaven who is none but the Lord God. I hope this make you realize the importance of keeping secrets. Keep yourself open to the will and counsel of the Lord God manifest in the Bible so that you learn to keep secrets wisely.

Christ be with you!

Christians should avoid laziness in these four key areas of life

Every Christian should consider the Biblical call to avoid laziness and overcome it.  Now laziness is not the same thing as resting after a hard days work. Laziness is rather idleness and the quality of being unwilling to work or use effort and energy. For some unwitting people a holiday means a time to be lazy and avoid all work including house work, while others just carry their work (via a laptop or smartphone) together with them. Now this doesn’t mean each Christian ought to avoid holidays or be a workaholic who works until he or she is completely drained out. That would be too extreme, isn’t it?

The key to a balanced Christian life would be to live a life consistent with the principles of the Bible.  Now there are four areas of life where a Christian can and must avoid laziness, which are as follows:

1. The Spiritual life.

2. The Emotional life.

3. The Physical life.

4. The Financial life.

 

I’ll explain what each of them mean and what can be done to avoid laziness in them but first let’s get to know a few Bible verses about laziness. Here’s the first one:

How long will you lie there, O sluggard? When will you arise from your sleep? A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest, and poverty will come upon you like a robber, and want like an armed man. (Proverbs 6:9-11)

 

lazy.jpg

 

Plus here are a few more Bible verses about laziness to consider:

* A slack hand causes poverty, but the hand of the diligent makes rich. (Proverbs 10:4)

* Slothfulness casts into a deep sleep, and an idle person will suffer hunger. (Proverbs 19:15)

* The sluggard does not plow in the autumn; he will seek at harvest and have nothing. (Proverbs 20:4)

 

From the above verses you’d notice that laziness can bring in eventual poverty, hunger and lack. At the same time diligence can make you rich. What would you prefer? For those who want to not be in poverty, hunger and lack which come due to lack of action in the right direction, there’s where the teachings of the Bible come to use. I’ll now explain the four key areas in detail:-

 

1. The Spiritual life

This is the most important area of life a man, woman or child could ever have. Whatever you do in your present spiritual life can have dramatic consequences in the after life. The problem is that some people are very busy in all areas of their life except that of the spirit. They neglect their prayers unto God, forget to give thanks to the Lord, and even avoid doing good works. The usual excuse is that they are too busy or don’t have time. But whatever be the reason, if you be lazy in your spiritual life then do not expect a good commendation from the Lord God. A few verses to reflect and act upon:

1. Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God. (Hebrews 13:16)

2. But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. (James 1:22)

3. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. (Romans 12:11)

4. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. (Colossians 3:17

 

2. The Emotional life

Your emotional life is the next most important area. Many people make life changing decisions based on their impulses instead of wisdom. This causes them a lot of hardship later on while it may be possible they might enjoy themselves temporarily. Because people are too lazy to cultivate and safeguard their emotions they easily break in the face of adversity. The people of God are called to be vigilant and wise instead. It’s wise to know your current emotional state towards yourself and the Lord God and even your fellow human beings and animals and so on. This can give you the opportunity to either groom or correct your emotions. A few verses to ponder and work upon:

1. So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom. (Psalm 90:12)

2. Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life. (Proverbs 4:23)

3. The good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth that which is good; and the evil out of the evil brings forth that which is evil. For out of the abundance of his heart, his mouth speaks. (Luke 6:45)

4. But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever. (1 Timothy 5:8)

 

3. The Physical life

There are people who are very good in their spiritual and emotional life but are lacking in their physical life. Then you hear that such people are finding difficulty in walking or running or climbing and so on. I wish they work on their physical frame as well. So what is the physical life I speak of? It’s basically the physical well-being of the body in terms of nutrition and exercise. While I do agree that it’s given to man to die once and then comes the resurrection of the just (and the unjust for those who die in their sin) it does not mean we neglect our physical bodies in the mean time. The Bible never tells us to neglect our body once we get saved, in fact we are told that we who believe in Christ Jesus are nothing less than the temple of the Holy Spirit. Read the following Bible verses and use them to your benefit:

1. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own  (1 Corinthians 6:19)

2. For while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. (1 Timothy 4:8)

3. A wise man is full of strength, and a man of knowledge enhances his might (Proverbs 24:5)

4. She dresses herself with strength and makes her arms strong (Proverbs 31:17)

 

4. The Financial life

The area of finance is something that people give way too much importance to. However the areas of spirit, emotions and physical life should not be neglected while working on the area of finance. Some get into debt because they sleep or laze around instead of working when it’s the time to work. There are others who awake enough to earn their living but asleep enough to not check their overspending or even getting into debts that they can easily avoid. As a result there is a lot of strain in terms of money in their life which affects their families too. So don’t love money at all but instead be diligent in earning it and saving it and only spend it wisely. A few verses in this area that you can act upon:

1. He who gathers in summer is a prudent son, but he who sleeps in harvest is a son who brings shame. (Proverbs 10:5)

2. In all toil there is profit, but mere talk tends only to poverty. (Proverbs 14:23)

3. For we hear that some among you walk in idleness, not busy at work, but busybodies. Now such persons we command and encourage in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work quietly and to earn their own living. (2 Thessalonians 3:11-12)

4. But his master answered him, ‘You wicked and slothful servant! You knew that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I scattered no seed? Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received what was my own with interest. So take the talent from him and give it to him who has the ten talents. For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance. But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ (Matthew 25:26-30)

Quick Reminder : Do not be lukewarm in your love for the Lord

 

lukewarm

 

  • “The hottest places in hell are reserved for those who, in times of great moral crisis, maintain their neutrality.” ― Dante Alighieri, Inferno
  • “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you? (Luke 6:46)
  • 14 “And to the angel of the church in Laodicea write: ‘The words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God’s creation. 15 “‘I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! 16 So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. (Revelation 3:14-22)
  • 17 For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. 18 I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see. 19 Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent. 20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me. 21 The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne. 22 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’ (Revelation 3:14-22)
  • Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter! (Isaiah 5:20)

 

Even if we have thousands of acts of great virtue to our credit

“Even if we have thousands of acts of great virtue to our credit, our confidence in being heard must be based on God’s mercy and His love for men. Even if we stand at the very summit of virtue, it is by mercy that we shall be saved.”

—St. John Chrysostom

Quick reminder: Help the poor and needy 

For there will never cease to be poor in the land. Therefore I command you, ‘You shall open wide your hand to your brother, to the needy and to the poor, in your land.’ (Deuteronomy 15:11)

Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will repay him for his deed. (Proverbs 19:17)

Jesus said also to the man who had invited him, “When you give a dinner or a banquet, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, lest they also invite you in return and you be repaid. But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind,  and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the just.” (Luke 14: 12-14)

And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. (Matthew 22:37-39)

Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world. (James 1:27)

But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever. (1 Timothy 5:8)

In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’” (Acts 20:35)

Move ahead towards Christ Jesus 

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