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March 2017

 
 

paSTOR`S PAGE

March 2017

 

March 5  

    

   

Pastor`s Page
How difficult would it be for a writer, 3000 years from now, to try to write a book about one of our lives, having only a few basic pieces of information and some old pictures? The first thing the writer would have to keep in mind is that the person about which he is writing was a product of the time he lived in. It would be very difficult for the writer to go back 3000 years in history and understand a mentality and lifestyle that no longer exists in his own time. This is our mission now when we want to talk about Moses, a man who lived approximately 3500 years ago.
Moses was born in a forbidden time, taking part of a birth we cannot be envious of, in conditions of adversity and oppression. He was the third born child of Amram and Jochebed, his siblings were Aaron and Maria, Aaron being 4 years older than him and Maria being 10 years older than him. At 3 months old, his mother set him off on the Nile in a papyrus basket; he was found, adopted, and raised by the daughter of Pharaoh at the king’s palace. Without knowing who she was, Pharaoh’s daughter hired Jochebed to nurse and raise the child. Thus, she became the first mother in the Bible that was paid to raise her own child. The irony is that Pharaoh raised at the palace the one who would liberate the slaves from Egypt. Moses was one of the greatest of God’s heroes, his name mentioned approximately 840 times in the Bible. He married Sephora and they had two children – Gershom and Eliezer. Moses lived 120 years, his life broken up into three equal periods of time:
1. The first 40 years – prince in the palace of the king of Egypt
2. The second 40 years – shepherd in the Moab desert
3. The third 40 years – the liberator of the slaves from the Egyptian bondage
Moody would say that Moses spent his first 40 years thinking he is somebody, the next 40 years thinking he is nobody and the last 40 years amazed at what God could do with a nobody. At 40 years old, Moses, on his own initiative, implicates himself in an experience that helps us understand that he was conscious of the will of God with regard to the Hebrew people. “When Moses was forty years old, he decided to visit his own people, the Israelites” (Acts 7:23). This visit resulted in a dramatic change in Moses’ life because he murdered an Egyptian man who was beating a Hebrew man. This event brings about profound changes in Moses’ life:
1. In order to save his own life, Moses runs away from the palace to Midian – Saudi Arabia today.
2. In this way, Prince Moses becomes shepherd Moses and after 40 years spent at the palace, another 40 years follow during which he takes care of sheep in the Midian desert.
Moses intended to free the Hebrew slaves – he wanted to do the right thing, but at the wrong time. Forty years later, God would send him to free the slaves from Egypt and he would be successful. It is also wise to mention that the great Moses, one of the most respected people in Judaism and Christianity, experiences a deep, dramatic defeat: failure, suffering, loneliness, anonymity, frustration, and finally success follows. It is surprising to find out the fact that it is only when he is in this situation is he qualified to be used by God. One of the great principles of life is this: “if you cannot do the good you desire to do, do the good you are able to do”. Do you want to be a man like Moses? Give God 40 years to prepare you. An unprepared Moses will just kill an Egyptian, but this action will not lead to the liberation of the slaves.

 

 

 March 12

 

    Someone once said that “no one can teach you to fly if you don’t want to open your wings.” In the same way, no one can lead you to God if you do not want to believe in Him. Many people do not experience faith in God, invoking their need for concrete arguments. St. Augustine said, “I have a thousand arguments for the man who wishes to believe; I have no arguments for the man who does not.” Believing or not believing is each person’s personal choice. There are many people who speak out against faith even though they’ve never experienced it. If someone has never experienced love or suffering, does this mean they do not exist? Similarly, there are many people who speak out against the Bible, despite never having read it. But what kind of people are by default against a book without having ever read it? The dictionary assures us that this attitude of ignorance associated with a very high personal opinion of oneself is the definition of prejudice. Sadness only comes when people say they do not believe because they do not have arguments to believe. I ask myself what arguments they have not to believe. Why do people ask for arguments to justify believing in God but do not ask for arguments for rejecting faith in God? What arguments do we have when we believe that the events that happened a few thousand years ago mentioned in a history book are true? Is man’s history book more credible than God’s history book – the Bible?  These people seem to be bothered by the existence of God and try to convince others that God does not exist. It may seem odd that the Bible does not try to convince people that God exists, but simply affirms His existence. The Bible presents God as the creator of the Universe and man, compassionate and merciful towards people, loving unconditionally and full of goodness. The Bible talks about the second chance that God offers to everyone, about the hope inside our souls, and about a person’s disappointment and frustration replaced with a smile in the morning. Faith is not an obligation, it is simply an option, a great and unique opportunity.  Faith is necessary and sufficient for man to be saved, to be forgiven of sins. The evangelist Mark remarks that Christ said, “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned” (Mark 16:16). The New Testament version translates this more expressively, “Those who believe and are baptized will be saved, and those who refuse to believe will be condemned.” People will be condemned for the sins they committed in their human lives. People will be condemned to eternal death in hell. For every human, for the poor and the rich, there is a birth, a death, and a judgment, followed by eternity with or without God.  We are not mentioning here the various religious denominations but simply faith in God and His Son Jesus Christ, the Savior sent to earth. He came to us 2000 years ago and died in the place of all those who should have died. Through faith in His existence and His work of forgiveness, every man can be forgiven. Behold then, faith is extremely important. The stake is very high; the stake is LIFE. Who allows himself to try out seeing whether he goes to heaven or hell because he doesn’t believe? Who has the courage to give their life in order to gain the right not to believe in Jesus Christ the Savior? Faith that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and the Savior of all people grants the salvation of the soul.  Water baptism is the manifestation of this faith. People do not get baptized in order to be saved, but because they are already saved. People who are saved know and fulfill the commandments of God. Water baptism is the evidence of salvation, and water baptism is the obedience of the saved. Salvation is associated with baptism, the saved person

  March 19

 

Faith is a simple phenomenon and at the same time complex, hard to explain, but easy to experience. “To one who has faith, no explanation is necessary. To one without faith, no explanation is possible” - Thomas Aquinas.  Faith is the sum of all convictions about life and the world and is formed when one personally experiences all aspects of life. Anyone who sits down on a chair believes it will not break. Anyone who eats or drinks believes that his hunger and thirst will be quenched. Anyone who climbs into a train, taxi, airplane, believes that it will take him to his destination. Anyone who turns a key in an ignition believes the car will start. When we speak of faith, there is no evidence, as faith means to expect a certain thing to happen. A blind man believes in the sunrise without seeing it. After all, what could be explained to a man blind since birth about the sunrise or sunset?  The Bible talks a lot about faith: “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9). “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see” (Hebrews 11:1). Faith is associated with repentance because as faith is turning to Christ, repentance is turning away from sin.  How is faith formed? A man cannot have a faith to which he is not exposed; every Romanian “is born an Orthodox,” every Arab “is born a Muslim,” every Indian “is born Hindu/Buddhist,” etc. Imagine that a child strongly believes that he can play with a neighbor’s dog and nothing bad will happen. One day the dog bites. After the child experiences pain and fear, constrained by his own experience, he modifies his faith with regards to the dog. For the rest of his life, he will strongly believe that he should not play with an unfamiliar dog.  What isn’t faith? Faith is not a sentiment but a conviction. Faith is not a projection about the future - that is called hope. Faith is not a suspicion; it is an unwavering assurance. Faith is not knowledge; it is a strong conviction about things that are unseen.  Faith assumes knowledge “How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?  And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!’. Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ” (Romans 10:14-17). Even though knowledge is indispensable, it is not enough “Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them” (Romans 1:32). The Bible tells us that demons know who Jesus Christ is and what His work is, and yet they will not be saved, “even the demons believe – and they shudder” (James 2:19). True faith in God submits to and worships the Creator. Authentic faith presumes the decision to depend on Jesus Christ for the salvation of your soul. In doing this, mangoes from the position of the observer to the truth of the Bible to the position of having a spiritual, personal relationship with Jesus Christ.  From the Biblical point of view, people are split into several categories: unbelievers – people who do not believe in anything religious; non-practicing Christians – people who believe but do not practice what they believe; practicing Christians – people who believe and practice what they believe.  Faith is the only thing capable of putting man in a spiritual relationship with his Creator.

March 26

   Man has always desired to do whatever he pleases, but this way of life is in conflict with the moral and social norms of the times he lives in. To what extent can man fulfill his personal desires? Until it bothers those around him? Until he oversteps the social rules? Until he is no longer in obedience of God’s laws? Abuse, manipulation, exploitation, theft, violence, murder… should these be allowed of anyone? There is a single objective answer, NO. The subjective answer however differs from abuser to abuser, from the murderer to the murdered.
When we bring the subjective to the Christian life, the Bible explains the fact that God is interested in the good and the happiness of man. Despite this intention, the Creator designed the perspective of human life by giving man moral, ceremonial and social law. It is impossible for a society to exist if man does whatever he wishes because many wish to do things that will adversely affect those around them. In conclusion, there has never been a time or place where people simply do whatever they want. Governmental institutions, city halls, judges, police, prisons all exist to bring balance to this phenomenon.
   In bringing the subjective to the personal level, it is worth mentioning the conscience, or the system of values, convictions and priorities that each person assumes for himself as being “normal” for the time and place they live in. For believers, the conscience is defined by God’s will, revealed in the Bible. “Normal” for the born again believer is the will of God mentioned in the Holy book. Any intention, desire and human action that conflicts with the Bible, by omission or commission, is called sin, and sin is punished by God. The divine solution for the intentions, desires, and sinful actions of people is temperance. Refraining from strife, malice, violence, revenge on the one hand, and manifesting goodness, respect, love and humanity, on the other hand, are God’s solutions for good relationships. Family, relatives, friends, colleagues, neighbors, acquaintances are the relationships that come along with life and they need to be developed and maintained every day. It is impossible to have human life without family, relatives, friends, colleagues, or neighbors.
   Relationships are more important than all the material things in one place; that is why loneliness cannot be cast aside by anything else. Every man is born of a relationship, has children through another relationship, and lives and dies in various contexts defined by relationships. From one vantage point, these relationships are a terrible battle for acceptance, conformity, and influence. The relationship between husband and wife, parents and children, friends and colleagues, survives because those involved do not simply do whatever they want. It is impossible for someone to live in a human relationship as long as he claims he has the right to do whatever he wants. No one can do whatever they desire in front of a red light – they can only do what is right. Each one of those involved in that relationship invests acceptance, adaptation, patience… like an expression of love. No one can maintain a relationship as long as they do whatever they want. Who would wish to marry someone who only does whatever they please? Who wants to have a child that only does what he wants? When the Devil did whatever he wanted, he was thrown from heaven, his name becoming Satan. When Adam did whatever he wanted, he was deported from Eden and everything was redefined forever. Disobedience, rebellion, and individualism transform a man into a sinner, in other words, a guilty man. Sin is guilt, and guilt must be punished by justice.
   Be honest; do you think that at the basis of your life is what you want or what God wants? Are you led by your own desires or by God’s laws? Don’t forget, in our relationship with God, He is the Master.