Category: thoughts by Palitha Jayasooriya

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How much we worry and how many of our worries are unfounded?

Unhealthy worrying can cripple us to the point of making us ineffective and unable to cope with life’s challenges. It can also lead to depression. We worry over sickness, viruses, finances, family, children, salt, sugar, unforeseen dangers and many other things.

The Longman Dictionary describes worry as ‘an uncomfortable feeling in the mind, caused by a mixture of fear and uncertainty’.

Sadly, according to experts, worry can also take a heavy toll on our physical and mental health. Dr. Charles Mayo once said,

‘Worry affects the circulation and the whole nervous system. I’ve never known a man who died from overwork, but I’ve known many who have died from doubt’.

So, what are you worrying about today?

A lot of our stress and discouragement is caused either by unfounded or maybe even real fears and anxieties. The Lord Jesus however said in Matthew 6:34 

“Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own”.

He was advising us to take each day as it comes, trusting Him. That’s a great antidote for anxiety and we should consider doing so for the following  reasons.

  1. Because We Can’t Control Tomorrow

There is no point in worrying about tomorrow, because no one is assured of a tomorrow. God holds the times and seasons in His hand. Proverbs 16:9 tells us that “In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps”. That’s a good reason to commit each day and our future plans into God’s hands and to receive His strength for our anxieties. Only He can control our tomorrow.

  1. Because There Is Enough Trouble For Today

In Matthew 6:34, Jesus said.  “… Do not worry about tomorrow, …Each day has enough trouble of its own”.

Not only can’t we control tomorrow, but we do not know what may happen today. In fact, some of us going through severe crisis situations may dread the dawning of a new day. I once read that there are two possible ways people could wake up in the morning. One group cheerfully says, ‘Good morning, Lord”, while the other says, ‘Good Lord, its morning’! Let’s place our today in God’s hands for He is always in control. We are then assured of His providence, protection and provision.

It is interesting that God identifies Himself in the scriptures in the present tense as, ‘I am’. He is therefore a God of the present; a God of today. Sadly, many people are either living with regret over the past or with anxiety over the future. For those living with regret over the past, Paul says in Philippians 3:13‘But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind….I press on..’, while for those worrying over their future he says, “Do not be anxious about anything” and then encourages us to trust in the power of praying to God (Philippians 4:6). Paul trusted in God’s grace every day.

By  Palitha Jayasooriya
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Thoughts by All Thoughts by Men thoughts by Palitha Jayasooriya

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1 Samuel 30:1-20

Are you staggering in an unexpected crisis right now? Maybe some challenge has hit you out of the blue? Crisis situations don’t warn us before they hit, do they?  However, in God’s plan, the crisis may well be leading you to a ‘Divine Appointment’.

In 1 Samuel chapter 29, God had just helped David and his men get out of what was a difficult situation, in having to fight their own countrymen. In chapter 30, as they returned home, obviously with much thanks for God’s intervention, an unexpected crisis had struck. Their home city, Ziklag, had not only been raided and torched by the Amalekites (30:1), but their families had been taken captive (30:2). In the midst of the unimaginable sorrow they were feeling, David’s faithful men were even talking of stoning him (30:6). In this crisis situation however, the Bible says, ‘David found strength in the Lord‘. As he did so, God began to turn the crisis into a ‘Divine Appointment’.

Under God’s direction David began to pursue the enemy, and eventually, in a vast land area, he unexpectedly found the very person who could lead him to the raiders (30:8-11). This was the dying servant of an Amalekite official who had been deserted, as he was sick and a burden. Since David spared the man’s life, he was more than willing to lead them to the raiders’ camp (30:15). As a result, David and his men won a great victory before any harm could come to their families and received back much, much more than what they thought they had lost (30:18-20).

An unexpected crisis can truly be turned into a ‘Divine Appointment‘ by the Lord.

Illustration: At the age of 24, I faced an unexpected crisis as I developed a serious problem on my spine that needed surgery. I spent 25 days in hospital and life as a whole, as well as my future, looked extremely bleak. God had however planned a ‘Divine Appointment‘, and many, many years later, thanks to His healing touch, I still haven’t had any surgery on my spine! He is the God of ‘Divine Appointments’.

Thought: Trust God to turn any unexpected crisis in your life at present into a ‘Divine Appointment’.

By Palitha Jayasooriya
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This past week I’ve had to pray with people battling heavy odds against cancer, children’s health issues, relationship problems, addictions, emotional distress, a burnt down house and many other issues. They all felt overwhelmed and that the odds were stacked against them.  Are you too struggling against overwhelming odds today?

In 2 Chronicles 20, a coalition of armies had come against Judah. This strong army (verse 2-4) brought a sense of terror upon the people.  King Jehoshaphat realizing the seriousness of the challenge before him, cried in desperation, “We have no power to face this vast army… We do not know what to do…” (verse 12). Maybe you too are saying ‘I don’t know what to do’?

However, God brought about an amazing victory for Judah. We can therefore learn how to find victory against overwhelming odds by looking at 4 responses shown by King Jehoshaphat.

  • Resolve to trust God in Prayer

Prayer is the greatest weapon God’s children have over every challenge. A famous quote by Alfred Lord Tennyson says, “More things are wrought by prayer than this world dreams of.” So, when facing overwhelming odds and when you may not even feel like praying, there is only one thing to do. Keep on praying!

Jehoshaphat inquired of the Lord and proclaimed a fast throughout the land. The people responded in unison as the King cried out to God (verse 3-5). He was depending completely on God’s strength!! (verse 6-12).

God sometimes permits staggering odds to come against us to drive us to our knees in prayer.

  • Receive a specific promise for the situation

Verse 14 – 15 tells us that the Prophet Jahaziel, under the anointing of God’s Spirit, began to prophesy over the situation. He said, “Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. … stand firm and see the deliverance the Lord will give you”.

Similarly, God has a specific promise for every challenge we face; especially when overwhelming odds are against us.  It can come through a scripture, a song, a sermon, a prayer, wise counsel or a prophecy.  Once we receive such a specific word from God, we should hold on to it and not give up till the victory is final (refer verse 20).

  • Realize the battle is the Lord’s

The Prophet Jahaziel said, “You will not have to fight this battle… Stand firm and see the deliverance the Lord will give you,…”. He further emphasized “the battle is not yours, but God’s” (verse 15 –17)).  Therefore, realize that the Lord is always fighting on your behalf.

So often I hear powerful testimonies of people who have experienced God’s delivering power in challenging situations.

  • Meditate on God’s unfailing love through worship

When the army went out for battle the following morning, Jehoshaphat “appointed men to sing to the Lord and to praise Him for the splendor of His holiness (verse 21).” These singers were focusing on a well- known worship refrain about God’s enduring love. They sang, “Give thanks to the Lord, for His love endures forever (verse 21).”

In response, the Lord brought disarray to the enemy’s camp. Their armies began to annihilate each other and an amazing victory unfolded (verse 22-23)!! As you stand against overwhelming odds, meditate on God’s unfailing love which endures forever. He will come through for you, often in unexpected ways!

God will surely give us victory against the overwhelming odds that are against us today.

By Palitha Jayasooriya
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Psalm 145:1-6

The first few verses of this beautiful psalm of praise by David show us 3 practical ways in which we can honor our Lord daily. Following these 3 steps will strengthen and enhance our walk with Jesus. They are:

  • Praise Him every day

“Every day I will praise you and extol your name for ever and ever” (vs 2)

There is so much to praise God for and we should be lifting our praise to Him every day. Let us start our day with praise and end it with praise! Let us praise Him as we walk the streets, as we sit at our desk and as we travel. Praise is contagious and soon others will follow your example.

Illustration – I remember a Christian leader saying that as he was traveling in the bus one day and enjoying the beautiful scenery around him, he couldn’t help humming the powerful hymn ‘How Great Thou Art’. The person seated next to him soon turned and said, ‘Feels so true doesn’t it’? A short while later, a few others in the bus started humming the great hymn! That’s the power of praise!

Have you praised God today? Read the rest of the Psalm (21 verses in all) and list down the many reasons David praised God ‘EVERY DAY’.

“My mouth will speak in praise of the Lord” (vs 21)

  • Meditate on His works

“I will meditate on your wonderful works” (vs 5b)

The works of God are revealed in His powerful Word. We also see them in creation, in our own lives and in the lives of others. Let us meditate on His Word and His works. Meditating on His Word and His works lifts our faith whenever a new challenge comes our way.

A preacher once mentioned that meditating on God’s Word can be compared to a cow ‘chewing the cud’. As the cow receives help with its digestion when it chews the cud, so we too can receive all the strength contained in God’s Word as we spend a few minutes or more, meditating on it. It is interesting to note that The Collins English Dictionary describes the term ‘chewing the cud’ as follows – ‘to reflect or think over something’.

“Oh, how I love your law! I meditate on it all day long.” (Psalm 119:97)

  • Proclaim His Great Deeds

“.. I will proclaim your great deeds” (vs 6b)

What has God done for you recently? How did He bring you to salvation? Have you been telling others about His blessings to you? Have you been sharing them with your children? I rejoice in the fact that my 2 sons aged 12 and 10, love to hear my stories about God’s interventions in my life and ministry. In fact, they often ask for repeats!

“One generation will commend your works to another; they will tell of your mighty acts” (vs 4).

Why should we proclaim God’s great deeds?  We need to do it “so that all men may know of your (God’s) mighty acts” (vs 12).

Last week, at our midweek service, I was praying at the altar with a young man over a burden he was carrying in a very personal area of his life. As I shared my own testimony in that particular area of life and how God came through for me, his eyes lit up and he shouted, ‘Yes, I now believe God can do it for me too”!

There is power in proclaiming ‘His great deeds’, more so, when we tell people about His mighty ‘saving grace’ in our lives! They just might want what you have!

Prayer: Lord help me to honor you every day by praising you, meditating on your works and by proclaiming your great deeds. Amen.

By Palitha Jayasooriya
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Read: Psalm 107: 1-38

O give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; for His steadfast love endures forever.
Psalm 107:1

Soul singer Lionel Ritchie was once deeply impacted by a speech in which his father had honored his mother, on their 37th wedding anniversary. In his speech, Ritchie Senior had lovingly thanked his wife for sticking by him through the ups and downs of life. Said Lionel, “What a great story because I pass through my house every day and I don’t say thank you. I just take for granted that certain things be done”. That speech moved him to compose one of his best loved songs, ‘Three Times a Lady’.

How much we too forget to be thankful to God for the blessings He gives us. We often take them for granted. In Psalm 107, the author earnestly encourages the people to be thankful to God, by repeating the phrase, “Let them thank the Lord for His steadfast love, for His wonderful works to humankind” on four occasions (Psalm 107: 8, 15, 21, and 31).

The Psalmist also describes the many ways in which a loving God has been faithful to His children by reflecting on His deliverance (Psalm 107:6), guidance (Psalm 107:7), provision (Psalm 107:9), protection (Psalm 107:29-30) and blessings (Psalm 107:35-38).

As I was reflecting recently over this psalm, the Lord reminded me of how He had brought deliverance through trials, guidance in difficult situations, provision in unexpected ways, protection from targeted attacks of the enemy and individual blessings to each of our family members. So much to be thankful for!

May we truly learn to be thankful to God every day!

PrayerLord, may I never forget all the blessings You have given me. Like the Psalmist, help me to be thankful today through a prayer or a song of praise. Amen.

By Palitha Jayasooriya
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“…, people brought the sick into the streets and laid then on beds and mats so that at least Peter’s shadow might fall on some of them as he passed by… and all of them were healed” Acts 5:15-16

As you think of the Apostle Peter’s ministry in the book of Acts, what comes to mind? Is it fearlessness, anointing, miracle worker, dynamic preacher?

Yes, all these are true and God used Peter powerfully. Through Peter God healed a crippled (Acts 3:6-7) and a paralyzed man (Acts 9:32-35), raised the dead (Acts 9:36-43), opened prison doors and gates (Acts 5:19, 12:8-10) and brought thousands to salvation [Both Jews and Gentiles] (Acts 2:41, 4:4, 10:44-46). As the opening scripture in these Devotional records, people even expected to be healed by having Peter’s shadow fall on them as he passed by.

How did such a dramatic change happen in the life of a man who had so callously denied Jesus on 3 occasions? The obvious answer would be the anointing received as Peter and the other disciples were filled with the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost. How true that is and what an anointing they received!

I would however like to suggest another reason why Peter’s ministry was so effective. I believe it was also because of the power of a prayer. In fact, it was an intercessory prayer that was made on his behalf  by none other than the Lord Jesus himself. Jesus told Peter at the Last Supper “Simon, Simon, satan has asked to sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers” (Luke 22:31-32). The final result of that prayer was quite amazing as we have seen in Peter’s powerful ministry.

That shows the power of a prayer!

Friend, never underestimate the power behind a prayer. While we may not sometimes see immediate results, be sure the Lord hears every fervent prayer. Therefore, as the Apostle Paul recommends, “Never stop praying” 1 Thessalonians 5:17.

By Palitha Jayasooriya
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Popular singer Tom Petty passed away recently after a highly successful career. One of Petty’s most loved songs was titled ‘I Won’t Back Down’. It says:

Well, I won’t back down.
No, I won’t back down
You can stand me up at the gates of hell,
But I won’t back down

While Tom Petty was probably singing about the human challenges he had to face, the Apostle Paul says something similar regarding the spiritual battles we face as God’s children. He says, “Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.” (Ephesians 6:13). The imagery is that of a well-trained soldier, planting his feet firmly on the battle field and refusing to back down. In other words, Paul may be saying, ‘don’t back down’. Ever!

The senseless shootings at a church in Texas and others disasters, bear witness to the fact that we live in dangerous times. It is at a time like this that the church of Jesus Christ and individual Christians should stand firm, find renewed hope, minister to the hurting and refuse to back down.

In Daniel 6, Daniel was about to receive the ‘promotion of a lifetime’, being the likely candidate for Prime Minister. The appointment may have brought privileges in the form of a brand new vehicle (the latest chariot?), unlimited power and added bonuses. That’s when envy set in as the other powerful officials rose up against him. Their devious plans meant Daniel would have to either back down from his commitment to God or face the ‘lions’.

Daniel refused to ‘back down’ and God sent an angel to shut the lions’ mouths. Maybe He tranquilized them, maybe He assigned them to a 12 hour fast, or maybe they just lost their appetite. Whatever may have happened, it was a powerful work of God

Similarly, God is with us in our battles. Let us therefore stand firm and be encouraged by the words in James 4:7 that says, “Submit yourselves, then to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you”. Whatever challenge you may be facing today, don’t back down God’s grace will carry you through.

By Palitha Jayasooriya
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“..She has done a beautiful thing to me.” Mark 14:6 (NIV)

I read in a local newspaper of how a Christian Organization had used its funds to help many farming families in the Polonnaruwa District in Sri Lanka, seriously affected by the silent killer, Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD). Through a beautiful act of love, this organization has so far built 8 out of a targeted 15 ‘safe water’ community wells with filtration units, to provide pure drinking water for over 8000 people. In one village, the land to set up the unit had apparently been donated by a farmer who himself was dying of CKD (Another beautiful act).

In Mark 14, Jesus was at the home of Simon the leper when a lady came up to him with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume. She broke the jar and anointed Jesus’ head with the expensive perfume (Mark 14:3). Although she was scolded harshly by some who were present since they felt that her gracious act was a waste (Mark 14:4-5), Jesus looked at it very differently. He mentioned that she had anointed his body for burial (Mark 14:8) and called her act ‘a good thing’ (Mark 14:6). The NIV translates it as ‘a beautiful thing’. He also confirmed that her ‘beautiful act’ would be remembered forever (Mark 14:9)!

We too are called to do ‘beautiful things’ for God so that the lonely and hurting could feel His love in a tangible way. When David took care of his faithful friend Jonathan’s crippled son Mephibosheth, it was a ‘beautiful thing’ that lasted a lifetime (2 Samuel 9:7). Similarly, when Barnabas befriended Saul and found acceptance for him among the disciples who were suspicious of Saul’s motives, it was a ‘beautiful act’ (Acts 9:27). What about you?

May God use us to do ‘beautiful things’ for Him. Someone said, ‘Duty makes us do things well; Love makes us do them beautifully’.

Prayer – Lord help me to spread your beauty wherever I go by doing beautiful things to glorify You.

By Palitha Jayasooriya
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The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.Zephaniah 3:17

The book of Zephaniah was written to warn of impending judgment on Judah. In the midst of the doom however, the book ends with a promise of restoration, forgiveness and blessing. In Zephaniah 3:17, we find the powerful truths shown below.

The Lord is among His people

What a comfort it is to know that God is with His people even in the most challenging circumstances. Grab a hold of that fact without allowing your feelings and your circumstances to control you. He has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5).

The Lord is always with His people even though we may not feel like it at times.

He takes delight in you

Today, many people battle an identity crisis. They struggle with rejection, feeling unloved, low self- esteem and a sense of unworthiness. The situation worsens when we go through regular failures.

What is your condition today? Unloved? Rejected? Feeling worthless? Does it seem like everything you touch turns to tears? If so, rejoice, because God knows you by name (Isaiah 43:1) and He takes great delight in you.

Will you rather believe your feelings, others opinions, or the truth of God’s word.

He is mighty to save

When we trust Jesus, His resurrection power works in us. That power will deliver us from every attack of the evil one for nothing can overcome us when God is on our side (Romans 8:31).

If I were walking down a dark alley and two strong men were waiting to overpower and rob me, it wouldn’t be too difficult since I am not a strongly built person. However, if the Heavyweight boxing champion of the world was walking by my side, the end result would be totally different!!

How much more secure we are when Jesus, the living Savior, dwells in us!! He is mighty to save.

With His love He will calm (quiet) you

In a world filled with stress, God gives His children lasting peace. It is a peace that passes human understanding (Philippians 4:7) and calms us when we feel overwhelmed.

In the midst of a serious spinal problem I had in my mid-twenties, it was only the peace of God that sustained me through 25 days of hospitalization, heavy and discomforting traction (sandbags) on both legs, negative words spoken by many people and what seemed like an uncertain future. Many years later, I still haven’t needed surgery!!

Let’s be encouraged by the words of Zephaniah 3:17 and trust our Lord at all times.

By Palitha Jayasooriya
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My name is

“…Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; You are Mine. Isaiah 43:1

We all like to protect our name. In fact, most people would do anything to stop their name being misused or abused. It always makes me happy when my name is spelt or pronounced correctly. The satisfaction is even greater when someone that I may have met only fleetingly, remembers my name.

I have at times faced some level of embarrassment when the name of a person I’m talking to has eluded me. On a few occasions, I have even struggled to remember the name of a person I was praying for at the altar!

How comforting it is therefore to understand that Our God knows and calls us by name! He says, ‘I have summoned you by name; you are mine.” Yes, He knows you by name.
Let’s look at some Biblical examples to clarify this:

· A senior Citizen had most probably given up on his youthful dreams and ambitions and settled down to a quiet, nomadic life in the desert; until he had a life changing encounter with God. The sight before Moses in Exodus 2:1-6, probably reflected a modern day television as he saw a picture of a burning bush, with a voice speaking from within the bush! What were the first words God spoke to Moses? He said, ‘Moses! Moses (verse 4)!” God called him by name!

God knew Moses by name and He knows you too.

· In 1 Samuel 3:1-10, a young boy serving in the Lord’s temple was probably trying to figure out what his future in ministry would be like. He was surrounded by leadership examples that were quite horrible (Read chapter 2). Then God spoke, and God called him by name! In fact, God probably called him by name at least 5 times that night!

God knew Samuel by name and He knows you too.

· Peter denied the Lord at the most crucial hour and was handling a failure that could have haunted him for the rest of his life. He may have even considered giving up ministry. When Jesus rose from the dead however, an angel told the ladies at the tomb, “But go, tell His disciples and PETER, He is going ahead of you into Galilee.”

Peter was identified by name and so are you.

So friend, be assured that God knows you by name. That shows how personal His love is towards you.

Before I was born the Lord called me; from my birth He has made mention of my name.” (Isaiah 49:1)

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1 John 4:4 Greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world”

It is said that Missionary John Paton’s mission house was once surrounded and on the verge of being attacked by hostile natives. As darkness fell and the threat became more serious, Paton and all in the compound, used the only weapon they had; prayer. As they prayed, the attack did not materialize and the threat ended. Much later, as one of the tribal chiefs turned to Jesus, it was discovered that on the eventful night, the attackers had seen a vast army (God’s army) surrounding the mission house with a protective cordon. They realized it would be futile to attack as the compound was securely and strongly protected.

Living in an increasingly insecure world has its real challenges. Dangers, terrorism, new strains of viruses, economic struggles and broken/displaced families surround us on all sides. In the midst of these tensions that can crush our peace and increase our levels of anxiety, it’s comforting to know that we can look to our God, the living God, to surround us with His protection.

The composer of Psalm 125 gives us a vivid picture of what God’s protection looks like. He says, “As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the Lord surrounds His people both now and forevermore” (vs2). We hear a lot today about ‘surround sound‘. This is ‘surround protection’!

In 2 Kings 6:13-17, the Prophet Elisha was in grave danger in a city called Dothan. The King of Aram was desperate to get his hands on Elisha and sent a strong armed force to surround the city by night. When Elisha’s servant awoke the following morning, he was terrified by the sight of the vast army surrounding the city. Elisha however was unperturbed and said, ‘Don’t be afraid, those who are with us are more than those who are with them‘ (vs16). As the Lord opened the eyes of the servant, the scripture says that “he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha” (vs17). God had surrounded His Prophet with His mighty protection!

He is the same God today. Doesn’t the Bible say that “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, and today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8)? The Apostle John further adds, “Greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world” (1 John 4:4 KJV). Doesn’t this include anything satan or the world can throw at us? Let’s therefore trust God to surround us with the protection needed for ourselves and our families.

You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance”. (Psalm 32:7)

PrayerLord may your mighty protection surround us every day. Keep us confident in that trust! We pray In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Thought – No evil can surround us when we remain surrounded by God’s protection!

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devotional

A couple known to me, took time off their busy schedule to visit a lady who had just lost her husband. Since they didn’t know the lady too well, the visit turned out to be an awkward one, with neither party communicating too much. The grieving wife in fact hardly spoke a word. When the couple eventually left, they felt disappointed that they had failed to comfort the grieving widow. Many months later, to their absolute surprise, she told them that their visit had been one of the most encouraging moments for her during her time of sadness!

We live in an extremely busy world that moves at a rapid pace and given a chance, most people would rather not stop for anyone. In the process however, we could be losing great opportunities to minister God’s love and healing to hurting people.

The Lord Jesus loved to stop for people. In Mark 10:46 –52, we read about Bartimaeus, a blind man who was begging by the roadside (Vs 46). When Bartimaeus cried to Jesus, asking for mercy, many in the crowd rebuked him and asked him to be quiet (Vs 47-48). (Talk about being helpful!) The next verse however is truly beautiful! It says, ‘Jesus stopped’ (Vs 49). He then called for Bartimaeus and healed him. Because Jesus stopped, a blind man received sight and a life was transformed powerfully!

In Luke 8: 40-48, Jesus was on His way to pray for Jairus’ dying daughter. He was in a hurry and the crowd was almost crushing Him. Just then, a lady with a serious and longstanding bleeding condition, with no medical cure close at hand, touched the edge of His cloak.  Jesus stops and asks, ‘Who touched me’ (Vs 45). He stopped for this unnamed lady and a life was transformed as she experienced His healing!

Jesus stopped for Zacchaeus (Luke 19:1-10), He stopped to bless children (Mark 10:13-16), He stopped for a grieving widow who had lost her only son (Luke 7:11-17), and He stopped for many, many others. What a difference it made! He will always stop for you too!

Friend, are you willing to stop for someone today? Are you willing to give some quality time from your busy schedule to share the love of Jesus with a hurting person? Will you walk across the street to comfort a neighbor whose family has been torn apart by the cruel hand of death? Could you take that phone call that might give new hope to a person battling cancer or depression? Will you spare a moment to speak to the lonely person seated at the coffee shop? Can you take a break from your busy day to help put some food on a struggling family’s table?

When we stop for someone, it could at times, literally mean ‘life or death’ for them. It could bring healing to a broken heart, lift up a crushed spirit and change a person for a lifetime. Even more, as we share the saving grace of Jesus, it could change that same person for all eternity!

Will you stop for someone today?

You cannot live a perfect day without doing something for someone who will never be able to repay you’ (Author unknown).

By Palitha Jayasooriya
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Thoughts by All Thoughts by Men thoughts by Palitha Jayasooriya

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You will forget the shame of your youth. Isaiah 54:4c

“…You will forget the shame of your youth” Isaiah 54:4c

A historical wonder of my country Sri Lanka is the complex rock fortress Sigiriya and the palace built on it by one of our former Kings, Kasyapa, in the 5th century. Tourists flock there to view its beauty, grandeur and craftsmanship.  One of highlights of Sigiriya is the frescoes that are painted on its rock walls. Many years ago, some of these frescoes were vandalized by an unknown group of people, with either ink or paint being thrown to deface them. As a result, many experts had to be brought in to restore these frescoes back to their original state. Thankfully, they succeeded in the restoration efforts.

Isaiah 54 speaks about God’s restoration to a barren, widowed lady (symbolic of the nation of Israel), who had possibly been rejected by her husband (vs 6). In that time and culture, being barren, widowed and rejected, marked her for humiliation and shame. It made her extremely vulnerable.  God however speaks restoration into her shame and disgrace as Isaiah 54:4 says, “Do not be afraid; you will not suffer shame.  Do not fear disgrace; you will not be humiliated.  You will forget the shame of your youth and remember no more the reproach of your widowhood”. In verse 17, God says, ‘you will refute every tongue that accuses you…”.

Friend, are you carrying any shame or reproach from your past?  May be from your youth? Is it about failure as a parent or as a spouse or in some other area of your life? Does the recent past bring up memories of being humiliated and disgraced?  Be encouraged because our God has the amazing ability to restore us from our shame and failures when we turn to Him with our whole heart!

ILLUSTRATION – I have always loved music and singing. (This I believe led me into a career in Radio Broadcasting later on.)  When Jesus gloriously saved me, one of the first things I wanted to do therefore was to join the church choir. Unfortunately, I didn’t know that I couldn’t sing too well!! When I joined the choir, I was singing off pitch and therefore disorienting the rest of the group! As a result, it seemed like I would have to step down from the choir. This would have been a severe setback and caused much shame for me as a young boy. However, thanks to my Choir Director, 3 members of the choir and most of all, God’s help, I managed to overcome this problem. I later became a worship Leader in my church and even sang harmony!! Over the past 8 years, I have been involved in many ministry areas, but the one that I have served most closely in is…..like to take a guess? It’s worship!!!

God delights to restore us from our shame. Will you allow Him to do so?

No one whose hope is in you will ever be put to shame...” Psalm 25:3

Prayer – Lord, I ask you today to be the Lord over every area of my life and to restore me from all shame and disgrace. I ask this in Jesus’ Name. Amen!

By Palitha Jayasooriya
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feature winter sceneI wonder how many times you have been let down by someone? There are many   who promise us that they will stand by us, no matter what comes our way. They say, ‘Don’t worry, we’ll be right behind you’. However, when trouble strikes, most of them are so far behind that you need a telescope to see them!

On the other hand, things around us keep changing at a rapid pace, sometimes too fast for us to adjust. In fact, some changes like getting old, developing health issues, children leaving home, having to play the role of a single mom or dad unexpectedly and losing a job can be quite scary!

It is therefore comforting to know that in the midst of changing circumstances or being let down by someone, we have a God who never deserts us! He has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you’ (Hebrews 13:5)

In Deuteronomy 31, the people of God were told of a huge change that was ahead of them. Moses, the man who had led them through ‘thick & thin’ for 40 years, makes a startling statement. In vs 2 he says, ‘The Lord has said to me, you shall not cross the Jordan.’ Just imagine the shock that went through the camp! He also says, ‘Joshua also will cross ahead of you…’ (vs 3). Here was their leader, talking about a change in leadership at the critical period of entering the Promised Land. Moses also clarifies in vs 2, that he was no longer able to lead them, being a 120 years old. It was obviously a scary time for the people of Israel who were used to seeing Moses in front of them. Sure, changing circumstances can be very trying!

Moses however then assures them, ‘the Lord your God goes before you, He will never leave you nor forsake you.’ What a promise! He therefore asks the people to be strong and courageous. This gave strength to the people who had seen God go before them as a pillar of cloud and a pillar of fire (Exodus 13:21). It is also no coincidence that in Joshua 1:5, God also tells Joshua, the new leader, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you’.

What changing circumstances are you facing right now? How are you responding to those changes? Has fear gripped your heart? Do you feel like God is far away? Remember, ‘He will never leave you nor forsake you’. We have a God who never deserts us, specifically in the most difficult moments.

Illustration: There is a story of a family whose house caught fire. As each parent tried to grab a few belongings and a child’s hand to get out of the house as quickly as possible, the little daughter who was holding the father’s hand, broke free from his grip and ran upstairs to get her teddy bear. However, when trying to come down again, she found that she was trapped by the enveloping flames. She therefore, ran to the upstairs window and shouted for her father’s help. The father shouted back ‘jump down, I will catch you’. However, since she couldn’t see her father clearly through the smoke, the little girl cried, ‘I’m scared to jump daddy, I can’t see you’. Her father replied, ‘don’t worry honey, you just jump. I’m right under you and I will catch you. Although you can’t see me, I CAN SEE YOU’!

Our heavenly Father sees us at all times. He will never desert us!

By Palitha Jayasooriya

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God's Goodness in 2017

You crown the year with a bountiful harvest; even the hard pathways overflow with abundance”. Psalm 65:11 (NLT)

What a powerful verse!!

As the New Year begins, we may be reflecting on what happened in the past 12 months. Some will have powerful testimonies while others will remember their challenges. Some would say, ‘It was my best year’, while others may say, ‘it could have been better’. Here are a few memories that went through my mind.

• I remembered a year when I ended up in hospital on January 2nd, due to a severe asthmatic condition

• I vividly remembered December 26th, 2004, when a deadly Tsunami devastated the coastline of my beloved country, Sri Lanka.

• I also remembered the end of one particularly disappointing year when Johnny Logan’s song “What’s Another Year?” seemed to be a perfect anthem for me for the year ahead!!!

Psalm 65 is considered a National Psalm of praise to God for His goodness. It was apparently sung after the spring rains came in to water and refresh the earth. The song became even more meaningful if the Nation had been through a dry season. Let’s look at what this Psalm tells us about God’s goodness.

1)    God’s Goodness Crowns the Year with a Bountiful Harvest

A crown is a special and glittering insignia worn by Kings, Queens, Emperors & other royalty. A crown or something that resembled it, was given to the winners of sporting events in Biblical times, and the winner in present-day beauty contests is also given a crown. We crown people with titles like King of Rock and Roll (Elvis Presley), and King of Pop (Michael Jackson).

According to Psalm 65:11, God places a crown of a ‘bountiful harvest’ on the year. So, are you ready to receive a ‘bountiful harvest’ through God’s ‘goodness’ in the New Year?!! (The Psalm highlights many other acts of God’s goodness to His people through verses 2-13).

A man of God said, ‘You may lack the fastest, the finest and the latest, but you will never lack what is needed’!!

  2)   God’s Goodness Will be Seen Even in the Hard Places

Even the hard pathways overflow with abundance”.

No doubt, we will have to face some, if not many ‘hard pathways’ in the coming year. It’s part of life. But, the Psalmist says, “Even the hard pathways overflow with abundance”. This statement, when looked at in the agricultural setting in which it was written, speaks about the ‘dry’ pathways being made fertile after the rains.

Maybe the past year has been a ‘dry season’ for you; for your ministry. If so, believe now that you will see God’s abundance overflowing in the ‘hard pathways’ in the New Year!
‘If God takes us on stony paths, He will fix us with strong shoes’!!

ILLUSTRATION – Right now, I remember 2013. It was a challenging year for us from a health perspective. First, to my dismay, I found that the Retina on my left eye had torn, which meant that I had to go through 2 serious surgeries in the space of 3 months. It was truly a ‘hard pathway’. A few months later, my wife was hospitalized with Dengue Fever with her condition being quite scary for a few days. Thank God, He brought us through those challenges and we experienced His goodness and favor in the midst of the ‘hard pathways’.

As we prepare our hearts to see Psalm 65:11 fulfilled in the year ahead, let’s remember that we need to give the Lord Jesus the first place in every area of our life. Here’s something I gleaned off a bulletin.

To achieve spiritual success, do not forget to give God the first hour of the day, the first day of the week, the first part of every paycheck, the first consideration in every decision, and the first place in your heart.’ – That’s a great way to start and to live through the year ahead!!

May you receive God’s crown of goodness and a bountiful harvest in the New Year, and may you see His abundance overflowing in the hard pathways. Have a blessed and Christ-filled 2017!!

By Palitha Jayasooriya

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Thoughts by All Thoughts by Men thoughts by Palitha Jayasooriya