Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Loving the things that God loves - Longing For Yerushalaiym

I was thinking of Yerushaliym the eternal city of God, our common destiny, our connected story. Oh how I love the city of God and as I began to dwell on it I was asking myself why do I love this city so much. The answer is simple you love all the things that God loves. Yeshua expresses His love for Yerushaliym when He says

"O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing.

Though His own city has been unfaithful, He hasn't turned away, He has set His love and will return to take His possession and because of this eternal promise from our Lord so is our longing connected to His. In Psalm 122 we are urged to pray for the peace of Jerusalem, saying those who love the Lord will pray for its peace and its prosperity. Though it is a far fetched idea in terms of human strength and will, yet we are urged to pray for it as watchmen on its walls. We continue to see the longing in the scriptures in Psalm 137 of the Babylonian exiles for their homeland and Jewish thought today still includes this yearning:

"By the rivers of Babylon…we wept, when we remembered Zion…If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning. If I do not remember thee, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth, if I prefer not Jerusalem above my chief joy." .

Those who love Yeshua love the things that He has set His heart upon. His heart is upon Yerushalaiym. Mysterious feelings grip the Judeo-Christian & Jewish hearts at the very mention of this city's name? Irrespective of the reasonings the hearer is a patriotic citizen of a country other than the state of Israel, and whether or not that Non-Jewish or Jewish person agrees with the actions and policies of current Israeli leadership, the name of Yerushalaiym triggers an immediate emotional response. Although some might deny it, the consciousness of one's Jewish identity seems to be tied somehow to Jerusalem and all that it symbolizes. Far more than a mere geographic site, Jerusalem is the "heartbeat" of God's ancient people, no matter where in the world they reside. Jewish history and Jewish destiny are irrevocably and forever interwoven with those of Jerusalem.

The ancients considered Jerusalem the center of the earth. The site of the Holy Temple is there upon Mount Moriah; and in the bedrock of that summit lies a large, flat rock called Even-hashetiyah, purportedly the base and center of the world. The ancient Jewish sages said of this rock: "And it was called the Foundation Stone because the world was founded on it, for Isaiah the prophet said, 'Thus saith the Lord God: Behold I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone…a costly cornerstone of sure foundation.' (Isaiah 28:16. We also know that this foundation stone is Yeshua Himself.

"From where did He [God) create it [the world]? From Zion, for the Psalmist sang, 'Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God hath shined forth.' (Psalm 50:2)

"And when the Holy One, blessed be He, shall renew the world, He shall renew it out of Zion. For Isaiah prophesied: 'And it shall come to pass in the end of days, that the mountain of the Lord's house shall be established as the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills.'" (Isaiah 2:2)

In the third century, Jewish sages called Jerusalem the middle of the earth, saying, "…the land of Israel is the middle of the earth. Jerusalem is the middle of the land of Israel. The Temple is the middle of Jerusalem. The Holy of Holies is the middle of the Temple. The holy ark is the middle of the Holy of Holies. and the Stone of Foundation is in front of the Holy of Holies."

They also wrote, "The Almighty created the world in the same manner as a child is formed in its mother's womb. Just as a child begins to grow…so the world began from its central point and then developed in all directions. The 'navel' of the world is Jerusalem, and its core is the great altar in the Holy Temple.

"This world is like unto the human eye, for the white is the ocean which 'girds' the earth; the iris is the earth upon which we dwell; the pupil is Jerusalem, and the image therein is the Temple of the Lord. May it be built speedily in our day and in the days of all Israel. Amen!"

Medieval maps show Jerusalem as the center of the universe, calling it Umbilicus Mundi (Navel of the World). There is a world map with Jerusalem at its center attached to an ancient Latin manuscript of the Book of Psalms (c. 1250). The map illustrates Psalm 74:12, "For God is my King of old, working salvation in the midst of the earth [italics ours]."

Aside from geographical considerations, we see Jerusalem as the "center" of the world in that it is central in God's plan for the human race. When we pray for the peace of Jerusalem (Psalm 122:6), we are praying for the place, for its people who live there and elsewhere, and for its prophetic destiny and its fulfillment in the grand story that God is revealing.

Ultimately then, to pray for the peace of Jerusalem is to pray for the kind of peace that only God can bring—the peace which, when it comes, will produce the end to wars and strife. This is the only lasting peace, the peace of Jesus the Messiah, a right relationship between God and all humanity. To pray for the peace of Jerusalem is to pray for that which God wants most of all to bestow upon it—Himself. Prayer for the peace of Jerusalem includes prayer for His coming and for His Kingdom.

To pray for the peace of Jerusalem is to weep over her with the Lord Jesus and to say with Him as recorded in Luke 19:42, "If thou hadst known…the things which belong unto thy peace!" It is also to know that although these things are hidden from Israel as a nation right now, they are being discovered and received by individual Jewish people; and it is our privileged duty to tell them—until the time when the prophecy of Zechariah 12:10 will be fulfilled. Then God will pour out His Spirit upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and they will recognize the Messiah, and as Paul wrote in Romans 11:26, "…all Israel shall be saved."

I want to end with strong emotions from the chorus of the song "Yerushaliym Shel Zahav" the song mentioned in one of my older post. with the english translation on the left.

Jerusalem of gold
And of bronze, and of light
Behold I am a harp for all your songs

"Yerushalayim shel zahav
Veshel nechoshet veshel or
Halo lechol shirayich ani kinor

Blessed are those who love the things that Yeshua has set His love upon. May those who pray for Yerushalaiym be blessed and prosper.

Blessings & Shalom,

Sam Kurien

Mayim Chaim - "Streams of Living Waters"

I have attached another song from one of favorite messianic worship singing group called "Zemar Levav", I have mentioned them before in one of my older posts. This one is based on a traditional Israeli worship song called "Mayim Chaim" - "streams of living waters". Let us remember that He came to give us life and life in abundance and that life is in Him alone. Enjoy the video of Zemar Levav singing at a Messianic conference.

It is the our deepest longing & expectation for every believer in Yeshua awaiting His return on Zion!

Blessings & Shalom,

Song of Moses - The Lord is my strength and my song

One of the amazing images of my God and savior for me personally He standing between the children of Israel in flight and the pursuing armies of Egypt. The Bible says and the Lord stood between them as pillar of fire, terrifying the Egyptians with His drawn sword and on the side of the Israelites He stood as the light and shelter so His children could pass through in safety.

No doubt after this amazing rescue, Miriam and the women break out with their harps dancing unto the Lord. And in Exodus chapter 15 the song of Moses rises out in praise from the Israelite camps. I have attached a video here for you to worship & enjoy!

Blessings & Shalom,

Sam Kurien

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Our Christmas Tree & The Polar Express

We came back from vacations but fortunately (bcos of the time crunch) before leaving we had put our Christmas tree up...and boy we are glad we did it a month ago. Our tree is our best one so far! I got some time today to take some pics and video to give you a preview of Isaac's favorite Christmas train "The Polar Express" which made it in time at the Kurien household to replace the Santa's express. We were able to incorporate the world of Disney and Pixar along with the traditional classics, though not scaled into the detailed shots take a look at the video I shot along with some pics below.

Have a Merry Christmas & May the joy of the Lord surround us as usual.


Monday, December 20, 2010

Love Psalm - Ata Tzuri

Overwhelmingly and passionately O Lord I am in love with you,
Things about you and your fame I have know through ages,
But you reveal to me more and more & more I am in love with you,

Your beauty and Your love surpasses everything,
In love you cast your eyes upon me,
Even time to time looking upon my name inscribed on your palm.

I lay at your feet like Mary did washing your holy feet with her hair,
My devotion comes to you like that perfume rising up to your throne.
No one else can take the place that you have in my heart.

You are my blessed Prince of Peace, my Sar Shalom,
You are my everything, my inheritance and my portion,
O intimate Yeshua, you are my ata tzuri, my rock, my tower & my shelter.

You who go before me in battle; In ardent devotion and love I follow,
You set me on high places because you said: "I have set my love on you."
But you set your love on me first, so I am in love with you.

Restoring beauty from ashes is what you alone can do,
You are the song of my heart, you are my salvation.
What can I give you back, my heart alone for I am in love with you.

Blessings & Shalom,

Sam Kurien

Saturday, December 18, 2010

In The Spirit of Peace - Walking In The Footsteps of Abraham

As we are in the Christmas season I am highly reminded of the reason for the season, it is about the ardent expectation of the return of the Prince of Peace or our Sar Shalom Yeshua Ha Masiha. Talking about peace  conflicts are going all round the world and it is also an important time to reflect that blessed are the peace makers who stand in the gap as intercessors and try to resolve problems where there is a conflict. Recently DAS send me a TED video with William Ury who co-founded Harvard's Program on Negotiation and co-founder of a NGO called International Negotiation network whose primary focus is in ending civil wars and terrorism. The talk is amazing as he retracts the TED audience back to footsteps of Abraham who was a symbol of hospitality and a blessing to the nations. Here is the video for your knowledge.

Though Ury brings out a wonderful message and bless his heart for the efforts, my opinion from the spiritual stand point is in the middle east is peace can only return with the return of Yeshua. Does it mean that we are not to pursue peace?  The answer is absolutely "yes" we are to strive for peace, we are to be peacemakers and with God's wisdom bring in the third side where we can sit like the Bushmen in a circle and talk and not leave till the issue or conflict  is resolved. At least that is how believers should treat each other.

Apart from that what I take away from the talk is yet again with people from different worldview the process is similar but there may be principles that we may not see completely eye to eye but the effort of creating a dialogue should continue; creating a frame work of reference of Abraham's path as Ury quotes is very helpful and an effort to replace animosity to trust worthiness. Another observation I make from the talk which Ury did not bring out is Abraham in his journey walked side by side with God. In fact God considered Abraham to be his friend and as his nomadic journey spanned from Ur to Cannan, he avoided conflict whenever he could, his tents were open to strangers so they could be refreshed, he rescued the weak and he even fought when needed for justice.

Blessed are the peacemakers who stand and walk in the footsteps of Abraham. But a reminder too we also walk more in the footsteps of one far greater than Abrham, who became our salvation and strength. Let us then be friends of God and pursue peace.

Blessings & Shalom,

Sam Kurien

Friday, December 03, 2010

Spheres of Influence - A Cup Bearer Builds A Wall & A King Inspires A Technology

I have been thinking about this topic for quite some time now, it seems God brings us into times and positions for reasons, how we get there, may be through trials, hard work, shaping of life's twists and turns but when we are in God's plan and have been invited by Him to allow Him to be the navigator of our stories, He makes sure we do get there and when we get there it is usually for making a difference, being a difference maker and bringing Him glory.

From the topic of the post you must have guessed who I am going to talk about. Its Nehemiah who was the cup bearer to the Persian King. Enslaved under the Persians, Nehemiah was one of the Jews who made a political career but ended up being the trusted cup bearer. Now the job of cup bearer doesn't seem to be that glamorous added to the facts he could die if there were schemers in the court who might try to poison the king. Nevertheless Nehemiah had the the ears of the king and his favor. When Nehemiah hears the plight of the people who have returned to Jerusalem the Holy City, that they were attacked and unprotected, Nehemiah  sets his mind to do something about it.  Before that he prays to God that the Lord gives him favor before the king and when he presents his request to the king, the king not only grants him his request to go and help build a wall for his people but also gives him all the materials, supplies and help that he may need.

Nehemiah comes to Jerusalem and starts building this wall. In spite of opposition he perseveres and accomplishes something important. Nehemiah's contribution was that he build a wall. Just a wall! but I think his sphere of influence was great, he not only protected the then inhabitants of Jerusalem, but that ushered in the resettlement of the Jewish people. Exactly 483 Jewish years  later Jesus who rides into Jerusalem among the shouts of "Hosanna to the King" must have looked at these walls and thought in His mind, "Well done my servant Nehemiah, I am pleased with you". Nehemiah's sphere of influence reached far down into many generations, he is a spectacular example of someone who are in the will of God in their small sphere and have a great impact on history.

On the same vein I want to relate here the story of Harald Blåtand King of the Danes who ruled between 935 to 985 AD. He was  brought up in a Christian home and was encouraged to make a difference and be an influencer in the sphere of domain that he was called to be as a  Christian king. Harland Blåtand became a Christian at the age of 25 and was influential in sending missionaries all across Europe. The Jelling stone inscriptions in Denmark are a reminder of that. Of these stones the larger stone with its runic writings is said to be erected by Blåtand in the memory of his parents. On one side of the stone is the image of Christ and on the other side translated from Runic it states "Harald, king, bade these memorials to be made after Gorm, his father, and Thyra, his mother. The Harald who won the whole of Denmark Sweden and Norway and turned the Danes to Christianity." Blåtand united Denmark, Norway and Sweden and was influential in his christian calling. In his small sphere of influence in Europe, he definitely is a remarkable person in history.

Now if you look closely on the electronic devices of today we are very familiar with the technology called 'Bluetooth'. Blåtand's name when translated in english stands for Harald Bluetooth. The bluetooth technology was named in honor of this King of the Danes. Now if you observe the runic letters more closely as shown in the figures and take the H and B and fuse them, it gives us the Bluetooth Symbol. Isn't that remarkable? I think almost a thousand years later because Harald Blåtand was a difference maker in the sphere of his influence, his name was honored even more. I like to think God must have looked upon this servant of his like He did on Nehemiah for a job well done in his generation so much so that his name would be honored in a technology piece which would help in modern day communications between electronic devices.

May we like these amazing examples be difference makers, wall builders for the King of Kings in this generation.

Blessings & Shalom,

Sam Kurien