Three Biblical Reminders to Safeguard Our Faith in Jesus

“Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things again is no trouble to me, and it is a safeguard for you.

Beware of the dogs, beware of the evil workers, beware of the [a]false circumcision; for we are the true [b]circumcision, who worship in the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh,although I myself might have confidence even in the flesh. If anyone else has a mind to put confidence in the flesh, I far more: circumcised the eighth day, of the nation of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the Law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to the righteousness which is in the Law, found blameless.

But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. More than that, I count all things to be loss [c]in view of the surpassing value of [d]knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, [e]for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ, and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith, 10 that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and [f]the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death;11 [g]in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.” – Philippians 3:1-11

 

When writing an e-mail (electronic mail), we are always told that as a best practice, the first 1-3 sentences of your e-mail should contain the summary of your entire message. The purpose for that is for your readers to already be clear of your objective/intent of why you are writing.

For example:

If the e-mail is informative – the first two-three sentences should already answer – what is it that you want them to know?

If the e-mail requires an action from the recipient – the first two-three sentences should already answer – what is it that you want them to do?

The rest of the body of the e-mail, should only contain the details to support your main point.

This is how Paul outlined Chapter 3, verses 1 to 11. Paul’s main point/intent is to warn the church of Philippi against the Jews, specifically those who practice the religious rite of Judaism. Verses 3 to 11, on the other hand, are verses to show how Paul supports his main objective – the reason why he wanted the church to be careful with Judaizers, which is to protect the Gospel.

To explain this further, I’ll give an illustration of a somewhat similar scenario that occurred in the book of Galatians. Imagine two groups of people – the church and the Judaizers. As a background, there were Judaizers going around the church of Galatia, encouraging/requiring, to circumcise the non-Jewish believers because these Judaizers are saying that it is a requirement for salvation. In order to protect the true Gospel Paul says, “5 But we did not yield in subjection to them for even an hour, so that the truth of the gospel would remain with you.” – 2:5 . If Paul agreed to their request, it was as if he agreed to the distorted Gospel of these Jews. This is a similar warning that Paul wrote to the church of Philippi which we find in the first part of Chapter 3. And that is my topic for tonight – three biblical reminders to safeguard our faith in Jesus Christ.

First point: (Verses 1-3) (the concept of substance over form) Jesus Christ should be our only glory

Verses 1-2:  (1) finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things again is no trouble to me, and it is a safeguard for you. (2) Beware of the dogs, beware of the evil workers, and beware of the [a] false circumcision; Verse 3 for we are the true [b]circumcision, who worship in the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh

In accounting, there is this what we call the concept of “substance over form” which tells us that the value of something is not defined by how it looks or how it appears to be.  Example: In form, it looks like a ball. But in substance, it really is an egg. (I.e. golf ball)

Another example, not everything that you bought for 1 thousand pesos is really worth 1 thousand pesos. Sometimes it can be less. “Substance over form” tells us to consider of course what the substance is rather than the form.

This is what these verses are warning us about. Mag-ingat tayo sa mga tao who appear to be good outwardly and religiously correct, but inwardly, are like:

  • Dogs – usually this is used by the Jews to refer to the Gentiles being filthy and gala; these are not the cute dogs we hug today; but in this verse, it was used by Paul to refer to the Jews as like hypocrites, because in form, their mouths speak of righteousness but in substance they really have filthiness of attitudes
  • Evil workers – in form, their mouths speak of righteousness but in substance, they are rejecting Christ, therefore, anyone who rejects God can reasonably be called evil
  • And lastly, false circumcision. There are two Greek words for “circumcision”. One is Peritome, which meant “to cut around, or circumcise” and the other one is Katatome, which meant to “to cut-off”, the same word that the Bible uses to describe the cutting of the flesh that pagans do which God forbids in the Old Testament. In this verse, Paul used the word Katatome which means to cut-off; other bible versions, instead of using “false circumcision”, uses “mutilators of the flesh”; So, it’s as if Paul is referring to the Jews as people who in the first place, are not even circumcising (by definition of circumcision as the symbol of the unconditional covenant made by God to Abraham); but instead, people who are only performing a pagan ritual.

These three descriptions (i.e. dogs, evil workers, and mutilators of the flesh) in verse 2, gives us an illustration of people who – are hypocrites, not of God, saying and doing things they don’t even understand.

In verse 3, Paul then explains why the church needs to watch-out from them, by reminding the church of Philippi who they are in Christ. Example, tayo when we warn people from someone or something we have the tendencies to elaborate about the danger/warning because we want the people to understand what it can do to them). In this chapter, instead of robbing in the dangers/wrong doctrine of Judaism, Paul focuses on elaborating the TRUTH, including about where are confidence, reliance, and glory should be). (Side comment: so Paul went to the higher ground).

In verse 3, Paul says, we are:

  • True circumcision (remember in the book of Romans, it was explained that the true circumcision is that of the cleansing of the heart by the Spirit; spiritual cleansing)
  • Worshiper in the Spirit of God (not of evil)
  • Glory in Christ Jesus
  • No confidence in the flesh

In other words, as believers, the circumcision that we have is that of heart and by the Spirit of God. Not by our own works or of any man. Paul reminds us that outward/physical cleansing is meaningless if the heart is unclean. As Christians, our salvation is not dependent on any rituals; our circumcision is of the heart, and by the Spirit. With this, we can glory in Christ alone who cleansed us from all unrighteousness so that now we have nothing to boast.

Today, as Christians, where is Jesus Christ in our pursuit for righteousness? Are we like the hypocrites who glory in themselves, thinking they are right, but actually blinded? Are we just relying on our own strength and understanding? Doing things because it is religiously correct, traditionally accepted, even biblically sound? Or are we walking in joyful obedience to the Lord knowing that it is Jesus Christ who has cleansed our hearts from sin and is the only One who will enable us to walk holy lives?

Second Point: (verses 4 to 9) Jesus Christ is sufficient for our justification (His blood was sufficient for our salvation)

4 although I myself might have confidence even in the flesh. If anyone else has a mind to put confidence in the flesh, I far more: 5 circumcised the eighth day, of the nation of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the Law, a Pharisee; 6 as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to the righteousness which is in the Law, found blameless. 7 But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ.

Kung good works lang ang basehan, based on how the Judaizers define it, “I far more” have more things to boast. Then he talks about who he was prior to his conversion:

  • Circumcised the eight day, which was the requirement in Genesis
  • A Pharasee as to the zeal, (legalist)

Then he says in verse 7, “whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss”. In accounting, when your gains/losses are being accounted for, you need to add the two, plus/minus, because at the end of the day, the entity/company needs to be defined as either gaining/losing; hindi pwede na dalawa; For example: if you put it in the context of your own resources, your own assets – meron kang lupa and meron kang sasakyan – (you sold etc.)

Grammatically, to say “for the sake of” means: “because of”. What Paul is saying is that everything he mentioned in prior the prior verses, he know has counted it as a loss –something he will never recover anymore. It considered as something that has already diminished.

This gives us the picture of Paul – turning away from his past life (e.g. a persecutor of the church, a legalist, etc.), and now turning to Jesus Christ.

8 More than that, I count all things to be loss [c]in view of the surpassing value of [d]knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, [e]for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ, 9 and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith,

Paul considers all his good works, that is, his righteousness derived from the law, as “rubbish”; because this can really not be used to attain salvation; it is only by the grace of Jesus Christ. As opposed to what the Judaizers promote, which is the salvation that includes good works, Paul illustrates throwing all his good works as a credential of attaining salvation because he says that only through Jesus Christ’s death on the cross are we truly justified.

In application, what have we counted as loss for the sake of Christ? And have we really counted it as loss that we may gain Christ? Like Paul, do we also find the value of knowing Jesus Christ as something that surpasses any other thing we may be holding on to right now?

Third point: Jesus Christ should be our ultimate reward

10 that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and [f]the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; 11 [g]in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.

  1. “Knowing” – not the head knowledge but the “personal and constant encounter/experience”
  2. Paul’s sufferings.

In Philippians 1:21, Paul says “to live is Christ, and to die is gain”. For Paul, it is all about Jesus Christ. And Christ has always been enough for Him after his conversion.

When Paul was writing this letter, we all know that he was in prison. He could only think of two things – he gets released or dies in jail. But in all of these, Paul continues to rejoice in the Lord and encourages the church to the same. In this book of Philippians, he mentions “rejoice” and “be joyful” many times. And that’s because for Paul, he knows and he is confident that, whether on earth or in heaven, Jesus already is his portion forever. If he lives, Christ will continue to be exalted in his life. If he dies, Christ is still exalted in his life.

In application: As Christians, is Christ exalted in our lives? When persecution comes, how do we react? Do we continue with our faith, knowing that Jesus already is our reward?

To end this long note, I would like to share with you a quote from the book the Radical Cross, by A.W. Tozer which speaks that a follower of Jesus Christ is one who knows he is nothing but has everything if he has Jesus.

I quote:

“The Christian believes that in Christ he has died, yet he is more alive than before and he fully expects to live forever. He walks on earth while seated in heaven and though born on earth he finds that after his conversion he is not at home here. The Christian soon learns that if he would be victorious as a son of heaven among men on earth he must not follow the common pattern of mankind, but rather the contrary. That he may be safe, he puts himself in jeopardy; he loses his life to save it and is in danger of losing it if he attempts to preserve it. He may be and often is highest when he feels lowest and most sinless when he is conscious of sin. He is wisest when he knows that he knows not and knows least when he has acquired the greatest amount of knowledge. He sometimes does most by doing nothing and goes furthest when standing still. In heaviness he manages to rejoice and keeps his heart glad even in sorrow. He believes that he is saved now, nevertheless he expects to be saved later and looks forward joyfully to future salvation. He fears God but is not afraid of Him. In God’s presence he feels overwhelmed and undone, yet there is nowhere he would rather be than in that presence. He knows that he has been cleansed from his sin, yet he is painfully conscious that in his flesh dwells no good thing.
He loves supremely One whom he has never seen, and though himself poor and lowly he talks familiarly with One who is King of all kings and Lord of all Lords, and is aware of no incongruity in so doing. He feels that he is in his own right altogether less than nothing, yet he believes without question that he is the apple of God’s eye and that for him the Eternal Son became flesh and died on the cross of shame. He cheerfully expects before long to enter that bright world above, but he is in no hurry to leave this world and is quite willing to await the summons of his heavenly Father. And he is unable to understand why the critical unbeliever should condemn him for this; it all seems so natural and right in the circumstances that he sees nothing inconsistent about it.” – from the Radical Cross by Aiden Wilson Tozer
!

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The Four Sections of my New Journal

20years of writing on my bed (I mean on the notebook while at bed) has been one of the constant and consistent activities that I have loved to do. This isn’t like letting you in into a private world (not publicly opening a diary right here), but just generously sharing an escape that kept me going for years.  <Insert friendly face>.

Today I just got my new journal. It’s a bit different from the ones I had – pretty much reflects how one can try new things when she reaches a little (just a little) past her mid-life stage. The old, while its normal, can become too familiar. Too familiar that you just want to get your hands off it and on to something a bit different.

Say “Hi” to my heart-patterned, noisy-covered, 21 by 29 inch notebook. The largest I had so far. <Insert satisfied face>.


It’s cute, isn’t it? It’s pink, I hate that I love it. Yes, I hate that I love pink. I was 7years old when mama taught me how to journal. I remember when I first bought a notebook solely for recording daily events. Writing to every page as if it is listening to you and capable of responding back. Eeesh.

So I was at a store with mama and my brother (Papa was doing office work). It was probably one of the most difficult situations during childhood –that was, having to decide between a “yellow” and a “pink” journal cover. (Lesson Number 1: Learn to decide. Lesson Number 2: Choose only one). After long hours of self-deliberation, I finally picked the one that looked cheddar-cheesy. And believe me, that’s the first and last yellow journal I got for myself. (Lesson Number 3: It’s ok to have pink notebooks!).

So what kind of “newness” am I bubbling about? It’s the content. Plain and white pages have faced me for long and now I just designed and conceptualized a new thought-absorbing (not just water-absorbing) compiled pieces of paper. Something you might wanna copy, tweak a bit, apply to your own studying, or ignore (I wouldn’t mind).

Planning (please excuse my messy handwriting):

The idea is to consume colored sections divided into four. The goal is for the little girl (who hates that she likes pink) to grow and mature in the eyes of His Master (His name is Jesus, and by the way, He is THE Lord).

1. First Section (blue pages) -#Teachable

These pages shall contain everything studied and learned from my pink bible (Pink! Not again!!). The goal is to study (not just read) a few verses. In these pages, there shall be four columns namely “Scripture”, which shall contain the verbatim. “Observation” which shall narrate the facts of the story read. “Interpretation” which shall lay down what the story teaches. And “Application” which shall bluntly ask heart-piercing questions to check the status of how one is walking the talk. (Credits to those who taught me how to study the right way).

2. Second Section (pink pages) – #Prayerful

These pages shall be filled, well obviously, with the hopeful words and overflowing desires. It will track the answers, therefore, each item stamped with a Yes or No. Probably a “W” somewhere. The heart is deceitful, thus, this will somehow show how many “No”s I get for hoping the wrong things and how many “Yes”s I get for dreaming the right ones. “W”s will measure the patience. Perhaps!

3. Third Section (green pages) – #Intentional

These pages shall contain a list of deliberate kindness, deliberate thoughtfulness, deliberate act of giving an encouragement, deliberate blah blah blah blah blah. Actions that are thought about. The world can sometimes be too reckless, I wonder how a tiny-small-irrelevant-below par -piece of help (from a girl who likes pink) can change someone else’s world. If it even matters! Whatever, surely it is an act of…obedience, I guess!

4. Fourth Section (orange pages) – #Thankfulness

These pages will contain something like “Thank You Lord I have finished this seemingly endless post”. The world is full of itself, sometimes it teaches you to dwell more towards itself. Choosing to be grateful with the little things saves you a lot from worthless things.

So there you go! “So there” is a phrase one uses when she runs out of words to say! So there…I just journaled one of the favorite things I enjoy doing – journaling (if there is such a word). This is #intentional. #Praying that this has somehow encouraged you to study His (Jesus) Word (Bible) and; proved you #teachable to atleast write down the important points learned so that it will not be forgotten, and will be constantly applied. #Thank you for reading! 😊

Paintbrush101: Investing on Curiosity

Painting is one of the most fun activities that can unleash the creative and most imaginative side of a human brain. Unlike calligraphy or any form of art that may define an artist to letters or words, the paintbrush opens a wide space of how an artist can deliver her message.

I am not a painting expert, in fact I am just starting out. But here’s my enthusiasm in sharing every single lesson and skill I get to learn through my Paintbrush 101 blog entries.

The first step to gaining and/or developing a new skill is to put your heart’s desire into action. What do I mean? If you want to learn, you need to get out of bed and start to work things out. Get a good mentor, study good books, buy the materials you need, and start exercising the brush strokes. I started painting and drawing when I was in grade school. My father, who is an art-fanatic, taught me the basics. Because of changes in priorities, I have stopped investing my time on art and spent my years on academics and other extra-curricular activities. Few years later (that was two years ago), cheesy as it may sound, my interest in painting was awaken because of Typhoon Glenda that hit Manila. I couldn’t use my laptop for work because there was no electricity and my roommates and I couldn’t go out because of the strong wind, so we ended up doodling and sketching to entertain ourselves. The storm has passed, and the next thing I know I was at the nearest Fullybooked and spent 300pesos for my first set of art weapons. It’s not as expensive as any national artist might be spending but I think it’s just enough an investment for a starter. I bought 10 colors, a watercolor-pad, and of course a paintbrush.

I was on my first page and I still didn’t know what I wanted to paint so I have let my hands and judgement lead me after seeing a photo of two birds in the art section of the bookstore. For the record, the photo below shows my first painting on my first ever 24sheet, 190 by 270mm watercolor pad. The idea is half-baked but I can give the assurance that the artwork isn’t.

image

Title: Branch out!

I shared this to my friends and they told me it really isn’t bad for a first.  I guess this is one of the things that truly justified my few and selected aggressive moves –that is, investing on curiosity. The curiosity to see how far I can go. This photo kicked-off the next colorful pages of my pad and I can’t wait to share them on my next blogs.

What interests you the most? What keeps you being curious? What is stopping you from pursuing it? 🙂

Hello, it’s another start!

Almost two years have passed since my last entry. Wow, what have I been doing with my life? Now, I am back to typing and what comes with it is a new look for my blog–a white-themed page with a touch of rose. It’s called Sela. 

I had the chance to read through my previous posts and I have seen how my perspectives have changed. It’s been four years since I started blogging about anything. Much have changed. I can tell, perhaps, that it’s not the number of years you have lived to gain wisdom and learn how things work. Sometimes, one circumstance is enough to change us; few words to renew how we think; and maybe, one mistake to teach us to get up from where we have fallen and set our priorities on the right track.

For some reasons, I am back to doing my first love – writing! I am excited to share my thoughts with you and how this temporary life is stretching me to grow. The struggle is real but it is so much fun!

 

Incredible Christian from Tozer’s “The Radical Cross”!

The paradoxical character of a Christian from one side’s perspective, which more likely became A.W. Tozer’s way of telling his readers that: a follower of Jesus Christ is one who knows he is nothing but has everything if he has Jesus. One who sees the he is unlovely and unlovable yet unconditionally loved by an incomparably all-loving God. One who is aware of his unworthiness to be called a “Christian”, but nevertheless confident to call himself one because he knows he has been made worthy only through the blood of Jesus Christ. Nothing to boast about but the love of his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!

(Quick recommendation: Buy the book!)

From “The Radical Cross” by Aiden Wilson Tozer, an excerpt:

The Christian believes that in Christ he has died, yet he is more alive than before and he fully expects to live forever. He walks on earth while seated in heaven and though born on earth he finds that after his conversion he is not at home here. Like the nighthawk, which in the air is the essence of grace and beauty but on the ground is awkward and ugly, so the Christian appears at his best in the heavenly places but does not fit well into the ways of the very society into which he was born.
The Christian soon learns that if he would be victorious as a son of heaven among men on earth he must not follow the common pattern of mankind, but rather the contrary. That he may be safe, he puts himself in jeopardy; he loses his life to save it and is in danger of losing it if he attempts to preserve it. He goes down to get up. If he refuses to go down he is already down, but when he starts down he is on his way up.
He is strongest when he is weakest and weakest when he is strong. Though poor he has the power to make others rich, but when he becomes rich, his ability to enrich others vanishes. He has most after he has given most away and has least when he possesses most.
He may be and often is highest when he feels lowest and most sinless when he is conscious of sin. He is wisest when he knows that he knows not and knows least when he has acquired the greatest amount of knowledge. He sometimes does most by doing nothing and goes furthest when standing still. In heaviness he manages to rejoice and keeps his heart glad even in sorrow.

He believes that he is saved now, nevertheless he expects to be saved later and looks forward joyfully to future salvation. He fears God but is not afraid of Him. In God’s presence he feels overwhelmed and undone, yet there is nowhere he would rather be than in that presence. He knows that he has been cleansed from his sin, yet he is painfully conscious that in his flesh dwells no good thing.
He loves supremely One whom he has never seen, and though himself poor and lowly he talks familiarly with One who is King of all kings and Lord of all Lords, and is aware of no incongruity in so doing. He feels that he is in his own right altogether less than nothing, yet he believes without question that he is the apple of God’s eye and that for him the Eternal Son became flesh and died on the cross of shame.
The Christian is a citizen of heaven and to that sacred citizenship he acknowledges first allegiance; yet he may love his earthly country with that intensity of devotion that caused John Knox to pray, “Oh God, give me Scotland or I die.”
He cheerfully expects before long to enter that bright world above, but he is in no hurry to leave this world and is quite willing to await the summons of his heavenly Father. And he is unable to understand why the critical unbeliever should condemn him for this; it all seems so natural and right in the circumstances that he sees nothing inconsistent about it.” 🙂

“But God commendeth His love toward us,

in that, while we were yet sinners,

Christ died for us” – Romans 5:8

Work-in-Progress: Sometimes, all you need to do is say “yes”!

Cuteness overload, spontaneous minds, and energy-level unsurpassed: these words are not enough to describe what happens inside a classroom of ages 2-6. After two Sundays of assisting at Sunday School, I finally got to teach at pre-school yesterday.

The kids were pretty responsive and behaved, not quite the kind of pretty-chaos which I imagined. I have observed for two meet ups, and I encountered different kinds of behavior and personalities. The lady-likes, the hyper and energetic, the super competitive, the gentle ones, and the shy types — all cute and lovable.

I used to sit at the back with my newly found 2-year-old-best-friend named Jeune. She is seated at the back, waits until the praise and worship songs start to play. Her favorite song is “One Way Jesus” which has cowboys/cowgirls singing and dancing at the video’s background. As much as I could notice, she just sits at class and gets her eyes fixed at the monitor, until the favorite songs begin to play. She could not talk yet (I guess), so she communicates by pointing at things. For example, when she wants to dance, she points at her left fingers like doing a counting gesture, and from there I figured that pertains to the countdown which Sunday School does before kids praise begins. When I was attending to the other kids, I glanced at her and asked if she wanted to come near me. She smiles and points at me, so I guess that meant she wanted to sit at my lap. She did. When I asked for her name the first time I talked to her, oh well, guess what? She pointed at her name tag. (Face-palm teacher! In-your-face!)

These things made teaching at Sunday School quite challenging. Attention and Communication. Getting their ears and your message get across. How do you get the kids attention, while literally maintaining the peace and order around? How do you get the kids to bear their teacher’s best effort to explain what “honor”, or “idolatry”, or “peace offering in the old testament” means in a way that a 3-year-old-kid can understand? So yes, I had to be emotionally, spiritually, and physically ready. Spiritually ready to have the lesson first ministered to me, before I could share it with children. Emotionally ready in case I get softly snubbed at and toddler-zoned by the adorable kids who have attention span that can only last for the next three minutes. And, physically ready to sing and dance the morning off with children who seem to never ran out of energy in the body.

So I have imagined myself standing at the middle of the classroom, surrounded by little boys and girls, running around, too carefree to care, and too energetic to give some quite seat time with a first-timer Sunday School teacher. But I was, somehow at some point, proven wrong. Behind the angelic smiles and strong personalities of the bully-looking, are hearts so pure and so innocent. Hearts who recognize that they do (and need to) love Jesus above all else. I was talking with one of the girls. She was showing me all that her mom has bought for her. I asked, “Your mom loves you so much. Is she your best friend?” She said “No”. I asked, “Who then?”. She answered “Jesus. I talk to Him”. I was surprised and humbled. “What did Jesus tell you?”. She answered, “that He died for our sins”. I could not be more blessed with this 4-year old girl. I asked if she considers her mom her best friend because of the material things provided to her, but her answer reflected the most important thing which the world should be grateful for: Jesus Christ, who gave us the gift of eternal life, which no human being can ever give you. Wow! Teacher learned from baby girl!

Praise God for that day! It was a privilege to have served my Master by serving His dearly loved children. It’s a joy for an unworthy servant like me, who has only been qualified by His grace alone. I did not only teach, but I also learned! 

A beloved sister of mine once said, “Sometimes, all you need to do is ‘say yes’”. And so, I realized. The only thing I did was to say “yes”! Regardless of the forecast busy schedule at work and the fact that I am not a pre-school teacher. I said “yes” out of my desire to enjoy the company of little kids. I said “yes” even though I think I was not prepared enough. I said “yes” because I know it’s God’s work, and I was just an instrument to fulfill His purpose. I said “yes” even if it means saying “no” to reading a favorite book, or watching an episode of a favorite soap opera because I had to study the lesson plan instead. I said “yes” even if at that moment, I did not yet see that saying “yes” to teaching those kids also meant saying “yes” to the overflowing joy brought about from an incomprehensible 1 hour and 30 minutes pre-school teaching experience; when I did not know that saying “yes” to first time experience, meant saying “yes” for more things to learn and look forward to from that one-baby-step I took.

This is God’s Word to the people whom He has called to rebuild the temple in the book of Haggai:

“But now be strong, Zerubbabel,’ declares the LORD. ‘Be strong, Joshua son of Jozadak, the high priest. Be strong, all you people of the land,’ declares the LORD, ‘and work. For I am with you,’ declares the LORD Almighty.” – Haggai 2:4

Rise up and Walk

“1 Now Peter and John were going up to the temple at the hour of prayer, the ninth hour.

2 And a man lame from birth was being carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple that is called the Beautiful Gate to ask alms of those entering the temple.

3 Seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple, he asked to receive alms.

4 And Peter directed his gaze at him, as did John, and said, “Look at us.”

5 And he fixed his attention on them, expecting to receive something from them.

6 But Peter said, “I have no silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk!” 7 And he took him by the right hand and raised him up,

 and immediately his feet and ankles were made strong.

8 And leaping up he stood and began to walk, and entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God. 9 And all the people saw him walking and praising God,

10 and recognized him as the one who sat at the Beautiful Gate of the temple, asking for alms. And they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.” – Acts3:1-10

Imagine the life of this man – he is being carried daily to be put at the temple to beg (v2) which has been his case ever since he was born. What do you think would this man’s response be if you ever dare ask him about his condition? Will there be a message of hopelessness or hope? Will there be a sign of discontent or acceptance?

I was studying this chapter, and there were so many beautiful thoughts that the Lord has revealed to me about Himself. Whether seeing the story in the beggar’s point of view, Peter /John’s, or the reader’s, there is one message, among many awesome others, which stood out: It’s all about God. 🙂

Let’s first focus on the healing of the lame man. What an awesome God we have to give the beggar more than what he asked for. The man extended his hands to receive alms in order to survive yet another day, but God gave him life instead when, through Peter and John, he was healed that he may walk, live, and praise the Lord (v9a).

What does this story speak to us today?  

1. On getting healed and moving forward – a reader’s point of view.

When the power of the Lord touches us, the change will be very visible (v9a).  This is not just on the physical aspect, but on the spiritual aspect most importantly. One of my favorite authors once wrote, that when one person encounters Jesus Christ, it will be very impossible for that person’s life to be left unchanged.  Just like how the people saw the lame man already walking and praising God (v9a), a person who has truly encountered Jesus Christ will have its fruits flourish before everyone’s eyes.

When the Lord pours His spiritual healing to His chosen ones, we will see the unbeliever believe in Him. The eyes of those who are spiritually blind will be opened. The rebellious people will acknowledge God.

It will not stop in knowing the truth, in the same way that the story about the lame man does not stop at just getting healed.  The Lord brought healing to the beggar so that he could stand up, live, and bless others – not sit at the temple and continue to live his old life.

Jesus Christ did not die just to save us from the fires of hell, but in order for us to be reconciled to Him. And this reconciliation means walking with Him daily, carrying up our cross, and joyfully following His footsteps.  A person touched by God will not remain stagnant but His power will definitely move His children – to stand up and rise from where we are paralyzed.

Is there an area in our lives that is holding us back and hindering us from moving forward? God does not want us to stay there and just strive to survive.  He wants to rescue us from it so that we can begin to live.  Just as how He rescued us from our sins so we can have eternal life.  Take note of the command.  It says, “Rise up and walk”.  When being able to “rise up” signifies healing from whatever, a command to “walk” speaks of moving forward and pressing on.

2. On pressing on in order to be used as God’s instrument to bless others – the beggar and Peter’s point of view.

Once upon a time, we were like this beggar, who could only be content to ask for alms that will enable us to survive on this earth.  For as long as we can eat, and drink, and have the things which we thought mattered in this life, whether big or small, then we can sleep at night and think we are safe.  If we don’t have much, it means more work for the discontented.

Once upon a time, we may or may not have wondered, is life only about daily survival? We get what we just need for a day, or a week, or a month. We keep ourselves away from danger so we can survive.  Just like the beggar in this chapter who gets his share from temple-goers, enough to keep him breathing for the day. But is life just about that?

Now this. Once upon a time, there were people like Peter and John, whom God used to heal our blindness which disabled us from being who God designed us to be. When the Lord healed us, we saw that there is so much more than this temporary life. It’s called eternal life.  Just like the beggar who has been healed and immediately stood up, lived, and leaped to praise God, we too as Christians, who have received God’s spiritual healing, should not be stagnant but should keep moving forward and pressing on to witness and make Jesus Christ known.  We have been healed, so apart from the natural response of rejoicing about getting healed, I think we owe the world the truth – that we have a God who came to the world to heal the sick (in other words, to forgive the sinners).

The lame man has blessed the world when he uncontrollably and joyfully praised God for being physically healed. Peter has blessed me, when he pointed the world not to himself but to Jesus Christ (v16) when the world did not understand that it was God who healed the man, and not Peter nor John.

One day, the Lord brought a “Peter” into our lives, so that we will know Jesus Christ. We can also be a Peter in someone else’s life by sharing Jesus Christ to them. Not silver nor gold, but Jesus Christ – the eternal life.

Filipinos Return to Leyte, Afraid of What They Will Find

“He who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep” -Psalm121:4

It is very devastating to see people hurting over lost loved ones; crying for survival; and asking how to even start over and move on from this disaster. 😥

These I know: that we have a God, who is not only a Builder and Maker of all things, but that He is also a God who brings restoration to His people. He does not only heal, but He also binds up wounds.

Putting all my hopes to the Lord!And praying for everyone who were affected by Yolanda!

Lord! Please heal our land! ♥

World

It’s quite likely that the ticket office of Roble Shipping in Cebu has always been a gloomy sort of place. Fluorescent lights, inefficient air conditioners, lines that never move. In one corner, a bored girl declaims queue numbers into a mike with the reverb turned up full, as though she were in a netherworld karaoke bar.

These days, however, the room isn’t merely gloomy. It’s suffused in gutting, personal tragedy.

A courier in a brown UPS uniform, his eyes all red from crying, leans over the backrest of the chair in front of him, and joins his hands in prayer.

Another man with a tale of survival gesticulates wildly, showing how the water rose and gushed around him.

Everyone here is trying to buy a ferry ticket to Leyte, where Supertyphoon Haiyan — known in the Philippines as Yolanda — did its worst.

(MORE:For Filipinos Overseas, a Desperate…

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The 24-hour Psychological Clock and Beyond: My Wildest Attempt to Define “Time”

Try to imagine how people are so bounded by time. We get up in the morning and rush ourselves to our first activity of the day. Take a bath; eat bread/cookies; brush our teeth; read a book or perhaps the latest news. In whatever ways we start and end our day, we all are certain to squeeze in all activities in our 24-hour psychological time.

So what is it about this vast word? I close my eyes and think of how every person relates to time. Metaphorically speaking, I see a bunch of individuals walking in different pace.  If one stops moving, he could be left behind. If one runs too fast, he might miss a lot.

In my wildest attempt to define it, here’s my opinion about what we usually hear on this subject.

1. Time matters. I agree.

Time is not something I own until today has been given. Every second lost is either a misplaced gram of gold or a locked-out treasured piece of it. It can only be savored but it can never be restored. We are all blessed with time, but it is something we can only use once it has been given. It is given once. It cannot co-exist. If you missed to use a second of it, you lose that chance forever.

2. Time heals all wounds. I disagree.

Does time heal all wounds? No. But as we run with time, we move away from the memories that killed us. It does not heal but it only makes us forget what used to consume us in that point of time. So we find ourselves in the middle of two realities: The reality of the past and the reality of the present. So time never heals. It only makes us cross over one reality from another, and on that sense, acceptance is what we need to get across.

3. There is a right time for everything. I agree.

The first reason why I agree on this is because that is written in the Bible. The definition of the word “right” in this verse is an appointed time, and not “right” as opposed to “wrong”.  A time has been set for every activity on earth. The second reason has something to do with beliefs and priorities. (I should right another blog for this)

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FYI, I did not spend my entire life trying to define this noise that ticks relentlessly in the head. But getting triggered by Tozer’s idea of it, I saw how many of us have been affected by our view on this topic. It is psychological, that it could dictate our actions.

Do you know that God is not concerned with time?  I learned from Tozer that unlike humans, God does not run with time. I quote, “God has no yesterdays and no tomorrows. He can’t have yesterdays and tomorrows, because yesterday is time and tomorrow is time, but God surrounds it all and God has already lived tomorrow.” 

When the Bible said, “Jesus Christ is the same, yesterday, today, and tomorrow”, it was referring to our today, our yesterday, and our tomorrow, and not His.

Is it not a wonderfully liberating thought? God is so powerful that nothing can control Him; and on that matter, do I need to mention that He is in control of everything? So just when we think it’s too late, or too early, and things become hopeless in our watch, that is never the case when it comes to God. (Insert a big-wonderfully-amazed smiley)

So what if God is not bounded by time and has lived our past, present, and future? I am trying to grasp; that while I imagine people to be inside the box of time, the Lord has, once again amazed me with His power magnified by how He shows Himself to be above everything. Even over a thing which I thought has controlled me.

*****

Now the questions are: How are we using this limited human resource? Where are we investing it? How do you define time? 🙂

 

What If (Part 2)

Chris Martin Writes

What if we stopped giving our opinion and started giving our time.

What if we actually became the person we portray on social media.

What if we stopped protesting everything and started leading by example.

What if we made time for God as much as we make time for TV, eating out, and our smart phones.

What if we stepped off the sidelines and entered the game.

What if we became intentional and stopped allowing other people to raise our children.

What if we opened our stained glass church doors to the beggars, homeless, drug addicts, prostitutes, poor, needy, dirty, smelly, loud, disabled, hungry, and rejected.

What if we truly gave to those who could never pay us back.

What if we stopped walking past the smile on the outside and took the time to notice the hurting, broken heart inside.

What if we said “I love you” instead of…

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